Mendo Island Journal — Timely. Useful. Sometimes Cranky.

Archive for July, 2010|Monthly archive page

Mendocino County: Stop Local Privatizing Scams

In !ACTION CENTER!, Dave Smith on July 11, 2010 at 7:39 pm

To the Editors

Heads up!
Reference: Food and Water Watch, Gartner Group

Corporate privateers are milking our current economic turmoil for all its worth. They are approaching cash-starved states, counties, cities, and towns with offers of money in exchange for their public services.

Criminal justice services (including the operation and management of prisons and jails), police protection and health care services to mentally disabled citizens are services now being massively provided throughout the country by private vendors. The lure of lucrative contracts and high profits continue to attract private industry to go after water, waste-water treatment, garbage and recycling systems, education, fire control, road maintenance, parks, transportation, etc.

We have frightened our elected officials of even contemplating tax increases because of anti-democratic propaganda that “government is the problem” and private enterprise is more efficient.

It’s all a despicable, greed-driven lie. more

Bruce Patterson: Why I quit gambling, part 1

In Around Mendo Island, Guest Posts on July 11, 2010 at 7:18 pm

Anderson Valley

An Irishman out the depression era slums of Chicago, my dad was a very hard man. “Hard but fair,” as they said in those days. Born with a steel jaw, an open mind, the gift of gab, a hankering for fun and a powerful sense of propriety, my dad was cool the way Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin were cool. Having been straightened out by his military service during WW2 (he pulled six years), my dad made his living negotiating deals, making pitches, teaching others how, accounting and socializing. Since real business was done up close and personal, face-to-face and on a handshake, his biggest deals were usually made over a fine meal and stiff drinks.

A professional “social drinker,” for over 20 years my dad drank upwards of a 5th of bourbon a day and yet only twice did I see him sloppy drunk. Only rarely did I ever hear him thick-tongued. He never raised his voice, either. Like a rattlesnake, he gave fair warning before striking, and he’d rather bust your nose than raise his voice. Then when he retired and decided to quit drinking except for an occasional nip, that’s what he did and on a dime. The same as when he quit smoking. After going through three or four little plastic boxes of Tic Tac candy, nibbling on them like a chipmunk and feeling silly, he gave up the Tic Tacs, too, and never looked back.

If my mind is a rangy dog let out the car on a country road more

Privatizing Public Services Imperils Us All

In !ACTION CENTER!, Around the web on July 11, 2010 at 6:39 pm

The usual culprits…

Urban Habitat

Over the past few decades, governments at all levels in the United States have been in a perpetual state of deficit. Taxes are way down from their post–World War II levels, and except for a brief period during the tech boom, there is rarely enough money for even basic social services

“It’s been a strategy since the 1970s to ‘starve the beast,’ as Grover Norquist calls it,” says Robert Haaland, an organizer with Service Employees International Union Local 1021.

At the same time, politicians terrified of raising taxes, have been looking for a magic bullet to fix the deficit problem. It goes by many names—privatization, public-private partnerships, competitive outsourcing, creative financing solutions—but the basic idea is to allow the power of competition in an unregulated market to provide the public with the best services at the lowest cost. “To do or to buy is the question that all governments face,” says Ken Jacobs, director of the University of California Berkeley’s Labor Center.

We have been buying.
Since 2000, outsourcing of federal dollars has increased 100 percent, to $422 billion in taxpayer funds, according to a September 2007 study more

Losing our minds to the web

In Books on July 10, 2010 at 8:09 am


Author Carr believes that we are trapped, because the internet is programmed to “scatter our attention” in such a way that aggravates the pernicious influences of some types of information-processing. He concedes it is “possible to think deeply while surfing the net,” only to add this is “not the type of thinking the technology rewards.” The net “turns us into lab rats constantly pressing levers to get tiny pellets of social and intellectual nourishment.” Carr concludes that “with the exception of alphabets and number systems, the net may be the single most powerful mind-altering technology that has ever come into general use.” This leads to an even bleaker vision: “We are evolving from being cultivators of personal knowledge to being hunters and gatherers in the electronic data forest.” -Ron Epstein

