Tag Archives: philadelphia

LAPD Adopts New Policy: De-Escalate First, Shoot Later

Mother Jones

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This is from the LA Times yesterday:

The Los Angeles Police Commission voted Tuesday to require officers to try, whenever possible, to defuse tense encounters before firing their guns — a policy shift that marks a significant milestone in the board’s attempts to curb shootings by police.

Wait. This is new? This hasn’t always been LAPD policy? Apparently not, and apparently not much of anywhere else, either:

As criticism of policing flared across the country, particularly after deadly shootings by officers, law enforcement agencies looked to de-escalation as a way to help restore public trust. Like the LAPD, other departments have emphasized the approach in training and policies.

The Seattle Police Department requires officers to attempt de-escalation strategies, such as trying to calm someone down verbally or calling a mental health unit to the scene. Santa Monica police have similar rules in place, telling officers to try to “slow down, reduce the intensity or stabilize the situation” to minimize the need to use force.

….The focus on de-escalation represents a broader shift in law enforcement, said Samuel Walker, a retired criminal justice professor and expert in police accountability. Now, he said, there’s an understanding that officers can shape how an encounter plays out. “This is absolutely the right thing to do,” he added.

This is especially important in Los Angeles:

African Americans continue to represent a disproportionate number of the people shot at by officers. Nearly a third of the people shot at last year were black — a 7% increase from 2015. Black people make up about 9% of the city’s population but 40% of homicide victims and 43% of violent crime suspects, the report noted.

The LAPD also topped a list of big-city agencies with the highest number of deadly shootings by officers. Police in Los Angeles fatally shot more people than officers in Chicago, New York, Houston and Philadelphia did, the report said. The L.A. County Sheriff’s Department came in second, with 15 deadly shootings.

Go ahead and call me naive, but I would have figured that de-escalation was standard protocol everywhere. Not always followed in practice, of course, but at least theoretically what cops are supposed to do. But apparently not. It sounds like it started to catch on after Ferguson, and is only now being adopted as official policy in a few places.

Better late than never, I suppose, but I wonder what’s stopping this from being universally adopted? What’s the downside?

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LAPD Adopts New Policy: De-Escalate First, Shoot Later

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Trump Can Pull Money From His Businesses Whenever He Wants—Without Ever Telling Us

Mother Jones

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This story originally appeared on ProPublica.

When President Donald Trump placed his businesses in a trust upon entering the White House, he put his sons in charge and claimed to distance himself from his sprawling empire. “I hope at the end of eight years I’ll come back and say, ‘Oh you did a good job,'” Trump said at a January 11 press conference. Trump’s lawyer explained that the president “was completely isolating himself from his business interests.”

The setup has long been slammed as insufficient, far short of the full divestment that many ethics experts say is needed to avoid conflicts of interest. A small phrase buried deep in a set of recently released letters between the Trump Organization and the government shows just how little separation there actually is.

Trump can draw money from his more than 400 businesses, at any time, without disclosing it.

The previously unreported changes to a trust document, signed on February 10, stipulate that it “shall distribute net income or principal to Donald J. Trump at his request” or whenever his son and longtime attorney “deem appropriate.” That can include everything from profits to the underlying assets, such as the businesses themselves.

Here is the new clause, from page 161:

“It’s incredibly broad language,” said Frederick J. Tansill, a family estate and trust attorney outside Washington, DC, who reviewed the documents for ProPublica.

There is nothing requiring Trump to disclose when he takes profits from the trust, which could go directly into his bank or brokerage account. That’s because both the trust and Trump Organization are privately held. The only people who know the details of the Trump trust’s finances are its trustees, Trump’s son Donald Jr., and Allen Weisselberg, the company’s chief financial officer. Trump’s other son, Eric, has been listed as an adviser to the trust, according to this revised document.

The Trump Organization did not answer detailed questions about the trust. In a statement to ProPublica about the companies’ corporate structures, a Trump Organization spokeswoman, Amanda Miller, said, “President Trump believed it was important to create multiple layers of approval for major actions and key business decision” (Sic. Read the full statement.)

There is a chance Trump will list his profits in his next federal financial disclosure, in May 2018, but the form doesn’t require it. The surest way to see what profits Trump is taking would be the release of his tax returns—which hasn’t happened. Income has to be reported to the IRS, whether it comes from a trust or someplace else.

“For tax purposes, it’s as if the trust doesn’t exist at all,” said Steven Rosenthal, a senior fellow at the Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center. “It’s just an entity on paper, nothing more.”

It’s not clear why Trump added the language to the trust document. His original trust document, which ProPublica obtained in January, designated Trump as the “exclusive beneficiary.” It did not include any restrictions on when Trump could get the money.

