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Cities are shutting down bikeshares during curfews, stranding their own residents

Over the past several days, hundreds of thousands of Americans have hit the streets to protest the killing of George Floyd, a 46-year-old black man who was asphyxiated by a police officer on May 25 in Minneapolis. The protests started in the city where Floyd was killed and spread rapidly to all 50 U.S. states and at least three U.S territories.

In response, mayors and governors have instituted rare nighttime curfews in an effort to deter clashes between police and protestors — which videos show are often instigated by police — and waves of looting and property damage. But the curfews aren’t keeping protesters off the streets: People in major cities have been out long past nightfall protesting the national crisis of police brutality. And essential workers are largely exempt from the curfews, leading to confusion among people who work night shifts.

No matter the reason they’re out during curfew, people trying to get home are finding that their options are limited. Some cities, like Los Angeles and Chicago, have shut down public transportation systems in response to the protests, stranding people who are out after curfew. In some areas, like parts of Manhattan, even driving has been prohibited. And bikeshare programs, which have been a key source of safe transportation for essential workers during the coronavirus pandemic, have been directed to hit the pause button by city officials during the curfews.

That means protesters and other people just trying to get around in the middle of an ongoing pandemic are being forced to get places by foot. In New York City, the city’s privately-owned bikeshare program, CitiBike, was directed by the mayor to shut down during the curfew on Monday and Tuesday. “We disagree with this decision,” the company said in a tweet thread.

On Wednesday, CitiBike will be required to end service at 6 p.m. — two hours before the curfew begins.

Similar programs in D.C., Houston, Chicago, Minneapolis, and L.A. shut down during curfews too. Some of those programs, like Houston’s BCycle and Minneapolis’ Nice Ride, are owned by nonprofits. Others, like Chicago’s Divvy and D.C.’s Capital Bikeshare, are housed within each city’s Department of Transportation. Philadelphia’s city-run bikeshare program, Indego, bucked the trend by staying open during curfew.

Alan Mitchell, former chief of staff at Motivate, the company that owned and operated CitiBike before Lyft bought the program in 2018, thinks shutting down bikeshare programs amid protests is a bad idea. “I think it prevents essential workers from getting to their jobs, I think it makes people less safe, and I think it’s a disgrace for the mayor to have ordered that,” he told Grist, referring specifically to New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio.

As it is, bikeshare programs, which have been touted as a greener, healthier, and better way for city-dwellers to get around, have an equity problem. A huge majority of bikeshare users are white and wealthy, in large part because bikeshare docks tend to get built in majority-white neighborhoods while leaving majority-nonwhite neighborhoods behind. In D.C., a city that is 50 percent black, only 4 percent of bikeshare members were African American in 2016. Just 2 percent of Chicago’s bikeshare program users were black, according to 2017 data.

And when people of color do use bikeshare programs, or just cycle in general, they’re more likely to face police harassment for it. A study on sidewalk biking bans in NYC between 2008 and 2011 found that bans were disproportionately enforced on Black and Latino bikers. In Fort Lauderdale, Florida, 86 percent of police citations for biking violations were issued to African Americansin the years between 2010 and 2013.

On Wednesday, World Bicycle Day, Bublr Bikes, Milwaukee’s nonprofit bikeshare program, which stayed open during its city’s curfew, said it will commit to building a more just bikeshare program.

One way city officials and bikeshare programs could start doing just that? Make bikeshares available around the clock, whether or not there’s a curfew.

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Cities are shutting down bikeshares during curfews, stranding their own residents

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Coronavirus has city dwellers heading for the hills. Here’s why they should stay put.

In the beginning of March, as the first cases of COVID-19 were reported in New York City, Anne Hilton Purvis, a realtor with Coldwell Banker Village Green — a real estate company that serves Upstate New York — started getting calls from clients. They were looking for “a lot of short-term rentals — three months, six months, some people wanted to buy something cash,” she said. At first, Purvis, who is a family friend of this reporter, advised prospective buyers to reach out to Airbnb hosts who might be offering up longer stints instead of daily or weekly listings.

But as the state’s outbreak worsened, and the governor imposed restrictions culminating in a shutdown of the state’s nonessential businesses, she realized it was time to stop showing houses to urbanites trying to flee the big city. “In the short term, if we can follow the rules and stay where we are, that might make this thing not so prevalent,” she said.

Cities across the United States, and New York City especially, are dealing with explosive virus transmission rates and dwindling hospital resources. It makes sense that city dwellers are itching to flee urban areas: Density, as the New York Times recently reported, is the Big Apple’s Achilles’ heel in its fight to contain COVID-19. But there are a number of reasons why they should suppress that urge.

The suburbs and rural areas aren’t necessarily safer from coronavirus than cities are. While cities do have higher populations and higher levels of social contact, living in the suburbs or countryside still requires some contact with other people —which provides opportunities for the virus to spread. Epidemiological sparks in cities can migrate to the suburbs and beyond as people move around. So it’s not really a question of if coronavirus will start circulating in earnest in Upstate New York and other rural and suburban areas, but when. Once it does, rural Americans are at a disadvantage — they’re further from hospitals and have fewer medical resources available to them. Not to mention more than one in five older Americans, who are especially susceptible to coronavirus, live in rural areas. If you leave a city for the countryside, you’re putting them at risk.

A pandemic-fueled mass exodus out of cities doesn’t just potentially put a massive strain on suburban and rural resources, it also adds fuel to another looming crisis: climate change. Density is actually good for us when there isn’t a pandemic afoot (aka the vast majority of the time). It allows for robust mass transit networks, efficient housing, bike lanes, and foot traffic. All of that, in turn, is good for mitigating climate change.

