NYPD steer drunks to OWS

SOURCE: Curtis Ellis (http://twitter.com/#!/curtisellis)
SUBHEAD: Those found drinking in city parks are told by officers to "take it to Zuccotti," the Daily News reports.

By Justin Elliott on 31 October 2011 for Salon - 

Image above: Mounted police officers near Zuccotti Park in lower Manhattan. From original article.
There’s a bombshell allegation buried in this story from Sunday’s Daily News: The NYPD is reportedly telling drunks to hang out in Zuccotti Park, apparently as a way to undermine the credibility of Occupy Wall Street.
Harry Siegel reports:
But while officers may be in a no-win situation, at the mercy of orders carried on shifting political winds and locked into conflict with a so-far almost entirely non-violent protest movement eager to frame the force as a symbol of the oppressive system they’re fighting, the NYPD seems to have crossed a line in recent days, as the park has taken on a darker tone with unsteady and unstable types suddenly seeming to emerge from the woodwork.

Two different drunks I spoke with last week told me they’d been encouraged to “take it to Zuccotti” by officers who’d found them drinking in other parks, and members of the community affairs working group related several similar stories they’d heard while talking with intoxicated or aggressive new arrivals.

“He’s got a right to express himself, you’ve got a right to express yourself,” I heard three cops repeat in recent days, using nearly identical language, when asked to intervene with troublemakers inside the park, including a clearly disturbed man screaming and singing wildly at 3 a.m. for the second straight night.
Emphasis mine. Siegel added on Twitter that he has sourcing for the story beyond the two drunks cited above, though he did not elaborate.

The NYPD did not comment to the Daily News. I’ve asked them for a response to the allegations and I will update this post if I hear back.

In other NYPD-related news, hundreds of off-duty officers turned out in the Bronx over the weekend to protest corruption indictments against several of their fellow officers. The scene turned ugly, with the off-duty cops reportedly shoving a cameraman and taunting nearby welfare recipients.


Trick or Treat!

SUBHEAD: You must secure your own sustainable sources of food, water, shelter, energy and community for the hard times ahead.

By Juan Wilson on 31 October 2011 for Island Breath - 

Image above: Dancing at the LGTB Halloween party at the Kauai Beach Resort. Photo by Juan Wilson.

Yes it's Halloween again. Most of us celebrate it on 31 October, but traditionally it was celebrated in the first week of November as Autumn reached mid-season. That's halfway between the Autumn Equinox and the Winter Solstice. This weekend my wife Linda and I were delighted to attended the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans-gender Halloween Party at the Kauai Beach Resorts. It was fabulous!

The event was attended by an expressive, creative group of people who knew how to have fun. Needless to say you didn't have to be LGBT to enjoy it. In modern America Halloween has evolved into the most popular holiday behind only Christmas.

This has riled some Christan groups that have taken offense at the pagan connotations that have not been properly scrubbed clean by their religion. In today's America we acknowledge the four seasons of the year on the exact days (and even hour) of the sun's Equinox's and Solstices, but have blurred or even forgotten the times of season midpoints. It is at the midpoint of season that we experience the epitome of the seasons richness.

These midpoints are called the cross-quarter days. In pre-Christian Celtic and Germanic tradition each change of season and its midpoint (cross-quarter day) was celebrated with observations related to the meaning of the Wheel of the Year and the Wheel of Life. Christianity co-opted many ancient traditions and the two most important are Easter (rebirth after death - at the beginning of Spring ~ March 21st) and Christmas (spiritual light in the darkest moment - at the beginning of Winter ~ December 25th).

The two cross-quarter days that survive with unvarnished pagan meaning are Mayday (the epitome of Spring on May 1st) and Halloween (the epitome of Autumn on October 31st). Mayday was a time for youth and procreation. In Europe Samhain (the traditional pagan name for Halloween) was the time after the harvest when the root cellars were full for the coming winter.

It was a time for feasting and celebration - but always with the knowledge that the long darkness was coming. Winter was at hand. Starvation or even death was just over the horizon. With that in mind I offer this observation. Today we passed the 7-billion human beings alive on the planet marker. Ouch!

 The Wheel of Civilization has just past its Halloween moment. It's time to take off the masks to see who we really are after the party is over. What's in the root cellar is what's in the root cellar. What you have in hand now must get you through the coming Winter. Arrange things carefully. That does not mean we will not have some good times ahead. There are the holidays even in the darkest part of Winter.

But be sure, the fantastic fun-ride roller-coaster of "Drill and Burn!" is coasting to a stop. You must secure your own sustainable sources of food, water, shelter, energy and community for the hard times ahead. The consequences of not doing so will not be negotiable. Trick or Treat!

Samhain Prayer From (http://brennaxadaira.wordpress.com/2011/08/14/samhain-prayer) God of forest Fire, and light The daytime fades To longer night Thank you for the harvest’s bounty For lending your light to the land Blessed be, now, as you’re fading Find rest and strength in Summer Land Winter’s blanket Shall cover the Earth We await Yuletide And your re-birth God of sunshine Field and glen Merry meet, merry part, Merry meet again. .

Heco-AKP deal to cost $500-million

SOURCE: Ed Wagner - Mililani, Oahu, Hawaii
SUBHEAD: HECO info indicates $500,000,000 cost for 20 year AKP contract for Oahu & Big Island ratepayers.  

By Ed Wagner on 31 October 2011 in Island Breath - (http://islandbreath.blogspot.com/2011/10/heco-akp-deal-to-cost-500-million.html)

 Image above: Aina Koa Pono's partner, ThermoChem Recovery International(TRI), is commercializing the conversion of biomass to energy through thermo-chemical gasification plants like this one. From (http://greenbydesignhawaii.wordpress.com/2011/01/07/heco-signs-with-aina-koa-pono-for-16-million-gallons-of-local-biofuel-a-year).