An influential new American book claims that the internet is damaging teenagers’ brains and our ability to think. But the web’s real dangers lurk elsewhere

[...] Enter Nicholas Carr, a technology writer and Silicon Valley’s favourite contrarian, whose book The Shallows: What the Internet is Doing to Our Brains (Norton) has just come out in the US more

Todd Walton: Ergo Ego

In Guest Posts on July 10, 2010 at 12:13 am

Under The Table
Anderson Valley

One of my favorite stories about my ego takes place on my fortieth birthday, October 17, 1989. I am riding my bicycle down L Street in Sacramento on my way to a meeting, consumed by thoughts of how absurdly fast the years seem to be passing and how I’d better sell a book or a screenplay pronto or my wife will leave me and I’ll end up living in the bushes by the American River. Suddenly, just ahead of me, dozens of people pour out of a big office building onto the sidewalk, and the first thing that pops into my head is, “How did they know it’s my birthday?”

As I ride by the crowd of people, I wave to them and many wave back to me. I smile, and they smile back at me, and I feel marvelous. And so it continues, block after block, the people pouring out of buildings to greet me as I ride by. How wonderful! I can almost hear them singing Happy Birthday, when, in truth, a great earthquake is shaking northern California and collapsing bridges and roadways in San Francisco and Oakland, while my ego is deftly converting the catastrophe into a celebration of me. more

Lighting the way to a new economy

In !ACTION CENTER!, Around the web on July 9, 2010 at 11:54 pm

Business Alliance for Local Living Economies (BALLE)

Congratulations to Michelle Long for putting together a fantastic new BALLE leadership team with a clear plan to carry forward our mission to catalyze, strengthen and connect networks of locally owned independent businesses dedicated to building strong Local Living Economies. Our Conference theme, and my focus this morning, is on the BALLE vision that our mission serves. Listen carefully. This is serious. We seek:

Within a generation, a global system of human-scale, interconnected Local Living Economies that function in harmony with local ecosystems, meet the basic needs of all people, support just and democratic societies, and foster joyful community life.

You may notice that this is a bit different from the greed-driven, money-centered, unjust, unsustainable, undemocratic, and predatory Wall Street ruled economic system we now have, which is why I’m so proud more

Lucy Neely: My most beloved billboard has been defaced

In Guest Posts on July 9, 2010 at 10:59 am


My most beloved billboard lies between Hopland and Ukiah, just South of the Nelson Vineyards, on the East side of 101. Looking out over the highway and a field of grapes, my beloved billboard was a true gem. Unbridled capitalism at it’s finest. My beloved is a McDonalds french fries advertisement.

Generally, billboards disgust me. Advertising gnaws at my soul – trying to convince us that we are not perfect just the way we are and that we need something we don’t. One evening at Al’s Redwood Room in Willits, a man who looked an awful lot like David Bowie summed it up well: “if it can’t sell by word of mouth, it ain’t worth squat.” And billboards offend me most – marring and disrupting landscapes, so behemoth and obnoxious. They distract! I would like to look at trees if zooming about in an automobile, but over and over I find my eyes drawn to billboard after billboard…

This billboard, though. This billboard was different. I could not bring myself to despise this billboard. It was a platonic ideal, the billboard all other billboards aspire to be. It seeped into the viewer’s brain like a subliminal message and washed over them like a tidal wave of sugar water, more

Vandana Shiva on Geoengineering: ‘You can’t cheat nature… the sun is not the problem… building resiliance is the human response’

In Around the web on July 9, 2010 at 8:44 am

Video Here

AMY GOODMAN: Our guests are Gwynne Dyer, he’s author of Climate Wars: The Fight for Survival as the World Overheats and Vandana Shiva joins us, an Indian environmentalist, scientist, philosopher, global justice activist and eco-feminist. A longtime critic of genetically modified crops and the system of corporate driven agriculture and neoliberal globalization that’s privatized natural resources and impoverished farming and indigenous communities across the global south. Well we’re talking about geoengineering. You just came from giving a speech last night at St. John the Divine. What are your thoughts on geoengineering, Vandana Shiva?

