Occupy: Showdown in Chicago May Day 2012


From ADBUSTERS

Hey you redeemers, rebels and radicals out there,

Against the backdrop of a global uprising that is simmering in dozens of countries and thousands of cities and towns, the G8 and NATO will hold a rare simultaneous summit in Chicago this May. The world’s military and political elites, heads of state, 7,500 officials from 80 nations, and more than 2,500 journalists will be there.

And so will we.

On May 1, 50,000 people from all over the world will flock to Chicago, set up tents, kitchens, peaceful barricades and #OCCUPYCHICAGO for a month. With a bit of luck, we’ll pull off the biggest multinational occupation of a summit meeting the world has ever seen.

And this time around we’re not going to put up with the kind of police repression that happened during the Democratic National Convention protests in Chicago, 1968 … nor will we abide by any phony restrictions the City of Chicago may want to impose on our first amendment rights. We’ll go there with our heads held high and assemble for a month-long people’s summit … we’ll march and chant and sing and shout and exercise our right to tell our elected representatives what we want … the constitution will be our guide.

And when the G8 and NATO meet behind closed doors on May 19, we’ll be ready with our demands: a Robin Hood Tax … a ban on high frequency ‘flash’ trading … a binding climate change accord … a three strikes and you’re out law for corporate criminals … an all out initiative for a nuclear-free Middle East … whatever we decide in our general assemblies and in our global internet brainstorm – we the people will set the agenda for the next few years and demand our leaders carry it out.

And if they don’t listen … if they ignore us and put our demands on the back burner like they’ve done so many times before … then, with Gandhian ferocity, we’ll flashmob the streets, shut down stock exchanges, campuses, corporate headquarters and cities across the globe … we’ll make the price of doing business as usual too much to bear.

Jammers, pack your tents, muster up your courage and prepare for a big bang in Chicago this Spring. If we don’t stand up now and fight now for a different kind of future we may not have much of a future … so let’s live without dead time for a month in May and see what happens …

for the wild,
Culture Jammers HQ
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Gene Logsdon: Talking To Animals…


From GENE LOGSDON
The Contrary Farmer

Have you ever had this happen to you? You stop at a friend’s farm. Knowing he or she is in the barn doing chores, you saunter across the barnyard unannounced. You can hear your friend carrying on quite an animated conversation with someone. You walk through the barn door and there indeed is your friend and he is indeed talking but there is no one else in the barn. He sees you and abruptly falls silent. He gets a look of awful embarrassment on his face. He has been talking to his animals as we all do but don’t like to admit it.

During the days when I was milking a hundred cows, I was often caught carrying on learned discussions with my Holsteins. If the visitor were a friend, especially if he had been caught talking to animals himself, he might put on a big show of mystification, going to great lengths to look around to see whom I had been talking to.

A milker of cows is sort of like the blacksmith of yore. Morning and evening you are always in your office, so to speak, and the whole neighborhood knows it. You are a captive audience to every fervent Republican who wants to pleasure you with his latest joke about stupid Democrats. Or vice versa.  Salesmen know you can’t escape them.  Every righteous crusader for every righteous cause wants to practice his pitch on you. Every hunter has a new escapade to tell you about how he saw the buck deer with the biggest rack in the county but of course did not get a shot at it.

Animals are great to talk to. They can be trusted to keep any secret, will not point out to you embarrassing contradictions of logic in your arguments, and they never argue back. They just nod and keep on eating. They will only interrupt your flow of brilliant reasoning if they run out of food.

Conversing with animals can be quite effective.

“I tell you, they should just throw all those politicians out of Washington and start over.”

“Munch, crunch, munch, crunch.” The sound of a cow chewing hay is as soothing as the sound of a waterfall.

“Well, yes, of course, somebody has to run the government but why can’t they compromise more.”

“Munch, crunch, munch crunch.” The big round cow eyes stare placidly out on the world, unperturbed.

“As long as they don’t kiss up to those rich Republicans too much.”

“Munch, crunch, munch, crunch.” One ear wiggle-waggles.

