Category : Urban/City Life and Issues

(60 minutes) “Beyond Anything I’ve Seen In My Career”: Doctors On The Front Lines Describe Surge In Coronavirus Patients

Dr. Mangala Narasimhan is chief of critical care at Long Island Jewish Medical Center, one of 23 hospitals in the Northwell Health System.

Dr. Mangala Narasimhan: I have 18 beds in one ICU full of people on ventilators, completely sedated unable to open their eyes or interact or talk to their families. And we are feeding them through tubes, and we are completely keeping them paralyzed so that we can properly ventilate them. It’s our sickest patients, and they’re in every single room of our ICU.

The pictures in our story were shot for us by hospital staff. By the end of this past week, New York City hospitals admitted more than 5,000 COVID-19 patients. At Northwell Health hospitals, about a third of COVID-19 patients go to intensive care, often suddenly.

Dr. Mangala Narasimhan: Very quickly, within hours. They walk into the hospital, talking, or into an urgent care. And 12 hours later they’re on a ventilator, fighting for their life.

Scott Pelley: Is that unusual?

Dr. Mangala Narasimhan: Very unusual. Very unusual. We don’t see that course in progression like this with any other disease that we deal with.

Scott Pelley: How long are they staying in the ICU?

Dr. Mangala Narasimhan: Much longer than our normal patients are. Normal patients, we have three or four days of ICU stay and they leave. These patients, and this is consistent with China and with what Italy is seeing, take about two weeks on a ventilator before they can come off, if they come off.

Read or watch it all (video highly recommended as it will have more impact).

Posted in America/U.S.A., Health & Medicine, Urban/City Life and Issues

(NYT) Coronavirus Slowdown in Seattle Suggests Restrictions Are Working

The Seattle area, home of the first known coronavirus case in the United States and the place where the virus claimed 37 of its first 50 victims, is now seeing evidence that strict containment strategies, imposed in the earliest days of the outbreak, are beginning to pay off — at least for now.

Deaths are not rising as fast as they are in other states. Dramatic declines in street traffic show that people are staying home. Hospitals have so far not been overwhelmed. And preliminary statistical models provided to public officials in Washington State suggest that the spread of the virus has slowed in the Seattle area in recent days.

While each infected person was spreading the virus to an average of 2.7 other people earlier in March, that number appears to have dropped, with one projection suggesting that it was now down to 1.4.

The researchers who are preparing the latest projections, led by the Institute for Disease Modeling, a private research group in Bellevue, Wash., have been watching a variety of data points since the onset of the outbreak. They include tens of thousands of coronavirus test results, deaths, and mobility information — including traffic patterns and the movements of anonymous Facebook users — to estimate the rate at which coronavirus patients are spreading the disease to others.

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Health & Medicine, Urban/City Life and Issues

(CBS) Scott Gottlieb discusses coronavirus on “Face the Nation” This Morning

GOTTLIEB: Well, we’ve said in a report that we put out today that you should wait until you see sustained reduction in the number of cases for 14 days. So 14 days after you start to see a sustained reduction in the number of daily cases, that’s the point at which you can contemplate lifting some of these measures that we have in place right now, some of these very aggressive social distancing measures. But you need to do it very gradually. You need to substitute in other things. There’s other conditions that need to be met. You need to have the ability to test the population widely so you can determine who has the infection, who doesn’t, and use case-based interventions, where you isolate individual people. You also want good information about where the virus is spreading. You need to be testing very widely to know where the virus is spreading. So those tools need to be in place. Now those tools are getting in place. I think by the end of the week, we’ll have the capacity to screen maybe as close to- close to 750,000 people a week. And in going into the week after that, maybe close to a million. The limitation on our ability to screen isn’t going to be the screening platforms themselves. We’ve now deployed a lot of sophisticated platforms, including plat- platforms into doctors’ offices. The limitation is going to be the low commodity components of testing, like the swabs or the plastic components used to actually run the tests. The manufacturing supply chain for those components is very limited right now.

Read (or watch) it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Health & Medicine, Urban/City Life and Issues

(NYT) Jessica Lustig–What I Learned When My Husband Got Sick With Coronavirus

We both wear disposable gloves. I put my hand through the crook of his arm, and we slowly start for the clinic. The day before was one of the harder ones, with T lightheaded and nauseated most of the day, eating only if I spoon-fed him, coughing more and using his albuterol inhaler more, then coughing more again. He was soaked in sweat in the morning and by evening was lying curled up, looking apprehensive. “I coughed up blood just now,” he told me quietly.

We talked to his doctor on speakerphone. “We are all kind of working blind,” he told us. Many patients, he said, seem to begin to feel better after a week. But others, the more serious and severe cases, take a downturn, and the risks rise as the virus targets the lungs. Pneumonia is a common next step in that downward progression. We read about it in the patients admitted to the hospital. Now the doctor called in a prescription for antibiotics to the CVS pharmacy that would close in less than an hour. I texted T’s friend down the block, and he texted back that he would pick up the medicine. I asked if he would get oranges too; T has been accepting a little fresh-squeezed juice or cut-up pieces, and we were down to one last orange. They suddenly seemed an unimaginably exotic treat.

