News Briefs: Meltdown Linked to Infant Deaths | Bike Lanes for South Willamette? | Less Gas, More Ass | WOPR: Back From the Dead? | Rogue River Land Sale Planned | Lane County Spray Schedule | Activist Alert | War Dead | Corrections/Clarifications |
Slant: Short opinion pieces and rumor-chasing notes
Biking the Interchange
ODOTs I-5/Beltline path plan has six underpasses
MELTDOWN LINKED TO INFANT DEATHS
Eight cities in the Pacific Northwest are experiencing a dramatic increase in baby deaths since the Japanese nuclear disaster, despite media reports that the fallout is "negligible” in the U.S. mainland.
A CounterPunch.org story June 10 by Janette D. Sherman, M.D., and Joseph Mangano documents an increase of about 35 percent in deaths of babies under 1 year old in Boise, Seattle, Portland and the northern California cities of Santa Cruz, Sacramento, San Francisco, San Jose and Berkeley. The Eugene/Springfield area was not mentioned. The statistics are based on reports from federal agencies and the National Center for Health Statistics.
Deaths in these combined cities averaged 9.25 per week in the month before the Fukushima meltdown and 12.5 per week in the months following the disaster, according to the authors.
"Spewing from the Fukushima reactor are radioactive isotopes including those of iodine (I-131), strontium (Sr-90) and cesium (Cs-134 and Cs-137) all of which are taken up in food and water,” reads the story. "Iodine is concentrated in the thyroid, Sr-90 in bones and teeth and Cs-134 and Cs-137 in soft tissues, including the heart. The unborn and babies are more vulnerable because the cells are rapidly dividing and the delivered dose is proportionally larger than that delivered to an adult.”
The authors cite research on the short- and long-term effects of the Chernobyl meltdown and say the biological findings of Chernobyl cannot be ignored:"Isotope incorporation will determine the future of all life on Earth ã animal, fish, bird, plant and human. It is crucial to know this information if we are to avoid further catastrophic damage.”
The full story can be found at http://wkly.ws/12l
Meanwhile in Germany, following a strong public response to the Fukushima meltdown and years of warnings from Germanys established Green Party, Chancellor Angela Merkel on May 31 called for her country to shut down its remaining nuclear plants over the next decade and replace nuclear power with solar, wind, geothermal and other renewable energy sources.
"We need to do the same thing in our country,” said Pacific Green Party spokesman Blair Bobier of Corvallis in his response last week to Merkels announcement. "Nuclear power is dangerous under the best of conditions and disastrous under the worst.” ã Ted Taylor
BIKE LANES FOR SOUTH WILLAMETTE?
Bike advocates won a partial victory in getting the city of Eugene to install long-sought bike lanes on a three-block stretch of Willamette Street in south Eugene, but the decision could also mean a tough fight to install the safety measure on the rest of the busy arterial.
The city had planned to repave Willamette from 29th to 32nd avenues without adding bike lanes, even though the lanes have been in city plans as a top safety priority for decades. Members of the citys Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee (BPAC) and the local GEARs bike group voiced objections to the City Council that the city should include the safety lanes in the rare repaving project.
The city agreed to install the lanes on part of the stretch, but have them disappear about 200 feet before the intersection with 29th going north and 50 feet after the intersection going south.
The city and its consultant argued that removing one of the five traffic lanes near the intersection to improve human safety could cause too many seconds of delay for motorists during a half-hour, weekday morning peak traffic period.
The citys position on elevating traffic speed over cyclist safety could make for a fight in trying to remove a lane on Willamette north of 29th to make room for bike lanes and wider sidewalks, a major goal of bike advocates for decades and a top priority in a new draft bike pedestrian plan for the city.
If the city wouldnt install bike lanes on the three-block stretch, BPAC urged the city to at least install "sharrows” before 29th to encourage cars to share the road with cyclists. But the city also refused to paint the sharrow bike marks in the car lanes, arguing that they shouldnt be placed on busy streets. Thats contrary to other cities use of sharrows and the citys own planned use of the markings on busy 13th near the UO.
Northbound cyclists can use an easement through an apartment complex to reach a parallel street, the city argued. But the easement requires a detour, is frequently used for parking and some apartment residents have objected to its use.
The stretch of Willamette before 29th is a major safety choke point for cyclists trying to reach the Woodfield Station shopping centers Market of Choice and the many businesses north of 29th. To the east a lack of through streets provides no parallel alternative route and to the west lie steep hills. Willamette has the third highest number of bike accidents in Eugene, according to a recent city study. ã Alan Pittman
A version of this story first appeared at EugeneCycles.com
LESS GAS, MORE ASS
|photo by Rob Sydor | robsydor.com|
About 60 bicyclists rolled through downtown Eugene Saturday afternoon, June 11, protesting Americas consumer culture and addiction to foreign oil, while also touting the bicycle as an efficient and ecologically friendly means of transportation.
