B of A Street Protest Ukiah 4/15/11: Behind the Line

The usual suspects…

TED Talks: The Antidote to Apathy

Thanks to Sean Re

Mendo Island Transition: Community Seed Banks that empower women and protect biodiversity


For fifteen years, Muniyamma, a farmer in Karnataka, India, practiced agriculture with the help of agro-chemicals, such as chemical fertilizers and pesticides, but in recent years she noticed a drastic decrease in yield.

After attending a village meeting conducted by the GREEN Foundation about organic farming, she decided to try their environmentally friendly techniques to grow bananas. When it was harvest time, Muniyamma’s plot was healthy and green, while her neighbor’s banana plot, which still relied on agro-chemicals, showed stunted growth, pale leaves, and thinner stems. That was enough to convince Muniyamma of the benefits of organic farming.

The GREEN Foundation works to preserve natural ecosystems and sustain rural livelihoods by teaching farmers the importance of agricultural biodiversity. Through village meetings, the foundation informs farmers about organic practices, such as creating fertilizer from organic waste, that are better for the environment and result in higher yields, at a lower cost, for farmers.

To protect the local biodiversity and preserve traditional seeds, the GREEN Foundation, in partnership with other NGOs, including the Seed Saver’s Network and The Development Fund, has created community seeds banks throughout the state of Karnataka, India. All villagers can become a member of a community seed bank by paying an annual nominal fee. Members, who receive seeds free of cost, sow the seeds, harvest the crop and return double the amount of seeds to the bank. To maintain purity of the seeds, farmers must follow rules – such as no chemical fertilizers and pesticides – when growing their crops.

Because these seed banks are managed by self-help groups (SHG) made up of women,

Don Sanderson: We Shall Overcome


“Socialism never took root in America because the poor see themselves not as an exploited proletariat, but as temporarily embarrassed millionaires.” – John Steinbeck

The winds of disaffection and dissent are blowing everywhere and those in charge are bringing out their big guns to finally put us in our place. What must we do? It appears this question has an enormous multiplicity of answers, many conflicting. Most of these we Americans fear because they challenge our hopes of ever achieving our ideal lifestyles as depicted on television, in movies, in magazines, and in advertisements everywhere, even if this means kowtowing to those who assert they are our masters. Still, unease has become the rule, perhaps because we really know that these hopes are mirages that are beginning to lose their substance. Here, I shall explore an answer, actually a collection of conjoined answers that have actually been under consideration for centuries, surviving and even thriving in spite of continual attacks by authorities.

I awoke the other morning from a dream, actually a series of dreams of which I shall tell you later, when the word “retrenchment” came to mind for unknown reasons. I’m unaware that I’d ever personally previously used it. Retrenchment is of French origination likely from WWI – re-trench-ment: return to the trenches after a failed foray. This in turn reminded me of the lost battalion. You all undoubtedly know this story and others I shall tell and I likely will make mistakes in their telling; please forgive me, for that is peripheral to the big story I shall relate.

It is summer 1918 and the Germans have surrounded an American battalion. For weeks they attacked with all the forces they could marshal without overcoming American resistance, which was becoming increasingly demoralizing. What finally broke

Todd Walton: Young Pot Moms


“Youth is wasted on the young.” George Bernard Shaw

When I and my middle-aged and elderly Mendocino Elk Albion Fort Bragg peers convene, talk often turns to the paucity of younger people coming along to fill the local ranks of actors and musicians and writers and artists and activists. The excellent Symphony of the Redwoods plays to audiences of mostly white-haired elders and is itself fast becoming an ensemble of elders, ditto the local theater companies, ditto the legions of Mendocino artists and social activists. People under fifty in audiences and at art openings hereabouts stand out as rare youngsters; and the question is frequently asked with touching plaintiveness, “Will it all end with us?”

“The supply of good women far exceeds that of the men who deserve them.” Robert Graves

A few days ago I was waiting my turn at the one and only cash dispensing machine in the picturesque and economically distressed village of Mendocino, my home town, and I couldn’t help noticing that the woman using the machine was young (under forty), expensively dressed, and pushing the appropriate buttons with an ambitious energy that made me tired.

When it was my turn to stand before the cash dispensary, I noticed that the young woman had declined to take her receipt, which hung like a punch line from the slot of the robot. Being a hopeless snoop, I took possession of the little piece of paper, affixed my reading glasses, and imbibed the data. Did my eyes deceive me? No. This young woman had a cash balance in her Savings Bank of Mendocino checking account of…are you sitting down?…377,789 dollars.

