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Invisible Borders Trump the Real Ones – CityLab

The economic clustering of cities often ignores the lines drawn on maps.

Throughout this week, CityLab is running a series on borders—both real and imagined—and what draws so many of us to places on the edge.

As Donald Trump continues to insist that Mexico will “reimburse” the U.S. for his wall, his reality-show antics accidentally reveal an important point: What we perceive as authentic borders—like the one between the U.S. and Mexico—can function as artificial constructs, while the imaginary borders that separate rich and poor neighborhoods in the same city can be all too real.

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Borders

Stories about places on the edge


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“True” borders are imposed, often arbitrarily, by political entities. During their reign as world power, the British simply carved up the world in their interest without any regard for how economies were organized or people actually lived. Look at the problems those national boundaries ended up causing throughout the Middle East. But so many of cities in that region—Damascus, Baghdad, Jerusalem—have stood for millennia. In the earliest forms of civilization, borders shaped the economic unity of a city, providing community and protection, while in the modern era, technology has made cities less constrained by boundaries.

The artificiality of ‘real borders’

The rise of megaregions reveals the limits of “real borders” in our own time. The map below is based on my research with Tim Gulden and Charlotta Mellander, which uses satellite images of the world at night to identify megaregions as contiguous lighted areas. These lighted areas cross state and often national borders.

Gentrifiers actively rename neighborhoods and redefine their borders, creating whole new spaces that reflect the divides of class and race.

In the United States, for example the Bos-Wash Corridor runs across the Northeast from Massachusetts to Virginia; Chi-Pitts spans Illinois, Michigan, Ohio, Pittsburgh, and more, and Char-lanta crosses Georgia, North and South Carolina and parts of Kentucky and Tennessee.

(Tim Gulden)

Three other North American megaregions cut across national borders. Tor-Buff-Chester, where I live, spans the U.S. and Canada, as does Cascadia in the Pacific Northwest. So-Cal crosses the Mexican border and includes Tijuana. All of these megaregions are integrated economic clusters that defy the imposition of national borders.

The way that political borders contradict and clash with economic clusters comes through in even sharper relief when we look at the megaregions of Europe.

(Tim Gulden)

The mega of Amsterdam-Brussels-Antwerp crosses through the Netherlands and Belgium; Barcelona-Lyon runs up the coasts of Spain and France; Vienna-Budapest includes parts of Poland, the Czech Republic, and Slovakia in addition to Austria and Hungary.

Or we can look to the Middle East, where political tension and conflict has long limited the potential of the sprawling Tel Aviv-Amman-Beirut megaregion. That’s an area that we found produced about the same economic output as New Zealand.

The reality of imaginary borders

As unbound by national or state borders as regional economies might be, there are also the invisible—but in many ways very real—boundaries that exist inside our cities and metro areas. These phantom walls that separate rich and poor neighborhoods are stubbornly persistent, as can be seen in the maps of class-based urban divides we generated for my Divided Cities series for CityLab.

The class divisions by neighborhood of San Francisco and Chicago. (Zara Matheson/MPI)

Of course, these geographic divides and segregation also reflect the boundaries that stem from things like the redlining of neighborhoods by banks, which helped create the enduring class and racial divides in American cities.

The class divisions of Washington, D.C. and Philadelphia. (Zara Matheson/MPI)

The power of such invisible borders to divide can be seen in the way gentrification splits apart and defines neighborhoods. Gentrifiers actively rename neighborhoods and redefine their borders, creating whole new spaces that reflect the divides of class and race.

The world we live in may be defined by borders, but the real ones are often not as powerful as some would like us to believe. It’s the invisible borders that can divide us more than we think.

 

Brown: Neighbors joining together to block Trump deportations | Chicago Sun-Times

In the 35th Ward on the city’s Northwest Side, Ald. Carlos Ramirez-Rosa has started what he calls the Community Defense Committee.

In Rogers Park, home to an extremely diverse immigrant population, volunteer organizers have chosen to dub their effort Protect RP.

In Little Village, the Mexican capital of the Midwest, they have picked the name La Villita Se Defiende, which translates to Little Village Defends Itself.

As with the different names, each group seems to be charting its own tactical approach, but the overarching goal is the same: to protect undocumented immigrants by resisting efforts to deport them.

Resistance eventually could take the form of actually interfering with federal agents in the performance of their duties, something not to be taken lightly but a measure of what’s at stake.

I was among more than 400 people who attended a Protect RP organizational meeting Monday night, an extraordinary display of how hungry people are to Do Something.

The meeting was held at Living Water Community Church, where pastor Kristin Jackson said two-thirds of the congregants are immigrants, some of them undocumented.

But my impression is most participants that night were American citizens acting in support of their neighbors, not out of self-preservation. And they weren’t just the liberal fringe.

Trump won the election with his promise of mass deportations, but many still believe the better answer is to change the immigration laws to protect most of those who are living here and to map out a more coherent system going forward.

Call that a path to citizenship or call it amnesty, but that’s still the goal to me, even if we’re now playing defense instead of offense.

