The Toxic Truth

SOURCE:  Ken Taylor (taylork021@hawaii.rr.com)
SUBHEAD: There is good science indicating that GMO foods are far different than non-GMO foods.

By Christina Arich on 17 April 2014 for Nation of Change -
(http://www.nationofchange.org/toxic-truth-evidence-gmo-foods-are-far-different-non-gmo-foods-1397747515)


Image above: Illustration of DNA damage from human meddling. From (http://gmofreenevada.org/gmo-facts-and-definitions/).

To get real science about GMOs, you have to consult scientists who aren’t shills for the biotech industry, and several new studies have proven beyond a doubt that genetically modified foods are far different from their non-GMO counterparts.

This is an important time for research like this to be presented to the public since thus far, biotech companies have been relying upon the ‘substantial equivalence rule’ to get approval for their poison crops through government regulatory agencies.

 Substantial equivalence related to GMOs means that governments look at genetically modified organisms in comparison to their non-genetically manipulated brethren to determine if they should be given authorization for release. It was introduced in 1993 by the Organization for Economic Development (an international economic and trade organization, not a health organization with qualified individuals).

Substantial equivalence is not only used by our own U.S. Food and Drug Administration, but also the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, Japan’s Ministry of Health and Welfare, the United Nation’s Food and Agriculture Organization, the World Health Organization (WTO), and the OECD. Essentially it says that if a GMO seems about the same as a non-GMO food, then it is ‘safe’ for planting.

Additionally, substantial equivalence takes into account that some non GMO foods can contain toxic components just like GMO foods, and can still be consumed without harm to human health. For example, green-skinned potatoes contain solanine which will make the potato taste bitter, and, when consumed in large amounts, can be lethal.

The latest scientific findings; however, prove that GMOs are not equivalent at all to non-GMO, according to the Permaculture Research Institute.

The Institute and others believe this is a faulty concept that allows biotech companies, like Dow and Monsanto, to ignore regulatory requirements that apply to many other food products – from processed chips and cookies to pharmaceuticals, food additives, and even pesticides.

All of these things currently require a wide array of toxicological tests to determine if they are truly safe for human consumption (sometimes ignoring if they are good for the environment, though.)

It isn’t as if our regulatory bodies can be trusted to approve or deny certain foods or drugs anyhow, considering the FDA has given its stamp of approval to numerous painkillers and anti-depressants that cause suicide, while our federal government still bans Cannabis even though it can treat more than 30 diseases. But the rules, as they stand, are very loose, and subject to interpretation so that just about all GMOs can be approved with little due process.
In an Institute post, Dr Eva Sirinathsinghji wrote:
 “In practice, the principle allows the comparison of a GM line to any existing variety within the same species, and even to an abstract entity made up of ingredients from a collection of species. This means that a GM variety can have all the worst traits of many different varieties and still be deemed substantially equivalent.”
Permaculture Research Institute reports on one study which shows how this process is inadequate and very misleading. An Egyptian publication led by Professor El-Sayed Shaltout at Alexandria University, proved that one of Monsanto’s strains of genetically modified corn was substantially non-equivalent and toxic when compared to non-GMO corn varieties.

Yet another study from the Norwegian Centre for Biosafety, led by Thomas Bøhn, tested GMO and non-GMO soybeans and found they were significantly different on multiple counts.
Sirinathsinghji explains:
“Profiling technologies … allow the simultaneous measurement and comparison of thousands of plant components, in this case proteins, without prior knowledge of their identity. These methods are now being employed by independent scientists to provide a more thorough, unbiased and global profile of GM crop composition for risk assessment.”
With findings like these, there should be a substantial overhauling of our regulatory bodies – staring with ousting the ‘experts’ who told us GMO were safe.

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Natural Food Fight


SOURCE: Ken Taylor (taylork021@hawaii.rr.com)
SUBHEAD: Monsanto, Chemical Companies, Big Agriculture losing the GMO labeling fight.

By Ron Cummins on 17 April 2014 for Nation of Change -
(http://www.nationofchange.org/monsanto-and-big-food-losing-gmo-and-natural-food-fight-1397741911)


Image above: General Mills announced its popular Cheerios cereal will be certified as GMO free. Post Foods also declared that its Grape-Nuts cereal is verified as GMO free. Now the pressure is on Post cereals to announce a GMO free Rice Krispies. From (http://metrofarm.com/michael-olson/gmo-free-cheerios/).

After 20 years of battling Monsanto and corporate agribusiness, food and farm activists in Vermont, backed by a growing Movement across the country, are on the verge of a monumental victory—mandatory labels on genetically engineered foods and a ban on the routine industry practice of labeling GMO-tainted foods as “natural.”

On April 16, 2014, the Vermont Senate passed H.112 by a vote of 28-2, following up on the passage of a similar bill in the Vermont House last year. The legislation, which requires all GMO foods sold in Vermont to be labeled by July 1, 2016, will now pass through a House/Senate conference committee before landing on Governor Peter Shumlin’s desk, for final approval.

Strictly speaking, Vermont’s H.112 applies only to Vermont. But it will have the same impact on the marketplace as a federal law. Because national food and beverage companies and supermarkets will not likely risk the ire of their customers by admitting that many of the foods and brands they are selling in Vermont are genetically [engineered, and deceptively labeled as “natural” or “all natural”;] while simultaneously trying to conceal this fact in the other 49 states and North American markets.

As a seed executive for Monsanto admitted 20 years ago, "If you put a label on genetically engineered food you might as well put a skull and crossbones on it."

Proof of this “skull and crossbones” effect is evident in the European Union, where mandatory labeling, in effect since 1997, has all but driven genetically engineered foods and crops off the market. The only significant remaining GMOs in Europe today are imported grains (corn, soy, canola, cotton seed) primarily from the U.S., Canada, Brazil, and Argentina.

These grains are used for animal feed, hidden from public view by the fact that meat, dairy and eggs derived from animals fed GMOs do not yet have to be labeled in the EU.

Given the imminent passage of the Vermont legislation and the growing strength of America’s anti-GMO and pro-organic Movement, the Gene Giants—Monsanto, Dow, DuPont, Bayer, BASF, and Syngenta—and the Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA), representing Big Food, find themselves in a difficult position.

Early polls indicate that Oregon voters will likely pass a ballot initiative on Nov. 4, 2014, to require mandatory labeling of GMOs in Oregon. Meanwhile, momentum for labeling continues to gather speed in other states as well.

Connecticut and Maine have already passed GMO labeling laws, but these laws contain “trigger” clauses, which prevent them from going into effect until other states mandate labeling as well. Vermont’s law does not contain a “trigger” clause. As soon as the governor signs it, it will have the force of law.

Divisions Between Big Food and the Gene Giants
Given what appears to be the inevitable victory of the consumer Right-to-know Movement, some of the U.S.’s largest food companies have quietly begun distancing themselves from Monsanto and the genetic engineering lobby. General Mills, Post Foods, Chipotle, Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s and others have begun to make changes in their supply chains in order to eliminate GMOs in some or all of their products. Several hundred companies have enrolled in the Non-GMO Project so they can credibly market their products as GMO-free.

At least 30 members (10 percent of the total membership) of the GMA who contributed money to defeat Proposition 37 in California in November 2012, have held back on making further contributions to stop labeling initiatives in other states. Among the apparent defectors in the GMA ranks are: Mars, Unilever, Smithfield, Heinz, Sara Lee, Dole, Wrigley, and Mead Johnson.  Under pressure from the Organic Consumers Association, Dr. Anthony Weil’s natural health and supplements company, Weil Lifestyle, pulled out of the GMA.

Meanwhile a number of the Gene Giants themselves, including Monsanto, appear to be slowly decreasing their investments in gene-spliced GMOs, while increasing their investments in more traditional, and less controversial, cross-breeding and hybrid seed sales.  Still, don’t expect the Gene Giants to give up on the GMO seeds and crops already in production, especially Roundup Ready and Bt-spliced crops, nor those in the pipeline such as 2,4-D “Agent Orange” and Dicamba-resistant corn and soybeans, GE rice, and “RNA interference” crops such as non-browning apples, and fast-growing genetically engineered trees.

America’s giant food companies and their chemical industry allies understand the threat posed by truthful labeling of GMOs, pesticides, antibiotics, growth promoters and toxic chemicals. They understand full well that the GMO monocrops and factory farms that dominate U.S. agriculture not only pose serious health and environmental hazards, but represent a significant public relations liability as well.

