Charlie Veitch at Toronto G20

SUBHEAD: Charlie Veitch bullhorns the embarrassing truth in the fascist controlled streets of Toronto. Image above: Photograph of Charlie Veitch "performing" in the streets of Toronto during G20. From article. By Staff on 30 June 2010 for - (

A man accused of impersonating a police officer has been released on $500 bail. Charlie Veitch, 29, lives in England but was in Toronto for the G20 summit. He's been described as an absurdist comedian - but police aren't laughing. “He was filming the fence area – again, these are allegations – he was filming the fence area and a security officer approached him and asked him for identification,” Const. Tony Vella said on Wednesday. “The allegations are that Mr. Veitch indicated to the security guard that he was an undercover police officer. Mr. Veitch taped the entire incident and posted it on social media. A copy was retrieved by the Toronto Police Service who conducted an investigation. “A warrant was issued for Mr. Veitch’s arrest for impersonating a police officer. He was arrested on Tuesday as he was boarding a plane to go back to England,” Vella said.

“Anytime someone poses as a police officer, we take it very seriously,” he added.

Veitch spoke to reporters when he was released on Wednesday.

"Of my six days in Toronto, I've spend 48 hours in custody," he said.

"I'm scared to say anything until I'm actually at home in Great Britain...I come from a country where you can actually hug police officers," Veitch added.

Veitch will next appear in court on August 23. Video above: Part One. From ( Video above: Part Two. From ( .

Kauai Beekeepers Meeting

SUBHEAD: KBee meeting Thursday at 6:00pm on 7/1/10 at KCC Technology Building in Puhi. Image above: Beehive photograph from Kauai Beekeepers website. By Jimmy Trujillo on 28 June 2010 for KBee - ( WHAT: The Kauai Beekeeper's Association (KBee) invites the public to attend an informational meeting. WHEN: Thursday July 1, 2010 from 6:00pm - 7:30pm WHERE: In the Technology Building at Kauai Community College. MORE INFO: Jimmy Trujillo at (808) 346 7725 Erik Coopersmith at (808) 335 0710 WEBSITE: .

Message from DOW GMO

SUBHEAD: Dow Chemical's GMO division is here. And here's their newsletter 'Kaumakani Neighbor'.

By Tom Scagnoli on 21 June 2010 for Dow AgroScience - 

Image above: Painting of 'Industrial Landscape of Dow Chemical Germany' by Olge Eggers in 1986. From (  

[IB Editor's note: Dow is the corporation that brought us Napalm and Agent Orange used to burn and deforest Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia. It the company that created the dioxin that turned the Love Canal neighborhood of New York into a ghost town. It's the company that bought out Union Carbide, the outfit that produced the Bohpal, India, chemical catastrophe. Dow is the company that's probably come to Kauai to produce pesticide resistant, genetically altered, patented seed corn. For more info on Dow, see The Truth about Dow]   

The end of 2009 was an exciting time for Dow AgroSciences. We signed a lease agreement with Gay & Robinson to preserve 3,400 acres of former Sugarcane land for agricultural use; we hired our current employee workforce From the community; we started renovations on the former Gay & Robinson machine, shop to accommodate our seed processing equipment; and we brought in equipment to the site to help prepare the fields for planting.

As we move into 2010, we have completed Phase 1 of the seed facility and have moved into Phase 2, which includes the erection of our production dryer. We are in the process of designing a new administration facility, which will include office and employee buildings, labs, and machine storage and maintenance shop.

We hope to complete this facility in the first quarter of 2011, We have also successfully harvested our first crop. In this newsletter, you will meet our new leadership team. Beyond this group of supervisors, we have filled all full-time positions and hired a great team of temporary and seasonal employees to support our seed corn production on Kauai. Our current successes would not have been possible without file tremendous dedication, commitment and hard work of this amazing team. Thank you!

As the newest members in the community we feel it is extremely important to update our neighbors of the exciting developments happening on our farm, We are committed to being good stewards of the land, promoting local jobs and being a long-term contributor to the island community. We look forward to working with all of you and thank you for making us feel welcome, we are proud to call Kauai home.  

A New Neighbor in Town
Hawaii's agricultural history is rich and deeply embedded within our local culture, from Native Hawaiian farming to the sugar plantations in the 1800s. More recently, the agricultural industry has experienced broad changes in Hawaii and abroad, with the effects of an ever-changing global marketplace.

Companies like Dow AgroSciences LLC have made the long-term strategic decision to expand their business operations in Hawaii. In today's sluggish economy, agricultural expansion in Hawaii benefits the community through increased job opportunities and boosting the local economy. On April 28, 2009, Dow AgroSciences, locally known as its seed affiliate Mycogen Seeds on Molokai, announced that it signed an agreement with Gay & Robinson Inc. (G&R) to lease land for agricultural use on the west side of Kauai.

A member of the state's seed community, Dow AgroSciences will play a growing role in the agricultural industry by contributing to the local economy through purchasing equipment and supplies from local businesses, such as American Machinery, Allied Machinery and Kauai Commercial Co. These partnerships provide a boost to the local economy while supporting the community as a whole.

A contributor to Hawaii agricultural industry for more than 50 years through its products, Dow AgroSciences has been operating on Molokai since 2000, building a strong and lasting relationship with the Molokai community, The company contributes and participates in school fundraisers and community service projects and sponsors nonprofit activities, which will now also include the Kauai community, helping to make, Kauai a better place to live, work and play.

Dow AgroSciences is committed to maintaining Kauai's iconic, undeveloped landscape, by keeping the land in agricultural use - all while supporting economic stability as a nontourism-based source of revenue. "We are committed to the Kauai community and will continue the good land stewardship that G&R has demonstrated over the past decades," says Tom Scagnoli, Kauai site leader.

 In addition, Dow AgroSciences will be training a skilled workforce for corn production. With the new seed corn operation on Kauai the company already has hired, 69 full-time, part-time and seasonal employees from the community, many of whom were former G&R employees. According to Hawaii's Agricultural Statistics Service, the Hawaii seed industry generates $167 million in economic activity annually, which translates to $53 million in annual labor income, providing for more than 2,000 jobs. Randy Francisco, president of the Kauai Chamber of Commerce has said: "As a Community we need to support businesses, such as Dow AgroSciences, for they will positively contribute to Kauai's economic and workforce development for many years to come."  

Dow AgroSciences Connects with the Community
In the past month, representatives from Dow AgroSciences took part in three community events right here on the Garden Isle. A leader in agricultural biotechnology, Dow AgroSciences' mission oil the islands is to be a good steward of the land (and to contribute to the, community.

One way we, accomplish this goal is by supporting our youth's interest in science. Gen O/Alternative Crop Coordinator Mark Swanson recently served as a judge at the Kauai District Regional Science Olympiad. "The science Olympiad was a great experience and the science projects were amazing and very hard to judge," lie says. "It was also a lot of fun interacting with the juniors and seniors of the high schools of the island."

"The biggest part of the science Olympiad is that our Kauai students get a chance to showcase their academic achievements," says Barbara Baker of the Kauai District Regional Science Olympiad, "An even bigger part is the additional learning they gain from the judges as experts in the scientific fields." Swanson and plant coordinator Keith Horton also attended the Kauai District Regional Science Olympiad. This opportunity allowed them to reinforce the importance of science to Kauai's youngsters.

 In addition to being a major sponsor of the science Olymipiad, Dow AgroSciences volunteers manned booths at the 331d Annual Waimea Town Celebration. The two-day festival is fun in the country with a paniolo challenge., ukulele competition, lei contest, and lots of delicious food.  

