Mendo Island Journal — Timely. Useful. Sometimes Cranky.

Archive for February, 2012|Monthly archive page

Dave Smith: Pursuing Happiness…

In Dave Smith on February 29, 2012 at 6:16 am

To the Editors: The AVA, UDJ, WN

Are you happy? Chances are, if you live here in the United States, you are not. Despite the enshrinement in our Declaration of Independence of the phrase “Pursuit of Happiness” as one of the sovereign rights of mankind, we are way down on the list of the happiest countries in the world. In fact, we are not even in the Top 10.

According to a study by “24-7 Wall Street” that looked into the OECD’s Better Life Index to determine what the happiest nations on the planet are, it turns out that the happy nations spend far more of their GDP on social programs than we do here in America. The study examined quality of life things such as health, education, housing, the environment, jobs, community, work life, and income to figure out what truly makes a nation happy.

Old, stable nations of northern Europe took five of the top 10 spots on the list. These include the “socialist” Finland, Sweden, the Netherlands, Norway, and Denmark, all way happier than we are down the list at number 19.

Does it surprise you that the happiest nation, Denmark, also has the highest taxes of all?

As we are continually warned and berated by the tiresome scolds in our local opinion columns and letters to the editor to fear those who hold firm on providing a basic social safety net for the least among us, we must ask ourselves what motivates such a steadfast and determined assault on our personal and community happiness.

Dave Smith
Ukiah
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Hey Ayn Rand Worshippers: Face the Facts and STFU — Our Liberal Blue States are the Providers while Your Conservative Red States are the Parasites…

In Around the web on February 29, 2012 at 6:00 am

From SARA ROBINSON
AlterNet

Last week, the New York Times published a widely discussed article updating an argument that progressive bloggers noticed a very long time ago. It’s now well-understood that blue states generally export money to the federal government; and red states generally import it.

TPM published a great map showing exactly how this redistribution works: (click here) Progressives believe in the redistribution of wealth, so we’re not usually too upset by this state of affairs. That’s what it means to be one country. E pluribus unum, and all that. We’re happy to help, because we think we’ve got a stake in making sure kids in rural Alabama get educations and seniors in Arizona get healthcare. What’s good for them is good for all of us. We also like to think they’d help us out if our positions were reversed. It’s an investment in making America stronger, and we feel fine about that.

More…

Gina Covina: Planning ahead to save your seeds…

In Around Mendo Island, Gina Covina on February 28, 2012 at 7:10 am

From GINA COVINA
Laughing Frog Farm
Laytonville

[Gina's seeds from Laughing Frog Farm now available at Mulligan Books & Seeds. -DS]

If you haven’t saved seed from your vegetable garden, here are the basics you need to know before you plant. Some planning is required – you can’t reliably save seed as an afterthought.

First, be sure you’re starting with an open-pollinated variety rather than a hybrid. All the food crops we know and love were developed by countless generations of seed savers and will breed true to type from seeds you save – that’s open-pollinated. Hybrids are first-generation crosses between varieties – F1 crosses – that result in a very uniform set of characteristics (handy for mechanical harvest and for transport and sales) and a boost in robustness that is known as hybrid vigor. Save and grow the seed from your hybrid and the result (the F2 generation) will revert to a large range of characteristics, with most plants being unsatisfactory from an eater’s perspective.

Hybrids were developed as a way for seed companies to create and hold a market More…

Occupy chock full of traitors, infiltrators, and provocateurs…

In Around the web on February 28, 2012 at 7:08 am

From KEVIN ZEESE and MARGARET FLOWERS
TruthDig

On the very first day of the Occupation of Wall Street, we saw infiltration by the police. We were leaving Zuccotti Park and were stopped in traffic. We saw the doors of an unmarked van open and in the front seat were two uniformed police. Out of the back came two men dressed as Occupiers wearing backpacks, sweatshirts and jeans. They walked into Zuccotti Park and became part of the crowd.

In the first week of the Occupation of Freedom Plaza in Washington, D.C., we saw the impact of two right wing infiltrators. A peaceful protest was planned at the drone exhibit at the Smithsonian Institution. The plan was for a banner drop and a die-in under the drones. But as protesters arrived at the museum, two people ran out in front, threatening the security guards and causing them to pepper spray protesters and tourists. Patrick Howley, an assistant editor at the American Spectator, wrote a column bragging about his role as an agent provocateur. A few days later we uncovered the second infiltrator, Michael Stack, when he was urging people on Freedom Plaza to resist police with force. We later learned he was from the Leadership Institute, which trains youth in right wing ideology More…

The Ungodly Godly…

In Around the web on February 28, 2012 at 6:00 am

From ZEPP JAMIESON
The Big Weasel’s Weblog

[...] The huge advantage to religious demagoguery is that you can use the name of the Christ Jesus to persuade people to oppose their own best interests. You have to be careful, of course, because Jesus was a socialist and anti-authoritarian besides. There was that “eye of the needle” and “the least among you” stuff that had to be glossed over, and a right wing group has been busy writing a version of the New Testament that eliminates all the touchy-feely left-wing stuff and essentially creates the impression that Jesus was a supply sider and probably wanted to keep Jews out of his country club.

Neo-cons are still in disrepute, despite the ongoing efforts to gin up a war against Iran, and the Occupy movement has made appeals to peoples’ supply-side sensitivities a limited one. People aren’t as willing to give to billionaires so they can soar like eagles as they were a few years earlier. The only thing that comes from soaring eagles is predation and eagle shit, and people who are already struggling don’t find that in their own best interests.

That leaves religious demagoguery. Which is why you have a religious nut like Rick Santorum leading the race (for now) in the GOP, and why Newt Gingrich, of all people, has been trying to exploit this by mooing religious noises of his own.

The GOP have nothing to offer More…

OWS: How to Create, Buy and Sell Criminals…

In Around the web on February 27, 2012 at 5:28 am

From ARVIND DILAWAR
The Occupied Wall Street Journal

Corrections Corporation of America (CCA), owner of the largest private prison system in the United States, recently sent a letter to 48 states offering up to $250 million to manage government-owned detention centers. The letter lists the criteria of eligible purchases, which include an assurance that state corrections agencies “have sufficient inmate population to maintain a minimum 90 percent occupancy over the term of the contract.”

This guarantee isn’t difficult to rationalize when considering it from CCA’s point of view. They are paid by the government for each prisoner they house, so they want to house as many prisoners as possible in order to maximize their revenue.

But what if there aren’t enough prisoners to fill CCA’s quota? Private prisons have faced this dilemma before, and they’ve responded by buying prisoners through legislation, government infiltration and old-fashioned bribery. And in the not too distant future, these conditions may mean that the mass arrests of Occupy protesters could become a windfall for investors.

HOW TO PURCHASE PRISONERS

1. Write the Laws More…

Transition Ukiah Valley Film Series: The Economics of Happiness at the Saturday Afternoon Club – Tonight 2/27/12 6:30 pm

In Around Mendo Island on February 27, 2012 at 5:00 am

TRANSITION UKIAH VALLEY
PRESENTS

Are you concerned about the future?

Communities around the world are recognizing the reality of peak oil and climate change, and are coming together to create economies that are more sustainable, resilient and socially just. This film explores the problems we are facing and how a renewal of localization can heal both the earth and ourselves.

The Saturday Afternoon Clubhouse
107 S. Oak Street
Monday, February 27th
6:30 PM
$5-10 Donation requested
Light refreshments provided

Transition Ukiah Valley is part of an international localization movement to build community resilience in the face of climate change, peak oil and environmental degradation.

Learn more about us here…
www.transitionukiahvalley.org

A Fiscally Sponsored Program of the Cloud Forest Institute
~~

Not Ready to Do What’s Needed…

In Around the web on February 27, 2012 at 5:00 am

From DAVE POLLARD
How To Save The World

There is a period in most relationships when one or more of the members knows in their heart that the relationship is not sustainable and something very difficult must be done, but they aren’t yet ready to do it. Most likely they are hoping that someone else will acknowledge it as well, and maybe even do it for them, save them the trouble. This period of awkwardness, tension, partial denial, suffering and unspoken grief, can last a long time.

