Friday, February 28, 2020

The Financial Markets

The "spot" would be the bond market.  Not even during the world war were bond yields this low.

Pope still under the weather

Pope Francis called in sick again today. No word on the exact nature of his illness.


Turkey opens its border to Europe for 3.6 million migrants

Mobs rush Greek border. Greeks repel them with tear gas and force.


Thursday, February 27, 2020

Pope Francis is ill a day after supporting coronavirus sufferers

Pope Francis has come down with a “slight indisposition,” forcing him to cancel a planned Mass in Rome, just a day after he expressed his solidarity with coronavirus sufferers around the world — and as the disease continues to spread across Italy.

The illness has forced the 82-year-old pontiff to nix a penitential Mass, marking the start of Lent, that he’d planned to celebrate at the St. John Lateran basilica across town with Roman clergy, the Vatican said.

Francis will proceed with the rest of his planned work Thursday, but “preferred to stay near Santa Marta,” the Vatican hotel where he lives, officials said.

The Vatican has not specified the nature of the pope’s illness, but he was seen coughing and blowing his nose during Ash Wednesday Mass.

Meanwhile, 400 cases of coronavirus have been confirmed in Italy, and 12 people have died. Most of the cases have been reported in northern Italy.

Read the rest here.

If COVID-19 hits the US hard Trump could take some blame

...The Trump administration has cut funding for the US Center for Disease Control by 9pc. This month he proposed slashing it a further 16pc. The worst hit area has been pandemic preparation. The CDC’s global health security initiative has been chopped by 80pc, reducing country coverage from 49 to 10.

Mr Trump got rid of the US Complex Crises Fund. He shut down the pandemic and global health machinery at the White House, and fired the lot. He tried to cut the budget of the National Institutes of Health - the world’s finest concentration of science - by 20pc in 2018, and by 27pc in 2019. Congress stopped the worst but damage has been done.

Tom Frieden, ex-head of the CDC, warned two years ago that the cuts would leave the US at the mercy of the next killer virus. “The surveillance systems will die, so we won’t know if something happens. You can’t pull up the drawbridge and expect viruses not to travel,” he said. Ouch.

It has been a war on science.  Mr Trump’s cuts have nothing to do with fiscal austerity. They happened just as he was pushing through tax cuts and driving the US cyclically-adjusted budget deficit to 6.3pc of GDP (IMF data), spraying money with Peronist abandon. The science cuts were ideological. Some readers chide me for being an unreconciled Never Trumper. This is why. 

And now the White House has a disaster on its hands. “The epidemiological conditions for a pandemic are met,” said Prof Marc Lipsitch, Harvard’s guru on infectious diseases. Don’t be fooled by the seemingly low numbers of infections in the US (57 as I write): the country has tested just 426 people. Only three of the 100 public health labs even have working test kits.

One reason why South Korea appears to have so many cases is because it has carried out 44,981 tests. “They are looking, so they are finding,” says professor Caitlin Rivers from John Hopkins University.  

Read the rest here. (paywall)

A Whiff of Panic on Wall Street

Stocks down another 2.5%. Real (inflation adjusted) bond yields now negative across the yield curve. Gold and silver both at multi-year highs.

Tuesday, February 25, 2020

A sobering reflection on the GOA's step towards open communion

Marriage and the Cup of Salvation

HT: Dr. Tighe via email

C.D.C. Officials Warn of Coronavirus Outbreaks in the U.S.

The coronavirus almost certainly will begin spreading in communities in the United States, and Americans should begin preparations now, officials at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said on Tuesday.

“It’s not so much of a question of if this will happen anymore but rather more of a question of exactly when this will happen,” said Dr. Nancy Messonnier, director of the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, said in a new briefing.

The news caps weeks of fear that the coronavirus spreading from China may become a pandemic, disrupting the global economy and political landscape in ways that are difficult to forecast.

