AuthorTopic: Frostbite Falls Newz Links  (Read 101166 times)

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🍸 Drinking Alcohol Tied to Long Life in New Study
« Reply #795 on: February 21, 2018, 10:33:34 AM »
Good Newz!  I should live to be 100!  :icon_sunny:


Drinking Alcohol Tied to Long Life in New Study
Melissa Matthews
,Newsweek•February 20, 2018

Drinking could help you live longer—that's the good news for happy-hour enthusiasts from a study presented at the American Association for the Advancement of Science annual meeting last week. According to the study, people who live to 90 years of age or older often drink moderately.

Related: Want to Live to 100? Centenarian Credits Two Whiskeys a Day for His Longevity

New research indicates that drinking two glasses of beer per day could help you live longer. GULSHAN KHAN/AFP/Getty Images

Trending: After Florida Shooting, Support For Stricter Gun Control Laws Reaches New High In Poll

Neurologist Claudia Kawas and her team at the University of California have been studying the habits of people who live until their 90s since 2003. There’s a paltry amount of research on the oldest-old group, defined as 85 and older by the Social Security Administration, and Kawas wanted to delve into the lifestyle habits of those who live past 90. She began asking about dietary habits, medical history and daily activities via survey, wondering if such data could help identify trends among these who lived longest. Ultimately she gathered information on the habits of 1,700 people between the ages of 90-99.

At the AAAS meeting last week, Kawas reported some results. According to the research, drinking two glasses of beer or wine every day was linked to decreasing risk of dying prematurely by 18 percent, The Independent reported.

“I have no explanation for it, but I do firmly believe that modest drinking improves longevity,” Kawas said at the conference, according to The Independent.

Don't miss: Lil Kim, Kehlani and More Female Hip Hop Stars Open Up on Lizzo's 'Good As Hell' Podcast

The results do not show causation only an unexplained link between drinking and longevity. More information is needed about how the study was conducted before treating wine as the drink at the fountain of youth.


In general, research on alcohol has show mixed results. A recent study published in Scientific Reports showed that drinking might help clear toxins from the brain. The study was conducted on mice, who were given the human equivalent of two and a half alcoholic beverages.

Dr. Maiken Nedergaard of the University of Rochester Medical Center told Newsweek at the time that alcohol did have real health benefits. “Except for a few types of cancer, including unfortunately breast cancer, alcohol is good for almost everything,” Nedergaard said.

But a growing amount of research indicates that the benefits might not outweigh the risks. In November 2017, the American Society of Clinical Oncology issued a statement warning that any drinking, including light alcohol consumption, increased the chances of developing breast, colon, esophageal, larynx and oral cancers. And in January, researchers from the Medical Research Council Laboratory of Molecular Biology in Cambridge, England, found that alcohol caused irreversible DNA damage in the stem cells of animals. Their discovery was published in the journal Nature.

The latest findings are encouraging, and tempting to place alongside reports from centenarians who credit whiskey as an elixir for long life. But it's probably best not to treat alcohol as a prescription for longevity just yet.

This article was first written by Newsweek

Online RE

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End Times at the OD Corral - JHK
« Reply #796 on: March 02, 2018, 02:46:16 PM »
Fucking Kunstler is stealing my metaphors again!  Grrrrr.... 😠

Nothing here we haven't covered on the Diner already.  JHK has us down to just a "few weeks of relative normality" now.  Another JHK failed prediction, or will the Broken Clock be right this time?  ???  :icon_scratch:


End Times at the OD Corral

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🚎 The Case for Free Public Transport
« Reply #797 on: March 08, 2018, 02:56:15 AM »

The Case for Free Public Transport

Public Goods  •  March 6, 2018  •  Connor Beaton

The Scottish Socialist Party (SSP) is a proud advocate of a world-class, fare-free public transport system for Scotland.

Transport has undergone enormous changes in recent decades, both in Scotland and across the world. Some have been cyclical: in Scotland’s capital, trams were built, dismantled, and then reintroduced. In other areas, we have seen consistent trends like the steady deregulation and privatization of services, which has left Edinburgh as the sole city in Scotland with a municipal bus operator.

