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EW! A Blog.

June 16, 2012 11:28 AM

 Rolling Stone praises Oregon Sen. Jeff Merkley in a blog post by writer Matt Taibbi. Taibbi writes about  J.P. Morgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon’s Senate testimony before the Senate banking committee and says he had an "inkling" it would be hard to watch but …

But I wasn’t prepared for just how bad it was. If not for Oregon’s Jeff Merkley, who was the only senator who understood the importance of taking the right tone with Dimon, the hearing would have been a total fiasco. Most of the rest of the senators not only supplicated before the blowdried banker like love-struck schoolgirls or hotel bellhops, they also almost all revealed themselves to be total ignoramuses with no grasp of the material they were supposed to be investigating.

Taibbi writes a scathing indictment of the meeting and the sentators "slavish" questioning of Dimon on derivative trading.

This was an opportunity to show Americans how a too-big-to-fail commercial bank like Chase – supported by vast amounts of public treasure, from Fed loans to bailouts to less obvious subsidies like GSE purchases of mortgages and implicit guarantees of bank debt – uses the crutch of government support to gamble recklessly in search of huge profits, with the public on the hook for any potential downside.

But he writes, instead, "Instead, they mostly cowered and cringed and sat mute with thumbs in their mouths, while Dimon evaded, patted himself on the back, and blew the whole derivative losses episode off as an irrelevant accident caused by moron subordinates."

 Jon Tester of Montana gets some credit for standing up for the farmers he represents, but mostly Taibbi's praise is reserved for Merkley who at one point when interrupted in his questioning by Dimon says, "Sir, this is not your hearing. You’re here to answer questions. And I only have five minutes."

For the full commentary, go to the Taibblog.

June 13, 2012 01:19 PM

From the San Francisco Bay Guardian editorial page:

Could lowering the speed limit help us reach our biking goal by 2020?

It's going to be hard to reach San Francisco's official bike transportation goal, which calls for 20 percent of all vehicle trips to be taken by bicycle by 2020. Everyone in town knows that; everyone at City Hall and in the biking community agrees that some profound and radical steps would need to be taken to increase bike trips by more than 500 percent in just eight years.

It starts with safety — you're not getting anywhere near that number of people on light, two-wheeled vehicles unless, as international bicycling advocate Gil Peñalosa recently told San Franciscans, people between the ages of eight and 80 feel safe riding on the city streets.

At the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition's 20th Annual Golden Wheel Awards, Peñalosa — executive director of 8-80 Cities, a nonprofit that promotes creation of cycling infrastructure that is safe and inviting — laid out a prescription for designing cities around pedestrians and bicyclists (he sees riding a bike as " just a more efficient way of walking.") Peñalosa laid out an agenda for achieving that goal — one that includes a step San Francisco can start taking immediately: Cut vehicle speeds on all city streets to no more than 20 miles an hour.

Even if that were only done in residential areas, it would have a huge impact, and not just on bicyclists. Peñalosa cited statistics showing that only about 5 percent of pedestrians hit by cars driving 20 mph will die — but the fatality rate shoots up to 80 percent when the vehicles are traveling 40 mph.

If there are some streets where it's impractical to have such a low speed limit, it's imperative to have bike lanes that are separated from cars by physical barriers.

San Francisco's Municipal Transportation Agency director, Ed Reiskin, told us after Penalosa's speech that the notion of reducing speed limits made sense: "The logic is unquestioned that slowing speeds reduces the risk of fatality."

But the city, it turns out, doesn't have the power to unilaterally lower speed limits: State law requires speed limits to be set based on formulas determined by median vehicle speeds. That seems awfully old-fashioned and out of touch with modern urban transportation policy, which increasingly emphasizes bikes, pedestrians, and transit, and city officials ought to be asking the state Legislature to review those rules and give more latitude to cities that want to control traffic speed.

In the meantime, Reskin argues that a lot can be done by redesigning streets, using bulb-outs and barriers to discourage speeding. That's fine, and part of the city's future bike-lane policy should start with traffic-calming measures (Berkeley, to the chagrin of many nonlocal drivers, has done a great job making residential streets into bike-friendly places where cars can't travel very fast).

Peñalosa had some other great ideas; he noted that cities such as Guadalajara, Mexico require developers to give free bikes away with each home, a program that has put 102,000 more bikes on the streets. That's a cheap and easy concept — except that so much of the new housing in the city is so expensive, and comes with so much parking, that it's hard to believe the millionaires who are moving into these units will be motivated by a free bicycle.

