All posts by Tom Jones

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Is the Darling of the Left, Nightmare of the Right

(Bloomberg Businessweek) — Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez might not have seen eye to eye with Joseph Overton, the late free-market advocate. But she has a firm grasp of the concept for which he is best known: the Overton Window. The term refers to the range of ideas that are at any given time considered worthy of public discussion. Thanks largely to her, the Overton Window on tax rates has just been moved significantly to the left.

Ocasio-Cortez, the mediagenic 29-year-old from the Bronx, N.Y., is the youngest woman ever elected to the House of Representatives. In an appearance on 60 Minutes with Anderson Cooper that aired on Jan. 6, she was talking up the Green New Deal, a plan to move the U.S. to 100 percent renewable energy by 2035. Cooper challenged her by saying the program would require raising taxes. “There’s an element, yeah, where people are going to have to start paying their fair share,” she replied. Asked for specifics, she said, “Once you get to the tippy tops, on your 10 millionth dollar, sometimes you see tax rates as high as 60 or 70 percent.”

Seventy percent! For perspective, the top rate under the tax law that passed in December 2017 is 37 percent. And now, suddenly, a number so extreme that no one in polite society dared utter it became a focal point of debate. Ocasio-Cortez’s fans—she has 2.4 million followers on Twitter alone—loved it. Some pundits dug up economic research defending rates in the 70 percent range. Others pointed out that Ocasio-Cortez was actually lowballing the historical comparison: Top rates were 90 percent or higher as recently as the 1960s. Defenders of low tax rates heaped abuse on her, which backfired on them by inflaming her supporters.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Is the Darling of the Left, Nightmare of the Right
What Ocasio-Cortez understands is that getting an idea talked about, even unfavorably, is a necessary, if insufficient, step on the path to adoption. (President Trump also gets this.) “It’s the easiest thing to say, ‘No, we can’t change anything,’ ” says Eric Foner, a Pulitzer Prize-winning historian who recently retired from Columbia University. “Most of the big ideas in American history started among radical groups who were told, ‘No, you’re never going to be able to achieve that.’ ” Foner sees parallels between the strategies of today’s left-leaning Democrats and the radical Republicans who fought slavery before the Civil War, “which was put out an agenda, be aware that you can’t just accomplish it all at once, obviously, but change the political discourse by pushing your agenda and then work with those who are willing to do some of it.”

Ocasio-Cortez was actually less radical than she could have been on 60 Minutes. She passed up the opportunity to move the Overton Window on another of her pet issues: budget deficits. She adheres to a doctrine called Modern Monetary Theory that’s catching on among young, left-leaning politicians and older policymakers alike. Its counterintuitive core idea is that deficits don’t matter if you borrow in your own currency, just as long as they don’t cause inflation. Unless the economy is at risk of overheating, MMTers say, paying for a new government program doesn’t require cutting another or raising taxes.

Ocasio-Cortez could have said, “No, Anderson, we wouldn’t need to raise taxes to pay for the Green New Deal. But I want to raise taxes anyway, because I believe in redistributing money from the rich to the poor.” That really would have lit up the internet. Randall Wray, an MMT theorist who’s a senior scholar at the Levy Economics Institute of Bard College, wrote in an email that he was “a bit disappointed” that Ocasio-Cortez connected tax hikes to the Green New Deal. Stephanie Kelton, another MMT theorist and Bernie Sanders’s economic adviser during his race for the Democratic nomination in 2016, says she thinks reducing inequality is the real reason Ocasio-Cortez favors higher rates on the rich: “It’s kind of a recognition that levels of income and wealth inequality parallel those of the 1920s.”

The richest people in the world live in this city (it’s not Hong Kong or London)

More millionaires call the Big Apple home than any other city in the world.

New York had the largest population of high-net-worth individuals, whose net worth in assets totals between $1 million and $30 million, according to a report released Wednesday by global wealth consultancy Wealth-X. Some 978,810 high-net-worth, or HNW, individuals reside in New York. That’s nearly double the HNW population of Tokyo (593,025 individuals), which came in at No. 2 on Wealth-X’s ranking.

New York has more high-net-worth individuals than any other city in the world, and it also has the largest population of ultrawealthy people. The latter group comprises those with assets exceeding $30 million.
Not only does New York have more HNW individuals than any other city in the world, but it also has the largest population of ultrawealthy people, defined as those who have assets worth more than $30 million. It regains this distinction after losing the title to Hong Kong in 2017. However, the tenuous relationship between the U.S. and China roiled the wealthy elite in Hong Kong, causing the HNW population there to drop by more than 11% last year.

Wealth-X’s findings were based on its proprietary database of HNW individuals, which includes information such as the individuals’ financial assets, career histories, family backgrounds and philanthropic endeavors, among other data points.

Read more: Some of the wealthiest people on the planet got a financial wake-up call in 2018

Overall, America had six of the top 10 HNW cities, per Wealth-X’s list. Dallas–Fort Worth, which has seen its wealth grow thanks in part to the strong energy sector, entered the list for the first time this year.

Here is how the full rankings shook out:

• New York (978,810 HNW individuals, down 0.6% from 2017)
• Tokyo (593,025 HNW individuals, down 3.3% from 2017)
• Los Angeles (576,255 HNW individuals, down 0.7% from 2017)
• Hong Kong (391,595 HNW individuals, down 11.1% from 2017)
• London (372,270 HNW individuals, up 2.7% from 2017)
• Chicago (353,775 HNW individuals, down 0.8% from 2017)
• Paris (345,175 HNW individuals, up 4.5% from 2017)
• San Francisco (314,055 HNW individuals, down 0.4% from 2017)
• Washington, D.C. (301,495 HNW individuals, down 1.3% from 2017)
• Dallas (298,220 HNW individuals, up 0.1% from 2017)

While the list of cities with the wealthiest populations may not appear diverse today, that could soon change. China boasts 32 of 40 fastest-growing HNW cities in the world currently, according to Wealth-X. “There is still no representation in the top 10 from China, whose largest city for UHNW and HNW is Shanghai, with 123,000 HNW individuals,” the report noted. “But this belies the meteoric growth.”