Rail fares across the UK have soared in comparison to those of our European neighbours, and Scottish transport contracts go out to tender in a farcical franchise system whereby public sector companies in other countries can bid for control while those in Scotland are effectively barred.

Scotland, the country which gave the world the pedal bicycle and the pneumatic tyre, now has a public transport network which is broadly unfit for purpose.

Massive changes have to be made to ensure that our public transport network is not only of a standard befitting the people of Scotland, but one that is adapted to our environmental and economic needs – challenging climate change while connecting communities and creating jobs through enhanced mobility.

    “We call unashamedly for the integration of services – whether bus, rail, ferry, underground or tram – under publicly-owned and democratically-run operators.”

The Scottish Socialist Party is brave enough to identify these changes. We call unashamedly for the integration of services – whether bus, rail, ferry, underground or tram – under publicly-owned and democratically-run operators.

But the bravest step we can take as a nation to totally transform the way we travel is to support the international movement for free public transport and become pioneers of true freedom of movement for working class people.

There is a strong economic, social, and environmental case for adopting this policy throughout the country. There is also precedent from successful fare-free public transport schemes in parts of France, Germany, Belgium, and Estonia as well as far-flung cities in China and the United States. [Ed.: see, and] We have evidence of the policy’s affordability and benefit.

I would put to sceptics that the prospect of free healthcare was once unthinkable. With the creation of NHS Scotland in 1948, hundreds of thousands of people gained access to essential medical care for the first time; the positive impact on Scottish society has been immense. The threat of privatization and marketization is a terrifying prospect for many.

In the same spirit that the NHS was created over half a century ago, we can come together to build a public transport system that works for everyone. We can tackle poverty and social exclusion by extending access across urban and rural Scotland; this will be a financial relief for workers, parents and carers on low incomes, and make it even easier for families to switch from road trips to more eco-friendly bus rides and train journeys.

Building free transport links between rural communities even brings forward the possibility of economic regeneration in the Highlands, the Scottish Borders, and rural Fife, where greater interconnectivity and public investment could instigate growth and begin to reverse the exodus of young people from small towns and villages.

Free transport is neither easy nor cheap, nor can it alone transform Scotland. However, as part of a comprehensive socialist strategy, it can radically change the conditions of Scottish workers and help realise the full potential of totally under-utilized modes of transport.

The SSP has a good track record of winning others to our ideas. We championed free prescriptions in Holyrood and led the broad-based campaign to tackle poverty through the provision free school meals. We are committed supporters of universalism and pioneered many policies which were later taken up by the mainstream parties.
Ambition and Vision

Free transport is yet another distinctive SSP policy with ambition, vision and a firm footing in the needs and aspirations of Scotland. It is a policy whose implementation is not only possible, but increasingly necessary – addressing the pressing ecological crisis facing the world as well as the acute issues of poverty and exclusion at home.

These are among the reasons why free transport proposals are becoming more and more popular across Europe. Many in Scotland point to more affordable and efficient public transport systems in countries like Germany to highlight the shortcomings of our own – but to seek merely to emulate them is to limit our ambition, as proven by the spirited HVV umsonst! campaigners now pushing to scrap fares in Germany’s second-largest city.

In Sweden, anarchist initiative takes a particularly brazen approach to free transport campaigning by encouraging members of the public to leap ticket barriers, while operating a shared pool of funds to pay off any subsequent fines for its members.

Even in Scotland, understanding and appetite for the policy is slowly building. Scottish Green activists came close to persuading the rest of their party to back the progressive policy when it was revisited at their 2014 party conference.

