After Greece it's Italy

SUBHEAD: Berlusconi cave-in on austerity package sets path to Euro bailout as Italian bond yields top 6.5%. By John Glover on 7 November 2011 for Bloomberg News - (http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2011-11-07/italy-yield-surge-sets-berlusconi-on-bailout-path-euro-credit.html) Image above: A fist fight broke out in the Italian Parliament last month over pension austerity plans. From (http://www.thegatewaypundit.com/2011/10/fist-fight-breaks-out-in-italian-parliament-over-cuts). Italy’s record bond yields are sending the nation down the same path taken by Greece, Portugal and Ireland in the days before they were forced to seek rescues. Italy’s 10-year notes traded above 5.5 percent for 40 days before breaching the 6 percent mark on Oct. 28 and reaching as much as 6.68 percent today. The bailed-out nations followed a similar trajectory, consistently averaging above 6 percent for about a month before crossing the 6.5 percent barrier. After that, it took an average of 16 days for yields to pass the unsustainable 7 percent level. “The trend appears worryingly similar,” said Riccardo Barbieri, chief European economist at Mizuho International Plc in London. “Clearly, the longer it lasts, the worse it gets.” With almost 1.6 trillion euros ($2.2 trillion) of bonds outstanding, Italy has more liabilities than Spain, Portugal and Ireland combined, making it vulnerable to increases in borrowing costs. Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi triggered the latest surge in yields after bowing to domestic demands to water down a 45.5 billion-euro austerity package. Yields on Italy’s bonds rose even as the European Central Bank bought the securities. Italy’s 10-year borrowing costs have soared to a euro-era record of 473 basis points more than German bunds, the benchmark for Europe. Germany is able to borrow at a yield of 1.8 percent for 10 years, less than a third of the 6.52 percent Italy has to pay. Debt Insurance The cost of insuring Italy’s debt using credit-default swaps surged to 518 basis points today, approaching the record 534 reached in September, according to CMA. The contracts, whose cost has jumped from 405 basis points at the end of last month, rise as a borrower’s creditworthiness worsens. “The acceleration in Italy’s bond yields is very, very frightening,” said Gary Jenkins, the head of fixed income at Evolution Securities Ltd. in London “It’s surprising how quickly a difficult situation can become an impossible one. Politicians always think they have lots of time, but when the market decides to withdraw support, it can do so very suddenly.” Italy has to refinance 37 billion euros of bills and bonds by year-end and another 307 billion euros in 2012, Bloomberg data show. The nation pays an average of 4.15 percent for its debt, meaning next year’s interest payments will cost about 12.7 billion euros out of a total 54.4 billion-euro interest tab. Refinancing next year’s maturities at 7 percent would cost about an additional 8.7 billion euros. Very Difficult An increase of 1 percentage point in the nation’s borrowing costs boosts the interest bill by 0.2 percent of gross domestic product in the first year, 0.3 percent in the second and 0.5 percent in the third, said Mizuho’s Barbieri, citing Bank of Italy calculations. Yields are now more than 2 percentage points higher than the average since the inception of the euro. “Italy will be difficult, very difficult,” said Mirko Santucci, the Italian-born head of credit at Swisscanto Asset Management AG in Zurich, which manages the equivalent of about $42 billion in fixed income and credit. “The government there has to take important decisions and we don’t see it being able to do that. That said, while I can imagine a Europe without Greece, I can’t imagine a Europe without Italy.” Giuliano Ferrara, editor of newspaper Il Foglio and a former spokesman for Berlusconi, reported today that the prime minister may step down within hours and push for early elections. The beleaguered premier said yesterday he’s confident he has a parliamentary majority after two allied lawmakers defected to the opposition, and that he aims to complete his mandate through 2013. Internal Divisions “The government’s internal divisions remain the main problem for a country that now, more than ever, needs stability and credibility,” said Annalisa Piazza, a fixed-income strategist at broker Newedge Group in London. Berlusconi faced calls from the opposition to quit, and allies requested he broaden the backing for the government, after he announced Nov. 4 that he asked the International Monetary Fund to monitor Italy’s debt-reduction progress, while rejecting an offer of financial help. The prime minister, who delayed the release of his latest album of love songs because of the euro-region crisis, has been distracted from governing as he faces trial on charges of corruption, fraud and paying for underage sex. He denies any wrongdoing. Standard & Poor’s and Moody’s Investors Service both cited political instability and rising borrowing costs as risks to Italy meeting its fiscal goals when they downgraded the nation on Sept. 19 and Oct. 4. Even so, investors shouldn’t draw too many parallels with what happened to smaller, less-diversified economies when they look at Italy, said Fabio Fois, a European economist at Barclays Capital in London. “Investors want to see Italy doing the right thing,” said Fois. “The Italian economy is different and far larger, so the same yields don’t necessarily imply the same outcome as in Greece, Ireland and Portugal.” See also: Ea O Ka Aina: Greeks head for the exits 11/6/11 .

Critical State

SUBHEAD: We are hostages of big banking; big pharma; higher ed loan grifters; GMO agribiz; fast food and mandatory driving.  

By James Kunstler on 7 November 2011 for Kunstler.com -  
(http://kunstler.com/blog/2011/11/critical-state.html)


Image above: A rally for Pigasus, the pig candidate for President from the Yippie party during the Chicago 1968 Democratic Convention demonstartions. From (http://darkjive.com/2009/10/28/2318/).

Portents of winter and the toothless chatter of flag-draped traitors vies with a fog of lies spread by Koch Brother messenger boys, Reagan nostalgia hucksters, suck-ups in office, Murdoch empire servelings, Banker PR catamites, and Jesus terrorists to occupy the national mind-space with a narcotic Jell-O of half-formed wish fulfillment scams. The nation is hostage to a confederacy of racketeers. Banking. Big Pharma. The Higher Ed / Loan nexus. GMO agri-biz. Fast food. Mandatory motoring. You name it. What a disgrace we are, and the worst of us are the least to know that.

This winter will be the Occupy Movement's Valley Forge. An uneasy quiet may settle across this land blanketed in frozen dishonesty while OWS goes to the ground. Wait until next summer when the Occupiers head for the nominating conventions. Chicago in 1968 was nothing compared to what might go down in Charlotte, NC (Democrats) and Tampa, FLA (Republicans) in 2012. These two giant, useless, political bucket shops need to be put out of business and something else has to take their place. Who will be the new breed of genuine patriots? It would be nice to suppose that something noble and intelligent might emerge from the current miasma, a reality-based third party. But history isn't so reassuring.
I heard some rumors. Lawrence Kotlikoff at Boston University - the only economist in the USA with a coherent plan for banking, healthcare, tax, and entitlement reform - said on a podcast some weeks back that he was advising an un-named national figure who intends to mount a third party campaign. I didn't have a clue who that might be.
Last week in Virginia a professional political back-stager, who had worked for the DNC during the Howard Dean days, told me that New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg was stealthily hiring Hillary Clinton's old campaign staffers in seeming preparation for... something. Well, Bloomberg wouldn't have to take anybody else's money - and by "anybody" I mean especially the corporations because, you know, corporations are people, with free speech rights (and feelings!). It also happens that Bloomberg is neither a Republican or a Democrat, but a registered independent. Will he go to the ground, too, this winter like OWS, and wait for the public disgust to mount toward criticality? Hey, sometimes your country calls (for help!) and figures arise and they undertake what's necessary, even against type. Abe Lincoln, in 1859, was a railroad lawyer - the horror!
I have no idea who else might be waiting in the background, someone tortured with disgust by the leveraged buy-out of the American common good, someone capable of articulating the terms of the convulsion we face in national life if we don't start doing things differently. Surely in a population of 310 million you can find more than a few resolute personalities who refuse to just sit back and watch the sickening spectacle of inept vacillation.
Of course, the first order of business is to get corporate money out of politics. Are we capable of doing that? Can we legislate a redefinition of corporate "personhood?" After all, corporations have no allegiance whatsoever to the public interest, only to their shareholders and boards of directors. Who was the Supreme Court kidding when they proposed in 2010 that corporations have a personal stake in politics. Corporations are sociopaths. They need to be tasered!
The second order of business is to enforce the existing laws in money matters and bring back laws (e.g. the Glass-Steagall act) that were recklessly thrown away in the systematic bid to loot the working public; then move beyond that to contest the web of rackets that make it impossible for Americans to even take care of themselves.
The third order of business is to shut down the war industry and close hundreds of overseas military bases that are draining scarce public capital.
The fourth order of business is to prepare the US public for the realities of the post-Global economy and the post-cheap-energy way of life. Tell them the truth: we don't have "a hundred years" of natural gas. We can't drill-drill-drill our way to "energy independence." We have to get more local, less complex, finer, and leaner. Give the American people a clear sense of where circumstances are taking us, even if it is a tough assignment.
More likely, nobody will step forward to take on the two major parties. In which case, plan now to occupy the political conventions. Google-map your routes to Tampa and Charlotte (Home of Bank of America!). Stake out the campsites and cheap lodgings. Prepare to shame these organized grifters, and to turn their self-serving jamborees upside-down.

