Connecticut applies for $11.1 million TIGER grant for new rail station

The Connecticut Department of Transportation (CTDOT) applied for an $11.1 million federal grant to design a new commuter-rail station in Bridgeport, the agency announced Wednesday.

The application was submitted through the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) VII grant program.

The grant would pay for the design of a new station on the east side of Bridgeport, to be known as Barnum Station. Funding would be matched with $7.4 million previously authorized CTDOT bond funds, in addition to funds appropriated to transportation purposes in the biennium budget.
Including environmental review, design and construction, the Barnum Station project would cost about $146.1 million, CTDOT officials said. The station will feature two center island platforms, which are aimed at providing the flexibility to serve both local and express MTA Metro-North Railroad and Amtrak trains.

The Bridgeport Barnum Station Feasibility Study aims to discover whether it is possible to build a train station on Bridgeport’s East Side and to create a Transit-Oriented Development (TOD) to create economic and housing opportunities.

Based on recent planning and development initiatives undertaken by the City of Bridgeport, as well as input received from area stakeholders, there is a strong desire for a new commuter rail station (“Barnum Station”) to be located along Barnum Avenue in East Bridgeport on the site of the former Remington factory. The new P. T. Barnum Station would improve transit and serve as a catalyst for redevelopment in the East Side, East End, and adjacent neighborhoods.

In order to respond to this challenge, the City of Bridgeport, in conjunction with the Greater Bridgeport Regional Council (GBRC) became a partner in the New York-Connecticut Sustainable Communities Consortium with a goal of developing livable communities with mixed-income housing and employment at key transit nodes.

The purpose of the Bridgeport Barnum Station Feasibility Study is to determine whether the construction and operation of a second train station is physically and operationally possible and compatible with the existing Metro-North Railroad (MNR) and Amtrak service and assess the redevelopment opportunities on adjacent parcels.

Results of the analysis indicate it is feasible to construct and operate a new Barnum Station on the site of the former Remington factory. Further, the Study shows that the station has the potential to be a catalyst for redevelopment and revitalization in East Bridgeport, including creating jobs and providing additional housing options close to transit.

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Atheists have higher IQs and self esteem than religious people…

fluidplans

a recent study shows… Atheists tend to have a higher IQ and fewer self esteem issues..

Psychologists from the University of Rochester define intelligence as ‘ability to reason, plan, solve problems, think abstractly, comprehend complex ideas, learn quickly, and learn from experience’. They go on to define religion as some sort of involvement in part or all of the aspects of a belief process.

A meta-analysis of 63 studies showed a significant negative association between intelligence and religiosity. The association was stronger for college students and the general population than for participants younger than college age; it was also stronger for religious beliefs than religious behavior. 53 from the 63 studies displayed a ‘reliable negative relation between intelligence and religiosity’, in 10 of the 63 studies that relationship positive.

Three possible interpretations were discussed.

First, intelligent people are less likely to conform and, thus, are more likely to resist religious…

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Obama Takes On Guns and Racism in Emotional Eulogy for Rev. Clementa Pinckney

President Obama on Friday delivered an impassioned call for America to confront gun violence and racism during his eulogy of Rev. Clementa Pinckney, one of nine victims of a massacre at an African-American church.

In a personal address that touched on a number of social policies, Obama concluded with the cadence of a preacher — and surprised the 5,500 mourners at TD Arena in Charleston, S.C., by breaking into song, leading the congregation in a rendition of “Amazing Grace.”

After Obama finished, clergymen in the arena called him “Reverend Obama.”

The president memorialized each of the nine victims of the shooting but also called the incident a wake-up call for the nation to address not only gun violence, but racial inequality and a broken criminal justice system.

He called Pinckney, a personal friend and supporter of Obama’s, a “good man” who “lived by faith” and believed that actions, and not just words, were needed to better his community.

“It would be a betrayal to everything Rev. Pinckney stood for if we allow ourselves to slip into a comfortable silence again,” Obama told the crowd of mourners.

“To settle for symbolic gestures without following up with the hard work of more lasting change, that’s how we lose our way again,” he added.

The president also waded into the controversy surrounding the Confederate flag, calling it a symbol of “systemic oppression and racial subjugation.”

“For too long, we were blind to the pain that the Confederate flag stirred in too many of our citizens,” Obama said. “By taking down that flag, we express God’s grace.”

Obama praised South Carolina’s Republican leaders for seeking to remove the flag from state grounds, but said there was much more that needs to be done to heal the nation’s racial wounds.

He called on Americans to recognize racial prejudices in their everyday lives, not just overt expressions of racial hatred.

“So that we’re guarding against not just racial slurs but we’re also guarding against the subtle impulse to call Johnny back for a job interview but not Jamal,” Obama said.

