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Monthly Archives: March 2016

DC Metro May Shut Down Major Lines for 6 Months

The nation’s second busiest subway system may have to shut down service for 6 months in what could be a catastrophic outage for a system which carries 800,000 passengers a day. Once the nation’s crown jewel system, the problems that have brought Metro’ Subway System low are an accumulation of problems over years. About half of the blame rests with how the system is funded, the other half is based on gross incompetence at the middle and senior management level of the Authority.

Metro or the Washington Metropolitan Transit Authority is an odd duck in terms of organization due to the fact that a significant portion of it’s budget comes from the Government. Which means Congressional oversight and piddling in the affairs of the company. The Company’s ownership is spread across the 7 jurisdictions it serves in the Washington Metropolitan area, including the Federal Government. The Federal Government is a player here because 53% of the passengers on the system are Federal Employees. As everything from fares to which communities are served is regulated, the company is designed never to make a profit (or even break even), and each served municipality pays a proportional part of the actual operating budget each year.

In function, the Transit Agency works like a Federal Government entity – meaning there is no motivation of the employees to either improve service, to make systems operate more efficiently, or to cut costs…Ergo the old $10,000 Toilet Seat issue. Massive cost overruns are the norm. Massive project failures are the norm. The recent Silver Line expansion ballooned from $1 billion to $3 billion, in large part due to project being managed by the corrupt Metropolitan Washington Airport Authority – a situation created because of lack of faith that Metro could manage such a large project. I mean when the Federal Government is going o take over your local transit authority – not only are things truly f’d up… But they are going to get a lot worse.

While, like any big dollar enterprise, there are incidents of corruption – even to the highest levels of the management structure, there is no evidence of any major corruption issue, or that corruption is the reason behind the Authority’s failure. It really boils down to incompetence within almost the entire senior management structure at the company’s headquarters. As such, confusion, lack of vision, lack of will, turf fights, nepotism, and duplicate organizational functions are the order of the day. And to clarify a point, very little of “the problem” has to do with the rank and file customer facing employees who in general believe in the mission of serving the community and often will go above board to make things right.

Accepting Federal money means the involvement of Congress. It also means Federal Agency Oversight, which in typical form tries to solve problems at the weed level instead of systemic. It means getting whipsawed by political trade winds in Congress, being victim to corruption at the Congressional Level, and dealing with Congressional fingers in the pie at any time. Ergo the Republicans want the system to operate without tax dollars or a fare hike (It’s the same magic which destroyed some of their own states), and the Democrats want the system to operate as a social good vehicle.

A major shutdown of the system could entail putting 500,000 cars onto the Washington area’s already gridlocked streets. It will cost the Federal Government and private businesses Billions of dollars in lost work and revenue. As a Management Consultant who has done rescues, turnarounds and restructurings of companies, and a former employee of Metro, I have a pretty good idea about what needs to be done…And it isn’t initially going to be pretty.

Lengthy Shutdowns in Washington, D.C., Metro System Are Possible

Repairs to Washington’s aging subway could require the closure of entire rail lines for months at a time, the system’s chairman, Jack Evans, said Wednesday. At the very least, Mr. Evans said, riders should expect the closure of segments of individual lines for extended periods.

His remarks were the latest indication that the system, known as Metro, will be facing significant service disruptions as its management confronts financial and safety problems.

“If we are going to fix the infrastructure, we can’t do it three hours at night,” Mr. Evans, who is also a member of the D.C. Council, said at a symposium marking Metro’s 40th anniversary.

“There may be decisions where we have to close down whole lines and repair them, which are going to be very unpopular,” Mr. Evans added. “But the only way that we are going to get this system fixed is to make unpopular decisions.”

Metro officials already closed the system for a day earlier this month for an emergency safety inspection.

Mr. Evans called the system “maybe safe, somewhat unreliable, and being complained about by everybody,” and said that its health long-term requires increased — and a permanent — source of financing, like a regional sales tax and annual federal contributions.

