The British computer scientist known as the inventor of the World Wide Web, Timothy Berners-Lee, says Australian proposals to make tech giants pay for journalism could set a precedent that makes the Internet unworkable as we know it.
“In particular, I am concerned that the code risks violating a fundamental web principle by requiring payment for links between certain online content,” Berners-Lee told a Senate committee that would scrutinise a bill that would create the News Media Negotiating Code.
It’s a question separating supporters and opponents of the new Australian law: would it essentially allow Google and Facebook “pay for clicks” and could it be the beginning of the end of free access?
In the European Union, where officials and lawmakers are drafting sweeping new digital legislation, the battle is being watched closely.
Google claims that the regulation allows it to pay for clicks. Google regional managing director Melanie Silva told the same Senate committee that she was most worried about reading Berners-submission Lee’s last month that the code “requires payments just for links and snippets.”
“The concept of paying for appearing purely in our organic search results to a very small group of website or content creators sets a dangerous precedent for us that presents unmanageable risk from a product and business model point of view,” Silva said.
Facebook regional vice president Simon Milner accepted that “entirely uncapped and unknowable” was the possible expense for news under the code.
Australia’s code uniquely provides a safety net for negotiation. An arbitration tribunal will prohibit digital giants from exploiting their dominant bargaining positions by providing take-it-or-leave-it payment deals to news businesses for their journalism.
The panel must make a binding decision on whose best-offer wins in the case of a standoff.
The monetary value of public interest journalism has yet to be identified, said Peter Lewis, director of the Australia Institute’s Center for Responsible Technology think tank.
“Lewis said, “The reason it’s like an ephemeral phase, if you like, is that nobody’s ever tried this before.
What do you value the absent ads of fact-based news? News was still valued on the basis of the amount of advertisements that the outlet might sell. “We are now trying to work out the value of public interest journalism because Google and Facebook have dominated the advertising market and taken that out of the equation,” Lewis said.
By speeding up discussions on licencing content deals with Australian media companies through its own News Showcase model, Google has responded to the threat of mandatory arbitration.
Facebook replied Thursday by banning Australian news from being viewed and shared by users.
After weekend talks with Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and Sundar Pichai, chief executive of Alphabet Inc. and its subsidiary Google, Treasurer Josh Frydenberg amended draught legislation to make it clear that the platforms will not be charged per news snippet or connection.
We never expected it to be that… If the arbitrator oversaw a contract between a TV station and one of the digital platforms, they will, for example, make the digital platform pay 2 cents for each click over the next year, Frydenberg said. Never has that been the goal. The plan was always to have a lump sum payment and that is what we made clear in the code.
Dan Stinton is Guardian Australia and New Zealand’s managing director, negotiating a licencing arrangement through Google’s News Showcase.
Stinton said Google has gained from news through interaction with journalism-related search users, Google’s customer data obtained from publishers, and its share of revenue from advertising published with news articles.
“Google has been prosecuting an argument that Search is asking them to pay for links, and that is not the case,” said Stinton.
“They don’t steal published content, but I think they use their market power to choose their own companies to the detriment of publishers, and that’s not right,” Stinton said.
It’s not only paying for search links and snippets, it’s paying for the full advantage that Google gets,” he added.”
Since it launched News Showcase in October, Google has signed pay deals with more than 450 publications globally.
New regulations aimed at taming the largest digital ‘gatekeepers’ have been introduced by the EU Executive Commission. Proposals making their way through discussions between representatives from the parliament of the 27-member bloc may be revised to incorporate elements of the model of Australia.
Similar digital changes are being planned by Britain, which recently left the EU, which include shaking up the relationship between web media and news publishers.
“There’s definitely an influence” from Australia, said Angela Mills Wade, executive director of the European Publishers Council, an advocacy organisation representing media companies. “It is being closely monitored by all those who have an interest in the result.”
The EU has also set out a way for publishers and news media to enter into licencing arrangements under updated copyright laws on online platforms. France was the first country to incorporate certain laws into domestic law, but Google initially baulked at payments. Nevertheless, a court forced it into negotiations with a publishing company that culminated in a process for individual deals to be concluded.
The demand for binding arbitration if payment talks do not lead to an agreement is one aspect of the Australian model that has drawn interest in Europe, which Google has opposed because it would give the company less influence.
Mills Wade said many leading EU lawmakers would like to add to the digital regulations an arbitration process.
