The Iraqi Pullout Hoax

2/28/09 Ukiah, Northern California

From Jim Houle

The New York Times suggests that Obama has made a statesmanlike compromise between his campaign pledge to “get out of Iraq in 16 months” and the Pentagon Brass pushing for 23 months: he split the difference at 19 months (September 2010). Most Americans had thought on Election Day that this meant all troops would leave Iraq but we have been disabused of this naïve notion. America will continue to have “a residual force” stationed at the four large desert bases (often referred to as crusader castles) for an undefined number of years.

This “continuing presence” after August 2010 has been called Advisory Training Brigades. Pentagon spokesman Geoff Morrell conceded on Feb. 24th that some would continue to “conduct combat operations,” and Iraq would still be considered a war zone. The rest would be what he described as “enablers.” The issue is why will we need them there? We can only conclude that Obama has not let go of what had been the over-riding justification for the invasion of Iraq back in 2003: to dominate the region militarily. The objective was then and continues to be: to control Iraq’s oil resources, to assure the continued security of the corrupt medieval monarchies in Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, and to utilize the Persian Gulf as our private lake. The four crusader fortifications we have built with their huge airfields and weapons stockpiles can serve as a launching pad for any bombing raids found necessary in future years to keep in line those ‘Seven Stans” of Central Asia: Kazakh, Uzbek, Tajik, Turkomen, Kirghiz, Afghani and Pakistani along with those unreliable Persians and any Palestinians that might acquire a modern weapon. It’s all part of the unworkable and unaffordable program called “full spectrum global dominance” back at the Pentagon and that has already run us near to full spectrum bankruptcy. The administration intends to call those remaining troops a “transition force” – apparently to guard us as we move to a Pax-Obama future. None of the Iraqi political parties support any continued US presence after the year 2011, as had been agreed during the Bush administration.

Even House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is a bit confused: “I don’t know what the justification is for 50,000,” she said on MSNBC February 25th. “I would think a third of that, maybe 20,000, a little more than a third, 15,000 or 20,000.” As of February 26th, Obama’s people are putting the size of the residual force at 35 to 50,000. Obama just budgeted $130 billion to fund the wars costs for Iraq and Afghanistan for the fiscal year starting June 2009. Pentagon Spokesman Geoff Morrell has now further parsed his words: “while Iraq would remains a war zone, most of these remaining forces would not do anything that resembles fighting. But just because these troops would carry a sidearm, as all U.S. troops do in theater, that should not be confused with them having a combat mission”. What is this? Will two mile long runways be defended by residual forces with sidearms?

Local Sierra Club Chapter Attacks County General Plan/Draft EIR A “Failure”

Sierra Club
Mendocino Group, Redwood Chapter
13 February 2009

Mendocino County Board of Supervisors
Low Gap Road
Ukiah, CA

Re: Final EIR and General Plan
A Different Approach on the Water Sections

Members of the Board;

We are enclosing three comment letters that address the water sections of the Draft Environmental Impact Report. We urge the Board to take a careful look at what is being proposed by the Planning Group and their professional consultant. These comment letters from the Sierra Club, our attorney, and the Mendocino County Water Agency concur on the gross inadequacy of the draft water sections of the EIR and General Plan. A review of the comment listings shows that agencies such as the Department of Fish and Game and the Regional Water Control Board share our critical evaluation of the draft documents regarding water resources.

Based on our experiences over the last three years, we do not expect the final EIR and General Plan (now due out on the 26th) to be meaningfully different from the inadequate draft presented. Those who have created the draft documents do not seem to have the understanding or motivation to create:
• An accurate description of the present degraded conditions of our water resources, or
• A comprehensive identification of the environmental issues, or
• A detailed plan to fix the problems.

Attorney Paul Carroll states:
The general plan and its EIR are expected to comprehensively analyze the availability of water to the environment and the potential adverse effects of its depletion. This obligation includes identifying future water sources and analyzing the impacts of their procurement. Under these criteria, the County’s updated General Plan/Draft EIR is a failure. Among its deficiencies, it fails to address the greatest threat to the County’s rivers and streams, namely the depletion of streamflows from diversions, many illegal; it fails to consider the availability of groundwater in connection with the demands of future development; it proposes to address water quality impacts with mitigations that do not apply to the problem at hand or that will apply for years to come; it eliminates mitigations deemed necessary by the current General Plan, such as a riparian protection/grading ordinance; and it evidences a fundamental misunderstanding regarding cumulative impacts, positing that they can be readily controlled by project-level permits and best management practices.

The Mendocino Water Agency comment letter raises six pages of material deficiencies and questions such as:
Why does this EIR not discuss the effects that lack of a Grading Ordinance for the last 25 years has had on water quality and riparian corridor conditions?

