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Student's lawyer bot fights parking tickets

A college student came up with a simple but effective way of getting parking tickets dismissed. It has already saved drivers an estimated $4 to $5 million and gained the attention of billionaire tech investor Mark Cuban. In his first national interview, the teenage creator, Joshua Browder, tells John Blackstone why he has no plans to sell out.
Read full article on: cbsnews.com
Afghan security chief on his country's future
Afghan National Security Advisor Hamdullah Mohib tells CBS News' Charlie D'Agata that "democracy" is the only way out of his country's problems, and while it's possible Afghanistan will need to call on the U.S. military for more help, he doesn't expect that to happen.
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cbsnews.com
Gal Gadot Acting More Swiss Than Israeli Over Conflict, Says Son of PM Benjamin Netanyahu
The prime minister's son criticized the Wonder Woman actress for not taking a stronger stance on the escalation in violence between Israel and Palestinian militants.
newsweek.com
Prince Harry and Oprah Winfrey discuss mental health in new series trailer
Prince Harry has spoken about mental health in the trailer for an Apple TV+ documentary series with Oprah Winfrey, which aims to destigmatize the topic.
edition.cnn.com
China Planning 'Unprecedented' Tiananmen Memorial Crackdown: Report
A report out of Hong Kong has predicted mass arrests, prosecutions and disqualifications from public office for those who attend the vigil marking 31 years since the massacre in Beijing.
newsweek.com
Why Biden is not diving into Middle East peace brokering
Another tragic Middle East conflict is offering fresh insight into Joe Biden's sometimes ruthless calculations about the purpose of his presidency and his view of America's global role.
edition.cnn.com
Surfer dies after "unprecedented" shark attack near popular beach
"Despite the best efforts of paramedics and bystanders at the scene, the man could not be resuscitated," officials said.
cbsnews.com
Man Forces JetBlue Landing After Being Seen Snorting 'White Substance'
The 42-year-old passenger allegedly made multiple trips to the bathroom and was antagonizing other passengers.
newsweek.com
Power Up: Rift over Israel widens as some House Democrats want Biden to delay arms sale
The House Foreign Affairs Committee Democrats held an emergency meeting on Monday night on the issue.
washingtonpost.com
Eric Trump Calls Joe Biden and Kamala Harris 'Lazy', Asks 'Where Are These Two?'
The former president's son said Joe Biden and Kamala Harris lacked the "motivation" and "charisma" of his father.
newsweek.com
It's time to chisel the big names off museums' walls
A recent book and documentary about the Sackler family are both timely reminders of a reality museums and other cultural institutions can't afford to ignore, writes Alexandra Peers: It's time to take "naming rights" off the table.
edition.cnn.com
NHL playoffs: Gabriel Landeskog's Gordie Howe hat trick inspires Avalanche; Hurricanes' crowd 'crazy'
Nathan MacKinnon, Gabriel Landeskog and Mikko Rantanen combined for eight points and 16 shots of the Avalanche's 50 shots against St. Louis.       
usatoday.com
ShowBiz Minute: Masterson, De Niro, Grande
Judge to hear evidence on actor Danny Masterson rape charges; Robert De Niro says leg injury may prevent Tribeca festival appearance; Ariana Grande and Dalton Gomez tie the knot. (May 18)      
usatoday.com
Why an 'International Community' Does Not Exist | Opinion
The international community remains an abstract concept and perhaps an ideal but certainly not a specific actor that appeals should be directed to.
newsweek.com
Will Dems Rebuke the Squad for Parroting Hamas Talking Points? | Opinion
President Joe Biden deserves credit for declaring that the United States supports Israel's right to defend 9 million-plus citizens from thousands of Iranian-supplied Hamas missiles.
newsweek.com
Can the News Be Fixed?
