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.
As Phoenix sizzles, ‘urban island’ phenomenon compounds heat – When temperatures soar as they have this week in downtown Phoenix, homeless people ride the air-conditioned light rail to avoid a heat so brutal it killed 155 people in the city and surrounding areas last year. An occasional siren wails as paramedics rush to help people sick from the heat.
Already devilishly hot for being in the Sonoran desert, Arizona’s largest city is also an “urban heat island,” a phenomenon that pushes up temperatures in areas covered in heat-retaining asphalt and concrete. Phoenix on Wednesday recorded a sweltering 116 degrees (46 Celsius), setting a new high for the date.
In urban heat islands, solar radiation and hot air from vehicles and buildings get trapped between high-rises. There aren’t enough trees to provide shade and evaporative cooling that can bring down temperatures.
…He said the heat island effect prevents a city from peeling off the day’s furnace-like heat after the sun sets, driving up temperatures over time. His team’s research shows Phoenix temperatures rising nearly 1 degree per decade, consistently placing it alongside Dallas and Louisville, Kentucky, as some of the fastest-warming U.S. cities. He said Phoenix is warming at three times the rate of the planet as a whole.
Stone noted the heat island effect is caused by local land use and energy decisions and is separate from global warming, but said the two often work together.
…Long noted in cities as far flung as Cairo, Mumbai, Johannesburg, Mexico City and Nanjing, China, the heat island effect can add more than 10 degrees Fahrenheit to nighttime temperatures, climate scientists say. Read More > from the Associated Press
Venezuela to remove five zeroes from ailing currency – Venezuela will remove five zeroes from the bolivar currency rather than the three zeroes originally planned, President Nicolas Maduro said on Wednesday, in an effort to keep up with inflation projected to reach 1 million percent this year.
Annual inflation in June topped 46,000 percent, according to the opposition-run Congress. The IMF said this week it could hit seven digits this year, putting it on par with the crises of Zimbabwe in the 2000s and Germany in the 1920s.
Venezuela’s minimum wage is now about the equivalent of $1 a month, which has left citizens across the country unable to eat properly or obtain basic medical care – fueling an exodus of Venezuelans seeking to escape the economic crisis. Read More > at Reuters
Facebook Stands to Lose Tens of BILLIONS in Dozens of Lawsuits – But stock prices aren’t the only problems facing the beleaguered social media behemoth. The company is facing massive fines and possible government intervention as lawsuits pile up in the U.S. and around the world. In fact, Facebook is facing more than three dozen class-action lawsuits over Cambridge Analytica privacy breaches alone. The looming legal nightmare is so significant that the company felt the need to include a note about it in their quarterly SEC report
Federal judge gives go-ahead for $30 billion Facebook privacy class-action suit
The lawsuit was filed in federal court in Chicago in 2015 and subsequently moved to federal court in San Francisco. According to Baker, the lawsuit “accuses Facebook of violating Illinois’ Biometric Information Privacy Act. It claims Facebook did not obtain written consent from its users before creating maps of their faces from photos and then not informing them about how their facial information would be used and how long it would be stored.”
Facebook slapped with $3.9 billion in lawsuits on the first day of GDPR
“A long-time Austrian privacy advocate and critic of Facebook, Max Schrems, filed four complaints relating to a number of companies that offer a take it or leave it choice rather than an opt-out option,” Baker explained in May. “The complaints were filed against Facebook, Facebook-owned Instagram and WhatsApp, and Google Android. The Facebook complaints are for $3.9 billion, while the Google Android complaint was for $3.7 billion.”
Personality quiz lawsuit
“Data Breach Plaintiffs” filed a notice to appear in Cambridge Analytica’s New York bankruptcy case. “The group is involved in two lawsuits against both Facebook and Cambridge Analytica that seek class-action status on claims that about 87 million Facebook users had their personal information taken without permission,” Bloomberg reported. Read More > at PJ Media
A Corporate Wealth Tax: Making the Oligarchs Pay – It may be en vogue among a certain group to express concern about the influence of Russian oligarchs within our political system, but perhaps we should all be a bit more concerned about the home-grown variety, the Silicon Valley and tech billionaires. Given their huge wealth, influence and control over information, we need to start having serious discussions about how best to deal with their impact on our democracy, which they increasingly seem to want to co-opt with their money and power.