Paul J. Wiedefeld, Metro’s general manager, will announce a systemwide maintenance plan in four to six weeks, a Metro spokesman, Dan Stessel, said Wednesday.

Mr. Wiedefeld, in his own remarks at the Wednesday meeting, said the scale of the transit agency’s woes required drastic measures.

“What we have been doing has not been working,” he said. “We cannot Band-Aid, we cannot paper over some of these issues.”

Both men’s remarks were first reported by The Washington Post.

 

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Painting Injustice in Louisiana

This one starts with the case of Mac Phipps, jailed in a state, Louisiana,  that incarcerates more of it’s citizens than any country in the world since Pol Pot’s Cambodia.

Her Son Is In Prison, And She Paints The Faces Of A Broken Justice System

The brushstrokes in Sheila Phipps‘ paintings tell the story of a broken criminal justice system in Louisiana — a state notorious for having the highest incarceration rate in the world.

It’s a mission that Phipps, a visual artist who’s been painting since the 1980s, took up after her son, McKinley “Mac” Phipps, a former No Limit hip-hop artist, wassentenced to 30 years in prison for a 2000 nightclub shooting.

“My son was wrongfully convicted in 2001 and is now serving time for a crime he didn’t commit,” Sheila Phipps said.

The visual artist said that in the beginning she could barely face the pain of her son spending such a large portion of his life behind bars. To cope, she went to her art room, took a brush in hand, and in a series of meticulous strokes captured the element missing from her life — her son — on canvas.

“I was frustrated, and it helped me deal with the stress of everything,” Phipps told The Huffington Post.

When Phipps finished the painting of her son, she initially viewed it as a personal accomplishment. After all, it was intended to be therapeutic — a brief escape from the harsh reality of the situation. However, an emptiness remained. It prompted her to capture not only her son’s story but also those of other inmates in Louisiana who are in similar situations.

“I knew my son was not the only one who was a victim of the criminal justice system,” she said. “So I started to research other cases where individuals were convicted with questionable evidence or received excessive sentences.”

Phipps said her son ultimately became the inspiration behind her series of portraits of incarcerated men. Although she never intended her personal expression for public view, she gradually began showing her paintings as they emerged, gathering them in a series titled “Injustice Xhibition.”

The exhibit features seven incarcerated men: McKinley “Mac” Phipps Jr., Warren Scott III, Jerome “Skee” Smith, Earl Truvia, Stanley Stirgus, Rogers LaCaze Sr., and Jamil Joyner. …Read More Here

 
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Posted by on March 31, 2016 in BlackLivesMatter

 

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Jamar Clark Killers …No Charges

Forensic evidence backs the Officer’s story

Minneapolis Officers in Jamar Clark Shooting Will Not Face Charges

Two Minneapolis police officers will not face state criminal charges in the fatal shooting of Jamar Clark, an unarmed black man, the prosecutor in Hennepin County said Wednesday. The announcement upset activists who had called for the officers to be prosecuted, and provided new details about the events leading up to the shooting.

Mr. Clark’s death prompted weeks of heated, sometimes tense demonstrations, and raised broad questions about racial disparities in Minnesota. Protests started almost immediately after Mr. Clark, 24, was shot on Nov. 15 as officers responded to a report of an assault.

The police said at the time that Mr. Clark was a suspect in the assault and that he had tried to interfere with paramedics treating the woman who was hurt. Some neighbors who say they witnessed the incident claim Mr. Clark was handcuffed when he was shot, contradicting the police account.

In announcing his decision, Mike Freeman, the Hennepin County attorney, said that witnesses had given conflicting accounts about the handcuffs. The evidence, he said, suggested that Mr. Clark had tried to gain control over one officer’s gun and that he had not been handcuffed when shot.

“Forensic evidence and video evidence both support the belief that Clark was not handcuffed at any time through the altercation,” said Mr. Freeman, whose office posted a trove of investigative documents online….

After the shooting in November, which was investigated by the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, activists occupied an area outside a police precinct for more than two weeks, sometimes clashing with officers. On one night, a group of outsiders came to the precinct, police said, andshot five people during a protest.