It may sound counterintuitive, since cities have historically suffered from dangerous pollution problems, but city dwellers actually have smaller carbon footprints than folks living in rural places. One report found that average emissions in NYC were less than a third of the U.S. average, mostly because New York’s famously cramped apartments use less energy than the large houses enjoyed by other Americans and because New Yorkers use public transportation instead of driving everywhere. A different study found that the average Manhattan household produces 32 metric tons of carbon each year, while households in a nearby suburb produce 72.5 metric tons on average.

If that isn’t evidence enough to convince urbanites to resist the temptation to trade their tiny dwellings for a pastoral lifestyle, they should consider this: Singapore and Hong Kong, denser cities than New York, have been generally successful in containing the coronavirus thanks to early testing, dogged contact tracing, and mass compliance from its citizens. Much of America is under mandatory social distancing measures right now not because cities are inherently bad, but because the federal government handled the outbreak poorly and Americans are loath to give up their personal freedoms.

So if you’re a city dweller who cares about reducing the spread of COVID-19 and slowing down climate change, stay where you are. Purvis knows that’s not an easy pill to swallow. “We’re a country that doesn’t like to follow rules,” she said. “But the only way to make the virus go away and not hit so many people is if we do follow all of the rules.”

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Coronavirus has city dwellers heading for the hills. Here’s why they should stay put.

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Six Degrees – Mark Lynas


Six Degrees

Our Future on a Hotter Planet

Mark Lynas

Genre: Nature

Price: $5.99

Publish Date: April 3, 2009

Publisher: Fourth Estate


An eye-opening and vital account of the future of our earth and our civilisation if current rates of global warming persist, by the highly acclaimed author of ‘High Tide’. Picture yourself a few decades from now, in a world in which average temperatures are three degrees higher than they are now. On the edge of Greenland, rivers ten times the size of the Amazon are gushing off the ice sheet into the north Atlantic. Displaced victims of North Africa's drought establish a new colony on Greenland's southern tip, one of the few inhabitable areas not already crowded with environmental refugees. Vast pumping systems keep the water out of most of Holland, but the residents of Bangladesh and the Nile Delta enjoy no such protection. Meanwhile, in New York, a Category 5-plus superstorm pushes through the narrows between Staten Island and Brooklyn, devastating waterside areas from Long Island to Manhattan. Pakistan, crippled by drought brought on by disappearing Himalayan glaciers, sees 27 million farmers flee to refugee camps in neighbouring India. Its desperate government prepares a last-ditch attempt to increase the flow of the Indus river by bombing half-constructed Indian dams in Kashmir. The Pakistani president authorises the use of nuclear weapons in the case of an Indian military counter-strike. But the biggest story of all comes from South America, where a conflagration of truly epic proportions has begun to consume the Amazon… Alien as it all sounds, Mark Lynas's incredible new book is not science-fiction; nor is it sensationalist. The six degrees of the title refer to the terrifying possibility that average temperatures will rise by up to six degrees within the next hundred years. This is the first time we have had a reliable picture of how the collapse of our civilisation will unfold unless urgent action is taken. Most vitally, Lynas's book serves to highlight the fact that the world of 2100 doesn't have to be one of horror and chaos. With a little foresight, some intelligent strategic planning, and a reasonable dose of good luck, we can at least halt the catastrophic trend into which we have fallen. But the time to act is now. Reviews ‘Scientists predict that global temperatures will rise by between one and six degrees over the course of this century and Mark Lynas paints a chilling, degree-by-degree picture of the devastation likely to ensue unless we act now…“Six Degrees” is a rousing and vivid plea to choose a different future.' Daily Mail 'Buy this book for everyone you know: if it makes them join the fight to stop the seemingly inexorable six degrees of warming and mass death, it might just save their lives.' New Statesman 'An apocalyptic primer of what to expect as the world heats up…it's sobering stuff and shaming too. Despite its sound scientific background, the book resembles one of those vivid medieval paintings depicting sinners getting their just desserts.' Financial Times 'The saga of how, in the world as imagined by thousands of computer-modelling studies, global warming kicks in degree by degree. “Six Degrees”, I tell you now, is terrifying.' The Sunday Times 'A chilling read.’ Socialist Review About the author Mark Lynas is an activist, journalist and traveller. He was editor of the website www.oneworld.net and has made many appearances in the press and TV as a commentator on environmental issues. He also throws custard pies at lunatics who pronounce global warming a fantasy. He is the author of ‘High Tide: News from a Warming World’. He lives in Oxford.


Six Degrees – Mark Lynas

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Greenland, the land of ice and snow, is burning

This is going to sound weird, but there’s a wildfire right now in west Greenland. You know, that huge island of mostly ice? Part of it is on fire.

There’s been nothing even close to this since reliable satellite-based fire detection records began in Greenland in 2000. Very small wildfires can evade satellite detection, and old-timer scientists who have worked in Greenland for decades say that micro-fires there aren’t necessarily uncommon.

This week’s fire, however, is on another level.

“This is the largest wildfire we know of,” says Stef Lhermitte, a satellite expert at Technische Universiteit in Delft, Netherlands, who did some of the initial mapping of the fire. “For a lot of people, it’s been a bit of discovery on the go.” The fire was first spotted by a local aircraft on July 31.

What’s striking about the Greenland fire is that it fits a larger trend of rapid change across the northern reaches of the planet. A 2013 study found that across the entire Arctic, forests are burning at a rate unseen in at least 10,000 years.

