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October 4, 2012 11:07 AM

There were a lot of things to critique in the debate last night. But there was one thing that really stuck  out for a lot of people.

Gov. Mitt Romney not only is mean to dogs. He wants to take out Sesame Street. He told moderator Jim Leher of PBS's NewsHour at last night's debate:

I’m sorry, Jim, I’m going to stop the subsidy to PBS. I like PBS. I love Big Bird. I actually like you, too. But I’m not going to keep spending money on things, borrowing money from China

Oh yeah? Let the memes and tweets begin.

 

 

According to the Christian Science Monitor

Both public radio and public television get their federal funding (small but crucial percentages of their budgets, administrators say, which are often earmarked for under-served and rural populations) from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. The Corporation for Public Broadcasting, for its part, gets a bit under $500 million in taxpayer dollars a year to distribute.

No small amount of change by itself, but in the grand scheme of the federal budget, not so much. It’s a few days of war in Afghanistan, according to many estimates. Just to put it in perspective.

As to the percentage of that $500 million that Big Bird actually pockets?  Pretty tiny. 

Finally, Jezebel wins for best post-debate wrap up:

 

5. Romney knows all about lying because he's got 5 sons. Wha?

Despite his non-pants-shitting performance, there were still a few moments of off-putting weirdness in the debate. Specifically, this quote:

"I've got five boys. I'm used to people saying something that's not always true, but just keep on repeating it and ultimately hoping I'll believe it."

I'm now concerned with Mitt Romney's merry band of sociopaths roaming the country.

Speaking of lies, Mitt Romney used last night to resurrect the idea of Obamacare being akin to a government takeover of medical care, which was Politifact's 2010 Lie of the Year. Yes, Mitt Romney is very familiar with falsehoods that get repeated over and over again as fact.

October 2, 2012 11:25 AM

The controversial coal train issue is coming before the Board of Lane County Commissioners tomorrow (10/3), according to an agenda item buried under "County Administration." Though the issue has been in the news and is a source of debate among Lane County and Eugene residents, it appears no effort was made by the county to publicize the vote. The upcoming 10/8 Eugene City Council vote on the issue has been a source of controversy and of news stories in the R-G and EW for months.

The county's vote will take place tomorrow at the Public Service Building, 125 East 8th Avenue, and public comments can be made at the beginning of the meeting, which starts at 9 am. Commissioners can also be contacted via phone or email through the county's website.

Click the image to view the agenda on the county's website.

Though as of Tuesday morning, one day before the vote, the  "view materials" link still does not have the information about the vote, EW obtained the supporting documents on the "Port of Coos Bay Bulk Terminal Support" issue (See below). One of them (Exhibit D) is a  white paper summary of the coal controversy and the other (Attachment D) is a resolution that specifically mentions the shipping of coal and  concludes:

Now, therefore, be it resolved that the Lane County Board recognizes the responsible development activities of the Port of Coos Bay related to increasing its ability to deliver, store, and transfer bulk commodities to the global marketplace.

ADOPTED this ______ day of October, 2012

 EW has contacted County Administrator Liane Richardson, Board Chair Sid Leiken, Intergovernmental Relations Manager Alex Cuyler, who is scheduled to bring up the issue, and the county public information officer for more information on the coal train vote and its scheduling.

The white paper that accompanies the resolution says:

Coal dust contains heavy metals including arsenic, cadmium, benzene, mercury, and lead.  Project developers say they would use a “surfactant,” a sticky spray on top of the rail cars, to limit coal dust.  The Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway conducted extensive testing on 1,633 coal trains and found that sealants sprayed on loaded coal cars dramatically reduced coal dust – in some cases to zero.  Increased train traffic also means increased diesel exhaust.  In Oregon, over 130 doctors have asked Governor Kitzhaber to order a comprehensive “health impact assessment.”  Physicians opposing coal export are primarily concerned with the effect of diesel particulates on pulmonary and neurological functions.