The doctor told us to go back to the clinic for a chest X-ray first thing in the morning. Now we slowly walk the three blocks, T coughing behind his mask. As we move along the street, we see some other people too — fewer than a few days ago, before Gov. Andrew Cuomo directed New Yorkers to stay indoors as much as possible. Some joggers go by. Just over a week ago, that was still me. Now I point out the buds about to bloom on the branches we pass, drawing T’s attention away from the few passers-by so we won’t see if they start or turn around. A few are wearing their own masks, but they are walking upright, striding along, using them as protection for themselves. Not like us….

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Children, Health & Medicine, Marriage & Family, Urban/City Life and Issues

(NYT Op-ed) Cornelia Griggs–A New York Doctor’s Coronavirus Warning: The Sky Is Falling

Today, at the hospital where I work, one of the largest in New York City, Covid-19 cases continue to climb, and there’s movement to redeploy as many health care workers as possible to the E.R.s, new “fever clinics” and I.C.U.s. It’s becoming an all-healthy-hands-on-deck scenario.

The sky is falling. I’m not afraid to say it. A few weeks from now you may call me an alarmist; and I can live with that. Actually, I will keel over with happiness if I’m proven wrong.

Alarmist is not a word anyone has ever used to describe me before. I’m a board-certified surgeon and critical care specialist who spent much of my training attending to traumas in the emergency room and doing the rounds at Harvard hospitals’ intensive care units. I’m now in my last four months of training as a pediatric surgeon in New York City. Part of my job entails waking in the middle of the night to rush to the children’s hospital to put babies on a form of life support called ECMO, a service required when a child’s lungs are failing even with maximum ventilator support. Scenarios that mimic end-stage Covid-19 are part of my job. Panic is not in my vocabulary; the emotion has been drilled out of me in nine years of training. This is different.

We are living in a global public health crisis moving at a speed and scale never witnessed by living generations. The cracks in our medical and financial systems are being splayed open like a gashing wound. No matter how this plays out, life will forever look a little different for all of us.

Read it all.

Posted in Health & Medicine, Urban/City Life and Issues

(WSJ) Coronavirus Cases Strain New York City Hospitals: ‘We’re Getting Pounded’

In recent days, the number of confirmed cases in New York City more than doubled to 4,408 as a blitz of testing began to reveal the rapid march of the disease, officials said. New York City alone now makes up 42% of total U.S. confirmed cases. Across the entire state, there have been 7,102 total cases and 35 deaths, making up a quarter of nationwide deaths from the illness.

With the onslaught has come a surprise for many health-care workers: Far more young people than they expected are falling very ill. According to data published Friday morning by the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, 56% of confirmed cases of coronavirus in the city at the time involved patients under the age of 50.

At the Long Island Jewish Medical Center in Queens, several coronavirus patients under 40, including a few in their 20s, were on ventilators in the intensive-care unit as of Thursday. All were healthy before getting the virus, said Dr. Narasimhan.

The Wall Street Journal talked to about 20 medical workers on the front lines of the outbreak at New York area hospitals.

About 90% of Long Island Jewish Medical Center beds were full Thursday after Northwell Health hospitals in recent days sent home about 2,500 patients scheduled for release and canceled elective procedures, said Terry Lynam, a Northwell Health spokesman.

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Health & Medicine, Urban/City Life and Issues

(NYT) ‘I Lose Sleep Over This Building’: A Rush to Make Synagogues Safe

The East Midwood Jewish Center in Brooklyn needs $250,000 to replace its aging roof and another $250,000 to repair the water-damaged ceiling of its sanctuary, its director said. Then there is the aging boiler — the size of a small apartment — that has needed $20,000 worth of maintenance so far this winter.

Looming over those everyday concerns is something more existential: keeping everyone in the 96-year-old building alive and well at a time of rising anti-Semitism in New York and around the country.

Enhancing security for Jewish institutions, and how to pay for it, has become an urgent issue for religious leaders and local and state governments.

“I lose sleep over this building every night because I care about this institution and I want to protect it and I need the money to do it,” said Wayne Rosenfeld, the executive director of the synagogue, which provides Hebrew lessons for 50 students twice a week and social events for 150 older people on weekdays.

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Judaism, Religion & Culture, Urban/City Life and Issues, Violence

(WSJ) Roman Catholicism, Culture Mix at the Sheen

Like many arts spaces in New York City, the Sheen Center for Thought & Culture offers a varied mix of events, from film screenings to gallery exhibits.

But the nonprofit venue in Manhattan’s NoHo neighborhood differs in that its mission is exactly that—a religious calling.

