Mendo Island Journal — Timely. Useful. Sometimes Cranky.

Archive for May, 2010|Monthly archive page

Why Do We Need Local Money?

In Around Mendo Island, Books, Mendo Island Transition on May 31, 2010 at 8:42 pm

From ROB HOPKINS
Transition Network UK

[Foreword to the book 'Local Money']

The power of holding your community’s own money.

September 2009, Lambeth Town Hall, Brixton. On a beautiful evening with just the first hint of autumn in the air, hundreds of people are packed into the large room for the launch of the Brixton Pound. In the days running up to the launch, the media was full of stories about the currency; it even made the front page of the BBC website on the day. Alongside explanations of how it is intended to work and interviews with advocates were mainstream economists who, somewhat patronisingly, assured readers that this could never really work and that it was all tremendously naive and foolish. Clearly that was a sentiment that those gathered in the hall, and the 70 traders already keen to accept the notes, had chosen to overlook – or, more likely, would fervently disagree with. This event was both a celebration of the new currency and, perhaps most importantly, of Brixton itself.

Derrick Anderson, the Chief Executive of the local council, which had partly funded the initiative, told the audience that he would be using Brixton Pounds, that he hoped they would become ‘the currency of choice for Brixton’, and that he was delighted that this was a good news story about the area. When I spoke to him later, I explored with him how deep the commitment of the council to this new currency would actually run. Would it accept the currency in payment of Council Tax? Would it accept rent from stallholders in Brixton Pounds? The answer to both questions was yes: a national first.

At the end of the evening, the notes themselves were unveiled to rapturous applause. Each note featured a prominent Brixtonian, chosen via a community-wide ‘Vote the Note’ poll. They showed Vincent Van Gogh on the £20 note; C. L. R. James, a local historian, political theorist and cricket writer on the £10 note; Gaia theorist James Lovelock on the £5 note more

Organic Seed Preservation

In Around the web on May 29, 2010 at 9:55 am


Certified Organic Bowl Gourd Seeds by Dave Smith

From ORGANIC SEED ALLIANCE

MISSION:
Organic Seed Alliance supports the ethical development and stewardship of the genetic resources of agricultural seed. We accomplish our goals through collaborative education, advisory services, and research programs with organic farmers and other seed professionals.

VISION:
Seed is both our common cultural heritage and a living natural resource fundamental to the future sustainability of food production. Proper stewardship of our genetic resources necessitates not only its conservation, but careful management in a manner which allows seed to continually evolve with challenges of the environment, cultural practices of sustainable agriculture and the need to feed people. Through advocacy, collaborative education, advisory services, and research we work to restore and develop seed varieties for current needs while safeguarding invaluable genetic resources for future generations.

PROGRAMS:

Education, Information, and Advocacy:
Educational opportunities, workshops, and publications aimed at increasing genetic conservation, and improving organic seed production, plant breeding for organic agriculture, and developing healthy seed systems.

Collaborative Research:
Research that develops healthy seed systems, more→

Who Owns Nature?

In Around the web, Aw, ya selfish greedy bastards ya on May 29, 2010 at 9:09 am


Certified Organic Mountain Blue Lupine Seeds by Dave Smith

From ETC GROUP

SEED INDUSTRY

Bottom line: …Patented gene technologies will not help small farmers survive climate change, but they will concentrate corporate power, drive up costs, inhibit public sector research and further undermine the rights of farmers to save and exchange seeds.

In the first half of the 20th century, seeds were overwhelmingly in the hands of farmers and public-sector plant breeders. In the decades since then, Gene Giants have used intellectual property laws to commodify the world seed supply – a strategy that aims to control plant germplasm and maximize profits by eliminating Farmers’ Rights.

Today, the proprietary seed market accounts for a staggering share of the world’s commercial seed supply. In less than three decades, a handful of multinational corporations have engineered a fast and furious corporate enclosure of the first link in the food chain.

According to Context Network, the proprietary seed market (that is, brand- name seed that is subject to exclusive monopoly – i.e., intellectual property), now accounts for 82% of the commercial seed market worldwide. more→

Genetic Modification Watch

In Around the web, Aw, ya selfish greedy bastards ya on May 29, 2010 at 7:56 am

From GM WATCH

Introduction to the GMWatch video collection

We’ve trawled the web in search of the best videos on GM and related issues. You’ve sent us your favorites, and together we’ve created a fascinating and informative collection. Please let us know anything we’ve missed.

We’ve divided the videos into categories (like Must-see, Agriculture, Corporations, Latin America) and created an Index of speakers, where you can check out who’s in the videos, and an Index of GM crops and foods.

Must-see

This section contains some of the most compelling videos we’ve come across. They cover a wide variety of topics as we’ve cherry picked from all the different categories.

Among our absolute favourites is this extract from the film The Corporation about how Monsanto got Fox News to kill an investigative news report into its genetically engineered cattle hormone.

Another treat is hearing razor-sharp economist Dr Raj Patel put the case against globalized corporate agriculture, including GMOs, and its efforts to marginalise the planet-wide push for a more environmentally sensitive approach to food production (agroecology).

Agriculture

This section contains films that place GM in the wider context of corporate control of agriculture and food production and that show how farmers and consumers’ interests are being overridden.

Look out for The Future of Food, a groundbreaking documentary released in 2004, that distills the key regulatory, legal, ethical, environmental and consumer issues surrounding the troubling changes happening in the food system today… More here…
~~

Stieg Larsson: Did All The Coffee Kill Him?

In Books on May 28, 2010 at 11:29 am


From DAVID KAMP
NYT

If you’re a latecomer to the Stieg Larsson phenomenon, here, briefly, is the deal: Larsson was a Swedish journalist who edited a magazine called Expo, which was devoted to exposing racist and extremist organizations in his nativeland. In his spare time, he worked on a trilogy of crime thrillers, delivering them to his Swedish publisher in 2004. In November of that year, a few months before the first of these novels came out, he died of a heart attack. He was only 50, and he never got to see his books become enormous best sellers — first in Sweden and then, in translation, all over the globe.

“The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest” is the third installment of the ­trilogy; its predecessors, “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo” and “The Girl Who Played With Fire,” have already sold a million copies combined in the United States and many times that abroad. All three books are centered on two ­principal characters: a fearless middle-aged journalist named Mikael Blomkvist, who publishes an Expo-like magazine called Millennium, and a slight, sullen, socially maladjusted, tech-savvy young goth named Lisbeth Salander, the “girl” of the books’ titles, who, in addition to her dragon tattoo, possesses extraordinary hacking abilities and a twisted, complicated past. Together, Blomkvist and Salander use their wiles and skills to take on corporate corruptos, government sleazes and sex criminals, not to mention these miscreants’ attendant hired goons…

More here
~
See also The Afterlife of Stieg Larsson
~~

Brains, Bats, and Implanted Thoughts: The Perpetual Life of Philip K. Dick

In Books on May 28, 2010 at 8:04 am

From BOOKSLUT

The legacy of World War terminus has diminished in potency; those who could not survive the dust had passed into oblivion years ago, and the dust, weaker now and confronting the strong survivors, only deranged minds and genetic properties. Despite his lead codpiece, the dust — undoubtedly — filtered in and at him, brought him daily, so long as he failed to emigrate, its little load of befouling filth. So far, medical checkups taken monthly confirmed him as a regular: a man who could reproduce within tolerances set by law. Any month, however, the exam by the San Francisco Police Department doctors could reveal otherwise. Continually, new specials came into existence, created out of regulars by the omnipresent dust. The ads ran: “Emigrant or degenerate! The choice is yours!” Very true, Rick thought as he opened the gate to his little pasture and approached his electric sheep. But I can’t emigrate, he said to himself. Because of my job. — Philip K. Dick,  Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?

Most people know Philip K. Dick for the story that inspired movies such as Blade Runner, a film that defined the language of latter day science fiction cinema and its extraordinary advances in special effects. After writing hundreds of stories, numerous novels, essays and screenplays, Dick joined those writers who turned aside from their work and made an eccentric public life their final art, though his work as a serious writer was never that far from serious readers’ attentions.

He died in 1982, broke, decrepit, most probably mentally ill… More here
~~

After the Econolypse

In Around the web on May 28, 2010 at 7:31 am

From FRONT PORCH REPUBLIC

Just about everyone I know is adjusting to downward mobility.

When remembering a family-owned grocery store in rural Virginia, a first image comes to mind, even though I did not actually witness it. This is my boss, a woman standing all of five feet tall, in the front parking lot after closing time in her “shooting stance” with her gun out. While counting the money for the night, she watched two young men pull up in a car and start removing various firearms from their trunk. Walking around from the side exit, she got the jump on them. What she then said (edited for sensitive eyes) was: “I don’t know what (censored) you’re doing, but I’m the only one licensed to have a gun on my (censored) property. If you try to use that gun, you might hit me. But I will kill you.”  They left.

The second image I have is of their grown son, my manager, calling all of the store employees in for a meeting one evening and yelling for an hour straight at us. Some of the kids working there were less than cordial to the customers. A partial transcript (also edited for language): “Look! This is my store! This is my livelihood! And you are not going to put me out of business because you can’t be (edited) polite to the customers! When they come in, say hello! Stop whatever the (edited) you are doing and go talk to them! Get to know their names and what they come here for! And, you know what, ask them how they’re doing! The only way we can beat the big grocery stores is if you get to know these people and treat them better than those stores do!”

So we did. We knew all the customers, their kids, what sort of beer they drank, and spent at least half our working hours chatting (or jawboning, if you’ll indulge me) with them. more→

Mendo Moola: Ukiah Businesses Create Local Money

In Dave Smith, Mendo Island Transition on May 27, 2010 at 3:32 am

From DAVE SMITH
Ukiah

Three local business are now creating and circulating our own local currency, Mendo Moola: Oco Time Japanese Cuisine, Mulligan Books, and Ukiah Brewing Company. The Mendo Moola Blog explains how and why a local currency works. Almost 20 other locally-owned businesses in Mendocino County, listed on the blog, accept and trade Mendo Moola as payment for goods and services; they include Local Flavor Bake House, Paula’s Hair Salon, Westside Renaissance Market, Mendocino Bounty, Mendocino Lavender Farm, Incognito Fun Store, and RespecTech.

