Fight over sham GMO labeling bill

SUBHEAD: Sen. Bernie Sanders has vowed to put a hold on Senate legislation, which could be voted on days after Vermont's law takes effect.

By Lauren McCauley on 29 June @0q6 for Common Dreams -
(http://www.commondreams.org/news/2016/06/29/senate-food-fight-erupts-over-sham-gmo-labeling-bill)


Image above: Demonstration in support of labeling all foods with KMO ingredients. From original article.

The pending "compromise" GMO labeling bill has food safety and consumer advocates both in and out of government scrambling to block the legislation, which they warn will destroy popular efforts to label products made with genetically modified (GMO) ingredients.

Sen. Bernie Sanders has vowed to put a hold on the legislation, which would prevent it from coming up for debate unless proponents can muster 60 votes.

The legislation is seen as a direct threat to a GMO labeling law passed in Sanders' home state of Vermont, which is slated to take effect on Friday. Democratic Sen. Patrick Leahy, also from Vermont, on Tuesday declared his opposition to the legislation.

"Vermont will become the first state in the nation to require GMO labeling," Sanders said in a press statement. "This is a triumph for ordinary Americans over the powerful interests of Monsanto and other multi-national food industry corporations. We cannot allow Vermont’s law to be overturned by bad federal legislation that has just been announced."

Sanders promised to do everything he can to defeat the bi-partisan bill, introduced last week by Senate Agriculture Committee chairman Pat Roberts (R-Kan.) and ranking member Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.).

According to reporting by Politico's Helena Bottemiller Evich, cited by Tom Philpott, Roberts and Stabenow have been pushing hard for the full Senate to consider their compromise bill and "have industrial agriculture interests at their backs."

To counter the powerful influence of food industry lobbyists like the Grocery Manufacturers of America and others, more than 70 consumer, food safety, farm, environmental, and religious groups along with several independent food companies sent a joint letter (pdf) to all members of the Senate on Tuesday voicing their strong opposition to the legislation. It reads in part:
The process that created this legislation has been profoundly undemocratic and a violation of basic legislative practice. The bill addresses a critical issue for the American public, yet it was neither subject to a single hearing nor any testimony whatsoever. Rather, the bill’s preemption of the democratically decided-upon labeling laws of several states, and seed laws of numerous states and municipalities, is the result of non-transparent “bargaining” between two senators and industry interest groups.

...We oppose the bill because it is actually a non-labeling bill under the guise of a mandatory labeling bill. It exempts major portions of current and future GMO foods from labeling; it is on its face discriminatory against low income, rural and elderly populations; it is a gross violation of the sovereignty of numerous states around the nation; and it provides no enforcement against those who violate the law.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on Monday posted its technical comments (pdf) about the proposed legislation to the Senate Agriculture Committee and the feedback was similarly damning.

According to analysis by the Center for Food Safety (CFS), the FDA notably "red flags the bill’s narrow and ambiguous definition of 'bioengineering,' which 'will likely mean that many foods from [GMO] sources will not be subject to this bill. For instance, oil made from [GMO] soy would not have any genetic material in it. Likewise, starches and purified proteins would not be covered."

The FDA further notes that it "may be difficult" for any GMO food to qualify for labeling under the bill because, as CFS put it, "it would have to be proven that a GMO product’s modification could not be achieved through conventional breeding or be found in nature – something near impossible to determine. This means most GMO foods would not be subject to mandatory labeling under this bill."

This fight has also sharply divided the organic industry, according to Huffington Post journalist Carey Gillam, who reported Wednesday that the Organic Trade Association (OTA), "signed off on the deal despite the fact that many leading organic businesses and groups are aligned with consumers in wanting on-package labeling."

According to Gilliam, the bill could reach the Senate floor as early as next week.

In the meantime, opponents of the bill are encouraging people to contact their senators and urge them to reject the bill or any other "compromise that would restrict states' rights for labeling and result in anything less than clear mandatory on-package labels that state 'contains genetically engineered ingredients.'"


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The Misery of Bigness

SUBHEAD: Bigness has failed the world, and it has failed Europe.
 Now is the time to say no to all of its manifestations.

By Andrew Nikiforuk on 23 June 2016 for TheTyee  -
(http://thetyee.ca/Opinion/2016/06/23/EU-Misery-of-Bigness/)


Image above: Computer generated 3D illustration of Fantasy Airships over a Megacity by Michael Rosskothen. From original aricle.

Brexit voters should recognize Leopold Kohr's belief that large institutions concentrate power and ignore local needs.
"What wisdom shall any man show in glorying in the largeness of empire, all their joy being but as a glass, bright and brittle, and evermore in fear and danger of breaking?" -- Saint Augustine
Whether British citizens vote to leave or remain in the European Union this week, the central global issue won't go away and that's the misery of bigness.

Of course, that's not the way the media and pundits have framed this important debate. They present the vote on whether Britain should remain or leave the European Union as some sort of proxy war on immigration, free trade and the tolerance of so-called progressive societies.

But these issues are just symptoms of a much greater malaise: the tyrannical nature of big organizations. They can't work or prosper for long because their scale is inhuman, abusive and wrong.

Years ago, the great Austrian economist Leopold Kohr argued that overwhelming evidence from science, culture and biology all pointed to one unending truth: things improve with an unending process of division.

The breakdown ensured that nothing ever got too big for its own britches or too unmanageable or unaccountable. Small things simply worked best.

Kohr pegged part of the problem with bigness as "the law of diminishing sensitivity." The bigger a government or market or corporation got, the less sensitive it became to matters of the neighbourhood.

In the end bigness, just like any empire, concentrated power and delivered misery, corruption and waste.

And that's the problem today with the European Union, big corporations, large governments and a long parade of big trade pacts.

In the global labyrinth of bigness, the European Union has become another symbol of oversized ineptness along with a technological deafness that ignores locality, human temperament, culture, ecology, tradition, democracy and diversity.

In its bigness, the Union has failed. It can no longer manage its own currency, let alone economic stagnation. It can't solve the debt of Italy and Greece or address the flood of migrants from North Africa. One bungled decision after another has inflamed political communities of the left and right throughout Europe.

A variety of Greeks recently sent an open letter to Britons detailing the scale of mess.

The Union, they wrote, once promised friendship, solidarity, mutual benefit and democracy, but failed on every account.

"There is nothing about freedom, solidarity or friendship in the European Union. The European Union has proven to act on behalf of the interest of banks, multi-national enterprises and groups in the shadow, as advised by professional think-tanks and lobbyists, not in favour of its people.

In fact, the European Union is an economic union with a common market (without internal borders), which enables a free circulation of money, goods and people/workforce, and an ongoing process to harmonize business standards. The European Union is designed as a cartel and typically, there is a lack of democratic structures and processes: democracy becomes a disturbing factor."

The modesty of smallness
None of these developments would have surprised Kohr. The economist and philosopher was an anarchist and Austrian Jew who fought fascists in Spain, befriended George Orwell and greatly influenced the work of E.F. Schumacher, the "small is beautiful" economist. (Kohr also believed that slow was beautiful, too.)

The iconoclast, who once worked in a Canadian gold mine, taught and lived much of his academic life in the United States, Puerto Rico and Wales where he preached the gospel of smallness to small audiences. He thought they were the only kind that mattered.

For Kohr understood that God made atoms small, that small business invigorated the economy, that only a small number of people created real social change and that virtue came in a small box. He appreciated that we lived in a microcosmos, not a macrocosmos.

He, too, recognized that "Monopolies are to economics what great powers are to politics." As such, Kohr was a profoundly conservative (and mischievous) thinker who respected limits.

Kohr's darkly masterful and humorous work, The Breakdown of Nations, argued the root of most evil lies in big government and big institutions. Whenever power reached it, a critical mass, its wielders, no matter how nice or educated, tended to abuse it. Bigness not only allowed but invited the abuse.

The only way to stop the cancer of bigness was to return to the modesty of smallness.

"If a society grows beyond its optimum size, its problems must eventually outrun the growth of those human faculties which are necessary for dealing with them," wrote Kohr.

The problem, he added, "is not to grow but to stop growing; the answer not union but division."

Scale, however, does not seem to be an issue modern politicians understand, let alone contemplate. In fact, the typical political response to almost every problem today is to somehow make it bigger so more technocrats can make it impossible to resolve.

When was the last time you heard a politician say, "Division, not union?" or a business leader confront the reality of diminishing returns in large corporations?