I think we, the human species, in our astonishing relationship with each other, in this contract we call “civilization”, are now in such a period, and we have been for some time. We don’t want to give up on the relationship — it has given us a lot, we are used to it, and we can make ourselves believe it still has promise More…

Hey! There IS no tomorrow…

In Around the web on February 26, 2012 at 7:00 am


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Gas prices set records, soon to reach new highs

Mainstream media outlets throughout the country are now reporting on record-breaking gas prices, the highest ever for this time of the year.  Also making the rounds is the commonly cited prediction by former Shell CEO John Hofmeister that there is a better than 50 percent chance that gas prices will reach $5 a gallon by this summer in the U.S.  This is in spite of the fact that U.S. oil production is up and oil consumption down, since 2008.  What the media isn’t reporting on is the rest of what Hofmeister said in a recent peak oil themed debate he had with Tad Patzek on Feb. 14.

In the debate, Hofmeister said that we’re heading for $7 to $8 gas and rationing by 2015, and rolling blackouts and brownouts.  He also made clear that oil is the lubricant More…

Basketry: Out of hundreds of traditional crafts, none has so many everyday applications…

In Around the web on February 26, 2012 at 6:15 am

From BRIAN KALLER
Low-Tech Magazine

We tend to think of technology as rock and metal – from the Stone Age to the Iron Age, from pyramids and statues to Viking swords and pirate cannons. We think of the things that survive to be placed in museums, in other words, and tend to neglect the early and important inventions that ordinary people used every day but whose materials did not survive centuries of exposure.

29,000 years of history

Virtually all human cultures have made baskets, and have apparently done so since we co-existed with ground sloths and sabre-toothed cats; for tens of thousands of years humans may have slept in basket-frame huts, kept predators out with basket fences, and caught fish in basket traps gathered while paddling along a river in a basket-frame boat. They might have carried their babies in basket papooses and gone to their graves in basket coffins.

The earliest piece of ancient basketry we have comes from 13,000 years ago, but impressions on ceramics from Central Europe indicate woven fibres — textiles or baskets More…

The Wobblies Legacy…

In Around the web on February 26, 2012 at 6:00 am

From DICK MEISTER
www.dickmeister.com

The Occupy Wall Street Movement and the other anti-capitalist forces of today could find no greater inspiration than the Industrial Workers of the World – the IWW, one of the most influential organizations in U.S. history, that was founded in Chicago in 1905 by a band of fiercely dedicated idealists.

The Wobblies, as they were called, battled against overwhelming odds. Their only real weapon was an utter refusal to compromise in a single-minded march toward a Utopia that pitted them against the combined forces of government and business.

Their weapon, their goals, the power of their opponents, the imperfect world about them made it inevitable that they would lose. But this is not to say the Wobblies failed because they didn’t reach their goal of creating “One Big Union” to wage a general strike that would put all means of production in the hands of workers and transform the country into a “Cooperative Commonwealth of Workers.”

To say the Wobbles failed More…

Dave Smith: ‘Dumb Farmers’…

In Dave Smith on February 25, 2012 at 8:30 am

From DAVE SMITH
Ukiah
to be of use (2005)

The most fundamental of businesses, and one whose values I believe come closest to those taught by the wisdom traditions, is organic family farming. I’ve found my own Creative Action Heroes among the peasants and those who look at life with a peasant’s perspective — organic market farmers, organic restaurateurs, and others involved with the organic food movement. Their mission, and the missions of their businesses, address a problem, either directly or indirectly, that touches all of our lives: environmental pollution from toxic chemicals on the land, in our water, and in our food that cause health problems.

Our culture’s idyllic idea of the small farm features the white farmhouse with the red barn, chickens clucking in the barnyard, pastured animals munching sleepily on green hills, and the farmer rocking gently on the front porch at dusk. Of course, nothing could be further from the truth. A small organic or sustainable farm is a beehive of swarming activity from before first light until way after the sun has disappeared. I remember reading somewhere that 70 percent of Americans, if they had the choice, would live on a farm. Whether or not they would choose to work that farm is another matter entirely. More…

Gene Logsdon: Our Hidden Wound

In Gene Logsdon Blog - The Contrary Farmer on February 25, 2012 at 8:09 am

From GENE LOGSDON (1992)
The Contrary Farmer
[Repost]

I’m a hayseed, I’m a hayseed,
and my ears are full of pigweed.
How they flop in stormy weather—
gosh oh hemlock, tough as leather…

—From a children’s rhyme heard in the Midwest in the 1930s and forties.

Most of us grew up in a society where farmer was often merely a synonym for moron, and I am quite sure that many farmers are still haunted by feelings of inferiority laid on them by this kind of urban and urbane prejudice. In fact, I suspect that many of the most competent farmers among us continue to expand their farm empires not out of greed or an insatiable desire for wealth, but because they feel compelled to prove again and again that, by God, they are not inferior to anyone. They want to cram that fact as far down the throats of their boyhood taunters as they can, and, sadly, they spend their lives doing it.

In my high school days in the late forties, supercilious town girls routinely claimed that milking cows More…

Todd Walton: Greek To Me

In Todd Walton on February 24, 2012 at 7:00 am

From TODD WALTON
UnderTheTableBooks
Mendocino

“The church is the great lost and found department.” Robert Short

The terrace at the Presbyterian in Mendocino can be a wonderful place to sit and read and write and eat a snack, especially on a sunny day. From every bench one has a view of either the ocean sparkling in the distance or of the stately white church with its impressive shingled spire. Tourists and itinerants frequent the terrace, and sometimes these visitors will notice me there on a bench, deduce from my appearance and demeanor that I am a local character, and then ask me questions, which I do my best to answer.

“Where is the historical monument?” I think you mean historical landmark, and this church is the landmark.

“Is it a Catholic church?” No.

“Can you go inside the church?” I can, but I prefer to stay out here.

“I mean can we go inside the church?” If the door is unlocked, ye may enter.

“Is there a good Mexican restaurant in the village?” No.

“Is there a homeless shelter around here?” Not in Mendocino, but there is Hospitality House in Fort Bragg providing shelter for well-behaved homeless people.

“How far is it to Fort Bragg?” Eight to ten miles depending on which sign you believe.

“Is there an inexpensive motel around here?” No.

“Where is the best place to watch whales?” Alaska.

“We meant around here.” Take Little Lake Road to where it ends at the ocean. Get out of your car and…

“We have to get out of our car?” No. You can watch from your car, though your chances of actually seeing a whale or a whale spout will be greatly diminished if you stay in your car.

“Is there a good Chinese restaurant around here?” No.

“German?” Nein.

“Pizza?” Frankie’s. More…

Will Parrish: A Travesty Of A Mockery Of A Sham

In Around Mendo Island, Will Parrish on February 24, 2012 at 6:47 am

From WILL PARRISH
Ukiah
TheAVA

The United States government’s “compensation” to American Indians for past and present injustices typically amounts to what Groucho Marx called “a travesty of a mockery of a sham.”  Case in point: In 1974, the California State Legislature voted to pay enrolled members of California Indian nations $0.47 an acre – about $650 per Indian — in exchange for having expropriated all the land of California.  California officials arrived at their $0.47-an-acre calculation because that’s what land was worth in the state, on average, in 1853.

Another example is an agreement announced last week between the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA), Bradley Mining Company, and the Elem Pomo’s US federal government-recognized tribal administrators. As compensation for poisoning the Elem’s land and waters with prodigious amounts of methyl mercury tailings for several decades, thereby causing premature deaths, birth defects, cancers, and bodily deformities among tribal members, while in the process destroying the tribe’s ability to grow food or harvest fish safely (as they have for more than 10,000 years), the Bradley Mining Company would pay the Elem $50,000 and give them five land parcels under the settlement. The EPA says the 380 acres that make up these parcels have been decontaminated.

In exchange, the Elem would never again be allowed to sue the United States government, including the EPA and BIA, or even the Bradley Mining Company, for any reason.

Within days of the settlement agreement’s release, Elem Cultural Leader Jim Browneagle submitted a “public comment” letter to the US Department of Justice and the EPA denouncing the terms of the settlement.

