What war?

Originally posted on Tumblr.

The Boston Herald recently claimed in several articles that the city has taken the side of cyclists in a CAR-BIKE WAR, citing a discrepancy between the number of citations issued to motorists compared to warnings* issued to cyclists.  Obviously, there are a great many more cars in the city committing violations; just over 1% of daily trips in Boston are bicycle trips. That police are stopping cyclists for any violations is actually a new phenomenon; that is to say, the city has upped its enforcement of cyclist behavior significantly.

Meanwhile, the Boston Globe reports the number of speeding tickets issued in Boston dropped by nearly half from 2008 to 2009, in line with a state-wide trend.  Part of the drop in tickets issued is probably related to decreased driving because of gas prices and unemployment.  I’ve been digging around for data without finding a year-to-year comparison of vehicle miles traveled or number of trips in the city without success, but suffice it to say I doubt decreased driving can explain all of the trend.  The Globe focuses on recent changes in police practice.  According to the police and officials interviewed for the article, police departments are assigning fewer officers to traffic duty because of staffing cuts, leading to fewer stops.  And even when they do make stops, cops are favoring warnings over tickets because they worry about burdening someone who may already be in tight financial spot because of the poor state of the economy.  In other words, police believe they have had to decrease their enforcement of motorist behavior over the past few years.

The Globe also reports that speeding is a factor in about one third of fatal crashes nationally.

This is to say nothing of the fact that the Herald didn’t bother to check how much money government spends on driving vs. cycling in Boston, or consider to what degree the entire layout of the city is oriented around cars or bikes when proclaiming the Menino administration had taken up arms with the terrorists bikers.  Or that the entire idea of there being a “war” is ridiculous.  Finding a few folks in cars willing to complain about bikes does not an armed conflict make.  Lots of people who drive complain about all sorts of things about driving – I am one of those people!  Drivers complain about pedestrians, rotaries, traffic lights, taxis, buses, and, most of all, traffic.  Is there a war between cars AND OTHER CARS?  Have I been drafted into several conflicts, and to competing sides, without knowing it?

I have not, obviously.  It’s in the interest of a conservative outlet like the Herald to scream “Culture War” at every opportunity.  Their best hope to stay profitable is to spread divisiveness, to feed on fear and resentment.  But what we actually have is a city full or road users who often come into conflict.  A lot of drivers are jealous/resentful/angry/scared of bikers, but this is no zero-sum game.  Changes in transportation policy are not dropped bombs; the fact that I bike these streets does much less to harm your commute than you tell yourself. The urge to paint as broad a swath of your community as enemies needing to be eliminated – in this case by getting cyclists off the street, which is the ultimate goal – is a disgusting habit, to put it mildly.

Pete has more on this, and I recommend reading it.  One statistic he has is worth drawing attention to.  In one ten-month period in Boston, there were eight reported “interactions” between pedestrians and cyclists, and 600 between pedestrians and motor vehicles.

– – – – – – –

*The Cyclist Safety Bill of a couple of years ago made a change to the law that, inadvertently, makes it difficult for the government to actually collect on tickets issued to cyclists.  Police departments in the city have also opted to use warnings so that the “crackdown” serves as educational outreach in a city that is seeing growing numbers of cyclists.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

"WASHINGTON — The FBI is giving significant new powers to its roughly 14,000 agents, allowing them…"

“WASHINGTON — The FBI is giving significant new powers to its roughly 14,000 agents, allowing them more leeway to search databases, go through household trash, or use surveillance teams to scrutinize the lives of people who have attracted their attention.”

(via The Boston Globe “Rules eased on snooping by the FBI”)

I guess at this point I’m mostly surprised there are rules left to ease.  The Bureau’s general counsel assures everyone that the problems of national security letters have been fixed, so that’s a relief.

Posted in intherainyseasonnews | Leave a comment

"WASHINGTON — The FBI is giving significant new powers to its roughly 14,000 agents, allowing them…"

“WASHINGTON — The FBI is giving significant new powers to its roughly 14,000 agents, allowing them more leeway to search databases, go through household trash, or use surveillance teams to scrutinize the lives of people who have attracted their attention.”

