This article is disturbing and disgusting.
This article is disturbing and disgusting.
Actor Danny Glover told the press during a stay in Paris for a seminar on film. “I couldn’t get the money here, I couldn’t get the money in Britain. I went to everybody. You wouldn’t believe the number of producers based in Europe, and in the States, that I went to,” he said. Glover’s first project as film director, is about Toussaint L’ouverture and the Haitian rebellion. The government of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez approved nearly $30 million toward the movie. Don Cheadle, Mos Def, Wesley Snipes and Angela Bassett all agreed to do the film…if it can ever be made………………….
I hope this film gets made man.
I would love to see this
A city is “hypersegregated” if it meets four of the following five criteria:
The concept of hypersegregation was developed in 1989 by Douglas Massey, currently a sociologist at Princeton and director of the university’s Office of Population Research. Its social effects are predictably terrible: poverty, crime, and bad schools among them. But as Massey reports in a new paper in the journal Demography, the number of U.S. metro areas suffering hypersegregation seems to be on the decline—down from 40 in 1970 to 21 in 2010.
For the new study, Massey and his team analyzed Census data from almost all U.S. metros between 1970 and 2010. While it’s definitely good news that the number of hypersegregated cities roughly halved during this time, it doesn’t signal as much progress as you might think. Here’s what Massey writes in the abstract of his paper:
"We've made clear progress, but there's still a lot of work that needs to be done.”
The number of hypersegregated metropolitan areas declined by about one-half, but the degree of segregation within those areas characterized by hypersegregation changed very little.
Discriminatory housing and lending policies are, as we know, the root cause behind the hypersegration of African Americans. So legislation such as the 1968 Fair Housing Act, the 1974 Equal Credit Opportunity Act, and the 1977 Community Reinvestment Act have helped address the problem. In 1980, the number of hypersegregated cities came down to 35, and then slightly more to 33 in the following decade. From 2000 to 2010, that number came down to 21.
This reduction in number of hypersegreagated metros has, in turn, decreased the number of African Americans exposed to the disadvantages that come with the territory. Back in 1970, nearly half of the country’s black population was hypsersegregated; this fell to 26 percent by 2010.
But the average segregation score, which measures the degree of segregation of blacks compared to whites across the hypersegregated metros, fell only 8 percent over the last four decades. By 2010, the score was 70 (on a scale of 1 to 100), which is still “a very high level of segregation by any standard,” according to Massey’s new report.
The line graph below shows this small decline in average segregation score (solid line), and the large decline in the numbers of hypersegregated metros (dotted):
The progress itself has also been uneven. Segregation didn’t decline across the board in this period; it actually rose enough in some cities to get them placed on Massey’s list. Rochester, New York, is one such city that wasn’t on the list back in 1970, but is on the list today.
The hypersegregated cities that have retained a spot on the list from 1970 to 2010 are ones with the nation’s largest urban black populations: New York, Chicago, Cleveland, Milwauke, and Philadelhphia. Here’s how Massey describes the current situation via a Princeton news release:
"We've made clear progress, but there's still a lot of work that needs to be done and that integration isn't going to happen simply of its own accord in places with large urban black communities," Massey said. "It will require more action to promote integration and to remove the barriers of discrimination in rental and sales markets for housing and in lending markets for mortgages."
Check out the maps showing the hypersegregated metros in red, for all four decades, here.
Bertha Boronda (from the first San Quentin photo set I posted) was sentenced to five years in prison for “Mayhem” in 1908.
What’s “Mayhem” you ask? Apparently in Bertha’s case, it’s cutting off your cheating husband’s penis with a straight razor, disguising yourself as a man and fleeing by bicycle.
I’m now imagining those Mayhem/insurance ads starring Bertha…
where those matches at rosalind
Remember when Mark Zuckerberg declared that the age of privacy was over?
Well, that was before he spent $100 million on 750 acres of Kauai North Shore plantation and beachfront, the majority of which will sit undeveloped in order to provide a buffer between his private retreat and the public who might want to pry into his life.
That’s in addition to the four houses he bought around his home in Silicon Valley, which sit empty, providing an exclusion zone that protects him against prying eyes.
Then there was the time he flipped out because his sister screwed up her (deliberately over-complicated and difficult-to-understand) Facebook privacy settings and shared a photo of a private family moment.
When Mark Zuckerberg (or Eric Schmidt) declares privacy to be dead, they’re not making an observation, they’re making a wish. What they mean is, “If your privacy was dead, I would be richer.”
The best use for Facebook is to teach people why they should leave Facebook.”
However you feel about the controversial religious freedom bill signed into law in Indiana this past March, there’s one fact that’s not up for debate: The Religious Freedom Restoration Act was bad for the Hoosier state’s bottom line.
