Monday, March 09, 2015

Think twice about driving to the ballpark, Oregon first state to tax miles driven, 10 other states considering similar programs

3/9/15, "Oregon to debut mileage-based gas tax, helped by Waterloo company," CBC News

"A Waterloo-based company is helping the state of Oregon implement a new voluntary program that will tax drivers based on distance driven, instead of a flat gas tax. 

Waterloo's Intelligent Mechatronic Systems plays an integral part in the new program. The company created DriveSync, a platform that essentially can connect a car to the internet or other devices such as smartphones.

DriveSync makes it possible for insurance companies to assess customers based on usage, for example. "It's a very interesting approach to change one form of taxation on the gas pump to a fair usage fee on the road," said Ben Miners, the vice president for innovation at IMS, in an interview with Craig Norris on The Morning Edition Monday.

"Having a usage fee on the road provides people with transparency in terms of how much it's actually costing to be on the road," he said. "So hopefully, people will make informed decisions before they take their car out to drive to the corner store."

Drivers won't need to do anything special to their vehicles to take part in the program, but they do have to register and get a DriveSync device, which can be plugged into their vehicles.

"It's a standard port in every vehicle built after 1996. The port's just below the steering wheel, you reach down and plug it in and you can drive and not need to worry about it ever again," said Miners. The program will start for Oregon drivers on July 1.

Drivers can choose how much to share

For the privacy-minded, participants can choose how much information they want to reveal to the state of Oregon. Drivers can choose to only share the distance the vehicle travels, and avoid location information. However, if they do share location information, they won't be taxed when they drive on private roads or head out of state, for example.

The billing itself is handled by another company, Sanef ITS, which has partnered with IMS and the state of Oregon. Every quarter drivers will get an invoice showing how much fuel they've consumed and how far they've travelled. Participants will get a gas tax refund, and then pay their usage tax at a rate of 1.5 cents per mile driven.

"Now people can see that when they're driving, when their cars are actually causing impact to the road, the funds or the fees that they're paying are directly being applied to help maintain those roads, maintain the infrastructure and repair those potholes," said Miners.

According to Miners, as people switch to vehicles that consume less gas, governments need to find new ways to raise funds.

"The revenue shortfall from traditional gas tax-based approaches is only increasing in its magnitude, with the prevalence of highly fuel efficient vehicles, electric vehicles and hybrid vehicles," he said."

3/9/15, "Oregon To Be First In Nation To Implement Per-Mile Road Tax Program,"
thetruthaboutcars.com, Cameron Aubernon

"Oregon won’t be the only one to undergo a road tax program: over 10 other states are either in the process of passing legislation or conducting trials for such programs."

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Tuesday, March 03, 2015

Derek Jeter Players' Tribune on SiriusXM will air weekly on Mad Dog Sports Radio, SiriusXM Channel 85, Wed. 7-8pm ET

2/17/15, "SiriusXM and The Players' Tribune Launch New National Radio Show," finance.yahoo.com

"The Players' Tribune on SiriusXM" brings Derek Jeter's new athlete-inspired media platform to the airwaves. Listeners can connect with Players' Tribune personalities every week on SiriusXM's Mad Dog Sports Radio channel."

"SiriusXM and The Players' Tribune announced today the creation of a new national radio show that brings the high profile new athlete-inspired media platform founded by Derek Jeter to the airwaves, showcasing the voices of athletes associated with the site and connecting them with listeners around the country.

Starting February 18, The Players' Tribune on SiriusXM will air every Wednesday (7:00-8:00 pm ET) throughout the year on SiriusXM's Mad Dog Sports Radio, channel 85. The show will feature a rotating group of hosts and guests who are Players' Tribune editors or contributors, and give SiriusXM subscribers first-person access to the perspective of professional athletes across many sports.

Wednesday's show will include interviews from the event launching the new Players' Tribune website this past weekend.  Listeners will hear from Derek Jeter, Seattle Seahawks QB Russell Wilson, New York Mets pitcher Matt Harvey and others.

