Michael Laybourn: PG&E ‘Smart Meters’ — Dumb Idea


Smartmeters do not save electricity. They are a grab for stimulus dollars and a reason to cut jobs. To think they are some kind of gentle green good is nonsense.

From the Wall St Journal: Meters are expensive, often costing $250 to $500 each when all the bells and whistles are included, such as the expense of installing new utility billing systems. And utilities typically pass these costs directly on to consumers.  <http://online.wsj.com/public/quotes/main.html?type=djn&symbol=CNP> CenterPoint Energy Inc. in Houston, for instance, recently began charging its customers an extra $3.24 a month for smart meters, sparking howls of protest since the charges will continue for a decade and eventually approach $1 billion.

WikiLeaks’ Most Terrifying Revelation: Just How Much Our Government Lies to Us


Wikileaks has shown that our government and military form a ‘vast lying machine’ that perpetrates mass murder in our name.

“Try as I may I can not escape the sound of suffering. Perhaps as an old man I will accept suffering with insouciance. But not now; men in their prime, if they have convictions are tasked to act on them.” — Julian Assange, 2007 blog entry

Do you believe that it is in Americans’ interest to allow a small group of U.S. leaders to unilaterally murder, maim, imprison and/or torture anyone they choose anywhere in the world, without the knowledge let alone oversight of their citizens or the international community? And, despite their proven record of failure to protect America — from Indochina to Iran to Iraq — do you believe they should be permitted to clandestinely expand their war-making without informed public debate?

Beyond Doom, Beyond Sustainability

Transition Voice

Wars, peak oil, climate change, continuing global economic crises. We live in such uncertain times.

It could be so easy to throw up our hands in frustration and disgust, to go down that dark road of disillusionment, of morbidly chalking it all up to human nature. It could be so easy to buy into the thinking that we’ve destroyed ourselves, and it is just a matter of time before the bomb we’ve set explodes in our faces.

Or, we could play for the best in humanity:

Peak oil is as inevitable as death and taxes. But for every convert that peak oil’s doom-and-gloom extremism sweeps up, it alienates plenty of people who might otherwise climb down from their SUVs. -Toby Hemenway in “Apocalypse, Not”

When hope is more realistic than despair

Do You Do Nothing or Do You Resist?

Via Adbusters

And if you did not fight, would you see yourself as noble? Or cowardly?

I say to every red-blooded American, every European, every human: If someone comes into your home, threatens your family, imprisons and even kills your family what do you do? I do not care if every Westerner of any station is afraid to say it, it is part of my purpose in life to say it: I would fight. In fact I would kill before I would allow my family to be harmed. I would fight to the death.

I say to my American brothers and sisters in particular: Can you not see that the Iraqis, the Afghanis and the Palestinians are people? They are mothers and fathers, uncles and aunts, brothers and sisters and sons and daughters. They love their family every bit as much as you. Imagine that you were in their shoes. Would you be passive? Would you sit by and watch your wife and child being violated? Or would you fight?

Shasta and Goliath: Bringing Down Corporate Rule

From MoveToAmend.org
Sign the National petition here

Mt. Shasta, a small northern California town of 3,500 residents nestled in the foothills of magnificent Mount Shasta, is taking on corporate power through an unusual process—democracy.

The citizens of Mt. Shasta have developed an extraordinary ordinance, set to be voted on in the next special or general election, that would prohibit corporations such as Nestle and Coca-Cola from extracting water from the local aquifer. But this is only the beginning. The ordinance would also ban energy-giant PG&E, and any other corporation, from regional cloud seeding, a process that disrupts weather patterns through the use of toxic chemicals such as silver iodide. More generally, it would refuse to recognize corporate personhood, explicitly place the rights of community and local government above the economic interests of multinational corporations, and recognize the rights of nature to exist, flourish, and evolve.

Mt. Shasta is not alone. Rather, it is part of a (so far) quiet municipal movement making its way across the United States in which communities are directly defying corporate rule

Jim Houle to Ukiah City Council: Why Costco?

