Millions Join Largest European Strike Ever…


From ZCommunications
Thanks to Todd Walton

Europe’s Mediterranean rim trembled on Wednesday as violent clashes broke out following the largest coordinated multinational strike in Europe ever. In the hope to stave off decades of austerity, precarity and unemployment, European labor unions united for the first time since the start of the European debt crisis to organize strikes and protests in a total of 23 EU member states, with millions of workers walking off their jobs and marching on parliament buildings across the continent. Bloody street battles ensued across Spain, Portugal and Italy.

In Italy, over 300,000 protested in over 100 cities as workers observed a 4-hour stoppage in solidarity with Greek, Spanish and Portuguese workers. In Milan and Rome, scenes of street “guerriglia” were witnessed as thousands of students clashed with riot police, bringing traffic to a standstill and leading to dozens of injuries. In Sardinia, industry minister Corrado Passera and Fabrizio Barca, minister of territorial cohesion, had to be evacuated by helicopter after angry protesters besieged a meeting and started burning cars all around them.

In Naples and Brescia, thousands of students occupied railway tracks; in Genoa, the entrance to the ferry port was blocked; in Florence, Venice, Trieste and Palermo, banks were smeared with eggs and banners unfurled from monuments; in Padua clashes broke out between students and police; in Bologna 10.000 students took to the streets and attempted to march straight through a line of riot police; and in Pisa protesters occupied the leaning tower, unfurling a banner that read “Rise Up! We are not paying for your Euro crisis!”

Meanwhile, France witnessed protests and strikes in over 100 cities

Romney Lost More Than An Election…


Mitt Romney at Bain Capital in 1993

From GARRY WILLS
NYR

What happens to those who lose a presidential campaign? Some can do it with heads rightly held high, and go on to give valuable service to the nation. We were reminded of this just two weeks before the recent election, when George McGovern died. Though he underwent a humiliating defeat by Richard Nixon forty years before, he was a man of integrity, some of whose ideas were continued by people who worked in his 1972 campaign, like Bill and Hillary Clinton, veterans of his Texas office that year. McGovern was re-elected to the Senate after his presidential loss, where he performed important services, like defying the cattle, egg, and sugar lobbies to set up national dietary standards. This was a long-time commitment of his. Even before he went into the Senate, he had served as President Kennedy’s point man in the Food for Peace Program. In 1998, President Clinton appointed him his ambassador to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization, where he worked effectively to curb world hunger. Above all, though he was a heroic flyer in World War II, he was a principled opponent of useless militarism.

What public service do we expect from Mitt Romney? He will no doubt return to augmenting his vast and hidden wealth

Robert Ingersoll


From WILLIAM EDELEN
The Contrary Minister

What is surprising is that Robert Ingersoll is so little known in our time. He lived from 1833 to 1899 and was internationally known as the “great Agnostic,” one of the most brilliant thinkers, lawyers, orators, debaters and authors of his day, or any day. Twelve volumes of his works are still available and are a collector’s treasure. He lectured all over the United States and abroad to standing-room-only audiences.

He spoke on many subjects, but thousands upon thousands turned out to hear him demolish the absurdities of orthodox religious dogmas. He found them repugnant due to the damage they did to the human mind and spirit. He and Thomas Jefferson shared similar views regarding organized religion. And yet, on a deep and profound level he had a sense of the mystery that was breathtaking.

I can tell you that without exception his funeral eulogies are the most beautiful that I have read in the English language. The poet laureate of the universe, Walt Whitman, said that only one man could speak at his funeral, and that man was Robert Ingersoll.

Carl Sandburg said of Ingersoll’s eulogy of Whitman, “It was a most precious treasure.”

Occupy: Big Problems, Little Solutions…


Queens, United States. 11th November 2012 -- Volunteers from Greenpeace and Occupy Sandy movement gather in front of a community center that will be used for a permanent relief center. -- After nearly two weeks, with power companies working around the clock the Rockaways, in Queens, New York, remain blanketed in darkness. Occupy Sandy has organized relief efforts since the immediate aftermath of the storm, providing food and water.

From PAUL FREY
NYMagazine

This is the idea of Rolling Jubilee: Raise funds online; buy up consumer debt for pennies on the dollar; cancel it; set those in bondage free. So far the Occupy Wall Street offshoot has raised $200,000 to forgive $4 million. Strangers giving money to strangers to help other strangers: an inversion of the financial order, a genuine kindness, a great prank, and not incidentally a way to highlight how simultaneously abstracted and connected the world has become.