Iran, South Korea and Italy are now grappling with clusters of infection, even as the epidemic in China’s Hubei Province seems to be slowing.

The emergence of these new hubs underscored the lack of a coordinated global strategy to combat the coronavirus, which has infected nearly 80,000 people in 37 countries, causing at least 2,600 deaths.

Officials at the C.D.C. said they did not know whether spread of the disease to the United States would be mild or severe. But Americans should be ready for a significant disruption to their daily lives, she added.

“We are asking the American public to prepare for the expectation that this might be bad,” Dr. Messonnier said.

Read the rest here.

Monday, February 24, 2020

LA Times: Trump has flipped the 9th Circuit —

...and some new judges are causing a ‘shock wave’

When President Trump ticks off his accomplishments since taking office, he frequently mentions his aggressive makeover of a key sector of the federal judiciary — the circuit courts of appeal, where he has appointed 51 judges to lifetime jobs in three years.

In few places has the effect been felt more powerfully than in the sprawling 9th Circuit, which covers California and eight other states. Because of Trump’s success in filling vacancies, the San Francisco-based circuit, long dominated by Democratic appointees, has suddenly shifted to the right, with an even more pronounced tilt expected in the years ahead.

Trump has now named 10 judges to the 9th Circuit — more than one-third of its active judges — compared with seven appointed by President Obama over eight years.
“Trump has effectively flipped the circuit,” said 9th Circuit Judge Milan D. Smith Jr., an appointee of President George W. Bush.

Read the rest here.

Friday, February 21, 2020

Greek Archbishop of America declares open Communion for non-Orthodox spouses

Archbishop Elpidophoros, the primate of the Patriarchate of Constantinople’s Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America, caused a stir yesterday at the opening of the 29th annual Leadership 100 Conference at the Breakers Resort in Palm Beach, Florida.

The Archbishop Iakovos Leadership 100 Fund Incorporated is a corporation that supports the National Ministries of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese in advancement of Orthodoxy and Hellenism. 

As multiple participants in the conference are reporting, in front of dozens of participants, Abp. Elpidophoros declared that anyone who was married in the Orthodox Church can receive Communion in the Orthodox Church, regardless of whether they are Orthodox or not. 

His statement came during the question and answer portion of his talk. 

As the Orthodox Church firmly teaches that only baptized and chrismated members of the Church can commune, the Archbishop’s statement upset many people. 

He previously addressed the issue of mixed marriages at the Archdiocesan Council meeting in October, hinting at what he openly declared yesterday. After noting that nearly 50% of all Orthodox Christians in America are converts, including 25% in the Greek Archdiocese, the Archbishop stated:
With this in mind, I would make this suggestion: instead of calling marriages with non-Orthodox spouses “mixed marriages,” might we not better refer to them as “miracle marriages?” For these marriages are the main road that ushers converts to the Faith. As the Apostle Paul says: How do you know, O wife, whether you will save your husband? Or how do you know, O husband, whether you will save your wife? (I Cor. 7:16). 

While speaking above about marriage leading to spouses converting to holy Orthodoxy, Abp. Elpidophoros went on say:
Every faithful marriage is a miracle marriage—a miracle of God’s love and a Mystery to be celebrated with joy and embraced with thanksgiving. Whether or not the spouse joins the Church in a formal way through Chrismation, they are still 100% part of our community, and should be embraced as such. If we are to be a Church that truly serves and embraces our young people who live in a technologically advanced and pluralistic world, we must embrace the strangers in our midst—make them strangers no more, and embrace all the members of our community and our Country. 

The Patriarchate of Constantinople previously made waves when it announced that it would allow priests whose wives died or abandoned them to enter into second marriages, thereby contradicting the long-standing canonical Tradition of the Church. 

In October, the Holy Eparchial Synod of the Greek Archdiocese in America announced that it was petitioning Constantinople to allow three clergymen to remarry. 