Instead of Oahu and Big Island ratepayers being charged a minimum of $100-million over 20 years as suggested by the PUC D&O on Sep 29, this article by Henry Curtis suggests that the price tag would be more like the cost of the entire project as suggested by www.CharleneOnGreen.org, or $476-nillion ( 23.8*20 ) just for Oahu HECO ratepayers, and the HELCO ratepayers on the Big Island would bring that price tag to over $500-million during the 20 year contract. (www.staradvertiser.com/businesspremium/20111025_Rejection_of_biofuel_plan_is_a_huge_setback_for_isles.html)

Was Jay Fidell actually paid by someone; HECO or Aina Koa Pono (AKP) to write the story mentioned in the above article, claiming that the PUC's rejection of the HECO-AKP project is a setback for Hawaii just as AKP claimed that the PUC failed to consider its 12 benefits to biodiesel in Hawaii? Who is he kidding?

See Henry Curtis article below for more:

What about the OVERWHELMING NEGATIVES pointed out by Charlene On Green the past 8 months? The Pacific Business News said just the opposite by calling the PUC rejection the right call, and anyone with any common sense would agree that it was the right call. There is enough geothermal energy in Hawaii to use as our base load to power the entire state, but HECO wants to keep polluting the air with oil for another 20 years to maintain its profits.

Lustful corporate profits come before the people, the environment, and the aina. No one pays Charlene On Green, but her investigative reporting is what saved the ratepayers a half a billion dollars.

Yet, all she gets is ignored and criticized for standing up to Goliath - HECO & AKP - because everyone in this town is very territorial and fears their false Energy God and the damage it can do to their business just as it has done its best to get Charlene off the air. She is a trouble maker or a thorn in its side as well as the Governor, but she is here to stay so get used to it. She is the best thing to happen to Hawaii in a long time, always seeking truth where truth is denied to the people. She is the only Hawaii journalist with a focus on sustainability and "Green" living. (http://www.bizjournals.com/pacific/print-edition/2011/10/14/nullifying-hecos-contract-with-aina.html)

AKP private “investors” devious plan was to use the rate payers to fund the entire lab experiment and not have to risk any of their own money. It would be like buying Treasury securities, but guaranteed by Hawaii ratepayers instead of the US Government. I can think of much better ways to spend $500-million to lower our need for electricity. Try insulating roofs and use white paint like I did to stop the heat from entering my home.

On a 90 degree day, my home is as much as 10 to 12 degrees cooler without using AC. With 10 PV panels, my last electric bill was listed as NONE. The one before was $5.00, and others are just the connection charge. We are already paying a PBF surcharge to fund Hawaii Energy, but Charlene On Green does a much better job promoting sustainability and green living so I think Hawaii Energy should be dissolved and use the money to support Charlene and create jobs to insulate and lighten up homes to cut electric bills 50-75 % or more.

The Consumer Advocacy was both negligent and derelict in its duty to protect the public by approving this alleged conspiracy to defraud the people of Oahu and the Big Island out of half a billion dollars over 20 years, and most of the State Legislature and the Governor went along for the ride. All the red warning flags raised by Charlene On Green were completely ignored by the DCA so every member of the DCA should be forced to resign.

The Hawaii DOJ, the Office of the Ombudsman, and the State Ethics Commission all pass the torch from one to the other and just ignore the consequences of their inaction. They are just as bad as our dysfunctional US Congress and probably fear their false Energy God too just like Congress fears their false Gods on Wall Street and in Corporate boardrooms. I guess someone from outside Hawaii has to come in and wipe the slate clean to get anything done in this town so we can move forward to a better future for all without our false Energy God’s monopolistic stranglehold on our future.

Maybe the people of Hawaii should file a class action lawsuit against all parties to this fiasco. Is it any wonder that the Governor’s top 4 people jumped ship within one week of the PUC’s rejection of docket 2011-0005 on Sep 29, that the Governor was voted the country’s most unpopular Governor, and that he was loudly booed at a UH game in September. It is time for all of you to start thinking like Charlene On Green (or Steve Jobs), imagining things the way they can be instead of settling for the way they are ( status quo ).

People like Charlene ( Steve Jobs ), who think they can change the world, think different. Our false God will be ousted next year, like RA, the Sun God in STAR GATE. By the way, this story makes for interesting bed fellows. I wonder if it is an attempt by AKP to keep its plans for a Ka’u biofuel plant alive. (http://kaunewsbriefs.blogspot.com)

KENTON ELDRIDGE, co-founder and partner in `Aina Koa Pono, which plans to build a refinery and biofuel farm in Ka`u, is the new chair of The Nature Conservancy of Hawai`i, according to a report in yesterday’s Pacific Business News. Eldridge is managing director of Sennet Capital, which he co-founded with the new chair of the state Department of Business, Economic Development & Tourism, Richard Lim.

Eldridge has a background in retailing with Federated Department Stores and Duty Free Shoppers. He is a former U.S. military intelligence officer, according to the story in PBN. Eldridge serves as advisor to Innovasc and The Entrepreneurs Foundation of Hawai`i. He has served on boards of American Savings Bank, Assets School, HiBeam and Hoku Scientific.

The Olson Trust recently contributed $500,000 to The Nature Conservancy to protect native forests in Ka`u and South Kona. Its Ka`u mission includes caring for the endangered hawksbill turtle preserve at Kamehame Beach, the Kaiholena preserve and other pristine native forests in Ka`u that are owned by The Nature Conservancy. .

Inouye Sneak Attack

SUBHEAD: Senator Dan Inouye hides Akaka Bill in policy rider - just after “Grazing Permits”.  

By Andrew Walden on 30 October 2011 for Hawaii Free Press -  

Image above: "Inouye not planning to 'Jam Through' Akaka Bill via an appropriations measure, spokesperson says". No he has another idea. From (http://www.hawaiireporter.com/inouye-not-planning-to-sneak-akaka-bill-into-appropriations-measure-spokesperson-says/123).

Dan Inouye’s Akaka Bill sneak attack was smacked down in December, 2009 and again in December, 2010—but he’s back for one more try.

