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Articles by Todd Hymas Samkara

Todd Hymas Samkara is Grist's assistant editor.

Featured Article

Photo: Sam Graham-Felsen

In a speech on Wednesday at a GM auto plant in Wisconsin, Barack Obama outlined his economic agenda for the country. He described his stimulus plan, promising to boost green jobs, help the middle class, dole out tax cuts, negotiate worker and environmental protections in upcoming free-trade agreements — and, to help pay for much of it, end the costly war in Iraq.

The environmental highlights of the speech are below (audio available here):

Decades of trade deals like NAFTA and China have been signed with plenty of protections for corporations and their profits, but none for our environment or our workers who’ve seen factories shut their doors and millions of jobs disappear; workers whose right to organize and unionize has been under assault for the last eight years …

[Lobbyists have] been allowed to write an energy policy that’s keeping us addicted to oil when there are families choosing between gas and groceries …

[When I am president, infrastructure repairs in the country] will be determined not by politics, but by what will maximize our safety and homeland security; wh... Read more

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  • Focus the Nation events to heat up campuses across the U.S.

    Focus the Nation, a series of climate-change-focused educational events on over 1,000 campuses across the United States, is basically the student-centered cousin of Step It Up. And if you were one of the thousands who attended SIU (or SIU 2), you know that raising climate consciousness doesn't have to be a drab affair. It can be a colorful, creative, youth-infused party of a time. Enter Focus the Nation.

    Hoping to pick up where SIU left off, Focus the Nation is gathering together thousands of students and teachers for climate festivities, billing it as the largest teach-in in U.S. history. It all goes down Jan. 31. (Or, you know, whatever the kids say these days.)

  • Watch out for that flaming bag of McNuggets

    I'm so spoiled now that I live in bike-path-licious Boulder, Colorado. I hardly have to interact with cars anymore when cycling to most points in the city. But just a few weeks ago, before I moved here, I was out there with all the other Colorado cyclists in traffic getting assaulted.

    Sure, most assaults are verbal and harmless-ish, but then there are the ones that aren't. This article from today's Los Angeles Times leads with a list of one guy's experience in L.A.:

    Scott Sing has had a tire iron hurled at him, a water bottle thrown at his head and been bombarded with racial epithets. And all he was trying to do was ride his bike on Los Angeles city streets.

    His cycling and running brethren tell similar tales -- of being peppered with flying objects, cursed or otherwise assaulted -- and those don't even include the stories of near-misses and actual collisions.

    A partial rundown of my own misadventures in bicycle-motorist interactions include being run off the road thrice (Loveland, Colo.; Durango, Colo.; and Skokomish Indian Reservation on Hwy 101, Wash.), hit by cars twice (Seattle, Wash., both times), and had the following items tossed at me from moving vehicles:

  • Knock that junk off

    Washington state is one of a half dozen states considering legislation this year to create a "do not mail" list for residents, similar to the feds' popular "do not call" registry.

    And like the telemarketing industry's cries that it would be utterly destroyed and millions of contented telemarketers would be out of a job, similar forces are mobilizing against the "do not mail" bills, including the Direct Marketing Association, the mail carriers' union, and others who argue that junk mail is simultaneously essential, irreplaceable, and innocuous.

    Bollocks.

  • A pedal-tastic roundup

    On a personal new year's note, I can't help but mention the only-months-old but hopelessly addictive new habit I know I'll be nursing throughout the year: mountain biking at night.

    No idea why I only started doing this recently, and in the winter no less, but there you go. And since I splurged on a set of burly studded mountain-bike tires that should be arriving any day now, snow and ice riding on both trail and street at all hours are up next. That, and on snowmobile trails.

    Any others out there who want to join the ranks of proud all-weather winter cyclists, check out this excellent website. And for night riders on road or trail, I can't say enough good things about NiteRider Trail Rat headlights. For best results, get at least one extra battery (I have three extras) and maybe a fast recharger. Combine with a $30 LED headlamp for the best night cycling around.

    Now for the news: