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Bill Maher – Democrat State Economies vs Republican States

This is truly funny…And true.  Republican controlled states  which have implemented the tax cut, destroy public services mantra are in free fall economically. The two most prominent examples of which are Kansas and Louisiana. Even in those states which have good economies such as North Carolina, Republicans rip the wheels off, passing one stupid law after another like the anti-LGBT laws which still may cost North Carolina billions more.

 

 

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Rio Olympics Near Cancellation

There is a rapidly increasing chance that this years Summer Olympics in Rio will be cancelled.  The banning of the Russian Track and Field Team for doping is a side issue, and were that the only problem the Olympics would go on quite happily. The massive pollution, disease, crime, and bacterial infection issues are quite another story,

Sponsoring the Olympics was supposed to force the city to clean up the polluted waterways. Waterways filled with raw sewage, hospital waste, and trash. That, quite simply hasn’t happened.

‘Super Bacteria’ Found At Brazil Olympic Venues, Beaches

The diseases can cause infections, meningitis and lead to death.

Scientists have found dangerous drug-resistant “super bacteria” off beaches in Rio de Janeiro that will host Olympic swimming events and in a lagoon where rowing and canoe athletes will compete when the Games start on Aug. 5.

The findings from two unpublished academic studies seen by Reuters concern Rio’s most popular spots for tourists and greatly increase the areas known to be infected by the microbes normally found only in hospitals.

They also heighten concerns that Rio’s sewage-infested waterways are unsafe.

A study published in late 2014 had shown the presence of the super bacteria – classified by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as an urgent public health threat – off one of the beaches in Guanabara Bay, where sailing and wind-surfing events will be held during the Games.

The first of the two new studies, reviewed in September by scientists at the Interscience Conference on Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy in San Diego, showed the presence of the microbes at five of Rio’s showcase beaches, including the ocean-front Copacabana, where open-water and triathlon swimming will take place.

The other four were Ipanema, Leblon, Botafogo and Flamengo.

The super bacteria can cause hard-to-treat urinary, gastrointestinal, pulmonary and bloodstream infections, along with meningitis. The CDC says studies show that these bacteria contribute to death in up to half of patients infected.

The second new study, by the Brazilian federal government’s Oswaldo Cruz Foundation lab, which will be published next month by the American Society for Microbiology, found the genes of super bacteria in the Rodrigo de Freitas lagoon in the heart of Rio and in a river that empties into Guanabara Bay.

Waste from countless hospitals, in addition to hundreds of thousands of households, pours into storm drains, rivers and streams crisscrossing Rio, allowing the super bacteria to spread outside the city’s hospitals in recent years.

Renata Picao, a professor at Rio’s federal university and lead researcher of the first study, said the contamination of Rio’s famous beaches was the result of a lack of basic sanitation in the metropolitan area of 12 million people.

“These bacteria should not be present in these waters. They should not be present in the sea,” said Picao from her lab in northern Rio, itself enveloped by stench from Guanabara Bay.

Cleaning the city’s waterways was meant to be one of the Games’ greatest legacies and a high-profile promise in the official 2009 bid document Rio used to win the right to host South America’s first Olympics.

That goal has instead transformed into an embarrassing failure, with athletes lamenting the stench of sewage and complaining about debris that bangs into and clings to boats in Guanabara Bay, potential hazards for a fair competition.

Cancel the Olympics

The potential threat Zika virus poses is just too great to take the risk.

…If you ask me, I say cancel the Olympics. Here are five reasons why:

1. The numbers don’t lie. The World Health Organization’s Emergency Committee on Zika convened June 14 to consider new data and review previous recommendations, including those regarding the Rio Olympics. By August 5, more than 10,500 athletes, coaches and trainers will have descended on Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. In addition, more than 500,000 foreign spectators are expected to fly into the city. In doing so, they will be exposing themselves to the Zika-carrying mosquitos before returning to their home country. If you were a bioterrorist trying to expose as many of the world’s population as possible, I doubt you could come up with a better plan than this.

In a paper to be published shortly, the probable number of Zika cases during the Olympics was calculated using dengue transmission during the 2008 outbreak as a model. It found that, on the low end, there would be 1.8 cases per one million tourists, and on the high end, 3.2 cases per 100,000 tourists.

2. Brazil is not equipped to handle this crisis. The concern is not that tourists will fall ill while they’re at the games – though everyone seems to agree that pregnant women, at least, should stay away. The fear is that travelers will bring the virus home, either in their bodies or in the bodies of mosquito stowaways, and it will spread further. And there can be little doubt that holding the Olympics in Brazil as scheduled will greatly accelerate the spread of Zika.

Brazil is already having historic turbulence in their governance, economy and society. This is one developing country that is ill prepared to solve this problem, let alone do it in less than two months. While some have suggested concerns about Zika spreading are overwrought, let’s consider Brazil’s history with this virus. Nuno Faria of Oxford University suggested that a single individual carried Zika to Brazil in late 2013. By early 2016, as many as 1.5 million Brazilians are estimated to have been infected.

3. The WHO may have a conflict of interest here. Concerns have been raised about the WHO’s impartiality in this dialogue. It has been previously reported that the WHO entered into an official partnership with the International Olympic Committee, in a memorandum of understanding that remains secret to this day. There is no good reason for the WHO not to disclose this memorandum of understanding. It is standard scientific practice for potential conflicts of interest to be revealed – look at any scientific publication.

4. Clearly Brazil has a conflict of interest as well. Brazil has an obvious political and financial interest that the Rio Olympics going ahead as scheduled. It is doubtful that if the games would ever return to Brazil in the future if they don’t go on as scheduled. But changing the venue or postponing the games isn’t practical either. It has taken years for Brazil, like any other host, to gear up for these Olympics. If they don’t start as planned, they won’t proceed at all this year.

