WMATA uncovers 26 defective areas during emergency inspections

During yesterday’s emergency inspections, Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) crews identified 26 locations where damaged jumper cables and connector boots needed to be repaired or replaced.

In a YouTube video released yesterday, WMATA provided a closer look at some damaged cables in a Metrorail tunnel.
Photo: Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority

All but four of the defective locations have been remedied as of last night, WMATA officials said in a press release. Repairs at the remaining locations are underway.

To perform the inspections, the agency took the unprecedented step of shutting down the entire Metrorail system for 29 hours. The closure began Wednesday at midnight and continued until 5 a.m. today.

Investigators are reviewing the history of the damaged boots and cables and will share their findings with the Federal Transit Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board. Investigators also will review inspection records, age of materials and maintenance records to identify any procedures that were not followed or standards that weren’t met, WMATA officials said.

The suspension of Metrorail service followed an electrical fire involving a cable in the the tunnel near McPherson Square Station on Monday. No injuries were reported, but conditions of the fire were “disturbingly similar” to the January 2015 smoke incident in a tunnel near the L’Enfant Plaza Station, WMATA General Manager and Chief Executive Officer Paul Wiedefeld said.

UPS reportedly eyes Coyote as logistics mergers multiply

Acquisition and merger activity in the third-party logistics and transportation markets is increasingly frenzied, as 3PLs and transport operators look to build the scale and provide the services needed to hook and land large shippers.

Talks and rumors of talks have increased following several major acquisitions, including the purchase of Norbert Desentrangle by XPO Logistics, Kuehne + Nagel’s acquisition of ReTrans and FedEx’s acquisition of GENCO and its bid for asset-based TNT Express.

Today, Bloomberg and then Reuters and the Wall Street Journal reported UPS is in talks to buy Coyote Logistics, a $2 billion logistics company, for $1.8 billion. All the reports were attributed to unnamed sources “familiar” with the negotiations. Bloomberg said the purchase of Coyote Logistics at that price would be the third-largest this year in the logistics space, but noted “no agreement has been reached and discussions could still fall apart.”

Regardless, the reports underscore the increasing need for logistics operators to not only build scale by acquiring companies but to provide nearly ubiquitous, precise levels of service for customers worldwide. This isn’t just the “one-stop shop” craze that motivated many acquisitions in the 1990s and early 2000s. Shippers want higher levels of service in multiple markets and a seamless interface between them.

They want 3PLs that not only deliver freight, but a high-quality customer experience that saves them money.

“We’re seeing growing desire to deal with pure players,” Shawn Boyd, executive vice president of sales and marketing for North America at DHL Global Forwarding, said in an interview after the company launched a U.S.-Mexico cross-border trucking service. “Our customers are reducing the number of carriers and providers that they use. If we can prove we can handle their business in one area, it makes the expansion into other areas easier. And they want to see us service the business in the same way.”

Whether it happens or not, the prospect of a UPS-Coyote hookup is interesting, and reports or rumors of talks and even talks about talks shouldn’t be surprising.

Coyote, founded in 2006 by entrepreneur and former American Backhaulers executive Jeff Silver, is one of the fastest-growing U.S. logistics companies, and is famed for “no excuses” customer service and innovation. The company added $1 billion to its revenue in the past two years and had a 680 percent compound five-year growth rate.

UPS Supply Chains Solutions had $9.4 billion in revenue last year, a 5.1 percent increase from 2013. Analysts say the division handles little brokerage, and an operation of Coyote’s caliber could deliver a real jolt to the its domestic operations. Likewise, UPS, in theory, could channel more international business into Coyote’s domestic freight lanes.

Coyote, which has grown rapidly by focusing on truckload freight, is also targeting less-than-truckload business. Last year the company named Tommy Barnes, former president of Con-way Multimodal, senior vice president of Coyote operations and president of its LTL business. UPS is the parent of the fifth-largest U.S. LTL carrier, UPS Freight.

It’s easy to see why UPS might be attracted to Coyote. A deal with Coyote could be the most transformative for UPS’s supply chain business since its purchase of Overnite Transportation, now UPS Freight, in 2005.

However, the success of any UPS-Coyote match would likely depend on the preservation of Coyote’s think-outside-the-box, work-and-play-hard, team-driven culture. The company’s young employees refer to each other as “Coyotes” and belong to “The Pack.”

