Better School Lunches Should Taste Better Too


From GENE LOGSDON

Seems to me that if we want school kids to eat lettuce, broccoli, carrots, peas, green beans, corn, potatoes, tomatoes, whole wheat bread, fruit cocktail etc. etc., we have an obligation to make these foods taste as good as fast food hamburgers and French fries. MacDonald ‘s spent millions of dollars developing its French fry and now we want the kids to eat instead untried sliced, browned potatoes that I’m sorry to say, are not nearly as tasty. Ask any school kid.

Have you eaten a school lunch lately? I don’t want to criticize the cooks at all because they work hard and do the best they can, given the circumstances. About all they have to work with are mass-produced, canned products or “fresh” products from distant places. Commercially canned peas, green beans, or sweet corn taste awful to me and the fresh lettuce out of supermarkets is not very desirable either. Mechanical vegetable harvesters can’t handle peas and corn at their tenderest, most tasty stage and factory-processed food of whatever kind just isn’t as good as home-cooked. Just because bread is brown doesn’t mean it tastes good. Mass production equals mediocre taste and most school lunches are by definition mass-produced. When I ate school lunches with my grandsons on Grandparents’ Days, I noticed that most of the vegetables went right off the plates into the garbage buckets.

It’s good to see some new programs developing like the “National Farm To School” project and other efforts to link up local fresh fruits and vegetables with school lunch programs. An article in the Farm and Dairy magazine of October 11vreports that local food is being served in various counties in West Virginia (and I presume other states) and some cafeterias are actually cooking from scratch instead of heating up from cans. In one project, students planted and picked the beans that were fed to them in the cafeteria for two days. I have doubts that such dedication and pilot programs will continue, because school time occurs mostly when fresh garden produce isn’t available. But West Virginia’s Ag Department has thought of that too, and in some instances high tunnel greenhouses have become part of the effort to deliver local fresh food to schools through the winter.

Accompanying these programs there should be more experienced efforts employed in selecting good tasting vegetables and fruits. Everyone has his or her own taste, but I’m sure that those of us with long gardening experience will agree that most commercial sweet corn is harvested too late or served too stale. Peas are often picked too late, even from gardens where machines aren’t involved. Commercial peaches and tomatoes are picked too green. People complain to me that store-bought potatoes increasingly have an off taste now. I don’t know why, perhaps from being stored too long. Select varieties (Red Norland is my favorite but there are others) direct from the garden or even after four month storage, are so good. Likewise the taste of apples varies widely. I’ll bet a MacDonald hamburger that if children had access to the new Honey Crisp apple, they’d prefer it to candy.

Last Week of the Vegetable CSA 2012…


butternut

From ADAM & PAULA
Mendocino Organics Vegetable CSA

Our Vegetable CSA shareholders enjoy a weekly newsletter sent via email. Here’s a peak at how we ended our veggie CSA season. Be sure to read our “Last Notes” – a farewell until next growing season!

In Your Share this Week – Ukiah

  • Butternut Squash
  • Pie Pumpkin
  • Spaghetti Squash
  • Spinach
  • Red Russian Kale
  • Baby Turnips
  • Broccoli
  • French Shallots

Wine grapes are getting picked. Olives are ready for harvest. Reggae music is drifting through the neighborhood. Fall harvest is an active, energizing time of the year in Mendocino County, and the weather could not be more beautiful. Just in time for this last distribution, we have spinach, broccoli, and some baby roots. The turnip greens are good in soup, like miso soup. If you haven’t tried shallots before, they are a sweet allium great for any cooking.

Butternut is probably the most popular winter squash. They will last for a few weeks in a cool, dry place. You can slice it thinly, coat in olive oil, and bake for a delicious side dish. The other night, we couldn’t finish a butternut squash we baked, so the next day, we cut the remaining half into strips and cooked it in oil, almost like French fries. They were so good!

If you’re looking for a spiced up soup this fall, here is a good one from Every Day with Rachel Ray magazine (November 2012):

Butternut Squash Soup with Red Chile & Mint

Serves 4

Prep 10 min.

Cook 1 hr.

  • 1 butternut squash (about 2 lb.)
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tbsp. thinly sliced fresh basil, plus more for garnish
  • 1 tsp. crumbled dried mint
  • 1 cinnamon stick (3 inches)
  • 2-3 tsp. ground red chile or ancho chile, plus more for garnish
  • 4 cups vegetable stock, chicken stock or water
  • Sliced fresh mint leaves, for garnish
  • t bsp. heavy cream, for garnish

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Halve and seed the squash. Place cut side down on a baking sheet and bake until soft, about 30 minutes. Let cool slightly, then scoop out the flesh and measure out 2 cups.

