robertogreco + legal   184

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 
11 weeks ago 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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
Is Police Misconduct a Secret in Your State? | WNYC
"If a police officer in your community has a history of misconduct, can you find out about it? It depends where you live.

WNYC spoke to attorneys and experts in all 50 states and reviewed relevant statutes and court cases to get a national picture of a local issue. We found that a police officer's disciplinary history is effectively confidential in almost half of US states.

In some of these states, the law explicitly exempts these records from public view. In others, records are secret in practice because police departments routinely withhold them under vague legal standards or in spite of court precedents."
police  lawenforcement  accountability  legal 
july 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
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
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
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
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
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
Worker Protections? There’s No App for That | Al Jazeera America
"The tech-driven gig economy is running afoul of employee rights

One Florida man’s unemployment claim could help take down a unicorn.

In April, Darrin McGillis filed for unemployment benefits from Uber, claiming that he was unable to continue driving for the company after his vehicle was damaged. Uber is already facing a handful of lawsuits alleging that drivers should be classified, treated and paid as employees, but McGillis effectively jumped the line. With his claim approved by the state, he is effectively Uber’s first employee driver — and a forerunner of likely more legal trouble to come for the growing app-based service economy that relies on legions of underpaid and underprotected contract workers in order to boost their profits.

The companies of the gig economy, the on-demand economy, the 1099 economy — whatever you want to call it — have proved the most financially successful and most ethically and legally vexing of Silicon Valley’s recent startup surge. The apps may be new, but the contract work arrangement keeping these companies humming is hardly a unique or recent innovation. Hiring contractors to lower tax and legal liabilities has been a business strategy for decades. Taxi drivers were freelancers long before Uber disrupted personal vehicle travel, and they joined blue- and white-collar freelance workers across a variety of industries, from home health aides to truck drivers to engineers.

Potential class-action lawsuits like the ones pending against Lyft and Uber in California may chasten the fast-growing app-based service economy and raise awareness of worker misclassification. But the other millions of freelancers who bear the higher cost of independence with few if any of the protections that come from having a staff job will be as precarious as ever without reforms.

[Timeline]

It’s difficult to quantify freelance work when no one seems to agree what qualifies as such. The Freelancers Union claims there are 43 million independent workers in the U.S., while the Bureau of Labor Statistics counts only 14 million. Depending on whether you include temps, on-call workers and part-time workers, these numbers can change greatly — 15 to 35 percent of the labor force. Regardless of the criteria, this population is steadily increasing.

One reason is companies like Uber. A freelance labor model allows companies to keep tax costs down and prevents workers from unionizing, since they are not protected by the 1935 National Labor Relations Act. Since 1987, the Internal Revenue Service has used a 20-point checklist to determine whether a worker is an employee or an independent contractor, but the list still leaves loopholes and room for interpretation. Long before the sharing economy became San Francisco’s fever dream, federal and state agencies were cracking down on employee misclassification. A Gawker staffer made waves when she successfully received unemployment after being laid off, despite having been considered a freelancer for the news and gossip website. Not long after, workers won lawsuits against FedEx, Lowe’s and a long list of strip clubs. A suit against Google is pending.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics, the Freelancers Union and other organizations say most contract workers are wholly satisfied with their freelance arrangements, according to their informal surveys. Proponents of the shift away from traditional employment claim freelancing’s growing popularity is due to young people embracing entrepreneurial work as opposed to traditional careers. There remains a prevailing sense that independent work is the true American dream — even though it will probably prevent you from achieving that other true American dream, homeownership, because banks tend to turn down mortgage applications from the self-employed.

Last year more than 23 million people declared self-employment income, with median earnings totaling well under $25,000, compared with median employee income of more than $28,000. Corporate entrepreneurship is rewarded with lower tax rates, but the self-employed enjoy none of those benefits, instead paying an additional 7.5 percent in income tax compared with employees. They cannot qualify for an earned income tax credit. They have no guarantee of equal protection under laws mandating minimum wages, sick leave or family leave, nor do they have protection against workplace discrimination, harassment or injury, unless they prevail in a lawsuit.

[Employee and contractor]

Uber and other companies may mischaracterize the nature of their workers’ independence, but many other contractors clearly don’t meet the Internal Revenue Service’s definition of “employee.”

This loophole is not in the spirit of upholding hard-fought labor protections or fostering American entrepreneurship. The contract arrangement that supposedly empowers millions of American workers is actually crippling them. While misclassification lawsuits may do much to help workers at some companies, they do nothing to reform employment law written and implemented in a different era of work.

Uber faces a strong case from thousands of their “freelance” workers who look just like employees. But the company is right about one thing: Our laws weren’t written with this economy in mind. As long as there is money to be saved by shifting risk and responsibility to workers, corporations will do it. Laws protecting workers must be uncoupled from employers. Even if work is flexible, rights never should be."
labor  uber  sharingeconomy  unions  employment  susiecagle  2015  freelancing  contractwork  economic  security  socialsafetynet  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
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
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
Last Week Tonight with John Oliver: U.S. Territories (HBO) - YouTube
"A set of Supreme Court decisions made over 100 years ago has left U.S. territories without meaningful representation. That’s weird, right?"
us  law  legal  citizenship  guam  americansamoa  puertorico  virginislands  northernmarianaislands  racism  history  voting  votingrights  johnoliver  usterritories 
march 2015 by robertogreco
Seamless Transitions | booktwo.org
"Seamless Transitions is a visualisation of three spaces of immigration judgement, detention and deportation in the UK. Field House in the City is the home of the Special Immigration Appeals Commission (SIAC), designed around the presentation of secret evidence, Harmondsworth IRC at Heathrow is just one part of the UK’s detention estate, and the Inflite Jet Centre at Stansted is where I watched the deportation flights take place in December 2013 – and where they still carry on.

Each of these spaces is “unphotographable” in the traditional sense, so I used investigative journalism techniques, eyewitness accounts and other research to reconstruct each of them. I then took these plans to Picture Plane, a leading architectural visualiser about whose work I have written at length before. The resultant film – a walkthrough of the virtual environments created by Picture Plane based on research and investigation of real spaces – is a simulacram that nevertheless reveals a reality, one which has remained hidden behind law and indifference.

I have written more about the sites depicted for the Guardian newspaper [http://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2015/jan/27/hidden-world-of-uk-deportation-asylum-seamless-transitions ]:
Politicians on all sides – when it suits them – have criticised the current asylum system. Human-rights groups and courts have questioned the legality of many of its aspects. Successive reports over a decade have decried the conditions, management and humanity of the flights and detention centres. Newspaper stories every month recount a litany of abuses, deaths, broken families and traumatised individuals. But even if you don’t know these stories, just watching people of colour being loaded off buses by burly men in hi-vis jackets at night is enough to tell you something inhumane, morally embarrassing, legally questionable and fundamentally objectionable is going on.

And I wrote about the investigative process and the meaning of visualisation for the Border Criminologies blog of the Centre for Criminology [http://bordercriminologies.law.ox.ac.uk/seamless-transitions/ ] at the University of Oxford:
Seamless Transitions is not about the individual stories of immigrants and borders ― as necessary and important as those stories are. It’s about the unaccountability and ungraspability of vast, complex systems: of nation-wide architectures, accumulations of laws and legal processes, infrastructures of intent and prejudice, and structural inequalities of experience and understanding. Through journalistic investigation, academic research, artistic impression, and, I believe, the confluence of these approaches with new technologies, there is an opportunity to see, describe, and communicate the world in ways which have not been possible before.
"

[See also the video interview: https://vimeo.com/117787795 ]
2015  jamesbridle  immigration  deportation  uk  law  visualization  research  journalism  legal  architecture  seamlesstransitions  invisibility 
march 2015 by robertogreco
Enthusiasms: No Copyright Intended
"we live in a post-copyright society where everyone is a serial infringer, yet the outdated laws are still in effect, and sometimes, the copyright holders have the will and means to use those laws to punish single instances of what they, themselves, are likely doing."
2015  copyright  law  legal  hypocrisy  dmca  tumblr  internet  online  fairuse  sharing 
january 2015 by robertogreco
The Sneakiest Way Prosecutors Get a Guilty Verdict: PowerPoint | WIRED
"In Washington state earlier this month, an appeals court threw out a murder conviction based on shoddy work by the defense. But the court also took the prosecutor to task for something even stranger: a bad PowerPoint presentation.

The prosecutor had dressed up her closing argument to the jury with a series of slides, complete with “sound effects and animation,” the appellate court wrote. On one slide, footprints materialized across the bottom of the screen. Other slides exhibited “concentric rings of a target,” with each ring corresponding to an item of evidence; the defendant’s name, Sergey Fedoruk, was in the bull’s-eye. The prosecution’s final slide, the pièce de résistance, opened with a header that said “Murder 2.” Then, under the header, a single word flashed, in all capital letters, in 96-point red type:

[image]

As the word flashed, the prosecutor told the jury: “The defendant is guilty, guilty, guilty.”

At least 10 times in the last two years, US courts have reversed a criminal conviction because prosecutors violated the rules of fair argument with PowerPoint. In even more cases, an appellate court has taken note of such misconduct while upholding the conviction anyway or while reversing on other grounds (as in the case of Sergey Fedoruk). Legal watchdogs have long asserted that prosecutors have plenty of ways to quietly put their thumb on the scales of justice —such as concealing exculpatory evidence, eliminating jury-pool members based on race, and so on. Now they can add another category: prosecution by PowerPoint. “It’s the classic ‘A picture is worth a thousand words,’” said Eric Broman, a Seattle attorney who focuses on criminal appeals. “Until the courts say where the boundaries are, prosecutors will continue to test the boundaries.”

Perhaps the most common misuse of what some legal scholars call “visual advocacy” is the emblazoning of the word “Guilty” across a defendant’s photo. Almost always the letters are red—the “color of blood and the color used to denote losses,” as one court wrote."
law  legal  powerpoint  justice  injustice  presentation  imagery  us  policy  prosecution  2014 
january 2015 by robertogreco
Tony Comstock's Kōan of Silence » Blog Archive » Art with a Capital A
"In my films there is no ennui, no cynicism, no boredom or brutality, no disenfranchisement, disconnection, or disaffection. These are the proven cinematic devices used to signal “But this is art,” – devices I intentionally banish from my films. I want to create a sexual and cinematic environment devoid of the familiar landmarks found in art,and scrubbed clean of the familiar hiding places that allow people to watch lovemaking with clinical detachment.

In my films the human condition is a joyful condition. In my films human beings revel in their ability to connect with one another; physically, mentally, emotionally. In my films people know what they want and get what they want. My films are idealistic, passionate, and compassionate. In short, my films are a refutation of everything that art, and especially art films have tried to teach me about love and sex. Where art is expected to be cool and detached, my films are lush; where art is expected to be coy, my films are frank; where art is expected to celebrate pain, my films celebrate pleasure.

But these films are also a refutation nearly of everything I was taught about the art game.

What I was taught is that what can be said is more important that what is seen; what can be argued is more important than what is felt; and that anything anything anything can be art, so long as the “artist’s statement” is sufficiently clever. (Of course the trump card is “You are simply too unsophisticated to understand why this is art.”)

Well guess what? I’m calling bullshit.

I’m calling bullshit on the fraud and the fakery, the mannered ugliness and studied brutality. I’m calling bullshit on the clever artists statements, cunning manifestos, wine and cheese receptions, director’s Q&As, panel discussions. I’m calling bullshit on all of it.

I’m calling bullshit on the fact that the same night police were sent to prevent the screening of ASHLEY AND KISHA the cultural elites were across town at ACMI watching DESTRICTED, and chattering about it as if the film was anything other that a crass publicity stunt, calculated precisely in accordance with cultural norms, and challenging nothing.

I’m calling bullshit on being told I have to choose between the chardonnay sippers and the talk show hosts. I’m not picking sides because they’re on the same team.

I’m calling bullshit on the cheap provocation, with everyone lining up for their meager share of another 15 minutes of media fame.

I’m calling bullshit on the fundraising letter that will go out from the right and the golf-clap that will rise up from the left.

I’m calling bullshit because after it’s all over, nothing will have changed. (After it’s all over, loving, consensual sex between adults, shown as the most joyful of human pleasures will still be among the most radical and subversive subjects a photographic artist can focus his camera upon.)

But mostly I’m calling bullshit on the silly idea that art is a justification.

Art is vocation. Art is avocation. As entertainment, or hobby, or even mere whimsy, art is important. But in an era when everything from toilet bowls to bags of trash are called art, if you want to defend a grown man spending his time with naked 12 year-olds and taking pictures, you’re going to have come up with a better reason than art.

Tell me you just don’t think it’s a big deal; that we are entirely too hysterical about all this stuff. I’ll listen. I may or many not agree, but I’ll listen.

Tell me you’re not sure how you feel about Mr. Henson and the parents who provide him with his “vehicles”, but you feel cautious about handing the decision about what a parent should or should not do over to the state. I’m all ears; and once we’ve hashed that out we can discuss parental notification laws.

But do not tell me it’s okay because Bill Henson was making art; I’m no more ready to accept that than to accept that Ed Gien’s art making excuses, justifies, or even mitigates what he did. You do something criminal, you get punished. You do something reprehensible, you get shunned. You make some art along the way, that’s a footnote.

Do not tell me it’s okay for a middle-aged man to spend his time taking naked photographs of 12 year old girls, so long as he’s making art. My family and I live every day of our lives on the wrong side of this unanswerable and meaningless question about what is and what is not art. We know what happens when the state says “No, that’s not art.” We live every day with the possibility that we will be deprived of our livelihood, our property, our freedom because somewhere someone in a position of power might ask this question about our films, and then answer as they see fit.