Anyone wearing a suit and tie and carrying a briefcase in Coyote’s Chicago headquarters is probably a visitor, or lost. Analysts and consultants, including SJ Consulting Group’s Satish Jindel, question whether the two companies would be “a good fit.”

As Coyote gets bigger, passing the $2 billion mark in less than 10 years, maintaining its frenetic growth gets harder. According to earlier reports, Coyote already is considering an initial public offering this year that could raise several hundred million dollars. Going public is another option in the company’s long-term strategy to maintain and accelerate growth.

Anonymous Declares ‘Total War’ on Donald Trump

The hacking group Anonymous is urging its followers to launch a barrage of cyberattacks on April 1 to take down Donald Trump’s websites and expose the “appalling” GOP presidential candidate.

“We need you to shut down his websites, research and expose what he doesn’t want the public to know,” a person wearing the group’s trademark Guy Fawkes mask says in a video posted by to an Anonymous YouTube channel. “We need you to dismantle his campaign and sabotage his brand.”

In a separate written statement, Anonymous encouraged hackers to target the business mogul’s websites, including donaldjtrump.com, trump.com and trumphotelcollection.com.

Anonymous also released Trump’s alleged personal details, such as his cellphone number and Social Security number, to help hackers harass the Republican presidential front-runner.

“Dear Donald Trump, we have been watching you for a long time, and what we see is deeply disturbing,” the video says. “You have shocked the entire planet with your appalling actions and ideals.”

“You say what your current audience wants to hear, but in reality you don’t stand for anything except your personal greed and power,” it adds.

Anonymous, an anarchist activist group, initially declared digital war on the Republican presidential front-runner last December after Trump proposed to ban all Muslims from entering the U.S.

But the declaration never made much of an impact.

In the new video posted recently, Anonymous claims that “loyalists and veterans” of the group had decided to relaunch the cyber war “on a larger scale.”

“This is a call to arms,” the video says. “This is a call to protect our future, our freedom and our very way of life.”

In the last year, Anonymous has waged a number of high-profile cyber campaigns against groups such as the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria and the Ku Klux Klan.

While the group has taken credit for exposing KKK members and eradicating thousands of ISIS-related Twitter accounts, many have criticized the group for over-promising and leaking inaccurate information.

But the group insisted Operation Trump, or #OpTrump, is “important” given Trump’s “disturbing” policy positions.

“This is not a warning, this is a declaration of total war,” the video says. “Operation Trump engaged.”

 

Cory Bennett, The Hill

How the ‘New York Times’ Sandbagged Bernie Sanders

Online, we see both faces of the Gray Lady

T

he New York Times ran a piece about Bernie Sanders Monday, a sort of left-handed compliment of a legislative profile. It was called “Bernie Sanders Scored Victories for Years Via Legislative Side Doors.”

I took notice of the piece by Jennifer Steinhauer because I wrote essentially the same article nearly 11 years ago. Mine, called “Four Amendments and a Funeral,” was a Rolling Stone feature. Sanders back then was anxious that people know how Congress worked, and also how it didn’t work, so he invited me to tag along for weeks to follow the process of a series of amendments he tried (and mostly succeeded) to pass in the House.

I came to the same conclusions that Steinhauer did initially: that Sanders was skilled at the amendment process and also had a unique ability to reach across the aisle to make deals.

“Sanders is the amendment king of the current House of Representative. Since the Republicans took over Congress in 1995, no other lawmaker… has passed more roll-call amendments (amendments that actually went to a vote on the floor) than Bernie Sanders. He accomplishes this on the one hand by being relentlessly active, and on the other by using his status as an Independent to form left-right coalitions.”

Steinhauer the other day wrote very nearly the same thing. She described how Bernie managed to get a $1.5 billion youth jobs amendment tacked onto an immigration bill through “wheeling and dealing, shaming and cajoling.”

The amendment, she wrote, was “classic Bernie Sanders,” a man she described as having “spent a quarter-century in Congress working the side door, tacking on amendments to larger bills that scratch his particular policy itches, generally focused on working-class Americans, income inequality and the environment.”

Now, Steinhauer’s piece wasn’t all flattering. This is, after all, the New York Times, which has practically been an official mouthpiece for the Clinton campaign this election season.

