Mendo Island Journal — Timely. Useful. Sometimes Cranky.

Archive for August, 2010|Monthly archive page

GOP Wants Tax Cuts for Wealthy While Localities Drown In Red Ink

In Around the web, BS Buzzer on August 10, 2010 at 8:20 am


Wing-Nut Scapegoating

In Guest Posts on August 10, 2010 at 6:39 am

Lake County

Below article is well worth taking 10 minutes to read.  Good historic perspective (did you know the Texas revolt was instigated to protect New Orleans?).

Can help explain why we are so stymied on the US-Mexico border immigration issue.  Borderlands are not like other areas, and immigration in borderland territory has historically been a de-stabilizing influence to nations since the beginning of nation-states.  Like any nation that has stolen land fair and square, we resent it when folks from the losing side return to the land of their ancestors.

Among the points the below article does not explore:  cynical opportunistic politicians, pundits and talk radio hosts who exploit the issue for personal gain to get into elected office, manipulate markets, or to generate higher ratings which in turn create larger incomes for said radio talk show hosts.

Not to mention that whole scape-goat thing.

Neither Mexico nor Mexican immigrants caused most of the really damaging wounds that have hemorrhaged away America’s economic lifeblood in the past few decades.

  1. Neither Mexico nor Mexican immigrants created the tax breaks for the uber-wealthy, a con-job sold to the American people as “trickle down theory” — most of that wealth went straight into Swiss bank accounts, never to benefit the American economy (but the amount of money those tax breaks gave the uber-wealthy comes close to equaling our current national debt). more

Securing Social Security While Increasing Benefits

In Social Security on August 10, 2010 at 6:38 am


TAP talks with Rep. Ted Deutch about his plan to save Social Security

Yesterday, the Social Security trustees released their annual report. Though they announced the program will be able to pay full benefits through 2037 (and 75 percent of benefits through 2084), critics immediately tried to spin it as evidence of the program’s failures. “The reports released today again sound the alarm that spending on Social Security and Medicare is on an unsustainable path,” Republican Rep. Dave Camp said. While progressives are reluctant to privatize or support benefit cuts, protecting Social Security over the long term will require them to propose other solutions.

Yesterday, TAP caught up with Rep. Ted Deutch, a newly elected Democrat from Florida who has recently introduced legislation that creates a new measurement of inflation that more accurately reflects seniors’ cost of living and guarantees a $250 dollar payment to Social Security recipients if there is no upward cost-of-living adjustment. Perhaps most controversial, it gradually makes the Social Security tax apply to all wages — currently, any wages above $106,800 are exempted from taxation. While experts I spoke to suggest that this package would ensure long-term solvency, the political viability of the plan is a different question. more


In Around the web on August 8, 2010 at 8:54 pm


Weed Goes Mainstream


John Wade, 43, a San Francisco commercial lighting specialist, takes a quick hit from a marijuana cigarette on the golf course to steady himself before putting.

Sarika Simmons, 35, of San Diego County, sometimes unwinds after the kids are asleep with tokes from a fruit-flavored cigar filled with pot.

And retiree Robert Girvetz, 78, of San Juan Capistrano, recently started anew – replacing his occasional martini with marijuana.

“It’s a little different than I remember,” he says. “A couple of hits – and wooooo. … “

As California voters prepare to decide in November whether to become the first state to legalize marijuana for recreational use, a new Field Poll conducted for The Sacramento Bee reveals that weed already is deeply woven into society.

Those who use the drug, and their reasons for doing it, may be as diverse as the state itself.

Forty-two percent of adults who described themselves as current users in the July poll said they smoke pot to relieve pain or treat a health condition. Thirty-nine percent use it recreationally, to socialize or have fun with friends…

Article here.

Book Review: The World is Blue — How Our Fate and the Ocean’s Are One

In Around the web on August 8, 2010 at 8:53 pm


By my estimation, seventy-five-year-old author Dr. Sylvia Earle has spent more than 1% of her life underwater. If her dives were connected in time, it would be as if she slipped into the ocean on New Year’s Day and did not re-emerge until some time after Labor Day.

