Lihue loss of vision

SUBHEAD: A deeper planning question is how do we prepare Kauai (and Hawaii) to be sustainable and resilient.

By Juan Wilson on 5 September 2014 for Island Breath-

Image above: Pat Griffin, president of the Lihue Business Association (L), discuss aspects of Nawiliwili with Melissa White (R) a consultant with SSFM International during public community meeting. Note presentation board is titled "Desired Patterns of Future Growth & Development". Photo by Dennis Fujimoto.

Yesterday the Garden Island News published a story titled "Lihue's Vision". The takeaway of this article is summed up in the subhead:
 "Plans say 9,000 new housing units needed over the next 20 years."
Another angle on this view into the future, not simply based on the current trajectory of growth, might take into consideration the likelihood that the economic, energy and environmental realities twenty years out will not support that trajectory of growth.

A deeper planning question is how do we prepare Kauai (and Hawaii) to be sustainable and resilient in the future that is playing out in reality... not the one that is an exponential projection of our bad choices to date.

The TGI article is short, so I have reproduced it below.

Been here before?
 I did not attend this meeting but the article makes it sound very familiar. It briefly describes the "community outreach" by the Kauai County Planning Commission (and its experts) in its ceaseless effort to accommodate more development on our island.

The meeting was a public meeting to acquaint the residents from Puhi-Lihue-Hanamaulu area with what's heading their way.  

The usual elements were there - talk of fixing traffic problems, providing more pedestrian amenities, using smart growth thinking and green planning techniques. It's the current form of feelgood evasive jargon spouted by highly regarded experts who want to sell you a bridge to nowhere.

In this case the expert was Cheryl Soon PhD, a hired gun from the project management firm SSFM International. Their mission statement ends (

"Our extensive expertise in engineering, project management, planning, and construction management is built upon a platform of knowledge-based systems, and we leverage that to service our clients."
 In other words, they never saw a speculative development expansion they didn't like. And they have the muscle to push that project through - if you pay them enough.

Dr. Soon said:
"The plan is a community driven direction for growth and allows private parties to know ahead of time if their plans will fit and be favorably received..."
 The Jargon of Growth
This is jargon for setting it up so that if the plan is accepted by the community, the private developers will know their individual schemes will get approval from Planning without the usual rigmarole of have to grovel in endless public meetings. 

So, not only are we paying for a Planning Department that justifies its existence on the approval and management of new development on Kauai, but that must to go outside experts to convince us of the validity of their "vision".

Our county mayor, Bernard Carvalho, was present to add his wisdom in the issue of planning:
"We look from the past to add on to the present and incorporate some of the technologies of today and hopefully the future to make better opportunities."
What the fuck does that mean?

Public Gets Wise?
The TGI article also makes it plain that the meeting did not go quite as smoothly as had been anticipated or hoped for.

The TGI article mentions a few rough spots for the presenters:
"A small but outspoken group was on hand for the Lihue Community Plan meeting Wednesday at the War Memorial Convention Hall."
"The group of 20 people present expressed concern in many areas. They cautioned planners that the urban edge zoning allowed for oceanfront lots north of Hanamaulu Beach. It gave the appearance of the government allowing luxury development and could create conflict with the vision.

Some were skeptical of the plan’s claim that the county and Grove Farm water supply was adequate for sustained growth, and that all developers had to do is build infrastructure to transmit water to projects.

Guests were concerned as much with consistent sidewalks as with bike paths. Others wanted to see more detail on how bypass roads would be utilized, more tree replacement projects and long-term burial of utility lines."
Leanora Kaiaokamalie, a planner with the County Planning Department said:
"It was a very intense public process, it’s long overdue, and I am looking forward to see this all come to fruition."

Remember back on May 23rd when the Garden Island published "Beating the Traffic Rush"? It covered another public presentation on a bypass road mauka of the Kuhio Highway that would start in Puhi and rejoin the highway in Hamamaulu. Is there any possibility that it and the current article are related?

We said then in Tales of a dark Kauai:
"This describes a $120 million dollar highway boondoggle bypass road mauka of the current highway between Puhi and Hanamaulu. I won't happen for a very long time but it will be the backbone for more development, more traffic and a loss of important agland."

TGI 9/4/2014

A small but outspoken group was on hand for the Lihue Community Plan meeting Wednesday at the War Memorial Convention Hall. 
The seven chapter Lihue Community Plan outlines the boundaries of development and provides a principled vision for planning responsible land use through 2035. The goal is a more cohesive and walkable community that maintains the integrity of it character without segregation.

“It was a very intense public process, it’s long overdue, and I am looking forward to see this all come to fruition,” said Leanora Kaiaokamalie, a planner with the County Planning Department. “The implementing is going to take work but hopefully we set the framework to support all of those who are wanting to move in that direction.”

Cheryl Soon, Ph.D., a planning group manager from SSFM International, facilitated the presentation, emphasizing that demographics show a need for 9,000 new housing units over the next 20 years. The plan draws out an “Urban Edge Boundary” to define limits of urban development for best use and protection of ag land and natural resources.

