first_imgLOS ANGELES – It’s been called “the skiddiest of all Skid Rows”: 50 square blocks of run-down hotels, abandoned factories, burned-out storefronts, dingy bars and seedy liquor stores, interspersed among hundreds of makeshift homes, most of them built with discarded cardboard boxes and stolen shopping carts. Located an easy walk from City Hall, police headquarters and other downtown seats of power, this last stop for the destitute has been a fixture of the nation’s second-largest city for nearly a century. Folk singer Woody Guthrie called it “the skiddiest of all Skid Rows” in his 1943 autobiography “Bound For Glory.” Poet Charles Bukowksi said it was populated by “people who are mutilated and almost dead … creeping, crawling, uncared for creatures.” These days the area has been getting a less poetic though equally hard look. With a burgeoning real estate market bringing luxury apartments and condos to the edge of Skid Row, city leaders are torn between letting gentrification roll over the area or trying to make it a more hospitable environment to get help with homelessness, drug addiction, mental illness and other troubles. Among other measures: Police have conducted drug stings, making more than 5,000 arrests during the first three months of the year, including one in which actor Brad Renfro was caught trying to buy heroin. Authorities tried to keep thousands of people from sleeping on the streets, but a federal appeals court stopped the effort until the city provides adequate beds to house all of its homeless. The City Council placed a yearlong moratorium on demolition of about 240 Skid Row flophouses while officials try to balance affordable housing needs against the conversion of older buildings to apartments that can rent for more than $1,000 a month. If all of the projects now under development are completed, the number of housing units in downtown could more than double to nearly 40,000 in five years. Some of the estimated 14,000 homeless people on Skid Row fear they could be shuffled off to the suburbs to make room for those projects. An ambitious plan by a group called Bring L.A. Home proposes the use of temporary shelters throughout Los Angeles County. “They don’t want to get rid of homeless people, they just want to move them around to where people won’t see them,” said Franklin Smith, a homeless man who can often be found perched on a shopping cart outside a small toy store along Skid Row. Steve Van Zile, an executive with SRO Housing Corp., which refurbishes old buildings and rents apartments for as little as $66 a month, said the housing boom is a concern for his nonprofit organization. “Finding properties is always the issue for us,” he said. “It is getting harder and harder,” as the price of real estate rises. Estela Lopez, who lives in the area, says the boom shouldn’t be blamed for Skid Row’s dilemma, although it may have focused more attention on a place she says has been in need of fixing for years. “In my lifetime, the area has gone from being the Skid Row for people who were down and out, down on their luck and needing help, to an area that is violent, an area that is taking people’s lives through illness and disease and drug addiction or through stabbings and fights,” she said. As executive director of the Central City East Business Association, a pro-business and property owners group, Lopez helps lead nighttime walks through Skid Row as part of her group’s efforts to take back the streets. “You’d be surprised how few people take us up on that offer,” she said, noting only four did on a recent walk. One of those who didn’t was Smith, a former dispatcher for a trucking company. Dirty and disheveled but surprisingly articulate after seven years on the street, he spends much of his time outside the toy store. The owners don’t run him off when he asks passers-by for spare change and allow him to stow the wooden box he uses as his portable toilet behind the building. Like more than half of those on Skid Row, drugs and mental problems appear to be his enemies. Although Smith said he’s never been in trouble with the law, he holds a lighter in one hand and a marijuana cigarette in the other as he speaks, quickly flicking away the latter when officers in a passing police cruiser give him the onceover. He talks repeatedly of a government conspiracy to keep him from getting his relief checks and says he shuns homeless shelters because they want to search his shopping cart before they’ll let him in. Instead, he lays his blanket down on the sidewalk near a local police station, saying it’s safer there. He is one of about 3,000 people who sleep on Skid Row streets each night, according to Don Spivack, deputy director of the County Community Redevelopment Agency. About 8,000 live in hotels that range from dirty flophouses with little more than a cot and a hot plate, to clean, recently renovated buildings like those run by SRO Housing Corp. Another 3,000 live night-to-night in area shelters. The unfunded plan released last month by Bring L.A. Home proposes spending $12.4 billion to create 50,000 units of low-cost housing and a handful of shelters throughout the county. “The idea is to make it a stable neighborhood, as much as you can for the population that you’re dealing with,” Spivack said. ——— Inside Homeless immigrants among L.A.’s poorest, both on and off Skid Row. / A5 Homeless say safety, drugs are big worries along Skid Row. / A5160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!last_img read more

