The Jury Talks Back


Californians Vote for Rail Projects

Filed under: California Politics — aunursa @ 8:48 pm

The California High Speed Rail Authority has been working for over a decade planning a 800-mile train system to link the northern and southern population centers.  Toward that end the state legislature placed Proposition 1A on the November ballot.  The $9.95 billion bond measure would help fund the initial San Francisco-Los Angeles phase.  Originally proposed for the 2004 ballot, the measure was twiced postponed to avoid competition with competing bond measures. On November 4th Californians voted by a 52-48 margin to invest in the ambitious project.  High-speed trains are expected to achieve speeds of up to 220 mph in rural areas, whisking passengers from downtown Los Angeles to downtown San Francisco in 2 hours, 40 minutes.  Construction is expected to begin as early as 2011, with planned extensions to San Diego and Sacramento after the initial line begins operation.

Along with high-speed rail, two other transit measures were on local ballots.  Unlike the statewide initiative, the local tax increases required 2/3 majorities to pass.  Los Angeles County Measure R would use a 1/2 cent sales tax increase to fund a variety of transportation projects, including extensions of LA’s light rail system west to Santa Monica and east to Claremont.  On election night, Measure R was passing by a slim margin.  With absentee ballots still being counted, the lead has grown to 67.65%, and the measure is expected to pass.

Santa Clara County Measure B would add a 1/8 cent sales tax increase to fund a 16-mile extension of the Bay Area Rapid Transit system to San Jose.  Proponents say the extension would provide nearly 100,000 daily trips.  County voters had already voted twice on similar measures, approving a 1/2 cent sales tax increase for BART in 2000, and rejecting a similar increase in 2006 to fund various county transportation projects.  The vote was expected to be close, and on election night, Measure B appeared to be failing with a tantalizingly close 66.27% of the vote.  Backers began talk of scaling back the project to just a 9 mile extenstion that would connect with the Santa Clara light rail system.

Then a remarkable thing happened.  As the count of the 164,000 absentee ballots proceeded, support for the BART measure on these ballots was running at 73%, bringing the measure closer to passage.  Last Monday the overall count stood at exactly 66.67%, and subsequent ballots have given the measure an insurmountable lead.

In spite of the difficult economic times, Californians have decided that investments in state and regional transportation networks are just too valuable to postpone.

Peter Hitchens on The Death Penalty

Filed under: Uncategorized — Fritz @ 8:31 pm

Peter Hitchens, like his brother, is one of the standards I look towards when it comes to clarity of thought in writing. These two selections from his Sunday Mail column are classic:

And I add that a large part of the purpose of justice is to offer example and demonstration of the power of justice and the strength of its arm in retribution. See my point about deterrence above. We do not execute murderers to satisfy vengeance, to placate their victims’ families, or for any other individual purpose (except perhaps the greater chance of repentance by the murderer, and the humane sparing of the murderer from the prolonged and appalling torture of lengthy incarceration) . We do it to demonstrate our special abhorrence of the crime of murder, and to frighten others into not committing murder…

A few paragraphs later:

In any case, justice is not a private transaction between victim and assailant. It is the law that decides if the killer should be executed, not the victim (who, I must keep stressing,  is dead) or the victim’s family.  They might forgive their relative’s killer, which would be nice of them, but the law would still be entitled to execute him whatever they thought, and quite right too, acting on behalf of the victim (opinions unavailable) and of justice, which in civilised countries specifies a special penalty for the deliberate taking of life, not out of revenge,  as the abolitionists falsely claim, but out of the need for law.

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