Thursday, April 29, 2010

Rode the 5000 series train on the Red Line!!!

Photo of a 5000 series car by Ben Meyerson.
I just want to mention this video by YouTube user msibnsf featuring the first day of passenger service of the 5000-series cars.

This was on Monday afternoon. I took a run in the late morning and then took a run from Howard Street all the way back to 95th Street. I have some thoughts to note!

First I noticed how the train will literally kneel to the platform at certain stops. On any other train you would literally have to step down off the train. Of course this isn't perfect as at certain stops you still have to step down onto the train. Of course this isn't treated like it's a whole stair on or off the train.

Second, the ride is certainly a lot quieter. You would have listen hard to hear the rumbles of the train wheels. This might mean for a smoother right however at times you would still feel the jerkiness of the ride especially if you were riding on the Dan Ryan line

The other innovations I like are the fact that you can see a map that will light up the point for the next stop. Also the LED screens that not only show you the stops but also the time and other information such as letting passengers know of delays and information with regards to the rules and regulations of the CTA.

I was trying to get pictures but wasn't bold enough to take any. Especially on either ends of the CTA Red Line. I hope this review is enough.

I would suggest however that you view this video taken on the first day the 5000 series cars began passenger service.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Since we're on the subject of sports from yesterday...

Click the old school Black Hawks logo to the official NHL Playoffs page
I saw the final period of game 5 and failed to see a minute of game 6 of the Black Hawks first round playoff series against the Nashville Predators. Monday night, they won game 6 to clinch the series and move on to round two in a rematch against the Vancouver Canucks. The Hawks face the Canucks last year in the second round of the playoffs and moved on to face Detroit in the Western Conference finals where the Hawks were eliminated from the playoffs.

In game 5 on Saturday I almost feared that the Hawks would lose the game. They tied the game in the closing seconds of the 3rd period and scored a goal in sudden death overtime. You can watch highlights from that game here!

Since I never saw Game 6, I'm going to be watching the highlights of that game with you. You can also see that here!

No word yet on when the Hawks/Canucks series will commence. It looks like we have one more game before we wrap up the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs. Even if it is in the Eastern Conference between the Montreal Canadiens and Washington Capitols. The game will commence tonight at 6 PM Chicago time and that series is tied 3-3!

Just found on Chicago Breaking Sports News that the schedule for the Canucks/Hawks series will be announced as soon as the Montreal/Washington series is concluded tonight!

Greg Hinz on sending in National Guard to city's dangerous neighborhoods

Hinz is the political columnist for Crain's Chicago Business in a post published yesterday that discusses a number of news. Of course lately the dominant news here on this blog has been the call by two state Representatives John Fritchey and LaShawn Ford to call on the state Governor and Chicago's Mayor to call for National Guard troops to supplement the city police:
Meanwhile, I have lots of respect for state Rep. John Fritchey, D-Chicago, who I'll credit with good motives for calling over the weekend for the state to send National Guard troops to protect Chicago streets. But it's not a good idea.

Though overall city crime has dropped a lot in the past two decades, the violence level in some neighborhoods remains staggeringly high. But sending a bunch of youngsters with guns from other portions of the state into inner-city neighborhoods is inviting trouble.

Far better to hire more police and deploy them more wisely, if that's what's needed, or to heed Mayor Daley's call to keep guns out of the city.
Well he got one for two conclusions right. Yeah Chicago needs to hire more police officers. But I don't have great faith that we can keep guns out of the city.

I know the feelings people have about guns. All too often over the years we've seen the effect senseless gun violence has on the people it affects, but how is keeping guns out of the city working out. So far it hasn't because those who are determined to have a gun for ill or otherwise have them anyway.

I don't think the issue is with the proliferation of guns in the city. The solution at least on the legal end is harsher penalties for using a gun in the commission of a crime. Of course the penalty for murder is harsh enough which is anywhere up to either death or life in prison. What about those who engage in armed robbery or people who just decide that it's OK to do a drive-by at random.

Instead of punishing the gun let's punish the criminals more!

Besides Fritchey is right. We need to start this discussion on what to do about this violence. The last thing I want is the military strolling up and down city streets. Perhaps we need to discuss decriminalizing drugs and other solutions! We may need to even discuss if banning guns is the solution as well.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Been mulling something

I want to do something in the sidebar in honor of the baseball season. It has gotten nary a mention on this blog and the season is just over two or so weeks old.

It should be known around these parts that I consider myself a Cubs fan. Rarely will I discuss sports here because I just don't follow very well the on-field aspects of any sport. Basically if I do discuss anything it's the business aspects of sports. That is more interesting that the play itself.

That being said I want to really follow the Cubs this year. I just don't want to bore you with my opinions on why the Cubs win or lose or whatever. If nothing else, the only thing you will see here about the Cubs is whether or not they win or lose.

During the course of the season I want to place an image in the sidebar to let you know about how the Cubs are doing. Hopefully I can place it up top and that will mean some more changes in the sidebar. I've got one image to the left in mind to celebrate a Cubs victory, but I have something in mind to mark a Cubs loss. Sadly I know right now that I'm going to have some difficulty finding it.

Either way I hope that if you're a Cubs fan you might be willing to follow along in the sidebar and this will force me to keep track of the Cubs progress during the season. Even if I'm unable to actually watch a game either in person or on TV.

BTW, the Cubs won Monday at Wrigley defeating the Washington Nationals 4-3 in 10 innings!