Lastly, I’ve seen in the last few days that some of the photos in question are now available to be seen online, but with the naughty bits covered by black bars. This is quiet possibly the low point in this whole farcical episode, and to illustrate my point, I would propose that we conduct another thought experiment:

Let us suppose that a photographer were to create photographs of children that even the most liberal of minds would readily recognize as evidence of child abuse. Now let us suppose that she were to display these photographs with the naughty bits covered with black bars so as to render the photos devoid of the sort of details that are commonly use by art critics and censors to distinguish between what is art and what is not; the sort of details the Australian Office of Film and Literature insisted that I remove from DAMON AND HUNTER before they would declare it to be art, and allow it to be screened at the Sydney International Gay & Lesbian Documentary Film Festival.

Would these photographs be provocative? No doubt. Challenging to our sensibilities? I’d hope so. Would they be art? Maybe, but it doesn’t matter. The photos would be evidence of a crime and the people who made them would be criminals."

[via: https://twitter.com/CaptDavidRyan/status/552233813494231042 and
https://twitter.com/CaptDavidRyan/status/552160885763215360 ]
tonycomstock  art  artascover  law  legal  2010  via:davidryan  artasdefense  edglien  2008  billhenson  photography  film  fraud  fakery  decency  responsibility  socialjustice  artgame  ennui  frankness  detatchment  coyness  pleasure 
january 2015 by robertogreco
Anarchism 101 | Human Iterations
"The freedom of all is essential to my freedom. I am truly free only when all human beings, men and women, are equally free. The freedom of other men, far from negating or limiting my freedom, is, on the contrary, its necessary premise and confirmation." –Mikhail Bakunin

***

For anarchists who do know something about anthropology, the arguments are all too familiar. A typical exchange goes something like this:

Skeptic: Well, I might take this whole anarchism idea more seriously if you could give me some reason to think it would work. Can you name me a single viable example of a society which has existed without a government?

Anarchist: Sure. There have been thousands. I could name a dozen just off the top of my head: the Bororo, the Baining, the Onondaga, the Wintu, the Ema, the Tallensi, the Vezo… All without violence or hierarchy.

Skeptic: But those are all a bunch of primitives! I’m talking about anarchism in a modern, technological society.

Anarchist: Okay, then. There have been all sorts of successful experiments: experiments with worker’s self-management, like Mondragon; economic projects based on the idea of the gift economy, like Linux; all sorts of political organizations based on consensus and direct democracy…

Skeptic: Sure, sure, but these are small, isolated examples. I’m talking about whole societies.

Anarchist: Well, it’s not like people haven’t tried. Look at the Paris Commune, the free states in Ukraine and Manchuria, the 1936 revolution in Spain…

Skeptic: Yeah, and look what happened to those guys! They all got killed!

***

"The dice are loaded. You can’t win. Because when the skeptic says “society,” what he really means is “state,” even “nation-state.” Since no one is going to produce an example of an anarchist state—that would be a contradiction in terms—what we‟re really being asked for is an example of a modern nation-state with the government somehow plucked away: a situation in which the government of Canada, to take a random example, has been overthrown, or for some reason abolished itself, and no new one has taken its place but instead all former Canadian citizens begin to organize themselves into libertarian collectives. Obviously this would never be allowed to happen. In the past, whenever it even looked like it might—here, the Paris commune and Spanish civil war are excellent examples—the politicians running pretty much every state in the vicinity have been willing to put their differences on hold until those trying to bring such a situation about had been rounded up and shot.

There is a way out, which is to accept that anarchist forms of organization would not look anything like a state. That they would involve an endless variety of communities, associations, networks, projects, on every conceivable scale, overlapping and intersecting in any way we could imagine, and possibly many that we can’t. Some would be quite local, others global. Perhaps all they would have in common is that none would involve anyone showing up with weapons and telling everyone else to shut up and do what they were told. And that, since anarchists are not actually trying to seize power within any national territory, the process of one system replacing the other will not take the form of some sudden revolutionary cataclysm—the storming of a Bastille, the seizing of a Winter Palace—but will necessarily be gradual, the creation of alternative forms of organization on a world scale, new forms of communication, new, less alienated ways of organizing life, which will, eventually, make currently existing forms of power seem stupid and beside the point. That in turn would mean that there are endless examples of viable anarchism: pretty much any form of organization would count as one, so long as it was not imposed by some higher authority, from a klezmer band to the international postal service." –David Graeber

***

"See, what we always meant by socialism wasn’t something you forced on people, it was people organizing themselves as they pleased into co-ops, collectives, communes, unions. …And if socialism really is better, more efficient than capitalism then it can bloody well compete with capitalism. So we decided, forget all the statist shit and the violence: the best place for socialism is the closest to a free market you can get!" –Ken Macleod

***

"But where would these ne’er-do-wells be taken, once they were brought into “custody”? Specialized firms would develop, offering high security analogs to the current jailhouse. However, the “jails” (or rehabilitation programs) in market anarchy would compete with each other to attract criminals.

Consider: No insurance company would vouch for a serial killer if he applied for a job at the local library, but they would deal with him if he agreed to live in a secure building under close scrutiny. The insurance company would make sure that the “jail” that held him was well-run. After all, if the person escaped and killed again, the insurance company would be held liable, since it pledges to make good on any damages its clients commit.

On the other hand, there would be no undue cruelty for the prisoners in such a system. Although they would have no chance of sudden unchaperoned escape (unlike government prisons), they wouldn’t be beaten by sadistic guards. If they were, they’d simply switch to a different “jail,” just as travelers can switch hotels if they view the staff as discourteous. Again, the insurance company (which vouches for a violent person) doesn’t care which jail its client chooses, so long as its inspectors have determined that the jail will not let its client simply escape into the general population and do harm." –Robert Murphy

***

"Knowledge is an immense power. Man must know. But we already know much! What if that knowledge should become the possession of all? Would not science itself progress in leaps, and cause mankind to make strides in production, invention, and social creation, of which we are hardly in a condition now to measure the speed?" –Peter Kropotkin

***

"To the daring belongs the future." –Emma Goldman

***

Primers

“Towards Anarchy” – Errico Malatesta, 1920
[http://dwardmac.pitzer.edu/Anarchist_Archives/malatesta/towardsanarchy.html ]

“Anarchy Works” – Peter Gelderloos, 2010
[http://theanarchistlibrary.org/library/peter-gelderloos-anarchy-works ]

***

Theory

The Possibility of Cooperation – Michael Taylor
An influential work in game theory, Taylor covers how most of the collective action problems used to justify the state are misdiagnosed and/or solvable through alternative means. pdf torrent | amazon

Organization Theory: A Libertarian Perspective – Kevin Carson
A comprehensive survey of the economic dynamics that pressure for and against large organizations and hierarchies, as well as the historical and political causes of our present situation. full text | direct purchase | amazon

How Nonviolence Protects The State – Peter Gelderloos
How nonviolence is rarely responsible for the historical victories often claimed in its name, the difficulty of defining “violence” and the problems with absolutist constraints on tactics. full text | printable booklet | amazon

Markets Not Capitalism: Individualist Anarchism Against Bosses, Inequality, Corporate Power, and Structural Poverty – ed. Charles Johnson & Gary Chartier
A collection of pieces on a variety of topics, united by a focus on the centrifugal dynamics within truly freed markets that equalize wealth and facilitate broad resistance to power dynamics. pdf | direct purchase | amazon | audiobook

Anarchy and the Law: The Political Economy of Choice – ed. Edward Stringham
Writings on conflict mediation mechanisms in societies with polycentric social norms and arbitration courts. amazon | direct purchase"
anarchism  mikhailbakunin  favidgraeber  introduction  emmagoldman  peterkropotkin  robertmurphy  kenmacleod  theory  primers  anarchy  petergelderoos  kevincarson  michaeltaylor  edwardstringham  charlesjohnson  garychartier  capitalism  inequality  power  horizontality  law  legal  nonviolence  gametheory 
january 2015 by robertogreco
Poll: Most Americans Want to Criminalize Pre-Teens Playing Unsupervised - Reason.com
"A whopping 68 percent of Americans think there should be a law that prohibits kids 9 and under from playing at the park unsupervised, despite the fact that most of them no doubt grew up doing just that.

What's more: 43 percent feel the same way about 12-year-olds. They would like to criminalize all pre-teenagers playing outside on their own (and, I guess, arrest their no-good parents)."
helicopterparenting  lenoreskenazy  2014  children  freedom  supervision  authority  parenting  us  law  legal  unschooling  deschooling  safety  fear  helicopterparents 
january 2015 by robertogreco
The Coming Showdown Over University Endowments: Enlisting the Donors [.pdf]
"This Essay focuses on the discordance between universities with particularly large endowments and what is occurring in the rest of higher education, particularly with respect to skyrocketing tuition and a growing institutional wealth gap. The Essay considers absolute endowment values, the amount of endowment per student, and expense-endowment ratios at sixty private universities. It concludes that a small number of schools have an excess endowment, and then provides a convenient proxy for determining when an endowment is so large that it should receive less preferential tax treatment. The Essay then considers the effects that large endowments have at their home institutions and throughout higher education, the arguments in defense of large endowments, and some frequently proposed modifications to the tax code. The Essay recommends that policymakers modify the charitable deduction for gifts to universities with mega-endowments, as part of a multifaceted effort to spur endowment spending and control tuition."

[See also: https://pinboard.in/u:robertogreco/b:5dcd8b659f56 ]
sarahwaldeck  charities  nonprofit  2009  law  legal  finance  universities  colleges  wealth  taxation  taxes  endowments  charity  nonprofits 
december 2014 by robertogreco
The Breakthrough Institute - Love Your Monsters
"Dr. Frankenstein's crime was not that he invented a creature through some combination of hubris and high technology, but rather that he abandoned the creature to itself. When Dr. Frankenstein meets his creation on a glacier in the Alps, the monster claims that it was not born a monster, but that it became a criminal only after being left alone by his horrified creator, who fled the laboratory once the horrible thing twitched to life. "Remember, I am thy creature," the monster protests, "I ought to be thy Adam; but I am rather the fallen angel, whom thou drivest from joy for no misdeed... I was benevolent and good; misery made me a fiend. Make me happy, and I shall again be virtuous."


Written at the dawn of the great technological revolutions that would define the 19th and 20th centuries, Frankenstein foresees that the gigantic sins that were to be committed would hide a much greater sin. It is not the case that we have failed to care for Creation, but that we have failed to care for our technological creations. We confuse the monster for its creator and blame our sins against Nature upon our creations. But our sin is not that we created technologies but that we failed to love and care for them. It is as if we decided that we were unable to follow through with the education of our children.4

Let Dr. Frankenstein's sin serve as a parable for political ecology. At a time when science, technology, and demography make clear that we can never separate ourselves from the nonhuman world -- that we, our technologies, and nature can no more be disentangled than we can remember the distinction between Dr. Frankenstein and his monster -- this is the moment chosen by millions of well-meaning souls to flagellate themselves for their earlier aspiration to dominion, to repent for their past hubris, to look for ways of diminishing the numbers of their fellow humans, and to swear to make their footprints invisible?"



"4.
The link between technology and theology hinges on the notion of mastery. Descartes exclaimed that we should be "maîtres et possesseurs de la nature."10 

But what does it mean to be a master? In the modernist narrative, mastery was supposed to require such total dominance by the master that he was emancipated entirely from any care and worry. This is the myth about mastery that was used to describe the technical, scientific, and economic dominion of Man over Nature.

But if you think about it according to the compositionist narrative, this myth is quite odd: where have we ever seen a master freed from any dependence on his dependents? The Christian God, at least, is not a master who is freed from dependents, but who, on the contrary, gets folded into, involved with, implicated with, and incarnated into His Creation. God is so attached and dependent upon His Creation that he is continually forced (convinced? willing?) to save it. Once again, the sin is not to wish to have dominion over Nature, but to believe that this dominion means emancipation and not attachment.

If God has not abandoned His Creation and has sent His Son to redeem it, why do you, a human, a creature, believe that you can invent, innovate, and proliferate -- and then flee away in horror from what you have committed? Oh, you the hypocrite who confesses of one sin to hide a much graver, mortal one! Has God fled in horror after what humans made of His Creation? Then have at least the same forbearance that He has.

The dream of emancipation has not turned into a nightmare. It was simply too limited: it excluded nonhumans. It did not care about unexpected consequences; it was unable to follow through with its responsibilities; it entertained a wholly unrealistic notion of what science and technology had to offer; it relied on a rather impious definition of God, and a totally absurd notion of what creation, innovation, and mastery could provide.

Which God and which Creation should we be for, knowing that, contrary to Dr. Frankenstein, we cannot suddenly stop being involved and "go home?" Incarnated we are, incarnated we will be. In spite of a centuries-old misdirected metaphor, we should, without any blasphemy, reverse the Scripture and exclaim: "What good is it for a man to gain his soul yet forfeit the whole world?""

"via this string of tweets from @infrathin:

2 months later, still processing this B. Latour essay http://thebreakthrough.org/index.php/journal/past-issues/issue-2/love-your-monsters …"
https://twitter.com/infrathin/status/544737470605451265

"LT how to be responsible in the way we conceive of what our responsibility is +?"
https://twitter.com/infrathin/status/544737846280863745

"Like responsibility, love is an allegiance to follow through with the monstrous dilemmas created by it. +?"
https://twitter.com/infrathin/status/544738933566083072

"Love and responsibility both require setting aside what we want them to look like. +?"
https://twitter.com/infrathin/status/544739636665651200

"LT so difficult that i don't know how to do it and have never been able to--except briefly in song. How can i expect "us" to do it?"
https://twitter.com/infrathin/status/544740052379901952

"so.... um, love you monsters y'all http://thebreakthrough.org/index.php/journal/past-issues/issue-2/love-your-monsters …"
https://twitter.com/infrathin/status/544740320005853186 ]

[Related: Audrey Watters’s “Ed-Tech's Monsters #ALTC ” https://pinboard.in/u:robertogreco/b:42f77ca711c1 ]
brunlatour  anthropocene  responsibility  love  technology  2012  frankenstein  science  descartes  nature  environment  sustainability  care  nonhumans  emancipation  exploitation  environmentalism  climatechange  modernism  postenvironmentalism  morality  ethics  legal  law  epistemology  reason  decisionmaking  politics  policy  caregiving  intervention  stewardship  posthumanism 
december 2014 by robertogreco
Why has human progress ground to a halt? – Michael Hanlon – Aeon
"Some of our greatest cultural and technological achievements took place between 1945 and 1971. Why has progress stalled?"