Why does this EIR not require the adoption of a Grading Ordinance as a mitigation measure?

How do policies provide mitigation when they do not have implementation measures, state what department is responsible, or have a timeline?

Since the EIR correctly points out that the County currently has no codes or ordinances that provide mitigation for construction activities and none are proposed in the EIR, how is the EIR conclusion that no mitigation measures are required justified?

How does policy language that involves “promoting”, and “supporting” result in implementation sufficient to justify the EIR conclusion that no mitigation is necessary for development impacts?

The EIR states that “lack of current knowledge…impacts are considered significant and unavoidable”. The mitigation measures are listed as “none available”. Is not a reduction in the development
patterns that would affect groundwater supplies, a mitigation measure?

The Sierra Club comment letter raises water issues missed or avoided in the EIR such as illegal diversions:

The Division of Water Rights has the opportunity to consider the environmental effects of applications for diversion prior to any taking or the construction of storage facilities by the applicant. However, the current situation is that growers have built dams onstream and later applied for their permit. The result is an administrative logjam of noncompliant diversion dams. This results in a very significant illegal taking of water with environmental effects to water supply and water quality that is not been addressed in the DEIR. The county has a legitimate interest in regulating construction of these projects and an obligation to limit the adverse environmental consequences. These diversions, being taken without right of law, diminish the opportunity for other development by those who would comply with water rights laws and county building codes.

While the DEIR acknowledges the problem of illegal construction of dams, it dismisses the issue without further examination or response in the document. At page 4.8-2 it states:

“…there are many illegal diversions and impoundments of surface water occurring in the unincorporated area of the county; however, the amount of water being diverted and the extent of diversions countywide are currently unknown.”

Greater Ukiah Localization Project Report (GULP)

From Cliff Paulin

2/26/09 Ukiah, Northern California

Greetings GULPers,

Well it’s been a while since we’ve met but I just wanted to let you know that localization efforts continue to bubble in different realms. It’s been heartening to see the localization banner being carried on in so many different circles.  If you have other activities you’d like to share with the group, please send me an e-mail:

Be well,


Time Bank
A very exciting service has been brought to Ukiah thanks to the work of Julia Frech. It’s called Time Bank, and is a way for people to exchange services locally via the web.  You can sign up on the website or you can call 489-1388.  This is a great way to put your talents to use and get assistance from your local community.

Year Round Farmers Market
In case you haven’t noticed the Saturday Farmer’s Market in Ukiah is thriving through the winter.  Featuring the finest in local produce, meat, seafood, honey, cheese, eggs, and crafts the market is open under the pavilion at Alex Thomas Plaza every Saturday morning. You can also pick up another local currency there, the wooden $2 piece, which you can start tipping your wait staff and paperboy with.

Shop Local Card
The Mendo Lake Credit Union and the Mendocino Savings Bank will be rolling out a shop local credit card in the near future. This is another great way to ensure that our dollars stay local. Keep your eyes out for future developments.

Boosting Local Farms Conference
Mendo Food Futures (MFF) and STEPS to a local food economy will be hosting their annual meeting again this spring and the theme is “Growing the Next Generation of Mendocino Farmers”.  The vision is to have current, beginning, and aspiring farmers connect with the resources (land, labor, capital, knowledge) that they need to start producing more food locally. The tentative date is set for April 8th. If you are interested in attending please contact Cliff Paulin at

New Local Food Market
Scott and Holly Cratty, ever the stalwarts of the localization movement, have recently purchased the Westside Market on Clay Street. They are looking to feature locally grown Mendocino Renegade Certified Organic food and local crafts. If you have items you would like to sell through the market please contact Scott at

Rent a Local Artist
The Ukiah Art Center, our own cooperatively run gallery located at 201 and 203 S. State Street will be offering the chance for you to feature a local art in your home by renting it. Attend the next First Friday Art Walk on March 6, or stop by anytime to find out more info.  For a list of ongoing activities you can go to their website:

Shop Local Campaign
You may have seen the proliferation of shop local banners and placards around town recently.  A group of local business owners, lead by Spencer Brewer of the Ukiah Music Center have done a wonderful job of raising the profile of our locally owned businesses. You can show your support for  their efforts by stopping into a local business next time you are in need of a new acquisition.

Bulk Organic Grain Share
Following in the footsteps of Community Supported Agriculture, Mendo Food Futures (MFF) are offering a Grain and Bean Share. You can purchase shares for $10, which will entitle you to 11 pounds of pinto beans, brown rice, white rice, or 17 pounds of Triticale (a hybrid of rye and wheat). You can contact MFF at to purchase shares, and if we get enough interest in Ukiah we may be able to get them to attend the Saturday Farmer’s Market.

