When finished, Salesforce Tower will be the tallest building in San Francisco. For now, it’s a big hole in the ground. And at the bottom of that hole is a new, massive concrete slab—14 feet thick, spread nearly an acre in breadth, and ready to support 1,070 feet of glass, steel … and a lot more concrete.
Pouring it all took more than 18 hours on a cloudy San Francisco Sunday. An armada of trucks delivered nearly 49 million pounds of concrete and brontosaurine pumps vomited it into the hole while a small army of rubber-booted workers scurried about, directing the flow. It was one of the biggest, longest concrete pours in history.
And it’s all to keep the building upright. “Skyscrapers are basically big sticks coming out of the ground, so obviously one concern is the whole thing toppling over,” says Leonard Joseph, structural engineer at Thornton Tomasetti, a firm in Los Angeles. High wind or quaking earth can make buildings bend and wriggle, and if the wriggling takes the upper mass too far off center, the bottom of the building will begin to lift. This is called hinging, and it is very, very, bad: Buildings that hinge tend to collapse.
Holding back the hinge means attaching the structure to something big, solid, and subterranean. In places like Manhattan, developers can drill down and affix buildings directly to the island’s shallow bedrock. But San Francisco’s bedrock is below 300 feet of mud and clay, which is why the engineers for Salesforce Tower had to build a big, shallow, fake rock using concrete and metal.
The protests at Missouri won’t be the last.
The most striking thing about the racist incidents that forced the University of Missouri’s president and chancellor from office isn’t how unbelievable they are, but how banal. They could happen on any campus anywhere. They probably are. And now colleges are on notice: A timid response is unacceptable.
The protests at Missouri will not be the last.
The resignations of Missouri president Tim Wolfe and chancellor R. Bowen Loftin might quell the immediate crisis in Columbia, as the leaders hoped. But this isn’t just about one university’s tough semester. Over the past year, Americans have paid more attention to the role racism continues to play in everyday life, from the lingering symbols of the Confederacy to disparities in the criminal justice system.
Now that scrutiny has come around to universities. And while college leaders like to think of their institutions as progressive places, colleges, like other venerable American institutions, have both a past and a present laced with racism. For the first time since the late 1960s, students are forcing them to grapple seriously with it.
Historical racism at universities is getting more scrutiny
When black students took over administration buildings and held sit-ins at colleges in the late 1960s, they left change behind them: black studies majors, promises of increased student and faculty diversity, new financial aid programs.
Today’s protestors are picking up those half-finished fights and demanding universities return to that era’s unfulfilled promises. Administrators, the students argue, don’t understand and aren’t helping with the challenges and everyday slights that students of color face on campuses that were often originally built to keep them out.
Some of the wounds the students want addressed are old ones. After the Charleston shootings, the persistence of monuments and memorials to the Confederacy and defenders of slavery on college campuses drew public attention. The nation’s most prestigious universities were built with slave trade money and in some cases slave labor — a history that many universities, including those in the Ivy League, weren’t willing to explore until the 21st century.
The University of Texas moved its statue of Jefferson Davis. Bowdoin College, in Maine, got rid of its Jefferson Davis Award. Yale University is still trying to decide whether it should rename Calhoun College, named after the virulent defender of slavery and Southern secession.
- Athletes call for the resignation of university president
- Legion of Black Collegians put out message of discontent
Black players from the Missouri Tigers football team say they will not participate in team activities until the university president, Tim Wolfe, resigns.
There have been several incidents of racial harassment in recent weeks on the college campus and Wolfe has come under criticism for his handling of the situation. In one recent incident, excrement in the shape of a swastika was smeared on a dormitory wall while other students have complained that racist slurs are common at the university. Jonathan Butler, a black graduate student at the college, is currently on hunger strike over the issue.
On Saturday night, the Legion of Black Collegians posted a message on Twitter calling for Wolfe to resign.
“The athletes of color on the University of Missouri football team truly believe ‘injustice Anywhere is a threat to Justice Everywhere,’” the tweet said. “We will no longer participate in any football related activities until President Tim Wolfe resigns or is removed due to his negligence toward marginalized students’ experiences. WE ARE UNITED!!!!!”
Athletes from the team, including star running back Russell Hanbrough, featured in a photo accompanying the tweet.
The HBO host has accomplished what Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert never could. Here are a few of his best segments
John Oliver’s “This Week Tonight” is far and away the most refreshing thing on late-night TV. While other shows center around round-table chats and celebrity interviews, Oliver uses his massive platform to highlight overlooked but important political issues. Recently, he told CBS that his focus was “absurd public policies.”
