The Future of Transit
Adam Doster and Kate Sheppard write in In These Times: "More than 2.5 million people live in the Baltimore Metropolitan Area and most never step foot on public transit. The city’s bus system is slow and inefficient, and the region supports only two rail lines, a 15.5-mile light rail route that traverses the city from north to south and a heavy rail metro track that runs from the city center to the northwestern suburbs. Both lines serve only a combined 80,000 riders daily. Baltimoreans may not prefer driving, but they have little choice."
Environmental Benefits of Mass Transit
Bab Kanter writes for the Environmental Almanac: "When the Champaign-Urbana Mass Transit District moved to annex newer housing developments in southwest Champaign last year, it ignited a controversy that has yet to be fully resolved. I don’t mean to take on the legal or political ins and outs of annexation, and I don’t mean to speak for how the MTD operates. But I would like to recall to your attention the environmental benefits of mass transit, benefits that are enjoyed by everyone in the community served, riders and non-riders alike."
Conserving Energy and Preserving the Environment: The Role of Public Transportation
Adam Mizrahi writes for Urban City Architecture: "Being that National Dump the Pump Day is coming I thought it appropriate to share the following resource. Commissioned by the American Public Transportation Association (APTA), Conserving Energy and Preserving the Environment: The Role of Public Transportation outlines current and potential benefits of mass transit to energy preservation (gas) and the environment. Used in conjunction with “The Broader Connection“, which highlights the relationship between mass transit, the urban form, and vehicle miles traveled — this report helps quantify many of the environmental and energy benefits associated with increased use of public transportation and a transit oriented development policy that encourages walkable and livable streets."
Report Card on America's Infrastructure: Transportation
The American Society of Civil Engineers writes: "Transit use increased 25% between 1995 and 2005, faster than any other mode of transportation. 1 However, nearly half of American households do not have access to bus or rail transit, and only 25% have what they consider to be a "good option." The Federal Transit Administration estimates $15.8 billion is needed annually federal capital outlays for transit were only $9.8 billion."
Conserving Energy and Preserving the Environment: The Role of Public Transportation (PDF Download)
Robert Shapiro, Kevin Hassett and Frank Arnold report: "The role of transportation in our nation’s energy consumption and environmental quality is immense. Americans use more energy and generate more pollution in their daily lives than they do in the production of all the goods in the economy, the operations of all commercial enterprises, or the running of their homes. Any serious effort to reduce our dependence on foreign oil and make significant environmental progress must address the way Americans travel."
MKS Futures (large PDF download, 300 pages)
K-State College of Architecture, Planning and Design, Department of Landscape Architecture/Regional and Community Planning, Studio Professors Blake Belanger and Jason Brody, and the students of LAR 646 write: "The City of Manhattan stands at a critical threshold. In addition to general population growth, Manhattan’s selection as the future site of the Department of Homeland Security’s National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility (NBAF) and the ongoing expansion of Fort Riley, the population of Manhattan has been projected to increase by almost 40% in the next 20 years, from 51,707 to 69,887 people. Extended projections anticipate continued population growth in the following 20 years. This dramatic increase in population affords Manhattan tremendous opportunities for growth and development in the coming years. Businesses will be attracted to Manhattan, jobs will be created, and urban development will rapidly increase; the very face of the city will have to adjust to the influx of such a large number of people. Manhattan must plan ahead for the coming changes in order to take full advantage of the potential for expected development. Future development must be implemented in such a way that the existing cultural and natural identity of the place is not lost in the scramble to accommodate progress. Plans must be made so that issues and dilemmas that already face the city do not become worse."
News and Opinions for the Week...
Obama Comes Out Swinging at Cynical GOP on Health Care, Addresses Race Issues in Prof. Gates Arrest
Adele Stan writes for AlterNet: "At a press conference in the East Room of the White House, President Barack Obama came out swinging tonight at Republicans who would aim to make the debate over health-care reform the president's personal Waterloo. He finished the night with a big bang, when he took a question on a racially charged incident, and responded with ironic humor. In between, he was all wonk."
