Amazon – The Most Audacious Logistics Plan in History?

Keeping up with Amazon.com’s many moves in eCommerce and eFulfillment is almost a full time job, and as I have written before, whether Amazon is a friend, a foe, or something in-between for your business, we should all take our hats off to its incredible pace of innovation, much of it in the boring old logistics space.

But none of Amazon’s many moves has topped the news Bloomberg broke last week on Amazon’s plans for an end-to-end global logistics and delivery capability.

Amazon quietly rolled out no less than 43 smaller urban distribution facilities (Prime Now hubs and Fresh Delivery stations) in the US last year, with the goal to enable delivery to a customer’s doorstep in 60 minutes or less. It also opened up four university bookstores and entered into the world of retail brick and mortar.

Rest assured that this is just the tip of the iceberg, as the company is only getting started on its national quick response assault,

“Amazon’s main weakness is that it doesn’t have any stores for people to shop at but they are quickly working on eliminating this barrier.”

If you thought that Amazon was a game changer in 2015, hold onto your hat. The company has built an impenetrable moat that cannot be replicated by any other company.

Amazon will open an incredible 7.2 million square feet of new fulfillment center space in the US in the next two years, an investment of some $1.2 billion in fulfillment space alone.

In late 2015, Amazon was reported to be in talks to lease 20 cargo jets from Boeing. It is also widely assumed Amazon is behind the daily air cargo flights being flown out of the air park in Wilmington, OH, a wonderful facility that once served as DHL’s US hub before it shut down US domestic service, and before that for Airborne Express before it was acquired by DHL.

That “test” started with two daily flights, and has now expanded to five. The company behind the flights is also asking the third-party carrier Air Transport Services Group if service could be expanded to flights to Europe and China – and was told Yes.

Amazon opted to purchase the 75% of French package delivery company Colis Prive it didn’t already own, which puts it in direct competition with FedEx and UPS in that country. Many believe Amazon will use this acquisition to better understand the parcel delivery business – and look for opportunities to innovate well beyond France.

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SUNDAY JAZZ CONCERT: Jazz At The Philharmonic

Jazz You Too

It’s a 1967 BBC produced concert and I was simply amazed at the setlist! I remember most of the musicians playing on my vinyl records of the Newport Jazz Festival jam sessions half a decade later. I respect these records so much both because they are between the first jazz records I bought and they taught me a few things about this special music.

Then if we pay attention to the quality of the musicians involved, the date and the place of the concert and furthermore to what was happening or about to happen in America and Europe ( the Cold War, the Vietnam War, the African-American Civil Rights Movement  and the May 1968 events in France, and how that would affect the world – this is history in video format.

I can’t say which part I like best if I have to choose among Clark Terry, James Moody, Zoot Sims, Dizzy Gillespie, Coleman Hawkins, Benny…

View original post 16 more words

WMATA mulls months-long rail closures for maintenance

The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) could close entire rail lines for as long as six months for maintenance work, local media reported earlier this week.

At a conference with local leaders Wednesday, WMATA Chairman Jack Evans said that weekend and night closures wouldn’t allow enough time to tackle the agency’s high volume of necessary repair work, The Washington Post reported.

The news comes on the heels of the agency’s unprecedented decision to shut down its entire subway system for inspections March 16. During those inspections, crews uncovered 26 locations where cables were damaged and needed repair.

In a message to riders yesterday, WMATA General Manager and Chief Executive Officer Paul Wiedefeld said he’s working on a long-range maintenance plan for the rail system but emphasized that no decisions have been made yet.

He noted that the agency would give “ample notice” to customers before any major service changes occur.

Wiedefeld expects to have the maintenance plan ready in four to six weeks.

Hillary Clinton Is No Barbra Streisand

Streisand supports Clinton with unwarranted grievance

 

n her essay “Sexism in American Politics,” Barbra Streisand has written (or had ghostwritten) the sweeping and quite false claim that Hillary Clinton is “held to a pernicious double standard” only because she’s a woman, a claim that Streisand fails to support with any relevant, substantive evidence.