The plan is a community driven direction for growth and allows private parties to know ahead of time if their plans will fit and be favorably received, she said. Public comments will be received until Sept. 12.

The group of 20 people present expressed concern in many areas. They cautioned planners that the urban edge zoning allowed for oceanfront lots north of Hanamaulu Beach. It gave the appearance of the government allowing luxury development and could create conflict with the vision.

Some were skeptical of the plan’s claim that the county and Grove Farm water supply was adequate for sustained growth, and that all developers had to do is build infrastructure to transmit water to projects.

Guests were concerned as much with consistent sidewalks as with bike paths. Others wanted to see more detail on how bypass roads would be utilized, more tree replacement projects and long-term burial of utility lines.

Mayor Bernard P. Carvalho Jr., said the plan shows how Lihue and neighboring towns are spread out and how to interconnect in ways that require less cars. It started with the Complete Streets resolution.

This is a high density area and the places to expand include behind Walmart, and near Wilcox Memorial Hospital, near the back portion of the stadium area.

“We look from the past to add on to the present and incorporate some of the technologies of today and hopefully the future to make better opportunities,” he said.

See also:
Ea O Ka Aina: Abercrombie booed on PLDC 9/20/12


The false science of science

SUBHEAD: Some scientists say there is no problem with eating GMOs or being bathed in low level radiation.

By Juan Wilson on 2 September 2014 for Island Breath -

Image above: How can you tell if a shoes fits your foot? Use radiation to X-ray it! Note this model had three viewers. One for you, one for the salesman and one for your mom? Now that's scientific! From (

Just because its not scientifically "proven" to be dangerous does not mean it is not. In my lifetime children were sprayed with DDT while playing outdoors to keep the mosquitoes at bay, and shoe stores were equipped with x-ray foot machines for getting the proper fit. It was all so "scientific!".

Have you noticed the big push in the media to "balance the coverage" on the negative effects of GMO food production? Here are two current examples from the "liberal" media.

The New Yorker
The current issue of the New Yorker magazine features a story on Vandana Shiva titled "Seeds of Doubt", by Michael Spector. The article makes the case that "science" has determined that there are no reasons not to produce food using GMO technology because it has not "proven" to be harmful.

Spector is not a neutral observer. He supports GMO technology and its predecessor the Green Revolution. He and others argue for GMOs to feed the ten-billion humans expected on the planet in the next generation (under the duress of climate change).  They say that we have to employ nitrogen fertilizers, GMO's, monoculture and any other trick we can come up with. He writes:
“Without the nitrogen fertilizer to grow crops used to feed our recent ancestors so they could reproduce, many of us probably wouldn’t be here today,” Raoul Adamchack told me. “It would have been a different planet, smaller, poorer, and far more agrarian.”
What is wrong with a planet that is "smaller, poorer and far more agrarian" if the alternative is taking the wild out of our the wilderness and covering it with fossil based nitrogen fertilizer and mono-culture GMO crops?

Spector respectfully but subtly trashes Vandana Shiva. He begins by disqualifying her as an expert because she is a physicist and not a biologist, even though she has been intimately involved with the subject for three decades. He says of her:
In contrast to most agricultural ecologists, Shiva remains committed to the idea that organic farming can feed the world. Owing almost wholly to the efforts of Shiva and other activists, India has not approved a single genetically modified food crop for human consumption... 

Shiva maintains a savvy presence in social media, and her tweets, intense and dramatic, circulate rapidly among tens of thousands of followers across the globe. They also allow her to police the movement and ostracize defectors. 
One of those "defectors" was environmentalist Mark Lynas who stood strongly against the use of biotechnology in agriculture for more than a decade. Then he saw the light. Last year at the Oxford Farming Conference he announced a reversal of his position.
“For the record, here and up front, I apologize for having spent several years ripping up G.M. crops,” he said. “I am also sorry that I . . . assisted in demonizing an important technological option which can be used to benefit the environment.” 
 And speaking of Mark Lynas, NPR is using him as a an expert on the subject of feeding the world.

National Public Radio
This morning on  National Public Radio the show The Takeaway, hosted by John Hockenberry, featured a story "Should GMOs Help Feed a Hot & Hungry World?". The story featured Mark Lynas. As one of the founders of the anti-GMO movement in the United Kingdom, activist Mark Lynas once uprooted genetically modified crops with his bare hands. Along with Vandana Shiva, he helped lead the crusade against the use of GMOs out of a sincere concern they might be dangerous.

Lynas, now a visiting fellow at Cornell University, has recently changed his mind on GMOs, deciding that his anti-GMO convictions rejected sound science. He recently published a book, “The God Species: How the Planet Can Survive the Age of Humans”. On Amazon the book's cover is illustrated with a nuclear power plant cooling tower in a field of GMO corn that stretches in every direction to the horizon. Below the book's message is described below:
Nature no longer controls our planet – it is humanity, ‘the god species’, that must save the environment we have inflicted unprecedented damage upon. And the tools we must use are the very technologies that environmentalist have told us for years will spell disaster: nuclear power, GM food and geo-engineering.

