The Age of Endings

SUBHEAD: Our myths of progress are killing us. Perhaps only poetry can save us now.

By Paul Kingsnorth on 7 August 2013 for Open Democracy -
(http://www.opendemocracy.net/transformation/paul-kingsnorth/age-of-endings)


Image above: A photo once taken on the Great Barrier Reef on planet Earth. From (http://www.oceanwideimages.com/categories.asp?cID=233).

Where can we find a new set of stories to inspire the work of the future? Only through the creative imagination of writers, artists, storytellers and musicians. Perhaps only poetry can save us now.

If I were a scientist, I might say we were living in an age of entropy. But I’m not a scientist, and I tend to think that using language of science to discuss issues outside of its domain is part of our current complex of cultural problems. So perhaps, instead, we could call this an age of endings.

Wherever you choose to look, old certainties and old realities appear to be dissolving. The Earth as we know it: its great forests, reefs, teeming cod banks and ancient glaciers. The tigers, the whales, the butterflies and the mountain gorillas. Whole species, at a higher rate of extinction than for millions of years. This planet’s 10,000 year old climatic era. Endings.

Human endings too: the great paintbox of human languages, with most scheduled to die out by century’s end, and ways of living and being that developed over centuries in response to local circumstances. Family life. Traditions. Local economic networks. Cultural certainties. Nations themselves. Known ways of living. Endings.

In some ways, this is not new. At any period of time we could have looked around us and seen empires collapsing and ways of living passing into history. But this is not the same. Never before have we – humans – altered the planet’s climate or pushed so many species into extinction that we may have already triggered a sixth mass extinction event. We have never seen such social and ecological loss on such a wide scale, across the entire globe before, and so fast.

All of these changes are caused by one phenomenon: a burgeoning human economy that serves a global consumer society in which desire poses as need and all needs are there to be met. Blame who you like for this situation: blame the sixties, blame the eighties, blame science, blame the Enlightenment, blame Thatcher or Marx or capitalism or feminism. Blame climate deniers or oil companies or people who take cheap flights or loggers or the owners of battery chicken farms. Blame population growth or greed or politics or technology. Blame yourself, or everyone else – it doesn’t really matter. The age of endings, the age of acceleration, is at hand, and each of us is strung out in its web.

What does it mean to live through times like these, and what should be done to make sense of them? If your children will be poorer than you were, their world scarred and deprived of much of its beauty and magic, what questions should we be asking about what human progress has come to mean?

Questions, I think, are the key. We need to be interrogating our stories deeply: the myths that underpin who we are and how we see the world. In the loosest sense of the word, we live in a materialist society. We pay attention to the material, the measurable, above all else, and we have a tendency to dismiss or ignore aspects of life which are equally real but not as easily reduced to a column on a spreadsheet.


Image above: A typical dying coral reef in Hawaii facing unknown infection in 2012. From (http://news.discovery.com/earth/oceans/hawaiian-corals-dying-from-mysterious-infection-121204.htm).

This means that when we ask ourselves how this global suite of potential disasters has arisen, we tend to look at the outer rather than the inner manifestations. We tell ourselves that the problem is technological: that we are producing too many greenhouse gases because we are burning fossil fuels, and therefore we need to stop burning them. Or we tell ourselves that the problem is political: democracy cannot respond adequately to the needs of ecology, so we need a new political system. Or perhaps the problem is structural: governments cannot reach agreement on necessary measures to tackle global problems, and corporations are too powerful and should be purged from the political system.

All of these things may well be true, but I would suggest that our culture has an inner problem as well as an outer one: our stories are malfunctioning. All cultures, all civilisations, are built on stories. The things they believe about themselves and their place in the world, and how that world works, are integral to how people behave, how institutions operate and how humans in that society relate to the nonhuman world. If you want to understand any culture, look at its myths.

What are our myths, here in the “Enlightened West?” Probably the most potent is the story of progress: that we used to be savages and now are civilised; used to be superstitious and now are rational; used to be primitive and now are advanced; used to be stupid and now are clever, and will continue to move in this direction bar the odd blip as we colonise the stars. This is the Genesis tale of modernity. Progress has become our civil religion: widespread, largely unquestioned, seeping into every intellectual crack. God is dead, and now the real paradise awaits. Except as before, it always remains just out of reach.

The myth of progress is encircled by a set of what we might call sub-myths: the ability to access truth through objective science; a faith in advanced technology; the assumption of reason’s superiority over intuition; and a belief in the supremacy of the human species over the rest of life (or, as we tend to call it, ‘our environment’: note the possessive ‘our’).

These are our stories. Now they are killing us – and not just us. The age of endings is a product of misplaced beliefs, of myths gone bad. Now our task is to think about different stories: to create new ones or disinter some old ones and begin telling them again.

Four years ago, I founded a network of writers and artists called the Dark Mountain Project with the explicit purpose of beginning this work. Since then, we’ve produced a number of books and held a series of public events aimed at interrogating our cultural stories and beginning to approach the creation of new ones. One of the first questions we have asked is: what might be some of the foundational stories of a new narrative?

My first response is that the myth of progress needs to be comprehensively debunked through some serious study of history and prehistory. I would say that science and economics need to be put in their place: an important place, but one which sees them as servants of our society rather than as its narrative masters. I would say that reason should be balanced with intuition; mythos with logos. Perhaps most importantly I would say that without what has been called an ecocentric perspective – a worldview which sees humans as one form of life among many, rather than as the pinnacle of evolution and the master of all – nothing very much will change.

If this is true, I would suggest that the work of change is too important to be left to scientists, political activists, politicians and economists. Their roles are important, to be sure, but the narratives that underpin their work are unlikely to be questioned from within. Rewriting stories is the task of the creative imagination, which means it is the task of writers, artists, storytellers, musicians and all who would regard themselves as workers of and with the imagination. Perhaps only poetry can save us now.

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G20 Agenda Item #1 - Fix Fukushima

SUBHEAD: Given the threat to life in the largest body of liquid water in the known universe.

By Juan Wilson on 7 August 2013 for Island Breath -
(http://islandbreath.blogspot.com/2013/08/g20-agenda-item-1-fix-fukushina.html)


Image above: Earth to spaceship G-20 "Wake up you fools!". From (http://www.g20.org/photo/20130605/781388962.html).

The G20 Summit, to be held in St. Petersburg on September 5-6, 2013, will be the main G20 event of 2013. The meetings will be between the political and financial leaders of the G20 nations that include Argentina, Australia, Brazil,  Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy,  Japan, Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, South Korea, Turkey, United Kingdom, United States and the European Union.

Looking over this list of nations one can see it includes the vast majority of the people of the world, as well the bulk of money, resources, energy, industrialization, technology and military hardware on this planet. According to Wikipedia:
 "Collectively, the G-20 economies account for approximately 80 percent of the gross world product (GWP), 80 percent of world trade, and two-thirds of the world population"
It is understood that the purpose of the G20 is world finance, but it has evolved into the most significant meeting of world leaders that regularly occurs. Obviously, they can talk about anything they think is important. So what is their publicly announced agenda for their upcoming meeting:
  1. Framework for strong, sustainable and balanced growth;
  2. Jobs and employment;
  3. International financial architecture reform;
  4. Strengthening financial regulation;
  5. Energy sustainability;
  6. Development for all;
  7. Enhancing multilateral trade;
  8. Fighting corruption.

We can only pray that this is a fake agenda, or even a joke, and that the real agenda will include some of the real problems facing life on this planet.

The Worst Nuclear Disaster in History
Chernobyl was bad, but it was one nuclear reactor and was dealt with quickly. Given the threat to life in the largest body of liquid water in the known universe, the number one item on my agenda would be a commitment by the G20 to fix Fukushima - whatever the cost.

That means immediately coordinating a worldwide effort to mitigate the ongoing disaster that has been created by TEPCO and the government of Japan by building six nuclear reactors on one site at the shore of the Pacific Ocean in a highly dangerous earthquake zone.

This effort may cost a few trillions of dollars. But that's nothing compared to what the central banks of the G20 have stolen from the world's people to keep afloat after their international Ponzi scheme collapsed in 2008. Think on the scale of building the pyramids Egypt, The Great Wall of China, or the US NASA Moon program - whatever it costs. It's not like the Pacific Ocean isn't stressed already. The ocean is dying.
  • The reefs are dying -  from acidification (from CO2 absorbion), global warming (CO2 and methane releases). 
  • The fish are dying - from over fishing (over 90% of megafauna are gone). 
  • The plastic gyres are killing - birds, sea creatures and interfering with the organic chemistry of the ocean. 
Now, to add insult to injury, Japanese nuclear plant is spewing 400 tons of highly radioactive water into the Pacific Ocean everyday. And that's the situation "under control".  As far back as August 2011 small amounts of cesium-137 and cesium-134 were detected in 15 tuna caught near San Diego. 

