Friday, May 8, 2015

the future of cities

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/enrique-penalosa/cities-future_b_7216732.html

"We have had cities for more than 6,000 years. Until very recently, a child could walk without fear anywhere in them. In 1900, nobody was killed by a car in the United States. . .because there were no cars. Just 20 years later, as Peter Norton, a professor at the University of Virginia, found in his book "Fighting Traffic," more than 200,000 people were killed by cars. In 1925 alone, cars killed about 6,000 children. Cities and life in cities had changed. We should have started to make cities different to accommodate cars, where every other street would be for pedestrians only, for example. But instead we just made the streets bigger and bigger.
It is a truism to say that cities are for people. The urban challenge for the next few decades is to truly make them so, by doing things like turning half of every road into pedestrian-and-bicyclists-only space, or making every other street usable only by walkers and cyclists.
Much of the discussion about our urban future will probably refer to the distribution of that most valuable physical urban resource: road space. Democratically, every citizen has an equal right to road space, regardless of whether he or she has a car or not. How should road space be distributed between pedestrians, bicyclists, public transport and cars?"

Monday, May 4, 2015

No more Freedom of Assembly for You!

http://america.aljazeera.com/opinions/2015/5/countries-across-world-are-revoking-freedom-of-assembly.html

"Spain is only the latest 'democracy' to consign freedom of assembly to the dustbin. While earlier eras of protest and riot sometimes wrested concessions from the state, today the government’s default response is to implement increasingly draconian laws against the public exercise of democracy. It raises the question: How many rights must be abrogated before a liberal democracy becomes a police state?
In Quebec, where student strikes against austerity once again disrupt civil society, marches are being declared illegal before they’ve even begun. At the height of the last wave of student strikes in 2012, the Quebec legislature passed Bill 78, which made pickets and unauthorized gatherings of over 50 people illegal, and punished violations with fines of up to $5,000 for individuals and $125,000 for organizations. Similar fines are once again imposed on protesters.
Last October, a new law was passed in Turkey allowing police to search demonstrators and their homes without warrants or even grounds for suspicion, a much looser definition and harsher punishment for resisting arrest, and making covering your face at a protest or shouting particular slogans crimes punishable by years of jail time. This February in London police forced climate protest organizers to hire private security for marshaling a rally, making protesting not a free public right but an expensive private service.
The list goes on: France banned Palestine solidarity demonstrations; police in Australia gained the power to ban protesters from appearing in public spaces for a year, even if they work or live there; and Egypt, Ukraine and Russia’s governments have outlawed protest entirely. Mexico’s congress approved 'la ley antimarchas', which, if ratified by the state-level governments, will modify the constitution so that any unauthorized gathering would be illegal: the constitutional end to freedom of assembly. All of this in 2014."

Monday, April 13, 2015

Are Free Range Kids bad?

http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/free-range-kids-and-our-parenting-police-state/2015/04/13/42c30336-e1df-11e4-905f-cc896d379a32_story.html

"The Silver Spring siblings were about 2 1/2 blocks from their home Sunday when Montgomery County police got a call reporting them — gasp — playing alone.
'The police coerced our children into the back of a patrol car and kept them trapped there for three hours, without notifying us, before bringing them to the Crisis Center, and holding them there without dinner for another two and a half hours,' their mom, Danielle Meitiv, said to her Facebook friends. 'We finally got home at 11 pm and the kids slept in our room because we were all exhausted and terrified'.”

Could the police be sued for kidnapping?  As I recall my childhood, the main rule was to be home at a certain time.  We ranged far and wide, but kept to that one rule.

Friday, April 10, 2015

High-frequency trading is ruining the stock market

http://www.bbc.com/news/business-32246655

"Mr Lewis says the major question is how to structure markets for stocks and shares as well as bonds and currencies as computers slowly and inexorably take over from human traders.
Martin Wheatley, the head of the markets watchdog the Financial Conduct Authority, has said that high-frequency trading now accounts for 30% of business on the UK equity market. In America it is higher.
Mr Lewis says that it is unclear - certainly in the US at least - whether the regulators are going to do anything about what he says is such a major problem.
One reason, he argues, is the "revolving door" between the Wall Street banks and firms engaged in high-frequency trading and the regulators themselves. A 'cosy club' has grown up, he says.
But, although that may be the case, Mr Lewis actually argues that the story of Flash Boys is one of hope.
And that's because the main witness in his book, Brad Katsuyama, a trader at the Royal Bank of Canada, has set up an exchange called IEX which seeks to eliminate 'predatory opportunities created by speed'."

I have mostly left the stock market because of stuff like this.

Friday, March 27, 2015

It does matter who you vote for; Republicans try to mess up the US

http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/03/27/us-usa-budget-idUSKBN0MN0LR20150327

"(Reuters) - The Senate passed a Republican-authored budget plan early on Friday that seeks $5.1 trillion in domestic spending cuts over 10 years while boosting military funding.
The 52-46 vote on the non-binding budget resolution put Congress on a path to complete its first full budget in six years. It came at the end of a marathon 18-hour session that saw approval of dozens of amendments ranging from Iran sanctions to carbon emissions and immigration policies.
Two Republican senators who are running or considering running for president, Ted Cruz and Rand Paul, voted against their party's budget plan, which is similar to one passed by House Republicans on Wednesday.
In addition to aiming to eliminate deficits within 10 years, both documents seek to ease the path for a repeal or replacement of President Barack Obama's signature health care reform law."




Who are we so afraid of that we have to INCREASE defense spending?  And why would we pay for that by depriving people of affordable health care?  Who actually thinks this way? And why would anyone vote for someone who thinks this way?

Thursday, February 5, 2015

A minimum income was tried in Canada, and it worked

http://motherboard.vice.com/read/the-mincome-experiment-dauphin

"Critics of basic income guarantees have insisted that giving the poor money would disincentivize them to work, and point to studies that show ​a drop in peoples' willingness to work under pilot programs. But in Dauphin—thought to be the largest such experiment conducted in North America—the experimenters found that the primary breadwinner in the families who received stipends were in fact not less motivated to work than before. Though there was some reduction in work effort from mothers of young children and teenagers still in high school—mothers wanted to stay at home longer with their newborns and teenagers weren’t under as much pressure to support their families—the reduction was not anywhere close to disastrous, as skeptics had predicted. "

Well there you go. Now we need to try this in the United States.  How about Rapid City, SD?

Tuesday, February 3, 2015