UNC researchers say the results from the multi-site phase 2 and 3 trials of brexanolone injection are not only promising, but could change the way postpartum depression is treated.
Traffic is one of the biggest problems California has to solve. Learn how CSU campuses are working to end the state’s mind-boggling congestion.
Discover how the stars have guided some of our greatest adventures as Neil deGrasse Tyson, co-host Maeve Higgins, Native Hawaiian navigator Nainoa Thompson, navigation expert Frank Reed, author Dava Sobel, and Natalia Reagan explore the science of celestial navigation.
NOTE: StarTalk All-Access subscribers can listen to this entire episode commercial-free here: https://www.startalkradio.net/all-access/the-stars-that-guide-us-with-nainoa-thompson/
Photo Credit: By Newportm [CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) or GFDL (//www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)], from Wikimedia Commons.)
The U.S. Department of Energy has awarded more than $20 million to help national laboratories across the country collaborate with U.S. businesses to speed promising energy technologies to the marketplace. Argonne National Laboratory received $4.3 million from DOE to fund 12 projects across six divisions.
Fans of the popular Dragon’s Breath snack, the treat infused with liquid nitrogen that allows consumers to blow smoke after eating it, should think twice before consuming the controversial food, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) warned on Thursday.
Lisa E. Gordon-Hagerty, U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Under Secretary for Nuclear Security and Administrator of the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA), visited Argonne on August 29 to get a first-hand look at the laboratory’s national security contributions.
The latest research and features on ecology and wildlife.
Welcome to the last 2018 installation of “Public Access.” If there’s a video you’d like to write about or just see published on CityLab next summer, send a message to firstname.lastname@example.org.
While waiting for the next subway at Toronto’s College Station, riders see two platform walls facing each other. One depicts players of the city’s NHL hockey franchise, the Maple Leafs; the other shows their historic rivals, the Montreal Canadiens.
The piece, made by Canadian artist Charles Pachter and called Hockey Knights in Canada, Les Rois de l’Arène, appeared in 1985—much to the dismay of the owner of the Maple Leafs, who tried to have it taken down.
As the CBC reported in 1984, team owner Howard Ballard was furious that the Toronto Transit Commission station feeding fans into his Maple Leaf Gardens would depict his team’s arch-enemy. He even threatened to pull permission to use the Maple Leafs logo on the piece. Pachter—no stranger to artistic controversy (see the reaction to his 1972 painting Queen on Moose, which depicted a young Queen Elizabeth II, on a moose)—saw Ballard as a bully, and the TTC backed him up, confirming that the piece would not be in violation of copyright law
Ballard, who had served time in jail on 47 counts of fraud, theft and tax evasion the previous decade, had a comically villainous persona; he embraced chaos in his workplace and proudly used racial slurs and sexist language in public. Leafs fans remember him for overseeing the historic franchise’s darkest days. Pachter’s piece was installed towards the end of the 1984-85 season, one in which the Maple Leafs held the worst record in the NHL. Said the artist to the CBC at the time, “The Leafs being in the condition they’re in, it’s good press for him.”
Ballard died in 1990 and in 1999 the team moved a few stops down the TTC’s Line 1 to Air Canada Centre. But Hockey Knights in Canada, Les Rois de l’Arène remains in its original place.
H/T CBC Archives
The number of children diagnosed with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in the U.S. appears to have increased dramatically, a new study finds.
Heads up, parents: The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has updated its guidelines on how long children should stay in a rear-facing car seat.
The state’s already ambitious efforts to fight climate change may get more juice—but tech and policy will have to play catch-up.
In 1977, Congress passed the Community Reinvestment Act, a powerful antidote to racial discrimination in lending. Where banks had divided maps into segregated areas that showed where they would and would not approve mortgages—a notorious practice known as redlining—the new law required them to demonstrate that they serve low-income households wherever they are located.
Forty years on, this regulatory approach—which was designed decades before the era of online banking—is showing its age. Millennial-friendly online-only Ally Bank, for example, doesn’t have any brick-and-mortar locations at all, so regulations predicated on the reach of bank branches don’t make sense for this 21st-century lending platform. The CRA is overdue for an upgrade, and this week, the Trump administration took a long-awaited first step toward revamping the rule.
