9/11/11: Coaxing Peace Out Of Us

Our Grief Is Not A Cry For War


On that impossible day when the skyline of New York City collapsed on its southern tip – I watched from a rooftop across the East River – we entered an unexpectedly peaceful eye of the storm. We all fell toward the terrible scene. We fell through tunnels, over bridges. We were cultural first responders and many of us ricocheted over to a park called Union Square, the site of so much freedom fighting in the history of the United States.

There, thousands gathered in candle-light vigils on the first nights after 9/11, and this quickly evolved the park into a “people’s republic” without police, with an intense series of sing-alongs, rallies, prayer sessions and circles of traumatized but also liberated citizens, having conversations with strangers, passing the “talking stick” from hand to hand. Around us were copy-shop color reproductions of the faces of the missing, with Magic Marker notes by loved ones, “Hurry home Katherine, Bob and Nancy will wait up for you!”

Candles and flowers were everywhere, and mementos of a personal nature were left in little shrines: feathers and diary pages, old record covers from John and Yoko. Artists set up easels and painted images of firemen with angel-wings. Break-dancers took turns. Monologists shouted in the trees. Fire-swallowers. Mimes dressed up like the Statue of Liberty. Professors studied this unfolding “original culture.”

The vortex of expression continued for weeks and weeks. We stood in circles talking about Peace. We passed the talking stick. We felt Peace was among us, as the missing dead, a parallel world of peaceful smiling friends who died that Tuesday, watched us from every surface. Yes Peace is here, we thought. Something we do here will forgive everyone. A large act of forgiveness is possible – the habit of war can be changed. The bombs haven’t dropped yet.

In the ten years since then, the official violence has been grotesque. Our taxes kill children, with old dead “freedom” rhetoric spoken over the bodies by politicians. At home here in New York City, the 1st Amendment protections that made the Union Square moment possible are strictly hunted down. We have gone to jail for the simple act of shouting or singing in public. Peace – we are told – cannot come from anything but brute force. This infantilizes the citizenry – into consumers only, victims momentarily safe in a culture of fear, in a culture of apocalyptic blockbusters and Tea Party crazies…

This is a very dark time. We can only love and work in a parallel world, in local cultures that we can touch and make sense of. We must carefully select when and how to stand up to an energy company, for instance, that walks into town with bank money and drilling equipment. We do have power from that Union Square world we created.


Mendocino County’s Inept Energy Plan


Mendocino County has a plan for how it will power its communities and economy far into the future. It’s written into several chapters of the county’s newly updated General Plan. Unfortunately it’s mostly planning by means of inertia: patterns of the present weigh heavily upon the future, as it’s imagined. The General Plan’s recommendations for energy development policies and initiatives are rife with qualifications like “should,” “consider,” “promote,” and “encourage,” all of which are synonyms in government for “do little to nothing.”

The Supervisors, at least those who were on the board in 2007 when the General Plan was last updated, and staff in the Planning Department, seem mostly satisfied with the status quo. As I outlined in my last AVA piece on energy, the status quo is unsustainable and undesirable. Mendocino County communities import nearly all their electricity and gas through PG&E, and rely on increasingly expensive gasoline and diesel to fuel transportation. PG&E purchases or generates electricity primarily from large-scale gas-fired and nuclear power plants, or the hydroelectric dams that have done so much to kill off fish populations and damage watershed ecosystems. PG&E is also fast becoming an importer of “fracked” natural gas. And oil is only going to become more expensive. Mendocino has very few energy sector jobs, and literally hundreds of millions of dollars are being extracted from the county each year to pay PG&E bills and fill up fuel tanks.

While Sacramento is moving to implement laws, regulations, tax credits, and infrastructure programs that will dramatically reshape how energy is produced and used in in the state, it’s up to Mendocino County to determine the specific course of its future. It’s largely up to local communities, cities, and counties to take advantage of these new laws and programs that can, if seized upon, create good local jobs producing clean energy.