This is why the food and GE giants are threatening to sue Vermont and any other state that dares to pass a GMO labeling bill, even though industry lawyers have no doubt informed them that they are unlikely to win in federal court.

This is also why corporate agribusiness is supporting “Ag Gag” state laws making it a crime to photograph or film on factory farms. Why they’re lobbying for state laws that take away the rights of counties and local communities to regulate agricultural practices.

And why they’re supporting secret international trade agreements, such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership, and the Trans Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership that will, among other provisions, enable multinational corporations to sue and eliminate state and local laws on matters such as GMOs, food safety, and country of origin labeling.

The bottom line is this: Corporate America’s current “business-as-usual” strategies are incompatible with consumers’ right to know, and communities’ and states’ rights to legislate.

Coca-Cola, Pepsi, General Mills, Kellogg’s, Campbell’s, Safeway, Del Monte, Nestlé, Unilever, ConAgra, Wal-Mart, and every food manufacturer with GMO-tainted brands, understand they’re not going to be able to label their products as “produced with genetic engineering,” or drop the use of the term “natural” on GMO-tainted products, only in Vermont, while refusing to do so in other states and international markets.

This is why their powerful front group, the GMA, is frantically working in Washington, D.C. to lobby the FDA and the Congress to take away the right of states to require genetically engineered foods and food ingredients to be labeled, and to allow them to continue to label and advertise genetically engineered and chemically-laced foods as “natural” or “all natural.”

Industry’s Last Chance: Indentured Politicians 
Conspiring with the GMA, Monsanto’s minions from both the Republican and Democratic parties in Congress, led by the notorious Koch brothers mouthpiece, Rep. Mike Pompeo (R-Kan.),  introduced  in early April in the House a GMA-scripted bill to outlaw mandatory state GMO labels and allow the continued use of “natural” or “all natural” product labels on a wide range of Frankenfoods and beverages.

The GMA’s federal offensive to prop up the dangerous and evermore unpopular technology of transgenic foods comes on the heels of two high-profile ballot initiative battles in California (2012), and Washington State (2013), where GMA members were forced to spend almost $70 million to narrowly defeat GMO labeling forces. The 15 largest contributors to stop GMO labeling in California and Washington include the following GMA members:
(1) Monsanto: $13,487,350
(2) Dupont: $9,280,159
(3) Pepsico: $4,837,966
(4) Coca-Cola: $3,210,851
(5) Nestlé: $2,989,806
(6) Bayer CropScience: $2,591,654
(7) Dow Agrosciences: $2,591,654
(4) Kraft Foods (Mondolez International) $2,391,835
(8) BASF Plant Science: $2,500,000
(9) Kraft Foods (now in part Mondolez International) $2,391,835
(10) General Mills: $2,099,570
(11) ConAgra Foods: $2,004,951
(12) Syngenta: $2,000,000
(13) Kellogg's: $1,112,749
(14) Campbell Soup: $982,888
(15) Smucker Company: $904,977

The Fire Next Time
These “dirty tricks,” “dirty money” ballot initiative victories in California and Washington now ring hollow.  If Congress or the FDA, prompted by these same companies, dare to stomp on states’ rights to require GMO labels on GMO food, if they dare to repress the rights of millions of consumers to know whether or not their food is genetically engineered, they run the very real risk of detonating an even larger and more vociferous grassroots rebellion, including massive boycotts and a concerted effort to throw “Monsanto’s Minions” out of Congress.

The widespread furor last year over the so-called “Monsanto Protection Act,” surreptitiously appended to the Appropriations Bill, and then, after massive uproar, subsequently removed, is but a partial foreshadowing of the turmoil yet to come.

Likewise Congress or the FDA should think twice before legally sanctioning the patently outrageous practice of allowing companies to continue to label or advertise GMO or chemically tainted food as “natural” or “all natural.”

Given the fact that 80-90 percent of American consumers want genetically engineered foods to be labeled, as indicated by numerous polls over the last 10 years, and given the fact that it is obviously unethical and fraudulent to label or advertise GMO or heavily chemically processed foods as “natural,” even the FDA has so far declined to come to the rescue of Monsanto and Big Food.

In the face of 65 so far largely successful national class-action lawsuits against food companies accused of fraudulently labeling their GMO or chemically-laced brands as “natural, ”Big Food’s lawyers have asked the FDA to come to their aid. But so far, the FDA has declined to throw gasoline on the fire.

It’s clear why “profit at any cost” big business wants to keep consumers in the dark. They want to maximize their profits. The consumer, the environment, the climate be damned. But let’s review, for the record, why truthful food labeling is so important to us, the overwhelming majority of the people, and to future generations.

Here are three major, indeed life-or-death, issues that drive America’s new anti-GMO and pro-organic food Movement:

  1. There is mounting, and indeed alarming, scientific evidence that genetically engineered foods and crops, and the toxic pesticides, chemicals, and genetic constructs that accompany them, are hazardous. GMOs pose a mortal threat, not only to human and animal health, but also to the environment, biodiversity, the survival of small-scale family farms, and climate stability.

  2. Genetically engineered crops are the technological cornerstone and ideological rationale for our dominant, out-of-control system of industrial agriculture, factory farms, and highly processed junk food. America’s industrial food and farming system is literally destroying public health, the environment, soil fertility and climate stability. As we educate, boycott and mobilize, as we label and drive GMOs off the market, we simultaneously rip the mask off Big Food and chemical corporations, which will ultimately undermine industrial agriculture and speed up the “Great Transition” to a food and farming system that is organic, sustainable and climate stabilizing.
  3. Fraudulent “natural” labels confuse consumers and hold back the growth of true organic alternatives.Consumers are confused about the difference between conventional products marketed as "natural," or “all natural”and those nutritionally and environmentally superior products that are "certified organic." Recent polls indicate that many health and green-minded consumers remain confused about the qualitative difference between products labeled or advertised as "natural," versus those labeled as organic. Many believe that "natural" means "almost organic," or that a natural product is even better than organic. Thanks to growing consumer awareness, and four decades of hard work, the organic community has built up a $35-billion "certified organic" food and products sector that prohibits the use of genetic engineering, irradiation, toxic pesticides, sewage sludge and chemical fertilizers. As impressive as this $35-billion Organic Alternative is, it remains overshadowed by the $80 billion in annual spending by consumers on products marketed as "natural." Get rid of fraudulent “natural” labels on GMO and chemically tainted products, and organic sales will skyrocket.

With the passage of the Vermont GMO labeling law, after 20 years of struggle, it’s time to celebrate our common victory. But as we all know, the battle for a new food and farming system, and a sustainable future has just begun.

• Ronnie Cummins is founder and director of the Organic Consumers Association. Cummins is author of numerous articles and books, including "Genetically Engineered Food: A Self-Defense Guide for Consumers" (Second Revised Edition Marlowe & Company 2004).

See also: 

Ea O Ka Aina: Cheerios to go GMO free! 1/5/14
The Minneapolis-based company said Thursday that it has been manufacturing its original-flavor Cheerios without GMOs for the past several ...

Ea O Ka Aina: Non-GMO Grape Nuts announced 1/16/14
Post's move closely follows that of General Mills, which released non-GMO original Cheerios in early January....

Let the People Decide

SOURCE: Brad Parsons (kauaibrad@hotmail.com)
SUBHEAD: Should Agro-Chemical Operations be Proven Safe Prior to being used on Kauai?

By Staff on 18 April 2014 for Kauai Rising-
(http://islandbreath.blogspot.com/2014/04/let-people-decide.html)


Image above: Residents of Kauai display sign chastising Dow, DuPont and Syngenta for trying to overturn pesticide regulations designed to protect the island. From (http://gmosecrets.com/category/pesticides-poisoning-kauai-keiki-families/).

The NEXT STEP
Kauai Charter Amendment to Add Article 33

Let the People Decide:
Should Agro-Chemical Operations be Proven Safe Prior to being used on Kauai?

