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Gender: Male
Hometown: Detroit, MI
Member since: Fri Oct 29, 2004, 12:18 AM
Number of posts: 74,624

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Measuring Metro's Performance: A Tight Squeeze Through The Rosslyn Bottleneck

Measuring Metro's Performance: A Tight Squeeze Through The Rosslyn Bottleneck

Friday, August 15, 2014 - 11:43 AM
By Martin DiCaro : WAMU

Metro’s answer to Blue Line riders who have asked the transit authority to restore rush hour trains cut to make way for the Silver Line is: there is simply no more room.

The Rosslyn tunnel, the rail system’s worst chokepoint, can handle no more than 26 trains per rush hour. Now that Orange, Silver, and Blue are sharing the tracks, only five of those trains may be Blue Line. That's down from the seven per hour before the Silver Line opened.

But Metro often fails to reach its scheduled goal of 26 trains through Rosslyn, both in morning (inbound to D.C.) and afternoon (outbound to Va.) rush hours.

There are several reasons for less than optimal performance.

* Train or track problems: On August 6, a disabled train on the Orange Line forced single-tracking, sending delays rippling across the system. Only 14 outbound trains made it through Rosslyn between 6 and 7 p.m. that Wednesday, and only two were Blue Line.

* Crowding: It’s a vicious cycle: crowded trains take longer to unload and load once they arrive at the platform. This slows down the Blue/Orange/Silver parade, causing trains further down the line to become even more crowded.

* Manual operations: Because Metro’s trains have yet to return to Automatic Train Operation, individual operators are in control of acceleration and deceleration. Each operator drives a train differently, and some are more efficient than others at pulling into and then accelerating out of a station. Over the course of an hour, a few lost seconds per train adds up to an extra minute or two of delays.

According to data provided by Metro and compiled by MetroMinder DC, an app that measures the rail system's performance, in the first week of Silver Line service (July 28 through August 1), an average 25 outbound trains passed through the bottleneck between 5 to 6 p.m. Between 6 and 7 p.m., the average fell to 23.7 trains/hour. ...................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.wnyc.org/story/measuring-metros-performance-tight-squeeze-through-rosslyn-bottleneck/

Let’s make suburbs into cities: New urbanism, car culture and the future of community

Let’s make suburbs into cities: New urbanism, car culture and the future of community
Well, with an urban spirit, at least. Can real community grow in a town designed to bring people together?


Excerpted from "Americans Against the City: Anti-Urbanism in the 20th Century"

By the last quarter of the twentieth century, Americans had succeeded in building an alternative to the dense central city, and the anti-government politics of the New Right had triumphed on the national stage. Roughly three out of every four of us live in large metropolitan regions, but the large cities that anchor those regions do not house a majority of those metropolitans. The greater Philadelphia region, on the East Coast, counts a population of just under 6 million, the city itself only 1.5 million; on the West Coast, the city of Los Angeles is home to nearly 4 million people, but the Los Angeles “metroplex” has grown to nearly 13 million. Hence the paradox: we are a nation clustered around our major cities, we rely on their infrastructure—transportation networks, education and research facilities, cultural institutions—and we remain deeply ambivalent about the city and city-ness itself.

At the same time, despite the flight from the city after the Second World War, despite the proliferation of physical environments shaped primarily by the automobile and private housing, Americans seemed no closer to solving the question of how to live the good life than they had been at the beginning of the century. Indeed, to judge by any number of sociological studies, public opinion surveys, and news reports, they were arguably further from finding that grail than ever before. A country of exiles, bowling alone, inhabiting a geography of nowhere. “At the conclusion of the 20th century,” sociologist Robert Putnam concluded, “ordinary Americans shared [a] sense of civic malaise.” The longing to belong that underscored the twentieth century had not been satisfied, the beloved community that Josiah Royce had anticipated had not yet come to pass.

Into that loneliness and alienation emerged two movements promising to heal what ailed us. One was made up of a loose assemblage of sociologists, philosophers, lawyers, and public policy types who called themselves “communitarians.” They have attempted to formulate an ethos to navigate between an excessive individualism and an overbearing state. The other was a group of planners, designers, and architects who called themselves the “new urbanists.” These new urbanists believe that America’s sterile built environment has contributed mightily to that civic malaise, and that with better planning we can create meaningful communities.