“People are very receptive and very eager to support this effort,” said Rosa, who is using techniques learned by immigrant groups in Arizona and Georgia in response to deportation raids conducted by the Obama administration.

Read more at the source: Brown: Neighbors joining together to block Trump deportations | Chicago Sun-Times

 

This is actually what America would look like without gerrymandering – The Washington Post

The GOP scored 33 more seats in the House this election even though Democrats earned a million more votes in House races. Professor Jeremy Mayer says gerrymandering distorts democracy. (The Fold/The Washington Post)

In his State of the Union speech, President Obama called on lawmakers and the public to take a number of steps “to change the system to reflect our better selves” for “a better politics.” The top item on that list was to end partisan gerrymandering: “we have to end the practice of drawing our congressional districts so that politicians can pick their voters, and not the other way around,” Obama said.

In most states, state legislatures draw the district boundaries that determine how many delegates the state sends to the U.S. Congress, as well as the general partisan make-up of that delegation. State legislatures are partisan beasts, and if one party is in control of the process they can draw boundaries to give themselves a numeric advantage over their opponents in Congress. This process is called gerrymandering.

The process of re-drawing district lines to give an advantage to one party over another is called “gerrymandering”. Here’s how it works. (Daron Taylor/The Washington Post)

Some state legislatures are more brazen about the process than others. Maryland’s districts, drawn by Democrats, are one particularly egregious example. North Carolina’s, drawn by Republicans, are another. Advocates of reform have proposed various solutions to the problem over the years. In some states, redistricting is put in the hands of an independent commission. In others, lengthy court battles are playing out to draw the districts more fairly.

But a fundamental problem with district-drawing still remains: as long as humans are drawing the lines, there’s a danger of bias and self-interest to creep into the process. There is another way, however: we could simply let computers do the drawing for us.

From a technological standpoint it’s fairly straightforward — a software engineer in Massachusetts named Brian Olson wrote an algorithm to do it in his spare time. As I described it in 2014, Olson’s algorithm creates “optimally compact” equal-population congressional districts in each state, based on 2010 census data. It draws districts that respect the boundaries of census blocks, which are the smallest geographic units used by the Census Bureau. This ensures that the district boundaries reflect actual neighborhoods and don’t, say, cut an arbitrary line through somebody’s house.”

To see what this looks like in practice, compare this map of our current congressional districts (top) with one we stitched together from Olson’s output (bottom).

 

 

Big difference, isn’t it? You can check out a larger version of the compacted map here. Rather than a confusing snarl of interlocked districts, you have neat, trim boundaries that make intuitive sense. Here are some individual state comparisons I made back in 2014 that let you see some more of the detail:.

Read more at the source: This is actually what America would look like without gerrymandering – The Washington Post

Protest Erupts in Downtown L.A. Following Reports of Immigration Raids at Homes Across Southern California | KTLA

While immigration advocates say more than 100 people were detained Thursday as U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials conducted home raids across three Southern California counties, the federal agency insists its operations were “routine” and not part of President Donald Trump’s unprecedented immigration crackdown.

Protestors against deportation and immigration raids close off a section of Aliso Street in downtown L.A. on Feb. 9, 2017. (Credit: Chris Gierowski / KTLA)
Protestors against deportation and immigration raids close off a section of Aliso Street in downtown L.A. on Feb. 9, 2017. (Credit: Chris Gierowski / KTLA)

ICE officials have yet to release detailed information on how many people the agency arrested Thursday and where they were taken into custody, only stating that the activities were “targeted and lead driven, prioritizing individuals who pose a risk to our communities,” according to ICE spokesperson Lori Haley.

“Examples would include known street gang members, child sex offenders, and deportable foreign nationals with significant drug trafficking convictions,” she said in an email. “To that end, ICE’s routine immigration enforcement actions are ongoing.”

However, according to Jorge-Mario Cabrera, communication director for the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of L.A., those detained were either people with deportation orders but no criminal background or family members of those sought who were home during the raids and told officials they lacked documentation.

Read more at the source: Protest Erupts in Downtown L.A. Following Reports of Immigration Raids at Homes Across Southern California | KTLA

 

California and President Trump are going to war with each other – The Washington Post


Donald Trump speaks with Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) after a rally in San Diego during the election campaign. (Jonathan Ernst/Reuters)

President Trump had harsh words for one of his most fervent opponents during the pre-Super Bowl interview with Fox News’s Bill O’Reilly that aired Sunday. Not President Vladimir Putin, mind you, whose alleged unpleasant habit of murdering journalists met with a shrug from the president. No, Trump lashed out at the nation’s largest state, California.

“I just spent the week in California,” O’Reilly said. “As you know, they are now voting on whether they should become a sanctuary state. So California and the U.S.A. are on a collision course. How do you see it?”

“Well, I think it’s ridiculous,” Trump replied. “Sanctuary cities, as you know I’m very much opposed to sanctuary cities. They breed crime, there’s a lot of problems. We have to well defund, we give tremendous amounts of money to California. . . . California in many ways is out of control, as you know. Obviously the voters agree or otherwise they wouldn’t have voted for me.”

