Los Angeles

A lesson for Auckland on rail, from California

Politicians, mostly of the left, love train sets. They must have been deprived as children with their parents refusing them Thomas the Tank Engine toys.

In California the state has been funding a massive boondoggle, a high-speed train between San Francisco and Los Angeles.

California’s high-speed rail project increasingly looks like an expensive social science experiment to test just how long interest groups can keep money flowing to a doomed endeavor before elected officials finally decide to cancel it. What combination of sweet-sounding scenarios, streamlined mockups, ever-changing and mind-numbing technical detail, and audacious spin will keep the dream alive?

Sold to the public in 2008 as a visionary plan to whisk riders along at 220 miles an hour, making the trip from San Francisco to Los Angeles in a little over two and a half hours, the project promised to attract most of the necessary billions from private investors, to operate without ongoing subsidies and to charge fares low enough to make it competitive with cheap flights. With those assurances, 53.7 percent of voters said yes to a $9.95 billion bond referendum to get the project started. But the assurances were at best wishful thinking, at worst an elaborate con.

Like all train proposals it is a massive con.   Read more »

As much at home writing editorials as being the subject of them, Cam has won awards, including the Canon Media Award for his work on the Len Brown/Bevan Chuang story. When he’s not creating the news, he tends to be in it, with protagonists using the courts, media and social media to deliver financial as well as death threats.

They say that news is something that someone, somewhere, wants kept quiet. Cam Slater doesn’t do quiet and, as a result, he is a polarising, controversial but highly effective journalist who takes no prisoners.

He is fearless in his pursuit of a story.

Love him or loathe him, you can’t ignore him.

To read Cam’s previous articles click on his name in blue.

Photo Of The Day

Elizabeth Short was known by various names: "Betty" (or "Bette"), "Beth" and, at least to some of her friends, "The Black Dahlia."

Elizabeth Short was known by various names: “Betty” (or “Bette”), “Beth” and, at least to some of her friends, “The Black Dahlia.”

She Was A Good Girl

She Was A Good Girl!

Phoebe Short

After identifying the remains of her daughter, Elizabeth (“Betty”) Short

Los Angeles, California

Jan. 15, 1947: The mutilated remains of 22-year-old Elizabeth Short are found in Los Angeles. Her murder remains unsolved.

There’s never been a shortage of suspects in the Black Dahlia murder — but police have never been able to pin the crime on any of them.

After the mutilated body of 22-year-old Elizabeth Short — cut in half at the waist and drained of blood — was found in a vacant Los Angeles lot on this day, Jan. 15, in 1947, dozens of people confessed to killing the woman who newspapers dubbed “the Black Dahlia.”

It became the most sensational murder story in a city rife with sensational murders, and fame-seekers all over town wanted to play a part. Over the years, the number of people claiming responsibility grew to hundreds, most of whom detectives ruled out almost immediately.

One promising admission came a few weeks after the murder, from an Army corporal who said he had been drinking with Short in San Francisco a few days before her body was discovered — then blacked out, with no memory of his activity until he came to again in a cab outside New York’s Penn Station. (Short, an aspiring movie star, had a fondness for servicemen, according to The Black Dahlia, the James Ellroy novel based on her murder.)

Asked if he thought he had committed the murder, the corporal said yes, and became a prime suspect until evidence emerged that he had actually been on his military base the day of Short’s death.

Then there was the woman who became convinced — in 1991, after therapy chipped away at 40-year-old repressed memories — that her late father was the murderer. Police dug up the yard of her childhood home, where she believed they’d find his weapons or the remains of other victims. They did find a rusty knife, farm tools, and costume jewelry — but no evidence to tie him to the Black Dahlia case or any other murders.

Read more »

Child marriage in Bangladesh, through the eyes of a runaway bride-to-be

Tania Rashid is a freelance correspondent and producer for Al Jazeera’s 101 East, and she narrowly escaped becoming a child-bride while living in America. Tania is one of very few girls from Bangladesh who has been able to escape her arranged marriage. Child marriage is illegal in Bangladesh but it still has the highest rate of child marriage for girls under the age of 15 in the world.

When I was a little girl growing up in Bangladesh, my mother would tell me that going to school was okay, but if I didn’t do well, she would marry me off to a rich older man who could take care of me. It is many years later, but those words still affect me.

She wasn’t the only family member trying to marry me off young.

My grandfather had plans for me to marry my first cousin who was 20 years older than me, but he passed away before he could make it happen. All of this marriage talk is part of a deep-rooted tradition to keep women under control and maintain family honour.