To give them credit, staff in the County’s Planning office seem to understand that trouble lies ahead. The General Plan’s introduction contains acknowledgements that, “the county’s widely separated cities and towns make it necessary for many residents to travel long distances to work, shop and recreate. Fuel costs are therefore a major concern

Todd Walton: Good People

Mr. and Mrs. Magician and their son Mischief by Todd


“When I do good, I feel good. When I do bad, I feel bad. That’s my religion.” Abraham Lincoln

Our maternal grandfather Casey died when he was eighty. He was institutionalized for a year prior to his death because his worsening dementia made him too unpredictable and uncontrollable for our diminutive and frail grandmother to handle. I visited Casey several times in that sad institution where he spent his last days, and though my parents always prefaced my visits to him by saying, “Casey just spouts gibberish now,” I invariably found him cogent and funny in a rambling sort of way.

At the tail end of my last visit to Casey, about a week before he contracted a virulent flu and died, he said two things that have stuck with me for thirty years. We were sitting side-by-side on a concrete patio in a little pool of sunlight when Casey arched his eyebrow (he reminded me of Groucho Marx in appearance and voice) and said, “You know, this is a very exclusive university. It’s extremely difficult to get in here. But eventually, everyone does.”

We laughed about that and then Casey said, “Listen. When you find yourself with the bad people, get away from them and go to the good people.”

“Nothing can be more readily disproved than the old saw, ‘You can’t keep a good man down.’ Most human societies have been beautifully organized to keep good men down.”  John W. Gardner

So what makes someone good or bad? Or are good and bad essentially useless terms, since one nation’s mass murderer is another nation’s hero, and the town harlot turns out to be a tireless advocate for women’s rights, and that usurious money lender is the beloved grandfather of a girl to whom he gave a pony? I took Casey’s advice to mean: if I find myself entangled in unhealthy relationships, I should, as swiftly as possible, get out of those relationships and seek healthier ones. But maybe that’s not what Casey meant. Maybe he meant there really are bad people, and they should be escaped from and avoided; and there really are good people, and they should be found and hung out with. Or maybe he was just speaking gibberish.

“I’ve never met a racist yet who thought he was a racist. Or an anti-Semite who thought they were anti-Semitic.”

Who’s building the do-it-ourselves economy?

YES! Magazine

Corbyn Hightower was doing everything right. She worked long hours selling natural skin care products, flying between cities to meet customers, staying in posh hotels. She pulled down a salary that provided her family of five with a comfortable home in a planned community, a Honda SUV, health insurance, and regular shopping trips for the best natural foods, clothes, shoes, and toys.

Then the recession hit. Her commissions dried up, and the layoff soon followed. Life for Hightower, her stay-at-home husband, and three children changed quickly.

First the family moved to a low-rent house down the street from a homeless shelter. They dropped cable TV, Wi-Fi, gym membership, and most of the shopping. Giving up health insurance was the most difficult step — it seemed to Hightower that she was failing to provide for her young daughters. Giving up the car was nearly as difficult.

As our economy goes through tectonic shifts, this sort of adaptation is becoming the new normal. Security for our families will increasingly depend on rebuilding our local and regional economies and on our own adaptability and skills at working together. At the same time, we need government to work on behalf of struggling families and to make the investments that create jobs now and opportunities for coming generations. That will require popular movements of ordinary people, willing to push back against powerful moneyed interests.

Where are the jobs?

How did we get to an economy in which millions are struggling?

Officially, the “Great Recession” ended in the second quarter of 2009. For some people, the recovery is well under way. Corporate profits are at or above pre-recession levels, and the CEOs of the 200 biggest corporations averaged over $10 million in compensation in 2010 — a 23 percent increase over 2009.

But for most Americans, there’s no recovery, and some are confronting homelessness and hunger.

Local Food: Humboldt’s Fields of Gold

The Redwood Times
Thanks to Doug Mosel

For the past five years, a small group of Humboldt County farmers has been working to revive local grain production, researching and experimenting with different varieties to find out what was grown historically and what works best in local conditions.

Kevin Cunningham of Shakefork Farms in Carlotta, Dan Primerano of Redway and John LaBoyteaux of Camp Grant Ranch near Weott, while not yet rivaling the grain production of the Midwest, Northwest and California’s Central Valley, have produced enough grain to sell at farmers markets and to local bakers and natural food stores.

LaBoyteaux, now retired from raising fruits and vegetables for farmers markets, spent his “free time” this season growing four varieties of wheat. Although he planted only a little more than four acres, all the varieties did well, with better-than-expected yields.