Money connects buyers and sellers. Communities across the country and around the world are issuing local currencies, as they have for many years, to protect themselves against recessions, depressions, bank failures, tight money, credit crunches, risk aversion, hoarding, and leakage that dries up the money supply, kills jobs, and destroys local economies. The more money that is available to be used locally and kept circulating locally,the more jobs are created and the more a local community becomes prosperous and sustainable economically.

During the Great Depression, more than 5,000 local currencies helped keep Americans alive. Over the past two decades, over 2,500 local currencies have sprung up nationally.

Over the past 50 years, the expansion of national businesses into local domestic markets, and now the Internet, has diverted and redirected circulating money to centralized corporate coffers. ‘Leakage’ occurs when, every night, money spent that day in chain stores and franchises is sucked out of our community electronically to their headquarters elsewhere. more→

An Interview with Peter North, author of Local Money

In Books, Mendo Island Transition on May 27, 2010 at 3:31 am

From TRANSITION CULTURE

In past recessions and depressions, a popular response from communities has been to create their own forms of money. How can local money help communities in times of hardship and cut as much carbon out of their economies as possible?

Pete North’s new book ‘Local Money: how to make it happen in your community’ will be formally launched at the 2010 Transition Network conference and will be available to order here at the end of this week.  The latest book in the Transition Books series, ‘Local Money’ is a comprehensive overview of local currencies, and how to plan and implement such a scheme.  It is written with Transition initiatives in mind, drawing from the experience of Transition currencies such as the Brixton Pound and the Lewes Pound, but it also tells the fascinating stories of other alternative currencies, including the story of how local money was a key element of how communities survived the Argentinian crash.  To celebrate the launch of the book, I interviewed Pete about the book, and about local currencies….

‘Local Money’ is about to be published… can you tell us, in a nutshell, what the book covers?

In a nutshell, the fruits of looking at local currencies over the past nearly 20 years distilled into 240 pages. I’ve tried to cover both the longer standing alternative currencies like LETS and Time Money and the newer kids on the block, transition currencies, in as much detail. I’ve also tried to give the reader an understanding of why money is in the form it is now, what is good about different forms of money, and how it could be improved. more→

Have We Reached Peak Food?

In Around the web on May 26, 2010 at 11:25 am

From MARKET SKEPTICS

If you read any economic, financial, or political analysis for 2010 that doesn’t mention the food shortage looming next year, throw it in the trash, as it is worthless. There is overwhelming, undeniable evidence that the world will run out of food next year. When this happens, the resulting triple digit food inflation will lead panicking central banks around the world to dump their foreign reserves to appreciate their currencies and lower the cost of food imports, causing the collapse of the dollar, the treasury market, derivative markets, and the global financial system. The US will experience economic disintegration…

Specifically, the USDA has declared half the counties in the Midwest to be primary disaster areas, including 274 counties in the last 30 days alone. These designations are based on the criteria of a minimum of 30 percent loss in the value of at least one crop in the county. The chart below shows counties declared primary disaster areas by the secretary of Agriculture and the president of the United States…

The same USDA that is predicting record harvests is also declaring disaster areas across half the Midwest because of catastrophic crop losses! To eliminate any doubt that this might be an innocent mistake, the USDA is even predicting record soybean harvests in the same states (Oklahoma, Louisiana, Arkansas, and Alabama) where it has declared virtually all counties to have experienced 30 percent production losses. It isn’t rocket scientist to realize something is horribly wrong… Facts and figures here
~~

This is us. This is on us. No one will rescue us.

In Around the web on May 25, 2010 at 10:24 am

From LAURENCE LEWIS
Daily Kos

[There is nothing more beautiful than a group of pelicans skimming just above coastal waters, calmly and majestically, at sunset. I have stood and watched a colony of pelicans in a Monterey inlet for hours at a time. This horrible destruction of nature cannot stand. -DS]

A mining disaster. An oil rig disaster. Honest working people killed just trying to make a living. Environmental devastation that is beyond our imagining, despite our imagining being based on truly terrifying scientific facts. There is no clean coal. There is no safe oil production. From those that suffer on the front lines of the extractive industries to all of nature suffering from the burning of what is extracted, this has to end. It has to end as soon as is possible. In the short term, that will mean much mutual sacrifice, but in the long term not only will it mean jobs, opportunities, and a new wave of economic growth, it will mean the possibility of a sustainable future for all humankind.

Even some right wing politicians now seem to be awakening to the specific dangers revealed by the Deepwater Horizon disaster. more→

The Long-Distance Runner

In !ACTION CENTER!, Dave Smith on May 24, 2010 at 8:09 pm

From DAVE SMITH

If you still hold the values of peace, freedom and justice, as we children of the sixties and seventies learned and demonstrated for, then you appreciate the values of the loyal and the true.

Back then, along with many others, I responded to John F. Kennedy’s call to service. We believed we could and would change the world, and we did. Along with our protests and marches for civil rights, farmworker’s contracts, and the environment, we organized free universities, cooperative food stores, and small alternative community businesses. Our memories of that time are overwhelmingly positive. Dan Hamburg was there and involved.

We had passionate faith in the future and look back now with pride at our accomplishments. We stopped a war. We put civil rights into law. We shut down the building of new nuclear plants. We passed the Endangered Species Act, the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act, and the National Environmental Policy Act — every one of them now being chipped away by the culture that was then being countered. more→

Doug Mosel: Why I’m Voting for Dan Hamburg

In !ACTION CENTER!, Around Mendo Island on May 24, 2010 at 5:35 pm


From DOUG MOSEL
Anderson Valley

Dan Hamburg has my vote for 5th District supervisor.

The main reason I’m working to get Dan elected is that he will be a reliable advocate for agriculture in Mendocino County.  As our next supervisor he will work to grow a local food economy that will be good for farmers and ranchers.  That in turn will be good for ag-related businesses and for those of us who want to get our meat and produce from someone we can trust.

To make this happen we will need committed and capable leadership with a long view of the future. We can count on Dan to pay more than lip service to re-localizing our farm economy.  He will, for example, help bring an animal processing operation to Mendocino County, which will benefit meat producers and livestock alike.

As never before, we need a supervisor who will be present and accessible all over this large and diverse district.  After he’s elected, I know Dan will remember Anderson Valley, the south coast, Comptche, Hopland, Mendocino, and south Ukiah–all of the 5th District.

In profoundly challenging times, we need a supervisor who will do his homework, which I know from personal experience Dan will do.  He combines deep and broad experience with the discipline to study issues carefully and the commitment to hear all points of view to make decisions or find solutions that are realistic and for the common good.
~~

Victor Frankl: Why Have Ideals?

In Around the web on May 24, 2010 at 7:25 am

From TED
Via Andrew Sullivan

TED passes along a wonderful talk about idealism and the potential of the human race:

In this rare clip from 1972, legendary psychiatrist and Holocaust-survivor Viktor Frankl delivers a powerful message about the human search for meaning…
~~

Janie Sheppard: I’m Voting For My Good Friend Dan Hamburg

In !ACTION CENTER!, Around Mendo Island on May 23, 2010 at 10:23 am


From JANIE SHEPPARD
Mendocino County

I met candidate for 5th District Supervisor, Dan Hamburg, in 2003 during the campaign to ban the cultivation of GMOs in Mendocino County.   During that campaign I realized we shared a vision of a Mendocino County based on a locally based economy.  Since then, we have shared that vision in several campaigns:  opposing the Ryder Homes plan to develop the Masonite site, impeaching then Vice-President Cheney for his role in starting the Iraq War that continues to suck the life blood from Mendocino County; and opposing Measure B because it would do nothing to address the real problems with marijuana while punishing medical marijuana patients and harming a potential source of much-needed tax revenue.  More recently, in opposing Measure A, that, had it passed, would have put a monster mega-mall on the old Masonite site.   Those campaigns are just the most recent of the many campaigns to preserve Mendocino County from corporate greed.

Over the intervening years, we have traded articles and comments on the major issues facing the nation and our county.  I know the depth of Dan’s commitment to preserving what we value about Mendocino County:  the forests, the rivers, the farmers, the artists, musicians, local theater, our local businesses and the unique Mendo way.  Simply put, love of place is the most important part of Dan’s life.

As the county absorbs the blows from the economic meltdown, Dan will keep that love of place.  With the leadership Dan will bring to the Board of Supervisors, the Mendo way will prevail.   We will grow our own food, make our own entertainment, harvest our forests sustainably, restore our rivers and educate our children.

I live in the 5th District and I’m voting for my good friend, Dan Hamburg.  If you value our unique place in the world, I urge you too to vote for Dan Hamburg.
~~

Liberated from Libertarianism: How’s that whole deregulatey depressiony thing working out for ya?

In Around the web, BS Buzzer on May 23, 2010 at 10:22 am

From DAVID MICHAEL GREEN
Common Dreams

[...] Where libertarianism breaks down is in assuming that we can all just do what we want and it will work out great. And in assuming that all private actors are essentially well intentioned. Neither of these is true, and a libertarian society would leave each of us at the mercy of these twin fallacies. And that’s an ugly place to be, let me tell you.

Suppose you bought a house and had a fat mortgage outstanding on it. Now the guy who owns the plot next door decides to build an abattoir on his land. You can’t live in your house anymore because of the nauseating, permeating, stink. You also can’t sell it, because no one else wants to live there either. And you’re still stuck paying the mortgage, probably plunging you into bankruptcy since you’re now also paying rent to live somewhere else. Why did all this happen? Because you voted for that libertarian city council, and they threw out all the zoning laws on the books, preferring maximum freedom for use of private property instead. Aren’t you thrilled about how that worked out?

So you pack all your belongings in your car and decide to drive away. But you turn around after going just a couple of miles, because everybody drives on any side of the road they want to, whenever they want to, and it’s scary dangerous out there. Why? more→

Outing Wendy Roberts – Supervisor Candidate 5th District

In Around Mendo Island on May 22, 2010 at 12:37 pm

From CHUCK HENDERSON
On Local ListServ

[Update: Wendy Roberts Responds, and Chuck Henderson wraps it up below.]

Ms. Roberts,

You make yourself sound so reasonable… and yet:

You accuse your opponents of “rejecting every possibility for the economic revitalization that is essential to sustain our families and communities.”

Would you explain this please? Just what possibilities for economic revitalization are the “others” rejecting that you would embrace?

Please be specific...