In Eugene, the Trainsong, River Road, Bethel, and Whiteaker neighborhoods are particularly vulnerable.  Other health and safety concerns include noise pollution, increased railroad mortality, and obstruction of emergency vehicle access.  In addition, the accumulation of coal dust could damage crops, contaminate water, pollute the air, and poison the wildlife.  Coal dust also corrodes and undermines rail infrastructure, so coal trains have a high risk of derailment.  Five coal trains derailed in the U.S. during the summer of 2012, one just outside the Columbia River Gorge in Washington.

But according to the county's proposed resolution, this is mitigated because:

WHEREAS, the Port has clearly stipulated delivery standards that will minimize or eliminate fugitive dust emissions escape from rail cars …

Beyond Toxics, Cascadia Wildlands and other local groups have weighed into to object to coal trains and will likly speak at tomorrow's commissioners meeting.

UPDATE: The county says the documents supporting the Coos Bay Terminal agenda item are now up on the website.

October 2, 2012 07:42 PM

Local coal train opponentswere a little surprised to discover that the Lane County Board Commissioners will be voting on Wednesday Oct. 3 on supporting the Coos Bay Bulk Terminal development and the accompanying planned coal trains. It's a pretty a hot topic, one the public has had a lot of opinions on, and the upcoming Oct. 8 Eugene City Council vote on the issue has been well-publicized. Lane County buried the vote on the planned resolution in an agenda item

EW asked Intergovernmental Relations Manager (or as he says on his Twitter profile, lobbyist) about tomorrow's resolution. Cuyler preferred to respond by email, so here's our questions and his answers.

What significance does the county commission vote have, either by supporting or not supporting the Coos Bay Terminal proposal? 

The County Board of Commissioner will take action on a resolution, which expresses their opinion, but does not carry the same weight as an order.  A resolution is non-binding and unenforcible statement.  The Port may use it as they seek to advance their operations.  As a partner to the Port, the Board has signed a number of letters of support for specific, and more general funding opportunities.  In August 2008, Lane County was at the Surface Transportation Board hearing on transferring ownership (actually the hearing was on opposing the petition of the previous operator to dismantle the line) of the short line railroad to the Port. The Board’s agenda setting team is aware the Eugene City Council will be taking up a related issue on October 8.

The resolution as worded on the website is in favor of support how was that decision made and by whom?

The Lane County Legislative Committee examined the white paper last week. Discussions at that meeting informed the content of the resolution.  For example, staff asked whether the resolution should address coal trains, Coos County’s economic condition, or the Port.  The committee’s focus was on the Port’s bulk terminal expansion proposal.  As with most resolutions and orders, staff drafted the language for the full Board to consider.  Tomorrow, the Board may choose to modify it, abandon it, or adopt it as written.

The resolution mentions things put into place to restrict the coal dust, but has there been anything ensuring that can and will be done? I believe [Congressman Peter] DeFazio said that might have to be done legislatively?

The Port’s documents are clear environmental considerations were one of three “top weighted” issues.  While the Port does not regulate coal dust standards, it appears contractually and operationally, they have committed to minimizing fugitive emissions.  For example, the site design for the bulk terminal involves covered loading/unloading.  The rail car’s being proposed are “rotary dump” with the bottom of the car being completely solid (at one of their early briefings with us, I learned that most “dust” comes from the bottom of a traditional, bottom unloading car).

It’s a pretty controversial issue, why was the public not notified? The agenda item doesn't mention coal trains, though the white paper and the actual resolution do.

The Lane County Board of Commissioners routinely considers controversial issues at its regular, publicly noticed meetings.  The issue at hand is the bulk handling terminal.  The white paper and resolution reference the materials to be handled, including coal.

October 2, 2012 09:15 PM

News about the Bandon, Ore. man that was eaten by his 700-pound pigs has been getting some traction since it broke yesterday. It actually happened last Wednesday, but the folks at the Coos Bay District Attorney's office didn't release the news til it began to leak and they realized , "Wow, people are kind of freaking out."