Shameful Republicans get the Silent Treatment

Thanks to Annie Esposito

See also: Joblessness And Hopelessness: The Link Between Unemployment And Suicide
…and Montana Republican Jerks get the hot-branding-iron veto

On Tax Day, Remember the Tax Dodgers

As you pony up to pay your taxes – or fill out forms to get back a portion of what Uncle Sam has already withheld from your paycheck – pause to contemplate how wealthy and corporate tax dodgers deal with Tax Day.  The emerging US UNCUT movement is pressing the point: “No Budget Cuts before tax dodgers pay up.” There are over 100 actions planned for this tax weekend to underscore this point.

If you write a check over $10 to the IRS, then you just paid more than Verizon, Boeing, Bank of America, Citigroup and General Electric combined in federal taxes.

And you may have paid a higher percentage of your income than the billionaires who appear on the pages of the Forbes 400.  As super-investor Warren Buffet has pointed out, he pays a lower actual tax rate than his secretary.

Business Week’s cover story this week is “The Billionaires Guide to Paying No Taxes.”  Reporter Jessie Drucker declares, “the more you make, the less you pay.”  For our nation’s millionaires and billionaires, “this could be the best tax day since the early 1930s.”

Ukiah & Fort Bragg: Street Protest Bank of America Today 4/15/11 – [Updated]

[If you are indignant and outraged like I am (see articles below), we can do something about it by joining other disgusted citizens in a grassroots protest being organized. Bank of America got a $1.9 billion tax rebate last year when it had profits of more than $4 billion. Please encourage folks to withdraw their money from Bank of America, Chase, and other national banks and deposit it in one of our locally-owned, democratically-controlled credit unions, or locally-owned banks. See you there! -DS]

Ukiah: Bank of America on State Street 4-6 pm.
Fort Bragg
: [UPDATE] There will be a march and demonstration on traditional Tax day FRIDAY, APRIL 15. We will meet at the GP  gate at highway 1 and Cypress at 1 P.M. Then we will march down to the Bank of America parking lot and hand out leaflets encouraging Bank of America’s customers  to withdraw their money from B of A and deposit it in a local bank such as The Fort Bragg Federal Credit Union, The Mendo Lake Credit Union or The Savings Bank of Mendocino County. This demonstration is in concert with one in Union Square in New York City on the same day. Please bring signs and as many of your friends as you can. There will be another Bank of America protest on MONDAY, APRIL 18 that was called by moveon.org. ~Ed Oberweiser
Chicago Sun-Times

“The upper 1 percent of Americans are now taking in nearly a quarter of the nation’s income every year. In terms of wealth rather than income, the top 1 percent control 40 percent.

“Their lot in life has improved considerably. Twenty-five years ago, the corresponding figures were 12 percent and 33 percent.”

Letter to the Ruling Class: We ain’t got time to bleed [Updated]


You control our world. You’ve poisoned the air we breathe, contaminated the water we drink, and copyrighted the food we eat. We fight in your wars, die for your causes, and sacrifice our freedoms to protect you.

You’ve liquidated our savings, destroyed our middle class, and used our tax dollars to bailout your unending greed. We are slaves to your corporations, zombies to your airwaves, servants to your decadence.

You’ve stolen our elections, assassinated our leaders, and abolished our basic rights as human beings. You own our property, shipped away our jobs, and shredded our unions.

You’ve profited off of disaster, destabilized our currencies, and raised our cost of living. You’ve monopolized our freedom, stripped away our education, and have almost extinguished our flame.

We are hit… we are bleeding… but we ain’t got time to bleed.

We will bring the giants to their knees and you will witness our revolution!

The Serfs


When was the last time you left your cell phone at home? Do you have multiple email accounts that you can’t go a day without checking? Have you ever waited in paralyzing anxiety wondering if your Facebook comment has been read or if your emoticons were interpreted in the right way? For a week starting this Monday April 25th, we dare you to slow down, unplug, and digitally detox. We dare you to change your life in some way and see what happens.

Lucy Neely: Gardening in Alex Thomas Plaza

The Gardens Project
Garden photo by Janie Sheppard

Since I first arrived in Ukiah, the garden beds behind the benches in Alex Thomas Plaza have lay fallow and looked dreary. People try to grow cigarette butts in them, but they don’t seem to take. I know the City of Ukiah is super busy, so I figured that, as a resident of Ukiah, I would help them out and plant a garden there. This was a personal project, independent of my role at The Gardens Project. The Gardens Project is not associated with this garden project.

I wondered what would happen if the City of Ukiah caught me planting vegetables in an empty garden bed. But silly me! I didn’t consider the people that spend time in Alex Thomas Plaza and how they would jive with the garden.

At noon on Thursday March 31st, my friend and I double dug and prepped the bed. The lunch hour hot dog stand crowd was there and people gave a few curious glances.

Gene Logsdon: What’s Your Game Plan As Corn Prices Skyrocket?

