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Monthly Archives: August 2018

Martins Beach Feud Continues as State Prepares for Eminent Domain

State Sen. Jerry Hill, D-San Mateo, addresses reporters after announcing California will pay for a public easement through Martins Beach and the purchase of a new county park along the San Mateo County coastline. The newly created Tunitas Creek Beach can be seen in the background. From left: Hilary Walecka, Coastal Conservancy; Assemblyman Marc Berman, D-Palo Alto; Marti Tedesco, Peninsula Open Space Trust; Assemblyman Kevin Mullin, D-San Mateo; and Hill.

HALF MOON BAY, Calif. (CN) – California lawmakers unveiled their strategy for the next round in the long-running feud between the state and a Silicon Valley billionaire over public access to one of the state’s most picturesque beaches.

An assemblage of California legislators gathered on the San Mateo County Coast about 50 miles south of San Francisco Friday to announce the creation of a fund to provide money for the purchase of an easement to facilitate public access to Martins Beach.

“Our goal is to have the gate at Martins Beach open from sunup to sundown every day of the year,” said state Senator Jerry Hill, D-San Mateo. “The entire public should be able to enjoy it and not just some billionaire.”

The “billionaire” is Vinod Khosla, who purchased the 89-acre Martins Beach property dotted with cabins seven miles south of Half Moon Bay. Like all of California’s coastal beaches, Martins Beach remains public – but to access it, the public must traverse a quarter-mile road through Khosla’s property.

The previous ownership group, which sold the property to Khosla in 2008, frequently left the gate open so visitors could access the beach — but Khosla didn’t.

The closed gate and no trespassing signs drew condemnation from locals and lawsuitsfrom the Surfrider Foundation.

Khosla’s lawyers have long argued both in and out of court that the issue comes down to private property rights and that he has the discretion to limit members of the public from walking on his property, while opening and closing the contested gate as he sees fit.

The billionaire co-founder of Sun Microsystems offered to sell an easement to the state for $30 million, which is only $2.5 million less than he paid for the entire property in 2008. The state balked.

Hill noted the State Lands Commission had the easement appraised recently, and an independent analysis valued it at $360,000, although Hill said the estimate was likely far below any potential purchase price.

During the most recent state budget process, state lawmakers — including Hill and Assemblymember Marc Berman, who represents parts of the San Mateo County coast —secured $1 million to be set aside in a sub-account in the State Lands Commission budget with the intent to exercise eminent domain on the easement.

“It’s up to the State Lands Commission to act,” said Jennifer Savage of Surfrider Foundation.

Along with the state’s $1 million, the county of San Mateo has also agreed to put up $1 million to secure the easement.

Hill said that with $2 million available, securing a permanent easement for public access through eminent domain is feasible.

While Hill and other officials waxed optimistic, they also expressed worry that Kholsa’s well-funded attempt to get the issue in front of the U.S. Supreme Court could work.

“I am so worried that the Supreme Court is going to take on this issue and we are going to lose,” Hill said in an interview after the press conference.

Khosla has appealed each of the decisions that have ruled in favor of public access at the California state court level. Last year, he lost in the California state appeals court and petitioned the California Supreme Court to take up the case.

The highest court in California declined, at which point Khosla appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court. The Supreme Court has yet to determine whether it will hear the case. However, it has asked Surfrider Foundation attorneys to respond to Khosla’s petition, which indicates it is at least entertaining the possibility.

Savage, Hill and other public access proponents worry the current conservative composition of the country’s high court will favor the private property argument and potentially gut the California law enshrining the coast as a public resource.

“It’s an attack on the core values of the Coastal Act itself,” Savage said.

Hill agreed.

“It’s the key for the entire state,” he said. “It could affect every beach in California. This could overturn the Coastal Act and the Coastal Commission’s authority.”

Meanwhile, state officials are poised to move ahead with eminent domainproceedings, even as they also turn their attention to other public access issues.

Hill and California Assembly Members Marc Berman and Kevin Mullin announced the state’s allocation of $5 million to facilitate the purchase of a 58-acre beachfront property only a mile down the road from Martins Beach.

“Public access to beaches has always been a way of California life,” Mullin said.

The Tunitas Creek Beach, similar to Martins Beach, is a public resource with access problems due to private property interceding between the beach and Highway 1 to the east.

But now the state has plans to buy the property and install a parking lot, emergency access infrastructure, a path to the beach and other amenities while creating the Tunitas Creek Beach County Park, to be managed by San Mateo County.

The park is slated to open to the public within three years.

The California Coastal Commission has also ramped up aggressive enforcement of public beach access, fining property owners millions of dollars for the creation and maintenance of various structures aimed at impeding public access.

Whether the commission will have the authority to continue to do so will ride on what the U.S. Supreme Court decides.

The defining feature of Martins Beach rises from the coastline as several beachgoers walk through the sand. (Matthew Renda/CNS)
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John McCain’s Parting Message: Our Greatness Is in Peril

Today’s Republican Party is the biggest threat to the country that McCain served and loved. He offered an alternative.

