Don’t Cut Taxes For Billionaires. Double Them…

The Smirking Chimp

Forget the “Buffett rule.” It’s not enough. What’s more, “letting the Bush tax cuts expire for the rich” isn’t enough either – although it might get us halfway there.

As for that “Simpson Bowles” so-called “deficit reduction” plan: It’s a hoax, another ploy to give the ultra-rich yet another huge tax cut – unless you believe that the lobbying fairy will magically grant a wish that’s never been granted before: an end to billionaires’ loopholes.

If you buy that – which I don’t – then the plan’s just grossly unfair.

The real moment of truth Washington won’t face is this one: It’s time to admit that we can’t rebuild our economy – or balance the Federal budget – without raising taxes on the very wealthy. That’s what Simpson, Bowles, and all their highly-funded friends won’t tell you: We need to raise their taxes a lot.

And by “a lot,” I mean doubling them.

Left Is Right

Let’s be clear: I’m not talking about imposing sharp increases on incomes over $250,000 or even $500,000, at least not until the economy’s healthier. At those levels an expiration of the Bush tax cuts would probably be enough. But once you hit income of a million dollars a year and over, we should go back to the higher tax rates that were in place for millionaires during the Nixon years.

That’s right: When it comes to taxes, Nixon’s the One.

Why Walmart, Why Now?

In These Times

Labor historian Nelson Lichtenstein sheds light on the new surge of Walmart protests.

If, over the next several months, Walmart does not systematically retaliate against these striking workers, it will show other workers that they can stick their necks out. It will embolden other workers to do the same thing.

For years, the world’s retail behemoth, Walmart, has seemed impervious to organizing attempts. Unions, specifically the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW), have attempted to organize retail workers at the company—long known for both its low prices and poverty wages—but the company’s aggressive union-busting has always won the day.

So it comes as a surprise to many to hear, seemingly out of the blue, that workers in both the retail and distribution arms of the company have walked off the job in Illinois, Maryland, Dallas, California, and elsewhere over the last month. Striking warehouse workers have organized with Warehouse Workers United in California and Warehouse Workers for Justice in Illinois; retail workers around the country with OUR Walmart—all organizations affiliated with unions, but which aren’t unions themselves.

In These Times asked labor historian Nelson Lichtenstein to shed some light on the recent wave of Walmart worker unrest. Lichtenstein, director of the Center for the Study of Work, Labor and Democracy and a professor of history at the University of California-Santa Barbara, has long observed both Walmart’s business practices and workers’ attempts to organize there.

Vandana Shiva: Corporate Monopoly of Seeds Must End…


Sustainability pioneer Vandana Shiva speaks to Jo Confino about campaigning against seed slavery, corporations and patents

Vandana Shiva, one of the Guardian’s Top 100 most inspiring women, is currently leading a campaign to create a global citizens’ response on the issue of seed freedom.

In 1991, Shiva founded Navadanya, a movement which aims to protect nature and people’s rights to knowledge, biodiversity, water and food. It does this by setting up community seed banks that generate livelihoods for local people and provide for basic needs.

Shiva, a scientist, philosopher, feminist, author, environmentalist and activist, explains why the two week campaign on seed freedom against major corporations, which culminates on World Food Day later this month, is so important and the consequences of failure.

Shiva calls for civil disobedience, quoting Gandhi who said that “as long as the superstition that unjust laws must be obeyed exists, so will slavery exist”.

Why do you refer to the term seed slavery?

In another time, some people thought it was alright to own other people as slaves. In our times some corporations think it is alright to own life on earth through patents and intellectual property rights (IPR).

Gene Logsdon: Hens Are Changing The Meaning of “Profit”

The Contrary Farmer

The most amazing cultural event of the 21st century, at least so far, may be the rise of the hen. And Henny Penny is not squawking that the sky is falling, like humans are, but how locally produced eggs and fried chicken are a main part of the pot of gold at in the end of the food revolution rainbow.