The Contrary Farmer

Forgive me for returning to this topic again, but history is being made in the corn market and the mainstream press isn’t paying attention. Corn prices hit an all time high last week. As you pull on your boots and head for the garden or fields for spring planting, what are your plans? Are you ready for some seismic changes in food prices? Do you feel too helpless to do anything much but keep on hoeing? Am I overreacting?

Corn recently made it well into the $7.00 plus per bushel range, to an historic high, and a rise of about a dollar a bushel from the week before, indicating how eradicate the market has become. As I write this, the market is bobbing up and down around $7.50 like a basketball during March Madness. The USDA just came out with a report in which it said, much to the surprise of nearly everyone, that corn stocks remain unchanged. But then the experts came on with a litany of “it depends” about how one should interpret the meaning of “unchanged.”

We’ve heard for months now that corn was in short supply. There are a number of reasons, supposedly. The demand for ethanol

James Houle: Fire the Mendocino County Planning Department Immediately!

Redwood Valley

Imagine this – “OVERLAY ZONING”

We hire the planning experts, employ them for years, and when it comes time to make a recommendation to the Board of Supervisors as to what type of zoning would best reflect desires and aspirations of the citizens, they avoid making a recommendation. It’s like we hire a surgical staff to examine the patient, make all the tests, consider the impacts of various treatment scenarios, and then they send their report to the administrative staff of the hospital with three choices: Plan A: We cut all the bad stuff out and see if he can live without those organs. Plan B: We cut out half of the damaged organs and see how many of his functions still are in service. Plan C: We just stitch him up, give him a daily shot of heavy radiation and hope that it will stop further deterioration.  What the hell, he’s lived 63 years and isn’t dead yet!

What is the planner’s  recommendation? They decline to say. They hand it over to the Board of Supervisors – who have no apparent expertise in land use planning, predicting the future growth of taxable land as a result of rezoning, the  estimation of loads upon public transport, water supply, sewerage generation, or power supply. No expertise in predicting pollution potentials etc. So, what is the Planning Department’s role here?

I would fire the entire department immediately.

Conservation: There Is No Alternative


Our Economic Black Hole

In recent months economist and former Labor Secretary Robert Reich has been saying that the American economy is “in the gravitational pull of the Great Recession”. It’s an interesting metaphor. The U.S. economy is assumed to be a satellite of some heavy object, and just needs a little more push (in the form of Federal stimulus) in order to achieve escape velocity and go on its merry way.

Perhaps the metaphor makes more sense if it’s reframed slightly. Maybe it is more accurate to think of the economy itself as the black hole. At its heart is a great sucking void created in 2008 by the destruction of trillions of dollars’ worth of capital. The economy used to be a star, spewing out light and heat (profits and consumer goods), but it imploded on itself. Now its gaping maw will inevitably draw all surrounding matter into itself.

You can’t see the black hole, of course; it’s invisible. It is composed largely of unrepayable debt in the form of mortgages, and of toxic assets (mortgage-backed securities and related derivatives) on the books of major financial institutions, all of which are carefully hidden from view not just by the institutions themselves but by the Treasury and the Fed. Added to those there is also a growing super-gravitational field of resource depletion—which is again invisible to nearly everyone, though it does create noticeable secondary effects in the form of rising energy and food prices.

The Treasury and Fed are perhaps best thought of as a pair of powerful Battlestars orbiting just outside the singularity, zapping propulsive jolts of energy (in the forms of stimulus packages, bailouts, and quantitative easing programs) at hapless spaceships (banks and businesses) in the vicinity in order to keep them from falling into default, bankruptcy, and foreclosure. Unfortunately, the Battlestars—with their limited and depleting energy sources—are ultimately no match for the black hole, whose power grows silently and invisibly with every further addition to its hidden mass.

Hey Mendocino County: Again! Tell BRANCHES CHOP HOUSE to start buying from local farmers (or stop advertising that they do)


[REPOSTING FROM APRIL 11: Checking with Scott again, this restaurant is still misrepresenting that they buy local. They do not. They have met with local farmers, but no action. They even recently advertised that they were carrying Magruder local meat. Magruder says they aren’t. I am still boycotting this restaurant. -DS]

You may have noticed that Branches “chop house,” the large new restaurant in the Airport Park complex, has (since before it opened) advertised itself as featuring “locally raised products” and as “specializing in locally grown products.” A big new restaurant supporting our local farms and ranches would have a significant positive effect.

Although Branches claims to be a local food specialist, there is still nothing on its regular menu that features or uses local produce or meats. As a “chop house” one would expect at least some chop option from one of Mendocino’s several excellent ranches, but that is also not the case. Branches is currently not purchasing anything for its restaurant menu from any area farm or ranch. (It does use local honey in some baked goods, is working on plans for a garden on its own property and is asking Campovida to plant some things on its behalf.)