By highlighting the absurdities of American institutions, he milks the injustice for a laugh while drawing the attention of millions of viewers to the issue. It’s a brilliant combination that, when it fires on all cylinders, makes for great comedy and sometimes even triggers reforms.
Here are his seven best segments.
1. Net Neutrality
Arguably Oliver’s breakout hit, this segment masterfully dissected the knotty issue of net neutrality and its effect on free speech. Oliver explained why creating a two-tiered Internet was unfair, and even recruited the Internet’s “vile commenters” to spam the FCC’s website, which was taking public comment at the time. As a result, the website crashed and FCC Chair Tom Wheeler had to hilariously insist to the public that he “wasn’t a dingo.”
2. Abusive Animal Agriculture Practices
Possibly the least sexy topic his show has ever covered, Oliver took on huge poultry processing corporations that exploit small farmers and work to gut legislation that regulates the industry and protects animal welfare. In one of the more clear-cut political wins, the segment actually resulted in a pro-industry rider being left out of the Agriculture Appropriations Bill this summer for the first time in years. Several members of Congress cited Oliver’s segment for providing the political will to remedy the problem.
3. Bail System Exploits the Poor
America’s bail system is a two-tiered system where those who can afford to pay their bail go free and those who can’t are often forced to plead guilty or waste away in lockup before trial. Like many of the topics Oliver covers, it’s an injustice that exists largely due to inertia, despite being widely condemned as being unfair. One month after Oliver’s segment aired, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announcedthe city was reforming its bail system to lessen the burden on low-level offenders, allowing a judge to release up to 3,000 defendants awaiting trial. While there were certainly other factors at play, many pundits insisted Oliver’s segment helped bring the topic to the forefront of public debate.
CNN and other media are reporting that U.S. and European intelligence suspect that ISIS or one of its affiliates used a bomb to bring down a Russian airplane over Sinai on Saturday, killing all 224 aboard. The reporting on this is early and it would be wise to withhold judgment until more information comes in, but this could be a very big deal. If confirmed, this attack would mark a major shift by the Islamic State and should force us to rethink the threat that the group poses to the world.
The caricature of ISIS is that its members are all wild-eyed fanatics bent on conquering the world, butchering, raping, and enslaving as they go. Unfortunately the caricature bears a strong resemblance to reality. But there is an important exception: While the Islamic State’s brutality is staggering, its operations have largely been limited in scope. The group seems new because Americans only really began to consider it a serious threat in 2014, after the beheading of journalist James Foley and the group’s sudden and massive incursion into Iraq. But it really began a decade before then in an earlier incarnation as Abu Musab al-Zarqawi’s al-Qaida in Iraq, which emerged after the U.S. invasion in 2003. So while the group’s name has repeatedly changed and it is now led by Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, we have a long track record by which to judge it.
Zarqawi and his followers likewise raped, beheaded, and killed Shi’a and Sunnis suspected of supporting the American-backed Iraqi government. They too declared an Islamic government in Iraq and otherwise acted in ways painfully familiar to those who have watched the rise of ISIS the past two years. But the scope of the group’s operations for more than a decade has suggested it has been primarily focused on its local enemies: the Shi’a government of Iraq, the Alawite government of Syria, and to a lesser degree neighbors that opposed it like Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and Lebanon. In this fight, it primarily has used a mix of conventional and guerrilla war, with terrorist attacks designed to demoralize enemy security forces, sow unrest among its people, and foster sectarian tension. Somewhat surprisingly, despite predictions to the contrary and years of being devastated by U.S. forces in Iraq, the Islamic State’s predecessor organizations focused on killing American soldiers in Iraq but did not prioritize international terrorism as a way of expanding the battlefield. Islamic State, meanwhile, has butchered Americans whom it captured in Syria. And it has also called for attacks in the West, but this has been done by so-called “lone wolves,” most of whom have little operational connection to the group’s core in Syria and Iraq.
Still, Baghdadi’s group has had affiliates in places as diverse as Afghanistan, Libya, Nigeria, and, notably, the Sinai that have pledged loyalty to the Islamic State and have had that pledge recognized. Yet these affiliates have so far largely followed their own agendas, embracing some of the Islamic State’s brutality—like when Libyan followers beheaded Christians, and the Yemeni branch attacked Shi’a mosques—but not really expanding their horizons beyond their home turf. You would not want to be an American who stumbled across their path, but they were not going to bring the war to America either. They seemed more like a local problem, with Baghdadi’s boasts that they were part of a unified caliphate sounding like grandiose rhetoric with little operational meaning.