One morning a few years ago, Amanda Patten, 26, invited five strangers into her home in Cincinnati. She cleared the toys off of the couch and offered everyone a seat. For three hours, she answered questions about her childhood, her hopes and fears for her own kids, and her news-consumption habits.The visitors were from E.W. Scripps, a broadcasting corporation that owns 60 TV stations in 42 markets, and they were doing something unheard-of for a news-media company. They were going into 100 homes in seven cities and trying to listen deeply to their audience—hoping to understand what younger Americans like Patten needed from the news that they weren’t getting. Beneath Scripps’s questions lurked another, larger one, with implications, potentially, for all of us: How can journalists rebuild local TV news, and perhaps even restore trust in the media?Today, no national news source is trusted by more than half of American adults. We have no common-ground truth, and that fracture runs like a spider crack through the foundation of the country. National news outlets and social media have gotten a lot of attention for contributing to mistrust and disinformation, but local TV news is no less complicit. It is often driven by sensationalism, sound-bite conflict, and false binaries, following the well-worn adage “If it bleeds, it leads.”[Margaret Sullivan: The Constitution doesn’t work without local news]These problems matter because local TV news is still the biggest piece of the media puzzle. More Americans get their news from local TV stations than from cable TV, newspapers, or national network TV, according to a 2020 Pew Research Center poll. And when it comes to political news, the local TV audience is particularly diverse—politically, economically, and racially. As a news source, local TV is more popular than online sites such as YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter.But the widespread consumption of local TV news also represents a huge opportunity. Overall, Americans trust it more than any other medium, including newspapers and digital media, according to a 2019 Poynter survey. Everyone, white or Black or brown, left or right, knows about the bridge that collapsed across town or the legendary barbecue place that just closed down. They can see it with their own eyes. Adam Ferriss In a hyperpolarized country, this kind of shared reality is precious. Americans who turn to local TV, radio, or newspapers for political news tend to have more accurate perceptions of people with different political views than do those who rely mostly on The New York Times or Fox News, according to research by More in Common, a nonprofit that analyzes political divides. And while local newspapers also benefit from proximity, most are not financially viable these days—and TV news is. “Local TV news actually has the potential to lead the way in restoring trust in journalism,” says Andrew Heyward, a former president of CBS News, now at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism at Arizona State University.Yet these advantages are precarious. While local TV news is popular, that popularity is waning—especially among young viewers, who are turned off by the medium’s sensationalistic coverage of house fires and crime scenes, and who have access to endless digital competitors for their time and attention. Even many of those who are watching don’t always feel good about what they’re seeing; the trust that remains for local TV news is brittle.This is why Scripps invested millions of dollars in its listening tour. And it’s why the network has since begun a series of contrarian experiments: increasing the length and complexity of its segments; focusing more on stories about solving problems rather than just documenting them; and even backing away from crime coverage and other cheap thrills. “The goal was to fix TV news,” Sean McLaughlin, the vice president of Scripps’s news division, told me. “It’s on us. We still have tremendous reach. We have a choice: We can fan the flames, or we can help to calm and heal.”Scripps reaches nearly a third of the national TV-news audience. It is not the largest of the station-ownership groups, nor is it always the most innovative. (Three years ago, Scripps paid me $300 to offer advice on a separate project, related to how best to cover conflict. I was not involved with the people or the project described in this story.) Even if they work, the experiments of a single TV corporation won’t neutralize the sizable streams of propaganda and disinformation that have come to plague American society. But they could suggest that young Americans in particular want something different (and better) from the news today—a conclusion that Scripps is not alone in reaching.At her home in Cincinnati that day, Patten talked easily and smiled often, offering up snapshots of her life while everyone else took notes. All she knew was that the visitors were from an unnamed media company and she was getting paid $75 an hour for her time. She explained that she usually turned on the TV news when she woke up with her small kids, “just to feel like it was not so quiet.” In those predawn hours, she was looking for intelligent adult company before going to her job at a local church. Her mom had done the same thing when she’d gotten ready for work. But often, Patten flipped from channel to channel, unsatisfied. She was seeking a sense of community and insights that could help her make her way through her day. But she usually didn’t find that. Having grown up biracial in Cincinnati with a Black father and a white mother, before marrying a white man herself, Patten carried around a lot of complexity. But she didn’t see that on the news. What she did see was a swirl of crime stories, forced banter, and “breaking news” that was not actually particularly urgent. She was looking for connection and understanding, but what she found felt cartoonish and alarmist, which made her distrust it. Sometimes, she felt worse after watching. Where was the Cincinnati she saw in real life?