Hawaii’s anti-GMO laws matter

SUBHEAD: The islanders who spearheaded the initiative intended to simply protect their own health and their environment.

By Nathan Johnson on 20 November 2014 for Grist Magazine -

Image above: GMO corn fields growing in Hawaii From original article. See (https://www.flickr.com/photos/yasa_/5936642266/in/set-72157627067448469).

On Election Day two weeks ago, Maui County, which includes the Hawaiian islands of Maui, Lanai, and Molokai, (IB note: as well as Kahoolawe) approved a moratorium on the cultivation of genetically modified crops. This decision, by one small county, could throw a monkey wrench into the entire production system for genetically engineered seeds.

When the island of Kauai passed GM-farming restrictions last year (later overturned in court), I wrote that it could have an outsized impact on the industry. Hawaii is unique: It’s the only place inside the U.S. with a year-round growing season.

Being inside the U.S. frees companies from a great deal of red tape (they don’t need to get approval under two different regulatory systems as they would abroad), and the tropical climate allows for multiple crops each year.

Kauai is important to the biotech industry, but Maui and Molokai may be even more important. As Monsanto acknowledged: “The majority of the corn seed we sell to farmers in Argentina, Brazil and the U.S. has originated from Monsanto’s Maui operations.”

If the law stands, Monsanto and Dow AgroSciences, the biotech firms with operations in Maui County, will be left scrambling to find a different way of producing seeds. Prices would almost certainly go up.

The islanders who spearheaded the initiative intended to simply protect their own health and their environment. (I’m not taking on those issues here, but I have in the past.) But in passing this law, they have broken a crucial link in the biotech business model. If it stands up in court.


That’s a big if. The lawyers moved in almost as soon as the ballots were counted. But curiously, the first lawsuit came from the leaders of the SHAKA Movement — the group campaigning in favor of the GM moratorium. Usually it’s those who lose at the ballot box that sue.

But this time it was the winners suing the county, Monsanto, and Dow AgroSciences, to demand rigorous enforcement of the law just a week after it passed. (I left a voicemail and emailed the lawyers representing the SHAKA Movement, but didn’t hear back.)

The next day, November 13th, the agribusiness companies and a group of other plaintiffs (including a trucking company and a farm that grows GM sweet corn), filed the lawsuit everyone was expecting, which asked the court to invalidate the law. On November 14th, the court issued a temporary injunction, blocking the Maui law until it could review the matter.

Michael Lilly, former attorney general of Hawaii, who appeared in ads urging citizens to vote against the initiative, told me he expected the court to strike down the law.

The case was assigned to judge Barry Kurren, the same judge who had struck down Kauai’s bid to restrict GM farming. “He previously overturned a similar, but not identical, anti-GMO ordinance on Kauai,” Lilly said. “He found that state law preempted the county ordinance, and I expect he will do the same with this ordinance.”

Proponents of that law have appealed the ruling to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.

At the same time, Kurren is also considering another lawsuit challenging a GM ban on the Big Island of Hawaii.

Can biotech firms pivot?

Ashley Luckens, program director at the Hawaii Center for Food Safety, said the disruption may amount to a headache and lost money for the biotech companies, but not an existential threat.

“We’ve learned that they can relatively easily move their operations around,” she said. When a lawsuit temporarily prevented Monsanto from planting Roundup Ready sugar beets in U.S. soil, the company was able to move production without much of a hitch, she said. “We didn’t see a market disruption.”

On the other hand, the amount of money the seed companies have spent to campaign and challenge these laws in court “does speak to how invested these companies are in Hawaii.”
According to Monsanto, the law would at least slow down the development of several new crops. In a blog post explaining the rationale for challenging the Maui moratorium, it wrote:
Research and breeding work involving traits that confer resistance to multiple types of insects and diseases in seed occurs on our Maui farms. One example is the research we are conducting on anthracnose stalk rot — a disease that can impact about 90 million acres of corn in the US and Brazil with an average harvest loss of 5%.  In Maui, we are working to develop seeds resistant to this disease, much in the way that the rainbow papaya seeds are resistant to the ringspot virus that nearly destroyed the papaya industry in 1997. Hawaii’s climate is unique in that we can continue this work year round.
If GM production stopped on Maui, it would wound the biotech companies. But a minor wound perhaps, just a flesh wound.

Economic and environmental consequences

Both Dow and Monsanto sell non-GM seeds, and could conceivably work strictly on those in Maui County. When I asked Monsanto representative Charla Lord if the company could simply switch, she said, via email, that it wouldn’t be so easy. “Banning GM crops in Maui County has no impact on the demand farmers have for GM seeds or on the significant benefits GM seeds provide to their own farming operations. It is not just as simple as planting different seeds.”

If the companies couldn’t find a non-GM use for the land they own, some fields would lie fallow. That would mean less plowing and spraying — which would be good for the environment. But, as Lord pointed out, there’s still demand for GM seeds, and as Lukens pointed out, the plowing and spraying would probably just shift elsewhere.

If the seed companies move production it would also transplant jobs out of Hawaii. Jack Suyderhoud, a University of Hawaii professor of economics, said that would be a loss for the state that relies so heavily on tourism. “There’s no difference between having a diversified portfolio of investments and having a diversified economic base,” he said. “So much revenue comes from tourism, that when we hear news about a recession in Japan, for example, everybody’s alarm bells start ringing.”

On the island of Molokai, however, there’s almost no tourism; agriculture is the primary employer, followed by the government. Monsanto and Mycogen, a subsidiary of Dow AgroSciences, provide 11 percent of the jobs, said Robert Stephenson, president of the Molokai Chamber of Commerce. On Molokai, 65 percent of the voters voted against the moratorium.

Political fault lines in a changing state

Alika Atay, a burly farmer with a white beard and big, resonant voice, told me there are three reasons he wanted to pass this law. First, he wanted more testing of genetically modified crops. Second, he wanted fewer pesticides sprayed and more information about what chemicals companies were using.

And third,  he felt he has a duty to fight for the environment of the island. The imperative to protect the land is written into Hawaii’s constitution; it’s called the public trust doctrine. And that, he said, is the most important, least mentioned part of the law.

The people working for the seed companies don’t feel the same sense of responsibility, he said. “I’m Hawaiian,” he said. “My genealogical line here traces back over 1600 years ago. Many employees for these companies, they just sleep here.”

“There’s a long history of resistance in Hawaii to this kind of agroindustry,” Lukens said. It was white plantation owners who brought down the Hawaiian monarchy, around the turn of the century. “Twenty thousand native Hawaiians protested the annexation of Hawaii into the U.S.,” she said.
The history is complex and the allegiances are interwoven.

After annexation, people from the Philippines, Japan, Asia, and Portugal immigrated to Hawaii to work on the plantations, and intermarried with the Hawaiians. It’s hard to say who represents native Hawaiian interests at this point. “It’s my understanding that 60 percent of the seed industry employees are native Hawaiians,” Stephenson said.

In 1959, when the islanders voted overwhelmingly to become a state, the plantation workers took control of the government, breaking up the oligarchy of plantation owners and rich Hawaiians.

As I was reporting this story, several people who disagreed with the GM moratorium mentioned that their family had come to Hawaii to work in agriculture. This may be a key point in understanding the politics of the struggle, wrote historian Rachel Laudan, author of The Food of Paradise: Exploring Hawaii’s Culinary Heritage, in an email:
Underlying the debate about GMOs in Hawaii, I suspect, is a tension between those who have lived in the islands for generations and newcomers from the mainland. For the locals, the islands have always been a place of high-tech agriculture. The great grandparents of many of them came from Asia to work on the big sugar and pineapple plantations. Successive generations saved to buy small plots of land. Those who farm these plots know that the papaya growers (small local farmers) have survived thanks to genetically modified varieties that have been safely used since the 1990s.
The real conflict may be between these descendants of plantation owners, and newer residents of the islands, who came to Hawaii looking for paradise, rather than a working agricultural landscape.
“It’s two quite different world views in conflict,” Laudan wrote.

