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The Right to Listen | The New Yorker
“n 2016, during one of the first shoots for “What Is Democracy?,” I stood near Miami Beach, asking people to share their political opinions on camera. Three middle-aged men on vacation from New Jersey sat down on a park bench to chat. They sang the praises of a Republican candidate for President named Donald Trump, and offered their thoughts about immigration (bad), taxes (too high), and police violence against black people (not a problem). It was only a few minutes before one of them mentioned free speech. “Here, we have freedom to express,” he said, of the United States. “Like when Joe was just explaining about his racism, six large black men walked by. I thought there might be a problem. Not in this country! They heard it, it’s democracy. Joe can say whatever he wants.” What made America great, they suggested, was every individual’s right to say anything, without reserve and without inviting a response. This was a conception of democratic life that centered on self-expression, with listening left out. In its version of democracy, speech need only go one way.

The men on the bench were hardly unique in overlooking listening as an important component of democracy. As an activist on the left, I long assumed that my role consisted entirely of raising awareness, sounding alarms, and deploying arguments; it took me years to realize that I needed to help build and defend spaces in which listening could happen, too. As citizens, we understand that the right to speak has to be facilitated, bolstered by institutions and protected by laws. But we’ve been slow to see that, if democracy is to function well, listening must also be supported and defended—especially at a moment when technological developments are making meaningful listening harder.

By definition, democracy implies collectivity; it depends on an inclusive and vibrant public sphere in which we can all listen to one another. We ignore that listening at our peril. Watching “What Is Democracy?” today, I find that the answer lies not just in the voices of the people I interviewed. It’s also in the shots of people listening, receptively, as others speak.”
astrataylor  2020  listening  democracy  freedomofspeech  organizing  activism  power  speech  whatisdemocracy?  filmmaking  documentary  voices  gender  marginalization  politics  collectivism  collectivity  inclusivity  technology  facebook  forums  speaking  institutions  law  legal  constitution  us  facilitation  awareness 
14 days ago by robertogreco
The Anonymous Companies That Buy Up Homes | KQED News
“Even if you can afford to buy a home in the Bay Area, you might get outbid by an anonymous shell company paying cash. Over the years, more American homes have been bought up by these companies, with fewer and fewer homes being owned by individuals and families.

And on top of that, we don’t even know who owns all of these properties. But the U.S. Treasury Department does - and the folks at Reveal are suing for that information.

Guest: Aaron Glantz, senior reporter at Reveal and author of the book “Homewreckers.” Check out more on Reveal’s ongoing lawsuit here.

We’re doing meetups in all nine Bay Area counties this year! Our first one is in Vallejo. Come hang out with us at Mare Island Brewing tap room near the ferry building on Friday, Feb. 7 between 5-7 p.m.

Interview Highlights

KQED’s Devin Katayama: First off, tell me why we’re standing in front of this house on Delano Avenue [in San Francisco's Balboa Park neighborhood].

Aaron Glantz: We’re standing in front of this house at 66 Delano Avenue because it’s one of many, many homes all across the country that have been bought up by shell companies where we don’t really know who the owner is.

If you look around and you wonder, why can’t I buy this house? Why can’t I buy any house? A lot of the time it’s because it’s been bought by a shell company.

A distant landlord owning a building like this instead of somebody who lives in it means that the building can sit empty, boarded up with a fence around it and get no attention for a long time, because Mr. LLC doesn’t walk up and down this block and see this burnt out building every day.

Is this pretty common? For houses owned by shell companies to just be sitting empty?

Well, I mean, this is one of the things that we don’t have a good understanding of. There are a lot of theories about who is buying up our real estate. Are we talking about Silicon Valley techies? Are we talking about international money from China and Russia? You know, are we talking about Airbnb? Are we talking about people just parking their money? We don’t really know. There’s a lot of unanswered questions. And that’s why Reveal has gone to court, suing the Treasury Department to get answers to some of those questions.

What’s the benefit of creating a shell company to own all these homes?

Well, the statute creating shell companies was created many years ago, and was actually created to help an oil company in the Rockies that had oil rigs in Central America. And it wanted to limit its liability in the case that something happened on those oil facilities in Panama.

So, LLC stands for limited liability company. They wanted to distance their liability for whatever happened in Panama to the company back in the Rockies. Over the years, however, this has been used by real estate moguls to amass property and hide the true source of their money from the public.

You have speculators like Wedgewood, right? You have bigger real estate investment trusts like the ones I spotlight in “Homewreckers,” run by Tom Barrack and Steve Schwarzman and these big private equity funds. You have international investors parking their money. You have mom and pop landlords that would just prefer to operate behind a limited liability corporation.

What we don’t know is the proportion of all of these against each other, and who the most significant actors are. This basic transparency exists in countries all over the world. In Russia, in Ukraine, in Argentina, in Israel, you can go online and see who the money is behind anything, any beneficial owner of real estate. In America, we can’t.

How can we make smart policy about issues of homeownership and wealth in America, about housing and homelessness in America, if we don’t even know who’s buying up the buildings?

The Treasury Department has been asking for information about these beneficial owners. Then, when we - Reveal - asked for that same information from the Treasury Department using the Freedom of Information Act, they said no, they won’t give it to us. So that’s why we sued them.

And what we’re saying to the Treasury Department is look, if you want to redact individuals, Social Security Numbers or other legitimately private information - absolutely. But you cannot hide everything from the public.

You have to share the answer to this very basic question: Who’s the money behind this house that we’re standing in front of? And all of the other homes, millions of them around the country that are being bought up by shell companies?”
housing  2020  finance  homes  economics  anonymity  moms4housing  commoditization  aaronglantz  vallejo  sanfrancisco  legal  law  airbnb  wedgewood  tombarrack  steveschwarzman  russia  ukraine  argentina  israel  us  fincen 
4 weeks ago by robertogreco
Unmasking the secret landlords buying up America | Reveal
“America’s cities are being bought up, bit by bit, by anonymous shell companies using piles of cash. Modest single-family homes, owned for generations by families, now are held by corporate vehicles with names that appear to be little more than jumbles of letters and punctuation”

“All-cash transactions have come to account for a quarter of all residential real estate purchases, “totaling hundreds of billions of dollars nationwide,” the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network–the financial crimes unit of the federal Treasury Department, also known as FinCEN”

“The Census Bureau reports that nearly 3 million U.S. homes and 13 million apartment units are owned by LLC, LLP, LP or shell companies – levels of anonymous ownership not seen in American history.”

“The proportion of residential rental properties owned by individuals and families has fallen from 92% in 1991 to 74% in 2015.

The lack of transparency not only represents an opportunity for money laundering, but it also has more prosaic implications.”

“With anonymity comes impunity, and, for vulnerable tenants, skyrocketing numbers of evictions. It wasn’t until reporters… began to investigate… that residents living in hundreds of properties across the South learned that they shared a secret landlord… Sean Hannity.”

“Historically, in the US, the true owners of residential real estate properties have been publicly available through county recorders offices. However, for more than a decade, the proliferation of all-cash buys by shell companies has begun to obliterate that transparency.”

“Countries around the world have addressed this problem head on. … In the US, we’re on no such path to disclosure. A bipartisan anti-money-laundering bill, which passed the House in October, would require banks to systematically disclose the true owners of shell companies to FinCEN but would keep the public in the dark, stripping out all “personally identifiable information,” including anything “that would allow for the identification of a particular corporation or limited liability company.””
economics  finance  housing  2019  anonymity  ownership  homeownership  homes  impunity  legal  law  seanhannity  fincen  evictions  moneylaundering  property  argentina  australia  israel  jamaica  netherlands  russia  ukraine  aaronglantz 
4 weeks ago by robertogreco
SB50 Could Make California Livable Again - The Atlantic
“You’ve probably never heard of the most economically transformative legislation of the Trump era. Granted, it has not yet passed and it might not pass. If it does, it would affect a large portion of Americans, but hardly all of them, unlike the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. And its potential effects are hotly contested by policy advocates, politicians, and economists.

Still, California Senate Bill 50, winding its way through the state legislature again this month, could generate tens of thousands of new jobs and billions of dollars of new investment, reshaping the geography of the biggest state and solving a large chunk of the cost-of-living crisis the Trump administration has assiduously avoided addressing by, essentially, forcing California communities to allow more construction.

It, or some version of it, desperately needs to pass. California has a hyperacute version of a problem affecting a number of states and, especially, metro regions within those states. Based on the housing-unit-to-population ratio in similarly wealthy and urban states, such as New York and New Jersey, California is short 2 million to 3.5 million housing units. (California has 358 homes per 1,000 people, whereas New York and New Jersey each have more than 400.) Right now, the state ranks 49th in units per capita, behind only Utah.

This deficiency has driven a cost-of-living crisis, leading to long commutes, desolate retail corridors, plunging net worths, bankruptcies, and shortages of child care, elder care, and other services. The average home in California sells for more than $600,000—far out of reach for many families. In San Francisco, the average sales price is $1.6 million. Spiking rents and hefty mortgage payments have worsened the state’s inequality, dimmed the economic prospects of millions and millions of families, and fueled the growth of the state’s homeless or housing-insecure population. There are 130,000 people experiencing homelessness on any given day in California, despite the state’s strong economic growth.

Any number of trends have collided to foster the housing shortage: surging income and wealth inequality, in-migration, growing construction costs. But in policy terms, there is one central culprit: zoning regulations, including local oversight rules. Neighborhoods have the ability to kibosh too many projects, and zoning rules favor sprawl over infill housing.

S.B. 50 would override local restrictions on building, letting developers create more housing and denser housing near train stations and high-frequency bus stops. Homeowners would be able to build accessory dwelling units or casitas; companies would be able to build small apartment complexes. The bill stalled in the California legislature last year. But earlier this month State Senator Scott Wiener announced changes that would give localities more flexibility in implementing the law, provided that they allow as much construction as S.B. 50 itself would allow, and would ensure that low-income residents get access to the new housing.

The bill is a technical one, steeped in arcana on parking requirements, height limits, and bus frequencies. But it would be a transformative one, both its detractors and its supporters agree. It would effectively disallow single-family zoning in many neighborhoods. It would force wealthy suburbs to permit the construction of apartment buildings and duplexes. And it would reorient the state’s growth away from sprawl toward infill. Housing would get more plentiful, and thus cheaper.

Its detractors sit in two camps. Tenants-rights groups and low-income-housing advocates argue that S.B. 50 would not do enough to create housing for the poor, and might supercharge displacement in neighborhoods where even high-income residents are seeing themselves priced out. “Incentivizing more luxury development and inflating property values in San Francisco will further exacerbate real estate speculation, which has already played a key role in displacing low and moderate-income tenants, immigrants, seniors and families across California,” argues the Housing Rights Committee of San Francisco, which advocates for tenants.

Then there are the NIMBYs, who argue that S.B. 50 will destroy neighborhoods’ homegrown character, hurt home values, and harm the environment: Goodbye to green, single-family neighborhoods, and hello to traffic-gnarled, high-rise apartments. Livable California, for example, is warning that the legislation will turn “thousands of streets into free-for-alls where cities have NO planning powers.”

But S.B. 50 would not suddenly convert single-family neighborhoods into high-rise condo villages; it would merely stop some rich neighborhoods from disallowing multifamily housing. More to the point, it would stop neighborhoods from casting themselves in amber, preventing new building and forcing younger, poorer families to urban peripheries. As for the concerns about low-income housing and gentrification—they are fair. But California cannot fix its housing crisis without much, much, much more building, and fast.

If the bill passes, California would become denser, cheaper, greener, and more affordable—a state less centered on car culture, and more centered on walkable neighborhoods; less responsive to the aesthetic complaints of longtime property owners, more responsive to the needs of young families. The central economic crisis of the Trump years—high inequality, a shrinking middle class, and an excruciatingly high cost of living—would become less daunting. And California would be a lesson to other states whose residents are facing jumping rents and long commutes.”
housing  california  2020  sb50  annielowrey  law  density  scottweiner  sanfrancisco  losangeles  zoning  nimbyism  yimbyism  development  cities  urban  urbanism  publictransit  inequality  wealth  economics 
4 weeks ago by robertogreco
How Slavery Shaped American Capitalism
"The problem is that the causal channels identified by Desmond don’t really explain the low road on which American capitalism undoubtedly runs. What do the monetary flows between the antebellum North and South, or the technologies developed on slave plantations, have to do with America’s low levels of social protection today? In the end Desmond’s argument comes down to the diffusion and persistence of what he calls (quoting Joshua Rothman) a “culture of speculation unique in its abandon.”

Leaving aside the question of how unique that culture actually was (the 1929 and 2007 financial crises that Desmond attributes to it were after all global crises), it remains a mystery how this culture persisted so long after the abolition of the institution which supposedly gave rise to it. Desmond’s language reflects the murky, even ghostly, character of that persistence: he points to “eerie” analogies between past and present; slavery is described in religious terms as a “national sin” that is “visited upon” later generations; and of course we get that most modern, and most American, of all metaphors for mysterious lineage: “slavery is necessarily imprinted on the DNA of American capitalism.”

But in truth there need be no mystery. For there are straightforward ways that slavery clearly influenced the development of American capitalism — ways that don’t require us to pad the numbers or believe in ghosts. The first and most obvious one is the legacy of anti-black racism that is powerfully described in other contributors to the 1619 Project. That legacy undoubtedly divided the American labor movement, weakened progressive political alliances, and undermined the provision of public goods (see for instance the excellent pieces by Kevin Kruse and Jeneen Interlandi in the same issue of the New York Times Magazine).

There is also a lesser-known but equally clear and durable influence of slavery evidenced in the work of legal and institutional historians that Desmond neglects, such as David Waldstreicher and Robin Einhorn. These historians point out that a major effect of slavery on US economic development came through its foundational influence on America’s legal and political institutions.

One of the central problems faced by delegates to the Constitutional Convention in 1787 was how to create a common legal and political framework that would unite the slave states of the South with Northern states that were then in the process of abolishing slavery. The slave states were concerned that a strong federal government dominated by Northerners might tax their slaves or even abolish slavery.

The solution the delegates found was two-fold. On the one hand they ensured that the South was disproportionately represented at the federal level through the three-fifths clause. On the other hand, they reserved the bulk of fiscal and economic policymaking to the states themselves. Thus the constitution effectively restricted federal taxing and regulatory power to international and interstate commerce.

But even here slavery shaped the way that power would be used. Slave states were concerned about federal power to tax slave imports and slave-produced exports, but they also wanted the federal government to enforce their property claims when it came to fugitive slaves who might flee to the free states. The result was a restriction on the federal government’s taxing power (banning export taxes and limiting taxes on slave imports) and a strengthening of its power (vis a vis the states) to enforce property claims in the “fugitive slave clause.”

This division of federal and state power over slave property is not just manifest in now-dormant articles of the constitution dealing with slavery. It imbues all parts of the constitution and arguably lent to the American state system its distinctive form, which combines strong property protections with weak regulatory and fiscal powers (the introduction of a federal income tax in 1913 required a constitutional amendment).

Apologists for this system call it “competitive federalism.” The fugitive slave act and the commerce clause restricted the domestic power of the federal government — the most powerful entity in the state system — to protecting large merchants and enforcing property claims across state lines, i.e., ensuring the mobility of capital. Its powers to tax, spend, and interfere with the interests of the wealthy (e.g., through regulating banks or providing debt relief) were explicitly curtailed. Even the legal scholar Richard Epstein, a libertarian champion of competitive federalism, acknowledges that “it’s quite clear that the cause of limited government was advanced by the institution of slavery.”

In principle the states were left to regulate and tax as they liked, but their practical ability to do so was constrained by federally mandated capital mobility. This created a fiscal and regulatory race to the bottom, as the wealthy could force relatively weak state legislatures to compete for their investments — just as city and state governments prostrate themselves before Amazon and Boeing today. The infamous Dred Scott case was itself a matter of the federal judiciary protecting capital mobility (in that case the right of slave-owners to move through the territories with their slaves) and Robin Einhorn points out that the same principle was at work in later judicial interpretations of the Fourteenth Amendment that allowed federal courts to strike down state-level labor regulations.

Einhorn’s point is not that the framers were all proslavery (they were not) nor that they intended to produce a capitalist paradise of unfettered accumulation. Her point is that in making certain concessions to the slave-owners the framers unintentionally generated those conditions. Slave-owners were particularly afraid of allowing democratic control over property because they were literally afraid of their property. They were haunted by the threat of slave insurrections, as well as foreign armies turning their slaves into enemy soldiers through offers of freedom (as the British had recently done). Einhorn concludes that “if property rights have enjoyed unusual sanctity in the United States, it may be because this nation was founded in a political situation in which the owners of one very significant form of property thought their holdings were insecure.”

The resulting balance of strong property protections and weak regulatory and taxing power may or may not have been conducive to economic growth (that’s for economic historians to figure out). But there is no doubt that it helped shift American capitalism onto the low road. In addition to the profound effect of slavery on America’s enduring racial inequality, slavery’s legacy for American capitalism may thus be found more in the structural constraints on US politics than in its direct contributions to the nineteenth-century American economy."
capitalism  history  slavery  us  2019  1619project  johnclegg  nytimes  matthewdesmond  civilwar  constitution  law  economics  race  racism  labor  work  unions  organizing  division  kevinkruse  jeneeninterlandi  davidwaldstricher  robineinhorn  politics  policy  commerce  taxes  taxation  fugitiveslaveact  capitalmobility  fourteenthamendment  abolition  propertyrights  property 
7 weeks ago by robertogreco
Alexandra Erin The Meadow We Can Build A Snowman on Twitter: "So, here's a thing about the shoot out where the cops killed a hostage and used civilians as shields: The whole ACTUAL POINT of "law and order" policing, "broken window theory", etc., is the id
“So, here’s a thing about the shoot out where the cops killed a hostage and used civilians as shields:

The whole ACTUAL POINT of “law and order” policing, “broken window theory”, etc., is the idea that when people get away with stuff, they go on to do worse stuff.

See: cops.

Again and again, we let our nation’s poilce get away with carelessness, with cruelty, with negligence, with shooting first so they won’t have to answer questions later, with turning city streets into war zones.

And quite often we as a society are willing to turn away because “they’re criminals” or because it’s happening to those of us with the least power and so those with any social influence feel safe.

But in doing so, we teach the police that they can get away with using their guns to solve any problem, that the gun is the safe and simple solution.

Did the cops run a credit check on the people in the cars they ducked behind? They literally could have been anybody.

“So long as one person is oppressed, no one is free.” sounds like high-minded woo-woo nonsense to the supremely self-interested, but it’s really not. It’s a simple utilitarian axiom and yes, it’s in our interest to believe it.

What violence the state practices on the people we despise and discount will be used against us, as the state becomes accustomed to exercising that power.

We should are about the militarization of far distnt neighborhoods where we don’t personally know anybody who lives there *because the people who live there are people* but if we can’t muster that we should care because it won’t stay there.

See also: the draconian policies allowed and required and justified under FOSTA/SESTA and other anti-sex work laws, which are already causing widespread harm to sex workers and also rippling out further and further.

Cops and their defenders argue about what’s a “good shoot” and a “good kill”… as soon as we reached that point, the question isn’t “Is it necessary to use guns here?” but “Which is safer and easier: solving this without guns, or winning the argument after we use guns?”

Police are learning, every day and often in new and frightening ways, that the safer course is to shoot. Shoot early, shoot often. Shoot to kill so there’s no one left alive to tell a different story.

Gunfire is becoming the conservative response. The path of least resistance.

The whole social justification for active policing is that people will behave badly if there’s not sufficient threat of consequences for their bad actions.

But our police are largely exempt from that.

So either the justification we give them for their use of force is wrong (in which case we need to rethink the whole system) or our police are axiomatically bad and getting worse all the time (in which case we need to rethink the whole system).

This is not inevitable! Nothing about this is natural and automatic! We create the systems that create these outcomes. “If our boys in blue have to think about what they’re doing, they can’t do their jobs!” But what is that job? Turning a crowded intersection into a warzone?

Is shooting a child playing in a park dead on the spot the job? Is shooting a father browsing the shelves at Wal-Mart dead on the spot a job? Breaking down the door of a grandfather who misdialed 911 and shooting him dead, is that the job?

Things aren’t going to get worse before they get better; they’re going to get worse and worse unless and until we have a true cultural upheaval, until we utterly uproot the thinking that underpins policing, until we destroy the “thin blue line” mentality.“
2019  police  lawenforcement  safety  law  lawandorder  cruelty  prisonabolition  negligence  violence  power  militarization  justification  guns  resistance  alexandraerin 
9 weeks ago by robertogreco
reading - amélie.
“Recommended Reading

In the last week of October 2019, there were some discussion on Design Twitter about ethics and whether or not people should work for “x evil company” of the day.

I have a lot of complicated thoughts that I won’t share here. But I have realized is that most designers talking about ethics are doing so from a place of feelings or research that doesn’t understand the roots of white supremacy or many of the other societal ills we have to inherently deal with by virtue of legacy and short-term memories.

Just a heads up…

These are not “design” books. Too many of us get stuck in this rabbit hole where we believe that design is “everything.” But design isn’t everything, it simply touches everything. Life is complex and confusing. There’s very little in this world that can be “everything” or touch everything around it, without consequence.

What do they cover?

The following books emphasize, analyze, and critique history, law, race, culture, feminism, civil rights, psychology, white supremacy, sociology + more because I firmly believe we need a baseline understanding to effectively engage in dialogue around design ethics. Many of us are lacking the baseline because many design schools (at least in the US) teach us that design is separate from everything is.

These books will provide a clear understanding of how we got here and where we’re going.

Why am I doing this?

All designers should have the ability to engage difficult conversations with nuance and questions. I hope that by sharing these books, you’ll apply what you learn to critically think about what is happening around you and your impact, while also understanding how to cultivate empathy.

You can have space for that and more, despite what society tells you. (“You’re designer, just focus on design.” 🙄)

Understanding and changing our impact does not come from diving straight into “burn everything down, ANARCHY!!!” I, too, would like to burn everything down. But not only does that hurt people at the top, it also hurts people at the bottom.

So how do we start putting into action the feelings we have towards the positive change we want to see? We start by looking at the people who have done the work before us. By collaborating with and listening to the communities we want to we intend to “help”.

I’ll keep adding to the list as I think of more books to add, too.

And, if you’re grateful for this list, you’re more than welcome to send me a cup of tea via Ko-fi.

The list

This list is, by no means, exhaustive or definitive. Take what you need/can, leave the rest. All books on this list link directly to the publisher or indie book sellers, rather than Amazon where available.

Books that can only be found on Amazon are affiliate links, denoted by the following: 🥴. Academic papers are denoted by the following: 📄.

Finally, make sure you’re using the Library Extension, which can check your local library for books. Support libraries! ✊🏾

- Black Feminist Cultural Criticism by Jacqueline Bob
- Black and Blur by Fred Moten
- But Some of Us are Brave edited by Gloria T. Hull, Patricia Bell Scott, and Barbara Smith
- Caribbean Discourse: Selected Essays by Édouard Glissant
- 📄 “Decolonization is not a metaphor” by Eve Tuck and K. Wayne Yang
- Emergent Strategy by adrienne marie brown
- In the Wake: On Blackness and Being by Christina Sharpe
- Poetics of Relation by Édouard Glissant
- 🥴 Power, Privilege and Law: A Civil Rights Reader by Leslie Bender and Daan Braveman
- Race After Technology by Ruha Benjamin
- Sylvia Winter: On Being Human as Praxis edited by Katherine McKittrick
- Women, Race and Class by Angela Y. Davis”
amélielamont  books  design  inclusion  inclusivity  race  gender  technology  2019  angeladavis  ruhabenjamin  lesliebender  daanbraveman  power  privilege  racism  sexism  law  christinasharpe  adriennemariebrown  decolonization  evetuck  kwayneyang  barbarasmith  patriciabellscott  gloriahull  fredmoten  jacquelinebob  feminism  lists  readinglists  édouardglissant  class  women  katherinemckittrick  sylviawinter 
november 2019 by robertogreco
Clarence Thomas’s Radical Vision of Race | The New Yorker
"In making sincerity the litmus test of American racism, Thomas took a strand of the black nationalism that influenced his early development and wove it into an entire philosophy of race. In the nineteen-twenties, at an especially acute moment of racist reaction in the United States, Marcus Garvey also found comfort in the promise of candor. “They are better friends to my race for telling us what they are, and what they mean, than all the hypocrites put together,” Garvey said, of the Ku Klux Klan. “I like honesty and fair play.”

For Thomas, dishonesty was not only about race; it was also about class. However well intentioned white liberals were about remedying racial inequality, their élitism was steadfast. At Yale, some of Thomas’s classmates would query the absence of class rankings and grades. “You do not separate cream from cream,” a professor responded. “It is your fate as a Yale Law School student to become one of the leaders in the legal profession. It will happen, not because of you personally, but because you are here. That is what happens to Yale Law School students.” But Yale’s black students were separated from the cream; indeed, the absence of rankings was used to effect that separation. As he approached graduation, Thomas tried to secure a position at an élite law firm in Atlanta, which had no black associates. One of the marks against him was that he had no grades. Even if he came from Yale, how could his prospective employers know how good he was?

Thomas came to believe that, for the white liberal, offering help to black people was a way to express the combined privileges of race and class. This is a running theme of Wright’s “Native Son,” in which Bigger Thomas, a poor black man from the slums of Chicago, is given an opportunity to rise when a wealthy white family hires him as a chauffeur. The idea that black people can advance only with the help of whites is anathema to Clarence Thomas, who has identified with Wright’s protagonist throughout his life. For him, white benevolence denies black people the pride of achievement. By contrast, if one is black and overcomes the barriers of Jim Crow, one can be assured that the accomplishment is real. Thomas often invokes the example of his grandparents, who, despite segregation, managed to acquire property and support their family. Though they “had to work twice as hard to get half as far,” they knew, however far they got, that the distance was theirs. When black people succeed in the shadow of white benefactors, that certainty is lost.

This is the loss that Thomas has suffered since his youth: not of the color line but of its clarity. It’s a loss that he associates with liberalism, the North, and, above all, integration. “I never worshiped at the altar” of integration, he declared, five years after joining the Court. As he told Juan Williams, who wrote a profile of Thomas in The Atlantic, “The whole push to assimilate simply does not make sense to me.” It is a loss that Thomas has set out—from his early years as a young black nationalist on the left to his tenure as a conservative on the Court—to reverse.

Thomas’s rightward drift, which began in the seventies, was inflected by the very ethos that once put him on the left: namely, disaffection with black liberalism and the mainstream civil-rights movement. In his memoir, Thomas notes that part of the appeal of black nationalism was tied to his sense, in the wake of the assassinations of Martin Luther King, Jr., and Robert F. Kennedy, that “no one was going to take care of me or any other black person in America.” Eventually, this notion extended to the left. “I marched. I protested. I asked the government to help black people,” Thomas told the Washington Post, in 1980. “I did all those things. But it hasn’t worked.” The whole repertoire of black politics—from mainstream activism to Black Power radicalism and beyond—now seemed pointless. By the eighties, Thomas, a member of the Reagan Administration, believed that state action could do nothing for African-Americans. Problems of racial inequality “cannot be solved by the law—even civil-rights laws,” he told an audience at Clark College, a historically black school in Atlanta, in the nineteen-eighties.

And yet it was on the bench that Thomas began to pursue his own particular vision of racial justice. In his first decade on the Court, Thomas often met with high-achieving black students from Washington’s poorer neighborhoods. One meeting—with a high-school student named Cedric Jennings—was immortalized in a 1998 Esquire piece. After several hours of warm conversation, Thomas asked Jennings what his plans were for college. “I’m off to Brown,” Jennings replied. Thomas frowned. Finally, he said, “Well, that’s fine, but I’m not sure I would have selected an Ivy League school. You’re going to be up there with lots of very smart white kids, and if you’re not sure about who you are, you could get eaten alive. . . . It can happen at any of the good colleges where a young black man who hasn’t spent much time with whites suddenly finds himself among almost all whites.”

This concern runs throughout Thomas’s jurisprudence. “Some people think that the solution to all the problems of black people is integration,” he said, in 1997. By his own admission, he is not one of them. In a lengthy 1982 research article (published with an acknowledgment to “the invaluable assistance of Anita F. Hill”), Thomas notes pointedly that “it must be decided . . . whether integration per se should be a primary goal.” At Thomas’s confirmation hearings, the Republican senator Arlen Specter pressed him on that claim, asking, “If you end segregation, doesn’t it necessarily mean that you are requiring school integration?”

At the time, Thomas dodged the question, but he has since given his answer on the Court. In the 1995 case Missouri v. Jenkins, the Court’s conservative majority held that federal courts could not force Missouri to adopt policies designed to entice suburban white students to predominantly black urban schools. Thomas joined the majority. In the Court’s private deliberations about the case, he argued, in the paraphrase of a profile of Thomas in The New Yorker, “I am the only one at this table who attended a segregated school. And the problem with segregation was not that we didn’t have white people in our class. The problem was that we didn’t have equal facilities. We didn’t have heating, we didn’t have books, and we had rickety chairs. . . . All my classmates and I wanted was the choice to attend a mostly black or a mostly white school, and to have the same resources in whatever school we chose.”

This private sentiment made its way into Thomas’s public statement about the case. His concurrence in Missouri v. Jenkins was “the only opinion,” legal scholar Mark Graber argues, “that questioned whether desegregation was a constitutional value.” If anything, Thomas believes that the state should—where it can, within the law—support the separation of the races. Looking back on his education, in an all-black environment, Thomas has admitted to wanting to “turn back the clock” to a time “when we had our own schools.” Much of his jurisprudence is devoted to undoing the “grand experiment” of which he believes himself to be a victim. As he made clear in 1986, “I have been the guinea pig for many social experiments on social minorities. To all who would continue these experiments, I say please ‘no more.’ ”

Perhaps the most insidious of those experiments, for Thomas, is affirmative action, which he has long opposed. His critics call him a hypocrite. “He had all the advantages of affirmative action and went against it,” Rosa Parks said of Thomas, in 1996. His defenders believe that Thomas is advancing a common conservative line—that affirmative action is a form of reverse racism, which imposes illegitimate burdens on whites. In fact, Thomas’s arguments are considerably more unorthodox than that. According to Thomas, affirmative action is the most recent attempt by white people to brand and belittle black people as inferior. Affirmative action does not formally mirror the tools of white supremacy; for Thomas, it is the literal continuation of white supremacy.

His argument is rooted in two beliefs, each informed by his time spent on the left. The first is that affirmative action reinforces the stigma that shadows African-Americans. Among many whites, blackness signals a deficit of intellect, talent, and skill. Even Supreme Court Justices, Thomas wrote in one opinion, “assume that anything that is predominantly black must be inferior.” When the state and social institutions identify African-Americans as beings in need of help, they reinforce that stigma. It doesn’t matter if some African-Americans succeed without affirmative action. In the same way that enslavement marked all black people, free or slave, as inferior, affirmative action—here Thomas borrows directly from the language of Plessy v. Ferguson—stamps all African-Americans with “a badge of inferiority.”

The second way affirmative action continues white supremacy is by elevating whites to the status of benefactors, doling out scarce privileges to those black people they deem worthy. The most remarkable element of Thomas’s affirmative-action jurisprudence, and what makes it unlike that of any other Justice on the Supreme Court, is how much attention he devotes to whites, not as victims but as perpetrators, the lead actors in a racial drama of their own imagination. Put simply, Thomas believes that affirmative action is a white program for white people.