The "takeaway" for me is that there is a full court press by the big-ag chemical corporations to pitch the idea that without GMOs we will all starve. I would counter that if we plan to feed ten-billion people in the future, that future won't be worth living in. We will have to destroy nature to get there.

Those that embrace GMO food are often the ones who embrace nuclear power generation. Nuclear power has for the most part been operational for only one overly extended generation of power plants. As of March 11, 2014 in 31 countries 435 nuclear power plant units with an installed electric net capacity of about 372 GW are in operation and 72 plants with an installed capacity of 68 GW are in 15 countries under construction.

Some of the most respected people in the world are pro-nuke. As I wrote back in February in a piece called "Things won't get back to normal"
Even some of the most influential councils I have heard of in the past few decades are flailing to find a way back to the good old days. I can understand why techno-optimist Bill Gates - Founder of Microsoft - would be trying to keep all the juice flowing but why would these guys be turning to cranking up the dial on nuclear power?
Stuart Brand - Creator of the Whole Earth Catalog
James Lovelock - The discoverer of the Gaia Principle
James Hansen - NASA scientist who warned of Global Warming 
These guys realize that what we call a world civilization today is predicated on unlimited power and growth. They understand that our way of life ends with a limitation on growth and power... and they cannot face that eventuality. I say get used to it. Not only get used to it but embrace it. The alternative is extinction.

How does this relate to nuclear power?

High-Level Nuclear Radiation
The obvious way is the disposition of the highly radioactive 'spent" fuel consisting mostly of uranium and plutonium. As long as the nations producing this poison had a market in nuclear weapons grade material there was a place to put this crap (at least temporarily). Tens of thousands of nuclear bombs and missiles were produced during the cold war. Not so many now.

And in the several decades after the Cold War there has been no successful widely accepted solution to the problem of storing such material for the tens or hundreds of thousands of years that are needed to make them safe.

Plan after plan for storing nuclear waste has been rejected. One recent serious attempt in the last two decades is the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) in Carlsbad, New Mexico. Originally WIPP was characterized as an experimental low-level nuclear waste repository.

But since its inception the WIPP facility has been accepting nuclear waste from places like Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico, and the Hanford Nuclear Reservation in Washington, and Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Kentucky. These three sites are places where has been a great deal of production of high-level radioisotopes for weapons.

The WIPP stores drums of radioactive material a half mile underground in a former salt mine. It was designed to safely store nuclear material for thousands of years. The only problem is the facility failed on February 14th 2014 and has been occasionally emitting bursts of radioactive hot particles ever since.

Uncontrolled fires and the threat of more have rendered the only "safe" place designated nuclear waste "Out of Order!". If you are downwind of the plant in Tulsa or Saint Louis when the plant is spewing, take care.

This area of high-level nuclear waste is a known danger. Scientists have carefully studied the results of human exposure since Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Where the silent killer may reside is in the low-level radiation.

Low-Level Nuclear Radiation
There has been little conclusive and widespread agreement on the effects of continuous exposure  to low-level radiation. Many scientists will tell you that there is no lower limit of exposure to radiation that is not harmful. Other scientists argue that there is no proven correlation to harm caused by low-level exposure.

Both are right. For the most part harm from radiation is a matter of statistics. The cause of slightly higher rates of birth defects or childhood thyroid cancer in eastern Japan three years after the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant failure is impossible to pinpoint. It may take more time for that to become icily clear.

But what happens in Japan is only a small part of the Fukushima catastrophe. The amount of low-level radiation throughout the Pacific Ocean is rising everyday as hundreds of tons of water laced with a great deal of radioactive tritium, cesium and strontium enter the ocean.

These elements have been dispersed throughout the Pacific Ocean and have reached the west coast of North America in fairly high concentrations.

Could they affect the biosphere of the ocean?

The diamond mining company De Beers coined the advertising motto "A diamond is forever". A variant I suggest is "A meltdown is forever".

Is it a mutation?
Some observers are making the case the anecdotal reports from Alaska to Mexico of unexpected massive die-offs of species from starfish, to anchoves, to salmon,  to pelicans, to sea lions are unrelated. These unprecedented occurrences are due to ocean acidification, algae blooms, global warming, etc.

These all might be contributing factors stressing life in the sea. Another is now increasing amounts of low-level radiation throughout the ocean. Here are two of many reports in ENE News related to increases in domoic acid produced by sea algae. 
Santa Cruz Sentinel, May 2, 2014: State health warnings over shellfish, anchovies and sardines are highlighting a marine mystery [...] what’s behind a toxic outbreak threatening marine life? [...] Researchers in the relatively new area of study say the problem is the worst they have ever seen. [Though the] toxin likely has always been part of the ecosystem, the threat appears to be growing. [...] results of late are the highest ever [...] sea lions affected by domoic acid show a severely shrunken hippocampus [and] lesions on the hearts and brains [...] the mystery behind why and when it happens remains largely unsolved [...]