It is often easier in politics to identify problems than solutions. For the SSP, free transport is a valuable idea that carries great potential as an innovative solution to an intersection of problems. For this reason, it is a policy that socialists will develop and promote further in the run-up to next year’s Scottish Parliament election. •

Connor Beaton is the branch organizer of Dundee Scottish Socialist Party (SSP). He serves on the SSP’s Executive Committee.
Nine Points Arguing the Case for Free Public Transport

    Free fares would be the biggest single pro-environment policy enacted by any national government anywhere on the planet, dramatically slashing car use and CO2 emissions.
    Free fares would be the biggest anti-poverty, pro-social inclusion policy enacted in Scotland, or anywhere else in the UK. It is mainly people on low incomes who rely on public transport
    Free fares would cut the number of road accidents, reducing human suffering and relieving pressure on the NHS and the emergency services. The Scottish Executive estimates that road accidents cost £1.4-billion a year to the Scottish economy. (On an average day in Scotland there is one fatal road accident; another 8-10 involving serious injury; and 250-300 minor accidents. The vast majority involve cars.)
    Free fares would be help to reduce the levels of asthma and other respiratory illnesses, which have risen steeply in line with the expansion of road traffic
    Free fares would potentially increase the spending power of over a million workers by between £40 and £100 a month, boosting the overall economy.
    Free fares would increase business efficiency and productivity: the CBI estimates that traffic congestion costs business across Britain between £15 and £20-billion a year.
    Free fares would be a major tourist attraction, bringing hundreds of millions of pounds into the Scottish economy every year from increased visitor numbers. An increase in tourism of just 20 per cent would bring an extra £1-billion into the Scottish economy.
    Free fares would attract worldwide support, especially from the global environmental movement, and would bring pressure to bear on governments throughout Europe and the wider world to adopt a similar policy.
    Free fares would reduce Scotland’s reliance on depleting oil reserves; 67 per cent of all oil produced globally is used for transport.

An Idea Whose Time Has Come

In the early 1980s, the Greater London Council under Ken Livingston slashed fares and began to move towards free public transport. The policy was backed by 71 per cent of Londoners, but was destroyed by the Thatcher government and the Law Lords, backed by the car, haulage and oil industries.

Within a year, ticket prices in London had doubled, car journeys had rocketed and there was an extra 6000 accidents on the city’s roads. A similar policy in South Yorkshire under David Blunkett was similarly torpedoed.

That was before global warming and the dangers of greenhouse gases became widely accepted by scientists. Twenty years on, our towns and cities are heading towards permanent gridlock and scientists are pressing the panic buttons. And the idea of free public transport is starting to make a comeback.

In the Belgian city of Hasselt, which covers an area double the size of Dundee, congestion was eliminated in the late 1980s after the introduction of a totally free public transport system. Within a year, bus passenger journeys rose by 870 per cent and have now increased by over 1000 per cent. In dismal contrast, the Scottish Executive has set a target for an annual increase of one per cent in bus journeys and two per cent in rail journeys.

The Danish government has commissioned a research group to examine the feasibility of a free public transport system (Copenhagen Post November 22, 2006).

The Melbourne Age newspaper, edited by Andrew Jaspan (a former editor of the Sunday Herald, The Scotsman and Scotland on Sunday) has called for state-wide free bus travel in Victoria (“A radical idea,” The Age, May 5, 2006).

Matthew Parrish, a Tory MP under Margaret Thatcher, who played a key role in destroying South Yorkshire’s cheap fares policy, now admits he was wrong and has called for London-wide free bus travel: “I was wrong. I have changed my mind… Never mind the ideology, it just makes sense.” (“It’s big, it’s red, and it’s free – and it will save London,” The Times, May 8, 2003).

Visit Scotland (formerly the Scottish Tourist Board) recently published a report which set out the policy implications of global warming by 2015: “In order to reduce dependency upon the car, we will see a number of measures to move people onto public transport. These will include free public transport for all in Scotland, whether this is buses or trains”. (Visit Scotland report: Tomorrow’s World, May 2006). •
Funding Free Public Transport

This article is a brief summary of the startup and running costs, of implementing the Scottish Socialist Party’s flagship free public transport policy.
Cost of Public Ownership

The Glasgow Underground and Lothian Buses are already in the public sector, though they would need to be re-organized.