Resilient Communities: Decoupling from a global train wreck…


From JOHN ROBB
Resilient Communities

Most of us are DEPENDENT on a global network to get through the day.

Unfortunately, this network is tightly coupled.

Tightly coupled?  What the heck is that?

Tightly coupled is a term used by engineers.   It’s a system where the parts are interdependent.

As a result, a change or failure in one part of the system has an immediate impact on the other parts of the system.

In world that’s tightly coupled, a disaster in one part of the world will immediately be felt in another part of the world.   We saw this on a grand scale with the financial disaster in 2008, and we are going to see it again and again in the future.

Here’s an example of tight coupling in practice:

___________

I’ve spent a considerable amount of time over the last decade working on “what if” scenarios for the Pentagon, CIA, and NSA.

One of those scenarios, naturally, was a war with Iran (one of the world’s top oil exporting countries).

A little known conclusion of that scenario analysis was that a war with Iran greatly increased when deep sanctions were applied.

Why?  Simply:

  1. Sanctions disconnect the Iranians from the global economy which soften the impact of a war with them.
  2. Sanctions also accelerate societal and economic decay in Iran, making it highly likely that it would start a conflict.

The reason I’m bringing this up, is that these deep sanctions are now being put in place.

In particular, the EU is about to start a boycott Iranian oil and the Chinese are already looking for alternatives.

This means one thing:  our governments have radically increased the probability of a war with Iran.

Oh joy.

So, what does a war with Iran mean?  I could spend hours on this analysis, but most of that really would not matter to you.  What does matter is that a war with Iran will ripple through the world as energy prices zoom and economies already on the brink crump.

Books: Top 5 characters I’d like to punch in the face…


From greengeekgirl
Insatiable Booksluts

1. Albert Johnson from The Color Purple

If you’ve never seen or read The Color Purple–well, for one thing, it’s just an excellent book and film, you really should experience it. But for those who might need an explanation of why I would deck Mr. Johnson, the story centers around a young girl, Celie, and her supposedly more attractive sister, Nettie. Mr. Johnson, being from that era when creepy old dudes look for wives who have barely hit puberty, wants to take Nettie for a wife, but “settles” for Celie. He treats Celie like total shit, sends Nettie away and hides her letters so Celie thinks she’s dead or something, and constantly cheats on Celie (but it’s not cheating if a man does it, amirite Albert?) openly with a singer named Shug Avery. Not only that, but he beats Celie and emotionally abuses her while she takes care of his children and his house. He won’t even let her learn to read; she has to do it on the sly. He’s a world-class dick. As a woman from a bygone (good riddance) era, Celie has no recourse for a long time but to shut up and take it.

Complete article here
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Why the rich bash the poor…


From SHARON ASTYK

Well, as the republican donnybrooks narrow down, the enemy becomes evident – the American poor. Newt Gingrich particularly dislikes poor folk, especially poor children, because after all, if they were good people they wouldn’t be poor, they’d be working 50 hours a week in some nice sweatshop!

Celeste Monforton at The Pump Handle has a nice post on the realities of the food stamp recipients Newt claims are lazy buggers.

“And we think unconditional efforts by the best food stamp president in American history to maximize dependency is terrible for the future of this country.”

It is absolutely true that there are more food stamp recipients as a percentage of the population than ever in history – and that that was also true during the last two years of George W. Bush’s presidency. President Obama’s claim that this is due to the recession is only partly right – the reality is that as fossil energies, health care and housing costs have risen, most households have a smaller and smaller portion of their income to devote to discretionary expenses like food – and oddly, food as become functionally discretionary for many people, I’m not just being facetious, although I wish I was.

For most people with fixed costs for transportation, medications and high housing and associated costs, food is one of the few things you can cut back on – which means that the end of the month looks very different than the beginning. The incredible draw on food pantries, food stamps and soup kitchens isn’t about dependency – or at least dependency on social programs. It is about another kind of dependency, on an economic system that is slowly chewing people up and spitting them out.

