Summary of “‘Nothing to worry about. The water is fine’: how Flint poisoned its people”

This is the story of how the city of Flint was poisoned by its own water.
In a city with plenty of urgent matters competing for attention – poverty, vacancy, schools, crime, jobs – one thing Flint didn’t have to worry about before the spring of 2014 was the quality of its water.
The Detroit water and sewerage department had supplied Flint with good water for nearly 50 years.
“I have people above me making plans” to distribute the water as soon as possible, Glasgow wrote, but “I do not anticipate giving the OK to begin sending water out anytime soon. If water is distributed from this plant in the next couple of weeks, it will be against my direction. I need time to adequately train additional staff and to update our monitoring plans before I will feel we are ready. I will reiterate this to management above me, but they seem to have their own agenda.”
The manager who took his calls, Jennifer Crooks, described them in an email to her colleagues: “Mr Jefferson said he and many people have rashes from the new water. He said his doctor says the rash is from the new drinking water, and I told him to have his doctor document this and he can bring it to the attention of the MDEQ, since lab analyses to date show that the drinking water is meeting all health-based standards.”
“The water is not safe to drink, cook, or wash dishes with, or even give to pets. We worry every time we shower. The city of Flint is still very economically depressed and most citizens cannot afford anything other than to use the river water.”
His chief legal counsel, Michael Gadola, wrote in an email: “To anyone who grew up in Flint as I did, the notion that I would be getting my drinking water from the Flint River is downright scary. Too bad the didn’t ask me what I thought, though I’m sure he heard it from plenty of others. My mom is a city resident. Nice to know she’s drinking water with elevated chlorine levels and fecal coliform They should try to get back on the Detroit system as a stopgap ASAP before this thing gets too far out of control.”
Among the many ravages attributed to the water crisis – the rashes, the hair loss, the ruined plumbing, the devalued homes, the diminished businesses, the home owners who left the city once and for all, the children poisoned by lead, the people made ill or killed by Legionnaires’ disease – perhaps the most devastating was that people lost faith in those who were supposed to be working for the common good.

The orginal article.

Summary of “Google Is Building a City of the Future in Toronto. Would Anyone Want to Live There?”

Cut off from gleaming downtown Toronto by the Gardiner Expressway, the city trails off into a dusty landscape of rock-strewn parking lots and heaps of construction materials.
Google is not the first company to try reimagining a city.
Cities themselves have more money and energy than ever; rather than building from scratch, like Disney did, modern smart-city builders want to harness the energy and dynamism of existing cities.
The deal hasn’t exactly been a victory for transparency; Waterfront Toronto has declined to make the exact terms of its deal with Sidewalk public, so no one on the outside knows exactly what the city has promised Google, or vice versa.
“It’s horrible-the antithesis of privacy. They use sensors to identify everybody and track their movements.” That city in the United Arab Emirates set out in 2014 to become what it called the world’s smartest city.
Says Cavoukian, “It’s not going to be a smart city of surveillance. It’s going to be a smart city of privacy, and that will be a first.”
“Toronto got excited, people in the city are demanding this new city, and the city has, a little bit, lost control of the conversation,” says Simone Brody, executive director of Bloomberg Philanthropies’ What Works Cities.
“This is really a grand experiment, in many respects, that is going to teach not just Toronto but really cities all across the world what is the future city going to look like,” says Bruce Katz, the author and former Brookings Institution official.

The orginal article.

Summary of “A Guide to Little Vehicles, the Future of Urban Mobility”

Little Vehicles could significantly erode private car and ride-hail use, and play a key role in helping cities achieve their as of now unattainable environmental and road safety goals.
Often cheaper, faster, and more fun than a car, Little Vehicles could provide the critical mass that finally drives the automobile to its knees in America’s big cities.
The two elements that could make Little Vehicles a more viable mode for the masses-electrification and heterogeneity of vehicle designs-represent evolutionary changes to the long-static bike concept.
For many of these kinds of trips in cities, Little Vehicles would be faster than travel by car, especially during periods of heavy traffic.
The well-capitalized Little Vehicle industry can also help pay for these changes, as evidenced by Bird’s Save Our Sidewalks pledge, which suggests that these companies pay cities $1 per vehicle per day for infrastructure improvements.
In addition to street design improvements, the biggest thing cities can do to make Little Vehicles a safe, reliable, and popular transportation mode is implementing congestion charges for cars, said Susan Shaheen, a professor of transportation engineering at UC Berkeley.
On a Little Vehicle, you get up close and personal with the city and those who inhabit it-making eye contact with others much more often than you would from a car, and perhaps even exchanging pleasantries with pedestrians or fellow riders at a red light.
These dopey new Little Vehicles seem like the most appropriate way to move about this city of play.

The orginal article.

