For decades, the Federal Railroad Administration had effectively banned modern European trains from American mainline rail networks. European and Asian manufacturers have been slimming down their rolling stock for years to improve performance — energy efficiency, braking and acceleration, even track and train maintenance — while U.S. transit agencies were stuck with bulked-up versions of sleek European cars, weighted down and otherwise modified to meet FRA regulations. The Acela, on Amtrak's Northeast Corridor, was perhaps the most notorious victim of the old rules. David Gunn once called it a "high-velocity bank vault" for its bulky design, and many attributed its maintenance woes to its untested design, customized to meet U.S. safety regulations. But every commuter and intercity train has to comply with the rules, and most suffer, to one degree or another, from high costs and poor performance. But not for much longer. Beginning in 2015, regulators and manufacturers expect the FRA to allow modern European designs on tracks throughout the country, running side by side with heavy freight at all times of day. There will be no special signaling requirements for trains purchased under the new rules, although a separate requirement for more advancing anti-collision signaling, called positive train control, is set to kick in around the same time.
Thursday, October 31, 2013
Most people arrested for marijuana possession were not smoking it: they typically had a small amount hidden in their clothing, vehicle or personal effects. The police found the marijuana by stopping and searching them (often illegally), or by tricking them into revealing it.Police departments concentrate their patrols only in certain neighborhoods, usually ones designated as "high crime." These are mainly places where low-income whites and people of color live. In these neighborhoods, police stop and search the most vehicles and individuals while looking for "contraband" of any type to make an arrest. The most common item that people in any neighborhood possess that will get them arrested—and the most common item that police find—is a small amount of marijuana.Police officers patrolling in middle- and upper-middle-class neighborhoods typically do not search the vehicles and pockets of white people, so most well-off whites enjoy a de facto legalization of marijuana possession. Free from the intense surveillance and frequent searches that occur in other neighborhoods, they have little reason to fear a humiliating arrest and incarceration. This produces patterns, as in Chicago, where whites constitute 45 percent of the population but only 5 percent of those arrested for possession. The result has been called "racism without racists." No individual officers need harbor racial animosity for the criminal justice system to produce jails and courts filled with black and brown faces. But the absence of hostile intent does not absolve policy-makers and law enforcement officials from responsibility or blame. As federal judge Shira Scheindlin recently determined in two prominent stop-and-frisk cases, New York City's top officials "adopted an attitude of willful blindness toward statistical evidence of racial disparities in stops and stop outcomes." She cited the legal doctrine of "deliberate indifference" to describe police and city officials who "willfully ignored overwhelming proof that the policy…is racially discriminatory and therefore violates the United States Constitution."
The Federal Aviation Administration today made historic changes to its longstanding Portable Electronic Devices (PEDs) policy, officially allowing airlines to grant passengers permission to use PEDs "during all phases of flight." In its official press release, the FAA said implementation of the new policy among airlines will take time as carriers must prove that their fleets can handle the usage of multiple PEDs gate-to-gate, but the agency expects that by the end of this year, passengers will "be able to read e-books, play games, and watch videos on their devices during all phases of flight, with very limited exceptions."
In an energy-saving effort, the city plans to replace all of its 250,000 streetlights with brighter, whiter, energy-saving, light-emitting diode fixtures in one of the nation’s largest retrofitting projects, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and the transportation commissioner, Janette Sadik-Khan, said in a news conference on Thursday.I've been eagerly awaiting this for years, but this is one example of when it's good to be a later adopter. The quality of LED bulbs has improved remarkably at the same time that prices have fallen dramatically. And now:
The news conference was on Eastern Parkway in Brooklyn, where lights have already been replaced, expecting to save more than $70,000 and nearly 248,000 kilowatt-hours a year in energy. Unlike standard lights, which last six years, LED bulbs can burn for 20 years before they need to be replaced, the administration said, and the project is expected to save $14 million a year in energy and maintenance costs.I hope at the same time they're going with a lamp design that reduces light pollution by doing a better job of focusing the light downward.
The project, which began as a pilot program in 2009, will be completed in three phases. The full removal will start in Brooklyn with 80,000 “cobra-headed” streetlights, with their sodium high-pressured bulbs, then move on to Queens and, eventually, the rest of the city.
