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Slant 8-13-2015

Fred Taylor

• Before Fred Taylor became one of the owners of Eugene Weekly, he was the managing editor and later executive editor of the Wall Street Journal. Earlier as a reporter, he wrote many of the long, front-page features that made the WSJ famous, and his thoughts on writing news stories and the use of photography are quoted again and again in books and articles. Over the years EW staff has reaped the benefit of his influence on this scrappy paper and its mission to make the world a better place. This week we mourn his passing Aug. 10 at his home in North Bend. 

• Presidential hopeful Sen. Bernie Sanders made a splash in Portland Aug. 9, when he drew 28,000 people to see him speak, nearly double the 15,000-person crowd that came to see him in the larger metro area of Seattle the day before. He’s rocking the turnout with his platforms of income inequality and removing big money from politics. After Black Lives Matter activists took the stage during his Seattle rally, saying Sanders ignores issues of racial inequality, his campaign added a racial justice portion to its website, and he’s been addressing criminal justice reform in his speeches.

Why do so many Oregonians want to “Feel the Bern” in the 2016 presidential election? In addition to income inequality, the self-described socialist touches a nerve when it comes to Wall Street greed, immigration reform, raising federal minimum wage and making public universities tuition-free. Pie-in-the-sky dreaming? We’ll take it.

For local Sanders fans, a Bernie Sanders group is meeting 10:30 am Saturday, Aug. 15, at Monroe Park (10th & Monroe). On Aug. 22 and 29, the group will meet at the Democratic Party Office (224 E. 11th Ave.) at 10:30 am.

Can we feed ourselves? That’s the question pondered in the latest LandWatch Lane County newsletter. A survey by a Food Studies class at UO last year calculated that Lane County could meet residents’ total percent need for grains, but only 75 percent for vegetables, 50 percent for fruit, 20 percent for dairy and 8 percent for meat (looking at beef only). This scenario assumes all 219,625 acres of our agricultural land is converted to food production to feed our county’s 356,212 residents, and it assumes adequate irrigation water. 

Why bother with such a study? A major earthquake or other natural disaster could cut off the roughly 95 percent of food that’s currently trucked into Lane County, and if and when fossil fuel prices skyrocket, so will the price of food shipped in. “Every acre of productive land we lose to suburban sprawl, erosion and industrial development reduces our capacity to feed Lane County residents,” writes Lynne Fessenden in the newsletter. She is executive director of the Willamette Food and Farm Coalition. 

• We are reminded by the recent attention to the Brian Babb shooting that police in the U.S. keep killing suspects, both armed and unarmed, and nearly all killings by police are ruled “justified.” We don’t even have accurate numbers since police departments are not required to report the killing of civilians to the FBI or any national database. The latest estimate is 400 a year or about eight a week — out of 320 million Americans. British bobbies shot and killed two people in 2014 — out of 63.8 million Brits.