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Sarah Laskow's Posts

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4 out of 5 top transit cities are on the East Coast

Walk Score put together a list of the country's top transit cities, based on the company's transit scores for more 1 million locations in the largest 25 cities with open public transit data. (Lack of data meant Atlanta and Phoenix were left out.) And, surprisingly, four out of the top five are on the East Coast: New York (No. 1), Boston (No. 3), D.C. (No. 4), and Philadelphia (No. 5).

San Francisco (of course!) is the one West Coast spoiler. (You can check out the full list is below the jump.)

I was surprised to see Boston and, in particular, Philadelphia come out on top of cities like Chicago and Seattle that I think of as public-transit friendly. One interesting wrinkle in the Walk Score methodology is that it measures not just the extent of public transportation but its "usefulness." 

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Hungry bacteria help make bugs resistant to pesticides

Use pesticides on a field for long enough and the bugs that you're supposed to be defeating will adapt. But you know what adapts faster than bugs? Bacteria. They can run through multiple generations in a day or so, and a new study shows that when bugs team up with a certain pesticide-loving bacteria, the bugs, too, can develop resistance to pesticides incredibly quickly.

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Creepy video: Enviros HATE AMERICA

Conservatives really do see environmentalists as the enemy:

This insinuating, creepy video has 1 million hits on YouTube, because everyone knows that environmentalists HATE AMERICA. It's actually too painful to watch, so if you didn't make it through the whole thing, know that this is what environmentalists are guilty of: 

Read more: Politics

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Critical List: A blueprint for a ‘bioeconomy’; urban chicken retirement

The Obama administration is going to release a blueprint for a "bioeconomy" -- an idea that includes renewable energy and biological manufacturing.

Here is what conservatives think about energy and the environment, for real. Apparently environmentalists want America to suffer, to follow not lead … TO FAIL. Watch this video to get angry.

China's reaching out to the U.S., Japan, and Europe about potential partnerships on rare earth mining projects.

Feeding the world without destroying it will require organic and conventional farming methods, according to a new report.

Read more: Uncategorized

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New SUV sales technique: Add a little Posh Spice

In this age of high gas prices, auto executives have caught on that the only way to sell people on a gas-guzzling SUV is … hey, look over there! It's a Spice Girl!

That, in a nutshell, is Land Rover's strategy for marketing the Range Rover Evoque. Victoria Beckham, née Posh Spice, "co-designed and gives her name" to the special version of the vehicle, USA TODAY reports:

"Both Land Rover and Victoria Beckham are British luxury brands with credibility and global appeal," [Land Rover design chief Gerry] McGovern says in a statement. "This dual 'Britishness' makes the collaboration even more exciting especially when considering the huge audience for bespoke products around the world, particularly in China, Russia and Brazil where Land Rover is growing."

Read more: Living

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Ex-BP employee deleted 300 texts about oil spill’s true size

Ever since the massive oil spill at the Deepwater Horizon well two years ago, the Department of Justice (DOJ) has been investigating the spill. And the feds have finally filed the first criminal charges, for obstruction of justice, against an engineer named Kurt Mix who worked on the oil spill. Mix, it turns out, deleted 300 text messages that contained sensitive information about the extent of the spill, just before lawyers were going to collect that sort of information from him.

The DOJ's case focuses on two incidents. In the first, "after Mix learned that his electronic files were to be collected by vendor working for BP's lawyers," he allegedly deleted a string of 200 text messages from his iPhone, the DOJ says. Those messages "included sensitive internal BP information collected in real-time as the Top Kill operation was occurring, which indicated that Top Kill was failing."

In the second, a couple of weeks later, after Mix found out his iPhone was going to be imaged, he deleted another string of texts, this one 100 long, about how much oil was coming from the well.

Read more: Oil

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Nature trail rigged with terrifying booby trap

On a nature hike, as a rule, the dangers you want to guard against are dehydration, getting lost, and bears. But of all of nature's creatures, the most terrifying might be a duo of teenage boys without much to do. In Utah, two such young men were arrested on suspicion of setting up trap that consisted of "a 20-pound spiked boulder … rigged to swing at head-level with just a trip of a thin wire -- a military-like booby trap set on a popular canyon trail," according to the Associated Press.

Read more: Living

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TP execs: Americans don’t create enough waste in the bathroom

It takes tens of thousands of trees to create the amount of toilet paper that's used every single day. But in the minds of corporate executives, Americans, at least, aren't using enough paper during their bathroom routine. In particular, we're not using enough Cottonelle Fresh Care -- "the leading flushable wipe."

These executives, being corporate executives, know that if they could just convince us that we need dry and wet paper to clean our bums, they could sell sooooo much more product. Right now, ashamed of the wipes, people are hiding them under the sink. But people who keep the wipes out in the open use twice as many, and as the Cottonelle execs told The New York Times:

"We know from our user data that the growth is 100 percent incremental,” said Mr. Simon of Cottonelle. “If you used six squares of dry toilet paper before, you’d still use six squares, and one or two flushable wipes.”

Read more: Living

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Critical List: Mad cow disease in California; first arrest in BP oil spill investigation

The USDA found a case of mad cow disease in California.

Federal prosecutors charged a former BP engineer with deleting text messages in order to keep information about the true size of the Deepwater Horizon spill from investigators.

The three cities with the most air pollution in the country are all in California, but L.A. only comes in third. A couple of inland metro areas come in first and second.

Read more: Uncategorized

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Oil shale: An environmental disaster waiting to happen?

It used to be that oil came from a hole drilled in the ground. But as oil has become more scarce, the ways of getting at it have become more numerous -- so much so that it's getting hard to keep track. Oil sands, shale oil, oil shale: These are all different sources of oil. And if you can't keep them straight, well, rest assured the oil industry will.

The Council on Foreign Relations' Michael Levi argues that it's oil shale that might be the extraction point to watch in the coming years:

“Oil shale” is basically rock that contains kerogen. You melt it (loosely speaking) to produce oil. It was a hot prospect in the late 1970s, but when the price of oil crashed, so did development.

Developing oil shale requires huge investments and hasn't made economic sense yet. But at a hearing last week, a former Bush administration official was hitting the Obama administration for limiting oil shale development options.

Read more: Oil