Atlanta Mayor says the MLB moving All-Star Game from Georgia ‘is likely the first of many dominoes to fall’ in pushback against new voting law

Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms
Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms.

  • Mayor Bottoms said that the MLB’s decision to pull the All-Star Game from Atlanta would hit the area hard.
  • “Just as elections have consequences, so do the actions of those who are elected,” she wrote.
  • GOP Gov. Brian Kemp has lashed out at critics of the controversial new voting bill.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms on Friday said that Major League Baseball’s decision to move the All-Star Game out of Georgia over its controversial new voting law is “likely” the start of more actions taken against the state.

While speaking out against the law on Twitter, Bottoms emphasized the economic harm that such a backlash will cause throughout Georgia.

“Just as elections have consequences, so do the actions of those who are elected,” she wrote. “Unfortunately, the removal of the MLB All Star game from GA is likely the 1st of many dominoes to fall, until the unnecessary barriers put in place to restrict access to the ballot box are removed.”

She added: “Boycotts in GA will hit the metro Atlanta hardest and have a ripple effect across the state. Small businesses, corporations that support our communities, and everyday working people will suffer. It is not too late to right this sinking ship.

MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred expressed on Friday that the decision to move the All-Star Game and MLB Draft was “the best way to demonstrate our values as a sport.”

“Major League Baseball fundamentally supports voting rights for all Americans and opposes restrictions to the ballot box,” he said in a statement. “Fair access to voting continues to have our game’s unwavering support.”

Since the law’s passage on March 25, major corporations, including Delta Airlines and Coca-Cola under pressure from politicians and activists, have more forcefully come out against its restrictive measures.

The conservative-backed law tightens election rules in the state by limiting drop boxes, strengthening voter identification requirements, blocking the usage of mobile voting vans, and even banning water and food from being distributed to voters waiting in line, among other measures.

GOP Gov. Brian Kemp, who signed the bill into law, flatly rejects claims that it reinforces voter suppression and said that the law makes it “easy to vote and hard to cheat.”

Read more: Here are 9 hurdles Biden’s infrastructure plan would have to overcome in Congress before it can become law

On Friday, the governor lashed out at MLB’s decision on Fox News, accusing the organization of adhering to “cancel culture.”

Kemp continued to express his displeasure with the situation on Twitter, lashing out at prominent Democrats.

“This attack on our state is the direct result of repeated lies from [President] Joe Biden and [former Georgia state House Minority Leader] Stacey Abrams about a bill that expands access to the ballot box and ensures the integrity of our elections,” he wrote. “I will not back down. Georgians will not be bullied. We will continue to stand up for secure, accessible, fair elections.”

Abrams, who was narrowly defeated by Kemp in the state’s 2018 gubernatorial race and could potentially run against the incumbent governor in 2022, said on Friday that she was “disappointed” by the move but was “proud” of the MLB’s support of voting rights.

“Like many Georgians, I am disappointed that the MLB is relocating the All-Star game; however, I commend the players, owners and League commissioner for speaking out,” she said in a statement. “As I have stated, I respect boycotts, although I don’t want to see Georgia families hurt by lost events and jobs. Georgians targeted by voter suppression will be hurt as opportunities go to other states. We should not abandon the victims of GOP malice and lies – we must stand together.”

Former President Barack Obama on Saturday praised the decision, making a nod to the late baseball icon Hank Aaron, who faced racial threats throughout his professional baseball career.

“Congratulations to MLB for taking a stand on behalf of voting rights for all citizens,” he wrote. “There’s no better way for America’s pastime to honor the great Hank Aaron, who always led by example.”

As of Saturday, MLB has not revealed the new host city for the 2021 All-Star Game.

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A Georgia lawmaker was charged with a felony while protesting Gov. Brian Kemp’s signing of a new voter reform bill

georgia rep park cannon atlanta arrested
State Rep. Park Cannon, D-Atlanta, is placed into the back of a Georgia State Capitol patrol car after being arrested by Georgia State Troopers at the Georgia State Capitol Building in Atlanta, Thursday, March 25, 2021.

  • Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp signed a sweeping election reform bill into law Thursday.
  • As he announced the bill, Democratic Rep. Park Cannon was filmed knocking on Kemp’s door.
  • Cannon was arrested and charged with obstruction as a result of the incident.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Georgia state Rep. Park Cannon was arrested on Thursday and charged with felony obstruction as Georgia’s Gov. Brian Kemp signed a controversial new voting reform bill into law.

Cannon was detained after knocking on Kemp’s door.

Kemp, a Republican, was announcing the signing of the bill over a live stream when he was interrupted by Cannon, a Democrat. Cannon’s arrest was also captured during a live stream, as the lawmaker was joined by others who came to the state Capitol in Atlanta to protest the bill.

According to a statement provided to Insider from Georgia State Patrol, Cannon continued to knock on the door after police told her to stop.

“She was advised that she was disturbing what was going on inside and if she did not stop, she would be placed under arrest,” the statement said. After knocking more, police said she was again told she would be arrested for obstruction and removed from the building.

Videos posted on Twitter showed the moment of the arrest. Cannon can be seen talking with a police officer who is standing between her and the door. She takes a step back from the door, before again stepping up to knock and is immediately arrested by two officers.

Others present immediately begin protesting the arrest, with one asking, “Under arrest for what? For trying to see something that our governor is doing?”

“Our governor is signing a bill that affects all Georgians, and you’re going to arrest an elected representative?” the person said.

Police said Cannon was moved to the Fulton County Jail and charged with obstruction of law enforcement, a felony, and preventing or disrupting General Assembly sessions or meetings of members, a misdemeanor.

US Sen. Raphael Warnock of Georgia visited Cannon while she was being held in jail, his office told CNN.

Cannon’s office didn’t immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment.

Just after midnight, she posted on Twitter: “Hey everyone, thank you for your support. I’ve been released from jail. I am not the first Georgian to be arrested for fighting voter suppression. I’d love to say I’m the last, but we know that isn’t true.”

The controversial election reform bill signed by Kemp expands early voting in most counties and mandates identification for mail-in voting, among many other changes.

It also bans volunteers from delivering supplies, including food and water, to voters waiting in long lines and prohibits most uses of mobile voting buses.

Have a news tip? Contact this reporter at kvlamis@insider.com.

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2020 saw more gun deaths in the US than any year in over two decades, showing even a pandemic couldn’t stop the violence

gun violence
New York Police Department installs tape around crime scene on August 16, 2020, near Prospect Park in Brooklyn where fatal shooting occurred.

  • There were a record number of gun violence deaths in 2020: 19,379.
  • This represents a huge leap from recent years, and the highest number in over two decades.
  • By one definition, there were also 611 mass shootings in 2020.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Last year saw the highest number of gun violence deaths in the US in more than 20 years, even as the pandemic coincided with a relative absence of high-profile mass shootings on the scale of recent incidents in Atlanta and Boulder.

There were 19,379 gun violence deaths in the US in 2020, according to data from the nonprofit Gun Violence Archive. This statistic excludes suicides involving guns, which consistently account for a majority (roughly two-thirds) of annual US gun deaths. In 2020, Gun Violence Archive found there were 24,090 gun suicides.

Since Gun Violence Archive started tracking firearm violence in 2013, annual gun violence deaths generally fluctuated between 12,000 and 15,000. The next highest year after 2020 was 2017, when there were 15,718 gun violence deaths.

The recent shootings in Georgia and Colorado, which both occured less than a week apart, led many on social media to suggest that the easing of COVID-19 restrictions and gradual return to normalcy would translate into a spike in mass shootings in 2021.

Former President Barack Obama, for example, in a statement responding to the Atlanta and Boulder shootings said, “A once-in-a-century pandemic cannot be the only thing that slows mass shootings in this country.”

But mass shootings actually increased in 2020 as compared to 2019, according to Gun Violence Archive, which defines mass shootings as four or more people being shot or killed in a single incident (excluding the shooter). There were 611 mass shootings in 2020, up from 417 in 2019.