KSBW, Apr. 30, 2014: Toxic algae blooms killing sea birds, threaten humans — A new health warning has been issued urging people to not eat certain parts of anchovy, sardines, or crab caught in the Monterey Bay. [It's causing seabirds'] nervous systems to fail. [...] the state public health department issued a warning not to eat recreationally harvested shellfish [...] from the Monterey Bay. On Monday, officials issued an update advising consumers not to eat the internal organs of commercially or recreationally caught anchovy, sardines or crab [...] Typically the toxic algae blooms only last a week or two but the latest one has lasted all month [...]
 Some people are beginning to wonder if constant pervasive low-level radiation in the environment might be creating mutations in algae and plankton. Along with the combination of all the other environmental stressors, like ocean acidification and temperature rise, this could conceivably create mutated species that produce more domoic acid, currently challenging the food chain along the west coast of North America. 

It will take science some time to get a  handle on this issue - perhaps years. That does not mean that because there is no scientific consensus on the safety of exposure to low-level nuclear radiation that it is not the catalyst for a major die-off in the Pacific Ocean.  We are not safe as a continuous intravenous drip of strontium 90 and cesium 137 enter the veins of the Pacific Ocean.

A monumental world-wide effort should be made to divert the water flowing through the watershed of the Fukushima Nuclear Plant safely away from the site. It may have to be a gigantic engineering effort. Even if it were on a scale comparable to the building of the US Interstate System, something must be done to isolate the four melted nuclear cores from the ocean.


First step to becoming a farmer

SUBHEAD: While making the season's tomato sauce at three in the morning, I mull over the origins of my desire to farm.

By Shannon Hayes on 28 August 2014 for Yes Magazine -

Image above: "Radical Homemakers" author Shannon Hayes, with husband Bob Hooper. Photo by Daniel Rubin. (From (

It’s three in the morning. I’m standing in my kitchen, staring down 70 pounds of tomatoes and 35 pounds of onions, all awaiting their destiny in a year’s supply of tomato sauce. Lined up next to the basement stairs are 40 pounds of green beans, already chopped and neatly canned in quart jars.
“How did you take that step? How did you make a farm your life?”
August doesn’t overwhelm me like it used to. I’ve run the calculations numerous times, and the savings, year-round convenience, and flavor garnered from the extra labors invested this month far outweigh the drawbacks of a few sleep-deprived nights. I’ve been up for a half hour already, and I am confident that I will have the sauce settled into a comfortable simmer by the time I start home-school with the girls in a few hours.

My body is well acquainted with the necessary motions. Little thought is required as I fill the sink with tomatoes and line up my production course. My hands slip into the cool water and remove the wet fruit. My paring knife glides in and around the tops, removing the stem, and my mind is free to travel.

This morning it settles on an incident from the night before. I had sat down at my computer in an attempt to answer an email from a reader asking two simple questions: “How did you take that step? How did you make a farm your life?” Before I could respond, the phone rang. Mom was paying bills, and she wasn’t happy.

We’d just sent a Jersey out for processing, and she now discovered that the fee for ground beef had gone up 25 cents per pound. At the same time, she was confronted with a bill for purchasing new livestock. Presently, the price of stocker cattle is at record levels. The farm is getting pinched, and she feels we need to adjust the prices.

But a cost adjustment on ground beef isn’t easy. Unlike commodity farmers who must accept prices determined by the market, as direct marketers we are privileged with the ability to set the fee for our product based on our expenses.

That said, we have to look our customers in the eye. Changing the price of ground beef is a big deal. It doesn’t dramatically impact the small handful of our customers who have good jobs and high incomes. It impacts the vast majority of them—the ones who are either eking out an existence on the economic fringe, or the ones perceived as slightly more affluent but who are crushed between mortgages, school debts, middle class salaries, and a desire for wholesome food.

Those folks can easily bypass the high-end cuts if they are out of their price range. But ground beef is what folks buy when they can’t afford anything else.

Mom puts Dad on the phone with me. He and I run the numbers on the animal. We look at the live weight, the hanging weight, the yield percentages. We put that up against the price of the stockers and the cost of processing. We nudge the price up until the farm is able to net 60 cents per pound on ground beef. Averaged out with the other higher-value cuts, Sap Bush Hollow should net about $500 on this Jersey. He seems satisfied.

I am not. Each day, our farm is inching closer to a full transition, where Bob and I will completely take over the family business. As the next tomato glides through my fingers, I am tallying the unmentioned costs that were not figured into the price of that meat: taxes, insurance, transportation, electricity, repairs and upkeep, market fees, and the biggest one of all: labor.
The trick to keeping a family farm running is capitalizing on the under-utilized resources.
I drop one tomato into the bowl, then pick up a second, smiling ruefully as I consider that reader’s question. She wants to know how I took that first step. Meanwhile, I’m trying to figure out how we will keep this place running. I pause in my work with the tomatoes and shift to the stove. Bob has thoughtfully sliced the onions the night before, and I put them on to cook, then begin to peel the garlic Mom pulled from the garden for me.

