Archive for December, 2012

US winemaker jailed for bus driver attack

December 17, 2012: Video of Samuel Smith?s ferocious attack on a Bondi bus driver shows the 27-year-old Californian repeatedly kick and punch John Olsen, 57, as he tried to defend himself.

An American man from a prominent wine-making family has been jailed for punching and kneeing a Sydney bus driver in a brutal attack that was caught on CCTV.

There were no other passengers aboard at the time but the bus’s security cameras filmed Smith as he rained blows on the hapless driver.

Smith, who was working as a sommelier at Sydney’s prestigious Testsuyas restaurant, lashed out at Mr Olsen after refusing to get off the bus at the end of its route.

Smith kicked, punched and kneed the bus driver outside the vehicle, at one point grabbing him in a headlock.

After initially halting the onslaught he returned to kick Mr Olsen, who had retreated to the driver’s seat.

Smith kicks the Sydney bus driver. (Nine News)

Smith kicks the Sydney bus driver. (Nine News)

Smith was arrested on September 27 after CCTV images of him were widely circulated in the media.

He admitted hitting Mr Olsen but told police that the bus driver had started the attack despite Smith not suffering any injuries.

Magistrate Jacqui Milledge told Smith, who comes from a well-known wine-making family in California’s Napa Valley, that “it was an attack on a vulnerable person”.

“Bus drivers are vulnerable and passengers need to behave,” she said.

Smith was sentenced to nine months jail but has said he will appeal the sentence.

John Olsen, who has been assaulted 11 times, has since retired.

US in shock as primary school shooting kills 27

27 people, including 20 children aged between five and 10, were killed on Friday morning when a gunman, named as Adam Lanza, opened fire at Sandy Hook Elementary School in the US state of Connecticut. Police have confirmed the gunman is dead.

? 27 people have been killed in a shooting attack at a Connecticut primary school.

? 20 children are among the dead at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown.

? The toll is the second highest in a US school shooting after the 2007 Virginia Tech shooting, which left 33 dead.
? The gunman has been identified as 20-year-old Adam Lanza, his 24-year-old brother Ryan Lanza was held for questioning in New Jersey. Early reports had confused the brothers? names.
? President Obama wiped tears from his eyes as he gave a brief address, saying the nation had been ?through this too many times? with recent mass shootings and had to come together to take meaningful action, ?regardless of the politics.?
? Lanza killed his mother, a teacher, and opened fire on her class
? Another adult has been found murdered in nearby house

A gunman killed 26 people, including 20 young children, at a U.S. school where his mother worked Friday morning in one of the worst school shootings in the country?s history. Frightened students who were rushed from the building by police were told to close their eyes.

?Our hearts are broken today,? President Barack Obama said, wiping his eyes during brief comments to reporters in one of the most emotional public moments of his presidency. He said the children killed were 5 to 10 years old.

He said the nation had been ?through this too many times? with recent mass shootings and has to come together to take meaningful action, ?regardless of the politics.? He did not give details, even as the debate over the issue of gun control in America exploded once again.

A law enforcement official said the suspect, 20-year-old Adam Lanza, was dead from a self-inflicted gunshot wound, and he was the son of a teacher at the school. A second law enforcement official said the mother, Nancy Lanza, was presumed dead.

The first official said Adam Lanza?s older brother, 24-year-old Ryan, was being questioned by police. An earlier report from a law enforcement official mistakenly transposed the brothers? first names. Both officials spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak on the record about the developing criminal investigation.

 

 

The attack at Sandy Hook Elementary School, just two weeks before Christmas, was the latest of several mass shootings in the U.S. this year, and it approached the deadly scope of the Virginia Tech university massacre in 2007 that left 32 dead.

This time, many victims were young children. Photos from the scene showed students, some of them crying, being escorted by adults through a parking lot in a line, hands on each other?s shoulders. Children told their parents they had heard bangs and, at one point, a scream over the intercom.