Nigeria has the fastest-growing high-net-worth population in the world, with the number of residents there worth $1 million to $30 million expected to increase 16.3% by 2023.
Moreover, the concentration of extremely wealthy individuals in certain cities could be simply a reflection of different cultural approaches to wealth. “London and Paris are the European representatives in the top 10, with nucleated concentrations of HNW in their capital cities, in contrast to a more distributed pattern of wealth, for example, in German cities,” the report’s authors wrote.

Indeed, while the U.S. does have the world’s largest HNW population, China ranks second, followed by a wide assortment of countries including Japan, Germany, South Korea and Australia. And Nigeria has the fastest-growing high-net-worth population in the world, with the number of residents there worth $1 million to $30 million expected to increase 16.3% by 2023.

FEDS THWART DC TERROR THREAT

ATLANTA (AP) — A Georgia man who had detailed plans to use an anti-tank rocket to storm into the White House was arrested in a sting Wednesday after he traded his car for guns and explosives, authorities said.

Hasher Jallal Taheb, 21, of Cumming was arrested Wednesday and is charged with attempting to damage or destroy a building owned by the United States using fire or an explosive, U.S. Attorney Byung J. “BJay” Pak said.

It wasn’t immediately clear whether Taheb had an attorney who could comment on the allegations.

A local law enforcement agency contacted the FBI in March after getting a tip from someone who said Taheb had become radicalized, changed his name and planned to travel abroad, according to an FBI agent’s affidavit filed in court.

The affidavit says Taheb told a confidential FBI source in October that he planned to travel abroad for “hijra,” which the agent wrote refers to traveling to territory controlled by the Islamic State. Because he didn’t have a passport, he couldn’t travel abroad and told the FBI source that he wanted to carry out an attack in the U.S. against the White House and the Statue of Liberty.

He met with the undercover agent and the FBI source multiple times last month and was also in frequent contact using an encrypted messaging application, the affidavit says.

During one meeting with the agent and the source, Taheb “advised that if they were to go to another country, they would be one of many, but if they stayed in the United States, they could do more damage,” the affidavit says. Taheb “explained that jihad was an obligation, that he wanted to do as much damage as possible, and that he expected to be a ‘martyr,’ meaning he expected to die during the attack.”

At another meeting, he showed the undercover agent a hand-drawn diagram of the ground floor of the West Wing of the White House and detailed a plan for attack, the affidavit says. He asked the undercover agent to obtain the weapons and explosives needed to carry out the attack, and they discussed selling or exchanging their cars to pay for them.

Taheb told the undercover agent they needed a “base” where they could regroup and where he could record a video to motivate people: “He stated he would be the narrator, clips of oppressed Muslims would be shown, and American and Israeli flags would be burned in the background.”

Last week, Taheb told the undercover agent he wanted to pick up weapons this week and drive directly to Washington to carry out the attack, investigators said.

Taheb said they would approach the White House from the back road, causing a distraction for police and then would proceed into the White House, using an anti-tank weapon to blow open a door and then take down as many people and do as much damage as possible, the affidavit says.

Taheb told the undercover agent he had never shot a gun but could learn easily and also said he had watched some videos of how grenades explode, authorities said.

Taheb met with the FBI source and undercover agent on Wednesday in a parking lot in Buford to exchange their cars for semi-automatic assault rifles, three explosive devices with remote detonators and an anti-tank rocket, the affidavit says.

A second FBI source met them and inspected the vehicles, and a second FBI undercover agent arrived in a tractor trailer with weapons and explosives that had been rendered inert by the FBI. The undercover agent and Taheb talked about the guns, how to arm and detonate the explosives and how to use the anti-tank rocket, the affidavit says.

Taheb and the undercover agent and FBI source whom he believed to be part of his group turned over their car keys to the second confidential source and then loaded the inert explosives and guns into a rental vehicle, the affidavit says. Then, after they got into the car and closed the doors, agents arrested Taheb.

Copyright 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Tags: Washington, D.C., Georgia

Teen suffers life-changing injury trying to imitate porn

In a tragic case illustrating the sinister effects of online porn, a 16-year-old girl’s bowel was so badly injured during group anal sex that she needs to use a colostomy bag for the rest of her life.

The teen reportedly suffered the life-changing injury while copying scenes seen in violent porn, according to an Australian Broadcasting Company News investigation.

But, sadly, Australia’s national broadcaster was told that the girl’s horrific experience was just one in a string of serious injuries to result from porn-addicted Australians trying to imitate aggressive sex they’ve watched online.

Australia GP and former Royal Australian College of General Practitioners president Dr. Bastian Seidel told the ABC he has seen first-hand how copying behavior seen on porn videos can go dangerously wrong.

“We have seen anal fissures more and more. I’ve seen that more in women, so that’s caused by men having anal sex with women,” he said.

The ABC’s hard-hitting investigation also revealed the horrendous experience of a woman, “Sarah,” whose former boyfriend forced her into having anal sex.

The 41-year-old was left with nerve damage to her bowel and can no longer cope with hugging her mom because she was so traumatized by the rape.

“In pornography, it’s not how it is in real life. It’s just not how it is. It looks like they enjoy it, but it really hurts,” she said.

Copycat abuse

Experts and teachers have all agreed that porn-addicted men are making their girlfriends suffer in an attempt to copy what they see online.

Cyber safety expert Susan McLean, who advises the Australian government and speaks at schools, was among several experts revealing how high school girls were being seriously injured when their boyfriends try to imitate what they’ve watched in porn.

