Cynical Synapse

Sun, 28 Nov 2010

Rick Snyder on High Speed Rail: Crickets

Filed under: Government, Hypocrits, Life, Michigan, Passenger rail, Politics, Railroads, Stimulus, Take action, Travel — cynicalsynapse @ 2:23 pm

Midwest High Speed Rail Initiative

Michigan is sucking eggs in the quest for Federal dollars to develop high speed rail. Grants this year total only $200 million out of a request for $993 million. And none of that money is actually being used for high speed rail. From the Stimulus bill, Michigan got $40 million for new stations in Troy and Dearborn plus renovations to the Battle Creek station. The October grant—which requires Michigan to match $30 million&mash;covers purchasing Norfolk Southern’s track from Dearborn to Kalamazoo and upgrading it to 79 mph. It also includes reconstructing connecting track in West Detroit. None of this is the 110 mph or faster promised by high speed rail.

Amtrak owns the line between Kalamazoo and the state line near New Bufalo. In partnership with Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) and the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA), Amtrak’s Michigan line has been upgraded to 95 mph speeds along some segments. That’s almost high speed and plans call for raising the segment to 110 mph. Why Michigan didn’t get any Stimulus money for this is beyond me. Where are Sens. Carl “Leave ’em” Levin (D) and Debbie “Stab me now” Stabinow on this? How about US Reps. Fred Upton (R-06) and Mark Schauer (D-07)?

Amtrak 452 F59PHI

A recent poll of over 24,000 by the American Public Transportation Association (APTA) found 62% would ride high speed rail if it was available and competetive in time and price with flying or driving. I’ll bet the number would go up if it meant avoiding full body scanners and/or “enhanced” pat downs. Amtrak wants to cut time from Detroit to Chicago from 5-1/2 to 3-1/2 hours. I’d call that competive with driving. Round trip on Amtrak costs $62-84 depending on times. Airfare starts at $190, so travel by rail is more cost effective than flying. The problem is 5-1/2 hours takes too long while 3-1/2 hours makes skipping the security lines at the airport worth it.

Amtrak on its Michigan Division at Durand

Republicans John Kasich and Scott Walker, Govs.-elect in Ohio and Wisconsin, are hostile to high speed rail. In fact, Mr. Kasich wants to give up a $400 million grant for new passenger service from Cleveland to Columbus to Cincinatti, the 3C line. Despite popularity for a new Milwauke to Madison line, Walker wants to forego $810 million in high speed rail grants. Both expected to be able to repurpose the money for roads. Says US Department of Transportation (DOT) Secretary Ray LaHood: Not!

Like pirhana swarming to fresh blood in the water, a dozen states are asking for the $1.2 billion to be rejected by Ohio and Wisconsin. LaHood said there are “a lot of states that would like to have access to that money.”

What’s the word out of Michigan? Nothing. From Gov.-elect Rick Synder? Crickets. Good start on your 10-point plan, Gov. Nerd. Michigan needs the jobs and the infrastructure. Tell the “tough nerd” to take his hat off and belly up to the table with his empty plate and get Michigan’s fair share.

Previously on high speed rail:

Fri, 26 Nov 2010

Each North Korean Leader Gets Nuttier than the Last

Kim Jong-un with his generals

North Korea’s heir apparent hasn’t risen to power yet, but some believe Kim Jung-un behind recent North Korean saber rattling. If so, Jung-un is an even looser cannon than Kim Jong-il, his father. In any case, Pyongyang is not lieing very well. Per usual, they’re blaming South Korea and the US.

Pyongyang is certainly ratcheting up the tensions in the region. The North fired artillery at South Korea’s Yeonpyeong Island twice in the last week. The first attack killed two South Korean Marines and two civilians. These events follow, by less than a week, North Korea’s unveiling of gas centrifuges at Yongbyon, their nuclear research facilities. Sanctions are obviously not working.