[Read: How the economics of journalism explains 2016’s information bubbles]The 12 o’clock news came on just then, and she watched it with her visitors. First came a series of crime stories, all of which featured Black suspects. Then came a segment about mostly white schoolchildren donating books to the needy. “Look!” Patten said, ‘That’s what I mean! When it’s good news, it’s white people, and when it’s bad news, it’s Black people.”The Scripps executives heard different versions of Patten’s feedback all over America. People complained about the psychological toll that TV news took on them, even as they continued to watch it. Many said the news made them feel sick with its relentless negativity. They also said that it was inaccurate, particularly when it came to crime coverage. The local news overrepresented the amount of mayhem in communities, missing the full picture. Despite the fact that people generally trust local TV news, those Scripps surveyed also said the neighborhoods on the news did not resemble the places where they lived in real life.Again and again, people said they wanted something else. Their needs were not being met elsewhere, despite all of their digital options. “People were not feeling connected to each other or to their community,” says Sara Fahim, who led the home visits with colleagues from Seek, a market-research firm.People craved a deeper look, one that captured their community in full, not just in shards. They wanted longer stories with more context. They made fun of phony news anchors. “All the tricks we used to do, they saw right through it,” said McLaughlin, who personally went to about 60 homes. “There was no way you left these homes without the feeling of Man, we’re off base, and we have to do something about it.”A lifelong newsman, McLaughlin wears thick black glasses, shaves his head, and talks fast. He’d known he wanted to work in the business since eighth grade, when he shadowed a Minneapolis TV-news reporter for a school project. Gradually, he worked his way up from reporter to anchor to news director at stations across the Midwest.But sitting in all those people’s homes was a humbling experience. McLaughlin had to let go of a lot of his old ideas about what the news should look like. “We’ve been getting it wrong for a long time,” he told me.Still, the solutions were not obvious, even if the problems were. Just because people say they want higher-quality TV news doesn’t mean they will really watch it, McLaughlin knew. So he decided to build a sort of test kitchen for TV news. He asked his boss for a couple of million dollars to set up a new digital-news outlet in Fort Myers, Florida. This time, he decided to hire people who knew how to be entertaining, above all—attractive, young people without a lot of journalism experience.The outlet was called Hello SWFL (an abbreviation for “Southwest Florida”), and its tagline was “A new approach to local news focused on connection, balance, and depth.” The concept was frothy: no crime stories, lots of community events, upbeat conversations. To measure its success, the outlet held focus groups with local residents and monitored engagement online.“It was a disaster,” McLaughlin said. The focus groups hated the bubbly anchors and the vapid infotainment. McLaughlin hated it too. “I was like, Holy cow, we’re nowhere,” he said. He started hiring journalists again.In the second year, he began to see a path forward. The problem “wasn’t the way the news was presented,” McLaughlin told me. “It was what the news is. The traditional format was still pretty desirable: the idea of a man and a woman at a desk and a weather segment halfway through. The work that needed to be done was in story selection and production.”The focus groups seemed to appreciate reporters who had deep knowledge of the community and the subject matter. And, to McLaughlin’s surprise, the groups didn’t just say they wanted more in-depth stories. They actually behaved that way. When Scripps tested Hello SWFL stories that were seven or eight minutes long—an eternity in the business—audiences watched them to the end, as long as they were well told.Fear, meanwhile, wasn’t working as well. Since the 1980s, TV news stations have inundated people with shocking coverage of crime and other spectacles. “The rule used to be: If you can scare the hell out of people, you can probably get them to watch five more minutes,” McLaughlin said. But across a dozen focus groups, the Hello SWFL test station discovered that younger people were put off by hysterical coverage of petty crimes—or of crimes happening far away.[Derek Thompson: Why America’s great crime decline is over]Scripps began making changes, based on these findings, nationwide. Every station was told to move away from gratuitous crime coverage and pick one signature issue that mattered deeply to the community. WCPO, the station Patten watched in her living room, chose to focus on growth and development in Cincinnati. At the same time, the station stopped using mugshots online and on TV. It also stopped covering nonfatal shootings and vacant-house fires—stories that did not reflect meaningful trends but did generate dread. Since these changes, implemented in 2020, audiences have responded well, Mike Canan, WCPO’s senior director of local content, told me. Younger viewers in particular loved the change. “We heard from a lot of people who said, ‘Oh my gosh, thank you! Now I can watch the news with my kids around!’” Canan said.Older viewers were less excited, however. Some complained that the station was no longer covering the news. “One of the most glaring things people don’t understand is that, every day, we make a million news judgments,” Canan said. “It’s