Monday, December 26, 2016

THE RECKLESS BLACK AND HISPANIC DRIVERS: blacks and Hispanics cause disproportionately higher traffic deaths and injuries, according to National Highway Traffic Safety Administration data

THE DEADLY U.S. ROADS: U.S. Traffic Deaths Jump by 10.4 Percent in First Half of 2016; 17,775 people died on the road, hundreds of thousands injured

U.S. Traffic Deaths Jump by 10.4 Percent in First Half of 2016

by The Associated Press

U.S. traffic fatalities rose by an estimated 10.4 percent in the first half of this year, federal officials said Wednesday, and continued an upward trend that started in late 2014 as the economic recovery accelerated.

The Transportation Department released the preliminary estimate at a conference where government agencies, the National Safety Council and other safety groups announced an ambitious goal of eliminating traffic deaths and injuries in the United States within the next 30 years.

"We have an immediate crisis on our hands, and we also have a long-term challenge," said Mark Rosekind, head of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. 

Male motorists are twice as likely to be killed behind the wheel as women.  Also blacks and Hispanics cause disproportionately higher traffic deaths and injuries, according to National Highway Traffic Safety Administration data. Ringo H.W. Chiu / AP

The sharp increase in deaths this year follows a 7.2 percent jump in 2015, when there were 35,092 traffic fatalities.

For the first half of 2016, 17,775 people died on the road, compared with 16,100 over the same period a year earlier.

The improving economy means people are doing more driving on U.S. roads than ever before. U.S. drivers put in a record 1.58 trillion miles on the road in the first half of this year, 3.3 percent more than during the same period in 2015, the Federal Highway Administration said this week. So, a 3 percent rise in the miles traveled resulted in 10.4 increase in traffic deaths. 

The Transportation Department said it is committing $1 million a year for the next three years for grants for the zero deaths campaign. The rapid introduction of self-driving cars and other advanced technologies may make it possible to achieve the elimination of traffic deaths, the department said in a statement. Fully autonomous vehicles hold the potential to eliminate human error, which is a factor in 94 percent of crashes, according to the department.

The zero deaths idea was first adopted in Sweden in 1997 as a plan called Vision Zero. It has since been adopted elsewhere, including several U.S. cities. 


Despite the improvements in road safety, the United States has one of the highest death rates at about 1 person dead per 10,000 people. Unfortunately, only undeveloped countries have higher death rate.

Some states, such as Texas and West Virginia (sorry, WV, despite your tremendous progress in traffic safety, you are still at the top of the worst-death-rate list) have death rates of nearly 1.5 percent, i.e., fifty percent more people die compared to the national death rate.

Approximately 34,000 people are getting killed each year.  In the 1950s and 1960s, about 55,000 people used to die on the roads – so, there has been improvement in the number of dead. 

However, the number of injured is rising.  Roughly 2.5 million are injured (yes, you read it correctly – 2.5 million injured) per year.  That is, 1 percent (1%) of the population that is eligible to drive is injured every year.

It is worse than a war zone out there.  So, please be safe and be on the lookout for weaving-through-the-traffic drivers, crazy drivers, reckless drivers, sick drivers, medical-condition drivers, sleepy drivers, negligent drivers, stupid drivers, careless drivers, drunk drivers, speeding drivers, drugged drivers, texting drivers, talking-on-the-phone drivers, looking-at-the-GPS drivers, hurry-hurry drivers, tailgating drivers, upset drivers, eating-while-driving drivers, putting-the-lipstick-on-while-driving drivers, elderly drivers, and so on.



Race and Homicide in America, by the Numbers
New federal statistics have some interesting things to say about interracial killings and ‘black-on-black’ homicides.

By Matthew Cella and Alan Neuhauser Sept. 29, 2016, at 6:42 p.m.

Race and Homicide in America, by the Numbers

Interracial homicides – black people who killed whites and whites who killed blacks – climbed to their highest levels last year since the election of President Barack Obama almost eight years ago, even as the proportion of so-called black-on-black killings dipped, according to the latest national crime figures from the FBI.

The number of black people killed by whites – a demographic in the FBI report that includes those of Hispanic descent – surged by nearly a quarter in 2015 from the year before, as the number of whites killed by blacks jumped 12 percent. Together, such interracial killings increased about 13 percent from 2014.

The picture, however, is hugely complicated – though that hasn't mattered at a time when the topic of race and crime has played an outsized role in national politics.

