Mendo Island Journal — Timely. Useful. Sometimes Cranky.

Archive for March, 2010|Monthly archive page

Zinn Education Project

In Around the web on March 31, 2010 at 5:19 pm

From ZINN EDUCATION PROJECT

The Zinn Education Project promotes and supports the use of Howard Zinn’s best-selling book A People’s History of the United States and other materials for teaching a people’s history in middle and high school classrooms across the country. The Zinn Education Project is coordinated by two non-profit organizations, Rethinking Schools and Teaching for Change.

Its goal is to introduce students to a more accurate, complex, and engaging understanding of United States history than is found in traditional textbooks and curricula. The empowering potential of studying U.S. history is often lost in a textbook-driven trivial pursuit of names and dates. Zinn’s A People’s History of the United States emphasizes the role of working people, women, people of color, and organized social movements in shaping history. Students learn that history is made not by a few heroic individuals, but instead by people’s choices and actions, thereby also learning that their own choices and actions matter.

We believe that through taking a more engaging and more honest look at the past, we can help equip students with the analytical tools to make sense of – and improve – the world today. For a more complete description, read the PDF A People’s History, A People’s Pedagogy.

In 2008, with support from an anonymous donor, the Zinn Education Project distributed 4,000 free packets for teaching people’s history to educators across the country. In a follow-up survey, the recipients requested more resources, which led to the creation of this upgraded website to provide teaching materials online. Read the full report (in PDF) on the distribution of the 4,000 packets here.
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Why Do They Want To Do Us Harm?

In Around the web on March 31, 2010 at 5:18 pm


Displaced Afghan children from Helmand province stand outside their mud
shelters during a brief snowfall on the outskirts of Kabul on January 28.

From IN THESE TIMES

Helen Thomas asked the question. The White House stonewalled. Here are the answers.

On January 8, President Barack Obama held a press conference at which he said: “It is clear that al Qaeda increasingly seeks to recruit individuals without known terrorist affiliations … to do their bidding. … And that’s why we must communicate clearly to Muslims around the world that al Qaeda offers nothing except a bankrupt vision of misery and death … while the United States stands with those who seek justice and progress … That’s the vision that is far more powerful than the hatred of these violent extremists.”

Obama then turned the floor over to Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano and terrorism expert John Brennan, former chairman of the National Counterterrorism Center, who spoke and took questions from the assembled reporters, including Helen Thomas, the 89-year-old grand dame of the White House press corps. The following exchange ensued:

Helen Thomas: What is really lacking always for us, is, you don’t give the motivation of why they want to do us harm.

Janet Napolitano: The screening at Schiphol Airport was done by Dutch authorities, and they did the screening that was described to you earlier this afternoon. The hand luggage was screened, the passport was checked, he went through a magnetometer, but it was done by Dutch authorities.

HT: And what is the motivation? We never hear what you find out of ‘why’?

More at IN THESE TIMES
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You Are What You Eat Eats

In Around the web on March 31, 2010 at 7:09 am

From DAVID KIRBY
The Huffington Post

The Nutritional Superiority of Pasture Raised Animals

You are what you eat – and the same goes for the animals whose meat, milk and eggs you put in your mouth. We should not only be concerned about what we eat, but what our food eats as well.

Generally speaking, our food animals are not eating what they were naturally meant to eat. As more animals are raised by the thousands and packed into concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs), their natural diets of roots and grasses, grubs and bugs has been replaced by a standard factory farm fare of grains, soybeans, King Corn and a sundry array of advanced pharmaceutical products.

But sound science has emerged to demonstrate that eating meat, milk and eggs from grass-fed and pastured animals will provide your body with more health-enhancing, disease fighting materials than industrial-grade CAFO-raised protein.

A new scientific review, a compendium of grass-fed beef benefits just published in Nutrition Journal, concludes that, “Research spanning three decades suggests that grass-only diets can significantly alter the fatty acid composition and improve the overall antioxidant content of beef.”

This altered fatty acid composition replaces more of the “bad fats” of grain-fed beef with the “good fats” found in grass-fed protein.

In fact, more and more research is showing that cattle, pigs and poultry raised on their natural pasture and grass-based diets yield meat that is lower in total fat and calories, and food that is higher in good fats like Omega 3′s, more concentrated with antioxidants such as vitamins E, C and beta-carotene, and with increased levels of other disease-fighting substances.

More at HuffPo
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A Plastic Bag Sees The World

In Around the web on March 30, 2010 at 11:49 pm

From TREEHUGGER.ORG

This short film by American director Ramin Bahrani (Goodbye Solo) traces the epic, existential journey of a plastic bag (voiced by Werner Herzog) searching for its lost maker, the woman who took it home from the store and eventually discarded it. Along the way, it encounters strange creatures, experiences love in the sky, grieves the loss of its beloved maker, and tries to grasp its purpose in the world.

When we’re all gone, plastic bags will live on. These petroleum totes don’t really degrade — it takes between 500 and a thousand years for one of these suckers to break down. But they degrade the environment. Like so much else, we throw them away as easily as we make them. But of course they don’t actually _go_ away: they just become inadvertent parts of our urban landscapes. Also they strangle tortoises, choke birds, and poison water in ways that can deform our hormones and lead to cancer.

For proof, just take a look at the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, the Texas-sized gyre featured in the film where plastic goes to die.

Except as Bahrani’s movie poignantly points out, it doesn’t really die. That’s the thing. And if we can’t let a poor plastic bag die – especially one that sounds like Werner Herzog – can we at least learn how to grant it a new life, how to reincarnate a plastic bag into other stuff we can use — and not just a pair of boots or a hobo dress.
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Tea Party Members: Are You Serious? If So, Sign The Pledge!

In Around the web on March 29, 2010 at 9:41 pm

Thanks to THOM HARTMANN

I do solemnly swear to uphold the principles of a socialism-free society and heretofore pledge my word that I shall strictly adhere to the following:

I will complain about the destruction of 1st Amendment Rights in this country, while I am duly being allowed to exercise my 1st Amendment Rights

I will complain about the destruction of my 2nd Amendment Rights in this country, while I am duly being allowed to exercise my 2nd Amendment rights by legally but brazenly brandishing unconcealed firearms in public.

I will foreswear the time-honored principles of fairness, decency, and respect by screaming unintelligible platitudes regarding tyranny, Naziism, and socialism at public town halls. Also, I pledge to eliminate all government intervention in my life.

I will abstain from the use of and participation in any socialist goods and services including but not limited to the following:

  • Social Security
  • Medicare/Medicaid
  • State Children’s Health Insurance Programs (SCHIP)
  • Police, Fire, and Emergency Services
  • US Postal Service
  • Roads and Highways
  • Air Travel (regulated by the socialist FAA)
  • The US Railway System
  • Public Subways and Metro Systems
  • Public Bus and Lightrail Systems
  • Rest Areas on Highways
  • more→

Celebrating (Mourning) a Culture of Lies

In Around the web on March 28, 2010 at 9:00 pm

From ROBERT FREEMAN
CommonDreams.org

[Today], March 29th, marks the thirty-seventh anniversary of America’s withdrawal from Vietnam. You won’t hear it celebrated in any mainstream media, though it should be. Or more precisely, it should be mourned. Vietnam is the first war America ever lost.

It should be remembered so that we might learn the lessons of that loss. They are many, they are profound, and they could inform so many of our policy decisions today: that withdrawal from immoral wars doesn’t mean the end of civilization as we know it; that even America’s seemingly limitless resources are, in fact, limited; that masses of engaged, moral individuals can constrain the reckless, destructive folly of renegade elites.

Perhaps the most important lesson of Vietnam is that policies based on lies will ultimately fail, for in an open society it is the consent of the governed that is required to sustain major policy initiatives. A government can either earn that consent, or it must forfeit the essence of its democracy. If lying becomes its essential modus operandi, a nation ceases to be a democracy. Rather, it becomes a criminal conspiracy of self-interested insiders donning the trappings of democracy in order to gull the credulous.

If Vietnam was anything, it was a fetid cesspool of a policy of lies. The intelligence agencies lied about the threat to our country from a nation of pre-industrial age rice farmers who just wanted to be left alone. The Pentagon was steeped in lies, from field level body counts to the success of strategic bombing to the basic question of whether the war could even be won. The State Department lied about the prolonged, illegal bombings of Laos and Cambodia. more→

Marilyn Friedman – Garden Project in Ukiah

In Around Mendo Island on March 28, 2010 at 8:45 pm

From GARDENS PROJECT MENDOCINO COUNTY

The Orchard Apartments Garden is located at the Orchard Manor and Village Apartments, a low-income family residency managed by the Rural Communities Housing and Development Corp. (RCHDC), a non-profit that provides affordable housing to low and moderate income persons.  The garden is a collaboration of The Gardens Project and RCHDC residents and provides access to fresh fruits and vegetables for the low-income residents.

The garden was developed in the Spring of 2009 and consists of 22 garden plots that serve the families residing at Orchard and Manor Village Apartments.  Residents can have their own individual plots, as well as assist with the overall development and maintenance of the garden. The Orchard Manor Apartments has 63 family units and the neighboring Orchard Village Apartments has 48 units.

In addition to the numerous businesses and volunteers that helped develop this garden, special thanks go to The Gardens Project Sponsors -  The Ukiah Natural Foods Coop and The Community Foundation of Mendocino County for their financial support, as well as the California Conservation Corps for their tremendous contribution of skilled workers!
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Chicken Feed

In James Houle on March 28, 2010 at 7:52 pm

From JIM HOULE
Redwood Valley

I am very annoyed at the Health Care fraud that our President is now touting as if it amounts to Reform. When you turn the hen house over to the fox, and let him change all the locks to serve his needs and set the rental rates, how can you expect he will protect the hens from his continuing voraciousness? Yes, the fox did agree he would not eat any hen before its time, and allowed that those chickens that had run loose in the past without a hen house they could call their own, were now safely ensconced in the fox’s new hen houses. He even agreed with the President that the formerly wild on-their-own hens could now pay the fox suitable rents for the privilege of a ‘safe’ hen house. If the wild chickens can not afford the rent because they have no job, the President agreed to chip in and subsidize.

