Friday, January 9, 2015

Drone flies over pig farm

Drone flies over pig farm

Drone flies over pig farm

Filmmaker Mark Devries has been secretly videotaping pig "farms" for the past few years, using a drone. The results are horrifying.

You're looking at a lake of toxic feces and urine the size of four football fields. That's because thousands upon thousands of pigs are inside these buildings. Their waste falls through slats in a concrete floor ad sloshed directly into this giant open air cess pool.
Pretty terrifying. But terrifying can get worse—somehow. The video goes into how these farms get rid of this waste. They get rid of it by "spraying." Pumping it into a fine mist, into the sky. This can travel into neighboring areas. It's horrendous. But don't worry, those areas are poor and frequently inhabited by people of color so there's nothing to see here.

"Let's live on the planet as if we intend to stay."

Undernews: The problem with today's streetcars

Undernews: The problem with today's streetcars

The problem with today's streetcars

This is the first article taking on the real streetcar problem that we've seen in the major media. Forty years ago we were enthusiastic about streetcars (which had once thrived in our DC and then were destroyed) as a more pragmatic, less costly, and more citizen friendly form of mass transit. But as time went on, we became much more favorable to designated bus lanes as cheaper and more practical than either a subway or streetcars. One of the things that moved us in this direction was the enormous increase in the cost of streetcars. As Washington's Metro showed the cost and transit disadvantages of new subway systems, attention turned to light rail. And as attention turned its way, its costs soared. For example, a 2.2 mile light rail system planned for St. Louis was to cost a quarter as much a similar length DC subway expansion did a few years back.So the light rail advantage has dropped from ten to one to four to one. 

Kevin Robillard, Politico - The Obama administration has sent more than a half-billion dollars to cities and counties in hopes of reviving the venerable American streetcar. But the renaissance is threatening to run off the tracks — imperiled by cost overruns, lower-than-expected ridership in some places and pockets of local resistance.

From D.C. to Atlanta, from San Antonio to Salt Lake City, streetcar projects have run into delays, cutbacks and other snags, and some have been scrapped altogether. The most dramatic recent example was November's demise of a $550 million, state-aided streetcar project in the liberal, traditionally pro-transit D.C. suburb of Arlington County, Va., which had turned politically toxic as its price tag more than doubled...

Supporters view streetcars as not just a method of transportation but as a means to fostering urban redevelopment and "livable," pedestrian-friendly communities, and local officials in cities like Tucson, Ariz., and Dallas credit the projects with revitalizing urban life.

Besides costs, critics point to other shortcomings in the projects. For example, they question whether streetcar lines that lack dedicated lanes — like the one on the way for Washington, D.C.'s H Street Northeast — are any better than buses that also must jockey with stop-and-go traffic.

[In DC, there have already been nine accidents involving the newly launched streetcar line - TPR]

In D.C., the H Street line is three years late in opening, marred by missteps like a test run in which the streetcar had to stand still for 15 minutes while an ambulance blocked its path. This fall, the District cut the size of its planned streetcar network from 20 miles to eight miles.

In Atlanta, a streetcar had two crashes in five days during its testing period, though passenger service was finally scheduled to start serving passengers Tuesday. Even in Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx's hometown of Charlotte, N.C., the mayor pro tem has openly predicted he expects the streetcar to "struggle." ...

An audit of the Portland streetcar system in December found the city had overestimated ridership by 19 percent and falsely claimed a perfect on-time record. In reality, the streetcar was on time only 82 percent of the time.

Sam Smith, DC Gazette 1975 -  Subways are the most expensive form of local mass transit.  For example, it costs over fifteen times as much per mile to  build a subway as it does to construct streetcar lines. .. Further, Robert Keith  of Alan Voorhees & Associates, who was one of the original  subway planners, says now that Metro's "rail costs would be  the highest [for a transit system] in the US on a cost-per-car-mile basis."   Besides serving as a luxury system for the downtown white  collar worker at the expense of mass transit for others, the  subway has other bad social effects. Since it requires high  density, it inevitably becomes a tail wagging the dog. Once committed to building a subway in a less than dense area like  Washington, people must be crowded around subway stops in a  'frantic effort to make the subway system pay for itself.' The  current mania for overdeveloping subway stops would have been  unnecessary had there been justification for the subway in the  first place. Instead, the neighborhoods Metro was supposed to  serve are being destroyed in order to serve Metro. 

