One doesn’t have to be a doomsayer or mystic to be able to see that there are a variety of possible — even likely — changes coming to the planet in the near future and that the status quo — socially, economically, politically and ecologically — is likely to change dramatically. This seemed obvious to me more than a decade ago. My own response to this realization began to crystallize with an ayahuasca vision that the planet was to undergo certain destruction in the not too distant future. This was 10 years ago. At the time, my wife could not imagine giving up her career for some “vision” I’d had, and she could not guarantee me that she’d be ready to accompany me. But she also did not want to impinge on me pursuing my intuitions. She began reading and researching the state of things and in time (fortunately) began to see the inevitable changes coming our way.
As a result, we have been on a path to prepare for these uncertainties while looking to improve our quality of life no matter what. The path was not linear, but from its inception it led us to the highlands of central Brazil. The path and method you use for your own adaptations will depend on many factors, including your resources and where you consider a good place. While I believe I was spiritually led to Brazil, we accepted it as a good place for our future based on a critical analysis of geological, ecological, social, political, economic, ethnic, and other factors. But wherever you may go, there are a variety of issues we addressed that will apply in most places and we’d like to share these with you here.
So what can you do to prepare for uncertainties?
There are certainly a lot of resources available such as books and the internet to help you determine how to do this, preparing for everything from the collapse of the U.S. dollar to the collapse of civilization [if it already hasn’t] or to various apocalyptic scenarios of ecological disaster ranging from the return of the 12th planet (Elenin?) and nuclear winter to global warming and rising ocean levels. Can you prepare for everything? No, but you can do a lot! For starters, educate yourself, consider leaving the US/northern hemisphere (or at least populated areas), obtain sustainable living conditions, secure food and water, develop food production, build secure structures, and so on.
Location, Location, Location
If you finally get your move on when the proverbial shit hits the fan, it will probably be too late. Remember the miles of stalled cars fleeing Katrina? You have to be where you want to be when it happens. If you can’t get to a sustainable trajectory now, it will be virtually impossible to achieve it when the collapse happens. You’ll need to be in a safe environment that can provide a lot of the basics of life — particularly water, food and security — if the larger macroeconomic systems fail.
Our initial orientation to survival adaptations suggested that we find a small town to live in with about 5,000 friendly natives located in an agricultural area at least two tanks of gas away from the closest major city. That is tough. Where we’ve ended up in Brazil we are less than a tank of gas from Brasilia and Goiania, cities with more than a million people each. The town we live near (just a few kilometers away) contains 20,000 people. But because of a variety of factors (including ecological, agricultural self-sufficiency, fuel sufficiency, enormous resources, good security apparatus) we do not expect that this area of Brazil will collapse in the same way as the “advanced” economies of the northern hemisphere. We selected this area in part because of local sustainable agriculture and plentiful fresh water. We invested in several tracts of land that have these characteristics, one about 15 miles away from where we live near a town of 4,000 where we immediately planted an orchard and established friendships with some of the locals as a kind of backup plan.
Retirement with Time and Money
Having the time and money to prepare is key. I got mine with an early retirement from a state retirement system. Key issues were: doing as much of my job as possible online; purchasing 10 years of service based on previous employment; paying for service purchase with payroll deductions and rolling over IRAs; working overtime (100%) with part-time jobs at other state institutions for 3 years to double my retirement; and taking a substantial lump sum payment at retirement. My wife’s employment helped us maintain our lifestyle while most of my earnings went into saving for the future. We were able to secure some startup capital, my time is now my own, and I have a continuing source of income as long as the US economic system lasts. If you don’t have resources it is tough, but with time and a good piece of land (with clean water preferably) you can still do a lot (e.g., see Earthbag Building).
Protecting the value of my monetary resources began some years ago when it was less apparent that this would be necessary. The inevitable collapse of the US dollar as the world’s reserve currency meant putting my savings in something besides dollars. Standard advice includes bank accounts in foreign currency, and land, particularly in foreign country and/or agricultural lands where you want to live. I refinanced my home right before the real estate market crash; I now have an “underwater” house I am renting out in the US and with the funds from the refinance, a home I own free and clear here in Brazil. It may be a little late for you to do this now but the basic principle still applies. Get your home equity into something useful to provide some self-sufficiency.
Preparing for Self-Sufficiency
Self-sufficiency is nearly impossible but it is possible to plan for greater self-reliance. Permaculture is the basic concept — establishing a way to provide for your own subsistence. Three years ago I first planted a fruit orchard on our small 20-acre tract. Last year when we purchased our home here in Brazil I also immediately planted 50 fruit-bearing trees, vines, and bushes. We installed gutters and water-capture tanks this year. We just finished a 12×12 foot fenced garden area with a “pig wire” (much stronger than chicken wire) base on top of a brick foundation, followed with a chicken wire enclosure higher up and a roof with nylon shade cloth, providing protection from pigs, cows, birds, and voracious capybara which consumed an entire garden overnight last September. We have a larger 15×45 foot bean garden with a chicken wire enclosure 1.5 meters high. Likely won’t stop hungry pigs and cows, but it can keep out rabbits.
Storage of Food and Essentials
First, water. Did I mention water? Get a water filter, the small ceramic hand pump variety, as well as a larger passive system. A small hand pump will work for water from your pool, pond, etc. Then think of storing larger quantities in tanks, cisterns, ponds, underground, etc. or make a system to get it to you (hose, canals, etc). We capture rainwater into three tanks totaling 20,000 liters — it isn’t much. We are contemplating a pond to capture run off from the road. Investigate water purification systems — there are a variety of passive systems.
Food. In addition to planting, think about storage. Japanese people were without food for crucial periods after the earthquake. And the infrastructure was still mostly in place. Ditto in the US during the big freeze in early 2011. No fruits, vegetables, meat or milk after 3 days of freeze. What do you need to store? Well after water … First if you are vegetarian/vegan like us, it is easier. I made a plan based on info in the book When Technology Fails. The criteria there offered an idea of a 1 person/year; I modified for vegetarian for 1 month. My wife thinks it is way too much, but I eat 3 times as much as her.
