Has America Reached The Tipping Point?

[The Fascist Majority on the Supreme Court is responsible now for much of the destruction of our democracy. They installed a defeated Presidential candidate as President who left us unprotected despite being warned repeatedly before 911, and who then put us into disastrous wars. They have now left us to the mercy of the very wealthy and to unrestrained corporate power. Things have got to change, and it is up to us to change it. ~DS]

See also: Senator Bernie Sanders on Income Inequality (Video) “Greed is an issue we have got to deal with.”

From Wake Up and Stand Up

Years from now, we will think of February 2011 as the tipping point in America’s great awakening. After all the warnings and wake-up calls, this be will remembered as the time when the American people decided to come together, confront the plutocracy that plagues our republic, and do something to change the economic inequality / instability that has grown from it. There is a tide. If you don’t yet feel it, here are Ten Wake Up Calls that we predict will help define February 2011 in America.  The more people who get involved, the more meaningful it will be.  So, please share this page with others who may still need a reason to wake up and stand up.

1.  Egypt. It had to have an impact: so many Americans glued to their televisions, watching as people take to the streets, ready to die for freedom, destined to topple an oppressive regime that had dominated them for decades.  How?  By peacefully demanding self-governance.  Their triumph made us believe we could, and should, demand the same.

2.  Bob Herbert’s Challenge To America. While some Americans looked at Egypt and thought, “They’re trying to get what we already have,” Bob Herbert’s Feb. 12 column challenged us to look in the mirror.  He wrote, “Senator John Kerry said that the Egyptian people ‘have made clear they will settle for nothing less than greater democracy and more economic opportunities.’ Americans are being asked to swallow exactly the opposite. In the mad rush

All You Fascists Bound To Lose


[We Progressives have been way too shy about calling what this US uproar is really all about: Fascism. When the wealthiest corporatists have bought off and merged with government it’s called Fascism. The Fascists have been showing us their real true face, and we cannot deal with them appropriately, intelligently and non- violently until we call them what they really truly are. They are not Conservatives. They are not Republicans. They are not Tea Baggers. They are democracy-hating, anti-union, nature-killing, sociopathic, money-crazed, genetically-modified, tax-dodging, war-mongering  Fascists. Damn it! Call them out for what they are! -DS]

The Doctrine of Fascism

The Fascist conception of the State is all-embracing; outside of it no human or spiritual values can exist, much less have value. Thus understood, Fascism is totalitarian, and the Fascist State—a synthesis and a unit inclusive of all values—interprets, develops, and potentiates the whole life of a people…

Fascism is therefore opposed to Socialism to which unity within the State (which amalgamates classes into a single economic and ethical reality) is unknown, and which sees in history nothing but the class struggle. Fascism is likewise opposed to trade unionism as a class weapon. But when brought within the orbit of the State, Fascism recognises the real needs which gave rise to socialism and trade-unionism, giving them due weight in the guild or corporative system in which divergent interests are coordinated and harmonised in the unity of the State.

After Socialism, Fascism attacks the whole complex of democratic ideologies and rejects them both in their theoretical premises and in their applications or practical manifestations. Fascism denies that the majority, through the mere fact of being a majority, can rule human societies; it denies that this majority can govern by means of a periodical consultation; it affirms the irremediable, fruitful and beneficent inequality of men, who cannot be levelled by such a mechanical and extrinsic fact as universal suffrage.

The Fascist State lays claim to rule in the economic field no less than in others; it makes its action felt throughout the length and breadth of the country by means of its corporate, social, and educational institutions,

We don’t need no !@&%#$! budget cuts – We just need our richest tax dodgers to pay their fair share

Chelsea Green Publishing

In this winter of worldwide discontent, a powerful moral and political spirit has arisen in the Middle East. There are already uprisings of ordinary people all over the world: nobodies dumping Somebodies off their thrones, as the world watches.  It’s happening so fast our heads are spinning.  But it’s clear that we will turn that moral spirit loose here at home: the next Egypt – or England — will be the United States.

It is maddening and insulting to hear our president and our lawmakers simply accept the idea that we must cut social services, education, Medicaid and Medicare, Social Security and other parts of our social safety nets – while the General Accounting Office has estimated that 83 of our top 100 corporations pay no taxes.  There’s no good reason we should accept that, because it isn’t fair.  It goes against the wishes of a large majority of our citizens.  Many of our laws were bought by corporations whose lobbyists seduced many of our elected officials into selling out their country for private gain.  If our government can’t or won’t see how unfair and morally reprehensible it is to use taxpayer money to bail out those who don’t even pay taxes, then it is up to us.  And the ongoing protests in Arab countries show that we can do it.

There Is No Terrorism and We Are Not at War

As a Google search for “Americans killed by terrorists” shows, terrorism is a red herring:  a bogus threat.  We’re much more likely to be killed by lightning, peanuts, handguns and a dozen more everyday dangers than by terrorists.  We’re being misled by propaganda used to take trillions of dollars of our tax money to deter a terrorist threat that isn’t there.  “Terrorism” is used to frighten us, and as a blank check to cover any military expenditures or assaults on our civil liberties that our leaders choose.

Our tax dollars go to swell the coffers of the military-industrial complex, which alienates all Arab countries and much of the rest of the world.  This is losing us both respect and allies.  It also gives our elected leaders this red herring to keep us stirred up by the untrue claim that terrorists are everywhere and the sky is falling. 

Don Sanderson: Freedom


Since modern society ascribes no “reality” to inner experience, transcendent values have no power and materialist values prevail. Thus it seems reasonable for society to be characterized by economic rationalization of an ever-increasing fraction of social behavior and organization. Industrialization of the production of goods and services gradually extends to more and more of human activities; increasingly they become included in the economy. One result is monetization and commercialization (all things coming to be measurable by and purchasable in units of currency). The economic rationalization of knowledge leads to the “knowledge industry”; to science justified by the technologies it produces, and to education justified by the jobs it prepares for. Economic rationality become predominant in social political decision-making, even when the decisions it leads to are unwise by other standards (such as the wellbeing of future generations). Technological solutions are attempted for problems that are basically socio-political in nature. The worth of persons (to say nothing on non-human fellow creatures on Earth) is assessed by their value in the economy. Humankind’s relationship to the Earth is essentially an exploitive one. – Willis Harmon, “Global Mind Change: The Promise of the 21st Century”

We have watched and cheered as Egyptian youths threw out their repressive government and celebrated the possibility of freedom. They had found themselves without jobs, with failing schools, with rotten medical care, and without opportunities for a better future while a wealthy few milked the economy and government. Tunisia, Egypt, Yemen, Libya, Bahrain, Algeria, Morocco, Jordan, Iraq, Iran? It is fascinating that those supposedly backward Moslems are leading the way. Where next? England? Greece? Spain? Israel? the US? Or, will they all fizzle and only another reappearance of the same gang take charge in each case simply because of economic, monetary realities that dominate a predominantly urban life? If we survey history, we find meager successful examples.

