The Book Dealer – Larry McMurtry’s Grand Obsession


From DANIEL BARTH
Ukiah Valley
Originally appeared in…
The Redwood Coast Review (pdf)

July 17, 2009 Ukiah Valley, Mendocino County, North California

Larry McMurtry is one of the most prolific and successful modern American writers. Primarily a novelist—The Last Picture Show, Terms of Endearment, Lonesome Dove and twenty-seven others—he has also written eight books of essays, a biography, numerous books reviews and, by his count, 70 screenplays (most notably, with Diana Ossana, the Golden Globe and Academy Award winning Brokeback Mountain). But to hear him tell it, in Books: A Memoir, all this scribbling has been merely a sideline to his primary pursuit—the buying and selling of books.

From his early days as a graduate student at Rice University and as a Wallace Stegner Fellow at Stanford—in the famous class with Ken Kesey, Wendell Berry, Peter Beagle and others—McMurtry was in the habit of “book scouting,” prowling local used book shops for bargains he could sell elsewhere at a profit. Malcolm Cowley, a visiting professor at Stanford in the fall of 1960, writes about this in his memoir, The Flower and the Leaf:

“It was a pretty brilliant class that year, including as it did some professional writers

How Masonite Monster Mall’s Developer DDR Treats Small Town Folks Like Us


From Daily News of Newburyport

July 17, 2009 Ukiah Valley, Mendocino County, North California

Town sued on denial of Monster Mall Plans

SEABROOK — An Ohio-based shopping center giant is suing the town over the Planning Board’s denial of its proposal to build a 500,000-square-foot retail outlet in town.

The shopping center, which planned to have a Target store as its anchor, would have been the largest in Greater Newburyport, and more than twice as large as Newburyport’s Port Plaza. It would have been located just to the northeast of the busy intersection of Routes 1 and 107.

The town was served notice of the lawsuit yesterday. The more than 60-page brief and its attachments were filed with Rockingham County Superior Court on June 17, according to the stamp on the document, within the 30-day appeal window of the Planning Board’s May 19 denial.

In the brief, Developers Diversified Realty attorney Malcolm McNeill Jr. wrote: “The Planning Board in denying (DDR’s) request for site review approval for its retail shopping center was unlawful and unreasonable and the product of bad faith by the Planning Board, and was arbitrary, capricious and confiscatory.”

Where I lived, and what I lived for – Henry David Thoreau


From Henry David Thoreau

July 16, 2009 Ukiah Valley, Mendocino County, North California

I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.

I did not wish to live what was not life, living is so dear; nor did I wish to practise resignation, unless it was quite necessary. I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life, to live so sturdily and Spartan-like as to put to rout all that was not life, to cut a broad swath and shave close, to drive life into a corner, and reduce it to its lowest terms, and, if it proved to be mean, why then to get the whole and genuine meanness of it, and publish its meanness to the world; or if it were sublime, to know it by experience, and be able to give a true account of it in my next excursion. For most men, it appears to me, are in a strange uncertainty about it, whether it is of the devil or of God, and have somewhat hastily concluded that it is the chief end of man here to “glorify God and enjoy him forever.”

Keep reading at The Thoreau Reader

The Agrarian Standard – Wendell Berry


From Wendell Berry
Orion Magazine

July 16, 2009 Ukiah Valley, Mendocino County, North California

The Unsettling of America was published twenty-five years ago; it is still in print and is still being read. As its author, I am tempted to be glad of this, and yet, if I believe what I said in that book, and I still do, then I should be anything but glad. The book would have had a far happier fate if it could have been disproved or made obsolete years ago.

It remains true because the conditions it describes and opposes, the abuses of farmland and farming people, have persisted and become worse over the last twenty-five years. In 2002 we have less than half the number of farmers in the United States that we had in 1977. Our farm communities are far worse off now than they were then. Our soil erosion rates continue to be unsustainably high. We continue to pollute our soils and streams with agricultural poisons. We continue to lose farmland to urban development of the most wasteful sort. The large agribusiness corporations that were mainly national in 1977 are now global, and are replacing the world’s agricultural diversity, which was useful primarily to farmers and local consumers, with bioengineered and patented monocultures that are merely profitable to corporations. The purpose of this now global economy, as Vandana Shiva has rightly said, is to replace “food democracy” with a worldwide “food dictatorship.”

To be an agrarian writer in such a time is an odd experience. One keeps writing essays and speeches that one would prefer not to write, that one wishes would prove unnecessary, that one hopes nobody will have any need for in twenty-five years.