This year LaBoyteaux focused on “hard red” wheats, the type best suited for making bread. In past years he tried smaller amounts of several varieties of “soft white” wheat, which is preferred for pastry.

To a novice looking at the wheat, it seems almost impossible to tell “hard red” from “soft white,” but the hard grain is harder to grind than the soft grain, and red grains do have a reddish tint compared to the lighter, brown-toned color of white wheat.

LaBoyteaux’s star performer this year is ‘Kelse,’ a spring wheat from the Skagit Valley of northwest Washington. Because it was developed for a wet climate, it did particularly well in this year’s long, wet spring.

Two acres of Kelse at Camp Grant yielded 5,000 pounds of grain. LaBoyteaux believes this may be the best yield anyone has had locally, with the previous high yield estimated at 1,700 pounds per acre.

Besides Kelse, LaBoyteaux planted an acre each of two winter wheats, ‘Expresso’ from the Sacramento Valley and ‘Red Fife,’ an heirloom wheat generally grown in the Dakotas and Canada.

Although winter wheats are typically planted in the late fall or early winter, so that they can take advantage of winter precipitation in dry climates, these varieties can be planted later in Humboldt County, where rainfall

Don Sanderson: This Old Car


This Old House is a quite popular television program and magazine. Back in the old days when we had television, I used to enjoy watching. Our present home is a rental, but one with which we have free rein to redecorate the inside and landscape the outside in my usual wild permaculture way. If something needs fixed, such as the new furnace/air conditioner we just got, and not a cheapee, the owner takes care of it. And, he eats the depreciation housing is now undergoing. We’ve owned homes before, but the overhead was always a problem. Give me a rental every time, assuming I can find a landlord such as the present one. This has been our home for a decade and we fully expect it to be for the foreseeable future. Wait, I really intended to talk about cars.

We have a ’92 Crown Vic that we purchased a dozen years ago. It has six cylinders and burns between 22 and 25 miles per gallon, so Obama didn’t want it. I don’t have any idea how fast it will go, but I’ve held it for many miles above 110 on 5 between the Bay Area and LA. It is wonderful to drive, steady as a rock, like a cop car but with a smaller motor. The speedometer claims it has gone 215,000 miles, so it surely must be getting ready for the garbage dump?

Recently, we noticed that the coolant was dropping rather faster than we liked, so we took it to our favorite local mechanic. Whoa, he said, under pressure there is water spurting out at one point in your head gasket. There was no water in the oil, so the spurt was only to the outside, a real win. The mechanic said it can’t be safely driven, because the gasket could completely fail at any moment. We can remove the head, he to us, replace the gasket, and repair any valve problems in the process for about $2,500, but the car is so old that this surely isn’t worth it? We thought only moments and told him to go for it.

Over the past few years, we’ve replaced the rear end and axles, rebuilt the transmission, installed new steering rods, replaced the front seat with bucket seats I helped remove from a ex-cop car, installed a new ignition system and muffler, and other odds and ends. Recently, I had the brakes repaired and purchased new tires. Since we drive very little, just to Ukiah and back mostly with very occasional trips to Healdsburg, Laytonville, and Santa Rosa, I’d guess these repairs have been performed in the last 50,000 miles, mostly much less. So, how old is this car really?

The entire cost of all these repairs and the regular oil changes

Jim Houle: Twisted Records of 9/11 Drive Our War Machine

Redwood Valley

Our nation-wide shock on September 11th, 2001 at seeing those two airliners penetrate the World Trade Center towers generated a sense of fear and vulnerability deep within our psyches. Seizing upon this, our national leaders convinced us that we must attack Afghanistan and Iraq, where those Al Qaeda terrorists allegedly came from. The majority of Americans still feel vulnerable to terrorist attack and have accepted that we must live in a era of endless war without any coherent rationale. Ten years later, these unending Pentagon battles abroad have become, in the words of the Washington Post’s Sept. 5th editorial, our only growth industry. In a declining job market, they represent one of our very few successful jobs programs, employing everyone from GIs to weapons assemblers, from drone makers to private “security” firms protecting our occupiers abroad and taking on tasks our soldiers cannot do. No politician, including Barack Obama, will seriously challenge our huge military-industrial complex, nor question the Pentagon’s brilliant propaganda machine that manufactures those new “enemies” we continually must find to justify our ever expanding war program with its enormous profits. Imagine how the Los Angeles Basin would collapse overnight into Depression should the war machine stop ordering new weapons from Raytheon, Northrop Grumman, Boeing, Lockheed Martin and General Dynamics.

