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Outside the Circle

Transit Projects Accelerated

We Can’t Wait, an initiative announced by President Barack Obama on Monday, Oct. 1, was created to speed up the construction of two major transit projects in Minneapolis, Minn., and in Cleveland. The hope is that the initiative will provide jobs for Americans and provide Minnesota and Ohio with a more modern transportation option.

The expedited completion time is due to organizers conducting concurrent permitting and environmental review processes, according to a press release from the White House Office of the Press Secretary. These options stem from a presidential executive order that was issued in March.

The order states that the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) will be in charge of a government-wide effort to streamline permitting and review processing. This increased efficiency will ideally allow the OMB to save more time and provide better outcomes for local communities.

The Minnesota and Ohio transit systems are not the only infrastructure projects that will be expedited. More projects will be announced in the upcoming weeks. Ray LaHood, U.S. Transportation Secretary, said, “Investments in infrastructure are putting people back to work in Minnesota and Ohio building and modernizing our transit systems.”

“The Obama administration is committed to doing its part to help communities across the country move forward with these critical projects as quickly as possible,” he continued.

The Southwest Light Rail Transit is the current focus in Minneapolis. This project aims to provide better access to employment centers and attractions from downtown Minneapolis and the southwestern suburbs to Eden Prairie.

Fifteen miles of new track will be created, complimented by multiple new stations. The Southwest Light Rail Transit is expected to be completed in Nov. 2014.

The University Circle-Little Italy Rapid Station in Cleveland is expected to be completed in April 2013. The project consists of the relocation of the E. 120th St. station, construction of a new rail transit station, and construction on the two transit track bridges at Mayfield Rd.

The E. 120th St. station will be transformed into an energy-efficient building that uses community resources. The goal of this project is to connect the Little Italy area to University Hospitals.


Checkers Comes to Cleveland

Cleveland will be host to a world title checkers match on Saturday, Oct. 6. The American Checker Federation is hosting the event at the Cleveland Public Library in the John G. White Special Collections Area at 10 a.m. The match will continue from Oct. 7 to 9 at the Rodeway Inn and Medina Conference Center in Medina, Ohio.

Alex Moiseyev, from Dublin, Ohio, will be playing against Richard Beckwith from Willoughby, Ohio. Moiseyev will be defending his 11-man Ballot World Title. This match is distinctive because before the start of the game, each competitor removes one checker in order to prevent knowledge of previous games played.

The match, which is sanctioned by the World Checkers Draughts Federation, will have 4 games per day with 16 games total.


Voter IDs Not Necessary

A judge in Pennsylvania halted full application of a state law that requires voters to have photographic identification in order to vote in the November election. Judge Robert Simpson said that authorities had not guaranteed that the voters would have access to the new documents in time.

The law was passed in the spring with no Democratic support. Eleven similar laws have been passed across the United States. The original purpose was to prevent voter fraud. However, it has been argued that the Republican Party wants to prevent poor and minority groups from voting. Some have claimed that these groups might not have the necessary photographic ID or the ability to go obtain one.

The state law was contested by liberal and civil rights groups in August and the outrage has not relented. The state’s Supreme Court told Simpson to hold further hearings, focusing on whether “enough had been done to ensure ‘liberal access’ to the picture ID cards or alternatives,” according to the New York Times.

Simpson’s ruling on Tuesday, Oct. 2, said that Pennsylvania voters could be asked to show the new photographic identification, but if they did not have them, they could still vote. Penda Hair is the co-director of Advancement Project, one of the groups that contested the state law.

Hair commented to the New York Times, “While we are happy that voters in Pennsylvania will not be turned away if they do not have an ID, we are concerned that the ruling will allow election workers to ask for ID at the polls and this could cause confusion. This injunction serves as a mere band-aid for the law’s inherent problems, not as an effective remedy.”


25 Killed in Nigeria

At least 25 people were killed in execution-style shootings at a college in northeastern Nigeria on Tuesday, Oct. 2. The reason behind the attack is suspected to be an election held the previous Saturday. The election was vehemently opposed because of religious and ethnic issues.

Godfrey Ameka Okeke, police commissioner for Adamawa state, said, “Most of the people killed were executive leaders that were elected. We cannot exonerate the students completely.” The Associated Press reported that some fraternities had been using gang violence in order to exert their power.

However, the region has seen hundreds of deaths in the past year due to Islamist sect Boko Haram’s attacks. The college was already on an afternoon-to-morning curfew because of these attacks. Okeke said that the attackers had the names of the intended victims. They called everyone out of the compound, and then took the selected people aside and shot them.

Ibrahim Muhammad, a spokesman for the Adamawa state police, said that of the 25 people that were killed, 19 were polytechnic students, three were students from another college, one was a former soldier, one was a guard, and one was an elderly man.

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