Moreover, since 2011 University California Berkeley School of Nuclear Engineers (UCBSNE) have been reporting on their website findings of cesium 134, 137, strontium-90 and more in topsoil, rain and groundwater, milk, and produce. Cal State Long Beach researchers have found iodine-131 in kelp beds along the California coast, as well.

Worst and Getting Worster
But these are only the current problems at Fukushima. Others abound.  Just remember that there are three reactors that have melted down and likely experienced the China Syndrome - that is. they have burned their way through the bottom of the reactor core, through the vessel around it, then the containment building and finally through its foundation they rest on.

Each reactor melted core is about a 150 tons of uranium, plutonium and zirconium in hot blob of what's called "corium".  No one knows, or has stated, what the location or condition of that corium is. Re-criticallity (chain reactions) and other bad things can happen.

The nuclear fuel rods in Reactor #4 sit in the structurally damaged concrete pool of water 80 feet above the ground. Those rods have more fissile material in them than reactor below could possibly hold. Since 2012 the wall of the pool has been bulging and the reactor building seems to be sinking into the earth.

If ground water entering the site were not able to escape into the ocean, or be diverted, it could liquify the earth under the foundation of the reactor and topple the fuel rods to the ground. Such an event could make the Fukushima Daiichi site uninhabitable.

A Plea to the G20
Convince the Japanese representatives to admit that the crisis at the Fukushima Daiichi site is out of their control and that it must be handled by the world at large. Have all G20 members commit what ever resources are necessary to mitigate the pressing dangers and long range dangers presented by this disaster. Get on this pronto.

It is not acceptable to twiddle your fingers and call for industrial growth and more jobs. Industry and manpower need to be put in service to saving the world from Fukushima.

And while w'ere at it!
Beyond item #1 on my agenda for the G20 would be:

#2) A carefully accelerated schedule for safely closing down all nuclear facilities in the world. This effort should include the decommissioning of all nuclear weapons and their components.
#3) The re-localization of food production with as little need  as possible for mechanization, petroleum products and chemicals.
#4) A rejection of centralized power grids and the adoption of small-scale off-grid alternative power sources with greatly reduced overall consumption.
#5) The abandonment of international corporations and capitalism as the means of operating the economies of the world to achieve jobs and growth (a.k.a. slavery and death).
 There's plenty more but we should start with a doable list. Let's get on this people.


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    Time Lag of Irreversible Change

    SUBHEAD: If we understand the brutality on life our lifestyle entails, we must fundamentally reject our own standards of living.

    By Joshua Headley on 7 August 2013 for Nature bats Last -
    (http://guymcpherson.com/2013/08/the-time-lag-of-irreversible-change/)


    Image above: Concept illustration for "Terminator 3: the Rise of The Machines" - where you can't tell the humans from the robots who want to destroy them. From (http://www.postercollective.com/2012/04/21/poster-of-the-day-2/).

    If you’ve been a sentient being for the last few months, you’ve probably been watching some of the most curious weather events happening throughout the world.

    Of particular concern for many scientists has been the Arctic sea ice’s melt, which dropped to its lowest level on record last summer. In the first few months of this year, large cracks were witnessed in the sea ice, indicating a great possibility that it has entered a death spiral and will disappear completely in the summer months within the next two years.

    The rapid melt (and eventual disappearance) of the ice is having drastic affects on the jet stream in the northern hemisphere, creating powerful storms and extreme weather events, largely outside the comprehension of many scientists.

    Jeff Masters, meteorology director at the private service Weather Underground states:
    “I’ve been doing meteorology for 30 years and the jet stream the last three years has done stuff I’ve never seen. … The fact that the jet stream is unusual could be an indicator of something. I’m not saying we know what it is.”
    For example, in May there were wildfires caused by excessive heat in California while at the same time there was more than a foot of snow in Minnesota. Spring in Colorado started with early wildfires and was subsequently followed by massive flooding. Massive floods have been devastating much of the northern hemisphere this spring, including Canada, the United States, Europe, India, and Russia.

    Last month, Alaska saw its hottest days on record where the town of McGrath, Alaska hit 94 F degrees while just a few weeks earlier the local temperature was 15 F degrees. There have also been extreme heat waves throughout the southwest United States, some temperatures above 130 F degrees, also resulting in wildfires that spread to more than 6,000 acres in two days and killed 19 firefighters in Arizona.

    Today, the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is at 400 ppm – a level not seen on this planet since the Pliocene epoch, nearly 3 to 5 million years ago when the average global temperature of the planet was 2-3 C degrees warmer than today. The International Energy Agency has recently warned that the planet is on track for 3.6 to 5.3 C degrees warming.

    This is catastrophic – most scientists have recognized any significant rise above 1 C will usher in irreversible changes that will threaten nearly all biological life on this planet.

    Carbon dioxide has an approximate thirty-year time lag between its release into the atmosphere and its corresponding affect on average global temperature. Even if we stop all emissions today – keeping it at 400 ppm – we still have nearly thirty years of warming and climatic changes to undergo.

    And right now, nothing that we are currently observing matches up with any of the models that we have – a stark acknowledgment that this historical moment we find ourselves in exists largely beyond our ability to comprehend it let alone predict its movement.

    We are in uncharted territory – we are facing challenges never before experienced in the history of the human species. This presents a grave problem: if the best science we have today cannot accurately offer any model predictions for the path that we are currently on, how can we effectively plan for the future?

    The honest truth: we can’t. We cannot effectively plan for a future that is beyond all known human experience.

    The best that we can do now is stop exacerbating the problem – stop contributing to the rapidly accelerating decline and destruction of the Earth’s biosphere and ecosystems.

    Quite literally: we have to completely dismantle the industrial economy, we have to do it soon, and really, we should have done it yesterday.

    But even still, grinding industrial civilization to a complete halt today is only guaranteed to mitigate the pace at which we’re running – it is not yet clear that it will ultimately alter our direction. We have, at minimum, thirty more years of incomprehensible climate disruptions and changes to undergo no matter what happens today or tomorrow. Our only chance to still have a thriving and living planet following the coming decades is by making a complete, radical and rapid shift from the industrial economy.

    The logic of industrial civilization and capitalism is immediacy – grow as quickly as possible, generate maximum profits in the shortest time, and deal with consequences and crises later (if at all). Long-term planning and strategizing is antithetical to, and bears no consequence on, the drive for capital accumulation, expansion, and domination.

    This process, within the last 30-40 years alone, has resulted in such an expansive project of urbanization around the world that capitalism has triumphed over (read: conquered, murdered, and erased) all other ways of existing on this planet, human and non-human. We now live in a truly global industrial civilization – a monoculture of unprecedented scope; a totality of being and of tyranny.

    To oppose this project of endless growth and centralization of control, we need to enter into the logic of a truly oppositional culture – a fundamental and radical break from of our entire material reality. This entails a complete negation of our current standard of living and entire way of being in the world. Anything short of this negation will only exacerbate the problem.

    Acknowledging this does not mean that the task at hand is easy or that a majority of people will accept it as truth. In fact, even amidst collapse, most people will not resist the status quo and are likely to fight to the death to protect it.

    As Derrick Jensen has stated:
    “If your experience is that your water comes from the tap and that your food comes from the grocery store then you are going to defend to the death the system that brings those to you because your life depends on that; if your experience is that your water comes from a river and that your food comes from a land base then you will defend those to the death because your life depends on them. So part of the problem is that we have become so dependent upon this system that is killing and exploiting us, it has become almost impossible for us to imagine living outside of it and it’s very difficult physically for us to live outside of it.”
    But this also does not mean that the task at hand is any less true. It does mean, however, that if we wish to build our struggle for a truly just and sustainable future we must first do away with our delusions, re-focus our strategies to the most effective, and be radically uncompromising in our vision.

    On June 25th, Barack Obama — a president whom, despite his rhetoric of care, spent all of the last five years of his presidency completely ignoring climate change — finally addressed the nation in a speech that was supposed to signal a “serious plan forward.”

    Many “environmental” groups along with the mainstream media heralded the speech as being progressive and a great commitment to the crisis at hand. In reality, much of the speech was full of nothing more than the doublespeak typical of his presidential legacy.

    In a move that many considered to be a “big victory,” the president merely stated that he will ask the State Department not to approve the final construction of the Keystone XL pipeline unless it can first determine that it “will not lead to a net increase in greenhouse gas emissions.”

    This is certainly a sly trick designed to pacify a building resistance, an attempt to re-frame the debate and make it appear as if our best interests are dutifully being considered. However, to even pretend that it is at all possible that this pipeline would not lead to a net increase in greenhouse gas emissions is delusional.