Her book chronicles her experiences as a 1960s pioneer in underwater exploration, with stirring accounts of the inquisitive fish and mammals she met in the deep blue. Anthropomorphizing these animals would be an insult, given all the trouble humans have caused by overfishing, pollution, and acidification of the oceans. With these issues, she deftly takes an animal’s perspective in deconstructing our troubled oceans.

I once found an enterprising hermit crab with its vulnerable posterior neatly tucked into a discarded Bayer aspirin bottle, a modern, lightweight, durable substitute for a traditional snail shell. A decorator crab on a nearby reef had artfully placed a disposable fast-food ketchup envelope on its back along with bits of algae, hydroids and normal camouflaging elements. The ketchup container actually helped the crab blend in with other trash…

Article here.

The last tuna nigiri on Earth

In Around the web on August 7, 2010 at 12:58 pm


I call it a “Republican moment,” one of those surreal and disturbing thoughts that sneaks into my soul every now and then like an unwelcome but insistent visitor, a nasty little thought made of equal parts greed and unchecked entitlement, all overlaced with a sort of willful ignorance that entirely blocks out that dangerous beast of burden known as “conscience.”

The moment came as I was reading the horrifying and deeply sad piece in the NYT Magazine about the plight of the wild bluefin tuna, the world’s most overexploited game fish, a top ocean predator and a totem animal like few others, an undeniably magnificent creature that is rapidly nearing extinction due to gluttonous overfishing and unchecked international greed.

It’s a harrowing, heartbreaking tale spanning generations, cultures and clashing beliefs of how we treat the earth. There are fascinating subtexts, politics, food history (the article is part of a larger book on the subject, Paul Greenberg’s “Four Fish: The Future of the Last Wild Food”). But the grand upshot was simple enough: We are quickly destroying the last of humanity’s great food stocks, a truly marvelous, powerful and even mystical creature unlike any other. And very soon, there will be no turning back.

The facts are brutal. Simply put, we are gorging our way to the bluefin’s oblivion. Stocks in the Gulf of Mexico are now considered to be in full collapse with maybe 9,000 total fish left, all suddenly made far more dire and irreversible by the BP spill, more

Charles Dickens: Ink-Stained Genius

In Books on August 7, 2010 at 8:41 am

Via Andrew Sullivan

A review of Charles Dickens: A Life Defined by Writing, by Michael Slater

[...] Yet what I am calling a weakness in Slater’s book might also be regarded as its great strength—his willingness to survey everything Dickens wrote, not just the familiar highlights. It is easy to be overwhelmed just by Dickens’s titanic output as a novelist. But Slater usefully calls our attention to the fact that Dickens was much more than a novelist. He was a journalist, playwright, essayist, short-story writer, travel writer, children’s book writer, editor, and publisher, and in his private life he was a prolific and—not surprisingly—remarkably entertaining letter writer. Slater has evidently read just about everything Dickens ever wrote, and offers us the first systematic, thorough account of his literary career (some of the material, such as the journalism and letters, has only recently become readily accessible).

For the majority of us, who will never read more than a fraction of Dickens’s total output, Slater’s book provides a welcome opportunity to get a sense of how truly vast and varied his work was. For example, how many people are aware that, together with his protégé Wilkie Collins, Dickens wrote a play called The Frozen Deep, a response to the ill-fated Franklin Expedition to discover a Northwest Passage in the arctic wastes of Canada? Or that later Dickens and Collins, this time responding to the 1857 Indian Mutiny that shook the British Empire to its foundations, more

The Dark Side of Vitaminwater

In Around the web on August 7, 2010 at 8:16 am

Author of Diet For A New America

Now here’s something you wouldn’t expect. Coca-Cola is being sued by a non-profit public interest group, on the grounds that the company’s vitaminwater products make unwarranted health claims. No surprise there. But how do you think the company is defending itself?

