Hooser Survey Report

SUBHEAD: From Kekaha to Haena, 21,000 voters asked their opinion in issues facing Kauai.

By Gary Hooser on 24 June 2016 in Island Breath -

Image above: Infrastructure and growth problems on Kauai. Jammed up traffic on the Kuhio Highway in Kapaa, is bumper to bumper and the only way in town. From (http://dakinetalk.blogspot.com/2015/02/imagine-james-kimo-rosen-solution-to.html).

From Haena to Kekaha, over 21,000 registered voters on Kauai were recently sent out a comprehensive “Important Kauai Issues Survey” and the results are fascinating.

Because there are so many issues and so many diverse people and opinion in our community I decided to reach out in a comprehensive effort to determine what the average Kauai resident actually feels and thinks about some of the important issues of the day.

I wanted to offer all Kauai registered voters from all parts of the community an equal opportunity to offer their thoughts and concerns.  The survey allowed anonymity providing all with the opportunity to speak freely and frankly about issues important to them.

So during the month of May I mailed a single page of questions directly to over 21,000 registered voter households on Kauai, representing every single voting household in our community.  Due to the scale of the effort a very small number of households reported not receiving a survey.  A limited limited on-line version was also offered for a very short period.

Nearly 1,000 registered voters responded to the direct mail effort yielding a 4.5% response rate.  Respondents were required to pay their own return postage and were allowed to be anonymous.  Responses came in from every single community from the far west to the far north.

The survey questions include topics dealing with growth, climate change, food sustainability, park maintenance, pesticide regulation, the dairy proposed on Kauai’s south shore, B&B regulations, farm tours, taxes, drug treatment and affordable housing.

Some of the key “takeaways”:
91% of Kauai residents favor limitations on growth tied to infrastructure.
58% favor allowing B&B’s on all parts of the island.
74% believe the visitor industry is not paying its fair share.
91% favor allowing small farms to conduct “farm tours” to supplement their income.
81% of respondents support the increased regulation of pesticides.
75% are opposed to the dairy proposed for Kauai’s south side.
Other questions involving parks maintenance, climate change, food self sufficiency and traffic are also included.

Complete survey detail and a tabulation of the results is available at (http://garyhooser.com/kauai-issue-survey/) and the raw data is available for review by any student group or community organization that would like to conduct further analysis.

The survey was paid for by my campaign organization Friends of Gary Hooser. I am available and would love to speak with any group who wish to delve deeper into the issues raised and/or develop policy initiatives reflecting the community consensus expressed by the survey.

• Gary Hooser is a longtime member of the Kauai County Council and is supported in his bid for reelection by IslandBreath.org

Don't expand Papahanaumokuakea

SOURCE: Lynn McNut (zensea1@gmail.com)
SUBHEAD: Marine conservation is being used to justify a new wave of foreign intervention across the Pacific.

By Peter Apo on 24 June 20016 fir Civil Beat -

Image above: This map shows the proposed expansion of Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument. Click to enlarge. From original article.

President Obama is considering a request to more than quadruple the size of the Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands to 580,000 square miles – an area as large as the states of Texas, California and Montana.

If Obama takes this step, the federal government essentially would assert control over hundreds of thousands of miles of ocean around Hawaii with no public discussion.

According to the Antiquities Act of 1906, the trigger to designate an area as a national monument is simply the president’s signature. No discussion required — not by Congress, not by state government and not by citizens who rely on the targeted geo-cultural area.

What’s The Antiquities Act?
The original intent of the Antiquities Act was to give the president the authority to quickly protect certain Native American archeological sites, structures and artifacts from looting, by declaring an area within designated boundaries to be a national monument. Such a declaration gives the president authority to impose a wide range of federal restrictions on access to the area and its resources.

The act served an important purpose in the 1900s. But since then, a whole body of congressionally generated laws has evolved to protect and manage such areas and objects. These newer laws render the act antiquated when it is applied in some situations.

The historical record suggests that, over the years, the Antiquities Act and national monument designations have been abused by presidents from both parties to place arbitrary restrictions on land use, reduce economic opportunity and strictly limit access to such designated areas – all without input from Congress, the impacted states or the affected citizens.

I would note the difference between national monuments and national parks is that the latter require congressional approval.

I also note that while the act directs the president to limit the designation to the “smallest area compatible with proper care and management of what is to be protected,” presidents have used their own discretion in determining the size and levels of protection.

A subject that warrants mention here but requires more inquiry is how the Antiquities Act, seemingly intended for presidential proclamations of
land-based national monument status, somehow got transferred to the ocean environment.

The Big Picture
The push to expand the Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument is part of a larger global strategy to bring millions of square miles of the world’s oceans under a common umbrella of environmental protective governance that would designate vast expanses as marine sanctuaries, monuments or conservation areas.

The intent of such a sweeping global objective seems noble, given global warming and the degradation of the ocean environment. No doubt we need to manage our ocean resources better. But the zealousness with 
which a loose global coalition of ultra-conservative scientists and marine environmentalists are pushing to create new marine conservation areas is imposing draconian restrictions on human access to vast expanses of the ocean.

These restrictions work by installing a gatekeeper permit application process subject to a blanket of government regulations, some of which don’t make sense.

For instance, in Hawaii’s Papahanaumokuakea National Marine Monument, Native;Hawaiians can practice subsistence fishing. So Hawaiians, with a conditional permit, can access the area and fish – but they have to eat the fish before leaving the zone to go home.

To this writer, clearly the analysis of the ultra-conservative wing of marine conservation scientists and environmentalists is: The less human access, the better;.

The Long Shadow Of Uncle Sam
The federal government already controls access to 850 square miles of Hawaii’s lands and is the second largest land owner in Hawaii. The inventory of lands under federal control, either by lease or title, includes some of the most important historic, cultural and strategically positioned lands, inland waterways and coastal waters in the state.

The list includes Pearl Harbor, Hickam Field, Bellows Air Force Station, Kaneohe Marine base, Pohakuloa Training Area, upper reaches of Waimea Valley, Pililaau Army Recreation Center, Lualualei Naval ammunition depot, Fort Shafter, Tripler Army Medical Center, Camp H.M. Smith, Wheeler Army Airfield, Makua Valley, Volcanoes National Park, Haleakala National Park and a number of other less high-profile locations. [IB Publisher's note: Not to mention the nearly 2,000 acres of thevPacific Missile Range Facility on the Mana Plain of Kauai and in hundreds of square miles of adjacent ocean].

To this writer, as onerous as the degree of federal control over Hawaii lands might be, it pales compared to the tightening of the federal grip on hundreds of thousands of square miles of Hawaii’s Northwestern seas being put on the table by the request to expand the current boundaries of Papahanaumokuakea.

I can’t help but suspect that, somewhere in the motive for federal control over ingress to and egress from hundreds of thousands of square miles of the Hawaiian archipelago, there has to be some inkling of a military objective in the name of conservation.

So as not to be misunderstood, I believe the federal presence in Hawaii and the national security role the state plays in the U.S. presence in the Pacific Asian region is important. And if the extension of federal control over new expanses of Hawaii is warranted, I ask that those proposing and supporting an extension of federal authority do so with transparency and with all the cards on the table.

I can’t repeat the theme of transparency enough. There must be a legitimate and formal opportunity for the state and the citizens of Hawaii and all the stakeholders to weigh in. It would help a lot if the leaders of our state and our congressional delegation would talk to us.

The Colonial Effect
One of the disturbing aspects of the “global” strategy of proliferating these marine reserves-monuments-sanctuaries is that, so far, it looks like the Pacific has been heavily targeted.

When I look at a map of the locations of these marine protected areas, there are already three designated national monuments: in the Marianas, the Pacific Remote Islands and Hawaii. There are marine reserves in New Caledonia and Palau.

Moving forward, there are five more locations in various stages of being established in French Polynesia, Pitcairn Islands, Easter Island, Kermode Ocean and a second marine reserve proposed for New Caledonia.

Some people will say it’s a stretch for me to conclude that all of these Pacific Island proposals are triggered by third parties who come from faraway places. But I have good reason to say that, because foreign intervention has been the Pacific Island experience ever since the first Europeans crossed into the Pacific and stumbled on to the Mariana Islands.

When I gaze at the spread of existing and proposed marine reserves, monuments and sanctuaries that span the Pacific Ocean, I can’t help but view it as a clandestine new wave of colonization of the Pacific Islands flying the flag of marine conservation.

Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument
The existing Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument was established by President George W. Bush in June 2006 under the Antiquities Act.

The rumored back story to Bush’s surprise designation of the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands for national monument status, late in his last term, was that he was motivated by the opportunity, as with all presidents, to establish a presidential legacy of marine environmental and conservation achievement.

The monument’s purpose, oversimplified here, is to perpetuate the ecological integrity and ecosystems of the areas within the monument’s boundaries by largely federalizing its governance.

The trustees of the monument are the U.S. Department of Commerce, U.S. Department of Interior, and the State of Hawaii.

Obama And The Ticking Clock
Fast forward to January 2016. President Obama is asked in a letter signed by several prominent Native Hawaiian leaders to consider expanding the Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument.

Monument status would increase federal oversight over the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands by quadrupling the size of the existing area to 580,000 square miles.

Talk in the street is that President Obama already was considering the proposal, but that it was given important momentum when prominent Native Hawaiian leaders sent him their letter.