Those contrary visions — Hawaii as a place for high-tech farming, or Hawaii as a residential and tourist archipelago — will soon be debated on Capitol Hill, where the chairmen of the two agriculture committees represent profoundly different positions on this issue.

The immediate future of biotech in Hawaii will be decided in the courts, but in the long-term it’s the state government that will set the course. If Hawaii opts to stop biotechnology, that would be a serious blow to the industry. Not a killing blow. But still, as Monty Python’s black knight knows too well, a flesh wound here, a flesh wound there, and before you know it can get pretty hard to operate.


Learning from Icarus

SUBHEAD: A reflection on how making society more resilient may be worse than doing nothing at all.

By Erik Assadourian on 20 November 2014 for Resilience -

Image above: Detail of painting of legend of Daedalus and Icarus by Jacob Peter Gowy (circa 1635) in the Prado Museum. From original article. See (http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Gowy-icaro-prado.jpg).

What if Icarus’ father—knowing his son would fly too close to the sun—had made the wings he designed more resilient? What if he had used bone and string and not just wax to bind them? Would this ancient myth have turned out any differently? Probably not.

Icarus would have simply flown closer to the sun before the sun destroyed his wings—perhaps igniting them on fire rather than just melting the wax. And so the boy would have fallen even further and have been crushed even more brutally by the onrushing wall of ocean below.

Let’s apply that question to today. What if we make our globalized consumer society more resilient? That is to say, what if—as more people in the sustainability community are advocating—we make our economic and social systems more able to withstand the inevitable shocks that come with an ever larger human population living within a destabilizing Earth system.

What if we build future coastal homes on stilts. And invest billions of dollars and massive amounts of natural capital (in the form of cement and embodied fossil fuel energy) in sea walls around cities like New York and New Orleans. And we even genetically modify crops—even livestock—to withstand drought and heat.

What happens then? We fly higher, we grow bigger, and our inevitable crash into the sea is delayed temporarily. But as with Icarus, the crash would be made far worse. These technologies may delay civilizational collapse a few decades.

If that’s the difference between 2030 and 2050, that might mean a peak population of 9.4 billion instead of 8.3 billion, a number far harder to sustain—even without the productivity losses that will come with a changing climate.

This delay might also translate to an overall temperature increase of 5 or 6 degrees Celsius rather than just 3 or 4 degrees, which could mean the difference between meters and tens of meters of sea level rise and the difference between millennia of misery and just centuries.

Instead, let’s learn the lesson that the myth of Icarus is supposed to teach: avoid hubris. Do not fly too high. Acknowledge limits exist, including the keystone limit that infinite growth is not possible in a finite system.

This isn’t an easy lesson—especially for a business community seemingly locked into a growth-dependent system. But it can shape the way the sustainability community discusses and advocates for resilience. No sane person should be advocating for a more resilient growth-centric society. That’s the very worst scenario we can have, because that’ll allow this economic system to disrupt more of Earth’s ecosystem services before its eventual collapse.

Instead the pursuit of resilience should be fully embedded in a degrowth paradigm, ensuring that programs that work to bring us back within Earth’s limits—and minimize catastrophic climatic changes—also help us weather those changes with as little suffering as possible.

So let’s ask the crucial question then: what gets us closer to living within planetary limits while simultaneously making us more resilient?

Some examples: Rebuilding local economies and community food self-sufficiency; finding ways to rapidly accelerate small scale energy production investments (but planning for a far lower electricity usage norm than what we currently use); investments in public infrastructure like bicycle sharing systems; and most importantly cultural changes that denormalize unsustainable forms of consumption: luxury travel, pet ownership, daily portions of meat, sub-arctic levels of cooling in the summer, and so on.

Yes, I recognize this isn’t the technological utopia that futurists promise. There will be no robot slaves to make living easy; no intelligent computer operating systems that simplify our lives and also double as romantic partners for the lonely.

Life will be harder—humans will probably labor more, including in simple day to day chores, but hopefully this simplification will prevent dystopic futures portrayed in movies like Soylent Green or Snowpiercer.

Naturally, we’d use some high technologies—appropriately: solar panels on tops of homes for example, but probably not in such densely concentrated arrays that they incinerate birds flying overhead; antibiotics—for life-threatening diseases, but not in ways that make bacteria more resistant (or should I say more “resilient”?); bicycles; zero net energy buildings; composting toilets; wind turbines—perhaps once again for moving water, grinding grain, and sawing wood more than for producing electricity; and the list goes on. But a lot of modern luxuries would be phased out.

The challenge is ensuring that all our efforts to become more resilient make us more sustainable—and vice versa.

But even if we fail at that, we should still work to stop any ‘resilience’ projects that serve to extend the reach and robustness of the consumer society. That, at least, may help cushion our eventual fall when we crash into the proverbial sea.

IB Publisher's note: Overall I think this is a useful article. However, I take exception to one point made. It is described in a comment I left on the Resilience website. See below.

I think the author (like a few others) has confused solar photo-voltaic panels for directly generating electricity with solar reflective panels for heating water to generate electricity.

Assadourian writes: "Naturally, we’d use some high technologies—appropriately: solar panels on tops of homes for example, but probably not in such densely concentrated arrays that they incinerate birds flying overhead."
His link does not refer to a PV system killing birds.

PV systems do not incinerate birds. In fact they don't reflect much light at all - they absorb light.

I'm not aware of any residential rooftop mirrored solar concentration systems for generating electricity.

I have a rooftop PV system in the tropics and even insects like dragon flies and butterflies are not injured in bright sunlight over the panels.

Juan Wilson


Beauty in a Landscape

SUBHEAD:  The post-modern American hedgerow, a landscape form that offers benefits to humans and nature.

By Adrian Ayres Fisher on 18 November 2014 for Ecological Gardening -

Image above: Separating agland from the road are hedgerows of eucalyptus creating the Tree Tunnel on the way to Poipu, Kauai, Hawaii. Photo by Brian Harig. From (http://fineartamerica.com/featured/eucalyptus-tree-tunnel-kauai-hawaii-brian-harig.html).

Part one of a series on the post-modern American hedgerow, a landscape form that offers benefits to humans and nature.

Before we get to hedgerows’ multifaceted functionality and usefulness, and why and how we should plant them, let’s start with beauty, a quality not often associated with the mundane, anthropocentric landscapes, whether urban, suburban or rural, of many parts of the Midwest—or elsewhere in the US, for that matter. Beauty—deep, profound, emerging through complexity, impossible to quantify—matters immensely.

As Aldo Leopold and a host of others, most recently Courtney White in Land, Soil, Hope, have pointed out, though there is struggle, suffering and disease, predation and often early death among the wild denizens, enmeshed in the food web as they are, nevertheless, an ecologically sound landscape—wherever it is, however lush, arid or in between—is beautiful in a way a degraded one can never be.

Beauty’s necessity is a fact of life for indigenous peoples and for us moderns who have lived close to the land in regenerative fashion, who’ve been worked on by it until we have become re-enchanted, until we’ve have become naturalized citizens of our home ecosystems. Artists, writers, poets, composers and musicians have always known and celebrated this fact, as have certain religious writers, philosophers and scientists.

I believe even the most urbanized, nature-phobic among us recognize and understand this necessity, though they may be unaware of it, or may have suppressed this knowledge to the detriment of their own psychic health and much else.