We see this argument in Grutter v. Bollinger, a 2003 affirmative-action case concerning the University of Michigan Law School. In the early nineteen-nineties, the school adopted an affirmative-action policy in order to create a more diverse student body. Barbara Grutter, a white … [more]
clarencethomas  affirmitiveaction  elitism  admissions  colleges  universities  politics  polarization  law  conservatism  blacknationalism  race  racism  segregation  integration  inequality  prejudice  discrimination  rankings  grades  grading  richardwright  whitesaviorism  assimilation  supremecourt  liberalism  civilrights  coreyrobin  blackpanthers  blackpantherparty  meritocracy  hbus  solidarity  self-help  angeladavis  kathleencleaver  erickahuggins  bobbyseale  us  policy  activism  radicalism  cedricjennings  schools  busing  charleshamilton  blackpower  stokelycarmichael 
september 2019 by robertogreco
The Prospect of an Elizabeth Warren Nomination Should Be Very Worrying | Current Affairs
"“Means-testing” is a critical part of the difference between the two, because in it we see the serious differences between what Sanders and Warren each think the world ought to be like. Sanders believes in a “de-commodified” provision of public goods, where they’re free and you get to use them because you’re a person. Warren believes much more strongly in giving them only to people who satisfy a set of eligibility criteria. Now, defenders of means-testing will argue that it is “progressive”—this is why they say things like “you don’t want to give free college to Donald Trump’s kids.” But you should give free college to them, for the same reason that we give Donald Trump’s kids the same access to free public high schools and free roads and free fire services and free libraries and free parks. They are people, so they get given the basics the same as anyone else. Means-testing introduces a dark new quality to public benefits: You have to qualify, meaning that there will be paperwork, and there will be scrutiny of your finances, and you can’t just have the thing, you have to go through a bureaucratic process. We on the left are fighting for a world in which people do not have to prove that they are poor enough to get to go to the public high school or the public college. They just get to go.

These are going to seem like small things, but they are not. “I dream of a world where student debts are forgiven” and “I dream of a world with substantial debt cancellation dependent on income threshold with a multi-tiered phase-out system” are quite different political rallying cries. One of them is inspiring. One of them sounds like it will involve a nightmarish pile of paperwork. On Warren’s website, I see promises about things like: “Elizabeth’s plan to use market forces to speed the transition to clean energy—without spending a dime of taxpayer money.” My alarm bells go off here. Taxpayer money needs to be spent. Market forces are killing the planet. This is a classic example of using right-wing premises to make a left-wing case, and I do not want another president in love with the market. (Warren is absolutely in love with the market, and says she left the Republican party because it wasn’t committed enough to markets. Not because of, you know, all the racism.) Likewise, when Warren talks about “corruption” as the root of Washington’s problems, I see a huge red flag: Free market libertarians like talking about corruption, because “corruption” means “the wealthy powerful people have too much influence in the government.” Leftists think the problem is not just that the wealthy powerful people have too much influence, but that disproportionate wealth and power exists in the first place. Talk of “corruption” says to rich people: I’ll curb your influence in Washington, but you don’t really need to worry about your fortune or your status.

But one of my biggest fears about Elizabeth Warren is this: I do not know whether she can actually win. I have always thought that Bernie Sanders would be the perfect opponent for Donald Trump, because he neutralizes much of Trump’s appeal. It is difficult for Trump to engage in his usual sleazy attacks against someone who is as relentlessly on-message as Bernie is, and who draws people’s attention over and over back to a series of very simple plans: Medicare for all, Free College, Green New Deal. (Note that while Elizabeth Warren’s plans are abundant, they are often very unfocused. Her website overflows with plans, but she seems reluctant to push the phrase Green New Deal, and it’s not clear which of her endless plans she finds most important.)

I fear running Warren against Trump, because I think Trump will relish running against her. For one thing, she does have a scandal: She spent a very long time fabricating an important detail of her identity, falsely claiming to be Native American. In doing so, she allowed Harvard to pretend it had more faculty of color than it actually did. She tried to defend herself by saying that she was, in fact, Native American, citing a DNA test. This was not just offensive to Native people, but it makes Warren seem untrustworthy: Does she still think she’s Native American? What did she think the DNA test proved? Does she think it was wrong to suggest that both she and her husband were Cherokees and to contribute recipes to a Native cookbook? This may seem trivial, but character matters, and this does not speak well of Warren’s truthfulness. Trump will exploit it endlessly. She will be asked about it again and again, and I have never heard her deal with it well.

I also think Elizabeth Warren’s “wonkish Harvard professor” persona will be easy for Trump to run against. Harvard is a bad brand. People hate it, not unjustly. It will be very easy to make Warren seem like a snob, and Warren’s professorial demeanor will not help. Trump’s whole shtick is anti-elitism, and while Elizabeth Warren may be a strong critic of Wall Street, a Harvard professor is a perfect target for Trump’s pseudo-populism. I do not have confidence that she will counter this effectively. I would be worried about Warren in a race against Trump, and my instinct is that Sanders, Kamala Harris, or Cory Booker would actually do better at appearing “relatable.” How well will Elizabeth Warren do in Michigan and Florida, rather than New York City? This is the question, and I’ve generally been very encouraged by the effectiveness with which Bernie makes his pitches to right-wing audiences at Liberty University and FOX News.

So much prediction at this point is just gut feeling, but there is something that I think we should all find very troubling about a Warren nomination. I have the same feeling I had when Tom Perez was running against Keith Ellison for DNC chair, and we on the left were told that there was “no difference” between the two, because both were Progressives. (Turned out there was indeed a difference.) It was difficult to prove them wrong, but it felt like they were wrong. Now, I’m being told that there is no difference between Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders. This, too, feels wrong, and I think we will see just how wrong it is if Elizabeth Warren actually wins the nomination and then the presidency. Bernie Sanders poses a threat. (The journalists are rallying behind Warren. The New York Times celebrated Warren meeting the million-donation threshold as a “milestone” but didn’t run a story when Sanders met the same threshold months earlier. Expect endless profiles of Warren as the great Unifier.)

Of course, it isn’t just gut feeling: I think there are things Elizabeth Warren has done that are incredibly troubling, such as her strange comment that Israel is under threat from “demographic realities, births.” (If this isn’t just racist code for “too many Arab babies” then I’m not sure what it means.) In These Times examined Warren’s record on military issues and concluded that “once Warren’s foreign policy record is scrutinized, her status as a progressive champion starts to wither” and even “judged according to the spectrum of today’s Democratic Party, which is skewed so far to the right on war and militarism it does not take much to distinguish oneself, Warren gets an unsatisfactory grade.” Since foreign policy is so much of what a president does, and historically where presidents have had an almost unimpeded power to shape policy, this means: In one of the main realms of presidential power, there is absolutely no reason why a leftist should support Elizabeth Warren.

“Why vote for Sanders when you can have Elizabeth Warren instead?” is the question a Guardian columnist asked in February. I think the left had better have a very good answer to that prepared, and that often times we can sound like we’re splitting hairs when we do dig our heels in for Sanders. But we must dig our heels in. Will Elizabeth Warren try to overthrow Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer and remake the Democratic Party entirely? I do not think she will. Will she fight until her very last breath for single-payer healthcare and a Green New Deal? I do not think she will. Will she travel the country as president helping organize labor unions? I do not think she will. Will she shun corporate money and tell the ruling class to go screw itself? Since half the ruling class have been in her law school classroom, and since she has already wavered on taking corporate money, I do not think she will. Will she learn the critical lesson from the Obama years: You don’t open a negotiation with your final offer, but with something ambitious? She has already showed us the answer, by declining to support national rent control. Does she have a lifelong track record of protest and activism? No. Can she be relied upon never to sell us out? I have no idea, but I don’t want to take the risk.

I love watching Elizabeth Warren grill people in the Senate. I love the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. She’s quite clearly one of the best people in the government, and I am impressed with many of her plans and much of what she’s accomplished already. But there are many signs that she will prove to be disappointing in the same way Barack Obama was, and will not build the kind of powerful left movement that we so urgently need if we are to begin to actually transform the political and economic system."
nathanrobinson  2019  elizabethwarren  berniesanders  elections  2020  progressive  organizing  barackobama  centrism  neoliberalism  trust  elitism  labor  matthewyglesias  politics  us  socialism  capitalism  compromise  dnc  congress  law  policy  petebuttigieg  kamalaharis  medicareforall  studentdebt 
september 2019 by robertogreco
Elizabeth Sawin on Twitter: "I’m so frustrated by the framing that says climate change efforts are either systemic change or individual action and that one is a distraction from the other. https://t.co/SeqllDewtI" / Twitter
“I’m so frustrated by the framing that says climate change efforts are either systemic change or individual action and that one is a distraction from the other.

[link to article: “You can’t save the climate by going vegan. Corporate polluters must be held accountable.” https://www.usatoday.com/story/opinion/2019/06/03/climate-change-requires-collective-action-more-than-single-acts-column/1275965001/ ]

Many individual actions to slow climate change are worth taking. But they distract from the systemic changes that are needed to avert this crisis.

I mean who would say “treating your female coworkers with respect is just virtue signaling; what we really need is equal pay legislation”. We can work, learn, change, and grow as individuals and work towards systemic change both at once.

Why does this keep coming up? Any insight?

Here’s what I had to say last time this was up.

[link to: “Individual carbon footprints or collective systemic change? Both! - Resilience” https://www.resilience.org/stories/2019-03-04/individual-carbon-footprints-or-collective-systemic-change-both/

“What is most important, to live with as small a carbon footprint as possible or to prioritize collective action to change laws, rules, and incentives? For me, this is not the right question to ask.”]

So apparently I’m not ready to let this go. I just got home. Tired/sad/mad from a day of writing about climate change. And here are my beans, almost fully cooked in our “wonderbag” this affordable insulated bag that keeps a pot hot for hours, just by holding the heat in. [two images]

Beans and boiling water went in at noon. Now almost fully cooked and no energy added. I feel a little less mad/sad because of this one small maybe insignificant thing. This is not a distraction. For me it is essential part of keeping going.

There you have it my final word (I promise) but jeez, I want to experience little tastes of the climate safe world we are going to make together, it’s not a distraction and it’s not virtuous, it’s just a little taste of something hopeful.”
elizabethsawin  2019  activism  climatechange  sustainability  individualism  collectivism  thisandthat  systems  actions  vegan  veganism  feminism  virtuesignaling  carbonfootprints  resilience  law  rules  incentives 
august 2019 by robertogreco
Car Crashes Aren't Always Unavoidable - The Atlantic
"The automobile took over because the legal system helped squeeze out the alternatives."

...

"Further entrenching automobile supremacy are laws that require landowners who build housing and office space to build housing for cars as well. In large part because of parking quotas, parking lots now cover more than a third of the land area of some U.S. cities; Houston is estimated to have 30 parking spaces for every resident. As the UCLA urban-planning professor Donald Shoup has written, this mismatch flows from legal mandates rather than market demand. Every employee who brings a car to the office essentially doubles the amount of space he takes up at work, and in urban areas his employer may be required by law to build him a $50,000 garage parking space.

For those who didn’t get the message from the sprawling landscape that zoning has created, the tax code sharpened it by lavishing rewards on those who drive and punishing those who don’t. On its own terms, the mortgage-interest tax deduction is neutral as to the type of home financed, but—given the twin constraints of zoning and mortgage lending—the deduction primarily subsidizes large houses in car-centric areas. Those who walk or bike to work receive no commuter tax benefit, while those who drive receive tax-deductible parking. Another provision of the tax code gives car buyers a tax rebate of up to $7,500 when their new vehicles are electric or hybrid; buyers of brand-new Audis, BMWs, and Jaguars can claim the full $7,500 from the American taxpayer. Environmentally, these vehicles offer an improvement over gas-powered cars (but not public or active transit). Even so, 85 to 90 percent of toxic vehicle emissions in traffic come from tire wear and other non-tailpipe sources, which electric and hybrid cars still produce. They also still contribute to traffic, and can still kill or maim the people they hit. Why are we taxing bus riders to pay rich people to buy McMansions and luxury electric SUVs?"

...

"
Tort law is supposed to allow victims to recover for harms caused by others. Yet the standard of liability that applies to car crashes—ordinary negligence—establishes low expectations of how safe a driver must be. Courts have held that a higher standard—strict liability, which forces more careful risk taking—does not apply to driving. Strict liability is reserved for activities that are both “ultrahazardous” and “uncommon”; driving, while ultrahazardous, is among the most common activities in American life. In other words, the very fact that car crashes cause so much social damage makes it hard for those who are injured or killed by reckless drivers to receive justice.

In a similar spirit, criminal law has carved out a lesser category uniquely for vehicular manslaughter. Deep down, all of us who drive are afraid of accidentally killing someone and going to jail; this lesser charge was originally envisioned to persuade juries to convict reckless drivers. Yet this accommodation reflects a pattern. Even when a motorist kills someone and is found to have been violating the law while doing so (for example, by running a red light), criminal charges are rarely brought and judges go light. So often do police officers in New York fail to enforce road-safety rules—and illegally park their own vehicles on sidewalks and bike facilities—that specific Twitter accounts are dedicated to each type of misbehavior. Given New York’s lax enforcement record, the Freakonomics podcast described running over pedestrians there as “the perfect crime.”"

...

"All of these laws can be reversed directly by the legislative bodies responsible for passing them in the first place. However, a growing body of academic research suggests that, even when most people favor less restrictive zoning, local officials will side with wealthy homeowners who favor the status quo. In these cases, state legislators can be called upon to help. Reformers have succeeded in doing so in Oregon and have shown promise in California. Far less attention has been paid, however, at the federal level. Recently, several Democratic candidates for president have released federal plans to prod states and cities to relax their zoning.

Congress could condition a small share (say, 5 percent) of federal funds on the adoption by states of housing-production goals or Vision Zero design standards calibrated for safety. Conditional appropriations, which are how Congress goaded states into raising the drinking age, are already in use for numerous transportation programs.

Litigation for dangerous street design is another promising way to hold public entities accountable. So far, plaintiffs have mostly sought money damages, but they can also seek design changes through injunctive relief, including by class action. This has the potential to move not only laws and budgets but the entire discourse around street safety.

Finally, reformers could seek recognition of the freedom to walk. The federal Americans With Disabilities Act and state and local counterparts, as well as case law recognizing a constitutional right to movement, suggest such a right to mobility.

Americans customarily describe motor-vehicle crashes as accidents. But the harms that come to so many of our loved ones are the predictable output of a broken system of laws. No struggle for justice in America has been successful without changing the law. The struggle against automobile supremacy is no different."
2019  cars  law  zoning  accidents  insurance  policy  government  taxes  publictransit  pedestrians  parking  cities  urban  urbanism  transportation  transit  speedlimits  california  us  design  safety  health  risks  tortlaw  negligence  oregon  housing  litigation  gregoryshill 
july 2019 by robertogreco
Spanish has never been a foreign language in the United States - Los Angeles Times
"Video recordings in very different settings caught two incidents of Spanish speakers being harassed or detained as perceived undocumented immigrants this month.

In midtown Manhattan, an attorney, Aaron Schlossberg, berated a restaurant owner after he heard workers speaking in Spanish. He ranted that they should speak English in “his country” and threatened to call Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

A world away in Montana, two American citizens, Ana Suda and Mimi Hernández, recorded as they confronted a U.S. Border Patrol agent about why he asked for their identifications. He responded plainly that he wanted their IDs when he “saw that you guys are speaking Spanish, which is very unheard of up here.” He detained them for 40 minutes in a parking lot.

The call to “speak English” in America has a long history that often drowns out our even longer history of diverse language use. Spanish especially is a language with deep roots in the United States.

The Southwest was originally part of Mexico. When the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo ended the U.S.-Mexican War in 1848, it also granted the remaining Mexican settlers citizenship. The treaty did not require that they learn English.

Quite the opposite is true: Over the decades that followed, the federal government permitted local governments in the Southwest to use Spanish in official capacities.

California’s first state Constitution required that “all laws, decrees, regulations, and provisions, which from their nature require publication, shall be published in English and Spanish.” Some California counties received session laws and operated their courts in Spanish.

The use of Spanish in New Mexico was especially widespread. Just five years after taking over the territory, the United States recognized that it needed to pay for translators in the legislative chambers. Federal officials embraced Spanish as a necessary way to fairly govern this new group of citizens.

In some parts of New Mexico, election results, loyalty oaths, session laws, letters to elected officials, speeches by both political parties, court transcripts and many other official documents were written in Spanish. These are merely the recorded uses of Spanish and don’t include its widespread oral use.

Senators visiting New Mexico in 1902 concluded that they could not conduct their official business without an interpreter. They encountered school teachers, judges and a census supervisor who were monolingual Spanish speakers.

When the senators asked a former justice of the peace, José María García, why he continued to use Spanish, he replied: “I like my own language better than any other, the same as I like the United States better than any other country in the world.” For García, there was no contradiction in being both an American and a Spanish speaker.

Spanish remained an official language of politics and government in much of the Southwest throughout the 19th century, but that changed in the first decades of the 20th century. Increasing immigration from Mexico, a push for school segregation and other “Americanization” efforts helped turn the tide. As the historian Paul J. Ramsey has shown, 26 states, including California, had outlawed the teaching of languages other than English in public primary schools by 1921. California outlawed it in private schools that year.

Anti-Mexican sentiment peaked in the early 1930s, coinciding with cruel repatriation campaigns that forced hundreds of thousands of Mexican citizens and Mexican Americans over the border into Mexico. Los Angeles County was especially effective at these tactics. Nevertheless, Spanish remained the preferred language in many parts of the Southwest during this period, and more than a thousand civic organizations promoted Spanish in the interest of Pan-Americanism.

Spanish speakers also settled well beyond the Southwest, of course. As early as 1891, the Cuban poet and journalist José Martí, then living in New York City, was writing of “Nuestra América,” or “Our America,” in an effort to unite Spanish speakers across the hemisphere. Tens of thousands more Cubans arrived in the early 20th century, well before the Cuban Revolution.

Congress created many Spanish-speaking Americans when it gave Puerto Ricans their citizenship in 1917 through the Jones Act, which also did not have an English-language provision. By the 1950s, nearly 200,000 Puerto Ricans had moved to New York City. Spanish has now been a part of everyday life in New York for over a century.

Forty-one million native Spanish speakers reside in the U.S. today, and this figure does not include the millions more who have learned Spanish by choice. In fact, the U.S. has the second-largest number of Spanish speakers in the world, outnumbered only by Mexico, according to the Instituto Cervantes.

Not only does the U.S. have no official language, but Spanish is not a fringe language here. It plays a much deeper role in this country than either of this month’s news-making videos suggest. Its use is neither new nor an anomaly. Spanish is an American language.

Lozano is an assistant professor of history at Princeton University and the author of “An American Language: The History of Spanish in the United States.”"
rosinalozano  spanish  español  us  2018  language  english  history  newmexico  california  mexico  spain  españa  law 
july 2019 by robertogreco
Shade
[via: https://twitter.com/shannonmattern/status/1122670547777871874

who concludes…
https://twitter.com/shannonmattern/status/1122685558688485376
"🌴Imagine what LA could do if it tied street enhancement to a comprehensive program of shade creation: widening the sidewalks, undergrounding powerlines, cutting bigger tree wells, planting leafy, drought-resistant trees, + making room for arcades, galleries, + bus shelters.🌳"]

"All you have to do is scoot across a satellite map of the Los Angeles Basin to see the tremendous shade disparity. Leafy neighborhoods are tucked in hillside canyons and built around golf courses. High modernist homes embrace the sun as it flickers through labor-intensive thickets of eucalyptus. Awnings, paseos, and mature ficus trees shade high-end shopping districts. In the oceanfront city of Santa Monica, which has a dedicated municipal tree plan and a staff of public foresters, all 302 bus stops have been outfitted with fixed steel parasols (“blue spots”) that block the sun. 9 Meanwhile, in the Los Angeles flats, there are vast gray expanses — playgrounds, parking lots, and wide roads — with almost no trees. Transit riders bake at unsheltered bus stops. The homeless take refuge in tunnels and under highway overpasses; some chain their tarps and tents to fences on Skid Row and wait out the day in the shadows of buildings across the street.

Shade is often understood as a luxury amenity, lending calm to courtyards and tree-lined boulevards, cooling and obscuring jewel boxes and glass cubes. But as deadly, hundred-degree heatwaves become commonplace, we have to learn to see shade as a civic resource that is shared by all. In the shade, overheated bodies return to equilibrium. Blood circulation improves. People think clearly. They see better. In a physiological sense, they are themselves again. For people vulnerable to heat stress and exhaustion — outdoor workers, the elderly, the homeless — that can be the difference between life and death. Shade is thus an index of inequality, a requirement for public health, and a mandate for urban planners and designers.

A few years back, Los Angeles passed sweeping revisions to the general plan meant to encourage residents to walk, bike, and take more buses and trains. But as Angelenos step out of their cars, they are discovering that many streets offer little relief from the oppressive sunshine. Not everyone has the stamina to wait out the heat at an unprotected bus stop, or the money to duck into an air-conditioned cafe. 11 When we understand shade as a public resource — a kind of infrastructure, even — we can have better discussions about how to create it and distribute it fairly.

Yet cultural values complicate the provision of shade. Los Angeles is a low-rise city whose residents prize open air and sunshine. 12 They show up at planning meetings to protest tall buildings that would block views or darken sunbathing decks, and police urge residents in high-crime neighborhoods to cut down trees that hide drug dealing and prostitution. Shade trees are designed out of parks to discourage loitering and turf wars, and designed off streets where traffic engineers demand wide lanes and high visibility. Diffuse sunlight is rare in many parts of Los Angeles. You might trace this back to a cultural obsession with shadows and spotlights, drawing a line from Hollywood noir — in which long shadows and unlit corners represent the criminal underworld — to the contemporary politics of surveillance. 13 The light reveals what hides in the dark.

When I think of Los Angeles, I picture Glendale Boulevard in Atwater Village, a streetcar suburb converted into a ten-lane automobile moonscape. People say they like this street for its wall of low-slung, pre-war storefronts, home to record stores and restaurants. To me, it’s a never-ending, vertiginous tunnel of light. I squint to avoid the glare from the white stucco walls, bare pavement, and car windows. From a climate perspective, bright surfaces are good; they absorb fewer sun rays and lessen the urban heat-island effect. But on an unshaded street they can also concentrate and intensify local sunlight."



"At one time, they did. “Shade was integral, and incorporated into the urban design of southern California up until the 1930s,” Davis said. “If you go to most of the older agricultural towns … the downtown streets were arcaded. They had the equivalent of awnings over the sidewalk.” Rancho homes had sleeping porches and shade trees, and buildings were oriented to keep their occupants cool. The original settlement of Los Angeles conformed roughly to the Law of the Indies, a royal ordinance that required streets to be laid out at a 45-degree angle, ensuring access to sun in the winter and shade in the summer. Spanish adobes were built around a central courtyard cooled by awnings and plants. 15 As the city grew, the California bungalow — a low, rectangular house, with wide eaves, inspired by British Indian hill stations — became popular with the middle class. “During the 1920s, they were actually prefabricated in factories,” Davis said. “There are tens of thousands of bungalows, particularly along the Alameda corridor … that were manufactured by Pacific Ready-Cut Homes, which advertised itself as the Henry Ford of home construction.” 16

All that changed with the advent of cheap electricity. In 1936, the Los Angeles Bureau of Power and Light completed a 266-mile high-voltage transmission line from Boulder Dam (now Hoover Dam), which could supply 70 percent of the city’s power at low cost. Southern Californians bought mass-produced housing with electric heating and air conditioning. By the end of World War II, there were nearly 4 million people living in Los Angeles County, and the new neighborhoods were organized around driveways and parking lots. Parts of the city, Davis said, became “virtually treeless deserts.”"



"It’s easy to see how this hostile design reflected the values of the peak automobile era, but there is more going on here. The destruction of urban refuge was part of a long-term strategy to discourage gay cruising, drug use, and other “shady” activities downtown. In 1964, business owners sponsored another redesign that was intended, in the hyperbolic words of the Los Angeles Times, to finally clear out the “deviates and criminals.” The city removed the perimeter benches and culled even more palms and shade trees, so that office workers and shoppers could move through the park without being “accosted by derelicts and ‘bums.’” Sunlight was weaponized. “Before long, pedestrians will be walking through, instead of avoiding, Pershing Square,” the Times declared. “And that is why parks are built.” 19"



"High-concept architecture is one way to transform the shadescape of Los Angeles. Street trees are another. Unfortunately, the city’s most ubiquitous tree — the iconic Washington robusta, or Mexican fan palm — is about as useful in that respect as a telephone pole.

Palm trees have been identified with southern California since 1893, when Canary Island date palms — the fatter, stouter cousin — were displayed at the Chicago World’s Fair. On the trunk of one of those palms, boosters posted the daily temperatures at a San Diego beach, and the tree itself came to stand for “sunshine and soft air.” In his indispensable history, Trees in Paradise, Jared Farmer traces the palm’s transformation from a symbol of a healthy climate to a symbol of glamour, via its association with Hollywood. 26

Despite that early fame, palm trees did not really take over Los Angeles until the 1930s, when a citywide program set tens of thousands of palms along new or recently expanded roads. They were the ideal tree for an automobile landscape. Hardy, cheap, and able to grow anywhere, palm trees are basically weeds. Their shallow roots curl up into a ball, so they can be plugged into small pavement cuts without entangling underground sewer and water mains or buckling sidewalks. As Farmer puts it, palms are “symbiotic infrastructure,” beautifying the city without making a mess. Plus, as Mary Pickford once pointed out, the slender trunks don’t block the view of storefronts, which makes them ideal for window-shopping from the driver’s seat. The city’s first forester, L. Glenn Hall, planted more than 25,000 palm trees in 1931 alone. 27

Hall’s vision, though, was more ambitious than that. He planned to landscape all of Los Angeles’s roads with 1.2 million street trees. Tall palms, like Washingtonia robusta, would go on major thoroughfares, and side streets would be lined with elm, pine, red maple, liquidambar, ash, and sycamore. A Depression-era stimulus package provided enough funds to employ 400 men for six months. But the forestry department put the burden of watering and maintenance on property owners, and soon it charged for cutting new tree wells, too. Owners weren’t interested. So Hall concentrated his efforts on the 28 major boulevards that would serve the 1932 Olympics — including the now-iconic Ventura, Wilshire, Figueroa, Vermont, Western, and Crenshaw — and committed the city to pay for five years of tree maintenance. That may well have bankrupted the tree planting program, and before long the city was urging property owners to take on all costs, including the trees themselves.

This history partly explains the shade disparity in Los Angeles today. Consider the physical dimensions of a major city street in Hall’s time. Between the expanding road and narrowing sidewalks was an open strip of grass, three to ten feet wide, known as the parkway. Having rejected a comprehensive parks system, Los Angeles relied on these roadside strips to plant its urban forest, but over time the parkways were diminished by various agencies in the name of civic improvements — chiefly, road widening. 29 And the stewardship of these spaces was always ambiguous. The parkways are public land, owned and regulated by the … [more]
losangeles  trees  shade  history  palmtrees  urbanplanning  electricity  inequality  2019  sambloch  mikedavis  urban  urbanism  cars  transportation  disparity  streets  values  culture  pedestrians  walking  heat  light  socal  california  design  landscape  wealth  sidewalks  publictransit  transit  privacy  reynerbanham  surveillance  sun  sunshine  climatechange  sustainability  energy  ericgarcetti  antoniovillaraigosa  environment  realestate  law  legal  cities  civics 
april 2019 by robertogreco
Reading Lists | Places Journal
"Race, Space, and the Law
Desiree Valadares
UC Berkeley

Architecture and Structural Engineering
Tyler Sprague
University of Washington

Coding Flux
Fadi Masoud
University of Toronto

Designing for Science Tourism
Matias del Campo and Sandra Manninger
University of Michigan

Writing Geography
Nehal El-Hadi
University of Toronto

Reading Cities
Alex Baca
Urbanist

Material Nature in Architecture
Erin Moore
University of Oregon, School of Architecture and Environment

Tending Toward Attention
Nathaniel Rivers
Saint Louis University

Enchanting Flow
Guillermo León Gómez and Sofia Bastidas
The New School and Southern Methodist University

Public Architecture
Emma Rowden and Jesse Stein
University of Technology Sydney

Infrastructural Ecology: The City’s Buried Systems
Nicholas Pevzner
University of Pennsylvania

Urbanism After Extraction
Marie Law Adams and Rafi Segal
MIT

Transparent Structures
Beverly Choe and Jun Sato
Stanford University

Re-Imagining Toronto’s Urban Waterways
Alissa North
University of Toronto

Designing with Ruins in Post-Industrial Appalachia
Luis Pancorbo and Edward Ford
University of Virginia

Architecture and Pedagogy
Benjamin Smith
Tulane University

Drawing Place
Carl Smith and Blake Belanger
University of Arkansas and Kansas State University

Toward a Future Agrarian Urbanism
Phoebe Lickwar
University of Arkansas

AIA Gold: Paul Revere Williams
Daisy-O'lice Williams
University of Oregon

Animal Machines: The Architecture of the Body
Iman Ansari
University of Southern California

Landscapes of the Scientific Imaginary
Justine Holzman
University of Toronto

Another South: Exurbs and America
Ashley Bigham
University of Michigan

Art in the Public Sphere
Aleksandra Kaminska
Université de Montréal

Homeplace: Planning and African American Communities
Andrea Roberts
University of Texas, Austin

Black Geographies
Anna Livia Brand
University of Texas, Austin

Nature in the City
Hillary Angelo
University of California, Santa Cruz

Architecture and Control
Louis Nelson
University of Virginia

Black in Design
African American Student Union
Harvard University Graduate School of Design

Designing for Future Weathers
Phu Hoang
Columbia University, Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation

Cloud Vision
Nick Lally
University of Wisconsin–Madison

Architecture in Spaces of Crisis
Dawn Gilpin
University of Michigan

Studio Reading, Late Reading, Anti-Reading: The Regime of Humbug
Roger Connah
Carleton University

Architecture and Jazz
Kenneth Schwartz
Tulane University

Women, Space, and Place: Four Cinematic Pairings
Amy Murphy
University of Southern California

Architecture and Real Estate in the United States
Temple Hoyne Buell Center
Columbia University

China’s New Landscape
Dorothy Tang
University of Hong Kong

Environmental Readings
Frederick Steiner
University of Texas at Austin

The Stars at Night Are Big and Bright [Insert Sound of Hands Clapping]
Enrique Ramirez
University of Pennsylvania

Public Reading
Shannon Mattern
The New School

The Aesthetic Design of Freeways
Nate Berg
Los Angeles journalist

Critical Ecologies
Nina-Marie Lister
Ryerson University

America 30:60
Brian Davis
Cornell University

Deconstructing the Imperialist’s Approach to Geomorphology
Kristi Cheramie
Ohio State University"
readinglists  geography  place  architecture  urban  urbanism  urbanplanning  law  race  engineering  placesjournal 
april 2019 by robertogreco
Thinking about how to abolish prisons with Mariame Kaba: podcast & transcript
"Does anybody go to their local prison and say, "Tell me how many people have left here and are okay and aren't doing things in the community." Nothing. You don't ask the cops for results. We don't ask anybody for results. They're not responsible for coming with an evaluation plan to show how they've used the money. They get unlimited money every single year, more and more and more money, no questions asked. How come that system gets to operate with impunity in that kind of way? And you're asking nonprofit groups on the ground who sometimes are not even nonprofits, just community groups in their neighborhoods, moms sitting on chairs... When they are trying to get a $10,000 grant, to show that they're going to end all violence within five years.

So the whole entire system is set up to actually be just unbalanced in terms of where the energy should be put, in terms of telling that system that is doing the wrong thing, rather than advancing the alternative.

CHRIS HAYES: And it's also not doing... People are victims and perpetrators of —

MARIAME KABA: Both.

CHRIS HAYES: Violence —

MARIAME KABA: All the time.

CHRIS HAYES: It's extremely important for us, in the stories we tell about violence and crime, to basically have cops and robbers.

MARIAME KABA: Good people.

CHRIS HAYES: There's a category over here... And the fact is all people —

MARIAME KABA: We're all both.

CHRIS HAYES: Are all both.

MARIAME KABA: That's very uncomfortable to talk about loudly.

CHRIS HAYES: Are perpetrators and —

MARIAME KABA: That we all harm people and we've all been harmed. Now the degrees are different, our accountability is different. But we're all both. Danielle Sered has a new book out right now, who runs Common Justice here in Brooklyn. And Common Justice is the only program I know of that works with adults to divert adults from prison to the community for violent crimes. So they're doing it. The thing, "I can't wrap my brain around..." Well, they're doing it. Okay? Are they getting $172 billion to do this? No.