Keep reading at Orion

Death of the Category Killers


By Stacy Mitchell
New Rules Project

July 15, 2009 Ukiah Valley, Mendocino County, North California

Borders Books is on “death watch,” according to one industry observer. Virgin shut down its last U.S. record store this month. Office Depot and Staples are struggling. Circuit City is gone. Best Buy has launched a desperate ad campaign.

The specialty chains that grew so aggressively in the 1990s and early 2000s — the so-called “category killers” that bankrupted thousands of independent businesses — are now themselves rapidly losing ground to a handful of giant mass merchandisers, namely Wal-Mart, Amazon, Target, and Costco.

While the decline of independent businesses has leveled off and many are finding ways to survive and even thrive by building local business alliances and emphasizing their community roots, the rest of the retail sector is undergoing dramatic consolidation as a small number of massive companies become ever more dominant. This is an ominous trend for manufacturers and consumers, and it exposes serious flaws in U.S. antitrust policy.

Books as Loss Leaders

“For much of 2008, the industry focused its attention on the viability of the struggling Borders, but Barnes & Noble faces many of the very same issues,” wrote Peter Olson, the former CEO of Random House, earlier this year in Publishers Weekly. Olson predicts that the two chains will continue to lose ground, struggle to finance their inventories, and be forced to close outlets.

Big-box mass merchandisers, like Wal-Mart, Target, and Costco, have taken over 30 percent of the book market. These chains are now selling as many books as Barnes & Noble and Borders.

‘Localwashing’ Corporations Move to Co-opt Consumers Desire to Buy ‘Local’ & Sustainable Products & Services


By Stacy Mitchell
New Rules Project

With Americans’ new focus on buying products made close to home, corporations are moving quickly to co-opt the term “local.” But if everything is local, is anything local?

[This is why we use the terms “locally-owned” and “independent”, and why we need a local currency that circulates only in locally-owned, independent businesses. -DS]

July 15, 2009 Ukiah Valley, Mendocino County, North California

HSBC calls itself “the world’s local bank,” which belies the intent of the “local” movement, a campaign to urge consumers to buy locally produced goods and support independent businesses in their hometowns.

HSBC, one of the biggest banks on the planet, has taken to calling itself “the world’s local bank.” Winn-Dixie, a 500-outlet supermarket chain, recently launched a new ad campaign under the tagline, “Local flavor since 1956.” The International Council of Shopping Centers, a global consortium of mall owners and developers, is pouring millions of dollars into television ads urging people to “Shop Local” — at their nearest mall. Even Walmart is getting in on the act, hanging bright green banners over its produce aisles that simply say “Local.”

This new variation on corporate greenwashing — localwashing — is, like the buy-local movement itself, most advanced in the context of food. Hellmann’s, the mayonnaise brand owned by the processed-food giant Unilever, is test-driving a new “Eat Real, Eat Local” initiative in Canada. The ad campaign seems aimed partly at enhancing the brand by simply associating Hellmann’s with local food.

Ukiah Farmer’s Market Saturday 7/18/09 – Food Bank Drive



From SCOTT CRATTY
Ukiah

July 17, 2009 Ukiah Valley, Mendocino County, North California

Friends of the Farmers’ Market, Greetings!

This weekend is the Saturday Farmers’ Market week to adopt the Ukiah Food Bank. Community group Yes, We Can! is pitching in to help get the word out and will be collecting donations under the pavilion along Clay St.  Please consider buying a bit extra to donate or bringing along a can of veggies that you can live without.  Tough times are made a bit easier when we share the load. Please pitch in and come find out about Yes, We Can!  Spread the word.

New hot food vendor Harbor Lights from Lake Co didn’t quite make it last week, but they are planning to join us this weekend with Native American fry bread (with various toppings), fruit cups, clam chowder and fried cinnamon roll surprise.

Anyone in the area growing excess greens?  The Westside Renaissance Market is looking for a local supplier of lettuce and/or salad mix. Now, for your reading pleasure, the Lazy Gardener Blog
~~

Forget Shorter Showers: Why Personal Change Does Not Equal Political Change – Derrick Jensen


From ANNIE ESPOSITO
Ukiah

July 15, 2009 Ukiah Valley, Mendocino County, North California

[We often hear about change starting from within.  We change ourselves and it manifests outward in ripples that begin change for the world.  But the reality is that no matter how virtuous we are as individuals, or think we are, effective change needs to be systemic.  Ecologist Derrick Jensen is circulating an essay making that point – we need to go after corporate power to create real change.  And it’s dangerous, but necessary. -AE]

[Todd Walton and Annie exchange comments about this article in the Comments section below. Your thoughts? -DS]
~

Would any sane person think dumpster diving would have stopped Hitler, or that composting would have ended slavery or brought about the eight-hour workday, or that chopping wood and carrying water would have gotten people out of Tsarist prisons, or that dancing naked around a fire would have helped put in place the Voting Rights Act of 1957 or the Civil Rights Act of 1964? Then why now, with all the world at stake, do so many people retreat into these entirely personal “solutions”?