Please join in to urge Branches to connect with our local farmers and ranchers and to move as rapidly as possible to incorporate fresh, locally-grown and raised products into its menu.  It will taste even better too.
[It’s one thing to not support local farmers; it’s quite another to lie about it… especially as a new business in town, pretending to be something they are not.

I will personally Boycott Branches until they start supporting local, organic farmers by purchasing from them. ~DS]


Bolivia enshrines natural world’s rights with equal status for Mother Earth

Thanks to Todd Walton

Law of Mother Earth expected to prompt radical new conservation and social measures in South American nation

Bolivia is set to pass the world’s first laws granting all nature equal rights to humans. The Law of Mother Earth, now agreed by politicians and grassroots social groups, redefines the country’s rich mineral deposits as “blessings” and is expected to lead to radical new conservation and social measures to reduce pollution and control industry.

The country, which has been pilloried by the US and Britain in the UN climate talks for demanding steep carbon emission cuts, will establish 11 new rights for nature. They include: the right to life and to exist; the right to continue vital cycles and processes free from human alteration; the right to pure water and clean air; the right to balance; the right not to be polluted; and the right to not have cellular structure modified or genetically altered.

Controversially, it will also enshrine the right of nature “to not be affected by mega-infrastructure and development projects that affect the balance of ecosystems and the local inhabitant communities”.

“It makes world history. Earth is the mother of all”, said Vice-President Alvaro García Linera. “It establishes a new relationship between man and nature, the harmony of which must be preserved as a guarantee of its regeneration.”

The law, which is part of a complete restructuring of the Bolivian legal system

Hey Numnuts: There is no ‘safe’ exposure to radiation!

Thanks to Rosalind Peterson

Radiation from Japan is now detectable in the atmosphere, rain water and food chain in North America. Fukushima reactors are still out of control and hold 10 times more nuclear fuel than there was at Chernobyl, thousands of times more than the bomb dropped on Hiroshima. The official refrain is, “No worries here, perfectly harmless.” Our best scientists of the previous century would be rolling over in their graves.

In the 1940s many of the world’s premier nuclear scientists saw mounting evidence that there was no safe level of exposure to nuclear radiation. This led Robert Oppenheimer, the father of the atom bomb, to oppose development of the hydrogen bomb.

In the 1950s, Linus Pauling, the only two-time winner of the Nobel Prize, began warning the public about exposure to all radiation. This opinion, ultimately endorsed by thousands of scientists worldwide, led President John F. Kennedy to sign the nuclear test ban treaty.

In the 1960s, Drs. John Gofman, Arthur Tamplin, Alice Stewart, Thomas Mancuso and Karl Morgan, all researchers for the Atomic Energy Commission or the Department of Energy, independently came to the conclusion that exposure to nuclear radiation was not safe at any level.

The government terminated their services for coming up with what Dr. Gofman called the “wrong answer,” that is, the opposite of what the AEC wanted to hear. The top Russian nuclear physicist in the 1960s, Andrei Sakharov, also a Nobel Prize winner, and Vladimir Chernousenko, who the Soviet Union placed in charge of the Chernobyl cleanup,

Dance of the Skeletons in this land of depravity, monster trucks, and microwaved cheese snacks


Cue the xylophone.

Like the dancing skeletons of film history, here come the elected office-holders of the US government cutting their capers in the graveyard of empire, giving the paying customer – er… citizens – a nice case of the Friday night heebie-jeebies in a mock battle over inanities. It made for a few hours of diverting theater, with an emphasis on diversion – since the whole gruesome melodrama of the US budget finally hinged on a ploy to de-fund the Planned Parenthood organization, one of the few useful endeavors left in this land of depravity, monster trucks, and microwaved cheese snacks.

I don’t believe for a moment that the political right cares about the well-being of fetuses, anyway. The abortion issue is just a convenient cudgel to bash their political adversaries on the left. Karl Marx, a useful polemicist if a hinky guide in practical politics, had an apt term for what has become the ideology of the American right wing: “rural idiocy.” It included all the familiar superstitions, phobias, obsessions, bugaboos, misconceptions, animosities, and sadistic impulses of simple country folk. Of course, today we’d have to update it as “suburban idiocy,” because that is where the simple country folk of yesteryear have transpired to relocate, most traumatically in the Sunbelt,

UC Berkeley Food Chain Sampling Results

Thanks to Rosalind Peterson
Redwood Valley

Radionuclides, once deposited by rainwater or air onto the ground, will find their way through the ecosystem. We are already tracking its path from rainwater to creek runoff to tap water, but we would also like to monitor how much these isotopes that make their way into our food. For example, how much gets taken up by the grass and eventually winds up in our milk?

