Sunday Reading – 01/24/16

The following links are just news items and opinions that pass my desk throughout the week. I don’t necessarily support or advocate any of the items, they are just interesting reads.

The Self-Driving Car Conundrum – …The auto companies are all looking into self-driving cars, though, in case it becomes the primary direction of transportation, which is a foregone conclusion. Toyota could probably put one on the road now. All the German companies are working furiously, as is Detroit…out of fear.

What these car companies should be spending their money on is a team of lobbyists and public relations operators to stifle, forestall, or kill the self-driving car. There is no future for the automakers as we know them in a world of self-driving cars.

For one thing, it’s folly to think that in a world of self-driving cars anyone would want to own a car. What would be the point when you can call up a ride and save money on gasoline and parking? Since you do not own a car in the first place, all your insurance costs, maintenance, and car payments are now zero.

But what happens to car sales when all vehicles are part of what amounts to a large ride-sharing fleet? What’s the point of designing something special or unique? It will be a world of stripped-down, gray Corollas everywhere.

…Luckily for the car companies, there are forces at work to derail the self-driving before it starts. The general public is only now becoming aware of the native implications of autonomous cars. Federal, state, and local governments will feel the impact the most via lost revenue. Parking fees, parking tickets, road taxes, speeding, and traffic tickets, parking lot taxes, license fees, car sales taxes—all will be reduced or completely eliminated. In San Francisco, for example, the parking meter plus ticket revenue is estimated at $130 million. Read More > at PC Magazine

The coming avalanche of autistic adults: Column – …As the number of autistic children grows, so does the number of autistic adults. Their needs remain much the same as they age, yet the support they once received fades. Though families like mine are feeling it most acutely, this is an issue for everyone to consider. The tsunami of adults with autism is coming.

Programs for autistic adults vary from state to state and community to community, depending on when they were diagnosed and whether they are “high” or “low” functioning. But there is widespread agreement that there simply are not enough providers and options. The needs of adults with autism “far exceed the available resources, leaving a generation of individuals with autism and their families in programmatic, financial and personal limbo,” researchers Peter Gerhardt and Ilene Lainer wrote in 2010, and that remains the case.

… One of our biggest challenges is finding affordable, supportive housing. A quality residential program costs more per year than sending your child to Stanford. Imagine paying $50,000 or more annually for the rest of your son’s or daughter’s life, with no graduation ceremony in sight. Read More > in USA Today

The Annual Performance Review Is Insulting, Ineffective, and Outdated. Let It Die. – One of the last sacred cows in businesses—from startup to mature organizations—is the ineffective, poorly timed annual performance appraisal. It’s hated by both employees and managers. The process creates fear and is demotivating. According to Society for Human Resource Management, 95 percent of employees are dissatisfied with their company’s appraisal process. What’s more, 90 percent don’t believe the process provides accurate information.

How can such a critical part of employment become such a meaningless task? In a new e-book about replacing the performance appraisal from 15Five’s CEO, David Hassell, explains that its roots date back to the 1900s when employees were treated as replaceable cogs in the business wheel. Labor was viewed as a nuisance needed to achieve business outcomes. The original performance appraisal was a management tool intended to control workers “too stupid to understand what they were doing.”

It is time that we all agree that we need to, for once and for all, kill the annual performance appraisal.

The insulting perspective about people that initiated the now defunct management tool is no longer relevant. Today’s knowledge workers expect autonomy, purpose, and mastery to be part of their work life, according to Hassell: “These are table stakes [for any leader] to motivate people intrinsically.” Hassell believes that the “table stakes” are what inspire passion in employees, bringing out their talents and strengths. When employees are treated as cogs in the corporate machinery, their talents and strengths are barely used or often go undiscovered. Business results are mediocre.

“The concept of manager as boss is antiquated,” Hassell says emphatically. Today’s leaders need to be coaches. The startup CEO goes on to explain that today’s leaders need to understand each person’s skill and morale levels, and goals. The leader’s role today is to unlock people’s potential. It’s not to control people. Read More > at Slate

California Cops Frustrated With ‘Catch-And-Release’ Crime-Fighting – An experiment has been underway in California since November 2014, when voters approved Proposition 47: put fewer lawbreakers in jail without increasing crime. The measure converted a list of nonviolent felonies into misdemeanors, which translated into little or no jail time for crimes such as low-value theft and possession of hard drugs.