Thursday, February 20, 2020

Russian Church Supports Move to Define Marriage as Between One Man and One Woman

His Eminence Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk, the head of the Moscow Patriarchate’s Department for External Church Relations, supports the recent statements from President Vladimir Putin in favor of the traditional understanding of the family as the union of a man and a woman. 

“As for ‘parent # 1’ and ‘parent # 2, I have already said publicly once before, and I will repeat again: as long as I am President, we will not have parents one and two—we will have a father and mother,” the President said on February 13 at a meeting with the working group on preparing amendments to the Constitution. 

He also supported the initiative that “the concept of marriage as a union of a man and a woman should be enshrined in the basic law.” 

“I am glad that the President openly stated this, because, unfortunately, I see what is happening in some Western countries with the absolutely unabashed, shameless, intrusive and aggressive propaganda of so-called alternative family lifestyles, when, for example, two men or two women can create a family and adopt a child. Then it will not be mom and dad, but, indeed, ‘parent #1’ and ‘parent #2,’” Met. Hilarion commented, as reports Foma

Referring to the fact that Western society is now being insistently taught that marriage can take multiple forms, the Metropolitan stressed: “But I think that in our country, where the absolute majority of people adhere to traditional values, even regardless of their religious affiliation, it is very important that the Constitution enshrines this concept of marriage as a union between a man and a woman.” 

Vladimir Legoida, head of the Synodal Department for Relations Between the Church and Society and the Media, also commented on the President’s statement, saying, “The Church certainly welcomes this statement of the President. It is a designation of the most important position for all traditional religions: that marriage is the union of a man and a woman. Unfortunately, legislation in a number of countries, and countries with a Christian tradition, already contains different formulations. In accordance with these formulations, new life realities that destroy the very foundations of society and family relations are legalized.” 

His Holiness Patriarch Kirill also earlier proposed adding a reference to God to the Russian constitution.


The Democratic Debate...

Bloomberg bombs, Sanders gets a pass, Warren does well and may get a bump. The others largely can say that they were there.

Tuesday, February 18, 2020

Sam Donaldson Endorses Bloomberg and (some) Journalists Throw a Fit

I am 53 and have to wonder how many people younger than me even know who he is. Of those who like me, remember him, after getting past that initial response of "I didn't know he was still alive," most off us are likely to respond with a giant "who cares?" But apparently some in his former profession (he has been retired for seven years) think that the journalistic code of ethics (try not to laugh) is a bit like the mob; once in never out. Which is to say they think he has forever forfeited his right to express political opinions because he used to be the White House correspondent for ABC News.


Whatever one may think of his opinions, he is entitled to them and he has not forfeited his basic rights to freedom of expression. Donaldson is retired, and has been for quite a while. If he was still on the job, then yes, his endorsement would have been seriously unethical. But he isn't. These people need to get over their inflated view of themselves.


Monday, February 17, 2020

Protestants to receive Communion at first Catholic Mass in Geneva Cathedral since Reformation

GENEVA, February 4, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) — The first Catholic Mass in Geneva’s cathedral since the Reformation takes place at the end of this month and Protestants have been invited to attend and receive Holy Communion.

Moreover, although Catholic Church canon law does not permit intercommunion, it is reportedly a common practice in Geneva, according to Swiss Protestant news agency Protestinfo.

Fr. Pascal Desthieux, Catholic episcopal vicar for the canton of Geneva, will say Mass in Saint-Pierre Reformed Protestant Cathedral at 6:30 p.m. on February 29, at the invitation of the Protestant cathedral’s parish council.

Read the rest here.

Sunday, February 16, 2020

The White House doesn’t trust China’s coronavirus numbers

The coronavirus that emerged from China’s Hubei province over a month ago and has spread to two dozen countries is already fueling mistrust from the U.S. government on whether China can provide accurate information about the epidemic. 

The White House said this week it does “not have high confidence in the information coming out of China” regarding the count of coronavirus cases, a senior administration official told CNBC. Meanwhile, China has reportedly been reluctant to accept help from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and has reportedly suppressed information about the outbreak from scientists that it deems alarming.