Dow Chemical GMO Leadership Corner
We would like to introduce the dynamic team behind tile Dow AgroSciences operation in Kaumakani. If you see any of these friendly faces around town be sure to greet them with a warm aloha.  

Tom Scagnoli, Site Operations Loader
With eight years in the seed corn industry working in Michigan, Iowa , and in Hawaii, Tom is responsible for overall management and leadership of the site field plant operations. Tom enjoys spending time with his wife, Jennifer, 21-month-old son, Cale, and newborn daughter Nalia. He loves the outdoors and sports, especially golf, baseball, swimming and basketball.  

Robin Robinson, Farm Manager
Farm manager Robin Robinson comes to Dow AgroSciences with more thin 25 years of experience in the agricultural industry. He oversees daily operations of the farm, including agronomic and equipment management, oversight of planting and harvest, and irrigation system development and site resourcing.  

Randy Yokoyama, Field Coordinator (formerly of Monsanto Kauai)
Bringing 15 years of valuable experience to the team, Randy is responsible for of parent seed crops and timely delivery of seed supplies to customers globally. The New Jersey native spends his free time with his wife, Suzie, and their kids, Braeden and Kona.  

Keith Horton, Plant Coordinator
Keith leads the Kauai farm in the management and oversight of file. production plant facilities. A true outdoorsman Keith loves OC-1 paddling, surfing, camping and hiking. In fact, lie hiked the Kalalau trail barefoot. Naturally, this North Carolina State, University graduate's favorite team is tire NCSU Wolfpack.

Mark Swanson, Gen O/Alternative Crop Coordinator
Mark leads alternative crop production for the site. He comes to us via Illinois, hence his favorite spoils teams hail from Chicago. He lived on Molokai for two years until joining the team in Kauai and, in his spare time, he enjoys driving his Camaro.  

Jennifer Scagnoli, Field Research Biologist III
Leading file research and development sector of the Kauai operations is Jennifer Scagnoli. As a field research biologist, Jennifer is responsible for diverse research projects on the farm. She and husband, site operations leader Torn Scagnoli, welcomed their second child in February.

 Darlene Hobbs, Environmental Health & Safety (EH&S)
Specialist Darlene leads safety oversight for both Kauai and Molokai site operations, and is working to connect safety programs on both islands. A proud mother of three sons and grandmother to 4-year-old Brayden and 3-year-old Brielle, Darlene likes to spend her free time with family and friends, getting a workout at the gym and taking belly dancing.  

Terri Matsuoka, Administrative Assistant
Terri provides valuable support to the leadership team in the main office, working on a variety of projects. In her spare time, you can find her hanging out with her family and friends, and enjoying the sunset at Kukuiula Harbor.

 [IB Editor's note: We attempted to contact Dow's Kauai office (808-335-5081) listed in the phone book. There was no answer or message at the number. What we've learned from other GMO operations leads us to believe that Dow AgroScience will not do is help free food production from the petro-chemical industry we are addicted to. 

They will not help feed the world or even feed Kauai. Kauai's sugarcane lands have been deforested and the topsoil has been destroyed and contaminated. We need to restore our soil, grasslands and forests. We need to produce ten times as much local food as we do today to survive here after petro-collapse. We do not want Dow on Kauai. Dow is a chemical company, not a food producer.] 