Fear-Based Economics
Now, ten years after September 11th 2001, when 2606 innocent office workers were deliberately murdered, Architects & Engineers for 9/11 Truth believes it is time to seriously examine how these people actually died and if their deaths were really necessary. Why now do the A&E 9/11 Truth people bring this up, after much of the evidence of that day’s disaster has been destroyed or well hidden, and when Americans are fully burdened by their need for economic survival? It seems to many that the very shaky story of the 9/11 attack by foreign terrorists upon our Homeland was too quickly accepted by a public driven by fear and is still used as the rationale for our abject surrender to the war machine that drives our entire economy. We have since learned that none of the 19 alleged hijackers were Iraqis or Afghanis, but we invaded those countries anyway. The 19 alleged hijackers actually included 15 Saudi Arabian citizens, 2 from the Emirates, one from Egypt and one from Lebanon.

Media continues to edit and misrepresent Hoffa remarks


[Speech transcript below]

As we see time and again, the inaccurate story that Fox News and conservative blogs kick off, other outlets eventually pick up more or less whole cloth. And so it is that the comments in which Teamsters President James (or Jim, but not Jimmy) Hoffa urged listeners to vote have been edited to sound like a call to violence. Media Matters reminds us of the immediate context of the quotes that have been repeatedly taken out of context:

President Obama this is your army. We are ready to march. And president Obama we want one thing: Jobs. Jobs. Jobs. Jobs. Jobs. Jobs. Jobs. Jobs. That’s what we’re going to tell him. He’s going to be—and when he sees what we’re doing here he will be inspired. But he needs help and you know what? Everybody here’s got to vote. If we go back and keep the eye on the prize, let’s take these sons of a bitches out and give America back to America where we belong! Thank you very much!

But the extremely and misleadingly shortened version Fox used is the one that’s making the rounds, in a host of publications that aren’t necessarily trying to do Fox’s partisan work for it, but may just be too damn lazy to get the story right, or too addicted to controversy to want to do so. Falling into the latter category is Politico, which in a story that notes that the “Teamsters slammed conservative […] media for supposedly editing Hoffa’s Labor Day remarks to suggest that Hoffa was inciting violence against members of Tea Party organiations (sic),” totally edits Hoffa’s Labor Day remarks to suggest that he was inciting violence.

In fact, the longest segment of Hoffa’s original speech quoted in the article is seven words: “take these son-of-a-bitches out.”

Hollow Bankrupt States and the Crisis of Capitalism

From JOHN ROBB Global Gorillas

Hollow, bankrupt states and crisis of capitalism is not a “dystopian future” if it is actually happening now. With almost hourly updates.

I coined the term, “hollow stateback in 2007.  The idea derived from what I was seeing develop due to open source warfare and primary loyalties.  Here’s a run down on what it means:

The modern nation-state is in a secular decline, made inevitable by the rise of a global market system. Even developed nations, like the US, are not immune to this process. The decline is at first gradual and then accelerates until it reaches a final end-point: a hollow state. The hollow state has the trappings of a modern nation-state (“leaders”, membership in international organizations, regulations, laws, and a bureaucracy) but it lacks any of the legitimacy, services, and control of its historical counter-part. It is merely a shell that has some influence over the spoils of the economy. The real power rests in the hands of corporations and criminal/guerrilla groups that vie with each other for control of sectors of wealth production. For the individual living within this state, life goes on, but it is debased in a myriad of ways. The shift from a marginally functional nation-state in manageable decline to a hollow state often comes suddenly, through a financial crisis.

This early analysis was right on. Four years on from the above and we’re seeing a rapid “hollowing out” of the developed nation-states. So much so that nearly every nation in the developed world is in a debt crisis, cutting services, and losing legitimacy.

The other idea I’m currently working on is:  “a crisis of capitalism.”  It may also take 3-4 years for people to really get that it is real.