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Post 9/11 Hell

SUBHEAD: Me and OFAC and Ahmed the Egyptian - a misadventure in US Securityland.  

[IB Publisher's note: This is the 3,000th article we've published in the Ea O Ka Aina blog format begun in December of 2008]  

By Ann Jones on 3 November 2011 for Tom Dispatch -  
(http://www.tomdispatch.com/post/175462/tomgram%3A_ann_jones%2C_the_incredible_shrinking_woman_in_post-9_11_hell/#more)
 


 
Image above: CitiGroup name on their corporate headquarters in New York City. From (http://www.conspiracyplanet.com/channel.cfm?channelid=102&contentid=7810).
 


Where did I go wrong? Was it playing percussion with an Occupy Wall Street band in Times Square when I was in New York recently? Or was it when I returned to my peaceful new home in Oslo and deleted an email invitation to hear Newt Gingrich lecture Norwegians on the American election? (Yes, even here.)

I don’t know how it happened. Or even, really, what happened. Or what it means. So I’ve got no point -- only a lot of anxiety. I usually write about the problems of the world, but now I’ve got one of my own. They evidently think I’m a terrorist.

That is, someone in the U.S. government who specializes in finding terrorists seems to have found me and laid a heavy hand on my bank account. I think this is wrong, of course, but try to tell that to a faceless, acronymic government agency.

It all started with a series of messages from my bank: Citibank. Yeah, I know, I should have moved my money long ago, but in the distant past before Citibank became Citigroup, it was my friendly little neighborhood bank, and I guess I’m in a rut. Besides, I learned when I made plans to move to Norway that if your money is in a small bank, it has to be sent to a big bank like Citibank or Chase to wire it to you when you need it, which meant I was trapped anyway.

So the first thing I noticed was that one of those wires with money I needed never arrived. When I politely inquired, Citibank told me that the transaction hadn’t gone through. Why not? All my fault, they insisted, for not having provided complete information. Long story short: we went round and round for a couple of weeks, as I coughed up ever more morsels of previously unsolicited personal information. Only then did a bit of truth emerge.


The bank wasn’t actually holding up the delivery of the money. The funds had, in fact, left my account weeks before, along with a wire transfer fee. The responsible party was OFAC.

Oh what? I wondered. OFAC. It rhymes with Oh-Tack, but you’ve got to watch how you pronounce it. Speak carelessly and the name sounds like just what you might say upon learning that you’ve been sucked into the ultimate top-secret bureaucratic sinkhole. It turns out, the bank informs me, that OFAC is a division of the U.S. Treasury Department that “reviews” transactions.

“Why me?” I ask. As a long-time reporter I find it a strange question, as strange as finding myself working on a story about me.

By way of an answer, the bank refers me to an Internet link that calls up a 521-page report so densely typed it looks like wallpaper. Entitled “Specially Designated Nationals and Blocked Persons,” it turns out to be a list of what seems to be every Muslim business and social organization on the planet. That’s when I Google OFAC, go to its site, and find out that the acronym stands for the Office of Foreign Assets Control.

Its mission description reads chillingly. It “administers and enforces economic and trade sanctions based on U.S. foreign policy and national security goals against targeted foreign countries and regimes, terrorists, international narcotics traffickers, those engaged in activities related to the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, and other threats to the national security, foreign policy or economy of the United States.” And it turns out to be a subsidiary of something much bigger that goes by the unnerving name of “Terrorism and Financial Intelligence.”

Off With Her Head

Whoa! Perhaps it doesn’t help, at this moment, that I’ve just been reading Top Secret America: The Rise of the New American Security State, the scary new book by Washington Post reporters Dana Priest and William M. Arkin about our multiple, overfed, overzealous, highly-classified intelligence agencies, staffed in significant part not by civil servants but by profit-making private contractors. Suddenly, I feel myself in the grip of the national post-9/11 paranoia that hatched all that new “security.” (And you, too, could find yourself in my shoes fast.)

I check OFAC’s list more carefully. It’s in a kind of alphabetical order, but with significant incomprehensible diversions -- and if my name is there, I sure can’t find it. Since I’ve spent most of the last decade working with international aid organizations as well as reporting from some of the more strife-ridden lands on the planet, including Afghanistan, the only thing I can imagine is that maybe all those odd visas in my fat passport raised a red flag somewhere in Washington.

Next, I search for the name of my Norwegian landlady. Did I say that the wired funds that never arrived were meant to pay her my rent? She’s in India, a volunteer health-care worker with Tibetan refugees, currently helping refurbish an orphanage for 144 kids. (What could be more suspicious than that?) I can’t find her name either. No Anns or Heidis at all, in fact, among the raft of Mohammads and Abduls.

Heidi is a Buddhist. I’m an atheist. Almost everybody on the list seems to be Muslim, including really dangerous-sounding guys like “Ahmed the Egyptian.” But I guess that to a truly committed and well-paid terrorist hunter, we must all look alike.

I’m desperate to get the rent to Heidi so she can cover her own expenses as a volunteer; an international organization pays for the children’s needs, but Heidi does the work. So I call the American Embassy in Oslo and speak to a nice young woman in the section devoted to “American Citizen Services.” I tell her about me and OFAC and Ahmed the Egyptian. She says, “I’ve never heard of such a thing. But there are so many of these intelligence offices now, I guess I’ll be hearing these stories more often.” (Maybe she’s been reading Top Secret America, too.)

She takes it up with her superiors and calls me back. The Embassy can’t help me, citizen or not, she says, because they don’t handle money matters and have nothing to do with the Treasury Department.
“What? The State Department doesn’t deal with the Treasury?”
“No,” she says, “I guess not.”

Perhaps since I last paid attention the Treasury stopped being considered part of the government. Maybe it now belongs to Lockheed Martin.

At least the State Department has some compassion left in it. If I’m really destitute, she assures me, the Embassy might be able to give me a loan to pay for a plane ticket that would get my two cats and me back to the States. I guess it doesn’t occur to her that under the circumstances I might feel more secure in Norway.

Down the Rabbit Hole
Still, all I want to do is clear up this mess, so I put my head in the lion’s mouth and send an email directly to OFAC. I tell them that I’m in Norway for the year on a Fulbright grant as a researcher -- that is, as part of an international exchange program founded by a U.S. Senator and sponsored by the U.S. Government, or at least one part of the State Department part of it. Among my informal responsibilities, I add, is to be a goodwill ambassador for the United States, but I’m finding it really hard to explain to Norwegians that I can’t pay my rent because a bunch of terrorist-trackers in the pay of my government have made off with the money and left nothing behind but a list of Muslim names.

Remarkably quickly OFAC itself writes back, giving me the creepy feeling that it was lurking behind the door the whole time. It is sorry that I am “frustrated.” It will help me, but only if I supply a whole long list of information, mostly the same stuff I have already provided three times to the bank, the same information the bank later said wasn’t the issue after all. (Still later, the bank would say that I had given not too little information, but too much.) I send the requested tidbits back to “Dear OFAC Functionary or Machine as the case may be.”

Two days later comes another message from OFAC, this time signed by “Michael Z.” Like Afghans, or spies, he evidently has only one name, but my hopes that he might be an actual person inexplicably rise anyway -- only to sink again when he claims OFAC needs yet more information. All this so that Michael Z., presumed person, may help me “more effectively.” (More than what, I wonder?) He is, he insists, trying to locate my money with the help of my bank, which by the way is now blocking me from seeing information about my own account online.

It seems odd to me that this top-secret office of Financial Intelligence somehow can’t manage to lay hands on the money it snatched from me, but what do I know? I’m just a citizen.

Then -- are you ready for this? -- comes what should be a happy ending. A message from the bank tells me that the money has slipped through after all, and sure enough there it is at last in a Norwegian bank, only a month late. I won’t be evicted after all, and Heidi will make sure those Tibetan kids get some fresh fruit and brand new bright green curtains.

Still, this is not a cheery story. So I have to send my apologies to the long-dead Senator J. William Fulbright: I’m sorry indeed that certain changes in the spirit and operations of the United States have occurred since that day in 1948 when you launched your farsighted program of grants to encourage open international educational and cultural exchange. And I apologize that some of those changes may have temporarily cramped my style as a goodwill ambassador; I’ll try to get back on the job if I can just figure out what hit me.

Was this all simply a mistake? A technical glitch? An error at the bank? I’d like to think so, but what about that list of “Specially Designated Nationals and Blocked Persons”? Why was I directed to that? And what about Michael Z., who presumably is some kind of intelligence analyst at OFAC and who, when last heard from, was still seeking information and trying to find the money?

Frankly, this month-long struggle has left me mighty tired and uneasy. Right now, Senator Fulbright, I’m lying low, down here at the bottom of the rabbit hole, trying to make sense of things. (I took a last look at the “Blocked Persons” list, and just this week it’s grown by another page.) So I want to tell you the truth, Senator, and I think that with your great interest in peaceable international relations, you just may understand. Strange as it may seem, since I’ve been hunkered down here in the rabbit hole, I’ve worked up some sympathy for Ahmed the Egyptian who, I have a sneaking feeling, could be down here, too. It’s hard to tell when you’re kept in the dark, but maybe he’s just another poor sap like me, snarled in the super-secret security machine.

