Black men arrested at Philadelphia Starbucks feared for their lives

Rashon Nelson and Donte Robinson were waiting for business meeting and now left wondering how 12 April incident escalated

Two black men arrested at a Philadelphia Starbucks said they were just waiting for a business meeting and a week later still wonder how that could have escalated into a police encounter that left them fearing for their lives.

Rashon Nelson and Donte Robinson spoke to the Associated Press in their first interview since video of their 12 April arrests went viral.

Robinson said he thought about his loved ones and how the afternoon had taken such a turn as he was taken to jail. Nelson wondered if he would make it home alive.

Anytime Im encountered by cops, I can honestly say its a thought that runs through my mind, Nelson said. You never know whats going to happen.

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The arrests, recorded on a white customers cellphone video, galvanized people around the country who saw the exchange as an example of racism.

The men have met with the CEO of Starbucks and are pushing for meaningful change so what happened to them does not happen to anyone else.

Police this week released a recording of the call from the Starbucks employee that led to the arrest. In it, a woman is heard saying the men refused to make a purchase or leave.

Starbucks has promised to shut all 8,000 company-owned stores across the US on 29 May to train employees about unconscious bias.

Nelson initially brushed it off when the Starbucks manager told him he couldnt use the restroom because he wasnt a paying customer.

He thought nothing of it when he and Robinson, his business partner, were approached at their table and were asked if they needed help. The 23-year-old entrepreneurs declined, explaining they were just waiting for a business meeting.

A few minutes later, they hardly noticed when the police walked into the coffee shop until officers started walking in their direction.

Thats when we knew she called the police on us, Nelson said.

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Social media video shows arrests of black men at Philadelphia Starbucks video

Nelson and Robinson, black men who became best friends in the fourth grade, were taken in handcuffs from the Starbucks in Philadelphias tony Rittenhouse Square neighborhood, where Robinson has been a customer since he was 15.

We were there for a real reason, a real deal that we were working on, Robinson explained. We put in a lot of time, energy, effort We were at a moment that could have a positive impact on a whole ladder of people, lives, families. So I was like, No, youre not stopping that right now.

The Democratic mayor, Jim Kenney, who is white, said what happened at the Starbucks appears to exemplify what racial discrimination looks like in 2018. The police commissioner, Richard Ross, who is black, said in a Facebook post that arresting officers did absolutely nothing wrong, and added that Nelson and Robinson were disrespectful to officers.

Ross said officers did what they were supposed to do and were professional in their dealings with the men, and instead they got the opposite back.

Nelson and Robinson originally were supposed to meet Andrew Yaffe, a white local businessman, at a Starbucks across town. But the plan changed, and they agreed to meet at the Rittenhouse Square location, where they had met several times before on a potential real estate opportunity.

The black men arrived a few minutes early. Three police officers showed up not long after.

Nelson said they were not questioned but were told to leave immediately.

Yaffe showed up as the men were being handcuffed. He can be seen in the video demanding an explanation for the officers actions. Nelson and Robinson did not resist arrest, confused and unsure of what to think or what might happen next.

When you know that you did nothing wrong, how do you really react to it? Nelson said. You can either be ignorant or you can show some type of sophistication and act like you have class. That was the choice we had.

It was hardly their first encounter with police, a rite of passage that becomes a regular occurrence for many black men their age. But neither had been arrested before, setting them apart from many of their peers in the gritty south-west Philadelphia neighborhood where they grew up.

Attorney Stewart Cohen, representing Nelson and Robinson, said the men were illegally profiled. He pointed to Title II of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of race in hotels, restaurants, theaters and other public accommodations.

Seattle-based Starbucks has said the location where the arrests occurred has a policy that restrooms are for paying customers only.

Nelson and Robinson spent hours in a jail cell with no outside contact and no sense of what would happen next. They were released after midnight, when the district attorney declined to prosecute them for trespassing. They had no idea the video of their arrests was making the rounds on the internet.

Over the weekend, attention and outrage over the video grew, prompting a protest at the local Starbucks restaurant and a national boycott. By Monday, the men were set to meet with Starbucks CEO, Kevin Johnson, to discuss what happened.