The three major targets for public ownership would be First Bus, Stagecoach and ScotRail. This would bring the main transport providers into social ownership.

A big chunk of the transport infrastructure is already publicly-owned and funded, including bus stations, bus shelters, railway stations and the rail track.

However, the buses run by First and Stagecoach would have to be purchased and the workforce transferred to Scotland’s local authorities.

As a rough gauge, the publicly-owned Scottish bus industry was sold in the mid-1990s for just over £200-million (the Scottish Bus Group for £96-million and Strathclyde Buses for £110-million).

Taking into account inflation, investment in buses etc, it would be reasonable to estimate that the cost of bringing the major bus companies into public ownership would be around £300-million (it could be anticipated that bus reregulation would lead to a fall in the value and profitability of the private bus companies).

The ScotRail franchise is due for implicit renewal in 2020. As representatives of the rail unions pointed at the recent Scottish Labour conference, ScotRail could be brought back into the public sector at zero cost. The Scottish Government already subsidises ScotRail to the tune of £200-million a year, even although the franchise is now a profitable concern.
Cost of Expansion to Cope with Increased Demand

Although extra services would be required, this would not be a straightforward equation in line with extra passenger numbers, because many buses and trains run with spare capacity, especially during off peak hours.

There is also substantial duplication and inefficiency arising from bus deregulation; a regulated, planned and integrated transport system would make more effective use of existing resources.

Nonetheless, in order to move vast numbers out of their cars and onto buses, trains and ferries, it will be necessary to accompany a free fares policy with a sizeable expansion of transport provision, especially in rural areas and in cities during peak hours.

It is impossible at this stage to quantify how much that would require, but as a starting point, we would suggest making available an extra £200-million for capital spending (on top of the costs of establishing a publicly-owned and integrated transport system).

An increase in staffing of 50 per cent (eg bus drivers, railworkers etc ) would cost around £250-million a year.

Total estimated costs (on top of existing public transport budget):

TOTAL CAPITAL COSTS – £500-million

(The running cost takes into account savings of over £50-million a year profit from FirstBus, Stagecoach and ScotRail)
Projected Savings

Road accident reduction.
The Scottish Government estimate the annual costs of road accidents in Scotland at £1.4-billion (2003). By slashing road traffic, the toll of death, injury and damage could be reduced substantially, with financial savings to the NHS, business and insurance companies of hundreds of millions of pounds a year.

Traffic congestion reduction.
The business organization, the CBI, estimates that across the UK traffic congestion costs £15 to 20-billion a year. Even allowing for Scotland’s less densely concentrated population, it is likely that free fares would save business up to £1-billion a year.

Road maintenance savings.
In 2007-2008, the Scottish Government will spend almost £900-million on motorways and trunk roads, including maintenance, capital projects and depreciation. Local authorities will spend another £300-million on local road maintenance. There is on top of that a backlog of £1.6-billion of local road repairs outstanding. A substantial reduction in road traffic could save hundreds of millions of pounds annually in road maintenance and repair.

It is likely that an ambitious free transport policy backed up by expansion of services could generate savings to the public sector from roads maintenance and the NHS of anything between £300-million and £500-million.

By reducing congestion and road accidents, it could also save business up to £1-billion, based on the CBI’s own figures. That means a total saving to the Scottish economy of between of up to £1.5-billion annually.

It could also generate further income from extra tourism, and from the economic boost that would be achieved by increasing the spending power of millions of workers.

While substantial sources of funding would be required to establish and run an expanded, integrated, free public transport system it would, in overall terms, be to the advantage rather than to the detriment of the Scottish economy.
Sources of funding

Under Devolution

Even within the constraints imposed by devolution, there are various ways of funding a free public transport system.

Capital costs can be raised by cancelling, scaling down or postponing at least some of the highly expensive transport projects promoted by the Scottish Government, including the high speed rail link between Glasgow and Edinburgh.

The Scottish Government and Scottish Parliament can also transfer funding from the roads budget to the public transport budget.