I have to believe he is seriously considering the proposal, perhaps taking a page from President Bush and his shortcut to a presidential legacy.

It occurs to me that a clock is ticking for the president and supporters of the expanded monument because, in September of this year, Hawaii is hosting the prestigious IUCN World Conservation Congress. The conservation congress meets every four years and brings together several thousand government and civic leaders from all over the world.

The 2016 IUCN congress would be the perfect global opportunity to roll out this dramatic proposal of placing hundreds of thousands of square miles of Hawaii’s seas into a conservation bank, making it the largest marine national monument in the world. That gives the president two months to complete the authorization process.

The two-month time frame does not bode well for public discussion. I hope I am wrong about the president’s intent and the ticking clock.

The Public’s Need To Know
Regardless of intent behind the proposed monument expansion, the people of Hawaii should be concerned that, with only the president’s signature and without public discussion, federal control over access to Hawaii’s oceans will expand by 75 percent.

The exercise of such presidential authority in the absence of a full public vetting would seem disrespectful of Hawaii’s people, unless there is an inclusive public discussion period. That period should include statewide public hearings.

Hawaii is an archipelago of islands that rise from a submerged mountain range stretching for 1,300 miles from Kure Atoll to Hawaii Island.  That’s the distance from Seattle to Baja California.

Drawing a line around the entire archipelago creating the outward boundary of the state would make Hawaii the largest state in the union except for Alaska.

The essence of Hawaii’s global identity – as the most famous set of islands in the world – and its history, culture, politics and economy are tied to the ocean. So any major changes in governmental jurisdiction over the Hawaiian Islands and its surrounding seas begs heavy doses of caution and rational thinking.

Stay Tuned
My next column will delve into the consequences for Hawaii of an expanded monument.

The impact on Hawaii’s fishing is a huge flash point. Other very important issues include military objectives, the international law of the sea and archipelagic claims, Native Hawaiian rights, federal laws and oversight already in place providing protection without expansion, impacts relating to submerged lands and native Hawaiian self-determination, restrictive access permitting system and more.


Should we eat shrimp?

SOURCE: Russ Pascatore (russ.pascatore@titanx.com)
SUBHEAD: The majority are from farms using antibiotics, disinfectants, pesticides, and herbicides.

By Tamar Adler on 23 June 2016 for Vogue -

Image above: Photograph of shrimp trap by Eric Boman. From original article.

A simple dinner-party question—should one eat shrimp?—sets Tamar Adler off on an ethical and gastronomic journey.

“Should I eat shrimp?”

I was being asked a serious question—as one sometimes is, even at balmy dinners alfresco. It came from a friend of a friend, who had, incidentally, been a bit of a bore all evening. “I want to be told,” he said. “I love shrimp, but should I be eating it?”

How reductive! I thought. How self-involved! I rattled off a recommended reading list on marine topics—Rachel Carson’s The Sea Around Us, seafood writer Paul Greenberg’s excellent American Catch and Four Fish—urged him to think with more subtlety about seafood ethics, and turned the conversation to amusing names for boats.

It was only late that night, when my rosy cloud of self-congratulation cleared, that I discovered that I didn’t actually know: Should he eat shrimp? Should I . . . I mean: Should we?

Yes, the news surrounding shrimp is mostly bad. I have read exposés of slave and child labor at two stages of Thai and Indonesian shrimp production—which implicates the shrimp available at major supermarket chains. The carbon cost of shrimp raised in mangroves, among the Earth’s most important and fragile ecosystems, is leviathan. But does that amount to a simple no?

I decided to do some detecting and immediately learned that whether or not we should eat shrimp, we do—on average just over four pounds per person a year, making it the country’s most popular seafood.

Eighty to 90 percent is imported. Almost all is farmed, and Old MacDonald did not have a shrimp farm. Shrimp farms in Thailand, Ecuador, Indonesia, China, Mexico, Vietnam, and Malaysia (our leading import sources in order) are man-made ponds brimming with so many shrimp that they pollute nearby water sources, are infected with disease and parasites—and are treated with a toxic fleet of antibiotics, disinfectants, pesticides, and herbicides.

In April the FDA declared that one third of shrimp imports from Malaysia contained substances such as chloramphenicol (a last-resort typhoid-fever and meningitis drug) and/or nitrofurans (an antibiotic the FDA considers carcinogenic). Wonderful! you might say. The FDA is ferreting out tainted shrimp. I would advise tempering your excitement.

I telephoned the FDA, where I had a lengthy conversation with a spokeswoman most comfortable speaking off the record. She directed me to an FDA employment report where I was able to see that the agency does not have nearly enough employees to screen more than a fraction of imports. She also explained that the FDA uses an algorithm to determine which imported shrimp to inspect, and, in the end, inspects only about 2 percent of imported seafood. It is, basically, a producer’s responsibility to ensure that U.S. standards are upheld. We import shrimp based on the honor system.

The imported farmed shrimp I’ve had at anonymous Italian restaurants, in risotto with shrimp and peas, etc., have tasted like . . . nothing, like iodine, or like gasoline. Those are surely not the flavors Athenaeus had in mind when he wrote, circa 300 a.d.: “But of all fish the daintiest / Is a young shrimp in fig leaves.” Or that we used to look for decades ago in our shrimp cocktails. We used to eat wild shrimp—where was that shrimp now?

I flew to McIntosh County in coastal Georgia, determined to talk my way onto a shrimp boat. It seemed, however, a prudent first step to throw a local-shrimp dinner party. If the shrimp weren’t as Athenaean as I’d been told, I could spare myself a day amid what Shakespeare called “a very ancient and fishlike smell.”

So I called chef Whitney Otawka and her husband, Ben Wheatley, who run the kitchen of Cumberland Island’s Greyfield Inn, the former Carnegie-family retreat best known as the site of JFK Jr.’s marriage to Carolyn Bessette. We agreed to meet the following day at a nearby restored sorghum farm, Canewater, where my fête de shrimp was to be hosted.

The next morning, to get into the mood, I made a pilgrimage to a local hardware store, passing a billboard reading “God bless our shrimpers,” where I bought white shrimping boots—without which I decided I would look out of place on a shrimp boat—and local nautical maps.

I had already secured ten pounds of fresh white shrimp from Mitchell Smith’s Valona Shrimp Company, but I bought another three pounds, which I’d found prettily arrayed in deep chest freezers in the hardware store’s back room, shrimp being one of the few sea things that freeze well.

In an airy kitchen I assessed my shrimp. Each was the size of a very large thumb, and startlingly beautiful. Their tails were edged with dark pink and storm shadows of iridescent yellow and green, and faint pretty speckling covered their rose-gray shells. I peeled—I have seen peeled shrimp for sale in stores; these are a travesty and should be ignored—and poached five pounds in an herbal court bouillon, and felt the whole time that I was dealing with a delicacy.

I pickled half and served the other half with an intriguing cocktail sauce from Julia Turshen’s forthcoming book, Small Victories (ketchup, mayonnaise, bottled horseradish, Old Bay Seasoning, and red-wine vinegar in a combination that sounds nauseous and turns out alchemical). Whitney filled two cast-iron pans with butter, chiles, lime, shrimp, and a few spoonfuls of grilled tomato, then drizzled them with mezcal.

I tasted our dishes as the sun set over the wide gray marsh. The shrimp—not the vinegary pickle or piquant sauce, nor the mezcal—were what I noticed: sweet and clean, delicately perfumed with mellow grassiness and all the mineral flavors of flowing tides and spartina grass.

I badly wanted to fish for shrimp like these to learn what I could about why they were so good, and to confront a rather more serious concern: Some environmentalists condemn the process—trawling—by which the shrimp are caught. At issue is the health of the ocean floor once a net has been dragged over it, and what is known as bycatch—other species snared in the net.

Getting a shrimper to accept a passenger would take some arranging, so I spent a day on the Cumberland Island beach studying the life cycle of a shrimp; relevant vocabulary (shrimping shipmates are “strikers”; a boat’s rabbit ears are “outriggers”); and a pithy aphorism I imagined could come in handy if we stalled for conversation: “All’s fish that comes to the net,” for which I already envisioned several useful circumstances.

I dutifully rose at three in the morning to meet the Miss Paisley, captained by David Poppell, a fisherman of few words, and staffed (striked? stricken?) by Shawn Hewitt, an ageless, handsome man, and Lamar McIntosh, a gentle creature from another era, whose Scottish forefathers founded the county.
Approaching 5.4 knots, we headed into Doboy Sound, toward federal waters three miles from any estuary or tidal marsh—keeping the estuaries free of commercial fishing for half the year is one of the regulatory measures protecting the South Atlantic shrimp fishery. The sky was black and starry, the deck of the boat pearl white, with grease-black cables and winches nestled with machine intensity near the cabin. The outriggers dropped. The sun rose.

I must have looked happy, enjoying the rising light and fresh air, because Lamar sat down beside me and asked, “You like the salt life, don’t you?” And I replied, from Longfellow: “Ah! what pleasant visions haunt me/As I gaze upon the sea!/All the old romantic legends,/All my dreams, come back to me.” (No, of course I didn’t. But it came to mind . . . )

Shrimping, it should be said, has as much in common, sensually speaking, with lobstering—the other crustacean fishing I’ve done—as barbecue does with oyster crackers. In fourteen ascetic hours several summers ago aboard a lobster boat, I was the only crew member who ate, drank, or sat down.