Forgotten are our old cultural icons of milk maid and cowboy, replaced by the backyard gardener surrounded by a lovely little flock of hens. The egg has even weathered the condemnation of cholesterol paranoia and is once more as honored at the breakfast table as a glass of wine is at dinner.

You see chickens just about everywhere these days: on magazine covers, in television ads, and all over Facebook where humans show them off to their friends like they do new babies. Hens saunter demurely across the manicured lawns of suburbs as well as the manure-peppered barnyards of rural homesteads. You hear them clucking and cackling in the background when news reporters interview Afghan or Iraqi villagers on the radio. I imagine they are saying something like “Cackle, cackle, why don’t you clucking Americans go home.”

Chickens are winning over the world again, as they have always done throughout so-called civilization because they are such a cheap and easy source of good food. So handily can they produce eggs

Mulligan Books Opens Downtown Ukiah Post Office…

Ukiah Daily Journal

[I’ve edited for clarity… couldn’t help myself… -DS]

Dave Smith, owner and operator of Mulligan Books & Seeds in the heart of downtown Ukiah, has expanded his business to include mail service.

“I used to go to the post office daily, and the people at the windows who worked there were friends to many of us who work downtown. When they decided to shut it down we protested with Barry Vogel and Mike Sweeney heading up the effort. People had been coming in, especially downtown merchants, concerned about the closure and its relocation to Orchard Avenue. When they finally left last December it felt like a ghost town and I definitely noticed the difference in foot traffic. I started talking to other merchants to see if [any of them were interested] in setting up a contract post office.”

“I knew it could be done and I thought it would be good for me and great for downtown. I had to apply and it took two- to three months to get everything approved. There is a lot to it and I am now on a steep learning curve. I can sell postage, stamps, weigh out packages, use express or priority mail and media and parcel post.

“I can only do domestic [mail] at this point but will be adding international pretty soon. The mail gets picked up here [five] days a week at 5 p.m. [earlier on Saturdays]

Fukushima: The American Government Is Dictating Japanese Nuclear Policy…


We’ve repeatedly slammed the Japanese government for corruption in allowing unsafe nuclear reactors and covering up the severity of the Fukushima disaster.

But – as this article shows – the American government and nuclear industry is partially responsible.

The former Japanese Ambassador to Switzerland – Mitsuhei Murata – said recently:

In the US there are 31 [sic] units the same type of that of Fukushima nuclear plant [23 are virtually identical to Fukushima]. So, if the accident be spread too far that really embarrasses the US. So that is why the crisis of Unit 4 has been toned down recently. The USA is actually the main reason.

(Ambassador Murata has repeatedly spoken out about the extreme danger posed by the spent fuel pools at Fukushima Unit 4.)

This is not the only indication that the U.S. has had a large role in Japanese nuclear policy after the Fukushima disaster.  For example – in an effort to protect the American nuclear industry – the U.S. has joined Japan in raising “acceptable” radiation levels  after the disaster.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton also purportedly signed a pact with her counterpart in Japan agreeing that the U.S. will continue buying seafood from Japan, despite the fact

Involuntary Enlightenment: Radical Simplicity and the Middle Class…

The Simplicity Institute


How would the ordinary middle-class consumer – I should say middle-class citizen – deal with a lifestyle of radical simplicity? By radical simplicity I essentially mean a very low but biophysically sufficient material standard of living, a form of life that will be described in more detail below.1 In this essay I want to suggest that radical simplicity would not be as bad as it might first seem, provided we were ready for it and wisely negotiated its arrival, both as individuals and as communities. Indeed, I am tempted to suggest that radical simplicity is exactly what consumer cultures need to shake themselves awake from their comfortable slumber; that radical simplicity would be in our own, immediate, self-interests. In this essay, however, I will only defend the more modest thesis that radical simplicity simply would not be that bad. Establishing that thesis should be challenging enough.