Mustard Seed Project
A group of local medical, financial, and policy individuals have been meeting to devise a strategy to maximize the impact of state and federal funding for physical and mental health in the county.  During these times of challenging financial reality these organizations are working in concert to best serve the residents of Mendocino County.

Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Conference
The City of Ukiah will be hosting a Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Conference at the Ukiah Conference Center on May 5, 2009.  Stay tuned for details.

Anything Else?
If you know of any other efforts or projects underway or envisioned please e-mail Cliff Paulin at so we can get the word out.

Ukiah Farmers’ Market Saturday 2/28/09

From Scott Cratty

2/26/09, Ukiah, Northern California

Friends of the Farmers’ Market,

Greetings.  The latest forecast for Saturday is “Cloudy with a few showers” and a balmy (for winter) 61 degrees.  Once again perfect weather for keeping your vegetables fresh, so make sure you remember to get to the market … and come early.  The crowds have been falling off sharply after noon and many of our vendors are getting into the habit of packing up a bit early.  So, if you arrive right at 1 pm you may find your favorite vendor already pulling out.  Next season we will close the winter market at noon.

I do not expect any significant changes this week relative to last. The Fords will again be absent (it is the second and final week of their vacation) and The Apple Farm will probably not be back for another week.  Otherwise you can expect the same great array of vendors.

Thanks to all for making our first winter market so successful.

Check Friday’s UDJ for the exciting conclusion of the Tale of Two Chickens.

On to your weekly dose of local food news

Holly found this nice blog called Organic on a Budget. When I looked last week there was a list of tips for getting the best food at the best price.  Care to guess what is #1 on the list?  If you guessed shopping at the farmers’ market, you are correct.

– The Anderson Valley Foodshed Group is preparing the republish the excellent Mendocino  County Local Food Guide that they created in 2007. It will be updated with producers who were not included before, as well as new info from those previously included.  If you are aware of any county food producers that were not included before please ask them to drop me a note so that I can forward the survey for the new edition.

Ron Epstein passed along the following link to an interesting interview about commercial juice.  It turns out that juice in cartons may not be as fresh as you think: What you’re really pouring from that carton of orange juice

– In case you just cannot get enough information about local food and small farms, you can check out the Organic Consumers Union‘s new farmer TV. The episodes explore the business of small family farms, and the health benefits derived from eating organic, not to mention the economic benefits to the community from supporting local farms.  So far there are two of these half-hour programs.  Watch how one family starts up their own small farming operation from scratch. In the second episode, watch how a group of people begin volunteering one day per week when they start getting involved helping out at a local sustainable farm.  This Friends of Farmers episode does a good job of recapping the spectrum of reasons for supporting local food farms.  It is at: Organic Consumers Union

Scott Cratty
Ph: 707-462-7377

How do horse slaughterhouses work?

From Ron Epstein

The Montana state legislature endorsed a bill Tuesday that would allow the construction of a horse slaughterhouse. It would be the only such plant in the country—the last three, two in Texas, one in Illinois, were shut down in 2007.

How do horse slaughterhouses work? A lot like cow slaughterhouses. Horses arrive on trucks and trailers, usually after being purchased at one of the many horse auctions across the country. They proceed down a ramp, into a feeding pen, and finally through a chute that leads to a small, brightly lit room. That’s where an employee holds a pressurized gun called a “captive bolt pistol” up to the horse’s forehead and shoots a 4-inch piece of metal about the size of a roll of quarters into its brain. Workers sometimes need to shoot three or four times before the horse stops moving. The horse is then dumped out a side door and strung up by its feet, at which point workers slit its throat and drain the blood. The body is then cut up and sent off to a meat company, usually in France or Belgium, where horse meat is a delicacy. (See a video of the whole process here.)

Keep reading They Shoot Horses Don’t They? at Slate magazine

See also Equine Protection Network

and Equine Advocates

an Unwanted Horse Coalition

and The Humane Sociey

Hat Tip Jan Allegretti

Image Credit: WIkipedia Commons

An urgent call to ‘buy local’

From The Christian Science Monitor

[Many of us remember the “debate” that Michael Shuman had here in Ukiah, which DDR refused to attend, during our fight to save the Masonite site for future jobs. Michael has just been appointed the position of Director of Research and Public Policy for Business Alliance for Local Living Economies (BALLE) – DS]

Job developer Michael Shuman seeks to rebuild struggling communities with home-grown businesses.

For Michael Shuman it was the equivalent of an earthquake. Seeking cheaper labor in Canada, Toronto-based Branscan Corp. threw 1,400 people out of work by closing two paper mills in Millinocket, Maine, in 2002. The unemployment rate in this region of central Maine skyrocketed to Depression era levels of nearly 40 percent.