She said their copycat behavior involved using objects and tended to be “quite violent.”

The girls “often feel very powerless to say ‘no,’” McLean added.

The ABC said Australia ranks ninth for visitors to websites such as PornHub behind India, the UK and the US — but also boasts one of the longer average viewing times.

Porn education organization Reality And Risk told the broadcaster its research showed that close to 90 percent of the most popular porn viewed includes physical aggression.

This issue has also been delved into by Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology senior lecturer Meagan Tyler, who said overseas pornographers, particularly in the US, have deliberately made their content more violent.

She said many producers would say the porn they put out is based on demand from their mainly male viewers.

As a result of boundaries being continually pushed, porn was showing “things like double and triple anal … and things like choking as well.”

The broadcaster spoke with Australian pornographer Garion Hall, who said that in America, porn falls under the country’s freedom of speech rules, so they can get away with “producing some pretty extreme stuff”.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Says She’s Going to ‘Run Train on the Progressive Agenda’

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez mocked her critics in a Washington Post interview, telling them to “enjoy being exhausted for the next two years while we run train on the progressive agenda.”

According to Urban Dictionary — not always a reliable source, but useful in this case — “run train” is colloquially defined as “to gangbang” someone with “several friends.”

Ocasio-Cortez’s pledge to gang bang the progressive agenda comes in the transcript of an extensive interview with the Post, in which she was asked about “conservative media” setting her up as “another boogeyman on the left.”

“I also think it’s encouraging because this is my sixth day in Congress and they’re out of all their artillery,” she said, referencing the fake photo of her feet in a bathtub that was covered — controversially — by the Daily Caller. “The nude is supposed to be like the bazooka. You know, like, ‘We’re going to take her down.’ Dude, you’re all out of bullets, you’re all out of bombs, you’re all out of all this stuff.”

“What have you got left?” she asked. “I’m six days into the term, and you already used all your ammo. So enjoy being exhausted for the next two years while we run train on the progressive agenda.”

It’s unclear whether Ocasio-Cortez — the freshman congresswoman and democratic socialist from New York — is aware that “run train” is a gang bang reference.

AOC also remarked on the intense scrutiny she receives, telling the Post it’s “physically exhausting.”

“The actual transition process is exhausting, but then the attention is enormous too,” she said.

Read the full interview here.

[H/t Jeff Blehar]

7 killed after shooting in Mexico’s resort city Playa del Carmen

Seven men have been killed in a shooting attack at a bar in Mexico’s Caribbean coast resort city of Playa del Carmen, authorities said Monday.

State and local police said the attack occurred late Sunday at the “Las Virginias” bar in a low-income section relatively far from the beachside tourist zone. Six men were found shot to death in the bar, and another died at a local hospital.

READ MORE: Ontario man claims he was attacked, robbed in Playa Del Carmen

One man was wounded but survived the attack. He told police he was drinking beer with friends when gunshots broke out. The attackers have not yet been identified.

Playa del Carmen is located on the coast facing the island of Cozumel, Mexico’s leading cruise ship destination. Once a quiet fishing and ferry town, Playa del Carmen has grown exponentially in the last two decades, with lower-income neighbourhoods springing up on the inland side of the coastal highway.

The resort is midway between Cancun, to the north, and Tulum, to the south, in the coastal state of Quintana Roo, which has seen homicides more than double in the last year, with 688 killings in the first 11 months of 2018, compared to 322 in the same period of 2017. At that rate, Quintana Roo could end 2018 with a homicide rate of about 50 per 100,000, on a par with El Salvador.

The Caribbean coast – especially Cancun and the area south known as the “Riviera Maya” – had long been largely spared the drug violence affecting other areas, but that no longer appears to be the case. Local sources report that the feared Jalisco cartel has moved into the region, disputing control with local gangs.

In September, two Mexican marines were found stabbed to death in Cancun. In a single day in August, police found eight bodies strewn on the streets of Cancun.

READ MORE: Killings continue but travel agents keep selling trips to Cancun

In January 2017, gunmen attacked the state prosecutors’ office in Cancun, killing four people. A day before that, a shooting at a music festival in Playa del Carmen left three foreigners and two Mexicans dead.

The U.S. Embassy in Mexico issued a brief travel warning for Playa del Carmen in March. A February 2018 blast on a ferry apparently caused by an explosive device injured 26 people, including several American citizens.

That has sparked fears that the Caribbean resorts could come to resemble the faded Pacific coast resort of Acapulco. The bloody violence in Acapulco that flared in 2006 eventually earned it a level-four “do not travel” warning from the U.S. Department of State.

Still, violence in Playa del Carmen is still far from Acapulco levels. In 2017, Acapulco had a homicide rate of 103 per 100,000 inhabitants, one of the highest in Mexico and the world.

WATCH: Canada issues travel advisory for Mexican tourist destination ahead of spring break

7 killed after shooting in Mexico’s resort city Playa del Carmen

LA’s Battle for Venice Beach: Homeless Surge Puts Hollywood’s Progressive Ideals to the Test

With swelling transient encampments abutting seven-figure homes, the beachside enclave has emerged as a flashpoint for the inequality shaping Los Angeles — and a real-world test case for the liberal ideology of the area’s showbiz residents.
After the first attack, Randy Osborn figured it was just his turn. Tire slashings in his east Venice Beach neighborhood had become commonplace. But when his vintage Land Rover was hit a sixth time in the course of a few months, Osborn, who runs a small virtual reality company and has lived in Venice for seven years, began to worry he was being singled out.

“It may have been random, but it sure felt targeted and concentrated,” says Osborn, who now protects his tires each night with a jury-rigged plywood-and-chain contraption that has so far deterred the assailants. Every time he takes his family out of town, he worries about his house being robbed. “It’s not a very fun way to live,” he says. A lot of residents within Osborn’s 15-block area just east of Lincoln Boulevard — where actor Viggo Mortensen owns a home and director Jon Favreau is opening a production office — have similar stories. And though they can’t say for sure, Osborn and others suspect the crime is tied to several homeless encampments that have sprung up nearby in the past 15 months.