Wednesday, October 30, 2013
I'll bet that remnants of the west side cow tunnel are still buried, much like the "lost" Atlantic Ave. tunnel. And I defy you to gaze upon that manhole cover and not see a waffle.
The Koch brothers, Pete Peterson and other billionaires are spending huge amounts of money trying to cut Social Security and other vitally important federal programs. As part of this campaign, an enormous amount of misinformation is floating around. Let me try to set the record straight by answering a few of the questions that people are asking my office. Is Social Security "going broke"? No! Social Security is not going broke. According to the Social Security Administration, the Social Security Trust Fund has a surplus today of $2.8 trillion. This sum, plus revenue that comes in every day, can pay out every benefit owed to every eligible American for the next 20 years. In 2033, unless Congress acts, Social Security will be able to pay out only 75 percent of benefits owed. Congress must act and make Social Security strong for the next 50 to 75 years.
It is a fact that taxes on the wealthy are at near historic lows, and that the share of the wealth controlled by the rich is at historic highs. It is a fact that corporate profits are at record highs, as is the stock market. Business, and big business in particular, is doing very, very well. Yet unemployment remains high, wages are stagnant, economic mobility is weak and the middle class is shrinking. Corporations are sitting on vast accumulated wealth, but are not investing that wealth in human capital that advances broad-based prosperity. We do, on the other hand, have plenty of evidence that high levels of income inequality are very damaging to an economy. We have plenty of evidence that corporations are unwilling to invest in new products because they're not certain that consumers will be able to afford them. Moreover, we know that unemployment was lower and the nation more prosperous when taxes on the wealthy were higher, when regulations on Wall Street were more stringent, and when organized labor was more powerful.
screen. Even the small screen would have been nice. As an adult it's
been great to revisit so many of those stories as movie magic has
caught up to the imaginations of generations of kids. The sad
decision of Bryan Singer to skip the X-Men franchise for an
ill-advised entry in the Superman universe was doubly tragic in that
it foisted Brett Ratner onto what should have been a great third film. Instead . . . meh.
But now Singer is back to helm perhaps the best X-Men story arcs of
all time: Days of Future Past. And by of all time, I mean up to about
1990 when I stopped reading comics on a regular basis.
Anyway the trailer is up and it looks great.
Tuesday, October 29, 2013
Shared from the Digg iPhone app:
UNITED NATIONS — The U.N. General Assembly voted overwhelmingly on Tuesday to condemn the U.S. commercial, economic and financial embargo against Cuba for the 22nd year in a row. The symbolic vote Tuesday was 188-2, with three abstentions. The United States and Israel voted against it. General Assembly resolutions are unenforceable. The embargo was enacted in 1960 following Cuba's nationalization of properties belonging to U.S. citizens and corporations. Sanctions were strengthened to a near-total embargo in 1962.
Typos courtesy of my iPhone
"How did Hollywood get so "liberal"? It all started when author and ex-socialist Upton Sinclair swept the Democratic primary for governor of California in 1934, as I explore in my book and ebook The Campaign of the Century, winner of the Goldsmith Book Prize and finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Award. Hollywood's response, including the creation of the first "attack ads" for the screen by none other than Irving Thalberg--you can watch excerpts below--destroyed Sinclair but also led to the rise of the "liberal" movie industry we see today."
Bill de Blasio, who was arrested last June while protesting the imminent closure of Long Island College Hospital, isn't letting the issue go. The mayoral front-runner stood today with union members and hospital workers to protest the layoff of 500 hospital workers, which he plans to fight in court. "If you take away the personnel, the hospital effectively dies," Mr. de Blasio, the city's public advocate, declared to reporters at a press conference in front of the hospital's playground. "We're going back to court. We are simply not gonna take it," he added later. Mr. de Blasio announced that community members are requesting a court order to "stop these layoffs dead in their tracks," which he argued was a matter of public safety. "Effectively what SUNY is trying to do is close LICH at all costs and somehow put a legal fig leaf on it. So it's just once again SUNY proposing and pursuing a closure plan, just not admitting it out loud," he said.