The Ohana:
Please add your voice to that of this growing coalition of people and organizations as we come together to place this Amendment on the ballot on November 4, 2014.
  • Friends of Navdanya (Vandana Shiva's U.S. Organization)
  • Kauai Alliance for Peace and Social Justice
  • Kauai Fresh Farms
  • Kauai Rising
  • Ohana O'Kauai
  • People for the Preservation of Kauai
  • Regenerations international Botanical Garden
  • Safe Meter Kauai
  • Shaka movement
  • Surfrider Foundation
  • Wai Koa Plantation
ACTION STEPS:
Sign the Petition to Place the Charter Amendment on the Ballot at the following locations:
  • Harvest Market in Hanalei
  • Magic Dragon Today and Art Supply Princeville
  • Kauai Mini Golf and Botanical Gardens Kilauea
  • Small Town Coffee in Kapaa
See updated petition gathering sites at: https://www.facebook.com/events/435175346627970/?ref=22
or contact one of the petition team captains below.
Join one of the Petition gathering Teams around the island by contacting a team captain:
  • Lora Lynne 826-6513 (Northside)
  • Elaine 651-7531 (Kapaa-Moloa'a)
  • Rich 822-0930 (Wailua - Lihue)
  • Siri 634-5514 (Eastside)
  • Janee 652-2526 (Southside)
  • Klayton 652-2425 (Westside)
  • Sandy 320-3878 (Eastside)
To stay updated on events and information add your email address to our contact list by sending an email to:
THE PROCESS:
To place a Charter Amendment on the ballot requires the gathering of 3,000 signatures of Kauai registered voters by the middle of May of 2014 (five thousand signatures or more would create a wonderful momentum as we move toward the November 4th, 2014 election date.)

Placing the Amendment on the ballot allows the people to directly vote in November on whether or not they want to see the Amendment passed. Once passed the Amendment cannot be repealed by the County Council, nor can it be vetoed by the Mayor. It lets the people decide.

To pass the Amendment in the November election requires that a simple majority of the voters who turn out, vote to pass the Amendment.

THE CONTENT:
The Charter Amendment is designed to insure the health and well being of Kauai and its people by requiring that the AgroChemical Businesses on Kauai prove that their operations here are safe prior to implementing them.

View the entire Charter Amendment at www.kauairising.org

MAHALO
As we watch the events of the world we recognize that we are at a tipping point for so many choices facing our world at this time. None is more important in affecting the health and well being of our world and our people than this issue of GMOs, especially here on Kauai, Ground Zero for their GMO research and testing activities.

At this time, more than ever, your voice makes a difference and amplifies the effectiveness of our community's ability to achieve its vision of a healthy, abundant island home for everyone. Mahalo for all that you do bring this vision into manifestation. Your voice really matters!

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USA an Elitist Oligarchy

SUBHEAD: Political scientists show that average American has “near-zero” influence on policy outcomes.

By Jerome Roos on 17 April 2014 for Roar Magazine -
(http://roarmag.org/2014/04/gilens-page-us-oligarchy-elite/)


Image above: CEO's Lloyd Blankfein (Goldman Sachs) and Jamie Dimon (JP Morgan Chase) and thirteen other bankers meet at White House with Oabama 2/27/09. From (http://www.zimbio.com/pictures/PFK_3GKtWNb/Obama+Meets+Heads+Major+Banks+White+House/vVu7Lgk1-rP/Jamie+Dimon).

Political scientists show that average American has “near-zero” influence on policy outcomes, but their groundbreaking study is not without problems.


It’s not every day that an academic article in the arcane world of American political science makes headlines around the world, but then again, these aren’t normal days either. On Wednesday, various mainstream media outlets — including even the conservative British daily The Telegraph — ran a series of articles with essentially the same title: “Study finds that US is an oligarchy.” Or, as the Washington Post summed up
“Rich people rule!” The paper, according to the review in the Post, “should reshape how we think about American democracy.”
The conclusion sounds like it could have come straight out of a general assembly or drum circle at Zuccotti Park, but the authors of the paper in question — two Professors of Politics at Princeton and Northwestern University — aren’t quite of the radical dreadlocked variety. No, like Piketty’s book, this article is real “science”. 

It’s even got numbers in it! Martin Gilens of Princeton and Benjamin Page of Northwestern University took a dataset of 1,779 policy issues, ran a bunch of regressions, and basically found that the United States is not a democracy after all:
Multivariate analysis indicates that economic elites and organized groups representing business interests have substantial independent impacts on U.S. government policy, while average citizens and mass-based interest groups have little or no independent influence. The results provide substantial support for theories of Economic Elite Domination and for theories of Biased Pluralism, but not for theories of Majoritarian Electoral Democracy or Majoritarian Pluralism.
The findings, of course, are both very interesting and very obvious. What Gilens and Page claim to have empirically demonstrated is that policy outcomes by and large favor the interests of business and the wealthiest segment of the population, while the preferences of the vast majority of Americans are of little to no consequence for policy outcomes. 

As the authors show, this new data backs up the conclusions of a number of long-forgotten studies from the 1950s and 1960s — not least the landmark contributions by C.W. Mills and Ralph Miliband — that tried to debunk the assertion of mainstream pluralist scholars that no single interest group dominates US policymaking.
 
But while Gilens and Page’s study will undoubtedly be considered a milestone in the study of business power, there’s also a risk in focusing too narrowly on the elites and their interest groups themselves; namely the risk of losing sight of the broader set of social relations and institutional arrangements in which they are embedded. 

What I am referring to, of course, is the dreaded C-word: capitalism — a term that appears only once in the main body of Gilens and Page’s text, in a superficial reference to The Communist Manifesto, whose claims are quickly dismissed as empirically untestable. 

How can you talk about oligarchy and economic elites without talking about capitalism?
What’s missing from the analysis is therefore precisely what was missing from C.W. Mills’ and Miliband’s studies: an account of the nature of the capitalist state as such. 

By branding the US political system an “oligarchy”, the authors conveniently sidestep an even thornier question: what if oligarchy, as opposed to democracy, is actually the natural political form in capitalist society? 

What if the capitalist state is by its very definition an oligarchic form of domination? If that’s the case, the authors have merely proved the obvious: that the United States is a thoroughly capitalist society. Congratulations for figuring that one out! They should have just called a spade a spade.

That, of course, wouldn’t have raised many eyebrows. But it’s worth noting that this was precisely the critique that Nicos Poulantzas leveled at Ralph Miliband in the New Left Review in the early 1970s — and it doesn’t take an Althusserian structuralist to see that he had a point. 

Miliband’s study of capitalist elites, Poulantzas showed, was very useful for debunking pluralist illusions about the democratic nature of US politics, but by focusing narrowly on elite preferences and the “instrumental” use of political and economic resources to influence policy, Miliband’s empiricism ceded way too much methodological ground to “bourgeois” political science. 

By trying to painstakingly prove the existence of a causal relationship between instrumental elite behavior and policy outcomes, Miliband ended up missing the bigger picture: the class-bias inherent in the capitalist state itself, irrespective of who occupies it.

These methodological and theoretical limitations have consequences that extend far beyond the academic debate: at the end of the day, these are political questions. The way we perceive business power and define the capitalist state will inevitably have serious implications for our political strategies. The danger with empirical studies that narrowly emphasize the role of elites at the expense of the deeper structural sources of capitalist power is that they will end up reinforcing the illusion that simply replacing the elites and “taking money out of politics” would be sufficient to restore democracy to its past glory. 

That, of course, would be profoundly misleading. If we are serious about unseating the oligarchs from power, let’s make sure not to get carried away by the numbers and not to lose sight of the bigger picture.

• Jerome Roos is a PhD candidate in International Political Economy at the European University Institute, and founding editor of ROAR Magazine.

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The End of Employment

SUBHEAD: In nonindustrial societies  individuals consume or barter the product of their own labor.

By John Michael Greer on 16 April 2014 for the Archdruid Report-
(http://thearchdruidreport.blogspot.com/2014/04/the-end-of-employment.html)


Image above: Etchinjg of man bartering with shop keeper. From (http://www.gizmag.com/bitcoin-currency-money-economy-mature/30863/).

Nothing is easier, as the Long Descent begins to pick up speed around us, than giving in to despair—and nothing is more pointless. Those of us who are alive today are faced with the hugely demanding task of coping with the consequences of industrial civilization’s decline and fall, and saving as many as possible of the best achievements of the last few centuries so that they can cushion the descent and enrich the human societies of the far future.  That won’t be easy; so?  

 The same challenge has been faced many times before, and quite often it’s been faced with relative success.

