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Category Archives for "Trajan’s Column"

Affirmative Distraction: Police need to watch the road just like the rest of us

Police-texting


Roads-2-Roam is appalled at the literal ‘get out of jail’ laws that allow US police officers to kill civilians by distracted driving and face no prosecution to the same laws of the road that apply to the rest of us.

We advocate Police need a clear policy to ‘Protect and Serve’ instead of ‘Text and Swerve’


The recent case which got our attention was a Los Angeles County Deputy, Andrew Wood, who was texting into his “Mobile Digital Computer” while driving. This caused Deputy Wood to drift into a bike lane and rear end cyclist Milton Olin Jr, a former A&M Records and Napster executive. [See DailyNew article] “Peace” Officer Wood was apparently responding back to a colleague who was asking if a fire investigation at a high school had been completed. Investigation into the incident showed that “Peace” officer Woods had been recently texting his wife from his private phone but supposedly, it had not contributed to any of Wood’s inattention. What is worse is Wood’s statement where he claimed “Olin had drifted out of the bike lane” which later was found out to be untrue. Per the DailyNews, this is how one of LA County’s finest got off: Continue reading..

The Medallion Millionaire Heist: Behind the curtain of the Big Taxi cab racket

Boston Globe's Excellent investigation into the problems with Boston's $1B Taxi industry.

Screen capture of Boston Globe‘s Excellent investigation into the problems with Boston’s $1B Taxi industry. A MUST READ.

I wanted to understand a bit more about Taxis and the medallion system. Boston Globe has one of the best pieces of investigative journalism that I have seen. Please take the time out to read it.

Driven to the Edge :

The Globe Spotlight Team spent nine months examining Boston’s $1 billion taxi industry.

My jaw dropped when I read how the Medallion system works in Boston.I have no reason to think it is different for the other large cities in the US.

The owner of Boston Cab – Edward Tutunjian- owns  20% of the 1825 medallions. Boston cab, then leases each cab out on a daily basis where it costs that driver, $120 per day. It is up to that driver to make over $120 or take a loss. The owner of the Medallion gets a steady stream of income regardless and doesn’t even drive the cab.

Continue reading..

Flying on fumes : Are aircraft leaks poisoning cabin crew?

Airplane warning

Airline advisory?

As if we don’t have enough hassle with flying: Is Your Airline Poisoning You? asks Bloomberg.

Richard Westgate. A former pilot with British Airways, Westgate died in December 2012 after more than a decade of illness that he believed had been caused by long-term exposure to jet-engine lubricants bleeding into cabin air. Samples of Westgate’s blood and tissue were provided to Mohamed Abou-Donia of Duke University Medical School, an expert in organophosphate poisoning, who published the results of his investigation late last month in the Journal of Biological Physics and Chemistry.

According to Abou-Donia, Westgate’s tissues were riddled with clear evidence of organophosphate poisoning, including significant brain injury. “It was the worst case I’d seen in all these years of doing this work,” Abou-Donia told me.

In theory, organophosphates — which are derived from jet-engine lubricants and the chemicals added to them — should not be floating in cabin air. All jets (except for Boeing’s 787 Dreamliner) pressurize their cabins using warm, compressed air that’s “bled” from the jet engines and recirculated through cabins. Seals are meant to separate the air from the oil and other chemicals.

Occasionally, however, those seals fail or leak and result in a “fume event” that contaminates the cabin. Such events happen with disturbing frequency: An online search brings up numerous fume events with human health impacts from recent years. A 2014 study by the Australian Transportation Safety board reported that it had received reports of “over 1,000” such cases between 2008 and 2012. While most were “minor in consequence,” others included “a single flight crew incapacitation event and a further 11 minor injury events to crew.” 

Oh, the joys of travel.

That Giant Sucking Sound : Surge pricing on Uber

Some Giant sour suckers: Coming to a town near you.

Some Giant sour suckers: Coming to a town near you.

As we said before on the ‘sharing’ economy, careful what you wish for. Houston is allowing the likes of Uber and Lyft into it’s market but it will also liberalize it’s standard fares to allow surge prices.

To see what surge prices may look like, read the Marketwatch article titled “Uber car service twists sharing economy into ‘sucker’s economy’. It’s main piece is about riders at a San Francisco festival being charged anything from $290 to $470 to go a few miles.

The story originates in Scallywag which shows screen dump of such a trip where the driver took a 11 mile trip instead of a 4 mile trip and in the meanwhile, the fare came to $391.

Ouch.

 

 

 

Something fishy with SEAS : Seaworld stock price plumets on Orca backlash

SEAS Sick: Seaworld's stock price drop. charts courtesy of finviz.com

SEAS Sick: Seaworld’s stock price dropped by 33% today finviz.com

Per Bloomberg “SeaWorld Drops as Killer Whale Controversy Hurts Sales” where the shares of “Seaworld Entertainment systems” (ticker symbol SEAS) dropped by 33% to $18.90 and all time low since it was floated as an IPO in 2013.

“The company acknowledged for the first time that pressure from animal-rights groups is reducing attendance, said Barton Crockett, an analyst at FBR & Co., calling second-quarter results “surprisingly weak.” The theme-park operator fought off a proposed ban on keeping orcas in captivity in California with a lobbying campaign that raised doubts about claims that the animals are harmed in its parks”

Things are not looking good for the brand as the drop was on major selling volume.

Now, Play nice and Share : Uber dirty tricks on it’s competitor, Lyft

A well known board game.

A well known board game but we do not remember it’s name.