gotten entangled in people’s minds: the news as we cover it and what the news actually is.” But so far, the blowback has been confined to email and Facebook. According to Canan, ratings haven’t had a corresponding decline—although the changes haven’t yielded a surge yet, either. The station still reliably places third or fourth (out of four major local stations) in most time slots.In Denver, the Scripps station launched a new franchise called “360,” which tackles a complicated controversy from multiple angles. The idea is to curate deeper, meaningful points of view so audiences can make up their own minds about issues.The first “360” was about a local coffee shop that had put out a sign that said Happily Gentrifying the Neighborhood Since 2014, sparking a social-media backlash and a boycott. That “360” segment was almost five minutes long, about three times the length of a typical news story. It started with a Denver7 anchor, Anne Trujillo, explaining the purpose: “We understand a lot of people don’t trust journalists these days,” she said. “It is our commitment to you to give you all sides of the story so you can form your own opinions.”The segment then defined the word gentrification, cut to a Black woman complaining about regular folks being pushed out of the neighborhood, and moved on to a white man who had grown up in the neighborhood lamenting how expensive it had gotten. Then came the mayor, who talked about the need to balance compassion with economic growth. Finally, Shannon Ogden, another Denver7 anchor, closed with an invitation: “Listen, I know there are a lot of opinions on this story, in your community, in your city,” he said. “Let us know if you have a point of view we didn’t cover here.”To me, the segment felt familiar and yet different, kind of like visiting a renovated house: The bones are the same, but something feels more welcoming. It’s not a radical change—unless you’re in the local-TV-news business, in which case it’s terrifying. “It’s really hard to keep people in front of a TV for over four minutes,” Holly Gauntt, the Denver7 news director, told me. “One of my biggest fears is that people would tune out.” But when she got the full ratings report from that first “360” show, that’s not what she found. “People weren’t leaving.”The station has now done about a hundred “360” news stories, and it’s the most popular franchise. These segments have to be done thoughtfully, so that they don’t create a false equivalence between arguments that don’t in fact merit equal weight. But the ones I saw felt more true to life than traditional, two-sided stories. Since January 2021, Scripps has asked all of its stations to do in-depth segments along these lines in all three time blocks (morning, evening, and late-night) each day.Pinpointing why ratings go up or down is always hard, but ratings started to steadily increase in Denver in the months after the launch of “360,” Gauntt said. And while everyone I interviewed at Scripps groused about the unreliability of Nielsen ratings (especially during the pandemic), McLaughlin said that Scripps had seen a correlation between the stations that had adopted these reforms and higher ratings. Looking at a recent snapshot, ratings for March 2021 showed that 13 Scripps stations (in the 21 markets monitored by Nielsen) were up over February ratings for at least two of the three daily newscasts. “I no longer believe that there’s any chance we’re wrong on this,” McLaughlin said.If American audiences are losing their taste for reductive “he said, she said” coverage, and for litanies of problems and risks without solutions, that would be a good development. Scripps’s findings aside, some evidence in support of that proposition is accumulating, though it is hardly dispositive. Univision’s New York City station redesigned its late-night newscast to feature longer, more substantive stories. A year later, it won the ratings race for adults ages 18 to 49, beating out all competitors, regardless of language. Meanwhile, in a 2020 SmithGeiger study commissioned by the nonprofit Solutions Journalism Network, consumers of all ages preferred rigorously reported TV-news stories about efforts to solve problems over more traditional stories, regardless of their political leanings.[Steve Waldman and Charles Sennott: The coronavirus is killing local news]During March 2020, audiences for local TV news spiked nationwide, with eight out of 10 Americans watching on a weekly basis, SmithGeiger found. But the more time people spent consuming traditional news, the more mental distress they experienced. Two months into the pandemic, trying to counteract this doom loop, Scripps directed all stations to produce a daily feature called “The Rebound,” designed to connect viewers to resources and offer original stories about locals responding to the crisis. Scripps executives now routinely talk among themselves about the psychological impact of their work, something they almost never did before. A training video featuring Amanda Patten and other people interviewed in their homes has now been shown to a couple thousand Scripps employees, to drive home the ways that conventional TV news can alienate people.Whether these and other changes will be enough to affect the way people feel about the news—or their willingness to keep watching it—remains an open question. When I spoke with Patten at the end of 2020, she was about to have a third child. I mentioned all the changes made at her local TV-news station, and she was thrilled to hear about them. “That’s awesome! I kind of want to talk to them again and hear more.” But, she admitted, she hadn’t been watching the station lately. Her kids are old enough that she doesn’t want them exposed to too much news. So she and her husband now keep the TV in a closet. Every so often, they pull it out and put it on their dresser to stream Netflix.