“Given that the scope of publishers’ rights has been undermined by Google and Facebook, it is clear that regulatory measures, particularly the final arbitration mechanism, are required,” Mills Wade said. “Otherwise, most publishers will not have the bargaining power to conclude agreements.”
Other news payment agreements have been hit by Google, including a multi-year arrangement with tycoon Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp.
Mills Wade welcomed the offer, stating that it illustrates that Google places “enormous value” on news material.
“However, regulators in Australia, as well as in Europe, should not be misled into thinking that single deals are the answer to ensuring fair remuneration for all large and small publishers whose content is used by Google, particularly just before comprehensive laws come into effect,” she said.
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — The former Minneapolis police officer convicted of murder in the death of George Floyd pleaded not guilty Thursday to violating the civil rights of a teenager in a separate case that involved a restraint similar to the one used on Floyd.
Derek Chauvin was convicted earlier this year on state charges of second-degree unintentional murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter in Floyd’s 2020 death. He was sentenced to 22 1/2 years. He’s also charged in federal court with violating Floyd’s civil rights when he knelt on the Black man’s neck for about 9 1/2 minutes as Floyd was facedown on the pavement, not resisting and pleading for air.
But another indictment against Chauvin alleges he carried out a similar act against a then-14-year-old boy in 2017. This indictment alleges Chauvin deprived the teenager, who is Black, of his right to be free of unreasonable force when he held the teen by the throat, hit him in the head with a flashlight and held his knee on the boy’s neck and upper back while he was prone, handcuffed and not resisting.
When U.S. Magistrate Judge Hildy Bowbeer asked how he would plead to the charge, Chauvin replied, “Not guilty, your honor.”
Thursday’s hearing was held via videoconference, and Chauvin appeared from the state’s maximum security prison, where he’s being held following his murder conviction. He was in a large room, and wearing a plain T-shirt as he sat at the head of a long table. No one was visible in the room with him, but a man was seen behind a window pane over Chauvin’s shoulder. He had some paper on the table in front of him and appeared to take notes.
Thursday’s hearing also addressed some pretrial motions, which were routine.
According to a police report from the 2017 encounter, Chauvin wrote that the teen resisted arrest and after the teen, whom he described as 6-foot-2 and about 240 pounds, was handcuffed, Chauvin “used body weight to pin” him to the floor. The boy was bleeding from the ear and needed two stitches.
That encounter was one of several mentioned in state court filings that prosecutors said showed Chauvin had used neck or head and upper body restraints seven times prior to Floyd’s death dating back to 2014, including four times state prosecutors said he went too far and held the restraints “beyond the point when such force was needed under the circumstances.”
Chauvin and three other former officers — Thomas Lane, J. Kueng and Tou Thao — were arraigned on civil rights violations in Floyd’s death on Tuesday. All four pleaded not guilty to those charges. The indictment in the 2017 case was filed the same day as the one for Floyd’s death.
According to the indictment in Floyd’s death, the officers allegedly deprived Floyd of his rights while acting under government authority. The federal indictment alleges Chauvin violated Floyd’s right to be free from unreasonable seizure and from unreasonable force by a police officer. Thao and Kueng are charged with violating Floyd’s right to be free from unreasonable seizure by not intervening to stop Chauvin as he knelt on Floyd’s neck. All four officers are charged with depriving Floyd of his rights when they failed to provide medical care.
Floyd repeatedly said he couldn’t breathe as Chauvin pinned him to the ground. Kueng and Lane helped restrain Floyd; Kueng knelt on Floyd’s back, and Lane held Floyd’s legs, according to evidence in state court. Thao held back bystanders and kept them from intervening.
Find AP’s full coverage of the death of George Floyd at: https://apnews.com/hub/death-of-george-floyd
Every year, TIME magazine takes it upon itself to determine which public figures are the most influential, and in 2021, several prominent artists have made the roster. It stands to reason that this would be the case, given that 2021’s turbulence has begged for cultural interpretation, but even so, the names chosen for the list are appropriately diverse and wide-ranging in terms of the subject matter they deal with. The artists chosen for the final tally include Barbara Kruger, whose feminist art insists upon itself with blazing boldness, as well as Luis Manuel Otero Alcántara, a Cuban dissident artist who’s recently been involved in antigovernment protests.
Also included: Mark Bradford, a large-scale abstract painter whose artworks have tackled subject matter including AIDS and isolation. Bradford was one of many artists who used his talents to try to capture the mood of the coronavirus pandemic, and Anita Hill, who wrote the TIME blurb praising the painter, was careful to point this out. “While in quarantine, he created paintings that convey the isolation, violence, struggles and resilience that marked our time apart,” Hill writes. “Mark’s work gives me hope that the challenges we’ve faced will help to connect us. Though future disasters may seem inevitable, Mark’s art has shown us how we might avoid them, if only we are brave enough to see.”