When FDR Came to Wisconsin to Fight the Kochs and Walkers of 1934

From NEW DEAL 2.0

FDR didn’t just stand up for workers, but he took a stand against the fat cats working against them.

This past Tuesday evening, nearly 1,000 unionists and their supporters gathered here in Green Bay, Wisconsin to register their appreciation for Senator Dave Hansen, one of the 14 Democrats who have absented themselves from the state to deter passage of Governor Scott Walker’s Budget Repair Bill. The bill threatens to not only severely cut workers’ incomes but also effectively eliminate their collective bargaining rights.

We also came together to consider what we were going to do next about that threat. Everyone — from teachers and social workers to firefighters and snowplow drivers — said they were ready to fight on against a governor who has insisted he will not negotiate. Most, though it pained them, said they were willing to sacrifice income to address the state’s budget woes. And yet nobody was willing to give up their rights. Not only in “radical” Madison, but even here in supposedly conservative Green Bay, it seemed that Americans were ready to start making democratic history again — not on the gridiron this time but in the struggle to win, and hold onto, the rights of democratic citizens and workers.

Listening to the speakers, I felt their enthusiasms and anxieties. But I also had questions and concerns. It angered me that union leaders were giving way on the dollar question when we all know that tax cuts and giveaways for corporations and the rich will continue. I wondered why nobody on the platform referred to the fact that the “class war from above” against labor and working people had been going on for more than thirty years now. It disappointed me that we were not discussing how we might address the hostility — and plight — of those private sector workers who believe public sector employees have it easy. And it bothered me that we were not talking about a movement to “take back America” from the likes of the billionaire Koch brothers and the Tea Party. But I stayed quiet — recalling all too well how the efforts of some of us to organize Scholars, Artists, and Writers for Social Justice in support of the late 1990s revival of the labor movement had self-destructed in intellectual and political wrangling.

At the same time, I not only appreciated that my fellow citizens and unionists felt no less determined to defend themselves, their families,

Todd Walton: Your Inner Bushman


“The five groups of San or Bushmen are called the First People. Most call themselves Bushmen when referring to themselves collectively.” Elizabeth Marshall Thomas from her book The Old Way

I wanted to open this article with that quote from Elizabeth Marshall Thomas, a great friend of the Kalahari Bushmen, so I would not be accused of using a derogatory term when speaking of the people from whom all humans on earth are descended. One of my favorite scientific discoveries of the last few decades is that every human being currently alive on the planet can trace his or her lineage directly to the same Bushman woman who lived in Southwest Africa 172,000 years ago.

The gathering of pertinent genetic data from around the world, as well as the complicated figuring that went into determining the identity of our great Mother, has now been duplicated by multiple scientific teams, and there is today universal agreement among physical anthropologists and geneticists (though not among members of Congress) that Eve, as the European-centric researchers have named her, was, indeed, a Bushman. The name I prefer for our Very First Lady is N!ai, the exclamation point indicating a loud click made by pressing the tongue against the top of the mouth and popping it down simultaneously with the sound ai (I).

Among the many groovy things about tracing our collective beginning back to N!ai is that until the 1950’s there were still extant bands of Bushmen in and around the Kalahari Desert living very much as they had for tens of thousands of years, and Elizabeth Marshall Thomas and her parents and brother were among the first and last non-Bushmen to gently interface with these people and to record in great detail, in writing and film and sound recordings, how our Neolithic hunter-gatherer ancestors lived. Thus we know, in a tangible way, from whence we came.

“Interestingly, no anthropologist wanted to join us, although my father tried hard to find one and would have paid for his or her salary and all expenses. However, unlike the modern Kalahari, where the anthropologist/Bushman ratio

Ukiah’s Historic Post Office Faces Closure

From The PD

Ukiah’s historic downtown post office is targeted for closure, the U.S. Postal Service announced Wednesday. Postal officials plan to move retail mail services from downtown to the postal annex on the outskirts of town, confirming what Ukiah officials and residents have feared for months. “This is official,” said Ukiah Mayor Mari Rodin, who was informed about the plan during a meeting with Postal Service officials Wednesday. She vowed to fight the move. “I’m really committed to doing whatever I have to do to try to keep it here,” Rodin said.

The 1930s era post office, with its 1940s federal works project mural, is an integral part of the downtown’s history and crucial to creating a vital, walkable downtown, she said. However, postal officials said the building would require $780,000 in repairs, including a new roof, heating and electrical systems and fire alarms, to remain open. A public hearing on the proposed closure is the next step, and will be held within 60 days, said Postal Service spokesman James Wigdel. “The sooner the better,” he said.

A community group formed to preserve the downtown post office plans to rally citizens to attend meetings and sign petitions to underscore its importance. “If you believe the post office should remain where it is, come to the public meeting and explain why,” said Ukiah attorney Barry Vogel, a member of the group.

Postal officials are hoping to have a final determination on the post office’s fate within three months, Wigdel said. If approved, modifications will be made to the annex to incorporate the retail services now offered downtown. The cost of the improvements and the move are expected to cost $360,000. The Postal Service is consolidating services nationwide to reduce its budgetary bleeding, estimated at $8.5 billion annually, Wigdel said.

Healdsburg officials and residents won a 2008 campaign against the planned closure of the city’s downtown post office just off the Healdsburg Plaza. But the post office was gutted by fire in August, effectively changing plans to keep the office open. The Postal Service has since refurbished its Healdsburg annex building and moved all postal business to that location… Full article here

Will Parrish: Goldeneye — Anderson Valley’s Mercenary Vineyard?


If you want to mark a point-of-no-return in the Anderson Valley’s transformation into a full-on satellite of the Napa-Sonoma industrial viticulture complex, as good a choice as any is Duckhorn Vineyards’ takeover of three properties outside of Philo and Boonville in the late-’90s. Founded by a Napa investment banker named David Duckhorn in the 1970s, Duckhorn had by then established itself as one of St. Helena’s most successful vintibusinesses. Wine Spectator put it thusly: “Duckhorn Vineyards’ arrival in Mendocino County… caps the emergence of the Anderson Valley as a prime, Pinot noir appellation.”

In one of the wine industry’s characteristic superficial nods to local cultural artifacts and the natural environment, Duckhorn named its local wine label Goldeneye, after the black and white seaduck whose northward migratory pathway includes the Anderson Valley.

Duckhorn/Goldeneye quickly demonstrated, though, that its expressed interest in cultural heritage extends little beyond its brand name.