Part of the problem is that we’ve been victims of a campaign of systematic misdirection. Consumer culture and the capitalist mindset have taught us to substitute acts of personal consumption (or enlightenment) for organized political resistance. An Inconvenient Truth helped raise consciousness about global warming. But did you notice that all of the solutions presented had to do with personal consumption

Small Scale Grain Raising: Revisiting a Classic


From GENE LOGSDON

July 14, 2009 Ukiah Valley, Mendocino County, North California

Not many writers get a chance to revise a book that they wrote thirty years earlier. There’s an eeriness to it. I feel like Rip Van Winkle—like I fell asleep out in my corn patch and, when I woke up, things looked about like always, but it wasn’t even the same century anymore.

The satisfying part of this eerie feeling is that much of what I said on the subject of small-scale grain raising thirty years ago is more current now than it was then. The pancake patch has come of age. If that sounds like a brag, I’ll not apologize. To all those agribusiness experts who ridiculed my call to garden grains thirty years ago, I now draw myself up in pompous self-righteousness, stick out my tongue, and gloat as sickeningly as possible.

Seriously, though, I have little justification for gloating. Much of the credit goes to an editor and dear friend whom I worked under at Rodale Press, Jerry Goldstein. A book about garden grains was more his idea than mine. Although I was already doing most of the things I would write about in the book, I did not think very many other people were that crazy. I was raised up in the generation that decided farmers had to get big or get out, that local gristmills like the water-powered “Indian Mill” of my boyhood, had faded away into ancient history (it’s actually a museum now), and that local bakeries like Neumeisters’ in my hometown were gone for good. One of the fond memories of my youth was fishing below the dam at Indian Mill and being in town about four o’clock in the afternoon when the bread was coming out of Neumeisters’ ovens. That heavenly smell would float all over the village. Made me weak in the knees.

There’s only one: Authentically unique Ukiah


by LOUISA ARONOW
Redwood Valley
Ukiah Daily Journal 7/12/09

July 14, 2009 Ukiah Valley, Mendocino County, North California

In the summer of 2002 my family and I took a car trip from Massachusetts to California. I was curious to see how the many towns and cities we visited along the way might reflect the incredible beauty of the vast and varied landscapes we passed through, so I decided to search for those elements that make a place authentically unique. I wondered what features might distinguish one town from others. Were there interesting restaurants, architecture, stores, parks, historical places, vegetation, or anything special I wouldn’t see in other regions of the USA? How does a town represent its inhabitants and the land from which it grew?

My entertaining investigation became sadder and sadder and we visited more small cities and found nothing authentically unique. Most cities consisted of the same franchise businesses by the highways or interstates, and a depleted downtown. Sometimes the downtown included city and county offices, but all included many empty buildings.

One small city we stopped in was a rural county seat; I wondered if it would be similar to Ukiah. The downtown had many elegant old three-story buildings, with copper trim and sculptures, but it seemed to be a ghost town. In the late afternoon, no humans were in sight and our footsteps echoed in the canyon-like streets. I felt that the heart and guts had been ripped out of the city. There was activity in the chain stores and restaurants by the interstate exit, but the shopping center included nothing authentically unique.

The few exceptions were the places that had preserved a bit of history to attract tourists. It was interesting to learn a few tidbits of history across the US (especially the sod house in Kansas), but it didn’t seem that the attractions were interesting for local people.

Monster Mall Ukiah: Another Snake Oil Letter to the Editor


From DAVE SMITH
Ukiah

July 13, 2009 Ukiah Valley, Mendocino County, North California

Editor – Ukiah Daily Journal:

In her letter to the editor titled Still Shopping in Santa Rosa (UDJ Sunday, July 12) a writer asks “Why is Ukiah so afraid of allowing this town to grow?” and then proceeds to cheer the Masonite Monster Mall Big Box Stores. She states “If we don’t let a few of them in, then we will have to go to Santa Rosa to shop and spend our hard earned money, it won’t be spent in Ukiah.” This argument continues to be put forward in the paper even though it continues to be countered with facts. This is the old Big Lie tactic of repeating falsities over and over, hoping to win over those who are not paying close attention.