theatlantic.com
Amazon reportedly in talks to buy MGM as streaming wars intensify
Amazon is reportedly in talks to buy MGM, the vaunted film studio that was a staple of Hollywood's Golden Age. A tie-up would give the tech firm a big brand to wield as competition in streaming grows fiercer by the day.
edition.cnn.com
Chevrolet's trick Multi-Flex tailgate coming to its heavy duty Silverado pickups
The Chevrolet Multi-Flex tailgate will be available on the 2022 Silverado HD pickup. The feature can provide several cargo carrying and access configurations on the full-size truck.
foxnews.com
Federer and Nadal to renew rivalry
They had only met once in about three seasons heading into 2017 but now, for the second time in three months, Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal will play each other again.
edition.cnn.com
Maria Sharapova targeting 2020 Tokyo Olympics
Maria Sharapova's 15-month doping suspension -- which ends next month -- may actually end up extending her career until 2020, her longtime agent told CNN.
edition.cnn.com
Louisiana Flooding Photos and Videos Show Cars and Buildings Engulfed in Water
As much as 18 inches of rain fell across parts of Texas and Louisiana on Monday.
newsweek.com
5 things to know for May 18: Coronavirus, policing, abortion, Gaza, Havana Syndrome
Here's what else you need to know to Get Up to Speed and On with Your Day.
edition.cnn.com
California not dropping indoor mask mandate until June 15
The state's decision to take its time to follow new CDC guidelines has been drawing mixed reactions.
cbsnews.com
Mets' Kevin Pillar shares update after getting hit in face by pitch vs. Braves
New York Mets outfielder Kevin Pillar was involved in a scary scene Monday night against the Atlanta Braves when he was struck in the face by a pitch in the seventh inning.
foxnews.com
American Cold War Adviser Asks 'Gentleman' Vladimir Putin for Russian Citizenship
New York-born Suzanne Massie told Kremlin-friendly channel NTV it would be a great "honor" to become a a Russian citizen.
newsweek.com
Fighting Continues Between Israel, Hamas After Biden Calls For Ceasefire
Israeli warplanes carried out another round of airstrikes against Hamas targets in Gaza, leveling a six-story building, while militants fired dozens of rockets into Israel.
npr.org
'Botched' stars Dr. Terry Dubrow and Dr. Paul Nassif on how social media has changed plastic surgery
The plastic surgeons spoke to Fox News about the reality TV show's new season.
foxnews.com
Trump DOJ tried to unmask a Twitter account behind ‘mean tweets and bad memes’ that teased Rep. Devin Nunes
The subpoena is the latest turn in a years-long legal beef between Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) and several Twitter accounts with names like “Devin Nunes’ Cow” and “Devin Nunes’ Mom.”
washingtonpost.com
Arbitrator rules Fury must face Wilder, jeopardizing Joshua fight - reports
A big money heavyweight fight between British champion Tyson Fury and compatriot Anthony Joshua was thrown into doubt on Monday after an American arbitrator ordered Fury to face American Deontay Wilder, according to media reports.
edition.cnn.com
Biden admin's mixed messages on fuel pipelines are as muddled as mask mandates
Biden administration officials have sported blatant hypocrisy between prioritizing the Colonial Pipeline over the Keystone and their quick change of heart on coronavirus masking.
foxnews.com
Is Morris Chestnut Leaving 'The Resident'?
"The Resident" has been renewed for Season 5—but it is losing a main cast member as Morris Chestnut will no longer be playing Dr. Barrett Cain on every episode of the Fox show.
newsweek.com
RBG's death casts a shadow over Breyer's upcoming decision as court takes a right turn
For more than 20 years, Justice Stephen Breyer has authored the Supreme Court's decisions endorsing abortion rights. With Monday's news that the court will hear a case that could gut Roe v. Wade next session, a new question has emerged: Will a desire to influence the outcome affect the 82-year-old justice's decision on whether to retire this summer?
edition.cnn.com
RBG's death casts a shadow over Breyer's upcoming decision as court takes a right turn
For more than 20 years, Justice Stephen Breyer has authored the Supreme Court's decisions endorsing abortion rights. With Monday's news that the court will hear a case that could gut Roe v. Wade next session, a new question has emerged: Will a desire to influence the outcome affect the 82-year-old justice's decision on whether to retire this summer?
edition.cnn.com
Progressives push Democratic leaders to think big on infrastructure
In a letter to Senate Leader Chuck Schumer and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, nearly 60 Democrats called for a package that "truly meets this historic moment."
abcnews.go.com
Mets player hit in the face by pitch in ‘scary,’ bloody scene
Outfielder Kevin Pillar said he was "doing fine" after being struck by a pitch from Braves reliever Jacob Webb, who appeared upset and was quickly lifted from the game.
washingtonpost.com
Hamas wasn’t behind the Jerusalem protests. So why is it fighting?