Oh yes, I almost forgot – the price of chicken feed will rise any time the fox decides since he now has a total monopoly on feed supply. The President will not stand in the way of his making extra bucks in this way. The fox conceded that he would allow skinny and sickly hens to remain in the hen house (pre-existing skinnyness) rather than being thrown to the circling wolves outdoors but he didn’t guarantee that he would feed these skinny ones very much.

We have now set up a totally socialized system to protect the capitalist fox from any risks, we even expanded his market reach, and we call it free economic capitalism. We cannot even consider giving all the chickens free rent and feed, paid for out of the tax we extract from the periodic sale of chicken flesh (sometimes called low wage employment), of course. My God that would be socialism!!
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Team Earth: Another Load Of Corporate Bullshit From Conservation International

In Around the web, BS Buzzer on March 27, 2010 at 8:30 am

From THE UNSUITABLOG

Environmental groups used to be funded largely by their members and wealthy individual supporters. They had only one goal: to prevent environmental destruction. Their funds were small, but they played a crucial role in saving vast tracts of wilderness and in pushing into law strict rules forbidding air and water pollution. But Jay Hair–president of the National Wildlife Federation from 1981 to 1995–was dissatisfied. He identified a huge new source of revenue: the worst polluters.

Hair found that the big oil and gas companies were happy to give money to conservation groups. Yes, they were destroying many of the world’s pristine places. Yes, by the late 1980s it had become clear that they were dramatically destabilizing the climate–the very basis of life itself. But for Hair, that didn’t make them the enemy; he said they sincerely wanted to right their wrongs and pay to preserve the environment. He began to suck millions from them, and in return his organization and others, like The Nature Conservancy (TNC), gave them awards for “environmental stewardship.”

Companies like Shell and British Petroleum (BP) were delighted. They saw it as valuable “reputation insurance”: every time they were criticized for their massive emissions of warming gases, or for being involved in the killing of dissidents who wanted oil funds to go to the local population, or an oil spill that had caused irreparable damage, they wheeled out their shiny green awards, purchased with “charitable” donations, to ward off the prospect of government regulation. At first, this behavior scandalized the environmental community. Hair was vehemently condemned as a sellout and a charlatan. But slowly, the other groups saw themselves shrink while the corporate-fattened groups swelled–so they, too, started to take the checks.

Christine MacDonald, an idealistic young environmentalist, discovered how deeply this cash had transformed these institutions when she started to work for Conservation International in 2006. She told me, “About a week or two after I started, I went to the big planning meeting of all the organization’s media teams, and they started talking about this supposedly great new project they were running with BP. But I had read in the newspaper the day before that the EPA [Environmental Protection Agency] had condemned BP for running the most polluting plant in the whole country…. But nobody in that meeting, or anywhere else in the organization, wanted to talk about it. It was a taboo. You weren’t supposed to ask if BP was really green. They were ‘helping’ us, and that was it.”

Looking at the summary above, one is tempted to abandon the idea that NGOs (Non-Governmental Organisations) have any part to play in the removal of destructive actions upon the natural world. I think that’s a fair assumption. None of the NGOs come out of this well, more→

Pathological Greed & Electric

In Guest Posts on March 26, 2010 at 8:34 pm

From TODD WALTON
Anderson Valley
UnderTheTableBooks.com

Repeat after me. Pacific Gas and Electric is not a public utility. They would like us to think they are a public utility, but they are not. PG&E is a huge amoral corporation owned by an even larger amoral multinational corporation with one goal transcendent of all others: to make obscene profits through the maintenance of energy monopolies.

A year or so ago I reported in these pages that one of those little slips of paper accompanying my PG&E bill, those slips 99.9% of us don’t read, informed us that PG&E would be raising our rates to pay for their new smart meters to improve PG&E’s efficiency and raise their profits and increase their control over our use of energy. I pointed out that the smart meters would pay for themselves within a few years, but we would continue to pay higher rates because of them for all eternity. Alas, my article did not incite a consumer revolt.

Now in last month’s bill, another of those little slips of paper informed us that PG&E is going to raise our rates to pay for the development of a wind power project. We will pay today so they can build wind generators that they, not we, will own forever, and we will pay again tomorrow when the energy from those wind generators we paid for (but don’t own) comes online. Good for PG&E, but not very good us.

And this month there were two more slips of paper accompanying my bill. One slip said PG&E is raising our rates “to recover costs associated with performing seismic studies at Diablo Canyon Power Plant.” DCPP is their (not our) nuclear power plant built on a major earthquake fault, a plant, by the way, that has never and will never pay for itself, and that our grandchildren will somehow have to decommission (at a cost of many billions of dollars) if the murderous thing doesn’t melt down first. The second slip said PG&E is raising our rates on top of the aforementioned raises to “recover costs associated with renewal of the Diablo Canyon Power Plant operating licenses.” As in, they’re going to pour even more of our money down their nuclear power toilet.

Terrible, right? We should create local community-owned power companies and develop solar and wind power that we, the people…hold on. PG&E has just spent several million of our dollars putting Proposition 16 on the June 8 ballot, a measure that would require a two-thirds majority of local voters to approve the creation of community-based power companies, as opposed to a simple majority. And PG&E plans to spend thirty to forty million dollars more of our money to make sure Proposition 16 passes.

more→

Update on Prop 16: Worst Ballot Measure Ever

In Around the web on March 26, 2010 at 8:26 pm

From  MICHAEL LAYBOURN
Hopland

[SFGate blog: "...Prop 16 isn't just another battle in PG&E's war on clean energy; it's also an example of everything that's wrong with the balloting system in California: Company buys its way to the ballot with a measure that would specifically diminish voters' already limited influence over the company. That it will take a constitutional amendment to do so is just the putrid icing on the cake" -DS]

Update on Prop 16, PG&E’s irresponsible ballot initiative that wants to create a California constitutional amendment that would force local governments that want to establish local electrical service to win the approval of two-thirds of their voters first, rather than just giving consumers a choice. They just hate that nasty competition… 25-40 million dollars worth of hate.

Here are some updates on PG&E and its reckless CEO Peter Darbee…

John Geesman:
“March 8 was when PG&E filed its Preliminary Proxy Statement, detailing Darbee’s $10.5 million pay package for 2009 — some 8% more than Goldman Sachs paid its CEO.

March 11 marked the San Diego Chamber of Commerce Energy and Water Committee’s vote on Proposition 16:  22 to 0 to oppose, with 4 abstentions.

March 17 was the California Public Utilities Commission informational hearing on Proposition 16, which somehow Darbee deemed too unimportant to attend.  Odd behavior for the CEO of a regulated business which is dependent upon its regulator for its entire cash flow and which, for the first time in the CPUC’s 99-year history, is attempting to unilaterally write its own business advantage into the State Constitution.

Darbee has packed the four-member Compensation Committee with two of his telephone company cronies from his days at PacBell, including the Committee Chair.  Even with the two other members, the Committee is completely devoid of any professional experience in the regulated electricity or natural gas business.

While each of the newspapers that has taken up Proposition 16 has attempted to outdo its competitors in heaping scorn on the manipulative debasement PG&E has brought to the initiative process, the San Jose Mercury News is the first to specifically call out Darbee as the mastermind behind this brazen assault on his own electricity customers….

more→

Why We Progressives Keep Losing

In Around the web on March 26, 2010 at 3:45 pm

From JOHN ATCHESON
CommonDreams.org

Hurling Hail Mary’s — When is a victory more like a defeat?

[This is a good analysis of our "Progressive's Problem." I've added some of the comments that followed this post on Common Dreams. I'm sure the discussion there will be interesting... -DS]

At the risk of being churlish, passing this health care bill was the palest of victories.

Yes, it’s better than nothing, but as the President himself has pointed out, it’s largely made up of proposals the Republicans advocated a little more than a decade ago.

So, while this is certainly a political victory, it is far from a triumph of progressive ideals. Indeed, this Legislation is a sign of how far the political center has drifted to the right in the last three decades.

How did we let this happen?

Well, imagine playing a basketball game in which your team had to stay in the opponent’s end of the court on both offense and defense. Your opponent would be shooting layups and slam dunks, while the best you could hope for in terms of scoring would be one of those Hail Mary hurls from half court.

Think you’d win? Of course not.

Yet that’s precisely what Democrats and progressives have been doing for going on 30 years now. We’ve allowed conservatives to set the terms of the debate and shape the national dialogue.

For three decades, pundits and progressives have been struggling to explain why popular and much needed programs like health care, financial reform, and climate and clean energy bills keep getting scuttled, or compromised into inanity.

Let’s start with the health care legislation. As late as June of 2009, more than 70% of Americans still favored including a public option, and 66% favored Medicare for all. Yet after progressive compromises and an extensive “debate” over the summer, we were reduced to pursuing anemic health insurance reform. The one thing everyone seems to agree on is that we got beat at “messaging”, and it was this defeat that led to us celebrating passage of an essentially Republican proposal.

But we didn’t simply get beat; we refused to show up.

Or take financial reform. Here again, progressives are losing the debate on what is a popular idea – fix the system that brought on the Great Recession and that continues to take our collective money and shuffle it up to the top 1% of the economy. What’s not to like? Yet even a watered down version of financial reform – one that doesn’t fix “too-big-to-fail” or restore Glass-Steagall protections — is floundering in the Senate, and the House passed a tepid version that can only be called reform lite. more→

Ukiah Farmers Market Saturday 3/27/10

In Around Mendo Island on March 25, 2010 at 11:23 pm

From SCOTT CRATTY
Ukiah

Friends of the Farmers’ Market,

We are definitely firing up early this year.  In addition to having the out Humboldt Bay oyster connection back early (a surprise last week), I now expect more farms back early this Saturday, one attending Ukiah for the first time.  Black Dog Farm from Willits will make its debut, Salt Hollow Farm from Redwood Valley will bring lettuce, radishes and various greens and Ukiah’s own Spiral Garden Botanicals will be there with herbal and vegetable starts.
.
Don Willis will be back with his ever lively, on target and lovely accordion playing.