Media traction for National Guard in Chicago's dangerous neighborhoods


In this video from WGN we see Mayor Daley's and Gov. Quinn's reaction to state Reps John Fritchey and LaShawn Ford's call for National Guard troops to supplement the Chicago Police. You can read this write-up at WGN-TV and this report of the press conference for Fritchey and Ford at Chicago Breaking News.

On Chicago Tonight, state Rep. John Fritchey and Mike Flannery discuss the call to bring in the National Guard to quell Urban Violence.

LaShawn Ford was on The O'Reilly Factor to also discuss his call for National Guard on city streets, but he was also on Studio B. If I find any video of him on The O'Reilly Factor I will post it.

He was also on GML Monday night as well but I'll just link to McClendon's Blog and you can watch the clips there instead!

This story has gotten plenty of traction. It was even Monday's Question of the Day at the Capitol Fax.

And my post over at Mechanics was linked over at Gaper's Block Merge!

Monday, April 26, 2010

Lawmakers want National Guard to handle gun violence in city

Also posted yesterday at Mechanics!

In the past week the 6th Ward has been rocked with violence. Especially painful was the shooting death of a 20-month-old baby who was shot only because the shooter was actually targeting the baby's father!

Today state Representatives LaShawn Ford, John Fritchey released statements calling for Gov. Quinn and Mayor Daley to mobilize the state National Guard to supplement our undermanned police.
State lawmakers are calling on Gov. Pat Quinn and Mayor Daley to deploy the Illinois National Guard in Chicago to deal with continuing gun violence and fatalities here.

The action, in coordination with Chicago Police Superintendent Jody Weis, should be taken as soon as possible to help get guns and criminals off the street, Rep. John Fritchey and Rep. LaShawn Ford, said in released statements today.
"As we speak, National Guard members are working side-by-side with our troops to fight a war halfway around the world," Fritchey said in a statement. "The unfortunate reality is that we have another war that is just as deadly taking place right in our backyard. Is this a drastic call to action? Of course it is. But is it warranted when we are losing residents to gun violence at such an alarming rate? Without question."

So far this year, 113 people have been killed across Chicago -- precisely the same number as the number of U.S. troops killed in Iraq and Afghanistan combined during the same time period, the legislators noted.

They said the National Guard has been deployed in other states to prevent violence related to specific events and protests, but added that they were unaware of guardsmen and women being deployed to assist with general urban unrest.

"Gang activity and its resulting violence has taken a toll on my community for far too long," Ford said in a statement. "The Military Code of Illinois specifically states that it is the duty of the Governor to deploy such force as he deems necessary in order to suppress individuals acting together and committing violence in violation of our laws. Enough is enough. We've already lost too many lives. We need action now."

The legislators noted that 80 percent of city homicide victims are black.

"Candidly, I think that if these shootings were taking place on the north side, we'd be seeing more of an outcry from the community and a more heightened response," said Fritchey. "But regardless of where you live, or where the shootings take place, we must never lose sight that every one of these children that gets shot is somebody's son or somebody's daughter."
Ford and Fritchey emphasize that their call for National Guard troops on city streets are not at all a criticism of the efforts of law enforcement.

In any event according to this article Ford and Fritchey (who is running for a seat on the county board) were expected to have a press conference at noon today. While Police Supt. Jody Weis was expected to hold a press conference at 1 PM today.

Last year (and almost to the day!) I wrote a post [at Mechanics]  about Ed Gardner. Gardner was a prominent business man who founded Soft Sheen Products who wrote a letter to President Obama calling for him to send Federal Troops to quell urban violence.

My stance on that and this is no different today. Not so sure the military is needed to quell this violence. I want to believe we don't need the National Guard on our streets to solve this problem.

To be sure it is a problem! Hopefully the problem won't get worse enough where we will definitely need military assistance to curb any violence in our streets.

For certain however we don't want there to be another Cynia Cole! Hopefully without assistance of the police or the military we can prevent another young child like Cynia from being a victim of senseless violence.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

In the market for a new camcorder

I got my eye on the Flip camera and decided to check out some of the models at a local Best Buy. The cheapest models is between $150 to $200 and at my rate of wages it seems like the most difficult amount for me to get off of if it was something I wanted.

The main reason that I want one is for something that I can use to shoot video on the go. It would be easier to use than a MiniDV camera which is what I currently own now. At least my time won't be wasted by having to load the camera with a tape before I can press record. At least this camera could fit in a pocket at least if I want to conceal it.

Another reason is that this type of camera is less intimidating that a regular video camera. I Googled and article to find that reason. Really this is key if you were a TV journalist and you're carrying around large expensive TV cameras. However I think this is key even for people who like to record video on the go and find that someone may have a problem with them shooting a video.

For right now at least I'm a long way from making a decision. When that purchase is made, expect the news to be posted here and

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Broadway Bank has been closed by federal regulators.

I first got wind of this on Marathon Pundit. Then it turns out that Capitol Fax was keeping track of this story. Chicago News Bench (I prefer to call that blog, "The Bench") gives us a glimpse of the media presence in that neighborhood. In fact a neighborhood blog, Edgewater Community Buzz even has several stories up about the closure of Broadway Bank.

I've been reading about banks in Illinois. Broadway Bank isn't the only bank that has failed in this state, especially on Friday. Not today and not since the economy tanked within the last two or so years.

This is news because a US Senate candidate Alexi Giannoulias was once a loan officer at this bank. It's his family's bank and it was news that our current state treasurer had loaned money to organized crime figures.

Whatever happened my understanding about this story is that this bank had made some risky real estate investments and was without a reserve fund. The bank is now closed because the bank couldn't raise the necessary capital to continue operating.