See also: 
Ea O Ka Aina: Dow's Toxic History 6/30/10


Your Home Town

SUBHEAD: A poverty is descending on us. In places likeWhimberley, Texas, they know it better than those in other places. Image above: Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band in front of the abandoned Coffee Cup Cafe in Pauls Valley, Oklahoma on September 17th, 1975. From ( By Ilargi on 28 June 2020 on the automatic Earth - ( President Obama said during the G-20 meeting in Toronto, where he was told to take a hike by European leaders, that both he and British prime minister David Cameron:
"... are aiming at the same direction, which is long-term sustainable growth that puts people to work..."
Somewhat curious, since his Vice President, Joe Biden, said a few days ago that
"...there's no possibility to restore 8 million jobs lost in the Great Recession."
Looks a lot as if the nonsense now starts to contradict itself. Perhaps we shouldn't expect anything else. Biden then added that there is:
" way to regenerate $3 trillion that was lost. Not misplaced, lost."
Don’t know what the Pennsylvania Avenue spin team thinks of Biden's remarks, but they do sound just about right to me, and a lot less hollow than Obama's empty fluff. Biden made me think of Springsteen's My Hometown (see video below), which has this verse:
Now main street's whitewashed windows and vacant stores, Seems like there ain't nobody wants to come down here no more. They're closing down the textile mill across the railroad tracks. Foreman says these jobs are going boys and they ain’t coming back. To your hometown, your hometown, your hometown.
Video above: Bruce Springsteen sings "My Hometown" live in NYC. From ( That sounds to me like a remarkably accurate portrait of much of America in a few years time. And Britain. And the rest of Europe. The talk in the press has shifted towards debt, debt and more debt. And austerity. Whether Obama and the rest of the Keynes religion like it or not. Ambrose Evans-Pritchard writes about an RBS note to its clients that warns of money printing by Bernanke. He says:
"America is one twist shy of a debt-deflation trap."
Ambrose is right there. But he's dead wrong in his subsequent remarks:
"There is no doubt that the Fed has the tools to stop this".
Oh, believe me, Ambrose, there's plenty doubt.
"Sufficient injections of money will ultimately always reverse a deflation," said Bernanke.
Bernanke may say what he wants, but that doesn't make him right. We are in the beginning phase of a debt deflation. And if you want to talk about ultimately, then I’ll give you this one: ultimately debt cannot be repaid with more debt. Haven't the past two years of failing policies taught these people anything? The Fed balance sheet stands at record highs, and bloating it even more will solve the problems? What is it with these folks? It's not as if Ambrose doesn't have the data:
"The ECRI leading indicator produced by the Economic Cycle Research Institute plummeted yet again last week to -6.9, pointing to contraction in the US by the end of the year. It is dropping faster that at any time in the post-War era." The latest data from the CPB Netherlands Bureau shows that world trade slid 1.7% in May, with the biggest fall in Asia. The Baltic Dry Index measuring freight rates on bulk goods has dropped 40% in a month."
No, the debt deflation must and will run its course, and Bernanke is devastatingly powerless to do anything about it. Not that he will ever admit it, even if he knew. But it's like having your local weatherman believe he controls the climate. $2,5 trillion hasn't done the trick, and neither will $5 trillion. Money velocity is way down and so is M3 broad money supply. How would Bernanke turn that around? The money simply isn't going anywhere. Except into a deep dark void. It's disappearing faster than Bernanke can print. Once the deflation has run its ugly course, and it will be horrendous, printing presses may cause inflation, and given the level of ass-clowniness among economists it's highly likely that they’ll pick such a course. They've never seen a crisis they couldn't make worse. But I’ll bet you ten to one that by then Bernanke won't be in office anymore.
Recession in Whimberly Texas Video above: Automatic Earth Tribute by Captain Sheeple. From ( By Richard Parker on 28 June 2010 in The Automatic Earth - I’m going to post an article I happenstanced upon today sort of like an extra intro. I don't often do that, but this piece by Texan journalist Richard Parker struck a special chord. And since it brought Joe Bageant to mind, and Joe just posted a new piece, I’ll close today’s TAE with that. The grass in the pasture stands tall. Throughout the spring, bluebonnets, Indian paint brushes and black-eyed Susans waved from the roadside. The Blanco River runs clear and full now, and the tourists return to the town square. A wet winter and cold spring have broken the grip of a two-year drought in Texas. But this plenty camouflages a drought of another sort: the economic one. Texas was slow to be swept up by the Great Recession. But now its pain has come home to big cities and small towns, as the lagging effects of the recession batter the ranchers, storekeepers and families who all withstood — until now. While Washington's fury is directed toward the Gulf oil gusher, it has largely lost sight of the recession. Yet Congress continues to weigh financial reform, and it would do well to remember the human cost of the Great Recession, triggered by the titans of Wall Street but borne heavily by everyday people. Since the crisis began and through the first quarter of this year, more than $2 trillion in mutual funds have been wiped out, 4.5 million homes have gone into foreclosure and 6.8 million jobs have been lost. With its art, eclectic character and natural beauty ours is one of the best little towns in the nation to visit; it says so right in the pages of The New York Times and Travel Holiday Magazine. But for those of us who live here, a quiet crisis whispers of impending poverty. A merchant confides he can't take another year like the last two. A Mexican stonemason tells me that a single project tided his family through winter. A Realtor relays that all over town, people who never took a mortgage they couldn't afford are looking to give up, sell out and move on. The alternative is tallied and cataloged at the stately 102-year old, brick-and-limestone county courthouse over in San Marcos. Jack Hays, for whom this county was named, was a living legend for his exploits as a Texas Ranger, namely for fighting the Comanche. Today, people are losing their homes not to raiding parties but to banks. There were 157 up for auction in April alone. For 15 withering months there have been 100 or more, according to the San Marcos Daily Record. It cites George Roddy, whose company dutifully counts all of them: "This foreclosure storm is far from over." The list carries the names of familiar ranches, springs and creeks. Yet the tale of Hays County is, sadly, more emblematic than unique in the vast landscape that stretches westward beyond the Hudson and the Potomac. Up in Austin, $6.5 billion in real estate value has been wiped out as if by a tornado. The resultant cuts in money for teachers, cops and services in the city are likely just around the corner. In Austin and elsewhere, the conservative cultural boosterism of Texas initially downplayed the recession. Heir to George W. Bush's original political office and many of his finest traditions, Republican Gov. Rick Perry quipped of the recession in 2009, "We're in one?" It was his so-far-overlooked Katrina moment as time proved that bravado as prematurely false as that of his predecessor. "Texas has been hit much harder by the 2008-09 recession than previous ones," according to the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas. Starting with a 6.1 percent unemployment rate at the beginning of the crisis, the job market fell throughout last year to end 2009 at an 8.2 percent unemployment rate. This year, manufacturing orders picked up, but the job creation rate stood stubbornly at zero in the first quarter. Today in Texas, one in five people struggle to feed themselves and one in five children live in poverty, according to the Center for Public Policy Priorities in Austin, founded by Benedictine nuns. Perhaps Perry's economic prowess will trail him out of the state like a coyote when he seeks the presidency. However, this is not a Texas story but an American one, told in fiscal crises that stretch from California to Illinois, from Alabama to New York. It is in Washington where the Great Recession will be justly dealt with — or not. Realistically, after all, Congress and the regulators have assiduously polished their reputations as hand-maidens of the banks at least since the repeal of Glass-Steagall in 1999. It doesn't take an expert to understand that much of the legislation in Congress is mere cover for the politicians and the big banks. It isn't designed to redress the latest crisis or stop the next one. It puts matters in the hands of regulators who consistently failed, to, well, regulate. Regardless of party, the politicians will let the big banks go on gambling with other people's money. The only real solution is to reinstate Glass-Steagall and break up the big banks. Only one senator, Democrat Ted Kaufman of Delaware, railed for that and against something dressed up in the Orwellian costume of "reform." Back here in Texas, when European settlers first came to the Hill Country they pushed ever deeper, establishing ranches, farms and homesteads because those early wet years made the land lush, green and inviting. When the Comanche came they scared some settlers. But when the droughts came, revealing a harsh, arid landscape clinging to hard-scrabble rock, it forced the hands of far more. I have taken what I have left and squirreled it away in a small Hill Country bank. But I, too, have to face the inevitable: I ask my 16-year old, Olivia, what she thinks about selling our little place high in the oaks and cedars over the Blanco. She looks at her sister, Isabel, and reflects, then replies: "We've made a lot of good memories here." I nod. So we have. So I will wait until, or unless, this drought forces my hand, too. .

Facebook closes & reopens "Boycott BP"

SUBHEAD: Facebook closes "Boycott BP", leaving almost 800,000 fans hanging. Then it's reopened. Image above: Mashup by Juan Wilson of BP logo. From ( By YadaYadaTwin on 28 June 2010 in iReport - ( As recently as 30 minutes ago, Facebook has removed the main "Boycott BP" from it's page. With it, it leave almost 800,000 fans hanging. This group was created with the intent of sending a clear and strong message to BP and to Washington that what has happened in the Gulf has to stop everywhere. People from all over the world shared video clips, pictures, and frustration over what has been seen incredibly slow process to an ever growing economic and environmental disaster. Boycott BP and it's creator, Lee Perkins, have been focused in several interviews recently, one of which was done with Diane Sawyer. To say he has made a large impact in a short amount of time is an understatement. The question is: Why did Facebook suddenly take down the site? Some will call it a media black out of what is really happening down here in the Gulf. Some might say he was doing more harm than good given the fact that the Boycotting of BP was actually beginning to take hold if you judge by some of the photos and videos being posted of station owners either changing to a new brand, or closing altogether. Whichever way you look at it, the voices of the people were being heard in a most unique and powerful way. We felt we were making a difference. If we were not, then why the sudden removal of the page? UPDATE: Lee Perkins has put a new Facebook Page here: His Quote: "Boycott bp/ARCO I can't believe they shut us down with no explanation. I could not even say goodbye to my friends. We must have been doing something right. Calling the media now. is up and running. -- Bayou Lee"
Facebook Disabled The Massively Popular Boycott BP Page 'In Error' By Robin Wauters on 29 June 2010 for - ( This morning, there was some ruckus on the Web when Facebook seemingly flat out deleted the Boycott BP page, which has amassed some 734,000 ‘fans’ on the social network so far. The message spread quickly, with posts going up on CNN’s citizen journalism project iReport and Desmond Perkins, who set up the Boycott BP page, alleging that Facebook singled him and members of his family out to silence him on the site via his own website and Twitter account. Perkins promptly set up a new Facebook page, which grew to just south of 10,000 users in half a day. About 9 hours after its removal, Facebook reinstated the page, which is used by a vocal group of users to vent their feelings and share information and opinions regarding the oil spill and the way BP is handling (or rather, not handling) the tragic situation. Following multiple reports on the Web about the mysterious apparent removal of the page and its return, we contacted Facebook to learn what happened exactly. Moments ago, the company provided us with an official statement on the matter, which remains quite vague but at least acknowledges there was no malicious intent involved, let alone a conscious decision by someone at Facebook to shut the page down: “The admin profile of the Boycott BP Page was disabled by our automated systems therefore removing all the content that had been created by the profile. After a manual review we determined the profile was removed in error and it has now been restored along with the Page.” Asked what triggered the automated systems to flag said profile in the first place, Facebook declined to go into detail because it fears people knowing about how their systems work will “weaken their effectiveness”. Either way, Perkins and the 734,000+ who are keen on showing their dislike for BP on Facebook can rest assured they were not intentionally marked for silencing. It was a systems failure – rather ironic of course considering the reason why this page was set up in the first place.
The day before the attempted "Boycott BP" shutdown, the following was in the news: Frustrated stations want BP help By Harry R. Weber on 27 June 2010 for Associated Press - ( Tension is mounting between BP and the neighborhood retailers that sell its gasoline. As more Americans shun BP gasoline as a form of protest over the Gulf oil spill, station owners are insisting BP do more to help them convince motorists that such boycotts mostly hurt independently owned businesses, not the British oil giant. To win back customers, they'd like the company's help in reducing the price at the pump. BP owns just a fraction of the more than 11,000 stations across the U.S. that sell its fuel under the BP, Amoco and ARCO banners. Most are owned by local businessmen whose primary connection to the oil company is the logo and a contract to buy gasoline. In recent weeks, some station owners from Georgia to Illinois say sales have declined as much as 10 percent to 40 percent. Station owners and BP gas distributors told BP officials last week they need a break on the cost of the gas they buy, and they want help paying for more advertising aimed at motorists, according to John Kleine, executive director of the independent BP Amoco Marketers Association. The station owners, who earn more from sales of soda and snacks than on gasoline, also want more frequent meetings with BP officials. "They have got to be more competitive on their fuel costs to the retailers so we can be competitive on the street ... and bring back customers that we've lost," says Bob Juckniess, who has seen sales drop 20 percent at some of his 10 BP-branded stations in the Chicago area. Owners and distributors put forth their demands at a meeting in Chicago with BP marketing officials. BP's reply could come as early as this week, says Kleine, whose group represents hundreds of distributors. Station owners are locked into contracts that can last seven to 10 years in some cases. So, switching to a competing brand if BP refuses to help may not be an option. BP spokesman Scott Dean declined to offer specifics about the discussions when contacted by The Associated Press. "BP is in daily contact with its independent distributors and franchisees and helping them manage the impacts the oil spill is having on their businesses," he said. Gasoline retailing trade groups say the boycott's impact isn't only evident in southern states such as Florida, Georgia and Tennessee, but also in places further from the spill like southern Pennsylvania. Jim Smith, president and CEO of the Florida Petroleum Marketers & Convenience Store Association, said BP has given some station owners a one-cent-per-gallon discount, which "doesn't amount to much." Kleine told AP the discount appears limited to Florida. He declined to give the size of the discount that was requested at the Chicago meeting. Websites and Facebook pages advocating a BP boycott popped up soon after oil started spewing into the Gulf in late April... .