Soon the kitchen is awake with the sizzle of onions and garlic in four enormous stockpots spread across the cooktops. Under-utilized resources, I tell myself. The trick to keeping a family farm running is capitalizing on the under-utilized resources. 

 We’ve figured out how to capitalize on the lard, the tallow, the chicken livers, the bone broth. Is there anything else? The writing. I could step up production and marketing of the books. That could help pay the labor bill.

I push that thought from my mind. Writing, after all, is not a farm product. It is something I do to honor the calling in my soul. But it is not farming.

I add the first batch of tomatoes to the pots and am transported back into Ruth’s kitchen. Ruth was my surrogate grandmother who used to live on the farm up the road. We had a tight working space in her house. She didn’t have the luxury of counters. Food preparation was done at the kitchen table, which had to be cleared first of her crochet projects.

Over the course of a day that table was a workshop while she crocheted baby blankets and booties to sell to neighbors; it was the work station for her summer canning; it was the pastry board where she rolled out crusts for the pies she would make to order.

Like my writing, none of those things were called farm products, either. But it was the canning that kept the grocery bill down, and the money from pies and baby booties that kept the siding on the barn.

I find a long wooden spoon to stir the first round of crushed tomatoes into the onions. I leave behind thoughts of Ruth’s crocheted booties and blackberry pies. My mind drifts back to that reader’s question: How did you take that first step?

I consider answering her with a historical perspective. Right now in home-school, Saoirse is studying ancient civilizations. The agricultural revolution is glossed over in her textbook with a simple paragraph that begins, “After thousands of years, Stone Age people did learn to grow their own food.” As a happy result, the book explains, early people no longer had to keep moving from one cave to the next.

Feeling the topic might warrant a little more investigation, I looked up the history of agriculture on the Internet. The data were pretty firm about the earliest planned sowing and harvesting, the first irrigation systems, the first use of fertilizers. But scholars cannot seem to agree on why this happened. Some have hypothesized that humans were becoming increasingly sedentary.

Ha. Apparently those scholars haven’t spent much time on a working farm.

Others attributed it to localized climate change; someone else suggests that it was the result of tribes exerting dominance by hosting big parties.

I scroll through the list on Wikipedia until I come to a tiny mention at the bottom of the page: “The Domestication Hypothesis”First, humans stayed in particular areas, then, agriculture developed.
How do you take the first step to become a farmer? You act out of love.
That, in my mind, almost gets at the crux of why. Here’s what I think happened: There was a woman. She loved her husband. But she loved her mom and dad too, and she didn’t want to leave them behind just because she got hitched.

And then there was her mother, who suddenly couldn’t bear the thought of splitting away from her daughter, of not being able to nuzzle, coo, and grunt over her grandbabies. And then there was the grandfather, who had killed enough wild game and found he preferred to play with younger members of his tribe.

Or maybe it was a hunter who started it. Maybe he and his fellow tribesmen killed some wild sheep, then found a few baby lambs. He couldn’t bear to leave them defenseless.

Or maybe it was a man, or a woman, who looked out from the cave one day and realized that the piece of ground they were standing on had such a deep hold on them that they couldn’t move.

 Here’s the bottom line: I believe the reason why the agricultural revolution happened is the same as the reason why a person takes their first step in farming. It is the same reason why a farmer keeps raising cattle when they net only 60 cents a pound on ground beef.

And it is the same answer as to why one woman would crochet baby booties and bake pies to keep the siding on the barn, or why another would dip candles, make soap, write books, or stand in her kitchen at three in the morning chopping tomatoes. The answer is love.

When you are in love, you do whatever it takes. You limit your profit to 60 cents per pound because you love your customers. You crochet booties and bake pies so you don’t have to leave the land that holds your soul. You write your books, turn sausages, or dip candles so that you can keep your family together.

And when August rolls around, and you have to pull yourself from your bed while it is still dark so that you can process 70 pounds of tomato sauce before your children wake up, love is the only alarm clock. And getting up is easy.

I have just finished washing and grinding the first sink full of tomatoes. I am dumping in the second load when I hear a creak on the stairs. Ula’s head pops around the corner. Her eyes are still sleepy, her hair is a nest of tangles.

“Mommy? Why are you doing this alone? You know we can help you.”

She’s right. Seeing my smile, she scuttles down the stairs in her underpants and T-shirt, then scrambles up on a kitchen stool. Without another word she washes her hands in the sink, then goes to find a knife. At last, I am ready to answer my reader’s question. How do you take the first step to become a farmer? You act out of love.