Violent crime overall remained near 30-year lows last year, even as Americans' concern about crime hit a 15-year high in March, and 7 in 10 Americans last year said crime was rising. Unrest ignited by fatal police shootings in Charlotte, North Carolina; Cleveland; and Ferguson, Missouri, have fueled fears that the Bronx could soon be burning. Yet rebutting Black Lives Matter is the common refrain: "What about black-on-black crime?"

Homicides have been on the rise since the start of 2015, but that increase has largely been driven by street violence in Chicago, Baltimore and the nation's capital. Still, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump has effectively played on Americans' perception of crime – itself buttressed by daily crime coverage in the news – declaring that blacks were responsible for 81 percent of the killings of white Americans, that "African-American communities are absolutely in the worst shape they've ever been in before," and that "inner-city crime is reaching record levels."

All three claims earned "Pants on Fire" ratings from PolitiFact.

The FBI's annual Crime in the United States analysis released this week helps clarify some of the perceptions, cataloguing violent crimes and property crimes in 2015 and offering at least some insight into the demographics of who is killing and who is being killed in America.

The most detailed racial data have limits: They are confined to cases in which one person was killed and one person did the killing, eliminating about 17 percent of homicides. Also, police have to know and provide the backgrounds of not only the victims but the perpetrators, too – meaning that thousands of cases left unsolved and with no description of the person who committed the crimes are discounted. In total, about 61 percent of the 15,696 homicides committed in 2015 are excluded.

Nonetheless, here is what the figures tell us.

Interracial Killings

The number of black people who killed whites and the number of whites who killed blacks climbed to levels not seen since 2008, accounting last year for their largest percentages of U.S. homicides of black and white victims since at least the start of the century, according to the crime data.

The statistics show that the 500 killings of white people attributed to blacks last year were the most since black perpetrators were determined to be responsible for the homicides of 504 white people nationwide in 2008. Last year's total was up 12 percent from the 446 recorded in 2014 and 22 percent from the 409 seen in 2013, a year that saw the lowest total this century and one that capped seven years of general declines in black-on-white homicides. Prior to that, 2006 saw the most black-on-white killings since 2001, with 573.

The 229 black lives taken by white killers last year, however, marked an even larger leap from 2014, jumping more than 22 percent from the 187 black victims killed by whites that year, which was the second-lowest total since 2001. The tally was last exceeded in 2008, when 230 blacks were slain by whites. The highest total in the last 15 years came in 2007, when 245 black people were killed by whites.

(Alan Neuhauser for USN&WR)

Overall, killings of blacks by whites and whites by blacks accounted for about 12 percent of the roughly 6,000 homicides last year in which police had information about the race of both victim and killer – a slight increase from around 11 percent in 2014. About 15.8 percent of white victims were killed by blacks last year, and 8.6 percent of black victims were killed by whites.

Those percentages changed only slightly from previous years: The share of black-on-white killings as a subset of killings of white people and the segment of white-on-black homicides in relation to killings overall of blacks each ticked up just 1 percentage point from 2014.

(Alan Neuhauser for USN&WR)

"When we talk about trends, we need more than two data points," says Scott Decker, a professor at Arizona State University and director of the school's Center for Public Criminology. But, he adds, "Small changes are the lives of fathers and sons and daughters and mothers. And the police don't have the luxury of saying, 'We'll wait until we have more data points.' Police chiefs lose their jobs, captains get promoted or not based on getting out in front of trends.

"It's worth paying attention."

White and Black Victims

Black people have consistently accounted for close to half the country's homicide victims, making up more than 50 percent of the broader pool of those killed overall every year since 2010. The number of black victims increased 15 percent in 2015 over 2014.

Of the 13,455 cases from last year in which the FBI listed a victim's racial information, 7,039 victims – or 52.3 percent – were black. That compares with 5,854 cases – or 43.5 percent – in which the victim was white, an increase of about 8 percent from last year.

It's a disparity that becomes more pronounced in the context of population, as 2015 Census estimates suggest that whites account for 77.1 percent of the overall U.S. population of roughly 321 million, while blacks comprise 13.3 percent.

(Alan Neuhauser for USN&WR)

Black-on-Black and White-on-White Killings

The vast majority of homicide victims are killed by people of their own race. People tend to kill who they know.

"You hurt people who are a lot like you. That's how it works," says David Kennedy, a professor and director of the National Network for Safe Communities at John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York City.

Among the roughly 6,000 cases in which the race of the victim and the offender were known, the number of blacks killed by blacks rose to 2,380 last year, an increase of about 8 percent from 2014.