Inouye’s latest version of the Akaka Bill popped up October 14. It is a single paragraph. Buried on page 124 in a proposed Senate Appropriations Committee draft bill for “Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies Appropriations
HAWAIIAN RECOGNITION SEC. 420. Now and hereafter, in exercise of the authority delegated under sections 441, 442, 463 and 465 of the Revised Statutes (43 U.S.C. 1457, 25 U.S.C. 2 and 9), the community recognized by and enrolled pursuant to Act 195 (26th Haw. Leg. Sess. (2011)) may be recognized and listed under section 104 of Public Law 103–454 but not entitled to programs and services available to entities thereunder unless a statute governing such a program or service expressly provides otherwise.
Section 104 of Public Law 103-454, also known as the “Federally Recognized Indian Tribe Act of 1994” requires the Secretary of the Interior to maintain a list of Federally Recognized Indian Tribes.
Act 195 created a five-member commission—now headed by gambling advocate, Clinton Asian Money Scandal player, and Broken Trust figure John Waihee--to enroll “Qualified” native Hawaiian constituents according to a long list of criteria which exclude about 73% of native Hawaiians.
Steven Duffield, former Chief Counsel to Sen. John Kyl (R-AZ) told Hawaii Reporter October 24:
"For many years, the Akaka Bill advocates insisted that the law would just allow a process for those of 'Native Hawaiian' blood to decide a path forward. That was always a farce, and this new provision proves it. The appropriations language would lead to only one result: Native Hawaiians becoming an Indian tribe, with all the public expense and jurisdictional nightmares that go with that status."
Inouye’s version, in conjunction with Act 195, creates an instant Indian tribe with no restriction on the right to claim legal jurisdiction and exclude state law enforcement over its members. It was these characteristics, introduced beginning with the 2009 version of the Akaka Bill, which forced long-time Akaka Bill supporters Governor Linda Lingle and Attorney General Mark Bennett to reverse their stance and come out in opposition.

When native Hawaiian protesters accused Inouye of trying to sneak the Akaka Bill into a 2009 defense appropriations bill, Inouye called the allegation “nonsensical” and claimed the process for the Akaka Bill “has been fully transparent.” Senator Akaka told reporters: "It is very frustrating that opponents intentionally seek to spread misinformation about the bill. This should call their credibility into question once again." But two years later the Star-Advertiser headline is: “Akaka OKs Native Hawaiian recognition strategy.”

In the text of his statement Thursday, October 27 to a convention of the Hawaiian Civic Clubs, Akaka told convention-goers: “As a result of the enrollment process which is already beginning under Act 195, I am now reviewing my bill and looking for ways to streamline it.”

Akaka didn’t see fit to mention that his bill had two weeks earlier been “streamlined” down to a single paragraph and slipped in right after Grazing Permits by Senator “Transparency”.

The only thing that is “transparent” is the admission by Akaka Gang leaders that the Akaka Tribe is not a tribe. Hawaiians are not and never have been tribal.

Inouye’s one-paragraph Akaka Bill refers to a ”community”, not a tribe. This follows several months of candid admissions by Akaka Gang leaders. The Star-Advertiser editorialized July 11:
…passing the state law is, in fact, a declaration spoken through representative government, codification of a longstanding majority position that Native Hawaiians represent Hawaii's "first nation," that regardless of the nontribal organization of the Hawaiian kingdom, they are as deserving of recognition as indigenous people as any tribe or Native Alaskan corporation….
…becoming a "qualified Native Hawaiian" eligible for the roll also means a person has maintained "a significant cultural, social or civic connection to the Native Hawaiian community and wishes to participate in the organization of the Native Hawaiian government entity."
This definition is a more recent variant, and an improvement on purely race-based criteria. National identity should require some cultural affinity; it's the bond that holds people together and help sustain the process of government-making through its inevitable conflict.
The Hawaii Tribune Herald July 17 explains:
Maui Rep. Gil Keith-Agaran, said the effort was intended to create a political distinction, rather than a racial one. "If you look at the (Hawaiian recognition) bills, it was capital-N "Native Hawaiian" rather than the small-N "native Hawaiian," which deals more with blood quanta, Keith-Agaran said. "We stayed away from the 50 percent or whatever blood quantum" requirements that appear elsewhere.
Sen. Malama Solomon, an Akaka Gang leader, self-described “friend” of the Big Island’s largest methamphetamines importer, and gambling advocate recently busted for bulldozing Hawaiian archaeological sites, explained July 1

“Hawaiians are very different from the American tribes; we had a kingdom that was recognized by the United States and many other nations around the world before the overthrow.”
Solomon made similar comments in today’s Star-Advertiser:
Hawaiians belonged to a kingdom, not an Indian tribe, so it has been difficult to fit Hawaiians into federal Indian policy for purposes of recognition. "This is really a unification bill," she said of the state law. "It will start to really identify the nation, because in all of our conversations about sovereignty and self-governance, that is the entity that has been missing, in terms of recognizing who the nation is. And I think that this bill would bring a lot of that to rest."
And who will be in charge of deciding which Hawaiians are “qualified”? Akamai readers will of course instantly recognize Waihee as the author of a 1995 proposal to relocate the Broken Trust Bishop Estate Headquarters to the Cheyenne River Sioux Indian Reservation. Instead of moving to an Indian Reservation the Broken Trust gang is trying to assemble an Indian reservation around themselves. Waihee is in charge of ensuring that only politically trustworthy cronies are deemed “qualified.”

Now, with a single paragraph slipped into page 124 of an 181 page bill, Senator Dan Inouye is attempting to trick Congress into ratifying the entire scheme. And once again, Hawaii is depending on Republican Senators to save us from our own Congressional Delegation.