How did this happen?

DA Paul Frasier tells The Eugene Register-Guard. "For all we know, it was a horrific accident, but it’s so doggone weird that we have to look at all possibilities,” 

The details are little Stephen King-ish.

First, the family member found Garner’s dentures on the ground. He then noticed pieces of Garner’s body scattered throughout the enclosure, Frasier said.

While investigators are certain that the hogs consumed most of Garner’s body, they do not know how he died. An investigation is continuing.

 

Any time someone dies I think it's tragic, but there are so many things ever so wrong with this incident. Vegans might disagree; they might think being eaten by a 700-pound pig is karmic payback for bacon. Or more precisely for the upcoming bacon shortage that was caused by folks going hog-wild and slaughtering their pigs early  thanks to the drought in much of the U.S. and in Europe. 

Let's start with the 700-pound pig thing; that, as the spider writes in the web in everyone's favorite childhood book about a cheerful and plucky swine, is "some pig."

I bet Wilbur would NEVER eat a farmer.

The R-G reports:

John Killefer, who heads the Animal and Rangeland Sciences Department at Oregon State University in Corvallis, called the incident involving Terry Garner both “very unfortunate” and highly unusual.

Although domestic hogs are not typically known to be as aggressive as their feral cousins, “there is some degree of danger associated with any animal,” Killefer said. He added that pigs “are more omnivorous than other farm animals, (such as) cows.”

Killefer said 700-pound pigs such as the ones that Garner kept at his farm for breeding purposes are abnormally large.

And just what was the unfortunate Mr. Garner doing with the 700-pound pigs? According to the news story, he had a boar named Teddy and several rather large sows, and he bred them to sell to 4-H kids. Yup, there are kids in rural, coastal Oregon raising Wilburs of their own, that are descended from Teddy and his fellow human-eating sows. No word in the story as to what to happen to Teddy and his crew, but let's just saying making THOSE particular pigs into pork would be so, so wrong. 

September 30, 2012 03:59 PM

And here is the latest in kitten videos. The makers swear no kitties were harmed (see below).

Before you go all crazy on me for "hurting" cats, you should know that the cats were handled with GREAT care. We decided to keep the shot tight on the cats so that they did not need to be airborne very long. The cats were tossed a few feet into an enormous and ultra soft sheepskin blanket. The cats were treated like royalty. They were fed gourmet cat food and lots of water. We took many breaks where the kittens rested and played in the shade. They were full of energy the entire shoot which lasted a mere one hour. This video was shot six months ago and the cats are alive and in perfect health today. I love cats and would never even consider harming them...so please stop sending me death threats. Anyways..

September 26, 2012 05:20 PM

 

Cascadia Forest Defenders are probably most know for  tree sits and occupying government offices — most recently over logging in the Elliott State Forest, but when it comes to logging, mills and biomass plants are a part of the equation, so today CFD is occupying a billboard near the Seneca Sawmill/Seneca Sustainable energy plant. Here is the press release:

ACTIVISTS OCCUPY BILLBOARD OUTSIDE EUGENE POLLUTER SENECA SAWMILL

Eugene, OR- This afternoon members of Cascadia Forest Defenders occupied a billboard outside of the West Eugene Seneca Sawmill with a banner that read, “SENECA JONES: BAILOUTS, CLEARCUTS, & POLLUTING WEST EUGENE”.

Seneca Biomass is a wood burning power plant in West Eugene that opened in the spring of 2011 amid public protest. Though the project has been marketed as “green energy,” Seneca Biomass failed its first EPA air pollution test last fall. The plant releases an estimated 17,900 pounds of air toxins into West Eugene Neighborhoods annually —t his in addition to the 73,000 pounds already released annually from the mill itself. There are three schools within three miles of the Seneca Biomass facility.