Are you talking about pouring pesticide on forest land so it can be converted to grapes? (never mind the emaciated fish spawning downstream)

Are you talking about off-shore eyesores and navigation hazards disguised as “green” energy?

Are you talking about increased gravel mining in once-salmon spawning streams?

Are you talking about end-runs around the planning process to sneak in mega-developments like Walmart?

Again…. be specific.

You say we here in the 5th District have elected Supervisors who are:

“heartfelt individuals who lack either the technical expertise or the political will to get our outdated planning documents up to legal snuff”

Just what documents are you talking about?

Are you talking about the Gravel Ordinance component of the General Plan which _industry_ has prevented from coming to completion because they like the “limbo” of no gravel ordinance and reject the rigorous environmental controls we here in the 5th District have been insisting on?

Certainly you can’t blame DeVal and Colfax just because they have represented environmental interests in their pursuit of a decent Gravel Ordinance.

Or is it because you favor the idea of carving up our hillsides to promote the pesticide-dependent (and largely out-of-county and illegal immigrant based) wine industry?

You reject the idea of “swinging [away] from a century of destructive over-harvesting” in our forests to something a little more green (as if the environmentally-minded are some kind of nut cases). But you fail to understand that run-away industry has nearly turned Mendocino into one of its “dead zones.” No fish, no forests, just wine and tourism (and untaxed pot).

We watch in horror the growing “dead zone” in the Gulf of Mexico… brought to us by the same mentality that destroyed Mendocino County’s forest industry. The last thing we need is another representative that panders to the short-term interests of the “dead-zone” makers… and that I’m afraid is who you would represent.

Chuck
~

Wendy Responds in Capital Letters:

Ms. Roberts,

You make yourself sound so reasonable… and yet:

You accuse your opponents of “rejecting every possibility for the economic revitalization that is essential to sustain our families and communities.”

ACTUALLY, I’VE NEVER SAID ANYTHING REMOTELY LIKE THIS ABOUT MY OPPONENTS.  I HAVE SAID THIS ABOUT SOME INDIVIDUALS WHO ARE DEDICATED TO WHAT I SEE AS DESTRUCTIVELY EXTREME POSITIONS.

Would you explain this please. Just what possibilities for economic revitalization are the “others” rejecting that you would embrace?

Please be specific…

Are you talking about pouring pesticide on forest land so it can be converted to grapes?  NO.  I BELIEVE YOU MEAN ‘HERBICIDES,’ BUT IN EITHER CASE THAT IS CRIMINAL BEHAVIOR, WHETHER IT IS FOR LEGAL OR ILLEGAL CROPS.

Are you talking about increased gravel mining in once-salmon spawning streams? NO.  AND I’VE HEARD OF NO SUCH PROPOSALS.  THE ONLY SPECIFIC GRAVEL MINING I’M AWARE OF RIGHT NOW IS ON AN INDUSTRIAL SITE AND WOULD NOT IMPACT ANY SUCH SALMON SPAWING STREAMS.  I AM INCLINED TO THINK THAT, TO THE EXTENT POSSIBLE, IT IS BETTER TO MINE ESSENTIAL GRAVEL PRODUCTS LOCALLY, KEEPING CAPITAL AND DOLLARS IN THE COUNTY, THAN TO HAUL THESE MATERIALS FROM SOMEONE ELSE’S LOCAL ENVIRONMENT, USING FOSSIL FUEL TO DO SO.  OBVIOUSLY, EVALUATING WHERE TO SITE SUCH PROJECTS IS CRITICAL.  AN ALTERNATIVE IS TO STOP ALL CONSTRUCTION AND ROAD MAINTENANCE. I DON’T SEE THAT AS REALISTIC.

Are you talking about end-runs around the planning process to sneak in mega-developments like Walmart? NO.  (THE ONLY WALMART IN MENDOCINO COUNTY IS IN THE CITY OF UKIAH.) I DID NOT SUPPORT THE USE OF AN INITIATIVE TO DEVELOP THE MASONITE PROPERTY, BECAUSE ALL SUCH PROJECTS NEED TO GO THROUGH A TRANSPARENT PUBLIC PLANNING PROCESS.  I STRONGLY SUPPORT THE COUNTY’S ADOPTION OF A COMMUNITY IMPACT REPORT SIMILAR TO THAT USED IN SONOMA COUNTY (IN ADDITION TO AN ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT REPORT) TO EVALUATE ALL PROPOSED LARGE SCALE DEVELOPMENT.  WE NEED TO KNOW THE QUALITY AND QUANTITY OF JOBS A PROJECT WILL CREATE, ITS IMPACT ON LOCAL HOUSING AND SERVICES, AND BOTH FAVORABLE AND UNFAVORABLE ECONOMIC IMPACTS.

SOME SPECIFICS INCLUDE: THE PROPOSED MEAT PACKING PLANT.  IT IS STILL AT THE CONCEPTUAL LEVEL AND IS RECEIVING QUITE A LOT OF SUPPORT FROM LOCAL RANCHERS AND THE LOCAL FOOD PEOPLE.  MANY ARE ALSO ASKING FOR A PORTABLE UNIT THAT COULD BE TAKEN TO SMALL FARMS.   OTHER CANDIDATES HAVE ALSO SUPPORTED THIS AT THE CONCEPT LEVEL.  WE’LL NEED TO BE ATTENTIVE TO THE DETAILS, INCLUDING LOCATION AND ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACTS.

I’VE ALSO BEEN ATTENDING MEETINGS OF MENDO FUTURES AND THE BIOMASS PROJECT. BOTH GROUPS ARE LOOKING AT WAYS TO DEVELOP A RESTORATION ECONOMY AROUND SUSTAINABLE FORESTRY, LOCAL FOOD PRODUCTION AND RESTORATION-RELATED TOURISM, INCLUDING ECO-TOURISM, FARM TRAILS PROMOTION AND ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE.

I STRONGLY SUPPORT LEADERSHIP FROM COUNTY GOVERNMENT FOR DEVELOPMENT OF COUNTY-WIDE BROADBAND INFRASTRUCTURE.  WE NEED IT FOR ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT, EDUCATION AND DELIVERY OF MEDICAL AND OTHER SERVICES.

THERE ARE INFRASTRUCTURE AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT FUNDS AVAILABLE RIGHT NOW. ADJACENT COUNTIES ARE APPLYING FOR THEM.  AT THE BOS ECONOMIC REVITALIZATION WORKSHOP I ATTENDED ON MONDAY, THE SUPERVISORS WERE URGED TO START DEVELOPING AND SUBMITTING PROPOSALS…AND NO ACTION WAS TAKEN TO MOVE THIS THOUGHT FORWARD.

You say we here in the 5th District have elected Supervisors who are: “heartfelt individuals who lack either the technical expertise or the political will to get our outdated planning documents up to legal snuff”

Just what documents are you talking about?  ALL OF THE CANDIDATES HAVE ACKNOWLEDGED THAT THIS IS A PROBLEM, AS HAVE THE INCUMBENTS.  WE NEED A BOARD THAT WILL STOP RESTATING THE PROBLEM AND GET THIS WORK DONE.

THE UKIAH VALLEY AREA PLAN, LOCAL COASTAL PLAN, MENDOCINO TOWN PLAN AND GUALALA TOWN PLAN ARE ALL MANY YEARS OUT OF DATE AND NO LONGER IN COMPLIANCE WITH CURRENT LAWS.  THE COUNTY GENERAL PLAN WAS UPDATED BUT IMPLEMENTATION CODES HAVE YET TO BE WRITTEN FOR IT OR ANY OF THE OTHER LEGALLY MANDATED PLANNING DOCUMENTS.  THE ABSENCE OF CLEAR, LEGAL PLANNING DOCUMENTS AND PERMIT PROCESSES CREATES GRAVE FINANCIAL HARDSHIP ON PROPERTY OWNERS AND DELAYS OR PREVENTS EFFORTS TO DEVELOP OR EXPAND BUSINESSES AND CREATE JOBS. ONE COASTAL EXAMPLE IS NOYO HARBOR.  IT IS LITERALLY FROZEN IN TIME BECAUSE IT IS CURRENTLY ZONED FISHING VILLAGE.

Are you talking about the Gravel Ordinance component of the General Plan which _industry_ has prevented from coming to completion because they like the “limbo” of no gravel ordinance and reject the rigorous environmental controls we here in the 5th District have been insisting on?

Certainly you can’t blame DeVal and Colfax just because they have represented environmental interests in their pursuit of a… Or is it because you favor the idea of carving up our hillsides to promote the pesticide-dependent (and largely out-of-county and illegal immigrant based) wine industry?

ACTUALLY, GIVEN THAT INCUMBANT POLITICIANS HAVE FAILED TO COMPLETE SUCH ESSENTIAL AND BASIC TASKS OVER A PERIOD OF A COUPLE OF DECADES, I THINK IT IS AN ENTIRELY FAIR QUESTION TO ASK WHETHER REINSTATING THEM IS LIKELY TO RESULT IN A DIFFERENT OUTCOME IN THE NEXT DECADE.

I AM ALSO EXTREMELY CONCERNED THAT WE HAVE A BOARD WITH THE FINANCIAL EXPERTISE AND SENSE OF FISCAL RESPONSIBILITY TO BALANCE THE BUDGET AND REDUCE THE ACCUMULATED DEBT.  IT IS A SIMPLE FACT THAT MUCH OF THIS DEBT IS THE DIRECT RESULT OF FAILED FISCAL OVERSIGHT AND AN UNWILLINGNESS TO SPEND WITHIN OUR BUDGET.  WE CAN’T AFFORD TO CONTINUE THIS BEHAVIOR.

You reject the idea of “swinging [away] from a century of destructive over-harvesting” in our forests to something a little more green (as if the environmentally-minded are some kind of nut cases). But you fail to understand that run-away industry has nearly turned Mendocino into one of its “dead zones.” No fish, no forests, just wine and tourism (and untaxed pot).

THIS IS SIMPLY INACCURATE.  I HAVE SPECIFICALLY SUPPORTED ‘SWINGING AWAY.’ WHAT I REJECT IS SWINGING SO FAR IN THE OPPOSITE DIRECTION THAT WE SIMPLY TRADE AN ENVIRONMENTAL ‘DEAD ZONE’ FOR AN ECONOMIC GHOST TOWN.  NEITHER IS ACCEPTABLE AND NEITHER IS NECESSARY.  WE CAN HAVE A LIVABLE, PROSPEROUS AND ENVIRONMENTALLY SUSTAINABLE COUNTY AND THERE ARE MANY GOOD PEOPLE WORKING HARD TO CREATE THAT REALITY.