By American standards, the Greenland fire is small, covering around 1,200 acres (about two square miles) — about the size of midtown Manhattan. The massive Lodgepole Complex wildfire that scorched eastern Montana in July — the largest fire in the country this year — was more than 200 times bigger. But for Greenland, a fire of this size is so unusual that even scientists who study the huge island don’t really know what to make of it.

The Danish meteorological service (Greenland is technically an autonomously governing part of Denmark) said it has no experts who specialize in Greenland fire. The European Commission has tasked its Emergency Management Service with a rapid mapping of the region of the fire, in part to help local officials assess the risks to public health. Mark Parrington, a meteorologist with the European government, said on Twitter that he “didn’t expect to be adding Greenland into my fire monitoring,” adding that he may need to recalibrate his air pollution models to account for the smoldering way that fire tends to burn in permafrost soil.

Riikka Rinnan, an ecologist at the University of Copenhagen, said her research team had started work earlier this summer on how potential fires could impact Greenland’s tundra, but didn’t expect one so soon. Jessica McCarty, a satellite data expert at Miami University in Ohio, said she’s planning to have one of her students construct what might be the first-ever comprehensive history of fires in Greenland.

And yes, as you might expect, climate change probably made this whole thing more likely.

“Everything we know suggests that fire will increase in the Arctic,” climate scientist Jason Box, whose work focuses on Greenland, told me. “It’s fair to say that it’s part of the pattern of warming. We should see more such fires in Greenland.”

Though west Greenland, where the fire is burning, is a semi-arid region, rainfall and temperatures there have been increasing, helping to foster more dense vegetation. Box says this is part of the “shrubification” of the entire Arctic as temperatures warm and the growing season lengthens. Denser vegetation is making large fires more likely, in combination with the simultaneous tendency for longer and more intense droughts and the rise in thunderstorm likelihood due to erratic weather patterns.

Box says he saw a fire in west Greenland back in 1999. “It’s pretty interesting for Greenland, people don’t think about it as a place where that’s possible — nor did I until I saw it with my own eyes.” Once he realized he was watching a wildfire, he said, “It was like, what the heck? What is going on?”

What set off this blaze? The scientists I spoke with aren’t sure. The primary cause of Arctic wildfires is lightning, but a lightning storm in Greenland would have been news. Thunderstorms typically need warm, humid air for fuel, and both are in short supply so close to the world’s second largest ice sheet.

According to John Kappelen, a Danish meteorologist, the region surrounding the fire has had well below average rainfall since June, making wildfire more likely.

“This time of year, everybody’s going out and picking berries and fishing and hunting,” says Ruth Mottram, a climate scientist at the Danish meteorological service who conducts frequent fieldwork in Greenland. Maybe someone in the area set a fire that grew into the big blaze. Greenland’s second largest town, Sisimiut, with a population of 5,500, is about 90 miles away.

Mottram says that if the fire is burning in peatland, it could rage for weeks. If the winds shift, soot from the fire could be transported up to the ice sheet, where it might speed local melting in the coming years by darkening the surface of the ice, helping it to absorb more energy from the sun. This is something that scientists like Box and Mottram are spending their careers studying, but up to now, they thought that virtually all the soot that’s making the bright white ice darker was transported there from Canada or Russia. Now, a new source may be emerging.

Should wildfires like this one increase in frequency, we may have just witnessed the start of a new, scary feedback loop.

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Greenland, the land of ice and snow, is burning

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After 3 hot years, reefs can finally chill a little.

This week, New York Mayor Bill de Blasio’s office announced a new initiative to combat climate change–augmented extreme heat in the city. It comes down to: Plant a tree! Make a palThose are actually not bad ideas. 

The $106 million package — dubbed Cool Neighborhoods NYC, which, yikes — will largely go to tree-planting across more heatwave-endangered communities in the South Bronx, Northern Manhattan, and Central Brooklyn. Funding will also further develop the unpronounceable NYC °CoolRoofs program, which aims to cover 2.7 million square feet of city roofs with foliage.

But, to me, the more noteworthy component of the plan is Be A Buddy NYC — again, yikes — which “promotes community cohesion” as a means of climate resilience.

“A heat emergency is not the time to identify vulnerable residents,” explains the Mayor’s Office’s report. “Rather, it is important to build social networks that can help share life-saving information prior to such an emergency, and can reach out to at-risk neighbors during an extreme heat event.”

The new policy supports the argument that this whole community engagement thing is a crucial tactic in the fight against climate change.

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After 3 hot years, reefs can finally chill a little.

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Love in the Time of Mass Migration

Mother Jones

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You can get through Mohsin Hamid’s latest in an afternoon. Not to suggest that Exit West, Hamid’s fourth novel, is frivolous reading. In just over 200 pages, he spans the globe as he tells the story of Nadia and Saeed, a young Muslim couple forced to flee an unnamed homeland—first to Greece and then to California. Falling in love as their city descends into conflict and chaos, the two eventually escape through magical portals, landing in refugee camps and squatters dens where they are confronted by nativist mobs. The crisis and the characters are fictional, but the circumstances feel almost journalistic. “It’s a love story,” Hamid assures me.

Exit West is, in fact, a classic boy-meets-girl tale, but like much of Hamid’s previous work it also tells a larger story of globalization and its discontents. With great compassion, he portrays the profound ruptures in a rapidly changing world. His characters are average people with average ambitions who bear the burdens of mobility—westward, upward, or forced. Given the anti-immigrant sentiment in Europe and the United States, it feels both urgent and much needed.

