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Gender: Male
Hometown: Detroit, MI
Member since: Fri Oct 29, 2004, 12:18 AM
Number of posts: 74,621

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Trolley-Train Hybrid Tackles City Streets, Then Speeds to Suburbs

Trolley-Train Hybrid Tackles City Streets, Then Speeds to Suburbs

By Keith Barry
6:30 AM

The city of Sheffield, U.K. is installing the country’s first tram-train, a public transit hybrid that can serve both the suburbs and a city’s urban core thanks to a special wheel design that can handle both the tight turns and higher speeds.

When it’s complete in 2016, tram-trains will run eight miles along the national rail tracks from Rotherham Parkgate to Sheffield, just like a traditional commuter rail line. But instead of stopping at a station at the edge of the city and forcing riders to switch to local transit, when the train gets to Sheffield’s center — er, centre — it will seamlessly transition onto the existing rails of the Sheffield SuperTram.

Sheffield’s system is a $98 million pilot project to determine whether tram-trains will work in the rest of the U.K. On paper, at least, it seems like a good fit: The tram-train setup not only gives passengers an easier ride downtown, but turns any existing rail right-of-way into a potential light rail system. Maintenance costs are lower for trams, and a tram-train gives transit authorities added flexibility.

Technologically speaking, building a tram-train may not sound like a spectacular feat, but trust us, it is. Even if they’re of the same gauge of track, the two modes often have different signaling and safety standards, and a tram-train must comply with both. .........................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.wired.com/autopia/2014/02/tram-train/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+wiredautopia+%28Wired%3A+Blog+-+Autopia%29

There Is A Huge Underground Farm Hiding 100 Feet Beneath London's Streets

There Is A Huge Underground Farm Hiding 100 Feet Beneath London's Streets
It's hard to find enough space for urban farms to grow enough local produce to feed a big city. Unless you put the whole farm below in an abandoned tunnel.

The newest branch line of the London Underground doesn't go anywhere. But it does produce a lot of nice food to eat. It's an aquaponic farm, 100 feet below the surface, set to open this March.

With sky-high rents in central London, it made sense for the startup behind the project, Zero Carbon Food, to look for an unconventional farm site. And the location, beneath the Northern line, puts the produce near a lot of restaurant customers. That reduces the miles that food has to travel to reach the table. Zero Carbon Food is now selling stock online--you can see its full pitch below:

The 2.5 acre project relies on its location in a tunnel to reduce heating and cooling costs. The temperature stays stable at 60 degrees all year round. There aren't many airborne pests to worry about either. A simple filter takes out any nasties, and lets the produce--which includes pea shoots, rocket, broccoli, mustard leaf and basil--grow without pesticides. .................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.fastcoexist.com/3025875/there-is-a-huge-underground-farm-hiding-100-feet-beneath-londons-streets

Atlanta: MARTA GM: Rail system would ideally be double its size

[font size="1"]Atlanta's MARTA, Washington's METRO and San Francisco's BART were all built at about the same time. (Atlanta Business Chronicle/NBC)[/font]

ATLANTA -- MARTA was one of three transit agencies built at the same time - BART in San Francisco and METRO in Washington, D.C.

Both BART and METRO today have about 100 miles of rail, but MARTA only has 48 miles - giving fuel to the argument that it is a skeletal system.

But if its up to MARTA General Manager Keith Parker the transit agency will re-enter into an expansion mode as soon as fiscally possible.

"MARTA has only reached half of its potential," Parker told members of the Rotary Club of Atlanta on Monday. "We are a transit system we feel is poised to do much more, to be like Washington and San Francisco, which are 100-mile transit authorities." ..................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.11alive.com/news/article/321305/40/MARTA-GM-Rail-system-would-ideally-be-double-its-size

NY: New Tappan Zee Bridge: Report details bus rapid transit

A task force is recommending a major expansion of the bus-rapid-transit network in the Lower Hudson Valley to support the new Tappan Zee Bridge.

The report from the 31-member task force, obtained Monday by Gannett's Albany Bureau, recommends expanding service, planning for a transportation center in White Plains and adding sensors to buses to get through busy intersections in Westchester and Rockland counties.