Nowhere to run - Nowhere to hide

SUBHEAD: A lot of people think that technology will save us from all this. We'll all network up on oursmart-phones and "innovate". By James Kunstler on 31 October 2011 for Kunstler.com - (http://kunstler.com/blog/2011/10/nowhere-to-run-nowhere-to-hide.html) Image above: Homeless man on cell phone is "connected". From (http://www.pbase.com/image/77290270). I landed back in the USA Wednesday from Sweden. What a downer to be reminded that more people speak English in the foreign country you just came from, and to notice what a slum airport New York's JFK is. "Wretched refuse yearning to be free," the poem at the statue of liberty's base declares. How prophetic. Nobody in baggage claim understood the sentence, "Which carousel does the luggage from BA 4872 come to?" Quien sabe? Vem vet? Kim bilar? 谁知道? Ποιος ξέρει?
The Europeans, by necessity, may excel at learning languages, but at banking and money matters they are perhaps not such geniuses - no matter how creamy the shopgirls are - and in the politics of the region things often devolve to the level of a lethal pie-fight. Now that Germany and France rolled out the latest provisional miracle rescue of their countries' banks, jubilation reigned in the stock markets and the OECD economy is presumably back to turbo hyper warp speed.
Expect this spirit of euphoria to expire by mid-week. The bankers of the western world and their government helpers have seemingly never heard of unintended consequences, or maybe even consequences, period. The crypto-voluntary bond default of Greece, with 50 percent losses to bond-holders, did not trigger a credit default swap (CDS) "event." Why? Because it is perfectly obvious to all concerned that the CDS market is a grand fraud, so the triggerers are told not to pull any triggers, and it's as simple as that. If CDS were actually allowed to operate as an "insurance" mechanism against dodgy bonds the entire global banking system would go Death Star. Counterparties to these debts could not possibly pay out what the contracts require. So, if CDS are magically "suspended" on Greece's default then they will be suspended for everybody's.
I don't think it matters so much that the CDS market itself is rendered meaningless, because the counterparties hardly put up any real money in the first place, just promises to come up with money at some future date. What matters more is that there really are no hedges on bonds, no real protection if any bonds flop, which means risk has instantly rematerialized in the bond markets and has to be priced back in to bond sales. Unfortunately, that in itself can easily collapse the global financial system, because if investors really require higher interest rates to buy this stuff, the governments issuing the bonds will all choke to death on the interest payments.
It will be interesting to see how the so-called advanced economies wriggle out of this dilemma. There may be yet some other ways of extending and pretending, but I don't see it. Rather, it would seem to open the door to universal default. The very next part of the official story is that, supposedly, every investor on God's green earth would come stampeding into American bonds, but where's the hedge now? There is none. Massive European defaults would winnow down the total liquidity supply anyway, and going into US treasuries would be like the remaining victims of a "towering inferno" style conflagration rushing from one burning floor to another. And how much of that hot money has already rushed into mis-priced American stock markets? All the rest of it? One of these days, there will be no buyers showing up for that stuff, and even the HFT robots will develop a sense of artificial trepidation.
Meanwhile, more than a few banks find that they are catastrophically short of real funds. They can't actually continue the daily churn that constitutes their hypothetical business. Interbank lending would tend to freeze. Suddenly, we are right back at the edge of the same abyss that opened up when Lehman Brothers went up in a vapor three years ago. Only this time it's Lehman Brothers times X.
There are really only two outcomes I can see in all this. Either money becomes extremely scarce or the money that's there becomes worthless. In either case you're broke, and what remains for all these nations is a fight over the table-scraps of the late and great industrial orgy.
I know a lot of people think that technology will save us from all this. The story line there is that we'll all be "connected." We'll all network up over the smart-phone and "communicate" and "share" and "innovate." Connection has become a pointless end in itself. It's what you do when the world is collapsing around you. Wouldn't it make more sense to learn how to grow potatoes and train a mule?

A 51st State for Armed Drones

SUBHEAD: 94,000 square miles over Colorado and New Mexico could be given over to remote-controlled flying murder machines. By David Swanson on 27 October 2011 for War Is a Crime - (http://warisacrime.org/content/51st-state-armed-robotic-drones) Image above: Detail of map of Colorado and New Mexico affected by plan. Click to see all. From (http://www.not1moreacre.net).

Weaponized UAVs (unmanned aerial vehicles), also known as drones, have their own caucus in Congress, and the Pentagon's plan is to give them their own state as well.

Under this plan, 7 million acres (or 11,000 square miles) of land in the southeast corner of Colorado, and 60 million acres of air space (or 94,000 square miles) over Colorado and New Mexico would be given over to special forces testing and training in the use of remote-controlled flying murder machines. The full state of Colorado is itself 104,000 square miles. Rhode Island is 1,000 square miles. Virginia, where I live, is 43,000 square miles.

The U.S. military (including Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marines) is proceeding with this plan in violation of the public will, new state legislation on private property rights, an exceptionally strong federal court order, and a funding ban passed by the United States Congress, and in the absence of any approved Environmental Impact Statement. Public pressure has successfully put the law on the right side of this issue, and the military is disregarding the law.

I spoke with Jean Aguerre, whose organization "Not 1 More Acre" ( http://not1moreacre.net ) is leading the pushback against this madness. Jean told me she grew up, during the 1960s, on the vast grasslands of southeast Colorado, where the Comanche National Grasslands makes up part of a system of grasslands put in place to help the prairie recover from the dust bowl. The dust bowl, Aguerre says, was the worst environmental disaster in the United States until BP filled the Gulf of Mexico with oil. The dust bowl had been brought on by the government's policy of requiring homesteaders to plow the prairie. The recovery programs created large tracts of land, of 100,000 acres and more, owned by "generational ranchers," that is families that would hand the ranches off to their children.

Aguerre said she grew up on a ranch of incredible beauty and natural wealth, with a 165-million-year-old dinosaur track way and petroglyphs from 12,000 years back. Grasslands are the most threatened ecosystems in the world because they are so accessible, Aguerre says, and the only intact short grassland left in this country is the one being targeted for the "51st state."

Round One began in the 1980s. Fort Carson, an Army base in Colorado Springs, had been kept open after World War II and now began looking for more land. The people of the area were opposed. The U.S. Congressman representing the area agreed to oppose any landgrab. But Senator Gary Hart took the opposite position. As a result, during the early 1980s, the Army Corps of Engineers started telling ranchers to sell out or risk seeing their land condemned and taken from them.

The ranch next to Aguerre's is called Wine Glass Rourke. It was sold to a shill, as Aguerre describes the buyer. He ran the place into the ground with too many cattle, she says, and then sold it to the military, "And they were off and running!" With condemnations the military put together 250 thousand acres. Ranchers, along with their cattle, were moved off their own land by federal marshals. "We didn't know when we'd be next," Aguerre says of her own family.