Though we both operated on the same set of facts — i.e., that Sanders had an extensive history of building coalitions to pass amendments — Steinhauer implied that Sanders often acted as a kind of lefty obstructionist, using Republicans to thwart more centrist initiatives. “Mr. Sanders is not unlike Tea Party Republicans in his tactics, except his are a decaf version,” she wrote.

She added, “While he is unlikely to turn against his party on important votes, he is most proud of the things he has tried, unsuccessfully, to block.” She listed the Iraq War, the Wall Street bailout and the Patriot Act as some of those things.

Still, Steinhauer was reluctant to describe Sanders as a mere spoilsport, not someone who “gets things done,” as is often said of Hillary Clinton.

“But in spite of persistent carping that Mr. Sanders is nothing but a quixotic crusader,” Steinhauer wrote, “he has often been an effective, albeit modest, legislator.”

Given how tough the Times has been on Sanders this election season (in October, the paper even sank to writing an article about his failure to kiss enough babies), the Steinhauer piece was actually sort of flattering. Sanders himself linked to the article. Maybe the paper was coming around?

Not so fast! As noted first in this piece on Medium (“Proof That the New York Times Isn’t Feeling the Bern“), the paper swiftly made a series of significant corrections online. A new version of the piece came out later the same day, and in my mind, the corrections changed the overall message of the article.

First, as noted in the Medium piece, they changed the headline. It went from:

Bernie Sanders Scored Victories for Years Via Legislative Side Doors

to:

Via Legislative Side Doors, Bernie Sanders Won Modest Victories

Then they yanked a quote from Bernie’s longtime policy adviser Warren Gunnels that read, “It has been a very successful strategy.”

They then added the following two paragraphs:

“But in his presidential campaign Mr. Sanders is trying to scale up those kinds of proposals as a national agenda, and there is little to draw from his small-ball legislative approach to suggest that he could succeed.

“Mr. Sanders is suddenly promising not just a few stars here and there, but the moon and a good part of the sun, from free college tuition paid for with giant tax hikes to a huge increase in government health care, which has made even liberal Democrats skeptical.”

This stuff could have been written by the Clinton campaign. It’s stridently derisive, essentially saying there’s no evidence Bernie’s “small-ball” approach (I guess Republicans aren’t the only ones not above testicular innuendo) could ever succeed on the big stage.

The second paragraph just reeks of a passage written by an editor. It’s horrible English. Attention, New York Times: “A few stars here and there” is actually more than “the moon and a good part of the sun.”

There were other changes, as noted in the Medium piece. The salutary line about Sanders being an “effective, albeit modest legislator” – a key passage that in the original article directly contradicted the Clinton-camp contention that Sanders can’t “get things done” – is now followed by a sort of disclaimer:

“He has enacted his agenda piece by piece, in politically digestible chunks with few sweeping legislative achievements in a quarter-century in Congress.”

Right. He’s effective, except for the part where he hasn’t had any significant achievements in 25 years.

Worse, the line about “tacking on amendments to larger bills that scratch his particular policy itches” has now, absurdly, been rewritten to read:

“…tacking on amendments to larger bills to succeed at the margins.”

I reached out to Steinhauer, whom the paper put in a very uncomfortable position by making such extensive edits in public. She essentially replied that in the Internet age, this sort of stuff is routine, and articles evolve.

“The good part about digital publishing is that we get more things to our readers more quickly but it also means that complete editing sometimes comes ends at the end of the day,” she said. “Two or more versions are now pretty common with all our work, as you probably know.”

Well, not so much, actually. Online content does change a bit from time to time, but I’ve never been in a situation where an editor has asked me to alter the overall meaning of a piece, which is what happened in this case.

Steinhauer’s article as originally published told a story about how effective Sanders has been at getting amendments passed. It’s more or less the same story I wrote back in 2005, an essentially positive take that even Sanders liked enough to publicize.

The new version, though, reads very differently. In it, Sanders is described as a “small-ball” legislator whose career has been spent doing unimportant little things. The focus of the piece is now less on the what of his legislative victories than on the where: the margins.

This is a substantively different message than the first piece, and certainly not flattering. You won’t find the Sanders camp linking to it.

The Times has taken a lot of heat from Sanders fans for not covering him enough and for its generally sarcastic approach to his run. And at times, the paper’s editors have seemed to tone things down in response to criticism. They even removed a description of him as a “Grumpy Old Socialist” in the headline to this piece.

If you’re a Sanders fan, that’s great, but it’s not like the paper is under any obligation to be nice. It’s not. It’s a private company and it can take any editorial line it wants.

