NEWSSTAND

Oh, Poo! San Francisco Hires Cleanup Crew for Sidewalk Contamination

In the wake of a public defecation crisis in the Golden Gate City, San Francisco has hired a crew of cleanup workers to literally clean poop from the city streets. In exchange for the messy work, these government employees can make more than $184,000 a year in pay and benefits.

The city will pay these workers $71,760 annually, which amounts to $112,918 when including benefits health insurance and retirement accounts. Although that sounds like a pretty penny, San Francisco also has a very high cost of living. The city is so pricey that a 4-person family living on $117,400 is considered “low income.”

The city’s Department of Public Works assigned 5 workers to the Tenderloin District. The clean up effort could stop a public health crisis and prevent one of the richest cities in the world from looking more like a hazardous mess.

These workers are armed with steam cleaners and other equipment to remove the feces and sanitize each contaminated area. The city government hopes this will help stop the spread of disease – as well as unsightly messes around town. Besides hiring a cleanup crew, the city is also spending over $1 million to expand access to public toilets. City officials say that the problem stems from desperation. They theorize that no one wants to defecate in public, but will do so when they have no other option.

A Massive Problem

Over 14,500 calls have come in to San Francisco’s public service line about human feces on public sidewalks this year. Past attempts to discourage public defecation haven’t stopped the problem. In fact, a project mapping requests for cleanup shows a city nearly overtaken by human waste.

After the city decriminalized public urination and defecation in 2016, the city saw an uptick in reports of human feces on pedestrian walkways. The messes could make tourists think twice about spending their vacations in San Francisco. In addition, the poo is more than just an unsightly mess – it’s a health hazard, especially in a densely populated city.

Past attempts to undo the poo problem haven’t fixed it. Since 2005, San Francisco’s government has sent more than 10,000 homeless people to other cities by handing out bus tickets. Critics acknowledge that this doesn’t fix any problem; it only exports homelessness and forces the participants to find their way somewhere new.

Can the five workers in the Tenderloin district make a difference? While the city certainly hopes so, residents outside the district are also complaining about feces on their sidewalks. The cleanup crew can only stop the problem after it happens. People will still use public spaces to conduct private “business” – but the cleanup crew can at least get rid of the mess.

Police Respond After Kid’s Lemonade Stand Gets Reported

In the beginning of August, the Urbana Police Department in Illinois received a complaint about a non-permitted vendor operating in a local neighborhood.

When the police went to go check out the situation, it was not what they were expecting. Rather, they came across a young boy named Jay and his neighborhood lemonade stand. It turns out that one of Jay’s disgruntled neighbors called the cops on him for not having a permit.

Instead of forcing Jay to shut down his lemonade stand, the police decided to stick around and buy some lemonade. Jay told them that he was saving up money to buy a tent and go camping.

Later that day on their Facebook page, the Urbana Police Department uploaded a picture of Jay posing with a cop in front of his lemonade stand. They captioned it,

“Today we received a complaint of a “non-permitted vendor.” We found young Jay selling lemonade. He said he was saving up for a tent to go camping. As time allowed the entire shift enjoyed his delicious and “illegal” lemonade. Thanks Jay and have fun camping!”

Lemonade Stands Are in Danger

While Jay’s encounter with the police ended up on a positive note, other kids have not been as lucky.

Even though police will not actively look for lemonade stands to shut down, if the department receives a complaint, then they have an obligation to act.

Back in June, two sisters in Texas ran a lemonade stand in hopes of raising money for a Father’s Day present. The police shut them down an hour later for operating without a permit.

The same happened to two boys in Colorado who were selling lemonade for charity when the police stepped in. Having heard of this incident, Country Time Lemonade decided to step in. They started a fund to help children who are fined for running a lemonade stand without a permit.

 

Opinion: The Straw That Is Breaking My Back

by Mark Armstrong
Editor’s Note: This is an opinion piece written by one of our many petition creators on StandUnited.org.

Leave it to the masses to embrace stupidity in its purest form. Only once in a while will something so ridiculous gain traction that the world’s largest corporations will buy into such hysteria along with the masses. The hysteria du jour? Straws.

Starbucks, Disney, restaurants, cities are all banning plastic drinking straws mainly because a then 9-year-old, Milo Cress, called and asked some plastic companies how many straws they THINK people use in a day. The world took the theoretical research conducted by a 9-year-old and ran with it. 9, not even 10, and he’s creating movements with popularity researchers at MIT would die for. Cue the pandemonium.