By David Leonhardt –

CreditCreditRobyn Beck/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

John McCain was no moderate. He won Barry Goldwater’s Arizona seat in 1986 and was, for the most part, a fitting heir to Goldwater. McCain supported a smaller federal government, a hawkish foreign policy and the typical Republican positions on abortion, guns and other issues.

But McCain pursued his conservative ends through means that are depressingly rare in today’s Republican Party. McCain believed in the American ideals of pluralistic democracy.

He despised autocracy. He was willing to accept defeat when his side lost a political battle. He pushed for an election system not dominated by the wealthy. He came to reject racism as a political strategy. And in his dying months, McCain was one of the only Republicans to oppose President Trump not just with his words, but also with his vote.

In a recent New Yorker essay about Charles de Gaulle, Adam Gopnik described the French leader in ways that left me thinking about McCain’s legacy. “His life is proof that unapologetic right-wing politics do not necessarily bend toward absolutism,” Gopnik wrote. “They can also sometimes stiffen the spine of liberal democracy.”

The absolutism and radicalism of today’s Republican Party is the biggest threat to the country that McCain served and loved. It has left the United States impotent to deal with our greatest challenges — inequality, alienation, climate change and a global drift toward autocracy. Congress, as McCain said last year, is “getting nothing done.” Meanwhile, threats to American power and interests grow.

I expect the Trump presidency to end poorly for Republicans, in some combination of disgrace, unpopularity and defeat. If it does, at least some Republicans will be looking for ways to reinvent their party. They will want an antidote to Trumpism, a set of ideas that manage to be conservative and anti-Trump.

They could do a lot worse than a version of McCainism. I’m well aware that McCain could be maddeningly inconsistent and flawed. He equivocated about the Confederate flag in 2000. He too often acquiesced to Mitch McConnell’s torching of Senate norms. For goodness sake, McCain decided Sarah Palin should be vice president. As he himself admitted, he should have done much more to fight Republican extremism.

But the sum total of his career still represents a meaningful alternative to Trump, McConnell and the rest of today’s Republican leadership. At McCain’s best, as Barack Obama said this weekend, he displayed “a fidelity to something higher — the ideals for which generations of Americans and immigrants alike have fought, marched and sacrificed.”

What would a Republican Party more in the mold of John McCain look like?

It would, for starters, stop cowing to Trump and stand up for American national security. It would investigate Russian cyberattacks and the possibility, as McCain put it, “that the president of the United States might be vulnerable to Russian extortion.” Many of McCain’s colleagues remembering him as a brave patriot are proving themselves to be neither.

Second, a more McCain-like Republican Party would understand that racism is both immoral and, in the long term, politically ruinous. McCain had a multiracial family — the kind that is increasingly America’s future. Rather than scapegoat immigrants, he took risks to pass immigration reform. After Charlottesville, he declared, “White supremacists aren’t patriots, they’re traitors.”

Third, McCain believed in democracy and its vital, fragile institutions. He accepted his two haunting presidential defeats honorably. He has reportedly chosen the victors in those campaigns — Obama and George W. Bush — to deliver eulogies at his funeral. Most significantly, McCain fought for campaign-finance laws to reduce the influence of plutocrats.

Fourth, McCain understood that democracy sometimes means moving on. He voted against Obamacare — a reflection of his small-government conservatism. But he also voted, crucially, against its repeal — a reflection of his small-c conservatism. In doing so, he acted as a modern-day Eisenhower, a Republican willing to accept an expansion of the safety net for the good of the country.

Finally, McCain recognized that the military wasn’t the only way that Washington could use its awesome power for good. When I interviewed him during the 2008 presidential campaign, he described his economic hero as Theodore Roosevelt — a “free-enterprise, capitalist, full-bore guy” who realized that prosperity depended on government agencies “that need to do their job as well.” The outlook led him to favor policies (albeit too sporadically) to fight climate change and expand community colleges.

Imagine how different our politics could be if even some Republicans — à la T.R. — occasionally took the side of the little guy against corporate behemoths. And even if you disagreed with McCain on as many issues as I did, imagine if the Republican Party ultimately came to resemble him more than Trump.

Above all, McCain believed in American greatness — as a reality, not a slogan. He knew that the United States could play a unique role in the world, as a defender of freedom and human dignity. He also knew that the role was anything but assured. It required hard work, good choices, compromise and sacrifice.

McCain’s final message for his country was a warning: Our greatness is in peril.

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How IoT Is Spawning Better Business Models

It’s an agile world that moves at digital warp speed, raising the bar on customer expectations almost by the day. Businesses feel relentless pressure to keep up. But if conventional wisdom has always revolved around businesses serving consumers and one another through models that span back generations, the time has clearly come to let a bold new wave of technology optimize the environment for the future.

With these new technologies working in tandem, businesses are becoming more efficient and effective.ISTOCK

Enter the Internet of Things (IoT) and computer vision—breakthrough technologies that are taking the friction out of product development and simultaneously multiplying customer options while bolstering competitive advantage. With these new technologies working in tandem, businesses are becoming more efficient and effective.