I do believe that Giannoulis may not have had a hand in the failure of this bank. Whether as an officer or as a mere investor since his family owns this bank. It's only an issue because of his association with this bank and this failure comes at a bad time for sure.

To be sure, most "informed" Illinois voters may be familiar with the allegations that Giannoulias may have loaned money to mobsters. It's been out there since he first ran for state treasurer in 2006. In that year however it may not have mattered as it was a Democratic year and unless he had some other serious dirt he was getting elected that year.

2010 may well turn out to be a different year. Illinois Congressman Mark Kirk may give the state treasurer a run for his money. Even if Kirk may generally be on the outs with the more conservative wing of the Republican party. Even worse this year may not be a huge Democratic year as it was in 2006.

Giannoulias' mentor (well actually basketball buddy) is none other than President Obama, who in 2006 cut an ad for him when he was still a US Senator. Unfortunately, it seems as if the President isn't all that interested in helping out his old mentee. Although it looks like he may be getting some help from the White House in light of this.

Either way I think it's a bad thing that a local bank goes under. Especially a community based bank such as Broadway as it was based on Chicago's North Side. Let's hope that this bank may find itself under local control once again!

Giannoulias responds to bank closure - Capitol Fax

Friday, April 23, 2010

GM to pay off $5.8B bailout loans early

I would very much consider this good news. I'm sure many would use this to say that this only is going to justify future bailouts of failing businesses. Well I would be concerned about that for certain!
General Motors Co. has repaid $8.1 billion in loans it got from the U.S. and Canadian governments, a move its CEO says is a sign automaker is on the road to recovery.

CEO Ed Whitacre announced the repayments Wednesday at GM's Fairfax Assembly Plant in Kansas City, Kan., where he said GM is investing $257 million in that factory and the Detroit-Hamtramck plant. This afternoon, he flies to Washington to meet with top lawmakers.

The White House pointed to GM's repayment of the loan and Chrysler LLC's posting of an operating profit in the first quarter of 2010 as concrete signs that the bailout of the U.S. automakers was working.
Get this!
GM got a total of $52 billion from the U.S. government and $9.5 billion from the Canadian and Ontario governments as it went through bankruptcy protection last year. At first the entire amount of U.S. aid was considered a loan as the government tried to keep GM from going under and pulling the fragile economy into a depression.

But during bankruptcy, the U.S. government reduced the loan portion to $6.7 billion and converted the rest to company stock, while the Canadian governments held $1.4 billion in loans. Those loans were repaid Tuesday, five years ahead of schedule.

The automaker hopes to repay the remaining $45.3 billion to the U.S. government and $8.1 billion to Canada via a public stock offering, perhaps later this year. The U.S. government now owns 61 percent of the company and Canada owns roughly 12 percent.
So GM also got money from Canadian taxpayers as well?

You know the sooner GM is able to pay off it's gov't loans the better. No one was happy about these bailouts and gov't outright owning a business. I just hope that in the future we don't repeat this example.

BTW, while looking for stories on this I found this headline "GM Pays Back TARP, But Unions May Need More" from FOX Business. I almost used this article, however, many may view FOX as having their own bias.
Within five years, they will have to pay $15.7 billion into the carmakers' union pensions to comply with federal funding requirements, ($12.3 billion to GM’s pensions, $3.4 billion to Chrysler’s plans), according to the GAO report.
The problem with the automakers that are struggling right now many are saying rest with the unions they have to work with.

BTW, I would really like to buy that new Cadillac SRV in a newly privatized GM. Just saw that vehicle today although not the whole vehicle. It's really a nicely designed vehicle unlike it's predecessor.

ALSO, when will they bring back either Oldsmobile or Pontiac!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Blagojevich wants to subpoena Obama

Yeah he still can't help himself. Obama might be able to help him to prove his innocences. OMG, please!
In a motion filed Thursday with U.S. District Judge James Zagel, Blagojevich attorney Sam Adam says Obama has direct knowledge of allegations made in the indictment.

It would be extremely unusual for a sitting president to testify at a corruption trial.

A spokesman for the U.S. attorney's office, Randall Samborn, had no comment on the 11-page motion. The filing contained several sections blacked out, apparently because they refer to material that the court has placed under seal.
Not sure Obama can help Blago from the revulsion of his allegations.

UPDATE: Rich Miller again has a round-up of angles on Blago's attempt to drag the President with him!

Ousted governor speaks to reporters about his trial and those wiretaps!

I know I'm late as it was news since Tuesday afternoon. But then it deserves comment especially for the fallout from it. Below is the full press conference although I've only watched select soundbites from it. It's almost six minutes long.

Don't want to watch six minutes of this crap, then you can watch this AP video of what Blago said on Tuesday. You will only be watching close to two minutes of his comments.

Want a round-up, go over and read this post over at the CapFax from Wednesday morning. You can also read this post at Marathon Pundit.

What can I say? From what I have seen he is only replaying the same arguments that he has since after he was arrested and shortly before he was impeached.

This is all about wanting him gone for a tax increase. Blago would have a point if and only if the state was in better financial shape under his administration than it is under Pat Quinn. Unfortunately it wasn't!

According to this post from Breitbart's Big Journalism from approximately four days ago the current financial condition of Illinois wasn't totally Blago's fault. It can be said however that Blago certainly didn't help the situation either!

Oh I almost forgot to add that the federal judge presiding over his federal trial is getting tough with him!
Judge James Zagel cited an example from the world of boxing Wednesday, saying he couldn't allow the legal equivalent of head butts to take place at the trial.