The circumstances of the present case are in some ways more difficult than past equivalents, to be sure, but the tools and the knowledge base available to cope with them are almost incomparably greater. All in all, factoring in the greater challenges and the greater resources, it’s probably fair to suggest that the challenge of our time is about on a par with other eras of decline and fall. 

The only question that still remains to be settled is how many of the people who are awake to the imminence of crisis will rise to the challenge, and how many will fail to do so.

The suicide of peak oil writer Mike Ruppert two days ago puts a bit of additional emphasis on that last point. I never met Ruppert, though we corresponded back in the days when his “From The Wilderness” website was one of the few places on the internet that paid any attention at all to peak oil, and I don’t claim to know what personal demons drove him to put a bullet through his brain.

Over the last eight years, though, as the project of this blog has brought me into contact with more and more people who are grappling with the predicament of our time, I’ve met a great many people whose plans for dealing with a postpeak world amount to much the same thing.  Some of them are quite forthright about it, which at least has the virtue of honesty.  

 Rather more of them conceal the starkness of that choice behind a variety of convenient evasions, the insistence that we’re all going to die soon anyway being far and away the most popular of these just now.

I admit to a certain macabre curiosity about how that will play out in the years ahead.

I’ve suspected for a while now, for example, that the baby boomers will manage one final mediagenic fad on the way out, and the generation that marked its childhood with coonskin caps and hula hoops and its puberty with love beads and Beatlemania will finish with a fad for suicide parties, in which attendees reminisce to the sound of the tunes they loved in high school, then wash down pills with vodka and help each other tie plastic bags over their heads.

Still, I wonder how many people will have second thoughts once every other option has gone whistling down the wind, and fling themselves into an assortment of futile attempts to have their cake when they’ve already eaten it right down to the bare plate. We may see some truly bizarre religious movements, and some truly destructive political ones, before those who go around today insisting that they don’t want to live in a deindustrial world finally get their wish.

There are, of course, plenty of other options. The best choice for most of us, as I’ve noted here in previous posts, follows a strategy I’ve described wryly as “collapse first and avoid the rush:”  getting ahead of the curve of decline, in other words, and downshifting to a much less extravagant lifestyle while there’s still time to pick up the skills and tools needed to do it competently.

Despite the strident insistence from defenders of the status quo that anything less than business as usual amounts to heading straight back to the caves, it’s entirely possible to have a decent and tolerably comfortable life on a tiny fraction of the energy and resource base that middle class Americans think they can’t possibly do without.

Mind you, you have to know how to do it, and that’s not the sort of knowledge you can pick up from a manual, which is why it’s crucial to start now and get through the learning curve while you still have the income and the resources to cushion the impact of the inevitable mistakes.

This is more or less what I’ve been saying for eight years now. The difficulty at this stage in the process, though, is that a growing number of Americans are running out of time. I don’t think it’s escaped the notice of many people in this country that despite all the cheerleading from government officials, despite all the reassurances from dignified and clueless economists, despite all those reams of doctored statistics gobbled down whole by the watchdogs-turned-lapdogs of the media and spewed forth undigested onto the evening news, the US economy is not getting better.  

Outside a few privileged sectors, times are hard and getting harder; more and more Americans are slipping into the bleak category of the long-term unemployed, and a great many of those who can still find employment work at part-time positions for sweatshop wages with no benefits at all.

Despite all the same cheerleading, reassurances, and doctored statistics, furthermore, the US economy is not going to get better: not for more than brief intervals by any measure, and not at all if “better”  means returning to some equivalent of America’s late 20th century boomtime.

Those days are over, and they will not return. That harsh reality is having an immediate impact on some of my readers already, and that impact will only spread as time goes on. For those who have already been caught by the economic downdrafts, it’s arguably too late to collapse first and avoid the rush; willy-nilly, they’re already collapsing as fast as they can, and the rush is picking up speed around them as we speak.

For those who aren’t yet in that situation, the need to make changes while there’s still time to do so is paramount, and a significant number of my readers seem to be aware of this.

One measure of that is the number of requests for personal advice I field, which has gone up steeply in recent months. Those requests cover a pretty fair selection of the whole gamut of human situations in a failing civilization, but one question has been coming up more and more often of late: the question of what jobs might be likely to provide steady employment as the industrial economy comes apart.

That’s a point I’ve been mulling over of late, since its implications intersect the whole tangled web in which our economy and society is snared just now. In particular, it assumes that the current way of bringing work together with workers, and turning the potentials of human mind and muscle toward the production of goods and services, is likely to remain in place for the time being, and it’s becoming increasingly clear to me that this won’t be the case.

It’s important to be clear on exactly what’s being discussed here.

Human beings have always had to produce goods and services to stay alive and keep their families and communities going; that’s not going to change. In nonindustrial societies, though, most work is performed by individuals who consume the product of their own labor, and most of the rest is sold or bartered directly by the people who produce it to the people who consume it. What sets the industrial world apart is that a third party, the employer, inserts himself into this process, hiring people to produce goods and services and then selling those goods and services to buyers. 

That’s employment, in the modern sense of the word; most people think of getting hired by an employer, for a fixed salary or wage, to produce goods and services that the employer then sells to someone else, as the normal and natural state of affairs—but it’s a state of affairs that is already beginning to break down around us, because the surpluses that make that kind of employment economically viable are going away.

Let’s begin with the big picture. In any human society, whether it’s a tribe of hunter-gatherers, an industrial nation-state, or anything else, people apply energy to raw materials to produce goods and services; this is what we mean by the word “economy.” The goods and services that any economy can produce are strictly limited by the energy sources and raw materials that it can access.

A principle that ecologists call Liebig’s law of the minimum is relevant here: the amount of anything  that a given species or ecosystem can produce in a given place and time is limited by whichever resource is in shortest supply.

Most people get that when thinking about the nonhuman world; it makes sense that plants can’t use extra sunlight to make up for a shortage of water, and that you can’t treat soil deficient in phosphates by adding extra nitrates. It’s when you apply this same logic to human societies that the mental gears jam up, because we’ve been told so often that one resource can always be substituted for another that most people believe it without a second thought.

What’s going on here, though, is considerably more subtle than current jargon reflects.

Examine most of the cases of resource substitution that find their way into economics textbooks, and you’ll find that what’s happened is that a process of resource extraction that uses less energy on a scarcer material has been replaced by another process that takes more energy but uses more abundant materials.

The shift from high-quality iron ores to low-grade taconite that reshaped the iron industry in the 20th century, for example, was possible because ever-increasing amounts of highly concentrated energy could be put into the smelting process without making the resulting iron too expensive for the market.

The point made by this and comparable examples is applicable across the board to what I’ve termed technic societies, that subset of human societies—ours is the first, though probably not the last—in which a large fraction of total energy per capita comes from nonbiological sources and is put to work by way of  machines rather than human or animal muscles.  Far more often than not, in such societies, concentrated energy is the limiting resource.

Given an abundant enough supply of concentrated energy at a low enough price, it would be possible to supply a technic society with raw materials by extracting dissolved minerals from seawater or chewing up ordinary rock to get a part per million or so of this or that useful element. Lacking that—and there are good reasons to think that human societies will always be lacking that—access to concentrated energy is where Liebig’s law bites down hard.

Another way to make this same point is to think of how much of any given product a single worker can make in a day using a set of good hand tools, and comparing that to the quantity of the same thing that the same worker could make using the successive generations of factory equipment, from the steam-driven and belt-fed power tools of the late 19th century straight through to the computerized milling machines and assembly-line robots of today.

The difference can be expressed most clearly as a matter of the amount of energy being applied directly and indirectly to the manufacturing process—not merely the energy driving the tools through the manufacturing process, but the energy that goes into  manufacturing and maintaining the tools, supporting the infrastructure needed for manufacture and maintenance, and so on through the whole system involved in the manufacturing process.

Maverick economist E.F. Schumacher, whose work has been discussed in this blog many times already, pointed out that the cost per worker of equipping a workplace is one of the many crucial factors that  mainstream economic thought invariably neglects.

That cost is usually expressed in financial terms, but underlying the abstract tokens we call money is a real cost in energy, expressed in terms of the goods and services that have to be consumed in the process of equipping and maintaining the workplace. If you have energy to spare, that’s not a problem; if you don’t, on the other hand, you’re actually better off using a less complex technology—what Schumacher called “intermediate technology” and the movement in which I studied green wizardry thirty years ago called “appropriate technology.”

