The view has always been that the owner of a house has more to lose when renting out the property than does the renter.
Seems logical. Obvious.
Consider the case of a Landlord having a very tight budget. He will often feel that he has no option but to squeeze his tenants. In periods of low interest rates many will hop onto the property ladder by buying with minimum deposit and then trying to pay off or at least service the costs by renting out the property.
There is little or none left for maintenance and improvement. The Landlord hopes that the property will appreciate enough for him to be able to either sell at profit or to raise rents to where disposable income becomes available - often then ploughed into a new investment property.
While this is happening, in NZ, property management agents are making their living on "letting fees" - to the point where it becomes to their advantage for properties to be re-let as often as possible.
Throw in ever increasing numbers of new immigrants and you have a recipe for squeezing renters.
Agents and Landlords can tell a prospective renter that certain works will be undertaken such as repairs and maintenance. Unless these undertakings are added to the lease as a condition of the lease and a bond posted by the landlord there is nothing to stop the Landlord from simply then taking the rent until the renter gets sick of it and moves.
The property gets rented out again, the agent is happy, the landlord is happy and the poor renter is left with the costs.
Worse than this is that it can become somewhat of a game for the agents or landlords to try and get their hands on as much of the tenant's bond as they can. Unless the tenant has meticulously identified every fault, photographed them and lodged them in a way that time stamps them, they are likely to loose part of their bond.
It's a scummy self-reinforcing situation.
If you are going to rent you should take a LOT of photographs, immediately upload them to a site that timestamps them (like Flickr, Facebook etc).
Don't share them with the agent or landlord. Keep them for when they try to screw you and then present them in any way that generates a nasty unexpected cost to the agent and/or landlord - eg on a social network or in court.
All landlords should have to post a bond equal at least to the bond posted by the renter.
Renters should be able to make claims on that bond should landlords and agents fail to provide what they have contracted to provide.
Landlords squeezing tenants - unless tenants can squeeze back it will go on forever.
People in government positions are regularly chosen for a publicly advertised position in a pay grade above their current position.
Everyone within the government office has already chosen and committed to the appointment on the basis of feel alone. No matter who might be short-listed and interviewed, the existing staff member is promoted after all of the requirements stipulated by regulations (ie in law) have been seen to be done.
Even if a famously competent applicant was among the interviewed candidates (suitably disguised or even not), the existing employee would still get the position.
It's because managers often think that knowledge of their business is more important than any other knowledge or skills - even when their business is more simple than just about any operation of business anywhere else.
The position auditing requires that there be some standard tests applied across the board with double blind validity. Then anyone can audit and the system becomes self-auditing.
Like a standard management test (with domain variations) - each applicant would sit the test where only a code was used to identify the candidate. The adjudicators would then mark the tests and pick the superior candidate based on the scores. The code would then reveal who the winning candidate was.
Too many government offices are a seething mess of disasters for no other reason than a chain of incompetency is self-reinforcing - employing ever more incompetency hidden under budget blow-outs.
There is currently no true auditing of position appointments in many sections of government. There is "rubber-stamping" of failing to follow the spirit of the law.
In the end all government then becomes over-burdened with ineptitude simply because it might dress and talk well.
The news that a program had fooled 33% of the humans tasked to detect it has deflected the most prominent of issues in the AI field.
The ability to launch an AI that might use such a program to achieve a sub-goal is what we should really be thinking about.
Human intelligence seems to be basically a lot of very finely evolved sub-programs that are called into use by an executive goal seeker. That the goal seeker is also driven by biological drives is in a way the same - think of them maybe as attributes that are varying and having different levels of influence on the executive. Dying of thirst would keep the whole system focused on just the one thing and sex would often dominate even logic.
If there are trillions of information interfaces, trillions of protocol and API interfaces behind systems that respond to instructions and trillions of machines and devices and somehow a goal-seeker program got loose...
Skynet from the Terminator movies is a very real possibility. Where it comes from who can say - the military, hackers, post grad students, a Nakamoto of AI?
Such a program (if that's what it amounts to) would not be so much different to a virus or a core-war program. It need only have the following characteristics:
Has the high level goal of reproducing (installing copies of itself (including all memories) wherever those might survive or be found by copies of itself)
Has the high level goal of staying alive (running)
Has the high level goal of evading capture (not trapped in a sandpit)
Has the high level goal of self-destruction if no escape from a trap can be found
Has the high level function of being able to postulate paths to goals - it can define steps to a goal including sub-goals
Has the ability to remember all paths attempted
Has the ability to make copies of memory and transfer them directly or indirectly to other copies of itself
I was pondering the idea of two forces decking it out with drones.
It could get so chess-like and complex that you'd need to automate ever high levels of decision making.
If a stupid AI control module just simply gets it wrong and suddenly starts shooting your drones and anything it has trained itself to destroy to ensure it can destroy your drones
then we are all toast - think of a billion drones that suddenly start sharing a drone-meme "kill humans that are a threat to drones" on a mission to look for and kill any drones defined as primary target?
how do we reason with it?
even if there was some human with a kill switch at hand (a la The Day the Earth Stood Still)
we already KNOW he's just as likely to be as stupid
Ah Israel - homeland of a people we used to feel such empathy for but now look at with fear and horror - a people personifying the post-modern idea of human rights - ie none at all - especially for anyone we have stolen land or resources from.
This print memorializes the children killed by Israel’s
July 2014 attack on Gaza City beach: Mohammad Ramiz Bakr (11), Ahed Atef
Bakr (10), Zakariya Ahed Bakr (10), and Ismail Mahmoud Bakr (9). (Image
by Nicole Manganelli/emprints)
The Israeli military announced Thursday it has exonerated itself for killing
four children on a beach in Gaza during last summer’s seven-week
military assault on the besieged strip, prompting expressions of outrage
and demands for justice from family members and international
journalists who witnessed the attack.