Yet as Harvard Business Review explains, “To take advantage of new, cloud-based opportunities, today’s companies will need to fundamentally rethink their orthodoxies about value creation and value capture.” Here are three ways this rethinking has created revolution in the marketplace.

Rolls-Royce Engines: High-Flying Platform-as-a-Service

“Platform as a Service” is a business model that uses a cloud-based platform to collect and analyze data, and where payment is oriented toward services rather than physical goods. Think of it as akin to renting a car, where you are paying per use versus owning the asset. Platform as a Service leverages the IoT to monitor usage with sensors (embedded in the products themselves) that collect data for constant analysis—while also tracking the product’s performance and condition in real time.

One company that excels at Platform as a Service is Rolls-Royce, which through its TotalCare program, essentially rents (versus selling outright) its jet engines using a model known as “power by the hour.” TotalCare is charged on a fixed dollar-per-flying-hour basis and, since Rolls-Royce retains ownership, the company actively manages the engine through its life cycle to achieve maximum flying availability. The program also saves on fuel costs and reduces environmental impact since the collected data, and the associated analytics, keep engines running at peak efficiency.

TotalCare’s success rests on proactive maintenance, which is planned on the basis of the large amounts of data Rolls-Royce constantly collects on an engine’s performance. The engines continuously send telemetry data to four Rolls-Royce centers for monitoring. This sort of predictive maintenance—as opposed to preventive maintenance—eliminates guesswork, as the engines report their conditions to Rolls-Royce on an up-to-the-minute basis. It also saves businesses valuable time and resources, including labor costs, while guaranteeing optimal engine performance.

Based on the information Rolls-Royce data centers receive, an inspection can be scheduled, or spare parts can be directed to the right destination even before the pilots or the airline know that one of their engines has a problem. Combined with advanced analytics, this enables the company to perform upkeep and repair activity with minimal disruption.

Peloton Exercise Bikes: A Brand-New Business Cycle With IoT

The genius thinking behind the Peloton exercise bike follows the wisdom outlined in the Harvard Business Review piece, “How the Internet of Things Changes Business Models.” Peloton’s model represents a key paradigm shift made possible by IoT: The path to profit goes from “selling the next product or device” to “enabling recurring revenue,” which is much more lucrative.

What makes this possible? For Peloton, it begins with the base product, which retails for roughly $2,000 and is a high-end, indoor bicycle rigged with a Wi-Fi-enabled, 22-inch touchscreen tablet. But that’s not where the cyclical action, if you will, is in terms of revenue. Peloton also streams live and on-demand classes, which at-home users can connect to via Peloton’s servers.

Now, think of that content as something akin to a Netflix subscription: To get it, you have to pay for it. Since the streamed and on-demand content comes via an annual subscription of $400+, the bike produces its own stream—one of recurring revenue that goes beyond the sale of the physical product and can finance future Peloton innovation. With more than 150,000 bikes sold, that adds up to yearly subscription revenue in excess of $70 million.

Peloton has also added a powerful element of sport-meets-social media to the IoT cash flow mix. At one point, more than 11,000 people participated in a single live ride—each sending their data back to Peloton, which the company then used to create leaderboards and provide performance feedback. That large-scale competitive dimension keeps users coming back for more.

Another IoT tie-in comes through the use of technologies such as an onboard console app that can, for example, track performance issues from its bikes using onboard sensors. In the event of a problem, Peloton can retrace the exact steps a user took that led up to performance issues—making it much easier to troubleshoot problems.

It’s impossible to overestimate how much the Peloton system changes the person-versus-machine dynamic of the home workout or the gym. In fact, it’s safe to say that not since Frances Lowndes invented the Gymnasticon in 1796 has the exercise bike experienced such a paradigm breakthrough.

Customized Products On Demand

IoT also makes possible a level of customization unimaginable just a generation ago, to the point where businesses can now manufacture on demand, without keeping an inventory. Machine vision and other IoT sensors can generate measurements and specs implemented through additive manufacturing (3D printing) or other methods.

This also marks where the complementary technologies of artificial intelligence and computer vision come in. With artificial intelligence, a manufacturer can employ machine learning to a consumer’s tastes and requests, and generate suggested improvements or changes to orders over time. And computer vision—the ability of cameras and visual sensors to capture raw video and process it into useful, actionable information—has given a broad spectrum of companies a decided edge in the marketplace.

Think not only of breakout companies, or those with high profiles, but also your average retailer or coffee shop utilizing computer vision to tie in to your loyalty program and your browsing interest to push digital messages in-store to you and give you special pricing based on your loyalty program. Customer service gets a boost as well, as the technology cuts the cord to the cash register—which saves time at checkout—allows more engagement with customers and collects real-time inventory data to secure more sales.

For example, IoT technology and computer vision have turned mobile devices into de facto tailors. MTailor is a custom clothing company that exclusively uses a smartphone to take measurements for custom shirts, trousers and suits. First pitched on the reality TV show Shark Tank, MTailor works by using about 30 seconds worth of video a customer provides via their mobile device. MTailor claims 20% more accuracy than a human tailor, a claim bolstered by many positive reviews.