• Ann Jones is in Norway under the auspices of the Fulbright Scholar Program, researching the Norwegian economic, social, and cultural arrangements that cause it to be named consistently by the United Nations as the best place to live on earth. A TomDispatch regular, she is the author of Kabul in Winter (2006) and War Is Not Over When It’s Over (2010).
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Greeks head for the exits

SUBHEAD: Democracy is not dead in Greece, but as they near default it's been put on a ventilator. By Ashvin Pandurangi on 6 November 2011 for The Automatic Earth - (http://theautomaticearth.blogspot.com/2011/11/november-6-2011-democracy-isnt-dead-yet.html) Image above: Mashup of George Papandreou on a life support ventilator by Juan Wilson. "Canned laughter" is frequently used on TV shows to create the illusion of soothing, comedic value in the minds of the show’s viewers. Anyone who has watched a show with "canned laughter" is familiar with the logic. One of the characters says something or another that isn’t very interesting or funny, the laugh-track comes on and then we find ourselves forcing a smile or snicker as an almost "unconscious" reaction. Almost, but not quite, because many times we are still forced to face our participation in this contrived reality after the fact. The ongoing shows in the realm of the political economy are no different. They use their own versions of "canned laughter" to legitimatize a situation which is otherwise plainly illegitimate to those of us strapped into our seats, forced to watch along in agony. A great example of these political laugh-tracks is the "vote of no confidence" that is held in Parliamentary countries, where the appointed governments almost always survive in one piece by maintaining "party discipline" or slightly modifying policies to corral dissenters in. However, attempts to impose an artificial feeling of political satisfaction for the people and political legitimacy for the government cannot and will not be successful forever, under any and all circumstances, and that fact couldn't be any truer than it is now. It is evident from the "no confidence vote" that has just occurred in Greece, where Prime Minister George Papandreou was truly on the chopping block this time, and the one that will soon occur in Italy, where Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi will be as well. With regards to the former, Papandreou managed to survive with a slight majority of 153 votes (2 votes more than necessary), and is now claiming to be in talks with other parties about forming a "national unity government", which he almost assuredly will not be the leader of. At first blush, one could be forgiven for seeing the developments of last week in Greece, culminating in this vote of confidence for a future government coalition, as marking an unmistakable death blow to "democracy" in the developed world. Papandreou dangled the prospect of a truly democratic process in front of the Greek people as a ploy, to scare the opposition parties into throwing their support behind the oppressive EU deal of October 26 and joining a coalition government, after which both the referendum and the protection offered by "opposition" parties would be callously stripped away from the people. Indeed, a better example of blatantly anti-democratic tactics within a democracy cannot be found short of fiscal "supercommittees" and military coups. Papandreou’s government has now managed to stay in power (albeit in a different form), gain stronger commitments from opposition parties to the EU bailout/austerity deal and postpone new elections until after the deal passes and €8 billion from the IMF is disbursed to avoid "default". Merkel and Sarkozy will now sleep better knowing that the Greek people will be forced to play their part as victims in an epic criminal extortion scheme, without any inconvenient democratic processes, such as a referendum, interfering along the way. Or will they? Sometimes, when we get bogged down in the superficial details, we miss the bigger perspective that is evolving. Papandreou did win his confidence motion, but only by a slight majority of two votes, and it cost him his job. More importantly, it is not clear what kind of credible "coalition" government can be formed or whether it can really quell political dissent against the austerity deal. Now comes the part where ruling politicians must actually convince the various political factions that Papandreou's words to them in Parliament about "national unity" and "personal sacrifice" are more than just words. Deutsche Welle Reports:
Papandreou Wins Confidence Vote But Looks Set to Step Down
" It is a first in the constitutional history of Greece; parliament expressing its confidence in the prime minister so that he can soon resign. … If the conservatives continue with their refusal to take part in any government of national unity, it would leave the Socialists with no choice but to form a shrunken coalition with the populist right and the economically liberal "Democratic Alliance" of former Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis – seen as a rather pointless exercise. The leftist opposition signaled that it was particularly upset about the vote. "They want us to express our support for a government that is not even there anymore," said leader of the moderate Left Alliance Alexis Tsipras – with many commentators agreeing that there's an element of truth in Tsipras' assessment of the situation. "
CNN adds some more "clarity" to the ruling politicians' ambitious political plans for Greece (but against the people of Greece), and the ongoing negotiations with New Democracy opposition leader Samaras, who has so far refused to play his part in this Greek tragicomedy by demanding both Papandreou's resignation and snap elections for a new government within six weeks. Now it seems Papandreou has agreed to resign if a coalition government is formed, but Samaras refuses to be a part of any coalition until the resignation is put in writing, notarized and delivered to his doorstep, and only then will he be willing to discuss additional terms (i.e. when to hold elections). .

Lihue TSA radiation leak suspected

SUBHEAD: Radiation feared as cause of Lihue Airport shutdown as HazMat team test TSA equipment.

By Leo Azambuja on 4 October 2011 for the Garden Island - 
  (http://thegardenisland.com/news/local/article_68dacfc6-0787-11e1-8073-001cc4c03286.html)  

[IB Editor's note: We told you so. Maybe now the TSA management will come to their senses on the dangers imposed by irradiating everyone (including themselves). See below for more.]

 
Image above: A hazardous materials team member on Thursday night at Lihu‘e Airport. From original article.

 Mysterious emissions caused the Lihue Airport to shut down for a few hours Thursday evening and sent several Transportation Security Administration staff to Wilcox Memorial Hospital emergency room.

“Some sort of fumes affected 11 TSA personnel,” said Dan Meisenzahl, spokesman for the state Department of Transportation, adding that the cause of the incident is yet to be determined.

But at least one person who was working at the airport Thursday suspects the culprit was a radiation leak in one of the TSA screening booths.

“I was there all day, I can guarantee you there was no smell,” said an airport worker who asked not to be identified for fear of being terminated.

The worker said all TSA personnel who felt ill were working next to a TSA screening booth. He took several pictures of a hazardous materials response team examining the same booth with equipment that he was told was to measure radiation levels.

“It started around 2 p.m., when two girls were sent home,” said the worker, adding that the women were standing next to the same machine the HAZMAT team had allegedly tested for radiation.

After that, a domino effect ensued, he said, resulting in 11 workers being treated for sickness.

The worker was concerned that he, his co-workers and the thousands of passengers who went through the same booth Thursday could have been exposed to unsafe radiation levels.

Meisenzahl said Friday he had no idea about radiation testing.

On Thursday, Meisenzahl stated in a press release that the TSA workers at the main checkpoint experienced dizziness, nausea, headache, throwing up and a chemical taste in their mouths.

“The HAZMAT team of the Kaua‘i County Fire Department performed an extensive investigation and could not locate the cause,” he said Friday.

County spokeswoman Mary Daubert said the HAZMAT crew tested the center checkpoint for toxic and hazardous odors and substances and found none, and found no radiation.

Meisenzahl said all TSA personnel who got sick were treated at the scene by paramedics, who determined they were fine.

As a precaution, he said, TSA management urged all workers who got sick to go to the hospital for further tests.

“All but one agreed,” Meisenzahl said. “The doctors at the hospital also determined that they were all fine.”

He said on Friday that all machines were tested and are working properly. But concerning the workers, the only thing TSA was telling him was that the operations were back to normal. “So I assume that means all workers are back to their normal shift.”

Daubert said that after HAZMAT tested the area, it was deemed safe for workers and travelers to use.
Nothing similar has happened at any of Hawai‘i’s 15 airports, according to Meisenzahl. He had no information on the status of Mainland airports.

TSA spokesman Nico Mendez said the employees have been given a clean bill of health and TSA will continue to work with local officials to determine the cause of the incident.

“The health and welfare of our officers is paramount to the success of our agency and security of the airport,” he said.

The worker who spoke with The Garden Island said TSA staff always tells travelers to put down their cameras, prohibiting them from taking pictures at the airport.

“It makes you wonder what kind of stuff is going on there,” he said.

Meisenzahl said travelers are allowed to take pictures at the airport, but not of TSA equipment and checkpoints, per TSA policy.

See also:
Ea O Ka Aina: TSA Radiation Exposure 12/11/10
Ea O Ka Aina: Porno Scanner X-Ray danger 11/27/10
Ea O Ka AIna: TSA Humiliations 11/19/10
Ea O Ka Aina: Pushback Against TSA Security 11/17/10
Ea O Ka Aina: Resistance to Porno-Scanners Increases 11/15/10
Ea O Ka Aina: Don't Scan Me Bro 11/12/10
Ea O Ka Aina: National "Opt-Out" Day 11/11/10
Ea O Ka Aina: Pilots reject full body scanners 11/8/10
Island Breath: It's Fascism when it happens to you 5/14/08
Island Breath: Elephant Traps for Kauai? 12/1/07

 .