Rodan attacks Main Street

SUBHEAD: Main Street will never again be held responsible for Wall Street's mistakes... Just this one time. Image above: Detail of poster for German release of 1958 movie "Rodan". From ( By James Kunstler on 28 June 2010 in - ( I think America missed something. It must be the time of year, what with inhaling all those fumes from the charcoal starter... and fueling up the Jet-skis so as to turn a perfectly good mountain lake into something like a Cuisinart on the guacamole setting... and the rousing evenings in the Nascar parking lots hitting palmetto bugs with your wiffle bat... and all that anxious waiting for a 10W-40 hard rain to fall on the Gulf Coast states - but President Obama made a very interesting remark when the financial regulation package passed in the senate the other day. He said the bill would make sure that
"Main Street is never again held responsible for Wall Street's mistakes." Whoosh....
That was the sound of something going over America's head. Something about the size of Rodan the Flying Reptile. And frankly I don't think the president even meant to be coy or deceptive. It just means he doesn't get it either. Never again....
Never again?
What the fuck?
Why even this time? Why isn't there an army of federal attorneys out there, their teeth bristling with subpoenas, beating the bushes in every lane and skyscraper floor of lower Manhattan (and Fairfield County, Connecticut, not to mention a thousand office parks around the USA) to roust out the grifters and swindlers who took Main Street to the cleaners this time.
The audacity of cluelessness! And the hilarity of "next time."
Earth to President Obama: there isn't going to be a next time. This time was enough to git 'er done. Wall Street - in particular the biggest "banks" - packaged up and sold enough swindles to unwind 2500 years of western civilization. You simply cannot imagine the amount of bad financial paper out there right now in every vault and portfolio on the planet. Enough, really, to sink any company even pretending to trade in things more abstract than a mud brick or an hour of labor. What's more, the cross-collateralized obligations between them are so vast and intricate that all the standing timber in North America could not be fashioned into enough pick-up sticks to represent the hideous death-dealing tangle of frauds waiting for the wing-beat of a single black swan to come crashing down.
Go out and get a copy of Michael Lewis's recent book The Big Short for a close-up view on one micro-corner of the investment world. You will discover that the people fabricating things like synthetic collateralized debt obligations (CDOs) had no idea what the fuck they were doing - besides deliberately creating documents that nobody would ever understand, that would never be unraveled by teams of law clerks or secret words or magic incantations or prayers to some dark hirsute deity, and were guaranteed to place in jeopardy every operation of the world economy above the barter level. Sorry to invoke the hoary old metaphor about the horse being out of the barn - but the larger problem is what the horse left behind in a great steaming mound clear up to the rafters. There was nothing to understand in all this crap, except that betting against it was a good idea, and then only for those who placed the earliest bets - because everybody else is going to get just as screwed as those who stuffed their vaults and portfolios with Triple-A rated horseshit.
What banks and governments have been doing for the past eighteen months is a dumbshow meant to distract the public from the fact that the world financial system has been effectively destroyed. There isn't enough money left in the known reaches of the universe to pay off the outstanding claims. In fact, not even close. Everything that proceeds from this fiasco will be in service of impoverishing most of the population and, incidentally, probably bringing down governments and, with them, convenient social usufructs such as due process of law and civil order. What remains - what you're watching right now on CNN or Fox - is just a representation of the former structures of civilized life, what Joe Bageant refers to as "the hologram," a kind of 3-D picture you can see around, that looks like reality, but is actually immaterial, a collective hallucination. It's comfortable living in a hologram - until you discover that you're in one.
In the summertime, when there are weenies to grill and Jet-skis to commit suicide on, the public is usually having too much fun to pay attention to anything. Maybe this is how come summertime is also when lots of bad shit happens, or gets ready to happen. The guns of August... blitzkrieg... 9-11... the death of Lehman Brothers....
A few other social notes this week: Something else the public (and, of course, the news media) missed in the General McChrystal affair. It wasn't just that the general badmouthed his civilian superiors. It was that he was not the other thing that an army officer should be: a gentleman. He was a lout who reveled in everything lowest in his own culture. He was a man so disturbed by having to spend a night in Paris at a good restaurant with civilized people that it seems to have driven him plumb batshit. General George Patton - a man renowned for his own profane intemperance - would have boxed Stanley McChrystal's ears for his sheer childishness and assigned him to Graves Registration. When the USA falls apart in a few years, let's hope General McChrystal doesn't ride over the horizon on a white horse with an army of Af-stan vets flexing their neck tattoos behind him.
Oh, and something else: notice that the Deepwater Horizon oil gusher has vanished from the front pages of The New York Times and even The Huffington Post. Nobody gives a shit anymore. Bring it on. .