The catch? Most were butt-naked, or nearly so, and some wore body paint instead of clothing, or as supplemental attire. Police were present, but no arrests were reported.
"Its a grassroots environmental protest to call attention to our addiction to fossil fuels,” said Ralph Forrest-Ball, who organized the event. "Our addiction to foreign oil forces us to make bad foreign policy decisions.”
The Eugene ride was part of the World Naked Bike Ride, an international protest against fossil fuels that started in Spain back in 2001. Some cities have huge rides; last year an estimated 13,000 nude or nearly nude bicyclists clogged the streets of Portland for an entire day.
Rallying to cries of "Less gas, more ass,” and "Were protesting our indecent exposure to cars,” the naked and near-naked nature-loving nonconformists rode from Skinner Butte Park through downtown Eugene, drawing plenty of stares and honks along the way.
The ride isnt all about protesting fossil fuels though, said Forrest-Ball.
"The Naked Bike Ride is also designed to make people feel better about their bodies,” he said. "Were constantly being told that the way you are is not good enough.”
"Being a nudist is kind of like being a non-smoker,” he added. "When people ask you how long youve been a non-smoker, you cant answer. Its the same for being a nudist. Ive always felt that clothes were sort of unnecessary.”
Forrest-Ball hopes to see the ride grow in the future, urging people to volunteer for next years ride.
"This year things went pretty smoothly,” he said. But "it would be nice to have more backup. I would hope that next year would have more volunteers.”
For more information on the World Naked Bike Ride, visit the organizations website at www.worldnakedbikeride.org To volunteer at next years ride, email Forrest-Ball at firstname.lastname@example.org ã Nils Holst
WOPR: BACK FROM THE DEAD?
Conservationists and forest advocates rejoiced in July 2009 when Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar announced that the Western Oregon Plan Revisions (WOPR), a plan to ramp up logging in Northwest forests by 400 percent, was "legally indefensible and must be withdrawn.” But a federal judge in the U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C., ruled in April 2011 that Salazar acted illegallywhen he did not ask for public comment when he withdrew the WOPR.
Salazar withdrew the WOPR, which was put into place by the Bush administration, because he concluded the plan was illegal ã its implementation didnt review the potential impacts on endangered species such as the northern spotted owl.
Ariel Hiller of the Bureau of Land Managements public affairs says "the WOPR is back ã however there are two important points.” She says due to transition language, since it takes about two years to plan a sale, current BLM sales must comply with both the WOPR and the Northwest Forest Plan (NWFP). She says the BLM is offering timber sales that are "consistent with both 2008 resources management plan and the Northwest Forest Plan.”
Secondly, Hiller says, "We have other lawsuits that may change our status as we move forwards.”
She adds, "Right now we are kind of sitting back and digesting the challenges and opportunities.”
Oregon Wild, along with a number of other conservation groups, filed a motion on June 3 for an injunction on the WOPR because the plan was illegal to begin with, since there was no Endangered Species Act (ESA) consultation. The conservation groups are represented by Susan Jane Brown of Eugene-based Western Environmental Law Center and by attorneys from Earthjustice. Brown says that along with the motion for summary judgment, the groups have re-filed a previous suit against the WOPR that dropped after Salazar withdrew the plan. She says the federal government has a few more weeks to respond.
Three pilot projects testing the work of OSU professor Norm Johnson and Jerry Franklin of the University of Washington that are attempting to generate forest income while preserving the ecosystem are still going forward, according to Doug Heiken of Oregon Wild.
"The pilots are going on under the Northwest Forest Plan,” he says, "but they can continue with the pilots and re-kill the WOPR. Its not mutually exclusive.”
The pilot projects range from a Ponderosa thinning project near Medford, which Heiken calls less controversial, to "regeneration harvests” in Roseburg and Coos Bay that he says are "kinder, gentler clearcuts.”
"They need to initiate the process in order to kill the WOPR correctly,” Heiken says. "Do it with public comments and do it correctly and be done with it,” he says. ã Camilla Mortensen
ROGUE RIVER LAND SALE PLANNED
The Oregon Department of State Lands intends to auction off land parcels that Eugene-based Ecosystem Advocates Northwest say are "literally on the banks of the Wild and Scenic Rogue River.”
The lands are Common School Fund lands, and Shannon Wilson of Eco-Advocates says the Rogue River parcels are part of 4,920 acres of Common School Fund lands proposed for auction by ODSL in Josephine and Jackson counties. Wilson says that the auction is slated for 2012, although the State Land Board has yet to make the final approval.
