Delivering freight by schooner

SUBHEAD: Maine is about to revive a salty history of revolution and independence delivering farm goods to Boston and New York.

By Rivera Sun on 6 August 2015 for the Greenhorns -

Image above: William Garden's exact 1986 replica of a 1870 Maine cargo topsail schooner under sail in Chili. From (

In this new millennium marked by the looming threat of transnational trade deals like the Transpacific Partnership (TPP), The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), and the Trade in Services Agreement (TiSA), one unusual trade adventure, Maine Sail Freight will embark on a creative, bold journey as an act of defiance against business-as-usual.

 When Maine Sail Freight launches its maiden voyage at the end of August carrying eleven tons of local, Maine-made cargo, the Greenhorns – a plucky band of young farmers – and the sailing crew of an historic wooden schooner are declaring their independence from corporate tyranny and re-invigorating sail freight as a wind-powered transportation agent of the booming local food economy.

And, interestingly, they will carry one freight item that has a long history of revolutionary potential: salt.

Yes, salt.

Over a hundred years before Gandhi’s independence movement kicked the British Empire out of India, the American colonies were roundly beating the same empire using tools of nonviolent action – noncooperation, civil disobedience, boycotts, strikes, blockades, parallel governments, marches, rallies, and self-reliance programs. The two independence movements even shared parallel salt campaigns.

Both the American Revolution and the India Self-Rule movement used salt as a tool of resistance and liberation. Gandhi’s 1930 Salt Satyagraha campaign is famous. The 1776 New England saltworks expansion is virtually unknown.

Indeed, the well-organized, clearly identifiable nonviolent campaigns are often overshadowed by violence and war in the retelling of revolutionary era history. The research, however, testifies to the nonviolent campaigns pivotal role in the struggle.

Know your history, as the saying goes. The British certainly should have. In 1930, one hundred and fifty years after American Independence, Lord Irwin, Viceroy of India, commented on the brewing salt law resistance saying, ”

At present the prospect of a salt campaign does not keep me awake at night.” Too bad . . . if he had stayed awake, studying the history of salt, colonial governments, and independence movements, he might have lost sleep . . . but he wouldn’t have lost India.

Over a century ago, in 1776, the British Empire lost the American colonies over a famous tax on tea . . . and salt. Everyone knows the story of the Boston Tea Party – rowdy colonists, incensed by the tax on tea, dressed up as Indians and stormed Boston Harbor to dump the contents of a ship carrying import goods into the water. The colonials boycotted tea, demanding “no taxation without representation”.

Less well known is that the tax on tea also contained a tax on salt.

At the time, salt was a necessity of both household survival and for the economic functionality of the colonial fisheries, which exported salted fish. There were, however, no saltworks along the lengthy coastlines of North America. The salt used by the colonists was imported from the British Caribbean.

When the new tax laws were announced in the colonies, the colonists declared they would boycott imported goods from Britain, refusing to cooperate. Of course, they didn’t use the term “boycott”, which would not be coined until 1880, when the Irish rebelled against the land agent Charles C. Boycott.

The colonists rebelled against the tax laws, declaring independence. A crippling embargo was placed on the colonies, cutting off the supply of imported salt entirely.

In response the Continental Congress placed a “bounty” on salt to encourage the young nation to build saltworks and produce this essential resource. Cape Cod responded to the call, even inventing new elements of the salt production process.

They rejected the process of boiling out the water, as it used too many cords of wood, and instead developed a system of producing salt that used wind power to haul the seawater to the drying troughs, natural solar power to evaporate the water,

and a unique construction of rolling canvas roofs that would keep the rain out of the troughs, then pull back on sunny days to allow the light in. The production of salt increased the Americans self-reliance, lessened their dependence on the empire, and strengthened their ability to resist British oppression. These three dynamics – increasing self-reliance, lessening dependence, and strengthening the ability to resist oppression – are all elements of what Gandhi would later call “constructive program”.

Gandhi employed eighteen different constructive programs in his movement, one of which was the production of salt. The 1930 Salt Satyagraha was a powerful demonstration of the two-fold strength of nonviolent action.

In addition to the constructive dynamics, it also utilized the “obstructive” dynamics of non-cooperation and mass civil disobedience, as well as many acts of protest and persuasion including marches, rallies, picketing, letter writing, and demonstrations.

The story is simple: the British Empire held a monopoly on the production of salt in colonial India, operating the saltworks to their own profit and charging the Indians for the staple. In 1930, Gandhi decided to openly defy the salt laws, inciting thousands of Indians to make and sell salt, rendering the salt laws unenforceable through mass noncooperation. Gandhi, as always, added his usual political clarity and dramatic flair to the undertaking.

Where the Americans pragmatically made salt as a necessity of survival and a tool of self-reliance, Gandhi’s marches, public announcements, mass disobedience, and inimitable sense of humor made humble salt the downfall of British authority over India. Gandhi overtly challenged the British over salt . . . and won.

Today, contemporary struggles revolve not around colonies and crowns, but rather between citizens and trans-national corporations. The basic lessons of salt still hold true for modern times. Increase self-reliance. Lessen dependency on oppressors. Refuse cooperation with injustice. Build parallel institutions.

As Maine Sail Freight travels from Portland to Boston, reinvigorating traditional ocean trade routes, the participants are also joining the growing popular resistance to global corporate domination.

As history will attest, their success lies in the willingness of the people to non-cooperate with business-as-usual, and instead participate with the constructive actions of local, sustainable, and renewable economies. Here’s where to find out more and join the Portland to Boston adventure.

{IB Publisher's note: For more on this see (]

• Rivera Sun is the author of The Dandelion Insurrection, Billionaire Buddha, and Steam Drills, Treadmills, and Shooting Stars, the cohost of Occupy Radio, and the cofounder of the Love-In-Action Network. She tours nationally speaking and educating in nonviolent civil resistance. Her essays on social justice movements appear in Truthout and Popular Resistance.

Severine von Tscharner Fleming
SUBHEAD: She wants to borrow your boat, but it's all about farming.

By Mary Pols on 14 September 2014 for Portland Press Herald - 

Image above: Severine von Tscharner Fleming’s brainchild, Maine Sail Freight, aims to sail Maine produce and dry goods to Boston and New York and points in between. Photo by Gordon Chibroski. From original article.

Severine von Tscharner Fleming recently landed a spot (No. 23) on Food & Wine and Fortune magazines’ dual list of the most powerful women in food and drink.

The honor came about in large part because of her work with the Greenhorns, a national organization to support new farmers, but the 33-year-old resident of Essex, New York, and frequent visitor to Maine has her hands in many projects.

The latest is Maine Sail Freight, a plan to get Maine sailors and farmers to work together to ship goods down the coast to urban centers (Boston and New York, as well as points in between) in the old-fashioned way.

Von Tscharner Fleming participated in a similar project in Vermont in 2013, and now her vision is to harness the sustainability of wind power and the romance of the seas to spread the Maine brand in the prettiest possible way.

We talked to the University of California-Berkeley graduate, who majored in conservation and agro-ecology, about seaweed, the troublesome future and how to pronounce that mouthful of a name of hers (the “t” is silent).

I went to Pomona College first, where my focus was on environmental studies. I was part of the core group that started the organic farm at Pomona and became very engaged in the social logistics of making an all-volunteer-powered community farm on the campus. They actually fought us tooth and nail on that because of the liability issues.”

“That we would build fires, and we would have children visiting and homeless people coming to sleep there. That was definitely the beginning of being an activist because I said, ‘I’m going to stand up for this and fight for it.’ I learned a lot about how, when, if you want something in the real world, how you get it done. I was so frustrated by the Pomona adminstration saying no that I dropped out and spent a year farming.”

“I am a regular visitor in Maine because I am very keen on the seaweed. I have been working for the past couple of years for a couple of small seafood companies, She Sells Seaweed and Atlantic Holdfast Seaweed Company. I’m also making a film about Marada Cook and Leah Cook (of Northern Girl and Crown of Maine) and my hope is to keep coming back for the seaweed at least seasonally … And to launch this sailboat project and have an excuse to be in Maine.”

At the first Sail Freight meeting in Lincolnville in June, von Tscharner Fleming attempted to woo some crusty sailors who clearly thought her plan was sweetly idealistic and fairly nuts. In response, she was self-deprecating and funny (imagine comedian Kristen Schaal peddling a big environmentally friendly dream). “They hand me the microphone and I like to talk,” she said. And she knows how to work the media: “We are definitely new media kids,” she said. “I’ve been totally Internet since I was in sixth grade. But it is funny how the media works; a lot of people have learned about our work because their grandmother reads the newspaper or listens to NPR.”