That said, there is not a universally agreed upon definition of mass shootings. Gun Violence Archive’s standard is fairly broad compared to those used by other databases that define mass shootings as an incident in which four or more are fatally shot, not including the shooter.

But many experts say that defining mass shootings based on how many are shot rather than the number killed offers a fuller picture of the scale of gun violence in the US. It also helps highlight incidents that generally don’t make headlines and disproportionately impact Black Americans and people of color. Public mass shootings also account for just a fraction of total gun deaths in the US, and focusing on them can lead to myopic perspectives on gun violence.

“The difference between a fatality and a survivor might be simply a matter of marksmanship,” Dr. Garen Wintemute, an emergency medicine physician and director of the University of California Firearm Violence Research Center, recently told ABC News. “There’s no such thing as an insignificant life. We pay extra attention when a bunch of lives are lost all at once in a single event. We’re less aware of all the people who die or are shot or survive one at a time.”

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Sen. Raphael Warnock says ‘we need reasonable gun reform in our country’ in response to ‘tragic’ Atlanta-area shootings

raphael warnock
Sen. Raphael Warnock, D-Ga., arrives prior to the start of arguments in the second impeachment trial of former President Donald Trump, at the Capitol, Wednesday, Feb. 10, 2021 in Washington.

Sen. Raphael Warnock of Georgia said the US needed “reasonable gun reform in our country” in response to the Atlanta-area shootings that left eight people dead.

“We need reasonable gun reform in our country,” Warnock said on NBC’s “Meet the Press” Sunday. “This shooter was able to kill all of these folks the same day he purchased a firearm. But right now, what is our legislature doing? They’re busy under the gold dome in Georgia trying to prevent people from being able to vote the same day they register.”

He continued: “When you can buy a gun and create this much carnage and violence on the same day, but if you want to exercise your right to vote as an American citizen… the same legislature that should be focused on this, is busy erecting barriers to that constitutional right.”

Last week, a white gunman, 21-year-old white man, Robert Aaron Long, was arrested and charged for shootings at spas in the Atlanta-area earlier this week. Six of eight people who died during the attack were women of Asian descent.

“We all know hate when we see it. It is tragic that we’ve been visited with this kind of violence yet again,” Warnock said in the interview. “I’m going to do everything in my power as a United States Senator to make sure that families don’t have to endure this kind of violence in the first place.”

Long told law enforcement that he had a “sex addiction” and that the attack was not racially motivated, however, advocates are pushing back against that claim. The shootings came amid a rise in hate against the Asian American community during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Warnock, along with Sen. Jon Ossoff and state Rep. Bee Nguyen attended a rally on Saturday condemning hate crimes against the Asian American community, the Associated Press reported.

“I just wanted to drop by to say to my Asian sisters and brothers, we see you, and, more importantly, we are going to stand with you,” Warnock said during the rally, according to the AP.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Police ignored the role of race and gender in the Georgia shootings. Here’s what Asian advocates in Atlanta are saying about it

Atl Flowers
Lijing Zhao lays a bouquet of flowers outside a spa where four people were shot and killed on March 17, 202. in Acworth, Georgia.

  • Georgia activists have mobilized to help the families of six Asian women killed on March 16.
  • The attack has forced a conversation over misogyny and hypersexualization directed at Asian women.
  • Georgia officials came under fire for accepting the alleged shooter’s narrative of the attack.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

E. Lim had little time to process the brutal attack that claimed the lives of six Asian women and two others at three Metro-Atlanta spas.

As the organizing and civic engagement director for Asian Americans Advancing Justice-Atlanta, Lim-like many of their colleagues-was in response mode. Atlanta born and raised and a local organizer since 2015, Lim told Insider their initial reaction was to detach from the killings.

“I’ve had to dissociate so hard, because I know people in similar situations,” said Lim referring to the common experience of sexual harassment and sexual assault in the workplace.

The horrific violence that unfolded on Tuesday night in Atlanta has forced a national conversation over the long history of anti-Asian violence and discrimination, as well as the misogyny and hypersexualization directed at Asian women in this country.

The official narrative of what happened, which seemed to accept the explanation given by the assailant, has also galvanized Asian-American activists and organizers in Georgia to turn this into a teachable moment.

“It is racialized,” said Lim. “When you talk about ‘massage parlors’ and then talk about how sex work might be involved, you’re talking about race.”

A statement condemning systemic racism and gender-based violence had 180 signatories from state and national organizations, said Stephanie Cho, director of the AAAJ-Atlanta. The group is fundraising to support the families of those killed.

“White supremacy is literally killing us,” said Cho. “Asian American communities have been under the radar on this issue, but honestly, this is a time for us to really come together, be in solidarity, and really have those tough conversations community conversations around policy.

“YOU’RE TALKING ABOUT RACE”

Beginning at around 5pm on Tuesday night, a gunman attacked a massage parlor north of Atlanta, and then two other massage parlors in metro Atlanta, killing six Asian women and two others.

The Cherokee County Sheriff’s Department identified the four people killed at Young’s Asian Massage as Delaina Ashley Yaun, 33; Paul Andre Michels, 54; Xiaojie Tan, 49; and Daoyou Feng, 44. Elcias R. Hernandez-Ortiz, 30, was also injured in the shooting. As of Thursday morning, the Atlanta Police Department had not released the names of the four people killed at the two spas in Atlanta.Sent from my iPhone

Atl flowers 2
Flowers were left at one of the spas targeted in the March 16 attack.

Around 6% of the population in metro Atlanta identifies as Asian, according to Atlanta Regional Commission’s 2020 estimates. Cherokee County, where the first attack occurred, is around 2% Asian.

Almost immediately, the narrative of what had happened put forward by Georgia officials downplayed a “racial motivation” for the killings and relied on what the alleged killer had told police. Jay Baker, the spokesman for the Cherokee County Sheriff, said at a news conference that the suspect had had “a really bad day,” was “kind of at the end of his rope,” and had told police that he considers himself a “sex addict.”

But community leaders in Atlanta had a clear message: The racism and misogyny impacting Asian women must not be ignored. And even if sex work was involved, the lives of these women were no less valuable than any other.

The killings also hit home hard for Wei Jia, a local organizer, who lives about a mile from one of the spas. Echoing others, Jia told Insider that the focus on whether the perpetrator was a sex addict fit into an old trope of a Jack the Ripper like character with no real interrogation of history.

“The sheriff sympathizing with the gunman, like saying that he just had a ‘bad day’ speaks volumes,” said Jia. “He didn’t mention anything about the women that were killed. Didn’t mention anything about their families, about their lives.”

Jia pointed to the long history of dehumanizing and sexualizing Asian women: Prior to the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882, The United States banned the immigration of Chinese Women in the Page Act of 1875 under the guise of preventing sex work.

Atl white sup sign
A woman places a sign of solidarity outside a spa where four people were killed on March 17, 2021 in Acworth, Georgia.

“That a white male murdered Asian women in the United States is part of a very long history of white supremacist violence against anybody who wasn’t white,” Jia said.

Blaming an alleged sexual addiction as the motive in the killing of six Asian women and two others is itself racist, while taking the perpetrator at his word further victimized the victims and denied them their humanity, said Bentley Hudgins, a queer organizer based in Atlanta. “They’re so ready to distance themselves from calling this racist and misogyny and trying to downplay this as just like a white incel who was mad he didn’t get off that they’re missing the point entirely,” Hudgins said in an interview.

Hudgins and Jia’s comment came just hours before Buzzfeed News reported that Baker, the sheriff’s department spokesperson, posted racist anti-Asian shirts on Facebook last April that blamed China for the Covid-19 pandemic.

According to the Stop AAPI Hate reporting center, which tracks xenophobic hate against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, 3,795 incidents have been reported between last March 19 and Feb. 28 of this year. Close to 70% of the incidents were against women. In a recent survey, NAPAWF found that nearly half of Asian American and Pacific Islander women have been affected by anti-Asian racism in the past two years.

THROUGH TRAGEDY, A TEACHABLE MOMENT

Community advocates in Atlanta say they are prioritizing support for the victims’ families and the community at large, and they explained those efforts at a press conference on Wednesday.