North Korean centrifuge plant

We know the centrifuge plant exists because Dr. Siegfried Hecker of Stanford University, and two other US scientists, were invited by the North Koreans to see it. According to Heckler, the North Koreans have installed 2,000 centrifuges. They are thumbing their noses at the West and proving they have enrichment capability.

After these latest provocations, a series that began with the North Korean sinking of ROKS Cheonan, killing 46 sailors aboard the South Korean Navy ship. In response to the shellings, the US and South Korea have scheduled military maneuvers. The US dispatched the carrier USS George Washingtion and other warships. In response, North Korea says the region is on the brink of war.

Kim Jong-il doll

Unfortunately, the US lacks a clear North Korean strategy, tending to rely on China to apply pressure on the fruitcake regime. In all likelihood, however, North Korea’s actions have Chinese approval. If not, China would slap it upside the head because of the dangers Pyongyang’s rogue actions represent to the region.

Before the Iraq War, I was more concerned about Kim Jong-il than I ever was about Saddam Hussein. And I still am. Now, with proven nuclear capability, Pyongyang must be shut down. China’s not going to stop North Korea. Sending the carrier task force to the South China Sea is a good starting show of force. The US should build up forces in South Korea and President Obama should call for development of war plans in the event North Korea attacks again.

North Korean missiles

Some have advocated placing tactical nuclear weapons in South Korea. While I admit this is appealing, there are more reasons not to deploy nuclear weapons on the Korean penninsula. In any case, the carrier group provides a nuclear-capable response in the region.

As much as anyone may want to avoid the hard choice, it has become apparent North Korea’s nuclear program must be destroyed. That requires military action. Diplomacy has served only to delay the inevitable and allow North Korea to continue development. They have proven they will not adhere to any agreements. And they gave the green light to military strikes when North Korea abrogated the armistice. Reap what you sow, Kim.

Previously on North Korea:

Thu, 25 Nov 2010

Gratitude and Gettysburg

Filed under: Behavior, Global War on Terror, History, holidays, Life, Military, Terrorism — cynicalsynapse @ 9:45 am

From Love, Life & Truth:

Thanksgiving. We all know it’s about more than turkey, football and kick-starting the holiday shopping season. As I mentioned last year, it’s about coming together with a spirit of gratitude – in good times or bad – in plenty or pain – in peace or war. Yep – even in times of war.

In fact, the first official Thanksgiving was celebrated in the midst of The American Civil War – only months after the pivotal Battle of Gettysburg, where more than 50,000 troops were lost or wounded in a three-day campaign.

Give Thanks – for War?

Lincoln Memorial

The link between Thanksgiving and war was established by President Abraham Lincoln, who, in October of 1863, issued a proclamation to “invite my fellow citizens…to observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens.”

Then – only a week before that first Thanksgiving – Lincoln delivered the most famous speech in U.S. political history, during dedication ceremonies for the Soldiers National Cemetery at Gettysburg. His Gettysburg Address not only honored the fallen, but reframed the war, declaring:

…this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom – and that the government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

And so the Civil War became recognized as a struggle for freedom from the oppression of slavery.

Gettysburg, Revisited

Earlier this year, I was honored to join fellow Guardsmen in walking the grounds of Gettysburg. It’s an unforgettable experience – not just for soldiers like me. The place instantly surrounds you with its solemn, historical gravity.

Not surprisingly, as Thanksgiving approaches, my mind is traveling back to that hallowed battlefield – as I consider the reasons why Lincoln intentionally connected the dots between war and gratitude. To say it seems counterintuitive is an understatement. Indeed, that juxtaposition of war and gratitude reflects the irony of human existence perhaps better than any poem or proverb.

Lincoln’s Legacy

The loss of life at Gettysburg was massive – but the war didn’t end there. The longer the conflict dragged on, the bloodier it grew, and the more tormented Lincoln became about mounting casualties. Two more years would pass before the Union defeated the Confederate Army. When the South’s slaves were freed, they celebrated with great thanksgiving. Unfortunately, President Lincoln never saw it, but eventually, our nation began to heal.