The Sheen Center is the cultural home of the Archdiocese of New York. And even as the Roman Catholic Church has contended with a range of issues and scandals in recent years, the center has proved something of a local success story.

Since the Sheen opened in 2015, it has expanded its programming. It now hosts more than 50 events annually that encompass many cultural disciplines, plus talks and lectures. The center’s leadership also says it draws its audience from beyond the base of 2.8 million Catholics throughout the metropolitan New York City area, noting that a local rabbi, Joseph Potasnik, serves on its board.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic, Urban/City Life and Issues

Bishop of Kensington Graham Tomlin–Two years on since Grenfell, nothing much has changed

We sat with one young mother of three, in her small flat in one of the blocks near the shell of Grenfell Tower. She lives in what is euphemistically called ‘temporary accommodation’ (some in her block had been in such a state for twenty years or more). The block had been without hot water for many weeks. When it was finally fixed, within a week she was then told to move her family to another flat in the block as the owners wanted it back. If she refused, the only options were a flat in Essex miles away from her children’s schools or homelessness. The lock on the door to the ground floor balcony did not work, making the apartment vulnerable to intruders. Doors were hanging loose from kitchen cabinets making them unusable, and mouse droppings were scattered across the floor despite her putting down traps. Because the flat was offered by the Council yet administered by a Housing Association, it was hard to know who to complain to. As a result, repeated calls to the landlord had yielded little change. Talking to tenants in the block, the repeated claim was that they would say ‘we will get back to you’ and never did. Similar stories are found all over north Kensington, people reluctant to complain in case they are branded troublemakers, echoing the story of Chloe Williams, who faced eviction from her one bedroom council flat in Kensington after complaining about rats, mice, cockroaches and bedbugs in her home.

All this is happening in one of the wealthiest boroughs of the country. Many feel our drastically reduced social housing stock has become in the words of one resident a ‘dumping ground of the most vulnerable in our society’. It comes so low down on our list of priorities, that the people who live in it, including many of the most vulnerable, feel abandoned. If a society can be judged on how it treats it poorest and most defenceless people, we are not doing well. The people we met repeatedly feel fobbed off, uncared for, and that the very people who are responsible for their housing don’t seem to care enough to pick up the phone or arrange repairs.

Which brings us back to Grenfell United. The kinds of change GU have been campaigning for – stronger regulation and a change of culture around health & safety standards (including the removal of unsafe cladding) and a proper tenant voice – should not be hard to establish. The financial crash led to tighter regulation of financial institutions so that if a bank mis-sells there are clear penalties. If a school is not run properly there is an inspection system to label it as ‘needs improvement’. Yet tenants with landlords who fail to maintain their property, rendering it unsafe, have no effective remedy, other than repeated attempts to get landlords to listen. And that didn’t stop Grenfell happening.

Two years on since Grenfell, nothing much has changed….

Read it all.

Posted in Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Police/Fire, Urban/City Life and Issues

(Guardian) Churches in nightclubs and Anglican gyms: can the C of E win back city dwellers?

The Renewal and Reform programme has attracted controversy, in part because it has begun to spend the church’s huge investment fund – not just the return it generates – in order to establish new evangelical churches, often in the heart of cities. More than 100 new churches were announced last year in coastal areas, market towns and urban housing estates – a serious attempt to expand Anglicanism, while about 25 churches are closed each year.

Some, like St Peter’s in Brighton, have modernised the music, decor and ethos of old churches. Others have occupied secular buildings. For a time, the Harbour church in Portsmouth could be found in an old department store. In Swindon, plans are under way to turn a former Great Western Railway building into a large new place of worship. The Fountains in Bradford will soon take over an old nightclub complex, once home to less godly venues called Revolution, Tequila and Vibe. Gas Street is technically “St Luke’s”, but churchy names are falling out of fashion too.

The plan is to attract young people, in part by going to the city centres, where young people can be found. The next round of grants from the church’s Strategic Development Fund, part of the Renewal and Reform programme, will be explicitly devoted to projects that “are targeted on promoting church growth within the largest urban areas; and one or both of younger generations and poorer communities”. In effect, though everyone insists that the church has not forgotten the countryside, it means a focus for the future on the UK’s 75 largest cities and towns.

There are about 150 students at Gas Street on the night I visit. Worship starts at 8pm, before which they socialise over plates of paella from a giant pan. It is early in the term and some of them may be taking their first steps into the church, so the organisers asked me not to talk to people at random. Instead I am introduced to several regulars, including Crystal, who is certainly a fine example of how they can help some young people in need. Right now the church’s own needs are nearly as great, however. If they do not ignite an Anglican revival among young people in the next couple of decades, then these new city-centre ventures will be the last stand of the Church of England.

Read it all.