However, the share of black-on-black homicides as a proportion of black people killed actually fell by just under 1 percentage point, to 89.3 percent. This undoubtedly fractional decrease – which marked the third straight year of incremental reductions – still meant that for the first time since the start of the 21st century, the percentage of black victims killed by another black person stood below 90 percent of the total of black people killed.

Often less discussed – to the consternation of experts and columnists – is the phenomenon of white-on-white homicides. The number of white people killed by other whites rose 3.5 percent to 2,574 victims in 2015.

White-on-white killings as a percentage of all homicides involving a white victim also fell, to 81.3 percent, marking the lowest share of such killings since 2001.

The margins are small, fluctuating by less than 3 percentage points in the last 15 years: Since 2001, the share of black-on-black and white-on-white homicides as a proportion of those killed of each race peaked at 91.9 and 84.2 percent, respectively.

(Alan Neuhauser for USN&WR)
Tags: violence, gun control and gun rights, racism, police, crime, hate crimes, FBI

A massive fire caused millions of dollars in damage to the Irondequoit, NY Department of Public Works building late Saturday night.

Credit Dave Seeley / Town of Irondequoit

A massive fire did what is being described as millions of dollars in damage to the Irondequoit Department of Public Works building late Saturday night.

Town Supervisor Dave Seeley told the D & C that firefighters found a fire in the roof when they got there at about 10:30 p.m. on Saturday.

It quickly spread and all five Irondequoit fire departments responded. Firefighters from neighboring towns were called in to assist.

The building houses the town’s fleet of highway department vehicles including snow plows and sanitation trucks.

Seeley told the D & C that about 25 vehicles are stored in the building and some of them were lost in the fire.

The building is adjacent to the town hall and library, but the flames did not reach those buildings.

There were no reported injuries. Seeley says the equipment and building are insured but he was mainly concerned about the safety of the firefighters who remained on the scene into the morning.

The DPW building is a 100 year old structure. "It's terrible to have to see this happen, but more terrible to have to see our firefighters spend their Christmas Eve doing this," Seeley told Time Warner Cable News. "Many of our firefighters are actually highway department workers so it's ironic that they're working here. They certainly know the building and this building means a lot to them."

The Red Cross also helped first responders at the fire scene.

Monroe County Executive Cheryl Dinolfo issued a statement saying that, "I’ve already spoken with the heads of Monroe County DOT, our Department of Environmental Services and our Public Safety Department and ordered them to do everything in their power to help provide uninterrupted service to the residents of the Town of Irondequoit. Monroe County stands ready to provide our support in any way possible.” 


Christmas Eve Blaze Seriously Damages Irondequoit Town Building

By Wendy Mills
Updated Sunday, December 25, 2016 at 01:53 PM EST

IRONDEQUOIT, N.Y. -- Firefighters in Irondequoit and some neighboring towns spent Christmas Eve battling a large fire to part of the town's Department of Public Works located on the town hall campus.

Irondequoit's town supervisor says the fire destroyed eight to nine vehicles including some snow plow trucks and a sanitation truck.

A section of Irondequoit's Department of Public Works building on Kings Highway North at the town hall campus caught fire around 10 p.m. Saturday night.

Flames and heavy smoke could be seen shooting from the building that stores town vehicles for plowing and sanitation. There were a few explosions most likely from fuel tanks ignited by the fire. Portions of the building collapsed.

The town says the building was about 85 years old. Most of the town's fleet was located in the other half of the DPW and is not damaged. The building is adjacent to the Irondequoit Town Hall and the new Public Library. The fire did not reach those structures.

Irondequoit Town Supervisor, Dave Seeley, says eight to nine vehicles were stored inside the town building and are a total lost.

Fire crews from Greece, Brighton, Rochester and others helped get the fire under control and extinguished. Crews also worked to make sure the cell tower, that is crucial to emergency communication, was not damaged.

Seeley says it is not damaged and power was maintained throughout.

The town says its focus is to maintain vital day to day operations.

"A lot of the services we take for granted," said Seeley. "It's maintaining our infrastructure, it's making sure our sewers are clear and of course with this time of year it's snow removal. We will still have a great workforce that is committed to doing a great job. We just have to make sure that we are doing what we can to put them in short order. We want to reassure residents that we are committed to maintaining the vital services the department supplies."

Supervisor Seeley says the operations center or dispatch was located in the damaged section of the building but will likely be moved temporarily to camp Eastman. He says the vehicles are all insured but it will take some time to sort through getting them replaced.

