TIME cities

NYC Considers Pushing a Quieter Jackhammer on Construction Crews

A worker uses a pneumatic jackhammer to drill rock at the foundation for the World Trade Center's transportation hub, Nov. 10, 2011 in New York. Mark Lennihan—AP

Construction workers question the efficacy of electric models

New York City is considering a clampdown on one of its most enduring public nuisances, the jackhammer, by requiring construction crews to switch to a quieter, electric model.

The quieter models can shave roughly 10 decibels off of the noise level, cutting it in half, the New York Times reports. Manufacturers of electric jackhammers say their models, which have been on the market since at least 2011, can break through concrete as effectively as any pneumatic jackhammer, which runs on an ear-shattering technology that dates back to the 1800s.

A spokesperson for the General Contractors Association disputed those claims, telling the New York Times that the models could slow down heavy construction work and increase costs for developers.

Read more at the New York Times.

TIME Crime

9 Paintings in Big L.A. Art Heist Are Recovered

Authorities were tipped off about a man in Europe soliciting buyers

Court documents show local and federal authorities have recovered nine works of art that were stolen during a 2008 California heist, one of the largest in Los Angeles history.

Los Angeles police and the FBI launched an undercover operation after being tipped off in September about a man in Europe who was said to be soliciting buyers for the art, which was valued at $10 million but going for $700,000, the Los Angeles Times reports. The works recovered include Diego Rivera’s “Peasants” and a piece by Marc Chagall. They were among a dozen stolen from the home of a wealthy real estate investor in August 2008; three were still missing as of Dec. 1.

Raul Espinoza, 45, was charged with one count of receiving stolen property following the October bust and being held on $5 million bail. He pleaded not guilty at an arraignment on Oct. 27.

[Los Angeles Times]

TIME weather

Storm Brings Tornado to Los Angeles

The 'Pineapple Express' brought extreme weather to southern California Friday

The storm system dubbed a “Pineapple Express” swept through California Friday, triggering a tornado that tore off rooftops and felled trees in southern Los Angeles. The severe weather also brought rain that unleashed mudslides and prompted river rescues, and winds that knocked out power.

The National Weather Service confirmed that a small EF0 tornado — the smallest type of tornado with winds reaching 65 to 85 mph — touched down at about 9:20 a.m. Friday. The twister knocked down trees, blew out windows, damaged an apartment complex’s roof and the roofs of two homes and a steel billboard, NBC Los Angeles reported.

Read more from our partners at NBC News


Best—and Worst—Cities for Jobs in 2015

Cape Coral Florida along the Caloosahatchee River.
More than a third of employers in Cape Coral, Fla., plan to increase hiring next year. Florida Images—Alamy

These are the places where the most employers say they'll be adding jobs next year. Some of them might surprise you.

Big picture, the job market is doing pretty well. But drill down to the cities that are projecting the most—and the least—hiring when 2015 kicks off, and you find some surprising places.

In its quarterly Manpower Employment Outlook Survey, out today, the employment services company asked 18,000 employers in 100 metropolitan statistical areas how they expect hiring will change in the first quarter of 2015 compared with the fourth quarter of this year.

One-fifth of employers anticipate hiring staff in the first quarter, while just 6% are planning workforce cuts.

The strongest job prospects are expected in Cape Coral, Fla., with 32% of employers projecting more hiring. Better known as a Gulf Coast beach destination, Cape Coral was recently recognized as a top city for startup businesses. Growth in tourism and hospitality is also boosting the job market there.

Mexican border town McAllen, Texas, came in at number two, with 29% of employers projecting an increase in jobs. Thanks to the tariff-free trade agreements between the U.S. and Mexico, American companies including General Electric and Nokia have major facilities there, fueling job growth.

Deltona, Fla., another beach destination, came in third, with 26% of employers expecting to hire. Grand Rapids, Mich., headquarters for several major office-furniture manufacturers including Herman Miller, as well as a hub for aviation and auto manufacturers, also expects a 26% bump up in hiring.