OK, I’ll counter it again. The City of Ukiah is not afraid of growing. It has set aside properly zoned land in the City for more retail stores. They recently purchased even more land for retail. That is where retail for Ukiah and the surrounding area belongs, with its appropriate requirements of environmental, design, and traffic impact reviews and requirements. The Masonite site should not be rezoned for retail because it is properly zoned for green industrial, better-paying jobs, which the Obama administration is intent on helping us create.

Just the facts, ma’am.
Image Credit: Evan Johnson
~
See also Big Box Mart cartoon
~~

Book Reviews: The Delights of Rural Life



By Jane Ciabattari
TruthDig

June 13, 2009 Ukiah Valley, Mendocino County, North California

As Alice Waters hovers in the wings as a muse for the Obama era, inspiring the White House garden and healthy school lunches, the fantasy of a pastoral life far from derivatives and emissions and other excreta of our times abounds. Right on track are these two memoirs—journalist Jonah Raskin’s “Field Days: A Year of Farming, Eating, and Drinking Wine in California,” an account of organic farming in Sonoma County, and novelist Brad Kessler’s “Goat Song: A Seasonal Life, a Short History of Herding, and the Art of Making Cheese,” a chronicle of learning to raise goats and make cheese on a farm in Vermont.

Each provides vicarious and delicious adventures for those of us more likely to buy locally at farm stands or plant a garden patch than respond to the call of the land at full bore.

In the process of writing these memoirs, both Raskin and Kessler made drastic shifts in daily routine, and followed an imperative to digest a universe of new information, much of it nonverbal. Paramount for each was a personal quest—for healthier living, for connection to the land, for simplicity—or, possibly, simply for peace and quiet.

Raskin, author of “The Radical Jack London” and “American Scream: Allen Ginsberg’s ‘Howl’ and the Making of the Beat Generation,” sketches Northern California’s organic farming lineage quickly, beginning with Jack and Charmian London, who settled in Sonoma’s legendary Valley of the Moon in 1906 and grew much of their own food. He includes Warren Weber of Marin County’s Star Route Farm, and makes it clear that Sonoma County’s farms have supplied Alice Waters’ restaurant kitchen for decades and impressed Carlo Petrini, founder of the Slow Food movement

Keep reading at TruthDig
~~

Prince Charles: Just 96 months to save the world


By Robert Verkaik
The Independent

July 13, 2009 Ukiah Valley, Mendocino County, North California

The price of capitalism and consumerism is just too high, he tells industrialists

Capitalism and consumerism have brought the world to the brink of economic and environmental collapse, the Prince of Wales has warned in a grandstand speech which set out his concerns for the future of the planet.

The heir to the throne told an audience of industrialists and environmentalists at St James’s Palace last night that he had calculated that we have just 96 months left to save the world.

And in a searing indictment on capitalist society, Charles said we can no longer afford consumerism and that the “age of convenience” was over.

The Prince, who has spoken passionately about the environment before, said that if the world failed to heed his warnings then we all faced the “nightmare that for so many of us now looms on the horizon”.

Charles’s speech was described as his first attempt to present a coherent philosophy in which he placed the threat to the environment in the context of a failing economic system.

The Prince, who is advised by the leading environmentalists Jonathon Porritt and Tony Juniper, said that even the economist Adam Smith, father of modern capitalism, had been aware of the short-comings of unfettered materialism.

Keep reading at The Independent
~~

Some Choice Words for the ‘Select Few’



by Bill Moyers and Michael Winship
Common Dreams

July 11, 2009 Ukiah, Mendocino County, North California

If you want to know what really matters in Washington, don’t go to Capitol Hill for one of those hearings, or pay attention to those staged White House “town meetings.” They’re just for show. What really happens — the serious business of Washington — happens in the shadows, out of sight, off the record. Only occasionally — and usually only because someone high up stumbles — do we get a glimpse of just how pervasive the corruption has become.

Case in point: Katharine Weymouth, the publisher of The Washington Post — one of the most powerful people in DC — invited top officials from the White House, the Cabinet and Congress to her home for an intimate, off-the-record dinner to discuss health care reform with some of her reporters and editors covering the story.

But CEO’s and lobbyists from the health care industry were invited, too, provided they forked over $25,000 a head — or up to a quarter of a million if they want to sponsor a whole series of these cozy get-togethers. And what is the inducement offered? Nothing less, the invitation read, than “an exclusive opportunity to participate in the health-care reform debate among the select few who will get it done.”

The invitation reminds the CEO’s and lobbyists that they will be buying access to “those powerful few in business and policy making who are forwarding, legislating and reporting on the issues…

“Spirited? Yes. Confrontational? No.” The invitation promises this private, intimate and off-the-record dinner is an extension “of The Washington Post brand of journalistic inquiry into the issues, a unique opportunity for stakeholders to hear and be heard.”

