25 Documentaries Everybody Should Watch…


From SANS SOLEIL
HighExistence

This is not your average documentary. It is a fleeting memory, a sudden remembrance of times long past, a meditation on time and culture, a touch of an emotional diary. We follow the eyes of a world traveller who makes sharp observations and tries to convey them to his friend. We never learn who they are and where they came from, and this is perhaps a subtle point the documentary wants to make. The narrator’s voice switches from Japanese to German to English to French, thereby embodying the language of the places visited. By observing the cultural kaleidoscope of our planet, the eye we follow seems to shape shift its way around and conveys to us, the viewer, that ‘what life is’ depends on where and when you are. Sit down, cover yourself in a blanket and sip on a hot cup of coca and join the collaborative dream called Sans Soleil.

Watch Sans Soleil on Google Video.

The Corporation

Corporate personhood is probably the elephant in the room when it comes politics. More than a century ago corporations could apply for personhood, giving them constitutional rights as if they were persons. Yet. if they truly were persons, they would be power-hungry one-dimensional sociopaths. Directing everything from what we see, drink, think, eat and everything else what we bring into our lives, corporations have an ever-growing grip on the world. We learn how they own the media, influence governments, silence critics and bend everything to their will, all in the name of profit. This documentary does not have a happy ending, and is probably preaching to the choir, but it is still a must watch if you want to understand the global workings of capitalism.

Watch The Corporation on Google Video.

Todd Walton: Connections


From TODD WALTON
Under The Table
Mendocino

“More than any other time in history, mankind faces a crossroads. One path leads to despair and utter hopelessness. The other, to total extinction. Let us pray we have the wisdom to choose correctly.” Woody Allen

The stock market was way up yesterday on news that Bank of America announced that he (being a gigantic person according to the Supreme Court) plans to cut sixteen thousand jobs by Christmas. How nice. What a fine and humane time to fire sixteen thousand people in order to increase quarterly profits for a quarter or two.

“Everything in life matters and ultimately has a place, an impact and a meaning.” Laurens Van Der Post

So I was in the hardware store buying screws and varnish and masking tape and grout and glue, and having a laugh with the fellow helping me find things (about the trials and tribulations and triumphs and compromises of fixing things), when a couple entered the store and my Super Wealthy People alarm went off. That is to say, having grown up in Atherton, a town that is not really a town but an enclave for super wealthy people and those who serve them, a shiver passes through me when one or more of these folks comes near, and then I try to get away as fast as I can.

The woman was elegant and beautiful and perfectly coiffed and wearing a gray silk dress and a strand of fat white pearls and these amazingly svelte red leather boots, an ensemble that probably cost as much as most people’s cars, and the man was wearing a shirt and trousers I would more likely frame and put on the wall than wear. As is the habit of many super wealthy people, the woman walked up to the fellow helping me find things

Hey, Fellow Lefties: Pay Attention!


From REBECCA SOLNIT
TomDispatch

Forgive me if I briefly take my eyes off the prize to brush away some flies, but the buzzing has gone on for some time. I have a grand goal, and that is to counter the Republican right with its deep desire to annihilate everything I love and to move toward far more radical goals than the Democrats ever truly support. In the course of pursuing that, however, I’ve come up against the habits of my presumed allies again and again.

O rancid sector of the far left, please stop your grousing! Compared to you, Eeyore sounds like a Teletubby. If I gave you a pony, you would not only be furious that not everyone has a pony, but you would pick on the pony for not being radical enough until it wept big, sad, hot pony tears. Because what we’re talking about here is not an analysis, a strategy, or a cosmology, but an attitude, and one that is poisoning us. Not just me, but you, us, and our possibilities.

Leftists Explain Things to Me

The poison often emerges around electoral politics. Look, Obama does bad things and I deplore them, though not with a lot of fuss, since they’re hardly a surprise. He sometimes also does not-bad things, and I sometimes mention them in passing, and mentioning them does not negate the reality of the bad things.

The same has been true of other politicians: the recent governor of my state, Arnold Schwarzenegger, was in some respects quite good on climate change. Yet it was impossible for me to say so to a radical without receiving an earful about all the other ways in which Schwarzenegger was terrible, as if the speaker had a news scoop, as if he or she thought I had been living under a rock, as if the presence of bad things made the existence of good ones irrelevant.