A corrupt former drug enforcement agent who played a central role in taking down the popular online drug bazaar Silk Road will serve six and a half years in prison for corruption, a federal judge ruled Monday.
Carl Mark Force IV pleaded guilty to extortion, money laundering, and obstruction of justice this past summer, after working for two years as an undercover agent foran interagency team tasked with identifying the owner of Silk Road. Force, who spent 15 years with the Drug Enforcement Administration, used his position in the investigation to swindle his way to a payout of more $700,000 in Bitcoin and a Hollywood contract. (Another member of the investigative team, ex-Secret Service Agent Shaun Bridges, also pleaded guilty over the summer to pocketing $820,000 from the accounts of Silk Road users.) Force has also been ordered to pay $340,000 in restitution.
In case you haven’t been following the Silk Road case, here’s a primer:
What exactly was Silk Road, again? Silk Road was a darknet marketplace that connected buyers and sellers dealing in a vast array of narcotics, false documents, weapons, and other contraband. “The idea was to create a website where people could buy anything anonymously, with no trail whatsoever that could lead back to them,” creator Ross Ulbricht wrote in his journal. Users paid in Bitcoin—around $1.2 billion worth—and could only access the site using an anonymous internet browser called Tor. Ulbricht ran Silk Road using the moniker “Dread Pirate Roberts” from January 2011 until 2013, when he was caught red-handed at his laptop by a law enforcement sting in a San Francisco coffee shop.
Depending on whom you ask, the site was either a radical experiment in libertarian principles or “the most sophisticated and extensive criminal market on the Internet,” as the criminal complaint against Force put it.
Ulbricht, who earned a commission on each transaction, was found guilty of drug trafficking, money laundering, and hacking, and he was sentenced to life in prison during the summer. At the sentencing hearing, the federal judge didn’t hide her intention to make an example of Ulbricht: “What you did was unprecedented, and in breaking that ground as the first person you sit here as the defendant now today having to pay the consequences for that.” Ulbricht’s family, defense counsel, and supporters have mounted a public campaign to protest what they call a “draconian sentence.”
Hundreds of illegal hunters of the rhinoceros in South Africa’s Kruger national park have been shot dead by rangers in the past five years, but the temptation of a rich reward to end an impoverished life in Mozambique keeps them coming
The well-heeled tourists filing through the modest airport at Hoedspruit – Afrikaans for Hat Creek – look carefree and expectant. Guides are standing by to transport them to luxurious bush lodges offering spa treatments, campfire dinners and dawn and dusk game drives offering a potential glimpse of Africa’s “big five”.
But something is different from the safaris enjoyed by the privileged generations of the past. At the 36,000-acre Moditlo private game reserve near Kruger national park, for example, the rhinos do not have horns – they have been removed for their own safety. And during night safaris on dirt tracks under the majesty of a star-studded sky visitors are warned not to use torches, lest they be confused with poachers. When guests – usually affluent and white – gaze from air-conditioned bedrooms into the perfect darkness of the bush, few are likely to consider the murderous chase taking place there between poacher, ranger and rhino. For the poachers – usually poor and black – the risks are immense, but so are the rewards.
“When you look at the impoverished communities around us and the unemployment rate in South Africa, you’d have to be naive to think it’s not going to explode,” said Tim Parker, a warden managing Moditlo and Thornybush Nature Reserve, where anti-poaching costs have gone up 500% in the past three years. “Soon there are going to be gun battles. I can see it coming.”
South Africa has more than four-fifths of the world’s rhino population. Poaching is at an unprecedented level, driven by demand in countries such as Vietnam, where horns, used in traditional medicine or as a middle-class delicacy, fetch up to $65,000 (£42,000) a kilo, more expensive than gold. A record 1,215 rhinos were killed last year, almost treble the 448 lost in 2011. As of late August this year, 749 rhinos were known to have been poached – 544 of them in Kruger park, where officials estimate 6,000 well-armed poachers are at large.
But there is another, less reported death toll. Nearly 500 poachers from neighbouring Mozambique alone have been shot dead by rangers in Kruger park over the past five years, it was claimed recently. Joaquim Chissano, Mozambique’s former president, said 82 alleged poachers from the country were killed in the first half of this year, describing them as “destitute, poor people recruited by crime networks who make the real money … Each of these dead Mozambicans means more poverty for his family, because they can no longer count on him to fight for better living conditions,” Chissano noted.