Indiana Republicans said they meant the legislation to prevent the government from intruding on citizens’ religious rights without a compelling interest; civil rights advocates, meanwhile, argued that the law gave businesses an opening to discriminate against LGBT people on religious grounds. Though the law was “fixed” in early April with explicit language intended to protect people of all “sexual orientations” and “gender identities” (civil rights proponents say it’s still not enough), Indiana’s pocketbook had already taken a hit: Big groups canceled long-planned conventions in Indianapolis, major businesses nixed programs that required customer and employee travel to the state, travel brands warned tourists they could face discrimination, and the Hoosier government had to refine and then relaunch expensive public relations campaigns.
So when Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal signed a similar executive order in that state earlier this week “to prevent the state from discriminating against persons or entities with deeply held religious beliefs that marriage is between one man and one woman,” the New Orleans tourism industry moved quickly.
Their official response: Something close to “Oh, hell no.”New Orleans’ city code already prohibits discrimination on the basis of gender or sex, sexual orientation or gender identification.
In a joint statement, the New Orleans Convention and Visitors Bureau (CVB) and the New Orleans Tourism and Marketing Corporation (NOTMC) told potential travelers that Jindal’s move was little more than a political stunt. (There’s been wide speculation that Jindal will run for president.) “This executive order is largely a political statement by our conservative governor in support of his national position on the issue,” the groups said in a statement. “It is important for those who visit Louisiana to know that its effect in essence is that of a political campaign document.”
The executive order has no real power, the groups reassured prospective tourists. But Jindal handed the order down on the heels of a similar law’s rejection in the Louisiana legislature—and a bill like that, the tourism industry says, could cost the state more than a billion dollars a year and thousands of jobs.
New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu also responded quickly, releasing his own (and, it should be noted, similarly ineffectual) executive order yesterday reminding city residents and visitors that city code already prohibits discrimination on the basis of gender or sex, sexual orientation or gender identification.
The industry is right to be worried: Tourism is the third largest industry in Louisiana, and is particularly important to New Orleans, which is still, nearly 10 years later, working to recover from the devastation of Hurricane Katrina. Numbers released last year show that a record number of visitors spent $6.47 billion in the city in 2013. A survey conducted by the local government found that 55.4 percent of the city’s business travelers extended their stay for an average of two nights—just for fun. Meanwhile, Americans (and particularly the large corporations they work for) are newly sensitive to sexual discrimination issues.
Whether Jindal’s move is good politics remains to be seen, but Indianapolis’ empty convention halls shows it could cause things to get tough in the Big Easy.
i gots leaf
wait.... cafe gratitude is a chain?
If you watched the last episode of Mad Men and/or groovy is a word you're ready to put back into play, you're likely in the perfect mood for Cafe Gratitude's latest branch in Downtown LA. As the signs in the windows of the organic, vegetarian, plant-based mini-chain say: "I am present" and "I am cool." And the same can be said for Wendy Haworth's inviting, decades-bridging design.
Photography by Nicole LaMotte.
Above: Haworth, a member of the Remodelista Architect/Designer Directory, was presented with a brand-new shell—the cafe is in the just-finished One Santa Fe building—and asked to telegraph "the community-minded values of the Cafe Gratitude concept, which include authenticity and respect for nature and others." (And the cafe does its part: "Approximately 75 percent of the food is grown at the restaurant's own Be Love organic farm," Haworth tells us.) In response, she reached out to a number of local artisans, who happen to be in the midst of their own sixties-tinged groove. As a backdrop, Haworth inserted a brick veneer to the bar wall: "Typically, I prefer real materials, but to counter the austere newness, I liked the idea of having a perimeter that feels solid."
Above: Haworth collaborated on the overall concept with architect Victor Corona of VMC Architecture, who focused on the layout and kitchen design.
Open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, the cafe offers a range of vibes courtesy of seating, from bar stools to banquettes (and there's also an outdoor terrace). The wood floors are cerused engineered oak from Universal Hardwood. The beamed ceiling is modeled after Haworth's own 1920s apartment in West Hollywood. The brass pendant lights and sconces are by Remodelista favorite Atelier de Troupe of LA.
Above L: LA ceramicist Heather Levine made the bar's custom stoneware pendant lights. (See more of her work in our recent post The Bohemian Life: Designer Lauren Soloff at Home in LA.) Above R: The macramé wall hangings on driftwood—priced on Etsy at $65 and $70—are by Marisa of Free Creatures.
Above: White Thonet Armchairs from DWR surround a marble-topped cafe table. Haworth had the brass bar shelving made by Eric Beneker Design, and the stools are her own design of powder-coated steel with paper-cord seating and footrests.
Above L: The hanging-screen room dividers are the work of The California Workshop, specialists in lightweight, laser-cut wood designs. Above R: Hollyflora supplied the plants and hanging planters. (For those old enough to remember: Is macramé better the second time around? We think so.)