“If the current settlement agreement is approved, it will be a travesty of the federal justice system and violation of Indian Civil Rights Act and Indian Self-determination, while undermining the protection of natural resources and tribal sovereignty,” he wrote. He also called the settlement “a setback of environmental justice [and] a denial of fair and equal compensation to the living surviving Elem members and families for their lifelong pain and suffering and loss of tribal lifeways (gathering of healthy foods and fish).” More…

The Politics of a Local Economy with Doug Mosel Tonight 2/24/12 7-10 pm…

In Around Mendo Island on February 24, 2012 at 6:30 am

Presentation and discussion with Doug Mosel, founder of the Mendocino Grain Project and Campaign Coordinator for Mendocino’s Measure H (no GMO) initiative…. in the Plowshares Community Room, 1346 S State Street.  $5-$10 donation requested for this benefit event.
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From Occupy Our Food Supply Global Day of Action Next Monday 2/27/12:

Vandana Shiva, Indian physicist and internationally renowned activist, adds: “Our food system has been hijacked by corporate giants from the Seed to the table. Seeds controlled by Monsanto, agribusiness trade controlled by Cargill, processing controlled by Pepsi and Philip Morris, retail controlled by Walmart – is a recipe for Food Dictatorship. We must Occupy the Food system to create Food Democracy.”

Raj Patel, activist, academic and author of The Value of Nothing, reflects: “It’s hard for us to imagine life without food corporations because they’ve made our world theirs. Although we think food companies make food for us, in almost every way that matters, we – and our planet – are being transformed to suit food companies. From their marketing to children and exploitation of workers to environmental destruction in search of profit, the food industry represents one of the most profound threats to sustainability we face today.”

Occupy Wall Street’s Sustainability and Food Justice Committees issued this statement in support of #F27: “On Monday, February 27th, 2012, OWS Food Justice, OWS Sustainability, Oakland Food Justice & the worldwide Occupy Movement invite you to join the Global Day of Action to Occupy the Food Supply. We challenge the corporate food regime that has prioritized profit over health and sustainability. We seek to create healthy local food systems. We stand in Solidarity with Indigenous communities, and communities around the world, that are struggling with hunger, exploitation, and unfair labor practices.”

“On this day More…

Are you happy? Is this really as good as it gets?…

In Around Mendo Island on February 23, 2012 at 5:44 am

From THOM HARTMANN

Are you happy? Chances are… you probably aren’t. That’s because according to a new study by “24-7 Wall Street” that looked into the OECD’s Better Life Index to determine what the happiest nations on the planet are… the US didn’t even crack the top 10. The happy nations spend far more of their GDP on social programs than we do here in America. What’s the point of being exceptional – as Ronald Reagan would describe America – if that exceptionality doesn’t make us happy? Until we fix our elections – and kick the corporate millionaires and billionaires out – and claim once and for all that our democracy belongs to We The People – that it’s part of the commons – then we’ll always be stuck in the muck wondering if this… is as good as it gets…

More…

Transition: What’s happening around the world right now…

In Around the web on February 23, 2012 at 5:00 am

From TRANSITION CULTURE
Complete Story with all videos here

Let’s start this month’s round up in Derbyshire, where Melbourne Area Transition have received planning permission to install 48 PV panels on the roof of their local 12th century church, and there they now sit, in their energy-generating splendour.  Here’s a short film made by Chris Bird (author of the Transition book ‘Local Sustainable Homes’ who blogs here) where MAT’s Graham Truscott gives him a tour of the roof.

In a second video, Chris and Graham get in off the roof and talk in more depth about how the scheme came into being, and the obstacles it overcame:

TT-Llandeilo in Wales are fighting to save their historic Market Hall while plans are being considered for a new Sainsbury’s supermarket to the north of the town – read more in This is South Wales.  Picking up a story from last month’s round up, which was explored in more detail in the last Transition podcast, here is an article in Treehugger on TT-Whitehead planting 60,000 trees which includes their fantastic video that we featured here last month. More…

#Occupied: Reports From the Front Lines…

In Around the web on February 22, 2012 at 5:48 am

WEEKLY ROUNDUP OF OCCUPY MOVEMENT NEWS

Mexico City: #Occupied. Photo: Miguel Angel Guzman

This week in Occupy, there was an outpouring of solidarity for Greece, Ric Santorum got mic-checked in Tacoma and the NYPD continued to rack up lawsuits as a result of its thuggery.

#As Greece faced a second bailout, its citizenry continued to protest the government’s severe austerity measures. Occupiers everywhere took to the streets in solidarity. In Berlin, militants from several groups organized protests in front of the Greek embassy and Occupy Berlin organized protests at the Berlinale International Film Festival.

#Stop-and-frisks performed by the NYPD increased 14 percent in 2011; 87 percent of those stopped were black or Hispanic.

Occupy Tampa

#Anthony Bologna, A.K.A. Tony Baloney, the pepper-spraying New York cop, is being sued by the unarmed women he sprayed during a demonstration in September in an incident that brought Occupy Wall Street to global prominence. More…

Secret Crying Places

In Gene Logsdon Blog - The Contrary Farmer on February 22, 2012 at 5:08 am

From GENE LOGSDON
The Contrary Farmer 

I was up in the haymow throwing hay down to the sheep the morning after our grandson scored the winning points at the buzzer in a high school basketball game. It had been a thrilling moment in our lives, of course, and I was still riding high on the memory. I happened to look over in the corner of the loft and saw lying there in the corner, a basketball, now partially deflated. Nearby the old homemade banking board hung from the wall with cobwebs streaming down from the hoop. Over the last decade, there is no telling how many hours Grandmother and I played there with Evan and his brother, Alex. I joked that I had taught the boys everything they know about the game but the truth was just the opposite. Nevertheless, I couldn’t help wondering if all that dribbling, passing, and shooting might have contributed to Evan’s dramatic drive to the basket with just four seconds left in the game. And yes, as I sat there on a bale, staring at the old deflated basketball, I was crying my eyes out.

My barn has often been the place I go to cry. No one can see me there except the cats. We must never let the young people know about secret crying places. Perhaps oddly, I go there to cry more over happy events than sad ones. I went there to cry when our daughter and then our son grew upMore...and left home as they must do, to start their own families. Now the grandchildren too will leave, nevermore to ripple that old basketball net, and I will go to the barn to weep even as I cheer them on.

I knew I needed a secret crying place when my mother died. We were living the suburban life then, but had managed to turn our big backyard into a kind of secluded garden with a chicken coop at the center of it. More…

Occupy and The Commons…

In Around the web on February 22, 2012 at 5:00 am

From DAVID BOLLIER
Bollier.com

The Occupy movement is beginning to discover the commons, and the result could be a rich and productive collaboration.  This was the lesson that I took from a three-day conference, “Making Worlds:  A Forum on the Commons,” hosted by Occupy Wall Street in Brooklyn this past weekend. Rarely have I seen so many ordinary people from diverse backgrounds embrace the commons idea with such ease and enthusiasm.

There was a certain cosmic appropriateness that this gathering was held in a church meeting hall, the Church of the Ascension in Greenpoint, Brooklyn.  This is the kind of humble, out of the way setting that gave rise to the civil rights movement 50-60 years ago.  Church basements virtually require us to shed our pretensions and credentials, and to get real with each other.  As they say in the Occupy world, this was a “truth event” – an occasion meant to rip a hole in the fabric of mainstream culture and provoke some deep and honest reflection on the truth.

Can the commons paradigm take us to higher ground?  For the 100-plus people who showed up, the forum was an occasion to consider how the commons can open up new vistas in “alternative economies, open source, education, environment, technology, labor, politics, race, gender, sexuality and more.”  In typical Occupy style, the meetings were run in a fairly loose fashion; it was not always clear who was “running” the meeting because many people intervened at various times.

And yet things never got out of hand, and I cannot recall a meeting of this size that was richer, more provocative and constructive. People really listened to each other.  People actively invited everyone to speak out, especially those who were more reticent.  Your professional credentials More…

David Foster Wallace: The Big, Uncut Interview (2003)…

In Around the web on February 21, 2012 at 5:06 am

From OPEN CULTURE

In 2003, an interviewer from German public television station ZDF sat down with novelist David Foster Wallace in a hotel room. The ensuing conversation, whose raw, unedited 84 minutes (find links to the complete interview below) made it to the internet after Wallace’s suicide, remains the most direct, expansive, and disarmingly rough-hewn media treatment of his themes, his personality, and the fascinating (if at times chilling) feedback loop between them. You can also experience this conversation in short, thematically organized clips; above, we have “David Foster Wallace on Political Thinking in America.” Wallace expresses his concerns about the strong influence of television ads on elections, which means, he says,”we get candidates who are beholden to large donors and become, in some ways, corrupt, which disgusts the voters, makes them even less interested in politics, less willing to read and do the work of citizenship.” This he sees coupled with an individualistic marketing culture which stokes “that feeling of having to obey every impulse and gratify every desire” — “a strange kind of slavery.”