And at breakneck speed—literally the speed of a BMW—computer vision is headed towards a future where it will be able to process enormous amounts of data in real time. In the race to develop fully functional autonomous cars, Intel has partnered with BMW and Mobileye to bring autonomous fleets to the road by 2021. To appreciate the constant stream of data these cars will have to analyze, process and react to, think of all the visual stimuli a human driver takes in while negotiating traffic and road conditions, or responding to sudden weather changes.

Another company, STYR Labs, takes data from the end-user to create a customized nutrition plan. An activity tracker, wireless scale and a “smart bottle” for fluids collect an array of data that includes motion patterns, behavioral inputs and environmental conditions. The user data is then combined within STYR’s custom app—and cross-referenced with analytics from 250,000 scientific papers and clinical studies—to custom formulate multivitamins and protein blends for each consumer.

“Manufacturing is heading down the path toward personalization, shaped by the increasing amounts of data insights that are streaming from people, places and things,” says Chet Hullum, general manager of industrial solutions for Intel’s Internet of Things Group (IOTG). “It will give manufacturers the ability to become so much more efficient and safe in how they deliver their product to customers, aided by disruption in automation and controls, virtualization and software-defined machine control.”

An Internet Of Beautiful Things

Moore’s Law laid the foundation for understanding just how digital technology, as it multiplied in complexity, power and speed, would change the world. IoT beautifully illustrates this law at work as businesses move from static to dynamic models: where products continuously monitor and update themselves, or custom-made commodities become the rule, not the exception. Truly, for businesses ready to embrace its potential, it’s an Internet of Beautiful Things.

 

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Hundreds Of Newspapers Are Challenging Trump’s Attacks: ‘We Are Not The Enemy

Publications across the U.S. — from the large to the tiny, conservative and liberal — are banding together to push back against Trump’s anti-media attacks.
Hundreds of newspapers have banded together this week to push back against President Trump's attacks on the media.

JONATHAN NACKSTRAND/GETTY IMAGES
Hundreds of newspapers have banded together this week to push back against President Trump’s attacks on the media.

Hundreds of U.S. newspapers are banding together this week to fight back against President Donald Trump’s “war on the free press.”

The Boston Globe had called last week for publications nationwide to publish editorials this Thursday that push back against Trump’s repeated attacks on the media. The Globe said more than 300 outlets ― ranging from major publications to smaller, local outfits ― had committed to writing their own unique editorial challenging the president.

From Tucson, Arizona, to Chicago, Illinois; Hartford, Connecticut, to Dallas, Texas; and Athens, Ohio, to Bismarck, North Dakota, papers from across the nation have followed through with their promise today, publishing editorials that have each been constructed with different words but bear a shared message: Mr. President, “journalists are not the enemy.”

Even the New York Post — the conservative-leaning daily owned by News Corp titan and Trump friend Rupert Murdoch — published an editorial. “We stand with our colleagues,” the paper’s editorial board wrote.

Trump tweeted Thursday in response to the Globe’s initiative.

Donald J. Trump

@realDonaldTrump

The Boston Globe, which was sold to the the Failing New York Times for 1.3 BILLION DOLLARS (plus 800 million dollars in losses & investment), or 2.1 BILLION DOLLARS, was then sold by the Times for 1 DOLLAR. Now the Globe is in COLLUSION with other papers on free press. PROVE IT!

The New York Times purchased the Globe for $1.1 billion in 1993 and sold it 20 years later to John W. Henry, owner of the Boston Red Sox, for $70 million, according to a Times press release from 2013.

Trump then tweeted about his views on a free press.

Donald J. Trump

@realDonaldTrump

There is nothing that I would want more for our Country than true FREEDOM OF THE PRESS. The fact is that the Press is FREE to write and say anything it wants, but much of what it says is FAKE NEWS, pushing a political agenda or just plain trying to hurt people. HONESTY WINS!

Scroll down to see a sampling of the editorials published today. And remember to subscribe to your local paper.

This story has been updated with Trump’s response.

Liza Hearon contributed reporting.

The Boston Globe

@BostonGlobe

The Globe editorial board called for an end to President Trump’s sustained assault on the . Hundreds of publishers around the US answered that call http://bos.gl/ORBg7vZ 

NYT Opinion

@nytopinion

Answering a call last week from The @BostonGlobe, The @NYTimes Editorial Board is joining more than 200 newspapers, from large metro-area dailies to small local weeklies, to remind readers of the value of America’s . https://nyti.ms/2nMYMe1 

Opinion | A Free Press Needs You

Don’t just take it from us. Scores of publications from around the country are raising their voices.

nytimes.com

Tribune Edit Board

@Trib_ed_board

Editorial – Dear President Trump: We aren’t enemies of the people. We’re a check on government https://trib.al/mONhwBU 