Hence the endless push to create vaster social units, bigger trade units, more gigantic cities or even larger governments manned by entire classes of people that the social critic Wendell Berry once described as "itinerant professional vandals."

These vandals have no allegiance to place, language, race or spirit; they serve only the force of bigness. They impose their will on localities they neither know nor understand. They behave and act like Roman consuls and view the rest of us as barbarians.

Servants to bigness
To Kohr, the historic and social evidence clearly showed that small states, small cities and small companies all worked better because they offered one important advantage:
"The opportunity for everybody to experience everything simply by looking out of the window."
But that's not the wisdom our educators or politicians now share with us.

Servants to bigness, they have fallen under its thrall and covered the windows. They repeatedly demand that we strive to speak one language, vote for one world, acquiesce to constant government surveillance, shop in one big box or aspire to live like standardized machines. But unity in the end breeds a sameness and ultimately, tyranny.

The biological world doesn't operate this way. It rejects any attempt to replace diversity with monotony because there is no resilience without the many.

On a small scale everything becomes flexible, healthy, or delightful, explained Kohr, and he was largely right.

But Kohr was concerned about the nature of human goodness, a language that has been hunted down as quickly as Amazonian peoples in Latin America.

Technological society, whose goal is to transform the human condition into a machine state, has no time for such ancient philosophical sensibilities let alone a diversity of languages.

The Catholic radical Ivan Illich recognized this uncomfortable change.

He even feared that most people had lost the ability to understand the meaning of indigenous viewpoints which not only celebrated smallness but understood the importance of "the just measure," "reasonableness," and "proportion." A tribe will always understand scale in a way no modern big entity can fathom.

In the end Mother Nature offers a cure for bigness, but it usually involves extinction, collapse or annihilation.

Kohr didn't think that was a satisfactory solution for human societies, although climate change, overpopulation and overconsumption seem to have put most of us on a high-speed train to a Trump-like wall.

Kohr, however, didn't think the world should go down like the Titanic. He cheerfully preferred disunion and division.

The present danger to the world, added Kohr, does not lie in aggressive states of mind.

It lies in the near critical mass of power generated by big things, which, in turn, produces aggressive states of mind.

And that is why the debate about the future of the European Union, regardless of the outcome of the British vote, has only begun.

Bigness has failed the world, and it has failed Europe.

Now is the time to say no to all of its manifestations.



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Russian comfort rises with Brexit

SUBHEAD: Reflection of the overall weariness in Europe with continued NATO expansion eastward.

By MK Bhadrakumar on 27 June 2016 for Asia Times   -
(http://atimes.com/2016/06/brexit-russias-comfort-level-rises-us-loses-eurasian-plot/)


Image above: Russian and British Prime Ministers Putin and Cameron speak confidentially. From (http://www.thewhatandthewhy.com/brexit-and-russia/).

If there is a tide in the affairs of men, as Brutus said in William Shakespeare’s play Julius Caesar, it must be the same in the affairs of nations, too.

At Tashkent, Russian President Vladimir Putin hinted he is insightful enough to recognize new opportunities in Britain.

Less than a week ago, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization was creeping toward the borders of Russia and relentlessly provoking it, but the tide abruptly turned on Friday. Eurasian politics will never be the same again after Brexit.

Only last Wednesday, while addressing the Russian Duma in Moscow, President Vladimir Putin took Russia’s political elites into confidence that the nation was facing once again a menace on its borders similar to the Nazi invasion exactly 75 years ago.

However, two days later in Tashkent, Putin spoke calmly and in a detached tone, when asked for his reaction to Brexit. But he hinted he is insightful enough to recognize the opportunity brought up by fate. Putin said:
  • Brexit will have “consequences” for both Britain and Europe as a whole and will inevitably have “global effects… both positive and negative”
  • “Time will tell whether there will be more pluses or minuses”
  • Brexit will impact market and currencies, but a “global upheaval” is unlikely
  • Apropos sanctions against Russia, if EU countries are ready for “constructive dialogue,” Moscow will be “not only ready – we seek it and we will respond positively to positive initiatives”
  • Having said that, Russia has limits since the onus on the implementation of the Minsk accord on Ukraine lies with Kiev and “without them, we can do nothing.”
Putin had most recently visited Greece, an EU country closest to Russia. Significantly, in the words of the Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, Brexit “confirms a deep political crisis, an identity crisis and a crisis in the European strategy.”

This would also be echoing the broad swathe of Russian opinion.

The Russian commentators on the whole feel elated that the Brexit vote will inexorably lead to a weakening of the EU sanctions. Indeed, they expect a significant improvement in Russia’s relations with Britain.

London is a favorite playpen of Russian oligarchs and Moscow elites. Boris Johnson, the UK’s most likely post-Brexit prime minister, has been a vocal supporter of warm relations with Russia, and the Moscow elites regard him to be an unusual politician who has no cold war mentality and even more interestingly, has no foreign policy mentality, either.

Clearly, the surmise among the Russian analysts is that Washington will be hard-pressed to impose its trans-Atlantic leadership in the same manner it used to, and the EU itself will be probably unable to reach a consensus on extending the sanctions against Russia beyond the end of the year. These are Russia’s best bets.

However, Putin’s cautious words suggest that Moscow will keep its fingers crossed as to how Washington could afford to permit Brexit to be taken to its logical conclusion and simply allow the British people to leave the EU. Quite obviously, Putin neatly sidestepped any talk of European disintegration.

On the other hand, Moscow cannot be unaware that Euroskepticism is a pervasive phenomenon in Europe. If Brexit has a ‘domino effect’ and sets in motion referenda in other European countries as well, the unthinkable may happen.

Even otherwise, the Euroskeptic groups in Europe have already strengthened their standing. Either way, while George Soros wrote in the weekend that the disintegration of the EU has become “practically irreversible,” he may have a point.

Clearly, there are question marks over Britain’s own survival. Russia stands to benefit here, too, because Britain has been traditionally not only the charioteer of US interests in Europe but also been an ‘arbiter’ of sorts within the EU, a role where it is irreplaceable.

In the face of mounting pressure from the West, Moscow lately began focusing on expanding its influence and consolidating its leadership in Eurasia. At the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum a week ago, Putin unveiled a Greater Eurasia project. All indications are that this also was a key agenda item for discussions with the Chinese leadership during his visit to Beijing in the weekend.

Putin visualizes a grand partnership within the ambit of the Greater Eurasia plan, involving Russia-led Eurasian Economic Union (EEU), China and, possibly, India and Iran – effectively expanding the ‘post-Soviet space’ toward East, West and South Asian directions.

Putin’s Greater Eurasia vision has three templates – security, common market and internal governance. The Russian intention seems to be to bring the cascading Chinese influence in the Eurasian space to be brought under negotiation within a multilateral format, especially China’s One Belt One Road initiative.

But China is unlikely to agree. China has had a field day as tensions began rising between Russia and the West under the shadow of the NATO build-up. But with Brexit, the power dynamic in Eurasia may be about to change dramatically in Russia’s favor.

Arguably, Brexit eases the pressure on Russia from the West and provides it with the respite to pay greater attention to the reality that in the recent years, China has been steadily expanding its influence in Eurasia – not only in Central Asia but also in the Balkans and Central Europe.

What matters most for Moscow will be whether Brexit will arrest the recent trend, encouraged in no small measure by Washington, toward militarization of Europe. The upcoming NATO summit in Warsaw (July 8-9) will now be taking place under the shadow of Brexit.

It may be a harbinger of things to come that Bulgaria and Romania last week voiced opposition to the idea of a NATO fleet in the Black Sea. The Bulgarian prime minister Boiko Borisov said on Thursday with a touch of sarcasm that the Black Sea should be a place where yachts and large boats filled with tourists sail rather than being a military arena.

Practical cooperation within the alliance may continue in the near term. But it remains to be seen how far Washington will succeed in keeping the European mind trained on the highly contrived thesis of Russia being a revisionist state that has put military mobilization at the center of its strategic thinking.
Brexit poses questions for NATO although the British people have not voted to leave the alliance.