Today I’d brought saltines and iced tea for sustenance, but when I offered them around as a sunrise treat, I was told we’d be eating breakfast momentarily. And so we did, the instant it was determined that we were “in the shrimp.”

On a little four-burner stove, Lamar fried eggs and sausages, toasted bread, and stirred grits. We ate at a leisurely pace. (I learned the local habit of serving grits on top of fried eggs, then mashing the two, like butter and potatoes, which looked childish and tasted delectable.) We drank Sprites (also delectable).

There are a few main concerns with any wild fishery. The first is the health of its stocks and its reproduction capacity. Warm-water shrimp lay up to a million eggs, sometimes more than once a season, and live only up to a year or two, whether they’re fished or not, which, combined with regulations on where they can be caught, is why they’re considered a healthy fishery.

The second, bycatch, is what I was really there to see. And I did, in our first nets of shrimp, which also contained sea stars and hermit crabs, sardines and squids, jellyfish, lionfish, blowfish, the odd mackerel, and once, a single sweet-faced ray, whose endearing, downturned eyes made me catch my breath in sympathy.

By purists’ accounting, any bycatch could be considered too much. But warm-water shrimp can’t be efficiently caught by trap. The issue for federal regulators is whether the species that come up in trawl nets are endangered. Turtles, including terrapins and loggerheads, were, until the 1980s, making frequent appearances in shrimp trawls. Luckily, Sinkey Boone, a McIntosh County native whose son, Howell, is a shrimp-boat captain, invented an early form of gear that is now mandatory in federal shrimp waters—a Turtle Excluder Device, or TED. This is a simple set of metal bars positioned halfway up a net through which shrimp can swim but a turtle can’t. The turtle, stopped by the bars, gets evicted through a separate chute to continue his old deliberate life in peace.

Much of what came up in our bycatch was crustaceous—which can survive on deck until it is pushed overboard (by me, with what looked like an extra-large cricket bat)—and the rest comes from generally healthy populations. Bycatch is as much an inefficiency for shrimpers as it is an injury to the ocean—we sifted through every net by hand; it took time, was messy, and we risked the possibility of being bitten, snapped, or stung. Experienced fishermen learn over decades  to read wind and water to limit bycatch. The average ratio of bycatch to shrimp is four to five pounds to one, but the writer Paul Greenberg told me a shrimper in Louisiana claims to have gotten his down to two to one. “I don’t think you lie about something like that,” added Paul.

I wished there was appreciation in Georgia, as there is in New York, for the lovely little squid and sardines and mackerel we netted, none of which survived (all of which were happily eaten by our friendly pelicans and dolphins). They’re not popular in the South. We caught a fair number of spiky, striped lionfish, a species that New York chef Ryan Chadwick is now serving in Montauk—because it is cheap, a by-product of fishing, and invasive. I grew up on fried blowfish tails at Lunch on the drive out to Gurney’s on Montauk. I asked Lamar if he’d tried them. He had and found them inedible. But I’ve reason to be hopeful. According to Pat Geer at the Department of Natural Resources, jellyfish is among the top three species caught in Georgia because enterprising businessmen like Howell Boone, son of the TED inventor, have found an Asian market for them.

Every food writer shares a fantasy of fishing or hunting or stalking wild asparagus, then being cooked the meal that traditionally accompanies the pursuit. In my experience, desire for this experience awakens a cruel law of opposites: The worse I want it, the better the chances I’m taken to McDonald’s.

But Neptune smiled on me that day. Lamar filleted and peeled shrimp we had just pulled from the depths, then quickly fried them into a great crisp mountain, while simultaneously cooking a pot of rice and making purloo—a combination of okra, corn, rice, and tomato—the same meal shrimpers had eaten a century ago on these same waters. And with good reason: It was perfect, the shrimp sugar-sweet, the rice and vegetables somehow equatorial and luxurious.

I left McIntosh County knowing we should eat wild Georgia shrimp. As Bryan Fluech, associate director of the University of Georgia’s Marine Extension and Sea Grant program, remarked, “We have such a need for wild seafood in our country. But for all the talk about ‘conservation,’ we’re losing fishermen every year.” In the 1970s and early 1980s there were more than 1,000 trawling licenses issued in Georgia. In 2015, there were 253. “Fuel costs, competition from imports, loss of infrastructure—what used to be fish-processing houses are now condominiums—all conspire against them,” Bryan explained. “The irony is that as badly as we need local seafood, we aren’t supporting it.”

Georgia doesn’t produce enough shrimp to supply even its own state. Paul Greenberg has calculated that there’s enough seafood in America to never have to import again. But his calculus depends on Americans’ agreeing to eat whatever fish is available at whatever time.

Here, one enters the philosophical territory of whether we must be able to have what we want when we want it—whether that is a valid measure of living well. The number of shrimp Americans eat, even in the face of the harrowing exposés and other domestic seafood options, suggests that millions of people believe the answer to be yes.

There is, I discovered, a solution to this problem—of wanting shrimp when you want it. A company called CleanFish, run by Tim O’Shea, a Buckminster Fuller type who spent his 20s in a futurist think tank, travels to artisanal-scale family fish farms and cooperatives around the world and, once CleanFish’s standards of organic production, community development, and environmental and animal welfare have been met, imports them. I’ve eaten CleanFish’s Laughing Bird Shrimp at Franny’s in Brooklyn and the Monkey Bar in Manhattan, and seen them on menus in Chicago; Portland, Maine; and San Francisco. The shrimp are lovely—a smaller, deeper pink, more delicate and crablike animal than the wild shrimp of McIntosh, but worthy.

Another solution came to me months ago via Vogue photographer Eric Boman. Apparently there was an inland shrimp farm in the industrial town of Newburgh, New York, an hour from my house, where a Brazilian named Jean Claude Frajmund was raising shrimp to sell at the Union Square Greenmarket.
On one of the rainiest days I can remember, I drove to Newburgh, and parked in front of a warm, clean warehouse that might—but for the sign outside reading eco shrimp garden—produce T-shirts or kitchen mops. Inside, Jean Claude raises Pacific white shrimp in dozens of tanks filled with ocean salt and Newburgh municipal water at a concentration of 4,000 bright, jumping shrimp per tank. Jean Claude uses an ingenious biofloc technology in which thousands of species of bacteria live symbiotically with shrimp and convert their waste in successive stages into compounds that the next species of bacteria requires to survive. Every day the water is tested multiple times by an affable former U.S. Mint worker named Raymond, who adjusts bacteria levels as needed. The shrimp eat fish food made of 35 percent fish protein and fish oil, which, Jean Claude says, comes not from whole fish but from the trim of domestically caught fish processed in Philadelphia.

It was all clean, modern, sensible, and environmentally smart. Jean Claude cheerfully suggested that we “go fishing,” which involved dipping a long-handled strainer several times into one of the tanks and pulling up ten of the most deeply scarlet, energetic shrimp I’ve ever seen. He quickly assisted their expiration by submerging them in ice water, then vacuum-packed them for me and laid them, with more ice, in a logoed Eco Shrimp Garden insulated lunch box.

And our fishing trip was done. I missed the romance of the open sea, the dolphins and the pelicans. But I also remembered something the less romantic Paul Greenberg had said: “With enough investment we could set up inland shrimp farms and never import another shrimp. Which would be great. Why not turn the Rust Belt into the Shrimp Belt?”

My Eco Shrimp went into a midday pan of green garlic, butter, and olive oil, with a sprinkle of rosé and parsley to finish. They tasted fresh and snappy with life. I couldn’t shake the slightly disconcerting feeling I also get eating a hydroponic tomato or head of lettuce—that some ineffable, invisible je ne sais quoi is missing. But there was no question that I was eating an intelligent and appealing alternative.

I think I will most likely wait until I’m back in McIntosh, land of God Bless Our Shrimpers and ubiquitous white shrimp boots, to eat my next four pounds of shrimp. They’re the best shrimp our ocean offers. And if I do ever find wild South Atlantic shrimp here in New York, I will buy them. Whatever they cost will be worth it, and what they preserve is priceless.


The Forest Economy

SUBHEAD: The natural environment as a metaphor for how we organize our own human economies.

By Rob Hopkins on 20 June 2016 for Transition Network -

Image above: Trees with leaves and moss moderate the movement of water over the landscape. From original article. See more photos in original article.

I spent Sunday afternoon having a beautiful walk in the woods with my son at Venton Brook, near Holne on Dartmoor, one of the most beautiful places on earth. 

As we walked down through this ancient woodland, with its stream, its waterfalls, its trees, moss and lichen, the sun breaking through the canopy, I found myself thinking of this woodland not as an ecosystem, but as a metaphor for the kind of economy we are seeking to create in Transition.

As Bill Mollison wrote in 'Permaculture: a Designers' Manual', "trees are, for the earth, the ultimate translators and moderators of incoming energy".  You can think of a forest as the most incredibly sophisticated water management system.  Indeed, as you walk through a forest, all but 5-10% of what you're looking at is water.

When it rains over a wood like Venton Brook, the canopy intercepts it first.  The leaves break the heavier droplets into a finer mist.  Some of the water is held by the surface of the leaves, which are themselves small reservoirs of water, sometimes referred to as a "lake in the sky".

This interrupting of the power of the rain reduces the damage that heavy rain would otherwise do to bare soil.

