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Democracy

These before-and-afters will make you question everything about how our economy works.

You'd think it was some sort of natural disaster. Nope. Totally man-made.

These before-and-afters will make you question everything about how our economy works.

This article originally appeared on 12.15.14



Images via GooBingDetroit.

Yup. These images were taken only two years apart. And what you're seeing was not an accident.

When the economy crashed in 2008, it was because of shady financial practices like predatory lending and speculative investing, which is basically gambling, only the entire economy was at stake.


When the recession hit, it literally hit home for millions of people. And Detroit was right in the middle of it.

I spoke with Alex Alsup, who works with a Detroit-based tech company that's mapping the city's foreclosed homes to help city officials see the bigger picture and find solutions. He also runs the Tumblr GooBingDetroit, where he uses Google Street View's time machine to document the transformation of Detroit's neighborhoods over the last few years.

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"There's a common sentiment that Detroit's looked the way it does for decades, but it's just not true," Alsup said.

It's astonishing to see how quickly so many homes went from seemingly delightful to wholly unlivable.

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When the recession went into full force, home values took a nosedive. But the city expected homeowners to pay property taxes as if they hadn't.

Not only does the situation defy logic, but it's like a brass-knuckled face punch to the people the city is supposed to be looking out for. Alsup explains:

"You had houses — tens of thousands of them — that were worth only $20,000 or so, yet owed $4,000 a year in taxes, for which very few city services were delivered (e.g. police, fire, roads, schools). Who would pay that?"

Indeed.

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A local group calls what happened to Detroit a "hurricane without water."

And like a real hurricane, homeowners aren't the ones to blame. They're even calling for what is essentially a federal disaster response.

Here are the three strategies they want to see in action — and they can work for basically anywhere in the country that's struggling with a housing crisis.

1. Stop kicking people out of their homes.

They want the city to end foreclosures and evictions from owner-occupied homes. Many people aren't just losing their homes — they've lost jobs, pensions, and services because of budget cuts. Putting them on the street is like a kick in the teeth when they're down.

2. If a home is worth less on the market than what the homeowner owes on their loan, reduce what they owe.

Those are called underwater mortgages. Banks caused this mess, and governments ignored it. It's only fair that people's mortgages be adjusted based the current value of their home.

3. Sell repossessed homes at fair prices to people who actually want to live in them.

Selling to banks and investors only encourages what led to the financial crisis in the first place. Wouldn't it make more sense to sell to people who are going to live in them and have a genuine interest in rebuilding the community?

Housing is a human right. And an economy based on financial markets doesn't care about human rights. Maybe it's time for a new economy?

Click play below for a silent cruise down a once lovely residential block in Detroit.

Health

A child’s mental health concerns shouldn’t be publicized no matter who their parents are

Even politicians' children deserve privacy during a mental health crisis.

A child's mental health concerns shouldn't be publicized.

Editor's Note: If you are having thoughts about taking your own life, or know of anyone who is in need of help, the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline is a United States-based suicide prevention network of over 200+ crisis centers that provides 24/7 service via a toll-free hotline with the number 9-8-8. It is available to anyone in suicidal crisis or emotional distress.


It's an unspoken rule that children of politicians should be off limits when it comes to public figure status. Kids deserve the ability to simply be kids without the media picking them apart. We saw this during Obama's presidency when people from both ends of the political spectrum come out to defend Malia and Sasha Obama's privacy and again when a reporter made a remark about Barron Trump.

This is even more important when we are talking about a child's mental health, so seeing detailed reports about Ted Cruz's 14-year-old child's private mental health crisis was offputting, to say it kindly. It feels icky for me to even put the senator's name in this article because it feels like adding to this child's exposure.

When a child is struggling with mental health concerns, the instinct should be to cocoon them in safety, not to highlight the details or speculate on the cause. Ever since the news broke about this child's mental health, social media has been abuzz, mostly attacking the parents and speculating if the child is a member of the LGBTQ community.

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Famous writers shared their book signing woes with a disheartened new author.

Putting creative work out into the world to be evaluated and judged is nerve-wracking enough as it is. Having to market your work, especially if you're not particularly extroverted or sales-minded, is even worse.

So when you're a newly published author holding a book signing and only two of the dozens of people who RSVP'd show up, it's disheartening if not devastating. No matter how much you tell yourself "people are just busy," it feels like a rejection of you and your work.

Debut novelist Chelsea Banning recently experienced this scenario firsthand, and her sharing it led to an amazing deluge of support and solidarity—not only from other aspiring authors, but from some of the top names in the writing business.

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This article originally appeared on 04.15.19


On May 28, 2014, 13-year-old Athena Orchard of Leicester, England, died of bone cancer. The disease began as a tumor in her head and eventually spread to her spine and left shoulder. After her passing, Athena's parents and six siblings were completely devastated. In the days following her death, her father, Dean, had the difficult task of going through her belongings. But the spirits of the entire Orchard family got a huge boost when he uncovered a secret message written by Athena on the backside of a full-length mirror.

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This article originally appeared on 01.22.19


The legality of abortion is one of the most polarized debates in America—but it doesn't have to be.

People have big feelings about abortion, which is understandable. On one hand, you have people who feel that abortion is a fundamental women's rights issue, that our bodily autonomy is not something you can legislate, and that those who oppose abortion rights are trying to control women through oppressive legislation. On the other, you have folks who believe that a fetus is a human individual first and foremost, that no one has the right to terminate a human life, and that those who support abortion rights are heartless murderers.

Then there are those of us in the messy middle. Those who believe that life begins at conception, that abortion isn't something we'd choose—and we'd hope others wouldn't choose—under most circumstances, yet who choose to vote to keep abortion legal.

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