In a large pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion, 1 tbsp. basil and the dried mint. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is soft, about 5 minutes. Stir in the squash, cinnamon stick, ground chile and 1 tsp. coarse salt. Stir in the stock or water and bring to a boil. Lower the heat to medium-low, cover and simmer, stirring occasionally, 25 minutes. Discard the cinnamon stick. Break up any large squash pieces with a spoon, or pulse in a blender or with an immersion blender to smooth.

Monopoly Is Theft…


From HARPER’S

The antimonopolist history of the world’s most popular board game

[...] The game’s true origins, however, go unmentioned in the official literature. Three decades before Darrow’s patent, in 1903, a Maryland actress named Lizzie Magie created a proto-Monopoly as a tool for teaching the philosophy of Henry George, a nineteenth-century writer who had popularized the notion that no single person could claim to “own” land. In his book Progress and Poverty (1879), George called private land ownership an “erroneous and destructive principle” and argued that land should be held in common, with members of society acting collectively as “the general landlord.”

Magie called her invention The Landlord’s Game, and when it was released in 1906 it looked remarkably similar to what we know today as Monopoly. It featured a continuous track along each side of a square board; the track was divided into blocks, each marked with the name of a property, its purchase price, and its rental value. The game was played with dice and scrip cash, and players moved pawns around the track. It had railroads and public utilities—the Soakum Lighting System, the Slambang Trolley—and a “luxury tax” of $75. It also had Chance cards with quotes attributed to Thomas Jefferson (“The earth belongs in usufruct to the living”), John Ruskin (“It begins to be asked on many sides how the possessors of the land became possessed of it”), and Andrew Carnegie (“The greatest astonishment of my life was the discovery that the man who does the work is not the man who gets rich”). The game’s most expensive properties to buy, and those most remunerative to own, were New York City’s Broadway, Fifth Avenue, and Wall Street. In place of Monopoly’s “Go!” was a box marked “Labor Upon Mother Earth Produces Wages.” The Landlord Game’s chief entertainment was the same as in Monopoly: competitors were to be saddled with debt and ultimately reduced to financial ruin, and only one person, the supermonopolist, would stand tall in the end. The players could, however, vote to do something not officially allowed in Monopoly: cooperate. Under this alternative rule set, they would pay land rent not to a property’s title holder but into a common pot—the rent effectively socialized so that, as Magie later wrote, “Prosperity is achieved.”

For close to thirty years after Magie fashioned her first board on an old piece of pressed wood, The Landlord’s Game was played in various forms and under different names—“Monopoly,” “Finance,” “Auction.” It was especially popular among Quaker communities in Atlantic City and Philadelphia, as well as among economics professors and university students who’d taken an interest in socialism… Complete story here
~~

Transition Town Fujino goes for local energy independence…


From RESILIENCE

Fujino Town in Sagamihara City in Japan’s northwestern Kanagawa Prefecture is a peaceful place with a population of about 10,000 people. Located in a valley and surrounded by abundant nature with mountains and lakes, though it is only one hour away from central Tokyo, it is known as an artists’ haven, promoting and displaying art works around town.

Fujino (officially renamed Midori Ward in 2010) is also home to a Transition Town initiative. As we have explained before on Our World 2.0, the Transition Town Movement is an international network of grassroots groups that form to apply the theory of permaculture to community revitalization. The concept of permaculture, which originated in Australia, is a practical approach to designing a lifestyle that will create sustainable human environments. The word “permaculture” comes from the combination of “permanent” and “agriculture”, later expanded to signify “culture”.

Working to build resilience in the face of climate change and peak oil, the Transition approach can be particularly instructive in demonstrating how to accomplish this shift using bottom-up rather than top-down methods (the top-down approach has been characteristic of most Japanese eco-towns). The Transition Movement promotes action at the local level and encourages communities to draw on their own creativity, building on existing regional resources.

The world’s first Transition Town was initiated in the fall of 2005 by permaculture teacher Rob Hopkins in Totnes, a small town in England. Supporters promoted the movement across England and all over the world. Currently, there are around 450 official Transition Initiatives and another almost 600 communities preparing to become official, according to the Transition Network.

Going local in Fujino

Fujino is one of three fully functioning Transition Movement initiatives in Japan, although over twenty are in the works. Established in the fall of 2008, Transition Fujino (which we’ve featured on Our World a few times in the past) started up by sharing information on the core issues through events like briefings and film presentations.