In 2000, long-time local resident and Anderson Valley Advertiser contributor David Severn rented an airplane and flew over the expanse of the Valley, snapping pictures and filming video of the landscape located in the portion of hills that are tucked away from view along the valley’s two main highways. The video that Severn packaged together, as Mark Scaramella wrote at the time, revealed “the frighteningly sudden extent of vineyard development and irrigation ponds all over Anderson Valley.”

Severn’s overflight noted Duckhorn/ Goldeneye’s recontouring of the earth on a property just south of Philo, near the confluence of Rancheria, Anderson, and Indian Creeks – where the Navarro River forms. As per the wine industry’s usual custom, Goldeneye was developing a series of large water storage ponds, all of them slightly smaller than 50 acre-feet, which is the cut-off for requiring a permit. After investigating the development further, Severn obtained a copy of an archeological report directly from the vineyard’s manager, Bruce Regalia.

If anyone was going to screw-up Oatmeal, it would have to be Mickey D

NYT Opinionator
Thanks to Ron Epstein

There’s a feeling of inevitability in writing about McDonald’s latest offering, their “bowl full of wholesome” — also known as oatmeal. The leading fast-food multinational, with sales over $16.5 billion a year (just under the GDP of Afghanistan), represents a great deal of what is wrong with American food today. From a marketing perspective, they can do almost nothing wrong; from a nutritional perspective, they can do almost nothing right, as the oatmeal fiasco demonstrates.

One “positive” often raised about McDonald’s is that it sells calories cheap. But since many of these calories are in forms detrimental rather than beneficial to our health and to the environment, they’re actually quite expensive — the costs aren’t seen at the cash register but in the form of high health care bills and environmental degradation.

Oatmeal is on the other end of the food spectrum. Real oatmeal contains no ingredients; rather, it is an ingredient. As such, it’s a promising lifesaver: oats are easy to grow in almost any non-extreme climate and, minimally processed, they’re profoundly nourishing, inexpensive and ridiculously easy to cook. They can even be eaten raw, but more on that in a moment.

Like so many other venerable foods, oatmeal has been roundly abused by food marketers for more than 40 years. Take, for example, Quaker Strawberries and Cream Instant Oatmeal, which contains no strawberries, no cream, 12 times the sugars of Quaker Old Fashioned Oats and only half of the fiber. At least it’s inexpensive, less than 50 cents a packet on average. (A serving of cooked rolled oats will set you back half that at most, plus the cost of condiments; of course, it’ll be much better in every respect.)

The oatmeal and McDonald’s story broke late last year, when Mickey D’s, in its ongoing effort to tell us that it’s offering “a selection of balanced choices” (and to keep in step with arch-rival Starbucks) began to sell the cereal. Yet in typical McDonald’s fashion, the company is doing everything it can to turn oatmeal into yet another bad choice. (Not only that, they’ve made it more expensive than a double-cheeseburger: $2.38 per serving in New York.) “Cream” (which contains seven ingredients, two of them actual dairy) is automatically added; brown sugar is ostensibly optional, but it’s also added

Transition: How to build new local economies

Energy Bulletin

Transition Training and Consulting has been very busy lately. This is the (strictly not-for-profit) part of the Transition Network specifically designed to engage businesses and organisations in the process of transition. Businesses of all sizes have significant influence on our communities, and are themselves communities that need to be engaged if the wider economic and social transition is to be successful.

Members of the TTandC team are currently working with ten transition initiatives in a pilot project known as REconomy which will identify and spread best practice in engaging existing businesses and stimulating the start up of new social enterprises, so both can thrive and prosper in low-carbon, re-localised markets. REconomy is also looking to develop an understanding of what a ‘Transition local economy’ may look like. A survey will shortly be published to solicit your input to help inform our work, all of which will be openly shared.

TTandC has already developed services that help existing businesses appreciate and explore the economic, social and environmental paradigms emerging in the low-carbon, high-energy/resource cost world. These include an Energy Resilience Assessment tool which identifies specific vulnerabilities, and points to possible changes to a business model. To help this tool reach more organisations, TTandC practitioners warmly welcome introductions to businesses from Transition groups or individuals.

In addition, this month TTandC has been training (and also learning from) new Energy Resilience Assessment practitioners in the Basque Country of Spain who are associated with the Mondragon group of coops. This is building on a visit by Pete Lipman and Ben Brangwyn last July, who are still spoken of with utter awe and admiration for having cycled there!

Every Imperialist Nation Looks Strong Until The Last Five Minutes

Body Mind Medicine

Czechoslovakian independence leader Eduard Benes is unique among national leaders for having been forced into exile twice in his political career. The first time was for opposing the Austro-Hungarian Empire before and during World War I and the second time was before World War II, for resisting Nazi Germany during Hitler’s takeover of the Sudentenland. The anti-monarchist, anti-fascist Benes once said: “Every imperialist nation looks strong until the last five minutes.”

I suspect that that saying could be justifiably applied to the views of the propaganda arm of the Mubarak regime: Egyptian state TV. And I think it could be applied also to the views of Mubarak’s 28,000 security police and hired thugs, some of which wounded thousands and murdered over 300 unarmed demonstrators in Liberation Square, trying to stop the unstoppable Young People’s non-violent pro-democracy revolution.

The anti-democracy right-wingers who had prospered during Mubarak’s 30-year rule were suddenly and rudely awakened from their delusions of grandeur, less than the proverbial five minutes after hearing that Mubarak had turned tail and fled Cairo. They had been asleep in their comfy beds, assured of their continued personal security after hearing their president-for-life’s out of touch bedtime speech the evening before.

I’ll bet that the ex-Air Force general himself was in massive denial about the impending end of his imperial rule.

And I also suspect that he is also denying his guilt in the massive crimes against humanity that he orchestrated during the reign of terror, a horrific period of Egyptian history during which arbitrary arrests were common, torture of suspects was routine and the imprisonment of hundreds of thousands of dissenters occurred. And while this repression was happening, tens of millions of innocents were living in poverty, humiliated and demoralized while the ruling elite were living in luxury.

If Saudi Arabia Cannot Make Up The Libyan Oil Loss, There Will Be Market Pandemonium


Let’s say that Libya’s entire oil production shuts down, a process that currently seems under way. Would Saudi Arabia genuinely make up the difference, as its energy minister, Ali al-Naimi , has said in Riyadh? The answer is crucial — everyone from the presidents of the world’s leading industrial nations to the CEOs of the Fortune 500 to Wall Street expects Naimi to step up to the plate with Saudi’s 4 million barrels a day of excess production capacity should there be an oil shortage. It’s not an exaggeration to say that the global economy relies on this presumption.