Posted in Church of England (CoE), England / UK, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Urban/City Life and Issues

(Chicago Tribune) Nearly 6,000 Chicagoans to get letters this holiday season saying their unpaid medical debt is forgiven. Learn about the group behind the gifts

For Chicagoans struggling to make ends meet, the daily act of checking the mail can be anxiety-inducing. Aside from birthday cards and holiday letters, there isn’t often much good news, but there never seems to be any shortage of bills or debt collection attempts.

Soon, when bright yellow envelopes appear in thousands of mailboxes around Cook County with the words “RIP Medical Debt” on each one, recipients might assume it’s yet another bill. In reality, those envelopes contain the opposite, a potentially life-changing gift.

A network of area churches this summer banded together to take on the debt collection system that profits “on the backs of poor people”; to help restore bad credit marred by medical debt; and to inspire joy, said the organizers, the Rev. Otis Moss III and the Rev. Traci Blackmon. As a result, Moss said they’ve wiped out more than $5.3 million in medical debt, and they soon plan to send letters to nearly 6,000 Cook County residents with a no-strings-attached message: “May you have a beautiful, wonderful holiday. Your debt has been forgiven. Enjoy Thanksgiving.”

Read it all.

Posted in Health & Medicine, Parish Ministry, Personal Finance & Investing, Religion & Culture, Stewardship, Urban/City Life and Issues

(Bloomberg) Overrun by Tourists, American Cities such as Charleston, South Carolina, Are Taking Aim at Hotels

Developers feel unjustly singled out. Jim Brady is trying to develop a 135-room hotel in Portland, Maine, where city leaders recently required new hotels to pay into an affordable housing fund, arguing that hospitality workers are being priced out. “I recognize that you need to earn a livable wage, and there are sectors that pay lower incomes, and hotels are some of those, but so are food and beverage facilities and retailers,” he says. “It just seemed unfair to say hotels were the cause of the affordable housing crisis.”

In Charleston, a decades-long effort to nurture tourism without spoiling the city’s 350-year-old heritage reached a boiling point recently. Former Mayor Joseph Riley presided over the “Holy City” for 40 years until 2016, and since then the city’s politics have been rife with infighting, locals say. Mayor John Tecklenburg campaigned on a pledge to temporarily halt new hotel construction as a candidate in 2015 and continued the fight upon taking office. Members of the City Council viewed that as alarmist and pushed for less severe restrictions. Councilman Mike Seekings, who’s hoping to unseat Tecklenburg in November’s election, published an op-ed in Charleston’s Post newspaper citing a fundraising email Tecklenburg once sent to supporters that included the line: “Every property that has the possibility of becoming a hotel will become a hotel unless we act.”

Read it all.

Posted in * South Carolina, Economy, Urban/City Life and Issues

(CJ) Are Cities Going to the Dogs?

Brooklyn’s Prospect Park is dog heaven. On sunny Saturday mornings, the park’s open green space, Long Meadow, fills with hundreds of canines frolicking during off-leash hours. The dogs’ owners hover nearby like watchful parents who, when playtime ends, head over to the nearby farmers’ market or go out for brunch. Later in the day, they might make time for doggie yoga or the pet bakery before coming home to their pet-friendly apartment buildings, many featuring dog baths and groomers.

Roughly 600,000 dogs live in New York City, along with half a million cats. About half of U.S. households own a pet, which adds up to at least 77 million dogs and 54 million cats. Generationally, millennials are the most enthusiastic pet owners, with some 70 percent boasting of having at least one pet.

What you’re less likely to see, especially in America’s largest cities, are children. Pets are now more common than kids in many U.S. cities. San Francisco, for example, is home to nearly 150,000 dogs but just 115,000 children under age 18. Farther north, Seattle has more households with cats than with kids. Nationwide, pets outnumber children in apartment buildings. In New York neighborhoods like Long Island City and Williamsburg, wealthy singles have the highest number of pooches per capita.

In a recent Atlantic essay, Derek Thompson wrote about how “America’s urban rebirth is missing a key element: births.” Manhattan’s infant population is projected to halve in 30 years. High-density cities are losing families with children over age six, while growing their populations of college-educated residents without children. Indeed, the share of children under 20 living in big cities has been falling for 40 years.

Young professionals’ four-legged friends have replaced those babies.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Children, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Personal Finance & Investing, Theology, Urban/City Life and Issues, Young Adults

Kendall Harmon for 9/11: Number 343

On Monday this week, the last of the 343 firefighters who died on September 11th was buried. Because no remains of Michael Ragusa, age 29, of Engine Company 279, were found and identified, his family placed in his coffin a very small vial of his blood, donated years ago to a bone-marrow clinic. At the funeral service Michael’s mother Dee read an excerpt from her son’s diary on the occasion of the death of a colleague. “It is always sad and tragic when a fellow firefighter dies,” Michael Ragusa wrote, “especially when he is young and had everything to live for.” Indeed. And what a sobering reminder of how many died and the awful circumstances in which they perished that it took until this week to bury the last one.

