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April 3, 2014 02:35 PM

Bob Keefer wrote about art and artists for most of the 30 years he worked for The Register-Guard. He retired in 2013 to concentrate on his photography, but continued to freelance arts stories for the R-G. On April 3, a couple days after rounding up support for a well-wishing for Serena Markstrom Nugent after she was fired from the paper, Keefer was informed  in a one-sentence email: "We won't be needing your freelance services anymore.”

Markstrom Nugent, who was fired for checking her email while on pregnancy disability, was not allowed by R-G management to come in and clean out her desk, so employees past and present as well as members of the community were invited to celebrate her and her baby. Keefer sent out this message through a public post on his Facebook page on March 27:

Arts world people: As some of you may know, my former colleague and now very pregnant Serena Markstrom Nugent, the pop music writer for many years, has just been fired from the Register-Guard -- while on medical disability leave! -- after committing the sin of checking her work email from home. Friends are going to assemble in front of the newspaper at 3:30 p.m. today to wish her well as she arrives to clean out her desk. Y'all come!

Today Keefer posted:

Arts world friends,

I've been fired by the Register-Guard. Since I retired from full-time work in July, I've been contributing a couple art reviews to the Arts section each month as a freelancer. But according to a one-line email I just received, “We won't be needing your freelance services anymore.”

There was no explanation, but this follows closely on my public support of former colleague Serena Markstrom Nugent, who was fired by the paper last month, while on medical leave, after working there 13 years. See today's Eugene Weekly for details on that story.

Let's just say I'm not devastated. Of course I'll miss the opportunity to review more art shows around town, but it's time to concentrate on my photography and writing projects, as well as working with Wordcrafters writing conference and Lane Arts Council.

See you on the Art Walk!

Bob

The R-G seems determined to cut off its nose to spite its face — Keefer and Markstrom Nugent have been strong and vibrant supporters of the arts and music community. Nobody wants to see a locally owned daily news source go under. Anyone have any advice for the R-G

April 1, 2014 05:32 PM

Read a review of Mark Naison's new book on public education under attack by conservatives dedicated to privatizing education and the massive profits that are to be made:

http://wkly.ws/1pz

Here's an excerpt from the review:

One of the many carefully orchestrated myths of the corporate “reformers” who have hijacked American education this century is that opposition comes only from the Tea Party and from teachers union ‘dead enders.’ All right-thinking Americans, the myth goes, recognize that our public schools have failed and that education in the United States can only be saved by alternatives like vouchers and charter schools, by public schools staffed by temporary Teach for America instructors, and by imposition of “standards” by an elite that knows what employers need. Led today by Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, billionaire Bill Gates, College Board head (and Common Core State Standards creator) David Coleman, and Students First organizer Michelle Rhee, this well-funded “reform” movement has been steamrolling over resistance for years, opponents often destroyed before they even know they are under attack.

March 31, 2014 11:41 AM

The U.S. flag is flying upside down at Whoville. This display of the flag is not disrespectful or against the law; it is a legal sign of dire distress according to the United States Code.

The distress stems from a decision by Eugene City Manager John Ruiz to shut Whoville down "the first week in April," a week before the City Council had decided it must be closed and before any scheduled meeting of the City Council, which has not met since its March 12 work session when the council declined to take up the subject of Whoville before adjourning for a one-month vacation.

Whoville residents, some of whom are fragile and have mental or physical handicaps, are understandably anxious about the rapidly approaching breakup of their community, where over the past six month many have found supportive relationships, friends and a sense of peace and security for the first time in years.

Earlier this winter Whoville advocates believed we had an agreement with the city that Whoville would not be closed until places were found for all the residents. However on March 10, the council in a 5-2 vote decided that Whoville would be closed no later than April 15.

In addition to setting a firm deadline of April 15 at the March 10 meeting, the council authorized a 15-person rest stop on city-owned property near the Science Factory. Unfortunately, the councilors neglected one of the key points of any bureaucratic process: get buy-in from all the stakeholders.