The idea is simple. That capitalism, as it works today

The iPhone, Kindle, and US Unemployment

From ANDREW SULLIVAN The Daily Beast

Here’s a brutal but persuasive piece on why unemployment is likely to stay where it is possibly for the rest of our lives. If you think of American innovation, you often think of Apple, an astonishingly innovative, brilliant industrial high-tech company. The iPhone has been a massive success – but has created jobs mainly … in China. Apple could manufacture the iPhone in America, but its profit margin would drop from 64 percent to 50 percent. And Apple isn’t alone, of course. Which is why China’s high-tech exports to the US keep growing in number and value. Most of those high-tech products are designed and developed by US companies.

Or take the Kindle. Here’s another grim piece:

Amazon’s Kindle 2 couldn’t be made in the U.S., even if Amazon wanted to:

The flex circuit connectors are made in China because the US supplier base migrated to Asia. The electrophoretic display is made in Taiwan because the expertise developed from producting flat-panel LCDs migrated to Asia with semiconductor manufacturing. The highly polished injection-molded case is made in China because the U.S. supplier base eroded as the manufacture of toys, consumer electronics and computers migrated to China. The wireless card is made in South Korea because that country became a center for making mobile phone components and handsets. The controller board is made in China because U.S. companies long ago transferred manufacture of printed circuit boards to Asia. The Lithium polymer battery is made in China because battery development and manufacturing migrated to China along with the development and manufacture of consumer electronics and notebook computers.

As China and India develop even faster, I see no way American skilled workers can truly compete without CEOs hurting their own shareholders.

The Republicans Are Now The Anti-Science Party


Jon Huntsman Jr, a former Utah governor and ambassador to China, isn’t a serious contender for the Republican presidential nomination. And that’s too bad, because Mr Hunstman has been willing to say the unsayable about the Republican party in the United States, namely, that it is becoming the “anti-science party”. This is an enormously important development. And it should terrify us.

To see what Mr Huntsman means, consider recent statements by the two men who actually are serious contenders for the Republican nomination:Rick Perry and Mitt Romney.

Mr Perry, the governor of Texas, recently made headlines by dismissingevolution as “just a theory“, one that has “got some gaps in it”, an observation that will come as news to the vast majority of biologists. But what really got people’s attention was what he said about climate change: “I think there are a substantial number of scientists who have manipulated data so that they will have dollars rolling into their projects. And I think we are seeing almost weekly, or even daily, scientists are coming forward and questioning the original idea that man-made global warming is what is causing the climate to change.”

That’s a remarkable statement – or maybe the right adjective is “vile”.

The second part of Mr Perry’s statement is, as it happens, just false: the scientific consensus about man-made global warming – which includes 97% to 98% of researchers in the field, according to the National Academy of Sciences – is getting stronger, not weaker, as the evidence for climate change just keeps mounting.

In fact, if you follow climate science at all, you know that the main development over the past few years

Our Only Hope


To the Editors:

Our only hope is long-term hope, and our only real power in dealing with peak oil, climate change, and financial chaos is locally within our communities.

Having said that, I’m a registered Independent because I cannot stand either major political party. I can’t stand the Republican Party leadership for their stupid, greedy, corrupt, libertarian selfishness who don’t give a hoot about their constituents and spend all their time and energy trying to defeat their opponents and kill democratic governance. I can’t stand many of the Democratic Party rank-and-file for their stupid, mumbling, head-shaking, back-stabbing disloyalty to the President they worked for and elected.

President Obama plays by the rules with the hand he was dealt. As one of my favorite bloggers wrote: “He’s not Moses, he’s the President. He presides. He doesn’t rule. We gave him an awful job, and he’s doing it with dignity, sobriety, intelligence, and a variety of other personal and administrative virtues that were absent or compromised in the prior two administrations… while running a country that risks devolving into misery and chaos… in a system rigged against him.”

What is wrong with you people? Obama hurt your feelings? Poor babies. If nothing else, don’t you understand what will happen if the dark side rides again and appoints a couple more corporate Supreme Court judges who, illegally and unconstitutionally, rule us as Kings? We will be a lost nation for generations to come.

