Politics, open government, and safe streets. And the constant incursion of cycling.

Month: July 2010

Well Done, France

France takes a practically significant – and symbolically huge – step towards making things right with Haiti:

France Unveils Bastille Day Framework Initiative for Haiti’s Reconstruction

Ever since Haiti was ravaged by the devastating earthquake of January 12, France has called for international debt forgiveness for Haiti.

[ . . . ]

The French Republic and Haiti share deep ties of history, language and culture. Bastille Day is a perfect occasion to celebrate the cherished values of our rebublic–values that were also a beacon to the Haitian people when they cast off the shackles of slavery, and founded the second republic of the Americas.

In the context of our national holiday, we are thus announcing the dawn of a new era of cooperation between France and Haiti—a partnership based firmly in these shared values. Whereas our nations’ relations were, historically, at times tumultuous, today we start with a clean slate united by compassion and cooperation.

Under the Framework Initiative for Haiti’s Reconstruction, unveiled today by the Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs, France is repaying the historic debt of 90 million gold francs Haiti paid to France following the former’s independence at the dawn of the 19th century.

[ . . . ]

Under the new framework, the 90 million gold francs, which Haiti paid France from 1825 until 1947, will be reimbursed in a yearly budget over the course of 50 years. Economic advisors working with the Ministry have calculated that the total sum amounts to € 17 billion including adjustments for inflation and a minimal interest rate of 5 percent per annum.

Emphasis mine.  Good luck, Haiti.

Arlington, that Free-Spending Socialist Utopia . . .

just had its 3 x AAA bond rating re-affirmed:

For the tenth straight year, Arlington has scored a financial “triple-triple.” All three major bond rating agencies have just affirmed Arlington’s AAA bond rating, the highest rating available.

[ . . . ]

Arlington is one of only 35 counties across the country that has a triple AAA rating. It allows the county to borrow money at the lowest possible rates.

Now, it’s not lost on me that I’ve roundly criticized the bond-rating agencies elsewhere, but if you’re a relatively small county that can manage to convince all three that you’re doing it that well?  You’re doing something right.

Arlington isn’t perfect, but seriously, if the world had our problems, it would be a better place.

Midweek Makeover: I’ve Been All

Daft Punk’s Around the World, something that takes me right back to the late 90’s:


And a cover you won’t expect:


(The cover video is clever, if you recall the original Daft Punk video.)

Two Years Later: The Official Version of Alice Swanson’s Death

Two years ago today, Alice Swanson was struck and killed by a truck while riding her bike to work.   In the days, weeks, and months that followed, there was much discussion about what, exactly, happened (and how it could have been prevented).  The DC MPD, in my view, was not very forthcoming with the details of its investigation.  No charges were ever brought against the driver.  The document below – the “Final Overview Memo” from DC’s MPD – should have been made public a long time ago.

Update: This report was issued in December of 2008, and I obtained a copy not long after.  The report was not recently released by the DC MPD, and I apologize to readers for not making that clearer in my introduction.

Swanson Report Redacted

There are many lessons to be drawn from this memo, but for now, I’ll just urge that those who are interested in cycling safety (and its relationship to law enforcement) give it a full read.

Update II: After you’ve read the report above (and hopefully shared your view here), you should check out WashCycle’s analysis here.

The Scary Muslims! Part . . .

oh, heck, I forget what part we’re up to.  John Stewart handles this episode quite nicely, from Muslims! In! Spaaaaace! to Muslims in Mosques (and How They’re Totally Not At All Like Christians In Churches):

The Daily Show With Jon Stewart Mon – Thurs 11p / 10c
Wish You Weren’t Here
Daily Show Full Episodes Political Humor Tea Party

DC’s Capital Criterium – This Sunday

This Sunday, the Capital Criterium returns to Pennsylvania Avenue.   In addition to pro racing at 1pm, there are local races in the AM, a kids race (free helmets for every entrant) after, and a local celebrity ride in support of bringing a stage of the Giro d’Italia to DC in 2012.  I’ll be there.  You? Photos from the inaugural edition are here.  More info after the jump.

Arlington’s Got a Gang Problem

A *math* gang problem, that is.  Found these along the W&OD trail yesterday.

So who’s going to solve it?

Preserving BP’s Interests

Glenn Greenwald assembles evidence in support of claims that state, local, and Federal law enforcement officials are helping BP intimidate reporters and shield the cleanup operations from public scrutiny:

She documented one incident which was particularly chilling of an activist who — after being told by a local police officer to stop filming a BP facility because “BP didn’t want him filming” — was then pulled over after he left by that officer so he could be interrogated by a BP security official.  McClelland also described how BP has virtually bought entire Police Departments which now do its bidding:  “One parish has 57 extra shifts per week that they are devoting entirely to, basically, BP security detail, and BP is paying the sheriff’s office.”

Even better, in a linked ProPublica article:

A photographer taking pictures for these articles, was detained Friday while shooting pictures in Texas City, Texas.

The photographer, Lance Rosenfield, said that shortly after arriving in town, he was confronted by a BP security officer, local police and a man who identified himself as an agent of the Department of Homeland Security. He was released after the police reviewed the pictures he had taken on Friday and recorded his date of birth, Social Security number and other personal information.

The police officer then turned that information over to the BP security guard under what he said was standard procedure, according to Rosenfield.


More evidence here (h/t bamage):

Journalists who come too close to oil spill clean-up efforts without permission could find themselves facing a $40,000 fine and even one to five years in prison under a new rule instituted by the Coast Guard late last week.

It’s a move that outraged observers have decried as an attack on First Amendment rights. And CNN’s Anderson Cooper describes the new rules as making it “very easy to hide incompetence or failure“. . . .

[S]ince “oil spill response operations” apparently covers much of the clean-up effort on the beaches, CNN’s [] Cooper describes the rule asbanning reporters from “anywhere we need to be” . . . .

The unfortunate part is that Anderson – who has the name and resources to fight this – won’t push the line.  In fairness to him, I suspect the line they draw for him would be much further in than for your standard issue investigative reporter.   Further, he can’t be everywhere.  But that’s what BP and its corrupt law enforcement officers are relying upon.  To the significant detriment of all of us.

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