Art critic and historian Hal Foster is similarly effusive on the subject of Kruger. “Last year she had copies of a 1991 version of this work pasted on the streets of Szczecin, Poland, in response to restrictive new abortion laws there,” Foster says. “Always alert to questions of audience and venue, Kruger forever seeks new ways to intervene in the public sphere, drawing political debate into artistic practice and vice versa.”
Finally, none other than Ai Weiwei was tasked with summing up Alcántara. “Although he has since been imprisoned, his life, behavior and expression as a whole are so powerful that they can resist the aesthetic and ethical degeneration of authoritarianism,” Weiwei writes. He should know, given how much trouble he continues to get himself in back in Hong Kong.
K-pop mega group BTS will accompany South Korean President Moon Jae-in as special presidential envoys at the 76th session of the United Nations General Assembly in New York next week.
Awarding ceremony: The seven-man group was awarded the certificates on Tuesday appointing them as “Special Presidential Envoys for Future Generations and Culture” in a ceremony at the Blue House, according toKorea JoongAng Daily.
At the ceremony, BTS member Kim Nam-joon, better known as “RM,” said it was a “great honor to be able to do something with the title of a special presidential envoy for future generations and culture.”
“We always thought about whether we could repay all the love we have received and give back at the same time, and we are honored that the president has given us such a great opportunity and will work hard as special envoys,” the band’s leader added.
The theme of next week’s U.N. General Assembly meeting is: “Building resilience through hope — to recover from Covid-19, rebuild sustainability, respond to the needs of the planet, respect the rights of people, and revitalize the United Nations.”
BTS will reportedly accompany Moon during his U.S. trip from Sept. 19 to 23,ABC News reported. The group has accompanied the South Korean president to a U.N. General Assembly in the past, where RMdelivered a speech as part of the ongoing UNICEF “Love Myself” campaign.
Their duties: Named as special envoys in July, BTS is expected to “deliver a message of comfort and hope to young people worldwide” and “facilitate diversity, environment and equality around the world.”
BTS’ first duties as special envoys will begin when they accompany Moon to the U.N. General Assembly next week for the second meeting of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG Moment).
The band’s attendance at the meeting will “serve as a meaningful opportunity to expand communication with future generations around the world and draw their sympathy on major international issues,” the Blue House said in a statement, referring to the band’s considerable reach with younger people.
Share your story: BTS announced a new project, titled “Youth Today, Your story,” following the special envoy announcement.
“What were the past 2 yrs like for you, and what’s your world like today?” the group asked their followers on Twitter. “Express the precious things that make up your world or show who you are now with an image, an emoji or a word.”
Dear young people, What were the past 2 yrs like for you, and what’s your world like today? Express the precious things that make up your world or show who you are now with an image, an emoji or a word
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Last week, New York Fashion Week didn’t just come back, it came roaring back. After being sent largely online for the last few seasons, a decent portion of its presentations were finally in person (while other contingents were either streamed online, offered as high-production videos or in-person but private visits).
We thought it was worth looking back at the full bounty of what was presented in all of the shows, and picking a few of the highlights. Here’s a snapshot of my five favorite, standout looks that I can’t wait to see worn once the weather starts getting warm next year.
Sandy Liang’s deconstructed creamy, dreamy dress There’s something extra cool about a dress that’s romantic to begin with, but has been meticulously deconstructed. That’s what’s going on with this number. With its off-white hue and flowy layers, it’s artful enough to be worn on its own with some delicate jewelry and heels to a patio party, and original enough to counterbalance a moto jacket and black boots.
Rodarte’s acid yellow fringe dress
Rodarte has long been a creator of magical, almost surreal pieces in the fashion arena, bringing a trippy California vibe and dovetailing it with modern colors, strategically frayed fabrics and otherwise interesting spins on modern, handcrafted design. And that’s why the line’s all-fringe, all-bright yellow frock caught my eye. I can’t wait to see one light up a party.
Brandon Maxwell’s shimmer meets leather look
It was a match made in runway heaven: Flowy, feminine silks and satins in psychedelic swirls and endless shimmer were paired with casual T-shirts and structured leather and croc pieces. And it worked best in a look I could see wearing from a work meeting straight to dinner out: a blue pleated, holographic silk maxi skirt paired with a robin’s egg-blue leather jacket.
