TIME Innovation

Five Best Ideas of the Day: March 24

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C.

1. Lee Kuan Yew didn’t think Singapore could survive true democracy. After his death, Singapore must do just that.

By Max Boot in Commentary

2. Resilience means more than flexible infrastructure. Cities must open doors to creative vibrance through the arts.

By Jason Schupbach at 100 Resilient Cities

3. Why does China need the next Dalai Lama?

By the Economist

4. The robots of the near future aren’t threatening. They’re boring.

By Erik Sofge in Popular Science

5. Can we truly redesign the experience of death?

By Jon Mooallem in California Sunday

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME cities

Someone Is Posting Racist Stickers on Austin Storefronts

The stickers used the city’s logo, but the mayor condemned them

Stickers that say “exclusively for white people” were posted on local businesses in Austin, Texas this week.

The stickers were marked with the city logo and claimed to be “sponsored by the City of Austin,” but Mayor Steve Adler moved quickly to reject that claim and condemn them.

“This is an appalling and offensive display of ignorance in our city,” Adler said in a statement Wednesday. “Austin condemns this type of hurtful behavior. Our city is a place where respect for all people is a part of our spirit and soul.”

The city said it would monitor businesses for additional postings and would “take appropriate action” if more stickers show up.

TIME Transportation

This Chart Shows Why New York Might Not Be America’s Hardest Working City

Why that title might belong to San Francisco instead


The city that never sleeps isn’t actually working the longest hours.

New York lives up to its reputation of America’s hardest working city only if you count commuting time as work hours, according to a new report from the city’s comptroller. That might be fair considering how New Yorkers endure the nation’s lengthiest commutes: 6 hours and 18 minutes each week on average.

But judging strictly on work hours, the hardest working city is San Francisco, Calif., followed by Charlotte, N.C., and Washington, D.C., which are tied for second.

Check out the full survey here.

TIME cities

See How Bad Your Commute Is Compared to Other Cities

People board an uptown 5 train at Union Square on Jan. 28, 2015 in New York City.
Andrew Burton—Getty Images People board an uptown 5 train at Union Square on Jan. 28, 2015 in New York City.

Let's all move to Louisville

Sorry, New Yorkers—you officially spend more time commuting to work than residents of any other U.S. city do, with an average of 6 hours and 18 minutes spent going back and forth per week.

That time spent also gives New York the designation of having the longest average work week in the country, according to a new economic brief from the city’s comptroller’s office. Now you know why the city never sleeps.

Technically, San Francisco residents work more hours than New Yorkers do on average, but because their commute times are shorter by roughly an hour and a half per week, their work weeks are ultimately shorter too.

Of the 30 major cities surveyed, Chicago had the second-longest weekly commute time (5 hours, 25 minutes) while the Louisville, Ky., area had the shortest, with residents only traveling for about three hours and 27 minutes.

See the complete report over at Capital New York.

Read next: These Cities Have The Worst Traffic in the World, Says a New Index

Listen to the most important stories of the day.

TIME cities

Salt Lake City and Austin Ranked Best for Job Creation in U.S.

New York City is dead last among the top 50 metro areas

Salt Lake City, Utah, and Austin, Texas, topped the rankings for job creation across all U.S. cities in 2014, according to a poll by research-based consulting company Gallup. They are followed by San Francisco, whose Bay Area is home to tech giants like Apple, Google and Facebook, while another Texas city, Houston, and Orlando, Fla., round off the top five.

The nation’s financial powerhouse New York City, meanwhile, ranked dead last among the top 50 metro areas, joined by San Diego, Calif., and Hartford, Conn., in the bottom three.

The poll was done through a telephone survey of over 200,000 randomly selected participants across the country, who were divided into Metropolitan Statistical Areas that were then assigned a “Job Creation Index” score. Among the top 50, these scores ranged from 37 for Utah and Austin to 20 for Hartford, San Diego and New York.

While U.S. job creation on the whole has been improving since the 2009 recession, the trend among the cities with high job creation appears to be an increasing demand in the technology sector. Housing and construction jobs are also growing in the top two cities to meet the increasing demands placed on them by the work force, Gallup said.


Your Red Light Traffic Ticket May Have Just Been Tossed

car speeding through red light
Getty Images—Getty Images

Florida judges just dismissed 24,000 traffic tickets—totaling more than $6 million in citations—that were issued as a result of red light cameras.