Their fortunes were indeed built with ingenuity, savvy and, in some cases, very sharp elbows. But they were also built on the backs of public infrastructure (notably Darpa, the defense agency that developed the internet) and within communities which allowed them to flourish. It is only right to expect these oligarchs and their corporations to pay their fair share in taxes.
With the highest paid tax lawyers and accountants and consultants and lobbyists, these oligarchs and corporations are almost as good as exploiting loopholes as at their core businesses. Just look at Google, Apple and Facebook. They have found ways to reduce tax liabilities so that they end up paying hardly any taxes at all. This is in hideous contrast with the unfathomable amounts of money they are making and sitting on. As one CEO recently bragged, tech companies are making “insane margins.”
American citizens, namely, are taxed on worldwide income. Wherever they choose to live in the world, Uncle Sam is going to make sure you pay what Uncle Sam says is your fair share. We should inflict the same on these corporations. Read More > at Fox and Hounds
Amazon shopping by text message may be on the way – Amazon has put considerable focus on cutting the time between order and delivery, and now it’s seeking to slash the time it takes to place an order in the first place.
A just-granted patent reveals a text message-based shopping system that could make buying Amazon products as easy as having a quick chat with a friend.
A registered customer of the Seattle e-commerce behemoth would simply text the company about a “desired item” or items they wanted, and an automated system would search a product database and text the customer back with purchasing options, possibly including the best deal, according to the patent document.
Items could be bought via a “checkout button,” according to the document for the patent granted Tuesday. Read More > in The Mercury News
CESSPOOL: 5 Ways The Internet Went TOTALLY Wrong – I don’t know if I should be proud or ashamed of being one of the Internet’s early adopters and advocates. My online experience started in the mid-1980s before the graphical user interface of the World Wide Web, and I started with a Commodore 64 and a 14.4 modem. (“Daddy, what’s a modem?”) I used FTP to visit “gopher holes” which would be accessed by one of two servers in the world, named Archie and Veronica.
A few years later America Online (AOL) had registered several hundred thousand users who were connected to a closed proprietary network. Many old-time Internet users complained in 1993 when AOL provided web access outside their network. “Here comes the flood of morons!” exclaimed the digitally savvy users.
Sadly, when we look at what a cesspool the Internet has become, they turned out to be mostly correct. Naïvely, I did not share that pessimism…
1. Anonymity of speech: There are two sides to this issue. Anonymity of speech played an important part in the ability of citizens to criticize government during revolutionary times. CNN’s Jim Acosta can whine all he wants about Trump being mean to him. King George had his critics hanged. Fear of retribution from government played a big role in McIntyre v. Ohio Elections Comm’n, where the Supreme Court struck down state laws that criminalized anonymous political speech.
At the same time, anonymity has brought out the worst in people online, particularly in the social media and commenting sections of publications. Hiding behind a keyboard has emboldened bullies, doxxers, cybermobs and trolls to slander, harass and embarrass others, often using language they would never use in a face-to-face confrontation…
2. Corporate pollution: With no moral compass to guide them, thousands of companies – often thinking of themselves as entrepreneurs – brought us click farms and pop-up ads that make many pages virtually unreadable. And in the pursuit of revenue, web-based publications are all too often eager to collect the micro payments that click-throughs bring. Honestly people, I’m not interested in that “one simple trick to whiten my teeth.”
How bad are pop-up ads? So bad that blocking software is now one of the most downloaded apps or extensions…
3. Clickbait and hot takes replacing real journalism: BuzzFeed, of course, is the most famous culprit for bringing us the “you’ll never believe what happened next!” headline. To be fair, if it wasn’t successful click bait, the formula would not have been so widely imitated. Nonetheless people find that such headlines infantilize the story and the tide has turned to where many readers I spoke to purposely avoid reading stories with click bait headlines.