Holyrood also has powers over the basic rate of income tax of up to three pence in the pound.

Because most of a new public transport system would come under the control of local authorities (and groups of local authorities), any funding for public transport would be designated a supplementary local tax, and therefore would fall within the powers devolved to Holyrood. This provides Holyrood with a range of fund-raising options.

Possible funding options

    Under an income-based local tax, such as the SSP’s proposed Scottish Service Tax, bands could be adjusted accordingly to raise the extra money in a progressive fashion with the rich paying more and the poor paying less.
    The parliament has tax-varying power of up to 3 pence on basic rate income tax. A one per cent increase in income tax would generate at least £300-million a year. By imposing a supplementary local transport tax of three pence for those earning over £30,000 a year, an additional £300-million would be raised. A further £300-million could be raised by increasing the uniform business rate.
    An alternative and straightforward way of financing free public transport would be to levy a ‘transport payroll tax’ on all businesses with more than 10 employees. Such a tax is used widely in France to fund public transport. The Paris Metro, rail and bus system, for example is largely funded through a payroll tax of 2.2 per cent, which generates well over two billion euros a year.
    The tax is set as a percentage of the total wage bill; and is paid by the employer. To raise around £800-million, Scotland would need to set the tax at around 2.5 per cent, applicable to all companies in the private sector with ten employees or more.
    This transport payroll tax could be offset against Corporation Tax, which is paid to the UK exchequer, effectively transferring up to 30 per cent of the costs to Westminter (ie 200-240-million).
    Revenue could also be raised by imposing a special tax on HGV lorries towards the costs of road repairs and maintenance. The average juggernaut inflicts 50,000 times the road damage caused by a car. This HGV mileage tax would be based on annual mileage as registered on tacographs and would offset the roads budget, allowing tens of millions to be reallocated towards the cost of an expanded free public transport system.

Under Independence
Within an independent Scotland, the funding of a free transport initiative would be straightforward.

There would be a range of options available, including oil revenues (the SSP supports extra taxation on oil profits and, ultimately, public ownership of the oil industry).

Hundreds of millions could also be generated through higher corporate taxation and/or a rise in the top rate of income tax.

And, by reducing per capita Scottish defence spending to around the level of the Republic of Ireland, an additional £2-billion would be available for public services and wealth redistribution (Scotland’s share of the bloated UK defence budget is around £3-billion; the Republic of Ireland, which has population of four million, spends just £700-million on defence). •

These articles first published on the website.

Offline monsta666

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YouTube prankster jailed for shooting boyfriend dead
« Reply #798 on: March 15, 2018, 02:17:49 AM »
Shooting someone with a desert eagle at point blank rage and expecting to survive with just a thick book as a shield? I would say this couple could make it as the 2018 candidate for the Darwin Awards.

YouTube prankster jailed for shooting boyfriend dead

The couple had posted videos of their pranks to YouTube in a quest for internet fame

A US woman has been sentenced to six months' imprisonment for shooting dead her boyfriend in a botched stunt they hoped would go viral on YouTube.

Monalisa Perez, now 20, was asked by Pedro Ruiz, 22, to fire a gun from a foot (30cm) away, believing a thick book he held in front of his chest would shield him.

The bullet pierced the 1.5in book, fatally wounding Ruiz last June.

Perez, a mother of two, later pleaded guilty to second-degree manslaughter.
What are Perez's sentencing terms?

Minnesota Judge Jeffrey Remick set out the terms agreed under plea bargaining on Wednesday. Perez will:
  • Serve a 180-day jail term. This will be an alternating 10 days in jail and 10 days out for the first six months, amounting to 90 days behind bars. The remaining 90 days can be served in home confinement. The jail time can be served in South Dakota, where she now lives
  • Serve 10 years of supervised probation
  • Be banned for life from owning firearms
  • Make no financial gain from the case
The sentencing is below state guidelines but Norman County Attorney James Brue said "the reality [is] that this foolish stunt was dreamed up, planned and executed by Pedro Ruiz, and the defendant wrongfully and tragically relied on his assurances that the stunt was safe".