Will Bunch

@Will_Bunch

A rare – and powerfully written – front-page editorial in tomorrow’s Philadelphia Inquirer, joining 300-plus news orgs in calling out Trump for his war on a free press that threatens democracy. Please read it, share it, and let’s get trending http://www2.philly.com/philly/opinion/editorials/newspaper-free-press-editorials-donald-trump-philadelphia-20180815.html 

Stop the war on a free press | Editorial

If the press is not free from reprisal, punishment or suspicion for unpopular views or information, neither is the country. Neither are its people.

philly.com

Seth Mandel

@SethAMandel

Our editorial in tomorrow’s Post: Sorry President Trump, Mayor de Blasio, Gov. Cuomo and the rest of y’all—vilifying us won’t stop us from doing our jobs. The press isn’t scared of you, and in the end truth will out https://nypost.com/2018/08/15/hate-the-press-all-you-want-well-keep-reporting/ 

Hate the press all you want — we’ll keep reporting

The Boston Globe has asked for a coordinated response today from newspapers across the country, to oppose President Trump’s labeling journalists as an “enemy of the people.” Who are we to

nypost.com

Philly Daily News

@PhillyDailyNews

Daily News | Stop the war on a free press | Editorial https://trib.al/X41a8UF 

Stop the war on a free press | Editorial

If the press is not free from reprisal, punishment or suspicion for unpopular views or information, neither is the country. Neither are its people.

philly.com

Daniel Borenstein

@BorensteinDan

Editorial: President Trump, we are not the nation’s enemy
Enough. We can’t sit silently. These attacks on the press are an attack on our country’s democracy. https://www.mercurynews.com/2018/08/15/editorial-president-trump-we-are-not-the-nations-enemy/ 

Joel Mathis@joelmmathis

My hometown paper, the Hillsboro (Kan.) Free-Press, has joined the editorials defending the, ahem, free press. Trump won 72 percent of the vote in that county in 2016. The courage they’re displaying is remarkable.

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Sun Sentinel Opinion@SoFlaOpinion

South Florida Sun Sentinel Editorial Board joins news organizations telling President Trump to stop calling the press America’s enemy. https://sunsent.nl/2BeO6hB 

HuffPost
 

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Rudy Giuliani Is Wrong About Chicago’s Bloodshed

More Republicans are needed, Mr. Giuliani says, but simple explanations are rarely the right ones.

By Kim Bellware 

Police officers at the scene in Chicago where several people were shot on Sunday.CreditTyler Lariviere/Chicago Sun-Times, via Associated Press

CHICAGO — Sixty-six people were shot in Chicago from early Friday evening to early Monday morning, 12 of them fatally. It’s a high number that marks a low point of the year for the city. This past weekend’s youngest shooting victim was only 11 years old.

Violence on such a scale is always tragic. And unfortunately in America, particularly when it comes to Chicago, there is always a tragically narrow and predictable reaction: blaming the scourge on a lack of support for the police and the political cowardice of urban Democrats.

Since the shootings, President Trump’s personal lawyer and the former New York City mayor, Rudolph Giuliani, has taken to Twitter and continued that pattern, using the carnage as an opportunity to denounce Mayor Rahm Emanuel and bolster his election opponent, former police superintendent Garry McCarthy, who was fired amid the fallout from the fatal shooting of Laquan McDonald, a black 17-year-old.

Former Mayor Rudolph Giuliani on the White House South Lawn in May.CreditDoug Mills/The New York Times

“Give Garry McCarthy your support @Garry4Chicago. Tomorrow I will get you information to contribute. MAKE CHICAGO SAFE AGAIN! He can do a lot better than Mayor Emmanuel who is fiddling while Chicago burns,” he tweeted, along with a flurry of similar posts.

Rudy Giuliani

@RudyGiuliani

Chicago murders are direct result of one party Democratic rule for decades. Policing genius Jerry McCarthy can do for Chicago what I did for NYC. He was one of the architects of Compstat. Slashed homicides over 70%. Tens of thousands of lives saved.

Besides originally mistaking Mr. McCarthy’s first name(and misspelling the mayor’s last name) — and failing to say that Mr. McCarthy himself is a Democrat (albeit self-identifying as “conservative”) or to note the response of Mr. McCarthy, a former New York deputy police commissioner, rejecting his former boss’s support — Mr. Giuliani’s statements were riddled with falsehoods. But they’re familiar to any Chicagoan who has seen the city’s trauma make national headlines: The complexities of the gun-violence affliction get flattened and distorted to fit into the contours of a simplified, politically convenient argument.

Rudy Giuliani

@RudyGiuliani

63 murders this weekend in Rahm Emmanuel’s Chicago. His legacy more murders in his city than ever before. It’s only because of Democrat brain washing that he has even a chance of remaining. Support police professional Garry McCarthy.

Mr. Giuliani’s tack, one he shares with President Trump and a long lineage of “tough on crime” politicians, dates back to his pre-mayoral days when he singled out New York’s Democratic mayor, David Dinkins, as soft on crime and “the one reason, and one reason alone,” that morale was low among the city’s rank-and-file police officers.