It is disturbing that 1 in 7 Americans will soon probably depend on food stamps and 1 in 3 children. As I have argued before that represents a fundamental shift in our culture – we can no longer afford to eat well even on the cheapest food in the world, and the US has now functionally joined other nations that have to subsidize food for its people in order to ensure that they eat. This is a huge fundamental shift – but we also know what happens when we don’t subsidize food for the hungry poor in any nation. The kids suffer, the elderly suffer and those with the strength and the anger riot.

The reason so many people (and you can see this in the comments at the Pump Handle) get so angry about recipients of any kind of aid is that we are so good at setting people against one another, particularly the weakest and most desperate people – so the barely getting by working poor hate the unemployed poor – and we feed on this just as we do on our government subsidized milk.

Depending on food subsidies should not be a source of shame as the last three presidents have moved towards making them normative, and our whole culture has worked to making sure that food came second to everything else. What should be more troubling is asking why we are spending so much

We need a maximum wage: High pay to the executive class is both counterproductive and unnecessary…


From MONBIOT
“Comfort the afflicted, afflict the comfortable.”
The Guardian

The Great Pay Robbery

The successful bank robber no longer covers his face and leaps over the counter with a sawn-off shotgun. He arrives in a chauffeur-driven car, glides into the lift then saunters into an office at the top of the building. No one stops him. No one, even when the scale of the heist is revealed, issues a warrant for his arrest. The modern robber obtains prior approval from the institution he is fleecing.

The income of corporate executives, which the business secretary Vince Cable has just failed to address, is a form of institutionalised theft, arranged by a kleptocratic class for the benefit of its members. The wealth which was once spread more evenly among the staff of a company, or distributed as lower prices or higher taxes, is now siphoned off by people who have neither earned nor generated it.

Over the past ten years, chief executives’ pay has risen nine times faster than that of the median earner. Some bosses (British Gas, Xstrata and Barclays for example) are now being paid over 1000 times the national median wage. The share of national income captured by the top 0.1% rose from 1.3% in 1979 to 6.5% by 2007.

These rewards bear no relationship to risk. The bosses of big companies, though they call themselves risk-takers, are 13 times less likely to be sacked than the lowest paid workers. Even if they lose their jobs and never work again, they will have invested so much and secured such generous pensions and severance packages that they’ll live in luxury for the rest of their lives. The risks are carried by other people.

The problem of executive pay is characterised by Cable and many others as a gap between reward and performance. But it runs deeper than that, for three reasons.

As the writer Dan Pink has shown, high pay actually reduces performance. Material rewards incentivise simple mechanistic jobs, such as working on an assembly line. But they lead to the poorer execution of tasks which require problem solving and cognitive skills. As studies for the US Federal Reserve and other such bolsheviks show, cash incentives narrow people’s focus and restrict the range of their thinking. By contrast, intrinsic motivators — such as a sense of autonomy, of enhancing your skills and pursuing a higher purpose — tend to improve performance.

Even the 0.1% concede that money is not what drives them. Bernie Ecclestone says “I doubt if any successful business person works for money … money is a by-product of success. It’s not the main aim.” Jeroen van der Veer, formerly the chief executive of Shell, recalls, “if I had been paid 50 per cent more, I would not have done it better. If I had been paid 50 per cent less, then I would not have done it worse”. High pay is both counterproductive and unnecessary…

Original article with references here
~~

500 Referees to ‘Blow the Whistle’ today on Big Oil’s Corruption of Congress in Washington…


From Real Time with Bill Maher: Bill Moyers discusses the importance of people power and popular support to help enable the President to do the right thing using Bill McKibben and Occupy Movement, as it relates to Obama not allowing the Keystone pipeline for now, as an example.

Chris Hedges, suing Obama, speaks to Occupy Movement…
~
500 Referees to  “Blow the Whistle” on Big Oil’s Corruption of Congress

Keystone XL pipeline protesters will go on the offensive this Tuesday with a rally on Capitol Hill featuring 500 people dressed as referees “blowing the whistle” on fossil fuel funded corruption in Congress.