Los Angeles is grappling with a homeless epidemic. “It’s the worst human catastrophe in America,” says Andy Bales, a pastor who runs the Union Rescue Mission on Skid Row. Faced with a growing crisis, city leaders last year budgeted more than $100 million for affordable housing, addiction treatment, job placement and mental health services. And yet, as L.A.’s real estate prices soar, so does the city’s homeless population. And nowhere have the twin forces of inaccessible housing and inequality created a more explosive mix than in Venice Beach, a hotbed of entertainment executives and talent where the median home price is $1.9 million. Many of these residents are now grappling with a quality-of-life issue that defies their own liberal ideals.

Sleepless in Seattle and Community producer Gary Foster, who moved to the area two years ago from Westwood and works with the homeless advocacy group The People Concern, says he was surprised by the number of residents who expressed exasperation with — if not outright disdain for — the transient population. “They tend to be liberal, they want to do good in the world, but they’re balancing their beliefs with how that might impact the value of their real estate,” says Foster, who began his activism after producing The Soloist, about a journalist who discovers a musical savant living on Skid Row.

“There are actually [residents] advocating driving the homeless out of Venice — shipping them off somewhere, which is such a proto-fascist move,” says television writer Evan Dunsky, a 27-year resident of the area. “And then what? Do we have to build a wall around Venice?”

Venice is now home to the largest concentration of homeless anywhere on L.A.’s Westside, with nearly 1,000 non-domiciled people. During the past 18 months, several encampments have swelled in more residential areas where homes can easily sell for eight figures and up. Tents, many of them equipped with mini refrigerators, cupboards, televisions and heaters, vie with pedestrian traffic.

Residents who live near the encampments say mail regularly goes missing. Break-ins have jumped. Hypodermic needles and human waste are appearing on sidewalks and at local playgrounds. Residents have complained to police about harassment and even physical assaults. “This is more of a criminal problem than a homeless problem,” says one resident, who lives next to the so-called Frederick camp adjacent to the Penmar Golf Course.

“There are crime problems in Venice,” concedes Mike Bonin, whose Council District 11 includes Venice Beach. Bonin has come under intense criticism for his handling of the homeless crisis by Venice residents displeased with his support of a measure to introduce a massive, $5 million transitional housing project in their city. At the same time, Bonin says, “I can’t accept the idea that there is an inextricable link between crime and homelessness. It is wrong, it is not backed up by the data, and it leads to bad policy.”

Disagreements over the potential causes of the crimes have begun to factionalize Venice’s neighborhoods. “It was six months of terror, absolute terror,” says radiologist Maria Altavilla, who lives in east Venice. She says that the period of increased health and safety concerns coincided with the expansion of the homeless encampments the past year. She recently arrived home with her two children to find a woman shooting up in her yard. Lately, her husband has expressed a desire to move because of his frustration with the encampments. Several residents shared an unconfirmed theory — suggested to them by a local patrolman — that certain assailants were using the social media app NextDoor to monitor which residents are most vocal about their opposition to encampments and then targeting those individuals for retribution.

As the problem worsens, homeowners are banding together to try to reclaim patches of sidewalk in an effort to deter future encampments. At the corner of Millwood Avenue and Lincoln, bulky wood planters now hog much of the sidewalk. Those planters emerged mysteriously two months ago outside a Staples office supply store that was once a popular resting spot for a handful of tent dwellers. The same pattern can be seen on another block, further south on Palms Boulevard, where similar metallic planters have recently appeared.

Others have put up unpermitted planters to eat up sidewalk space on Millwood Avenue
On Venice Boulevard in front of Vice Media’s offices, a chain-link fence was erected to prohibit tents from going up. Residents around Penmar Golf Course have started a GoFundMe page and have hit their goal of raising $80,000 to fill a pedestrian pathway with native plants and landscaping — a project being called the Frederick Avenue Pass-Through but whose real objective is to deter the large encampment that has ballooned there.

“Honestly, I think we are a step and half away from vigilantism,” says a talent manager who has lived in the area for two decades. “I feel like this is heading toward a Guardian Angels type situation that you saw in 1970s New York. Someone is going to go out there with a lead pipe and give someone a serious beatdown. It’s awful to say, but I don’t see what prevents that from happening.”

***

Life in Venice Beach has always come with its own distinct form of urban grittiness. Unlike its bougie neighbors to the north in Pacific Palisades and Malibu, Venice has embraced its counterculture past. It’s the land of head shops and street art that celebrates icons like Jim Morrison, Dennis Hopper and Jerry Garcia. And, to a degree, that grittiness added to the area’s allure, helping turn Venice into one of L.A.’s most desirable neighborhoods. Venice now counts as residents actress Emilia Clarke, screenwriter Mark Boal and Participant Media’s David Linde, among many others in the industry. The area also has become “Silicon Beach,” home to tech giants Snapchat and Google.

Dunsky has witnessed Venice’s transformation from a battleground for gangs to one that boasts several Michelin-starred restaurants. A self-proclaimed progressive, Dunsky says he fears that recent gentrification has altered people’s sympathies. “There is a fever of money in Venice that has nothing to do with its past. Whatever progressive elements were historically here have dwindled, and they’re being replaced by tech money.”

“It’s worse than it’s ever been,” says Tami Pardee, Venice’s top real estate broker, who moved to the area in 1993. “But sometimes it has to get like this for a real movement to start.” Compass’ Mark Kitching says that in the past year, four buyers he worked with opted out of purchasing after unpleasant encounters with homeless residents when touring the area. “The Palisades is looking way more attractive when you are thinking about schools and cleanliness,” he says.