Then a local currency, the Yorozuya (meaning “general store” in Japanese), was launched and began playing a major role in stimulating local networking. The Yorozuya project started with 15 members in 2009 and has now grown to include 150 households. Those participating can exchange goods and eat at restaurants using the currency. The network also thrives by targeting local needs, such as providing pet care, weeding vegetable gardens, and picking up children. It further serves to connect those in need with those who can give a hand. Following the Great East Japan Earthquake in 2011, the network displayed a great ability to support disaster-affected areas by collecting cash donations, gathering and sorting emergency relief supplies

Barbara Kingsolver Takes On Climate Change…


From MICHAEL SHAPIRO
Press Democrat

Barbara Kingsolver, Wells Fargo Center, 50 Mark West Springs Road, Santa Rosa, presented by Copperfield’s Books, 7 p.m., Thursday Nov. 15, 546-3600 or wellsfargocenterarts.org, copperfieldsbooks.com

Barbara Kingsolver, whose novels’ deep evocation of place has made her a national treasure, almost tossed her first book into the trash.

“I had no way of knowing that it could matter to anyone else. I didn’t dream I could be a writer,” she said in a phone interview this month, in advance of a 10-city tour that brings her to Santa Rosa and Corte Madera on Nov. 15.

Instead of discarding her manuscript of “The Bean Trees,” Kingsolver drove to a mailbox in an Arizona mall and sent it to a publisher.

“I was nine and a half months pregnant. I got out of the car and wobbled over and said, ‘Here you go, goodbye.’ It felt kind of like throwing it in the trash can,” she said. “I was pretty sure the results would be exactly the same.”

Kingsolver’s latest novel, “Flight Behavior”, is due out November 6

Fortunately for Kingsolver and the legions of people who became her fans, “The Bean Trees” was published in 1988 and became a critical and commercial success.

“The Poisonwood Bible,” her 1998 book about a missionary family that goes deep into the Congo, was selected by Oprah’s Book Club and nominated for a Pulitzer Prize.

Raised in rural Kentucky, Kingsolver, 57, studied biology at Indiana’s DePauw University. In 1978 she moved to Tucson, earned a graduate science degree and worked as a science writer at the University of Arizona.

In the 1990s, Kingsolver met and married biology professor Steven Hopp at a college in southwestern Virginia; in 2004, Kingsolver moved there, and two years later the couple had a daughter, Lily.

Her new novel, “Flight Behavior,” takes on the topic of global warming and is set in Appalachia, where Kingsolver grew up and where she again lives. It will be published Nov. 6.

Following are highlights of a phone conversation with Kingsolver:

Q. Can you tell me about the title of your new book?
A. What I love about a good title is that it can function as a key that unlocks every important door in the book. Until I have that title, I’m not happy.

Our Words Are Our Weapons — Against the Destruction of the World by Greed…



From REBECCA SOLNIT
TomDispatch

In ancient China, the arrival of a new dynasty was accompanied by “the rectification of names,” a ceremony in which the sloppiness and erosion of meaning that had taken place under the previous dynasty were cleared up and language and its subjects correlated again. It was like a debt jubilee, only for meaning rather than money.

This was part of what made Barack Obama’s first presidential campaign so electrifying: he seemed like a man who spoke our language and called many if not all things by their true names. Whatever caused that season of clarity, once elected, Obama promptly sank into the stale, muffled, parallel-universe language wielded by most politicians, and has remained there ever since. Meanwhile, the far right has gotten as far as it has by mislabeling just about everything in our world — a phenomenon which went supernova in this year of “legitimate rape,” “the apology tour,” and “job creators.”  Meanwhile, their fantasy version of economics keeps getting more fantastic. (Maybe there should be a rectification of numbers, too.)

Let’s rectify some names ourselves. We often speak as though the source of so many of our problems is complex and even mysterious. I’m not sure it is. You can blame it all on greed: the refusal to do anything about climate change, the attempts by the .01% to destroy our democracy, the constant robbing of the poor, the resultant starving children, the war against most of what is beautiful on this Earth.

Calling lies “lies” and theft “theft” and violence “violence,” loudly, clearly, and consistently, until truth becomes more than a bump in the road, is a powerful aspect of political activism. Much of the work around human rights begins with accurately and aggressively reframing the status quo as an outrage, whether it’s misogyny or racism or poisoning the environment. What protects an outrage are disguises, circumlocutions, and euphemisms — “enhanced interrogation techniques” for torture, “collateral damage” for killing civilians, “the war on terror” for the war against you and me and our Bill of Rights.

Change the language and you’ve begun to change the reality or at least to open the status quo to question. Here is Confucius on the rectification of names:

“If language is not correct, then what is said is not what is meant; if what is said is not what is meant, then what must be done remains undone; if this remains undone, morals and art will deteriorate; if justice goes astray, the people will stand about in helpless confusion. Hence there must be no arbitrariness in what is said. This matters above everything.”

Transition: Rethink the idea of “Jobs”…


From ECONOMIC RESILIENCE

Becoming a jack of all trades and a master of one…

“Jobs” as we know them today — paychecks from large corporate employers — are a very recent phenomenon in human history. Within our new understanding of the future economy, this form of earning a living is not too likely to continue.