This confrontation with Israel overshadows the fundamental question of Palestinian liberation.
washingtonpost.com
Column: Independents, you're part of the partisan problem
Independents aren't very independent. They aren't swinging the two parties toward the center; they're exacerbating the divide.
latimes.com
COMIC: How A Teacher Tackled Pandemic Fears For His Students With Disabilities
It's been a year since teachers were handed an unprecedented request: educate students in entirely new ways amid the backdrop of a pandemic. This week's story comes from a teacher in Nashville.
npr.org
Former 'Good Morning America' executive producer will join struggling NewsNation
Michael Corn will join the news channel ahead of the launch of a new morning program.
latimes.com
More indelible than ink: Tattoo businesses flourish again
Body art artists say bookings are on the rise as Americans look for expressive and therapeutic outlets after a year marked by isolation and loss.
washingtonpost.com
Reps. Scalise, Rouzer: Pipeline cyber attack – shutdown shows where we must invest our energy resources
The ensuing concerns over fuel supply underscore the need to invest in our nation’s critical infrastructure to make a more robust and secure energy future possible. We need more opportunities for reliable energy – not fewer.
foxnews.com
The ‘This Is Fine’ dog is back. And his creator wants to show he’s more than a meme.
KC Green is launching the syndicated strip "Funny Online Animals," which features his famous Question Hound.
washingtonpost.com
Andrew Giuliani announces 2022 bid for New York governor
"I'm a politician out of the womb. It's in my DNA," Giuliani, 35, told The Post, referring to his childhood as the son of a larger than life Big Apple mayor.
nypost.com
Exploring the "desire and humanity" of disabled relationships
On the Netflix series "Special" and in podcasts and social media, fresh and candid insights about disabilities, dating, interabled relationships — and yes, sex.
cbsnews.com
Child Tax Credit Calculator: How to Estimate Direct Payment Amounts
Parents are set to receive an additional $1,000 or $1,600 per child this year.
newsweek.com
Washington is Misreading Iranian Politics | Opinion
A third of a year into its tenure, the new White House appears to be pulling out all the stops in its efforts to reengage with Tehran, and to demolish the "maximum pressure" policy of its predecessor in the process.
newsweek.com
The Cheney Conundrum and What It Means for the GOP | Opinion
To the elites, Wyoming representative Liz Cheney's ouster from the No. 3 position in the House GOP leadership is a big deal.
newsweek.com
Homeroom: My Kid Is Being Cyberbullied
Editor’s Note: Every Tuesday, Abby Freireich and Brian Platzer take questions from readers about their kids’ education. Have one? Email them at homeroom@theatlantic.com.Dear Abby and Brian,Our daughter, whom I’ll call “Pam,” is 14 years old and going through a very rough time. I was horrified last week when I found her sobbing as she stared at a photo of herself covered with insults such as teacher’s pet and suck-up. It seems to have been screenshotted from an Instagram post. Pam told me the screenshot had been going around for weeks before she saw it a few days ago. She doesn’t know (or maybe just won’t tell me) who made it, and she won’t say anything else, other than “everyone else knew about it.”I am furious and so sad for Pam. We’ve never let Pam use social media, so now I feel responsible, because maybe this wouldn’t have happened if she were on a platform that so many of her friends are part of. I’ve always seen her participation in class as a wonderful aspect of her academic life, but is there a chance that it turns off her classmates? Online bullying doesn’t really fit into what the school is responsible for, does it? My husband and I don’t want to make things worse, but we have no clue how to begin to help her.AnonymousDear Anonymous,Bullying is excruciating for kids and for the parents who are desperate to protect them, and cyberbullying can be especially pernicious because of its anonymity and scale. You and Pam are not alone: More than a third of teens report being bullied online. When a child is hurt, many parents blame themselves for dynamics that are beyond their control. But this is not your fault, and it certainly isn’t Pam’s. That said, you should do what you can to shield her from further abuse, as difficult as that may be. While exploring potential approaches, be sure to prioritize Pam’s agency rather than acting on your own.Start by speaking with Pam. Avoid addressing what she may or may not be doing in class, as this will only cause her to feel that she is to blame. Then encourage Pam to reach out to her support network of family, friends, and teachers who care for her. Maybe she wants to vent to a friend she trusts or solicit advice from a family member. Urge Pam to share her perspective—both how she’s feeling and what she may know about who’s involved in the incident—with you. Knowing this context will help you two figure out what to do next. If you are concerned that Pam is anxious or depressed, seek immediate help from a counselor or therapist.As you encourage