Police didn’t like Prop 47 when it was on the ballot, and now many are convinced they were right to oppose it.

In Huntington Beach, a seaside city in Orange County, Officer Brad Smith says Prop 47 means more drug addicts are out, living on the street. He pulls his patrol car up behind a case in point — a silver Volvo that serves as the home of two young heroin addicts. The officer seems to have a cordial relationship with them, even though he arrested them a few weeks earlier.

“We found heroin in the car,” Smith says. “We also found stolen property from three or four victims.”

The couple say the stolen property was stashed in their car by an acquaintance. Still, the presence of heroin and stolen property would have been enough for felony charges — before Prop 47. Not anymore.

“We booked them to our jail, and they were released before my partner and I finished our report,” Smith says.

In some California jurisdictions, police aren’t even bothering with the booking. They’ll issue citations, along with a court date, and let people go — something some cops derisively call “catch and release.” Read More > at NPR

San Francisco Nudges Homeless Away From Super Bowl Fan Village – When a million people descend on San Francisco later this month to revel in Super Bowl festivities, they can see a performance by Alicia Keys, a fireworks display and art by local artists. What they won’t see much of are hordes of homeless people.

In recent weeks, San Francisco has dispatched workers to the scenic Embarcadero to provide them with help finding shelter somewhere besides the future site of Super Bowl City. The free fan village will feature concerts, interactive games and player appearances at the foot of Market Street across from the Ferry Building, and will be among the main images broadcast of San Francisco. If the city’s plan succeeds, the homeless will head to shelters where they can connect with social services.

“When a lot of cameras are going to be pointed on the city, they want to have an image of the city that does not include poverty,” said Jennifer Friedenbach, executive director at the San Francisco-based Coalition on Homelessness. “They want to decrease the physical presence and reminder of poverty and create an illusion that poverty does not exist by removing poor people from the vicinity of the Super Bowl party.”

Homelessness in San Francisco is a persistent problem that’s worsened as a technology boom drawing thousands of well-paid workers has inflated housing costs to some of the highest in the U.S. The city now has the eighth-worst homeless rate in the nation and is fielding a growing number of complaints about encampments, shopping carts, feces and urine. Read More > at Bloomberg

Audit: Vegas cabs overcharging public by $47 million a year – If the cash you doled out for a Las Vegas cab ride hurt your wallet, it’s not all in your head — auditors in Nevada also think taxi rates are outrageous.

Las Vegas-area cabs are overcharging customers to the tune of $47 million a year, according to an audit released Tuesday of the Nevada Taxicab Authority, which regulates the rides in Clark County.

Auditors for the governor’s finance office blamed a $3 credit card processing fee that they say is much higher than in other cities and probably shouldn’t exist. They also criticized a decision to increase a fuel surcharge even as gas prices are tanking, saying having the surcharge at all is unique among the 12 major Western cities that the taxi board tracks.

The criticism comes a few months after ride-hailing companies Uber and Lyft started operating in Nevada with promises of cheaper and more convenient rides. The taxi industry, which makes big bucks taking tourists on a 5-mile trip from the airport to the Strip, fought hard against allowing the companies before losing its battle in the Legislature last spring.

The audit panned the fee, saying it far exceeds the cost of cab companies accepting cards. State agencies pay 8.5 cents to Wells Fargo per credit card transaction, auditors said, and taxicab regulatory agencies in other cities allow fees between 3.8 percent and 5 percent of the total fare.

The $3 fee accounts for about 17 percent of the total average cab fare in Clark County and should be immediately reduced to 90 cents at most or halted altogether, auditors said. Read More > in the Associated Press

In Search of the Next Theodore Roosevelt – When Theodore Roosevelt died this week in 1919, Vice President Thomas Riley Marshall commented, “Death had to take him in his asleep. If Roosevelt had been alive, there would have been a fight.”

TR was what we might call a “Renaissance Man” and one of the most unique presidents in our history. Yet his uniqueness eludes us. For Lincoln, highly revered by TR for his very nature, not just his attainments; and as with TR’s fifth cousin Franklin D. Roosevelt, the presidency was the pinnacle of their careers. For Theodore Roosevelt, however, the presidency was only one detail of his busy life, his always-crowded hours.