I LOOK FORWARD TO WORKING WITH THEM AND WITH YOU.

REGARDS,
WR
~

Chuck Returns Volley:

Wendy,

So if we extrapolate your statements into one complete thought? you think there are: “Some individuals who are dedicated to what [you] see as destructively extreme positions” that “[reject] every possibility for the economic revitalization that is essential to sustain our families and communities.”

This is the problem Wendy? The pro-corporate (short-term profit, out of county, LP-types) would like to paint folks who I consider really good people, citizens really keen on healthy environmentally sound solutions, as extremists.

Personally I don’t know of anyone in the Mendocino County political milieu that I would paint as extremist. But evidently you’ve got some folks in your mind that have some extreme positions and getting their voices out of the Supervisor’s chamber so you can make changes is a cornerstone of your campaign.

So please tell us who these people are and tell us what their “destructively extreme positions” are.

What I fear, and why I don’t see how I could bring myself to vote for you is that you buy into the notion that passionate environmentalists should be branded “extremists” and they should be excluded from the political process? in fact you believe they are the problem.

You say you don’t want to “trade an environmental ‘dead zone’ for an economic ghost town.”

Who in the hell is talking about policies or ideas that would lead us into that economic ghost town? I’m glad you admit our forests have become a “dead zone.” But our forests aren’t working because of a total lack of enforced forest regulation over the last 100+ years.

Let me tell you a little story? I had the honor to work with the late Mendocino Country resident Dr.
Hans Burkhardt who wrote a wonderful book entitled “Maximizing Forest Productivity” in which he outlined how reasonable forest practices could lead to an endless healthy vibrant forest industry right here in Mendocino County. But the corporate forest owners branded him (and the rest of us supporting regulated forest rules) as “extremists.”

The out-of-state corporate forest owners and their lawyers got their way (thanks to then Governor Wilson) and now we’ve got our “dead zone.” The forests are gone and their logging practices silted up the streams so the fishing industry is gone too. Essentially they killed the goose that would have perpetually laid the golden egg of a healthy forest and a healthy fishing industry? with plenty of good jobs.

So please don’t hang your hat on the extremist label and hope to cleave the dedicated environmental community from the general voting public.

Time is short. Dead zones are appearing all over the globe. We need real honesty making important decisions in that windowless supervisor chamber for the 5th District, not a corporate ideologue dressed in “progressive” clothing.

Chuck
~~

Ukiah: Young people create films on importance of shopping locally

In Around Mendo Island on May 22, 2010 at 8:47 am

From MONICA STARK
The Ukiah Daily Journal

Fifteen-year-old David MacDonald may be quiet on the surface, but when he starts talking about music and making movies, it’s not too long into the conversation that he discusses musicians who make music in nontypical ways and what he has done from their inspiration. “What if I can create a percussion track for a song using a bunch of different sounds from local businesses?” he asks when talking about his latest film, which won first place in the Localization Film Project and was recognized along with runner ups at this week’s Mendocino County Board of Supervisors meeting.

MacDonald’s film shows him sitting in Alex Thomas Plaza so frustrated with his computer that he smashes it on the pavement and then goes wandering about local businesses whilst his own music plays in the background. The viewer, meanwhile, gets a sense of community from the customers who know from whom they are buying their goods and services and hence feels some relief. The brewery, the Farmer’s Market, Mendocino Book Company, to name a few were places MacDonald visited.

His story is like that of a few other teens who together took a crash course on film making at Ukiah Valley Community Television and got a rundown of why shopping locally is important. From then on, a competition between them began and the teenagers had two months to create short two- to three-minute films, which UVCTV operations manager Jason Killilea says will be shown all summer on Mendocino Access channel 3.

Jenne, 19, the second-place winner, called her film the “Mr. Rude Commercial” and featured an online camera shopper who gets on the phone only to feel disgruntled from the incompetent customer service. “Dad was playing Butch, the cheesy online salesman,” Jenne laughs. Before filming, she and her dad cluttered the set of his workplace, and so when watching the film, the viewer gets a humorous glance of Butch who tries to play off two roles – that of a lowly know-nothing receptionist and his all-knowing boss, who ironically couldn’t answer the caller’s question about a particular camera lens.

A split screen enabled the viewer to see both the customer and Butch, a scene that when shown at Tuesday’s meeting, caused the audience to howl in laughter. The solution was, of course, to shop locally at Triple S Camera. Jenne said she really didn’t know much about shopping locally until she went to the localization training “and I realized that shopping locally creates a lot of jobs in the community … Money goes back into it.” More here
~~

Michael Laybourn: No on Prop 16!

In Around the web on May 22, 2010 at 8:30 am

From MICHAEL LAYBOURN
Hopland

The Ukiah City Council unanimously approved A Resolution to Formally Oppose Proposition 16 “The New Two-Thirds Vote Requirement Form Public Electricity Providers Initiative Constitutional Amendment” April 21st. I’m astounded that the UDJ and AVA, to my knowledge, had no mention of this important decision.

The Supervisors should do the same for the County.

Consider a rich bully with endless money, unlimited political spending recently legalized by the Supreme Court, up against a small group who has no way of raising that kind of money and up against cities that manage or want to manage their own utilities. Why, that’s a description of PG&E.

“Peter Darbee, who was paid $10.6 million dollars last year, told company shareholders that the goal of Prop 16 is to defeat local power choice “once and for all,” instead of having to continually fend off the specter of customer defection.

Darbee speculated that California voters would be receptive to Proposition 16 if the initiative’s campaign exploited the current anti-government anger over the economy and state budget deficit.” – Dan Aiello

Don’t believe those slick Yes on Prop 16 fliers telling us the initiative is a voter safeguard against local governments wanting to spend unlimited amounts to get into the energy business. Don’t believe the flood of ads claiming this is your defense against big spending government. Don’t believe this protects your right to choose right to vote. It is a lie. This is not about more choice, it is about restricting your choice because a nothing gets passed with a 2/3 majority.

The deluge of Prop 16 TV ads doesn’t mention that the initiative was written to guarantee that PG&E’s high priced electricity monopoly will never be challenged. Prop 16 takes away a community’s right to choose to buy their own power by imposing the 2/3 vote requirement. Ironically, it doesn’t take a 2/3 majority to change the California constitution with this proposition. PG&E  simply wants to get rid of the competition. PG&E’s CEO didn’t ask ratepayers for approval before spending over 35 million of our dollars to get rid of its competition.

more→

Book Review: ‘War,’ by Sebastian Junger

In Books on May 21, 2010 at 2:49 pm

From PHILIP SEIB
The Dallas Morning News

Junger observes that “civilians balk at recognizing that one of the most traumatic things about combat is having to give it up.”

On assignment for Vanity Fair , Sebastian Junger made five trips to Afghanistan’s Korengal Valley during 2007 and 2008. What he found was a war that is unknown to Americans whose exposure to the rest of the world consists of skimming a front page or website or glancing at a few minutes of television news. He found skilled and courageous U.S. troops facing an enemy that is so fierce and well organized that it is capable of overrunning American outposts.

Junger, best known as author of The Perfect Storm, spent his visits in the midst of combat, talking to grunts rather than generals. The soldiers he lived with were line infantry: “They fought on foot and carried everything they needed on their backs.” His descriptions of firefights are bloody and thrilling, but the most valuable aspect of his book is his thoughtful examination of what it means to be a fighter – the individual and collective psychology of combat.

He writes that being in battle “is insanely exciting,” and adds, “There’s so much human energy involved – so much courage, so much honor, so much blood – you could easily go a year here without questioning whether any of this needs to be happening in the first place.” He notes, “The moral basis of the war doesn’t seem to interest soldiers much, and its long-term success or failure has a relevance of almost zero.”

What is relevant is keeping yourself and your friends alive, which requires skills that Junger learned to appreciate. “Stripped to its essence,” he writes, “combat is a series of quick decisions and rather precise actions carried out in concert with ten or twelve other men.”

For much of his time in Afghanistan, Junger saw combat almost constantly and watched what it did to the troops he lived with. He learned to understand fear, which he says “has a whole taxonomy – anxiety, dread, panic, foreboding – and you could be braced for one form and completely fall apart facing another.” One soldier observed, “It’s okay to be scared; you just don’t want to show it.”

More here
~~

Rachel Maddow: Why Rand Paul Doesn’t Get It

In Around the web on May 21, 2010 at 8:30 am

From FIREDOGLAKE

In 1964, the United States enacted the Civil Rights Act outlawing discrimination in all public facilities, whether privately owned or public. Kudos to MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow for displaying the language of Title II, which establishes as the law of this land, enforceable by injunction, the following fundamental human rights:

All persons shall be entitled to the full and equal enjoyment of the goods, services, facilities and privileges, advantages and accommodations of any place of public accommodation, as defined in this section, without discrimination or segregation on the ground of race, color, religion or national origin.

Notwithstanding the members of the Texas School Board and the sensibilities of libertarians, every American should read, understand and cherish these words. They establish the basic democratic principle — still not complete — that America will demand our businesses and government institutions treat all of us fairly. I don’t know how you can have a democracy worth defending without that principle.

Despite claims of principle, Rand Paul does not appear to accept this core American value. His opposition is not principled, though he would have you believe so. When pushed to explain his real beliefs, whether with local press, CNN, or Maddow’s show, or even in politically dictated clarifying statements, he has repeatedly evaded the central question, changed the subject or distracted the questioner with some irrelevant point that just so happened to be more dog whistles to his fanatical supporters.

Paul has been asked at least a dozen times whether he agrees with the core principle that America’s businesses should not be allowed to discriminate. But instead of saying “yes,” he’s told us he’s not racist himself, though no interviewer has made that charge. He’s said he doesn’t approve of discrimination and wouldn’t join a private club that discriminated, but that was never the issue. He’s said we should worry about gun rights, though no interviewer made any connection between the 2nd Amendment and the core principle of non-discrimination. And he’s tried to go off on free speech, when that has nothing to do with whether or not he supports using government to end discrimination in accommodations.