BP = Begin Petrocollapse

SUBHEAD: An interruption in world oil flow will likely mean the end of the USA as we know it. Certainly the end for the one seen in Washington DC. Image above: BP was right about one thing. They are Beyond Petroleum. Mashup of BP sign mashed up by Juan Wilson. From ( By Jan Lundberg on 25 June 2010 in Culture Change - ( The unsustainable U.S. economy and coast-to-coast consumer society that uses more oil than any other nation will keep up its energy gluttony until supplies give out. Because oil is the most critical part of our energy mix, and it supplies critical materials and chemicals besides fuels, a sudden, crippling oil shortage can paralyze most of the work, commerce and law enforcement going on in this country. Activities such as driving to church or to the beach to clean oil off dying birds will also mostly cease virtually overnight. How this can happen is simple: The next major geopolitical event in a prime oil-exporting region that cuts off ten per cent or more of the world's oil market will be too great an obstacle to surmount. Strained and fast-dwindling are the reserves of easy-to-extract and light, low-sulfur crude oil. As we have seen since the BP well blowout of April 20, 2010, there are inevitable complications with oil extraction from extreme environments, with unacceptable costs that add great strain to business-as-usual energy production. No more oil, no more government? Massive oil dependence, decade after decade -- as environmental, fiscal and military costs mount -- has retarded more than encouraged renewable energy as well as efficient lifestyles. Unchecked oil dependence, along with U.S. imperialism and devastating exploitation of nature, has generated a wide assortment of people inside and outside the U.S. wishing the U.S. government to just go away. The idea of toppling the U.S. government has much appeal to a small minority of frustrated or rebellious minded people throughout the country, but they have very little power, have no autonomous territory, and are not a military factor. This helps ensure that the U.S. will probably not topple as long as it has more oil than tea. But the government will collapse, probably sooner rather than later due to intensifying global, domestic and ecological pressures. So what will the no-more-oil transformation look like? Exactly when it will come is unknown, but preparation is already happening on a small scale. Citizens involved in this work are part of a humanitarian movement and are often environmentalists as well. They are up against denial, fear and unstoppable forces of collapse, but these citizens continue to serve their communities and enrich themselves with knowledge and skills. There are and will be some violent, selfish people preparing for post-collapse marauding. That approach has no long-term future simply because community security through cooperation is the historically proven first recourse of societies under internal or external threat. After the chaos of broken down systems already teetering today -- both infrastructure and social -- reorganizing locally will be the only game in town. Small distances will become great, in effect, as walking, pedal power and sailing take much more time than oil-driven transport. But we will have more time. Work will become community oriented, or else food and water will not be assured. To make the case that oil's disappearance means the end of the U.S.A. as we know it, particularly central government in Washington, D.C., let us refer to prior Culture Change articles (referenced below) and consider just a few points:
• Huge bureaucracies are slow enough without political interference from the top. • Hurricanes Katrina and Rita were strictly regional, but relief came slowly and inefficiently. The positive difference was made largely from grassroots groups such as Common Ground and Food Not Bombs. • The U.S. is no more prepared for functioning without oil than the average citizen is: hardly at all. • On the street level, in a riot situation, controlling the populace cannot go on more than a few days if the police, soldiers or firemen are severely stressed. Studies show they must go home to their own families to safeguard essential securirty. Congressman Roscoe Bartlett brought this up to me in 2005.
Supply-Siders Painted Green What of “clean energy?” It can be established with certainty only on a decentralized basis, especially as trucks won't be bringing components from far away for much longer. Rare earths from China or lithium from Bolivia will be problematical. Coltan from the Congo, contributing to bloodshed, war and the near extinction of remaining gorillas, may suddenly lose its market. The supply-siders of today are not just relics of fossil fuel industries exalted by Ronald Reagan, whose legacy is the 1980s' rejection of 1970s' conservation and appropriate-tech development. Many of today's supply-siders wear green hats, and sincerely hate fossil fuels. However, if satisfying demand is the goal, then one is a supply-sider, green or carbon black. The clean-energy supply-siders respond to the global warming crisis and the Gulf oil gusher disaster with their rallying cry, "Energy can be so clean!" But energy today is basically a totally polluting enterprise, and we live in the present, while greenhouse gases rapidly accumulate. Nevertheless, as the leak in the bottom of our collective boat gets bigger, still the green supply-siders point to future action: "Energy can be so clean!" What about slashing energy use now to save the planet, without waiting for a technological transformation? Oh no, the priority of almost all funded nonprofit environmental groups is to reach out to the public with an imagined clean-energy economy somwhere down the road. Since when do environmentalists stand for a future economy instead of tackling the present menace? This is the difference between grassroots environmentalism of the 1970s and '80s and what has prevailed since the early '90s onward. BP = Begin Petrocollapse What if the reverberations from the Gulf oil gusher kick off socioeconomic troubles in the U.S. beyond the Gulf of Mexico? When the regional economy's falling spending fails to support the surrounding businesses in Louisiana and the Gulf Coast, and the oil slick hurts Florida's economy as the damage moves north along the East Coast, the additional recessionary influence may be stronger than both the stimulus money and consumer spending that many count on. If oil prices are simultaneously high, and deficit spending reaches its limit, we could well see collapse take hold. Rather than from a geopolitical oil supply crunch, petrocollapse might flow from the BP debacle in the Gulf. Many changes for the better can result from the terrible dislocations caused by petrocollapse, but to maximize the positive it would help if much more public discussion and planning happened -- whether one is a flag-waving anti-immigration Republican or a pagan member of a Unitarian fellowship. We’re all in the same boat, and can see the oil slick and smell the methane escaping. Video above: Jan Lunborg interview on "Peak Moment" in 2008. From ( .

Isle Ethanol Efforts Stall

SUBHEAD: The two surviving ventures in Hawaii face high hurdles. Image above: The Kaumakani Sugar Mill was once to be an ethanol plant. Dow AgroScience has leased the Gay & Robinson fields here for GMO seed corn experiments. Photo by Juan Wilson. By Alan Yonan Jr. on 27 June 2010 in Star Advertiser - (

Ask just about anyone involved in the effort to start a home-grown ethanol industry in Hawaii and invariably the word "challenging" comes up.

Challenging, it turns out, is an understatement.

Four years ago companies were lining up to build ethanol production facilities in Hawaii after the state launched a program that offered generous tax credits and set a mandate that most gasoline sold in the state must contain 10 percent of the renewable fuel. Soaring ethanol prices, which hit a record $4.23 a gallon in the summer of 2006, also spurred interest. On the mainland, dozens of corn-based ethanol plants sprouted up across the Great Plains.

In Hawaii, meanwhile, plans were moving forward to erect ethanol plants that would mostly use sugar cane or sugar cane byproducts as a feedstock. Before any of the companies could get their permits approved, however, the price of ethanol collapsed, falling as low as $1.40 a gallon in late 2008. In addition to falling prices, difficulty in securing land to grow feedstocks and dwindling investor interest have made it difficult to get any new processing facilities up and running.

There were plans in recent years to build at least six plants in Hawaii to produce ethanol, an alcohol-based renewable fuel that can be made from a variety of organic materials, including sugar cane. Of the original six that were planned, only two are still on the books, and neither has a target date to begin construction.

The one venture that appears closest to launching is Pacific West Energy LLC, but the Kauai-based project still faces a number of hurdles, including finding enough acreage to grow crops to be used as feedstock. State Energy Administrator Ted Peck said Pacific West represents the state's best chance to jump-start a local ethanol industry.

"Point of fact is that we need ethanol, and right now we're not able to grow the feedstock locally. If Pac West is able to execute its business plan, it will change that," Peck said.

In a move partly aimed at weaning Hawaii off of foreign oil, the state, on April 1, 2006, began requiring 85 percent of the gasoline sold here include 10 percent ethanol.

In addition to guaranteeing ethanol producers a market of at least 40 million gallons a year, the state also offered them a tax credit that would cover 100 percent of their construction costs. The mandate also was supposed to generate more than $100 million in manufacturing plants and create 700 jobs.

The ethanol mandate did succeed in cutting Hawaii's dependence on foreign oil imports but replaced it with a dependence on foreign ethanol imports - which amounted to about 45 million gallons last year. Most of the imported ethanol was sugar cane-based fuel from Central and South America, as well as the Caribbean. Shipments of corn-based ethanol from the mainland began picking up this year because falling prices have made the product more competitive with foreign imports.