Even the idea of “green jobs” is deeply flawed. Many of the “green” jobs are completely dependent upon government funding. Some supposedly “green” jobs are in tech-centric industries, dependent upon oil, overseas manufacturing, and continued supply of trace elements, all of which will be difficult to sustain as we move deeper into the post-peak-everything era. Most “green” industries are built upon the presumption of economic growth, and depend on continued societal affluence to get the fledgling “green” industries off the ground. And many so-called “green” industries merely provide green-cast consumption, perpetuating the five-planets-worth-of-consumption which we have told each other is “normal.”

The role of “employee” of a giant facility controlled by corporate executives is part of the fading past. If we are to achieve The Great Redistribution, there will be a redistribution of ownership. As we Relocalize and powerdown, making a living is much more likely to be in the role of “proprietor,” rather than employee.

Income sources in the future are less likely to look like paychecks and far more likely to look like local businesses, home businesses, or barter businesses. These small businesses are likely to be providing some of the basic, core services that local community members need, such as food, water, basic shelter, basic clothing, low-input forms of health care, and human services such as psychological and spiritual help in coping with this vastly altered course of events. (more on this at Practical Tool #4) All those Reskilling classes we create within the Transition movement begin to look very different!

Remember that in the not-so-distant past, people thought not in terms of “jobs” but in terms of “trades.” A young boy was sent out to apprentice and learn a craft or a trade. Yes, some people did have jobs, but they were nothing like the massive oil-supported corporate structure we see today. People farmed food, people crafted everyday necessary tools, people made clothing, people nursed each other, all done locally. In a post-petroleum world, the globalized corporate structure is doomed. We will be left with a lot more community-level sufficiency. In our March 2009 economics session in Los Angeles, when we asked the audience the types of businesses we would need for greater resilience here in L.A., the list was extensive and inspiring.

Thus more likely possibilities for future livelihoods include small businesses in resilience-building industries, or working for a local businessman within a resilience-building industry. This becomes important not only for “how will I pay the rent” but also when we consider the messages we give our children

Todd Walton: Zero Population Growth


From TODD WALTON
Under The Table
Mendocino

“The chief cause for the impending collapse of the world—the cause sufficient in and by itself—is the enormous growth of the human population: the human flood. The worst enemy of life is too much life: the excess of human life.” Pentti Linkola

Decades ago I joined an organization called Zero Population Growth, a group founded by Paul Ehrlich dedicated to educating people and elected officials about the dire need to take political and educational action to combat overpopulation in America and around the world. I liked the name of the organization because it said clearly what we wanted to do: intentionally reduce the human birth rate so human population would begin to decline and the earth might be saved. However, some years ago during a time when Republicans controlled both Congress and the White House, funding grew scarce for organizations espousing such radical ideas as limiting population growth, and in order to survive, Zero Population Growth changed its name to Population Connection.

Did the name change help? Apparently so, because the organization lives on and continues to do valuable work. The Reporter, the magazine of Population Connection, dedicates one issue per year to an extensive Congressional Report Card wherein the battle lines are clearly drawn and readers are shown a Congress very much under the sway of ignorant morons who routinely vote against any legislation to fund or enhance family planning or birth control both here and abroad. Ignorant morons doesn’t quite do these particular hominids justice. Evil malicious poopheads would be more accurate; and it is both fascinating and sad to see that the vast majority of these EMP’s are from the South and Midwest; which is not to say that the South and Midwest are hotbeds of ignorance and misogyny and the rest of the country is enlightened, but to suggest that the South and Midwest are hotbeds of ignorance and misogyny.

Say what I will about there being little difference

ZPG: We Still Exist. Here’s What We’re About…


From JOHN SEAGER
Population Connection 

Last Friday, Slate.com reporter Emily Bazelon wrote a post about a confusing quote made by Ruth Bader Ginsburg three years ago. Bazelon might have cleared up what Bader Ginsburg said, but it certainly didn’t do anything to clear up Population Connection’s position on population growth, women’s rights and social justice! President John Seager straightens things out here:

It was nice to see Slate clear up some misunderstandings about Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s views on abortion and feminism (Talking to Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Oct. 19). Unfortunately, the explanation might have engendered some new misunderstandings – about our organization.

First of all, Zero Population Growth didn’t disappear with the VW buses and Birkenstocks. We still exist – both as a nonprofit organization and a movement. We’re now called Population Connection, and the movement is centered on expanding human rights – making sure every person who wants it has access to voluntary family planning, fighting for social justice and protecting the planet we all depend upon. We are a pro-choice organization not out of some drive to reduce “certain populations,” but because we support women’s rights. Period.