Redwood Valley
Member of the County Council of the Green Party

To the Editor:
The following was presented to the City Council of Ukiah on January 19th:

You, the City Council of Ukiah, are scheduled today (Jan. 19th) to approve, in secret session, an Exclusive Negotiating Agreement with Costco. Most of your fellow citizens are at a loss to understand why you would sell 15 acres of land bought with Redevelopment Funds to a retail emporium when it is well established that our real need is affordable housing, not more stores. We hold you answerable to us for your actions and ask for your response to the following questions:

Why is it OK in your view to place a Big Box Retail Outlet in Ukiah after we the voters resoundingly defeated such a Big Box Complex at the Masonite site

Derrick Jensen: Beyond Hope

Orion Magazine
Thanks to Sean Re

The most common words I hear spoken by any environmentalists anywhere are, We’re fucked. Most of these environmentalists are fighting desperately, using whatever tools they have—or rather whatever legal tools they have, which means whatever tools those in power grant them the right to use, which means whatever tools will be ultimately ineffective—to try to protect some piece of ground, to try to stop the manufacture or release of poisons, to try to stop civilized humans from tormenting some group of plants or animals. Sometimes they’re reduced to trying to protect just one tree.

Here’s how John Osborn, an extraordinary activist and friend, sums up his reasons for doing the work: “As things become increasingly chaotic, I want to make sure some doors remain open. If grizzly bears are still alive in twenty, thirty, and forty years, they may still be alive in fifty. If they’re gone in twenty, they’ll be gone forever.”

But no matter what environmentalists do,

Gene Logsdon: Human Manure Shops Are A Hot Business In North Korea


Last week I said that everywhere I turn these days I seem to run into manure  It keeps on happening. The latest example comes from  www.minyanville.com, which is a serious financial and business website, no gaming around here with male bovine excretory droppings. A story by Justin Rohrlick on Dec. 29 reports that Kim Young-soo at Seoul’s Sogang University in South Korea has been interviewing recent defectors from North Korea. One of the questions he asks them is about the hottest new consumer products in their country. Among several commodities at the top of the North Korean want list is human excrement, available at “human manure shops.”  Now this is not April 1, even in Korea, and that is just too far out to be made up. Human manure shops (I can imagine what I call them) are in fact quite logical. Fertilizer is in short supply in North Korea where people are starving in alarming numbers, and survival means

The Progressive Liberal Agenda


“The Liberal Agenda” has been falsified and bastardized by the Conservative and Fundamentalist radio hosts of this country, and the Right has been hacking away at our safety nets since Reagan became President.

The Progressive Liberal agenda has always been about caring for and empowering the least among us (Matthew 25), and setting a secure floor under our citizenry. Teddy Roosevelt’s Square Deal: a living wage, a basic safety net; Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal: Social Security; Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society: the elimination of poverty and racial injustice, and Medicare/Medicaid. It’s been about building America from the ground up using government only for what is absolutely necessary and providing a basic standing point: free public education, free medical care, and care for the needy and elderly as in all other developed countries in the world. And, yes, tax the wealthy and very wealthy more than the middle class folks

Today’s Inequality Report: Calling Out The Right Wing


A hard-hitting study of the social effects of inequality has profound implications

Epidemiologists Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett, authors of The Spirit Level, don’t soft-soap their message. It is brave to write a book arguing that economies should stop growing when millions of jobs are being lost, though they may be pushing at an open door in public consciousness. We know there is something wrong, and this book goes a long way towards explaining what and why.

The authors point out that the life-diminishing results of valuing growth above equality in rich societies can be seen all around us. Inequality causes shorter, unhealthier and unhappier lives; it increases the rate of teenage pregnancy, violence, obesity, imprisonment and addiction; it destroys relationships between individuals born in the same society but into different classes; and its function as a driver of consumption

Rebooting the American Dream — Chapter Ten: Wal-Mart Is Not A Person

Article with footnotes here

The peculiar evil of silencing the expression of an opinion is that it is robbing the human race; posterity as well as the existing generation; those who dissent from the opinion, still more than those who hold it. If the opinion is right, they are deprived of the opportunity of exchanging error for truth: if wrong, they lose, what is almost as great a benefit, the clearer perception and livelier impression of truth, produced by its collision with error. —John Stuart Mill

In 2003, after my book Unequal Protection was first published, I gave a talk at one of the larger law schools in Vermont. Around 300 people showed up, mostly students, with a few dozen faculty and some local lawyers.