In an insightful commentary, the well-known ‘Russia hand’ at the National Interest magazine Nikolas Gvosdev noted that Brexit “validates two developing trend lines in Europe”. Gvosdev explained:
The first is the hesitation within Western European countries to want to be drawn into conflicts and problems happening on the eastern periphery of the continent or within the post-Soviet space. The second will be to reawaken the lingering regional split within the alliance — with some members arguing that if NATO had paid much more attention to dealing with the cross-Mediterranean threats to European security, rather than on being drawn into playing geopolitical games in Eurasia, the migration crisis might have been avoided or blunted — and thus one of the key drivers of Brexit might have been neutralized.
    The bottom line is that the EU and NATO are complementary. And Brexit upholds that national interests prevail over European collective interests. Without doubt, Brexit is also, partly at least, a reflection of the overall weariness in Europe with the continued NATO expansion eastward.

    • Ambassador MK Bhadrakumar served as a career diplomat in the Indian Foreign Service for over 29 years, with postings including India’s ambassador to Uzbekistan (1995-1998) and to Turkey (1998-2001). He writes the “Indian Punchline” blog and has written regularly for Asia Times since 2001.

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    A solution to Brexit? - Tall ships

    SUBHEAD: By all that's holy, what's not to love about the end of oil. 

    ByPatrick Noble on 26 June 2016 for Convivial Economy  -
    (https://convivialeconomy.com/2016/06/26/by-all-thats-holy-whats-not-to-love-about-the-end-of-oil-a-brief-post-to-keep-an-eye-on-truth-beauty-after-black-thursday-23rd-june-2016/)


    Image above: The tall ship Matthew Turner is, the first of its kind in more than 100 years built in the San Francisco Bay Area, under construction in Sausalito in 2015. Photo by John Skoriak. From (http://pacificsun.com/feature-bare-bones-to-tall-ship/).
    “Launching a ship was a most important social event in these seaside towns, to which everyone looked forward with great excitement. It was considered by everybody to be an unofficial public holiday. The headmaster recorded many times in the school log that on such occasions (as at harvest time) he had to close the school because it was impossible to get children to attend. On the previous day of the launch, workers would be employed to open a large trench from the stern of the ship to the sea to facilitate an easy passage at the following high tide. The launching would start with a traditional religious service of blessing…”, Nefyn Shipbuilders and their Ships, Mr O J Cowell
    Such a scene was replicated in beaches and small harbours along the Welsh coastline (& of course around the world). For instance, and typically, the village of Llantsantffraed with a total population of 1,286 (1851 census), produced 55 sea-going vessels between 1786 and 1864. Bear in mind that a boat may have taken two years to build.

    The Lleyn Peninsula was particularly famous for its shipwrights, producing both ocean going and shore-hopping vessels to order from throughout Britain.

    Porthmadog schooners (for the American and Australian slate trades) could match the great tea clippers for speed and modern design. The last was built in 1914.

    Nearly all these vessels were financed, built, fitted-out, cargoed and crewed by local skills, without a word of advice from government, corporation, college, or bank. Of course those local skills were both inherited from within a tradition and also enlivened by the curiosities of travel – both physical and literary.

    I borrow the following from Welsh Ships and Sailing Men, by the great Aled Eames.
    The brig Anne Catherine was built in 1859 on the beach at Llangranog. Length – 193ft, 211 tons and built for the ocean trade. Finance for her construction, cargo and crew was raised entirely from within the community – as was the custom. Finance for such projects was raised by shares – tradition had evolved a system of 64 shares – known as “sixty fours”.
    In this case, shares were bought by 2 master mariners, 1 shopkeeper, 2 blacksmiths, 2 innkeepers, 1 merchant, 1 tanner, 1 joiner, 1 spinster, 2 widows, 2 private individuals, and 7 farmers.

    Llangrannog is a small village. Evidently, in 1859 it had a multitude of trades and trade’s people with income to spare for boat-building and sail-trading ventures. Today, it relies on tourism and EC subsidised farming. You’ll find no boat-builder, or sail-trader, and little fishing – no blacksmith and no tanner. There may be a joiner for fitting out holiday homes.

    If any widow, or “private individual” has money to spare, then it will almost certainly be re-invested in property (to create further inequality), or in shares for the further corporate destruction of a once self-reliant Llangrannog. Meanwhile, young people cannot afford a home. In any case, tourism and grass farming provide insufficient work.

    In 1859, this was a self-reliant economy, but one which looked out to sea. To be sure, its domestic heating was provided by coal, but transport was by foot, cart horse and sail.

    Land enclosure had dispossessed the bulk of rural populations across Britain. It created city slums and mass emigration. Then rentier effects had further bled productivity – land-holders became richer and tradespeople became poorer.

    However, for coastal Wales (and I resume elsewhere) the sea, tradition and ingenuity provided a kind of counter-commons. Shipwright, sail-maker, and navigator inherited filial knowledge and passed it on. No other education can be as intimate, complex and self-sustaining.

    The reader can guess where I am heading – How do we re-create such an economy today? We have no other choice (minus the coal) but to return to such a solid, reassuring, slowly-evolved, tried and tested integration of economy into its terrain. We need an economy which follows laws of physics and of nature. Nothing can replace the extra-ordinary powers of fossil physics. Nothing can replace the extra-ordinary ways of life it has generated.

    No renewable energy source can power suburbia, the family car, air travel, the centralised supply chains of super markets… Many pursue that end. They are deluded. Many say that proposals such as mine cannot be serious – sail-trade is good for a laugh, but not for the serious business of a modern economy.

    Yet if we sit down and consider simple laws of physics, economy and ecology (as we must) then nothing can match sail-trade for its efficiency, or for its spur to economic regeneration and for its use as a tool to integrate a modern trading economy more or less inside a reviving ecology.

    Large populations must always aim for surplus and then for trading between scarcity and surplus.
    I speak of sail trade as developing from the already highly-developed model of the 19th Century – probably boats similar to the fore and aft rigged, 200ton schooner.

    I think that sail-assisted tankers and container ships lead us nowhere. They “green” with utter futility, an impossible oil-powered model. It is a similar proposal to the greening of (utterly impossible) super markets. Such greening prolongs and replicates an impossible oil-powered way of life.

    As Richard Heinberg has pointed out, the massive economic growth of the 20th & 21st Centuries has not been caused by improving technologies, but by rapidly-increasing consumption of coal, gas and oil.

    We must return to ordinary history – It works. We resume where oil began and ordinary human-scale life ended. We can retrace our steps to Llangrannog in the 19th Century and begin then.

    If we can reclaim some commons in the process and so remove the parasitic, counter-productive effects of enclosure, then we have an opportunity for a far more convivial economy than today. Readers will be familiar with the idea of a land value tax to fund a citizen’s dividend…

    That’s by the by – How can we switch on this illumination – The extra-ordinary oil-powered years were a wild madness, whose Nemesis is now increasingly apparent – not only in the increasingly-resented poverty its monopoly has caused among the dispossessed, but in what may level possessions in flood, storm, mass migration, famine, war…

    The return to ordinary, limited human powers may invoke a great common sigh of relief.

    By switching off the oil we switch off the unaccountable monopoly – or duopoly of consensus politics and consumerism. From dependency on an invisible and unaccountable supply, we may become suddenly and marvellously dependent on each other…


    Image above: One of three square masted tall ships built and operated since 1990 by Star Clipper Cruises. A fourth ship is to be added to the fleet in 2016. This small company has carved out a niche for itself by offering very attractive one-week Caribbean, Mediterranean and Far East itineraries on the biggest, fastest clipper ships ever built -- at prices comparable to (and often below) conventional cruise ships'. From (http://www.cruisemates.com/star-clippers).

    With regards to the family car, here is Ivan Illich:
    The model American male devotes more than 1,600 hours a year to his car. He sits in it while it goes and while it stands idling. He parks it and searches for it. He earns the money to put down on it and to meet the monthly instalments. He works to pay for gasoline, tolls, insurance, taxes, and tickets. He spends four of his sixteen waking hours on the road or gathering his resources for it. And this figure does not take into account the time consumed by other activities dictated by transport: time spent in hospitals, traffic courts, and garages; time spent watching automobile commercials or attending consumer education meetings to improve the quality of the next buy. The model American puts in 1,600 hours to get 7,500 miles: less than five miles per hour. In countries deprived of a transportation industry, people manage to do the same, walking wherever they want to go, and they allocate only 3 to 8 per cent of their society’s time budget to traffic instead of 28 per cent. What distinguishes the traffic in rich countries from the traffic in poor countries is not more mileage per hour of life-time for the majority, but more hours of compulsory consumption of high doses of energy, packaged and unequally distributed by the transportation industry.
    Ivan Illich, Energy and Equity, 1973

    By all that’s holy, what’s not to love about the end of oil?