Mr. Shuman, an economist and job developer, was called in for damage control. Aided by an $8 million federal grant, he and his colleagues at Maine’s Training and Development Corp. were able to help most of the laid-off workers get back on their feet. But the experience convinced Shuman to do what any sensible person might do after such a calamity: Build something that’s earthquake-resistant.

To him, that involves locally owned businesses.

For the past five years, Shuman has been barnstorming across the United States, preaching the gospel of economic “localism.” It’s an appeal to community values as well as economic self-interest, a call to support locally owned businesses that don’t outsource, don’t pack up their businesses and leave on a moment’s notice, and who recycle their customers’ dollars back into the community.

Shuman describes his effort as “a political campaign that never ends.” He speaks mostly in small rural communities, often desolate landscapes with shuttered mills and boarded-up storefronts. His campaign has put him in the epicenter of a debate about what’s best for the economic health of a community: Locally owned businesses or large, multinational chain stores.

Keep reading An urgent call at CSM

Harlan Hubbard – Painter, Writer, Agrarian Homesteader

From Gene Logsdon

I found Harland Hubbard in an article in the National Geographic in the early 1960s. He and his wife, Anna, were what was called at that time modern homesteaders who had first become well-known for building their own shantyboat and floating down the Ohio and Mississippi rivers to bayou country, a trip that lasted over a year. Now they lived on the banks of the Ohio in a house they had built themselves, mostly out of lumber cut from their own woodland or snagged as it floated by on the river. They did not have electricity. They cut their own wood for fuel. They raised all their food, or caught it from the river, or traded for it with neighbors. The only steady income they had was rent from a house Harlan had built in town in younger years. Their life was both rigorous and elegant. Harlan made some money from his paintings and his books. The couple provided their own entertainment: nature watching, reading, and music.

For a while, I talked about living the same way, causing Carol’s parents some consternation.In their first years of marriage, they had lived much like the Hubbards but viewed with alarm the idea that their daughter and grandchildren might have to do likewise. I was reminded, more than once, that, unlike the Hubbards, I had children to raise. So I went to Philadelphia, accepted the manacles of financial security, and forgot about the Hubbards.

Fourteen years later, Wendell Berry introduced me to the Hubbards. They lived only a few miles from his farm. Wendell and I were both writing for the Rodale Press, whose publications were seeing a dramatic rise in circulation. This was the golden age of Organic Gardening magazine. Literally millions of people were subscribing to it because they had gotten the audacious notion that they wanted more control over their lives. The magazine was suggesting ways to gain that control. Like the Hubbards, these readers thought that they wanted to go where they could own a little land free and clear, live more healthfully, more at nature’s pace than the nine-to-five regime, produce their own food, do for themselves what they had been paying others to do for them, and make enough money at some small business or craft to get by. In other words, they were motivated by the same kind of idealism that had influenced the early pioneers. They were agrarians. They found in the publications of the Rodale Press the kind of information they were looking for.

It was in this heady atmosphere of hope that, at Wendell’s suggestion, I was assigned to write an article about Harlan and Anna Hubbard. I remembered them from the National Geographic article and accepted the assignment eagerly.

Keep reading Harlan Hubbard at OrganicToBe

Buddhist Economics – E F Schumacher

By E.F. Schumacher
Small Is Beautiful (1973)

“Right Livelihood” is one of the requirements of the Buddha’s Noble Eightfold Path. It is clear, therefore, that there must be such a thing as Buddhist economics…

Economists themselves, like most specialists, normally suffer from a kind of metaphysical blindness, assuming that theirs is a science of absolute and invariable truths, without any presuppositions. Some go as far as to claim that economic laws are as free from “metaphysics” or “values” as the law of gravitation. We need not, however, get involved in arguments of methodology. Instead, let us take some fundamentals and see what they look like when viewed by a modern economist and a Buddhist economist.

There is universal agreement that a fundamental source of wealth is human labour. Now, the modern economist has been brought up to consider “labour” or work as little more than a necessary evil. From the point of view of the employer, it is in any case simply an item of cost, to be reduced to a minimum if it can not be eliminated altogether, say, by automation. From the point of view of the workman, it is a “disutility”; to work is to make a sacrifice of one’s leisure and comfort, and wages are a kind of compensation for the sacrifice. Hence the ideal from the point of view of the employer is to have output without employees, and the ideal from the point of view of the employee is to have income without employment.

Exposing the links between doctors and Big Pharma

From Ron Epstein

Republican senator Chuck Grassley has made it his mission to shake up the cosy relationship between doctors, researchers and the pharmaceutical industry. Now he is introducing legislation to force drugs companies to disclose the payments they make to doctors. He tells Jim Giles why he has chosen to be a troublemaker

Does it really matter that some academics and doctors “forget” to declare their income from drug companies?