Head butts are considered a dirty tactic in the prize fight ring.

Zagel spoke a day after a news conference at which Blagojevich angrily called prosecutors "cowards and liars" and challenged U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald to come to court and meet him face to face.

Fitzgerald wasn't in court, and Blagojevich's remark wasn't addressed directly at the hearing.
Knowing Blago's history good luck on attempting to reign him in!

Also Rich Miller has another round-up today with more on Blagojevich's comments from Tuesday and more reason why Judge Zagel laid down the law with the Ousted governor:
Blagojevich had challenged U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald to allow the jury to hear every recording made by federal investigators, arguing in fiery remarks Tuesday that they would prove his innocence.

That's not the way it works, U.S. District Judge James Zagel explained, using the calm tone of a parent explaining to a toddler why he can't eat too many cupcakes.

Blagojevich can't insist on playing just any tape, and Fitzgerald doesn't get to decide either, the judge said. It's like boxing — there are rules, he noted. The rules say you can't shove, bite, kick or head-butt your opponent.

"Those rules are enforced by the referee, not by the boxers. I am that referee, no one else," Zagel told lawyers in the case and Blagojevich, who stood directly in front of the bench, nodding slightly at times. "I will not permit the legal equivalent of head butts."

In other words, the judge ultimately will decide which undercover tapes the jury will hear. Zagel said he would not allow jurors hearing the months-long trial to have their time "needlessly consumed" by evidence that is either contrary to the rules or simply irrelevant.

He directed Blagojevich's lawyers to give him by May 14 a list of the tapes they would like to play at the trial, set to start June 3. Blagojevich is accused of using his office to enrich himself and close associates, going so far as to try to sell the U.S. Senate seat vacated by President Barack Obama. The judge also decided that Blagojevich will stand trial with his brother who ran his campaign fund, Robert Blagojevich, denying a motion to give them a separate trial.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Photos of the day!!!

These are for the Marathon Pundit, John Ruberry. He's still tracking all the Obama stimulus signs in the Chicago area. Last summer I took pictures of signs along the Dearborn subway stations. This year Obama stimulus in Federal Plaza near Dearborn & Adams.

Looking at that sign, the plaza won't look much different that what it currently looks like. Ironically this was thought to be the site of last week's tea party rally which was held instead at Daley Plaza just up the street at Dearborn & Washington.

Today was an interesting day.

Not long after writing a post over at The Sixth Ward about the new 5000 series rail cars that have started their passenger runs at select times on the CTA Red Line. There isn't much to this ride and I didn't notice much of a difference as far as riding as opposed to the other trains that run on the CTA. What'll take some getting used to is the new amenities on these new trains.

For instance instead of hearing your next stop announced on the train, you can also see it on LED displays. Just over the LED destination signs are maps of the L system where lights will identify the next stop. While the automated announcements will still be played on these new trains there are new bells that alert you to the fact that the doors are closing. Also most of the seats on the train are facing the aisle just like they would be in the New York subway with the idea being that these cars could cram more passengers on the train that the ones currently in regular service. Finally if the train is ever dark there are glowing strips throughout that car as well.

Anyway I would have to ride these trains more often to be able to say for certain if there's much of a difference between the new rail cars and the older rail cars.

BTW, it was on these new cars that I witnessed a delay due to an unauthorized person on the tracks. For an interesting change I was actually riding on the very first car of the train and one of the CTA supervisors opened one of the doors and yelled out. That person came towards the train and our motorman told this man to beware of the electrified third rail as he climbed onto the train.

I thought worse case scenario is that I could've have witnessed a man's electrocution today. That would've have ruined my day for certain! I already wrote about seeing the after effects of a woman's suicide after jumping from 95th onto the Dan Ryan and being hit by a vehicle. If I had actually seen that, it would've ruined my day as well.

Thankfully no one was hurt!

I hope that when possible to post pictures of any future rides on these cars in the near future. Today I just didn't want to get caught with a camera since I was on the first car and there were quite a few CTA personnel on board, especially two CTA supervisors.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Black Hawks are even in their first round playoff series

To be honest I haven't been watching the last two games as I should have. I saw the closing minutes of both game one and two. Was disappointed in the outcome of game one as the Hawks was shutout by the Nashville Predators and elated to see a victory by the Hawks in game two.

I only thought about writing this post because of this article from Chicago Public Radio. For an interesting change (of course that's not to say they don't follow sports anyway) a sports article caught my eye from them.

If my work schedule permits I expect to be able to watch more games in the future in hopes that the Hawks will make their first Stanley Cup finals since 1992. They last won the cup back in 1961!

You can check out the NHL playoffs on the NHL's official website!

Sunday, April 18, 2010

The new A-Team movie trailer

Or click here for the trailer

The movie is going to resemble the original TV series. People may still have a hang-up over the recasting of BA Baracus, but I got to say I don't mind him at all. Although I really think he'd do Mr. T a disservice by attempting to imitate him. Everyone else is exactly as I would expect them. Otherwise I can tell from the action of the trailer.

The last line of dialogue in the trailer, man if Dwight Schultz had said that it would've been very believable! It's said by a different actor, but that's the Murdoch I remember!!! BA when he sees his van crushed well I think I could live without his reaction. Or could I?

The van will similar to the TV series and man I like the worm shots the series was known for. That van is going to go airborne and the camera will be right on the ground when it finally lands.