In a staggering feat of twisted logic, lawyers for Coca-Cola are defending the lawsuit by asserting that “no consumer could reasonably be misled into thinking vitaminwater was a healthy beverage.”

Does this mean that you’d have to be an unreasonable person to think that a product named “vitaminwater,” a product that has been heavily and aggressively marketed as a healthy beverage, actually had health benefits?

Or does it mean that it’s okay for a corporation to lie about its products, as long as they can then turn around and claim that no one actually believes their lies?

In fact, the product is basically sugar-water, to which about a penny’s worth of synthetic vitamins have been added. And the amount of sugar is not trivial. A bottle of vitaminwater contains 33 grams of sugar, making it more akin to a soft drink than to a healthy beverage.

Is any harm being done by this marketing ploy? After all, some might say consumers are at least getting some vitamins, and there isn’t as much sugar in vitaminwater as there is in regular Coke…

Full article here.
See also Vitaminwater: Marketing a Myth

What collapsing empire looks like

In Around the web on August 6, 2010 at 5:59 pm


As we enter our ninth year of the War in Afghanistan with an escalated force, and continue to occupy Iraq indefinitely, and feed an endlessly growing Surveillance State, reports are emerging of the Deficit Commission hard at work planning how to cut Social Security, Medicare, and now even to freeze military pay.  But a new New York Times article today illustrates as vividly as anything else what a collapsing empire looks like, as it profiles just a few of the budget cuts which cities around the country are being forced to make.  This is a sampling of what one finds:

Plenty of businesses and governments furloughed workers this year, but Hawaii went further — it furloughed its schoolchildren. Public schools across the state closed on 17 Fridays during the past school year to save money, giving students the shortest academic year in the nation.

Many transit systems have cut service to make ends meet, but Clayton County, Ga., a suburb of Atlanta, decided to cut all the way, and shut down its entire public bus system. Its last buses ran on March 31, more

Dave Smith: Sales Tax Blues

In !ACTION CENTER!, Dave Smith on August 6, 2010 at 9:10 am


To The Editors:

Buying Online to Avoid Sales Tax Costs Us Locally

While economists nationwide argue over whether we have begun to recover from the Great Recession, one financial reality is beyond dispute. Our state, our county, and our town of Ukiah, continue to face the biggest budget challenge in decades. Even in a slowly rebounding economy, California is faced with continuing budget shortfalls, which means that local governments — even if they raise school and property taxes — are going to be cutting support for such essential services as policing, fire fighting, and schools.

The enormous irony in these troubling times is that California is allowing hundreds of millions of dollars in sales tax to go uncollected by allowing remote online retailers with a significant business presence in our state to ignore their obligation to collect sales tax.

Given the sums involved, you would think there would be many in the state calling for this situation to be remedied. There are not. Perhaps it’s because opponents of sales tax equity have, so far, managed to obfuscate the issue through a combination of misinformation and scapegoating.

Under current sales tax law, any out-of-state retailer is required to collect and remit sales tax for purchases made by residents in California if the retailer has a physical presence in our state. more

Todd Walton: What’s In A Name?

In Guest Posts on August 5, 2010 at 10:43 pm

Anderson Valley

“Fate tried to conceal him by naming him Smith.” Oliver Wendell Holmes

As I answer the ringing phone, I am distracted by my cat chasing his tail and do not hear the brief telltale silence presaging a stranger seeking money. “Hello. This is Doralinda Kayamunga of the NRA calling for Mr. Tom Walsmar.” I hang up, though in retrospect I wish I’d thought to ask Doralinda how she got Tom from Todd and Walsmar from Walton.

My childhood friends delighted in calling me Toad Walnut, and did so with such frequency that their teasing ceased to rankle. Please note: their playful distortion of my name was intentional, whereas the thousand and one subsequent manglings of Todd and Walton result, as far as I can tell, from endemic mass idiocy. I have been called Tom, Toby, Tad, Ted, Tony, Don, Rod, and Scott hundreds of times in my life, usually in combination with Watson, Walters, Weldon, Waldon, Walsmar, Wilson, Welton, Waters, Waldo, and most recently Watton.