The water that continues groundwards is no longer just water.  It has picked up all manner of dust and other nutrients which it transfers to the soil.  From the top of the trees to the bottom of their roots, woodlands have evolved many sophisticated ways of capturing water.

These include: Mosses on trees that act as sponges, able to hold a lot of water all the way up the trees, and crevasses on the trees, fissures in the bark and other plants growing on trees who also capture water:

Image above: Rockface covered in moss, lichen and ferns hold water. From original article.

Mosses and lichens on the rocks, such as those on the rockface near a waterfall which were holding a huge amount of water.  This rockface held so much more water than bare rock would.

Dead wood, rather than being removed to keep the wood 'tidy', acts as an incubator for new life and, increasingly as it decomposes, as a sponge.  Great thick mats of moss and decomposing wood are scattered across the ground, acting as a nursery to all manner of plants:

The leaf litter and deep rich soil that has formed beneath is also a key store of water.  Soils with high organic matter are able to capture and hold high levels of water (1 cm of water for every 3cm of depth).

That top 60cm of soil contains 85% of the roots and 94% of the soil water.  That fine mat of tree roots is then able to take what is now the perfect 'tree tea' and feed it back into the tree and back up to the leaves, as well as to slow its percolation into the soil.  As Mollison puts it, "the forests represent great lakes of actively managed and actively recycled water".

And then of course there are the mycorrhizal fungi, those vast networks which store water while acting as the forest's brain, distributing resources and managing its response to disturbance.

Forests such as this have evolved as incredibly sophisticated, self-organising systems for holding and storing water and nutrients.  It's why they are such a vital strategy in preventing the kind of flooding seen in the UK and elsewhere in recent years.  Rather than surges of water, they act as a vast sponge, moderating the throughflow of water.

Even the brook itself seemed to have decided to get as much out of the water passing through it as possible: wide shallow sections full of water weeds, and piles of branches washed down in storms which collect at bottlenecks and which then, over time, become home to a range of plants.

Image above: Stream with decaying branch and ferns. From original article.

As we walked through the woods, I was thinking about what a perfect metaphor this place was for the kind of economy we strive to create in Transition initiatives.  An economy based on maximising the Multiplier Effect.  In this kind of economy, we become more skilful at capturing money that would otherwise just pass through our economy.

Then, once it is there, we strive get it to circulate as many times as possible, to pass from hand to hand to hand, incubating a great diversity of enterprises and businesses.

The alternative, the globalised neo-liberal economy, is the mirror opposite of our forest economy.

Rather than trying to maximise the number of places money can pass through or be stored, distributing it as much as possible, it aims to centralise, to concentrate that water into a handful of places.

The equivalent that I could think of would be to put plastic guttering around all our trees, dig channels to concentrate the water, so that as soon as a raindrop landed it was being channelled towards one of several large reservoirs. Not quite the same experience at all.

Nowhere in that wood could I see any one single species sucking up all that water to the detriment of others.  Everything in the ecosystem acted as a good neighbour, stronger due to the diversity of what's around it.  Nothing was wasted.  It's a resilient system.  In the event of a drought, a lack of input of water, it would survive so much longer than a monocultural field of crops or our more 'tidy' gardens.

If we can protect local economies from the predations of large extractive corporations, keep the metaphorical plastic guttering at bay, they will naturally move towards the kind of self-organising, diverse resilient systems that our woodland was modelling.  It's a system designed to maximise the wellbeing of its community, through an approach based not on austerity but on being regenerative.

It's an economy that isn't about locking resources up, but allowing them to flow at different speeds, to allow some throughput, but to strive to ensure the maximum amount of circulation as possible.  It's the thinking that underpins local currencies, although it can happen without them.

Mollison once also famously described tidiness as "maintained disorder".  Extracting money from local economies requires highly efficient systems that have none of the disorder of natural systems.

Think of the difference between supermarket aisles and a marketplace with its diversity of eclectic stalls.  Or the clone produce of the supermarket veg section, bereft of wonky carrots and nobbly potatoes as opposed to what appears in your CSA vegetable box.

As you walk through the woodland, what initially appears to be a messy riot of untidy chaos is in fact a highly sophisticated, vibrant, thriving ecosystem.  It works.  As do resilient local economies.  And they're beautiful.  As Mollison once said, "if we lose the Universities we lose nothing: if we lose the forests we lose everything".  Amen to that.


The Music of Narcissus

SUBHEAD: Events may unfold with greater ease than we expect, given the man-made chaos we’ve caused.

By Patrick Noble  on 22 June 2016 for Convivial Economy -

Image above: Narcissus stares at himself in the glistening reflection of an oil polluted a stream. From (https://lockerdome.com/6655936253276481/7127586274949396).

A fiddle and a cello weave in counterpoint. The fiddle sings of a redemptive future, while the cello evokes a scenic past. The song of the present is obscured by headphones.

Both voices speak of the future – the one calling and the other restraining. There will be a better future in which the finest scenery of the past is preserved. The dissonant present recalls only what’s nasty, brutish and short.

The sea of the future (fiddle) laps gently on beaches of the past (cello). Our cleverly-educated children will achieve what’s impossible today. Meanwhile, landscapes will be realised without a Claude glass – forever Crome, Cotman and Constable.

Natural physics – evidence of the dissonant senses – says that the sea is rising; soils are degrading and that only empty holes in the ground remain where economic resources once lay. But if we look to the future, then ideas will replace those resources. Looking to the present is Luddite and without hope.

We are living through a cargo cult. We will be redeemed not by our behaviour, but by flotsam of the tide. In short we’ve lost our minds.

Many green thinkers are devotees. The God of Cargo washes peer review after peer review to the shore – of the scientific evidence that is not quite complete. The definitive answer will come. True visionaries stand on the shingle to be first to receive what the tide may bring.

Here’s the madness – that ideas will replace resources; that future ingenuity will remove present consequence; that historical landscapes are natural ecologies.

Of course, the truth is that ideas create nothing; that present action creates the future; that historical landscapes are far from natural ecologies, and also that living contemporary economies are utterly dependent on living contemporary ecologies.

What’s more, deferring personal and political moral decisions to the consideration of imaginary children, is (I’d have thought) the extreme of depravity.

No action can escape its moral.

Every footstep has consequence and so has a moral. The cargo cult proposes that if we know of a better future and a better past, then we can forget present actions and present morals, because a better world will come to wash all that away… Meanwhile we listen (through headphones) to the rising and falling polyphony of the fiddle’s shafts of sunlight illuminating the rustic hills and river valleys of the cello.

The cargo cult provides the central doctrine of all our popular newspapers, including of late, the Guardian and is the guiding light of the BBC – just listen.

This writer pursues a perennial theme and its variations – that culture is what we do, not the state to which we’ve grown accustomed. In other words, civilisation is a complexity of methods, not a state. I think we create cultures one by one as we apply ingenuity and dexterity to the resources we’ve been given. Culturing stops, when we stop culturing.

My history depicts that from at least the late Bronze Age (about 1500BC) and until the 19th Century, idle elites sat back and enjoyed the fruits of the skills of the trades. Working people created the culture – growing food, cooking it, building ships, sailing them, building and designing houses, palaces, churches, temples, mosques and cathedral, painting pictures, making music, plays, novels and verses, …

All the while the powerful enticed, coerced, taxed, bullied, made wars, extracted rent and so on, but played no part at all in creating the culture. Nabob, Prince, Laird, Lord, Squire… all knew that they were dependent on the trades and remained happy to be so.

Once upon a time a great change came – the arrival of fossil fuels. I say that event provoked a very brief, but extreme perversity of cultural behaviour. The perversity is this – Idle and incompetent elites removed tools from the hands of the skilled and began to wield tools themselves – albeit at a distance from country estate, boardroom, parliament – and even throne.

The massive powers of those many millions of years of sequestered photo synthesis proved irresistible. Once gold-torqued Achilles sought status by bronze sword and chariot, while his needs were provided by the ingenuity and dexterity of the trades. His cattle raids were sung, by the tradesmen we call bards, as epic adventures.

In truth (by sweet lies) the whole of history, until the 19th Century records only those adventures. How cultures were composed remains invisible. We have some archaeological evidence to help a distant and flawed retelling of cultural history, but we have no written evidence from the times.

Anyway, elites began to wield oil tools with the same carelessness with which they’d once drawn their swords.

Oil tools have no cultural traditions to restrain them, because they are managed from within enclosed monopolies. Land enclosure had bled the skills of the trades, first by dispossession and secondly by rent.

However, although elites grew richer and the skilled became poorer by enclosure, nevertheless those land-enclosing elites had continued their helpless dependency on the skills of the trades.

The trades had codes of practice – of family and guild traditions – of responsibility for passing on commons for the future of trades. They were connected to the physics of nature by natural reaction to the actions of their tools.

Enclosure turns moral commons into amoral property. It asserts (by law) the right to shed responsibility.

When elites enclosed fossil resources and fossil-powered tools they asserted that same property right and also claimed that same right to irresponsibility.

The trades vanished through the factory gate and with regards to farming to reading instructions on the sides of pesticide and herbicide drums and fertiliser sacks. The farmer has no idea what’s in the drums and sacks – in any case information is hidden behind the walls of another enclosure – intellectual property, which like all property holds right to irresponsibility.

Yes. Culturing stops, when we stop culturing. Now fossil-fuelled tools are culturing from behind the black glass of irresponsive and irresponsible monopolies.