At No. 5, Oxnard, Calif., is another city driven by international trade. Home to a major commercial port between Los Angeles and San Francisco, employers there expect a 24% jump in hiring in the first quarter.

Though the hiring outlook wasn’t negative in any of the 100 metropolitan areas Manpower surveyed, there were weak spots. Despite low unemployment rates, fewer than 10% of employers in these metropolitan areas expect to be adding jobs: Boston; Bridgeport, Conn,; Minneapolis; New York; Portland, Ore.; and Spokane, Wash.

For more places with hot job prospects, check out MONEY’s Best Places to Live:
The Best Places to Find a New Job
The Top-Earning Towns
See all the Best Places to Live



TIME Opinion

Like It or Not, Uber is Transforming Life in Middle America

Ridesharing services are under fire amid breakneck growth but they way they’re changing city life in flyover country is not trivial

In cities around the world, Uber is fighting for its life. On Monday, Portland, Oregon, sued to force the company to stop operating after it opened up shop without the city’s blessing. This comes on the heels of a statewide Uber ban in Nevada and a crackdown on the company in New Delhi following a rape accusation against a driver.

Many of Uber’s problems are of its own creation, a result of its extraordinarily fast ascent and equally extraordinary hubris. The company has managed to marry runaway success with a corporate culture that evidently permits executives to say and do some incredibly stupid things. And Uber drivers may have been involved in some truly scary assaults (which is not to say that traditional taxi drivers haven’t). But as taxi drivers, regulators and a critical media push back against the young company we’re faced with a baby and the bathwater situation. I want to make a case for not throwing out the good with the bad.

Uber, Lyft and other ridesharing services are often framed as alternatives to taxis. But the reality in most of America, where taxi services are often clunky and undependable, is that they aren’t alternatives to anything. They’re something entirely new that is transforming life and culture for the better.

I asked my network of friends who live outside the beltway and west of the Hudson River if, and if so, how, ridesharing had changed their lives.

“In a city like Houston where you can’t get a cab on the street (or very quickly from a call most of the time) it is life changing to have cheap car service available within minutes,” says Brandie Mask, a 29-year-old attorney. “Also, it’s great to have the same service in different cities so you don’t need to figure out the cab situation in an unfamiliar place. You just open your trusty app.”

When I posed the question to people in Tulsa, Oklahoma, (my hometown) the responses were unanimous that the recent introduction of ridesharing companies into the city had changed for the better how people move around town.

“I use Uber a lot in Tulsa,” said Mike Villafuerte, 35. “I been using them since I’ve had back surgery and also suffer from fibromyalgia. Last year I was in ICU for a month. I survived and I’m a big user of Uber to get to my doctor appointments.”

Amanda Gammill, 31, who lives with her husband in a suburb just outside of Tulsa, reports using ridesharing services while traveling and even on a night out in Tulsa though she owns a car. “We use it so we don’t get lost,” Gammill says. “And if we happen to decide to drink, we are safe. Cheaper than tolls, parking etc., and no risk of break in.”

The drinking and driving issue is key because in many cities rather than find a taxi dispatcher’s phone number and wait unknowable amount of time for a generally unclean car that may never come at all the truth is that many people just drink and drive. The question has come up before, as analysts—most notably Uber itself on its blog—have tried to parse out any correlation between a decline in DUI’s and the introduction of Uber into a market. Whether or not that is a causal relationship is a question for the statisticians but as a matter of cultural change there is no question as to the cause and its effect. By allowing people to efficiently get affordable rides between any location around town, ridesharing services are utterly transformative in the car-bound cities of Middle America.

In parts of the country where taxis are unreliable at best and public transportation is spotty if it exists at all, ridesharing links neighborhoods and opens cities up to the carless—or less car-dependent—lifestyle that many of todays urban professionals seem to prefer. Cities that shut down ridesharing services at the behest of grumbling taxi companies send a clear message to young professionals—move somewhere else, because this town ain’t for you. But just like it’s not only the kids these days who send text messages and have Facebook accounts, its not just the young and hip who use Uber.