With nearly 50 members of Congress, including Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), looking on, Obama reiterated his call for stricter gun laws, saying the nation has “been blind to the unique mayhem that gun violence inflicts upon this nation.”

“Sporadically, our eyes are open,” during mass killings, Obama said, listing mass shootings in Newtown, Conn.; Aurora, Colo.; and Charleston. “But I hope we also see that 30 precious lives are cut short by gun violence every single day.”

Friday’s funeral service marked the seventh time in his presidency Obama has traveled to a community shaken by gun violence.

People stood for hours in long lines to get into the arena. Obama, who traveled to Charleston along with first lady Michelle Obama, Vice President Biden, and Dr. Jill Biden, was scheduled to meet with the families of victims and survivors of the shooting.

Obama said Charleston had risen above the motives of the accused shooter, Dylann Storm Roof, a 21-year old white man who allegedly told police he intended to start a race war.

“It was an act … that he imagined would incite fear and recrimination, violence and suspicion, an act that he presumed would deepen divisions that trace back to our nation’s original sin,” Obama said.

“Oh, but God works in mysterious ways,” he added. “God has different ideas. He didn’t know he was being used by God.”

The speech capped a pivotal week for Obama’s presidency. The White House was triumphant in celebrating a major victory in Congress on trade and two Supreme Court decisions that upheld the president’s healthcare law and legalized same-sex marriage across the country.

The mood was different earlier on Friday, when Obama stood in the Rose Garden and declared that justice had arrived “like a thunderbolt” for same-sex couples.

“Today, we can say in no uncertain terms that we have made our union a little more perfect,” Obama said.

“It’s been a significant morning, it’s been a significant couple of days, and it’s certainly been a significant month for not only the president and the administration, but for the country,” White House spokesman Eric Schultz told reporters aboard Air Force One.

But the elation was tempered by the tragedy in South Carolina. Obama acknowledged the slow progress when it comes to guns and race, but called the tragedy in Charleston an opportunity to push for broader change.

“We don’t earn grace. We’re all sinners. We don’t deserve it,” the president said. “But God gives it to us anyway. And we choose how to receive it. It’s our decision how to honor it.”

Warner Bros VIP Studio Tour

mypassengerdiaries

Last week I had the chance to go to the Warner Bros VIP Tour. With a group of people from school I went to Burbank. It was sunny; I had ‘Vanilla Bane’ and ‘Superman Salted Caramel’ ice-cream. It was a great start, and things got even better.

First we were brought into a screening room, where they showed a short movie about Warner Bros and the many films that it has created. There was The Life of Emile Zola, Casablanca, and My Fair Lady from ages past. There was our beloved Harry PotterThe Lord of the Rings, and The Matrix. And of course, there is FriendsPretty Little Liars, The Ellen Degeneres Show, and too many other awesome works to get us excited.

We then went into a tour cart and drove around the lot. It was fairly empty, but the buildings were beautiful. Each street…

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How New York’s Perfect Subway System Was Derailed by the 1929 Stock Market Crash

Complaints about the inadequacies of New York’s subway system are nothing new. Back in the 1920s, as the benefits of subterranean transport became clear (early worries that riders would choke on underground air had been quickly dispelled), city residents began clamoring for more service to more parts of the city and additional lines to take pressure off the packed trains passing through downtown and midtown Manhattan.

But the city’s privately owned subway operators, the Interborough Rapid Transit Co. (IRT) and the Brooklyn Manhattan Transit Co. (BMT), were slow to the task. Focused on securing a monopoly on underground commuters, they’d laid the first lines with alacrity. (They had the added incentive of exploiting the new transit lines to speculate on newly accessible land in the outer boroughs, a fact that helps to explain why the then-undeveloped north Bronx got a subway in 1917 but the jam-packed East Village is still waiting in 2015.) But building tunnels and laying track was expensive, and after initial expansion the private companies were happier just to rake in fares, especially under the sweetheart contracts the city had provided, which allowed them to extract profits before repaying the city’s costs.

And so City Hall decided to take matters into its own hands. Mayor John Hylan, an avowed foe of the private subway lines, drew up what would become the IND (for Independent) system: a city-owned and -operated subway, with lines running up Sixth and Eighth avenues in Manhattan and out into the boroughs along the Grand Concourse (today’s B and D), Queens Boulevard (the E and F), Fulton Street (A and C), and Smith Street (F), as well as the city’s first cross-town line connecting Brooklyn and Queens (the G).

Once ground was broken on those, the city announced what would be an even more ambitious plan: the Second System, a network of eighteen new lines and hundreds more miles of track that would have brought subway service to almost every corner of New York. A Second Avenue line was to replace the Third Avenue elevated in Manhattan, the future F train would continue east from Second Avenue under the East River to Williamsburg and ultimately via Utica Avenue all the way to Sheepshead Bay, and new lines would venture out along such now-obscure roadways as Lafayette Avenue in the east Bronx and Horace Harding Boulevard (now the Long Island Expressway) in Queens.