State police said 18 children were found dead at the school and two later were declared dead, and six adults were found dead at the scene. They said the shootings occurred in one section of the school but did not give details.

Police said another person was found dead at a second scene, leading to a total death toll of 28. Gov. Dannel P. Malloy said someone who lived with the gunman died.

According to the second law enforcement official, the suspect drove to the scene in his mother?s car. Three guns were found – a Glock and a Sig Sauer, both pistols – and a .223-caliber rifle.

The official also said Lanza?s girlfriend and another friend are missing in New Jersey.

Robert Licata said his 6-year-old son was in class when the gunman burst in and shot the teacher.

?That?s when my son grabbed a bunch of his friends and ran out the door,? he said. ?He was very brave. He waited for his friends.?

Licata said the shooter didn?t say a word.

The shooting shocked a small, tranquil community in one of the wealthiest counties in the U.S., about 60 miles (96 kilometers) northeast of New York City. The last news items posted before the shooting on the website of the tiny newspaper, The Newtown Bee, lamented cracked headstones at a local cemetery and asked residents to ?share 2012 memories.?

Anguished parents came running Friday morning when they heard the news.

Stephen Delgiadice said his 8-year-old daughter heard two big bangs, and teachers told her to get in a corner. His daughter was fine.

?It?s alarming, especially in Newtown, Connecticut, which we always thought was the safest place in America,? he said.

Mergim Bajraliu, 17, heard the gunshots echo from his home and raced to check on his 9-year-old sister at the school. He said his sister, who was fine, heard a scream come over the intercom at one point. He said teachers were shaking and crying as they came out of the building.

?Everyone was just traumatized,? he said.

Richard Wilford said his 7-year-old son, Richie, said he heard a noise that ?sounded like what he described as cans falling.?

The boy told him a teacher went out to check on the noise, came back in, locked the door and had the kids huddle up in the corner until police arrived.

?There?s no words,? Wilford said. ?It?s sheer terror, a sense of imminent danger, to get to your child and be there to protect him.?

Melissa Makris said her 10-year-old son, Philip, saw what looked like a body under a blanket as he fled the school.

?We have endured too many of these tragedies,? Obama said. He spoke in the James S. Brady Press Briefing Room, named in honor of the former White House press secretary who was shot and disabled in the assassination attempt on Ronald Reagan in 1981. Brady and his wife, Sarah, have become activists for gun control measures.

Already this year, a gunman killed 12 people at a Colorado theater, and another gunman killed six people before killing himself at a Sikh temple in Wisconsin.

?If now is not the time to have a serious discussion about gun control and the epidemic of gun violence plaguing our society, I don?t know when is,? one member of Congress, Rep. Jerrold Nadler, said in a statement.

Overseas, there was both shock and sympathy. In a public statement addressed to Obama, French President Francois Hollande said he was ?horrified.?

 

Isle of Man bus drivers vote ‘overwhelmingly’ to strike

Isle of Man buses

The Department of Community, Culture and Leisure is looking to save ?1m

Bus drivers in the Isle of Man have voted overwhelmingly to take strike action over pay cuts, the Unite union has confirmed.

The 98 drivers have been involved in a long-running dispute over the government’s attempts to cut drivers’ wages by up to ?3,000 a year.

Unite’s Bobby Morton said: “This is a serious step for our members to take – strike action is a last resort.”

The three-day strike will begin on Thursday, 20 December.

According to Unite, 90% of the drivers voted to take action over measures which include increased driving time and the reduction of contractual hours.

‘Massive disruption’Mr Morton said: “Unite members are prepared to match any cuts in terms and conditions that civil servants at the government’s DCCL (Department of Community Culture and Leisure) would make to cut the deficit – yet they have not been asked to contribute.

“This is totally unfair.

“DCCL needs to stop burying its head in the sand and get back around the table to avoid causing massive disruption to shoppers and local businesses on the island in the run up to Christmas.