For Pacific West Energy the twists and turns of the ethanol market have forced it to delay construction several times and refine its business plan. Pacific West initially hoped to break ground on the 12-million-gallon-a-year plant in the summer of 2007 but never got the necessary permits.

The company then suffered a major setback in 2008 when an agreement collapsed that would have allowed it to lease sugar cane land owned by Gay & Robinson and retrofit the former sugar cane producer's mill in Kaumakani to process the cane. Gay & Robinson broke the agreement and later signed deals to lease large chunks of its land to Dow Agrosciences and Pioneer Hi-Bred to grow seed corn.

Pacific West has been working since then to find new landowners to partner with. It is in talks with the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands, the Department of Land and Natural Resources and the state Agribusiness Development Corp., said William Maloney, company president. Pacific West will need to secure at least 10,000 acres to make its operation viable, he said.

"The project is progressing slowly but surely," Maloney said. "We're hoping within the next month or two to have some tangible results to announce."

In addition to producing ethanol, Pacific West is looking into constructing a power plant that would use biomass materials, such as trees, grass and sugar cane waste, to generate electricity. Pacific West has signed a preliminary agreement with the Kauai Island Utility Cooperative for a 20-megawatt biomass-to-energy project with a target completion date of April 2012.

Maloney said the power plant would allow Pacific West to generate income while it pursues its ethanol plans. A site has been chosen for the power plant, and Pacific West hopes to have a lease signed "within the next couple of months," Maloney said.

"The ethanol plans could trail by three months, six months or a year," he added.

However, KIUC said it is holding off on completing a power purchase agreement to buy electricity from the power plant until Pacific West can show that it has enough land to make the project feasible, said Steve Rymsha, KIUC's staff engineer in charge of renewable energy.

The only other active plans in Hawaii to build an ethanol-processing facility are being carried out by Oahu Ethanol Corp., which wants to build at 15-million-gallon-a-year facility at Campbell Industrial Park.

The company's president, Daniel KenKnight, did not return calls seeking comment.


Toronto G20 Videos

SUBHEAD: A collection of videos from Toronto gathering of world leaders. It's scary when these guys get together. Image above: Toronto SEAT teams on bikes prepare for confronting G20 protesters. From article. By Lloyd Alter on 25 June 2010 in - ( I find this picture in BlogTO by Ronnie Yip to be extraordinary; The Ontario Coalition Against Poverty, a well-known group of rabble-rousers is preparing to march, and the police are out in force. But unlike the Battle of Seattle, the police are out to meet them, not in head-to-toe riot gear but on bikes! In shorts! Only in Canada could a police state look so civilized. Videos selected by Brad Parsons on 27 June 2010 - Before: During: More During: More During: More During: After:

Hands Across the Sand Westside

SUBHEAD: US military intelligence come out in numbers to witness prayer for Gulf Coast Oil Disaster.

By Juan Wilson on 27 June 2010 for Island Breath -

Image above: Early stages of Salt Pond Beach "Hands across the Sands" vigil. All photos by Juan Wilson.  

Yesterday, June 26th, marked a worldwide prayer vigil in observance of the ongoing Gulf of Mexico BP oil disaster. When the event was planned, those interested in participating on Kauai had the option of joining hands at Hanalei Beach or Lydgate State Park.

My wife, Linda Pascatore, and I decided a few days before the event not to go because it would have meant driving at least halfway around the island and burning a couple of gallons of gas, to attend a prayer to save the planet from runaway petroleum. We were going to spend our morning gardening instead. At the last minute we got a message from Diana Labedz that she had found a volunteer to add Salt Pond Beach Park, in Hanapepe on Kauai's westside, to the list of participating locations.

This was on the day before the event. We live in Hanapepe and decided to change plans and join the prayer for the planet. The event was scheduled from 11am-12pm. We arrived on time and as we entered the beach parking lot we noticed a Kauai County Police car parked facing the approaching road (an unusual occurrence). It was eleven and, being Kauai time, it seemed nobody had showed up yet.

We walked around looking for who might be 'da kine' for planetary prayer... in other words we were looking for old hippie types. Linda spotted a few likely participants near the water's edge at about 11:30 and went over to see who they were.

Image above: Sovereignty flag in foreground and 'demonstrators' right-back-ground.

Soon another one of our tribe showed up. He began setting up a rainbow striped Hawaiian sovereignty flag and some signs to mark our gathering place. His signs read: "Take pride in your aina. Show it to the World. Hawaii is not America and it never will be."

Within minutes two jumbo luxury SUV's, gunmetal and mauve, pulled into the parking places right behind the flag. There were four young men in each. The rolled down the windows with the engines running. They pulled out cameras and other devices and began recoding and documenting the events. It seemed funny that they would even know we'd be there. Hardly anyone did.

Image above: Young military professionals in gunmetal SUV at Salt Pond Beach. Note cameras concealed in lap and cup holder.

 I immediately grabbed my camera and approached the vehicles. As I shot a few pictures they began packing up their equipment. They seemed upset to be photographed. So much for undercover intelligence? I leaned in on the gunmetal SUV. The boys inside looked to be in their mid to late twenties. All wore jeans; most wore dark tees. I asked: "US military?". I got a one word answer from the back seat: "Yes". Another voice in the back. "Hey, no pictures!".

Even though the eight of them outnumbered the participants on the beach, they seemed to get nervous and defensive after that. Within 20 seconds they made a decision to decamp. They stowed their recording gear. Windows were raised and both vehicles backed out and were quickly gone. They weren't there at 12:30 when out numbers crested at about twenty.

Image above: The 'local' interpreter-scout zips up recording equipment sitting in mauve Lincoln Navigator.

I suppose the upcoming RIMPAC 2010 (operated out of the PMRF here on Kauai) is a good reason to have lots of young professional military on island guarding American interests and gathering intel. But do they need to burn a couple of gallons of gas in a couple of air-conditioned jumbo SUVs to check out a prayer vigil to save the Gulf of Mexico from petroleum? This was a gathering of peaceful people holding hands to pray and meditate at the beach. Why is our military conducting such domestic surveillance of US citizens? As the biggest consumer of fossil fuels in the world, and the biggest customer of BP, and the biggest user of offshore gulf oil, they are just protecting their interests... and not ours.

Image above: Military team heads out of Salt Pond Park in Lincoln Navigator license plate KZW-794.

See also:
Ea O Ka Aina: Police Block Public Access 7/8/10 .

Globalized Free Fire Zone

SUBHEAD: The U.S. and its detached populace are pioneering a new era of killing by drones that respect no boundaries.

By Tom Engelhardt on 24 June 2010 in Tom's Dispatch -

Image above: US military personnel using Predator drone to target pickup truck anywhere in the world. From (

Admittedly, before George W. Bush had his fever dream, the U.S. had already put its first unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) or drone surveillance planes in the skies over Kosovo in the late 1990s. By November 2001, it had armed them with missiles and was flying them over Afghanistan.

In November 2002, a Predator drone would loose a Hellfire missile on a car in Yemen, a country with which we weren’t at war. Six suspected al-Qaeda members, including a suspect in the bombing of the destroyer the USS Cole would be turned into twisted metal and ash -- the first “targeted killings” of the American robotic era.

Just two months earlier, in September 2002, as the Bush administration was “introducing” its campaign to sell an invasion of Iraq to Congress and the American people, CIA Director George Tenet and Vice President Dick Cheney “trooped up to Capitol Hill” to brief four top Senate and House leaders on a hair-raising threat to the country.