Read more »

If you agree with me that’s nice, but what I really want to achieve is to make you question the status quo, look between the lines and do your own research. Do not be a passive observer in this game we call life.

You can follow me on Gab.ai 

To read my previous articles click on my name in blue.

Freedom of speech for some but not others.

We have already posted a number of  articles containing New Zealand examples of anti-semitism which is hostility towards, or prejudice against Jews.

My criticism of Islam on this blog has been called Islamophobia and racism by others but I am not hostile towards Muslim New Zealanders nor am I prejudiced towards them. I disagree strongly with the laws and oppressive rules of Islam but I do not abuse Muslims either verbally or in writing. When I see Muslim women in Burkas I feel sorry for them. It upsets me that they do not enjoy equal rights as I do inside New Zealand.

Lisa Marie Mendez, a University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) student and employee at the UCLA Medical Center, has made her extreme distaste for “fucking Zionist pigs” crystal clear this past month in her rant against Jews on Facebook. Mendez’s racist comments in response to a pro-Israel Facebook post by Jewish actress Mayim Bialik, were picked up by a UCLA student and publicized to the UCLA community

Ms Mendez has not been censored in any way for her hate-filled and abusive comments yet so called Islamophobic comments have cost other people their jobs.

Read more »

If you agree with me that’s nice, but what I really want to achieve is to make you question the status quo, look between the lines and do your own research. Do not be a passive observer in this game we call life.

You can follow me on Gab.ai 

To read my previous articles click on my name in blue.

Photo Of The Day

Joni and Nash

Crazy Love

Graham Nash first met Joni Mitchell after a Hollies gig – within months he left the band and moved in with her in LA.

‘Come to my house and I’ll take care of you’: Graham Nash on his romance with Joni Mitchell, and making music with Crosby and Stills

It was August 1968, and the Hollies and I had come to an impasse. We had grown up together and enjoyed incredible success, but we were growing apart.

The same with my marriage: Rosie was off in Spain chasing another man, and I was in Los Angeles, the city that already felt like my new home, to visit Joni Mitchell, who had captured my heart. For just a moment, I hesitated. Sure, I was an English rock star – I had it made. I had co-written a fantastic string of hits with The Hollies. I was friends with the Stones and The Beatles.

You could hear me whistle at the end of All You Need Is Love. But deep down, I was still just a kid from the north of England, and I felt I was out of my element.

Suddenly, Joni was at the door and nothing else mattered. She was the whole package: a lovely, sylphlike woman with a natural blush, like windburn, and an elusive quality that seemed lit from within. Behind her, at the dining room table, were my new American friends David Crosby and Stephen Stills – refugees, like me, from successful, broken bands. I grinned the moment I laid eyes on them.

Read more »

Please don’t show Len or Auckland Transport this

la-me-parking-sign-photo-20150403

Parking fines have rocketed in Los Angeles, and so the Mayor and the council have launched new “informative” signs that supposedly are more helpful regarding parking enforcement.

Squinting out a car window to decipher a stack of pole-bound parking signs is one of L.A.’s more annoying experiences.

That could change starting this weekend, with the launch of a new sign aimed at making parking restrictions easier to understand. The chart-like sign features a series of green and red blocks that represent when parking is allowed, and when cars will be ticketed or towed.   Read more »

As much at home writing editorials as being the subject of them, Cam has won awards, including the Canon Media Award for his work on the Len Brown/Bevan Chuang story. When he’s not creating the news, he tends to be in it, with protagonists using the courts, media and social media to deliver financial as well as death threats.

They say that news is something that someone, somewhere, wants kept quiet. Cam Slater doesn’t do quiet and, as a result, he is a polarising, controversial but highly effective journalist who takes no prisoners.

He is fearless in his pursuit of a story.

Love him or loathe him, you can’t ignore him.

To read Cam’s previous articles click on his name in blue.

Failure of fast food ban on South L.A.

The Doug Sellman’s and Boyd Swinburn’s of this world want sugar taxes, bans on fast food and labelling of what they call “unhealthy” products.

The main problem, apart from their control freak nature, is that they don’t work in combatting obesity.

The evidence is there for all to see.

The national discourse about health and obesity has never been a particularly cordial conversation.

In 2008, it hit a tendentious peak when a ban on new fast-food restaurants in South Los Angeles brought the term “food apartheid” to the table. The ordinance, which was implemented in a part of the city that is both disproportionately poor and obese, came as a response to the idea that there are two different systems for accessing food in Los Angeles, one with more limited options in an economically depressed part of the city that is predominantly black and Latino, and the other with more variety in more affluent neighborhoods.