So, unknown to the Tate, the public or the artists, the exhibition was transferred to London at American taxpayers' expense to serve subtle Cold War propaganda purposes. A former CIA man, Tom Braden, described how such conduits as the Farfield Foundation were set up. "We would go to somebody in New York who was a well-known rich person and we would say, 'We want to set up a foundation.' We would tell him what we were trying to do and pledge him to secrecy, and he would say, 'Of course I'll do it,' and then you would publish a letterhead and his name would be on it and there would be a foundation. It was really a pretty simple device."Julius Fleischmann was well placed for such a role. He sat on the board of the International Programme of the Museum of Modern Art in New York - as did several powerful figures close to the CIA.
Monday, October 28, 2013
Typos courtesy of my iPhone
Apple Sold 33.8 Million iPhones, 14.1 Million iPads, And 4.6 Million Macs In Q4 2013 | TechCrunch
Saturday, October 26, 2013
New York Underground: A Centuries-Old Underworld of Caverns, Squatters, and Unmarked Doors | Vanity Fair
Deep below the streets of New York City lie its vital organs—a waterThe scale of these works is breathtaking to behold. I wish everybody had the opportunity to go down inside the roughed out caverns of these massive works before they are made ready for people. It's like nothing you've ever seen.
system, subways, railroads, tunnels, sewers, drains, and power and
cable lines—in a vast, three-dimensional tangle. Penetrating this
centuries-old underworld of caverns, squatters, and unmarked doors,
William Langewiesche follows three men who constantly navigate its
dangers: the subway-operations chief who dealt with the devastation of
Hurricane Sandy, the engineer in charge of three underground
mega-projects, and the guy who, well, just loves exploring the dark,
jerry-rigged heart of a great metropolis.
Friday, October 25, 2013
Thursday, October 24, 2013
The voices of Kissinger and Nixon are the book's most shocking aspects. Bass has unearthed a series of conversations, most of them from the White House's secret tapes, that reveal Nixon and Kissinger as breathtakingly vulgar and hateful, especially in their attitudes toward the Indians, whom they regarded as repulsive, shifty and, anyway, pro-Soviet — and especially in their opinion of Indira Gandhi. "The old bitch," Nixon called her. "I don't know why the hell anybody would reproduce in that damn country but they do," he said.These sorts of statements will probably not surprise the experts, but what is most telling is what they reveal about Nixon's and Kissinger's strategic intelligence. At every step of the crisis, the two men appear to have been driven as much by their loathing of India — West Pakistan's rival — as by any cool calculations of power. By failing to restrain West Pakistan, they allowed a blood bath to unfold, and then a regional war, which began when Gandhi finally decided that the only way to stop the tide of refugees was to stop the killing across the border. That, in turn, prompted West Pakistan to attack India.
Typos courtesy of my iPhone
Wednesday, October 23, 2013
"It reveals quite a lot about Rogoff's sense of proportion to see him on about McCarthyism and his misguided sense of victimhood when his policies produce outcomes like hospitals in Greece running short of medicine and having to reuse sheets, or the exodus of 13% of the population of Latvia to find work, or as many as 146 million Europeans falling into poverty by 2025? What brought the end of McCarthy's rein of terror was when the Wisconsin senator smeared a junior member of the legal team representing the Army on national television. The lead counsel Joseph Welch upbraided McCarthy, ending with the now-famous "Have you no sense of decency, sir? At long last, have you left no sense of decency?" The same question could just as well be posed to Rogoff."
Tuesday, October 22, 2013
The arsenal of medicines in the Hayeses' kitchen helps explain why. Pulmicort, a steroid inhaler, generally retails for over $175 in the United States, while pharmacists in Britain buy the identical product for about $20 and dispense it free of charge to asthma patients. Albuterol, one of the oldest asthma medicines, typically costs $50 to $100 per inhaler in the United States, but it was less than $15 a decade ago, before it was repatented. "The one that really blew my mind was the nasal spray," said Robin Levi, Hannah and Abby's mother, referring to her $80 co-payment for Rhinocort Aqua, a prescription drug that was selling for more than $250 a month in Oakland pharmacies last year but costs under $7 in Europe, where it is available over the counter.
Monday, October 21, 2013
"Lenz, a 23-year veteran of the New York City Police Department, picked up the reigns from Deputy Inspector Jeffrey Schiff, who headed the precinct for a year and a half. Schiff is now the commanding officer of the 106th Precinct in Queens, a neighboring borough. Before taking over the 76th Precinct, Lenz served as the executive officer of the 24th Precinct in Manhattan, and previously served at the 112th Precinct in Queens. The 30-year member of the New York Army National Guard spent the last three years heading the NYPD's Brooklyn North Narcotics squad where he covered narcotics operations in East New York and Brownsville."