U.S. officials’ mistrust of China goes as far back as the 1950s, when national authorities set unrealistic production quotas that led local officials to inflate data. Mishaps with the 2003 outbreak of SARS, which sickened 8,098 people and killed about 800 over nine months, and discrepancies in reporting of economic data over the past two decades has only hardened the U.S. government’s belief that China cannot be trusted, experts say. White House advisor Peter Navarro has even called China a “disease incubator.”

Since emerging from the city of Wuhan, the new virus has spread from about 300 people as of mid-January to more than 64,000 as of Friday — with the number of new cases growing by the thousands every day. World health officials say China’s response to the virus is an improvement from past outbreaks. China has been more transparent, World Health Organization officials told reporters this week. Chinese health authorities quickly isolated the virus’ genetic sequence and shared it on a public database in a matter of weeks, they said, giving scientists a chance to identify it.

Read the rest here.

‘Fighting like ferrets in a bag’ as EU tries to plug Brexit cash hole

Presidents, prime ministers and chancellors across Europe will pack their bags later this week in preparation for a long weekend in Brussels. They won’t, however, be taking in the baroque majesty of the Grand Place or savouring the local culinary treats. Instead, they will be preparing for that most infamous of events, a “four shirter”, to use the clothes-packing gauge adopted by male diplomats to measure the length and horror of EU leaders’ summits in the Belgian capital. The thorny subject this time around? Money. And the problem? Britain.

The UK’s withdrawal from the European Union has left a huge €75bn (£62bn) hole in the bloc’s budget for the next seven years, 2021 to 2027. “And now we are fighting like ferrets in a sack,” said one EU diplomat with a sigh.

Covering items ranging from agricultural subsidies to science programmes and the EU’s efforts to combat the climate emergency, the new multi-annual financial framework (MFF) needs to be agreed by the leaders and an increasingly unpredictable European parliament before the end of the year. Without agreement, everything risks grinding to a halt in just nine months’ time, including the flow of cohesion funds, the cash dedicated to supporting the poorest member states.

Read the rest here.

Saturday, February 15, 2020

The coming Democratic train wreck

Democrats, I bring you good news. By Election Day, hardly anyone will remember the goat rope known as the Iowa caucuses. Downside: That memory will be obliterated by the infinitely larger train wreck that appears to be looming in July.

After losing narrowly in the 2016 primaries, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) used his clout to strip power from the Democratic Party insiders known as superdelegates — elected officials, union leaders and other pooh-bahs skeptical of his glorious revolution. In meetings to write the rules for 2020, the senator’s loyalists took control of the party to create a more democratic nominating process. But oops! They may have come up with something worse.

Let me explain. Despite contests in Iowa and New Hampshire, the field is still crowded. Sanders, Pete Buttigieg and Amy Klobuchar are riding high. Elizabeth Warren says she’s raised $6 million since flopping in Iowa. Joe Biden, who went from bad to worse in the first two rounds, still leads in some state polls. Tom Steyer and Mike Bloomberg pack 100-ton wallets. Democrats aren’t sure what they want.

The ousted insiders used to have a cure for this problem: winner-take-all primaries. Awarding all of a state’s delegates to the winner in a crowded field, no matter how small the margin of victory, ensured that someone would cross the finish line with enough delegates to be nominated. Winner-take-all contests may have prevented a civil war in the Republican Party in 2016.

But that finger has been taken off the scales. In today’s new and supposedly improved world, Democratic delegates are awarded in rough proportion to the primary and caucus results. Opening a big lead is much harder. Suppose New Hampshire had been winner-take-all. Sanders would have walked away with 24 delegates. Instead, he tallied nine for his narrow victory; Buttigieg also got nine, and Klobuchar left with six.