Rather than competing with the auto, the subway is virtually unique among mass transit systems in that it offers no physical opposition to the car. Buses, jitneys and streetcars all  deprive the auto of street space and thereby help to encourage  transit ridership  What- the subway does compete with, and effectively, is other forms of mass transit. The .subway is designed to serve the same routes as the most profitable bus  lines. It drains off bus patronage thereby creating additional  bus deficits on top of its own losses.

Sam Smith, Progressive Review, 1993 - The city of Curitiba, Brazil, is using exclusive bus lanes  to speed mass transit. This idea, which we  unsuccessfully proposed for DC back in the 70s, allows  Curitiba's buses to travel at an average speed of 20 mph,  carrying 3.2 times as many passengers per hour as standard  buses. The system took six months to install. Says Mayor Jaime Lerner, "That means you don't have to waste a  generation building a subway." Curitiba's bus system  carries 1.3 million passengers annually, reports the  Brazilian Monthly, four times the number as Rio's subway.  The system uses boarding tubes and advance payment  of fares and has resulted in 28% of the city's car drivers  switching to mass transit.

Sam Smith, Great American Political Repair Manual, 1997 - Exclusive bus lanes can be easily and cheaply created on major arteries, especially if they run counter to the flow of automobile traffic. Buses can be made more efficient by giving them priority (through use of school bus-type flashing stop lights) when pulling in and out of bus stops.  Buses can have exterior bike racks to encourage mixed-mode use as they do in Portland, Seattle, and a number of California cities. Buses can be equipped with zappers to control signal lights. Through such efforts, urban bus transportation might become as least as good as the shuttle service at the average airport or theme park.

"Let's live on the planet as if we intend to stay."

Rally Against Planet Destroying Coal 1/15 at OR Trans. Comm. meeting

Dear Friends,
A coal export victory you helped secure for the Columbia River Gorge is at risk. Big Coal and their allies have pressured the Oregon Transportation Commission to re-vote on a grant to use public money to build a coal export dock on the Columbia River, despite the permit for the facility being denied.
Tell the Commission to stand strong against Big Coal and uphold their decision!

Last summer, the Oregon Transportation Commission voted 3-2 to deny funding for the Port of St. Helens’ application to re-build the Berth 2 dock at Port Westward so Ambre Energy can transfer coal to massive ocean-going vessles from barges sent down through the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area. The Commission was right to deny public money for coal export, yet Big Coal, the Port of St. Helens, and their allies are pressuring the Commission to reverse its decision.

Ambre’s coal export proposal is at a dead-end. The company was handed a permit denial by the Department of State Lands in 2014, and the Army Corps of Engineers put their review process on hold indefinitely. Without Ambre Energy the dock improvements at Port Westward are unnecessary. Scarce public funding for transportation should go to other cleaner, shovel-ready projects seeking funds.

We need to show our support by attending the next Oregon Transportation Commission meeting:

What: Oregon Transportation Commission’s public hearing to re-vote on transportation funding for coal export dock at Port Westward.

When: Thursday, January 15, 2015.  Sign-ins to testify are tentatively scheduled to begin at 12:00 noon, with the hearing tentatively scheduled to begin at 12:45. (Note: the final agenda will be posted on Friday at

Where: Salem Red Lion Hotel.  3301 Market St. NE.  Salem, Oregon.
Remember to wear RED! 
Carpool from Portland: meet up at the Columbia Riverkeeper office at 10 AM.  1125 SE Madison Street 97214.

Email to let me know you're planning on coming to the carpool!

Getting Big Coal out of Oregon for good isn't easy. They have deep pockets and aggressively pressure people and agencies that stand up against them. The Oregon Transportation Commission needs to hear that they did the right thing by denying funding for Ambre's coal dock in August, and that we stand with them.

Tell the Oregon Transportation Commission to fund shovel-ready transportation projects, not dead-end coal export proposals. Tell the Commission to stand firm and not be pressured into approving the Berth 2 project at Port Westward.

Send your comments to the Transportation Commission by clicking on the "Take Action" button below - sample comments are provided that you may edit.

Thank you,

Ryan Rittenhouse
Conservation Organizer
(971) 634-2034