Above: Haworth inserted a touch of color with mustard-colored fiberglass Eiffel Shell Chairs from Modernica that stand under a raked plaster wall.
Above: Stacks of yellow and white dishes add a graphic element.
Above L: The yellow dishes are Fiesta (the updated Fiestaware) in Sunflower. Above R: Words of "gratitude and optimism" are etched on the water bottles—aka Affirmation Bottles—from a company called Spoken Glass.
Above: A fiddle leaf fig stands guard—and, Haworth reports, so far is thriving. Read all about the finicky favorite on Gardenista, including The Fig and I: Tips for Caring for a Fiddle Leaf Fig Tree. For more, go to Cafe Gratitude and Wendy Haworth Design Studio.
More Stories from Remodelista
Many of the fastest-growing industries in the U.S. are supported by millions of workers who are paid hourly wages. It is a volatile foundation. Increasingly, these hourly employees are often notified of their shifts, or of cancelled shifts, within mere hours before they are set to begin—in turn causing unpredictable income. A 2014 Federal Reserve survey showed that about 30 percent of Americans struggle with income instability. A majority pointed to fluctuating work hours as the cause.
And as a new report from the Center for Popular Democracy finds, women are burdened most by the volatility of hourly work. They are more likely to work jobs that pay on an hourly basis, according to the report, at 61 percent compared to 56 percent of men. In particular, women of color dominate the hourly workforce: They are twice as likely to work in an hourly job as in a salaried one, while white women are 1.4 times more likely.
Working part-time (less than 34 hours per week) further exacerbates the domino effects of irregular scheduling. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, in 2010, 26.6 percent of women worked part time, compared to just 13.4 percent of men. About half of all women who work hourly part-time jobs do so because of childcare issues, family obligations, or their own educational commitments.The “flexibility” of an hourly part-time job is a catch-22.
And yet, the “flexibility” of an hourly part-time job is a catch-22: It can actually make it harder to fulfill all of those other responsibilities. When you’re on call from your manager, how can you line up a babysitter, get to class, or pick up your dad’s medication on a consistent basis, and still get paid? The authors write:
For example, the Current Population Survey shows that each week over 80,000 part-time workers had to take unpaid leave because of school or family obligations, over double the number of full-time workers who had to do the same. Among full-time workers, such breaks in employment were much more likely to be paid—but they were also less likely to be absent from work for these reasons in the first place.
Such work/life volatility amounts to tremendous stress, which in turn can impact a worker’s ability to sleep, and her overall health—plus, that of her children. A 2007 study cited by the report found a link between children’s worsened cognitive, behavioral, and mental health and the stress of their parents who worked irregular hours.
And who’s still significantly more likely to care for those children, in addition to juggling other responsibilities? Women.
And these problems will only worsen, as the sectors most heavily concentrated with hourly female employees—retail, healthcare, and food service—are also projected to be some of the fastest growing in the next decade.
“These trends are undermining women’s earning potential and bargaining power to achieve equal pay, higher wages and advancement,” the authors write. “New policies that ensure predictable schedules, give employees a voice in their schedules, ensure quality part-time employment and access to stable, full-time schedules will improve the lives of everyone—especially working women and their families.”
You are not the worst, I just thought you would enjoy this.
Photos from Tilted Shed Ciderworks
I recently had the pleasure of visiting the Tilted Shed Ciderworks tasting room in Windsor, Sonoma County, California. If you follow this blog, you’ve seen me previously post links to Tilted Shed’s blog, where Ellen Cavalli periodically reports on their adventures growing apples and making cider.
Tilted Shed is run by Scott Heath and Ellen Cavalli. Their story has been widely reported before and so I won’t repeat it here. CIDERCRAFT Magazine has a good article about them here, and Sonoma Magazine has an article about Tilted Shed and their neighbors Devoto Orchards which features a classic “American Gothic” photo of Scott and Ellen. (go on, click that, it’s fun!)
So I’ll cut to the chase. In my opinion, Tilted Shed makes the best cider in California. They’re the spiritual leader of the California craft-cider movement. They’re the pointy-end of the panking pole (if panking poles had pointy ends.) They’re making small batches of traditional cider using good apples and that is worth noticing.
Oh, did I mention that their apples are all dry-farmed in various orchards in Sonoma County where apple orchards are under constant threat from viticulture and more recently, drought? It’s tough job and they’re making it look easy where it assuredly is not.
Aside from their own 5-acre farm, Tilted Shed also discovered the “Lost Orchard” - a 30-year old orchard with a treasure of traditional cider-apple trees like Kingston Black, Nehou, Muscat de Bernay, and Roxbury Russet. They are slowly restoring this orchard and its fruit is used in their traditional “Lost Orchard Cider” product. It’s a great story and a great asset and I look forward to more exciting “Lost Orchard” ciders in the coming years.