Another unique aspect of TR eludes us. Many of history’s “Renaissance” figures — those of multiple achievements and broad visions — tend to be defined by their field, or several fields, of specialty. But Roosevelt was an American first, an American last, proudest to be called American. We can think of history’s other polymaths who are known by their fields of expertise but not, primarily, their citizenship. Indeed we may find some exceptions in history, but none would be more assertive about identifying with his or her nation than Theodore Roosevelt was.

TR was author of more than 40 books; rancher and cowboy; respected naturalist; historian; reformer; police commissioner; Assistant Secretary of the Navy; Rough Rider, Colonel in the Spanish-American War’s most important engagements; Governor of New York; Vice President; President; African hunter-naturalist; explorer of a major, unknown Brazilian river; shadow president, in effect, before and during World War I; and so forth.

But to TR, “American” was the noblest title he could claim. Read More > at Real Clear Religion

7 Numbers That Put This Market Madness In Perspective – If you’ve been paying attention to the frantic stock market headlines—or doing your best to ignore them—you know about the recent carnage on Wall Street.

Both the Dow Jones industrial average and Standard & Poor’s 500 index were down more than 9% so far this year when trading began today. And both major U.S. stock indexes were off around 13% from their May 2015 highs, which means that domestic equities are officially in a “correction,” defined as a loss of at least 10%.

But here are some important numbers that may be less familiar—and can help you put the market’s wild gyrations into perspective.

This is the level that the Dow Jones industrial average would have to fall below to trigger an official bear market, which is defined as a drop of 20% or more. As of Wednesday’s close, the Dow stood at 15,766.

The last time the Dow traded below 14,650 was in 2013, when the economy was still working through the aftermath of the global financial crisis.

This is the level the S&P 500 would have to sink to for it to be snared by the bear. The benchmark index closed on Wednesday at 1,859. The last time the S&P 500 fell to these levels was in 2014. Read More > at Money

Audit the California High Speed Rail Authority – The California High Speed Rail Authority (CSHRA) once again opposes oversight of its actions. On Tuesday the Joint Legislative Audit Committee (JLAC) held a hearing on the request by State Senator Andy Vidak to have the State Auditor conduct an audit of the Authority’s activities.

The Committee on a strictly party line vote denied the request. The request was triggered by the explosive Sunday, Oct 25th LA Times article, which disclosed a previously un-disclosed report by the Authority’s contractor, Parson Brinkerhoff (PB). The report projected a $9 billion increase in construction costs of the initial Merced to Burbank segment. (The article also disclosed from interviews with experts, that time lines, and budget targets would not be met)

The Times article, authored by Ralph Vartabedian, noted the cost increase report was delivered months before the 2014 business plan was released. The 2014 business plan did not include the projected $9 billion cost increase and instead continued to use cost projections from the 2012 business plan. Read More > at Fox and Hounds

Water-starved Lake Oroville rises dramatic 20 feet in six days – El Niño is officially here, and the recent soakings walloping Northern California are recharging California’s drought-ravaged reservoirs with water.

Folsom Lake east of Sacramento rose 44 feet in the last month, and even more impressive, the elevation at Lake Oroville shot up a dramatic 20 feet in only six days.

“This isn’t entirely unusual, but it doesn’t happen every day,” said Kevin Wright, the California Department of Water Resources Oroville Field Division’s water services supervisor. “We haven’t seen the water level rise like this since we’ve had the drought over the past approximately four years.”

Lake Oroville, the second-largest manmade reservoir in California after Shasta, registered its lowest elevation ever at 645 feet above sea level on Sept. 7, 1977. Last year, on Dec. 9, the lake came close to this record, dipping down to 649 feet. But the recent storms are replenishing the lake, and the elevation on Jan. 19 was 694 feet. Read More > in the San Francisco Chronicle

How to View Five Planets Aligning in a Celestial Spectacle – Five planets paraded across the dawn sky early Wednesday in a rare celestial spectacle set to repeat every morning until late next month.

Headlining the planetary performance are Mercury, Venus, Mars, Saturn and Jupiter. It is the first time in more than a decade that the fab five are simultaneously visible to the naked eye, according to Jason Kendall, who is on the board of the Amateur Astronomers Association of New York.