For goodness sake, my name is not Jascha Heifetz or Ubaldo Jimenez or Ilgaukus Christianoosman. In England, Walton is as common as Smith. My surname derives from Walled Town, and in medieval England nearly all towns were walled towns. In those long ago days, a person might be known as Roderick of Walled Town or Sylvia of Walled Town, and over the ensuing centuries, more

Sebastopol’s Sanders Field Farm: The Cook, the Farmer and the Local Community

In Around the web on August 5, 2010 at 10:30 pm


The drive down the gravel road to Sanders Field Farm in Sebastopol, CA leads me past an 80-year old apple orchard and into a sun-drenched clearing of strawberries, tomatoes, beans, eggplant, and sunflowers. Lowell Sheldon, the proprietor of Peter Lowell’s, meets me at the gate, hands covered in dirt after harvesting food from the farm for his Sonoma county restaurant.

Not far behind him are Daria Morrill and Tony Tugwell, whose 12-acre organic farm is off the grid, running only on solar power. With two acres under cultivation, the couple has designed a compact production scheme solely dedicated to the restaurant—kale, chard, baby lettuces, spring onions, snap peas, and broccoli glow in the afternoon light, set to become part of Peter Lowell’s menu of sustainably grown sustenance.

As we tour the tomatoes—heirlooms grown to spec—Morrill, new to farming, but not to plants, tells me, “This is my gift. I am lucky to get to plant and be outside, with my hands in the dirt…it is my form of freedom.” Morrill spent years nurturing Cottage Gardens nursery in nearby Petaluma, where she started a popular vegetable seedling program. Tugwell—a “tech guy” who spent two decades in “a cubicle banging out code for corporate America”—is the farm’s director of operations, running tractors and hooking up irrigation and alternative energy systems. The couple had their eye on the piece of property for over a year and though they declare themselves “too old to become new farmers” (let’s call them “middle aged”) they are now happily and successfully growing… Full article here.

Scaling Up Solar: The Global Implications of a New Study that Says Solar Power Is Cost Competitive with Nuclear Power

In Around the web on August 5, 2010 at 10:29 pm


Two US researchers have declared that solar electricity in their home state is now cheaper than next-generation nuclear power. Olivia Boyd looks at their study – and its global implications.

The sunshine of North Carolina, a state on America’s Atlantic seaboard, has long been a draw for tourists seeking a little southern warmth on the region’s beaches. But holiday companies are not the only ones trumpeting a good local deal. The price of the state’s solar-generated electricity has fallen so far that it is now cheaper than new nuclear power, according to a report published in July by researchers at the state’s Duke University. The authors say their figures indicate a “historic crossover” that significantly strengthens the case for investment in renewable energy – and weakens the arguments for large-scale, international nuclear development.

Solar power is usually branded as a clean but expensive energy source, incapable of competing on economic grounds with more established alternatives, such as nuclear. The outspoken pro-nuclear stance adopted by a raft of iconic environmental figures – James Lovelock, Stewart Brand, Patrick Moore – has helped to instill in policy making circles the sense that this is the only power source that can restructure our energy supply at the pace, scale and price required by the pressures of rapid climate change. This study, which was co-authored by former chair of Duke University’s economics department John Blackburn and commissioned by NC Warn, a clean-energy NGO more

How a brutal rape and a lifelong burden of guilt fuelled Girl with the Dragon Tattoo writer Stieg Larsson

In Around the web on August 5, 2010 at 9:04 am


The chapel in southern Stockholm was packed on that icy December day in 2004. We filed past the coffin to pay our respects, whispering final messages to Stieg Larsson.

The Stieg we were mourning was a tireless hero in the fight against neo-Nazism, but the man the world now remembers is someone quite different – the author of one of the biggest, least expected publishing successes of modern times.

His crime novels – The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, The Girl Who Played With Fire and The Girl Who Kicked The Hornet’s Nest – were published after his death, have sold 30million copies and have made Stieg Larsson a global celebrity.

