2012 Kauai Primary Vote

SUBHEAD: Island Breath preferences for the Hawaiian primary this Saturday, August 11.  

By Linda Pascatore on 8 August 2012 for Island Breath -  
[IB Publisher's note: This article was first drafted by Jonathan Jay and was revised and modified to include some opinions of Juan Wilson and Linda Pascatore. We three were pretty much on the same page with some minor differences in strategy.]

Image above: Tulsi Gabbard running for US Congress in District Two. From (http://www.allhawaiinews.com/2012/06/elections-2012-special-report-crowded.html). 

There are many candidates running unopposed in this race, and the primary vote won't mean much. However, there are a few cases where your vote may be important.  

Note: The State and Federal level races are partisan. On the ballot section for these offices, you first have to choose a party. Since there are no choices for the other parties, if you want to make some choices for candidates, choose the Democratic Party. You cannot vote for candidates from more than one party, or your whole ballot will be invalidated.  

The two major contenders against Republican Linda Lingle are Maize Hirono and Ed Case. We think that Maize is better known and liked, and has a better chance of winning. She is not the perfect candidate, but has generally been on the right side of most issues.  

This is basically a vote for the anyone beating Mufi Hannemann.Mufi Hannemann is an excellent representative and tireless-booster of the sleazy ʻold schoolʻ politics. He supports hyper-tourism, hyper-development and hyper-militarism. Tulsi is young, ambitious , smart, and attractive. If Tulsi Gabbard can do half as much for Hawaii as she has done for herself in putting together one of the most well produced set of graphics, banner planting teams, and crack campaign coalitions I have seen in some time - Veterans, Youth, Seniors - even the Sierra Club & Dennis Kucinich! - sheʻll do just fine for District 2 in the D.C.  

Note: These races are all muter in that all Democratic candidates are running unapposed. We see no reason to vote when you only have one choice. It is not an expression of freedom. 

STATE SENATOR District 8 (Kauai): Ron Kouchi is running unopposed on the Democratic ticket.

STATE REPRESENTATIVE: Districts 14, 15, 16: Again, three unopposed candidates for the Democratic ticket: Derek Kawakami, Jimmy Tokioka, and Dee Morikawa. It doesn't matter one bit if you vote or not--they will all be on the ballot in November anyway.

Note: The Kauai County level races are non-partisan. Everyone votes on the same primary ballot--you do not choose a political party for this section of the ballot. Some of the new problems arose from attempts to fix past election problems. Remember when Mayor Carvalho was "elected" in the 2008 Primary, because he got 50% + 1 vote. People who did not vote in the primary did not get a chance to vote for Kauai Mayor. The Kauai County Charter was modified so that such an election could not happen again.  

This year voting in the primary will decide nothing at the county level. All candidates will go forward to the General Election this fall. Thus, the primary is merely an expensive popularity poll. It's most important effect may be to alter the ability of candidates to gather donations and may determine strategy shifts by unpopular candidates. 


This is more a vote against the corrupt and vindictive Shaylene Iseri-Carvallo. Justin has some good ideas, and appears to be a much better choice than Shaylene.  

All 9 people running for council seats will be on the 14 open slots for the November ballot. So everyone gets to keep running. You won't actually be trimming this meager herd. None the less, w are going to vote for the candidates we most want to see on the council. 

Image above: Gary Hooser running for Kauai County Council. From (http://www.flickr.com/photos/14746243@N04/4485593206/in/photostream/).  

Our big number one recommendation is GARY HOOSER. 


Other alternative picks are NADINE NAKUMURA and KIPUKAI KUALII. 

We do not recommend DICKY CHANG, MEL RAPOZO or JAY FUFARO.  

OHA candidates will be on the general election ballot, but not on the primary.  

Get out and Vote! 
For some of the primary races, your vote will be important in deciding who will be on the ballot in November.  

Changes have been made for 2012 following the redistricting of federal, state and county political boundaries. Refer to your voter notification postcard for your polling place or contact the Kauai County Board of Elections at 241-4800. 

A Million Hits

SUBHEAD: Island Breath is averaging about 1,300 page loads a day with about 950 unique visitors. By Juan Wilson on 7 August 2012 for Island Breath - (http://islandbreath.blogspot.com/2012/08/a-million-hits.html) Image above: Top two articles on Island Breath after rolling over 1,000,000 hits on website. Screenshot. It's no big deal in the scheme of things. In fact ,it is probably not that accurate a number. None the less we are announcing we have reached that odometer moment of rolling over a lot of zeros - 1,000,000 hits on Island Breath since we began measuring in 2006. There have been several ways we have presented the site since January 2004 - (www.homepage.mac.com/juanwilson/islandbreath) and (www.islandbreath.blogspot.com) and of course (www.islandbreath.org). But it was not until 2006 that we started using www.statcounter.com to track traffic daily. .

No Hawaiian Offshore Nukes!

SUBHEAD: We do not want offshore oil rig platforms with nuclear reactors on them in Hawaiian waters during a hurricane.  

By Ed Wagner on 5 August 2012 in Island Breath -

Image above: Hurricane at Oseberg A, on 1/19/07 with sustained 65 mph wind speed and gusts over 115 mph. From (http://www.oilrig-photos.com/picture/number246.asp)
As a followup to my message about AKP / HELCO new attempt to steal money from ratepayers, I wonder how Hawaii residents feel about having Small Modular Nuclear Reactors produce the power Hawaii needs.
Retired Senator Fred Hemmings made such a proposal at the 2010 Hawaii Clean Energy Summit. A former Navy Commander / Captain suggested to me just last week that submarine style nuclear reactors could be installed in a dome on an oil rig, much like the radar dome stationed at Pearl Harbor, and be situated off shore to provide power directly to each island without the need for expensive undersea cables between islands.

Image above: The oil rig Ensco 64 was thrashed by Hurricane Ivan in 2004. You can see the results in the above photo. Half the derrick's gone, and the rest has been knocked over into the crew quarters. From (http://www.viridiandesign.org/2004_09_01_archive.html).
I've attached Hemmings case for the use of offshore small nuclear reactors in a PDF file for your review (http://www.islandbreath.org//2012Year/08/120807smrs.pdf).

Screw Neo-Environmentalism

SUBHEAD: Where men must act 'as gods' to save the planet. As if that could happen.  

By Paul Kingsnorth on 1 August 2012 for The Guardian - 

Image above: last year adioactive waste leaked from the Sellafield complex in Cumbria, said British nuclear watchdog. From (http://www.metro.co.uk/news/861486-britain-sees-three-radiation-spills-at-nuclear-plants).

A society that takes progress as its religion does not look kindly on despair. If you are expected to believe everything will keep getting better, it can be difficult to admit to believing otherwise. This is doubly true for political activists. If you've devoted your life to fighting for a cause, you will probably feel duty bound to continue supporting it, at least in public, however hopeless it may begin to look. Hope is certainly in short supply in environmental circles these days. With the failure of yet another global summit to "protect the planet" – this time the Rio+20 Earth summit – a tipping point seems to have been reached.

Green activism has achieved a lot in five decades, but it has been unable to prevent the global industrial machine from continuing to destroy wild nature and replace it with human culture. There is no prospect of this changing in the near future, and we are reaching the point now when many prominent greens, having denied this reality for so long, are beginning to admit this in public. So: what next? One increasingly fashionable answer is offered by a coalescing group which we might call "neo-environmentalists".

The resemblance between this group and the neoliberals of the early 70s is intriguing. Like the neoliberals, the neo-environmentalists are attempting to break through the lines of an old orthodoxy which is visibly exhausted and confused. Like the neoliberals, they speak the language of money and power. Like the neoliberals, they cluster around a few key thinktanks: then, the Institute of Economic Affairs, the Cato Institute and the Adam Smith Institute; now, the Breakthrough Institute, the Long Now Foundation and the Copenhagen Consensus. Like the neoliberals, they think they have radical solutions.

Neo-environmentalism is a progressive, business-friendly, postmodern take on the environmental dilemma. It dismisses traditional green thinking, with its emphasis on limits and transforming societal values, as naive. New technologies, global capitalism and western-style development are not the problem but the solution. The future lies in enthusiastically embracing biotechnology, synthetic biology, nuclear power, nanotechnology, geo-engineering and anything else new and complex that annoys Greenpeace.

According to the neogreens, growth has no limits. We are, in the words of their spiritual leader, Stewart Brand, "as gods", and must accept our responsibility to manage the planet rationally through powerful technologies guided by science. Wilderness does not exist, "nature" is a human construct, and everything that matters can be measured by science and priced by markets.. Only "romantics" think otherwise. Neo-environmentalism is beginning to make waves in certain circles.

Brand gives talks all over the world arguing the case for megacities and GM crops; British writer Mark Lynas gets airtime to promote nuclear power and attack his former green friends as "Luddites"; US writer Emma Marris argues in her book Rambunctious Garden that there is no real wilderness left to protect; scientist Peter Kareiva, who works for the world's biggest conservation group, the Nature Conservancy, argues that conservation should aim to protect wild nature not for its own sake, but if and because it benefits humans. The Earth, say the neogreens, belongs to homo sapiens now. The value of nature is measured by what we can do with it. 
Some of this may shock old guard greens – which is the point – but it is not a new message. It is simply the latest variant on the old Wellsian techno-optimism which has been promising us paradise for over a century. The neo-environmentalists are growing in numbers at present not because their ideas are new, but because they offer a business-friendly worldview which, unlike the tiresome old green message, is designed to make people feel comfortable about their plane flights and their iPads. Science and business will provide. Nature will adapt. Optimism is permitted again. Indeed, it is almost mandatory.

But maybe the green movement was asking for it. For some time, mainstream environmentalism has demonstrated a single-minded obsession with climate change and technological solutions to it, to the exclusion of other concerns. Its language and its focus have grown increasingly technocratic and scientistic. I would guess that most people have a love of nature in some form; but few of them love arguing about whether nuclear power is better than gas.

Any campaign to protect the wild world which avoids acknowledging our intuitive, emotional relationship with it will leave itself open to the kind of heartless ideological assault it is now receiving from the neogreens. Global campaigning for an abstract "environment" does not appear to work. What does work is engaging with nature on a human scale. Perhaps the best rejoinder to those who believe the world is a giant spreadsheet is an engagement with its messy, everyday complexity.

A kind of vernacular environmentalism; an engagement not with "the environment", but with environments as we experience them in lived reality. Perhaps it's time to go back to basics.

So we might learn what grows wild in our local area and whether we can eat it. We might build up a bank of practical skills, from horticulture to land management. We might go out at night and plant seeds in vacant flowerbeds near where we live.

We might work on small-scale engineering projects, from water purification technologies to micro-solar panels. We might work to save bees or butterflies or water meadows or woodlands or playing fields that we know and have a relationship with. We might walk in the hills, or on the canal bank, or in the local waste ground; get to know our place and how it works. I can hear the rejoinder already: "None of this is going to save the world!" It's true. But we've had four decades of trying to "save the world", and we have failed utterly. This would be a good time to step back, to get our hands dirty and our feet wet, to smell the rain when it comes and get a feel for where we are on this Earth and what, at the root of it all, we can still usefully do.

"All great civilisations," wrote the Irish poet Patrick Kavanagh, "are built on parochialism." If the alternative is trying to act like gods, then I'm with the poets.


What's Important

SUBHEAD: If we allow global ecological collapse to continue, then we, as high level consumers, will most likely not survive. By Michael Thomas on 6 August 2012 for Nature Bats Last - (http://guymcpherson.com/2012/08/whats-important) Image above: Gods of War game lists Gaia as a deceased Titan god. From (http://godofwar.wikia.com/wiki/Gaia). Those of us who pay attention to the news are assaulted daily by a barrage of information: international conflicts, sport tournaments, religion, gun rights, marriage rights, terrorism, and a plethora of other topics. What topics are truly important? Are not the most relevant topics those which most directly relate to humanity’s continued survival on this planet? If so, what could possibly endanger our survival: are we not the dominant species? Yes, but we, like all other organisms, depend on our environment for our survival: we must eat, drink, breathe, and reproduce. Increased environmental instability leads to an increased rate of permanent mutations, which in turn leads to a genetic instability in the species and either death/extinction or successful mutation.

The most commonly mentioned environmental theme is global warming, which is overly polarized and, due to the complex interactions within the environment, is hard to speak of in concrete terms: it will thus not be further included in this text.

An important, but rarely mentioned, theme is ocean acidification. Our oceans have seen an increase in acidity of over 30% since industrialization and, unless current trends are altered, an increase of 150% acidity by the end of the century is expected, which according to NOAA (National Oceananic and Atmospheric Administration) will result “in a pH that the oceans haven’t experienced for more than 20 million years.”

The acidification is due to many factors, but the leading factor is anthropogenic (human produced) atmospheric CO2, which forms carbonic acid with the ocean water. The lower pH prevents shellfish from forming shells and hinders the growth of coral, as well as having negative effects on other marine species. Numerous other problems also affect the oceans, such as pollution from plastics, which poison marine animals that confuse the pieces of plastic for food.

The problem is so severe that “in some parts of the North Pacific gyre, plastic bits outweigh plankton by more than six to one in the surface waters.” This, or pH changes, may be related to the 40% decline in phytoplankton in the ocean since 1950 — phytoplankton representing yet another key ecological species, such as bees, that play an important role in ecological balance. The aforementioned endocrine disruptors are often leeched from plastics such as BPA, and play a role in destabilizing marine ecosystems.

Unfortunately, the aforementioned endocrine inhibitors do not have a historical precedent in the same way as abiotic factors do. Endocrine derives from latin: “endo” meaning within and “crine” relating to hormonal regulation. Endocrine disruptors alter the hormonal balance of an organism by binding to certain receptors and either preventing or encouraging the activity of glands (e.g., thyroid) and other internal processes as well as the expression of genes, and often have effects beyond the generation exposed.

This can cause reduced fertility as well as structural tissue changes, an increased risk of cancer, motor dysfunction, and immune problems in future generations. The effects of endocrine disruptors are different than the effects of toxic chemicals in that negative effects are not proportional to the dose, meaning that serious damage can be the result of limited contact with an endocrine disruptor. To put this in perspective, Saido and Hideto Sato showed in their American Chemical Society 2009 study that “significant” amounts of BPA, a well known endocrine disruptor used as a hard plastic and epoxy glue, were found at EVERY one of the more than 200 sites in 20 countries surveyed in doses ranging from 0.1 ppm to 50 ppm.

The most commonly mentioned change in the atmosphere is, in line with the global warming theme (the only environmental theme really handled by mass media), atmospheric CO2 levels. Between 100,000 BC and 0 BC, CO2 levels fluctuated between 180 to 300 ppm, with current atmospheric data giving us approx 400 ppm, rising from 280 ppm in 1700. The atmospheric concentration of CO2 is significantly higher than it was prior to industrialization, but its relative concentration in the atmosphere has not increase as drastically as methane (20x stronger than CO2 as a greenhouse gas), which has increased from a global average of 400-800 ppb between 600,000 BC to 1900, and risen to approximately 1800 ppb (more than 100% increase) between 1900 and 2000.

In the Arctic Sea, we are seeing even greater changes in methane concentration in a very short period of time. Methane levels diverged from their seemingly constant increase in 2010 and spiked from 1850 ppb to over 2000 (approximately 2100) ppb. Because methane is such a potent greenhouse gas, this could imply that increased methane levels from methane hydrates are having a local warming effect which in turn leads to a further increase in atmospheric methane. If we were to apply this as a linear tendency, it would argue for a concentration of atmospheric methane equivalent to that of the Permian extinction in 2050.

Consider as well that over 150,000 “methane seeps” have been found in Alaska and Greenland alone, and that the number of methane sources currently covered by ice almost certainly exceeds this number. This may be connected to the extreme melting we are seeing this year in Greenland. This is particularly alarming because a methane burp may be caused by methane output increasing temperature thereby increasing methane output, and may have been the cause of prior extinction events.

Environmental factors are thus changing at an unprecedented rate. Oftentimes, many of these factors combine. A research article published in Nature and titled “Catastrophic Shifts in Ecosystems” is summed up by author Derrick Jensen in his book Endgame (2006) with the following words: “Conventional scientific thought, it seems, has generally held that ecosystems — natural communities like lakes, oceans, coral reefs, forests, deserts, and so on — respond slowly and steadily to climate change, nutrient pollution, habitat degradation, and the many other environmental impacts of industrial civilization.

A new study suggests that instead, stressors like these can cause natural communities to shift almost overnight from apparently stable conditions to very different, diminished conditions. The lead author of the study, Marten Scheffer, an ecologist at the University of Wageningen in the Netherlands, said, “Models have predicted this, but only in recent years has enough evidence accumulated to tell us that resilience of many important ecosystems has become undermined to the point that even the slightest disturbance can make them collapse” and quotes a co-author of the study as saying: “We work on the premise that an ounce of pollution equals an ounce of damage. It turns out that assumption is entirely incorrect.

Ecosystems may go on for years exposed to pollution or climate changes without showing any change at all and then suddenly they may flip into an entirely different condition, with little warning or none at all.” This information should be worrying, seeing as in many instances we have quite a lot of warning, for instance the loss of one-third of bees in the last several years and the bee per hectare ratio having fallen by 90%. This is serious because bees are necessary for the pollination of most plants –- and therefore their sexual reproduction — and the production of fruit and nuts.

When we ask ourselves what is important, I would hope we list human survival near the top of the list. If we allow global ecological collapse to continue, then we, as high level consumers, will most likely not survive. If this happens then EVERYTHING your parents and your ancestors worked for, everything you have worked for, will mean NOTHING. If there are aliens, then they will laugh at us: we have the knowledge to prevent our own extinction, but still move forward like lemmings towards the cliff. We read information like this, and many still choose to do nothing, or to remain willfully in denial or ignorant. Time is running out and the only question is, are you willing to get your priorities in order?

If you care about humanity, please share this document and this knowledge. Fact-checking is encouraged, and is the reason the sources are provided next to the statements. The majority of people do not know, many of those who do know do not care. Help expand the numbers of both groups: help humanity survive.

• Michael Thomas (e-mail: MikeT1935@gmail.com), an American from Boston, Massachusetts currently living in Germany. .

Terrifying Planetary Collapse

SUBHEAD: More of us need to move to optimal areas at higher density and let parts of the planet recover.  

By Ashvin Pandaguri on 6 August 2012 for The Automatic Earth - 

Image above: View on Mars from 2005 by Rover of Columbia Hills. From (http://athena.cornell.edu/images/wallpaper/1_1920x1200.jpg).
A few days ago, I posted an article on how the Brazilian government has sacrificed the lush Amazon Rainforest for short-term economic profits over the course of a few years. Today, I'd like to share more "good news" about the global environment that probably went unnoticed by many people (h/t Jaded Prole). About two months ago, Nature published a report by a group of 21 scientists who arrived at a very startling conclusion - Earth's ecosystems are heading for an "imminent, irreversible collapse" well before the century is out.

Sound a bit too extreme and alarming? Perhaps, but the authors feel that the logic and data to back up such a conclusion are all there. One key factor, for example, is the rapid loss of biodiversity in our ecosystems - something Brazilian federal de-regulators should know all too much about. That's just one factor among many others, though. And while these scientists don't focus much on human financial, economic, social or political systems, we must remember that they all play an integral part in preventing radical reversals of Earth-destroying policies at large scales.

At the same time, it is equally frightening to imagine what a desperate group of elite policymakers will do once they can no longer hide from reality, but can only think to act in extreme ways, perhaps at the behest of the masses. I'm confident that there are at least a few of them who are already thinking about what they can get away with in such a scenario. That's why I cringe when I read the scientists proposing this - "Society globally has to collectively decide that we need to drastically lower our population very quickly".

Anyhow, here is Carol Thorbes summarizing the terrifying report in an article for Simon Fraser University, where one of the 21 scientists works as a Professor of Biodiversity (Arne Mooers). The actual report can be found through Nature's website.
Study predicts imminent irreversible planetary collaps
Using scientific theories, toy ecosystem modeling and paleontological evidence as a crystal ball, 21 scientists, including one from Simon Fraser University, predict we're on a much worse collision course with Mother Nature than currently thought.

In Approaching a state-shift in Earth's biosphere, a paper just published in Nature, the authors, whose expertise spans a multitude of disciplines, suggest our planet's ecosystems are careening towards an imminent, irreversible collapse.
Earth's accelerating loss of biodiversity, its climate's increasingly extreme fluctuations, its ecosystems' growing connectedness and its radically changing total energy budget are precursors to reaching a planetary state threshold or tipping point.
Once that happens, which the authors predict could be reached this century, the planet's ecosystems, as we know them, could irreversibly collapse in the proverbial blink of an eye.
"The last tipping point in Earth's history occurred about 12,000 years ago when the planet went from being in the age of glaciers, which previously lasted 100,000 years, to being in its current interglacial state. Once that tipping point was reached, the most extreme biological changes leading to our current state occurred within only 1,000 years. That's like going from a baby to an adult state in less than a year," explains Arne Mooers. "Importantly, the planet is changing even faster now."
The SFU professor of biodiversity is one of this paper's authors. He stresses, "The odds are very high that the next global state change will be extremely disruptive to our civilizations. Remember, we went from being hunter-gatherers to being moon-walkers during one of the most stable and benign periods in all of Earth's history.
"Once a threshold-induced planetary state shift occurs, there's no going back. So, if a system switches to a new state because you've added lots of energy, even if you take out the new energy, it won't revert back to the old system. The planet doesn't have any memory of the old state."
These projections contradict the popularly held belief that the extent to which human-induced pressures, such as climate change, are destroying our planet is still debatable, and any collapse would be both gradual and centuries away.
This study concludes we better not exceed the 50 per cent mark of wholesale transformation of Earth's surface or we won't be able to delay, never mind avert, a planetary collapse.
We've already reached the 43 per cent mark through our conversion of landscapes into agricultural and urban areas, making Earth increasingly susceptible to an environmental epidemic.

"In a nutshell, humans have not done anything really important to stave off the worst because the social structures for doing something just aren't there," says Mooers. "My colleagues who study climate-induced changes through the earth's history are more than pretty worried. In fact, some are terrified."
Backgrounder: Study predicts imminent irreversible planetary collapse
Coming from Chile, Canada, Finland, the United Kingdom, Spain and the United States, the authors of this paper initially met at the University of California Berkeley in 2010 to hold a trans-disciplinary brainstorming session.

They reviewed scores of theoretical and conceptual bodies of work in various biological disciplines in search of new ways to cope with the historically unprecedented changes now occurring on Earth.
In the process they discovered that:
Human-generated pressures, known as global-scale forcing mechanisms, are modifying Earth's atmosphere, oceans and climate so rapidly that they are likely forcing ecosystems and biodiversity to reach a critical threshold of existence in our lifetime.
"Global-scale forcing mechanisms today "include unprecedented rates and magnitudes of human population growth with attendant resource consumption, habitat transformation and fragmentation, energy production and consumption, and climate change," says the study.
Human activity drives today's global-scale forcing mechanisms more than ever before. As a result, the rate of climate change we are seeing now exceeds the rate that occurred during the extreme planetary state change that tipped Earth from being in a glacial to an interglacial state 12,000 years ago. You have to go back to the end of the cataclysmic falling star, which ended the age of dinosaurs, to find a previous precedent.
The exponentially increasing extinction of Earth's current species, dominance of previously rare life forms and occurrence of extreme climate fluctuations parallel critical transitions that coincided with the last major planetary transition.
When these sorts of perturbations are mirrored in toy ecosystem models, they tip these systems quickly and irreversibly.
The authors recommend governments undertake five actions immediately if we are to have any hope of delaying or minimizing a planetary-state-shift. Arne Mooers, an SFU biodiversity professor and a co-author of this study, summarizes them as follows.

"Society globally has to collectively decide that we need to drastically lower our population very quickly. More of us need to move to optimal areas at higher density and let parts of the planet recover.
Folks like us have to be forced to be materially poorer, at least in the short term. We also need to invest a lot more in creating technologies to produce and distribute food without eating up more land and wild species. It's a very tall order."

That Old Martial Spirit

SUBHEAD: Don't be too surprised if some US general reluctantly decides that there is no choice but to step in and become the government.

By James Kunstler on 6 August 2012 for Kunstler.com - 

Image above: False color image of still from "Seven Days in May". A movie, written by Rod Serling, about a military takeover of the federal government starring Burt Lancaster as the coup leader and Kirk Douglas as a military adviser to the President resiting martial law. From (http://copycateffect.blogspot.com/2012/05/7-days-may.html).

A great orgasm shuddered through the money world last week when Mario Draghi paused between scamorza con arugula tidbits to remark that the European Central Bank (ECB) would stop at nothing to keep the financial blood of Europe circulating. Of course you wonder how many pony glasses of Campari he knocked back before that whopper came out. The markets squirmed with glee. I suppose it feels good to have quantities of smoke blown up your ass.

This is the last month of the Great Pretending over on that lovely continent of exquisitely preserved towns and the corniche winding down to the crashing green sea, and the lunch table under the grape arbor... I mean, compared to, say, the universal slum vista of tilt-up, strip-mall America along the deafening highways, with the wig shops, tattoo dens, pawn shacks, dollar stores, parking lot swap-meets, and supersized citizens waddling through the greasy 100-degree heat of a new climate regime. When things blow, as you may be sure they will, at least the Europeans will sink amid all that loveliness while the American experience will be more like getting flushed down a toilet.

The more you reflect on the Draghi remark, the more you wonder whether absolutely anyone out there is paying attention to the fact that there is no money backing up these pledges of continued bailouts. All the major banks of Europe are functionally insolvent and all of the nations that charter the banks are structurally insolvent, and the economies that depend on the circulation of funds around this Euro organism really cannot escape some sort of cascading collapse.

The big unknown element of the story is how angry and batshit crazy the citizens of all these countries will get when summer ends. I don't believe they will fight each other just now, but it is very likely that the lampposts of all these lovely towns and cities will be decorated with swinging corpses of bankers, ministers, and a choice selection of politicians while a fight over the table scraps of a 30-year-long debt banquet occupies the folks in the streets.

Over on this side of the Atlantic, the question arises: where are the good guys? Why is there not one national political figure in the USA who has a comfortable relationship with truth? Perhaps the elimination of truth in our banking and governing affairs is so complete now that there is no truth left to have a relationship with.

Or perhaps no American person of integrity believes in the system enough to defend it. Which raises the corollary question: where are the brave persons who would oppose this baleful culture of lies, swindles, and rackets?

I never tire of reminding readers that life is tragic. Individuals and groups in societies make bad choices or fail to meet a challenge that history presents. When persons fail, events take over and lead all persons where events will. Hence, events will take over the election clown show between an errand boy and a horse's ass.

The distracted, degenerate public of tattooed soccer moms and men wearing baby clothes have no idea how quickly the supermarket shelves can go empty. The banking system is headed over Niagara Falls and it will take all our comforts and conveniences with it as it goes over.

Generally people prefer order over chaos, so don't be too surprised if some general in the Pentagon reluctantly decides that there is no choice but to step in and become the government. This would be an awful and momentous thing in our history, but it is exactly what we've asked for with our pornographic politics of lying, grifting, swindling, and racketeering. What I describe, of course, is the flip-side of martial law.

Once civilians declare it, things have a tendency to get martial real fast - meaning that the feckless and hesitant civilians who allowed the situation to develop get swept out of the way in favor of anyone who can get something done. And what will have to get done in short order is the reorganization of a banking system to get money flowing again and the reopening of supply lines for food and medicine in particular.

This is not an outcome I promote, you understand, but it is the scenario that a foolish people in a depraved nation are sleepwalking into. Take away the pizza pockets and the Pepsi and anything can happen. We may even live to see Mitch McConnell roasted on a spit in some Kentucky parking lot.

"Progress" on Climate Change?

SUBHEAD: Now that climate sceptics are emerging from denial it matters that the rest of us don't drop guard. By Andrew Simms on 3 August 2012 in New Econo0mics - (http://www.neweconomics.org/blog/2012/08/01/dont-fall-for-comforting-illusions-of-progress-on-climate-change)
Image above: Graphic illustrating 52 months left to save the world. From original article. See (http://www.onehundredmonths.org)

"The Owl of Minerva spreads its wings only with the falling of the dusk," wrote Hegel on wisdom's habit of arriving late in a time of crisis. Will the final acceptance by some former sceptics of climate science aid effective action by nightfall?

It is all to play for. Global events leave only the most pathological forms of denial standing, and challenge dated economic doctrines.

The worst drought in half a century in the US mid-west coincides with the hottest first half year from January to June on record. The impact on crops like maize, soybeans and wheat – of which the US is a major world exporter – has been to push the price of the first two to their highest ever, and leave wheat at a four year high.

The domino effect on global food prices, the cost of livestock and biofuels is an echo of what happened in 2008 which pushed around 100 million people globally into hunger.

Meanwhile, Beijing's worst floods in 60 years were exacerbated by the poor infrastructure of rapid urban sprawl – drainage systems couldn't cope. In a world still urbanising that was a reminder of how a bad problem is made worse by designing-in vulnerability.

Greenland's rapid, four-day melt of surface ice was the kind of dramatic event that would be mocked for incredulity in a Hollywood disaster movie. We will soon find out whether its precise dynamics matched past, infrequent big melts on a roughly 150 year cycle, or were part of something far more disturbing.

Little comfort can be drawn from the increasing confidence with which climate scientists now identify the fingerprint of human driven warming in current, specific extreme weather events. Joint work by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in the US and the UK's Met Office, concluded that last year's heat wave in Texas, which also devastated crops, was 20 times more likely due to climate change than natural variation in weather systems, while the 2011 November warm spell in Britain was made 62 times more likely due to global warming (compared to the 1960s).

In an appropriate metaphor for an Olympic month enjoying highly variable weather, the effect of injecting carbon into the atmosphere was compared by one of scientists involved to an athlete taking steroids. It doesn't guarantee an abnormally strong performance, but makes it much more likely.

Not every extreme event carries the same attribution to warming of course. The great Thai floods were considered not to, while droughts in east Africa were.

And, while the promised economic benefits of the Olympics appear to be missing London's retailers, the economic costs of extreme weather increasingly bite. Unilever, which depends on agricultural commodities, reported that climate change cost the company €200m (£157m) in 2011. At the same time insurers warn that 200,000 UK homes could become uninsurable.

Meanwhile, Britain was part of a G8 call to phase out fossil fuel subsidies but, under George Osborne's influence, has gone cold on renewable energy and thrown £500m to help marginal gas fields.

Bizarrely, the UK, with a high rate of fuel poverty and one of the most energy inefficient building stocks in Europe, recently came top in a ranking of 12 of the world's largest economies judged by energy efficiency.

The problem is that where climate change is concerned, gallons matter more than miles per gallon. Among all countries in the international community, the UK ranks as the eighth largest emitter of carbon dioxide from burning fossil fuels. In a different measure which looks at how ecologically efficient different nations are in generating life expectancy and wellbeing, compared to their natural resource use, the UK trails in at 41st place.

Now that climate sceptics are emerging from denial it matters that the rest of us don't fall for comforting illusions of progress. There are many great things about the UK, but a paragon of the sustainable use of energy and fossil fuels we are not.

With so little time left to pull back from potentially catastrophic climate it matters dearly which example we choose to follow. For a clear illustration, just look across to Stratford in London, where a certain large, multi-ringed sports event is taking place.

Danny Boyle's glorious celebration in the opening ceremony of what humanity can achieve through optimistic, open and collective endeavour, from universal health care to the world wide web, was an Olympic torch to follow. The oil company BP, the Olympics' hilariously chosen sustainability partner, is one to douse.

• Part of the 100 months to save the world series, originally posted at guardian.co.uk.


Landing on Mars

SUBHEAD: Today, science willing, Curiosity rover lands on Mars. Here's how to watch.  

By Jeni Jardin on 5 August 2012 for Boing Boing -  

[IB Editor's note: Curiosity, the first full-fledged mobile science laboratory sent to a distant world, was scheduled to touch down inside a vast, ancient impact crater on Sunday at 7:31 p.m. Hawaiian time ( Sunday at 10:31 p.m. Pacific time/1:31 a.m. Eastern Daylight Savings time or 0531 GMT on Monday).]

Image above: NASA hovercraft lowering rover Curiosity onto Martian surface. Still from animation below.

This is it, guys. Tonight's the night. NASA's Mars Science Laboratory rover Curiosity will attempt to land on the surface of Mars today. Here is Boing Boing's guide for how to follow her descent. Spaceflight Now's coverage should be excellent.

Here's an excellent history of human exploration of the red planet, by Miles O'Brien, and here's his report for PBS NewsHour chronicling Curiosity's long, strange trip.

Video above: NASA animation of Curiosity's trip to Mars. From (http://youtu.be/BudlaGh1A0o).
Here's a photo gallery of Curiosity, during construction a year ago inside JPL. Here's my interview with JPL's Ashwin Vasavada, describing the science behind this amazing venture.

Image above: Rear of the Curiosity rover in NASA clean-room showing the radioisotope thermoelectric generator that supplies power to rover. From (http://boingboing.net/2011/04/06/nasa-mars-science-la.html#previouspost). We liked the solar powered rovers of the last mission better. 

Science willing, I'll be at JPL tonight, and I'll send transmissions to the home blog. This is a wonderful and historic day for our exploration of the universe. I'm so happy to be alive to witness it.

Watch live streaming video from spaceflightnow at livestream.com

Video above: Live commentary from NASA that will include Mars Rover mission 8/5/12. From (http://www.livestream.com/spaceflightnow/share).

Video above: Live commentary from NASA that will include Mars Rover mission 8/5/12. From (http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2012/08/120805-nasa-tv-mars-landing-rover-curiosity-science-how-watch-see/).

See also:
Ea O Ka Aina: Mars Curiosity Rover 4/8/11
Ea O Ka Aina: mars Rovers 5th Anniversary 1/3/09
Island Breath:Mars Rover Spirit 1/22/04


permanent growth = permanent crisis

SUBHEAD: America needs a systematic moral transformation, but very few are willing to take the necessary steps to get it.  

By Ashvin Pandurangi on 2 August 2012 for Automatic Earth -  

Image above: Album cover for "Evil Empire", the second release from band Rage Against the machine, in 1996. From (http://www.theaceblackblog.com/2011/04/cd-review-evil-empire-by-rage-against.html).

 We need a systematic moral transformation in America - something which leads us to a society so fundamentally different than what we have now, it would be scarcely recognizable from our current perspective. That, in my opinion, is the conclusion Morris Berman gives us in his latest blog post, Sociopaths Rule, which is intended as a review and critique of the documentary, Heist: Who Stole the American Dream? (Frances Causey and Donald Goldmacher, 2011). Berman points out that Causey and Goldmacher are right to dump on Reagan's neo-liberal, trickle-UP economic paradigm, but they are also asking the wrong question.

It is not who stole the American Dream, but rather who convinced us that the "American Dream" is worth having in the first place. Why should we even value a socioeconomic philosophy centered on entrepreneurial individualism, unlimited growth and endless complexity? All of those things simply lead us to a state of moral apathy, which leads us to repeated bouts of corruption, exploitation and systemic crises. To answer the question of who transformed American culture into this state of hollow utilitarian morality, Berman takes us back to the very beginning and forces us to look in the mirror (full article found at link above).
Greed, and the free-market ideology, were hardly born in 1981. In this sense, the film lacks a genuine (which is to say, long-range) historical perspective. Greed showed up on the American continent in the late sixteenth century, when what would later become the United States started to be colonized by a particularly aggressive and entrepreneurial segment of the English middle class. Louis Hartz makes this point in his classic work, The American Liberal Tradition (1955), when he says that America is a "fragment society," i.e. one that took a particular strand from the mother country—in this case the mentality of hustling, of go-getting, of unlimited economic expansion—and made it into the whole of the new country. One might argue that Reagan represented a "quantum leap" in this ideology, but he hardly invented it; from Day One, it is what America has been about. Credit-default swaps are merely the inevitable culmination of a process that has been going on for more than four hundred years.
Over the last few decades, we have merely experienced the accelerated phase of economic, social, cultural and political decay in a country that has been decaying from the start. Note that the word "decay" cannot be confused with "contraction" or "stagnation". We are not talking about the inability of the wealth pie to grow or innovative institutions to develop - in fact, it is exactly those types of developments that contribute to the inner rot. If we want to recover any meaningful sense of justice, liberty, equality and social commonality, we must be willing to abandon the amoral American cultural Zeitgeist once and for all.
Like Occupy Wall Street, the film insists that we must "take back" the American Dream. Like OWS, it never seems to grasp the fact that rather than recovering or restoring the Americam Dream, we need to abolish it. The Dream is part of the American frontier mentality, coupled with the mythology of extreme individualism, and is in fact based on the idea of infinity: there can and should be no end to economic and technological expansion. Unfortunately for that hopelessly neurotic vision, we are fast running out of resources; the planet cannot support the Dream extended to every American, let alone every person on the planet. In fact, it was once calculated that for everyone on the planet to have a "modest" middle-class American life, we would need the resources of six Earths.
This is why socialism, or spreading the American Dream around more fairly, is not an adequate response to capitalism, because it too is based on the notions of "growth" and "progress," and those notions are fast becoming obsolete. The real shift required is not to (let's say) a Scandanavian-style economy, but to a steady-state one: no growth, and not profit-oriented. And if the left hates this, as I'm sure they do: well hard cheese, folks, because in thirty to forty years we are going to be forced into this, when petroleum runs out and the dream of unlimited energy turns into the nightmare of scarcity. To socialists and capitalists alike, to Paul Krugman and Robert Reich and every other so-called liberal, I can only say this: permanent growth means permanent crisis. It's time to start equating this type of growth with cancer.
So how do we achieve this radical transformation into a steady-state economy that abandons self-absorbed pursuits of growth and profit, and focuses on selfless struggle towards the good of the collective? As Berman states in his post, the American people are "exhausted, spiritually spent"... and any intentional metamorphosis of the national identity seems like a pipe dream right now. Movements such as Occupy may raise some awareness and produce a few beneficial results, but their underlying mentality about the whole thing falls way too short.

America needs a systematic moral transformation, but very few are willing to take the necessary steps to get it.

"Compromise Conformity Assimilation Submission Ignorance Hypocrisy Brutality The Elite All of which are American dreams!"
(Rage Against the Machine, Know Your Enemy)

See also:
Ea O Ka Aina: Post Growth Project 7/26/12
Ea O Ka Aina: Growth towards what? 11/14/11
Ea O Ka Aina: No Growth is Future Economy 7/15/10
Island Breath: Limits to Growth 6/9/08
Island Breath: Smart Growth = No Growth 4/17/07
Island Breath: Sustainability & Growth 4/19/05
The Gobbler: Economic Health vs Growth 6/21/93 .

Lammas without Corn

SUBHEAD: And stoutly we bow and cut down the corn that sweetly did grow.

 By Juan Wilson on 2 August 2012 for Island Breath - 

Image above: Cornfield in failure, mowed down. From (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/08/02/us-drought-2012-disaster-areas_n_1731393.html#slide=1269609).

August 1st is traditionally marked as the midpoint of summer - its very essence. It's an old tradition - Probably a few thousands years old, at least. It is one of the cross-quarter days of the European pagan calendars that observed and celebrated the epitome of each yearly season. The English, Scottish and Irish traditions had differing names and days but generally agreed on their significance. In Ireland these holidays were:
Imbolc - February 1st in Winter (Candlemas); Beltaine - May 1st in Spring (May Day); Lunasa - August 1st in Summer (Lammas); Samhain - November 1st in Autumn (Halloween).
Here in Hawaii Lunasa (called Lammas in Scotland) has been beautiful. We have had a full moon in the night sky and this midsummer has been fairly moist with moderate temperatures. Here in Hanapepe Valley, on the south side of Kauai it can get pretty dry in mid August.

This holiday falls between Summer Solstice and Fall Equinox, and has been called a Cross Quarter Day. While the Solstice is the first day of summer, Lammas represents the height of the season. It is a feast of the first harvest with ancient roots in the pagan festival of Lugnasad.

For thousands of years the harvest was one of the most significant human events. Although it does not seem as important in our technological society, a good harvest meant survival during the coming winter. People have celebrated this occasion in many cultures throughout history. The Greeks worshiped Demeter, Goddess of the Grain, in a Green Festival which marked the first harvest.

The Iroquois indians honored the Corn Spirit which protected their crops, and they held a Green Corn Festival in early August. In Pre-Christain Europe the harvest festival was celebrated at this time. The earth was fecund with ripening crops, and it was a time of passion, life and abundance. Lugh was the God of Light and the God of the Corn (in Europe the word corn was a generic term which meant any kind of grain). An old British poem goes like this:

Now Lammas comes in
Our harvest begins.
We have now to endeavour to get the corn in.
We reap and we mow,
And stoutly we bow
And cut down the corn that sweetly did grow.
This is not going to be happening this year in the USA. Over half the counties in the Corn Belt of the country are in a severe drought. Half of that corn will likely be lost. And as much as 90% of that corn will be GMO corn with about half of the crop, mandated by federal law, to make ethanol additive for gasoline. Needless to say, burning that grain to keep cars running only adds to the conditions that are creating the drought. If it were not already true with regards fossil fuel use in providing fertilizer, pesticides, farm equipment, and transportation to produce GMO monoculture corn - the ethanol mandates creates a direct linkage between corn prices and fuel prices.  

Each reinforces the rise in the price of the other - another negative feedback loop - as if there were not enough already. The Corn Belt was once the Grass Belt with topsoil ten feet deep (now less than 6"). Nomadic bison fed on the grass and fertilized it in their passage. Although maize (corn) was the grain of the Americas it was not meant to be a industrialized monoculture that covered the Mississippi watershed with the effect of destroying life in the Gulf of Mexico with its soil (as well as pesticide and fertilizer runoff). 

Reducing the corn cover will reduce the number of cars and people in north America. That is happening now, without our management, with the effects of Climate Change. We should have been working towards reducing consumption and population for the last 40 years, but we we lulled into the GOP "Morning in America". Hey you! Jimmy Inhohe, Oklahoma US Senator who uses the Bible to refute Climate Change:
"Well actually the Genesis 8:22 that I use in there is that ‘as long as the earth remains there will be seed time and harvest, cold and heat, winter and summer, day and night,’ my point is, God’s still up there. The arrogance of people to think that we, human beings, would be able to change what He is doing in the climate is to me outrageous." (http://www.rightwingwatch.org/content/james-inhofe-says-bible-refutes-climate-change)
Oklahoma City temperature is predicted to reach 111º today with a break over the weekend. Friday 108º, Saturday 106º with a balmy Sunday of 97º. This ain't normal. If you believe in the Bible, I'd say its time to go the the Prayer Tower in Tulsa and pray for rain.

What we should be doing is reducing our dependence on processed meat in our diets. We need to move cattle, poultry and swine off corn based feed. It's not what they are designed to eat. While we are at it we should get our cats and dogs off GMO corn. And don't forget yourself.

Check all packaged food ingredients for High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS) and stay away from it. HFCS is now over 15% of the calories consumed by the average American. Soylent Yellow - It's in the Coke!


Sign this petition

SOURCE: Debra Kekaualua (dkekaualua@yahoo.com) SUBHEAD: Ask Gov. Neil Abercrombie to shut down Monsanto operations in Hawaii. By Amanda Bierbaum on 1 August 2012 for Change.org - (http://www.change.org/petitions/gov-neil-abercrombie-shut-down-the-monsanto-operations-all-over-hawaii?utm_campaign=share_button_mobile&utm_medium=facebook&utm_source=share_petition) [IB Editor's note: Log in to Change.org required to sign petition. Once you have signed you will not see this form thru link.] Image above: From Screen shot from petition webpage. Click on image for link to sign petition.. From (http://www.change.org/petitions/gov-neil-abercrombie-shut-down-the-monsanto-operations-all-over-hawaii?utm_campaign=share_button_mobile&utm_medium=facebook&utm_source=share_petition).

This is important, because while we may not be able to take MONSANTO out of the world just yet, we can start by showing the world these beautiful islands can make the change in denying MONSANTO and all of their harmful products.

Monsanto creates a lot of harmful products that not only harm the environment which sustains our life, but harms our people, and their genetic DNA. They wish to continue making money and being so rich, while they poison thousands of communities, but no amount of money should ever suffice for the suffering of our planet and our people, for generations to come.

Genetic engineering is a radical technology that breaks down genetic barriers between humans, plants and animals.

Once released, these genetically modified organisms (GMOs) can easily spread and interbreed with other organisms, and they are virtually impossible to recall back to the laboratory.

Monsanto provides roughly 90% of GMO seeds in the world. These seeds have been genetically modified to produce their own pesticide or survive repeated spraying of their toxic herbicide Roundup. Monsanto’s GMOs are not designed to increase yields to feed the world, but rather to increase Monsanto’s profits by increasing the use of chemicals such as Roundup and selling their highpriced patented seeds which farmers must buy every year.

Due to the enormous political clout of Monsanto, the American public is being denied the right to know whether their foods are genetically engineered or not. Following is a list of 10 facts about Monsanto and GMOs, and how they can adversely affect your health, local farmers, and the planet.

Ten things you should know about Monsanto:

1. No GMO Labeling Laws in the USA!

2. Lack of Adequate FDA / USDA Safety Testing

3. Monsanto Puts Small Farmers out of Business

4. Monsanto Products Pollute the Developing World

5. Monsanto Blocking Government Regulations

6. Monsanto Guilty of False Advertising & Scientific FRAUD

7. Consumers Reject Bovine Growth Hormone rBGH in Milk

8. GMO Crops Do NOT Increase Yields

9. Monsanto Controls U.S. Soy Market

10. Monsanto's GMO Foods Cause NEW Food Allergies


US Postal Service Default

SUBHEAD: Banks, Fedex and UPS wet their lips as GOP backs our mail service into bankruptcy. [IB Editor's note: Yesterday our mail service went into default as part of a calculated effort by House Republicans to "drown it in a bathtub". As we descend further into economic collapse the USPS will play an increasingly important role in our daily lives. Fight back!] By Dennis Andrews on 26 July 2012 for PolicyMic - (http://www.policymic.com/articles/11697/usps-bankrupt-gop-sets-postal-service-on-fire-and-demand-they-put-themselves-out/172389) Image above: GOP sets Postal Service on fire and demands they put themselves out. From original article.

The creation of the post office is mandated in Article I, Section 8 of the United States Constitution. It has been and to this date is a vital part of our nation's infrastructure. Today's postal service came into being in its current form as the direct result of a wildcat strike that began in March of 1970.

President Richard Nixon considered using the army as letter carriers, but quickly realized that would not work. The strike resulted in the Postal Reorganization Act of 1970, which recognized a new union and created today's United States Postal Service. Before 1970, often a postal worker could not make ends meet without having another job. Today we have an entity that will take a letter sent from Rochester, Minnesota, and deliver it two days later to Baltimore, Maryland for half a buck while providing a living wage to those it employs.

Fast forward to December 2006 H.R. 6407; The Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act was passed in the Republican-controlled Senate two days after it was introduced in the Republican-controlled House. It was subsequently signed into law by Republican George W. Bush. One of the provisions in this hastily passed law requires the USPS to prefund ALL of it's retirees health benefits 75 years into the future. That's right. The USPS is supposed to set aside money for the future health benefits for people that haven't even been born yet. The USPS has $11.5 billion due in two payments on August 1 and September 30. On August 1 the Postmaster General will announce that USPS cannot make its payment.

While I am sure this will make the news, I am not so sure any major news outlet will report that this a completely made up crisis for the postal service. This bill (with only three cosponsors when introduced into the House) was designed as a ticking time bomb. The fact that it is exploding at a time like this is just extra gravy for those who would privatize the post office. Federal employment is already at a 10 year low. Using this “crisis” to lay off postal employees would just add fuel to the fire, exacerbating an already untenable unemployment situation.

Privatizing the post office would allow the private sector to break the unions that have worked so hard to make the USPS what it is today. Destroying unions, reducing pay and benefits on the alter of profits will not improve service. It will not increase employment. It will not decrease hard-working Americans' increasing dependence on food stamps and other welfare programs. It will make someone somewhere millions of dollars, and in all likelihood end Saturday mail service, and maybe even the post office as we know it. So next week when it is announced the USPS is defaulting on it's obligations, pay attention to the way this news is presented. You can be sure talk of privatization is not far off.

USPS Manufactured Default By Dennis Kucinich on 1 August 2012 for Kucinich.gov - (http://kucinich.house.gov/news/documentsingle.aspx?DocumentID=305419) Video above: Kucinich speech on House floor 8/1/12 on USPS default. From (http://youtu.be/ZqZ-B2cWVr0). Today, the United States Postal Service (USPS) will default on a payment that it should have never been required to pay. Legislation passed by Congress in 2006 requires the USPS to prefund retirement benefits up to 75 years in advance. On the House Floor, Congressman Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) called this a “manufactured default” and said that Congress is “presiding over the disestablishment of the Postal Service.”

See Congressman Kucinich on the House Floor here. Congressman Kucinich also spoke at length about the Postal Service on Democracy Now. See that interview here. The full text of Congressman Kucinich’s remarks on the House Floor follows.

Article 1, Section 8, Clause 7 of the U.S. Constitution gives Congress the responsibility to establish and ensure operation of the Postal Service.

Today, August 1, 2012 - 224 years after the Constitution was ratified - Congress is presiding over the disestablishment of the Postal Service.

Today a manufactured default created by Congressional legislation is pushing the Postal Service to the brink. Today the Postal Service will not make a payment that it should never have had to make in the first place to pay for prefunding 75 years of retiree benefits in 10 years. A manufactured default encouraged by banks and other interest groups. A move toward privatization of one of America’s most vital services.

The Congress has a responsibility to stand up, but here in the U.S.A., under Citizens United, everything is up for auction including the Postal Service.

Wake up, America. Universal service is on the line. Wake up, America and stand up for the Constitution. 575,000 Postal Service workers and our obligation to the American people to see to it that the Postal Service is rescued from those who want to push it into default or privatize it for their own profit.


Europe's future discomfort

SUBHEAD: Letter from the Basque region of Spain on the peril of Europe's corporate affluence. By Jan Lundberg on 27 July 2012 for Culture Change - (http://www.culturechange.org/cms/content/view/847/1/) Image above: Basque children hold the Basque National flag, during celebrations marking Aberri Eguna, or Fatherland Day. From (http://newshopper.sulekha.com/france-spain-basque_photo_1800386.htm). Writing from Barcelona, Catalunya, and the Basque Country. The time for a revolution of a deeper sort comes when the imbalance of unequal sharing of the land and its resources reaches the ultimate crisis point. People don't want to contemplate this, but at least the unprecedented socioeconomic disintegration ahead will be the portal to achieving real sustainability.

This will occur despite any redistribution of present wealth through compassionate reforms or wrenching de-classism. For the hour is too late ecologically. This applies to the entire modern industrialized world.

A great measure of middle and working class affluence has brought European nations together. Rather than serving lofty goals of advancing civilization and peace, it was more to convenience the region's powerful corporations and increase Europe's bargaining muscle for importing energy.

Digging deeper into the seamy side, the elevated material life was accomplished largely by borrowing money and wasting material resources (albeit only half as recklessly as the U.S., per capita). The come-down will be far more painful and chaotic than what has been glimpsed, such as the Spanish miners' objections to their getting squeezed. The bright side is that the failure of affluence -- of the post-war European Dream -- will give way to strong local economics and bioregional power.

So the Basques will finally get their country back, as will the Catalans. Native citizens of those quasi nations may have gone along with integration while there was little point in resisting, but when the financial meltdown quickens and economic collapse is more than bitter, they will not tolerate any extra austerity as a sacrifice for struggling southern Spaniards or Greeks.

The progress with renewable energy in several countries, led by Germany, has given hope for a painless transition away from fossil fuels and nuclear power. This attitude may extend to imagining an orderly socioeconomic solution to the brewing financial turmoil. But today's conditions and the heavy dependence on scarcer resources are the opposite of real progress toward sustainability.

I base this partly on personal observation; I lived in and visited Europe from 1966-1974. That period wasn't "the bad old days" because there was no solar or wind power then. Rather, the period's lower population (Europe had almost 100 million less than today) and the more open future of four decades ago amounts to an irretrievable past advantage that cannot ever be regained -- unless wrenching transformation will be accompanied by great luck in climate stability.


Except for the hapless Greeks and the poor minority elsewhere in Europe, the people of the Continent still enjoy a splendid material life post post-war. Much of Europe has become a kind of civilized paradise in the minds of many. But the coming loss of affluence will be total, as growth and wealth have almost all come as a result of high net-energy, fossil-fuel exploitation that can't be extended long.

This means that around the corner there will be more than mere mass protest and election surprises. We have only been seeing the calm before the storm. Like North Americans, the practical skills of great-grandparents have been heedlessly forgotten among comfortable, specialized Europeans. As an elderly Basque farmer told me, today's young people have lost the knowledge of living.

The revolution ahead will be of a different nature than the prior political and economic changings of the guard. If in the past a Castro and Guevara could trigger a lasting takeover by invading a colonial outpost, can today's conditions see an ecological and artistic infiltration and takeover? Can the most affluent dominators of nature and their wage-slaves see a better way by joining in the creation of an egalitarian, cooperative society?

It will have to be so, and not because one may want it desperately. The question is whether any awakening and restructuring shall occur before total collapse and chaos, or afterward instead. The impediments to a rational, wise approach are formidable. Foremost of these is petroleum dependence, because of its pervasiveness.