I know a guy named Dan Phiffer, who is helping the Rolling Jubilee people with their web server. When we talked Monday night, he was worried that as the news got out, the site would crash. He and I ran down the technologies in use. There were weaknesses and vulnerabilities, precarious linkages to outside services. If a throng arrived, RollingJubilee.org might get swamped under the load. Then money couldn’t come in (bad) and the message wouldn’t go out (worse).

Scaling is everything. A site that works perfectly for a hundred people fails catastrophically with a hundred thousand. If you expect traffic you can’t just hope for the best. There are dials to turn, files to configure, variables to tweak. For big companies like Twitter, Facebook, and Google, a huge portion of their annual effort is in scaling—ferreting out

Reading on a kindle is not the same as reading a book…


20121116-164056.jpgDante and Virgil in Hell

From ANDREW PIPER
Slate

Amid the seemingly endless debates today about the future of reading, there remains one salient, yet often overlooked fact: Reading isn’t only a matter of our brains; it’s something that we do with our bodies. Reading is an integral part of our lived experience, our sense of being in the world, even if at times this can mean feeling intensely apart from it. How we hold our reading materials, how we look at them, navigate them, take notes on them, share them, play with them, even where we read them—these are the categories that have mattered most to us as readers throughout the long and varied history of reading. They will no doubt continue to do so into the future.

Understanding reading at this most elementary level—at the level of person, habit, and gesture—will be essential as we continue to make choices about the kind of reading we care about and the kind of technologies that will best embody those values. To think about the future of reading means, then, to think about the long history of how touch has shaped reading and, by extension, our sense of ourselves while we read.

***

The significance of the tactility of reading could begin with St. Augustine.

Todd Walton: Nature Bats Last


From TODD WALTON
Under The Table
Mendocino

“Deer have been around for five million years and must know what they’re doing.” Elizabeth Marshall Thomas

Our new home turns out to be a deer park, the resident deer so numerous and hungry that only rhododendrons and redwoods and ferns and huckleberries (the bushes not the berries) and a few other large trees can hope to survive the ravenous hordes. A crumbling wooden fence surrounds our property, and here and there remnant strands of barbed wire speak of a time when the previous owners may have experienced a modicum of deer-free living. I am a vegetable and herb gardener and hope to have a large garden growing soon, as well as berries and fruit trees and flowers, with a few raised beds off the deck outside the kitchen, none of which I can have until we transmogrify the deer situation.

To that end we have engaged the services of a deer fence installer, and at the moment he arrived last week to give us a bid, there were not four or five deer, but seventeen of those hungry animals browsing the shrubs and lower branches of trees and vacuuming up the golden leaves fallen from a very tall plum tree and devouring lilies and daisies, and shitting profusely everywhere around our house. And the deer fence guy, scanning the assembly of does and bucks and fast-growing fawns, quipped, “I see the problem.”

You Can’t Say That!



From RICHARD HEINBERG
Post Carbon Institute

In his November 14 press conference President Obama made a few brief comments about global warming:

“There’s no doubt that for us to take on climate change in a serious way would involve making some tough political choices and understandably, you know, I think right now the American people have been so focused and will continue to be focused on our economy and jobs and growth that if the message somehow is that we’re going to ignore jobs and growth simply to address climate change, I don’t think anyone’s going to go for that. I won’t go for that. If, on the other hand, we can shape an agenda that says we can create jobs, advance growth, and make a serious dent in climate change and be an international leader, I think that’s something that the American people would support.”

What’s wrong with this picture? Well, almost everything.

Yes, the most effective way to slow climate change is to shrink the economy. That statement is inconvenient as hell, but it’s true. Sure, efficiency and renewable energy can nibble around the edges of our carbon emissions, but just three or four percent economic growth per year

How Germany Is Getting to 100 Percent Renewable Energy…



From THOMAS HEDGES
Truthdig
Thanks to Todd Walton

There is no debate on climate change in Germany. The temperature for the past 10 months has been 3 degrees above average and we’re again on course for the warmest year on record. There’s no dispute among Germans as to whether this change is man-made, or that we contribute to it and need to stop accelerating the process.

Since 2000, Germany has converted 25 percent of its power grid to renewable energy sources such as solar, wind and biomass. The architects of the clean energy movement Energiewende, which translates to “energy transformation,” estimate that from 80 percent to 100 percent of Germany’s electricity will come from renewable sources by 2050.

Germans are baffled that the United States has not taken the same path. Not only is the U.S. the wealthiest nation in the world, but it’s also credited with jump-starting Germany’s green movement 40 years ago.