For Holly and Scott Cratty


Our wonderful Renaissance Market on Clay Street was vandalized twice during the holidays. Windows were smashed and the owners, Scott and Holly Cratty are out hundreds of dollars in insurance deductibles plus the cost they will incur to install security cameras.

Scott and Holly haven’t asked for our help but we are a community and we care deeply about our local businesses and want them to thrive. If you would like to help, there are two things you can do for Renaissance Market: Donate some money towards recovery from their losses and/or shop there often.

If you would like to join other members of your community in giving money to help them out, please bring a donation by February 1 during business hours to Shoefly and Sox at 120 West Standley, Ukiah.

And please pass this on to your friends who might also like to help. Thanks!

Charles Hugh Smith: The Fraud at the Heart of Social Security


To understand the fraud at the heart of the Social Security Trust Fund, we start with a very simple fact: cash can only be spent once.

There are two frauds at the very heart of the Social Security system, and I am going to describe and source them in detail. After spending a number of hours poring over public data from the Social Security Administration (SSA), The U.S. Treasury and the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), and additional hours searching the Web for other published analyses, I can state with some authority that there are no published analyses or accounts of Social Security which incorporate the actual outlays and receipts from fiscal year 2010 in a context which includes the Social Security Trust Fund.

Martin Luther King, Jr.: Beyond Vietnam — A Time to Break Silence

Thanks to Sean Re: The speech they seem to forget, exactly one year before his death (audio)…

Mr. Chairman, ladies and gentlemen:

I need not pause to say how very delighted I am to be here tonight, and how very delighted I am to see you expressing your concern about the issues that will be discussed tonight by turning out in such large numbers. I also want to say that I consider it a great honor to share this program with Dr. Bennett, Dr. Commager, and Rabbi Heschel, and some of the distinguished leaders and personalities of our nation. And of course it’s always good to come back to Riverside Church. Over the last eight years, I have had the privilege of preaching here almost every year in that period, and it is always a rich and rewarding experience to come to this great church and this great pulpit.

Todd Walton: Whales & Predictions


“The grand essentials of happiness are: something to do, something to love, and something to hope for.” Allan K. Chalmers

Sunday. The second of January 2011. My wife Marcia and I are sitting on a bench overlooking the Pacific Ocean a few miles south of the village of Mendocino, the pale blue sky decorated with flat clouds, grays and whites, the celestial artist in no mood for billowy today. The sea is relatively calm and several pods of whales are passing by close enough for us to see them clearly without binoculars, their impressive water spouts presaging glimpses of their even more impressive enormity, our excitement at seeing them giving way to ongoing joy that the leviathans (my favorite synonym for whales) are right there, sharing the world with us, and saying hello so delightfully.

We have come to this promontory above the deep to give back to the ocean some forty pounds of stones and shells we’ve collected over the last five years for the decoration of windowsills and table tops; and as we throw the pretty gifts into the depths, we send with them our hopes and intentions for the year ahead.

The news of late has been full of predictions by economists and financial prognosticators about what may befall the national and global economies in the coming year,

Stochastic Terrorism

From G2geek

Stochastic Terrorism is the use of mass communications to stir up random lone wolves to carry out violent or terrorist acts that are statistically predictable but individually unpredictable.

This is what occurs when Bin Laden releases a video that stirs random extremists halfway around the globe to commit a bombing or shooting.

This is also the term for what Beck, O’Reilly, Hannity, and others do.  And this is what led directly and predictably to a number of cases of ideologically-motivated murder similar to the Tucson shootings.

The person who actually plants the bomb or assassinates the public official is not the stochastic terrorist, they are the “missile” set in motion by the stochastic terrorist.  The stochastic terrorist is the person who uses mass media as their means of setting those “missiles” in motion.

Here’s the mechanism spelled out concisely:

The stochastic terrorist is the person who uses mass media to broadcast memes that incite unstable people to commit violent acts.

One or more unstable people responds to the incitement by becoming a lone wolf and committing a violent act.   While their action may

Let’s Get This Straight: There Is No Progressive Equivalent to the Right’s Violent Rhetoric


“…it’s time for conservatives to pull up their goddamn bootstraps and get to work doing the hard business of self-reflection.”

Both sides are, in fact, not “just as bad,” when it comes to institutionally sanctioned violent and eliminationist rhetoric.