Get real, Democrats! Even though he’s not the second coming of Jesus Christ, I’ll be supporting and voting for Obama in the next election, and if you sit this one out you will have betrayed us all.
See also So ya think Obama’s not doing his job? Think again…

A GOP Insider Takes His Money and Defects


Barbara Stanwyck: “We’re both rotten!”
Fred MacMurray: “Yeah – only you’re a little more rotten.” -“Double Indemnity” (1944)

Those lines of dialogue from a classic film noir sum up the state of the two political parties in contemporary America. Both parties are rotten – how could they not be, given the complete infestation of the political system by corporate money on a scale that now requires a presidential candidate to raise upwards of a billion dollars to be competitive in the general election? Both parties are captives to corporate loot. The main reason the Democrats’ health care bill will be a budget buster once it fully phases in is the Democrats’ rank capitulation to corporate interests – no single-payer system, in order to mollify the insurers; and no negotiation of drug prices, a craven surrender to Big Pharma.

But both parties are not rotten in quite the same way. The Democrats have their share of machine politicians, careerists, corporate bagmen, egomaniacs and kooks. Nothing, however, quite matches the modern GOP.

To those millions of Americans who have finally begun paying attention to politics and watched with exasperation the tragicomedy of the debt ceiling extension, it may have come as a shock that the Republican Party is so full of lunatics. To be sure, the party, like any political party on earth, has always had its share of crackpots, like Robert K. Dornan or William E. Dannemeyer. But the crackpot outliers of two decades ago have become the vital center today: Steve King, Michele Bachman (now a leading presidential candidate as well), Paul Broun, Patrick McHenry, Virginia Foxx, Louie Gohmert, Allen West. The Congressional directory now reads like a casebook of lunacy.

It was this cast of characters and the pernicious ideas they represent that impelled me to end a nearly 30-year career as a professional staff member on Capitol Hill. A couple of months ago, I retired; but I could see as early as last November that the Republican Party

Why the Breakfast Most Americans Eat Today Is a Corporate Scam


Wake up and smell the McCafé: Cold cereal, donuts and orange juice are breakfast staples because somebody somewhere wanted money.

Seeking to provide sanitarium patients with meatless anti-aphrodisiac breakfasts in 1894, Michigan Seventh-Day Adventist surgeon and anti-masturbation activist John Kellogg developed the process of flaking cooked grains. Hence Corn Flakes. Hence Rice Krispies. Hence a rift between Kellogg and his business partner/brother, who wanted to sweeten Kellogg’s cereals in hopes of selling more. Guess who won.

In pre-Corn Flakes America, breakfast wasn’t cold or sweet. It was hot, hearty and lardy, and it had about 4,000 calories.

“Breakfast was the biggest meal of the day. Eaten before you headed out to do a whole day of farm chores, it had to keep you going until dinner,” says food historian Andrew F. Smith, author of Eating History: Thirty Turning Points in the Making of American Cuisine (Columbia University Press, 2009). Pre-industrial Americans loaded up on protein-rich eggs, sausages, ham and American-style belly-fat bacon along with ancient carb classics: mush, pancakes, bread.

The Empire is Eating Itself


The commemorative ceremonies that are planned for the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 massacre are those of pathos for the victims and their families, of praise for both the pursuit of the supporters of the attackers and the performance of first responders and our soldiers abroad.

Flags and martial music will punctuate the combined atmosphere of sorrow and aggressive defiance to those terrorists who would threaten us. These events will be moments of respectful silence and some expressions of rage and ferocity.

But many Americans might also want to pause to recognize — or unlearn — those reactions and overreactions to 9/11 that have harmed our country. How, in this forward-looking manner, can we respect the day of 9/11?

Here are some suggestions:

1. Do not exaggerate our adversaries’ strength in order to produce a climate of hysteria that results in repression of civil liberties, embodied in the overwrought USA Patriot Act, and immense long-term damage to our economy. Consider the massive diversion of trillions of dollars from domestic civilian needs because of the huge expansion and misspending in military and security budgets.

Pay attention to nonviolence

Click on post title to view

In 2003, the Palestinian village of Budrus mounted a 10-month-long nonviolent protest to stop a barrier being built across their olive groves. Did you hear about it? Didn’t think so. Brazilian filmmaker Julia Bacha asks why we only pay attention to violence in the Israel-Palestine conflict — and not to the nonviolent leaders who may one day bring peace.