first_imgInitial results of Cassini’s March 12 flyby of Enceladus have been published.  You can watch a replay of today’s press briefing, read the blog, and read illustrated bulletins about the organic material, chemical signatures, hot spot locations, the stellar occultation (see also the Quicktime animation).  Another article shows the plume locations.  An astrobiologist (Chris McKay) added his speculations about life.  The encounter preview page contains links to more information, including the flyby details (PDF), and the video page contains an eye-grabbing animation of the flyby sequence as it was programmed with each instrument’s activities.  Here is the rundown on the major findings:The hot spots align predominantly right along the “tiger stripe” fractures at the south pole.The highest temperatures lie at certain points along the tiger stripes where plumes have been seen.Temperatures are hotter than earlier measurements: -135° F. (compared to a background temperature of less than -300° F.).  This indicates a great deal of energy is being transferred from the interior.Some transverse warm areas were detected, oriented perpendicular to the stripes.The material jets out at over 1000 mph and was strong enough to produce a measurable torque on Cassini, 120 miles away.Though most of the jets consist of ice grains 1/10,000 of an inch in diameter, simple organics were detected (methane, carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, formaldehyde) and some complex organics (propane, propyne, acetylene).No ammonia was found.  Scientists had hoped that ammonia might depress the melting point of water and make the plumes easier to explain.The plumes appear to emerge from localized regions about half a tennis court in area, but extended along narrow strips within the tiger stripes.Though this brief press flurry did not mention it, Cassini also took a gorgeous mosaic of the north pole of Enceladus – including areas not previously imaged at high resolution.  The mosaic can be seen at the Imaging Team catalog page for March 13.    Leader of the INMS (Ion and Neutral Mass Spectrometer) instrument Hunter Waite (Southwest Research Institute, San Antonio) was most surprised that the chemical brew emerging from the plumes resembles that of a comet.  Enceladus is obviously not a comet.  He described the cocktail as being “like carbonated water with an essence of natural gas.”    At this time, no one speculated about the origin of the plumes or how they could be maintained for billions of years.  John Spencer of the CIRS team (Composite Infrared Spectrometer) did say that the temperatures could be hotter further down enough to allow for liquid water.    Water – that was the magic word.  The astrobiologists kicked into gear.  “Enceladus has got warmth, water and organic chemicals, some of the essential building blocks needed for life,” said Dennis Matson, project scientist (cf. 03/19/2008).  “We have quite a recipe for life on our hands, but we have yet to find the final ingredient, liquid water, but Enceladus is only whetting our appetites for more.”  These thoughts were also echoed on the NASA TV press briefing as if scripted.  Matson and astrobiologist Chris McKay in a related feature talked about the feasibility of exotic life and contrasted the “primordial soup theory” with the “deep sea vent theory.”  Either theory would work on Enceladus, they claimed.  The confidence that life is nearly inevitable contrasted starkly against an admitted background of ignorance and controversy: “We don’t know how long it takes for life to start when the ingredients are there and the environment is suitable, but it appears to have happened quickly on Earth,” the article said.  Then, with a bow to a Darwin metaphor, it continued, “So maybe it was possible that on Enceladus, life started in a ‘warm little pond’ below the icy surface occurring over the last few tens of millions of years.”  More observations will be needed, of course.    And indeed, more observations are on the way.  A series of close encounters with Enceladus has been planned during Cassini’s extended mission, which begins (pending final approval) on July 1.  