Tom Ford’s head-to-toe purple
Ford truly loves to put on a show. And this one was full of celebratory color, sequins and silk cargo pants. I especially loved his head-to-toe lilac look — a deluge (and yet a still-very-wearable deluge) of deep purple knickers, a satin button-down shirt tied seductively at the waist and velvet smoking jacket. Whatever is going on with COVID next spring, it’s a look with in-person presence and — dare I say it — true exuberance.
Adam Lippes’ minimalist separates
Sometimes you just can’t beat an impeccably made, solid color piece that moves just the way you want it to. That’s the practical-but-ethereal sense you get from Adam Lippes in this latest collection, thanks to flowy and well-tailored pants in dusty rose, and white lace, pouf-sleeved blouses that evoke special occasions but are incredibly easy to toss on and wear just about anywhere.
With their New York-bound plane sitting on the tarmac at Minneapolis-Saint Paul International Airport with mechanical difficulties on Sunday, Twins catcher Ryan Jeffers decided to use the opportunity to learn something.
“I was just talking to one of the flight guys who works out there, just talking about different airplanes and asking questions,” Jeffers said. “It’s just who I am.”
Jeffers uses this example to explain why, in an up-and-down season, he still feels confident he’ll be a consistently better major leaguer than he has been this season. A hunger for learning — Jeffers was a physics major in college — can only help him in that effort. And after a brief taste of the majors last season, the 2021 season has been all about learning for Jeffers.
“I’m always learning. I don’t like going into situations and not knowing or not understanding. I like to be informed, I like to learn, I like to grow,” he said. “And that’s something I’ve always done. Whether it’s hitting, whether it’s defensive, whether it’s stuff completely unrelated.”
With Mitch Garver on and off the injured list twice this year — first with a groin injury, now with back tightness — Jeffers has seen more time behind the plate this year than Garver, even with an early-season demotion back to Triple-A.
In 76 games, Jeffers has hit .202 with a .275 on-base percentage and .408 slugging percentage with 13 home runs. He turned in one of his better games of the season on Tuesday, collecting three hits, including a home run, and driving in four in a Twins win against the Cleveland Indians.
There’s more of that coming, he believes.
“Just continuing to work and continuing to grow and get better every day really is possible by staying in the lineup,” Jeffers said. “Who knows what the next couple years entail? But I want to be that guy catching 120 games, 130 games.”
However the Twins split playing time with their catchers over the course of the next couple of weeks — Garver is getting closer to making his return — this season will have proven a valuable one for Jeffers, showing him the ins and outs of what it takes to be an everyday major league catcher.
Twins manager Rocco Baldelli said it was one “unlike any year he’s ever played.”
“He’s going to have seen the light in some ways as to what it entails to go out there and do this job on a consistent basis at the major league level, and he’s learning to embrace it,” Baldelli said. “ … I do think the experience factor, the innings that he’s logging, the consecutive games that he’s played, there’s going to be a collective benefit for him going forward and it’s going to make him a better player.”
His willingness and desire to learn and expand his horizons — the same curiosity that led to him peppering an airport worker with questions — he believes will make him a better player.
“I know I can be one of the best-hitting catchers in baseball,” Jeffers said. “I know I can be one of the best defensive catchers in baseball.”
TWINS LIKELY TO MISS BERRIOS
The Blue Jays have not named a starter for Sunday’s series finale against the Twins but it doesn’t appear it will be former Twins right-hander José Berríos, who last pitched on Tuesday.
With an off day on Thursday, Berríos, is more likely to start on Monday, as long as he’s healthy. He left Tuesday’s start after seven strong innings with what Blue Jays manager Charlie Montoyo called left abdominal tightness, but he is expected to make his next start.
Berríos should be in line to start against his former team next weekend in his return to Target Field. Since the July 30 trade that sent Berríos to Toronto for prospects Austin Martin and Simeon Woods Richardson, Berrios has posted a 3.31 earned-run average across nine starts.
The Twins will have Michael Pineda start the first game in Toronto, followed by Bailey Ober on Saturday. They have not yet listed a starter for Sunday. The Blue Jays will counter with Hyun Jin Ryu and Steven Matz in the first two games.
WASHINGTON (NEXSTAR) — In the new book “Peril,” Watergate journalist Bob Woodward and co-author Robert Costa claim the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff circumvented former President Trump and his authority because he was worried about Trump’s stability.