So here is to the clergy, the ministers, rabbis, imams and others, who have done all these burials and sought to help all these grieving families. And here is to the families who lost loved ones and had to cope with burials in which sometimes they didn’t even have remains of the one who died. And here, too, is to the remarkable ministry of the Emerald Society Pipes and Drums, who played every single service for all 343 firefighters who lost their lives. The Society chose not to end any service at which they played with an up-tempo march until the last firefighter was buried.

On Monday, in Bergen Beach, Brooklyn, the Society therefore played “Garry Owen” and “Atholl Highlander,” for the first time since 9/11 as the last firefighter killed on that day was laid in the earth. On the two year anniversary here is to New York, wounded and more sober, but ever hopeful and still marching.

–First published on this blog September 11, 2003

Posted in America/U.S.A., Death / Burial / Funerals, History, Music, Police/Fire, Terrorism, Urban/City Life and Issues

The Legacy Website for September 11, 2001

This site is intended as a place to remember and celebrate the lives of those lost on September 11, 2001. It includes Guest Books and profiles for each of those lost.

It is well worth your time to explore it thoroughly today.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Death / Burial / Funerals, History, Terrorism, Urban/City Life and Issues

(USA Today) Co-living spaces: How millennials, Gen Z create affordable rent situations in big cities

After years of living alone and a six-month-long apartment hunt in New York City, 27-year-old Jade X found what she called the “holy grail” of living situations – roommates.

For two years, the hotel manager had been renting a $1,200-a-month one-bedroom apartment in a residential section of the Bronx, where she says she didn’t have any friends, felt little sense of community and “there was literally nothing to do.”

“I didn’t feel safe, and it really didn’t fit my vibe,” the free-spirited fashion design enthusiast said. “I liked the price of the apartment, but then again, you get what you pay for.”

After a friend recommended that she look into one of the metro area’s many communal living companies, Jade, who legally changed her last name to X, did some digging and quickly applied. Two weeks later, she moved into her new shared apartment in Bushwick, Brooklyn, that is operated by Venn, a network of shared homes and spaces in the neighborhood.

“Everyone who moves around New York City has their horror stories; but for the first time in my life, this was not one of them,” Jade said about moving into the two-story duplex. “After everything I’ve been through in New York, it was worth finding this in the end.”

Read it all.

Posted in Economy, Housing/Real Estate Market, Personal Finance, Urban/City Life and Issues, Young Adults

(Atlantic) Derek Thompson–The Future of the City Is Childless–America’s urban rebirth is missing something key—actual births

Cities were once a place for families of all classes. The “basic custom” of the American city, wrote the urbanist Sam Bass Warner, was a “commitment to familialism.” Today’s cities, however, are decidedly not for children, or for families who want children. As the sociologists Richard Lloyd and Terry Nichols Clark put it, they are “entertainment machines” for the young, rich, and mostly childless. And this development has crucial implications—not only for the future of American cities, but also for the future of the U.S. economy and American politics.

The counties that make up Los Angeles, Chicago, New York City, and Philadelphia shed a combined 2 million domestic residents from 2010 to 2018. For many years, these cities’ main source of population growth hasn’t been babies or even college graduates; it’s been immigrants. But like an archipelago of Ellis Islands, Manhattan and other wealthy downtown areas have become mere gateways into America and the labor force—“a temporary portal,” in the words of E. J. McMahon, the founder of the Empire Center for Public Policy. “The woman from Slovakia comes to Queens, lives in her second cousin’s basement, gets her feet on the ground, and gets a better apartment in West Orange, New Jersey,” he said. Or a 20-something from North Dakota moves to Chicago after school, works at a consultancy for a few years, finds a partner, and moves to Missoula.

But if big cities are shedding people, they’re growing in other ways—specifically, in wealth and workism. The richest 25 metro areas now account for more than half of the U.S. economy, according to an Axios analysis of government data. Rich cities particularly specialize in the new tech economy: Just five counties account for about half of the nation’s internet and web-portal jobs. Toiling to build this metropolitan wealth are young college graduates, many of them childless or without school-age children; that is, workers who are sufficiently unattached to family life that they can pour their lives into their careers.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, America/U.S.A., Children, Marriage & Family, Urban/City Life and Issues

(Tablet) As the leading targets of hate crimes, Jews are routinely being attacked in the streets of New York City. So why is no one acting like it’s a big deal?

The incidents now pass without much notice, a steady, familiar drumbeat of violence and hate targeting visibly Jewish people in New York City.