We have been collecting produce that is as local as possible to test for the radioactive isotopes. We might expect different kinds of plants to take up different quantities of cesium and iodine, so we are trying to measure as many different plants and fruits as we are able to. So far, we have measured spinach, strawberries, cilantro, grass, and mushrooms. We have also measured local topsoil.

In the tables below, we are providing two numbers for each of the isotopes. The first is a standard concentration unit of Becquerel per kilogram (Bq/kg) which is the number of particles decaying per second in each kilogram of the sample. The number in parentheses after the activity is the number of kilograms that one would need to consume to equal the radiation exposure of a single round trip flight from San Francisco to Washington D.C. (0.05 mSv). For more information on how this equivalent dose is calculated, the details are here: How Effective Dose is Calculated

The experimental setup used for the food testing is the same setup used for the Rainwater Collection Experiment.

Results here

We’re led by a bunch of losers. Stop the wars! We need peace! Our economies are sinking. And our empires are now in decline.

From a comment on The Automatic Earth…

So it appears to me regarding the budget situation that we have finally arrived at the moment where we have to make “the choice” – for all the false monetary “morality” espoused by the likes of Paul Ryan, well let’s see where your morals truly lie thieving Republicans… if you are in the “we need massive cuts” camp then what exactly does the remaining budget go for – to restore some semblance of humanity to this country – to maybe try to do something different and on a more human scale and actually help the “citizens” get thru this at a livable (albeit much lower) standard of living or is the aim of the cuts… for a much smaller subset of the population and yet another reinforcement of the winner take all mentality that has become our pseudo-religion ? Is it to just basically let anyone not in on the game rot by the wayside as the haves continue to get to have more… well I think I know the answer – so spare me your sudden conversion to fiscal morality and lectures on how we must now live within our means, esteemed budget committee chairman Ryan… please instead tell us what your endgame is for the 300+ million who aren’t in on the joke.
See also Pulling the Plug on Working Families to Give Tax Cuts to Millionaires
The Ryan budget has nothing — not a single frickin’ thing — to do with cutting the federal deficit. It is all about income redistribution, simple as that.

Herb Ruhs: Mutual Aid

Anderson Valley

In response to your question about sources other than Kropotkin allow me to speak off the top of my head on a subject that I have been pursuing for many years. Undoubtedly, with reflection, I will think of others. I would be thrilled to be part of a seminar on the subject, BTW.

An extensive selection of such sources exist, and most of them are derivative of Kropotkin’s turn of the previous century work on mutual aid. E.O Wilson’s fans, advocates of the “sociobiologic” approach to behavorial science, discuss this phenomena of spontaneous organization into mutual aid which, in that tradition, is felt to be a basic, hardwired if you like, property of the species. The whole idea of altruism in behavioral biology is a battlefield of authoritarian thinking vs. self organizing social structures. Recently Rebecca Solnit wrote the popular book Paradise Built In Hell that gives a good hearing to the phenomena of spontaneous formation of structures of mutual aid in disaster situations. That book has references that are up to date. Other major books supportive of this view include archeological and anthropological works like The Chalace and the Blade

Meat Glue — Yum Yum

Thanks to Doug Mosel

The FDA approval categories and labeling requirements are here–dating back to ’99.

Re: labeling:

…when transglutaminase enzyme is used to fabricate or reform a cut of meat, the resulting product’s labelinginclude a statement to indicate that the product has been “formed” or“reformed” as part of the product name. The Agency has determined that such labeling is necessary because TG enzyme alters the essential character of a product by making multiple cuts of meat or pieces of muscle tissue appear to be one intact cut or piece of meat, which could mislead consumers about the nature of this type of product. The Agency has determined that the terms “formed” and “reformed” are appropriate descriptive terms. Although it must be revealed in the ingredients statement, the presence of TG enzyme need not be disclosed as part of the product name.




Why heirloom seeds and veggies matter


I love purple carrots. Yellow tomatoes just make my day. Orange beets, blue potatoes, bell peppers the color of dark chocolate, speckled lettuce, and purple green beans all absolutely delight me. I had read all of the foodie and greenie arguments about preserving our gardening heritage and fighting the Man at Monsanto through heirloom vegetables. But alas, I confess; it was the colors that really got me into starting my vegetables from seed and focusing on heirloom varieties. I guess I’m a sucker for novelty. I’m also a sucker for saving a buck, so I began saving seed from open-pollinated cultivars.

