The Future of Manufacturing is Local


From ALLISON ARIEFF
NYT

Think manufacturing, and most likely your brain defaults to abandoned factories, outsourcing and economically devastated regions like the Rust Belt. So strong is our tendency to focus on American manufacturing as something that’s been lost that a chorus has risen up to decry the prevalence of “ruin porn” — those aestheticized versions of the decidedly un-pretty, with a particular focus on the once-triumphant automotive center of the universe, Detroit.

But there are many parts of this country where manufacturing is very much alive, albeit in a different form. The monolithic industry model — steel, oil, lumber, cars — has evolved into something more nimble and diversified. As this country continues to figure out how to crawl out of its economic despair, we could benefit from focusing on the shift.

President Obama, looking for ideas for job creation, came to San Francisco last month to pick the brains of tech-industry giants like Steve Jobs, Larry Ellison and Mark Zuckerberg. He would have done well to include Kate Sofis as well — and not only to right the gender imbalance at the dinner table. Sofis, executive director of SFMade, is helping breathe new life into a forgotten potential economic driver: manufacturing.

Over 4 Million Move Their Accounts From Wall Street Banks in 2010


From SARA ACKERMAN
Project Coordinator, Move Your Money

More than 4 million accounts have already moved away from the nation’s largest banks and this trend will only increase according to Moebs Services, an economic research firm in Lake Bluff, IL. Previously, large banks with over $50 billion in assets held 45% of the 130 million consumer checking accounts in 2009. That number has been decreasing dramatically with Bank of America losing 400,000 accounts in 2010 alone.

This trend will only continue, according to Michael Moebs, CEO of Moebs Services, who predicts an additional 7 to 9 million accounts moving by the end of 2011. The trend should plateau in 2012 after the nation’s largest banks see between 13 and 17 million accounts moving to local community banks and credit unions in just three short years. If Moebs’ predictions come to fruition, the largest financial firms will only hold a third of all free checking accounts in the US by the end of 2012, a huge drop from the 45% they held in 2009.

This mass-exodus from the nation’s ‘Too Big To Fail’ firms is by no means accidental. Customers are beginning to wise-up to Wall Street’s abuses and are choosing to vote with their dollars. The Move Your Money project, a campaign that began around a Christmas dinner table by Arianna Huffington and a few friends, encouraged individuals and institutions to divest from the nation’s largest Wall Street banks and move to local financial institutions. One year later, the campaign

Barry Vogel Interviews Richard Johnson — Part 2


From BARRY VOGEL
Radio Curious
Originally broadcast February 19th, 2008
Transcribed by Dave Smith
Parts 1|2|3|4
[Full Interview on MP3 available for download here]

A Revolutionary’s Memorial In His Own Words (cont.)

Richard: The more we environmentalists fail to hold [our local representatives] responsible for their votes, then we have failed to get electoral power. Now, as fully-realized spiritually-liberated beings, a lot of us think that going for political power is evil or selfish or bad. All we have to do is get rid of that idea and instead replace it with the idea that political power would be good if it were in our hands, and what we need to do is get some and exercise it… and what we need to do is select environmentalists. That would be a good half-way step I would like to see accomplished in my lifetime… to elect at least three, if not five, supervisors to the Board of Supervisors.

Barry: When you say “fully-realized spiritually-liberated beings” who did you have in mind?

R: (laughing) I was being facetious. Some of us think that we are fully-realized spiritually-liberated beings but we are not, as you know. I’m thinking of the left, the environmental community, the pot-smoking, back-to-the-land folks.

B: In your estimation, what percentage of the electorate does that community make up in this county?

How the ‘Peaceful Atom’ Became a Serial Killer


Nuclear Power Loses its Alibi

From CHIP WARD
CommonDreams

When nuclear reactors blow, the first thing that melts down is the truth.  Just as in the Chernobyl catastrophe almost 25 years ago when Soviet authorities denied the extent of radiation and downplayed the dire situation that was spiraling out of control, Japanese authorities spent the first week of the Fukushima crisis issuing conflicting and confusing reports.  We were told that radiation levels were up, then down, then up, but nobody aside from those Japanese bureaucrats could verify the levels and few trusted their accuracy.  The situation is under control, they told us, but workers are being evacuated.  There is no danger of contamination, but stay inside and seal your doors.

The First Atomic Snow Job

The bureaucratization of horror into bland and reassuring pronouncements was to be expected, especially from an industry where misinformation is the rule.  Although you might suppose that the nuclear industry’s outstanding characteristic would be its expertise, since it’s loaded with junior Einsteins who grasp the math and physics required to master the most awesomely sophisticated technology humans have ever created, think again.  Based on the record, it’s most outstanding characteristic is a fundamental dishonesty.