Streisand claims, correctly, that there is sexism in America, though she omits how little it has affected her own career. She’s earned millions of dollars and won two Oscars by having genuine talent, working hard, and creating actual artistic achievements in music, theatre, and film. Her net worth was estimated at more than $600 million in 2014. Streisand is easily identified by her work, whether performing in “Funny Girl” or “Hello Dolly” or “Yentl” or singing “People” or “Send in the Clowns,” or pick your own Streisand favorite. Her record is clear, extensive, and compelling. She is a star on her merit.

So it’s odd for someone with a life of such consistent accomplishment to hector her readers in support of Hillary Clinton, who has no comparable career of identifiable accomplishment anything close to Streisand’s. Allowing for the difference between the singer/actress and the lawyer/politician, surely a similar catalogue of achievements or causes should be possible for an accomplished lawyer/politician. What is Hillary Clinton best known for? Being a top corporate lawyer, standing by her man, holding office (honorific, elected, appointed), bungling healthcare, attacking Libya, “Benghazi” (whatever its reality), secret Goldman Sachs transcripts, emails, pick your favorite, but where are the “Oscar winners” in the set?

So if it’s not accomplishments that distinguish Hillary Clinton, what about lasting commitment to just and honorable causes, even in the face of frustration and setback? Is such an example in her lengthy resume? Hillary Clinton is not now and never has been a person of consistent, principled integrity. She has dabbled with democratic decency, but without being committed to making it her life’s work. That’s not to say she hasn’t done much good for people at times. Her record is replete with moments of real grace and service to a variety of good causes. But there is no clear, sustained engagement in any of those causes. What does she truly and deeply stand for? Take this little test:

Hillary Clinton is closely associated with the cause of __________ [fill in the blank]. 

Name a cause that immediately makes you think: “Hillary led that! Hillary stands for that! Hillary has always been there for that!” There seems to be no obvious, clear, no-brainer answer. That’s because she has spent her life devoted to no particular cause larger than herself (and Bill and Chelsea). Instead she’s given token, or sometimes even meaningful support to 26 charities and 30 causes, according to Look to the Stars. And she has worked hard, apparently, for the Clinton Foundation. (By comparison, Streisand has 23 causes and 13 charities, including the Clinton Foundation.)

At the beginning of her piece, Streisand compares Hillary Clinton to Eleanor Roosevelt. Or rather, more revealingly, Streisand describes how Streisand herself compared Clinton to Roosevelt 22 years ago, when Clinton was still First Lady. But the comparison is not about commitment and accomplishment, it’s about their both being treated “rudely and meanly” (Michelle Obama is not mentioned, an omission that some might think reflected another kind of “pernicious double standard”). Streisand complains that Brit Hume and Joe Scarborough were mean to Clinton, as if their shallow, mean-spirited opinions matter much to anyone but their ex-wives.

Streisand also tells a tale of Flint, Michigan, mayor Karen Weaver praising Hillary Clinton (whom Weaver has endorsed), for helping Flint with its water crisis. Streisand omits the $500,000 from Clinton backers J.B. and M.K. Pritzker of Chicago to help those hurt by the Flint water crisis. (J.B. Pritzker’s sister, Penny Pritzker, is currently the U.S. Secretary of Commerce.)

From there, Streisand drifts off into rambling resentment of Republican rancor, all of which is real enough, but is a long way from demonstrating any accomplishment that qualifies Clinton for the presidency. Similarly, Streisand speculates on how Clinton would be treated if she behaved like Trump – as if Trump weren’t already being treated pretty roughly by a lot of those rancorous Republicans.

Streisand concludes with a few jumbled paragraphs that cite Margaret Thatcher as a role model, that scaremonger about Donald Trump, that comment on polling that shows voters prefer Clinton to Trump (while omitting polling that shows voters preferring Sanders even more), and that re-assert Clinton’s “strength, experience and compassion” without having demonstrated any of it with any specific accomplishment or cause.

In the end, Streisand fails to face a decidedly un-sexist reality: Hillary Clinton is no Eleanor Roosevelt.

What does it take to be a “Great American Woman”? 