What Danielle says in her new book is that no one enters violence for the first time having committed it. Meaning that something happened to you that led to that other form of violence of you either lashing out, using violence, because that's how you learned how to be whatever. No one enters violence for the first time having committed it.

And just that very important thing should condition all of our responses to everything. And it's not. It doesn't. It's the binary. You did something wrong. You're a bad person. You did something ... We all do bad things. We all do bad things. Whether it's out in the open and we acknowledge those things, or we're keeping it to ourselves because we know it's bad and we don't want to be ostracized or disposed of things like that. So we all do that. And I just think that's what transformative and restorative justice allow. They allow for people to be both.

CHRIS HAYES: But there's also... Just to push back slightly —

MARIAME KABA: Of course.

CHRIS HAYES: There's a hierarchy of harm, you know what I mean?

MARIAME KABA: There is. We talked about that. We have different levels of bad things, degrees of bad things, but let me just tell you also, the people who are least likely to cause the same harm again are people who've killed somebody. I know nobody wants to hear that, but it's because it's very hard to kill people. Contrary to what television tells you about serial killers, those images of crime, those crime shows that have literally polluted so many people's brains in this country.

Contrary to that, if you kill somebody, it is such a massively traumatic thing to have done to another person. Unless you are somebody who is evil without any sort of conscience, you are holding that the rest of your life. Go to any prison. And I've been to many, and I've actually taught in prisons, particularly a young people in juvenile facilities. When somebody killed somebody else, the level of remorse for that is something that is inexplicable to somebody who hasn't experienced it and done that.

So this notion that people are just "sociopaths," which I don't like to use that term either because it's very complicated and not directly linked in terms of mental health and violence. The ideas that people offer out there in the general public often take away that idea, the idea of that harm being so traumatic to the person who harmed you, too.

CHRIS HAYES: I mean the literature of army training, this is this sort of thing that happens. There's this famous study and I think it happens in World War II, in which they find out that a huge amount of soldiers are never firing their guns.

MARIAME KABA: Because it's so hard to kill somebody.

CHRIS HAYES: And they're like, "Oh my God, what's going on?" And the answer is, it's actually very hard—

MARIAME KABA: To kill somebody.

CHRIS HAYES: To overcome. And the training in the United States Armed Services uses that to get around that natural moral resistance that we have.

MARIAME KABA: As human beings, it is hard for us to kill other people. That sounds like an anathema.

CHRIS HAYES: It does. Because the whole idea of the model is thin blue line. That basically we're always on the edge of chaos, anarchy, and violence. And that the cops and the system are the thing that ... that’s literally what they say.

MARIAME KABA: Are the thing that stops it from happening. They're the line between us and savagery and anarchy. And that is a lie, because we know that by talking to people who've harmed other people very seriously, who often are desperate for an attempt to try to be accountable for that. They want a chance to talk to the families of the people they harmed because they want to talk to those people, because accountability is a form of healing. To say you did something and it was terrible, and now you're serving 50 years in prison with no chance of getting out. You want to be able to go to sleep at night.

CHRIS HAYES: I 1,000 percent agree with you that the storytelling and the policy rationale of the actual system is built out from the most extreme examples outward, right? So the pop cultural representations, the way we think about it like monsters, sociopaths, these immoral remorseless killers.

MARIAME KABA: But the question is, what about the remorseless?

CHRIS HAYES: That's where I'm going.

MARIAME KABA: And my thing is, I'm going to tell you right now that the remorseless killer who is caught is probably currently locked up for life. Right? Because that's where they're going to end up. My thing is within the new paradigm of a world that I envision, because so many things will have been different, because people will have had their needs met from the time they're a kid.

CHRIS HAYES: How did that remorseless killer get built?

MARIAME KABA: How did they get built? And so my thing is, I think we're going to shift the paradigm in the end so that we have less "remorseless" people. And so we're going to find a different way to handle those people who cannot in good conscience be within our regular society. But it doesn't have to be a prison. It doesn't have to be the prison as we've created it.

So that's the answer for me to that, which is we're going to figure it out. We're going to figure it out. But for now, most people who are locked up are not those people. For now, most people who are...

CHRIS HAYES: That is — I want to just be clear on the record — I 1,000 percent agree with that.

MARIAME KABA: So let's let all those people out tomorrow and then let's argue over the rest, while we're changing the other things that happen. And I'm going to say one last thing about this, which is the reason I can't get behind the right's criminal punishment reform models is not because they're on the right. It's because they refuse to fund and address all the things on the front end that would make the back end not possible. Because what they're doing is saying, "We need shorter sentences for some people, not everybody. We need a better re-entry system by which people get training for jobs that don't exist based on not having been educated from the time they were in the fourth grade in the first place."

So we just fundamentally have an ideological completely different view of how the world operates. In that way, I don't want Newt Gingrich out there doing criminal punishment reform. That is very antithetical to most of the reformers you're seeing out there right now. Who value the "bipartisan" stupid policy.

No. I want them to fund our schools, to allow us to have a planet. I want them to be able to give universal health care to people, because I believe that all those things, will make all the other stuff that were "working on" in criminal punishment reform less likely to occur."
mariamekaba  chrishayes  prisons  incarceration  police  lawenforcement  2019  prisonabolition  abolition  law  legal  restorativejustice  punishment  elizabethwarren  donaldtrump  wrath  accountability  justice  socialjustice  transformativejustice  crime  prisonindustrialcomplex  violence  paulmanafort  politics  policy  anger  remorse  hierarchy  systemsthinking  inequality  race  racism  nyc  education  mindchanging  domesticviolence  patriarchy  feminism 
april 2019 by robertogreco
Un muro invisible se alza entre los buitres de España y Portugal | Ciencia | EL PAÍS
[via: https://twitter.com/TurbanMinor/status/1113352919301218304

"1/ A vulture can fly up to 400 kilometres each day in search of carrion. Little should it care whether this flight takes it from one country to another. The vultures of Spain, however, skirt around the Portuguese border with uncanny accuracy. [image: map showing the areas inhabited by to carrion birds]

2/ Eneko Arrondo (@BIOEAF), an ecologist at the Doñana Biological Station (@ebdonana), in Spain, was monitoring the distribution of 60 tagged griffon vultures (Gyps fulvus) and 11 cinereous vultures (Aegypius monachus) for his PhD project when he noticed the sharp pattern. [image: one photo with what seems to be an individual from each of the bird species]

3/ During a 2-year study period, only 13 birds visited Portugal, and they all quickly turned back, Arrondo and his colleagues reported last year in Bio. Conservation. Why the rest flew close to the neighbouring country, but never entered it, was a mystery. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0006320717315550

4/ The Portuguese-Spanish border follows river valleys and is not associated with abrupt changes in climate or land-use. What is different on either side, the team learned from Portuguese ornithologists, is the law. [image: map of watersheds on Iberian Peninsula]

5/ Spanish farmers don’t collect dead cattle, but in Portugal, they must bury or burn all carcasses. This leaves no food for vultures, who have learned that the grass is always greener on the eastern side. [photo of birds feasting on a carcass]

6/ A handful of nesting colonies remain in Portugal, says Joaquim Teodósio, a biologist working for the Portuguese Society for the Study of Birds (@spea_birdlife), but the vultures that occupy them spend the daylight hours abroad.

7/ The reasons for the mismatch are historical. In 2001, Europe’s answer to the mad-cow disease (BSE) crisis was banning the abandonment of dead livestock. Spanish vultures, which account for 95% of all scavenging birds in Europe, suffered especially.
https://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/ES/TXT/?qid=1456745645114&uri=CELEX:02001R0999-20160203

8/ Conservationists at the time made a strong case against the ban, which convinced European Union 🇪🇺 legislators to delegate the choice to member states. Some countries, like Spain, resumed cattle abandonment under special conditions. Portugal never changed its laws. [photo of a dog and a cow amidst garbage]

9/ Representatives of BirdLife International, a nature conservation partnership, in both countries (@SEO_BirdLife 🇪🇸 / @spea_birdlife 🇵🇹) argue wildlife will benefit from the integration of sanitary policies across European borders.

10/ It's not just vultures at stake: the collection, transportation and disposal of dead animals is costly and polluting. [animated GIF of a smokestack]

11/ One study, published in Scientific Reports, calculated that taking these jobs from scavengers in Spain involved annual payments of around $50 million to insurance companies and the emission of 77,344 metric tons of equivalent carbon dioxide every year. https://www.nature.com/articles/srep07811

12/ Activists in Portugal are pushing for change. They ask for carrion abandonment permits for farmers, or at least for designated feeding stations where dead cattle may be allowed to rot. Until such measures are granted, an invisible ecological barrier hovers above the border. [GIF showing an old-time film "The End" marking]

13/ This story was published in Spanish for El País last year. Lo recordé hace poco por una conversación y quería compartir en inglés. Dejo aquí el enlace: https://elpais.com/elpais/2018/02/15/ciencia/1518707418_741915.html "
spain  portugal  españa  2018  animals  multispecies  borders  law  laws  vultures  carrion  birds  wildlife  nature  morethanhuman  cattle  farming  ranching  brunomartín 
april 2019 by robertogreco
Language and Linguistics on Trial: Hearing Rachel Jeantel (and Other Vernacular Speakers) in the Courtroom and Beyond, by John Rickford and Sharese King [.pdf]
"Rachel Jeantel was the leading prosecution witness when George Zimmerman was tried for killing Trayvon Martin, but she spoke in African American Vernacular English (AAVE) and her crucial testimony was dismissed as incomprehensible and not credible. The disregard for her speech in court and the media is familiar to vernacular speakers and puts Linguistics itself on trial: following Saussure, how do we dispel such ‘prejudices’ and ‘fictions’? We show that Jeantel speaks a highly systematic AAVE, with possible Caribbean influence. We also discuss voice quality and other factors that bedeviled her testimony, including dialect unfamiliarity and institutionalized racism. Finally, we suggest strategies for linguists to help vernacular speakers be better heard in courtrooms and beyond.*"
johnrickford  shareseking  2016  trayvonmartin  georgezimmerman  racheljeantel  aave  english  bias  law  legal  justice  race  racism  dialect  literacy  intelligence  linguistics  sociolinguistics 
january 2019 by robertogreco
Justice for Jeantel (and Trayvon): Fighting Dialect Prejudice in Courtrooms and Beyond - CornellCast
"When George Zimmerman was tried for the homicide of Trayvon Martin, the testimony of Rachel Jeantel was critical to the prosecution’s case – but was ignored by the jury. According to linguist John Rickford this happened because Jeantel speaks African-American Vernacular English. On Sept. 15, 2016, Rickford presented a University Lecture discussing the potentially devastating consequences caused by mishearings and misjudgments of dialect speakers in courtrooms, police encounters, job interviews and elsewhere."
johnrickford  2016  trayvonmartin  georgezimmerman  racheljeantel  aave  english  bias  law  legal  justice  race  racism  dialect  literacy  intelligence  linguistics  sociolinguistics 
january 2019 by robertogreco
John Rickford, Sharese King: Full Interview on "Race, Dialect Prejudice, and Literacy in the Zimmerman Trial and Beyond" | Stanford Center for Opportunity Policy in Education
"The testimony of Rachel Jeantel, close friend of Trayvon Martin and the prosecution's star witness in the trial of George Zimmerman, was the subject of considerable public commentary in the summer of 2013. Social media pilloried her for her "slurred" or "ungrammatical" speech and described her as stupid and ignorant.

But as Stanford professor John Rickford and second-year linguistics graduate student Sharese King show from analyses of her use of zero copula, absence of third singular present, possessive, and plural --s, and other features, she follows the systematic grammar of African American Vernacular English (AAVE) quite faithfully.

Rickford and King discuss the evidence of Jeantel's limited literacy that emerged during the trial, and the poor reading performance of African American students at her school, Miami Norland, which did not come to public attention. They ask about the extent to which speakers of African American Vernacular English and other dialects are misunderstood, disbelieved, or otherwise unfairly evaluated in courts, schools, and other settings.

This interview followed the SCOPE Brown Bag Lecture: "Race, Dialect Prejudice, and Literacy in the Zimmerman Trial and Beyond" on February 10, 2014."

[Direct link to video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qH-vshQf2g0 ]
johnrickford  shareseking  2014  trayvonmartin  georgezimmerman  racheljeantel  aave  english  bias  law  legal  justice  race  racism  dialect  literacy  intelligence  linguistics  sociolinguistics 
january 2019 by robertogreco
Stanford linguist: prejudice toward African American dialect can result in unfair rulings
"Linguistics professor John R. Rickford contends justice was not served in the Trayvon Martin shooting, in part because testimony in the African American vernacular was discredited."
johnrickford  2014  trayvonmartin  language  linguistics  race  racism  justice  law  aave  georgezimmerman  racheljeantel  sociolinguistics 
january 2019 by robertogreco
David Graeber on a Fair Future Economy - YouTube
"David Graeber is an anthropologist, a leading figure in the Occupy movement, and one of our most original and influential public thinkers.

He comes to the RSA to address our current age of ‘total bureaucratization’, in which public and private power has gradually fused into a single entity, rife with rules and regulations, whose ultimate purpose is the extraction of wealth in the form of profits.

David will consider what it would take, in terms of intellectual clarity, political will and imaginative power – to conceive and build a flourishing and fair future economy, which would maximise the scope for individual and collective creativity, and would be sustainable and just."
democracy  liberalism  directdemocracy  borders  us  finance  globalization  bureaucracy  2015  ows  occupywallstreet  governance  government  economics  politics  policy  unschooling  unlearning  schooliness  technology  paperwork  future  utopianism  capitalism  constitution  rules  regulation  wealth  power  communism  authority  authoritarianism  creativity  neoliberalism  austerity  justice  socialjustice  society  ideology  inequality  revolution  global  international  history  law  legal  debt  freedom  money  monetarypolicy  worldbank  imf  markets  banks  banking  certification  credentials  lobbying  collusion  corruption  privatization  credentialization  deschooling  canon  firstamendment 
january 2019 by robertogreco
Making the Ordinary Visible: Interview with Yasar Adanali : Making Futures
"Yaşar Adanalı defines his work over the past decade as being that of a “part time academic researcher and part time activist”. He is one of the founders of the Center for Spatial Justice in Istanbul, an urban institute that focuses on issues of spatial justice in Istanbul and beyond. In this interview, he reflects upon “continuance” as a tool of engagement, the power of attending to the ordinary within the production of space, and the different types of public that this works seeks to address.

What led to the founding of the Center for Spatial for Justice and how does its work relate to the worlds of academia, activism and urbanism?

I’m interested in questions regarding spatial production in general and more specifically justice – the injustices that derive from spatial processes or the spatial aspect of social injustices. The Center for Spatial Justice takes the acronym MAD in Turkish – a MAD organisation against mad projects, that’s our founding moto. We bring together people from different disciplines such as architects, urban planners, artists, journalists, filmmakers, lawyers and geographers to produce work in relation to what’s going here: grassroots struggles in the city and in the countryside. The Center for Spatial Justice believes in the interconnectedness of urban and rural processes.

As educator and an activist, you work both within and outside an institutional setting. Have you been able to take the latter experience back into the academy and if so, what in particular? How do these two roles inform each other?

Since 2014 I have been teaching a masters design studio at TU Darmstadt. It’s a participatory planning course that both follows and supports a cooperative housing project in Düzce, Turkey, produced for and by the tenants who were badly affected by the 1999 earthquake. Over the course of the past five years, the master students have been developing a 4000 sq m housing project from scratch. The students from Darmstadt come to Istanbul as interns, working partly on the project. The result is a long-lasting relationship with the neighbourhoods in question and with the organisations we have been working with.

Apart from that, through MAD and Beyond Istanbul we develop summer and winter schools – non-academic experiences that similarly bridge the gap between the alternative universe and the mainstream universe. When you start to put critical questions into the minds of the students, these linger and they then take them back to the university, so their friends and professors also become exposed to that. We prefer to develop this approach outside of the university so that we are freed from bureaucracy and rigid structures but we keep it open to enrolled students and professors.

What are some particular strategies and methodologies that you adopt to engender this approach to urban practice? How do you involve local residents, for example?

That building of long-term relationships with communities is why we do a lot of walking. Our research questions are informed by the community and the site we arrive at – we do not predetermine hypotheses in advance. We remain in direct contact with different groups in the city and walk through these territories – with the neighbourhood association – not just once but every week. We listen to a lot of stories and record them. Oral histories are an important part of the ethnographic enquiry.

We also use mapping, a tool commonly used to exert power but that nature can be reversed. Through mapping we reclaim territories that have perhaps been “erased” – that is, transformed by injustice. We also map informal areas and then give those maps to the communities there because the way they appear on official plans often doesn’t reflect how things look on the ground. What looks like a carpark in the plan might be someone’s house; what’s represented as a commercial development might currently be a neighbourhood park or some other form of already existing social infrastructure.

In addition, we try to embed journalistic means within our academic interests, which is why we work with documentary journalists and photographers on each of our projects. We broadcast spatial justice news videos, in depth films that offer 8-10 minutes of reporting on a particular issue, giving it context and also pointing towards possible solutions. Solution journalism, which doesn’t just focus on crisis, is very important in the work we do.

As part of its work making spatial injustices visible, MAD publishes a wide range of materials. Which are the publics you try to communicate with through this?

Research has to be coupled with a conscious effort to communicate because you want to make change. We don’t want to make research for the sake of research or produce publications for the sake of publishing. We want to create those publics you allude to – and to influence them. We are addressing people involved in the discipline in its broadest sense: planners, architects, sociologists, activists, but perhaps most especially students who are interested in spatial issues, urban questions and environmental concerns. They are our main target. We want them to understand that their discipline has much more potential than what they are learning at university. I’m not saying the entire education system is wrong but there is much larger perspective beyond it and great potential for collaboration with other disciplines and engagement with different publics as well.

Another important public is the one directly involved with our work, i.e. the community that is being threatened by renewal projects. These groups are not only our public but also our patrons – we are obliged to be at their service and offer technical support, whether that’s recording a meeting with the mayor or analysing a plan together. Then there is the larger audience of broader society, who we hope to encourage to think of and engage with these issues of inequality and spatial justice.

I found an interesting quote on your webpage that says that the founding of MAD “is an invitation to understand the ordinary in an extraordinary global city context”. Can you talk a little about the urban context of Istanbul, Turkey and why the focus on the ordinary?

Everything about Istanbul is extraordinary: transformation, speed, scale. We are interested in making the ordinary visible because when we focus so much on the mega-projects, on the idea of the global city, then the rest of the city is made invisible. We look beyond the city centre – the façade – and beyond the mainstream, dominant discourse. This “ordinary” is the neighbourhood, nature and that which lies beyond the spectacle – other Turkish cities, for example. This approach can entail initiatives that range from historical urban gardening practices, working with informal neighbourhoods subject to eviction and relocation processes, or rural communities on the very eastern border currently threatened by new mine projects.

More specifically, today we live in an extraordinary state. The public arena is in a deep crisis and the democratic institutions and their processes do not really deserve our direct involvement right now. Having said that, there are different pockets within these systems, municipal authorities that operate differently, for example, and when we find these we work with them, but we remain realistic with regards to our limits. The “now” in Turkey has been lost in the sense that its relevance is not linked to the future beyond or to the next generation. That is a deep loss. But if you have the vision and the production means, if you set up a strong system, build the capacity first of yourself and then of the groups your work with, then when the right moment comes, all of these elements will flourish."
urban  urbanism  urbanplanning  cities  maps  mapping  neighborhoods  unschooling  deschooling  education  independence  lcproject  openstudioproject  justice  visibility  istanbul  turkey  ethnography  inquiry  erasure  injustice  infrastructure  socialinfrastructure  2018  rosariotalevi  speed  scale  transformation  walking  community  yasaradanali  space  placemaking  interconnectedness  interconnected  geography  interdisciplinary  crossdisciplinary  socialjustice  architecture  design  film  law  legal  filmmaking  journalism  rural  engagement 
december 2018 by robertogreco
Dr Fish Philosopher🐟 on Twitter: "1. <Brews some coffee.> <puts on anthropologist hat> <cracks knuckles> So the theft of my wonderful colleague, @kahente's, daughter's name by a non-Indigenous film production raises the issue of how western/euro-americ
[images throughout with screenshots of citations]

"1. <Brews some coffee.> <puts on anthropologist hat> <cracks knuckles>

So the theft of my wonderful colleague, @kahente's, daughter's name by a non-Indigenous film production raises the issue of how western/euro-american folks understand 'culture'+ the erasure of Indigenous laws

2. Western/euro-american folks have employed the notion of 'culture' to describe the 'customs, traditions, languages, social institutions' of The Other for a long while now. Made perhaps famous in anthropology's embrace of this unit of analysis in the last few hundred years.

3. the thing about 'culture' in its emergence as anthro's unit of analysis (vs, say, sociology's also fraught but in different ways study of 'society') is that it was employed through colonial period (+ still) to displace the legal-governance standing of nations of 'The Other'.

4. While Euro nations/the West were deemed to have 'laws', everyone else (the Rest) were deemed to have 'customs'/'traditions'/'culture'. This coincided with vigorous efforts by British/American & other western actors to do everything possible to invalidate the laws of 'The Rest'

5. What happens when 'the Rest' have laws? It means that Euro-American actors ('The West') might actually have reciprocal responsibilities to those nations under emerging international law in colonial period & cannot just steal land and destroy nations without legal consequences.

6.(Interlude --- everything I know about this is from Joanne Barker's fabulous book "Sovereignty Matters" and Sylvia Wynter's crucial, canonical piece "Unsettling the Coloniality of Being/Power/Truth/Freedom: Towards the Human, After Man, Its Overrepresentation--An Argument").

7. As Barker (2005:4) shows us: law matters because this is medium through which nationhood/statehood were recognized+asserted. Both Treaties and Constitutions were mobilized to assert claims over lands/peoples. Genocide was done 'legally' within precepts of euro/american law

8. What happened when euro-american actors entered into treaties with Indigenous nations/confederacies in NA? Euro-american colonizers quickly realized recognition of the laws of the 'Other' meant their claims to lands were vulnerable to international challenge (Barker 2005)

9. So, euro-american colonizers had two handy little tricks up their sleeve: first, invalidate the humanity of those you colonize (Wynter 2003). Place them firmly in the category of the 'fallen flesh'/sinners/'Other' incapable of rational thought (law) ((Wynter 2003: 281-282)

(sorry, this one is a slow burn because I want to make sure I cite sources fairly and generously and provide ample material for folks to consult and check out)

10. This invalidation is helped by the papal bull of 1493, which establishes the 'Doctrine of Discovery' (aka: Spain and Portugal have the right to claim lands they 'find' in the name of God). This is re-asserted in 19th century USA http://www.papalencyclicals.net/Alex06/alex06inter.htm
https://upstanderproject.org/firstlight/doctrine/

11. Second, once you invalidate the humanity of those you colonized, & established that only euro-western/euro-american 'man' can possess rational thought/law, you invalidate the knowledge/being of the other as 'myth/ 'story'/ & 'CULTURE'. Law for the West, Culture for the Rest.

12. This is where the rise of Anthropology is so crucial. It arises at a time when euro-american actors are frantically looking for ways to invalidate the laws, sovereignty, nationhood, self-determination and humanity of everyone they colonized.

13. Just when euro-american actors are looking for ways to legally justify their breaking of treaties they entered into with folks they colonized, anthro trots in with its focus on 'culture'. Culture as embodiment of everything that comprises law without recognizing its authority

14. Once you've established a hierarchy of humanity with white western christian males as the only real '(hu)Man' (see Wynter (2003) and Zakiyyah Iman Jackson (2013)), you can set about bracketing out 'the Rest' from your notion of legal and scientific plurality.

15. All of this is crucial. The western 'modern' framing of White Western Christian Men as the only beings capable of rational thought. The anthro fascination w/ 'cultures' of 'The Rest'. (The west/rest framing I borrow from Colin Scott's "Science for the West/TEK for the Rest")

16. This is of course entangled with capitalist expansion. Who can possess things, people, lands is important to expanding claims to property. The designation of subhumanity/de-authorization of laws of The Other are crucial to the violent capitalist white supremacist project.

17. As Christina Sharpe (2016) teaches us: "the history of capital is inextricable from the history of Atlantic chattel slavery".

18. This all comes to matter, anthropologically, because anthro becomes the 'caretaker' of The Other and their de-authorized legal orders, laws, knowing, being. This is the white possessive, as Aileen Moreton-Robinson ((2015) and Moreton-Robinson (2014: 475)) demonstrates:

19. So, when western actors are shocked to discover that they cannot just take things from other nations/societies/confederacies/legal orders, this is because anthro has faithfully done its job as acting as 'caretaker' for the laws/knowing/being of all those nations dispossessed.

20. Remember that the invention/fetishization of small c plural 'cultures' was crucial to the de-authorization of laws, epistemes, ontologies, being of everyone but White European Christian Rational Man. Anthro is basically an epic legal argument against sovereignty of 'The Rest'

21. And this coincided, not innocently, with assertions of racial hierarchies that deemed certain peoples to possess rational law, science, sovereignty, authority. The possession of law coincides with western beliefs in rationality (Wynter 2003).

22. Anthro has a buddy, and that buddy is biology. Biology, as Wynter (2003) demonstrates, mobilizes in the 19th century to develop the notion of Man(2). Man(2) not only has rationality, but he has evolution on his side, justifying his white possessiveness (Wynter 2003: 314-315)

23. So, as long as The West has Law and the Rest has culture, white western actors will continue to dispossess, appropriate, steal,+violate the legal orders of those peoples they colonize, because they believe they have an ontological right to these things (Moreton-Robinson 2015)

24. And anthropology has a lot of answering to do, still, for its role in de-authorizing the legal orders of those colonized by western imperial actors. It is complicit in the re-framing of legal orders, being, and knowing as 'culture', 'myth', 'tradition', and 'custom'.

25. Finally, for an in-depth examination of the ways anthro works to de-authorize Indigenous law, please buy+read Audra Simpson's _Mohawk Interruptus_, which demonstrates how anthro's focus on 'cultures' is used to dispossess Haudenosaunee in North America

26. Please amend tweet 6 to read: Everything I know about this is from Joanne Barker, Aileen Moreton-Robinson, Audra Simpson+Sylvia Wynter!!! These 4 thinkers should be among the canon of work taught in Anthro theory courses to help displace its pervasive white possessiveness.

27. So, to wrap up this essay -- the incident this week was the theft of a Kanienkeha name. Audra Simpson (2014) here explains how the concept of 'culture' & western property (il)logics are used to deny Indigenous ownership of lands, knowing, being through white possessiveness:

28. Anthro must contend with this reality that Audra Simpson so clearly lays out in her work: it is built entirely on the denial of Indigenous sovereignty. And Anthro relies on racial hierarchies that emerge with assertion of 'rational' western white christian 'Man' (Wynter 2003)

Important addition to this morning's twitter essay! I cited Colin Scott's 'Science for the West, Myth for the Rest?',but David kindly points me towards the crucial work of Stuart Hall here (which I will now go read!!!) https://uq.rl.talis.com/items/EE89C061-C776-4B52-0BA3-F1D9B2F87212.html https://twitter.com/davidnbparent/status/1074748042845216773 "

[unrolled here: https://threadreaderapp.com/thread/1074624197639487488.html ]
zoetodd  2018  anthropology  cul;ture  sociology  socialsciences  colonialism  decolonization  capitalism  indigeneity  indigenous  law  joannebarker  sylviawynter  power  truth  freedom  treaties  constitutions  humanity  humanism  dehumanization  spain  portugal  españa  invalidation  thewest  hierarchy  hierarchies  colinscott  zakiyyahimanjackson  othering  rationality  biology  dispossession  colonization  audrasimpson  myth  myths  tradition  customs  aileenmoreton-robinson  property  possession  possessiveness  sovereignty  race  racism  stuarthall 
december 2018 by robertogreco
Are Civics Lessons a Constitutional Right? This Student Is Suing for Them - The New York Times
"Many see the lack of civics in schools as a national crisis. A federal lawsuit says it also violates the law."



"Aleita Cook, 17, has never taken a class in government, civics or economics. In the two social studies classes she took in her four years at a technical high school in Providence, R.I. — one in American history, the other in world history — she learned mostly about wars, she said.

Left unanswered were many practical questions she had about modern citizenship, from how to vote to “what the point of taxes are.” As for politics, she said, “What is a Democrat, a Republican, an independent? Those things I had to figure out myself.”

Now she and other Rhode Island public school students and parents are filing a federal lawsuit against the state on Thursday, arguing that failing to prepare children for citizenship violates their rights under the United States Constitution.

They say the state has not equipped all of its students with the skills to “function productively as civic participants” capable of voting, serving on a jury and understanding the nation’s political and economic life."
2018  civics  publicschools  democracy  law  legal  schooling  schools  education  economics  voting 
november 2018 by robertogreco
max berger🔥🌹 on Twitter: "I think it's time we started talking about this.… "
"I think it's time we started talking about this.

[image: "Maybe a bunch of white slave owners from the 1700s did not come up with the best government ever" with map showing 40 million (23 small states highlighted in gold) people 46 senators, 40 million (California highlighted in purple) people 2 senators]

The US is one of the only countries in the world with a bicameral legislature and a separately elected executive. There are better (more representative and responsive) systems!

Ours was amazing for 1776, but we have 200+ years of lessons since then.

My suggestion to make the US government more representative and responsive:

- Make the House into multi-member districts with instant run off voting (see @fairvote for more)
- Abolish the electoral college
- Reform the senate to make it much more proportional and less powerful

I have a piece on this forthcoming, but I’ll just briefly say: the survival of the republic depends on reforming our electoral system.

Trump will not be the last authoritarian president if we don’t deal with gridlock, corruption and lack of representation.

There is nothing more American than deciding your system of government is insufficiently democratic and resolving to change it.

The revolutionary spirit of the founders is based on the radical idea that we can remake our world to better reflect the needs of regular people.

Lots of conservatives jumping in to say the founders made a compromise to allow small states to be overly represented. It's true!

They also agreed to a compromises that said slaves counted as 3/5ths of a person, and only men who owned land could vote.

We can do better.

The constitution represented the best thinking on how to create a functional republic at the time it was written. It was also a political compromise that reflected the realities of power at the time.

Much has changed since then. If we rewrote it today, it'd look very different.

The American constitution is outdated; when Americans advise other newly democratized nations on writing their constitutions, we no longer use our own as the basis.

We should learn from the past 200 years and make our system more representative. https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2013/11/the-us-needs-a-new-constitution-heres-how-to-write-it/281090/
Almost nobody uses the U.S. Constitution as a model—not even Americans. When 24 military officers and civilians were given a single week to craft a constitution for occupied Japan in 1946, they turned to England. The Westminster-style parliament they installed in Tokyo, like its British forebear, has two houses. But unlike Congress, one is clearly more powerful than the other and can override the less powerful one during an impasse.

The story was largely the same in defeated Nazi Germany, and more recently in Iraq and Afghanistan, which all emerged from American occupation with constitutions that look little like the one Madison and the other framers wrote. They have the same democratic values, sure, but different ways of realizing them. According to researchers who analyzed all 729 constitutions adopted between 1946 and 2006, the U.S. Constitution is rarely used as a model. What's more, "the American example is being rejected to an even greater extent by America's allies than by the global community at large," write David Law of Washington University and Mila Versteeg of the University of Virginia.

That's a not a fluke. The American system was designed with plenty of checks and balances, but the Founders assumed the elites elected to Congress would sort things out. They didn't plan for the political parties that emerged almost immediately after ratification, and they certainly didn't plan for Ted Cruz. And factionalism isn't the only problem. Belgium, a country whose ethnic divisions make our partisan sparring look like a thumb war, was unable to form a governing coalition for 589 days in 2010 and 2011. Nevertheless, the government stayed open and fulfilled its duties almost without interruption, thanks to a smarter institutional arrangement.

America is the only presidentialist system (I.e. a separately elected legislature and executive) that hasn't lapsed into dictatorship.

Literally every single other presidentialist system in the world has failed.