Because of the extreme degradation of so many human-occupied landscapes, some people might only associate beauty with a manicured corporate campus, or Disney-fied theme park, with the neat and tidy in general.

 Some of these landscapes might be pretty, but they have none of the deep mystery and complexity—and delight—that beauty entails. Others might only associate wild nature’s beauty—and ecosystem health—with nature reserves, national parks, and places of spectacular scenery well away from cities.

This camp includes people, even respected conservationists and scientists, who hold the ethos that true ecosystem health and beauty depend on a lack of humans in the landscape, where nature can do its thing free of our interference.

This attitude is important and necessary: it is why we need and have our great national parks and nature reserves and must continue to set aside land where other species can live and humans can visit without the threat of shopping malls apartment complexes, industrial farming and, worse, extractive industries, ruining the land.

However, and this is where hedgerows and other forms of greenways such as wildlife corridors come in, human-occupied landscapes can also be ecologically sound, full of a beauty not imposed according to strictly human rules and principles.

While an overly controlled landscape or one managed only for short-term gain, function or appearances never can be beautiful, a working landscape will be beautiful if it is managed with close attention to natural processes and room for the messy complexity of wild nature.

Unless there is room for wild nature, there will be no beauty or health—and there will be no life, in the sense of all the processes and cycles of living and dying that form that landscape.

There will only be that tendency toward cessation, toward depletion, degradation and impoverishment—toward death in its guise of “nevermore,” that is, of finality, of entropy, of extinction, of the dissolution of complexity that is the ruin of any piece of land.

As far as I know, the first peoples understood that humans can be part of an eco-system without destroying it, and that human influence is not necessarily negative.  I’m pretty sure that those original settlers of my part of the world never thought about the question of belonging or not in the terms set forth here.

Often the question was, and is, one of how humans can fit in properly, can earn the right to partake of the gifts our ecosystem offers, and of what we will give back. This is obvious if you read any of the old creation myths and stories about life on our continent, sometimes called Turtle Island. Humans belong here.

The wilderness that Europeans “settled” was actually land that had been lived in and managed by its peoples since the Laurentide ice sheet retreated 10,000 years ago.

We humans, if we live and work, think, plan and do as citizens of the biotic community, can actually be of benefit to an ecosystem, but only if we make an effort to follow the rules, sometimes called the “original operating instructions.”

This ancient, vital knowledge is only now being redeployed. Combining it with modern ecological science forms a powerful hybrid that can lead to truly regenerative land management practices.

Image above: Endless GMO soy and corn fields in Kansas stretch to the horizon. Photo by Galen Maly. From (http://www.imbikingacrossthecountry.com/?p=692).

Some caveats
Now it’s true that some farmers, the ones who grow commodity crops like soybeans and corn on vast fields, don’t like hedgerows. Nor do many developers, park districts, or conventional landscaping firms.

Hedgerows are inappropriate in large prairie areas, whether remnant or restored, where grassland birds require vast, treeless areas on the order of 10,000 acres or so to feel comfortable enough to nest and start families. They are shaggy, messy, unkempt looking. They require effort to put in, nurturance while young, and regular maintenance thereafter. We have fences.

I would never promote use of hedgerows in areas of the country where they’d be inappropriate, such as the desert southwest, or arid grasslands (except possibly where trees and shrubs might occur naturally, such as riparian areas) or large public lands managed for restoration. They have their own beauty and ecosystem complexity.

My aim during this series of posts will be to talk about how, in temperate areas of our country that are already built on or farmed, that can’t be restored or set aside, hedgerows can be used to help heal the land. They can be an important component of green infrastructure, complementing bioswales and raingardens.

Further, as our climate changes, hedgerows and greenways could be crucial not only for their carbon-storage properties, but also for their ability to serve as corridors linking larger, wilder areas so that animals and even plants can migrate to more favorable habitats.

Some of the plant migration could even be human-assisted, though that is controversial. In all, they are a prime example of reconciliation ecology, the practice of designing human-centered landscapes to accommodate the needs of other species.

Unless you’ve visited places with thriving hedgerows and have seen how they can positively impact a landscape, you may not understand why they are so vitally important.

This is partly a case of shifting baselines. You can’t appreciate or miss a type of landscape that nurtures all the creatures that live in an area unless you experience it, and beyond that, have the cultural understanding to value it.

In England, enough hedgerows have continued to exist and enough people and organizations have kept the cultural and historical knowledge alive to enable hedgerows as a concept to remain viable, and as a landscape feature to be to be saved and resuscitated.

Here in the US, both the concept and the reality are having to be reinvented. A friend of mine, who has been studying hedgerows and advocating their use for twenty years, calls these new efforts “post-modern hedgerows.”

Gardeners, conservationists, permaculturalists and organic farmers are already practicing hedgerow making, particularly in California.

By so doing they are reinvigorating ancient art and utilizing modern science that could, if practiced widely enough, help knit back together many of our fractured landscapes, providing habitat for pollinators, other beneficial insects, birds, and other animals while simultaneously providing food, materials, and shelter—in the form of privacy and microclimate enhancement—for humans.

Properly planned and maintained, they can increase bio-diversity, store carbon, help manage rainwater, and add beauty and livability for all.

When a farmer plants and manages a wide, ecologically diverse hedgerow, or enriches an old fencerow, or a government agency does the same along a road, they might say they are creating a pollinator reserve, wildlife corridor, game bird habitat, micro-climate enhancer, even a carbon sequestration system.

The same goes for those of us who have smaller pieces of land to work with in suburbs or city, whose small yards can link together in beneficial ways. But what we all really are doing is co-creating beauty.


Happy talk about the climate

SUBHEAD: Climate activists continue tooting their horns as if they have achieved something other than defeat.

By Dmitry Orlov on 18 November 2014 for Club Orlov -

Image above: Activists representing NGO Oxfam demonstrate at failed 2009 COP 15 Summit on CO2 global-warming/climate-change in Copenhagen. From (http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1235708/Copenhagen-climate-change-summit-Talks-suspended-African-nations-walk-emissions.html).

The non-binding climate deal which the US and China just signed will allow the Earth's atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration to go to 500ppm and beyond by the end of the century, far past the current concentration of 400ppm. Historically, this concentration was sufficient to produce an ice-free Arctic, significantly higher ocean levels, and an environment unlikely to be able to sustain large human populations.

According to a November 2011 study published in Science, “On our current emissions path, CO2 levels in 2100 will hit levels last seen when the Earth was 29°F (16°C) hotter.” Scientists participating in the IPCC have warned that just a 4ÂșC rise will mean that “people won't be able to cope, let alone work productively, in the hottest parts of the year.”

In short, this deal does nothing to forestall a complete, total, unmitigated disaster that is likely to spell the end of agriculture, urbanized civilization, and may doom humans, along with most other large vertebrate species, to extinction.

At the same time, May Boeve, Executive Director of 350.org, had this to say: “It’s no coincidence that after the biggest climate mobilization in history, world leaders are stepping up their ambition on climate action.

This announcement is a sign that President Obama is taking his climate legacy seriously and is willing to stand up to big polluters.”

Perhaps it is time to rename 350.org to something closer to reality. This organization has obviously lost its fight to limit atmospheric CO2 concentrations to 350ppm, and the fact that its leaders are claiming victory and want to continue the fight can only mean one thing: there never was a fight, just some of the usual useless politicking.

Of course, the White House was also quick to take credit, claiming that “the new U.S. goal will double the pace of carbon pollution reduction from 1.2 percent per year on average during the 2005-2020 period to 2.3-2.8 percent per year on average between 2020 and 2025.”

