Chinese real estate bubble is "biggest in history"

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Wang Jianlin made billions speculating on Chinese real-estate; now that he's diversified into buying Hollywood movie studios and chains of movie theaters, the richest man in China is prepared to say what many have known: the Chinese property market is a huge, deadly bubble that's ripe to burst. Read the rest

NYC's sloppy records gave $59.2M in tax breaks to dead people

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New York's elderly people qualify for the Senior Citizen Homeowners' Exemption and the Enhanced School Tax Relief Exemption, but the city's Finance Department is supposed to solicit confirmations of eligibility every two years to make sure that the people receiving the tax-breaks are still alive -- a duty the department failed to perform for a solid decade, costing the city nearly $60M in lost revenue. Read the rest

New York's stately libraries sport hidden apartments for live-in caretakers

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For the first half of the 20th Century, it was common for New York's libraries to have live-in superintendents, whose families would live on-site in hidden apartments -- the last one of these apartments wasn't vacated until 2006. Read the rest

Low income US households get $0.08/month in Fed housing subsidy; 0.1%ers get $1,236

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America is in the grips of one of the worst housing crises in its history, with 1 in 3 households spending more than 30% of their income on mortgage or rent payments; the US government has two kinds of housing subsidy, one for poor renters and the other intended for middle-income mortgage payers, but guess who gets most of the money? Read the rest

London luxury property prices plummet after Brexit vote

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A Russian home-buyer pulled out of a "agreed offer" of £6.95m for a six bedroom Kensington flat, now it's listed for £6.75m; a three-bedroom in Swiss Cottage is down to £1.05m from £1.5m; a £1.1m 2-bedroom in Whitechapel is now £720,000; a 2bm maisonette in Notting Hill fell from £1.59m to £1.35mk; a £1.3m 5br in St. Reatham is down to £850,000 and estate agents have mutually agreed to go back to calling it Streatham. Read the rest

Singaporean bank stops lending money to UK property speculators

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Singaporeans are the most prolific speculators on UK commercial property, and the United Overseas Bank is the most prolific lender to Singaporeans who want to speculate in that market -- and now they're turning off the faucet. Read the rest

Small shelter inspired by armadillo

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Architect Ron Arad designed this lovely indoor/outdoor shelter, called the Armadillo Tea Pavilion. The shells are made from the likes of oiled plywood or PVDF-coated timber composite. The hardware is brass and bronze.

The Armadillo Tea Canopy is designed as an independent shell structure, for use indoors and outdoors, and provides an intimate enclosure, shelter or place of reflection within a garden, landscape, or large internal space. In its basic configuration, the Pavilion comprises 5 moulded shells, each made of repeatable, modular components which are mechanically-fixed together with exposed fixings and stiffening brackets. The modularity of components provides freedom to configure the tea canopy to suit a number of arrangements, which can be expanded when using additional shells.

A limited number of Armadillo Tea Pavilions are available from Revolution Precrafted.

Read the rest

UK startup offers landlords continuous, deep surveillance of tenants' social media

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Here's Source Assured's pitch: landlords, if you write a requirement for tenants (and prospective tenants) to let us access their social media accounts into your lease/application process, we'll scrape all that data, use an unaccountable system to analyze it, and produce libelous, life-destroying dossiers on them that you can use to discriminate against people who seek shelter, the most fundamental human need after sustenance. Read the rest

Artist installs rooms beneath Milan's sewer entrances

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Biancoshock, an artist in Milan, created these "Borderlife" installations that appear to be underground rooms beneath the city's sewer-entrances, as a way of calling attention to homelessness, especially in Bucharest, where 600 people are living in the sewer tunnels. Read the rest

Eviction epidemic: the racialized, weaponized homes of America's cities

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Americans are being evicted from their homes at record levels, and the evictees are disproportionately single mothers of color. Read the rest

UN places order for 1,000 next-generation flat-pack refugee shelters

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The Better Shelter is a flat-pack refugee shelter that costs three times more than the traditional tent, but lasts up to 40 times longer. It was developed with a grant from the Ikea foundation. Read the rest

Skysphere: fantastic hang-out globular tower pad

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New Zealand designer Jono Williams built his otherworldly Skysphere clubhouse in around 3,000 hours from $50,000 in materials. No bathroom, but it has plenty of great amenities: Read the rest

Things got heavy when I played this animal-mothering game

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I haven't decided whether or not I'll become a mother. I'm at the age where I think a lot about it. It frightens me.

UFO Futuro Houses of the 1960s-1970s

As a youngster, my dream was to live in a Futuro House, the UFO-like prefab homes designed by Matti Surronen and available for purchase new in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Only 100 or so were built around the world but quite a few survive to this day, in varying states of decay. In the video above, urban explorer The Unknown Cameraman visits Futuro Houses in New Jersey. You can also see many more photos of these otherworldly abodes at Cult of Weird. Read the rest

Your car is not a tornado shelter

Last Friday, a tornado near El Reno, Oklahoma killed scientist Tim Samaras, as well as his son and a colleague. The three were tracking the storm in a vehicle — storm chasing, if you will — as part of their ongoing efforts to deploy probes that could capture high-resolution video from inside a tornado. (Samaras' team was one of many practicing a type of science that can basically be described as Twister in real life.) Chasing storms was an important part of what Samaras did. National Geographic reports that tornadoes only developed in roughly two of every 10 storms Samaras tracked, and the probes were only useful in a fraction of the tornadoes they were deployed in.

Samaras' death is tragic, but he wasn't some untrained yahoo out running around on county roads in a tornado for fun. He was there to do a job; a job that would, eventually, help other people survive. That said, if a situation kills experts, you probably don't want to be that untrained person trying to navigate it on your own.

Which brings us to a key point. After a handful of people who survived the Moore tornado credited their survival to driving away from it, people in Oklahoma City apparently responded to Friday's storms by trying to do the same thing. For some, it worked. But others were killed or injured when traffic on highways in the tornado's path ground to a complete halt, clogged with cars full of people who were (either accidentally or intentionally) trying to flee the storm instead of hide from it. Read the rest