The Players' Tribune is a new media platform that presents the voices of professional athletes, bringing fans closer to the games they love than ever before. Founded by Derek Jeter, The Players' Tribune aims to provide unique insight into the daily sports conversation and to publish first-person stories directly from athletes. From video to podcasts to player polls and written pieces, the Tribune strives to be "The Voice of the Game."

"Our partnership with SiriusXM is a perfect vehicle to help bring the athletes' stories from The Players' Tribune to life," said founding publisher Derek Jeter.

"Since launching a few months ago, The Players' Tribune has generated a lot of buzz in the sports world and captured the attention of fans across the country," said Scott Greenstein, SiriusXM's President and Chief Content Officer. "We're excited to team up for a new show that will give the voices on the site a new nationwide forum to interact directly with fans, while also giving our subscribers access to some of the biggest personalities in sports."

Athletes who are editors or contributors for The Players' Tribune include Kobe Bryant, Russell Wilson, Matt Harvey, Paul Pierce, Blake Griffin, Julius Thomas, Brandon McCarthy, Sean Avery, Chris Long, Danica Patrick, Shawne Merriman and others." via XMFan.com

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Monday, March 02, 2015

Cold weather and snow keep criminals off the street. Major crimes have dropped in Boston, NY City reported 12 consecutive days without a murder-NH Union Leader

2/28/15, "Bad weather keeps criminals off the street and out of trouble," New Hampshire Union Leader, Paul Feely

Manchester, NH, in front of Kay's Bakery

"The historic stretch of winter weather gripping New Hampshire in recent weeks is helping to prove an old adage among law enforcement circles: Crooks like it hot. Police say the steady string of storms into the Granite State since mid-January show the special relationship between weather and crime: as the snowflakes and temperatures fall, so do the number of certain types of crime - particularly assaults, burglary and robberies.

"Burglars can be stupid, but they're not completely dumb," said Lt. Dan Bailey of the Nashua Police Department. "They're not going to break into a house when they'll leave footprints in the snow.

Reports from areas hit hardest by record-breaking cold and heavy snow appear to support the idea. Police calls are down in Concord and Nashua. Same thing in Manchester. Major crimes have dropped in Boston. New York City police reported 12 consecutive days without a murder, the longest such streak since the department started collecting crime data in 1994.

"You don't have people out and about," said New Hampshire State Police Major David Parenteau. "If people aren't out, there are fewer potential victims for criminals."

It's science

The theory has been tested by researchers, who say the data prove their point.

"Weather has a strong effect on the incidence of criminal activity. For all offenses except manslaughter, higher temperatures lead to higher crime rates," writes Matthew Ranson, an economist for the Cambridge, Mass. consulting firm, Abt Associates.

Ranson recently published results of a study combining 30 years of data across the country and found "a very strong historical relationship between temperature and crime."

Ranson writes in the report that he began looking at the data in an attempt to picture what the world might look like if global temperatures rise. He believes crime, and social disorder, could increase along with temperatures, and said the evidence shows colder stretches over the last 50 years marry up to drop-offs in criminal behavior.

Ranson looked at nine major crime categories, ranging from theft to murder, and reports offense rates decreased when the temperature dropped below about 50 degrees. In most cases, the rates continued to drop as the temperature got colder. The exception was car theft, which jumped when temperatures got below ten degrees."...

Image above from New Hampshire Union Leader, David Lane. via Free Rep.

Regis Chagnon shovels snow in front of Kay's Bakery as a city crew removes snow in the "The Hollow" neighborhood of Manchester. A month of snow and cold has a silver lining. Officials say, certain types of crime, such as assaults, burglary and robberies, are way down. (DAVID LANE/UNION LEADER)) - See more at: http://www.unionleader.com/article/20150301/NEWS03/150309973#sthash.piFBYd7L.dpuf

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Sunday, March 01, 2015

Arod is saving Yankees from irrelevance-Joel Sherman

2/26/15, "Note to A-Rod-hating Yankees: He’s saving you from irrelevance," NY Post, Joel Sherman

Arod signs 2/26/15

"By far the smallest crowd since the Yankees moved their spring camp to the west coast of Florida two decades ago greeted their first full workout, and the largest applause went to Hideki Matsui and then Alex Rodriguez.