Against this backdrop of unmistakeable failure of environmentalism, there are actual reductions in carbon dioxide emissions taking place in the US—certainly too small to save us, but real nevertheless. The reason they are taking place is that the US economy is becoming increasingly hollowed out.

At this rate, the US will not have much of an industrial economy left in the time frame addressed by this climate deal. Obama's willingness to sign it signals, among other things, a recognition of the ongoing economic collapse, and an assumption that it will only accelerate. His “2.3-2.8 percent per year on average” sets an optimistic upper bound on how slowly the US will collapse.

China's situation is rather different. In signing the climate deal, the Chinese played to a domestic audience that is increasingly upset by the environmental devastation it cannot possibly ignore, including filthy air, rivers full of dead pigs and other such wonders. At the same time, the Chinese leadership still sees economic growth as something that's required for it to maintain political stability, and economic growth in turn requires burning more fossil fuels.

Yes, there was talk of “renewables” such as wind and solar, but wind and solar installations are built and maintained using an industrial base that runs on fossil fuels. They only provide energy when it's sunny and/or windy and are incapable of providing for the constant base load that an industrialized society demands.

There was also talk of “zero-carbon” energy sources such as nuclear, and the plan requires China to build an additional terawatt of nuclear power generation, but it must be kept in mind that nuclear power plants consume prodigious amounts fossil fuel energy during their decade-long construction phase, then pay it back while operating, but then continue to consume fossil fuel energy into the indefinite future—or melt down like Fukushima Daiichi in Japan.

Unlike the US, which, once the current, short-lived fracking bonanza is over, will go back to juggling resource depletion and economic collapse, China is building two massive natural gas pipelines to connect it to Russia's plentiful reserves which, unlike the very expensive “tight gas” produced in the US by fracking, can be produced quite cheaply.

This may allow China's economy to continue growing for some time, and placate its population by reducing the urban smog problem through lessening its reliance on coal.

Thus, this climate deal seems to mean the following things:
  1. The US is going to continue collapsing, and even the Obama administration takes this for granted and has set a safe upper bound on how slowly this collapse will unfold.
  2. China will continue growing, gobbling up ever more reserves, until something breaks (which it will).
  3. Climate activists in the US will continue tooting their horns, expecting us to believe that they have achieved something other than defeat.


Gluten or Glyphosate Intolerance?

SOURCE: Michael Shoolz (mshooltz@aol.com)
SUBHEAD: Maybe you aren't actually gluten intolerant. Maybe you're just poison intolerant to Roundup.

By Daisy Luther on 15 November 2014 for the Organic Prepper -

Image above: Illustration of Roundup being sprayed on food we eat. From (http://gmo-awareness.com/2014/02/25/glyphosate-wheat-linked-gluten-intolerance-celiac-disease-and-irritable-bowel-syndrome/). Click to embiggen.

Over the past couple of years, I had the unpleasant experience of having bloodwork done to confirm that I am gluten intolerant, only to have it come back and say, “Nope, you’re just crazy.”
The same thing happened to my good friend Melissa Melton, who was terribly ill before she cut wheat out of her life.

It’s happened to scores of other people, who pass the test for the anti-gliadin antibodies but still know that their health issues directly correlate with what they eat.

Now we may know why. The tests were right. I’m not gluten intolerant.  I’m poison intolerant.

I read a mind-blowing article last night that put it all together for me. (Please go read the entire piece by Sarah, the Healthy Home Economist.)
Standard wheat harvest protocol in the United States is to drench the wheat fields with Roundup several days before the combine harvesters work through the fields as withered, dead wheat plants are less taxing on the farm equipment and allows for an earlier, easier and bigger harvest.

Pre-harvest application of the herbicide Roundup and other herbicides containing the deadly active ingredient glyphosate to wheat and barley as a desiccant was suggested as early as 1980.  It has since become routine over the past 15 years and is used as a drying agent 7-10 days before harvest within the conventional farming community.

According to Dr. Stephanie Seneff of MIT who has studied the issue in depth and who I recently saw present on the subject at a nutritional Conference in Indianapolis, desiccating non-organic wheat crops with glyphosate just before harvest came into vogue late in the 1990′s with the result that most of the non-organic wheat in the United States is now contaminated with it.  Seneff explains that when you expose wheat to a toxic chemical like glyphosate, it actually releases more seeds resulting in a slightly greater yield:   “It ‘goes to seed’ as it dies. At its last gasp, it releases the seed.”

According to the US Department of Agriculture, as of 2012, 99% of durum wheat, 97% of spring wheat, and 61% of winter wheat has been doused with Roundup as part of the harvesting process. This is an increase from 88% for durum wheat, 91% for spring wheat and 47% for winter wheat since 1998. (source)
How horrifying is it that they douse this stuff for human consumption with the most toxic, prevalent herbicide around, an herbicide which has been linked to all sorts of problems, just days before the harvest? That stuff doesn’t get removed – it gets milled in with the wheat and lurks in your bags of flour, your loaves of bread, and your desserts.

This could also explain why some people who have terrible gluten symptoms are able to eat products made from organic Einkorn wheat.  It may not be that it’s heirloom Einkorn – it could just be that it hasn’t been doused in glyphosate.

Modern farming practices are killing us. Here’s a little rundown on glyphosate:
The first study found that glyphosate increases the breast cancer cell proliferation in the parts-per-trillion range.
An alarming new study, accepted for publication in the journal Food and Chemical Toxicology last month, indicates that glyphosate, the world’s most widely used herbicide due to its widespread use in genetically engineered agriculture, is capable of driving estrogen receptor mediated breast cancer cell proliferation within the infinitesimal parts per trillion concentration range.

The study, titled, “Glyphosate induces human breast cancer cells growth via estrogen receptors,” compared the effect of glyphosate on hormone-dependent and hormone-independent breast cancer cell lines, finding that glyphosate stimulates hormone-dependent cancer cell lines in what the study authors describe as “low and environmentally relevant concentrations.”
Another study found that consumption of glyphosate causes intestinal and gut damage, which opens the door to numerous human diseases, such as diabetes, gastrointestinal disorders, heart disease, obesity, autism, Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s:
However, another classification of allergy-type food is emerging and getting recognized for adverse effects on the human intestinal tract and gut. Those foods are genetically modified organisms known as GMOs or GEs. There is scientific research indicating intestinal damage from GMO food and the article “Glyphosate’s Suppression of Cytochrome P450 Enzymes and Amino Acid Biosynthesis by the Gut Microbiome: Pathways to Modern Disease” discusses how the inordinate amount of pesticides sprayed on GMOs leaves residues in GMO crops that, in turn, are being traced to modern diseases. (source)
The Organic Consumers Association says:
Glyphosate is the most widely used herbicide in the world. According to the EPA, at least 208 million tons of Roundup were sprayed on GE crops, lawns and roadsides in the years 2006 and 2007. In 2007, as much as 185 million pounds of glyphosate was used by U.S. farmers, double the amount used just six years ago.

A 2009 study found that Americans use about 100 million pounds of glyphosate annually on their lawns and gardens. It’s safe to assume all these number are much higher now. Why? Because GE crops are now being invaded by new strains of herbicide-resistant “superweeds” requiring higher and higher doses of poison.

Beyond Pesticides has assembled extensive documentation of past research linking glyphosate to increased cancer risk, neurotoxicity and birth defects, as well as eye, skin, respiratory irritation, lung congestion, increased breathing rate, damage to the pancreas, kidney and testes.