The basic food categories and quantities for 1 month are:
Grains 30 lbs Legumes 15 lbs Nuts 5 lbs Dried/canned fruits 5-10 lbs. Sprouting seeds (wheat, alfalfa, rice, etc) Canned vegetables—basically none besides tomato paste, peas and corn but you may have more choices, Spices, leavening agents, salt, sugar, dried milks Oils (2 liters+), vinegars, sauces Drinks (tea, coffee, milk, powdered, etc.) Seeds for garden Miscellaneous personal (i.e. toothbrush, toothpaste, soap, shampoos) and cleaning supplies.
You are probably best off with low-cook items — thin pastas, pre-cooked cereals, couscous, canned corn and peas. You also need to consider how you will cook your food, especially if the power grid is down. Select foods with a longer shelf life. Freeze twice for 72 hours, two weeks apart, to kill bugs, and then their hatched eggs, then vacuum seal the food in plastic bags for an extended life. In general do not freeze jars or canned items. We store our sealed food in recycled plastic bins with screw lids, generally separating dry and wet items. The size and configuration of bins determined by local availability, dimensions of your storage area, and your strength. We are finishing our 6th, 1-month storage period. It is a surprising amount of work. We will probably continue until we have a year’s worth of food. We hear that “pre-Fukishima food” may have a premium value in the near future. You might also consider storing “trade items” — for use in barter. Among the things we have seen recommended are: coffee, sugar, salt, soap, toilet paper, perfumes!, canned foods, basic medicines, tools, candles, and books.
Tools and Skills
As we have engaged in various construction projects here I have generally bought whatever tools were needed by workers and kept them. You should consider what your future agricultural and construction activities might require and acquire them. Also acquire the skills to build with local materials. Since, like Guy, I was an academic, I accompanied the workers on all of our projects here in order to acquire knowledge about how to do these things myself. (You can save a lot of time and money and expedite your learning curve by hiring Guy to personally guide you and help you get set up. He’s become an expert through trial and error.)
Another basic suggestion for survival preparation is acquiring skills that can be bartered from wood and metal work to gardening and local foraging. Basic first aid training or good manuals are good ideas. A good first aid kit with simple surgical supplies is also an important item.
We bought a house because we did not want to rent while we built, nor did I want to live far from my construction site. Purchasing a small home with a large lot in the area we wanted to live also stored our monetary resources in something less susceptible to the dollar’s decline. We first did a number of functional upgrades (guest house, garage, storage building, water storage, etc.) and are now on to constructing our major “catastrophe proof building” basically a super-adobe structure reinforced with steel and concrete foundation and structure.
We are calling this planned structure our “mushroom cultivation area” — underground for cool varieties, above ground super-adobe without windows for “night mushrooms” and a second floor brick structure for drying. Earth is the most plentiful building material, and super-adobe techniques have great thermal properties, as well as an ability to resist hurricanes, tornados, earthquakes, and even solar flares and radiation. It is a relatively cheap structure. You could probably still refinance your house and build a super-adobe structure with the equity. Okay, maybe 1/3 of you have enough financial equity. If you are healthy, you have a lot of “sweat equity” to invest. Good luck.
Community and Security
People you can count on are probably the most important issue for long-term success. These are also people you may have to help. This is a tough issue if you move away, unless you take your highly self-sufficient friends. Good luck. A church network might be particularly advisable. We bought a home in a so-called “ecological community,” a gated community outside of our small town. The few neighbors we have are really just weekend visitors from the big cities who come to enjoy their country home for a few days, but they are all very friendly and nice. This is just our first step.
We also have an 80-acre tract a few miles away that I own with a few associates with a long term plan of building a sustainable community. Right now I am just trying to get to a sustainable home place — my natal chart said to secure personal life before committing to community development. It certainly keeps my marital life together. In the small, charming colonial town we live near, we are also building relationships with locals. This is imperative for us since we came to a foreign country with no network. As we more diligently address the issue of community, we realize the networks we are building are primarily with local people who work for us in construction and gardening. We are contemplating church involvement for purely social reasons. We also shop locally as much as possible, as opposed to going to the nearby cities in order to build social capital and perhaps future credit. We invite acquaintances, local and foreigners, to visit us with an eye to building the relationships that may help build a supportive network and community.
What to do Next?
Well, more of the above. Stay focused and relaxed. Expand food and water storage, maybe build a pond. Build irrigation systems for food plants. Build secure super adobe buildings. Learn medicinal plants. Acquire water pumps (mechanical?) and an electrical power source and storage areas. Develop friendships locally and stay connected. Good luck..
SUBHEAD: Think red meat is bad for your heart? Not if it comes from grass-fed animals rich in omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids.
By Oscar H. Will III on 30 June 2011 for Mother Jones -
Image above: Beef cattle feeding on grass. From original article.
More evidence that grass-fed meat is good for you emerged earlier this year when scientists in Ireland found that consuming grass-finished red meats from lamb and cattle, even for a short period of time, is good for your heart.
The study, published in the British Journal of Nutrition (volume 105, issue 01), not only confirmed again that red meat from animals â€œfinishedâ€ on grass for the six weeks before slaughter contains significantly more omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids than meat from grain-fed feedlot animals, but also demonstrated for the first time that healthy consumers who ate that grass-finished meat for only four weeks showed significant increases in blood levels of omega-3s compared with those eating grain-finished red meat. This is important news for several reasons.
Omega-3 fatty acids are beneficial in our diets, in part because they have a stabilizing effect on atherosclerotic plaques, which reduces the likelihood that the plaque will rupture and cause a number of heart and artery issues, including heart attack and death.