People beg me to sign his books, simply because I was his friend. A critically-acclaimed Swedish film version of The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo has already been released and now Hollywood is planning its own take, with Carey Mulligan and Daniel Craig rumoured as stars.

Despite the acclaim, however, Stieg remains a man of secrets. Before his death few people knew he was writing his novels, and he was intensely private, rarely talking about the first 20 years of his life. On one occasion though, he told me a chilling story about something in his past that drove his passion and creativity.


Cookbook Review: Eating Local

In Books on August 5, 2010 at 7:43 am


The author has kindly shared these recipes:

Eating locally grown meats and produce may have become a trendy way to support the environment, but to Sur la Table and their author/chef, the very talented Janet Fletcher, it is reason to celebrate.   Eating Local tells the stories of people whose lives are as vital as the food they produce, and gives recipes that extend that vitality to the consumer.   The message within the book is to love the land, eat well, be vital in your own life.  It is dedicated to “America’s hardworking farmers who make eating locally possible.”

The recipes are so enticing that the reader is inclined to jump straight past the photos and the text to rush to the kitchen to prepare a new dish.  A little restraint is in order, however, to fully appreciate this book.  Sara Remington’s photography inspires with glorious shots of prepared food, but also with photos of hands working with produce, of tiny, brilliant plants sprouting in rich dark soil, of farm stands, kids at play, rows of healthy produce.

There are stories about ten farmers, more

Farmers markets growing like weeds around country

In Around the web on August 4, 2010 at 11:57 pm


The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced today that there are now 6,132 farmers markets in the country, up 16 percent from last year and a stunning 214 percent increase since 2000.

The press release contained some even more interesting numbers. While mild-weathered, agriculturally diverse California had by far the most farmers markets (580), New York was not far behind (461), and Nos. 3 and 4 were somewhat surprising: Illinois (286) and Michigan (271). And the rest of the Midwest is working on catching up: the top states for percentage growth in the number of markets from 2009 to 2010 were Missouri (77 percent), Minnesota (61), and Idaho and Michigan (both 60 percent).

While less then a sixth of the markets, or 886, are open year-round, there are such four-season markets in 47 states and the District of Columbia.

You can find a market near you via the Eat Well Guide, LocalHarvest, or USDA. And if there isn’t one? The USDA has guides for how to start a farmers market, for the truly ambitious. Lazier folks can just join me in my wok-on-the-wild-side challenge in honor of National Farmers Market Week this week.

Because while these numbers are encouraging, direct-to-consumer food sales — which include not only farmers markets, but also farm stands and U-pick operations — were only 0.4 percent of the total food economy last year. Local food has a long way to go before Safeway feels any pain.

Neoconned, and The Importance of Being Judgmental

In Around the web on August 4, 2010 at 3:45 pm

Thanks to Janie Sheppard

Writing at Time, Joe Klein surveys the bounty that America can now harvest from its dalliance with neoconservatism. He starts with the still highly ambiguous outcome in Iraq, and continues:

There are other consequences of this profound misadventure. The return of the Taliban in Afghanistan is certainly one; if U.S. attention, and special forces, hadn’t been diverted from that primary conflict, the story in the Pashtun borderlands might be very different now. The credibility of the United States–slowly recovering due to the efforts of Barack Obama–is another, after a war promulgated by a gale of ignorance at best and chicanery at worst. The sense of the United States as a nation of tempered, honorable actions may never recover from the images of the past decade, especially the photographs from Abu Ghraib prison.

The replacement notion that it was our right and responsibility to rid Iraq of a terrible dictator–after the original casus belli of weapons of mass destruction evaporated–is a neo-colonialist obscenity. The fact that Bush apologists still trot out his “Forward Freedom Agenda” as an example of American idealism is a delusional farce. The “Freedom Agenda” brought us a Hamas government in Gaza, after a Palestinian election that no one but the Bush Administration wanted. It brought the empowerment of Hizballah in Lebanon. more

Legal Pot: Death of the Emerald Triangle?