• Shannon Hayes wrote this article for YES! Magazine, a national, nonprofit media organization that fuses powerful ideas with practical actions. Shannon is the author of Radical Homemakers: Reclaiming Domesticity from a Consumer Culture, The Grassfed Gourmet and The Farmer and the Grill. She is the host of and Hayes works with her family on Sap Bush Hollow Farm in upstate New York.


Small organic farms to feed world

SOURCE: Taylor Ken (
SUBHEAD: A 2013 UN report says small-scale organic farming only way to feed the world.

By Nick Meyer on 14 December 2013 for Technology Water -

Image above: An example of a small organic garden. From original article.

Even as the United States government continues to push for the use of more chemically-intensive and corporate-dominated farming methods such as GMOs and monoculture-based crops, the United Nations is once against sounding the alarm about the urgent need to return to (and develop) a more sustainable, natural and organic system.

That was the key point of a new publication from the UnitedcNations Commission on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) titled “Trade and Environment Review 2013: Wake Up Before It’s Too Late,” which included contributions from more than 60 experts around the world.

The cover of the report looks like that of a blockbuster documentary or Hollywood movie, and the dramatic nature of the title cannot be understated: The time is now to switch back to our natural farming roots.

The findings on the report seem to echo those of a December 2010 UN Report in many ways, one that essentially said organic and small-scale farming is the answer for “feeding the world,” not GMOs and monocultures.

According to the new UN report, major changes are needed in our food, agriculture and trade systems, with a shift toward local small-scale farmers and food systems recommended.

Diversity of farms, reducing the use of fertilizer and other changes are desperately needed according to the report, which was highlighted in this article from the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy.

It also said that global trade rules should be reformed in order to work toward these ends, which is unfortunately the opposite of what mega-trade deals like the proposed Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) and the U.S.-EU Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) are seeking to accomplish.

The Institute noted that these pending deals are “primarily designed to strengthen the hold of multinational corporate and financial firms on the global economy…” rather than the reflect the urgent need for a shift in agriculture described in the new report.

Even global security may be at stake according to the report, as food prices (and food price speculating) continue to rise.

“This implies a rapid and significant shift from conventional, monoculture-based and high-external-input-dependent industrial production toward mosaics of sustainable, regenerative production systems that also considerably improve the productivity of small-scale farmers,” the report concludes.

You can read more about the report from the Institute by visiting their website here.


See also:
Ea o Ka Aina: CanGMOs feed the world? 8/19/14


Clowns are dragging us into war

SUBHEAD: The US and EU have worked for years to see their desire to take over Ukraine come to fruition.

By Raul Ilargi Meijer on 31 August 204 for the Automatic Earth -

Image above: Oil painting of "Binky's Bad Karma" by Mark Bryan, 2004. From (

In 8 weeks, on October 26, there are – supposed to be – parliamentary elections in Ukraine. What’s that going to look like? Who’s going to vote? In the presidential elections a few months ago, most of east Ukraine did not vote. How many different ways are there to define democracy and still remain credible?

In an interview today on Russian Channel 1, Vladimir Putin commented on the upcoming elections: “All the participants in the electoral race will want to show how cool they are; Everyone will want to show they are strongmen or strongwomen, and as the political struggle sharpens it is hard to expect anyone to seek a peaceful resolution and not a military one.” That would seem to be an accurate prediction.

The EU yesterday (in yet another definition of democracy) picked its new president. They chose Polish PM Donald Tusk, which may seem a bit strange since Tusk doesn’t speak a word of either English or French, and he comes from a nation that is not even in the Eurozone, yet he will now now get to chair meetings that concern the euro.

But Tusk is a hawk on Russia, and therefore suspiciously convenient to the inner core of Washington and Brussels’ control apparatus. He’s said more bad and ugly things about Russia and Putin than just about anyone recently, and that’s saying something.

The US and EU have worked for years to see their desire to take over Ukraine come to fruition.

They’ve come a long way, but they wanted Crimea and the Donbass region most of all, and those they still don’t have. Still, they’ve so far shown themselves more than willing to assist first in killing thousands of eastern Ukrainians to get what they want, and now they are prepared to start a war over it.

The well-prepared, built-up step by step, storyline in the western press is the threat of Russia’s expansionary drift. Hence this Reuters piece:

Polish President Warns Germany Of Putin’s ‘Empire’ Ambitions
Polish President Bronislaw Komorowski said that Vladimir Putin is trying to build a new Russian empire for Moscow and that the region now had to choose whether it wanted “a Cossack Europe or a democratic one”. “Russia has carried out an invasion in Ukraine,” the Polish head of state told German public radio. Komorowski said Putin was quite open about his ambitions to “rebuild the empire”. The Polish president is an ally of Prime Minister Donald Tusk. “I hope Germans are sufficiently mindful of what a Soviet empire meant for Europe,” Komorowski told Deutschlandradio Kultur and Deutschlandfunk, warning against any reprise of the pre-World War Two “appeasement policy of yielding to Hitler”.
That’s the kind of thing where I go: Huh? Did I see that right? You try to scare the Germans by referring to a Russia that by now has been history for almost 25 years, a Russia that was instrumental in saving Europe from the Third Reich and lost 20-30 million people in the process, by reminding them of an 80-year old policy of appeasement to Hitler? The Germans?