These special fatty acids also reduce arterial inflammation and clotting. So, eating grass-fed red meat is actually good for your heart. Eating only three portions of grass-fed red meat per week (about 18 ounces cooked) increased study participants' omega-3 blood levels as much as some fish oils when factoring in cultural eating habits.
Plus, the grass-finished cattle and sheep used in the study were offered grass for only the final six weeks of their lives, which means there may be even more potential for obtaining dietary omega-3s from red-meat animals that are finished on grass for a typical 120-day finishing period. Critics will note that grass-fed red meat is no panacea, and they will be correct. Any dietary magic bullet has yet to be discovered, no matter what special interest groups want you to think.
We do, however, have clear evidence that grass-fed red meat is better for us than industrial red meat in a number of additional ways. Grass-fed meat has a significantly better fat and antioxidant profile than grain-finished meat. Even though the levels of saturated fats are similar, the specific saturated fats that are associated with harmful cholesterol levels are higher in industrial meat.
Grass-fed meat contains higher levels of conjugated linoleic acids (CLA), which have been linked to reduced cancer rates, reduced arterial disease and reduced diabetes levels, among other benefits. Grass-fed meats omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acid ratio is closer to the dietary ideal, meaning it's better for your brain than industrial meat.
Grass-fed meat contains more vitamin A and vitamin E precursors than that of grain-fed animals. At the end of the day, grass-fed red meats are leaner and contain proportionally more of many important nutrients that relate to good health. No surprise there, because ruminants evolved to eat forages, and humans evolved eating forage-fed ruminants.
I've been eating grass-fed meat for years because I love the way it tastes and the way it grills up juicy and tender. The last time I ordered steak at a restaurant, I was presented with a beautiful piece of meat that was cooked to a perfect medium-rare. It was so tender that I could cut it with my table knife. I was expecting an explosion of flavor when I chomped down on the first bite, but yikes!
All of that lovely potential was ruined by the foul flavor of feedlot. For me, better flavor is reason enough to go with grass-fed meat. The health and environmental benefits are just icing on the cake.
By James Kunstler on 4 July 2011 for Kunstler.com -
Image above: From (http://www.pixeljumpers.com/2010/10/05/nascar-the-game-2011-screens-and-trailer).
Do you, too, sense the dread abiding in our annual celebration of national wonderfulness? Outside today's barbeque bubble the dark shapes of wild events loom, exciting primal fears of unresolved woe and travail. Yesterday, I saw a man on a back street of a small town with spider webs tattooed on his elbows and a screaming skull on the back of his neck. America, meet your new normal: a citizenry of exterminating angels.
Our political exertions mean nothing to them. They think Ronald Reagan was the offspring of John Wayne and Minnie Mouse and the House of representatives is a reality TV show about home improvement. Once they are on the loose, even Rush Limbaugh and other like-minded jingo creeps of the airwaves will despair.
Old Allen Ginsburg got it right fifty years ago: "America, go fuck yourself with your atom bomb," he said. Even back then, in the age of purple people eaters and the weird neutered figure of Ozzie Nelson lurking in kitchen with nothing to do but drink endless cups of coffee, all was not so well.
Freedom to cruise for burgers turned out to be a pretty trashy thing, considering all the blood and sacrifice that preceded those days of fun in the California sunshine. Look at California now: Nathanial West Meets Aztlan (coming soon on home video). Who put that locust in my burrito?
Do you ever wonder what Mr. Jefferson would think looking around Virginia today? All those farms of his sturdy yeomanry turned to tract McHousing for lobbyists from pharmaceutical industry; the Beltway traffic at Tysons Corner; the Richmond International Speedway.
What would he make of the celebrity drivers in their logo-covered jumpsuits, not to mention the activity to which they dedicate their youthful energies: roaring around an oval circuit in flame-spewing carriages.
I'm sure the speedway spectacle would drive him batshit. Five minutes into a Sprint Cup heat, Tom runs shrieking to the piers of Norfolk in search of a passage to France....
Science knows: not all experiments come out the way you expect. Here you have the North American continent, filled with untold natural riches, splendid waterways, six feet of loam on the trackless prairie, timber galore, gold, silver, borax, buffalo, passenger pigeons innumerable darkening the skies! All in all, a pretty high-percentage deal.
And it took only a couple of hundred years to turn it into a set of interconnected parking facilities, that is, to fuck it up royally (even though we are officially opposed to royalty). Too bad none of the Founding Fathers was a traffic engineer. He might have advised against recent developments.
And now the experiment is foundering. It's been nice not thinking about it so much for a day or two. I spent one afternoon canoeing down a local trout stream called the Battenkill.
Even this will be impossible in a few years, because you need a couple of cars to do it - one at the put-in and one at the take-out. So it is not that far removed from Nascar, really. And the darn canoe itself is made of some rubberoid petroleum derivative So shame on me.
All I can say is they weren't selling cheese steaks and beer can hats along the bank and the ospreys do not wear the Budweiser logo on their under-wings. It was shockingly beautiful along the river.
I thought about all the people battling their way hopelessly on the I-30 freeway through Dallas, or the I-405 in L.A., or the I-85 in Atlanta and almost squeezed out a few crocodile tears for them. When "this sucker goes down," in the immortal words of a recent former president, we'll all fall pretty hard, wherever we may live. I wish I knew what the hell we are really celebrating today.
Surely many in this nation see an approach to an abyss. I wish we could get our heads together before it gets here or we get there. There is so much to do besides what we are busy doing now, keeping a set of stupid rackets spinning just because they are our rackets and we're used to them.
Among other things, in case you haven't noticed, money is going extinct. The distant roar you hear today is neither Nascar nor Niagara. It's the sound of institutions crashing. I guess, like Scarlett O'Hara, we'll think about it tomorrow. Happy Fourth of July everybody. Happy birthday, America.