"Yet there once was an age when speculation matched reality. It spluttered to a halt more than 40 years ago. Most of what has happened since has been merely incremental improvements upon what came before. That true age of innovation – I’ll call it the Golden Quarter – ran from approximately 1945 to 1971. Just about everything that defines the modern world either came about, or had its seeds sown, during this time. The Pill. Electronics. Computers and the birth of the internet. Nuclear power. Television. Antibiotics. Space travel. Civil rights.

There is more. Feminism. Teenagers. The Green Revolution in agriculture. Decolonisation. Popular music. Mass aviation. The birth of the gay rights movement. Cheap, reliable and safe automobiles. High-speed trains. We put a man on the Moon, sent a probe to Mars, beat smallpox and discovered the double-spiral key of life. The Golden Quarter was a unique period of less than a single human generation, a time when innovation appeared to be running on a mix of dragster fuel and dilithium crystals.

Today, progress is defined almost entirely by consumer-driven, often banal improvements in information technology. The US economist Tyler Cowen, in his essay The Great Stagnation (2011), argues that, in the US at least, a technological plateau has been reached. Sure, our phones are great, but that’s not the same as being able to fly across the Atlantic in eight hours or eliminating smallpox. As the US technologist Peter Thiel once put it: ‘We wanted flying cars, we got 140 characters.’

Economists describe this extraordinary period in terms of increases in wealth. After the Second World War came a quarter-century boom; GDP-per-head in the US and Europe rocketed. New industrial powerhouses arose from the ashes of Japan. Germany experienced its Wirtschaftswunder. Even the Communist world got richer. This growth has been attributed to massive postwar government stimulus plus a happy nexus of low fuel prices, population growth and high Cold War military spending.

But alongside this was that extraordinary burst of human ingenuity and societal change. This is commented upon less often, perhaps because it is so obvious, or maybe it is seen as a simple consequence of the economics. We saw the biggest advances in science and technology: if you were a biologist, physicist or materials scientist, there was no better time to be working. But we also saw a shift in social attitudes every bit as profound. In even the most enlightened societies before 1945, attitudes to race, sexuality and women’s rights were what we would now consider antediluvian. By 1971, those old prejudices were on the back foot. Simply put, the world had changed."



"Lack of money, then, is not the reason that innovation has stalled. What we do with our money might be, however. Capitalism was once the great engine of progress. It was capitalism in the 18th and 19th centuries that built roads and railways, steam engines and telegraphs (another golden era). Capital drove the industrial revolution.

Now, wealth is concentrated in the hands of a tiny elite. A report by Credit Suisse this October found that the richest 1 per cent of humans own half the world’s assets. That has consequences. Firstly, there is a lot more for the hyper-rich to spend their money on today than there was in the golden age of philanthropy in the 19th century. The superyachts, fast cars, private jets and other gewgaws of Planet Rich simply did not exist when people such as Andrew Carnegie walked the earth and, though they are no doubt nice to have, these fripperies don’t much advance the frontiers of knowledge. Furthermore, as the French economist Thomas Piketty pointed out in Capital (2014), money now begets money more than at any time in recent history. When wealth accumulates so spectacularly by doing nothing, there is less impetus to invest in genuine innovation."



"But there is more to it than inequality and the failure of capital.

During the Golden Quarter, we saw a boom in public spending on research and innovation. The taxpayers of Europe, the US and elsewhere replaced the great 19th‑century venture capitalists. And so we find that nearly all the advances of this period came either from tax-funded universities or from popular movements. The first electronic computers came not from the labs of IBM but from the universities of Manchester and Pennsylvania. (Even the 19th-century analytical engine of Charles Babbage was directly funded by the British government.) The early internet came out of the University of California, not Bell or Xerox. Later on, the world wide web arose not from Apple or Microsoft but from CERN, a wholly public institution. In short, the great advances in medicine, materials, aviation and spaceflight were nearly all pump-primed by public investment. But since the 1970s, an assumption has been made that the private sector is the best place to innovate."

[See also this response from Alan Jacobs: http://ayjay.tumblr.com/post/105225967233/the-future-of-ambition

"I’m not sure this essay by Michael Hanlon on the lack of technical and scientific progress over the past 40 years adds much to other recent speculations on the same theme: Tyler Cowen’s book The Great Stagnation, talks by Neal Stephenson on our lack of visionary imagination, and so on.

But it’s an indication at least of a growing awareness that, despite the determined efforts of the advertising world to suggest that everything is getting better all the time, our society is stuck in something of a technological rut, especially with regard to travel and, more important, medical care. Flying is a more frustrating experience than it has ever been and is only getting worse; only Google and Elon Musk are even trying to innovate in automobiling; and, as Hanlon points out, a person getting cancer today will receive treatment not fundamentally different than he or she would have received in 1970, and doesn’t stand a much greater chance of beating the disease.

So why aren’t we doing better? Hanlon offers a few fairly vague suggestions, as does Cowen, but this is an inquiry in its early stages. Let me just offer my two cents — precisely two.

Cent number one: Litigiousness. Every technological development in every field, but especially in health care, is hamstrung by the need to perform due diligence, and then beyond-due diligence, and then absurdly-over-the-top diligence, before putting a product on the market lest the developing company be sued by someone unhappy with their results. How many times have you read about some exciting new cancer treatment — and then never hear about it again, as it disappears into the endless Purgatory of tiny clinical trials that dying people beg (usually unsuccessfully) to be allowed to participate in?

Cent number two: Self-soothing by Device. I suspect that few will think that addition to distractive devices could even possibly be related to a cultural lack of ambition, but I genuinely think it’s significant. Truly difficult scientific and technological challenges are almost always surmounted by obsessive people — people who are grabbed by a question that won’t let them go. Such an experience is not comfortable, not pleasant; but it is essential to the perseverance without which no Big Question is ever answered. To judge by the autobiographical accounts of scientific and technological geniuses, there is a real sense in which those Questions force themselves on the people who stand a chance of answering them. But if it is always trivially easy to set the question aside — thanks to a device that you carry with you everywhere you go — can the Question make itself sufficiently present to you that answering is becomes something essential to your well-being? I doubt it." ]
science  technology  progress  michaelhanlon  tylercowen  attention  distraction  litigiousness  law  legal  funding  economics  capitalism  research  society  channge  inequality  innovation  riskaversion  risktaking  risk  medicine  healthcare 
december 2014 by robertogreco
The American Justice System Is Not Broken
"In July, New York police officer Daniel Pantaleo choked unarmed black man Eric Garner to death, in broad daylight, while a bystander caught it on video. That is what American police do. Yesterday, despite the video, despite an NYPD prohibition of exactly the sort of chokehold Pantaleo used, and despite the New York City medical examiner ruling the death a homicide, a Staten Island grand jury declined even to indict Pantaleo. That is what American grand juries do.

In August, Ferguson, Mo., police officer Darren Wilson shot unarmed black teenager Michael Brown to death in broad daylight. That is what American police do. Ten days ago, despite multiple eyewitness accounts and his own face contradicting Wilson's narrative of events, a grand jury declined to indict Wilson. That is what American grand juries do.

In November 2006, a group of five New York police officers shot unarmed black man Sean Bell to death in the early morning hours of his wedding day. That is what American police do. In April 2008, despite multiple eyewitness accounts contradicting the officers' accounts of the incident, Justice Arthur J. Cooperman acquitted the officers of all charges, including reckless endangerment. That is what American judges do.

In February of 1999, four plainclothes New York police officers shot unarmed black man Amadou Diallo to death outside of his home. That is what American police do. A year later, an Albany jury acquitted the officers of all charges, including reckless endangerment. That is what American juries do.

In November of 1951, Willis McCall, the sheriff of Lake County, Fla., shot and killed Sam Shepherd, an unarmed and handcuffed black man in his custody. That is what American police do. Despite both a living witness and forensic evidence which contradicted his version of events, a coroner's inquest ruled that McCall had acted within the line of duty, and Judge Thomas Futch declined to convene a grand jury at all.

The American justice system is not broken. This is what the American justice system does. This is what America does.

The Atlantic's Ta-Nehisi Coates has written damningly of the American preference for viewing our society's crimes as aberrations—betrayals of some deeper, truer virtue, or departures from some righteous intended path. This is a convenient mythology. If the institutions of white American power taking black lives and then exonerating themselves for it is understood as a failure to live out some more authentic American idea, rather than as the expression of that American idea, then your and my and our lives and lifestyles are distinct from those failures. We can stand over here, and shake our heads at the failures over there, and then return to the familiar business, and everything is OK. Likewise, if the individual police officers who take black lives are just some bad cops doing policework badly, and not good cops doing precisely what America has hired and trained them to do, then white Americans may continue calling the police when black people frighten us, free from moral responsibility for the whole range of possible outcomes.

The murders of Michael Brown, Eric Garner, Sean Bell, Amadou Diallo, Sam Shepherd, and countless thousands of others at the hands of American law enforcement are not aberrations, or betrayals, or departures. The acquittals of their killers are not mistakes. There is no virtuous innermost America, sullied or besmirched or shaded by these murders. This is America. It is not broken. It is doing what it does.

America is a serial brutalizer of black and brown people. Brutalizing them is what it does. It does other things, too, yes, but brutalizing black and brown people is what it has done the most, and with the most zeal, and for the longest. The best argument you can make on behalf of the various systems and infrastructures the country uses against its black and brown citizens—the physical design of its cities, the methods it uses to allocate placement in elite institutions, the way it trains its police to treat citizens like enemy soldiers—might actually just be that they're more restrained than those used against black and brown people abroad. America employs the enforcers of its power to beat, kill, and terrorize, deploys its judiciary to say that that's OK, and has done this more times than anyone can hope to count. This is not a flaw in the design; this is the design.

Policing in America is not broken. The judicial system is not broken. American society is not broken. All are functioning perfectly, doing exactly what they have done since before some of this nation's most prosperous slave-murdering robber-barons came together to consecrate into statehood the mechanisms of their barbarism. Democracy functions. Politicians, deriving their legitimacy from the public, have discerned the will of the people and used it to design and enact policies that carry it out, among them those that govern the allowable levels of violence which state can visit upon citizen. Taken together with the myriad other indignities, thefts, and cruelties it visits upon black and brown people, and the work common white Americans do on its behalf by telling themselves bald fictions of some deep and true America of apple pies, Jesus, and people being neighborly to each other and betrayed by those few and nonrepresentative bad apples with their isolated acts of meanness, the public will demands and enables a whirring and efficient machine that does what it does for the benefit of those who own it. It processes black and brown bodies into white power.

That is what America does. It is not broken. That is exactly what is wrong with it."
us  justice  law  legal  racism  2014  ferguson  michaelbrown  darrenwilson  nyc  nypd  danielpantaleo  ericgarner  ta-nehisicoates  institutionalracism  race  history  amadoudiallo  samshepherd  police  lawenforcement  politics  policy  power  whitepower 
december 2014 by robertogreco
Bolivia passes "Law of Mother Earth" which gives rights to our planet as a living system | Minds
"The Law of Mother Earth ("Ley de Derechos de La Madre Tierra") holds the land as sacred and holds it as a living system with rights to be protected from exploitation, and creates 11 distinguished rights for the environment. It was passed by Bolivia's Plurinational Legislative Assembly. This 10 article law is derived from the first part of a longer draft bill, drafted and released by the Pact of Unity by November 2010. Can we please spread this law? There has to be a way for the free market to interoperate with reverence for this planet. Period.

In accordance with the philosophy of Pachamama, it states, "She is sacred, fertile and the source of life that feeds and cares for all living beings in her womb. She is in permanent balance, harmony and communication with the cosmos. She is comprised of all ecosystems and living beings, and their self-organisation."

"It makes world history. Earth is the mother of all," said Vice-President Alvaro García Linera. "It establishes a new relationship between man and nature, the harmony of which must be preserved as a guarantee of its regeneration."

The law enumerates seven specific rights to which Mother Earth and her constituent life systems, including human communities, are entitled to:

• To life: It is the right to the maintenance of the integrity of life systems and natural processes which sustain them, as well as the capacities and conditions for their renewal

• To the Diversity of Life: It is the right to the preservation of the differentiation and variety of the beings that comprise Mother Earth, without being genetically altered, nor artificially modified in their structure, in such a manner that threatens their existence, functioning and future potential

• To water: It is the right of the preservation of the quality and composition of water to sustain life systems and their protection with regards to contamination, for renewal of the life of Mother Earth and all its components

• To clean air: It is the right of the preservation of the quality and composition of air to sustain life systems and their protection with regards to contamination, for renewal of the life of Mother Earth and all its components

• To equilibrium: It is the right to maintenance or restoration of the inter-relation, interdependence, ability to complement and functionality of the components of Mother Earth, in a balanced manner for the continuation of its cycles and the renewal of its vital processes

• To restoration: It is the right to the effective and opportune restoration of life systems affected by direct or indirect human activities

• To live free of contamination: It is the right for preservation of Mother Earth and any of its components with regards to toxic and radioactive waste generated by human activities

Sources:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Law_of_the_Rights_of_Mother_Earth

http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2011/apr/10/bolivia-enshrines-natural-worlds-rights

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/04/13/bolivias-law-of-mother-earth_n_848966.html

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/12/14/science/earth/14bolivia.html

http://www.newser.com/story/116229/bolivia-to-give-nature-same-rights-as-humans.html "
bolivia  law  legal  environment  sustainability  motherearth  2014  air  water  life  biodiversity  cleanair  restoration 
october 2014 by robertogreco
When Uber and Airbnb Meet the Real World - NYTimes.com
"They subscribe to three core business principles that have become a religion in Silicon Valley: Serve as a middleman, employ as few people as possible and automate everything. Those tenets have worked wonders on the web at companies like Google and Twitter. But as the new, on-demand companies are learning, they are not necessarily compatible with the real world.