It's only a matter of time before ours fails as well.
"There are about 30 countries, mostly in Latin America, that have adopted American-style systems. All of them, without exception, have succumbed to the Linzian nightmare at one time or another, often repeatedly," according to Yale constitutional law professor Bruce Ackerman, who calls for a transition to a parliamentary system. By "Linzian nightmare," Ackerman means constitutional crisis—your full range of political violence, revolution, coup, and worse. But well short of war, you can end up in a state of "crisis governance," he writes. "President and house may merely indulge a taste for endless backbiting, mutual recrimination, and partisan deadlock. Worse yet, the contending powers may use the constitutional tools at their disposal to make life miserable for each other: The house will harass the executive, and the president will engage in unilateral action whenever he can get away with it." He wrote that almost a decade and a half ago, long before anyone had heard of Barack Obama, let alone the Tea Party.

Lots of conservatives asking if I know about the house of representatives or the Connecticut compromise.

Yes.

Have you heard about the perils of presidentialism? https://www.vox.com/the-big-idea/2016/10/21/13352990/presidency-flawed-constitution-dictator-trump

Or how our constitution is inherently undemocratic? https://scholarship.law.cornell.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?referer=https://www.google.com/&httpsredir=1&article=1122&context=facpub

You should!

The point isn't what the founders intended: the point is that if we started out writing a new constitution today, no one would suggest we create two houses, including one that disproportionally empowers people from small states.

We'd create a government that looks like America.

The founders do not have a monopoly on wisdom, knowledge or experience. Their constitution was designed for wealthy land owning white men.

We need an electoral system that's designed to represent the American people - all of us - for the first time in our history."
us  government  presidency  constitution  law  democracy  presidentialism  2018  maxberger  governance  donaldtrump  elections  constitutionalcrisis  representation  elcectoralsystems 
november 2018 by robertogreco
Opinion | Be Afraid of Economic ‘Bigness.’ Be Very Afraid. - The New York Times
"There are many differences between the situation in 1930s and our predicament today. But given what we know, it is hard to avoid the conclusion that we are conducting a dangerous economic and political experiment: We have chosen to weaken the laws — the antitrust laws — that are meant to resist the concentration of economic power in the United States and around the world.

From a political perspective, we have recklessly chosen to tolerate global monopolies and oligopolies in finance, media, airlines, telecommunications and elsewhere, to say nothing of the growing size and power of the major technology platforms. In doing so, we have cast aside the safeguards that were supposed to protect democracy against a dangerous marriage of private and public power.

Unfortunately, there are abundant signs that we are suffering the consequences, both in the United States and elsewhere. There is a reason that extremist, populist leaders like Jair Bolsonaro of Brazil, Xi Jinping of China and Viktor Orban of Hungary have taken center stage, all following some version of the same script. And here in the United States, we have witnessed the anger borne of ordinary citizens who have lost almost any influence over economic policy — and by extension, their lives. The middle class has no political influence over their stagnant wages, tax policy, the price of essential goods or health care. This powerlessness is brewing a powerful feeling of outrage."



"In recent years, we have allowed unhealthy consolidations of hospitals and the pharmaceutical industry; accepted an extraordinarily concentrated banking industry, despite its repeated misfeasance; failed to prevent firms like Facebook from buying up their most effective competitors; allowed AT&T to reconsolidate after a well-deserved breakup in the 1980s; and the list goes on. Over the last two decades, more than 75 percent of United States industries have experienced an increase in concentration, while United States public markets have lost almost 50 percent of their publicly traded firms.

There is a direct link between concentration and the distortion of democratic process. As any undergraduate political science major could tell you, the more concentrated an industry — the fewer members it has — the easier it is to cooperate to achieve its political goals. A group like the middle class is hopelessly disorganized and has limited influence in Congress. But concentrated industries, like the pharmaceutical industry, find it easy to organize to take from the public for their own benefit. Consider the law preventing Medicare from negotiating for lower drug prices: That particular lobbying project cost the industry more than $100 million — but it returns some $15 billion a year in higher payments for its products.

We need to figure out how the classic antidote to bigness — the antitrust and other antimonopoly laws — might be recovered and updated to address the specific challenges of our time. For a start, Congress should pass a new Anti-Merger Act reasserting that it meant what it said in 1950, and create new levels of scrutiny for mega-mergers like the proposed union of T-Mobile and Sprint.

But we also need judges who better understand the political as well as economic goals of antitrust. We need prosecutors willing to bring big cases with the courage of trustbusters like Theodore Roosevelt, who brought to heel the empires of J.P. Morgan and John D. Rockefeller, and with the economic sophistication of the men and women who challenged AT&T and Microsoft in the 1980s and 1990s. Europe needs to do its part as well, blocking more mergers, especially those like Bayer’s recent acquisition of Monsanto that threaten to put entire global industries in just a few hands.

The United States seems to constantly forget its own traditions, to forget what this country at its best stands for. We forget that America pioneered a kind of law — antitrust — that in the words of Roosevelt would “teach the masters of the biggest corporations in the land that they were not, and would not be permitted to regard themselves as, above the law.” We have forgotten that antitrust law had more than an economic goal, that it was meant fundamentally as a kind of constitutional safeguard, a check against the political dangers of unaccountable private power.

As the lawyer and consumer advocate Robert Pitofsky warned in 1979, we must not forget the economic origins of totalitarianism, that “massively concentrated economic power, or state intervention induced by that level of concentration, is incompatible with liberal, constitutional democracy.”"
timwu  economics  monopolies  history  bigness  scale  size  2018  telecommunications  healthcare  medicine  governance  democracy  fascism  government  influence  power  bigpharma  law  legal  robertpitofsky  consolidation  mergers  lobbying  middleclass  class  inequality 
november 2018 by robertogreco
John Warner on Twitter: "So It looks like the whole damn thing is rotten to its core with lots of powerful, privileged people protecting each other from scrutiny or punishment. Of course we all know this has been going on, but it's rare that it's exposed
"So It looks like the whole damn thing is rotten to its core with lots of powerful, privileged people protecting each other from scrutiny or punishment. Of course we all know this has been going on, but it's rare that it's exposed quite this openly.John Warner added,

[quoting @sarahposner (https://twitter.com/sarahposner/status/1042782775168958464 ):
"'No accident' Brett Kavanaugh's female law clerks 'looked like models', Yale professor told students https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2018/sep/20/brett-kavanaugh-supreme-court-yale-amy-chua
A top professor at Yale Law School who strongly endorsed supreme court nominee Brett Kavanaugh as a “mentor to women” privately told a group of law students last year that it was “not an accident” that Kavanaugh’s female law clerks all “looked like models” and would provide advice to students about their physical appearance if they wanted to work for him, the Guardian has learned.

Amy Chua, a Yale professor who wrote a bestselling book on parenting called Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother, was known for instructing female law students who were preparing for interviews with Kavanaugh on ways they could dress to exude a “model-like” femininity to help them win a post in Kavanaugh’s chambers, according to sources.
]

What's interesting is how mundane all this is to the people inside the privileged spaces. This is just how things work for them, powerful men who get to prey upon women to varying degrees, with women who are granted admittance to that club willing to be some of the enforcers.

This is the meritocracy at work. As someone who has moved in meritocracy-adjacent spaces, but never joined, I've always known the meritocracy was total bullshit based on the people I knew who were inside it, but maybe, just maybe, the lid is being peeled back a bit.

I'm highly skeptical that these revelations will have any impact on the meritocracy, places like Yale/Harvard, the Supreme Court. Ultimately, these places are about power and no group in power has ever relinquished it willingly. The only alternative is to shift the locus of power

At the least, we should end the fiction that these privileged institutions are places of great wisdom or probity, rooted in enduring values. They're among the most corrupt places we have. Note this from the Guardian story about how Kavanaugh likes his female clerks to look.

[image: "Sources who spoke to the Guardian about their experiences with Chua and Rubenfeld would only speak under the condition of anonymity because they feared retribution and damage to their future careers."]

Those who are telling the truth know that to tell the truth publicly about the cesspool they're required to navigate would result in expulsion from the group. Next time someone says someone like Kavanaugh comes from the "best" places, remember it's more like the opposite.

The deep irony is that if all that these people are up to was truly known and exposed, a huge proportion of those coming out of these elite law schools would never be able to pass the American Bar Association's ethics requirement.

Here's how one of the court chroniclers of the meritocracy tries to thread the needle on the accusations. It should be embarrassing to commit this opinion into print, but to hold onto the perch, must placate the powerful while giving a sop to audience. https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/is-there-a-kavanaugh-doppelganger/2018/09/18/88418f52-bb86-11e8-a8aa-860695e7f3fc_story.html

I mean can we believe for even a second that this is Kathleen Parker's genuine opinion? How foolish do they expect us to be? Don't answer that. https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/is-there-a-kavanaugh-doppelganger/2018/09/18/88418f52-bb86-11e8-a8aa-860695e7f3fc_story.html

This Chua statement at the end of the Guardian article is an illustration of the self-reinforcing insularity of the meritocracy. In her mind, Kavanaugh only hires the most qualified clerks because so many are go on to the SC, as though the network of connections didn't matter.

[image: "The couple have hired a well-known crisis communications expert but he did not respond to specific questions from the Guardian about Chua’s remarks or the internal investigation.

In an emailed statement, Chua told the Guardian: “For the more than 10 years I’ve known him, Judge Kavanaugh’s first and only litmus test in hiring has been excellence. He hires only the most qualified clerks, and they have been diverse as well as exceptionally talented and capable.

“There is good reason so many of them have gone on to supreme court clerkships; he only hires those who are extraordinarily qualified. As I wrote in the Wall Street Journal, he has also been an exceptional mentor to his female clerks and a champion of their careers. Among my proudest moments as a parent was the day I learned our daughter would join those ranks.”"]

Consider the psychology underpinning this. Amy Chua is convinced she's helping identify the best, a very important perch, and it matters little that she may be perpetuating sexist and abusive practices as long as these people are reaching the heights of SC clerkships.

It's as thought success inside the meritocracy absolves all previous sins (if they were sins to begin with). If you achieve the spoils, who cares about who or what was damaged on the way? The connections to Chua's tiger mom-ing seem obvious.

Chua and her husband's championing of self-control is also interesting here. Apparently one of the things you're supposed to have self-control over is reporting potentially predatory behavior by powerful people. Chua new about Kozinski for years. Great ethics there.

In sum, those elite spaces are always going to be totally fucked up and if you want to play in those circles you figure out how to justify either tolerating and/or doing some fucked up shit. That we let these people run our most important and powerful institutions is a scandal.

When you hear that someone came out of an exclusive D.C. prep school, Yale undergrad and Yale law, we shouldn't be thinking how great they are, but instead wondering what kind of fucked up shit they've seen or done in order to navigate in such corrupt spaces.

Like a good way to trip up a Kavanaugh-type in an hearing would be to just say: Where did you and friends bury the drifter you hit with the car when you were driving home drunk from the Cape that one summer, and their eyes will go wide and they'll say, "How did you know?"

Now dreaming of a future where a big appointment is announced: Prep school educated, Yale undergrad, Yale law, Supreme Court clerkship, and the public knows to say, "Uh-oh."""
johnwarner  meritocracy  corruption  elitism  2018  privilege  brettkavanaugh  amychua  jedrubenfeld  collusion  politics  scotus  donaldtrump  ivyleague  law  legal  alexkozinski 
september 2018 by robertogreco
Gospels of Giving for the New Gilded Age | The New Yorker
"Are today’s donor classes solving problems—or creating new ones?"



"
We live, it is often said, in a new Gilded Age—an era of extravagant wealth and almost as extravagant displays of generosity. In the past fifteen years, some thirty thousand private foundations have been created, and the number of donor-advised funds has roughly doubled. The Giving Pledge—signed by Bill Gates, Warren Buffett, Michael Bloomberg, Larry Ellison, and more than a hundred and seventy other gazillionaires who have promised to dedicate most of their wealth to philanthropy—is the “Gospel” stripped down and updated. And as the new philanthropies have proliferated so, too, have the critiques.

Anand Giridharadas is a journalist who, in 2011, was named a Henry Crown Fellow of the Aspen Institute. The institute is financed by, among other groups, the Carnegie Corporation, the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, and the Gates Foundation. The fellowship, according to its Web site, aims to “develop the next generation of community-spirited leaders” by engaging them “in a thought-provoking journey of personal exploration.”

Giridharadas at first found the fellowship to be a pretty sweet deal; it offered free trips to the Rockies and led to invitations from the sorts of people who own Western-themed mansions and fly private jets. After a while, though, he started to feel that something was rotten in the state of Colorado. In 2015, when he was asked to deliver a speech to his fellow-fellows, he used it to condemn what he called “the Aspen Consensus.”

“The Aspen Consensus, in a nutshell, is this,” he said. “The winners of our age must be challenged to do more good. But never, ever tell them to do less harm.” The speech made the Times; people began asking for copies of it; and Giridharadas decided to expand on it. The result is “Winners Take All: The Elite Charade of Changing the World.” “I hadn’t planned to write a book on this topic, but the topic chose me,” he writes."



"Inside Philanthropy is a Web site devoted to high-end giving; its tagline is “Who’s Funding What, and Why.” David Callahan is the site’s founder and editor. If Giridharadas worries that the super-wealthy just play at changing the world, Callahan worries they’re going at it in earnest.

“An ever larger and richer upper class is amplifying its influence through large-scale giving in an era when it already has too much clout,” he writes in “The Givers: Wealth, Power, and Philanthropy in a New Gilded Age.” “Things are going to get worse, too.”

Part of the problem, according to Callahan, lies in the broad way that philanthropy has been defined. Under the federal tax code, an organization that feeds the hungry can count as a philanthropy, and so can a university where students study the problem of hunger, and so, too, can a think tank devoted to downplaying hunger as a problem. All these qualify as what are known, after the relevant tax-code provision, as 501(c)(3)s, meaning that the contributions they receive are tax deductible, and that the earnings on their endowments are largely tax-free. 501(c)(3)s are prohibited from engaging in partisan activity, but, as “The Givers” convincingly argues, activists on both sides of the ideological divide have developed work-arounds.

As a left-leaning example, Callahan cites Tim Gill, who’s been called “the megadonor behind the L.G.B.T.Q.-rights movement.” A software designer, Gill became rich founding and then selling a company called Quark, and he’s donated more than three hundred million dollars toward promoting L.G.B.T.Q. rights. While some of this has been in the form of straight-up political contributions, much of it has been disbursed by Gill’s tax-exempt foundation, which has financed educational efforts, message testing, and—perhaps most important—legal research. “Without a doubt, we would not be where we are without Tim Gill and the Gill Foundation,” Mary Bonauto, the attorney who argued the 2015 Supreme Court case that legalized gay marriage, told Rolling Stone last year.

On the right, Callahan points to Art Pope, the chairman of a privately held discount-store chain called Variety Wholesalers. Pope has used his wealth to support a network of foundations, based in North Carolina, that advocate for voter-identification—or, if you prefer, voter-suppression—laws. In 2013, pushed by Pope’s network, the North Carolina state legislature enacted a measure requiring residents to present state-issued photo I.D.s at the polls. Then the North Carolina Institute for Constitutional Law—another Pope-funded group—led the effort to block challenges to the measure. (The I.D. law was struck down, in 2016, by a federal appeals court that held it had been “passed with racially discriminatory intent.”)

It is difficult to say what fraction of philanthropic giving goes toward shaping public policy. Callahan estimates that the figure is somewhere around ten billion dollars a year. Such an amount, he says, might not sound huge, but it’s more than the annual contributions made to candidates, parties, and super-pacs combined. The result is doubly undemocratic. For every billion dollars spent on advocacy tricked out as philanthropy, several hundred million dollars in uncaptured taxes are lost to the federal treasury.

“It’s not just that the megaphones operated by 501(c)(3) groups and financed by a sliver of rich donors have gotten louder and louder, making it harder for ordinary citizens to be heard,” Callahan notes. “It’s that these citizens are helping foot the bill.” That both liberals and conservatives are exploiting the tax code is small consolation.

“When it comes to who gets heard in the public square, ordinary citizens can’t begin to compete with an activist donor class,” Callahan writes. “How many very rich people need to care intensely about a cause to finance megaphones that drown out the voices of everyone else?” he asks. “Not many.”"



"
Critiques of “The Gospel of Wealth” didn’t have much impact on Andrew Carnegie. He continued to distribute his fortune, to libraries and museums and universities, until, at the time of his death, in 1919, he had given away some three hundred and fifty million dollars—the equivalent of tens of billions in today’s money. It is hard to imagine that the critiques of the new Carnegies will do much to alter current trend lines.

The Gates Foundation alone, Callahan estimates, will disburse more than a hundred and fifty billion dollars over the next several decades. In just the next twenty years, affluent baby boomers are expected to contribute almost seven trillion dollars to philanthropy. And, the more government spending gets squeezed, the more important nongovernmental spending will become. When congressional Republicans passed their so-called tax-reform bill, they preserved the deduction for charitable contributions even as they capped the deduction for state and local tax payments. Thus, a hundred-million-dollar gift to Harvard will still be fully deductible, while, in many parts of the country, the property taxes paid to support local public schools will not be. It is possible that in the not too distant future philanthropic giving will outstrip federal outlays on non-defense discretionary programs, like education and the arts. This would represent, Callahan notes, a “striking milestone.”

Is that the kind of future we want? As the latest round of critiques makes clear, we probably won’t have much of a say in the matter. The philanthropists will decide, and then it will be left to their foundations to fight it out."
philanthropicindustrialcomplex  charitableindustrialcomplex  2018  elizabethkolbert  charity  philanthropy  inequality  andrewcarnegie  gildedage  inequity  disparity  wealth  inheritance  hughpricehughes  society  williamjewetttucker  patronage  ethics  wealthdistribution  exploitation  billgates  warrenbuffett  michaelbloomberg  larryellison  anandgiridharadas  aspenconsensus  georgesoros  socialentrepreneurship  laurietisch  darrenwalker  change  democracy  henrykravis  billclinton  davidcallahan  power  taxes  thinktanks  nonprofit  activism  timgill  publicpolicy  politics  economics  us  influence  artpope  votersuppression  law  superpacs  donaldtrump  equality  robertreich  nonprofits  capitalism  control 
august 2018 by robertogreco
Should Rivers Have Rights? A Growing Movement Says It’s About Time - Yale E360
"Inspired by indigenous views of nature, a movement to grant a form of legal “personhood” to rivers is gaining some ground — a key step, advocates say, in reversing centuries of damage inflicted upon the world’s waterways."
rivers  rights  nature  multispecies  morethanhuman  2018  personhood  chile  ecosystems  law  legal  jensbenöhr  patricklynch  indigeneity 
august 2018 by robertogreco
How Crossing the Border Became a Crime
"He believed the US “should absolutely bar from our shores all races which are not naturalizable under the law of the land and all individuals of all races who are physically, mentally, morally, and spiritually undesirable.” He advocated “selective immigration,” “so that America may not be a conglomeration of racial groups […] but a homogeneous race striving for the fulfillment of the ideals upon which this Government was founded.” He supported “scientific testing” of immigrants in their home countries. His was a purely eugenicist approach to immigration. And some of his rhetoric is shamefully reminiscent of modern Republican rhetoric on immigration: He described immigrants’ harrowing stories of persecution in Europe as “sob stories,” saying “these ‘sob stories’ and especially European propaganda with which the country has lately been flooded are simply designed to break down the 3 per cent restriction immigration law.”

In 1929, Sen. Coleman Blease proposed an immigration act that would criminalize illegal entry, and it was passed that March. As Ian McDougall wrote for ProPublica this month, Blease saw Davis’ idea of criminalizing illegal entry as “a way to advance his vision of a white America.” (Blease was a rabid white supremacist, who defended lynching and introduced a constitutional amendment to punish individuals who engaged in interracial marriage.) The bill made it punishable by a $1,000 fine or imprisonment of up to two years to re-enter the United States after having been deported, and made illegal entry a misdemeanor, punishable by up to one year.

As the historian Kelly Lytle Hernandez argues, while the law would affect any immigrant who entered illegally, it was specifically intended “as a measure to control and punish unlawful Mexican immigrants.” It did not make illegal presence a crime, a distinction which lasts to this day. It did so, according to Hernandez, to respect court precedent: in Wing Wong v. United States, the court had ruled that “the detention of non-citizens was valid only to facilitate the ‘expulsion of aliens.’” Criminalizing unlawful presence was tricky, but criminalizing illegal entry could have the same desired effect: of deterring the kind of immigrants white America didn’t want."
racism  us  law  border  borders  immigration  migration 
june 2018 by robertogreco
#GeniusTweeter on Twitter: "The Midwest Academy Manual for Activist quotes a consultant who was speaking to a group of corporate executives about some of the *tricks* your opponents will use against you.… https://t.co/FGK2Gw2jPs"
"The Midwest Academy Manual for Activists [http://www.midwestacademy.com/manual/ ] quotes a consultant who was speaking to a group of corporate executives about some of the *tricks* your opponents will use against you.
The authors describe it as: "You are reasonable but your allies aren't. Can, we just deal with you?"... In this tactic, institutions resisting change can divide coalitions, decreasing their power and tempering their demands, by bringing those who have the most invested in the status quo into the Inner circle" to negotiate, in theory, for the full group's interests..? Lawyers often have an easier time getting meetings with decision makers precisely because we are seen as more "reasonable," i.e., amenable to the status quo, and we are too often tempted to accept this access rather than insisting on solidarity with more radical leaders from affected communities...

The manual quotes a consultant speaking to a group of corporate executives to explain this tactic,
Activists fall into three basic categories: radicals, idealists, and realists. The first step is to isolate and marginalize the radicals. They're the ones who see inherent structural problems that need remedying if indeed a particular change is to occur..' The goal is to sour the idealists on the idea of working with the radicals. Instead, get them working with the realists. Realists are people who want reform, but don't really want to upset the status quo; big public interest organizations that rely on foundation grants and corporate contributions are a prime example. With correct handling, realists can be counted on to cut a deal with industry that can be touted as a 'win-win" solution, but that is actually an industry victory.

"There's more to what the consultant advises the corporate executives:
"To isolate them (the radicals), try to create the perception in the public mind that people advocating fundamental solutions are terrorists, extremists, fear mongers, outsiders, communists, or whatever.+"
https://twitter.com/prisonculture/status/962360911225937920

"After marginalizing the radicals, then identify and educate the idealists - concerned and sympathetic members of the public -- by convincing them that changes advocated by the radicals would hurt people.""
https://twitter.com/prisonculture/status/962361148841627649 ]
idealists  idealism  activism  activists  radicals  radicalism  radicalists  centrists  statusquo  elitism  policy  politics  institutions  corporatism  democrats  republicans  marginalization  race  racism  cooption  power  control  corporations  law  lawyers  solidarity  leadership  reform  change  changemaking  fear  outsiders  communists  communism  inequality  oppression  perpetuation  terrorism  extremism  perception  messaging  mariamekaba 
february 2018 by robertogreco
John Perry Barlow gave internet activists only half the mission they need.
"It was at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, of all places, where John Perry Barlow wrote “A Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace” in 1996. That might have been an odd place for a poet and former Grateful Dead lyricist to pen a foundational document of internet activism, but it was also an apt one: Barlow’s manifesto, and the movement it undergirds, helped give us the dynamic—but also often deleteriously corporatized—internet we have today.

Barlow died on Wednesday at the age of 71. The Electronic Frontier Foundation, the cyber civil liberties organization that he co-founded in 1990—where I used to work—shared in a blog post that he passed quietly in his sleep. He leaves us a legacy that has shaped the mission of the people fighting for the open internet. That mission is an incomplete one."



"I can’t help but ask what might have happened had the pioneers of the open web given us a different vision—one that paired the insistence that we must defend cyberspace with a concern for justice, human rights, and open creativity, and not primarily personal liberty. What kind of internet would we have today?"

[via:https://tinyletter.com/audreywatters/letters/hewn-no-252 ]
johnperrybarlow  individualism  californianideology  libertarianism  internet  web  online  2018  open  openness  creativity  liberty  cyberspace  justice  socialjustice  humanrights  race  racism  inclusion  inclusivity  openweb  aprilglaser  government  governance  law  eff  policy  corporatism  surveillance  edwardsnowden  nsa  netneutrality  sopa  pipa  fcc  privilege  power  prejudice 
february 2018 by robertogreco
After Tax Cuts Derailed the ‘California Dream,’ Can the State Get Back on Track? | The California Dream | The California Report | KQED News
"In essence, Proposition 13 became the first shot across the bow in a series of referendums some dubbed “racial propositions” that reached their apogee with Proposition 187, the famous 1994 measure that sought to cut off nearly all public services, including education, to undocumented immigrants.

That was followed by voter-approved measures to ban affirmative action, eliminate bilingual education and expand a prison system marred by racial disproportionality in its sentencing and rates of incarceration.

That Prop 13 itself was a sort of generational warfare with overtones of race was clear in its structure. Since the assessment didn’t increase more than 2 percent unless property changed hands, incumbent homeowners (who were older and whiter) wouldn’t see their tax burden change much as long as they didn’t sell. Meanwhile, new homeowners (more likely to be younger, minority and eventually immigrant) would have to pay higher tax rates and thus bear a disproportionate share of the costs of local services.

And that wasn’t the only bias against the future. The requirement for a supermajority to pass legislation to raise taxes effectively constrained the ability of future state governments to pour in the sort of money that had built the state’s famed transportation, water and university systems.

The Consequences

The immediate damage from Prop 13, however, was masked. When local property tax revenues quickly fell by about 60 percent, the state government stepped in to fill the gaps.

But over time, the damaging effects of Proposition 13 in terms of education spending and income inequality became increasingly apparent. In the 1960s, California ranked among the top 10 states in terms of per-pupil spending. By 2014, its ranking had plunged to as low as 46. And while California’s level of income inequality was in the middle of the pack nationally in 1969, it is now the fourth most unequal state in the country.

While Proposition 13 was the not the only culprit behind these trends, it didn’t help. About half of the total residential property tax relief provided by Prop 13 went to homeowners with incomes in excess of US$120,000 a year – or about 15 percent of all households.

And because the property tax was no longer a growing source of revenue for local governments, cities and counties had more reason to chase sales taxes with retail development and less incentive to promote housing, helping to set in motion the severe housing shortage that wracks the state today.

The final irony is that Prop 13 – a measure promoted by those in favor of smaller government – pushed authority and decision-making to the state capitol, which became the main source to bail out local municipalities.

Efforts to Change It

So why has Proposition 13 not been overturned?

Its political appeal remains, particularly to older residents who vote and to businesses worried about any increase in taxes. Efforts to keep the protections for residential homeowners but allow commercial and industrial property to be assessed at market rates – a so-called “split roll” – have failed or stalled and currently command the thinnest possible majority in public polling.

So while the split role remains a goal for some reformers, many concerned about the effects of Prop 13 have simply tried to raise taxes elsewhere to offset the lost revenue. California voters approved a temporary “millionaire’s tax” in 2012 and its long-term extension in 2016. And more than two-thirds of voting taxpayers in Los Angeles County approved sales tax hikes in 2008 and 2016 that will generate $160 billion over the next 40 years for transportation investments ranging from rail expansion to highway improvement to new bike paths.

But such tinkering does not solve the fundamental problems with Prop 13 that I’ve noted above. Addressing those will require a new set of conversations about optimal tax policy and how to address legitimate concerns such as how to protect older homeowners with a fixed income from the potential end of Prop 13.

California – and the Country – at a Crossroads

Unfortunately, the same demographic shifts, economic anxieties and political polarization that spurred Prop 13 have since gone national. The president’s plan to “Make America Great Again” similarly involves slashing taxes while underinvesting in education and social services – the kinds of investments that actually made America great in the 20th century.

California has the opportunity to show the nation how to get this right and invest in our future and our collective dreams rather than shortchange them. And a growing number of voices, including local governments, unions and political groups, are calling for reform.

The ConversationSo while the discussion about Prop 13 might seem to be about a few obscure tax rules, it is highly symbolic: At stake is the future of the state and, indeed, the nation. A day of reckoning for a measure that seems increasingly out of date may soon be upon us."
proposition13  california  law  education  finance  racism  race  2017  generations  infrastructure  cities  municipalities  inequality  manuelpastor  taxes  government 
november 2017 by robertogreco
The Oxford comma: A Maine court settled the grammar debate over serial commas with a ruling on overtime pay for dairy-truck drivers — Quartz
"A Maine court ruling in a case about overtime pay and dairy delivery didn’t come down to trucks, milk, or money. Instead, it hinged on one missing comma.

Delivery drivers for local milk and cream company Oakhurst Dairy have been tussling with their employers over whether they qualify for overtime. On March 13, a US court of appeals determined that certain clauses of Maine’s overtime laws are grammatically ambiguous. Because of that lack of clarity, the five drivers have won their lawsuit against Oakhurst, and are eligible for unpaid overtime.

The profoundly nerdy ruling is also a win for anyone who dogmatically defends the serial comma."
oxford  commas  punctuation  grammar  law  writing  2017  maine  serialcomma 
march 2017 by robertogreco
A lawyer rewrote Instagram's terms of service for kids. Now you can understand all of the private data you and your teen are giving up to social media — Quartz
"– Officially you own any original pictures and videos you post, but we are allowed to use them, and we can let others use them as well, anywhere around the world. Other people might pay us to use them and we will not pay you for that.

– […] we may keep, use and share your personal information with companies connected with Instagram. This information includes your name, email address, school, where you live, pictures, phone number, your likes and dislikes, where you go, who your friends are, how often you use Instagram, and any other personal information we find such as your birthday or who you are chatting with, including in private messages (DMs).

– We might send you adverts connected to your interests which we are monitoring. You cannot stop us doing this and it will not always be obvious that it is an advert.

– We can change or end Instagram, or stop you accessing Instagram at any time, for any reason and without letting you know in advance. We can also delete posts and other content randomly, without telling you, for any reason. If we do this, we will not be responsible for paying out any money and you won’t have any right to complain.

– We can force you to give up your username for any reason.

– We can, but do not have to, remove, edit, block and/or monitor anything posted or any accounts that we think breaks any of these rules. We are not responsible if somebody breaks the law or breaks these rules; but if you break them, you are responsible."
instagram  facebook  privacy  security  tos  termsofservice  2017  law  parenting 
january 2017 by robertogreco
John Berger: The Nature of Mass Demonstrations (Autumn 1968)
"Seventy years ago (on 6 May 1898) there was a massive demonstration of workers, men and women, in the centre of Milan. The events which led up to it involve too long a history to treat with here. The demonstration was attacked and broken up by the army under the command of General Beccaris. At noon the cavalry charged the crowd: the unarmed workers tried to make barricades: martial law was declared and for three days the army fought against the unarmed.

The official casualty figures were 100 workers killed and 450 wounded. One policeman was killed accidentally by a soldier. There were no army casualties. (Two years later Umberto I was assassinated because after the massacre he publicly congratulated General Beccaris, the ‘butcher of Milan.’)

I have been trying to understand certain aspects of the demonstration in the Corso Venezia on 6 May because of a story I am writing. In the process I came to a few conclusions about demonstrations which may perhaps be more widely applicable.

Mass demonstrations should be distinguished from riots or revolutionary uprisings although, under certain (now rare) circumstances, they may develop into either of the latter. The aims of a riot are usually immediate (the immediacy matching the desperation they express): the seizing of food, the release of prisoners, the destruction of property. The aims of a revolutionary uprising are long-term and comprehensive: they culminate in the taking over of State power. The aims of a demonstration, however, are symbolic: it demonstrates a force that is scarcely used.

A large number of people assemble together in an obvious and already announced public place. They are more or less unarmed. (On 6 May 1898, entirely unarmed.) They present themselves as a target to the forces of repression serving the State authority against whose policies they are protesting.

Theoretically demonstrations are meant to reveal the strength of popular opinion or feeling: theoretically they are an appeal to the democratic conscience of the State. But this presupposes a conscience which is very unlikely to exist.

If the State authority is open to democratic influence, the demonstration will hardly be necessary; if it is not, it is unlikely to be influenced by an empty show of force containing no real threat. (A demonstration in support of an already established alternative State authority – as when Garibaldi entered Naples in 1860 – is a special case and may be immediately effective.)