VANDANA SHIVA: Well, three thoughts. The first is, it is the idea of being able to engineer our lives on this very fragile and complex and interrelated and interconnected planet that’s created the mess we are in. It’s an engineering paradigm that created the fossil fuel age that gave us climate change. And Einstein warned us and said you can’t solve problems with the same mindset that created them. more

Phil Ochs: There But For Fortune

In Dave Smith on July 8, 2010 at 10:09 pm


Show me a prison, show me a jail
Show me a pris’ner whose face has grown pale

And I’ll show you a young man
With many reasons why
There but for fortune, go you or I

Show me an alley, show me a train
Show me a hobo who sleeps out in the rain

And I’ll show you a young man
With many reasons why
There but for fortune, go you or I

Show me the whiskey stains on the floor
Show me a drunk as he stumbles out the door

And I’ll show you a young man
With many reasons why
There but for fortune, go you or I

Show me a country where the bombs had to fall
Show me the ruins of buildings so tall

And I’ll show you a young land
With many reasons why
There but for fortune, go you or I
You or I

Mendocino County’s Growing Hunger Problem: Life Boats & Safety Nets

In Around Mendo Island on July 8, 2010 at 6:50 pm

Anderson Valley Advertiser

Over and over her words stumbled out from pursed lips, “I’m not supposed to be here. This is not the life I had planned it to be!”

In fact, she didn’t seem at all like the ‘type’. Attrac­tive, tall and lean with auburn hair in clean kept braids. Shoes, belt and purse correctly accessorized.

No she was not one’s vision of a ‘typical’ person in need of a meal, standing in the Ukiah Community Food Bank line. Yet upon closer view one could see the lines of a depressed, confused soul in her forward slumping shoulders and dark circled eyes. .

More and more are showing up now” says Dayle Reed, the Manager of the Ukiah Community Center and Food Bank (‘We never turn anyone away’). “Before we would see singles” she continued, “but now we are see­ing whole families coming in for client assistance.” (She refers to her customers as ‘clients’ as not to demean in anyway the person in need of food assistance.) more

Henry Miller: Revolutionaries of the Heart

In Books, Dave Smith on July 8, 2010 at 8:55 am

Nothing But The Marvelous

Always we are led back to the heart. It is there that everything is determined. A community must be organized around the heart, otherwise, no matter how rational the theory, how stout the principle, it will fall apart. This is the true theatre of operation: the heart. What happens outside in the world, as they say, is only the echo of the passion play which goes on in the soul of every individual.

Saviors of the World
For me the only true revolutionaries are the inspirers and activators, figures like Jesus, Lao-Tse, Gautama the Buddha, Akhenaton, Ramakrishna, Krishnamurti. The yardstick I employ is life: how men stand in relation to life. Not whether they succeeded in overthrowing a government, a social order, a religious form, a moral code, a system of education, an economic tyranny. Rather, how did they affect life itself. For, what distinguishes the men I have in mind is that they did not impose their authority on man; on the contrary, they sought to destroy authority. Their aim and purpose was to open up life, to make man hungry for life, to exalt life more

Move the Money, Starve the Empire

In !ACTION CENTER!, Around the web on July 8, 2010 at 8:47 am

Foreign Policy In Focus

June 26 may have been the last day of the U.S. Social Forum (USSF) in Detroit, but it might very well be the emergence of a more powerful antiwar movement in this country.

The U.S. Social Forum is a meeting place for progressive social justice organizations to discuss issues, strategies, and ideas for building a social movement in this country. The sessions on the antiwar and anti-militarism track made several linkages: between the domestic economic crisis and the bloated military budget, the expansion of U.S. bases and the displacement of farmers and indigenous peoples from their land and livelihoods, and the rise of militarism and violence against women.