The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs General Mark Milley is defending his past calls to Chinese officials as “keeping with his duties and responsibilities… to maintain strategic stability.”
“Frequent communication with two countries like China and Russia is not atypical at all,” said Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby.
The book “Peril” claims Milley made calls to China in October and January, reassuring his counterparts that then-President Trump would not launch a surprise military attack.
Senator Josh Hawley (R-MO) said Milley should resign or be fired.
“If it’s true, it means he broke the chain of command, it means he communicated with an opponent of the United States without civilian authorization — the authorization of his commander in chief,” said Hawley.
The book also claims Milley worried about Trump’s mental decline and asked U.S. military officials to contact him before launching nuclear attacks.
Former President Trump said if the story is true, he assumed Milley would be fired for treason.
“I have great confidence in General Milley,” President Joe Biden said.
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said understanding the calls requires context.
“The outgoing president of the United States, during this period of time, fomented unrest leading to an insurrection and attack on our nation’s capital,” said Psaki.
Psaki said Trump’s cabinet was also concerned and were “questioning the former president’s stability, his behavior and his suitability to see the national security of the United States.”
PSAKI SAID TRUMP’S CABINET WAS ALSO CONCERNED.
Hawley said Milley needs to explain himself before Congress as soon as possible.
EDWARDSVILLE, Ill.– The Edwardsville Police Department needs help finding a missing 48-year-old man. Grady Giger was last seen on the 900 block of Esic Drive around 1 p.m. Wednesday.
Police say Giger is not in possession of his medicine and needs to take it on a daily basis. He also often takes short walks and likes nearby comic book stores, gas stations, and restaurants but usually returns home within two hours.
Giger also has ties to the Alto area.
Giger is described as being 5’10”, weighing 280 lbs, brown hair and blue eyes, blue t-shirt, black suspenders and blue Jeans
Anyone with information regarding this investigation is asked to contact the Edwardsville Police Department at (618) 656-2131.
WASHINGTON — The number of Americans seeking unemployment benefits moved up last week to 332,000 from a pandemic low, a sign that worsening COVID infections may have slightly increased layoffs.
Applications for jobless aid rose from 312,000 the week before, the Labor Department said Thursday. Jobless claims, which generally track the pace of layoffs, have fallen steadily for two months as many employers, struggling to fill jobs, have held onto their employees. Two weeks ago, jobless claims reached their lowest level since March 2020.
Jobless claims rose 4,000 in Louisiana, evidence that Hurricane Ida has led to widespread job losses in that state. Ida will likely nick the economy’s growth in the current July-September quarter, though repairs and rebuilding efforts are expected to regain those losses in the coming months.
Still, Ida shut down oil refineries in Louisiana and Mississippi about two weeks ago and left more than 1 million homes and businesses without electricity. But Ida’s impact was limited: Applications for jobless aid fell slightly in Mississippi.
The job market and the broader economy have been slowed in recent weeks by the delta variant, which has discouraged many Americans from traveling, staying in hotels and eating out. Earlier this month, the government reported that employers added just 235,000 jobs in August after having added roughly a million people in both June and July.
Hiring in August plummeted in industries that require face-to-face contact with the public, notably restaurants, hotels and retailers. Still, some jobs were added in other areas, and the unemployment rate actually dropped to 5.2% from 5.4%.
The steady fall in weekly applications for unemployment benefits coincides with a scaling-back of aid for jobless Americans. Last week, more than 8 million people lost all their unemployment benefits with the expiration of two federal programs that covered gig workers and people who have been jobless for more than six months. Those emergency programs were created in March 2020, when the pandemic first tore through the economy.
An additional 2.7 million people who are receiving regular state unemployment aid lost a $300-a-week federal unemployment supplement last week.
Scientists are divided on the topic of COVID-19 vaccine booster shots, and the debate hinges on whether it is more appropriate to give booster shots to the fully vaccinated population or if those doses should be saved for the unvaccinated. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s vaccine advisory committee is set to meet on Friday to vote on whether the agency should approve a third dose of the COVID-19 vaccine developed by Pfizer and BioNTech.
The vaccine committee, consisting of independent scientists and advisors, will review new data submitted by Pfizer about the safety and efficacy of a third booster shot based on real-world studies. The FDA doesn’t have to follow the committee’s recommendation, but it usually does.
The Biden administration has expressed strong support for giving booster shots to Americans, but said the ultimate decision will be left to the FDA and the CDC.