Greek sovereignty to be massively limited: JunckerTo call Treuhand an abject failure would be a gross understatement. Still, Juncker cites it as an example for Greece. Lovely. Well, to be honest, it was a failure only for the people. Not for banks and industries. Viewed from that angle, it all makes sense. As does openly stating that Greece will be massively limited in its sovereignty. It all depends whose interests you're protecting, after all. And no, we're not just talking Greece here. From the Guardian:Greece faces severe restrictions on its sovereignty and must privatize state assets on a scale similar to the sell off of East German firms in the 1990s after communism fell [..] "The sovereignty of Greece will be massively limited," he told Germany's Focus magazine in the interview released on Sunday, adding that teams of experts from around the euro zone would heading to Greece. [..] The Greek parliament voted on Thursday to set up a privatization agency under austerity plans agreed with the European Union and IMF which have provoked violent protests on the streets of Athens. Greeks are acutely sensitive to any infringement of their sovereignty or suggestions of foreign "commissars" getting involved in running the country. "One cannot be allowed to insult the Greeks. But one has to help them. They have said they are ready to accept expertise from the euro zone," Juncker said. Athens must sell off five billion euros in state assets this year alone or risk missing targets set under its EU/IMF program, which could cut off its funding needed to keep the government running and avoid a debt default. A repeat of Germany's Treuhand experience may prove bitter for Greeks, who are already suffering soaring unemployment as a recession drags into its third year. Once the world's biggest holding company, Treuhand was supposed to sell off state property at a profit but closed its books with a huge deficit and a legacy of bitterness among the legions of workers whose jobs it destroyed. Four million Germans were employed by Treuhand-owned companies in 1990 but only about 1.5 million jobs were left in 1994 when the agency closed. Instead of reaping profits to be distributed to all east Germans, as it was designed to do, it ran up debts of 270 billion marks ($172 billion) in the fire sale of assets.
Sell, sell, sell: everything must go in great fire saleBy the way, Richard Milne at the Financial times reports that S&P have said the Greek bailout will be declared a default (credit event) anyway:Greece Europe's most ambitious sell-off is taking place in its most indebted nation: Athens plans to sell €50bn (£45bn) of state assets by 2015. Looking at the sales list, it seems that very little has been left off the table. The government's stakes in the ports of Piraeus and Thessaloniki, 39 airports, a state lottery, a horse-racing concession, a casino, a national post office, two water companies, a nickel miner and smelter, hundreds of miles of roads, a telecoms operator, shares in two banks, electricity and gas monopolies and thousands of hectares of land, including coastal stretches, are among the host of assets on offer.[..] Ireland The national airline, ports, power stations and even the Irish National Stud, which hosted a visit by the Queen in May, face being broken up or sold off under plans to get Ireland out of the red. A government-commissioned review of state assets published in April said privatisation could raise about €5bn for the cash-strapped country. [..] Spain The world's biggest annual lottery payout, Spain's famous Christmas El Gordo (Fat One), spreads joy to tens of thousands of winners – but the biggest winners of all may soon be investors who snap up part of the state company behind the lottery. [..] Some 30% of the state lottery will be sold as the organisation behind the 151-year-old El Gordo becomes what may be the world's biggest listed gambling company, valued at up to €25bn. The company recorded €3bn net profit in 2009 on sales of €9.8bn – meaning the sell-off will reduce treasury income by about €1bn a year. RBS recently won a contract to run the privatisation of up to 49% of Spain's airports authority, AENA, which has a book value of €2.6bn. The government also plans to auction off Madrid's Barajas airport and Barcelona's El Prat by the end of the year. Reform of the country's savings banks means that many will also soon be seeking stock market listings. [..] Portugal Neighbouring Portugal is in even starker need of money after accepting a €78bn bailout. On Thursday, the newly elected centre-right prime minister, Pedro Passos Coelho, announced a rush sale of state holdings in the utility company Energias de Portugal and the power-grid operator REN by October. Passos Coelho recently told the Financial Times that he wanted to sell off up to 49% of water utilities as well as several state media interests, reportedly including television and radio channels, plus the national news agency Lusa. The state airline TAP and the airport owner ANA – which runs airports in Lisbon, Faro, Oporto and the Azores – are also due to be sold along with the insurance business of the state-run bank CGD [..] Britain The coalition government in Westminster is in the process of selling off the 49% state stake in the air traffic control service Nats, decommissioned naval ships and its own collection of fine wine. In the March budget the chancellor, George Osborne, set a target of raising £2bn from asset sales to finance the Liberal Democrat's idea for a green investment bank. The bulk of that is coming from the sale of its remaining stake in Nats and the Tote, the government-owned bookmakers. The private bookmakers Betfred have been chosen to buy the Tote for a reported price of £200m. [..]
S&P threatens Greece with defaultThat would indeed seem to be the only logical conclusion. But the IMF and ECB may have more up their sleeves yet. The best way to look at the bailout plan, meanwhile, is provided by Wolfgang Münchau at the Financial Times:French and German banks’ plan to roll over their holdings of Greek debt suffered a huge blow on Monday as Standard & Poor’s, the credit rating agency, said the move would amount to a default. The proposal to provide up to €30bn ($43.6bn) in financing for Greece had been made conditional on rating agencies not downgrading Greece’s debt. But S&P said in a statement early on Monday that any rollover would be a “distressed” transaction and thus lead to Greece’s rating being lowered to selective default. Such a move all but scuppers the rollover proposal in its current form. It is also likely to further heighten European scrutiny and scepticism of rating agencies, who are blamed by some for stoking the eurozone debt crisis as well as having missed the causes of the 2008 financial crisis. The euro erased all its gains against the dollar and European markets were seen opening lower on Monday morning on the news. S&P said both proposals put out by the French banking federation last week – and broadly endorsed by both German banks and other global financial institutions – would amount to a default.