Hot takes – modern lingo for “the rush to publish” – are often some of the most irresponsible, reckless and irretrievably harmful publications ever seen. Usually transmitted through Twitter, these unverified assertions of fact take on a life of their own… Read More > at The Daily Caller
Supervisors move to ban workplace cafeterias – New city tech workers dreaming of dining in workplace cafeterias may soon face a harsh reality — going outside.
Two city legislators on Tuesday are expected to announce legislation banning on-site workplace cafeterias in an effort to promote and support local restaurants.
The measure, proposed by Supervisor Ahsha Safai and co-sponsored by Supervisor Aaron Peskin, would adjust zoning laws to ban workplace cafeterias moving forward, but would not be retroactive.
Peskin said the measure, was inspired by tech companies like Twitter and Airbnb, which are widely known to have access to dining in their own buildings, depriving nearby restaurants of the dollars usually spent by nearby workers. The measure has the support of Gwyneth Borden, executive director of the Golden Gate Restaurant Association and other local merchants.
Under the legislation which is expected to be introduced Tuesday, “you can’t have an industrial kitchen in your office building,” Peskin said.
…But, Peskin said, it’s a hope to mitigate the “app culture” of workers who are whisked away in private commuter shuttles to work, who dine in their places of employment, and see all their goods delivered to them by apps — depriving them the pleasure of mingling with the rest of The City.
“People will have to go out and eat lunch with the rest of us,” he said. Read More > in the San Francisco Examiner
Risky Thailand cave rescue relied on talent, luck—and on sticking to the rules – Last week, the world was riveted by the successful rescue of a youth soccer team as they and their coach were pulled out of a flooded cave in Thailand. The team had been stranded on a narrow rock shelf in the dark for two weeks, the way out blocked by turbid stormwater. The rescue involved far more than a few divers putting on gear and heading into the cave—it required a tremendous amount of technical skill and posed extreme danger.
But why, exactly, was it so dangerous? And what would it feel like to dive in those kinds of conditions?
The short answer is that all cave diving is dangerous.
One of the major technical challenges in the Thai cave was to get the boys through a 15-inch-wide (about 38cm) restriction in the cave that exited the water on an incline. The rescue divers reportedly stationed themselves in front of and behind each boy during the underwater portion of the rescue, which is standard practice in an emergency situation. Unfortunately, due to the small size of the restriction, the divers had to remove their tanks and push them ahead or drag them behind while also tending the victim and the victim’s scuba tank.
In Thailand, one of the first things needed after the soccer team was discovered was to deal with the logistics of supporting all of the dives required to effect a rescue. This would mean having support divers cache breathing gas tanks ahead of the main rescue divers so they would have enough breathing gas to make it to the boys’ perch in the cave and back out. Every time a dive was completed, the support divers would have to clear the used tanks and place new ones for the next set of dives, dragging tanks in and out of the cave repeatedly. Even these support dives were fraught with danger, as evidenced by the loss of one of the support divers who ran out of breathing gas on his way out of the cave after placing tanks for the main rescue divers.
The Thai soccer team would have been chilled even before entering the water to escape the cave. Once in the water, even with wetsuits, the boys would have been downright cold. The water likely was in the low 70 degrees Fahrenheit range (or low 20s in Celsius), which can cause uncontrollable shivering within 30 minutes for someone without thermal protection. Adding to the stress of the cold was the fact that the boys were using non-standard cave-diving gear in the form of full face masks, which would make their own breathing sound vaguely Darth Vader-esque. Read More > at Ars Technica
Santa Barbara Authorizes Jail Time for Handing Out Straws – The city of Santa Barbara has passed an ordinance that will allow restaurant employees to be punished with up to six months of jail time or a $1,000 fine for giving plastic straws to their customers.
The bill was passed unanimously last Tuesday, and covers bars, restaurants, and other food-service businesses. Establishments will still be allowed to hand out plastic stirrers, but only if customers request them.