Things were looking bright for New York City subway riders. The date was September 15, 1929.

Following the Wall Street crash and the onset of the Great Depression, most of the Second System plans were mothballed, though a few remnants were built, including the beginnings of a massive six-track station that was to be located at South 4th Street in Williamsburg. (The empty station shell still exists, though a more visible artifact survives in the name of the IND’s oddly monikered West 4th Street station, which got “West” appended to avoid confusion with the never-built South 4th.) The Third Avenue el was torn down in 1955, but work on the Second Avenue subway didn’t begin until 1972 — and then ground to a halt three years later, amid the city’s fiscal crisis.

If the first stretch, which will divert a branch of the Q line from 59th Street to 96th Street, opens next December as planned, it will be precisely 87 years and three months after it was proposed. (The MTA hasn’t set a target date for the second phase, which would extend the line to 125th Street, and the agency’s current capital budget doesn’t even include plans for the final stage, a new line called the T, which would run all the way down to Hanover Square in the financial district.)

Once ground was broken on those, the city announced what would be an even more ambitious plan: the Second System, a network of eighteen new lines and hundreds more miles of track that would have brought subway service to almost every corner of New York. A Second Avenue line was to replace the Third Avenue elevated in Manhattan, the future F train would continue east from Second Avenue under the East River to Williamsburg and ultimately via Utica Avenue all the way to Sheepshead Bay, and new lines would venture out along such now-obscure roadways as Lafayette Avenue in the east Bronx and Horace Harding Boulevard (now the Long Island Expressway) in Queens.

Things were looking bright for New York City subway riders. The date was September 15, 1929.

Following the Wall Street crash and the onset of the Great Depression, most of the Second System plans were mothballed, though a few remnants were built, including the beginnings of a massive six-track station that was to be located at South 4th Street in Williamsburg. (The empty station shell still exists, though a more visible artifact survives in the name of the IND’s oddly monikered West 4th Street station, which got “West” appended to avoid confusion with the never-built South 4th.) The Third Avenue el was torn down in 1955, but work on the Second Avenue subway didn’t begin until 1972 — and then ground to a halt three years later, amid the city’s fiscal crisis.

If the first stretch, which will divert a branch of the Q line from 59th Street to 96th Street, opens next December as planned, it will be precisely 87 years and three months after it was proposed. (The MTA hasn’t set a target date for the second phase, which would extend the line to 125th Street, and the agency’s current capital budget doesn’t even include plans for the final stage, a new line called the T, which would run all the way down to Hanover Square in the financial district.)

FBI Agent: The CIA Could Have Stopped 9/11

By Jeff Stein, Newsweek

20 June 15

 

ark Rossini, a former FBI special agent at the center of an enduring mystery related to the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, says he is “appalled” by the newly declassified statements by former CIA Director George Tenet defending the spy agency’s efforts to detect and stop the plot.

Rossini, who was assigned to the CIA’s Counterterrorism Center (CTC) at the time of the attacks, has long maintained that the U.S. government has covered up secret relations between the spy agency and Saudi individuals who may have abetted the plot. Fifteen of the 19 hijackers who flew commercial airliners into the World Trade Center towers, the Pentagon, and a failed effort to crash into the U.S. Capitol, were Saudis.

A heavily redacted 2005 CIA inspector general’s report, parts of which had previously been released, was further declassified earlier this month. It found that agency investigators “encountered no evidence” that the government of Saudi Arabia “knowingly and willingly supported” Al-Qaeda terrorists. It added that some CIA officers had “speculated” that “dissident sympathizers within the government” may have supported Osama bin Laden but that “the reporting was too sparse to determine with any accuracy such support.”

Over 30 pages relating to Saudi Arabia in the report were blacked out. The Obama administration has also refused to declassify 28 pages dealing with Saudi connections to the hijackers in a joint congressional probe of the attacks.

As has been previously reported, Rossini and another FBI agent assigned to the CTC, Doug Miller, learned in January 2000 that one of the future hijackers, an Al-Qaeda operative by the name of Khalid al-Mihdhar, had a multi-entry visa to enter the U.S. By mid-summer of 2001, the CIA was repeatedly warning President George W. Bush and other White House officials that an Al-Qaeda attack was imminent. But when Miller and Rossini attempted to warn FBI headquarters that al-Mihdhar could be loose in the U.S., a CIA supervisor ordered them to remain silent.

Rossini says he is “deeply concerned” by how the agency continues to suppress information related to contacts between the CIA and Saudi Arabia, particularly when the spy agency is declassifying other portions of documents to show that it did everything possible to thwart the September 11, 2001 plot.