The first principle is to be a middleman — or in tech lingo, a platform — connecting the people who post on YouTube with those who watch their videos, or the people who need a ride with people who will drive them. As platforms, the thinking goes, they are just connectors, with no responsibility for what happens there.

For websites, this is codified in law — they are not legally responsible for what their users publish, according to the Communications Decency Act, perhaps the most influential law in the development of the web. That is why Yelp avoids liability when people post inaccurate or abusive restaurant reviews, and why YouTube does not have to remove videos that some find offensive.

The law protects online speech, not actions people take in the offline world. Yet its ethos has permeated Silicon Valley so deeply that people invoke it even for things that happen offline.

“These folks grew up in a world where platforms are not responsible, and then when they go do stuff in the real world, they expect that to be the case,” said Ryan Calo, an assistant professor at the University of Washington law school who studies cyber law.

Take Airbnb’s terms of service. “Airbnb provides an online platform that connects hosts who have accommodations to rent with guests seeking to rent such accommodations,” it says. “Airbnb has no control over the conduct” of hosts or guests, the terms continue, and “disclaims all liability in this regard.”

Yet it is one thing to say a company has no control over the conduct of online commenters, and another when its users are in people’s homes or cars. Airbnb, like others, has been forced to learn the limits of its status as a platform. In response to reports of renters’ damaging and ransacking homes, it added a round-the-clock hotline for people in unsafe situations and a policy covering $1 million in loss or damages.

The second web business principle is to minimize the number of paid on-staff employees. Tech companies have long shunned the idea of hiring lots of sales staffers or call-center workers. Instead they automate ad sales with auction algorithms or offer help forums where other customers offer advice on their sites. When Instagram was acquired by Facebook, it employed 13 people; Kodak, in its heyday, employed more than 140,000.

That mentality may be why new on-demand companies are running into trouble with workers. Most of these companies avoid having employees by using contract workers. But some are wondering whether the companies are pushing the definition of contract worker too far. Uber drivers have filed class-action lawsuits in Massachusetts and California, and advocates are pushing for things like benefits and disability compensation for workers at many start-ups."
siliconvalley  labor  uber  airbnb  regulation  law  legal  2014  homejoy  middlemen  work  clairecainmiller  responsibility  sharingeconomy 
october 2014 by robertogreco
Silicon Valley’s Contract-Worker Problem -- NYMag
"But increasingly, critics argue that the freelance model is being abused, with workers being treated as if they were on payroll without getting any of the benefits afforded to payrolled employees. Some Silicon Valley insiders are beginning to worry that start-ups' overreliance on contract workers could come back to haunt them if they run afoul of longstanding labor rules. If that happens, these high-flying disruptors could be facing serious disruption themselves."
uber  siliconvalley  homejoy  kevinroose  labor  work  2014  airbnb  washio  handy.com  regulation  munchery  myclean  legal  spoonrocket  taskrabbit  doordash  postmates  lyft  sharingeconomy 
october 2014 by robertogreco
Last Week Tonight with John Oliver: Civil Forfeiture (HBO) - YouTube
"Did you know police can just take your stuff if they suspect it's involved in a crime? They can!
It’s a shady process called “civil asset forfeiture,” and it would make for a weird episode of Law and Order. See?"
civilforfeiture  johnoliver  lawenforcement  justice  law  legal  us  policy  politics  police  power  corruption  2014 
october 2014 by robertogreco
Shoshan Zuboff on “Big Data” as Surveillance Capitalism
"VII. HOW TO CONSTRUCT A FUTURE THAT WE CAN CALL HOME

Why is it that the declaration of surveillance capitalism has met so little resistance? Searle’s reasoning is a good guide. Agreement? Yes, there were and are plenty of people who think surveillance capitalism is a reasonable business model. (We’ll have to leave why they think so to another discussion.) Authority? Yes. The tech leaders have been imbued with the authority of expertise and idolized as entrepreneurs. Persuasion? Absolutely. All the neoliberal buzzwords of entrepreneurialism, creative destruction, disruption, etc. persuaded many that these developments were right and necessary. A quid pro quo? Yes, powerfully so. The new free services of search and connection were exactly what we needed and have become essential to social participation. When Facebook went down last month, a lot of Americans called 911 (emergency services).

Was there any use of force or other means to foreclose alternatives? No military force was needed. Instead, as the new logic became the dominant business model for online companies and start-ups, it spawned millions of related institutionalized facts— ancillary and intermediary business services, professional specializations, new language, IPOs, tons of cash, network effects, unprecedented concentrations of information power. All these limit our sense that there can be any alternative. And finally, how about a lack of understanding? This is the most salient reason of all. Most people did not and could not appreciate the extent to which the new “facts” depended upon surveillance. This colossal asymmetry of understanding helps explain why Edward Snowden was necessary. Somebody had to be Ed Snowden

What kind of resistance has been offered and why has it failed to stop the spread of surveillance capitalism? Here I depart from Searle in order to introduce two distinct varieties of declaration that I think can help us understand more about how the future unfolds. I suggest that the kind of resistance that has been offered so far takes the form of what I call the “counter-declaration.” A counter-declaration is defensive. It addresses the institutional facts asserted by the declaration. The process of countering seeks to impose constraints or achieve compromise, but it does not annihilate the contested fact. In addressing those facts, it invariably increases their power. Negotiation inevitably legitimates the other. This is why many governments refuse to negotiate with terrorists. As Searle noted, even talking about something or referring to it increases its reality by treating it as a thing that is already real. It’s a classic quick-sand situation in that the more you fight it, the more it sucks you in.

What are examples of counter-declarations? Google and other Internet companies have been the targets of many privacy-related lawsuits. Some of these efforts have imposed real constraints, such as prohibiting Google Street View cars to extract personal data from computers inside homes, or the class action that resulted in Facebook’s suspension of its invasive “Beacon” program. Legal actions like these can limit certain practices for a time, but they do not topple the institutionalized facts of surveillance capitalism in the target or other companies. Encryption is another counter-declaration. When we encrypt, we acknowledge the reality of the thing we are trying to evade. Rather than undoing that reality, encryption ignites an arms race with the very thing it disputes. Privacy tools like “opt out” or “do not track” are another example. When I click on “do not track,” what I am really saying is “do not track me.” My choice does not stop the company from tracking everyone else.

I want to be clear that I am not critical of counter-declarations. They are necessary and vital. We need more of them. But the point I do want to make is that counter-declarations alone will not stop this train. They run a race that they can never win. They may lead to a balance of power, but they will not in and of themselves construct an alternative to surveillance capitalism.

What will enable us to move forward in a new way? As I see it, we will have to move on to a new kind of declaration that I am calling a “synthetic declaration.” By this I mean a declaration that synthesizes the opposing facts of declaration and counter-declaration. It arises from— and draws to it —new and deeper wellsprings of collective intentionality. It asserts an original vision. If the counter-declaration is check, the synthetic declaration is checkmate.

Does information capitalism have to be based on surveillance. No. But surveillance capitalism has emerged as a leading version of information capitalism. We need new synthetic declarations to define and support other variants of information capitalism that participate in the social order, value people, and reflect democratic principles. New synthetic declarations can provide the framework for a new kind of double movement appropriate to our time.

Are there examples? There are glimmers. The past year brought us Ed Snowden, who asserted a new reality at great personal sacrifice by claiming this to be a world in which the information he provided should be shared information. Wikileaks has also operated in this spirit. The EU Court’s decision on the right to be forgotten points in the direction of a synthetic declaration by establishing new facts for the online world. (In my view, it also faltered, perhaps inadvertently, by also establishing new facts that grant Google inappropriate new powers.

Mathias Doepfner’s open letter to Google chairperson Eric Schmidt, published in FAZ last spring, called for a synthetic declaration in the form of a unique European narrative of the digital, one that is not subjugated to the institutional facts asserted by the Internet giants.

Indeed, I think it can be said that the German people are now drawing on their unique historical experience to produce their own synthetic declaration that insists on a different kind of digital future. Note that The Economist just published an article titled “Googlephobia in Germany.” The aim of such language is to suggest that it’s neurotic and therefore irrational to oppose Google’s practices. It’s a classic counter-declaration that reveals the powerful effect of Germany’s new thinking. The real fear is that Germany might produce a synthetic declaration that opens a space for alternative forms of information capitalism to flourish.

I am mindful of a long list of demands that were damned as “neurotic” and unreasonable in America a century ago, as the contest over 20th century capitalism accelerated: labor unions, a living wage, business regulation, racial equality, womens’ right to vote, a high school education…. For anyone who thinks Germany’s concerns are “phobic,” one need only recall the revelations less than a year ago that the NSA was spying on Joaquin Almunia, the EU official who presides over the Google antitrust case. Or the recently published emails that provide fresh glimpses of the collaborative relationship between the NSA and Google. And should we mention that Google’s chairperson, Schmidt, also sits on the board of the Economist Group?

Our world sorely needs more —and more comprehensive—synthetic declarations that point us in a wholly new direction. We need new facts that assert the primacy of humanity, the dignity of the person, the bonds of democratic community strengthened by individual empowerment and knowledge, and the well being of our planet. This does not mean that we should construct utopias. Rather, it means that we should draw upon the authentic promise of the digital— the promise that we grasped before Ed Snowden entered history.

In the shadow and gloom of today’s institutional facts, it has become fashionable to mourn the passing of the democratic era. I say that democracy is the best our species has created so far, and woe to us if we abandon it now. The real road to serfdom is to be persuaded that the declarations of democracy we have inherited are no longer relevant to a digital future. These have been inscribed in our souls, and if we leave them behind— we abandon the best part of ourselves. If you doubt me, try living without them, as I have done. That is the real wasteland, and we should fear it."
soshanazuboff  via:steelemaley  2014  bigdata  declarations  internet  web  online  edwardsnowden  joaquinalmunia  hannaharendt  hamesburnham  frankschirrmacher  germany  europe  advertising  capitalism  surveillancecapitalism  surveillance  privacy  democracy  counterdeclarations  feedom  courage  law  legal  dataexhaust  data  datamining  google 
september 2014 by robertogreco
How Skipping School Could Land Kids in Jail | TakePart
"A controversial interpretation of a law intended to protect troubled teens has opened a new branch of the school-to-prison pipeline."



"Elizabeth Diaz spent 18 days in an adult jail when a judge issued warrants to arrest minors and force them to pay truancy fines or get thrown in jail. Elizabeth’s $1,600 in fines had been imposed in a court where she had no lawyer. She missed her high school exit exam."



"When counselors take the time, they find that most chronic truants are struggling with learning disabilities, emotional distress or mental-health illness, bullying, violence, or financial or other crises."
schooltoprisonpipeline  2014  discipline  law  legal  delinquency  compulsory  truancy  criminalization  education  schools  policy  schooling 
september 2014 by robertogreco
How municipalities in St. Louis County, Mo., profit from poverty - The Washington Post
"Until recently, the Florissant court was one of many that had barred outsiders from its proceedings. After critics like the ArchCity Defenders pointed out that this violated the Missouri Constitution, a circuit court judge ordered these towns to change their policies. Defense attorneys say some courts still haven’t gotten the message. But in Florissant, the city council had a particularly odd response to the order. Town officials claimed the old courtroom was too small to accommodate all the defendants and attorneys, plus journalists, families, and observers. In addition to moving its municipal court to a gymnasium, just last week the council voted to add a $10 fee to every ordinance violation to fund a new, larger courthouse.

After all the recent national attention on Ferguson, local attorneys are floored. “It’s just completely tone deaf,” says Khazaeli. “They got caught violating the law. So in response they’re going to build themselves a new courthouse, and they’re going to finance it on the backs of the poor. It’s incredible.”

Harvey says there’s a much easier way to address the crowded courthouse problem. “They could just hold more court sessions. That would easily take care of the overcrowding. It would also make life a little easier for the people who have to come to court. But that would cost the city money. So instead they’re just going to slap a new tax on the poor.”

Still, local attorneys say that even before the rule change, the lines for municipal court sessions in these towns — particularly the poorer towns — could often outside the courthouse doors and wind down sidewalks for blocks.

Florissant is one of the larger towns in the county, with a population of about 52,000. It’s also a bit more affluent, which an average household income above the state average, although its employment rate is slightly lower. Last year the town issued 29,072 tickets for traffic offenses. Florissant collected about $3 million in fines and court costs in fiscal year 2013, about 13 percent of its 2013 revenue. As of June of last year, Florissant’s municipal court also held more than 11,000 outstanding arrest warrants.

For comparison, consider Lee’s Summit, a suburb of Kansas City in Jackson County with a population of 92,000. Yet despite being nearly twice Florissant’s size, in 2013 Lee’s Summit issued a third as many traffic tickets (9,651), and collected less than half as much revenue from its municipal court ($1.44 million) as Florissant. As of June of last year, Lee’s Summit held 2,872 outstanding arrest warrants, only one fourth as many as Florissant.

There are many towns in St. Louis County where the number of outstanding arrest warrants can exceed the number of residents, sometimes several times over. No town in Jackson County comes close to that: The highest ratios are in the towns of Grandview (about one warrant for every 3.7 residents), Independence (one warrant for every 3.5 residents), and Kansas City itself (one warrant for every 1.8 residents).

