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'You can taste it in the air': your stories of life in polluted cities | Cities

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Warsaw, Poland

“The air pollution problem in Poland is beyond any western standards. Despite poor conditions, Poland has done nothing to reduce used car imports, promote renewable energy, protect green areas or rationalise precaution levels. (Right now an alert is announced at 600% of the norm and the ministry for environment refuses to change that level because “they would have to announce the alert too often”.)

“Where I live (Warsaw) the air quality is very bad. The intensive development of apartment buildings in suburban areas without proper public transportation pushes people into cars and reduces green space. Over the last decade Warsaw suffered a net loss of 160,000 trees.

“Recently as more groups join the demand for better air, the city hall pretends they care, but there is no real action. I became a father five months ago and air quality has become a reason to stay indoors against our will for most of the winter. I’m a member of Warsaw’s city activist group Miasto Jest Nasze (the City is Ours), an organisation which set up Warsaw’s smog alert.” (Tymon Radwański)

London, UK

Bath, UK

“Levels of nitrogen dioxide on several roads leading into the city have exceeded the EU limits for years. It’s said that people living off the southern approach road into the city are likely to die nine years younger than those living on the hill on the opposite side of the city, three miles away.” (Louise Hidalgo, Bathampton Meadows Alliance)


Port Harcourt, Nigeria

“Residents of Port Harcourt became aware of a black substance falling from the sky last November. Authorities said an investigation was going to be carried out but not much happened until late January and early February when this pollution became unbearable.

“A lot of residents believed local refineries were the likely cause and took to social media to ask the state government to act. Finally, a committee was set up and a report released showing the soot is petroleum based, but the government said they couldn’t determine which activities were the cause.” (Babajide Odulaja)

If you wipe surfaces indoors and outdoors with a white towel or tissue paper, you get a black smudge. Perhaps more worrisome is that if you clean your nostrils with a white material, you come up with a jet black residue. If you walk barefooted, the soles of your feet turn black.” (Eben Dokubo)

(Update: The situation was declared an emergency this week. According to reports the state government have shut down a Chinese construction company apparently responsible for the pollution.)


Santiago, Chile

Envigado, Colombia

“Air pollution is visible here on most days. You can taste it in the air. I believe it’s caused by low-quality diesel, and the high number of motor vehicles. There is no rail system and freight is transported by road. Heavy vehicles emit a thick, black exhaust that is frightening to see and lingers in the air.” (Anonymous)

Mexico City, Mexico

Los Angeles, US

“I grew up in Los Angeles in the 50s and 60s. I remember days where the air pollution was so bad your eyes would burn and it hurt – actually was painful – to take a deep breath. Combine that with the heat and a shining grey sky that beat down on you, where the soup was so thick all you could see of the sun was a diffuse bright patch in the sky, where even the grass turned brown and the trees died from the pollution, and you have a hell on earth of the sort described by Tolkein when he wrote about the wastelands of Mordor.” (EvilMidnightBomber)

“I remember walking home from my grade school in the late 60s literally crying like I had been teargassed the air was so bad. My parents said it was even worse before incinerators were banned.” (MakeBeerNotWar)


Shanghai, China

“We celebrate when we see blue sky and share pictures with each other on WeChat. I purchased an air purifier for my home – we have no idea if it helps. We just feel secure, it’s like buying insurance: you suddenly feel good.” (Artem)

When the air pollution is bad, many people in my office develop coughs and sick days are taken. I like to walk or ride a bicycle home, but I always need to check the air quality before leaving work. Today I decided to take the bus home because the air quality reading was 150. I have also cancelled weekend plans with friends due to the unhealthy air levels. It can be very depressing.