A “smoking gun” had been uncovered.
According to “new intelligence,” Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein had in his possession unmanned aerial vehicles advanced enough to be armed with biological and chemical weaponry.

Worse yet, these were capable -- so the CIA director and vice president claimed -- of spraying those weapons of mass destruction over cities on the east coast of the United States. It was just the sort of evil plan you might have expected from a man regularly compared to Adolf Hitler in our media, and the news evidently made an impression in Congress.

Democratic Senator Bill Nelson of Florida, for example, said that he voted for the administration's resolution authorizing force in Iraq because "I was told not only that [Saddam had weapons of mass destruction] and that he had the means to deliver them through unmanned aerial vehicles, but that he had the capability of transporting those UAVs outside of Iraq and threatening the homeland here in America, specifically by putting them on ships off the eastern seaboard."

In a speech in October 2002, President Bush then offered a version of this apocalyptic nightmare to the American public. Of course, like Saddam’s supposed ability to produce “mushroom clouds” over American cities, the Iraqi autocrat’s advanced UAVs (along with the ships needed to position them off the U.S. coast) were a feverish fantasy of the Bush era and would soon enough be forgotten.

Instead, in the years to come, it would be American pilotless drones that would repeatedly attack Iraqi urban areas with Hellfire missiles and bombs.

In those years, our drones would also strike repeatedly in Afghanistan, and especially in the tribal borderlands of Pakistan, where in an escalating “secret” or “covert” war, which has been no secret to anyone, multiple drone attacks often occur weekly.

They are now considered so much the norm that, with humdrum headlines slapped on (“U.S. missile strike kills 12 in NW Pakistan”), they barely make it out of summary articles about war developments in the American press.

And yet those robotic planes, with their young “pilots” (as well as the camera operators and intelligence analysts who make up a drone “crew”) sitting in front of consoles 7,000 miles away from where their missiles and bombs are landing, have become another kind of American fever dream. The drone is our latest wonder weapon and a bragging point in a set of wars where there has been little enough to brag about.

CIA director Leon Panetta has, for instance, called the Agency’s drones flying over Pakistan the only game in town when it comes to destroying al-Qaeda; a typically anonymous U.S. official in a Washington Post report claims of drone missile attacks, “We’re talking about precision unsurpassed in the history of warfare”; or as Gordon Johnson of the Pentagon's Joint Forces Command told author Peter Singer, speaking of the glories of drones: “They don't get hungry. They are not afraid. They don't forget their orders. They don't care if the guy next to them has been shot. Will they do a better job than humans? Yes.”

Seven thousand of them, the vast majority surveillance varieties, are reportedly already being operated by the military, and that’s before swarms of “mini-drones” come on line. Our American world is being redefined accordingly.

In February, Greg Jaffe of the Washington Post caught something of this process when he spent time with Colonel Eric Mathewson, perhaps the most experienced Air Force officer in drone operations and on the verge of retirement. Mathewson, reported Jaffe, was trying to come up with an appropriately new definition of battlefield “valor” -- a necessity for most combat award citations -- to fit our latest corps of pilots at their video consoles.

“Valor to me is not risking your life," the colonel told the reporter. "Valor is doing what is right. Valor is about your motivations and the ends that you seek. It is doing what is right for the right reasons. That to me is valor."

Smoking Drones
These days, CIA and administration officials troop up to Capitol Hill to offer briefings to Congress on the miraculous value of pilotless drones: in disrupting al-Qaeda, destroying its leadership or driving it “deeper into hiding,” and taking out key figures in the Taliban.

Indeed, what started as a 24/7 assassination campaign against al-Qaeda’s top leadership has already widened considerably.

The “target set” has by now reportedly expanded to take in ever lower-level militants in the tribal borderlands. In other words, a drone assassination campaign is morphing into the first full-scale drone war (and, as in all wars from the air, civilians are dying in unknown numbers).

If the temperature is again rising in Washington when it comes to these weapons, this time it’s a fever of enthusiasm for the spectacular future of drones (which the Air Force has plotted out to the year 2047), of a time when single pilots should be able to handle multiple drones in operations in the skies over some embattled land, and of a far more distant moment when those drones should be able to handle themselves, flying, fighting, and making key decisions about just who to take out without a human being having to intervene.

When we possess such weaponry, it turns out, there’s nothing unnerving or disturbing, apocalyptic or dystopian about it. Today, in the American homeland, not a single smoking drone is in sight.
Now it's the United States whose UAVs are ever more powerfully weaponized. It's the U.S. which is developing a 22-ton tail-less drone 20 times larger than a Predator that can fly at Mach 7 and (theoretically) land on the pitching deck of an aircraft carrier. It's the Pentagon which is planning to increase the funding of drone development by 700% over the next decade.

Admittedly, there is a modest counter-narrative to all this enthusiasm for our robotic prowess, “precision,” and “valor.” It involves legal types like Philip Alston, the United Nations special representative on extrajudicial executions. He recently issued a 29-page report criticizing Washington’s “ever-expanding entitlement for itself to target individuals across the globe.”

Unless limits are put on such claims, and especially on the CIA’s drone war over Pakistan, he suggests, soon enough a plethora of states will follow in America’s footprints, attacking people in other lands “labeled as terrorists by one group or another.”

Such mechanized, long-distance warfare, he also suggests, will breach what respect remains for the laws of war. “Because operators are based thousands of miles away from the battlefield,” he wrote, “and undertake operations entirely through computer screens and remote audio-feed, there is a risk of developing a 'PlayStation' mentality to killing.”

Similarly, the ACLU has filed a freedom of information lawsuit against the U.S. government, demanding that it “disclose the legal basis for its use of unmanned drones to conduct targeted killings overseas, as well as the ground rules regarding when, where, and against whom drone strikes can be authorized, and the number of civilian casualties they have caused.”

But pay no mind to all this. The arguments may be legally compelling, but not in Washington, which has mounted a half-hearted claim of legitimate “self-defense,” but senses that it’s already well past the point where legalities matter. The die is cast, the money committed. The momentum for drone war and yet more drone war is overwhelming.
It’s a done deal. Drone war is, and will be, us.

A Pilotless Military
If there are zeitgeist moments for products, movie stars, and even politicians, then such moments can exist for weaponry as well. The robotic drone is the Lady Gaga of this Pentagon moment.

It’s a moment that could, of course, be presented as an apocalyptic nightmare in the style of the Terminator movies (with the U.S. as the soul-crushing Skynet), or as a remarkable tale of how “networking technology is expanding a homefront that is increasingly relevant to day-to-day warfare” (as Christopher Drew recently put it in the New York Times).

It could be described as the arrival of a dystopian fantasy world of one-way slaughter verging on entertainment, or as the coming of a generation of homegrown video warriors who work “in camouflage uniforms, complete with combat boots, on open floors, with four computer monitors on each desk... and coffee and Red Bull help[ing] them get through the 12-hour shifts.” It could be presented as the ultimate in cowardice -- the killing of people in a world you know nothing about from thousands of miles away -- or (as Col. Mathewson would prefer) a new form of valor.

The drones -- their use expanding exponentially, with ever newer generations on the drawing boards, and the planes even heading for “the homeland” -- could certainly be considered a demon spawn of modern warfare, or (as is generally the case in the U.S.) a remarkable example of American technological ingenuity, a problem-solver of the first order at a time when few American problems seem capable of solution.