But while the advance notice of proposed rulemaking, set forth by the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (an agency under the Treasury Department) has prompted cheers among bankers, the direction that the administration seems to be heading has prompted concerns among civil rights watchdogs. Among the new standards teased by Treasury’s call for input is a numerical target for fair lending compliance—a dollar-value approach that could cement the damaging segregation patterns that the law was designed to upend.
“This is a case where making a better mousetrap doesn’t get around the fact that it’s a mousetrap,” says Jesse Van Tol, CEO for the National Community Reinvestment Coalition.
As it currently stands, the Community Reinvestment Act sets different metrics for fair lending. Any individual bank’s mileage may vary, depending on its size and place in the lending world. The act sets performance standards, but not specific goals. That’s an important distinction: Banks are judged relative to one another in their efforts to ensure that they serve all the members of their communities equally. Small banks, large banks, intermediate small banks, limited-purpose banks, banks that mostly serve the military—they’re all regulated somewhat differently.
The Trump administration wants to go with hard targets that apply across the board. The notice issued by the Comptroller introduces the prospect of a metric-based framework. This measure might be a ratio of the bank’s qualifying fair-lending activity to its size. “For example, a bank with $1 billion in total assets that conducted $100 million of CRA-qualifying activities in the aggregate would achieve a 10-percent ratio, if total assets were used for the denominator,” reads the Comptroller’s notice.
For bankers, a metric-based compliance system would vastly simplify standards for compliance. The proposed change addresses a common complaint among banks: Under the status quo, it can take years for a performance evaluation to say for sure whether a specific loan or investment qualifies toward CRA obligations. A fixed target would be far easier for banks to meet. On the other hand, replacing the relative measure with an absolute score would enable banks to put together high-margin, low-risk investments that meet the bare-minimum standard and no more—to scratch it off the list. “In their minds, this supplies a lot of clarity,” Van Tol says. “The problem with that is, not every community has the same credit needs.”
Buzz Roberts, CEO for the National Association of Affordable Housing Lenders, echoes this concern. A Community Reinvestment Act rating, based on a fixed ratio of qualifying activity to bank size, would treat all banks the same, regardless of how much mortgage lending any specific bank actually does. It would also treat all housing markets the same; in reality, investments from one low-income community to another rarely match up.
“Let’s say you’re in Chicago, and the median home price is something over $200,000. That’s twice the median home price in, say, Toledo,” Roberts says. “If I’m just trying to get to a dollar volume target of lending, I would much rather be lending in Chicago than Toledo. So a bank in Chicago is going to be much more advantaged over a bank in Toledo, and communities in Toledo are going to be more disadvantaged, because it will be harder for them to attract the capital.”
Roberts draws that example out further, to a higher-priced community. “A gentrifying neighborhood in Brooklyn has them both beat, because it might be possible for a bank to make a loan on a condo there, in a low- and moderate-income neighborhood, of half a million dollars,” he says. “That’s a much faster way to get to the magic number.”
There are other factors associated with setting a specific target that cause critics to worry. The magic number for a 2018-level economy won’t work for banks in the face of a 2008-style recession. A target volume set too high might encourage banks to compromise their credit standards with unwise loans. And a numeric value set under Trump is practically an engraved invitation for the next administration to ratchet the figure up or down (or scrap it altogether)—not exactly the certainty craved by bankers.
Roberts nevertheless applauds the administration’s proposal to revise the Community Reinvestment Act rule. The last substantive revision came in 1995, he says, back when interstate banking was new and online banking didn’t exist. “There’s a lot in CRA that’s just not clear,” he says. “I’m confident that if banks had more clarity about what got CRA consideration, they would be lending more.”
The sentiment echoes many in the lending community, including the Consumer Bankers Association. The case for reform rests on one bedrock truth: Banking has fundamentally changed over the last 20 years. Some rural areas aren’t served by any physical bank branches, for example. Ally, the online-only bank, doesn’t get any credit for its lending in Detroit (where its holding company is based); instead, its compliance is measured entirely by its activity in Salt Lake City (where the bank is headquartered).
