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

Category: Policy Page 3 of 35

The Scale of the Cost of the Gulf/BP Cleanup

Latest observation:

Federal officials say cleaning up the massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico has already cost the government $87 million, making it the third-most expensive cleanup effort in the nation’s history.

For comparison:

Other skeptics inside the Pentagon note that the planes, designed 30 years ago to combat a Cold War adversary, have cost an average of $350 million apiece and say they are not a priority in the age of small wars and terrorist threats.

That’s for grins, right?  Because if anyone actually gave a shit about fiscal responsibility, this would be all over the front pages, no?

Thank Sec. LaHood: DC’s Freedom Plaza on Friday at 12:45p

Meet up with other area cyclists at 12:45pm on Friday, May 28, in Freedom Plaza (14th and Pennsylvania NW) for a ride to the Department of Transportation to thank Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood for his leadership on bicycling and pedestrian issues.

From the press release:

Bicyclists and Pedestrians Recognize US DOT Secretary LaHood for His Leadership

Transportation advocates to bike thank you letter down Pennsylvania Avenue to USDOT

WHAT: U.S. Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood will greet bicycle riders outside USDOT headquarters to accept a thank you letter signed by over 275 organizations nationwide for the Secretary’s leadership on bicycle and pedestrian issues. LaHood has issued a new policy to make bicycling and walking safer and more accessible, setting the stage for creating livable communities that polls show Americans want.

Leaders from America Bikes, Safe Routes to School National Partnership and Transportation for America will bike down the new Pennsylvania Avenue bike lanes on their way to USDOT.  At the press availability, LaHood and representatives from three transportation organizations will speak and take questions from the media.

WHERE: U.S. Department of Transportation
1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE, Washington, DC, 20590
In the Courtyard on 3rd St SE in between M and N Streets SE

WHEN: Friday, May 28, 2010

Bicyclists to arrive down 3rd Street at approximately 1:15 p.m.
Presentation ceremony to take place starting at 1:30 p.m.

WHO: U.S. Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood
Randy Neufeld, President, America Bikes
Margo Pedroso, Deputy Director, Safe Routes to School National Partnership
Lilly Shoup, Research Director, Transportation for America

Doing Some Good On The Way Out

If any Dem believes that Democrats are reliably better than Republicans when it comes to regulating the financial sector, I’ve got a CDO to sell ’em.  But I’m very happy to see things like this happening:

The Wall Street reform bill has no doubt drifted leftward in the past several days. But that doesn’t mean all Senate liberals are happy. Several progressive and populist senators think the bill’s broad approach does not call for the fundamental reforms Wall Street needs. They’ve been pushing far-reaching amendments that would shrink major financial companies, and further limit high-risk trading and though their efforts likely do not have enough votes to pass, they at the very least want to get a fair hearing. And they’re banding together to make sure they get one.

And it looks like retiring Sen. Byron Dorgan is taking the lead:

Dorgan, though, says he’s been all but blocked out of the process, and that other senators have been given priority. He predicts he’ll ultimately prevail.

How? Progressive Democrats could use their leverage. They could make their support for ending debate on the bill contingent on getting votes on their amendments. That’s what Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-WA) said last week, when leadership tried to scotch a number of amendments aimed at shrinking, or breaking up, too big to fail firms. Dorgan says he’ll make issue of this at a caucus meeting this afternoon. And he hinted on the floor today that he won’t relent until he’s given a fair shake.

“I will continue to come and ask consent to be able to offer this amendment,” Dorgan said. “[A]s Governor Schwarzenegger said in a previous life, I’ll be back, and soon.”

More like this, please.

Auditing the Federal Reserve

It’s a good thing.