Hamid knows a thing or two about culture shock. He was born in the Pakistani city of Lahore, where he now lives with his wife and two children, a short drive from the Indian border. But he spent some formative childhood years playing on the manicured lawns of Palo Alto. Since releasing his first novel, Moth Smoke, in 2000, Hamid has won a Man Booker Prize, has had his work adapted for film and translated into 35 languages, and has been named one of Foreign Policy magazine’s “Leading Global Thinkers.” His novels, which also include The Reluctant Fundamentalist and How to Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia, enjoy international acclaim and bestseller status. But Exit West may be his most prescient to date—an antidote of sorts (one can only hope) in this moment of xenophobic fear and mistrust.

Mother Jones: What was it like growing up between Pakistan and the United States?

Mohsin Hamid: When I was three, my dad went to do his Ph.D. at Stanford, so my mom and I moved with him and we lived in California for six years. I moved back to Lahore when I was nine, in 1980, and went back to the US for college and law school. I worked in New York for a while, then London for the better part of a decade. I have been back in Lahore for about seven years now.

MJ: Was there a sense of culture shock moving back and forth?

MH: There was pretty huge culture shock when I was nine! I had no memories of Pakistan. We hadn’t been back to visit in the six and a half years we’d been in California, and phone calls were expensive so I never really spoke to anyone. There was no internet. I’d never seen Pakistani movies or television, and I’d forgotten how to speak Urdu. So basically I was a Californian kid. I arrived in Pakistan completely unfamiliar with where I was going—and then utterly lost connection with where I’d just been. When I moved back, in 2009, with my wife and our daughter, it was still very strange. Maybe at a certain point, if you’ve moved around enough, everywhere feels a little bit foreign.

MJ: Do you consider Urdu your first language?

MH: This is the weird thing. My second language has become my first, and Urdu has become my second or third language. I started speaking at a very young age, a lot, but in Urdu. So in America, I go play outside in front of the townhouse by the Stanford campus where we live. All those townhouses look identical and I start crying. Outside the townhouse next to ours, the neighbor looks down at this befuddled Pakistani kid, and I’m looking at him like, “This is not my house! These are not my parents!” I’m surrounded by a bunch of kids and they ask my mother, “What’s wrong with him? Why can’t he speak?” She says, “He speaks fine.” And they say, “Is he retarded?”

For a month after that I didn’t speak a word. They were quite worried. I just watched cartoons. A month later, when I next spoke, I spoke in English with an American accent. I guess I spent a month somehow transitioning. It must have been quite traumatic to have made me silent for so long. Perhaps it’s shaped who I am, and my nomadic and multinational, multicultural view of life.

MJ: Were you drawn to books as a kid?

MH: Very early on. I was really into fantasy worlds and I loved stories—comic books in particular. My dad had this outlook: It doesn’t matter what I want to read—reading was a good thing. So whatever I was curious about they’d get for me from the library. Books were a kind of a resistance to reality. I liked to imagine worlds that were different. I still do.

MJ: Were there books or shows you couldn’t get in Pakistan because they were too salacious?

MH: Books, nobody bothered to censor them. You could find everything from full-on porn to soft porn in the guise of fantasy and sci-fi, and books like Lolita that had controversial sexual themes. There was much more censorship of images, though in the ’80s the VCR became quite popular, and you could get all the films you get in the US on pirated videocassettes.

MJ: What are the biggest misunderstandings between American and Pakistani cultures?

MH: The monolithic view that many Americans have of Pakistani culture is as inaccurate as the monolithic view that many Pakistanis have of American culture. In America there are people advocating for trans rights and people like Vice President Pence, who is vehemently opposed. In Pakistan, too, you have all kinds of folks—from flamboyant gay fashion designers and female Air Force pilots to the Taliban. A cross-dressed man used to be the top TV talk show host. It was actually quite radical. So the diversity of these societies is often lost on people. If an American teenager were to come to Lahore, they’d have wildly different experiences depending on whom they met. They could party and get drunk and smoke hashish with some, while others would say, “Let’s get some religious instruction.”

MJ: There’s been a lot of hand-wringing over the migrant crisis, but we seldom really get to know the refugees themselves. Did that factor into your reasons for writing Exit West?

MH: I’m not sufficient to act as their voice. But I thought it was important to imagine a narrative where a migrant was the hero, the protagonist, and enjoyed all of the narrative sympathies that come with that role. Because all over the world, the nativist perspective is being privileged over those who are more recent arrivals.

I also think massive migration is inevitable. As sea levels rise, as climate change happens, as fertile fields become arid, as wars are fought, people are going to move. They always have. I think we should be prepared, given environmental and political change for large-scale migration. If sea levels rise and 200 million people in Bangladesh and 300 million people in Indonesia need to move, and the entire Chinese seaboard, New York City—that’s going to be huge. So I thought it was important to imagine a future of immense migration and compress that into just a couple of years. And to imagine this future not as just a dystopian horror, but as something more complicated—that might even have elements of hope.

Partly, it’s our failure to imagine how change can be hopeful that empowers nostalgic narratives that try to take us back to the past in ways that are very dangerous.

MJ: People will inevitably call this a refugee story, but it almost seems like a love story first and foremost.

MH: In a way, all of my novels have been love stories. This one’s about young love, which two people as they grow and develop potentially leave behind. But also for the possibility of friendship to outlast the love. We’re not condemned to this titanic struggle of possession. This is about a different kind of relationship. I think all human stories are migration stories because everyone is a refugee from their own childhood. Even if you don’t move localities, time moves. The California of your childhood is over. So to say it’s a refugee story is true—and it’s also a love story. The notion of love as a potentially destructive and potentially redemptive human force is something that comes across in all my books.

MJ: So we should call you a romantic novelist?