However, two things have changed since the heyday of interest in population growth. Number one: The world’s population has nearly doubled. Number two: Nobody wants to talk about it. Any suggestion that the planet has limits tends to brand one as some sort of eugenicist, as Jonah Goldberg so ably demonstrated.

Currently, our Earth’s population stands at more than 7 billion. Count noses in 1974, and there were 4 billion of us. The United Nations projects that by 2050, we could have anywhere from 8.1 billion (if contraception access is expanded) to 10.6 billion.

Perhaps that eye-popping number wouldn’t be an issue if it weren’t for several inconvenient truths. One is that growth in agriculture yields is not keeping pace with population growth – meaning a lot more hungry people in the future. Another is that clean water

Dave Smith: Still the Best Damn Pizza in the Universe Bar None… (Update)


From DAVE SMITH
Ukiah
Repost

When I make pizza at home, I always, always, pile way too much and way too many different ingredients on. I guess because it seems to be the American way of living large or something. Or maybe it’s because of all the choices available at Round Table and you fall into a pattern of having tons on top.

Here in Ukiah we have several good choices when we’re hankerin’ for something cheezy and greezy. There are home town favorite Marino’s and the ever-present Round Table. There are the (ugh) cheapo national chains. Schat’s offers tempting varieties sitting there amongst the croissants and sticky buns. And only recently the new owners of the Brewpub installed a pizza oven, hired away one of the Round Table managers, and offer pretty good selections which I assume are all organic. [And, just open, a new pizza restaurant on Standley.]

And then there are Greg’s pizzas at Mama’s downtown (formerly Local Flavor, and before that the Garden Bakery). Greg Shimshak says he learned pizza-making “from mama” and then honed his skills while learning and working at Alice Water’s legendary Chez Panisse in Berkeley. While there, he worked with our beloved Jacquie Lee who eventually migrated to Ukiah and opened the Garden Bakery, then retired and rented the building to Greg and Heidi. And that is why we have great, great pizzas available here in Ukiah.

I’m no sniffin’ hoity toity… my taste buds are very peasanty. Why Greg’s pizzas are incomparable is the difference between piling on the goop and the subtlety of blending just the right amount (not too much) of just the right combination of ingredients for the tastious flavors: field mushrooms, caramelized onions, goat cheese, fresh herbs; wilted kale, chorizo, onion, fontina; wilted spinach, basil pesto, onion, tomato sauce, goat cheese. And the thin crust? OMG!

Transition Streets: A powerful tool for getting beyond the converted…


From ROB HOPKINS
Transition Culture

I have written several times here about ‘Transition Streets’, the street-by-street behaviour change model created by Transition Town Totnes which was the winner of the 2011 Ashden Award for behaviour change.  There is a good evidence base now, showing how it enables a Transition (or other) group to reach the parts that other community engagement projects may not, becoming ‘green by accident’ by having a good time.  It is an approach to change which is self-propelling with tea.  It embodies the Transition commitment to self-organisation, the groups managing themselves and determining themselves once the project has been set running.  Here is a short video about it.

What I am delighted to announce today is that now Transition Streets (also known as ‘Streets-Wise’) is available for any group to run, anywhere.

So, award-winning community engagement project Transition Streets has done the legwork to create a tried-and-tested way to break down the barriers and bring people together to take action on energy – and a new Streets-wise programme is now available for community groups to adapt the project to their own area.

Transition Streets from Transition Town Totnes (TTT) has inspired over 550 households – who may not identify themselves as environmentalists – to make changes in their lives to help the environment (80% Totnes compared to 51% nationally, DECC LCCC baseline research, 2011). It has also increased TTT’s influence on local development.

Why Even President Obama Won’t Champion Social Security…



From DEAN BAKER
The Guardian

Although millions of middle-class Americans strongly support social security, big bucks campaign donors hate it. That’s why…

It is remarkable that social security hasn’t been a more prominent issue in the presidential race. After all, Governor Romney has proposed a plan that would imply cuts of more than 40% for middle-class workers just entering the labor force. Since social security is hugely popular across the political spectrum, it would seem that President Obama could gain an enormous advantage by clearly proclaiming his support for the program. After stock market shocks and housing bubble, social security has become an even more vital source of retirement income.

But President Obama has consistently refused to rise to the defense of social security. In fact, in the first debate, he explicitly took the issue off the table, telling the American people that there is not much difference between his position on social security and Romney’s.

On its face, this is difficult to understand. In addition to being good politics, there are also solid policy grounds for defending social security. The social security system is perhaps the greatest success story of any program in US history. By providing a core retirement income, it has lifted tens of millions of retirees and their families out of poverty. It also provides disability insurance to almost the entire workforce. The amount of fraud in the system is minimal, and the administrative costs are less than one 20th as large as the costs of private-sector insurers.