“Much of our focus is back towards the victims and their families and really what our communities need,” Aisha Yaqoob Mahmood, executive director of the Asian American Advocacy Fund adding that legal services, mental health, and language support were needed.

Instead of allowing a sympathetic narrative toward the perpetrator to dominate coverage, attention should focus on reporting stories from the community and about how this attack impacted the community, she said. “We continue to bring the focus back to who are the most vulnerable in our communities, and working towards making sure that we can provide safety and security for us all.”

The intersection of race, gender, and class colors the response and underlying assumption made about the worth of those killed, the organizers said, while the killing of six women in the course of their work also underscores the vulnerability of those in low-wage jobs.

“This is a gender and race based violence that happened to our community,” said Leng Leng Chancey, Executive Director for 9to5, an organization focused on increasing economic security as well as political power and participation of working women.

Atl protest phone
Julie Tran holds her phone during a candlelight vigil for the Atlanta victims held in Garden Grove, California.

She pointed to the challenges of dealing with sexual harassment and assault along with other institutional barriers. “Low-wage workers already faced multiple hurdles and systemic racism every day,” Chancey said. “I mean, who can you really report this to?”

Organizers said the events of this week, horrific as they were, can serve as teachable moments for how to discuss and cover violent attacks on marginalized communities, and the importance of listening to individuals from those communities.

Shortly after the attacks, the Asian American Journalists Association issued a guidance saying the use of “massage parlor” as a descriptor to describe the business establishments is outdated and reinforces negative stereotypes that hypersexualize and dehumanize Asian women.

The guidance also stressed the need to study the context within which Asian communities are experiencing and receiving this latest news, while acknowledging the diversity within the “Asian community.”

“The media needs to understand that the Asian community is not a monolith,” Sarah Park, the president of the Atlanta chapter of the Korean American Coalition, said at Wednesday’s press conference.

“We speak over hundreds of different languages. We practice different cultural religions, we are all different individuals.”

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America has a long history of discriminating against Asians, once banning Chinese people from becoming US citizens for 60 years

Asian racism
After the internment of Japanese Americans from the Seattle region, barber G.S. Hante points proudly to his bigoted sign in 1944.

  • The US has seen a major rise in anti-Asian hate crimes and racism over the past year.
  • There’s a long history of discrimination against Asians in the US.
  • Understanding this history could be crucial to combatting the rising tide of anti-Asian hate today.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

The US has seen a wave of anti-Asian hate crimes over the past year, sparking calls for law enforcement and leaders in Washington to ramp up efforts to combat discrimination against the Asian community.

Congressional lawmakers met with prominent Asian Americans on Thursday as part of a hearing focused on the rising tide of anti-Asian discrimination nationwide, just two days after a series of shootings at three Atlanta-area massage parlors left eight people dead – including six Asian women.

Between March 2020 and late February 2021, there were roughly 3,800 anti-Asian racist incidents reported across the US, with 68% coming from women, according to new data released by reporting forum Stop AAPI Hate. Women reported hate incidents 2.3 times more than men, the report said.

Anti-Asian hate crimes increased by 150% in 2020 from the year prior, according to an analysis of hate crimes in 16 US cities recently released by the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at California State University, San Bernardino

The COVID-19 pandemic has fueled much of this anti-Asian racism and xenophobia. Many Republican leaders, including former President Donald Trump, have poured gasoline on the fire by insisting on calling COVID-19 the “Chinese virus.”

Though there’s been a significant rise in discrimination against the Asian community in the past year, it’s also nothing new. This brand of hatred is part of a long tradition in the US. Indeed, anti-Asian racism has played a major role in the American story.

In the 19th century, xenophobia and nativist sentiments drove the US to adopt what was effectively a whites-only immigration policy. Congress passed the Chinese Exclusion Act in 1882, which barred Chinese workers from coming to the US and blocked Chinese nationals in the US from becoming citizens. The Chinese Exclusion Act was the first law in US history that explicitly prohibited immigration on the basis of race.

“Beginning in 1882, the United States stopped being a nation of immigrants that welcomed foreigners without restrictions, borders or gates,” Erika Lee, a professor at the University of Minnesota, said in her book At America’s Gates: Chinese Immigration During The Exclusion Era, 1882-1943. “In the process, the very definition of what it meant to be an ‘American’ became even more exclusionary.” America became a “gatekeeping nation” with the passage of the Chinese Exclusion Act, Lee said.

The law remained in force for six decades before it was replaced by the Magnuson Act in 1943, which was still quite restrictive and only permitted a quota of 105 Chinese immigrants annually. Immigration law in the US would continue to discriminate against Asians in major ways until the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965, which abolished the national-origins quota system.

The Chinese Exclusion Act is just one example of the myriad forms of discrimination people of Asian descent have faced in the US. During World War II, for example, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066, forcing over 100,000 people of Japanese descent into detention camps in the US.

The order was largely motivated by anti-Japanese sentiments after the attack on Pearl Harbor. Japanese Americans in the western US faced suspicion and rampant discrimination, even as many in the community served in the war – and in many cases were thrown into some of the most dangerous missions in Europe.

Of the people pushed into these internment camps during the war, roughly 80,000 were US citizens. The order also impacted some German and Italian Americans, but the vast majority of detainees were of Japanese descent.

The US government has made efforts to apologize for discriminatory actions against the Asian community, including the internment of Japanese Americans, but the hateful sentiments that contributed to these moves persist. Understanding this history could be crucial to thwarting the ongoing discrimination against Asians in the US.

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5 key moments from Congress’ hearing about anti-Asian violence in the wake of the Atlanta shootings

rep grace meng
Rep. Grace Meng, D-N.Y., speaks during a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington on Wednesday, May 27, 2020.

  • Two days after the Atlanta shootings, the House held a hearing to address anti-Asian violence.
  • One Republican lawmaker pointed the finger at China and invoked a saying glorifying lynchings.
  • Democrats zeroed in on Trump’s rhetoric and witnesses described the US’s history of scapegoating immigrants.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

A House judiciary subcommittee held a hearing Thursday to address discrimination and violence against Asian-Americans. The nonprofit organization Stop AAPI Hate has documented nearly 3,800 incidents of physical assault, shunning, verbal and online harassment, and civil rights violations against the AAPI community in the US since March 2020, when COVID-19 cases began to surge.

In addition to taking place amid a spike in anti-Asian violence across the country, Thursday’s hearing came days after a series of deadly shootings at three Atlanta-area massage parlors that killed eight people, six of whom were Asian women. Robert Aaron Long, a 21-year-old white man, has been arrested and charged with murder in connection to the shootings.

Here are 5 key moments from Thursday’s hearing

  • Rep. Chip Roy employed whataboutism to point the finger at China.
    • “I think the Chinese Communist Party running the country of China, I think they are the bad guys,” the Texas Republican said. “I think that they are harming people and I think they are engaging in modern day slavery.”
    • What they are doing to Uighurs … what they are doing targeting our country … what they are doing to undermine our national security, and what they are doing to steal our intellectual property, and what they are doing to build up their military and rattle throughout the Pacific, I think it’s patently evil and deserving of condemnation,” he added. “And I think that what they did to hide the reality of this virus is equally deserving of condemnation.”
  • Roy quoted an old saying glorifying lynchings at a hearing about racist violence.
    • All “victims of race-based violence and their families deserve justice,” Roy said. He then tacked on: “There’s old sayings in Texas about find all the rope in Texas and get a tall oak tree. You know, we take justice very seriously, and we ought to do that. Round up the bad guys.”