Demonstrations took place before the principle of democracy was even nominally admitted. The massive early Chartist demonstrations were part of the struggle to obtain such an admission. The crowds who gathered to present their petition to the Tsar in St Petersburg in 1905 were appealing – and presenting themselves as a target – to the ruthless power of an absolute monarchy. In the event – as on so many hundreds of other occasions all over Europe – they were shot down.

It would seem that the true function of demonstrations is not to convince the existing State authority to any significant degree. Such an aim is only a convenient rationalisation.

The truth is that mass demonstrations are rehearsals for revolution: not strategic or even tactical ones, but rehearsals of revolutionary awareness. The delay between the rehearsals and the real performance may be very long: their quality – the intensity of rehearsed awareness – may, on different occasions, vary considerably: but any demonstration which lacks this element of rehearsal is better described as an officially encouraged public spectacle.

A demonstration, however much spontaneity it may contain, is a created event which arbitrarily separates itself from ordinary life. Its value is the result of its artificiality, for therein lies its prophetic, rehearsing possibilities.

A mass demonstration distinguishes itself from other mass crowds because it congregates in public to create its function, instead of forming in response to one: in this, it differs from any assembly of workers within their place of work – even when strike action is involved – or from any crowd of spectators. It is an assembly which challenges what is given by the mere fact of its coming together.

State authorities usually lie about the number of demonstrators involved. The lie, however, makes little difference. (It would only make a significant difference if demonstrations really were an appeal to the democratic conscience of the State.) The importance of the numbers involved is to be found in the direct experience of those taking part in or sympathetically witnessing the demonstration. For them the numbers cease to be numbers and become the evidence of their senses, the conclusions of their imagination. The larger the demonstration, the more powerful and immediate (visible, audible, tangible) a metaphor it becomes for their total collective strength.

I say metaphor because the strength thus grasped transcends the potential strength of those present, and certainly their actual strength as deployed in a demonstration. The more people there are there, the more forcibly they represent to each other and to themselves those who are absent. In this way a mass demonstration simultaneously extends and gives body to an abstraction. Those who take part become more positively aware of how they belong to a class. Belonging to that class ceases to imply a common fate, and implies a common opportunity. They begin to recognise that the function of their class need no longer be limited: that it, too, like the demonstrations itself, can create its own function.

Revolutionary awareness is rehearsed in another way by the choice and effect of location. Demonstrations are essentially urban in character, and they are usually planned to take place as near as possible to some symbolic centre, either civic or national. Their ‘targets’ are seldom the strategic ones – railway stations, barracks, radio stations, airports. A mass demonstration can be interpreted as the symbolic capturing of a city or capital. Again, the symbolism or metaphor is for the benefit of the participants.

The demonstration, an irregular event created by the demonstrators, nevertheless takes place near the city centre, intended for very different uses. The demonstrators interrupt the regular life of the streets they march through or of the open spaces they fill. They ‘cut off these areas, and, not yet having the power to occupy them permanently, they transform them into a temporary stage on which they dramatise the power they still lack.

The demonstrators’ view of the city surrounding their stage also changes. By demonstrating, they manifest a greater freedom and independence – a greater creativity, even although the product is only symbolic – than they can ever achieve individually or collectively when pursuing their regular lives. In their regular pursuits they only modify circumstances; by demonstrating they symbolically oppose their very existence to circumstances.

This creativity may be desperate in origin, and the price to be paid for it high, but it temporarily changes their outlook. They become corporately aware that it is they or those whom they represent who have built the city and who maintain it. They see it through different eyes. They see it as their product, confirming their potential instead of reducing it.

Finally, there is another way in which revolutionary awareness is rehearsed. The demonstrators present themselves as a target to the so-called forces of law and order. Yet the larger the target they present, the stronger they feel. This cannot be explained by the banal principle of ‘strength in numbers,’ any more than by vulgar theories of crowd psychology. The contradiction between their actual vulnerability and their sense of invincibility corresponds to the dilemma which they force upon the State authority.

Either authority must abdicate and allow the crowd to do as it wishes: in which case the symbolic suddenly becomes real, and, even if the crowd’s lack of organisation and preparedness prevents it from consolidating its victory, the event demonstrates the weakness of authority. Or else authority must constrain and disperse the crowd with violence: in which case the undemocratic character of such authority is publicly displayed. The imposed dilemma is between displayed weakness and displayed authoritarianism. (The officially approved and controlled demonstration does not impose the same dilemma: its symbolism is censored: which is why I term it a mere public spectacle.) Almost invariably, authority chooses to use force. The extent of its violence depends upon many factors, but scarcely ever upon the scale of the physical threat offered by the demonstrators. This threat is essentially symbolic. But by attacking the demonstration authority ensures that the symbolic event becomes an historical one: an event to be remembered, to be learnt from, to be avenged.

It is in the nature of a demonstration to provoke violence upon itself. Its provocation may also be violent. But in the end it is bound to suffer more than it inflicts. This is a tactical truth and an historical one. The historical role of demonstrations is to show the injustice, cruelty, irrationality of the existing State authority. Demonstrations are protests of innocence.

But the innocence is of two kinds, which can only be treated as though they were one at a symbolic level. For the purposes of political analysis and the planning of revolutionary action, they must be separated. There is an innocence to be defended and an innocence which must finally be lost: an innocence which derives from justice, and an innocence which is the consequence of a lack of experience.

Demonstrations express political ambitions before the political means necessary to realise them have been created. Demonstrations predict the realisation of their own ambitions and thus may contribute to that realisation, but they cannot themselves achieve them.

The … [more]
johnberger  demonstrations  1968  revolution  massdemonstrations  assembly  democracy  rehearsal  resistance  awareness  practice  authority  authoritarianism  civics  change  law  order  organization  violence 
january 2017 by robertogreco
An Evening with Lawrence Abu Hamdan | MoMA
"MoMA presents the US premiere of an “audio essay” by Beirut-based Jordanian-British artist Lawrence Abu Hamdan, whose work attempts to trace and highlight the relationship between the act of listening and politics, human rights, international law and borders, testimony, and truth. Using audio documentaries and essays, as well as audiovisual installations, Abu Hamdan expresses his fascination with different types of listening at work in today’s legal and political forums. MoMA has recently acquired three important works dealing with similar themes: The Whole Truth, Conflicted Phonemes, and The Aural Contract Audio Archive.

In this new audio essay (a term the artist prefers to “lecture-performance”), he focuses on Saydnaya prison, near Damascus. Working with Forensic Architecture, Amnesty International, and the survivors of Saydnaya, Abu Hamdan captures “ear-witness accounts,” as detainees reconstruct events and the architecture of the prison they experienced through sound. The work raises pivotal questions about the politics of the field known as “forensic listening.”

The artist will be joined for a conversation by Ana Janevski, Associate Curator, Department of Media and Performance Art.

Lawrence Abu Hamdan is a 2015–17 Vera List Center Fellow."

[Casey says:

"he’s… just about the smartest person ever… Super dense speaking/listening/visuals on secret prisons, gunshots, birds.

Precedent for the kind of surveillance we’re dealing with, he argued, isn’t ~the Panopticon~, but Cage’s 4’33 (Silence).

(Listening to foley reconstructions of military prison torture sounds for 2 hrs…"]

[See also:
"What Now? 2015: The Politics of Listening - Keynote presentation by Lawrence Abu Hamdan"
https://vimeo.com/129018344

What Now? 2015: The Politics of Listening
April 24 - 25, 2015
The New School, Anna-Maria & Stephen Kellen Auditorium
66 Fifth Avenue, New York City

What Now? 2015 is a two-day annual symposium, organized by Art in General in collaboration with the Vera List Center for Art and Politics, which investigates critical and timely issues in contemporary art. Dedicated to the topic of “The Politics of Listening,” the 2015 symposium comprises four panel discussions spanning Friday and Saturday, a keynote delivered by Lawrence Abu Hamdan, and a program of sound installations, audio works, film screenings, and performances.

For more information on What Now? 2015: The Politics of Listening, visit:
artingeneral.org/exhibitions/592

Lawrence Abu Hamdan is a multi-media artist with a background in DIY music. In 2015, he was the Armory Show commissioned artist and participated in the New Museum Triennial. The artist’s forensic audio investigations are made as part of the Forensic Architecture research project at Goldsmiths College, University of London, where he is also a PhD candidate and associate lecturer. Recent exhibitions include solo shows at institutions such as The Showroom, London; Casco, Utrecht; Beirut, Cairo; and forthcoming at Kunsthalle St Gallen and the Museum of Modern Art, New York.]

[See also:
"LAWRENCE ABU HAMDAN: Introduction"
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B8UAwxoeIi8

"VOICE ~ CREATURE OF TRANSITION

“[…] the voice is elusive, always changing, becoming, elapsing, with unclear contours […]“ – Mladen Dolar in: A Voice And Nothing More (2006)

Conference- festival that took place from 20-23 March, 2014 at De Brakke Grond, a theater space located in the heart of Amsterdam’s old city center.

Gabriëlle Schleijpen, head of Studium Generale Rietveld Academie invited  Lawrence Abu Hamdan, If I Can’t Dance I Don’t Want To Be Part Of Your Revolution, Ruth Noack and Mark Beasley to each inaugurate a discursive and performative program of one day.

Thursday March 20

The Right To Silence, curated and presented by Lawrence Abu Hamdan

A daylong exploration of how voices are both heard and silenced; listening itself will be interpreted in its many forms and affects, allowing us to understand both the frontiers of the voice and the tireless battle to govern and contain it.

With contributions by Noah Angell, Ali Kaviani (Silent University), Anna Kipervaser, Maha Mamoun and Haytham El-Wardany, Kobe Matthys (Agence), Niall Moore, James Parker and Tom Rice."]

[And more:

"Artist Lawrence Abu Hamdan Demands the Right to Stay Silent"
http://www.vice.com/read/artist-lawrence-abu-hamdan-demands-the-right-to-stay-silent-981

"THE RIGHT TO SILENCE: An event series in three parts"
http://www.electra-productions.com/projects/2012/silence/overview.shtml

"Lawrence Abu Hamdan on Contra Diction: Speech Against Itself"
http://www.newmuseum.org/calendar/view/452/lawrence-abu-hamdan-s-contra-diction-speech-against-itself

"LAWRENCE ABU HAMDAN: THE POLITICAL IMPLICATIONS OF SOUND AND SILENCE"
http://www.digicult.it/articles/lawrence-abu-hamdan-the-political-implications-of-sound-and-silence/

"The Right To Silence I"
http://www.theshowroom.org/events/the-right-to-silence-i

"The Right To Silence II"
http://www.theshowroom.org/events/the-right-to-silence-ii

"Lawrence Abu Hamdan: Aural Contract: The Freedom of Speech Itself"
http://www.theshowroom.org/exhibitions/lawrence-abu-hamdan-aural-contract-the-freedom-of-speech-itself
http://sound-art-text.com/post/34633829824/lawrence-abu-hamdan-aural-contract-the-freedom ]
via:caseygollan  lawrenceabuhamdan  listening  politcs  humanrights  tolisten  borders  law  internationallaw  testimony  truth  audio  politics  saysnayaprison  damascus  syria  amnestyinternational  forensiclistening  gunshots  birds  soundscapes  classideas  earwitnesses  hearing  anajanecski 
november 2016 by robertogreco
Trust Me - Freakonomics Freakonomics
"Societies where people trust one another are healthier and wealthier. In the U.S. (and the U.K. and elsewhere), social trust has been falling for decades — in part because our populations are more diverse. What can we do to fix it?"



"HALPERN: We almost seem to hardly notice that it’s there. So it’s incredibly consequential and we see it in lots of areas of policy that we touch on.

DUBNER: So you write this about low trust: “Low trust implies a society where you have to keep an eye over your shoulder, where deals need lawyers instead of handshakes, where you don’t see the point of paying your tax or recycling your rubbish since you doubt your neighbor will do so, and where employ your cousin or your brother-in-law to work for you rather than a stranger who’d probably be much better at the job.” So that has all kinds of business and ultimately economic implications. However, when you talk about high trust being good for us on a personal level, whether it’s health or individual income, do the two necessarily go in hand? In other words, can we have a society that has a business climate where there isn’t a lot of trust and, therefore, you do need all those lawyers instead of the handshakes, but where you have good social trust among neighbors, family and friends, communities and so on, or are they really the same thing that you’re talking about?

HALPERN: Well, there is a key distinction and Bob Putnam has often made this too, between what’s sometimes called bonding social capital and bridging social capital.

PUTNAM: Social capital is about social networks. But not all social networks are identical, and one important distinction is between ties that link us to other people like us, that’s called bonding social capital.

HALPERN: Bonding social capital often refers to your closeness to your friends, your relatives, those that are immediately around you. It’s particularly important, it turns out for, things such as health outcomes.

PUTNAM: Because, empirically, if you get sick, the people who are likely to bring you chicken soup are likely to represent your bonding social capital."



"PUTNAM: What strategies I would want to emphasize for moving in a positive direction would be more contexts in which people connect with one another across lines of race or economics or gender or age."



"HALPERN: People that go to university end up trusting much more than those who don’t, particularly when they go away residentially. It doesn’t look like it’s explained by income alone. So there’s something about the experience of going off as a young person in an environment where you have lots of other young people from different backgrounds and so on, hopefully, and different ethnicities. You learn the habits of trust because you’re in an environment where you can trust other people; they are trustworthy. And you internalize these habits and you take them with you the rest of your life. So we tend to not think of going away to university as being the reason why you’re doing it is to build social capital and social trust, we think about learning skills and so on, but it may well be that it has as much, or even more value, in terms of culturing social trust going forward. The question is: do you have to do that in university, can you do it another way? So in the U.K., following partly an American lead, the government has championed a national citizen service. And what this means is for every young person, essentially a 17-year-old, increasingly, starts off with a — not everyone does it alone, but more and more every single year, goes and does voluntary experience, community service. This deliberately includes a couple of weeks which are residential and deliberately includes mixing with people from all different walks of life. Look, it’s only limited data, but in terms of before-and-after data, we see significant impacts in terms of higher levels of trust between groups and individuals, as well as instantly higher levels of life satisfaction and well-being too. So it looks like we can do something about it."



"HALPERN: In the most recent data, it looks like it’s one of the biggest risers. So the Netherlands had pretty similar levels of social trust in the 1980s to America and the U.K., but whereas we have now drifted down towards sort of 30-odd percent, they are now up close to 70 percent in levels of those who think others can be trusted.

DUBNER: What would you say it’s caused by?

HALPERN: Well, I mean, one of the characteristics of the Netherlands, and you have to be a bit careful when you pick off one country, is it has wrestled quite hard with the issues of, not just inequality, but social differences. They’ve really tried to do a lot in relation to making people essentially build cohesion. Particularly Amsterdam, is a very famous area for — it’s long been an extremely multicultural city. It’s had issues over that over time, but they’ve really in a sort of succession of governments have tried to quite actively make groups get along with each other in quite an active way. So that may itself, of course, root in the Netherlands, it’s quite a deep culture of a strong sense of the law, being trustworthy and that contracts will be honored and so on. It’s what helped to power its economic success in previous centuries, so it does have that tradition also to draw on."



"PUTNAM: I looked hard to find explanations and television, I argued, is really bad for social connectivity for many reasons.

“More television watching,” Putnam wrote, “means less of virtually every form of civic participation and social involvement.”

HALPERN: As Bob sometimes put it, I think, rather elegantly, when we were looking forward in terms of technology or the Internet and of course, even pre-Facebook and so on, would it be, in his words, a “fancy television”? In other words, it will isolate us more and more. Or would it be a “fancy telephone” and would connect us more and more? Because technology has both those capabilities. So when I played video games when I was a kid, you basically did them mostly by yourself or with a friend. When I look at my teenage kids playing videos, they’re actually talking to each other all the time. To some extent it looks like, to me, that we get the technology that we want, and even this is true at sort of a societal level. So one of the arguments you can make, in my view is true anyway, by explaining some of these differences in the trajectories across countries is in Anglo-Saxon countries, we’ve often used our wealth to buy technology and other experiences. That means we don’t have to deal with other people — the inconveniences of having to go to a concert where I have to listen to music I really like, I can just stay at home and just watch what I want and so on and choose it. And even in the level of, if I think about my kids versus me growing up, I mean when I was growing up we had one TV and there were five kids in the household. You know, had to really negotiate pretty hard about what we were going to watch. My kids don’t have to do that and probably not yours either. There are more screens in the house than there are people. They can all go off and do their own thing. To some extent, that is us using our wealth to escape from having to negotiate with other people, but that isn’t necessarily the case. Some people and some countries seem to use their wealth more to find ways of connecting more with other people. And the technology has both these capabilities and we can’t just blame it. It’s the choices we’re making and how we use it and the technology which we’re, kind of, asking and bringing forth.

DUBNER: It reminds me a bit of — we once looked into the global decline of hitchhiking, for instance. One of the central reasons being that people no longer trusted strangers to not kill each other, really, is what it boiled down to, even though there was apparently very little killing involved, but just the fear of one. And yet now, Uber is a 60-some billion-dollar company that’s basically all about using technology to lure a complete stranger into your car. Which, I guess, argues, if nothing else, the fact that technology can be harnessed very much in either direction.

HALPERN: That’s right. Indeed, so, as you say, there’s actually two points here, and there’s a really important behavioral one, which I think we’ve only figured out in recent years to bring together these different literatures, how does it relate to behavioral scientists versus those people studying social capital? We look like we have certain systematic biases about how we estimate whether we think other people can be trusted. And in essence, we overestimate quite systematically the prevalence of bad behavior. We overestimate the number of people who are cheating on their taxes or take a sickie off work or do other kinds of bad things. This doesn’t seem to be just the media, although that may reinforce it. It seems to be a bit how we’re wired as human beings. So why is that relevant and why does this have to do with technology? Actually, technology can help you solve some of those issues. So when you’re buying something on eBay or you’re trying to decide where to go using, you know Trip Advisor, you’re actually getting some much better information from the experiences of other people as opposed to your guesstimate, which is often systematically biased. So it turns out it’s a way we can sometimes use technology to solve some of these trust issues. Not just in relation to specific products and “Should I buy this thing from this person?” but, potentially, more generally in relation to how do we trust other people because, ultimately, this social trust question must rest on something. It must be a measure of actual trustworthiness. "
trust  diversity  socialtrust  2016  us  society  socialunity  via:davidtedu  trustworthiness  socialcapital  australia  uk  netherlands  davidhalpern  stephendubner  bobputnam  italy  corruption  socialnetworks  civics  government  governance  community  brazil  brasil  norway  edglaeser  tobymoscowitz  hunterwendelstedt  ethnicity  stockholm  education  colleges  universities  military  athletics  multiculturalism  culture  law  economics  behavior  technology  videogames  socialmedia  television  tv  toolsforconviviality  hitchhiking 
november 2016 by robertogreco
The Long History of America's Constitutionally-Challenged 'Border Zones' | Atlas Obscura
"The extension of Customs and Border Patrol's mandate to a 100-mile zone has alarmed civil liberties' groups for years."

"Recently Maria Abi-Habib, a journalist at the Wall Street Journal, had a troubling experience. As she detailed on Facebook (picked up by Motherboard), customs agents at Los Angeles airport tried to take her phones after grilling her for an hour—something she protested as a violation of her rights. But it went further than that. "My rights as a journalist or U.S. citizen do not apply at the border," she wrote, "since legislation was passed in 2013 giving DHS very broad powers."

This is true, but the meaning of "border", a concept that one normally assumes is a hard line, has been shifting for much longer than that. In particular, a technical definition in federal regulations established in 1953 has resulted in 100-mile “border zones,” sometimes encompassing entire states, and some groups becoming increasingly alarmed by the implications of such wide-ranging border areas.

In 1952, the government authorized the United States Border Patrol (initially established in 1924) to patrol “all territory within 25 miles of a land border” and board and search vehicles for illegal aliens, according to the website of its successor agency, the U.S. Customs and Border Patrol (CBP). Immigration officers—then and now—receive their authority from Title 8 of the Code of Federal Regulations. Currently, section 287 of Title 8 of the Code of Federal Regulations authorizes immigration officers to search and interrogate, without warrant, any person suspected of being in the United States illegally within a “reasonable distance” of any external boundary of the United States. In 1953, the Department of Justice amended section 287.1 of 8 CFR to define “reasonable distance” as 100 miles, a distance the American Civil Liberties Union insinuates was arbitrarily determined.

“[O]ther than their presence in these publications, there is no public history as to why the Justice Department chose 100 miles as the ‘reasonable distance’ from the border under the INA. It may simply be that 100 miles has a history of being the distance considered to be reasonable regarding the availability of witnesses for examination, responses to subpoenas, and numerous other discovery issues under other federal laws,” the ACLU notes in their fact sheet on the issue.

Given that over two-thirds of the U.S. population lives within 100 miles of an external boundary, the ACLU and others argue that the 100-mile distance—coupled with the expanded mandates afforded to immigration officers as part of the “wars” on drugs and terrorism—creates “border zones” where ordinary American citizens could be caught up in warrantless searches and interrogations with no legal recourse.

Journalist Todd Miller provided a gripping depiction of the alarming scenario in a 2013 article written for the Nation, which he opened with a dramatic recounting of U.S. citizen Shena Gutierrez’s detention by CBP agents in Arizona:
Shena Gutierrez was already cuffed and in an inspection room in Nogales, Arizona, when the Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agent grabbed her purse, opened it, and dumped its contents onto the floor right in front of her. There couldn’t be a sharper image of the Bill of Rights rollback we are experiencing in the US borderlands in the post-9/11 era.


While Gutierrez’s story is a gripping reminder of the protections provided by the Bill of Rights—and the brutality that could be visited upon any citizen if those protections are undermined—it’s reasonable to question whether such a blatant violation of citizens’ rights could occur to any person living in Maine, Vermont, or any of the other states entirely within the 100-mile zone without public outcry.

According to a 2013 blog post from the National Constitution Center, the ACLU and other groups are overstating the threats to constitutional rights within the border zone. Citing two 2009 analysis papers from the Congressional Research Service, the NCC argues that because border agents must have a reasonable suspicion of criminal activity, and because they can only search individuals who have recently crossed the border, most searches should not violate the Fourth Amendment’s protection against unlawful search and seizure; the NCC does, however, note that searches at border stops and airports do not require reasonable suspicion.

The requirement of “reasonableness” has, in fact, been used by federal courts to uphold the legality of warrantless searches in the border zone, as Kate Huddlestone notes in a legal note published in the Yale Law Journal examining the constitutionality of Texas House Bill 2 vis-a-vis the burden it places on undocumented immigrants within border zones. Essentially, because people live and work in border zones, immigration officers must have a reasonable suspicion to conduct a search; if border zones were purely areas of transit (like an airport), officers could (and, as we all know, do) search everyone, no suspicion required.

Of course, illegal searches can and do happen, all the time. But the 100-mile border zones established over 70 years ago may not be the Constitution-free lands of unauthorized search and seizure some fear. Regardless, the border zones serve as a timely reminder that national borders aren’t as cut-and-dry as putting up a wall."
border  borders  us  mexico  2016  policy  law  legal  airports  transit  migration  canada  maine  vermont  arizona  borderpatrol 
august 2016 by robertogreco
What's deadly dull and can save the world? (Hint: We can't stand it)
"What do poor people need most? Food? Healthcare? Education? The answer is as surprising as it is simple. And it can be found under fluorescent lights and modular ceilings."



"“Do you live here?” I say.

“Yes, over there.” He points his spoon at a shack with a corrugated roof, walls made from advertising signs, and – unusual for this neighborhood – a window, salvaged from a bus, frame and all.

“Have you been here long?”

“Since the earthquake.”

That was five years ago. In the meantime, billions of euros in aid money have been pumped into Haiti, including millions from the Netherlands. Yet Lebrun – along with more than half the country’s population – still lives below the poverty line.

“If you could name one thing that would really change your life, what would it be?” I say. I'm expecting him to say a better house, or more food, or a doctor, or education for his kids. I'm expecting him to mention one of the things relief money often provides.

But Sony Lebrun grins broadly at me, revealing a missing tooth, and says, “What would help me most? A land registry.”

I assume I’ve misheard.

“A land registry,” he repeats, smiling.

A land registry. An agency where you can officially affirm that the land you’re building your house or planting your food on is your own. Lebrun would love to build a brick house, he says. He wants to save up for the materials. But what if someone shows up at his door one day claiming to own the land? His savings would be gone in a heartbeat.

What Lebrun needs is security – security he can build a future on. And he needs agencies to safeguard that security. What Lebrun needs is bureaucracy."



"Development organizations are starting to take notice. Along with food, schoolbooks and mosquito nets, one agency after the other has started donating paperwork, Excel sheets and bookkeeping courses. They call it “capacity building.”

For instance, the OECD sends idealistic experts from the group Tax Inspectors Without Borders to help developing countries. Because poorer nations don’t just suffer from a shortage of tax inspectors: they also often lack the knowledge needed to bring crafty multinationals to book.

British tax veteran Lee Corrick went to Kenya in 2011 to train local inspectors. For years, the Kenyan tax office had had problems with a big multinational company – something to do with tea auction license rights and letters of credit. It sounds overly complicated, and the Kenyans thought so too. But after two workshops with Corrick and a stern talk with the multinational, the Kenyan tax office managed to collect $23 million. In fact, revenues from Kenyan tax inspections doubled after Corrick came to town. And in Colombia, the take increased tenfold after training.

And the effects of Lebrun’s longed-for land registry are being studied in a growing number of developing countries. A few months ago, World Bank researchers published a paper on land registration in Benin. containing the first results of an experiment in Benin. In one area, farmers’ land was officially added to a land registry; in another, it wasn't. The researchers then looked at how the farmers used their land.

Here’s what they found: farmers who owned their land on paper invested more. For example, they more often planted trees, such as oil palms, that would continue to provide income all their lives. And since they no longer feared their land would be snatched out from under them, they spent less time guarding it. That left them more time to do other things – like earn money. Similar results have been seen in Rwanda and Ethiopia.

Why doesn’t Haiti have a land registry?

The big question, then, is: why, in spite of all the aid money and relief organizations, does Haiti still not have a land registry? If development economists and slum dwellers like Sony Lebrun are calling for bureaucracy outright, why don’t we all – aid organizations, governments, companies – get behind it 100%?

The answer is simple. Bureaucracy is boring.

To convince people to donate money and persuade taxpayers their money is being well spent, you need pretty pictures. A TV ad showing a sweetly smiling Haitian girl who’s just gotten her first school uniform works better than one with a blah bureaucrat in a fluorescent-lit office drawing lines on paper with a ruler. Pictures of starving children with distended bellies still bring in the most money, research shows. And so all too often, capacity building remains the neglected stepchild.

But the truth is, real progress is a gradual, thoroughly bureaucratic, deadly dull process. Saving the world isn’t sexy.

We need to update our image of what it looks like to change the world. The superheroes aren’t the people handing out well-intentioned teddy bears to smiling toddlers; they’re the nondescript worker bees printing out forms in gray offices.

Yes, it’s invisible work. Yes, it’s boring. But the people who will genuinely save the world won’t have throngs of kids hanging onto their superhero capes. The people who will save the world will sit hunched over heaps of files, stamping one certificate after another, sporting an office pallor. The people who will save the world will give Sony Lebrun what he wants: the bureaucratic security he needs to build a future."
bureaucracy  landregistries  law  legal  haiti  ownership  security  2016  maitevermeulen  governance  rwanda  ethiopia  land  landregistration  kenya 
july 2016 by robertogreco
How Kids Just Being Kids Became a Crime | TakePart
"There’s a story that liberals like to tell about “underprivileged” children and the government, a story about how the state has abandoned such kids to historical inequity, uncaring market forces, bad parenting, and their own tangle of pathologies. We talk about the need to “invest” in communities and in the children themselves. Analysts speak of “underserved” communities as if the state were an absentee parent. If kids are falling behind, they need an after-school program or longer days or no more summer vacation. A combination of well-tailored government programs and personal responsibility—a helping hand and a working hand to grab it—are supposed to fix the problem over time. Pathologies will attenuate, policy makers will learn to write and implement better policies, and we can all live happily ever after.

There’s just one fly in the ointment: The best research says that’s not how the relationship works. The state is as present in young Americans’ lives as ever.

For his 2011 ethnography Punished: Policing the Lives of Black and Latino Boys, sociologist Victor M. Rios went back to the Oakland, California, neighborhood where he was raised a few decades earlier to talk to and learn from a few dozen young men growing up in a so-called underserved neighborhood. What he discovered was a major shift in how the law treated the young men he was working with.

“The poor,” Rios writes, “at least in this community, have not been abandoned by the state. Instead, the state has become deeply embedded in their everyday lives, through the auspices of punitive social control.” He observed police officers playing a cat-and-mouse game with the kids, reminding them that they were always at the mercy of the law enforcement apparatus, regardless of their actions. The young men were left “in constant fear of being humiliated, brutalized, or arrested.” Punished details the shift within the state’s relationship with the poor and the decline of a social-welfare model in favor of a social-control model. If the state is a parent, it’s not absent—it’s physically and psychologically abusive.

One of the things Rios does well in Punished is talk about the way just existing as a target for the youth control complex is hard work. Simply trying to move through the city—walking around or waiting for the bus—can turn into a high-stakes test at a moment’s notice. Rios calls the labor the young men he observed do to maintain their place in society “dignity work.” The police exist in part to keep some people on the margin of freedom, always threatening to exclude them. Nuisance policing comes down hard on young people, given as they are to cavorting in front of others. Kids don’t own space anywhere, so most of their socializing takes place in public. The police are increasingly unwilling to cede any space at all to kids: patrolling parks, making skateboarding a crime, criminalizing in-school misbehavior.

“Today’s working-class youths encounter a radically different world than they would have encountered just a few decades ago,” Rios writes. The data back him up: According to a 2012 study from the American Academy of Pediatrics, “since the last nationally defensible estimate based on data from 1965, the cumulative prevalence of arrest for American youth (particularly in the period of late adolescence and early adulthood) has increased substantially.” Now, 30 to 40 percent of young Americans will be arrested by the age of 23. When researchers broke it down by race and gender, they found 38 percent of white boys, 44 percent of Hispanic boys, and 49 percent of black boys were affected. (For young women it was 12 percent across the board.)

Dignity work, then, has intensified. It’s harder than ever for kids to stay clear of the law. The trends in policing (increasingly arbitrary, increasingly racist, and just plain increasing) have played out the same way in schools. This is how researcher Kathleen Nolan describes the changes in one New York City high school in her book Police in the Hallways: “Handcuffs, body searches, backpack searches, standing on line to walk through metal detectors, confrontations with law enforcement, ‘hallway sweeps,’ and confinement in the detention room had become common experiences for students.... Penal management had become an overarching theme, and students had grown accustomed to daily interactions with law enforcement.” Interacting with law enforcement is not just work—it’s dangerous work. Especially when the school cops have assault rifles.

There are many explanations for the rise of American mass incarceration—the drug war, more aggressive prosecutors, the ’90s crime boom triggering a prison boom that started growing all on its own, a tough-on-crime rhetorical arms race among politicians, the rationalization of police work—and a lot of them can be true at the same time. Whatever the reasons, the U.S. incarceration rate has quintupled since the ’70s. It’s affecting young black men most of all and more disproportionately than ever. The white rate of imprisonment has risen in relative terms but not as fast as the black rate, which has spiked. The ratio between black and white incarcerations increased more between 1975 and 2000 than in the 50 years preceding. Considering the progressive story about the arc of racial justice, this is a crushing truth.

Mass incarceration, at least as much as rationalization or technological improvement, is a defining aspect of contemporary American society. In her book The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness, law professor Michelle Alexander gives a chilling description of where we are as a nation: “The stark and sobering reality is that, for reasons largely unrelated to actual crime trends, the American penal system has emerged as a system of social control unparalleled in world history.”