We can’t address the economic crisis blighting neighborhoods throughout the United States without moving money away from war. That’s the only part of the national budget not being cut. Organizers at the USSF united two disparate sectors. One is comprised of grassroots base-building organizations with multicultural constituencies working to secure jobs, education, and services. more

Community-Supported Energy (CSE)

In !ACTION CENTER!, Around the web, Mendo Island Transition on July 7, 2010 at 7:56 am


[...] There is, however, one major potential problem with all of these renewable energy strategies that is often overlooked by their supporters. While they offer a lot of promise, without strong community support and local ownership, these strategies can simply end up substituting one form of corporate domination for another. This is not much of an improvement, and is at least one reason why some communities oppose large-project proposals. In many cases, community members feel that the project is being imposed upon them by outsiders, and that the local disadvantages outweigh the potential advantages. This may not necessarily be true, but it demonstrates why a direct connection between these projects and the local community is so important. This connection provides the key ingredient that transforms what would otherwise be just another large corporate energy initiative into an engine for local economic development and energy security that directly benefits its owners—the members of the community—rather than a group of absentee investors. more

Kamo no Chomei: An Account of My Hut

In Around the web on July 6, 2010 at 9:57 pm

From Humanistic Texts
Buddhist Monk Kamo no Chomei
Japan (1153-1216)

I inherited the estate of my great-grandmother on the father’s side, and there I lived for a while. But then I left home and came down in the world, and as there were very many reasons why I wished to live unnoticed, I could not remain where I was, so I built a cottage just suited to my wants. It was only a tenth of the size of my former home and contained only a living-room for myself, for I could not build a proper house. It had rough plastered walls and no gate, and the pillars were of bamboo, so it was really nothing more than a cart shed. And as it was not far from the river bed there was some peril from floods as well as anxiety about thieves.

I went on living in this unsympathetic world amid many difficulties for thirty years, and the various rebuffs that I met left me with a poor opinion of this fleeting life. So when I arrived at the age of fifty I abandoned the world and retired. Since I had no wife or child more

The Book vs. The Kindle

In Around the web on July 6, 2010 at 12:48 pm


[...] “Thank you” SFGate readers for voting Green Apple Books as the Best Bookstore in the Bay Area, as announced last week in the Best of the BayList Awards.

Topping this list becomes much sweeter when we realized that over 70,000 votes were tabulated in the Best Bookstore category alone, and that bookstores from all over the Bay were nominated!

Not to mention how wonderful the other bookstores in the Top 5 are; indeed, these are some of my favorites, and each one would have been a well-deserving winner. So congratulations also to Moe’s (#2), Book Passage (#3), Builders Booksource (#4) and Dark Carnival (#5)

O.K. – maybe it is redundant at this point, but a big THANK YOU from all of us at Green Apple – we love this stuff!
See also Kill Your Kindle.

Interview with British Mystery Author Robert Goddard (Video)

In Around the web on July 6, 2010 at 12:41 pm

Robert Goddard (Wikipedia)

The latest on GM foods

In Around the web on July 6, 2010 at 8:09 am

Food Politics

USDA has just released the most recent statistics on use of genetically modified crops in the U.S.

This, of course, does not include sugar beets, which are also in the over 90% range.

How to interpret this? If you eat any processed foods containing corn, soybeans, or beet sugar, you should assume that they have a high probability of containing genetically modified ingredients.

You don’t like this? Choose organics!

You think GM foods should be labeled? Write your congressional representatives!

Todd Walton: The Gravity of Should

In Guest Posts on July 5, 2010 at 1:35 pm

Under The Table
Anderson Valley

I dropped out of college thirty-eight years ago at the age of nineteen. 1969. My fear of being drafted and sent to Vietnam was erased overnight by a blessed medical deferment for rheumatoid arthritis. My parents were crushed by my decision to leave school. My father was a doctor, my mother a lawyer. They had expected me to follow in one or the other of their footsteps, or at the very least become a college professor.

I began my career as a writer in the first grade. Whenever anyone asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up—and people of my parents’ generation were always asking children that question—I would answer, “A writer and a baseball player.” When my spinal condition forced me to abandon baseball in high school and I took up acting, my answer became, “A playwright actor.”

When I dropped out of college and announced my intention to pursue a literary career, my parents reacted as if I’d lost my mind. My mother quickly came to the conclusion I had chosen the wrong college and that my cure lay in starting anew at another university. My father diagnosed my condition as depression to be treated with psychotherapy and anti-depressants. And I soon realized that if I was ever going to find my own way in life, I’d better get out of Dodge.

So I loaded my backpack and hit the road.


1971. September. Dusk. Rain about to fall. I was hiking along the road that traced the border between Vermont and New Hampshire—my destination Canada. I chose this road because I liked what it did on the map, sewing, as it were, the two states together.