It’s appalling enough that Rand and his supporters would reopen an issue whose history of violence and inhuman treatment remains an indelible stain on who we’ve been, and who some would remain…

More with Video here
~~



Ukiah Farmers Market Today Saturday 5/22/10

In Around Mendo Island on May 21, 2010 at 7:42 am


Springdale, Utah

From SCOTT CRATTY
Ukiah

Friends of the Farmers’ Market,

Greetings.  It seems timely to remind everyone that, whatever the weather, your loyal local farmers will be out on School Street in Ukiah Saturday morning with farm fresh goodies, and heaps of other good stuff grown, raised, or made right around here.

Perhaps you have been interested in trying lamb but not sure how to prepare it?  Be at the market Saturday at about 10:15.  Chef Jacquie Lee will be providing this season’s first Ukiah Natural Food’s sponsored cooking demonstration.  She can show you how to do great things with lamb and you will get an opportunity to sample some of the excellent Owen Family lamb that is available every week at the Saturday Market.

Robinson Creek Flower Farm is expected back at the market, plus two long-time Willits vendors plan to try out the Ukiah market this weekend: Sweetie Pies (who make pies) and a new craft vendor.

Last week we had 23 agricultural (farms, nurseries, ranches, sea foods) vendors and 14 prepared food and/or craft vendors.  That is a total of 37 shopping options in one compact location.  To give you a sense how the market has evolved, on the same week of the season in 2007 we had a total of 18 vendors, in 2008 there were 28, 2009 brought 35.  This Saturday we might hit 40.  That makes for a dynamic and interesting market, but it also requires a lot of consistent community support to maintain.

You can also enjoy free live music by Bob Laughton and Kristine Robin.

Please plan to come enjoy the market, and bring a friend.

8:30am to noon, on School Street starting at Clay St, Ukiah
~~

Muddling Toward Victory Gardens

In Around the web on May 20, 2010 at 8:49 am

From JOHN MICHAEL GREER
The Archdruid Report

The uncontrolled simplification of a complex system is rarely a welcome event for those people whose lives depend on the system in question. That’s one way to summarize the impact of the waves of trouble rolling up against the sand castles we are pleased to call the world’s modern industrial nations. Exactly how the interaction between sand and tide will work out is anyone’s guess at this point; the forces that undergird that collision have filled the pages of this blog for a year and a half now; here, and for the next few posts, I want to talk a bit about what can be done to deal with the consequences.

That requires, first of all, recognizing what can’t be done. Plenty of people have argued that the only valid response to the rising spiral of crisis faced by industrial civilization is to build a completely new civilization from the ground up on more idealistic lines. Even if that latter phrase wasn’t a guarantee of disaster – if there’s one lesson history teaches, it’s that human societies are organic growths, and trying to invent one to fit some abstract idea of goodness is as foredoomed as trying to make an ecosystem do what human beings want – we no longer have time for grand schemes of that sort. To shift metaphors, when your ship has already hit the iceberg and the water’s coming in, it’s a bit too late to suggest that it should be rebuilt from the keel up according to some new scheme of naval engineering.

An even larger number of people have argued with equal zeal that the only valid response to the predicament of our time is to save the existing order of things, with whatever modest improvements the person in question happens to fancy, because the alternative is too horrible to contemplate. They might be right, too, if saving the existing order of things was possible, but it’s not. A global civilization that is utterly dependent for its survival on ever-expanding supplies of cheap abundant energy and a stable planetary biosphere is simply not going to make it in a world of ever-contracting supplies of scarce and expensive energy and a planetary biosphere that the civilization’s own activities are pushing into radical instability. Again, when your ship has already hit the iceberg and the water’s coming in, it’s not helpful to insist that the only option is to keep steaming toward a distant port. more→

Mendocino Perspectives – What Should Be The Future of Mendocino County?

In Uncategorized on May 19, 2010 at 2:44 pm

From MENDOCINO PERSPECTIVES

Conversations today for a healthier community tomorrow

Welcome to Mendo Perspectives Blog, a place where concerned community members can discuss, suggest and weigh-in on what the future holds for our county. Where you can give your feedback based on articles and surveys as a means to gather and provide useful data geared towards finding compromise and common ground for a prosperous community in the not to distant future.

Please take a few minutes to complete our survey:

http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/HKWJMTN

Mendocino County is at a crossroads

Many residents of Mendocino County wish to see the development of new industries, planned growth, and to create a sustainable economy that, they believe, will lead to a more prosperous place to live. There are others that claim by doing this will create overcrowding and sprawl and that County is fine the way it is considering future development and growth to be harmful to both the ecology and economy.

Mendocino County has always been a place of forward thinking individuals who are passionate about their beliefs and band together to influence public opinion. If we are to prosper as well as maintain our County’s natural beauty, we must be willing to achieve common ground on fundamental issues, to serve as the foundation for our as well as future generations.

The need to bring citizens together to engage in a positive and useful dialog, with the goal to achieve balance and build consensus within our community, is paramount.

This blogsite is an opportunity for community members to open and exchange ideas, opinions and perspectives in a productive way to build a stronger healthier community.

Consider the possibility that change is inevitable….. What is your biggest concern for Mendocino County’s future? What kind of change could you see as positive?

New posts will be added and results from surveys posted for your enjoyment. Survey results may be presented to local governments for consideration.

Your comments and feedback are also invited in “Comment” below.

“About us” is here
~~

Don Sanderson: Climate Change Modeling Defended

In Around the web on May 19, 2010 at 1:00 am

From DON SANDERSON
Hopland

I generally find Alexander Cockburn’s prejudices agree with mine. Several of his columns recently [in the AVA] essentially hawking the fossil fuel corporations’ line on global warming, however, deserve an answer.

Mathematical modeling seems to be his pet peeve: “These quack science models are … skewed by the modelers’ doctrinaire anti-carbon passion…” driven by “dependence of their salaries on the expectations of the funding agencies.” Wow, we have a new religion, it seems.

El Niño has recently dampened the Southwest and the present sunspot cycle has cooled solar radiation, but these are temporary though may be expected to periodically and unpredictably recur. As astrophysicists have explained in detail, on the average the sun is surely warming, has been for the entire life of our planet, and the Earth will surely eventually burn up. It has been conjectured that the ice ages are the Gaia’s, that is the living Earth’s, way to stay cool. Those who have studied the periods between ice ages have noted they typically have both rapidly began and ended, but why so isn’t understood. Given the durations of earlier ones, this one likely should be ending – the so-called little ice age beginning in the fifteenth century may have portended this. But, the fossil-fueled industrial age appears to have interrupted it. Atmospheric carbon dioxide measurements have been made by various methods trailing back to the beginning of the industrial age and before; the growth of fossil fuel usage, atmospheric carbon dioxide, and the rise of global temperatures over this period positively correlate, which of course doesn’t prove relationships, but ….Also, in spite of determined searching, no one has found any driver for the rapidity at which global warming is occurring other than human-generated greenhouse gasses. Two and two make four in my book, yet even the best correlations only suggest causal relationships. We need to dig deeper.

But, wait. Many thousands of pages of research articles have been published reporting what many scientists are finding by collecting data on the melting ice caps, about mostly retreating glaciers, about the warming, increasingly acidic, and expanding ocean and the effects these are having, about the melting tundra, about expanding deserts and declining forests, rain and otherwise, and so on. more→

Jim Mastin: Do Not Privitize Our Garbage!

In !ACTION CENTER!, Around Mendo Island on May 18, 2010 at 11:30 pm

From JIM MASTIN
Mendocino County

To: Mendocino County Board of Supervisors

Dear Chair Brown,

Due to a series of meetings I must attend in Sacramento on Tuesday I am unable to personally address the Board regarding agenda item #5D (Review and Possible Adoption of Solid Wastes of Willits, Inc. Proposed Contract…). Please distribute my comments to the Board for their consideration.

As a resident of Mendocino County, former member of the Mendocino Solid Waste Management Authority and as a candidate for supervisor I strongly oppose the proposed contract and urge a no vote by the Board of Supervisors.

Many areas of the proposal should be of immediate concern (i.e., eliminating bi-lingual educational materials, lack of diversion performance requirements, elimination of wood and yard waste recycling at the Albion Transfer Station, failure of many performance compliance issues, reported overcharging of over half its customers including all of its South Coast customers, and more).

I understand that the County cannot afford to subsidize transfer station operations and that privatizing the operation is one option.

Another way would be for the County to raise gate fees and cut expenses sufficiently to allow the transfer stations to break even. That’s what’s being offered by Solid Waste of Willits, but does not give away control of our county’s waste stream.

In choosing between these courses of action, I hope that you will keep the following points in mind:

1.  Giving long-term extensions to Solid Wastes of Willits for its franchise collection contracts is a major benefit to them. Would the County — and the public — get fair value, or any value, from this concession?

2.  Fifteen years is a long term for an exclusive solid waste contract, especially if it has automatic rate adjustments that could substantially boost the gate fee every year. Can anyone predict if the gate fee will fairly reflect the actual costs of operation five years or ten years into the contract?

more→

Is There Rehab For This Oil Overdose?

In Around the web on May 18, 2010 at 11:29 pm

From CAROLYN BAKER
Speaking Truth To Power Blog

[...] Before the addict experiences a fatal overdose and ravages everyone and everything around him, there is always the choice to end the addiction and enter treatment. Treatment involves withdrawal from the substance, then taking a long, exhaustive, meticulous look inside oneself to confront the demon of the addiction. Much support is necessary; the addict cannot make the journey alone.

The Transition Handbook frames our dependence on hydrocarbon energy in terms of an addiction. We can blame, rationalize, project, deny-we can employ whatever defense mechanism we choose from humanity’s vast repertoire of them, but like the hard core addict, the human race is committing suicide. It is willing to kill every form of life in the oceans, cause the extinction of every species on earth, pollute every cubic inch of breathable air, poison every drop of water on the planet, and yes, enable an unfathomable cataclysm such as we are witnessing in the Gulf of Mexico at this moment, in order to perpetuate the lifestyle to which it feels entitled. Like all addictions, this one is both irrational and insane.

Every person who has chosen to research Peak Oil, climate change, global economic meltdown, species extinction, and population overshoot is not unlike an addict who has some moment of clarity in which he can actually choose to walk to the nearest rehab facility and fall on his face screaming for help. None of us can do that investigative work without the massive support of other “cheap energy addicts in recovery”. None of us can do it without a spiritual as well as a logistical recovery program which all authentic recovery absolutely requires.