Early on the morning of June 15, a Saturday, two men in a white Infiniti drove around Borough Park, a vast, traditional Orthodox Jewish neighborhood in central Brooklyn. Surveillance footage posted on the local website BoroPark24 showed a man jumping out of the car’s passenger side as someone in a shtreimel and long black jacket walked down the sidewalk in their direction. As the car idled, the passenger approached the Jewish stranger, lunged at him in a linebacker-like stutter-step, and then darted to the waiting vehicle, which promptly sped away. Levi Yitzhak Leifer, head of the Borough Park Shmira neighborhood patrol, said there were at least six and as many as nine reported incidents that night involving the same vehicle. Beresch Freilich, a rabbi who serves as a community liaison with the NYPD in Borough Park, said that some of the targeted individuals sensed a violent intent: “The car passed by going back and forth, and they felt it was trying to run them over.”

On a Saturday night in mid-January, Steven, a student and member of the Chabad Hasidic movement in his late teens, was returning to his apartment on Empire Avenue after a trip to the gym. (Nearly all victims interviewed for this piece asked to be identified by first name only, due to their involvement in ongoing legal cases). Steven saw what he described as a “rowdy group” of between six and eight “older teens” gathered on the sidewalk on a poorly lit stretch between Schenectady and Troy avenues. One of the teens sucker punched Steven in the back of the head as he walked past. “At first I honestly thought a car ran into me—it was such a blow.” Steven was then struck in his right cheek and fell to the sidewalk. He realized he was outnumbered but some irrational part of him couldn’t accept the insult.

“I charged towards them like in a frenzy, with blood on my hands and my face, and I started trying to give him a thing or two,” he remembered of his run toward his main attacker. They exchanged a few blows before the entire group fled. The teens made no attempt to rob Steven, and there was no clear motive for the assault. In retrospect, given the force of the first strike against a vulnerable spot on his head, Steven thinks the attack could have gone much worse for him. “I was very, very lucky,” he said.

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Judaism, Religion & Culture, Urban/City Life and Issues, Violence

(NYT) Pastor’s Exit Exposes Cultural Rifts at a Leading liberal Parish–NYC’s Riverside Church

Dr. Butler’s supporters said she lost her job because she had spoken out about sexual harassment and she had complained in particular about an incident in which a former member of the church’s governing council left a bottle of wine and a T-shirt on her desk, both with labels that read “Sweet Bitch.”

They said she had pursued better treatment for women and minorities, with the aim of fixing a difficult environment that had led some church employees to complain and even quit. Her persistence strained an increasingly fractured relationship between her and the church’s lay leaders, her supporters said.

“There is absolutely no doubt that sexism played a role,” said the Rev. Kevin Wright, who had been recruited by Dr. Butler in 2015 and served as executive minister for programs before leaving last year. “I don’t understand how anyone could think anything different.”

But her opponents said her dismissal was being misconstrued, and pointed to the governing council’s significant misgivings about changes she made to the church staff and programming and spending priorities. Her philosophy and leadership style, they said, collided with a church whose culture remained deeply traditional, despite its politics.

They cited an episode that occurred in May as the final straw.

Dr. Butler was traveling to a conference in Minneapolis with two church employees and a congregant when she brought them to a sex shop during a break, according to two people affiliated with the church.

Read it all and please note there are three stories about this in the New York Post who first broke the story.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Ethics / Moral Theology, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Stewardship, Theology, Urban/City Life and Issues

(WSJ) American Suburbs Swell Again as a New Generation Escapes the City

APEX, N.C.—This Raleigh, N.C., suburb was declared the best place to live in America by a national magazine in 2015, around the time Lindsay and Terry Mahaffey were drawn by its schools, affordable housing and quaint downtown.

The couple found a sprawling five-bedroom house next to a horse farm for $782,000, half the cost they would have paid in the Seattle suburb they left behind.

Many other families had the same idea. Apex, nicknamed the Millennial Mayberry, is the fastest-growing suburb in the U.S., according to Realtor.com, and the town is struggling to keep pace with all the newcomers.

When Mr. and Mrs. Mahaffey took their eldest daughter for the first day of kindergarten, school officials told them they didn’t have a seat. Too many kids, they said. On weekends, the family thinks twice about going downtown—not enough parking. And the horse farm next door was sold for a subdivision.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Housing/Real Estate Market, Theology, Urban/City Life and Issues, Young Adults

(NYT) With More Storms and Rising Seas, Which U.S. Cities Should Be Saved First?

As disaster costs keep rising nationwide, a troubling new debate has become urgent: If there’s not enough money to protect every coastal community from the effects of human-caused global warming, how should we decide which ones to save first?

After three years of brutal flooding and hurricanes in the United States, there is growing consensus among policymakers and scientists that coastal areas will require significant spending to ride out future storms and rising sea levels — not in decades, but now and in the very near future. There is also a growing realization that some communities, even sizable ones, will be left behind.

New research offers one way to look at the enormity of the cost as policymakers consider how to choose winners and losers in the race to adapt to climate change. By 2040, simply providing basic storm-surge protection in the form of sea walls for all coastal cities with more than 25,000 residents will require at least $42 billion, according to new estimates from the Center for Climate Integrity, an environmental advocacy group. Expanding the list to include communities smaller than 25,000 people would increase that cost to more than $400 billion.