Hillary Clinton is listed among “100 Great American Women” since 1776 on the Eve Blog in 2010. It’s not clear what the Eve Blog’s criteria were for inclusion, since the list also includes Sarah Palin, Condoleezza Rice, Geraldine Ferraro, and Meg Whitman, whose “accomplishments” are as dubious as Clinton’s. Most of the “great women” on the list are undeniably accomplished in a wide range of ways. They include Maya Angelou, Clara Barton, Rachel Carson, Dorothea Dix, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Barbara Jordan, Barbara Mikulski, Rosa Parks, Harriet Tubman, and Jody Williams. Hillary Clinton is none of these people. She is certainly no Jody Williams, who won the Nobel Peace Prize for working to ban landmines around the world. (Hillary Clinton is now in favor of the US signing the landmine ban treaty, but it wasn’t a high priority for her as Secretary of State, and as a senator she voted to let the US military continue to use cluster bombs.)

For whatever reasons, Eve Blog’s “great women” list has some striking omissions, perhaps most notably, the first woman “acting president,” Edith Bolling Galt Wilson, who took over much of President Wilson’s workload after his debilitating stroke in October 1919. According to a Republican senator at the time, Mrs. Wilson was “the Presidentress who had fulfilled the dream of the suffragettes by changing her title from First Lady to Acting First Man.”

Another omission is Rep. Pat Schroeder, a Harvard-trained lawyer and Democrat who served Colorado for 24 years in the US House of Representatives. During her first campaign in 1972, the FBI put her and her staff under covert surveillance, paid a man to break into her home, and compiled a 60-page file on her, all of which came to naught. She ran briefly for President in 1987, dropping out when she could not raise enough money to compete in a crowded field. Continuing in the House, Schroeder was a prime mover of the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993. In May of 1996, when Hillary Clinton was supporting the Defense of Marriage Act, Schroeder voice opposition: “You can’t amend the Constitution with a statute. Everybody knows that. This is just stirring the political waters and seeing what hate you can unleash.” The statute, signed into law by President Clinton, was later found unconstitutional.

Other Eve Blog omissions include Gertrude Stein, Julia Child, A.M. Homes, Amy Goodman, Molly Ivins, Barbara Boxer, Ida Lupino, Barbara Lee, Medea Benjamin, or Tulsi Gabbard, all women of clear principle and courage.

The blog list does include Rep. Shirley Chisholm, the first African American woman elected to Congress (1968), and the first woman to run for President (1972). She ran “unbought and unbossed,” and she ran “to repudiate the ridiculous notion that the American people will not vote for qualified candidates, simply because he is not white or because she is not a male.” She did not expect to win, she expected to contribute to changing the country in a fundamental way: “In the end, anti-black, anti-female, and all forms of discrimination are equivalent to the same thing – anti-humanism.”

Back in November 2015, Bernie Sanders responded with humane grace to a question about his differences with Clinton: “we do agree on a number of issues, and by the way, on her worst day, Hillary Clinton will be an infinitely better candidate and President than the Republican candidate on his best day. But having said that, we have very significant differences and the key difference is I see a nation in which we have a grotesque level of income and wealth inequality.”

There is no sexism in that response. There is no sexism in comparing Hillary Clinton to other American women, especially women who have had far fewer advantages than she has. Hillary Clinton is no Shirley Chisholm, she is no Pat Schroeder, she is no Susan Sarandon. But who is she?

William Boardman, Reader Supported News

AAR debuts latest version of ‘Freight Rail Works’ campaign

The Association of American Railroads (AAR)  unveiled a new installment of its “Freight Rail Works” campaign, which highlights the role freight railroads play in the national economy.

The 2016 campaign explains the amount of freight — from cars to consumer goods to large-scale industrial materials — moved every year for each American, according to an AAR press release.

Freight rail accounts for about 40 percent of intercity freight volume, which is more than any other mode of shipping. In 2015, the industry set a record for intermodal freight volume, moving 13.7 million containers and trailers, AAR officials said.

The latest campaign installment will feature TV, digital, social and mobile media components. As part of the campaign, Freight Rail Works spokesman Jeremy Brandt will explore the rail industry’s role in the national shipping ecosystem.

“This year’s campaign visually brings to life the vast scale of goods moved around the U.S. and tells how freight rail’s private investments contribute to the safe and efficient movement of goods,” said AAR President and Chief Executive Officer Edward Hamberger.

The “Freight Rail Works” campaign was first launched in 2007.

Comets, LaBate Route Binghamton

The Utica Comets jumped out to a quick 4-0 lead and never looked back en route to defeating the Binghamton Senators 4-1 Saturday night at the Floyd L. Maines Veterans Memorial Arena. The Comets, on a four-game winning streak, saw their magic number to clinch a playoff spot get reduced to just five points after the Syracuse Crunch lost to the Rochester Americans 5-1.