An anonymous commenter at Daily Kos and the last Republican vice presidential nominee are not equivalent, no matter how many ridiculously irresponsible members of the media would have us believe otherwise.

There is, demonstrably, no leftist equivalent to Sarah Palin, former veep candidate and presumed future presidential candidate, who uses gun imagery (rifle sights) and language (“Don’t Retreat, RELOAD”) to exhort her followers to action.

There is no leftist equivalent to the Council of Conservative Citizens (CCC), a group which was created from the mailing list of the old white supremacist White Citizens Councils and has been noted as becoming increasingly “radical and racist” by the Southern Poverty Law Center, which classifies the CCC as a hate group—and is nonetheless considered an acceptable association by prominent members of the Republican Party, including

Will the Masonite Monster Mall raise its ugly head once more?


The county’s plans for the old Masonite land north of Ukiah include a mixed-use land designation similar to a designation sought by an Ohio firm that tried unsuccessfully to get voters to approve plans to build a mall there.

The designation appears in the Ukiah Valley Area Plan, a 20-year land use planning document recently released for public review. The document includes a map that shows the preferred designation for the 79-acre, abandoned industrial site is “Mixed Use Masonite.”

The proposed use is a change from the site’s current industrial designation, which allows heavy industrial.

The mixed-use designation would allow “mixed development types,” according to a brief description in the UVAP, and is further described in the document’s appendix as allowing retail, light industrial and multi-family residential development, along with recreational areas and open space.

“At least half of it could be retail, and at least half of it could be light industrial, offices and multi-family residential,”…

Complete story here

Proof that bikesharing works in the USA


Via Energy Bulletin

For all those who dismissed bike sharing as a woolly-headed European idea that would never work on the mean streets of U.S. cities, the success of the first season of MinneapolisNice Ride bike program will come as a surprise.

700 public bikes hit the streets in June at 65 stations, and they were taken for more than 100,000 rides until put away for the winter in mid-November. 1300 people signed up for an annual membership and 30,000 signed up for a $5 daily pass with the swipe of a credit card.

But the numbers that may be more significant for the future of bike sharing are three, two and none. That’s the number of bikes vandalized, the number of bikes stolen and the numbers of injuries reported. This conclusively answers numerous skeptics who thought that sharing bikes would never work here in the individualistic, auto-crazed USA.

Nice Ride, the non-profit organization running the Minneapolis bike share program, had budgeted for the loss of 10 percent of its bikes due to theft or vandalism, which is one reason why it wound up in the black in its first year, even while selling fewer annual memberships than anticipated.

Richard Shoemaker: Hey, Press Democrat — Show Us The Money


Recently, the Press Democrat seems to be covering public employment topics with more fervor that anything it has covered since the Obama campaign. That coverage has included some serious individual pay and benefits abuses in the public sector. Most readers agree these need to end. Not covered by those stories are the vast majority of dedicated and hardworking public employees and retirees who aren’t abusing the system.

With the editorial “Issues of Pay” back in November, the editorial board of the Press Democrat has made a decision to promote the ongoing war and latest battle between working Americans. This is a class war propagated by the influence peddlers who control a huge percentage of America’s wealth. The trumped up, public vs. private battles that pit neighbor vs. neighbor keep the attention of too many Americans distracted from the financial draining of America’s public and private wealth.

The PD has not made the effort to compare public and private job descriptions and wages in any meaningful way. Generally, the statistics and numbers thrown out are presented without context making them deceitful. Their readers and public employees are dishonored by this.

On Biking and Beekeeping

From SIMPLY BIKE (photos)
via Neil Davis
Mendo 2 Mile Challenge

When it comes to winter cycling, I’m no trailblazer in my family. My grandfather, who’s 84 years old, cycles year-round come rain or snow. He lives in Romania (where I was born and lived when I was younger) and he has owned the same bike for as far back as I can remember.

Although he owns a car, he uses his bike for everyday errands like grocery shopping, going to the outdoor farmer’s market, paying bills in town, and riding over to visit friends. He drives when needing to go to other cities but prefers to bike when simply going around town. He prefers it to walking because it’s faster and – although he might not admit this – he prefers it to driving because it allows him to hop off and say hi to people every other block. My grandpa is what one would call a ‘social butterfly’ and you can’t walk or ride anywhere with him without stopping every few minutes to greet an acquaintance or talk to a friend.

