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Detroit struggling to embrace it's demolition

To Save Itself, Detroit Is Razing Itself - NYTimes.com
“There’s nothing you can do with a lot of the buildings now but do away with them,” said Mae Reeder, a homeowner of 35 years on the southeast side, where her bungalow is surrounded by blocks that are being reclaimed by nature, complete with pheasants nesting in vacant spaces where people once lived. The residential vacancy rate in Detroit is 27.8 percent. This is up from the 10.3 percent rate found in 2000 by the United States census. “People are deciding we can’t live like this anymore,” said Steven A. Ogden, executive director of a nonprofit group, Next Detroit Neighborhood Initiative, which works to help stabilize communities. “It is my contention that we can’t afford to wait a single day without a strategy.” Strategies are now coming from every corner, with community groups and nonprofit organization and trade groups producing frameworks. The burst of creativity is partly a function of desperation. For the sixth decade in a row, this year’s census will bring bad news: the population, already sparsely distributed over a vast 139 square miles, has declined again, to an estimated 790,000 residents, down from 951,000 people in 2000 and a high of almost 2 million in 1950. Population loss was hastened in the last few years, experts said, by the twin blows of the foreclosure crisis and jobs lost to the recession. . . . After decades of mostly ignoring its hemorrhaging population, the city government earlier this year began using federal money to demolish 10,000 empty residential buildings, with a goal of bringing down the first 3,000 structures by the end of the year. But only 784 demolitions have been completed so far, and Mayor Dave Bing, whose predecessors were chastised at the mere mention of large-scale demolition, has been criticized not for embracing the idea but for failing to articulate a long-term vision.

June 20, 2010

Israel slightly eases their siege of Gaza

But this is still Israel, so who knows how long it'll last. I give it a month before they lock the Gazans down again. Israel to allow more 'civilian' goods into Gaza - Yahoo! News
JERUSALEM (AFP) – Israel announced it will allow all strictly "civilian" goods into Gaza while preventing certain weapons and dual-use items from entering the Hamas-run Palestinian enclave. The new policy is a response to mounting calls to ease Israel's four-year siege on the coastal enclave after Israeli forces killed nine activists during a May 31 raid on a flotilla of aid ships attempting to run the blockade. "The Israeli government has today taken additional steps to further enable the flow of civilian goods to the civilian population of the Gaza Strip," said government spokesman Mark Regev. "From now on, there is a green light approval for all goods to enter Gaza except for military items and materials that can strengthen Hamas's military machine," he said. The United States welcomed the announcement, saying it strongly backs Israel's plans to ease the blockade and believes it will greatly improve living conditions in the impoverished enclave.

June 16, 2010

How Not To Smuggle Drugs

Feds: Woman took 506 pounds of pot to Ohio on jet - Yahoo! News
COLUMBUS, Ohio – A California woman traveling with a bodyguard on a private jet was arrested at an Ohio airport with 506 pounds of marijuana stashed in 13 suitcases, federal authorities said. Lisette Lee, the bodyguard and two personal assistants were arrested Monday night after the Drug Enforcement Administration got a tip that the 28-year-old woman was traveling with a suspicious amount of luggage. After the chartered plane landed in Columbus, one of Lee's assistants and her bodyguard helped baggage workers unload some of the luggage, authorities said. It took two men to carry some of the large suitcases, which were packed with bricks of pot, and three vehicles to carry all the luggage, authorities said. Authorities also confiscated from Lee's bag three cell phones, cocaine, marijuana, drug paraphernalia and suspected drug ledgers that showed some $300,000 in transactions.

Prop 8 supporters want to annul 18,000 marriages in California

Prop. 8 forces target 18,000 same-sex marriages
As the trial over California's prohibition on same-sex marriage enters its final stage Wednesday, the ban's sponsors are urging the judge to go a step further and revoke state recognition of the marriages of 18,000 gay and lesbian couples who wed before voters passed Proposition 8. Such an order would honor "the expressed will of the people," backers of the November 2008 ballot measure said Tuesday in their final written filing before Chief U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker. Andrew Pugno, an attorney for Prop. 8's backers, said in an interview that the sponsors aren't asking Walker to nullify the 18,000 marriages, but only to rule that government agencies, courts and businesses no longer have to recognize the couples as married. Lawyers for two same-sex couples who sued to overturn Prop. 8, on the other hand, are asking Walker to lift the marriage ban permanently. The measure violates the constitutional guarantee of equality, they argued, and must be struck down "regardless of its level of public support."