No More Excuses, Mr. President
Adam Howard writes for The Nation: "In an environment that resembled a revival much more than a conference, the NAACP repeatedly and enthusiastically sought to reaffirm its relevance last week as it celebrated its centennial anniversary. Speaker after speaker insisted, somewhat defensively, that we need the NAACP 'now more than ever' and with its young and charismatic new CEO, Benjamin Jealous, the organization made a significant push to court more youthful members. But every speech and presentation was inevitably overshadowed by the most prominent person of color on the planet--President Barack Obama. "
War Without Purpose
Chris Hedges writes for Truthdig.com: "Al-Qaida could not care less what we do in Afghanistan. We can bomb Afghan villages, hunt the Taliban in Helmand province, build a 100,000-strong client Afghan army, stand by passively as Afghan warlords execute hundreds, maybe thousands, of Taliban prisoners, build huge, elaborate military bases and send drones to drop bombs on Pakistan. It will make no difference. The war will not halt the attacks of Islamic radicals. Terrorist and insurgent groups are not conventional forces. They do not play by the rules of warfare our commanders have drilled into them in war colleges and service academies. And these underground groups are protean, changing shape and color as they drift from one failed state to the next, plan a terrorist attack and then fade back into the shadows. We are fighting with the wrong tools. We are fighting the wrong people. We are on the wrong side of history. And we will be defeated in Afghanistan as we will be in Iraq."
A Victory for Sensible Defense
Faiz Shakir, Amanda Terkel, Matt Corley, Benjamin Armbruster, Nate Carlile, and Brad Johnson write for The Progress Report at Think Progress: "With his 'political capital on the line,' President Obama 'won a crucial victory on Tuesday when the Senate voted to strip out $1.75 billion in financing for seven more F-22 jet fighters from a military authorization bill.' The 'nation's premier fighter-jet program' was conceived in the waning days of the Cold War to defend against 'a highly advanced enemy fighter fleet,' but the jets have 'yet to fly a single combat mission in Afghanistan, Iraq or anywhere else.' Limiting the F-22 to the 187 already authorized was 'a key policy victory for Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates, who has been campaigning against the plane since April' as a 'niche, silver bullet solution' against a non-existent threat. As Glenn Greenwald noted, this fight is not about the overall military budget: 'Barack Obama campaigned on a platform of increased defense spending. True to his word, Obama's 2010 fiscal year budget calls for $534 billion in defense spending (not including the costs of Iraq and Afghanistan).' Rather, it was a battle of political will between the influence of defense contractors and the legitimate national security interests of the United States. "If the Department of Defense can't figure out a way to defend the United States on a budget of more than half a trillion dollars a year," Gates argued during the F-22 debate, 'then our problems are much bigger than anything that can be cured by a few more ships and planes.' Following the dramatic vote, Obama responded, 'I reject the notion that we have to waste billions of taxpayer dollars on outdated and unnecessary defense projects to keep this nation secure.'"
Recommended Audio: Democracy Now! - Despite Pledge to Cut Military Ties to Coup Regime, US Continues to Train Honduran Soldiers at School of Americas
Amy Goodman writes: "While the European Union cut off aid to the coup regime in Honduras, the United States continues the money flow, and while the US says it has cut military ties, the National Catholic Reporter reveals Honduran army officers are still receiving military training at the notorious School of the Americas in Fort Benning, Georgia."
America's Wars: How Serial War Became the American Way of Life
David Bromwich writes for TomDispatch.com: "We have begun to talk casually about our wars; and this should be surprising for several reasons. To begin with, in the history of the United States war has never been considered the normal state of things. For two centuries, Americans were taught to think war itself an aberration, and 'wars' in the plural could only have seemed doubly aberrant. Younger generations of Americans, however, are now being taught to expect no end of war -- and no end of wars."
Honduran Coup Reveals Crisis of Democracy in the United States as Well
Tom Loudon comments for Truthout: "Three weeks have passed since the military coup d'etat in Honduras, yet the United States has failed to join the international community in issuing a clear denunciation of the illegal overthrow of the government of Honduras. Despite a statement by President Obama calling the coup illegal and recognizing Zelaya as the legitimate president, the US State Department refuses to classify what occurred as a coup or to take decisive steps required by law, including cutting off aid to the Micheletti government. The crisis of democracy in Honduras has unmasked a crisis in the United States as well."
