New Report: Wal-Mart and Costco kill as many jobs as they create


From AL NORMAN
Sprawl-Busters
Thanks to Steve Scalmanini

[This report MUST be included in any environmental impact reports produced by Costco and Wal-Mart for Ukiah and Mendocino County. -DS]

They don’t teach “Wal-Math” in American high schools, but here’s how it works: 1 job created – 1 job destroyed = 1 job.

Wal-Mart has never admitted the difference between gross jobs and net jobs. That’s why when Wal-Mart opened its only store in Chicago, Illinois on the west side, the retailer said: “This store will show what a great asset Wal-Mart can be to the community, as an employer and corporate citizen.” From Day One of its drive to locate stores in the Windy City, Wal-Mart based its case on jobs.

One of Wal-Mart’s most vocal apologists is Alderman Howard Brookins of the city’s 21st Ward on the South Side. “We need jobs, plain and simple,” the Alderman likes to repeat. Brookins has been so outspoken on the issue of Wal-Mart and jobs that The Chicago Tribune has referred to him as “the Alderman from Wal-Mart.”

But the jobs argument isn’t adding up in Chicago. A new study from Loyola University and the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) has put the giant retailer on the economic defensive once again.

The study, The Impact of an Urban Wal-Mart Store on Area Businesses: An Evaluation of One Chicago Neighborhood’s Experience found that Wal-Mart’s opening in Chicago has produced a loss of 300 full-time jobs.

Researchers conclude that the probability of a local retailer going out of business during the study period was significantly higher for establishments close to Wal-Mart’s location.

Racial Insults and Quiet Bravery in 1960s Mississippi


From JANET MASLIN
NYT

In “The Help,” Kathryn Stockett’s button-pushing, soon to be wildly popular novel about black domestic servants working in white Southern households in the early 1960s, one woman works especially tirelessly. She labors long into the night. She is exhausted. Her eyes are stinging, her fingers bloody and sore.

Is she ironing pleats? Scrubbing toilets? Polishing silver for an all-important meeting of the local bridge club? No way. She is Miss Skeeter Phelan, a white woman. And the white women of “The Help” don’t do those demeaning jobs. They don’t do much of anything else either.

But brave, tenacious Skeeter is different. So she is slaving away on a book that will blow the lid off the suffering endured by black maids in Jackson, Miss. Skeeter’s going to call the place “Niceville,” but she won’t make it sound nice. All of Jackson’s post-sorority girls from Ole Miss will be up in arms if Skeeter’s tell-all book sees the light of day.

The trouble on the pages of Skeeter’s book is nothing compared with the trouble Ms. Stockett’s real book risks getting into. Here is a debut novel by a Southern-born white author who renders black maids’ voices in thick, dated dialect. (“Law have mercy,” one says, when asked to cooperate with the book project. “I reckon I’m on do it.”) It’s a story that purports to value the maids’ lives while subordinating them to Skeeter and her writing ambitions. And it celebrates noblesse oblige so readily that Skeeter’s act of daring earns her a gift from a local black church congregation. “This one, this is for the white lady,” the Reverend of that church says. “You tell her we love her, like she’s our own family.”

A brief word now about Ms. Stockett: When she moved to New York City from Jackson, she came to understand how deeply ambivalent she felt about her roots. If a New Yorker told her that Jackson must be beautiful, she would say it was fraught with crime. But if a New Yorker spoke contemptuously about Jackson, Ms. Stockett would rise to its defense.

Democracy in America Is a Useful Fiction



From CHRIS HEDGES
TruthDig

Corporate forces, long before the Supreme Court’s decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, carried out a coup d’état in slow motion. The coup is over. We lost. The ruling is one more judicial effort to streamline mechanisms for corporate control. It exposes the myth of a functioning democracy and the triumph of corporate power. But it does not significantly alter the political landscape. The corporate state is firmly cemented in place.

The fiction of democracy remains useful, not only for corporations, but for our bankrupt liberal class. If the fiction is seriously challenged, liberals will be forced to consider actual resistance, which will be neither pleasant nor easy. As long as a democratic facade exists, liberals can engage in an empty moral posturing that requires little sacrifice or commitment. They can be the self-appointed scolds of the Democratic Party, acting as if they are part of the debate and feel vindicated by their cries of protest.

Much of the outrage expressed about the court’s ruling is the outrage of those who prefer this choreographed charade. As long as the charade is played, they do not have to consider how to combat what the political philosopher Sheldon Wolin calls our system of “inverted totalitarianism.”

Inverted totalitarianism represents “the political coming of age of corporate power and the political demobilization of the citizenry,” Wolin writes in “Democracy Incorporated.” Inverted totalitarianism differs from classical forms of totalitarianism, which revolve around a demagogue or charismatic leader, and finds its expression in the anonymity of the corporate state. The corporate forces behind inverted totalitarianism do not, as classical totalitarian movements do, boast of replacing decaying structures with a new, revolutionary structure. They purport to honor electoral politics, freedom and the Constitution. But they so corrupt and manipulate the levers of power as to make democracy impossible.

