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There’s a lot to talk about after Tuesday’s elections: urban planning, Keystone XL, and whether America is in a death spiral.

German magazine Der Spiegel holds up a mirror to the U.S. as it lies on its purported death bed.
Photo Credit: Der Spiegel

Der Spiegel doesn’t mince any Wörter

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.

What Obama can do for cities

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).

Interpreting what the public voted for

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.

Downticket transit wins

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!

What activists are doing to stop the Keystone pipeline

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.

Also Read:

Failing Water Infrastructure Drains Economy, Report Warns

Location Efficiency: The Energy Impact of Where We Build

Obama Introduces "Better Building" Plan

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Comments

1 Keystone XL posted by Bill Swanson on 11/13/2012 at 08:58 am

I'm always amazed at how rarely it's mentioned that most/all of the oil transported by the proposed Keystone XL pipeline is destined to be exported as gasoline.  Gasoline has become a major export product for the US.  Getting more crude oil or tar sand oil will increase our gas exports but do very little to lower the price at our pumps.  This is why the pipe is aiming for the coastal refineries.  http://www.eia.gov/dnav/pet/hist/LeafHandler.ashx?n=pet&s=mgfexus1&f=m As far as energy security or energy independance, how much has that helped Canada?  Their price at the pump is just as volitile as here in the US and they are already energy independent.

2 Yes, the "energy posted by Paula Melton on 11/13/2012 at 09:06 am

Yes, the "energy independence" thing is a bit of a shell game (excuse the pun). This is probably why the military is increasingly focused on net-zero energy, water, and waste: true energy independence and energy security require freedom from fossil fuels. It's not political; it's just reality.


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