In addition, the program is more necessary now than ever. The economic mismanagement of the last two decades has left the baby boomers ill-prepared for retirement – few have traditional pensions. The stock market crashes of the last 15 years have left 401(k)s depleted

Prop 37: Monsanto’s Lies and the GMO Labeling Battle…


From JOHN ROBBINS
Beyond Chron

You may have never heard of Henry I. Miller, but right now he is attempting to determine the future of food in this country. And he has enormous financial backing.

Mr. Miller is the primary face and voice of the “No on Prop 37” campaign in California. At this very moment, Monsanto and other pesticide companies are spending more than $1 million a day to convince California voters that it’s not in their best interest to know whether the food they eat is genetically engineered. And Henry I. Miller is their guy.

If you live in California today, he’s hard to miss. You see him in TV ads, hear him in radio spots, and his face is all over the expensive fliers that keep showing up uninvited in your mail box. Initially, the ads presented Miller as a Stanford doctor. But he isn’t. He’s a research fellow at a conservative think tank (the Hoover Institute) that has offices on the Stanford campus. When this deceptive tactic came to light, the ads were pulled and then redone. But they still feature Miller trying to convince the public that Prop 37 “makes no sense,” and that it’s a “food-labeling scheme written by trial lawyers who hope for a windfall if it becomes law.”

Actually, Prop 37 makes all the sense in the world if you want to know what’s in the food you eat. It was written by public health advocates, and provides no economic incentives for filing lawsuits.

Who, then, is Henry I. Miller, and why should we believe him when he tells us that genetically engineered foods are perfectly safe?

Does it matter that this same Henry Miller is an ardent proponent of DDT and other toxic pesticides? Does it matter that the “No on Prop 37” ads are primarily funded by pesticide companies, the very same companies that told us DDT and Agent Orange were safe?

I find it hard to avoid the impression that Henry Miller is a premier corporate flack.

John Ikerd: The industrialization of agriculture has been an absolute failure… I believe in the future of sustainable farming…


From JOHN IKERD [2]
Professor Emeritus of Agricultural & Applied Economics
University of Missouri Columbia
College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources

I believe that to live and work on a good farm is pleasant as well as challenging; for I know the joys and discomforts of farm life and hold an inborn fondness for those associations, which even in the hours of discouragement, I cannot deny. (An excerpt from the creed of the Future Farmers of America)

During my high school years, I was a member of the Future Farmers of America or FFA. Since then name has been changed to simply FFA – agribusiness has replaced farming as the focus of the once-popular organization.  During my times, the FFA Creed began with the words: I believe in the future of farming with a faith born not of words but of deeds.  I believed those words then, and I believe them even more today. However, I do not believe there is any future in the kind of farming or agribusiness the FFA is promoting today.  I believe we are living through the end of an era in America and the rest of the so-called developed world, including the end of agribusiness and the rebirth of real farming in America.

When I finished high school, there was only room for one family on our farm, and my younger brother never wanted to do anything other than farm. So I left the farming to him and choose a career where I could at least work with farmers if not be a farmer. However, if I were a young man today, I would find some way to become a farmer. The opportunities are far greater now than when I was young. For example, it doesn’t take as much land or money today to start a successful small farm. More important, we are in the midst of a great transition that eventually will transform virtually every aspect of American life. This great transition

From Master Plan to No Plan: The Slow Death of Public Higher Education…


Photo taken at UC Berkeley in February, by jankyHellface

From AARON BADY and MIKE KONCZAL
Dissent

The California student movement has a slogan that goes, “Behind every fee hike, a line of riot cops.” And no one embodies that connection more than the Ronald Reagan of the 1960s. Elected governor of California in 1966 after running a scorched-earth campaign against the University of California, Reagan vowed to “clean up that mess in Berkeley,” warned audiences of “sexual orgies so vile that I cannot describe them to you,” complained that outside agitators were bringing left-wing subversion into the university, and railed against spoiled children of privilege skipping their classes to go to protests. He also ran on an anti-tax platform and promised to put the state’s finances in order by “throw[ing] the bums off welfare.” But it was the University of California at Berkeley that provided the most useful political foil, crystallizing all of his ideological themes into a single figure for disorder, a subversive menace of sexual, social, generational, and even communist deviance.

When Reagan assumed office, he immediately set about doing exactly what he had promised. He cut state funding for higher education, laid the foundations for a shift to a tuition-based funding model, and called in the National Guard to crush student protest, which it did with unprecedented severity. But he was only able to do this because he had already successfully shifted the political debate over the meaning and purpose of public higher education in America. The first “bums” he threw off welfare were California university students. Instead of seeing the education of the state’s youth as a patriotic duty and a vital weapon in the Cold War, he cast universities as a problem in and of themselves—both an expensive welfare program and dangerously close to socialism. He even argued for the importance of tuition-based funding by suggesting that if students had to pay, they’d value their education too much to protest.