Though each had its own roots, the two movements converged in the 1990s. The communitarians offered a bracing critique of the nation’s social ills, and they argued that a revived “community” would fill its void of values. The new urbanists envisioned landscapes that would facilitate exactly the ethos the communitarians advocated. Space could be reshaped into meaningful places, which in turn would foster the community at the heart of communitarianism. Both groups came to national prominence in the last decade of the twentieth century, both diagnosed the same ailment in American life, and both have been ambivalent about the role of the city in curing the “crisis of community” and have been largely silent on the larger issue of how to invigorate our public sphere. ........................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.salon.com/2014/08/17/lets_make_suburbs_into_cities_new_urbanism_car_culture_and_the_future_of_community/

The Truth Behind Mergers

The Truth Behind Mergers

Sunday, 17 August 2014 00:00
By Joey Gomez, Truthout | News Analysis

Last year Microsoft announced its buyout of Nokia, the Finnish communications and information technology multinational corporation. Now as Microsoft absorbs Nokia, the new CEO of Microsoft has announced the largest layoff - 18,000 employees - in the company's history. After the announcement of the layoffs, the company's stock increased to a point that it hasn't seen since the dot-com boom. Although Microsoft is no stranger to the idea of consuming its competitor, it does beg the question: How will this affect the economy?

Mergers and acquisitions are promoted as having a good economic impact for the general public and consumers. Following the announcement of the layoffs, Microsoft's new CEO has been adamant that the recent absorption of Nokia will allow the company to focus on consumer needs to better benefit them through their products. With the acquisition of Nokia's 30,000-employee workforce, 12,500 will be laid-off. At the same time Microsoft is laying off 5,500 of its own employees.

Historically, it seems most mergers and acquisitions are either achieving a takeover of a company's technology, assets, customers and patents, or purposely invading other competing markets - as was the case with Oracle's takeover of Peoplesoft or the current attempt by Comcast to acquire Time-Warner.

Currently we are seeing the biggest boom in mergers and acquisitions since the recovery, with no sign of slowing. Many would say this is good news as mergers usually occur when the economy is doing better. Yet, the irony is that most, if not all, mergers have led to mass layoffs, while the stock for investors and packages for corporate managers increase. ................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://truth-out.org/news/item/25631-the-truth-behind-mergers

Gen. Smedley Butler, more relevant than ever

"I spent thirty-three years and four months in active military service as a member of this country's most agile military force, the Marine Corps. I served in all commissioned ranks from Second Lieutenant to Major-General. And during that period, I spent most of my time being a high class muscle-man for Big Business, for Wall Street and for the Bankers. In short, I was a racketeer, a gangster for capitalism.

I suspected I was just part of a racket at the time. Now I am sure of it. Like all the members of the military profession, I never had a thought of my own until I left the service. My mental faculties remained in suspended animation while I obeyed the orders of higher-ups. This is typical with everyone in the military service.

I helped make Mexico, especially Tampico, safe for American oil interests in 1914. I helped make Haiti and Cuba a decent place for the National City Bank boys to collect revenues in. I helped in the raping of half a dozen Central American republics for the benefits of Wall Street. The record of racketeering is long. I helped purify Nicaragua for the international banking house of Brown Brothers in 1909-1912. I brought light to the Dominican Republic for American sugar interests in 1916. In China I helped to see to it that Standard Oil went its way unmolested.

During those years, I had, as the boys in the back room would say, a swell racket. Looking back on it, I feel that I could have given Al Capone a few hints. The best he could do was to operate his racket in three districts. I operated on three continents."


Now here's a headline (I hope) you don't see every day.......

Woman Allegedly Poisoned Roommates After They Caught Her Having Sex With Dogs: Cops

Police say a New Mexico woman who was arrested for allegedly poisoning her roommates admitted that she did so because they caught her having sex with their dogs.

Shari Walters, 53, was arrested Wednesday in Albuquerque after her roommates told Bernalillo County Sheriff’s deputies that she'd admitted putting rubbing alcohol and toilet bowl cleaner in their food.

They said that the alleged poisoning occurred two weeks ago, the evening after her female roommate, Beverly Bradley, allegedly discovered Walters "lying nude in a backyard shed with her German shepherd, Spike," according to Raw Story. .............(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/08/15/shari-walters-dog-sex-poisoning_n_5682149.html?utm_hp_ref=crime

Mid-market menus expand sales, and waistlines

(Midmarket Pulse) What do a burger, fries, and milkshake have in common with a company’s balance sheet? According to the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) the winners of the latest Xtreme Eating Awards are all midmarket companies. Among them the Cheesecake Factory holds the dubious honor of serving up the most calorie and saturated fat laden dishes alongside posting sales increases and positive profit margins.