“Unless DCCL see sense and take part in meaningful negotiations, this action will go ahead next week.”

In October, all 98 bus drivers had their government contracts terminated and were asked to reapply for their jobs under new terms.

According to the government, less than half the drivers accepted their last contract offer.

The department is hoping the proposed changes will save ?300,000 a year.

The average salary for a bus driver in the Isle of Man is ?38,500. The basic salary is ?24,300 but can be boosted by overtime.

Drivers have been offered new pay terms and conditions three times by the department but they were all rejected at ballots.

A DCCL spokesman said it needed to save ?1m in the current financial year.

 

TRANSIT UNION: MICHIGAN LEGISLATURE SUBVERTS DEMOCRACY IN ATTACK ON UNIONS

Washington, DC- Larry Hanley, international president of the Amalgamated Transit, released the following statement in response to last night?s passage of right-to-work legislation by the Michigan State legislature:

?The passage of right-to-work bills under cloak of legislative darkness in the Michigan state legislature last night was not only an attack on working families, but an assault on democracy itself,? says Larry Hanley, international president of the Amalgamated Transit Union.

?This underhanded, hit and run lawmaking shoved through the Michigan statehouse last night without public hearing or reasonable debate is a new low in the history of representative government,? Hanley continued.? ?Yet, we should not be surprised that the ALEC-driven slash and burn campaign to destroy labor unions in the United States continues unabated on the state level.?

“The cleverness of the Republican legislators in passing the anti-union rules as amendments to budget bills that cannot be repealed by referendum is exceeded only by the greed of their corporate sponsors,? Hanley asserted.

?And the arrogance of the Gov. Rick Snyder who dismissed the significance of the legislation by saying that it only affected 20 percent of his state?s population is breathtaking,? Hanley said.

?The ATU will be doing everything they can to stop final passage of this insidious legislation on Tuesday,? Hanley promised, ?and the governor and all of the legislators who enabled this travesty will be held accountable.?

?About the ATU ?

The Amalgamated Transit Union is the largest labor organization representing transit workers in the United States and Canada. Founded in 1892, the ATU today is comprised of over 190,000 members in 264 local unions spread across 44 states and nine provinces, including 3,000 workers at Greyhound Lines, Inc. Composed of bus drivers, light rail operators, maintenance and clerical personnel and other transit and municipal employees, the ATU works to promote transit issues and fights for the interests of its hard-working members.

CUTA: Canadian ridership up 3.2%

Canadian public transit ridership for the first six months of 2012 showed remarkable growth across Canada, registering an increase of 3.2% over the same period a year earlier, according to the Canadian Urban Transit Association (CUTA).

“Year after year we observe the same upward trend, with transit ridership growing significantly faster than population,” says CUTA President/CEO Michael Roschlau. “People using public transit come from very different backgrounds and ways of life. On the same system you will find commuters who have left their car at home, cyclists, students, seniors, business people, frequent and occasional riders. This is really what transit is about: providing universal access and mobility by offering efficient and alternative transportation in a way that enhances quality of life.”

While this growth is impressive, the increased popularity of public transit does not come as a surprise.

“A recent national survey conducted by Harris Decima on behalf of CUTA showed that 94% of Canadians say it is important or very important for their community to have access to public transit,” said CUTA Chair Bob Paddon. “And even more impressive, 91% of people who don’t use transit consider it important or highly important for their community to have access to transit.”

CUTA is the national association representing public transit systems, suppliers to the industry, government agencies, individuals and related organizations in Canada. Over the last year CUTA has been working closely with the federal government on the development of Canada’s next long term infrastructure plan. A key recommendation from CUTA is for the next infrastructure plan to include incremental and dedicated funding for public transit.

 

Austrian bus driver returns abandoned bag containing ?316,000

man holding cash

An Austrian bus driver has returned ?316,000 in cash after discovering it unattended in his vehicle.