Thanks to our technological prowess, it’s claimed that we can now kill them, wherever they may be lurking, at absolutely no cost to ourselves, other than the odd malfunctioning drone. Not that even all CIA operatives involved in the drone wars agree with that one. Some of them understand perfectly well that there’s a price to be paid.

As it happens, the enthusiasm for drones is as much a fever dream as the one President Bush and his associates offered back in 2002, but it’s also distinctly us. In fact, drone warfare fits the America of 2010 tighter than a glove.

With its consoles, chat rooms, and “single shooter” death machines, it certainly fits the skills of a generation raised on the computer, Facebook, and video games. That our valorous warriors, their day of battle done, can increasingly leave war behind and head home to the barbecue (or, given American life, the foreclosure) also fits an American mood of the moment.

 The Air Force “detachments” that “manage” the drone war from places like Creech Air Force Base in Nevada are “detached” from war in a way that even an artillery unit significantly behind the battle lines or an American pilot in an F-16 over Afghanistan (who could, at least, experience engine failure) isn’t.

 If the drone presents the most extreme version thus far of the detachment of human beings from the battlefield (on only one side, of course) and so launches a basic redefinition of what war is all about, it also catches something important about the American way of war.

After all, while this country garrisons the world, invests its wealth in its military, and fights unending, unwinnable frontier wars and skirmishes, most Americans are remarkably detached from all this. If anything, since Vietnam when an increasingly rebellious citizens’ army proved disastrous for Washington’s global aims, such detachment has been the goal of American war-making.

As a start, with no draft and so no citizen’s army, war and the toll it takes is now the professional business of a tiny percentage of Americans (and their families). It occurs thousands of miles away and, in the Bush years, also became a heavily privatized, for-profit activity.

As Pratap Chatterjee reported recently, “[E]very US soldier deployed to Afghanistan and Iraq is matched by at least one civilian working for a private company. All told, about 239,451 contractors work for the Pentagon in battle zones around the world.”

And a majority of those contractors aren’t even U.S. citizens.
If drones have entered our world as media celebrities, they have done so largely without debate among that detached populace. In a sense, our wars abroad could be thought of as the equivalent of so many drones.

We send our troops off and then go home for dinner and put them out of mind. The question is: Have we redefined our detachment as a new version of citizenly valor (and covered it over by a constant drumbeat of “support for our troops”)?

Under these circumstances, it’s hardly surprising that a “pilotless” force should, in turn, develop the sort of contempt for civilians that can be seen in the recent flap over the derogatory comments of Afghan war commander General Stanley McChrystal and his aides about Obama administration officials.

The Globalization of Death
Maybe what we need is the return of George W. Bush’s fever dream from the American oblivion in which it’s now interred. He was beyond wrong, of course, when it came to Saddam Hussein and Iraqi drones, but he wasn’t completely wrong about the dystopian Drone World to come.

There are now reportedly more than 40 countries developing versions of those pilot-less planes.

Earlier this year, the Iranians announced that they were starting up production lines for both armed and unarmed drones. Hezbollah used them against Israel in the 2006 summer war, years after Israel began pioneering their use in targeted killings of Palestinians.

Right now, in what still remains largely a post-Cold War arms race of one, the U.S. is racing to produce ever more advanced drones to fight our wars, with few competitors in sight. In the process, we’re also obliterating classic ideas of national sovereignty, and of who can be killed by whom under what circumstances. In the process, we may not just be obliterating enemies, but creating them wherever our drones buzz overhead and our missiles strike.

We are also creating the (il)legal framework for future war on a frontier where we won’t long be flying solo. And when the first Iranian, or Russian, or Chinese missile-armed drones start knocking off their chosen sets of "terrorists," we won’t like it one bit.

When the first “suicide drones” appear, we’ll like it even less. And if drones with the ability to spray chemical or biological weapons finally do make the scene, we’ll be truly unnerved.

In the 1990s, we were said to be in an era of “globalization” which was widely hailed as good news. Now, the U.S. and its detached populace are pioneering a new era of killing that respects no boundaries, relies on the self-definitions of whoever owns the nearest drone, and establishes planetary free-fire zones. It’s a nasty combination, this globalization of death.


Roughing it in Hawaii

SUBHEAD: Nearness of the sea, the moderate climate, and abundant food are reasons Hawaii is a post-carbon landing pad. Image above: A meditation cottage on a "hippie" farm on mountainside south of Kona, Big Island. From ( By Guy McPherson on 26 June 2010 in Nature Bats Last - (

I’m just back at the mud hut after a too-short trip to the Big Island of Hawaii, where I visited a former student from the University of Arizona honors program. James was visiting Zimbabwe when the economy there headed south in a hurry, as I described here and here. We discussed his interest in ramping up the durable set of living arrangements at the off-grid property he occupies in Hawaii’s vog zone (at 1,000 feet elevation, where fog mixes with volcanic steam and ejecta).

Before I boarded the plane for my Hawaiian adventure, James sent this line for my consideration (from Bruce Chatwin’s book, The Songlines):

“Army, any professional army or war department, is, without knowing it, a tribe of the surrogate nomads, which has grown inside the State; which preys off the State; without whom the State would crumble; yet whose restlessness is, finally, destructive of the State in that, like gadflies, they are forever trying to goad it into action.”

We discussed the line, which is self-evident and particularly applicable to innumerable ongoing misadventures of the U.S. military, between bouts of consumption of macadamia nuts and several other foods growing on the property: mango, papaya, avocado, citrus. We also snorkeled each day, and hiked into a remote black-sand beach half the days. The proximity to the bounty of the sea, the moderate temperatures, and food that grows on trees are among the reasons I prefer Hawaii as a post-carbon landing pad. James is wise in many ways, including his location.

The other big event of the trip, besides mac nuts and exercise on land and sea: Jack Daniels. Just as Mark Twain describes in the book from which my subtitle is taken, there are worse habits than alcohol. I’m hardly in the habitual stage yet, but I did imbibe for the first time in 3 years (and the second time in 32 years, an acceleration approximating the ongoing economic collapse).

But I digress. Or perhaps consumption is the primary point, as it’s been in the industrialized world for decades.

Consistent with James’ thoughtfulness, a single sheet of paper greeted me as I entered the bungalow on the property that was to become my home for five beautiful days. Above the words, “Welcome to Hawaii,” was a hand-transcribed paragraph from Chatwin’s book:

“As a general rule of biology, migratory species are less aggressive than sedentary ones. There is one obvious reason why this should be so. The migration itself, like the pilgrimage, is the hard journey: a leveler on which the fit survive and stragglers fall by the wayside. The journey pre-empts the need for hierarchies and shows of dominance. The dictators of the animal kingdom are those who live in an ambience of plenty. The anarchists, as always, are the gentlemen of the road.

I greatly enjoyed the company of James and his main squeeze Vida because they readily mix discussion of important issues with light-hearted banter. They are among the few twenty-somethings I’ve met who understand the industrial economy is in the midst of its terminal decline, and who also recognize the coming post-industrial Stone Age as good news for the living planet, including our own species.

They can laugh in a sea of plenty as well as in a tornado of chaotic contraction. They’ve both traveled widely enough to know there are ways of living unfamiliar to most Americans, and that wealth is measured not in fiat currency but in relationships rooted in life experiences. They aptly fit a line I use often when I speak or write:

“If you cannot laugh at yourself, and you cannot laugh at the apocalypse, then you’ve got dark days ahead. If you can laugh at yourself, and you can laugh at the apocalypse, then you’ll never run out of material.”

Mac and Jack, shared with bright, articulate people willing and able to discuss important issues of the day and intermixed with daily physical activity. Is there a better way to live? If so, where can I find it?