Sunday Reading – 09/23/18


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

New Law Allows Utilities to Bill Customers to Pay for Settlements in 2017 Wildfires – Gov. Jerry Brown signed a measure Friday allowing utilities to bill their customers to pay for future legal settlements stemming from devastating 2017 wildfires, even if the blazes are blamed on the company’s mismanagement.

The bill is aimed at preventing bankruptcy or other serious financial trouble for Pacific Gas & Electric Co. The nation’s largest utility by revenue faces billions of dollars in liability if investigators determine its equipment caused the Tubbs Fire that destroyed thousands of homes and killed 22 people in Santa Rosa last year.

Critics call it a bailout for PG&E investors.

The bill creates a special process for the 2017 fires, which caused more than $10 billion in insured losses, by far the most in state history. It seeks to determine how much liability the utility can absorb without triggering severe consequences like bankruptcy, and allows any additional costs to be billed to consumers.

For fires sparked in the future, the bill allows the Public Utilities Commission to consider a variety of factors — including weather conditions, a utility’s efforts to prevent fires and findings of mismanagement — to decide whether electric companies can pass costs to consumers. Read More > at NBC Los Angeles

Next Week’s New Fall Shows Will Fill You with Sense of Déjà Vu – The rollout of the fall broadcast TV season was, once upon a time, all glitter and gala. Thirty new shows (on just three networks!), a special issue of TV Guide, three times its usual size and stuffed with glamorous color studio photography of all the stars, and a dazzling array of novel ideas. A newspaper reporter who rooms with a secret Martian! A guy with a docile and very buxom female robot! The genetically groundbreaking concept of identical cousins! A dead mom who comes back as an antique car! (I said the ideas were dazzling, not necessarily good.)

These days, the rollout feels more like the series finale of The Walking Dead, with rotting zombies sharing the screen with a handful of survivors so terrified and beaten down that they’ve lost their minds. Of the 20 or so new shows (on six networks!), more than half are remakes, reboots or rapacious rip-offs. There hasn’t been such a mass uprising of the dead since Mayor Daley stopping overseeing Chicago elections.

Hollywood has always robbed its own graveyards, of course, though rarely with such profligate abandon. The really appalling thing about the 2018 fall season is how stupidly tepid most of it is. Shows about neurotic moms and grumpy dads are not just clichés but clichés old enough to be closing in on Social Security. Read More > at Reason

How to buy a turntable – So you want to start collecting vinyl. Great! Record sales have been steadily climbing, and in March, physical music outsold downloads for the first time in six years. You might’ve even started buying vinyl already to get in on the action. But given how long the format has been around, picking out a turntable can be as daunting as building a home HiFi system to connect it to. It doesn’t have to be.

You can spend anywhere from $60 on a Crosley all-in-one at Target to more than $3,000 for an audiophile-grade deck, with plenty of options in between. But what’s the difference between a budget turntable and something that costs more than a few months’ rent? And do you really need to spend that much? What are the features you shouldn’t go without? Let us give you a hand.

New or vintage?

…However, many modern turntables skimp on creature comforts that were prevalent in vinyl’s original heyday — conveniences like auto-stop, which lifts the tonearm and stops the platter from spinning when that side of the record ends. It might not sound like a big deal, but it’s a solid way to prevent unnecessary needle wear when you don’t jump up to flip the record immediately. Of course, older turntables are going to sound a little different too (“warmer,” according to our resident expert Jon Turi), so you have to decide if that’s important as well.

If you go the vintage route, the same warning applies to turntables as it does amps. Quality matters, and buying from eBay or pulling your mom’s old deck out of the attic could cause more frustration — and eventually cost more money in repairs — than buying used from the local stereo shop. You also need to check cartridge and replacement-needle compatibility, given that those wear out over time. Read More > at Engadget

When is the best time to get a flu shot this year? – The AAP recommends the flu shot for everyone ages six months or older. That includes “all women who are pregnant, are considering pregnancy, are in the postpartum period, or are breastfeeding during the influenza season,” the AAP advises.

The flu shot is made to protect against strains that experts believe will circulate during the season. This year’s flu shots will protect against influenza A (H1N1 and H3N2) and one type of influenza B (Victoria). There is a flu shot that protects against another influenza B strain in addition to the other three.

It might seem like you have plenty of time to get vaccinated, but the best time to get a flu shot is much sooner than you think. Once you get the flu vaccine, it can take two weeks for the antibodies to develop in your body. Children who need two doses of a flu shot need to start even sooner, because the doses must be given at least two weeks apart.

That’s why the U.S. Centers For Disease Control and Prevention says the best time to get a flu shot is ASAP — by the end of October, at the latest.

“However, [the flu shot] can still be beneficial and vaccination should continue to be offered throughout the flu season, even into January or later,” the CDC says in a flu shot advisory. Read More > at Metro

California Makes People Ask for Straws, Sodas With Kid Meals – If you want a straw with your drink or a soda with a kids’ meal at a California restaurant, you’ll need to ask for them starting next year.

A law signed Thursday by Gov. Jerry Brown makes California the first state to bar full-service restaurants from automatically giving out single-use plastic straws. Another law he approved requires milk or water to be the default drink sold with kids’ meals at fast-food and full-service restaurants.

Neither law is an outright ban on straws or sugary drinks in kids’ meals…

California restaurants that don’t comply with the straw law will get two warnings before being fined. Lawmakers changed the legislation to add a $300 annual fine limit. It will apply only to sit-down restaurants where customers are waited on by restaurant staff, not fast-food establishments. Read More > at U.S. News

Big nutrition research scandal sees 6 more retractions, purging popular diet tips – Brian Wansink, the Cornell nutrition researcher who was world-renowned for his massively popular, commonsense-style dieting studies before ultimately going down in flames in a beefy statistics scandal, has now resigned—with a considerably slimmer publication record.

JAMA’s editorial board retracted six studies co-authored by Wansink from its network of prestigious publications on Wednesday, September 19. The latest retractions bring Wansink’s total retraction count to 13, according to a database compiled by watchdog publication Retraction Watch. Fifteen of Wansink’s other studies have also been formally corrected.

Amid this latest course in the scandal, Cornell reported today, September 20, that Wansink has resigned from his position, effective at the end of the current academic year. In a statement emailed to Ars, Cornell Provost Michael Kotlikoff said that an internal investigation by a faculty committee found that “Professor Wansink committed academic misconduct in his research and scholarship, including misreporting of research data, problematic statistical techniques, failure to properly document and preserve research results, and inappropriate authorship.”