Who Caused the Economic Crisis?
Simon Johnson and John Talbot write for Salon.com: "John R. Talbott is a former investment banker with Goldman Sachs and the author of "The 86 Biggest Lies on Wall Street," "Contagion," "Obamanomics," and "The Coming Crash in the Housing Market." His books predicted the housing market crash, the financial crisis and the election of Barack Obama when Obama was still a little-known underdog. Talbott is currently engaged in trying to build what he calls "a grass-roots movement of ordinary Americans who want to take back the government from lobbyists and corporate interests." Anyone interested in learning more can e-mail him at johntalbs (at) hotmail (dot) com."
Recommended Audio - Turthdig podcast "Dennis vs. Goliath"
Rep. Dennis Kucinich talks about winning a big victory for health care reform, grilling Hank Paulson over the Bank of America-Merrill Lynch merger, and the battle against crony capitalism.
Republicans Will Be Toast in 2010 If the Dems Pass Health Reform, and They Know It
Adele M. Stan writes for AlterNet: "If President Barack Obama succeeds in signing a major health care reform bill into law - one that provides a public plan for people currently priced out of the system - he will achieve what at least three presidents before him had hoped for, and failed to do. And he will likely deprive the Republican minority in Congress from anything approaching a comeback in the 2010 midterm elections."
Gingrich agrees with Kristol: ‘Yeah,’ Republicans should ‘go for the kill’ on health reform.
Lee Fang writes for Think Progress: "Earlier this week, the Weekly Standard’s Bill Kristol urged conservative activists and Republicans to 'resist the temptation' to work with Democrats in crafting health reform and instead 'go for the kill.' Kristol famously wrote a memo before the Clinton health care debate similarly urging Republicans, and then Rep. Newt Gingrich (R-GA), 'to defeat any Democratic health reform bill' as a political strategy to 'send them to voters empty-handed.' At a press conference this morning, ThinkProgress asked Gingrich if he agrees with the “go for the kill” strategy Kristol is advocating:"
American Health Care: The View From Expatriate Who Came Home
Roger J. Newell reports for The Oregonian: "As the health care reform debate revs up, the vested interests in the status quo warn against any alterations that might damage 'the world's best health care system.' In the 1980's I was a temporary resident in Great Britain, first as a graduate student, later as a pastor."
The 21st Century Color Line
Amy Goodman writes for Truthdig.com: " W.E.B. Du Bois’ classic 1903 work “The Souls of Black Folk” opens with “The problem of the Twentieth Century is the problem of the color line.” Du Bois helped form the NAACP, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, which just celebrated its 100th anniversary. Henry Louis Gates Jr., who directs Harvard University’s W.E.B. Du Bois Institute for African and African American Research, knows much about the color line—not only from his life’s work, but from life experience, including last week, when he was arrested in his own home."
Action Alert: Organic Consumer Association - Why Organic Consumers and Fair Trade Advocates Are Pressuring Whole Foods and UNFI
In response to OCA's recent alerts on Whole Foods Market (WFM) and United Natural Foods Inc. (UNFI), WFM posted out a form letter to many of our readers. Below is a summary of OCA's response, which you can read in greater detail here http://organicconsumers.org/
OCA Finds WFM and UNFI Guilty of the Following:
- Corporate takeovers and monopolistic practices undermining organics.
- Pushing so-called "natural" foods at the expense of organic.
- Excluding small and family-scale organic farms.
- Marginalizing local and regional producers and brands.
- Organic monopolies and the "Whole Paycheck" phenomena.
- Selling personal care products misleadingly labeled as "organic."
- Selling vitamins and supplements spiked with synthetic chemicals as "natural," "all natural" or "Whole Foods."
- Violating labor rights and Domestic Fair Trade principles.
Learn more about each of these points here
US Car Manufacturers Plough a Lonely Furrow on Biofuels: The US Environmental Protection Agency wants to boost the ethanol blend in fuels in a misguided bid to cut emissions
George Monbiot reports for The Guardian UK: "When the motor manufacturers are in dispute with the US Environmental Protection Agency, you wouldn't win much for guessing which side I'm likely to be on. But this time you'd be wrong."