The social perversity may be brief, but the god-like power of oil-powered Achilles has emptied trades and tradespeople from villages and town centres; has evacuated harbour towns; has utterly sacked the integrated and long-evolved complexity of the culture we must return to when the oil perversity ends. That culture has meant that work and pleasure have always been only a short walk (or cycle ride) from anyone’s door.

Industrial estate, retail park, ring road, suburbia – all demand the family car – and money to buy/insure/maintain the car – and nearly all wages now come from behind the black glass of those monopolies.

I think that what little history we have, teaches that those who depose elites always end by taking their place.

I propose a return to ordinary history. To mitigate the worst of climate change, resource depletion, social injustice… we must take tools back to our own small, ordinary, but responsible hands. We must evacuate ring road and retail park and re-occupy fields, towns harbours and villages. We can place small elites on pedestals to keep them sweet, while removing tools from their incompetent hands. We’ll make the culture and they can enjoy it.

That’s a very tall order – but in truth, it’s the only order. Early Neolithic and some pastoral societies may have lived more beautifully, sustainably and equally by the advice of elders, but that is a tale too tall for the populations of today.

We can use a democratic process to elect least-worst options, but we must create the culture for ourselves. Too tall? But there’s much that many of us can do instantly and without effort. We can shop in villages and town centres, while abandoning all super markets. We can ditch the holiday and business flight. We can farm and garden without pesticides, fungicides, herbicides and bagged fertilisers.

We can evacuate most of what the oil enclosure provides and begin step by step to make things and grow things without oil. There is no law to prevent us creating a culture, contrary to the direction of corporation and state. After the extra-ordinary oil decades, we simply become ordinary again. Many are trapped by work-ties and poverty. Many have nothing but a super market nearby, but time will change that.

With regards to the futuristic cargo cult which is the status quo – living in the present will provide very many unexpected delights. Take off the headphones. The future will not provide for us. We provide for the future. The latest scientific paper is neither here, nor there – we have all we need to know.

Consensus, pre-packed party politics is another form of consumerism. We choose a branded party just as we choose a brand of pot noodles. We may, or may not improve the political system, though we may as well try to do so. But nothing is more important than simply taking tools from the incompetent hands of state and corporate power.

With luck, because we face ecological and so economic collapse, the powers may be resigned to our rebuilding of an ordinary, easily recognised, but much shrunken economy – particularly because we’ll provide them with that lovely long oak table for the council chamber; with fine food and wine and some elegant roofs over their helpless, but still dignified heads.

That shrunken economy may provide many delights – repopulated fields, thriving villages and towns, low rents and cheap housing, sounds of music from pub doorways, many and various curiosities – proper shops and trades…

If we leave the powerful in power, but with their powers restrained, then we escape the bloodshed.
But fiddle and cello play on and many are drawn to the delusive music. Beautiful Narcissus leans over the musical pool. His marvellous ingenuity (He is Everyman) will find an alchemy of something from nothing – such as a replacement for the irreplaceable powers of fossil fuels. Those many millions of years of sequestered photosynthesis will be replicated in the human ingenuity of a single summer. Trees are like solar panels, says a mother to her child, nearly as clever as people. Incidentally Everyman is a sexless term.

We’ve seen how the fiddle player of the Cargo Cult removes ethics from actions. Present transgression (such as over-consumption) will be washed clean by future technological redemption.
And there is another, rather similar delusion to escape. That is the misnaming of technology as science.

Technologies must always have a moral, because technologies always have consequence. On the other hand, the cultivated scepticism of science is a learnt process by which we remove moral perception in order to free our thinking. Science is a lovely and essential creature but has no application. It is a pleasure.

When we take a new perception from scientific thinking to illuminate, let’s say medicine, or agricultural techniques, then we have moved back into the moral world of technology.

However today, many technologists call themselves scientists. Some have white coats to prove it.

Nearly everyone accepts the deception. Here’s the thing – by that transformation we can remove ethics from actions. The deception is made doubly easy by intellectual property enclosure. Plant breeder, drug researcher, pesticide manufacturer, gene splicer… all hide behind both enclosure and the amorality of science. Poor science. Poor tragedy of the enclosures.

So, as we take tools into our own hands, we must escape both the delusive music of progress (the Cargo Cult) and the fraudulent claim of technology to be science.

Because we are returning to the ordinary flows of history – or at least to a history, which began in the Late Bronze Age – events may unfold with a far greater ease than we’ve a right to expect, given the man-made chaos we’ve had a hand in causing.

Neolithic and Early Bronze Age societies and the hunter-gatherers before them, probably lived more happily than is likely for us. Anyway, if we can escape the delusive music in large enough numbers, then I reckon the song of the living physics of the Earth will be delightful enough for Everyman’s dancing feet.


World Nuclear Performance Report

SUBHEAD: Nuclear industry flacks continue upbeat reports despite continuation of Fukushima Daiichi catastrophe .

A larger number of nuclear plants are under construction than at any other time in the last 25 years.

By Agneta Rising on 21 June 2016 for World Nuclear Association -

Image above: Wreckage of Units #2 nd #3 at Fukushina Daiichi Power Plant in April 2011 after units melted down and exploded. From (http://www.fresnobee.com/news/local/article34133706.html).

At the start of 2015 there were 436 operable reactors around the world and by year-end there were 439. This increase in reactor numbers came despite the retirement of seven units during the year.

A larger number of nuclear power units are under construction than at any other time in the last 25 years, and with another ten new reactors coming online – also a 25-year record for the industry – 2015 demonstrated improving new build performance all round. The existing global fleet generated roughly 10% of the world’s electricity, making up around one-third of the world’s low-carbon electricity supply.

Nevertheless, the situation facing the nuclear industry globally is challenging.

Established fleets in several European countries face public acceptance issues and a negative policy environment; there are tough economic conditions for operators not only in some deregulated energy markets such as in parts of the USA, but also in European countries where electricity prices have been depressed by a growing share of renewable technologies subsidized to produce regardless of whether their electricity is needed or not.

The future of the Japanese fleet is crystallizing: the first reactors restarted in 2015 under anew safety regime, while the country’s operators marked six of their units as permanently closed, forgoing their potential restart.

China continues to grow as a nuclear power hub, taking advantage of its stable and long-sighted policy regime as well as economies of scale.

Substantial progress has also been made towards the commercialization of small and advanced reactor designs.The rate of new build is, however, insufficient if the world is to meet the targets for reducing the impacts of global warming agreed at Parties (COP21) on climate change, which took place in Paris last year.

The World Nuclear Association’s vision for the future global electricity system consists of a diverse mix of low-carbon technologies – where renewables, nuclear and a greatly reduced level of fossil fuels (preferably with carbon capture and storage) work together in harmony to ensure a reliable, affordable and clean energy supply.

This mix must find the optimal balance between the need for human development and the protection of the natural environment. To achieve this, the role of nuclear energy must be expanded.

Our Harmony vision sets a target for 1000 GWe of new nuclear capacity to be added by 2050, so that nuclear would supply about 25% of global electricity.

We are publishing this World Nuclear Performance Report 2016 to provide an up-to-date picture of the civil nuclear power sector today and how it is performing across several key metrics. This report forms the first in a series which will be updated annually and which will track progress towards the
Harmony targets.

Today, World Nuclear Association launches its report providing key metrics on nuclear power plant performance and reviewing recent developments in the global nuclear industry.

Key findings include:
  • More nuclear reactors are under construction and more reactors came on line last year than at any time in the last 25 years.

  •  Nuclear reactor performance has improved steadily over the last 35 years. Importantly, reactor performance is not fundamentally affected by reactor age; older plants operate as well as younger plants.

  • Construction times for new reactors have improved over the last 15 years, with reactors coming on line in 2015 having an average construction time of around six years.
Speaking at the launch of the report Agneta Rising said, “This report shows that, despite challenging market conditions in some regions, existing nuclear plant performance is strong and the pace of new build is accelerating.”

Recent years have been some of the most challenging for the global nuclear power plant fleet, but major new build programs, new technology developments, reactor restarts in Japan and strengthening public support mean prospects for the years ahead are brighter.

Even though new build levels are at a 25 year high, the rate of new grid connections will have to increase significantly to support global economic growth, alleviate energy poverty and provide enough clean energy to meet agreed climate change targets. The World Nuclear Association considers that there should be 1000 GWe of new nuclear build by 2050, with nuclear generation supplying 25% of global electricity demand.

The World Nuclear Performance Report 2016 is available as a pdf download from the World Nuclear Association website here (http://world-nuclear.org/getmedia/b9d08b97-53f9-4450-92ff-945ced6d5471/world-nuclear-performance-report-2016.pdf.aspx)

Key graphics from the report are also available from the World Nuclear Association website – click here (http://world-nuclear.org/gallery/world-nuclear-performance-report.aspx).

• The World Nuclear Association is the industry organization that represents the global nuclear industry. Its mission is to promote a wider understanding of nuclear energy among key international influencers by producing authoritative information, developing common industry positions, and contributing to the energy debate, as well as to pave the way for expanding nuclear business.


Last California nuclear plant to close

SUBHEAD: Pacific Gas & Electric and Friends of the Earth have an agreement on Diablo Canyon Nuclear Plant.

By I. -

Image above: Humpback whale surfaces in front of the Diablo Canyon Nuclear Power Plant. From (http://www.fresnobee.com/news/local/article34133706.html).