    See also:
    .

    Vote for Jill Stein

    SUBHEAD: The two party system in America has failed. It drifts right with madmen and warmongers.

    By Juan Wilson on 28 June 2016 for Island Breath -
    (http://islandbreath.blogspot.com/2016/06/vote-for-jill-stein.html)


    Image above: 2016 Presidential candidate Jill Stein at the podium. From (http://www.mintpressnews.com/jill-stein-green-party-set-break-2016/216317/).

    The power elites of the "Western World" would have you think that the British exit (Brexit) referendum vote to leave the European Union is a reactionary effort. In effect, that it is smeared with racist xenophobia and is an affront to the liberal egalitarian sophistication that Europe has so carefully adorned itself with.

    The Western World has been epitomized after the Second World War by Pax Americana. The United States extended Pax Americana in Europe through our loyal ally Britain and our vanquished foe Germany. America's "defense" against the Soviets included all Western Europe and recently has been extending its reach into Eastern Europe against the Russians.

    However, the "Western World" was built on a foundation modern industrial production and supported by international free trade. But modern industrial society has been failing since the 1970's do to environmental collapse, material  resource depletion and exhaustion of sources for cheap fossil fuels.   

    This winding down has led to the power elites desperate juggling to keep its balls in the air by any means available... namely issuing more debt, demanding bail-outs, decreeing bail-ins, betting on failure, decreeing negative interest rates and creating any and all kindsof Ponzi schemes just to preserve the appearance of credit and wealth.

    But even that game is coming to an end. The reality is the Western World is broke and cannot afford what it thinks should be its lifestyle.

    Here in America we began the abandonment of the poor under Clinton a quarter of a century ago. Worldwide the middle class has been eviscerated for the elites. Although Europe still provides an envied system of entitlements to a large proportion of its citizens there come a day of reckoning.

    The vote on the Brexit was that day. The people of England registered their lack of faith in the fairness of The Game.

    We are about to see an acceleration of big things coming apart. In America this July such things will be televised live during the Democratic and Republican party conventions.Cleveland and Philadelphia may never be the same again. Both parties have doubled-down on on insanity and are ready to explode.

    REPUBLICANS EXPLODE
    The Republicans are ready to nominate a bankrupt sideshow barker as president. His tools are expressing xenophobia and bluster. Much of party apparatchiks are willing to join a Nazi inspired festival if it means winning.

    Notice though, the rats deserting the ship to embrace Clinton.

    Right-wing pundit George Will has pledged to vote for Hillary Clinton. He's not alone.

    So has Henry Paulson (George Bush's Treasury Secretary and former Goldman Sachs chief exec) has rushed to her side as well.

    So has Brent Scowcraft endorsed Hillary Clinton (a Republican who served as National Security Adviser to former presidents Gerald Ford and George H.W. Bush).

    So have many more. 

    The smoke is in the air and when the Republican National Convention takes place in Cleveland, Ohio the flames will be licking at the structure of the Grand Old Party.

    DEMOCRATS SELL SOUL TO DEVIL
    As the Republicans find no more rightside to go to they have left a lot of ground for the Democrats to take easily. Clinton is leading them to a new Republican Party. In preparation she she has wooed and been wooed by the Goldman Sachs crowd to the tune of a dozen speeches at 300k each. She a banksters wet dream.

    Moreover she is a hawk's hawk. Clinton's trail of death and failure in the Middle East is the legacy of her unflinching support of Israeli militarism. Hillary will extend the perpetual Mideast War we've been in since 1991. Clinton's also pushing hard against Russia over the Ukraine, comparing Vladimir Putin to Hitler.

    She's also making the Pacific Pivot to push hard on China and North Korea to establish America's "Pacific Century".

    The Democratic National Committee, under the leadership of Clinton follower Debbie Wasserman-Schultz, has ignored Bernie Sanders' issues and endorsed fracking, the TPP and Israeli Occupation of Palestine. See (http://islandbreath.blogspot.com/2016/06/betraying-bern.html).

    Hillary is a Republican in Democrat's pantsuit.

    BOTTOM LINE > VOTE FOR STEIN
    Jill Stein (http://www.jill2016.com/) is running for US President for the Green Party and will be on the ballot in Hawaii and a dozen other states. Although she is unlikely to win she represents our sentiments and beliefs.

    These are the core values of the Green Party:

    Grassroots Democracy
    Every human being deserves a say in the decisions that affect their lives; no one should be subject to the will of another. Therefore we will work to increase public participation at every level of government and to ensure that our public representatives are fully accountable to the people who elect them. We will also work to create new types of political ]organizations that expand the process of participatory democracy by ]directly including citizens in the decision-making process.

    Ecological Wisdom
    Human societies must operate with the understanding that we are part of nature, not separate from nature. We must maintain an ecological balance and live within the ecological and resource limits of our communities and our planet. We support a sustainable society that utilizes resources in such a way that future generations will benefit and not suffer from the practices of our generation. To this end we must have agricultural practices that replenish the soil; move to an energy efficient economy; and live in ways that respect the integrity of natural systems.

    Social Justice and Equal Opportunity
    All persons should have the rights and opportunity to benefit equally from the resources afforded us by society and the environment. We must consciously confront in ourselves, our organizations, and society at large, barriers such as racism and class oppression, sexism and heterosexism, ageism and disability, which act to deny fair treatment and equal justice under the law.

    Nonviolence
    It is essential that we develop effective alternatives to our current patterns of violence at all levels, from the family and the streets, to nations and the world. We will work to demilitarize our society and eliminate weapons of mass destruction, without being naive about the intentions of other governments. We recognize the need for self-defense and the defense of others who are in helpless situations. We promote nonviolent methods to oppose practices and policies with which we disagree, and will guide our actions toward lasting personal, community and global peace.

    Decentralization
    Centralization of wealth and power contributes to social and economic injustice, environmental destruction, and militarization. Therefore, we support a restructuring of social, political and economic institutions away from a system that is controlled by and mostly benefits the powerful few, to a democratic, less bureaucratic system. Decision-making should, as much as possible, remain at the individual and local level, while assuring that civil rights are protected for all citizens.

    Community Based Economics
    We recognize it is essential to create a vibrant and sustainable economic system, one that can create jobs and provide a decent standard of living, for all people, while maintaining a healthy ecological balance. A successful economic system will offer meaningful work with dignity, while paying a "living wage" which reflects the real value of a person's work. Local communities must look to economic development that assures protection of the environment and workers' rights, broad citizen participation in planning, and enhancement of our "quality of life". We support independently owned and operated companies which are socially responsible, as well as co-operatives and public enterprises that spread out resources and control to more people through democratic participation.

    Feminism
    We have inherited a social system based on male domination of politics and economics. We call for the replacement of the cultural ethics of domination and control, with more cooperative ways of interacting which respect differences of opinion and gender. Human values such as equity between the -sexes, interpersonal responsibility, and honesty must be developed with moral conscience. We should remember that the process that determines our decisions and actions is just as important as achieving the outcome we want.

    Respect for Diversity
    We believe it is important to value cultural, ethnic, racial, sexual, religious and spiritual diversity, and to promote the development of respectful relationships across these lines. We believe the many diverse elements of society should be reflected in our organizations and decision-making bodies, and we support the leadership of people who have been traditionally closed out of leadership roles. We acknowledge and encourage respect for other life forms and the preservation of biodiversity.

    Personal and Global responsibility
    We encourage individuals to act to improve their personal well being and, at the same time, to enhance ecological balance and social harmony. We seek to join with people and organizations around the world to foster peace, economic justice, and the health of the planet.

    Future Focus and Sustainability
    Our actions and policies should be motivated by long-term goals. We seek to protect valuable natural resources, safely disposing of or "unmaking" all waste we create, while developing a sustainable economics that does not depend on continual expansion for survival. We must counter-balance the drive for short-term profits by assuring that economic development, new technologies, and fiscal policies are responsible to future generations who will inherit the results of our actions. Our overall goal is not merely to survive, but to share lives that are truly worth living. We believe the quality of our individual lives is enriched by the quality of all of our lives. We encourage everyone to see the dignity and intrinsic worth in all of life, and to take the time to understand and appreciate themselves, their community and the magnificent beauty of this world.


    Video above: Jill Stein on "The Two Party System is Broken" from her website. From (https://youtu.be/2NjkCfjU-FY).

