Daily Archive: January 20, 2013

Why I hate to fly

Part 213-

Why Boeing’s 787 Dreamliner was a nightmare waiting to happen

Dominic Rushe, The Guardian

Friday 18 January 2013 11.51 EST

The 787 was pitched as the airline of the future – a revolutionary plane that that would use new technology to bring aircraft design into the 21st century. The Dreamliner is made of carbon-fiber reinforced plastic composite. More radically still, pneumatic and hydraulic systems have been ditched for electric systems.



Outsourcing parts led to three years of delays. Parts didn’t fit together properly. Shims used to bridge small parts weren’t attached correctly. Many aircraft had to have their tails extensively reworked. The company ended up buying some suppliers, to take their business back in house. All new projects, especially ones as ambitious as the Dreamliner, face teething issues but the 787’s woes continued to mount. Unions blame the company’s reliance on outsourcing.



Arguably, it is not just Boeing’s fault that the Dreamliner wasn’t ready. Boeing is a powerful force in Washington.



(T)he Dreamliner was passed under a very compressed schedule, said Mann. “And there was an electrical failure and an emergency landing during the test-flight programme,” he said. “That was blamed on a ‘foreign object’.”

Mann said the FAA’s mandate changed under administrator Marion Blakey, appointed by president George W Bush in 2008 as Boeing was working on the Dreamliner. “Blakey saw the FAA as a ‘customer services organisation,'” said Mann. The FAA was working with the airlines to cut regulation, not to impose it, he said.

Throwball National Conference Championship: ‘9ers @ Falcons

The Falcons are an expansion team of no particular note.  There’s really no good reason to hate them except the team colors (red and black in case you’re interested) and Michael Vick.  They’ve been historically somewhat ineffective in post-season play relative to their overall winning percentage.

The ‘9ers on the other hand are a storied program tracing their origin back to the All-American Football Conference.  Their ascendancy in the ’80s was roughly co-terminant with the despised ‘boys, but their fans were nowhere near as loud, obnoxious, and arrogant.

Now there are those pointing to the investigation of Michael Crabtree for sexual assault as a reason to favor the Falcons, but I don’t see it.  For one thing they didn’t fly him to the Georgia Dome to ride the pine.  A late breaking development is a second witness that supports his version of events.

In any case this particular edition of the ‘9ers is not a one dimensional team dependent on him or even Colin Kaepernick for that matter.  What they have this year that they lacked last is a solid offensive line that can protect anyone they put in the pocket and open lanes for their rushing game.  It’s not impossible that they’ll lose, it’s just hard to see how.

Cartnoon

Pretty Pictures-

On This Day In History January 20

Cross posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

This is your morning Open Thread. Pour your favorite beverage and review the past and comment on the future.

Find the past “On This Day in History” here.

January 20 is the 20th day of the year in the Gregorian calendar. There are 345 days remaining until the end of the year (346 in leap years).

On this day in 1801, John Marshall is appointed the fourth Chief Justice of the United States. Marshall (September 24, 1755 – July 6, 1835) was an American jurist and statesman whose court opinions helped lay the basis for American constitutional law while enhancing the role of the Supreme Court as a center of power. Marshall was the fourth Chief Justice of the United States, serving from 1801 until his death in 1835. He had served in the United States House of Representatives from 1799 to 1800, and was Secretary of State under President John Adams from 1800 to 1801. Marshall was from the Commonwealth of Virginia and was a leader of the Federalist Party.

The longest-serving Chief Justice of the United States, Marshall dominated the Court for over three decades (a term outliving his own Federalist Party) and played a significant role in the development of the American legal system. Most notably, he reinforced the principle that federal courts are obligated to exercise judicial review, by disregarding purported laws if they violate the Constitution. Thus, Marshall cemented the position of the American judiciary as an independent and influential branch of government. Furthermore, the Marshall Court made several important decisions relating to federalism, affecting the balance of power between the federal government and the states during the early years of the republic. In particular, he repeatedly confirmed the supremacy of federal law over state law, and supported an expansive reading of the enumerated powers.