Just inside the courthouse/gymnasium door in Florissant, two police officers and a court clerk check people in. In the middle of the gym, about 200 chairs sit neatly aligned in rows. Court has been in session for over an hour now, but most of the seats are still occupied. About 80 percent of the people in the gym tonight are black, even though blacks make up just 27 percent of the town. According to statistics compiled by Missouri’s attorney general’s office, 71 percent of the people pulled over by Florissant police in 2013 were black. The search and arrest rates for blacks were also twice as high as those rates for whites, even though whites were more likely to be found with contraband, a contradiction that has also been widely reported in Ferguson.

According to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, blacks make up less than eight percent of the Florissant police force. The judge and both prosecutors are white. In nearly all the towns in St. Louis County, the prosecutors and judges in these courts are part-time positions, and are not elected, but appointed by the mayor, town council, or city manager. According to a recent white paper published by the ArchCity Defenders, the chief prosecutor in Florissant Municipal Court makes $56,060 per year. It’s a position that requires him to work 12 court sessions per year, at about three hours per session. The Florissant prosecutor is Ronald Brockmeyer, who also has a criminal defense practice in St. Charles County, and who is also the chief municipal prosecutor for the towns of Vinita Park and Dellwood. He is also the judge – yes, the judge — in both Ferguson and Breckenridge Hills. Brockmeyer isn’t alone: Several other attorneys serve as prosecutor in one town and judge in another. And at least one St. Louis County assistant district attorney is also a municipal court judge.

“I had a felony criminal case in state court a few weeks ago,” says a local defense attorney, who asked not to be quoted by name. “Sometimes criminal cases can get contentious. You have to do everything you can to defend your client, and sometime your interaction with a prosecutor can get combative. A few days later, I was representing a client who had a few warrants in a municipal court where the same prosecutor I was just battling with is now the judge. Is my client is going to get a fair hearing? You hope so. But it sure looks like a conflict to me.”"

Florissant is one of the larger towns in the county, with a population of about 52,000. It’s also a bit more affluent, which an average household income above the state average, although its employment rate is slightly lower. Last year the town issued 29,072 tickets for traffic offenses. Florissant collected about $3 million in fines and court costs in fiscal year 2013, about 13 percent of its 2013 revenue. As of June of last year, Florissant’s municipal court also held more than 11,000 outstanding arrest warrants.

For comparison, consider Lee’s Summit, a suburb of Kansas City in Jackson County with a population of 92,000. Yet despite being nearly twice Florissant’s size, in 2013 Lee’s Summit issued a third as many traffic tickets (9,651), and collected less than half as much revenue from its municipal court ($1.44 million) as Florissant. As of June of last year, Lee’s Summit held 2,872 outstanding arrest warrants, only one fourth as many as Florissant.

There are many towns in St. Louis County where the number of outstanding arrest warrants can exceed the number of residents, sometimes several times over. No town in Jackson County comes close to that: The highest ratios are in the towns of Grandview (about one warrant for every 3.7 residents), Independence (one warrant for every 3.5 residents), and Kansas City itself (one warrant for every 1.8 residents).

Just inside the courthouse/gymnasium door in Florissant, two police officers and a court clerk check people in. In the middle of the gym, about 200 chairs sit neatly aligned in rows. Court has been in session for over an hour now, but most of the seats are still occupied. About 80 percent of the people in the gym tonight are black, even though blacks make up just 27 percent of the town. According to statistics compiled by Missouri’s attorney general’s office, 71 percent of the people pulled over by Florissant police in 2013 were black. The search and arrest rates for blacks were also twice as high as those rates for whites, even though whites were more likely to be found with contraband, a contradiction that has also been widely reported in Ferguson.

According to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, blacks make up less than eight percent of the Florissant police force. The judge and both prosecutors are white. In nearly all the towns in St. Louis County, the prosecutors and judges in these courts are part-time positions, and are not elected, but appointed by the mayor, town council, or city manager. According to a recent white paper published by the ArchCity Defenders, the chief prosecutor in Florissant Municipal Court makes $56,060 per year. It’s a position that requires him to work 12 court sessions per year, at about three hours per session. The Florissant prosecutor is Ronald Brockmeyer, who also has a criminal defense practice in St. Charles County, and who is also the chief municipal prosecutor for the towns of Vinita Park and Dellwood. He is also the judge – yes, the judge — in both Ferguson and Breckenridge Hills. Brockmeyer isn’t alone: Several other attorneys serve as prosecutor in one town and judge in another. And at least one St. Louis County assistant district attorney is also a municipal court judge.

“I had a felony criminal case in state court a few weeks ago,” says a local defense attorney, who asked not to be quoted by name. “Sometimes criminal cases can get contentious. You have to do everything you can to defend your client, and sometime your interaction with a prosecutor can get combative. A few days later, I was representing a client who had a few warrants in a municipal court where the same prosecutor I was just battling with is now the judge. Is my client is going to get a fair hearing? You hope so. But it sure looks like a conflict to me.”

Many of the appointed judges and prosecutors not only don’t reside in the jurisdictions they serve, they have very little in common with the people who do. For example, in the tony town of Clayton, there’s a sheen office building on South Bemiston Avenue with darkened, opaque windows. On the second floor, behind a grand oak door, is the law firm of Curtis, Heinz, Garret, & O’Keefe. The firm employs several attorneys who serve as either prosecutor or assistant prosecutor for at least nine different municipalities. One of the firm’s attorneys, Keith Cheung, is the municipal prosecutor for the towns of Velda City, Hazelwood, and St. Ann, and is also the municipal judge for the city of Ladue. The firm also includes attorneys who serve as the official city attorney in several more … [more]
law  legal  poverty  inequaliity  politics  2014  ferguson  stlouis  race  corruption  courts  lawyers 
september 2014 by robertogreco
The Expanding World of Poverty Capitalism - NYTimes.com
"In Orange County, Calif., the probation department’s “supervised electronic confinement program,” which monitors the movements of low-risk offenders, has been outsourced to a private company, Sentinel Offender Services. The company, by its own account, oversees case management, including breath alcohol and drug-testing services, “all at no cost to county taxpayers.”

Sentinel makes its money by getting the offenders on probation to pay for the company’s services. Charges can range from $35 to $100 a month.

The company boasts of having contracts with more than 200 government agencies, and it takes pride in the “development of offender funded programs where any of our services can be provided at no cost to the agency.”

Sentinel is a part of the expanding universe of poverty capitalism. In this unique sector of the economy, costs of essential government services are shifted to the poor.

In terms of food, housing and other essentials, the cost of being poor has always been exorbitant. Landlords, grocery stores and other commercial enterprises have all found ways to profit from those at the bottom of the ladder.

The recent drive toward privatization of government functions has turned traditional public services into profit-making enterprises as well.

In addition to probation, municipal court systems are also turning collections over to a national network of companies like Sentinel that profit from service charges imposed on the men and women who are under court order to pay fees and fines, including traffic tickets (with the fees being sums tacked on by the court to fund administrative services).

When they cannot pay these assessed fees and fines – plus collection charges imposed by the private companies — offenders can be sent to jail. There are many documented cases in which courts have imprisoned those who failed to keep up with their combined fines, fees and service charges.

“These companies are bill collectors, but they are given the authority to say to someone that if he doesn’t pay, he is going to jail,” John B. Long, a lawyer in Augusta, Ga. active in defending the poor, told Ethan Bronner of The Times.

A February 2014 report by Human Rights Watch on private offender services found that “more than 1,000 courts in several US states delegate tremendous coercive power to companies that are often subject to little meaningful oversight or regulation. In many cases, the only reason people are put on probation is because they need time to pay off fines and court costs linked to minor crimes. In some of these cases, probation companies act more like abusive debt collectors than probation officers, charging the debtors for their services.”

Human Rights Watch also found that in Georgia in 2012, in “a state of less than 10 million people, 648 courts assigned more than 250,000 cases to private probation companies.” The report notes that “there is virtually no transparency about the revenues of private probation companies” since “practically all of the industry’s firms are privately held and not subject to the disclosure requirements that bind publicly traded companies. No state requires probation companies to report their revenues, or by logical extension the amount of money they collect for themselves from probationers.”"



"Poverty capitalism and government policy are now working on their own and in tandem to shift costs to those least equipped to pay and in particular to the least politically influential segment of the poor: criminal defendants and those delinquent in paying fines.

Last year, Ferguson, Mo., the site of recent protests over the shooting of Michael Brown, used escalating municipal court fines to pay 20.2 percent of the city’s $12.75 million budget. Just two years earlier, municipal court fines had accounted for only 12.3 percent of the city’s revenues.

What should be done to interrupt the dangerous feedback loop between low-level crime and extortionate punishment? First, local governments should bring private sector collection charges, court-imposed administrative fees and the dollar amount of traffic fines (which often double and triple when they go unpaid) into line with the economic resources of poor offenders. But larger reforms are needed and those will not come about unless the poor begin to exercise their latent political power. In many ways, everything is working against them. But the public outpouring spurred by the shooting of Michael Brown provides an indication of a possible path to the future. It was, after all, just 50 years ago — not too distant in historical terms — that collective action and social solidarity produced tangible results."
poverty  capitalism  government  privatization  debtslavery  2014  thomasedsall  prisonindustrialcomplex  law  legal  policy  inequality  ferguson  tombeasley  lamaralexander  honeyalexander  incarceration  prisons  poverycapitalism 
august 2014 by robertogreco
Policing by consent
"In light of the ongoing policing situation in Ferguson, Missouri in the wake of the shooting of an unarmed man by a police officer and how the response to the community protests is highlighting the militarization of US police departments since 9/11, it's instructive to look at one of the first and most successful attempts at the formation of a professional police force.

The UK Parliament passed the first Metropolitan Police Act in 1829. The act was introduced by Home Secretary Sir Robert Peel, who undertook a study of crime and policing, which resulted in his belief that the keys to building an effective police force were to 1) make it professional (most prior policing had been volunteer in nature); 2) organize as a civilian force, not as a paramilitary force; and 3) make the police accountable to the public. The Metropolitan Police, whose officers were referred to as "bobbies" after Peel, was extremely successful and became the model for the modern urban police force, both in the UK and around the world, including in the United States.

At the heart of the Metropolitan Police's charter were a set of rules either written by Peel or drawn up at some later date by the two founding Commissioners: The Nine Principles of Policing. They are as follows:

1. To prevent crime and disorder, as an alternative to their repression by military force and severity of legal punishment.

2. To recognise always that the power of the police to fulfil their functions and duties is dependent on public approval of their existence, actions and behaviour, and on their ability to secure and maintain public respect.

3. To recognise always that to secure and maintain the respect and approval of the public means also the securing of the willing co-operation of the public in the task of securing observance of laws.

4. To recognise always that the extent to which the co-operation of the public can be secured diminishes proportionately the necessity of the use of physical force and compulsion for achieving police objectives.

5. To seek and preserve public favour, not by pandering to public opinion, but by constantly demonstrating absolutely impartial service to law, in complete independence of policy, and without regard to the justice or injustice of the substance of individual laws, by ready offering of individual service and friendship to all members of the public without regard to their wealth or social standing, by ready exercise of courtesy and friendly good humour, and by ready offering of individual sacrifice in protecting and preserving life.

6. To use physical force only when the exercise of persuasion, advice and warning is found to be insufficient to obtain public co-operation to an extent necessary to secure observance of law or to restore order, and to use only the minimum degree of physical force which is necessary on any particular occasion for achieving a police objective.

7. To maintain at all times a relationship with the public that gives reality to the historic tradition that the police are the public and that the public are the police, the police being only members of the public who are paid to give full-time attention to duties which are incumbent on every citizen in the interests of community welfare and existence.

8. To recognise always the need for strict adherence to police-executive functions, and to refrain from even seeming to usurp the powers of the judiciary of avenging individuals or the State, and of authoritatively judging guilt and punishing the guilty.

9. To recognise always that the test of police efficiency is the absence of crime and disorder, and not the visible evidence of police action in dealing with them.

As police historian Charles Reith noted in 1956, this philosophy was radical when implemented in London in the 1830s and "unique in history and throughout the world because it derived not from fear but almost exclusively from public co-operation with the police, induced by them designedly by behaviour which secures and maintains for them the approval, respect and affection of the public". Apparently, it remains radical in the United States in 2014. (thx, peter)"
history  police  politics  consent  2014  jasonkottke  kottke  ferguson  robertpeel  1829  lawenforcement  power  publicservants  law  legal 
august 2014 by robertogreco
Delaware becomes first state to give executors broad digital assets access | Ars Technica
"Delaware has become the first state in the US to enact a law that ensures families’ rights to access the digital assets of loved ones during incapacitation or after death.
Last week, Gov. Jack Markell signed House Bill (HB) 345, “Fiduciary Access to Digital Assets and Digital Accounts Act,” which gives heirs and executors the same authority to take legal control of a digital account or device, just as they would take control of a physical asset or document.

Earlier this year, the Uniform Law Commission, a non-profit group that lobbies to enact model legislations across all jurisdictions in the United States, adopted its Uniform Fiduciary Access to Digital Assets Act (UFADAA). Delaware is the first state to take the UFADAA and turn it into a bona fide law.