The public relies on the advice of doctors and has a right to know about financial relationships between those doctors and the companies that make the pharmaceuticals they prescribe. The same goes for leading researchers, as they influence the practice of medicine. If the payments are transparent, I believe that people who have close connections with a company will be a little more cautious about the extent to which they push one drug over another. US taxpayers should also know as they spend billions of dollars on prescription drugs and devices through Medicare and Medicaid.

Last year, you made claims about a psychiatrist using grants from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to test a drug. You alleged he had not properly disclosed the stock he held in the company that owned the drug – claims which he has denied and which his employer has cleared him of. Can you tell me about that?

I am not able to comment on the specifics of any cases. But I can say that my discovery of undisclosed financial relationships between drug companies and researchers has put pressure on the NIH. It’s a trustee of $24 billion in federal grants each year. It needs to make sure that those receiving its grants manage conflicts of interest.

Keep reading Exposing the links at New Scientist

I see mankind as a herd of cattle – Tolstoy

I see mankind as a herd of cattle inside a fenced enclosure. Outside the fence are green pastures with plenty for the cattle to eat, while inside the fence there is not quite grass enough for the cattle. Consequently the cattle are trampling underfoot what little grass there is and goring each other to death in their struggle for existence. I saw the owner of the herd come to them and when he saw their pitiable condition he was filled with compassion for them, and thought of what he could do to improve their condition. So he called his friends together and asked them to assist him in cutting the grass from outside the fence and throwing it over the fence to the cattle. And they called that charity. Then, because the calves were dying off and not growing into serviceable cattle, he arranged that they should each have a pint of milk every morning for breakfast. Because they were dying off in the cold night he put up beautiful well-drained and well-ventilated cow sheds for the cattle. Because they were goring each other in the struggle for existence he put corks on the horns of the cattle so that the wounds they gave each other might not be so serious. Then he reserved a part of the enclosure for the old bulls and the old cows over seventy years of age. In fact, he did everything he could do to improve the conditions of the cattle. And when they asked him why he did not do the one obvious thing—break down the fences and let the cattle out—he answered, “If I let the cattle out, I should no longer be able to milk them.”

Shelf Life

From NY Times

I felt so fortunate to attend a special presentation the other night: William Stout, owner of the eponymous architecture and design bookstore in San Francisco, had been invited to talk about his favorite books at Linden Street, a casual salon of sorts that aims to foster the design community in the city…

Stout is a collector in the best sense of the word. Though he joked that he began acquiring books when he realized he’d never have a 401k, it is probably more accurate to say that Stout is in complete thrall of the smell of ink, the feel of paper, the intellectual and physical heft of the literary object, the near-indiscernible sound of the turning of pages…

Scanning the bookshelves of others is a favorite pastime, and sitting here canvassing my own makes me fully understand why Stout recently left his San Francisco house to move into a warehouse: he wanted to be surrounded by not just some but all of his books, to feel among the living. As one who has lugged an ever-increasing number of boxes of books from apartment to apartment, city to city, unable to part with nary a one, I feel the same way…

Keep reading Shelf Life at The New York Times

We need a new myth

by Richard Heinberg
Post Carbon Institute
Extracted from an interview in Acres USA, March 2007

Over the past 200 years the human population has grown from under one billion to now over 6.5 billion. That’s an extraordinary rate of increase—completely unprecedented in all of previous history. There are verious ways of explaining how and why that has happened, but certainly it could not have happened without cheap fossil fuels with which to grow more food and to transport that food from where it’s abundant to where it’s scarce. I think it’s fair to say that there are somewhere between 2 and 4 billion people alive today who probably would not exist if it weren’t for fossil fuels. That’s a little worrisome to think about when one realizes that oil production globally is set to peak any year now, and global natural gas production will not be far behind. If we’re going to avoid to die-off of much of humanity through starvation and disease, we’re going to have to find ways of feeding people without fossil fuels or with a lot less fossil fuel use—and that really means redesigning out entire food system. It means growing more food locally, for local consumption, it means using smaller farm machinery and less of it, it means more people being involved in the process of producing food, and it means growing food with fewer chemicals and fertilizers, pesticides and herbicides. Fortunately, over the past few decades we have developed information, knowledge, experience and techniques that are capable of growing food intensively, organically and ecologically. Those techniques, those methods desperately need to be expanded and replicated and made the basis for our national and global food system.

The whole chemicals industry arose starting with coal, but natural gas is now the basis for the modern pharmaceutical and agrichemical industy, and that’s a very worrisome situation here in North America because we’re seeing natural gas production turning down. Therefore we’re seeing high natural gas prices, and therefore high fertilizer prices, because, of course, fertilizer is made from natural gas. Most of the North American chemicals industry is fleeing for other shores where natural gas is cheaper. We’ve lost something like 100,000 jobs in the chemicals industry over the last two years, but we don’t read that on the business pages of the newspapers.