Jason Boston, a driver for Uber and Lyft in Cincinnati, says that while he gets a lot of passengers in the younger set there’s a whole cohort of retired people who he sees using the services too. “I think the unique thing about the retirees,” he tells TIME, “is that they typically don’t go out that often but these new services allow them to go out with safe reliable options to get to and from a destination where they may have a few drinks.”

Last year I was at home alone in residential Washington, DC, attempting to fix a broken window when I slashed my arm on a piece of broken glass. I hardly needed an ambulance but I don’t own a car, wasn’t going to wait around for the bus and, with one arm useless and a belt tourniquet held taught through my teeth, I wasn’t inclined to start calling dispatchers trying to find a cab. So I opened up an app and caught a ride to the emergency room. That ride literally saved me hundreds of dollars.

The above is an extreme example but it illustrates how powerful ridesharing apps can be. In much of the country—especially the places between the coasts where most policymakers and national media people don’t live—the changes brought about by ridesharing aren’t trivial. Uber needs to grow up and all ridesharing companies need to make peace with regulators but cities that shutdown these services are likely to fall behind cities that don’t.

TIME cities

Chlorine Gas Sickens 19 at Furries Convention

Visitors of the Midwest FurFest convention walk on the street outside the Hyatt Regency O'Hare hotel on Dec. 7, 2014, in Rosemont, Ill.
Visitors of the Midwest FurFest convention walk on the street outside the Hyatt Regency O'Hare hotel on Dec. 7, 2014, in Rosemont, Ill. Nam Y. Huh—AP

Many were dressed in cartoonish animal costumes

(ROSEMONT, Ill.) — Chlorine gas sickened several people and forced the evacuation of thousands of guests from a suburban Chicago hotel early Sunday, including many dressed in cartoonish animal costumes for an annual furries convention who were ushered across the street to a convention center hosting a dog show.

Nineteen people who became nauseous or dizzy were treated at local hospitals, and at least 18 were released shortly thereafter. Within hours, emergency workers decontaminated the Hyatt Regency O’Hare and allowed people back inside. Six-foot-tall rabbits, foxes and dragons poured into the lobby, chatting and giving each other high paws.

“I think we’ll recover from this,” said Kit McCreedy, a 28-year-old from Madison, Wisconsin, his fox tail swinging behind him as he headed back inside for the last day of the Midwest FurFest. “People are tired but they’re still full of energy.”

The source of the gas was apparently chlorine powder left in a ninth-floor stairwell at the hotel, according to the Rosemont Public Safety Department. Investigators believe the gas was created intentionally and are treating it as a criminal matter.

McCreedy was one of a few thousand attendees for the Furfest, also called “Anthrocon,” in which attendees celebrate animals that are anthropomorphic — meaning they’ve been given human characteristics — through art, literature and performance. Many of the attendees, who refer to themselves as “furries,” wore cartoonish animal outfits.

While authorities conducted their investigation, organizers tried to assure the participants that the evacuation would not overshadow the convention. But attendees seemed to think the evacuation was part of the fun — particularly those who recalled being herded into the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center as it was hosting a dog show.

“In walk all these people dressed like dogs and foxes,” said Pieter Van Hiel, a 40-year-old technical writer from Hamilton, Canada, chuckling as he thought back to the scene.

Others said they did not have a clue as to why anyone would intentionally disrupt the convention that includes dance contests and panel discussions on making the costumes, with some quick to point out that the brightly colored outfits are made from fake fur and foam and not real fur.

“Nobody uses real fur,” said Frederic Cesbron, a 35-year-old forklift operator who rode a plane to Chicago from his home in France. He attended the convention dressed head-to-toe in a fox outfit that he said cost him about $2,000 four years ago but would go for $3,000 today.

Attendees said they came for fun, but also for the spiritual and artistic aspects of the convention that have them celebrating animal characters from movies, TV shows, comic books and video games. Some also create their own characters and appreciate being in an atmosphere where nobody seems surprised or shocked by an elaborate, bright purple dragon.