MH: Laughs. In a weird way, yes! I’m not uncomfortable with the term. We think of the romance novel as a lesser form of literature, but I don’t think that’s true. Love is a very important aspect of human life and worth exploring. In Italian, the word for novel is romanzo, “the romance.” The English is “novel”—something new. Both of those elements, experimentation and love, are fundamental to the form.

MJ: Do you have any favorite love stories?

MH: I don’t have a single archetypal one, but for example, Charlotte’s Web is this beautiful story about love and death. Charlotte becomes kind of like a best friend for Wilbur, but also like a mother for him. That’s a novel about how love endures and how it makes weathering the experience of mortality more possible.

MJ: The discussion about migration right now seems to be dominated by fear. Is love the antidote?

MH: Also the need to empathize with, and insert oneself inside, experiences that are different than one has had. Literature and art and movies all play a very important role. They can help disarm this feeling. When we aren’t collectively imagining hopeful futures, then the way things are going almost invariably seems negative and frightening.

MJ: I understand you take walks to catalyze your writing. Your pace of publication has improved. Is walking to thank?

MH: It might be that I’m getting older. This novel felt quick to me—it took four years. But walking is very good for writers. There’s something fundamentally useful about not talking to anybody, not looking at a screen, and being in nature—even if that nature is an urban environment. It’s definitely helped me, especially when I’m completely stuck.

In that sense, the mobile phone is very dangerous. If you’re walking and looking at your phone, you’re not walking—you’re surfing the internet. If you keep your eyes open, walking is a meditative act. It’s so rare that we allow ourselves just to be. It’s a space in a day that we almost never carve out for ourselves. I think it’s very useful, like sleeping and dreaming, as something that’s important to my ability to write.

MJ: So you leave your phone at home?

MH: I keep it in my pocket. But I believe in digital detox. We’re all so terrified in the world right now partly because of the digital—that’s TV, radio, reading your favorite conspiracy theory blog. That stuff activates a sort of fight-or-flight response, and that’s not a state human beings feel good inhabiting. When I’m really plugged in I find it difficult to write. It’s like digging a well. If you make a void, something moves in to fill it. Writing books is like that. It’s mostly about freeing up time, doing nothing, and in that time some writing starts to happen. We need to figure out how to maintain those voids.

MJ: What’s it like to be in Pakistan living so close to India?

MH: Lahore is a very weird place in that sense. I can drive to the border in 30 minutes, walk across a line painted in the cement, and I’m in India. It’s bizarre. India to someone who lives in Lahore is like Queens to someone who lives in Lower Manhattan—it’s not far away, and yet it doesn’t exist. Lahore really is on a fault line. The animosity between India and Pakistan is deeply unfortunate and dangerous, and it’s something I’ve long campaigned to reduce. But right now, when there’s artillery being exchanged in Kashmir—which is not for from here, either—and there are 100-ish nuclear weapons on each side of the border, there’s never really been a case like this where two nuclear armed countries are happily shelling each other.

MJ: Was your family growing up very religious?

MH: There were differing degrees: Some people never did anything you would describe as outwardly religious, like praying or fasting. Others prayed five times a day. My mother has been to Mecca to perform her hajj; my dad hasn’t. I come from a very liberal family, so even the people who are outwardly religious tend to subscribe to gender equality, the importance of open-mindedness, all that stuff. My family is generally nonprescriptive.

MJ: Are you religious yourself?

MJ: It’s not something I like to talk about publicly. One reason is the politics, but also I think spirituality is deeply personal. My aunt used to say, “It’s between me and my god; it’s got nothing to do with you.” It was a good enough answer for me as a snot-nosed college kid angling for a religious debate, and I still think it’s a good way of putting it.

MJ: How do you feel about mandates on religious clothing?

MH: I’m not a fan. We should be very skeptical of people who want to place limits on how we express ourselves. If my daughter wanted to wear a headscarf and dress in a religiously conservative way, I would be heartbroken. But if she were to decide to do that and she were to live in a place where people said she couldn’t do that, I would be entirely committed to her right to do so. The ban on the burkini, which is basically a wetsuit, seems particularly ridiculous. We know nuns will wear something like that, and we know the bikini was only invented 50 or 60 years ago—people wore more clothing until recently. The ethnocultural connotations of the burkini ban are very strong. It’s as absurd as mandating that women have to go topless on the beach. If I were a woman, I definitely would not want to wear a burkini or a headscarf. But it’s not about what I want.

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Love in the Time of Mass Migration

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Here Are the Very Best Signs From New York City’s Big LGBT Solidarity March

Mother Jones

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Emptying out from brunch spots wielding wickedly pointed signs, and chanting, “We want a leader, not a creepy tweeter!” thousands of anti-Trump demonstrators from the LGBT community met for a rally on hallowed turf on Saturday afternoon: the plaza outside the Stonewall nightclub in New York City’s West Village—recently designated by the Obama administration as a National Monument for its historic role in the long fight for gay rights.

Eugene Lovendusky, 31, works in not-for-profit financing in New York City. James West

Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), the Senate minority leader, received a mixed reception when he appeared in front of the microphone. “Grow some balls!” several people shouted. “Block everything!”—a reference to the ground-swell of progressive voters demanding Schumer lead Senate Democrats in styming President Trump’s agenda and appointments. (Protesters also gathered on Tuesday night outside the minority leader’s Brooklyn apartment.)

Schumer’s pledge to block Betsy DeVos, Trump’s pick for education secretary—”She can take her conversion therapy back to Michigan!”—was, on the other hand, met with cheers and applause.

James West

But it was clear from talking to multiple people in the LGBT community and their allies on this chilly but sunny Saturday that battle-lines have been drawn: many felt there could be no compromise with the Trump administration.