First, I should lay out the difference between open-pollinated and hybrids plants. Open-pollinated cultivars (cultivar means a cultivated variety of any plant) are pollinated by the wind or insects. Seeds have been selectively saved over generations to pick the traits the gardener wants, leading to the many different open-pollinated cultivars. If you save the seeds from these plants, you can expect the next generation to be pretty similar to the parent, assuming no cross-pollination. Heirlooms are generally defined as open-pollinated cultivars

Why I Quit

Peak Oil Blues

This piece is part rant, part educational, part cathartic and part..oh, what does Dr. K call it???, Reb Butler Syndrome.  At the end of last year, I resigned from a 25 year career as an engineering professional.  There were many reasons why.  These are the reasons that are probably ubiquitous to every corporate slave.  I offer this to all those who are contemplating rising out of your cubicles and heading to the garden.

Too Much Debt:
In order to have a seat at the company table, I had to invest in it.  In order to do that, I had to be in debt.  All my life’s savings were tied up within company.  Both my sets of my grandparents had gotten through the Great Depression by avoiding debt before and after the cycle.  They lived off the land and weathered it out.  After land prices deflated to pennies, they culled their livestock and bought up land.  They lived long, happy lives.  Being in debt went against my grain to the core.  Inflation and housing price collapse was eating away at my equity.  A few years of 15% inflation would wipe my equity out.

Three month update:  Inflation, especially food inflation, is totally out of control

Todd Walton: Kings and Presidents

Video Clip Here


“Divine right of kings means the divine right of anyone who can get uppermost.” Herbert Spencer

I just finished reading an excellent book by British historian Derek Wilson: A Brief History of Henry VIII, 386 pages of densely informative prose that is certainly not brief by American standards. I do not often read history, but I’m glad I read this book because it illuminates much of what’s going on in the world today. But before I tell you a little more about Henry VIII and why his story reminds me so much of George H. Bush, George W. Bush, Bill Clinton, Barack Obama, and innumerable bullies and louts responsible for the ruination of our local, national, and global societies, I thought you might enjoy knowing how I came to be interested in Henry VIII.

“Kings are in the moral order what monsters are in the natural.” Henri Gregoire

Several years ago, I wrote a play about a history professor who has a nervous breakdown that features visitations from Queen Elizabeth I, Henry VIII’s daughter. When I came out of my trance and found

Will Parrish: ‘Food Sovereignty’ In North California — A Conversation With Raj Patel


Raj Patel’s first book, Stuffed and Starved: The Hidden Battle for the World Food System, can be read as a ten-chapter exegesis on the ills of global capitalism, as manifested by its gut-wrenching stranglehold over people’s access to food and other basic necessities.  At one point in the book, Patel notes in a manner typical of his deeply intelligent yet accessible prose style, that “Unless you’re a corporate food executive, the [food] system isn’t working for you.”

Yet, in February 2010, Stuffed and Starved touched down on the New York Times’ non-fiction best-seller list.  For the past few years, Patel has also been much in-demand as a public speaker, making presentations before hundreds of people who crowd university lecture halls and community auditoriums at nearly every stop.

The success of Patel’s work is a reflection of his rare combination of dazzling intellect and irrepressible charm.  The British-born American academic, journalist, activist, and writer has a knack for endearing himself

Unequal Protection — Chapter 4: The Boston Tea Party Revealed

Frontispiece and title page of “A Retrospect of the Boston Tea-Party with a Memoir of George R. T. Hewes, a Survivor of the Little Band of Patriots Who Drowned the Tea in Boston Harbour in 1773.” (New York: S. S. Bliss, 1834)


[This is the full chapter of the article we ran the other day: The Real Boston Tea Party was Against the Wal-Mart of the 1770s -DS]

They [those who wrote and signed the Declaration of Independence] meant to set up a standard maxim for free society, which would be familiar to all, and revered by all; constantly looked to, constantly labored for,

Financial Totalitarianism

US Dollar


A particularly annoying question I am often asked and have come to hate is: “How do I invest my money for it to survive financial, political and commercial collapse?” The short answer is: “Nohow. Money will not survive collapse; not yours, not anyone else’s.” But that answer is not acceptable, because accepting it would require a profound loss of faith—faith in money, a profound Götterdämmerung for a civilization based on the worship of money. People want continue to believe all sorts of things: that they can own land (i.e., shares in the Earth), or that they can do good through philanthrophic spending and charity, or that the world with which they have grown up and have lived their lives can collapse all around them, but that if they are informed and prepared, they can survive with all of their middle-class trappings intact. I am told that there is good money to be made in telling them such things.