Yet, not everyone thinks the answer is as pat as the conventional wisdom suggests. For instance, in its overnight note to clients, Cameron Hanover, an energy analysis firm, cast doubt on Saudi Arabia’s ability to keep the market supplied:

OPEC, namely Saudi Arabia, pledged to make up any oil lost from Libya, which exports around 1.6 million barrels of oil per day. Of course, that only works as long as Saudi Arabia avoids contagion. And we have not read of contagion ever spreading with greater speed than has been seen these last few weeks. The spread has rivaled the spread of the Black Plague 650 years ago. That very speed may be the factor that has oil markets most on edge.

So now we come to where the rubber hits the road with the turmoil in the Middle East: Just what is the risk of the entire global economy going south, which is what would happen if the Saudis couldn’t compensate for a global oil deficit as they have done in the past?

Reuters called a Saudi oil disruption “unthinkable,” and in his remarks yesterday, the long-reigning al-Naimi demonstrated that he still has the power to move markets as Brent benchmark crude rose just 4 cents for the day. Even if the Saudis had a bit of trouble, Michael Levi suggests that the world can plan ahead and make up the difference since it has so much in the way of stored-up reserves.

Chris Hedges: Huffington’s Plunder


I was in New York City on Thursday night at the Brecht Forum to discuss with the photographer Eugene Richards his powerful new book “War Is Personal” when I was approached for an interview by a blogger for The Huffington Post. I had just finished speaking with another blogger who had recently graduated from UC Berkeley.

These encounters, which are frequent at public events, break my heart. I see myself in the older bloggers, many of whom worked for newspapers until they took buyouts or were laid off, as well as in the aspiring reporters. These men and women love the trade. They want to make a difference. They have the integrity not to sell themselves to public relations firms or corporate-funded propaganda outlets. And they keep at it, the way true artists, musicians or actors do, although there are dimmer and dimmer hopes of compensation. They are victims of a dying culture, one that no longer values the talents that would keep it healthy and humane. The corporate state remunerates corporate management and public relations. It lavishes money on the celebrities who provide the fodder for our national mini-dramas. But those who deal with the bedrock virtues of truth, justice and beauty, who seek not to entertain but to transform, are discarded. They must struggle on their own.

The sale of The Huffington Post to AOL for $315 million, and the tidy profit of reportedly at least several million dollars made by principal owner and founder Arianna Huffington, who was already rich, is emblematic of this new paradigm of American journalism. The Huffington Post, as Stephen Colbert pointed out when he stole the entire content of The Huffington Post and rechristened it The Colbuffington Re-post, produces little itself. The highly successful site, like most Internet sites, is largely pirated from other sources, especially traditional news organizations, or is the product of unpaid writers who are rechristened “citizen journalists.” It is driven by

Gene Logsdon: Tasty Meat Comes From The Kitchen, Not the Field

The Contrary Farmer

Furious arguments sweep back and forth over the landscape about whether pasture-raised meat is better or worse than corn-fed meat. I think pasture-raised might be healthier food depending on the quality of the pasture, but when the debate focuses on taste, oh my. Years and years ago, a similar argument was popular: whether hogs fed on steamed slop (garbage) tasted better or worse than corn-fed hogs. A butcher could supposedly tell by finger-punching a hog carcass, whether the hog had been slop-fed or corn-fed by how soft or hard it was. We farm boys had a sort of ritual. We would finger-punch each other and, if praise were in order, pronounce the boy so punched as “corn fed.” If he were deemed soft and sissified for whatever reason, a finger punch would draw forth a derisive “slop fed.” In that kind of culture, pasture-raised meat was never going to have a chance over corn-fed even if the hams had no more give in them than anvils.

Then along came my father-in-law who raised and butchered his own hogs and smoke-cured the best-tasting hams in Kentucky, so everyone who ate at his table claimed. He told me that the way to do it right was to feed a hog for two years (none of this modern four to five-month wonder stuff) mostly on acorns and then cure the hams by his own special mix of salt (had to be a particular kind of moist salt he bought by the barrel), brown sugar and pepper, rubbing the mix into the meat every day for the first month of the curing process. He even specified how many rubs (ten) each ham should be given at each rubbing. Then he smoked the meat with hickory just so-so and left it hang in the smokehouse to age a month or more. Corn, or lack thereof, had very little to do with it.

I was out in Nebraska once talking to a tough old cowboy type whose flesh was as dark and sinewy as father-in-law’s hams. He sort of snorted at my praise for a corn-fed beef steak I had eaten in Omaha. He declared that a really tasty filet came out of the back strip of a four- year- old range cow that wouldn’t know an ear of corn from a watermelon.

How to Build a Lifeboat

The Automatic Earth (11/08)

[…] we are facing deflation and… I wanted to review and explain the suggestions we have made previously for dealing with a deflationary scenario….

1. Hold no debt (for most people this means renting)
2. Hold cash and cash equivalents (short term treasuries) under your own control
3. Don’t trust the banking system, deposit insurance or no deposit insurance
4. Sell equities, real estate, most bonds, commodities, collectibles (or short if you can afford to gamble)
5. Gain some control over the necessities of your own existence if you can afford it
6. Be prepared to work with others as that will give you far greater scope for resilience and security
7. If you have done all that and still have spare resources, consider precious metals as an insurance policy
8. Be worth more to your employer than he is paying you
9. Look after your health!

1) The reason that getting rid of debt is priority #1 is that during deflation, real interest rates will be punishingly high even if nominal rates are low. That is because the real rate (adjusted for changes in the money supply) is the nominal rate minus inflation, which can be positive or negative. During inflationary times, this means that the real rate of interest is lower than the nominal rate, and can even be negative as it was during parts of then 1970s and again in the middle of our own decade. People have taken on huge amounts of debt because they were effectively being paid to borrow, but periods of negative real interest rates are a trap. They lure people into too much debt that they may not be able to service if real rates rise even a little. Most people are thoroughly enmeshed in that trap now as real rates are set to rise substantially.

When inflation is negative (i.e. deflation), the real rate of interest is the nominal rate minus negative inflation. In other words, the real rate is higher than the nominal rate,

Madison: It’s class warfare plain and simple

Thanks to Joe Wildman

Common Dreams

[We can always count on the right wing nuts to go too far. Looks like this is the one that could turn the tide on the Reagan insanity. One can hope… DS]

From the front lines in Madison, WI

As someone who has been involved in the protests in Madison for the past six days, I find the news media coverage of the momentous events in this town to in no way portray the reality of what is going on here. In their attempts to constantly be balanced, the news media seem to have lost all ability to be accurate.

The mass protests by unions and their allies that have occurred in Madison, WI, resulted after an abrupt announcement by Governor Walker late last Friday, Feb. 11, that he was introducing and fast-tracking a so-called “Budget Repair” bill, which would not only deeply cut benefits to public workers, but effectively strip unions of all of their collective bargaining rights. The response to the Governor’s move was rapid and in no way orchestrated or long-planned – there was absolutely no possible time for that. By late Monday, Feb 14, the WI state legislature announced a hearing of the bill in the Joint Finance Committee which was open for public testimony. It was then that unions and affected public sector workers began to try to organize to fight the bill.