Like the recovering addict there will be moments of terror about what the future holds, more→

Book Review: The Art of Racing in the Rain

In Books on May 17, 2010 at 10:33 pm

From BOOKREPORTER.COM

“…a warm hug of a story.”

In Garth Stein’s touching story, the appealing narrator is a dog named Enzo, who (of course) cannot communicate as he’d like to, by talking with his family. Instead, he pours his considerable heart and spirit into this book, sharing his experiences and reflections with readers. Although Enzo is frustrated with his limitations as a canine, he comforts himself with the fact that, according to a documentary he watched about Mongolia (Enzo is a dedicated television viewer), he will be reincarnated as a human. And he knows a lot about being a human after watching his master Denny Swift, who is a hero to him.

At the beginning of the book, Enzo is just barely clinging to life, so he spends time reflecting upon his past. As Denny, who is a race car driver, has told him, drivers cannot contemplate their moves while they make them. Racing is like living; you can only do it and then remember it at a later date. For Enzo, in these last days he immerses himself in memories.

His reminiscences begin with the day Denny chose him out of a heap of puppies, taking him from a country farm to an apartment in Seattle. Although Enzo doesn’t enjoy living there, he adores Denny and thus looks on this as a good life. He later develops a fondness for Eve, “the interloper,” who Denny falls in love with and marries. He stands in literally for Denny on the day that his daughter, Zoë, is born. Denny is off racing in Daytona, Florida while Enzo is at the new mother’s side.

For Denny, the joyous day of Zoë’s birth is overshadowed as his racing career takes a beating. After a year of obtaining sponsorships in order to enter the race, he loses this hard-won opportunity to shine when a driver on his team has an accident… More here
~~

PG&E Proposition 16 Update

In Around the web on May 17, 2010 at 9:22 pm

From BILL McEWEN
The Fresno Bee

The mail the other day brought the usual offers for debt relief and loan modifications, along with something new: a slick flier declaring that Proposition 16 would stick up for people sick of government debt. I had a hard time deciding who peddled the biggest scam — the mortgage and credit card debt hustlers, or Pacific Gas & Electric, which is spending $35 million backing Proposition 16.

The utility monopoly is trying to rejigger the state constitution and protect its bottom line against start-up municipal power companies. And it’s using a deceptive advertising campaign for a law that would require two-thirds voter approval before local governments go into the power business or existing PG&E competitors expand their territories.

PG&E says Proposition 16, which is on the June ballot, is about choice, voice and transparency. But the so-called Taxpayers Right to Vote Act is more about limiting consumer choice, preserving monopolies and keeping utility rates high.

In the time since I last wrote about Proposition 16, opponents have been working to overcome PG&E’s deep pockets and cut through the baloney served by company shills. For example, John Geesman, a renewable energy advocate and former member of the California Energy Commission, uncovered the truth behind PG&E’s initiative by wading through the transcript of a company shareholders meeting. Geesman blogged thatPG&E  chief executive officer Peter Darbee told shareholders that the goal was to defeat local power choice once and for all instead of having to continually fend off the specter of customer defection. Darbee also speculated that voters would be receptive to Proposition 16 because of anti-government anger. more→

Regulating the disaster

In Around the web on May 17, 2010 at 5:33 pm

From SHARON ASTYK
Casaubon’s Book Blog

As long as we desperately need oil to run our economy – and we have done virtually nothing to meaningfully transition off oil – we can clamor for regulation that will keep us safe, but cannot actually propose the measures that would work. We are too deeply invested in the cause.

We still don’t have the faintest idea how much oil is spewing out of the well in the Gulf. Nor do we have the faintest idea what the full environmental consequence of what may well be the biggest single-event human-caused. ecological disaster of all time (the very fact that I have to add the word “single-event” to that statement should tell you something). We know that it is almost certainly more than all the low estimates to date, and we know that the ecological consequences will be huge, lasting and we do not understand them.

That is, we know some of the potential effects, we know they will be horrible and devastating to oceans, wildlife, people, communities and the nation, that they will play out in ecologies both human and wild, in politics, economics, in day to day life in thousands and thousands of ways, all of them horrible. We know that the costs will be unendurable and we know that they will play out not over weeks, but over years and decades. And we also know that we don’t know what many of them will be. Consider this AP report:

The loop current could carry oil from the spill east and spread it about 450 miles to the Florida Keys, while the Louisiana coastal current could move the oil as far west as central Texas... More here
~~

A Plutocratic Universe

In Around the web on May 17, 2010 at 8:49 am

From GLENN W. SMITH
FireDogLake.com

It’s not lost on the elite that the world is fast approaching the inevitable global Resource Wars. And that means that in America, the real struggle is between democracy and plutocracy, as the plutocrats place as many barriers as possible (voter i.d., secrecy, assaults on privacy, great income disparity and enforced poverty) between the government and the governed. They may not affect a science-fiction escape to another planet, but they might escape to Dubai.

Autocrats, plutocrats, authoritarian ideologues and elitists of all stripes speak often of the people’s inability to govern themselves in a complex world that requires expertise – namely, the self-justifying expertise of the elite themselves. With surprising frankness, federal appeals court Judge Richard A. Posner summed up the elite’s paternalistic rationale:

Few citizens have the formidable intellectual and moral capacities (let alone the time) required for the role that [popular democracy] assigns to the citizenry…

The anti-democratic sentiment is hard enough to stomach. But what really galls is the blindness to an indisputable fact of history:  it’s the autocrats, plutocrats, dictators, duci, fuhrers, imperial presidents and corporate barons who have lacked the necessary “intellectual and moral capacities” to cope.

More at FireDogLake
~~

There’s a Reason We Need to Keep Reminding People About George W. Bush

In Around the web on May 15, 2010 at 7:43 pm

From CROOKS AND LIARS

The other day, Rep. Ed Markey made the following mundane but true observation:

For years, the Bush administration’s oil strategy placed the granting of drilling leases ahead of safety review.

This irked Neil Cavuto no end:

Ipso-facto — Bush to blame for the big leak-o.

Just like he’s apparently behind that big thousand-point swing-o.

Just like he’s to blame for the unemployment rate that’s higher than when he left office, and the deficits that are much higher than any year he was in office.

All problems, all Bush, all the time — probably until the end of time.

Cavuto wants a “statute of limitations” on blaming Bush. “Just give it a break,” he pleaded.

Nuh-uh.

It’s true that the miseries we’re currently enduring are not merely the fault of the sole personage of George W. Bush, the man now widely viewed by conservatives as The Man Who Betrayed Conservative Values. He had lots and lots of help. In fact, he had millions of little helpers — all those movement conservatives who now want to pretend that he wasn’t a real conservative.

This is because, in reality, Bush is The Man Who Nearly Destroyed the American Economy. It wasn’t Bush’s “betrayal” of the “conservative values” they believe are so time-honored and proven that caused his abysmal failure — it was those values themselves, and Bush’s steady adherence to them throughout his tenure. more→

Plummeting Marijuana Prices Create A Panic In The Emerald Triangle

In Around Mendo Island on May 15, 2010 at 7:13 pm

From KQED

For decades, illegal marijuana cultivation has been an economic lifeblood for three counties in northern California known as the Emerald Triangle.

The war on drugs and frequent raids by federal drug agents have helped support the local economy — keeping prices for street sales of pot high and keeping profits rich.

But high times are changing. Legal pot, under the guise of the California’s medical marijuana laws, has spurred a rush of new competition. As a result, the wholesale price of pot grown in these areas is plunging.

Demand Not Meeting Supply

In 1983, the Reagan administration launched a massive air and ground campaign to eradicate pot and lock up growers in northern California. Charley Custer, a writer and community activist, had just arrived to Humboldt County from Chicago. With the Reagan crackdown, Custer recalls, wholesale prices shot up — to as high as $5,000 a pound. That sudden and ironic windfall for those growers willing to risk prison time transformed the community.

“A lot of people were living on welfare and peanut butter and banana sandwiches for a long time before pot made it possible to be part of the middle class,” Custer says.

Nearly 30 years later, Custer says that boom may be over.

“Outdoor growers are having a hard time unloading their fall harvest,” Custer says. “And this is six months later and when some people do move it, they don’t get nearly the price they were hoping for.” more→

This Is What Happens Sometimes When You Play God

In Around the web on May 15, 2010 at 3:56 pm

From ROBERT C. KOEHLER
Energy Bulletin

Dark Green

This is what happens sometimes when you play God:

“Birds dropped from the air. The sky rained mud. And, as men from the rig struggled to save themselves from the aftermath of (the) explosion . . . the Gulf of Mexico itself caught on fire.”

The Washington Post, covering a federal inquiry into the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, summarized the scene, described by witnesses on a nearby supply ship, as “almost Biblical” – which is sort of a comic-book expression these days, but conjures up a moment of superstitious awe that, God knows, seems appropriate. This is love of nature stood on its head: nature as (wow!) spectacle. What a symbol for the profound alienation of our times.

And we’re all caught up in this crisis of faith, no matter where we position ourselves on the political spectrum. No matter how comfortable we are, no matter how securely gated our community, we live with profound insecurity, at the event horizon, you might say, of awareness: Civilization cannot go on this way. Our way of life is unsustainable. If we don’t destroy ourselves with our own nuclear-armed self-hatred, “nature” (as though this were a force separate from us) will do the job for us.

All of which brings me to the Dark Mountain Project, a growing movement out of the U.K. that challenges mainstream environmentalism, which it sees as hopelessly compromised, collusive with global capitalism and the myth of material progress, and tied to technical (rather than spiritual) solutions for the profound structural contradictions of Western civilization.

more→

Investigations You Need To Read

In Around the web on May 15, 2010 at 9:22 am

From RYAN KNUTSON
ProPublica

A dose of accountability news:

  • Bloomberg tracked dollars around the world to show how companies avoid paying [1] billions in taxes through a method known as “transfer pricing.”
  • The New York Times reports that federal regulators skirted permit requirements [2] when allowing BP and other companies to drill in the Gulf of Mexico.
  • In Texas, a stimulus program to weatherize homes has been executed so poorly [3]that 60 percent of the projects need to be redone, according to the Texas Watchdog.
  • More people in the military are being hospitalized [4] for mental disorders than for injuries, according to the USA Today. Last month was the first time that has occurred in the 15 years since tracking such data began.
  • The Securities and Exchange Commission is eyeing another part of Wall Street, reports The Wall Street Journal. This time, it’s looking at banks that sold municipal bonds yet set themselves up to profit from their failure [5] ($).