 
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Posted by on March 30, 2016 in BlackLivesMatter

 

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How SC Judges Could Force a Vote to Confirm

The Supreme Court requires a minimum of 6 Justices in attendance for the Court to legally hear cases. Perhaps it is time for a boycott by the Justices themselves.The result of not reaching a Quorum isn’t dismissal of the case, the case is moved onto the docket of next year’s cases to be heard. The reason this has not been used before is that it sets a dangerous precedent if used solely to delay the hearing of cases.

28 U.S.C. 1 provides:

The Supreme Court of the United States shall consist of a Chief Justice of the United States and eight associate justices, any six of whom shall constitute a quorum.

However – if the Court cannot meet…

 
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Posted by on March 30, 2016 in American Greed, Domestic terrorism, General

 

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Teen Sexually Assaulted, Pepper Sprayed at Trump Event

The violence at Trump events is escalating…In this case a 15 Year Old girl is molested and attacked by “brave” Trump supporters.

Hopefully the police will arrest these scumbags, and the girl will sue them for millions.

Cops: Teen Sexually Assaulted, Pepper Sprayed, Called ‘N**ger Lover’ at Trump Rally

Police in Paul Ryan’s Wisconsin hometown say they are searching for two suspects who they say attacked a protester.

Janesville, Wisconsin, police say a teenage girl was sexually assaulted and pepper-sprayed outside a Donald Trump campaign event Tuesday. “A 15 year [old] girl from Janesville was peppered-sprayed in the crowd by a non-law enforcement person,” police said in astatement. “A male in the [crowd] groped the 15 year [old] girl when she pushed him away; another person in the [crowd] sprayed her. We are currently looking for two suspects, one for the sexual assault and one for the pepper-spray.”

In one video, the girl can be heard yelling at a middle-age man with gray hair after she said he touched her chest.

In another video via ABC News, a Trump supporter can be heard yelling, “You goddamn communist nigger-lover, get the hell out of here!”

The apparent assault came hours after Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski was charged with battery against former Breitbart reporter Michelle Fields after grabbing her at a Jupiter, Florida, event on March 8.

But in recent months, violence has become common practice at rallies for the real-estate mogul. In January, he told his supporters to “knock the crap out of [protesters].” He added, “I will pay for the legal fees. I promise.”

 
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Posted by on March 30, 2016 in Domestic terrorism, The Clown Bus

 

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Really Bad Idea From Gun Nuts

Some years ago, I had a friend who was a gunsmith. He loved to tinker and try modifications to weapons. He came up with a machine pistol, capable of firing 1300 rounds per minute. The difference between his new gun and everything else on the market at that time, was a unique compensation system he invented, which vastly reduced recoil – meaning the gun on full auto didn’t pull off target as it was fired. He thought the Military would jump all over it, so he made two copies and tried to sell it to them. There were several other potential customers in Federal Law Enforcement he demonstrated the weapon to. The post-Vietnam Military wasn’t interested in small, handheld weapons. The Law Enforcement agencies went nuts, even though the weapon could never be sold legally to the public – and had it banned from production in the US and banned for export. The rationale was that if a bad guy ever got hold of one of them, because of it’s small size and conceal ability, rate of fire, and accuracy he would be virtually unstoppable. The two prototypes were destroyed.

I think this gun should be banned. First, from a Law Enforcement standpoint a Cop will never know whether that Cell Phone a suspect  has is really a Cell Phone – resulting in numerous killings of innocent people. Next, something like this provides the conceal-ability which would allow a John Hinckley character, who shot President Reagan to get close enough undetected to assassinate a political figure. Hinckley used a .32 Caliber which is significantly smaller. The inventor is lying in the below article about the effectiveness of the .380 round. It is, in terms of destructive power, only a step or two below that of a 9 mm. Generally it is used in small, semiautomatic handguns, which don’t have the accuracy or range of bigger guns due to the barrel length.

I’ve seen some pretty crazy stuff out there, including laptops which convert into sub-machine guns. But those types of systems are no available to the general public, and require stringent licensing.