(via The Boston Globe “Rules eased on snooping by the FBI”)

I guess at this point I’m mostly surprised there are rules left to ease.  The Bureau’s general counsel assures everyone that the problems of national security letters have been fixed, so that’s a relief.

Posted in intherainyseasonnews | Leave a comment

"For example, on May 24, 2011, a Virginia Circuit Court refused to reverse the expulsion of a…"

“For example, on May 24, 2011, a Virginia Circuit Court refused to reverse the expulsion of a 14-year-old honor student charged under a school zero tolerance policy with “violent criminal conduct” and possession of a weapon for shooting plastic “spitballs” at classmates. This young man was eventually faced with three assault and battery charges as a result of three students being hit on the arms by the spitballs. Despite the fact that the judge acknowledged the school’s punishment to be overreaching, he refused to intervene, essentially washing his hands of the matter and leaving it to the schools to act as they see fit. Don’t miss a beat – get Truthout Daily Email Updates. Click here to sign up for free. Two days later, on May 26, the US Supreme Court—the highest court in the land, in a devastating ruling that could very well do away with what little Fourth Amendment protections remain to public school students and their families, threw out a lower court ruling in “Alford v. Greene” which required government authorities to secure a warrant, a court order or parental consent before interrogating students at school. The ramifications are far-reaching, rendering public school students as wards of the state. Once again, the courts sided with law enforcement against the rights of the people. That night, in a race against the clock, Congress pushed through a four-year extension of three controversial provisions in the USA Patriot Act that authorize the government to use aggressive surveillance tactics in the so-called war against terror. Since being enacted in 2001, the Patriot Act has driven a stake through the heart of the Bill of Rights, violating at least six of the ten original amendments—the First, Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, Seventh and Eighth Amendments—and possibly the Thirteenth and Fourteenth Amendments, as well. The Patriot Act has also redefined terrorism so broadly that many non-terrorist political activities such as protest marches, demonstrations and civil disobedience are considered potential terrorist acts, thereby rendering anyone desiring to engage in protected First Amendment expressive activities as suspects of the surveillance state. Under the Patriot Act, for the first time in American history, federal agents and police officers are authorized to conduct black bag “sneak-and-peak” searches of homes and offices and confiscate your personal property without first notifying you of their intent or their presence. The law also grants the FBI the right to come to your place of employment, demand your personal records and question your supervisors and fellow employees, all without notifying you; allows the government access to your medical records, school records and practically every personal record about you; and allows the government to secretly demand to see records of books or magazines you’ve checked out in any public library and Internet sites you’ve visited (at least 545 libraries received such demands in the first year following passage of the Patriot Act).”

One Week in the Life of a Police State | Truthout (via radicallyhottoff)

Posted in intherainyseasonnews | Leave a comment

"For example, on May 24, 2011, a Virginia Circuit Court refused to reverse the expulsion of a…"

