WHERE INFRASTRUCTURAL OPTIMISM AND ENTREPRENEURIAL OPPORTUNISM COLLIDE: “Beginning in 2016, All Aboard Florida will run 32 departures a day between Miami, Fort Lauderdale, and West Palm Beach, with service extending to Orlando soon afterwards. With a maximum speed of 125 miles per hour, the trains will complete the 240-mile journey in less than three hours. In South Florida, around the three initial stations, the company will develop 4.2 million square feet of real estate. In Orlando, the terminus will be located at the airport and connect to a new commuter rail line at a sparkling, state-funded $215 million transportation hub. It's a big project by any standard, but it looms even larger in historical context. No private intercity passenger rail line has operated in the United States in 30 years — and it has been longer still since a new service was introduced. ‘You'd have to go back over 100 years to find a significant investment in private intercity rail in the U.S.,’ says David Levinson, a transportation analyst at the University of Minnesota. Broadly speaking, there are two reasons All Aboard Florida may be able to revive a transportation model whose decline began during the Hoover administration. The first might be called what is already there: a coastline's worth of right-of-way, half of Florida's population, and tens of millions of travelers on business and vacation. The second might be called what could be there: 21 acres of transit-oriented development in three South Florida downtowns. Can All Aboard Florida establish a blueprint for how private freight railways, which averted financial ruin by abandoning passenger service, can profit from its revival? ‘If it can work there, it could work in other markets. The other private rail firms absolutely can be watching this,’ says Adie Tomer, an associate at the Brookings Institution Metropolitan Policy Program who studies passenger rail. ‘This a great test for America.’” (via The Atlantic/CityLab)
PICK A HOLE, ANY HOLE. SODOMY IS LEGAL IN ALABAMA! WELCOME TO 1890!: “Civil rights organizations in Alabama are cheering a state appeals court ruling that declared part of a state sexual misconduct law as unconstitutional. Under the statute, consensual oral and anal sex was banned in what the court determined was an act aimed at criminalizing homosexual activities. The portion of the law cited in the Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals ruling includes: "Consent is no defense to a prosecution under this subdivision." The ruling was unanimous in the case of Dewayne Williams vs. State of Alabama. Williams, a Dallas County, Ala., man, who, although was not convicted in 2010 of first-degree sodomy, was convicted of the "lesser-included offense" of sexual misconduct, according to the ruling. Williams acknowledged he had taken part in the sodomy but argued it was consensual, the ruling states. Alabama is one of a dozen states that still have laws prohibiting consensual homosexual sex, according to a survey by the Human Rights Campaign, a national group advocating for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights. Susan Watson, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Alabama, applauded the ruling. "Aiming to ban consensual sex is flat out wrong," she said Saturday. "A person's sexual orientation shouldn't matter. Consensual sex is consensual sex." Ben Cooper, chairman for Equality Alabama, also lauded the ruling and added the law was "settled years ago" under Lawrence v. Texas, a case the Alabama court referenced in its decision. In the 2003 case, the crime for two persons of the same sex to engage in certain intimate sexual conduct was determined to violate the due process clause of the 14th Amendment.” (via Montgomery Advertiser)
WHATEVER YOU THINK ABOUT THE NEW IRAQ INTERVENTION, YOU SHOULDN’T BE LOOKING TO THE IDIOTS BEHIND THE OLD ONE FOR ADVICE: “This past weekend, as the crisis in Iraq intensified, Paul Wolfowitz appeared on Meet the Press to share his wisdom on the current predicament there. Wolfowitz was the deputy defense secretary and an architect of the US invasion of Iraq during the Bush-Cheney administration, and he remarked on the show that talk of sectarian violence in Iraq was misguided: "This is more than just those obscure Shia/Sunni conflict[s]." He advised that the United States should "stick with our friends, and those friends are not always perfect." Wolfowitz seemed to be suggesting that the Obama administration should stand strong with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, despite Maliki's authoritarian, corrupt, and inept ways. But moments later Wolfowitz said, "It's a complicated situation in which you don't just come up with, 'We're going to bomb this, we're going to do that.'" And then he said, "Maliki is a big part of the problem. He's not a leader of Iraq. We need to find people there." It was confusing. After the invasion of Iraq, the Bush crew backed a consolidation of power by the Maliki-led coalition of religious-oriented Shiite parties and decimated the Sunni establishment that had previously controlled the government and the military. And now Wolfowitz was saying that Washington should hang tough with its pal—but that its pal was also the problem. Huh? The big brain behind the Iraq war had nothing of consequence to recommend. But the real question is, what was he doing on television anyway? Like his neocon comrades—Bill Kristol, Charles Krauthammer, Robert Kagan, and others—Wolfowitz does not deserve to be presented as an expert with important ideas about the ongoing mess. He and the rest of this gang should have had their pundit licenses revoked after the Iraq war. They got it all wrong: WMDs, the cost of the war, the consequences of the invasion. And these errors were compounded by the deaths of nearly 4,500 US service men and women—and 180,000 or more civilian Iraqi casualties. (Here's a partial list of Kristol's pre-war errors and misrepresentations.) So why care what they have to say now?” (via Mother Jones)
WHY LOOK FORWARD WHEN YOU CAN KEEP LOOKING BACK? NO, I MEAN THAT SERIOUSLY. WHY BOTHER? “Already this year we have had the 10th anniversary of the first episode of The Apprentice; the 40th anniversary of the first episode of Happy Days (January 15); the 10th anniversary of the Janet Jackson nipple slip at Super Bowl XXXVIII (February 1); the 10th anniversary of the launch of Facebook (February 4); the 25th anniversary of Soviet troops leaving Afghanistan (February 15); the 10th anniversary of the final episode of Sex and the City (February 22); the 50th anniversary of Cassius Clay becoming world heavyweight champion (February 25); the 10th anniversary of the Madrid train bombings (March 11); and the 50th year since Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor first married (March 15). It has been 125 years since the inauguration of the Eiffel Tower (March 31), 20 years since the death of Kurt Cobain (April 8), 25 years since the Hillsborough football disaster in Sheffield, England (April 15); 50 years since the Rolling Stones released their debut album (April 16); 15 years since the Columbine High School massacre (April 20); 20 years since the death of Ayrton Senna (May 1); 60 years since Roger Bannister broke the four-minute mile (May 6); 25 years since the Tiananmen Square massacre (June 4); and 70 years since D-Day. Still to come, just so you can mark your already crowded international calendars: 100 years since Babe Ruth made his Major League Baseball debut (July 11); 100 years since the start of World War I (July 28); 40 years since Richard Nixon resigned; 70 years since the liberation of Paris in World War II (August 19); 50 years since the premiere of Mary Poppins (August 27); 50 years since Martin Luther King Jr. was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize (October 14); and 100 years since the birth of poet Dylan Thomas (October 27). All that anniversary goal-hunting will surely only get much worse with the Kardashians: Imagine the number of births, marriages, divorces, and red carpet wardrobe malfunctions we will have to mark on their behalf alone. The problem with anniversary addiction is one of significance: If everything has an anniversary, if there is a growing plenitude of events and personalities to mark, where is the quality line to be drawn?” (via The Daily Beast)
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