Let that sink in. In this case, the “stakeholders” in health care reform do not include the rabble… Keep reading at Common Dreams

Dollars with Good Sense: DIY Cash


From Yes! Magazine
by Judith Schwartz

July 10, 2009 Ukiah, Mendocino County, North California

Local currencies value time, build community, and keep business moving even when credit dries up.

Total dependence on one currency is like total dependence on one crop, or, for that matter, a single energy source: there’s always the risk that crop failure or a cutoff in supply will topple the whole system. This is the scenario we’re seeing now—credit has dried up and unemployment is soaring. In small pockets throughout the world, in rural areas and inner cities, and spots as far-flung as Bavaria and Thailand to Massachusetts and Michigan, people are responding by launching their own currencies. Such monetary renegades are not simply thumbing their noses at the dollar (or the yen, or the euro, or the baht…) They are making a carefully considered choice to promote the well-being of their communities.

“From the beginning we had two objectives—to promote the region and promote local charities,” says Christian Gelleri. In 2003, Gelleri and a group of his students at a Waldorf School developed the Chiemgauer currency in the Lake Chiemsee region of Bavaria, Germany. Since then, some 3 million Chiemgauer notes (equivalent in value to the euro) have been placed in circulation. The currency, accepted by 600 businesses in the region, typically is spent and spent again 18 times a year, three times more than the Euro. This means that the currency is encouraging trade and cooperation in the region, which keeps the shops and restaurants

Busted: 9 Economy Myths


From Yes! Magazine

July 10, 2009 Ukiah, Mendocino County, North California

Reinflate the old economy? Get Real!

NEW ECONOMY, NEW WAYS TO DO MONEY

Stephanie McMillan for YES! Magazine The measure of a healthy economy is a growing GDP.
Stephanie McMillan for YES! Magazine A healthy economy meets real needs within ecological limits.
Stephanie McMillan for YES! Magazine All you need is money.
Stephanie McMillan for YES! Magazine You can’t eat money. What we need is healthy families, communities, and ecosystems.
Stephanie McMillan for YES! Magazine Booms and busts are inevitable in a modern economy.
Stephanie McMillan for YES! Magazine The boom/bust cycle is a result of letting banks create money.

Ukiah Farmer’s Market Saturday 7/11/09


Yoshiki Sakane, owner of Oco Time in Ukiah, and his new solar car

From SCOTT CRATTY
Ukiah

July 8, 2009 Ukiah, Mendocino County, North California

Friends of the Market

Greetings!  Another action-packed market this weekend.

For starters, I expect two all-new vendors. Amanda Lilikoi will be trying to tempt you with her plant starts and early veggies.  Also, Harbor Lights from Lake Co will be trying their luck at the market with some hot food items.  Their menu plan includes Native American fry bread (with various toppings), fruit cups, clam chowder and fried cinnamon roll surprise.  Now there’s something a bit different.  Lorena Caldrea will also be returning to the market for the 1st time this season with her Talmage-grown produce. After two weeks off both John Ford Ranch and Mendocino Organics will be back with beef and chicken, respectively.

At Saturday’s farmers’ market we have, as usual, lots going on.  For starters, just a bit after 10 am we will have the second in this season’s series of Ukiah Natural Foods Co-op sponsored cooking demonstrations.  Come and meet Julia Kendrick Conway of Assaggiare Mendocino, which supports real food for real people.  Plus, Diamond Edge Sharpening will be on hand at the market. Bring your knives, scissors and tools (but no saws, please),

At about 10:30 we will have the next installment of A Child, A Dog and A Good Book,

FDR’s Economic Bill of Rights


From DAVE SMITH
Ukiah

July 9, 2009 Ukiah, Mendocino County, North California

Excerpt from January 11, 1944 message to Congress on the State of the Union

It is our duty now to begin to lay the plans and determine the strategy for the winning of a lasting peace and the establishment of an American standard of living higher than ever before known. We cannot be content, no matter how high that general standard of living may be, if some fraction of our people—whether it be one-third or one-fifth or one-tenth—is ill-fed, ill-clothed, ill-housed, and insecure.

This Republic had its beginning, and grew to its present strength, under the protection of certain inalienable political rights—among them the right of free speech, free press, free worship, trial by jury, freedom from unreasonable searches and seizures. They were our rights to life and liberty.

As our nation has grown in size and stature, however—as our industrial economy expanded—these political rights proved inadequate to assure us equality in the pursuit of happiness.

We have come to a clear realization of the fact that true individual freedom cannot exist without economic security and independence.