But as his pained, self-questioning expression reveals — especially when it retreats into strangely endearing post-answer cringes — Wallace did not believe he possessed the cure for, or even a precisely accurate diagnosis of, a sick society. Offering social criticism at a vast remove from the avuncular condemnation of a Noam Chomsky or the raised middle finger of a Bill Hicks, Wallace discusses his fears through a novelist’s consciousness that longs to, as he explains the desire elsewhere in the interview, “jump over the wall of self and inhabit someone else.” When the interviewer tells him about her peers’ frustration at feeling educated but “not being able to do anything with it,” Wallace puts himself in the mind of students who go from studying “the liberal arts: philosophy, classical stuff, languages, all very much about the nobility More…

I stand with Farmers vs. Monsanto…

In !ACTION CENTER! on February 21, 2012 at 5:04 am

From FOOD DEMOCRACY NOW

On January 31, 2012, 55 farmers and plaintiffs traveled to Manhattan to hear oral arguments regarding Monsanto’s motion to dismiss the lawsuit, Organic Seed Growers and Trade Association (OSGATA) vs. Monsanto.

At the heart of the lawsuit is the threat that family farmers face due to genetic trespass on their fields as a result of Monsanto’s genetically modified (GMO) seed and the aggressive enforcement of the biotech seed and chemical giant’s alleged patent rights.

In court, Federal Judge Naomi Buchwald declared that she would rule on the motion to dismiss the trial or move forward in the next 60 days or by March 31st. If you want to
support America’s family farmers, sign the letter to say, “I Stand with Farmers vs. Monsanto!”

Please take a moment to tell America’s farmers why you support them.

I support America’s farmers in their pursuit of justice and their right to grow food without fear and intimidation. It’s time for family farmers to have their day in court and put an end to this unjust harassment.

Sign here
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Very funny romp through the lives of wanna-be, urbanite, country weekenders who think they’ve got what it takes to “go back to the land.”
~~

Lying Plutocrats, Killing Our Democracy, Pure and Simple…

In Around the web on February 21, 2012 at 4:59 am

From GEORGE MONBIOT
The Guardian

Now it’s a straight fight with the billionaires and corporations

Shocking, fascinating, entirely unsurprising: the leaked documents, if authentic, confirm what we suspected but could not prove. The Heartland Institute, which has helped lead the war against climate science in the United States, is funded among others by tobacco firms, fossil fuel companies and one of the billionaire Koch brothers.

It appears to have followed the script written by a consultant to the Republican party, Frank Luntz, in 2002. “Should the public come to believe that the scientific issues are settled, their views about global warming will change accordingly. Therefore, you need to continue to make the lack of scientific certainty a primary issue in the debate.”

Luntz’s technique was pioneered by the tobacco companies and the creationists: teach the controversy. In other words, insist that the question of whether cigarettes cause lung cancer, natural selection drives evolution or burning fossil fuels causes climate change is still wide open, and that both sides of the “controversy” should be taught in schools and thrashed out in the media.

The leaked documents appear to show that, courtesy of its multi-millionaire donors, the institute has commissioned a global warming curriculum for schools, which teaches that “whether humans are changing the climate is a major scientific controversy” and “whether CO2 is a pollutant is controversial.”

The institute has claimed that it is “a genuinely independent source of research and commentary” and that “we do not take positions in order to appease or avoid losing support from individual donors”. More…

Rosalind Peterson: Mendocino County Billboard Pollution…

In !ACTION CENTER! on February 18, 2012 at 6:53 am

From ROSALIND PETERSON
Agriculture Defense Coalition

It is time for Mendocino County to take stock of the ever-increasing number and size of ugly billboards that are destroying the wonderful views here in Mendocino County.

If tourism is to increase we need to have a decrease in the number and size of unsightly billboards rather than increasing numbers. Thus, the County billboard ordinance, rules, and regulations should be upgraded in order to attract tourism here and also to enhance the beauty of Mendocino County.

Action Items:

  1. All current billboards should be inspected to make sure that the size of the billboards in our county have not been increasing with additions in the last 10 years. Any billboards that have increased in width, height or length should be brought back into compliance by fines levied by the County Planning Department. It appears that extensions on the sides, tops, and width of older billboards have been changed without approval by the Mendocino County Planning Department. (Note the height extension on the billboard in this photograph on U.S. 101.)

Billboard - back side

2. All billboards that have ugly backsides should be removed or upgraded. More…

Gina Covina: Saving squash seeds…

In Around Mendo Island, Gina Covina on February 18, 2012 at 5:21 am

From GINA COVINA
Laughing Frog Farm
Laytonville

We’ve spent the last week in the heady thrill of garden planning. The process used to be an orgy of seed catalog porn, but now we’re in transition to sustainability, so the first step was identifying the crops we want to grow for seed this year. That list included way more than we can grow ourselves, so we brought our favorite candidates to the Laytonville Seed Swap on Sunday and found growers for them from the ranks of the newly evolving Mendocino Seed Growers Co-op. The near future is looking good for local seed.

Here’s one example. Squash divide themselves into three main species (and a couple more minor ones) and within those species they cross-pollinate like crazy. Between species, no. Cucurbita pepo includes most summer squash, as well as acorn, delicata, and many pumpkins. Cucurbita maxima includes a long list of buttercups, Hubbards, turbans, bananas, and more pumpkins. The third, C. moschata, has the butternuts, cheese, trombetta – and yes, more pumpkins. A gardener without near neighbors can grow one variety from each species and confidently save the seeds without having to resort to hand pollination. Our only C. pepo this year will be Dark Star zucchini, the result of Bill Richards’ many years of breeding work on the Eel River flood plain. Delicious, prolific as the hybrid zucchinis, deep-rooted (Richards grows without irrigation), and cold-tolerant beyond the limits of other zukes.

But we also have More…

Transition: When they cut Social Security by 40%…

In Around the web, Mendo Island Transition on February 18, 2012 at 5:06 am

From JOHN ROBB
Resilient Communities

As most of us already know, the Greek government is bankrupt.

So far, it has been forced to cut expenses by 34%.

That means they have already made deep cuts in pension payments, government employee incomes, and government employee headcount.  And they are just getting started.

The Greek economy is in free-fall and likely to set the record for the most severe depression in a modern country so far this Century.

Our collective problem is that the Greek experience will soon seem commonplaces. Almost all of the nations in the West are headed towards a Greek style bankruptcy given current trends. The US deficit alone is running at over a trillion a year with NO end in sight. So, eventual bankruptcy of the US and most of the EU isn’t a question of what is right or just or what could happen in a perfect world.  It’s what is likely to happen.

Given this, the question you should be asking yourself is:  What would happen if the US and the EU cut their budgets as deeply as Greece?  What if there was an across the board budget cut of 40%?

This is an important question since it is almost certain to happen and it will be ugly.  Why?  The number of people that…

  1. currently work for the government,
  2. get a government pension (or military pension),
  3. or get social security/medicare/income support payments

is very large.

So, for planning purposes More…

Occupy The Neighborhood: How Counties Can Use Land Banks and Eminent Domain

In Around the web on February 17, 2012 at 7:20 am

From ELLEN BROWN
The Web of Debt

An electronic database called MERS has created defects in the chain of title to over half the homes in America. Counties have been cheated out of millions of dollars in recording fees, and their title records are in hopeless disarray. Meanwhile, foreclosed and abandoned homes are blighting neighborhoods. Straightening out the records and restoring the homes to occupancy is clearly in the public interest, and the burden is on local government to do it. But how? New legal developments are presenting some innovative alternatives.