“There would have not been a 9/11 if Doug’s CIR [Central Intelligence Report] on al-Mihdhar was sent,” he told Newsweek in an email. “Period. End of story.

“The total lack of accountability, nor a desire to drill down on the truth as to why Doug’s memo was not sent,” he added, “is the reason why the 28 pages pertaining to the Saudis have been blocked” from release.

In 2005, Tenet, the CIA director at the time of the attacks, angrily refuted the judgment of then-CIA Inspector General John Helgerson who said Tenet did not do enough to stop the Al-Qaeda plot.

“Your report challenges my professionalism, diligence and skill in leading the men and women of U.S. intelligence in countering terrorism,” Tenet wrote to Helgerson in another heavily redacted document released June 12. “I did everything I could to inform, warn and motivate action to prevent harm. Your report does not fairly or accurately portray my actions, or the heroic work of the men and women of the Intelligence Community.”

Rossini claims still-classified documents would “show a pattern of financial assistance, and moreover, the CIA’s role to try and recruit al-Mihdhar.” He says he was “convinced” of that and that “there is no other explanation” for the CIA refusing to release further information.

A former CIA field operative who worked at the CTC in 2001 told Newsweek earlier this year that Rossini’s theory had merit. “I find that kind of hard to believe, that [al-Mihdhar] would be a valid source,” says the former operative, who spent 25 years handling spies in some of the world’s most dangerous places, including the Middle East. “But then again, the folks that were making a lot of calls at the time there were junior analysts, who had zero general experience and absolutely zero on-the-ground operational experience or any kind of operational training.”

The analysts had begun to take intelligence collection initiatives beyond their skill level, usually by developing their own confidential “sources” in Middle East spy services, says the former operative, who spoke on condition of anonymity to freely discuss such a sensitive issue. So it is entirely reasonable, the former operative says, that an intelligence analyst at the CTC was trying to develop al-Mihdhar as a source through Saudi contacts.

“I don’t think they ever personally talked to anybody” in the field, the former operative added. “They probably got a source through liaison. So their source [on the hijackers] might have been someone in the Saudi service who said they are talking to somebody, or someone in the Jordanian service who said he was talking to someone. As far I was concerned, they were a bunch of lying pieces of shit. So they could’ve done that.”

Rossini and his colleague, Miller, following the CTC’s strict rules on secrecy, kept silent for years about their thwarted effort to warn FBI headquarters about al-Mihdhar, providing critics with ammunition to cast doubt on their story. But in a Newsweek interview, a former FBI colleague has now come forward publicly for the first time to buttress their version of events.

James Bernazzani, who took charge of the FBI contingent at the CTC in Langley, Virginia, soon after 9/11 attacks, recalled an encounter with Rossini. “Mark walks into my office one day at Langley and says, ‘Something’s been really bothering me.’ He tells me the whole story” about how he and Miller had been prohibited from telling anyone about the likely presence of at least one Al-Qaeda terrorist, al-Mihdhar, in the U.S. the previous July, Bernazzani says.

“I said, Mark, if it ain’t on paper, it never happened. He said, ‘I got it.’ After a few minutes he came back and showed it to me.” Miller, as it turned out, had made a copy of the warning cable he had prepared for FBI headquarters.

“I looked at it and I said, ‘Holy friggin’ shit,’” Bernazzani recalls. “I said, ‘This would’ve stopped this thing.’ I called up Assistant Director Pat D’Amuro,” who was in charge of the FBI’s investigation into the 9/11 attacks. “I said I needed to see him right away. He said, ‘This better be worth it.’ I assured him it was. I drove straight to FBI headquarters. It took me only about 15 minutes to get there. I probably set some speed records.”

Bernazzani, who retired in 2008 with a Presidential Award for Meritorious Service, says D’Amuro “looks at it, he looks at me, and he says, ‘I’ll take care of it.’”

Bernazzani returned to CIA headquarters. “I told Mark it was done, it was in the right hands,” Bernazzani says. Later, when congressional investigators came looking for documents related to the 9/11 attacks, “the FBI couldn’t find it in their computers,” he says. “If they did, they didn’t tell me.”

D’Amuro, now managing director of 930 Capital Management in New York, did not immediately respond to request for comment.

All these years later, “What Mark said is true,” Bernazzani says. “It did happen” as Rossini told it.

As for why CIA analysts at the CTC ordered Rossini and Miller not to tell the FBI about Al-Qaeda terrorists at large in the U.S., Bernazzani can only theorize. “It was a classic example of analysts owning information,” he says. “Operators share information. Some analysts tended to think of information as none of your business.”

Rossini is more blunt. “They ran a clandestine op in the U.S., and they didn’t want the bureau involved in it.”

With help from Penney Vanderbilt