Summary of “Why Asian-Americans Feel Powerless in the Battle over New York’s √Člite High Schools”

The Asian preoccupation with education has also become a pivotal point of reckoning in a recent proposal, introduced by Bill de Blasio, the Mayor of New York City, to overhaul admission to eight of the city’s nine premier specialized high schools, the best known of which-Stuyvesant and Bronx Science-represent the highest levels of academic achievement in the country’s public-education system.
In New York City and across the country, the demand for schools far outstrips their supply.
Many educators have recently made the point that specialized high schools account for only about six per cent of seats in the city’s public high schools, so reforming these schools hardly comes close to solving the problem.
For Ng, the lack of pipeline middle schools is crucial, too: currently, twenty-one middle schools graduate more than half the students accepted at the specialized high schools, and none of them are in black and Latino communities.
“If the city doesn’t help create more middle schools with gifted-and-talented programs that adequately prepare students for schools like Stuy, how can the students feel ready?”.
The late Jean Anyon, a professor of education policy at the City University of New York and the author of “Ghetto Schooling,” used a similarly potent metaphor to describe the problem: “Attempting to fix inner-city schools without fixing the city in which they are embedded is like trying to clean the air on one side of a screen door.” It occurred to me that the most accurate portrait of the system might be a composite of the two images: public schools are akin to fragile growths that cannot be judged or transformed independent of the environments-in this case, a complex interplay of economics, politics, and history-from which they spring.
Richard Carranza, the city’s new schools chancellor, while engaging in a spirited defense of the Mayor’s initiative on the local Fox News affiliate, said that he doesn’t “Buy into the narrative that any one ethnic group owns admission to these schools.” That characterization baffled me, because what has traditionally fuelled the community’s striving is a profound sense of powerlessness.
Syed Ali and Margaret Chin, two New York professors of sociology, write in The Atlantic that another crucial decision was one made in the nineteen-nineties, which largely ended tracking and honors programs within the city’s public schools; after that, the numbers of black and Latino students admitted to the specialized schools dropped.

The orginal article.

Summary of “Inside Detroit’s crumbling train station that Ford plans to transform into a mobility lab”

Yesterday, Ford Motor Company announced its long-rumored plan to buy the abandoned Michigan Central Station and restore it as hub for its future mobility ventures.
About 2,500 company employees, the majority from its mobility team, will work in the renovated building and surrounding area where Ford has bought additional land and properties, including the Detroit Public Schools Book Depository and a former factory.
Imagine a train that shuttles workers between Ford campuses in Ann Arbor, Dearborn, and Detroit.
No specifics were given on which businesses would move there, but Ford has supported Techstars Mobility, which is based in Detroit and is one potential source for startup tenants.
In an interview with The Verge, Ford chairman Bill Ford said he was touched by the multigenerational crowd that turned up at Tuesday’s ceremony.
“The kind of talent Ford needs in the future is the same kind of talent that not only its auto-making competitors are going after, but also every other industry. Software engineers, data scientists, electrical engineers are in high demand not only in the auto industry but virtually every other industry. In addition to all of the other aspects of hiring, Ford must create a work environment in a location that is attractive to young workers who prefer to be in a hip urban area to cubicles in the suburbs.”
In 1988, the year the train station closed, both Ford and General Motors posted record profits.
“There were 1,800 car companies when my great grandfather launched Ford in Detroit,” Ford says.

The orginal article.

Summary of “Why 23:59 Is The Coolest Airline Rule For Travelers…”

Assuming price is equal – which airline you choose can make a massive difference in the amount of cities you’re able to take in.
Some people hate connections on principle, but if you work them effectively, they can be the perfect way to explore a city on the cheap, and let’s be honest, some cities don’t need multiple nights, anyway!
By building in stopovers up to 23 hours and 59 minutes, you’re able to save money on the ticket, leave the airport, hit the city, and explore until your next flight.
The best way to maximize 23:59 is to seek bad connections in great cities, or use multi city flight booking to create connections manually.
If you can find a flight that lands mid day and leaves mid day the next day, you can take in a full dinner, drinks and stroll around the city, before carrying on.
Once you’ve found a cheap round trip ticket, you change to “Multi city” booking mode, to add in the stops separately.
With airport lockers and more and more airlines offering 24 hour bag drop, it’s easier than ever to shed your baggage and roam free into a brilliant city.
While most people look at lengthy connections as a huge pain in the yeah – you can end up catching a glimpse of some of the world’s best cities.

The orginal article.