Preparing in Place for Collapse

SUBHEAD: As collapse nears we'll talk about preparing by hitting the road versus mitigating in place. By Guy McPherson on 5 November 2011 for nature Bats Last - (http://guymcpherson.com/2011/11/preparing-in-place-and-speaking-in-other-places) Image above: Detail from a turn of the 20th century Sears Roebuck Catalog. The "Cheapest Supply House on Earth. Our Trade Reaches Around the World". From (http://www.shadesofthedeparted.com/2010/12/date-with-old-photo.html).

There are various ways to ready oneself for the trip down the peak-oil curve, as well as for climate chaos. Most importantly, as I’ve indicated many times, is psychological readiness. If you are mentally prepared for a future radically different from the past you’ve known, you’re well on your way to thriving in the years ahead.

There are a couple general approaches one can pursue along the path of climate change and simultaneous collapses of the industrial economy and the living planet. You can hit the road, or you can mitigate in place. Either way, you’ll need to secure clean water and healthy food, maintain body temperature, and create and maintain a decent human community.

Either way, an adventure-filled life awaits. On the road, you’ll need quick wits, good interpersonal skills, and astonishing amounts of creativity, compassion, and courage. Ditto for mitigating in place. In this post, I’ll address the primary concerns associated with mitigating in place, with a particular focus on me and the mud hut (my favorite subject and my favorite location, respectively).

If you’re staying put, I suggest you pay attention to the 3 Rs of the future. No, not the educational ones from years gone by. And it’s far too late for the three Rs targeting reduced consumption in a nation build on consumption, two of which we have ignored because there is no financial profit in reducing and reusing. Recycling — the only one of these three relevant actions fascist Amerika promotes — is like an apology after a punch in the face (credit Mike Sliwa). We punch the planet in the face with every cultural act, and then we apologize by sorting plastic and aluminum into separate bins.

The three Rs of interest in this post are Relocalization, Redundancy and Reciprocity. We’re headed for a severely constrained future with respect to transport of materials and humans. The days of the 12,000-mile supply chain are nearly behind us. Forget about cheap plastic crap from China, expensive watches from Switzerland, and decent hand tools from the Sears Roebuck catalog: We’re going to have to make do with what we’ve got in the very local area. Before the supply chain breaks, we should work toward building a resilient set of living arrangements steeped in redundancy. After the supply chain breaks, it’ll be a little late to start digging a well and learning how to grow food.

Here at the Mud Hut, in Arizona, we pay serious attention to multiple sources of water (two solar pumps, hand pump, rainwater harvesting from two rooftops, and the nearby river), food (wildcrafting, orchard, gardens, goats for milk and cheese, eggs from ducks and chickens, and in the future, hunting relatively large-bodied animals), body temperature (well-insulated, passive-solar house, multiple awnings, proper clothing, and abundant water and firewood), and human community (abundance in this category exceeds my patience to explain again, but search the archives for a few hints).

I’ve no doubt we’re missing some things that will ease our lives in our post-carbon future. Some of these items will remain unknown, even to us, until it’s too late. I’m already missing a few things, even before the impending big crash leads to “lights out.” (As Dmitry Orlov uncharacteristically suggests, the day draws near. As “Tyler Durden” characteristically suggests, the day is near enough to be seen by a blind man.) And as I’ve mentioned a few hundred times, skyrocketing greenhouse gas emissions, along with wholesale destruction of the living planet, will seal our fate as a species unless we crash this luxury ship, and soon.

I know you’ve read this one before, but I’d love to have a solar ice-maker to cool our drinks and our bodies. But if the industrial economy reaches its overdue end within a few weeks, I won’t. And I suspect we’ll muddle through, until we don’t. I’d love to have more time to convince my human community to climb aboard the collapse train. But if the industrial economy reaches its overdue end within a few weeks, I won’t. And I suspect we’ll muddle through, until we don’t. I’d love to make a few more trips to discuss the dire nature of our predicaments with people who are aware and interested. But if the industrial economy reaches its overdue end within a few weeks, I won’t. And I suspect I’ll muddle through, although I’ll miss trips tentatively scheduled to Australia, New Zealand, Scotland, New England, and various places nearer the mud hut.

Closer to home, and closer to my heart, I’d love to have time for my parents — and the thousands of other winter immigrants descending on this area — to make the return trip to their northern homes. But if the industrial economy reaches its overdue end within a few weeks, or even within a few months, they won’t. And I have no idea how we’ll muddle through.

All things being equal,

1) I’d rather have the solar ice-maker in a community fully on-board with collapse.

All things being equal,

2) I’d rather make a multitude of excursions to exotic places.

All things being equal,

3) I’d rather my parents experience collapse in their own home.

But all things are not equal and, more than all these things,

4) I’d rather have a planet marked by much more abundance... and far fewer extinctions than we’re currently witnessing.

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"Bhutan Star" preserving culture

SUBHEAD: Wildly popular TV show's contestants sing nation's fading traditional songs in effort to save its heritage. By Ravi Nessman on 4 November 2011 for MSN - (http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/45161046/ns/world_news-south_and_central_asia/t/bhutan-idol-rocks-dragon-lutes-buddhist-hymns) Image above: Six of the twelve February 2011 contestants on "Bhutan Star". From (http://www.bhutanobserver.bt/two-contestants-come-back-by-wild-card-entry/). The musician strummed his dragon-headed lute, launching a nervous young woman into a high-pitched, ululating song broadcast live across the remote Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan.

The judges' were unsparing. She was out of synch with the music, one said. The other consulted historical scriptures and discovered she got the lyrics wrong.

It's clear "Bhutan Star" is not just another low-budget knockoff of the "American Idol" juggernaut. This wildly popular show, which forces contestants to sing the nation's fading traditional songs, is Bhutan's most promising weapon in its fight to save its culture from being overrun by globalization.

Conservative grandparents, Buddhist monks, rebellious teens and almost everyone else with a TV gather every Saturday and Sunday to watch contestants belt out classical Buddhist compositions. Jaded youngsters have started humming folk tunes in the street.

"When young guys like us can sing this, (kids) think, 'Why not?'" said Tandin Dorji, a 24-year-old office worker and a contestant on the show.

Nestled in the high peaks between India and China, the "Land of the Thunder Dragon" long maintained an insular existence, with traditions nearly frozen in amber and no paved roads, phones or postal service until the 1960s.

Men wore the gho, a knee-length robe, with high black socks and elaborately decorated silk boots. Women wore the kira, a floor-length woven dress. They snacked on toasted rice and butter tea and listened to homegrown music. Even as young Bhutanese went abroad to study, and Bollywood movies colonized the nation's two theaters, its traditions dominated.

Then, in 1999, came TV, the Internet and what Education Minister Thakur Powdyel calls "the onslaught of global culture."

The changes to this slow-paced nation of 700,000 were lightning fast.

Kids now wear jeans and leather jackets and gel their hair into spikes. They eat Lay's potato chips, drink Pepsi and listen to infectious Korean pop songs they pass around on cassettes and thumb drives. Kinzang Dema, the granddaughter of a renowned classical singer, sees no shame in playing Justin Bieber's "Baby" from her cellphone speaker.

"We get carried away by all that stuff," said Yeshi Dem, 15, who guiltily revealed her love for the Korean soap opera "Boys Over Flowers."

Sensing that guilt, Nidup Dorji, a popular 37-year-old writer, actor, composer and singer, wondered whether Bhutanese were ready to embrace their culture again, but with a modern twist.

He recorded a classical album in 2006 and was convinced it went blockbuster by Bhutan standards — selling 8,000 cassettes and 3,000 CDs — because he spiced it up with modern Spanish guitar and drums.

The next year he turned to TV.

He appropriated the format of "Idol," which he had seen on satellite TV. He then used Bhutan's pop genre known as rigsar to lure kids into watching the folk music called boedra and the more complex zhungdra, classical, high-pitched religious songs composed by Buddhist lamas and reminiscent of Chinese opera.

Each week, the contestants perform one rigsar song with a modern band on one side of the stage and one song of either boedra or zhungdra with a traditional band on the other playing the dramnyen lute, the yangchen dulcimer and the fiddle-like chiwang. There are two sets of judges as well.

Genteel criticism The series has the production quality of a junior high talent show held in a past-its-prime Vegas nightclub and broadcast on local public access television.

Some contestants start over, forget the words or sing seriously off-key. Most stand stock still, though a few slowly sway to the music.

Ugyen Tshomo's time ran out as she delivered a breathy, shaky performance and her mike was turned off. When she kept singing, it was turned back on.

The judges, while far more polite than those on "Idol," are brutal by the genteel standards of a country that measures its development by the homegrown calculation of Gross National Happiness.

One judge told a contestant she sang as if she had not had enough to eat. Another gave perplexing advice to former monk Tsheten G. Tashi, who forgot some lyrics and sang the rest far out of tune: "When two bulls fight, only one can win."