Admission to the daily show is free, though stargazers in the Northern Hemisphere should plan to get up about 45 minutes before sunrise to catch it. City dwellers can stay in their neighborhoods to watch, as long as they point their attention to the east,

…“For Mercury you will need binoculars,” he said. “It will not jump out at you, but everybody should be able to see Venus and Jupiter.”

He said that Mercury, which was too low to see clearly, will most likely become more visible on Feb. 5 or 6 when it is at its greatest distance from the sun along the horizon. The hardest task for viewers is discerning the planets from stars twinkling in the sky. But Mr. Kendall offered a simple trick: close one eye, stretch out your arm and slowly pass your thumb over a bright dot in the sky. If the dot slowly dims out when your thumb passes over it, it’s a planet. If it quickly blinks out, it’s a distant star. Read More > in The New York Times

Uber Is Testing an On-Demand Helicopter Service – Airbus Group has partnered with Uber to offer an on-demand helicopter service.

The European airplane manufacturer will be providing Uber with Airbus H125 and H130 helicopters. The new collaboration is being tested at the Sundance Film Festival this week in Utah, according to the Wall Street Journal. “It’s a pilot project,” Airbus chief executive Tom Enders told the publication in an interview, “We’ll see where it goes—but it’s pretty exciting.”

Uber has been expanding to incorporate forms of transportation aside from its regular car service, including rickshaws and boats in some countries, and this won’t be the first time the company experiments with helicopters. Read More > at Fortune

Automated strike zone an improvement baseball needs – Implement automated strike zones.

Computer systems, rather than umpires, identifying the location of balls and strikes is hardly a new concept and actually one of the easier changes to implement. QuesTec, the original company involved in automatic pitch data collection, was working on this issue 20 years ago, with the first QuesTec stadiums going live in 2001… While you still need the home plate ump for a number of judgment calls, the information detailing whether a ball is in the strike zone can be relayed to the ump within the blink of an eye.

One of the most important aspects of any sport is that everybody plays by the same rules. And one thing that’s clear is that in baseball, not everybody has the same strike zone. While a checked swing is a judgment call, where a pitch is actually located is not. We know for a fact that different umpires have different strike zones and that home plate umpires are more or less likely to call a pitch a strike depending on the specific situation. We even have, in recent years, new tools that track how good catchers are at framing pitches. That we have data for how well a catcher can get strikes properly called (or successfully get strikes that are unproperly called) just boggles the mind. Can you imagine if the NFL had stats on how often a running back tricked the refs into thinking he was down by contact before fumbling the football? Read More > at ESPN

American Homes Are Filled With Bugs – Aside from pets, family members, or roommates, many of us often go weeks without seeing another living thing in our homes. But appearances can be deceiving. We are, in fact, surrounded by arthropods—insects, spiders, centipedes, and other animals with hard external skeletons and jointed legs. They are the most successful animals on the planet, and the walls that shield our homes to the elements are no barriers to them.

In the first systematic census of its kind, a team of entomologists combed through 50 American houses for every arthropod they could find, and discovered a startling amount of diversity. Each home had between 32 and 211 species, belonging to between 24 and 128 families. Most are not pests. Many were found everywhere, and yet are so obscure that only keen naturalists know about them. These bugs are our closest creaturely neighbors, and we barely register their existence.

These tenants are inconspicuous because they’re very good at hiding in pieces of furniture, and tend to be very small. Common residents like book lice, springtails, and carpet beetle larvae are just a millimeter long, if that. “You don’t have a giant scarab beetle living under your TV,” says Bertone, reassuringly.

The most common arthropod groups, found in all or almost all the homes, included usual suspects, like cobweb spiders, ants, and carpet beetles. There were also more obscure groups like the book lice (wingless, harmless, fungus-eating relatives of parasitic lice), gall midges (creators of tumor-like swellings in plants), and the dark-winged fungus gnats (er, dark-winged gnats that eat fungus). The gall midges turned up in every house, but they’re not even mentioned among the 2,000 species listed in a recent handbook of urban arthropods. Read More > in The Atlantic

Tech’s ‘Frightful 5’ Will Dominate Digital Life for Foreseeable Future – …There are currently four undisputed rulers of the consumer technology industry: Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google, now a unit of a parent company called Alphabet. And there’s one more, Microsoft, whose influence once looked on the wane, but which is now rebounding.