Handwriting, meet wall. With so many candidates and this set of rules, can anyone win a majority? We have eight highly ambitious, well-funded people hunched feverishly at the craps table, some rolling hot dice, others sure their luck’s about to change. No one’s ready to walk away.

Read the rest here.

Thursday, February 13, 2020

Reflecting on the Treaty of Westphalia and Modern American Foreign Policy

When a crisis in the 17th-century Holy Roman Empire about princely authority and autonomy spiraled into sectarian warfare, Central Europe was plunged into the Thirty Years War. It was to be a conflict so debilitating and deadly that it would prove more proportionally costly in casualties for what is now Germany than even the Second World War. When the Peace of Westphalia finally brought the nightmare to a close in 1648, it was clear that domestic politics had to be separated from diplomacy for any stability to return to Europe. So came an emphasis on the sovereignty of states to police their own affairs while retaining a standardized system for dealing with each other as (ostensible) equals in the international realm. 

While no system can guarantee peace free from geopolitical upset, The Westphalian Peace was nonetheless an improvement over the religious wars of the past. Something like it would also be an improvement over the rampant, American-led liberal hegemony of today. The ideologies of permanent war have had disproportionate influence over the ruling cliques in Washington, D.C., from the Clintonite neoliberals to the Dick Cheney neoconservatives. There are very real material reasons for this, of course, such as defense contracting and the powerful lobbying behind it. But it was on purely ideological terms that America’s dangerous imperial overstretch was sold to a domestic audience. 

Those like former U.N. ambassador Samantha Power would have us believe that there are teeming masses of people abroad just yearning to have American bombs rained down upon them as a solution for their domestic woes. Yet for most of American history, this was not so. The early and rising United States was a nation of diplomats who had taken the lessons of Westphalia to heart. From George Washington and John Quincy Adams up through the start of the 20th century, the importance of keeping domestic ideological arrangements out of sober realist diplomacy was usually understood. It was Woodrow Wilson who departed from this arrangement with his commitment to establishing the United States as guarantor not only of the rights of its own citizens but also the people of foreign nations abroad. His unrealistic vision was rejected by both Congress and most of the world’s other great powers. Still, Britain and America were influenced enough by his thinking to stand aghast when first Japan and then Italy and Germany went about sabotaging the fragile postwar order. It would take a second, more destructive war, with the United States and the U.S.S.R. creating a peace out of their victorious power, to undo the damage that had been done. Two countries that could not have been more internally different became the crux of the most important wartime alliance of the 20th century. Largely forgotten was that the top crime pursued by the allies during the Germans’ postwar trial was that of “waging aggressive war.”

Since the end of the Cold War, and with the checks on America’s ambitions largely removed, we have seen this Wilsonian messianism return, and stronger than before. America’s cultural history of puritanism and faith in its own (culturally and historically specific) institutions has merged with an unchecked hubris. Interventions unrelated to the interests of the average American came in the Balkans and Somalia, and then expanded to nearly the entire Middle East and large swathes of Africa. The justification is always the 9/11 terror attacks. The Bush administration in particular merged all of these trends by marrying the images of apocalyptic religious struggle to the Wilsonian quest for a world order founded on a universal conception of rights. When weapons of mass destruction, the ostensible reason for the invasion of Iraq, failed to turn up, Bush quickly pivoted to another argument: that we would build a new and better Iraq Americanized through our concept of civil society. What we got was the rise of ISIS, sectarian strife, and an empowered Iran greatly expanding its influence throughout that region. It was an outcome abundantly obvious to the many experts who were opposed to the war from the outset.

Read the rest here.

Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Orthodox churches repeatedly vandalized by Muslim refugees on Lesvos

The tense situation on the islands of the northern and eastern Aegean, now home to tens of thousands of refugees, mainly from predominantly Muslim countries, is like a “time bomb ready to blow,” reports the Orthodoxia News Agency.

The locals have reached their limits and are in a constant state of anger and sorrow as the refugees repeatedly attack and desecrate their Orthodox holy sites.

