CALTRANS WEIGHS OPTIONS ON BAY BRIDGE

imageOakland, California -Facing criticism amid its announcement that the new eastern span of the Bay Bridge will not open by Labor Day as originally scheduled, Caltrans is now considering several options to appease irate commuters who rely on the bridge for their daily trek to and from San Francisco. Earlier, top engineering experts have said that the new span will not withstand even a 5.0 earthquake due to the faulty bolts.

Caltrans said it is re-evaluating whether it is even worth it to continue with the construction of the new span. Apparently, replacing the faulty bolts will cost as much as it has already spent in building the new bridge. Caltrans declined to reveal a dollar amount.

The second option is to retrofit the old span and add rainbow-colored lights to the bridge that would create a spectacular view of the old structure at night and on foggy days.

imageThe third option which is currently being negotiated is to station three Carnival Cruise ships in the Bay Area to ferry passengers between Oakland and San Francisco during heavy commute times.  Carnival Cruises is reportedly very interested in the Caltrans proposal considering problems the shipping lines has had in the past year.  As a result of accidents at sea as well as fire and electrical problems, Carnival Cruises has been losing business. Caltrans said this third option might work well for San Francisco and Oakland commuters given their party and fun-loving nature.

It wasn’t clear whether  the final decision by Caltrans would require approval by Bay Area voters through a ballot initiative.

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PHILIPPINES, THE 51ST U.S. STATE?

imageSubic, Philippines – A leaked document from the Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs has revealed secret negotiatons between the United States and the Philippines that could lead to this Southeast Asian country becoming the 51st U.S. state.

The statehood movement, which is not new, stalled in 1992 when street protests by Filipinos eventually led to the closure of all U.S. military bases in the country.

The leak comes  in the wake of a recent request from the U.S. government for an expanded military role in the Philippines under the guise of protecting Philippine interests in its ongoing territorial conflict with China. The request would allow American forces to stay in the Philippines for longer periods of time and be stationed at Philippine military bases.  Critics have immediately protested the request saying, “The American military forces are already enjoying a tourist visa, now they also want a working visa?”

On the other side of the coin, supporters of the statehood movement say that it only makes sense that the Philippines become the 51st  U.S. state, citing the facts that Filipinos already speak English, value the dollar more than the peso (as evidenced by foreign exchange centers in malls and street corners, are addicted to Hollywood movies, and already observe American special days like Mother’s Day and Father’s Day. They also pointed out that Filipinos are everywhere around the globe.  This, they said, would further boost America’s presence on the world stage.

In a statement from the U.S. Embassy in Manila, it was also pointed out that making the Philippines the 51st U.S. state would significantly reduce the embassy’s workload in processing tourist, work and immigrant visas for Filipinos.

TWO- FOR-ONE VEHICLE LICENSE PLATES UNVEILED

imageManila, Philippines — It is definitely more fun in the Philippines – exactly as the Department of Tourism advertising mantra says – not only because Filipinos think up of the smartest and sometimes stupid things, but get away with it.

In a surprise move, the country’s Department of Motor Vehicles has actually adopted what was once a smart yet illegal activity, as an official policy.  Effective July 15, 2013, the Department will be issuing two-for-one vehicle licenses whereby citizens or businesses owning two or more vehicles can purchase identical license plates for the price of one. This new policy is expected to solve the problem of many vehicle owners not obtaining the proper license plates because the cost and fees are too expensive.

The new policy is expected to put the Department of Motor Vehicles at odds with the Metro Manila Development Authority, particularly with the latter’s “coding” program.  Under this coding system, motor vehicles whose license plates ending with an odd or even number are prohibited from the streets and highways of Metro Manila on specified days and times of the week. For example, vehicles wth license plates ending in 1 are prohibited on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.  Vehicles with license plates ending in 2 are prohibited on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays.  The system has been in effect for many years as a way to solve the traffic gridlock that’s been the hallmark of Metro Manila’s roadways.

Asked for his reaction to the two-for-once license plates, Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada, who as president of the Philippines was impeached and convicted for corruption, said “I don’t care either way. I am exempted from the coding rules and I always have police car escorts wherever I go so traffic is not a problem for  me.”

Already, some enterprising Filipinos are planning to buy the two-for-one license plates and sell the other for half the price.

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