Ban this, block that…no bottle stores near schools, stop fast food joints opening up…never is there a though about personal choice in the matter. Sugar taxes and bans and plain packaging will work they tell us.

Yeah, nah.

[T]he South Los Angeles ban was unprecedented in that it was the first to connect a policy to the obesity epidemic. The ordinance didn’t shutter existing restaurants, but it did block construction of new stand-alone fast-food restaurants in an area with 700,000 residents. (That’s a population that, if separated from the rest of Los Angeles, would still make one of the U.S.’s 20 largest cities.) The effort also dovetailed with an initiative to encourage supermarkets and stores with presumably healthier fare to move in.

Read more »

As much at home writing editorials as being the subject of them, Cam has won awards, including the Canon Media Award for his work on the Len Brown/Bevan Chuang story. When he’s not creating the news, he tends to be in it, with protagonists using the courts, media and social media to deliver financial as well as death threats.

They say that news is something that someone, somewhere, wants kept quiet. Cam Slater doesn’t do quiet and, as a result, he is a polarising, controversial but highly effective journalist who takes no prisoners.

He is fearless in his pursuit of a story.

Love him or loathe him, you can’t ignore him.

To read Cam’s previous articles click on his name in blue.

Why self-driving cars and not rail is the solution

The Atlantic has been investigating California’s highly expensive and likely to be a white elephant project, the High Speed Rail solution.

As part of their investigation they have looked at the promise of self-driving cars…which in a direct comparison shows precisely why train-spotting projects like Len Brown’s rail loop and California’s HSP solution are nothing but boondoggles costing rate and taxpayers billions.

First, self-driving cars. I turn the floor over to a reader in California whose identity and background I know. He works in the advanced-research parts of the info-tech industry and did his bachelor’s and doctoral training at Caltech and MIT. He says:

Your series on High Speed Rail is under-emphasizing an important aspect of the big picture.

Should we invest in infrastructure? Absolutely!  But the right kind of infrastructure.

The technology and accompanying infrastructure creating the greatest impact today and over the past 30 years has been not just big scale physical stuff, but the brains coordinating and controlling physical stuff—specifically, computing and communication.    Read more »

As much at home writing editorials as being the subject of them, Cam has won awards, including the Canon Media Award for his work on the Len Brown/Bevan Chuang story. When he’s not creating the news, he tends to be in it, with protagonists using the courts, media and social media to deliver financial as well as death threats.

They say that news is something that someone, somewhere, wants kept quiet. Cam Slater doesn’t do quiet and, as a result, he is a polarising, controversial but highly effective journalist who takes no prisoners.

He is fearless in his pursuit of a story.

Love him or loathe him, you can’t ignore him.

To read Cam’s previous articles click on his name in blue.

Photo Of The Day

This legendary 1973 photo by Bob Gruen of Led Zeppelin standing in front of their own “Led Zeppelin Airplane” helped make the band bigger than life.

This legendary 1973 photo by Bob Gruen of Led Zeppelin standing in front of their own “Led Zeppelin Airplane” helped make the band bigger than life.

“The Starship”

Read more »

They fry birds now they are a hazard to aircraft…welcome to green energy

Birds are being fried by the new solar plant in California and now the massive plant is blinding pilots…not sure this green energy malarky is working so well.

Airplane pilots cruising over southern California have been complaining about a “nearly blinding” glare emanating from a massive government-funded solar thermal facility.

The Ivanpah solar energy plant in San Bernardino County is the world’s largest solar thermal plant and has 173,500 large mirrors that reflect sunlight onto boilers in three 459-foot towers. A feat of modern engineering — to green energy advocates, but a flying hazard to pilots.

The Federal Aviation Administration’s Aviation Safety Reporting System (ASRS) got two anonymous complaints in August that mentioned a “blinding glare” coming from the Ivanpah solar facility. One complaint came from a Los Angeles air traffic controller and the other from a small transport plane pilot that took off from an airport in Boulder City, Nevada.

“The FAA is aware of potential glare from solar plants and is exploring how to best alert pilots to the issue,” an FAA spokesman told The Daily Caller News Foundation.  Read more »

As much at home writing editorials as being the subject of them, Cam has won awards, including the Canon Media Award for his work on the Len Brown/Bevan Chuang story. When he’s not creating the news, he tends to be in it, with protagonists using the courts, media and social media to deliver financial as well as death threats.

They say that news is something that someone, somewhere, wants kept quiet. Cam Slater doesn’t do quiet and, as a result, he is a polarising, controversial but highly effective journalist who takes no prisoners.

He is fearless in his pursuit of a story.

Love him or loathe him, you can’t ignore him.

To read Cam’s previous articles click on his name in blue.