Glyphosate also endangers the environment, destroys soil and plants, and is linked to a host of health hazards. The EPA’s decision to increase the allowed residue limits of glyphosate is out of date, dangerous to the health of people and the environment and scientifically unsupportable. (source)
Nearly all of the symptoms we chalk up to gluten intolerance can also be related to glyphosate exposure.  This horrific little farming shortcut may have created an epidemic across the country.
Just last week I picked up a loaf of organic sourdough bread to serve with some beef stew.  I was hesitant but astonished when I didn’t suffer abdominal pain, bloating, and digestive upset.  I thought, “Yay!  I ate bread and didn’t die!”

Sarah’s article blew my mind, because when I read it, all of the inconsistencies with my own gluten issues began to make sense. It explains why I can eat the fancy Italian pasta that a friend sent as a gift. It explains why the odd baked good from the organic bakery doesn’t make me sick. It explains the blood test that says I don’t have a problem with gluten, even though my gut says that I do have a problem.

It’s time to say no to Big Food. Vote with your wallet and forgo eating anything containing poisoned wheat. Either skip the wheat products entirely or choose organic wheat products.

Perhaps our family diet can get a little bit broader now. It would be far less expensive to buy a bag of organic flour than the gluten free flour that we use for baking, pancakes and thickening stuff.

Maybe the bloodwork was right. Maybe we aren’t actually gluten intolerant at all. Maybe we are just poison intolerant.

The Real Reason Wheat is Toxic (it’s not the gluten)

The Gluten Connection: How Gluten Sensitivity May Be Sabotaging Your Health – And What You Can Do to Take Control Now

Wheat Belly: Lose the Wheat, Lose the Weight, and Find Your Path Back to Health

Grain Brain: The Surprising Truth about Wheat, Carbs, and Sugar–Your Brain’s Silent Killers

Gluten Intolerance Isn’t Just a Fad: It Can Wreck Your Whole Life

Gluten Intolerance: Is It Just a Fad or Is Today’s Wheat Really Toxic?

How to Go Gluten-Free Without Contributing to the Billion Dollar Big Food Rip-Off

See also:
Do US farmers apply Roundup to non-GMO wheat crops?

More on Glyphosate in food

By Steve Tober (stevetober1@gmail.com) on 18 November 2014 in Island Breath -

Have a look at this evidence based research explained in short video clips Theybacks up the article above.  How Monsanto manipulates the data.  Sad and horrific.

From NutritionFacts.org comes this:

"Higher levels of pesticides on GMO soy is a concern since Monsanto’s Roundup has been shown to be to have adverse effects on human placental tissue."

Video above: The acceptable amount of glyphosate in good for human comsumption have been increased. From (http://nutritionfacts.org/video/is-monsantos-roundup-pesticide-glyphosate-safe/) at (http://youtu.be/EVZK4n82u6w) 11/14/2014.

And this too from NutritionFacts.org:
"Genetically engineered soybeans have significantly higher pesticide residues than organic or conventional non-GMO soy."

Video above: Are GMOs Safe? The Case of Roundup Ready Soy. From (http://nutritionfacts.org/video/is-monsantos-roundup-pesticide-glyphosate-safe/) at (http://youtu.be/EVZK4n82u6w) 11/14/2014.

The Instability Express

SUBHEAD: The banks will find themselves in a position of being unable to trust each other on any transaction.

By James Kunstler on 17 November 2014 for Kunstler.com -

Image above: Drive locomotive sliding and tipping on ice in "The Polar Express" animated movie, 2004. Taken from the book written and illustrated by Chris Van Allsburg. From (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0338348/mediaindex).

The mentally-challenged kibitzers “out there” — in the hills and hollows of the commentary universe, cable news, the blogosphere, and the pathetic vestige of newspaperdom — are all jumping up and down in a rapture over cheap gasoline prices. 

Overlay on this picture the fairy tale of coming US energy independence, stir in the approach of winter in the North Dakota shale oil fields, put an early November polar vortex cherry on top, and you have quite a recipe for smashed expectations.

Plummeting oil prices are a symptom of terrible mounting instabilities in the world. After years of stagnation, complacency, and official pretense, the linked matrix of systems we depend on for running our techno-industrial society is shaking itself to pieces. 

American officials either don’t understand what they’re seeing, or don’t want you to know what they see. The tensions between energy, money, and economy have entered a new phase of destructive unwind.

The global economy has caught the equivalent of financial Ebola: deflation, which is the recognition that debts can’t be repaid, obligations can’t be met, and contracts won’t be honored. Credit evaporates and actual business declines steeply as a result of all those things. Who wants to send a cargo ship of aluminum ore to Guangzhou if nobody shows up at the dock with a certified check to pay for it? 

Financial Ebola means that the connective tissues of trade start to dissolve, and pretty soon blood starts dribbling out of national economies.

One way this expresses itself is the violent rise and fall of comparative currency values. The Japanese yen and the euro go down, the dollar goes up. It happens in a few months, which is quickly in the world of money. Foolish US cheerleaders suppose that the rising dollar is like the rising score of an NFL football team on any given Sunday. “We’re numbah one!” It’s just not like that. The global economy is not some stupid football contest.

When currencies change value quickly, as has happened since the past summer, big banks get into big trouble. Their revenue streams are pegged to so-called “carry trades” in which big blobs of money are borrowed in one currency and used to place bets in other currencies. 

When currency values change radically, carry trades blow up. So do so-called “derivatives” such as bets on interest rate differentials. When the sums of money involved are grotesquely large, the parties involved discover that they never had any ability to pay off their losing bet. It was all pretense. 

In fact, the chance that the bet might go bad never figured into their calculations. The net result of all that foolish irresponsibility is that banks find themselves in a position of being unable to trust each other on virtually any transaction.

When that happens, the flow of credit, a.k.a. “liquidity,” dries up and you have a bona fide financial crisis. Nobody can pay anybody else. Nobody trusts anybody. Fortunes are lost. Elephants stomp around in distress, then keel over and die, and a lot of “little people” get crushed in the dusty ground.

The happy dance about low gasoline pump prices featured on Fox News, combined with the awful instability in currency markets, will cut a swathe of destruction through the shale oil “miracle.” That industry has been relying on high yield “junk” financing to perform its relentless drilling-and-fracking operations — imperative due to the extremely rapid depletion rate of shale oil wells. 

Across the board, shale oil production has not been a profitable venture since it was ramped up around 2006. Below $80 a barrel, chasing profit only becomes more difficult for those who couldn’t make a profit at $100. A lot of those junk bond “investments” are about to become worthless, and the “investment community” will lose its appetite for any more of it. 

That will leave the US government as the investor of last resort. Expect that to be the object of the next round of Quantitative Easing. 

The ultimate destination of these shenanigans will be the sovereign debt crisis of 2015.


Plots for Princes

SUBHEAD: Big money is moving in on Kauai to make secure refuges for banksters and the elites.

By Juan Wilson on 18 November 2014 for Island Breath -

Image above: The golf course at Kukuiula near sunset. A come-on promo photo featured at Kukuiula real estate website. From (http://kukuiula.com/).

Here we go again. Undeveloped properties in desirable places are the target of people with money who want much more money. (see TGI article below)

How do make so much money out of land? You offer privacy, security exclusivity and pander to people with more money than they know what to do with.

Remember the Kukuiula Development Plan ranging east of Poipu Road to Spouting Horn. It was getting under way just about the time of the crash that started the ongoing Great Rcession of 2008. There were many unrealistic and unfunded schemes back then to cash in on real estate speculation.

Build it and They will Come
Kukuiula was one of the few that survived the real estate bubble pop. By "survived" I mean just barely. They didn't have the sales that they had expected but they had enough resources to go into hibernation.

The Kukuiula Development Company (and their partners DMB Associates of Scottsdale AZ) held onto their high prices and exclusivity figuring that eventually the those with millions to spend would come - they figured all they had to do was wait until the banksters have to flee Greenwich, Connecticut and Newport Beach, California. Half acre lots with 4,000 sqft house start about $6.5 million.

