Daily Digest 12/28 – Terrorists Using Crypto To Pay For Attacks, How Oil Companies Avoided Environmental Accountability

Economy

Inequality Is Up a Lot. The Question Is: How Much? (tmn)

Much of the debate has been driven by the work of three French economists — Thomas Piketty, Emmanuel Saez and Gabriel Zucman. The trio has put out a huge amount of impressive work, digging into historical archives and patching together a diverse array of modern data sources to graphically depict how income and wealth have become more concentrated. They have also helped design some of the bolder Democratic tax plans.

Terrorists are using crypto to pay for attacks. It’s time to stop them (Sparky1)

One key area that has been repeatedly attacked are cryptocurrency exchanges, companies that allow customers to purchase and trade different types of digital assets. They “handle the money,” so they have the most sensitive role. Despite that, these businesses are notorious for the shady practices they enable, like insufficient verification of listings, abusive trading activity and rampant conflicts of interest. Cryptocurrency exchanges are rife with fraud and constantly being hacked. While this has led to many lost fortunes, there’s far more than money at stake.

Japan delays fuel removal from two reactors at Fukushima Daiichi (Sparky1)

Japan plans to fully decommission Tokyo Electric Power’s Fukushima Daiichi plant, which was hit by a massive earthquake and tsunami which triggered meltdowns, in 30 to 40 years. Removing fuel rods and debris, as well as contaminated water, are among the main challenges.

Geographic Evidence that Gun Deaths are Cultural (thc0655)

Gun suicides account for about two thirds of gun deaths, so this map is going to look generally like the first one. No huge surprises here. But there are many regions red in the “deaths” map that flip blue in the “suicide” map, and the reason why is clear when you look at the “homicide” map, here.

Shattering the Overton Window, by Robert Gore (thc0655)

Will the repo market be the tipping point for the next credit contraction? Apparently it already is, judging by the Fed’s frantic response. However, focusing on the details keeps the debate within the Overton window. Instead, ignore the details and look at the destruction wrought by the fiat credit system since inception. The dollar is worth about 2 percent of what it was in 1913 when the Fed was created. The Fed has amplified rather than damped economic fluctuations (for a masterful exposition of the destructiveness of US, European, and Japanese central banks the last several decades, see “The Japanization of the European Union,” Jesús Huerta de Soto, SLL, 12/13/19). Which prompts the Overton window-shattering question: why do we need central banks in the first place? The Overton window-shattering answer: we don’t.

California Gave Billions in Taxpayer Dollars to Improve Jails. But That’s Not How These Sheriffs Are Spending It. (tmn)

Moving those funds to pay for patrol officers was “truly insulting,” one speaker said. A reverend called the proposal “morally repugnant.” A woman stood at the podium and said Contra Costa County already gave enough money to law enforcement. The county, she said, was a “candyland for sheriffs.”

Congress Demands Investigation Into the U.S.’s Nuclear Coffin (thc0655)

Unfortunately, the government failed to build a concrete lining for the debris, and the dome is currently threatened by rising sea levels. Sea water has reportedly entered the dome, introducing the possibility that radioactive waste could seep out. The Marshall Islands government, which was saddled with responsibility for the dome, is worried that further deterioration could create an environmental hazard. A typhoon could create an all-out hazard.

How Oil Companies Avoided Environmental Accountability After 10.8 Million Gallons Spilled (jdargis)

The Oil Pollution Act, passed by Congress in response to the Valdez incident, requires that federal and state agencies work with the companies that spilled the oil to conduct a preliminary assessment of damage to natural resources. Once a comprehensive report is finalized on the value of the affected plants, soil, water and wildlife, those so-called responsible parties must pay for restoration efforts.

Scientists model dynamic feedback loop that fuels the spread of wildfires (jdargis)

Most models currently in use are based on seminal work done back in 1972 by Richard Rothermel, an aeronautical engineer who developed the first quantitative tool for predicting the spread of wildfires. Every kind of fuel has an ignition point (also known as a flash point), a measure of how much energy is required to ignite that fuel. Rothermel’s model determined that ignition point, and then factored in wind speed, the slope of the ground, and other critical factors to calculate the rate of ignition required for a nascent wildfire to spread quickly.

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