Understandably, alerted to the fact that a rest stop would soon appear in their parking lot by a story in the The Register-Guard, the Science Factory employees, staff from Nearby Nature, Cuthbert enthusiasts, and parents of BMXers began a letter and phone campaign, expressing so much apprehension about the arrival of the Whos, that some advocates think we have been set up to fail.

With the city councilors and mayor out of town on break, advocates have attempted to connect with Ruiz, to request that he wait until April 9, after the council is back and has had its work session, to begin the closedown. We also want to request that the city find a site for this rest stop where the neighbors have not been left out of the decision-making process and are not already angry and resentful of Whoville residents. We have been trying for several days to set up a meeting with Ruiz to make these requests but he has not returned our calls.

Beyond the acceleration of the closing down of Whoville, the advocates would like the public to think about a more significant question: Why does the city want to dismantle a working community, one which is keeping about fifty unhoused people out of the downtown area, saving the city money in arrests and court costs, and providing basic sanitation — including a place to poop — only to send people back out to hidey holes in the alleys, along the river and under bridges? How does this bring about a safer, better Eugene?

Taking a page out of Kafka, the Eugene Police Department has posted “Notice” signs at Whoville announcing that people must leave the site and directing them to call three social service agencies to help them “comply with this Notice:” St. Vincent de Paul’s First Place Family Center, which works with family with children under 18 — there are no children at Whoville; Whitebird Homeless Case Management, which can offer little help regarding safe shelter; and an unidentified number, which no one answers.

Our mayor, Kitty Piercy, sometimes reminds us that we cannot immediately provide shelter for all the unhoused in our community. But we do have the fate of this one particular group — the Whos — in our hands. If we evict them without making provisions for their relocation, we criminalize them. The United Nations Human Rights Committee recently condemned the criminalization of homelessness in the U.S. as “cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment.” Why don’t we become leaders and start here, with Whoville, to be the Human Rights City we aspire to be? Let’s legalize survival.

March 28, 2014 03:33 PM

New video from the city and LTD looks at challenges of traffic on Charnelton with EmX.

March 28, 2014 02:46 PM

The Oregonian, that venerable Portland paper, has been heavy on the reader surveys lately, and stories about fat cats (the feline, not political kind) and cute videos. It's all about the reader clicks when a newspaper goes digital-first. Willamette Week has a story out about how the clamor for clicks by The O's owner, Advance Publications is affecting the newsroom; WW writes "Internal documents show the newsroom’s staff faces steep new quotas for feeding the website. The documents, reported by wweek.com March 23, say 75 percent of reporters’ job performance will be measured by Web-based benchmarks, including how often they post to Oregonlive.com. The most productive reporters at meeting their goals will have a chance at earning merit pay."

I appreciate The O's continued work on covering oil trains and coal, but like others, I  wonder if focusing on how often a reporter posts could affect his or her ability to do in-depth reporting?

Posting things fast and furious isn't great for copy editing either. We all have a typo sneak into the paper here and there — what journalist hasn't reported on a pubic meeting when she meant public? But the irony of a basic typo (it's versus its) on a survey about readers think about the content on OregonLive is duly noted in the context of concerns that the O is valuing speed and clicks over content. 

You can find the survey on OregonLive in the same editor's section where you can read soon-to-be former editor Peter Bhatia's discussion of the paper via Twitter posts. 

March 28, 2014 03:17 PM

Annie Leonard, writer and illustrator of The Story of Stuff, will be giving the Dempsey Lecture at 7:30 pm Thursday, April 17, at Hudson Hall at Willamette University in Salem. Might be fun to carpool to this free event.

March 27, 2014 12:05 PM

The Register-Guard has fired popular entertainment reporter Serena Markstrom Nugent, and according to an email sent out by her former colleague, Bob Keefer, her friends and colleagues will be convening to wish her well today at 3:30 pm on the sidewalk in front of the R-G at 3500 Chad Drive. Markstrom Nugent will be going to the R-G to collect her personal items from her desk.

EW is going to go out on a limb here and say this well-wishing is going to be more of a protest and will be heading out there to cover it.