“When the neighbouring city Hangzhou hosted the G20 and they shut down all the factories for two weeks it was amazing. Shanghai had clear blue skies the whole time. It shows if they really wanted to improve the quality of life and health of their residents they could, but they are not willing to unless a group of rich, powerful people are coming.” (Anonymous)

Beijing, China

Hong Kong

“Often, I don’t take my baby outside as I am so concerned about the effect on him. I wear a face mask on the days it is above an orange rating. My husband exercises at the gym instead of running when it’s bad. I often have a bitter taste or thick feeling on my mouth and tongue when I walk home at rush hour. This is a serious and scary problem, it’s obvious in the pollution visible on buildings, skin problems, difficulty breathing, chest pain and coughs.” (Anonymous)

Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia

“We are a part of the #BreatheMongolia and #MongolsAreSuffering initiatives. Protests and demonstrations in Ulaanbaatar have been raising awareness of the dangerous air pollution in the city and calling upon the government for solutions to the crisis as soon as possible. Thousands of demonstrators marched holding black balloons that represent their damaged lungs caused by air pollution and hung the balloons on the fence around the government house, aiming to show that around 500 children die annually in Mongolia due to air pollution.

“It has officially been declared that air pollution in Ulaanbaatar has reached disaster levels, exceeding 120 times the safe limit; 80% of the air pollution comes from the districts of ger (traditional circular felted tents) households, where people burn coal to stay warm.

“The top three diseases that resulted in the largest number of deaths in Mongolia in 2013 were air pollution-related. Studies show that air pollution exposure also results in miscarriage, premature birth and has an impact on the intellectual and physical development of a child. We know of someone who had multiple miscarriages while living in the city and had to move out to the countryside in order to give birth successfully. The people of Mongolia deserve clean air.” (Nomi Ganbold and JaRed Cameron)

Delhi, India

“I am asthmatic and air pollution makes me sick. In 2014 I packed up and left Delhi, moved to the mountains. But I have to keep coming back to the city and fighting air pollution has become a personal battle for me. I have seen healthy friends become sick in November 2016 as air pollution was at its peak. Tier two and tier three cities in India are worse though, there are no records on them and nothing to make people aware of it.” (Shibayan Raha)

“The air pollution in Delhi is actually pretty scary. I really haven’t ever experienced anything quite like it. There are days where I just have to stay inside because if I go out, I know the next day I’ll be struggling with sinus issues and laboured breathing. I have had a chronic cough since I have been here.

“Many people here, from young kids to athletic adults, to elders, all have this chronic congestive cough. We call it the Delhi chest, or the Delhi cough. Little kids with chronic respiratory illnesses are the norm here, not the rarity. And still they burn trash, run vehicles on diesel.

“I grew up in Los Angeles, and we had summer inversion layers that were probably the start of the reasoning for things like the Clean Air Act and the EPA. But the intensity of the physical symptoms I have here I have never experienced anywhere before.” (Nancy)

Guardian Cities is dedicating a week to investigating one of the worst preventable causes of death around the world: air pollution. Explore our coverage at The Air We Breathe and follow Guardian Cities on Twitter and Facebook to join the discussion

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Transmit 5 on the Mac App Store

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You already know Transmit is a wonderful file transfer app, maybe even the best on any platform. It’s jammed with features, it’s fast, it supports every major cloud storage provider, and it looks awfully nice.

But here’s something you might not know: the reasons we never put Transmit 5 in the App Store. They’re simple. We weren’t sure we could provide a good-enough Transmit experience under the stringent sandboxing security the App Store requires. And frankly, we weren’t sure Apple cared that much about the App Store on the Mac.

Since then, a lot has changed. macOS Mojave gave us a significantly improved App Store that caters to professionals like yourself and seems to treat apps with respect. And sandboxing has evolved enough that Transmit can be nearly feature-parity with its non-sandboxed cousin.

So, as we promised at WWDC: it was time to give this another go.

You can now get Transmit 5 on the Mac App Store!

But, there’s a twist…

A screenshot of Transmit in the Mac App Store.

The Twist

Transmit from the Mac App Store is a subscription — just $24.99 a year. Included with your subscription is Transmit, access to Panic Sync, and any major Transmit updates that we may release in the future, all rolled into a convenient yearly charge. There’s even a free 7-day trial before your subscription kicks in. And, of course, you can cancel at any time.