Transition: A write-up of the 2012 Transition Network Conference. The best yet…


From ROB HOPKINS
Transition Culture

Transition folks from around the world gathered last weekend at Battersea Arts Centre for the 6th annual Transition Network conference.  In a week when the Arctic ice reached its smallest ever extent, scientists warned that the world’s weather could be on the verge of running amok and it was suggested that Saudi Arabia, always meant to be the ‘swing producer’ on whom the rest of the world could depend for reliable oil supplies, may become a net importer of oil by 2030, the theme of the conference was, appropriately, ‘Building resilience in extraordinary times’.  Unlike previous conferences which had spanned two, perhaps three days, this was, in effect, a 6 day ‘Festival of Transition’, and it turned out to be an extraordinary event which deeply affected those attending.

Friday

Thursday began with the first day of a Transition Thrive training, and Friday featured the second day of that training, attended by 35 people from around the world, as well as a Youth Symposium and the REconomy Day.  I arrived on Friday lunchtime, gave a short talk for the Youth event, and dipped into the REconomy day, so I can’t say much about either.  Fortunately, thanks to the various people who documented the event, you can see some great photos of the REconomy day here and read Jay Tompt’s reflections on it here, and here Caroline Jackson reflects on the Youth day.

Transition: At Its Heart, The Localist Movement is About Love…


From BALLE
Thanks to Mari Rodin

First Lady Michelle Obama’s speech this week has been described by many as unique in the world of politics. Political affiliations aside, what moved so many of us was her use of a particular word, used repeatedly, throughout her speech: Love.  Politicians don’t often talk about love, but it is a word we use at BALLE. And this week something happened that could be described as an outpouring of love in Bellingham, Washington, the community where I live.

A 15-year old natural foods store, Terra Organica/Public Market, put out a call for help on facebook last week. This is a BALLE business and a member of local business network Sustainable Connections. The owner, Stephen Trinkhaus admitted he’d taken some expansion risks the past year that had over-extended their business. He said that they were now on the brink of closing.

He said he had decided to ask for help because if they closed, 60 people would lose their jobs — and because he really believes in what he offers our community. If they closed, we would have fewer healthy, thoughtfully selected products and services. So he asked if we’d consider shopping there…a lot…in the next few weeks.

Within hours the Bellingham Herald had posted his letter on their website and by closing their sales had already increased by $2,000 for the day. The next day was their busiest day in all of 2012, and the following day was their busiest in fifteen years of doing business here.

A customer came in and offered a $1,000 check as a gift! Others contributed money as well. One person had the idea of buying extra food to give to the food bank, and through facebook, many others decided to do the same. Far away friends of friends on facebook sent in donations! A local citizen organized a “cash mob” to be held five days after the plea for help

Transition: Madness of the Mainstream…


From TRANSITION VOICE

The following dialogue continues an on-going cyber-discussion between two cultural philosophers, Dr. Sherry Ackerman and Dr. Guy McPherson.

ACKERMAN: Wow! I don’t leave the homestead all that often. And, when I do, I don’t go that far. But, today I had occasion to venture out into mainstream culture for the afternoon and I was flabbergasted.

The mainstream has never been my thing, but, Guy, I’m telling you that it’s plunged even further into madness. Sheer madness. There’s nothing out there that has anything to do with real life. It’s an entirely constructed false culture.

I live here on the homestead and there’s life all around me.

There are living plants in the gardens, animals in the paddocks and active people working with the soil, trees, water and solar patterns. Everything’s connected in a very practical, necessary way. Kitchen garbage goes to the chickens who then give us eggs. Livestock manure is composted for the gardens that give us our food. Solar energy fuels our living quarters, heats our water, and cooks our food. If any part of the chain of life breaks down, we’re all impacted.

Conversely, mainstream culture is dead.

It’s packaged, sterile, predictable, isolated (perhaps alienated is closer to the truth), and lifeless.

People lack enthusiasm (which, by the way, in Greek, means “filled with the gods”), are unanimated (anima, in Latin, means “soul”), disconnected and stressed. Time, which is a manmade construct, governs mainstream culture’s machinations. Products are old, boasting incredible shelf-lives. Prices are high, and the proceeds go directly to The Man, instead of to any real person(s). Conversation is superficial; factory food proliferates; gas belching machines, with single occupancy, are everywhere; dumps are brimming

‘Drones all over my brain’…


From FIRE DOG LAKE

A recently released report from the International Human Rights and Conflict Resolution Clinic of Stanford Law School and the Global Justice Clinic at the New York University School of Law explores what it is like to live under drones and features firsthand testimony from civilians in Pakistan. The report, called “Living Under Drones,” is the product of two investigation missions to Pakistan and features firsthand accounts from those who have been impacted by drones employed regularly by the United States.