“Once you get into it, you realize we’re just not going to protect a lot of these places,” said Richard Wiles, executive director of the group, which wants oil and gas companies to pay some of the cost of climate adaptation. “This is the next wave of climate denial — denying the costs that we’re all facing.”

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Posted in City Government, Ecology, Energy, Natural Resources, Ethics / Moral Theology, Urban/City Life and Issues

(Wired) In a first, San Francisco just banned public agencies, including police, from using facial recognition technology

At the state level, efforts to regulate facial recognition in Washington crumbled after Microsoft and Amazon, among others, opposed a proposed moratorium in favor of a bill with a lighter regulatory touch. In Massachusetts, which is considering an ACLU-backed moratorium on facial recognition until the state can develop regulations including things like minimum accuracy and bias protections, local police departments frequently partner with the state’s Registry of Motor Vehicles to identify suspects.

Kade Crockford of the ACLU of Massachusetts, which is working with Somerville officials on a proposal that would forbid such data-sharing, is optimistic about the potential for cities to lead the way. “I’m not aware of any other example of people really successfully intervening in this very fast-moving train of tech determinism and throwing a democratic wrench in the gears,” Crockford says.

San Francisco’s ban comes amidst a series of proposals that highlight tensions between the city and tech companies that call it home. On Tuesday, the city also unanimously approved a ban on cashless stores, an effort aimed at Amazon’s cashierless Go stores. Waiting in the wings? A so-called “IPO tax,” in response to the endless march of tech companies going public, which would authorize a city-wide vote to raise the tax rate on corporate stock-based compensation.

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Posted in City Government, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Politics in General, Science & Technology, Urban/City Life and Issues

Highways England give £3.9m grant to make Hull Minster a hub for city’s history, heritage and community

A £3.9m grant to complete the transformation of Hull Minster into a hub for the city’s history, heritage and community has been announced today following funding from Highways England.

The investment comes from a dedicated fund which is designed to protect historic features in areas near to major roads, helping them to be harmonious with their surroundings. The Highways England Environment Designated Fund will safeguard the Minster’s heritage for future generations and create a sustainable future for the church as a magnificent place of worship, focal point for the community and magnet for visitors.

With work set to start this Spring, the majestic Minster can now be restored, renovated and extended to fulfil its rich potential. The grant is linked to the proposed A63 Castle Street scheme, which passes just 100 metres from the church. This major project is designed to improve access between the Port of Hull and the national road network via the city centre.

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Posted in Archbishop of York John Sentamu, Church of England (CoE), Parish Ministry, Urban/City Life and Issues

([London] Times) Man arrested after gun incident at St Paul’s Cathedral

A suspected gunman attempted to shoot security guards inside St Paul’s Cathedral before being arrested by firearms police as he fled.

The suspect, who has not been identified, is said to have also levelled the weapon at staff and pulled the trigger but no bullets were fired, the BBC reported.

He was spotted by security staff inside the cathedral’s crypt, which has a café and is generally busy with tourists. Elsewhere in the crypt lie the tombs of Lord Nelson, the Duke of Wellington and Sir Christopher Wren, the architect who designed the rebuilt cathedral after the original structure was all but destroyed in the Great Fire.

He fled towards an exit but was intercepted by firearms officers from City of London Police.

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Posted in Church of England (CoE), England / UK, Parish Ministry, Police/Fire, Religion & Culture, Urban/City Life and Issues, Violence

(BBC) Manchester Arena attack memorial site revealed

A permanent memorial to the 22 victims of the Manchester Arena bombing will be located close to the scene of the attack, the council has confirmed.

A site between Hunt’s Bank and Deansgate, near the city’s cathedral, has been “earmarked” after consultation with families, a spokesman said.

Prof Malcom Press of the Manchester Memorial Advisory Group said choosing a location was a “significant step”.

He added that the design had not been decided upon and would “not be rushed”.

The location was announced as plans for a “more intimate” commemoration of the second anniversary of the 22 May 2017 attack were revealed.

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Posted in Church of England (CoE), England / UK, History, Parish Ministry, Terrorism, Urban/City Life and Issues, Violence

St Mary Aldermary–The Gorgeous London Church That’s Also A Coffee Shop

Posted in Church of England (CoE), Parish Ministry, Urban/City Life and Issues

(DN) Amsterdam’s mayor: ‘prostitutes should not be a tourist attraction’

Amsterdam’s mayor Femke Halsema has called for changes to the city’s red light district, arguing that turning prostitution into a tourist attraction is ‘humiliating’ and ‘unacceptable’. The mayor, who took office last June, told Het Parool she wanted to consider all options for reforming the area, including the status quo, but gave a clear signal that the current situation was untenable. ‘The circumstances in which women have to do their work have worsened. So I can understand why a lot of Amsterdammers think: this is not the way we want prostitution to be or how it was supposed to be,’ she said. There has been growing concern that the number of tourists flocking to the red light district has made it more difficult for prostitutes to work in the area and compromised their safety. Unlicensed prostitution remains a problem in the city and has been linked to human trafficking.