Nomination

Marshall was thrust into the office of Chief Justice in the wake of the presidential election of 1800. With the Federalists soundly defeated and about to lose both the executive and legislative branches to Thomas Jefferson and the Democratic-Republicans, President Adams and the lame duck Congress passed what came to be known as the Midnight Judges Act, which made sweeping changes to the federal judiciary, including a reduction in the number of Justices from six to five so as to deny Jefferson an appointment until two vacancies occurred. As the incumbent Chief Justice Oliver Ellsworth was in poor health, Adams first offered the seat to ex-Chief Justice John Jay, who declined on the grounds that the Court lacked “energy, weight, and dignity.” Jay’s letter arrived on January 20, 1801, and as there was precious little time left, Adams nominated Marshall, who was with him at the time and able to accept immediately. The Senate at first delayed, hoping that Adams would make a different choice, such as promoting Justice William Paterson of New Jersey. According to New Jersey Senator Jonathan Dayton, the Senate finally relented “lest another not so qualified, and more disgusting to the Bench, should be substituted, and because it appeared that this gentleman (Marshall) was not privy to his own nomination”. Marshall was confirmed by the Senate on January 27, 1801, and received his commission on January 31, 1801. While Marshall officially took office on February 4, at the request of the President he continued to serve as Secretary of State until Adams’ term expired on March 4. President John Adams offered this appraisal of Marshall’s impact: “My gift of John Marshall to the people of the United States was the proudest act of my life.”

Haiti: Three Years Later

Cross posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

On Jan 12, 2010, a devastating 7.0-magnitude earthquake struck the island nation of Haiti. The quake alone killed an over 300,000 people and left 1.5 million homeless. Ten months later a cholera epidemic broke out that has taken nearly 8,000 more lives. More than $9 billion has been donated from the public and private sectors to help rebuild. Yet three years later, there are still nearly 300,000 Haitians living in tents, the cholera epidemic is barely under control and the infrastructure is still a shambles.

‘Lack of national plan’ heightens struggle to rebuild unstable Haiti

by Mike Tran, The Guardian

Political instability, natural disasters and a cholera epidemic, plus a confused aid effort, mean there is still work for Haiti to do

For Father Kawas, who co-ordinated emergency response efforts in 2010 (video), several reasons lie behind the continued existence of tent cities where people swelter during the day and are soaked by evening rains.

But the main one is the government’s inability to acquire land from powerful families around the capital. “I think it’s difficult to rehouse these people because most of the land surrounding Port-au-Prince belongs to very powerful families and those families don’t want to give the land to the state to rehouse people. It’s a very big problem because those families are very powerful and they have many political resources so they can influence the decisions of the state.” [..]

Poverty was cited by Father Kawas as another reason why so many people remain homeless. “They don’t have enough money to rent a house, or to rebuild a house,” he says. “It is difficult for them because most of them don’t work, they have no jobs. NGOs cannot do everything. They cannot rehouse all the people in Haiti.” [..]

Haiti’s state institutions were fragile even before the earthquake and were weakened by the disaster. The Haitian government has received little in reconstruction funds as foreign governments have had little faith in its ability to handle the relief effort. That the government has yet to draw up a national reconstruction plan speaks volumes.

“The big problem for NGOs and for many actors in Haiti is the lack of a national plan for construction,” says Father Kawas. “The government speaks about that but right now, we don’t see this plan and we know that this plan is very important for the country, for the development of the country. For example, the NGOs are working separately, in isolation, and there is no co-ordination, there is no plan [from] the government, so for me it’s a real problem for the development of the country. And the international organisations do the same.”

Father Kawas acknowledges the difficulties in trying to strengthen his government, but urged aid agencies to provide training for public employees, as well as to help parliament and political parties.

“In Haiti, the public administration does not function, it’s a real problem. The government cannot put in practice its policies if the public administration does not function so it’s a real necessity for foreign governments to help the Haitian government find solutions.”

Haiti’s earthquake generated a $9bn response – where did the money go?

by Vijaya Ramachandran, The Guardian

Uncertainty about the scale and outcome of spending following Haiti tragedy highlights need for greater transparency

Saturday (Jan 12, 2010) marked the third anniversary of the tragic earthquake in Haiti that claimed between 230,000 and 300,000 lives. The grim landmark has prompted much discussion about the struggles surrounding reconstruction and also some hope about what may come next.

Most observers agree that the international response to the quake was overwhelming. Haiti received an unprecedented amount of support: more than $9bn (£5.6bn) in public and private donations. Official bilateral and multilateral donors pledged $13bn and, according to the UN Office of the Special Envoy for Haiti, almost 50% of these pledges ($6bn) have been disbursed. Private donations are estimated at $3bn.

Where has all the money gone? Three years after the quake, we do not really know how the money was spent, how many Haitians were reached, or whether the desired outcomes were achieved. In a policy paper published in May, and in a more recent blogpost, we unpacked the numbers, many of which came from the UN Office of the Special Envoy.