So which of these five is losing? A year ago, it was Google that looked to be in a tough spot as its ad business appeared more vulnerable to Facebook’s rise. Now, Google is looking up, and it’s Apple, hit by rising worries about a slowdown in iPhone sales, that may be headed for some pain. Over the next couple of weeks, as these companies issue earnings that show how they finished 2015, the state of play may shift once more.

But don’t expect it to shift much. Asking “who’s losing?” misses a larger truth about how thoroughly Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Google and Microsoft now lord over all that happens in tech.

…But for much of the last half-decade, most of these five giants have enjoyed a remarkable reprieve from the boogeymen in the garage. And you can bet on them continuing to win. So I’m coining them the Frightful Five.

It’s not just because I’m a Tarantino fan. By just about every measure worth collecting, these five American consumer technology companies are getting larger, more entrenched in their own sectors, more powerful in new sectors and better insulated against surprising competition from upstarts.

…Mr. Parker notes the Big Five’s power does not necessarily prevent newer tech companies from becoming huge. Uber might upend the transportation industry, Airbnb could rule hospitality, and as I argued last week, Netflix is bent on consuming the entertainment business. But if such new giants do come along, they’re likely to stand alongside today’s Big Five, not replace them.

Indeed, the Frightful Five are so well-protected against start-ups that in most scenarios, the rise of new companies only solidifies their lead.

…This gets to the core of the Frightful Five’s indomitability. They have each built several enormous technologies that are central to just about everything we do with computers. In tech jargon, they own many of the world’s most valuable “platforms” — the basic building blocks on which every other business, even would-be competitors, depend. Read More > in The New York Times

Only On AP: Oldest Christian monastery in Iraq is razed – The oldest Christian monastery in Iraq has been reduced to a field of rubble, yet another victim of the Islamic State group’s relentless destruction of ancient cultural sites.

For 1,400 years the compound survived assaults by nature and man, standing as a place of worship recently for U.S. troops. In earlier centuries, generations of monks tucked candles in the niches and prayed in the cool chapel. The Greek letters chi and rho, representing the first two letters of Christ’s name, were carved near the entrance.

Now satellite photos obtained exclusively by The Associated Press confirm the worst fears of church authorities and preservationists — St. Elijah’s Monastery of Mosul has been completely wiped out.

In his office in exile in Irbil, Iraq, the Rev. Paul Thabit Habib, 39, stared quietly at before- and after-images of the monastery that once perched on a hillside above his hometown of Mosul. Shaken, he flipped back to his own photos for comparison.

“I can’t describe my sadness,” he said in Arabic. “Our Christian history in Mosul is being barbarically leveled. We see it as an attempt to expel us from Iraq, eliminating and finishing our existence in this land.”

The Islamic State group, which broke from al-Qaida and now controls large parts of Iraq and Syria, has killed thousands of civilians and forced out hundreds of thousands of Christians, threatening a religion that has endured in the region for 2,000 years. Along the way, its fighters have destroyed buildings and ruined historical and culturally significant structures they consider contrary to their interpretation of Islam. Read More > in The Washington Post

Somebody keeps cutting the Bay Area’s fiber-optic cables, and the FBI wonders why – There have been 15 unsolved incidents of severed fiber-optic cables in the San Francisco Bay Area since 2014, leading to Internet outages and slower connections in Northern California. Investigators suspect crews dressed as maintenance workers have been lifting manhole covers at key sites and vandalizing underground equipment.

The last cable severing in September at an AT&T conduit in Mendocino disrupted seven 911 call centers.

Not only that, the literal cable cutters have technical knowledge on places to hit and how to cause damage (in addition to the physical ability to lift all those manhole covers).

Federal and local investigators have been stymied by why anyone would down the networks.

But now, a report by NBC News4 in Washington, D.C., indicates that the FBI and Homeland Security officials are speculating that the attacks may have been used to “prod and test” the internet networks in advance of a larger plot against the Super Bowl, to be played in Santa Clara on Feb. 7. Read More > in the San Francisco Business Times

Why you may want to include password retrieval instructions in your will – …Google and Facebook have mechanisms in place to grant your loved ones access to your accounts in case you die, but there are thousands of other services that don’t.