The cost per worker of equipping a workplace, in turn, also has a political dimension—a point that Schumacher did not neglect, though nearly all other economists pretend that it doesn’t exist.

The more costly it is to equip a workplace, the more certain it is that workers won’t be able to set themselves up in business, and the more control the very rich will then have over economic production and the supply of jobs.

As Joseph Tainter pointed out in The Collapse of Complex Societies, social complexity correlates precisely with social hierarchy; one of the functions of complexity, in the workplace as elsewhere, is thus to maintain existing social pecking orders.

Schumacher’s arguments, though, focused on the Third World nations of his own time, which had very little manufacturing capacity at all—most of them, remember, had been colonies of European empires, assigned the role of producing raw materials and buying finished products from the imperial center as part of the wealth pump that drove them into grinding poverty while keeping their imperial overlords rich.

He focused on advising client nations on how to build their own economies and extract themselves from the political grip of their former overlords, who were usually all too eager to import high-tech factories which their upper classes inevitably controlled. The situation is considerably more challenging when  your economy is geared to immense surpluses of concentrated energy, and the supply of energy begins to run short—and of course that’s the situation we’re in today.

Even if it were just a matter of replacing factory equipment, that would be a huge challenge, because all those expensive machines—not to mention the infrastructure that manufactures them, maintains them, supplies them, and integrates their products into the wider economy—count as sunk costs, subject to what social psychologists call the “Concorde fallacy,” the conviction that it’s less wasteful to keep on throwing money into a failing project than to cut your losses and do something else.

The real problem is that it’s not just factory equipment; the entire economy has been structured from the ground up to use colossal amounts of highly concentrated energy, and everything that’s been invested in that economy since the beginning of the modern era thus counts as a sunk cost to one degree or another.

What makes this even more challenging is that very few people in the modern industrial world actually produce goods and services for consumers, much less for themselves, by applying energy to raw materials. The vast majority of today’s employees, and in particular all those who have the wealth and influence that come with high social status, don’t do this. 

Executives, brokers, bankers, consultants, analysts, salespeople - well, I could go on for pages: the whole range of what used to be called white-collar jobs exists to support the production of goods and services by the working joes and janes managing all the energy-intensive machinery down there on the shop floor. So does the entire vast maze of the financial industry, and so do the legions of government bureaucrats—local, state, and federal—who manage, regulate, or oversee one or another aspect of economic activity.

All these people are understandably just as interested in keeping their jobs as the working joes and janes down there on the shop floor, and yet the energy surpluses that made it economically viable to perch such an immensely complex infrastructure on top of the production of goods and services for consumers are going away.

The result is a frantic struggle on everyone’s part to make sure that the other guy loses his job first. It’s a struggle that all of them will ultimately lose—as the energy surplus needed to support it dwindles away, so will the entire system that’s perched on that high but precarious support—and so, as long as that system remains in place, getting hired by an employer, paid a regular wage or salary, and given work and a workplace to produce goods and services that the employer then sells to someone else, is going to become increasingly rare and increasingly unrewarding. 

That transformation is already well under way. Nobody I know personally who works for an employer in the sense I’ve just outlined is prospering in today’s American economy.  Most of the people I know who are employees in the usual sense of the word are having their benefits slashed, their working conditions worsened, their hours cut, and their pay reduced by one maneuver or another, and the threat of being laid off is constantly hovering over their heads. 

The few exceptions are treading water and hoping to escape the same fate. None of this is accidental, and none of it is merely the result of greed on the part of the very rich, though admittedly the culture of executive kleptocracy at the upper end of the American social pyramid is making things a good deal worse than they might otherwise be.

The people I know who are prospering right now are those who produce goods and services for their own use, and provide goods and services directly to other people, without having an employer to provide them with work, a workplace, and a regular wage or salary. Some of these people have to stay under the radar screen of the current legal and regulatory system, since the people who work in that system are trying to preserve their own jobs by making life difficult for those who try to do without their services.

Others can do things more openly. All of them have sidestepped as many as possible of the infrastructure services that are supposed to be part of an employee’s working life—for example, they aren’t getting trained at universities, since the US academic industry these days is just another predatory business sector trying to keep itself afloat by running others into the ground, and they aren’t going to banks for working capital for much the same reason.

They’re using their own labor, their own wits, and their own personal connections with potential customers, to find a niche in which they can earn the money (or barter for the goods) they need or want.

I’d like to suggest that this is the wave of the future—not least because this is how economic life normally operates in nonindustrial societies, where the vast majority of people in the workforce are directly engaged in the production of goods and services for themselves and their own customers. 

The surplus that supports all those people in management, finance, and so on is a luxury that nonindustrial societies don’t have. In the most pragmatic of economic senses, collapsing now and avoiding the rush involves getting out of a dying model of economics before it drags you down, and finding your footing in the emerging informal economy while there’s still time to get past the worst of the learning curve.

Playing by the rules of a dying economy, that is, is not a strategy with a high success rate or a long shelf life. Those of my readers who are still employed in the usual sense of the term may choose to hold onto that increasingly rare status, but it’s not wise for them to assume that such arrangements will last indefinitely; using the available money and other resources to get training, tools, and skills for some other way of getting by would probably be a wise strategy.

Those of my readers who have already fallen through the widening cracks of the employment economy will have a harder row to hoe in many cases; for them, the crucial requirement is getting access to food, shelter, and other necessities while figuring out what to do next and getting through any learning curve that might be required.

All these are challenges; still, like the broader challenge of coping with the decline and fall of a civilization, they are challenges that countless other people have met in other places and times.

Those who are willing to set aside currently popular fantasies of entitlement and the fashionable pleasures of despair will likely be in a position to do the same thing this time around, too.
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Crony Capitalism

SUBHEAD: The essence of crony-capitalism is the merger of state and corporate power - That's the definition of fascism.

By Charles Hugh Smith on 16 April 2014 for Of Two Minds -
(http://www.oftwominds.com/blogapr14/crony-tax4-14.html)


Image above: The Shanghai government has banned the use of taxi-booking apps such as Kuaidi Dache during rush hour. Here, a Shanghai resident displays the app on his smartphone From (http://news.wfsu.org/post/what-ban-taxi-apps-shanghai-says-about-chinas-economy).

What's the Difference Between Fascism, Communism and Crony-Capitalism? Nothing!

When it comes to the real world, the difference between fascism, communism and crony-capitalism is semantic. Let's start with everyone's favorite hot-word, fascism, which Italian dictator Benito Mussolini defined as "the merger of state and corporate power." In other words, the state and corporate cartels are one system.

Real-world communism, for example as practiced in the People's Republic of China, boils down to protecting a thoroughly corrupt elite and state-owned enterprises (SOEs). The state prohibits anything that threatens the profits (and bribes) of SOEs--for example, taxi-apps that enable consumers to bypass the SOE cab companies.

What A Ban On Taxi Apps In Shanghai Says About China's Economy
The Chinese mega-city of Shanghai has been cracking down on popular taxi-booking apps, banning their use during rush hour. Until the apps came along, the taxi companies, which are government owned, set the real price for fares and collected about 33 cents each time someone called for a cab. That can add up in a city the size of Shanghai. Wang says the apps bypassed the old system and cut into company revenues.

Much has been made of China's embrace of capitalism, but — along with transportation — the government still dominates key sectors, including energy, telecommunications and banking. Wang says vested government interests won't give them up easily.

How else to describe this other than the merger of state and corporate power? Any company the state doesn't own operates at the whim of the state.

Now let's turn to the crony-capitalist model of the U.S., Japan, the European Union and various kleptocracies around the globe. For PR purposes, the economies of these nations claim to be capitalist, as in free-market capitalism.

Nothing could be further from the truth: these economies are crony-capitalist systems that protect and enrich elites, insiders and vested interests who the state shields from competition and the law.

The essence of crony-capitalism is of course the merger of state and corporate power. There are two sets of laws, one for the non-elites and one for cronies, and two kinds of capitalism: the free-market variety for small businesses that are unprotected by the state and the crony variety for corporations, cartels and state fiefdoms protected by the state.