But this kind of stuff is pathetic. Jennifer Steinhauer is right, we do make tweaks all the time. But usually changes are minor and factual in nature. You fix a wrong number or a misspelled name, maybe, or at most you’ll chip away at a passage to make it flow a little better.

A change to a quote by John McCain in this piece is an example of something that just feels like a routine fix. The original passage had McCain talking about an amendment he worked on with Bernie to expand care for veterans.

It was a long quote and in the new version, the Times yanked the last sentence, which read, “It was the first real reform of the V.A. ever.” But it still has McCain calling Bernie an “honest liberal” and describing him as “very effective.”

There was not much of a substantive change there. They just made a long quote shorter, which is something we do in this business all the time (ideally before publication, of course, but I guess these days after is becoming the norm, too).

But the rest of these changes go to the heart of the meaning of the article, which is unusual and seemingly a nasty thing to do to the reporter, particularly since the changes read like talking points added by a Clinton aide. I would go ape if an editor pulled something like that on me in public.

If you’re Sanders, you now know what’s going to shake loose when reporting about you goes upstairs to the Times editors. It’s not immoral or anything, just sort of crass. And odd, that they don’t care that their readers now know, too.

By Matt Taibbi, Rolling Stone

What Do You Do For A Living?

It’s a simple question, and you’ve probably answered it hundreds of times. “What do you do?” If you’re like most people, you probably get the answer dead wrong.

Your standard reply is probably a factual description of your current job.

The right answer is: what you WANT to do.

The best way to pick up this habit is to take a trip to Los Angeles. Ask your cab driver what he does. “I’m a screenwriter,” he could say, “Working on a thriller about two school children who stumble onto a plot to blow up the Hoover Dam.”

When you go out to dinner, ask the same question of your waitress. The odds are 50/50 she’ll say, “I’m an actress.”

24-year-old interns are “directors”. 44-year-old ad agency execs are “producers”. Everyone talks about their aspirations, not what paid the rent this month.

Now some may argue that Los Angeles is La La Land, and there is nothing to be learned from people who are dreaming big and perhaps spinning their wheels. But I disagree.

You are probably much closer to your goals than an aspiring Hollywood actor. The main thing standing in your way is your willingness to say what you want.

Since you are probably reading this on LinkedIn, here’s a quick and easy way to test my theory. Click over to your profile and check out your Summary. Which of the following does it describe?

a. What you’ve done

b. What you want to do

One of the main purposes of LinkedIn is to help you discover career opportunities, so you might guess that this is the one place where people say what they want to do.

You would be wrong.

Most people say what they have done.

I’m not telling you to lie. I’m telling you to be bold enough to tell people what you want. Your resume says what you’ve done. That’s in the past.

When I was in the training business, an executive asked one of my colleagues whether we had a two-day training program customized for his industry. “Yes, we do,” said my colleague, who then spent the weekend creating such a program. He combined initiative, imagination and effort… and won a new client.

The happiest and most successful people nearly always have a sense of what they want to do next, or of how they wish to grow. They are able to say where they are headed, instead of where they have been the past few years. If you met Elon Musk, I bet he wouldn’t talk much about Paypal; he would probably tell you about how he plans to make space flight routine.

Whenever humanly possible, say what you want, not what you do.

Bruce Kasanoff is a ghostwriter for entrepreneurs. Learn more at Kasanoff.com. You might also like his $4.95 Kindle books…

Which city has the world’s worst traffic jams?

Indonesia’s capital Jakarta has the world’s worst traffic jams according to a new survey by Castrol, its 2014 Magnatec Stop-Start Index. Have sympathy for the city’s drivers, who were recorded as suffering 33,240 stop-starts per year, meaning they spent 27.22% of their total travel time going nowehere.

The next worst city was Istanbul, with drivers spending nearly 29% of their travel time stationary.

1. Jakarta, Indonesia (33,240 stops-starts per car per year)
2. Istanbul, Turkey (32, 520)
3. Mexico City, Mexico (30,840)
4. Surabaya, Indonesia (29,880)
5. St. Petersburg, Russia (29,040)
6. Moscow, Russia (28,680)
7. Rome, Italy (28,680)
8. Bangkok, Thailand (27,480)
9. Guadalajara, Mexico (24,840)
10. Buenos Aires, Argentina (23,760)