Luckily for the people of Colorado and New Mexico, and all of us, Aguerre got involved in politics. She became a political director for Congressman Tim Werth who later became a U.S. senator. Aguerre took him to see the Wine Glass Rourke ranch and told him "Let's take it back." Werth dedicated his staff to the effort for three years, resulting in the transfer to the Forest Service of 17,000 key acres.

The Army used its new land less than twice a year for maneuvers, but caused horrible environmental damage whenever it did. That was the case for about 30 years, until the activity of recent years made everything that came before look sensitive and sustainable.

In the meantime, people like Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld were theorizing the transformation of the U.S. military into a force for robotic warfare. Aguerre believes it was in 1996 that a decision was made that the military would need a robotic warfare center. Around 1999 the Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement was created. This precedes the more specific Site Environmental Impact Statements. The U.S. public, just like the public of any foreign nation where new U.S. bases are being planned, was told nothing.

In 2006, Aguerre was working in Oregon when friends started asking her to come home and help because something big was happening. An Army land expansion map had been leaked that showed plans for taking over 6.9 million acres, the whole southeast corner of the state. Aguerre thought she would come home for two weeks but has never left. An Environmental Impact Statement for the site was about to be released, and Aguerre knew that meant the project was pretty far along. She formed organizations and found a lawyer in Colorado Springs named Steve Harris to help. The two of them, she says, were absolutely dedicated to NEPA and FOIA. NEPA is the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969. FOIA is the Freedom of Information Act of 1966. "NEPA is intended to prevent our government taking our world apart piece by piece without our knowing it," explains Aguerre.

Aguerre and others persuaded the area's county commissioners to vote against the military's plans in 2006, and the state legislature to pass a private property rights bill in January 2007 -- a bill that required approval of such plans by the state legislature.

Ken Salazar was the military's hired servant. He had been Attorney General of Colorado from 1999 to 2005. He was a U.S. Senator from 2005 to 2009. President Barack Obama has made him Secretary of the Interior. Around 2007, Jean Aguerre recounts, Salazar held a public meeting in Pueblo, Col., with about 300 ranchers packing the room. He turned his palms up to the ceiling and announced: "I will lift the golden curtain that falls at the end of El Paso county so that prosperity can flow onto the eastern plains." This meant that military spending was economically beneficial. Military expansion, people were being told, was good for them -- even if it stole their families' land, and regardless of what momentum it created for the launching and continuing of wars.

"Instead of putting together frameworks for nonproliferation," says Aguerre, "Ken Salazar worked to destroy the last intact short grass prairie because the money was too good."

Senators Wayne Allard, who would join the military lobbyist company the Livingston Group within weeks of leaving the Senate, and Ken Salazar passed an authorization for taking land as part of the 2007 John Warner Defense Authorization Act. "None of the ranchers knew they were in line to be condemned for the second damn time," says Aguerre.

John Salazar, Ken's brother, at this time represented Colorado's third congressional district, while Republican Marilyn Musgrave represented the fourth. Musgrave was persuaded by ranchers that there was no need for the government to take their land. Aguerre worked with Musgrave's staff to draft a one-sentence funding ban. Aguerre and her allies then organized massive public pressure to recruit John Salazar as a Democratic co-sponsor. Ken Salazar failed in his effort to block this measure in the Senate. The ban passed both houses and became law, but it must be renewed every year.

In 2009, Aguerre and her allies won a federal court ruling throwing out the military's Environmental Impact Statement with harsh and unequivocal language -- "one of the strongest court orders under NEPA," says Aguerre. By 2008, the military had begun using its land a lot more, and the court ruling did not stop them.

The funding ban, too, is not stopping increased activity. This past year, the funding ban was missing from a committee chairman's markup in which it had appeared in previous years. Not 1 More Acre and its allies pressured Third-District Congressman Scott Tipton. People from all over the country phoned his office. They were told that as non-constituents their views did not matter. Aguerre advised people to reply: "When you pick my pocket you don't ask what district I'm from." Tipton was won over, and the funding ban, for what it's worth, remains for now.

Nonetheless, says Aguerre, the military is proceeding with and increasing trainings and environmental destruction daily .

Senators Mark Udall and Michael Bennet of Colorado and Tom Udall of New Mexico don't receive high marks from Jean Aguerre. "Mark Udall on Armed Services and Michael Bennet on Agriculture sit with their thumbs in their pie. Udall has never once come to southeastern Colorado and looked young ranchers in the eye and said 'this is why we need this military takeover of your lands.'"

Aguerre continues: "And Tom Udall puts out this pap the other day, mumbo jumbo about the Air Force. It's not Air Force; it's Special Operations. Aguerre said that her group and others are preparing a comment letter seeking legal standing to challenge the Air Force, and potentially to pry loose more information from the iron grip of our "transparent" government. Aguerre points out that the Air Force Special Operations Command Environmental Assessment was written by SAIC, a global military contractor that also makes voting machines.

"We found out that the state national guard is completely involved in UAV warfare," says Aguerre. "So when your house floods and you don't have the national guard there, they may be remotely piloting something somewhere else."

Aguerre says that in 2006 she knew of four countries that were manufacturing armed UAVs, and that now she knows of 56. So, the argument that drones keep "people" out of harm's way (with people redefined to mean U.S. citizens) doesn't hold up very solidly. We have also already had a suicide bomb attack on a drone piloting location and had drone pilots commit suicide, not to mention the risks of long-term blowback, the damage being done to the rule of law, and all the human beings killed and injured from among the non-U.S. 95% of humanity.

Aguerre asks scientists who love unarmed UAVs to consider the full effect of supporting such technology. I would ask environmentalists to consider the full effect of not resisting the destruction of what Not 1 More Acre describes as:

  • unique bioregions of canyonlands, forested mesas, grasslands and riparian systems providing habitat for diverse flora and fauna found nowhere else on Earth and the largest block of native prairie remaining on the High Plains;
  • restored Dust Bowl lands – Comanche, Kiowa and Rita Blanca National Grasslands — offering robust safe haven to threatened and endangered species of plants and animals, including rare insects and reptiles yet to be named;
  • wild rivers and complex wetlands vital to native fish, migrating birds, unique wildlife and environmental health.