Interestingly, members of the public, including myself, arrived early Tuesday morning to have our positions heard in the committee hearing on the bill. When the public testimony began, numerous media outlets were present to cover the proceedings. The media portrayed the hearing as a chance for “both sides” to have their voices heard, as if this were an even dispute between two viewpoints with equally numbered constituents. That was not the case. The clerk’s office documented testimony against the bill versus for the bill to be roughly 20 to 1, at least. Moreover, I know first hand that many of the bill supporters who spoke before and after I did had not been waiting in line with the rest of us.

The Vast Right Wing Conspiracy Funding Gov. Scott Walker

Think Progress

Over 68,000 people have mobilized in Madison and progressive organizers are planning solidarity efforts across the country to denounce Gov. Scott Walker’s (R-WI) radical attempt to bust Wisconsin’s public sector unions. So far, Walker has refused to compromise, even though Wisconsin labor leaders are already coming to the table with large concessions. How can Walker press on, even with public opinion beginning to turn against him? Much of Walker’s critical political support can be credited to a network of right-wing fronts and astroturf groups in Wisconsin supported largely by a single foundation in Milwaukee: the Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation, a $460 million conservative honey pot dedicated to crushing the labor movement.

Walker has deeply entwined his administration with the Bradley Foundation. The Bradley Foundation’s CEO, former state GOP chairman Michele Grebe, chaired Walker’s campaign and headed his transition. But more importantly, the organizations lining up to support Walker are financed by Bradley cash:

– The MacIver Institute is a conservative nonprofit that has provided rapid-response attacks on those opposed to Walker’s power grab. MacIver staffers produced a series of videos attacking anti-Walker protesters, including one mocking children. Naturally, the videos have become grist for Fox News and conservative bloggers. In addition, MacIver created studies claiming that Wisconsin teachers and nurses are paid too “generously” and other reportsclaiming that collective bargaining rights hurt taxpayers. The Bradley Foundation has supported MacIver with over $300,000 in grants over the last three years alone.

– The Wisconsin Policy Research Institute is a major conservative think tank helping Walker win support from the media. The Institute has funded polls to bolster Walker’s position, and like MacIver, produced a flurry of attack videos against Walker’s political adversaries

Ralph Nader: Time To Topple Corporate Dictators


The 18 day non-violent Egyptian protests for freedom raise the question: is America next? Were Thomas Jefferson and Thomas Paine around, they would likely say “what are we waiting for?” They would be appalled by the concentration of economic and political power in such a few hands. Remember how often these two men warned about concentrated power.

Crimes and misdemeanors

Our Declaration of Independence (1776) listed grievances against King George III. A good number of them could have been made against “King” George W. Bush who not only brushed aside Congressional War-making authority under the Constitution but plunged the nation through lies into extended illegal wars which he conducted in violation of international law. Even conservative legal scholars such as Republicans Bruce Fein and former Judge Andrew Napolitano believe he and Dick Cheney still should be prosecuted for war and other related crimes. The conservative American Bar Association sent George W. Bush three “white papers” in 2005-2006 that documented his distinct violations of the Constitution he had sworn to uphold.

Here at home, the political system is a two-party dictatorship whose gerrymandering results in most electoral districts being one-party fiefdoms. The two parties block the freedom of third parties and independent candidates to have equal access to the ballots and to the debates. Another barrier to competitive democratic elections is big money, largely commercial in source, which marinates most politicians in cowardliness and sinecurism.

Our legislative and executive branches, at the federal and state levels, can fairly be called corporate regimes. This is corporatism where government is controlled by private economic power. President Franklin Delano Roosevelt called this grip “fascism” in a formal message to Congress in 1938.

Robert Reich: Why we should raise taxes — significantly — on the super-rich and lower them on the middle class

Author of Aftershock: The Next Economy and America’s Future

My proposal to raise the marginal tax to 70 percent on incomes over $15 million, to 60 percent on incomes between $5 million and $15 million, and to 50 percent on incomes between $500,000 and $5 million, has generated considerable debate. Some progressives think it’s pie-in-the-sky. Here, for example, is Andrew Leonard, a staff writer for Salon:

A 70 percent tax bracket for the richest Americans is pure fantasy – even suggesting it represents such a fundamental disconnect with the world as it exists today that it is hard to see why it should be taken seriously. I would be deeply worried about the sanity of a Democratic president who proposed such a thing.

Fantasy? I don’t know Mr. Leonard’s age but perhaps he could be forgiven for not recalling that between the late 1940s and 1980 America’s highest marginal rate averaged above 70 percent. Under Republican President Dwight Eisenhower it was 91 percent. Not until the 1980s did Ronald Reagan slash it to 28 percent. (Many considered Reagan’s own proposal a “fantasy” before it was enacted.)

Incidentally, during these years the nation’s pre-tax income was far less concentrated at the top than it is now. In the mid-1970s, for example, the top 1 percent got around 9 percent of total income. By 2007, they got 23.5 percent. So if anything, the argument for a higher marginal tax should be even more realistic now than it was during the days when it was taken for granted.

A disconnect with the world as it exists today? That’s exactly the point of proposing it. For years progressives have whined that Democratic presidents (Clinton, followed by Obama) compromise with Republicans while Republican presidents (Reagan through W) stand their ground — with the result that the center of political debate has moved steadily rightward. That’s the reason the world exists the way it does today.

Will Parrish: Our local water commons has been stolen from us by Globalized Corporate Wine Colonizers to produce high-end booze. Does anyone care? (Updated)

Frey Family Vineyards: A Better Way


[Update: Investigative reporter Will Parrish will discuss his controversial recent series on the ecological toll of California’s wine industry, with a special emphasis on rapacious vineyard development in the Gualala River watershed: The North Coast Wine Industry: Draining Our Rivers Dry]

Don Sanderson: Will, your articles have been quite interesting. Alas, this has been happening in other agricultural sectors all over the country as, for example, in dairying. I can even trace the roots back to seventeenth century England. As long as cities made demands, there have been those who saw an opportunity for wealth if they could control all aspects of production and delivery. Those of that color eliminated my prospects for succeeding as a farmer way back in the fifties.

Still, there are many small vineyard owners who are attempting to make it with great difficulties, out in the fields doing their own work. There are also small proprietor-owned wineries scattered around the county providing employment for quite a few and making honest wine from those vineyard owners’ grapes. It is important not to tar and feather them with the same brush.

Will Parrish: Thanks for your kind words on the series, Don. Because your critique is basically the same as a few other people have offered, I’ll address it at length here….

In my work as an investigative journalist, I try to act as an interlocutor with current orthodoxy, expressing forbidden silences and demonstrating how the interests of rapacious power are served when certain things get omitted from public discourse.