“So defunding is your weapon of choice?” O’Reilly asked.

“A weapon. I don’t want to defund the state,” Trump said. “I don’t want to defund anybody. I want to give them the money they need to properly operate as a city or a state. If they’re going to have sanctuary cities, we may have to do that. Certainly that would be a weapon.”

Sanctuary laws received national attention in July 2015 after an illegal immigrant with prior deportations and a criminal history pleaded not guilty to murdering a woman at a San Francisco pier. President-elect Donald Trump has pledged to cut federal funding to sanctuary cities. Here’s what they are. (Jayne W. Orenstein and Osman Malik/The Washington Post)

Source: California and President Trump are going to war with each other – The Washington Post

 

Divest Now! Why Seattle Took Back Its Money From Wells Fargo (And Your City Should As Well) – Medium

Today, the City of Seattle took an unprecedented stand against unethical banking practices by unanimously passing the Socially Responsible Banking Ordinance. It will require the city to divest from $3 billion in contracts with Wells Fargo Bank, one of the several banks with a large financial stake in the Dakota Access Pipeline. The move sends a clear and powerful message that the people of Seattle expect our money to reflect and uphold our values.

Divestment — Or, How to Take On the Banks

Fighting politically entrenched big money is always a hard, uphill battle. They can absorb some losses and afford lengthy court proceedings that those with little or no capital cannot. Their vast resources often allow them to simply bulldoze over the rights of others — even when they are dead wrong. Without access to the same level of funding, we must use many different strategies to even the playing field, like direct action and media pressure. But our most effective weapon against well-moneyed opposition is divestment.

Read more at the source: Divest Now! Why Seattle Took Back Its Money From Wells Fargo (And Your City Should As Well) – Medium.

Make Every State a Sanctuary State | Mises Wire

CBS reports that “California may prohibit local law enforcement from cooperating with federal immigration authorities, creating a border-to-border sanctuary in the nation’s largest state as legislative Democrats ramp up their efforts to battle President Donald Trump’s migration policies.”

In this context, of course, California — should the proposed legislation pass — would decline to participate in helping federal agents enforce federal immigration law.

In terms of American political and legal traditions, California is well within its rights, and by refusing to assist federal agents would simply be building on a past tradition in which state governments have refused to assist the federal government with a number of policies.

Read more at the source: Make Every State a Sanctuary State | Mises Wire.

San Francisco sues Trump over sanctuary city order

 

The city of San Francisco filed a lawsuit Tuesday challenging President Trump’s executive order that directs the federal government to withhold money from so-called sanctuary cities that limit cooperation with federal immigration enforcement agents.

The lawsuit, filed by San Francisco City Attorney Dennis Herrera in U.S. District Court in Northern California, marks the first court challenge over the sanctuary order filed by one of the targeted cities since Trump unveiled his order last week.

AFP AFP_KS068 A POL USA CA

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Mayor Mike Signer to declare Charlottesville “Capital of the Resistance”

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (NEWSPLEX) — Charlottesville Mayor Mike Signer intends to declare Charlottesville a “Capital of the Resistance” in the wake of President Donald Trump’s first week in office.

The formal announcement will be made Tuesday during a press conference at City Hall.

Signer confirmed in a Facebook event that he will be joined by Khizr Khan, Faith, Business, and Community Leaders.

According to the event, “Signer and the other speakers will issue a call to action for anyone concerned about the fear, division, and uncertainty that have resulted from President Trump’s draconian executive orders.”

Visit Source for more: Mayor Mike Signer to declare Charlottesville “Capital of the Resistance”

Trump-Proof Seattle! Tax The Rich: Action Meeting – Transit Riders Union

WA-regressive-tax

Now is the time to act, right here in Seattle. With the federal government in irresponsible and dangerous hands it’s up to us to build community and resilience and power at a local and state level. On January 28th the Transit Riders Union is hosting an Action Meeting where you can learn about an ambitious and exciting campaign that is in the works right now, and sign up to get involved. Meet in the large Hall 1 of the Labor Temple, 2800 1st Ave, at 2:00 PM.Washington State has the #1 most regressive tax system in the nation. That means the poorest people pay the highest percentage of their income in state and local taxes – basically, Seattle and Washington State are tax havens for the wealthy. As a result we can’t adequately fund basic prerequisites of civilization, like education for our children.

And now, we’re all waiting to see what Trump’s administration is going to attack first. The Affordable Care Act is already on the chopping block. What’s next? Workers and their unions? Immigants? Social security and medicare? Foodstamps?

It’s time to act. We can help defend Seattle against Trump, set an example for other cities, AND pave the way to overhauling our state’s regressive tax system. If wealthy people with incomes over $200K contributed more fairly to our community, Seattle could raise hundreds of millions of dollars each year for affordable housing, transit, education, and green jobs. This will be a massive grassroots effort. We need you!

Source: Trump-Proof Seattle! Tax The Rich: Action Meeting – Transit Riders Union