The next is in August.  The cameras, which were not the prime instruments for the recent flyby, will have a chance to take extreme high-resolution photos of the tiger stripes, and the Cosmic Dust Analyzer (CDA), which failed to operate, will get one more optimal chance to collect geyser particles.  Seven more close flybys are planned through 2009.    The March 12 encounter dipped 30 miles from the surface at closest approach; some of the daring flybys to come will be even closer – fast, low, and maybe even more thrilling.  The little 300-mile-wide moon Enceladus seems to be a strong contender for Best Actor of the Saturn awards.Good grief, Enceladus has nothing to do with life.  This is the distracting emotional appeal like the scantily-clad woman beside the truck at the used car lot.  NASA throws in the distraction at every mention of the word water in a vain belief that it will garner public support for the space program.  As could be expected, right on cue, National Geographic News picked up on this theme as the major aspect of the story.  Dave Mosher at Space.com even said “seeds of life found near Saturn.”  Incredible.  All they found was poison gas like methane and acetylene, folks!  Go experiment with your barbecue.  Write us if anything crawls out except the spider that took up residence there over the winter.    The scientists totally avoided the age issue today.  John Spencer has frankly admitted being completely baffled and embarrassed that the science community has no answer for where this little moon got its energy, or for how it could maintain it over billions of years.  Their plight has only gotten worse since the discovery of the plumes in 2005.  Recall that yesterday (03/25/2008, footnote to main entry) we highlighted a new paper in next month’s Icarus that struck down both tidal heating and radioactivity – the leading theoretical possibilities – as plausible sources of the heat.  That makes the scientists’ focus on exotic life even more distracting, as if the emperor, once exposed, quickly points to the sky and waxes eloquent about how the cloud shapes appear so very lifelike.  Let’s watch instead how his minions are going to robe their little embarrassment now that King Billions-of-Years has mooned the crowd.(Visited 10 times, 1 visits today)FacebookTwitterPinterestSave分享0last_img read more

first_imgShare Facebook Twitter Google + LinkedIn Pinterest A proposal by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service would hold transporters responsible for the mistreatment of livestock.An advanced copy of the notice was posted on the FSIS website on Friday, Oct. 7, and is expected to be published in the Federal Register soon after. The advanced copy could be subject to minor changes.“The Food Safety and Inspection Service is announcing its intent to hold livestock owners, transporters, haulers and other persons not employed by an official establishment responsible if they commit acts involving inhumane handling of livestock in connection with slaughter when on the premises of an official establishment,” the notice states. “FSIS believes these actions will further improve the welfare of livestock handled in connection with slaughter by ensuring that all persons that inhumanely handle livestock in connection with slaughter are held accountable.”Currently, the operators of farms and slaughterhouses are the ones held accountable for mistreatment of livestock on their property.“Livestock transporters or haulers transport animals to slaughter establishments,” the notice states. “Many of these individuals are not employed by the establishment and thus are not required to follow instructions from the establishment on the handling of livestock in connection with slaughter.”In January 2015, FSIS received a petition from the attorney of a swine slaughter establishment requesting that the agency review its humane handling enforcement policy. The petition stated that official establishments should not be held accountable when non-employees inhumanely handle livestock on the official establishment premises.According to the notice, FSIS will initiate action solely against the non-employee if it is determined that the non-employee is solely responsible.“For example, if Office of Field Operations personnel observe a non-employee driving animals too fast and causing a few to slip and fall, and establishment employees are not involved in the event, FSIS will initiate action against the non-employee and will not take an administrative enforcement action against the establishment,” the notice states.If employees and non-employees are involved in abuse, FSIS would take action against the non-employee and take a regulatory control action or administration enforcement action against the establishment.FSIS will request comments on this notice. The agency plans to begin implementing the policy 90 days after its publication in the Federal Register, unless it receives comments that demonstrate a need to revise the policy.last_img read more