One of California’s largest energy utilities took a bold step in the 21st century electricity revolution with an agreement to close its last operating nuclear plant and develop more solar, wind and other clean power technologies.

The decision announced Tuesday by Pacific Gas & Electric Co. to close its beleaguered Diablo Canyon nuclear plant within the next decade runs counter to the nuclear industry’s arguments that curbing carbon emissions and combating climate change require use of nuclear power, which generates the most electricity without harmful emissions.

Instead, PG&E joined with longtime adversaries such as the Friends of the Earth environmental group to craft a deal that will bring the company closer to the mandate that 50% of California’s electricity generation come from renewable energy sources by 2030.

PG&E’s agreement will close the book on the state’s history as a nuclear pioneer, but adds to its clean energy reputation. California already leads the nation by far in use of solar energy generated by rooftop panels and by sprawling power arrays in the desert.

“California is already a leader in curtailing greenhouse gases,” said Peter Bradford, a former member of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission. “Now they’re saying they can go even further. That’s potentially a model for other situations.”

Under the proposal, the Diablo Canyon Power Plant in San Luis Obispo County would be retired by PG&E after its current U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission operating licenses expire in November 2024 and August 2025.

The power produced by Diablo Canyon’s two nuclear reactors would be replaced with investment in a greenhouse-gas-free portfolio of energy efficiency, renewables and energy storage, PG&E said. The proposal is contingent on a number of regulatory actions, including approvals from the California Public Utilities Commission.

The Diablo Canyon nuclear plant, built against a seaside cliff near Avila Beach, provides 2,160 megawatts of electricity for Central and Northern California — enough to power more than 1.7 million homes.

Tuesday’s announcement comes after a long debate over the fate of the plant, which sits near several earthquake fault lines. The Hosgri Fault, located three miles from Diablo Canyon, was discovered in 1971, three years after construction of the plant began.

Calls to close Diablo Canyon escalated after a 2011 quake in Japan damaged two reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant there, leading to dangerous radiation leaks. In the aftermath of that disaster, state and federal lawmakers called for immediate reviews of Diablo Canyon and the San Onofre nuclear plant in San Diego County, which was still in use.

The San Onofre plant was shut down for good in 2013 as a result of faulty equipment that led to a small release of radioactive steam and a heated regulatory battle over the plant's license.

In documents submitted to the federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission as recently as last year, PG&E said Diablo Canyon can safely withstand earthquakes, tsunamis and flooding.

Daniel Hirsch, director of the program on Environmental and Nuclear Policy at UC Santa Cruz, said PG&E’s agreement was thoughtful.

“It is not simply a decision to phase out the plant, but to replace it with efficiency and renewables,” he said. “So it is a very strong net gain for the environment.”

As the state boosts its energy efficiency goals and plans for renewables, including solar and wind power, Hirsch said, Diablo Canyon is “getting in the way.”

PG&E Chief Executive Tony Earley acknowledged the changing landscape in California, noting that energy efficiency, renewables and storage are “central to the state’s energy policy.”

“As we make this transition, Diablo Canyon’s full output will no longer be required,” he said. That eventually would make the nuclear plant too expensive to operate, Earley said during a conference call with reporters.

Hirsch tempered his approval with caution, saying that as long as the plant remains in operation, safety risks remain.

“Diablo really does pose a clear and present danger,” he said. “If we had an earthquake larger than the plant was designed for, you could have a Fukushima-type event that could devastate a large part of California.”

State senate leader Kevin de León (D-Los Angeles) echoed Hirsch by saying nuclear energy is “inherently risky, and the Diablo Canyon Power Plant is vulnerable to damage from natural disasters that could threaten the well-being of millions of Californians. This transition will make our energy sources less volatile, more cost-effective, and benefit the air we breathe.”

In the mid-2000s, the nation’s utilities had anticipated a nuclear renaissance that would usher in a new age of centralized power plants. Power companies submitted proposals to the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission for 31 new reactors. President George W. Bush pushed federal loan guarantees to hasten nuclear plant construction.

However, instead of a renaissance, the nuclear industry began to unravel.

Duke Energy announced in February 2013 that it would close the Crystal River, Fla., nuclear plant after a steam generator replacement project led to cracks in the concrete reactor containment building. The plant became too costly to fix.

In May 2013, Dominion Resources Inc., permanently shut down the Kewaunee nuclear plant in Wisconsin after the power company said it was no longer affordable to operate the facility.

A month later, Southern California Edison permanently closed the San Onofre plant after the determining that fixing the new but faulty steam generators would prove too expensive.

Perhaps the biggest problem for the nuclear industry was the vast amount of natural gas that became available in the United States because of fracking.

Natural gas plants now are far cheaper to build and operate than a nuclear plant. A natural gas facility runs at about 8 or 9 cents a kilowatt hour compared with twice that much for a nuclear plant.

And the push for renewable energy has turned attention to solar and wind power to help reduce emissions and combat human-caused climate change.

“The unraveling of the renaissance was not a surprise to anyone who understood the workings of the power markets,” said Bradford, the former U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission member. He serves as an expert witness in legal proceedings across the nation.

Bradford said PG&E’s plan for Diablo Canyon shows the flaws in arguments by the nuclear industry that a clean-energy network requires nuclear.

“It’s a very tough day for people who have been advocating for massive nuclear subsidies,” Bradford said.

Even after Diablo Canyon closes, Southern California will still get a small percentage of its electricity from Arizona’s Palo Verde nuclear plant. Among the owners of the 4,000 megawatt nuclear plant in the Arizona desert are Southern California Edison, the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power and the Southern California Public Power Authority, whose members include municipal power companies supplying Glendale, Pasadena, Burbank and Anaheim.


America's Lust for War

SUBHEAD: Why WWIII? Because we can't face we're not NUMBER 1and it's all we know how to do.

By Juan Wilson on 21 June 2016 for Island Breath -

Image above: Wei Dong, Lust & War, 2008, Oil and Acrylic on Canvas, 36x48 inches. From (http://depthofreality.livejournal.com/70102.html).

I must apologize to regular readers for my concentration on the US military over the last week and a half. The posts centering on our militarism began with "They Died of Progress" by John Michael Greer. It detailed the brittle and fragile state of America's "high-tech" military versus the more pragmatic approach of the Russian and Chinese efforts.

A week later I presented an overview of American military history of destructive activities in the Pacific that resulted in an extended nuclear war between 1946 and 1962 through today's belligerent RIMPAC 2016 naval exercises.

It seems to me that we are on the cusp of a reaching a place we can't back out of. We are aggressively pushing our "enemies" against the wall in several regions of the world. They include the
  • Middle East: There we've been continuous war since the 1990's (the 1980's if you count our support of the mujahideen and Osama Bin Laden in Afghanistan against the USSR). Now we dialing it up in Syria and Iraq and the mess the Saudis are entangled in while we kowtow to Israel's neo-fascist - not to mention threats to Iran and others.
  • Eastern Europe: There we are using NATO to antagonize Russia with extending our reach into former USSR satellite states with American weapons systems aimed East. We have overthrown the leaders in the Ukraine and are moving naval elements into the eastern Mediterranean and even the Black sea.
  • Eastern Asia: We are heating up the disputes over rights in the South China Sea between China and our "allies" Vietnam, the Philippines, Indonesia and other players. With our numerous bases in Japan we continue to push against North Korea, Russia and China. 
If either Killory Hilton or Donald Drumpf get into the White House it think our State Department will be getting a green light and we will soon find ourselves fighting World War III throughout the world.

Why? Because of our fading glory? Because it's been profitable to be losing every war we've entered since World War II. Because we can't face a world where we are not NUMBER 1? Because it's all we know how to do now?

We must turn from war. Don't support the US military and the corporations that support it and impoverished us.

RIMPAC 2016 sucks!

NATO is an American Tool

SUBHEAD: To save itself from the danger of nuclear annihilation, Europe must declare its independence from America.

By John Avery on 18 June 2016 for Counter Currents -

Image above: Polish Army soldiers carry flags of countries taking part in the Anaconda-16 military exercise during the opening ceremony in Rembertow, June 6, 2016. Photo by Marek Jezierski. From (http://www.rappler.com/world/regions/europe/135599-poland-nato-kick-off-maneuvers-amid-russia-tensions).

NATO (the North Atlantic Treaty Organization) is supposed to be a defensive alliance, whose purpose is to “protect Europe from aggression”; but today it is aggressive tool of the United States. Today NATO is threatening to drive Europe into an all-destroying thermonuclear war with Russia.

In recent years, participation in NATO has made European countries accomplices in US efforts to achieve global hegemony by means of military force, in violation of international law, and especially in violation of the UN Charter, the Nuremberg Principles.

Former UN Assistant Secretary General Hans Christof von Sponeck used the following words to express his opinion that NATO now violates the UN Charter and international law: “In the 1949 North Atlantic Treaty, the Charter of the United Nations was declared to be NATO’s legally binding framework.

However, the United-Nations monopoly of the use of force, especially as specified in Article 51 of the Charter, was no longer accepted according to the 1999 NATO doctrine. NATO’s territorial scope, until then limited to the Euro-Atlantic region, was expanded by its members to include the whole world”.

At present the United States government has forced the European members of NATO to participate in aggressive operations in connection with the coup which it carried out against the elected government of Ukraine. The hubris, and reckless irresponsibility of the US government in risking a catastrophic war with Russia is almost beyond belief.