Pfizer data submitted to the FDA on Wednesday showed that a third dose of its mRNA vaccine six months after a second shot restores protection from infection to 95 percent. Without a third shot, protection wanes over time, dropping from the peak 95 percent a few weeks after the second dose to below 84 percent four months later.
However, some scientists say the added benefits don’t matter if a significant portion of the world’s population remain unvaccinated.
On Monday, a group of top scientists, including two senior FDA officials and several with the World Health Organization, authored an article in the medical journal The Lancet, arguing that “current vaccine supplies could save more lives if used in previously unvaccinated populations than if used as boosters in vaccinated populations.”
“Even if some gain can ultimately be obtained from boosting, it will not outweigh the benefits of providing initial protection to the unvaccinated,” the authors wrote. “If vaccines are deployed where they would do the most good, they could hasten the end of the pandemic by inhibiting further evolution of variants.”
They also reasoned that boosters are not needed in the general population, because existing vaccine regimes are still highly effective at preventing severe illness and death, even against the delta variant.
Nearly 58 percent of the world population hasn’t received any COVID-19 vaccine, according to Our World in Data. In the U.S., despite ample vaccine supply, less than 55 percent of the population are fully vaccinated, still far from the coverage needed for herd immunity.
Last month, the WHO called on rich countries with vaccine surpluses to hold off on booster shots until the end of the year to ensure sufficient supply for poor countries. Yet, several developed countries have moved ahead with booster shots anyway—for certain groups.
The U.S. authorized the third booster shot of Pfizer vaccine for immunocompromised people in August. France began administering booster shots on September 1 to people over 65 and those with underlying health conditions. The U.K, Ireland and Greece have followed suit since then.
The Pfizer-BioNTech shot is the only fully approved COVID-19 vaccine in the U.S. The other two popular vaccines, made by Moderna and Johnson & Johnson, are authorized for emergency use only.
In the early part of last century, women couldn’t cast a ballot, much less be on one for mayor. And speaking out for the cause could land a lady behind bars.
Back in February 1919, Boston threw President Woodrow Wilson a welcome home parade on his way back from the Paris Peace conference. Members of the National Woman’s Party picketed for women’s right to vote in front of the State House viewing stand. They were arrested and taken to jail.
Women got the right to vote in the U.S. in 1920, and this year on Nov. 2, voters will cast their ballots for either Michelle Wu or Annissa Essaibi-George as mayor of Boston.
Change is never fast enough.
Change has been top of mind in this mayoral campaign — how the status quo is no longer working, how voters need a voice, how Boston’s communities are desperate for positive changes.
Yet what was stark in its constancy was the preliminary election’s low voter turnout.
As the Herald reported, with just a few hours left before polls closed, only about two in 10 registered voters had shown up to vote — and that number was even lower in some neighborhoods.
In the end, about 108,000 votes were tallied, a little less than a quarter of Boston’s registered voters.
This is not a new trend — the seeming apathy during local elections is one cities across the nation have bemoaned.
It’s not as if people don’t care about what’s going on with our neighbors, our neighborhoods and our community in general. Over the past few years we’ve seen marchers take to the streets — some peacefully, some not — for a variety of causes.
There have been calls for police reform, social reform, affordable housing and an end to gun violence, to name a few. Families will stand in the cold to protest online-only learning in the face of a pandemic, or protest mandatory mask-wearing.
We’ll work long and hard to help each other — as volunteers packed boxes with food and supplies for low-income families in the early days of the pandemic and kept the goodwill going as COVID dragged on. Donations poured in, and folks drove strangers without transportation to vaccination sites.
Bostonians aren’t apathetic when it comes to stepping up to the plate, why are we when it comes to stepping up to the voting booth?
One possible cause that’s been bandied about is lack of competition.
The last time Boston had a Republican mayor was in the late 1920s, one Malcolm Nichols. Fun facts: He was the State House reporter for the Boston Traveler, and was preceded and succeeded by James M. Curley. Since then, it’s been Democrats all the way.
With a field of five hailing from the same party, as it did this year, differences on the issues are subtle more than earth-shattering. No one is against affordable housing. No one thinks the situation at Mass and Cass is great and doesn’t require intervention. Everyone’s caught up on the gunfire on Boston’s streets.
When the differences between candidates come down to what kind of Democrat is on the menu — progressive or moderate — then the mayor’s office can appear to be on auto-pilot to voters.
If you vote, a Democrat will win. If you don’t, a Democrat will win.
One of the items on the next mayor’s to-do list should be ramping up civic engagement.