“It’s time to stop giving in,” said Alan Brodherson, a 52-year-old attorney. “Over the years, that’s what the Democrats have consistently done.”

“I don’t believe in complacency,” he said. “Be vigilant.”

Taylor James, a 29-year-old Canadian dancer and photographer who now lives in Los Angeles, was also impressed by the renewed sense of purpose amongst protesters. “It’s inspiring. In 50 years, in 40 years, I’ll look back to see how I stood up,” he said. “It feels very personal.”

Trump, he said, “forces us to show up.”

Taylor James, 29: “When you’re a liberal, you’re fighting to get to ground zero.”

Most people I spoke to said they turned up to show solidarity with the immigrants and refugees targeted by President Donald Trump’s executive order temporarily barring travel from seven predominantly Muslim countries, along with suspending America’s refugee program. (The Trump administration suffered a set-back on Friday night when Judge James Robart of Federal District Court in Seattle issued an order temporarily blocking Trump’s executive action.)

Jaimie McGovern, 29, showed up simply because “the LGBT community is across every spectrum. We’re Muslim, we’re Hispanic.” She surveyed the turnout: “This is fantastic.”

Marissa Nargi, left, and Jaimie McGovern, both students, turned out to show their support for immigrants and refugees. James West

“We’re not going to stand by while Trump takes away rights one by one,” said IT worker David Vazquez, 31. “It seems like every day he comes out with something new. We need to keep from being discouraged.”

Mike Hisey, dressed as Kellyanne Conway with a blond wig and an outfit that evoked her now-famous inauguration getup, stood outside Stonewall itself, attracting a constant stream of requests for photographs with a deadpan face. “Protesting and march works,” he said.

“I’ve been protesting for 30 years.”

Mike Hisey, a.k.a. “Alt-Fact Kelly,” outside Stonewall nightclub in Manhattan’s West Village. James West


Here Are the Very Best Signs From New York City’s Big LGBT Solidarity March

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Comeygate Is Looking Worse and Worse

Mother Jones

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We’re into single digits, people. There are only 9 days left until the hellscape of this year’s presidential campaign ends. In the meantime, let’s play a game! Can you guess who the mystery man is in this story?

In the fall of 1996, a charity called the Association to Benefit Children held a ribbon-cutting in Manhattan for a new nursery school serving children with AIDS. The bold-faced names took seats up front. There was then-Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani (R) and former mayor David Dinkins (D). TV stars Frank and Kathie Lee Gifford, who were major donors. And there was a seat saved for Steven Fisher, a developer who had given generously to build the nursery.

Then, all of a sudden…“There’s this kind of ruckus at the door…He just gets up on the podium and sits down.”…“Frank Gifford turned to me and said, ‘Why is he here?’ ” Buchenholz recalled recently. By then, the ceremony had begun. There was nothing to do.

Once he was onstage, he played the part of a big donor convincingly. Photos from the event show him smiling, right behind Giuliani, as the mayor cut the ribbon. During the “celebratory dance” segment of the program, he mugged and did the macarena with Giuliani, Kathie Lee Gifford and a group of children.

“I am just heartsick,” Buchenholz, the executive director, wrote the next day to the donor whose seat had been taken. Buchenholz provided a copy of the email.

What’s that? You all guessed Donald Trump? Seriously? All of you? Damn. And here I thought I was being so clever. But click the link anyway to read David Fahrenthold’s latest reporting on the almost pathological aversion to actual charity that has marked Donald Trump’s life.

Meanwhile, in the breaking news department, Comeygate is getting fishier and fishier. It’s already unclear why FBI Director James Comey decided to ignite a firestorm over a set of emails that nobody had read yet and quite possibly have nothing to do with Hillary Clinton. It’s also unclear why the FBI hasn’t yet gotten a warrant to go ahead and read the emails, something that most likely could be done in a few hours. Now there’s this:

The FBI agents investigating Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server knew early this month that messages recovered in a separate probe might be germane to their case, but they waited weeks before briefing the FBI director, according to people familiar with the case….Given that the Clinton email team knew for weeks that it may have cause to resume its work, it is unclear why investigators did not tell Comey sooner.

This is now getting beyond a case of mere poor judgment on Comey’s part. If the FBI knew about these messages weeks ago, they could easily have gotten a warrant and begun looking at them. If they were harmless—which I’m willing to bet on—Comey could then have either said nothing, or else made it clear that the emails were nothing new.

Instead, the Bureau sat on this for weeks; failed to get a warrant; and informed Comey only at the very tail end of a presidential campaign, when there wouldn’t be enough time to release any exonerating information before Election Day. And if published reports are accurate, Comey went public with this within ten days of an election—something that contravenes longstanding policy at the Department of Justice—because he basically figured he was operating under a threat that it would be leaked with or without him.

If you had material that was literally meaningless because no one had yet looked at it, but you wanted to make it sound sinister, this is how you would play it. Is that just coincidence? Beats me. But something smells very, very rotten here.

POSTSCRIPT: Still, let’s stay clear on something. The behavior of Comey and the FBI is somewhere between clueless and scandalous, but the behavior of the media has been flatly outrageous. Given what we know, there is simply no reason for this to have been a 24/7 cable obsession—or to command the entire top half of the front page of the New York Times. This massive amount of attention has been in the service of literally nothing new. Once again, though, when the press hears the words “email” and “Hillary Clinton” anywhere near each other, they go completely out of their minds.


Comeygate Is Looking Worse and Worse

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Even Hillary Clinton’s Victory Rally Is Trolling Donald Trump

Mother Jones

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Election night is 13 days away, and Politico reports that Hillary Clinton finally has a venue for her victory rally: the Jacob V. Javits Center, overlooking the Hudson River in Manhattan. The venue, with its soaring glass ceiling, comes with obvious symbolic value for a candidate vying to become the first woman president. But the Javits Center also has an added significance for Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump—it’s one of his least favorite buildings in all of New York City.