    .

    Betraying the Bern!

    SUBHEAD: Clinton DNC appointees back platform that includes fracking, TPP and Israel Occupation.

    By Lauren McCauly on 25 June 2016 for Common Dreams -
    (http://www.commondreams.org/news/2016/06/25/betraying-progressives-dnc-platform-backs-fracking-tpp-and-israel-occupation)


    Image above: Members of the Democratic party Platform Committee, including (from left to right) American Federation of State, County, and Muncipal Employees executive assistant to the president, Paul Booth, U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.), former White House Energy and Climate Change Policy director Carol Browner, and Palestinian rights academic James Zogby. From original article.

    Despite its claims to want to unify voters ahead of November's election, the Democratic party appears to be pushing for an agenda that critics say ignores basic progressive policies, "staying true" to their Corporate donors above all else.

    During a 9-hour meeting in St. Louis, Missouri on Friday, members of the DNC's platform drafting committee voted down a number of measures proposed by Bernie Sanders surrogates that would have come out against the contentious Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), fracking, and the Israeli occupation of Palestine. At the same time, proposals to support a carbon tax, Single Payer healthcare, and a $15 minimum wage tied to inflation were also disregarded.

    In a statement, Sanders said he was "disappointed and dismayed" that representatives of Hillary Clinton and DNC chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schulz rejected the proposal on trade put forth by Sanders appointee Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.), despite the fact that the presumed nominee has herself come out against the 12-nation deal.

    "Inexplicable" was how Sanders described the move, adding:
    "It is hard for me to understand why Secretary Clinton’s delegates won’t stand behind Secretary Clinton’s positions in the party’s platform."
    The panel also rejected amendments suggested by 350.org co-founder Bill McKibben, another Sanders pick, that would have imposed a carbon tax, declared a national moratorium on fracking as well as new fossil fuel drilling leases on federal lands and waters.

    "This is not a political problem of the sort that we are used to dealing with," McKibben stated during the marathon debate. "Most political problems yield well to the formula that we’ve kept adopting on thing after thing—compromise, we’ll go halfway, we’ll get part of this done. That’s because most political problems are really between different groups of people. They’re between industry and environmentalists. That is not the case here."

    "Former U.S. Representative Howard Berman, American Federation of State, County, and Muncipal Employees executive assistant to the president, Paul Booth, former White House Energy and Climate Change Policy director Carol Browner, Ohio State Representative Alicia Reece, former State Department official Wendy Sherman, and Center for American Progress President Neera Tanden all raised their hands to prevent a moratorium from becoming a part of the platform," noted Shadowproof's Kevin Gosztola.

    According to Gosztola's reporting on the exchange, Dr. Cornel West lambasted the aforementioned panel members, particularly Browner, for "endorsing reform incrementalism" in the face of an urgent planetary crisis.

    "When you’re on the edge of the abyss or when you’re on that stove, to use the language of Malcolm X, you don’t use the language of incrementalism. It hurts, and the species is hurting," West said.
    Other progressive policies were adopted piecemeal, such as the $15 minimum wage, which the committee accepted but without the amendment put forth by Ellison that would have indexed the wage to inflation.

    The panel did vote unanimously to back a proposal to abolish the death penalty and adopted language calling for breaking up too-big-to-fail banks and enacting a modern-day Glass-Steagall Act—measures that Sanders said he was "pleased" about.

    According to AP, the final discussion "centered on the Israel-Palestinian conflict."

    "The committee defeated an amendment by Sanders supporter James Zogby that would have called for providing Palestinians with 'an end to occupation and illegal settlements' and urged an international effort to rebuild Gaza," AP reports, measures which Zogby said Sanders helped craft.

    Instead, AP reports, the adopted draft "advocates working toward a 'two-state solution of the Israel-Palestinian conflict' that guarantees Israel's security with recognized borders 'and provides the Palestinians with independence, sovereignty, and dignity.'"

    Citing these "moral failures" of the platform draft, West abstained during the final vote to send the document to review by the full Platform Committee next month in Orlando, Florida.

    "If we can't say a word about TPP, if we can't talk about Medicare-for-All explicitly, if the greatest prophetic voice dealing with pending ecologically catastrophe can hardly win a vote, and if we can't even acknowledge occupation... it seems there is no way in good conscience I can say, 'Take it to the next stage,'" West declared before the assembly.

    "I wasn't raised like that," he said. "I have to abstain. I have no other moral option, it would be a violation of my own limited sense of moral integrity and spiritual conscience," adding, "That's how I roll."
    .

    Understanding Brexit

    SUBHEAD: The powerless of Great Britain press their thumbs in the eyes of the power elites.

    By harles Hugh Smith on 26 June 2016 for of The Minds -
    (http://charleshughsmith.blogspot.co.uk/2016/06/understanding-brexit-powerless-press.html)


    Image above: American and British elites, like Tweedledee and Tweedleddum, speak with one voice through two mouths - one the Republican/Conservative and the other Democrat/Labor. Image is still from Walt Disney "Alice in Wonderland". From original article.

    The sense of having a real say, and possessing actual agency, is very empowering, and very rare, for members of the lower-middle class and the working class today.

    The premier strategy for retaining power is to give the powerless a carefully managed illusion of decision-making and autonomy. Having a say over one's life and choices is called agency, and it is the illusion of agency that makes democracy such a powerful tool of control.

    The second most effective means of maintaining power is to limit the choices offered the powerless. Offering the powerless false choices, i.e. the choice between two functionally equivalent options, provides the comforting illusion of agency while insuring that the status quo Power Elite remains in charge, regardless of the choice made by the powerless.

    For example, give the powerless a choice between Tweedle-Dum (Republicans/Tories) and Tweedle-Dee (Democrats/Labour). Whomever they elect, the self-serving Power Elite of entrenched interests and wealth remains firmly in charge, for the Power Elite speaks with one voice through two mouths, one Establishment Democrat/Labour, the other Establishment Republican/Tory.

    If the powerless get restless, make them fearful. This is easily managed via external threats and dramatic predictions of economic doom should the Power Elite be threatened.

    If fear has lost its edge due to over-use, then whip up social controversies that divide and conquer the powerless. Divisive, hot-button social controversies are easily staged and media-managed; these serve to distract and fragment the powerless in endless culture wars.

    The powerless get very few opportunities to express their dissatisfaction with their gradual impoverishment and powerlessness, and few opportunities to register their disapproval of the Power Elite. They know complaints go nowhere, petitions are ignored, and demonstrations accomplish nothing.

    So when a rare chance to stick a thumb in the eye of the Power Elite comes along, they take it. The Brexit vote was just such an opportunity.

    Though the benefits that flowed from membership in the European Union may well have been substantial, many people did not have any direct experience of those benefits, which largely flowed to a handful of privileged classes: young, well-educated workers in finance, people who bought housing in London before the huge run-up in valuations, and workers providing services to the wealthy foreigners and highly paid financial professionals.

    Many households have seen their quality of life and living standards stagnate or decay during the U.K.'s membership in the E.U. The benefits touted by the Power Elite are either illusory or too modest to matter to these households, and their rage has only grown as the Power Elite tried to browbeat them into approving a membership that yielded no benefits to their households.

    The Power Elite simply repeated what has worked well for 60+ years: tout the systemic benefits of E.U. membership, confident in the belief that some of these benefits have trickled down to the lower economic classes, and stoke fears of economic decline if the Powers That Be don't get their way.

    Unfortunately for the Power Elite, the benefits of E.U. membership, financialization and globalization have been concentrated at the top of the pyramid: the already wealthy got wealthier, and the young, well-educated, mobile, entrepreneurial class had enhanced opportunities to generate private wealth or at least secure an excellent salary.

    A third privileged (i.e. protected) class includes all those benefiting from direct E.U. subsidies.

    Those outside these classes saw little if any benefit.

    The slow decay of living standards and social mobility was crystallized into anger by the Brexit vote, which was intended to be yet another rigged, illusory choice. The masses were supposed to be persuaded by either the list of goodies that flowed from membership or from fear-mongering about the catastrophic consequences of Brexit.

    But neither worked as planned: the benefits were too diffuse or too concentrated in the hands of a few to be persuasive in terms of self-interest, and the fear-mongering only increased awareness of how much the Power Elite wanted a Remain outcome.

    Will Brexit hurt the classes that did not directly benefit from E.U. membership?Perhaps.