Johnson has responded quickly to public outcry around the arrests, calling them reprehensible, apologizing and ordering stores closed for mandatory training to tackle unconscious bias.

Nelson and Robinson said they are looking for more lasting results and are in mediation proceedings with Starbucks to implement changes, including the posting in stores of a customer bill of rights; the adoption of new policies regarding customer ejections, racial profiling and racial discrimination; and independent investigations of complaints of profiling or discrimination from customers and employees.

Robinson said he appreciates the public support the men have received but anger and boycotting Starbucks are not the solution.

We need a different type of action not words, he said. Its a time to pay attention and understand whats really going on. We do want a seat at the table.

The two men were also interviewed on ABCs Good Morning America on Thursday.

I want to make sure that this doesnt happen again, Robinson said. So what I want is for a young man or young men to not be traumatized by this and instead motivated, inspired.

Asked what the men thought about criticism that they had violated the stores rules, he said: Rules are rules, what is right is right, and what is wrong is wrong.


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CNNs Anderson Cooper Calls Out Sean Hannitys Massive Conflict of Interest With Michael Cohen

Fox News anchors have been hesitant to criticize their colleague Sean Hannity in light of todays news that he was represented in some fashion by President Donald Trumps personal lawyer, Michael Cohen.

But CNNs Anderson Cooper did not hold back in condemning Hannitys blatant conflict of interest at the top of his prime-time show Monday night. Cooper noted to viewers that the most stunning moment of Cohens court hearing came when his lawyer was forced to reveal the identity of his mystery client and reluctantly named Hannity. So it would seem the president and Sean Hannity share more than dinners and frequent phone calls and a mutual love of Fox News programming, the anchor said. They also share an attorney.

He went on to air the clip of Hannity insisting on his radio show this afternoon that Cohen has never represented me in any matter even if he did occasionally have brief discussions with him about legal questions about which I wanted his input and perspective. Hannity also said he assumed their conversations were confidential.


So he seems to be saying, I wasnt really a client of attorney Michael Cohens but our conversations were confidential because he is an attorney and I am his client, Cooper remarked. In either event, Cooper pointed out that Hannity had reported on the FBI raid on Cohens office last week as if he had absolutely no connection to the story.

Instead, Hannity told viewers the raid was proof that special counsel Robert Muellers witch hunt investigation is now a runaway train that is clearly careening off the tracks.


No disclosure, no disclaimer, not even a casual mention that, Oh yeah, this guy also represents me in some form or fashion, mostly real estate, Cooper said, echoing Hannitys defensive statement on Monday.

After playing a clip from Hannitys radio show in which he said he can only imagine where Muellers fishing expedition will lead, Cooper replied, He can definitely imagine at least one place where it might leadto his own name.

Not disclosing a business or legal relationship with someone you report on and have had on as your guest at least 16 times since Donald Trump declared his presidency, that doesnt sound either fair nor balanced, he concluded.

Meanwhile, during the same hour on Fox News, Tucker Carlson defended his colleagues privacy, telling viewers, Sean Hannity is a talk show host. Hes not under investigation by anyone for anything. Who he hires as a lawyer and why is nobodys business.

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I want the same tax-cut deal Apple is getting

(CNN)As Americans work this week to finish their tax returns, I'm having a bout of envy, watching with longing while the biggest US corporations repatriate assets they formerly held overseas to avoid paying taxes as high as 35%, prior to the recent overhaul.