The rise of racist mass incarceration has started to enter the national consciousness, but though it coincides with millennials’ growth and development, most commentators don’t connect the two. If the change in the way we arrest and imprison people is a defining aspect of contemporary America—and I believe it more than qualifies—then it follows that the criminal justice system also defines contemporary Americans. Far from being the carefree space cadets the media likes to depict us as, millennials are cagey and anxious, as befits the most policed modern generation. Much of what a few decades ago might have been looked on as normal adolescent high jinks—running around a mall, shoplifting, horsing around on trains, or drinking beer in a park after dark—is now fuel for the cat-and-mouse police games that Rios describes. One look at the news tells us it’s a lethal setup."
children  youth  adolescence  poverty  class  government  legal  law  2016  malcolmharris  schools  underprivileged  inequity  inequality  victorrios  schooltoprisonpipeline  race  racism  police  policing  lawenforcement  criminalization  socialcontrol  abuse  behavior  skating  skateboarding  dignity  policy  prisonindustrialcomplex  massincarceration  newjimcrow  michellealexander  crime  prisons  skateboards 
july 2016 by robertogreco
Radiolab Presents: More Perfect | WNYC
"How does an elite group of nine people shape everything from marriage and money, to safety and sex for an entire nation? Radiolab's first ever spin-off series, More Perfect, dives into the rarefied world of the Supreme Court to explain how cases deliberated inside hallowed halls affect lives far away from the bench. Produced by WNYC Studios."
radiolab  podcasts  history  scotus  supremecourt  us  law 
july 2016 by robertogreco
In New Zealand, Lands and Rivers Can Be People (Legally Speaking) - The New York Times
"Can a stretch of land be a person in the eyes of the law? Can a body of water?

In New Zealand, they can. A former national park has been granted personhood, and a river system is expected to receive the same soon.

The unusual designations, something like the legal status that corporations possess, came out of agreements between New Zealand’s government and Maori groups. The two sides have argued for years over guardianship of the country’s natural features.

Chris Finlayson, New Zealand’s attorney general, said the issue was resolved by taking the Maori mind-set into account. “In their worldview, ‘I am the river and the river is me,’” he said. “Their geographic region is part and parcel of who they are.”

From 1954 to 2014, Te Urewera was an 821-square-mile national park on the North Island, but when the Te Urewera Act took effect, the government gave up formal ownership, and the land became a legal entity with “all the rights, powers, duties and liabilities of a legal person,” as the statute puts it.

“The settlement is a profound alternative to the human presumption of sovereignty over the natural world,” said Pita Sharples, who was the minister of Maori affairs when the law was passed.

It was also “undoubtedly legally revolutionary” in New Zealand “and on a world scale,” Jacinta Ruru of the University of Otago wrote in the Maori Law Review.

Personhood means, among other things, that lawsuits to protect the land can be brought on behalf of the land itself, with no need to show harm to a particular human.

Next will be the Whanganui River, New Zealand’s third longest. The local Maori tribe views it as “an indivisible and living whole, comprising the river and all tributaries from the mountains to the sea — and that’s what we are giving effect to through this settlement,” Mr. Finlayson said. It is expected to clear Parliament and become law this year.

Visitors can still enjoy Te Urewera the way they could when it was a park. “We want to welcome people; public access is completely preserved,” Mr. Finlayson said. But permits for activities like hunting are now issued by a board that includes government and Maori representatives. A similar board will be set up for the river.

Could this legal approach spread beyond New Zealand? Mr. Finlayson said he had talked the idea over with Canada’s new attorney general, Jody Wilson-Raybould."
newzealand  land  rivers  law  legal  nature  2016  maori  personhood  via:anne 
july 2016 by robertogreco
Life under curfew for American teens: ‘it’s insane, no other country does this’ | US news | The Guardian
"Tonight though, leniency was in short supply. “Happy hunting,” was how commanding officer, Sgt Jay Moser, kicked off the sweep at the Boys & Girls Club. By 10.13pm four kids were under arrest and six more came in throughout the night. That’s an average number, says Moser. Some nights it’s higher – the division record is about 50. Others it’s lower, especially recently. “That’s not a failure,” Lt Ziegler says of the decline in numbers, which is probably a combination of police getting the word out about curfews and kids becoming more savvy at avoiding sweeps. “Basically it means that we’re doing our jobs.”

Bardis Vakili with the ACLU of San Diego questions the premise that curfews, and curfew sweeps, are the best tactic. Calling the approach “very heavy-handed”, he says that it has a lasting effect on kids. “[What is does] is cite them, offer diversion programs that are difficult to complete, and ends up in involvement in the criminal justice system,” he said, suggesting expanded after-hours options for youth instead. At the very least, he would liked to see “a real dialogue” around the topic.

One problem is that analysis of curfews is relatively scant, and opinions often fall in the more emotional realm. “It’s a gut-level sort of response,” said Councilmember Emerald, when asked about her support for the laws. “It’s not real scientific, is it?” The data though, does exist, with the California Criminal Justice Statistics Center (CJSC) keeping detailed statistics stretching from 1980 to 2014.

While officials in San Diego reject the notion of racial bias in the city’s curfew law, a Guardian analysis clearly shows that it has a disproportionate impact on minorities, especially Hispanics. In 2010, Hispanic youth accounted for 59% of all curfew arrests, as opposed to 16% for white youth. Comparatively, census figures for the same year put the city’s population at 28.8% Hispanic and 45.1% white. The data also shows that diversion programs are indeed keeping more kids of all races out of the courts. In 2011, a majority of curfew cases were handled within the department for the first time in decades. That trend has continued, with only about a third of curfew cases going to juvenile probation 2014.

As to whether the curfew actually reduces crime, critical findings like Males’s are often countered with University of California professor Patrick Kline’s research, which concludes that “curfews are effective at reducing both violent and property crimes.” The Voice of San Diego took perhaps the closest look at the situation locally.

A 2012 article challenges the alleged benefits, finding that “neighborhoods without the sweeps have reported greater drops in crime in the last five years than those with them.” Males says that, again, he’s seen a similar, broader, pattern in his research. Noting that between truancy laws and curfews kids could conceivably only be allowed outside for a few hours a day, he says, “the underlying assumption [is] that most youth are criminals.”"
sandiego  youth  lawenforcement  police  2016  curfews  law  children  teens 
may 2016 by robertogreco
The Parliament of Things: Into Latour and His Philosophy
"Researching the conversations between Things, Animals, Plants and People and design the House of The Parliament of Things."



"The Parliament of Things is a speculative research into the emancipation of animals and things. It acknowledges that mankind has reached the end of an anthropocentric world. We can no longer maintain the distorted dichotomy between culture and nature. We share this world with many. Law should not be centred around Men, but around Life. We are just one party, among all animals, plants and objects. What if we welcome all things into our Parliament? What would be the plight of the planet? The reasoning of a fish? What claims would trees make, and what future would oil see for itself?

Do you you want to join? Send us an e-mail: info@theparliamentofthings.org

We at Partizan Publik have invented the Parliament and are playing the role of clerk by bringing it to you. The writer’s contest was a collaborative project that was organized by several partners. In the winter and spring of 2016 we invite several organizations to build the Parliament with us."



"We Have Never Been Modern and the Parliament of Things

Introduction

In We Have Never Been Modern (1991) Bruno Latour criticizes the distinction between nature and society. He states that our sciences emphasize the subject-object and nature-culture dichotomies, whereas in actuality, phenomenons often cross these lines. As an example, he mentions the hole in the ozone layer, and the different ways the sciences should look at it: ‘Can anyone imagine a study that would treat the ozone hole as simultaneously naturalized, sociologized and deconstucted?’ (6). With this mentioning of the hole in the ozone layer (as well as, among other things, computer chips, Monsanto, and aids) he gives an example of things or phenomena that are not merely objects, but that are hybrids between nature and culture.

With regards to the title of this work, Latour argues that this dualism between subject and object is a ‘modern’ mode of classification, and that this modern mode does not actually correspond with the practical ways in which we live. Thus, this modern dualism actually has never existed: we have never been modern.

The Constitution

‘Modernity is often defined in terms of humanism, either as a way of saluting the birth of ‘man’ or as a way of announcing his death. But this habit itself is modern, because (…) [i]t overlooks the simultaneous birth of ‘nonhumanity’ – things, or objects, or beasts (…)’ (13)

In this chapter, the question at hand is about the constitution. ‘Who is to write the full constitution?’, Latour asks (14). For political constitutions, this is normally done by jurists and Founding Fathers; for the nature of things, this is the task of scientists. But, if we want to include hybrids as well, who is going to write the complete constitution?

Latour calls this complete constitution the ‘Constitution’ with a capital C, to distinguish it from the political one. It defines ‘humans and nonhumans, their properties and their relations, their abilities and their groupings’ (14).

Hobbes & Boyle

When discussing the separation between science and politics, Latour uses the dispute between Robert Boyle and Thomas Hobbes as an example. Boyle can be seen as the founder of modern science – he developed the methodology in which scientists observe a phenomenon produced artificially in a laboratory (in Boyle’s case, the workings of a vacuum pump, in our case, for example, CERN).

Hobbes, on the other hand, rejected this manner of analysis, and focused on theorizing social and political order in terms of human conflicts and agreements. ‘Boyle and Hobbes, then, jointly constructed the program for purifying the discourses of nature and society – expunging from each the traces of the other’ (Pickering). This distinction between science and politics is not just typical for ‘modernity’, but actually defines it, as Latour argues: ‘they are inventing our modern world, a world in which the representation of things through the intermediary of the laboratory is forever dissociated from the representation of citizens through the intermediary of the social contract’ (Latour 27).

Hybrids

Latour established that the modern constitution ‘invents a separation between scientific power charged with representing things and the political power charged with representing subjects’ (29). However, he states we should not think that subjects are far removed from things. Even though Hobbes and Boyle create this distinction, they still speak about the same things: God, the politics of the King of England, nature, mathematics, and spirits and angels, to name a few. It becomes clear that in practice, this separation between science and politics, and nature and culture, does not hold. As Latour states:

Here lies the entire modern paradox. If we consider hybrids, we are dealing only with mixtures of nature and culture; if we consider the work of purification, we confront a total separation between nature and culture.’ (30)

The paradox of modernity, thus, is that we divided the world into two groups –

nature (science) and culture (politics) – but at the same time, in our daily lives, we constantly deal with hybrids between these two groups. But this division renders ‘the work of mediation that assembles hybrids invisible, unthinkable, unrepresentable’ (35). As Latour succinctly puts it: ‘the modern constitution allows the expanded proliferation of the hybrids whose existence, whose very possibility, it denies’ (35).

We Have Never Been Modern

‘Modernity has never begun’, Latour argues. Instead, he calls himself a ‘nonmodern’: ‘A nonmodern is anyone who takes simultaneously into account the moderns’ Constitution and the population of hybrids that that Constitution rejects and allows to proliferate’ (47). He states that hybrids – also called monsters, cyborgs, tricksters – are ‘just about everything; they compose not only our own collectives but also the others, illegitimately called premodern’ (47). So only minor changes separate our era from the periods that were before, Latour states.

Revolution

In this part, Latour discusses the action that has to be undertaken to acknowledge the existence and the importance of hybrids:

When the only thing at stake was the emergence of a few vacuum pumps, they could still be subsumed under two classes, that of natural laws and that of political representations; but when we find ourselves invaded by frozen embryos, expert systems, digital machines, sensor-equipped robots, hybrid corn, data banks, psychotropic drugs, whales outfitted with radar sounding devices, gene synthesizers, audience analyzers, and so on, when our daily newspapers display all these monsters on page after page, and when none of these chimera can be properly on the object side or on the subject side, or even in between, something has to be done. (50)

Latour calls for the need to outline a space that encompasses both the practice of purification as well as that of mediation. ‘By deploying both dimensions at once, we may be able to accomodate the hybrids and give them a place, a name, a home, a philosophy, an ontology and, I hope, a new constitution’ (51).

Quasi-Objects

Latour tries to locate the position of hybrids, quasi-objects and quasi-subjects by first problematizing the status of the social scientist. He argues that the social scientist, on the one hand, shows that ‘the power of gods, the objectivity of money, the attraction of fashion (…)’ have no intrinsic value, but ‘offer only a surface for the projection of our social needs and interests’ (52). To become a social scientist, Latour states, ‘is to realize that the inner properties of objects do not count, that they are mere receptacles for human categories’ (52).

On the other hand, social scientists also debunk the belief in the freedom of the human subject: they show how the ‘nature of things (…) determines, informs and moulds’ humans (53). So, Latour states that the social scientist ‘see[s] double’:

In the first denunciation, objects count for nothing; they are just there to be used as the white screens on to which society projects its cinema. But in the second, they are so powerful that they shape the human society, while the social construction of the sciences that have produced them remains invisible. (53)

The solution to these contradictory beliefs is dualism, much to Latour’s disapproval. The nature pole is divided into ‘hard’ and ‘soft’ parts, the same partition is made for the subject/society pole. ‘Dualism may be a poor solution, but it provided 99 per cent of the social sciences’ critical repertoire’ (54).

Latour, instead, states objects are society’s co-producters. ‘Is not society built literally – not metaphorically – of gods, machines, sciences, arts and styles?’ (54). He argues we should not focus too much on dialectics, as dialectics foreground the existing dichotomies; instead, he focuses on quasi-objects.

Quasi-objects are in between and below the two poles (…) [and] are much more social, much more fabricated, much more collective than the ‘hard’ parts of nature (…), [yet] they are much more real, nonhuman and objective than those shapeless screens on which society (…) needed to be ‘projected’. (55)

By focusing on the two poles rather than on that what is in between, ‘science studies have forced everyone to rethink anew the role of objects in the construction of collectives, thus challenging philosophy’ (55).

Relativism

In this chapter, Latour treats the function of anthropology and the role it might be able to play, as well as the concepts of symmetry and asymmetry. If anthropology is to become symmetrical, ‘the anthropologist has to position himself at the median point where he can follow the attribution of both nonhuman and human properties’ (96).

To analyse this new field of study, anthropology … [more]
multispecies  objects  plants  animals  brunolatour  robertboyle  thomashobbes  hybrids  modernity  nonmodern  modern  quasi-objects  law  biology  anthropology  entertainment  science  architecture  campainging  literature  things  theparliamentofthings 
april 2016 by robertogreco
manifestos/1985-GNU-manifesto.md at master · greyscalepress/manifestos
"Why I Must Write GNU

I consider that the Golden Rule requires that if I like a program I must share it with other people who like it. Software sellers want to divide the users and conquer them, making each user agree not to share with others. I refuse to break solidarity with other users in this way. I cannot in good conscience sign a nondisclosure agreement or a software license agreement. For years I worked within the Artificial Intelligence Lab to resist such tendencies and other inhospitalities, but eventually they had gone too far: I could not remain in an institution where such things are done for me against my will.

So that I can continue to use computers without dishonor, I have decided to put together a sufficient body of free software so that I will be able to get along without any software that is not free. I have resigned from the AI Lab to deny MIT any legal excuse to prevent me from giving GNU away.(2)"



"Why Many Other Programmers Want to Help

I have found many other programmers who are excited about GNU and want to help.

Many programmers are unhappy about the commercialization of system software. It may enable them to make more money, but it requires them to feel in conflict with other programmers in general rather than feel as comrades. The fundamental act of friendship among programmers is the sharing of programs; marketing arrangements now typically used essentially forbid programmers to treat others as friends. The purchaser of software must choose between friendship and obeying the law. Naturally, many decide that friendship is more important. But those who believe in law often do not feel at ease with either choice. They become cynical and think that programming is just a way of making money.

By working on and using GNU rather than proprietary programs, we can be hospitable to everyone and obey the law. In addition, GNU serves as an example to inspire and a banner to rally others to join us in sharing. This can give us a feeling of harmony which is impossible if we use software that is not free. For about half the programmers I talk to, this is an important happiness that money cannot replace."
gnu  richardstallman  friendship  solidarity  opensource  law  legal  cynicism  via:caseygollan 
march 2016 by robertogreco
Why the Economic Fates of America’s Cities Diverged - The Atlantic
"What accounts for these anomalous and unpredicted trends? The first explanation many people cite is the decline of the Rust Belt, and certainly that played a role."



"Another conventional explanation is that the decline of Heartland cities reflects the growing importance of high-end services and rarified consumption."



"Another explanation for the increase in regional inequality is that it reflects the growing demand for “innovation.” A prominent example of this line of thinking comes from the Berkeley economist Enrico Moretti, whose 2012 book, The New Geography of Jobs, explains the increase in regional inequality as the result of two new supposed mega-trends: markets offering far higher rewards to “innovation,” and innovative people increasingly needing and preferring each other’s company."



"What, then, is the missing piece? A major factor that has not received sufficient attention is the role of public policy. Throughout most of the country’s history, American government at all levels has pursued policies designed to preserve local control of businesses and to check the tendency of a few dominant cities to monopolize power over the rest of the country. These efforts moved to the federal level beginning in the late 19th century and reached a climax of enforcement in the 1960s and ’70s. Yet starting shortly thereafter, each of these policy levers were flipped, one after the other, in the opposite direction, usually in the guise of “deregulation.” Understanding this history, largely forgotten today, is essential to turning the problem of inequality around.

Starting with the country’s founding, government policy worked to ensure that specific towns, cities, and regions would not gain an unwarranted competitive advantage. The very structure of the U.S. Senate reflects a compromise among the Founders meant to balance the power of densely and sparsely populated states. Similarly, the Founders, understanding that private enterprise would not by itself provide broadly distributed postal service (because of the high cost of delivering mail to smaller towns and far-flung cities), wrote into the Constitution that a government monopoly would take on the challenge of providing the necessary cross-subsidization.

Throughout most of the 19th century and much of the 20th, generations of Americans similarly struggled with how to keep railroads from engaging in price discrimination against specific areas or otherwise favoring one town or region over another. Many states set up their own bureaucracies to regulate railroad fares—“to the end,” as the head of the Texas Railroad Commission put it, “that our producers, manufacturers, and merchants may be placed on an equal footing with their rivals in other states.” In 1887, the federal government took over the task of regulating railroad rates with the creation of the Interstate Commerce Commission. Railroads came to be regulated much as telegraph, telephone, and power companies would be—as natural monopolies that were allowed to remain in private hands and earn a profit, but only if they did not engage in pricing or service patterns that would add significantly to the competitive advantage of some regions over others.

Passage of the Sherman Antitrust Act in 1890 was another watershed moment in the use of public policy to limit regional inequality. The antitrust movement that sprung up during the Populist and Progressive era was very much about checking regional concentrations of wealth and power. Across the Midwest, hard-pressed farmers formed the “Granger” movement and demanded protection from eastern monopolists controlling railroads, wholesale-grain distribution, and the country’s manufacturing base. The South in this era was also, in the words of the historian C. Vann Woodward, in a “revolt against the East” and its attempts to impose a “colonial economy.”"



"By the 1960s, antitrust enforcement grew to proportions never seen before, while at the same time the broad middle class grew and prospered, overall levels of inequality fell dramatically, and midsize metro areas across the South, the Midwest, and the West Coast achieved a standard of living that converged with that of America’s historically richest cites in the East. Of course, antitrust was not the only cause of the increase in regional equality, but it played a much larger role than most people realize today.

To get a flavor of how thoroughly the federal government managed competition throughout the economy in the 1960s, consider the case of Brown Shoe Co., Inc. v. United States, in which the Supreme Court blocked a merger that would have given a single distributor a mere 2 percent share of the national shoe market.

Writing for the majority, Supreme Court Chief Justice Earl Warren explained that the Court was following a clear and long-established desire by Congress to keep many forms of business small and local: “We cannot fail to recognize Congress’ desire to promote competition through the protection of viable, small, locally owned business. Congress appreciated that occasional higher costs and prices might result from the maintenance of fragmented industries and markets. It resolved these competing considerations in favor of decentralization. We must give effect to that decision.”

In 1964, the historian and public intellectual Richard Hofstadter would observe that an “antitrust movement” no longer existed, but only because regulators were managing competition with such effectiveness that monopoly no longer appeared to be a realistic threat. “Today, anybody who knows anything about the conduct of American business,” Hofstadter observed, “knows that the managers of the large corporations do their business with one eye constantly cast over their shoulders at the antitrust division.”

In 1966, the Supreme Court blocked a merger of two supermarket chains in Los Angeles that, had they been allowed to combine, would have controlled just 7.5 percent of the local market. (Today, by contrast there are nearly 40 metro areas in the U.S where Walmart controls half or more of all grocery sales.) Writing for the majority, Justice Harry Blackmun noted the long opposition of Congress and the Court to business combinations that restrained competition “by driving out of business the small dealers and worthy men.”

During this era, other policy levers, large and small, were also pulled in the same direction—such as bank regulation, for example. Since the Great Recession, America has relearned the history of how New Deal legislation such as the Glass-Steagall Act served to contain the risks of financial contagion. Less well remembered is how New Deal-era and subsequent banking regulation long served to contain the growth of banks that were “too big to fail” by pushing power in the banking system out to the hinterland. Into the early 1990s, federal laws severely limited banks headquartered in one state from setting up branches in any other state. State and federal law fostered a dense web of small-scale community banks and locally operated thrifts and credit unions.

Meanwhile, bank mergers, along with mergers of all kinds, faced tough regulatory barriers that included close scrutiny of their effects on the social fabric and political economy of local communities. Lawmakers realized that levels of civic engagement and community trust tended to decline in towns that came under the control of outside ownership, and they resolved not to let that happen in their time.

In other realms, too, federal policy during the New Deal and for several decades afterward pushed strongly to spread regional equality. For example, New Deal programs such as the Tennessee Valley Authority, the Bonneville Power Administration, and the Rural Electrification Administration dramatically improved the infrastructure of the South and West. During and after World War II, federal spending on the military and the space program also tilted heavily in the Sunbelt’s favor.

The government’s role in regulating prices and levels of service in transportation was also a huge factor in promoting regional equality. In 1952, the Interstate Commerce Commission ordered a 10-percent reduction in railroad freight rates for southern shippers, a political decision that played a substantial role in enabling the South’s economic ascent after the war. The ICC and state governments also ordered railroads to run money-losing long-distance and commuter passenger trains to ensure that far-flung towns and villages remained connected to the national economy.

Into the 1970s, the ICC also closely regulated trucking routes and prices so they did not tilt in favor of any one region. Similarly, the Civil Aeronautics Board made sure that passengers flying to and from small and midsize cities paid roughly the same price per mile as those flying to and from the largest cities. It also required airlines to offer service to less populous areas even when such routes were unprofitable.

Meanwhile, massive public investments in the interstate-highway system and other arterial roads added enormously to regional equality. First, it vastly increased the connectivity of rural areas to major population centers. Second, it facilitated the growth of reasonably priced suburban housing around high-wage metro areas such as New York and Los Angeles, thus making it much more possible than it is now for working-class people to move to or remain in those areas.

Beginning in the late 1970s, however, nearly all the policy levers that had been used to push for greater regional income equality suddenly reversed direction. The first major changes came during Jimmy Carter’s administration. Fearful of inflation, and under the spell of policy entrepreneurs such as Alfred Kahn, Carter signed the Airline Deregulation Act in 1978. This abolished the Civil Aeronautics Board, which had worked to offer rough regional parity in airfares and levels of service since 1938… [more]
us  cities  policy  economics  history  inequality  via:robinsonmeyer  2016  philliplongman  regulation  deregulation  capitalism  trusts  antitrustlaw  mergers  competition  markets  banks  finance  ronaldreagan  corporatization  intellectualproperty  patents  law  legal  equality  politics  government  rentseeking  innovation  acquisitions  antitrustenforcement  income  detroit  nyc  siliconvalley  technology  banking  peterganong  danielshoag  1950s  1960s  1970s  1980s  1990s  greatdepression  horacegreely  chicago  denver  cleveland  seattle  atlanta  houston  saltlakecity  stlouis  enricomoretti  shermanantitrustact  1890  cvannwoodward  woodrowwilson  1912  claytonantitrustact  louisbrandeis  federalreserve  minneapolis  kansascity  robinson-patmanact  1920s  1930s  miller-tydingsact  fdr  celler-kefauveract  emanuelceller  huberhumphrey  earlwarren  richardhofstadter  harryblackmun  newdeal  interstatecommercecommission  jimmycarter  alfredkahn  airlinederegulationact  1978  memphis  cincinnati  losangeles  airlines  transportation  rail  railroads  1980  texas  florida  1976  amazon  walmart  r 
march 2016 by robertogreco
Orion Magazine | No Man's Land
"In 1500, no one sold land because no one owned it. People in the past did, however, claim and control territory in a variety of ways. Groups of hunters and later villages of herders or farmers found means of taking what they needed while leaving the larger landscape for others to glean from. They certainly fought over the richest hunting grounds and most fertile valleys, but they justified their right by their active use. In other words, they asserted rights of appropriation. We appropriate all the time. We conquer parking spaces at the grocery store, for example, and hold them until we are ready to give them up. The parking spaces do not become ours to keep; the basis of our right to occupy them is that we occupy them. Only until very recently, humans inhabited the niches and environments of Earth somewhat like parking spaces.

Ownership is different from appropriation. It confers exclusive rights derived from and enforced by the state. These rights do not come from active use or occupancy. Property owners can neglect land for years, waiting for the best time to sell it, even if others would put it to better use. And in the absence of laws protecting landscapes, the holders of legal title can mow down a rainforest or drain a wetland without regard to social and ecological cost. Not all owners are destructive or irresponsible, but the imperative to seek maximum profit is built into the assumptions within private property. Land that costs money must make money.

Champions of capitalism don’t see private property as a social practice with a history but as a universal desire—a nearly physical law—that amounts to the very expression of freedom. The economist Friedrich Hayek called it “the most important guarantee of freedom, not only for those who own property, but scarcely less for those who do not.” But Hayek never explained how buyers and sellers of real estate spread a blanket of liberty over their tenants. And he never mentioned the fact that the concept, far from being natural law, was created by nation-states—the notion that someone could claim a bit of the planet all to himself is relatively new.

Every social system falls into contradictions, opposing or inconsistent aspects within its assumptions that have no clear resolution. These can be managed or put off, but some of them are serious enough to undermine the entire system. In the case of private property, there are at least two—and they may throw the very essence of capitalism into illegitimacy."



"Private property’s second contradiction comes from the odd notion that land is a commodity, which is anything produced by human labor and intended for exchange. Land violates the first category, but what about the second? As the historian Karl Polanyi wrote, land is just another name for nature. It’s the essence of human survival. To regard it as an item for exchange “means to subordinate the substance of society itself to the laws of the market.”

Clearly, though, we regard land as a commodity and this seems natural to us. Yet it represents an astonishing revolution in human perception. Real estate is a legal abstraction that we project over ecological space. It allows us to pretend that a thousand acres for sale off some freeway is not part of the breathing, slithering lattice of nonhuman stakeholders. Extending the surveyor’s grid over North America transformed mountain hollows and desert valleys into exchangeable units that became farms, factories, and suburbs. The grid has entered our brains, too: thinking, dealing, and making a living on real estate habituates us to seeing the biosphere as little more than a series of opportunities for moneymaking. Private property isn’t just a legal idea; it’s the basis of a social system that constructs environments and identities in its image.

Advocates of private property usually fail to point out all the ways it does not serve the greater good. Adam Smith famously believed that self-interested market exchange improves everything, but he really offered little more than that hope. He could not have imagined mountains bulldozed and dumped into creeks. He could not have imagined Camden, New Jersey, and other urban sacrifice zones, established by corporations and then abandoned by them. Maximum profit is the singular, monolithic interest at the heart of private property. Only the public can represent all the other human and nonhuman interests.

Unbelievably, perhaps, the United States Congress has done this. Consider one of its greatest achievements: the Endangered Species Act (ESA) of 1973. The act nails the abstraction of real estate to the ground. When a conglomerate of California developers proposed a phalanx of suburbs across part of the Central Valley, they came face to face with their nemesis: the vernal pool fairy shrimp. In 2002, the Supreme Court upheld the shrimp’s status as endangered and blocked construction. It was a case in which the ESA diminished the sacred rights to property for the sake of tiny invertebrates, leaving critics of the law dumbfounded. But those who would repeal the ESA (and all the other environmental legislation of the 1970s) don’t appreciate the contradiction it helps a little to contain: the compulsion to derive endless wealth from a muddy, mossy planet."



"Should private property itself be extinguished? It’s a legitimate question, but there is no clear pathway to a system that would take its place, which could amount to some kind of global commons. Instead I suggest land reform, not the extinguishing of property rights but their radical diffusion. Imagine a space in which people own small homes and gardens but share a larger area of fields and woods. Let’s call such legislation the American Commons Communities Act or the Agrarian Economy Act. A policy of this sort might offer education in sustainable agriculture keyed to acquiring a workable farm in a rural or urban landscape. The United States would further invest in any infrastructure necessary to move crops to markets.

Let’s give abandoned buildings, storefronts, and warehouses to those who would establish communities for the homeless. According to one estimate, there are ten vacant homes for every homeless person. Squatting in unused buildings carries certain social benefits that should be recognized. It prevents the homeless from seeking out the suburban fringe, far from transportation and jobs (though it’s no substitute for dignified public housing). Plenty of people are now planting seeds in derelict city lots. In Los Angeles, an activist named Ron Finley looks for weedy ground anywhere he can find it for what he calls “gangsta gardening,” often challenging absentee owners. In 2013, the California legislature responded to sustained pressure from urban gardeners like Finley and passed the Urban Agriculture Incentive Zones Act, which gives tax breaks to any owner who allows vacant land to be used for “sustainable urban farm enterprise.”

Squatting raises another, much larger question. To what extent should improvements to land qualify one for property rights? The suppression of traditional privileges of appropriation amounts to one of the most revolutionary changes in the last five hundred years. All through the centuries people who worked land they did not own (like squatters and slaves) insisted that their toil granted them title. The United States once endorsed this view. The Homestead Act of 1862 granted 160 acres to any farmer who improved it for five years. Western squatters’ clubs and local preemption laws also endorsed the idea that labor in the earth conferred ownership.

It’s worth remembering that there is nothing about private property that says it must be for private use. Conservation land trusts own vast areas as nonprofit corporations and invite the public to hike and bike. It’s not an erosion of the institution of property but an ingenious reversal of its beneficiaries. But don’t wait for a land trust to be established before you enjoy the fenced up beaches or forests near where you live. Declare the absentee owners trustees of the public good and trespass at will. As long as the land in question is not someone’s home or place of business, signs that say KEEP OUT can, in my view, be morally and ethically ignored. Cross over these boundaries while humming “This Land Is Your Land.” Pick wildflowers, watch sand crabs in the surf, linger on your estate. Violating absentee ownership is a long-held and honorable tradition."
2016  onwership  capitalism  land  friedrichhayek  stevenstoll  squatting  property  socialpractice  socialsystems  privateproperty  homeless  homelessness  ronfinley  farming  gardening  agriculture  commodities  markets  adamsmith  us  law  legal  society  karlpolanyi  enclosure 
march 2016 by robertogreco
The State of the Right to Education Worldwide Free or Fee: Executive Summary
"It is simple. Preventing poor students from studying at the university is bad enough, but forcing primary-school children to work because they are too poor to pay for education which should be free is intolerable.

The State of the Right to Education Worldwide is the first global report to review the education laws and practice in 170 countries and to expose the hypocrisy whereby the right to free and compulsory education is loudly and universally proclaimed, and quietly and systematically betrayed.

Katarina Tomaševski, the first UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Education spent six years compiling this Report before her untimely death in October 2006. The result should serve as a wake up call to all those concerned with global education and poverty reduction. It exposes the global pattern of poverty-based exclusion from primary education, and calls for poverty reduction strategies to use the elimination of economic exclusion from education as a benchmark. The current reality – where education is priced out of reach of the poor – subverts human rights, and denies another generation its birthright: free and compulsory education worthy of the name."