New financial institutions have found ways to game the fact that they aren’t held to the same standard as traditional banks. For example, of the 1,119 home mortgage loans issued by JPMorgan Chase in the Washington, D.C., metro area in 2015 and 2016, African American homebuyers received just 23 loans. That’s exactly the sort of discrimination that the Community Reinvestment Act was designed to stop. But because Chase doesn’t technically operate any bank branches in the D.C. area, it isn’t obligated to follow the law against redlining.
“We have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to build upon that legacy of community development and make the Community Reinvestment Act work better for everyone,” writes Comptroller Joseph Otting.
The ink on a new Community Reinvestment Act rule is very far from dry. Any practicable rule will likely need the buy-in of both the board of the Federal Reserve and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation. Otting’s office is doing it alone for now by asking for input on a new rule. As American Banker reports, these agencies usually act in unison, but occasionally one goes out on a limb with a reform proposal.
A small change to the way that regulators and banks interpret the Community Reinvestment Act could have sweeping effects for low-income communities as well as the broader economy. The National Community Reinvestment Coalition figures that the law has sparked $2 trillion in loans since 1996. But the Trump administration isn’t proposing a tweak. A brand new formula would represent a sea change in the way that banks look at low-income communities and minority borrowers.
Taken together with other federal rules changes, there is reason to worry about the future. The Trump administration appears to be fully revising how the government reads its rules on segregation and discrimination in housing and lending. Down the road from Treasury in D.C., the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development has opened up two rules for review: a legal doctrine on implicit forms of discrimination (known as disparate impact) and a policy that requires communities to actively work toward desegregation (known as Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing).
“It’s trite to say that the devil’s in the details,” Van Tol says. “Here the devil’s in the concept.”
On Wednesday, Cochin International Airport reopened. For two weeks the airport in the city of Kochi had been closed after being inundated with waters from a flood that ravaged the Indian state, Kerala, killing over 400 people. Bridges collapsed, forests fell, and homes were swept away in landslides. In addition to the devastating loss of life, the recovery and reconstruction cost is estimated to be billions of dollars.
This was not the first, or even the second time, a flood has wreaked such havoc in India—and it is likely not the last. Every time a disaster like this hits, Indian politicians from opposing parties quibble about the relief efforts, but there is seldom a meaningful discussion about the fact that these disasters were, at least in part, man-made: a result of haphazard urbanization and badly planned water management infrastructure.
Environmentalists point to Kochi’s airport as a prime example of a structure built without prior risk assessment. To show its issues, Samrat Basak, the director of the World Resource Institute’s Urban Water Program, conducted a quick satellite analysis. The first problem: The airport was built a few hundred meters away from the Periyar River, and to make space for it, natural water channels were realigned.
“It is too close to the river, that’s point number one,” Basak told CityLab, “and it’s not just the Kochi airport: Even the Mumbai and the Chennai airports are too close to the river, and they’ve experienced flooding in the past.”
The second issue was evident when WRI analyzed the elevation analysis. Not only is the airport at river level, it was lower than some of the areas in the North, which means it acted like a collection tray for runoff from the north when the downpour hit.
“So if there’s a flood, it will breach the airport boundaries—you don’t need to be a scientist or an architect to understand [that],” Basak said.
Basak’s analysis also mentions that urban areas like Palakkad, Chengannur, and Angamaly were also submerged because many of them have developed on flood plains. And Aluva, a suburb of Kochi that began sprouting in the 1990s, has been sprawling into the flood plain without a buffer to withstand overflow from the river.
The other factor here, according to WRI, is that hydro-power dams that supply more than half of the electricity in Kerala are spread out across the state. These massive structures have been built without any plans for overflowing reservoirs, without emergency protocols for potential collapses, and without warning systems if any of these eventualities come to bear, a a 2017 government audit warned. It seems Kerala’s vulnerability is not an exception, but a rule, according to the audit. The consequence was that these reservoirs were brimming with water even before the monsoons hit, Basak noted, and so when it did, all of the water was released at the same time.