    While the fight against the KXL has been a fight against a pipeline, it is predominantly being waged as a fight against tar sands oil production entirely. It is incredibly easy to argue that one specific pipeline will not result in significant GHG emissions if we isolate it from the very process that demands its existence in the first place.

    It is the extraction process itself that is the net greenhouse gas emitter destroying the planet – not merely the nodes at which its product is transported and consumed. Although this infrastructure should be equally opposed and dismantled, stopping one pipeline being built will only mean that others will replace it or other means will be developed to export its goods.

    We should settle for nothing less than a complete end to all extraction processes. It is not even close to a victory until that happens.

    Despite his attempt to appease environmentalists with this speech, there were some activist groups that were rightfully confused and enraged with his hypocritical stance. In a speech meant to signal commitment to slow climate change, President Obama continued to praise and support the fossil fuel industry and hydraulic fracturing for natural gas.

    Chris Williams, author of Ecology and Socialism, examines the rhetoric and reality of this latest speech, providing a great reminder of whose interests this president actually serves – those of the ruling class. He also outlines some new ideas for Obama’s consideration:
    • If you’re serious about stopping global warming, you need to veto KXL.

    • If you’re serious about moving away from dirty energy, then there needs to be a strict timeline established for the complete phasing-out of all coal and nuclear plants by 2030 and their replacement, not with natural gas or nuclear, but with wind and solar power.

    • If you’re really serious about carbon pollution, you can’t with any honesty discuss solutions without making massive cuts in military spending. The Department of Defense is responsible for 80 percent of the U.S. government’s energy consumption, and the U.S. military is by far the biggest polluter on the planet. Radical reductions in spending on the Pentagon are essential for human survival.

    • You made no mention of the need for enormous investment in and expansion of public transit. If you’re serious about addressing climate change and making our cities more livable and the air more breathable, you will take the money you just saved by cutting military expenditures and apply it to the construction of new rail, light rail, tram and bus service, between and within cities, obviating the need for cars.”
    These ideas are some of the more prevalent solutions that are often tossed around in environmental and social justice circles. While the intention may be sincere, simply advocating for a shift from “dirty energy” (coal, oil, nuclear) to “clean energy” (solar, wind, tidal, geothermal, etc.) does a great disservice for generating informed decision-making at such a critical historical moment.

    While these energies have many flaws, one of the greatest problems with their proponents is that they do not fundamentally put into question our standard of living or way of being in the world.

    An often-cited study by these proponents is the work of Mark Z. Jacobson who, mere weeks after Hurricane Sandy devastated the Northeast U.S., presented the economic argument for investing in renewable energies. His plan calls for a complete shift off fossil fuels and towards a rapid investment in wind and solar power for the entire state of New York by the year 2030.

    Not only was this study completed on the premise that our culture does not dramatically change its standard of living, the study fails to even acknowledge the resources required to build these new energy infrastructures.

    These energy sources are not free from fossil fuels and are dependent on rare earth metals and minerals; this sort of rapid technological and social shift will require massive extractive processes – a price we simply cannot afford if we wish to stop the destruction of this planet.

    If we wish to create a “sustainable” future that is also just, a question that should be immediately asked is: Where are these resources coming from? From whose land will we steal from in order to build this renewable-energy utopia? Despite the fact that New York State ranks in or near the top third of U.S. mineral production, none of the crucial metals and minerals currently used for the development of solar panels and wind turbines can be found here – we will have to steal these resources from some other land base.

    Even more problematic, Jacobson’s study does not entirely take into consideration (to the extent that it is possible) the severe climatic disruptions we are unavoidably set to experience in the coming decades. The disappearance of the Arctic sea ice in the next few years will result in rising sea levels that could displace more than 400 million people globally. Is it worth the investment for an entirely new energy infrastructure that may ultimately be irrelevant by the time it can be actualized?

    To continue to advocate for these “solutions,” is to continue living in the delusion that we can have our current standard of living and have a planet too. As Robert Jensen articulates in his article, Get Apocalyptic: Why Radical is the New Normal:
    “Toughest to dislodge may be the central illusion of the industrial world’s extractive economy: that we can maintain indefinitely a large-scale human presence on the earth at something like current First-World levels of consumption. 
    The task for those with critical sensibilities is not just to resist oppressive social norms and illegitimate authority, but to speak a simple truth that almost no one wants to acknowledge: The high-energy/high-technology life of affluent societies is a dead end. 
    We can’t predict with precision how resource competition and ecological degradation will play out in the coming decades, but it is ecocidal to treat the planet as nothing more than a mine from which we extract and a landfill into which we dump.

    We cannot know for sure what time the party will end, but the party’s over.”
    Our primary goal and vision for the world is a living planet. Nothing else matters. The biggest challenge to that goal is the industrial economy and it’s a moving target. If we have any chance at stopping it we cannot have a strategy that is focused solely on the injustices of today. Our actions and strategies should be based on where we’re heading – and where we’re heading is nothing short of near-term extinction.

    This is not hyperbole or metaphor. 200 species went extinct today and another 200 species will go extinct tomorrow. 400,000 people die every year from climate-related deaths. A war has been declared against the living the world and we ought to start articulating which side we’re on, and we ought to seriously start fighting back.

    I’m reminded of a recent quote from MEND (Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta), a militant group successful at halting more than 28% of Nigeria’s oil output between 2006 and 2009, which articulates the situation succinctly:
    “From today, every tanker vehicle we find distributing petroleum products including propane gas has become a legitimate target in our war against injustice, corruption, despotism and oppression.”
    This is the kind of vigor we need to be generating in our own movement. Never before have the lines between those who seek to destroy this planet and those who seek a radically different future, been so clearly drawn and defined. Yet, there is a degree of hesitancy within the majority of activist circles in the West that is painstakingly paralyzing our movements from reaching its goals.

    If we stand in solidarity with all the human and non-human lives that have been lost, or are routinely brutalized to this way of life, we must fundamentally reject our own standards of living and ideals about how to enter into relationship with each other and with the land. Knowing that we have now entered a historical moment of incomprehensible climatic disruptions and changes for the foreseeable future, we’d be better to do away with our delusions sooner rather than later.
    • Joshua Headley is a writer and activist living in New York City. He contributes to Deep Green Resistance News Service and can be reached at joshuaduane@riseup.net.

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    Hanabusa and Schatz Pipedream

    SOURCE: Taylor Ken (taylork021@hawaii.rr.com)
    SUBHEAD: : It's to have President Obama create the Akaka Tribe without Congressional approval?

    By Andrew Walden on 29 July 2013 for Hawaii Free Press -
    (http://www.hawaiifreepress.com/ArticlesMain/tabid/56/ID/10244/Hanabusa-Obama-Considers-Creating-Akaka-Tribe-Without-Congressional-Approval.aspx)


    Image above: Brian Schatz and Coleen Hanabusa playing Indians.Mashup by Juan Wilson. Click to enlarge.

    At first glance, the Akaka Tribe has never seemed deader. Seven months into the 113th Congress, no bill advancing the Akaka Gang’s scheme to invent a fake Indian Tribe and use it to seize control of the Native Hawaiian patrimony has been introduced into either house. Few Native Hawaiians are signing up for Kana’ioluwalu, the latest incarnation of the Akaka Tribal roll, a disinterest for which the Office of Hawaiian Affairs blames, “the lack of imminent threats to Native Hawaiian programs, such as lawsuits, which creates a lesser sense of urgency.”

    But behind the scenes there is a frenzy of activity. Scrambling for the votes and contributions of well-heeled Office of Hawaiian Affairs (OHA) cronies, Senate Democratic Primary opponents Rep. Colleen Hanabusa and Sen. Brian Schatz are peddling the idea that President Obama will create the Akaka Tribe without Congressional approval.

    (Parallel to this is a push by Robin Danner and the Coalition for Native Hawaiian Advancement for US Department of Interior oversight of the State Department of Hawaiian Home Lands—a separate effort which also encompasses a longshot attempt to create a fake Indian tribe in Hawaii, but that is a subject for another article.)

    Coming out of a July 23 meeting between Obama and 22 members of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus (CAPAC), Hanabusa stated:
    “As a Keiki O Ka Aina, President Obama understands the importance of Native Hawaiian recognition and what it means to our host culture. We know he will seriously consider our request to use his executive branch authority to achieve this elusive goal. Federal recognition of the Native Hawaiians right to self-governance is long overdue.”
    But Schatz spoke of less specific ‘federal action’ rather than ‘executive branch action’ saying:
    “During the meeting, President Obama showed his clear commitment to prioritizing key issues that are important to Hawai‘i and the Asian American and Pacific Islander community, including … federal action to ensure that Native Hawaiians have a government to government relationship….”
    At issue is 25 CFR Part 83, the US Department of the Interior (DoI) “Procedures For Establishing That An American Indian Group Exists As An Indian Tribe.”