Who: 500 referees, a marching band, Senator Bernie Sanders, Representative Steve Cohen, 350.org founder Bill McKibben, Energy Action Coalition Environmental Justice Director Lili Molina, Greenpeace Executive Director Phil Radford, and peace and justice advocate Rev. Graylan Hagler.

What: 500 referees blowing whistles, throwing penalty flags, and holding signs that call out individual members of Congress for the amount of money they have received from the fossil fuel industry. After the event on Capitol Hill, protesters will march to the American Petroleum Institute to protest the industry front group.

Where: West Lawn, US Capitol Building

When: 12:00 – 2:00 PM, Tuesday, Jan 24

Why: Despite President Obama’s rejection of the Keystone XL permit, Speaker Boehner and certain members of Congress continue to push the pipeline, in large part because of the millions of dollars in campaign contributions they’ve received from Big Oil. This sort of bribery wouldn’t be allowed at the Super Bowl – let alone a high school football game – and it shouldn’t be allowed in our democracy. One day before Congress holds new hearings on Keystone XL (and two weeks before the Super Bowl), protesters will “blow the whistle” on this fossil fuel funded corruption and use Keystone XL to hold politicians accountable for their ties to Big Oil.
~

National Call to Action Made by the Portland General Assembly – January 1st, 2012

Occupy Portland calls for a national day of non-violent direct action to reclaim our voices and challenge our society’s obsession with profit and greed by shutting down the corporations.  We are rejecting

Things I learned from opening a book store…



From jlsathre
Open Salon

1.  People are getting rid of bookshelves.  Treat the money you budgeted for shelving as found money.  Go to garage sales and cruise the curbs.

2.  While you’re drafting that business plan, cut your projected profits in half.  People are getting rid of bookshelves.

3.  If someone comes in and asks where to find the historical fiction, they’re not looking for classics, they want the romance section.

4.  If someone comes in and says they read a little of everything, they also want the romance section.

5. If someone comes in and asks for a recommendation and you ask for the name of a book that they liked and they can’t think of one, the person is not really a reader.  Recommend Nicholas Sparks.

6.  Kids will stop by your store on their way home from school if you have a free bucket of kids books.  If you also give out free gum, they’ll come every day and start bringing their friends.

7.  If you put free books outside, cookbooks will be gone in the first hour and other non-fiction books will sit there for weeks.  Except in warm weather when people are having garage sales.  Then someone will back their car up and take everything, including your baskets.

8.  If you put free books outside, someone will walk in every week and ask if they’re really free, no matter how many signs you put out .  Someone else will walk in and ask if everything in the store is free.

9.  No one buys  self help books in a store where there’s a high likelihood of  personal interaction when paying.  Don’t waste the shelf space, put them in the free baskets.

10.  This is also true of sex manuals.  The only ones who show an interest in these in a small store are the gum chewing kids, who will find them no matter how well you hide them.

11.  Under no circumstances should you put the sex manuals in the free baskets.  Parents will show up.

12.  People buying books don’t write bad checks.  No need for ID’s. They do regularly show up having raided the change jar.

13.  If you have a bookstore that shares a parking lot with a beauty shop that caters to an older clientele, the cars parked in your lot will always be pulled in at an angle even though it’s not angle parking.

14.  More people want to sell books than buy them, which means your initial concerns were wrong.  You will have no trouble getting books, the problem is selling them.  Plus a shortage of storage space

Occupy San Francisco takes the fight to local banks in ambitious next step for movement…


From GARY KAMIYA
Salon

… 198 different methods of nonviolent action. Camping out is one tactic. We still have 197 more tactics to go through, and another 500 to create.

Act II of the Occupy Wall Street movement, San Francisco version, kicked off on a rainy, blustery Friday in the heart of the city’s financial district. Targeting specific corporations like Wells Fargo and Bank of America and emphasizing real, tangible issues like home foreclosures, affordable health care and education as well as broader ones like the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision, several hundred protesters – the exact number was impossible to estimate – fanned out across the city, snarling traffic, getting arrested, holding sidewalk teach-ins, and generally serving notice that after its brief winter hibernation, the Occupy movement was back and kicking.