Now, with taxes as low as 15.5% for cash and stock gains and only 8% for real estate and hard assets, US multinationals will feel minimal pain when accessing an estimated $2.6 trillion in overseas earnings. And taxes on future gains may be negligible.
Thus, have Apple, Microsoft, Alphabet, Coca-Cola and other heavyweights been incentivized to repatriate billions of dollars in overseas profits. And the mandatory tax can be spread over eight years.
The cash grab is funding everything from paying down debt and fueling mergers to increasing dividends and share buybacks, as well as R&D spending and employee bonuses — Apple gave employees $2,500 in stock-related bonuses. It also is an attempt to eliminate corporate inversions, whereby American companies move their official headquarters to lower-tax havens like Ireland, the United Kingdom and Bermuda.
Now, I'm no Apple and have never held a nickel in a foreign subsidiary. But as a small business owner who has kept his nose down for more than 30 years, I know what it's like to have a modest cash pile locked up and inaccessible except under extreme taxation, so that it might as well be in Ireland, or on Mars. It's called a retirement account.
Although I've passed the gateway age of 59½ when funds can be withdrawn without penalty, I'm still working full tilt in the highest tax bracket of 37%. That means every dollar drawn from my pension plan today would yield only 63 cents. It's like holding the keys to a brand-new Mercedes, knowing the moment you drive off the lot it becomes a used Saturn with rust buildup and worn brake pads.
Each month I receive an optical illusion from my financial adviser showing the state of my retirement account. The pie-chart amounts look tempting, but I know from calculating taxes that the actual portion is a sliver beyond my grasp. There ought to be a sticker printed on the statement: “Caution — retirement objects are smaller than they appear.”
To be fair, that's the trade-off many of us made decades ago when first contributing to IRAs, Keoghs, 401(K) and other tax-deferred accounts we knew would someday come due. Only the idea was that the day you started withdrawing the funds was when you stopped working and your reduced income dropped you into a lower tax bracket, so you could enjoy more of the fruits of your toil.
Today, many people across all professions are laboring deep into their 60s and beyond, knowing how much of their nest eggs will pour into taxes as soon as they crack them open. Consider that for married couples filing a joint return for 2018 with a combined income of more than $315,000 — substantial compensation, but hardly big-shot bucks in major urban markets such as New York — the federal tax bite is a hefty 32%. As much as 10% more vanishes if state and local taxes are factored in. For couples earning $165K-$315K, federal taxes will taketh away 24% in that bracket. And those percentages are actually a drop from what rates were in 2017.
And so, we continue to defer, defer — which may cover our geriatric nursing care when that sad day comes but does nothing for the here-and-now.
I propose a radical idea to help Americans connect with their “offshore” savings while their golden years are still relatively golden. Offer an optional “deferment reward” tax of 15% for anyone wishing to access their retirement funds after, say, 62, regardless of personal bracket or amount taken. For the lowest earners, taxed at 12% based on joint incomes as meager as $19K, impose a token tax of 5%, or have mercy and grant amnesty.
Some will call it economic lunacy to encourage Americans to tap their retirement reserves prematurely, especially since US savings rates are near historic lows and life expectancies stretch beyond those of our parents' generation. How many 67-year-olds have stashed away 10 times their salary — the amount Fidelity recommends as a safe target for retirement income at that age?
But for someone like me, who has dutifully shoveled money into retirement vehicles for more than 35 years, going back to when my bracket was far humbler, a tax of nearly 40% on distributions seems grinchy. So does 32%. Ditto 24%!
Just like Apple and Alphabet, however, I would willingly pay a 15% levy to liberate cherished funds that could be put to all sorts of mature use — a five-star vacation and sapphire bracelet for my wife, but also overdue apartment repairs, grad school tuition for one of our children, charitable donations, music theory classes, or reinvestment in my company with bonuses for longtime employees. In other words, things I can't quite spring for now because I try to live well within my taxable means with minimal indulgence.
I'd still grudgingly accept full taxation on professional income earned now — if I'm fool enough to continue working like a maniac at age 64, then I deserve to be taxed like one. And let the IRS set an annual, percentage withdrawal cap so that people don't get carried away and drain their savings on casino runs (it's doubtful that most pre-retirees will suddenly go hog wild.)
But if our biggest corporations merit a holiday for their convoluted foreign tax schemes, shouldn't individuals and families get a break for dipping into their hallowed retirement earnings, even if they're not ready to quit working?
Wouldn't it be better to have some of that money in circulation now, to spur economic activity as well as to fulfill personal goals long held in check by the tax man?
And there could be another benefit. The Congressional Budget Office recently projected the federal deficit will surpass $1 trillion in the next two years, in the wake of “significantly reduced revenues and increased outlays.” Meanwhile, total US retirement assets were estimated at a whopping $28 trillion at the end of 2017, with at least $8 trillion represented by IRA accounts and another $5.3 trillion held in 401(k) plans. Consider how far the government might go in closing some of its budget gap if millions of Americans were motivated to pay even a fraction of their deferred retirement taxes years ahead of schedule, rather than continuing to engage in an unwanted game of “kick the can.”