The most common refrain heard when discussing the cause of L.A.’s homeless crisis is soaring housing costs. But there are other forces at play in Venice and throughout the city involving various laws and ballot measures that date back more than a decade. A 2006 ruling by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Jones v. City of Los Angeles required that law enforcement and city officials no longer enforce the ban on sleeping on sidewalks anywhere in the city until a sufficient amount of permanent supportive housing could be built. Further complicating matters were two state ballot measures that voters overwhelmingly approved in 2016 — Propositions 47 and 57 — which decriminalized certain felonies to misdemeanors in an effort to address the state’s overburdened prison system. Officials, including Bonin, admit that those measures have complicated matters for law enforcement, who make arrests only to see the same perpetrators back on the street days later.

The people living in the encampments say they have been unfairly maligned, even as they admit there is little policing when they do break the law. City rules dictate that tents be taken down between the hours of 6 a.m. and 9 p.m. But police rarely enforce the code, say several members of the Frederick homeless encampment. “We get away with a lot,” says Randy “Dee” Collins, 25, who adds his family has long owned property in Venice and that he has chosen a life on the street against their wishes. The Frederick camp, home to about a dozen tents and twice as many people, is littered with nine weeks’ worth of trash. These homeless people say neighbors are openly hostile to them. Collins says he offered one resident money for water but “she didn’t want to participate in anything that would help us.”

John Maceri, executive director of The People Concern, takes issue with residents who complain about the problem and then go on to criticize every proposed remedy. “The criminal element needs to be dealt with, but statistically, homeless people aren’t committing more crimes than other people, it’s just more visible and they are easier to blame,” he says.

“I understand both sides. No one wants to see a tent city outside their window,” says one woman who lives at the Frederick camp. “There could be a solution if everyone wasn’t so hell-bent on destroying us.” This woman, who declined to provide a name, is a former heroin addict who left her two daughters in Tennessee and moved to Venice several years ago. She claims neighbors have pulled guns on her and says that “the biggest crimes we’re guilty of are digging in the trash and being homeless.” As if to make her point, a well-dressed jogger happened through as she was talking, exclaiming, “Oh, aren’t we lucky to have a new city dump right here!”

Residents have started a GoFundMe page for a landscaping project to deter the Penmar encampment, pictured.
Things reached a boiling point at a packed town hall meeting in October, when residents got a chance to address the city’s plans to open a 154-bed transitional (“bridge”) housing shelter set to be built on a former Metro bus yard at Sunset and Pacific avenues (the plan was approved by the City Council in December). At the four-hour meeting, Bonin and Mayor Eric Garcetti were targets of angry chants and tirades that effectively centered on whether Venice was being asked to unfairly shoulder the burden for the entire Westside’s homeless population. Bonin says he had an obligation to place the bridge housing for his district in Venice because that is “where the problem is most acute” (each council district is required to open a bridge-housing shelter under a City Hall directive). Those opposed to the shelter contend that the site is too close to schools and residences.

“We have a homeless problem that needs to be addressed,” says screenwriter and Venice resident Michael Lerner. “But the solutions being proposed are these pie-in-the-sky ideas that don’t make economic sense. If you’re talking about providing shelter for tens of thousands of homeless people but your solutions are costing $475,000 per unit, you’re not going to shelter a lot of people.”

Even the homeless woman at the Frederick camp says the city’s housing plans aren’t a viable long-term solution. “I’m not going to rub my tummy and jump through hoops just to live inside,” she says, “I shouldn’t have to go through that much of an act just to get housing. People should be allowed to live how they want.”

Bonin alleges that critics of the city’s efforts are resorting to hyperbolic, inflammatory language in an effort to smear the homeless. “One of the anti-bridge-housing organizers posted something online that said, ‘We need to call in Stephen Miller to help us deal with this,’ ” says Bonin. “The similarities in the language used when referring to the homeless and how Trump refers to immigrants is startling.” The councilmember’s critics say his efforts are simply misguided.

“Bonin sent out a survey like 10 months ago asking residents where would be a good place for the shelter,” says software executive Travis Binen, who lives directly across from the Metro bus depot and has emerged as one of the most vocal opponents to the bridge shelter. “Of the 641 surveys returned, only 5 percent pointed to [the Metro bus depot] as a good location. More people pointed to Bonin’s house. He is, like, the most hated man in Venice.” Binen, who spends four hours a day online organizing against the shelter, says his activity has pushed him rightward.

Garcetti has hinted that once enough shelter beds and sup­portive housing have been built to meet the court’s requirements, it would clear the way for the city to start enforcing the former law that banned sleeping on sidewalks. Says Bonin, “We have approved a shit ton of money, and if we are building housing with it, we should be able to go to the courts and say no to [certain] encampments.”

No one expects Venice to resolve its homeless issue soon, if ever. For now it remains a worrisome microcosm for one of L.A.’s most intractable questions: How much burden should homeowners bear for transients? And perhaps more important, where do we expect them to go?

Original
https://www.hollywoodreporter.com/features/las-homeless-surge-puts-hollywoods-progressive-ideals-test-1174599

‘Traditional masculinity’ deemed harmful, could lead to sexual harassment, medical group says


It’s all your fault, men.

For the first time in its history, the American Psychological Association (APA) released guidelines concerning men and boys, saying that so-called “traditional masculinity” not only is “harmful” but also could lead to homophobia and sexual harassment.

“The main thrust of the subsequent research is that traditional masculinity – marked by stoicism, competitiveness, dominance and aggression – is, on the whole, harmful,” reads the news release by the famed association.

“The main thrust of the subsequent research is that traditional masculinity – marked by stoicism, competitiveness, dominance and aggression – is, on the whole, harmful.”
— The American Psychological Association
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It notes that research shows “traditional masculinity is psychologically harmful and that socializing boys to suppress their emotions causes damage that echoes both inwardly and outwardly.”