To announce the Maine Sail Freight Project at the Common Ground Fair later this week. The group will put together a jury of judges and will solicit ideas on business models, available vessels and stops. (The Vermont Sail Project traveled Lake Champlain and the Hudson River all the way to Brooklyn and broke even, emboldening a second sail.) Von Tscharner Fleming aims to set up a Maine Sail Summit to consider five winning proposals picked by the jury. “Any number of millionaires could probably get a boat to go from Point A to Point B,” she said. “Our goal is to involve young people in creating a possible future that straddles the present and the future.”

“Obviously to compete with a truck you have to do a certain amount of agro-tourism or value-added product or farm-to-table events along the way,” she said. Meaning making pit stops to run pop-up farmers markets, which is how the Vermont project worked. “We’d be reviving the working sail and developing the connection between the boat people and the land people.”

“We’ve been looking at rivers as well. The Kennebec is a really powerful conduit,” she said. “One thing I’m pursuing is whether we can find an investor or donor supporter who will say, ‘If you can get your boat to Boston, we’ll buy your $20,000 worth of produce.’ ”

No, she says, this is not meant to get everyone ready for a “Hunger Games” future. “It’s not dystopian,” she said. “It’s optimistic … it’s an educational process. It’s value-added. You are delivering the food without using carbon.”

UNLESS YOU HAVE TO MOTOR: “Frankly whether or not it is sail-powered, I feel like using the waterways makes more sense in terms of liberating the roads from all the traffic.”

“It’s all about building a new economy inside the old economy,” she said. “It all seems hard but what we are doing now is clearly not working.” Citing corporate control of our food system, the international hunger crisis, our national obesity problem and the impact of climate change on land, she said, “It’s obviously impossible for us to sustain this food system. As a young person, trying to fit your life into that problematic context can be demoralizing. … These are the narratives that confound us as young people and diminish our power. Especially young people with 1.2 trillion dollars of college debt and this weird tendency to cluster in, you know, Brooklyn. But the time is now and bravery is needed.”

See also:
Culture Change: Tres Hombres Ship is Homeward Bound 4/21/15
The world’s foremost cargo sailing ship, the beautiful square-rigged Tres Hombres, is now sailing back to Europe from the Dominican Republic. 
Ea O Ka Aina: Larry Ellison - Oracle/Sailer 6/21/12
Island Breath: Sail Transport Network 1/21/08
Island Breath: Rethinking the sail 12/25/07.

New Zealand dropping coal by 2018

SUBHEAD: To reach 90% renewable energy by 2025 New Zealand will drop coal by 2018.

By Andrea Germanos on 7 August 2015 for Common Dreams -

Image above: The coal fired Huntly Power Station in New Zealand.  Photo by  Phil Norton/flickr/cc. From original article.

In a move celebrated as good news for the climate, New Zealand is on track to end coal-fired power.

Genesis Energy announced Thursday that it will shut down its last two coal-burning electricity generators, which operate at the Huntly Power Station, by December 2018.

Company Chairman Jenny Shipley said the move was in part because of the falling price of renewables, and that it would help bring the nation closer to its target of having renewable energy power 90 percent of its electricity. by 2025.

In 2014, renewables generated nearly 80 percent of the nation's electricity.

Energy and Resources Minister Simon Bridges said the "closure marks the end of coal-fired power generation in New Zealand."

Greenpeace welcomed the news but pointed out that it was a business, not Prime Minister John Key, making the climate-wise move.

"The announcement by Genesis Energy is another good piece of news for anyone wanting their kids to have a future without runaway climate change," stated Greenpeace New Zealand Campaigner Simon Boxer.

"But it’s something that our government should be leading on," his statement continued. "It’s just another example of John Key and his cronies dropping the ball for New Zealanders. They don’t have their finger on the pulse of the global move away from fossil fuels."

In a blog post at Greenpeace Nathan Argent, Policy Advisor for Greenpeace NZ, stresses this point as well, writing that the coal plant shutdown "will leave John Key’s pollution obsessed government with soot on their face."

Key, Argent charges, "has repeatedly failed to provide backing to our clean energy workforce, ignoring the massive job creation and economic boost that this would bring.

"In the same way that our distant ancestors stopped using stone to cut cloth, clean energy will replace polluting power like coal. The question is whether the Key government can evolve fast enough to be part of this new, clean energy age. All the evidence suggests they’re not," he writes.

[IB Publisher's note: Let's hope KIUC can be weened off fossil fuels here on Kauai in the same time frame.]


Nuclear is not alternative energy

SUBHEAD: Obama's final Clean Power Plan drops support for existing nuclear plants.

By Jeff McMahhon on 3 August 2015 for Forbes -

Image above: The aging Indian Point Nuclear Power Plant on the banks of the Hudson River upstream from NYC. Photo by Don Emmert for AFP/Getty Images. From original article.

The final version of President Obama’s Clean Power Plan does not include aid to existing nuclear power plants at risk of closing because they can’t compete with cheaper natural gas and renewables—a list that includes some of the nation’s most controversial reactors, including Indian Point and Three Mile Island.

In the draft version, EPA had proposed allowing states to count 6 percent of existing nuclear generation toward their clean energy goals, a provision designed to rescue the 6 percent of nuclear capacity considered at risk.

“On further consideration, we believe it is inappropriate to base the BSER (Best System of Emission Reduction) on elements that will not reduce CO2 emissions from affected electric generating units below current levels,” EPA states in the final rule.

“Existing nuclear generation helps make existing CO2 emissions lower than they would otherwise be, but will not further lower CO2 emissions below current levels. Accordingly… the EPA is not finalizing preservation of generation from existing nuclear capacity as a component of the BSER.”

Accordingly,  states will not be able to meet their clean energy goals by extending the licenses of existing nuclear plants.

The revised rule does have some good news for nuclear utilities:
Older nuclear plants can only help states meet their goals though uprates that would have to be approved by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission during license extensions.
Quite a few at-risk reactors are operated by Exelon Corp, owner of the nation’s largest nuclear fleet, which has been lobbying for renewed government support. When I contacted him this afternoon, Exelon spokesman Paul Elsberg said the company had not had sufficient time to review the final version of the Clean Power Plan to comment:
“It’s obviously something Exelon is examining closely Exelon has long supported efforts to reduce carbon and other dangerous air emissions from the power sector while maintaining reliable and affordable energy for our customers. We are evaluating EPA’s final rule and look forward to continuing to engage with EPA, states and all stakeholders on the most cost effective means to achieve targeted greenhouse gas reductions.”
Entergy, owner of the Indian Point Energy Center near New York City and two other reactors considered at risk said this:
“The U.S. EPA’s final Clean Power Plan is complex, and it will take time for Entergy to conduct its full analysis,” Entergy said in a prepared statement sent by spokeswoman Kay Jones. The statement says Entergy continues to be concerned about he legality of EPA’s approach, and it’s analysis will include ”the impact on the nation’s existing nuclear fleet, which in 2014 comprised nearly 61 percent of U.S. emissions-free generation.”
In 2013, Morningstar identified six nuclear plants that could be next to shut down because of economic conditions:
  1. Indian Point, NY, owned by Entergy
  2. Ginna, NY, Exelon
  3. Fitzpatrick, NY, Entergy
  4. Three Mile Island, PA, Exelon
  5. Davis Beese, OH, FirstEnergy
  6. Pilgrim, MA, Entergy
Exelon has also identified its Byron, Quad Cities, and Clinton plants in Illinois as at risk and has campaigned against tax credits for wind energy.

The nuclear industry had campaigned for stronger support for nuclear power in the Clean Power Plan.

American Nuclear Society President Brady Raap argued that the draft rule ”almost completely discounts the clean energy contributions of current nuclear energy facilities, while penalizing states that have new plants under construction.”

ANS took it as a good sign when EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy said EPA would reconsider the rule’s treatment of nuclear.

Nuclear Wasteland

SUBHEAD: Today is the 70th anniversary of the USA dropping an atomic bomb on Hiroshima Japan.

By Juan Wilson on 6 August 2015 for Island Breath -
Image above: This is a still frame from a film of the atomic detonation known as Grable. This event was the result of the first and only firing of the Atomic Cannon at the Nevada Test Site in 1953. From (

Today is the 70th anniversary of the bombing of Hiroshima Japan with an atomic bomb by the United States. As you know, three days later we dropped a similar bomb on Nagasaki. The Japanese, thinking we might create similar devastation on other cities every few days were forced into an unconditional surrender.