People Power Pushed the New Deal


by Sarah Anderson
Yes Magazine

July 9, 2009 Ukiah, Mendocino County, North California

Roosevelt didn’t come up with all those progressive programs on his own.

During the Great Depression, my grandfather ran a butter creamery in rural Minnesota. Growing up, I heard how a group of farmers stormed in one day and threatened to burn the place down if he didn’t stop production. I had no idea who those farmers were or why they had done that—it was just a colorful story.

Now I know that they were with the Farmers’ Holiday Association, a protest movement that flourished in the Midwest in 1932 and 1933. They were best known for organizing “penny auctions,” where hundreds of farmers would show up at a foreclosure sale, intimidate potential bidders, buy the farm themselves for a pittance, and return it to the original owner (see photo above where farmers crowd around the auctioneer at a foreclosure sale in Nebraska.)

The action in my grandfather’s creamery was part of a withholding strike. By choking off delivery and processing of food, the Farmers’ Holiday Association aimed to boost pressure for legislation to ensure that farmers would make a reasonable profit for their goods. Prices were so low that farmers were dumping milk and burning corn for fuel or leaving it in the field.

Book Review of Telex From Cuba


From New York Times
Author is daughter of locals Peter and Pinky Kushner
Now Available in Paperback

July 8, 2009 Ukiah, Mendocino County, North California

In the early 1950s, a doll called Scribbles shook up the toy industry. Her face had no features of its own but could be sketched on with a special marker, washed clean and drawn on again. Creepy as this may sound, she’s a handy metaphor for creating a self in an uncertain environment like the one in Rachel Kushner’s multilayered and absorbing first novel, “Telex From Cuba.” Here a little American girl plays with her Scribbles the way Madame Defarge knits, while the international drifters around her settle in to bury pasts that include murder, adultery and neurotic meltdown. Meanwhile, Cuba itself is being remade; President Prio is replaced by the Americans’ favorite, Batista, and the Castro brothers gather revolutionaries in the hills of Oriente Province.

For the last half-century, Cuba has been America’s cultural Other, a nearby example of what capitalists dread most (Communism! revolution! beards!). But before that, it was America’s outpost. Most of Kushner’s story takes place in the sweltering canebrakes and comfortable homes

The Local Multiplier Effect




Take Action! Boycott the Shameless Seven – Organic Outlaws Labeling Factory Farm Milk as ‘USDA Organic’


From Organic Consumers Association

July 7, 2009 Ukiah, Mendocino County, North California

While USDA bureaucrats drag their feet on closing key loopholes in national organic organic standards, retailers, wholesalers and major “organic” brands are continuing to sell milk and dairy products labeled as “USDA Organic, even though most or all of their milk is coming from factory farm feedlots where the animals have been brought in from conventional farms and are kept in intensive confinement, with little or no access to pasture.

The Organic Consumers Association is expanding its boycott of Horizon and Aurora organic dairy products to include five national “private label” organic milk brands supplied by Aurora, as well as two leading organic soy products, Silk and White Wave, owned by Horizon’s parent company, Dean Foods. Its time to turn up the heat on the “Shameless Seven.

While thousands of organic consumers and a number of natural food stores and cooperatives have joined the boycott, major national large grocery retailers have ignored the boycott.

Aurora Organic supplies milk for several private label organic milk brands,

Ron Lippert: The Monster Mall’s Worst Nightmare


From JANIE SHEPPARD
Mendocino County

July 7, 2009 Ukiah, Mendocino County, North California

In its campaign to make the idea of a mega mall on the old Masonite site attractive to county voters, DDR (Developers Diversified Realty) didn’t count on Ron Lippert. Turning up at a focus group, Wednesday, July 1, in Ukiah at the Hampton Inn, Lippert and 11 other gentlemen were paid $50 each to let Nichols Research, Inc., a Fresno-based research outfit, pick their brains and shape their opinions.

In a phone conversation with Lippert, he told me how it unfolded. For starters, 9 participants initially favored DDR’s plan for the mega mall, 2 were neutral, and 1 (Lippert) was opposed.

The process began with the participants registering their awareness of local institutions and personalities by using a hand held device akin to a game boy toy. The results are revealing. A third did not recognize the names of the members of the Board of Supervisors.

Monster Mall Letter to the Editors


From DAVE SMITH
Ukiah

July 6, 2009 Ukiah, Mendocino County, North California

Editor:

In his diatribe against our Ukiah City Councilors who dared vote 5-0 opposing the Masonite Monster Mall, the letter writer (UDJ July 6) asks “why there is this vehement opposition” and “how arrogant is it for an elected body to pass a resolution opposing something that was (sic) passed by popular vote?”

