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Profile Information

Name: Chris Bastian
Gender: Male
Hometown: Brooklyn, NY
Home country: USA
Member since: 2002
Number of posts: 85,477

Journal Archives

Live from New York, it's.....


Seattle's bleak downtown light-rail stations have nowhere to go but up

Mass Transit

Mar. 19—Thousands of passengers who enter the Downtown Seattle Transit Tunnel learned a while ago to sidestep broken escalators marked by yellow barricades, avoid the fentanyl smokers huddled outside certain entrances and take shallow breaths inside fetid elevators.

They've endured service shutdowns, like the electrical flaw in the emergency ventilation fans Feb. 14 that closed all four downtown stations all day.

On rare occasions, transit users have suffered assaults, the worst a year ago when a random attacker threw a nurse down a staircase at the International District/Chinatown Station. Passengers encounter people in mental health crises, unsure whether to get help or steer clear.

Westlake Station, a central hub where 13,000 riders a day boarded Sound Transit light rail before COVID-19, has lost one-third of its customers. Office vacancies and work-from-home are the main reasons, but officials admit more people would ride if downtown stations were pleasant.

The homelessness/crime issue in downtown Seattle is real, not some fantasy story cooked up by businesses looking to close downtown stores.

"Arest Biden Not Trump".....

Politico: Senate absences multiply headaches for both parties

The last time all 100 senators were on the floor voting together was more than seven months ago. And it’s starting to take a toll on both parties.

This Congress features one of history’s oldest Senates, a fact that’s fueled ongoing debate about gerontocracy in government. Yet it’s not just age keeping one member — and sometimes six or more — from the floor: Blame a confluence of illnesses, family matters and impending retirements dating well into last year.

Just last week, five senators missed every vote, with several out for extended absences. And it doesn’t look like all 100 senators will be back this week.

It’s not an idle matter, either: Both parties’ attendance issues are affecting Senate business, from crucial floor votes to the mundane business of committee hearings. The Senate last had all 100 members in attendance on Aug. 7, when Democrats passed their party-line energy, health care and tax bill.


It's been suggested that President Macron could lose his office due to a no confidence vote....

....after forcing through his retirement age change. This is not true.

If you bother to read the Constitution of France, you will understand that there are two components: the "President" and the "Government".

The PRESIDENT is elected directly by the people and serves a fixed term of five years, with the possibility of re-election to a second term (Article 6)

The GOVERNMENT is the legislative National Assembly and Senate, led by a Prime Minister appointed by the President (Article 8). The Government can be dissolved upon a no confidence vote resulting in the PM tendering the Government's resignation. Upon dissolution, new elections for the National Assembly and Senate will be held within 20-40 days (Article 12). However, the President remains in office.

Polish Ambassador to France: Poland will be forced to enter war if Ukraine fails to defend itself

Source: Ukrainska Pravda

Poland’s Ambassador to France Jan Emeryk Rościszewski said in an interview that a situation could arise in which Poland would have to enter the war. The embassy urged audiences to refrain from sensationalising his words.

Quote from Rościszewski: "It is not NATO, Poland or Slovakia that are mounting ever more pressure, but Russia, which has invaded Ukraine. Russia, which is seizing its territories. Russia, which is killing its people. And Russia, which is abducting Ukrainian children.

Therefore, either Ukraine will defend its independence today, or we will have to enter this conflict. Because our main values, which were the basis of our civilization and our culture will be threatened. Therefore, we will have no choice but to enter the conflict."

Details: Following the ambassador’s remark, Poland’s Embassy in France issued a statement saying that it has been interpreted by some media "out of context".

Read more: https://www.yahoo.com/news/polish-ambassador-france-poland-forced-201021342.html

I think people are going to be disappointed with what happens....

I'm seeing such over the top predictions and hopes that, between the relative lowness of the likely charges (compared to the Federal investigation) and the procedural blandness of the indictment process, its going to be very hard to meet expectations.

Former Goldman Sachs CEO Blankfein says US banking crisis will slow growth


WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Former Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein said on Sunday the banking crisis in the United States was going to expedite overall credit tightening and slow the U.S. economy.

"It is a certainty that this will - that this situation will cause - will act in a way that’s similar to a rate rise in some ways. Banks will have to, you know, because of the tension, because of the pressure and uncertainties, banks will husband their equity," Blankfein told CNN in an interview on Sunday.

"They'll do less lending on the deposits they have. And so already there's going to be less credit. Less credit means less growth. So, some of the mission of the Fed in trying to slow the economy will be done here," the former Goldman Sachs CEO added.

Financial stocks lost billions of dollars in value since Silicon Valley Bank and Signature Bank collapsed earlier in March. U.S. President Joe Biden said on Friday the banking crisis has calmed down. He also told Americans that their deposits are safe.

Set It and Actually Forget It (Retirement Accounts)

New York Times

The Center for Retirement Research at Boston College estimates that about 21 million vested retirement accounts in the United States are inactive, meaning that they are eligible to be tapped but sit dormant instead. The same researchers calculated in 2018 that the average value of assets in these inactive accounts was about $60,000, with a median amount of about $15,000, based on data from the U.S. Census Bureau and the Department of Labor. That’s an amount of money most people can’t afford to lose.

“The numbers cannot show if these accounts are truly forgotten, or if people do plan to access the money someday,” said Laura Quinby, a senior research economist with the Center for Retirement Research. “What we do know, though, is that a lot of people lose track of their retirement savings when they switch jobs, so they might not remember that it’s there.”

If you’ve ever tried to roll over a retirement account, you can probably relate. I had several different jobs at the beginning of my career, all of which offered 401(k) benefits. By the time I reached my 30s, I was dimly aware that I had three separate retirement accounts (all containing paltry amounts) floating around with former employers. Figuring out how to retrieve and consolidate them took days of phone calls, paperwork and coordination with different financial firms.

Understandably, many people never get that far. “People have busy lives and other interests. They don’t have the degree of financial literacy that would make them comfortable engaging with their retirement accounts,” said Steven Holman, who helps oversee record-keeping and asset management at Vanguard, a company that provides investment management and retirement account services for more than 30 million clients. “There’s a lot of fear and hassle involved, so it’s easier to avoid it.” The recent market volatility stemming from the collapse of Silicon Valley Bank doesn’t exactly stoke enthusiasm for financial planning, either.

Who let the dogs out (of their seatbelts)? Florida bill bans dogs sniffing out of car windows

Palm Beach Post

A bill filed with the Florida Legislature would allow drivers to be ticketed for allowing dogs to stick their heads out of moving vehicles.

This is bound to be very unpopular with dogs, perhaps the worst news ever, unless there’s some anti butt-sniffing provisions buried in some other canine bill.

The dogs-in-seat-belts legislation has been filed by Florida Sen. Lauren Book, D-Plantation, as part of an animal welfare bill that also bans the declawing of cats, except for “therapeutic cases.”

I've long considered the impulse of dogs to stick their heads out of moving vehicles as a kind of therapy. Aroma therapy, maybe.

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