But the notion of working with Sacramento to slow down car traffic makes tremendous sense — and that ought to be one of the transportation priorities of Mayor Ed Lee's administration.

June 11, 2012 12:58 PM

No coal demonstration is being planned in Portland Aug. 18. Contact richard@goodgrowthnw.org for updates and to get on the mailing list.

June 11, 2012 09:39 PM

Did you ever grow anything in the garden of your mind?

June 11, 2012 10:57 PM

First there were face-eating zombies. Now the plague.

Highlights from the press release below include "People should contact their health care provider if plague is suspected" and "Avoid sick or dead rodents, rabbits and squirrels, and their nests and burrows." No problem.

Probable Case of Human Plague in Crook County Resident


Crook County is reporting a probable case of human plague. The individual is being hospitalized. Contacts of this individual have been notified and are receiving preventive antibiotics. Plague cases are rare in Oregon. It is spread to humans or animals through a bite from an infected flea or by contact with an animal sick with the disease.

People can protect themselves, their family members and their pets by using flea treatments on your pets to prevent them from bringing fleas into your home.  Plague is serious but it is treatable with antibiotics if caught early. A domestic cat in Crook County tested positive for bubonic plague a year ago.

Only three human cases have been diagnosed in Oregon since 1995. According to Karen Yeargain, L.P.N., Communicable Disease Coordinator at the Crook County Health Department, the 1995 case was in a Deschutes County resident who was exposed to plague-infected fleas from household cats that hunted rodents in the fields. Two of three cats in that household also tested positive for plague exposure. In 2010, two human cases of plague were diagnosed in Lake County. Further investigation revealed that the family dog had also been exposed to plague. In 2011, an additional case with exposures in Lake County was diagnosed. There were no fatalities in humans or household animals in these cases. 

Symptoms of plague typically develop within one to four days after exposure and include fever, chills, headache, weakness and a bloody or watery cough due to infection. Three clinical syndromes have been described; bubonic (lymph node infection), septicemic (blood infection), and pneumonic (lung infection).   Bubonic plague is the most common form and is characterized by high temperatures, lethargy and swollen lymph nodes, most commonly in the neck and under the jaw. Infected lymph nodes may spontaneously abscess and drain. 

People should contact their health care provider if plague is suspected and a veterinarian if pets or other animals exhibit symptoms consistent with the plague.  Early treatment for pets and people with appropriate antibiotics is essential to curing plague infections. Untreated plague can be fatal for animals and people. Antibiotics to prevent or treat plague should be used only under the direction of a health care provider.

Plague can be passed from fleas feeding on infected wild mammals to pets such as cats and to their human owners. "To protect your pets, avoid allowing them access to areas with fleas or to other pets carrying fleas, and treat your pets for fleas to help prevent this disease," Yeargain said. "Call your local veterinarians for assistance in which products are safe for use in pets, because some treatments may be toxic to your pet."

Some additional steps to prevent flea bites are to wear insect repellant, tuck pant cuffs into socks when in areas heavily occupied by rodents, and avoid contact with wildlife including rodents. Pet owners are encouraged to keep cats indoors. Also, do not handle ill-appearing stray or wild animals.

Health authorities offer the following recommendations to prevent plague:

  • Avoid sick or dead rodents, rabbits and squirrels, and their nests and burrows.
  • Keep your pets from roaming and hunting.
  • Talk to your veterinarian about using an appropriate flea control product on your pets.
  • Clean up areas near the house where rodents could live, such as woodpiles, brush piles, junk and abandoned vehicles.
  • Sick pets should be examined promptly by a veterinarian.
  • See your doctor about any unexplained illness involving a sudden and severe fever.
  • Put hay, wood, and compost piles as far as possible from your home.
  • Don’t leave your pet’s food and water where mice can get to it.
  • Veterinarians and their staff are at higher risk and should take precautions when seeing suspect animal plague cases.

Source: Crook County, State Public Health Veterinarian

June 6, 2012 12:52 PM

June 6, 2012 11:31 AM

Dr. Richard Jackson will be speaking at the Eugene Public Library June 19. A reception will be at 5 pm and his lecture will be at 5:45.

June 6, 2012 09:33 AM

The Emerald City Roller Girls are hosting their final bout of the 2012 season at 6 pm Saturday, June 9, at the Lane Events Center. This year’s season championship is a rematch from last year pitting the three-time defending champion Andromedolls (3-1) against the Church of Sk8in (2-2). This bout to determine the winner of the Big Emerald trophy is preceded by a match between the Snake Pit Derby Dames of Coeur d’Alene, Idaho and Emerald City’s third-place finisher Flat Track Furies. Proceeds from the bout will go to help maintain the Cascade Raptor Center.