According to The Guardian, June 16, 2016, “The largest war game in eastern Europe since the end of the cold war has started in Poland, as NATO and partner countries seek to mount a display of strength as a response to concerns about Russia’s assertiveness and actions.”
“The 10-day military exercise, involving 31,000 troops and thousands of vehicles from 24 countries, has been welcomed among Nato’s allies in the region, though defence experts warn that any mishap could prompt an offensive reaction from Moscow.”
“A defence attache at a European embassy in Warsaw said the “nightmare scenario” of the exercise, named Anaconda-2016, would be 'a mishap, a miscalculation which the Russians construe, or choose to construe, as an offensive action' ”.(https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/jun/06/nato-launches-largest-war-game-in-eastern-europe-since-cold-war-anaconda-2016)
Do the people of Europe really want to participate in the madness of aggression against Russia? Of course not! What about European leaders? Why don’t they follow the will of the people and free Europe from bondage to the United States? Have our leaders been bribed? Or have they been blackmailed through personal secrets, discovered by the long arm of NSA spying?

To save itself from the danger of nuclear annihilation, Europe must declare its independence from America, just as the United States once declared its independence from Britain.

See also:


• John Avery received a B.Sc. in theoretical physics from MIT and an M.Sc. from the University of Chicago. He later studied theoretical chemistry at the University of London, and was awarded a Ph.D. there in 1965. He is now Lektor Emeritus, Associate Professor, at the Department of Chemistry, University of Copenhagen. Fellowships, memberships in societies: Since 1990 he has been the Contact Person in Denmark for Pugwash Conferences on Science and World Affairs. In 1995, this group received the Nobel Peace Prize for their efforts. He was the Member of the Danish Peace Commission of 1998. Technical Advisor, World Health Organization, Regional Office for Europe (1988- 1997). Chairman of the Danish Peace Academy, April 2004. http://www.fredsakademiet.dk/ordbog/aord/a220.htm. He can be reached at avery.john.s@gmail.com

NATO urged towards Russia

SUBHEAD:Germany urges NATO to work with Moscow and stop carrying out war games on its borders.

By Sputnik on 18 June 2016 for Global Research - 

Image above: Preparations for Anaconda-2016 taking place in Drawsko Pomorskie, north-western Poland. Photograph by Marcin Bielecki. From (https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/jun/06/nato-launches-largest-war-game-in-eastern-europe-since-cold-war-anaconda-2016).

German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier is calling for Europe, and especially NATO members, to work with Moscow and stop carrying out military exercises close to the Russian border.
Conducting military exercises close to the Russian border is no way to achieve greater security for Europe, which would be better off initiating a dialogue with Moscow, German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said on Friday.Speaking at the close of NATO’s Anaconda 16 military exercise in Poland, Steinmeier warned the alliance against saber-rattling, and urged its members to work together with Russia for the security of Europe.

What we should not do now, is inflame the situation with loud saber-rattling and war cries,” he told the German newspaper Bild am Sonntag.
"Anyone who thinks that symbolic tank parades on the Eastern border of the alliance create more security is mistaken."
The Foreign Minister said that NATO members should invest in a partnership with Russia, and gave examples where that kind of cooperation has led to progress.”The prevention of an Iranian nuclear bomb, the fight against radical Islam in the Middle East and the stabilization of the Libyan state are recent examples,” Steinmeier said.

The Anaconda 16 exercise was conducted in Poland from June 7 to June 17. It involved more than 31,000 participants from 24 countries, making it Europe’s largest military exercise since the end of the Cold War.

The exercise comes ahead of NATO’s summit in Warsaw on July 8-9, at which the alliance is expected to announce more of its military build-up in Eastern Europe.On Monday NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg informed the press about some of the undertakings that the alliance was expecting from NATO Defense Ministers at meetings last week, decisions which he said will pave the way for the Warsaw summit in July.His announcements included one concerning the establishment of eight new headquarters in Eastern Europe, and the deployment of four battalions on rotation in Poland and the Baltic states.

Stoltenberg highlighted the larger NATO Response Force and new Spearhead Force, and called for further increases in military spending from members.”Last month, the Spearhead Force conducted an exercise which showed how far we have come. One thousand troops and four hundred military vehicles moved from Spain to Poland within four days,” boasted the NATO Secretary General.

Japan's Anger is Past its Limit

SUBHEAD: Tens of thousands of Japanese rally against American military bases in Okinawa.

By Andrea Germanos on 19 June 2016 for Common Dreams -

Image above: Protesters hold placards that read "Our anger has reached its limit" during a protest rally against the presence of U.S. military bases on the southwestern island of Okinawa. Photo by Associated Press from original article.

Demonstration a reflection of years of resentment against US military footprint on island, with former Marine suspected of recent murder and rape adding fuel to fire.

Okinawa on Sunday was site of a massive protest against U.S. bases, the latest in years of demonstrations, with fresh anger fueled by the recent suspected rape and killing of a woman on the Japanese island by a former Marine.

Organizers say that 65,000 people took part in the rally in Naha, Okinawa's capital, and the Irish Times described it as "one of the biggest demonstrations in two decades against U.S. military bases."

Protesters, who also oppose a plan to relocate a Marine Corps Air Station to another part of the island, held signs reading "Murderer Marines. Out of Okinawa," and "Our anger is past its limit."

The island is home to some 30,000 U.S. military personnel, the bulk of the troops the U.S. has stationed in Japan, and local residents have blamed the forces for environmental contamination and crime, including sexual assault. Last month, former U.S. Marine Kenneth Franklin Shinzato was arrested in connection with the April murder of Rina Shimabukuro.

Okinawa Gov. Takeshi Onaga, a base opponent, was at the rally, and referenced another one of the other crimes committed by U.S. military personnel—in 1995 three U.S. servicemen raped a 12-year-old Okinawan girl.  "We had pledged never to repeat such an incident," he said.

"I couldn't change the political system to prevent that. That is my utmost regret as a politician and as governor of Okinawa," he added.

Both Onaga and Aiko Shimajiri, the minister for Okinawa, have called for a revision of the Status of Forces Agreement, which restricts Japanese authorities' abitilty to investigate some crimes by U.S. servicemen while on duty.


West & Russia on collision course

SUBHEAD: Tensions between US-NATO and Russia are flaring and a cornered bear will use its claws.

By Chris Martenson on 17 June 2016 for Peak Prosperity -

Image above: Ukrainian (pro Western European) map of attacks by "pro-Russian" forces on Ukrainian Army positions by posted on April 10 2016. From (http://lugansk-news.com/91-attacks-on-ukrainian-army-positions-in-the-last-24-hours-6-soldiers-wounded/). Click for full enlarged map.

As if there weren’t enough crises to worry about in the world already, from shooting rampages to accelerating species loss, the US and NATO continue to ‘poke the bear’ and risk an outbreak of war with Russia.

I wish this were idle speculation. But if you haven’t been paying close attention, you'll probably be shocked at just how much direct military and diplomatic provocation has been going on between US-NATO and Russia over the past several years -- and in recent weeks, in particular.

Even more shocking is that no one in power can provide us with a compelling reason for exactly why these tensions are flaring. It seems that Russia’s main sin is in not entirely, completely and immediately giving the US/NATO anything and everything they request.

In other words, it’s imperial hubris and petulance that seems to be driving the ship of state. That’s a dangerous thing.

I’ve written extensively on the dangers of war with Russia as my concerns have mounted ever since the situation in Ukraine devolved in 2014.

There have been plenty of chances to dial down the rhetoric and mend fences, but they've all come and gone without healing. In fact, as we detail below, quite the opposite has happened.

The bottom line is this: If you're not already mentally and physically prepared for the prospect of a NATO/US war with Russia, you really should be.

Perhaps the chances of outright war are still low on a relative scale, but the costs would be catastrophically high -- making this worthy of your attention. A low risk of a catastrophic outcome is the very reason we all buy insurance – life, auto, and home.  Not because we wish things to go wrong in our lives, but because they sometimes do nonetheless.

A Russian Warning

The list of aggressive provocations by NATO that have been received as belligerent acts by Russia is quite long. It stretches back several years and continues to grow rapidly, making the chance for an ‘accident’ or unplanned incident quite high.

I was impressed with a recent piece penned and signed by eight prominent writers and blogger with Russian heritage. Titled A Russian Warning, it ran on a wide variety of blogs knowledgeable about the Russian situation including Dmitry Orlov’s and The Saker’s. I encourage you to read the whole thing. Right now, if you've got the time. I can wait.