5. The stakes are just too high to risk it. There is no longer any doubt that Zika causes infants to be born with abnormally small heads and damaged brains. But there are still many key questions left to be answered. What is the degree of risk Zika infections might pose to pregnant women? That is, after an infection, how often will a fetus develop birth defects? Current studies suggest that somewhere between 1 percent and 29 percent of babies born to infected mothers have microcephaly. That is a pretty wide range. Researchers would also like to know when a developing infant is most vulnerable to the virus, and whether Zika may cause a spectrum of related problems, ranging from stillbirth and miscarriages on the severe end to learning disabilities on the milder end. They just don’t know at this time.

Bottom line – there is much we don’t know about the Zika risk. While expects can legitimately argue about the magnitude of the risk, nobody denies risk exists. David Hackworth once said, “It is human nature to start taking things for granted when danger isn’t banging loudly on the door.” The risk is potentially catastrophic – the Rio Olympics should be cancelled now.

 
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Posted by on June 18, 2016 in News, You Know It's Bad When...

 

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Calling Out Stolen Valor

Good friend on mine in my early 20’s was a guy who was a Captain in some branch of the Military Police. He was usually in plain clothes when I saw him, and wouldn’t talk about what he actually did, but carried a real Government ID as verified by Military Guards on entry onto one of the local bases for lunch  at the Officer’s Club at one of the local bases. We were hitting the local clubs one night in a busy part of downtown trying to hit on the local “wildlife”, when he spotted a guy in Military Uniform walking down the street. I have never been in the Military, but knew enough about insignia’s to tell that the guy in question was part of the Old Guard, a spit and polish group who represent the Military at funerals and other honors at Arlington Cemetery. My friend shows his ID, calls the guy to attention, and proceeded to rip him a new one on the status of his uniform.

To an outsider it looks like BS, and my friends explanation of his actions really didn’t click in my mind until about year later when I did some work as a contractor at Fort Meyer, where the soldiers of the Old Guard are stationed, and a Cameron Station, a now defunct base nearby. The Old Guard represents the highest level of respect for the Military, and “spit and polish” in terms of presentation. On base, or off base, as long as they are in uniform – it has to be right.

This video hat popped up on YouTube brought me back to that. This young boy, running around in a uniform 3 sizes too large, missing most of the patches and other details trying to fool folks into believing he is a Major…

There is a YouTube channel devoted expressly to exposure of the folks who feel the need to impersonate members of the Military, and even to claim they have “won” various medals for Valor or Service. It is amazing.

 

 
 

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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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DC Metro System Shut Down

How bad is DC’s Metro?

They are shutting down for 24 hrs, over a workday…to “inspect the system”.

That leaves approximately 800,000 daily workday passengers SOL.

I don’t even want to think about what the impact of putting 500,000 more cars on the road tomorrow (3/16/16) will be. The impact to traffic will be worse than the blizzard dumping 3 ft of snow on the area just two short months ago. Since 53% of the riders on Metro are government workers, it may well wind up that there is a Federal Government shutdown as well.

Photo taken inside a DC Metro car during the incident at L’Enfant Station when an electrical feed to the train shorted out

The system has been plagued with numerous problems, both self inflicted, and by the fact that much of the infrastructure is 30-40 years old. Due to the self-inflicted problems the company is not able to keep pace with the repair work necessary to renovate the system. In particular, the electrical system is ancient on the older lines is beyond it’s projected lifecycle causing about a half dozen major incidents in the last year, with a passenger fatality on a stuck train due to smoke inhalation. Just Monday this week, another electrical failure stopped traffic on the system’s busiest tunnel system, shared by 3 lines. One of the lines is still not fully operational.

BTx3 is working from home tomorrow.

This is the section of tunnel which arced and caught fire last year resulting in a passenger fatality, just outside the L’Enfant Metro Station.

Sources: Metrorail Will Shut Down All Day Wednesday for Emergency Investigation of Equipment

The entire D.C. Metro system will shut down for 24 hours starting at midnight and lasting for the entire day Wednesday for an emergency investigation, two sources tell News4.

Metro officials are expected to announce at 4 p.m. Tuesday that they need to inspect as many as 1,200 pieces of equipment, as News4’s Tom Sherwood was first to report.

A cable fire early Monday caused delays on the Blue, Orange and Silver lines throughout the day.

This is an abandoned trolley tunnel under DC, built back in the 1949

This is a current Metro tunnel on the Red Line – the oldest operating line.

 
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Posted by on March 15, 2016 in You Know It's Bad When...

 

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Instant Karma for Tailgater

The most aggravating drivers are those that tailgate in a situation where there is no possibility of going faster. Right lane full of slower cars – left lane full of cars passing, and despite 15 cars in front of you –  you have a clown behind you riding your bumper. Had something similar happen some years ago when a clown in a big old Dodge Ram pickup truck decided to tailgate me on a 4 lane rural highway. Guy in front of me was in a pickup carrying a washer and dryer, which he had not secured properly and flew out in the middle of the road. Had just enough time to avoid the hurling appliances because there was a long left turn lane I could dodge into and go around.The “Guts and Glory” moron behind me couldn’t see what was going on because he was so close to my SUV’s rear bumper. That big, supposedly intimidating grill wound up eating the washer…and dryer.

Sometimes…There is justice.

 
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Posted by on March 13, 2016 in You Know It's Bad When...

 

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Florida Judge Picks Fist Fight With Public Defender

Long arm of the law, and the short left hook of justice…

Round 2 –

 
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Posted by on December 18, 2015 in You Know It's Bad When...

 

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