Friday briefing and open thread

TGIF. Lots of stuff to get to:

  • Have you been following the Amtrack derailment? NTSB says the train was on the wrong track:

    The National Transportation Safety Board issued a statement Tuesday saying the switch sent the passenger train into a rail yard. It says the train stopped about 21 feet from an empty ballast hopper car that was stored on the track.

    The Amtrak train was traveling about 60 mph from Chicago to Pontiac on Sunday when two of its locomotives and one or more coaches derailed. It happened near Niles, just north of the Indiana state line. About a dozen people were injured.

  • Interesting cybercrime related legislation landed in the House about a month ago. Here’s the Michigan Votes page, and here’s part of the House Fiscal Agency summary:

    BRIEF SUMMARY: The bill would expand the prohibition on using the Internet or a computer or computer system for specific illegal activities so that it would also apply to a cell phone, PDA, or other handheld device while being used to transmit or receive data over the Internet.


    Current law prohibits the use of computers or use of the Internet to commit certain crimes; for instance, sexual assault, kidnapping, bombings or threat to bomb, stalking, and certain sex-related crimes involving minors. Apparently, the laws have not kept up with changes in technology. Several handheld devices are now capable of connecting to the Internet and can perform many functions that just a few years ago only laptop or desktop computers could do. Reportedly, the Michigan State Police Taskforce on Internet Crimes has recorded a 25-50 percent increase in the collection of cell phones being used to commit various crimes.

    According to the Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office, because cell phones, iPads, and other handheld devices are not specifically mentioned in the statutory definition of “computer,” prosecutors must bring in experts to testify at trial that these devices really are computers and therefore a violation is subject to the stated penalties. Providing such expert testimony is not without increased costs to taxpayers. In addition, because there is no clear statutory connection, a defendant may be acquitted if an expert misses the trial because of a scheduling conflict.

    Legislation has been offered to expand the statutory definition of “computer” for the specified crimes to include newer handheld devices having Internet connectivity.

    You can follow this bill on the MI Legislative Website.

  • Good people 1 – Bigots 0:

    In 2011, a judge said SMART likely violated the group’s free-speech rights by rejecting the ads. A federal appeals court on Thursday erased the injunction, saying SMART’s ad restrictions are reasonable and don’t violate the First Amendment.

    The proposed ads said, “Fatwa on your head? Leaving Islam? Got questions? Get answers!”

    The appeals court says the ads are political and are covered by SMART’s ban on political, non-commercial messages. SMART has defended the policy, saying it doesn’t want to offend riders and lose business.

  • Here are some interesting ground game numbers:

    U.S.: Obama — 755 field offices / Romney — 283 field offices
    Ohio: Obama — over 120 field offices / Romney — 40 field offices
    Florida: 102 / 48
    Iowa: 66 / 13
    Virginia: 47 / 29

    Heard from Team Obama in Ohio? 36 percent
    Heard from Team Romney in Ohio? 29 percent

    Florida: Republicans 41 percent / Democrats 40 percent
    Iowa: Republicans 31 percent / Democrats 44 percent
    North Carolina: Republicans 32 percent / Democrats 48 percent
    Ohio: a larger percentage of “Democrats” have voted early in Cuyahoga (Cleveland) than Republicans, compared to their base registration statistics.

  • #Bolgerschmidtfraud – this is what happens when you specifically mention Mark Brewer while screwing over the MDP:

    BATTLE CREEK, MI (WKZO) — The Democratic Party had been running Jase Bolger attack ads on cable TV hoping to upset the Speaker of the House, after the election rigging scandal made him vulnerable. Now they are running TV ads on the air that do not pull any punches at all, saying he is being investigated by a grand jury and calls him sleazy and conniving. The last campaign finance report shows that democrats have shifted well over 100-thousand into the campaign of Democrat Bill Farmer.

  • Thom Hartmann – The Poverty party?

    Tonight’s ‘Lone Liberal Rumble’ panel discusses Paul Ryan’s speech on poverty, why United Nations election observers will be monitoring US Election Day and how this year’s debates are the first since 1988 where no one mentioned global warming. In tonight’s ‘Daily Take,’ Thom looks at the number-one health risk facing the planet.

  • It must be awful to hate American cities as much as these folks do. Absolute hatred for the people and the cities. Maybe someday I will be a true American Patriot and I too will love American enough to hate our cities.
  • McCotter’s minion sentenced to 20 days in jail or in work program.
  • Karoli says no more I agree.
  • Dale Hansen: Union support helps to level the playing field.

    I was arguing with someone about this the other day. Here’s what it comes down to for me: if corporations are people according to the US Constitution, then it is incumbent on us to enshrine in our Constitution the right of the individual to organize. This is the only way to meet strength with strength. If we can’t put it in the US Constitution then I’m fine starting with the state.

Census DailyFriday, October 26th. Even with smart phones, iPads, and other electronic gadgets, just about everyone on vacation buys some picture postcards, either to send to friends —or just to keep as a reminder of the trip. In the U.S., the first postcards were mailed this week in 1870. For many years, only the post office was allowed to print postcards. Beginning about 1900, private firms were allowed to produce them, and illustrations and photographs began appearing on them. These picture postcards were wildly popular, and by 1908, Americans were sending 678 million postcards annually. Postcards are among the more than 170 billion pieces of mail handled by the U.S. Postal Service each year.


There are no cover bands in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Follow me on Twitter - @christinebarry
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