In Around the web on August 4, 2010 at 9:03 am


How the Legalization of Marijuana Is Destroying the Cannabis Capital of the U.S. and Its One Shot at Survival

Tucked away in the very northwestern-most corner of California are three relatively small rural counties that are, despite their size and isolation, known around the world in certain circles.

These counties — Mendocino, Humboldt and Trinity — have, since the mid-’70s, specialized in the production of a much-sought-after export that was, until relatively recently, completely illegal: marijuana.

The growers there have produced such a high-quality product for so long that the drug has come to define the area, known as the appropriately-colored Emerald Triangle. Mention of the Emerald Triangle among even small-time pot enthusiasts is met with a knowing smile — and a wildly different reaction from long-frustrated federal authorities.

The drug is the lifeblood of the counties, woven inseparably not just into every aspect of the local economies, but into the everyday lives of thousands of residents. But with the legalization of pot for medical use and potential legalization for recreational use, the Emerald Triangle is facing a daunting threat in the form of a pot price freefall fueled by industry-style mass production.

For a region of California that has for more than three decades defined and lovingly cultivated an entire culture in the shade of marijuana leaves, the legalization of pot signals a seizmic shift that will change the Emerald Triangle forever — assuming it survives at all.

The Emerald Triangle: Where People Come to ‘Grow Their Lives’

Radio talk show host Anna Hamilton came to the Humboldt County 28 years ago but still considers herself in the “second class” of migrants to the Emerald Triangle.


The Problem With Bicycles

In Around the web on August 4, 2010 at 7:34 am

Via Energy Bulletin

Once people get into their heads that maybe the personal automobile is not really such a good idea — in other words, after they have moved beyond the biodiesel/electric car phase, as if the only problem with the personal automobile is the fuel it uses — they usually fixate on bicycles.

I say “fixate” because this often becomes an eco-fetish like so many other such things, as if more bicycles were better, and if you could just get enough bicycles in one place, you could “save the world.”

The focus on bicycles is typically because, in the mind of this person, they still assume that they would be living in Suburban Hell, or perhaps some earlier variant of Suburban Hell (the 19th Century Hypertrophic Small Town America). Of course, if you are stuck in Suburban Hell, with its endless expanses of NoPlace and absurdly long distances between Places, then you would want a bicycle at the very least.

However, in a a properly designed Traditional City, most people don’t need bicycles. This is true even today. In cities where people often do not own a car, such as New York or Hong Kong or Paris, these non-car-owning people usually do not own a bicycle either. Or, if they happen to own a bike, they do not use it every day as a transportation device. They get by just fine on foot, and using the transportation options available, especially trains and, if a train is not available, a bus. Occasionally a taxi. A bike is best as a least-desirable option, for those trips that are too long to walk comfortably, and not convenient by either train or bus. Ideally, these would be as few as possible, as a well-designed city should be a place where you can easily walk or ride a train (a bus if you have to) just about everywhere.

Full article with photos here.

The Corona Hand Mill and Homemade Tortillas

In Around the web on August 3, 2010 at 8:56 am


The original Corona mill was developed by Landers, Frary and Clark of Connecticut some time before 1900 and was apparently sold worldwide. In 1951, a company, LANDERS Y CIA. S. A., was formed in Columbia to make these for home nixtamal production. It still produces this ancient cast-iron, hot tin plated mill along with Columbian rival Victoria, and the Mexican-made mill Estrella. These three mills are virtually identical, the Estrella being painted rather than tin-plated…

I’ve been making more tortillas and other pan breads lately because summer weather makes oven baking a sweaty pain in the ass. I had been using dried masa harina and the result is much better than store-bought tortillas. Realizing that GMO corn is the norm these days, I went looking for organic masa harina and didn’t have any luck. I can get whole corn from my local co-op for only about $0.50 a pound if I buy it in 25 lb. bags, so why not get one of those cheap mills and make the good stuff myself? Ebay has new Coronas for $64.29, Victorias for $60.24 and the Estrella for $58.99, including shipping. Shipping is a killer for these heavy cast-iron mills. I found a used Corona for $24.50 with $8.99 shipping. I later found the all-time best deal at Amazon for a new Victoria Corn Grinder at $34.99 with free shipping (I had been searching for ‘grain mill’ and missed it)…

There’s just one Mexican grocery in the county where I live, so next time I was in the area, I picked up some reddish blue whole corn and a little package of Cal (slaked lime). I tried grinding some of the untreated dry corn and the mill was a lot stronger than I expected! Corn meal, grits or polenta is easily ground with by adjusting the coarseness of the grind. A few days later, I made some fresh tortilla masa.