Taking profits regularly could benefit Trump in a variety of ways. It would give the president yet more details on the ongoing finances of his businesses. Trump’s son Eric recently told Forbes he plans to update his father on the company regularly, though the revised trust document states that the trustees “shall not provide any report to Donald J. Trump on the holdings and sources of income of the Trust.”

Trump could also simply find the income helpful, even as president. The trust document shows that Trump has “broad rights to the trust principal and income to support him as necessary,” Tansill said.

The General Services Administration released the document last week when it approved the Trump Organization’s plan to address conflicts involving the Trump International Hotel in DC. (The GSA, which handles procurement for the government, owns the land and Trump has a 60-year lease for the building.) In response to criticism about Trump being, in effect, both tenant and landlord, he agreed to not take any profits from the hotel while in office.

Profits will go into a separate company account, which can only be used for hotel upkeep, improvements or debt payments. Watchdog groups have derided that deal as insufficient, noting that pouring profits back into the hotel will make it more valuable in the long term.

With Trump’s hundreds of other businesses, including golf courses, hotels and branding deals, profits from each go to a holding company and eventually into Trump’s trust. Other corporate documents we obtained, reflecting changes made after Trump’s January 20 inauguration, show how money flows from a golf club outside Philadelphia to the president’s trust.

There soon could be many more Trump family businesses.

The Trump Organization has recently touted plans to open hotels across the country, including a second one in Washington, DC. “It’s full steam ahead,” Trump Hotel CEO Eric Danziger said recently. “It’s in the Trump boys’ DNA.”

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Trump Can Pull Money From His Businesses Whenever He Wants—Without Ever Telling Us

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To reduce obesity and depression, we need more nature in our lives.

U.S. cities are packed with about 5 million medium-sized buildings — schools, churches, community centers, apartment buildings. Most use way more energy than they should. Many also have poor airflow and dirty, out-of-date heating and electrical systems. Those conditions contribute to high inner-city asthma rates and other health concerns.

“These buildings are actually making children sick,” says Donnel Baird, who grew up in such a place. His parents, immigrants from Guyana, raised their kids in a one-bedroom Brooklyn apartment, relying on a cooking stove for heat. Baird eventually moved to the South and then attended Duke University, before returning to New York as a community organizer in 2008.

In 2013, Baird launched BlocPower, which provides engineering and financial know-how to retrofit city buildings. The technical part is cool: Engineers survey structures with sensors and smartphone apps, figuring out the best ways to reduce energy use, like replacing oil boilers with solar hot water. But the financing is critical; BlocPower builds the case for each project and connects owners with lenders. It has already retrofitted more than 500 buildings in New York and is expanding into Chicago, Philadelphia, and Atlanta.

“The biggest way for us to reduce carbon emissions right now,” Baird says, “is efficiency.”


Meet all the fixers on this year’s Grist 50.

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To reduce obesity and depression, we need more nature in our lives.

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Trump Plans to Slash the Most Effective Social Program in History

Mother Jones

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Reuters tells us what to expect from President Trump’s budget:

Under the proposal, which was sent to the EPA this week, grants to states for lead cleanup would be cut 30 percent to $9.8 million, according to the source, who read the document to Reuters.

What an idiot. This is hardly the biggest issue in his budget, and I’ll grant that the current allocation for lead cleanup is so pitiful that a 30 percent cut hardly matters. On principle, though, it’s obvious that Mick Mulvaney’s crew just saw a line item in their spreadsheet and slashed it without knowing anything about it. Nice work, folks. You get a gold star.

By coincidence, the Washington Post ran a piece yesterday that’s all about lead—though the reporter didn’t realize it:

In dozens of one-on-one meetings every week, a lawyer retained by the city of Philadelphia summons parents whose children have just been jailed, pulls out his calculator and hands them more bad news: a bill for their kids’ incarceration….He is one agent of a deeply entrenched social policy that took root across the country in the 1970s and ’80s. The guiding principle was simple: States, counties and cities believed that parents were shedding responsibility for their delinquent children and expecting the government to pick up the tab.

.…”It was a very different time, when too many parents frequently wanted to essentially ‘dump’ their adolescent children on juvenile courts when they found them unruly, ungovernable, uncontrollable,” Linda O’Neal, executive director of the Tennessee Commission on Children and Youth, said of the era decades ago when the laws were implemented.

Regardless of what you think about this policy, there’s a reason it “took root” in the ’70s and ’80s: Kids of that era spent their early childhoods surrounded by lead fumes from automobiles, so they contracted lead poisoning in massive numbers. By the time they were teenagers they really were “unruly, ungovernable, uncontrollable,” and parents didn’t know what to do.