As I write this, Ellen and Scott are in New York promoting their products in New York city restaurants and wine shops. Aside from that, they are mostly available in the Bay Area of California. Check our their “Where to Buy” list for more information. And if you’re ever up in Sonoma doing a wine tour - take a minute to stop by Tilted Shed, Devoto, or other Sonoma cideries and support the rich apple & cider tradition of Sonoma County.
Photos: click on the photos for captions.
Blogger describes them self as a feminist but can’t garner an ounce of compassion for a mother who obviously had no other option. Nice.
Edit: Found more details here, professor is Sydney Engelberg of Hebrew University, Jerusalem
Bringing a baby to class is so completely disrespectful of the other students who are spending thousands of dollars to go to school only to have their learning disrupted by the most horrible sound on earth. This woman is incredibly selfish.
are you kidding me? this woman needs an education too, especially since she now has a child to take care of. yes, she brought her baby to class, but do you honestly think she would have done that if she had any other option? she’s not being selfish, she’s trying to simultaneously get an education while raising a baby. and just as a side note, “other students who are spending thousands of dollars” yeah she’s a student too meaning she’s also spending those thousands of dollars.
as a student, i would much rather my fellow classmates brought their kids with them than miss an important class. a child is nothing compared to all the other distractions in a classroom, i s2g. half of the time, i see more than 50% of my fellow classmates on their phones or laptops instead of paying attention to a prof (and i’m guilty of being one of them) so why in the hell is a baby more “disrupting” than someone playing candy crush?? and she was going to leave when the child started geetting restless but the prof CHOSE to help her out so she could stay. THAT IS AWESOME!!!
i went to school with my mom when she was in college all the time. i sat in lit classes, chinese history, etc. granted, i was like 8 or 9 at the time and played pokemon all the way through but having a kid should NOT prevent any parent from getting their education and i’m glad to see this prof take it in stride and recognize that student parents are under SO MUCH PRESSURE to get through school and handle their family at the same time.
I remember seeing preschool age kids sitting in on my classes because the nontraditional students couldn’t get babysitters on days the preK or daycare was closed. One time I shared my colored pencils with a little girl. Profs never said a word about it when it happened–except one who cracked a joke about watching his language on that day. I’d rather work with the single mom or dad who has to bring a kid to a study session than a fratboi dudebro who just wants to copy all my notes any damn day. (True story.)
The original story even says the professor encourages the students to bring their children to class - probably because he’d rather they turned up than have to skip due to a lack of alternative childcare.
^^^ I was a non traditional student & while I tried to never bring my kid to class if I could help it, sometimes there was nothing else I could do. So glad I had teachers & classmates who were understanding.
Myth: women of color, particularly black women, abuse the system and are “welfare queens”.
Reality: white women/families are the biggest recipient group and are also more likely to abuse the service and commit fraud.
In the opening episode of the BBC’s new three-part series, “Inside the Factory: How Our Favourite Foods Are Made,” we spend an hour watching a loaf of supermarket sliced white get made.
There is a short diversion into the history of bread-making (including Victorian-era DIY tests for alum adulteration) and a brief interlude in an oak forest to sample some wild yeast, but the star of the show is the factory itself: the mesmerising, balletic, perpetual motion machine installed beneath Allied Bakeries’ unpromising, West Bromwich-based, hangar-style shed.
First, the ingredients are rounded up. There is a stock shot of a combine harvester at work, but the real action takes place at the flour mill and yeast bioreactor. At Coronet Mill in Manchester, kernels of wheat loop through six miles of pipe, from mill to sieve, to mill to sieve, and around again, until they are reduced to dust.
IMAGE: Six miles of pipe transport whole kernels, milled wheat, and flour around the ten-storey mill. Screen grab from the BBC.
The sieves themselves look like a series of self-storage lockers mounted on a seismic shake table. Rows of off-white boxes punctuated at regular intervals with green doors wiggle and bounce, twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week.
IMAGE: Sieves. Screen grab from the BBC.
Meanwhile, in Suffolk, six gigantic bioreactors turn 0.1 gram of yeast into 30,000 kilos (enough for 1.2 million loaves of bread) in just four days, before spraying, squeezing, and dehydrating it.
IMAGE: The yeast factory’s bioreactors. Screen grab from the BBC.
IMAGE: Extruded and dried bakers’ yeast. Screen grab from the BBC.
Tankers bring the highly combustible flour, living yeast, and a variety of other emulsifiers and additives to West Bromwich, and then the supermarket loaf’s twenty-four hour journey from flour to shelf begins.
Only three and a half hours of that are required to knead, proof, bake, slice, and bag the bread; the rest is allocated to sorting, loading, and delivery. During that three and a half hours, the bread never stops moving.