I would ask opponents of drone warfare to consider the likely impact of setting aside 60 million acres of air space for testing drones.

"We cannot allow the sacrifice of our democracy to politicians who are bought by military contractors," says Aguerre. "If they are able to get this 51st state for robotic warfare, I think the economy will be irretrievably lost. These are unbelievably beautiful and pristine lands. Our rural areas are where the genetically modified seeds are being planted, where the lands and mountains are being mined, and where the military is going to destroy an area the size of a state, because the rural people are so few. Gary Hart was able to attack the last short grass prairie without political cost."

Why is there no political cost? Because "we can't get the word out."

Let's help get the word out by sharing this link: http://not1moreacre.org


A Sister's Eulogy

SUBHEAD: After Steve Jobs' death his sister reveals his last words.

 By Mona Simpson on 30 October 2011 for the New York Times -

 Image above: Photo portrait of Steve Jobs on the cover of Time magazine 4/10/2110. From (http://thejosevilson.com/2011/10/05/apple-founder-jumps-into-the-icloud-rip-steve-jobs/).
I grew up as an only child, with a single mother. Because we were poor and because I knew my father had emigrated from Syria, I imagined he looked like Omar Sharif. I hoped he would be rich and kind and would come into our lives (and our not yet furnished apartment) and help us. Later, after I’d met my father, I tried to believe he’d changed his number and left no forwarding address because he was an idealistic revolutionary, plotting a new world for the Arab people.

Even as a feminist, my whole life I’d been waiting for a man to love, who could love me. For decades, I’d thought that man would be my father. When I was 25, I met that man and he was my brother.

By then, I lived in New York, where I was trying to write my first novel. I had a job at a small magazine in an office the size of a closet, with three other aspiring writers. When one day a lawyer called me — me, the middle-class girl from California who hassled the boss to buy us health insurance — and said his client was rich and famous and was my long-lost brother, the young editors went wild. This was 1985 and we worked at a cutting-edge literary magazine, but I’d fallen into the plot of a Dickens novel and really, we all loved those best. The lawyer refused to tell me my brother’s name and my colleagues started a betting pool. The leading candidate: John Travolta. I secretly hoped for a literary descendant of Henry James — someone more talented than I, someone brilliant without even trying.

When I met Steve, he was a guy my age in jeans, Arab- or Jewish-looking and handsomer than Omar Sharif.

We took a long walk — something, it happened, that we both liked to do. I don’t remember much of what we said that first day, only that he felt like someone I’d pick to be a friend. He explained that he worked in computers.

I didn’t know much about computers. I still worked on a manual Olivetti typewriter.

I told Steve I’d recently considered my first purchase of a computer: something called the Cromemco.
Steve told me it was a good thing I’d waited. He said he was making something that was going to be insanely beautiful.

I want to tell you a few things I learned from Steve, during three distinct periods, over the 27 years I knew him. They’re not periods of years, but of states of being. His full life. His illness. His dying.

Steve worked at what he loved. He worked really hard. Every day.

That’s incredibly simple, but true.

He was the opposite of absent-minded.

He was never embarrassed about working hard, even if the results were failures. If someone as smart as Steve wasn’t ashamed to admit trying, maybe I didn’t have to be.

When he got kicked out of Apple, things were painful. He told me about a dinner at which 500 Silicon Valley leaders met the then-sitting president. Steve hadn’t been invited.

He was hurt but he still went to work at Next. Every single day.

Novelty was not Steve’s highest value. Beauty was.

For an innovator, Steve was remarkably loyal. If he loved a shirt, he’d order 10 or 100 of them. In the Palo Alto house, there are probably enough black cotton turtlenecks for everyone in this church.
He didn’t favor trends or gimmicks. He liked people his own age.

His philosophy of aesthetics reminds me of a quote that went something like this: “Fashion is what seems beautiful now but looks ugly later; art can be ugly at first but it becomes beautiful later.”
Steve always aspired to make beautiful later.
He was willing to be misunderstood.

Uninvited to the ball, he drove the third or fourth iteration of his same black sports car to Next, where he and his team were quietly inventing the platform on which Tim Berners-Lee would write the program for the World Wide Web.

Steve was like a girl in the amount of time he spent talking about love. Love was his supreme virtue, his god of gods. He tracked and worried about the romantic lives of the people working with him.

Whenever he saw a man he thought a woman might find dashing, he called out, “Hey are you single? Do you wanna come to dinner with my sister?”

I remember when he phoned the day he met Laurene. “There’s this beautiful woman and she’s really smart and she has this dog and I’m going to marry her.”

When Reed was born, he began gushing and never stopped. He was a physical dad, with each of his children. He fretted over Lisa’s boyfriends and Erin’s travel and skirt lengths and Eve’s safety around the horses she adored.

None of us who attended Reed’s graduation party will ever forget the scene of Reed and Steve slow dancing.

His abiding love for Laurene sustained him. He believed that love happened all the time, everywhere. In that most important way, Steve was never ironic, never cynical, never pessimistic. I try to learn from that, still.

Steve had been successful at a young age, and he felt that had isolated him. Most of the choices he made from the time I knew him were designed to dissolve the walls around him. A middle-class boy from Los Altos, he fell in love with a middle-class girl from New Jersey. It was important to both of them to raise Lisa, Reed, Erin and Eve as grounded, normal children. Their house didn’t intimidate with art or polish; in fact, for many of the first years I knew Steve and Lo together, dinner was served on the grass, and sometimes consisted of just one vegetable. Lots of that one vegetable. But one.

Broccoli. In season. Simply prepared. With just the right, recently snipped, herb.

Even as a young millionaire, Steve always picked me up at the airport. He’d be standing there in his jeans.

When a family member called him at work, his secretary Linetta answered, “Your dad’s in a meeting. Would you like me to interrupt him?”

When Reed insisted on dressing up as a witch every Halloween, Steve, Laurene, Erin and Eve all went wiccan.