It wasn’t always that way. Trump acquired the option to develop the site early in his career as a real estate developer, and he spent years trying to get the city to build a convention center at his location on West 34th Street. “There wouldn’t be a new convention center in New York today if it hadn’t been for the Trumps,” he wrote in his first book, The Art of the Deal, Trump even lobbied the city to name the building named after his family, offering to waive his $833,000 fee if they slapped the “Trump” name on the center.

But when the city chose a different developer for the project, Trump turned on it. In his book, he held the ensuing project responsible for “perhaps the most horrendous construction delays and cost overruns in the history of the building business”:

The Art of the Deal

Trump was also upset that the developers had ruined the view of the Hudson by facing the building in the wrong direction.

The Art of the Deal

Trolling Donald Trump may be the least of the Clinton campaign’s concerns when it comes to an election night rally—the election will, after all, be over by then. But it’s certainly a nice touch.

Taken from – 

Even Hillary Clinton’s Victory Rally Is Trolling Donald Trump

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The Trump Files: Donald Attacks a Reporter Who Questioned His Claim to Own the Empire State Building

Mother Jones

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Until the election, we’re bringing you “The Trump Files,” a daily dose of telling episodes, strange but true stories, or curious scenes from the life of GOP nominee Donald Trump.

If there’s one thing Donald Trump really doesn’t like, it’s being called out. British journalist Selina Scott found that out the hard way when she challenged his false claim that he wholly owned the Empire State Building.

In 1995, Scott interviewed Trump for a British television documentary. Scott and her producer, Ted Brocklebank, used the song “It Ain’t Necessarily So” in the background of the film to highlight how Trump’s claims “‘didn’t stand up,'” Brocklebank told journalist Michael D’Antonio in his book The Truth About Trump.

One of those claims occurred during a helicopter ride over Manhattan. Scott wrote in the Daily Mail early this year that Trump boasted that he was the sole owner of the Empire State Building, a declaration that Scott immediately challenged. He later said he owned 80 percent of the building, then admitted to owning just 50 percent of it. Scott reported Trump’s false claims in her film.

Trump wasn’t happy, and he took his revenge on Scott, sending her letters calling her “‘very sleazy,’ ‘unattractive,’ ‘obnoxious,’ and ‘boring,'” D’Antonio writes.

The mogul continued:

Selina, you have little talent and, from what I have seen, even fewer viewers. You are no longer ‘hot’; perhaps that is the curse of dishonesty. You would, obviously, go to any lengths to try to restore your faded image, but guess what—the public is aware and apparently much brighter than you. They aren’t tuning in! I hope you are able to solve your problems before it is too late.

Scott also wrote in the Daily Mail that Trump’s insults continued for years. In just one example, Scott said he sent her a clip of a story about his net worth with the message, “‘Selina you are a major loser.'”

In 2009, the 14-year feud with Scott took another turn. When Trump wanted to build his Scottish golf course in Aberdeen, members of the local council who were deciding whether to allow Trump to build on protected land received a copy of the mogul’s 1995 interview with Scott, according to the Guardian. When Trump found out that the council had seen the video, he lashed out at Scott, who said she wasn’t involved in the film’s distribution to the council. He called her a “third-class journalist” and said her interview with him was “‘a boring story then and she has since faded into obscurity where she belongs.'”

Scott didn’t hesitate in fighting back. In a prescient comment in light of recent revelations, Scott told the BBC last year, “I knew he was an unreconstructed misogynist.”

Read the rest of “The Trump Files”:

Trump Files #1: The Time Andrew Dice Clay Thanked Donald for the Hookers
Trump Files #2: When Donald Tried to Stop Charlie Sheen’s Marriage to Brooke Mueller
Trump Files #3: The Brief Life of the “Trump Chateau for the Indigent”
Trump Files #4: Donald Thinks Asbestos Fears Are a Mob Conspiracy
Trump Files #5: Donald’s Nuclear Negotiating Fantasy
Trump Files #6: Donald Wants a Powerball for Spies
Trump Files #7: Donald Gets An Allowance
Trump Files #8: The Time He Went Bananas on a Water Cooler
Trump Files #9: The Great Geico Boycott
Trump Files #10: Donald Trump, Tax-Hike Crusader
Trump Files #11: Watch Donald Trump Say He Would Have Done Better as a Black Man
Trump Files #12: Donald Can’t Multiply 17 and 6
Trump Files #13: Watch Donald Sing the “Green Acres” Theme Song in Overalls
Trump Files #14: The Time Donald Trump Pulled Over His Limo to Stop a Beating
Trump Files #15: When Donald Wanted to Help the Clintons Buy Their House
Trump Files #16: He Once Forced a Small Business to Pay Him Royalties for Using the Word “Trump”
Trump Files #17: He Dumped Wine on an “Unattractive Reporter”
Trump Files #18: Behold the Hideous Statue He Wanted to Erect In Manhattan
Trump Files #19: When Donald Was “Principal for a Day” and Confronted by a Fifth-Grader
Trump Files #20: In 2012, Trump Begged GOP Presidential Candidates to Be Civil
Trump Files #21: When Donald Couldn’t Tell the Difference Between Gorbachev and an Impersonator
Trump Files #22: His Football Team Treated Its Cheerleaders “Like Hookers”
Trump Files #23: Donald Tried to Shut Down a Bike Race Named “Rump”
Trump Files #24: When Donald Called Out Pat Buchanan for Bigotry
Trump Files #25: Donald’s Most Ridiculous Appearance on Howard Stern’s Show
Trump Files #26: How Donald Tricked New York Into Giving Him His First Huge Deal
Trump Files #27: Donald Told Congress the Reagan Tax Cuts Were Terrible
Trump Files #28: When Donald Destroyed Historic Art to Build Trump Tower
Trump Files #29: Donald Wanted to Build an Insane Castle on Madison Avenue
Trump Files #30: Donald’s Near-Death Experience (That He Invented)
Trump Files #31: When Donald Struck Oil on the Upper West Side
Trump Files #32: When Donald Massacred Trees in the Trump Tower Lobby
Trump Files #33: When Donald Demanded Other People Pay for His Overpriced Quarterback
Trump Files #34: The Time Donald Sued Someone Who Made Fun of Him for $500 Million
Trump Files #35: Donald Tried to Make His Ghostwriter Pay for His Book Party
Trump Files #36: Watch Donald Shave a Man’s Head on Television
Trump Files #37: How Donald Helped Make It Harder to Get Football Tickets
Trump Files #38: Donald Was Curious About His Baby Daughter’s Breasts
Trump Files #39: When Democrats Courted Donald
Trump Files #40: Watch the Trump Vodka Ad Designed for a Russian Audience
Trump Files #41: Donald’s Cologne Smelled of Jamba Juice and Strip Clubs
Trump Files #42: Donald Sued Other People Named Trump for Using Their Own Name
Trump Files #43: Donald Thinks Asbestos Would Have Saved the Twin Towers
Trump Files #44: Why Donald Threw a Fit Over His “Trump Tree” in Central Park
Trump Files #45: Watch Trump Endorse Slim Shady for President
Trump Files #46: The Easiest 13 Cents He Ever Made
Trump Files #47: The Time Donald Burned a Widow’s Mortgage
Trump Files #48: Donald’s Recurring Sex Dreams
Trump Files #49: Trump’s Epic Insult Fight With Ed Koch
Trump Files #50: Donald Has Some Advice for Citizen Kane
Trump Files #51: Donald Once Turned Down a Million-Dollar Bet on “Trump: The Game”
Trump Files #52: When Donald Tried to Shake Down Mike Tyson for $2 Million
Trump Files #53: Donald and Melania’s Creepy, Sex-Filled Interview With Howard Stern
Trump Files #54: Donald’s Mega-Yacht Wasn’t Big Enough For Him
Trump Files #55: When Donald Got in a Fight With Martha Stewart
Trump Files #56: Donald Reenacts an Iconic Scene From Top Gun
Trump Files #57: How Donald Tried to Hide His Legal Troubles to Get His Casino Approved
Trump Files #58: Donald’s Wall Street Tower Is Filled With Crooks
Trump Files #59: When Donald Took Revenge by Cutting Off Health Coverage for a Sick Infant
Trump Files #60: Donald Couldn’t Name Any of His “Handpicked” Trump U Professors
Trump Files #61: Watch a Clip of the Awful TV Show Trump Wanted to Make About Himself
Trump Files #62: Donald Perfectly Explains Why He Doesn’t Have a Presidential Temperament
Trump Files #63: Donald’s Petty Revenge on Connie Chung
Trump Files #64: Why Donald Called His 4-Year-Old Son a “Loser”
Trump Files #65: The Time Donald Called Some of His Golf Club Members “Spoiled Rich Jewish Guys”
Trump Files #66: “Always Be Around Unsuccessful People,” Donald Recommends
Trump Files #67: Donald Said His Life Was “Shit.” Here’s Why.
Trump Files #68: Donald Filmed a Music Video. It Didn’t Go Well.
Trump Files #69: Donald Claimed “More Indian Blood” Than the Native Americans Competing With His Casinos
Trump Files #70: Donald Has Been Inflating His Net Worth for 40 Years
Trump Files #71: Donald Weighs In on “Ghetto Supastar”
Trump Files #72: The Deadly Powerboat Race Donald Hosted in Atlantic City
Trump Files #73: When Donald Fat-Shamed Miss Universe
Trump Files #74: Yet Another Time Donald Sued Over the Word “Trump”
Trump Files #75: Donald Thinks Exercising Might Kill You
Trump Files #76: Donald’s Big Book of Hitler Speeches
Trump Files #77: When Donald Ran Afoul of Ancient Scottish Heraldry Law
Trump Files #78: Donald Accuses a Whiskey Company of Election Fraud
Trump Files #79: When Donald’s Anti-Japanese Comments Came Back to Haunt Him
Trump Files #80: The Shady Way Fred Trump Tried to Save His Son’s Casino
Trump Files #81: Donald’s Creepy Poolside Parties in Florida
Trump Files #82: Donald Gives a Lesson in How Not to Ski With Your Kids
Trump Files #83: Listen to Donald Brag About His Affairs—While Pretending to Be Someone Else
Trump Files #84: How Donald Made a Fortune by Dumping His Debt on Other People
Trump Files #85: When Donald Bought a Nightclub From an Infamous Mobster
Trump Files #86: Donald Sues Himself—And Wins!
Trump Files #87: Donald’s War on His Scottish Neighbors
Trump Files #88: When Donald Had to Prove He Was Not the Son of an Orangutan
Trump Files #89: There Once Was a Horse Named DJ Trump
Trump Files #90: How Donald’s Lawyers Dealt With His Constant Lying
Trump Files #91: Donald Flipped Out When an Analyst (Correctly) Predicted His Casino’s Failure

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The Trump Files: Donald Attacks a Reporter Who Questioned His Claim to Own the Empire State Building

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