No one was injured.

The cause of the fire in under investigation.



Russia: Crashed jet fragments pulled from Black Sea

In this frame grab provided by the Russian Emergency Ministry Press Service, ministry employees lift a fragment of a plane outside Sochi, Russia, Monday, Dec. 26, 2016.

Updated 2 hrs ago
SOCHI, Russia -- Fragments of a plane were dragged out of the Black Sea on Monday amid a massive search operation as Russian officials declared that their investigation into the crash would focus on technical faults or pilot errors - not terrorism.

On shore, the nation held a day of mourning, laying flowers and lighting candles for the victims, who included dozens of singers in Russia's world-famous military choir, nine Russian journalists and a Russian doctor known for her charity work in war zones.

All 84 passengers and eight crew on the Russian military's Tu-154 plane are believed to have died Sunday morning when it crashed two minutes after taking off from the southern city of Sochi en route to Syria.

On Monday, more than 3,500 people on 45 ships - including 135 divers from across Russia - were sweeping a vast crash site in the Black Sea and along the shore, according to the Defense Ministry. Ten helicopters, drones and two deep-water submersibles were being used to help spot bodies and debris. The search area covered over 10 square kilometers (about 4 square miles) and was plagued by underwater currents.

Divers in the afternoon found parts of the jet a mile away from the shore and 25 meters (82) under the sea, the Emergency Situations Ministry said. Some of the debris was recovered and divers were going back into the water to search for more, it said, adding the fuselage has not been found yet.

The plane's black boxes have not been found yet either, Emergency Situations Minister Vladimir Puchkov said. Transport Minister Maxim Sokolov said plane's flight recorders did not have radio beacons, so locating them in the water was going to be challenging.

Speaking on television Monday, Sokolov said terrorism was not among the main theories for the crash cause, and that authorities were looking into a possible technical fault or a pilot error.

The intelligence agency FSB said echoed his comments in a later statement, saying it "has not found any signs or facts pointing to a possible terror attack or sabotage on board." The intelligence agency said it was now focusing its probe on possibilities such as a pilot error, low quality of fuel, external objects getting in the engine or an unspecified technical fault.

Rescue teams had recovered 11 bodies as well as body fragments and flew them Monday to Moscow, where the remains will be identified.

Russia also asked Georgia's breakaway republic of Abkhazia, which lies 7 kilometers (4.3 miles) east of the Sochi airport, to help look for plane debris or bodies.

The plane began its flight from Moscow's military airport of Chkalovsky. The FSB insisted the plane was under its surveillance and that only two people, both FSB officers, got onboard when the jet landed in Sochi for refueling. The plane did not carry any military or dual-use cargo, the FSB said.

Still, several aviation experts noted factors that could suggest a terror attack, such as the crew's failure to report any malfunction and the fact that debris from the plane was scattered over a wide area.

"Possible malfunctions ... certainly wouldn't have prevented the crew from reporting them," Vitaly Andreyev, a former senior Russian air traffic controller, told RIA Novosti.

The plane was taking the Defense Ministry's choir, the Alexandrov Ensemble, to perform at a New Year's concert at Hemeimeem air base in Syria's coastal province of Latakia. Despite the Syrian connection, Sokolov said the government saw no need to heighten security measures at Russian airports.

The Tu-154 is a Soviet-built three-engine airliner designed in the late 1960s. The plane that crashed Sunday was built in 1983, and underwent factory check-ups and maintenance in 2014, the Defense Ministry said.

On Monday, a nationwide day of mourning for the plane victims, red and white carnations piled up outside the Moscow office of the Alexandrov Ensemble. One singer who did not get on the plane for personal reasons said he was devastated at the loss of so many talented colleagues.

Soloist Vadim Ananyev had stayed behind to help his wife with the kids because they just had a new baby.

"I have lost my friends and colleagues, all killed, all five soloists - I feel in complete disarray," Ananyev told The Associated Press. "It is such a shame. I have known these people for 30 years. I know their wives and children. I feel terrible for the children and for all that I have lost."

Ananyev said he had received condolences from all over Russia and from abroad.

"We were loved all over the world, never mind the political situation," he said.

Mourners also lit candles and brought flowers to Channel One and NTV, whose TV journalists were going to Syria to cover the concert, and to a charity founded by Dr. Yelizaveta Glinka, who was on the plane bringing medicines to Syria.