    Perhaps it was not in their self-interest to vote for Brexit. But the immeasurable pleasure in depriving the Power Elite of their "democracy" legitimacy was worth any potential sacrifice.

    The sense of having a real say, and possessing actual agency, is very empowering, and very rare, for members of the lower-middle class and the working class today. the wealthy and powerful are accustomed to vetoing anything that impairs their wealth or power, and they're accustomed to either winning over or distracting the powerless.

    Thus it was a shock when the powerless took the rare opportunity to stick a thumb in the eye of the Power Elite by depriving them of something they wanted.

    is this childish, or self-defeating? Perhaps. But when the system erodes a citizenry's sense of agency, they have little to lose by relishing the chance to use the same power the wealthy constantly wield without any qualm or hesitancy: the power to say "no."



    .

    Death to All Zombies!

    SUBHEAD: Once this contagion starts burning, the people-in-charge won’t be able to quell it the way they did last time.

    By James Kunstler on 27 June 2016 for Kunstler.com -
    (http://kunstler.com/clusterfuck-nation/death-to-all-zombies/)


    Image above: Zombie banker (zombanker) explaining capitalism. From (http://theotherdarkmeat.blogspot.com/2014/02/swagswagsswagswagswag.html).

    Wait a minute. They’re already dead. Brexit just reveals that not everybody’s brains have been eaten. A viral contagion now threatens the zombified institutions of daily life, especially the workings of politics and finance.

    Just as zombies exist only in the collective imagination, so do these two principal activities of society operate mainly on trust, an ephemeral product of the hive-mind.

    When things fall apart in stressed complex systems, they tend to fall apart fast. It’s called phase change. Too many things in 21st century life have depended on sheer trust that the people-in-charge know what they are doing.

    That trust has subsisted on the doling out of money-from-nothing: debt, reckless bond issuance. TARP, QEs, bailouts, bail-ins, Operation Twists, Ponzi schemes… the whole sad-ass armamentarium of banking necromancy. The politicians let it get out of hand. Things that can’t go on don’t, and now they won’t.

    The politics of Great Britain are now falling apart landslide-style. Since just about everybody in or near power can be blamed for the national predicament, there’s nobody to turn to, at least not yet. The Labour party just acted out The Caine Mutiny, starring Jeremy Corbyn as Captain Queeg.

    The Tory Cameron gave three months notice without any plausible replacement in view. Now Cameron’s people are hinting in the media that they can just drag their feet on Brexit, that is, not do anything to enable it from actually happening for a while.

    Of course, that’s what the monkeyshines of banking and finance have done: postponed the inevitable reckoning with the realities of our time: growing resource scarcity, population overshoot, climate change, ecological holocaust, and the diminishing returns of technology.

    Britain illustrates the problem nicely: how to produce “wealth” without producing wealth. It’s called “the City,” their name for the little district of London that is their Wall Street.

    In the absence of producing real things, the City became the driver of the UK’s economy, a ghastly parasitical organism that functioned as the central transfer station for the world’s swindles and frauds, churning the West’s dwindling residual capital into a slurry of fees, commissions, arbitrages, rigged casino bets, and rip-offs.

    In the process, it enabled the European Central Bank (ECB) to run the con-job that the European Union (EU) became, with the fatal distortions of credit that have put its members into a ditch and sent the private European banks off a cliff, Thelma and Louise style.

    The next stage of this protean global melodrama is what happens when currencies and interest rates become completely unglued from their assigned roles as patsies in financial racketeering.

    Sooner or later we’ll know what’s going on in the vast shadowy gloaming of “derivatives,” especially the “innovative” arrangements that affect to be “insurance” against losses in currency and interest rate “positions” — bets made on the movements of these things.

    When currencies rise or fall quickly, these so-called “swaps” are “triggered,” and then some hapless institution is left holding a big bag of dog-shit. A zombie is a terrible thing to behold, but a zombie holding a bag of dog-shit is like unto the end of the world.

    Once this contagion starts burning, the people-in-charge won’t be able to quell it the way they did last time: by drowning it in torrents of money-from-nowhere. At least not without inducing real-deal inflation, the kind that leads to epochal ruin and more intense political upheaval: the nation-changing kind.

    We’re about five minutes away from that in the USA already, with the loathsome duo of Hillary and Trump putting on a Punch and Judy show for a disgusted public.

    If nothing else, Hillary and Trump represent the withering of political trust in America. The parties that spawned them are also whirling around the drain of credibility. They won’t survive in the form we knew them.

    Who knows what comes out of this vacuum, what rough beast slouches towards Washington.

    .

    Globalization & the American Dream

    SUBHEAD: If it the American Dream isn't working for them, why should it work for their children?

    By H. Norberg-Hodge and S Gorelick on 27 May 12016 for Local Futures -
    (http://www.localfutures.org/globalization-american-dream)


    Image above: Two toddlers fascinated with handheld media rather than each other. From (http://www.benzinga.com/analyst-ratings/analyst-color/13/09/3924041/is-apples-iphone-5c-the-first-iphone-for-kids-aapl).

    “… America is a new kind of society that produces a new kind of human being. That human being – confident, self-reliant, tolerant, generous, future-oriented – is a vast improvement over the wretched, servile, fatalistic and intolerant human being that traditional societies have always produced.”
    — Dinesh D’Souza, What’s So Great About America

    Implicit in all the rhetoric promoting globalization is the premise that the rest of the world can and should be brought up to the standard of living of the West, and America in particular. For much of the world the American Dream – though a constantly moving target – is globalization’s ultimate endpoint.

    But if this is the direction globalization is taking the world, it is worth examining where America itself is headed. A good way to do so is to take a hard look at America’s children, since so many features of the global monoculture have been in place their whole lives. If the American Dream isn’t working for them, why should anyone, anywhere, believe it will work for their own children?

    As it turns out, children in the US are far from “confident, self-reliant, tolerant, generous, and future-oriented”. One indication of this is that more than 8.3 million American children and adolescents require psychiatric drugs; over 2 million are on anti-depressants, and another 2 million are on anti-anxiety drugs.

    The age groups for which these drugs are prescribed is shockingly young: nearly half a million children 0-3 years old are taking drugs to combat anxiety.[1]

    Most people in the ‘less developed’ world will find it hard to imagine how a toddler could be so anxiety-ridden that they need psychiatric help.

     Equally difficult to fathom are many other symptoms of social breakdown among America’s children. Eating disorders, for example: the incidence of anorexia, bulimia and other eating disorders has doubled since the 1960s, and girls are developing these problems at younger and younger ages.[2]

    If eating disorders are the bane of America’s young girls, violence is a more common problem for its boys. Consider the fact that there have been more than 150 school shootings in the US since 1990, claiming 165 lives. The youngest killer? A six-year old boy.[3]

    Sometimes the violence is directed inward, with suicide the result. In America today, suicide is the third leading cause of death for 15- to 24-year olds. In 2013, 17 percent of US high school students seriously considered suicide during the preceding year.[4]

    What has made America’s children so insecure and troubled?

    A number of causes are surely involved, most of which can be linked to the global economy.  For example, as corporations scour the world for bigger subsidies and lower costs, jobs move with them, and families as well: the typical American moves eleven times during their life, repeatedly severing connections with relatives, neighbors and friends.[5]

    Within almost every family, the economic pressures on parents systematically rob them of time with even their own children. Americans put in longer hours than workers in any other industrialized country, with many breadwinners working two or more jobs just to make ends meet.[6]

    Increasing numbers of women are in the workforce, so there are no adults left at home; young children are relegated to day-care centers, while older children are left in the company of video games, the Internet, or the corporate sponsors of their favorite television shows.

    According to a 2010 study of American children, the average 8- to 10-year old spends nearly eight hours a day with various media; older children and teenagers spend more than 11 hours a day with media. Not surprisingly, time spent in nature – something essential for our well-being – has all but disappeared: only 10 percent of American children spend time outside on a daily basis.[7]

    America’s screen-obsessed children no longer have flesh-and-blood role models – parents and grandparents, aunts and uncles, friends and neighbors – to look up to. Instead they have media and advertising images: rakish movie stars and music idols, steroid-enhanced athletes and airbrushed supermodels.

    Children who strive to emulate the manufactured ‘perfection’ of these role models are left feeling insecure and inadequate. This is one reason cosmetic surgery is on the increase among America’s children.