While some states, including Idaho and Nevada, have some existing provisions pertaining to limited digital assets for heirs, they are not as broad as the new Delaware law. For now, the state's version of UFADAA only applies to residents of Delaware, one of the smallest states by population and land area. If other states don’t follow suit soon, people creating family trusts could conceivably use this Delaware law to their advantage, even without residing in Delaware. However, even though many tech companies (including Twitter, Facebook, and Google) are incorporated there, they will not be affected by the new law."
delaware  law  legal  digital  death  2014  via:alexismadrigal  legacy 
august 2014 by robertogreco
Bert P. Krages Attorney at Law Photographer's Rights Page
"The Photographer’s Right is a downloadable guide that is loosely based on the Bust Card and the Know Your Rights pamphlet that used to be available on the ACLU website. It may be downloaded and printed out using Adobe Acrobat Reader. You may make copies and carry them in your wallet, pocket, or camera bag to give you quick access to your rights and obligations concerning confrontations over photography. You may distribute the guide to others, provided that such distribution is not done for commercial gain and credit is given to the author.

A Stand for Photographer’s Rights

The right to take photographs in the United States is being challenged more than ever. People are being stopped, harassed, and even intimidated into handing over their personal property simply because they were taking photographs of subjects that made other people uncomfortable. Recent examples have included photographing industrial plants, bridges, buildings, trains, and bus stations. For the most part, attempts to restrict photography are based on misguided fears about the supposed dangers that unrestricted photography presents to society.

Ironically, unrestricted photography by private citizens has played an integral role in protecting the freedom, security, and well-being of all Americans. Photography in the United States has an established history of contributing to improvements in civil rights, curbing abusive child labor practices, and providing important information to crime investigators. Photography has not contributed to a decline in public safety or economic vitality in the United States. When people think back on the acts of domestic terrorism that have occurred over the last twenty years, none have depended on or even involved photography. Restrictions on photography would not have prevented any of these acts. Furthermore, the increase in people carrying small digital and cell phone cameras has resulted in the prevention of crimes and the apprehension of criminals.

As the flyer states, there are not very many legal restrictions on what can be photographed when in public view. Most attempts at restricting photography are done by lower-level security and law enforcement officials acting way beyond their authority. Note that neither the Patriot Act nor the Homeland Security Act have any provisions that restrict photography. Similarly, some businesses have a history of abusing the rights of photographers under the guise of protecting their trade secrets. These claims are almost always meritless because entities are required to keep trade secrets from public view if they want to protect them."
law  photography  legal  reference  rights 
august 2014 by robertogreco
"Fleeting pockets of anarchy" Streetwork. The exploding school. | Catherine Burke - Academia.edu
"Colin Ward (1924–2010) was an anarchist and educator who, together with Anthony Fyson, was employed as education officer for the Town and Country Planning Association in the UK during the 1970s. He is best known for his two books about childhood, The Child in the City (1978) and The Child in the Country (1988). The book he co-authored with Fyson, Streetwork. The Exploding School (1973), is discussed in this article as illustrating in practical and theoretical terms Ward’s appreciation of the school as a potential site for extraordinary radical change in relations between pupils and teachers and schools and their localities. The article explores the book alongside the Bulletin of Environmental Education, which Ward edited throughout the 1970s. It argues that the literary and visual images employed in the book and the bulletins contributed to the powerful positive representation of the school as a site of potential radical social change. Finally, it suggests that “fleeting pockets of anarchy” continue to exist in the lives of children through social networking and virtual environments that continue to offer pedagogical possibilities for the imaginative pedagogue."



"Paul Goodman’s work had particular relevance to the development of ideas expressed in Streetwork. Through his fiction, Goodman developed the idea of the “exploding school” which realised the city as an educator. Playing with the notion of the school trip as traditionally envisaged, he created an image of city streets as host to a multitude of small peripatetic groups of young scholars and their adult shepherds. This image was powerfully expressed in Goodman’s 1942 novel, TheGrand Piano; or, The Almanac of Alienation.

Ward quotes extensively from this novel in Streetwork because the imagery and vocabulary so clearly articulate a view of the city and the school that is playfully subversive yet imaginable. In a dialogue between a street urchin and a professor, Goodman has the elder explain:
this city is the only one you’ll ever have and you’ve got to make the best of it. On the other hand, if you want to make the best of it, you’ve got to be able to criticize it and change it and circumvent it . . . Instead of bringing imitation bits of the city into a school building, let’s go at our own pace and get out among the real things. What I envisage is gangs of half a dozen starting at nine or ten years old, roving the Empire City (NY) with a shepherd empowered to protect them, and accumulating experiences tempered to their powers . . . In order to acquire and preserve a habit of freedom, a kid must learn to circumvent it and sabotage it at any needful point as occasion arises . . . if you persist in honest service, you will soon be engaging in sabotage.

Inspired by such envisaged possibilities, Ward came to his own view of anarchism, childhood and education. Sabotage was a function of the transformational nature of education when inculcated by the essential elements of critical pedagogy. In this sense, anarchism was not some future utopian state arrived at through a once-and-for-all, transformative act of revolution; it was rather a present-tense thing, always-already “there” as a thread of social life, subversive by its very nature – one of inhabiting pockets of resistance, questioning, obstructing; its existence traceable through attentive analysis of its myriad ways and forms.

Colin Ward was a classic autodidact who sought connections between fields of knowledge around which academic fences are too often constructed. At the heart of his many enthusiasms was an interest in the meaning and making of space and place, as sites for creativity and learning."



"Fleeting pockets of anarchy and spaces of educational opportunity

The historian of childhood John Gillis has borrowed the notion of the “islanding of children” from Helgar and Hartmut Zeiher as a metaphor to describe how contemporary children relate, or do not relate, to the urban environments that they experience in growing up. Gillis quotes the geographer David Harvey, who has noted that children could even be seen to inhabit islands within islands, while “the internal spatial ordering of the island strictly regulates and controls the possibility of social change and history”. This could so easily be describing the modern school. According to Gillis, “archipelagoes of children provide a reassuring image of stasis for mainlands of adults anxious about change”.

Since the publication of Streetwork, the islanding of childhood has increased, not diminished. Children move – or, more accurately, are moved – from place to place, travelling for the most part sealed within cars. This prevents them encountering the relationships between time and space that Ward believed essential for them to be able to embark on the creation of those fleeting pockets of anarchy that were educational, at least in the urban environment. Meanwhile, the idea of environmental education has lost the urban edge realised fleetingly by Ward and Fyson during the1970s. Environmental education has become closely associated with nature and the values associated with natural elements and forces

If the curriculum of the school has become an island, we might in a sense begin to see the laptop or iPad as the latest islanding, or at least fragmenting, device. Ward and Fyson understood the importance of marginal in-between spaces in social life,where they believed creative flourishing was more likely to occur than in the sanctioned institution central spaces reflecting and representing state authority. This was, they thought, inevitable and linked to play, part of what it was to be a child. The teacher’s job was to manage that flourishing as well as possible, by responding to the opportunities continually offered in the marginal spaces between subjects in the curriculum and between school and village, city or town. They believed that such spaces offered educational opportunities that, if enabled to flourish through the suggested pedagogy of Streetwork and the implications of the exploding school, might enrich lives and environments across the generations. It was in the overlooked or apparently uninteresting spaces of the urban environment that teachers, with encouragement, might find a rich curriculum. Today, we might observe such “fleeting pockets of anarchy” in the in-between spaces of social media, which offer as yet unimagined opportunities and challenges for educational planners to expand the parameters of school and continue to define environmental education as radical social and urban practice."
colinward  cityasclassroom  anarchism  tonyfyson  streetwork  2014  catherineburke  education  unschooling  deschooling  1970s  society  theexplodingschool  children  socialnetworking  pedagogy  johngillis  urban  urbanism  islanding  parenting  experience  agesegregation  safety  anarchy  sabotage  subversion  autodidacts  autodidacticism  criticalpedagogy  childhood  learning  paulgoodman  freedom  interdisciplinary  transdisciplinary  cities  resistance  questioning  obstructing  obstruction  revolution  lewismumford  ivanillich  paulofreire  peterkropotkin  patrickgeddes  autodidactism  living  seeing  nationalism  separatism  johnholt  youth  adolescence  everyday  observation  participatory  enironmentaleducation  experientiallearning  place  schools  community  communities  context  bobbray  discovery  discoverylearning  hamescallaghan  blackpapers  teaching  kenjones  radicalism  conformity  control  restrictions  law  legal  culture  government  policy  spontaneity  planning  situationist  cocreation  place-basededucation  place-basedlearning  place-based  place-basedpedagogy 
july 2014 by robertogreco
When the Boss Says, 'Don't Tell Your Coworkers How Much You Get Paid' - Jonathan Timm - The Atlantic
"In both workplaces, my bosses were breaking the law.

Under the National Labor Relations Act of 1935 (NLRA), all workers have the right to engage “concerted activity for mutual aid or protection” and “organize a union to negotiate with [their] employer concerning [their] wages, hours, and other terms and conditions of employment.” In six states, including my home state of Illinois, the law even more explicitly protects the rights of workers to discuss their pay.

This is true whether the employers make their threats verbally or on paper and whether the consequences are firing or merely some sort of cold shoulder from management. My managers at the coffee shop seemed to understand that they weren't allowed to fire me solely for talking about pay, but they may not have known that it is also illegal to discourage employees from discussing their pay with each other. As NYU law professor Cynthia Estlund explained to NPR, the law "means that you and your co-workers get to talk together about things that matter to you at work." Even "a nudge from the boss saying 'we don't do that around here' ... is also unlawful under the National Labor Relations Act," Estlund added.

And yet, gag rules thrive in workplaces across the country. In a report updated this year, the Institute for Women’s Policy Research found that about half of American employees in all sectors are either explicitly prohibited or strongly discouraged from discussing pay with their coworkers. In the private sector, the number is higher, at 61 percent.

This is why President Obama recently signed two executive actions addressing workplace transparency and accountability. One prohibits federal contractors from retaliating against employees who discuss their pay with one another. The other requires contractors to provide compensation data on their employees, including race and sex. But while these protect workers at federally contracted employers—of which Lilly Ledbetter was one—it does not affect any other employers.

The bill that would cover the rest of workers is the Paycheck Fairness Act. The law would both strengthen penalties to employers who retaliate against workers for discussing pay and require employers to provide a justification for wage differentials.

These reforms are necessary to address this widespread, illegal problem that the law has failed to address for decades. Gag rules violate a fundamental labor right and allow for discriminatory pay schemes.

Given their illegality, why are gag rules so common? One answer is that the NLRA is toothless and employers know it. When employees file complaints, the National Labor Relations Board’s “remedies” are slaps on the wrist: reinstatement for wrongful termination, back-pay, and/or “informational remedies” such as “the posting of a notice by the employer promising to not violate the law.”

At the same time, ignorance of the law can just as easily fuel gag rules. Craig Becker, general counsel for the AFL-CIO, used to serve on the National Labor Relations Board. He told me that workers who called the NLRB rarely were aware that their employer’s pay secrecy policy was unlawful.

“The problem isn’t so much that the remedies are inadequate,” Becker said, “but that so few workers know their rights.” He says that even among those workers who are aware of the NLRA, many think that it protects unions but no one else. Now overseeing organizers at the AFL-CIO, Becker has found that before organizers even begin helping workers, they have to educate employees on this very basic law. “Workers call us up saying they’re unhappy and they want to organize,” Becker explains, “and when organizers look at the employee manual, sure enough, they find a policy saying that workers aren’t allowed to discuss their pay.”

Gag rules, then, are policies that flourish when employers know the law and their employees do not.

But why do employers do this in the first place? Many employers say that if workers talk to each other about pay, then tension is sure to follow. It’s understandable: If you found out that your coworker made more than you for doing the same work, then you’d probably be upset.

A study by economists David Card, Enrico Moretti, and Emmanuel Saez from Berkeley and Alexandre Mas from Princeton supports that prediction. To study the relationship between pay transparency, turnover, and workplace satisfaction, they selected a group of employees in the University of California system and showed them a website that lists the salaries of all UC employees. They found that employees who were paid above the median were unaffected by using the website, while those who were paid lower than the median became less satisfied with their work and more likely to start job hunting. This result suggests, according to the authors, that employers have an incentive to keep pay under wraps."
salaries  employment  legal  tcsnmy  chandlerschool  2014  gagrules  management  administration  labor  organization  compensation  transparency  opacity  morale  inequality  discrimination  race  gender 
july 2014 by robertogreco
WRONG SIDE OF THE BORDER ("I didn't do anything wrong!")
"POHENEGAMOOK, Quebec — Michel Jalbert never imagined that his usual excursion to gas up at the cheapest place in town would land him in a Maine prison for five weeks and create an international incident. Even now, after U.S. officials finally released Jalbert on $5,000 bail and as he awaits his trial in U.S. District Court early next year, the spirit of cooperation that forms the social and economic fabric of this Canadian border town remains frayed.

People who once thought they had written permission to cross briefly into Maine to buy gasoline without visiting U.S. Customs now worry about the risk to save 20 cents a gallon. Pohenegamook is a mostly French-speaking community where houses and families straddle the border and logging trucks barrel out of the Maine woods to feed the town's thriving lumber industries. But now its residents are rethinking their habit of comfortable coexistence with their American neighbors. The fallout has even reached the four Mainers who live at the edge of Pohenegamook and count on the town for utility services, snow plowing and trash collection.

Jalbert's arrest and imprisonment made headlines across Canada for weeks and inspired an outpouring of moral and financial support from people in both countries. It raised speculation that he was singled out as an example to all border scofflaws in the wake of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. Secretary of State Colin Powell visited Canada on the day of Jalbert's release, calling the ordeal an "an unfortunate incident" and promising future fairness for Canadians who cross the border regularly for gas and other errands. Still, Jalbert's treatment raised questions about the logic and fairness of customs and immigration operations at Maine's northernmost outpost.

The toll on Jalbert has been severe. A part-time woodsman, Jalbert ran up more than $5,000 in telephone bills, legal fees and lost wages while being held in Piscataquis County Jail in Dover-Foxcroft. He suffered depression and anxiety attacks and lost 10 pounds while separated from his common-law wife, Chantail Chouinard, 26, who is five months pregnant, and their 5-year-old daughter, Debbie. There were days, alone in his cell, when he sobbed in despair.