It must be getting close to that evacuation time for the 1% because the real estate bubble speculation money is starting to flow to our north shore from China.

Golf and Guards in the Tropics
The flaks are reving-up the propaganda machine favoring upscale development once more?

They describe their mission as stewardship of the land,  honoring the local culture, protecting the environment, resilience and sustainability.

When these developers talk about sustainability and stewardship of the land you have to realize that means maintaining chemically filled blue swimming pools and green Chem-Lawns. A horse pasture or cattle ranch is more sustainable.

What they really are offering is year round golfing, and maximum security in a tropical setting. These elite will be isolated from the ravages to come on the mainland. They will be safe from the burning brands and pitchforks when the system slumps in a steaming pile of decay.

Given the motivation for moving you can guess why the Princeville Airport is being upgraded. It's so rich people won't have to drive through the traffic in the "slums" of Lihue, Hanamaulu, Waipouli, Kapaa and Anahola to reach paradise. They can fly in from an international flight to Honolulu.

Private Property - No Trespassing
Moreover, don't be surprised to see ex Blackwater, Navy Seal and Secret Service agents relaxing in old Hanalei when off security duty protecting the elite at the new and even more private/secure Princeville Development.

One thing is clear - the access that regular people had to mauka and makai (the mountains and beaches of Kauai) had been greatly lessened since the plantation era days. Privatization is on a rampage cutting off most people's access to an important reason they live on Kauai.

We don't live here for the night life, high culture, or shopping opportunities. We live here because of the island itself and the people on it. The direction things are heading you'll only be able to drive to a shopping center, authorized county beach park or back home.  Everywhere else will be off limits.

Developing a Bunker Mentality
Many rich and famous have tried Kauai as a retreat to Paradise. What they soon find out is that there is nothing for them to do here. There is no Rodeo Drive or Fifth Avenue shopping. There are not dozens of first class entertainment venues to select from. The are only a handful of places they would even deign to eat at. Owning a Ferrari or Lamborghini on Kauai is like a bad joke. As a result, there is nowhere to go unless you get on a jet.  So goodbye sucker.

Of course, if things get shitty enough on the mainland the elite may come and stay anyway - Hell, the German elite did well enough in shabby Venezuela and Brazil.

One thing we local peons might hope for is if the 1% start a mass immigration to Kauai they may not put up with the a resurgence of the Hawaii Superferry carrying hundreds of cars a day to Kauai, or the PMRF military base making Kauai ground-zero for a direct nuclear strike, nor allowing chemical companies to endanger them with experimental pesticide spraying on the back of their mountain.

One can only hope.

Private Prince

By Chris D'Angelo on 14 November 2014 for the Garden Island -

Image above: Plan for new Princeville Resort development of over 1000 acres. From original article.

A private 8,000-acre, 350-unit residential community will be developed over the next decade in the North Shore community of Princeville, with the Prince Golf Course as the centerpiece.

When finished, “Princeville at Hanalei” will have its own polo and beach clubs, lodge, nature trails, golf course, restaurants, airport, spa and more.

Jeff Stone, Hawaii landowner and founder of The Resort Group, unveiled details of the project during an exclusive interview with The Garden Island on Thursday.

“The idea is to create a private community where the members will agree to pay to be great stewards, to maintain the land,” he said.

Start to finish, The Resort Group and its new partner Reignwood International, an investment firm owned by billionaire Thai-Chinese businessman Chanchai Ruayrungruang, plan to spend at least $500 million on the project, according to Stone.

The resort community will be managed by Discovery Land Company, which operates 17 private projects around the country, including Montana’s exclusive Yellowstone Club ski resort, Makena on Maui and Kuki‘o on Big Island.

The Prince Golf Course is slated to close Dec. 31, with Discovery assuming management the following day. It is expected to reopen in mid-2016 following $50 million in renovations, including a brand new clubhouse and improved greens, fairways and cart paths.

Course renovations will be overseen by original architect, Robert Trent Jones, Jr. The overall layout will remain the same; however, Stone said the plan is to make the course easier and more playable.

Stone said the Prince is the best course in Hawaii, but cannot sustain itself without a resort community around it. For the last 10 years, he said it has been losing $3 million annually.

“It is magnificent,” Stone said of the Prince. “But there’s no one on it.”

By bringing in Discovery and establishing a private community, Stone plans to save it.

Discovery takes over management from Montage Golf, a division of Montage Hotels & Resorts, which will result in 58 employees being laid off Dec. 31. Stone said that while he doesn’t want to lose the employees, the course must remain closed between 12 and 18 months.

Discovery plans to employ about 250 people — more than four times the current labor force.
“It’s just a great opportunity to have Discovery as part of our community,” Stone said.

As for what it will cost to become a member of Princeville at Hanalei, Stone said fees will likely be comparable to the Yellowstone Club.

According to one CNBC report, membership at the Yellowstone Club costs an initial $300,000, plus annual dues of $30,000. Additionally, members must purchase a property, which start at $2.5 million for a condo and go up to more than $10 million for a ranch.

Stone said Phase II of the community master plan for Princeville Resort was initially approved for about 3,500 units. His plan for the private community is to start with 268 units and eventually reach 350.

Twenty “equestrian homes,” as Stone called them, will be built on 75 acres surrounding the now-abandoned but soon-to-be-reborn polo fields at Anini. Seventy-five homes, each on a 5-acre lot, will be located along the ridge. And an additional 173 units will make up what will be known as the Lodge Villas, located near the golf course.

A private Anini Beach Club will be located just inland from the western end of Anini Beach. Stone said plans also call for upgrades to the Princeville Airport, including rebuilding hangars and expanding the runway.

Stone said while the word “private” often leaves a bad taste in people’s mouths, there is nothing negative about the sustainable, low-density, one-of-a-kind resort community he has planned.
“How do we take this beautiful environment, lower the density to a density that fits with the vision of the North Shore?” he asked. “That’s what we’ve done.”

In 2005, The Resort Group, with Morgan Stanley as partner, acquired the 9,000-acre Princeville Resort from Japanese beer maker Suntory. The sale included the 252-room St. Regis resort (formerly The Princeville Hotel) now managed by Starwood, the Prince and Makai golf courses and club facilities, Princeville Tennis Club, Princeville Health Club and Spa, Princeville Shopping Center, Princeville Airport, Princeville Ranch and historic taro lands in Hanalei Valley.

During Phase 1 of the development, Stone led the $15 million renovation of the Makai Golf Course and its facilities, the update of Princeville Shopping Center, the $85 million renovation of St. Regis Princeville Resort, the $200 million construction of the Westin Princeville Ocean Resort Villas and the $10 million renovation of the Prince Golf Course.

In September, 1,103 acres of the Princeville Resort was acquired through a partnership between The Resort Group and Reighwood International, valued at $343 million. And earlier this month, Discovery Land Company was selected to manage the development.

“The Princeville lands are truly sacred, and we intend to develop them in a way that pays homage to their purity,” Discovery founder Michael S. Meldman said in a recent release.

“We are fortunate to be in partnership with The Resort Group and Reignwood, both of whom share our strong belief that responsible development draws inspiration from the environment and local customs of the property’s location.”

Thai-Chinese Businessman buys Princeville

By Duane Simogawa on 10 September 2014 for Pacific Business News -

Image above: Photo of heavy duty earth moving trucks from Reignwood International's Facebook page. See (https://www.facebook.com/pages/Reignwood-International-Resources-Investment-Group-Co-Ltd/366759373338147).