These stories are part of our ongoing roundup of investigations from other news outlets. For more, visit our Investigations Elsewhere page.
~~

My Bad

In Guest Posts on May 14, 2010 at 1:02 pm

From TODD WALTON
Anderson Valley

(This article originally appeared in the Anderson Valley Advertiser May 2010)

I first heard the expression My Bad used on a basketball court circa 1975. The expression most likely came into being among jazz musicians, for many of the most popular expressions emanating from black America were first used by musicians and then quickly adapted to the basketball court. By the time these expressions were in common usage among white people, their original meanings were frequently distorted and even reversed. The most famous example of such reversal is the expression Up Tight. Originally an expression of praise for excellent playing by an improvising musician, and used with that original meaning by Little Stevie Wonder singing, “Up tight outta sight,” white folk eventually deformed the phrase to mean tense, as in “I am so uptight.” Fascinating, no?

My immediate inspiration for writing this piece is the catastrophic oil flood ongoing in the Gulf of Mexico and the grief my friends and I are feeling about the catastrophe. I refuse to call this horror a leak or a spill, for it is a flood that will likely render the Gulf of Mexico a dead sea for the rest of our mortal lives. So what does the ruination of the Gulf of Mexico have to do with the expression My Bad? I will tell you.

Nowadays the expression My Bad is generally used to mean My Mistake. Someone spills a cup of coffee and says, “Oops. My bad.” Or someone forgets to bring the beer and apologizes with, “Sorry. My bad.” But the original meaning of the expression was more profound than a simple apology. To illustrate: I am playing a game of basketball. My teammate makes a poor pass and despite my best effort I am barely able to touch the ball before it goes out of bounds. more→

Drug Stores vs. Natural Food Stores

In Around the web on May 14, 2010 at 12:24 pm

Click To Enlarge
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Book Review: Women Food and God

In Around the web, Books on May 14, 2010 at 9:32 am

From RAISE HEALTHY EATERS

Today on her show Oprah will announce that she will never diet again. Many of us who embrace a non-diet approach to healthy living are doing the happy dance. We’ve seen Oprah struggle and have been waiting for the day she would learn to eat more intuitively – and use her platform to get the message out.

The person responsible for Oprah’s “aha” moment is Geneen Roth, the author of the new bestseller, Women Food and God: An Unexpected Path to Almost Everything. Roth has gained and lost 1000 pounds in her lifetime bouncing between anorexia and obesity. When I heard of this book I rushed to the store and devoured it.

And, of course, I had to tell you all about it.

The premise
“No matter how developed you are in any other areas of your life, no matter what you say you believe, no matter how sophisticated or enlightened you think you are, how you eat says it all”

This is the crux of Roth’s message. After years of many highs and lows in both her weight and emotional state, she decided to give up the struggle with food and her body. She not only naturally fell to the right weight for her, she found her true self in the process.

Roth is not new to writing books or helping women conquer their issues with food. But for the first time the mainstream might be ready for what she has to say. Having Oprah’s endorsement is a major plus, but it helps that many women are tiring of the endless quest for the perfect weight, body and diet.

More here
~~

Michael Pollan Immortalized as Heirloom Tomato

In Around the web on May 13, 2010 at 9:32 am

From THE FOOD SECTION

Author and food luminary Michael Pollan has been widely praised for his thoughtful inquiries into how our food is produced and what it means for our health and environment. For his work and impact, he was recently named to Time‘s annual Time 100 list of noted figures.

So, it is not surprising that the next logical step in his apotheosis, would, of course, be his immortalization as an heirloom tomato.

According to anniesannuals.com:

‘Michael Pollan’ is an odd shaped mutant! (The tomato that is.) Egg shaped fruits are yellow with green stripes & some have little “nubbins” on the ends. Related to ‘Green Zebra’ but with a milder taste & a good amount of sweetness. Very popular in taste tests. Plus the bloom on this variety is reported to be quite showy. Nice! Named after the amazing author & teacher -whose books we highly recommend.

As esteemed as Pollan — the writer — may be, his tomato self is not immune from the vagaries of agriculture: “‘Michael Pollan’ is possibly susceptible to Blossom End Rot so make sure & water him evenly to prevent this from occurring. The tomato that is!”
~~

Dave Pollard: Integrating Six Models of a Better Way to Live

In Around the web on May 12, 2010 at 8:06 am

From DAVE POLLARD
How To Save The World Blog

Since I’ve retired I’ve been spending more time meeting with people in, and learning more about, six movements that are proposing, and working to implement, models of a better way to live. My motivation for this is simple: I believe our industrial civilization is going to collapse (in cascading spasms) in this century, and I want my grandchildren to have the tools and knowledge to deal with the crash and, if they survive it, to create a more sustainable society in its aftermath.

The six movements are:

  1. The Transition Movement: Originally developed to allow communities to prepare for the End of Oil and make the transition to a low-energy, renewable-energy future, this movement has now expanded its scope to encompass preparations to adapt to the effects of inevitable dramatic climate change in the coming decades.
  2. The Permaculture / Cradle-to-Cradle Sustainability Movements: Although the term “permaculture” is being generalized to include anything and everything related to economic and ecological sustainability, at its core it is about natural, sustainable food production and local food self-sufficiency. The Cradle-to-Cradle movement is the analogous (to permaculture) approach for production of other goods, with everything reused and restorable so there is no waste, no loss of value, ever.
  3. The Intentional Communities Movement: This movement is principally about encouraging cooperative and collective housing, though it extends to helping people find others with common values and helping them build on these values, and deal with the challenges of communal living, such as achieving consensus and resolving conflicts… More here
    ~~

How Do Christians Become Conservative?

In Around the web on May 11, 2010 at 10:01 pm

From MIKE LUX
Progressive Strategies

Apparently since “the poor will always be with us”, we can go ahead and screw them. But Jesus making a prediction that there will always be oppressive societies doesn’t mean he wanted us to join the oppressors. By clinging desperately to that one verse in the Bible, and ignoring all the others about the poor and the rich, Christian conservatives show themselves to be hypocrites, plain and simple.

When you are in the political world, you have decisions to make every single day about who you will try to help and who you won’t. In spite of the earnest quest of good technocrats everywhere, the simple fact is that there are only a few win-win solutions. Who you tax, who you give a tax break to, what programs you cut or add to, who you tighten regulations on, and who you loosen them on, what kind of contractors are eligible for government work, which school districts and non-profit groups get federal money, etc: these political decisions are generally not win-win. Instead, they mean that one group of people win, and one group of people loses. It is the nature of politics, and you can’t take the politics out of politics.

The most fundamental difference between progressives and conservatives is that question of which side you are on. Conservatives believe that the rich and powerful got that way because they deserve to be, that society owes its prosperity to the prosperous, and that government’s job when they have to make choices is to side with those businesspeople who are doing well, because all good things trickle down from them. Progressives, on the other hand, believe it is the poor and those who are ill-treated who need the most help from their government, and that prosperity comes from all of us — the worker as well as the employer, the consumer as well as the seller, the struggling entrepreneur trying to make it as well as the wealthy who already have. more→

The Second Leg of the Great Depression Was Caused by European Defaults

In Around the web on May 11, 2010 at 9:46 pm

From WASHINGTON’S BLOG

Many Americans know that the Great Depression was started by the bursting of the giant Wall Street bubble of the 1920′s (fueled by the use of bank deposits on speculative gambling, which is why Glass-Steagall was passed) , which in turn caused a run on American banks.

But most Americans don’t know that the second leg of the Depression was caused by European defaults.

As Yves Smith reminds us:

Recall that the Great Depression nadir was the sovereign debt default phase.

The second leg down of the Depression was larger than the first, as shown by this chart of the Dow:

The second leg down was primarily initiated by the failure of the Creditanstalt bank in Austria. Creditanstalt (also spelled Kreditanstalt) declared bankruptcy in May 1931.

As Time Magazine noted on November 2, 1931:

May 14 [1931]: First thunderclap of the present crisis: collapse in Vienna of Kreditanstalt, colossal Rothschild bank, which is taken over by the Austrian Government, shaking confidence in related German banks.

Underwater Oil Volcano: Worst Case Scenario (Updated)

In Around the web on May 11, 2010 at 7:55 am

From NATURAL NEWS

Reports about the massive Gulf of Mexico oil spill have been largely underestimated, according to commentators, including Paul Noel, a Software Engineer for the U.S. Army at Redstone Arsenal in Alabama. He believes that the pocket of oil that’s been hit is so powerful and under so much pressure that it may be virtually impossible to contain it. And Noel is not the only person questioning the scope of this disaster.

A recent story from the Christian Science Monitor (CSM) reports that many independent scientists believe the leak is spewing far more than the 5,000 barrels, or 210,000 gallons, per day being reported by most media sources. They believe the leak could be discharging up to 25,000 barrels (more than one million gallons) of crude oil a day right now.

The riser pipe that was bent and crimped after the oil rig sank is restricting some of the flow from the tapped oil pocket, but as the leaking oil rushes into the well’s riser, it is forcing sand with it at very high speeds and “sand blasting” the pipe (which is quickly eroding its structural integrity).

According to a leaked National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration memo obtained by an Alabama newspaper, if the riser erodes any further and creates more leaks, up to 50,000 barrels, or 2.1 million gallons, per day of crude oil could begin flooding Gulf waters every day. more→

Real Systemic Risk

In Around the web on May 11, 2010 at 7:50 am

From THE AUTOMATIC EARTH

[...] The real, the main, the major systemic risk is not in the banking or even the economic system. It’s in the political system. And neither of them can or will eventually be saved.

The real systemic risk lies in the fact that politicians the world around operate on the premise that if they don’t rock the cradle of the banking herd too hard, they’ll survive to receive another round of hand outs and serve another term. And another. That and most of them are absolutely clueless when it comes to the field they’re supposed to oversee and regulate. And the only people who can tell them how and what are the lobbyists who work for the very parties they’re there to regulate.

That is real systemic risk. The kind that would affect you yourself. The political system versus the economic system. And they have become hard to tell apart, because they serve the same purpose.

The link to the oil disaster? Halliburton poured cement into “the hole” based on depth information they received from BP. Turned out, the problem was way deeper, and the pressure, therefore, was way stronger. And then it all blew.