I hadn’t spoken to my parents in almost a year. I was planning to call them a few weeks hence from a tavern in Montreal on my twenty-first birthday—drinking my first beer as an official American adult.


The Value of Cash and Local Community Equivalents

In Around the web, Mendo Island Transition on July 5, 2010 at 1:30 pm

The Automatic Earth

Since we at The Automatic Earth generally tell people to hold cash or cash equivalents, it makes sense to expand on that a little, and to point out some of the location-specific risks of doing so. We tell people to hold cash because that is what they will need access to in order to make debt payments and to purchase the essentials of life in a society with little or no remaining credit. The value of cash domestically – in terms of goods and services in your own local area – is what matters most.

Domestic currency value relative to other currencies internationally will be very much a secondary concern for most people, as the ability to exchange one currency for another is not likely to last far into the coming era of capital controls. Currency risk is likely to become very large, and almost everyone will be better off holding whatever passes for cash wherever they happen to be.

As the price of goods and services fall, thanks to the destruction of purchasing power brought about by collapsing money supply, what cash you still have will go a lot further in terms of, say, milk and bread. Capital preserved as liquidity will go a long way. However, there are no no-risk scenarios. Apart from the obvious risks of fire, flood and theft, other risks to holding cash will grow over time. Liquidity can be as hard to hold on to as it sounds.

One particular risk is the reissuing of currency. Russia did this during the economic collapse of the Soviet Union, and made it so difficult for ordinary people to convert old currency into new that much of the middle class lost their life-savings. In Russia trust in relation to banks was not particularly high, hence there was a lot of money under the beds of the nation that the powers-that-be were attempting to flush out. That is not the case in present day industrialized countries, where people generally believe that banks are safe and deposits are publicly guaranteed in any case.

On top of that, few people have savings, having become dependent on access to cheap credit for their rainy-day funds. more

James Howard Kunstler: My Tea Party

In Around the web on July 5, 2010 at 7:21 am


I don’t want to associate it with the other tea parties that have already formed because I am allergic to much of the idiot ideology they express – especially the bent for merging Christian fundamentalism with governance… One of the few things I agree on with the existing tea parties is that the Republicans and Democrats have made themselves hopeless hostages of political money and bargained away their legitimacy…

My tea party would systematically dismantle Too-Big-To-Fail banks into smaller units subject to real reforms that would prevent any further “socialization” of losses by financial buccaneers. In effect, my party would re-enact the Glass-Steagall laws – and get rid of the 3000-page bundle of prevaricating crap in the current “Fin-Reg” law, which has been constructed with all the guile and mendacity of a collateralized debt obligation. My party would seek the return of banking to its function as a utility, while letting investment freebooters gamble with their own funds without any government back-up. (You’ll see the investment houses get small fast that way.)

My tea party would get the government out of the housing business. The main effect of 70 years of federal intervention for the sake of “affordable” housing has been to drive the price of housing up far beyond the ability of normal people to afford a place to live. And the current policies devised during the bubble crackup crisis have only served to prevent the price of houses from returning to a level where people might be willing to buy them. Of course, the whole process has also encouraged local governments to jack up property taxes to a level that can only be described as intolerable (in the 1776 sense of the word).

My party would undertake a rebuilding of the US passenger railroad system – not a flashy new “high speed” system, which we cannot afford, but the system that is lying out there rusting in the rain waiting to be fixed. This is imperative because we are on the verge of very disruptive problems with our oil supply which are going to put our beloved Happy Motoring matrix out-of-business. We also face the end of mass commercial aviation (even if flying remains an option for the wealthy). more

An Urban Home for Bees, Birds and Butterflies

In Around the web on July 3, 2010 at 8:59 am


Seattle resident Sarah Bergmann is working diligently on behalf of native bees, birds, and butterflies to create pockets of pollinator-friendly habitat throughout our urban environment. Sarah’s recently launched project, the Pollinator Pathway, will be transforming city-owned planting strips into pollinator-friendly gardens with the hopes of igniting meaningful dialogue about the declining population of pollinators in our region.

These recent declines in population are particularly alarming given that approximately one-third of the human food supply depends on insect pollinations. Research has identified a number of contributing factors to this problem including pesticide misuse, urban/suburban development, and habitat loss. It is at once apparent that the relative size of pollinators belies how integral they are to a balanced eco-system.

The goal of the Pollinator Pathway project is to counteract some of these harmful developments by re-appropriating underutilized spaces for pollinator habitat. Effectively, resource intensive, grassy planting strips will be replaced with pollinator-friendly, pesticide free gardens, lush with native plants and trees. The result will be the creation of a series of nectar corridors for pollinators migrating through our urban landscape.

The project has garnered a broad base of community support with funding coming from Seattle’s Neighborhood Matching Funds, technical assistance being provided by the City’s Department of Transportation, and helping hands being offered by Nova Alternative High School students. The first demonstration garden will be planted along Columbia Street between 12th & 29th Aves, utilizing a template designed by Seattle landscape architect Sara Lawrence. This initial pathway will serve as an educational resource about pollinators and spark interest in the prospective role of urban spaces in larger ecosystems…

More here.

No Funny Money: Local Currency Sustains Local Economies

In Around the web on July 3, 2010 at 8:11 am

Thanks to Dan Hamburg

American currency has been made of everything from copper to cotton. But it never felt more like ordinary, everyday paper than one day in 1991, when Catherine Martinez, a samosa salesman at the Ithaca, N.Y., farmer’s market, began accepting a form of community currency called “hours.”

Their creator, community organizer Paul Glover, had received a grant to study the Ithaca economy and concluded that, since there wasn’t enough money to fix the system, Ithaca should print its own money. His premise was simple: the local economy was failing. People were making money locally and spending it in malls and corporate chain stores. But if you put a town’s name on it and backed it with people instead of banks, you could ensure the money would never leave, just re-circulate, only comforting the wallets of those lucky enough to share the Ithaca area code.

The plan worked and Ithaca’s unemployment rate has remained a full two percentage points better than the national average for the last 20 years. Since his move to Philadelphia five years ago, Glover has become something of a sage for Pennsylvania communities in need of an economic boost, giving lectures on the local economy and explaining the magic of local currency. Now, the concept that started as a crayon sketch while coloring with his girlfriend’s nieces, has three PA communities looking to cash in, putting a new face on old money.

“The basic ingredient for a local currency is that a dollar system is not distributing the money effectively in the community,” says Glover. “What are dollars backed by? They have been backed by gold, silver, rusting industry and a $12 trillion national debt that will never be repaid. In local communities, we regard dollars as funny money… More here.

Let Your Flags Fly!

In Dave Smith on July 2, 2010 at 8:29 am

What does patriotism mean to you?

The Nation wants to know…


Independent Locally-Owned Store and Farm Finders

In Dave Smith on July 2, 2010 at 8:15 am

Independent Local Store Finder Here.

Local Farms Finder Here.


Grilled Oysters Recipes

In Around the web on July 2, 2010 at 7:22 am


Many oyster lovers claim that this is the only way to eat oysters. Certainly it is the most traditional. Middens from Indian encampments give us reason to believe that oysters have been enjoyed in this manner for thousands of years. Grilled oysters can be eaten au naturel, with Wasabi and Soy Sauce, with a butter sauce, or with ordinary cocktail sauce.

24 medium-sized oysters in their shells, scrubbed
Wasabi and Soy Sauce or Sweet Wine Butter Sauce (recipes below)

On a backyard barbecue grill, arrange the oysters with the curved side of the shell down and the flat side up. Cook over hot coals for 8 to 10 minutes, or until the liquid inside the shells is boiling and the “lids” pop open. Serve the oysters immediately with a teaspoon of sauce on top of each one, if desired.

Serves 4 as a main course.
more here.

The Gulf of Mexico Death Throes – ‘We Need All the Help We Can Get’ (Video)

In Around the web on July 1, 2010 at 7:51 pm


(Click on Post Title Above For Full Width Video)

I’ve avoided pictures and video of struggling wildlife, but after being on the coast all week and returning home, I am made aware just how little people outside the coast understand the complete and utter devastation that is taking place right in our own country. If they did I hope that every American would stand up and demand more from their representatives – demand that the federal government admit that the entire Gulf of Mexico is in its own death throes and demand they finally stop putting profit above our people, wildlife and environment. I know of no other way to say we are sitting idly by, as our world dies around us. And I mean “death” in the most literal sense possible.

Have we all become so complacent, so apathetic that we no longer regard nature, life… human life, with enough regard to fight for it? What more must it take to outrage this nation??


U.S. Flag Recalled After Causing 143 Million Deaths

In Around the web on July 1, 2010 at 7:52 am


WASHINGTON—Citing a series of fatal malfunctions dating back to 1777, flag manufacturer Annin & Company announced Monday that it would be recalling all makes and models of its popular American flag from both foreign and domestic markets…

“It has come to our attention that, due to the inherent risks and hazards it poses, the American flag is simply unfit for general use,” said Annin & Company president Ronald Burman, who confirmed that the number of flag-related deaths had noticeably spiked since 2003. “I would like to strongly urge all U.S. citizens: If you have an American flag hanging in your home or place of business, please discontinue using it immediately.” Added Burman, “The last thing we would want is for more innocent men and women around the world to die because of our product.”

Millions of U.S. flag–related injuries and fatalities have been reported over a 230-year period in locations as far flung as Europe, Cuba, Korea, Gettysburg, PA, the Philippines, and Iraq. In addition, the company found that U.S. flag exports to Vietnam during the late 1960s and early 1970s resulted in hundreds of thousands of deaths, a clear sign that there was something seriously wrong with its product…

As hazardous as the flags may be on their own, Annin & Company officials claimed more

The skills toolkit we need now

In Around the web, Mendo Island Transition on July 1, 2010 at 7:47 am

Author, The Long Descent

[...] Certain branches of practical knowledge, thoroughly learned and just as thoroughly practiced by a relatively modest number of people, could be deployed in a hurry to help mitigate the impact of the energy shortages, economic dislocations, and systems breakdowns that are tolerably certain to punctuate the years ahead of us… I have a particular suggestion to offer: the legacy of the appropriate technology movement of the 1970s…

The resulting toolkit was a remarkably well integrated, effective, and cost-effective set of approaches that individuals, families, and communities could use to sharply reduce their dependence on fossil fuels and the industrial system in general. It was not, I should probably point out, particularly esthetic, unless you happen to like a lively fusion of down home funk, late twentieth century garage-workshop, and hand-dyed back-to-the-land hippie paisley…

What’s included in the package I’m discussing? Intensive organic gardening, for starters, with its support technologies of composting, green manure, season extenders, and low-tech food preservation and storage methods; small-scale chicken and rabbit raising, and home aquaculture of fish; simple attached solar greenhouses, which make the transition from food to energy by providing heat for homes as well as food for the table; other retrofitted passive solar heating technologies; solar water heating; a baker’s dozen or more methods for conserving hot or cool air with little or no energy input; more

Jim Hightower: Will The Real Populists Please Stand Up?

In Around the web on July 1, 2010 at 6:39 am


Few people today call themselves populists, but I think most are. I’m not talking about the recent political outbursts by confused, used and abused tea-bag ranters who’ve been organized by corporate front groups to spread a hatred of government.

Rather, I mean the millions of ordinary Americans in every state who’re battling the real power that’s running roughshod over us: out-of-control corporations. With their oceans of money and their hired armies of lobbyists and lawyers, these self-serving, autocratic entities operate from faraway executives suites and Washington backrooms to rig the economic and governmental rules so that they can capture an ever-bigger share of America’s money and power.

You can yell yourself red-faced at Congress critters you don’t like and demand a government so small that it’d fit in the backroom of Billy Bob’s Bait Shop and Sushi Stand, but you won’t be touching the corporate and financial powers behind the throne. In fact, weak government is the political wet dream of corporate chieftains, which is why they’re so ecstatic to have the tea party out front for them. But the real issue isn’t small government, it’s good government. (Can I get an amen from Gulf Coast fishing families on that!?)

It’s necessary to restate the solid principles of populism and reassert its true spirit, because both are now being severely perverted by corporate manipulators and a careless media establishment… more


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