Of course, it wasn't just the atomic bombs that ended the Second World War. The Japanese military was punched out by mid 1945 and we had control of the skies over their cities.

America had learned in Europe that massive bombings in places like Dresden could create "firestorms" that burned out entire cities as heat fueled winds blew flaming debris across entire neighborhoods.

Oo March 9, 1945 the US Air Force bombing of Tokyo with conventional explosives and incendiaries, in an attempt to create a firestorm, killed more people than the atomic bomb we detonated on Hiroshima.  But the A-bombs had more drama and stole the show!

Not only that, but the nuclear fission provided something more - death by nuclear radiation - in the forms of sterilization, cancers and nonviable mutations.

I am worried about the nuclear weapons proliferation in the world. Many people are. It was demonstrated in 1983 that detonating even a small fraction of our nuclear weapons in the atmosphere will create what a team that included Carl Sagan called a "Nuclear Winter" blotting out the sun in a radioactive haze of dust long enough to destroy human agriculture and poison the planet.

Since then Russia (USSR) and America (USA) have backed down from the kind of nuclear brinksmanship that marked preceding decades. We even reduced the number of weapons. Thanks for bringing this to our attention and saving our generation for self extinction through Mutually Assured Destruction or MAD .

The Secret Ingredient
However I'm more worried about nuclear energy despite what my mentors;  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; have to say about using atomic energy to keep civilization going. I'd rather go Paleo in the hunter-gatherer sense.

Nuclear power stations are designed to "burn" uranium. The byproducts of that burn are the creation heavier transuranic elements, including plutonium. Worldwide, some 140,000 pounds of plutonium that is contained in used fuel is removed when refueling nuclear reactors each year (see

Keep in mind that the bomb that detonated 70 years ago over Hiroshima contained only six pounds of plutonium. The nuclear industry is required to store hundred of thousands of pounds of plutonium and
other highly radioactive materials in spent fuel ponds in their plants virtually forever. Why? Because there is no place to take them.

In the United States the siting of a safe place to put nuclear waste has been a comedy of errors as well as an ongoing tragedy. The only site that has been operational in recent years has been the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) near Carlsbad, New Mexico. It was a salt mine that was converted to a nuclear waste storage facility.

 Organic Kitty Litter
On Valentine's day in 2014 a 55 gallon barrels of nuclear waste material, including plutonium, burst into flames and contaminated much of the underground facility. It also blew an undisclosed amount of plutonium particles through its ventilation system into the air across parts of New Mexico, Texas and Oklahoma. The plant was shutdown and remains shut down.

Ironically, it was waste from the Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) in Alimigordo, New Mexico that packed the barrels with nuclear waste and sent them off to WIPP. At least 57 barrels with nuclear waste were packed with the wrong kind of kitty litter - organic instead of the regular. 
Los Alamos National Laboratory packed 57 barrels of nuclear waste with a type of kitty litter believed to have caused a radiation leak at the federal government's troubled nuclear waste dump, posing a potentially "imminent" and "substantial" threat to public health and the environment, New Mexico officials said Monday,  See 5/20/14 (
 A yearlong investigation by the US Department of Energy has confirmed that a major accident at a nuclear waste storage facility was caused by the wrong type of kitty litter. Last year, a single 55-gallon drum of waste material was found to have burst its seams at the New Mexico Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP), dispersing radioactive material throughout the underground facility. The drum had been packed with organic rather than inorganic kitty litter, which led to "a series of ever-increasing heat releasing reactions" that breached the drum. See 3/27/15 ( 
You'd think LANL would know better - they invented nuclear fission with the Manhattan Project that created the Hiroshima bomb in the first place. Anyway, there is now no place in the United States approved and prepared to take the radioactive waste of American nuclear power plants. No one in their right mind would volunteer to locate such a facility nearby.

Note the Yucca Flats high level nuclear waste facility projects, which had been fought for years by locals and enviromentalists, lost it funding just a month after the Fukushima Daiichi tragedy began.

Rot in Place
Without a place to take radiation waste from nuclear power plants the United States has defaulted to keeping nuclear waste inside the plants themselves. This means leaving the "spent", yet radioactive, fuel rods in pools of cooling water inside the containment buildings that house the nuclear reactors or in  Fuel Buildings. The Fuel Building were designed for:
The half life of Plutonium 239 is over 24,000 years - that's longer than all human civilization. The half life of Uranium 238 is 4.5 billion years. It's not likely humans will ever see even a half reduction of the 238 isotope.

Fuel Buildings and Spent Fuel Pools were not designed for the permanent storage of nuclear waste. In fact, the American nuclear power plant fleet on line today was designed to be operational for only 40 years. It is likely our dependence atomic energy will force us to extend these old plants past use past their design criteria. The nasty fact is that the radiation bombardment by high charged heavy particles breaks down gaskets, concrete, reinforcing bars and even the stainless steel that make up nuclear power plant.

The point is that the buildings we will depend on to keep nuclear waste in place will not outlast their poisonous content. Case in point - Indian Point Nuclear Power Plant on the Hudson River went online in 1976 and was one of the last nuclear facilities put on line because of disaster at nearby Three Mile Island accident in 1979.

Note that Indian Point is on the Hudson River 40 miles upstream from New York City, a tri-state metropolitan area with 20 million people.

One Lesson Learned
WikiPedia writes (
The Three Mile Island accident inspired Charles Perrow's Normal Accident Theory, in which an accident occurs, resulting from an unanticipated interaction of multiple failures in a complex system. TMI was an example of this type of accident because it was "unexpected, incomprehensible, uncontrollable and unavoidable".
Perrow concluded that the failure at Three Mile Island was a consequence of the system's immense complexity. Such modern high-risk systems, he realized, were prone to failures however well they were managed. It was inevitable that they would eventually suffer what he termed a 'normal accident'. Therefore, he suggested, we might do better to contemplate a radical redesign, or if that was not possible, to abandon such technology entirely.
"Normal" accidents, or system accidents, are so-called by Perrow because such accidents are inevitable in extremely complex systems. Given the characteristic of the system involved, multiple failures which interact with each other will occur, despite efforts to avoid them. Such events appear trivial to begin with before unpredictably cascading through the system to create a large event with severe consequences.

Genie in the Bottle
 The ongoing Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant disaster is a key example of a situation out of our control with no end in site. It is amazing to me that the Japanese government has not forsaken relying on its fifty-four nuclear plants that were temporarily shutdown after Fukushima.

Japan should be asking for all the help the world could offer to contain a mess that is destroying their nation and the Pacific Ocean. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe still plans to reopen the idle plants as soon as possible to keep their industries churning.
Before the world's ability to manage the 20th century infrastructure we inherited is gone we need to get our priorities in order. In my opinion, at the top of the list would be to safely back away from nuclear power.

That means building no new nuclear power generating plants. It means shutting down the existing aging plants as well. It will mean determining the safest way of storing the nuclear waste we have already produced whether in situ or a new designated location.

There is little time to waste. We live in a time of exhausted resources and a strained environment. This is leading us to a long term financial contraction that will include economic deflation and depression. Even our ability to keep aviation, rail and the US Interstate Highway systema operational may be challenged... and interstate trucking will be vital to maintenance of safe storage of nuclear waste.

If we fail in this effort and slide into an agrarian post-industrial lifestyle we will have to live with great swatches of uninhabitable landscape filled invisible, tasteless poisons that offer no warning or explanation.

Don't let that genie out of the bottle.


Suicide of the American Left

SUBHEAD: American culture has lost the ability to imagine any future that isn’t simply an endless rehash of the present.

By John Michael Greer on 5 August 2015 for the Arch Druid Report -

Image above: Caricature of Hillary Clintion with 2016 playbook in hand. By DonKeyhoty. From (

Regular readers of this blog know that I generally avoid partisan politics in the essays posted here. There are several reasons for that unpopular habit, but the most important of them is that we don’t actually have partisan politics in today’s America, except in a purely nominal sense. It’s true that politicians by and large group themselves into one of two parties, which make a great show of their rivalry on a narrow range of issues.

Get past the handful of culture-war hot buttons that give them their favorite opportunities for grandstanding, though, and you’ll find an ironclad consensus, especially on those issues that have the most to say about the future of the United States and the world.

It’s popular on the disaffected fringes of both parties to insist that the consensus in question comes solely from the other side; dissident Democrats claim that Democratic politicians have basically adopted the GOP platform, while disgruntled Republicans claim that their politicians have capitulated to the Democratic agenda. Neither of these claims, as it happens, are true.