A bag containing ?390,000 (?316,000) was left on the Viennese bus in a bag on a seat behind the driver.

Reuters?reports that the driver, referred to in reports as ‘Wolfgang R’, discovered the bag after inspecting his bus at the end of the line.

‘Wolfgang R’ told the?Krone?newspaper that at first he thought the bag contained “shopping or medicine”, and was stunned upon opening it to discover a collection of ?500 notes.

The driver then handed the huge sum of cash over to police in Vienna, who used a bank deposit slip inside the bag to trace the owner, an elderly woman.

There are no reports yet as to whether the woman decided to reward the driver for his honesty.

Bullied by bus drivers (BC Transit)

A West Kelowna?man is having difficulty getting around town after his riding privileges were unofficially revoked by local transit drivers.

Nathan Peters says everything changed after he videotaped one driver talking on a hands free device while operating a bus ? something that goes directly against company policy.

“I’ve been getting harassed and getting refused rides,” says Peters, who made the video last month.

“I’m getting called names because of this, getting threats and no one seems to step up and do anything about it and it’s getting way out of hand. It’s embarrassing, I’m trying to get on a bus and getting refused rides 24/7”

A spokesperson for B.C. Transit says they are aware of the situation and have reached out to Peters.

“We met with the family and discussed how to de-escalate the situation,” says Meribeth Burton, with B.C. Transit.

“Our hope is that he will de-escalate the confrontational behaviour, our buses and drivers will get back to what they should be doing — which is serving the entire population — and we’ve assured Nathan that if anything ever happens where he feels like he is not allowed to, or doesn’t feel comfortable boarding our buses, that he gets in touch with our office.”

The local transit union disagrees with claims that Peters is being bullied by the drivers, and instead call the situation a safety issue.

“I believe what the drivers are doing is they’re worried -?that while they’re worried about him on the bus videotaping them, they’re watching backwards when they should be watching forwards,” says Les Milton, President of Amalgamated Transit Union local 1722.

“What they’re doing is basically standing up for the rights of the other people on the bus to have a safe ride. There’s enough distractions in the City of Kelowna and our work place is certainly hazardous and our schedules are pushed to the outer limit. Drivers are just deciding they’re not going to take this man because the stress is not good on them.”

According to Peters, nothing has changed and he is still being refused rides.

The driver in question had their contract terminated, but that decision has since been reversed.

Watch the video…

 

McDonald’s is a favorite for Chicago bus drivers

Trina Burton is a Chicago Transit Authority bus driver and is one of many bus drivers who favor eating and meeting up after work at a local McDonald's restaurant on Chicago's South Side at 7900 S. King Drive.
Trina Burton is a Chicago Transit Authority bus driver and is one of many bus drivers who favor eating and meeting up after work at a local McDonald’s restaurant on Chicago’s South Side at 7900 S. King Drive.
On any given day of the week you will find a handful of bus drivers for the?Chicago Transit Authority?hanging out at a South Side McDonald?s?restaurant?waiting to relieve a fellow colleague behind the wheel.

?I like coming here. It has relaxing music and not that rap stuff these kids listen to all day. It is clean, it is convenient and the food is good too,? said Trina Burton, 44, a CTA bus?driverfor 11 years. ?I have been coming here to this particular McDonald?s for about nine years now. I like it and so do most of my co-workers.?

Located in Chatham, a black, middle-class community, is a McDonald?s at 7900 S. King Drive, which has been a mainstay in the area for over 20 years and a favorite meeting spot not only for bus drivers but everyone, said Melinda Kelly, executive director of the Chatham Business Association.

In fact, Burton added, ?it is perhaps the busiest place in Chatham.?

And it does not hurt that this McDonald?s is located at a busy intersection at 79th Street and Martin Luther King Drive, which retail analyst say helps draw traffic to any business.