The sad thing is, this might be the second movie I have seen in the past year. The last one Star Trek was also a remake of a TV series. While people may not be able to get over recasting BA Baracus I had to get over other actors playing my favorite Star Trek characters.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

NY State Senator urges young men to pull up their pants

Eric Adams is launching a campaign of sorts to discourage young men from wearing their sagging pants. The Senator wants young men to know that they should care about themselves and that this fashion style originated in prison. This video is courtesy of Reuters.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

There is a tea party rally in Chicago today

According to Chicago Breaking News it is to be held at Daley Plaza which is bounded by Dearborn on the east, Washington to the south, and Clark to the west.

BTW, check out the comments at the Breaking News site. They are getting quite nasty towards the tea partiers!
On the day that federal tax returns are due, the tea party movement arrives in Chicago's Daley plaza at noon today with thousands expected to show up.

The National Tea Party Federation, a newly formed coalition of regional tea party groups, estimates that between 1,700 and 2,000 tax day rallies will occur today around the country. Sensitive that poor public perception could sink their movement, some rally planners have disinvited controversial speakers, beefed up security and urged participants to pack cameras and capture evidence of disrupters, according to the Associated Press.

Chicago tea party coordinator Steve Stevlic says today's rally reflects a "powerful movement of regular American. People no longer view Congress or this administration as governing with their consent or within the framework of the U.S. Constitution."
I get the sense today that people are plenty who are upset about what's going on in Washington since Obama became President. What a fitting thing to have a tea party rally right here in his adopted hometown. Of course I wonder how much support amongst Chicago residents. Well overtime I learned not to be so optimistic about that.

The tea partiers are facing opposition to them enough where they may be called racist. We saw that when that health care law breezed through Congress last month. If this is what the party in power is doing obviously there is some concern about the potency of this movement which seems to want to bring this nation back to the ideas of our founding fathers.

BTW, there may be some party crashers amongst the tea partiers today. Ann Althouse has this post up regarding ways to defeat those who seek to make fools of the tea party movement.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

These pics take me way back

In the mid 1980s my mom would take me into downtown Chicago and usually we would take the L. Often the trips I remember was by the L. Until 1993 the Dan Ryan line would be elevated and routed to the Loop L and west along Lake Street to Harlem/Lake. Today the Dan Ryan line is routed through the State St. subway to the north side!

These pics posted by davidwilson1949 on flickr takes us back to 1986 and I had no idea that they started to build that eventual connection to the subway near Cermak/Chinatown that early!
This shot is looking south and you see how different this area looked approximately 24 years ago!

In this shot a southbound train from the loop is about to pull into Cermak/Chinatown. You see the work on the ramps that will in the future take Dan Ryan trains into the State Street subway.

Here's a better shot of the construction this time from the northeast. We're looking at the northbound side of Cermak Chinatown.
A northbound train heading towards the Loop L tracks. You see more of the construction of the route towards the State Street subway.

The train is up towards the connector on 18th Street that will take the train towards what was called the south side mainline tracks. The former Lake-Dan Ryan route would run along the Howard-Englewood-Jackson Park route. By 1993, trains from Englewood & Jackson Park would be routed to Lake Street to become the Green Line.

 Those are the 18th Street tracks that takes the train east to the south side mainline. These days those tracks are part of the Orange Line that takes you to Midway Airport. Of course you see no indication of that line yet in these pics. Another unusual sight was this freight train along Metra's Rock Island route.

 Look back to the south a Dan Ryan train headed back towards 95th Street.

Looking to the west on Archer and Wentworth was according to David Wilson a yard for passenger trains for the AT&SF Railway, these days however this place is now home to a commercial and residential development.

Man this takes me WAY back!

If you want some more information check out!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Another virtual trip to Detroit

Take a look at this link from the Detroit Free Press. There are plenty of maps with proposals to reshape Detroit for the future. This sure fits in with any possible plans to shrink the city.

What that entails is closing some public schools, demolishing abandoned homes and buildings (even if it means demolishing entire neighborhoods), creating urban farms, and even building a new light rail line.

Check out the diagrams and text of what's going on up there here!

The Urbanophile takes a look at Detroit. We always look at what's wrong with Detroit, especially with an eye towards the decay in Detroit. That was something I saw when I was there last summer.

Urbanophile offers some positives for Detroit complete with some pictures of very nice homes there. Of course this is not to take away from those problems that may exist there, however, it's safe to say that Detroit may have something to work with up that way.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Conan O'Brien to TBS

Well this is a bit disappointing but hopefully he'll find his way over the FOX network in the near future. Right now he'll just be on the old TBS Superstaion.
Late-night mainstay Conan O'Brien is headed to TBS to resume his comedic duties with a talk show expected to debut in November, the network said Monday.

The program will air Mondays through Thursdays at 11 p.m. Eastern, shifting TBS' "Lopez Tonight," starring George Lopez, to midnight.

O'Brien quickly fired out a celebratory tweet.
The surprise announcement hit the same day O'Brien starts a two-month, nationwide comedy tour in Eugene, Ore., amid persistent reports that he was likely to claim Fox as his new late-night home.

Barring Fox, syndication was widely considered O'Brien's most likely option. Few if anyone mentioned TBS as a plausible destination.

O'Brien began serious talks with TBS just last week, the network said.