John O’Brien is Register of Deeds for Southern Essex County, Massachusetts. He calls his land registry a “crime scene.” A formal forensic audit of the properties for which he is responsible found that:

• Only 16% of the mortgage assignments were valid.
• 27% of the invalid assignments were fraudulent, 35% were “robo-signed,” and 10% violated the Massachusetts Mortgage Fraud Statute.
• The identity of financial institutions that are current owners of the mortgages could be determined for only 287 out of 473 (60%).
• There were 683 missing assignments for the 287 traced mortgages, representing approximately $180,000 in lost recording fees per 1,000 mortgages whose current ownership could be traced.

At the root of the problem is that title has been recorded in the name of a private entity called Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems (MERS). MERS is a mere place holder for the true owners, a faceless, changing pool of investors owning indeterminate portions of sliced and diced, securitized properties. More…

Todd Walton: Shooting Hoops

In Todd Walton on February 17, 2012 at 7:08 am

From TODD WALTON
UnderTheTableBooks.com
Mendocino

She wanted to be buried in a coffin filled with used paperbacks.” Sherman Alexie

I suppose it’s a good thing we don’t have a basketball court at our house or I might never go anywhere, but if someday housing prices around here fall from insane to merely absurd and we manage to buy our own place, and assuming the house is not on a cliff, I’ll put up a backboard and hoop. In my younger days I had a big sign on the refrigerator that said When In Doubt, Shoot Hoops, and doing so saved my sanity a thousand times. Shooting hoops should not be confused with playing basketball, because one can shoot hoops alone and have an experience more akin to walking meditation than that of a full-blown game of basketball.

We recently watched Smoke Signals, a movie based on the short stories of Sherman Alexie, with a screenplay by Alexie, and we loved it. I hadn’t seen the film since it came out in 1998, and I had forgotten how important basketball is to the story, not in terms of plot, but as a metaphor for the game of life. Smoke Signals is definitely not a basketball movie, nor is it really an American Indian movie, though the film is peopled almost entirely with Indians and set on the Coeur d’Alene reservation. But below the skin, this is a tender and universal story about parents and children and sorrow, and how the unresolved past may impinge on the present and trap us in anger and confusion. Smoke Signals might have been set in Poland or Iraq or San Francisco rather than on the Coeur d’Alene Indian Reservation, but that’s where Sherman Alexie came from, so that’s where the movie takes place, with a brief cameo by the inimitable John Trudell as the reservation radio DJ intoning, “It’s a good day to be indigenous.”

More…

Transition: As our civilization declines, it will increasingly be up to households and communities to provide the basics for ourselves…

In !ACTION CENTER!, Around the web on February 17, 2012 at 6:50 am

From RICHARD HEINBERG
Post Carbon Institute

It is this contest between traditional power elites on one hand, and growing masses of disenfranchised poor and formerly middle-class people attempting to provide the necessities of life for themselves in the context of a shrinking economy, that is shaping up to be the fight of the century.

[Mendo Free Skool offers an alternative to traditional education. With classes like Bicycle Repair, Practical Permaculture, Demystifying Anarchism, and D.I.Y. Movie Making, it's a refreshing variety of completely free classes for people of all ages. Run entirely by volunteers, Mendo Free Skool gives the community an opportunity to share their skills and knowledge. Anyone can teach for the Free Skool, so the quarters take on the flavor of whatever people are interested in at the time. “Classes” take place in homes, cafes, and community centers. A quarterly calendar is available online and in print accompanied by the location and description of each course. Spring Quarter runs March 20th - June 20th. Questions, comments and class submissions can be sent to: MendoFreeSkool@gmail.com -Will Parrish]

1. Prologue

As economies contract, a global popular uprising confronts power elites over access to the essentials of human existence. What are the underlying dynamics of the conflict, and how is it likely to play out?

As the world economy crashes against debt and resource limits, more and more countries are responding by attempting to salvage what are actually their most expendable features—corrupt, insolvent banks and bloated militaries More…

Coming to our towns? Austerity policy is destroying Greek Society…

In Around the web on February 16, 2012 at 7:56 am

From DIMITRI LASCARIS
Real News Network

Heart wrenching personal stories show that Greece should reject austerity deal and pull out of Eurozone

The following is a letter from Dimitri’s sister in Greece:

“Friends of ours have died of heart attacks, stressed to the limit by debt, or worse, the loss of their cars and homes”

Dimitri…the decline in our income and therefore in many facets of our lives began in the fall of 2009. In our family carpentry business, we began to go without work intermittently, but for longer and longer stretches as time progressed. Customers who owed us large amounts of money couldn’t pay even 5% of the balance owing on their account. Our customers of course gave priority to the payment of bank loans they had incurred as first-time homeowners or for the expansion of their businesses, or worse, they gave priority to the payment of credit card debts they had incurred in order to maintain the quality of their life, or simply to secure the basic necessities… rent, water, electricity, health insurance and food. Slowly, cash has became more and more scarce for our customers, and therefore for us.

In Greece, the baby boomer generation has placed tremendous emphasis on education. In a very competitive job market, Greek parents sought to equip their children to secure a job as a civil servant. For that purpose, Greek parents commonly employed ‘frontistiria’ (or supplementary education through tutoring) More…

A week in the life of the Occupy movement…

In Around the web on February 16, 2012 at 6:00 am

From The Occupied Wall Street Journal

This week in Occupy, Wisconsin marked a year of activism by marching on the state capitol, efforts are introduced to rein in NYPD abuses toward Occupy protesters, Sarah Palin got mic-checked and attention turned to #F29, the next big action.

#Protesters gathered on Capitol Square for a “Wisconsin Day” anniversary rally marking a year since Republican Governor Scott Walker’s introduction of a bill to eliminate collective bargaining for most public employees.

#On Monday, about 200 demonstrators from Occupy Oakland gathered for a day of action to protest the arrest of 400 people, including journalists, at the #J28 action, during which police employed tear gas and flash grenades. Predictably, police officers confiscated a loudspeaker from Occupy protesters, prompting a march.

#To avenge #J28, the hacktivist collective Anonymous posted the private information of Oakland city officials online, including phone numbers, addresses, email addresses, salary information (top city officials apparently pull down a quarter of a million a year) and property value information. Among those targeted were mayor Jean Quan, police chief Howard Jordan, Oakland city administrator Deanna Santana, city attorney Barbara Jean Parker and a number of city council members. “We are shocked and disgusted by your behavior,” Anonymous wrote. “Before you commit atrocities against innocent people again, think twice.” More…

New Rules for Radicals: 10 Ways To Spark Change in a Occupied World

In Around the web on February 16, 2012 at 5:58 am

From SARA ROBINSON
AlterNet
Poster discovered thanks to Christina Aanestad

The first rule is this: The world is different now. The rules have changed.

Since Occupy, we all understand this. Nothing works now the way it did even just a couple of years ago. Political tactics that haven’t budged public opinion in years — like petitions and big street demonstrations — are suddenly working again. Narratives that seemed unassailable — like the primacy of free markets and low taxes — are being openly questioned. Doors that used to be closed to us are now opening. The media that once ignored us is now starting to listen. The conservatives are shaken and fumbling, stuck on autopilot and unable to re-route away from their old course even as disaster looms dead ahead. What’s going on here?

What’s going on is that we are (finally!) in the first giddy months of a deep-current sea change in American politics, the kind of realignment that happens once every several decades. This change has put us into a whole new political era, one that runs by an entirely new set of rules — and one in which a great many impossible things may, all of a sudden, become possible.

The reasons for this shift are complex and wonky, and are the stuff of other articles. But we all sense it, and we all want to know what it means.

As a Silicon Valley brat-turned-futurist, I’ve spent a lot of my life in a culture that churned constantly with this kind of upending, unending change. More…

Young farmers and the future of farming…

In Around the web on February 15, 2012 at 6:00 am


Paula Manalo, Adam Gaska – Mendocino Organics CSA

From VICKI LIPSKI
Transition Voice

It’s all in a day’s work for family farmers of the 21st century:  Colony Collapse Disorder, dealing with Monsanto’s threats, global warming disasters, the government crackdown on family farms, genetically-engineered crops.

Where once American plowmen had merely to contend with unpredictable weather, infertile soil, inaccessible water supplies, poverty, accidents and disease, today’s food producers face a further cornucopia of sophisticated and bewildering attacks from all sides. That fewer than one percent of Americans want to wrestle a crop from abused soil, while attempting to anticipate how global warming or ailing honeybees may thwart them, should surprise no one.