Pam to reach out for emotional support, discuss with her potential ways to address the post. Be sure to follow Pam’s lead. One option is to report the incident to Instagram, which will assign a team to review and potentially remove inappropriate content without disclosing who filed the complaint. If Pam knows the post’s origin, another option is to tell the offender to take it down. She may be loath to have this conversation on her own; see whether she would be more comfortable if a friend helped her. If Pam tells you who created or shared the post, we advise that you don’t confront any of the involved students or their parents, as this is likely to make the situation worse for Pam. Instead, the school should be responsible for disciplinary action.Even though the incident may not have happened on school grounds, it involves multiple members of the school community. Ask Pam how she’d like to inform the school about what happened, whether in a conversation she has with an adviser or a teacher, or in one that you have with an administrator. If it’s not already doing so, the school should be talking with students about the importance of making good decisions online. Students need to understand that even after bullying posts are taken down, they still cause distress for the children who were targeted. Moreover, schools should make it clear that cyberbullying will not be tolerated. You might also suggest that the school facilitate small-group discussions about how to be allies to those being cyberbullied. These conversations will empower kids to stand up for one another.In a time when Pam feels despondent, she needs to know that she has both the agency and the support to navigate this painful incident. Let her know that you and others are always there to help her, and closely monitor how she is feeling so that you can step in if need be. Finding ways to cope with the agonizing repercussions of bullying can be painful and all-consuming. Try to keep in mind that these coping mechanisms will help her learn to become more resilient in the long run.By submitting a letter, you are agreeing to let The Atlantic use it—in part or in full—and we may edit it for length and/or clarity.
theatlantic.com
How Parking Drives Up Housing Prices
Lewis Mumford was suspicious of parking. “The right to access every building in a city by private motorcar,” he wrote in The City in History, “in an age when everyone owns such a vehicle, is actually the right to destroy the city.” Jane Jacobs, who disagreed with Mumford on many counts, agreed here. Parking lots, she said in The Death and Life of Great American Cities, were “border vacuums”: inactive spaces that deadened everything around them.Mumford and Jacobs published those lines in 1961, when most United States cities were 15 years into an experiment called “minimum parking requirements”: mandates in zoning codes that forced developers to supply parking on-site to prevent curb congestion. In postwar America, development was booming, and neighbors were worried that new residents would make street-parking impossible. Decades later, parking requirements still exist nationwide. In Los Angeles, where I live, new apartment buildings must have at least one parking space per unit; retail buildings need one space per 300 square feet; and restaurants need one space for every 100 square feet of dining area.[Read: America's cities can't quit cars]Parking requirements enforce what Mumford decried: the right to access every building by private car. As Mumford predicted, they have been a disaster. American urban history is stained with tragic missteps and shameful injustices, so parking requirements are hardly the worst policy cities have tried. But they are notable for how much needless damage they have caused, over a long period, with few people even noticing.The trouble with parking requirements is twofold. First, they don’t do what they’re supposed to, which is prevent curb congestion. Because curb parking is convenient and usually free, drivers fill up the curb first, no matter how much off-street space exists nearby. Second—and more consequential—parking requirements attack the nature of the city itself, by subordinating density to the needs of the car.Cars revolutionized transportation by promising not just speed, but autonomy. Cars let you go wherever you want, whenever you want, by yourself and by a route of your choosing. But that promise is fulfilled only if everywhere you might go has a place to store the car whenever you arrive. A train drops a passenger off and keeps going. A driver drops a car off and keeps going. Thus most trains are mostly moving, while most cars are parked most of the time. The price of the car’s convenience, then, is the space it consumes when it isn’t in motion, and indeed even when it isn’t there. Cities designed for cars must set aside space: space to wait for cars, and space to hold them while they wait for their drivers to come back.Parking minimums take the cost of that space—a cost that should be borne by drivers—and push it onto developers, hiding it in the cost of building. Sometimes this means a project can’t be built at all. At other times, it makes projects more