“This is a very American idea,” Arne Jungjohann, a director at the Heinrich Boll Stiftung Foundation (HBSF), said at a news conference Tuesday morning in Washington, D.C. “We got this from Jimmy Carter.”

The Real GOP Fiasco: Fairness…


Wikimedia Commons

From WICK ALLISON
The American Conservative

Bill Kristol, for once, is right. The Bush tax cuts for the rich have to go.

The election is barely over, but true to form, Mitch McConnell and John Boehner have already bungled the next one. Their line in the sand is exactly the wrong way to recast the GOP’s appeal to minorities, women, and working-class whites.

Look at the data. Exit polls showed that voters largely agreed that Romney was a “strong leader” and “had a vision for the future.” But as AEI’s Henry Olsen notes, “Romney lost because he lost among those who chose the remaining characteristic – by 63 points, 81-18. That characteristic? Cares about people like me.” (The exit polls do not include the nine million white voters who showed their opinion by not voting at all.)

Having lost two national elections in which the Bush tax cuts were at issue, the GOP Congressional leadership now seems determined to dig the ditch deeper.

C.S. Lewis begins his classic Mere Christianity by listing phrases we’ve all heard or said: “How’d you like it if someone did the same to you” – “That’s my seat, I was here first” – “Leave him alone, he isn’t doing you any harm” – “Why should you shove in first.” He notes that a child’s first introduction to immorality is when someone cuts in front of him in the school lunch line. The response is instinctual: “That’s not fair.” All moral codes, Lewis says, begin with that one reaction: “That’s not fair.”

The Republican Party can appeal to “Judeo-Christian values” as long as the sun shines and their voices hold out. But they’ve abandoned the most basic moral value of all: fairness. America is supposed to be the land of opportunity.

My Introduction to Socialism (age 10)…


“There were no poor people in the land of Oz, because there was no such thing as money, and all property of every sort belonged to the Ruler. Each person was given freely by his neighbors whatever he required for his use, which is as much as anyone may reasonably desire. Every one worked half the time and played half the time, and the people enjoyed the work as much as they did the play, because it is good to be occupied and to have something to do.” L. Frank Baum. (from L Frank Baum’s Socialist Society)

A reader has recently turned me on to William Still’s 2009 film, The Secret of Oz, about the socialist writer L. Frank Baum, who happens to be my earliest political influence. In addition to his outrageously popular The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, Baum wrote thirteen sequels in which Dorothy returns to Oz for further adventures. Many of his later books provide detailed depictions of Oz (always governed by women) as socialist utopias. I still vividly recall one of the more remote regions of Oz being governed by a young woman who is required by law to dress in plain clothing and live in a crude one room hut.

According to numerous scholars, parts of Baum’s 1900 The Wonderful Wizard of Oz are loaded with symbols related to monetary reform, which was at the core of the Populist movement and the 1896 and 1900 presidential bids of Populist Democrat William Jennings Bryan. The yellow brick road represents the gold standard, the Scarecrow farmers, the Tin Man industrial workers, the Wicked Witch of the West Cleveland banker  J.D. Rockefeller, the Wicked Witch of the East (NY banker J.P.Morgan), the Cowardly Lion William Jennings Bryant

The World Is Socialist…


From DAVE WINER
Scripting News

When I was 17, I read Atlas Shrugged and it “changed my life.” For about a year. In that book I heard that I was great and there were a few others like me, and most of the rest of the people were bullshitters. Grifters, looters, politicos, people who asked for us, the great ones, to work for them, because we could and they couldn’t. And all the time they put down the great people, said they were ungrateful, bad people etc etc. The great ones got tired of working for everyone and not being appreciated, so they all went and hid in their rooms until the world fell apart without them, and the people begged them to come back, saying they were sorry and they didn’t realize how cool they were. The great ones came back, straightened everything out, lived forever, never got sick, never got hit by a car, or had their house invaded by burglars, or burned down by fire. Etc etc.

It’s a beautiful story for a person caught between childhood and adulthood. You’re not yet aware of how the world actually works, in any real sense, and you remember all the issues of being a child (you still are a child at 17, despite how your body looks). Over the horizon is adulthood, which is beginning to come into view. You’re trying to imagine yourself as an adult. It’s understandable that the child, looking out to the future, wants to create something that looks a lot like the past. But it doesn’t work that way.

In New York we had a massive snow storm. It’s hard to know for sure if it could have been handled smoothly like so much in NY is. In normal times, NY is an amazing place. A busy street can be transformed into a street fair in a few hours, then switch back to being a busy street just in time for Monday morning. But throw a huge curveball at the city, like last week’s storm, and all bets are off.