Tshering Lham sang a mournful lament in an ancient Tibetan dialect about a homesick princess who had to leave China to live with a king in Tibet.

Both judges give her six out of 10.

"You have a good voice, but you are not staying in tune," said Ugyen Tshering.

'The only entertainment we have' The show is run under a complex system that mixes judges' scores with cellphone text votes to whittle the 25 singers down, awards immunity to popular ones, lets judges save some voted off and throws two new "wild card" singers into the mix halfway through the season.

Though there are no weekly ratings, the show receives 70,000 to 80,000 text votes at 5 ngultrum (ten cents) a vote every week, Dorji said. It has sold thousands of cassettes and DVDs, inspired its own copycat show and been praised by the prime minister in Parliament for restoring Bhutan's dying musical heritage.

"It's the only entertainment we have in Bhutan," said 16-year-old Gyelwa Kuenzom. "We are learning from it, the traditional songs, it's really enjoyable."

Nearly all 900 monks in Tsheten Dorji's monastery watch the show.

"Wisdom is given by the words of some songs," the 29-year-old monk said.

"Bhutan Star" is only one part of an all-out scramble to protect the nation's culture.

Filmmaker Karma Tshering twisted another foreign import, the beauty pageant, to revive interest in old Bhutanese textiles. His Miss Bhutan contestants don't model swimsuits, but outfits from the 1800s borrowed from a museum as they answer questions on culture, language and traditional Buddhist manners.

The government, with its law requiring traditional dress in public widely flouted, has turned to the schools to win back the next generation, overhauling the curriculum to emphasize culture, religion and the environment, said Powdyel, the education minister.

Students now start the day with a two-minute exercise in Buddhist mindfulness, folding their hands in their laps, closing their eyes and clearing their heads of Facebook friends, Twitter messages and other distractions.

"What is modern is always more tempting and even more aggressive. It might not necessarily be more authentic and fulfilling," Powdyel said.

Preserving culture At Lung Tenzampa Middle Secondary School, principal Kinley Pem said it's working: Many children have traded in their Nike book bags for traditional woven ones. Those with long, gelled hair and blonde highlights acceded to haircuts that were not exactly forced on them, but were the result of intense pressure.

"We were happy that we could get them back to the culture," she said.

But Pem was ambivalent about TV. "The children, they learn a lot. They are very expressive, confident," she said, crediting foreign shows. On the other hand, "they want to be like the Koreans."

"Bhutan Star" is making at least a small dent in that, said Kheng Dema Wangchuk, 25, a contestant on an earlier season of the show who now plays in its classical band.

Audiences for his traditional gigs in local clubs have tripled as Bhutanese realize pop tunes are only popular for a month or two, while classical songs last for generations, he said.

Yet Dorji, the producer, constantly struggles with the delicate balance of bringing his audience back to its cultural roots while still keeping it entertained.

While crimson robed monks sat beside parents in traditional dress at a recent "Bhutan Star" concert at a packed amphitheater, at least half the crowd wore Western clothes as they listened to a cover version of Cee-Lo's U.S. pop hit "Forget You," playing from the speakers before the show.

And while the contestants wore traditional dress, they sang only modern rigsar music; Dorji said the crowd was in no mood for education.

"If we played classical music," he said, "this place would clear out."

Bankster killer instinct AWOL

SUBHEAD: Financial players seem to have missed opportunities to ravage Occupy Wall Street movement. By Susab Antilla on 3 November 2011 for Bloomberg News - (http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2011-11-03/wall-street-killer-instinct-awol-in-occupy-spat-susan-antilla.html) Image above: Illustration from video game "Hitman". From (http://www.thesmokinggun.com/documents/occupy-wall-street-trademark-986531). I’m starting to get worried that Wall Street and its supporters are losing their touch. The initial signs that the free marketeers were off their game didn’t have me all that alarmed. There was the collection of senior people in finance who, in a New York Times article, largely dismissed the Occupy Wall Street protesters as slackers with too much time on their hands, though there wasn’t much shock value there. It would take some deep thinking for a captain of finance to make the connection between a dearth of jobs and a surfeit of time for demonstrating. Then there were the noisy cheerleaders of capitalism who busied themselves with trash-talking the protesters just as poll results started to show that much of the public was sympathetic to the views of the movement. “Occupiers are arrogant, spoiled white kids who think they should be able to take public space from all of us for THEIR freedom of speech,” went one comment on a Twitter account that calls itself ‘DefendWallSt.” “I wonder what smells worse, the hippies at OccupyWallStreet in LibertyPark OR the Staten Island Dump!” read another tweet from Provide Security, a New Jersey operation engaged in information-technology security, executive protection and -- if they play their cards right -- perhaps a whole new business in aromatherapy solutions for urban landfills. The site of the New York protests, Zuccotti Park (formerly Liberty Plaza Park), seemed to smell just fine the day I stopped by last month. Tone Deaf The existence of enthusiastic financiers who are sometimes tone-deaf about the little guy is hardly the stuff of Earth- shattering column fodder. What’s surprising to me is that Wall Street seems to have lost its mojo. It was a married couple on Long Island, not some cagey investment bank, who first filed with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office to lay claim to the slogan “Occupy Wall Street” for use on things like T-shirts and bumper stickers. Nobody at an investment bank thought to lock up that slogan -- and throw away the key -- with a filing of their own? And there’s mutiny out there with the public yanking money out of accounts to make a statement about the avarice of too- big-to-fail banks. Perhaps panicky that unhappy customers had figured out they might be better treated by consumer-friendly credit unions, even Bank of America Corp. abandoned plans to charge a monthly nuisance fee on debit-card transactions. This, of course, isn’t the way capitalism is supposed to work in an era of “socialism for the banks,” and “free markets for the little people.” What’s happened to finance’s killer instinct? When the public takes money out of one product, Wall Street is supposed to be waiting with another. If this isn’t an opportunity to come up with the post-meltdown version of auction-rate securities, I don’t know what is. But I haven’t even spotted a slick new mutual fund that promises to make money by investing in populist rage. The weakened state of Wall Street is even on display in its dealings with big customers. In cities from coast to coast, municipal leaders are starting to say that if a bank wants to get their business, it had better start hustling to modify mortgages and consider the lending needs of the community. It’s possible that Wall Street’s leaders assume that the problem will go away as cold weather sets in, and neighbors and businesses complain about the disruption caused by protesters. Then again, it’s possible that financial companies are right on top of all this with sneaky new products and payoffs to politicians and I’m just too clueless to have figured it out. Wall Street ‘Explode’ Beverly Gage, the author of “The Day Wall Street Exploded,” told me in a telephone interview that Occupy Wall Street shares traits with previous movements that wound up having legs. The Yale University history professor, whose book chronicled the Sept. 16, 1920, bombing near the New York Stock Exchange, says the nasty talk about smelly hippies and plotting socialists is standard fare. “If there is one thing that’s absolutely true about any movement targeting Wall Street it’s that there are accusations that there’s something un-American about it,” she said. Gage says she doubts that protesters in cities such as New York will be deterred as winter approaches. The important marker in a movement is that demonstrators successfully “insist certain questions be part of the conversation.” Already, the Occupy Wall Street movement has heated up the national conversation about income inequality. Meanwhile, capitalism’s boosters keep making things worse for themselves. After the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee e-mailed supporters to ask them to sign a petition supporting Occupy Wall Street, angry financial-services executives made it clear to Democrats that they “can’t have it both ways,” according to an article by Politico.com. Translation: Democrats had better not expect donations if they side with the 1 percent-bashers. Of course, it’s just that sort of checkbook politics that the protesters are railing about, so the bullying only served to make the movement look smart. You’ve got to wonder why the big banks don’t see the light and do what they do best: co-opt the protesters, just like they did the Democrats. It is, after all, getting chilly in the Northeast, opening vast opportunities for the financial world to score points. The New York Stock Exchange, just blocks from Zuccotti Park, could welcome the Occupiers for tours of the nice, warm trading floor as bitter weather sets in. Who knows what good might result if the banks got to know the protesters a little better, and vice versa? Banks are flush with cash after getting bailed out by the Troubled Asset Relief Program, or TARP. The protesters have an ever-greater need for donations of warm gear and covers to keep dry. There’s a “My TARP is your tarp” synergy to it. If the ball got rolling, it would only be a matter of time before some of those unemployed protesters were sporting Paul Stuart jackets and interviewing for internships with stock-exchange members. Move On Sadly, I don’t think the NYSE is considering my strategy. On Oct. 24, it refused to let activist film maker Michael Moore even stand on the sidewalk outside the exchange for an interview with a reporter from CNBC. In a separate move, Goldman Sachs Group Inc. yanked its sponsorship of a fund-raising dinner scheduled for last night for a New York City credit union after it learned that one of the evening’s honorees would be Occupy Wall Street. The securities industry gets together for its annual conference in New York on Nov. 7, but the Wall Street protest heard around the world “is not on the agenda,” according to Liz Pierce, a spokeswoman for the Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association. I suppose you could argue that the ire of the 99 percenters doesn’t matter all that much to Wall Street as long as firms can keep hold of their platinum-level customers. There are still rich people whose lives were untouched by the economic crisis, and how could they not be repulsed by the noisy, stinking hippies who are disturbing the peace? Or not. When I visited New York’s Zuccotti Park, I noticed a nicely dressed couple in their 80s who had stopped to take a few photos of the demonstrators. Harvey and Roberta Teitelbaum, from Chicago, told me they were visiting for a long weekend of sightseeing and Broadway shows. “What do you think of these people?” I asked, bracing to hear a rant about, well, noisy, stinking hippies disturbing the peace. “I believe in what they’re doing because banks and big companies have ripped off the country,” Harvey Teitelbaum told me. “Let’s change this country.” I hate to tell you, Wall Street, but the Teitelbaums looked like they shopped at the same stores your best customers frequent. What will happen if your most-coveted clients start to think the kids huddled under blue tarps are on to something? .