They once embarked on a kitchen remodel; it took years. They cooked on a hotplate in the garage. The Pixar building, under construction during the same period, finished in half the time. And that was it for the Palo Alto house. The bathrooms stayed old. But — and this was a crucial distinction — it had been a great house to start with; Steve saw to that.

This is not to say that he didn’t enjoy his success: he enjoyed his success a lot, just minus a few zeros. He told me how much he loved going to the Palo Alto bike store and gleefully realizing he could afford to buy the best bike there.

And he did.

Steve was humble. Steve liked to keep learning.

Once, he told me if he’d grown up differently, he might have become a mathematician. He spoke reverently about colleges and loved walking around the Stanford campus. In the last year of his life, he studied a book of paintings by Mark Rothko, an artist he hadn’t known about before, thinking of what could inspire people on the walls of a future Apple campus.

Steve cultivated whimsy. What other C.E.O. knows the history of English and Chinese tea roses and has a favorite David Austin rose?

He had surprises tucked in all his pockets. I’ll venture that Laurene will discover treats — songs he loved, a poem he cut out and put in a drawer — even after 20 years of an exceptionally close marriage. I spoke to him every other day or so, but when I opened The New York Times and saw a feature on the company’s patents, I was still surprised and delighted to see a sketch for a perfect staircase.

With his four children, with his wife, with all of us, Steve had a lot of fun.
He treasured happiness.

Then, Steve became ill and we watched his life compress into a smaller circle. Once, he’d loved walking through Paris. He’d discovered a small handmade soba shop in Kyoto. He downhill skied gracefully. He cross-country skied clumsily. No more.

Eventually, even ordinary pleasures, like a good peach, no longer appealed to him.
Yet, what amazed me, and what I learned from his illness, was how much was still left after so much had been taken away.

I remember my brother learning to walk again, with a chair. After his liver transplant, once a day he would get up on legs that seemed too thin to bear him, arms pitched to the chair back. He’d push that chair down the Memphis hospital corridor towards the nursing station and then he’d sit down on the chair, rest, turn around and walk back again. He counted his steps and, each day, pressed a little farther.

Laurene got down on her knees and looked into his eyes.

“You can do this, Steve,” she said. His eyes widened. His lips pressed into each other.
He tried. He always, always tried, and always with love at the core of that effort. He was an intensely emotional man.

I realized during that terrifying time that Steve was not enduring the pain for himself. He set destinations: his son Reed’s graduation from high school, his daughter Erin’s trip to Kyoto, the launching of a boat he was building on which he planned to take his family around the world and where he hoped he and Laurene would someday retire.

Even ill, his taste, his discrimination and his judgment held. He went through 67 nurses before finding kindred spirits and then he completely trusted the three who stayed with him to the end. Tracy. Arturo. Elham.

One time when Steve had contracted a tenacious pneumonia his doctor forbid everything — even ice. We were in a standard I.C.U. unit. Steve, who generally disliked cutting in line or dropping his own name, confessed that this once, he’d like to be treated a little specially.

I told him: Steve, this is special treatment.

He leaned over to me, and said: “I want it to be a little more special.”

Intubated, when he couldn’t talk, he asked for a notepad. He sketched devices to hold an iPad in a hospital bed. He designed new fluid monitors and x-ray equipment. He redrew that not-quite-special-enough hospital unit. And every time his wife walked into the room, I watched his smile remake itself on his face.

For the really big, big things, you have to trust me, he wrote on his sketchpad. He looked up. You have to.

By that, he meant that we should disobey the doctors and give him a piece of ice.

None of us knows for certain how long we’ll be here. On Steve’s better days, even in the last year, he embarked upon projects and elicited promises from his friends at Apple to finish them. Some boat builders in the Netherlands have a gorgeous stainless steel hull ready to be covered with the finishing wood. His three daughters remain unmarried, his two youngest still girls, and he’d wanted to walk them down the aisle as he’d walked me the day of my wedding.

We all — in the end — die in medias res. In the middle of a story. Of many stories.
I suppose it’s not quite accurate to call the death of someone who lived with cancer for years unexpected, but Steve’s death was unexpected for us.

What I learned from my brother’s death was that character is essential: What he was, was how he died.

Tuesday morning, he called me to ask me to hurry up to Palo Alto. His tone was affectionate, dear, loving, but like someone whose luggage was already strapped onto the vehicle, who was already on the beginning of his journey, even as he was sorry, truly deeply sorry, to be leaving us.

He started his farewell and I stopped him. I said, “Wait. I’m coming. I’m in a taxi to the airport. I’ll be there.”
“I’m telling you now because I’m afraid you won’t make it on time, honey.” 
When I arrived, he and his Laurene were joking together like partners who’d lived and worked together every day of their lives. He looked into his children’s eyes as if he couldn’t unlock his gaze.
Until about 2 in the afternoon, his wife could rouse him, to talk to his friends from Apple.
Then, after awhile, it was clear that he would no longer wake to us.

His breathing changed. It became severe, deliberate, purposeful. I could feel him counting his steps again, pushing farther than before.

This is what I learned: he was working at this, too. Death didn’t happen to Steve, he achieved it.
He told me, when he was saying goodbye and telling me he was sorry, so sorry we wouldn’t be able to be old together as we’d always planned, that he was going to a better place.

Dr. Fischer gave him a 50/50 chance of making it through the night.

He made it through the night, Laurene next to him on the bed sometimes jerked up when there was a longer pause between his breaths. She and I looked at each other, then he would heave a deep breath and begin again.

This had to be done. Even now, he had a stern, still handsome profile, the profile of an absolutist, a romantic. His breath indicated an arduous journey, some steep path, altitude.

He seemed to be climbing.

But with that will, that work ethic, that strength, there was also sweet Steve’s capacity for wonderment, the artist’s belief in the ideal, the still more beautiful later.

Steve’s final words, hours earlier, were monosyllables, repeated three times.

Before embarking, he’d looked at his sister Patty, then for a long time at his children, then at his life’s partner, Laurene, and then over their shoulders past them.

Steve’s final words were:
• Mona Simpson is a novelist and a professor of English at the University of California, Los Angeles. She delivered this eulogy for her brother, Steve Jobs, on Oct. 16 at his memorial service at the Memorial Church of Stanford University.