Joseph LaBate (2-0-2), Taylor Fedun (1-1-2), and T.J. Hensick (0-2-2) posted multi-point nights, while Carter Bancks scored his 13th of the season. Richard Bachman made 26 saves for his 15th win of the season. The power-play unit clicked twice in four chances, while the penalty-killing unit was a perfect 4-for-4.

The first period could not have been better scripted for the Comets. A three goal first period was kicked off 10:26 into the game when Joseph LaBate redirected T.J. Hensick’s shot from the top of the circle up and over O’Connor for his seventh goal of the season. It was a bit of a quirky goal as no player could find the puck that was suspended in the air for several seconds before it crashed back down to the crease, and kicked into the net for the power-play goal.

LaBate struck again seven minutes later when his slapshot from the top of the left circle was wired past O’Connor’s blocker for his second of the night.

The Comets concluded the 17-shot first period barrage with a second power-play goal on their second opportunity of the night. With LaBate wreaking Havoc at the top of the crease, Taylor Fedun blasted a slapshot through traffic and past O’Connor’s leg pad for his seventh of the season.

The Comets rode the early momentum into the second period and scored just 43 seconds into the period. Carter Bancks improved on his career year with a wrist over the blocker of O’Connor for his 13th goal of the season.

The Senators were finally able to get on the board late in the second period thanks to Mark Fraser’s second goal of the year.

With the win, the Comets record improves to 35-23-7-4.

The Comets put the finishing touches on their three-in-three weekend with a critical home game against the Syracuse Crunch. The Comets can seal the deal and win their third consecutive Galaxy Cup with a regulation win. Puck drop is scheduled for 3pm at The AUD.

CT: Amtrak, Metro-North Say They’re Ready To Meet Safety Deadline, Regulators Report

Metro-North is telling federal regulators that it’s on course to fully install GPS-based safety technology by 2018, even though some of the country’s biggest freight railroads will take longer.

As part of its new strategy to hold the industry more accountable for establishing the “positive train control system,” the Federal Railroad Administration on Wednesday began publicly issuing progress reports for each railroad.

The two major passenger operators in Connecticut, Amtrak and Metro-North, advised the federal agency that they are on schedule to meet the 2018 deadline.

But CSX and Norfolk Southern, the two biggest freight railroads on the East Coast, are both telling regulators that they won’t be ready until 2020.

Under pressure from the railroad industry and freight shippers’ lobbyists, Congress last fall waived the 2015 deadline it had set years earlier and instead allowed railroads until December 2018 to put positive train control in place. It also said federal regulators could allow further extensions through 2020 on a case-by-case basis.

Federal Railroad Administrator Sarah Feinberg has opposed further delays. On Wednesday she said she’s concerned that some railroads already appear to be counting on extensions through 2020.

“Positive train control prevents rail accidents and saves lives. We are encouraged that many railroads have submitted plans to meet — some even to beat — 2018,” Feinberg said. “But we remain concerned that several other freight and passenger railroads are aiming for 2020.”

At a rail industry conference in November, Feinberg cited Amtrak’s deadly 106 mph wreck last May as proof that the new safety system must be a priority.

“The Amtrak accident in Philadelphia remains a stark reminder of both what can happen without PTC, and the sense of urgency required to prevent a similar accident in the future,” she said, cautioning executives to view 2018 as “the absolute latest moment for implementation.”

The system is designed to steadily track trains and stop them when they exceed speed limits or come close to colliding. Installing it is a complex, multibillion-dollar task, but Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., a prominent rail safety advocate, has said there’s no justification for more extensions.

“I call on all railroads to follow the leadership of others moving quickly — like Amtrak — and finish implementation immediately, without delay or excuse. Lives hang in the balance,” Blumenthal said.

Metro-North was plagued by derailments and fatal accidents in 2013, and investigators determined that positive train control could have prevented some of them. Railroad President Joseph Giulietti said in late January that Metro-North workers should have the system working in 2018.

Feinberg’s agency said it will release quarterly reports on the progress of each railroad. Union Pacific and BNSF, two of the country’s biggest freight operations, are both telling the FRA they will be ready in 2018.

The Hartford Courant