Colbert: The time to review the safety of nuclear power plants is not immediately after Japan’s environmental catastrophe


The Word: Over-Reactor
~~

Surely we can do better than nuclear socialism


From BRENT BLACKWELDER
Transition Voice

They were in the news a half century ago when they were called “too cheap to meter.”  Now “absolutely safe” nuclear reactors are once again in the news.  As the horrifying scene in Japan unfolds this month, many politicians and media pundits are acting as if the only electricity choice for the U.S. is nuclear reactors or coal power plants.  This is a false choice.

Only clean, distributed power is sustainable

A sustainable economy requires a sustainable energy supply, one that is not subject to the vulnerabilities of big central energy systems.  A steady state economy would run on a decentralized set of renewable energy sources that is clean and resilient.  It would be an economy powered by the sun, the wind, the natural heat content of the Earth, and other renewable sources. Advanced designs for where we live and how we travel would be a key part of this energy transformation. For example, buildings would be designed to generate power rather than requiring external energy supplies for cooling and heating.  And let’s not forget about conservation – we need to set up the economy such that it uses less energy in the first place.

The energy system that would run a steady state economy does not have the severe security problems

Todd Walton: Kyoto Amore


From TODD WALTON
UnderTheTable.com
Mendocino

“But a whole school of lady koto players

Best kimono and Japanese hairdo

Perform on tatami platform underneath falling blossoms”

Philip Whalen

I’ll never forget the night in 1989 when we danced at Melarkey’s on Broadway in Sacramento, dancing for joy because in a free and fair election, for the first and only time in history, the majority voted to shut down an active nuclear power plant. And only a handful of people know that Ben Davis started the whole thing, and I, in the beginning, helped him keep the ball rolling.

Ben, an eccentric, stubborn, self-educated advocate for the public good, first tried to shut down the Rancho Seco Nuclear Power Facility by single-handedly taking SMUD (Sacramento Municipal Utility District) to court for not having an adequate emergency evacuation plan in the event of a catastrophe such as the multiple catastrophes ongoing in Japan today. The courts wouldn’t oblige Ben for the usual putrid reasons (putrid as in corrupt), though Ben had more than ample proof that SMUD, for all intents and purposes, had no evacuation plan at all.

Failing to overcome the entrenched putrescence

Bruce Patterson: Animal Rescue


From BRUCE ‘PAT’ PATTERSON
4 Mules Blog
Anderson Valley

About a month before my second book came out, I received a form email from my publisher’s Manager of Marketing and Publicity. At the ripe old age of 29, I was informed, worn down by the workaday grind and determined to follow her heart, she was quitting her job so she could devote herself to doing volunteer work with Animal Rescue. So I emailed her back: “How bout me? Ain’t I an animal?”

Although I never received a response, I like to think she got a chuckle of out my wisecrack, at least until she realized I had a point. I mean, imagine if we people loved each other the way we love our little house doggies and pussy cats. Since we’re taking leaps of imagination here— for this we’d need Divine Intervention—what if we loved each other as much as we love the money in our pockets? Since about 90% of human misery is caused by greedy humans, imagine how sweet and easy our lives would be if ever we got out from under their thumbs.

I’ve been an outdoors person, both as vocation and avocation, my whole life, and I’ve spent more time around house pets, wildlife and livestock than most any busload of the kind of animal rights activists you see on TV. Yet, while my attitude toward animals ain’t nearly as romantic as theirs, we’re on the same page ethically. If “soul” is what makes humans more than the sum total

Lack of data from Japan distresses nuclear experts, confusion growing


From LATIMES
Thanks to Rosalind Peterson

(See also: Japanese nuclear safety officials said Friday that they suspect that the reactor core at one unit of the troubled Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant may have breached, raising the possibility of more severe contamination to the environment.)

How did Japanese workers at the crippled Fukushima nuclear plant jury-rig fire hoses to cool damaged reactors? Is contaminated water from waste pools overflowing into the Pacific Ocean? Exactly who is the national incident commander?

The answers to these and many other questions are unclear to U.S. nuclear scientists and policy experts, who say the quality and quantity of information coming out of Japan has left gaping holes in their understanding of the disaster nearly two weeks after it began.

At the same time, they say, the depth of the crisis has clearly been growing, judging by releases of radioactivity that by some measures have reached half the level of those released in the Chernobyl accident of 1986, according to new analysis by European and American scientists.

The lack of information has led to growing frustration with Tokyo Electric Power Co., known as Tepco, and the Japanese government, which has parceled out information