Holly passed along this article about the young farmers movement and Project Greenhorn.  Paula with Mendocino Organics, who you see handing out CSA baskets each week at the market, has been very much involved in the Greenhorn project and the related movie.  If the article inspires some questions, she might be willing to answer.

And now, for those of you who do not get the UDJ, here is this week’s Market Message:

Mollusks Invade Ukiah (Farmers’ Market)

It seems that many of you were too busy getting your gardens going to make it to the farmers’ market last weekend.  Vegetable sales were slow.  Many a robust and healthful chard, heroic and lion-hearted though it might have been, failed in its mission to find your dinner plate.

They will not give up.  Now that sunny days are back in vogue, ever more valiant young greens are packing away stores of vibrant, healthy energy and reaching for the heavens every week.  Some of this new crew will be at the market tomorrow, looking for you.  Cannot you hear them calling your name?

If you did miss the market last week, you missed the (surprise) early return of Aqua-Rodeo and their fresh oysters, straight from Humboldt Bay to our little market in Ukiah.  Try getting those out of your garden! Or, anyplace else.  We also had the largest selection of fish that I have seen in many a month.  Given the calm waters this week, I anticipate that both will return tomorrow.

I am glad to report that many of you who missed the farmers’ market seemed to be up to some good. The Gardens Project website reports that their Spring Garden Blitz, last weekend’s push to get a number of community gardens into shape all at one, was a success.  Over 88 volunteers showed up and put in 299 hours improving 10 gardens across the county.  You can read about some of the specific improvements on their blog.

more→

The Looming Water Disaster That Could Destroy California, and Enrich Its Billionaire Farmers

In Around the web, Aw, ya selfish greedy bastards ya on March 24, 2010 at 7:09 pm

From ALTERNET
Thanks to Janie Sheppard and Michael Foley

[More Privatizing B.S. exposed. -DS]

There’s a disaster waiting to happen in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, and a handful of wealthy farmers seem to like it that way.

“That, in your own backyard there, is the scariest place after New Orleans.” — Geologist Nicholas Pinder’s description of the precarious situation in the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta after the hurricane Katrina disaster.

Imagine the devastating flooding of Hurricane Katrina multiplied by epic sandstorms, drought and economic collapse of the Dust Bowl. Now picture it happening an hour east of Apple’s headquarters in Silicon Valley and spreading all the way down to the Mexican border. It’s not as far-fetched as you think. A routine 6.7-magnitude earthquake would be enough to set it off, liquefying the decrepit levee system that walls off California’s main source of drinking water from the Pacific Ocean and triggering a deadly flood that would submerge roads, destroy homes, wipe out thousands of acres of farmland, kill countless numbers and possibly cut over 20 million Californians off from their water supply for a year or more.

California’s politicians have known about this looming catastrophe for decades. They also have had the power to neutralize the threat. But no one has done anything to prevent it.

Just like the oligarchs who used the shock of Hurricane Katrina’s destruction to tear down public housing, privatize public schools and pillage the city’s poorest, California’s most powerful business interests have positioned themselves to profit from this disaster. A handful of billionaire farmers and real estate developers are in line to pull off the most brazen water heist in American history, seizing control over much of Northern California’s water supplies and do what they have always wanted: turn water, a shared public resource, into a private asset that can be traded on the open market.

At the center of this epic water grab is the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, a Yosemite-sized patchwork of waterways and farmland an hour east of Oakland that sits atop California’s single largest water source. Formed by the confluence of state’s two largest rivers as they flow out to the San Francisco Bay, more than half of all rainfall and snowmelt drains through the Delta, supplying two-thirds of California with water and irrigating most of the state’s farmland… More at Alternet
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An Absence of Class

In Around the web on March 24, 2010 at 5:11 pm

From BOB HERBERT
NYT

Some of the images from the run-up to Sunday’s landmark health care vote in the House of Representatives should be seared into the nation’s consciousness. We are so far, in so many ways, from being a class act.

A group of lowlifes at a Tea Party rally in Columbus, Ohio, last week taunted and humiliated a man who was sitting on the ground with a sign that said he had Parkinson’s disease. The disgusting behavior was captured on a widely circulated videotape. One of the Tea Party protesters leaned over the man and sneered: “If you’re looking for a handout, you’re in the wrong end of town.”

Another threw money at the man, first one bill and then another, and said contemptuously, “I’ll pay for this guy. Here you go. Start a pot.”

In Washington on Saturday, opponents of the health care legislation spit on a black congressman and shouted racial slurs at two others, including John Lewis, one of the great heroes of the civil rights movement. Barney Frank, a Massachusetts Democrat who is chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, was taunted because he is gay.

At some point, we have to decide as a country that we just can’t have this: We can’t allow ourselves to remain silent as foaming-at-the-mouth protesters scream the vilest of epithets at members of Congress — epithets that The Times will not allow me to repeat here.

It is 2010, which means it is way past time for decent Americans to rise up against this kind of garbage, to fight it aggressively wherever it appears. And it is time for every American of good will to hold the Republican Party accountable for its role in tolerating, shielding and encouraging foul, mean-spirited and bigoted behavior in its ranks and among its strongest supporters.

For decades the G.O.P. has been the party of fear, ignorance and divisiveness. All you have to do is look around to see what it has done to the country. The greatest economic inequality since the Gilded Age was followed by a near-total collapse of the overall economy. As a country, we have a monumental mess on our hands and still the Republicans have nothing to offer in the way of a remedy except more tax cuts for the rich.

This is the party of trickle down and weapons of mass destruction, the party of birthers and death-panel lunatics. This is the party that genuflects at the altar of right-wing talk radio, with its insane, nauseating, nonstop commitment to hatred and bigotry.

more→

The Story of Bottled Water

In Around the web, BS Buzzer on March 23, 2010 at 3:03 pm

[More privatizing B.S. exposed. -DS]

See also The Story of Stuff and The Story of Cap & Trade here
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Are we prepared for whatever’s coming?

In Books, Climate Change Series on March 23, 2010 at 7:07 am

From ADBUSTERS

Just as in 1939 we had to give up on a massive scale the comfortable lifestyle of peacetime, so soon we may feel rich with only a quarter of what we consume now. If we do it right and with enthusiasm, it will not seem a depressing phase of denial but instead, as in 1940, a chance to redeem ourselves. For the young, life will be full of opportunities to serve, to create, and they will have a purpose for living.

- James Lovelock from The Vanishing Face of Gaia: A Final Warning

If people know anything about the British scientist James Lovelock, it is his theory of a living Earth, known as Gaia. Lovelock began formulating this revolutionary vision in the late 1960s while working at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. It was there, not far from the ground zero of West Coast counterculture, that he began to wonder: Might the Earth possess a sophisticated planetary intelligence, one that regulates the countless interactions of plants, animals, minerals, gases and the sun’s heat (all of the ingredients and products of ever-evolving life) in such a way as to maintain a climate homeostasis amenable to a lush, living planet? In short, does Mother Earth like life, and does she do her best to make us comfortable?

Once regarded as a quasi-mystical expression of longing more than a science-based insight, Lovelock’s theory has overcome the skepticism of his peers. Over the course of four decades of research and experiment, Gaia has officially graduated from a hypothesis to a theory. It is now widely accepted that the biosphere’s elements are no passive collection of independent actors responding to conditions but together form a living web that actively creates and maintains those conditions, including temperature. Lovelock has been compared to Copernicus and Darwin for fathering and nurturing the Gaia paradigm.

More at Adbusters
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Don’t Screw With The O-Man

In Around the web on March 22, 2010 at 12:09 pm

From ANDREW SULLIVAN

Clinton, McCain, Now The GOP…

And yet no-one seems to get it:

I watched Obama’s rise from Hyde Park over the last 15 yrs. Two things stand out: his political rivals almost always, and fatally, underestimate the guy’s abilities. I sense there’s some racism there, and his opponents always try to smear him as a “radical black guy” but Obama has always positioned himself above racial street fighting. The fact is, Obama is not just smart, he’s brilliant.

Second, the guy constantly fights a war of attrition, staying the course, keeping his cool, but applying constant steady pressure to the abutments of the opposition, and over time almost all of them crumble.

I don’t think conservatives have yet figured this out about a guy, who now, is their biggest danger to future political relevance. He’s grinding them, slowly, into dust.

It’s why I supported him. Because he was change; and because he actually thought change was needed for substantive reasons; and because he had proven his capacity not just to argue for change, but to persist in it, zigging and zagging, waiting and holding back, but still persisting…

[Some call it Rope-A-Dope... -DS]
~~

Mondragon: The Loving Society That Is Our Inevitable Future

In Around the web on March 22, 2010 at 6:36 am

From TERRY MOLLNER
Trusteeship Institute
See also The Myth of Self-Reliance
Thanks to Dave Pollard

My first visit to Mondragon was in 1979. I had been searching the globe for years for a Relationship Age society which was also fully integrated into the modern world. My initial reaction to Mondragon was utter amazement. I had never expected to find such a mature and comprehensive example.

The inspiration behind Mondragon was a Catholic priest who in his own way understood the difference between the Material Age (Newtonian) and Relationship Age (quantum) worldviews. From the beginning he was about the business of creating a society based on the latter.

His first assignment upon leaving the seminary in 1941 was to be an assistant pastor at the Catholic church in the small town of Mondragon which is high in the Pyrennes Mountains of northern Spain. Mondragon is in the Basque region and Father Don Jose Maria Arizmendiarrietta was Basque. This was just after the Spanish Civil War which had been won by General Francisco Franco and his fascist party.