Well, sir, it is the arrogance of democracy and the law. Elected officials are voted by the populace to represent and lead their community. And the reason there is vehement opposition is because the initiative process, bought and paid for by a huge outside corporation, bypasses the legal zoning rights and environmental reviews required by local zoning ordinances democratically set up by our community of citizens to protect ourselves.

You go on to suggest that they should come up with a “plan to patrol” the project, rather than oppose it. Having just chastised our officials for wanting to enforce local laws, one wonders what silly, powerless patrols you would suggest?
~~

Janie attends the Fourth of July Parade in Mendocino and brings back photos


From JANIE SHEPPARD
Mendocino County

July 6, 2009 Ukiah, Mendocino County, North California

Sitting at the intersection of Lansing and Lake Streets in Mendocino, Bill, dogs Heidi and Jerry, and I watched the Fourth of July parade in Mendocino.  Here are some of the photos…

Art Activist

Banana Slug For Peace

There’s No Such Thing as Local vs. Organic Food


By Timothy J. LaSalle
Rodale Institute
Via Organic Consumers Association

July 6, 2009 Ukiah, Mendocino County, North California

Let’s clear up one issue: There is no such thing as local vs. organic. When it comes to consumer choice, we should be buying local and organic, though for mostly different reasons.

Why We Should Buy Local
Local is really important as a deep investment into your local economy and developing a relationship with the person who produces your food. Not only do local businesses generate more local income, jobs, and tax receipts, but they also tend to utilize advertizing, banks, and services in the local community. In fact, a dollar spent at a local business turns over seven times in that community; while the same dollar spent at a box store or chain only turns over 2.5 times.

Buying locally builds a healthy community on many levels. (For case studies on the economic, social, and environmental impacts of buying local visit the Business Alliance for Local Living Economies). Not only can you support the economic health of your community and offer security to your hardworking neighbors, but you can eliminate the uncertainties of agribusiness by talking to your farmer and seeing first-hand how your food is produced.

It is also helpful in being able to purchase food that is often fresher. What’s more is buying local can create local food security, which may become more and more important in the near future. We at Rodale Institute couldn’t be more enthusiastic about local.

Considering the Carbon Footprint of Food
In this conversation, food carbon footprint often arises. However, the most carbon intensive portion of food production and consumption, outside of driving to the store and putting the food in your refrigerator, is the farming methods. The amount of carbon dioxide that is released into the atmosphere varies widely with regard to the manner in which the food is grown. Because the manufacture of chemical fertilizers and other conventional farming inputs are reliant upon vast amounts of fossil fuel, the food you eat (local or not) can account for huge levels of carbon dioxide (CO2) releases. According to a recent New York Times article about Tropicana orange juice, fertilizers alone contribute to nearly 60% of the CO2 emitted in production. Conventional chemical-based agriculture is a net emitter of CO2 and by some estimates contributes between 9 – 20% of our total greenhouse gases in the U.S.

On the other hand, non-chemical organic farming will pull carbon dioxide right out of the atmosphere and hold it in the soil for decades. As a matter of fact, research at Rodale Institute that has now been replicated at several land grant universities, shows that over 3.5 tons of CO2 can be sequestered on well-managed organic soils using compost and no chemical inputs. Synthetic fertilizers and many pesticides used in conventional farming inhibit the biological factors that build soil carbon, which adds to the long-term destruction of soils.

Why We Should Buy Organic
If we converted all tillable acres globally to organic practices, we could sequester up to 40% of all the world’s carbon emissions. This is the single largest strategy for mitigating carbon dioxide. There is nothing more significant to help us in our crisis with climate. In the U.S. alone,

Goldman Sachs owns our government and we’re the suckers


From Rolling Stone Magazine

Matt Taibbi on how Goldman Sachs has engineered every major market manipulation since the Great Depression

[…] What you need to know is the big picture: If America is circling the drain, Goldman Sachs has found a way to be that drain — an extremely unfortunate loophole in the system of Western democratic capitalism, which never foresaw that in a society governed passively by free markets and free elections, organized greed always defeats disorganized democracy.