As Ars has reported before, the retractions, corrections, and today’s resignation all stem from Wansink’s own admission of statistical scavenging to find meaningful conclusions in otherwise messy dieting data. The result is that many common dieting tips—such as using smaller plates to trick yourself into shoveling in less food and stashing unhealthy snacks in hard-to-reach places—are now on the cutting board and possibly destined for the garbage bin. Read More > ars Technica

Are we on the verge of civil war? – Americans increasingly are either proud of past U.S. traditions, ongoing reform and current American exceptionalism, or they insist that the country was hopelessly flawed at its birth and must be radically reinvented to rectify its original sins.

No sphere of life is immune from the subsequent politicization: Not movies, television, professional sports, late-night comedy or colleges. Even hurricanes are typically leveraged to advance political agendas.

What is causing America to turn differences into these bitter hatreds — and why now?

The Internet and social media often descend into an electronic lynch mob. In a nanosecond, an insignificant local news story goes viral. Immediately hundreds of millions of people use it to drum up the evils or virtues of either progressivism or conservatism.

Anonymity is a force multiplier of these tensions. Fake online identities provide cover for ever greater extremism — on the logic that no one is ever called to account for his or her words.

Speed is also the enemy of common sense and restraint. Millions of bloggers rush to be the first to post their take on a news event, without much worry about whether it soon becomes a “fake news” moment of unsubstantiated gossip and fiction.

…Will America keep dividing and soon resort to open violence, as happened in 1861? Or will Americans reunite and bind up our wounds, as we did following the upheavals of the 1930s Great Depression or after the protests of the 1960s?

The answer lies within each of us.

Every day we will either treat each other as fellow Americans, with far more uniting than dividing us, or we will continue on the present path that eventually ends in something like a hate-filled Iraq, Rwanda or the Balkans. Read More > in The Washington Times

The Battle of 5G – Across the country, telecom companies are beginning to lay the groundwork for 5G wireless networks. The buildout often pits states against cities, as in Texas. But a proposal that the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is set to vote on Sept. 26 would not only upend future local agreements, but also preempt states. If approved, localities across the country would have drastically less authority over 5G infrastructure.

The arrival of 5G represents a major advancement in wireless technology. It’s expected to provide speeds at least 10 times faster than the typical 4G connection that many places now have. Testing is underway in select cities, and the FCC will start auctioning licenses for 5G spectrum in November. The first 5G-compatible smartphones are expected to follow next year.

…Supporters of the FCC proposal and state laws governing 5G frequently maintain that the laws will speed up construction, as well as potentially facilitate its use in currently unserved areas. In their pitches to Nebraska state lawmakers last year, lobbyists argued that a statewide rule would accelerate rural deployment. Citing comments provided by telecom providers, the FCC proposal similarly concluded that “resources consumed in serving one geographic area are likely to deplete the resources available for serving other areas.”

But local officials contend that carriers won’t bring their 5G networks to outlying areas absent market demand. “There is not a shred of evidence that suggests a penny saved in New York immediately gets invested in Montana,” Levin says. McAllen’s Pagan adds that his city offered companies a “healthy subsidy” to deploy internet service in unserved areas, but they weren’t interested. Read More > at Governing

As San Francisco Real Estate Prices Spiral, Some Biotechs Look to the ‘Burbs – The two biggest areas for biotech startups in the U.S. are Cambridge in Boston and the San Francisco Bay Area. They’re also the locations of astonishingly expensive real estate. But they’re where biotechs seem to want to be because they’re close to talent, academic research institutions, and the attention of venture capital.

In the Bay Area, at least some startups are thinking about moving outside the area, at least a little bit, in order to control costs. The San Francisco Chronicle reports on several biotech companies that are settling some or all of their operations in Pleasanton, a suburb of San Francisco in Alameda County about 25 miles east of Oakland.

One of those companies is 10X Genomics, which has headquarters in Pleasanton, and decided to quadruple the company’s space to 200,000 square feet in the city rather than move it somewhere else. “Pleasanton is the sweet spot where you get the talent from all across the Bay Area and rents aren’t quite as expensive as San Francisco or the Peninsula,” said Serge Saxonov, co-founder and chief executive officer of 10x. Read More > at BioSpace

Meet the Robot Lawyer Fighting Fines, Fees, and Red Tape – Joshua Browder is trying to upend the legal services industry. His company, DoNotPay, has built an AI-powered chatbot that interviews users about their legal problems in plain English and then uses their answers to complete and submit legal paperwork on their behalf.

Browder describes DoNotPay as “the world’s first robot lawyer,” and believes that the system he’s building will one day be able to address the majority of legal issues.

“DoNotPay will have succeeded if the word ‘lawyer’ is completely removed from the dictionary for average people,” Browder told Reason.

The 21-year-old entrepreneur from the UK, who taught himself to code by watching YouTube videos, lives and works with his eight-person team out of the same Palo Alto house that Mark Zuckerberg rented during his first summer in California building Facebook. Browder says the legal industry is so ripe for disruption through software because most services involve nothing more than standardized processes and boilerplate language.

DoNotPay initially focused on fighting parking tickets because Browder views them as an unfair tax on the poor. He says DoNotPay has succeeded in overturning citations about half the time, saving users $16 million in fines over its first three years. Now, operating on just over $1 million in venture capital funding, the start-up is expanding to cover a broad range of legal problems. Read More > at Reason

Google’s prototype Chinese search engine links searches to phone numbers – Google’s secret prototype search engine for China reportedly links users’ mobile phone numbers to what search terms they’ve used.

This feature would allow the Chinese government to simply associate searches with individuals, thereby putting Chinese citizens at increased risk of government repression if they search for topics that their government deems politically sensitive, according to the Intercept.

The mobile-focused search engine prototype, code-named Dragonfly, was first revealed last month by the Intercept.

Dragonfly is said to have been conceptualized as a joint venture between Google and a Chinese-based company. Both would have the ability to update a list of verboten search words, which could include expected subjects like “human rights” and “student protest” but could also extend to search terms such as “Nobel Prize”, according to the Intercept’s story.

News outlets and information platforms like the BBC and Wikipedia will also be blocked, according to the Intercept, as will searches extending beyond text, such as images. Read More > in The Guardian

Party Crasher: Moderate Tom Campbell aims to launch new political party in California – California state politics only comes in two flavors: Democrat or Republican. And according to the conventional wisdom that isn’t changing anytime soon. We know because we asked.

