Slant 9-5-2013

Lane County is a shit storm lately — both with accusations of bowel movements being flung about as protesters continue to occupy the Wayne Morse Free Speech Plaza and with allegations of lying being flung by and at county officials. Jean Stacey of SLEEPS has filed a bar complaint against Liane Richardson and Stephen Dingle in connection to their recent poo testimony (see news briefs) and Commissioner Jay Bozievich created a stir when he used his Facebook page to accuse homeless advocate Alley Valkyrie and SLEEPS of lying. Bozievich has since issued a penitent apology after the city of Eugene had Valkyrie’s back on the issue. We’re glad he apologized, that takes guts, but aren’t our county officials a little too old to be slinging slurs on their Facebook pages in the first place? Outsiders might look at SLEEPS and see a group of “dirty homeless” people, but we see a very organized group of activists with a carefully plotted strategy of civil disobedience.

Meanwhile, we’re hearing that both Farmers Market and Saturday Market are suffering from their proximity to the encampment at the Free Speech Plaza and SLEEPS is getting blamed, but SLEEPS says the Kaleidoscope Music Festival kids and others traveling through and camping all over downtown created the mess at the Park Blocks.

Sharknado, Sharktopus, sci-fi horror about sharks aside, it was box jellyfish that 64-year-old distance swimmer Diana Nyad had to face in her 110-mile epic swim from Cuba to Key West without a shark cage.  The real challenge of her swim was caused by climate change, not sharks. Box jellies can propel themselves as fast as 4 miles per hour; they have four sets of six eyes and can see their prey. Their deadly heart-stopping venom is what ended Nyad’s previous attempt at the swim, and she wrote in a July Huffington Post blog that box jellies have caused more loss of human life in the past 50 years than shark bites and that “the worldwide explosion of jellyfish populations may be due to global climate change and our egregious human mismanagement of the oceans and our cruel slaughter of some 70 million sharks yearly.”

Public schools in Eugene are preparing to open Tuesday, Sept. 10, and teachers can expect to see more kids are showing up hungry. Growling bellies mean difficulty with concentration, lower test scores, lethargy, behavior problems and health issues. Last year thousands of teachers spent an average of $26 a month out of their pockets on extra food for their students and they expect to pay even more this year. Sometimes the problem is an empty fridge in low-income households; and sometimes it’s parents who don’t bother to feed their kids a healthy breakfast before school, figuring the free lunch will be enough. It’s not enough. Find out more at

• The death penalty has been disproved as a deterrent to violent crime, and likewise bombs and missiles have not been very effective in deterring sociopathic tyrants around the world. Dozens of dictators are killing hundreds of their people every day. The recent Congo War in Africa left more than five million people dead, the most lives lost since World War II, yet the U.S. hasn’t targeted a single tank, arms cache or helicopter gunship in Africa. The atrocities in Syria are terible but tiny in comparison, yet we are preparing to intervene in order to “maintain our credibility” and “send a message.” Meanwhile, the Syrian military is busy decentralizing and scattering its assets among the civilian population. President Obama and the hawks in Congress are literally playing with fire, and the consequences are unpredictable.

• Looking back at the Eugene Celebration, we noticed a surprising number of out-of-towners were here this year, refugees from smoky air in southern Oregon and elsewhere. For better or worse, Lane County is looking increasingly attractive as climate change makes life more difficult for our neighbors to the south. Eugene is cool in a number of ways and a hoard of climate refugees could make a lot of our urban planning obsolete. The Envision Eugene community planning process that made its recommendations in 2012 was based on predictions that Eugene would grow by 34,000 people and 37,000 jobs in 20 years. We hear rumors circulating within the city bureaucracy that those numbers could be off — way off — for a number of reasons. Population growth is affected by the economy, public policy, technology and even the climate.

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