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The rise and breakup of the world's greatest piano pop band.

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How to
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The Military Budget as Cookies

This excellent animation from TrueMajority shows in graphic detail (using Oreo cookies) how ridiculously, large the military budget is, and how we could solve many domestic problems with a modest 12% cut. A must-see. (watch it now)

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Dallas makes most of its light rail lines
by Ken Hoffman, Houston Chroncle, June 13, 2000

DALLAS -- It's bad enough that Dallas has light rail and we don't.
But even worse, light rail is a big success up here. Dallas folks love it. They may not have wanted it at first, but now that they have it, they want more and more. And they're going to get it.
Plus, the federal government is kicking in millions to help them.
It just isn't fair. Dallas is zipping along on light rail, grabbing dinner in the West End entertainment district and getting to the basketball game at Reunion Arena before tipoff.
Meanwhile we're stuck in a traffic jam on Loop 610 because one car overheated on the feeder and everybody has to slow down to examine this fascinating event. And if it's drizzling, too, forget it. We're lucky to get home in time for the Seinfeld rerun at 10 p.m.
Light rail didn't always get a "way to go" in Dallas. In 1988, voters turned a resounding thumbs-down, and a few other fingers, on light rail. But Dallas Area Rapid Transit built a 20-mile rail "starter kit" with borrowed money, anyway. The trains began rolling through downtown in June 1996.
Light rail was an overnight sensation, standing room only (literally), that keeps getting more popular.
DART projected about 25,000 daily riders. They're getting 40,000.
Ten years ago, 250 people lived downtown. Now 13,000 reside downtown in renovated lofts, condos and apartments within a half-mile of the intersection of Akard and Main streets.
The rail system cost $860 million to build but already has spurred $800 million in development along the tracks, with millions more coming.
According to the University of North Texas' Center for Economic Development and Research (sounds like a fun group), the value of property adjoining Dallas' light rail stations is 25 percent higher than similar property not served by the rail system.
Rents are 47 percent higher in office buildings near the rail. Occupancy is 8 percent higher in shopping centers along the rail.
Most important, they're selling twice as much barbecue at Sonny Bryan's Smokehouse in the West End since light rail arrived.
Light rail in Dallas is divided by two lines, Red and Blue. The Red Line runs from north Dallas, past the Dallas Zoo, through downtown to south of the Trinity River in West Oak Cliff. The Blue Line connects downtown with South Oak Cliff.
By 2015, there will be nearly 100 miles of light rail, taking passengers to Garland, Richardson, Plano and beyond.
According to a poll by the Dallas Morning News, 80 percent of Dallas voters are expected to approve more funding for future rail projects this summer.
They're even willing to stomach a 1 percent sales tax to pay for light rail. Texans approving a tax? They must really love light rail.
Train cars in Dallas have peaceful interiors. They do not have advertising for muffler shops and divorce lawyers. Instead, riders can ponder the meaning of poetry hung above the seats. The "Poetry in Motion" project selects a different poem each month.
As I rode into the West End for a burger, fries and chocolate yogurt, I contemplated Ode to the Storm, in English and Spanish, by the Mexican poet Octavio Paz.
Each of the 20 stops on Dallas' rail path is decorated to reflect the neighborhood's personality and history. The Dallas Zoo stop, for example, is lined with tiles painted in the colors of animals.
That's much nicer than "Pearl Jam rules!" scribbled in Magic Marker on a bench at a Houston bus stop. Even though I happen to agree with the graffiti artist's musical taste.
The train cars are roomy and clean. They have police on board to ensure domestic tranquillity -- and to make sure you have a ticket.
There are reminders that smoking, loud music, eating and gambling are prohibited on the train. Granted I haven't ridden light rail that often, but I've never seen a floating crap game break out.
There are 90 seats, covered in blue cloth, and standing room for about 70 more strap-hangers.
The trains whoosh along quietly, like the monorail at Disney World.
The bell is jingly, like a neighborhood ice cream truck.
Tickets are $1, good for 90 minutes of travel. They're time-and date-stamped, so don't get any ideas.
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