Tuesday, March 26th, 2019


For All In Tents

American cities are becoming increasingly expensive and economically divided. Nowhere is that more visible than in the rise (and fall, and rise, and fall) of urban tent encampments. WaPo's Terrence McCoy: This is Not Me. "Monica, a stout, wavy-haired woman now living in her seventh tent after cleanup crews tossed the others, looked down the busy street and tried to gird herself for the indignities to come. She needed to place her clothing and blankets into black trash bags, take down the blue and gray nylon tent and wheel everything out of eyesight in a shopping cart. Then she would watch as workers wiped away any trace of her from First Street NE, wheel it all back, pitch her tent again, take an ibuprofen p.m. and then sleep it all away until it was time to go to the fast-food restaurant for work."

+ "There's a mix of digital illiteracy and a lack of access to technology, along with these emotional barriers like the shame of being homeless, that leads to this perfect storm that can keep people on the street." The LA Times on a San Francisco nonprofit that helps reunite homeless with family and friends through digital detective work.


To Health and Back

"Throwing out the law would end healthcare coverage for millions of people – getting rid of publicly subsidized health insurance plans sold on exchanges, the expansion of Medicaid, protections for people with pre-existing conditions, and rules letting children stay on their parents' insurance until the age of 26." The Guardian: Trump administration pushes to completely gut Obamacare in dramatic escalation. (This move makes it even more likely that health care will be the key issue of the 2020 election.)


Gang Bangers and Mash

Vox with an interesting look at a very unique strategy to tackle the gang issue. Ecuador legalized gangs. Murder rates plummeted. "The members were still very active in their gangs, but these were functioning more like social movements or cultural groups. Previously violent Latin Kings were working in everything from catering to crime analysis." (Catering? What like: Gangster Wraps, Latin King Crab, Hells Angel Cake, Bloods Pudding, and Pigs in a Blanket?)


Life in the Fast Lane

"Other American cities are exploring variations of congestion pricing, including Los Angeles, San Francisco and Seattle. The idea dates back decades, with supporters often pointing to an array of health, safety and environmental benefits, including reducing air pollution and pedestrian injuries, and alleviating the stranglehold on gridlocked city streets ... Still, such plans have also been assailed by drivers and critics as an unfair tax that especially hurts poor people who do not have access to public transit." NYT: Congestion Pricing in Manhattan, First Such Plan in U.S., Is Close to Approval. (You used to be able to show off your wealth with what you drive. Soon, you'll be able to show it off by where you drive.)


Watt In Tar Nation

"Energy demand around the world grew by 2.3 percent over the past year, marking the most rapid increase in a decade, according to the report from the International Energy Agency." (Here's the good news.) "To meet that demand, largely fueled by a booming economy, countries turned to an array of sources, including renewables." (Here's the reality check.) "But nothing filled the void quite like fossil fuels, which satisfied nearly 70 percent of the skyrocketing electricity demand." WaPo: In blow to climate, coal plants emitted more than ever in 2018.


Smollett Loose

I haven't really spent much time following the bizarre twists and turns in the Jussie Smollett case. (I feel pretty good about that.) I also haven't gone on the record with my definitive takes on the deeper meaning of the case. (I feel really good about that.) But the case has become a big deal, and it just took a big turn. "In a stunning reversal, Cook County prosecutors on Tuesday dropped all charges against Empire actor Jussie Smollett for allegedly staging a phony attack and claiming he was the victim of a hate crime." The Chicago police department is not happy with the prosecutors' decision, and Mayor Rahm Emanuel called it "a whitewash of justice."

+ Prosecutor Who Dropped Charges Against Jussie Smollett Explains Decision: "We Didn't Exonerate Him." (Something about this feels familiar...)


The Nature of Things

"More than 750 deaths are attributed to Idai so far, while thousands remain stranded in remote rural areas. International aid is starting to reach the region, while workers struggle to repair roads, restore power, and care for the survivors—with special attention toward preventing cholera outbreaks." In pictures: The Aftermath of Cyclone Idai in Mozambique and Zimbabwe.

+ Buzzfeed: 9 Photo Stories That Will Challenge Your View Of The World.


Mein Shaft

"Brooks, apparently thinking reading from the book would drive home the similarities between Democrats and Nazis, quoted Hitler's Mein Kampf verbatim during the Republican response to Attorney General William Barr's summary of Robert Mueller's report." Slate: Alabama Congressman Quotes Mein Kampf While Criticizing Democrats and the Media. (No one on his staff or with an office nearby stopped him in the hallway to ask, "Uh, Congressman Brooks. What's that copy of Mein Kampf for?")


If the Crew Fits

"The news was met with disappointment and some anger by many following the much-anticipated mission on social media, with some arguing an all-female spacewalk was overdue. Others said they were sad that a milestone moment on women's space exploration had been deferred, but safety came first." NASA has cancelled the first all-female spacewalk because they didn't have enough spacesuits in the right size.


Bottom of the News

"We've been tracking brackets for years and, before this tournament, the longest streak we'd ever seen was 39 games in a row. That was an incredible feat. This shattered it. Monday, we tracked down the owner of the record-breaking 'center road' bracket. His name is Gregg Nigl, and he's a 40-year-old neuropsychologist who lives in Columbus, Ohio. When we called Nigl, he had no idea that his bracket was perfect." (Of course he didn't.) We found the man who has the last perfect bracket in the world.

+ "Britain is an old-fashioned weird place and the most ridiculous thing it has, is its laws." Vice: I Broke Dumb Laws in Front of Police to See If They'd Arrest Me. (This dude should be in charge of Brexit.)

+ Nine nurses in the same labor unit are all due at the same time. If they're all out on maternity leave at once, the hospital could have a major labor issue. (Hopefully the babies each experience a less labored delivery than that joke...)