Billionaire Thai-Chinese businessman Chanchai Ruayrungruang’s Reignwood International has purchased 1,103 acres at the Princeville Resort in Hanalei, including the Prince Golf Course, on the North Shore of Kauai for $343 million, the resort's master developer told PBN Wednesday.

Hawaii developer Jeff Stone’s The Resort Group, one of the largest resort development landowners in the state, confirmed the sale to PBN.

The sale signals one of the first major investments by Chinese investors in Hawaii, which up until now, was mostly just rumored to be in the works.

A company spokeswoman told PBN on Wednesday that no employees will be affected by the sale and that operations will continue as usual.

Stone, who is also master developer of the Ko Olina Resort in Leeward Oahu, will continue to manage the Kauai lands; Reignwood International is buying out Morgan Stanley as the finance partner.

Reignwood International, which has interests in consumer, lifestyle, industrial and financial products, will own and oversee the long-term development of Princeville Resort. The partnership between Stone and Ruayrungruang will manage the long-term planning and development aspects of Princeville lands.

Reignwood Group, the parent company of Reignwood International, was founded in Thailand in 1984 by Ruayrungruang, who has a net worth of $2 billion, according to Forbes.

In 30 years, Reignwood Group has grown into a multinational enterprise with diversified investments in key growth industries in Asia and around the world with branch offices in Singapore, Thailand, the United Kingdom, Canada and the United States.

“Hawaii’s culture has deep roots in Asian heritage as many of my good friends cherish the Islands and have made them their preferred vacation destination or home,” Ruayrungruang said. “We’re excited to be part of the Kauai and Hawaii communities. “The island’s natural beauty is spectacular, and its open countryside translates well to our sustainability goals for our communities.”

Ni Songhua, the London-based head of global investments and acquisitions for Reignwood, said the partnership underscores its long-term confidence in the state.

“We’re committed to preserving Princeville’s regal heritage and cultural roots,” he said. “We believe that Reignwood’s profound respect for Hawaiian history, along with our green vision for the future, will help to advance the long-term vision of Mr. Stone.”

The 9,000-acre Princeville Resort, once the site of sugar plantations and cattle ranches, became Hawaii’s first and largest master-planned community in the 1960s. The Resort Group and Morgan Stanley purchased Princeville in 2005 from Suntory, Japan’s largest beverage company.

Stone helped bring the St. Regis luxury brand to Hawaii, a pivotal component to securing the development of the Westin Princeville Ocean Resort Villas, and oversaw the renovation of Princeville’s Prince and Makai golf courses and its retail shopping center.

Annual operations at the resort currently support 2,500 jobs and generate $1 billion in economic impact to Kauai and the state, according to The Resort Group.

Beijing-based Reignwood Group, which is involved in 16 industries through its more than 60 subsidiaries around the world, is the distributor of Red Bull drinks in China, and just this past July, bought a stake in the producer of Vita Coco.

See also:
Ea O Ka Aina: Kukuiula Ghost Town 9/27/11
Ea O Ka Aina: Princeville Development 1/20/09
Island Breath:Annals of False Advertising - Kauai Lagoons  5/18/08
Island Breath: TGI #21 Koloa Monkeypods 1/11/08
Island Breath: Annuls of False Advertising - Kevin Showe 7/15/07
Island Breath: Koloa Landing 6/28/2007
Island Breath: Coconut Coast & Ko Olina Coast 6/1/2007


Keystone XL an Act of War

SUBHEAD: The Rosebud tribe and others of the Great Sioux Nation have adopted resolutions opposing the Keystone XL project.

By Andrew Hart on 16 November 2014 for Huffington Post -

Image above: Greater Sioux Reservation as defined in the 1868 Treaty as found by the Indian Claims Commission. From (http://www.crystalinks.com/sioux.html).

The president of South Dakota’s Rosebud Sioux (Sicangu Lakota Oyate) tribe has called the House of Representatives' vote to force approval of the Keystone XL pipeline an “act of war,” the Summit County Citizen's Voice reported on Saturday.

"The House has now signed our death warrants and the death warrants of our children and grandchildren. The Rosebud Sioux Tribe will not allow this pipeline through our lands,” President Cyril Scott said in a statement. “We will close our reservation borders to Keystone XL.”

Scott said he and other tribal elders have not been appropriately consulted on the pipeline, which would run through the tribe's land. He also contended the House vote violates the 1851 and 1868 Fort Laramie treaties, which gave the Black Hills to the Sioux Nation, according to the Summit County Citizen's Voice.

The proposed 1,660-mile pipeline would carry oil from Canada's tar sands to refineries in Texas. Scott echoed the concerns many environmentalists have raised about the pipeline, namely that it would be detrimental to the environment and further U.S. dependence on fossil fuels.

"The Lakota people have always been stewards of this land,” said Scott. “We feel it is imperative that we provide safe and responsible alternative energy resources not only to tribal members but to non-tribal members as well. We need to stop focusing and investing in risky fossil fuel projects like TransCanada’s Keystone XL pipeline.

We need to start remembering that the earth is our mother and stop polluting her and start taking steps to preserve the land, water, and our grandchildren’s future."

The Rosebud tribe and other members of the Great Sioux Nation have adopted tribal resolutions opposing the Keystone XL project in February, according to the Grand Island Independent.

The pipeline has become a political football in recent weeks. Rep. Bill Cassidy (R-La.), the lead sponsor of the House bill, is in a tight runoff election, challenging incumbent Mary Landrieu (D-La.) for her Senate seat. Landrieu is the co-author of a parallel Senate bill that is set for a vote on Tuesday, November 18th.

Several Democratic lawmakers said on Sunday that President Obama would veto a bill authorizing the pipeline. White House officials have also indicated that the president is leaning toward a veto. Because the pipeline would cross an international border, the decision on whether to approve falls to the State Department.

The State Department has delayed a decision on the project until after a court in Nebraska decides on the legality of the proposed route through the state.

Is Keystone XL Pipeline Obsolete?

SUBHEAD:Upcoming US Congress vote on Keystone Pipeline tackles questions history may have already answered.

By Jim Snyder on 17 November 2014 for Bloomberg News -

As the Keystone XL pipeline from Canada races toward a showdown in the U.S. Congress, many in the oil industry say it’s already been bypassed by history.

Six years after the project was proposed, nearly every aspect of the debate has changed. The economy’s on the mend, the price of crude oil has tumbled and the U.S. goal of achieving energy independence has never been closer, spurred by the success of fracking and a rising volume of Canadian crude entering the country in other ways.

While Keystone’s status as a powerful political symbol remains as strong as ever in the halls of Congress, where the project may get a green light in a second vote this week, the pipeline’s become “kind of old news” within the industry, said Sandy Fielden, director of energy analytics at RBN Energy in Austin. “Producers have moved on.”

The 830,000 barrels per day Keystone would carry have found other paths to the U.S. Cross-border pipelines such as Enbridge Inc.’s Alberta Clipper are considering expansion. By next year, Alberta, home to the Canadian oil sands, will have built about 700,000 barrels a day of rail capacity from almost nothing a few years ago, said Patrick Kenny, an analyst at National Bank Financial in Calgary.

“A lot of work has been done to backfill the capacity that Keystone XL was supposed to represent,” Kenny said. “Keystone would have been a ‘must-have’ without all the crude-by-rail that has come on in the last couple of years.”

Rising Production
U.S. production, meanwhile, is booming. In 2008, wells were pumping out around 5 million barrels a day. By August, that had risen to more than 8.6 million barrels, more than a 70 percent jump, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

The added supply has helped push prices lower, with oil falling to about $75 a barrel last week. When TransCanada Corp. (TRP) first applied to build the project in 2008, oil was selling for more than $100 a barrel. Now, energy companies have even begun lobbying to lift our-decade-old U.S. restrictions on exports.