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Here's a tip to Congress and policymakers: Let Americans whose retirement savings are held hostage by excessive personal tax burdens reclaim their funds at reasonable rates worthy of corporate elites. My money's been out of reach long enough. Let me bring some of it back home and feel what Tim Cook and his fellow CEO's have been feeling.
An earlier version incorrectly described the tax rates companies will pay for repatriating assets held outside the US, due to an editing error.

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Plight of Phoenix: how long can the worlds ‘least sustainable’ city survive?

Set deep in the Valley of the Sun, the lush and sprawling megalopolis has a problem the rivers

Jennifer Afshar and her husband, John, propagandized their bicycles across the grass and paused to savor the sunshine, while their two boys went to look at the duck pond. Other adolescents were playing football or doing jokes in the skate common, and pedigrees picnicked on cloaks or fired up a barbecue across from the swimming pool.

We moved here from Los Angeles, to get away from the rising cost of living and the traffic, alleged Jennifer. When we saw this park, we thought they were punking us it was so good. Theres low-toned atrocity, the home owners association takes great care of the grass and trees we like it.

The Afshars live in the squeaky-clean suburb of Anthem, Arizona. Its part of a beings conurbation of satellite townships bordering Phoenix, and is a classic example of why this metropolitan or megapolitan locality is tempting fate.

Twenty years ago, Anthem leapt out of maiden desert, a community masterplanned from scratch with academies, shops, diners and comfortable residences numerous behind high walls and electronic gates and its own country club and golf course. It now has a population of 30, 000.

To look around Anthem would be to imagine “were not receiving” such thing as a irrigate scarcity. But the lush vegetation and ponds is not occur naturally. Phoenix gets less than eight inches of rainfall each year; most of the water supply for central and southern Arizona is pumped from Lake Mead, fed by the Colorado river over 300 miles away. Anthems private make paid a neighbourhood Native American tribe to lease some of its historic spray freedoms, and pipes its sea from the nearby Lake Pleasant reservoir too filled by the Colorado.

That river is drying up. This winter, snow in the Rocky Mountains, which feeds the Colorado, was 70% lower than average. Last-place month, the American government is estimated that two one-thirds of Arizona is currently facing severe to extreme drought; last-place summer 50 flights were grounded at Phoenix airport because the heat which made 47 C( 116 F) attained the breath very thin to take off safely. The heat island influence saves temperatures in Phoenix above 37 C( 98 F) at night in summer.

Phoenix and its smothering country is known as the Valley of the Sun, and downtown Phoenix which in 2017 pas Philadelphia as Americas fifth-largest city is easily walkable, with diners, tables and an evening buzz. But it is a modern temple to towering cement, and commits highway to endless sprawling that stretches up to 35 miles away to homes like Anthem. The neighbourhood is still flourishing and is dangerously overstretched, experts warn.

There are plans for substantial further growth and there exactly isnt the sea to patronize that, articulates climate researcher Jonathan Overpeck, who co-authored a 2017 report that associated declining flows in the Colorado river to climate change. The Phoenix metro area is on the cusp of being dangerously overextended. Its the urban bullseye for global warming in north America.

One of those plans is Bill Gatess brand-new smart municipality. The Microsoft founder recently vested $ 80 m( 57 m) in new developments conglomerate that aims to construct 80,000 new dwellings on undeveloped land west of Phoenix, and a brand-new freeway all the way to Las Vegas.



Despite year-round sunshine, Arizona only extracts 2-5% of its exertion from solar power. Picture: Deirdre Hamill/ AP
Another firm wants to build a master-planned parish, like Anthem, south of Tucson, and posed after the hilltop cities of Tuscany. It fantasizes five golf course, a vineyard, parks, lakes and 28,000 dwellings. The promotional video does not contain any detailed information on where all the ocean will come from, but boasts: This is the American dream: what it is you miss you can have.