For most of my 53 years on the planet, our country has celebrated Thanksgiving in relative peace. But sadly, this isn’t one of those years. Today, we find ourselves at war with extremists in Afghanistan – in the most protracted conflict in U.S. history. We long for peace, just as Lincoln did. But peace is not at hand.

Even so, we’ll gather together this week to remember our blessings as citizens of the most prosperous country the world has ever known. In the face of uncertainty, we’ll give thanks for family, home and freedom – freedom to worship, to speak our minds, to dream big, and to pursue those dreams.

A Thanksgiving Prayer for Others

I hope that soon, we’ll see Afghanistan celebrate a new level of freedom and gratitude, as we help loosen the oppressive grip that terrorists have imposed on that region. Until then, we should continue fighting for this cause – just as Lincoln asked of us during the Civil War.

It may not be easy. It may not be quick. But it’s the right thing to do. And as long as we’re doing the right thing, we should feel blessed.

Our nation has faced similar challenges in the past. We’re likely to face them again in the future. After all, if history has taught us anything, it’s that there’s always a “bad guy” – always a bully aiming to exploit the world’s weakest, most vulnerable people. The enemy changes, but the cause of freedom does not. And wherever people live in fear of dreaded enemies, U.S. armed forces continue to be a beacon of liberty and hope.

Therefore, in the spirit of Thanksgiving, I thank all those Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines who serve the cause of freedom. And I thank the citizens who support them. May the work we do to “win the peace” bring favor to a grateful nation.

With prayers for a peaceful future.
Happy Thanksgiving!

– Jeff

Couldn’t have said it better if I had tried. Happy Thanksgiving!

Previously on Thanksgiving:

Wed, 24 Nov 2010

People Like Full-Body Scanners. Why?

Full-body scanner at Detroit Metro

As most will know, there has been a lot of media hype about the full-body scanners and/or “enhanced” pat-down procedures the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) put into effect recently. Even the Senate joined the media frenzy by grilling TSA head John Pistole. He has held firm on the procedures.

We know the terrorists’ intent is still there. We are using technology and protocols to stay ahead of the threat and keep you safe. [Several near-misses by terrorists on airplane bombings] got through security because we were not being thorough enough in our pat-downs.

Excuse me, Mr. Pistole, but the last terrorists on domestic flights were the 9/11 terrorists. They used box cutters, which are detectable by metal detectors; they were permissible at the time. Since then, the shoe bomber—Richard Reid—and underwear bomber—Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab—both were stopped by passengers, not TSA or Homeland Security. And both boarded aircraft overseas, not in the US.

TSA octopus

The key concern has to do with whether full-body scanners and pat downs are a necessity or invasion of privacy. They are both invasive and not proven effective, in my opinion. Others have called for more efficient screening as well. According to US Rep. Candace Miller (MI-R), we’re quite at risk:

There are well-trained, well-armed terrorists trying to get on planes and kill us…I want to be sensitive to preserve privacy, but I don’t want to die in an airplane getting blown up.

So, when’s the last time Rep. Miller flew on a regular airliner like the rest of us? And does she go through the screening like the rest of us? Any bets?

TSA enhanced pat down

Ancillary to the issue of the full-body scanners and “enhanced” pat downs is a backlash against TSA. Feeding this frenzy is US Rep John Mica (R-FL), who calls TSA “dangerously ineffective. Its specialty is what (its) critics call ‘security theater’.”

Most of us are accustomed to TSA officers at the screening point. There is a growing movement to ditch TSA without realizing private screeners must meet the same standards. While the law permits using non-TSA screeners, it does require adhering to TSA security edicts, so the same rules about scanners and enhanced pat downs apply.