Occupy Oakland & Black Bloc

SUBHEAD: Occupy Oakland November 2nd General Strike confrontations with Black Bloc efforts.  

By Staff on 3 November 2011 for the Energy Bulletin -  
(http://www.energybulletin.net/stories/2011-11-03/occupy-nov-3)


Image above: Detail of Occupy Oakland poster for November 2nd General Strike. Click to enlarge. From (http://rortybomb.wordpress.com/2011/11/01/an-interview-with-a-member-of-occupy-oakland-about-tomorrows-general-strike).
 
Vandals hijack Occupy Oakland protests
Justin Elliott, Salon
Thanks to a splinter group of protesters in Oakland last night, the news today is leading with imagery of burning barricades and headlines about property destruction.

The Times notes that this was a tiny portion of the thousands of Occupy protesters that marched in support of a general strike earlier in the day:
Tear gas hung over Oakland for the second time in two weeks after a small group of demonstrators faced off against police early Thursday following a peaceful march of thousands of Occupy Oakland protesters.
A roving group of about 100 mostly young men broke from the main group of protesters in a central plaza and roamed through downtown streets spraying graffiti, burning garbage and breaking windows. The police said some in the group briefly occupied a building on 16th Street near the port.
... As I’ve previously written, protesters who destroy property or attack police are playing into the hands of the movement’s critics. Andrew Breitbart’s website is already trumpeting this video of a few “black bloc” types trying to break windows and a fence at a Whole Foods in Oakland, while others in the crowd try to convince them to stop:

(3 November 2011) This incident seems to be yet another example of the Black Bloc phenomenon. See Wikipedia for background. It's a tactic rejected by almost all the participants in demonstrations, including Marxists.
 
'No Violence!': 99 Percenters stop 'Black Bloc' vandals  
Zaid Jilan, Think Progress
  A common tactic by the American media during protest coverage is to focus on violent, sensationalist incidents. Yesterday, while thousands marched and went on strike in Oakland, a handful of “black bloc” demonstrators tried to vandalize a Whole Foods grocery store. Incensed by this behavior, a group of 99 Percenters surrounded the store and started yelling, “No violence!” The protesters succeeded in stopping the vandals from seriously damaging the store. Watch it:

 
Video above: Occupy Oakland members defend Lakeshore Drive Whole Foods from property damage from black bloc vandals. From (http://youtu.be/rWm2ZJbATHc).  

Self-Policing: Another Part of the Occupy Story  
Michael Shaw, Bag News Notes
Yes, there was a group of black-shirts in Oakland yesterday that vandalized a Whole Foods and smashed a bank window. We’ll have to see what the media does with that. The overall story, however, given the fact that the city largely removed its police from the action, is that the march and general strike was not only impressive in scale, but overwhelmingly peaceful.

As I mentioned in the previous post, I had the chance to spend some time in Zuccotti Park yesterday talking to members of the community there. One of the protesters spoke to me at length about camp rules, rule enforcement and self-policing, also pointing out people detailed to security who were otherwise regular “camp citizens.”

Not that you would notice it right off, but video from Oakland yesterday provides a good example of how the movement is employing peace-keeping and security as part of its very complex agenda.
Yes, there is Oakland Trib video showing the black-shirts apparently overcoming an Occupy security guy (yellow helmet), then wreaking their havoc. But then, there is also this video where the screen grabs above came from. What happens in this clip is that a group of protesters approach a Bank of America where they begin to violently bang on the window. The aggression is too much for the first Occupy security guy to handle, but very quickly and sure-handedly, a second Occupy security guy (the one with the green hat) steps in and takes control. In a second, these two guys, along with a woman, apparently affiliated with a local union, are calmly protecting the bank, the situation de-escalating so fast that, in the next instant, we see a girl standing where the rabble-rousers were eating a popscicle as the demonstrators rejoin the march.

I’m not saying there aren’t going to be incidents of violence as OWS tries to contain and control a growing movement, one which is attracting all types of disenfranchised people, including the 1% of bad actors looking for trouble. At the same time, I’m assuming Occupy — which is proving itself remarkably savvy at organization and “self-government” — will continue to improve their self-policing. Something that remains to be seen, however, is whether traditional media picks up on the fact. (2 November 2011)

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Big Wind hits state roadblock

SOURCE: Laurel Douglass (douglassl001@hawaii.rr.com) SUBHEAD: Castle & Cooke has veto power over all other alternatives, therefore the DBEDT proposal is a sham. By Henry Curtiss on 3 November 2011 for Disappeared News - (http://www.disappearednews.com/2011/11/big-wind-hits-road-blocks-from-state.html) Image above: Police roadblock in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii. From (http://www.photographersdirect.com/buyers/stockphoto.asp?imageid=2308292).
A few years ago HECO released a Request for Proposal which asked for 100 MW of renewable energy for O`ahu. Castle & Cooke proposed 400 MW from Lana`i and First Wind proposed 400 MW from Moloka`i. A settlement was reached where 200 MW would come from each island.
Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement
Using federal Stimulus Funds, AECOM was hired by DBEDT to write the Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement (PEIS) for Big Wind.
The PEIS Preparation Notice was released in December 2010. The PEIS Scoping document looked at only two options: Big Wind with planning and Big Wind without planning.
Public comments poured in during the December 2010 to March 2011 comment period. Federal, state and county agencies and federal , state and local non-profit organizations pointed out the an EIS is required to take a “hard look” at a full range of alternatives.
State Procurement Office
DBEDT felt that they needed more money to complete the EIS process, so they asked the State Procurement Office to exempt the additional studies from a competitive bid solicitation. DBEDT reasoned that since AECOM already had a foot in the door, and thus would have a leg up on any potential rival, AECOM should be given more funds outside of the procurement code.
DBEDT is “requesting broadening the scope of services with no additional costs to state, but funding for original contract and inclusion of the broader scope comes from ARRA funds that needed to be expended by 04/30/12.”
As DBEDT continued to examine the public comments they came to realize that more alternatives needed to be examined within the EIS process, so they added industrial scale solar and geothermal alternatives on Maui but opted not to examine centralized and dispersed solar options on O`ahu and geothermal from the Big Island.
On September 29, 2011 DBEDT filed Amendment 1 with the State Procurement Office “ requesting the additional scope of services (solar/photovoltaic and geothermal) at an additional cost of $2.1 mil [million].”
The Amendment stated in part: “after DBEDT compiled and sorted through comments from more than 250 individuals and entities, it became apparent that the request from the public for DBEDT to study additional renewable energy technologies as part of the programmatic EIS was an overwhelmingly common theme.”
On October 27, 2011, the State Procurement Office rejected the exemption. “It seems very short sighted and detached from the subject matter on DBEDT’s part that the public had to inform them they should consider solar/photovoltaic and geothermal technologies. DBEDT knew of these technologies at the time they issued the initial solicitation and had the opportunity to include it in the solicitation for proper disclosure and open competition. DBEDT chose the narrow scope of services.”
Public Utilities Commission
First Wind’s Moloka`i proposal collapsed since they could not secure a site.
Recently the PUC opened a docket so that HECO could ask for competitive bids to make up for that 200 MW. The PUC said that any renewable from any island that could connect to O`ahu would be considered.
Hawaiian Electric Company file a Draft Request for Proposal for 200 MW of renewable energy with the PUC. HECO insisted that anyone who proposes a solution using Neighbor Island resources has to have a way of delivering the power to O`ahu, and that anyone who proposes to build a cable to O`ahu from anywhere has to include a cable from Lana`i to O`ahu.
Castle & Cooke is in negotiations with Moloka`i Ranch and Pattern Energy for a 200 MW windfarm on Moloka`i and to increase Lana`i’s proposed wind farm from 200 MW to 400 MW.
Thus any other Neighbor Island proposal would be dead on arrival, since proposing a cable to Lana`i requires getting David Murdoch’s approval to land a cable on Lana`i and interconnect it to the Lana`i wind farm. Castle & Cooke has veto power over all other Neighbor Island submittals and therefore the DBEDT proposal to look at other Maui alternatives is a sham.
Proposed Regulatory Interventions
Four groups have requested to the PUC that they be admitted as parties in the RFP regulatory proceedings: (1) Friends of Lana`i, represented by Attorney Isaac Hall; (2) I Aloha Molokai; (3) Lana`i and Moloka`i Hawaiians (Kaulana Kaho'ohalahala, Clarence Halona Kaopuiki, and Matthew Mano) represented by the Native Hawaiian Legal Corp. (NHLC); and (4) Life of the Land.
The Consumer Advocate took no position on the proposed interventions, while HECO always opposes anyone who seeks to become a party in any utility action.
Friends of Lana`i attorney Isaac Hall noted that the greatest length of the “required” Lana`i-O`ahu cable is in waters beyond three miles from the shore, in an area that the PUC does not have jurisdiction over. In addition, the PUC does not have the legal authorization to require competitively bidding for transmission lines or fuel, only power generators.
HECO’s Request for Ratepayer Funds to Pay for Big Wind Studies
In other action before the PUC, HECO is stonewalling on the release of documents to Life of the Land via discovery. In essence, HECO wants ratepayer funds to cover studies without submitting any proof that the studies were done in the public interest.
Association of Hawaiian Civic Clubs
On October 29, 2011, at the Annual Convention of the Association of Hawaiian Civic Clubs at Turtle Bay, Resolution 11-50 was passed: “Urging Governor Neil Abercrombie and the Hawai`i State Legislature to Support Sustainable, Low Impact Alternative Energy that will make O`ahu Energy Self Sufficient Rather than Dependent upon Lana`i and Moloka`i for its Energy and Protect the Open Spaces, Natural Resources and the Hawaiian Lifestyle of Moloka`i, the last Hawaiian Island.”
The Resolution stated in part: “the proposed development of a 200 megawatt industrial farm on Molokai will turn Kaluako`i, Moloka`i into an industrial wasteland with 42-story high towers (tallest Moloka`i building is 3 stories), with 3 blades, each larger that a Boeing 747 wing; 725 ton concrete bases that are 60 feet in diameter and 10-20 feet deep” and “in two surveys on Moloka`i with an accumulated response from 1,000 people, 99% said NO to Big Wind” See also: Ea O Ka Aina: HECO's new RFP for Big Wind 7/22/11 Ea O Ka Aina: Blow me! 7/13/11 Ea O Ka Aina: Lanai challenges Big Wind 4/28/11 Ea O Ka Aina: Big Wind Storm 4/15/11 .