It’s important to remember this chapter in California history because it may, in retrospect, have signaled

Russell Means on Matriarchy: If you don’t know how to nurture, then you’re going to be afraid…


 

See also Comments on Patriarchy vis-à-vis Matriarchy
and…
Matriarchy is the Answer to a World in Crisis
~~

Rigging Election for Romney…


From MICHAEL COLLINS
OpEdNews
Thanks to Herb Ruhs

 A group of independent researchers caught a pattern of apparent vote flipping during the 2012 Republican primaries that consistently favored Mitt Romney. A form of election fraud, vote flipping occurs when votes are changed from one candidate to another or several others during electronic voting and vote tabulation.

Vote flipping is difficult to detect because the vote totals remain the same for each precinct. In one of several possible scenarios, an instruction is given to a precinct level voting machine or to a county-level central tabulator. The corrupted totals from precincts are sent from county election officials to state elections board and published as final results. (Primary documents for this article: Republican Primary Election 2012 Results: Amazing Statistical Anomalies, August 13, 2012 and 2008/2012 Election Anomalies, Results, Analysis and Concerns, September 2012).

The group’s analysis is based on raw data from primary sources, local precincts, and state and county election records. The pattern of vote flipping raises serious doubts about the Romney victories in the 2012 Republican primaries in Wisconsin and the Ohio. Apparent vote flipping was demonstrated in the group’s paper for at least nine other 2012 Republican primaries as well.

The findings showed a consistent pattern of increasing votes and vote percentages for Romney in the precinct vote tally. The pattern emerges when precinct vote tallies are presented by candidate based on the size of a county precinct.

Wisconsin, for example, is represented in the graph above. Moving from the smallest to largest precincts, you can see Romney’s percent of the vote takes off and those of the others drop after about 7% of the votes are counted. Romney’s percentage of precinct votes goes up (the upward slope of the green line) while those of the three other candidates decline.

How the rich and greedy stole the American dream all for themselves…


From DAN FROOMKIN

Who stole the American Dream? The short answer to the question in the title of Hedrick Smith’s new book is: The U.S. Chamber of Commerce and Wal-Mart.

But the longer answer is one heck of a story, told by one of the great journalists of our time.

In his sweeping, authoritative examination of the last four decades of the American economic experience, Smith describes the long, relentless decline of the middle class — a decline that was not by accident, but by design.

He dates it back to a private memo — in effect, a political call to arms — issued to the nation’s business leaders in 1971 by Lewis F. Powell, Jr., a corporate attorney soon to become a Supreme Court justice. From that point forward, Smith writes, corporate America threw off any sense of restraint or social obligation and instead unstintingly leveraged its money and political power to pursue its own interests.

The result was nothing less than a shift in gravity. Starting in the early 1970s, every major economic trend — increased productivity, globalization, tax law overhauls, and the phasing out of pensions in favor of 401(k)s — produced the same result: The benefits fell upward.

Smith, a 1970 Nieman Fellow, is at his very best as he examines, one by one, the key economic shifts of the last 40 years and shows that in each case the money flowed to the very richest Americans, particularly those on Wall Street, while impoverishing the middle class.

Nowhere was that more blatantly the case than in the housing sector. We are all well aware of how the bursting of the housing bubble has left many middle-class Americans without the nest egg they were counting on for their retirement.

Narcissistic Consumerism and Self-Destruction…


From CHARLES HUGH SMITH
of tw0 minds

The Cultural Contradictions of Capitalism now include narcissistic consumerism and definancialization…

Today I’m going to tie together the major themes I have been discussing in the context of Japan being the bellwether of economic stagnation and social recession.The basic idea is that Japan offers a limited but still insightful experiment in what happens to advanced consumer-driven economies as definancialization hollows out the economy.What happens is that economic malaise leads to profound social recession that affects society, workplaces, families, individuals that then feeds back into the economic stagnation.

Definancialization is the process in which excessive speculation, debt, leverage reverse, crushing the economy with malinvestment and legacy debt while the crony-capitalist Central State attempts to stem the resulting deflation with massive, sustained Keynesian stimulus (fiscal deficits).

What we’re seeing in Japan is the confluence of three dynamics: definancialization, the demise of growth-positive demographics and the devolution of the consumerist model of endless “demand” and “growth.”

Japan is the leading-edge of the crumbling model of advanced neoliberal capitalism: that consumerist excess creates wealth, prosperity and happiness.

What consumerist excess actually creates is alienation, social atomization, narcissism, and a profound contradiction at the heart of the consumerist-dependent model of “growth”: the narcissism that powers consumerist lust and identity is at odds with the demands of the workplace that generates the income needed to consume.

One theme that weaves together this week’s essays on Japan is the cultural/economic shift that is eroding the traditional Japanese corporate workplace.