Franco had had a difficult time defeating the Basques who had sided with the freely elected democratic socialist government against the fascists. If the democratic socialists won, the Basques had been promised an amicable separation from Spain so they could create their own nation. As a result, after the war Franco treated the Basques like an occupied nation. He even outlawed the Basque language. As you can imagine, this forged a strong bond among the Basques. This was on top of the deep solidarity which already exists within Basque society.

The rainfall in the Pyrennes is such that there has never been a drought. Thus the Basques have never had to migrate. They have lived in those mountains for as long as there has been recorded history. Also, their farming and village life has been based on consensual democratic policies for as long as they can remember. At the same time, they have always been dominated by other people. These conditions, plus a unique language and common religion, have forged a deep feeling of family among the Basque people.

So Father Arizmendi, not only a devout Catholic but also a devout Basque, set about building a Relationship Age society by extending into more sophisticated realms the Relationship Age values more→

America’s Teacher

In Around the web on March 21, 2010 at 8:33 am

From NAOMI KLEIN
Nation Magazine

[Capitalism: A Love Story, just out for rental from Netflix. Although Moore's solution to  our current version of Capitalism is more democracy, he fails to explain the difference between Monopoly Capitalism and Small Is Beautiful Capitalism. The wingnuts, in their simplistic, either/or, black and white world, love to scream "socialism" over and over, misunderstanding that we have always had a mixed economy of socialism and capitalism, and the struggle is the balance between the two. The problems currently are our Presidents' failures, since Reagan, to enforce our anti-monopoly laws, and they have devastated our world economy with their Shock Doctrine. Where huge, transnational companies supposedly save consumers money through "economies of scale" with the neo-cons so-called "free market", we now know that banks, food companies, health insurance companies, etc. are hugely inefficient and can only survive through fraud (privatizing public commonwealth, etc.) and subsidization. To continue after the health care victory, America must now de-monopolize our economy to allow local Small Is Beautiful Capitalism entrepreneuring to flourish; re-institute tariffs to level the playing field with other countries; and halt the privatization of our publicly-owned commonwealth. Let's push the greedy snakes back in their holes, or into jail, and create jobs in a new, green economy. -DS]
~

Naomi Klein:
So, the film is wonderful. Congratulations. It is, as many people have already heard, an unapologetic call for a revolt against capitalist madness. But the week it premiered, a very different kind of revolt was in the news: the so-called tea parties, seemingly a passionate defense of capitalism and against social programs.

Meanwhile, we are not seeing too many signs of the hordes storming Wall Street. Personally, I’m hoping that your film is going to be the wake-up call and the catalyst for all of that changing. But I’m just wondering how you’re coping with this odd turn of events, these revolts for capitalism led by Glenn Beck.

Michael Moore: I don’t know if they’re so much revolts in favor of capitalism as they are being fueled by a couple of different agendas, one being the fact that a number of Americans still haven’t come to grips with the fact that there’s an African-American who is their leader. And I don’t think they like that…

More at The Nation
~~

Obama, Lehman and ‘The Dragon Tattoo’

In Around the web on March 21, 2010 at 7:34 am

From FRANK RICH
New York Times

The same week that Lehman Brothers collapsed in September 2008, a Swedish crime novel titled “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo” was published in America. The book didn’t receive a ton of hype, not least because the author, a journalist named Stieg Larsson, was unavailable for interviews; he had died in 2004 of a heart attack at the age of 50. The mixed Times review appeared in the back pages of the Sunday Book Review. Many more readers were riveted instead by the Lehman article on that morning’s front page: “A Wall Street Goliath Teeters Amid Fears of a Widening Crisis.”

Larsson’s novel, the first of a “Millennium” trilogy he left behind, would nonetheless soar onto best-seller lists in America, as it has in much of the world. It remains a best seller 18 months later, even as the first of what may be two movie adaptations opens this weekend. In the many dissections of this literary phenomenon, much has been said about Larsson’s striking title character, a brilliant, if antisocial, 24-year-old female computer hacker who bonds with a middle-age male journalist to crack a chain of horrific crimes against Swedish women. Strangely, far less attention has been paid to the equally prominent villains in this novel — whether they literally commit murder or not. They are, without exception, bankers and industrialists. At the time of its American release, “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo” was far more topical than most anyone could imagine.

“A bank director who blows millions on foolhardy speculations should not keep his job,” writes Larsson in one typical passage. “A managing director who plays shell company games should do time.” Larsson is no less lacerating about influential journalists who treat “mediocre financial whelps like rock stars” and who docilely “regurgitate the statements issued by C.E.O.’s and stock-market speculators.” He pleads for some “tough reporter” to “identify and expose as traitors” the financial players who have “systematically and perhaps deliberately” damaged their country’s economy “to satisfy the profit interests of their clients.”

What’s remarkable is that Larsson wrote all this in a book completed years before the meltdown of 2008 — and was referring only to Sweden. And yet the overlap with our recent history is profound…

More at NYT
~~

Joan Gussow, Matriarch of the Organic Movement

In Around the web, Organic Food & Recipes on March 20, 2010 at 9:42 pm

From EDIBLE MANHATTAN

A woman who wouldn’t stop asking questions, and her seminal role in today’s food fight.

Last spring, when hundreds of alums and faculty of the nutrition program of Columbia University Teachers College gathered to commemorate the department’s 100th anniversary, one speaker riveted the audience. Shoulders back, patrician chin jutting forward, Joan Gussow strode toward the stage. A recent octogenarian, she remains in remarkable shape.

“Good morning. I don’t come with slides,” the seasoned speaker quipped to immediate laughter. “But I have to say that if anyone told me 35 years ago that I would be speaking after a Manhattan borough president had talked about New York City’s foodshed, I would have thought they were smoking dope.” More laughter and applause. “So this is a thrilling moment for me.”

Thrilling because for the past 40 years-half her life-Gussow, a longtime occupant of the Mary Swartz Rose chair of the college’s Nutrition Program, the oldest in the nation, has been waging a tireless war against the industrialization of the American food system. Long before mad cow, avian flu, E. coli or the “diabesity” epidemic made headlines, Gussow foretold the impacts of the post-modern diet on public health, ecology and culture, “depressing generations of graduate students,” as she now puts it, with the news that “life as they knew it was not sustainable, and destined to come to an end unless we urgently changed our ways.” And along the way she didn’t just lay the foundation for modern-day locavores. She also challenged nutritionists everywhere to look up from their microscopes to see the cafeteria, the factory farm and beyond.

“In many places we have begun serious dialogues about the corporate malnourishment of our children,” she told the crowd last spring. “We have painfully begun to fix school lunch, and we have a family in the White House that is publicly committed to local, organic food and has begun digging up part of our national lawn for a vegetable garden.  It is hard to not yield to a kind of heart-lifting optimism.”

More at Edible Manhattan
~~

Why We’re Fat and Why To Buy Locally-Grown Food

In Around Mendo Island, Around the web, Organic Food & Recipes on March 19, 2010 at 6:11 am

From THE CONSUMERIST

Click Here To Enlarge
~

Get Off The Fat Train That Features Chemical Industrial Food, and Get Healthy With Fresh, Locally Grown Organic Food

YOU’LL GET EXCEPTIONAL TASTE AND FRESHNESS
Local food is fresher and tastes better than food shipped long distances from other states or countries. Local farmers can offer produce varieties bred for taste and freshness rather than for shipping and long shelf life.

YOU’LL STRENGTHEN OUR LOCAL ECONOMY
Buying local food keeps your dollars circulating in our community. Getting to know the farmers who grow our food builds relationships based on understanding and trust, the foundation of strong communities.

YOU’LL SUPPORT ENDANGERED FAMILY FARMS
There’s never been a more critical time to support our farming neighbors. With each local food purchase, you ensure that more of your money spent on food goes to the farmer.

YOU’LL SAFEGUARD YOUR FAMILY’S HEALTH
Knowing where our food comes from and how it is grown or raised enables us to choose safe food from farmers who avoid or reduce their use of chemicals, pesticides, hormones, antibiotics, or genetically modified seed in their operations. Buy food from local farmers you trust.

YOU’LL PROTECT THE ENVIRONMENT
Local food doesn’t have to travel far. This reduces carbon dioxide emissions and packing materials. Buying local food also helps to make farming more profitable and selling farmland for development less attractive.

BUYING LOCAL IS EASY
Our Farmers Markets are now opening year-round locally, our Co-op features locally-grown produce, and our CSA’s (here, here, and here) are serving up local organic abundance.

When we buy local food, we vote with our food dollar. This ensures that family farms in our community will continue to thrive and that healthy, flavorful, plentiful food will be available for local future generations.
~~

Local Slaughterhouses Come Back To Life

In Around the web on March 19, 2010 at 5:36 am

From SAMUEL FROMARTZ
Washington Post

HARRISONBURG, VA. — Huddled in a small pen in the slaughterhouse, the four sheep and two goats were quiet and still. A few men nearby in thick rubber aprons cut away at still-warm carcasses hanging on hooks.

“They don’t seem to know what’s going on,” a visitor remarked.

“Oh, they know,” one of the butchers replied. “They know.”

Maybe it was that awareness that led the men to work quietly and efficiently, dispatching each animal with a bolt shot to the head, until the last sheep, perhaps realizing that the flock was gone, began to bleat. Then she too fell silent.

So began the hard work of turning the animals into meat. The process is usually hidden from view, so that all consumers see is a steak or chop in a shrink-wrapped package. But at True & Essential Meats, one of about a dozen small slaughterhouses in the state that work with local farms, even school classes have visited the kill floor.

Co-owner and manager Joe Cloud, a 52-year-old former landscape architect from Seattle who bought the plant in mid-2008, welcomes visitors so they can see what’s at stake, for the eater and the eaten. “It is a slaughterhouse, but I’m not going to shrink from showing who we are and what we do,” Cloud said. “The industry has walled it off and is in a defensive crouch. I want to be different.”

