If China Can Fund Infrastructure With Credit, So Can We


By Ellen Brown for the Web of Debt Blog. United States – May 15-19 has been designated “National Infrastructure Week” by the US Chambers of Commerce, the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE), and over 150 affiliates. Their message: “It’s time to rebuild.” Ever since ASCE began issuing its “National Infrastructure Report Card” in 1998, the nation has gotten a dismal grade of D or D+. In the meantime, the estimated cost of fixing its infrastructure has gone up from $1.3 trillion to $4.6 trillion. While American politicians debate endlessly over how to finance the needed fixes and which ones to implement, the Chinese have managed to fund massive infrastructure projects all across their country, including 12,000 miles of high-speed rail built just in the last decade. How have they done it, and why can’t we?

Ten Tips To Make Every Day Earth Day


By Lloyd Alter for Tree Hugger. Readers of a certain age will remember Pogo, the political satire strip that was probably the Doonesbury of the sixties. Walt Kelly did this great poster for the first Earth Day and really, nothing has changed. So many email pitches for green products, infographics and listicles (articles made of lists) come to me at TreeHugger. It is astounding, how many of them there are, and how trivial they can be. One that got me particularly cranked suggested that we could make a big difference in the state of the world by turning our TV brightness settings down and making the video game console go to sleep. A few years back, one of my sustainable design students asked what she could do to go green that did not involve buying replacement windows, electric cars or bamboo socks; Here is an Earth Day roundup of them, an update of an earlier version, listing the things that anyone can do.

VW’s Environmental Settlement Includes 400 EV Fast Charging Stations


By James Ayre for Clean Technica – As part of its court settlements with with the California Air Resources Board (CARB) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Volkswagen will build around 400 electric vehicle fast-charging stations in the US, according to reports. The $2 billion settlement will see the majority of stations — to be comprised of 150 kW and 320 kW DC fast-chargers, around 5 chargers to a station — installed in metro areas with high expected demand for electric vehicles. Note that these are genuinely “fast charging” rates, much faster than current non-Tesla fast chargers. The first US high-power, superfast-charging station with 150 kW of power is currently being constructed for the EVgo charging network (visualizations of that station from EVgo below).

Trump Wants To Privatize Air Traffic Control


By David Shepardson for Reuters. WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Donald Trump is proposing to shift oversight of the U.S. air traffic control from the federal government to an independent group, according to budget documents released on Thursday. Trump, who called the U.S. air traffic control system “obsolete” in a meeting with airline executives last month, is proposing $16.2 billion for the Department of Transportation’s discretionary budget for fiscal year 2018, a reduction of 13 percent. Some Transportation Department budget items are paid through the highway gas tax fund. Privatization advocates argue that spinning off air traffic control into a non-government entity would allow for a more efficient system and rapid, cost-effective improvements of technology, in part by avoiding the government procurement process. Opponents, including some airlines, say the U.S. system is so large that privatization would not save money, and would drive up ticket costs and could create a national security risk.

Barcelona Is Kicking Cars Off Many Of Its Streets.


Ben Adler for Grist – The city’s plan will create “superblocks” that cars, buses, and trucks must go around, with exceptions for local residents and deliveries at off-peak times. Despite the ominous name, these pedestrian paradises won’t be like their infamous American counterparts — the towering mega-projects that destroyed the urban fabric in the name of Urban Renewal. And with all that valuable space now available, Barcelonians are beginning to find better uses for their streets…

Why Is US Unwilling To Pay For Good Public Transit?


By John Rennie Short for The Conversation. Officials in Washington, D.C. said this week they may have to shut down portions of the Metro subway system for months because its piecemeal approach to maintenance is no longer sufficient. The disclosure follows a shutdown of the entire Metro system on March 16 for 24 hours. Three-quarters of a million people use the system each weekday, so the inconvenience and cost were considerable. The reason: frayed electrical cables discovered in at least 26 locations that posed an immediate danger. Closing the Metro was probably the safest thing to do. Just two days previously, an electrical fire in a tunnel forced stoppages to busy commuter service.

Unjust Punishment: Will 13 Climate Activists Face Jail Time?


By Steve Rushton for Occupy.com. London – “Aviation is the fastest growing source of emissions in the UK. It cannot be de-carbonized,” Mel Strickland, a climate activist with the Plane Stupid network, told Occupy.com. “Heathrow is the world’s largest airport and the second biggest U.K. source of carbon emissions. We need to stop the government’s plans to build a third runway to stop climate change.” Strickland and 12 other climate activists, known as the #Heathrow13, cut through the security fence at London’s Heathrow Airport on July 13, 2015, and occupied one of the airport’s runways for six hours. This week, they will find out if they face jail time for their action. At last summer’s protest, the group held a banner that read: “No ifs, no buts, no third runway,” quoting an election pledge made by David Cameron in 2009, before he became Prime Minister.