The 36-page document goes on to coin “masculinity ideology,” which stems from traditional masculinity, and claims that it harms boys and men.

EATING VEGAN DIET PROMOTES ‘WHITE MASCULINITY,’ SOCIOLOGIST ARGUES

“Traditional masculinity ideology has been shown to limit males’ psychological development, constrain their behavior, result in gender role strain and gender role conflict and negatively influence mental health and physical health,” the report warns.

Left’s ‘toxic masculinity’ label to blame for male crisis?Video
The “masculinity ideology” is defined by the APA as “a particular constellation of standards that have held sway over large segments of the population, including: anti-femininity, achievement, eschewal of the appearance of weakness, and adventure, risk, and violence.”

The research goes on to suggest that masculine boys may put their energy toward disruptive behaviors such as homophobia, bullying and even sexual harassment rather than strive for academic excellence.

“Though men benefit from patriarchy, they are also impinged upon by patriarchy,” said Ronald F. Levant, EdD, a professor emeritus of psychology at the University of Akron and co-editor of the APA volume “The Psychology of Men and Masculinities.”

The new paper also advises clinicians how to address the problems of their own bias when treating boys and men, and urges to address how “power, privilege, and sexism work both by conferring benefits to men and by trapping them in narrow roles.”

NYC Mayor Guarantees Comprehensive Health Care for All in Historic Surprise Announcement

New York City will begin guaranteeing comprehensive health care to every single resident regardless of someone’s ability to pay or immigration status, an unprecedented plan that will protect the more than half-a-million New Yorkers currently using the ER as a primary provider, Mayor Bill de Blasio said.
It’s not health insurance, his spokesman clarified after the surprise announcement on MSNBC Tuesday morning.
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“This is the city paying for direct comprehensive care (not just ERs) for people who can’t afford it, or can’t get comprehensive Medicaid — including 300,000 undocumented New Yorkers,” spokesman Eric Phillips tweeted.
NYC Mayor Guarantees Comprehensive Health Care for All in Historic Surprise Announcement
De Blasio said the plan will provide primary and specialty care, from pediatrics to OBGYN, geriatric, mental health and other services, to the city’s roughly 600,000 uninsured. He said the city already has the foundation for such a plan — a public health insurance option that helps get direct care to undocumented residents.
That option will be expanded, the mayor said, and supported with the addition of a new program called NYC Care. That plan will roll out in 2019 and build out over the next few years, de Blasio said. It’ll cost about $100 million, Politico said.
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New Yorkers will be able to access the program through the city’s website or simply by calling 311. There will be no tax hikes to fund it, the mayor said.
“We’ll put the money in to make it work; it’s going to save us money down the line,” de Blasio said on MSNBC. “We’re already paying an exorbitant amount to pay for health care the wrong way when what we should be doing is helping them get the primary care.”
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Additional details on the program are expected to be revealed later Tuesday.
“This has never been done in the country in a comprehensive way,” de Blasio said on MSNBC. “Health care isn’t just a right in theory, it must be a right in practice. And we’re doing that here in this city.”
https://www.nbcnewyork.com/news/local/NYC-Health-Care-Guarantee-Mayor-de-Blasio-504046171.html

Ocasio-Cortez Tax Plan Creates 82.7% Top Income Tax Rate for New Yorkers

In an upcoming 60 Minutes interview, Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) will call for federal income tax rates of up to 70 percent as part of a proposal to create vast new government spending programs.

The current top federal income tax rate is 37 percent, so the Ocasio-Cortez plan will nearly double the tax rate for the top bracket.

New York State has a top income tax rate of 8.82 percent while New York City has a top rate of 3.876 percent. So under this proposal, her constituents would pay a top combined income tax rate of 82.7 percent:

Federal income tax rate: 70.0%
NY state income tax rate: 8.82%
NYC income tax rate: 3.876%
TOTAL: 82.696%

New Yorkers would not be the only ones suffering under the Ocasio-Cortez plan. California taxpayers would pay a top rate of 83.3 percent (70 percent plus the California rate of 13.30 percent).

In addition to this high income tax rate, taxpayers would remain impacted by other taxes including payroll taxes, taxes on capital gains income and dividends, and the death tax.

Further, while Ocasio-Cortez has not released details of any other tax hikes to pay for her plan, this would likely not be the only income tax increase if she had her way. For instance, Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) proposed a $2 trillion 2.2 percent payroll tax on all families and a $10 trillion 6.2 percent payroll tax on all businesses as part of his socialized healthcare plan.

Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.) and Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.) have proposed numerous tax hikes including a new, 5 percent surtax on those making $500,000 per year and an increase in the Obamacare payroll tax from 0.9 percent to 4 percent.

Regardless of the specific proposal, it is clear that Democrats want higher taxes on the American people as they made clear when they changed the House rules to make it easier to raise taxes.

Just last night, Democrats rejected a proposal to make permanent the $2,000 child tax credit (up from 1,000) and the $24,000 standard deduction for families (up from $12,000).

Based on their record this will not be the first of many cases where Democrats oppose middle class tax relief and advocate for higher taxes on the American people.

70 percent tax rates on ultra rich would help pay for “Green New Deal,” Ocasio-Cortez says

Newly minted Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez says tax rates for the nation’s wealthiest should increase to as much 70 percent to fund a new initiative to combat climate change — even if that means she’s labeled a “radical.”

“If that’s what radical means, call me a radical,” she said in an interview with CBS’ “60 Minutes” that will air in full on Sunday.

The New York Democrat said the tax hike would help fund the Green New Deal, which aims at eliminating carbon emissions in the US within 12 years.

“That is the goal. It’s ambitious,” she said. “It’s going to require a lot of rapid change that we don’t even conceive as possible right now. What is the problem with trying to push our technological capacities to the furthest extent possible?”