Police and TSA at Newark

Despite the fact our country is fast becoming an overbearing police state, there remains popular support for the invasive screening procedures. In an ABC News/Washington Post poll, 64% favored full-body scanners and 48% had no issue with enhanced pat-downs. How can people be so willing to give up their freedoms for no tangible purpose or benefit? Reminds me of the 1967 Country Joe and the Fish song lyrics:

And it’s one, two, three, four
What are we fighting for?

Seems to me, the terrorists have won, with so many people willing to surrender their dignity, rights, and freedoms all in the name of security. Problem is, it’s not real security. There are 494 airports with commercial airline service, but full-body scanners are in place at only about 70 airports. That leaves 424 airports serving commercial air travel with the old-fashioned metal detector only passenger screening procedures. TSA head John Pistole withheld information on the new procedures until implementation so they would make us safer.

I wish I could say somebody else was responsible for that, but that is my decision and it was a risk-based decision. … In this instance my concern was … that we not publicize that because it would then provide a roadmap or blueprint to terrorists.

Just so I understand, Pistole didn’t want terrorists to figure out how to get around the new screening procedures before they rolled out. Will they somehow not be able to figure that out now that millions of law-abiding citizens must suffer invasive screening? That logic is so flawed as to warrant John Pistole’s resignation or firing for exceptionally idiotic and poor judgment. I live about 45 minutes from Detroit Metro Airport, which has millimeter wave scanners installed. About an hour away is Flint Bishop Airport, which does not have full-body scanners. For an extra 15 minutes, I can avoid the whole process. So what’s the point of wasting taxpayer dollars and punishing rule followers? Pistole said it himself—terrorists will find a way around the system.

The furor has been good for at least one entrepreneur, however. He’s marketing special underwear to prevent TSA from seeing your privates. At best, wearing these is likely to get you a free follow-on full-body massage in the form of an “enhanced” pat-down.

Previously on security theater:

Sun, 14 Nov 2010

Fight the Invasion of the Body Scanners

Millimeter wave full body scanner

Ever increasing numbers of airports have full-body scanners, euphemistically called Advanced Imaging Technology (AIT) in use by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA). While manufacturers tout their safety and eficacy, there is little empirical data regarding either. There are two types of scanners. Millimeter wave technology bounces electromagnetic waves—which TSA terms as harmless—off the body to create the passenger’s image. Backscatter technology bombards passengers with low level X-ray over the body to generate a reflection displayed on the monitor.

Electromagnetic radiation is the same radiation as in the somewhat controversial health concerns with cell phones. X-rays are ionizing radiation and there is no doubt they present a health risk. What’s under scrutiny is how much health risk does body scan radiation present. Increased dosage will represent an increased risk. On that basis, frequent fliers are more likely to suffer health impairment as a result of full body scanning. And, for pilots, it becomes an occupational hazard. But, ironically, those most at risk are the TSA agents who work around them all day.

Image from advanced imaging technology

For most people, the issue with the full body scanners is a privacy issue. TSA says they are secure and no images will be stored. Consumer advocate Ralph Nader and the watchdog group Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) disagree. EPIC says the machines are hackable, can have external storage devices attached, and agents could easily take cell phone pictures. Citing privacy concerns, EPIC filed a lawsuit requesting suspension of full body scanning with the US Court of Appeals in Washington DC.

Unions for two airlines advised pilots no opt out of scanning citing privacy reasons for their members. Pilots at US Airways and American Airlines, numbering about 14,000, were told to go the route of the “enhanced pat down” instead. Those who decline the scanners are subject to thorough pat down searches.

TSA patting down child and woman

There is growing pushback to TSA’s intrusive screening measures. Last month, ExpressJet First Officer Michael Richards refused both the scanner and pat down. As a pilot, Richards has already had a through background check and he’s low risk at wanting to blow up his own plane. His fundamental concern, for which he intends to file a lawsuit, is violation of the Constitution’s Fourth Amendment which prohibits unreasonable search and seizure.