Egypt, Wisconsin, and the Future of Our Democracy. Fight back! We have to beat them!

Author, The Progressive Revolution: How the Best in America Came to Be

I loved how close ally of Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, Rep. Paul Ryan, blurted out that Madison in recent days looked like Egypt. Realizing that made the protesters sound like the good guys, he tried to backtrack with something incoherent about meaning the violent protests there, but given that the only violence in Egypt was done by the government and Mubarak’s allies, he just dug himself a deeper hole.

The fact is that the pictures we are seeing and the story playing out in Wisconsin is like Egypt in some really important ways. The new mass militancy of union members, students, and other allies of the maligned teachers, social workers, cops, firefighters, and other public employees being attacked and threatened by the governor is not a manufactured thing, it is a mass movement spreading like wildfire, building in momentum day by day. Blaming public employees for the state’s economic problems is like blaming foreign aid (less than 1 percent of the budget) for our federal budget deficit: The numbers don’t add up. And building an economic strategy around breaking unions, laying off more workers, driving down wages, depriving retirees of pensions, and forcing already hard-pressed workers to pay more out of pocket for health care is pure, unadulterated economic insanity. Taking money out of the economy and decimating a huge part of the middle class’ disposable income is not exactly a formula for stimulating a recovery.

The response to Gov. Walker’s insanity has been as inspiring as the protesters in Egypt, and it is a joy to see workers, students, and progressives of all stripes spontaneously say “NO!” in a very loud voice. In fact, it is clear that protesters in Wisconsin and Ohio were inspired by the Egyptian democracy movement; some folks were even carrying Egyptian flags. The fact that the protests are spreading

Shy U.S. Intellectual Created Playbook Used in a Revolution

Thanks to Ron Epstein

BOSTON — Halfway around the world from Tahrir Square in Cairo, an aging American intellectual shuffles about his cluttered brick row house in a working-class neighborhood here. His name is Gene Sharp. Stoop-shouldered and white-haired at 83, he grows orchids, has yet to master the Internet and hardly seems like a dangerous man.

But for the world’s despots, his ideas can be fatal.

Few Americans have heard of Mr. Sharp. But for decades, his practical writings on nonviolent revolution — most notably “From Dictatorship to Democracy,” a 93-page guide to toppling autocrats, available for download in 24 languages — have inspired dissidents around the world, including in Burma, Bosnia, Estonia and Zimbabwe, and now Tunisia and Egypt. [From Dictatorship to Democracy also available on Ukiah Blog here. -DS]

When Egypt’s April 6 Youth Movement was struggling to recover from a failed effort in 2005, its leaders tossed around “crazy ideas” about bringing down the government, said Ahmed Maher, a leading strategist. They stumbled on Mr. Sharp while examining the Serbian movement Otpor, which he had influenced.

When the nonpartisan International Center on Nonviolent Conflict, which trains democracy activists, slipped into Cairo several years ago to conduct a workshop, among the papers it distributed was Mr. Sharp’s “198 Methods of Nonviolent Action,” a list of tactics that range from hunger strikes to “protest disrobing” to “disclosing identities of secret agents.”

Dalia Ziada, an Egyptian blogger and activist who attended the workshop and later organized similar sessions on her own, said trainees were active in both the Tunisia and Egypt revolts. She said that some activists translated excerpts of Mr. Sharp’s work into Arabic, and that his message of “attacking weaknesses of dictators” stuck with them.

198 Methods of Taking Nonviolent Action

Nonviolent Action
Thanks to Ron Epstein

[These methods were compiled by Dr. Gene Sharp and first published in his 1973 book, The Politics of Nonviolent Action, Vol. 2: The Methods of Nonviolent Action. (Boston: Porter Sargent Publishers, 1973). The book outlines each method and gives information about its historical use.]


Formal Statements
1. Public Speeches
2. Letters of opposition or support
3. Declarations by organizations and institutions
4. Signed public statements
5. Declarations of indictment and intention
6. Group or mass petitions

Communications with a Wider Audience
7. Slogans, caricatures, and symbols
8. Banners, posters, and displayed communications
9. Leaflets, pamphlets, and books
10. Newspapers and journals
11. Records, radio, and television
12. Skywriting and earthwriting

Group Representations
13. Deputations
14. Mock awards
15. Group lobbying
16. Picketing
17. Mock elections

Symbolic Public Acts
18. Displays of flags and symbolic colors
19. Wearing of symbols
20. Prayer and worship
21. Delivering symbolic objects
22. Protest disrobings
23. Destruction of own property
24. Symbolic lights
25. Displays of portraits
26. Paint as protest
27. New signs and names
28. Symbolic sounds
29. Symbolic reclamations
30. Rude gestures

Carbonara-Based Life (recipe)

Front Porch Republic Blog

There’s a story (if memory serves) about a little spat that affected the greatest and best-dressed rock band ever.

(I confess that, given the inveterate mendacity of consciousness, one never knows for sure whether one is being ironic or sincere.)

During a rehearsal or a sound check or something, Neal Schon was wailing away on his guitar, as was (and is) his wont—and long may he wail—when the ever-humble Steve Perry came over and turned his amp down. “They want to hear the voice,” Perry said, pointing to himself. “The voice.”

Divorce was inevitable, and eventually it came, and I, like many whose musical tastes are impeccable, regretted it. But still there are days when, standing in my kitchen, inching toward the vital late-afternoon decision as the lights go down in the city, I want to hear both the wailing guitar and the soaring pinched voice. And that can mean only one thing: I’ve decided to feed the troops some carbonara (and maybe hope for some lovin’, touchin’, and squeezin’).

That this culinary delight (not to mention this melodious word) is not on the lips of more people is a mystery, given how good it tastes and how simple it is to make. Of course you can make it more complicated if you want to, and that’s okay by me (first rule of cooking to music: more time in the kitchen is better than less). Any way you want it, that’s the way you need it.

Carbonara makes use of two important staples that, were I the head of the USDA, would be food groups unto themselves: bacon and eggs. (Bacon! Is there anything it can’t do? And, O, thou egg! How noble in design, how infinite in flavor! In form and moving how express and admirable!)

Faithful reader—and even you, my enemy, benighted though you be—hear the words of the greatest and best-dressed rock band ever: be good to yourself. Make your move across the Rubicon.

Get a pound of bacon.

Book Review: Overdiagnosed — Making People Sick In The Pursuit Of Health

Basil & Spice Blog

Conventional wisdom is that more diagnosis, especially early diagnosis, means better medical care. Reality, says Dr. Gilbert Welch – author of “Overdiagnosed,” is that more diagnosis leads to excessive treatment that can harm patients, make healthy  people feel less so and even cause depression, and add to escalating health care costs. In fact, physician Welch believes overdiagnosis is the biggest problem for modern medicine, and relevant to almost all medical conditions. Welch devotes most of his book to documenting his concerns via examples of early diagnosis efforts for hypertension, prostate cancer, breast cancer, etc. that caused patient problems.