Santa Barbara’s ordinance “is likely the most severe straw ban in the country,” according to Reason, but it’s far from the only straw ban. Seattle banned plastic straws earlier this month, mandating a a $250 fine for violators. Santa Barbara, however, has gone much further than Seattle — even aside from the harsher punishments its law imposes. Santa Barbara has banned not only plastic straws, but also compostable straws. Oh, and each individual straw counts as a separate infraction, meaning that if someone got busted handing out straws to a table of four people, he or she could end up facing years behind bars. Read More > at National Review
Finally: House unanimously passes response to Kelo – It took the House of Representatives sixteen months to pass HR 1689, the Private Property Rights Protection Act, which finally happened yesterday by acclamation. It took Congress thirteen years to act on this issue after the execrable Kelo v City of New London Supreme Court decision, which held that eminent domain could be used to seize property from one private owner to another in the name of “economic development.” Rep. James Sensenbrenner, who authorized the PPRPA, celebrated the belated victory yesterday in a story that no major media outlet covered:
Today, the House unanimously passed Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner’s (WI-05) Private Property Rights Protection Act (H.R. 1689).
The bill addresses the controversial Supreme Court decision in the 2005 case Kelo v. City of New London, which expanded the eminent domain power granted by the Fifth Amendment of the Constitution. In Kelo, the Court ruled that “economic development” can be justified as a “public use” under the Constitution’s Takings Clause.
To combat this expansion of power, H.R. 1689 would make any state or locality that uses the economic development justification for eminent domain ineligible from receiving federal economic development funds for two years. This creates a major incentive for governments to respect the private property rights of its citizens.
Additionally, the legislation bars the federal government from exercising eminent domain powers for the purposes of economic development.
Amazingly, not one major media outlet picked up on this, not even to note that it took thirteen years for Congress to address the issue. Read More > at Hot Air
Pension fund earnings up, but crushing debts remain – California’s two immense public employee pension funds this month reported investment earnings higher than their assumed rate for the second straight year.
The California Public Employees Retirement System (CalPERS) said its investment portfolio earned 8.6 percent during the year that ended June 30, while the California State Teachers Retirement System (CalSTRS) topped that with an 8.96 percent gain.
That’s certainly better than the minuscule earnings the two funds had seen earlier in the decade, but despite public crowing by union advocates, the earnings reports merely underscore the wide gaps between pension promises and assets to pay for them.
As they lower investment expectations, CalPERS and CalSTRS have turned to the state and other public employers to close their asset gaps, requiring them to raise their “contributions” by billions of dollars.
CalPERS is increasing its bite on employers on its own, as it is empowered to do, while the Legislature and Gov. Jerry Brown adopted a plan to prevent CalSTRS from slipping into insolvency by increasing payments from the state and teachers modestly while hitting school districts hard, more than doubling their mandatory payments into the fund.
Making the increased payments has caused financial turmoil in local governments, especially cities, and in school districts. Read More > at CALmatters
HIV infects one teenaged girl every 3 minutes: UN – Every three minutes, a girl between the ages of 15 and 19 is infected with the virus that causes AIDS, said a UN report Wednesday that warned of a “crisis” fuelled by gender inequality.
Girls and young women made up two-thirds of 15- to 19-year-olds infected with HIV in 2017, according to data unveiled at the 22nd International AIDS Conference in Amsterdam.
Henrietta Fore, head of the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), referred to it as a “crisis of health”.
“In most countries, women and girls lack access to information, to services, or even just the power to say no to unsafe sex,” she said.
“HIV thrives among the most vulnerable and marginalised, leaving teenage girls at the centre of the crisis.”
Last year, 130,000 youngsters aged 19 and under died from AIDS, while 430,000 — almost 50 every hour — were newly infected, the agency said.
While AIDS-related deaths have decreased since 2010 in all other age groups, among older adolescents aged 15 to 19 they have remained stubbornly constant. Read More >at Yahoo!
U.S. appeals court upholds right to carry gun in public – A federal appeals court ruled on Tuesday that the U.S. Constitution’s Second Amendment guarantees a right to openly carry a gun in public for self-defense, finding that Hawaii overstepped its authority to regulate firearms possession outside the home.
The ruling by a three-judge panel on the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, makes the San Francisco-based court the sixth U.S. circuit court to interpret the Second Amendment that way and could set the issue on a path toward the U.S. Supreme Court, which has not taken up a major gun rights case since 2010.