  • Rep. Grace Meng grew emotional while firing back at Roy.
    • “Your president and your party and your colleagues can talk about issues with any other country that you want, but you don’t have to do it by putting a bullseye on the back of Asian-Americans across this country, on our grandparents, on our kids,” Meng said.
    • The New York congresswoman choked up as she continued, “This hearing was to address the hurt and pain of our community and to find solutions, and we will not let you take our voice away from us.”
  • Democrats accuse Trump and Republicans of fueling anti-Asian hate by using inflammatory rhetoric about COVID-19.
    • Several Democratic lawmakers skewered the former president and his allies for using terms like “Wuhan virus,” “China virus,” and “Kung flu” to describe the coronavirus pandemic.
    • “As we look at the outrage, let me put into the record: the 45th president always referred to coronavirus as the ‘China virus’ or ‘Kung flu,'” said Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee of Texas. “Let me call his name: President Trump.”
    • “The rise of hate crimes against Asian-Americans is inherently tied to anti-Asian American rhetoric, some of which has come out of this very chamber,” said freshman congresswoman Cori Bush. She went on to say that when such rhetoric is used by historically privileged groups, they “have to own that it causes harm to people, especially people of color” because there are “lives at stake.”
  • Witnesses highlighted the US’s long history of scapegoating immigrants and minorities in times of crisis.
    • “As shocking as these incidents are, it is so vital to understand that they are not random acts perpetrated by deranged individuals,” said Erika Lee, a professor of history and Asian-American studies at the University of Minnesota. “They are an expression of our country’s long history of systemic racism targeting Asian-Americans and Pacific Islanders.”
    • “We have heard in the past 24 hours many describe anti-Asian discrimination and racial violence as un-American,” she added. “Unfortunately, it is very American.”
Read the original article on Business Insider

The 14 best Airbnbs in Atlanta, from a downtown luxury apartment to a secluded tree house in the suburbs

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Best Airbnbs in Atlanta

  • Lively outdoor dining, entertainment, and activities make Atlanta an attractive place to visit.
  • Nature enthusiasts will also find rivers, trails, and parks to explore in the “City in a Forest.”
  • We’ve chosen well-located Airbnbs in the city and just beyond, ranging from $75 to $169 a night.

The historically busiest airport in all of America may be a little less so these days due to the ongoing pandemic, and Atlanta’s famous nightlife is a little more subdued due to related restrictions in place, but that doesn’t mean the Big A’s asleep. There’s no mistaking that the vibrant capital of Georgia is still hot, and heating up even further alongside the weather.

The city’s gorgeous climate means mild, short winters and lots of sunshine, which makes it especially appealing thanks to a longer season for COVID-conscious outdoor dining and activities. Miles of green space, like city parks, playgrounds, raw and paved trails like the BeltLine and Silver Comet, and the wide, chill- or thrilled-filled (depending on your chosen activity) Chattahoochee River ensure you don’t forget that this bustling destination is also known as “The City in the Forest.” Not to mention the architectural gems that take visitors on a time-traveling tour of design and innovation, despite the city’s infamous torching amidst the Civil War.

All of these provide crowd-free alternatives to the traditional nightlife allure of Atlanta. And another smart way to stay socially distant is to book a private Airbnb, which the CDC and experts have confirmed is a safer option compared to hotel stays. To provide yet greater peace of mind, Airbnb requires all hosts to adhere to their new, stringent Enhanced Clean Protocol guidelines.

So if you’re ready to see why so many Fortune 500 companies, studios, and startups are being drawn to the dazzle of the “Hollywood of the South” and want to explore why it’s become the fourth fastest-growing region in America, we have you covered on where to stay.

We rounded up the best Airbnbs in Atlanta based on the following criteria:

  1. We only included entire homes or standalone guesthouses with private entrances, per current expert recommendations.
  2. All are highly rated with a 4.6 score or higher, with the exception of a couple brand-new listings that are not yet rated.
  3. Some listings are technically in neighborhoods OTP (Outside the Perimeter), but in ones with their own attractions and that are still relatively convenient to the city’s center. I not only used my own knowledge as a local, but also consulted with Atlanta native and top realtor, Ariel Baverman of Keller Williams First Atlanta to ensure all listings are in desirable areas, from long-time downtown favorites to up-and-coming gems.
  4. We’ve kept affordability in mind, but chosen a range of rentals to suit various price points from $75 to $169 per night to start.
  5. Every property is a standout in either design, location, history, amenities, or uniqueness.

Here are the best Airbnbs in Atlanta, sorted by price from low to high.

Private guesthouse near historic Marietta Square, $75

Private guesthouse near historic Marietta Square

Book this private guesthouse starting from $75 per night 

Like a stay at grandma’s house, this guesthouse feels homey, comfortable, and familiar, with simple but fun accents from the yellow bed quilt and floral ottoman to the antique pinball machine in the living area. The home also has a private patio that overlooks the main house, which was built during WWII for the nearby Lockheed airplane factory — a great example of working-class housing during that time. 

Be aware that this guesthouse is located on the same property as the host’s main home, but it is entirely separate and has its own private entrance. The grassy lawn provides a nice area to play or enjoy a picnic, and an extra Twin rollaway bed makes this a nice option for small families.

Located just six blocks from Marietta Square, which you might recognize from “Dumb and Dumber To” and the upcoming Aretha Franklin documentary, “Genius: Aretha,” this area less than half an hour from Midtown Atlanta is rife with charm. Its picturesque square is surrounded by trendy and traditional eateries, shops, and even breweries, and offers events both big and small, such as Taste of Marietta and Tuesday night bluegrass.

On the other side of the square, by the Marietta Museum of History, is the Marietta Square Market, an urban-style food hall with some of the best affordable, casual dining in Atlanta. Its parking lot turns into a bustling farmer’s market on weekends that’s ideal for grabbing some snacks before or after a self-led tour of the many uniquely designed historic homes that line nearby Cherokee, Whitlock, and Church Streets.

Book your stay from May onwards; it’s fully reserved until then.

Vinings loft with air hockey table near Truist Park, $79

Vinings loft with air hockey table

Book this loft starting from $79 per night 

Just across the ‘Hootch from the Paces division in upscale Buckhead, this unique neighborhood is among the city’s most desired. It’s here that the walkable Vinings Jubilee shopping center is located, with specialty stores and restaurants inlaid in a village-like design. This area is home to the historic Old Vinings Inn and the iconic Canoe restaurant, as well as residential neighborhoods with homes set to stun. Closer still is Truist Park, where the Braves and local residents play, and Cumberland Mall, the first four-anchor mall built in Georgia. 

Vinings also puts you right at the foot of some great trails along the river, but staying at this loft, you needn’t go too far to get your workout in. Located within a development, there’s a walking trail right on property, along with shared tennis courts, and a resort-style pool. Not to mention the fitness center and on-site studio great for yoga, spin, pilates, or barre workouts. 

This listing boasts steel cable-strung stairs that lead to a roomy loft bedroom, with sunlight streaming in from a row of windows at the base of the dramatically high ceilings. Below, you’ll find a blue velvet couch, a four-person dining table, and a full kitchen with granite countertops. There’s even an air hockey table for those who want a little friendly competition.

For the best outdoor views, head to the patio around the lake in the complex. There, bistro tables give guests a spot to take a deep breath and enjoy some sunshine. 

The calendar is wide open for this new listing, so stake your claim now.

Creekside studio with an indoor spa, $88

Private Marsh Creek escape indoor spa

Book this creekside studio starting from $88 per night 

The Chattahoochee Plantation neighborhood is unique not just for its architecturally diverse mega-mansions and its many entrances to the nature preserves along the banks of the Chattahoochee River, but also for its stubborn history. For years, this tiny, ten-foot by seven-mile city was the only thing standing between the city of Atlanta creeping into the boundaries of Cobb County just north of Sandy Springs.

This studio is on the Atlanta side of the river to its obstinate neighbors on gawp-able Paper Mill Road, Columns Drive, and Atlanta Country Club Drive, but gives you plenty to go ga-ga over right on the grounds. Attached to a huge contemporary home overlooking a scenic wooded creek, it has its own private entrance. Just inside, you’ll find an absolutely spectacular indoor pool and hot tub. 

Under soaring ceilings held up with exposed beams are walls of windows and a posh seating area with cabana curtains for privacy, creating an experience not unlike an oversized hydrotherapy room in an upscale resort spa. From there, a back deck and outdoor grill are at guest disposal to better enjoy Marsh Creek views. 

This home has good availability over the next few months.