Cloud is riding a wave of consumer demand for meat from local farms, which has burgeoned along with the rash of deadly E. coli food poisoning incidents, hamburger recalls and undercover videos about grossly inhumane practices at a few large plants. Prominent chefs, who work with farmers and processors like T&E to get high-quality meat, have also championed the products.

For farmers, the sales are alluring; they make more money per animal when they sell direct, even if these channels represent less than 2 percent of all meat sales…

More at Washington Post
~~

The Growing Movement for Publicly-Owned Banks

In Around the web on March 18, 2010 at 10:44 pm

From ELLEN BROWN
WebOfDebt.com

As the states’ credit crisis deepens, four states have initiated bills for state-owned banks, and candidates in seven states have now included that solution in their platforms.

“Hundreds of job-creating projects are still on hold because Michigan businesses and entrepreneurs cannot get bank financing. We can break the credit crunch and beat Wall Street at their own game by keeping our money right here in Michigan and investing it to retool our economy and create jobs.”

–Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero in the Detroit News, May 9, 2010

Struggling with 14% unemployment, Michigan has been particularly hard hit by the nation’s economic downturn. Virg Bernero, mayor of the state’s capitol and a leading Democratic candidate for governor, proposes that the state relieve its economic ills by opening a state-owned bank. He says the bank could protect consumers by making low-interest loans to those most in need, including students and small businesses; and could help community banks by buying mortgages off their books and working with them to fund development projects.

Bernero joins a growing list of candidates proposing this sensible solution to their states’ fiscal ills. Local economies have collapsed because of the Wall Street credit freeze. To reinvigorate local business, Main Street needs a heavy infusion of credit; and publicly-owned banks could fill that need.

A February posting tracked candidates in five states running on a state-bank platform and one state with a bill pending (Massachusetts). There are now three more bills on the rolls – in Washington State, Illinois and Michigan – and two more candidates on the list of proponents (joining Bernero is Gaelan Brown of Vermont). That brings the total to seven candidates in as many states (Florida, Oregon, Illinois, California, Washington State, Vermont, and Idaho), including three Democrats, two Greens, one Republican and one Independent.

The Independent, Vermont’s Gaelan Brown, says on his website, “Washington DC has lost all moral authority over Vermont.” He maintains that:

“Vermont should explore creating a State-owned bank that would work with private VT-based banks, to insulate VT from Wall Street corruption, more→

Why Does Congress want me to Shun my Local Bookstore and Shop Online Instead?

In Around the web on March 17, 2010 at 10:47 pm

From STACY MITCHELL
New Rules Project

Portland, Maine  —  It’s always a relief this time of year to find that my local bookstore has emerged from the crucial holiday retail season still standing. Longfellow Books, named after Portland’s famous 19th century poet, is the only bookstore selling new, general-interest titles left in this small city. I can hardly imagine getting through Maine’s long winter months deprived of its weekly author events or the pleasure of an hour spent browsing the latest staff picks. Longfellow Books nourishes Portland’s cultural life and also its economy. The store anchors a key downtown block, has helped many a budding local author, and provides a livelihood for six of my fellow Portlanders.

All of this makes it hard to understand Congress’s long-standing policy of steering customers away from Longfellow Books by providing a substantial financial incentive to shop at Amazon instead.

Like all bricks-and-mortar stores, Longfellow Books is required to collect Maine’s 5 percent sales tax. Amazon.com is not. Five percent is a titanic advantage in the thin-margined world of retailing. It’s worse in other states like California, where Amazon’s government-bestowed competitive edge rises to nearly 10 percent.

Over the years, there have been four primary arguments made in favor of this grossly inequitable policy.

The first one dates to 1992, when the U.S. Supreme Court, mindful that 45 states and thousands of local jurisdictions levy sales taxes, ruled that requiring a catalog company to collect taxes in states where it has no physical presence would impose too much of a burden on interstate commerce. The Court, however, explicitly opened the door for Congress to conclude otherwise, noting that “the ultimate power” to decide the issue rested with lawmakers.

Nearly 20 years later, technology has both radically expanded long-distance retailing and eliminated the concerns that underpinned the court’s decision. more→

Can’t Buy Me Love

In Around the web on March 17, 2010 at 7:09 am

From Telegraph.co.uk

Money can’t buy you happiness, economists find. Inhabitants of wealthy countries tend to grow more miserable as their economy grows richer, according to research.

Economists Curtis Eaton and Mukesh Eswaran found that while the richest people, such as footballers and bankers, could perk themselves up with a new pair of designer shoes or a sophisticated mobile phone.

However, the bulk of the population who were unable to afford the latest status symbols were left unhappier by their inability to keep up.

As countries become wealthier, more value is attached to objects which are not strictly necessary for comfortable living, the researchers claim.

People are then drawn into keeping up with the Joneses which results in less happiness for those who cannot afford the newest “must-have” items even if their wealth has increased.

The nation’s sense of “community and trust” can then be damaged which, in turn, can affect the wider economy, the experts argued.

Prof Eaton, of the University of Calgary, and Prof Eswaran, of the University of British Columbia, concluded that, beyond the point of reasonable affluence, greater riches can make a nation collectively worse off.

In their research, published in the Economic Journal, they said: “These goods represent a ‘zero-sum game’ for society: they satisfy the owners, making them appear wealthy, but everyone else is left feeling worse off.

“Conspicuous consumption can have an impact not only on people’s well-being but also on the growth prospects of the economy.”

The Canadian research follows in the footsteps of the 19th century Norwegian-American economist Thorstein Veblen.

Prof Veblen coined the term “conspicuous consumption” and said it was a method by which people seek to set themselves apart.
~~

Women’s History Month Celebrated In Ukiah Last Sunday (3/14/10)

In Dave Smith on March 16, 2010 at 10:22 pm

Ukiah Poet Laureate Theresa Whitehill with honorees
Katarzyna Rolzinski, Molly Dwyer, and Peg Kingman

From ANNIE ESPOSITO
Ukiah

The Women’s History Month celebration in Ukiah was this Sunday (3/14). It’s a great tribute to originator Val Muchowski that the event is now in its 27th year.

This year’s honorees were local women authors Peg Kingman and Molly Dwyer, and women’s history scholar Katarzyna Rolzinksi.

Vivian Sotomayor Power presents Neil Bell with an appreciation
of his late wife Susan Bell, for her extensive help in the community

The Developing Virtue Girls’ School Orchestra
playing traditional Chinese instruments

Kingman talked about the fun of writing a novel – a piece of fiction.  She actually did do a lot of research around her new novel, “Not Yet Drown’d.”  She got a laugh by saying that research is her favorite form of procrastination.  more→

Take Action! Tonight Wednesday 3/17/10 City Council Meeting. Why don’t school austerity programs apply to the Board and Top Brass of the Ukiah Unified School District?

In !ACTION CENTER!, Around Mendo Island on March 15, 2010 at 8:50 pm

From AVA PETERSON
Redwood Valley

[We have laid off teachers, school closures, unfunded pensions, and budget pain. We have empty school buildings and other surplus buildings such as the former Montgomery Ward site. Yet the UUSD wants $3,000,000 for a brand new luxury Taj Mahal to house the school administration? "Use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without." Stop this foolish waste of critical and needed resources! -DS]

Open Letter to the City of Ukiah Redevelopment Agency & the Ukiah Unified School District

RE: 1 ) The Request by the Ukiah Unified School District for Redevelopment Funds

2 ) The Transfer of Property from the City of Ukiah to the Ukiah Unified School District-Oak Manor Park

Ukiah Redevelopment Agency Meeting Date:  March 17, 2010 8:00 P.M. Ukiah City Hall

In a letter dated January 20, 2010, the Ukiah Unified School District requested that the Ukiah Redevelopment Agency approve $3,000,000 for construction of a new two-story District Administration Office at 925 North State Street, Ukiah, CA 95482. This idea should be defeated by the Ukiah Redevelopment Agency for the following reasons:

1 ) The Brush Street and Low Gap Road intersection is a bottleneck due to the lack of left hand turn signals at this location.  It is heavily used by the Mendocino County offices located on Low Gap Road and by Ukiah High School teachers and students who must use Low Gap Road to reach the high school or leave that area.

2 ) The parking at the UHS administration building is highly limited and the entrances and exits are difficult to negotiate during peak traffic times and when public meetings are held at the District office.

more→

Seeing

In Around the web on March 15, 2010 at 8:48 pm

From DON SANDERSON
Mendocino County

There are two ways to live your life:

One is as though nothing is a miracle;

The other is as if everything is.

I believe in the latter.

— Albert Einstein

Wondrous tales about the Australian Aborigines’ Dreamtime are often related. While I can provide no names or dates, I’ve been assured the following true. A certain anthropologist specialized in Aborigine culture. Some time ago, he went on a long walkabout with an Aborigine guide. Several years later, he heard unbelievable stories about an Aborigine tracker. When the anthropologist later met the man, he asked whether the tracker could follow the walkabout track he had earlier followed. The tracker said that he could and in fact did with great exactness. The amazed anthropologist asked how this was possible. It was easy, the tracker explained, he had simply walked beside the two men as they made their original traverse.

Australian Zoltan Torey “replaced the entire roof guttering of [his] multi-gabled home single-handed”. What alarmed his neighbors was that he did so in the middle of a dark night and he was and is blind. As he describes in his “Out of Darkness”, in 1951 when he was 21, he loosening the plug in a vat of acid at the chemical factory where he worked. In a moment, a flood of acid engulfed his face and he saw his last sparkle of light. Rather than lose memory of his sight, he determined to maintain a vivid imagination of the world about and constantly reinforce it with his remaining senses. Since, he understood that the imagination can run away with itself, Torey took pains to check the accuracy of his images by every means available. “I learned,” he writes, “to hold the image in a tentative way, conferring credibility and status on it only when some information would tip the balance in its favor.” Torey’s successes extended far beyond what sight would have provided. He became able “to imagine, to visualize, for example, the inside of a differential gearbox in action as if from inside its casing.” more→

The Big Banks want you back. Yeah, see you later Alligator…

In Around the web, Aw, ya selfish greedy bastards ya, BS Buzzer on March 15, 2010 at 8:30 pm

From The New Rules Project

Those who wonder whether public anger at big banks and the Move Your Money sentiment sweeping the country is substantial enough to impact these giants need only look at the banks’ own marketing over the last few weeks to see the proof.