    Since 1978 this administrative procedure has existed alongside Congress’ right to recognize Indian tribes, but the Akaka Tribe is excluded because application is limited to geographic locations where real Indian tribes might actually exist*, specifically the “Continental United States, mean(ing) the contiguous 48 states and Alaska.”

    The DoI Office of Federal Acknowledgement is currently considering revisions to the Part 83 regulations with public comments open until August 16.

    At a March 19 hearing of the House Subcommittee on Indian and Alaskan Native Affairs, Department of the Interior Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs Kevin K. Washburn responded to questions from Hanabusa and Samoa Rep Eni Faleomavaega: "Our regs now leave out Native Hawaiians. We are not able to consider Native Hawaiians under our current regs.” According to Washburn’s written testimony, in which he did not mention Hawaii, the Part 83 process focuses on rectifying administrative errors. Said Washburn:
    “The Part 83 Process is used by the Department to acknowledge Indian tribes that are not currently acknowledged as Indian tribes by the Department. The Department may also reaffirm a nation-to-nation relationship with tribes by rectifying previous administrative errors by the Bureau to omit a tribe from the original Federal Register list of entities recognized and eligible to receive services from the Bureau of Indian Affairs or by resolving litigation with tribes that were erroneously terminated.”
    After Washburn’s April 24 testimony before the Senate Indian Affairs Committee, in which he mentioned neither Part 83 nor Hawaii, Schatz released a statement emphasizing his desire to pass the Akaka Bill, making no mention of “executive branch authority”, and thanking Washburn for his support.

    Washburn then authored the ‘Preliminary Discussion Draft’ of potential revisions to Part 83 which retains the limitation to “the contiguous 48 states and Alaska.”

    It is likely that any effort to administratively invent the Akaka Tribe via a procedure intended to rectify clerical errors would provoke a backlash from Congress and from the real Indian tribes. The final version of the Akaka Bill introduced by Sen Dan Akaka in September, 2012, broke a decades-long deal with the real Indian tribes by grabbing for Indian program money and setting itself up to buy mainland properties, take them into trust, and establish Indian casinos.

    LINK:
    Preliminary Discussion Draft

    2012:
    Akaka Tribe: We Can Kick Out Anybody Anytime for Any Reason

    *The Hawaiian ethnicity was never tribal in nature. Hawaiian national identity emerged only with the creation of the Hawaiian Kingdom under Kamehameha I. The Hawaiian Kingdom was a national state originally organized along feudal lines. ‘Hawaiians’ were never a tribe. The Marquesan tribal groups which originally inhabited what we now call the Hawaiian Islands were subjugated, hundreds of years before the first Europeans arrived, by Tahitian invaders who set themselves up as feudal lords (alii) with a separate bloodline ruling over a subject peasantry (makaaina).




    CAPAC Members Meet with President Obama

    News Release from CAPAC Jul 23, 2013
    Washington, DC – Today, 22 Members of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus (CAPAC) met with President Barack Obama at the White House. The meeting covered immigration reform, increasing diversity among presidential appointments, improving language access in enrollment for the Affordable Care Act, and pressing issues impacting Native Hawaiians and the Pacific Island territories. Members of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus (CAPAC) released the following statements following the meeting….

    Senator Mazie K. Hirono (HI): “I was pleased to have this opportunity to speak with President Obama about critical issues that are facing Hawaii, our country and Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community. During our group’s discussion, I asked the President to support Native Hawaiians, who are often overlooked when we talk about the AAPI community. The President committed to continue working closely with me and the rest of our Hawaii delegation on issues important to Native Hawaiians. He also committed to continue pushing for immigration reform – a mobilizing issue for the AAPI community.”

    Senator Brian Schatz (HI):
    During the meeting, President Obama showed his clear commitment to prioritizing key issues 
    that are important to Hawai‘i and the Asian American and Pacific Islander community, including passing comprehensive immigration reform in the House, federal action to ensure that Native Hawaiians have a government to government relationship, and diversity in the President’s cabinet. Today’s meeting marked an important step in a partnership between the President and Congress when advancing measures that will benefit Hawai‘i. I will continue to work with my CAPAC colleagues and the delegation to ensure that the people of Hawai‘i are heard in Washington, D.C.”

    Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard (HI-02): “In our meeting with President Obama today, I appreciated the opportunity to highlight the concerns of Native Hawaiians, and critical issues facing our diverse communities in Hawai‘i. The President has been a strong ally of Asian American and Pacific Islanders across the country, and I’m encouraged by the dialogue we had today about the need for passing immigration legislation that includes family reunification measures. I look forward to continuing to work with the President and my CAPAC colleagues on issues like comprehensive immigration reform, Native Hawaiian recognition, and the reauthorization of the Native Hawaiian Education Act.”

    Congresswoman Colleen Hanabusa (HI-01): “As a Keiki O Ka Aina, President Obama understands the importance of Native Hawaiian recognition and what it means to our host culture. We know he will seriously consider our request to use his executive branch authority to achieve this elusive goal. Federal recognition of the Native Hawaiians right to self-governance is long overdue. The Congress of the United States has created and continues to fund programs that assist Native Hawaiians with housing, healthcare, and education yet a government to government relationship does not exist. I am working with my colleagues to carry on the work of the many legislators, activists and concerned citizens who have fought long and hard to solidify the trust relationship with Native Hawaiians. I would like to say mahalo to the President for taking the time to meet with us today.”

    See also:
    The Rest of the Statements

    News Release: CAPAC Chair Statement on Meeting with President Obama


    .

    Selling your soul

    SUBHEAD: Drought-stricken New Mexico farmers drain their aquifer to sell water to oil companies for fracking.

    By Joe Romm on 5 August 2013 for Climate Progress -
    (http://thinkprogress.org/climate/2013/08/05/2395051/drought-new-mexico-farmers-drain-aquifer-fracking/)


    Image above: When it does rain it can be scary in Eddy County, New Mexico. Photo by Roger Hill. 4/28/09. From (http://www.senmwx.com/2012/05/supercell-thunderstorms-in-southeastern.html).

    The bad news is that the terrible drought in New Mexico has led some farmers to sell their water to the oil and gas industry. The worse news is that many of them are actually pumping the water out of the aquifer to do so.

    The worst news of all is that once the frackers get through tainting it with their witches’ brew of chemicals, that water often becomes unrecoverable — and then we have the possibility the used fracking water will end up contaminating even more of the groundwater.

    The Albuquerque Journal reports:
    With a scant agriculture water supply due to the prolonged drought, some farmers in Eddy County with supplemental wells are keeping bill collectors at bay by selling their water to the booming oil and gas industry.

    The industry needs the water for hydraulic fracturing, known as fracking, the drilling technique that has been used for decades to blast huge volumes of water, fine sands and chemicals into the ground to crack open valuable shale formations.
    You may wonder why farmers would sell water to frackers when some 95% of the state has been under severe drought conditions for the entire year. The short answer is it pays the bills. Here’s the longer answer:
    In recent months, more legal notices have been appearing in the Current-Argus informing the public that a water-right holder with a supplemental well has submitted an application to the state engineer’s office seeking to change the purpose of use from agriculture to commercial, or transferring the right from one location to another.

    “A lot of folks are doing that,” said New Mexico Interstate Stream Commissioner Jim Wilcox, an Otis resident and president of the Otis Mutual Domestic Water Association. “I can’t blame them. The Carlsbad Irrigation District doesn’t have the water the farmers need, and our farmers have to have some income coming in.”

    Wilcox said farmers in the Carlsbad Irrigation District can’t sell their primary water source they receive via the irrigation system because the CID is a government project. However, if they have a supplemental well, they can apply for a change of use permit that gives them the right to sell their well water for commercial use.

    Yes, the New Mexico Interstate Stream Commissioner can’t blame farmers for an ultimately self-destructive practice that can’t possibly be sustained. Perhaps he should read Thomas Jefferson’s “brilliant statement of intergenerational equity principles.”

    Wilcox fully understands what it means to pump an unreplenishing aquifer during a drought:
    “Farmers right now are having to pump their supplemental wells, and we understand that. It’s their livelihood,” he said. “But the supplemental wells are drawing from the same water table we provide potable water to our customers (from).”

    “The oil and gas industry is requiring a lot of water and our concern is the effect it’s having on our aquifer,” he added. “We are concerned about losing water that can’t be recovered. Hopefully, we will get through this drought and everyone will be intact.”

    While this drought will likely end at some point, climate change means droughts in the southwest are going to get longer, drier, and hotter. If we don’t reverse emissions trends very soon, the entire region is headed towards permanent Dust Bowl conditions.

    The oil and gas industry apparently doesn’t care whether it helps destroy the entire water supply of New Mexico — as long as the groundwater supply lasts until they finish fracking the state. You’d think state officials would see the value for farmers and residents in sustainable water consumption given where the climate is headed.

    Tragically, fracked water can be worse than unrecoverable. It can poison groundwater when reinjection wells fail, which they are prone to do as Propublica explained in their exposé in Scientific American, “Are Fracking Wastewater Wells Poisoning the Ground beneath Our Feet?” As that article pointed out:
    “In 10 to 100 years we are going to find out that most of our groundwater is polluted,” said Mario Salazar, an engineer who worked for 25 years as a technical expert with the EPA’s underground injection program in Washington. “A lot of people are going to get sick, and a lot of people may die.”
    The Albuquerque Journal quotes one local man, Jim Davis:
    “In some areas, we are over-appropriating. We are in a drought and the water table has dropped drastically and there is no recharge,” he said. “There are some people who have legal water rights and they are over-pumping. The public doesn’t know about it. As private individuals, we have to raise Cain about it.

    … “Black River is at its lowest level ever. It’s lower than it was in the 1950s when we had a long drought. I make my living from selling water, but at the same time, I think it is important to protect our precious water supply.”
    Davis has been “selling water commercially from his wells in Black River for about seven years”! But now things have gone too far even for him.

    After Cain murdered Abel, God asked him where his brother was. Cain famously replied, “Am I my brother’s keeper?” As Answers.com puts it, “Cain’s words have come to symbolize people’s unwillingness to accept responsibility for the welfare of their fellows — their ‘brothers’ in the extended sense of the term. The tradition of Judaism and Christianity is that people do have this responsibility.” Seriously.

    [IB Puublisher's note: I own 10 acres in Eddy County, New Mexico. My grandparents bought two lots there back in 1956. They had spent some time their 35 years earlier before retiring to western New York. I think they half expected to build a cabin out west. Once there was speculation that the area would be developed into suburbs. That didn't happen. Mostly, the area around the property is in the clutches of oil companies with wells, brine pits... and now access to water for fracking somewhere. I've never visited the property and have been paying property taxes on the land for the last 20 years. About five years ago tried to contact a real estate agent about selling it. I couldn't even get a call back. After reviewing the local scene I found I'd have a hard time getting a thousand-dollars an acre for the land. That is until... an oil company contacted me and offered me $1,200 an acre to lease the oil and mineral rights for 5 years. What could go wrong? I took the deal. I now realize they may have been more interested in the water than the oil. Mea culpa.]
    .

    Leakage at Fukushima an emergency

    SOURCE: Brad Parsons (mauibrad@hotmail.com)
    SUBHEAD: Tepco Press Conference - The situation at Fukushima is bleak — “This discharge is beyond our control” 

    By Kim Hyunbin on 6 August 2013 for Arirang News -
    (http://www.arirang.co.kr/News/News_View.asp?nseq=149925)


    Image above: The reactor building of Unit 3 is seen at the Fukushima six months after disaster. From (http://www.mnn.com/earth-matters/energy/stories/japan-to-shape-post-fukushima-energy-options-by-spring).

    Japan's tsunami-crippled Fukushima nuclear power plant is facing yet another emergency as highly radioactive groundwater appears to have risen above an underground barrier meant to contain it.

    The head of the country's Nuclear Regulatory Authority task force Shinji Kinjo told Reuters on Monday that the leak was an emergency, but he was worried the plant's operator, TEPCO, had no sense of how to deal with it.

    He went on to say the highly radioactive groundwater is likely seeping into the sea.
    In a recent news conference, TEPCO General manager Masayuki Ono said the situation was bleak.

    "We understand that this discharge is beyond our control and we do not think the current situation is good."

    To prevent further leaks, plant workers are injecting chemicals to create an underground barrier to block groundwater from leaking out to the ocean.

    But experts say the barrier may not be enough as it needs certain conditions to solidify.
    A retired nuclear engineer who worked on several TEPCO nuclear plants says the company is out of its depth.

    "The situation is already beyond what TEPCO can handle. They are doing everything they can but there are no perfect solutions."

    Some Japanese media outlets have predicted the contaminated water could breach the ground surface in the matter of just a few weeks.

    Just last week, TEPCO estimated a cumulative 20 to 40 trillion becquerels of radioactive tritium may have leaked into the sea since the nuclear disaster some two-and-a-half years ago.



    Two Rods Removed from Reactor Four

    By Yuri Kagigama on 18 July 2013 for Komo News - 
    (http://www.komonews.com/news/national/2-fuel-rods-removed-from-wrecked-Fukushima-nuclear-plant-162868926.html)


    Image above: Reactor Unit Four with dangerous spent fuel pool in weakened.

    A giant crane removed two rods packed with nuclear fuel from the Fukushima nuclear plant on Wednesday, the beginning of a delicate and long process to reduce the risk of more radiation escaping from the disaster-struck plant.

    All of the 1,535 rods in a spent-fuel pool next to reactor No. 4 at the Fukushima Dai-ichi plant in northeastern Japan must eventually be moved to safer storage - an effort expected to take until the end of next year, according to the government.

    The building containing the pool and reactor was destroyed by an explosion following the failure of cooling systems after a massive earthquake and tsunami in March 2011. The cores of three reactors melted.

    Fears run deep about the large amounts of radioactive material stored in the pool, which unlike fuel in the cores of the reactors is not protected by thick containment vessels. The plant's operator, Tokyo Electric Power Co., intends to remove all the rods to eliminate the risk of the pool spewing radiation.

    Separately, a reactor at the Ohi nuclear plant in central Japan went online Wednesday, the second to restart after the disasters. Another Ohi reactor was restarted earlier this month.

    Tens of thousands of people took to the streets Monday demanding an end to nuclear power, outraged by the restarts. It was the biggest rally since the Fukushima crisis began.

    Also Wednesday, the government ordered two utilities, Kansai Electric Power Co., which operates Ohi, and Hokuriki Electric Power Co. to restudy earthquake faults that lie beneath their nuclear plants.

    Japanese TV reports showed cranes removing the 4-meter (13-foot) rods. TEPCO declined comment, citing the need for secrecy in handling nuclear material.

    About 150,000 people fled their homes after last year's nuclear disaster, the worst since Chernobyl. A 20-kilometer (12-mile) zone around the plant remains a no-go area.

    According to a worst-case scenario prepared by the government, a loss of coolant in the spent-fuel pool at reactor No. 4 could have caused a massive release of radiation and forced millions of people to flee.

    A year and a half after the disaster, the pool's cooling system has been fixed and reinforcements have been built to prop it up. But TEPCO recently said the wall of the building is bulging, although the pool has not tilted.

    Hiroshi Tasaka, a nuclear engineer and professor at Tama University who served as adviser to the prime minister after the disaster, said the spent-fuel pool poses a danger because the building is not sufficiently secure to stop radiation escaping in the case of a strong aftershock.

    The two rods removed Wednesday are among 204 that have not been used to generate power and are not as prone to releasing radiation as the 1,331 spent-fuel rods also sitting in the pool.

    Tasaka said the government target of removing all the rods by the end of next year may prove too optimistic because of many unknowns, the need to develop new technology and the risk of aftershocks.

    "If we are asked whether things are completely safe, we cannot say that," he said. "If there is another major earthquake, we don't know what may happen, although we hope for the best."

    .

    The paper of elitist record


    SUBHEAD: New York Times is guilty of 'Aiding the Enemy' with its biased reporting on whistleblowers.

    By Mickey Z. on 2 August 2013 for World News Trust -
    (http://worldnewstrust.com/new-york-times-guilty-of-aiding-the-enemy-mickey-z)


    Image above: Photo of Free Bradley manning demonstration by Mickey Z. From original article.
    “There is an odor to any press headquarters that is unmistakable: the unavoidable smell of flesh burning quietly and slowly in the service of a machine.”
    - Norman Mailer
    If you’ve ever wondered why someone like Bradley Manning gets far less media coverage than, say, a “royal” birth or a mayoral candidate’s penis, well… you can always count on the “newspaper of record” to reveal the method behind the madness.

    A July 30, 2013 New York Times article by John M. Broder and Ginger Thompson was deftly entitled, “Loner Sought a Refuge, and Ended Up in War.” The stage was set in a single word -- the first word, in fact -- as we all know what America thinks about “loners.” Those are the ones who turn out to like Oswald or Dahmer or Klebold and Harris.

    Any lingering hope for a nuanced discussion on privacy or war crimes was dashed by the opening paragraph:

    Feeling outcast and alone in Iraq, Bradley Manning, then a 22-year-old Army private, turned to the Internet for solace in early 2010, wanting to share with the world what he saw as the unconscionable horrors of war, an act that resulted in what military prosecutors called one of the greatest betrayals in the nation’s history.