Those who care to look can easily turn up plenty of evidence that the value of every type of financial asset, not just fiat currency or debt instruments, is unsupported. Its value derives from the goods and services provided by a functioning global industrial economy, which is quickly running out of every type of resource it requires; not just high-EROEI fossil fuels, but also metals, rare earth elements,

The subversive legacy of comic Bill Hicks


A new film explores the career of the comedy cult hero, whose legend continues to spread 17 years after his death

When Bill Hicks died of pancreatic cancer in 1994, he was just 32 years old but had been a working comedian for more than half his life. He was somewhere on the outer fringes of stardom, having done an HBO special, appeared a dozen times on Letterman and been offered a weekly column in the Nation. But Hicks was also seen as a “comic’s comic,” someone who was too heady and acerbic for a mass audience, and unlikely ever to top-line a sitcom or host a talk show. His last Letterman appearance in late 1993 was edited out of the show entirely, a decision for which the CBS late-night host would apologize to Hicks’ mother, on the air, 16 years later.

In the wake of the first Gulf War and the federal siege of the Branch Davidian complex in Waco, Texas, Hicks had become increasingly angry and political, focusing his comic radar on the United States government and everything it represented around the world, especially the mind-set derived from capitalism and consumerism.

Why we must raise taxes on the rich


It’s tax time. It’s also a time when right-wing Republicans are setting the agenda for massive spending cuts that will hurt most Americans.

Here’s the truth: The only way America can reduce the long-term budget deficit, maintain vital services, protect Social Security and Medicare, invest more in education and infrastructure, and not raise taxes on the working middle class is by raising taxes on the super rich.

Even if we got rid of corporate welfare subsidies for big oil, big agriculture, and big Pharma — even if we cut back on our bloated defense budget — it wouldn’t be nearly enough.

The vast majority of Americans can’t afford to pay more. Despite an economy that’s twice as large as it was thirty years ago, the bottom 90 percent are still stuck in the mud. If they’re employed they’re earning on average only about $280 more a year than thirty years ago, adjusted for inflation. That’s less than a 1 percent gain over more than a third of a century. (Families are doing somewhat better but that’s only because so many families now have to rely on two incomes.)

Yet even as their share of the nation’s total income has withered, the tax burden on the middle has grown. Today’s working and middle-class taxpayers are shelling out

Unequal Protection — Chapter 3: Banding Together for the Common Good


A corporation has no rights except those given it by law. It can exercise no power except that conferred upon it by the people through legislation, and the people should be as free to withhold as to give, public interest and not private advantage being the end in view. ~ William Jennings Bryan, address to the Ohio 1912 Constitutional Convention

In the beginning, there were people.

For thousands of years, it was popular among philosophers, theologians, and social commentators to suggest that the first humans lived as disorganized, disheveled, terrified, cold, hungry, and brutal lone-wolf beasts. But both the anthropological and archeological records prove it a lie.

Even our cousins the apes live in organized societies, and evidence of cooperative and social living is as ancient as the oldest hominid remains. For four hundred thousand years or more, even before the origin of Homo sapiens, around the world we primates have made tools, art, and jewelry and organized ourselves into various social forms, ranging from families to clans to tribes. More recently, we’ve also organized ourselves as nations and empires.1

As psychologist Abraham Maslow and others have pointed out, the value system of humans is first based on survival. Humans must breathe air, eat food, drink water, keep warm, and sleep safely. Once the basic survival and safety needs are accounted for, we turn to our social needs—family, companionship, love, and intellectual stimulation. And when those are covered, we work to fulfill our spiritual or personal needs for growth.

Our institutions reflect this hierarchy of needs. Families, whether tribal nomads or suburban yuppies, first attend to food, water, clothing, and shelter. Then they consider transportation, social interaction, and livelihood. And when those basics are covered,

Transition Towns: a yuppie substitute for activism?

Yuppie Jesus

Transition Voice

Can doing Transition be just another upscale distraction, like an evening at the mall?

The exchange below took place between DM, an anti-nuclear activist in Vermont, and Steve Chase, a professor at Antioch University in Keene, NH and co-founder of a local Transition Group. We’ve published an excerpt from Steve’s response.

Is Transition US just a sort of yuppie substitute for taking serious political action on, say, the Yankee G.E. nuke plant in Vernon, VT and the 100+ such plants that are scattered across our country? In a few words, are you simply DIVERTING US, with cutsie-pie, from doing serious and adult things? ~ DM in Vermont

Something that draws in many of the movement’s participants, including me, is that the Transition organizing model promotes an innovative and inspiring strategy for change — and at a local scale that many people see as the most workable for themselves.

Rosalind Peterson: Nuclear Information Links (Updated)

All is well…

Agriculture Defense Coalition
Redwood Valley

[See more links from Rosalind below article. -DS]

[Update: Radioactivity in Sea up 7.5 Million Times]


EPA Plans to Reduce Cleanup of Nuclear Fallout Now

“No rest for the wicked!” Says EPA Employee With a Smile

From Michael Kane

(Special to CollapseNet)

© Copyright 2011 CollapseNetwork, Inc.   (Please Distribute Widely)

[Long time readers will remember Michael Kane from his years of writing for From The Wilderness where he proved himself a fearless investigative journalist. Michael also contributed a chapter to my book “Crossing the Rubicon: The Decline of the American Empire at the End of the Age of Oil. It’s nice to see him in the field again. – MCR] In the wake

The Old Way: A Story of the First People

Review here

[I’ve been reading this book since Todd Walton praised it in one of his posts. Highly recommended! -DS]

Elizabeth Marshall Thomas (b.1931) is an American anthropologist and author. She has written seven books, fiction and non-fiction, and for The New Yorker, National Geographic and The Atlantic Monthly.