When we look at what has actually happened over the past decade, and what we can prove when it comes to expansion drift, that is without a doubt a painfully hollow story. Since what we actually do know, what is not mere conjecture, is that it has instead been the west, through NATO, that has been in expansion mood.

Despite solid agreements not to move NATO’s borders eastward, the alliance has done nothing but move east, and is now planning to put even more troops and new army bases right on Russia’s doorstep. The narrative to justify this NATO expansion that breaches those former agreements, which we can see time and again, is that Russia is moving west, for which there is no proof, only accusations, and that NATO territory is inviolable, but Ukraine is not a NATO member.

No NATO territory is under threat of being violated, other than inside the narrative. Moreover, while voices in Europe increasingly claim that the threat to Ukraine is a threat to Europe (i.e. the EU), Ukraine is no more an EU member than it is a NATO member. Brussels seems to want it to be, but that’s where the narrative ends. So it’s simply being changed on the fly and has now become:

“Ukraine is fighting a war on behalf of all Europe”, according Lithuanian leader Dalia Grybauskaite.
Which is where I think: really, Ukraine has killed over 2000 of its own citizens ‘on behalf of Europe’?

The entire conflict could be solved in a heartbeat if Kiev would simply tell the Donbass leadership that they can be autonomous. But that’s not what Poroshenko wants, or Yatsenyuk, and certainly not Washington and Brussels. Because the Donbass is by far the richest region in Ukraine.

Which however happens to be home to people who don’t want to be ruled by the present Kiev leadership. Well, so you kill a bunch of them and instill fear in the rest, right?

Putin had something to say about that too, first in Agence France Presse’s version of his Channel 1 interview:

Putin Urges Ukraine ‘Statehood’ Talks
Russian President Vladimir Putin today sharply raised the stakes in the Ukraine conflict by calling for the first time for statehood to be considered for the restive east of the former Soviet state. Mr Putin’s defiant remarks came just hours after the EU gave Moscow – which the bloc accuses of direct involvement in the insurgency – a week to change course or face new sanctions. “We need to immediately begin substantive talks… on questions of the political organisation of society and statehood in southeastern Ukraine … ”
And then the way RT reported it:
Putin: Impossible To Say When Political Crisis In Ukraine Will End
Russian President Vladimir Putin has called on Kiev to start substantial talks on deescalating the crisis in eastern Ukraine. He added that it’s an illusion to expect that the rebels would calmly watch their homes being destroyed. “We have agreed on a plan, so its realization must be pursued,” Putin told Channel 1 TV, adding that the Ukrainian government “must immediately start substantial talks – not a technical discussion – on the political organization of society and the state in southeast Ukraine so that the interests of people who live there are protected.” The plan, according to Russia’s leader, puts negotiations at the center of the peace process.[..]
The devastated infrastructure of the southeast requires full repair otherwise people might just freeze to death, he said. “It looks as if only Russia cares about that. The first most essential condition is to stop combat operations and begin reconstruction of the infrastructure, replenish inventories, do the necessary repairs and scheduled maintenance to be ready for the cold season.” [..]
Commenting on the new batch of sanctions against Russia threatened by western countries, Putin advised his counterparts to think again about what they are advocating. “What are the so-called European values then? Support for an armed coup, suppression of opponents with armed forces – so these are ‘European values’? I believe our colleagues should be reminded of their own ideals … ”
In the meantime, the rumors and allegations don’t just continue, they get stronger. Evidence hasn’t been a factor is this game for a long time, and it is not now. Just today, I’ve seen 2 Russian ladies who say 100 Russian troops died in a battle earlier this month, Kiev claiming that Russian tanks ‘flattened’ an entire village, and Ukraine soldiers saying their comrades who were given safe passage after being trapped, were shot at.

It just never stops, or so it seems. We’ve been subject so far to a tsunami of allegations and accusations, and 99%+ of them have come with zero evidence. But now we risk being pulled into a outright war despite the lack of evidence. Really, it’s come to this: we’re asking for just one piece of evidence for all the accusations we’ve been made party to. Just the one!

Essentially, the western leadership is saying that if the ‘Donbass rebels’, and Russia, won’t let the Ukraine army do just what it wants in east Ukraine, there will be war. But it’s not our leaders who are going to be the boots on the ground. And because Obama has pledged no US military involvement in Ukraine – though CIA, Blackwater and who knows who else, are present anyway -, it will have to be European boots on the ground in Ukraine.

Perhaps prior to the official war declaration our politicians and media can tell us where the remains of the BUK rocket are that’s alleged to have downed MH17, where the contents are of the black boxes, and where the Air Traffic Control conversations with the pilots are which were allegedly confiscated by the Ukraine secret service on July 17.