PG&E begins removing smart meters

SOURCE: Ray Songtree (hapa@afterenlightenment.net) SUBHEAD: The burden of responsibility is on the utilities to demonstrate that any new meter they want to install is safe. By OnTheLevel on 1 November 2011 for Stop Smart Meters - (http://stopsmartmeters.org/2011/11/01/pge-begins-removing-smart-meters-due-to-health-effects) Image above: One way to defend your analog meter from replacement, From (http://stopsmartmeters.org/2011/05/11/defend-your-analog-meter-part-iii). Just as PG&E enters the final phase of its deployment of wireless “smart” meters in California, the largest of the state’s Investor Owned Utilities (IOU’s) has reversed course, quietly beginning to replace the ‘smart’ meters of those reporting health impacts with the old trusty analog version. Consumer rights and health groups immediately seized on the news, demanding that millions of Californians unhappy with their new wireless meters get their analogs returned immediately at no cost.

‘Smart’ meters are new wireless utility meters being installed as part of the “smart” grid initiative, spearheaded by technology firms and backed by the Obama administration and the Department of Energy. Promises ranging from lower utility bills to enhanced renewable generation capacity have failed to materialize, with widespread reports of higher bills, privacy violations, fires and explosions, and commonly reported health impacts such as headaches, nausea, tinnitus, and heart problems associated with powerful wireless transmissions. Widely disparate political groups- from members of the Green Party to the Tea Party and Occupy protesters have attacked the program, and dozens of grassroots organizations have sprouted up over the past several months to fight what they call an undemocratic, unconstitutional and dangerous assault on people in their own homes and neighborhoods. Dozens of people have been detained or arrested for peaceful civil disobedience and even simply speaking out against deployments.[1]

In California, more than 47 cities and counties have demanded a halt to installation, and a dozen local governments have passed laws prohibiting the controversial technology. [2] The ‘smart’ meter issue has further angered a public already seething at the utilities over repeated gas explosions, safety breaches at nuclear reactors, and an increasingly extortionate rate structure. Word of California’s ‘smart’ meter nightmare has spread across the country and around the world, prompting some utilities to place smart meter plans on hold, and recently Nevada’s PUC to call for investigations into the health effects and other smart meter problems.[3]

Now in a dramatic turnaround that could signal the beginning of a widespread recall of wireless ‘smart’ meters, on October 28th PG&E re-installed a classic spinning disc analog meter on the home of Santa Cruz, CA resident Caitlin Phillips, who had been suffering headaches and other symptoms from her ‘smart’ meter. The move comes in response to verbal directives from the California Public Utilities Commission President Michael Peevey, who recently told members of the public that the utility “will provide for you to go back to the analog meter if that’s your choice.” The CPUC has been slow to respond to thousands of ordinary citizens reporting health effects from the new meters.

When a Wellington Energy installer (contracted with PG&E) came to install a smart meter at her home, Caitlin asked the installer to get off her property and not install, because of what a neighbor had told her about possible health damage and privacy violations. “When I returned home later, I discovered a smart meter on my house. That night I awoke to severe anxiety, headache, and buzzing in my teeth, and realized the new smart meter was on the other side of the wall from my bed.” Caitlin reported her experience to PG&E and the CPUC, who both declined to rectify the situation. When the symptoms persisted, Caitlin sought the assistance of the Scotts Valley based group Stop Smart Meters! who provided an analog meter and referred her to a professional who could help her remove her ‘smart’ meter. As soon as the analog was installed, Caitlin’s symptoms disappeared.

Frustrated and outraged about her treatment by the utility and the PUC, Caitlin travelled to San Francisco to speak at a commission meeting on Oct. 20th. About a week later, PG&E crews were at her house replacing her temporary analog meter with a brand new official PG&E analog meter. This is believed to be the first time PG&E have willingly replaced an analog meter on the home of someone suffering from health effects.[4]

An “opt-out” proceeding overseen by an Administrative Law Judge is underway at the CA Public Utilities Commission, yet those suffering (in some cases severe) health impacts have been stuck in limbo as utilities refuse to remove the harmful meters upon request- until now.

“There are hundreds of thousands- if not millions- of people suffering in their homes from forced ‘smart’ meter radiation,” said Joshua Hart, Director of the grassroots organization Stop Smart Meters! “The utilities and PUC’s must respond promptly to all requests that analogs be returned. The alternative is that people will increasingly turn to independent professionals to remove unwanted ‘smart’ meters from their homes, a reasonable action we assert is within our legal rights. Protecting your family’s health is not tampering.”

PG&E and other utilities have also been responding to health complaints by replacing wireless ‘smart’ meters with digital meters that are “wireless-ready.” These digital meters have been associated with health problems from “dirty electricity” frequencies that pass into a home via the electrical wiring. These “trojan horse” meters have been roundly rejected by those who report continuing health impacts after installation. Susan Brinchman, Director of San Diego based Center for Electrosmog Prevention. said “At this point, the burden of responsibility is on the utilities to demonstrate that any new meter they want to install on our homes is safe. Communities have the right to retain analog meters at no extra charge. Period.”

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APEC as corporate colonization

SOURCE: Laurel Douglass (douglassl001@hawaii.rr.com) SUBHEAD: Moana Nui speakers say APEC is 'Colonization Today in Real Time'. By Jon Letman on 2 November for Civil Beat - (http://www.civilbeat.com/articles/2011/11/02/13476-moana-nui-speakers-say-apec-is-colonization-today-in-real-time) Image above: Graphic by Santi Hitorangi for Moana Nui. From (http://moananui2011.org).

Next week, as Honolulu is engulfed in a veritable sea of Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) delegates, corporate executives, CEOs, finance ministers, international media and the heads of state of the 21 member economies, a different international gathering called Moana Nui will take place (Nov 9-11) in which experts, activists, academics and thinkers from around the Asia Pacific will gather to discuss an alternative to the APEC model.

In this first of three articles examining just a few of the more than 30 participating Moana Nui speakers, two leading voices explain why they are highly critical about APEC and associated free trade agreements (FTAs).

Victor Menotti is executive director of the International Forum of Globalization (IFG), a San Francisco-based North-South research and educational institution that provides analysis and critiques of economic globalization. He is critical of the policies and practices of APEC, arguing that they are damaging to indigenous and traditional communities, fragile ecosystems and the resources within, and the environment as a whole.

Corporate Rape and Pillage

He pulls no punches: “APEC is a corporate agenda. It’s about the industrial economy with policies that read as if they’re straight out of the WTO rule book. This is trade liberalization and getting governments, which are supposed to express the people’s will, out of the way of ‘economic freedom’ which is code for corporate rule. This is corporate rape and pillage,” Menotti says.