With recent research measuring a three-fold increase in extreme rain since the 1950s, a finding that is consistent with climate change forecasts, WRI emphasizes an urgent need to preempt these risks.
“That’s a chronic problem in India—that we’re more reactive than proactive,” Basak said.
This tendency may be because preemptive measures require significant investment, or just that urban development has been happening at such dizzying speed in India since the early 1990s that lawmakers can’t keep up. Climate change is also largely overlooked in discussions about urban planning.
”Most Indian cities are facing challenges around extreme events or lack of water because of these three reasons,” Basak said.
WRI recommends ways in which India and its cities can be proactive about the risk of floods from monsoons or extreme weather events: conservation of natural flood buffers such as tree cover, more sustainable urban development, and resilient infrastructure are some solutions. The bottom line is: the recourse requires a shift in mentality.
“Urban development and sustainability of cities should not be in a conflict—it should go hand in hand,” Basak said. “That’s where we need to work quite a lot, as policymakers and thought leaders.”
The University of Minnesota announced today an award of $8 million over the next four years from the Simons Foundation to an international collaboration that will study the fundamental science of waves.
Scientists found that mice lacking the biological clocks thought to be necessary for a healthy metabolism could still be protected against obesity and metabolic diseases by having their daily access to food restricted to a 10-hour window.
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What We’re Following
Too big to rail: One hundred years ago, the United States had a public transportation system that was the envy of the world. Private companies (with some municipal subsidies) built huge rapid transit and streetcar networks that spread out from cities across the country, spurring the development of suburbs. New York City, Philadelphia, Chicago, and Boston all boasted formidable subway and elevated rail systems.
Today, outside a few major urban centers, public transit is clinging to life support. The private automobile is usually blamed for this sharp decline in ridership, but, as Jonathan English argues, near-total collapse was not inevitable. Instead, the operators of these struggling U.S. systems have been ignoring one key lesson about what drove riders away: Service drives demand. Today on CityLab, here’s why America stopped building transit.
More on CityLab
What We’re Reading
Why counting everyone in the census is hard (Vox)
The undocumented workers who built Silicon Valley (Washington Post)
How much hotter is your hometown than when you were born? (New York Times)
Why we should organize sidewalks as neatly as our homes (Curbed)
What if Houston’s survival depends on giving in to the flood? (Slate)
In his Phoenix office, Senator John McCain kept a poster on the wall depicting Tempe Town Lake and the commercial developments that sprang up there after the man-made waterway opened in 1999. Wellington “Duke” Reiter, executive director of Arizona State University’s City Exchange Program, said that when he saw the picture, he knew McCain understood the power of the project.
Today, the lake is a bustling attraction in the middle of the Phoenix metro area. But it’s just a sliver of a massive project first proposed in the 1960s that envisioned new green space, recreational areas, commercial development, and walking corridors along a 40-mile stretch of the Rio Salado (Salt River) that snakes through the city.
That plan was devised in 1966, when students from the University of Arizona proposed an ambitious idea to breathe life back into the river. After dams were built upstream in the early 20th century, the riverbed mostly dried up throughout the Phoenix area, except in times of heavy rain. The students imagined its future as a commercial and tourist corridor that would unite a newly sprawling Phoenix region.
Ultimately, though, it never came to pass. There were too many stakeholders to get on the same page, and the challenge of securing funding proved insurmountable. (In 1987, voters throughout the county rejected a property tax increase to support it.) Not only would a proper Rio Salado development project involve working with multiple city governments, but also state, county, and tribal officials, as well as industrial giants, like mining companies, that had taken residence on certain banks of the river, Reiter said.
But in 1988, Tempe Mayor Harry Mitchell forged ahead to complete Tempe’s own slice of the plan that was set out two decades earlier. According to current Tempe Mayor Mark Mitchell (Harry’s son), Arizona’s congressional delegation in Washington, D.C., was instrumental to getting the help of the Army Corps of Engineers to construct the lake. Since then, office buildings, apartments, parks, and an arts center have sprung up around it, and more than 2 million people visit it each year. Meanwhile, the rest of the riverbed and its banks remained dry and bare.
That’s where John McCain comes in.