Yesterday, passenger John Tyner opted out of scanning. Tyner says he checked the TSA website before going to the airport to see if San Diego was listed as using the scanners. Even today, San Diego Airport is not listed on TSA’s site as using AIT. Tyner recorded the encounter with his cell phone. Many think TSA is heavy-handed and here’s what the TSA agent said at the metal detector:

Anything else in your pockets, paper, everything needs to come out…paper needs to come out, otherwise I’ll pat you down.

TSA pat down

After the TSA agent explained the “standard pat down”, Tyner inquired if they were going to pat down his groin. The answer was an indirect affirmative, to which Tyner responded, “If you touch my junk, I’ll have you arrested.” While waiting for various levels of supervision to sort this out, the TSA agent said, “By buying a ticket you gave up a lot of your rights.” I don’t think there’s anything about buying an airline ticket that suspends provisions of the US Constitution, including it’s Fourth Amendment rights against unreasonable search and seizure.

An interesting side note is the similarities between Mr. Richards’ and Mr. Tyner’s cases, which took part at two different airports. They were both courteous and non-confrontational. Yet, in both cases, resolving their declination to abdicate their rights would be considered an unlawful detention. And, in both cases, as they were about to leave the airport terminal, they were subjected to yet another unlawful detention.

Some commenters have questioned Mr. Tyner’s motiviation for declining both virtual strip search and sexual molestation by TSA. His eloquent reply:

Every attempt to blow up a plane since 9/11 has been stopped by passengers after the government failed to provide protection for them. Every incident, however, has been met by throwing more money and less sensibility at the problem.

Bill of Rights

And each new effort to address the threat results in a further erosion of citizens’ rights. TSA maintains their right to full body scans or “enhanced” pat downs is lawful. The Fourth Amendment was intended to protect us from overreaching government intrusion.

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

Stand up for your rights. Send a clear message to the US Government and TSA. Join the National Opt-Out Day, 24 November 2010. Either way, you should probably plan to arrive at the airport several hours before your flight that day.

Previously on security theater:


20 Nov 2010

I have to retract my implication the use of full-body scanners and/or “enhanced” pat downs at airports represent a violation of the Fourth Ammendment. While I believe those procedures are invasive and their efficacy and health effects unknown, they are easily avoided by not flying. Travelers can choose any of a wide variety of alternate modes of travel.

That said, I still believe these procedures represent a further totalitarianization of the so-called Land of the Free. And while alternate methods of travel are available, the cost- and time-effectiveness of air travel make it the only practical choice in many circumstances.

A recent CBS News poll found 80% support full-body scanning. They may change their mind when it becomes their turn, but for now, the will of the people is clear.

Fri, 12 Nov 2010

School Denies Flag Rights During Veterans Week

Filed under: Citizen rights, Civil liberties, Government, Hypocrits, Justice, Legal, Life, Paradoxes, Politics, Racism, Schools — cynicalsynapse @ 9:21 pm

Cody Alicea rides bike with a US flag

On Monday, 08 November, Denair Middle School told a student to stop displaying the US flag on school grounds. According to Superintendent Edward Parraz, officials were concerned about racial tensions. Excuse me? The US flag causes racial tensions? I thought that was the Stars and Bars.

Mr. Parraz said the Campus Supervisor told Cody Alecia he couldn’t fly the US flag out of concern for Cody’s safety. Parraz blamed the matter on Cinco de Mayo which, by the way, is not a US holiday like Veterans Day.

Our Hispanic, you know, kids will, you know, bring their Mexican flags and they’ll display it, and then of course the kids would do the American flag situation, and it does cause kind of a racial tension which we don’t really want.

Denair Middle School

Denair Middle School is in mid-central California, southeast of Modesto. I realize all of California has a large Hispanic population, but it’s not like Denair is a border or urbanized region. Thus, it doesn’t follow that Cody’s display of the US flag could be seen as anti-Hispanic or even counter to celebrating Cinco de Mayo. Alecia had been displaying the US flag on his bike since the beginning of the school year, so this is not a new issue.