The extent of the right to gun ownership is one of the most hotly contested debates in the United States, where there has been a steady stream of mass shootings.
In a 2-1 decision on Tuesday, the panel found Hawaii infringed on the rights of plaintiff George Young when it twice denied him a permit the state requires to openly carry a gun in public. Read More > from Reuters
Water wars head upstream as state considers cutbacks for senior Central Valley irrigation districts – Regulators have long focused on the harmful environmental effects of the Sacramento-San Joaquin delta’s giant pumping operations, which send water south and have helped push native fish to the brink of extinction. As fish populations collapsed, environmental limits on water exports to San Joaquin Valley farms and Southern California cities have tightened.
Now, the State Water Resources Control Board is looking upstream to agricultural districts and cities that have long escaped responsibility for the delta’s woes — even though they suck massive quantities of water out of the river systems that feed the delta.
In what environmentalists say is a long overdue move, the board for the first time is asking major upstream diverters to take less from three heavily tapped tributaries of the San Joaquin River, which merges with the Sacramento River to form the delta, a maze of farm islands and meandering water channels.
More water in the Stanislaus, Tuolumne and Merced rivers will improve conditions for migrating salmon, the board says, increase flows in the much abused lower San Joaquin River and ultimately boost inflow to the delta.
Dams, diversions, pollution and shrinking habitat have driven California’s fabled salmon runs onto the endangered species list, triggering environmental lawsuits and efforts to restore some of the water lost to croplands and cities.
The state board proposal would require maintenance of 40% of the natural flow, within a range of 30% to 50%, in the Stanislaus, Tuolumne and Merced during the February-though-June period, which is critical for salmon survival.
That would collectively cost water users 300,000 acre-feet of supply — or about 15% of their total diversions on all three rivers. (An acre-foot is enough to supply two average households for a year.)
In place of water cutbacks, San Francisco and the other major diverters have proposed restoration efforts such as rebuilding gravel beds for spawning, control of salmon predators and creation of floodplain habitat.
“We think the state board uses a very simplistic approach,” said Steve Ritchie, an assistant general manager at the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission, which gets which gets most of its supply from Hetch Hetchy Reservoir on the upper Tuolumne.
He warned that the flow requirements would leave San Francisco and the Bay Area communities it serves with less water reserves to ride out droughts. “We just wouldn’t be able to replenish our storage over time,” Ritchie said.
On the Stanislaus, the 40% flow standard “is surely not anything we will accept,” said Steve Knell, general manager of the Oakdale Irrigation District, which has made roughly $40 million in the past decade selling some of its river supplies to less water-rich agricultural districts. Read More > in the Los Angeles Times
How The Fracking Revolution Broke OPEC’s Hold On Oil Prices – To recap, global oil consumption rose to a new record high in 2018, and has now increased in 31 of the past 34 years. Over the past decade, global oil consumption has increased by 11.1 million barrels per day (BPD). The primary driver behind the past decade’s demand jump is the Asia Pacific region, which was the source of 77% of the world’s demand growth over that time.
A decade ago, in the summer of 2008, the price of West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude was racing toward $150 a barrel. Over the previous three years, and despite strong demand growth, the world had only increased oil production by 1.2 million BPD, and it essentially all came from OPEC.
Many analysts, including me, were extremely concerned about the future hold OPEC would maintain over the world’s oil supplies. It appeared that there would an enormous transfer of wealth from those countries dependent upon oil imports — like the United States — to OPEC countries. In many cases, these countries have interests that are hostile to those of the U.S., so this was very much an issue of national security.
But the future played out differently than it seemed it would in the summer of 2008. Unbeknownst to most people, oil producers were experimenting with a marriage between two established oil drilling technologies — horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing.
The success of this marriage would unlock oil in tight oil and shale oil deposits that had previously been too expensive to recover, and would result in one of the greatest oil booms the world had ever seen. In fact, the “fracking revolution” caused U.S. oil production to turn upward in 2009, and then rise over the next seven years at the fastest rate in U.S. history.