The Hysteria Begins

As a result, cities started banning them, companies starting banning them, some even handing out jail time and fines to employees that GIVE THEM TO CUSTOMERS. Pair this bogus research with a viral video of a sea turtle getting one removed from its nose and you have a recipe for some good old-fashioned grassroots uprising against the notorious, hateful, evil plastic drinking straw.

I could go on about how people with disabilities rely on plastic straws for their ability rebound from being crushed, or I could tell you that it takes more energy to make paper straws, or even that metal straws are dangerous because of conductive properties, but clearly there is no room for real data or facts.

The truth is people who study waste management and pollution will be the first to tell you that plastic straws are not the problem. Over 99% of the trash in oceans comes from other countries. The 1% that the US is responsible for? The overwhelming majority of it is fishing trash. Abandoned nets, lines, etc. The rest is too diverse to qualify as anything specific.

So What Can We Do?

If anybody really cares about plastic waste, here’s a list of things to think about:

*Next party you may be at, don’t use that red cup. Or that plastic fork. Or that plastic drink stirrer. Or that plastic spoon. And don’t even think about sitting in that plastic Adirondack chair.

*Next time you are at Starbucks and you want a Frappuccino, think about how that lid on your drink was tripled in volume of plastic to accommodate your paper straw that is 4 minutes away from being soggy.

*Next time you go to a restaurant that serves anything plastic, ask them who they use for waste removal. Follow up with that waste company and ask about their processes, process auditing, quality assurance, recycling practices, and statements on ocean pollution.

*Next time you eat seafood, ask where it was sourced from. How it was caught, harvested, raised, and how much they trust the actual fishermen to not pollute by leaving nets and other equipment behind.

If we are serious about plastic, speak to the automotive industries. Your car is full of plastics. Talk to toy manufacturers, make sure they are operating to a standard you are satisfied with. Talk to food companies. How many products are bottled or jarred in plastic containers? What did you bring your leftovers in today?

My final thoughts: Calm down. Straws aren’t the problem. China, Indonesia, Philippines, Vietnam, and Thailand are responsible for the oceanic pollution problem. Not our country, not our states, not our cities, not our restaurants, and not even our waste removal companies. Plastic isn’t evil, littering is.

This whole trend…sucks. I had to.

If you enjoyed this opinion piece, why don’t you start a petition of your own? You could be featured on NewsStand, too!

Student Wins Lawsuit Against School for Suspension Over Pro-Trump Shirt

A high school student won his lawsuit against the Hillsboro School District in Portland, Oregon. He had been suspended for refusing to cover up a pro-Trump t-shirt.

In January, Addison Barnes wore a shirt that said “Donald J. Trump Border Wall Construction Co.” to school. His politics class was discussing immigration that day.

He was asked to either remove the shirt or leave the school after some of his classmates complained about his shirt. He chose to leave and, as a result, it was a suspension. School security then escorted Barnes from the classroom.

He sued Liberty High School, its principal, and the Hillsboro School District because they had violated his First Amendment rights. Barnes won $25,000 for attorney fees. The principal also has to write an apology letter.

In an interview with Fox and Friends after the decision, Barnes stated,

“I thought to myself, ‘You know, this isn’t right. I have the First Amendment. I should be able to express my political opinions.’”

Trump Supporters Continually Face Double Standards

This case wasn’t brought up just to spite his high school. Barnes wants to “stand up for himself and other students who might be afraid to express their right of center views.”

After his settlement, he reasoned

“Everyone knows that if a student wears an anti-Trump shirt to school, the teachers won’t think twice about it. But when I wore a pro-Trump shirt, I got suspended. That’s not right.”

Double standards have been running rampant in the Trump Era, similar to Barnes’ plight.

James Gunn, director of the Guardians of the Galaxy films, was recently fired for past indiscretions on Twitter. Several obscene tweets resurfaced earlier this week.

A couple months ago the same thing happened to Roseanne Barr. After tweeting a racist remark about Valerie Jarett, her TV reboot was cancelled. She has continued to receive backlash for her comments, despite apologizing to former President and Obama as well as Jarrett herself.

Many people have come to Gunn’s defense; however, Barr did not receive the same support. The difference between Gunn and Barr? He is a Trump-hating liberal while Barr supports Trump.