Today, 12 November, the school district decided Cody Alecia could display the US flag. This was in the face of nationwide outrage and a community march on the school. As a side note, perhaps Fox 40 personnel should undertake some remedial spelling and grammar classes. In any case, Supt. Parraz said:

[The] First Amendment is important. We want the kids to respect it, understand it, and with that comes a responsibility.

Burning constitution

Besides dissing veterans in this week that includes Veterans Day, Denair fails to address the underlying issues. Does anyone doubt this could have longer term impact on society at large?

As a result of the nationwide controversy, Cody Alecia is flying the US flag from his bike once again. Score one for correct over political correctness.

Previously on the US Flag:

Thu, 11 Nov 2010

Veterans Day: Thanks for My Freedoms

Filed under: Citizen rights, Global War on Terror, Heroes, History, holidays, Military, Patriotism, President — cynicalsynapse @ 9:12 am

Veterans Day 2010

November 11th is Veterans Day. Originally established to mark the end of World War I—Armistice Day—the holiday has come to honor veterans and their families from all wars and conflicts. President Obama began this year’s proclamation with these words:

On Veterans Day, we come together to pay tribute to the men and women who have worn the uniform of the United States Armed Forces. Americans across this land commemorate the patriots who have risked their lives to preserve the liberty of our Nation, the families who support them, and the heroes no longer with us.

We pay tribute to veterans in a lot of ways, especially on Veterans Day. Many restaurants offer free or reduced price meals and other businesses extend military discounts. Others simply thank those in uniform or obviously veterans. I can tell you they appreciate it. Members of our Armed Forces serve year round, however, and more than 200,000 are serving away from their families. You could take a moment to show deployed military personnel you care by sending a letter or a care package.

Pres. Obama at Yongsan War Memorial

In the midst of his Asian trip, President Obama honored Korean War veterans at a memorial in Seoul. The President also thanked members of the military in his remarks to them at the US Army Yongsan Garrison in Seoul.

From those who took up arms in our first militias, before our country was even born, to those serving in harm’s way today, we owe our freedoms and way of life to veterans. They are true patriots and heroes. They stand up without reservation to defend us from all enemies, foreign and domestic. Salute them all.

Previously on Veterans Day:

Mon, 08 Nov 2010

Snyder Picks Dead Guy and Dead Weight for Key Leadership

Filed under: Government, Governor, Michigan, Politics — cynicalsynapse @ 10:31 pm

Pam and Dick Posthumus

Michigan’s Governor-elect Rick Snyder (R) named a top aid and State Treasurer designate today. Snyder is surrounding himself with a bunch of former Gov. John Engler hacks, a trend that is starting to concern me. My main issue with the former governor, besides his size, is how Engler torpedoed transit for metro Detroit mere nanoseconds before leaving office. As for Snyder’s choices, one of these seems purely politically motivated. So much for no more politics as usual.

Synder appointed Dick Posthumus his legislative affairs advisor. Posthumus—the dead guy—was Lieutenant Governor under John Engler (R) but lost a bid for the governorship to Jennifer Granholm. So, besides having sat around the State Senate during Engler’s administration, Posthumous was a State Senator for 16 years. He might be why voters approved term limits in the first place. And why does the Governor need a legislative affairs advisor at taxpayer expense to begin with?

Andy Dillon

Next up is current state House Speaker Andy Dillon (D), slated to become State Treasurer. Dillon, like Snyder, was a venture capitalist before his 6 years in the State House. Dillon said he was reluctant to accept appointment as treasurer. Concerning state government, he said:

I would term it as a dysfunctional system. I’m kind of excited about the opportunity to work with people who are a little more aggressive on change.