What did the couple want to achieve?

Perez and Ruiz had been documenting their everyday lives in Halstad, Minnesota, by posting videos of their pranks to a YouTube channel in a quest for internet fame.

They had filmed some minor pranks, which seemed relatively harmless.

She told police the stunt had been Ruiz's idea, and that he had to convince her to do it

And there was little indication of how far they were prepared to go in order to become online celebrities until the fatal stunt on 26 June 2017.

On that day Perez fired a powerful Desert Eagle handgun from close range, as Ruiz held an encyclopaedia in front of his chest.

He had experimented previously and thought the thick book would protect him, but the couple's three-year-old child and nearly 30 onlookers watched as she fired a fatal bullet.

Perez called 911 to report she had accidentally shot her boyfriend.

Ruiz was pronounced dead at the scene at their home.

Perez was pregnant with their second child at the time of the shooting.

Online RE

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Re: YouTube prankster jailed for shooting boyfriend dead
« Reply #799 on: March 15, 2018, 02:22:48 AM »
Shooting someone with a desert eagle at point blank rage and expecting to survive with just a thick book as a shield? I would say this couple could make it as the 2018 candidate for the Darwin Awards.

Definite WINNER of a Darwin Award!  :icon_sunny:


Offline Eddie

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Re: Frostbite Falls Newz Links
« Reply #800 on: March 15, 2018, 05:24:18 AM »
He should have used a Bible. Or maybe a .22 instead of a magnum.
What makes the desert beautiful is that somewhere it hides a well.

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Re: Frostbite Falls Newz Links
« Reply #801 on: March 15, 2018, 06:15:03 AM »
He should have used a Bible. Or maybe a .22 instead of a magnum.

Sticking a steel plate into the boot wouldn't have been a bad idea.  Or maybe TESTING the idea first? ???   :icon_scratch:  Shoot through the boot into a straw bale.  If it goes through the boot, it's probably not a good idea to substitute yourself for the straw bale.  ::)

That's why these are Darwin Awards.  People who pull this shit are just plain stupid.  Unfortunately, apparently this fellow reproduced before he went extinct, so those genes are going to persist into the next generation.


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🌉 4 people killed when new pedestrian bridge collapses near Miami
« Reply #802 on: March 16, 2018, 01:28:35 AM »

4 people killed when new pedestrian bridge collapses near Miami, crushing eight cars underneath
by Francisco Alvarado, Susan Svrluga and Faiz Siddiqui March 15 at 8:25 PM Email the author

What we know about the pedestrian bridge collapse in South Florida

A pedestrian bridge still under construction collapsed onto moving traffic in the Miami area on March 15. (Claritza Jimenez/The Washington Post)

MIAMI — A pedestrian bridge hailed for a novel construction method collapsed Thursday over a busy road west of Miami, killing four people, crushing eight vehicles and leaving rescue workers racing to free victims from chunks of concrete and snapped metal.

The bridge was designed to connect the sprawling campus of Florida International University with the nearby city of Sweetwater, and to make it safer for students to cross a frenetic roadway.

Kendall Regional Medical Center physicians Orlando Morejon and Marcela Ramirez said 10 victims had been treated at the hospital. Two were in critical condition.

“Just last week we were celebrating the expanse being completed and now we are here dealing with a tragedy,” Sweetwater Mayor Orlando Lopez said at a news conference Thursday. The bridge, which was installed over the weekend and remained under construction, was not yet open to pedestrians.

President Trump responded to the collapse Thursday evening with prayers.

The bridge, which weighs more than 950 tons, collapsed about 1:30 p.m. “I have no idea what lies underneath, in the rubble,” said Lt. Alex Camacho of the Florida Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles.

Several emergency agencies are responding and the situation is evolving, according to Alvaro Zabaleta, a spokesman for the Miami-Dade Police Department.