After reading a news article in CNN Money, it seems like the Uber and Lyft are not getting along where Lyft is accusing Uber of dirty tactics by calling in rides, then canceling them last minute.

According to data provided by Lyft, 5560 rides were ordered by Uber affiliates then cancelled. The smoking gun is the telephone numbers from which the rides were ordered, cross-reference back to known Uber recruiters. One account in LA had 49 cancellations from October to May.

CNN also reports that Uber were busted doing something similar in a NY rival taxi App, called “Gett” and after that Uber agreed to “”tone down their sales tactics.”

So much for the sharing economy where CNN quote an earlier interview with Uber CEO Travis Kalanick by Laurie Segall

“The taxi industry [is] trying to protect a monopoly that has been granted them by local officials, so they’re trying to slow down competition.”

Oh the hypocrisy.

Meet the new Taxi boss. Same as the old Taxi boss.

Yelp me if you can, I’m feeling down : US guest house fines reviewers for negative reviews

One of the Opening scenes of Fawlty Towers.

One of the opening scenes of the BBC Comedy, “Fawlty Towers”

The internet outrage de jour is the story of  “Hotel fines $500 for every bad review posted online” started by NY Post. Except when you read it, you find out it wasn’t a hotel but a small guest house.

The Union Street Guest House, near Catskills estates built by the Vanderbilts and Rockefellers, charges couples who book weddings at the venue $500 for every bad review posted online by their guests.

“Please know that despite the fact that wedding couples love Hudson and our inn, your friends and families may not,” reads an online policy. “If you have booked the inn for a wedding or other type of event . . . and given us a deposit of any kind . . . there will be a $500 fine that will be deducted from your deposit for every negative review . . . placed on any internet site by anyone in your party.”

If you take down the nasty review, you’ll get your money back.

For any bad reviews that do make it online, the innkeepers aggressively post “mean spirited nonsense,” and “she made all of this up.”

In response to a review complaining of rude treatment over a bucket of ice, the proprietors shot back: “I know you guys wanted to hang out and get drunk for 2 days and that is fine. I was really really sorry that you showed up in the summer when it was 105 degrees . . . I was so so so sorry that our ice maker and fridge were not working and not accessible.”

That is pretty much the article. Continue reading..

Russkies in a Flussky : Russian travel companies goes under and leaves thousands stranded

Matryoshka dolls upon hearing about the Russian tour firm, Labirint

Matryoshka dolls upon hearing about the Russian tour firm, Labirint

The after shocks of economic sanctions on Russia following their involvement in Ukraine, are starting to bite. From the BBC news:

As many as 27,000 Russian tourists are stranded abroad after a Russian tour firm, Labirint, suspended operations.

A company statement (in Russian) blamed the move on a deterioration in the rouble exchange rate and the “negative political and economic situation”.

There are signs that EU-US sanctions on Russia over the Ukraine crisis are hurting the wider economy, including Western investment in Russia.

The same story is covered by IBTimes which adds that many tourists in Greece were booted out of their hotels as a result.

Greek media reports estimated that between 8,000 and 10,000 Russians were stuck on Greek islands. The country’s Tourism Ministry said, in a statement: “Greece is a safe and welcoming tourist destination that respects its guests.”

However, Russia’s Association of Tour Operators of Russia (ATOR) has threatened to name hotels that had “mishandled” the situation. Some tourists were reportedly evicted from hotels, while others were apparently refused entry after Labirint’s bankruptcy was announced. ATOR would be adding hotels to a “blacklist”, it said.

Russian tourists are also thought to be stuck in Turkey, Egypt, Spain, Bulgaria and Cyprus.

Labirint announced it was stopping operations on Saturday and that Turpomoshch (Tour Help) would attempt to help passengers that were stuck.

So what should you do if you find yourself in a situation where your tour company or chartered airline goes under when you are on vacation ? Continue reading..

Dark clouds for the Black Cab: Projection for London’s iconic Taxis

Future of London Black Cab?

Future of London Black Cab?

Business education classes teach a technique called “PEST analysis” to assess the market attractiveness or a health of a company. It looks at  the external factors beyond your control, that are either opportunities or threats to your business.

In this context P.E.S.T is an acronym that refers to POLITICAL, ECONOMIC,  SOCIAL or  TECHNOLOGICAL trends coming in the near future.

Eco City Vehicles (ECV) is the company that makes black cabs and they are getting hammered by a perfect storm of PESTs. These are all threats with hardly any opportunities. A market report by “This is Money” discusses the bleak outlook for ECV. Continue reading..

Swissport, Swisswhine: Baggage fiasco in Gatwick airport tied to low wage contractor

Following on from Heathrow T5 fiasco where BA fliers had problems of no luggage for a few days, we now hear about luggage problems with passengers going through Gatwick. In the Heathrow example,the issue was equipment related. In Gatwick’s case, the problem is staffing. It seems that the contractor, Swissport, cannot get staff to want to work.

From the Telegraph:-

Travellers flying from Gatwick this weekend can expect chaotic scenes because Swissport, the baggage handling firm, does not have enough workers to load and unload planes. Two airlines warned that difficulties at the airport could worsen over the next four months because airlines are locked in to contracts with Swissport.

The problem is most acute at weekends because the firm is using staff on zero-hours contracts who do not wish to work anti-social hours, it is claimed.

Airlines using Swissport at Gatwick for baggage handling services include British Airways, Virgin, Monarch, Thomas Cook and Thomson.

The firm is having its contract terminated by at least one airline after it was blamed for failing to load passengers’ bags on to outgoing planes and not returning luggage to those arriving at Gatwick.

It get’s worse. Continue reading..