In his former life, my grandfather was an accountant. Once he retired, he simply couldn’t sit still so he took up beekeeping. He’s been a successful beekeeper for the past twenty-some years and I can only vouch for it: he produces some of the best honey in town. Some of my happiest childhood memories involve being chased by bees and chewing

The Ugly American Lives

MCN Listserv Discussion

Having traveled a great deal in Europe (two weeks last March again) I can tell you that Europe smiles in amusement about our ‘more freedom’. They find it a myth we perpetuate to keep our own citizens asleep and compliant. They see homeland sec as the ‘new Nazis’. I tend to agree. We no longer have sovereign control of our own bodies or can protect our children from groping by any stranger in a uniform- how ‘free’ is that?

As one German lady said to me- “Americans talk about all their freedom, but they can’t go into their own yard and sunbathe topless without getting arrested! In Germany, people go into parks on lovely days during their lunch- carefully remove their tops and stretch out to catch a few rays unharassed unless they’re being lewd. They find our puritanism hilarious.

A Norwegian comment was that for all our freedoms, we can’t even build what we want to build on our own lands. They are much less regulated than we are, although they’re swiftly catching up in the cities.   Norway has a very limited banking system, depending on plastic. You can’t just walk into a bank anywhere but Oslo- they have no checking accounts. Cards or cash only.

In Norway, the farmer is protected through a few regulations- the main one is that sellers

Will Parrish: On Memory & Forgetting in Wine Country


Soon after I became outspoken in my criticism of the regional wine industry, I began having conversations with local people for whom this issue is deeply personal. Across recent decades, the sprawling North Coast booze sector has recklessly reconfigured landbases, sucked waterways dry, killed off scores of wildlife, drenched the land with chemicals, and imposed its particular brand of sterilized country life on previously more vibrant pastoral settlements — all of this on the basis of exploited migrant labor, which comprise the industry’s main contribution to the local job base. Although you would never know it by reading the Santa Rosa Press Democrat or tuning into local TV newscasts, these practices have not actually endeared Big Wine to most people — especially those who have experienced them first-hand. Some North Coast residents refer to the pervasive change from forest and rangeland to vineyards as “grape rape.”

Yet, for all of the deep-seated resentment

Rebooting the American Dream — Chapter Nine: Put Lou Dobbs Out to Pasture

Article with footnotes here

Only a fool would try to deprive working men and working women of their right to join the union of their choice. — Dwight D. Eisenhower

Back in the late 1980s, when I ran an advertising agency in Atlanta, a multinational corporation approached us about producing its internal newsletter, a monthly eight-pager about the company’s goings-on in the United States, Mexico, and Japan. Not surprisingly, they wanted the newsletter produced in English, Spanish, and Japanese.

For our small agency trolling for clients, this corporation was a big fish—it could provide a good shot of cash for what was then a startup business with a half dozen employees—so I put a help-wanted ad in the local daily newspaper, the Atlanta Constitution Journal, for a graphic designer who was also fluent enough in those three languages to know how to set type and where to hyphenate words (the company was providing us with the text in the three languages). It was clearly a search for a needle

Herb Ruhs: We have met the enemy and it is not us, it is our military

Anderson Valley

I am sure I have offended some with my writings by focusing on the reality and techniques of psychological warfare as if I was an expert.  I am not.  I have had a chance to look at some classified psychological warfare manuals of the US Army forty years ago.  That hardly makes me an expert, but why does that impeach what I have to say?  The emotional response of most people is denial when I insist that virtually everything bad we are experiencing in the US comes right out of psychological warfare doctrine and that, from my view, we are an occupied country under stealth military rule where democracy is a sham.  I can understand negative responses to that kind of statement.  If I hadn’t experienced psychological warfare first hand during my work as a civilian in Viet Nam from ’66 to ’70, I would likely have as much trouble understanding and believing what I have to say about the military’s psychological warfare program against the US population as any one else.  But alas, once one has seen the face of this devil, it can not be forgotten or discounted.

Therefore I was delighted this morning to find access to a document from Turkey that outlines their military’s failed psychological warfare plans against the Turkish people. You can view it here.  As you read the document