Protests Against Transportation Hikes Continue Across Brazil

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By Staff of Tele Sur – Recife has joined the larger cities Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro in protesting increases in public transportation fares, while demanding improved services. Protests in Brazil over the cost of public transit spread to the coastal city of Recife Friday as demonstrators took to the streets to say no to fare hikes, local media reported. Hundreds of protesters gathered in the center of Brazil’s fifth largest city to demand free transit passes instead of fare hikes from 3.50 reais (US$0.87) to 3.80 reais (US$0.95), which demonstrators have said is an unjustified increase given the state of public transit services.

Traffic Enforcement Is Not About Safety


By Lorelei Mcfly for Cop Block – In his article, “How Waze Makes Roads Safer than the Police” Jeffrey Tucker explains how the Waze mobile app helps create a safer driving experience for everyone by alerting drivers to pot holes, accidents, and traffic jams, and also fostering a sense of community amongst motorists: Waze has subtly changed my outlook on driving. Other drivers become your benefactors because it is they who are reporting on traffic accidents, cars on the side the road, blocked streets, and the presence of police. They are all doing you favors. If you report, others thank you for doing so. You even see icons of evidence that your friends are driving, too.

Crackdowns Show Transit Workers On Right Track

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By Samantha Winslow for Labor Notes – Even basic rights like free speech can’t be taken for granted, transit workers are finding out, when your speech makes the boss look bad. Around the country, members of the Amalgamated Transit Union have been threatened with discipline and arrest simply for bringing their message to the public at bus stops, in breakrooms, at public meetings, and on social media. As workers resist budget-crunching, ATU International President Larry Hanley said, “the companies are fighting back using the power of the police and the power of discharge.”

Biking Viking, Syria & Think Pink With Alli McCracken

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By Eleanor Goldfield in Occupy – This week, grab your bicycle and give cars a well deserved middle finger in a world-wide initiative to cut emissions, get outside, move your ass and interact with your city and people. Next, let’s talk Syria and why their story could so easily be ours – I’ll give you a hint: climate change. Finally, peace in the middle east might not be a reality but the Iran deal could be – thanks to the tireless work of activists like Alli McCracken, director of Code Pink. And speaking of war and peace, we’ll kick off this week by meeting these unknown, unwilling soldiers.

10 Reasons Why Cities Should Consider Going Car-Free

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By Ice Bike – Our climate is changing, and time is running out to take thoughtful action. If you’re like me, you may feel powerless in defending yourself and those that you love from the negative impacts of climate change. A handful of smaller communities embrace the concept of driving less by banning personal carswithin their city limits – granted, most of these communities are small island towns that thrive on tourism. While most of the world’s major cities aren’t quite ready to embrace emission-cutting tactics like banning personal cars, this article presents 10 reasons why they should. Getting to know our neighbors, and getting more engaged with our communities limits feelings of isolation, and develops more connected and stronger communities.

Protesters Re-Open Road Access To Iraq’s Umm Qasr Port

A member from the Iraqi security forces stands guard at Umm Qasr port near Basra, southeast of Baghdad August 22, 2015. REUTERS/ESSAM AL-SUDANI

By Stephen Kalin in Reuters – Road access to Iraq’s southern Umm Qasr commodities port was restored on Sunday following a two-day closure by protesters after the authorities promised to create new jobs, a port company spokesman and port workers said. Thousands of Iraqis have protested in recent weeks in Baghdad and southern Iraqi cities, calling for jobs, government services and reforms of the judiciary, parliament and local governing bodies. At Umm Qasr, negotiations with security officials and the director of the state-run General Company for Ports of Iraq resulted in a pledge to create up to 75 new jobs, said company spokesman Anmar al-Safi. Dozens of demonstrators, who had set up tents in front of the port’s two main gates, agreed to let trucks pass and employees enter the facility, Safi and workers said.

Why Public Transportation Is So Limited In The United States

(Photo: Steve Baker)

By Daniel Faris in Truth Out – On a recent trip to Baltimore, I encountered something startling: a US city with a public transportation system that actually works. From buses to water taxis, Baltimore’s Charm City Circulator (or CCC) was established in 2010 by former mayor Sheila Dixon. The program boasts a fleet of around 30 vehicles that shuttle more than 3,000 daily riders along four color-coded routes meeting over 100 city stops. The service has a smartphone app, it consists entirely of hybrid vehicles, and the fare is nonexistent. That’s right: the buses are 100 percent free. I thought, Surely there has to be a catch. Then I stepped back and asked myself: Why? All across the world, there are close to100 cities that offer free public transportation, and about one fifth of them are in the US. So what do these cities know that the rest of the country doesn’t? Is the public transportation system in the US really as bad as everyone says? And if so, why?

Poor Neighborhoods To Get Green Car-Share Program


By Eleanor Goldberg in the Huffington Post. Los Angeles, CA – In many areas, poor residents typically have longer commutes and less access to public transportation than middle- and upper-class communities, yet they’re being excluded from the growing car-share trend. But that gap may at least begin to close in Los Angeles. Across the U.S. people earning between $5,000 and $30,000 a year spend about a quarter of their household income on transportation. Though car-sharing programs can help low-income individuals greatly cut down on travel costs and gas emissions, these companies typically don’t cater to poorer neighborhoods since the profit potential isn’t there, Streets Blog USA points out.