Mendo Island Transition: Sustaining Our Better Angels


[…] Pragmatic Altruism vs. Violent Mindset

As Stuart Twemlow, M.D. points out, we in the US are exposed to an”endless deluge of unmitigated violence, in the media, on the Internet, and in print, which subtly and gradually helps to shape a defensive “violent mindset” that reflects in the way we treat each other.”  In this violent mindset, people attempt to “spend much time trying to win at any cost” and “gauge personal success by economic and material gain.”  Despite the overwhelming evidence of the harmful and shaping effects of exposure to violence and its cancerous effects on communities, a “debate” about the impact of violence on the psyche continues.  Dr. Twemlow compares the “debate” about these facts as similar to the lengthy antique “debate” about cigarette smoking and lung cancer.

The violent mindset vs. what he calls the “pragmatic altruistic” mindset impacts the collective community consciousness in areas of creativity, thought patterns, ruthlessness, economic prosperity,

Are Violent Video Games Adequately Preparing Children For The Apocalypse?


Unequal Protection — Chapter 10: Protecting Corporate Liars


With yearly revenues of over $9 billion, NIKE has the resources to spread their corporate message far and wide. Do they also have the Constitutionally protected right to distort or misrepresent the truth for commercial gain?

Corporations are not people, and the First Amendment should account for their unique motivation: sales.  ~Congressman Dennis Kucinich, writing about the Supreme Court case Kasky v. Nike.

The first direct shot across the bow of the doctrine of a corporation’s “right to lie” by using its “personhood” to claim First Amendment “free speech” rights came in April 1998, when Mark Kasky, a California political activist, noticed that Nike was engaged in what he considered to be a deceptive greenwashing campaign. Kasky had long been a runner and wore Nike shoes, so he was particularly distressed when he saw Nike’s communications director, Lee Weinstein, publish a letter in the San Francisco Examiner in December 1997 that said, in part, “Consider that Nike established the sporting goods industry’s first code of conduct to ensure our workers know and can exercise their rights.”2

This letter was just a small part, it turned out, of a national campaign

The Koch Brothers are Privatizing and Re-Segregating our Public School Systems


The Facts:

1. After the November 2009 elections, the Wake County school board dismantled socio-economic diverse schools and began to implement a neighborhood schools plan that would resegregate schools.

2. Resegregation in schools would be a disaster. It would turn back the clock fifty years with the creation of high poverty, racially isolated schools. The integration plan destroyed by Koch-supported board of education members was used as a model for high achieving, diverse schools throughout the country.

3. This October 2011, Wake Country elections will decide if schools become resegregated. Koch-supported candidates are still pushing for neighborhood schools and to end diversity.

4. The Koch brothers free market, libertarian ideology rests on privatization in society, especially the privatization of education.

5. The Kochs founded Americans for Prosperity in 2004, and AFP indirectly poured hundreds of thousands of dollars into the Wake County school board elections and helped jeopardize the diversity policy.

Will Parrish: The Struggle For Rattlesnake Island

Elem historian and cultural leader Jim BrownEagle speaks at the Glen Cove sacred site outside Vallejo


The oldest human remains so far discovered in California belong to the Elem Pomo Nation who have lived on the eastern and southern shores of the Clear Lake basin for at least 10,000 years, also inhabiting much of the peninsula between eastern and southern arms of the lake. For a minimum of 5,000 of those years, the Elem’s way of life has centered on an island, roughly 56 acres in surface area, located just off the north shore of the lake’s eastern arm. The island has been the home of five documented Elem village sites, as well as dance houses, cremation pits, and human burial sites — in short, the major hallmarks of the people’s religious, cultural, and political life.

In spite of nearly 200-year history of Euro-Amaerican encroachment into the Pomo nation’s ancestral territory, no development has ever taken place on the island. It has been called “arguably the lushest place in Lake County.” Located a mere 60 yards offshore the Elem’s current 50-acre reservation, just outside the sleepy Lake County town of Clearlake Oaks, it is one of the last pristine sacred places to Native Americans in California.

Without it, the Elem Pomo would cease to be who they are as a people.

Todd Walton: Collapse Scenarios


“Our business gets better as the economy gets worse.” Kent Moyer, founder and CEO of World Protection Group Inc.