Back when the two parties still stood for something, for example, Democrats in Congress could be counted on to back organized labor and family farmers against their corporate adversaries and to fight attempts on the part of bankers to get back into the speculation business, while their opposite numbers in the GOP were ferocious in their opposition to military adventurism overseas and government expansion at home.

Nowadays? The Democrats long ago threw their former core constituencies under the bus and ditched the Depression-era legislation that stopped kleptocratic bankers from running the economy into the ground, while the Republicans decided that they’d never met a foreign entanglement or a government handout they didn’t like—unless, of course, the latter benefited the poor.

An ever more intrusive and metastatic bureaucratic state funneling trillions to corrupt corporate interests, an economic policy made up primarily of dishonest statistics and money-printing operations, and a monomaniacally interventionist foreign policy.

That’s the bipartisan political consensus in Washington DC these days, and it’s a consensus that not all that long ago would have been rejected with volcanic fury by both parties if anyone had been so foolish as to suggest it.

The gap between the current Washington consensus and the former ideals of the nation’s political parties, not to mention the wishes of the people on whose sovereign will the whole system is supposed to depend, has attracted an increasing amount of attention in recent years. That’s driven quite a bit of debate, and no shortage of fingerpointing, about the origins and purposes of the policies that are welded into place in US politics these days.

On the left, the most popular candidates just now for the position of villainous influence behind it all mostly come from the banking industry; on the right, the field is somewhat more diverse; and there’s no shortage of options from further afield.

Though I know it won’t satisfy those with a taste for conspiracy theory, I’d like to suggest a simpler explanation. The political consensus in Washington DC these days can best be characterized as an increasingly frantic attempt, using increasingly risky means, to maintain business as usual for the political class at a time when “business as usual” in any sense of that phrase is long past its pull date.

This, in turn, is largely the product of the increasingly bleak corner into which past policies have backed this country, but it’s also in part the result of a massively important but mostly unrecognized turn of events: by and large, neither the contemporary US political class nor anyone else with a significant presence in American public life seems to be able to imagine a future that differs in any meaningful way from what we’ve got right now.

I’d like to take a moment here to look at that last point from a different angle, with the assistance of that tawdry quadrennial three-ring circus now under way, which will sooner or later select the next inmate for the White House. For anyone who enjoys the spectacle of florid political dysfunction, the 2016 presidential race promises to be the last word in target-rich environments.

The Republican party in particular has flung itself with creditable enthusiasm into the task of taking my circus metaphor as literally as possible—what, after all, does the GOP resemble just at the moment, if not one of those little cars that roll out under the big top and fling open the doors, so that one clown after another can come tumbling out into the limelight?

They’ve already graced the electoral big top with a first-rate collection of clowns, too. There’s Donald Trump, whose campaign is shaping up to be the loudest invocation of pure uninhibited f├╝hrerprinzip since, oh, 1933 or so; there’s Scott Walker, whose attitudes toward working Americans suggest that he’d be quite happy to sign legislation legalizing slavery if his rich friends asked him for it; there’s—well, here again, “target-rich environment” is the phrase that comes forcefully to mind.

The only people who have to be sweating just now, other than ordinary Americans trying to imagine any of the current round of GOP candidates as the titular leader of their country, are gag writers for satiric periodicals such as The Onion, who have to go to work each day and face the brutally unforgiving task of coming up with something more absurd than the press releases and public statements of the candidates in question.

Still, I’m going to leave those tempting possibilities alone for the moment, and focus on a much more dreary figure, since she and her campaign offer a useful glimpse at the yawning void beneath what’s left of the American political system.

Yes, that would be Hillary Clinton, the officially anointed frontrunner for the Democratic nomination. It’s pretty much a foregone conclusion that she’ll lose this campaign the way she lost the 2008 race, and for the same reason: neither she nor her handlers seem to have noticed that she’s got to offer the American people some reason to want to vote for her.

In a way, Clinton is the most honest of the current crop of presidential candidates, though this is less a matter of personal integrity than of sheer inattention. I frankly doubt that the other candidates have a single noble motive for seeking office among them, but they have at least realized that they have to go through the motions of having convictions and pursuing policies they think are right.

Clinton and her advisers apparently didn’t get that memo, and as a result, she’s not even going through the motions. Her campaign basically consists of posing for the cameras, dodging substantive questions, uttering an assortment of vague sound bites to encourage the rich friends who are backing her, and making plans for her inauguration, as though there wasn’t an election to get through first.

Still, there’s more going on here than the sheer incompetence of a campaign that hasn’t yet noticed that a sense of entitlement isn’t a qualification for office. The deeper issue that will doom the Clinton candidacy can be phrased as a simple question: does anyone actually believe for a moment that electing Hillary Clinton president will change anything that matters?

Those other candidates who are getting less tepid responses from the voters than Clinton are doing so precisely because a significant number of voters think that electing one of them will actually change something.

The voters in question are wrong, of course. Barack Obama is the wave of the future here as elsewhere; after his monumentally cynical 2008 campaign, which swept him into office on a torrent of vacuous sound bites about hope and change, he proceeded to carry out exactly the same domestic and foreign policies we’d have gotten had George W. Bush served two more terms.

Equally, whoever wins the 2016 election will keep those same policies in place, because those are the policies that have the unanimous support of the political class; it’s just that everybody but Clinton will do their level best to pretend that they’re going to do something else, as Obama did, until the day after the election.

Those policies will be kept in place, in turn, because any other choice would risk pulling the plug on a failing system. I’m not at all sure how many people outside the US have any idea just how frail and brittle the world’s so-called sole hyperpower is just at this moment.

To borrow a point made trenchantly some years back by my fellow blogger Dmitry Orlov, the US resembles nothing so much as the Soviet Union in the years just before the Berlin Wall came down: a grandiose international presence, backed by a baroque military arsenal and an increasingly shrill triumphalist ideology, perched uneasily atop a hollow shell of a society that has long since tipped over the brink into economic and cultural freefall.

Neither Hillary Clinton nor any of the other candidates in the running for the 2016 election will change anything that matters, in turn, because any change that isn’t strictly cosmetic risks bringing the entire tumbledown, jerry-rigged structure of American political and economic power crashing down around everyone’s ears.

That’s why, to switch examples, Barack Obama a few days ago brought out with maximum fanfare a new energy policy that consists of doing pretty much what his administration has been doing for the last six years already, as though doing what you’ve always done and expecting a different result wasn’t a good functional definition of insanity.

Any other approach to energy and climate change, or any of a hundred other issues, risks triggering a crisis that the United States can’t survive in its current form—and the fact that such a crisis is going to happen sooner or later anyway just adds spice to the bubbling pot.

The one thing that can reliably bring a nation through a time of troubles of the sort we’re facing is a vision of a different future, one that appeals to enough people to inspire them to unite their energies with those of the nation’s official leadership, and put up with the difficulties of the transition.

That’s what got the United States through its three previous existential crises: the Revolutionary War, the Civil War, and the Great Depression. In each case, when an insupportable status quo finally shattered, enough of the nation united around a charismatic leader, and a vision of a future that was different from the present, to pull some semblance of a national community through the chaos.

We don’t have such a vision in American politics now. To an astonishing degree, in fact, American culture has lost the ability to imagine any future that isn’t simply an endless rehash of the present—other, that is, than the perennially popular fantasy of apocalyptic annihilation, with or without the salvation of a privileged minority via Rapture,

Singularity, or what have you. That’s a remarkable change for a society that not so long ago was brimming with visionary tomorrows that differed radically from the existing order of things. It’s especially remarkable in that the leftward end of the American political spectrum, the end that’s nominally tasked with the job of coming up with new visions, has spent the last forty years at the forefront of the flight from alternative futures.

I’m thinking here, as one example out of many, of an event I attended a while back, put together by one of the longtime names of the American left, and featuring an all-star cast of equally big names in what passes for environmentalism and political radicalism these days.

With very few exceptions, every one of the speakers put their time on the podium into vivid descriptions of the villainy of the designated villains and all the villainous things they were going to do unless they were stopped. It was pretty grueling; at the end of the first full day, going up the stairs to the street level, I watched as a woman turned to a friend and said, “Well, that just about makes me want to go out and throw myself off a bridge”—and neither the friend nor anybody else argued.

Let’s take a closer look, though, at the strategy behind the event. Was there, at this event, any real discussion of how to stop the villains in question, other than a rehash of proposals that have failed over and over again for the last four decades? Not that I heard.