In particular, residents of Moria, Lesvos complain that groups of illegal Muslim immigrants have repeatedly vandalized churches in the area and made direct threats against the Orthodox faith. The Church of St. Catherine is now locked, as residents try to block the entrance and protect it from being desecrated again.

The windows of the church have been broken, the holy cross has been thrown down, and the icons have been overturned. Refugees have also damaged the chapel of Taxiarchis (the Archangel Michael), the patron saint of Mytilini, the capital of Lesvos, breaking in to sleep there. 

With the help of the police, local residents managed to kick the refugees out of the Taxiarchis chapel, “but the picture inside the church was tragic.”

According to a recent report from the Guardian, there are more than 42,000 immigrants on Lesvos and a handful of other islands, who are “unable to leave because of a containment policy determined by the EU, they are forced to remain on the islands until their asylum requests are processed by a system both understaffed and overstretched.”

Police on Lesvos clashed with some 2,000 Afghani migrants and refugees who were participating in a protest rally from the Moria camp to Mytilini last Monday to demand better living conditions and a acceleration of asylum procedures. 

The conditions at the Moira camp are widely recognized to be extremely poor. 

The Democrats

Sanders does not surprise me. The old lefty has always had the hearts and affections of that corner of the Democratic Party (and the others of the left) whose favorite color is red. Boot-edge-edge however, is a surprise. I really did not see him as a credible top tier candidate for multiple reasons. In any event I think Trump will crush either of them in the general election.

Sanders will alienate the center left and more than a few Democrats would stay home if he is the nominee, or they will hold their nose and vote for Trump. Boot-edge-edge will loose because Afro-Americans are by and large cool to outright hostile towards the alphabet people. And there is no Democratic path to the White House that does not require about 90% of the black vote. Bluntly, the Mayor of South Bend Indiana who is white and openly homosexual, has no chance of pulling off those kinds of numbers. I am still a bit shocked that he has leapt to the top tier of candidates.

Amy Klobuchar's campaign doesn't have the money or the organizational depth to go the distance despite her surprising third place finish last night.

Biden and Warren, both at one time seen as the two most likely nominees, are now on life support. Warren is probably done. Biden still has a slim chance but he has to carry South Carolina. If he loses there, it's pretty much game over.

With one exception the others should stop wasting everybody's time and stand down. Several already have. I was honestly sorry to see Yang never got any real traction. Like all of the Democrats, he is wrong on almost every issue I care about, but he isn't a nut and he had moments when he seemed willing to think out of the box.

That leaves the one wild card still waiting to make his appearance in the great game... Bloomberg. He's richer than Trump, probably by a factor, and is willing to spend whatever it takes to beat him. He has relatively little baggage beyond his wealth, which among Democrats is hugely controversial. He is liberal but not crazy. He is not corrupt or functionally illiterate. He grasps the dangers of the widening wealth gap, but doesn't think blowing up the economic system is the way to fix it. He has a dreadful view of gun rights. He has never shown much interest in the leftwing cause du jour, namely identity politics. He supports abortion rights but that flag is nowhere near the top of his masthead. And he is fairly centrist on crime and immigration (at least by Democratic standards).

If the Democratic center remains splintered and weak after South Carolina, he may become the anti-Sanders candidate. And I think he is the one Democrat who has a really good shot at beating Trump in November. But he won't show up on the ballot before March 3.

Will it be too late?