City Steps in After Boy’s Hot Dog Stand Almost Gets Shut Down

A thirteen-year-old’s hot dog stand is now permitted and officially open for business as of Monday, thanks to the help from the city of Minneapolis.

Jaequan Faulkner started his summer hot dog stand two years ago. However, it wasn’t until this year that Faulkner decided to become serious about it. With the hopes of buying new school clothes, he re-opened Mr. Faulkner’s Old Fashioned Hot Dogs at the beginning of this summer.

Faulkner’s hot dog stand soon became a success. Business soared after police officers with the “Bike Cops for Kids” program encouraged people to visit his stand via Facebook.

In an interview with KARE 11 last month, Faulkner told them,

“It puts pride in me to see that I’m doing something good for the community.”

Unfortunately, Faulkner had been running his stand without a permit. As a result, someone complained about the stand to the Minneapolis Health Department.

Minneapolis to the Rescue!

The city of Minneapolis decided to help the middle schooler with his business instead of shutting down his stand.

The Health Department, the Minneapolis Promise Zone, and the Northside Economic Opportunity Network (NEON) worked together to bring his hot dog stand up to code.

The health inspectors even pitched in to pay for Faulkner’s permit, which totaled to $87.

Faulkner told the Charlotte local news, WCNC,

“Surprisingly, I’m like, dang the city’s not the bad guys in this situation. They’re actually the ones who are helping me.”

While Minneapolis was kind enough to help Faulkner out with his hot dog stand, other cities have not been so helpful.

Earlier this year, Country Time Lemonade started a fund to help children who get fined for running lemonade stands this summer. They started the fund in light of a stand getting shut down in Texas for not having a permit.

Country Time Lemonade Comes to Rescue of Local Lemonade Stands

Yesterday, Country Time Lemonade offered to help pay fines and permits for kids who wish to operate a lemonade stand this year.

Legal-Ade, newly formed by Country Time Lemonade, will cover the fees up to $300 for lemonade stands that were fined in 2017 and 2018. They will also cover any permits that were bought this year.

Legal-Ade states

“Life doesn’t always give you lemons, but when it does, you should be able to make and share lemonade with the neighborhood without legal implications. That’s why we’re here to take a stand for lemonade stands across the nation.”

Kids No Longer Able to Have Summertime Fun

Running a lemonade stand has always been a classic summertime activity for kids. It teaches them responsibility about running a business at a young age. It also helps kids learn how to interact with customers and manage money. Nowadays, kids are no longer able to have this opportunity without the risk of being shut down by the police.

Country Time Lemonade’s generous support comes in light of when two brothers opened a lemonade stand outside of their house last week. They were almost immediately shut down by the police because they didn’t have a permit.

Afterwards, Jennifer Knowles, mother of the 3 boys, said in an interview

“My boys were crushed. They were devastated. And I can’t believe that happened.”

This is only the most recent occurrence. Kids all over the nation have been getting their lemonade stands shut down. They are told they are missing a permit, or even have a health code violation.

Kids all over the country routinely turn to lemonade stands to make money, or even raise money. Last year, a 9-year-old-girl ran a lemonade stand to raise money to save her local library.

Zuckerberg Concedes Censorship a “Fair Concern” for Conservatives

Earlier this week, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg was confronted by lawmakers about the recent data privacy scandal.

During the hearing, Zuckerberg was challenged by Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) specifically about political bias and censoring conservatives. Senator Cruz referenced the recent Diamond & Silk decision, where Facebook labeled their page “unsafe to the community.”

Diamond and Silk have over 1.4 million followers and have been active on Facebook since 2014.

A Fair Concern?

Senator Cruz listed the many grievances conservatives have had with Facebook over the years.

“In May of 2016, Gizmodo reported that Facebook had purposefully and routinely suppressed conservative stories from trending news,” Cruz stated.

He continued with a list of specific instances of groups being shut down or blocked by Facebook.

“In addition to that, Facebook has initially shut down the Chick-Fil-A Appreciation Day page, has blocked a post of a Fox News reporter, has blocked over two dozen Catholic pages, and most recently blocked Trump supporters Diamond and Silk’s page with 1.2 million Facebook followers after determining their content and brand were ‘unsafe to the community.’ To a great many Americans that appears to be a pervasive pattern of political bias. Do you agree with that assessment?”

Zuckerberg agreed that Facebook is run in “an extremely left-leaning place” and shares Senator Cruz’s concern about censorship.

He then conceded “I think that it is a fair concern that people would wonder about it.”

Laura Ingraham vs. David Hogg: No One Wins

Conservative pundit Laura Ingraham apologized to Parkland school shooting survivor David Hogg this week on Twitter. She came under fire recently for ridiculing his rejection from multiple colleges. While Hogg refused to accept her apology, the entire brouhaha is indicative of a bigger issue.

Hogg’s public appearances are growing ever more profane and factually bereft. Last month he delivered an obscenity-laced rant during a YouTube interview. He referenced “old-a** parent[s]” who “don’t know how to use a f*****g democracy so we have to do it.”

A lose-lose situation

Missing from Hogg’s rant was the basic understanding that the United States is not a democracy at all. It’s a constitutional republic.

Meanwhile, Fox News host Laura Ingraham wasted no time firing back at Hogg when he complained about being rejected from a number of colleges in an interview with CNN. The teen’s insinuation was that they were wrong for rejecting him, and that it was due to his anti-gun activism. CNN host Alisyn Camerota backed him up on this ridiculous claim.

Ingraham, however, pointed out that the rejection at UCLA was “totally predictable given acceptance rates.”

Hogg responded by calling Ingraham a bully and demanding an advertiser boycott.

He got just that. Wayfair, Nestle, TripAdvisor, Hulu, Office Depot, Jenny Craig, Expedia and Johnson & Johnson led the pack of advertisers jumping ship from sponsoring Ingraham’s show. It appears more are going to follow.

How frail is American discourse, that a 17-year-old leads the charge to get advertisers to abandon someone simply because of a difference of opinion? Hogg is a teenager, and is acting like one; the bigger issue here is that advertisers are turning to him as an example of how American discourse should be framed.

Nobody wins this battle.

Washington State Legislature Tries to Tax Vapes to Death

A bill introduced in Washington wants to tax all nicotine vaping products in an effort to ‘price them out’ of the reach of young people. Washington state lawmakers might be exaggerating the data about underage vapers in order to get this legislation passed.

To vape, or not to vape

The bill, known as HB 2165, seeks a massive tax hike on vapes and vaping liquid, saying

“Increasing the price of vapor products will decrease youth access and addiction, just as raising taxes on cigarettes to discourage youth and adult smoking decreased youth access and addiction.”

HB 2165 claims 23% of high school seniors “used an e-cigarette in the last month.” This does not parse out those who tried it once and stopped, nor does it mention how many actually went on to become users of a tobacco-replacement. It simply states the number of teens who have used it at least once in the last month.

The bill’s authors, however, don’t seem to find that data necessary. Instead, they state “these rates are alarming because an overwhelming majority of smokers begin smoking and become addicted to nicotine as teenagers.”

Correlation does not equal causation. Using a vape doesn’t translate to smoking cigarettes, yet the bill doesn’t make that distinction.

Pro-vaping groups advise voters to oppose HB 2165 along with HB 2144. Similar laws passed in other states have forced legitimate small businesses to close under the weight of the tax burden. HB 2144 aims to tax vapor nicotine by 95%.

The test cases show that these bills will do nothing but penalize local business owners.

HB 2165 is on its way to the Appropriations Committee, where it could languish forever. Proponents of the bill, however, are pushing hard to see the bill move from committee to the state legislative floor.

Virginians Continue to Face Rising Tolls on 66

Tolls on I-66, a Northern Virginia route that is infamous for congestion during rush house, have continued to rise.

According to commuters, on January 18th, tolls were projected at $47.25 during rush hour, despite there be nothing abnormal on the route.

Little Choice for Commuters

66 is a major highway into Washington, DC from the Nothern Virginia area. Before tolls were put into place in December, congestion was controlled by legally requiring all cars to contain at least two passengers to commute.

On December 4th, tolls were implemented requiring all drivers to have an EZ-Pass.

HOV compliant cars are still exempt from paying, but cars with less than two passengers face tolls. Depending on when they commute, these fees could be over $40.00 per day.

The new system has been plagued with backlash. For many Virginians, 66 is their most direct route to work in DC proper.

On Tuesday, the website and app that predict the toll price experienced a glitch which caused sticker shock when commuters saw the $39.00 toll on their bills. As of yet, no refunds will be issued for any commuter who chose 66 based on the absent tolling info.

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