Occupy’s first act, the Tent Phase, ended in early December, when city authorities raided its urban camp at Justin Herman Plaza near the Ferry Building. But even before the tents were removed, it had become clear that the movement needed both to develop new tactics and deepen its strategic vision.

“After the raid, when our attention was no longer focused on [the encampment], people turned back to their neighborhoods and their campuses,” said David Solnit, who is part of a direct action working group associated with Occupy SF. “We started Occupy Bernal Heights [a multi-ethnic, mixed-income neighborhood on the edge of the Mission District], and we had 65 people at the first meeting. We went door to door meeting folks facing foreclosures. We got meetings with mid-level people at Wells Fargo Bank.”

Solnit – who is the brother of San Francisco writer Rebecca Solnit – said that OccupySF Housing, a housing-related spinoff of the movement, had held marches in four neighborhoods and succeeded in saving four homes from foreclosure.

“We’re more diversified now, but more powerful than when all our eggs were in one basket,” Solnit said. “Gene Sharp came up with 198 different methods of nonviolent action. Camping out is one tactic. We still have 197 more tactics to go through, and another 500 to create.”

At 6:20 a.m., in pitch darkness, with a miserable rain pelting down in front of the enormous 52-story monolith of 555 California, it seemed like a good idea for Occupy to come up with a new tactic immediately.

Bay Area Solutions Guides: chickens, greywater, rainwater harvesting …


From BAY LOCALIZE (San Francisco Bay Area, California)
(January 2012)

Our Mission

We inspire and support Bay Area residents in building equitable, resilient communities. We confront the challenges of climate instability, rising energy costs, and recession by boosting our region’s capacity to provide for everyone’s needs, sustainably and equitably. We achieve this by equipping local leaders with flexible tools, models, and policies that strengthen their communities.

Why local? Why now?

Humanity is at a turning point. We’re using so much of the Earth’s resources that we’re endangering the very life-support systems upon which we all depend. At the same time, too many people in our communities are going without the basics to lead healthy lives. The task of our generation is to learn to live happily on fewer resources, to distribute these resources equitably, and to make our communities resilient enough to withstand the bumps in the road along the way.

The goal is clear. Reaching it means coming to terms with climate change, our addiction to oil, and deep social inequalities. Bay Localize creates innovative solutions for communities to meet basic needs in ways that harness local resources creatively, sustainably, and equitably. We catalyze change at the community level by providing tools to chart a path to resilience, and ramping up good models to scale through local policy change. Bay Localize focuses our work where we live in the nine-county San Francisco Bay Area, but our tools and models are replicated throughout the country and the world.

Bay Localize believes that vibrant local economies and healthy communities are the answer to our growing challenges. They are the best safeguard against global insecurity, an essential part of achieving social equity, and a vital way to enrich our day-to-day lives. Join Bay Localize in creating a hopeful and vibrant future for us all.

With the growing interest in urban agriculture, greywater, rainwater catchment and permaculture solutions, we have a tremendous opportunity to help meet the needs of our communities and boost our local economy. Explore the following Solutions Series Guides to help you get started on making a real difference in your household and neighborhood!

Chicken Coops
Greywater Systems
Rainwater Harvesting
Rooftop Gardens
Urban Farming and Gardening
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Misery Loves Company: Top 10 Depression Films…


From DENNIS HARTLEY
Hullabaloo

I’ve sure been hearing the “D” word an awful lot lately. They say that in times of severe economic downturn, people crave pure escapism at the movies. I say, screw that. I wanna revel in economic downturn, ‘cos there’s something else “they” say as well: Misery loves company. So, with that in mind, and in the spirit of a little cinematic aversion therapy, here’s my Top 10 Great Depression Movies. Study them well, because there’s yet one more thing that “they say”: Those who do not understand history are doomed to repeat it.