While there are many industrial polluters in West Eugene, it so happens that Seneca Jones receives public funding for its dirty energy project. Seneca currently receives 10 million dollars in tax credits from the state of Oregon under the Business Energy Tax Credit Program. Seneca is now suing the state for an additional one million to offset the production costs of their new plant.

They get paid, we get polluted,” says west Eugene resident and Cascadia Forest Defender Grace Warner. “It would be nice if the state would give that 11 million to helping schools-- not to polluting them.”

Seneca is also responsible for much of the clear-cut logging in Oregon public forests. Seneca is one of the top three purchasers of timber sales in the Elliott State Forest, where companies clear-cut up to 850 acres every year. While the State Land Board justifies the destruction of Oregon's last remnants of coastal temperate rainforest to benefit public schools, logging in the Elliott contributes to less than one percent of the State's annual school budget.

Oregon can do better. We demand that Seneca:

  1. Stop polluting West Eugene.
  2. Stop clear-cutting Oregon's ancient forests.
  3. Start paying taxes like the rest of us.
September 25, 2012 04:57 PM

Better head down to Voodoo Doughnuts for that bacon doughnut now, because there's a bacon shortage being predicted for next year. A Chicago Tribune business story cited a Bloomberg report that the pig supply is dropping to record lows. The Tribune says:

Blame the drought conditions that blazed through the corn and soybean crop this year. Less feed led to herds declining across the European Union “at a significant rate,” according to the National Pig Assn. in Britain.

And the trend “is being mirrored around the world,” according to a release (hat tip to the Financial Times)

In U.S. warehouses, pork supply soared to a record last month, rising 31% to 580.8 million pounds at the end of August from a year earlier, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

The surge came as farmers scaled down their herds as feeding the animals became increasingly expensive.

That's right, high feed prices mean that young pigs are being killed now and not saved for later bacon. (We will let the question of whether the pigs are being honored and apologized to before being slaughtered slide for another occaision. Bacon, like chicken is part of the circle of life, right?

Bloomberg reports in a story headlined "Pig Slaughter Shrinks Supply to 1975 Low in Drought":

U.S. hog farmers are slaughtering animals at the fastest pace since 2009 as a surge in feed costs spurs the biggest losses in 14 years, signaling smaller herds next year and a rebound in pork prices

Will there be hipster outrage? There are already despairing tweets about the Baconpocalypse. And it will no doubt put an end to things like "21 Things Made out of Tasty Bacon such as a bacon Kevin Bacon, bacon narwhale and bacon turtles.

September 24, 2012 07:51 PM

Sadly Bill Nye the Science Guy did NOT say and I quote the fake news story from The Daily Current

"Look, these people they're f*cking retarded. Rape can't cause pregnancy? Breastmilk cures homosexuality? I caused a hurricane by challenging creationism? Who can possibly take these people seriously anymore?"

"...Now they don't even believe in egg + sperm = baby. Where does Todd Akin think babies come from? Does he think there are separate storks for people who were raped and people who weren't? "

"Hey look at me! I'm the rape stork. I drop off all my babies directly at the orphanage."

"He's a f*cking idiot. Just a plain f*cking idiot. I'm sorry - I don't say that word very often - but it happens to fit in this case. He's just a f*cking idiot."

"So Todd I got an offer for you. You and me. Any time. Any place. Debating sciencemano-a-mano. I'll bring the facts, and you bring the Vaseline. Because your ass is gonna f*cking need it when I'm done whipping."

He DID post a video on YouTube saying parents shouldn't teach Creationism.

 

Even more fun, Nye appears in a Symphony of Science video on climate change with David Attenborough, Richard Alley and Isaac Asimov.

 

 

For more science music autotuning go to http://www.symphonyofscience.com/ 

The Morgan Freeman one on on quantum physics is not to be missed. And I will leave you with DINOSAURS!!!