Welch provides readers with four important and generalizable points. The first is that, while target guidelines are set by panels of experts, those experts bring with them biases and sometimes even monetary incentives from drug-makers, etc. Over the past decades many target levels have been changed (eg. blood pressure, cholesterol levels, PSA levels), dramatically increasing the number classified as having a particular condition. (Welch adds that prostate cancer can be found at any PSA level – about 8% for those with a PSA level of 1 or less, over 30% for those with a level exceeding 4; most are benign.)…

Full review here
See also Psychiatric Drugging of Infants and Toddlers in the US – Part I

…and New psychiatric disorders flag normal human behaviors as “diseases”

…and Fish oil supplements prevent mental illness; safe and effective alternative to antipsychotic drugs

…and A nutritional approach to psychiatry has been marginalized

…and more http://www.naturalnews.com/psychiatry.html

Will Parrish: When They Came For The Navarro

Via theAVA.com

The North Coast wine industry has long acted out a pathological conviction that it is entitled to virtually every single drop of water in every watershed it touches. As in the case of Sonoma County’s recent frost protec­tion ordinance, which I detailed in the December 14 Anderson Valley Advertiser, the industry routinely rises up as one — along with their local government allies — to quash any restrictions on its ability to draw water with accustomed impunity, though that particular ordinance is now threatened by disagreements, it seems, about the degree of non-regulation the big corporate growers find acceptable. Yet, there are few industries more in need of restrictions on their water use.

In the past 20 years, the North Coast’s alcohol farm­ers have dried up countless creeks and streams, while choking off rivers and filling in their spawning pools with monumental amounts of sediment (entire hillsides worth). They have, moreover, poisoned what water remains with the full menu of chemical fertilizers, soil fumigants, growth hormones, herbicides, defoliants, fun­gicides, pesticides, and systemic poisons most growers use to ensure the bounty and sterility of their crops.

The Napa River — once teeming with life — is now little more than a collection of stagnant pools during many summer months, making it often resemble a breeding ground for mosquitoes more than for fish. The Russian River — regarded until a few decades ago as the greatest Steelhead trout fishery in the country, is now almost entirely devoid of life. As I documented in the November 25th AVA, the river’s historically most important salmonid spawning tributary, Mark West Creek, now runs dry every summer as a result of rapa­cious vineyard development. And the Gualala River — heavily under siege by vineyard prospectors like William Hill and Richard Wollack — has seen its Wheatfield Fork running dry

Do-it-yourself GMO labels: Show grocers how to label their GMO and factory farmed foods!

Natural News’ Mike Adams joins OCA director Ronnie Cummins for a live discussion on the myth of “coexistence” between organics and GMOs, and how grassroots action and truth-in-labeling can start to drive Monsanto’s genetically engineered crops and foods off the market. This is the first in a series.

When: February 24th, 2011, 7 p.m. Central Time

Registration for this free event is limited. Please visit http://www.organicconsumers.org/art… to register.

This will be a call-in event, and it is an action-oriented effort to help educate the public about the GMOs in foods that are being sold right now, in grocery stores and even health food stores across America (and around the world).

Our goal in this campaign is to protect consumers from the genetically engineered ingredients in their foods. At the very least, consumers have a right to know when they’re buying GMOs, and that’s why the honest, accurate labeling of foods that contain genetically engineered ingredients is something that consumers must now demand from the food companies.

The FDA, the USDA, and of course the big food companies all want to keep their GMOs as their “dirty little secret,” hoping you won’t notice the altered ingredients in the food supply. We aim to expose that secret and achieve full disclosure regarding GMOs in manufactured foods.

Join us by registering for this free, limited event:

Predatory Capitalism In 2 Minutes

Thanks to Gary Kohls

Predatory Capitalism In 2 Hours
(circa 2008)

[This is one pissed-off essayist… and rightly so! -DS]

This essay was written by Dr. James J Crook out of a sense of moral outrage, as an average American citizen, at the alarming fascist and imperialistic sharp change of direction the national government has taken, due to dollar-driven corporate power which has acquired a strangle hold on the country in a short period of time via infiltrating the Office of the Presidency, relegating the nation’s head of state and fellow corporate investor to puppet status, and is presently at the helm of America’s Ship of State which is dangerously sailing into the direction of an immense iceberg.

This treatise faces off with and addresses the theory and unwritten Doctrine of Predatory Capitalism which is the re-appearance of Social Darwinisim (renamed) in the United States of America.

European-style Social Darwinism is a “survival of the fittest” philosophy, economically speaking, wherein poor and lower middle class people’s only purpose in life, it is theorized, is to serve, and be eaten by, the rich and powerful as a legitimate law of Nature. This economic philosophy is spawned from the same discriminatory social mentality accounting for economic caste systems and the historical concept of human slavery. It is a pervasive evil, sociopathic in nature, born of incredible corporate greed, that knows no moral boundaries

Gene Logsdon: Heating With Wood Is An Eco-Crime?

The Contrary Farmer

That’s what a recent (Jan. 20) article suggested in the New York Times. After a few more provocative captions like that and a liberal use of the subjunctive mood to convince us of the dangers of burning wood, the article simmered down to saying what most of us already know: if you use dry seasoned wood and a certified low-polluting heating system, burning wood is as safe as heating with anything, but perhaps not in areas of heavy population like New York City. It is questionable whether automobiles are appropriate technology for New York City either and many people there in fact do not own one. I wonder how the Times would be received if it voiced a notion that driving cars is an eco-crime.

I don’t know the statistics but I will bet anything that the airplanes flying high above us belch out more pollution in a day than the fireplaces and woodburning stoves of New York City emit in a whole winter. I am certain that the millions upon millions of cars, buses, trucks, tractors and bulldozers in this country emit more pollutants every second than all the woodburning stoves do in a year. Furthermore, have the people who think burning wood is an eco-crime ever stopped  to consider how many millions of tons of coal and natural gas and fuel oil are burned every day to provide them with heat or to generate electric heat that they think is so much “greener” than burning wood? Then add on the vast amounts of these fuels that are burned to manufacture the appliances that deliver that heat to all those businesses and high rises and oversized suburban mansions. Then add on the whole energy consumption

Dave Smith: Join Progressives United. I have. (Updated)

(Progressives United Website)

[Update: Feingold on Rachel Maddow]

Our Mission

In January of 2010, the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision greatly expanded the corrupting influence of corporate special interests. It’s time we fought back. Launched one year after that decision, Progressives United will:

1. Empower Americans to stand up against the exploding corporate influence in Washington, especially since the Citizens United decision.