Backyard treehouse-style cabin, $96

Treehouse at Pine Meadows

Book this backyard cabin starting from $96 per night 

For anybody who ever wanted a tree house as a child and now wants style and character as an adult, this novel rental is just the ticket. Half an hour out from Midtown Atlanta in the suburb of Kennesaw, near the mountain, battlefield, and university of that same name, is this charmer with its own private driveway. Once parked, follow the outdoor string lights to find a handcrafted staircase the leads to a vintage front door. 

The exterior is all rough, raw wood, but the inside is a quintessential example of the rustic-chic farmhouse aestehtic. Tall ceilings soar up to a high peak over a stained glass window, while additional floor-to-ceiling windows lend light and airiness to the space. Hardwood flooring, stunningly distressed, contrasts with clean-whitewashed wood plank walls, and a country chandelier hanging over the bed. Antique-style accents like a reading chair, handmade bench, and 100-year-old cabinet are offset by modern amenities like an electric fireplace, heating, air conditioning, and Wi-Fi. 

Outside are two rocking chairs, set on a porch that overlooks a backyard meadow. Steps from there is a surprisingly nice outhouse with a composting toilet and a sink powered by a manual water dispenser. Guests staying for two or more nights get use of a basement shower just 30 steps away.

Stays are available as soon as you’re ready; dates are widely open.

Luxurious all-glass apartment in Midtown, $97

Highrise Luxury Midtown All Glass Huge Balcony HM

Book this luxury apartment starting from $97 per night 

This stunning space in Midtown is everything city-lovers imagine in an upscale urban high-rise, including its prime location. Eye-level with the skyline, you can plan your day just by looking down and out and pointing where next to explore. Floor-to-ceiling windows make up the walls of the bedroom, spacious living room, and even the marble kitchen — a massive benefit of a corner unit. 

Another perk is the large wraparound balcony that boasts it is “large enough for a morning workout.” But if you need more space than that, there’s an all-glass-view gym in the building too, complete with a workout studio, plus a heated outdoor pool and working spaces, just in case you play too hard and feel like you ought to make up for it.

After all, in this location, it’s not difficult to have too much fun. Midtown, the “heart of the arts,” is where all the city’s action really is. Public transportation via the MARTA is more accessible here than almost anywhere else in the city, but if you’re driving in and taking advantage of the included secure parking of this home, everywhere you might want to visit is only minutes away.

Over 150 restaurants, clubs, and bars are scattered throughout this neighborhood, and Piedmont Park and the BeltLine are only steps away from this high-rise. Follow that paved trail to find tiny doors and the Ponce City Market, the city’s largest adaptive reuse project with shops and an incredible food hall of chef-led innovation.

Despite being new to Airbnb, this unique serviced apartment isn’t available until July, so book early.

Urban chic condo in Atlantic Station, $97

Modern Atlantic Station Apartment

Book this chic condo starting from $97 per night 

The trendy Atlantic Station neighborhood is perhaps one of the best examples of what it means to live/work/play, all in one luxurious and well-appointed bubble. On the west side of the city, this strategically developed area was built to house 50 shops, a Central Park with live outdoor shows, BODIES The Exhibition, and a movie theatre in a streetscape-like setting. And when the temperatures drop, there’s outdoor ice skating during the short winter season, which ends around mid-February.

Close to Atlantic Station’s big-brand stores, sidewalk cafes, and boutique hotel is this lovely apartment with a modern-eclectic energy thanks to a dynamic mix of patterns and materials, from a green velvet couch to a zebra rug. The balcony offers views of a resort-style saltwater pool that’s enchantingly lit up at night in soothing aqua blues. By day, this pool area is a prime spot to luxuriate under a warm Georgian sun, giving the rooftop with its city views some stiff competition for vacation-luxury vibes. 

This bird’s eye view puts into context just how close this location is to some of Atlanta’s biggest attractions, like the High Art Museum and Tony Award-winning Alliance Theatre. It’s due north of the Mercedes-Benz Stadium — home of the Falcons — and State Farm Arena, and due south of Buckhead, just on the other side of the highway from buzzy Midtown.

This home has good availability over the next few months.

Modern tiny home in Old Fourth Ward, $99

Modern Nordic Tiny Home w Queen in Heart of ATL

Book this tiny home starting from $99 per night 

The Old Fourth Ward, affectionately abbreviated to O4W, is one of central Atlanta’s most happening neighborhoods. Just east of Downtown and south of Midtown, it’s now an intriguing combination of new, trendy developments and design right alongside historic sites like Martin Luther King, Jr.’s home. Atlantans love this neighborhood for its miles-long, paved, and elevated BeltLine Trail and the myriad of attractions sprung up around it, like the amazing Ponce City Market.

A block away is where you’ll find this upscale Nordic-style tiny home, whose minimalistic style and plush fur-trimmed accent decor create a sense of Scandinavian simplicity and peace. Every precious inch of this space is used well and Instagram-ready, from the Brazilian hardwood shower that recalls a spa sauna to a lofted bed with skylight window to the small desk that overlooks a rock creek right outside. Also outside is a 125-year-old American sycamore tree in the private yard, and a fenced space that offers a smokeless fire pit and two lounge chairs facing the tiny home’s little patio. 

You’ll be walking distance to trails, shops, and restaurants, but should you want to stay in, there’s a UHD Smart TV that’s Netflix-ready, and a kitchenette that comes complete with an induction cooktop, microwave, and a retro-style fridge.

It’s available starting now, with plenty of weekend dates open through early summer.

Posh apartment in Buckhead, $110

Illustrious Buckhead Apt w King Bed 5Min frm Lenox

Book this posh apartment starting from $110 per night 

Buckhead is a posh address shared by the Governor, and this one-bedroom apartment puts you right in the center of it. It’s only a few walkable blocks to Lenox Square, a premium shopping mall with 250 stores spread across nearly 1.6 million square feet. As if that weren’t enough, Phipps Plaza is also only steps away, impressive with its mahogany walls, marble floors, chandeliers, and grand staircase.

But Buckhead isn’t just primed for commerce — it’s good for art and action, too. Around Miami Circle and Bennet Street are clusters of independent art galleries, and the young, affluent professionals that live in this neighborhood frequent the bars, clubs, and chic restaurants along Peachtree and Roswell Roads.

You can prep for a glamorous night out in this light, bright, and spacious apartment, channeling the elegant decor of the apartment. In the bedroom, an upholstered bed is furnished with a memory foam mattress under a trey ceiling, and a minibar stocked with small bottles of liquor and wine offers a pre-gaming amenity. The spacious living area is decked out in a soothing cream and blue color palette, and the modern kitchen includes all-white cabinetry, stainless steel appliances, and grey tiling.

During the day, take advantage of the on-site gym and the rooftop pool. The latter overlooks the city skyline, magical any time. Garage parking for one means you can linger as you like. 

Availability is immediate for this new addition to Airbnb, with dates open well into summer.

Loft in Virginia Highlands, $113

Brand New Guest House   VaHi Midtown   1 BDRM+Loft

Book this loft starting from $113 per night 

Just east of Midtown, Virginia Highlands has been recognized by “Southern Living” as the fourth best neighborhood in all the South — and it’s no wonder. Its tree-lined streets shade beautiful homes and over 75 restaurants, shops, and bars, including Atlanta’s oldest continually licensed tavern, Atkins Park. It’s host to Summerfest in the (you guessed it!) summer and Tour of Homes for looky-loos in the winter; and puts you within steps of the BeltLine, Piedmont Park, and Atlanta’s Botanical Garden.

Homes here are traditionally the beautiful bungalow-style of the ’20s and ’30s, with high ceilings in the pre-war build. This brand-new loft guesthouse is right off the main strip.

Arrive to a gorgeous Craftsman-style entrance with a rose-strewn portico at the entrance, just off the parking area that’s overhung by the loft’s balcony. Once inside, you’ll be hard-pressed to decide which of the two bedrooms you’d rather have: the ground level one with French doors, plantation shutters, and an outside entrance, or the novelty of the loft suspended over the living space and bounded by steel cables. A soothing palette of blues, creams, and natural woods dominates the aesthetic, creating a cool contrast to the rich brick and brown of the exterior. 

There are plenty of open dates over the next few months.