IMAGE: Dough balls “rest” for thirty-seconds for the gluten to form. Screen grab from the BBC.
Even the thirty-second “relaxation” period required between kneading and proving the dough takes place on a series of otherwise unnecessary conveyor belt loops. This is building as circulation: a gluten-based Epcot ride and mesmerizing Chris Burden installation rolled into one.
IMAGE: Proving dough. Screen grab from the BBC.
While a giant ferris wheel takes the loaves for a spin, muffins are funneled down Carsten Höller-worthy slides and into a series of race-track start gates.
IMAGE: The slide slows and separates the muffins for the quality control inspector. Screen grab from the BBC.
IMAGE: On your marks: the muffins head out onto the packaging track. Screen grab from the BBC.
Thus far, the process at least resembles a mechanical interpretation of home bread-baking, albeit using double the ingredients and a fraction of the time. But there is a secret to supermarket bread’s combination of squishiness and spreadability: a deft series of moves that rolls up the dough ball like a cigar, cuts it into four, and then squeezes it back together again in the tin.
IMAGE: The bread dough is rolled like a cigar. Screen grab from the BBC.
IMAGE: This machine then slices and folds it in two, and then in two again, before funneling it back together. Screen grab from the BBC.
IMAGE: The four dough cylinders, lined up so that their grain alternates. Screen grab from the BBC.
IMAGE: And then dropped in the tin, to reform into a single loaf. Screen grab from the BBC.
As the bread proves and bakes, the four cylinders become one again—but, because the grain of the dough flows in alternating directions, the resulting loaf is much less likely to tear under your butter knife.
IMAGE: The loaf on the left was not divided into four; the loaf on the right was. Screen grab from the BBC.
After a trip through the room-sized oven, the bread must be cooled to below 30°C, in order to be sliced and bagged. This is “the one bit of the process we can’t speed up,” Allied Bakeries’ manager complains. Over the course of two hours, the loaves slowly circulate up to the top of a multi-storey fridge and then wind their way down the other side.
IMAGE: Spiraling up the cooling tower. Screen grab from the BBC.
IMAGE: Two spirals in the cooling tower. Screen grab from the BBC.
After a trip through the slicer*, an ingenious blow-and-scoop motion inflates a plastic bag in time to catch the loaf as it falls from one conveyor belt to another.
IMAGE: Bagging the bread. Screen grab from the BBC.
And, with a final pass through the metal detector, the loaf’s journey grinds to a temporary halt. At some point in the next twenty hours, supermarket orders will come in, and pickers will load it onto a pallet, and then a lorry. From there, it goes from supermarket shelf to basket, to stomach—or, as the show’s presenters pointed out, the bin. (British shoppers throw away the equivalent of one out of every three loaves purchased.)
The episode is still available on iPlayer, as are the subsequent programmes in the series, on milk and chocolate. It’s the kind of food television I love—and that is vanishingly rare. Although the presenters point out the differences between industrial processes and home baking and the unnecessary nature of much food waste, there is no agenda other than curiosity. Most of us—even those of us that write and think about food almost constantly, like me—will never have seen the inside of commercial bakery, let alone the yeast bioreactors and flour mills that feed it. And it is a fascinating, awe-inspiring, and occasionally revelatory sight.
*As designer and food historian Cory Bernat once pointed out, sliced bread wasn’t really the greatest thing until cellophane came along to keep it fresh. Although Iowan Otto Rohwedder designed his “single-step bread slicing machine” in the 1920s, when the first pre-sliced loaf was sold on July 7, 1928, it was wrapped in wax paper, which was far from air-tight, as well as difficult to reseal. Fortunately, DuPont came out with the first impermeable plastic wrapping in 1927, and by the early 1930s, sliced bread was being sold in cellophane. “Cellophane on bread! Impossible, one might say, but it’s a fact,” reported the Sarasota Herald-Tribune in 1934.
For another look at food manufacturing’s industrial sublime, see “In the Time of Full Mechanisation.”
Thanks for the tip, Mum!
It found that while 17 percent of the traditional sex education programs lowered rates of pregnancy and sexually transmitted disease, 80 percent of the programs that address gender and power lowered rates. All told, programs that addressed gender or power were five times as likely to be effective as those that did not.
Most school sex education programs stick to the nuts and bolts of biology. Teenagers who also talk about what makes for a good relationship are more likely to avoid pregnancy and STDs, a study finds.
Melissa ain’t putting up with your shit
At the Toronto Fillm Festival last September, a critic who had written a particularly vicious review of Tammy approached McCarthy to praise the new movie she was there to promote, St. Vincent. “Are you the one who wrote I was only a good actor when I looked more attractive and that my husband should never be allowed to direct me because he allowed me to look so homely?” she asked him.