Berlin Alexanderplatz- When you think of the Great Depression in terms of film and literature, it tends to vibe America-centric in the mind’s eye. In reality, the economic downturn between the great wars was a global phenomenon (not unlike our current situation); things were literally “tough all over”. You could say that Germany had a jumpstart on the depression (economically speaking, everything below the waist was kaput by the mid 1920s). In October of 1929 (interesting historical timing), Alfred Doblin’s epic novel Berlin Alexanderplatz: The Story Of Franz Biberkopf was published, then adapted into a film in 1931 directed by Phil Jutzi. It wasn’t until nearly 50 years later that the ultimate film version would appear as Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s 15 hour opus. It’s nearly impossible to encapsulate this spiritually exhausting viewing experience in just a few lines; I’ll just say that it is (by turns) the most outrageous, shocking, transcendent, boring, awe-inspiring, maddening and soul-scorching film I’ve ever hated myself for loving so much.

Bonnie and Clyde- The gangster movie meets the art film in this 1967 groundbreaker from director Arthur Penn. There is much more to this influential masterpiece than just the oft-mentioned operatic crescendo of violent death in the closing frames; particularly of note was the ingenious way that its attractive antiheroes were posited to directly appeal to the rebellious counterculture zeitgeist of the time, even though the film was ostensibly a “nostalgia piece”. Our better instincts may tell us that the real Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow were nowhere near as charismatic (or physically beautiful) as Faye Dunaway and Warren Beatty, but we don’t really care, do we? (Is it getting warm in here? Woof!)

Bound for Glory-There’s only one man to whom Pete Seeger, Bob Dylan

Playing for keeps…


From DERRICK JENSEN
OrionMagazine.org

People who read my work often say, “Okay, so it’s clear you don’t like this culture, but what do you want to replace it?” The answer is that I don’t want any one culture to replace this culture. I want ten thousand cultures to replace this culture, each one arising organically from its own place. That’s how humans inhabited the planet (or, more precisely, their landbases, since each group inhabited a place, and not the whole world, which is precisely the point), before this culture set about reducing all cultures to one.

I live on Tolowa (Indian) land. Prior to the arrival of the dominant culture, the Tolowa lived here for 12,500 years, if you believe the myths of science. If you believe the myths of the Tolowa, they lived here since the beginning of time. This story may sound familiar, but its significance has, thus far, been lost on the dominant culture, so it bears repeating: when the first settlers arrived here maybe 180 years ago, the place was a paradise. Salmon ran in runs so thick you couldn’t see the bottoms of rivers, so thick people were afraid to put their boats in for fear they would capsize, so thick they would keep people awake at night with the slapping of their tails against the water, so thick you could hear the runs for miles before you could see them. Whales were commonplace in the nearby ocean. Forests were thick with frogs, newts, salamanders, birds, elk, bears. And of course huge ancient redwood trees.

Now I count myself blessed when I see two salmon in what we today call Mill Creek. Another Tolowa staple, Pacific lampreys, are in bad shape. Just three years ago you could not hold a human conversation outside at night in the spring, and now I hear maybe five or six frogs at night.

Our time to come alive…


From DIANNE MONROE
Transition Voice

This is an amazing time to be alive!

“Yeah, right,” my inner cynic says, “crumbling economy, peak oil, peak everything, melting ice caps, mass extinctions…”

The list goes on and on, all woven together, I remind my cynic within, by the fact that we’re living in a time when the old is crumbling, which is when there’s the greatest opportunity to create something new.

And that is an amazing time to be alive!

If you’re alive today, you’re part of this Great Unraveling/ Great Turning, or whatever we choose to call it. If, like me, you’re middle aged or beyond, we’ve lived through the apex of a global empire now passed irrevocably into decline.

When exactly that point of turning was passed is the topic of many discussions. I’m not sure how important it is to know the precise point. We know that something big happened on the way down with the economic crisis of 2008, even if the mainstream economic pundits keep assuring us that prosperity is just around the corner.

We’re experiencing this great crumbling from within, and that’s a very good (if at times painful) thing. In times of crumbling, when the old way of being and doing can no longer hold itself, can no longer hold us in its grip, there’s greater fluidity, a greater opening. In times like these even small actions can reverberate widely into the future.

That makes it an amazing time to be alive.

The gift

Think about all the humans that have ever lived. They lived through times of joy and plenty, through wars, famines, natural disasters. They lived through the rise and crumbling of empires.