While it is still true that OPEC still produced 42.6% of the world’s oil in 2017, the majority of new oil production since 2008 has come from the U.S. Read More > at Forbes
More California kids are having pot-related health scares, poison control officials warn – State and local officials say they are alarmed by a spike in calls they have received to report children and teenagers ingesting marijuana products since California legalized cannabis for recreational use by adults in 2016.
The number of calls to poison control centers involving people 19 and younger who were exposed to marijuana has steadily risen from 347 three years ago to 588 last year. In the first six months of this year, there have been 386 calls to poison control centers involving marijuana exposure by underage people. If that trend continues, there could be more than double the reports in 2018 as there were 2015.
Nearly half of the calls received last year — 256 — involved children 5 and younger, including 38 children under 12 months old, and 64 toddlers who were a year old, according to Stuart E. Heard, executive director of the California Poison Control System. Read More > in the Los Angeles Times
Feds: Backyard chickens sicken people in 44 states – Live poultry in backyard flocks are linked to several multistate outbreaks of salmonella infections that have now sickened 212 people in 44 states, federal health officials warned Monday.
The most recent illnesses began on June 21, with 88 of the cases reported in the last month, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, or CDC, said in an advisory. The federal agency is working with multiple states in investigating several outbreaks of salmonella infections linked to contact with live poultry in backyard flocks, it said.
A half-dozen strains of salmonella bacteria have sickened people starting in the middle of February, with 34 of the 212 sickened people hospitalized. More than a quarter of those stricken were under the age of 5, according to the CDC. Young children are particularly vulnerable because their immune systems are still developing, and they’re more likely to put items like fingers and pacifiers in their mouths.
…Health officials advise washing with soap and water right after touching live poultry or anything nearby. They also advise not letting live birds inside the house, especially where food or drink is prepared, served or stored. Also, no kissing or snuggling with birds only to then touch your face or mouth. Read More > at Money Watch
$1 billion coming to Bay Area for two new dams – During California’s recent five-year drought, it was common to hear people asking why the state doesn’t build more dams.
On Tuesday, flush with cash from voters, the administration of Gov. Jerry Brown is expected to finally do just that, committing nearly $1 billion to build two huge dam projects in the Bay Area, and another $1.5 billion for six more big water projects from the Sacramento Valley to Bakersfield.
The California Water Commission, whose eight members are appointed by the governor, will likely vote to fund $2.5 billion overall for the eight projects — four new dams and four groundwater storage proposals.
Among the proposed awards: $485 million to the Santa Clara Valley Water District to construct a new 319-foot-tall dam at Pacheco Pass in rural southern Santa Clara County, and $459 million to the Contra Costa Water District to raise the height of the dam at Los Vaqueros Reservoir in eastern Contra Costa County by 55 feet, increasing the lake’s size by about 70 percent. The new funding would pay roughly half the cost of each project. Read More > in the East Bay Times
Do-Gooderism: A Religious Cult for Millennials – Do-gooders in America, typically of the Millennial variety, think of themselves as smarter, more worldly, and far better informed than you. They are woke. You are not. This has consequences, mostly for you.
For do-gooders, the ends justify the means. Do-gooders believe they are saving the world, therefore any tactic is completely defensible. Anyone who stands in the way of their planet-saving mission is, by definition, evil and must be punished. Usually touted as progressivism, this cult-like ideology is actually regressive. Yet, it has succeeded at racking up political victories across the country.
Do you like plastic straws? You’re a bad person. According to do-gooders, straws end up in the ocean and eventually into the noses of sea turtles. Is that true? No. Okay, fine, there was one turtle with a straw in its nose. But when it comes to plastic pollution in the ocean, straws aren’t the problem. Fishing gear is, specifically fishing nets. As a column in Bloomberg says:
“even if all those straws were suddenly washed into the sea, they’d account for about .03 percent of the 8 million metric tons of plastics estimated to enter the oceans in a given year.”
Does this fact matter? No. Bad people who like straws should be punished, and Seattle will fine any business $250 for giving straws to customers. In Santa Barbara, the fine is $1,000 plus six months of jail time… per straw. Rumor has it that California might reinstate the death penalty for serial straw offenders. Read More > at the American Council on Science and Health
24% of Tesla Model 3 orders have been canceled, analyst says – Cancellations for Model 3 orders have picked up in recent weeks. Refunds now outpace deposits for Tesla’s new mass-market electric car, according to Needham & Co. analyst Rajvindra Gill. Tesla disputes that.