So, if you are scoring at home, the fans appear less interested in this club than at any time in a while and their greatest demonstration of appreciation was for a guy who no longer plays and a guy who the Yanks hope stops playing.

In this way, the Yankees should be careful what they wish for. Right now, A-Rod is giving the organization great cover. If he weren’t here, there would have been far more questions asked of those in charge about why Yoan Moncada is a Red Sox and why there is so little interest in the team. The fans, after all, buzzed about Jacoby Ellsbury and Brian McCann as much as they did Jonathan Galvez and Nick Noonan, which is to say not at all.

Joe Girardi’s post-workout press conference began with nine questions about A-Rod and then one about a retired player, Derek Jeter. When asked if he was happy to have Rodriguez in camp, Girardi answered broadly by speaking of how pleased he is to see everyone. When it was noted to him that he didn’t really answer the question about A-Rod, Girardi brandished what are his two tells when he is about to be misleading — his voice went higher and he grew angry, in this case, criticizing the meaning of the question.

Brian Cashman answered a series of A-Rod questions and then also grew annoyed when asked if he was happy that the disgraced slugger was back, saying soon after, “I don’t really want to talk about Alex anymore.” This from a general manager appreciated by the media for his willingness to handle questions in all varieties of Yankees storms.

When asked if he could imagine shutting down inquiry about any other player in camp on Day 1 of full workouts, Cashman said he was doing this because of the repetitive nature of the questions. But it is hard to believe if folks had repetitive questions about Nate Eovaldi’s splitter or Mark Teixeira’s wrist, that Cashman would cease discussion.

As much as they talk about normalcy and moving on when it comes to Rodriguez, Yankees officials are not truly embracing that. Several times in the last week, a Yankees executive has expressed displeasure to me about something I wrote that they perceived as pro-Rodriguez — and these are in columns in which I referred to A-Rod as narcissistic, egomaniacal, dishonest and insecure or hardly endorsements of Rodriguez as a human.

In a private moment, when I told A-Rod about the reactions by Girardi and Cashman when asked if they were happy he was here, Rodriguez offered a “No comment” in reply.

But it underscores just how uneasy this camp could end up being. How could it not be? On truth serum, any Yankees official would say what they wanted for A-Rod in this camp is for his hips to break down again, forcing his retirement and their best chance to recoup most of the $61 million they still owe him.

That is a totally logical position for them to have right now. That would be best for the sanity and finances of the franchise. But you cannot exactly have a tension-free relationship when everyone knows what hovers. When I asked Rodriguez what he thought of this, he offered another “No comment.” For now, Rodriguez is avoiding his familiar self-destructive responses and darkest angels.

The Yankees will strive for the same through gritted teeth. A-Rod is their necessary evil. Are they happy he is here? No. But he is here because the Yankees signed him to a 10-year contract and not at gunpoint. Their officials should just acknowledge that the history with this player demands they be leery of what might happen, but as long as he is in uniform, they will try to do their best by him and hope he thrives. Heck, they didn’t love Jim Leyritz and won a title with him in 1996, nor David Wells and won it all in 1998, or a fella named Alex Rodriguez in 2009.

Plus, I wonder if these Yankees need A-Rod more than he needs them. They built a team with Chase Headley at third and on which Carlos Beltran or Garrett Jones could DH. But even when the spring games begin — despite protests from so many fans about having A-Rod fatigue — what will make them click on YES? Maybe what Masahiro Tanaka’s arm looks like or Didi Gregorius’ glove.

But at a time when the tiny crowd Thursday at Steinbrenner Field possibly said something about fascination with this squad, will there really be anything fans want to tune in more to see than A-Rod at-bats? Does he still have it or not?

For better or worse for this franchise, the necessary evil is their biggest star. He took the field for the first time in a while in full Yankees garb and his name was screamed often from the crowd. No one else on the roster drew such a reaction.

Ladies and gentlemen, the 2015 Yankees." Image above, NY Post, Wenzelberg

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