Nonetheless, Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack is calling for hundreds of thousands of new farmers nationwide.

Assuming a new crop (sorry) of fresh-faced novices can surmount the double whammy of little affordable land and even less capital, what else awaits them, in as uncertain a future as humankind has ever confronted? We’ll consider the “easy” problems first. The 800 pound gorilla – climate change – will just have to wait.

Cole Porter was right: Bees do it – or used to

Back in the early 1990’s, I began subscribing to a beekeeper’s magazine (the title of which I’ve long since forgotten), thinking it could serve as an introduction to my latest enthusiasm. That was a smart move on my part, because the editors More…

Paula Manalo: Seeds galore…

In Around Mendo Island on February 15, 2012 at 5:55 am

From PAULA MANALO
Mendocino Organics CSA

“You want to try a new eggplant variety? Look at this one – it’s marbled”

“We’re not growing that one variety of cucumber that was s**t last year. F**k that.”

“This greenhouse tomato is resistant to all these diseases. And this other variety comes in organic.”

“Oh, good, we still have a lot of that seed from last year so we don’t have to buy any.”

“Well, if we grow two rows of cucumbers and two rows of tomatoes in the greenhouse, let’s do basil in the fifth row.”

That’s what the office conversation is full of when we’re preparing our annual giant seed order. With seed catalogs, lists, calculators, pens, and papers around us, sitting on the floor, we get to envision our fields and future harvests. It’s rather exciting. Some farmers and gardeners compare seed catalogs to porn. Leafing through the pages of colorful produce, herbs and flowers, you can’t help salivate over the contentment of a bountiful harvest in the growing season to come. Agronomic info and variety descriptions only enhance the flavor of this vision.

Our hand-drawn maps may be out of proportion on pieces of scrap paper, but with accurate calculations, feedback from CSA members, and mostly experience, we’re able to figure out what seed we need to buy. We’re a bit anxious because cash flow is almost stagnant this time of year, and we know that popular varieties, particularly organic ones, sometimes sell out quickly. We have to act fast and just get the order in. A late catalog in the mail or “seed crop failure” of a favorite variety can be a source of consternation.

After about a month of pouring over our maps, thinking about how we want to rotate our crops, looking at More…

A country for old men…

In Gene Logsdon Blog - The Contrary Farmer on February 15, 2012 at 5:50 am

From GENE LOGSDON
The Contrary Farmer

Unless you suffer from an overactive bladder as many of us do, you may find this essay a bit on the crude side. But nevermind, you will get there too eventually unless you are lucky. In terms of overactive bladders, there is an advantage to living on a farm that rarely gets mentioned, even though the “fall out” from it is quite significant for society at large. Farms provide owners with a private place far from any bathroom where they can relieve themselves.

You know all the old jokes, even if they aren’t all that funny. How old men develop the habit of checking every building they enter for the location of the bathroom before they do anything else. How the farmer with the round barn had an “accident” as he frantically looked for a secluded corner to pee in.

Until I joined the legion of men with enlarged prostates, I did not appreciate the full meaning of tranquility on the farm. In public, I must keep a furtive eye on the nearest bathroom and make sure I do not move more than a minute or two away from it. If I have to give a speech, I am usually safe beforehand because I am too scared for any bodily function to work no matter what. After the speech, however, if I avoid eye contact and abruptly breeze by you as if I am trying to steal second base, please understand. Even in my office at home, absorbed in writing, I have to make mad dashes for the bathroom. This is another unsung advantage of cell phones. You don’t have to hang up in this situation.

But in the field or garden hoeing, or among the trees sawing and chopping, or in the barn trying to convince my sheep that Lucretius said it all over 2000 years ago, no problem.  Believe me, knowing this adds another dimension to the calming effect that a rural environment can bestow.

But using your farm for a bathroom has social significance too. What if, as in my perfect world, some 50 million Americans (out of 300 million) lived and worked part of the time on their own little farms. Let us say they committed half their bodily waste directly to the soil or to the animal manure bedding in the barn More…

Cooperatives are the biggest secret in the world economy…

In Around the web on February 14, 2012 at 5:40 am

From DAVID BOLLIER
On The Commons

Cooperatives employ more people than multinational companies

There’s more than Olympics and Elections going on in the coming months. 2012 has been named International Year of Cooperatives by the United Nations [6] in recognition of the fact that more than 800 million people around the world belong to one of these economic networks. Coops flourish in all sectors of the economy proving that economic efficiency and equitability can co-exist. They represent a commons-based alternative to both the private market and state controlled enterprises.

Four in ten Canadians are coop members (70 percent in the province of Quebec). In the U.S. 25 percent of the population belongs to at least one coop ranging from credit unions to food coops to major firms like REI and Land O’ Lakes dairy, according to the International Co-Operative Alliance [7] In Belgium, coops account for 20 percent of pharmacies: in Brazil, 37 percent of all agricultural production is from coops; in Singapore, coops account for 55 percent of supermarket purchases: in Bolivia, one credit union handles 25 percent of all savings; in Korea and Japan, 90 percent of farmers belong to coops; in Kenya, coops account for 45 percent of the GDP; in Finland, 34 percent of forestry products, 74 percent of meat and 96 percent of dairy products come from coops.

Around the world, coops provide 100 million jobs, 20 percent more than multinational companies. But what’s most remarkable is how little attention they receive in business coverage or anywhere else.

“We may be moving toward a hybrid system, something different from both traditional capitalism and socialism, without anyone even noticing.”— Gar Alperovitz

While a great many commons seek to develop alternatives to conventional businesses – and even to bypass markets altogether – the struggle to democratize capital should not be lost in the shuffle. Popular ownership of capital More…

The Commons — Short, simple, and sweet…

In Around the web on February 14, 2012 at 5:36 am

From DAVID BOLLIER
On The Commons

The classic commons are small-scale and focused on natural resources

The commons must be understood, then, as a verb as much as a noun. A commons must be animated by bottom-up participation, personal responsibility, transparency and self-policing accountability.

I am always trying to figure out how to explain the idea of the commons to newcomers who find it hard to grasp. In preparation for a talk that I gave at the Caux Forum for Human Security, near Montreux, Switzerland, I came up with a fairly short overview, which I I think it gets to the nub of things.

The commons is….

*A social system for the long-term stewardship of resources that preserves shared values and community identity.

*A self-organized system by which communities manage resources (both depletable and and replenishable) with minimal or no reliance on the Market or State.

The wealth that we inherit or create together and must pass on, undiminished or enhanced, to our children. Our collective wealth includes the gifts of nature, civic infrastructure, cultural works and traditions, and knowledge.

*A sector of the economy (and life!) that generates value in ways that are often taken for granted – and often jeopardized by the Market-State.

There is no master inventory of commons because a commons arises whenever a given community decides it wishes to manage a resource in a collective manner, with special regard for equitable access, use and sustainability.

  • The commons is not a resource.* It is a resource plus a defined community and the protocols, values and norms devised by the community to manage its resources. Many resources urgently need to be managed as commons, such as the atmosphere, oceans, genetic knowledge and biodiversity.
  • More…

Where is Kropotkin when we really need him?…

In Around the web on February 14, 2012 at 5:16 am

From DAVID MORRIS
On The Commons

Kropotkin honored Darwin’s insights about natural selection but believed the governing principle of natural selection was cooperation, not competition. The fittest were those who cooperated.

On February 8, 1921 twenty thousand people, braving temperatures so low that musical instruments froze, marched in a funeral procession in the town of Dimitrov, a suburb of Moscow. They came to pay their respects to a man, Petr Kropotkin, and his philosophy, anarchism.

Some 90 years later few know of Kropotkin. And the word anarchism has been so stripped of substance that it has come to be equated with chaos and nihilism. This is regrettable, for both the man and the philosophy that he did so much to develop have much to teach us in 2012.

I am astonished Hollywood has yet to discover Kropotkin. For his life is the stuff of great movies. Born to privilege he spent his life fighting poverty and injustice. A lifelong revolutionary, he was also a world-renowned geographer and zoologist. Indeed, the intersection of politics and science characterized much of his life.