Go to full article here
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Italian White Bean Soup Recipe



From Farmgirl Fare

Paula Butturini’s Zuppa di Fagioli / Italian White Bean Soup
(My version made about 9 cups)

Paula says:
Whenever it’s snowing, or simply dank and cold, my family likes eating sturdy soups to ward off mid-winter chills. This hearty Italian soup—which can be made with any dried white beans or a combination of varieties—warms our kitchen while it’s cooking and warms us through when we sit down to eat it.

You can speed the whole process by using a 20-oz can of good quality, canned, white or cranberry beans, and using only 3-4 cups of water. In that case, you simply skip Steps 1 and 3, and add the canned beans and water to the stockpot at the end of Step 2.

My notes:
This is the sort of recipe that invites improvisation and experimentation. You could make it ten different times and end up with ten different soups—all of them good. Just use what you have on hand and personalize the pot to suit your taste.

I tend to prefer thick (dare I say sludgy?) soups to brothy ones, so I reduced the amount of water, upped the veggies, and added extra beans (I used canned organic cannellini beans, also known as white kidney beans).

For the pork portion, I used a small but meaty smoked ham hock from the locally raised hog we bought a while back and had butchered to our specifications (and which has sadly just about all been eaten up). Good call—it added a wonderful smoky flavor. After the soup finished simmering, I cut the meat from the bone and into small pieces, then stirred the ones I didn’t pop in my mouth back into the pot.

If you want to make a vegetarian version, you could toss in some fresh (or even dried) herbs to add more depth. It would probably also be very tasty made with good chicken stock instead of water.

Go to full article here
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Volume has Tripled on Credit Union Web Sites


From CREDIT UNION TIMES

Consumers are being driven in higher numbers to credit union Web sites as a result of the media and government focus on big bank practices, according to National Association For Credit Unions (NAFCU) and Credit Union National Association (CUNA).

NAFCU, for one, said this week its “CULookup” locator has recorded “a tripling of volume” since the first favored mention of CUs appeared on New York pundit Arianna Huffington’s “Move Your Money” Web site.

For days, both CUNA and NAFCU have promoted their online systems aimed at providing access and convenience for consumers to make the switch from banks to CUs.  NAFCU noted that the Huffinton Post first  listed  NAFCU’s “call to action”  on Jan. 6 with commentary by  Fred Becker, president/CEO of NAFCU.

“The groundswell of positive recognition of credit unions generated by the Huffington Post campaign is a welcome testament to the good work credit unions are doing as not-for-profit, member-focused institutions,” said Becker.   The tripling of traffic, he said, “clearly reflects the keen interest that we have generated among consumers for a solid alternative to banks.”

“It doesn’t do us any good to generate great media coverage concluding that credit unions are better than banks unless we make it very easy for consumers to find one they can join,” he added.

CUNA said also its “creditunions.coop -Quickfind” also has enjoyed high volume following a contributing article on CU advantages by CUNA President Dan Mica appearing also Jan. 6 on the Huffington Post Web site. “We’ve seen a 300% traffic jump,” said a CUNA spokesman noting also CUNA’s “Quickfind” link is comprehensive in covering state and federal CUs.

Separately, CUNA also said  Mica  this month cut a new YouTube video urging viewers to “Move their Money” to a CU.
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See also Move Your Money Local
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Cars fed on corn, people fed on horseshit


From JOE BAGEANT
Deer Hunting With Jesus blog
Excerpts

[My response to LTE in today’s UDJ: Editor: Yikes! After being savaged by no less than Tommie Wayne Kramer, now that old meanie David Anderson weighs in, just like we knew he would (UDJ 1/25/10), calling me “…an obnoxious braying ultra Left Progressive.” I’m speechless! All I can say is “Hee Haw!!” -DS]

[…] Getting back to the undeserving “leeches” in our society sponging off the rest of us … I defy you to personally go out there, take names and photos, then send them to me. And I mean personally, not just some cut and paste propaganda off the web. I am not saying you will not find any. I’m just saying pack some extra shoe leather because such citizens represent a very small portion of the national population. I’ll see you in ten years when you are finished.

In testimony to the durability of certain strains of bull shit, Republicans and neocons are still successfully flogging the old welfare queen stuff, not to mention claiming that millions of illegal aliens getting free medical services…

To my mind, socialism is this:

A community and national philosophy, a commonly shared and not necessarily politicized way of life wherein the first priority is the fundamental well-being of the people (also known as “the masses,” a term you have probably been programmed to wrinkle your brow in ominous suspicion of.) “Fundamental well-being” means that everyone eats well, enjoys safe and adequate homes and a common standard of good health. It means that children are educated to do more than just the rote tasks that serve corporate empires. It means the man actually doing the work negotiates the value of his labor. It means that somewhere in the last third or quarter of his life, that working man, after enjoying his freedom, bacon and common work, and diligently sustaining his fellow men, is released from his toil. Released into security and peace and modest but guaranteed sustenance. He is free to nurse his aches, chase old women or take up Bourbon or Buddhism. Or both, as I have. Whatever he chooses as a free man in a free and benevolent socialist society.