Tens of thousands of drivers in Florida who were hit with $264 traffic tickets because of violations recorded by cameras installed at red lights are now off the hook. The South Florida Sun-Sentinel reports that two traffic judges in Broward County have tossed 24,000 pending ticket cases because part of the process for issuing the citations violates Florida state law.

“State law mandates that only law enforcement can issue violations,” the Sun-Sentinel explains. And yet, an Arizona-based vendor named American Traffic Solutions was responsible for reviewing the footage captured by red light cameras in Florida, and then it forwarded the specifics on to police. Judges ruled that the involvement by the out-of-state party is itself a violation of state law, hence the decision to negate traffic citations worth $6.3 million.

The ruling may seem like a silly technicality, but it actually represents one of many reasons why red light camera programs have come under fire lately. Grassroots driver advocacy groups have been arguing that cities should get rid of red light cameras for years. Critics claim that the fines resulting from red light cameras are often unfair and absurdly expensive (close to $500 in some cases), while also making the case that the presence of cameras at red lights can actually decrease road safety as drivers slam on the brakes when they see them. Some studies indicate that rear-end collisions increase due to the presence of red light cameras.

What’s more, scandals have called various red light camera operations around the country into question. In Chicago, a $2 million bribery scheme resulted in the city dropping its contract with one red light camera vendor, while another investigation revealed strange, inexplicable spikes in tickets in certain locations in Chicago, signifying that someone had manipulated how and when citations would be issued.

Over the past week, the Chicago Tribune reported that city officials are aware that the city’s “yellow light times are too short for traffic conditions.” At the same time, however, the city isn’t adjusting yellow light times or speed limits accordingly. “What I see here tells me that in many cases throughout the city the yellow lights are too short and the speed limits are too low,” a traffic safety consultant named Hugh McGee said to the Tribune. “It is even more evidence that they want to use these things selectively as a way to collect revenue, unfortunately.”

Proponents of red light cameras—most notably, the companies that make money from the Big Brother-like programs—say that their usage absolutely makes roads safer, with traffic fatalities decreasing as the number of communities added cameras to the roadsides.

Still, for a wide range of reasons more and more municipalities are dumping their red light camera programs—including several in Florida during the time that above referenced case made its way through the courts. The state of New Jersey ended its red light camera program at the end of 2014, while officials and driver advocates in New York City have been demanding more transparency to red light camera systems—because there’s reason to be skeptical about the claims they actually improve driver and pedestrian safety.

TIME cities

Watch the Chicago River Go Green for St. Patrick’s Day

The Windy City's annual tradition continues on

St. Patrick’s Day falls on a Tuesday this year, which means some of the major celebrations of the holiday took place over the weekend.

For the Windy City, that meant Saturday was the day that the Chicago River went green, an annual tradition that dates back to 1962.

The dyeing takes about five hours and involves 40 lbs. of powdered green vegetable dye going overboard from a boat as it navigates the river. (The video is soundtracked – as virtually all St. Paddy’s day-themed videos must be – to an old Irish fiddle tune called the “Kesh Jig” – you may recognize it as the basis for Flogging Molly’s “Salty Dog.”).

“You don’t have to be Irish to enjoy this,” Katherine Malhas, who was named St. Patrick’s Day Queen in 1970, told the Chicago Tribune. “It’s a Chicago city celebration.”

And it just wouldn’t be St. Patrick’s Day without it.

This article originally appeared on People.com.

Read next: How America Invented St. Patrick’s Day

Listen to the most important stories of the day.


Boston Sees Historic St. Patrick’s Day Parade

St Patricks Parade Gays
Steven Senne—AP Retired U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Eric Bullen, of Westborough, Mass., left, holds an American flag as U.S. Army veteran Ian Ryan, of Dennis, Mass., front right, rolls up an OutVets banner after marching with a group representing LGBT military veterans in a Veterans Day parade in Boston, Nov. 11, 2014. The organizers of Boston's annual St. Patrick's Day parade voted to allow the group of gay veterans along with a second group, Boston Pride, to march in this year's parade.

Two gay groups participated, ending a two-decade ban

Two gay rights groups marched in Boston’s annual St. Patrick’s Day parade for the first time in its 114-year history on Sunday, ending a two-decade ban against participation by lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) groups in the annual celebration.

