How to Build the Movement for Progressive Power, the Urban Way

As the gears of federal government have ground to a halt, a new energy has been rocking the foundations of our urban centers. From Atlanta to Seattle and points in between, cities have begun seizing the initiative, transforming themselves into laboratories for progressive change. Cities Rising is The Nation’s chronicle of those urban experiments. * * * Cities are where the action is these days. Progressive action, political action. From paid sick days to universal pre-K, fossil-fuel divestment to anti-fracking ordinances, police reform to immigrant rights, the country’s urban centers are leading the way, far outpacing the federal government in vision and action. Just look at the growing movement for a $15 minimum wage. While Bernie Sanders has been raising minimum-wage consciousness on the campaign trail—introducing a bill in July to raise the federal minimum to $15 and calling for the same during the first Democratic presidential debate—it was local politicians, with names barely known beyond their districts, who first heeded the call of struggling workers and made $15 a reality. Before Bernie, in other words, there was Nick Licata and Kshama Sawant, Ruth Atkins, and the Emeryville City Council. In recognition of this moment, progressive politicians from cities around the country—Los Angeles, San Francisco, Minneapolis, Denver, Philadelphia, and beyond—have joined forces to begin sharing their strategies for creative progressive change. Calling themselves Local Progress, they swap policy solutions to urgent, ongoing injustices like income inequality and police brutality, share model legislation and provide strategic support for legislative campaigns. Kind of like an urban anti-ALEC. Today, just three years after it was formed, more than 400 elected officials from 40 states are part of the effort. And the victories are beginning to add up—from paid parental leave in Boston to paid sick leave in New York City, socially Continue Reading

Here’s how to pop the cork on New Year’s Eve, and save a bundle

Popping open a quality bottle of bubbly this New Year’s Eve doesn’t have to cost a fortune. Whether you celebrate with traditional Champagne or toast with Prosecco, Cava or sparkling wine, there’s a budget bottle for you. “Sparkling wine can be really affordable — you can drink it all night and not break the bank,” says David Lombardo, the beverage director of Benchmarc restaurants, including Kingside and Landmarc. “Some of these bottles are $12 — it’s hard to find beer for that price.” Here, New York City sommeliers and experts give their picks for the best celebratory sips for your money. --- CHAMPAGNE Paul-Etienne Saint Germain ($48.99, Tribeca Wine Merchants, 40 Hudson St., 212- 393-1400) When shopping for Champagne, seek names you don’t recognize, advises Tom Cregan, a sommelier who owns Rouge et Blanc, a French-Vietnamese restaurant in SoHo. He says that means they’re from smaller “grower” houses that make wine with the same grapes the vineyard produces rather than large houses that buy large quantities. “Grower Champagnes put all their resources into their wines, not marketing," Cregan says. This non-vintage Brut Tradition produced by Paul-Etienne Saint Germain is served by many of the top restaurants in France. Lucas Carton, “Reserve Speciale” Brut Demoiselle NV ($29.95, Sherry-Lehmann Wine & Spirits, 505 Park Ave., (212) 838-7500) This is one of the few sparklers produced in Champagne that you can actually buy for under $30, says Matt Wong, the general manager for Sherry-Lehmann Wine & Spirits. The wine was originally created to be sold at Lucas Carton, a Paris restaurant, and Sherry-Lehmann became the only store to sell it in the U.S. in the early 1990s. It’s got a buttery flavor with a nice dry finish, and “great fizz,” Wong says. --- PROSECCOS Lamberti Continue Reading

EXCLUSIVE: Taylor Swift ‘demands’ computer tech give up domain name that boasts he taught her how to play guitar

So much for gratitude. The Taylor Swift empire is threatening legal action against the computer tech who claims he taught the pop star how to play guitar and write songs. Soon after Ronnie Cremer told his Swift tale to the Daily News last month, the part-time musician purchased the domain name A week later, Swift's legal team sent an email demanding that he shut down the site, and threatened further legal action if he did not. "I almost feel like they were trying to bully me a little bit," Cremer told The News on Tuesday. "I'm not giving back the domain name. I mean, Go Daddy sold it to me." THE EXCLUSIVESTORY BEHIND TAYLOR SWIFT: MEET THE COMPUTER REPAIRMAN WHO TAUGHT HER TO PLAY On Feb. 6, Cremer received an email from TAS Rights Management, LCC saying that Cremer's domain name, "incorporates the famous Taylor Swift trademark in its entirety and suggests TAS's sponsorship or endorsement of your website. The Domain Name and your use of the Domain Name are also highly likely to dilute, and to tarnish, the famous Taylor Swift trademark." The letter goes onto "demand" that Cremer relinquish the domain name within three days of receipt. A Swift spokesperson did not immediately respond to a request for comment Tuesday. Cremer says that aside from the legal pressure he has gotten from Swift's camp, there has also been a flood of vitriol on social media from the star's fervent fanbase. "I got a lot of hate mail from Swift fans who just do not want to believe under any circumstances that Taylor lied to them," he said. "That's she's just not capable. That her story, that she called a 'magical twist of fate' story, could ever not be the truth. And I just feel like if I keep getting the story that was told by you out there, and other bits, that the truth will finally come out, and she will have to acknowledge." For Continue Reading