Of course, if a radically lower material standard of living were to be imposed upon us suddenly by force of circumstances and without anticipation and some preparation, I acknowledge that most people would find such a dramatic change terrifying and painful – an existential disaster. Such a response would be quite natural and understandable. But I will argue that if such dramatic change were to be stoically anticipated and prepared for, it would not be that bad.

William Edelen: Jesus and Wives

Toward the Mystery

A very live and contemporary issue today, with many magazines and newspapers covering it, is the question “Was Jesus Married?” This is all due to a lost manuscript that has surfaced. An outstanding article in the New York Times for Sept 27th, was Fighting Over God’s Image. Please find a copy and read it if this is a subject that appeals to you.

A number of years ago when Dr. Robert Funk had his Jesus Seminar here in Palm Springs with over 100 leading New Testament scholars present, he asked me to give the lecture on The Sexuality of Jesus. The fear among many of pursuing this subject has been revealing and shocking. Also a number of years ago The Sexuality of Christ in the Renaissance Art and in modern Oblivion received rave reviews from all quarters. It was written by Leo Steinberg, who delivered the material at a Lionel Trilling Seminar at Columbia University and was honored by the College Art Association of America with its annual award. Some will find it offensive… those who find all expressions of sexuality offensive. The sexuality of Jesus is very obvious in the paintings.

Jesus was a Hebrew male, a man in the fullest sense and a sexual human being in the same sense that all men are sexual human beings. And yet, for some strange, neurotic and weird reason, many want to keep this subject

Poverty in America — It’s not what you think…


The Line documents the stories of people across the country living at or below the poverty line. They have goals. They have children. They work hard. They are people like you and me. Across America, millions are struggling every day to make it above The Line.

Tell the presidential candidates to put the focus on poverty here

1 out of 5 children in the U.S. live in poverty and more than 46 million Americans have fallen below the poverty line. These are alarming statistics and we need to hear more from the candidates about what they are going to do about it.

Poverty needs to be put back on the public agenda and you can make it happen. Tell President Obama and Governor Romney they need to spend less time on political attacks and more time focusing on poverty.

With every email you send, we’ll also copy in the debate moderators to make sure that they know that poverty must be raised as a major issue in this campaign.

Todd Walton: Walking To Town

Under The Table

“Everywhere is walking distance if you have the time.” Steven Wright

Last night by the fire, our new (old) house enshrouded in dense fog, I said to Marcia that I didn’t feel we were on the land where this house sits but rather on a boat, or possibly a raft, floating somewhere on the ocean of existence. I was not yet anchored anywhere except in my own interiority, except I didn’t use the word interiority because I didn’t think to use it until today when a letter came from my friend Max that said, “While it’s fun for me to say I’m on the Riviera, I notice this: in a certain way I am always in a room and inside my interiority when you and I are talking to each other. Wherever I may go, I’m always coming from that same place.”

Speaking of interiors, yesterday we had one of those spatial breakthroughs that amaze and gladden the spirit. On the east-facing wall of our new living room, two feet above the top of the doorway, sat a massive room-spanning shelf, a single piece of old growth heart redwood sixteen-feet long and a foot wide and two inches thick—an amazing slab of wood. And because the shelf was there and so massive and commanding and impressive, we kept trying to figure out what to put on it. We tried statues, books, driftwood, stones, gongs, drums, and pottery, yet nothing seemed quite right. But we had to find something to go there. Didn’t we?

Transition: Building Resilient Local Economies through Local Investment…

“Building Resilient Local Economies through Local Investment”
Presented by Michael Shuman, Fellow, Post Carbon Institute

In the face of multiple increasing global uncertainties – economic and environmental – the need to build the strength and resilience of our local economies has become very clear in the last few years. This forum addresses how we can work toward achieving that aim by encouraging entrepreneurship and cooperation between business and citizens locally and by harnessing local investment to support the start up and expansion of locally owned enterprises.