His struggles against tyranny resulted in years in Russian and French jails. The first time he was imprisoned in Russia an outcry by many of the world’s best-known scholars led to his release. The second time he engineered a spectacular escape and fled the country. At the end of his life, back in his native Russia, he enthusiastically supported the overthrow of the Tsar but equally strongly condemned Lenin’s increasingly authoritarian and violent methods.

In the 1920s Roger N. Baldwin summed up Kropotkin this way.

Kropotkin is referred to More…

OWS: We must reassert our rights to occupy public spaces…

In Around the web on February 13, 2012 at 5:03 am

Tahrir Square in Cairo, where a revolution coalesced

From THOMAS HINTZE and LAURA GOTTESDIENER
The Occupied Wall Street Journal

After the raid on Liberty Plaza, the absence that opened up in the center of our movement was greater than the size of the physical space in that tiny, granite park. For us, space is not a mere necessity—a place to lay our head, to eat our meals, to congregate and assemble—it is also a symbol and a direct action. Literally, vacant lots are voids that we fill with physical representations of our concerns, hopes, fears, and dreams. We invite others to join us and create an infrastructure that liberates minds. We must reassert our rights to occupy public spaces.

Privatization has created a dichotomy of those with and those without, those with being landowners—a fraction of the population. We must partner with communities, artists, educators, not just taking for ourselves, but opening locked gates for all to occupy.

Now that we are rebuilding, some say that it is in our best interest to occupy indoor spaces. Occupying indoor spaces, such as foreclosed houses and abandoned buildings, politicizes individual struggles. It answers the question of how to survive through the winter and how to create a life outside of the spectacle of this revolutionary project. It allows the message of our movement to enter communities through individual voices. But occupying indoor space is fundamentally about reclaiming private space, a shift from our notions of what it is to be public, transparent, inclusive and collective.

Outdoor spaces symbolically oppose Wall Street in a manner that directly threatens its stability, and maintaining our presence in opposition is crucial to enfranchising more supporters moving forward. Indoor spaces are an important compliment to whatever we do, but we must remember that outdoor public spaces embody the heart of this movement. With each space we consider, we must ask whether it gives form to our collective desires. This is our metric. We will not wait for channels of bureaucracy to gift spaces to us. We will liberate them.
~~

Move to Amend Speaker David Cobb in Ukiah Tonight Monday 2/13/12 at the Saturday Afternoon Club 7pm…

In Around Mendo Island on February 13, 2012 at 5:00 am


David Cobb is National Projects Director of Democracy Unlimited. He is a lawyer, political activist, and engaged citizen. He has dedicated his adult life to making the promise of a democratic republic a reality in the United States.

He has sued corporate polluters, lobbied elected officials,  run for political office himself, and has been arrested for non-violent civil disobedience. He truly believes we must use ALL the tools in the toolbox to effect the systemic social change we so desperately need.

His talk tonight: Creating Democracy and Challenging Corporate Rule
~

Proposed Amendment

Section 1 [Corporations are not people and can be regulated]

The rights protected by the Constitution of the United States are the rights of natural persons only.

Artificial entities, such as corporations, limited liability companies, and other entities, established by the laws of any State, the United States, or any foreign state shall have no rights under this Constitution and are subject to regulation by the People, through Federal, State, or local law.

The privileges of artificial entities shall be determined by the People, through Federal, State, or local law, and shall not be construed to be inherent or inalienable.

Section 2 [Money is not speech and can be regulated]

Federal, State and local government shall regulate, limit, or prohibit contributions and expenditures, including a candidate’s own contributions and expenditures, for the purpose of influencing in any way the election of any candidate for public office or any ballot measure.

Federal, State and local government shall require More…

The First Dominoes: Greece, Reality, and Cascading Default…

In Around the web on February 13, 2012 at 4:44 am

From CHARLES HUGH SMITH
oftwominds.com

I asked frequent contributor Zeus Yiamouyiannis to comment on the coming Greek default. Here is his insightful response.

Greece is the epicenter of a drama that threatens to unwind with all the intrigue and subterfuge of ancient Greek myths and tragedies. As with the legend of Icarus, big, and now bigger, transnational banks provoked the gods with their wax-and-feather financial fabrications to create the appearance of soaring wealth. Now that they have flown too close to the sun and their wings have melted, these banks are being brought to earth by the obligations and consequences imposed by their fabrications.

Rather than take responsibility, these banks seek to appease the gods by sacrificing taxpayers. In fact, if one looks closely, these banks aspire to be gods themselves. They clothe themselves in their indispensability and shield themselves from accountability with tales about how many innocent citizens will be hurt if they don’t get their next bailout. It is as if they say, “We are above the law… We are the law.” Mathematics, legal enforcement, restraint, humility all must fall under the sword of their hubris.

In the end, just as with a Greek tragedy or a Yeats poem, this center cannot hold and things fall apart. When one abuses the laws and principles of mathematics and capitalism, claiming to be a faithful servant, consequence and accountability eventually catch up. The breaking point inexorably nears. Citizens are beginning to think, voice, and act: “We can do without the false idols that call themselves banks. In fact, we need them to be dissolved for us to survive and thrive.”

Reality is the revenge of the gods.

Not just about fairness: Everything unwinds

This is not just about fairness anymore; it is about the exposure of central, global illusions that affect everyone, not just banks. For the last three plus decades, debt-fueled “growth” has instilled More…

Whole Foods Fraud: The Myth of So-Called Natural Foods…

In Around the web on February 12, 2012 at 6:33 am

From RONNIE CUMMINS
Organic Consumers Assn

[What's true for the so-called "natural foods" at Whole Foods is also true for our local "Natural Food Stores" and "Natural Food Co-ops" who should have labled GMO products on their shelves years ago and boosted the demand for organic foods. Demand Certified Organic foods and GMO labelling, and get the GMOs out of our treasured local stores... -DS]

On Jan. 31, organic and natural foods giant Whole Foods Market (WFM) once again attacked the Organic Consumers Association, the nation’s leading watchdog on organic standards, as being too “hard-line” for insisting that retailers like WFM stop selling, or at least start labeling, billions of dollars worth of so-called “natural” foods in their stores – foods that are laced with unlabeled, hazardous genetically engineered (GE) ingredients.

WFM’s most recent attack on OCA predictably backfired, throwing gasoline on the fiery debate surrounding my previous essay “The Organic Elite Surrenders to Monsanto.” In that essay, written in January 2011, I criticized WFM and several other well-known organic companies for their foolish (now hopefully repudiated) stance of espousing “co-existence” with the USDA and Monsanto, in exchange for minimal federal regulation of genetically engineered crops.

In subsequent articles OCA has called for an end to “organic infighting” and for the organic industry, farmers, and consumers to join forces and pass laws or state ballot initiatives (like the current campaign in California) that would require mandatory labels on products containing genetically engineered ingredients, as well as to make it illegal to label or market GE-tainted foods as “natural” or “all natural.”

Anger is now running so high against Monsanto and the USDA, as well as anyone appearing to tolerate “co-existence” with either group, that rumors are fast spreading that Monsanto has bought out, or plans to buy out, WFM. That rumor is untrue. However, it has focused attention once again on the critical issue of food labeling. WFM, and all of us in the organic community More…

OWS: A New Declaration…

In Around the web on February 11, 2012 at 6:03 pm

From DERRICK JENSEN
The Occupied Wall Street Journal

We hold these truths to be self-evident:

That the real, physical world is the source of our own lives, and the lives of others. A weakened planet is less capable of supporting life, human or otherwise.

Thus the health of the real world is primary, more important than any social or economic system, because all social or economic systems are dependent upon a living planet.

It is self-evident that to value a social system that harms the planet’s capacity to support life over life itself is to be out of touch with physical reality.

That any way of life based on the use of nonrenewable resources is by definition not sustainable.

That any way of life based on the hyper-exploitation of renewable resources is by definition not sustainable: if, for example, fewer salmon return every year, eventually there will be none. This means that for a way of life to be sustainable, it must not harm native communities: native prairies, native forests, native fisheries, and so on.

That the real world is interdependent, such that harm done to rivers harms those humans and nonhumans whose lives depend on these rivers, harms forests and prairies and wetlands surrounding these rivers, harms the oceans into which these rivers flow. Harm done to mountains harms the rivers flowing through them. Harm done to oceans harms everyone directly or indirectly connected to them.