Could the quickest way to a healthy business be through the consumer’s (ever-expanding) stomach? Let’s take a look at the numbers for the “winner.”

Winner of CSPI’s ignominious XXXtreme Eating award because it snagged three of the nine slots on the list, Cheesecake Factory’s gut-busting menu items include its Bruléed French Toast which boasts 2,780 calorie, 93 grams of saturated fat 2,230 milligrams of sodium, and 24 teaspoons of sugar. If you haven’t had a heart attack just reading that, consider the chain’s Farfalle with Chicken and Roasted Garlic smothered in a rich cream sauce that tips the calorie counter to over 2,400. The CSPI believes you’d need to have a leisurely swim for seven hours or jog for five respectively, if you became a member of the clean plate club after ordering one of those meals.

On the business side, Cheesecake Factory is touting 16 consecutive quarters of positive comparable sales -those measured against locations open for at least a year- among its now 180 locations worldwide. The company credits its success in part to its dedication to improve operating margins. The recession hit the restaurant industry hard as cash-strapped consumers preferred to stay in and save their pennies for other expenditures. Cheesecake Factory’s annual report shows that in the five years since, it’s operating margins improved from 5.6 percent in 2008 to about 8.6% in 2013. Its guest satisfaction surveys improved 20 percent during the same period, according to the report. .................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.mid-marketpulse.com/mid-market-restaurants-menus-expand-sales-and-waistlines/#!/

There's crazy, and there's Teabagger crazy ........

(Salon) Defeated Mississippi Senate candidate Chris McDaniel, aka America’s No. 1 source of lingering political entertainment, has submitted his challenge of the June 24 GOP runoff results to the courts. This was his only remaining option, as the Mississippi GOP took one quick look at his complaint and said, uhh, not our problem, and scrammed.

The complaint filed yesterday requests an immediate injunction of Sen. Thad Cochran’s certification as the Republican Party Senate nominee and ballot placement “until such time as this Complaint can be heard and the relief requested herein granted and accomplished.”

And the “relief requested herein,” just as it was in the original complaint filed to the state party earlier this month, is totally hilarious and probably not likely to sway a judge. McDaniel’s team once again is requesting that some counties where McDaniel did badly be voided and McDaniel named the nominee.

McDaniel is probably (hopefully?) aware that this legal challenge is ridiculously weak, and so he’s using it as an opportunity to harden his following for a lucrative tour on the wingnut welfare circuit. And so he invokes the Constitution as grounds for why he actually, uh, won the Republican primary, even though he lost it, having secured fewer votes than his opponent. He essentially argues that open primaries — in Mississippi’s case, there’s no party registration so anyone can vote in any party’s primary — are unconstitutional. Therefore Thad Cochran’s strategy of reaching out to Democratic and African-American voters was a violation of Mississippi Republicans’ constitutional rights. Hoo boy:

The First Amendment protects the freedom to join together in furtherance of common political beliefs, which necessarily presupposes the freedom to identify the people who constitution the association, and to limit the association to those people. The right to association includes the right not to associate. In no area is the political association’s First Amendment right to not associate more important than in the process of selecting its nominee.

The complete piece is at: http://www.salon.com/2014/08/15/mississippi_tea_party_nuts_last_hurrah_make_me_the_nominee_because_of_the_consitution/

Patriots don’t torture: Why excusing it is an American catastrophe

from Salon.com:

Patriots don’t torture: Why excusing it is an American catastrophe
Here's why I'll never have mercy on torturers — no matter what any of our presidents might say


About a week ago, for the first time ever, the U.S. government, through the comments of its chief executive no less, confirmed that “folks were tortured.” Simultaneously, he observed that there ”was little need for sanctimony” given the heightened fears of the American public in the wake of the 9/11 attacks and the enormous pressure that law enforcement officials were under to prevent future attacks.

The president’s official confirmation that “folks” were tortured and not just undergoing “enhanced interrogation techniques” was remarkable. His words were striking not so much because the public learned something new, but because they should have ramifications for those who designed, justified and endorsed torture as part the U.S.’s national security strategy to combat terrorism.