The 29-year-old said the plan could include “an element where people are going to have to start paying their fair share in taxes.”

“You know, you look at our tax rates back in the ’60s, and when you have a progressive tax rate system, your tax rate let’s say from zero to $75,000 may be 10 percent or 15 percent, etc.,” Ocasio-Cortez said.

“But once you get to the tippy-tops on your 10 millionth dollar, sometimes you see tax rates as high as 60 or 70 percent,” she continued. “That doesn’t mean all $10 million are taxed at an extremely high rate. It means that as you climb up this ladder, you should be contributing more.”

The current top tax rate is 37 percent.

When “60 Minutes” host Anderson Cooper described her ideas as a “radical agenda,” she responded, “I think that it only has ever been radicals that have changed this country.”

Kyrsten Sinema is sworn in today as the nation’s first openly bisexual senator and won’t place hand on Bible

Newly elected Arizona Sen. Kyrsten Sinema refused to be sworn in on a Bible, opting, instead, to place her right hand on a book of laws, including the U.S Constitution and the Arizona Constitution.

The book Sen. Sinema placed her hand on to be sworn in came from the Library of Congress, her office told the Arizona Republic.

“Kyrsten always gets sworn in on a Constitution simply because of her love for the Constitution,” the senator’s office said.

Another Democrat Rips Into Ocasio-cortez, Wishes She’d Just ‘Go Away’

There is at least one other reason Sinema refused to place her hand on the Bible. According to the Pew Research Center for Religion and Public Life, the Arizonan is the only member of the Senate who does not identify as a member of a religion.

Sinema, who started her political career as a member of the Green Party, also identifies as bisexual. She is only the second member of the Senate to identify as LGBTQ.

Despite her current claim to love the U.S. Constitution, in her work with left-wing groups in the early 2000s, Sinema was far less solicitous of the law of the land. In fact, she was quoted in 2002 as saying she thought it was acceptable that anarchists and Antifa types perpetrated violence, carried weapons, and destroyed property in pursuit of the extremist goals.

“When AAPJ attended May Day (sponsored by the Phoenix Anarchist Coalition), we knew that their guidelines differ from ours,” the Washington Examiner wrote of an email Sinema sent in 2002. “They are okay with weapons and property destruction in some instances, and so those of us who chose to attend the event knew that it would be inappropriate to ask someone to not destroy property or to carry a weapon.”

Judge Blocks New York City Law Aimed at Curbing Airbnb Rentals

A federal judge on Thursday blocked a recent New York City law intended to crack down on Airbnb and other online home-sharing sites that city officials say have essentially turned residential apartments into illegal hotels and have aggravated the city’s housing shortage.

The law, which was enacted last summer and was to go into effect next month, would have required the home-sharing services to disclose monthly to the city detailed information about tens of thousands of listings, and the identities and addresses of their hosts.

Airbnb and another firm, HomeAway, sued in August, contending the law was unconstitutional.

On Thursday, the judge, Paul A. Engelmayer of United States District Court in Manhattan, granted Airbnb and HomeAway’s request for a preliminary injunction, stopping the law from going into effect. He wrote that the ordinance violated the guarantee against illegal searches and seizures in the Fourth Amendment, and that the companies were likely to prevail on their claim.

“The city has not cited any decision suggesting that the governmental appropriation of private business records on such a scale, unsupported by individualized suspicion or any tailored justification, qualifies as a reasonable search and seizure,” the judge wrote.
Airbnb called the decision “a huge win for Airbnb and its users,” including “thousands of New Yorkers at risk of illegal surveillance.”

The decision could aid home-sharing services in their fight with other cities that have sought to regulate them, putting a limit on how much information local governments can demand.

The ruling also dealt a major blow to New York City’s political leaders, Mayor Bill de Blasio and the City Council speaker, Corey Johnson, who had championed the law as a way of combating rising rents. Mr. de Blasio signed the law in August after it passed the Council unanimously. It was seen as a major victory for Mr. Johnson just months into his tenure as speaker.

Speaking at a news conference, Mr. de Blasio defended the law on Thursday and predicted that the city would “ultimately prevail” in court.

“We have a huge city with a lot of Airbnb activity and a lot of concern in our neighborhoods and, unfortunately, a lot of examples of abuse,” he said. “To put a strong data regimen in place made all the sense in the world.”

Jacob Tugendrajch, a spokesman for Mr. Johnson, called the law a “vital protection against illegal hotels” and said the Council would continue “the fight for this common sense, data-driven law.”

Mr. de Blasio has contrasted home-sharing services with the hotel industry, which is subject to inspections and regulations that allow the city to hold owners accountable. He has argued that Airbnb should also be required to turn over information that helps the city protect the public interest.

An influential union for hotel workers, the Hotel Trades Council, strongly backed the law.

In a 52-page ruling, Judge Engelmayer did not rule on the merits of Airbnb and HomeAway’s claims, but said the injunction would block the law from taking effect pending resolution of the litigation, which he said would proceed expeditiously.

The law would require online rental services to disclose the addresses of its listings and the identities of its hosts to the city’s Office of Special Enforcement on a monthly basis. Hosts would also be required to list whether the dwelling is their primary residence and whether the entire unit or a portion is available for short-term rentals. Companies that failed to share the data would be subject to fines of $1,500 for each listing they did not disclose.

New York City is Airbnb’s largest domestic market, with more than 50,000 apartment rental listings. But under state law, it is illegal in most buildings for an apartment to be rented out for less than 30 days unless the permanent tenant is residing in the apartment at the same time.

City officials hoped the new disclosure requirements would make it much easier for the city to enforce the state law and would lead to thousands of units rented through Airbnb in the city coming off the market.