Three Years After the Quake, How the World Came to Save Haiti and Left Behind a Disaster

Three years after the devastating earthquake in Haiti, we’re joined by Jonathan Katz, author of “The Big Truck That Went By: How the World Came to Save Haiti and Left Behind a Disaster.” The earthquake on January 12, 2010, ultimately resulted in the deaths of roughly 300,000 people and left more than 1.5 million homeless in what was already the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere. A cholera epidemic, widely blamed on international U.N. troops, killed almost 8,000 people, making more than half a million sick. Today, despite pledges of billions of dollars in international aid, rebuilding has barely begun, and almost 400,000 people are still living in crowded camps. After four years of reporting in Haiti, Katz joins us to discuss where the reconstruction effort went wrong

Part 2: Jonathan Katz on How the World Came to Save Haiti After Quake and Left Behind a Disaster

There is hope for Haiti, despite what the critics say

There is still a long way to go.

Six In The Morning

On Sunday

Gun control opponents hold rallies across the US

‘High noon’ events held in 47 states to protest against legislative proposals announced by Barack Obama

 Julie Dermansky and agencies

guardian.co.uk, Sunday 20 January 2013 01.07 GMT

Thousands of gun advocates gathered peacefully on Saturday at state capitals around the US to rally against stricter limits on firearms, with demonstrators carrying rifles and pistols in some places while those elsewhere settled for waving hand-scrawled signs or screaming themselves hoarse.

Activists promoted the “Guns Across America” rallies primarily through social media. Over 18,000 people RSVPed on Facebook, and the rallies kicked off at high noon in 47 states.

The size of crowds at each location varied from dozens of people in South Dakota to 2,000 in New York. Large crowds also turned out in Connecticut, Tennessee and Texas. Some demonstrators in Phoenix, Arizona, and Salem, Oregon, came with holstered handguns or rifles on their backs. In Frankfort, Kentucky, attendees gave a special round of applause for “the ladies that are packin’.”

In Baton Rouge, Louisiana, over 200 people, mostly white, middle-aged males, turned up to show their displeasure with Obama’s 23 new executive orders and his attempt to reinstate the assault weapons ban.




Sunday’s Headlines:

Brotherhood Struggles to Translate Power Into Policy in Egypt

Campaign fights to keep EU cross-border crime powers

India’s ruling party names Rahul Gandhi as VP

Algeria ends desert siege with 23 hostages dead

Keep on trucking: The human impact of the rise of Monterrey’s new super-suburbs

What We Now Know

Up host Chris Hayes has what we know now since the week began. Joining him to discuss what they know are Rep. Donna Edwards (D-MD)(@repdonnaedwards); Bill Fletcher (@BillFletcherJr), racial justice, labor and international activist; Ben Jealous (@BenJealous), president and CEO of the NAACP; and economist Dr. Julianne Malveaux (@drjlastword), president emeritus of Bennett College for Women.

Aaron Swartz Prosecutor Defends Charges, Days After Activist’s Suicide

by Ryan J. Reilly, Huffington Post

WASHINGTON — U.S. Attorney Carmen Ortiz on Wednesday defended her office’s prosecution of Aaron Swartz as “appropriate,” days after the 26-year-old Internet activist took his own life.

Ortiz, the top federal prosecutor in Massachusetts, broke her silence for the first time since Swartz killed himself on Friday. His family and supporters have blamed the government for playing a role in his death, while members of Congress have questioned the Justice Department’s aggressive prosecution of Swartz on computer fraud charges.

But Ortiz maintained it was appropriate for prosecutors in the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Massachusetts to bring the case. She said her office was prepared to offer a deal that would have put Swartz behind bars in a low-security prison for six months. Ortiz said prosecutors never said they intended to seek the maximum punishment.

Introducing ‘Aaron’s Law’

by Diane Sweet, Crooks and Liars

Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) introduced “Aaron’s Law” on Tuesday night, announcing it via the user-generated site Reddit. The piece of legislation would modify the the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act to exclude terms of service violations. “There’s no way to reverse the tragedy of Aaron’s death, but we can work to prevent a repeat of the abuses of power he experienced,” Lofgren wrote. “The government was able to bring such disproportionate charges against Aaron because of the broad scope of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA) and the wire fraud statute.” Read the full bill here (pdf).

Residential Segregation Contributes to Health Disparities for People of Color

by Kenneth J. Cooper, America’s Wire

Segregated black neighborhoods tend to be poor-poorer, in fact, than impoverished white neighborhoods. Recent research, however, has begun to show that race, not class, adversely affects the health of African-Americans in racially isolated communities.

Hope Landrine, a researcher for the American Cancer Society, reviewed the latest studies on residential segregation and black health, and compiled the findings last year in the journal “Ethnicity & Health.” Among them:

 

  • Two to three times as many fast food outlets are located in segregated black neighborhoods than in white neighborhoods of comparable socioeconomic status, contributing to higher black consumption of fatty, salty meals and in turn widening racial disparities in obesity and diabetes.
  • Black neighborhoods contain two to three times fewer supermarkets than comparable white neighborhoods, creating the kind of “food deserts” that make it difficult for residents who depend on public transportation to purchase the fresh fruits and vegetables that make for a healthy diet.
  • Fewer African-Americans have ready access to places to work off excess weight that can gradually cause death. A study limited to New York, Maryland and North Carolina found that black neighborhoods were three times more likely to lack recreational facilities where residents could exercise and relieve stress.
  • Because of “the deliberate placement of polluting factories and toxic waste dumps in minority neighborhoods,” exposure to air pollutants and toxins is five to 20 times higher than in white neighborhoods with the same income levels.
  • Regardless of their socioeconomic status, African-Americans who live in segregated communities receive unequal medical care because hospitals serving them have less technology, such as imaging equipment, and fewer specialists, like those in heart surgery and cancer. The predominantly white doctors in those communities are also less likely to have certification from the American Board of Medical Specialties, an accepted standard of professional competence.

Foreclosure Review In New Settlement Leaves Homeowners In Banks’ Hands

by Ben Hallman and Eleazar David Melendez, Huffington Post

For more than a year, housing advocates and their allies worried that a review of foreclosed loans managed by banking regulators was vulnerable to mortgage industry interference.

On Monday, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency and the Federal Reserve Board — the two regulatory bodies that had taken the lead in making the nation’s largest banks accountable for rampant foreclosure fraud — announced that homeowners no longer need worry about the independence of the reviews. The regulators, essentially admitting that the reviews were too difficult to conduct, and that assigning appropriate compensation to those most harmed by the banks was no longer a priority, said the mortgage companies themselves will determine how to distribute $3.3 billion to more than 4 million homeowners forced into foreclosure in 2009 or 2010.

Housing advocates, while acknowledging that the foreclosure reviews were flawed, said they don’t understand how turning the process over to mortgage companies improves a system already insufficiently independent.

Foreclosure Review Insiders Portray Massive Failure, Doomed From The Start

by Ben Hallman and Eleazar David Melendez, Huffington Post

Last January, dozens of independent contractors showed up for their first day of work at a large, single-story Bank of America building in Tampa to right the wrongs of a foreclosure crisis that many had witnessed firsthand. Or so they thought.

They were lawyers, paralegals and other mortgage industry veterans. Along with thousands of other contractors working at banks and auditing firms like Deloitte and PriceWaterhouseCoopers, the Tampa crew was to comb through the mortgages of people whose homes were in foreclosure at the height of that crisis, in 2009 and 2010. They were looking for lost paperwork, overcharges, botched loan modifications — evidence of the kinds of errors and misconduct widely alleged by foreclosed borrowers.

It was called the Independent Foreclosure Review, and it was one of the most ambitious and costly auditing projects in U.S. history.

It was also, some of the contractors soon came to believe, a fiasco in the making. At Bank of America, contract employees were to answer more than 2,000 questions written by Promontory Financial, the consulting firm the bank hired to audit its mortgage loan files. Those questions, the contractors said, were confusing and open to interpretation. Training was spotty and mistakes were frequent, they said. Sometimes, when they noted bank-caused mistakes, they were told by Bank of America managers not to believe their own eyes.

Late Night Karaoke

Is society inherently corrupt?



A look at the global arms industry and the effect corruption has on our politics, society and culture.

Bribery, fraud and dishonest conduct by people in power – corruption is a cancer in society, no matter where you live. But who are the guilty parties? Is corruption becoming socially accepted? And what can we do about it?

On this episode of South2North, Redi Tlhabi takes a look at the effect corruption has on our politics, society and culture.

Redi talks to Andrew Feinstein, a former parliamentarian and co-founder of Corruption Watch UK, an organisation dedicated to exposing bribery and corruption. Feinstein is also a whistleblower on illegal arms deals and the author of the book, The Shadow World: Inside the Global Arms Trade, that investigates the dark side of this trillion-dollar industry.

Feinstein explains why corruption in the global arms trade has interested him specifically:

“It’s estimated that the trade in weapons accounts for around 40 percent of all corruption in all world trade ….The thing that I think is so important about it is it runs to the core of the way we’re governed, because the trade in weapons is extremely closely tied into the mechanics of government. The defence manufacturers, those who make the weapons, are closely tied in to governments, to militaries, to intelligence agencies and crucially to political parties. So they have enormous influence.”