Going on a Cruise? … Beware

8 Mar 2018

More cruise ships than ever are flunking health inspections – NY post, 2018/03/07

A report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has revealed that 15 ships out of 250 failed crucial health checks.

This is a steep rise on 2016 when just four ships failed checks and amounts to six percent of cruise ships.

The body’s public health inspections check the cleanliness of each ship’s water, the preparation of food, pest control, the health and hygiene of employees, and the measures to stop disease breaking out on board.

Ships failed tests for several reasons, such as crew members working with contagious bugs like gastroenteritis.

Five of Carnival Cruise Lines’ ships failed checked – their liners sail to destinations like the Bahamas, the Caribbean and Mexico.


Washington Train Derailment – A Lesson In Why You Don’t Short Cut the Process

4 Jan 2018

Last month, there was a train derailment in Washington state. Investigations have been taking place.

Reason #1 is likely the main culprit.

Four factors that led to the deadly Amtrak derailment – The Hill, 2018/01/04

Beware of artificial, self-imposed deadlines.
The cost of upgrading the Bypass was largely paid by federal stimulus money from the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act that had to be spent, in its entirety, by Sept. 30, 2017. This explains why Washington DOT (WSDOT) was in such a hurry to complete construction of the Bypass, but it does not explain why they were in such a hurry to open the service on the new bypass before the PTC system could be installed. The most likely explanation is that WSDOT and Amtrak had promised, years ago, that the new service would be in operation in 2017 and felt obligated to stick to that schedule, with disastrous results.

In other words, to fully collect the stimulus money, they had to be done on time… and in the process, they put off the Positive Train Control system until later.

Here are two past articles as well that go into good details on this.

Obama’s High-Speed Rail Fantasy Led To Deadly Derailment In Washington – Investors Business Daily, 2017/12/21

Train derailment near Olympia: Officials pushed ‘aggressive’ timeline before safety technology was ready – Seattle Times, 2017/12/19

This is a really good lesson on how a series of bad decisions and short cuts can lead to a disaster.

On the surface, you can say the conductor was negligent – because at that time, he was negligent. However, the contract called for a positive train control system that was not implemented because they had to get done on time to collect federal stimulus money.

DHS To Spend $1 Billion on Facial Surveillance

2 Jan 2018

DHS to Spend $1 Billion to Expand Illegal Facial Scanning Program at Airports – The New American, 2018/01/02

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is setting aside $1 billion for a biometric scanning program to capture the faces of those leaving the country at airports. That scanning includes the faces of American citizens, even though DHS has no legal authority to conduct that surveillance.

This program is not an anomaly, either. In July 2015, The New American reported that DHS had developed a video surveillance program to be used at airports to predict the behavior of passengers and guests based on their facial expressions, posture, and body language.

Now, as 2018 begins, the surveillance state is pushing even beyond that with plans to turn every international airport into a hub of biometric surveillance. Because when it comes to surveillance hawks, too much surveillance is never enough.

Former Phillie Cy Young Winner Halladay Killed in Plane Crash

7 Nov 2017

2017/11/07 – Roy Halladay killed in plane crash at age 40 – Yahoo

Roy Halladay, the former MLB pitching star and two-time Cy Young winner, is reportedly dead after his plane crashed Tuesday afternoon into the Gulf of Mexico. He was 40 years old.

The Pasco County Sheriff’s Office in Florida confirmed Tuesday that Halladay died in the crash, which happened around 1 p.m. ET about 10 miles west of St. Petersburg. Initial reports said one person died in the crash but the victim wasn’t unidentified until the sheriff’s office confirmed Tuesday afternoon what many had feared — it was Halladay.

Manchester Terrorist Makes Point for Trump Travel Ban

24 May 2017

2017/05/24 – Lounging on a Libyan beach with his childhood mates, the cannabis-smoking teenager who went on to slaughter 22 people in Manchester Arena attack after being radicalised and ‘receiving secret terror training in Syria’ – UK Daily Mail

But a senior US intelligence official claimed today that members of his own family had warned police that he was ‘dangerous’.

UK border checks were branded a ‘shambles’ after it emerged the suicide bomber had travelled to ISIS strongholds Syria and Libya before being able to come ‘straight through’ to Britain.

Last night it emerged he had only just returned from war-torn Libya before launching his horrific attack and was seen as the ‘face of hate’ among some neighbours.

British-born Abedi had spent time in a conflict zone – possibly Syria – before slaughtering 22 in a suicide bomb atrocity at Manchester Arena on Monday night, it has been claimed.

A friend of Abedi, a Mancunian of Libyan descent, said the attacker had returned from a three-week trip to Libya – also an ISIS hotbed – just days ago. He is understood to have made regular journeys to the North African country in recent years.

Please note that this is the exact reason for Trump’s travel ban. It’s not a Muslim ban, but it takes into account the locations where people are being trained to be suicide bombers.

This article is included in the Manchester Context thread.

Coal Transport Increasing

6 Mar 2017

Coal on the rise: AARRailway Age

In reporting U.S. rail traffic volumes for the week ending Feb. 25, 2017 and the month of February 2017, the Association of American Railroads noted that coal rose 14% and 19.2%, respectively.

In February 2017, 11 of the 20 carload commodity categories tracked by the AAR each month saw carload gains compared with February 2016. These included: coal, up 19.2% or 57,589 carloads; crushed stone, gravel, and sand, up 13.1% or 10,091 carloads; and primary metal products, up 6.8% or 2,357 carloads. Commodities that saw declines in February 2017 from February 2016 included: petroleum and petroleum products, down 12.4% or 5,543 carloads; motor vehicles and parts, down 4.8% or 3,746; carloads and metallic ores, down 19.1% or 2,793 carloads.

It is good to look at the economy from all angles, not just the stock market. The coal industry took a sizable hit during the Obama years. Looks like they are starting to see some daylight.