Until recently, Bushmen of the Kalahari desert have been described as an ancient people from whom all humans can trace their genetic heritage. They are also called “San.” Among the Bushmen it was with the Ju/wasi group that Thomas lived, in the 1950s, with her brother and parents. (Ju/wasi is plural, Ju/wa is singular.) Her mother, Lorna Marshall, became a noted anthropologist over the course of these and other trips, and her brother devoted most of his life to the Bushmen.

Thomas writes of the Ju/wasi having maintained “at least material aspects of their culture”

Blowing Green Smoke


“We also have Secretary Steven Chu, my Energy Secretary. Where is Steven? There he is over there.” – President Obama at Georgetown U last week

Blame Steven Chu, then, because when it comes to America’s energy predicament, the president has been woefully misinformed. Mr. Obama pawned off a roster of notions and proposals already product-tested in the public meme-o-sphere. Almost everyone of these ideas is inconsistent with reality, based on faulty premises, or represents some kind of magical thinking. What they have in common is that they’re ideas the public wants to hear, whether they are truthful or not, because we don’t want to change the way we live.

The central idea in Mr. Obama’s speech is that we will reduce our oil imports by one-third in a decade. This is a gross distortion of reality.  The truth is that our oil imports will be reduced automatically, whether we like it or not. The process is already underway. The nations that export oil to us are using much more of their own oil even while their supplies have passed peak production and entered depletion. Countries like Saudi Arabia, Venezuela, and Mexico have some of the highest population growth-rates in the world. They sell gasoline to their own people for less than

Barry Vogel Interviews Richard Johnson — Part 4

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.)

Barry: Tell us about your personal experience with marijuana.

Richard: Well, I stopped smoking about 3 years ago.

B: Why?

R: My lungs are shot… I have congestive heart failure… I don’t drink and I don’t smoke.

B: Do you eat marijuana?

R: Oh no.

B: Have you ever?

R: It makes me want to pass out. I remember eating a brownie at a rock concert and I was prostrate for about two and a half hours. What happens is that my blood vessels expand and my heart can’t keep up and I can’t stand up… I have to stare at the ceiling and try to breathe.

B: Well, Richard, I can’t help but asking,

Into Eternity — Atomic Waste

Every day, the world over, large amounts of high-level radioactive waste created by nuclear power plants is placed in interim storage, which are vulnerable to natural disasters, man-made disasters, and to societal changes. In Finland the world’s first permanent repository is being hewn out of solid rock – a huge system of underground tunnels – that must last 100,000 years as this is how long the waste remains hazardous.

Once the waste has been deposited and the repository is full, the facility is to be sealed off and never opened again. Or so we hope, but can we ensure that? And how is it possible to warn our descendants of the deadly waste we left behind? How do we prevent them from thinking they have found the pyramids of our time, mystical burial grounds, hidden treasures? Which languages and signs will they understand? And if they understand, will they respect our instructions? While gigantic monster machines dig deeper and deeper into the dark, experts above ground strive to find solutions to this crucially important radioactive waste issue to secure mankind and all species on planet Earth now and in the near and very distant future.

Captivating, wondrous and extremely frightening, this feature documentary takes viewers on a journey never seen before into the underworld and into the future.

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.

I come to this magnificent house of worship tonight because my conscience leaves me no other choice. I join you in this meeting because I am in deepest agreement with the aims and work of the organization which has brought us together:

The Real Boston Tea Party was Against the Wal-Mart of the 1770s


The real Boston Tea Party was a protest against huge corporate tax cuts for the British East India Company, the largest trans-national corporation then in existence. This corporate tax cut threatened to decimate small Colonial businesses by helping the BEIC pull a Wal-Mart against small entrepreneurial tea shops, and individuals began a revolt that kicked-off a series of events that ended in the creation of The United States of America.

They covered their faces, massed in the streets, and destroyed the property of a giant global corporation. Declaring an end to global trade run by the East India Company that was destroying local economies, this small, masked minority started a revolution with an act of rebellion later called the Boston Tea Party.

That is how I tell the story of the Boston Tea Party, now that I have read a first-person account of it. While striving to understand my nation’s struggles against corporations, in a rare book store I came upon a first edition of “Retrospect of the Boston Tea Party