In a spate of new advertisements and PR maneuvers, the nation’s largest banks are working hard to win us back. They are, in effect, standing on our doorstep, flowers in hand, trying to convince us they’ve changed.

They’re using words like “local” and “community,” because they know quite well that there’s a rival for our affections. A recent Zogby poll found that nearly one in ten Americans had moved at least some of their business to small banks or credit unions.

One jilted lover, Citibank, has launched a blog devoted to showcasing the “new Citi.” The site, which Citibank is promoting through newspaper and magazine ads, features a video statement by CEO Vikram Pandit, who offers a few vaguely apologetic statements before detailing how Citi is a changed bank.

We’ve given up boozing and gambling, Citibank seems to be saying as Pandit assures us that the new Citi has embraced “a culture of responsible finance.”

In his opening post, Pandit describes this as a “new chapter” and invites us to participate in a conversation. “We promise we’re listening,” he writes.

So far, many of the user comments, which are moderated, appear to come from Citibank investors, but a few disgruntled customers have managed to get through. “What Cit has done to ‘help’ me in the last year: interest rate increase to 29 percent!” writes Peter. “I have never been late with a payment… [You have] a total lack of caring toward your customer base.” more→

Switching to Grass-Fed Beef

In Around the web on March 15, 2010 at 5:02 am

From TARA PARKER-POPE
NYT

[Just another way to keep us healthier and the cattle we eat healthier. Note that the proposed Mendocino feed lot/slaughter would be fattening cattle before slaughter as well as far as I know. -RP]

What’s the nutritional difference between beef from animals raised on grass compared with animals fattened in feedlots?

New research from California State University in Chico breaks it down, reviewing three decades of research comparing the nutritional profiles of grass-fed and grain-fed beef.

Over all, grass-fed beef comes out ahead, according to the report in the latest Nutrition Journal. Beef from grass-fed animals has lower levels of unhealthy fats and higher levels of omega-3 fatty acids, which are better for cardiovascular health. Grass-fed beef also has lower levels of dietary cholesterol and offers more vitamins A and E as well as antioxidants. The study found that meat from animals raised entirely on grass also had about twice the levels of conjugated linoleic acid, or CLA, isomers, which may have cancer fighting properties and lower the risk of diabetes and other health problems.

While the analysis is favorable to grass-fed beef, it’s not clear whether the nutritional differences in the two types of meat have any meaningful impact on human health. For instance, the levels of healthful omega-3s are still far lower than those found in fatty fish like salmon. And as the study authors note, consumers of grain-fed beef can increase their levels of healthful CLAs by eating slightly fattier cuts.

Grass-fed beef has a distinctly different and “grassy” flavor compared with feed-lot beef and also costs more. A recent comparison in The Village Voice cooked up one-pound grass-fed and grain-fed steaks. The grass-fed meat tasted better, according to the article, but at $26 a pound, also cost about three times more.

More at NYT
~
See also Boosting Health With Local Food at NYT→

…and Grass-Fed Basics at EatWild→
~~

Again: Slaughter On The Farm With Mobile Units!

In Dave Smith, Mendo Slaughterhouse on March 13, 2010 at 10:05 pm

From CIVIL EATS

[As we have been advocating for several years, mobile units are the best alternative for local meat. We do not want a regional slaughterhouse that processes hundreds of animals a day to supply distant markets. That is a no-go. Rather, keep it small, decentralized, on the farms, and local. Compost the waste on the farms. Here is some history, and here is the answer for our local ranchers. Follow the links. Also, see Scott Cratty's comments below. -DS]

As supporters of sustainable food production, many of us know that finding an alternative to the industrial meat supply chain is difficult but by no means impossible.  For the typical sustainable meat buyer, when one thinks of local meat, he most likely pictures a ranch, and then a steak or pork chop.  Unless he is willing to do the work of slaughtering and processing the animal himself, his access to a local abattoir is as difficult to find as local beer without the brewery. This is the marketplace reality that many small-scale ranchers face today.

As the daughter of a former butcher, I recently asked myself how we got ourselves to large-scale meat processing and what our alternatives are. Giant feedlots that truck thousands of cattle to large-scale processing facilities have not always been the favored manner of putting steaks on plates in the U.S. Rapid consolidation in the U.S. meatpacking industry, starting in the late 1970s, greatly impacted the way meat began to be produced, packaged, sold and consumed in the U.S. Earlier, in the 1950s, 60s and 70s, there were many independently owned and operated meatpacking plants that catered to local customers within a few hundred miles of their facilities.

My parents operated one such plant just outside of Eugene, OR from 1980-86. They slaughtered about 100 head of sheep and cattle per week (primarily animals raised on our ranch) and sold the meat to restaurants and hotels in Oregon and Washington.  more→

The World of Community Supported Agriculture

In Around the web on March 13, 2010 at 7:30 pm

From CHELSEA GREEN
Keynote for Urgenci Kobe Conference 2010, “Community Supported Foods and Farming”
February 22, 2010

All the way around the world in countries as diverse as the United States, Japan, France, China or Mali, people who farm and people who eat are forming communities around locally grown food. Community Supported Agriculture (CSA), Teikei, AMAP, Reciproco, ASC – the names may be different but the essence is the same. Active citizens are making a commitment to local farms to share the risks and the bounty of ecological farming. Elizabeth Henderson at NOFA NY 2010A century of “development” has broken the connection between people and the land where their food is grown and in many countries, north and south, a few decades of free trade have driven family-scale farms to the point of desperation. A long series of food scandals – illnesses from food-borne pathogens, milk and other products contaminated with GMOs and chemical pollutants – have led to a crisis of confidence in imported foods from industrial-scale farms. CSA offers a return to wholeness, health and economic viability.

Human history abounds in examples of specific groups of non-farmers being connected with specific farms—the medieval manor, the Soviet system of linking a farm with a factory, or the steady attachment of particular customers to the stand of a particular farm at a farmers’ market. In Cuba today, all institutions are obliged to be self-sufficient in food, so companies and schools have farms or garden plots. But none of these is like the form of organization we refer to as CSA.

The modern CSA originated in Japan. In 1971, Teruo Ichiraku (1906–1994), a philosopher and a leader of agricultural cooperatives, alerted consumers to the dangers of the chemicals used in agriculture and set off the movement for an organic agriculture. Three years later, concerned housewives joined with farmers to form the first Teikei projects. That same year, Yoshinori Kaneko realized that his family farm, besides providing for the subsistence of his own family, could also supply other people… More at Chelsea Green
~~

Round 2

In Around Mendo Island on March 12, 2010 at 9:07 am

From DAVID ROUNDS
Ukiah

[A teachable moment. -DS]

To the editor:

Having read and studied Mark Albrecht’s and John Hendricks’ “Issues preference test,” in Sunday’s Journal, I’m inclined to give myself a grade of “Conservative, Republican.” But I have a few questions for clarification, just to make sure I’m understanding all the vocab on the test. Here goes!

Pro-life:

This is the one I had to work on first. I’ll admit it took me a minute or two. Everybody knows that being “pro-life” is a code-word for being against abortion, but sometimes women die in childbirth when abortions would have saved their lives. So sometimes pro-life means pro-the-opposite. Probably that explains why pro-life folks tend to support the idea that an unnecessary war can be good for the country — provided, of course, that it involves the death of a sufficient number of other people’s children. And, too, usually it’s the people who are pro-life who see no need for health care reform, because they know that if people without health insurance get sick or injured, there’s the comfort that death is always going to be right there ready for them. I put myself down as pro-life.

Rule of Law:

I’m certainly in favor of this one, because people who support the rule of law give thanks on bended knee once a month, as I do, for all the red-blooded American guys and gals out there who love to torture.

Rule-of-law folks like things to be official, and so that’s why they’re so totally behind the big new push to get beating up gay people adopted as an official Olympic sport.

Rule-of-law folks believe that terrorists should not be tried in open court because our criminal justice system is just too namby-pamby weak to handle this type of open-and-shut murder case. They also believe that when the founding fathers wrote in the Constitution that people accused of crimes had the right to a fair trial, they can’t have meant to include everybody. more→

Ban The Billboards! Go Phil!!!

In Around Mendo Island on March 12, 2010 at 8:58 am

From The Ukiah Daily Pablum

City Council urges Supes to ban billboards in the Ukiah valley area

The Ukiah City Council voted unanimously Wednesday to call on the Mendocino County Board of Supervisors to ban new billboards along the Highway 101 corridor that runs through the county and past the city.

Councilman Phil Baldwin called the number of billboards along the portion of the highway that borders the city “embarrassing,” and brought the issue to the council for discussion.

He said there are 27 billboards along Highway 101 between Hopland and Highway 20, compared to fewer than 10 along the 101 in Sonoma County, and only 10 along Interstate 5 through all of Oregon.

Baldwin noted that Ukiah banned billboards 40 years ago, and has only one inside city limits, but travelers passing through the Ukiah Valley on Highway 101 see “several dozen” CBS and Stott billboards.

“And while these huge placards aren’t in the city, out-of-towners and locals associate this shameless blight with Ukiah,” Baldwin wrote in his letter to his fellow councilmembers.

The city wrote a letter to the Board of Supervisors in 2000 asking the body to “become more rigorous in its efforts to protect the Highway 101 corridor,” but did not ask for an outright ban on new billboards, according to Baldwin.