That you cannot argue with physics. If you burn carbon-based fuels, this carbon will go into the air, and have effects in the real world.

That creating and releasing poisons into the world will poison humans and nonhumans. More…

Transition: 10 Reasons for Financial Optimism (If You Invest Locally)

In Mendo Island Transition on February 11, 2012 at 7:40 am

From MICHAEL SHUMAN
LivingEconomies.org

Even though these are tough times for tens of millions of Americans, there’s reason for hope.  That’s the message of my new book from Chelsea Green, Local Dollars, Local Sense:  How to Shift Your Money from Wall Street to Main Street and Achieve Real Prosperity, which showcases dozens of ways individuals, businesses and communities are reinvesting their money locally and creating new jobs.  To give you a little taste of what’s in the book, let me share my Top 10 Reasons for Optimism.

10.  Wall Street’s Decline – Fortune 500 companies have long enjoyed an unnatural competitive advantage as all of us have unquestioningly forked over some $30 trillion of our retirement funds into their stocks and bonds.  This lemming behavior is now coming to a close. Occupy Wall Street has been so effective that even Newt Gingrich is questioning our fealty to “vulture capitalism.”  My book documents that the long-term historic rate of return for U.S. stocks has been an astonishing 2.6% per year.  Against that record, all kinds of many local investment opportunities seem fabulous!

9.  Main Street’s Rise – Evidence continues to mount that local small businesses are the best job producers in the U.S. economy, at least as profitable as their global competitors, and becoming increasingly competitive (thanks in part to groups like BALLE).  Local investment can pay off, big time, if we can figure out how to create, pool, trade and evaluate local “securities” more efficiently.

8.  The Crowdfunding Revolution – The bad news is that archaic More…

Producers Vs. Moochers, Freeloaders And Losers — The Cruel Pro-Rich Propaganda Of The Right…

In Around the web on February 11, 2012 at 6:15 am

From DAVE JOHNSON
Campaign for America’s Future

“Producers” and “parasites.” Cruel language justifying extreme greed seems to be mainstream now. Even Presidential candidates feel free to disparage 99% of us! In today’s right-wing folklore government by We, the People is an evil thing that takes from “producers” and gives to “moochers,” “freeloaders,” and “losers.” Government and taxes “take money out of the economy.” Decision-making by We, the People is “collectivism” and “mob rule.” And those of us who think the insanely wealthy should pay fair taxes suffer from “envy.”

In today’s discourse wealthy elites receiving $20 million a year in “capital gains” while paying almost no taxes are “producers,” while janitors or nursing home workers, working two jobs and not making enough to pay rent and feed themselves, are “moochers” and “freeloaders.” Right.

This email came in to CAF yesterday, (see also Richard Eskow’s take on it, John Galt Is A Crybaby And So Are You)

I am really curios to know what motivates the mind of a socialist. Why do you think its fair to penalize those of us who produce while rewarding those who do not? If healthcare should be a right then where does it stop?

Could one not use the same argument that everyone has a right to free housing? A free car? Perhaps free air travel? Who will pay for all this?

What happens when the government has exhausted the money acquired from the producers? I have a feeling producers will stop producing More…

Will Parrish: ‘Full Court Press’ Or War On Immigrants?

In Around Mendo Island, Will Parrish on February 10, 2012 at 6:00 am

From WILL PARRISH
Ukiah
TheAVA.com

From behind the glass partition in Yuba County Jail’s basement visiting room, Ramiro Hernandez Farias speaks matter-of-factly about the incredible ordeal to which he has been subjected by both Mexican drug cartel paramilitaries and the Mendocino County branch of the US drug war.

Farias, 28, has never been charged with a crime. Yet, for more than six months, he has been confined within a prison cage in the small, economically depressed town of Marysville, on the northern end of California’s Central Valley. He finally departs on February 14th, only to attend a hearing in San Francisco where an immigration judge will determine if he is allowed to remain in the United States – or whether he must return to his native Mexico. If he’s sent back, he will likely be tortured and killed by one of the country’s most violent drug cartels, La Familia Michoacán.

While reciting the events that have led to his harrowing predicament, Farias’ otherwise calm and measured voice becomes tinged with sadness, perhaps also some resignation, as he discusses the fate of his wife, Flor, and their six-year-old son, Eric.

“I think all the time about my family,” he says through an interpreter. “They’re suffering a lot economically, and also emotionally because of the distance between us.”

Until this past July 21st, the family lived together in a small Ukiah home off of South State St. Flor, a US citizen, attended classes at Mendocino College and looked after the couple’s domestic life, including raising Erik. Ramiro put in long hours as a landscaper and laborer for Saul’s Vineyard Contracting of Ukiah, as well as for Rosewood Vineyards in Redwood Valley More…

Todd Walton: Junior High

In Todd Walton on February 10, 2012 at 5:58 am

From TODD WALTON
Under The Table Books
Mendocino

“Hemingway never grew out of adolescence. His scope and depth stayed shallow because he had no idea what women are for.” Rex Stout

Today I fit several important pieces into the jigsaw puzzle of life, having found the first of those pieces a few days ago while I was at Mendocino K-8 School on Little Lake Road, shooting hoops despite the biting chill in the air and…

Wait. Doesn’t it strike you as remarkable, even astonishing, that in Mendocino of all places, a town known the world over as a seething vortex of artists and poets and potheads, that our K-8 school doesn’t have at least a mildly groovy name? Fantasia Archetype School. Raven Big Tree Learning Center. Earthling Haven Academy. Middle Earth Education Fulcrum. Doppelganger Nine. Fields of Elysium Lyceum. Mind Body Spirit Cognition Node. But I digress.

So…I was shooting hoops despite the biting chill when down the steps from the school to the playground came two people, a shapely young woman with hair of spun gold and a boy some four inches shorter than the young woman, a skinny, dorky boy with drab brown hair wearing a blue Mendocino K-8 School sweatshirt. And though I was a hundred yards away, I knew this boy and woman were courting, that they were the same age, numerically speaking, and that they were headed for the swings where many Mendocino K-8 junior high couples go to swing and flirt and talk about whatever junior high kids talk about these days.

Seeing these two physically mismatched lovebirds, I journeyed back through my memory archives More…

Certified Organic, Open-Pollinated, Heirloom Seeds now available at Half Price or less from Mulligan Books & Seeds…

In Dave Smith, Seeds on February 9, 2012 at 6:30 am

Underground Seed Co.

Certified Organic Seeds-By-Hand

From DAVE SMITH
Ukiah

Here is a comparison of Imported-from-Vermont High Mowing Organic Seeds-By-Packet prices and local California-Grown Underground Organic Seeds-By-Hand prices…



Underground Seed Co. is a project of Mulligan Books & Seeds
~ More…

Why Save Seeds? Here’s the Big Picture view from last week’s Laytonville Garden Club meeting…

In Around Mendo Island, Gina Covina on February 9, 2012 at 6:22 am

From GINA COVINA
Laughing Frog Farm
Laytonville

Agriculture began as a partnership between people and plants. Every plant we know as food was co-created, sometimes over a thousand years of growing seasons, by the equivalent of a backyard gardener in partnership with the plant. Someone started selecting the best teosinte seeds from that wild Mexican grass, planting and nurturing them with special care. By the time Europeans arrived in the New World, indigenous gardeners in partnership with teosinte had created 7,000 distinct varieties of corn, some of them adapted to thrive as far north as New York.

This is plant breeding. As William Tracy (dean of the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences, University of Wisconsin-Madison) pointed out at the Organic Seed Growers Conference in Port Townsend, Washington in late January, plant breeding is not a science but a technology. “Plant breeding is working with plants – the breeder selects, and the plant creates solutions.” It’s a process ideally suited to small ecological farmers and home growers, whose success depends on close observation and careful selection. Every discerning seed saver is a plant breeder, as long as they pay attention to two important conditions: the minimum population necessary to ensure the particular species’ genetic diversity, and sufficient isolation from related species that could cross-pollinate with undesirable results.

Where does our seed come from today? The exponential curve of seed industry consolidation is the same curve shown by wealth consolidation More…

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