High-rise, hotel-style living near Edgewood, $139

Stunning City Getaway   In The Heart Of Atlanta

Book this high-rise apartment starting from $139 per night 

Right on the border of quirky, accessible Edgewood and just south of Inman Park and bohemian Little Five Points, this hotel-style resort apartment is at the crossroads of artsy and independent city culture. 

The creative vibe of its location makes it into the decor of a gorgeous common area lounge. It’s stylish and posh, and sexy besides, with splashes of deep reds, rich purples, and bright oranges. The expansive common area also has an oversized shared worktable space with pop-up plugs to keep your gear fully juiced, and a wet bar, dining tables, and TVs to channel more of that city-life workspace feeling. A spiffy gym, also decked out in bold colors, is yours to enjoy during your stay. The apartment has a full modern kitchen, but this close to the Krog Street Market, a world-class and famous food hall, you likely won’t make much use of it. 

Outdoors, though, is where visitors find their R&R. The building’s resort-style pool has private cabanas and tanning areas around it, as well as firepits to gather your group of up to four around.

Availability begins in May.

Historic creekside cottage, $130

Historic Creekside Cottage near Chastain Park

Book this historic cottage starting from $130 per night 

In a city rife with verdant green space, to say that Chastain Park is one of its best is a serious statement. Nonetheless, it’s said by passionate Buckhead and Sandy Springs residents, who love where they live thanks to this outdoor attraction that gives locals and visitors alike easy access to outdoor concerts, walking trails, golf courses, art galleries, stables, and more. It’s also just 15 to 20 minutes to Midtown. 

But because Atlanta’s attractions are spread out across various suburban neighborhoods, you need not stray too far from this 1940s cottage on a creek to find activity. A sunny dining area attached to the spacious, well-lit kitchen is just the spot to enjoy a home-cooked meal or takeout from the numerous nearby eateries. There are windows on every wall, all the better to enjoy views of the sprawling parklike grounds. Bedrooms are simple but large, and the host even leaves out spa-like bathrobes to take lounging to the next level.

Across the brook, over the bridge, is a meadow with wild berries and trees, and flowers when in season. Don’t forget to bring your Tesla if you’re lucky enough to have one. There’s a fast, free charging station. 

This home has availability starting in May.

Carriage house in Chastain Park, $150

Luxury Atlanta Guesthouse in Buckhead

Book this carriage house from $150 per night 

This carriage house may be less than a mile away from Chastain Park, but it almost feels like your own private preserve. Its long meandering driveway takes you to the wooded property before dropping you off at your new doorstep. Once inside, you’ll find a modern, cool aesthetic that includes a new kitchen with granite counters and gray cabinets, and a spacious, bright marble-pattern bathroom. All around are windows with views of the trees beyond and your closest neighbors will be a barred owl and whatever birds happen to visit the feeder.

As nice as these digs are, outside is actually where the greatest attractions for this property lie. The carriage house opens up to its own deck, which then leads to a charming brick path on a sloped hillside. Head toward the hammock to get to the lovely in-ground pool, which even has fountains spouting into it. Between dips, grill up a meal and enjoy it on various premium loungers, the bar table, or the seats around the fire pit. But if you want a fire pit closer to nature, make your way to the treehouse and the large swing beside it. There’s a more rustic fire pit with tree stump seating there.

Reservations don’t open up until July, but that’s also because local COVID restrictions for Sandy Springs has imposed a minimum stay rule of 30 days. 

Three-story tree house on the mountain, $156

Treasure Hunt Tree House in Metro Atlanta

Book this tree house starting from $156 per night 

Granted, you’re half an hour or so away from the heart of the action in Atlanta’s Midtown out here in suburban Kennesaw, but that seems like a small price to pay to stay in such a fantastical setting. This true tree house, built into the canopy and in one part, around an actual tree is a self-contained adventure. It even has an escape room-type treasure hunt challenge built into your stay. 

Comprised of three floors total across two independent structures connected by a rope bridge lit by fairy lights, the first building features vaulted ceilings with pine beams and a tin roof for rain to gently pitter-patter down. Its walls are made of knotty bamboo walls whose patterns are broken up by a stained glass window and French doors that open wide. Through those doors, access a wraparound porch that leads to the other building, which has a screened-in area with tables and chairs for dining or relaxation, and a ladder fastened against the central tree’s trunk that leads up to a crow’s nest observatory.

Like the rest of the home, the bamboo it’s made of comes from only a few miles away, making it not only a sustainable material, but local to boot. Other local and personal touches include handmade lamps, a cypress and blue resin water pitcher table made with love by the owner, a cedar plank writing desk, and a bucket and pulley system in the crow’s nest. A manmade stream runs beneath, complete with mini waterfalls, a bridge, and hammocks ripe for taking naps to the tune of the gentle gurgle.

A stay here also provides plenty of creature comforts, including a full bathroom with a marble shower and handmade soap just yards from the front steps. 

Availability begins in mid-April and for scattered days in the months thereafter.

Colorful apartment in Edgewood, $169

Peaceful 1 BR Queen Bed near Little Five Points

Book this colorful apartment starting from $169 per night

Developed during the Reconstruction-era, Edgewood has long been a neighborhood with its own character and identity. Since its annexation across the county line from Fulton to DeKalb, it’s done a glow-up of its working-class roots and new construction over the past few years has added architectural diversity to its traditional craftsman bungalow blocks.

This bright and pretty mid-rise apartment is right on the border of this area, close to vintage stores, natural food markets, street performers, edgy art, and many quirks to love. Plus, it’s near a MARTA station, which gets you quickly to in-town neighborhoods like Midtown. Though there’s a secure garage parking available for those with their own car.

Featuring cheery white, yellow, and cerulean decor this property has a Miami resort feel. The shared pool area, with modern takes on Acapulco loungers, add to the sunny vacation vibes. Chic details like a tiered glass coffee table, big ATL letters decorating the walls, and a roomy walk-in shower give this spot an upscale feel. A shared game room, colorful lounge area, and gym round out the on-site amenities.

Availability starts as soon as April.

Read the original article on Business Insider

10 US cities paving the way for the future by investing in technology, sustainability, and infrastructure

Atlanta, Georgia
The population of Atlanta is expected to grow by nearly three million over the next few decades.

  • The COVID-19 pandemic exposed cracks in infrastructure, mobility challenges, and a digital divide.
  • These US cities will remain resilient due to investing in things like sustainable technology and innovation.
  • As a result, places like Raleigh-Durham, Denver, and Atlanta are some of the fastest-growing cities.
  • Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.

If city leaders across the country learned anything from the past year, it’s the value of resilience. 

The COVID-19 pandemic exposed cracks in infrastructure, posed mobility challenges, and revealed a digital divide. The places that have fared the best are the ones that have been investing in the future, specifically in areas like digital transformation, manufacturing, sustainability, infrastructure, and innovation. 

“I don’t think we talk about resilience enough,” Diana Bowman, co-director of the Center for Smart Cities and Regions at Arizona State University’s School for the Future of Innovation in Society, told Insider. “Resilience talks about our capacity to respond in a quick way to address whatever those external challenges are.”

While investing in technology and infrastructure is key for cities of the future, Bowman said that resilience also depends on strong partnerships across the public, private, and local university sectors. 

“One of the things that we’ve seen in this last 12-month period is if you take your eye off the ball at any single one of these, then your ability to have a fully engaged school system, fully engaged workforce is really challenged, and everybody suffers as a consequence of that,” she said. For example, the influx of people working and learning from home revealed a lack of access to high-speed internet in some places. 

Cities of all sizes should be thinking about building a better tomorrow through investment and policy, or risk getting left behind. 

The need for cities to innovate and be more sustainable is coming, whether they’re prepared or not, Zachary Schafer, CEO and executive director of United for Infrastructure, a nonprofit working to modernize and repair the country’s infrastructure, told Insider. “It’s better to be developing frameworks early to understand how to deploy them, how to use them, how to benefit from them, and how to talk to residents about these technologies.”

Several US cities are already leading the way. Here’s a look at 10 places making big strides when it comes to innovation.