    Not only a loner but an “outcast,” Manning merely exposed “what he saw as the unconscionable horrors of war.” Well played by the Times as loyal readers -- long conditioned by daily propaganda -- are given the comfortable choice of accepting that some weirdo geek with a grudge against god’s country misinterpreted U.S. military behavior. For good measure, Broder and Thompson only tell us how military prosecutors perceive his actions.

    For the handful of mainstream folks who might actually continue reading the article beyond this point, the Times offers passing mention of Manning being “confined to a tiny cell 23 hours a day at the Marine base at Quantico, Virginia,” before quickly returning to their more familiar role of stenographer to power.

    Those same military prosecutors, we’re told,
    “accused Private Manning of being a self-promoting ‘anarchist’ who was nothing like the tortured man of principle portrayed by his lawyers, supporters around the world celebrated him as a martyr for free speech.”
    Let’s stop for a second to note that the NY Times not only dragged out the all-purpose smear of “anarchist” but has yet to find it “fit to print” to include any details of the specific “unconscionable horrors of war” Manning exposed. This omission allows Broder and Thompson to claim his supporters are solely focusing on the issue of “free speech.” 
    As for the Times’ mocking phrase “tortured man of principle,” it wouldn’t take the reporters (sic) much effort to find Manning’s own thoughts and words on the topic. But, of course, the article’s authors don’t want to complicate matters with such context. Instead, they educate their readers with news that the “heated language on both sides” tends to “overshadow the human story at the center of the case.”

    With all due respect to both Manning’s courage and the criminal treatment he’s endured, the story at “the center of the case” is not his personality, upbringing, or political leanings. The story cleverly but predictably obscured by the Times is all about the Home of the Brave™ sanctioning war crimes as policy and throwing the full weight of its legal (sic) might at anyone crazy enough to expose such global criminality.

    As Amnesty International recently concluded: “It's hard not to draw the conclusion that Manning's trial was about sending a message: the U.S. government will come after you, no holds barred, if you're thinking of revealing evidence of its unlawful behavior.”

    Rather than discuss any of that, of course, journalists (sic) Broder and Thompson treat us to details like Manning being “the child of a severed home” and “a teenager bullied for his conflicted sexuality” who “never fit in.” Even in the Army, he was a “misfit” and just in case you’re not sure why, the Times gleefully clarifies: “In early 2010, he covertly downloaded gun-camera videos, battle logs and tens of thousands of State Department cables onto flash drives while lip-syncing the words to Lady Gaga songs.”


    Who ya gonna trust, big strong white men with lots of stripes on their uniforms or a Gaga-loving misfit outcast?

    The slander and innuendo goes on -- and on -- but it isn’t until paragraph 12 (when maybe 90 percent of readers have already moved on?) that Broder and Thompson deign to mention Manning as: 
    “disturbed by footage shot by an Apache helicopter of an attack on a street in Baghdad in July 2007 that killed two Reuters journalists and several other men.”
    Before any of you get the bright idea to ponder a U.S. military helicopter given the name “Apache” or to question our (sic) heroic (sic) men and women in uniform, Broder and Thompson lay it out simply but firmly: 
    “While larger questions about government secrecy and the role of the news media in the Internet age swirl around the case, the roots of Private Manning’s behavior may spring as much from his troubled youth as from his political views.”
    The remainder of the article provides tidbits about Manning playing video games, being teased by classmates and rejected by his father, living in his car for a while, and 
    “his geeky fascination with computers, his liberal political opinions and his sexual orientation.”
    To fully illustrate the sheer weirdness of this America-hating gay anarchist loner, Broder and Thompson make sure they tell us that Private Manning wore a dog tag that said “Humanist” and kept a toy fairy wand on his desk.

    Which brings me back to the title of this article…

    The U.S. government charged Bradley Manning with aiding the enemy but, let’s state the obvious: the enemy is the U.S. government… and the multi-national corporations that fund it. The crime isn’t whistle-blowing, the crime is relentless, lawless global war in pursuit and protection of profit. The New York Times and all corporate media outlets, therefore, should be charged with aiding the enemy.

    It is the role, the mission, of the corporate-run media to aid the enemy.

    Whether you label them liberal or conservative, most major media outlets are large corporations owned by or aligned with even larger corporations, and they share a common strategy: selling a product (an affluent audience) to a given market (advertisers).

    Therefore, we shouldn’t find it too shocking that the image of the world being presented by a corporate-owned press very much reflects the biased interests of the elite players involved in this sordid little love triangle.

    If you created a blueprint for an apparatus that utterly erased critical thought, you could make none more efficient than the American corporate media -- and please don't fall into the trap of only demonizing Fox News.

    A major component of the free press illusion is the notion that some media outlets are more liberal while others are more right-wing -- belief in this myth further limits the already limited parameters of accepted debate.

    Reality Check: The media are as liberal or conservative as the corporations that own them.

    So, of course the mainstream media distorts and/or ignores the Manning story. That's their job and it's a waste of our time and energy to expect otherwise. The major media corporations been given the keys to the public (sic) airwaves and we don't yet have the means to change that. We do, however, have the means to circumvent this model.

    Tracy Chapman once promised that revolution “sounds like a whisper.” Well, we may not be able to yell louder than the professional propagandists of the corporate media but we damn sure can whisper more effectively.
    The media can't be "fixed" any more than all the other dying institutions (banking, health care, education, etc.) can be. So, I say: Let the corporate press rot while we utilize our resources and ingenuity to create an entirely new model.

    If we build it, they will join us…

    It will require both outrage and outreach for us to outlive the corporate pirates (and the politicians they fund) who have hijacked our future. To help make this happen, we need more of the 99% to get aware and active. Thus, we must keep whispering the truth and continue working to model new alternatives.

    Let’s not allow Bradley Manning’s efforts and sacrifice to be in vain!

    #shifthappens


    Video above: From(http://youtu.be/5rXPrfnU3G0).


    • Mickey Z. is the author of 11 books, most recently the novel Darker Shade of Green. Until the laws are changed or the power runs out, he can be found on an obscure website called Facebook. Anyone wishing to support his activist efforts can do so by making a donation here.
     

    On Kauai we are all victims…

    SUBHEAD: Many of the 600 GMO company workers passionately testified for their jobs at the hearing the other day.

    By Fred Dente on 3 August 2013 in Island Breath -
    (http://islandbreath.blogspot.com/2013/08/on-kauai-we-are-all-victims.html)


    Image above: Audience for public hearing on Bill 2491 on 31 July 2013 at the Kauai Veteran's Center. Photo by Juan Wilson.


    I’m for Bill #2491 to be passed unanimously, with amendments for strict enforcement of it’s provisions. This commentary will serve as my public testimony.

    I’m a U.S. Veteran for Peace and, for over 30 years, I grew organic Italian garlic in Washington State. One thing I have been doing for years here on Kauai is to boycott Kauai Coffee. Those big red tanks along the highway aren’t filled with lemonade for their workers. Eliminate the poison, and I’d be happy to buy locally. 

    I attended the 7/31/13 hearing for several hours in the evening. Many thanks to KKCR community radio for pre-empting regular programming to broadcast almost all of the 12 hour hearing live. I was able to hear much of the testimony in my car as I was doing the day’s business.

    Thanks to the Kauai County Council, the Veterans Center and the Police Deptartment for a most amazing day and night of peaceful testimony. Although representative democracy is practically dead on national and state levels, it still works sometimes locally. Because of Gary Hooser’s vision and leadership, with support from Tim Bynum, thousands of citizens have become active on this vital issue. We must have this kind of participation if we are to have a sustainable future here on Kauai. The option is to continue to allow ourselves to be overrun with cancer poisons, military madness and the gridlock of more out of control “development” and tourism nightmares.

     The front page of TGI on 8/1/13, the day after the marathon public testimony, is one of the best I’ve seen since I started reading this paper in 1978. With an obvious headline  reference to America’s Civil War times, and the great photo of the Rivera Brothers shaking hands, this front page is a classic illustration of the division and the passion of the two sides of this issue. A good sign for Kauai is that journalism is improving, thanks in large part to citizen journalists, bloggers, community radio activists and whistleblowers. Without a strong and independent, non-biased fourth estate, it’s back into the stone age for all of us.

    Four of the big six mega-billion dollar chemical companies, who have been masquerading as seed farmers on Kauai for many years, are a huge part of the post WWII military/industrial complex. They have helped to create a toxic soup on Planet Earth, and they are partly responsible for untold worldwide death, destruction and disease. They must be stopped from their diabolical control of all of us, especially here on Kauai where we have allowed this once pristine paradise to become the laboratory for their horrors, and for us to become their guinea pigs and lab rats and collateral damage in their bottom lines.

    Kauai’s toxic legacy began many years ago, even before the testing of Agent Orange (AO) in the early 60’s. Thanks to the UH and the U.S. Army Chemical Warfare Service, AO was tested and sprayed here in high concentrations, and many millions of lives and countless square miles of the earth have since been decimated, including hundreds of thousands of U.S. military personnel, and their Families. After the “successful” testing, Monsanto and Dow and others raked in their billions supplying AO to our military for their genocidal purposes.      

    A few years ago, I was doing research interviews for a PBS documentary about the effects of AO on Kauai workers and people living in the area of the testing. I’ve personally spoken to many who worked in the fields, and several innocent citizens who were sprayed by airplanes that blanketed the area with 2-4D and the other killer components of Agent Orange. Many cancers resulted rapidly, and the lives of humans and animals were horribly changed forever, including excruciating deaths. There have been an untold number of cancer-related deaths and diseases among the collateral damage of the chemical death merchants, here on Kauai. The filmmakers couldn’t continue the project because no one was willing to come forward, for fear of public embarrassment, and because of the threats of government intimidation and punishment.      

    Many of the 600 chemical company workers passionately testified for their jobs at the hearing the other day. They are neighbors and Family members and Friends and fellow citizens. How many are brainwashed by corporate plantation speak, and the threat of losing their jobs? Knowingly, unknowingly, or in denial, they are the primary victims of the poisoning of our island.

    Just like the Kauai workers who handled and mixed and sprayed the Agent Orange all over the Wailua Homesteads, who accepted the jobs, bought the lies of the Army, the UH, the Hawaii Deptartment of Agriculture and the government regulators who are in bed with the manufacturers and the military.

    Although the people of Hawai`i recently forced them to stop GMO taro experiments, the mad scientists at the University of Hawaii (UH) are experimenting with new ways to play God with our food, and all the rest of our environment. According to Ching Yuan Hu, associate dean of research at the UH Manoa's College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources, the university is engineering seeds for disease-resistant bananas, a new variety of papaya, and Spanish lime, and who knows what else?

    We must pass Bill #2491, as a great start to ridding Kauai and the rest of Hawaii and the planet of these chemical death monsters. Kauai, as much as ANY place on earth,  owns this legacy of weapons of mass destruction. God/Goddess gave us all we need to live a clean healthy life without the corporate poisons and their profiteering.

    Council members, please make this a unanimous vote. Take a precautionary principled stand to protect our precious health and well being. We can be world leaders if we want to be. And, we will take care of the 600 workers and their Families because we love them, as we love our own Family.

    It’s so simple to use the Golden Rule and common sense. That’s what we elected you to do. Be strong and bold in your leadership, and truly represent the health of the People and the Aina.

    .

    Renegade Gardener

    SUBHEAD: Ron Finley plots world domination through guerilla gardening home-grown veggies in South Central L.A.

    By katrina Rabeler on 30 July 2013 Yes! Magazine -
    (http://www.yesmagazine.org/people-power/gardening-is-gangsta-an-interview-with-urban-gardener-ron-finley)


    Image above: Ron Finley giving TED Talk. From original article.

    Ron Finley grew up in South Central Los Angeles, a "food desert" where nutritious eats are chronically unavailable. But when the fashion designer, personal trainer, poster collector, and father got tired of driving 45 minutes to buy an organic tomato, he decided to grow his own. Since then, he's started a gardening revolution in his inner city neighborhood, professing that "gardening is gangsta" and that an easy way to promote human rights at home is to "go plant some shit."

    The fame of this "renegade gardener" took off after his February TED talk (the video has over a million views and can be viewed at the end of this article). The New York Times called him "an Appleseed with an attitude."

    Because of all the hype, I definitely wasn’t expecting to see Finley saunter onto the stage of Seattle’s Queen Anne United Methodist Church wearing a pair of cargo shorts with saggy pockets, a pair of Vibram FiveFingers shoes—the ones that have little spaces for each of your toes—and a brown T-shirt that read "Get Dirty." As the pastor introduced him, Finley stretched his arms, broke out his camera, and took a couple of pictures of the audience. He wandered over to check out a picture on the wall and jumped around like a little kid—perhaps a little kid with ADHD.

    Finley’s take on gardening is similarly active. In the fall of 2010, he planted a "demonstration garden" on the strip of land between the curb and the sidewalk—also known as a "curb strip"—in front of his house in South Central Los Angeles, a neighborhood where he has lived all his life. He says he was tired of living in the "food prison"—where the lack of access to healthy foods was causing diabetes, obesity, and other health problems.

    "If you look at the statistics, the drive throughs literally are killing more people than the drive-bys," Finley says. 

    Finley’s garden is a public explosion of color and smells. "I wanted people to get their senses blasted," he says. He didn’t just plant food, but also jasmine, lavender, and sunflowers that grew to ten feet tall. And it got the neighborhood’s attention. People would creep past his yard in their cars, rubbernecking. One day a kid strolled down the street wearing his headphones and then stopped dead in his tracks when he saw the sunflowers.

    "Yo, is that real?" Finley remembers him saying. A few days later, the kid was in the dirt helping out.

    Finley encouraged people to take what they needed from the garden. He shared tomatoes, peppers, melons, eggplant, pumpkins, and more with anyone who passed by his home, often people with few financial resources and little access to vegetables.

    In May of 2011, however, Finley received a citation from the city, which considered his plants "obstructions." They asked him to pay $400 for a permit or remove the garden. After getting 500 signatures on a petition posted on change.org and gaining the confidence of a city councilman, Finley received a permit for free and eventually provoked the city to relax its laws on curb strip usage.

    Since then, Finley has created the organization LA Green Grounds, which plants vegetable gardens in South Central yards free of charge and has installed public gardens in curb strips, homeless shelters, abandoned lots, and traffic medians. The all-volunteer organization has installed over 30 gardens. Finley gets people in the soil and hooks them on fresh homegrown vegetables and a do-it-yourself attitude.

    "People have been away from the dirt for so long," Finley says. "Once you get them in it, they’re gone." His admittedly simple idea is catching on in South Central. As for changing eating habits, Finley believes that gardening makes it happen. "Kids that grow kale eat kale," he says. "Kids that grow tomatoes eat tomatoes."

    His next plan is to bring shipping containers to the abandoned lots in South Central and turn them into cafes. The cafes will be attached to the gardens and serve as community hubs and places to teach cooking lessons.

    Though the city has become a little more lax in its laws, this renegade gardener still considers gardening to be dangerous, revolutionary work. Monsanto, GMOs, chemicals whose names you can’t pronounce, Cheetos, "Big Ag," seed patents—these are the villains Finley says we are up against. They’re "feeding the medical industrial complex" and killing us slowly by giving us diseases like diabetes and cancer, while fostering unnecessary relationships of dependence.

    "Growing your own food is like printing your own money," Finley says, adding that this is something the food companies don’t want us to realize.

    Finley does not identify as an environmentalist. "People ask me 'how did you get into the green initiative?'" he says. "I didn’t. I got into the life, the people, the health initiative."




    Because of his renegade status, I thought Finley was going to have a "too cool for school" attitude, but he treated his audience like they were the most awesome people around. He admits he doesn’t have all the answers—he says he is simply preaching and practicing the gardening gospel that came to him.

    After his Seattle talk, Finley conversed with his fans for two hours, greeting each of us with a giant bear hug. Then I asked him some questions.

    Katrina Rabeler:
    Why is gardening "gangsta"?

    Ron Finley:
    Gardening is gangsta because it empowers, it changes, it uplifts, it creates life, it creates community, it builds. And to me, that's gangsta. Breaking down and polluting and trashing and negativity—to me, that's not gangsta. That's why I say we've got to flip the script on what gangsta is.

    Rabeler:
    How do you make something that kid’s grandmothers probably do seem cool?

    Finley:
    Because it is. To me, the grannies are gangsta. [Chef and school lunch reformer] Alice Waters is one of the ultimate gangstas to me. Anytime you have that kind of effect and you're changing people like that and you're getting recognized and you're literally changing lives and creating life, that's gangsta.

    Rabeler:
    You’re also a fashion designer. How does that skill translate into gardening?

    Finley:
    The garden is just another canvas. I don't put in gardens the way people usually put them in—in rows. Nothing is straight in nature. So when I plant, I want it to be a palette like a tapestry. Color pops. I want people to see different heights, different colors, stuff that supposedly doesn't go together. Especially if it's on the street, I want people to take notice of it.

    Even when I give instructions to people, there're like, "Well, where should this go?" And I'm like, "I don't know. Where should it go?" And then people release. It's just like when you take a paintbrush to a canvas. There's no system. You just start.

    Rabeler:
    You talked a lot about kids in your talk. Are you reaching out to families too?

    Finley:
    Totally. When we put in gardens we usually do it for families. Because I want everyone affected by it. You can't do the one without doing the other. You can't change a child whose parents are not into gardening. The kid brings this home and the parent is going to go "We don't do dirt. Get that out of here. You can't bring that in the house. That's nature. Nature doesn't belong in the house."