The R-G has lost many of its experienced long-time reporters over the past several years. Readers may have noted that Markstrom Nugent hasn't been writing about entertainment lately, as she did for most of her 13-year stint at the R-G.  She was moved off entertainment and began covering a rural Lane County beat. That move surprised many of  Markstrom's readers — she has built a following for music and entertainment through not only her stories, but via frequent social media posts on Facebook and Twitter as well as her blog. Moving writers to beats they are unfamiliar with is often seen as a strategy to get rid of experienced, higher-paid writers and replace them with newer reporters at a lesser pay scale.

According to social media posts, Markstrom Nugent, who is pregnant, was fired for checking her email while on medical leave. 

March 24, 2014 01:25 PM

Is it the pauses? The hand gestures? The awe at colors making white light? Watching astrophysicist and Cosmos host Neil DeGrasse Tyson in slow-mo, thanks to a science-loving YouTuber, is like talking to a dude with dreads at Saturday Market. 

Gawker reports Tyson thinks the video is funny, and showed it at a lecture this weekend. 

March 24, 2014 11:44 AM

 

Will Oregon environmental organizations share his enthusiasm?

Update: NO.

Susan Jane Brown of the Western Environmental Law Center, which has been fighting the controversial liquifiend natural gas proposal responded saying:

"Senator Wyden’s comments on Jordan Cove show an unfortunate lack of understanding about, and appreciation of, the environmental and social costs of the project. Oregonians who recreate on the public lands and waters crossed by the pipeline, or private landowners who would have their property taken for the benefit of a few rich foreigners, know better. We hoped Senator Wyden would as well."

Wyden's full press release is  below.

Wyden Applauds Approval of Jordan Cove LNG Terminal

 

Monday, March 24, 2014

Washington, D.C. – Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore, issued the following statement on the Energy Department’s approval of Jordan Cove’s application to export liquefied natural gas from Coos County, Oregon:

“This announcement is exactly what Coos Bay, North Bend and America need: new jobs and new investment, while factoring in a changed geopolitical landscape through a case-by-case process.

I urged DOE to consider this application without delay, and I am pleased the department decided that Jordan Cove deserves to move forward.

Priority one for me has always been ensuring American jobs and employers see the full benefits of the natural gas renaissance. The Department of Energy must monitor markets closely and be prepared to adjust course should any threat to American jobs or energy security emerge.”

Jordan Cove’s terminal was approved to export .8 billion cubic feet per day of natural gas. The project must now receive approval from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission before beginning construction. Jordan Cove is the seventh LNG export application to date approved for nations without free trade agreements with the United states. 

March 20, 2014 02:08 PM

March 20, 2014 03:08 PM

Press release of the day goes to DOGAMI, for cheerfully mixing spring break with earthquake and tusnami advice. Don't just get ready for a trip this spring break, get ready for disaster!

BE READY FOR AN EARTHQUAKE, WHEREVER TRAVEL TAKES YOU

News Release from Oregon Department of Geology and Mineral Industries

OREGON - Exploring Oregon during spring break? Take time to plan for an earthquake or tsunami before setting off on your adventure. 

"A Cascadia Subduction Zone earthquake could happen anytime - even during vacations," says State Geologist Vicki S. McConnell. "Plan now to be ready no matter where you are." 

March is Earthquake and Tsunami Awareness Month in Oregon, and also marks the anniversaries of two eye-opening disasters for the state: the March 11, 2011 Tohoku, Japan earthquake and tsunami and the March 27, 1964 Alaska earthquake and tsunami. 

"Oregon's tectonic setting is a mirror image of Japan's," says Yumei Wang, Oregon Department of Geology and Mineral Industries (DOGAMI) geotechnical engineer. "The Tohoku earthquake and tsunami showed us how destructive a Cascadia earthquake and tsunami could be, and emphasized the need to prepare." 

Preparing for a major Cascadia earthquake also gets Oregonians ready for other types of earthquakes. The most damaging Oregon earthquakes of the past century, the magnitude 6.0 and 5.9 Klamath Falls earthquakes and magnitude 5.6 Scotts Mills earthquake, were caused by shallow crustal faults. 