What [leaders] most need to understand is our systemic dependency on fossil fuels and the fact that fossil fuels are about to become much more scarce and expensive. I don’t think that simple fact has penetrated the consciousness of our officials. They have been led to believe that business as usual will continue indefinitely, that the way we are doing things now is somehow the way they’ve always been done and always will be done, which is simply not the case. We live in an extraordinary moment in history.

Sanderson update…

From Don Sanderson

2/23/09 Ukiah, California I was incorrect about the value of bonds to be sold this week, but ….
From Bloomberg a few minutes ago:

The Treasury Department plans to auction $40 billion of two-year notes Tuesday, a record $32 billion of five-year securities Feb. 25 and a record $22 billion of seven-year debt Feb. 26.

“With all the supply coming, people are taking it as an opportunity to short the Treasury market,” said Charles Comiskey, head of U.S. Treasury trading in New York at HSBC Securities USA Inc., one of the 16 primary dealers that are required to bid in Treasury auctions. To short is to bet the price of a security will fall.

The U.S. will probably borrow $2.5 trillion during the fiscal year ending Sept. 30, according to primary dealer Goldman Sachs Group Inc. The figure is almost triple the $892 billion in notes and bonds the Treasury sold in the previous 12 months.

“We’re dealing with a huge boatload of supply,” said Kevin Flanagan, a Purchase, New York-based fixed-income strategist for Morgan Stanley’s individual-investor clients. “We feel it will continue to hover over the market for the entire year.”

U.S. yields indicate bets on inflation have been rising over the past three months.

Fed policy makers have debated whether to purchase longer-term U.S. debt to help lower consumer borrowing costs, an option raised by Bernanke late last year.

“Buying Treasuries is not on the Fed’s front burner,” said Thomas Roth, head of U.S. government bond trading in New York at Dresdner Kleinwort, another primary dealer. “It’s something that would be a last resort type of thing. People are still hoping.”

Elsewhere, Bloomberg reports that dividends have fallen far below bond yields, ao the stock market has become uninteresting to investors. Look for a big stock market drop and 401Ks and other pension funds to disappear.

And, away we go …

A Captive Obama

From Jim Houle

2/23/09 Ukiah, Northern California The military holds Obama captive to its strategy for maintaining US security and continuing the supposed war on terrorism. After Bush Administration sold Congress and much of the American public for 8 years on the necessity of preventing another 9/11, Obama now finds it impossible to change the paradigm, declare the war over, cut our defense budget in the face of national bankruptcy, and withdraw from Iraq and Afghanistan without being immediately accused of leaving America at risk. Further, the pressure upon him by Republicans and some Democratic lawmakers makes it extremely difficult to pass truly progressive legislation that does not have the approval of those who finance these law-makers. These financiers include the war-machinery manufacturers, the mass media and the financial community. They have everything at stake in this economy that spends 50% of tax revenues on making war. My God, what would happen if peace broke out? Where will we sell our cluster bombs?

Thus Obama can at best withdraw slowly and carefully from Iraq and then only if he can guarantee the war machine that it will still be able to bomb anywhere at will in the Middle East from secure bases or with conscienceless drones. Should he make any moves that threaten the “existing world order” he will confront the type of blockage he just encountered in the US Senate where Republicans and even some Democrats whittled away at his economic stimulus plan, not because they had real alternatives to offer, but merely to show they were still around and had muscle.

Retired Admiral Dennis Blair, our new director of national intelligence, warned the Senate Committee on Intelligence Feb. 12th that the deepening world capitalist crisis posed the paramount threat to US national security and warned that its continuation could trigger a return to the “violent extremism” of the 1920s and 1930s. This frank appraisal, contained in the “annual threat assessment” on behalf of 16 separate US intelligence agencies, represented a striking departure from earlier years, in which a supposedly ubiquitous threat from Al Qaeda terrorism and the two wars launched under the Bush administration topped the list of concerns. Reported by Bill Van Auken Global Research, February 14, 2009. Admiral Blair declared: “The primary near-term security concern of the United States is the global economic crisis and its geopolitical implications. The crisis has been ongoing for over a year, and economists are divided over whether and when we could hit bottom. Some even fear that the recession could further deepen and reach the level of the Great Depression. Of course, all of us recall the dramatic political consequences wrought by the economic turmoil of the 1920s and 1930s in Europe, the instability, and high levels of violent extremism.”

Banks, Technocrats and the Oligarchy – Bill Moyers

[Scale and greed are the problems. Break them up. -DS]

Go to Bill Moyers Journal

Also see The Baseline Scenario

Hat Tip Dave Pollard

What is a Transition Town?