The Greek rollover pact is like a toxic CDOSo when everybody sells everything, where do we draw the line between a sovereign nation and one that is "occupied"? It's hard to say, granted, but I would think that a people that wants to be in charge of its own destiny would want to always retain control of its transport and energy infrastructure: roads, waterways and ports, energy sources and supplies, etc. Control over health care services and schools seems obvious too, if you want to be and feel independent. And we haven't even mentioned land yet. The prevailing ideology, however, has become the privatization of everything that's not bolted down (and even then...) The underlying notion, of course, is that private business is more efficient than government in running all sorts of services. Whether that's true or not is up for debate, but there's another factor at play as well: private businesses are run for profit, and profit implies growth. The question than must be asked if we really want our hospitals and prisons to be run as growth industries. After all, that would at some point necessarily mean we need more sick people, and more criminals. Yeah, you're right, that does look a lot like what we already have in the US, doesn't it? And while the examples above deal with European nations selling off their goodies, the same happens stateside of course. Individual states, as well as counties and municipalities, are auctioning off roads and buildings as fast as they can, in desperate and doomed attempts to make budgets whole. Just like Greece does. All while awaiting the economic recovery that never seems to come, or not quick enough, or not enough enough. The problem is that this economy, these economies, will never recover. They will never return to where they once were. They won't even return to where they are now. Because there is so much debt all around, and our leaders refuse to let the institutions that incurred it pay the bill, there's a huge amount of downside waiting for us. And selling off what should have been our children's inheritance is not going to change that. It will only make their lives that much harder. They will indeed not be sovereign people, they will not hold control over their own societies. And they will therefore have no reason left to celebrate their Independence Day. They will be serfs. Debt slaves. The gutting of societies and their independence is not new by any stretch of the imagination. The gutting of our present societies, too, started a long time ago, with the ideas propagated by Milton Friedman and his Chicago School criminal racket. What cannot, however, be put at Friedman's feet, is the devastation to the world we live in caused by the derivatives trade. And that, to repeat myself, is where today's real danger lies. I'll leave you with something that Chris Whalen wrote on the topic two weeks ago. Happy Fourth of July. Enjoy it while it lasts. And maybe save some for your kids. .It was always clear that European politicians would ultimately end up trying a complex debt product to solve the crisis. If you want to “kick the can down the road”, as the wearily favourite metaphor of the crisis goes, if you want to obfuscate facts and circumvent rules, then a variant of a collateralised debt obligation seems the perfect choice. I wonder what took them so long. I have no space for a large drawing with lots of boxes and arrows to explain the complexity of the vehicle, through which eurozone governments want to involve the private-sector banks in its next loan package. So here is my best attempt in words: if you own a Greek bond that matures by June 2014, you keep 30 per cent of the redemption as cash, and roll over 70 per cent into a 30-year Greek government bond. The Greeks will have to pay an annual coupon, or interest rate, of between 5.5 per cent and 8 per cent. The precise rate will depend on future economic growth. Of the money received, Greece will lend on 30 per cent to a special purpose vehicle, another well-known construction from the subprime mortgage crisis. The SPV invests into AAA-rated government or agency bonds, and issues a 30-year zero coupon bond. The purpose of this is to guarantee the principal of the 30-year Greek government bond that you just bought. With this construction, the downside to your losses is limited. Depending on how some of the parameters of this agreement evolve, you will probably make a small loss, relative to the par value of your holding. If you are lucky, you might come out positive. You will probably not be lucky. But you will still be better off than if you sold today, or if Greece were to default. More important, the accounting rules allow you to pretend that you are not making any losses at all. If this was any other field of human activity, you would go to jail if you accepted, let alone made such an indecent offer. [..]
Your Honor, I stand before this Court as an indigenous person in Hawai`i, found guilty of sleeping on my ancestral land without getting a permit from the government that occupies us. By now it is well known, even to this prosecutor, that the land and the very sovereignty of the Kingdom of Hawai`i was stolen from my ancestors a little over one hundred years ago. Normally after such a crime we would expect an apology and restitution. But those normal expectations have only been half met. The United States has apologized for stealing our land, and they have promised to return both land and sovereignty. But I stand before you today not having land returned to me, but being fined for simply sleeping on our land that has not been returned yet. How can this be consistent with that apology? How can the prosecutor actually ask you to make me pay the State of Hawai`i, when even the State has apologized for taking our land and has promised to return the same? I’m sure the State feels generous in asking that we only pay $10 fines. I want to say on record that there is nothing generous about fining indigenous peoples for sleeping in occupied territory without asking permission of the occupying forces. Also, Your Honor, I want you to know that we were not just fooling around at Salt Pond that day. We were engaged in organizing our Nation, conducting citizenship drives and voting for our elected officials in our indigenous Nation, the Reinstated Hawaiian Kingdom. In December of last year, President Obama signed a Declaration of the United Nations, further promising rights to indigenous peoples such as myself. This United Nations Declaration is now the law of the international community and the United States. The Declaration says, and I quote, Article 3 Indigenous peoples have the right to self-determination. By virtue of that right they freely determine their political status and freely pursue their economic, social and cultural development. Article 4 Indigenous peoples, in exercising their right to self-determination, have the right to autonomy or self-government in matters relating to their internal and local affairs, as well as ways and means for financing their autonomous functions. Article 5 Indigenous peoples have the right to maintain and strengthen their distinct political, legal, economic, social and cultural institutions, while retaining their right to participate fully, if they so choose, in the political, economic, social and cultural life of the State. Article 20 Indigenous peoples have the right to maintain and develop their political, economic and social systems or institutions, to be secure in the enjoyment of their own means of subsistence and development, and to engage freely in all their traditional and other economic activities." Article 26 1. Indigenous peoples have the right to the lands, territories and resources which they have traditionally owned, occupied or otherwise used or acquired. 2. Indigenous peoples have the right to own, use, develop and control the lands, territories and resources that they possess by reason of traditional ownership or other traditional occupation or use, as well as those which they have otherwise acquired. 3. States shall give legal recognition and protection to these lands, territories and resources. Such recognition shall be conducted with due respect to the customs, traditions and land tenure systems of the indigenous peoples concerned. Article 33 1. Indigenous peoples have the right to determine their own identity or membership in accordance with their customs and traditions. This does not impair the right of indigenous individuals to obtain citizenship of the States in which they live. 2. Indigenous peoples have the right to determine the structures and to select the membership of their institutions in accordance with their own procedures. In closing, I have pled no contest to these charges because I cannot afford to contest them, and for no other reason. This prosecution, however small, is just one more violation of our rights as indigenous people, and one more example of law enforcement’s reluctance to give real meaning to what your government promises and promises, but never delivers. Thank you. .