LGBT rights group Boston Pride and OutVets, an organization for gay veterans, joined in the South Boston St. Patrick’s Day Parade this year, as did Mayor Marty Walsh, who opted out last year because it didn’t allow gay groups. No Boston mayor had participated in the parade since 1995, when the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the Allied War Veterans Council’s ban on participants who identified as gay.

“I’m thrilled that the St. Patrick’s Day parade is inclusive this year, and the addition of Boston Pride to the list of participants reflects the values of the South Boston neighborhood,” Walsh said in a statement before the event. “With this year’s parade, Boston is putting years of controversy behind us.”

The parade route, which winds through the city’s traditional Irish-American section, was shortened by nearly half this year after heavy snowfall in recent months stymied road-clearing efforts, Reuters reports.

New York Mayor Bill de Blasio plans to boycott his city’s pride parade for the second year in a row because organizers won’t allow more than one gay group to participate.

TIME justice

Ferguson Activists Worry About Aftermath of Shooting

Police officers stand on alert during a protests outside the Ferguson Police Department on March 11, 2015 in Ferguson, Mo.
Michael B. Thomas—Getty Images Police officers stand on alert during a protests outside the Ferguson Police Department on March 11, 2015 in Ferguson, Mo.

Activists who have been protesting the police in Ferguson, Mo., are concerned that the shooting of two officers on Wednesday will cause renewed problems and derail their efforts.

In the wake of the shootings, the St. Louis County Police and the Missouri State Highway Patrol are returning to Ferguson Thursday evening to provide security for protests until further notice.

The two agencies were among the outside law enforcement brought in during the wave of protests that erupted shortly after the shooting death of Michael Brown by a Ferguson police officer, but they left after a state of emergency expired in December.

On a press call hosted by the Advancement Project on Thursday, activists who have been involved in the demonstrations since August say the return of the county and state police does not instill confidence that there will be a “measured” response as protests continue.

“We have seen this change in responsibilities before and what it ended up with was tear gas and tanks and hornets nests being thrown in the crowd,” said activist and author Rev. Osagyefo Sekou. “This change in role and responsibility has not yielded much for our democracy. “

Activists say they will continue engaging in non-violent protests, as they have for the past 200 days since the death of Michael Brown drew national attention to the small Missouri municipality.

“We are committed to non-violence,” Sekou said Thursday.

Thursday’s shooting couldn’t have come at a worse time for activists, who were just beginning to feel like they were reaching a tipping point after months of demonstrations. Last week, the Department of Justice released a report that affirmed what they’d been arguing: that unfair targeting of African Americans within the Ferguson community by police officers was at the root of the summer’s lasting unrest. On Wednesday, activists had gathered to celebrate the news that Ferguson Police Chief Thomas Jackson had resigned when an unknown person fired wounding two police officers.

“After over 200 days we’re finally at a place where we’re beginning, just beginning to see the possibility of progress,” said Rev. Traci Blackmon, a pastor at the Christ the King Church of Christ in Florissant, Mo. “I see this as having the potential of taking our attention off of where our focus must remain.”

She added, “ That’s why we are adamant and completely committed to not letting this derail the work that is in front of us.”

TIME cities

Ferguson City Manager Resigns in Wake of Justice Department Report

Ferguson City Manager John Shaw walks past a police officer as he leaves a closed door meeting with Ferguson's Mayor and city council on Mar. 9, 2015 in Ferguson, Mo.
James Cooper—Demotix/Corbis Ferguson City Manager John Shaw walks past a police officer as he leaves a closed door meeting with Ferguson's Mayor and city council on Mar. 9, 2015 in Ferguson, Mo.

John Shaw just the latest official from the St Louis suburb to lose job

John Shaw is out as the Ferguson city manager following a scathing Justice Department report that already has led to a Missouri appeals court judge being tapped to overhaul the local court system.

The City Council in the St. Louis suburb, beleaguered by unrest since a white police officer fatally shot 18-year-old Michael Brown last summer, announced a resolution Tuesday removing Shaw following the report last week that accused the Ferguson Police Department and municipal court system of racial bias.

The Justice Department investigation already has resulted in a shakeup: Racist emails included in the report led to the firing of the city clerk and resignation of two police officers last week.

And on Monday, Municipal Judge Ronald J. Brockmeyer resigned and was immediately replaced with a state appellate judge.

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