He admitted he was. “Would you say that to any guy?” she continued. “When John C. Reilly—or any actor—is playing a character that is depressed and dejected, would you say, ‘Well, you look terrible!’?” She asked the critic if he had a daughter. He did. “Watch what you say to her,” she told him. “Do you tell her she’s only worthwhile or valid when she’s pretty?”
McCarthy doesn’t often speak out about the sexism in Hollywood and the media. But it’s apparent that she’s been thinking about it. A lot. “It’s an intense sickness,” she says. “For someone who has two daughters, I’m wildly aware of how deep that rabbit hole goes. But I just don’t want to start listening to that stuff. I’m trying to take away the double standard of ‘You’re an unattractive bitch because your character was not skipping along in high heels.’”
these two are killing it with cuteness today
As soon as the clouds come out, these two curl up together. Best way to ward off seasonal affected disorder in PNW?
#OHSpets #adoptdontshop #dogsofinstagram #catsofinstagram #interspecieslove #pdx
Dogs Who Fail At Being Dogs
Portland Parks & Recreation officially opened the South Waterfront Greenway Central District project today.
They describe it as, “a city park and valuable transportation corridor with wildlife habitat along the river’s edge – all on land reclaimed from industrial use.”
That’s a pretty impressive mouthful — but I’d quibble with the “valuable transportation corridor” part since it really doesn’t connect to anything yet.
But still. It’s beautiful to look at and very nice to ride. And it’s Portland’s best example of a separated biking and walking path. I shared a sneak peek back in March with more photos and background on the project. All that’s left to do is for you to go out and ride it.
The post South Waterfront Greenway is open — Go check it out! appeared first on BikePortland.org.
This morning, a federal jury stunned Philadelphia and acquitted six city narcotics officers accused of violently robbing suspected drug dealers of hundreds of thousands of dollars. Victims were allegedly brutally assaulted and even hung over balconies, according to the indictment.
Throughout the trial, lead defense lawyer Jack McMahon attacked the alleged victims' credibility (calling them "bags of trash" and "despicable liars") and that of former officer Jeffrey Walker, a narcotics cop arrested separately who pleaded guilty and testified against his former colleagues.
McMahon apparently did a good job convincing the jury that these alleged drug dealers were all liars despite the fact that they and Walker independently told the same chilling stories. What's so sad and ironic about this is that this is exactly why corrupt police target criminals: who’s going to believe them?
Apparently not this federal jury which, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer, was made up "largely of white suburban residents." McMahon played to what was no doubt a sympathetic audience.Today's verdict sends a message to Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams: the question of whether rogue police are held accountable lies in his office's hands.
"There is no question that the federal jury pool in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania is overwhelmingly white, suburban and rural, conservative and pro-law enforcement," says Larry Krasner, a prominent civil rights lawyer and longtime critic of narcotics officer corruption.
The same was true in 1992 when the trial of the officers videotaped beating Rodney King was moved from Los Angeles to suburban Simi Valley*, "a police officers' bedroom community with a predominantly white population," as reporter Linda Deutsch put it. "There were no blacks on the jury."
Soon thereafter, Los Angeles was in flames.
Today's verdict sends a message to Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams: the question of whether rogue police are held accountable lies in his office's hands. Williams has shown a new interest in prosecuting police and correctional officer misconduct in recent months, after years of criticism for ignoring it.
City juries are by no means automatically anti-cop, but seem likelier to be more skeptical of police. A 2013 Pew Research Center poll found that compared with suburbanites and rural residents, urban residents as a whole were more likely to agree that black people are treated less fairly than whites by police. Much of this, however, may be more related to race than geography. A December 2014 Gallup analysis of poll data found that a similar percentage of urban and non-urban whites had a great deal or a lot of confidence in police (62 to 60-percent), but that black people living in urban areas were less likely to have such confidence (26-percent) than those who live in non-urban areas (38-percent). City juries then would likely be more skeptical of cops than federal juries drawing from the broader metropolitan area not because they are urban per se, but because they are more likely to include black people.
But it can also be hard to get local prosecutors to take on police misconduct: Krasner says that federal prosecutors ceased calling some of the narcotics officers to testify years before Williams' office took action, and that he only did so only after Krasner's accusations of misconduct prompted a local judge to order the DA to release records on a number of officers.
Another blockbuster case was exposed in a Pulitzer Prize-winning Philadelphia Daily News series, detailing allegations against another group of city narcotics cops of fraudulent search warrant applications, looting immigrant-owned convenience stores, and in one officer's case, committing serial sexual assault. Yet neither federal nor local prosecutors brought charges. Last month, the DA charged another narcotics cop, Christopher Hulmes, with perjury after I exposed his lies in the Philadelphia City Paper—more than three years after he had admitted to lying in open court.
The case should also should remind Philadelphia Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey that the city's drug war is out of control. Federal prosecutors alleged that "Police Department top brass never asked too many questions because the squad was one of the most productive on the force, often raking in large hauls of seized money and drugs," according to the Inquirer. Indeed, the officers' immediate supervisors testified on their behalf.