September 19, 2012 01:16 PM

The bus driver is cool. It has big windwows. It is big and long. It has it's own lane. Sound familiar? It's the bus.

LTD needs to add a little Danish sensibility to its ads. If Our Money Our Transit can put anti-EmX ads on the back of LTD buses, then LTD should think about hitting back with hot, sexy bus ads. 

September 14, 2012 11:37 AM

The Triangle Lake/Hwy 36 pesticide sprays were featured on PBS's NewsHour this week. 

The people around Triangle Lake have been fighting the timber industry over toxic sprays for years. Companies such as Roseburg, Weyerhaeuser and Seneca Jones say they have the right to spray on their private lands, and that the sprays are necessary to regrow the clearcut forests for future wood products.

Residents say the toxic sprays are getting in their water, onto their organic farms and even into their own bodies.

Triangle Lake residents, including children, have tested postive for forestry pesticides in their urine. Here's just some of the coverage we've featured in the paper, to give you a sense of the history. From schools surrounded by clearcuts to Homeland Security targeting pesticide protesters, it's a twisted tale.

March 2006: The Pitchfork Rebellion against the toxic sprays arises. Story by Kera Abraham.

February 2008: Small Town, Big Clearcut: Parents fight a pesticide spray after Weyerhaeuser clearcuts around Triangle Lake school. Story by Camilla Mortensen.

June 2008: Homeland Security keeps tabs on pestcide activtists. Activists pepper sprayed at rally.

May 2011: Testing shows pesticides in school's waterMarch 2012: Problems with the state spray study arise.

September 2012: Fall spray season begins, but the study remains in limbo.

Want more? Go to the Eugene Weekly website and Google "spray schedule" to see the years and years worth of pesticide spray alerts that Forestland Dwellers has sent EW to publish. Search for "Triangle Lake" to get all the articles on the fight against the sprays in Oregon's Coast Range. 

September 11, 2012 05:51 PM

The Oregon Department of Justice sent a letter to the Lane County Counsel today informing the county of the decision not to pursue the investigation against Handy due to insufficient evidence he had violated any criminal laws. 

The county apparently sent out its press release about the issue before contacting Handy's attorney. Handy said in response to the news and the press release:

It is great to be exonerated by the Department of Justice; I believe that the state could clearly see the political motivations behind the allegations and that Lane County, and John Brown, overreacted and wasted the time, attention, and resources of the state.  I disagree with the press release from Lane County that there are still issues being considered by the Ethics Commission or the Secretary of State’s office; my information is that there is nothing further pending from any state office and that this is over.

My supporters and I have learned to celebrate justice wherever we find it and we will enjoy this moment.  I also look forward to the resolution of the pending lawsuits by the state and federal courts that I have filed against Lane County.  I believe that the current practice of “might makes right” in place in Lane County has lead to some tremendous abuse; I look forward to the truth being exposed so that these practices will end.

On May 3, Commissioners Sid Leiken, Jay Bozievich and Faye Stewart, along with County Administrator Liane Richardson, held an emergency meeting and decided to release allegations against Handy made by attorney Alan Thayer representing Eugene businessman John Brown in regard to a donation towards Handy's $20,000 debt from the Seneca Timber-funded Dumdi case. Handy has since filed a suit alleging the meeting was a violation of Oregon open meetings laws. He called the allegations a "smear tactic."

Handy said he checked with the county’s finance department before asking supporters to assist with the debt.

Handy said at press conference in May that the allegations were timed to hurt him in the May 15 election, for which voting was already under way. He said that the timing “was coldly and cynically planned to make sure that when the truth comes out, the election will be over.” He added, “If he was truly concerned about my behavior in this matter, he would have filed a complaint months and months ago after my request of him for a donation."

Though the handwritten note that spurred the allegations was received by John Brown  on Feb. 21, he and Thayer waited until shortly before the May 15 election to release the information, Handy said.