Did anyone offer some prospect other than maintaining the status quo endlessly against the attempts of the designated villains to make things worse? Not only was there nothing of the kind, I heard backchannel from more than one participant that the organizer had a long history of discouraging anybody at his events from offering the least shred of that sort of hope.

Dismal as it was, the event was worth attending, as it conducted an exact if unintentional autopsy of the corpse of the American left, and made the cause of death almost impossible to ignore.

At the dawn of the Reagan era, to be specific, most of the movements in this country that used to push for specific goals on the leftward end of things stopped doing so, and redefined themselves in wholly reactive and negative terms: instead of trying to enact their own policies, they refocused entirely on trying to stop the enactment of opposing policies by the other side.

By and large, they’re still at it, even though the results have amounted to four decades of nearly unbroken failure, and the few successes—such as the legalization of same-sex marriage—were won by pressure groups unconnected to, and usually unsupported by, the professional activists of the official left.

There are at least two reasons why a strategy of pure reaction, without any coherent attempt to advance an agenda of its own or even a clear idea of what that agenda might be, has been a fruitful source of humiliation and defeat for the American left.

The first is that this approach violates one of the most basic rules of strategy: you win when you seize the initiative and force the other side to respond to your actions, and you lose by passively responding to whatever the other side comes up with. In any contest, without exception, if you surrender the initiative and let the other side set the terms of the conflict, you’re begging to be beaten, and will normally get your wish in short order.

That in itself is bad enough. A movement that defines itself in purely negative terms, though, and attempts solely to prevent someone else’s agenda from being enacted rather than pursuing a concrete agenda of its own, suffers from another massive problem: the best such a movement can hope for is a continuation of the status quo, because the only choice it offers is the one between business as usual and something worse.

That’s fine if most people are satisfied with the way things are, and are willing to fling themselves into the struggle for the sake of a set of political, economic, and social arrangements that they consider worth fighting for.

I’m not sure why so many people on the leftward end of American politics haven’t noticed that this is not the case today. One hypothesis that comes to mind is that by and large, the leftward end of the American political landscape is dominated by middle class and upper middle class white people from the comparatively prosperous coastal states.

Many of them belong to the upper 20% by income of the American population, and the rest aren’t far below that threshold.

The grand bargain of the Reagan years, by which the middle classes bought a guarantee of their wealth and privilege by letting their former allies in the working classes get thrown under the bus, has profited them hugely, and holding onto what they gained by that maneuver doubtless ranks high on their unstated list of motives—much higher, certainly, than pushing for a different future that might put their privileges in jeopardy.

The other major power bloc that supports the American left these days offers an interesting lesson in the power of positive goals. That bloc is made up of certain relatively disadvantaged ethnic groups, above all the African-American community.

The Democratic party has been able to hold the loyalty of most African-Americans through decades of equivocation, meaningless gestures, and outright betrayal, precisely because it can offer them a specific vision of a better future: that is, a future in which Americans of African ancestry get treated just like white folk.

No doubt it’ll sink in one of these days that the Democratic party has zero interest in actually seeing that future arrive—if that happened, after all, it would lose one of the most reliable of its captive constituencies—but until that day arrives, the loyalty of the African-American community to a party that offers them precious little but promises is a testimony to the power of a positive vision for the future.

That’s something that the Democratic party doesn’t seem to be able to offer anyone else in America, though. Even on paper, what have the last half dozen or so Democratic candidates for president offered? Setting aside crassly manipulative sound bites of the “hope and change” variety, it’s all been attempts to keep things going the way they’ve been going, bracketed with lurid threats about the GOP’s evil plans to make things so much worse.

That’s why, for example, the Democratic party has been eager to leap on climate change as a campaign issue, even though their performance in office on that issue is indistinguishable from that of the Republicans they claim to oppose: it’s easy to frame climate change as a conflict between keeping things the way they are and making them much worse, and that’s basically the only tune the American left knows how to play these days.

The difficulty, of course, is that after forty years of repeated and humiliating failure, the Democrats and the other leftward movements in American political life are caught in a brutal vise of their own making. On the one hand, very few people actually believe any more that the left is capable of preventing things from getting worse.

There’s good reason for that lack of faith, since a great many things have been getting steadily worse for the majority of Americans since the 1970s, and the assorted technological trinkets and distractions that have become available since then don’t do much to make up for the absence of stable jobs with decent wages, functioning infrastructure, affordable health care, and all the other amenities that have gone gurgling down the nation’s drain since then.

Yet there’s another factor, of course, as hinted above. If the best you can offer the voters is a choice between what they have now and something worse, and what they have now is already pretty wretched, you’re not likely to get much traction.

That’s the deeper issue behind the unenthusiastic popular response to Hillary Clinton’s antics, and I’d like to suggest it’s also what’s behind Donald Trump’s success in the polls—no matter how awful a president he’d be, the logic seems to run, at least he’d be different.

When a nation reaches that degree of impatience with a status quo no one with access to power is willing to consider changing, an explosion is not far away.


Haena Subsistence Fishing

SUBHEAD: Hawaii Governor Ige signs bill supporting Haena Community-Based Subsistence Fishing Area.

By Leo Azambuja on 5 August 2015 for ForKauai -
Image above: Aerial photo of Haena Point and its coral reef formation is an especially rich aquatic environment. Click to embiggen. From (

Gov. David Ige has signed into law the Community-Based Subsistence Fishing Area for Haena, Kauai. The state of Hawaii’s first CBSFA was filed Tuesday, according to the state Department of Land and Natural Resources.

The result of years of discussions and collaboration between the Haena community and various stakeholders, this historic rules package gives the Ha‘ena hui an opportunity to protect its ocean resources, based on traditional fisheries management practices.

“The Haena CBSFA is an outstanding example of self-determination and governance for a local community, which wants to not only preserve but enhance its local fishery for sustainability,” Ige said in a DLNR press release. “I personally want to thank everyone involved for their patience and kokua in bringing this long process to a great conclusion.”

The rules for the Haena CBSFA were approved by the state Board of Land and Natural Resources last October. DLNR will hold a public hearing on the Ha‘ena CBSFA Management Plan at a later date.

“Community based management of this nature isn’t only the past, but is now the future,” DLNR Chair Suzanne Case said. “This CBSFA reflects the hard work and commitment of the greater Haena community and provides a great example of how other communities and the state can collaborate to manage precious natural resources.”

The Ha‘ena CBSFA is the result of more than a decade of work, overwhelming support from the local community and strong recognition that government cannot do it alone and community-based management and buy-in is critical to sustaining natural resources now and for future generations.

Thomas Hashimoto, a respected master in fishing and agriculture practices was born and raised in Ha‘ena. He is also a founding member of Hui Makaainana o Makana, a nonprofit formed in 1999, which advocated for the creation of the Ha‘ena CBSFA.

“The land and the ocean are life for the people. In Haena, from my great-grandparents time, we were taught to malama Haena, its lands, and especially its ocean areas,” Hashimoto said. “I have been honored and humbled to share knowledge I received from my kupuna from past generations with all who live in Ha‘ena, so these same places that I have fished and gathered my whole life will continue to be here for my great-grandchildren and all future generations.”


From Here on Down

SUBHEAD: Keep your head down, your nose clean and your hands busy! Get used to it and thrive!

By Juan Wilson on 4 August 2015 for Island Breath -

Image above: View of dangerous cliff face trail on Mount Huashan in China. From (

If you have been watching this website for any length of time you know how we feel about "collapse". It's here, ongoing and accelerating.

There have been several recent newsworthy stories that underline this process and how our continued obliviousness to the situation exacerbates the problems we will face when the decay and disintegration of the regime reach us full-on.

Below are seven examples of what I am calling "smoke signals" that were found in articles I've read in the last day or two. They are about economic collapse and climate change.

Frankly, I do not understand how "main stream media", corporate "flaks" and government "spokespeople" can keep a lid on a revolt from those left below decks in steerage as the bulkheads of this "civilization" fail. I guess it's because "the band plays on" in the form of cable TV, internet access and great cellular reception.

Many Americans won't notice that the music has stopped until Spotify goes silent or there is no Social Security/Unemployment/Pension Fund/or Pell Grant deposit in their checking account.