The next step for the six acquitted officers from this morning’s verdict will no doubt be to use the city's broken arbitration system to overturn their dismissals (though the police department says that one of the officers has resigned). And then they could very well end up back on the street once again holding a gun, a badge, and the power of arrest over the citizens of Philadelphia. But civil rights cases filed by the alleged victims will move forward. A lot of money, and some measure of unfulfilled justice, is at stake.
"Justice comes in many forms," says Krasner, whose office is coordinating the various lawyers bringing what he says is more than 100 civil rights lawsuits against the officers and the city. "Sometimes it is criminal court. Sometimes it is in civil court. And we are looking forward to pursuing these civil claims."
*CORRECTION: This story originally referred to Simi Valley as Simi County. Simi Valley is located in Ventura County.
Pro tip: Pizza cat only visits after you put out the sashimi. Chef demands highest quality ingredients!
Our ability to get along with folks who aren't relatives could be a legacy of our hunter-gatherer ancestors. And it's rooted in the fact that those societies had gender equity.
Random man's name: favorability/unfavorability tied at 6-7 %
Random woman's name: favorability 3%, unfavorability 20%
Emily Farris is not running for anything and has no national profile or political aspirations. Yet, a quarter of GOP primary voters in one poll had an opinion of her. What's going on? Pseudo-opinion.
tw: anyone who got priced out of Cap Hill
San Francisco may be the first city that comes to mind when you think of the ugliest aspects of a tech boom (hopelessly unaffordable housing, private buses, contempt for the homeless, etc...). But don’t sleep on Seattle.
Amazon, headquartered in the city’s historically industrial South Lake Union neighborhood, has a workforce spread around more than a dozen buildings and plans for more. And when you need to hire thousands of high-salaried workers in Seattle who probably have their minds set on Mountain View or Cupertino, you make a promotional video.
Amazon did just that in 2013, putting together a collection of testimonials assuring the next wave of Amazonians that Seattle is right for them:
The selling points fit what’d you’d expect a young tech worker with a lot of money to appreciate: Ambitious fitness routines (“everyone does Crossfit”). Weirdness in a safe, controlled environment (“there’s actually two places in Seattle where you can take circus classes”). And owning property in a market they’re unwittingly making too expensive (“we bought a house recently here”).
The video started making the rounds among Seattleites after being posted on The Stranger last month. Since then, not one but two razor-sharp parodies have popped up, shared yesterday by the Seattle Times’ Tricia Romano.
One comes from the local rapper Spekulation, filled with voiceovers that get right to Seattle’s growing tech-dread:
And another by one of Seattle’s most famous record labels, Sub Pop:
Of course, these are funny manifestations of a very real issue. As Anthony Flint noted last month, “it won’t be long” before Seattle’s real estate market catches up with Vancouver’s, where the median home price is $1.2 million.
The dynamic is especially noticeable in the Capitol Hill neighborhood. Separated from South Lake Union by I-5, the gay and punk cultures that have thrived there since the 1990s now feel at risk. Rents are rising dramatically and resentment is growing alongside it.
Capitol Hill Housing, an organization that provides income-restricted housing in the neighborhood, has 25 buildings with 747 units, according to the Seattle Times. The paper reported just one vacancy as of last March. A poster recently spotted in the neighborhood reads: “Tech Money Kills Queer Culture Dead.” A writer for The Guardian noticed multiple “We Welcome Our New Condo Overlords” bumper stickers while reporting on Amazon’s growth last year.
It may not be as bad as San Francisco yet, but the more Seattle changes in ways that isolate those who aren’t rich or absorbed in tech culture, the icier the satire will surely become.
Investigators don’t know yet why an Amtrak passenger train was traveling twice the speed limit at Frankford Junction when it derailed in Philadelphia. But officials have the technology that would have prevented the fatal crash that killed eight people and injured scores more on Tuesday night.
A communications safety system known as Positive Train Control could have slowed the speeding Amtrak train before it entered into the curve at more than 100 miles per hour. This system—part monitoring system, part emergency brake, part remote control—isn’t obscure or hypothetical. The 110th Congress made PTC mandatory in 2008.Congress made Positive Train Control mandatory in 2008, but the safety system has yet to be implemented across much of the nation, thanks in large part to legislative deadlock.
But the safety system still has yet to be implemented across much of the nation, thanks in large part to legislative deadlock.
“Had such a system been installed on this section of track, this accident would not have occurred,” said Robert Sumwalt, the chair of the National Transportation Safety Board, in a press conference on Wednesday evening.
Sumwalt didn’t mince his words. That’s because the NTSB has been beating this drum for years. The technology dates back to the 1970s; the NTSB first placed PTC on its “Most Wanted List of Transportation Safety Improvements” in 1990, according to a report from the Congressional Research Service.