According to Ecosystem Advocates Northwest, one 640-acre parcel proposed for auctionis inside Oregons largest unprotected roadless area, the South Kalmiopsis in the Siskiyou Mountains. The group says the Woodcock Creek areais considered one of the most diverse botanical hotspots in Oregon and is registered by the Oregon Biodiversity Information Center as one of Oregons most important biological heritage resource sites.
Wilson wants to know why the state of Oregon is selling these lands "when the value of timber and the land is at their lowest values in recent times.” He says, "Another big question is why are board members of the Oregon Board of Forestry who are involved in this •land disposal process allowed to buy these parcels at rock bottom prices?”
Eco Advocates NW will be gathering at 10:30 am Sunday, June 19 at the boat ramp below the Galice Resort on the Rogue River to help garner public opposition to the proposed land auction. The group also plans to hike to Rainie Falls downriver, and hike about 1 mile to view the 159-acre "Grave Creek” parcel above the river that is also proposed for auction. For more information on the sales and the hike, go to www.eco-advocates.org
On June 18, Klamath-Siskiyou Wildlands Center is leading a hike into the Zane Grey Roadless area on the Wild Rogue. See http://kswild.org or call (541) 488-5789. ã Camilla Mortensen
LANE COUNTY SPRAY SCHEDULE
« Western Lane County: Roadside spray near Coyote Creek, Notice 201178100446. Ground spray near Rock Creek, Notice 201178100436. Aerial spray near Mati Creek, Notice 201177100425. Ground spray near Pheasant Creek, Coyote Creek, Camas Swale, Crow Creek, Siuslaw River, Notice 201178100457. Aerial and ground spray near Sturtevant Creek, Notice 201178100435. Aerial spray near Demming Creek, Pigeon Springs Notice 201178100447.
« If you have suffered any ill effects from ODOT spraying, please let Forestland Dwellers know. We are encouraging ODOT to mow or manually manage vegetation in lieu of spraying.
Compiled by Jan Wroncy, Forestland Dwellers: 342-8332, www.forestlanddwellers.org
« Local authors and photographers Pam Fitzpatrick and Paul Dix have visited Nicaragua many times and will be discussing and reading from their new photo book Nicaragua: Surviving the Legacy of U.S. Policy at 6 pm Thursday, June 16, at the Eugene Public Library.
« The city of Eugene is holding a meeting about creating a space for small dogs in Amazon Park from 6:30 to 8 pm Thursday, June 16, at the Hilyard Community Center, 2580 Hilyard St. More information at www.eugene-or.gov/smalldogs
« Community Alliance of Lane Countys Back to Back program will show two short films starting at 6:30 pm Thursday, June 16, at the CALC building, 458 Blair Blvd. Chavez Ravine: A Los Angeles Story tells of the citys purchase of 350 acres and the corruption, lies, politics and baseball involved. The Road to the Big Leagues details the Dominican Republics influence on the U.S. national pastime. Popcorn will be served and discussion will follow. Contact Silver at CALCBack2Back@gmail.com or call 485-1755 ext. 206.
« The Lane County chapter of the Oregon League of Conservation Voters is planning its summer event, "Food for Thought ã Celebrating Whats In Our Backyard,” from noon to 3 pm Sunday, June 26, at a private home in the River Road area. Contact Ashley@olcv.org or call 968-8269 to RSVP.
« Public comment on the proposed 2011 Management Plan for the Elliott State Forest began June 1 and ends Aug. 29. The draft maps and plans are online at http://wkly.ws/12j and comments may be addressed to the State Forests Planning Specialist, ODF, 2600 State St., Salem 97310, or emailed to ODFStateForestsComments@odf.state.or.us
« 1,605 U.S. troops killed* (1,594)
« 11,864 U.S. troops wounded in action (11,722)
« 763 U.S. contractors killed (763)
« $423.2 billion cost of war ($420.9 billion)
« $120.3 million cost to Eugene taxpayers ($119.7 million)
« 4,421 U.S. troops killed (4,421)
« 31,922 U.S. troops wounded in action (31,922)
« 185 U.S. military suicides (updates NA)
« 1,537 U.S. contractors killed (1,537)
« 110,719 to 1.2 million civilians killed* (110,708)
« $783.1 billion cost of war ($782.2 billion)
« $222.7 million cost to Eugene taxpayers ($222.4 million)
Through June 13, 2011; sources: icasualties.org; defense.gov, U.S. Dept. of Labor
* highest estimate; source: iraqbodycount.org; based on confirmed media reports; other groups calculate Iraqi civilian deaths as high as 655,000 (Lancet survey, 2006) to 1.2 million (Opinion Research Business survey, 2008)
« In our Letters section last week we printed the wrong day for the anniversary of David Minors death, due to an editors error. The correct date is June 2.
« Last week in News Briefs we mentioned Dexters Farmers Market but we hear from Pam Driscoll that its actually called Dexter Lake Farmers Market and its open only Sundays from noon to 3 pm. "We are having a slow season and need to get more people out here,” she says. "Its such a great place, right on the lake.”
