National / International News
The court ruled in a 5-4 decision that same-sex marriage is legal in all 50 states, setting off celebrations nationwide. Opponents — and justices' incensed dissents — suggest the fight isn't over.
ESPN wants to cater to its entire audience — casual and hard core fans, fantasy players and people who've got a wager on the game. Now it's more open about a topic leagues and networks have avoided.
As the number of people living on the streets has risen and homeless encampments have spread across Southern California, the Los Angeles City Council has worked to speed the process by which officials can collect homeless people’s possessions from sidewalks and parks.
The council approved a measure on Tuesday that would reduce the warning time the homeless are given when confiscating items from 72 hours to 24.
When city workers impound homeless people’s stuff, it ends up at a warehouse in downtown Los Angeles. It’s kept on shelves in a corner behind a locked gate.
“We store the property. We keep it safe and clean," says Alex Conedy, the facility’s project manager. "For whatever it is and whoever it belongs to, it’s important to them. So we treat it as such.”
He’s sympathetic to the transient nature of life on the streets and the impact it has on people’s possessions.
“If a person has to go and take care of some business — they’re homeless — they have a doctor’s appointment, they have a job interview. They have to leave periodically from time to time. And they have nowhere to store their property,” Conedy says. “So, when they come back, that property is sometimes not there, for whatever reason.”
It may have been stolen. But, if city workers confiscate property, they leave a notice informing owners that their belongings are being stored here and giving them 90 days to reclaim it.
A lot of the impounded stuff is not what you'd expect to see abandoned. There is an edger for cutting the lawn, there are 20 to 30 bicycles, some of them pretty good looking bikes. There’s a wheelchair.
Few people ever claim their belongings. Since the beginning of the year, Conedy says around 20 people have come here to get their stuff.
Most of the warehouse is taken up by a different kind of storage. In one neat row after another, there are 1,462 60-gallon plastic garbage bins.
“They are actually sanitized,” Conedy says. “We call them ‘bins’ because they’re not utilized as trash cans. They’re utilized as safe storage bins.”
A program called The Bin allows homeless people like Chris Rodriguez, 43, to use the storage bins for free. “Anywhere else, you have to pay 60, 70 dollars for storage,” says Rodriguez.
His wife Monica says they keep clean clothes in their bin, but they also use it as a kind of safe-deposit box. “Because our stuff isn’t just junk. It’s our important papers. Like Social Security papers. Or legal documents.”
Many of the people are dropping off belongings before going to work. Storage is important in relation to finding or keeping a job.
“Many of the clients have to use the service to keep their job. They have somewhere to store their property so they can go to work every day,” says Emily Chin, the operations manager at a nonprofit called Chrysalis, which runs The Bin.
Juliano, who only gives his first name, is close to being able to move off the streets.
“I have a job. I’m a team member at Jack in the Box. I just don’t get enough hours to afford my own place,” says Juliano. “They’re talking about a promotion. That would give me more time. And if I get the promotion, then I can afford a place. So I do have a plan.”
Conedy sees some clients every day. Like Silas Loveless, 57, a big man who laughs easily. He’s studying to get his commercial license to drive a big rig.
For the better part of a year, Loveless has been taking truck driving classes, which cost $150 a month. He only collects $221 a month in government assistance. So Loveless has had to rely on food stamps and he sleeps at a homeless shelter.
He has three more classes before his test with the Department of Motor Vehicles.
“Each time, if you fail, it’s thirty bucks a pop to re-test. And I don’t have thirty bucks, so that’s not an option,” says Loveless.
He says truck drivers make around $700 a week. Loveless considers that enough money to live like a king. At the very least, he’d be able to afford his own place, where he could store his stuff in something other than a sanitized garbage bin.
Phil Edwards has loved playing the claw machine since he was a child. It was this love that led him to look into how these machines actually work and what makes them so tricky. He wasn’t sure at first what he’d find.
“I thought that maybe these stuffed animals were packed really tightly, or that the claw simply didn’t work at all," he says. "But it turns out it’s a lot more insidious than that.”
The truth was that claw machine owners could manipulate the machine down to the smallest detail. Edwards found claw machine manuals that instruct operators on how to control the strength of the claw. What’s more, they can also manipulate the claw’s “dropping” ability.
“People thought I was naïve, and I had a suspicion that there were just bad claw machines, or claw machines that just didn’t work well, but I didn’t think they were rigged so precisely to maximize the profit,” he says.
Operators can also randomize the claw so that you can’t tell which round will be the winning one. Edwards describes the whole operation as a smart system, which he says is “trying to manipulate you as delicately as possible into spending more money.”
But will this deter him from playing anymore? Doesn’t seem likely.
“I’ve already spent a dollar in those things," since the article came out, he says. "And now I have the added benefit that every time someone wins a claw machine prize, they let me know immediately.”
The Supreme Court ruling that same-sex couples have a right to marry could bring some big financial changes.
First, let’s talk taxes and the marriage penalty.
“Where there’s a plus, there’s a minus,” says Janis Cowhey, a partner at Marcum LLP and co-leader of its Modern Family and LGBT practice group. “Once you’re combining your income, you start to lose deductions, you start to lose credits as well as hit the higher income tax brackets faster.”
But lower-income same-sex couples could save money filing as a married couple. Now they can claim their children as dependents, which leads to a higher earned income tax credit.
And if your spouse gets benefits through your job, that’s not taxed.
Right now, "if you work for a corporation and they offer domestic partner benefits, you’re taxed on the benefit that your partner gets,” says Bill Moran, a senior vice president at Merrill Lynch and national director of its LGBT financial services team.
But here’s the thing. Moran says corporations have already started phasing out domestic partner benefits in states that recognized same-sex marriage.
It happened to Meghan Maury, an attorney in Washington, D.C. She now works as senior policy counsel at the National LGBTQ Task Force as the director of its criminal and economic justice project.
But before she got that job, she depended on her partner’s employer for benefits — until same-sex marriage was legalized in the District of Columbia.
“They said it just doesn’t make legal or financial sense for us anymore to be providing domestic partnership benefits," she says.
Maury ended up on Medicaid. And she thinks that’ll happen to other unmarried same-sex partners, as more employers phase out domestic partner benefits in the wake of the Supreme Court ruling.
It's going to be another big weekend at the box office: "Ted 2," "Jurassic World" and "Inside Out" are each expected to pull in another $50 million or more.
It’s easy to understand how the monster success of "Jurassic World" is good for Universal. And how Pixar and its parent Disney must be feeling right now about "Inside Out."
It turns out, a blockbuster can also inspire joy in the theater next door.
"There are plenty of examples historically where a movie was so massive and the industry was afraid that other movies wouldn’t perform well, and the exact opposite happened," says Phil Contrino, chief analyst for Boxoffice.com.
He says movies like "Avatar," "Frozen" and now "Jurassic World" have all had a halo effect. "At the end of the day, movies are a product like anything else, and if customers walk away happy and satisfied with the experience, they are more prone to come back again."
Tom Nunan thinks there’s another reason movie going begets movie going; he’s founder of Bull's Eye Entertainment and a professor at UCLA’s School of Theater, Film and Television.
"What happens, as you are probably aware as a consumer, is that sometimes your movie is sold out," Nunan says. So, you check the time, check in with your partner and you go see something else.
"Big movies always create more box office all around," Nunan says.
And smart marketers take advantage of that. "They’ll own the fact that there are other movies that you can see out there that are really fun, and big, and exciting, and will just have a sense of humor about it, and try to entice you to see us too."