In its 26-page executive summary, the task force “recommends a new bus rapid transit (BRT) system that is simpler, faster and more reliable than what is provided today.”

The proposal “will expand and enhance the existing transit system and will take advantage of extra lane capacity on” the new bridge. .................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.lohud.com/article/20140210/NEWS/302100102?nclick_check=1

Pro Publica: Where Four State Health Exchanges Went Wrong

by Charles Ornstein
ProPublica, Feb. 6, 2014, 7:30 a.m.

Much has been written (and will continue to be written) about the spectacular failure of health insurance exchanges in Minnesota, Massachusetts, Oregon and Maryland—all blue states that support the Affordable Care Act.

All were woefully unprepared for their Oct. 1 launch, and unlike HealthCare.gov, the federal marketplace, they are still having trouble getting back on their feet. As a result, enrollment in those four states has lagged behind other states, including many that actively oppose the health law.

The New York Times recently reported on how problems in these states could give Republican candidates an opening. “Last month, the Republican National Committee filed public-records requests in Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota and Oregon seeking information about compensation and vacation time for the exchange directors, four of whom have resigned. All five states have Democratic governors whose terms end this year. Three of them — Gov. Neil Abercrombie of Hawaii, Gov. Mark Dayton of Minnesota and Gov. John Kitzhaber of Oregon — are seeking re-election,” The Times reported.

One common element emerging in the coverage of these exchanges is that at least some state employees knew they were heading for disaster but didn’t take action early enough to remedy it. All the states have blamed some, if not all, of their problems on outside tech contractors. Here’s a sampling of what has been reported in each state. ......................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.propublica.org/article/epic-fail-where-four-state-health-exchanges-went-wrong

Robert Parry: Is Hillary Clinton a Neocon-Lite?

from Consortium News:

Is Hillary Clinton a Neocon-Lite?
February 10, 2014

Exclusive: As a U.S. senator and Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton often followed a neocon-style foreign policy, backing the Iraq War, teaming up with Defense Secretary Robert Gates on an Afghan War “surge,” and staking out an even more hawkish stance than Gates on Libya, Robert Parry reports.

By Robert Parry

Most Democratic power-brokers appear settled on Hillary Clinton as their choice for President in 2016 – and she holds lopsided leads over potential party rivals in early opinion polls – but there are some warning flags flying, paradoxically, hoisted by former Defense Secretary Robert Gates in his praise for the former First Lady, U.S. senator and Secretary of State.

On the surface, one might think that Gates’s glowing commendations of Clinton would further burnish her standing as the odds-on next President of the United States, but strip away the fawning endorsements and Gates’s portrait of Clinton in his new memoir, Duty, is of a pedestrian foreign policy thinker who is easily duped and leans toward military solutions.

Indeed, for thoughtful and/or progressive Democrats, the prospect of a President Hillary Clinton could represent a step back from some of President Barack Obama’s more innovative foreign policy strategies, particularly his readiness to cooperate with the Russians and Iranians to defuse Middle East crises and his willingness to face down the Israel Lobby when it is pushing for heightened confrontations and war.

Based on her public record and Gates’s insider account, Clinton could be expected to favor a more neoconservative approach to the Mideast, one more in line with the traditional thinking of Official Washington and the belligerent dictates of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. ........................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://consortiumnews.com/2014/02/10/is-hillary-clinton-a-neocon-lite/

Florida: Campaign Pushing to 'Greenlight' Pinellas Mass Transit Tax

FL: Campaign Pushing to 'Greenlight' Pinellas Mass Transit Tax

Christopher O'Donnell
Source: Tampa Tribune
Created: February 10, 2014

Feb. 09--ST. PETERSBURG -- With elected leaders, environmentalists and activists in attendance, transit supporters Friday launched a nine-month campaign to persuade voters to back a one-penny sales tax hike to pay for a mass-transit system in Pinellas.

Realtors, construction firms and other companies are expected to raise up to $1 million for the advocacy campaign dubbed "Yes for Greenlight." Voter approval in November would kick start a $2.2 billion, 10-year project to expand bus service by 65 percent, add bus-only lanes to some major roads, and build a 24-mile light-rail link from Clearwater to St. Petersburg.

"This is about the future of Pinellas County," said County Commissioner and Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority Chairman Ken Welch. "It's about jobs; it's about economic development."

