Why hasn't the U.S. hit oil supplies?
Recent national TV news video purportedly showed an aerial view of Russian bombers blowing an Islamic State-controlled oil refinery off the map and, in the process, cutting into that barbaric group's terrorist funding apparatus.
I don't recall seeing any similar video from the months and months of U.S. bombing of "suspected" Islamic State targets in Syria or Iraq.
Could it be that sources of oil for American petrol corporations are off-limits to bombing, just as criminal behavior by Wall Street banks is off limits to prosecution?
How is it that in the short time it's had a military presence in Syria, Russia found a conspicuous target such as an oil refinery that U.S. forces somehow missed? Is it because Russia lacks the benefit of hoards of energy lobbyists spreading cash all over its Federal Assembly?
That's crazy conspiracy-theory talk on my part, of course. Under no circumstance would a U.S. energy corporation lobby to put profit ahead of our national interests, any more than a too-big-to-jail corporate megabank would manipulate the financial system to the detriment of homeowners and working families.
After all, corporations are people. They have consciences. We know that because of the learned action of the five right-wing U.S. Supreme Court justices who visited their Citizens United decision upon us all.
Don't overlook commercial density
It's time for Eugene to embark on an intelligent, fair and comprehensive approach to urban planning. The current "big picture" strategy presumes containing sprawl through housing densification and car-travel reduction.
What's missing is the bigger picture - one that doesn't put all the burden of increasing density on residences, but rather shares the load with the commercial sector, because it, too, has contributed mightily to sprawl by insisting on single-story buildings.
Why does the city allow buildings that serve mainly to consume land and increase road use? Land-use advocates and their allies are apparently too myopic to see that.
Commercial planning has become progressively less dense. The original Oakway Center structure, currently dominated by Burch's Shoes, is a land-saving, two-story edifice with stores at ground level and offices on the second level. But most of the recent additions at Oakway are space-gobbling, single-story structures. Ditto on the other side of Coburg Road.
Coburg Road north to Chad Drive is still mostly undeveloped territory. If present Eugene planning holds, one can expect that area to become a one-mile stretch of single-story businesses with ample parking and generous landscaping.
Why not compact the commercial structures into a group of three or four units, each four to five stories high, with the whole occupying one-third of the Chad Drive area? The rest could be used for five-story housing.
The land there is empty, so tall buildings wouldn't be competing against existing one-story residences, as would be the case in the south Willamette Street area.
Richard A. Sundt
Plan would combat climate change
Every Eugene resident should be worried about what's happened recently with the planning effort in the south Willamette Street area.
The Envision Eugene process laid out a path to address the threat of climate change while working to ensure our city remains a desirable place to live as our population grows.
A key feature of those plans was to concentrate growth along public transit corridors, thus reducing automobile use. The south Willamette plan was the first attempt to apply the general planning principles of Envision Eugene to a specific corridor. It definitely has some flaws - not surprising for a first effort - but was a reasonable attempt at meeting the broader, lofty goals the city set for itself.
What needs to worry us isn't the flawed south Willamette plan but the action taken by the City Council in response to neighborhood concerns about it. The council action calls into question our community's willingness to make hard choices and act to combat climate change and maintain our livability.
Since its initial knee-jerk collapse, the council has at least agreed to reconsider its hasty scuttling of much of Envision Eugene's principles.
Every concerned resident needs to engage in the debate. The future of our city and planet depend on it. Getting results will take effort and sacrifice, but if we don't do it now, we're likely dooming our city and our children to a bleak future.
Universal care would be better
It's the season to renew Medicare Part C (Medicare Advantage) and part D (drug coverage) health care insurance plans. It should be a simple, straightforward process. It isn't.
What was covered this year on policies may not be covered next year - for example, prescription drugs. And what wasn't covered this year may be covered next year. The prices will change, too.
What that means is, instead of simply renewing, it's necessary every year for seniors to compare Medicare coverage among the many insurance options available.
Why such confusion? Because when Medicare was first proposed, those objecting were so vocal that a compromise was made: Some expenses would be covered by Medicare and the rest by private insurance.
It shouldn't be that way, and it doesn't have to be that way.
A far better approach is the one proposed by the Health Care for All Oregon coalition (HCAO.com). It would cover everyone for all medical expenses without co-pays, with vision and hearing coverage included.
It would also cover everyone in the state from birth to death, not just seniors, and would cost less than what's now being spent on health insurance. It would be more effective and more efficient in maintaining the best health possible for everyone.
We've tried the insurance route but we can do better for our seniors, and for the rest of us. Much better.
How to revitalize Kesey Square
Developing Kesey Square would do little but drive people who are homeless to surrounding blocks and deprive the central city of a public space.
People who don't go downtown don't realize the number of activities that take place there, and that it's used for cultural gatherings, film showings, busking and selling crafts, socializing by youth, political gatherings and other activities one would expect to find happening in a town square.
Where's the imagination that could transform the square into an even more inviting place for people to be?
Concrete chess board tables and benches for chess playing. A water fountain with a lower level for dogs. Scheduled daily performances by local musicians, poets and other performing artists in our town.
Appearances by local elected officials to meet with residents about their issues. Yoga, tai chi and dance lessons. Weekend lunch visits by Food Not Bombs or Burrito Brigade.
Display of dogs at shelters and rescues in need of adoption. Practice by school and college bands. Public lectures on timely topics by people in academia and people active in the community.
Panels presented by people who are marginalized and subject to discrimination in the community. Ethnic groups' celebration of important traditions and holidays. And evening film showings on issues about which many people are concerned. Let's bring Kesey Square alive, not make it disappear under tons of concrete and steel. Build a permanent cover that can protect people from sun and rain so those and other activities can be held year-round.