Two weeks ago we teamed up with California Target Book to find out whether political insiders around the capitol think a viable third party might emerge onto the California political scene by 2025. Not a single respondent in our Target Book Insider Track Survey said that it was “very likely.” Roughly two-thirds said the opposite.

But Tom Campbell—Chapman University law professor, former congressman, former state senator and former Republican—says they’re wrong. He’s setting out to bust up the Republican-Democratic lock on political power in Sacramento by launching a third party. And he predicts candidates will be running for the Legislature under the new banner as soon as 2020.

Under California law, a new political party can get on the ballot in one of two ways. One option is to gather roughly 700,000 signatures.

But there’s an alternative, which Campbell characterizes as the easier way: convince a little over 60,000 already registered voters to either go online or contact their county registrar and switch their registration to the new, still unnamed, party. With the right targeted email pitch, it could be pulled off under $100,000, he said. Revolutionize the state political system for less than a legislator’s annual salary.

Who might want to join the new party? Prospects abound. Read More > at CALmatters

Removing ‘zombie’ cells deters Alzheimer’s in mice – Eliminating dead but toxic cells occurring naturally in the brains of mice that are designed to mimic Alzheimer’s slows neuron damage and memory loss associated with the disease, according to a study published Wednesday that could open a new front in the fight against dementia.

The accumulation in the body of “zombie cells” that can no longer divide but still cause harm to other healthy cells, a process called senescence, is common to all mammals.

Scientists have long known that these cells gather in regions of the brain linked to old age diseases ranging from osteoarthritis and atherosclerosis to Parkinson’s and dementia.

Prior research had also shown that the elimination of senescent cells in aging mice extended their healthy lifespan.

But the new results, published in Nature, are the first to demonstrate a cause-and-effect link with a specific disease, Alzheimer’s, the scientists said.

But any treatments that might emerge from the research are many years down the road, they cautioned. Read More > in The Japan Times

11 Things Never to Say During Your Performance Review – Between the feeling of being thrust into the spotlight, the one-on-one setting with your manager and the gravity of what’s at stake, performance reviews can feel pretty uncomfortable. And when you’re made to feel uncomfortable, sometimes you aren’t always the most conscious of (or careful with) your words. But if there’s one time that you want to communicate effectively, it’s then. After all, your performance review is often the one chance you get to push for a raise, secure a promotion, or even save your job.

To make sure that you don’t unintentionally sabotage yourself, we’ve put together a list of things that you’ll want to avoid saying. Steer clear of these words, and you’ll be that much closer to passing your performance review with flying colors.

1. “That wasn’t my fault”
It’s human nature to defend yourself. But when it comes to your performance review, check your ego at the door.

2. “Yes, yes, yes”
While you don’t want to dismiss your manager’s feedback, being too quick to say yes isn’t the right move, either.

3. “You said/you did…”
It’s communication 101 — when discussing a sensitive topic, never lead with “you” statements. In a performance review, this might include statements like “you said I was going to get a raise,” “you didn’t clearly outline expectations,” etc.

4. “But…”
Going one step further, adding a “but” can be even more antagonizing.

5. “It was really a team effort”
Lots of people have trouble taking a compliment. But if there’s one time you don’t want that to happen, it’s during your performance review — your No. 1 moment to prove the value that you bring to your company. “Although it’s important to give credit where credit is due, it’s equally important not to deflect your personal accomplishments to other people,”… Read More > at Motley Fool

We Should Eliminate Federal Electric Vehicle Subsidies for Rich People – The Federal government currently offers a $7,500 tax credit to purchasers of electric vehicles (EV). A Pacific Research Institute study published earlier this year reported that 78.7 percent of the EV tax credits were received by households with an adjusted gross income (AGI) of $100,000 or higher, and that more than half went to households with an AGI in excess of $200,000. Basically, the federal government is subsidizing rich people to indulge their tastes in driving expensive electric vehicles.

The Feds did, however, limit the these tax outlays by putting a cap of 200,000 vehicles that can be subsidized by each manufacturer. EVs manufactured by Tesla and General Motors are on the verge of no longer qualifying for tax credits since those companies will likely exceed their 200,000 vehicle thresholds this year. This means that the vehicles from EV manufacturers who have not yet crossed that threshold will have a subsidized relative price advantage over Tesla and GM. Read More > at Reason

‘Vegan Mondays’ coming to Berkeley after new resolution passed – Berkeley residents may soon be asking themselves, where’s the beef?

The city council just passed a resolution requiring vegan food be served at city events and meetings once a week.

On Thursday, Berkeley became the first city in the nation to declare “Green Monday.” This requires vegan-only food be served at city meetings and events once a week.

“I’m not asking people to give up meat, I’m asking us all to think about what it is that we do every day, how we can reduce our meat consumption,” said councilmember Kate Harrison, who authored the resolution.

The resolution also calls for a public campaign to inform businesses and residents of the environmental impacts of meat production. “Almost a third of our climate change problem comes from animal husbandry and the meat produced by animals and the pollution produced,” said Harrison. Read More > at KGO

Political nonprofits must now name many of their donors under federal court ruling after Supreme Court declines to intervene – Advocacy groups pouring money into independent campaigns to impact this fall’s midterm races must disclose many of their political donors beginning this week after the Supreme Court on Tuesday declined to intervene in a long-running case.

The high court did not grant an emergency request to stay a ruling by a federal judge in Washington who had thrown out a decades-old Federal Election Commission regulation allowing nonprofit groups to keep their donors secret unless they had earmarked their money for certain purposes.

With less than 50 days before this fall’s congressional elections, the ruling has far-reaching consequences that could curtail the ability of major political players to raise money and force the disclosure of some of the country’s wealthiest donors.

Nonprofit advocacy groups — which do not have to publicly disclose their donors, as political committees do — will now have to begin reporting the names of contributors who give more than $200 per year toward their independent political campaigns, campaign finance lawyers said.

“Moving forward, these groups will need to disclose to the public any donor that gave money for the purpose of influencing a federal election, regardless of whether they want to sponsor a particular race or specific communication,” said Matthew Sanderson, a Republican campaign finance attorney. “Some groups will not need to adjust their approach to raising funds, but this will be a significant change for others.” Read More > in The Washington Post

Is Religion Good or Bad for Us? – …Indeed, few forces have historically been more powerful than religion in shaping people’s existences. According to the latest poll by the Pew Research Center, 77 percent of Americans say that religion is at least somewhat important in their lives and 83 percent say they’re fairly certain that God or a higher power exists. But not everyone agrees that religion is good for us. There has long been a debate among scholars about this issue, with some claiming that it facilitates well-being and others claiming that it leads to neurosis. In fact, there are few issues in the field of psychology as highly researched as this question.