The 32-year-old Jalbert returned home Nov. 14 to his family's cozy rented bungalow set back from busy Route 289. With temperatures in the teens and more than a foot of snow on the ground, his work in the woods is finished until spring. Last Sunday he had his first good night's sleep in more than a month. … "
2002  border  quebec  maine  immigration  customs  borders  law  legal  homelandsecurity  us 
july 2014 by robertogreco
Center for a Stateless Society » A Modest Proposal
"Al Jazeera recently covered Chattanooga, Tennessee’s high-speed Internet service (“As Internet behemoths rise, Chattanooga highlights a different path,” June 6). [http://america.aljazeera.com/articles/2014/5/29/chattanooga-net-neutrality.html ] The “Gig,” as it’s affectionately known, operates at one gigabyte per second — about fifty times the U.S. average — charging each customer about $70 a month. It uses a preexisting fiber-optic infrastructure originally built for the electrical power utility.

A couple of little-known facts regarding local Internet infrastructure: Telecommunications companies were given billions in subsidies and phone service rate hikes back in the ’90s based on their promise to build local fiber-optic infrastructure for high-speed Internet access — then they simply pocketed the money and never built that infrastructure. The original promise was something like the kind of ultra-high-speed, low-price Internet service available in most of Western Europe.

You can get a lot of the facts at the website Teletruth.org. Today, telecommunications infrastructure construction by these companies is down by about 60%, while revenues are way up. Instead of near-instant page loads for $40 a month, it’s typical to get gouged for more than $100 and suffer slow speeds and wireless connections that constantly fade out. Believe me, I know — I get my wireless service from AT&T U-verse, and they suck more than a galactic-size black hole. This is a classic example of the oligopoly style Paul Goodman described of the companies in an industry carefully spooning out improvements over many years, while colluding to mark up prices. The telecoms, far from building out their infrastructure to increase capacity, are strip-mining their existing infrastructure and using it as a cash cow while using oligopoly pricing to guarantee enormous profits on shoddy service.

Hundreds of cities around the United States have high-capacity municipal fiber-optic networks just like Chattanooga’s, originally built to support local government communication functions, but they’re forbidden by law in most states (passed in response to telecom lobbying) from using those to offer Internet service to the general public. Not only that, the telecommunications industry raises hell in the state legislatures even when local school districts propose using their own fiber-optic infrastructure to provide Internet service to the public schools instead of paying Verizon, Cox or AT&T for their sorry producst. These telecom companies — which received billions on subsidies for a service they failed to deliver — have the nerve to whine that it’s unfair for them to have to compete with a service subsidized by the taxpayers.

So here’s my proposal: In any community like Chattanooga, with an existing fiber-optic infrastructure capable of providing better quality Internet service to a significant part of town, this infrastructure should immediately be put to use for this purpose, with rates set at actual cost of provision. But instead of being administered by the city government, it should be spun off as a consumer cooperative owned and governed by the users.

In Cory Doctorow’s novel Someone Comes to Town, Someone Leaves Town, dumpster-diving hardware hackers in Toronto attempt to construct a free wireless meshwork using open-source routers built from discarded electronics, persuading neighborhood businesses to host the routers at the cost of electricity. In the real world, schools, public libraries and municipal buildings could host such routers and provide free wireless access to those in the areas covered.

In fact, why not take it a step further? Forty years ago, in “Confiscation and the Homestead Principle,” Murray Rothbard argued that government property should be treated as unowned, that it should be claimed (via homesteading) as the property of those actually occupying and using it, and that government services should accordingly be reorganized as consumer or worker cooperatives. Further, he argued that the property of “private” corporations that get most of their profits from state intervention should get the same treatment.

The way I see it, the telecom companies that pocketed those subsidies and rate increases back in the ’90s owe customers about $200-odd billion, plus all the profits they’ve subsequently collected via price-gouging. So when local communities with municipal fiber-optic infrastructure organize those Internet service cooperatives like I describe above, they might as well go ahead and void out the telecom companies’ property claims to the “private” infrastructure as well and incorporate that infrastructure into the consumer cooperatives.

Those who follow the “net neutrality” debate are rightly outraged that Internet service providers are threatening to gouge customers based entirely on their ability to pay, simply because they can. But the proper expression of this outrage is not hacking at the branches through regulatory legislation. It’s striking at the root: The ability of the telecom companies, thanks to government subsidies and privilege, to get away with such behavior.

It’s time to expropriate the expropriators."
broadband  telecoms  infrastructure  internet  connectivity  2014  subsidies  law  legal  public  private  chattanooga  isp  teletruth  money  government  policy  internetaccess  digitaldivide  netneutrality  kevincarson 
june 2014 by robertogreco
When drones fall from the sky | The Washington Post
"Drones have revolutionized warfare. Now they are poised to revolutionize civil aviation. Under the law passed by Congress, the Federal Aviation Administration is scheduled to issue rules by September 2015 that will begin the widespread integration of drones into civilian airspace.

Pent-up demand to buy and fly remotely controlled aircraft is enormous. Law enforcement agencies, which already own a small number of camera-equipped drones, are projected to purchase thousands more; police departments covet them as an inexpensive tool to provide bird’s-eye surveillance for up to 24 hours straight.

Businesses see profitable possibilities for drones, to tend crops, move cargo, inspect real estate or film Hollywood movies. Journalists have applied for drone licenses to cover the news. Amazon.com chief executive Jeffrey P. Bezos wants his company to use autonomous drones to deliver small packages to customers’ doorsteps. (Bezos also owns The Post.)

First flown in 1994, it later became the first weaponized drone. Designed to conduct surveillance with powerful cameras and sensors, it can be armed with laser-guided Hellfire missiles. It often stays aloft on missions for more than 20 hours at a time and can reach an altitude of 25,000 feet. (Alberto Cuadra)
SEE MORE DRONE TYPES

The military owns about 10,000 drones, from one-pound Wasps and four-pound Ravens to one-ton Predators and 15-ton Global Hawks. By 2017, the armed forces plan to fly drones from at least 110 bases in 39 states, plus Guam and Puerto Rico.

The drone industry, which lobbied Congress to pass the new law, predicts $82 billion in economic benefits and 100,000 new jobs by 2025.

Public opposition has centered on civil-liberties concerns, such as the morality and legality of using drones to spy on people in their back yards. There has been scant scrutiny of the safety record of remotely controlled aircraft. A report released June 5 by the National Academy of Sciences concluded that there were “serious unanswered questions” about how to safely integrate civilian drones into the national airspace, calling it a “critical, crosscutting challenge.”

Nobody has more experience with drones than the U.S. military, which has logged more than 4 million flight hours. But the Defense Department tightly guards the particulars of its drone operations, including how, when and where most accidents occur.

The Post filed more than two dozen Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests with the Air Force, Army, Navy and Marine Corps. Responding intermittently over the course of a year, the military released investigative files and other records that collectively identified 418 major drone crashes around the world between September 2001 and the end of last year.

That figure is almost equivalent to the number of major crashes incurred by the Air Force’s fleet of fighter jets and attack planes during the same period, even though the drones flew far fewer missions and hours, according to Air Force safety statistics.

The military divided the major accidents into two categories of severity, based on the amount of damage inflicted to the aircraft or other property. (There are three other categories for more minor accidents.)

According to the records, 194 drones fell into the first category — Class A accidents that destroyed the aircraft or caused, under current standards, at least $2 million in damage.

Slightly more than half of those accidents occurred in Afghanistan and Iraq. Almost a quarter happened in the United States."
craigwhitlock  drones  droneproject  safety  2014  military  law  legal  militaryindustrialcomplex  reliability  generalatomics  danger 
june 2014 by robertogreco
Expensive Bikes, Cheap Lives — The Message — Medium
"Bait Bikes and Felonies in a Divided San Francisco"



"Let me rephrase: in a city in which inequality is greatly increasing, in which those outside the tech industry are struggling to pay rents and deal with increasing cost of life, and in which flushed, moneyed tech employees are buying more and more expensive bikes (the article notes, can cost $10,000), those police are luring people to steal them by intentionally using bait bikes so expensive that the people tempted to steal them can be charged with felonies. If convicted, so that they can no longer vote in many states, and also are unemployable in large sectors of the economy for all practical reasons.

What could go wrong?"



"I’m not denying anyone’s right to fume over a stolen bike, nor am I justifying street crime. What I’m arguing is that our individualized outrage over small-scale crime is hiding terrible policy effects, and that our “serves the thief right” knee-jerk response—quite understandable from an individual point of view—reflects distorted priorities that makes things worse for all of us in the long run. Similar to misguided three-strikes laws that saw some small-time criminals serve life sentences for minor thefts—like shoplifting— bait bikes designed to trigger felonies can waste lives and resources. Individual, momentary outrage feels good and justified, but its impacts, distorted through priorities aimed at appeasing us, rather than solving the problem, do not leave any of us better in the long run."
crime  culture  inequality  legal  police  sanfrancisco  bikes  zeyneptufekci  economics  policy  criminalization  poverty  2014 
may 2014 by robertogreco
Secrets, lies and Snowden's email: why I was forced to shut down Lavabit | Comment is free | theguardian.com
"For the first time, the founder of an encrypted email startup that was supposed to insure privacy for all reveals how the FBI and the US legal system made sure we don't have the right to much privacy in the first place"



"The problem here is technological: until any communication has been decrypted and the contents parsed, it is currently impossible for a surveillance device to determine which network connections belong to any given suspect. The government argued that, since the "inspection" of the data was to be carried out by a machine, they were exempt from the normal search-and-seizure protections of the Fourth Amendment.

More importantly for my case, the prosecution also argued that my users had no expectation of privacy, even though the service I provided – encryption – is designed for users' privacy.

If my experience serves any purpose, it is to illustrate what most already know: courts must not be allowed to consider matters of great importance under the shroud of secrecy, lest we find ourselves summarily deprived of meaningful due process. If we allow our government to continue operating in secret, it is only a matter of time before you or a loved one find yourself in a position like I did – standing in a secret courtroom, alone, and without any of the meaningful protections that were always supposed to be the people's defense against an abuse of the state's power."
email  encryption  government  privacy  lavabit  2013  2014  ladarlevison  edwardsnowden  surveillance  law  legal  secrecy  justice 
may 2014 by robertogreco
How We Read a NYTimes Story on Drone Strikes in Yemen | Just Security
"In this post, we’re trying something new. Below, we present an almost line-by-line annotation of yesterday’s New York Times story on US and Yemeni military operations in Yemen. Among other things, the following is intended to identify legal implications of the news being reported, the significance of some of the revelations, and paths for further investigative reporting."
yemen  drones  droneproject  nytimes  2014  security  military  legal  news  reporting  journalism  language  editorial 
april 2014 by robertogreco
Classic Clip: Bill Moyers, Louise Erdrich, Michael Dorris on Columbus - ICTMN.com
"As a follow-up to our Columbus Day coverage yesterday, here's a video that dates from 1988 of Native authors Louise Erdrich and Michael Dorris discussing Columbus' legacy with PBS mainstay Bill Moyers. Erdrich, whose 2012 novel The Round House won the National Book Award, was married to Dorris from 1981 until his death by suicide in 1997 -- although the couple had at that point been separated for two years, and divorce was pending. In happier times, they edited each other's work and, on some occasions, wrote books together. At the time of this interview, they had committed to co-author The Crown of Columbus, which was published in 1989. This clip was found at BillMoyers.com."

[On Bill Moyers's website: http://billmoyers.com/content/louise-erdrich-and-michael-dorris-on-the-true-columbus/ ]

[On Vimeo: https://vimeo.com/63831726 ]
louiseerdrich  michaeldorris  chrisophercolumbus  1988  billmoyers  nativeamericans  law  legal  language  culture  voice  ownership  identity  property  us  history  pluralism 
april 2014 by robertogreco
America's Workers: Stressed Out, Overwhelmed, Totally Exhausted - Rebecca J. Rosen - The Atlantic
"What will change the overwork culture? There are several factors at play that I’m hoping will have an effect:

• Bright spots. I went looking for innovative "bright spots" at work, love, and play and found a host of really hopeful and cool things happening in companies large and small. For example, I have a profile of an innovative software company in Ann Arbor, Menlo Innovations, LLC, that was founded based on one principle: joy. Workers do intense, creative work, and are expected NOT to answer work phone and emails after hours or on weekends. If you come back refreshed—and maybe you’ve met someone, had a new experience, expanded your horizons—you’ll bring that freshness to work, perhaps make new connections, figure out how to solve an old problem in new ways.The more we shine a spotlight on how work can be done differently and well, the more companies and the middle managers who are the ones who implement policy changes, can follow new role models of success.

• Millennials. They may have been raised as precious and entitled, but many are coming into workplaces assuming that they can have it all—work and life—and are showing that they can do excellent work in their own way and in their own time. Creaky, rigid, old-fashioned cultures are beginning to adapt.

• Baby Boomers. They’re living longer and are healthier and aren’t ready or can’t afford to sail off into the sunset at 62. But neither do they want to work 90 hours a week anymore. There’s pressure from the top end to change as well.

• Technology. Technology is a double-edged sword right now. It’s freeing us up to work differently, but it’s also showing that it’s extending our work hours. I’m hoping that the more we use it, the smarter we’ll get about how to adapt to it. And all this recent extreme weather is showing managers how much good work can be done on snow days, etc. even when you’re not sitting at your desk under their nose.

• Human performance science and the creative class. In a knowledge economy, what do we value? Innovation, new ideas, creativity. How do we foster that? The brain is wired for the “A Ha” moment to come, not when our noses are pressed firmly into the grindstone, but in a break in the action. When we let our mind wander. In the shower. On a walk. When we are idle, neuroscience is showing that our brains are most active.