After the 9/11 attacks in 2001, few disputed there was a need to respond, by eliminating the safe haven for al-Qaeda terrorists in Afghanistan. But when that seemed too easy -- when not enough ass was kicked, it seems -- we turned to Iraq, muttering something about "weapons of mass destruction" that weren't even there. Killing mass numbers of people, just to prove that you can, is morally unconscionable. But does it even work?. After nearly seven decades of post World War II butt-kickery, U.S. respect and support -- and arguably power and influence -- are at or near record lows. The nations that are on the rise are the ones that have invested less in producing weapons of mass butt-kickery and more in "soft" things like education and bridges that don't collapse. That is the reality-based world that our president and are generals have failed to see -- the one that was staring them in the face when they thought they were kicking butt.
Saturday, October 19, 2013
- Between Court Square and Bedford-Nostrand Avs
- Between Bedford-Nostrand Avs and Hoyt-Schermerhorn Sts, every 20 minutes
To connect between F and G service, customers should take the A or C between Hoyt-Schermerhorn Sts and Jay Street-MetroTech.
Typos courtesy of my iPhone
Ben hasn't post the usual roundup, so you'll have to check in with the MTA:
Friday, October 18, 2013
Shared from the Digg iPhone app:
The anti-deficit lobbying organization "Fix the Debt" staged a question-and-answer chat on Twitter Thursday. Its goal presumably was to reach America's smartphone-savvy youth with its message that Social Security and Medicare payments to their grandparents are going to land them in the poorhouse a few decades from now. It's fair to say that "Fix the Debt" got more than it bargained for. Twitterers from all over responded to the invitation with pointed, tactless and downright impolite questions. Many of them aimed to discern how paring social insurance benefits for the elderly and infirm will make society stronger, which is the core of the organization's worldview. Those so inclined can still post their thoughts at #fixthedebtqa.
Rather than just do a poor job of lip reading scenes from Game of Thrones, Bad Lip Reading took the entire series and transformed it into a raunchy romcom called Medieval Land Fun-Time World."Theme park manager Eddie Stark has one week to whip his lackluster group of employees into shape before the park's grand opening," reads the videos description.
Typos courtesy of my iPhone
Thursday, October 17, 2013
The kicker?A public hearing on the proposed contract long-term contract to Aguila, Inc. to operate a shelter at 165-167 West 9th Street will be held on Thursday, October 17, at 49 Chambers Street at 10 a.m.Craig R. Hammerman, District Manager of CB6, said via email that the community board received a letter on Friday, October 11 from the Department of Homeless Services informing them that the agency proposed, via a letter to Mayor Bloomberg, to award the controversial contract to Aguila.Daniel M. Kummer, Chairperson of Community Board 6, immediately fired off a letter to Department of Homeless Services Commissioner Michele Ovesey, calling the shelter proposal “wholly inappropriate.” He also expressed amazement that Mayor Bloomberg was never informed that CB6’s board had resolved by a vote of 31 to 1 (with 3 abstentions) to oppose the use of the site “based on both defective process and lack of merit.”“Notably, none of the concerns we raised at that time appear to have been addressed in your October 10 letter to the Mayor in any meaningful way,” Kummer wrote to Ovesey.The city says it faces “unprecedented” demand for homeless shelters, and the proposed shelter –- in a building originally designed as a 10-unit luxury condo -- is compatible with the surrounding area.But Victoria Malkin, organizer of the petition on Change.org, writes, “What does it say when you take the biggest building in a neighborhood, turn it into a shelter for 170 people with no community input under an emergency dictate, give it to an organization ‘Homeless Solutions’ that is just over one year old to manage, where the owner of the building is on the board and the organization is run by the former DHS Housing commissioner. Whose interests do they have at heart?”
Councilmember Brad Lander, Assemblywoman Joan Millman, Senator Velmanette Montgomery and Community Board 6 (of which I'm a member) all vehemently opposed this corrupt disgrace. This city has "unprecedented demand for homeless shelters" due to the disastrous policies of Mike Bloomberg. Amazing that his very cronies now stand to profit from it.Housing Solutions USA/Aguila Inc. is headed by former Bloomberg official Robert Hess.