Smoke Signals

China and the New World Disorder enter very powerful deflationary depression
Deflation and depression are mutually reinforcing, meaning the downward spiral will continue for many years. We have been warning about this dynamic since 2008, and have already seen the liquidity crunch start to play out in many parts of the world. Once it hits critical mass, and it can do so very quickly, momentum will increase greatly.  (

Greek Stocks, Economy Collapse, Suffer Worst Declines In History
As we noted last week, there may be no modern economy left in Greece by the time this is all over as many Greeks have already reverted to the barter system in an effort to grease the wheels of commerce and skirt the frozen banking system. (

Puerto Rico in Economic Death Spiral just Defaulted for the First Time
The default is a historic moment in Puerto Rico's economic "death spiral," a term the island's governor, Alejandro Garcia Padilla, has used. The island is struggling with about $70 billion in total outstanding debt, and its economy is in recession. (

Earth’s Most Famous Climate Scientist Issues Bombshell Sea Level Warning
The study—written by James Hansen, NASA’s former lead climate scientist, and 16 co-authors, many of whom are considered among the top in their fields—concludes that glaciers in Greenland and Antarctica will melt 10 times faster than previous consensus estimates, resulting in sea level rise of at least 10 feet in as little as 50 years. (

Bombshell Study Reveals Methane Emissions Hugely Underestimated
The study throws into question countless other estimates of methane emissions from natural gas production through hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, which has been hailed as a low-emission energy solution. (

Global Glaciers Melting up to Three Times Rate of 20th Century
"The observed glaciers currently lose between half a meter and one meter of its ice thickness every year—this is two to three times more than the corresponding average of the 20th century," explained Michael Zemp, lead author of the study and director of the World Glacier Monitoring Service, in a press statement about the report. (

Appropriate Responses
Okay, okay - you too smell the smoke and you have been getting yourself ready for a New Word Order for some time. Well now is the time to expect some acceleration of events. As we go into this autumn there is likely to be a "discontinuity" of some sort: A misstep in the Ukraine or Syria; a mistake in the South China Sea or North Korea - something not all together unexpected but a surprise anyway. This event could also be expressed in terrorism on US soil, urban riots or even turning on immigrants.

My advise is don't be fooled. Don't get your undies in a bunch just because Fox News goes ballistic, or you're asked to show solidarity. The system will be playing the public like a violin. They did it for 911 and we danced to the tune. The corn-pone Nazis will be out of the closet and seeking your support. Donald Trump is one and reminds me of Benito Mussolini - the man who lead the Italians into Fascism. Like Benito, the Donald is only the Clown Prince until the real villains take over.

Moreover, playing with the "liberals" like Hillary Clinton or "socialists" like Bernie Sanders is likely to be unproductive if they are seeking to reestablish the "Good Old Days" - when every head of household expected good job with decent wages and a pension. It was never quite that way and it will never be remotely like that again. In the future social justice is going to be all together different than what we expect.

In the new social order we will all be Greeks, and Syrians, and Nigerians. We will all be Mexicans and blacks and immigrants and nomads.

Keep your head down, your nose clean and your hands busy! Get used to it and thrive!

Barking dogs and Ross Kagawa

SUBHEAD: There are two important measures on the Kauai County Council agenda this Wednesday.

By Andy Parx on 2 August 2015 for Parx News Daily -

Image above: Incessantly barking dogs can be trained. From (

Testify against - 

Repeal of Incessant Barking Dog Law
Repeal of Kauai Term Limits for Councilmembers
(IB Publisher's comment: the two might be pretty much the same)

Before Wednesday August 5th at 9:00am

email before meeting
or attend Council Meeting and testify
at Historic County Building in Lihue

There are two important measures on the Kauai County Council agenda this Wednesday. One bill, up for final approval, would repeal in its entirety the "incessantly barking dogs" ordinance passed last year after decades of debate. Even though every councilmember agreed that what if anything it really needs is amending, it appears fated for repeal.

The other is a resolution, up for a final vote, that would ask voters if they want to repeal the Kauai County Charter provision for term limits for councilmembers, which passed in a landslide in 2006.

Both are the brain-children of Councilmember Ross Kagawa and during the hours of council and public debate he dominated the discussions of incessant barks, making viewing as painful as any incising bites.

The law is apparently working well despite what can only be described as Ross' always torturous and sometimes tortuous attempts to misrepresent both the facts and the underlying issue.

According to testimony, including that of the Kauai Police Department (KPD), the Prosecuting Attorney (PA) and the Kaua`i Humane Society (KHS)- the latter of which handles the complaints- of 76 original cases filed with KHS since the law was passed last year all but eight have been resolved. almost all by getting dog owners to stop the barking. They all agreed that this has been because the law established "consequences" if owners of incessantly barking dogs do not make use of educational materials provided by the KHS.

None of the cases were linked to any abuse of the dogs, according to KHS.

Although Kagawa repeatedly tried to establish that "100%" of the cases that were adjudicated were found "not guilty." first off that number was exactly TWO- count 'em- TWO. Secondly Kagawa was adamant about not including a third dog-owner that plead "no contest," a plea that is "treated the same as guilty in the eyes of the law."

Five cases are still in the prosecutor's office awaiting processing.

When Councilmembers JoAnn Yukimura and Gary Hooser brought this third case to his attention, Kagawa, at times doing his best Steve McGarrett cum Colombo impression, at other times apparently portraying some sort of comical, tongue-tied, Bizarro-World Perry Mason, resorted to attempting to divine a reason for that no contest plea.

He then simply discarded the case because no one could say exactly why the dog-owner had plead guilty (including the Prosecuting Attorney himself - which Kagawa decided was occasion to verbally "spike the ball"), apparently rejecting the theory that it was because he actually might have been guilty.

Hooser said his operating theory of lawmaking, based on almost two decades as a legislator, including a stint as state Senate Majority Leader, is that the intent of passing a law is not to fine or even jail people. Rather, it's to discourage people from certain behaviors, likening it to establishing a speed limit to slow people down, not as a cash cow.

From the testimony, apparently Ross and the three other members of Council Chair Mel Rapozo's "Tea Party" faction either don't get that or are simply playing politics because they all voted for repeal when the bill passed out of committee almost two weeks ago.

Wednesday's council meeting beings at 8:45 a.m. and will be live-streamed on-line. Bills and Resolutions are generally taken up toward the end of meetings although there is no guarantee that that will be the case.

Hooser has posted a message on Facebook saying:
"I encourage Kauai residents to let all Councilmembers know how you feel about these two issues - repealing the barking dog ordinance and repealing term limits. PLEASE SEND IN YOUR TESTIMONY TODAY TO, before Wednesday August 5, especially on the proposed repeal of Kauai's barking dog ordinance which is scheduled for a final vote that day.

I share the concerns expressed by The Garden Island Newspaper and will be voting against both proposals. Both proposals have been introduced by Councilmember Kagawa and I respect his right to promote his values but disagree strongly with him on the these two issues."


The side of the living

SOURCE: Ray Songtree (
SUBHEAD: We are those who are on the side of the living. And we are going to win.

By Derrick Jensen on 23 July 2015 for the Ecologist -

Image above: "We are people who no longer hope salmon survive, but will do whatever it takes to stop their extinction". From original article.

Who are we? We are the people who are ready to fight back, writes Derrick Jensen. The people who no longer live in hope that the Earth will be saved, but in the certainty that we will save her. We are activists, survivors, lovers and fighters. And we say: the destruction will stop.

We are people who do not resign ourselves to the fate we are so often told is inevitable.

We are people who refuse to continue as slaves. We are people who are remembering how to be human beings. We are people who are ready to take back our own lives, and to defend our lives and the lives of those we love, including the land.

We are people who are at long last ready and willing to fight back. We are people who know in our bones the truth of Robert E. Lee's statement, "We must decide between the risk of action versus the positive loss of inaction." We are people who are ready to take the offensive, or support those people who do.

We are survivors. We have survived domestic violence. We have survived racism, and we have survived sexism. We have survived industrial schooling, and we have survived the industrial economy. We have survived television. We have survived the toxification of our total environment.

And we are ready to fight back
We are lovers, lovers of the land, lovers of each other, lovers of our own bodies, including our emotions. We love. We hate. We feel joy, despair, sorrow, outrage, happiness, anger. And we are ready to fight back.

We are the oppressed. We are prisoners, family farmers, animal liberators, women, children, American Indians, blacks, Mexicans, poor whites, Asians, people of the Third World, the indigenous. We are parents, and we are childless. We are those who hate our jobs, we are the unemployed, and we are those who want no jobs. And we are ready to fight back.

We are those who have listened long with love and sorrow, and who now with their permission speak for salmon, redwoods, rivers, voles, spotted owls. We speak for the bison, the sturgeon, the manatee, the shark.

We speak for the soil, for the wind, for the snow, for the ice caps. We speak for the phytoplankton, and we speak for the insects. We speak with voices that are no more and no less than the wind moving in and out of our bodies, over our vocal cords. We speak for our homes, and for our neighbors, and we will be heard. They will be heard. And we are ready to fight back.