For those who provide the legal cover for torture, including John Yoo and Jay Bybee, there might be some fear that an official U.S. confirmation of torture will have ramifications for them. But they claim not to be afraid of prosecution. Given the soothing, exculpatory tone of the president’s remarks and Attorney General Eric Holder’s lapdoggish compliance, (despite his resolute acknowledgment in 2009 that waterboarding is torture), they have every reason to believe it.

Yet, his remarks are notably deceptive on a number of fronts. The president’s remarks suggest that torture was an accidental practice, one deployed under pressure and randomly, rather than in the way that we understand now, as intentional and systematic. In fact, we have had official confirmation of torture since at least 2004, when pictures revealed the abuses of prisoners in Abu Ghraib. We also know that the plan to engage in torture was not the result of passion and mere patriotism. Rather, it was part of a series of policies that were designed to evade the charge of torture. These plans were carried out systematically by the CIA staff under the instruction and endorsement of high-level Bush administration officials (despite their denials). The CIA had the approval, the endorsement and the “legal” architecture of a policy to conduct intentional, deliberate, systematic torture of enemy combatants. .....................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.salon.com/2014/08/16/patriots_dont_break_laws_why_excusing_torture_is_an_american_catastrophe/

This has always been America: Ferguson and our dangerous delusions on race and democracy

from Salon.com:

This has always been America: Ferguson and our dangerous delusions on race and democracy
We believe we're the world's champion of freedom. In reality, we torture, invade, violate rights, stop and frisk...


Politicians both left and right turn to the troubling doctrine of American exceptionalism to justify unilateral military intervention abroad, but what happens when we turn that dangerous delusion of unbounded moral supremacy against our own citizens on our own soil?

This is what’s happening in Ferguson, Missouri, right now, where it’s clear that the police have made an exception to the modus operandi of rights-based democracy by silencing and arresting journalists, seizing and firing on unarmed and peaceful demonstrators and applying military-grade armaments to do so.

And, lest we forget, they have initiated this armed state of exception to cover up for and suffocate dissent against the gravest rights violation of them all: the police shooting and killing of a fleeing, unarmed black boy, who never received due process for daring to step off the sidewalk.

As the nation and the world watch, horrified, at what’s transpiring in Ferguson, we don’t need to ask whether there’s a racial element in play when an overwhelmingly white police force, strapped to the teeth, is exercising extreme state authority to corral and suppress the reactions of a black community mourning the inexcusable loss of one of their children. But how is it possible for this to happen in a nation that proclaims itself the world’s greatest champion of freedom and democracy? The answer, in part, is the logic of exceptionalism. ....................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.salon.com/2014/08/16/this_has_always_been_america_ferguson_and_our_dangerous_delusions_on_race_and_democracy/

Laura Flanders: How America's Largest Worker Owned Co-Op Lifts People Out of Poverty

from YES! Magazine:

How America's Largest Worker Owned Co-Op Lifts People Out of Poverty
Cooperative Home Care Associates has 2,300 workers who enjoy good wages, regular hours, and family health insurance. With an investment of $1.2 million into the cooperative sector, New York City is hoping to build on the group's success.

by Laura Flanders
posted Aug 14, 2014

Before Zaida Ramos joined Cooperative Home Care Associates, she was raising her daughter on public assistance, shuttling between dead-end office jobs, and not making ends meet. “I earned in a week what my family spent in a day,” she recalled.

After 17 years as a home health aide at Cooperative Home Care Associates (CHCA), the largest worker-owned co-op in the United States, Ramos recently celebrated her daughter’s college graduation. She’s paying half of her son’s tuition at a Catholic school, and she’s a worker-owner in a business where she enjoys flexible hours, steady earnings, health and dental insurance, plus an annual share in the profits. She’s not rich, she says, “but I’m financially independent. I belong to a union, and I have a chance to make a difference.”

Can worker-owned businesses lift families out of poverty? “They did mine,” Ramos said. Should other low-income New Yorkers get involved in co-ops? She says, “Go for it.”

New York City is going—in a big way—for worker-owned cooperatives. Inspired by the model of CHCA and prodded by a new network of co-op members and enthusiasts, Mayor Bill de Blasio and the New York City Council allocated $1.2 million to support worker cooperatives in 2015’s budget. According to the Democracy at Work Institute, New York’s investment in co-ops is the largest by any U.S. city government to date. ...................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.yesmagazine.org/issues/the-end-of-poverty/how-america-s-largest-worker-owned-co-op-lifts-people-out-of-poverty

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