McGovern Never Sold His Soul…


From CHRIS HEDGES

In the summer of 1972, when I was 15, I persuaded my parents to let me ride my bike down to the local George McGovern headquarters every morning to work on his campaign. McGovern, who died early Sunday morning in South Dakota at the age of 90, embodied the core values I had been taught to cherish. My father, a World War II veteran like McGovern, had taken my younger sister and me to protests in support of the civil rights movement and against the Vietnam War. He taught us to stand up for human decency and honesty, no matter the cost. He told us that the definitions of business and politics, the categories of winners and losers, of the powerful and the powerless, of the rich and the poor, are meaningless if the price for admission requires that you sell your soul. And he told us something that the whole country, many years later, now knows: that George McGovern was a good man.

McGovern, even before he ran for president, held heroic stature for us. In 1970 he attached to a military procurement bill the McGovern-Hatfield Amendment, which would have required, through a cutoff of funding, a withdrawal of all American forces from Indochina. The amendment did not pass, although the majority of Americans supported it. McGovern denounced on the Senate floor the politicians who, by refusing to support the amendment, prolonged the war. We instantly understood the words he spoke. They were the words of a preacher.

“Every senator in this chamber is partly responsible for sending 50,000 young Americans to an early grave,” he said. “This chamber reeks of blood. Every senator here is partly responsible for that human wreckage at Walter Reed and Bethesda Naval [hospitals] and all across our land—young men without legs, or arms, or genitals, or faces or hopes. There are not very many

William Edelen: The American Indian


From WILLIAM EDELEN
Special to The Desert Sun

As one who has studied the Plains Indians at the Graduate level at the University of Colorado, and as one who is ordained in the United Church of Christ (Congregational) the farce of Friday nights “debate” combined with the ignorance of one of the participants sent my blood pressure to a new level.

The bigotry and obscenities inflicted upon the American Indians by Christian missionaries constitute one of the most repugnant periods of American history.  But among the more enlightened elements of the Christian church there have been signs of maturing spirituality. I refer to the recent requests for forgiveness to the Native American people. The warm and touching apology from Protestant and Roman Catholic leaders of the Pacific Northwest reads as follows:

“Dear Brothers and Sisters: This is a formal apology on behalf of our churches for the destruction of Native American spiritual practices. Your spiritual power can be a great gift to us. We ask for  your forgiveness and blessing.”

This was signed by the senior Bishops, or Executives, of the Roman Catholic, Baptist, Lutheran, Methodist, Presbyterian, Episcopal and Congregational churches.

The United Church of Christ (Congregational), the church of my ordination issued another apology of their own:

“We bear a heavy burden of responsibility for the ongoing injustice and religious imperialism that have been so disruptive of the spiritual values of Indian life and culture. The effect of the Christian missionary legacy, and the Christian influence has been the disparagement and undermining of the Indian culture and a spiritual impoverishment. The missionaries were blinded by a religious ethnocentrism. The depth of this tragedy is now being realized. We take full responsibility for our part in the ongoing atrocity, and we express to you, our brothers and sisters, a deeply felt sorrow and penitent spirit.”

Will Parrish: The Struggles Of Local Sacred Sites…


From WILL PARRISH
Ukiah
TheAVA

It was 520 years ago this week that a lost Italian seaman flying the Spanish flag washed ashore on the Bahama Islands, three-quarters of a world away from where he thought he was, and became known as one of history’s greatest navigators. When Christopher Columbus and the other crewmembers of the Pinta, Nina, and Santa Maria arrived in the Western Hemisphere, roughly 100 million people lived here, dwelling on landbases from the tip of Alaska to the tip of South America. Their cultures were as staggeringly diverse as the lands they inhabited.

Thanks in no small part to Columbus, that diversity — and the tens of millions of people whose individual lives embodied it — were devoured in the centuries that followed by the insatiable maw of European capitalism, which ate Indian flesh to feed its global expansion.

According to the conservative estimates of Spanish surveys, an estimated eight million people lived in the places where the Colombus’ crews feverishly sought new sources of gold, silks, and slaves: the Caribbean Islands and the eastern shores of parts of mainland South America. During Columbus’ tenure as “viceroy and governor” of the region from 1493 until 1500, he instituted policies of slavery (encomienda) and the systematic murder and rape of the Taino population. Dominican priest Bartolome de Las Casas was the first European historian in the Americas. In a 1496 survey, he estimated that over five million people had been exterminated within the first three years of the Columbus’ rule.

In addition to inflicting a nearly unfathomable scale of death on indigenous peoples, Columbus was perhaps the premier slave trader of his time. Before he sailed the Atlantic, he was a slave trader for the Portuguese, transporting West African people to Portugal to be sold as slaves.

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