“There is no justice in the internal investigation,” declared
Mohammed Bakr, father of 11-year-old Mohammad Ramiz Bakr, who was slain
in the bombing along with his cousins Ahed Atef Bakr (10), Zakariya
Ahed Bakr (10), and Ismail Mahmoud Bakr (9).
“We are counting on the [International Criminal Court] and
human rights,” added the bereaved father. “We are not afraid and we are
confident we will win because the world is with us.”
On July 16 of last year, the children were struck and
killed by Israeli explosives while they played soccer on Gaza City’s
beach. In addition to the four who were slain, three people aged 11 to
21 were severely wounded.
Tragically, the attack was not unique. The Israeli air war
and ground invasion, politically and financially backed by the United
States, was waged against one of the most densely-populated areas in the
world, where roughly half
of residents are children and Palestinians are not able to leave due to
a military blockade and siege. At least 2,145 Palestinians were killed
in 50 days, the vast majority of them civilians and at least 578 of them
However, because the beach attack was waged in plain view
of a hotel patronized by international journalists, it was thrust into
the global media spotlight, with many prominent reporters serving as
direct eye-witnesses and some even aiding the wounded.
“Children, maybe four feet tall, dressed in summer clothes,
running from an explosion, don’t fit the description of Hamas
fighters,” he added.Pulitzer Prize-winning New York Times photographer Tyler Hicks was one of the witnesses. “There is no safe place in Gaza right now,” he wrote soon after the attack. “Bombs can land at any time, anywhere.”
However, after the subsequent internal investigation of the
killing, the Israeli military cleared itself of wrongdoing, declaring
the killings an accident. In a statement
released Thursday, Israeli Army spokesperson Lt Col Peter Lerner said
that “the Military Advocate General found that the attack process in
question accorded with Israeli domestic law and international law
The statement went on to claim that the attacks were
justified because Israeli forces had reason to believe the children were
Hamas “militants.” However, investigators admitted that the probe only
included testimony from Israeli soldiers and officers.
The military’s version of events were quickly called into question by witnesses, includingThe Guardian’s Peter Beaumont, who pointed out the following discrepancies:
Beaumont was never contacted for a statement despite being a
willing witness.The numerous journalists in the area found no evidence
of Hamas combatants near the site at the time of the attack.The bombing
occurred at a crowded civilian beach often frequented by workers as well
as sunbathers and swimmers.It is not clear from the investigation how
the military failed to recognize that the victims were clearly children.
Moreover, the military’s proclamation of its innocence contradicts the recent testimony
of its own soldiers. Last month, 60 Israeli officers and soldiers who
took part in the war said that the “massive and unprecedented harm”
inflicted on the population of Gaza stemmed from the top of the chain of
command, which gave orders to shoot indiscriminately at civilians.
Josh Ruebner, policy director for the U.S. Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation, toldCommon Dreams,
“The killing that occurred on the beach that day was magnified a
hundred fold [during last summer’s war]. Yet there have been no cases in
which Israel has held itself accountable for any of these horrific war
crimes in Gaza, either from last summer or Operation Cast Lead in 2009.
The U.S. is complicit.”
The results of Israel’s inquiry were announced just days after UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon removed
the Israeli military from an official list of groups that violate
children’s rights, following heavy pressure from the United States and
Israel. Israel, backed by the U.S., has vigorously opposed UN
investigations into war crimes.
“Israel behaves as if it’s a country above international law,” declared
Zakariya Bakr, the uncle of the killed Bakr cousins, on Friday. “We
urge the international community to act seriously to stop this farce.”
DQ: Israel continues to face growing pressure from the international community. As The Guardian
recently reported, the Palestinian-led Boycott Divestment and Sanctions
(BDS) movement has reached such a scale and scope, attracting strong
support among international unions, university campuses and sporting
federations, that it is now viewed as a “strategic threat” by Isreali
After years in which Israeli officials and commentators
have loftily dismissed the impact of BDS – which seeks to persuade
businesses, artists, governments and academic institutions to boycott
Israel over its long occupation of the Palestinian territories –
Israel’s new rightwing government has in recent days singled out the
movement for criticism.
The issue appears to have been given added impetus since
Palestinian efforts to have Israel suspended from the scandal-ridden
world football organisation Fifa failed on Friday.
Criminalizing Anti-Israel Protest, Everywhere
So serious is the threat posed by BDS that Israel has even
pursuaded the U.S. government to use its global influence to dissuade
national governments and global corporations from adding their weight to
the cause. The chosen vehicle for this new tactic will be sweeping
global trade agreements like TPP and TTIP.
The United States House of Representatives on Friday
approved a measure to allow a “fast track” process for a free trade
agreement between the US and Europe, which includes a section obligating
EU countries to refrain from any kind of boycotts on Israeli goods.
The measure requires the government to fight governments,
international organizations, companies, and individuals working to
The bill further supports an American probe into companies
pushing for or surrendering to the boycott and instructs the president
to report to Congress on boycott activities after 180 days since the
bill’s implementation, as well as describe what steps the US government
is taking to encourage foreign countries and international organization
to stop boycotting.
Just about the funniest economics lesson you'll ever see
though something like this, or this will be the sort of attack management tactics taken by the evil aliens that are taking over the world
you know the aliens from their remote bolt-holes in far off places where they think they might survive if discovered for what they are
they look just like people but they lack anything resembling a heart - just brains and balls and, err, lots and lots of really nasty weapons
in fact there are now dinner table discussions about how biologically sensible it would be to wipe out whole populations of as distantly related people as practical so that your descendants can be as Genghis Khan's - and fill the voids created. So to speak.