"Human rights law defines what governments should and should not do. Amongst the should-dos, ensuring education for all children tops the list. Using human rights as the lens for examining education necessitates challenging exclusion from education and also asking what education is for. Schooling, which is what global targets prioritize, is not the end but merely the means for education. Without human rights safeguards, compulsory education can amount to institutionalization of indoctrination. Many governments today neither provide education for all, nor know who are educating the youth. The right to education also demands that public authorities take charge of education because it is simply too dangerous not to do so. Human rights law requires policy makers to ask the questions which bean-counters avoid."
katarinatomaševski  education  compulsory  2016  humanrights  law  legalm  institutionalization  indoctrination  governance  government  policy 
february 2016 by robertogreco
Toward Humane Tech — Medium
"If you make technology, or work in the tech industry, I have good news for you: we won."

"We’re not nerds, or outsiders, or underdogs anymore. What we do, and what we make, shapes culture and society, deeply influencing everything from artistic expression to policy and regulation to the way we see our friends, family and selves.

But we haven’t taken responsibility for ourselves in a manner that befits the wealthiest and most powerful industry that’s ever been created. We fancy ourselves outlaws while we shape laws, and consider ourselves disruptive without sufficient consideration for the people and institutions we disrupt. We have to do better, and we will.

While thinking about this reality, and these problems, I’ve struggled with all the different dimensions of the challenge. We could address our profound issues around inclusion and diversity but still be wildly irresponsible about our environmental impact. We could start to respect legal processes and the need for thoughtful engagement with policy makers but still be cavalier about the privacy and security of our users’ data. We could continue to invest in design and user experience but remain thoughtless about the emotional and psychological impacts of the experiences we create. We could continue to bemoan the shortcomings of legacy industries while exacerbating issues like income inequality or social inequity.

I’m not hopeless about it; in fact, if there’s one unifying value that connects everyone in tech, no matter how critical or complacent they may be, it’s an underlying vein of optimism. I want to tap into that optimism, but direct it toward making sure we’re actually making things better, and not just for ourselves.

So I’m going to start to keep some notes, about the functional, pragmatic things we can do to make sure our technologies, and the community that creates those technologies, become far more humane. The conversation about the tech industry has changed profoundly in the past few years. It is no longer radical to raise issues of ethics or civics when evaluating a new product or company. But that’s the simplest starting point, a basic acknowledgment that what we do matters and actually affects people.

We have to think about inclusion, acceptance and diversity, to start. We need to think deeply about our language and communications, and the way we express what technology does. We need to question the mythologies we build around concepts like “founders” or “inventions” or even “startups”. We need to challenge our definitions of success and progress, and to stop considering our work in solely commercial terms. We need to radically improve our systems of compensation, to be responsible about credit and attribution, and to be generous and fair with reward and remuneration. We need to consider the impact our work has on the planet. We need to consider the impact our work has on civic and academic institutions, on artistic expression, on culture.

I’m optimistic, but I think this is going to continue to require a lot of hard work over a long period of time. My first step is to start taking notes about the goal we’re working toward. Let’s get to work."
anildash  2016  technology  siliconvalley  inclusion  inclusivity  diversity  acceptance  gender  language  communication  compensation  responsibility  attribution  environment  privacy  security  inequality  incomeinequality  law  legal  disruption  culture  society 
january 2016 by robertogreco
crap futures — constraint no. 2: legacies of the past
"We are locked into paths determined by decisions or choices made in previous eras, when the world was a much different place. For various reasons these legacies stubbornly persist through time, constraining future possibilities and blinkering us from alternative ways of thinking.

Here, sketched as usual on a napkin over coffee and toast, are some thoughts on legacies of the past that exercise power over our future.

Infrastructure. Take energy, for example. Tesla’s invention of alternating current became the dominant system - rather than Edison’s direct current - essentially because it allowed electricity generated at power stations to be capable of travelling large distances. Tesla’s system has, for the most part, been adopted across the world - an enormous network of stations, cables, pylons, and transformers, with electrical power arriving in our homes through sockets in the wall. This pervasive system dictates or influences almost everything energy related, and in highly complex ways: from the development of new energy generation methods (and figuring out how to feed that energy into the grid) to the design of any electrical product.

Another example is transportation. As Crap Futures has discovered, it is hard to get around this volcanic and vertiginous island without a car. There are no trains, it is too hilly to ride a bike, buses are slow and infrequent, and meanwhile over the past few decades the regional government - one particular government with a 37-year reign - poured millions into building a complex network of roads and tunnels. People used to get to other parts of the island by boat; now (and for the foreseeable future) it is by private car. This is an example of recent infrastructure that a) perpetuated and was dictated by dominant ideas of how transportation infrastructure should be done, and b) will further constrain possibilities for the island into the future.

Laws and insurance. There is a problematic time-slip between the existence of laws and insurance and the real-life behaviour of humans. Laws and insurance are for the most part reactive: insurance policies, for example, are based on amassed data that informs the broker of risk levels, and this system therefore needs history to work. So when you try to insert a new product or concept - a self-driving car or delivery drone - into everyday life, the insurance system pushes back. Insurance companies don’t want to gamble on an unknown future; they want to look at the future through historical data, which is by nature a conservative lens.

Laws, insurance, and historical infrastructure often work together to curb radical change. This partly explains why many of the now technologically realisable dreams of the past, from jetpacks to flying cars, are unlikely to become an everyday reality in that imagined form - more likely they will adapt and conform to existing systems and rules.
"No great idea in its beginning can ever be within the law. How can it be within the law? The law is stationary. The law is fixed. The law is a chariot wheel which binds us all regardless of conditions or place or time." — Emma Goldman, Anarchism and Other Essays (1910)

It is true that laws sometimes outstay their welcome or impede progress. The slow pace at which laws change becomes more and more apparent as the pace of innovation increases. But there are positive as well as negative constraints, and laws often constrain us for good (which of course is their supposed function). At best, they check our impulses, give us a cooling off period, prevent us from tearing everything down at a whim.

So the law can be a force for good. But then of course - good, bad, or ineffectual - there are always those who find ways to circumvent the law. Jonathan Swift wrote: ‘Laws are like cobwebs, which may catch small flies, but let wasps and hornets break through.’ With their shock-and-awe tactics, companies like Uber manage to overcome traditional legal barriers by moving faster than local laws or simply being big enough to shrug off serious legal challenges.

Technology is evolutionary. (See Heilbroner’s quote in the future nudge post.) Comparisons between natural and technological evolution have been a regular phenomenon since as far back Darwin’s On the Origin of Species (1859). Darwin’s revolutionary work inspired philosophers, writers, and anthropologists - Marx and Engels, Samuel Butler, Augustus Pitt-Rivers - to suggest that technological artefacts evolve in a manner similar to natural organisms. This essentially means that technological development is unidirectional, and that radical new possibilities do not happen.

Viewing technology in evolutionary terms would appear to constrain us to only the possibilities that we could reasonably ‘evolve’ into. But this does not have to be the case: natural evolution works by random mutation and natural selection with no ‘plan’ as such, whereas technological innovation and product design are firmly teleologic (literally ‘end-directed’). In other words, the evolutionary model of technological change ignores basic human agency. While natural organisms can’t dip into the historical gene pool to bring back previous mutations, however useful they might be, innovators and designers are not locked into an irreversible evolutionary march and can look backward whenever they choose. So why don’t they? It is a case - circling back to constraint no. 1 - of thinking under the influence of progress dogma."
2015  crapfutures  constraints  darwin  evolution  innovation  future  progress  progressdogma  transportation  infrastructure  law  legal  time  pace  engels  friedrichengels  technology  californianideology  emmagoldman  anarchism  insurance  policy  electricity  nikolatesla  thomasedison  systems  systemsthinking  jonathanswift  samuelbutler  karlmarx  longnow  bighere  augustuspitt-rivers 
january 2016 by robertogreco
Monkey selfie case: judge rules animal cannot own his photo copyright | World news | The Guardian
"A San Francisco court said that while the protection of law could be extended to animals, there was no indication that it was in the Copyright Act"
multispecies  law  monkeys  primates  copyright  2016  macaques  legal  photography  animals 
january 2016 by robertogreco
Sha Hwang - Keynote [Forms of Protest] - UX Burlington on Vimeo
"Let’s close the day by talking about our responsibilities and opportunities as designers. Let’s talk about the pace of fashion and the promise of infrastructure. Let’s talk about systematic failure — failure without malice. Let’s talk about the ways to engage in this messy and complex world. Let’s throw shade on fame and shine light on the hard quiet work we call design."
shahwang  2015  design  infrastructure  fashion  systemsthinking  complexity  messiness  protest  careers  technology  systems  storytelling  scale  stewartbrand  change  thehero'sjourney  founder'sstory  politics  narrative  narratives  systemsdesign  blame  control  algorithms  systemfailure  healthcare.gov  mythmaking  teams  purpose  scalability  bias  microaggressions  dignity  abuse  malice  goodwill  fear  inattention  donellameadows  leveragepoints  making  building  constraints  coding  code  programming  consistency  communication  sharing  conversation  government  ux  law  uxdesign  simplicity  kindness  individuals  responsibility  webdev  web  internet  nava  codeforamerica  18f  webdesign 
january 2016 by robertogreco
Bloom and Bust by Phillip Longman | The Washington Monthly
"Yet starting in the early 1980s, the long trend toward regional equality abruptly switched. Since then, geography has come roaring back as a determinant of economic fortune, as a few elite cities have surged ahead of the rest of the country in their wealth and income. In 1980, the per capita income of Washington, D.C., was 29 percent above the average for Americans as a whole; by 2013 it had risen to 68 percent above. In the San Francisco Bay area, the rise was from 50 percent above to 88 percent. Meanwhile, per capita income in New York City soared from 80 percent above the national average in 1980 to 172 percent above in 2013.

Adding to the anomaly is a historic reversal in the patterns of migration within the United States. Throughout almost all of the nation’s history, Americans tended to move from places where wages were lower to places where wages were higher. Horace Greeley’s advice to “Go West, young man” finds validation, for example, in historical data showing that per capita income was higher in America’s emerging frontier cities, such as Chicago in the 1850s or Denver in 1880s, than back east.

But over the last generation this trend, too, has reversed. Since 1980, the states and metro areas with the highest and fastest-growing per capita incomes have generally seen hardly, if any, net domestic in-migration, and in many notable examples have seen more people move away to other parts of the country than move in. Today, the preponderance of domestic migration is from areas with high and rapidly growing incomes to relatively poorer areas where incomes are growing at a slower pace, if at all."



"Since 1980, mergers have reduced the number of major railroads from twenty-six to seven, with just four of these mega systems controlling 90 percent of the country’s rail infrastructure. Meanwhile, many cities and towns have lost access to rail transportation altogether as railroads have abandoned secondary lines and consolidated rail service in order to maximize profits.

In this era, government spending on new roads and highways also plummeted, even as the number of people and cars continued to grow strongly. One result of this, and of the continuing failure to adequately fund mass transit and high-speed rail, has been mounting traffic congestion that reduces geographic mobility, including the ability of people to move to or remain in the areas offering the highest-paying jobs.

The New York metro area is a case in point. Between 2000 and 2009, the region’s per capita income rose from 25 percent above the average for all U.S. metro areas to 29 percent above. Yet over the same period, approximately two million more people moved away from the area to other parts of the country than moved in, according to the Census Bureau. Today, the commuter rail system that once made it comparatively easy to live in suburban New Jersey and work in Manhattan is falling apart, and commutes from other New York suburbs, whether by road or rail, are also becoming unworkable. Increasingly, this means that only the very rich can still afford to work in Manhattan, much less live there, while increasing numbers of working- and middle-class families are moving to places like Texas or Florida, hoping to break free of the gridlock, even though wages in Texas and Florida are much lower.

The next big policy change affecting regional equality was a vast retreat from antitrust enforcement of all kinds. The first turning point in this realm came in 1976 when Congress repealed the Miller-Tydings Act. This, combined with the repeal or rollback of other “fair trade” laws that had been in place since the 1920s and ’30s, created an opening for the emergence of super-chains like Walmart and, later, vertically integrated retail “platforms” like Amazon. The dominance of these retail goliaths has, in turn, devastated (to some, the preferred term is “disrupted”) locally owned retailers and led to large flows of money out of local economies and into the hands of distant owners.

Another turning point came in 1982, when President Ronald Reagan’s Justice Department adopted new guidelines for antitrust prosecutions. Largely informed by the work of Robert Bork, then a Yale law professor who had served as solicitor general under Richard Nixon, these guidelines explicitly ruled out any consideration of social cost, regional equity, or local control in deciding whether to block mergers or prosecute monopolies. Instead, the only criteria that could trigger antitrust enforcement would be either proven instances of collusion or combinations that would immediately bring higher prices to consumers.

This has led to the effective colonization of many once-great American cities, as the financial institutions and industrial companies that once were headquartered there have come under the control of distant corporations. Empirical studies have shown that when a city loses a major corporate headquarters in a merger, the replacement of locally based managers by “absentee” managers usually leads to lower levels of local corporate giving, civic engagement, employment, and investment, often setting in motion further regional decline. A Harvard Business School study that analyzed the community involvement of 180 companies in Boston, Cleveland, and Miami found that “[l]ocally headquartered companies do most for the community on every measure,” including having “the most active involvement by their leaders in prominent local civic and cultural organizations.”

According to another survey of the literature on how corporate consolidation affects the health of local communities, “local owners and managers … are more invested in the community personally and financially than ‘distant’ owners and managers.” In contrast, the literature survey finds, “branch firms are managed either by ‘outsiders’ with no local ties who are brought in for short-term assignments or by locals who have less ability to benefit the community because they lack sufficient autonomy or prestige or have less incentive because their professional advancement will require them to move.” The loss of social capital in many Heartland communities documented by Robert Putnam, George Packer, and many other observers is at least in part a consequence of the wave of corporate consolidations that occurred after the federal government largely abandoned traditional antitrust enforcement thirty-some years ago.

Financial deregulation also contributed mightily to the growth of regional inequality. Prohibitions against interstate branching disappeared entirely by the 1990s. The first-order effect was that most midsize and even major cities saw most of their major banks bought up by larger banks headquartered somewhere else. Initially, the trend strengthened some regional banking centers, such as Charlotte, North Carolina, even as it hollowed out local control of banking nearly everywhere else across America. But eventually, further financial deregulation, combined with enormous subsidies and bailouts for banks that had become “too big to fail,” led to the eclipse of even once strong regional money centers like Philadelphia and St. Louis by a handful of elite cities such as New York and London, bringing the geography of modern finance full circle back to the patterns prevailing in the Gilded Age.

Meanwhile, dramatic changes in the treatment of what, in the 1980s, came to be known as “intellectual property,” combined with the general retreat from antitrust enforcement, had the effect of vastly concentrating the geographical distribution of power in the technology sector. At the start of the 1980s, federal policy remained so hostile to patent monopolies that it refused even to grant patents for software. But then came a series of Supreme Court decisions and acts of Congress that vastly expanded the scope of patents and the monopoly power granted to patent holders. In 1991, Bill Gates reflected on the change and noted in a memo to his executives at Microsoft that “[i]f people had understood how patents would be granted when most of today’s ideas were invented, and had taken out patents, the industry would be at a complete standstill today.”

These changes caused the tech industry to become much more geographically concentrated than it otherwise would have been. They did so primarily by making the tech industry much less about engineering and much more about lawyering and deal making. In 2011, spending by Apple and Google on patent lawsuits and patent purchases exceeded their spending on research and development for the first time. Meanwhile, faced with growing barriers to entry created by patent monopolies and the consolidated power of giants like Apple and Google, the business model for most new start-ups became to sell themselves as quickly as possible to one of the tech industry’s entrenched incumbents.

For both of these reasons, success in this sector now increasingly requires being physically located where large concentrations of incumbents are seeking “innovation through acquisition,” and where there are supporting phalanxes of highly specialized legal and financial wheeler-dealers. Back in the 1970s, a young entrepreneur like Bill Gates was able to grow a new high-tech firm into a Fortune 500 company in his hometown of Seattle, which at the time was little better off than Detroit and Cleveland are today—a depopulating, worn-out manufacturing city, labeled by the Economist as “the city of despair.” Today, a young entrepreneur as smart and ambitious as the young Gates is most likely aiming to sell his company to a high-tech goliath—or will have to settle for doing so. Sure, high-tech entrepreneurs still emerge in the hinterland, and often start promising companies there. But to succeed they need to cash out, which means that they typically need to go where they’ll be in the deal flow of patent trading and mergers and acquisition, which means an already-established hub of high-tech “innovation” … [more]
us  inequality  urban  urbanism  coasts  economics  policy  politics  1980s  ronaldreagan  ip  intellectualproperty  wages  salaries  states  socialcapital  robertputnam  georgepacker  trusts  law  legal  regulation  business  finance  philliplongman 
november 2015 by robertogreco
TEDxNYED - Mike Wesch - 03/06/10 - YouTube
"Dubbed "the explainer" by Wired magazine, Michael Wesch is a cultural anthropologist exploring the effects of new media on society and culture. After two years studying the implications of writing on a remote indigenous culture in the rain forest of Papua New Guinea, he has turned his attention to the effects of social media and digital technology on global society."
michaelwesch  2010  papuanewguinea  anthropology  culture  cultureshock  socialmedia  seeinglikeastate  measurement  recodkeeping  relationships  census  society  conflictresolution  law  legal  media  systemsthinking  themediumisthemessage  change  internet  web  online  freedom  hope  surveillance  control  transparency  deception  massdistraction  participation  participatory  learning  howwelearn  howweteach  pedagogy  instruction  authority  obedience  compliance  collaboration  highered  highereducation  themachineisus/ingus  deschooling  unschooling  avisionofstudentstoday  digitalethnography 
september 2015 by robertogreco
Peter Galison, 2011 Sheffrin Lecture at UC Davis - YouTube
"Peter Galison delivered a lecture on the political history of secrecy from the Espionage Act to Wikileaks at UC Davis for the annual Sheffrin Lecture in Public Policy on June 1, 2011. Galison is the Pellegrino University Professor of the History of Science and of Physics at Harvard University.

The Sheffrin Lecture in Public Policy supports an annual lecture by distinguished scholars from across the social science disciplines on the day's most relevant issues of national public policy.

The annual series was established in 2008 by former Dean of the UC Davis Division of Social Sciences Steve Sheffrin, and his wife Anjali."
petergalison  2011  secrecy  law  politics  history  tolisten 
september 2015 by robertogreco
The Bombs Dividing Chile | VICE News
"Around 200 bombs have been either found or detonated in Chile over the past decade. Many of these bombs have been located in the capital city of Santiago, and have generally avoided harming innocent civilians.

This changed on September 8, 2014. A bomb was detonated inside a crowded subway station, leaving 14 civilians injured. Some blamed anarchist groups, while others suspected ultra-right terrorists.

In response to the threat, Chile's government has increasingly invoked its controversial anti-terror laws, which were originally enacted during Augusto Pinochet's dictatorship.

VICE News traveled to Chile to speak with lawyers, politicians, and civilians about the current climate following the September 8 attack, and to ask whether the government will be able to guarantee and protect the rights of its citizens as it seeks to solve the mystery of the bombings in Chile."

[Direct link to video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3do2YUHIIuU ]
chile  2014  law  legal  violence  terrorism  danielhernandez  pinochet  history  economics  politics 
september 2015 by robertogreco
The first and last climate change refugee | Overland literary journal
"Three weeks ago, in a brief judgment issued by the Supreme Court of New Zealand, the world’s first application for climate change refugee status finally failed. ‘We agree with the Courts below’, declared a full bench of New Zealand’s highest court, ‘that in the particular factual context of this case the questions identified raise no arguable question of law of general or public importance’.

In other words, the decisions of the lower courts stand and Ioane Teitiota, the shy farmhand from Kiribati in the central Pacific, cannot claim refugee status as a victim of climate change. Ioane, his wife and his New Zealand-born children will be deported to Tarawa, a tiny sand strip perched at the western end of the enormous ocean state. All avenues for appeal have been exhausted.

The result mocks the liberal optimism of the climate change movement, many of whom hoped that – in the absence of a political solution for climate change refugees – there may be a legal solution. While the courts accept that Tarawa’s carrying capacity is ‘significantly compromised’ by climate change – a finding of fact – as a matter of law they cannot accept that this amounts to ‘persecution’ for the purposes of the Refugee Convention.

It’s a timely reminder that the legal system privileges the status quo. The court could have found a ‘pathway’ into the convention for Mr Teitiota, but it made a choice to apply the orthodox law (as I explained in the Guardian last year). Rather than assess where the balance of justice lies, the courts retreated to the security of formalism and merely asked a series of threshold questions (‘Was there a failure of state protection?’ etc.).

The unspoken fear, from common law courtrooms to international summits, is that a successful climate change refugee case could open the floodgates (so to speak). The precedent would compel the New Zealand government to develop a policy framework for accepting climate change refugees. The effect would be to partially redistribute the burden of immediate climate change action from developing states to developed states.

That’s an untenable political outcome, even for other common law countries like Australia. The developed world prefers to shift the costs of climate change adaptation to the developing world. Brian Fisher, the government’s former chief economic adviser on climate change, admitted as much when he ventured the view that it would be ‘more efficient’ to let the Pacific Ocean swallow its low-lying islands rather than require Australian industries to reduce their emissions.

Rather than being about applied science and international values, the developed world’s response to climate change has always been about applied ideology. In the lead up to the Kyoto Protocol the Australian government pressured Pacific countries to abandon their advocacy and proposals for strict emission reduction targets. The primary motive was to protect Australian capitalism against reform. States tend to prefer self-interest to social justice.

Except, of course, where there are profitable market mechanisms like emissions trading schemes which create opportunities for accumulation in carbon offsets (while generally failing to reduce overall emissions). Yet no one appears to have imagined a profitable framework for shifting and settling climate change refugees, which means there is little political will to solve the existing emergency or, indeed, to prepare for the oncoming human migration disaster.

In part, this is a failure of the left because – despite all the hot air emitted at party conferences, activist meet-ups and online – we have ceded the terms of the debate. (This actually has serious consequences for the expansion of neoliberalism through, for example, emissions trading markets). The Teitiota case should have been framed as a fight for justice, not a mere test case for the movement.

This is not an argument for better language – often ‘aspirational’ language in the climate change debate is designed to cover up disagreement – it is an argument for better strategy. The climate change movement should have done more than swing behind the legal case, it should have agitated for a political solution as well. We appeared to be hoping against experience that the courts would rule against the interests of power.

Now, all that’s left is political struggle."
climatechange  law  refugees  2015  newzealand  politics  policy  statusquo  morgangodfery  kiribati 
august 2015 by robertogreco
Spaciocide: Design Observer
"This only scratches the surface of the physical architecture of displacement. Yet, it couldn't succeed without the buttress of an equally draconian legal architecture to sanction the mechanisms that make it virtually impossible to (lawfully!) live below the poverty line. A recent study found that California alone has 500 laws on its books across fifty-eight cities, an average of nine in each. Even the ACLU is pleading with Berkeley lawmakers to reconsider its homeless policy framework. The London borough of Hackney just passed a “Public Space Protection Orders” law giving authorities powers to remove a broad spectrum of people almost at will from downtown.

While camping in the American city is generally illegal, sleeping in vehicles overnight is becoming increasingly illegal too, and more dangerous. Sacramento has an ordinance that outlaws camping on private property for more than one night, prompting claims that such laws have caused a 2,400 percent leap in Sacramento's city camping citations. The homeless have long since been priced out of public transportation. And the library, a homeless sanctuary for decades, has begun preventing people from napping and using restrooms based on various new policies, including an “anti-odor” law. Many lack access to clean water, and are often ticketed for simply being homeless."
architecture  law  legal  homeless  homelessness  2015  spaciocide  urban  urbanism  cities  us  bryanfinoki 
july 2015 by robertogreco
Marriage Equality Is a Win for Single People Too -- The Cut
"For those Americans who are not married — by choice or by circumstance — or for those who simply do not regard the institution as the apotheosis of adult existence, Kennedy’s flowery prose in this otherwise stirring context, which unlocked matrimony to millions who have been barred from it, was jarring and more than a little depressing.

“Marriage,” Kennedy writes, “responds to the universal fear that a lonely person might call out only to find no one there.” It’s one of several sentences in his decision that sound really lovely and warm, but is in fact both cruel and inaccurate, what with its implication that marriage is a cure for loneliness and that those who have not found conjugal recourse are howling into an abyss of solitude that brings to mind Alien and its single heroine, Ripley: In [unmarried] space, no one can hear you scream! Kennedy’s vision of unmarried life is apparently absent friends, lovers, siblings, children; contra the experiences of millions, there is no satisfaction, relief, or fulfillment in independence.

He builds further on this in the decision’s ultimate paragraph, one that is destined to be read at gay and straight weddings for decades, but which Nation editor Richard Kim fairly described on Twitter as a “barfy, single-shaming kicker.”

“No union is more profound than marriage,” Kennedy writes, “for it embodies the highest ideals of love, fidelity, devotion, sacrifice and family.” This will come as news to the millions of people who aim their love, fidelity, sacrifice, and devotion high, but in directions other than at a spouse. “In forming a marital union, two people become something greater than they once were,” Kennedy continues, just hammering it home: Married partnership, according to the Supreme Court, is not only a terrific institution into which we rightly should welcome all loving and willing entrants, it is an arrangement that apparently improves the individuals who enter it, that makes them greater than they were on their own. Those who have previously not been allowed to marry, Kennedy avers, should not be “condemned to live in loneliness,” as if the opposite of marriage must surely be a life sentence of abject misery."



"Kennedy’s framing seems to bolster McArdle’s prediction of a return to Victorian social constriction. But because of the growing number of single people in America, it brings up the possibility of something worse: the cutting off of rights and benefits to an ever-expanding population of independent adults. It corresponds to the worst fears of single advocate Bella DePaulo, who has written that even when gay and lesbian people gain true marriage equality, “all those people who are single — whether gay or straight or any other status — will still remain second class citizens,” wanting for the tax breaks and legal dispensations and next-of-kin rights enjoyed by their married peers.

What’s extra galling about Kennedy’s wording is that it makes the glorious same-sex marriage victory a cramped thing, when in fact the social progress it represents is expansive in ways that should redound positively to many Americans, not just those who have already or who aspire to walk down an aisle or into a judge’s chambers. In reality, the right for gay people to marry each other represents a victory not only for gay-marrying people and their straight-marrying brethren but also for non-marrying Americans."



"Here is what we should not be doing: adding one narrow, institutionally defined expectation of adult life to another narrow, institutionally defined expectation for adult life. The freedom to marry someone of the same sex is the freedom to not have to marry someone of the opposite sex, which in an ideal universe should be tied to the freedom not to have to marry, period."
marriage  marriageequality  2015  scotus  singles  legal  law  rebeccatraister 
july 2015 by robertogreco
more than 95 theses - frequently unobserved distinctions
"(a) Approving the outcome of a judicial decision
(b) Accepting as valid the legal reasoning in support of that outcome

(a) Believing in the need to enshrine in law a great social good
(b) Believing that that social good is already enshrined in the Constitution

(a) Believing in traditional Christian teaching on a given subject
(b) Believing that that teaching needs to be enshrined in secular law

(a) Wishing to commend to the whole society the excellence of Christian teaching
(b) Believing that legislation is the best way to do that"

[See also:“The Six Axioms of Politico-Judicial Logic”
http://www.theamericanconservative.com/articles/the-six-axioms-of-polito-judicial-logic/

"These six axioms provide all you need to know to navigate the landscape of current debates about judicial decisions:

1) The heart wants what it wants.

2) The heart has a right to what it wants—as long as the harm principle isn’t violated.

3) A political or social outcome that is greatly desirable is also ipso facto constitutional.

4) A political or social outcome that is greatly undesirable is also ipso facto unconstitutional.

5) A judicial decision that produces a desirable outcome is (regardless of the legal reasoning involved) proof of the wisdom of the Founders in liberating the Supreme Court from the vagaries of partisan politics so that they can think freely and without bias. The system works!

6) A judicial decision that produces an undesirable outcome is (regardless of the legal reasoning involved) proof that the system is broken, because it allows five unelected old farts to determine the course of society.

From these six axioms virtually every opinion stated on social media about Supreme Court decisions can be clearly derived. You’re welcome."]
alanjacobs  law  legal  constitution  courts  christianity  belief  religion  society  legislation  2015 
june 2015 by robertogreco
Hooray for Same-Sex Concubinage!
"Simply put, mutual responsibility towards offspring naturally demands a long-term commitment (at least 18 years) while mutual attraction and erotic desire does not. What we see in the modern world is the fracturing of a very lofty ideal of marriage back into two different kinds of relationships: those which are primarily focused on children, and those which are primarily focused on erotic love. The battle over the institution of marriage is basically a battle over whether which of these two purposes of marriage ought to have primacy.

The answer that the Supreme Court has given by ruling in favour of same-sex marriage is basically a ruling in favour of erotic love. This should surprise no one. It’s the more culturally popular option, and it’s the view of marriage that the vast majority of heterosexuals already subscribe to. It’s also, in practice, the definition that we’ve been using for a long time. The truth is that most of the material and social supports that exist to help parents with the task of raising children are no longer associated with the institution of marriage in any way – and unfortunately, the pro-family groups that could be providing financial, emotional and practical support to people who are choosing traditional marriage tend to waste their resources fighting fruitless political battles instead.

The challenge, then, is for advocates of the traditional family to stop wringing their hands over the SCOTUS decision and blaming the gays for the demise of the family, and to focus instead on renewing the practice of sacramental marriage by building up communities of support so that the traditional understanding of marriage will become practicable and attractive again."
marriage  parenting  law  marrigeequality  20915  via:ayjay  melindaselmys 
june 2015 by robertogreco
The simple idea that could transform US criminal justice | Tina Rosenberg | US news | The Guardian
"Judge Victoria Pratt looks defendants in the eye, asks them to write essays about their goals, and applauds them for complying – and she is getting results"



"Calabrese was using what have become the four principles of procedural justice: first, that people who come before a judge trust that the process is impartial; second, that they are treated with respect; third, that they understand what is going on and what they are expected to do; fourth, that they have a voice. Defendants find the procedure fairer when they are allowed to state their views. Experimental evidence shows that this is true even when they are allowed to speak only after the judge has announced their decision. No one likes to lose a court case. But people accept losing more willingly if they believe the procedures used to handle their case are fair.

* * *
The concept of procedural justice was first formulated by a social psychologist named Tom R Tyler. Entering Columbia University in 1969, Tyler started college at a moment when respect for the law was at a low point. Racial segregation had been outlawed in the US only five years earlier, but was still defiantly enforced in many parts of the south. The US was fighting a war in Vietnam that was widely considered immoral and illegal. “My entire generation was preoccupied with the question of why we would or wouldn’t obey laws, and whether the law was legitimate,” he said.

The question continued to preoccupy Tyler throughout his time in college. Unlike other researchers in his field, what interested him was not why people break the law, but why they do not. Even criminals, he noted, follow the law most of the time. In his 1990 book Why People Obey the Law, Tyler came up with a novel explanation.

Criminal justice systems everywhere run on the assumption that people obey the law because they are afraid of punishment. B Tyler argued that the key factor is legitimacy: people obey the law because they believe the state has the right to tell them what to do. Broad legitimacy matters more than whether people believe an individual law to be right or wrong – although the public’s view about individual laws can influence broad legitimacy.

In the courts, Tyler argued, legitimacy is created by the perception of fairness. But while lawyers and judges tend to assume that fairness refers to the outcome of a case, that is generally not what matters most to the people who come before a court. For example, Tyler and a colleague asked defendants to describe the process and the outcome of their cases, and whether they willingly accepted the court’s decision. Through statistical analysis, the researchers found that defendants were far more likely to willingly accept the court’s decision if they felt they had been treated fairly. Indeed, this was much more important to defendants in this regard than a favourable outcome.

In other words, an offender is more likely to do what the authorities tell him and refrain from committing further crimes if he feels that he is treated with respect and fairness – regardless of the judge’s ruling. “This discovery has been called ‘counterintuitive’ and even ‘wrongheaded,’” stated a paper published in 2007 by the American Judges Association, “but researcher after researcher has demonstrated that this phenomenon exists”."
law  crime  justice  proceduraljustice  2015  criminaljustice  dignity  respect  fairness  victoriapratt  newark 
june 2015 by robertogreco
Orion Magazine - Fotos de la biografía | Facebook
"Great old poem criticizing those who took common lands for personal gain:

The law locks up the man or woman
Who steals the goose off the common
But leaves the greater villain loose
Who steals the common from the goose.