He calls APEC “primarily a business forum and its economic collaboration with a particular role for government,” adding, “It’s what we’ve seen since the Washington Consensus onwards.”

Menotti is not singling out APEC. He says the IMF (International Monetary Fund), the WTO (World Trade Organization) and similar bodies claim to pursue “economic integration” but the results are a disintegration of cultures, ecosystems, societies and social safety nets.” In more blunt terms, he calls APEC “colonization today in real time.”

APEC may claim it pursues the goals of peace and prosperity but, according to Menotti, it has the opposite effect.

for more of this article click here.


SUBHEAD: Description of an Alternative International Conference on Pacific Transitions

Pacific Peoples, Lands & Economies (http://moananui2011.org)

[ November 9-11, 2011 Honolulu, Hawaii]

CONVERGENCE or RESISTANCE

Asia, the Pacific Rim, the Pacific Islands

The Asia-Pacific region; nations of the Pacific rim which include Australia and the American and Asian nations, including Pacific Island nations are an increasing focus of geopolitical competition and economic stresses. Struggles for national sovereignty and cultural viability bring about rapidly expanding campaigns toward economic self-sufficiency.

These campaigns challenge the legacies of colonialism, continued militarism in the region, growing trade and development conflicts, and corresponding environmental degradations. Whose interests are advanced in these struggles? Whose views are served? What are the dominant economic interests in play? How do we take control of our future? Which is the best way forward—convergence or resistance?

Organized by a partnership of scholars, community and political activists and Hawaiian and Pacific Islander cultural practitioners, Moana Nui is intended to provide a voice and possible direction for the economies of Pacific Islands in the era of powerful transnational corporations, global industrial expansion and global climate change.

This conference will issue a challenge to Pacific Island nations and communities to look for cooperative ways to strengthen subsistence and to protect cultural properties and natural resources. The timing of this conference is intended to overlap the next meeting of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) in Honolulu, and hopes to call public attention to the critical importance of maintaining sound and productive local economies in the Pacific Islands both for their own sake and food security in the world.

Invited speakers will include Native economists, farm and fishery practitioners, advocates for political and economic sovereignty, specialists in media, public education, environmental studies and law. The conference will be open to the public and the conveners will seek to facilitate the attendance of practitioners from other Pacific Islands.

All of the proceedings will be documented by video and a published collection of the presentations is anticipated.

We welcome the participation of all Pacific Island advocates and practitioners.

For further discussion and information, find us on facebook at Moana Nui 2011, visit the International Forum on Globalization website or contact admin@moananui2011.org.

PUBLIC EVENTS: Nov. 10, 8:30AM - 9PM Church of the Crossroads, 1212 University Ave. Honolulu. Suggested donation $10-15/day. Nov. 11, 8:30AM - 6PM University of Hawaii, Hawaiian Studies Department Auditorium. Suggested donation $10-15/day. (NOTE: Nov 9. All day private gathering of Pacific-based indigenous practitioners/advocates)

For those who are purchasing tickets to attend both Moana Nui and APEC Conference, note that APEC has changed their dates to Nov. 7-13.

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The World after Industrialization

SUBHEAD: The breakdown of the global corporate culture will assure a world of bioregional nations and tribes. By Jan Lundgren on 20 October 2011 for Culture Change - (http://www.culturechange.org/cms/content/view/785/1/) Image above: Detail of of photo "Fridge Henge at Sunset" by Longrisita. From (http://www.flickr.com/photos/longristra/124213144/lightbox/). [Author's note: Keith Farnish has a problem with Western Civilization. So do I. I mean, Mozart is all well and good, but destroying the planet through industrialism and growth isn't quite worth civilization's accomplishments. Or is extinction a small price to pay for our glorious expansion? The downsides are hard-wired to the dominant culture.

Even if sustainability were not a critical issue, for anyone to have to pay to live on Earth is a ridiculous notion for a society to undertake. But this is our brilliant system, whereby people are conditioned to compete and buy into their own slavery. Abandoning nature in order to have to buy pieces of it as commodities is inefficiency and waste of the tallest order. Modern man is demonstrably stupid to rely on unnecessary slavery, whereas any animal smart enough to survive in the wild cannot be stupid and is no kind of slave.

One form of human enslavement is to tolerate massive pollution, such as the sum of greenhouse gas output from the technological giants China and the U.S. One can surmise that those of us who sit by and do not lift a finger lack a "survival gene" in our evolutionarily strange times.

Keith asked me, in the spirit of co-liberation for humanity and the species we have enslaved, to furnish a chapter to his upcoming book Underminers: A Practical Guide for Radical Change. Upon reading the introduction he wrote, I'm in support of the project. The following is what he got from me in early October of this year.]

I like to think that critics of civilization are above all compassionate, nonviolent and realistic. So perhaps we can keep in mind that wishing for quick change to save the planet and throw off the shackles of capitalism and authoritarianism has to be weighed with today's vast dependence on industry. Yes, the economy will collapse and end most greenhouse gas emissions. But this is not to say everything will be just fine as soon as manufacturing and oil-powered transport stop. There will be severe repercussions to "lifelines" of energy, food and materials being cut or terminated.

As industrial civilization is built on exploiting nonrenewable "resources" (many of which should never have been tapped), and human population and consumption of manufactured materials are near peak, the unsustainability of unlimited industrialism should be obvious.

Whether the unsustainability is obvious or not, collapse can be sudden and rapid, as the house-of-cards economy built on cheap, ample petroleum can have the rug pulled out from under it by any break in the chain. Then the infrastructure fails once and for all, beginning the final rusting of the machinery of civilization on all levels.

One can say today, while we still enjoy vast quantities of food shipped great distances, "That's fine, the Earth needs a break." But population die-off has two versions: simple starvation that can be overcome after petrocollapse, or species extinction due to weakening of the gene pool and assaults from nuclear events, disease, and climate destabilization.

If we have simple starvation, and can survive the other assaults, then we can paint a picture of the world after industrial civilization that has a viable human presence. I am optimistic about it. A new culture borrowing heavily on traditional ways of various indigenous cultures, with some helpful influences from recent visionaries, will emerge from the rubble of petrocivilization. The breakdown of the previous global corporate culture and lack of cheap, fast travel will assure a larger world of innumerable autonomous bioregional nations and tribes.

Individually the end of industrial civilization and massive government means being free from jobs, i.e., working for others for their purposes to earn money to buy essentials that nature actually provides freely. This is unthinkable by many today, but they tend to distrust the masses' thinking for themselves and managing with self-rule and voluntary cooperation.

Along with rejecting the obvious failures and mistakes of the previous era of growth and "progress," the new culture will have to find harmony with nature. This cannot be done with the hierarchal, patriarchal, religious empire-building mindset that ravaged the planet starting with perhaps Sumer. Therefore the new culture will feature equality, justice, mutual aid, and will refrain from building surpluses for grandiose schemes of expansion or greed.

As to the nuts and bolts, or the lack of them, I wrote in January of 2007 in Culture Change Letter #150,

"one can visualize local crafts-people soon making due with scrap materials and some renewable resources. The individual's possessions will not be so voluminous and overbearing when the change comes. There will no longer be a great number of things used daily, because new stuff won't be available and cheaply shipped to everyone the way it once was. So, re-using finally becomes the rule of the day."

However, maximizing bicycles and bike-trailers may be a transition phenomenon that lasts only a century at best. This may not be so terrible: as we become less material oriented we become more spiritual. It can be argued that nature and spirit are really one. If a "primitive" and simple life for all sounds objectionable, tough shit. The question is "what is really ahead?", not what we feel we are entitled to as modern homo "sapiens." As part of the swing of the pendulum, spirituality identified with the Earth will return strongly, as people revere life in part by deploring the past era's trashing of the living world.

As certain regions will be damaged for centuries by past practices and the distortions of climate change, they cannot provide every essential food or material for sustaining the lives or happiness of the tribe or nation, if isolated. So trade will be perhaps essential. Without cheap oil, and in the absence of renewable fuels such as biofuels that still depend on mechanical systems involving high entropy, the low-tech, efficient mode of sailing will return to the fore. Already it is making itself attractive in a cost sense as the corporate global economy continues to pollute the atmosphere with disastrous bunker fuel and routine oil spills out of view of the news media and public consciousness.

People in temperate and arctic climes can live without coffee, chocolate, and other delicacies now shipped thousands of miles to addicts and bon vivants. But people prefer not to be deprived: if something can be done, it will be done. Additionally, a favorable environment here for producing olives, for example, can result in a reasonable surplus to trade for some grain from over there. Specialization is a questionable reliance, but sharing and assisting other communities will be carried out between peoples who, since the Great Collapse, will be evolving their bioregions into very diverse, unique cultures. The loss of languages and cultures will be remedied over time. Sailing will keep up the right level of communication, knowledge, and mutual aid, for the new reduced population size.

That's if we can survive the undoing of civilization and its toxic and radioactive consequences.

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