Dreams from endangered cultures…


From WADE DAVIS
National Geographic
Ted Talks video here

You know, one of the intense pleasures of travel and one of the delights of ethnographic research is the opportunity to live amongst those who have not forgotten the old ways, who still feel their past in the wind, touch it in stones polished by rain, taste it in the bitter leaves of plants. Just to know that Jaguar shamans still journey beyond the Milky Way, or the myths of the Inuit elders still resonate with meaning, or that in the Himalaya, the Buddhists still pursue the breath of the Dharma, is to really remember the central revelation of anthropology, and that is the idea that the world in which we live does not exist in some absolute sense, but is just one model of reality, the consequence of one particular set of adaptive choices that our lineage made, albeit successfully, many generations ago.

And of course, we all share the same adaptive imperatives. We’re all born. We all bring our children into the world. We go through initiation rites. We have to deal with the inexorable separation of death, so it shouldn’t surprise us that we all sing, we all dance, we all have art.

But what’s interesting is the unique cadence of the song, the rhythm of the dance in every culture. And whether it is the Penan in the forests of Borneo, or the Voodoo acolytes in Haiti, or the warriors in the Kaisut desert of Northern Kenya, the Curandero in the mountains of the Andes, or a caravanserai in the middle of the Sahara — this is incidentally the fellow that I traveled into the desert with a month ago — or indeed a yak herder in the slopes of Qomolangma, Everest, the goddess mother of the world.

All of these peoples teach us that there are other ways of being, other ways of thinking, other ways of orienting yourself in the Earth. And this is an idea, if you think about it, can only fill you with hope. Now, together the myriad cultures of the world make up a web of spiritual life and cultural life that envelops the planet, and is as important to the well-being of the planet as indeed is the biological web of life that you know as a biosphere. And you might think of this cultural web of life as being an ethnosphere, and you might define the ethnosphere as being the sum total of all thoughts and dreams, myths, ideas, inspirations, intuitions brought into being by the human imagination since the dawn of consciousness.

The California Right to Know Genetically Engineered Food Act


From RONNIE CUMMINGS
Organic Consumers Union

We are on the road to victory in California with coalition members, strategic allies, and key donors increasing their support all the time. We now have over 50 environmental, alternative health, and sustainable food organizations and businesses advocating for our cause. But, most importantly, we have over 1,500 dedicated CA volunteers trained and ready to hit the streets when signature gathering begins in February. You can go here to volunteer by gathering petition signatures in California.

This November 2012 California Ballot Initiative, which will require foods
sold in California retail outlets to be labeled as such, may be the most important GMO battle of all time. A win in California will mean radical changes to food labels everywhere. Producers will either have to change the way they market Frankenfoods or else stop using GMOs altogether. We think we can reverse the biotech strangle-hold on our food system in our lifetimes.

You don’t have to live in California to donate to this historic ballot initiative.

Consumers everywhere have a right to know what’s in the food we buy and eat and feed our children, just as we have the right to know how many calories are in the food we buy, or whether food comes from other countries like Mexico or China. In the past, we’ve successfully fought for labels telling us the country of origin of products, as well as whether foods have been irradiated. Now it’s time to stand up for our right to know which foods are laced with GMOs.

Efforts to enact labeling laws in Congress and in other state legislatures have been blocked by big food and chemical company lobbyists. The California Ballot Initiative will take the issue directly to the people. For more information about the initiative visit California Right To Know and the Organic Consumers Fund.
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Todd Walton: Crazy Memory


From TODD WALTON
UnderTheTableBooks.com
Mendocino

“Every man’s memory is his private literature.” Aldous Huxley

I used to know a loquacious drunk who punctuated his pontifications with the disclaimer, “Of course, memories are, at best, only fair approximations of what actually happened, so please don’t quote me.” At least I think that’s what he said. And I took his disclaimer to mean that his memory was not so sharp, whereas my own recollections were essentially photographic and therefore highly accurate. Silly me.