Since crony-capitalism is set up to benefit parasitic politicos and their private-sector cartel benefactors, reform is impossible. Even the most obviously beneficial variety of reform--for example, simplifying the 4 million-word U.S. tax code--is politically impossible, regardless of who wins the electoral equivalent of a game show (i.e. Demopublicans vs. Republicrats).

The annual cost of navigating the tax code comes to about $170 billion:
Since 2001, Congress has enacted about one new change to the tax law per day. Pathetic, isn’t it? This tax code is a burden and a fiasco and deeply unpatriotic. As Olson’s Taxpayer Advocate Service notes, this code helps tax evaders; hurts ordinary, honest taxpayers; and corrodes trust in our system.

Here's why the tax code will never be simplified: tax breaks are what the parastic politicos auction off to their crony-capitalist benefactors. Simplify the tax code and you take away the the intrinsically corrupt politicos' primary source of revenue: accepting enormous bribes in exchange for tax breaks for the super-wealthy.

You would also eliminate the livelihood of an entire industry that feeds off the complexities of the tax code. Tax attorneys don't just vote--they constitute a powerful lobby for the Status Quo, even if that Status Quo is rigged, unjust, wasteful, absurd, etc.

It's not that hard to design a simple and fair tax code. Setting aside the thousands of quibbles that benefit one industry or another, it's clear that a consumption-based tax is easier to collect and it promotes production rather than consumption: two good things.

As for a consumption tax being regressive, i.e. punishing low-income households, the solution is very straightforward: exempt real-food groceries (but not snacks, packaged or prepared foods such as fast-food), rent, utilities and local public transportation--the major expenses of low-income households.

  1. A 10% consumption tax on everything else would raise about $1.1 trillion, or almost 2/3 of total income tax revenues, not counting payroll taxes (15.3% of all payroll/earned income up to around $113,000 annually, paid half-half by employees and employers), which generate about one-third of all Federal tax revenues and fund the majority of Social Security and a chunk of Medicare.

    As for the claim that a 10% consumption tax would kill business--the typical sales tax in California is 9+%, and that hasn't wiped out consumption.
  2. The balance could be raised by a progressive tax on unearned income, collected at the source. Most of the income of the super-wealthy is unearned, i.e. dividends, investment income, interest, capital gains, stock options, etc.

    As a result, a tax on unearned income (above, say, $10,000 annually to enable non-wealthy households to accrue some tax-free investment income) will be a tax on the super-wealthy who collect the vast majority of dividends, interest, capital gains and investment income.

A rough estimate would be 20% of all unearned income.

This would "tax the rich" while leaving all earned income untaxed, other than the payroll tax, which is based on the idea that everyone should pay into a system that secures the income of all workers. This would incentivize productive labor and de-incentivize speculation, rentier skimming, etc.

The corporate tax would be eliminated for several reasons:
  1.  It is heavily gamed, rewarding the scammers and punishing the honest.
  2. All income from enterprises is eventually distributed to individuals, who would pay the tax on all unearned investment income.

But such common-sense reform is politically impossible. That's why the answer to the question, what's the the difference between fascism, communism and crony-capitalism is nothing.

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All this and World War too

SUBHEAD: This crisis with the Russians over the Ukraine is turning into a Vietnam moment for the US political scene.

By James Kunstler on 14 April 2014 for Kunstler.com -
(http://kunstler.com/clusterfuck-nation/all-this-and-world-war-too/)


Image above: Armed pro-Russian activist insurgents guard the steps of a Ukrainian government building in Slovyansk on Monday, April 14, where masked men also seized control of a military airport. From (http://www.cbc.ca/news/world/ukraine-crisis-kyiv-asks-for-un-help-controlling-pro-russian-separatists-1.2609070).

The situation in Ukraine hotted up this weekend and threatens to blow this morning with the Kiev government affecting to send “anti-terrorist” troops into the eastern cities where ethnic Russians seized buildings. (In the olden times of Europe, they had witches and devils. Now, thanks to our example, they have “terrorists.”) 

While this impending civil war would be rather dire for Ukraine, it presents the obvious questions: 1) does it matter to anyone outside the region? And in particular, 2) is it any business of the USA?

War hawk kibitzers on the sidelines (e.g. The New York Times) are making a big deal of the 40,000 Russian troops marshaled around the border of eastern Ukraine. So what? That’s just a few thousand more than the 33,000 US troops deployed to Afghanistan, America’s current “nation-building” project. 

But the troop numbers swing to our side of the balance beam if you throw in the nearly 3,000 American boots-on-the-ground stationed in Kyrgyzstan, a former Soviet republic, and the roughly 15,000 in Kuwait and Bahrain. I don’t remember the Russians complaining very much about all this US military hyper-activity in their part of the world over the past decade.

At least somebody has stuffed a cheese Danish (or something) in John Kerry’s pie-hole the past week. The walking haircut-in-search-of-a-brain has stopped making ridiculous commitments to the US-and-EU-installed Kiev government. And President Obama has stopped drawing laugh-out-loud lines in the sand. I suspect if they resume beating that drum, they could provoke some unrest in our own country. 

Not everyone is glued to the Kardashian Channel with his fist in the Cheez Doodle bag. And not all of the army vets returned from operations in Muslim lands (the ones that haven’t committed suicide, that is) have such a high opinion of the overall outcome there.

Barack Obama, who I voted for twice, is on his way to becoming the worst US president in my lifetime, at least — and maybe in the whole cavalcade going back to the very start of the republic. 

I don’t want to get too sidetracked in this brief blog space today, but isn’t it stupendously asinine that Mr. Obama’s Justice Department and his SEC appointees only just last week became interested in the pervasive swindle of high frequency trading on Wall Street after author Michael Lewis went on 60 Minutes. 

Like, they hadn’t heard about this years-long orgy of front-running until now? Strange to relate, I actually might feel more comfortable if Vladimir Putin was massing troops on the Mexican side of the US border to keep Americans safe from our own bungling and destructive government.

Aren’t a number of things obvious about the Ukraine situation? Such as: the Russians have a greater interest in preventing chaos there than the US has in any provisional disposition of the Ukrainian border and the composition of its government. Such as: for most of the 20th century Ukraine was essentially a Russian province, and at various times before that the ward of several other eastern European kingdoms. 

Such as: Russia has a huge investment in gas pipeline infrastructure in Ukraine upon which depends a substantial portion of its national income, not to mention the winter-time comfort of most of the countries in western Europe.

Hence my plea: will parties in the USA (including Obama camp “progressives”) stop cheerleading for a showdown over this hapless doormat of a faraway nation whose destiny is not entwined with the people of Ohio, Nebraska, Rhode Island, or any of the other fifty states? We have enough to do in our own country to adjust to the new realities of the unraveling turbo-industrial global economy — and, by the way, we are not doing a damn thing to address any of it. 

Our domestic political conversation at all levels is juvenile and idiotic. I’d rather see US troops shut down WalMart, which has been way more destructive to the US economy (and the livelihoods of our people) than the bandits in any central Asian rat-hole. I’d rather see the US spend its dwindling capital restoring our passenger railroads than paying off the debts of strangers half a world away.

This is turning into a Vietnam moment for the US political scene. Where are the Fullbrights and Bobby Kennedys of today who have the guts to rally US citizens against insane government behavior? 

What elected officials among all the bought-off Koch Brother catamites and Wall Street errand boys will stand up for reality-based principle? When will the young people of this country pull their eyeballs away from their iPhones and their heads out of their cloacal vents? 

When will the United States begin the long-overdue task of getting its own act together?

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Rancher face-off with Feds

SUBHEAD: Federal Bureau of  Land Management brings out the dogs, guns and helicopters to face rancher.

By Mac Slavo on 10 April 2014 for SHTF Plan -
(http://www.shtfplan.com/headline-news/rancher-cliven-bundy-speaks-i-dont-recognize-them-having-any-jurisdiction-or-authority-over-this-land-video_04102014)


Image above: Rancher Cliven Bundy, 67, at his ranch home in Bunkerville, NV. His family has ranched on public land in Nevada for over a century. From (http://www.wesh.com/national-news/Feds-end-Nevada-cattle-roundup/25448592).

There are reports that up to 5,000 militia members are on their way to Nevada to stand with the Bundy family against massive government overreach. Earlier today Bundy family members and friends broke through the Federal blockade to rescue cattle stuck behind enemy lines.