…Here are three of the most important reasons that researchers believe religion and spirituality may be good for us:

Reason #1: Better Health Habits
Many religions encourage people to take care of their bodies and minds…

Reason #2: Enhanced Coping
The ways that people cope with stress may also account for the relationship of religion and spirituality with well-being. When we encounter problems in our lives, researchers have observed that people can use religion to cope in both healthy and unhealthy ways…

Reason #3: Social Support
A final important way that spirituality and religion may impact well-being is through social and emotional support. The word fellowship is often associated with Christian communities, while the words havurah (from the Hebrew for “friendship”) and sangha (Pali for “community”) are used in similar ways by Jews and Buddhists… Read More > at Psychology Today

Remember When Climate Change Meant the End of Coffee? Never Mind – For roughly the last two years, the media has been warning us that climate change is threatening the world’s supply of coffee beans.

According to the hypothesis, growing conditions for coffee will no longer be suitable in many places, and plagues and pestilences will destroy the crops. If that doesn’t kill off coffee, then the lack of pollinators will.

As usual, the media wasn’t shy in its headlines. The New York Times bluntly stated “Climate Change Threatens World’s Coffee Supply, Report Says.” TIME magazine took it a step further: “Your Morning Cup of Coffee Is in Danger. Can the Industry Adapt in Time?” Newsweek, in its typical “dial-it-up-to-11” editorial style, wrote, “Climate Change Effects Could Mean the End of Coffee Beans.”

That’s right. The end of coffee beans. We’ll have to drink tea. I shudder to think of it. Even Popular Science got in on the action: “Climate change will make your coffee cost more and taste worse.”

Thankfully, these are all testable hypotheses. The world has been getting warmer over at least the past few decades, so coffee production should be decreasing, and coffee prices should be going up. Are they?

Nope. According to a new report by the Financial Times, prices for coffee beans have hit a 12-year low. But that’s only taking into account recent data. If we look all the way back to the beginning of time (which, in this case, is the 1970’s), we see that the highest coffee prices, just under $3.40 per pound, occurred in April 1977. Today, the coffee price is about 93 cents per pound. Read More > from The American Council on Science and Health

Investors load up on U.S. stocks while growing cautious about the rest of the world, survey shows – Around the globe, investors are feeling both excited and cautious about stocks, as they bet Wall Street’s record-long bull market has more gas in the tank but also guard against an international picture that looks shaky.

According to the latest monthly survey of fund managers by Bank of America Merrill Lynch, released Tuesday, investors are increasingly optimistic about U.S. stocks. There is a net allocation of 21% overweight to the region’s equity market, the highest such level since January 2015, and it was named as the most favored equity region globally for a second straight month. The allocation to global equities fell 11 percentage points to a net overweight of 22%, slightly below the long-term average.

In large part, the optimism about U.S. stocks is related to the outlook for corporate profits. Earnings growth has been extremely strong — thanks in large part to the tax-cut bill passed in late 2017, although the impact this will have on growth will fade in the coming quarters.

According to the survey, a net 69% of those polled said that U.S. is the most favorable region when it comes to earnings expectations, a record level in the 17-year history of the survey. Currently, the divergence between U.S. and emerging-market earnings expectations is at its widest since January 2014. Read More > at Market Watch

Degree Requirements Make Hiring Less Diverse. Here’s How to Fix That – As hordes of college graduates flood the labor market, their demographics reflect a troubling trend. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, 42.1% of whites ages 25-29 have bachelor’s degrees, compared with just 22.8% of blacks and 18.5% of Hispanics. Minority students attend college at far lower rates than their white counterparts do—and when they do attend, they are far less likely to graduate.

Sadly, higher education’s diversity problem is magnified in the world of work at a time when degrees are being required for entry-level jobs that haven’t historically required them. Just 25% of insurance claims and policy processing clerks, for example, had bachelor’s degrees in 2014, yet half of the open positions at the time required one. That means the millions of Americans who haven’t donned a cap and gown have no chance to prove themselves worthy of the lowest rungs of the corporate ladder.

This challenge is exacerbated by the advent of technologies that render candidates without degrees invisible for most jobs. The posting of jobs online has, for example, made it so easy to search for and apply to jobs that nearly every posting generates hundreds of resumes. Large employers have responded by turning to keyword-based filters to screen out CVs that don’t sufficiently match keywords, like “degree,” in the job description. Read More > at Fortune

California Climate Policies Facing Revolt from Civil-Rights Groups – In April, civil-rights groups sued to stop some of California’s policies designed to address climate change. Then on Monday, California governor Jerry Brown signed into law SB 100, which requires the state’s utilities to obtain all their electricity from carbon-free sources by 2045. Before signing the bill, Brown said the legislation was “sending a message to California and to the world that we’re going to meet the Paris agreement.” In fact, it will only increase the hardships that California’s climate policy imposes on the poor, as detailed in the lawsuit.

High electricity prices should be a concern for California policymakers, since electric rates in the state are already 60 percent higher than those in the rest of the country. According to a recent study by the Berkeley-based think tank Environmental Progress, between 2011 and 2017 California’s electricity rates rose more than five times as fast as those in the rest of the U.S. SB 100 will mean even higher electricity prices for Californians.

In addition to cost, the all-renewable push set forth in SB 100 faces huge challenges with regard to energy storage. Relying solely on renewables will require a battery system large enough to handle massive seasonal fluctuations in wind and solar output. (Wind-energy and solar-energy production in California is roughly three times as great during the summer months as it is in the winter.) According to the Clean Air Task Force, a Boston-based energy-policy think tank, for California to get 80 percent of its electricity from renewables would require about 9.6 terawatt-hours of storage. This would require about 500 million Tesla Powerwalls, or roughly 15 Powerwalls for every resident. A full 100 percent–renewable electricity mandate would require some 36.3 terawatt-hours of storage, or about 60 Powerwalls for every resident of California.

…Even before SB 100 passed, though, California’s leaders were already facing a legal backlash from minority leaders over the high cost of the state’s climate policies. On April 27, The Two Hundred, a coalition of civil-rights leaders, filed a lawsuit in state court against the California Air Resources Board, seeking an injunction against some of the state’s carbon dioxide–reduction rules. The 102-page lawsuit declares that California’s “reputation as a global climate leader is built on the state’s dual claims of substantially reducing greenhouse gas emissions while simultaneously enjoying a thriving economy. Neither claim is true.”