They achieve this using the same playbook over and over again. The formula is relatively simple: Goldman positions itself in the middle of a speculative bubble, selling investments they know are crap. Then they hoover up vast sums from the middle and lower floors of society with the aid of a crippled and corrupt state that allows it to rewrite the rules in exchange for the relative pennies the bank throws at political patronage. Finally, when it all goes bust, leaving millions of ordinary citizens broke and starving, they begin the entire process over again, riding in to rescue us all by lending us back our own money at interest, selling themselves as men above greed, just a bunch of really smart guys keeping the wheels greased. They’ve been pulling this same stunt over and over since the 1920s — and now they’re preparing to do it again, creating what may be the biggest and most audacious bubble yet…

Goldman’s role in the sweeping global disaster that was the housing bubble is not hard to trace. Here again, the basic trick was a decline in underwriting standards, although in this case the standards weren’t in IPOs but in mortgages. By now almost everyone knows that for decades mortgage dealers insisted that home buyers be able to produce a down payment of 10 percent or more, show a steady income and good credit rating, and possess a real first and last name. Then, at the dawn of the new millennium, they suddenly threw all that shit out the window and started writing mortgages on the backs of napkins to cocktail waitresses and ex-cons carrying five bucks and a Snickers bar.

And what caused the huge spike in oil prices? Take a wild guess. Obviously Goldman had help — there were other players in the physical-commodities market — but the root cause had almost everything to do with the behavior of a few powerful actors determined to turn the once-solid market into a speculative casino. Goldman did it by persuading pension funds and other large institutional investors to invest in oil futures — agreeing to buy oil at a certain price on a fixed date. The push transformed oil from a physical commodity, rigidly subject to supply and demand, into something to bet on, like a stock. Between 2003 and 2008, the amount of speculative money in commodities grew from $13 billion to $317 billion, an increase of 2,300 percent. By 2008, a barrel of oil was traded 27 times, on average, before it was actually delivered and consumed…

Fast-forward to today. It’s early June in Washington, D.C. Barack Obama, a popular young politician whose leading private campaign donor was an investment bank called Goldman Sachs — its employees paid some $981,000 to his campaign — sits in the White House. Having seamlessly navigated the political minefield of the bailout era, Goldman is once again back to its old business, scouting out loopholes in a new government-created market with the aid of a new set of alumni occupying key government jobs…

How Wal-Mart Screws Its Employees and Why They Need The Employee Free Choice Act


From In These Times

July 4, 2009 Ukiah, Mendocino County, North California

Since liberal Democrats and their labor supporters introduced the Employee Free Choice Act into Congress earlier this year, opposition to the legislation has reached a fever pitch.

The main line of attack from corporations and business trade associations zeroes in on EFCA’s “card check” provision, which would give union advocates the option of avoiding a contentious and often employer-dominated National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) election. The provision would allow a majority of workers in any given workplace to enroll in a union via a simple card-signing.

A typical corporate response to the bill–which remains in committee in both the House and the Senate–came from Wal-Mart, the nation’s largest company. The proposed labor law would “effectively eliminate freedom of choice and the right to a secret-ballot election,” Wal-Mart spokeswoman Daphne Moore said in March, a few days after the bill was introduced. “We believe every associate or employee should have the right to make a private and informed decision regarding union representation.”

So Wal-Mart champions worker freedom. To get a sense of that company’s Orwellian definition of the concept it is useful to revisit the scene of a union organizing effort at Wal-Mart’s Kingman, Ariz. discount store. One might well look at dozens of other failed organizing attempts at Wal-Mart, but this campaign in the late summer of 2000 was exceptionally well-documented. The account that follows is based not only on NLRB reports and opinions, but on an authoritative Human Rights Watch report and internal company documents that were put in the public domain after litigation before the labor board and the federal courts.

Summers are hot in Arizona, and the young men who work in Wal-Mart’s Tire and Lube Express (TLE) department get their hands dirty, have few prospects for promotion and are well aware that similar blue collar jobs in garages and car dealerships pay a lot more. Such was the case in Kingman where an otherwise humane manager, under corporate pressure to keep labor and maintenance costs down, refused to spend the $200 needed to repair an air-cooling system essential in the 110 degree heat. So the TLE workers got in touch with the United Food and Commercial Workers, which on August 28, 2000, filed a petition with the nearby Phoenix office of the NLRB to represent as many as 18 automotive service technicians.

The reaction from Wal-Mart managers, both at the Kingman store and at corporate headquarters in Bentonville, Ark., was virtually instantaneous. Within 24 hours a Bentonville-based “labor team” had flown into Kingman, where they joined a growing cadre of district and regional managers from Arizona and Nevada. In all more than 20 outside executives flooded the store. Wal-Mart replaced the Tire and Lube department manager with a high-level personnel executive, untutored in changing oil or tires but well-versed in the corporation’s union avoidance program. Loss prevention–the company’s shoplifting police–got busy as well, training a new set of cameras on work areas in the tire and lube shop. “I had so many bosses around me, I couldn’t believe it,” rememberes Larry Adams, a union supporter who worked in the TLE at that time. “They weren’t there to help me. They were there to bug me. It was very intimidating.”