But besides the intersection there are other magnets that create foot traffic for McDonald?s. They include a public library located across the street; a public elementary school that is two blocks away and less than a mile away is the 79th Street exit of the Dan Ryan Expressway.

Bus drivers see the restaurant as middle ground between routes.

?For those of us who drive the King Drive or 79th Street route, it is the best place to meet. It is safe, has plenty of parking and is customer friendly,? said Derek Fisher, a CTA bus driver for 14 years.

However, bus drivers are not the only ones who frequent the McDonald?s in Chatham. Seniors can also be found huddled at a table drinking coffee and debating the latest news surrounding politics, sports and crime.

Jerry Rodgers, 73, lives in Chatham and said he meets his friends ?at least five days a week at McDonald?s.? The retired mechanic has kept this routine up for the past five years.

?McDonald?s has good coffee. There?s a lot of space here for us to sit down and talk ?shop? for a while with no worries about being asked to leave,? Rodgers added.

Two of his friends, Clinton Smith, 50, and Beverly Taylor, 58, said they see McDonald?s at their office.

?I don?t have an office at home so I use McDonald?s as my office. This is where I can come to meet friends or take care of some business over a hot cup of coffee,? Smith said. ?When I was little I remember going to McDonald?s with my mom and seeing a lot of old guys sitting around doing nothing but talking. Now that I am old, I do the same thing.?

Taylor added that the trio even has their own table at McDonald?s.

?If someone is sitting at our table we kindly ask them to move. We like to sit by the window and watch the buses drive pass,? Taylor said.

New York policeman gives boots to homeless man

Larry DePrimo is an NYPD cop who did something instinctive. His actions didn’t save a life, but he improved one life directly and made thousands feel good about their lives.

DePrimo saw a barefoot homeless man and?used his own money to buy the man socks and boots. The goodwill gesture was captured by a tourist and posted to Facebook, where it has hit a chord with viewers.

Jennifer Foster was the?Arizona?woman with the camera in?Times Squarewho took a photo that has been viewed by millions of people. She said DePrimo didn’t just hand the items to the homeless man but actually put the socks and boots on him, which will resonate with Christian symbolism for some people.

Food, shelter and clothing are our most basic needs.

Food is unlike the other needs because we can’t see hunger. And being less visible, it’s easier to ignore.

We can see a need for shelter, yet some people are homeless. Providing a home to someone is not a simple gesture; it takes time and a lot of money.

Clothing we can grasp, especially here in?Canada. Going without clothing in the cold can extend beyond merely uncomfortable and degrading to a matter of life of death.

In September,?a bus driver in?Winnipeggave his shoes to a man?he saw walking barefoot. Even though it wasn’t winter, that gesture struck a chord with people in that city: clothing is that important to being a person.

A policeman saving the day is a concept that people like to see: the Facebook hits on the NYPD page prove it. It harkens back to a time for all of us when we were just a couple of feet tall and quite literally looked up to a larger-than-life policeman or policewoman.

Maybe you remember a sense of awe and maybe mom or dad explained who they were and why they are special and important. Children learn quickly, and lessons from a parent about who you can trust or who is a good person get squirreled away in our brains.

As adults we sometimes see police officers as the enemy, not because we’re crooks, but because they uphold laws we’d rather ignore: think speeding tickets. A few of those in uniform actually make the news for all the wrong reasons, further chipping away at that image of purity and goodness we formed as youngsters.

We want to have faith in our police officers: it feels good to look up to cops who do as we were told they would do back when we were young.

The popularity of Foster’s photo of DePrimo suggests we want to admire police officers. We want them to be heroes, to have faith in them.

DePrimo has touched a lot of people by buying a homeless man boots. He didn’t know it as he opened his wallet, but he was about to polish the image of cops everywhere.

DePrimo has reaffirmed our faith.

 

Does DePrimo good deed make you feel good? Could it inspire you to help the less fortunate?