The law demands that we atone
When we take things we do not own
But leaves the lords and ladies fine
Who takes things that are yours and mine.

The poor and wretched don’t escape
If they conspire the law to break;
This must be so but they endure
Those who conspire to make the law.

The law locks up the man or woman
Who steals the goose from off the common
And geese will still a common lack
Till they go and steal it back.

"This 17th Century folk poem is one of the pithiest condemnations of the English enclosure movement—the process of fencing off common land and turning it into private property. In a few lines, the poem manages to criticize double standards, expose the artificial and controversial nature of property rights, and take a slap at the legitimacy of state power. And it does it all with humor, without jargon, and in rhyming couplets." —James Boyle, Duke Law School Professor via On the Commons [https://www.facebook.com/OntheCommons ]"
poems  poetry  via:anne  commonlands  enclosure  multispecies  property  privateproperty  commons  nature  propertyrights  statepower  jamesboyle  law  legal 
june 2015 by robertogreco
What's Your Algorithmic Citizenship? | Citizen Ex
"Every time you connect to the internet, you pass through time, space, and law. Information is sent out from your computer all over the world, and sent back from there. This information is stored and tracked in multiple locations, and used to make decisions about you, and determine your rights. These decisions are made by people, companies, countries and machines, in many countries and legal jurisdictions. Citizen Ex shows you where those places are.

Your Algorithmic Citizenship is how you appear to the internet, as a collection of data extending across many nations, with a different citizenship and different rights in every place. One day perhaps we will all live like we do on the internet. Until then, there's Citizen Ex."

[http://citizen-ex.com/download

"Citizen Ex is a browser extension for Chrome, Firefox, and Safari, which shows you where on the web you really are, and what that means."]
geolocation  identity  immigration  jamesbridle  internet  web  privacy  law  time  space  data  location  legal  extensions  browsers  chrome  safari  firefox  citizenship  browser 
june 2015 by robertogreco
Which Students Get to Have Privacy? — The Message — Medium
"As a youth advocate and privacy activist, I’m generally in favor of student privacy. But my panties also get in a bunch when I listen to how people imagine the work of student privacy. As is common in Congress as election cycles unfold, student privacy has a “save the children” narrative. And this forces me to want to know more about the threat models we’re talking about. What are we saving the children *from*?

Threat Models
There are four external threats that I think are interesting to consider. These are the dangers that students face if their data leaves the education context.

#1: The Stranger Danger Threat Model. It doesn’t matter how much data we have to challenge prominent fears, the possibly of creepy child predators lurking around school children still overwhelms any conversation about students, including their data.

#2: The Marketing Threat Model. From COPPA to the Markey/Hatch bill, there’s a lot of concern about how student data will be used by companies to advertise products to students or otherwise fuel commercial data collection that drives advertising ecosystems.

#3: The Consumer Finance Threat Model. In a post-housing bubble market, the new subprime lending schemes are all about enabling student debt, especially since students can’t declare bankruptcy when they default on their obscene loans. There is concern about how student data will be used to fuel the student debt ecosystem.

#4: The Criminal Justice Threat Model. Law enforcement has long been interested in student performance, but this data is increasingly desirable in a world of policing that is trying to assess risk. There are reasons to believe that student data will fuel the new policing architectures.

The first threat model is artificial (see: “It’s Complicated”), but it propels people to act and create laws that will not do a darn thing to address abuse of children. The other three threat models are real, but these threats are spread differently over the population. In the world of student privacy, #2 gets far more attention than #3 and #4. In fact, almost every bill creates carve-outs for “safety” or otherwise allows access to data if there’s concern about a risk to the child, other children, or the school. In other words, if police need it. And, of course, all of these laws allow parents and guardians to get access to student data with no consideration of the consequences for students who are under state supervision. So, really, #4 isn’t even in the cultural imagination because, as with nearly everything involving our criminal justice system, we don’t believe that “those people” deserve privacy.

The reason that I get grouchy is that I hate how the risks that we’re concerned about are shaped by the fears of privileged parents, not the risks of those who are already under constant surveillance, those who are economically disadvantaged, and those who are in the school-prison pipeline. #2-#4 are all real threat models with genuine risks, but we consistently take #2 far more seriously than #3 or #4, and privileged folks are more concerned with #1.

What would it take to actually consider the privacy rights of the most marginalized students?

The threats that poor youth face? That youth of color face? And the trade-offs they make in a hypersurveilled world? What would it take to get people to care about how we keep building out infrastructure and backdoors to track low-status youth in new ways? It saddens me that the conversation is constructed as being about student privacy, but it’s really about who has the right to monitor which youth. And, as always, we allow certain actors to continue asserting power over youth."
internet  safety  privacy  inequality  policing  lawenforcement  education  policy  coppa  surveillance  data  ferpa  law  legal  markets  criminaljustice  advertising 
may 2015 by robertogreco
Why One Silicon Valley City Said “No” to Google – Next City
"Big money and even bigger egos are colliding in the tech world’s new company towns."



"In 2012, Mountain View and Google entered into a $222,000 annual contract for Google to pay for city planning staff to handle all the reviews needed to get Google’s projects off the drawing board and into construction phases. Today, that contract is valued at $377,838. While the city normally charges companies an hourly rate for municipal services, the vetting of Google projects required more hours than the city had available. Instead of rejecting the company’s plans outright for lack of staff, Mountain View asked Google to fund the hiring of two additional planners. It was an unusual arrangement, the kind usually reserved for corporate polluters that must pay for large-scale government cleanups.

The agreement to have Google subsidize public servants didn’t necessarily raise many local eyebrows. After all, like it had before, Google solved the problem it had created, albeit by playing a major role in government affairs.

But local will for such involvement appears to have waned. In rejecting the vast majority of Google’s campus expansion, the Mountain View city council also rejected most of the company’s $240 million community benefits package, from the bike lanes and affordable housing, to the $15 million public safety center and ecological restoration, all planned at Google’s behest and design.

The vast majority of the North Bayshore area was instead granted to LinkedIn, which offered far fewer community benefits, but had one major factor in its favor: It’s not Google.

The political climate for tech companies in the Bay Area is, to a great extent, confused. The Googles of the world are blamed for a sharp rise in the cost of living and an increased strain on public services and infrastructure, but at the same time, no one can deny the huge boost they’ve given local government coffers.

Still, there is a discrepancy between the billions of dollars these companies make and the checks they write to the local governments that host them.

The sales tax model that served California cities for decades doesn’t work in the knowledge economy. While Apple remits local tax on the products it sells, Google and Facebook don’t collect sales tax on the digital ads we click away and the data we unwittingly share. Community benefit deals can potentially bridge the gap between those taxes and impacts, but they allow companies to determine which civic projects should be priorities. Facebook might want more police and Google might want more local ecology — but what do residents want?

If cities want to take greater control of their future, they’ll have to create and enforce new tax revenue streams — something Mountain View council member Lenny Siegel says he is working toward.

Without a significant local tax burden, companies can afford to drive policies and services, superseding the role of local government and advancing their own ideology. When that ideology includes bike lanes and public school support, this arrangement might work well.

But in a region in the grips of a controversial housing crisis spurred in no small part by an influx of high-paid tech talent, Silicon Valley companies on the whole appear comparatively disinterested in funding the affordable homes these cities so desperately need."



"Big companies in small cities are bound to exert some of their own power, either purposefully or passively. Much of this seems inevitable — it’s how this valley was named “Silicon” decades ago. But these companies are no longer dealing just in silicon. Regardless of Google’s loss in North Bayshore, soon Mountain View will feature Google-designed cars running on Google-funded roads planned by Google-paid city engineers. Where they once built semiconductors and software, tech is shaping the future of human communication, infrastructure, transit, law and collective lived experience — all the things that make up a city."

[Related: “New Balance Bought Its Own Commuter Rail Station [in Boston]: Instead of asking the cash-strapped public-transit system to add a stop, the company simply paid for one itself.”
http://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2015/05/new-balance-bought-its-own-commuter-rail-station/392711/ ]
siliconvalley  google  mountainview  california  infrastrcuture  taxes  2015  susiecagle  government  governance  economics  publictransit  transportation  housing  law  transit  boston 
may 2015 by robertogreco
Arkansas Adoption Preys on Cultural Misunderstanding with Marshallese | The New Republic
"Adoption is embraced in the Marshall Islands, but in the Ozarks, it means something very different. The tragic consequences of cultural misunderstanding."



"But nothing baffled Arkansas officials and community members more than the fluid notions of Marshallese family: a matrilineal system wherein all related members of a generation are considered the joint parents of a child. “[Kids] will show up [to school] one day with someone and say, ‘This is my mom,’” said Sandy Hainline-­Williams, an American nurse who has become a cultural liaison for Springdale’s Marshallese. “And the next day, a different woman: ‘This is my mom.’” Other nurses puzzled over women who were slow to answer when asked how many children they had. “I’ve teasingly said, ‘You can’t not remember having a baby!’” said Gina Jeremiah, a pregnancy intake nurse at Parkhill Clinic for Women, an obstetrics-gynecology practice within Willow Creek Women’s Hospital in Springdale. “All the women take on the role of mother in the kids’ lives,” said another nurse.

These attitudes, anthropologists believe, were born of the ethos of extreme generosity necessary for crowded island life. “There’s a general idea that things belong to everyone, as opposed to specific people,” said Elise Berman, an anthropologist at the University of North Carolina, Charlotte. “And those things include children.” Some studies have found that 25 percent of Marshallese children are raised by someone other than their biological parent. Many adoptions in the Marshall Islands take place because an older relative has actively solicited the offspring of their younger kin—a stark contrast to the United States, where adoption is mainly seen as the last resort of unprepared or unwilling parents. Older family members will approach expectant relatives and, in a telling linguistic formulation, say, “Give me my child.” And because an adopted child usually just moves a few doors down, adoptees almost always know their biological parents. If a birth mother suspects her child is being mistreated, she has the right to take him back. “We have this belief that the role of the mother will stay there forever,” said Melisa Laelan, a Marshallese court interpreter and the founder of Springdale’s nonprofit Arkansas Coalition of Marshallese. There’s even a Marshallese phrase for this: Jined Ilo Kobo, which refers to the unbreakable connection that a mother has with her children; it can’t be severed no matter who raises them."



"Furlow wasn’t the only one concerned. At area hospitals, staff watched dozens of their Marshallese patients plan to relinquish their children, often to couples who had signed up just months—or even weeks—earlier. (Hopeful adoptive parents frequently wait years for a match with a healthy newborn baby.) Labor and nursery nurses traded horror stories involving tearful and confused new mothers, who asked whether they were allowed to hold or feed their babies, and lamented that they couldn’t change their minds because they lacked the money to repay the lawyers. Once, after a mother refused to part with her baby, an adoption attorney came in with his translator to “chew the mother out,” said one nurse. Another time, an attorney wrote an angry letter to an area hospital, instructing the staff to stop speaking to the mothers about adoption, said another nurse.

Staff at both local hospitals, Washington Regional and Willow Creek, began increasing their efforts to inform Marshallese mothers of their rights, but they were often stymied by the language barrier. Though the hospitals subscribed to a phone-in translation service, Marshallese interpreters were so rare that they needed to make an appointment. They often had to rely on family members or the adoption liaisons instead, and were never sure what information was being passed along. And Marshallese women were arriving from the Islands all the time; it was the new arrivals who seemed to give up their children most often. “It sounds juvenile, but I put it in terms of, ‘Do you understand that your baby goes away and never comes back?’” said Gina Jeremiah, the pregnancy intake nurse at Parkhill. “There’s been several instances where they go, ‘No, I’ll see my baby when it turns 18.’”

For Furlow and many of her colleagues, an uneasy sense of complicity began to set in. (It was Furlow who contacted me last July and asked me to look into this story.) “I feel like I’m involved unwillingly,” said Jeremiah last November. “On the one hand, we’re happy for the couples that are struggling and can’t get pregnant. But then from the other side of it, I ache for them a little bit—for the patients that are having to go through this,” said another Park­hill physician, Julian Terry. “For all of us,” said Laureen Benafield, one of Furlow’s pediatric partners and an adoptive mother herself, “the red flag has just been the volume ... the sheer numbers feel so wrong, predatory.” Benafield wasn’t the only one to note the volume: “When we say it’s gotten out of control, it’s really a money-­making business for many people,” Robert Hix, an OB-GYN at Parkhill, told me. “You can almost tell that some of them are not sure what’s going on until the baby is gone.” A judge who has handled many adoption cases summarized the sense of concern and helplessness among his colleagues, who told him: “If they present you paperwork in the right manner, then you’ve gotta sign it.”"



"To Laelan, it seems clear that adoption brokers are trying to spread their business across multiple jurisdictions to capitalize on the fact that not all courthouses have implemented strict translation requirements. A doctor at Parkhill clinic, Robert Hix, said Marshallese patients have begun evading the doctors and nurses’ questions, and nurses have seen people exchanging babies in the parking lot in order to hide from suspicious medical staff. “As we’ve started to try to create systems to protect them,” said Koehler, “will it just become a kind of arms race,” with attorneys coaching potential birth mothers at every step? “Because it seems like we’ll always be behind on that.”

When the illicit adoption business was booming in Hawaii, it took a coordinated community campaign to create an alliance strong enough to stop it. Advocates met with Homeland Security, the FBI, and local and state legislators; judges intervened and hospitals and politicians were enlisted to help enforce regulations to protect Marshallese mothers and children. But the first step in Arkansas should probably be a widespread education campaign to help recently arrived Marshallese understand that the adoptions happening in Arkansas are a far cry from those back home. Marshallese women are offered false comfort, Lang said, through another Marshallese proverb, Jinen Koto In—or “Mother of the Wind”—which implies, even more than Jined Ilo Kobo, that nature will always return a child to her original mother. In the United States, where the rules governing closed adoptions are rigid and unyielding, that’s simply not true. Birth parents who sign away their children in closed adoptions will likely not see them for years or decades—if ever."
adoption  marshallislands  parenting  culture  2015  kathrynjoyce  arkansas  ozarks  us  law  legal 
april 2015 by robertogreco
Meet the lawyer taking on Uber and the rest of the on-demand economy | Fusion
"If cases like Liss-Riordan’s are successful, on-demand companies would have to pay overtime, deductions from wages, and, in California, the expenses incurred by their service providers. Those costs would mount into the millions, and proponents of the on-demand economy worry that they could force successful companies out of business.

“Our community cares about flexibility and setting their own hours,” said Fiona Ramsey, the director of communications for Peers, an advocacy group for the on-demand economy. She added: “We worry the share economy will cease to exist if these cases are successful.”

That worry may be exaggerated, however. Deep-pocketed companies like Uber, which has raised nearly $5 billion in venture capital since launching, could surely afford the additional expense of putting drivers on its payroll. And several on-demand companies, such as the house cleaning start-up MyClean and the food delivery service Munchery, already treat their workers as W-2 employees. These companies’ labor costs are higher than their 1099-dependent rivals, but they get additional benefits, such as being able to train their workers and hold them to consistent schedules.

Liss-Riordan thinks Uber did “a great thing for the world in terms of convenience for customers.” But she contends that the company’s insanely high valuation is based on its skirting employment responsibilities and having drivers bear the costs of its business operations. She also thinks the on-demand economy’s existential fears about the oncoming wave of class-action lawsuits are overblown.

“Uber and Lyft can survive classifying drivers as employees,” she says. “It might cost them a little more, but it’s a successful concept. It’s not going to go away because we are trying to enforce the rules.”
business  law  uber  sharingeconomy  2015  economics  employment  labor  work  compensation  shannonliss-riordan  kashmirhill 
april 2015 by robertogreco
Seven Reasons We Hate Free-Range Parenting - Bloomberg View
"Danielle and Alexander Meitiv of Maryland want to raise their children as "free-range kids," which is to say giving them the kind of range of movement that those of us over 30 recall as a normal part of childhood. One of my cherished childhood memories is the long walks my best friend and I would take home from church through New York's Riverside Park, which Google Maps records as a distance of a mile and a half, stopping at every playground along the way. This is slightly longer than the walk home from the playground that caused Montgomery County's Child Protective Services to investigate the Meitivs last year, after someone called the police to report the alarming sight of ... children walking down the street alone. On Sunday, after another "good Samaritan" called the cops, CPS seized the children, leaving the parents frantic with worry for hours.

One could argue that this is a good lesson for the parents. One could also argue that it would be bracing to have the police periodically break into our homes to educate us about weak points in our security systems. In fact, the sort of abduction that CPS apparently wants the Meitivs to obsess over is incredibly rare and always has been.

Why has America gone lunatic on the subject of unattended children? Parents hover over their kids as if every step might be their last. If they don't hover, strangers do, calling the police to report any parent who leaves their child to run into the store for a few minutes. What's truly strange is that the parents who are doing this were themselves left to their own devices in cars, allowed to ride their bikes and walk to the store unsupervised, and otherwise given the (limited) freedom that they are now determined to deny their own kids. The police are making arrests that would have branded their own parents as criminals. To hear people my age talk about the dangers of unsupervised children, you would think that the attrition rate in our generation had been at least 30 percent.

Even people who haven't gone crazy are afraid of the Pediatric Patrol. A mom of my acquaintance whose house backs up to a school playground, with a gate that lets her children walk straight into the schoolyard, is afraid to let them go through the gate without an adult, for fear that someone would call the same nutty CPS that has taken to impounding the Meitiv children. She compromises by letting them play alone in the playground only when she is in the backyard, so that she can intervene if the police arrive.

Think about that: Kids have the priceless boon of a playground right in their backyard, but they can't use it unless Mom drops everything to accompany them. I am running out of synonyms for "insane" to describe the state we have worked ourselves into. What on earth has happened to us?

As it happened, I looked into that for my book, and the disappointing news is that I didn't find much good research to explain this mass shift in American parenting. I did, however, develop some theories from watching parents, law enforcement officials and others discuss the pros and cons of free-range parenting.

I should add a caveat: I don't have kids, so I lack an important perspective. And I should say that if I did have kids, I'm sure I too would be a safety paranoiac, making my own baby food from organic ingredients just in case pesticides in their unsweetened applesauce turn out to cause cancer. So I'm not blaming individual parents; this is a collective insanity, not a personal foible.

So how can we explain it?

1. Cable news. When you listen to parents talk about why they hover, you'll frequently hear that the world is more dangerous than it used to be. This is the exact opposite of the truth. The New York City where I walked to school, past housing projects with major crime problems and across busy streets, was much more dangerous than the New York of today. And that is true of virtually everywhere. The world is not more dangerous. But it feels more dangerous to a lot of people because the media landscape has shifted.

Think of it this way: There were always stranger abductions, but they were always extremely rare, perhaps 2 or 3 per 1 million children under 12 in the U.S. each year. However, in the 1970s, you most likely only heard about local cases, and because these were rare, you would hear about one every few years in a moderately large metropolitan area. This made it sound like what it is: an unimaginably terrible thing that thankfully almost never happens. Very occasionally, a case would catch the imagination and make national news, like the Lindbergh baby. But these almost always happened in big cities like New York, or to rich people, so people didn't imagine that this was a risk that faced them.

Then along came cable news, which needed to fill 24 hours a day with content. These sorts of cases started to make national news, and because our brains are terrible at statistics, we did not register this as "Aha, the overall rate is still low, but I am now hearing cases drawn from a much larger population, so I hear about more of them." Instead, it felt like stranger abductions must have gone up a lot.

The Internet also enables parents to share stories of every bad thing that happens to their children. We used to be limited to collecting these stories from people we actually met, which meant that we didn't hear a lot of truly terrible stories. Now we have thousands at the tips of our fingers, and the same failures of statistical intuition make it feel like wow, terrible things are happening all the time these days.

2. Economic insecurity. As college degrees, and particularly elite degrees, have become more valuable, parents have come to feel that they must micromanage their children's lives in order to make a good showing on college applications. The result is vastly more supervised activities. This has shrunk the pool of kids who are around to play with, making free-range childhood less rewarding.

3. Mothers working. In suburbs and small towns, stay-at-home moms formed "eyes on the street," so that even if your kid was roaming the neighborhood, there was a gentle adult eye periodically sweeping across their activity. But I don't think we can lean on this too much, because kids in cities also had a lot more independence back then, and the Broadway of my youth was not exactly a sweet, sheltered world where nothing much could go wrong.

There's another reason I think this matters, however. More mothers are paying others to take care of their children. It's easy to impose severe limits on the mobility of your children when you are not personally expected to provide 24-hour supervision. When I was a kid, there were a lot of mothers at home who believed that being home with kids was important but did not actually personally enjoy playing with 4-year-olds. Those parents would have rebelled at being told that they should never let their kids out of hearing range. Those mothers are now at work, paying someone else to enjoy playing with their 4-year-old or at least convincingly fake it.

4. Collective-action problems. When it comes to safety, overprotective parents are in effect taking out a sort of regret insurance. Every community has what you might call "generally accepted child-rearing practices," the parenting equivalent of "generally accepted accounting principles." These principles define what is good parenting and provide a sort of mental safe harbor in the event of an accident. If you do those things and your kid gets hurt -- well, you'll still wish that you'd asked them to stay home and help bake cookies, or lingered a little longer at the drugstore, or something so that they weren't around when the Bad Thing happened. But if you break them and your kid gets hurt, you -- and a lot of other people -- will feel that it happened because you were a bad parent. So you follow the GACP.

Over time, these rules get set by the most risk-averse parent in your social group, because if anything happens, you'll wish you had acted like them. This does not mean that the kids are actually safer: Parents in most places "shelter" their kids from risk by strapping them into cars and driving them to supervised activities, which is more dangerous than almost anything those kids could have gotten up to at home.

5. Lawsuits. In the U.S., the liability revolution of the 1970s has made every institution, from parks departments to schools, much more sensitive about even tiny risks, because when you go before the jury in a case about a hurt child, arguing that what happened was less likely than getting hit by a bolt of lightning is going to have much less impact than the evidence of a hurt child.

6. Mobile phones. All these strangers calling 911 to report a 6-year-old who has been left in a car outside a store for a few minutes are probably doing so because it's easy. If that person had to dig for a piece of paper and a pen to write the license plate down, then take time out of their day to find a pay phone, dial the police and stand around talking to the 911 operator, most would probably think "You know, I bet his mom is going to come out of the store in a minute, and I really need to get home to start dinner." Now you can just take a picture of the license plate and call from the comfort of your car. It would be surprising if we lowered the price of being an officious busybody and didn't get a lot more of it.

7. We're richer. Richer countries can afford more safety. That's a good thing, but there can be too much safety. There are major downsides to this form of parenting, as many authors have laid out: It's hard on the parents, may result in the kids developing more phobias, and stunts the creativity and self-reliance that we theoretically want to develop in children so that they can become happy and productive adults.

I don't think there's one easy answer to why we've become insane; rather, there are a lot of forces that are pushing in this direction. But that doesn't mean we can't push back. And a good start would be for … [more]
parenting  children  safety  meganmcardle  freedom  free-rangeparenting  2015  media  news  statistics  liability  litigiousness  law  legal  helicoperparents  helicopterparenting  labor  work  economics  insecurity  micromanagment  lawenforcement  childcare  overprotection  risk  riskassessment  risktaking  lawsuits  mobile  phones  wealth  cps  via:ayjay  helicopterparents 
april 2015 by robertogreco
Two sentences that perfectly capture what it means to be privileged in America today - Vox
"Giridharadas's point is particularly salient now, as Robert Putnam's book about the growing fissure between upper- and lower-class America is a hot topic in political circles. Toward the end of his talk (around the 16-minute mark), he hammers home the point that there are two Americas, and that many people who reside firmly in the more privileged version don't even realize it.

"Don't console yourself that you are the 99 percent," he says. "If you live near a Whole Foods; if no one in your family serves in the military; if you are paid by the year, not the hour; if most people you know finished college; if no one you know uses meth; if you married once and remain married; if you're not one of 65 million Americans with a criminal record — if any or all of these things describe you, then accept the possibility that actually, you may not know what's going on, and you may be part of the problem."

Harsh as that sounds, Giridharadas gets at an important point that Putnam also echoed in a recent interview with Vox: as the highest and lowest incomes in the US move further apart, well-off and low-income Americans also know less and less about each other and what it truly means to be from another social class. Indeed, only 1 percent of Americans consider themselves upper-class. As economic segregation grows, it plays a part in keeping people from climbing up the social ladder."

[YouTube link for Anand Giridharadas's talk: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8i-pNVj5KMw ]

[Response from Connor Kilpatrick:
“Let Them Eat Privilege: Focusing on privilege diverts attention away from the real villains.”
https://www.jacobinmag.com/2015/04/1-99-percent-class-inequality/

"By forcing the middle class to divert their attention downward (and within) instead of at the real power players above, Vox and Giridharadas are playing into the Right’s hands. It’s an attempt to shame the middle class — those with some wealth but, relative to the top one or one-tenth of one percent, mere crumbs — to make them shut up about the rich and super rich and, instead, look at those below as a reminder that it could all be much worse.

[…]

Even when the income of the one percent (mostly the bottom half of that select group) is derived primarily from high salaries (as opposed to returns on investment) it’s far more likely to be reinvested in shares, bonds, and real estate — and of course elite educations and other opportunities for their children — than the income of the middle 40 percent, who have hardly anything left once the bills are paid.

That means that even with nothing more than a killer W-2, the salaried lower half of the one percent still have the means to consolidate themselves as an elite class while the rest of us are immiserated.

When a cut in capital gains taxes is paid for by hiking state tuition and slashing social services, the one percent benefits while the vast majority of the 99 percent loses. When a new law is passed making it harder to organize a union or wages are squeezed to ring out higher and higher corporate profits, it’s the one percent — and their investment portfolios — that benefits and the majority of the 99 percent who loses.

It’s real winners and losers — not a state of mind and not a “culture.” And it works like this:

[chart]

What’s bad for you economically is probably good for them. That’s why the rest of us will have to come in conflict with this tiny elite and its institutions if we’re going win a more just and egalitarian future for ourselves.

By substituting class relations for an arbitrary list of “privileges,” Vox is attempting to paint a picture of an immiserated America with no villain. It’s an America without a ruling class that directly and materially benefits from everyone else’s hard times. And this omission isn’t just incorrect — it robs us of any meaningful oppositional politics that could change it all.

It’s a conclusion that, despite Vox’s endorsement, plays into conservatives’ hands. Like the journalist Robert Fitch once wrote, it is the aim of the Right “to restrict the scope of class conflict — to bring it down to as low a level as possible. The smaller and more local the political unit, the easier it is to run it oligarchically.”

So why turn inward? Why argue over who’s got the sweeter deal and how we’re all responsible for the gross inequity of society when it’s not that much more than a tiny sliver of millionaires and billionaires at Davos sipping wine and rubbing shoulders with politicians?

Let’s try worrying more about knowing thy enemy — and building solidarity from that recognition. “Check your privilege?” Sure. But for once, let’s try checking it against the average hedge fund manager instead of a random Whole Foods shopper."]
anandgiridharadas  inequality  privilege  2015  race  military  employment  work  labor  drugs  addiction  poverty  education  marriage  class  robertputnam  politics  secondchances  religion  islam  mercy  forgiveness  grace  us  humanism  segregation  lifeexpectancy  healthcare  faith  civics  law  legal  capitalpunishment  deathpenalty  raisuddinbhuiyan  markstroman  connorkilpatrick 
april 2015 by robertogreco
The double-standard of making the poor prove they’re worthy of government benefits - The Washington Post
"Sometimes these laws are cast as protection for the poor, ensuring that aid is steered in ways that will help them the most. Other times they're framed as protection for the taxpayer, who shouldn't be asked to help people who will squander the money on vices anyway.

But the logic behind the proposals is problematic in at least three, really big ways.

The first is economic: There's virtually no evidence that the poor actually spend their money this way. The idea that they do defies Maslow's hierarchy — the notion that we all need shelter and food before we go in search of foot massages. In fact, the poor are much more savvy about how they spend their money because they have less of it (quick quiz: do you know exactly how much you last spent on a gallon of milk? or a bag of diapers?). By definition, a much higher share of their income — often more than half of it — is eaten up by basic housing costs than is true for the better-off, leaving them less money for luxuries anyway. And contrary to the logic of drug-testing laws, the poor are no more likely to use drugs than the population at large.

The second issue with these laws is a moral one: We rarely make similar demands of other recipients of government aid. We don't drug-test farmers who receive agriculture subsidies (lest they think about plowing while high!). We don't require Pell Grant recipients to prove that they're pursuing a degree that will get them a real job one day (sorry, no poetry!). We don't require wealthy families who cash in on the home mortgage interest deduction to prove that they don't use their homes as brothels (because surely someone out there does this). The strings that we attach to government aid are attached uniquely for the poor.

That leads us to the third problem, which is a political one. Many, many Americans who do receive these other kinds of government benefits — farm subsidies, student loans, mortgage tax breaks — don't recognize that, like the poor, they get something from government, too. That's because government gives money directly to poor people, but it gives benefits to the rest of us in ways that allow us to tell ourselves that we get nothing from government at all.

Political scientist Suzanne Mettler has called this effect the "submerged state." Food stamps and welfare checks are incredibly visible government benefits. The mortgage interest deduction, Medicare benefits and tuition tax breaks are not — they're submerged. They come to us in round-about ways, through smaller tax bills (or larger refunds), through payments we don't have to make to doctors (thanks to Medicare), or in tuition we don't have to pay to universities (because the G.I. Bill does that for us).

Mettler's research has shown that a remarkable number of people who don't think they get anything from government in fact benefit from one of these programs. This explains why we get election-season soundbites from confused voters who want policymakers to "keep your government hands off my Medicare!" This is also what enables politicians to gin up indignation among small-government supporters who don't realize they rely on government themselves.

Mettler raises a lot of concerns about what the submerged state means for how we understand the role of government. But one result of this reality is that we have even less tolerance for programs that help the poor: We begrudge them their housing vouchers, for instance, even though government spends about four times as much subsidizing housing for upper-income homeowners.

That's a long-winded way of saying that these proposed laws — which insist that government beneficiaries prove themselves worthy, that they spend government money how the government wants them to, that they waive their privacy and personal freedom to get it — are also simply a reflection of a basic double-standard."
us  poverty  government  benefits  2015  politics  discrimination  patronization  legibility  illegibility  indignity  emilybadger  privacy  freedom  control  suzannemettler  law  legal  morality  inequality 
april 2015 by robertogreco
No legal merit | A Working Library
"In happier news, The Verge reports on Amazon’s shameless enforcement of non-competes for low-wage temporary workers, and Amazon rapidly about-faces. Nevermind pageviews and reading time, let’s measure publishing success by the actual change we bring about. Metrics could include unjust laws repealed, despicable company policies reversed, social welfare improved, centimeters of sea level increase averted, pseudo-science rejected, reduction in atmospheric carbon, happy children, puppies with loving homes. I’m only half-kidding. Business metrics are critical, but they’re not why we pour our hearts into this work, and we can’t ever let the numbers obscure that."



"An interesting aside: media Twitter was understandably aghast at Facebook’s new initiative, while seemingly unmoved by similar patterns on YouTube. I suspect this is because we have feels about words that we don’t have with video. It’s worth noting that while the web has become the de facto distribution method for video, the internet—that is, the open network of hypertext documents—privileges words over images. HTML is words annotating words. Words are foundational to HTML; images and video are not. Even our relationship to images is driven by language: one can “read” a picture, and our interpretation of images is constrained by words. I’m tempted to think our angst about the economy of letters should be directed at the underlying economic concerns—of which publishing is only one victim—and away from the words themselves. The words will be fine."
2015  mandybrown  metrics  journalism  activism  justice  policy  politics  business  measurement  publishing  success  change  changemaking  socialwelfare  society  law  legal  progress  climatechange  science  education  happiness  ellenpao  gender  inequality  amazon  labor  exploitation  women  facebook  html  text  images  video  youtube 
march 2015 by robertogreco
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