“Everyone is from a different background,” said Michael Lynch, a 25-year-old from Madison, Wisconsin, who, like his buddy, McCreedy, dressed as a fox. “Nobody judges anybody. It’s nice to come to a place like that.”

Or, as Van Hiel put it, “It’s kind of weird, but it’s not weird here.”

TIME Innovation

Five Best Ideas of the Day: December 3

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

1. The Obamas should consider teaching in an urban public school after 2016.

By Valerie Strauss in the Washington Post

2. Tech journalism needs to grow up.

By Michael Brendan Dougherty in The Week

3. Despite conventional wisdom to the contrary, the surge strategy didn’t end the war in Iraq. We shouldn’t try it again against ISIS.

By Daniel L. Davis in The American Conservative

4. Adjusting outdated rules for overtime could give middle class wages a valuable boost.

By Nick Hanauer in PBS News Hour’s Making Sense

5. A new solar power device can collect energy even on cloudy days and from reflected lunar light.

By Tuan C. Nguyen in Smithsonian Magazine

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

Power Has Been Restored In Detroit Following a 7-Hour Outage

Detroit Power Outage
Detroit fire fighters and EMS responded to the Coleman A. Young Municipal Center to rescue people from elevators and assist others down the stairs after a massive power outage hit downtown Detroit, Tuesday, Dec. 2, 2014. Diane Weiss—AP

Schools, colleges and public transportation are expected to resume normal operations Wednesday morning

Detroit’s electricity grid was restored Tuesday night, after an outage that saw large parts of the city — including schools and hospitals — lose power for about 7 hours.

The power went out at 10.30 a.m. and was completely restored by 5.15 p.m., Associated Press reports.

Among the major institutions affected were Detroit Receiving Hospital, which had to rely on backup power, and Wayne State University, which cancelled all classes for the second half of the day.

The university, and several public schools that were forced to declare a half-day, will reopen Wednesday, according to the Detroit Free Press.

A statement from city authorities said the outage also affected 740 traffic signals and 36 fire stations. It said that the DTE Energy Company has taken over the power grid’s operation and is in the process of an 18-month inspection of the system.

“This is a case where a part of the old system that hadn’t failed before failed,” said city mayor Mike Duggan, “Every month that goes by, we’ll be more and more on a more modern system and the likelihood of this happening will go down. But it’s part of rebuilding the city.”

TIME Crime

Violent Crime in New York City Hits 2-Decade Low

The number of homicides is down by 7%

Violent crime in New York City has declined to its lowest level since 1993, city officials said Tuesday.

“Thanks to the NYPD and the leadership of Police Commissioner [William] Bratton, crime in New York City is at historic lows,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said in a statement. “But this administration doesn’t rest on its laurels.”

The number of homicides decreased by 7% from this August to November compared with last year, while the number of robberies was down 14%.

The decline was even more dramatic for low-level marijuana arrests. The total decreased by 61% after the launch of a be Blasio program to issue tickets instead of arresting people in possession of small quantities of marijuana.

TIME cities

Detroit Hit by Massive Power Outage

Michigan Gov And Detroit Emergency City Manager Orr Discuss Bankruptcy Filing
A view of Downtown Detroit on July 19, 2013. Bill Pugliano—Getty Images

Fire stations, schools and office towers among the approximately 100 buildings without power

A sprawling power failure in downtown Detroit forced widespread closures and evacuations of buildings across the city on Tuesday.

City officials confirmed that a power grid went down Tuesday morning around 10:30 am, plunging courts, fire stations and office towers into darkness, according to reports by ABC News affiliate, WXYZ Detroit. A spokesperson for DTE Energy told USA Today that roughly 100 buildings had been affected.

The outage has forced some fire stations to switch on back-up generators, USA Today reports, and prompted a growing number of schools to close for the day. Wayne State University listed more than 40 buildings on campus affected by the outage.

Pictures of darkened buildings were shared on Twitter throughout the morning. The exact cause of the outage is still unknown.


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