We are activists. We are teachers. We are students. We are workers in strawberry fields. We are visual artists. We are small business owners. We are construction workers. We are genetic engineers. We are librarians. We are bioweapons specialists. We are ex-navy SEALS.

We are demolitions experts. We are hackers. We are clerks at Wal-Mart. We are prisoners. We are single mothers. We are punks. We are fishermen. We are hunters. We are those who oppose hunting. We are writers. We are killers. We are former loggers. We are saboteurs. We are nurses. We are farmers. We are great-grandmothers. We are attorneys. We are ex-cons. And we are ready to fight back.

We are in Los Angeles, Detroit, Boston, New York. We are in St. Louis and we are in Asheville, North Carolina. We are in St. Petersburg and we are in Seattle. We are in tiny towns in Montana and we are in southern Mexico. We are in Canada and we are in Korea. We are in China, India, Australia. We are in the Congo and in Tanzania. We are in Macedonia, Austria, Denmark, Finland. And we are ready to fight back.

And we are going to win
We are people who have realized that unless it is stopped, civilization will kill everything on the planet. We are people who have realized that civilization is guided by an urge to destroy, and we are people who have realized that civilization is not reformable.

We are people who have learned the lessons of those who have tried to make treaties with those who are killing the planet, and we are people who, with all the world at stake, are finally ready to fight back.

We are people who no longer hope that civilization will stop killing the planet, but will do whatever it takes to stop it. We are people who no longer hope salmon survive, but will do whatever it takes to stop their extinction. We are people who say the same for bison, prairie dogs, desert tortoises, whales, dolphins, lions, great apes, rhinos. We do not hope. We act. And we are ready to fight back.

We are people who understand deep within our bodies that fear is the belief that we have something left to lose, and with all the world at stake we are ready to fight back.

We are people who are putting those who would kill the world we love on notice. You must stop. Now. You will stop. Hear this as you have never heard anything before. You will stop. We are ready to fight back.

And we are going to win
We are those who will never forget that the Jews who participated in the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising had a higher rate of survival than those who went along.

We are those who are on the side of the living, and we are going to win.


Pesticides are killing bees in Greece

SUBHEAD: It seems that Greek people have a place in the colony collapse disorder puzzle, too.

By Maryam Henein on 2 August 2015 for TruthOut -

Image above: Abandoned bee hives boxes lay in the grass near an ancient trail that connected the port of ancient Kirra with the Oracle of Delphi. Photo by Jan Wellmann. From original article.

The hot topic across global financial markets at the moment is Greece. People there are experiencing monetary woes, but it seems like their honeybees aren't doing too well either. Systemic pesticides are increasingly causing bee losses, and many would argue that the country now suffers from colony collapse disorder as well.

The air smells of smoke and lemons, and the cicadas chirp steadily as I come upon 16 beehives clustered together in a dry field. What I've just discovered is mere steps away from Demokritos, the National Centre for Scientific Research in Athens, the largest multidisciplinary research institute in Greece. Every so often, pagoda, pine and olive trees sway gently in the breeze, but overall the climate in Attica, the historic region that encompasses the capital, is hot and arid.

The scent in the air is coming from lemon balm leaves, which associate researcher and apiculturist, Dr. Sofia Gounari, has placed in her smoker to calm the bees. It's an attractive aroma to the virgin sisters of toil because it's similar to the secretions they give off when communicating with one another, she explains. No wonder lemon balm's official name is Melissa officinalis; Melissa is Greek for "honeybee."

"In the past, beekeepers added lemon juice in melted wax to attract swarms," says the 52-year-old. Working at the Institute of Mediterranean Forest Ecosystems, Gounari has agreed to rendezvous with me as I explore the state of bees and beekeeping in Greece. It's the day of Greece's ultimately pointless referendum, and Gounari remarks that it's actually good to be in the bee yard today, thinking of nature rather than the country's future and the terms of Greece's EU bailout deal.

When I ask her if we can look at the bees, she expresses concern about my attire: a casual combination of shorts and a tank top.

But I assure her that I will be fine with only a veil and actually welcome a sting or two as I regard the venom as medicinal. I just don't like getting stung in the face since my face swells up beyond recognition.

With the help of a hive tool, she pries a few frames out so we can observe the capped brood and honey flow. She gestures for me to try some honey and before I gently poke my finger in the sticky wax, I silently thank the bees.

Unfortunately Gounari, who has been beekeeping for three decades, didn't harvest much honey this year due to bee losses.

"We've had a lot of problems with pesticides these last two years in all of Attica, mostly in the south," says Gounari, who also transported another 10 beehives on fir trees in Menalo Mountain in Central Peloponnesus. Incidentally, this year's crop from Menalo, near Tripoli, was the worst in many years, due to the poor weather in the mountains.

"Because of systemic pesticides?" I ask. She nods. The pesticides are just one of the challenges troubling beekeepers in Greece, who are struggling to carry on the country's ancient legacy of apiculture in the face of modern toxins.

The Ancient History of Beekeeping in Greece
Apiculture in Greece dates back to antiquity and is part of the country's legacy.

Legend has it that the Greek god of apiculture, Aristaeus, was the son of Apollo and the huntress Cyrene. According to Greek mythology, Aristaeus was born in the palaces of Libya, North Africa, where nurses dropped nectar and ambrosia on his lips, turning him into an immortal. Nymphs taught him useful arts and mysteries like how to curdle milk for cheese and tame the Goddess' bees to stay in hives.

In the ancient city of Knossos a sign reads: Pasi Theis Meli - "Honey Is Offered to All Gods." Honeybees were so revered that they were even etched on Greek coins.

In 322 BC, Aristotle, the Greek philosopher and scientist, was the first person recorded as having studied bees, and it is said that Pythagoras and his followers used honey as their main source of food. Meanwhile melikraton - a thick mixture of milk and honey that's been mentioned in the Odyssey - was viewed as sacred and imbibed on special occasions. The carved stone that channeled the vapors of the Oracle of Delphia was dome-shaped like a beehive, and legend even asserts that the second temple at Delphi was constructed entirely by bees.

Contemporary beekeepers in Greece are keeping alive the country's reverence for honey and hives. There are a total of 1.5 million beehives in all of Greece. In fact, the country ranks second in the world (after Hungary) when it comes to apicultural density: about 11.1 beehives per km.

Meanwhile, golden liquid flows in abundance in this country, free of genetic modification and gleaned from vast, uncultivated lands. All Greek honey is, by default, GMO-free, given that genetically modified crops are prohibited from being grown in the country.

And, I'd venture to say that every Greek home has honey. Greeks consume the largest amount of honey per person in all of Europe - 1.620 kg per year. The country produces about 15,000 to 16,000 tons of honey annually, making it the second-largest honey producer in Europe, after Spain.
"Honey is part of the Mediterranean diet," said Katerina Karatasou of the Federation of Greek Beekeepers' Associations. "It's a superfood with many advantages for health."

In Greece, more than 60 percent of the honey comes from pine and fir (pefko and  elato), and what is fascinating here is that an insect called Marchinalia hellenica feeds on the trees by sucking the sap, and then the excess sugary substances that are produced are then collected by bees (honeydew honey). Once processed by the bees, it is almost indistinguishable from other honey, apart from the ratio of different sugars, plus it has a stronger taste and darker color.

Another 10 percent of the country's honey comes from thyme, which is rich in copper and boron and considered to have tonic and antiseptic properties, wonderful for the prevention and fighting of infections from peptic and respiratory diseases.

The rest comes from chestnut, cotton, heather, oranges and a great variety of wild herbs and flowers. The aroma, the taste, and the viscosity of Greek honey are superb.

An Unexpected Effect of the Athens Olympics
Back in 2004, as Athens prepared to host the summer Olympics, organizers decided to go all out by importing Canary palm trees from North Africa for decoration and shade.

Unfortunately, the red palm weevil - an insect that slowly munches on the palm until it kills its host - hitched a ride to Greece as well. Soon after that a horticulturalist spotted the first unfamiliar weevil in a palm tree all the way in Hersonissos, Crete. By 2006, the red palm weevil had infested palm trees across Greece, from Crete to Rhodes to Attica and beyond.

As a result many hotels and municipalities went mad and started spraying chemicals at will, including neonics, Gounari said.

Eventually all the trees died, including many of the indigenous palm trees like the endangered Cretan Palm. But it got worse: The neonicotinoids also caused huge bee losses, especially to honey producers in the region of Attica. The die-off cost local beekeepers losses of around 50 percent.