YouTube police brutality videos

SUBHEAD: Google (YouTube's owner) refuses law enforcement request to pull videos of police brutality against OWS.  

By Bianca Bosker on 28 October 2011 for Huffington Post - 

Image above: NYPD Inspector Anthony Bologna has defined himself as the officer most likely to lose his temper during the OWS protest. He has led the charge against nonviolent protesters - particularly young women, and was videotaped pepper spraying a group of them on Sept. 25. From (http://www.cynicaltimes.org/articles/wall-street-protests-yield-american-autumn/).
A U.S. law enforcement agency petitioned Google to take down a YouTube video showing police brutality, the web giant revealed in a new report.

Google said it refused the request, placed sometime between January and June of this year, though it did not specify why.

"We received a request from a local law enforcement agency to remove YouTube videos of police brutality, which we did not remove," Google wrote in its Transparency Report. "Separately, we received requests from a different local law enforcement agency for removal of videos allegedly defaming law enforcement officials. We did not comply with those requests, which we have categorized in this Report as defamation requests."

Of the 757 items that Google was asked to remove by the U.S. government in the first half of 2011, eighty percent were motivated by allegations of defamation.

The company complied with 63 percent of the U.S. government's requests. Google noted that it may decline to comply with requests to remove content because an agency has failed to obtain a court order.

"Some requests may not [be] specific enough for us to know what the government wanted us to remove (for example, no URL is listed in the request), and others involve allegations of defamation through informal letters from government agencies rather than a court orders [sic]," Google wrote. "We generally rely on courts to decide if a statement is defamatory according to local law."

The Atlantic’s Rebecca Rosen praised Google for its decision to deny the law enforcement agency’s request, arguing that the move sets a powerful precedent:
With this report, Google seems to be indicating that users who post such videos have the company's protection. In places like Egypt and Tunisia, the spread of videos portraying government brutality seems to have galvanized protesters. If Google were to take down such videos, that could have a powerful detrimental effect on the Occupy movement.
TechCrunch likewise suggests Google is attempting to send a message both to users and to governments in an attempt to position itself as a trustworthy resource:
I think that in this time of turmoil, Google is saying very quietly what it wouldn’t really be tactful to say loudly: “Put your sensitive and controversial video data here.” Certainly a site like LiveLeak is also an option, but YouTube finds itself the center of attention more frequently, and being more of a popular culture community, it wants to emphasize its legitimacy in matters like this. The transparency report is a way for them to encourage users to trust them, and perhaps, governments to respect them.
Between January and June 2011, American government entities filed 5,950 requests for information on Google users, 93 percent of which the company complied with.

The U.S. topped charts as the government that placed the third highest number of content removal requests, behind Brazil and Germany, but ahead of China. The U.S. also put in more requests for user data than any other country in the world.

Video above: Police in Oakland critically wound demonstrating IraqWar vet and then attack his rescuers with tear gas. From (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dvfkfFhV00w).


OWS Preparing for winter

SUBHEAD: This is like war. Soldiers do it when they occupy a place. The mountains of Afghanistan get pretty cold. By Erika Nieowsaki on 28 October for Huffington Post - (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/10/28/occupy-wall-street-protes_n_1063891.html#s434139) Image above: Denver OWS activists sitting in the first snow of the season. Our advise - lose the cigarette - it won't keep you warm or healthy. From (http://crooksandliars.com/nicole-belle/owdenver-urgent-call-action). Wall Street protesters around the country who are vowing to stand their ground against the police and politicians are also digging in against a different kind of adversary: cold weather.

With the temperature dropping, they are stockpiling donated coats, blankets and scarves, trying to secure cots and military-grade tents, and getting survival tips from the homeless people who have joined their encampments.


"Everyone's been calling it our Valley Forge moment," said Michael McCarthy, a former Navy medic in Providence. "Everybody thought that George Washington couldn't possibly survive in the Northeast."

More than a month and a half into the movement, Occupy Wall Street activists from New York to Colorado have pledged to tough out the snow, sleet and cold as they protest economic inequality and what they call corporate greed.

But the dangers of staying outdoors in some of the country's harsher climes are already becoming apparent: In Denver, two protesters were hospitalized with hypothermia this week during a storm that brought several inches of snow.

The activists also know full well that the number of demonstrators is likely to drop as the weather gets colder.

Some movements are scouting locations indoors, including vacant buildings or other unused properties, possibly even foreclosed homes, though some question the wisdom of holding a protest outside the public eye.

Lighting campfires is probably out of the question in most places because of safety regulations.

Boston's Occupy movement, which has roughly 300 overnight participants and could face some of the most brutal weather of any city with a major encampment, has set up a winterization committee that will try to obtain super-insulated sleeping bags and other winter survival gear. Activists from the movement's flagship encampment, consisting of hundreds of people in New York City's Zuccotti Park, are sorting through packages arriving daily that include coats and jackets.

In Providence, where city officials are threatening to go to court to evict hundreds of campers from a park across from City Hall, a core group said it will remain through the winter months - if not there, somewhere else. Rhode Island's capital has an average low temperature in the 20s from December through February and recorded nearly 3 1/2 feet of snow last year. Many of the more than 100 tents are not built to withstand harsh conditions.

Temperatures were expected to drop into the 30s across much of the Northeast by Friday morning, and forecasters said snow is possible in some places over the weekend. Boston got its first dusting late Thursday night.

In Denver, as protesters prepared for this week's snow, a few dozen sympathizers stopped by to drop off blankets, gloves, chili and hot chocolate. Police refused to let activists erect a tent. That left some sleeping on the wet ground, covered by snowy tarps.

"I welcome the challenge of this cold weather," said Dwayne Hudson, a landscaper who has been living at the Occupy Denver site for nearly two weeks. "This is like war. You know, soldiers do it when they occupy a place. I'm sure the mountains of Afghanistan get pretty cold."

But after the first snowfall, he admitted: "It's getting tough."

Eric Martin, who is on Occupy Boston's winterization committee, said the group had raised about $35,000, which could help buy winter supplies. