Save Our Forgotten Cities!

In support of our economic engines and the true "real America" Congratulations, Sarah Barracuda! You and your grumpy chaperone are now the loudest merchants of the small-town pander: the silly claim that rural America is "real America." I guess that means cities are where those socialist varmints nest;..

In support of our economic engines and the true "real America"

Congratulations, Sarah Barracuda! You and your grumpy chaperone are now the loudest merchants of the small-town pander: the silly claim that rural America is "real America." I guess that means cities are where those socialist varmints nest; if so, bring your hunting cap and popgun next time you're in town.Is pitting small town against city just another ploy devised to hide distortions on taxes and foreign policy with a grotesque quilt of resentments? And what if that pastoral vision is blatantly false?Hoopla aside, with the economy sowing so much worry, the town vs. city-issue should be a reminder of an important fact: Towns have not kept our country's economy vital, no matter what Eleanor Fudd says. Cities have; and they present our best prospects for creating the jobs and prosperity that will pull us out of the economic hole we're in.Most Americans simply don't understand the role that cities play in their own economic well-being. Citified swells make for satisfying whipping. In fact, Americans often view themselves as small-town creatures even when they're not. In a survey commissioned by the Brookings Institution, a D.C.-based public policy think-tank, 50% of respondents believed they lived in a metropolitan area; 82% of them, however, actually did since, based on commuting patterns, a metro area encapsulates both a city center and the surrounding counties that depend on it.Let's clear the air about what cities do for our economy: Brookings recently found that America's 100 biggest metro areas hold 65 percent of our population, while accounting for 76 percent of knowledge-economy jobs (positions in anything from architecture to electrical engineering), 78 percent of all patents, 75 percent of graduate degree holders, 81 percent of R&D employment, and 94 percent all venture funding. In short, cities churn out the innovations that produce growth.But the cities don't just care for themselves: their wealth vastly benefits rural areas. According to the Tax Foundation, a non-partisan research outfit, the most recent data show that in 2005, New York State sent $24 billion more to the federal government than it received in federal spending; California's loss is $48 billion. In both states, nearly all revenues-and thus taxes paid to Washington-come from metro-area residents. (That's not a one-year glitch-the trend has endured over time.) By contrast, the 32 states that made out like bandits are among the country's most rural, including South Dakota, Louisiana, West Virginia, and-you betcha!-Alaska. Socialism indeed: Without those extra federal dollars, those states would be laid even lower, as our economy inexorably shifts away from manufacturing and towards services, like nursing or computer programming.As important as our cities are to the national economy, they are woefully underserved, if not outright scorned, by the federal government. As Alan Berube, research director at Brookings' Metropolitan Policy Program, says, "The federal government is not maximizing the productivity of our cities. It's running a playbook from the 1960s." Back then, zoning and massive highway programs favored sprawl, eventually creating our current unsustainable situation.Mayors and city governments don't have much power to reach across county and state lines-to tackle quality of life issues that put a drag on growth, such as worsening traffic, exacerbated by non-existent public transport. What's worse, the federal grants that do benefit cities are scattershot and often ineffective: According to Brookings, 14 federal departments and independent agencies administer 180 economic development programs. With so many separate programs and no overarching aim, our tax dollars can't be used to maximum effect.That's a gob-smacking, missed opportunity. Cities display massive economies of scale: Economists at the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia found that in the 1990s, holding everything else constant, doubling the employment density in a city center leads to a 20% increase in inventions per resident, due to greater opportunities for idea sharing.Thus, the solutions to those problems, as proposed by Brookings, read as common sense: greater interagency communication, federal policies that support cities, and empowering city agencies so that they can solve their own problems.During the election cycle, Barack Obama is sometimes referred to as the "first metropolitan candidate" since the 1920s. This isn't just a matter style (and could be his least appreciated strength). His campaign platform includes grants for green innovation and city transportation, as well as a White House office of urban policy. Those might seem like luxuries, given a roiling financial crisis and a rural America that's still bleeding. But, in the long run, we'll all suffer if we don't double down on the places that promise the most return: Cities.(Photo from Flickr user Joel Bedford.)

This article was produced in partnership with the United Nations to launch the biggest-ever global conversation on the role of cooperation in building the future we want.

When half of the world's population doesn't share the same opportunity or rights as the other half, the whole world suffers. Like a bird whose wings require equal strength to fly, humanity will never soar to its full potential until we achieve gender equality.

That's why the United Nations made one of its Sustainable Development Goals to "Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls." That goal includes providing women and girls equal access to education and health care, as well as addressing gender-based discrimination and violence against women and girls.

While there is still much work to be done, history shows us that we are capable of making big leaps forward on this issue. Check out some of the milestones humanity has already reached on the path to true equality.

Historic Leaps Toward Gender Equality

1848 The Seneca Falls Convention in New York, organized by Elizabeth Lady Stanton and Lucretia Mott, is the first U.S. women's convention to discuss the oppression of women in sociopolitical, economic, and religious life.

1893 New Zealand becomes the first self-governing nation to grant national voting rights to women.

1903 Marie Curie becomes the first woman to win a Nobel Prize. She is also the only woman to win multiple Nobel Prizes, for Physics in 1903 and Chemistry in 1911.

1920 The 19th Amendment is passed in the U.S. giving women the right to vote in all 50 U.S. states.

1973 The U.S. Open becomes the first major sports tournament of its kind to offer equal pay to women, after tennis star Billie Jean King threatened to boycott.

1975 The first World Conference on Women is held in Mexico, where a 10-year World Plan of Action for the Advancement of Women is formed. The first International Women's Day is commemorated by the UN in the same year.

1979 The UN General Assembly adopts the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), also known as the "Women's Bill of Rights." It is the most comprehensive international document protecting the rights of women, and the second most ratified UN human rights treaty after the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

1980 Vigdis Finnbogadottir of Iceland becomes the first woman to be elected head of state in a national election.

1993 The UN General Assembly adopts the Declaration on the Elimination of Violence against Women, the first international instrument to explicitly define forms of violence against women and lay out a framework for global action.

2010 The UN General Assembly creates the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN Women) to speed progress on meeting the needs of women and girls around the world.

2018 The UN and European Union join forces on the Spotlight Initiative, a global, multi-year initiative focused on eliminating all forms of violence against women and girls.

As the UN celebrates its 75th anniversary, it is redoubling its commitment to reach all 17 Sustainable Development Goals, including gender equality. But it will take action and effort from everyone to ensure that women and girls are free from discrimination and violence. Learn more about what is being done to address gender equality and see how you can get involved here.

And join the global conversation about the role of international cooperation in building the future by taking the UN75 survey here.

Let's make sure we all have a say in the future we want to see.

via WFMZ / YouTube

John Perez was acquitted on Friday, February 21, for charges stemming from an altercation with Allentown, Pennsylvania police that was caught on video.

Footage from September 2018 shows an officer pushing Perez to the ground. After Perez got to his feet, multiple officers kicked and punched him in an attempt to get him back on the ground.

Perez claims he was responding to insults hurled at him by the officers. The police say that Perez was picking a fight. The altercation left Perez with a broken nose, scrapes, swelling, and bruises from his hips to his shoulder.

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