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Public policy keeps driving working protections down, and so we have new realities like this:

Eric Simit, a Jamaican immigrant, has been driving private commuter vans, most commonly known as “dollar vans,” for 15 years in western Queens. He works six days a week — from morning rush hour to the end of the evening commute, charging $2 a ride.

It’s harder to make a profit lately, Simit says, as more vans hit the pavement. With little enforcement, many have found driving a “dollar van” an easy alternative to unemployment.

“It is the fastest way to make money fast,” he said.

But Simit, other van drivers and their fast-cash business are becoming a more formal means of transport. In what Baruch College Professor E.S. Savas calls “privatization by default,” Mayor Michael Bloomberg with the Taxi and Limousine Commission announced a yearlong pilot program in June, which allows vans to run on the discontinued B23, B71, B39, Q74 and Q79 routes. The target start date is Monday.

Faced with an $800 million deficit, Metropolitan Transportation Authority cut these five Brooklyn and Queens routes, along with several others, earlier this summer, because they were money pits. While the MTA could not break even on the routes despite large tax subsidies, immigrant entrepreneurs like Simit hope to operate vans along them and make a profit.

All five routes cost the authority over $4 per rider — the Q79 was the highest at $8.08. The vans will charge $2 a ride. Vans save on expenses by escaping the high labor costs, American Disability Act requirements and environmental standards that face the transportation authority.

Supporters of the program, including Transportation Alternatives, see the private vans as the best, if not the only way, to serve city neighborhoods in a time of decreased resources and rising costs. But critics see a creeping privatization of transportation that means less service, lower wages and more pollution.


Sickening, disgusting…. insert your reaction here.

Pitchers and catchers

Well, at least there’s that. Go, Phillies!

GOP gets medieval on our ass

Ving Rhames in Pulp Fiction

A large contingent of yahoo Christians in the GOP still wants to “get medieval,” to paraphrase Ving Rhames in Pulp Fiction. More here.

Quote of the week

Oh, I just love this:

“All of those charges have to start with a lawful order, otherwise the cops are just bouncers with badges.”


The Who:

Be my baby

The Ronettes:

You can’t make this shit up

What is it about the Republican party that attracts closet cases who are such huge hypocrites?

Pinal County Arizona Sheriff Paul Babeu has a reputation as a hard man– especially hard on immigrants. Some people have claimed he’s a sadist who takes delight in splitting up families and gratuitously ruining people’s lives. Last week the 43 year old Babeu, now a far right Republican candidate for Congress, was the toast of CPAC. Theylove hard men there.

Today Mitt Romney’s campaign booted Babeu from his position as a Romney for President Arizona co-chairman, reminiscent of the move his 2008 campaign did when Romney for President Idaho co-chair Larry Craig was arrested in a public toilet trying to have sex with a young-looking police undercover agent. Closeted gay Republican flock to Romney for some reason I’ll never understand.

It turns out that Babeu wasn’t just another garden variety, run of the mill Republican closet queen. The anti-immigrant fanatic had a long-time lover named Jose. And it gets much worse. The story was brokenby a respected Arizona veteran journalist Monica Alonzo. Babeu threatened his Mexican ex-lover with deportation when the man refused to promise never to disclose their years-long relationship.

Meanwhile, Babeu, a former boarding school headmaster who claims he was repeatedly molested as a child by a Catholic priest, is still deluding himself that he can continue running for Congress against GOP incumbent Paul Gosar. That should be over by Monday. Babeu’s press conference a couple hours ago is stunning. He admitted he’s gay and tried painting himself as a victim, although he did admit the relationship between himself and Jose.

F*ck was I

Jenny Owen Youngs:

I just called to say I love you

There’s a reason why I went to see NRBQ over 20 times – because you never knew what they would do next. Here they are doing karaoke:

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