Don’t let the ideologues, demagogues and half-assed spoiled little middle class jerks who call themselves socialists in this country fool you. Socialism has to do with man’s innate longing for justice, the undying heart within us, and all that is generous and good in that heart. That’s why so many have so willingly died for it, and will continue to do so in corners of the world we will never see or hear about because we are not allowed to, but which are never the less part of this world, and therefore affective of this world…

Full article here
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“If on-farm slaughter is done properly, it’s very, very humane…”



From The Atlantic Food Channel

The Need for Custom Slaughter
Excerpts

[…]To get around such backlogs, some small, sustainable producers have opened or purchased their own facilities. These include Will Harris’s White Oak Pastures, Georgia’s largest grass-fed beef producer; Sallie Calhoun, owner of Paicines Ranch, a grass-fed cattle operation in San Benito County, California; and Joel Salatin of Polyface Farm in Virginia, made famous in Michael Pollan’s The Omnivore’s Dilemma

“It’s the best way to slaughter them because you don’t have to transport them,” Temple Grandin, the renowned author, livestock handling expert, and associate professor at Colorado State University, told me. Being trucked long distances and then herded shoulder-to-shoulder into confined areas with strange sights and noises is a huge stress on animals, she said. A cow killed on its home turf doesn’t know what hits it. “If on-farm slaughter is done properly, it’s very, very humane,” Grandin said…

I followed Winship for about 30 miles to a building off to the side of a winding gravel road. The unimposing structure, not much bigger than a two-car garage, was the headquarters for the company that had hired Winship, Rup’s Custom Cutting, a mom-and-pop business run by Rupert LaRock and his wife, Jeanne. The spotlessly clean facility is regularly inspected by health officials, so apart from the manner in which he had died, Léo would comply with all state and federal policies regarding the sale of meat. LaRock, a butcher for 41 of his 55 years, hoisted Léo’s quarters onto meat hooks connected to an overhead rail. He immediately started spraying them with a high-pressure hose, commenting on the size and high-quality of the carcass, but nonetheless grumbling, “Cows get so dirty this time of year.” I could detect no traces of filth.

Because of the slaughterhouse shortage, LaRock is run off his feet. He processes only one cow per day. “And it gets busier all the time,” he says. If you want Rup’s to butcher, wrap, and freeze one of your steers, you have to book an appointment three to four months in advance.

For those of us who want to eat local, sustainably raised meat, LaRock has some words of encouragement. “Every time there’s an E. coli scare, my phone starts ringing. There’s so much demand out there that they are going to have to open on-farm slaughter to commercial sale soon.”

Full article here
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See also Yes I Care For Animals And Then I Eat Them- Gene Logsdon
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Comments on Draft Scaramella For County Supervisor!


Original article here

From DAN HAMBURG

I like Mark’s ideas a lot and would like to steal many of them (even if he does run). His observations make one wonder, though, if county government is truly as totally incompetent as he portrays. For example, Sonoma County is looking at a $30 million deficit over the same period of time (18 months) that Mendocino is facing a $7 million deficit. Are Sonoma County officials also totally incompetent? A comparison to nearly all other jurisdictions (city, county, state and federal) would yield the same result; ie, the entire country is awash in red ink.

I don’t know why “monthly departmental reports” aren’t part of the Board’s agenda but I assume (maybe mistakenly) that the CEO is getting such reports. I’d think that these reports “identify cross-department cost-drivers, staffing, outside contracting, etc.” If not, they certainly should. I’d like to see the Board more involved and wonder whether reverting back to old CAO system might not help in this regard.

In any case, there needs to be a formal system for keeping track of priority items. If the CEO is failing to do this, as Mark charges each week in his column, he should be replaced.

Enlisting local retirees and volunteers to scrutinize each departmental budget might be a good idea. It would depend on who the “local retirees” and “volunteers” were, their skills levels, and whether they had political axes to grind.

Of course, one of the main things that drives county costs is mandates from the state and federal government (which provides 53% of county revenues) and the demand for services from an increasingly impoverished population.

I agree with Mark that salary cuts are coming. The Board realizes it too. They are making some cuts and more will come in the near future.

I also agree that supervisors would be “responsible for the predictable financial and organizational meltdown that looms.” But they would share that responsibility with jurisdictions at higher levels that have beggared local government. Unfortunately counties and cities are at the bottom of the food chain when it comes to allocation of funds in this country.

Every government budget in the state of California continues to be affected by the misbegotten Proposition 13.

Father Guido Sarducci’s Five Minute University



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