If you don’t like subscriptions, don’t worry! You can still buy Transmit 5 directly from us. It’s still $45. It will still include free minor updates. And you get the same support as a subscriber would.

The choice is yours. Love the App Store? Subscribe today. Don’t like subscriptions? Buy it directly from us. Everybody wins! (Almost.)

There’s a little something in it for us, too — a chance to learn about the subscription business and see how, if at all, it can impact our decisions moving forward.


Wait, so I have to subscribe to Transmit now?
No, my post-skimming friend, you don’t. While Transmit in the App Store is a subscription, you can still buy Transmit 5 directly from us at full price and own it forever for just $45.

How much does the subscription cost?
$24.99 a year. 

Is there a free trial?
Absolutely. When you install Transmit from the App Store, on first launch you’re given 7 days to use it as much as you want, without restriction, until the subscription kicks in, and you can cancel during the trial (here) if it doesn’t work for you. It’s really simple and should give you more than enough time to demo the app and make sure you love it.

What’s included with the subscription?
Transmit, Panic Sync, and frequent updates, of course. But you’ll also automatically get any major updates we release in the future as long as you remain subscribed.

I already bought Transmit 5. Can I switch to the App Store version?
If you bought Transmit 5 in the last 60 days, we can refund your purchase if you’d like to subscribe instead. Simply e-mail our support team. Beyond that, it’s gets really difficult, particularly as the prices are so different.

Hey, what if I love the App Store but strongly dislike subscriptions?
Yeah, that’s the one bummer zone in our plan — we’re sorry. But we believe the App Store is suited particularly well for subscriptions, and we’re always looking for a sustainable future building our complex applications.

Does it have the same features as regular Transmit 5?
Yes, it does! With one small exception — “Open in Terminal” depends on AppleScripting the terminal, which isn’t possible with sandboxing (yet). But even viewing or editing or changing the permissions of files you don’t own is now possible, which wasn’t until very recently.

What about Transmit Disk?
It’s not in this initial release, but stay tuned.

Any other differences in the App Store version?
For security, you have to manually “Choose” any local folders in the file browser that you want to navigate to. However, Transmit will remember the highest-level folder you’ve chosen, so over time you’ll have to do this less and less. (And here’s a pro-tip for all the FAQ readers out there: just drag your hard drive to the “choose a folder” view to unlock your entire drive and never be prompted again.)

If my subscription lapses, do I lose my sites/favorites?
Absolutely not. If you use Panic Sync, your sites are safely stored in our spacious, welcoming cloud, and you can sync them down in the future, even to non-subscription Transmit. And if you don’t use Panic Sync, as long as you don’t delete Transmit’s application support files, they’ll be there waiting for when you re-subscribe.

Will Transmit 5 support iCloud for sync?
We’re not planning to. We know it’s a bit of a bother to manage another account, but we really value the ability to debug syncing problems directly.

What about Coda in the Mac App Store?
Sadly, Coda cannot be sandboxed yet. We’re hopeful for the future.

Oh and hey while I’ve got you on the line where’s Coda 3?
🥴 (More on Coda soon!)

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Michael Kalus posted a photo:


Processed with VSCO with ke1 preset

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webshit weekly

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An annotated digest of the top "Hacker" "News" posts for the second week of November, 2018.

We're in a Golden Age for Amateur Radio
November 07, 2018 (comments)
An Internet declares the current era to be the best ever for a hobby, despite having no experience with any preceding era of the hobby. Hackernews is happy to lecture one another on the proper method for engagement, then relay nostalgic stories from the last few golden ages.

I've compiled the best SaaS Landing pages and broke down all their secrets
November 08, 2018 (comments)
A webshit enumerates the layout of the default Bootstrap landing page. Hackernews trades links to their favorite Bootstrap landing pages, then bikesheds the article for a few hours. Despite the relatively large vote count on the article, there isn't much action in the comment thread, which usually means everyone likes the topic (in this case, meaningless webshit garbage) but the content isn't interesting enough to actually read.