"In three months, I've gone from network television to Twitter to performing live in theaters, and now I'm headed to basic cable," O'Brien said in a tongue-in-cheek-toned statement. "My plan is working perfectly."
I'm still with Coco so it's all good. If I remember, I will be watching in November you big orange-headed man! lol

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Plane Crash May Strain Poland’s Ties With Russia

It was breaking news yesterday morning that the President of Poland, Lech Kaczynski, and his wife were killed in a plane crash on their way to Russia. Now there are concerns over relations between Poland and Russia.
The crash came as a stunning blow to Poland, wiping out a large portion of the country’s leadership in one fiery explosion. And in a chilling twist, it happened at the moment that Russia and Poland were beginning to come to terms with the killing of more than 20,000 members of Poland’s elite officer corps in the same place 70 years ago.

“It is a damned place,” former President Aleksander Kwasniewski told TVN24. “It sends shivers down my spine.”

“This is a wound which will be very difficult to heal,” he said.
Russian emergency officials said 97 people were killed. They included Poland’s deputy foreign minister and a dozen members of Parliament, the chiefs of the army and the navy, and the president of the national bank. They included Anna Walentynowicz, 80, the former dock worker whose firing in 1980 set off the Solidarity strike that ultimately overthrew Polish Communism, as well as relatives of victims of the massacre that they were on their way to commemorate.
While the crash is not likely to substantially change Poland’s relationships with other countries, including its plans to host part of an American missile defense system, it could agitate Poland’s relationship with Russia.

Mr. Kaczynski, 60, a pugnacious nationalist who often clashed with Russia, was on his way to Katyn, where members of the Soviet secret police executed Polish officers captured after the Red Army invaded Poland in 1939.

Relations between Warsaw and Moscow have been strained ever since. For half a century, Moscow denied involvement in the killings, blaming the Nazis. But last Wednesday, Mr. Putin took a major step to improve relations by becoming the first Russian or Soviet leader to join Polish officials in commemorating the massacre’s anniversary. He was joined there by Mr. Tusk.

Mr. Kaczynski, seen by the Kremlin as less friendly to Russia, was not invited. Instead, he decided to attend a separate, Polish-organized event on Saturday.

Russia’s leaders, acutely aware of the potential political fallout of the crash, immediately reached out to Poland with condolences. Mr. Putin left Moscow to meet Mr. Tusk at the site of the crash, and President Dmitri A. Medvedev recorded an address to the Polish people, saying, “All Russians share your sorrow and mourning.”
Because this crash resulted in the deaths of other prominent Polish officials (or leadership) well there might be one scramble to see who'll lead the nation. Of course that's not to say that there isn't anyone already there who may prove to be important during this difficult time. Let's just hope that the Poles will learn something from this and hopefully a disastrous crash like this will never happen again.

Thursday, April 08, 2010

Cubs Tickets Most Expensive in MLB

I don't know if I should forget taking that trip up to Wrigleyville or not. I think I need to do some more research on how much tickets cost up there.
Numbers released Wednesday by Team Market Report show the Cubs beat out the Boston Red Sox for the priciest ticket in baseball, at $52.56. That's nearly twice the average Major League Baseball ticket price of $26.74.

The report shows Cubs ticket prices have jumped more than 10 percent since last season, the second highest increase in the league.

It says a day a Wrigley for a family of four this season will cost about $330. That includes food and concessions.

White Sox tickets, meanwhile, cost about $39 a piece. A family outing runs about $250, according to the report.
Right now $52.56 would hurt my pocketbook. I'd rather hope that this isn't the price of the cheapest seats. Man! :'(

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Not sure why this is news

It was on the news last night that Blagojevich (often known here as Ousted governor) was finally fired from Celebrity Apprentice.

Obviously Blago has been in the news semi-frenquently since he was booted from office. A lot of people in the press is likening his firing from that show akin to his removal from office early in 2009. But his removal from office wasn't as spectacular as his firing from Donald Trump's reality show.

A lot of us saw what he couldn't do. At that we might compare that to what he couldn't do as Governor of Illinois. He couldn't type or use a computer and he couldn't even use text messaging. The first episode instead of serving people hot foods he couldn't even get out of the mode of professing his innocence. It appears his only purpose on this show is entertainment value. Perhaps we wanted to see how he'd screw up this week.

Well we won't see anymore. LOL!

Rich Miller had a round-up of quotes this morning with regards to Blago's tenure on Apprentice. If you read some of the links perhaps his bizarre performance on the show expresses his strategy to taint a jury pool to his favor. It was said in one article that he never scapegoated either Bill Goldberg or Michael Johnson because Blacks and Jews may be on his jury back in federal court here in Chicago.

You do know he is to face trial for his activities as Governor, right?

I just got to say however in relation to the title of this post, I'm not entirely sure why this is news. Blago is merely extending his 15 minutes of fame. It's been like this since he was removed as Governor. He eats it up, but only to maintain publicity and to continue to profess how innocent he is.

I already knew that I wasn't going to watch the apprentice, only because I knew that he was going to be on it. Why would I want to watch a train wreck of a man continue with his train wreck until his eventual trial. While it's not a foregone conclusion for certain, it's easy to predict that when his trial concludes Blago may well find himself in jail.

If going on the Apprentice means that he'll influence potential jurors I almost wonder if he'll only influence them to vote him guilty. At the same time I'm sure there are many who see the entertainment value and like him because he gave a politician's answer to a simple question or feel asleep on the plane after his team went down in flames.

Either way it didn't interest me to watch this. But if you did watch, it's no problem if you leave your comments here.

Monday, April 05, 2010

VIDEO: Hater Deluxe. Zo Reads Some Hate Mail

Alfonzo Rachel reads us some of his hate mail. People really don't like the idea of a Black Conservative now do they? Don't get it!

Also posted at PJTV via Instapundit!