A few nights ago we watched the movie Bedazzled (the original work of genius, not the execrable remake) created by and starring Peter Cook and Dudley Moore, with a stirring cameo by the preternatural Raquel Welch, and we laughed so hard at some of the scenes I felt five years younger at movie’s end. I hadn’t seen Bedazzled in thirty years and feared the sarcastic romp might not stand the test of time, but it did with ease. However, what did not stand the test of time were my memories of favorite scenes from the film, for they were, as the drunk foresaw, only approximations of the actual scenes.

Indeed, I was crestfallen that my most favorite scene (as I remembered it) only barely resembled the actual scene in the film. Which scene? The one in which Raquel Welch brings Dudley Moore breakfast in bed. In my misremembered version, Raquel’s seduction of the hapless Moore lasts a good ten minutes and features the nearly naked Raquel erotically enunciating each syllable of the expression, “hot buttered buns” as part of an excruciatingly slow build to an orgasmic finish; when in actuality Raquel spat that delectable phrase rapid fire in the midst of a badly blurted speech prelude to seductus interruptus.

Bash the Beast…


From orgtheory.net

A long time ago, in graduate school, my television was stolen and it changed my life. I now had lots of free time. I never understood on a gut level what I was missing until my tv was gone. There was a whole world beyond my living room low rent studio apartment. Jacob Levy once told me during a party, “Fabio, if you don’t watch tv, you had better be very well read.” Indeed, fair ranger, I am now quite well read.

I learned a second lesson. Most television is garbage. Once you unplug and then start watching later, you are immediately confronted with this truth. Ever since childhood, I was accustomed to watching whatever came on. Sure, I had preferences. Some shows are better than others, but I was letting someone throw rubbish at my face every night for hours at a time. For free!

Later, I realized that the issue wasn’t drama or comedy. Ultimately, there’s no harm in having an abnormally thorough knowledge of the Jeffersons and its catchy theme song. There real issue is television news. As a social scientist in training, I began to believe that I am seeking the truth about social life. It’s my calling. It is what I have decided to dedicate my life to at the expense of more remunerative careers. Therefore, it is unethical for me to consume or support cultural products that are misleading depictions on the social world.

You don’t need to be a die hard Chomskian who believes that the media is a mere tool of corporate and state interests, although that does happen to fair degree. Rather, you need to compare social science 101 to what happens on the news.

Example 1: Local television news is driven by “if it bleeds, it leads.” That gives the impression that crime is ubiquitous. Instead, much evidence shows a long term decrease in criminal violence in Western society. Steven Pinker’s recent book on violence merely documents what historical criminologists have known for a while.

Small scale organic farmers our only hope…


From ROBIN BROAD and JOHN CAVANAGH
Yes! Magazine 

There is battle raging across the world over who can better feed its people: small-scale farmers practicing sustainable agriculture, or giant agribusinesses using chemical fertilizers and pesticides.

It was small-scale organic farmers growing rice for themselves and local markets in the Philippines who first convinced us that they could feed both their communities and their country. Part of what convinced us was simple economics: These farmers demonstrated substantial immediate savings from eliminating chemical inputs while, within a few harvests—if not immediately—their yields were close to or above their previous harvests. From these farmers, we also learned of the health and environmental benefits from this shift.

Moving up from what we learned in the Philippines to examine other countries, we have concluded that small-scale farmers practicing different kinds of what is now called agroecology can feed the world. Agroecology extends the organic label to a broader category of ecosystem-friendly, locally adapted agricultural systems, including agro-forestry and techniques like crop rotation, topsoil management, and watershed restoration. (For more details on our research and conclusions, check out our “Can Danilo Atilano Feed the World?” in the current Earth Island Journal, the magazine of the California-based Earth Island Institute.)

Eager to learn more and network with others from across the globe, Robin accepted an invitation from the Transnational Institute and the International Institute of Social Studies to speak about our Philippine research at a global conference in the Netherlands on alternative approaches to food and hunger.

She came away even more convinced that small-scale farmers are our only hope. She also came away excited to have met an impressive range of experts on the subject, including a bold champion for small-scale farmers:

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