The business referred to in the opening quote is officially known as Executive Protection, and Kent Moyer is the kingpin of a successful Executive Protection agency providing body guards and small armies and surveillance experts and surveillance equipment and defensive strategies to wealthy individuals and consortiums of wealthy people who are certain they need protection from kidnappers, assassins, disgruntled employees, mobs of poor people, psychotic fans, and the like. Having recently read The Three Musketeers, it occurs to me that the musketeers were a seventeenth century equivalent of one of today’s private armies dedicated to protecting a consortium of wealthy people. In the case of The Three Musketeers, the wealthy people in question were the king of France and his sycophants.

“It isn’t so much that hard times are coming; the change observed is mostly soft times going.” Groucho Marx

Today many thoughtful people are hard at work writing essays and books about the coming (ongoing) collapse of economic, social, and natural systems in North America and around the world. I applaud them for their efforts and salute them for their desire to awaken others to the dangers confronting us.

Mendo Island Business Opportunity Post-Collapse

Bamboo Train, Cambodia

Cambodia’s railway connects the capital Phnom Penh with the northern Poipet. It’s the only railway in the whole country with a single train each day, making the route at some 20 km/h.

Locals use the tracks to drive with their self-made bamboo trains, often taking tourists to make extra income of which some amount goes to bribe the police. The bamboo train really flies- until something comes the other direction…:-) Pics taken at Battambang province.

Stars of Peak Oil


Here you’ll find pieces ranging from short articles to long in-depth interviews offering a deeper glimpse into the leading writers, bloggers and activists on peak oil, Transition and re-localized economies. Subjects include Nicole Foss, James Howard Kunstler, Michael Ruppert, Dmitry Orlov and many, many more…

ORLOV: I think you’re too hard on American politicians because look at the people they’re governing. If you tried to rule these people you would probably end up just like them. It’s a completely thankless task unless you find some benefit in it for yourself. So the politicians are hard pressed to make it worth their while to be politicians. I can commiserate with them about the quality of the populace because democracy is really for people who are capable of self-governance.

Now Americans at large are not capable of self-governance. They expect to be protected from each other. They expect to be provided for. They expect for things to remain the same even when this doesn’t make any more sense. And those are their expectations. So they expect to be lied to.

If you stop lying to Americans they would kill you. That is the bind that our national politicians are in and we should feel sorry for them…

Now if you look at what’s happening to the young people now, not just in this country but around the world. But specifically in this country, two thirds of college graduates can’t find a job

Rethinking Transition as a Pattern Language

Transition Culture

In 1977, Christopher Alexander and colleagues at the Centre for Environmental Structure at Berkeley University published a book called ‘A Pattern Language: towns, buildings, construction’, the second in a series of 3 books. Fifteen years later, a much younger me was a student on my permaculture design course in Bristol. On Day 5 of the course, the teacher introduced ‘A Pattern Language’ to the group, as though it were some ancient, dusty, sacred text, in much the same way as I now introduce people to it. He lovingly flipped through the book and introduced the concept of patterns and why this book was essential for the design of anything.

I borrowed his copy and took it home that night. Initially it looked huge and impenetrable, but once I had read the ‘key’ at the beginning, I flew through the book in a couple of hours. What blew me away was not the these ideas were in any sense revolutionary or new, but rather that it captured and put its fingers on so many things that I had felt and been unable to articulate. Why do some built environments make you feel alive, connected and celebratory, and why do some make people want to stab each other?  Why does the heart soar in the old parts of Sienna, in St Ives, in Paris, and not in most of Swindon or Slough?

Roundup of what’s happening in the world of Transition

Bath, England


Bath, England was host to the Youth Climate Change delegates, and Transition Bath undertook to feed them with an entire meal using only food sourced within walking distance of the city.

To celebrate Eat Local Week, Transition Colorado put on an evening with Joel Salatin called “Local Food to the Rescue”. Joel is a third generation alternative farmer at Polyface Farm in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley.   At New York’s GreenFest, Tina Clarke and David Noonan from Transition US joined David Korten, visionary leader, economist, author and former Harvard Professor for a Forum on Building Local Economies.

In Portland, Oregon, David Johnson and Jim Newcomer of Transition PDX were recently interviewed on local radio, a great piece that covers Transition internationally, nationally and locally. Well worth a listen.