Airbnb and other home-rental services have been battling regulation nationally and abroad, as cities including Seattle, San Francisco and London have required such companies to share some data through a registration system for listings.
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San Francisco, for example, enacted a law in 2016 that fined home-sharing companies if a host rented an apartment through their platforms without registering it first with the city. Airbnb sued and reached a settlement with the city in 2017, under which the company agreed to register hosts automatically and to turn over a monthly accounting of its listings. Listings on Airbnb plunged by half after the rules went into effect.

But the measure New York City passed went further. Rather than set up a registration system, the law instead required Airbnb and similar companies to turn over the information its users had shared with them, including personal information about the hosts.

Roberta A. Kaplan, a lawyer for Airbnb, said, “I’m not aware of any city that has tried anything of this scope.” The opinion, she added, “sends a strong message to other cities that the New York approach is not the way to go about doing this.”

Judge Engelmayer, in his opinion, said that in the era before electronic data storage, an attempt by a municipality “to compel an entire industry monthly to copy and produce its records as to all local customers would have been unthinkable under the Fourth Amendment.”

The judge said that upholding the ordinance would invite other cities to make “similar demands on e-commerce companies” to routinely turn over broad-ranging customer records to investigative agencies.

That, he added, could allow regulators “to troll these records for potential violations of law” even when there had been no basis to suspect a violation.
Correction: January 3, 2019
An earlier version of this article misstated the fines levied under a new law requiring home-sharing sites to turn over data to New York City about their users. The fine is $1,500 for each listing a company fails to disclose, not $25,000.

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More NYC satanic rituals- NYE Illuminati Ball Sex Orgy

In this day and age, risqué can be risky. But Cynthia von Buhler is bringing sexy back to NYC.

The illustrator has thrown, by her own estimation, hundreds of over-the-top parties over almost three decades. But this year marks her first-ever New Year’s Eve bash — and she’s going all out: hosting a massive, “Eyes Wide Shut”-style blowout for 800 guests at the Williamsburg Savings Bank Tower.

Attendees, who are shelling out $200 to $400 per ticket, are coming “from all over the world — Amsterdam, Germany, Australia,” said von Buhler, 54. “We have people flying in just for this.”

‘New York has become more sanitized, and this is old-school underground craziness.’
Although von Buhler makes clear the Illuminati Ball “is not a sex party,” there is no mistaking the titillation factor. Hers is a sophisticated, fun brand of sexiness — giving guests the old-fashioned thrill of the tease.

“New York has become more sanitized, and this is old-school underground craziness. It’s respectful, but erotic and decadent,” she said. “I think this is a chance for people to really let their hair down and be free.”

At the Dec. 31 bash, there will be a human “cake” — with a model’s face, hands and feet sticking out of a body-shaped dessert — and a swimming mermaid in a tank. Von Buhler plans to create her own version of the New Year’s Eve ball drop: acrobats descending from the bank’s famed stained-glass dome.

And then there’s Kamadhenu the cow goddess and her four maidens. “You can milk the maidens’ [fake breasts] and also taste their milk [from a baby bottle],” the hostess said.

Although she doesn’t want to give away too much of the plot line, she revealed that the New Year’s Eve story centers around “human-animal hybrids who have escaped a lab,” including half-woman, half-bird sirens.

Modal TriggerCynthia von Buhler, founder of Illuminati Ball

Cynthia von Buhler, founder of Illuminati BallKyle Dorosz/Illuminati Ball
By day, von Buhler is a Newbery Medal-winning illustrator and children’s book author. By night, she has developed a reputation for throwing some of the sexiest, most provocative parties around. Last year, she hosted two Illuminati Balls, with scantily-clad fire-breathers, contortionist and aerialists, guests in masks and bustiers, and dancing men in bondage-style bikinis.

She was inspired by photos of heiress Marie-Hélène de Rothschild’s 1972 Surrealist Ball, which was attended by Audrey Hepburn and Salvador Dalí. “A lot of the people were wearing stag heads,” von Buhler said.

And it has nothing to do with black magic, she makes very clear. “I’m not into the occult at all,” von Buhler noted. For her, “the whole idea of the Illuminati Ball is, it’s an Illuminati that has been started to help animals and the environment.”

It all started in 2011, when the married Berkshires native, who had long been hosting wild events, produced her first immersive party a la the theatrical experience “Sleep No More.” The theme was Speakeasy Dollhouse, a louche wise-guys-and-gals period bash. “My grandfather was murdered in Manhattan in 1935, right after Prohibition ended,” von Buhler said. “He was a bootlegger.” (She is also descended, the artist said, from “Italian royalty.”)

Von Buhler added that, after the Speakeasy, she lost her deal with a Norfolk Street landlord “because of noise. We shot a gun off in the alley.”

She’s since hosted five or six additional immersive productions, including more intimate affairs for no more than 40 guests at an eight-acre estate an hour north of the city. There, she said, “We swim naked in the lake.”

Modal TriggerFOR SUNDAY FEATURES – THE ILLUMINATI BALL
12
Courtesy of The Illuminati Ball
For three of her affairs, she has created an accompanying graphic novel, including “Minky Woodcock: the Girl Who Handcuffed Houdini,” released in August of this year tied to an immersive event themed around the magician. Titan Comics, which is distributed by Random House, will publish von Buhler’s Illuminati Ball graphic novel in October 2019.

It’s gotten to the point where the artist — who was commissioned by Steven Spielberg in 2001 to illustrate a kids book to benefit the Starbright Foundation for seriously ill children — wants to be a solo act. “I prefer to create my own projects [now] rather than illustrate other people’s words,” von Buhler said.

She also likes creating her own world. That’s why attendees to the black-tie New Year’s Eve party will be given masks, and high-paying VIPs will receive watches that grant them entrance to an upstairs space where a dancer will perform ritualistic interactions.

The funny thing is, “It’s my least favorite holiday,” von Buhler admitted. “A lot of times, New Year’s Eve is just about drinking. But this [party] really could change your life.”

— With additional reporting by Kirsten Fleming