Baldwin said the state and courts made it very difficult for local jurisdictions to get rid of existing billboards, but haven’t limited local government’s authority to ban new billboards.
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From ROSALIND PETERSON

Congratulations to the Ukiah City Council for urging the Mendocino County Board of Supervisors to Ban Billboards in the Ukiah Valley Area. In addition, Mendocino County should ban unsightly billboards throughout our county as many are unsightly, rusting, illegal with new width and height increases, and even advertise for making purchases outside of the County.

more→

Pigs

In Around the web on March 12, 2010 at 8:04 am

From BILL MOYERS & MICHAEL WINSHIP
Common Dreams

Living in these United States, there comes a point at which you throw your hands up in exasperation and despair and ask a fundamental question or two: how much excess profit does corporate America really need? How much bigger do executive salaries and bonuses have to be, how many houses or jets or artworks can be crammed into a life?

After all, as billionaire movie director Steven Spielberg is reported to have said, when all is said and done, “How much better can lunch get?”

But since greed is not self-governing, hardly anyone raking in the dough ever stops to say, “That’s it. Enough’s enough! How do we prevent it from sweeping up everything in its path, including us?”

Look at the health care industry saying to hell with consumers and then hiking premiums — by as much as 39% in the case of Anthem Blue Cross in California. According to congressional investigators, over a two-year period Anthem’s parent company WellPoint spent more than $27 million dollars for executive retreats at luxury resorts. And in 2008, WellPoint paid 39 of its executives more than a million dollars each. Profit before patients.

This week, America’s Health Insurance Plans (AHIP), the health insurance industry’s lobby, announced they’d be spending more than a million dollars on new television ads justifying their costs.

Speaking at their annual policy meeting in Washington — and without a trace of irony — AHIP’s president and CEO Karen Ignagni declared, “The current debate about rising premiums has demonstrated that, in fact, we have a health care cost crisis in this country. Unfortunately, the path that has been followed is one of vilification rather than problem solving.”

Beg pardon? You’re lamenting a health care cost crisis and raising your premiums? Isn’t that like the guy complaining there’s an obesity epidemic in America while ordering a double Big Mac with extra fries?

more→

An Oscar for America’s Hubris

In Around the web on March 10, 2010 at 8:22 am

From ROBERT SCHEER
TruthDig
Thanks to Sean Re

What a shame that the one movie about the Iraq war that has a chance of being viewed by a large worldwide audience should be so disappointing. According to press reports, members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences finally found a movie about the Iraq war they liked because it is “apolitical.” Actually, “The Hurt Locker” is just the opposite; it’s an endorsement of the politically chauvinistic view that the world is a stage upon which Americans get to deal with their demons no matter the consequence for others.

It is imperial hubris turned into an art form in which the Iraqi people appear as numbed bystanders when they are not deranged extras. It is a perverse tribute to the film’s accuracy in portraying the insanity of the U.S. invasion—while ignoring its root causes—that the Iraqis are at no point treated as though they are important.

They never have been, at least in the American view. No Iraqi had anything to do with attacking us on 9/11, and while we are happy to have an excuse to grab their oil and deploy our bloated military arsenal, the people of Iraq are never more than an afterthought. Whatever motivates Iraqi characters in the movie to throw stones or blow themselves up is unimportant, for they are nothing more than props for a uniquely American-centered show. It is we who matter and they who are graced by our presence no matter how screwed up we may be.

Indeed, the only recognition of the humanity of the people being conquered comes in a brief glimpse of a young boy, a porn video seller, the one Iraqi whose existence touches the concern of the film’s reckless soldier hero…

More at TruthDig
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Eco-Grain? 100% Natural? Saving The Earth? Better Than Organic? Phony Balony!

In BS Buzzer on March 10, 2010 at 7:04 am


From MICHAEL LAYBOURN
Hopland

I was reading National Geographic this morning and noticed an ad the featured something called Eco Grain. “What in tarnation is Eco Grain?” the headline said.

Well, according to the ad, it is grown on special farms in Idaho “thanks to a more sustainable farming approach.”

Sounds good to me, I thought, I might get some of this Earthgrain bread. But, wait, maybe I should check this out a little more carefully.

What an ad, tailored for those eco libs that read National Geographic: “The Eco Grain Movement is starting small, but with your help won’t stay that way. ..You’re probably going the store anyway, so why not do a good deed while you’re at it? By simply buying our…. “ “So do the earth a favor…”

I decided to look up this eco grain phrase and found this, by Barry Shlachter:

Sara Lee’s EarthGrains brand has launched an “environmentally friendly” line of bread with a marketing blitz that describes itself as a “plot to save the earth, one field at a time.”

more→

Who Broke America’s Job Machine?

In Around the web on March 9, 2010 at 11:04 pm

From NEW AMERICA FOUNDATION
Thanks to Thom Hartmann Program

Why creeping consolidation is crushing American livelihoods.

[As mentioned in the video discussion - see below - the original Tea Party was NOT an anti-tax rebellion; it was an anti-monopoly rebellion. To create jobs, we  must first down-scale, de-centralize,  de-monopolize and de-privatize, because that is where all our jobs have been killed. Jimmy Carter broke up AT&T. Obama needs to enforce the law that Ronald Reagan and those after him stopped enforcing, and breakup these monsters that gobble up more and more companies and common wealth as they fire workers and deprive small business entrepreneurs of capital and markets. Start with the hideous Big Box slave emporiums and Food  monopolists so locals have some breathing room to innovate. -DS]

If any single number captures the state of the American economy over the last decade, it is zero. That was the net gain in jobs between 1999 and 2009—nada, nil, zip. By painful contrast, from the 1940s through the 1990s, recessions came and went, but no decade ended without at least a 20 percent increase in the number of jobs.

Many people blame the great real estate bubble of recent years. The idea here is that once a bubble pops it can destroy more real-world business activity—and jobs—than it creates as it expands. There is some truth to this. But it doesn’t explain why, even when the real estate bubble was at its most inflated, so few jobs were created compared to the tech-stock bubble of the late ’90s. more→

Pasta and Beans

In Organic Food & Recipes on March 9, 2010 at 8:44 am

From Culinate.com

Have you tried this Italian staple?

Whether pasta e fagioli — literally, pasta and beans — is an Italian soup with pasta in it or a pasta sauced with beans is a matter of proportion and preference. I like it as a soup thick with beans and pasta.
Featured recipes

* Pasta e Fagioli alla Fiorentina
* Pasta e Fagioli alla Veneta
* Pasta and Bean Soup (Pasta e Fagioli)

The notion of two starches combining to become an Italian staple at first seems difficult to fathom. But try pasta e fagioli. This dish of modest ingredients is capable of providing great pleasure and satisfaction.

Creamy beans give way to pasta’s toothsome give. Seasonings of aromatic rosemary, tangy tomato, garlic, and sometimes pancetta or prosciutto infuse the mellow beans. As they cook, the beans exude a silky broth that absorbs garnishes of green olive oil and Parmesan cheese.

When I want to make soup into a one-dish dinner, I turn to pasta e fagioli. Its ingredients are easy to find or make substitutions for. Its bean-and-grain combo provides a vegetarian protein. Making it can be as easy as simmering cannellini beans with garlic, tomato, and rosemary, and then cooking a short, hollow pasta such as tubetti or macaroni in the beans.

When I want vegetables, too, I serve bowlfuls with a small pile of garlicky sautéed greens on top. Kale, dandelions, or broccoli rabe are good choices. I have also added cubes of the last of the winter squash to the simmering beans, with rich results.

The only deal-breaker to making a decent pasta e fagioli is that you have to begin with dried beans. There is no way around this…

More at Culinate
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Why Eating Meat-Shaped Vegetarian Food Is Like Having Sex with a Blow-up Doll

In Around the web on March 8, 2010 at 9:35 pm

From ANNELI RUFUS
AlterNet

We’re living in a time when you can eat fake meat that tastes so real you’d swear an animal had to die for it.

It’s not meat, but it looks like meat.

It’s not meat, but it tastes like meat.

It’s not meat, but it feels like meat.

It’s not meat, but the more it looks and tastes and feels like meat, the more eating it is like having sex with rubber blow-up dolls: Both are the simulacra of primal adventures for which we are born and built. For very different reasons, in each case we choose the version without flesh and blood.

One skill that sets apart our species from all others is counterfeiture: We excel at fashioning imitations, simulations, analogues. Whatever we don’t or can’t — or tell ourselves that we don’t or can’t — possess, we make a fake to replicate. We are so good at this as to have changed the very meaning of reality. So just as sex with blow-up dolls — and, to be all-inclusive, latex rods — is sex, and sounds and feels and looks (just squint) like sex, fake meat is real. It’s real fake meat.

When we quit eating animals, why keep eating what looks/tastes/feels like animals? What is it that we still yearn for from meat, about meat, in fake meat? Lifetimes of barbecues and baseball games and beach parties and holidays have programmed our nostrils to flare at the sweet-salt smell of seared fat before our consciences kick into gear and holler No. When bacon curls, our salivary glands perk up unbidden, just like being publicly aroused in middle school. When we choose fakes, what battles rage inside our bodies and our heads?

More at AlterNet
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Locavores – Eating Local

In Around the web on March 7, 2010 at 10:59 pm

From JEFF COX
Organic To Be

You hear a lot about eating locally these days. It’s one of the three pillars of eating correctly: 1) eat organic; 2) eat local; 3) eat in season. And all three pillars are important. But let’s take a closer look at “eat locally.” Let’s see what that really means, and why that’s such a good idea. And why, in the final analysis, it may be the most important pillar of them all.

Some aspects are obvious. When we eat locally produced food—grown within our local “foodshed,” as the current argot has it—we shorten the supply line from farm to table. Less gasoline or diesel fuel is used to transport the food from where it’s grown to where it’s bought and consumed. That means less air pollutants from fossil fuels and less carbon dioxide is pumped into the atmosphere on behalf of moving the food to market. So, eating locally produced organic food lessens the amount of greenhouse gases used to produce and transport that food.

Eating locally means supporting local farmers. This means keeping local family farmers on their land. Wendell Berry has written eloquently about the social benefits of strong, local farm economies. They translate into strong local communities. And they are the soil from which real democracy grows. Instead of being cogs in a massive production machine, family farmers are their own bosses. They are people who can voice their honest opinions without fear of losing their jobs. They can tell the truth, and the truth is contagious. It also sets us free.