“For example, on May 24, 2011, a Virginia Circuit Court refused to reverse the expulsion of a 14-year-old honor student charged under a school zero tolerance policy with “violent criminal conduct” and possession of a weapon for shooting plastic “spitballs” at classmates. This young man was eventually faced with three assault and battery charges as a result of three students being hit on the arms by the spitballs. Despite the fact that the judge acknowledged the school’s punishment to be overreaching, he refused to intervene, essentially washing his hands of the matter and leaving it to the schools to act as they see fit. Don’t miss a beat – get Truthout Daily Email Updates. Click here to sign up for free. Two days later, on May 26, the US Supreme Court—the highest court in the land, in a devastating ruling that could very well do away with what little Fourth Amendment protections remain to public school students and their families, threw out a lower court ruling in “Alford v. Greene” which required government authorities to secure a warrant, a court order or parental consent before interrogating students at school. The ramifications are far-reaching, rendering public school students as wards of the state. Once again, the courts sided with law enforcement against the rights of the people. That night, in a race against the clock, Congress pushed through a four-year extension of three controversial provisions in the USA Patriot Act that authorize the government to use aggressive surveillance tactics in the so-called war against terror. Since being enacted in 2001, the Patriot Act has driven a stake through the heart of the Bill of Rights, violating at least six of the ten original amendments—the First, Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, Seventh and Eighth Amendments—and possibly the Thirteenth and Fourteenth Amendments, as well. The Patriot Act has also redefined terrorism so broadly that many non-terrorist political activities such as protest marches, demonstrations and civil disobedience are considered potential terrorist acts, thereby rendering anyone desiring to engage in protected First Amendment expressive activities as suspects of the surveillance state. Under the Patriot Act, for the first time in American history, federal agents and police officers are authorized to conduct black bag “sneak-and-peak” searches of homes and offices and confiscate your personal property without first notifying you of their intent or their presence. The law also grants the FBI the right to come to your place of employment, demand your personal records and question your supervisors and fellow employees, all without notifying you; allows the government access to your medical records, school records and practically every personal record about you; and allows the government to secretly demand to see records of books or magazines you’ve checked out in any public library and Internet sites you’ve visited (at least 545 libraries received such demands in the first year following passage of the Patriot Act).”

One Week in the Life of a Police State | Truthout (via radicallyhottoff)

Posted in intherainyseasonnews | Leave a comment

"So the presidential calendar becomes another cause of what Edward Glaeser, a conservative-leaning…"

“So the presidential calendar becomes another cause of what Edward Glaeser, a conservative-leaning Harvard economist, calls our “anti-urban policy bias.” Suburbs and rural areas receive vastly more per-person federal largess than cities. One big reason, of course, is the structure of the Senate: the 12 million residents of Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina have eight United States senators among them, while the 81 million residents of California, New York and Texas have only six.”

One Person, One Vote? NYT

Posted in intherainyseasonnews | Leave a comment

"For a time, it seemed that the Internet was going to redemocratize society. Bloggers and citizen…"

“For a time, it seemed that the Internet was going to redemocratize society. Bloggers and citizen journalists would single-handedly rebuild the public media. Politicians would only be able to run with a broad base of support from small, everyday donors. Local governments would become more transparent and accountable to their citizens. And yet that era of civic connection hasn’t come.”

(good.is)

Because I buy into this romantic vision a bit, I find it important to remind myself that the internet is not living up to its democratizing potential, which perhaps should not be surprising.

Posted in intherainyseasonnews | Leave a comment

FABULOUS PRIZES in exchange for PHOTOGRAPHS

The good folk over at the Boston Cyclists Union are having a photo contest for bike month.  Send ‘em a picture of something bikey and Bostony and you may be rewarded with gift cards, t-shirts, or even free bike tours.  And, obvs, heck of bragging rights.

Posted in intherainyseasonnews | Leave a comment

FABULOUS PRIZES in exchange for PHOTOGRAPHS

The good folk over at the Boston Cyclists Union are having a photo contest for bike month.  Send ‘em a picture of something bikey and Bostony and you may be rewarded with gift cards, t-shirts, or even free bike tours.  And, obvs, heck of bragging rights.

Posted in intherainyseasonnews | Leave a comment

Sady Doyle: "The measure, H.R. 3, passed on a 251-to-175 party line vote, with 16 Democrats joining all Republicans present to vote…

Sady Doyle: “The measure, H.R. 3, passed on a 251-to-175 party line vote, with 16 Democrats joining all Republicans present to vote…:

sadydoyle:

I repeat: “The measure, H.R. 3, passed on a 251-to-175 party line vote, with 16 Democrats joining all Republicans present to vote ‘aye.’”

Sixteen.

And, like: It will probably be defeated in the Senate. Folks have already announced that the President will “be urged” to veto.

But, still.

This shit makes me seething mad.  Do you give money to the Dems?  Do you vote for ‘em?  Make sure they know that this is unacceptable.  The right of every American to control over her own body is non-negotiable. 

On a related note: http://bowlathon.nnaf.org/nnafbowl/fundevent.asp?nnaffundid=14&eventid=22

Posted in intherainyseasonnews | 1 Comment