 

The June 9 event will be the third time the Andromedolls and Church of Sk8in have met this year in an always exciting rivalry. In the first bout in March, the Andromedolls won in the final seconds 103-99 before a sell-out crowd at the Lane Events Center. The ‘Dolls were also victorious 85-66 in a bout closed to the public earlier this month.

 

In the opening bout, the Snake Pit Derby Dames, who have never played an Emerald City team, are skating against the home-town Flat Track Furies. The Furies ended the ‘Dolls’ three-year winning streak earlier this season. Snake Pit is blossoming in its third year of skating.

 

The first 200 fans through the door Saturday night get free Emerald City Roller Girls seat cushions. Doors open at 5 pm. Action starts at 6. Tickets are $12 in advance, $15 at the door, and free for children 5 and under. VIP seating is available for $17.

 

Tickets are at Emerald City Skates, The Redoux Parlour and Ninkasi Tasting Room or on-line at Brown Paper Tickets. Ninkasi beer will be on tap. Fans can stick around after the bout to meet their favorite derby girl.

 

For more info visit emeraldcityrollergirls.com

(Thanks to James Brains for providing this information.)

May 31, 2012 05:13 PM

May 30, 2012 04:15 PM

Oh hello, Coos County Courthouse, what a delicious aroma you have. The World, a paper out of Coos Bay, reports that "An overabundance of confiscated marijuana, combined with poor ventilation, has left the county courthouse smelling a little wacky this spring." The Beaver Hill incinerator isn't burning anymore, so lockers are actually overflowing with weed. And Coos Bay just is a short 2-hour drive from Eugene...

Read more at The World.

May 30, 2012 05:12 PM

If you haven't already heard about the face-eating zombie in Miami, then you're lucky. The details are gross. So I will balance out posting about that fascinating little tidbit with a little news item about UNICORNS. 

Over the weekend the Miami Herald reported that right outside its building a naked man was found eating another naked man's face. True story. They even got parts of it on security camera. 

That's right, the Miami Herald, not the Weekly World News, though rumors abound that this is the first sign of the zombie apocalypse.

I'm going to tell you right now, if you're squeamish, skip right down to the unicorns.

There's been a lot of speculation about just what caused Rudy Eugene to eat Ronald Poppo's face for 18 minutes — cocaine, LSD and bath salts are all options (the cops had a theory about these things "baking" you on the inside thus leading Eugene to get naked). Bath salts apparently don't make you smell good and relax in the tub (no, they make you eat people's faces off) rather they are some weird form of meth, or so says the National Institures of Health, which also warns:

… these products have been reported to trigger intense cravings not unlike those experienced by methamphetamine users … 

Right, intense cravings to eat someone's face. I'm going to skip ever trying bath salts as a pick-me-up and stick with caffeine.

Gory details: The Miami Herald reports (and again, I warned you):

"He had his face eaten down to his goatee. The forehead was just bone. No nose, no mouth," said Sgt. Armando Aguilar, president of the Miami Fraternal Order of Police. "In my opinion, he just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time."

Sgt. Javier Ortiz, vice president of the Miami Fraternal Order of Police, said it was one of the bloodiest "and goriest scenes I've ever been to."

"It was not only grotesque, it was just very sad, the amount of blood. It was very sad to see what happened to this gentleman that had his face eaten," Ortiz said.

And of course one unlucky dude happened to be cycling by:

Larry Vega was riding his bicycle off the causeway, which connects downtown Miami with Miami Beach, when he saw the attack.

"The guy was, like, tearing him to pieces with his mouth, so I told him, 'Get off!'" Vega told Miami television station WSVN (http://bit.ly/L6kwWt). "The guy just kept eating the other guy away, like, ripping his skin."

Vega flagged down the Miami police officer, who can be seen exiting his car on the Herald video. Vega said the officer repeatedly ordered the attacker to get off. Eugene just picked his head up and growled at the officer before continuing to maul his victim, Vega said.

The officer shot Eugene, but he just kept chewing, Vega said. The officer fired again, killing Eugene.

Now for UNICORNS.

Ok, well, I lied. It's really politics. CNN is reporting that a group satirizing "birthers" (those folks who still insist Obama is a damn foreigner) has asked Arizona to prove Mitt Romney is not a unicorn. 

Without such proof, the group Left Action argues with tongue in cheek, Romney may indeed be a unicorn -- his dark mane hiding a horn -- and therefore ineligible to be on the presidential ballot in November.

The group called Left Action says it has 19,000 emails already.