Sunday, April 04, 2010

Texas case could decide health care reform suit

This time what we might see is bringing up an old case just to overturn Obamacare. In this case it involves a high school student bringing a gun to school.
A Texas high school student's decision to bring a .38-caliber handgun to school in 1992 could end up at the center of the legal fight over President Barack Obama's health care reform plan.

Alfonso Lopez Jr.'s arrest at Edison High School in San Antonio set in motion a legal battle that may prove crucial to 13 state attorneys general fighting the new law.

Lopez, a senior when he was arrested for handgun possession in March 1992, ended up facing federal charges of violating the Gun-Free School Zones Act of 1990. But the Supreme Court, on a 5-4 vote, threw out his conviction five years later on the grounds that Congress exceeded its regulatory authority under the Constitution when it approved the 1990 law, which makes it a violation of federal law to possess a firearm in a school zone.

In filing a lawsuit last week challenging the new health care law's mandate that everyone must have health insurance, the 13 state attorneys general — including Greg Abbott of Texas — cited the same legal reasoning that went into the Lopez ruling.

At issue in both cases is the Constitution's commerce clause, which limits the regulatory powers of Congress to matters involving interstate commerce. In the Lopez decision, conservatives on the court led by then-Chief Justice William Rehnquist ruled that the 1990 gun law was unconstitutional because it had nothing to do with commerce between states.

Upholding the federal government's right to control guns in school zones would give Congress “a general police power of the sort retained by the states,” Rehnquist wrote for the majority.
Close to 20 years later the states are making the same argument regarding Obamacare. Here's more!
Prior to the Lopez ruling, the Supreme Court had for 60 years mostly followed the lead of Congress, ruling that congressional claims of regulatory power were valid under the Constitution. With the Lopez ruling, court watchers predicted a wholesale scaling back of such claims, clipping the wings of Congress to legislate in any area it wanted.
The lawsuit “is definitely not frivolous,” said professor Randy Barnett of Georgetown University in an interview with the National Law Journal. “Anyone who says it is — and I know a lot of law professors have — they're whistling past the graveyard,” Barnett said. “Anything that has never been done before has no precedent for it. And this (health care reform law) has never been done before.”

Since the Texas case was decided, Rehnquist has died and Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, a swing vote who sided with the majorities in the 1995 and 2000 rulings, has retired. In their places are two solid conservative votes, Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Samuel Alito. Last year, moderate-liberal Justice David Souter resigned and was replaced by a like-minded jurist, Justice Sonia Sotomayor.
Well I could exceprt more, but I think you should read the whole thing. It may well be worth your times if you're following the battle over Obamacare. Besides it's not quite over yet! The bill was signed into law, but will it or will it not stand. We will see eventually.

Via Newsalert!

BTW, you might find this post over at The Provocateur interesting with regards to Illinois Democratic Congressman Phil Hare. He was recorded as commenting that the US Constitution doesn't matter in this health care debate. Then as it reached a firestorm he had another video to address those comments saying that they were taken out of context.

Saturday, April 03, 2010

This Cohen character is all over the place isn't he?

The man who would've been the Democratic nominee for Lt. Governor, Scott Lee Cohen is back in the news. He will be interviewed on FOX Chicago Sunday tomorrow although you may be also to see this conversation tonight on FOX Chicago @ 9PM.

BTW, it should be noted that Cohen resigned his nomination 5 days after the February 2nd, 2010 Democratic primaries. He was recently replaced on the ballot by Sheila Simon, former Carbondale City Council Woman and daughter of former Illinois US Senator Paul Simon.
Chicago - Former Democratic lieutenant governor nominee Scott Lee Cohen said bowing out of the race under pressure is something he'll regret "for the rest of my life."

"If I had it to do over again, I might have stayed in," Cohen said during an interview recorded for "FOX Chicago Sunday."

Cohen, the real estate developer and pawnshop owner whose victory in the Democratic primary embarrassed party bosses, also refused to rule out running as a third party candidate for statewide office in 2010.

"Only two things are certain in life ... death and taxes," Cohen told interviewers Jeff Goldblatt and Dane Placko.
After defiantly saying he would not step down, he got a phone call from state Democratic party chair Mike Madigan, who's also the speaker of the Illinois House of Representatives. He eventually withdrew as the nominee in an emotional press conference five days after the primary. On FOX Chicago Sunday, Cohen said Madigan was "a gentleman" and did not threaten him to get out of the race.

When Placko asked if he'd been threatened by other people, Cohen responded, "No comment at this time."

Cohen also had harsh words for U.S. Senate candidate Alexi Giannoulias, and the process by which his replacement on the ticket was selected.
This man isn't going away. He kept a low profile for quite a while after he resigned his nomination and now all the sudden he has something to say about the state treasurer, Giannoulias. I wonder why he's aiming his guns at him as Giannoulias is reaching a critical moment in his US Senate campaign.

You know if the ethics problems of Giannoulias, especially with allegations of his family's bank loaning money to organized crime, caused him to drop his Senate bid this could be a huge problem. Especially if the Democrats had to drop another statewide candidate in Cohen because of some type of scandal. This could turn into a bad year for Democrats in this state. Especially if this is proving to be a year where incumbents aren't safe!

Now back to Cohen. He now regrets giving up his nomination, in spite of the firestorm. He may even run as a third-party candidate in this state. Cohen really thinks he has a chance in politics right now!

He's starting to remind me of this congressman from New York, Eric Massa, who resigned his seat last month. He too got an interview (with Glenn Beck) after he left Congress and may well have made himself look worse than he had before he did the interview. I wonder if Cohen will find himself in the same boat!