    According to the President of the American Academy for Facial Plastic Surgery, “the more consumers are inundated with celebrity images via social media, the more they want to replicate the enhanced, re-touched images that are passed off as reality.” What’s more, he adds, “we are seeing a younger demographic than ever before.”[8]

    It seems clear that what is often called ‘American culture’ is no longer a product of the American people: it is instead an artificial consumer culture created and projected by corporate advertising and media. This consumer culture is fundamentally different from the diverse cultures that for millennia were shaped by climate, topography, and the local biota – by a dialogue between humans and the natural world.

    This is a new phenomenon, something that has never happened before: a culture determined by technological and economic forces, rather than human and ecological needs. It is not surprising that American children, many of whom seem to ‘have everything’, are so unhappy: like their parents, their teachers and their peers, they have been put on a treadmill that is ever more stressful and competitive, ever more meaningless and lonely.

    As the globalization juggernaut continues to advance, the number of victims worldwide is growing exponentially. Millions of children from Mongolia to Patagonia are today targeted by a fanatical and fundamentalist campaign to bring them into the consumer culture. The cost is massive in terms of self-rejection, psychological breakdown and violence.

    Like American children they are bombarded with sophisticated marketing messages telling them that this brand of make-up will inch them closer to perfection, that this brand of sneakers will make them more like their sports hero.

    But in the global South – where the ideal is often blue-eyed, blonde, and Western – children are even more vulnerable. It’s no wonder that sales of dangerous bleach to lighten the skin, and contact lenses advertised as ‘the color of eyes you wish you were born with’, are booming across the South.[9]

    This psychological impoverishment is accompanied by a massive rise in material poverty. Even though more than 46 million Americans – nearly 15 percent of the population – live in poverty,[10]
     globalization aims to replicate the American model of development across the global South.

    Among the results are the elimination of small farmers and the gutting of rural communities, with hundreds of millions of people drawn into sweatshops or unemployment in rapidly growing urban slums. Meanwhile, many of those whose ways of life are threatened by the forces of globalization are turning to fundamentalism, even terrorism.

    The central hope of the American Dream – that our children will have a better life than we do – seems to have vanished. Many people, in fact, no longer believe that our children really have any future at all.

    Nonetheless policymakers insist that globalization is bringing a better world for everyone. How can there be such a gap between the cheerleading rhetoric and the lives of real people?

    Part of the disconnect results from the way globalization’s promoters measure ‘progress’. The shallowest definition compares the modern consumer cornucopia with what was available 50 or 100 years ago – as though electronic gadgets and plastic gewgaws are synonymous with happiness and fulfillment.

    More often the baseline for comparison is the Dickensian period of the early industrial revolution, when exploitation and deprivation, pollution and squalor were rampant. From this starting point, our child-labor laws and 40-hour workweek look like real progress. Similarly, the baseline in the global South is the immediate post-colonial period, with its uprooted cultures, poverty, over-population and political instability.

    Based on the misery of these contrived starting points, political leaders can argue that our technologies and our economic system have brought a far better world into being, and that globalization will bring similar benefits to the “wretched, servile, fatalistic and intolerant human beings” in the remaining ‘undeveloped’ parts of the world.

    In reality, however, globalization is a continuation of a broad process that started with the age of conquest and colonialism in the South and the enclosures and the Industrial Revolution in the North. From then on a single economic system has relentlessly expanded, taking over other cultures, other peoples’ resources and labor. Far from elevating those people from poverty, the globalizing economic system has systematically impoverished them.

    If there is to be any hope of a better world, it is vital that we connect the dots between ‘progress’ and poverty. Erasing other cultures – replacing them with an artificial culture created by corporations and the media they control – can only lead to an increase in social breakdown and poverty.

    Even in the narrowest economic terms, globalization means continuing to rob, rather than enrich, the majority. According to a recent report by Oxfam, the world’s richest 62 people now have more wealth than the poorest half of the global population combined. Their assets have risen by more than $500 billion since 2010, while the bottom 3.5 billion people have become poorer by $1 trillion.[11]

    This is globalization at work.

    While globalization systematically widens the gap between rich and poor, attempting in the name of equity to globalize the American standard of living is a fool’s errand. The earth is finite, and global economic activity has already outstripped the planet’s ability to provide resources and absorb wastes.

    When the average American uses 32 times more resources and produces 32 times more waste than the average resident of the global South, it is a criminal hoax to promise that development can enable everyone to live the American Dream.[12]

    The spread of globalization has been profoundly destructive to people’s ability to survive in their own cultures, in their own place on the earth. It has even been destructive to those considered to be its most privileged beneficiaries.

     Continuing down this corporate-determined path will only lead to further social, psychological and environmental breakdown. Whether they know it or not, America’s children are telling us we need to go in a very different direction.
    Image: mojzagrebinfo/ CC BY 2.0

    [1] CCHR International, “Number of Children & Adolescents Taking Psychiatric Drugs in the U.S.”. Based on 2013 data. https://www.cchrint.org/psychiatric-drugs/children-on-psychiatric-drugs/

    [2] National Association of Social Workers (NASW), “Eating Disorders Current Trends”, June 30, 2005, http://www.helpstartshere.org/mind-spirit/eating-disorders/eating-disorders-current-trends.html; Favaro, A., et al, “Time trends in age at onset of anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa”, Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, Dec. 2009. Abstract at http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20141711

    [3] BallotPedia, “United States School Shootings, 1990-present”, https://ballotpedia.org/United_States_school_shootings,_1990-present; Rosenblatt, Roger, “The Killing of Kayla”, Time magazine, March 5, 2000, http://content.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,40342,00.html

    [4] American Academy of Pediatrics, “Teen Suicide Statistics”, https://www.healthychildren.org/English/health-issues/conditions/emotional-problems/Pages/Teen-Suicide-Statistics.aspx; Centers for Disease Control, “Suicide Facts at a Glance 2015”, http://www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention/pdf/suicide-datasheet-a.pdf

    [5] Chalabi, Mona, “How Many Times Does the Average Person Move?”, FiveThirtyEight, January 29, 2015, http://fivethirtyeight.com/datalab/how-many-times-the-average-person-moves/

    [6] Schabner, Dean, “Americans Work More Than Anyone”, ABC News, May 1, 2016, http://abcnews.go.com/US/story?id=93364&page=1

    [7] Brody, Jane, “Screen Addiction is Taking a Toll on Children”, The New York Times, July 6, 2015, http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2015/07/06/screen-addiction-is-taking-a-toll-on-children/?_r=0; The Nature Conservancy, “Kids These Days”, http://www.nature.org/newsfeatures/kids-in-nature/kids-in-nature-poll.xml

    [8] “New 2015 Stats: Face of Plastic Surgery Goes Younger Due to Growing Social Media and Relity TV Influence on Millenials”, American Academy of Facial Plastic Surgery and Reconstructive Surgery, January 14, 2016. http://www.aafprs.org/media/stats_polls/m_stats.html

    [9] Prolongeau, Hubert, “India’s skin-whitening creams highlight a complex over darker complexions”, The Guardian, July 24, 2015, http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/jul/24/dark-skin-india-prejudice-whitening

    [10] US Census Bureau, “Poverty: 2014 Highlights”, https://www.census.gov/hhes/www/poverty/about/overview/

    [11] Oxfam International, “62 people own the same as half the world, reveals Oxfam Davos report”, January 18, 2016, https://www.oxfam.org/en/pressroom/pressreleases/2016-01-18/62-people-own-same-half-world-reveals-oxfam-davos-report

    [12] Diamond, Jared, “What’s Your Consumption Factor?”, New York Times, January 2, 2008, http://www.nytimes.com/2008/01/02/opinion/02diamond.html

    .

    Brexit - the system cannot hold

    SUBHEAD: If the Brexit vote shows us one thing, it's that were at the finish of a dead end street.

    By Raul Ilargi Meijer on 24 June 2016 for the Automatic Earth -
    (http://www.theautomaticearth.com/2016/06/brexit-the-system-cannot-hold/)


    Image above: David Cameron demanding Brits vote against exiting the European Union. From (http://www.express.co.uk/news/uk/618841/David-Cameron-European-Union-Leaders-Mark-Rutte-Nigel-Farage-Theresa-May-Brexit-referendum).

    Well, they did it. A majority of Britons made clear they’re so fed up with David Cameron and everything he says or does, including promoting the EU, that they voted against that EU. They detest Cameron much more than they like Nigel Farage or Boris Johnson. It seems that everyone has underestimated that.

