05-20-2018  10:52 am      •     
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NEWS BRIEFS

Raina Croff to Speak at Architectural Heritage Center

'When the Landmarks are Gone: Older African Americans, Place, and Change in N/NE Portland’ describes SHARP Walking Program ...

Portland Playhouse Presents August Wilson’s ‘Fences’ Through June 10

May 20 performance will include discussion on mental health; June 10 performance will be followed by discussion of fatherhood ...

Peggy Houston-Shivers Presents Benefit Concert for Allen Temple CME

Concert to take place May 20 at Maranatha Church ...

Family Friendly Talent Show, May 18

Family Fun Night series continues at Matt Dishman Community Center ...

US Marshals, police arrest Vermont fugitive in Oregon

MONTPELIER, Vt. (AP) — The U.S. Marshals Service says a missing sex offender from Vermont has been arrested in Oregon.The Marshals say 55-year-old James Rivers was arrested May 16 in Cottage Grove, Oregon, by deputy marshals and local police. It's unclear if he has an attorney.Authorities...

Oregon State study says it's OK to eat placenta after all

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — First experts said eggs are bad for you, then they say it's OK to eat them. Is red wine good for your heart or will it give you breast cancer?Should you eat your placenta?Conflicting research about diets is nothing new, but applying the question to whether new mothers...

State sees need to reduce elk damage in the Skagit Valley

MOUNT VERNON, Wash. (AP) — Elk are easy to spot against the green backdrop of the Skagit Valley, where much of the resident North Cascades elk herd that has grown to an estimated 1,600 is found.For farmers in the area — especially those who grow grass for their cattle or to sell to...

Famed mini sub's control room to become future exhibit

BREMERTON, Wash. (AP) — The U.S. Naval Undersea Museum at Keyport has a new addition to its archives — the salvaged control room of the legendary, one-of-a-kind Cold War-era miniature submersible NR-1.Adm. Hyman G. Rickover, the father of the nuclear Navy, conceived the idea for the...

OPINION

Golfing While Black Is Not a Crime

Grandview Golf Club asks five Black women to leave for golfing too slow ...

Discovering the Best of Black America in 2018

Dr. Benjamin F. Chavis discusses the DTU Journalism Fellowship & Scholarship Program ...

Will Israel’s Likud Party Ever Respect the Rights of Palestinians?

Bill Fletcher weighs in on the precarious future of the two-state solution between the Israeli government and the Palestinian people ...

The Future of Medicinal Marijuana in Pets

Dr. Jasmine Streeter says CBD-derived products show beneficial therapeutic benefits for pets ...

AFRICAN AMERICANS IN THE NEWS

2018 midterms: An early heat for 2020 Democrats?

ATLANTA (AP) — Look closely enough at the 2018 midterm campaign and you'll see the stirrings of a Democratic scramble to reclaim the White House from President Donald Trump.The leading players — from established national figures such as former Vice President Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders...

Northern states taking down vestiges of racism, intolerance

DETROIT (AP) — A nearly 80-year-old statue depicting a European settler with a weapon in his hand towering over a Native American that some say celebrates white supremacy has been dismantled by crews in southwestern Michigan's Kalamazoo.And at the University of Michigan, regents have voted...

Guess who's coming to Windsor? Royal ceremony weds cultures

BURLINGTON, New Jersey (AP) — With a gospel choir, black cellist and bishop, Oprah, Serena and Idris Elba in the audience and an African-American mother-of-the-bride, Saturday's wedding of Prince Harry to American actress Meghan Markle was a blend of the solemn and the soulful.Guess who's...

ENTERTAINMENT

'13 Reasons Why' premiere canceled after Texas shooting

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Netflix canceled the premiere party for its second season of the teen drama "13 Reasons Why" because of a school shooting near Houston.The streaming service announced the cancellation hours before the scheduled premiere and red carpet event, citing the Friday morning...

'Shoplifters' wins Palme d'Or, grand prize to Spike Lee

A tumultuous Cannes Film Festival concluded Saturday with the Palme d'Or awarded to Japanese director Hirokazu Kore-eda's "Shoplifters," a tender portrait of a poor, impoverished family, while Harvey Weinstein accuser Asia Argento vowed justice will come to all sexual predators.At the closing...

'Jurassic Park' dinosaur expert's next big thing: holograms

HELENA, Mont. (AP) — Forget the gray, green and brown dinosaurs in the "Jurassic Park" movies. Paleontologist Jack Horner wants to transport people back in time to see a feathered Tyrannosaurus rex colored bright red and a blue triceratops with red fringe similar to a rooster's comb.Horner,...

U.S. & WORLD NEWS

'Deadpool 2' ends Avengers' box-office reign, rakes in 5M

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Deadpool and his foul-mouthed crew of misfits and malcontents have taken down the...

Iraq's al-Sadr, promising reform, is constrained by Iran

BAGHDAD (AP) — Iraq's Muqtada al-Sadr, the maverick Shiite cleric whose political coalition beat out Iran's...