expensive: In downtown L.A., parking usually costs developers more than $50,000 per space to build. Walt Disney Concert Hall, a cultural landmark that is home to the Los Angeles Philharmonic, cost $274 million to build. Of that total, the underground parking structure, which is not a cultural landmark (it’s an underground parking structure), accounted for $100 million.Because parking requirements make driving less expensive and development more so, cities get more driving, less housing, and less of everything that makes urbanity worthwhile. This process is subtle. Many mayors today declare their support for walkable downtowns and affordable units. But cities are built at the parcel, not from mayors’ podiums. And parcel by parcel, the zoning code quietly undermines the mayors’ grand vision. A commercial requirement of one parking space per 300 square feet means developers will put new retail in a car-friendly, pedestrian-hostile strip mall. And a requirement of one parking space per 100 square feet for restaurants means the typical eating establishment will devote three times as much space to parking as it will to dining. America did not become a country of strip malls and office parks because we collectively lost aesthetic ambition. These developments are ubiquitous because they are the cheapest way to comply with regulations.[Janette Sadik-Khan and Seth Solomonow: Surrendering our cities to cars would be a historic blunder]For each individual project, parking requirements can seem reasonable; in many cases, they mollify worried neighbors. A zoning board in Boston, for example, recently rejected a homeless housing project when nearby residents said it had too little parking. The project might still get built, with fewer units and more parking, and perhaps to the casual observer the difference is small. Over many parcels and many decades, however, the units lost and parking spaces gained add up, and the sum of our seemingly reasonable decisions is an unreasonable, unaffordable, and unsustainable city.This city, the parking city, can’t have row houses and townhouses that sit flush with one another and come right up to the street. It can’t reuse handsome old buildings that come straight to their lot line, so those buildings stay empty. It can’t tuck quirky buildings onto irregularly shaped parcels, so those parcels stay vacant. (Manhattan’s famous Flatiron Building is an impossibility in a city with parking requirements.) The parking city is one where people drive into or under buildings, rather than walk up to them. It is a city with listless streets, one that encourages vehicle ownership, depresses transit use, and exudes antagonism toward people without cars.Large portions of New York, Chicago, Boston, and Philadelphia, if they burned down tomorrow, couldn’t be rebuilt, because according to modern zoning, their buildings don’t have “enough” parking. Brownstone Brooklyn, after all, is largely devoid of parking; so is Boston’s famed North End. Zoning defenders might call this point moot, because those places are different—parking can be scarce because walking and using transit are easy. But walking and using transit are easy, in part, because parking is scarce. Transit thrives on density, which parking undermines, and parking and walking don’t mix. The short walk to a Manhattan subway stop will take you past attractive store windows, which come right up to a sidewalk largely uninterrupted by driveways. Walk along an L.A. boulevard, by contrast, and you’ll get a good view not of stores but their parking lots, which means in turn that your walk must be careful rather than carefree—lest a car slide out, cross the sidewalk, and run you over. That pleasant experience comes courtesy of L.A.’s zoning.None of this is an argument against parking. It’s an argument against required parking. In an age of ostensible concern about global warming, it shouldn’t be illegal to put up a building without parking and market it to people without cars. If neighbors worry that people will move in and park on the street, cities should meter their streets. Curb space is valuable public land. Parking requirements or no, cities will have curb shortages as long as they give the curb away.There are promising signs of reform. Buffalo, New York, recently abolished its parking requirements. Minneapolis has done the same. San Diego and San Francisco have scaled them back, and California may be on the cusp of rolling them back statewide. In most cities, however, parking requirements still reign unchallenged.Cars do need parking. But cars need many things, and most get supplied without being mandated. Suppose that tomorrow a mayor proposed minimum gasoline requirements: a set number of fuel pumps on every parcel. Most people would consider that outrageous. They’d observe that the private market supplies gas just fine, that it’s not a big deal to travel a small distance for fuel, and that putting pumps on every parcel would just squander valuable land and encourage driving.They’d be right. But what’s true of gas is true of parking too. Sometimes the hardest damage to see is the damage we are already doing. America’s disastrous experiment with.
theatlantic.com