More than 20 Texas cities and towns have been taken hostage by ransomware

The American ransomware epidemic shows no signs of slowing, as the confluence of underinvestment in IT and information security and the NSA's reckless stockpiling of computer vulnerabilities means that petty criminals can extort vast sums from distant municipalities by seizing their entire networked infrastructure. Read the rest

Owner of Phoenix apartment building serves eviction notices to every tenant so he can turn their homes into unlicensed hotel rooms

Like many large US cities, Phoenix has a housing shortage and like many US cities, that crisis is worsened by the conversion of much of its housing stock into unlicensed hotel rooms through companies like Airbnb, VRBO, and Wanderjaunt, a new competitor in the unlicensed hotel room industry. Read the rest

New York City raised minimum wage to $15, and its restaurants outperformed the nation

After NYC raised its minimum wage from $7.25/h to $15/h this year -- the largest pay hike for low-waged workers in half a century -- the city's restaurants boomed, posting the highest growth levels in the country. Read the rest

Uber projected $8b in losses for 2019, but it just booked $5.2b in losses in a single quarter

Uber says it can be profitable someday: all it needs to do is corner the "total addressable market" for all transportation and food delivery, which will give it $12t in annual revenue, which is 15% of all global transactions. Read the rest

After the Oliver Twist poorhouse became luxury housing with a segregated playground, London bans segregated play-areas

The world is full of corrupt oligarchs looking to smuggle their money out of their countries and put it somewhere where the rule of law that they have helped to dismantle at home still reigns; a favourite safe asset class is luxury housing in major cities, which is viewed as easy to sell on short notice due to the large supply of other money-laundering oligarchs. Read the rest

Bird Scooter reportedly lost $100m in three months, needs more capital to stay afloat

Bird Scooter really is the Uber of scooters: vastly overcapitalized, vastly overvalued, incapable of turning a profit...ever. Read the rest

An illustrated guide to San Francisco's most unusual statues

Peter Glanting's illustrated guide to San Francisco's most unusual statues is an annotated delight, even if, despite its length, JWZ wrote, "They skipped a few of my favorites." Read the rest

US Conference of Mayors adopts a resolution to never pay off ransomware attackers

As city after city has remitted hundreds of thousands of dollars to pay off ransomware criminals who hijacked their crucial systems, the US Conference of Mayors had unanimously adopted a resolution to never pay these ransoms again, on the basis that these payments "encourage continued attacks on other government systems, as perpetrators financially benefit," Read the rest

Subway tunnel heat-exchangers could heat and cool thousands of nearby apartments

In Numerical investigation of the convection heat transfer driven by airflows in underground tunnels (Sci-Hub mirror), a group of engineers from L'Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne and the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology propose that low-cost heat-exchangers placed in subway tunnels could be used to heat and cool homes essentially for free (the system would last 50-100 years, and the pumps would need replacing every 25 years). Read the rest

Easy subway access predicts the resilience of New Yorkers' friendships

In Social Connectedness in Urban Areas (Sci-Hub mirror), a group of business and public policy researchers from Facebook, NYU and Princeton study anonymized, fine-grained location data from Facebook users who did not disable their location history, and find that the likelihood that New Yorkers will remain friends is well correlated with the ease of commuting between their respective homes on public transit. Read the rest

The rent's less damned high: rents falling in most of America's most expensive cities

In all but a few of the most expensive cities in the USA, median rents on one- and two-bedroom apartments have fallen, sometimes quite sharply (for example, in NYC median asking rents on a one bedroom are down to $2940, a 12.8%/$430 decline from their peak in March 2016; while in Honolulu, rents are down 21.6% from their peak in Mar 2015, down to $1670 from $2130). Read the rest

Berlin Senate approves five-year, citywide rent freeze

The Senate of Berlin has approved a five-year, citywide rent freeze in a bid to halt the city's skyrocketing rents, driven by increased demand that has attracted large-scale corporate landlords who have acquired swathes of properties and raised rents on them, pricing tenants out of their own neighborhoods. Next, the bill proceeds to the Berlin Parliament for approval; it is expected to pass, and will go in effect in January, and apply retroactively to June (heading off any last-minute rent-hikes ahead of the freeze). Read the rest

To chase out low-waged workers, Mountain View is banning overnight RV and van parking

Mountain View -- home to some of Silicon Valley's most profitable companies, including Google -- is one of the most expensive places in the world to live, thanks to the sky-high wages commanded by techies, who have gone on to bid up all the real-estate in the region. Read the rest

The empirical impact of Lyft and Uber on cities: congestion (especially downtown, especially during "surges"), overworked drivers

Mike Moffitt sums up the empirical work on the impact of rideshare companies like Uber and Lyft for cities: an increase in congestion, especially downtown, especially during "surges" (Uber and Lyft insist that they reduce congestion, especially in downtowns, and especially during surges!); lower wages, longer hours and more precarious work for drivers (accompanied by the slow death of the taxi/limo businesses); huge losses for car-rental companies; and less walking, cycling and use of public transit (awithnd accompanying cuts to transit). Read the rest

Pangea raised $180m to buy up low-rent Chicago properties "to help poor people," and then created the most brutally efficient eviction mill in Chicago history

Pangea was founded by Al Goldstein, a Deutsche Bank investment banker who quit to found a massive, intercontinental payday lending outfit; he tapped the investors that he enriched with his payday lending business to stake him $180 million and bought up thousands of low-rent buildings in Chicago's poorest neighborhoods (which are also Chicago's blackest neighborhoods). Read the rest

Buried in Uber's IPO, an aggressive plan to destroy all public transit

Uber is a wildly unprofitable company with no conceivable path to profitability in any universe, under any circumstances, but the company's founders and early investors (having already taken massive write-downs on their investments) are hoping to get at least some of their money back through the time-honored "greater fool" methodology. Specifically, they're floating the company on the stock market and hoping that naive investors hoping to wring above-inflation gains out of their 401(k)s and avoid being made into dog-food in their old age (we're waaaaay past the era in which impoverished old people get to eat dog-food) take their shares off their hands. Read the rest

NYC adopts law targeting the handful of skyscrapers that are spiking the city's carbon footprint

New York City's just-passed Climate Mobilization Act rolls up six climate-mitigation laws that comprehensively remake the city's approach to climate change (it's colloquially known as the Green New York Deal). Read the rest

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