In an analyst note delivered to clients Thursday, Gill cited extended wait times for the car, the expiration of a $7,500 tax credit, and the fact that Tesla has not yet made the $35,000 base model of the car available for purchase yet.
About one in every four Model 3 orders is canceled, Gill said, double the rate from a year ago. Customers have to put down a refundable $1,000 deposit to reserve a Model 3, then pay another $2,500 to choose their specific version. They pay the rest when the car is delivered.
The wait time for a Model 3 is about 4 months to a year, and base model customers could wait until 2020, Gill said. Read More > at CNN
California teacher pension debt swamps school budgets – California’s public schools have enjoyed a remarkable restoration of funding since the bone-deep cuts they endured during the recession, but many are now facing a grave financial threat as they struggle to protect pensions crucial for teachers’ retirement.
Over the next three years, schools may need to use well over half of all the new money they’re projected to receive to cover their growing pension obligations, leaving little extra for classrooms, state Department of Finance and Legislative Analyst’s Office estimates show. This is true even though the California State Teachers’ Retirement System just beat its investment goals for the second straight year.
Some districts are predicting deficits and many districts are bracing for what’s to come by cutting programs, reducing staff or drawing down their reserves—even though per-pupil funding is at its highest level in three decades and voters recently extended a tax hike on the rich to help pay for schools.
At the same time, some districts are grappling with how to simultaneously afford raises for teachers who have threatened to strike.
The situation could become even more bleak if California’s economy doesn’t keep growing.
If there’s another recession – which economists say is increasingly likely given the record length of the expansion underway now – the higher pension payments scheduled could push some districts deeper into the red, Legislative Analyst’s Office data indicates. Read More > at CALmatters
Elon Musk is a total fraud – One disastrous tweet has finally revealed Elon Musk for what he is: a fraud.
Enraged that a British cave diver called his idea to rescue the Thai soccer team for what it was — “a p.r. stunt [with] absolutely no chance of working” — Musk took to Twitter and called him a “pedo.”
Just like that, Tesla’s market value plummeted by $2 billion.
Musk has been in business since 2002. His stated goal is nothing short of transforming humanity through his products: his electric cars, space travel, and an underground high-speed Hyperloop system.
He has yet to succeed at anything but somehow spins every failure into proof of imminent success. His only accomplishment has been this decades-long Jedi mind trick.
…Tesla was founded in 2003, but the world’s largest automakers quickly surpassed Musk’s vision for electric vehicles. Tesla will never catch up. Shareholders are finally catching on.
So should the government, which reportedly gifts Musk’s companies with an estimated $4.9 billion in subsidies. Read More > in the New York Post
New York Times, NBC, and ‘60 Minutes’ Bigwigs Hired These Media Assassins to Fight #MeToo Stories – One of television’s most powerful men, 60 Minutes Executive Producer Jeff Fager, hired a law firm that boasts about “killing stories” for a Washington Post investigation into him, three sources familiar with the matter told The Daily Beast.
The story was a deep dive into what CBS managers knew about former anchor Charlie Rose’s alleged sexual misconduct, but due to the aggressive tactics of law firm Clare Locke, the sources said, the story was “effectively neutered.”
Clare Locke also did work for former Today show host Matt Lauer and current New York Times reporter Glenn Thrush, three sources say. Both men were accused in news publications of sexually harassing women. The law firm was also recently hired by David Pecker, the CEO and chairman of American Media Inc., parent company of the National Enquirer, to try and shut down a negative story from a newspaper, according to two sources.
Clare Locke is the creation of husband and wife team Tom Clare and Elizabeth “Libby” Locke. “Some of Libby’s biggest defamation ‘wins’ are stories the public will never hear about,” her website says. They have litigated against Rolling Stone, The New York Times, Katie Couric, CNN, and Gawker, to name a few. Read More > at the Daily Beast