Produced for Transition Sydney and Energising Communities
Filmed at UTS, Sydney, September 2012

Post Office in Mulligan Books
Downtown Ukiah
Now Open

Stamps, Postage, Mailing

Last Mail Pickup – 5pm

Transition: California Homemade Food Act signed by the Governor…

What the California Homemade Food Act, AB 1616, will accomplish – a summary

Click here to download the final version of the bill.

The new law will go into effect in January. It creates a new category of food production called a cottage food operation, which, unlike other types of commercial food facilities, can be operated out of a home kitchen. The types of foods that a cottage food operation can sell are limited to “non-potentially hazardous foods,” which are foods that are unlikely to grow harmful bacteria or other toxic microorganisms at room temperature. The list of foods includes:

  • Baked goods without cream, custard, or meat fillings, such as breads, biscuits, churros, cookies, pastries, and tortillas
  • Candy, such as brittle and toffee
  • Chocolate-covered nonperishable foods, such as nuts and dried fruit
  • Dried fruit
  • Dried pasta
  • Dry baking mixes
  • Fruit pies, fruit empanadas, and fruit tamales
  • Granola, cereals, and trail mixes
  • Herb blends and dried mole paste
  • Honey and sweet sorghum syrup
  • Jams, jellies, preserves, and fruit butter that comply with the standard described in Part 150 of Title 21 of the Code of Federal Regulations
  • Nut mixes and nut butters
  • Popcorn
  • Vinegar and mustard
  • Roasted coffee and dried tea
  • Waffle cones and pizelles

James Lee responds to ‘On Fukushima Beach’…

Anderson Valley

The ‘Gift’ that will just keep on giving and giving ’till it hurts so many so bad!

No bigger topic than this. Our, every… of us, for the short, medium and very long term will likely be effected from what is not being done or even acknowledged some 19 months since Fukushima reactors became compromised and began leaking toxic radiation.

One of the most amazing takeaways from this documentary was that the Japanese officials chose to ‘save face’ and not disclose the radiation affects to their own people, even though those scientists that new the true dangers were/are recommending the evacuation of Tokyo!

This is incredibly unconscionable behavior and these ‘authorities’ need to be held accountable for their egregious behavior. Yet did we  not see the exact same action during Hurricane Katrina in the U.S., when private parties attempted to bring supplies to those in need while FEMA, Bush, et. al took days to provide assistance and remedy?

The other critical takeaway from this is that we are in a complete YOYO (You’re On Your Own) mode of society now.  Each individual, family and town needs to self protect, self preserve and, as best they can, become self sufficient and reliant in the communities where they live.  Their is simply too much evidence that our government ‘representatives’ have zero interest in the well-being of you, me or the future of our children or will come to our aid in times of more and greater disasters.

Our collective problems on radioactive fallout are not nearly as severe or widespread as problems

On Fukushima Beach — Explosive New Documentary…

The Most Revolutionary Act

On Fukushima Beach is an hour long brilliantly constructed documentary that uses a montage of mainstream and Internet media clips to unpack the Fukushima disaster. In addition to providing a painless scientific overview of radiation health issues, it outlines the ongoing radiation risks faced by all residents of the northern hemisphere.

There are simple measures people everywhere (except the Japanese – they need to be evacuated asap) could be taking to protect themselves. Yet in their eagerness to promote and support the nuclear power industry, the Obama administration, the Japanese government and the international agencies charged with monitoring and addressing similar health issues (such as the UN, the International Atomic Energy Agency and World Health Organization), have remained stubbornly silent on what promises to be the most serious health crisis of the 21st century.

Relying heavily on the technical expertise of highly prominent and credible medical professionals and scientists (including Australian pediatrician Dr Helen Caldicott and Japanese-American theoretical physicist Dr Michio Kaku), the film stresses the following essential points:

  • Despite being “shut down,” all four Fukushima reactors continue to release dangerous radioactive nucleotides, both to the atmosphere and the Pacific Ocean. There is a self-perpetuating chain reaction occurring in Reactors 1-3, in which core meltdowns have occurred. Continuing radiation release can only be stopped by encasing them in a concrete shell

Gene Logsdon: A Small Thing But Maybe Not…

The Contrary Farmer

All summer I raved and ranted at the squirrels that were eating the corn in my crib. I was particularly concerned because the drought seemed to be making sure this year’s crop was going to be a bust. I did not look forward to buying corn at drought-inflated prices just to keep squirrels fat eating my reserve supply. Eventually, we practically encased the whole crib in chicken wire. To no avail. Once a squirrel makes up its mind to get into something it will find a way even into a lead vault.