Another selling point -- jobs the pipeline would provide -- may also be fading as an issue. While a few thousand would be employed during a two-year construction phase, just 50 permanent positions would remain afterward, according to a State Department analysis.

And the states where the pipeline would travel -- Montana, South Dakota and Nebraska -- already have an unemployment rate well below the 5.9 percent national average.

“The energy security argument has been gutted. The economic argument has been gutted,” said Michael Webber, deputy director of the Energy Institute at the University of Texas in Austin. “A lot of the arguments have changed.”

Still, there is one thing that hasn’t changed: the politics behind the pipeline.

Shifting Argument
“Whether it’s needed or not needed, that’s not going to stop people from handling this as a political issue,” said Amy Myers Jaffe, executive director of energy and sustainability at the University of California at Davis. “At this point in time, we have left the subject of the commercial value of the Keystone pipeline. That is no longer what is at stake.”

The Republican-led U.S. House, thumbing its nose at President Barack Obama’s concerns over the project, approved it in a vote last week. This week, the Democratic-led Senate is set to vote on Keystone, and Republicans say they have enough Democratic votes to pass the legislation. The reason: A yes vote stands as support for the bill’s sponsor -- Louisiana Senator Mary Landrieu -- who is behind in the polls in a run-off election to keep her seat.

Veto Awaits
If the bill passes, it faces an almost certain presidential veto. If it doesn’t advance, Republicans including Mitch McConnell, the presumptive majority leader, promise to push it through next year.
“We will spend an enormous amount of time and energy debating Keystone,” Mike McKenna, A Republican energy lobbyist, said earlier this month. It’s become “a religious item.”

Before the House vote, Obama offered his most pointed comments yet on the pipeline, challenging Republican claims that the project would create a significant number of jobs and would lower gasoline prices.

“Understand what this project is: It is providing the ability of Canada to pump their oil, send it through our land down to the Gulf where it will be sold everywhere else,” the president said last week during a visit to Yangon, Myanmar. “It doesn’t have an impact on U.S. gas prices.”

Obama emphasized in remarks yesterday that the pipeline’s impact on climate change will be a “major determinant of whether we should approve a pipeline shipping Canadian oil to world markets, not the United States.”

Environmental Question
“We’re going to let the process play itself out,” Obama said.

The process of producing and refining the heavy, tar-like substance known as bitumen from the oil sands releases more carbon dioxide than cleaner grades of oil. But the State Department concluded in a highly anticipated environmental analysis released in January that the pipeline’s contribution to greenhouse gases would be minimal, since the oil would find a way to market with or without the project.

Other forces are also at work. The Nebraska Supreme Court is considering legal issues related to the project that could keep it from traveling through that state or bring further delays. That case has prompted the U.S. State Department, which has jurisdiction because Keystone crosses the border from Canada, to suspend its review of the issue pending the outcome.

Industry Needs
Meanwhile, even though the U.S. need for the project may be questionable, it remains important to Canada’s government and oil producers including Cenovus Energy Inc. (CVE) and Suncor Energy Inc. (SU) that need it to transport the growing volumes of crude being produced in the country.

“We remain supportive of all projects that would open up access to new markets for our oil,” said Cenovus spokesman Reg Curren. The company has committed to ship 75,000 barrels a day on Keystone XL, he said.

As the most direct route to the largest market for the oil, Keystone XL “is still part of that short and longer picture,” Greg Stringham, vice president of oil sands and markets at the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers, said in an e-mailed statement.

TransCanada spokesman Shawn Howard said the pipeline was an “important piece of energy infrastructure” that would help American workers. CEO Russ Girling told ABC News yesterday he still expects the pipeline to get built.

“The demand for it has just continued to increase,” he said in an interview, noting that oil from future growth in production will need a way to get to market. “Shippers have not wavered one bit over the last six years, they still want this to happen,” Girling said.

Overlords and Serfs

SUBHEAD: You know inequality is bad - but you don’t know how bad. We’ve gotten to the overlord and serf level.

By Staff on 14 November 2014 for the Washington Blog -

Image above: Detail of painting of reeve (land manager) overseeing serf laborers in feudal England circa 1310. From (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Serfdom).

Henry Bloget - Business Insider: 300 Million Serfs 4/10/13.
You know inequality is bad … but you don’t know how bad. We’ve gotten to the overlord and serf level.
Gini Graham Scott - (The Huffington Post: The New Middle Ages) 9/18/13
Today, as the rich get richer and the poor get poorer, it seems we are approach[ing] a new Middle Ages in America, as inequality increasingly spreads through the land. It is as if the super-rich are like the new royalty and the top 1 percent are living in mansions like the old castles of kings in the kingdoms that eventually melded into Europe and the U.K.

This situation is much like what existed in the Middle Ages, with today’s poor underclass much in the position of the peasants, and the super-rich like the nobility ….
The 85 richest people have as much money as the 3.5 billion poorest people (that’s half of the entire world population).

Bill Moyers - BillMoyers.com: The Disappearing Middle Class  11/4/14
The global 1 percent has increased their wealth from $100 trillion to $127 trillion in just three years.
[Each year since the 2008 recession], the 1 percent took in anywhere from $2.3 trillion to $5.7 trillion per year. (All numeric analysis is detailed here.)

The middle class is disappearing at the global level. An incredible one of every ten dollars of global wealth was transferred to the elite 1 percent in just three years. A level of inequality deemed unsustainable three years ago has gotten even worse.
Just one rich family, the six heirs of the brothers Sam and James Walton, founders of Walmart, are worth more than the bottom 40 per cent of the American population combined ($115 billion in 2012).
A recent posting detailed how upper middle class Americans are rapidly losing ground to the one-percenters who averaged $5 million in wealth gains over just three years.

The information came from the Credit Suisse 2014 Global Wealth Databook (GWD), which goes on to reveal much more about the disappearing middle class.
The Upper Middle Class of America Owns a Smaller Percentage of Wealth Than the Corresponding Groups in All Major Nations Except Russia and Indonesia
The upper middle class in the US, defined as everyone in the top half below the richest 20 percent, owns 11.9 percent of the wealth. Indonesia at 10.5 percent and Russia at 7.5 percent are worse off, but in all other nations the corresponding upper middle classes own 12 to 27 percent of the wealth.

America’s bottom half compares even less favorably to the world: dead last, with just 1.3 percent of national wealth. Only Russia comes close to that dismal share, at 1.9 percent. The bottom half in all other nations own 2.6 to 10.2 percent of the wealth.
Paul Buchheit wrote -BuzzFlash: Billion Dollar a Month 11/10/14:
It was recently reported that just 47 individuals in the U.S. own more than all 160 million Americans (about 60 million households) below the median wealth level of about $53,000.

But Forbes keeps building up the numbers. As of November 8, 2014 just 43 individuals own as much as the bottom half of America, based on the Credit Suisse Global Wealth Databook (GWD).
And the top .01% of Americans now owns as much as the bottom 90%. Indeed, the 1% have gotten chump change compared to the .01% (you’ve got to see the charts to believe it).

And the above figures are underestimates … because the very wealthy hide much of their wealth in offshore accounts which are hard to account for. The head of the Federal Reserve said last month that inequality levels are rising, and are near 100-year levels.

Inequality levels are truly stunning … and inequality levels in America today may actually be the highest anywhere in the world ever. And studies confirm that America is now an oligarchy, not a democracy.

Indeed – while fighting it for decades – mainstream economists now finally admit that runaway inequality destroys our economy. The lords are truly trying to make us all into serfs.   History may be repeating.