Romania orders investigative journalists to disclose sources under GDPR
November 09, 2018 (comments)
Some Internets are mad that a third-world government is using laws against its enemies. I redacted the goddamn Facebook tracking parameter embedded into the story link, but didn't bother fixing the pointless "presss-releases" folder in the url. Fully erect at the prospect of lecturing strangers on dimly-comprehended legal theory, Hackernews unleashes dozens of didactic analyses, all to set up their favorite debate topic of all time: why even have governments?

Building your color palette
November 10, 2018 (comments)
Another webshit posts class notes from an introductory design course, which prompts Hackernews to post insightful tips like "use CSS to set colors in your web page." Because this is an elite community of web professionals, about half the comments are people bitching that display technology is insufficiently advanced to faithfully render the precise artistic inspiration they bring to the refined, high-class world of animated button highlights. The rest of the comments are links to almost identical webshits who blogged about this topic in days gone by.

Google Kubernetes Engine's third consecutive day of service disruption
November 11, 2018 (comments)
Google's shit was broken for three days, but according to the status page it was broken for ten hours. This effects a Hackernews catfight about whether Google really gives a shit about any of them, even for money. The answer is a resounding "no," but several hundred Hackernews are sufficiently emotionally invested in this corporation to defend their imaginary relationship for hours in a web forum. Several Googles show up to cheer on their fanclub instead of fixing the broken services. by Google
November 12, 2018 (comments)
Google produces a new set of rituals for webshits to undertake if they wish to please their overlords. Running the compliance analyzer against this site results in bitching about https, again. Hackernews is mad that Google didn't consider Hackernews' pet webshit when concocting the judgment machine, and seeks vengeance by enumerating all the Google properties that are slow to load. Google seems unconcerned.

Medium is a poor choice for blogging
November 13, 2018 (comments)
A webshit blogs about some of the ways is terrible... on Hackernews acknowledges that is no longer particularly nice to use, but stresses that this is an acceptable loss when faced with the necessity to appear to monetize their website. Hackernews spends an afternoon vivisecting the site and reverse engineering all the bad management decisions that led to the current shitpile, then recommends various shitty blog programs to try, based mostly on which programming language the commenter is capable of using.

Corretto – No-cost, multiplatform, developer-preview distribution of OpenJDK
November 14, 2018 (comments)
Amazon repackages OpenJDK and gives it an even dumber name. Hackernews explains the reason: people want long-term support, and of course an online retailer is the place to turn for that.

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Homeless man and couple ‘completely made up’ viral story that raised $400,000 | US news

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A feelgood tale of a homeless man using his last $20 to help a stranded New Jersey woman buy gas was actually a complete lie, manufactured to get strangers to donate more than $400,000 to help the down-and-out good Samaritan, a prosecutor has said.

The Burlington county prosecutor Scott Coffina announced criminal charges on Thursday against the couple who told the story to newspapers and television stations along with the homeless man who conspired with them to tell the story.

He said the money, donated to the homeless man, Johnny Bobbitt, will be refunded to people who saw the story and contributed to him through a GoFundMe page set up by the couple, Mark D’Amico and Katelyn McClure.

“The entire campaign was predicated on a lie,” Coffina said. “It was fictitious and illegal and there are consequences.”

Bobbitt was arrested on Wednesday night by US marshals in Philadelphia and remained in custody on Thursday on probation detainers and a $50,000 bond. A message requesting comment was left with a previous attorney of Bobbitt’s.

D’Amico and McClure surrendered to authorities on Wednesday night and were released. Their attorney said they have no comment. All were charged with theft by deception.

Investigators searched the Florence, New Jersey, home of D’Amico and McClure in September after questions arose about what happened to the money they raised for Bobbitt. The couple claimed he helped McClure get gas after she became stranded on Interstate 95 in Philadelphia last year.