What is most infuriating about squirrels eating corn is how wasteful they are. They do not eat the whole kernel. They do not even eat half of it. They drill into the middle of the white heart of the kernel and with their incisor-like teeth extract a snippet hardly bigger than a flake of dandruff. Sitting on top of the ears of corn, they toss that kernel away like a drunk does an empty beer can, and snatch another off the cob. The wounded kernel then slips and slides down through the piled up ears of stored corn. Sometimes the wanton, fluffy-tailed rats jerk kernels from the cob and then drop them, eating nothing out of them at all. By summer’s end, the top layer of corn in the crib was only half-shelled cobs and the bottom layer mostly half eaten or whole kernels.

I realized on close examination that the half eaten kernels were really not even a third eaten and that there was still plenty of nutritive value left. I fed them to the chickens— at least I didn’t have to shell them off the cobs as I or the hens, usually do. The chickens ate the wounded kernels as well as they ate the whole ones and kept on laying eggs. Talk about a win-win situation. The squirrels got their fill and so did the hens.

Jobs of the Future: Cargo cycles are fast, efficient, clean and quiet… and 98% cheaper…

Cargo cycle electric assist in germany

Low Tech Magazine

Cargo cyclists replace truck drivers on European city streets

Those with strong cycling legs have ever more jobs up for grabs in Europe these days. A growing number of businesses are using cargo cycles, a move towards sustainable and free-flowing city traffic that is now strongly backed by public authorities.Research indicates that at least one quarter of all cargo traffic in European cities could be handled by cycles. And, by using special distribution hubs, larger vehicles and electric assist, this proportion could be even larger.A cargo cycle is at least as fast as a delivery van in the city – and much cheaper to use, giving a strong economic incentive to make the switch. Cargo cycles also bring important economic advantages to tradesmen, artisans and service providers.


Cargo transport in cities is extremely inefficient. As it currently stands, almost 100 percent of it is done by motorised vehicles, ranging from personal cars to commercial delivery vans and trucks (lorries). However, these heavy vehicles often transport very light goods. The average payload transported in European cities weighs less than 100 kg (220 lbs) and has a volume of less than 1m3 (1).  Of the 1,900 vans and trucks that enter the city of Breda in the Netherlands each day, less than 10 percent of the cargo being delivered requires a van or truck and 40 percent of deliveries involve just one box (2).

This means that a large share of the cargo being moved in and out of cities could be transported by cargo cycles.

Corn Syrup’s Secret Labeling Trick Revealed…

Great Value Butter Flavored Syrup


If you rely on American supermarkets for your sustenance, then no doubt you have bought and eaten products sweetened with corn syrup. Just look at the ingredient list of bread, cookies, candies, sauces, snack bars, and more to see how prevalent an ingredient corn syrup is.

While sugar, most high fructose corn syrup (aka HFCS – not the same as corn syrup!), agave nectar and other nutritive sweeteners count as 100% “sugars” in the nutrition facts panel, corn syrup elegantly gets away with a limited contribution to the total sugar count in a product.

A serving of sugar is 1 teaspoon. It has 4 grams of Total Carbohydrate, per the nutrition facts label below. All 4 grams of carbs (100% of carbs) are from Sugars.

This, however, is not the case with corn syrup. Below you can see the label for Karo Corn Syrup. A serving is 2 tablespoons, and it contains 30 grams Total Carbohydrate. As a sweetener, you would expect those 30 grams to be coming from Sugars. Alas, only 10 grams, or 33% are Sugars. Where are the other 20 grams?