What better metaphor for all of you to understand what’s going on in the marketplace today? The EU pours $1 trillion down the hole, but the hole is far deeper than anyone seems to realize. Perfect metaphor.

The markets in the days to come? Volatility rules. While all the stock exchanges had their lofty gains, the euro was at $1.2752 Friday afternoon, and it’s at $1.2757 right now. Does this require any further explanation? We’re counting down the days, weeks, maybe months.

Volatility, chaos, what’s next? Mayhem?!
~~

Should the Ukiah Valley Become the Killing Fields for the Bay Area?

In Mendo Island Transition, Mendo Slaughterhouse on May 10, 2010 at 5:25 pm

From SAMUEL FROMARTZ
ChewsWise

Factory Farm “sounded like children being tortured. And it didn’t stop.”

Jane Black of the Washington Post interviewed David Kirby, author of ‘Animal Factory’ . This one passage really stuck out.

Q: Of all the shocking statistics and stories in the book, what is the one that affected you most?

A: I visited 20 states. I saw things I never thought I would see. I smelled things I never thought I would smell in my life. But one night, I was at a small family farm in Illinois that raised pigs. Across the street was a pig factory. It was at night. The workers had gone home. And as soon as it got dark, you could hear the screams and the squealing and the crying. It was not like one pig over there. Like hundreds.

Q: Did something happen?

A: No. This was just a night on a factory farm. Because the pigs get bigger and bigger and the pens don’t. And they fight. It sounded like children being tortured. And it didn’t stop. It was the most haunting and most tragic sound I’ve ever heard. And I think it was because it didn’t stop. If there had been a commotion in the barn and they all started making noise, I might have forgotten about it. But this was arresting. That tells me these are really unhealthy animals, that there are too many animals and that they really are stressed out.
~
See also Again: Slaughter On The Farm With Mobile Units
~~

The Economics of Organic Farming

In Around Mendo Island on May 10, 2010 at 8:36 am

From OLGA BONFIGLIO
CommonDreams.org

["Biodynamic heaven" above from Live Power Community Farm, Covelo, Mendocino County, where I get my weekly basket of dense nutrition. Now recruiting members for this season in Willits, Ukiah, Marin County, and Bay Area. See interview here. -DS]

Growing local organic food may be the best path toward economic recovery.  It may also be key to building stronger and healthier communities.

“Our [struggling] economy is making a compelling case that we shift toward more local food,” said Ken Meter of the Crossroads Resource Center in Minneapolis.  “The current system fails on all counts and it’s very efficient at taking wealth out of our communities.”

Meter spoke at the annual conference of the Midwest Organic & Sustainable Education Service (MOSES) held recently in La Crosse, Wisc.

The bank bailouts have stabilized the crisis but they haven’t addressed wealth in local communities, he said.  It’s likely that change may come through food because it is the third largest household expense (12.4 percent or $6,133) and $1 trillion nationally.  The average consumer spends $49,638 per year with housing the largest expense (34 percent or $16,900), transportation number three (17.6 percent or $8,753) and insurance number four (10.8 percent or $5,336) (visualeconomics.com).

“Everyone needs to eat and a local food economy forces us to think differently,” said Meter.

Meter shared figures from his study of southwestern Wisconsin where 106,000 residents earn a total income of $2.7 billion.  However, 30 percent of the people live below the poverty line.  Out of 6,804 farms, 586 farmers sell less than $10,000 per year while 11 percent sell more than $100,000.  Only 382 farms sell directly to consumers and 133 farms are organic.  Such disparities result in lop-sided and unfair policies that need to be changed to meet everyone’s needs, Meter pointed out. more→

Addicted to Permanent Thoughtlessness

In Around the web on May 9, 2010 at 11:01 pm

From FRONT PORCH REPUBLIC
Exerpted

[...] We are living through the aftershocks of a world pressed by limits to growth, and – addicted to that condition of permanent thoughtlessness, and having been told that the permanence pf growth was ensured by the solidity of industry and government alike – today demand increasing debt to make up for declining wealth. The worldwide deleveraging that we have sought to forestall by means of “stimuli” and financial chicanery will be all the more painful and dislocating with every day that we put off our reckoning.

The ancient Greeks were the source of a kind of wisdom about self-government that today’s Greeks – and the rest of the world – have forgotten, only after Europeans and Americans (especially) over the past several hundred years explicitly overturned their influence – particularly the legacy of that inheritance in Christendom. Bans against “usury” – now regarded as quaint and incomprehensible – were most fundamentally bans upon current generations stealing from future generations. Limits upon debt were established to prevent people from living beyond their means, to constrain their appetites to what was appropriate within the limits of the world. It is an ancient teaching that we are rediscovering not by dint of wisdom and a habituated capacity to embrace self-rule, but by dint of having no other choice.

Several nights ago, Wendell Berry spoke to a packed – overflowing – auditorium in the Arlington library. Some hope is to be found in the fact that the audience was overwhelmingly composed of young people, wanting to hear from that older man some words about what we are now to do. And he concluded a marvelous evening of reflections and thoughts with a response to a question about Oil and Limits with the reply that he was waiting – as we should all be waiting – for someone to tell us that “we’ve got to use less,” that someone must make a criticism of our “standard of living” and speak in terms of “limits and context.” The context of which he spoke explicitly was that nature was speaking – “very noisily” – to those who would listen, and that the “news from the world” was quite clear that we needed to begin speaking and living under self-imposed limits – or those limits that would be violently imposed upon us.
~
Original Article Crises here
~~

People’s rage is a tool in the hands of the new electronic and digital corporate state

In Around the web on May 8, 2010 at 9:28 am

From JOE BAGEANT
Excerpted

Booze, rage and justice in the participation age

[...] It is now clear to me that the people’s rage is a tool in the hands of the new electronic and digital corporate state. Its various channels, eddies and pools, regardless of type, can be directed toward all sorts of mischief and profit. Left or right, the angry throngs on both sides can be managed and directed. They can be sent chasing various injustices, denouncing evil characters on Wall Street, Times Square bombers, BP executives, or whatever, worked up into slobbering outrage over Sarah Palin, and thus kept divided and working against each other for the benefit of last gasp capitalism.

Once outside the furious drek of American political and economic life, and having finished the last book I will ever write, I found myself asking: “Why did the good in the American people not triumph? How can it be that so many progressive, justice-loving citizens failed? Their positions were well reasoned. The facts were indisputably on their side. Obviously, there was, and is, more going on than merely losing battles to demagoguery and meanness. Why do we lose the important fights so consistently? What has kept us from establishing a more just kingdom? Something is missing.

I think it is, in a word, the spiritual. The stuff that sustained Gandhi and Martin Luther King, and gave them the kind of calm deliberate guts we are not seeing today. I am not talking about religion, but the spirit in each of us, that solitary non-material essence, none the less shared by all humans because we are human. When we let our capitalist overlords cast everything in a purely material light — as material gain or loss for one group or another — we played the oppressor’s game.

more→

Noam Chomsky: Rustbelt Rage

In Around the web on May 7, 2010 at 7:56 pm

From NOAM CHOMSKY
In These Times

An acute sense of betrayal comes readily to people who believed they had fulfilled their duty to society in a moral compact with business and government.

On Feb. 18, Joe Stack, a 53-year-old computer engineer, crashed his small plane into a building in Austin, Texas, hitting an IRS office, committing suicide, killing one other person and injuring others.

Stack left an anti-government manifesto explaining his actions. The story begins when he was a teenager living on a pittance in Harrisburg, Pa., near the heart of what was once a great industrial center.

His neighbor, in her ’80s and surviving on cat food, was the “widowed wife of a retired steel worker. Her husband had worked all his life in the steel mills of central Pennsylvania with promises from big business and the union that, for his 30 years of service, he would have a pension and medical care to look forward to in his retirement.

“Instead he was one of the thousands who got nothing because the incompetent mill management and corrupt union (not to mention the government) raided their pension funds and stole their retirement. All she had was Social Security to live on.”

He could have added that the super-rich and their political allies continue to try to take away Social Security, too.

Stack decided that he couldn’t trust big business and would strike out on his own, only to discover that he also couldn’t trust a government that cared nothing about people like him but only about the rich and privileged; or a legal system in which “there are two `interpretations’ for every law, one for the very rich, and one for the rest of us.”

The government leaves us with “the joke we call the American medical system, including the drug and insurance companies (that) are murdering tens of thousands of people a year,” with care rationed largely by wealth, not need.

more→

A gusher of disaster

In Around the web on May 7, 2010 at 9:29 am

From DMITRY ORLOV
Club Orlov (Excerpted)

An American Chernobyl

[This is not a "spill." The correct term, that has always been used to describe, with glee, the success of an oil find when it blows out is "gusher." Simple as this: If the ocean dies, we die. This is the end of the petroleum age as we've known it. -DS]

The Chernobyl disaster was caused more or less directly by political appointeesm: the people in charge of the reactor control room had no background in nuclear reactor operations or nuclear chemistry, having got their jobs through the Communist Party. They attempted a dangerous experiment, executed it incompetently, and the result was an explosion and a meltdown. The Deepwater Horizon disaster will perhaps be found to have similar causes. BP, the owner of Deepwater Horizon, is chaired by one Carl-Henric Svanberg—a man with no experience in the oil industry. The people who serve on the boards of directors of large companies tend to see management as a sort of free-floating skill, unrelated to any specific field or industry, rather similarly to how the Soviet Communist party thought of and tried to use the talents of its cadres. Allegations are already circulating that BP drilled to a depth of 25000 feet while being licensed to drill up to 18000 feet, that safety reviews of technical documents had been bypassed, and that key pieces of safety equipment were not installed in order to contain costs. It will be interesting to see whether the Deepwater Horizon disaster, like the Chernobyl disaster before it, turns out to be the direct result of management decisions made by technical incompetents…

The political challenges, in both cases, centered on the inability of the political establishment to acquiesce to the fact that a key source of energy (nuclear power or deep-water oil) relied on technology that was unsafe and prone to catastrophic failure. The Chernobyl disaster caused irreparable damage to the reputation of the nuclear industry and foreclosed any further developments in this area. The Deepwater Horizon disaster is likely to do the same for the oil industry, curtailing any possible expansion of drilling in deep water, where much of the remaining oil is to be found, more→

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