Transition: Cheer up — things really are as bad as you think…


From ERIK CURREN
Transition Voice

In last week’s election, Obama may have been a better choice than the alternative, but no American president is likely to have much positive impact on climate change, peak oil and the worldwide economic crisis anytime soon. Given the sorry state of national governments, controlled as they are by rapacious corporations driven by the profit motive, there’s little chance of either hope or change coming from the top in Washington or any other capital.

So, it’s up to local communities around the world to save themselves. Three new books will inspire you to join the effort while helping you achieve the calm and cool mind you’ll need to succeed.

Old McDonald had a brownfield

Deeply embedded in daily life, industrial food could be the most insidious kind of tyranny that today’s society exerts over people and communities. You nearly have to become Amish to completely avoid processed food made from GMOs and packed with chemicals and additives that may not kill you right away but will certainly kill you slowly through cancer, diabetes and heart disease.

Urban Farms

Urban Farms by Sarah Rich is a non-combative hardcover volume with pictures by photographer

Human Bodies For Fertilizer?



From GENE LOGSDON

I thought I had an original idea recently only to find that thousands of others were way ahead of me. I got to thinking about cemeteries and their potential for garden farming while making death a little less abhorrent. That’s when I had this “new” idea that actually is very old but is now a new movement.

Have you heard about “green burials”?  A growing number of people want to be buried without toxic embalming fluids like formaldehyde, in a shroud or cardboard box or cheap, wooden, readily-biodegradable coffin. Since our bodies are going to decompose no matter what (even in mummification), why not let them return to life-giving humus naturally, thereby enriching the soil?

So I’ve been entertaining myself with a bizarre vision of cemeteries as gardens and orchards of lush food plants fertilized by all that nitrogen, phosphorus, potash, trace elements and organic matter that dead bodies would provide. Could human culture advance toward the true definition of immortality, the enfolding of our remains back into the food chain to contribute to the health of the environment even in death?

I see on Google that every year we are burying 90,000 tons of steel caskets, 14,000 tons of steel vaults, 2700 tons of copper and bronze caskets, 1,636,000 tons of reinforced concrete, and some 800,000 gallons of embalming fluid, mostly formaldehyde which destroys microbial life in the soil. Even if these numbers are not quite accurate, they make the point very well.

Coalition kicks off ‘Rolling Jubilee’ campaign to eliminate debt…


From COMMONDREAMS

Coalition kicks off ‘Rolling Jubilee’ campaign to eliminate debt

A coalition of activists looking to build popular resistance to predatory lending kicked off a new initiative, The Rolling Jubilee, to challenge the status quo of debt collection by purchasing distressed debts and then—rather than collecting on it—wiping the slate clean.

 The Rolling Jubilee telethon will air Thursday, November 15 and can be live streamed on rollingjubilee.org The Occupy offshoot, Strike Debt, will hold a telethon and variety show called “The People’s Bailout” in New York on Nov. 15 to raise money for the cause. For pennies on the dollar ($32 for every $1), individuals or companies can buy distressed debt—including student loans and outstanding medical bills—from lenders if the borrower is either behind their payments or in default. Whereas traditional debt collectors then hound the debtor to pay up, the Rolling Jubilee is bunking the system by erasing the debt and, therefore, liberating the debtor.

Rolling Jubilee, whose website went live on Monday, has already raised over $87,000 to abolish $1.7 million worth of debt. According to writer and Jubilee organizer David Rees, the group has already performed a test run on the debt market by spending $500 on distressed debt, buying $14,000 worth of outstanding loans and pardoning the debtors.

Their stated goal is to raise $50,000 to buy up (and eliminate) $1 million worth of debt, focusing primarily on communities hardest hit by the recession.

James Houle: Obama’s Second Term…



From JAMES HOULE
Obama Watch
Redwood Valley

What sort of victory was this?
After defeating John McCain in 2008 by 7.2%, Obama has stumbled back for a second term with only 50.4% of the popular vote: a narrow 2.4% margin over the totally hapless Romney. In 2008 Obama’s win was fueled by a widespread disgust with George Bush’s performance. This week, nine million fewer voters chose Obama than in 2008, and there was widespread disenchantment with Obama’s first term performance. He received only one half million votes more than the inept John McCain had collected back in 2008! The President’s total vote was 13% less than four years ago, when his lead over McCain was three times as high. Total vote count was down 11 million across the country as many could not find a candidate they believed in. (WSWS 11-8-12) In California, 30% fewer went to the polls than in 2008!