It all starts off when a small collection of motivated individuals within a community come together with a shared concern: how can our community respond to the challenges, and opportunities, of Peak Oil and Climate Change?

They begin by forming an initiating group and then adopt the Transition Model (explained here at length, and in bits here and here) with the intention of engaging a significant proportion of the people in their community to kick off a Transition Initiative.

A Transition Initiative is a community (lots of examples here) working together to look Peak Oil and Climate Change squarely in the eye and address this BIG question:

“For all those aspects of life that this community needs in order to sustain itself and thrive, how do we significantly increase resilience (to mitigate the effects of Peak Oil) and drastically reduce carbon emissions (to mitigate the effects of Climate Change)?”

After going through a comprehensive and creative process of:

* awareness raising around peak oil, climate change and the need to undertake a community lead process to rebuild resilience and reduce carbon
* connecting with existing groups in the community
* building bridges to local government
* connecting with other transition initiatives
* forming groups to look at all the key areas of life (food, energy, transport, health, heart & soul, economics & livelihoods, etc)
* kicking off projects aimed at building people’s understanding of resilience and carbon issues and community engagement
* eventually launching a community defined, community implemented “Energy Descent Action Plan” over a 15 to 20 year timescale

This results in a coordinated range of projects across all these areas of life that strives to rebuild the resilience we’ve lost as a result of cheap oil and reduce the community’s carbon emissions drastically.

The community also recognizes two crucial points:

* that we used immense amounts of creativity, ingenuity and adaptability on the way up the energy upslope, and that there’s no reason for us not to do the same on the downslope
* if we collectively plan and act early enough there’s every likelihood that we can create a way of living that’s significantly more connected, more vibrant and more in touch with our environment than the oil-addicted treadmill that we find ourselves on today.

\\!! Final point Just to weave the climate change and peak oil situations together…

* Climate change makes this carbon reduction transition essential
* Peak oil makes it inevitable
* Transition initiatives make it feasible, viable and attractive (as far we can tell so far…)

Keep reading What is a Transition Town?

Creating a Cottage Garden

By Rosalind Creasy (1985)
Edible Landscaping

The early Puritans left their mark on us in a number of ways, some of which make life a series of joyless tasks. Sometimes I think their devotees must write garden books. The tone of many of the how-to books reeks of rules, admonitions, and dicta. How about a garden that is programmed to give you joy, to take care of you? The cottage garden is an outright celebration of what a garden can do for every part of you: colors to see, textures to touch, fragrances to smell, bird calls to hear, and myriad tastes for the palate. And, of course, we can’t forget the most important part, your soul. You will experience the renewal of life, that primordial urge to believe in the future. You will put your fingers on the emerging carrot seedlings, anticipate the taste of the first tomato, and feel delight when the hummingbird visits the sage and the monarch butterfly sips from the dew collected by the nasturtium leaf.

I am suggesting that you plant a rather hedonistic variation of the traditional mixed border. Put it where you usually see a conventional shrub or flower border—along a fence line for instance, or along a walk or driveway, next to the patio, or along shallow hillsides. Fill it with joy, with colors, tastes, fragrances and even tactile pleasures—a swath of flowers and foliage.

The mixed border, sometimes called the perennial border since it usually includes a large number of perennially blooming plants, has been in fashion since the late nineteenth century. It has its roots in the English cottage garden, and, at its best, the border is a subtle work of form, texture, and color—all used to together to delight the soul. Properly planned, the border changes with the seasons.

Traditionally the staples in the mixed border were non-edible flowers, mostly perennials, with a sprinkling of annuals for quick color. Popular perennial flower choices for this type of ornamental border were iris, peony, phlox, dalia, dais, chrysanthemum, poppy, and the like. A new variation in today’s perennial border is the addition of beautiful edibles such as ruby chard and flowering kale; plus a number of savory and attractive herbs such as variegated sage and dill; edible flowers such as nasturtium and carnation for your salads and desserts; and, to add still another dimension, fragrance, choose sweet-smelling lavender and stock. For many more choices, see the lists of flowers and beautiful edibles below.

Keep reading Creating a Cottage Garden at Organic To Be

Ukiah Tree General Public Meeting Tuesday 2/24/09, 5:15 pm (Updated)

From Linda Sanders
Friends of Gibson Creek

2/19/09 Ukiah, California (updated) I just finished this amazing book by Thomas Pakenham, Remarkable Trees of the World. A self described “tree hunter” and renowned botanist traveled to the remotest parts of the world and to teeming metropolis’s to capture unique, rare or endangered trees with his 30 lb. Linhof camera. Pakenham winnowed down hundreds of pictures and chose sixty individual/groups of trees using three principles. Each tree must be on its feet, dead or alive, have a strong personality, and have a good face. Seven of those pictures were taken in California. Those trees you’ve gazed upon, talked to or maybe even hugged are in this book.