It’s perhaps hard to remember due to the misinformation tsunami, but the MH17 has been a major driver of the western public’s anger vs Russia, and their acceptance of sanctions and other decisions, and now the threat of war. While it still may just as well not have been the Donbass rebels who shot that plane, but the Ukraine army, or Blackwater or the CIA. We simply don’t know.

The west says that the war in east Ukraine is caused by Russia’s support for the rebels. Just like the overriding narrative today is that the west reacts to what Russia does, while in reality it’s the other way around.

The entire Ukraine conflict could be resolved tomorrow morning if Kiev, and its western support, would pledge to stop waging war on the Donbass. And give it a separate status, either within Ukraine or in a separate state. After half a year+ of warfare, how else could you resolve this crisis? Only through more bloodshed, that’s how.

But our western leadership is simply too trigger happy for comfort. Based on only hints and allegations. There’s a NATO conference in Wales this week; Obama, Merkel, they’ll all be there. I suggest you just watch and listen what comes out of that. It won’t be pretty. Peace will not be a commonly used term there. While for all of us, and all the civilians in the Donbass, that’s all we want.

But these clowns are dragging us into war. And yes, maybe it would be a good idea for you to tell them that you don’t want them to. Before your kids, or their friends, their neighbors, start dying in some far away ugly theater they should never have been part of.

Is peace impossible in Ukraine today? No. Not at all. But it is as long as the west keeps its hopes for conquering the Donbass alive. It should have known that from the start, and perhaps it did, and started this crusade anyway, because the grand prize it’s after is Russia itself. Over our dead bodies.


Busybody Nation

SUBHEAD: Do we really have any business hassling Russia about its feckless, floundering next-door-neighbor, Ukraine?

 By James Kunstler on 1 September 2014 for -

Image above: US President Barack Obama holds a bilateral meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Ireland during G8 Enniskillen summit in Northern Ireland in June of 2014. From (

If anyone above a kindergarten pay-grade has figured out America’s vital interest in the Ukraine, it has not been reported — or even leaked from the foundering vessel that is the US State Department. 

In fact, when you consider the results, it’s hard to understand the rationale behind any recent US foreign policy endeavor. Mr. Putin of Russia summed it up last week, saying, “Anything the US touches turns to Libya or Iraq.” Vlad has a point there, and what he left off the list, of course, was Ukraine, which entered the zone of failing states a few months ago when the US lubricated the overthrow of its previously-elected government.
What complicates things is that Ukraine is right next door to Russia. For many years it was even part of the same nation as Russia. Russia has a lot of hard assets in Ukraine: pipelines, factories, port facilities. Because they were recently part of the same nation, a lot of Russian-speaking people live in the eastern part of Ukraine bordering Russia. 

The casual observer from Mars might easily discern that Russia has a range of real interests in Ukraine. Especially if the central government of Ukraine can’t control its own economic affairs.

The US claims to have interests in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, and Libya. These nations are respectively 11,925, 11,129, 10,745, and 10,072, miles away from America — not exactly neighbors of ours. 

All of them, one way or another, and partly due to our exertions, are checking into the homeless shelter of failed statedom. Afghanistan was, shall we say, a special case, since it was being used thirteen years ago explicitly as a “base” (al Qaeda) for launching attacks on US soil. 

But that was then. No other war or “war” in US history has lasted as long. And it remains unclear whether our presence there yet today is a “nation-building” project or a mere occupation, in the absence of some better idea of what to do.

President Obama has made noises about pulling US troops out of Afghanistan, but we’re still there. How is the nation-building project working out? With Mr. Osama bin Laden dead and in his watery grave, and the Islamic extremist action moved to other venues, how significant is Afghanistan’s role as a strategic base for Jihad?

How many educated, media-marinated professors in their Ivy League turrets can explain in one paragraph what the necessity of overthrowing Muammar Gaddafi was, exactly? Anyone remember? I suppose, like many actions in history, it just seemed like a good idea at the time. 

If the idea was to keep the oil and gas flowing to western nations — i.e. the “Carter Doctrine” —well, excuse me while I cough into my sleeve. Production is about one-eighth what it was before Mr. Gaddafi exited the scene. That really worked.

Then, of course, there is ISIS (or the Islamic State or the Caliphate), the most visible outcome of a decade of US foreign policy endeavors in Iraq and Syria. Good show, ladies and gentlemen! You have managed to give the world a political movement arguably more barbaric than even the Nazis. 

On Sunday, The New York Times stood back in breathless admiration for the accomplishments and skills of that organization in the headline: ISIS Displaying a Deft Command of Varied Media. Like a mad scientist in thrall to his own creation, the Times appears dazzled by the political Frankenstein monster we have loosed upon the world.

Considering all the current mayhem in the Middle East, and the potential for deadly mischief from it spreading even into the US and western Europe, do we really have any business hassling Putin and Russia about its feckless, floundering next-door-neighbor, Ukraine? 

In fact, is any other nation in a better position to prevent Ukraine from descending into full-blown failure? Why don’t we just shut up and mind our own business?