McClure said that in an attempt to thank Bobbitt for his help, she set up the fundraising page, which brought in more than $400,000 and landed them in the national news.

Coffina said almost no part of the tale was true. McClure didn’t run out of gas. Bobbitt didn’t spot her in trouble and give her money.

Less than an hour after the couple set up the page to solicit donations, McClure sent a text message to a friend acknowledging the story was “completely made up”.

Prosecutors began investigating after Bobbitt claimed he wasn’t getting the money that had been raised on his behalf. He later sued the couple.

It’s not exactly clear what happened with the money, though Bobbitt’s attorney has said it’s all gone.

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Metro Vancouver mayors agree to suspend Surrey LRT, start process for SkyTrain to Langley

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Mayors across Metro Vancouver have voted to indefinitely suspend plans for light-rapid transit lines in Surrey and have asked TransLink to put forward a business case for a SkyTrain extension to Langley.

The Mayors' Council approved a motion "recognizing the City of Surrey request to change the technology and timing of the Fraser Highway project from LRT to SkyTrain," paving the way for Surrey Mayor Doug McCallum's election promise to come to fruition. 

"We have a golden opportunity to move forward and start building in this region," said McCallum during a 14-minute speech to mayors about why they should reverse the long-planned decision to build light-rapid transit to Guildford and Newton first. 

"There wasn't public consulting done. This was all decided by the past council. That's why they were defeated. They didn't listen to the public. And I will also say TransLink did not listen to the public."

The change requires both the federal and provincial governments to agree to transfer dedicated funding from LRT to the SkyTrain extension, but that appears likely to happen.

"If he can convince his colleagues at the Mayors' Council to amend the plan, I'm happy to talk to them, but that will mean delays in the long term, and if that's what the mayors wishes are, then we'll have to go with that," said Premier John Horgan, an hour before the vote took place. 

Vancouver Mayor Kennedy Stewart says he expects the same response from the federal government. 

"In speaking with the prime minister,  he indicated … Ottawa would be taking direction from us," said Stewart. 

TransLink staff will provide more information to mayors about business cases and possible timelines for consultation, design and procurement at its next meeting Dec. 13.  

The original plan for rapid transit in Surrey called for LRT to Guildford and Newton first, followed by a line to Langley in the future. (City of Surrey)

Two stages

While work will begin immediately on planning for a SkyTrain line to Langley, TransLink is cautioning that it will likely take time for the 17 kilometre  line to be fully completed.  

"Management advises that it's likely that SkyTrain from Surrey to Langley would have to be constructed in two phases," wrote TransLink in its report to mayors, saying there was approximately a billion dollar funding gap that has not been committed to by senior levels of government. 

It means the line could first end at Fleetwood or Cloverdale, but TransLink will be working on the business case for the entire line. 

In addition, Geoff Cross, the vice-president of policy and planning for TransLink, told mayors that the $1.58 billion committed to LRT would take time to be transferred and would require talks with the federal Treasury Board, among other groups. 

The first meeting of the Metro Vancouver Mayors' Council since municipal elections featured 16 new members. (Justin McElroy/CBC)

Coté new chair

The meeting began with the election of New Westminster Jonathan Coté as chair of the Mayors' Council and Langley Township Mayor Jack Froese as vice-chair. 

"I myself have gone through a bit of a process coming to terms with the change in direction," said Coté, explaining his vote in support of changing rapid transit in Surrey.

"[But] you do need to have strong partnerships with the host municipality." 

Coté, who was just one of five mayors re-elected in Metro Vancouver in October, was formerly the head of the funding-strategy committee. He replaces Derek Corrigan as chair of the organization, and both he and Froese will sit on the TransLink board.

Friday also brings another election of regional chairs, as the first Metro Vancouver board meeting takes place, where members will elect a chair to replace former Port Coquitlam mayor Greg Moore. 

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