The man at the center of the dispute, rancher Cliven Bundy, joins Infowars‘ David Knight and Steve Quayle for an exclusive interview to discuss developments at Bunkerville, Nevada where there are now at least 300 Federal law enforcement agents surrounding the Bundy ranch.

According to Cliven Bundy, what’s at issue is that the US government has no right to call the shots over the land, as dictated by the 10th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

Mr. Bundy also notes that he and those arriving in the area are prepared to do whatever it takes to maintain their sovereignty.
The first thing we need to make clear is – who owns this land? That’s really not clear. We have a federal judge that says the United States owns this land. We have the United States Constitution that says Nevada owns this land.

So this is where I’m at… Let’s talk about my grazing fee… who am I supposed to pay my grazing fee to? Constitutional sovereignty of Nevada that owns this land?
No. The one I get the grazing fee bill from is the United States government.

I don’t recognize them having any jurisdiction or authority over this land. 
I do not have a contract with the United States government.

…I urge you, read the Constitution. Those founding fathers laid out how we’re supposed to act. They have all the answers already laid out for us. Why don’t we live that Constitution and be happy in America?

I know what I’m going to do. I’m going to do whatever it takes. The public and the protesters here… I think are ready to do whatever it takes, too.

In other words, this thing’s not gonna’ get over tomorrow. We’re going to fight until we win this and get our public lands back.


Image above: BLM SUVs gather as helicopter with sniper take off in face off with Cliven Bundy and his supporters. From (http://rtfitchauthor.com/2014/04/10/loading-ferals-as-we-speak/).


Victory for Bundy & Citizen Militia
SUBHEAD: Federal agents flee Bunkerville citing “Safety Concerns”. Armed ctizen militia stands down.

By Mac Slavo on 12 April 2014 for SHTF Plan -
(http://www.shtfplan.com/headline-news/victory-for-citizen-militia-fedgov-pulls-out-of-nevada-serious-concern-about-the-safety-of-employees_04122014)


Image above: Cliven Bundy is guarded by Citizens Militia in Bunkerville NV on 4/12/14. From original article.

Following an early afternoon standoff with Bundy supporters and militia, the Bureau of Land Management is withdrawing federal agents from the area. There are reports of heavy traffic on I-15 as a result of a federal caravan of exiting agencies.

Bundy ranch cowboys and hands are standing by for the BLM to open the coral gates and release cattle rounded up during this week’s raid.

Communications to the area seem to have been restored. No shots have been fired.

The resolution at this time seems to be a peaceful one, despite earlier threats from federal agents that they would shoot into the crowd if they did not disperse.

A couple hundred years ago some domestic terrorists got together and penned a Bill of Rights for a fledgling nation. Within their founding document they included a provision designed specifically to protect its newly formed experiment from tyrannical rule by way of arming its inhabitants so as to provide a backstop for those who would attempt to supplant their natural rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

This morning we have a prime example of why the founding fathers found these steps necessary and how powerful their decree really is to ensuring the freedom of Americans.
A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.
Over the last two days thousands of supporters have made their way to Bunkerville, Nevada where hundreds Federal government agents had begun rounding up privately owned cattle from public lands and cordoning off protesters into remote desert First Amendment Areas.
What made this particular “protest” different from previous peaceful assemblies like Occupy Wall Street is that many of those who arrived in Bunkerville were members of citizen militias from around the country – and they were heavily armed.

In short, this time around our overreaching Federal government was out manned and outgunned.
As reported by Infowars, the Bureau of Land Management and other Federal agencies have made the decision to pull their militarized assets out of the area.
A day after Infowars blew the lid on Sen. Harry Reid’s link to the BLM’s land grab of the Bundy Ranch, the Sheriff of Clark County, Nevada, Douglas Gillespie, announced to tremendous applause Saturday that the Bureau of Land Management would cease their efforts targeting cattle rancher Cliven Bundy.
In an emotional response, Bundy told the Sheriff he had one hour to disarm the federal agency and to bring the arms to the platform where speeches were made this morning, and to take down their barricades.


Image above: BLM releases Bundy cattle after supporters of Cliven Bundy take down BLM restriction signs and block Interstate I-15 on 4/12/14. From (http://www.reviewjournal.com/news/nevada/blm-releases-bundy-cattle-after-protesters-block-southbound-i-15).

According to a statement issued by the BLM, their primary reason for ceasing operations is because of safety concerns.
Based on information about conditions on the ground, and in consultation with law enforcement, we have made a decision to conclude the cattle gather because of our serious concern about the safety of employees and members of the public.”
“We ask that all parties in the area remain peaceful and law-abiding as the Bureau of Land Management and National Park Service work to end the operation in an orderly manner.
The “information on the ground” is that there are thousands of men and women standing by and that they were prepared to take action had it become necessary.

Though the government still maintains a court order for the rounding up of cattle, they have for the time being made the decision to walk away. This is not to say they won’t return in the future, but for today, the people are victorious.

Consider how these events would have played out had those who arrived to support the Bundy family not been armed; if they had simply showed up with protest signs and cell phones.

Rather than being tied up and pepper sprayed, the brave Americans who ventured to Bunkerville held their ground, 2nd Amendment in hand, and the government determined it was no longer in their best interests to pursue the matter.
A new day has dawned in America. One where the people see that real change can happen.
Activism really does work. This incident has proven that the Patriots and the militias are worthy adversaries.  We have proven the power of social media and alternative news in the fight against tyranny. (Daily Sheeple)
The events of Bunkerville, Nevada show that the government, which so badly wants to control every aspect of our lives, can be defeated and sent packing.

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Kauai Grassfed Dairy Fraud

SUBHEAD: Kauai County ignores requests of notable residents and okays dairy feedlot operation in  Mahaulepu.

By Chris D'Angelo on 13 April 2014 for the Garden Island News -  
(http://thegardenisland.com/news/local/county-dairy-farm-up-to-par/article_5bf0e6ec-c2d3-11e3-8990-0019bb2963f4.html)


Image above: A modern automated continuous rotary milking parlor on a dairy with 300 pedigree Holstein cows in Waterford, Ireland. The equipment in this plant includes Auto cow ID, milk recording, MP 580 Alpro herd management system as wellas  DeLaval in parlour (GMO corn) feeders and retention bars. There is also a computerised feed to yield system and the DSG3 drafting gates which make AI work, dosing, vaccination etc a cinch. From (http://www.thedairysite.com/articles/3689/how-will-ireland-prepare-for-2015-and-beyond).

The County of Kauai sees no reason to intervene with Hawaii Dairy Farms’ proposed $17.5 million, 582-acre dairy in Mahaulepu.

On Friday, County Engineer Larry Dill responded in writing to concerns voiced by a group of local biologists and residents. The group recently requested that the county step in and reconsider any decisions it has made or permit exemptions it has granted to HDF.

“While the County supports this effort to establish a dairy farm on Kauai, we share your concerns that the appropriate safeguards will be in place to protect the environment,” he wrote. “To date, we are satisfied that the respective agencies are exercising the appropriate regulatory oversight to meet that objective, and the county continues to monitor the project.”

One of many accusations in their letter to Dill was that HDF started construction at the dairy site without securing proper permits.

Kauai County Ordinance Sec. 22-7.6(e) provides that the permit requirements of the Grading, Grubbing and Stockpiling Ordinance shall not apply to agricultural operations, including ranching, “managed in accordance with soil conservation practices acceptable to the applicable soil and water conservation district directors, and in accordance with an actively pursued comprehensive conservation plan that has been exempted by the County Engineer,” Dill outlined in his response.
After submitting the appropriate documents, HDF received an Ag Exemption from the County on March 18.

“Additionally, on April 3, 2014, without having received a complaint but because of concerns that had been raised by the community, the (Department of Public Works) inspected the site,” Dill wrote. “DPW found that any grubbing or grading work that had been done by that time did not surpass the thresholds established by the Grading Ordinance.”

And while significant clearing had already occurred on the property, Dill said clearing is not an activity regulated by the grading ordinance.

Other accusations included in the group’s letter to Dill were that HDF understated rainfall records, thus indicating a lower risk of waste runoff than actually exists, incorrectly reported the site’s soil type and its ability to handle waste and nutrient loads, and failed to include hydrological or drainage studies which confirm drainage in the area runs directly to the ocean.

“We, the undersigned, believe that HDF has amply demonstrated their disregard for the environment, willingness to play fast and loose with their facts, such that they cannot be entrusted with so precious an area,” Koloa resident Bridget Hammerquist and 14 others wrote.