ICM Registry proposes to add .sex, .porn and .adult to list of approved domain names, after last year

Web domain names may get a little racier. ICM Registry, the company that brought .xxx to the Web last December, is applying to add .sex, .porn and .adult to its list of suggestive suffixes in next week's expansion of the Internet's generic top-level domains — the .com ending of a Web address. The list of proposed domain names will be released on June 13 by ICANN, the nonprofit corporation that regulates and sells the names. But that doesn't mean the suffixes will instantly go live online, CNN Money reports. Internet registries will have to fight for the most sought-after domain names in a battle that often comes down to how much they are willing to spend. Initial applications for top-level domains alone cost $185,000. ICM campaigned for the right to run .xxx for over decade before it was approved in 2011. The registry's CEO, Stuart Lawley, says he's adding the three suffixes in order to maintain control over online adult content. "We've been very careful and responsible in what we did with .xxx, and we don't want someone to take over what we've done as the incumbent," Lawley told CNN Money. "We're trying to produce clearly identified content that doesn't confuse consumers." ICM heavily monitors the 200,000 sites registered under .xxx with daily malware scanning and a “no tolerance” policy on illegal content like child pornography. The porn industry rallied against the .xxx domain name during the vetting process last year, arguing that the domain would give rise to censorship and blocking, according to The Register. Their efforts ultimately failed. If ICM’s new proposal succeeds, websites already registered under the .xxx domain will automatically have their website name reserved under .sex, .porn and .adult thanks to a "grandfather clause" offered by the registry. Companies can then choose to run their sites entirely under the new domain names for a nominal fee. Lawley, however, believes that will be Continue Reading

How to make sure Internet Service Providers don’t sell your data

Good news, everyone: Your privacy online did not vanish when Congress voted Tuesday to throw out planned rules that would have stopped Internet providers from tracking your browsing history and selling that data to advertisers. Bad news: Your privacy on the Internet wasn’t in great shape before that vote either.In other words, the death of pending Federal Communications Commission regulations is a reminder to perform the privacy check-up that you should have done anyway.The telecom companies that fought the FCC rules say they wouldn’t do the things banned by them anyway. At the end of January, most major ISPs and their trade associations signed a pledge to let you opt out of having your data used for third-party marketing.Take them at their word: Visit your provider’s privacy-policy page, as painful as digesting that legalese might be, and opt out of marketing options you don’t like.Since Tuesday’s vote, AT&T, Comcast and Verizon have each said they won’t sell browsing data to third parties. Since AT&T and Verizon had earlier done just that — the former with an “Internet Preferences” scheme on its gigabit fiber-optic service, the latter with a “supercookie” tracking header added to wireless traffic — one can only hope they’ve learned from those efforts.Sites that encrypt the connection between themselves and your browser — most often identified with an “https” prefix to an address or a lock icon in the address bar — stop third parties, including your Internet provider, from monitoring the data going back and forth. Your ISP will only see the domain name you visit… which, if it belongs to a political-advocacy group, can still be revealing.Some experts will advise employing a virtual private network (VPN) service to scramble all of your traffic, but I don’t recommend that unless you’re on a connection you know to be dicey, like at a Continue Reading

Google applies for .LOL top-level domain

We’re already seeing some diversity in domain names: There’s .me, .is and the controversial .xxx. But is it only a matter of time until all the nouns and verbs and letter combinations are snatched up? Leave it to Google to lead the charge. The company will apply this year for a handful of new top-level domains, including .google, .docs, .youtube and — wait for it — .LOL. The first three are no-brainers for the company, but .LOL? It falls under the category, “domains we think have interesting and creative potential,” Vint Cerf, the Web giant’s “Internet Evangelist,” wrote on the Google Official Blog Thursday. Cerf didn’t say how the fun domain would be used, but it’s easy to assume it would streamline the process of finding hilarious tidbits on the Web. Anyone can apply for unique top-level domains, but applications cost $185,000 apiece, plus fees. ICANN, the company that regulates and sells the domain names, began accepting applications last year and closed the window Thursday with nearly 2,000 applications to review. Not many companies can front that kind of cash, which may explain why the number of generic top-level domains has increased only 14% in the last 28 years, according to Cerf. Google put in more than 50 applications, reports Ad Age — a $9 million buy. The domains that are approved by ICANN will be active within nine months, while others could be caught up in the approval process for one or two years, Engadget reports. Cerf wrote that he’s curious to see how the new domains will fare in the existing environment, where nearly 50% of websites end with .com. Join the Conversation: Continue Reading