What about the lovely, stately and unique trees in our little town? Well there are less of them now. The Ukiah Community Forest Management Plan calls for protection and maintenance of our urban forest. Wednesday night, the Ukiah City Council voted 4 to 1 to change the language in the animal code from owner to caretaker. Essentially, the caretaker is responsible for their dog or cat. The impetus for this change was to increase compassion towards animals, by changing the language you change human behavior. The original request was to move from “owner” to “guardian” but the Council determined “caretaker” was the least controversial term. My dictionary defines caretaker as a person employed to look after or take charge of goods, property, or a person. I think guardian is a much better word choice. One who guards, protects or defends creature, person, tree.

Is the City of Ukiah a responsible caretaker of our urban forest? Please come to a public meeting between Friends of Gibson Creek, ReLeaf, and the City this Tuesday, February 24th at 5:15pm at the City Annex (on the North side of the Civic Center), it will be an opportunity to clarify existing City policies regarding trees and chart any new directions. Council member Mary Anne Landis is facilitating the meeting. If you wish to attend and want to review the City tree-related documents ahead of time then send me an e-mail and I will forward them to you.


Banking on Credit Unions

By Ralph Nader

While the reckless giant banks are shattering like an over-heated glacier day by day, the nation’s credit unions are a relative island of calm largely apart from the vortex of casino capitalism.

Eighty five million Americans belong to credit unions which are not-for-profit cooperatives owned by their members who are depositors and borrowers. Your neighborhood or workplace credit union did not invest in these notorious speculative derivatives nor did they offer people “teaser rates” to sign on for a home mortgage they could not afford.

Ninety one percent of the 8,000 credit unions are reporting greater overall growth in mortgage lending than any other kinds of consumer loans they are extending. They are federally insured by the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) for up to $250,000 per account, such as the FDIC does for depositors in commercial banks.

They are well-capitalized because of regulation and because they do not have an incentive to go for high-risk, highly leveraged speculation to increase stock values and the value of the bosses’ stock options as do the commercial banks.

Credit Unions have no shareholders nor stock nor stock options; they are responsible to their owner-members who are their customers.

There are even some special low-income credit unions-thought not nearly enough-to stimulate economic activities in these communities and to provide “banking” services in areas where poor people can’t afford or are not provided services by commercial banks.

According to Mike Schenk, an economist with the Credit Union National Association, there is another reason why credit unions avoided the mortgage debacle that is consuming the big banks.

Credit Unions, he says, are “portfolio lenders. That means they hold in their portfolios most of the loans they originate instead of selling them to investors….so they care about the financial performance of those loans.”

Keep reading Banking on Credit Unions at Common Dreams
Hat tip to Janie Sheppard and Dan Hamburg

See also Mendo-Lake Credit Union

What shall we eat?

From Don Sanderson

2/20/09 Ukiah, California At the beginning of the week of Feb. 14, George Wills loosed a column entitled “Dark Doom Sayers” informing us that global warming is a myth, disdaining Energy Secretary Stephan Chu’s comments on the effects resulting desertification would have on our food supplies, and mocking Science Advisor John Holdren who has similar concerns. Wills asserted he had scientific foundations for his conclusions, so who can dispute with him? We want to believe. Indeed, it doesn’t require much effort to find Wills is preaching nonsense.

Wills began by referring to a report from the University of Illinois’ Arctic Climate Research Center (ACRC), global sea ice levels now equal those of 1979 and that Arctic sea ice had been rapidly increasing. The ACRC staff quickly replied on their web site: “We do not know where George Will is getting his information, but our data shows that on February 15, 1979, global sea ice area was 16.79 million sq. km and on February 15, 2009, global sea ice area was 15.45 million sq. km. Therefore, global sea ice levels are 1.34 million sq. km less in February 2009 than in February 1979. This decrease in sea ice area is roughly equal to the area of Texas, California, and Oklahoma combined.” Arctic sea ice expanded at near-record rates of October and November, which Wills’ claimed supported his points. In fact, the rate than slowed and present coverage is somewhat less than last year at this time, roughly 13 million sq. km.

He then quoted the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) to the effect that global temperatures had not increased in the last twenty years. In fact, the WMO reported “The global mean surface temperature for 2007 was estimated at 0.41°C/0.74°F above the 1961-1990 annual average of 14.00°C/57.20°F.” “In January and April 2007 it is likely that global land surface temperatures ranked warmest since records began in 1880, 1.89°C warmer than average for January and 1.37°C warmer than average for April.”


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