    So that's when I talk about the cultural shift. We have to get the mammas and the papas and the children to realize that there’s a change. Because if you're growing but your parents don’t get it, they’re going to say, "We don't do that! We're not slaves." And that's the mentality of a lot of people: that we don't do it—we don't do that anymore. It's below them. "We eat at McDonalds. We don't grow our own food."

    Rabeler:
    What do you say to those parents who, when their kids come home excited about gardening, they say, "We’re above that?"

    Finley:
    You try to get them in the dirt. You try to get them in the soil. You try to get them to taste the food and to see the difference and to change their wicked ways. We have to change culture. And that's big and it's hard and it's long. Because you've got this stuff that's ingrained in people. And they've become their environment. They've become the music. They've become the street. They've become the concrete. That's their DNA now. So that's the biggest shift that we have to do. We have to break this culture. And it takes years to do that. It takes years.

    Rabeler:
    Your collection of film posters is in the Museum of African American Art in Los Angeles. It’s titled Travels Through Blackness: The Ron Finley Collection of International Movie Posters, 1920s to 1970s. Is gardening also a medium by which you can "travel through blackness?"

    Finley:
    Totally. Because a lot of the stuff we, Africans, brought here. Watermelon is from Africa. We brought rice over here. Everybody thinks it's an Asian thing. Africans brought a ton of the agriculture over here. And that's why slave owners used them for agriculture. They brought it. The women would store seeds in their skirts and they brought all kinds of stuff here.


    Rabeler:
    You mentioned in your talk that there can be a competitive attitude to gardening. What does it take for us to go from that attitude to a collaborative one?

    Finley: 
      It's not far at all. And that's what it should be and that's what you should be encouraging. If I put a garden in your place, you have to help on the next garden. It's a pay it forward kind of thing. That's what it's all about. If we all do that, everybody's going to have a garden. If we all pitch in. It's almost like a barn-raising with the Quakers. Now everybody's got a barn. Because everybody pitched in.

    Rabeler:
    What's your biggest wish for your project?

    Finley: 
      World domination. That we have healthy, sustainable food sources all over the world. That people understand that you can do this yourself. There are entities that don't care about our health. They don't care about us. They've shown that millions and millions of times. So we have to do it. It's the only way it's going to happen.
    I want to see people empowering themselves with sustainable food, sustainable lives, and being able to live free—where they don't have to be supported or expect somebody else to support them. I want to see empowerment and people who know that they have it and know that they can change their life—know that they can change their manufactured reality and design their own life the way they want it to be. And that's what gardens represent to me.


    Video above: TED talk "A guerilla gardener in South Central LA" by Ron Finley. From (http://youtu.be/EzZzZ_qpZ4w)


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    Retiring the American Empire

    SOURCE:Jonathan Jay (jjkauai@gmail.com)
    SUBHEAD: The U.S. isn't a typical empire. Perhaps it can distinguish itself in this one category - Legacy.

    By John Feffer on 3 August 2013 for Press TV -
    (http://www.presstv.ir/detail/2013/08/02/316825/retiring-the-american-empire/)


    Image above: The Statue of Liberty up to her nostrils in global warming. From original article.

    As people near retirement age, they enter the twilight years. Sometimes, they rebel against retirement. They want to keep working. They’re not interested in shuffling out of their office never to return. And if they’re in fact the owner of the workplace, conflicts often ensue. Those who have power rarely want to give up that power.

    The United States is relatively young as a country. It is even younger as the so-called “leader of the free world.” But for at least three decades, reports have circulated that the American empire has entered its twilight years, perhaps even its dotage.

    The U.S. government itself cautioned us to scale back our expectations in the late 1970s when President Jimmy Carter called on Americans to cut back on consumerism and adjust to an age of diminishing expectations. Then, after the Reagan rebound, we were warned by Yale professor Paul Kennedy of imperial overstretch in the late 1980s. The Clinton years saved us from bankruptcy and the George W. Bush administration again reasserted American power in the world.

    But now, the United States has again sunk into economic malaise and the wars of the last decade have left the country badly bruised. Historian Alfred McCoy believes the U.S. empire won’t make it until 2025. Norwegian sociologist Johan Galtung pulls the horizon a little closer to 2025. It’s also possible that the empire already ended and somebody forgot to make the announcement. In 2011, Standard and Poor’s removed the United States from its list of risk-free borrowers, putting us below Canada and Australia. That could very well have been the death knell.

    Predicting the end of American empire is complicated by the fact that the United States is not a traditional empire. It does not try to maintain territorial control over distant lands (though many residents of Hawai’i and Guam might disagree). It doesn’t practice a straightforward policy of pillaging overseas possessions for their material wealth. It practices a form of consensual give-and-take with its allies in Europe and Asia.

    But the American Goliath does straddle the globe militarily, with hundreds and hundreds of military bases and Special Forces operating in 71 countries. The United States remains number one in the dubious categories of overall military spending and overall military exports.

    Economically, the United States attempts to use the size of its economy to negotiate favorable deals with smaller countries (think: NAFTA) and often defines its national security priorities by their proximity to valuable natural resources (think: oil). It wields disproportionate influence in international economic organizations like the World Bank and International Monetary Fund.

    Culturally, Hollywood and the music industry and the television studios all set the standard for cool around the world. English is the world language, and the dollar (for now) is the world currency.

    This is, in other words, an empire of consent. Other governments ask for our military bases (though often over the objections of their citizens). Other governments want to trade with the United States. No one makes people watch Avatar or Titanic, the top-grossing movies worldwide. No one forces consumers at gunpoint to eat at McDonald’s or drink Coca-Cola. It’s true that Washington does what it can to tilt the playing field - through export subsidies, diplomatic arm-twisting, and the occasional show of force. And it can be a very lonely world for those countries, like North Korea, that consistently defy the United States. But this still remains a much more complex set of relationships than Pax Romana or Pax Britannica.

    However one defines U.S. power, though, a fundamental shift is clearly taking place in the world. China is slated to surpass the United States as the world’s largest economy as early as 2016. According to a recent Pew Research Center poll, many people already believe that China has done so. Indeed, if measured by purchasing power, China nosed past the United States a couple years ago.

    It’s not just China. The other celebrated members of the BRICS - Brazil, India, Russia, South Africa - are more quietly building up their economic and geopolitical power. Then there’s MIST - Mexico, Indonesia, South Korea, and Turkey - another group of rising powers. The proliferation of other groupings - the Next 11, CIVETS - all testifies to the transformation of world power.

    Meanwhile, the United States is behaving like a country desperately trying to maintain its edge. It has proclaimed a “Pacific pivot” even though it doesn’t have the resources to execute any significant shift from the Middle East to Asia. It has attempted to maintain unsustainable levels of military spending at a time of serious budget constraints. It has tried to maintain a surveillance state in the face of considerable challenges from both individuals and organizations. Detroit has gone bankrupt; bridges have collapsed in Washington state and Arizona; thousands in New York and New Jersey are still homeless after last year’s Hurricane Sandy; gun violence annually claims tens of thousands of lives.

    And on the issues where the world truly needs leadership - global warming, global poverty, global militarism - the United States is either out to lunch or very much part of the problem.

    An aging chief executive who resists calls for retirement will often whip out his trump card: après moi, le deluge! In other words, if the top person goes, whatever their vices might be, the organization will collapse because no one else can provide effective leadership.

    The United States frequently resorts to this kind of argument. In Asia, for instance, the U.S. military bills itself as the only force that prevents China, Japan, the two Koreas, and the various claimants to the South China Sea islands from tearing out each other’s throats. Afghanistan, we are told, will fall to the Taliban without U.S. assistance. U.S. drone warfare, worldwide surveillance, and “overseas contingency operations,” according to Washington, are the only things between al-Qaeda and global domination.

    Whether the U.S. military and U.S. corporations are a force for stability or instability is a question I’ll leave to future debate. But to extend the retirement metaphor, responsible executives prepare for their own eventual - and inevitable - retirement by preparing others to fill the shoes. Empires, of course, never do this. They simply collapse and thereby cause tremendous chaos.

    But the United States is not a typical empire. Perhaps it can distinguish itself in this one additional category: legacy.

    Imagine if the United States helped to refashion current institutions like the United Nations and the World Bank to reflect the current geopolitical balance of power instead of the realities of the immediate post-World War II era. Imagine if the United States helped to create a new global mechanism devoted to penalizing countries for high rates of military spending and rewarding them for increasing their budgets to address poverty and climate change.

    Imagine if the United States sat down with China to talk about how the two leading world economies can work together on global problems rather than at cross-purposes.

    If the United States were to change its global behavior, it might discover that the calls for early retirement fade. Then, as a more cooperative international player, America could truly enjoy its imperial twilight in the sure knowledge that the deluge is not imminent.


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