The Risks of Drilling Off Virginia’s Coast

Waldo Jaquith has a good piece illustrating the risks that Virginia is undertaking by pursuing off-shore oil drilling.  Like me, I don’t think he’s anti-drilling in general.  It’s just that it doesn’t make any sense for Virginia when you compare the risks – oil spills, threat to tourism, etc. –  against the relatively small benefits of the oil royalties (which aren’t even assured, remember).   Virginia’s off-shore drilling is primarily a political slogan, and not a choice born of a policy-driven debate.  That should be remembered in the face of the risk of the very real costs it could impose.

Digital Due Process

For reasons quite related to my previous post, this Digital Due Process effort is a step in the right direction:

As part of a broad coalition of privacy groups, think tanks, technology companies, and academics, the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) today issued recommendations for strengthening the federal privacy law [the Electronic Communications Privacy Act of 1986] that regulates government access to private phone and Internet communications and records, including cell phone location data.

It’s an interesting coalition of rights-advocates (who are focused on the privacy of the individual) and businesses (which would benefit from more clarity in the law insofar as it 1) reduces their costs in dealing with legal uncertainties, and 2) creates more confidence in cloud-based services). Specifically, they want to:

The group’s four recommendations focus on how to update the Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA), a law originally passed in 1986 before the World Wide Web was invented and when the number of American cell phone users numbered in the tens of thousands rather than the hundreds of millions. The group recommends that the legal standards under which the government can obtain private communications and records be clarified and strengthened in order to:

* Better protect the privacy of communications and documents you store in the cloud

* Better protect you against secret tracking of your location through your cell phone or any other mobile device

* Better protect you against secret monitoring of when and with whom you communicate over the telephone or the Internet

* Better protect innocent Americans against government fishing expeditions through masses of communications data unrelated to a criminal suspect

This is going to be a long-term project, and I think we can expect a lot of pushback from law enforcement (both declared and those in the intelligence fields who would rather exploit the existing grey areas).  But it’s a positive move.

Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution

Jamie Oliver‘s Food Revolution is available on Hulu.com. I’m not really a fan of “reality tv”, and the premise – that a Brit can help out a West Virginia town by showing them what’s good for them – is more than a little eye-rolling, but I still think this might be something worth watching.

HCR: What Made It In, What Didn’t?

Here’s a very good summary of the various differences between the House and Senate HCR bills, and how they were sorted out. I didn’t realize that undocumented immigrants were prohibited from buying (unsubsidized) insurance through the exchanges. Insistence on its inclusion just exposes the lie that this is about costs. Rather, it’s about being spiteful (a guiding philosophy for many, to be sure). The entire thing is worth a read, especially in light of all the lies that are being passed around (and will continue to be, even after this is passed and we see that none of the previous lies were true).

REAL ID, Version . . .

what version are we on, again? Whatever it is, here’s another increment:

Under the potentially controversial plan still taking shape in the Senate, all legal U.S. workers, including citizens and immigrants, would be issued an ID card with embedded information, such as fingerprints, to tie the card to the worker.

The ID card plan is one of several steps advocates of an immigration overhaul are taking to address concerns that have defeated similar bills in the past.

The uphill effort to pass a bill is being led by Sens. Chuck Schumer (D., N.Y.) and Lindsey Graham (R., S.C.), who plan to meet with President Barack Obama as soon as this week to update him on their work. An administration official said the White House had no position on the biometric card.

I don’t think this will get terribly far (in the near future, that is), but it’s worth keeping an eye on.

KRS-One (Or, How to Tell the London Metro Police to Bugger Off)

Knowledge Reigns Supreme-Over nearly everyone (bet you weren’t expecting that):

YouTube Preview Image

As describe at BB:

Glyn sez, “The Love Police do an amazing job demonstrating how to get out of being searched under section 44 of the Terrorism Act. Stopped by police outside the Tower of London, they avoid being searched, having to give their personal details and having their camera film looked at simply by stating the law, remaining calm and polite. (Although keeping the video camera rolling probably helped too.) The police sent an Inspector (rather senior), two Sergeants, five officers and four police cars. But in the end they walk away.”

We need more of this.  Desperately.

Page 3 of 35

Powered by WordPress & Theme by Anders Norén