By Alison Owings on 3 July 2011 for Huffington Post -
Image above: Photo portrait of native American Whirling Horse. From (http://www.ioffer.com/i/whirling-horse-american-indian-close-up-8x10-old-photo-144415375).
When I moved to San Francisco decades ago, I was invited to any number of July 4th gatherings. They all had two things in common. First, they were freezing. What was with this fog? Second, at someone's suggestion - I think mine, but cannot claim authorship for sure - we started reading the Declaration of Independence out loud. I had a World Almanac that contained a copy.
Yes, the New York Times prints a full page version of the original, but those old f's for s's, among other stumbles, made us choose more modern type. Our tradition was to set out the picnic stuff, run back to the car for another jacket or sweater, maybe a hat or gloves, then, once the shivering merriment was underway, pull out the Almanac, and open it to the Declaration.
We took turns, each person reading a paragraph or two, or part of one, depending on such factors as the reader's dramatic interpretation inclination, or shyness.
Then the reader would pass the book to the next person. I really liked doing this - if not then, when? - but the tradition took place years before I started working on my book, Indian Voices: Listening to Native Americans and, well, I was not paying a lot of attention to certain phrases. My Euro-centric background was just fine with Th. Jefferson's prose. So much of it was thrilling.
"He has plundered our Seas, ravaged our Coasts ..."Whew! "... circumstances of Cruelty and Perfidy" what rhythm, what cadence, I thought. Eventually, however, we get to "domestic Insurrections amongst us," and here it comes, the phrase that distresses me so much after spending close to a decade meeting, and listening to, Native Americans, that I can barely stand to read it, nor type it.
"... the merciless Indian Savages."Say what?
From the elegantly-quotable Jefferson? Yes.
"... the merciless Indian Savages, whose known Rule of Warfare, is an undistinguished Destruction, of all Ages, Sexes and Conditions."While Native Americans celebrate this 4th of July weekend, probably with hotdogs and fireworks, and possibly a powwow (as far as I know, the day has not attained the level of dislike or dismissal in Indian country that there is towards Columbus Day), I wonder whether we might all read the Declaration of Independence out loud, consider what that three word phrase wrought, not to mention the words about "undistinguished Destruction."
Destruction of who by whom? Native people, among others, may ask. The words themselves are so savage, it is a wonder to me that there had already been a celebration of Thanksgiving.
SUBHEAD: Kauai radiation monitors detect radiation spike from Fukushima fallout.
By Tim Flanegan on 23 June 2011 for Hawaii News Daily -
Image above: Painting by Arthur Beaumont of "The Cross Spikes Club" (1946). It was an improvised bar, one of the only places where the men detonating atomic bombs in the Pacific could find entertainment on Bikini Island. From
Yesterday, June 22nd, our network’s Monitoring Station on the island of Kauai, within the Hawaiian island chain, broadcast yet another Radiation Alert over the Network, at 8:08 A.M. local time – a 3 minute surge of 209, 456, and 186 CPM (Counts per Minute) respectively, accompanied by a generally elevated level leading up to that, and followed by another blip at 2:52 P.M.
The Kauai station indicates it was raining at the time, so we believe the precipitation brought down Fukushima fallout from the atmosphere.
This detection follows a similar, sustained elevated radiation level from the Kauai station on June 10th. Other than this, since the nuclear disaster in Japan, the stations on our Network that we believe to have detected Fukushima radiation in significant and noticeable levels have been limited to a couple of high altitude stations in Colorado, and an obvious one in Japan itself.
So the question is, “What is so special about the Kauai station?“. In answer, I think we what have here is “the perfect storm“:
- First, of all the US stations on our network, Kauai is about the closest to Japan, some 3,500 miles away (Anchorage, AK is, too). And as mentioned before, within the Hawaiian chain, Kauai is the “remote outpost” farthest north and west toward Japan, as compared to our stations on Maui and the Big Island. Having said this, while proximity is important, weather patterns are of at least equal importance when considering radiation fallout.
- The Kauai station, situated on the north shore in the community of Princeville, is in a very rainy place, getting about 60 to 80 inches per year. Some other parts of the island are in a rain shadow.
- The radiation detector on the Kauai station is an external probe model, and the wand itself is mounted outdoors, protected under the overhanging eaves of the structure, but readily available to ”sniff” the air, which in this case is often quite wet and occasionally contaminated, apparently.
- The Geiger-Mueller tube used in the probe is of the same pancake design as in the Inspector line of instruments, with a nominal 2″ diameter, finished out with a thin mica end window, categorizing this as an ultra-sensitive Geiger counter capable of detecting low levels of Alpha and Beta radiation, along with Gamma radiation.
The next order of business is to place additional monitoring stations around Kauai, in both high rainfall and rain shadow areas to provide confirming readings and to test out some of the theories offered above. We also need to correlate detections with weather patterns and movements of the jet stream, combined with any verifiable “releases” of radiation from Fukushima.