This is absolutely STUPID nuts.

A New Gun Folds Up To Look Just Like A Smartphone

Its creator wanted a more discreet firearm to carry around.

This is not a smartphone. This is a gun.

It’s the Ideal Conceal, a .380-caliber pistol that folds up into a box shape. The creator designed the firearm to look like a phone so people could carry it around in public without attracting attention.

Here’s what it looks like when it’s ready for action:

Note – there appears to be capability to mount an internal laser sight on the front.

Ideal Conceal’s website explains the logic behind the $395 gun: “Smartphones are EVERYWHERE, so your new pistol will easily blend in with today’s environment. In its locked position it will be virtually undetectable because it hides in plain sight.”

The website also advises folks to check local concealed carry laws before purchasing the firearm.

Kirk Kjellberg, CEO of Minnesota-based company Ideal Conceal, told a local news outlet that he came up with the concept for the pistol after a boy in a restaurant noticed he was carrying a concealed gun. Kjellberg has a concealed carry permit and a firearm license, he told The Huffington Post, but he added that it’s still “pretty embarrassing when people stare at you.”

“A little child, a boy about 7, saw me, and said, ‘Mommy, Mommy, that guy’s got a gun!’ And the whole restaurant of course turns and stares at you. And I thought, there’s just got be something better,” said Kjellberg, per NBC affiliate KARE in Minneapolis.

Critics of the gun have pointed out that it could pose a security risk in public places like airports, according to KARE. But Kjellberg insists the gun is meant for people concerned about their own personal safety.

“We don’t want anything sinister to go on with it,” Kjellberg told KARE. “It’s just made for mainstream America, not criminal enterprise.”

He told HuffPost that the gun, which holds two rounds, isn’t very powerful. “If you’re going to try to hurt somebody, it will probably take more firepower,” Kjellberg said. 

There were 13,286 gun deaths in U.S. in 2015. Between 2007 and 2013, people carrying concealed weapons were responsible for nearly 500 civilian deaths, according to the Violence Policy Institute.

In recent years, police have shot and killed several people carrying items mistaken for guns. In January, police in Las Vegas shot and killed an unarmed man carrying a cell phone that looked to police like a firearm.

 
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Posted by on March 30, 2016 in American Greed, Domestic terrorism

 

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How Off the Charts is Real Estate in San Francisco?

Here is the story of a guy paying $400 a month to live in an 8′ x 3′ box…And you gotta wonder why they have a homeless problem.

San Francisco Newcomer Pays $400 Rent To Live In A Box In Friend’s Apartment

Amid the Bay Area’s red-hot real estate market, a newcomer to San Francisco is living in a small wooden box at his friend’s home.

Illustrator Peter Berkowitz recently moved into the box, which he described as a “pod.” The box is tucked away in a corner of the living room at his friend’s apartment, located a few blocks from the ocean.

On his blog, Berkowitz said the pod is the “coziest bedroom” he has ever had. Along with a bed, the box has a fold down desk, a cushioned backboard and LED lights for reading.

The pod, which measures 8 feet long, 3.5 feet wide and 4 feet tall, cost $1,300 to build.

Berkowitz also has access to the rest of his friend’s apartment.

“I built it largely myself, with the help of some friends who kind of knew what they were doing,” Berkowitz said in an interview on Live 105’s “Kevin Klein Live” Tuesday morning.

Berkowitz said he is paying $400 a month in rent, far lower than the $3,000 average rent for a one-bedroom San Francisco apartment.

“Yes, living in a pod is silly.  But the silliness is endemic to San Francisco’s absurdly high housing prices – the pod is just a solution that works for me,” Berkowitz said on his blog.

High real estate prices and rents have led to some creative ways to lower living costs. Last year, an employee at Google lived rent-free in a truck parked at the company’s headquarters in Mountain View. The employee slept in the truck, while he ate at the company cafeteria and showered at the company gym.

 
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Posted by on March 30, 2016 in American Greed

 

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