NYDP Gives boots to homeless man

Codiac Transpo lockout’s end greeted with ‘euphoria’

Moncton Mayor George LeBlanc said he hopes the union and the city can put the five-month-long lockout

Moncton Mayor George LeBlanc said he hopes the union and the city can put the five-month-long lockout “behind us.” (CBC)

Codiac Transpo workers and riders are eager to see buses rolling around greater Moncton soon after the city and the drivers? union hammered out a tentative deal to end the five-month-long lockout on Tuesday evening.

The two sides still have to ratify the deal, so the details on what ended the protracted dispute are not available, but wages had been a key issue.

“I’m optimistic,” Mayor George LeBlanc told CBC News.

“I think that we have really a great chance to get this done and put it to bed and get things moving again. So I’m hopeful that we’ll be in a better position to say after Friday.”

Council will make its final decision on the deal on Friday, said LeBlanc.

Union members will also take a vote on Friday. A union spokesman declined to comment until then.

Lucien Sivret, who is a member of the Moncton Transit Citizens Action Group, said there was ?euphoria? in his house when the news broke of the settlement.

‘We’re anxious but we do understand there’s service to be done on the buses and maybe some training with the drivers.’?Lucien Sivret, Moncton Transit Citizens Action Group

Sivret, his girlfriend and his daughter all took the bus daily so they have been forced to walk or take cabs for the past five months.

“I did end up buying a car about three weeks ago, so just a little bit too late for me,” he said.

“It was about a hundred dollars a week only to get to work, and an extra 40 to 50 dollars a week for other things. So about $400 to $500 a month, which is equal to a car payment when you think about it.”

Still, Sivret hopes the deal will be ratified by the end of the week and said he won’t complain if it takes a few weeks to get the buses back on the roads.

?We’re anxious but we do understand there’s service to be done on the buses and maybe some training with the drivers,? he said.

Service could resume within 3 weeks

The city said in a statement on Tuesday night that it could take ?several weeks? before the buses are running regularly.

“We’re saying two to three weeks now, but we’ll see how that plays out,” city spokesman Paul Thomson told CBC News on Wednesday.

“We’re hoping we can reduce that time if at all possible. Bearing in mind that we have to ensure the safety of our customers.”

After the lengthy down time, the vehicles will have to be thoroughly checked over, Thomson said.

Another delay in returning to service is that routes have been changed, and drivers will have to be trained in the new ones, he said.

Knowing the lockout could soon be over is a big relief for Karen Haley, a bus rider for more than 25 years. She described the tentative deal as “the best Christmas gift.”

It means she can stop relying on her aunt to drive her around, she said.

“Going to finally get back our independence. I know people say, ‘I don’t mind, I don’t mind bringing you around,’ but after a while, I mind, it’s losing our independence.”

There are still doubts, however, said Haley.

“It’s not a done deal yet. It’s not signed in ink, or blood, whichever way you want to put it that it’s officially going to be buses on the road.”

Drivers pleased

While passengers are eager to get on the buses, many drivers are thankful that they will be sitting behind the wheel again soon.

Alan McGrath, the treasurer with the Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1290, said it has been a long five months and workers want to put the lockout behind them.

?Go back to work and see the people that we saw every day. I’ve been driving for over 11 years and you kind of get to know the people, they’re like family, right,? he said.

?You kind of look forward to seeing them again and finding out how things are going. It’s been a long time so it’ll be good to be back.”

McGrath said he hopes the buses will be back on the roads before Christmas.

Moncton locked out about 80 bus drivers, mechanics and service people on June 27.

The transit workers had been without a contract since 2010.

The city?s previous offer would have paid Codiac Transpo drivers $52,000 a year by 2017. The union had been holding out in hopes of being paid $60,000 per year by 2018.

Both sides have already agreed to annual pay hikes that would bring the bus drivers’ salaries to $51,000 a year by 2017, up from $44,000.

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/new-brunswick/story/2012/11/28/nb-codiac-transpo-deal-reaction-1013.html

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