Kauai Spike not Solar Flare
By Sdelear on 24 June 2011 for the DailyKos -
Yesterday, June 22nd, our network’s Monitoring Station on the island of Kauai, within the Hawaiian island chain, broadcast yet another Radiation Alert over the Network, at 8:08 A.M. local time – a 3 minute surge of 209, 456, and 186 CPM (Counts per Minute) respectively, accompanied by a generally elevated level leading up to that, and followed by another blip at 2:52 P.MAt the time of the report, no major solar flare activity was impacting the Earth. http://www.spaceweather.com/...
So the question is, “What is so special about the Kauai station?“. In answer, I think we what have here is “the perfect storm“:\
• First, of all the US stations on our network, Kauai is about the closest to Japan, some 3,500 miles away (Anchorage, AK is, too). And as mentioned before, within the Hawaiian chain, Kauai is the “remote outpost” farthest north and west toward Japan, as compared to our stations on Maui and the Big Island. Having said this, while proximity is important, weather patterns are of at least equal importance when considering radiation fallout.
• The Kauai station, situated on the north shore in the community of Princeville, is in a very rainy place, getting about 60 to 80 inches per year. Some other parts of the island are in a rain shadow.
• The radiation detector on the Kauai station is an external probe model, and the wand itself is mounted outdoors, protected under the overhanging eaves of the structure, but readily available to ”sniff” the air, which in this case is often quite wet and occasionally contaminated, apparently.
• The Geiger-Mueller tube used in the probe is of the same pancake design as in the Inspector line of instruments, with a nominal 2″ diameter, finished out with a thin mica end window, categorizing this as an ultra-sensitive Geiger counter capable of detecting low levels of Alpha and Beta radiation, along with Gamma radiation.After a little digging around on the radiation network site it seems like that is a spike to 4.56 microsev/hour. For comparison, if that were a sustained reading (which it isn't) residents of Hawaii would receive (4.56 * 24 * 365 / 1000 =) 39.95 milisieverts a year. That is twice the "safe" level of 20 milisieverts used by the Japanese government to define it's evacuation area. I should stress though that one three minute peak reading is not a sustained background count.
So there is your “perfect storm” – in relatively close proximity, amidst a rainy environment, set up for outdoor monitoring, and using an ultra-sensitive detector.
The bottom line though is this, we should not have to rely on volunteer station reporting readings in CPM to discover what is going on in Hawaii. The EPA should set up a mobile Radnet detector near this station and make results available in a reporting format understandable to the general public.
Island Breath: Navy Plans for the Pacific 9/3/07
Island Breath: Radiation detected at Pohakuloa 5/1/07
Not so long ago, the Onion, America's satirical "newspaper", ran a story about what had happened to the real Barack Obama. You know, the one who was all about change and "the audacity of hope". Apparently, he had been kidnapped by an imposter bent on destroying the president by turning him into a "wishy-washy loser". But with another election looming, and a new financial crisis brewing across the Atlantic, the old Obama seems to be back.
By 2 August the US must raise the legal limit on its $14.3 trillion debt or face dire consequences, and Republicans and Democrats have been locked in battle on Capitol Hill. With the crunch deadline approaching, Obama hit out at Republicans last week, saying they favoured corporate jet owners over children and the elderly. Those high-flying fat cats got six mentions in a speech that set out the president's combative stance.
"Before we ask our seniors to pay more for healthcare, before we cut our children's education, it's only fair to ask an oil company or a corporate jet owner that has done so well to give up that tax break that no other business enjoys," Obama said.
The Republicans came back just as hard. Fired up by rightwing, Tea Party-backed newcomers, the Republicans now control the House of Representatives. House speaker John Boehner said Obama was "sorely mistaken" if he believed he could muster enough votes to raise the debt ceiling and raise taxes. "The votes simply aren't there, and they aren't going to be there," Boehner warned. So bad have things got that the politicos are working tomorrow, on 4 July, the Independence Day holiday.
All this political posturing is about to have very serious consequences, according to economists. Some are predicting a second recession if it doesn't get sorted out soon. But, as the deadline approaches, both sides seem, if anything, to be toughening their stance.
It takes two votes to keep America's finances running: one vote to pass budget bills, another to borrow the money. There have been plenty of rows about the borrowing limit in the past. But after conditions are imposed and compromises reached, the limit has always been raised before the US treasury ran out of cash. This year may be different. With US debt at levels unseen in 60 years, Republicans are insisting on at least $2tn (£1.25tn) in spending cuts over 10 years and no tax increases.
If a deal cannot be reached before 2 August, the treasury says it will be forced to default on its debts. No one knows quite what that means yet. Will it choose to stop paying interest, a move that could trigger a global financial crisis? Or will pensioners, soldiers, contractors and other government workers find Uncle Sam welching on his bills?
Either way, economist argue, already jittery financial markets could go into meltdown. "When you start to voluntarily jeopardise the perceived integrity of your government in financial markets, you are creating long-term difficulties. People are never going to forget this," said David Levy, chairman of the Jerome Levy forecasting centre.
Last week 235 senior economists wrote to Washington's bigwigs, warning: "Reaching the limit on total outstanding debt could force a dramatic and sudden cut in federal spending that would destroy jobs and threaten the recovery."
Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody's Analytics, said: "Our biggest problem now is the fragile nature of the recovery. Confidence is lacking. If anything goes off track, people freeze." He predicts that if the row continues on into July, financial markets – distracted in recent weeks by the shenanigans in Greece – will start to get more and more unsettled. "If we get to August, things will get a lot worse."
Even if an agreement cannot be reached, the US could afford to pay interest on its debts. Of every dollar the US spends, about 60 cents comes from revenues, such as taxes, and 40 cents is borrowed money. If the US gets to August and has not raised its borrowing limits, it will have to decide where to cut that 40 cents. Not paying the interest on its loans is a "nightmare scenario", says Paul Ashworth, chief US economist at Capital Economics. Markets could go haywire, with global consequences.