CalFire Fire Prevention Fee Errors…


More errors are being discovered in the bills being sent to rural property owners by CalFire for “fire prevention.” The controversial “fee,” which many are calling an illegally engineered tax, is based on dubious data collected by CalFire via a combination of assessor records, Community Development records, aerial photographs, and GIS (computerized Geographical Information System) compiled by a third party “designator fee administrator.” Not only do the bills reflect taxable “habitable structures” which are clearly not habitable, but they are based on data which is months if not years old causing the bills, in many cases, to be sent to the wrong people.

Adding penalty to injury, the burden of correcting the errors is the responsibility of property owners who get the erroneous bills. People with inaccurate bills can file a “redetermination petition” within 30 days of receiving their bill. The petition and directions can be downloaded from the Fire Protection Fee Service Center or the State Board of Equalization Websites. To protest a fee the property owner must “attach all documentation to prove your case and make copies for your records before mailing the petition to Fire Prevention Fee Service Center, Attn: Petitions, PO Box 2254 , Suisun City CA 94585.” (And you better send it “return receipt requested.”)

The Waning of the Modern Ages…


La longue durée —the long run—was an expression made popular by the Annales School of French historians led by Fernand Braudel, who coined the phrase in 1958. The basic argument of this school is that the proper concern of historians should be the analysis of structures that lie at the base of contemporary events. Underneath short-term events such as individual cycles of economic boom and bust, said Braudel, we can discern the persistence of “old attitudes of thought and action, resistant frameworks dying hard, at times against all logic.” An important derivative of the Annales research is the work of the World Systems Analysis school, including Immanuel Wallerstein and Christopher Chase-Dunn, which similarly focuses on long-term structures: capitalism, in particular.

The “arc” of capitalism, according to this school, is about 600 years long, from 1500 to 2100. It is our particular (mis)fortune to be living through the beginning of the end, the disintegration of capitalism as a world system. It was mostly commercial capital in the sixteenth century, evolving into industrial capital in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, and then moving on to financial capital—money created by money itself, and by speculation in currency—in the twentieth and twenty-first. In dialectical fashion, it will be the very success of the system that eventually does it in.

The last time a change of this magnitude occurred was during the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, during which time the medieval world began to come apart and be replaced by the modern one. In his classic study of the period, The Waning of the Middle Ages, the Dutch historian Johan Huizinga depicted the time as one of depression and cultural exhaustion—like our own age, not much fun to live through.  One reason for this is that the world is literally perched over an abyss. What lies ahead is largely unknown, and to have to hover over an abyss for a long time is, to put it colloquially, a bit of a drag.

Democratic Womanism…

From Mimi,  DAILY KOS

Alice Walker has written a poem for this election year. I heard her reading it this morning on Democracy Now. I just loved it – I was amazed, touched and caught by surprise, nodding and saying “yes” over and over all the verses through. I like to invite you to read it. To me it’s a vision I can fully embrace and I am very sure many, many women would agree with her and wished to walk and work towards Democratic Womanism.

You can listen and watch her reading it here starting at TC 47:48.

[I have added blank lines for easier readability. If they seem odd to you, it’s all my fault.]

“Democratic Womanism”

You ask me why I smile
when you tell me you intend
in the coming national elections
to hold your nose
and vote for the lesser of two evils.

There are more than two evils out there,
is one reason I smile.

Another is that our old buddy Nostradamus
comes to mind, with his fearful
400 year old prophecy: that our world
and theirs too
(our “enemies” – lots of kids included there)
will end (by nuclear nakba or holocaust)
in our lifetime. Which makes the idea of elections
and the billions of dollars wasted on them
somewhat fatuous.

A Southerner of Color,
my people held the vote
very dear
while others, for centuries,
merely appeared to play
with it.

One thing I can assure
you of is this:
I will never betray such pure hearts
by voting for evil
even if it were microscopic
which, as you can see in any newscast
no matter the slant,
it is not.