    Cameron just announced he’s stepping down. And that points to a very large hole in the ground somewhere in London town. Because going through a list of potential leaders, you get the strong impression there are none left. Not to run the country, and not to negotiate anything with Brussels. Which has a deep leadership -credibility- hole of itself, even though the incumbents are completely blind to that.

    But first Britain. The Leave victory was as much a vote against Chancellor George Osborne as it was against Cameron. So Osborne is out as potential leader of the Conservatives. Boris Johnson? Not nearly enough people like him, and he fumbled his side of the Leave campaign so badly his credibility, though perhaps not being fully shot, is far too much of an uncertainty for the Tories to enter the upcoming inevitable general elections with.

    Who else is there? Michael Gove? Absolute suicide. Likeability factor of zero Kelvin. That bus these guys drove around which proclaimed they could get £350 million extra a year for the NHS health care system in case of a Brexit will come back to haunt all of them. Just about the first thing Farage said earlier when the win became clear, was that the £350 million was a mistake.

    I guess you could mention Theresa May, who apparently wants the post, but she’s an integral part of the Cameron clique and can’t be presented as the fresh start the party so badly needs.

    Talking about Farage, who’s not Tory, but Ukip, he’s done what he set out to do, and that means the end of the line for him. He could, and will, call for a national unity government, but there is no such unity. He got voted out of a job today -he is/was a member of the European Parliament- and Ukip has only one seat in the British parliament, so he’s a bit tragic today. There is no place nor need for a UK Independence Party when the UK is already independent.

    Then there’s Labour, who failed to reach their own constituency, which subsequently voted with Farage et al, and who stood right alongside Cameron for Remain, with ‘leader’ Jeremy Corbyn reduced to the role of a curiously mumbling movie extra. So Corbyn is out.

    Shadow finance minister John McDonnell has aspirations, but he’s a firm Remain guy as well, and that happens to have been voted down. Labour has failed in a terrible fashion, and they better acknowledge it or else. But they already had a very hard time just coming up with Corbyn last time around, and the next twist won’t be any easier.

    Cameron, Osborne, Corbyn, they have all failed to connect with their people. This is not some recent development. Nor is it a British phenomenon, support for traditional parties is crumbling away everywhere in the western world.

    The main reason for this is a fast fading economy, which all politicians just try to hide from their people, but which those same people get hit by every single day.

    A second reason is that politicians of traditional parties are not perceived as standing up for either their people nor their societies, but as a class in themselves.

    In Britain, there now seems to be a unique opportunity to organize a movement like (Unidos) Podemos in Spain, the European Union’s next big headache coming up in a few days. Podemos is proof that this can be done fast, and there’s a big gaping hole to fill.

    Much of what’s next in politics may be pre-empted in the markets. Though it’s hard to say where it all leads, this morning there’s obviously a lot of panic, short covering etc going on, fact is that as I write this, Germany’s DAX index loses 6% (-16.3% YoY), France’s CAC is down 7.7% (-18.5%) and Spain’s IBEX no less than 10.3% (-30%). Ironically, the losses in Britain’s FTSE are ‘only’ 4.5% (-11%).
    These are numbers that can move entire societies, countries and political systems. But we’ll see. Currency moves are already abating, and on the 22nd floor of a well-protected building in Basel, all of the relevant central bankers in the world are conspiring to buy whatever they can get their hands on. Losses will be big but can perhaps be contained up to a point, and tomorrow is Saturday.

    By the way, from a purely legal point of view, Cameron et al could try and push aside the referendum, which is not legally binding. I got only one thing on that: please let them try.

    As an aside, wouldn’t it be a great irony if the England soccer (football) team now go on to win the Euro Cup? Or even Wales, which voted massively against the EU?

    Finally, this was of course not a vote about the -perhaps not so- United Kingdom, it was a vote about the EU. But the only thing we can expect from Brussels and all the 27 remaining capitals is damage control and more high handedness. It’s all the Junckers and Tusks and Schäubles and Dijsselbloems are capable of anymore.

    But it’s they, as much as David Cameron, who were voted down today. And they too should draw their conclusions, or this becomes not even so much about credibility as it becomes about sheer relevance.

    Even well before there will be negotiations with whoever represents Britain by the time it happens, the Brussels court circle will be confronted with a whole slew of calls for referendums in other member states. The cat is out of Pandora’s bag, and the genie out of her bottle.

    Many of the calls will come from the far-right, but it’s Brussels itself that created the space for these people to operate in. I’ve said it before, the EU does not prevent the next battle in Europe, it will create it. EC head Donald Tusk’s statement earlier today was about strengthening the union with the remaining 27 nations. As if Britain were the only place where people want out…

    Holland, France, Denmark, Italy, Spain, Hungary, they will all have calls for referendums. Greece already had one a year ago. The center cannot hold. Nor can the system. If referendums were held in all remaining 27 EU member states, the union would be a lot smaller the next morning. The Unholy Union depends on people not getting a say.

    The overwhelming underlying principle that we see at work here is that centralization is dead, because the economy has perished. Or at least the growth of the economy has, which is the same in a system that relies on perpetual growth to ‘function’.

    But that is something we can be sure no politician or bureaucrat or economist is willing to acknowledge. They’re all going to continue to claim that their specific theories and plans are capable of regenerating the growth the system depends on. Only to see them fail.

    It’s high time for something completely different, because we’re on a dead end street. If the Brexit vote shows us one thing, it’s that. But that is not what people -wish to- see.

    Unfortunately, the kinds of wholesale changes needed now hardly ever take place in a peaceful manner. I guess that’s my main preoccupation right now.
    Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
    Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
    The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
    The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
    Yeats

    .

    Hooser Survey Report

    SUBHEAD: From Kekaha to Haena, 21,000 voters asked their opinion in issues facing Kauai.

    By Gary Hooser on 24 June 2016 in Island Breath -
    (http://islandbreath.blogspot.com/2016/06/hooser-survey-report.html)


    Image above: Infrastructure and growth problems on Kauai. Jammed up traffic on the Kuhio Highway in Kapaa, is bumper to bumper and the only way in town. From (http://dakinetalk.blogspot.com/2015/02/imagine-james-kimo-rosen-solution-to.html).

    From Haena to Kekaha, over 21,000 registered voters on Kauai were recently sent out a comprehensive “Important Kauai Issues Survey” and the results are fascinating.

    Because there are so many issues and so many diverse people and opinion in our community I decided to reach out in a comprehensive effort to determine what the average Kauai resident actually feels and thinks about some of the important issues of the day.

    I wanted to offer all Kauai registered voters from all parts of the community an equal opportunity to offer their thoughts and concerns.  The survey allowed anonymity providing all with the opportunity to speak freely and frankly about issues important to them.

    So during the month of May I mailed a single page of questions directly to over 21,000 registered voter households on Kauai, representing every single voting household in our community.  Due to the scale of the effort a very small number of households reported not receiving a survey.  A limited limited on-line version was also offered for a very short period.

    Nearly 1,000 registered voters responded to the direct mail effort yielding a 4.5% response rate.  Respondents were required to pay their own return postage and were allowed to be anonymous.  Responses came in from every single community from the far west to the far north.

    The survey questions include topics dealing with growth, climate change, food sustainability, park maintenance, pesticide regulation, the dairy proposed on Kauai’s south shore, B&B regulations, farm tours, taxes, drug treatment and affordable housing.

    Some of the key “takeaways”:
    • 91% of Kauai residents favor limitations on growth tied to infrastructure. 
    • 58% favor allowing B&B’s on all parts of the island. 
    • 74% believe the visitor industry is not paying its fair share. 
    • 91% favor allowing small farms to conduct “farm tours” to supplement income. 
    • 81% of respondents support the increased regulation of pesticides. 
    • 75% are opposed to the dairy proposed for Kauai’s south side.
    Other questions involving parks maintenance, climate change, food self sufficiency and traffic are also included.

    Complete survey detail and a tabulation of the results is available at (http://garyhooser.com/kauai-issue-survey/) and the raw data is available for review by any student group or community organization that would like to conduct further analysis.

    The survey was paid for by my campaign organization Friends of Gary Hooser. I am available and would love to speak with any group who wish to delve deeper into the issues raised and/or develop policy initiatives reflecting the community consensus expressed by the survey.

    • Gary Hooser is a longtime member of the Kauai County Council and is supported in his bid for reelection by IslandBreath.org
    .