The campaign will be led by Ronnie Duncan, chair of the Tampa Bay Area Regional Transportation Authority, and Chris Steinocher, president of the St. Petersburg Chamber of Commerce. .....................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.masstransitmag.com/news/11308188/campaign-pushing-to-greenlight-pinellas-mass-transit-tax

Houston: Contaminated Soil Sinks Metro Underpass Plans for Green Line

TX: Contaminated Soil Sinks Metro Underpass Plans for Green Line

Dug Begley
Source: Houston Chronicle
Created: February 10, 2014

Feb. 10--Residents of Houston's East End supported a 2003 transit referendum that included a light rail line through their neighborhood, but they balked six years later when they learned of plans for a large overpass -- a "hideous monstrosity," in the words of one community leader -- that would cross freight rail tracks along Harrisburg.

Two years of often contentious negotiations ensued as Metropolitan Transit Authority officials responded to concerns that the overpass would split the neighborhood and inhibit redevelopment. With the city of Houston as peacemaker and financial partner, Metro shelved its overpass plan in 2011 and agreed to build an underpass, winning the wary support of residents.

But now, as work on the so-called Green Line nears completion, the discovery of a vast area of gasoline-polluted soil appears to have scuttled the underpass plan, reopening a wound that Metro, the city and the neighborhood thought had been healed. The city's $20 million stake in the project is in question, and transit officials are seeking community support for a plan likely to send the light rail trains over the Union Pacific tracks rather than under them.

The crossing is critical to extending the Green Line east of Hughes Road, planned to link downtown with the Magnolia Park Transit Center. The Green Line, which Metro is building with no federal assistance, is one of two Metro rail lines scheduled to open this fall. .....................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.masstransitmag.com/news/11308187/contaminated-soil-sinks-metro-underpass-plans-for-green-line

Death By Metadata: Jeremy Scahill & Glenn Greenwald Reveal NSA Role in Assassinations Overseas

Pt. I

Pt. II

Published on Feb 10, 2014

http://www.democracynow.org - In the first exposé for their new venture, First Look Media's digital journal The Intercept, investigative journalists Jeremy Scahill and Glenn Greenwald reveal the National Security Agency is using complex analysis of electronic surveillance, rather than human intelligence, as the primary method to locate targets for lethal drone strikes. The NSA identifies targets based on controversial metadata analysis and cell-phone tracking technologies, an unreliable tactic that has resulted in the deaths of innocent and unidentified people. The United States has reportedly carried out drone strikes without knowing whether the individual in possession of a tracked cell phone or SIM card is in fact the intended target of the strike. Scahill and Greenwald join us to discuss their report and the launch of their media project.

Dark Money and the US Chamber of Commerce: Majority of Donations Given by Just 64 Entities

Dark Money and the US Chamber of Commerce: Majority of Donations Given by Just 64 Entities

Monday, 10 February 2014 14:04
By Candice Bernd, Truthout | News Analysis

Don't be fooled by the US Chamber of Commerce's rhetoric that it represents the interests of small businesses in America, because the interests of those really funding the Chamber are likely very different from the concerns of the nation's mom-and-pop shops.

A new report by Public Citizen, called "The Gilded Chamber," analyzes the US Chamber of Commerce's 2012 tax forms and found that more than half of all contributions to the Chamber came from just 64 donors in 2012.

The report looks at 1,619 contributions listed on Form 990 tax return documents, required for nonprofits to report contributions of more than $5000 to the IRS, by the Chamber and its partner, the US Chamber Institute for Legal Reform (ILR). The ILR works in conjunction with the Chamber for legal reforms that largely favor business and against consumer-access to the courts. Only a few of the organization's overall donors make up the majority of their contributions, according to the report.

"It makes you wonder whether they have policy disputes: whether concerns from small businesses who donate to the Chamber and want certain things to come out of it; are they going to get their policies pushed by the Chamber if the companies giving the hundreds of thousands and millions are making up much more of the base of the Chamber's fundraising?" Sam Jewler, the report's author, told Truthout. .................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://truth-out.org/news/item/21781-dark-money-and-the-us-chamber-of-commerce-majority-of-donations-given-by-just-64-entities

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