The cities are listed in no particular order.

Chicago, Illinois

Chicago, March 2020, after lockdown order
Chicago is using digital trackers to collect data on the environment and activity to help improve city conditions.

The city of Chicago has several programs in the works aimed at updating infrastructure and advancing manufacturing. 

One example is the Smart Lighting Program, which some have referred to as the largest streetlight modernization project in the nation. It involves installing wireless, LED lights across the city, which can be dimmed or controlled remotely. The goal is to cut energy costs and improve public safety. 

To function as a kind of “fitness tracker” for the city, the Array of Things (AoT) project included placing sensors throughout the city to collect data on the environment, infrastructure, and activity. The purpose is to address traffic safety and flooding, reduce costs, and make the city more efficient and equitable. 

Both the streetlight and AoT programs come with interactive elements, so residents can track their progress and view the data collected. 

“Chicago has a good program for launching projects using digital technologies to transform the city landscape,” Schafer said. “You’re building the foundational infrastructure for a smart city or for a city to use to make smart decisions.” 

On the manufacturing front, Chicago is home to MxD (Manufacturing times Digital), which opened in 2015 to focus on digital design, automation, and digital in manufacturing. MxD is part of the Manufacturing USA initiative, which established institutes across the country to focus on different areas of technology and digital transformation in manufacturing and supply chain. 

MxD helps educate manufacturers about digital tools and processes. It has a mock production line, projects to help digitize equipment, and cybersecurity technology developed with the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Honolulu, Hawaii

Hawi Wind Farm at Upolu Point, the northernmost tip of Hawaii Big Island on the Kohala Coast.
Hawaii launched the Aloha+ Challenge to address six metrics from the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030, including clean energy transformation.

The entire state of Hawaii is leading the charge on sustainability, Bowman said. Two years ago, Gov. David Ige issued a declaration of commitment to sustainability — though the state’s focus on sustainability started long before. 

In 2014, Hawaii kicked off the Aloha+ Challenge to address six metrics from the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030, including clean energy transformation, local food production, management of natural resources, solid waste reduction, creating smart and sustainable communities, and building and educating a green workforce. The initiative comes with an online dashboard that allows the public to track the progress the state is making in these areas. 

Bowman said the program is a great example of the state legislature in Honolulu working with nonprofits and private companies to achieve sustainability metrics. “If you don’t measure it, you can’t act upon it, so it’s crucial in terms of sustainability and resilience,” she added. 

The city of Honolulu has a resilience strategy and set up a Resilience Office to track how climate change is affecting the city. It’s examining “shocks” and “stresses,” such as hurricanes, tsunamis, infrastructure problems, cost of living, and vulnerable communities.

Atlanta, Georgia

Atlanta
The population of Atlanta is expected to grow by nearly 3 million over the next few decades, adding to traffic woes.

Atlanta has been growing exponentially, and the city is expected to add nearly three million more residents over the next couple of decades. 

To handle the growth, city leaders and stakeholders have been focusing on traffic and transportation infrastructure. Part of the plan is to add more express lanes to highways, put sensors on some roads to detect traffic patterns and weather problems, and adjust traffic lights to help with flow. 

Smart streetlights are also being added, and the city is testing a gunshot detection system that would send alerts to 911, police patrol cars, and residents’ smartphones. Other systems would help drivers detect parking spots. Atlanta partnered with Georgia Power, AT&T, and Current by GE for the project.

“There’s a lot of activity going on just in general around transit and Atlanta, in and around the larger metro area,” Christopher Le Dantec, associate professor in the School of Interactive Computing and School of Literature, Media, and Communication at Georgia Tech, told Insider. That means thinking through the transportation of people and goods around the city and its suburbs. 

“It’s a very difficult problem to solve because there are so many different agencies at play,” he added. 

Other initiatives center on reducing the number of cars on the road. Atlanta is expanding its walking and biking plan, providing grants to help communities become more pedestrian-friendly and encouraging different types of commuting like carpooling, flexible work schedules, and working from home. 

Incorporating more bike infrastructure has been several years in the making and involved collecting and analyzing data, Le Dantec said. “It was part of a transformation within the urban core of Atlanta, where there is now a lot more people moving around on bicycles, even prior to the past year’s events,” he added.

San Antonio, Texas

San Antonio, tourists by the River Walk
San Antonio’s Office of Innovation is focused in part on digital infrastructure.

Through its Office of Innovation, San Antonio has several infrastructure and technology projects in the works.

Some are still in the development phase, but so far some city vehicles have been equipped with sensors to gather real-time data on infrastructure and identify problems like potholes and then report them to the appropriate agency for repair. The goal is to reduce calls to the city and provide upkeep to areas that tend to be neglected. 

Recently, San Antonio launched a Smart Streetlight Project that will have remote controls and sensors to monitor parking, air quality, temperature, noise, and flooding. The city also installed interactive digital kiosks at its transit hub and other locations to give residents and visitors real-time access to information about traffic, transit systems, and attractions, like local restaurants. The kiosks also provide free WiFi and access to city services. 

Cities should view digital infrastructure as a way to rethink how people interact with their government and policymakers, and give residents easy access to details about what’s going on in their city, Le Dantec said. 

“Being able to actually show what those outcomes look like becomes a really powerful way to mobilize people toward addressing these issues,” he said. 

Technology in manufacturing is another key area for San Antonio. CyManII (Cybersecurity Manufacturing Innovation Institute), a Manufacturing USA institute located there, is focusing on cybersecurity and secure automation in manufacturing. These issues are critical today, as the manufacturing sector saw an uptick in ransomware attacks in 2020.

Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina

RIoT Accelerator Program pitch nights in Raleigh, North Carolina
Raleigh-based nonprofits like RIoT support entrepreneurship through pitch competitions and other events.

The tri-city area of Raleigh, Durham, and Chapel Hill has long been known as a hub for innovation, technology, and entrepreneurship.

In fact, Raleigh ranks third on Forbes’ list of the “Best Places for Business and Careers” for its economic and job growth and educated workforce. 

Being a tech hub and supportive of entrepreneurs and startups has attracted new residents, making Raleigh one of the fastest-growing cities in the country. 

The three cities also form the Research Triangle, along with North Carolina State University, Duke University, the University of North Carolina, and Wake Forest University. The Research Triangle Park is home to several major tech companies and known as a center for innovation and technology. 

The presence and partnerships with universities is a central part of a smart, resilient city, Bowman said. 

“You have world-class universities that have been fundamental to driving the innovation agenda,” Bowman said. “It has attracted leading tech companies and other multinationals to that space. Not only is there the benefit of having universities in terms of being able to engage with them and co-create and co-test, it becomes a supplier of high-quality talent to those companies.”

Several nonprofits exist across Raleigh-Durham, including Innovate Raleigh and RIoT, that are devoted to supporting innovation and entrepreneurship. The tech focus also extends to the manufacturing sector. The area houses a Manufacturing USA institute, PowerAmerica, focusing on semiconductor technology and electronics.

Madison, Wisconsin

University of Wisconsin - Madison students 2020
Students at the University of Wisconsin-Madison are encouraged to participate in sustainability initiatives.

The Wisconsin state capital has an ambitious sustainability plan to reach zero-net carbon emissions and use 100% renewable energy for city operations by 2030. The plan sets specific goals for slashing overall energy and fuel consumption and making half of city buses electric by 2035. 

Other city initiatives include increasing solar power by training unemployed and under-employed people in solar panel installation. 

The city also has goals to improve air and water quality and transportation systems, support sustainable construction, affordable housing, and local food systems, economic and workforce development, and more. 

The University of Wisconsin-Madison has a number of sustainability initiatives, too, like housing and grants for students who have ideas for enhancing sustainability on campus. The university is also working to align its sustainability goals with academics and research. 

A part of its efforts are engaging key stakeholders, including universities, nonprofits, local business, and members of the public. Interviews, public meetings, and a new website in development will keep citizens informed of the progress and promote transparency. 

Local governments too often overlook the need for communication, especially in innovation and digital transformation projects, Brian Chidester, head of worldwide industry strategy for the public sector at information management firm OpenText, told Insider.