As it turns out, there was nothing they could do. The damage was done. But nobody knew that, so we put in place pointless laws based on the premise that if only they worked harder, parents could keep their kids under control. In reality, the only policy that ended up working came from Trump’s hated Environmental Protection Agency, which banned leaded gasoline and put an end to our national epidemic of lead poisoning.

But the old laws are still around, even though they don’t work, while the EPA’s lead cleanup program is being slashed, even though it does work. Welcome to America.

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Trump Plans to Slash the Most Effective Social Program in History

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Is Your Favorite Restaurant Standing Up for Immigrants?

Mother Jones

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On this episode of the Mother Jones food politics podcast, Bite, restaurant owners dish about what it’s like to run an eatery in the age of Trump-administration immigration raids.

Back on January 25, President Donald Trump issued an executive order vowing to crack down on the estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants living in the United States. The move confirmed that Trump meant to make good on the anti-immigrant zealotry he repeatedly spewed during his campaign—and sent shock waves through the US restaurant scene.

That’s because about 15.7 percent of US restaurant workers are undocumented immigrants, and another 5.9 percent are foreign-born US citizens, as this 2014 study from the Economic Policy Institute (EPI) shows. So when Trump ramps up the pressure on undocumented US residents, he’s also making life stressful for the people who cook restaurant meals, wait tables, and wash dishes.

As if they didn’t have enough on their plates to deal with. According to EPI, restaurant workers’ median wage stands at $10 per hour, tips included—and hasn’t budged, in inflation-adjusted terms, since 2000. For non-restaurant US workers, the median hourly wage is $18. That means the median restaurant worker makes 44 percent less than other workers. Benefits are also rare—just 14.4 percent of restaurant workers have employer-sponsored health insurance and 8.4 percent have pensions, vs. 48.7 percent and 41.8 percent, respectively, for other workers.

As a result of these paltry wages, more than 40 percent of restaurant workers live below twice the poverty line—the income level necessary for a family to make ends meet. That’s double the rate of non-restaurant workers. In other words, Trump is going after the most vulnerable subset of an extremely vulnerable group of workers.

On Thursday of last week, activists organized a national Day Without Immigrants, a kind of general strike that included the closing of restaurants in Atlanta, Austin, Detroit, Philadelphia, Portland, San Francisco, Phoenix, Nashville, Albuquerque, Denton, Dallas, Fort Worth, and—most prominently— Washington, DC. My colleague Nathalie Baptiste reports that busy DC spots Busboys and Poets and Bad Saint shut their doors that day, as did all of the restaurants owned by prominent chef Jose Andrés, including Jaleo and Zaytinya.

The gesture took place in a highly charged atmosphere, amid reports that US immigration authorities arrested hundreds of undocumented immigrants in at least a half-dozen states, including Florida, Kansas, Virginia, and my home state, Texas. Things got really tense in my hometown of Austin, where the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) set up checkpoints in low-income neighborhoods with high concentrations of immigrants.

Meanwhile, a “Sanctuary Restaurant” movement gained momentum. Launched back in January by the Restaurant Opportunities Center, Sanctuary Restaurants pledge not to “allow any harassment of any individual based on immigrant/refugee status, race, religion, gender, or sexual orientation to occur in their restaurant” and hang a “Sanctuary Restaurant” sign on their doors. By last week, more than 100 had signed on nationwide.

In the midst of it all, Maddie and I hit the streets to talk to a couple of participating restaurants for the new episode of Bite.

I talked to Johhny Livesay, the chef and co-founder of Black Star Co-op, a community-owned, worker-managed pub and brewery in Austin. In addition to signing on as a sanctuary restaurant, Black Star also has an innovative compensation policy: all the workers are paid a living wage, with benefits, and tips aren’t accepted. Austin has emerged as an incubator of restaurants challenging the industry’s unfair practices. L’Oca d’Oro, an Italian spot helmed by the former punk-rock musician Fiore Tedesco, also rejects the standard tipping model and has joined the sanctuary-restaurant movement.

And Maddie spoke with Penny Baldado, the owner of a lunch joint called Cafe Gabriela in Oakland, California. Penny is an immigrant herself—she’s originally from the Philippines. Give it a listen, and subscribe on iTunes if you haven’t already.

Bite is Mother Jones‘ podcast for people who think hard about their food. Listen to all our episodes here, or subscribe in iTunes or Stitcher or via RSS.

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Is Your Favorite Restaurant Standing Up for Immigrants?

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