After a 2008 collision between a commuter train and a freight train in Chatsworth, California, that killed 25 people, Congress took action. The Rail Safety Improvement Act of 2008 (RSIA) requires rail providers across the nation to implement PTC by December 31, 2015. The bill left it to the rail industry to decide how PTC would work.
It was a heavy lift from the start. There are myriad challenges with designing, testing, and installing an array of reliable, interoperable monitoring systems. PTC would prevent crashes caused by human error; these mistakes account for about one-third of rail crashes. As CityLab’s own Eric Jaffe explains, the costs for implementing PTC could fall between $6.7 billion and $22.5 billion. But if those costs are passed on to consumers altogether, then PTC could inadvertently push rail users to drive instead—which is far less safe.
A 2010 article in Progressive Railroading outlines the many technical challenges that rail providers encountered early on. However, the system selected by Amtrak for the Northeast Corridor—the Advanced Civil Speed Enforcement System (ACSES)—came with certain key technical advantages, and Amtrak has led the way in PTC implementation.
Still, seven months out from the December 31 deadline, along the nation’s busiest rail corridor, PTC is scarce. Neither legislators nor rail providers could have known in 2008 that the recession would drag on as long as it did, or that Congress would never again pass a full budget for transportation.
Although Amtrak has said that it will implement PTC across all its lines by the deadline, today, ACSES is operational on only three railroads:
By 2012, the Federal Railroad Administration was saying that the 2015 deadline was a no-go. An August 2012 report from FRA to Congress is clear: “FRA believes that the majority of railroads will not be able to complete PTC implementation by the 2015 deadline.” Congress had given the rail industry an unfunded mandate:
When the RSIA was passed in 2008, the industry was operating under the premise that a new, long-term reauthorization bill would increase Federal capital support for commuter rail systems through FTA grants or that additional Federal funding would be made available to assist in the implementation of PTC.
However, more than 3 years later, the majority of FTA grants have been funded through short-term extensions ... and no long-term bill has been enacted. This reduces funding certainty and affects the commuter railroads’ ability to implement long-term plans. Additional public funding was fundamental to commuter railroads’ ability to achieve the 2015 deadline.
Logistical challenges and funding gaps notwithstanding, rail providers have not rebelled against the PTC mandate. A 2013 statement from the American Public Transportation Association (APTA) said that the industry was “aggressively implementing” PTC in order to “prevent collisions between trains and derailments resulting from trains traveling too fast.”“Had such a system been installed on this section of track, this accident would not have occurred.”
“It is estimated that the cost of full implementation of PTC will be at least $2.75 billion,” said Michael Melaniphy, president and CEO of APTA, in the statement. “To date, Congress has only appropriated $50 million for PTC for this critical safety program.”
But the deadline has proven impossible. APTA has called for an extension, a measure that the Association of American Railroads also supports. One act before Congress would push the deadline to 2020; both the Teamsters and the AFL-CIO have opposed moving the goal posts that far, and U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx has also rejected a broad, blanket extension. Another bill before Congress would move the date year-to-year.
Yet the issue isn’t that the industry needs a little more time; the problem is that rail needs a lot more money. The Obama administration’s transportation budget for fiscal year 2016 includes $3 billion over six years to assist with implementing PTC, but the House voted on Wednesday—the day after the crash—to slash Amtrak’s budget.The issue isn’t that the industry needs a little more time; the problem is that rail needs a lot more money.
Amtrak’s February newsletter notes that ACSES is already operational on 400 miles of track but that 1,200 more miles still remain. Any decision by Amtrak and other rail providers to delay the implementation of PTC was not made idly. In 2010, for example—to select just one year between 2008 and today—Amtrak replaced two fixed bridges and rebuilt two movable bridges, rehabilitated fire-prevention systems in New York tunnels, and upgraded fire-alarm systems in New York Penn Station. None of this work along the Northeast Corridor could be put off.
The implementation of PTC on the Northeast Corridor (and elsewhere) is badly overdue. But so is everything else—and some claims on rail providers’ agendas are even more pressing. As the FRA explained in 2012:
With a backlog of unfunded good repair projects of approximately $78 billion, diversion of resources by the intercity passenger and commuter railroads to implement PTC systems is to the further detriment of other essential projects. FRA is concerned that such diversion decisions could create future large-scale safety or operations problems that present greater risks than those that PTC is intended to prevent.
No one will ever know what crises might have happened had planners and leaders made different decisions. This is the ghoulish calculus that lawmakers will enter into once again. Just as a crash in 2008 pushed Congress to adopt rail safeguards at high costs, the crash on Tuesday will force legislators to decide whether they actually want to pay for them.
This post has been updated to add information about Amtrak’s PTC commitments.