One of the main problems with electric cars

My 2¢...
  •  Electric cars are the future. Like it or not, this is probably the last generation (give or take) of Americans who will be mainly accustomed to driving cars powered with gas fueled internal combustion engines. However, before electric cars (EV) take over the highways a few things are going to need to happen first.
  • Range needs to improve. The better EVs are now getting effective driving ranges in excess of 300 miles. But EVs with that kind of range are still well outside of affordable for the average American. And while that's certainly an improvement, most of us are going to want a car with a range closer to 400 miles before seriously considering it. Long distance driving with the shorter ranged EVs is still possible but it would take a lot longer given the constant need to make prolonged stops for charging.
  • The auto industry needs to get their act together and standardize the charging systems for their cars and make it more like current gas stations with a pull in, swipe your plastic, and fuel up system. Not everybody is a tech geek who has more apps on their phone than reactionaries like me have fiat currency bills in our wallet.
  • Charging times need to be drastically reduced at the various commercial charging stations. I think we are probably at least ten years from the point where you will be able to fully charge an EV in 15 minutes or less. Until then I am probably not interested.
  • EVs with decent range and mechanical reliability need to come down in price. The Tesla S (widely regarded as among the best of the longer ranged EVs) starts at around $80k and you can easily drop closer to $100k if you add on a few things. By contrast you can get a Tesla Model 3 for slightly under half that price. But again, these cars are not well suited for long distance road trips, especially those that would take multiple days using a gas fueled car. 
So yeah, I acknowledge that the future probably belongs to electric cars, but we have a ways to go before most people are going to be comfortable with it. 

Monday, February 10, 2020

The Oscars

Ok. Let's say it; 1917 was robbed in an effort to provide some PC cred for Hollywood's awokened. But is anyone really surprised? As far as I can tell the Oscars has become the biggest annual gathering of flakes outside of the supermarket cereal aisle.

Sunday, February 09, 2020

But first, no fasting this week.

Wednesday, February 05, 2020

L.A. Wants To Seize Private Apartment Building to Prevent Rent Increases

Los Angeles politicians will make housing affordable, by force if necessary.

On Friday, City Councilmember Gil Cedillo introduced a motion that asks city staff to draft plans for using eminent domain to seize Hillside Villa Apartments, a 124-unit, privately-owned development in the city's Chinatown neighborhood to avoid rent increases at the property.

The property is currently under an affordability covenant that requires its owner to rent out a number of its units at below-market rates. That covenant is set to expire soon, meaning rents on some 59 units will increase to market rates—which means rent hikes of up to $1,000 per unit.

"We think it is important enough that we need to take action to preserve those units. We don't want to generate more homeless people," Conrado Terrazas Cross, Cedillo's communications director, tells Reason, saying that many tenants would not be able to afford the coming rent increases.

"I think it's a brilliant idea but I need to know: Are we in Cuba or Venezuela?" says Tom Botz, the L.A.-area developer who owns the building, about the proposal to seize his property.

Botz tells Reason he purchased the development company that built Hillside Villa roughly 20 years ago. The building's construction had been financed by a number of government grants and loans, including a $5.4 million loan from Los Angeles' since-abolished Community Redevelopment Agency in 1986.

A condition of that loan was that the developer rent out units in the building at below-market rates for 30 years. Other government grants and loans that helped finance the building came with their own specific affordability requirements.

The affordability requirements from the redevelopment loan were supposed to expire in June 2019. Beginning in May 2018, tenants in Hillside Villa started to receive notices that their below-market rents would be increasing in a year's time. In March 2019, tenants were given the option of signing new leases at the increased rates or face eviction.

Read the rest here.

Tuesday, February 04, 2020


A few quick thoughts...

* There is absolutely nothing a computer can't screw up.

* There is no tech that can be made absolutely secure from tampering or hacking.

* You can't hack paper. Paper is not effected by viruses. Paper ballots are impervious to technological whims and failures. You can hold an election with paper ballots without electricity if necessary.

* These are the same people who think we should trust them to run the nation's health care system.

Saturday, February 01, 2020

Quote of the day...

“I was pleased by the recent decisions by the Greek and Alexandrian Orthodox Churches to recognize the Orthodox Church of Ukraine as a fellow autocephalous church. Russia should never stand in the way of the Ukrainian people’s fundamental right to exercise their religious freedom. The Ukrainians can count on American support in that regard.”

-US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo


Free at last