Plus, you might also use crucial apps that your family may not be aware of but could need access to, such as phone and internet services tied to your credit card.

Without a comprehensive overview of the accounts you’ve registered, family members may be at risk of being locked out of your digital assets or being charged for services they don’t use.

Naturally, legislation that mandates that service providers allow you to access your late relatives’ accounts might be helpful in this regard.

But until then, you’re probably better off leaving instructions in your will about how to retrieve your passwords, says Daniel Nelson, a Toronto estate lawyer who specializes in digital assets. Read More > at The Next Web

Why No Smart City Would Want the NFL

Dan Walters: State’s big housing dilemma – Since 2010, the state’s population has risen by 1.8 million to 39 million human beings who live – most of them, anyway – in 14 million units of housing of all types.

That translates into an average of 2.78 persons per dwelling, implying that since 2010, we’ve needed about 650,000 new units to keep pace with population growth, or about 130,000 a year.

However, the Great Recession clobbered housing construction, which fell to as low as 44,000 units in 2010 and has averaged only 70,000 a year during the decade so far, half the demand.

Housing production has since climbed to 100,000 a year, but even at that level, it’s just three-quarters of what’s needed – not counting the backlog shortage of 300,000-plus units just since 2010.

The result is a severe squeeze, particularly acute in major metropolitan areas, that has pushed housing costs sky-high, especially rents and especially in the Los Angeles and San Francisco Bay Area metropolitan regions.

…Housing costs are, according to the Census Bureau and the Public Policy Institute of California, the major factor in the state having the nation’s highest level of functional poverty.

Nearly a quarter of Californians – 9 million people – are living in poverty by the Census Bureau’s alternative measure. PPIC studies have found high poverty rates even in high-income communities because of astronomical housing costs.

Politicians profess to be concerned about California’s housing squeeze, but their proposals tend to be symbolic at best, adding perhaps a few thousand units to deal with a problem that’s exponentially more severe. Read More > in The Sacramento Bee

No food is healthy. Not even kale. – …We are told by everyone, from doctors and nutritionists to food magazines and newspapers, to eat healthy food. We take for granted that a kale salad is healthy and that a Big Mac with fries is not.

I submit to you that our beloved kale salads are not “healthy.” And we are confusing ourselves by believing that they are. They are not healthy; they are nutritious. They may be delicious when prepared well, and the kale itself, while in the ground, may have been a healthy crop. But the kale on your plate is not healthy, and to describe it as such obscures what is most important about that kale salad: that it’s packed with nutrients your body needs. But this is not strictly about nomenclature. If all you ate was kale, you would become sick. Nomenclature rather shows us where to begin.

“ ‘Healthy’ is a bankrupt word,” Roxanne Sukol, preventive medicine specialist at the Cleveland Clinic, medical director of its Wellness Enterprise and a nutrition autodidact (“They didn’t teach us anything about nutrition in medical school”), told me as we strolled the aisles of a grocery store. “Our food isn’t healthy. We are healthy. Our food is nutritious. I’m all about the words. Words are the key to giving people the tools they need to figure out what to eat. Everyone’s so confused.”

…Here is a word we think we understand: protein. Protein is good, yes? Builds strong muscles, has positive health connotations. That’s why “protein shakes” are a multibillion-dollar business. Pork cracklings do not have positive health connotations because we think of them as having a high fat content. But pork cracklings are little more than strips of fried pig skin. Skin is one of the many forms of connective tissue in all animal bodies and is composed almost entirely of protein, typically undergirded by a layer of fat. When these strips of pig skin are fried, most of the fat is rendered out and the connective tissue puffs, resulting in a delectable, crunchy, salty crackling. I therefore recommend them to you as a “protein snack” during your on-the-go day.

Given the infinitely malleable language of food, it’s no wonder American food shoppers are confused. Read More > in The Washington Post

Fund manager who’s been right on oil has a depressing new prediction – …Although Driscoll thinks crude oil will slip into the low- to mid-$20s within six months it ultimately could go lower as we spend the next decade digging out of a secular bear market in commodities and oil.

Why? Oil’s oversupply is profound and will last for at least two years, he said, and too many industry people still are in denial.

The oversupply, of course, stems from Saudi Arabia’s efforts to keep pumping to preserve market share from U.S. shale producers and other countries like Russia and Iran, which is chomping at the bit to free itself from international sanctions so it can pump oil again — at any price.