« Every 10 years Lane County reviews its five commissioner districts based on population and redraws them. Every 10 years accusations fly about gerrymandering ã gaining political advantage by manipulating boundaries in a way that might help (or harm) a particular group of people or a candidate. This year Moonshadow Mobile, a Eugene-based internet company with conservative City Councilor Mike Clark as its vice president, has entered the fray. According to minutes from the Feb. 23 commissioners meeting, Commissioner Jay Bozievich suggested using Moonshadow for redistricting. The county administrator, as it turns out, went ahead and dropped $5,000 on the Moonshadow software, which has uses beyond redistricting. It raises the question of whats going on behind the scenes with the more conservative commissioners. Should Clark, whos angling for Rob Handys commission seat, be selling software used to determine voting districts when he plans to run for one of those districts? Did Clark think nobody would notice this blatant conflict of interest?
The five appointed members of the redistricting committee are in place: Dan Egan, David Crowell, Bill Dwyer, Scott Bartlett and Bill Van Vactor. Two at-large members are to be appointed and one of the applicants is R-G opinion columnist Don Kahle, who writes on his application that he does have one possible contractual issue with the county that needs to be disclosed ãhe too has worked with Moonshadow.
« Straight talk from Oregon State Treasurer Ted Wheeler at City Club of Eugene June 10 reminded us again why hes often mentioned as a candidate for governor in the near future.Smart.Well educated.Few wasted words when he speaks. Totally invested in Oregon. Optimistic about our future, but realistic about our problems.
Wheeler says the state is doing "very well” from an investment perspective, recently moving up to a higher credit rating although the bond masters were baffled by our kicker and property tax lids. "Largely dysfunctional” is the treasurers description of Oregons revenue structure. He said the overall tax burden, including fees and service charges, is "very low compared to other states,” but strong lobbies oppose every change and fight to keep every tax credit.College debt has surpassed credit card debt, with the class of 2011 the most indebted class. When Wheeler says "I am opposed to stupid,” we wonder if this articulate public servant could move the rest of the state away from our unfair, dysfunctional tax structure.
« Whats UO President Richard Lariviere doing chumming around with a third world autocrat whos looted hundreds of millions of dollars from his impoverished country and who is accused of stealing a recent election? Soiling the reputation of the states university, thats what. Recent investigative reports in The New York Times and on ABC News show Gabon President Ali Bongo Ondimba has bought huge mansions all over the world while his destitute people search for scraps in garbage dumps. Lariviere went to Washington, D.C., last week to hob-nob with the thief and join him in announcing "strong and deep partnerships” between the UO and a regime accused of human rights abuses. In a press release, Lariviere, proclaimed "we are honored” with the arrangement and praised the regime and the "exciting,” "model,” "wonderful partnership.” What exactly is so wonderful?
« Tuesday nights Republican presidential candidates debate in New Hampshire was great for drinking games, but only if the rules were right. If you downed a shot every time you heard a constructive idea about creating jobs, fixing our health care system, improving public education or any other serious issue, youd end up sober and depressed. But if you took a drink every time you heard a candidate claim to be the biggest right wingnut of them all, youd soon have your head in the toilet.
« Congrats to Eastman Band for winning KNRQs Last Band Standing competition Friday night, June 10. Eastman Band will perform at the Eugene Weekly Community Stage at the Lane County Fair Aug. 17-21. Meanwhile, check out the 23 songs so far at EWs Next Big Thing contest at http://nextbigthingeugene.com
EW will also have a stage at the Eugene Celebration this year, Aug. 26-28. Why are we so involved in promoting local musicians and bands? Our valley has an amazing diversity of talented musicians and our local music scene is an incubator for rising stars. A new band or a fresh new voice can find a stage to perform upon in Eugene or Springfield much more easily than Portland or Seattle. Older musicians whose fame might have peaked decades ago can also revive their music careers here and mentor the next generation. A vibrant music industry is great for our community and all the small businesses it supports.
« More than 300 pit bulls, kids and parents rallied last week after the Vancouver, Wash., City Council agreed to debate a pit bull ban. Pit bulls wearing tutus and pink collars lined I-205 and the daily newspaper The Columbian reports that there might have been some barking but there wasnt any biting. We think Eugene would get that kind of turnout and then some if the city discussed a ban because Lane County Animal Services and groups like Luv-A-Bull and Save the Pets have been so good about getting our local pitties adopted. More importantly, theyve been getting the word out to spay, neuter and train your pet. Statistics show that most dog bites are from dogs that are chained in yards and not fixed.
SLANT includes short opinion pieces, observations and rumor-chasing notes compiled by the EW staff. Heard any good rumors lately? Contact Ted Taylor at 484-0519, editor at eugeneweekly dot com