The gist of the lawsuit is this: California’s high housing, transportation, and energy costs are discriminatory because they are a regressive tax on the poor. The suit claims that the state’s climate laws violate the Fair Employment and Housing Act because CARB’s new greenhouse-gas-emissions rules on housing units in the state “have a disparate negative impact on minority communities and are discriminatory against minority communities and their members.” The suit also claims the state’s climate laws are illegal under the Federal Housing Act, again because their effect is felt predominantly by minority communities. It also makes a constitutional claim that minorities are being denied equal protection under the law because California’s climate regulations are making affordable housing unavailable to them.

The lawsuit, which Michael Shellenberger of Environmental Progress spotlighted in his recent Forbes column, points out that since 2007, “California has had the highest poverty rate in the country, over 8 million people living below the US Census Bureau poverty line when housing costs are taken into account.” The lawsuit claims that CARB has “ignored” the state’s “modest scale of greenhouse gas reductions, as well as the highly regressive costs imposed on current state residents by CARB’s climate programs.”

On Thursday I spoke to John Gamboa, a member of The Two Hundred. He said SB 100 is merely the latest example of California politicians’ ignoring the poor and the middle class when making energy policy. “Every time they pass new regulations, the burden falls on the people who can least afford it,” he told me. “That’s the history of the environmental movement: They care more about spotted owls than brown babies.” Read More > from the Manhattan Institute

More Than Faster Phones: The Life-Changing Potential of 5G Technology – In 1969, it was space travel. Today, the world’s most tech-savvy nations are in a race for 5G – networks that operate 100 times more quickly than today’s cellular networks.

So what’s behind this competition to achieve 5G?

First, buffering and lag will be a thing of the past, reducing the download time of a two-hour movie – which now requires six minutes – to only 3.6 seconds. But the impacts of 5G are more far-reaching than faster download speeds on our mobile devices. 5G allows for the lighting-speed transmission of massive amounts of data, making the potential applications of this technology life-changing.

Imagine the future of health care in a world of seamless connectivity. Doctors can remotely diagnose symptoms in real time – a potentially life-saving development for people who physically can’t get to a doctor’s office. With robotic-assisted laser surgery, doctors can perform complex operations with greater precision on patients on the other side of the world. Medical students can virtually tour the inside of the human body.

But this is just the beginning.

Full-scale adoption of 5G will make smart cities a reality. If our current 4G connectivity made WAZE, Uber and smart parking possible, imagine the capabilities of a faster network.

The science behind smart cities lies in the Internet of Things (IoT) – the connection of all devices through the internet – allowing sensors to connect with one other across a city to collect and relay data, leading to more efficient public services. In a smart city, self-driving vehicles, energy grids, transportation networks and water systems will all be controlled in the cloud, allowing readily available data to be quickly shared. Streetlights will dim when no pedestrians or vehicles are present. Connected-car data will help improve traffic and road conditions. Read More > at Real Clear Markets

China is inventing a whole new way to oppress a people – The growing, horrifying oppression of Muslims in a western Chinese province marks a key moment in Beijing’s expansionist drive — and its global competition with America.

A key part of China’s manufacturing machine, Xinjiang province is a gateway to Central Asia, and therefore crucial for President Xi Jinping’s Belt and Road Initiative, a plan to create a formidable China-dominated realm all the way to the Indian Ocean and the Mideast.

The province’s 11 million Uighurs call it “East Turkistan.” They look different than most Chinese, have a different culture, practice moderate Islam — and have been oppressed by Beijing for decades. But now, seen as a major stumbling block to Xi’s new ambitions, China’s Communist Party has escalated its control.

In Xinjiang, Beijing is honing to perfection such tactics as facial recognition, personal-background data-mining and DNA collection. Scannable codes are posted on apartment buildings where suspected Uighur dissidents live. Such practices, reminiscent of 1940s low-tech identification of Jewish residences under German control, may expand beyond the Uighur province.

Up to 1 million Uighurs were sent to re-education camps for “sins” like eating Halal food or growing beards longer than Beijing allows. According to some reports, those interned in camps are forced to eat pork, study Xi’s writing and participate in intensive forced-labor projects. Some are executed; many don’t survive for other reasons. Read More > in the New York Post

Self-driving homes could be the future of affordable housing – The convergence of new technologies including artificial intelligence, the internet of things, electric cars, and drone delivery systems suggests an unlikely solution to the growing housing crisis. In the next few years, we may use an app on our smartphones to notify our houses to pick us up or drop us off.

Honda recently announced the IeMobi Concept. It is an autonomous mobile living room that attaches and detaches from your home. When parked, the vehicle becomes a 50-square-foot living or workspace. Mercedes-Benz Vans rolled out an all-electric digitally-connected van with fully integrated cargo space and drone delivery capability, and Volvo just unveiled its 360c concept vehicle that serves as either a living room or mobile office. In other cases, some folks are simply retrofitting existing vehicles. One couple in Oxford England successfully converted a Mercedes Sprinter van into a micro-home that includes 153 square feet of living space, a complete kitchen, a sink, a fridge, a four-person dining area, and hidden storage spaces.

For those who are either unwilling or unable to own a home, self-driving van houses could become a convenient and affordable solution. Soon, our mobile driverless vehicles may allow us to work from our cars and have our laundry and a hot meal delivered at the same time. In Los Angeles alone, it is estimated that 15,000 people are already living in their cars and in most countries it is perfectly legal to live in your vehicle. Read More > at The Architects Newspaper

Whole Fat Dairy: It Does a Body Good – In its latest healthy intake dietary guidelines, the U.S. government recommends that Americans avoid whole fat dairy products and instead consume fat-free and low-fat (1 percent) dairy, including milk, yogurt, and cheese. A new prospective cohort study published in The Lancet suggests that the government’s recommendation is bunk.

The study followed the eating habits of more than 130,000 people for more than 9 years. It found that folks who consume higher levels of whole fat dairy products actually lowered their overall mortality and cardiovascular disease risks compared to those who consumed lower amounts or none.

As the study notes, nutritionists have long recommended that people minimize their consumption of whole-fat dairy products on the ground that they are a source of saturated fats and are presumed to adversely affect blood lipids and increase cardiovascular disease and mortality. On the basis of this study, that recommendation is exactly backward: Consuming less whole fat dairy is associated with higher cardiovascular and mortality risk. Read More > at Reason

California Finally Legalizes Street Vending – Yesterday, Gov. Jerry Brown signed into law SB 946. This bill, sponsored by state Senator Ricardo Lara (D–Bell Gardens), formally legalizes sidewalk vending within California and forbids cities from completely banning street merchants.