To cut to the chase, the harsh conclusion of the piece is this: If there is going to be a war with Russia, then the United States will most certainly be destroyed, and most of us will end up dead.”
Russia is, of course, a major nuclear power with a long history of surviving being attacked by outsiders. But for some reason, US/NATO military and diplomatic efforts have all been geared at further encroaching upon and/or isolating Russia.
They note:
The US leadership has done everything it could to push the situation to the brink of disaster. First, its anti-Russian policies have convinced the Russian leadership that making concessions or negotiating with the West is futile. It has become apparent that the West will always support any individual, movement or government that is anti-Russian, be it tax-cheating Russian oligarchs, convicted Ukrainian war criminals, Saudi-supported Wahhabi terrorists in Chechnya or cathedral-desecrating punks in Moscow.
Now that NATO, in violation of its previous promises, has expanded right up to the Russian border, with US forces deployed in the Baltic states, within artillery range of St. Petersburg, Russia’s second-largest city, the Russians have nowhere left to retreat. They will not attack; nor will they back down or surrender.
Imagine for a moment that Russia had positioned its military less than 100 miles from New York City and installed armored battalions with artillery. How would we in the US respond to that provocation? Probably with outrage, anger and defiance -- and rightly so. So why are we expecting Russia to act any differently?
The conclusion:
The sole reason why the USA and Russia have found themselves on a collision course, instead of defusing tensions and cooperating on a wide range of international problems, is the stubborn refusal by the US leadership to accept Russia as an equal partner: Washington is dead set on being the “world leader” and the “indispensable nation,” even as its influence steadily dwindles in the wake of a string of foreign policy and military disasters such as Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Syria, Yemen and the Ukraine.
Continued American global leadership is something that neither Russia, nor China, nor most of the other countries are willing to accept. This gradual but apparent loss of power and influence has caused the US leadership to become hysterical; and it is but a small step from hysterical to suicidal. America’s political leaders need to be placed under suicide watch.
The summary here is that Russia feels surrounded by an increasingly belligerent NATO/US military presence. It can find little common ground with diplomats from NATO generally and the US specifically. If fully backed into a corner, once it perceives it is out of other options, Russia will defend herself. I’m not sure how anybody could deny or begrudge her that right.
If the West, meaning the US and Europe, decide to further goad Russia, war is likely inevitable. (I'm leaning heavily here on the historically-dependable formula: Time + Shit Happens = Conflict).  Sooner or later, Russia will have to switch from response mode to reaction mode. I’ve written about that precition here, here and here.

The Provocations – Neocon Central

Here’s a very short and incomplete list of the provocations that have been undertaken against Russia. Again, just try to imagine what the reaction would be by the West were the roles reversed:



In return, Russia has been busy fighting its ‘isolation’ by inkling major energy deals, openly testing its nuclear weapons platforms, and railing against the double standards of the West:
You get the idea: both sides are settling into a pattern of escalating responses. The trajectory is alarming.

What's alarming is the above selection of headlines is a miniscule sampling of the possible ones I could have picked. The evidence is everywhere.

Now let’s fast forward to 2016 where things are really heating up.


The US and NATO have been putting increasing emphasis on placing more military hardware and training exercises in the Baltic and Black seas as well as the Mediterranean ocean.  In one incident, Russian jets flew within yards of a key US naval asset over and over again in a provocation that John Kerry said the US “would have been justified” in shooting those jets down.
U.S. issues formal protest to Russia over Baltic Sea incident

Apr 14, 2016
(CNN) White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest says the U.S. Embassy in Moscow has communicated formal concerns to the Russian government about the incident in the Baltic Sea this week in which fighter jets flew very close to the USS Donald Cook.
A U.S. official described the Russian maneuver as "strafing runs" without firing any weapons. The unarmed Russian aircraft swooped in over the deck in the same flight profile that would have been used if an attack was underway.
Here’s a video of that flyby:

And, no, the US would not have been justified in shooting down those Russian jets. Kerry is being clearly belligerent with that statement.

A more level response comes to us from a retired Navy commanding officer:
“Well, we’re not at war with Russia," Capt. Rick Hoffman said. "It would be one thing to be operating and have a threatening attack profile from someone who might not recognize me — that’s not the case here.”

If you have visual identification of the jet, can see it isn't carrying weapons, and don't detect any electronic emissions suggesting there was a missile lock on the ship, there's nothing to be done.

And ultimately, the rules of engagement allow the CO to take defensive action if they feel they safety of their vessel is in danger, according to U.S. European Command spokesman Capt. Danny Hernandez told Navy Times. In this case the CO did not feel threatened, he added.

"You don’t get to kill people just because they’re being annoying," said Hoffman, who commanded frigate DeWert and cruiser Hue City.
(Source – Navy Times)
Thankfully there are saner minds in the military, even if the State Department is itching for a fight.
Which brings us to the most insane head scratcher of them all.

State Department Loses Its Cool

In yesterday’s Wall Street Journal (6/16/2016) came the bizarre revelation that 51 internal State Department officials signed a document protesting Obama’s lack of direct military engagement with Assad’s government forces in Syria:
U.S. State Department Officials Call for Strikes Against Syria’s Assad
Jun 16, 2016
BEIRUT—Dozens of State Department officials this week protested against U.S. policy in Syria, signing an internal document that calls for targeted military strikes against the Damascus government and urging regime change as the only way to defeat Islamic State.
The “dissent channel cable” was signed by 51 State Department officers involved with advising on Syria policy in various capacities, according to an official familiar with the document. The Wall Street Journal reviewed a copy of the cable, which repeatedly calls for “targeted military strikes” against the Syrian government in light of the near-collapse of the ceasefire brokered earlier this year.
Now just reflect on that a moment. But as you do, be sure to recall that Russia is fighting alongside Assad’s forces. In other words, these State Department officials are asking for military action to be taken against Syria's allied forces fighting to preserve the current government’s hold on power.
In other words, there are 51 insane people (a least) in the US State Department that think attacking Russia directly would be a swell idea. All in the interest of promoting a foreign policy of regime change that has not worked out well in the Mideast countries where we've recently tried it. Iraq and Libya are unmitigated disasters, especially for the citizens left living with the aftermath.
I would certainly love to know the names of those 52 individuals. I'd bet good money that the list is heavily stocked with neocons.

Also be sure to recall that Russia moved the S400 antiaircraft missile system into Syria last year. This battery is widely respected and feared by pilots due to its enormous reach.

So not only are these State Department folks agitating for direct military engagement with Russian forces by agitating for US airstrikes against Syrian targets, they are seemingly either unaware of or uncaring about the extreme risk US pilots would face in trying such a move.
Most likely the US would lose a fair number of planes if such action was attempted. I suspect, though, that would play to the hands of the neocons at State. Dead heroes would provide exactly the sort of justification they’d need to expand the war they’ve been itching for all along.
But just in case a regular shooting war doesn't break out, NATO is busy laying the groundwork to justify one along other channels.

Expanding the Definition of “War”

Recently, NATO has expanded the definition of "war". Let’s remember that NATO exists as a collective defense treaty organization. An attack on one member country is treated an attack on all.  NATO allies are obligated to come to each other’s defense.
Here’s the language:
Collective defence - Article 5
(Last updated Mar 2016)
The principle of collective defence is at the very heart of NATO’s founding treaty. It remains a unique and enduring principle that binds its members together, committing them to protect each other and setting a spirit of solidarity within the Alliance.
  • Collective defence means that an attack against one Ally is considered as an attack against all Allies.
  • The principle of collective defence is enshrined in Article 5 of the Washington Treaty.
  • NATO invoked Article 5 for the first time in its history after the 9/11 terrorist attacks against the United States.
  • NATO has taken collective defence measures on several occasions, for instance in response to the situation in Syria and in the wake of the Russia-Ukraine crisis.
  • NATO has standing forces on active duty that contribute to the Alliance’s collective defence efforts on a permanent basis.
Now you and I might think that, if one member nation were invaded, that would meet the definition of “war”. But NATO, clearly not happy with that limitation, has recently proposed expanding that to include – get this – cyberwarfare:
NATO adds cyber to operation areas
Jun 14, 2016
BRUSSELS (AP) — NATO agreed Tuesday to make cyber operations part of its war domain, along with air, sea and land operations, and to beef up the defense of its computer networks.
NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said the decision to formally consider cyber operations a military domain is not aimed at any one country. He says the allies need to be able to better defend themselves and respond to attacks on their computer networks.
The decision has been long in coming, particularly amid rising tensions with Russia, which has proven its willingness to launch computer-based attacks against other nations.
Russian hackers have been blamed for a breach into an unclassified Pentagon computer network and for a breach of NATO's computer network two years ago.
In 2014, after years of debate, NATO finally agreed that a cyberattack could rise to the level of a military assault and could trigger the Article 5 protections, which allow the alliance to go to the collective defense of another member that has been attacked.
Got that?  Now a cyberattack could be used as justification to invoke Article V and bind everyone to engage the enemy in an actual 'boots on the ground' war.

Now that makes sense on some level. After all if a hostile nation took down your electrical grid by a cyberattack (which is entirely possible, by the way), that would be a threat to national security.
But in this world of electronic cat and mouse, creating a false-flag cyberattack that seems to originate from a hostile country could be initiated from anywhere, including the “attacked” country.  But the time all that had been sorted out, the bullets would likely have already been flying.


OK, that was a lot to read through. Thanks for persisting to this point. The punchline to it all is: War with Russia is a distinct possibility, and US and NATO are increasing that risk through escalating provocation.

Should a war break out, it could be along a variety of dimensions which are outlined in Part II below.
For now, it should be (hopefully) sufficient for you to take the threat seriously and to make whatever provisions seem prudent to you. To my European readers, such preparations seem even more necessary because you will be close to the front lines of any direct, conventional hostilities that break out.

In Part 2: How To Prepare For War, we explain how conflict can take many forms: trade wars, energy wars, financial wars, cyberwar, shooting wars, and nuclear war. We lay out in great detail the steps we, as individuals, can do to prepare for each.

And fortunately, this preparation comes with an upside: as many of these precautions will be life-enhancing steps even if -- hopefully, if -- tensions de-escalate from here.

Click here to read Part 2 of this report (free executive summary, enrollment required for full access)