WHERE ARE YOU HEADED? 

The Oregon Coast: A Cascadia earthquake will generate a tsunami, so know where high ground is and how to get there. The Oregon Tsunami Clearinghouse, www.OregonTsunami.org, is a one-stop resource for all essentials, including evacuation brochures, evacuation route maps, and preparedness kit checklists. 

A city: If you're outside, move to an open area. Glass, bricks and other debris may fall from buildings, and utility poles and wires, signs, and street lights may topple. If you're inside, "drop, cover and hold on" under a study table or desk, and don't go outside until the shaking stops. 

The mountains: During an earthquake, move away from cliffs and steep slopes where debris may fall, or a landslide may occur. Be alert for falling rocks and trees. 

Road trip: If you're driving when an earthquake hits, stop the car away from buildings, bridges, overpasses, trees and utility lines. Put your parking brake on, and stay in the car until the shaking is over. 

BEFORE LEAVING HOME 

- Create a travel version of your emergency plan. Identify an out-of-state relative to check in with during a disaster. (Be sure to choose someone who's not traveling at the same time.) Pick a safe meeting place at your destination - consult evacuation brochures and local maps - and make a plan for reuniting after a disaster. "Having a conversation about who you'll call and where you'll meet is an easy step that's so important," says McConnell. "Discuss as you're packing, or when you're all in the car together." 

- Build an emergency kit for your car. Include necessities such as bottled water, high-calorie snacks, first aid kit, flashlight, road maps, emergency contact list and emergency cash. Checklists for car, home and personal kits are available at www.oregongeology.org/sub/emergencykit.htm

March 19, 2014 04:19 PM

Want to understand the history of Crimea better? One scholar writing on the topic this week is John Quigley. The below essay can be found on the Cambridge Journal of International and Comparative Law, see http://wkly.ws/1ph