Tortillas made from fresh masa taste and smell much better than ones made from dried masa harina, which in turn are much better than store-bought corn tortillas…

Survivalists tout these as necessary items to have on hand for the ever-impending collapse of civilization…

Full article with photos here.

William Greider: If President Obama Thinks There’s Room for Austerity with Social Security, He’d Better Get Ready For A War

In !ACTION CENTER!, Social Security on August 2, 2010 at 7:57 pm


William Greider has been writing about economic issues since the 1960s, and is best known for his book Secrets of the Temple: How the Federal Reserve Runs the Country. He’s been warning us that the Obama administration intends to cut Social Security (this video is a year old):

What’s extraordinary about this assault on Social Security is that a Democratic president is leading it. Obama is arm in arm with GOP conservatives like Wall Street billionaire Pete Peterson, who for decades has demonized Social Security as a grave threat to the Republic and has spread some $12 million among economists, think tanks, foundations and assorted front groups to sell his case. If Obama pulls the deal off, this will be his version of “Nixon goes to China”—a leader proving his manhood by going against his party’s convictions. Even if he fails, the president will get some protective cover on the deficit issue. After all, he is targeting Big Government’s most beloved and trusted program—the New Deal’s most prominent pillar.

Obama’s initiative rests on two falsehoods spread by Peterson’s propaganda—the notion that Social Security somehow contributes to the swollen federal deficits and that cutting benefits will address this problem. Obama and his advisers do not say this in so many words, but their rhetoric implies that Social Security is a big source of the deficit problem. Major media promote the same falsehoods. Here is what the media don’t tell you: Social Security has accumulated a massive surplus—$2.5 trillion now, rising to $4.3 trillion by 2023. more

May I PLEASE tell you how much I don’t care?

In Around the web on August 2, 2010 at 5:05 pm

Thanks to Janie Sheppard

My property taxes just doubled. My water bill just rose 40%. My local elementary school just laid off 35% of the teaching staff for next September. I may be a victim of a brand new strain of E.coli that is immune to the drug cocktail I have been consuming for the past 6 weeks. I have just spent a fortune trying to survive weeks of 100+ temps, with no rainfall, in this most temperate part of the mid-Atlantic.

I really don’t care about Afganistan.

I don’t care if they have schools. I want my local schools to garner the same level of support that we have tossed into that stone age hell hole.

I don’t care if they have a stable government. If they can’t get their heads out of their asses long enough to express at least a modicum of interest in joining the 21 century, let them blast each other to Hell and let the Devil sort ‘em out.

I don’t care if water distribution is an issue in the middle east. I live next to one of the largest lakes on the eastern seaboard, and water treatment is so expensive that they are making drinking water a luxury. The treatment is necessary because the farm runoff is so polluted that it is recommended that you not eat the fish.

I don’t care if they have state of the art medical treatment. I want a sufficient investment in US medical research, and a sufficient reduction in antibiotics in my food stuffs, so that I do not face the specter of dying from a Super Bug.

I don’t believe that men and women dying for some testosterone poisoned old man more

Last Call

In Around the web on August 1, 2010 at 9:55 pm

Peak Oil Blues Blog

[...] It’s a shame we’ve forgotten our history. The Seattle Unemployed Citizens League, formed in 1931, proved to be a model for the country – a model for self-help barter economies. By 1932, the Reverend George Mecklenburg had formed The Organized Unemployed, Inc. in Minneapolis. The Organized Unemployed picked and canned produce, operated a cafeteria and stores, provided housing and employment, all paid with scrip money printed by the organization. [I see there is a Union of Unemployed – U Cubed group in Seattle, UDub Neighbors, carrying on in the spirit of Seattle’s old Unemployed Citizens League.]