When seen only as a long-term issue requiring gradual disengagement, we find we are besieged by alarming -- but in a sense "peripheral" -- threats: nuclear radiation, war, microwaving of our genes, the plastic plague upon our bodies and oceans, sinister alteration of food, water, air and the climate, and shinking civil freedoms.

The climate can be chosen as the prime issue to address, but success may depend more on a wider, deeper approach than a concentration on climate issues. This is because total "lifestyle-naturizing" is neglected and suppressed, even though it gets to the root. As long as we are separate from nature in our minds or in practice, we are unwelcome invaders in what could be our ever-nurturing home as equals with all other species.

The ecovillage movement can serve as a catch-all for wider adoption of permaculture and communal living. In today's consumerist world, it is unfortunately still a miniscule development. The question is whether it will spread before collapse, to a visible extent, or it must wait until after collapse when eco-living in community is the only game in town.

In comparing Northern American and European subcultures of modernity, one finds in the more sophisticated Old World only a partial escape from the crass commercialization of individualistic, narcissistic living in, even, California. To ask comfortable Europeans as First World citizens to reject technological, exuberant living is on the order of asking the SUV-driving, cancer-ridden consumers of anywhere in the U.S. to abandon unsustainable practices and get back to nature.

But if you had to bet which of the two regions has more resiliency, go with the less-corporatized one. And go with the one with closer family relations. Both of these spell community. It's Europe. And it's other regions even more so, not the hapless U.S. Preserving convivial public spaces is another European urban attribute, featuring efficient, elegant, accessible use of land and nature. This fosters community that will come in handy as material wealth subsides and ushers itself into history.

The U.S., as the highest per-capita waster of nature's bounty, has simply twice as far to go as the twice-as-energy-efficient Western Europe. But the slightly less oppressed European citizens, with better health care and more liberal vacation rights, might see their advantages erode ever more rapidly; using only half of what a glutton does just ain't enough.

For U.S. consumers facing the end of petro-affluence, it is pitiable that a 50% reduction in energy use is no longer a reasonably sufficient goal. Yet, what we hear from quasi-green leaders such as the Sierra Club is that Americans simply must drive, so the only choice is to give them more-efficient electric cars as a [non]solution.

The rising police state, to the liberal or radically minded activist anywhere, is understandably alarming and deserves resistance or avoidance. To stand up in its way may be folly and misdirected, unless martyrdom or educating the masses is all important. We must fact the fact that, for better or worse, order must be somehow maintained when untold millions of people want their accustomed subsistence and convenience -- especially as deprivation sets in. It's not going to get any prettier for quite a while. The accomplishments of technological progress and civilization are fleeting, as history will show. Momentary compassion for suffering multitudes is commendable, but should not blind us to reality or a longer-term vision that truly ensures compassion.neoliberal economy over a decade ago.

The individual caught in today's global economy can, in the absence of a triumphant Occupy movement that goes beyond opposing austerity, make liberating strides for survival. What must be a spiritual, life-changing process can come about by abandoning past assumptions of incremental steps toward better governmental representation. Self-rule is possible to a greater degree in almost everyone's case. When enough people participate and find each other, there can be hope for finding no end of solutions for more healthful, healing co-existence. It will not and cannot be provided by leaders, who can only point the way (if they only would!). Bravo to all the struggling souls feeling the need for overdue fundamental change.


Good luck and peace to all -- a tall order.


Our Mere Existence a Rebellion

SUBHEAD: Here we were made, and here we shall remain. We aren’t asking nicely anymore. By John Duffy on 1 August 2012 for Nature Bats Last - (http://guymcpherson.com/2012/08/to-make-our-mere-existence-an-act-of-rebellion) Image above: "The Departure of the Joads" by Thomas Hart Benton, 1937 commissioned by 20th Century Fox for the movie of the book "The Grapes of Wrath" by John Steinbeck. From (http://www.stateoftheozarks.net/Cultural/Craftsmanship/Painting/ThomasHartBenton.html).

At dawn, the temperature inside my tent began to steadily rise. After forty-eight hours on virtually no sleep, twelve of which were spent trudging through the hundred plus degree Texas afternoon, brambles snagging at my legs while mosquitos feasted on every drop of my simmering blood, even this sweltering tent has been a welcome respite. Lumpy ground and all.

Clambering out into the morning, I look down to the pond where under the cover of last night’s darkness bats swooped and glided across the murky shimmer, expertly snaring their dinner. I quickly remember the howl of the coyotes that had filled the evening. It must have been a whole pack of them, I think to myself, recalling the density of sound that had filled the darkness and surrounded me with its primacy; its mystery.

People were already gathering under the meeting tent, eating oatmeal and waiting for the morning briefing. Most are from some region of Texas, others from Missouri, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Kentucky. There is an excitement permeating the inescapable discomfort. How often are activists granted such access? The morning briefing is led by an organizer with a straw cowboy hat, and he informs us that in West Virginia, hundreds have marched on a strip mine.

Ultimately, fifty crossed the boundary line, and twenty were arrested. It wouldn’t be until I returned to Austin that I learned one of the people who locked themselves to the heavy machinery is a good friend. It would be another day still until I was made aware that his bail was set at twenty-five thousand dollars. The government is escalating its war against activists, as the fossil fuel industry escalates its war against life. I wonder when activists will escalate their tactics.

When will they see that they need a new playbook? As glad as I am to be in a camp of fifty or so people gearing up to halt the construction of a pipeline that will transport tar-sand derived bitumen from Canada to the Gulf of Mexico, I cannot help but remember that we are losing. We have not been able to even slow the rate at which the planet is being killed, yet many want to only focus on our meager successes. Temporary battles won, stays of execution hard earned before the inevitable defeat at the hands of the machine of the dominant culture.

When will we stop asking nicely? What are we willing to sacrifice for an actual win?

Maybe it’s too late. Maybe the critical tipping points have already been reached and breached. Maybe all that methane now spewing up from beneath the Arctic really is the nail in the coffin that some proclaim it is. I guess I don’t really give a damn. It’s always easier to find a reason not to act than it is to act. If I am going to commit to this project,

I have to steel myself against the inevitable criticisms that will barrel down upon us like a dust storm. I guess I’m just too damn tired of all the talk. That’s why I’m covered in a glaze of red clay, powder turned to paste as it met the layer of sweat I have worn all weekend. There is value in standing up, in fighting back against the insatiable bully. There is value in rebellion, in allowing the actions of the body to align with the nag of the conscience and the howl of the soul.

As the day draws on, I find myself standing with the property owners, sketching maps in the dirt. I drop my usual pretense and ask point blank how badly this family wants to protect their land. They are steadfast in their answers. There isn’t a hint of hesitation when I make specific suggestions as to how to fortify their boundaries. My chest tugs when I look into the eyes of the woman who made this land her home so many decades ago. I feel my agency drain from me. Choice is no longer a factor. Only duty remains. I am bound to this woman and hope she feels it when I hug her, promising my return, promising that I will do everything I can to help her win this fight.

On the drive back to Austin, the core of this conflict resonates, and all of us packed into the tiny car can feel its vibrations in our bones. The blue and red map no longer applies. It never was but a construct, propaganda disseminated as pompous fact in an effort to divide a people. This fight is about home. Not just the home of one family, bullied into submission by a foreign corporation who brandishes threats of eminent domain, but of all families. Human, bat, coyote, catfish, mosquito, sassafras, poison ivy. We have no place else. Here we were made, and here we shall remain. We aren’t asking nicely anymore.

• John Duffy is an activist based out of Austin, Texas. He is currently working to blockade the construction of the southern leg of the Keystone XL tar-sand pipeline. If you would like to find out more about how you can support this effort, he can be contacted at Duffy.Contact@gmail.com.