"I lost many beehives from the spraying of palm trees with neonicotinoids in the area around the institute," Gounari said. "Now that all the trees are dead, there's some relief from the toxins directly in the city."

Greece Says "Oxi" to a Ban on Neonics
It's 2012, and based on an assessment by the European Food Safety Authority, the European Commission decides to temporarily restrict the use of three neonicotinoids - clothianidin, imidacloprid and thiamethoxam, which are considered harmful to bee health. At the time, 15 member states - including France and Germany - vote in favor of the restrictions, four abstain and eight vote against the ban, including the UK, Italy, Hungary and Greece.

"The Greek vote was a major disappointment to us and we fail to understand it," stated the Federation of Greek Beekeepers' Associations, which is made up of about 65 beekeeping associations.

According to Andreas Thrasivoulou, a professor of beekeeping at Aristotle University in Thessaloniki, the Ministry of the Environment was informed of the damage due to the use of the harmful pesticides by both professional and scientific organizations, as well as ordinary beekeepers and political parties.

"The ministry was fully aware of the problem," says Thrasivoulou. "However, instead of listening to us, they preferred to listen to the companies that produce the pesticides."

Undoubtedly, the decision had to do with dollar bills and keeping the pharmaceutical companies happy, says Gounari. Meanwhile, honeybees and human beings are defenseless victims of the profiteering of large agricultural companies.

"Not banning the pesticides does not help agriculture. It does not help biodiversity, it does not help humans and insects. No one benefits from bees dying," says Elena Danali of Greenpeace Greece.

To defend their position, sources from the Ministry of Agricultural Development maintained that the European Food Safety Authority report did not contain sufficient data and that a mass extinction of bees, due to the use of the specific systemic pesticides, had not been registered in Greece.

As far as data: Based on the results of more than 1,000 international studies, scientists with the Task Force on Systemic Pesticides have concluded that neonics are a major factor in bee mortality. The pesticides disorient the bees, making it more difficult for these flying insects to navigate, forage for pollen and reproduce in the hives.

In the end, a ban was instated for the treatment of seeds, soil (granules), and foliar applications for a period of two years on corn, cotton, sunflower and rapeseed, but not including individual use in gardens and orchards, e.g. oranges. It expired in December of 2014. Ironically, manufacturers Bayer and Syngenta are now suing the European Commission and asking for reimbursement for lost profits. (Because apparently a gazillion dollars just isn't enough.)

"We are also trying to defend our reputation, which was significantly harmed, particularly considering the significant investments we have made over a number of years in bee health and sustainable agriculture in general," added a Bayer company spokesman, defending the use of legal action for a temporary measure that has since expired.

Still, many groups are hoping to renew the ban, this time attempting to restrict all six systemic pesticides rather than the aforementioned three.

Unemployed Youth Turn to Beekeeping
Greece has an estimated 25,000 beekeepers; about 1,500 of them make their living solely from the trade while about 85 percent use it to supplement their income. Meanwhile, about 7,000 beekeepers own more than 150 hives.

According to Gounari, there's also been a wave of young adults taking up the profession, as of late.
"That's great," I respond with enthusiasm.

"No, it's not great," she interjects. "We have an economic crisis, and people think they can earn money easily because they've seen beekeepers go on TV, saying that you can collect 30 to 50 kilos of honey and sell it for 10 to 15 euros per kilo. Beekeeping is not easy and it's not for everyone. Money is not a reason to become a beekeeper."

Currently, the unemployment rate for Greek youth hovers around 53 percent, so naturally, some are seeking solutions in more creative ways, said Karatasou of the Federation of Greek Beekeepers' Associations. She tells wannabe beekeepers that they can't be allergic, they can't be afraid, and most importantly, they can't expect to make any money … at least not for the first three years in the business.

Beekeeping is indeed not easy. In Greece, beekeepers have to move their hives four to six times a year following the nectar or honeydew flow and the harvests are poor: 12-15 kilos on average, nothing near the 30-40 kilos we hear in other European countries.

Are Bee Deaths the Beekeepers' Fault?
Systemic pesticides, especially Gaucho (imidacloprid), have been used in Greece mainly on cotton, sunflower and oranges for the past five or six years. While varroa destructor, a parasitic mite that attacks honey bees, is certainly an issue, many contend that nicotine-based pesticides are the main problem, compromising the bees' immune system so that they cannot fend for themselves. (Incidentally while Greece's economy is anchored in tourism and shipping, its main exports are fish and cotton).

"We never had losses of more than seven to 10 percent, which is considered acceptable. But now with the advent of neonics, the losses have increased considerably, and they are high in specific periods of the year, not only just after winter," explains biologist and researcher Dr. Fani Hatjina of the Division of Apiculture, of the Hellenic Agricultural Organization DEMETER. Hatjina has been studying the effect of pesticides and bee losses since 2007.

Together with other researchers, she has concluded that imidacloprid in sub-lethal doses has a significant detrimental effect in different aspects of bees' physiology, behavior and health (e.g. in orientation, respiration, cardiac rhythm, food glands' size, thermoregulation, immune system and hygienic behavior).

Since the country has lost bees due to neonics, I asked whether beekeepers have witnessed colony collapse disorder (CCD).

"No, we don't have CCD, we have bad beekeepers," insists Gounari. While she agrees that neonics are slowly killing bees, she believes that the main issue is overworking the bees and abusing hives by treating them as a commodity.

Another beekeeper I spoke to claims Greece doesn't have colony collapse disorder because the country is still void of genetically modified foods.

This idea that beekeepers - rather than colony collapse disorder - are to blame for the rising losses in the bee population was also prevalent in France, circa 1995, and the United States, circa 2006. When bees in those countries first started dying en masse, the first culprit was the beekeeper.

Colony Collapse Disorder
Many beekeepers and scientists don't agree with Gounari about the cause of bee deaths in Greece.
"It's easy to assume that it's bad beekeepers, but there are signs of CCD. No doubt about that," says John Phipps, editor of The Beekeepers Quarterly. In 2010, Phipps went from 40 to 28 hives and has witnessed very unusual bee behavior as well as "typical signs of CCD," like abandoned hives, with only a small batch of brood left behind and sometimes a queen.

Hatjina has also gotten increased reports of colonies disappearing and the life spans of queen bees dropping to as low as two weeks, instead of two to three years, and these events are increasing year after year. However due to being short-staffed, she is unable to keep tabs on the losses. Her studies have also shown that when bees come into contact with neonics, they are more vulnerable to diseases such as Nosema and AFB.

One significant difference is that the failing hives in Greece can recover more easily than those in the United States because they can be easily moved to areas without poisons. Keep in mind that only 29 percent of Greece land is farmed. Greece doesn't have huge monocultures, so wild flora around the contaminated cultivations acts as a sort of 'saver' for the bees; therefore, sometimes the adverse effects are diluted. Hatjina's new research also shows that the colonies are trying to detoxify themselves. Their success depends of the dose of the neonicotinoid used.

With all this said, beekeepers can do a better job of keeping bees. While an increasing number of young and old beekeepers use nontoxic oxalic acids and essential oils against miticides, many others still use toxins such as pyrethroids, even though varroa mites have grown resistant to it. They are advised to follow proper instructions and only treat during brood-less periods, but still even limited use of the toxins filter into the wax and honey. Meanwhile, Phipps has noticed that many Greek beekeepers buy Chinese wax, because it's cheap.

Raising Consciousness on the Importance of Bees
During the last 10 years, official beekeeping seminars have proved very helpful in passing new knowledge and methodology to Greek beekeepers, says Hatjina.

Meanwhile, organizations like the Federation of Greek Beekeepers' Associations, the Division of Apiculture in Chalkidiki, and Greenpeace Greece are also actively attempting to link farmers with beekeepers and teach them about the detrimental effects of neonics and the importance of honeybees. But unfortunately, many are not so sympathetic to the cause. They don't realize the extent of the damage because the effects are sub-lethal.

"Unfortunately not all of them can hear that bees are the solution and not the problem," says Delani. "Some farmers, the more conventional ones, don't like bees or don't understand their vital role in pollination. … Of course, there are also organic and progressive farmers that are making positive contributions."

Greenpeace Greece also has a current campaign that aims to educate people about the importance of bees and the dangerous repercussions of systemic pesticides.
So it's not just about farmers and beekeepers.

"I think that people in Greece are aware that the honeybee is a central pillar of the ecosystem," says Karatasou.

It seems that Greek people have a place in the colony collapse disorder puzzle, too. Will the country befriend the bee? We'll have to wait and see.