first_img9 Books That Make Perfect Gifts for Industry Ex… News broke earlier this week of a new hack to Nintendo’s Wii U that would allow gamers to play unauthorized (read: pirated) games. Nintendo immediately disputed it. But whether it’s true or not, the Wii U will most certainly be hacked before long — and that fact tells us a lot about the increasingly tense arms race being waged between console manufacturers and hackers.Users have been hacking their consoles — in the sense of writing new games and implementing new functions of their operating systems — since the dawn of gaming. But back when the hardware of your 1970s era console only slightly resembled the inside of your computer, it was more of a hobby and less of a widespread movement. In fact, you can blame game developers, not ordinary users, for modern anti-hacking measures. The Atari 2600, released in 1977, had no software restrictions at all, and neither did competing consoles. This left developers free to create a flood of terrible and low quality games that overwhelmed consumers and led to the great video game crash of 1983 — the industry’s first major recession. Nintendo Clamps DownThat changed with the rise of Nintendo, which sought to reverse Atari’s openness in favor of tight control over console technology and a business model that relied on revenue from licenses sold to game developers. Nintendo sought to ensure high-quality games by retaining the sole right to approve them — and by locking out rivals and hackers who might create their own.Overnight, the challenge for hackers flipped from exploiting the potential of Atari’s open platform to finding ways to circumvent Nintendo’s lockout chip. It’s a cycle that’s continued to this day. Today, the Internet makes it easier than ever for hackers to collaborate and distribute exploits that allow even average players to bypass the lockdowns on their consoles.If the Wii U has indeed been hacked, then it will join the ranks of the Playstation 3, Playstation 2, XBox 360, Xbox, Wii, Nintendo DS, and PSP. All of these consoles can be jailbroken like iPhones, ready to run whichever programs their owners choose. That could mean running an operating system like Linux on your XBox, loading homebrew, or original, games on your Wii, or playing pirating copies of commercial games on your PS3. Hackers Rev Up The Arms Race…Obviously I don’t endorse piracy, and even at its most innocuous, console hacking lies in a legal gray area. (The Electronic Frontier Foundation is trying to change that.)But it’s hard to imagine that hackers will — or can — be stopped. Locking down consoles seems to do little, if anything, to slow down people intent on hacking anyway. The more restrictions console manufacturers apply, the more it appears to spur hackers into trying to remove them. Or just enrage them. For instance, Sony’s PlayStation Network —its online game service — was hacked shortly after Sony removed support for Linux on the PS3. Sony’s retroactive cutoff of the one place hackers could play around in the console could easily have incited the attacks in response. Of course, the PSN hack was very different from console “jailbreaks,” not least because it may also have resulted in credit-card fraud following the theft of user data.…And So Do Game CompaniesYet console manufacturers won’t give up, either. Their lockdowns are mostly ineffective against hackers, but they do plenty to make it not worth the average player’s time. If there was no lockdown at all, anyone could burn illegal copies of games on CDs to share.The big console makers also have an incentive to hold onto all the money they can get. Aside from pirates, consoles face a slew of big challenges, not least among them a robust second-hand game market they would dearly love to kill off and a profusion of 99-cent game apps that are frequently just as fun to play as the $60 monsters produced by big game developers.Of course, this entire mode of thinking could go out the window when the Ouya is out this summer. The world’s first “pre-hacked” console is a throwback to the fully open Atari. The very fact that it earned $8 million while still a concept shows a high demand for a open-source system, but time will tell if it inherits the Atari’s woes or finds a way to make it work.Photo courtesy of Nintendo Related Posts 4 Keys to a Kid-Safe App lauren orsinicenter_img 12 Unique Gifts for the Hard-to-Shop-for People… Tags:#Console#gaming#hack#Homebrew#Wii U 5 Outdoor Activities for Beating Office Burnoutlast_img read more