Mr. McCarthy did indeed lead the city’s data-driven CompStat system in the ’90s, which not only overlapped with Mr. Giuliani’s tenure, but also coincided with a sharp decline in the crime rate across nearly all major cities in the country, many without New York-style data systems or crackdowns on so-called quality-of-life crimes.

As the statistical adage goes, correlation does not imply causation. The verdict from mainstream sociologists and criminologists alike is that there is a clear and obvious reason for neither the widespread decades-long decline in violent crime nor its recent spike in big cities like Chicago.

When Mr. McCarthy came to Chicago in 2011, the city’s homicide rates had steadily declined to their lowest levels since the 1960s. After a troubling rise in 2012, the Chicago Police Department under Mr. McCarthy was under pressure to get the numbers down, and to his credit, it did.

Still, the specific forces behind the spikes and dips have vexed both independent observers and public servants honest about how unwieldy and multilayered the roots of violence are. A popular but unproven answer is the “Ferguson effect” (or in Chicago, the “Laquan McDonald effect”), which maintains that police officers are being undermined and unfairly maligned by politicians and the public and in response are retreating from proactive policing.

The “let cops be cops” solution — most recently peddled on “Fox & Friends” in light of the bloody weekend — feeds the delusion that police officers themselves can actually control crime, that the causes of and prescriptions for plagues like gun violence are untied to socioeconomic factors.

Giving the police more of anything — more numbers, more money, more liberties — to quell violence is still a reactionary, and thus limited, posture. And yes, so is simply calling for tougher gun laws (regulations the city of Chicago has, but its immediate surrounding area does not). To the communities affected, policing and gun laws are only parts of the puzzle.

Missing from Mr. Giuliani’s playacting concern for Chicago — and too often absent from the familiar pattern of reactions in our media — is an exploration of what the communities whose residents are being disproportionately shot and killed say they want.

On the city’s predominantly black and Latino South and West Sides, there are some who may want more police officers and stricter gun laws, and some who may not. But surely none wants only those things.

There’s been talk, fanned by President Trump, of sending in the National Guard. And the city is actively pursuing plans to spend $95 million on a new police training center.

But the activist and community groups already on the ground like The Black Youth Project 100 and Assatta’s Daughters have long been arguing for a more holistic plan of action that unifies increased resources with organized mentorship of the most at-risk young people and more investment in educational programming, along with more democratic police accountability.

A frequent and inaccurate response to Chicago’s gun violence is that the people most affected by it aren’t doing anything to change it. Many are doing whatever they can.

Most recently, community groups like CureViolence and The Faith Community of St. Sabina Church helped organized peaceful protests that took over the Dan Ryan Expressway and Lake Shore Drive — the city’s most famous thoroughfare — to try to bring the attention and political urgency necessary to shake local institutions into seeing them as equal partners in identifying remedies.

For all the years Chicago has struggled with gun violence, there’s never been a fully energized effort by the city’s Democratic machine to create that sort of Marshall Plan. Yet there has never been a Republican proposal for such a holistic approach, either.

If Mr. Giuliani’s cynical pitch for more Republican leaders and more intense policing was carried out, it would actually lead to the same thing he’s accusing opponents of: not mitigating the violence, just managing it.


Kim Bellware is a freelance journalist whose work has appeared in Rolling Stone, The Atlantic, Vice News and Chicago Magazine. For five years, she covered criminal justice for HuffPost.

Correction: 

A previous version of this article included incorrect information about the shooting of Laquan McDonald. He was not unarmed; he was clutching a knife.

 

This teenager posted 40 uplifting notes on a bridge to stop suicides. It’s working.

by 

Photo courtesy Northumbria Police.

At least 6 lives have been saved thanks to her notes.

Paige Hunter said she only wanted to help others struggling to talk about mental health issues. Now, a local police department is honoring the 18-year-old for what they called an “inspired” idea that has literally saved lives.

Hunter wrote dozens of encouraging letters and posted the signs along the Wearmouth Bridge in Sunderland, England.

The simple but encouraging signs included messages like:

“Even though things are difficult, your life matters.”

“Just hold on.”

“The world is much better with you in it.”

Paige said she never wanted an award, just a better way to cope with the often overwhelming burden of mental illness. And she’s expanding her efforts to other bridges as well.

“She should be very proud of herself,” said Northumbria Police Ch Supt Sarah Pitt.

She’s a firsthand expert in coping with mental health issues.

Paige said she herself experiences PTSD and knows firsthand what navigating suicidal thoughts feels like.

“When things got hard and I felt alone, I went to the Wearmouth Bridge on a couple of occasions and that feeling you get when you are debating whether to stay is absolutely terrifying,” she said.

“I didn’t want people to feel the same way I did.”

Photo courtesy Northumbria Police.

Preventing suicide is a complex issue. But sometimes it starts with a little love.

With suicide rates rising steadily in the U.S., mental health issues are more relevant than ever.

It’s a complex issue that requires serious work at the highest levels of government to improve access to mental health services and extends all the way down to the families and friends of those affected by mental health challenges.

But sometimes a small gesture means everything.

