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In a four-part analysis titled “Divided States of America,” German magazine Der Spiegel takes the U.S. to task for systemic divisions that have led to political gridlock, third-world infrastructure that is a constant disaster waiting to happen, utter inability to act to slow climate change, and a retrograde 20th-century economy.
Even during Superstorm Sandy, the staff writes, “The only effective walls of sandbags that were built in the city on a larger scale did not appear around power plants, hospitals or tunnel entrances, but around the skyscraper of the prescient investment bank Goldman Sachs.”
Be prepared for searingly painful (and occasionally over-the-top) criticism. We’re interested to hear what you make of this view from Europe.
On a more optimistic note, Emily Badger and Sommer Mathis at The Atlantic Cities lay out “8 Urban Policy Ideas for Obama’s Second Term,” including a national infrastructure bank and reforms to the rail regulations that make our high-speed rail such an embarrassment (incidentally, one of Der Spiegel’s complaints).
Continuing with the cheery outlook, Peter Lehner at the NRDC Switchboard asserts that “voters chose the clean energy future over the dirty past” on Tuesday. He sees a clear mandate from voters in swing states who decisively voted for Obama’s second term. “The broad backing of clean energy…gives our elected officials the freedom to lead on climate change,” he writes.
In what probably represents a clearer mandate, voters in local races also said yes to 70% of pro-transit ballot initiatives, reports Joshua S. Hill at Clean Technica. This is despite strained budgets and a still pretty flat economy, but Hill includes a really cool infographic showing how effective public transit is at creating jobs.
Second in line? Building retrofits!
Not everyone stateside is feeling the hope. Mat McDermott at Treehugger reports that anti-Keystone activists “are wasting no time in pressing Obama” to put a stop the tar sands oil pipeline, which 350.org calls “a crazy idea, a giant straw into the second biggest pool of carbon.” The group is promoting a rally aimed at reminding the President of his promises to fight climate change.
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