2. Hold our representatives accountable to every constituent, regardless of economic class or insider access.

3. Support national, state, and local candidates who stand up for our progressive ideals.

Moving Forward

On January 21, 2010, the Supreme Court issued a historic decision in Citizens United v. FEC that undercut one hundred years of precedent, and declared that corporations have the same political rights as individuals.  Progressives United is founded in the wake of that disastrous decision to fight back by empowering Americans to take back their right to free speech and fair elections.

Progressives United aims to build a massive grassroots effort dedicated to

Small is Best

Photo: Mendocino Organics Chicken CSA

Via Chelsea Green
Excerpt – The Sheer Ecstasy of Being a Lunatic Farmer

Joel Salatin is an internationally acclaimed farmer, conference speaker, and author. He and his family operate Polyface Farms in Augusta County near Staunton, Virginia.

Before industrialism, farms were localized and seasonal. The ebb and flow of production and activity followed a pattern dictated by local economies, weather, and availability of nearby materials. . . .

Compare that to today’s confinement turkey industry, which started just 30 miles north of our farm in Harrisonburg, Virginia. The only reason the industry started there was because an entrepreneur named Charles Wampler began raising turkeys in confinement. Eventually the breeding program at the USDA research farm in Beltsville, Maryland, developed the double-breasted turkey. By that time, the pharmaceutical industry was up and running to supply cheap medications so that the birds could be kept alive in extremely unhealthy and unnatural conditions.

The entire industrial food system was only possible because of antibiotics for animals and pesticides for plants. Without those two things, these anti-nature production models would not exist and humans would still be dependent on multi-speciation, intricate relationships, and indigenous conditions. . . .

A Masanobu Fukuoka Inspired Permaculture Garden


A set of three videos describing the work of legendary Japanese farmer and philosopher, Masanobu Fukuoka. French gardener Emilia Hazelip walks us through her garden explaining the Fukuoka methods she has adopted.

The 4 Principles of Synergistic Agriculture are:

1. No cultivation
2. No chemical or organic fertilizers
3. No chemical treatments
4. No compaction of the soil

Pt 2 and Pt 3 here

More Fukuoka here

When Democracy Weakens


Thanks to Mari Rodin

As the throngs celebrated in Cairo, I couldn’t help wondering about what is happening to democracy here in the United States. I think it’s on the ropes. We’re in serious danger of becoming a democracy in name only.

While millions of ordinary Americans are struggling with unemployment and declining standards of living, the levers of real power have been all but completely commandeered by the financial and corporate elite. It doesn’t really matter what ordinary people want. The wealthy call the tune, and the politicians dance.

So what we get in this democracy of ours are astounding and increasingly obscene tax breaks and other windfall benefits for the wealthiest, while the bought-and-paid-for politicians hack away at essential public services and the social safety net, saying we can’t afford them. One state after another is reporting that it cannot pay its bills. Public employees across the country are walking the plank by the tens of thousands. Camden, N.J., a stricken city with a serious crime problem, laid off nearly half of its police force. Medicaid, the program that provides health benefits to the poor, is under savage assault from nearly all quarters.

The poor, who are suffering from an all-out depression, are never heard from. In terms of their clout, they might as well not exist. The Obama forces reportedly want to raise a billion dollars or more for the president’s re-election bid. Politicians in search of that kind of cash

Gardens Project: Something To Chew On – Seed Exchange

Organic Malali Watermelon Seeds by Dave Smith

Mendocino Gardens Project Blog

On Saturday, February 5th, a who’s who of Mendocino County horticulturalists descended on Anderson Valley High School for Mendocino Permaculture’s 28th annual Winter Abundance Workshop. Around 200 attendees, hailing from Hopland to Laytonville, Potter Valley to Fort Bragg, swapped plant material, knowledge, good cheer, and showed off the latest fashions springing forth in this great County.

Almost everything about the event is free to attendees, and as organizer Rob Goodell puts it, “that makes it pretty simple.” Event organizers call the Winter Workshop a “public service event” and declare “a feast of knowledge may be had by all who are ready to eat!” Organizer Barbara Goodell says it’s “an incredibly diverse group that comes to the event, both age- and interest-wise,” and the lady speaks the truth! There were mere babes to octogenarians, dread locks to crew cuts, horticultural novices to professional fruit farmers, and everyone in between!

Free offerings included: admission; an assortment of hundreds of fruit, vegetable, herb, and flower seeds, collected and brought to the event by local gardeners; hundreds of apple, pear, plum, apricot, fig, kiwi, grape, peach, olive and other fruit scions (vine and tree cuttings used for grafting);

How About Some Stinging Nettle Soup?

Via Culinate

It’s been said that as long as you’re near water, you’ll never go hungry. Cattails have been hailed as “nature’s supermarket” and arrowhead has been called the “swamp potato”; watercress graces the menus of the fanciest restaurants.

But even Euell Gibbons, the father of the modern wild-food craze, makes a glaring omission in his forager’s bible, Stalking the Wild Asparagus: There is not a single mention of stinging nettles.

Stinging nettles are delicious, abundant, and oft-overlooked. And you don’t even have to live in the sticks to find them.

Stinging nettles (Urtica dioica) grow in swampy places and riparian corridors along streams throughout North America, Europe, Asia, and northern Africa. They resemble a mint, though they’re in their own botanical family (the Urticaceae). They’re easily identified by their pairs of deltoid (slightly triangular), dentate leaves (opposite-decussate in orientation), with fine spines covering the stems and leaves.

In the Pacific Northwest, they first poke their little heads out of the alder and cottonwood duff in February or March, in search of spring’s first warming sun — depending on your neck of the woods, they’ll be out a little earlier

Reverend Billy: Crawl Back To The Ocean


The Church of Life After Shopping

We have a schizophrenic feeling about water. We grow up with the loving mysterious frame of the blue lakes, of fluffy clouds and sunsets over oceans. Our youthful baptism grows into swimming and then into honeymooning on a white sand beach. We love water near us – how it seems to hold life in it. But then at the same time we colonize water, demanding its presence to wash, to drink without thinking, to defecate into and dismiss into pipes. We have industrially fished the oceans to death, the rivers are dammed and diverted and poisoned.

And then, in a flash, this dominance of water changed: Our slave became our boss. Our sentimental friend got very serious. Now everyday the water rises up and floods the celebrities off the news. The blizzards, mudslides, tsunamis – everyday we are drowned. The horizon to horizon floods of Pakistan and Australia astonish us. Last week a storm paralyzed my neighborhood in New York. The storm reached to the Rockies, nearly two thousand miles across. The vapors and crystals and waves of water seemed to need to outsize the USA.

The leaders of nation-states, corporations, armies and big religions – they offer nothing but official comment on this apocalyptic turn of events. The continent-size storms are countered