Hunter Paige is a reminder how much of a difference one person with a simple message can make. She’s changing lives, saving lives and bringing light to the issue of mental health.

 

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Aside

After spending his days teaching AP American history and economics at the public Live Oak High School in San Jose, Calif., Matt Barry drives for Uber.

Barry’s wife, Nicole, teaches as well — they each earn $69,000, a combined salary that not long ago was enough to afford a comfortable family life. But due to the astronomical costs in his area, including real estate — a 1,500-square-foot “starter home” costs $680,000 — driving for Uber was a necessity.

“Teachers are killing themselves,” Barry says in the new book, “Squeezed: Why Our Families Can’t Afford America” (Ecco), out Tuesday. “I shouldn’t be having to drive Uber at eight o’clock at night on a weekday. I just shut down from the mental toll: grading papers between rides, thinking of what I could be doing instead of driving — like creating a curriculum.”

In her book, author Alissa Quart lays out how America’s middle class is being wiped out by the cost of living far outpacing salaries while a slew of traditionally secure professions — like teaching — can no longer guarantee a stable enough income to clothe and feed a family.

“Middle-class life is now 30 percent more expensive than it was 20 years ago,” Quart writes, citing the costs of housing, education, health care and child care in particular. “In some cases the cost of daily life over the last 20 years has doubled.”

In one of her book’s many striking findings, Quart writes that according to a Pew study, “Before the 2008 crash, only one-quarter of Americans viewed themselves as lower class or lower-middle class. No longer. After the recession of 2008 . . . a full 40 percent of Americans viewed themselves as being at the bottom of the pyramid.”

One of the book’s main messages, therefore, is that people finding it impossible to make ends meet shouldn’t blame themselves. It’s the system, she says, that’s broken.

“The main problem is a basic lack of a 21st century safety net for families,” Quart tells The Post, offering the cost of day care as just one example.

“In Montreal,” where day care is government subsidized, it costs “$7 to $20 a day. That makes a huge difference for families.” Figured annually for 50 weeks a year, five days a week, people in Montreal pay $1,750 to $5,000 per year on child care.

For teachers with children, the problem is compounded by a decrease in salaries, benefits and general job security. The situation is equally dire for teachers of grade school, high school or college.By comparison, Quart says that here, “many of the families I spoke to, who were ostensibly middle class, were spending around 20 to 30 percent of their income on day care.” Annual averages in the US range from “$10,468 for a center-based child-care program to $28,905 for a nanny.” According to the Economic Policy Institute, the annual average cost of infant care in New York state is $14,144. The average New York family with just one child pays 21.2 percent of their income on child care. For two kids, that rises to 38.7 percent.

“These days, professors may be more likely than their students to be living in basement apartments and subsisting on ramen and Tabasco,” she writes.

At the professorial level, more colleges than ever, driven by bloated administrative bureaucracies, are relying on adjunct professors who receive low wages and no benefits. In the book, Quart cites one survey that found that 62 percent of adjunct professors earn less than $20,000 a year from teaching.

“A lot of things happened in [academia]. It became much more administrative,” says Quart, noting that tenured professor positions have been eliminated through attrition as more non-tenure track professors, such as adjuncts, were hired instead.

She writes that according to the Department of Education, “college and university administrative positions grew by 60 percent between 1993 and 2009 — 10 times the rate of growth of tenured faculty positions.”

By contrast, in 1975, Quart writes, “full-time tenure-stream professors were 45.1 percent of America’s professoriate. As of 2011, they are only 24.1 percent: Only one professor in six (16.7 percent) actually has tenure.”

“Something like 40 percent of teachers in American colleges and universities are adjuncts, which is insane,” Quart adds. “Middle-class parents are spending all their savings to pay for colleges where [their children are] going to be taught by people making $3,000 a class [per semester]. It’s going to change the quality of education, because people are teaching four classes a semester for no money.”

Quart profiled several struggling adjuncts in the book. Justin Thomas taught a total of four to six classes a semester at two colleges in Illinois. The first paid him $3,100 per class; the second, a paltry $1,675. Quart writes that “his paychecks arrived a month after each semester began, and during those four weeks it was macaroni and cheese and baked potatoes every night for his two daughters.”

Brianne Bolin, 35 years old with a disabled 8-year-old boy, taught four classes a year at Columbia College in Chicago for a grand total of $4,350 per class, per semester, never making more than $24,000 a year from teaching. At the time of the book’s writing, she shopped at Goodwill exclusively and relied on Medicaid and food stamps to feed her son.

Bolin began teaching at Westwood College in Chicago at age 26, switching to Columbia after one semester. She got pregnant at 28, then took two years off to care for her son.

When she returned to work, she got a rude awakening about how the realities of teaching had changed.

“Her boss warned her she’d never get a permanent job, [telling her], ‘Academia just isn’t a career choice anymore,’ ” Quart writes.

Those lucky enough to have a job in the field might find themselves needing to drive for Uber as well

Bolin quit teaching in 2016 and is now studying to become a speech pathologist. But the situation for professors has become so dire that before she left, she and two others founded PrecariCorps, a “nonprofit devoted to helping impoverished professors.”