Handy lost the election to Pat Farr. According to an R-G article, Pat Farr and Alan Thayer are friends. 

Handy was locked out of his office when the DOJ investigation began, and even after the investigation concluded, the county continued to lock him out  — he was locked out for more than 80 days.

The press release from the county said: 

Department of Justice Concludes Their Investigation of Lane County Commissioner Rob Handy

On May 2, 2012 Lane County District Attorney Alex Gardner made a request that the Criminal Justice Division of the Oregon Department of Justice conduct an investigation of allegations that Lane County Commissioner Rob Handy had committed criminal acts under Oregon law. The allegations against Commissioner Handy were made in a letter dated May 2, 2012 drafted by Eugene attorney Alan Thayer on behalf of Lane County resident John Brown.  The letter also contained allegations that Commissioner Handy had violated various election and ethics laws. The Thayer letter referred the various allegations to Alex Gardner Lane County District Attorney, Kate Brown Oregon Secretary of State, Steve Trout Oregon Elections Division and the Oregon Government Ethics Commission.

The Oregon Department of Justice has found insufficient evidence to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Commissioner Handy committed any crime under Oregon law.  Andrew Campbell, Senior Assistant Attorney General concluded: “While his conduct may have violated personnel policies and ethics rules, it does not meet the criteria for criminal prosecution.” Any additional questions regarding the reasoning behind the decision should be directed to the Oregon Department of Justice. A copy of the letter from the Oregon Department of Justice is attached.

The allegation that Commissioner Handy violated election laws is still under investigation by the Oregon Secretary of State.  Questions about the current status of their investigation should be directed to the Oregon Secretary of State.

The allegation that Commissioner Handy violated Oregon ethics laws was referred to the Oregon Government Ethics Commission. Questions about the current status of their investigation should be directed to the Oregon Government Ethics Commission.

Commissioner Handy has filed civil litigation against Lane County and various Lane County public officials and employees.  Lane County Presiding Judge Karsten Rasmussen has assigned Coos County Circuit Court Judge Richard L. Barron to hear both cases. The public meetings law case, Lane County Circuit Court case 16-12-13685 has been tentatively scheduled for a hearing on Lane County’s anti-Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation (“anti-SLAPP”) motion on October 5, 2012. The public records lawsuit, Lane County Circuit Court case 16-12-10517, has previously been set for trial on January 8, 9 and 10th 2013.  As a result of the pending litigation, the County is unable to comment further on these matters. All of the County’s responses to the litigation filed by Commissioner Handy are public records and will constitute Lane County’s official response to the lawsuits filed by Commissioner Handy.

The DOJ document is below.

September 10, 2012 05:53 PM

I have dogs. They do bad things, like sniff crotches and open the fridge and eat all the butter (Zella). And now, next time they do something bad, like eat all the seatbelts in my car (Rhoda) there's a place to shame them publicly for their wrongs. 

Dog-shaming.com 

Pages and pages of dogs doing bad things. Cutely. It's like cat videos only for dog people. And with less movement. Well, you know what I mean. 

As we say around the office, this week's news lines the kennel  next week. Or I guess is next week's chew toy. 

I have no idea why this one made me laugh so hard. Snozberries.

\

For more sad and embarrassed dogs go to http://dog-shaming.com/

September 5, 2012 02:57 PM

So the UO sent a link to a "press conference" today.

Yes, according to the UO, the Duck is running for president, or so he says via his interpreter. He even has a website: http://duck2012.com/ 

Ah, the wonders of higher education. Sports are great. But if there's money out there, then let's put funding toward better equipment in the classrooms, better professor and grad student salaries and improving higher eductation in general. The UO really needs to PUT DOWN THE DUCKIE.

August 31, 2012 12:02 PM

I'm laughing, and I'm sort of disturbed all at once, by the "legitimate rape pharmaceutical ad." 

(FYI trigger warning, the video's funny but hard to watch, too)