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Sightline Weekly Jan 12th - 16th

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Salmon Ground is Holy Ground. As bishop of the Eastern Washington-Idaho Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church, my territory is home to the Columbia River, one of the great rivers of our continent.

Salmon Ground is Holy Ground

Whenever I have time and the Spirit allows, I travel throughout this region learning about its history and cultures, and studying its blessings and gifts. Why death won’t keep me from biking in the city. The Saturday after Christmas was balmy in Baltimore, drawing the bicyclists out into the north part of the city, where grand old trees stretch over broad, Olmsted-designed boulevards.

Why death won’t keep me from biking in the city

Among them was Tom Palermo, a 41-year-old software engineer and former bicycle mechanic who built custom bike frames when he wasn’t chasing his two young kids around. The ride was Palermo’s last. Cyclists and neighborhood residents found him, hit by a car and dying, on the pavement on Roland Ave., a lightly traveled street lined with well-marked bike lanes. Plan to save monarch butterflies backfires. It started with the best of intentions.

Plan to save monarch butterflies backfires

When evidence emerged that monarch butterflies were losing the milkweed they depend on due to the spread of herbicide-resistant crops in the United States, people across the country took action, planting milkweed in their own gardens. But a new paper shows that well-meaning gardeners might actually be endangering the butterflies’ iconic migration to Mexico. National Study Confirms: "Washington State Has, by Far, the US’s Most Regressive State Tax System." Five years ago, The Stranger ran this chart showing that Washington State had the most regressive tax system in the nation.

National Study Confirms: "Washington State Has, by Far, the US’s Most Regressive State Tax System."

Guess what? We're still the most regressive when it comes to taxes. A new national study from the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy confirms that Washington State's "morally bankrupt" tax system remains the worst in the nation when it comes to unfairly taxing the poor. Why Portland's roads are so bad: City Council ignores spending targets, funds other priorities. Portland leaders blame the poor condition of city roads on many things: stagnant gas taxes, powerful business opponents and the cost of police, firefighters and parks.

Why Portland's roads are so bad: City Council ignores spending targets, funds other priorities

They could also blame themselves. The City Council has ignored its own spending guidelines for the past 27 years, redirecting nearly $200 million targeted for transportation projects to unrelated efforts, according to an analysis of city financial documents by The Oregonian/OregonLive. Instead of tending to Portland's crumbling roads, the City Council approved nearly dollar-for-dollar spending on arts programs, downtown beautification and school bailouts, among other so-called "special appropriations," the review found.

As a result, Portland streets have plummeted into disrepair, with more than half now rated in poor or very poor condition. "I'm not trying to second-guess everybody for the past 20 years. Scientists: Human activity has pushed Earth beyond four of nine ‘planetary boundaries’ Clmate change: A severe drought plagued a third of Queensland, Australia in 2013.

Scientists: Human activity has pushed Earth beyond four of nine ‘planetary boundaries’

Destabilizing the global environment could make Earth less hospitable for humans. Event: Innovative Solutions to Money in Politics. How Oregonians can reclaim democracy.

Event: Innovative Solutions to Money in Politics

Next Thursday, join our executive director Alan Durning to discuss how unfettered money has changed the political landscape and what Oregonians can do to make sure their voices are heard. Deb Field, executive board member of Main Street Alliance, will be joining Alan. Weekend Reading 1/16/15. Understanding the North American Tar Sands. What it takes to "Fight Goliath": a radio documentary.

Understanding the North American Tar Sands

“You put a big black blob in the middle of Canada, and you reach out a tentacle to every part of the Coast, there is a giant octopus that is essentially wrapping its tentacles around North America.” Last year, Portland’s KBOO Community Radio profiled what is “the largest industrial project on Earth”: the North American tar sands. Typically, one hears of the “Canadian tar sands,” as if the issue is one that lives only north of the US national border and need not concern American citizens. Fifty Years of Oil Spills in Washington’s Waters. Washington’s coastlines and waterways are at a threshold.

Fifty Years of Oil Spills in Washington’s Waters

Battered by a legion of insults—polluted runoff, shoreline development, carbon-induced acidification, and more—there is no guarantee that the Northwest can continue to support the vibrant natural systems it is known for. The region’s native orcas are struggling; key populations of shellfish and herring may be dying out; and even its flagship species, the salmon, are endangered in many places. And what is perhaps the biggest threat of all looms like a specter: a catastrophic oil spill.

The risk of oil spill is with the region every day. Though Washington officials have been more diligent in their preparations than their counterparts elsewhere, there is good reason to believe we are not prepared. Which Washington Legislators Take the Most Coal, Oil, and Gas Money? The 2015 Washington legislative session promises to be one of the more contentious in recent memory.

Which Washington Legislators Take the Most Coal, Oil, and Gas Money?

Governor Inslee is advancing bills to reduce carbon emissions and better regulate oil transport, while the Republican-dominated Senate vows to obstruct his agenda. Both issues will pit fossil fuel companies—and especially Big Oil—against the governor.