Sadly, it’s not a free-market free-for-all. Cities and counties can still regulate and license vendors for public safety and welfare concerns and will have some controls over time and place. But the law makes it clear municipalities can’t confine sidewalk vendors to certain neighborhoods or ban them entirely.

It’s a significant development for the many California residents—many of them immigrants—who want to earn a living without being harassed by police, arrested, or having their property destroyed. (Remember the University of California police officer in Berkeley shutting down an unlicensed hot dog vendor and taking his money? The Los Angeles war on bacon-wrapped hot dogs?)

SB 946 also helps to take care of those previous crackdowns by dismissing all current cases being prosecuted and allowing persons who had previously been convicted to petition for dismissal. And further, the law requires that future enforcement of street vending regulations be handled by administrative fines, not misdemeanor charges. Read More > at Reason

Falsified Soil Samples To Stalled Development: Hunters Point Shipyard Mired In Ongoing Controversy – San Francisco’s largest redevelopment in over 100 years is becoming one of its most controversial developments.

Hunters Point, also known as San Francisco Shipyard, and the nearby Candlestick Point, the site of the former 49ers stadium, have been lauded as a huge future mixed-use community with 12,000 housing units and millions of square feet of office. Controversy surrounding falsified soil testing at Hunters Point is making it difficult for the development to move forward.

Hunters Point is a former naval base station that tested nuclear weapons and was listed as a Superfund site by the EPA in 1989. Cleanup had been going forward as planned until the U.S. Navy first noticed issues with soil samples not matching data in 2012.

Since then Tetra Tech employees, who were hired to clean up the soil, have come forward admitting to falsifying soil sample data. Investigations have ramped up this year after reports revealed the extent of the issue, and the future of the development is now in question. Read More > at Bisnow

Lyft marks its 1 billionth ride as it expands beyond cars – Lyft may be an underdog relative to Uber, but it’s still huge in the transportation world. The ridesharing firm has officially provided 1 billion rides, including 233 million shared rides. That pales in comparison to Uber’s 10 billion trips. However, Uber also got a three-year head start (2009 versus 2012) and has focused on international expansion where Lyft only ventured outside the US last year. It’s doing well considering its scale.

The milestone comes as Lyft is in the midst of rapid growth. It added about 100 more US cities in 2017 on top of its fledgling international presence. More importantly, though, it’s expanding beyond the car rides that have dominated its business for the past six years. It just launched its first electric scooter services, and it recently bought the company behind CitiBike as part of a move to offer pedal-powered transportation. In other words, the next billion rides may look very different than the first — only some of them may involve a car and a separate driver. Read More > at Engadget

Why can’t more than four people have a conversation at once? – It’s called the “dinner party problem”: A table of four or fewer people may happily converse as one, but a party of five or more will splinter fairly quickly into separate conversations of two or three four people each. What is it about the number four?

…the Oxford University evolutionary psychologist who theorized that cohesion in any human social group falls apart once the group reaches 150—a figure now known as Dunbar’s number. But just as the dynamics of large groups start changing around 150, something also happens to the casual conversations of small groups once they surpass four members.

Social psychologists have noted the pattern in group conversations in research stretching back decades. There’s evidence that this four-person limit on conversations has been in place for about as long as humans have been having chatting with one another. Shakespeare rarely allowed more than four speaking characters in any scene; ensemble films rarely have more than four actors interacting at once. But why do we max out at four?

Pairs (or “dyads,” in psychology research parlance) are the essential building blocks of a society. Let’s imagine a conversation between four hypothetical humans: you, Chris, Pat, and Taylor. In a four-person conversation, there are six possible pairs of people who can be talking to one another at once. you and Chris, you and Pat, you and Taylor, Chris and Pat, Chris and Taylor, and Pat and Taylor. That’s three pairs you’re part of, and three pairs you’re not. Essentially, you have a role in influencing half of the possible conversations that could be happening in that group.

If there are three people in the conversation, there are three possible pairs, only one of which excludes you. If there are five people, there are 10 possible pairs, and the majority—six—don’t include you, which makes it harder to get your point across. Read More > at Quartz

Can Millennials Save Tesla? – While they already had their hands full killing mayonnaise, Applebee’s, and countless other industries that make up the cornerstone of American culture, in these past weeks millennials were proving themselves to be excellent multitaskers by putting their money into another, far more surprising basket – they appear to be set on saving Tesla.

It’s been a remarkably hard year for Tesla, with a massive wave of executive departures, a misguided venture to privatize, relentless bad press and multiple negative social media posts surrounding Elon Musk. Just this month, Tesla shares plummeted a further 10 percent after the electric car company announced that its chief accountant Dave Morton and head of communications Sarah O’Brien would be cutting ties with Tesla. At the same time, human resources chief Gaby Toledano revealed that she would be extending her leave of absence. As if this weren’t grim enough, Tesla’s vice president of worldwide finance and operations Justin McAnear is also leaving the company, making it a total of 10 key directors that have left the company within the last 12 months.

The impetus for Tesla’s swift summertime downfall was a direct announcement from Elon Musk’s account on August 7th, stating that he would be taking the company private and that he had already secured the funding. An SEC subpoena and high-decibel outcry from investors both for and against the company were soon to follow. In the end, Tesla shares lost a whopping 19 percent in a month following the tweet and are down a total of 9 percent for the year.

Despite the bad press, bad blood, and disappointing numbers, millennial investors have stayed loyal to Elon Musk and Tesla, to the surprise of nearly everyone who reads the news… Read More > at Yahoo! Finance

The Awful Truth About Expanding Social Security Benefits – In July, more than 62 million people received a Social Security benefit, almost 70% of whom are retired workers the program was designed to protect. Of these aged beneficiaries, the Social Security Administration (SSA) finds that 62% are reliant on their monthly check to account for at least half of their income, with 34% leaning on their payout for virtually all of their income (90% plus). Or, in simpler terms, without the guaranteed monthly benefit that Social Security provides to qualifying retired workers, we’d likely be dealing with a major elderly poverty crisis right now.

But for as pivotal as Social Security has been in forging a foundation for our nation’s retirees, many would suggest it’s not going far enough. The average retired worker took home only $1,414.73 in July, which works out to less than $17,000 a year. By comparison, the federal poverty level for a single person is $12,140 in 2018. That’s not a lot of cushion. Though it’s a program the SSA cautions will only replace about 40% of the average worker’s wages during retirement, current and future retirees would like to see those benefits expanded.