Juan Perez, director of the Miami-Dade Police Department, said that a number of families would face “a sad outcome” and that a homicide unit had begun investigating. He declined to discuss whether stress tests had been conducted on the bridge. “It will be days before we have answers,” he said. “This will be an intensive investigation. Right now, we are still in search-and-rescue mode.”

One of the two patients in critical condition at Kendall Regional Medical Center was a man in his 30s who went into cardiac arrest on the way to the hospital, doctors said, but was resuscitated in the emergency room.

The other eight patients at the hospital suffered cuts, bruises, lacerations and fractures, the doctors said.

Southwest Eighth Street is closed in both directions as emergency crews work at the scene, Camacho said.

On Thursday evening, Robert Sumwalt, chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board, said at a news conference in Washington that a team was headed immediately to Miami for the investigation. Asked if the agency knew of deficiencies with this type of bridge, he said he did not know of any, but that if investigators determined there were problems they have the ability to issue urgent recommendations.

He said the agency had been told construction workers were on the bridge at the time of the collapse. “There’a lot we don’t know,” he said, and a lot they intend to find out. “We will be there tonight and we will start talking to people tonight.”

The university’s president, Mark Rosenberg, sent a statement to the campus community. “I am heartbroken at the news of the collapse of the pedestrian bridge on 8th Street and the resulting devastation. We send our deepest condolences to the victims and their families.

“We are working with the appropriate agencies to assist in rescue efforts. As soon as we have further information, we will share it with you. Please keep the victims and their families in your thoughts and prayers.”
Pedestrian bridge collapses at Florida International University

Emergency crews responded March 15 to the collapse of a pedestrian bridge at Florida International University in the Miami area. (Reuters)

A news release from Florida International University on Saturday had touted the bridge’s “first-of-its kind” construction method, and hailed the permanent installation of the bridge’s main span. It stretched 174 feet and weighed 960 tons, according to the release, and was built using what are called “Accelerated Bridge Construction” methods being worked on at the university.

“This method of construction reduces potential risks to workers, commuters and pedestrians and minimizes traffic interruptions,” the release said.

When the bridge was installed, crews using an automated process lifted the span from its supports, turned it 90 degrees across eight lanes and lowered it in place, the release said. The university said it was the largest pedestrian bridge moved by that method, known as Self-Propelled Modular Transportation, in U.S. history.

“This project is an outstanding example of the ABC method,” said Atorod Azizinamini, chairman of FIU’s Civil and Environmental Engineering Department, in the release. “Building the major element of the bridge — its main span superstructure — outside of the traveled way and away from busy Eighth Street is a milestone.”

Last year, the Miami Herald reported that an FIU student was killed while crossing Southwest Eighth Street.

The university had announced Wednesday it would begin issuing fines as part of a pedestrian safety campaign to help protect students walking to campus from Sweetwater and nearby Westchester. The new bridge was scheduled to be completed in early 2019.

The main builder, Munilla Construction Management (MCM), is a major South Florida construction firm that has been hired to rebuild expressways, update part of Miami International Airport, and construct a new test track for a Miami metro rail.

Increasingly, MCM has also successfully bid on federal contracts, winning almost $130 million in work since 2013. The largest contract is for building a school at Guantanamo Bay Naval Station.

MCM is a major contributor to politicians in Miami-Dade County and has been involved in dozens of lawsuits over the last decade, but often for much smaller issues. This month, the firm was sued over $15,000 in damages when a “makeshift bridge” collapsed under the weight of a security worker using it to access a restroom at Miami airport. The man suffered injuries to his elbow, shoulder and wrist, according to court records.

MCM has up-to-date business licenses and no recent code-enforcement violations reported to state authorities. Recent inspection reports for the site of Thursday’s collapse were not immediately available.

In a statement on its Facebook page, MCM said: “Our family’s thoughts and prayers go out to everyone affected by this terrible tragedy. The new UniversityCity Bridge, which was under construction, experienced a catastrophic collapse causing injuries and loss of life. MCM is a family business and we are all devastated and doing everything we can to assist. We will conduct a full investigation to determine exactly what went wrong and will cooperate with investigators on scene in every way.”