Report: Transgender Arizonans struggle to land, keep jobs

Callan Smith was just beginning his gender transition three years ago when he took a job at a Phoenix-area investor-relations firm.He hadn't yet legally changed his name, but he was "very upfront" about his wishes, he said: "I told them, 'This is the name I go by, these are my pronouns, and if you're going to hire me, this is what it is.' "A majority of his co-workers respected Smith's requests, he said — but not his supervisor."He was aware of my prior name, and he tended to use it," said Smith, 47. "Or we'd be on the phone with a client, and a co-worker would gender me properly, and then my boss would get on and use the wrong pronouns. It would create confusion for the client, and it was extremely uncomfortable for me."After a year trying to correct the problem, Smith left the company, applying to more than 40 jobs before landing his current marketing position at another firm. There, the Maricopa resident has told only his boss that he is transgender. He's afraid of opening himself up to another tense work environment if more people find out.Smith's experiences aren't an anomaly. Every transgender Arizonan interviewed by The Arizona Republic for this article reported experiencing discrimination in hiring or employment based on their gender identities, as well as fears of being outed and fired at work.Their stories reflect data from the largest study ever devoted to the lives of transgender people — the 2015 U.S. Transgender Survey — which found that 16 percent of Arizona respondents were unemployed and 28 percent lived in poverty.That's almost three times the 2015 unemployment rate for the Arizona population at large and almost twice the poverty rate, with transgender people of color faring even worse. The study's Arizona results were released last month."Those numbers don't surprise me at all," said Ashton Skinner, transgender outreach Continue Reading sells for record amount after Clover Holdings LTD pays $13 million for ownership of website

Sex sells – for $13 million, to be exact. That's how much Clover Holdings LTD, a little-known company registered in the island of St. Vincent, paid for the rights to, making it the most expensive website in history. Previous owner Escom LLC, which purchased the popular URL for a then unheard-of $11.5 million in 2006, was forced to sell after mounting debts put the company in the red. was scheduled to go to foreclosure auction earlier this year, but Escom's creditors avoided a below-market sale by filing a Chapter 11 bankruptcy petition against the company. Web marketplace firm Sedo oversaw the record-breaking purchase and announced the deal on its website. "To our knowledge, this sale represents the single largest recorded price paid for a domain name in the history of the Internet," Sedo senior domain broker Jeffrey Gabriel said in an official release. After, the most expensive sites are ($9.9 million), ($9.5 million), ($7.5 million), ($5.5 million) and ($5.1 million). was originally registered with Networks Solutions in May 1994 by businessman Gary Kremen, who went on to make a fortune in the burgeoning  Internet industry by claiming the rights to numerous domain names, including and Ownership of the website came into dispute a year later when Stephen M. Cohen illegally obtained the rights to the domain by submitting forged letters, fake faxes and fraudulent emails to Networks Solutions. It is estimated that Cohen earned $50,000 to $500,000 per month, thanks to the traffic generated by ensuing legal battle led the California District Court to award $65 million in damages to Kremen, as well as issue an arrest warrant for Cohen. After several years in hiding, Cohen was captured in Tijuana, Mexico, in 2005. Join the Conversation: Continue Reading

Bidding starts at $1 million for Internet domain name, one of the most valuable Internet domain names out there, will be thrust on the auction block Thursday.The bidding at the midtown Manhattan law firm of Windels Marx Lane & Mittendorf LLP starts at $1 million.The auction firm David R. Maltz & Co. Inc. won't disclose how many deposits have come in since sale plans for the porn site were announced a week ago."It's one of those things you never know until the day of," said Richard Maltz. "We're hopeful we'll have a lot, but we also know not that many will have the ability to write a check for whatever it will sell for."California-based Escom paid a reported $14 million for in 2006, but it looks like it couldn't turn a profit despite a reported $15,000 a day in revenue. DOM Partners, a New Jersey lender, set up today's sale after Escom defaulted on its loan. Join the Conversation: Continue Reading

Got rich with a click: three businessmen quick to jump on city domain names

They're sitting on some of the most valuable property in the city - bought for a pittance and now worth millions even though it's not much to look at. Leland Hardy, Kevin Cahill, Larry Fischer: These guys are the kings of New York, at least in cyberspace. They're not moguls, at least not in the traditional sense. They don't own mansions and skyscrapers; they control domain names. Cahill, a firefighter, bought for $30,000 seven years ago. It's now worth some $200,000. Harlem-based entrepreneur Hardy snapped up for a few bucks in 1994 and could probably sell it for more than $6 million. Fischer, a Brooklynite, spent five figures when he bought and hopes to flip it for a fat profit. His site is bare bones like, which is owned by an investor in Dubai, and, controlled by an anonymous entity. Experts say that's fine. As with physical real estate, virtual property derives value not from fancy fixtures but from those three golden words: location, location, location. "These sites get a lot of traffic, and with traffic, comes revenue," said Jerry Nolte, CEO of Domainers magazine. "You don't need a fully developed site." The most valuable of the bunch by far is Along with, which is used by a community newspaper, it's also the most developed - allowing visitors to make hotel and restaurant reservations or buy theater tickets. Every time someone books through the site, Hardy gets paid. How much has he made? He's not saying. "The site does well," he said. Hardy was a student at the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School in the mid-1980s when he started experimenting with a precursor to the Internet. He went on to become a professional boxer and a Wall Street banker. Eventually, his focus returned to what's now called the Web. It was 1994, a time when most domain names weren't registered. On a whim, he checked if was available. It was. "I was Continue Reading