Read more at DutchNews.nl:

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Posted in City Government, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Politics in General, Sexuality, The Netherlands, Urban/City Life and Issues

(Medium) Tim Keller–How Do We Reach a Global Generation?

On a related note, we at Redeemer City to City aren’t in the business of exporting Hollywood and Western values. Far from it. One of the things the global church has suffered from is America’s role as an amazing economic engine. When Christians in America have a new idea, they churn out books and videos. They send people all around the world to sell their product. If they have an evangelistic method that works in Florida, they think they should give it to everybody. The trouble is, when Americans export their way of doing evangelism to other parts of the world where people are more secular or non-Western, it just doesn’t work.

Even though Americans have produced so much material for the Christian world, America is out of step. It may be ahead of the rest of the world when it comes to packaging and marketing and publishing, but it’s behind the rest of the world when it comes to understanding the cultural moment.

On a positive note, our kids are already connected across cultures. Young people are talking to each other all across the world. This is the sort of communication that church leaders need to reach the next generation — a collaboration across cultural, national, and denominational lines. And when we meet together, like the cultures of the world already are, then we can begin to meet the most important challenges of our day.

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Posted in Evangelism and Church Growth, Globalization, Parish Ministry, Urban/City Life and Issues

(NY Times Magazine) How American Cities Make Money by Fining the Poor

[Jamie] Tillman told me that she thought she had no choice but to plead guilty — it was unlikely, she believed, that the judge would take her word over that of the arresting officers. “I admit, your honor,” she said. “I just want to get me out of here as soon as possible.” Under Mississippi state law, public intoxication is punishable by a $100 fine or up to 30 days in jail. Ross opted for the maximum fine. Tillman began to cry.

The Federal Reserve Board has estimated that 40 percent of Americans don’t have enough money in their bank accounts to cover an emergency expense of $400. Tillman didn’t even have $10. She couldn’t call her family for help. She was estranged from her father and from her mother, who had custody of Tillman’s two young daughters from a previous relationship.

“I can’t — ” Tillman stammered to Ross. “I can’t — ”

Ross explained the system in his court: For every day a defendant stayed in the Alcorn County jail, $25 was knocked off his or her fine. Tillman had been locked up for five days as she awaited her hearing, meaning she had accumulated a credit of $125 toward the overall fine of $255. (The extra $155 was a processing fee.) Her balance on the fine was now $130. Was Tillman able to produce that or call someone who could?

“I can’t,” Tillman responded, so softly that the court recorder entered her response as “inaudible.” She tried to summon something more coherent, but it was too late: The bailiff was tugging at her sleeve. She would be returned to the jail until Oct. 14, she was informed, at which point Ross would consider the fine paid and the matter settled.

That night, Tillman says, she conducted an informal poll of the 20 or so women in her pod at the Alcorn County jail. A majority, she says, were incarcerated for the same reason she was: an inability to pay a fine. Some had been languishing in jail for weeks. The inmates even had a phrase for it: “sitting it out.” Tillman’s face crumpled. “I thought, Because we’re poor, because we’re of a lower class, we aren’t allowed real freedom,” she recalled. “And it was the worst feeling in the world.”

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, America/U.S.A., Anthropology, City Government, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Pastoral Theology, Personal Finance & Investing, Politics in General, Poverty, Theology, Urban/City Life and Issues

([London] Times) Millennials shun modern liturgy for ‘bells and smells’

Almost everything about services at St Bartholomew the Great church is old-fashioned. Purple-robed choristers process through clouds of pungent incense. The priest, the Rev Marcus Walker, brandishes an ornate golden King James Bible above his head before reading from the 1611 text. The liturgy is a mixture of 16th-century prose and sung Latin. The medieval priory church, which sits a stone’s throw from the central London hospital of the same name, was founded in 1123.

However, the congregation watching on at a recent service were younger than most would expect; at least a quarter were under 35. They had come to observe a handful of men and women, mostly in their late twenties, be baptised into the Anglican faith. Afterwards the millennials gathered inside the stone cloisters to explain why the archaic drama of traditional worship still appealed.

Several said they relished the connection to past generations of believers through reciting the Book of Common Prayer, which English Christians have been using since 1549. Others valued the beauty and history of the choral music and Shakespearean liturgy. They were not simply “young fogeys”, they insisted. Three of the group had separately found their way to St Bartholomew’s after becoming friendly with Walker on Twitter.

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Posted in Church of England (CoE), England / UK, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Urban/City Life and Issues, Young Adults