Part 1 on what the report details on strikes against rescuers and funerals was already published here at Firedoglake. Now, here’s Part 2, which examines drone surveillance, the effect that the presence of drones in the sky has on the mental health of Pakistanis and how drones breed distrust in Pakistani communities.

The constant presence of drones in the sky brings terror to the lives of the people of Pakistan. It is “harrowing” for children, grown-ups, women, and anyone who hears the sound of a drone and thinks they will be next. And in some respects, surveillance by drones is even worse than drone strikes because Pakistanis do not ever know for certain that a drone in the sky is just overhead to spy.

A humanitarian worker explained:

Do you remember 9/11? Do you remember what it felt like right after? I was in New York on 9/11. I remember people crying in the streets. People were afraid about what might happen next. People didn’t know if there would be another attack. There was tension in the air. This is what it is like. It is a continuous tension, a feeling of continuous uneasiness. We are scared. You wake up with a start to every noise.

One person told researchers, “God knows whether they’ll strike us again or not. But they’re always surveying us, they’re always over us, and you never know when they’re going to strike and attack.”

Drone authorization lists in US…


From ELECTRONIC FRONTIER FOUNDATION

This week the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) finally released its first round of records in response to EFF’s Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit for information on the agency’s drone authorization program. The agency says the two lists it released include the names of all public and private entities that have applied for authorizations to fly drones domestically. These lists—which include the Certificates of Authorizations (COAs), issued to public entities like police departments, and the Special Airworthiness Certificates (SACs), issued to private drone manufacturers—show for the first time who is authorized to fly drones in the United States.

Some of the entities on the COA list are unsurprising. For example, journalists have reported that Customs and Border Protection uses Predator drones to patrol the borders. It is also well known that DARPA and other branches of the military are authorized to fly drones in the US. However, this is the first time we have seen the broad and varied list of other authorized organizations, including universities, police departments, and small towns and counties across the United States. The COA list includes universities and colleges like Cornell, the University of Colorado, Georgia Tech, and Eastern Gateway Community College, as well as police departments in North Little Rock, Arkansas; Arlington, Texas; Seattle, Washington; Gadsden, Alabama; and Ogden, Utah, to name just a few. The COA list also includes small cities and counties like Otter Tail, Minnesota and Herington, Kansas. The Google map linked above plots out the locations we were able to determine from the lists, and is color coded by whether the authorizations are active, expired or disapproved.

The second list we received includes all the manufacturers that have applied for authorizations to test-fly their drones. This list is less surprising and includes manufacturers like Honeywell, the maker of Miami-Dade’s T-Hawk drone; the huge defense

Rosalind Peterson: Worldwide and Domestic Drone Programs…


From ROSALIND PETERSON
Agriculture Defense Coalition
Redwood Valley

The United States has embarked on Worldwide and Domestic Drone Programs.  Unmanned Drones are being used in foreign countries and in the United States.  They carry surveillance cameras, recording equipment, bombs, and other weapon systems.

In recent years the U.S. government has decided to allow the use drones within the borders of the United States.  The following government reports, newspaper articles, and other information is provided for your information regarding the expansion and use of unmanned drones worldwide and in the United States.

Many unmanned aerial vehicles now under production vary in size from those as small as your fingertip to as large as full-scale airplanes capable of carrying missiles and bombs.  And model radio control small airplanes, cars, and helicopters can be purchased at your local toy stores or hobby shops.  The elementary technology has been in existence for more than fifty years.  It has only been in more recent times that more sophisticated technology, computers, cameras, listening devices, fuels, lighter and stronger contstruction materials, and other inventions have contributed to new uses for unmanned vehicles (drones).

Unmanned Drones are plagued by crashes, malfunctions, use of defective parts from foreign countries like China, accidents (including hitting other aircraft), loss of control, lost drones, and other problems.  Military drones are being tested over land areas in the United States while carrying weapons systems, missiles, bombs, and while using experimental and dangerous fuels, like hydrogen, or powered by nuclear power as is proposed by the U.S. government. The potential for accidents has already been clearly demonstrated in news and government reports