Unfortunately, the awful truth is that expanding Social Security benefits just isn’t a viable option at the moment.

According to the newest Social Security Board of Trustees report, the program is set to hit a major inflection point this year. Beginning in 2018 and continuing every year thereafter, the SSA is projected to expend more than it generates in annual income. Although the program has a healthy amount of excess cash that’s been built up over the past 35 years (nearly $2.9 trillion), it’s expected to dwindle over the next 16 years. By 2034, Social Security’s asset reserves are estimated to be depleted.

What happens then? The good news is that payouts continue without interruption. Even without the interest income provided by the program’s excess cash, the 12.4% payroll tax and the taxation of benefits ensures that revenue will keep flowing in. Short of Congress changing the way that Social Security is funded, it simply can’t go bankrupt. Read More > at Motley Fool

Just who is an independent contractor? – A sweeping new California Supreme Court ruling restricting who is an independent contractor is shaking up an exceptionally diverse range of industries.

The ruling, issued in April, affects an estimated 2 million independent contractors working in healthcare, beauty salons, gig economy jobs like Uber and Lyft, journalism, music, real estate, education, financial planning, agriculture, construction, technology, insurance, transportation and more.

The decision is praised by the California Labor Federation as offering workers protections like minimum wage, unemployment, workers’ compensation and disability insurance. But some independent contractors say they like their freedom and have no interest in being employees.

…The ruling on Dynamex Operations West Inc. vs. Superior Court of Los Angeles provides a new three-part “ABC” test to determine who can be an independent contractor. The ruling says that the worker must (A) be free from control and direction from the hiring business, (B) must perform work outside the scope of the hiring entity’s usual business and (C) the worker must have an independent business of the same nature of work (demonstrated by taking out a business license or marketing services, etc.).

The biggest change is Part B, which was never included under previous law.

The court ruling has put doctors in a bind who are now caught between this ruling and the state Business and Professions Code, which bars hospitals from directly employing most physicians. Many doctors serve as independent contractors at several hospitals – sometimes working a few shifts at safety net hospitals, which provide lower reimbursement rates, and other shifts at higher-end hospitals which pay more. Because they set their own schedules, they can have more time to spend with children and family if they choose. Read More > at Capitol Weekly

HSR projected real estate costs nearly double to $1.5 billion for Valley segment – Among the many challenges that threaten California’s embattled high-speed rail project now under construction in the San Joaquin Valley, one of the more persistent has been the state’s difficulties in buying the real estate it needs for the route.

When the first $1 billion construction contract was awarded in 2013 for a 29-mile stretch in Fresno and Madera counties, only a few of the parcels of property needed for right of way were available for the contractor to start work. And while the California High-Speed Rail Authority and its property consultants are making progress, there are still hundreds of parcels remaining to be bought or condemned before work can commence on them.

And as engineers tinker and fine-tune the design of the three construction segments between Madera and Bakersfield, the overall number of parcels needed has grown, putting the agency even further behind – even as an economy in rebound after the 2007-09 recession sends real estate prices ever higher.

The combined result is that the total estimated cost for property in the Valley has nearly doubled in just four years, as have other costs for the 120 miles of the route for which work is under way. In 2014, the budget for real estate acquisition was about just over $764 million. Now, the estimated costs are projected to be more than $1.5 billion – of which a little more than $1 billion had been spent as of July 31. Read More > in The Fresno Bee

California Super-Commuters Are Transforming Sleepy Suburbs Into Busy Metros – With residents moving out of major cities but keeping their jobs in those cities, there has been a growth in the number of super-commuters in California. (Super-commuters are those who travel 90 minutes or more to get to work.) Nationwide, the number of super-commuters grew 30% to 4 million from 2005 to 2016.

The bulk of super-commuters into the Bay Area come from Stockton. As of 2016, about 10% of Stockton’s commuters were super-commuters, according to the East Bay Times. Over 28,000 people commute up to 80 miles or more from Stockton into the Bay Area. One Stockton woman wakes up at 2:15 a.m. to catch two trains that will get her to her job at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services in San Francisco by 7 a.m. In Southern California, over 127,000 super-commuters drive from Riverside into Los Angeles for work and make up 7.3% of Riverside’s commuters.

Traffic into job centers has gotten worse. About 625,000 vehicles commute into the inner Bay Area every day, Regan said. Most of these vehicles enter from the Interstate 80 and 580 corridors from the North Central Valley and Sacramento areas.

As of June 2017, there has been one housing unit built for every 4.3 jobs in the Bay Area created since 2011, according to the Building Industry Association.

Building homes near jobs would reduce traffic and take cars off the road, but many communities have opposed new developments, believing more housing would increase traffic in their neighborhoods, Regan said. Read More > at Bisnow

California Police Chief Claims Legal Weed Delivery Could Lead to ‘Assaults and Homicides’ – A proposal under consideration in California would allow marijuana businesses to deliver weed straight to people’s doorsteps, even in places where it’s illegal to sell pot.

Sounds convenient, right? Not according to Morgan Hill Police Chief David Swing, president of the California Police Chiefs Association (CPCA), who warned the proposal could lead to robberies, assaults, and homicides.

It’s been nearly two years since California voters approved a ballot initiative legalizing marijuana for recreational use, and more than eight months since the measure took effect. But marijuana sales are still banned in almost 85 percent of cities and counties in the state, according to Weedmaps. As a result, advocates on both sides are still debating whether or not cannabis retailers should be able to deliver their products to homes in localities where selling pot isn’t allowed.

A 2017 state law says “a local jurisdiction shall not prevent transportation of cannabis or cannabis products on public roads” by marijuana retailer licensed to make home deliveries. Alex Traverso, a spokesperson for the California Bureau of Cannabis Control (BCC), tells the Los Angeles Times that the proposal currently being considered would “clarify” that licensed retailers can “deliver to any jurisdiction within the state of California.” Read More > at Reason

IBM Is Being Sued for Age Discrimination After Firing Thousands – A lawyer known for battling tech giants over the treatment of workers has set her sights on International Business Machines Corp.

Shannon Liss-Riordan on Monday filed a class-action lawsuit in federal court in Manhattan on behalf of three former IBM employees who say the tech giant discriminated against them based on their age when it fired them. Liss-Riordan, a partner at Lichten & Liss-Riordan in Boston, has represented workers against Amazon, Uber and Google and has styled her firm as the premier champion for employees left behind by powerful tech companies.