Summary of “The untold good news story of America today”

Another book called The New Localism says a growing number of US cities are addressing the problems of post-industrial America in increasingly imaginative and flexible ways – succeeding where bigger government fails.
Now it’s more like “Flying back home country” as thousands of people return to their hometowns from bigger coastal cities, bringing with them new ideas and a drive to succeed.
Two books published in the last few weeks say American cities, big and small, are filling the gap, getting things done in a way the authors believe could spark a new economic resurgence.
His book reveals a proliferation of experiments and adaptations in cities like Holland in Michigan and Sioux Falls in South Dakota that cause him to think America has become “More like itself again”.
How cities are rolling up their sleeves and getting things done is the subject of New Localism, a book co-authored by Bruce Katz of the Brookings Institution.
The story of the city’s reinvention began 20 years ago with a huge cash injection in the downtown, says Mike Mayer of Cushman & Wakefield, who has negotiated leases in the city worth nearly $2bn. First Fridays began as a monthly attraction to showcase the city’s growing arts scene, and that now brings 10,000 people to the city.
“There’s still some pleasant surprise about the momentum here. It’s a tad under the radar. They [investors] think it’s a city of barbecues and jazz, and they come here and see it’s got more legs,” says Mayer.
“Due to the renaissance occurring in rising cities, tech talent that previously saw Palo Alto or New York City as the only places where they could be successful are instead finding that they’re able to launch and scale their companies with less overhead and a lower cost of living between the coasts.”

The orginal article.

Summary of “Welcome to Blaine, the town Amazon Prime built”

As the only US border town located in the shadow of a major Canadian city, Blaine’s economy is uniquely dependent on the relationship between the two countries.
Blaine’s handful of residents have grown accustomed to a regular stream of Canadians who come to town specifically to pick up their US packages.
For these Canadians, Blaine is simply a mailing address: the nearest, cheapest, and most convenient way to order packages from Amazon and other major US retailers.
As Amazon continues to step up its Canadian operations and a growing number of American retailers have made it easier to ship to Canada, Canadians are no longer as dependent on their US mailing addresses.
In 2017, Blaine collected nearly $1.7 million in sales tax, which is two to five times the amount collected by comparably sized towns not on the Canadian border.
In the past two years, Amazon’s Canadian arm has driven up growth in its Prime memberships, introduced same-day delivery in select cities, and vastly extended both the range and number of products available in its Canadian store.
What’s good news for Canadian shoppers could be bad news for Blaine.
If Amazon sets up its own lockers in Blaine – as Amazon.com has in more than 50 US cities and Amazon.

The orginal article.

Summary of “From rust belt to robot belt: Turning AI into jobs in the US heartland”

There is no sillier-or more disingenuous-debate in the tech community than the one over whether robots and AI will destroy jobs or, conversely, create a great abundance of new ones.
In one of the first attempts to quantify the impact of industrial robots, research by Daron Acemoglu at MIT and his colleagues, based on data from 1990 to 2007, found that for every robot on the factory floor, some six jobs are lost.
That means as many as 670,000 jobs for the years that they looked at, and as many as 1.5 million jobs at 2016 levels of robot usage in the US. Automation is changing work.
Gauging the net gain or loss of jobs due to robotics and AI is a tricky business.
“The alarmists’ is that this time is different and it will destroy jobs. The truth is it’s capable of doing both.” Though in the past the economic benefits from new technologies have always been enough to create more jobs than were lost, he says, “Lately, for a variety of reasons, there has been a much more job-destroying face to technology.”
Part of what he’s describing is the so-called productivity paradox: while big data, automation, and AI should in theory be making businesses more productive, boosting the economy and creating more jobs to offset the ones being lost, this hasn’t happened.
On tech unemployment: “I’m of the view that we’re not headed for sustained technological unemployment. In a market economy, wages adjust over time and people will find jobs. The question is not the number of jobs but the quality of jobs. Will they provide livelihood levels and opportunities comparable to livelihoods and opportunities of the jobs lost through automation? This worries me.”
As a country, we’re struggling to imagine how to build an economy with plenty of good jobs around AI and automation.

The orginal article.

Summary of “6 Reasons Housing Is About To Become Even More Unaffordable”

James Madden, an affordable housing developer in Seattle, said the reasons for the slowdown are complex.
According to the National Low Income Housing Coalition, America is 7.7 million units of low-income housing behind where it needs to be, and the country has simply stopped building them.
Among renters, blacks and Hispanics are more likely to be spending more than 30 percent of their income on rent – even when they earn the same salaries as whites.
As noted in the National Association of Real Estate Brokers’ “State of Housing in Black America” report, African-American home buyers are more likely to take out “Nonconventional” loans, often from the Federal Housing Authority, which require smaller down payments and lower credit scores.
While many cities have programs to help veterans, minorities and low-income families with down payments, housing costs in many cities are now so high that even a 3 percent down payment is out of reach.
If baby boomers stay put, that will put an even greater strain on the housing market, as many live in large homes where two, three or four bedrooms sit empty.
Unless the baby boomers start moving, cities have no way out of the housing crisis that doesn’t involve building more homes.
While building more homes in growing cities is a necessary condition for solving the housing crisis, it is not a sufficient one, Madden said.

The orginal article.