So far, the “scrappy and fledgling” charity has “received over 100 donations and 50 requests for funding” and dispersed over $10,000 to professors in need.

If a charity for professors strikes you as sad, there is also a charity for members of another down and out profession, one that was once synonymous with high status and massive salaries — lawyers.

Leave Law Behind is an organization that helps lawyers exit the profession, declaring on its website that “there is an easier, less painful, less stressful and lucrative way to make money.” The organization’s founder, a former lawyer named Casey Berman, told Quart that “he saw his mission as ‘motivating’ former lawyers who are either broke or deeply frustrated, or both.”

In the book, Quart illustrates how lawyers are weighed down with massive debt while making a fraction of what they used to before the Great Recession — if they’re lucky enough to find a job at all.

“After the 2008 recession, law firms and corporations retained fewer lawyers,” she writes, noting that lawyers in some states have it worse than others.

“In Alaska, 56.7 percent of those with a law degree were not working as lawyers. In Tennessee, only 53.6 percent of degree holders were working as lawyers; in Missouri it’s 50.8, and in Maryland it’s 50.3 percent . . . there are excess attorneys in all but three states.” (For the record, those states are Rhode Island, North Dakota and Delaware.)

According to The New York Times, “10 months after graduation only 60 percent of the law school class of 2014 had found full-time jobs with longtime prospects.”

But those lucky enough to have a job in the field might find themselves needing to drive for Uber as well, since “lawyers may be making one-quarter of what they were making before 2008.”

The problem has been exacerbated by the automation of the review of legal documents, a task once accomplished by young lawyers. Programs like Viewpoint and Logikcull handle the organization, coding, retrieval and search of massive amounts of evidentiary documents, easily processing a slew of paperwork in ways that used to be done by people by hand. As a result, opportunities at the bottom of the profession have shrunk, taking pay levels down with them.

It’s the rare young lawyer who can get one of the few jobs remaining for this task, and they “are typically now earning just $17 to $20 an hour, while shouldering upward of $200,000 in student debt.”

As technology continues to advance, it will soon swallow the few entry-level jobs that are left, even as college debt continues to increase, Quart writes.

“The average law student’s debt was about $140,000 in 2012 — a 59 percent increase over 2004.”

While making ends meet is tougher than ever for teachers and lawyers, it’s even harder for those whose jobs have never been particularly secure.

Women in care professions, such as nannies, or even just professional women who become pregnant face similar standard-of-living obstacles, plus additional losses due to discrimination, Quart writes.

In the book, Quart notes that women’s salaries go down 7 percent for each child they bear and that cases of discrimination against women who become pregnant are on a massive upswing.

“In 2016,” she writes, “a report published by the Center for WorkLife Law found that so-called family-responsibilities discrimination cases had risen 269 percent over the last decade, even though the number of federal employee discrimination cases as a whole had decreased.”

This, Quart says, is due to a traditional lack of respect for caregivers.

“There’s a theory called Prisoner of Love, where people who do care work will accept lower wages supposedly because they love the people they’re being paid to care for. So they’re weakened by that, and they’re less part of a marketplace.”

As if these problems aren’t worrisome enough, Quart says technology is eliminating or degrading professions at a furious rate that will only increase, as “roughly 30 percent of the tasks within 60 percent of our current American occupations could soon be turned over to robots.”

The list of affected professions reads like a broad cross section of America, white-collar and blue-collar alike. Nurses, pharmacists, journalists, truckers, cashiers, tax preparers — very few professions will remain unaffected by advances in technology.

The problems have surprised many by reaching into the middle and upper-middle classes. The only people doing well in this economy, writes Quart, are the already wealthy, and our massive levels of income inequality are a significant factor.

“The United States is the richest and also the most unequal country in the world,” she writes. “It has the largest wealth inequality gap of the 200 countries in the [Credit Suisse Research Institute’s] Global Wealth Report of 2015. And when the top 1 percent has so much — so much more than even the top 5 or 10 percent — the middle class is financially and also mentally outclassed at each step.”

While the problems Quart lays out are sprawling and complex, she believes the only way out is to strengthen the social safety net. This includes considering solutions like universal basic income (UBI), which was first endorsed by President Richard Nixon in 1969 and is today supported by an unlikely mix of pundits on both sides of the political aisle.

“It’s like a monthly allowance for families and individuals that’s across the board, so it’s less of a handout for people specifically,” she says. “When I heard about it, I was thinking how much it would help, say, a mom I interviewed with two kids who had been laid off, or the professor who has a disabled kid and is on food stamps. If that person had $21,000 extra dollars a year through a basic income guarantee, would that have made all the difference?”

However we dig our way out — and especially if we don’t — Quart wants those who are struggling financially to realize that more and more people are in the same boat.

“There is a larger reason that your job is precarious and your parents’ jobs weren’t,” she writes. “It’s a system failure. It’s bigger than you.

Why the middle class can’t afford life in America anymore

 

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