FIGG Engineering released a statement Thursday afternoon: “We are stunned by today’s tragic collapse of a pedestrian bridge that was under construction over Southwest Eighth Street in Miami. Our deepest sympathies are with all those affected by this accident. We will fully cooperate with every appropriate authority in reviewing what happened and why. In our 40-year history, nothing like this has ever happened before. Our entire team mourns the loss of life and injuries associated with this devastating tragedy, and our prayers go out to all involved.”

Asked if the construction methods might have factored into the collapse, Ron Sachs, a spokesman for FIGG Engineering, said he could not provide any details on the collapse beyond a statement issued by the company.

“They’re in a fact-finding mode” along with authorities, he said of the company. “They’re stunned and certainly in mourning.”

Sachs said he believed there would be a comprehensive investigation involving authorities, including the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

“We’re going to cooperate with any and all of those,” he said.

Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart (R-Fla.) had touted the bridge as a “creative solution” for challenges to the area’s transportation network in the FIU news release over the weekend. On Thursday, a statement issued through his office reflected the sudden turn of events.

“I am shocked and horrified by the FIU Pedestrian Bridge collapse. I am praying for the victims and families of this tragedy,” he said. “As the NTSB has announced they will be conducting an investigation, I will fully review their findings so we can address how this happened and how to prevent it from ever happening again.”

Experts say the Accelerated Bridge Construction method involves an integrated system of pieces designed to stand as a complete structure, but that have to be supported during construction.

Amjad Aref, a researcher at the University at Buffalo’s Institute of Bridge Engineering, said failures can be catastrophic.

“The loss of stability is a sudden thing, it doesn’t give a warning,” said Aref, whose work involves designing Accelerated Bridge Construction projects.

Aref said the construction method has become popular over the past decade. He would not speculate about the cause of the collapse. In general he said, the process works this way:

“You bring three pieces, three blocks, each block is really strong and [does] their job but if they are not connected properly, they might not stand,” he said. “The idea is in every design you want to take the load from the superstructure, the bridge surface, all the way to the ground safely.

A collapse, he said, would indicate “the system was not completely connected or supported.”

In “any construction when you feel the structure is not completely [finished] you shore it, you put support some cables, some cables, whatever supports it,” he said.

He said Self-Propelled Modular Transportation, the method of installing the bridge section, is common in Europe. The mechanism would typically involve loading the span onto wheeled heavy machinery that places the main span between the supports, turns and hydraulically lifts it into place.

The bridge was funded through a federal TIGER grant, according to the university, a recession-era program created under the Obama administration that pays for road, rail and other projects.

The role of FIU’s Accelerated Bridge Construction University Transportation Center in its construction was unclear. The lab says on its website that it received federal funding in September 2013 after the U.S. Department of Transportation recognized a joint funding proposal submitted by FIU, Iowa State University and the University of Nevada at Reno. The funding enabled the schools to “dive further into their mission of” researching Accelerated Bridge construction, the site says. The center received a second round of U.S. DOT funding in December 2016, the side says.

The center lays out its mission on the site:

“The mission of the ABC-UTC is to reduce the societal costs of bridge construction by reducing the duration of work zones, focusing special attention on preservation, service life, construction costs, education of the profession, and development of a next-generation workforce fully equipped with ABC knowledge,” it says.

Calls to a university number and an email to Azizinamini, director of the bridge center, were not returned on Thursday.

Alexander Concha, 36, and Ivy Polanco, 23, were about to have lunch at Panther’s Boulevard Cafe, about a block away from the bridge. Suddenly, they heard wailing sirens and helicopters buzzing overhead. “Our first reaction was, we hope it’s not the bridge,” Concha said. “On the side where it collapsed, it didn’t seem very secure. It seemed very unsafe.”

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The bridge collapse happened during Florida International’s spring break.

“It’s very lucky that we are on spring break and that this didn’t happen during rush hour,” said Polanco, who is an FIU student. “It could have been so much worse.”

Aaron  Davis and Mark Berman contributed to this report.


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