The current situation in Crimea can of course be analyzed from the standpoint of use of force under international law, but other aspects merit attention as well. In particular, if one approaches the situation from the dispute settlement angle, one can ask what the appropriate status of Crimea should be.
Crimea occupies a strange posture because of its history. It is territory that originally was populated by the Tatars, who were then overtaken by migrating Russians starting in the eighteenth century as the Russian Empire extended its reach southward. The Tatars regard the Russians much as the indigenous peoples of North America regard the Europeans who came to their territory and took it over. That relationship suffered even more during World War II. Because the Tatars harbored resentment against the Russians, the German invasion seemed to many Tatars a favorable development, but the response of the Soviet Government was to exile the Tatars en masse to Kazakhstan.
Nonetheless, Crimea was part of Russia through the nineteenth century. Because of its position on the Black Sea, it provided an ideal location for harboring Russia’s Navy. When the Soviet Union was formed in 1922 it was within what became the Russian republic of the USSR. Then in 1954 it was transferred into the Ukrainian republic, which may have been thought to make sense geographically. The population remained, and would remain, predominantly Russian, however.
When the USSR broke up, Crimea’s status became a hot button issue. The population feared losing its connection to Russia. If they were now foreigners as far as the new Russian Federation was concerned, what would happen to their pensions? Would their children be able to attend Russian universities? At that period the Ukrainian government welcomed back the Tatars. Grateful to the Ukraine, the returning Tatars provided a reason for Crimea to continue to be affiliated with Ukraine.
The parliament of Crimea declared Crimea to be independent, but then a status of autonomy was created for Crimea within Ukraine.
The Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe became concerned that the fears of the Russians of Crimea over what they regarded as the anomalous presence of Crimea within an independent Ukraine might lead to hostilities between Ukraine and the Russian Federation. The High Commissioner of the OSCE for national minorities undertook consultations by way of preventive diplomacy. Focusing on the possibility of a special status for Crimea within Ukraine, the CSCE appointed a three-person group – two lawyers and one economist – to facilitate dialogue between the authorities of Ukraine on the one side and Crimea on the other. I was one of the lawyers.
In my exchanges with officials of the Crimean parliament, I was constantly pressed to know why self-determination did not apply to Crimea. The sentiment of the population was rather clearly against a continued affiliation of any kind with Ukraine. Yet at the time, the Russian Federation did not seem prepared to engender the hostility with Ukraine that would ensue if the Russian Federation were to encourage Crimea to separate from Ukraine and become a part of the Russian Federation.
The recent changes in Kiev seem to be bringing into greater prominence a Rightist element organized around the Svoboda party. This element is not well disposed to Russians, instead insisting on strong Ukrainian nationalism. It was doubtless this element that prompted the Ukrainian parliament to nullify a 2012 Ukraine law that had given minority languages official status in regions of Ukraine where they are spoken. Under the 2012 law, Russian had been designated an official language in sectors of eastern Ukraine, and in Crimea. The nullification of the 2012 law came just after the parliament voted Victor Yanukovych out of office as president and seemed that it might poise Ukraine on a trajectory that would result in discrimination against the Russians of Ukraine. That move frightened the Russian speakers in Crimea. It was also a challenge to President Vladimir Putin, to whom the Crimeans look for protection.
The language issue, moreover, had implications for Russia-Ukraine legal relations. Russia and Ukraine have a Treaty on Friendship, Cooperation, and Partnership, dating from 31 May 1997. In Article 12, “The High Contracting Parties guarantee the ethnic, cultural, linguistic, and religious identity of national minorities on their territories and shall create the conditions for the encouragement of this identity.” That clause was inserted at Russia’s insistence, precisely to protect Ukraine’s Russian speakers. The 2012 law was later restored when Ukraine’s new president vetoed the parliament’s action, but the veto came too late to allay the fears of Russian speakers as to the direction of Ukraine’s new government.
The existence of this treaty clause makes Ukraine’s treatment of its Russia minority an issue that implicates the treaty rights of the Russian Federation.
The Russians of Crimea see themselves as being in a posture not unlike that of the Albanians of Kosovo, as that group perceived itself, in 1999. That situation led to military intervention that secured separation. While differences may to be sure be found between the two situations, the Russians of Crimea do, in the main, fear for their future within Ukraine.
The Crimea parliament voted on March 6 to separate from Ukraine and to join Russia. It in fact indicated that the separation is effectively immediately. Nonetheless, it has scheduled a referendum vote for the population of Crimea for March 16. The ballot will ask voters to choose whether to join Russia, or to remain in the autonomy status in Ukraine under the Ukraine constitution. The vote may well go strongly in favor of affiliation with Russia. The Government of the Russian Federation has not indicated whether it would accept Crimea, but in the Russian Duma, parliamentarians are indicating they will address the issue.
The majlis – the legislative body representing the Tatars of Crimea – has indicated it does not recognize the recent actions of the Crimea parliament as legitimate. The Tatars may boycott the referendum. They oppose affiliation with Russia. If Crimea does affiliate with Russia, the Government of Russia will need to move proactively to assure the Tatars that their status will be protected.
Affiliation with Russia, if it comes about, is likely to be regarded by the Western powers as a product of Russian aggression. They might deem the affiliation invalid, an outcome that could result in uncertainty as to Crimea’s status and potential difficulties for its inhabitants.
Self-determination is a concept whose implementation in the international community has been inconsistent. Given the history of the territory, the population of Crimea has a plausible claim to self-determination. If Crimea remains within Ukraine, it may be an irritant between Russia and Ukraine for a long time to come. It could well be to the interest of Ukraine that Crimea affiliate with Russia. The Government of Ukraine does not see the matter that way, to be sure. It regards the action of the Crimea parliament and the scheduled referendum as unlawful under the Ukraine constitution. It will also point out that Russia has agreed to respect the territorial integrity of Ukraine.
Whatever the outcome, it is important that the Western powers, Ukraine, and Russia all refrain from regarding the Crimea question through the lens of geopolitics at the world level. The issue should not be whether President Putin or President Obama emerges a winner. The focus should be on the welfare of the population of Crimea.