At Sochi's brand-new Adler airport, which was built for the 2014 Winter Olympics, mourners came to light candles at the airport's chapel and lay flowers at an improvised shrine that featured photos of some of the victims. Locals also flocked to the city's port a few miles from the crash site to leave flowers by the waterfront.

Russian TV channels took entertainment shows off their programs Monday and outdoor seasonal celebrations were scrapped across Russia.

In Rome, Pope Francis led thousands of faithful in silent prayer for the plane crash victims and noted that the Russian army choir had performed in 2004 at the Vatican.



Sunday 25 December 2016
Type:Silhouette image of generic T154 model; specific model in this crash may look slightly different
Tupolev 154B-2
Operator:Russian Air Force
Registration: RA-85572
C/n / msn: 83A-572
First flight: 1983
Total airframe hrs:6689
Engines: 3 Kuznetsov NK-8-2U
Crew:Fatalities: 8 / Occupants: 8
Passengers:Fatalities: 84 / Occupants: 84
Total:Fatalities: 92 / Occupants: 92
Airplane damage: Destroyed
Airplane fate: Written off (damaged beyond repair)
Location:6 km (3.8 mls) SW off Adler (   Russia)
Phase: Initial climb (ICL)
Departure airport:Adler/Sochi Airport (AER/URSS), Russia
Destination airport:Latakia-Khmeimim Air Base (LTK/OSLK), Syria
A Tupolev 154B-2 operated by the Russian Air Force was destroyed when it impacted the waters of the Black Sea shortly after takeoff from Adler/Sochi Airport. Wreckage was found at a depth of 50 to 70 metres.

The aircraft carried reporters and the Alexandrov Ensemble, an official army choir of the Russian armed forces, to the Russian air base in Syria. The aircraft originated from Chkalovsky Air Base near Moscow and made a refueling stop at Adler.
The airplane took off from runway 20 at 05:25 hours local time. During climbout the aircraft made a U-turn back towards the coastline and disappeared off radar screens.

» Russian Ministry of Defense

SLOW DOWN: speeding semi-truck overturns on I-76 ramp in King of Prussia, PA

SLOW DOWN:  speeding semi-truck overturns on I-76 ramp in King of Prussia, PA

Updated 23 mins ago
KING OF PRUSSIA, Pa. (WPVI) -- A truck overturned on a highway ramp in King of Prussia on Monday morning.

It happened on the ramp from I-76 westbound to Route 202 southbound shortly before 10 a.m.

Police say the driver of the truck lost control, causing the big rig to flip onto its side.

The truck was hauling what appeared to be construction debris.

The view from Chopper 6 showed the debris spilled in a grassy area off the roadway.

The driver was treated at the scene for minor injuries.

One lane of traffic was getting by the scene.

THE AGING INFRASTRUCTURE: underground gas line fire caused disruptions to subway service in Midtown Manhattan overnight.

THE AGING INFRASTRUCTURE: Underground gas line fire causes subway disruptions in Midtown

The FDNY responded to the scene of an underground gas line fire.

MIDTOWN, Manhattan (WABC) -- Crews are repairing an underground gas line that caused disruptions to subway service in Midtown Manhattan overnight.

An open gas flame was detected coming from a conduit in a control room near the 53rd Street subway station just before 11 p.m.

Power was cut to the subways in the area and two trains were evacuated.

250 passengers were removed from a D train at 34th Street, and 200 passengers were removed from a train at 53rd Street.

Firefighters believe the flame is from a low pressure gas line. The MTA will have to shut down the gas line.

West 53rd Street is closed between 6th and 7th Avenue.

There are also subway disruptions.

The D line was still being rerouted Monday morning but service on the E and F lines resumed by 10 a.m. with delays in both directions.

Travelers can use the A, C, N, Q and 7 but delays are also likely on those lines.

For more information, visit

THE AGING INFRASTRUCTURE: Another Jersey City 6-inch water main break leaves about 150 people without service, floods basements

THE AGING INFRASTRUCTURE: Another Jersey City 6-inch water main break leaves about 150 people without service

Crews were on the scene of a water main break in Jersey City Sunday.

JERSEY CITY, New Jersey (WABC) -- Residents of a neighborhood in Jersey City are hoping their water service will resume Monday.

A water main broke at 2nd Street and Manila Avenue Sunday afternoon.

The six-inch main was shut down for repairs, affecting nearly 150 people.

The Suez Water Company has been working to fix the main and get service back up and running.

One resident had a flooded basement and no service.

"There's thousands of dollars in damage down there," said homeowner Craig Buckbee. "It's not on my Christmas list."