What these cities require is ocean. The Phoenix area draws from groundwater, from big flows to the east, and from the mighty Colorado. The Hoover Dam accommodates lots of the Colorado's flow in the immense Lake Mead basin, but the river itself is sorely depleted. That sea has now dropped to within a few feet of positions that California, Nevada and Arizona, which all rely on it, weigh as official scarcities. Lake Powell, the reservoir at the other extremity of the Grand Canyon, similarly averages half its historic levels.

And hitherto despite the federal Bureau of Reclamation reporting in 2012 that droughts of five or more times would happen every decade over the next 50 times, greater Phoenix has not certified any spray rules. Nor has the position authority decided its official drought event proposal.

Theres a tremendous fight over all this, answers Jim Holway, vice president of the Central Arizona Water Conservation District. Climate change is having an impact but that's a contentious, unsettled matter in the countries of the western US.

Sprawl is the norm

As a hummingbird scooted to a shrub near Tollways swimming pool Phoenix from above is a off-color mosaic of back-garden pools Holway has pointed out that the Valley of the Sun may have to choose between agriculture and farther urbanisation. Twenty years ago, when he moved here, his home inspected out on to citrus woodlands and flower farms. Now the valley is dominated by mega-farms germinating winter vegetables for exportation and thirsting alfalfa for the cattles feed marketplace. Do we want to grow houses or pastures? he asks.

The conversation in Arizona even moves periodically to the preposterous ideas of sucking liquid from the Great Lakes 1,700 miles away, or build expensive desalination floras on the Pacific Ocean, instead of imposing water restrictions.

Greater Phoenix is good at recycling waste water, but the majority of members of it is used for refrigerating the Palo Verde nuclear power plant to the west of the town, the largest in the US and the only one not on its own body of water. Conversely, the ocean district is Arizona's biggest energy customer, because it has to spouted the irrigate uphill from the Colorado along miles of canals into Phoenix and Tucson. And most of that electricity comes from the heavily polluting, coal-fired Navajo Generating Station in the north of the state.

Meanwhile, despite experiencing more than 330 epochs of colors sunshine a year, Holway estimates that Arizona merely receives 2-5% of its force from solar power.



The Navajo Generating Station in north Arizona. Photo: Alamy
Phoenix is extreme but not alone. Most American metropolitan use more resources than needed and thats the method they were designed, says Sandy Bahr, chairman of the Arizona chapter of the Sierra Club. There is overconsumption and a expendable mentality. Our garbage is taken to remote landfill sites, the cities are designed for gondolas, and sprawl is the norm.

In his 2011 journal Bird on Fire, the New York University sociologist Andrew Ross labelled Phoenix the least sustainable metropoli in the world. He says he stands by his assessment and warns of an eco-apartheid, whereby low-income districts on the more polluted south side of the Salt River( which formerly spurted energetically through the city and is now a seep) are less able to protect themselves from the heat and drought than wealthier citizens.

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What is the Overstretched Cities series?

Overstretched Cities is an in-depth look at how urbanisation has appreciated metropolitans all over the world sprout in sizing, putting new strain on infrastructure and natural resources but in some cases offering hope for a more sustainable rapport with the natural world.

Over the course of the week, Guardian Cities matches will look beyond the numbers to tell the stories of people affected by the 21 st century's person and intake boom. From sprawling cities in the developed world the hell is downing more than their fair share of energy and sea, to less wealthy municipalities unequipped to handle the rapid increase in geographic and population size, we will ask this world phenomenon by talking to the people who are trying to mitigate its bad upshots and glitter a light on the upside of human populations boom by researching the social and environmental advantages of metropolitan density.


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Theres a stark inequality, he responds. The aid shelters, with their hybrid vehicles, their solar panel and other light-green thingamajigs; and the tribes on the other side struggling to breathe clean breath and imbibe uncontaminated spray. Its a prediction of where the world is headed.

Or, he responds, you can just look at the past. The Hohokam people were the original irrigators of the valley that subsequently became home to Phoenix. Their civilization, numbering an estimated 40,000, crumbled in the 15 th century for grounds believed to relate to disagreements over scarce water.

This week, the Overstretched Cities line investigates the impact of the rushing to urbanization, which has heard metropolitan around the world explode in length. Follow Guardian Cities on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram to join the discussion, and explore our archive here



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