In April 2017, just before his glioblastoma diagnosis became public, McCain approached ASU to see what it would take to get the Rio Salado project moving again. Short answer: a lot.
The project, dubbed Rio Reimagined, went to Reiter, who leads the university’s efforts to strengthen relationships between ASU and the cities around it. The first step would be setting a project scope and convening the necessary civic, tribal, and industry leaders.
This, of course, is where the things fell apart in the first attempt. With six municipalities and two Indian communities along the river, it’s not hard to see why. Reiter says he wouldn’t have pitched such a large project, but that’s what McCain wanted.
“I believe if we get this done, someday your kids and you will be walking along and you’ll be able to say, ‘I played a role in that. I was part of the effort that made this such a wonderful place to raise your kids,’” McCain told a group of ASU students in August 2017.
McCain’s imprimatur gave the project the credibility it needed, Reiter said, and his relationships with mayors and tribes along the Rio Salado helped bring everyone together. Shortly after the two first met, they convened a meeting of local civic leaders interested in the project to go over next steps.
“The implementation of Rio Reimagined in the way Senator McCain imagined is a really fitting legacy,” Mark Mitchell said.
But getting everybody on board is just the beginning. There’s still a long road ahead to plan, design, and secure funding for the project.
Beyond its ambition, the project is notable for another reason. If completed, it stands to be a rare local mark of McCain’s legacy. That’s partly because McCain focused so heavily on national and global affairs in his three-decade Senate career, and partly because his career in Congress was marked by his public aversion to earmarks and “pork-barrel spending” that bring federal funds to local infrastructure projects like this one.
“Senator McCain was essentially the pioneer senator who began pointing out pork-barrel spending in floor speeches,” said Pete Sepp, president of the anti-earmarks National Taxpayers Union Foundation. Unlike many members of Congress, McCain hasn’t left a trail of infrastructure projects that he secured funding for. While that might have pleased fiscal conservatives, that stance didn’t endear McCain to all Arizonans.
“Modern Arizona wouldn’t exist without immense amounts of federal largesse. Arizona’s great statesmen—Carl Hayden, Ernest McFarland, Barry Goldwater, Mo and Stuart Udall, and John Rhodes—understood this,” former Arizona Republic columnist Jon Talton said in an email. “The change in attitude tragically coincided with Phoenix becoming a huge metropolis, with huge urban needs, which received little help from the GOP delegation.”
McCain’s resistance to federal funding for civic projects was hardly limited to Arizona: He frequently voted against infrastructure spending bills, even those signed by Republican presidents. Notably, in 2008, he was one of 24 senators who opposed an Amtrak bill that’s credited with saving the system from financial ruin.
On the Rio Salado project, McCain’s name and influence have come in handy when making connections to federal agencies that could provide funding down the line, Reiter said.
“When an agency got a call from his office, people took the call and invited us in for meetings,” he said. “We hope that the senator’s legacy continues to be powerful enough to open those doors.”
Either way, it’s going to be a long time before Rio Reimagined has any design proposals or renderings on the table, Reiter says. “What we first need to do is socialize the idea that we can come together as a major metro area and get behind an idea that we all determine together.” He imagines that it will be decades before any project is agreed upon, designed, and built.
And if shining greenways, parks, recreational areas and commercial developments span the banks of the Rio Salado, people can thank McCain for bringing the players to the table.
“His real interest was seeing people rally around something that would bring them together,” Reiter said. “Whether you’re an urbanist or a stakeholder or a mayor or tribe president, he wanted to see if people could rally around a project.”
Daniel Quigley, Ph.D., has been appointed as the new dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at New York Institute of Technology (NYIT). He has served as interim dean of the college for the past 14 months and has been a member of the faculty at NYIT since 1988.
Sitting for too many hours per day, or sitting for long periods without a break, is now known to increase a wide range of health risks, even if one engages in recommended amounts of physical activity. The health risks of prolonged sedentary time – and nurses’ role in reducing those risks – are discussed in an integrative literature review and update in the September issue of the American Journal of Nursing. The journal is published in the Lippincott portfolio by Wolters Kluwer.