If the people’s enthusiasm for your leadership declines by 11 million on your second try, would you as President interpret the message as “give us more of the same”? Yet some call the results a new mandate, while Obama himself talks of compromise with Republicans to work out a solution to the impending fiscal crisis on December 31st when both rich-guy tax increases and cuts in Social Security and Medicare are up for grabs? With a guarantee of four more years as President and slightly increased Democratic party strength in Congress, is it time for new initiatives and risk-taking, or is it time for more giving in to a leaderless Republican party? There was some good news in California where voters approved Proposition 30 increasing taxes on the rich and giving the Democrats

Transition Ukiah Valley: ‘Urban Roots’ Film Showing Tonight Tuesday 11/13/12 at 6pm


Transition Ukiah Valley Film Series
and the
Gardens Project of N.C.O.
Present

The post-industrial urban landscapes of Detroit’s neighborhoods are being reclaimed, and a community spirit is being built, and people are feeding each other through community gardening and farming.

“Detroit’s farmers are building a new and powerful urban economy, and providing an invaluable service to their community. We need empowering films like Urban Roots to keep us moving in the right direction.” ~Alice Waters

Saturday Afternoon Clubhouse
107 S. Oak St. Tuesday, Nov. 13th at 6:00PM
$5-10 Donation requested

Discussion after the film…
Folks from the Gardens Project
and the Transition Ukiah Valley Food & Seeds working group
will talk about their local projects and answer questions.

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

Join us! Contact: 707-376-8846

A Fiscally Sponsored Program of the Cloud Forest Institute.
TUV Film/Speaker Series
Sponsored & Supported by the Saturday Afternoon Clubhouse.

~~

Climate science is Nate Silver and U.S. politics is Karl Rove…


From DAVID ROBERTS
Grist

Throughout this long, crazy campaign, there’s been a tension simmering between empiricists like Nate Silver and Sam Wang, who cited poll data showing Obama with a small but durable lead, and pundits who trusted their “guts” and the “narrative,” both of which indicated that Romney had all the momentum after the first debate.

In the face of model projections like Silver’s, Jonah Goldberg said that “the soul … is not so easily number-crunched.” David Brooks warned that “experts with fancy computer models are terrible at predicting human behavior.” Joe Scarborough said “anybody that thinks that this race is anything but a tossup right now is such an ideologue.” Peggy Noonan said that “the vibrations are right” for a Romney win. All sorts of conservative pundits were convinced the Romney campaign just felt like a winner.

Empiricism won. It didn’t win because it’s a truer faith or a superior ideology. It won because it works. It is the best way humans have figured out to set aside their perceptual limitations and cognitive shortcomings, to get a clear view of what’s happening and what’s to come.

As it happens, there’s another issue in American politics where empiricists are forecasting the future and being ignored. Here’s what the Nate Silvers of climate science are up to:

Looking back at 10 years of atmospheric humidity data from NASA satellites, [John Fasullo and Kevin Trenberth of the National Center for Atmospheric Research] examined two dozen of the world’s most sophisticated climate simulations. They found the simulations that most closely matched actual

The Theology of Laughter


JC

From WILLIAM EDELEN
The Contrary Minister

My title is borrowed from the writings of that beautiful Persian poet, Rumi.

At one of the most serious times of the war, Abraham Lincoln turned to the members of his cabinet and said, “Laugh, gentlemen… laugh or you will go mad.” Lincoln’s favorite stories were what he called his “preacher jokes.” Needless to say, the clergy of that day did not find them amusing or funny.

Too many forget that laughter is a sacred gift that can refresh the soul. There is no humor in the entire bible except one priceless scene in the Old Testament when Abraham and Sarah, both of them, laugh at God. God wants to know, “what’s so funny?” Abraham and Sarah thought it was hilarious what God wanted of them at their age. Abraham was 100 years old and Sarah was 90 years old and here God wanted them to have a child. The height of optimism  and humor.

Abraham fell down on  his face, rolling with laughter at God, and said: “Do you mean that we can have a child at our age?  Do you know how old we are?” They laughed, even at God. Would we not all be better off and far healthier spiritually and emotionally if we would, even as Abraham, laugh at God more often? And laugh at our own religious pretensions?More...

Why were, and are, so many of our Church “fathers” opposed to laughing at much of the church and the clergy? Do they sense that laughter might weaken the somber, grim, fabric of their creeds, doctrines and dogma? Laughter was even punishable during periods of church history. Maybe they knew, deep within their hearts that they were in some sense laughable.Laughter can strip away excessive dignity and presumptuous titles.

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