Now there’s commitment and enthusiasm for you. That’s just the start of the issues I have with Dillon (D-Redford), who Snyder named as his appointment to State Treasurer. Sorry, Rick. Do you expect Dillon to show up for work any more often than he voted in the House? Andy Dillon—the deadbeat—missed more votes than 95% of state House members. I don’t see that as an enviable track record. Nor does it qualify him to be State Treasurer.


As for Dillon’s budget experience, does anyone think he’s qualified after narrowly averting Michigan’s fourth government shutdown in as many years? Never mind Dillon recessed the State House for the summer in 2009. Or how Dillon caved to Republican Senate budget cuts for 2010, making him a DINO—Democrat In Name Only.

Previously on Dillon:

Tue, 02 Nov 2010

Not Voting is Idiocy

Filed under: Behavior, Citizen rights, Congress, Life, Michigan, Paradoxes, Patriotism, Politics, Rants, Society, Take action — cynicalsynapse @ 5:45 am

Silverliner V pair

Unfortunately, significant numbers of eligible voters in the US don’t exercise their most basic right to vote. Everyone has an opinion on the weather and everyone has feelings about how they think the country is going. If you’re registered, you need to go cast your ballot. Michigan has two congressional races that are very close. If you live in the 7th or 9th districts, your vote could determine which candidate becomes your next representative.

Both major parties have efforts underway to get the vote out. Michigan Secretary of State, Terri Lynn Land, estimates about 52% of registered voters will vote> in tomorrow’s general election. Land, who is term-limited and lost a bid for Lt. Governor, thinks Michigan’s voter turnout should be higher.

This election represents a prime opportunity for voters to affect the direction of their state and local communities for the next several years. With more than 95 percent of eligible residents registered to vote here in Michigan, it’s time for those voters to speak up. I encourage everyone to make their voices heard by casting a ballot on Nov. 2.

Afghan woman shows her dyed finger after voting

Believe me, I am more cynical than most when it comes to the state of our political affairs and processes. Compare Land’s projection with Iraq’s 62% turnout for parliamentary elections in March. No presidential election, just legislators. Terrorist attacks killed 38 people who were simply trying to exercise their right to vote. On September 18th, 5.6 million Afghans risked the wrath of the Taliban to vote in parliamentary elections. Fourteen died as a result. When’s the last time anyone was killed on the way to vote in the US?

Yes, you have a right to not vote. And I am sworn to defend that right for you. But, if you don’t vote, I don’t want to hear your complaints about politicians or the direction the country is going in. Not voting shows you don’t care, according to Lonnie Allen.

Not voting is simply an ignorant act on your part. I guess wisdom is too much too hope for in a country where on average around 40 percent elect a president, but 65 percent choose who sings well.

Mon, 01 Nov 2010

Silverliner Vs Begin Service in Philly

Filed under: Customer service, Economy, Life, Railroads, Transit — cynicalsynapse @ 6:49 am

Silverliner V pair

Philadelphia’s regional rail transit service put new Silverliner V cars into revenue service on Friday, 29 October. The Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority—SEPTA—operates the commuter rail, trolley, and bus system in Philadelphia and surrounding counties.

SEPTA ordered 120 of the railcars manufactured by Hyundai Rotem Company in South Korea. There are several Philly area suppliers and the cars are assembled in the US.

Silverliner V interior

Inside, the cars are bright and feature added space for bicycles and wheelchairs. The public address system is clear and LCD panels in the car can display real-time location, next stop, and station information. The Silverliner Vs seat 110 passengers compared to about 122 for the Silverliner IIs and IIIs they will replace.

The Silverliner Vs are the first new regional rail multiple-unit trainsets for SEPTA in 35 years. Attending Villanova University in 1974-75, I can still remember my first ride on a Silverliner IV. At that time, we even thought the Silverliner IIs and IIIs, both 1960s era cars, were great compared to the MP54 cars built between 1915 and 1939.

Previously on SEPTA:

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