Friday, April 02, 2010

VIDEO: "If you voted for Obama...Seek care elsewhere"

A doctor in Florida concerned about the detrimental effects of Obamacare places a sign in his practice telling Obama voters to seek care elsewhere. The sign further states the changes to your healthcare begin today not four years from now!

I just gotta say that I may feel like the two people interviewed in this clip over-reacted. To be sure I would be chilled to the bone if my doctor didn't like who I supported or what my views are. Although I would like to think most doctors who do their professional duty regardless of politics as I'm sure this doctor, urologist Jack Cassell, would offer welcoming care and would never turn anyone away.

OMG, I just saw Florida Congressman Alan Grayson in this clip chiming in on Dr. Cassell's sign. Because he expressed his view on this issue Dr. Cassell needs to check his conscious and to consider why they went into healthcare. Of course this coming from a guy who isn't a doctor himself.

As for that older black women is she affected because she supports President Obama and would she prefer that her doctor not express his thoughts on this issue? I think with Obama, people take their support of him to the next level.

If I dare have any inkling of opposition to the President I've quickly become a "hater". On Twitter I got a comment from a college classmate noting that I was anti-Obama and asking if I was a black Republican. Of course one needs not be a Republican to not have any support for Obama's agenda.

This older lady has the right to seek care elsewhere if she's not comfortable with her physician for any reason. I just hate for the reason to be over politics and this doctor's stance on this new healthcare reform law!

Via Newsalert!

Thursday, April 01, 2010

Health care bill to cost AT&T $1 billion!

An article that I Googled (or is it Topeka'd). It isn't just AT&T there are other companies that may have to cough up some money to afford this brand new entitlement foisted onto the American people recently.
The news: several companies, including 3M, John Deere, and Caterpillar, have already announced that due to the health-care plan recently (and with incredible tumult) signed into law, they'll see raised expenses this year, which could be tough in this economic environment. But all of those companies' added expenses combined don't add up to half of AT&T's proposed problem, announced on Friday and reported by The New York Times: the telecommunications giant says they'll see a whopping $1 billion "noncash accounting charge" this year. In other words, AT&T will have $1 billion less in 2010 than in 2009, explicitly because of this bill--and such a big change in the books may mean AT&T will pass on the loss to its employees, possibly resulting in a loss of health-care benefits for retirees.

Specifically, the cuts in benefits will come in retiree drug coverage, which is an all-too-real problem. Retired AT&T workers may suddenly find themselves unable to afford medication, due to the passing of this bill. That sounds very bad for the pro-health-care side, and like a ready-made talking point for those against health-care reform, but it's not nearly that simple. The question is: Why did a dollars disappeared from AT&T's coffers?

The 2003 Medicare prescription drug bill, still in effect, gives a tax deduction to companies that provide prescription drug benefits for retirees. In fact, these companies, including AT&T, can deduct 100%--every single penny--of the money they spend on prescription drug benefits from their taxable income. Thus, AT&T gets to keep a whole chunk of money from being taxed, which basically means they get to pocket more of it. The government even goes one step further and subsidizes (read: pays for) a whopping 28% of those prescription drug benefits in the first place, to make prescription drug benefits as affordable as possible for the companies. The companies get both a 28% discount and a nice tax break, all to encourage them to provide prescription drug coverage.

But there's a loophole in the law big enough to drive a Chevy Suburban through. These companies get to write off the entirety of their prescription medication plan, even though they're actually only paying for 72% of it. The new health-care bill simply closes that loophole, and says that companies can still deduct every penny they pay on prescription drug benefits from their taxes--but only the money they've paid, not the 28% that the government hands them. That's where the billion dollars comes from: AT&T is no longer allowed to deduct things they didn't pay for in the first place.
I heard about this on the Rush Limbaugh program. This was the first time I listened to his program in some months!

It was also mentioned that US Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA and chair of the US House of Representative's committee on energy and commerce) sent a letter to those various companies who have posted losses due to this new health care entitlement:
Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.), chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, fired off a letter to top executives at John Deere, Caterpillar, Verizon and AT&T, calling them to testify about the announced earnings losses caused by a new tax on retiree drug benefits.

"The new law is designed to expand coverage and bring down costs, so your assertions are a matter of concern. They also appear to conflict with independent analyses," said the letter to AT&T President Randall Stephenson, who announced the company would charge off $1 billion in earnings.

The three other CEOs got letters signed by Waxman and Rep. Bart Stupak (D-Mich.), chairman of the oversight and investigation subcommittee that will grill the executives April 21.
On a lot of fronts, this fight over a bill that was signed into law a week ago is about to get ugly.

13 states so far has filed lawsuits against the federal government with regards to this law:
The legislative battle over health care reform is over. Through procedural tricks, the Obama administration succeeded in passing historically intrusive legislation.

Recognizing that Congress failed to protect individual freedoms, Americans must now turn to the states and the courts to defend our constitutional liberties.

Appropriately, 13 states filed suit against the federal government last Tuesday asserting that, “the Constitution nowhere authorizes the United States to mandate, either directly or under threat of penalty, that all citizens and legal residents have qualifying health care coverage.”

Over the past week, other states continued to join the fray, either by filing independent suits or by joining the original lawsuit. As a Pennsylvanian, I am proud that Pennsylvania state Attorney General Tom Corbett was one of the original 13 plaintiffs. A candidate in the Republican gubernatorial primary, Corbett said he is pursuing the suit as “a 10th Amendment issue” and that he would be doing so whether he were running for governor or not.
Well, let's see what happens, shall we?