But the interest rate payments probably amount to 5-10 cents of that dollar, Ashworth calculates. "Even with 60 cents you could pay that. But that means massive cuts to the rest of spending. Contractors, social security, unemployment, tax rebates. Spending in the overall economy would plummet, with severe consequences."
According to the Washinton-based Bipartisan Policy Centre, if an agreement is not reached soon, the US will no longer be able to pay all its bills somewhere between 2 August and 9 August. The consequences would be immediate and "harrowing". Federal spending would have to be reduced by as much as 44% for the remainder of the month as the treasury prioritises payments to remain under the debt limit. Choices would have to be made between paying $49.2bn in social security benefits, $34.6bn in defence spending, and $12.8bn in unemployment benefits. Rating agencies, having already threatened to downgrade US debt, would probably do so. Double-dip recession, here we come.
With so many lining up to paint such a nightmarish picture, it's a wonder the political elite is not lining up to call for a solution.
"All we need now is an agreement on a broad outline on reductions in the deficit," said Zandi. "The election is the referendum on how to achieve that goal."
With 17 months still to go, that election has already begun. The reinvigorated Obama is up there championing pensioners against the jet set; his Tea Party haters are calling for greater responsibility and an end to Obama's "socialism". By the time summer hits its height, the consequences of this spat could be felt around the world.
By Andy Parx on 30 June 2011 for Parx News Daily -
Image above: A reproportioned photo of Kauai's Secluded Falls. From Apollo Kauai masthead (http://apollokauai.wordpress.com).
In addition to our wholesale advocacy of a "no" vote on this FERCin' mess KIUC has gotten us into with their capitulation to Free Flow Partners' (FFP) extortion, we've been doing quite a bit of retail, taking a slew of phone calls from people for whom computers are anathema- all essentially asking "WTF?". Many just want an answer as to whether to vote "no" or "yes." But far more have read both the newspaper articles and the ballot itself along with KIUC's unbelievably slanted voters' guide. Under "your no vote means" the guide makes the claim that:
The contracts with FFP will be terminated, and all preliminary permits will revert back to FFP. This will make progress on hydro in the near term very difficult and more expensive, and more than $325,000 in contractual obligations will be due to FFP.Even those that have read both our coverage and Joan Conrow's awesome Honolulu Weekly article and meticulously researched and presented Gold Diggers (parts 1 and 2) blog posts have asked an important question. Basically they ask "well, yes- the whole deal stinks and we should never have entered into any deal with FFP. But now that we have we stand to lose $325,000 (some reports claim it's as high as $400,000) which will inevitably show up on our bill. And we will have paid that money and not be any closer to hydroelectric power project development. Shouldn't I vote 'yes?'"
The answer to the first part is that while yes, it will cost hundreds of thousands to cancel the deal with FFP, many have not heard or glossed over a quote from Conrow's Honolulu Weekly piece which says that:
Bissell said no specific price was placed on the applications, which were purchased as part of a larger consulting contract. The utility has refused to disclose the full value of the contract, which includes an incentive for delivering completed projects, but KIUC attorney David Proudfoot said FFP will be paid “several million dollars if none go past the first stage."Given the opposition to FERC and the likelihood that, with the state's long-standing opposition and threats to sue, we will never proceed to full FERC licensing. What a yes vote means is that, although we'll have to forfeit the $325K we'd potentially be throwing away a lot more. As Conrow concluded in her second Gold Digger post:
In its permitted applications, FFP states, “The studies will be financed by the applicant.” No mention is made of KIUC. For each project, FFP estimates the cost of doing all the first-year studies — the feasibility stuff — at $100,000. The rest of the work — consultations, developing a notice of intent and pre-application document, and beginning scoping activities — is estimated to “not exceed $500,000." So even if FFP were to take all six projects all the way up to the license application, it would cost no more than $3.6 million. KIUC won’t tell us exactly what we’re paying, but KIUC attorney David Proudfoot told us at the June 4 community meeting that FFP will be paid “several million dollars if none go past the first stage.” Several is defined as “more than or three but not many.” So it sounds like we’re paying close to, if not more than, the full estimated price for bringing all six projects through the first stage, even though KIUC CEO David Bissell and some Board members have acknowledged that some of the projects will never get off the ground.On top of that, FFP will get an incentive for delivering completed projects. The second question is a bit trickier but perhaps more revealing. The reason why KIUC says it is going through the FERC is that there is no state process for developing hydro. But we must remember a couple of things.
What many including petition initiator Adam Asquith have said, is that what we should have done- and should do- is to go to the state and say "we want to do hydroelectric projects and want to work with the state to establish a system for development and introduce and pass enabling legislation and eventually administrative rules so that we can develop environmentally and culturally sensitive and water-wise projects into the future.
And, as a matter of fact, a good place to start is the KIUC ballyhooed flow chart that FERC has already developed for public participation and alter it for our unique water laws. Certainly we're not the only ones in the state who want to develop hydropower. HELCO has the same renewable energy portfolio requirements as KIUC for the other islands.
If and when they wake up to the insanity of their "Big Wind" project and the fact that it is doomed to failure, hydroelectric is probably the next best technology in terms of cost of both development and future rates. But whether through pure laziness, corruption or pure stupidity the KIUC board of directors and administrative staff seems hell bent on committing us to a costly and widely-opposed way of going about it- one that, even if it were to succeed, would still leave us without a simpler, less costly statewide system for the next round of hydroelectric development.
The $325-400,000 we stand to lose in a "no" vote is peanuts compared to the cost of a "yes" vote down the road. Whether as a way to say no to FERC or to, in fact, SAVE us money, a "no" vote is the best option to get us out of this mess that the board of KIUC has gotten us into. That and remembering this fiasco during the next KIUC board of directors election.
Ea O Ka Aina: Say NO! to KIUC/FFP Deal 6/13/11