Given current demand — and without new Iranian production — “our model is saying we’re still oversupplied a million barrels a day in ’16,” said the manager of the $2.7 billion New Era mutual fund PRNEX -2.31% . “Our model for ’17 still shows oversupply with above-trend-line demand and without Iran.”

And the oversupply may be even worse than traders and investors acknowledge, because hundreds of thousands of barrels a day of new production are coming online in places like Brazil and Kazakhstan over the next couple of years. Read More > at Market Watch

Jefferson Staters Keeping Up Fight in California – In Siskiyou County, Calif., the tax base is so small and land area so vast the county’s 44,000 residents have to rely on themselves in an emergency. The county can only afford a slim law-enforcement presence, so if there’s a problem the response time may be “basically never,” explains Mark Baird, a rancher and retired deputy sheriff who met with me in a Sacramento coffee shop last Wednesday.

Yet, he pointed out, Senate President Pro Tempore Kevin de Leon (D-Los Angeles) just announced his support for more expansive gun-control measures. That disconnect between rural residents, who rely on their guns for self protection, and the more urban-oriented priorities at the Capitol, is an example of why he drove to the Capitol this week.

…Baird and Fort Jones Mayor Tom McCulley explained to me some of their frustrations. Their towns used to be thriving rural communities, but state and federal environmental policies dried up economic opportunities in logging, farming, energy development and mining. Now, McCulley said, the top employers in the county are county, state and federal government. Their kids are moving away and not coming back because of a lack of opportunity.

…Those counties that would be part of the new state tend to have some of the lowest populations in California. Colusa has around 21,000 people. Sierra has 3,000 and Trinity has nearly 14,000 people. Those are rounding errors in most Southern California cities. Obviously, it’s hard to get much attention to their concerns in a Legislature dominated by representatives from counties with millions of people.

…A large portion of residents in a region that encompasses around 30 percent of the state’s land mass are so frustrated they want to create a new state. That’s the sign of a problem. California’s legislators and governor—who has a family ranch in Colusa County and who has been quoted saying that he’d like to convince Jefferson activists to “stick around”—ought to take their concerns more seriously. Read More > at Reason

Ohio, California Teachers Ready to Shoot to Kill – …Anderson Union High School District officials in California understand the intent of Senate Bill 707 that Gov. Jerry Brown (D) signed into law in December. It is intended to keep concealed weapons out of high school and college campuses.

However, by ignoring the intent, and following the letter of the law, these teachers are not only being allowed to carry guns in their classrooms, they are also being encouraged to pack heat.

…Students in Anderson Union High School District in California are not only OK with their teachers carrying guns to class, they told KRCR-TV they felt safer knowing the adults were armed.

Anderson Police Chief Mike Johnson doesn’t get a vote on the school board, so he didn’t share in the decision to arm teachers. But he thinks it is a good idea.

“It is definitely a pro to have people armed, responsible people armed who have been vetted and can actually provide another layer of protection for the kids,” Johnson said. “That’s the bottom line, if it provides more protection for our children, how can you be against it?” Read More > at PJ Media

More people in Europe are dying than are being born – The researchers find that 17 European nations have more people dying in them than are being born (natural decrease), including three of Europe’s more populous nations: Russia, Germany and Italy. In contrast, in the U.S. and in the state of Texas, births exceed deaths by a substantial margin.

“In 2013 in Texas, for example, there were over 387,000 births compared to just over 179,000 deaths,” says Poston. “The only two states in the U.S. with more deaths than births are the coal mining state of West Virginia and the forest product state of Maine.”

The research focuses on the prevalence and dynamics of natural decrease in the counties and county-equivalents of Europe and the United States in the first decade of the 21st century (2000-2009).

Findings reveal that 58 percent of the 1,391 counties of Europe had more deaths than births compared to just 28 percent of the 3,141 counties of the U.S. Read More > at Phys.Org


About Kevin

Mayor - City of Oakley, Data Center Manager of Mainframe Operations and Optimization – USS-POSCO INDUSTRIES, Co-Founder and Board Member - Friends of Oakley A Community Foundation, Advisory Board – Opportunity Junction, Commissioner - Contra Costa Transportation Authority, Board Member - Tri Delta Transit and Transplan
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