The group also questions HDF’s claim of sustainability.

“Although HDF refers to its proposal as a ‘sustainable dairy farm,’ they acknowledge that at least 30 (percent) of the feed for the herd will be imported and that percentage increased if the highly invasive non-native kikuyu grass is not sufficient,” they wrote. “Milk is also to be processed off island, hardly a ‘sustainable’ scenario.”

On Friday, Hammerquist described Dill’s response as “sad” and “scary.”

“How do you deal with the fact that there are so many holes in their plan?” she said. “We really are trying hard. We want to help. We don’t want to hurt. We don’t want to harass. We just want to ask those questions.”

Dill wrote that the county relies on the U.S. Department of Agriculture Natural Resource Conservation Service and the West Kauai Soil and Water Conservation District “as experts in agriculture to ensure that responsible farming methods are employed to protect the environment.”
“The WK SWCD, with technical support from the County, reviewed and approved the Conservation Plan prepared by HDF with assistance from the NRCS,” Dill wrote. “The WK SWCD continues to monitor the project.”

Additionally, HDF’s Comprehensive Nutrient Management Plan will be reviewed by the state Department of Health prior to the start of dairy operations, according to Dill.
In a written statement Friday, Mayor Bernard Carvalho Jr. said he has been briefed numerous times on the HDF operation and “strongly supports” the project.

“It is significant for the entire state as we work to reduce our dependency on imported food,” he said. “At the same time, I feel it is very important for the HDF team to address the concerns of the community and demonstrate that there are adequate environmental protections in place and that any negative impacts will be minimized or eliminated. As a community we have to work with our farmers and help create the solutions that will allow ag to flourish once again on Kauai.”




Groups sour on dairy farm

By Chris D'Angelo on 11 April 1014 for the Garden Island News -
(http://thegardenisland.com/news/local/group-sours-on-dairy/article_00f824c6-c152-11e3-ae2e-0019bb2963f4.html)
A group of biologists and local residents are calling for the County of Kauai to reconsider allowing Hawaii Dairy Farms (HDF) to move forward with its proposed $17.5 million, 582-acre dairy in Mahaulepu.

“We, the undersigned, believe that HDF has amply demonstrated their disregard for the environment, willingness to play fast and loose with their facts, such that they cannot be entrusted with so precious an area,” Koloa resident Bridget Hammerquist and 14 others wrote in an April 3 letter to Larry Dill, chief engineer of the county Public Works Department. The group says it is “imperative” that the county step in and reconsider any decisions it has made or exemptions it has granted to HDF.



[IB Editor's note: The letter referred to by TGI dated 3 April 2014 twas signed by lawyer Bridget Baynes Hammerquist as well as Carl Berg Ph.D. as Vice-chaor of the Kauai Surfrider's Foundation; Don Heacock the Kauai State Fisheries, Marine and Wildlife Biologist; and others. It said in part the following. See (http://www.islandbreath.org/2014Year/04/140413letterapril3.pdf)]
As detailed herein, the severity of the HDF ‘Plan’ errors and omissions should clearly invalidate any approval/exemption extended to HDF. They did not include the information they should have.  
They understated or underreported facts that were easily accessible and which, when disclosed, makes it clear that there will be significant environmental damage done to Maha’ulepu Valley and the protected wildlife that live there.  
Is it credible for HDF to now admit publically that they under-reported the rainfall in the area, failed to do drainage studies, failed to disclose the true soil type (not “free draining” as claimed), all of which significantly impacts the runoff and likely damage to the environment?  
Can HDF be allowed to now disclose the fact that their cows will deposit more than 20 tons of waste/acre/year (manure and urine)?  Should HDF be allowed to apologize for their misinformation and factual omissions, claiming that  “they’ll take care of everything,”  “they’ll be the safest operating dairy the island has ever had" or should the authorities reconsidered the suitability of the HDF dairy operation at this location?  Although HDF refers to its proposal as a ‘sustainable dairy farm,’ they acknowledge that at least 30% of the feed for the herd will be imported and that percentage increased if the highly invasive non-native kikuyu grass is not sufficient. Milk is also to be processed off island, hardly a ‘sustainable’ scenario. 
We, the undersigned, believe that HDF has amply demonstrated their disregard for the environment, willingness to play fast and loose with their facts, such that they cannot be entrusted with so precious an area.  As the following demonstrates, your reconsideration of a dairy operation, as HDF proposes, is clearly warranted.  For these reasons, we urge your reconsideration of the entire HDF project.


They accuse HDF of starting construction without securing proper state permits, understating rainfall records, thus indicating a lower risk of waste runoff than actually exists, incorrectly reporting the site’s soil type and its ability to handle waste and nutrient loads, and failing to include hydrological or drainage studies which confirm drainage in the area runs directly to the ocean.

“We need to act, before irreparable harm occurs,” states the letter.


[IB Editor's note: The Sierra Club of Hawaii Kauai Group Executive Committee wrote a letter on 4 April 2014 that was signed by Carl Imarato. There was some confusion on the part of TGI which letter they were talking about. Below is the text. See (http://www.islandbreath.org/2014Year/04/140413letterapril4.pdf)]

The Sierra Club Kauai Group supports the concerns that have been raised in the April 3, 2014 letter written by Bridget Hammerquist to you, and we request that the County take all possible actions to protect the health, safety and welfare of the county and its residents by thoroughly addressing those concerns and requiring the elimination and/or mitigation of any undesirable environmental impacts.

In addition, we request that Department of Public Works issue a cease-and-desist order for the grubbing and grading activities that are currently underway until Hawaii Dairy Farms resolves the inadequacies of its conservation plan and the West Kaua`i Soil & Water Conservation District board revisits and approves the plan.

We encourage the Public Works Department to recognize the public’s interest in this project and its concerns. We ask that you work with Hawai`i Dairy Farms/Ulupono Initiative to ensure that there will be no negative impacts to Kaua`i’s land and waters.    


 In an email Tuesday, county spokeswoman Beth Tokioka said Dill was “working on a response to the various questions posed in the letter.” However, Dill’s response had not been finalized by press time Thursday.
Amy Hennessey, HDF’s director of communications, said it was disheartening to hear that the group feels HDF is not doing what is right for the project and the community, and that the company never went outside of its permitting.

“We don’t want to do something that’s harmful,” she said. “Some of the assumptions that are made in this letter are based on just that — assumptions. They don’t have all of the information, so they’re extrapolating things from this to create a picture of inadequacy.”

Among the signatures on the six-page letter are Dr. Robert Zelkovsky and Dr. Carl Berg of the Surfrider Foundation Kauai Chapter and Don Heacock, a fisheries biologist with the state Department of Land and Natural Resources.

Berg said those who signed the letter support having a dairy farm, but not in Mahaulepu.
“It’s just the location, really,” he said. “If we didn’t have to worry about everything running into the ocean, Surfrider wouldn’t care.”

The group asserts that HDF has not been truthful with the community and is gambling with the environmental health of the land, coral reefs and the entire ecosystem, as well as the health of residents and visitors in and around Poipu.

Hennessey, however, said the idea that the dairy will lead to a flood of manure downhill and into the ocean is simply incorrect.

“Basically what they are saying is it’s like poop on a parking lot, and that’s not the case,” she said, adding that the nutrient-rich waste from the cows is essential to maintaining the amount of grass needed to feed the animals.

As for the group’s charge in the letter that HDF’s plan was never given a thorough review by the West Kauai Soil and Water Conservation District, Hennessey called it “perplexing.”

The group is also requesting that the WKSWCD reconsider its approval of HDF’s Conservation Management Plan and its accompanying Comprehensive Nutrient Management Plan.

“As detailed herein,” the letter reads, “ the severity of the HDF ‘Plan’ errors and omissions should clearly invalidate any approval/exemption extended to HDF. They did not include the information they should have. They understated or underreported facts that were easily accessible and which, when disclosed, makes it clear that there will be significant environmental damage done to Mahaulepu Valley and the protected wildlife that live there.”

“(The plan) is clearly deserving of a careful review, no matter how much money has already been invested in the area.”

Hennessey said it is important for the public to remember that the farm is not in operation, and that HDF is doing everything it can to be a good community partner and address concerns.

“It’s a work in progress,” she said.
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