Company in Cuba plane crash had received safety complaints

HAVANA (AP) — The Mexican charter company whose 39-year-old plane crashed in Havana had been the subject of...

Palestinian publicly sets himself on fire in Gaza

GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip (AP) — A 20-year-old Palestinian is in critical condition after publicly setting...

Iran says EU political support not enough, urges investment

TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — Iran's state TV is reporting that the country's foreign minister has urged the European...

The Latest: Maduro's challengers criticize 'red points'

CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) — The Latest on Sunday's presidential election in Venezuela (all times local):1:01...

By Julianne Malveaux, NNPA Columnist

When Amtrak Northeast Regional Train #188 derailed on May 12, federal budget observers wondered if the underfunding of our nation’s fraying infrastructure was at least partly responsible for the deaths of eight people and the injuries to more than 200. Despite these questions, House Republicans voted to reduce President Obama’s request for Amtrak funding from $2.45 billion to $1.14 billion. The Republican proposal not only reduces the current level of funding for Amtrak, which is $1.4 billion, it also delays or eliminates needed capital for improvements.

Legislators who represent areas served by the Northeast corridor trains running from Washington D.C. to Boston), including New York’s Charles Schumer (D) and Philadelphia’s Chaka Fattah (D), have voiced objection to the parsimonious plan to underfund Amtrak. Still, House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), as characteristically myopic as the proverbial ostrich with its head in the sand, lost his cool when a reporter asked about funding for Amtrak.

When Ginger Gibson, a political reporter for the International Business Times, queried Boehner about Democratic criticisms of Amtrak funding, he called her question “stupid.” He then embarked on a partisan rant that ignored the fact that eight people died because of the derailment. What does money have to do with it? Everything.

If budgets allowed for more than one engineer on a train, then Brandon Bostian, the engineer who claims not remember why the train sped up, might have had some backup. Further, with more funding, would the positive train control safety system (which slows speeding trains) have been functioning properly?

Investigations have not yet revealed why Train #188 derailed. It was going 106 miles per hour when it should have been going 50, but how did it speed up so rapidly, and why? Why are there not enough precautions to prevent this kind of accident?   What will be done to prevent similar tragedies in the future?

Trains aren’t the only parts of our infrastructure that need attention. The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) issues a report card on our nation’s infrastructure every four years. The most recent report, released in 2013, gives the U.S. a grade of D+ when 16 areas (including rail, bridges, aviation, roads and waste disposal) are considered. We get the highest grade, B-, in solid waste disposal because we are both producing less trash per capita, and recycling more of it. We earn D- grades for the status of our levees and waterways. We earn D grades for most other categories, so the C+ grade for rail, compared to D grades for aviation and roads, may not seem like such a bad thing. Still, while U.S. trains should be excellent they are just a tad better than mediocre.

ASCE says that $3.6 trillion dollars are needed to bring our infrastructure up to the level of good, or B, level by 2020. They say the gap between what is funded and what is needed is about $1.6 trillion, or $201 billion a year. Our Congress is so focused on cutting spending that they refuse to invest in infrastructure.

Other parts of our infrastructure are even more substandard. One in eight of our nation’s bridges are structurally deficient, and more than 200 million trips are made across these deficient bridges in our 102 largest metropolitan areas each year. Many of these bridges have been poorly maintained and still handle heavy traffic. They are, on average, 42 years old. While repairs or new construction has begun on some, such as New York’s Tappan Zee Bridge, other neglected bridges are tragedies waiting to happen.

A strong infrastructure is an essential part of a sound economy. It makes it easier and more efficient to move both people and products. It provides jobs and other economic opportunities. On the other hand, allowing infrastructure to erode costs money. For example, ASCE reports that 42 percent of our nation’s highways are congested, costing $101 billion in wasted time and fuel each year.

In the name of reducing our carbon footprint, some will eschew roads for urban rapid transit, but mass transit is unevenly provided in many cities, often providing less service in poor neighborhoods. Public transportation is also woefully lacking outside urban areas, with 45 percent of the U.S. population having no access to public transportation. Business Insider’s Madeline Stone wrote that New York had the best public transportation system, followed by San Francisco and Boston. The Metro system in the nation’s capital doesn’t even make the Top 10 list. On a recent weekend, it operated at half capacity. What does that say about our infrastructure?

Whether we examine roads, planes, trains, waterways, bridges, dams or energy, ASCE finds our infrastructure pathetically inadequate. These deficiencies are costly drains on our economy, while investments in infrastructure generate sizeable returns. Moody’s economist Mark Zandi says that every dollar spent on infrastructure yields as much as $1.57 in gross domestic product.

The Amtrak derailment should be a warning about the status of our infrastructure. It ought to force us to think about ways we can avoid accidents and to operate more efficiently. It ought to motivate the kinds of investments that ASCE and others say are necessary. To ignore this reality is, to quote John Boehner, “stupid.”

Julianne Malveaux is an author and economist. She can be reached at www.juliannemalveaux.com.

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