• Changes on the state level. While our national politics has been frozen for so long on issues of work and life, I was heartened to find states stepping in and looking for common sense policies and solutions to help people better manage the now conflicting demands and work and life. California, New Jersey, and Rhode Island have state paid parental leave policies—paid for by employees a few cents out of every paycheck that is pooled into a Temporary Disability Insurance fund. Cities are passing tax incentives to companies that promote telework and flexible work, as well as exploring their own “right to request” flexible work laws.

• Health. NIH is in the middle of a giant, multi-year study of how our high-stress, long hours work cultures are making us sick—and that costs employers a lot of money. And the Yale Stress Center is finding in their functional MRI studies that stress—the WHO has rated us the most anxious country on the planet—is actually shrinking our brains. Sick and stupid and overworked and overtired does not make for the most creative and productive workforce.

Other countries limit work hours by law (the European Union’s Working Time Directive, for instance) to both keep workers from being exploited, burned out or, in the case of Germany in particular, to keep unemployment low by spreading out work hours among more workers. Other countries also value refreshed workers and family and leisure time, and have paid leave policies when children are born, fostered, or adopted, in addition to sick time. They have paid vacation policies of as much as 30 days. In Denmark, every parent gets two “nurture days” per child until the child is eight, in order to make it to parent-teacher conferences, the school play, etc.—things that in this country, many white collar workers guiltily slink out under the radar to rush to, and working class people risk getting fired to do. In the UK, within the first year that they implemented a “Right to Request” flexible work hours (which give employees the right to put together a plan for how to get their work done in a flexible way and employers could only turn them down if they could show it would hurt the business bottom line) more than one million families requested such schedules and business kept humming right along.

In the United States, we have no such policies. We value work. We work among the most extreme hours, behind only Japan and South Korea.We value work. We work among the most extreme hours, behind only Japan and South Korea. Our divided political system has yet to figure out what the proper role of government should even be, and we hate taxes. Ironically, the OECD has done studies that have found that the U.S. spends about as much as Sweden on health and welfare—it’s just that they pool their money to pay for everyone, and in the U.S., it all comes out of private pockets.

One of the most astounding studies I came across was another OECD look at productivity. I heard so often, well, this overwork culture is just the price we have to pay for being such an enormously wealthy and productive economy. But then the OECD sliced GDP per hours worked to get an hourly productivity rate, and for several of the years studied, the U.S. falls several rungs below other countries with more rational work-life policies, such as France. So we’re putting in the most hours, but we’re not actually working intense, short, productive hours. We’re just putting in a lot of meaningless face time because that’s what our workplace cultures value—at the expense of our health, our families, and our souls."
rebeccarosen  2014  work  labor  productivity  generations  millennials  babyboomers  technology  well-being  law  legal  qualityoflife  health  facetime  economics  france  denmark  sweden  japan  korea  brigidschulte  stewartfriedman  balance  lifepetersenge  jessicadegroot  inequality  monikabauerlein  clarajeffrey  boomers 
march 2014 by robertogreco
A Short Guide to the Internet’s Biggest Enemies | Mediashift | PBS
"Reporters Without Borders (RSF) released its annual “Enemies of the Internet” index last week — a ranking first launched in 2006 intended to track countries that repress online speech, intimidate and arrest bloggers and conduct surveillance of their citizens. Some countries have been mainstays on the annual index, while others have been able to work their way off the list. Two countries particularly deserving of praise in this area are Tunisia and Myanmar (Burma), both of which have stopped censoring the Internet in recent years and are headed in the right direction toward Internet freedom.

In the former category are some of the world’s worst offenders: Cuba, North Korea, China, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Vietnam, Belarus, Bahrain, Turkmenistan, Syria. Nearly every one of these countries has amped up their online repression in recent years, from implementing sophisticated surveillance (Syria) to utilizing targeted surveillance tools (Vietnam) to increasing crackdowns on online speech (Saudi Arabia). These are countries where, despite advocacy efforts by local and international groups, no progress has been made."
reporterswithoutborders  internet  freedom  2014  journalism  information  law  legal  tunisia  myanmar  burma 
march 2014 by robertogreco
Facial Weaponization Communiqué: Fag Face on Vimeo
"The Facial Weaponization Suite develops forms of collective and artistic protest against biometric facial recognition–and the inequalities these technologies propagate–by making masks in community-based workshops that are used for public intervention. One mask, the Fag Face Mask, is a response to scientific studies that link determining sexual orientation through rapid facial recognition. This mask is generated from the biometric facial data of many queer men’s faces, resulting in a mutated, alien facial mask that cannot be read or parsed by biometric facial recognition technologies."
zachblas  faces  facialrecognition  surveillance  biometrics  queer  masks  2013  via:soulellis  activism  zapatistas  pussyriot  ows  occupywallstreet  blackblock  anonymous  facelessness  nypd  homelandsecurity  privacy  law  legal  nonexistence  identification  revolution 
march 2014 by robertogreco
Amazing Structure: A Conversation With Ursula Franklin - Robinson Meyer - The Atlantic
"The gender issue is really a postwar issue. Women, wherever they were, what side or what in the war situation, stepped into the places that men had left. And they were competent, and they could do it. It was only after the war, when the men came back, that they needed the mystique—that she’s a girl, and so oughtn’t [to be] there, this is a man’s job. The gender issue, in practical terms—either who [could be] in school or who thought they could do which job, which science, which math—is a postwar issue anywhere in the world.

And it’s the issue of a large number of well-organized men, who often got their training in the army during the war, returning and needing both work and justification for their organized maleness in a very hierarchical structure. These guys came out of the military, and brought skills, but mostly brought demands.

There were women who had coped—often very well in very technical [positions]—but what was needed now was a distinction between those who came out of a culture of order, discipline, and minimal consideration of an individual’s contribution. So you had to get the women out of the workplace. And that’s when that question—they can’t do math, or they are frightened of machines—that’s where all that crap comes from. But it’s there, and it took until the late ’50s when women said: “Ah ah! What’s going on here?”

It’s the collectivity—with some consciousness-raising, you see—that actually, the personal is political. It’s not that our skirts are too short or too long; it’s just that we are being pushed around and maybe we have to put a stop to it collectively. But that gender-based look at knowledge and competency is postwar.

So my school experience: It was ‘so what?’ "



"There’s no question that somebody who was in the position I was when my son was born, and said to somebody, ‘I’m pregnant.’ There’s legislation now; they have to keep your job; they have to give you that much maternity leave; you have a medical insurance system that picks up some of those expenses; and no employer can say no. That’s an enormous change.

The salary thing is still a question where one may have to struggle, but it is not that a priori a woman gets paid less for work of equal value. And there are laws that one can change. Not that people who need to challenge have the power to do so, but that exists. I mean if you see the number of women—school principals and university presidents—that is the change.

I constantly emphasize that the issue is not essentially gender. The issue is patriarchy. I must say that I myself have been surprised at the rapid rise of lady patriarchs. And of course there are lady patriarchs. I was surprised how easily young women who have all options open for patriarchy become as much the patriarch in a hierarchical structure as any man does; and conversely, how many men—how many men, not that many—have found a collaborative structure convenient and don’t pull rank. 

The developments flow from there. The main development is legislation—and that hand-waving isn’t good enough."



"[Q] And when you say “lady patriarchs,” what do you mean?

I mean women who behave as if they are generals or bishops. It makes no difference in many ways if it’s a woman or a man. In particular positions, a woman can be as inconsiderate a lady patriarch as a male patriarch would have been. So the issue is the hierarchical structuring; the issue is patriarchy.

[Q] You were also involved in strontium testing. Did that float out of your social work in the ’60s, your work as a citizen?

What you are referring to is the sense that one is a citizen first and happen to be a professional in one area or another, but you don’t stop being a citizen because you are a highway engineer or a professor of metallurgy, but you also don’t leave all your scientific knowledge when you are a resident in the district that is suddenly heavily influence by pollution from another plant; or, globally, from fallout or chemical pollution.

When you object to things like that, you bring the skills that you have to have professionally to it, as do all the others who may provide citizen input or position. The whole fabric of the democratic process comes from citizens who are competent in various ways, and my competency happens to be science. I have a certain skill in teaching to make it clear to people without using jargon what certain inevitable things, such as nuclear fallout or river pollution, mean, and that the half-life of uranium doesn’t change when you change governments. Somebody has to say that at the right place in the right language, and I’ve always taken these opportunities and, like others, contributed with the best I had.

So I’ve very much been a part of women’s peace organizations and very much meet in the most active form of pacifism—the prevention of situations that lead to war. So the pacifism, elective pacifism, are all the political and social measures against injustices that in the end drive hatred and violence.

[Q] Once you were at the University of Toronto, and got into archeometry and teaching, I suppose that followed the reforms in Canada. Did you see the university change over your time there, and just generally what was it like to be a female professor of engineering during the ’70s and ’80s?

Well… pretty lonely. You know the real difficulty is to protect and advance your women students, and to see that they are in a hassle-free learning environment. When I came to the university, I’d been around long enough to know that I wasn’t one of the gang, and I never would be. I didn’t have a desire to be one of the boys.

But the great wish—to give my women students a hassle-free, happy learning environment—that’s what’s difficult. The culture of engineering is not a culture of acceptance and understanding of anything that is female and—at the same time—equal. So that’s… that’s a real job. It was a long and hard [work] in this, and it’s by no means yet all done."

[See also Annes post about Ursula Franklin: http://designculturelab.org/2012/07/17/from-the-plsj-archives-an-extraordinary-mind/ ]
ursulafranklin  robinsonmeyer  2014  interviews  feminism  partiarchy  gender  hierarchy  hierarchies  law  legal  women  science  structures  management  organizations  history  canada  highered  highereducation  labor  regulation  standards  quakers  pacifism  peace  equality  quaker 
march 2014 by robertogreco
Design in Times of Crisis
"What is it?

Design in Times of Crisis is a work-in-progress reflection for a scenario of the everyday present and near future. It is also a series of short-term block seminars (TBA).

It is part of the PhD investigation of two Brazilian design researchers located in Berlin, Germany: Pedro Oliveira - www.partidoalto.net - and Luiza Prado - www.doisedois.net.

It is through an observation of the current state of affairs mostly outside the so-called “developed world” that we aim to construct our scenario. Of course many of our concerns also do apply to other places in the world, but our focus is more looking home.

This is, of course, nothing new. Its idea stemmed from the very nice "Design for the New Normal" developed by Superflux (if you ended up here, you should definitely check out their work). We think that their outline is indeed fruitful and very necessary, but coming from a different political and social background there are some elements we’d like to disagree, and others we’d like to suggest.

Differently from them, however, we decided to call it the "Times of Crisis" because it does concern the immediate present and the probable future. We think that, as design researchers, it is of paramount importance that we investigate this projection and prepare ourselves for it.

In a nutshell, the links posted here will fall in a few categories, which are the characteristics we are framing as constituents of this scenario. They are:

All Technology is Proprietary

Brands and the State will control your technology. What they do is only to lure you into using their services in order to collect data about everything, everywhere. Crowdsourcing at its best. The obsession with the “quantified self” only leads to the loss of privacy and the more proprietary the technology is, the less control you have over your data. In these times of crisis, people comply with giving their data over to brands and the state under an alleged “full disclosure” of their use. In poorer and emergent countries, particularly, the use of proprietary technology, that is, branded tech, is still a form of social and economical affirmation and status, particularly in lower classes. Open-source tech can and will come to the empowerment of small groups and initiatives, but consumerist ideals and patterns are likely to boost, particularly when formerly poorer classes/countries start to gain more economical power.

You Are what You Consume

Brands and consumption are the biggest form of social insertion. Brands explore that ad infinitum and you belong to those groups where your favorite brand fits in. With the rise of a “new middle class” in developing countries, the patterns of consumption are likely to change and grow; the brand is the greatest form of social status. Musical movements in favelas and ghettos praise brands as something to be desired and proudly worn or used, while at the same time brands try to detach themselves from these movements to protect their capital.

Surveillance is Desired

Reality shows become the norm, they are a preparation for an acceptance of a Police State (cf. Laurel Halo in The Wire). Surveillance gives the false illusion of safety, of “watching out against the other”, but also of being watched against yourself. Drones and Bugs are everywhere for the sake of peace maintenance and the quantified self. Proprietary Tech collects your data with games and research projects. Your data is everyone’s data.

Cities are Corporations are Cities

The association (both legal and illegal) of Business and State leads to a City whose form of social and urban control relies on the interests of brands. Big industries support “eco-initiatives” in order to promote a false state of sustainability while securing their own profit through exploring real estate, mobility and other issues that should be of concern from the State. (cf. Carlos Vainer) - also, prices go crazy because regulation is left to a “minimal State” (Estado Mínimo). Giant sporting events and conferences sell an image of a city devoid of its poorer and “unwanted” social components in favor of its market value as commodity.

——

Here in this blog we aim to collect evidence, reflections and projections for this scenario.

A good starting point for the scope of this discussion you can find here. In this text, we pointed out some things we think that are problematic when approaching Speculative and Critical Design from a narrow perspective of the world.
Naturally, this is an open, stream-of-consciousness idea. Comments, critique and additions to it are more than welcome.

Shout it loud at pedroliveira [at] udk-berlin or luiza.prado [at] udk-berlin.de "
luizaprado  pedrooliveira  design  everyday  present  future  nearfuture  superflux  tomesofcrisis  crisis  technology  crowdsourcing  data  control  consumption  brands  branding  surveillance  policestate  laurelhalo  safety  privacy  security  cities  corporations  corporatism  urban  urbanism  socialcontrol  systainability  carlosvainer  estadomínimo  minimalstate  commodities  business  law  legal  specialinterests 
march 2014 by robertogreco
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