“[Madison] has really embraced that piece of it,” he said.

Phoenix, Arizona

Waymo
A Chrysler Pacifica outfitted with Waymo’s self-driving technology.

Phoenix, and the entire state of Arizona, has been working to become a leader in autonomous vehicles since 2015, when the governor signed an executive order to support the testing of driverless cars. 

Phoenix has partnered with companies like GM and Lyft to allow hundreds of driverless cars to be tested on their roadways. Recently, the city began working with Waymo to launch a self-driving taxi fleet in nearby Tempe and Chandler. 

“You just see the vehicles everywhere, the Waymo vehicles in particular, and we now have a long history, and it’s just part of the landscape,” Bowman said. 

The state also created the Institute of Automated Mobility with Intel, Arizona State University, and other universities and organizations to research autonomous vehicles. Part of the goal is to create a regulatory framework that other places can model. 

One setback to the self-driving initiative was a 2018 incident when a driverless Uber struck and killed a pedestrian in Tempe. Bowman said city leaders handled the investigation in a transparent way that regained community trust and investment in the program. 

By investing in autonomous vehicle infrastructure and innovation, the hope is to cut down on traffic fatalities, help older people age in place, reduce traffic and the need for parking, and protect the environment, she explained.

“Integrating autonomous vehicles into your fleet has the potential to reduce congestion within cities, and that brings an environmental benefit with it,” Bowman said. 

Los Angeles, California

Los Angeles traffic
Traffic and road safety are the primary infrastructure topics in Los Angeles.

Los Angeles has emphasized its commitment to sustainability while addressing some of the city’s biggest infrastructure concerns, like traffic and road safety. 

A digital dashboard, called the pLAn, debuted to track and measure its Green New Deal sustainability plan. It keeps tabs on metrics like water and electricity usage, greenhouse gas emissions, and other sustainability efforts. And the data is open to the public. 

“One of the things I really like about what we see in LA is not only do they make this public — and they have a fantastic dashboard that any citizen or any individual anywhere in the world can go to and see how they’re doing based on hundreds of metrics — but they also have held themselves accountable,” Bowman said. “They’ve done a voluntary review of how well they’re doing, and the results of that review has then gone on to inform the next step.” 

Governments holding themselves accountable in this way is something other metros can learn from, she added. 

Mayor Eric Garcetti has also set a goal of reducing carbon emissions to zero by 2045, and has a number of other goals to make the city more sustainable and reduce traffic. 

For example, they’re working on a network of bus-only lanes, adjusting traffic lights to put trains first over cars, launching an electric bus fleet, creating better traffic light synchronization, and debuting bike- and pedestrian-friendly projects. 

Los Angeles is also home to one of the Manufacturing USA institutes, CESMII (Clean Energy Smart Manufacturing Innovation Institute), that focuses on smart sensor and digital process technology to make manufacturing more efficient.

Boston, Massachusetts

Boston street sign illustrating its innovative approach to traffic management
A Boston street sign highlights its Smart Vision project.

One of Boston’s many innovation, infrastructure, and sustainability projects is the Vision Zero initiative, a smart-street project with the goal of reducing traffic accidents and fatalities through data gathering and analysis.

Through the program, Boston is investing in new infrastructure on the streets, including LED lights, surveillance cameras, sensors, and a public dashboard. The data collected will inform future decision-making on roadway improvements, like safer sidewalks and streets and advanced signage. 

Other traffic-centric innovative infrastructure programs include giving drivers real-time information about where to find parking spaces or suggestions for taking another form of transportation. The point is to reduce traffic congestion and carbon emissions. The city is also working on driverless car testing, smart parking sensors, and IoT. 

Additionally, Boston is working to modernize information systems and technology in utility infrastructure to make utilities more affordable, equitable, and sustainable through the Smart Utilities Vision project. 

“[Boston] has been trying to position itself as a technology hub, so that’s part of what’s driving a lot of their digital transformation infrastructure,” Chidester said. 

Investing in innovation and infrastructure tends to attract larger companies and a highly skilled workforce, which boosts the economy, he added. Specifically, Boston has developed an environment to draw and support fintech companies. 

The Boston area has the advantage of having several universities, including Harvard and Massachusetts Institute of Technology, which the city partners with to test new technology and other projects. 

“One of the things you see is cities with large, very advanced universities with good engineering programs are some of the furthest along, simply because they’ve got the partnership between academia and city government,” Schafer said. “You’ve got engineering programs going to the city to say, ‘Hey, we’re working on this technology to be tested in our city.'”

Denver, Colorado

Denver .JPG
“Love My Air” dashboards are installed in Denver schools, relaying real-time data from area sensors to a TV display.

Denver’s population has increased 20% over the last 10 years, so the city has seen more construction and traffic, which has worsened its air quality. 

To address the issue, they launched Love My Air, a program to measure air quality in real time using pollution sensors.

The city is tackling its transportation issues by participating in Vision Zero, like Boston. This includes launching an intelligent transportation system to address traffic and road safety. The program will deploy connected vehicle technology to allow trucks to communicate with traffic signals and connect city vehicles. 

And to address and manage data around its infrastructure, Denver is creating an IoT platform to gather data about transportation, environmental health, weather, and freight. The data is pulled from road and weather sensors, street lights, universities, and other city infrastructure, which the city will use to drive future projects. 

Denver also has a partnership with Panasonic on a project called CityNow. It’s creating smart city infrastructure in a remote area that includes high-tech highways and driverless vehicles. They’ve installed WiFi, LED street lights, pollution sensors, security cameras, and a solar-powered microgrid. 

One challenge cities face in their digital transformation and innovation initiatives is that they start small, maybe with specific neighborhoods. While this makes sense, Chidester said it often creates disparate technologies, giving cities an additional challenge of making everything work together for the benefit of residents. 

“You’re not going to drop a whole bunch of technology to encompass the entire city,” he said. “Ultimately, as you crawl, walk, run, there’s the need to ensure interoperability, and the ability to take information and analytics and drive value on behalf of their citizens.” 

Data and analytics are necessary for sustainability and infrastructure efforts. But another issue cities will need to address revolves around the data they’re collecting through sensors and other means, Schafer said — specifically, who owns the data and what it’s all used for. And do citizens have the right to take their data back? 

“That’s a thorny issue that a lot of them are going to have to deal with,” he said. “Whether they like it or not, it’s coming.”

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Delta passenger faces $27,500 fine for hitting flight attendant in face mask dispute with fellow passenger

Delta Air Lines
File photo of Delta Air Lines plane taking off from Miami International Airport, Florida on August 20, 2012.

  • The unnamed passenger had been traveling on Flight 1997 from Miami to Atlanta on October 19.
  • Their neighboring passenger refused to follow instructions and the flight returned to the gate.
  • Both were asked to leave the plane and a flight attendant was struck in the argument that followed.
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A Delta Air Lines passenger is facing a $27,500 fine for hitting a flight attendant, according to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).

The unnamed passenger traveled on a flight from Miami to Atlanta on October 19 and was sitting next to a passenger who refused to wear his mask, secure his tray table, or fasten his seatbelt.

As a result, Flight 1997 was forced to return to the gate and both the unruly passenger and their neighbor were asked to leave the plane. 

However, the FAA said: “In response, the passenger accompanying the non-compliant traveler ignored the flight attendant’s instructions, began yelling expletives at the flight attendant and other passengers, and struck the flight attendant under her left eye.”

In January, the FAA announced a stricter unruly passenger policy after dealing with over 1,300 cases in the past 10 years, including recent, violent refusals to wear face masks.

Now, passengers who interfere with, attack, or threaten to physically assault aircraft crew or anyone else on an aircraft now face fines of up to $35,000 as well as potential imprisonment.

In a statement at the time, Delta said: “There is nothing more important than the safety of our people and customers.

“That’s why two customers who did not comply with crew safety instructions were asked to deplane Flight 1997 this evening.

“We do not tolerate violence of any kind and this situation is currently under investigation.”

The passenger facing the $27,500 fine now has 30 days to respond to the FAA’s enforcement letter.

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