“Over the last several years, IBM has been in the process of systematically laying off older employees in order to build a younger workforce,” the former employees claim in the suit, which draws heavily on a ProPublica report published in March that said the company has fired more than 20,000 employees older than 40 in the last six years.

The lawsuit comes as IBM faces questions about its firing practices. In exhaustive detail, the ProPublica report made the case that IBM systematically broke age-discrimination rules. Meanwhile, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has consolidated complaints against IBM into a single, targeted investigation, according to a person familiar with it. A spokeswoman for the EEOC declined to comment.

In the last decade, IBM has fired thousands of people in the U.S., Canada and other high-wage jurisdictions in an effort to cut costs and retool its workforce after coming late to the cloud computing and mobile tech revolutions. Read More > at Bloomberg

A Decade After Housing Bust, California Markets Pace Recovery – A decade after the collapse of the housing market and start of the Great Recession, home values have more than recovered in most of the nation’s largest markets, according to research by Zillow. The markets with the highest gains above the mid-2000s bubble are primarily in the West and Southwest.

San Jose, the nation’s most expensive metro, leads the way with a current median home value of $1.29 million, 74% higher than the top of the bubble and more than double its post-crash low. Denver follows with its median value of $397,800 representing a 66% increase from the bubble’s peak. In all, home values in 21 of the nation’s largest 35 markets are higher than their pre-recession peaks. Read More > at Connect

Coca-Cola says it’s ‘closely watching’ the opportunities in CBD-infused beverages – Coca-Cola Co. confirmed on Monday that it is considering the opportunities in CBD-infused beverages, drinks that contain the non-psychoactive ingredient in marijuana, cannabidiol. In a statement, Coca-Cola said: “Along with many others in the beverage industry, we are closely watching the growth of non-psychoactive CBD as an ingredient in functional wellness beverages around the world. The space is evolving quickly. No decisions have been made at this time.” The largest beverage company in the world would be joining other big names including Molson Coors Co. and Constellation Brands Inc. that have made investments in the space. Coca-Cola and other carbonated-beverage businesses have sought out new products in areas like bottled water and wellness drinks as soda consumption has declined. Interest in the space has driven up shares of cannabis companies like Canopy Growth Corp. nearly 107% for the year so far. According to Bloomberg, Coca-Cola is in discussions with Aurora Cannabis Inc. about new products. Coca-Cola shares have edged up 0.2% for 2018 to date, and the Dow Jones Industrial Average is up 5.8% for the period. Read More > at Market Watch

Rite Aid Investors Got What They Wanted, Unfortunately – There’s buyer’s remorse. There’s seller’s remorse. Rite Aid (NYSE:RAD) investors may be experiencing non-seller’s remorse.

Shares of the struggling drugstore chain have plummeted 36% since the end of July, hitting five-year lows earlier this month. The company has taken a beating since announcing that it will not be merging with Albertsons.

Rite Aid was set to combine its remaining assets with grocery store giant Albertsons in a new company generating $60 billion in annual sales, but there was plenty of vocal dissent. Several institutional and retail investors argued that the deal undervalued what Rite Aid was bringing to the table. A couple of shareholder advisory firms agreed. They figured that Rite Aid could do better than settling for nearly 30% of the combined company. Some thought it could fare better on its own or try to smoke out another suitor.

We’re now six weeks removed from Rite Aid conceding the obvious, calling off the merger just before the shareholder vote that would’ve rejected the proposal. If investors were expecting Rite Aid stock to bounce back after the merger’s undoing, they’re now poorer in more ways than one. The stock has surrendered a third of its value, and recent analyst comments have been brutal on Rite Aid’s prospects as a stand-alone entity. Read More > at Motley Fool

California’s Electricity Dreams Still Need Natural Gas – Already requiring 33% renewables by 2020 and 50% by 2030, California Governor Jerry Brown just signed SB 100, mandating that 100% of the state’s electricity comes from “carbon-free” sources by 2045, largely leaning on renewables like wind and solar. This truly is the Golden State’s energy challenge of a lifetime.

Renewables now account for almost 33% of California’s electricity And solar power will remain the heart of California’s clean energy push (particularly rooftop solar), with the state generating about 45% of all U.S. electricity that comes from that big bright yellow thing in the sky. Today, solar is over 12% of California’s electricity generation, versus just 2% back in 2013.

Yet, as overwhelmingly a natural gas- and oil-based state, the challenge put forth by California is an immense one. Even on the windiest and sunniest days, these renewables are intermittent, typically available only around 35% of the time. In literally a matter of minutes, winds can disappear or a cloud can block out the sun. For example, quite inconveniently, solar is naturally fading as an energy source when residents are returning home from work at 6 pm, right when electricity is used most.

It’s a constant chore for operators to balance these intermittent resources on the grid, so it’s clean and flexible natural gas that usually compensates during the lull times. Again, natural gas may come in third on the “loading order” of power behind efficiency and renewables, but gas is often deployed first because it’s the most predictable and reliable of the three. This necessity to use more gas to backup wind and solar is why California’s regulators have wisely forced troubled gas storage facility in the Los Angeles metro area to remain open despite public opposition. Read More > at Forbes

Out of Stock This Holiday Season: Store Workers – Shoppers are filing back into stores ahead of the holiday season. Unfortunately for retailers, workers are not.

Staffing up for the year-end crush is an annual challenge for retailers. But with unemployment at record lows, this year is shaping up to be an exceptional slog.

There were 757,000 retail job openings across the country in July, about 100,000 more than the same time a year ago. The number of openings surpassed the number of hires from March through June for the first time in a decade, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. And some big cities, including New York, San Francisco and Seattle, are facing a shortage of workers with retail skills, according to data from LinkedIn.

Retailers are responding by starting the push for holiday workers earlier than ever, raising wages and offering extra perks such as profit-sharing and paid time off for part-time associates. They are also hosting recruiting marathons with the goal of hiring thousands of workers in a single day. Read More > in The Wall Street Journal

About Kevin

Councilmember - City of Oakley, Manager of Mainframe Operations and Optimization – USS-POSCO INDUSTRIES, Co-Founder and Board Member - Friends of Oakley A Community Foundation, Commissioner - Contra Costa Transportation Authority, Board Member - Tri Delta Transit, Transplan, San Joaquin Joint Powers Authority and RD 2137, Advisory Board – Opportunity Junction
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