Family farmers are also locally-focused, practical ecologists and environmentalists. Their environmentalism is not based on ideology, but on an intimate knowledge of the land under their care. They know where the pheasants and the quail lay their eggs, and can protect those spots…

More at our companion blog OrganicToBe.com
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The Fate of Books After the Age of Print

In Books on March 5, 2010 at 10:20 pm


From TRUTHDIG
Thanks to Sean Re

Is the printed book on its way to extinction? Will the e-book win the day? Will writers be able to make a living? Will publishers? Will booksellers? Will there be any readers? Is there life after the Age of Print? The new order is fast upon us, the ground shifts beneath our feet, and as the old sage put it, all that is solid melts into air. What will the future bring?

The only thing we can know for certain, of course, is the past—and even the past is notoriously elusive and discloses its truths in fragments whose meanings provide fodder for endless speculation and debate. The present is a vexing blur, its many parts moving too swiftly to be described with consensual accuracy. As for its significance, or what it portends, only the future can render a credible verdict. The future is, famously, an undiscovered—and unknowable—country.

That has not stopped the avatars of the New Information Age. For these ubiquitous boosters, the future is radiant. For them, the means of communication provided by digital devices and ever-enhanced software will democratize publishing, empower those authors whose writings have been marginalized by or, worse, shut out of mainstream publishing, and unleash a new era of book commerce. E-books, they insist, will save an industry whose traditional methods of publishing have been challenged by the new technological forces now sweeping the globe. Robert Darnton, one of our more sober and learned historians of reading and the book, believes that the implications for the ecology of writing and reading, for publishing and bookselling—indeed, for literacy itself—are profound.

More at TruthDig
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Book Report: Silent Seas

In Books on March 5, 2010 at 7:14 am



From TWILIGHT GREENAWAY
Culinate.com

The world’s seafood crisis

When Taras Grescoe began the journey behind Bottomfeeder: How to Eat Ethically in a World of Vanishing Seafood, he was looking to do more than write a thought-provoking, timely report; he wanted to change his own behavior. In the introduction, the former food writer recounts that before doing the research for the book, he had “heard all the talk about sustainable seafood, but was still not sure how to walk the walk.” And so walk Grescoe did. And fly, and boat, around the globe on a nine-month adventure through the modern seafood industry.

The resulting book is structured a bit like a vacation, skipping from one iconic seafood-based meal to the next, beginning with monkfish in New York and stopping for everything from bouillabaisse to shark-fin soup. But from its opening pages, Bottomfeeder makes it clear that even the most enjoyable meals come at a price. Grescoe manages to use each dish as a cultural and environmental lens through which the changing nature of today’s oceans comes into crisp, if terrifying, focus…

Grescoe has a genuine affection for the fishermen, chefs, street peddlers, and fish farmers he meets along the way…

More at Culinate
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A Meat Processor With Nothing To Hide

In Around the web on March 4, 2010 at 6:13 am

From ANGELIQUE CHAO
Heavy Table
Thanks to Ron Epstein

[...] Lorentz Meats has been doing things a little bit differently from the mainstream ever since the Lorentz family started the business in Cannon Falls in 1967. During decades when the industry’s focus was on building ever-bigger plants to handle the mass production of inexpensive meat, Lorentz stayed small, partnering with local farmers who might only bring one animal a month to slaughter. It wasn’t until the year 2000 that the Lorentz brothers, who had taken over the family business from their parents a few years before, built a bigger, more modern plant. With the new building, they were able to meet requirements for USDA approval, which in addition to their organic certification made them an attractive partner for farms in the booming market for natural and organic meat. Now they process about 10,000 animals a year with a staff of 60 employees.

But as they’ve grown – and they’re still tiny relative to the Cargills and Smithfields of the world – they’ve stayed unique. The existence of the viewing deck on which Mike and I stand is ample evidence of that. The Lorentz brothers built it so that their customers could verify with their own eyes how Lorentz goes about its business. What’s more, they make it available to anyone who wants to drive out to Cannon Falls and see for themselves what the slaughter and processing of meat entails. In an industry whose main marketing strategy is to stay out of the public eye, this sort of transparency is unheard of. It won kudos from none other than Michael Pollan, who gave Lorentz an honorable mention for what he calls their “glass abattoir” in the foodie bible The Omnivore’s Dilemma. Partly as a result of this exposure, Lorentz gets hundreds of visits a year from people curious about just how their food makes it to their table.[...]

More at Heavy Table
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Worldwide Popularity Grows for Homeopathy Alternative Medicine

In Around the web on March 4, 2010 at 5:56 am

From DANA ULLMAN
Homeopathy.com

Numerous surveys over the past 150 plus years have confirmed that people who seek homeopathic treatment tend to be considerably more educated than those who don’t (1). What is not as well known is the fact that homeopathic medicine is the leading “alternative” treatment used by physicians in Europe…and growing numbers of the citizenry.

And despite homeopathy’s impressive popularity in Europe, it is actually even more popular in India where over 100 million people depend solely on this form of medical care (2). Further, according to an A.C. Neilsen survey in India, 62 percent of current homeopathy users have never tried conventional medicines and 82 percent of homeopathy users would not switch to conventional treatments (3).

Skeptics of homeopathy insist that homeopathic medicines do not work, but have difficulty explaining how so many people use and rely upon this system of medicine to treat themselves for so many acute and chronic diseases; and a very large number of these people do not have to use anything else. A previous article that I wrote at this site presented a strong case for the scientific and historical evidence for homeopathy. Further, other articles here have provided additional scientific evidence for the use of homeopathic medicines in respiratory allergies and in pediatrics. Although a small and vocal group of skeptics of homeopathy continue to deny its viability, homeopathy’s growing popularity throughout the world amongst physicians, other health professionals, and educated populations continue to prove that skeptics are really simply medical fundamentalists. more→

Looks Like The New Agrarian Age Has Arrived

In Around the web on March 3, 2010 at 6:36 am

From GENE LOGSDON
The Contrary Farmer

I define “new agrarian age” as a society in which rural and urban lifestyles become indistinguishable. Roof top vegetable gardens in downtown Manhattan for instance. A more typical example is a landscape where urban agriculture and rural manufacturing exist side by side in harmony.  I saw a photo recently of horses plowing a large garden plot with the Cleveland, Ohio, city skyline in the background. Some years ago I visited Paws Inc., where Jim Davis, the creator of the comic strip “Garfield” has his business headquartered. The location in rural Indiana (where Davis grew up), is so far out in the country that there was no suitable sewage system to handle the waste from his three big office buildings and fairly large number of workers. He had engineers design and build a greenhouse where plants, fish, and other aquatic animals flourished by feeding on the nutrients in the wastewater while purifying it before its return to natural waterways. Aquaculture and urban culture surely joined hands in that greenhouse. Silviculture too because Davis was also raising tree seedlings in the greenhouse to reforest wornout farm land in the area.

Last week I attended the annual conference of the Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association (OEFFA), spending the day signing and selling books and gabbing with people. Those of us who remember the early days of OEFFA were stunned and jubilant at the overflow crowd. more→So many people wanted to come to the conference in fact, that about 200 had to be turned away because of space limitations, Carol Goland, OEFFA’s executive director told me regretfully. I looked around the main exhibit hall (a high school gymnasium) crammed with booths where all sorts of organic and natural farm supplies were being sold. more→

Drawing a Line, Making a Stand

In Around the web on March 3, 2010 at 5:19 am


From DERRICK JENSEN
Orion Magazine

ANOTHER 120 SPECIES went extinct today; they were my kin. I am not going to sit back and wait for every last piece of this living world to be dismembered. I’m going to fight like hell for those kin who remain—and I want everyone who cares to join me. Many are. But many are not. Some of those who are not are those who, for whatever reason, really don’t care. I worry about them. But I worry more about those who do care but have chosen not to fight. A fairly large subset of those who care but have chosen not to fight assert that lifestyle choice is the only possible response to the murder of the planet. They all carry the same essential message—and often use precisely the same words: Resistance isn’t possible. Resistance never works.

Meanwhile, another 120 species went extinct today. They were my kin.

There are understandable personal reasons for wanting to believe in the invincibility of an oppressive system. If you can convince yourself the system is invincible, there’s no reason to undertake the often arduous, sometimes dangerous, always necessary work of organizing, preparing to dismantle, and then actually dismantling this (or any) oppressive system. If you can convince yourself the system is invincible, you can, with fully salved conscience, make yourself and your own as comfortable as you can within the confines of the oppressive system while allowing this oppressive system to continue. more→

Stop The Garbage Grab Now!

In !ACTION CENTER!, Dave Smith on March 2, 2010 at 12:14 pm


From DAVE SMITH
Ukiah

Every time they privatize a piece of our common wealth, we lose a piece of our democracy.

They privatized and grabbed the voting machines, and stole a national election. They privatized and grabbed our prisons, and now lobby for longer sentences. They privatized and grabbed our wars, and now they decide who gets killed. They privatized and grabbed our sick care, and now they only insure the healthy. They privatized and grabbed the oceans, and we’re running out of fish. They privatized and grabbed our manufacturing, and now we have no jobs.

They are privatizing and grabbing our water systems, and tripling the rates. They want our schools. They want our social security. They want our internet. They want our air. They want all of the universe and space.

Locally, they privatized and grabbed our forests, and now we are out of trees and jobs. And now they are coming for our garbage. Does greed have boundaries? No it does not. We citizens and our representatives have to set the boundaries and stop them at the fence line.

The shortcomings of privatization are well documented. It replaces living-wage employment with lower-paying jobs that offer few or no benefits and no union representation. Privatization rarely results in significant savings to taxpayers. More often, costs go up because the privateers are forced to choose between quality services and higher profits, leaving us citizens with the worst of all worlds… poorer services and higher costs. more→

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