It’s a shame we can’t seem to make effective use of the tools we have on hand. Right now, the most accessible, universal tool for communicating housing alternatives is the Housing category on Craig’s List with sections called “rooms & shares” and “sublets & temporary.”

As John O’Donohue characterized it, we are entering the “Interim Time”:

The path that brought us here has been washed away.

The path ahead remains concealed.

The old has not yet died away.

The new is still too young to be born.

O’Donohue advised us:

Do not allow your confusion to squander

This call which is loosening

Your roots in false ground,

That you might come free

From all you have outgrown.

Wendell Berry wrote:

It may be that when we no longer know what to do we have come to our real work, and that when we no longer know which way to go we have come to our real journey… Complete article here.

La Via Campesina Call to Action – Help Stop Terminator’s Return!

In !ACTION CENTER! on August 1, 2010 at 9:44 pm


Four years after the moratorium on Terminator technology was reaffirmed by the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), proposals to develop and commercialize ‘genetic-use restriction technologies’ (GURTs) are back on the agenda for policymakers and the biotechnology industry. Terminator is a threat to food sovereignty and agrobiodiversity: ending the moratorium on Terminator will increase control of seed by transnational corporations (TNCs) and restrictions on farmers’ rights to save and plant harvested seed. Additionally, pollen from genetically-modified (GM) crops with Terminator will contaminate non-GM and organic crops, and native plant species.

GURTs (herein referred to as ‘Terminator’) are genetic engineering technologies that seek to control plant fertility. First-generation Terminator (also called ‘suicide seed’) was developed jointly by the US Department of Agriculture and Delta and Pine Land Company in the 1990s to protect the intellectual property of US agricultural biotechnology TNCs. GM crops produce sterile seeds to prevent farmers from replanting harvested seed with patented DNA. Due to international public outcry from farmers and civil society worldwide, Terminator has never been commercialized anywhere, and Brazil and India have national moratoriums prohibiting it. In 2000, the CBD recommended a de facto moratorium on field-testing and commercial sale of Terminator seeds. In 2006, pressure from La Via Campesina and its allies helped to strengthen this moratorium in Curitiba, Brazil.


Dr. Andrew Weil: Green Tea Yes, Coffee No — Here’s Why

In Around the web on August 1, 2010 at 9:43 pm


I have written about the health benefits of green tea for more than 30 years, and it is possible that in some very small way I have helped this wonderful beverage become popular in the United States. I hope so, because today, thousands of scientific studies confirm what the ancient Chinese knew through simple observation: green tea is perhaps the most healthful beverage human beings can consume. Studies either strongly suggest or confirm that the antioxidants in green tea can reduce LDL cholesterol, promote fat burning, reduce the risk of several forms of cancer and alleviate depression.

But tea is much more than the healthful compounds in it. It is an experience, and for me, a personal story of discovery that continues to this day.

Drinking a daily cup of tea will surely starve the apothecary.
~ Chinese Proverb

When I was growing up in Philadelphia in the 1940s and 50s, my parents drank coffee exclusively — black and unsweetened. I did not like it (and still don’t). The only tea we knew about was Lipton, in bags. Old and sick people drank hot tea. My parents and I drank iced tea in the summer, much sweetened.

Then, after graduating from high school in 1959, I had a life-changing experience. As part of a remarkable institution known as the International School of America, I traveled around the world in nine months with a group of fellow students. In Japan, I was exposed to sencha — the everyday green tea drunk by all Japanese. More significantly, I experienced matcha, the powdered green tea, as part of a true Japanese tea ceremony. Many Americans have heard of, or even taken part in, this ceremony today, but in 1959 it was virtually unknown to the Western world. The idea of using a food — tea — as a ceremonial object of focus and meditation fascinated me and made a strong impression.



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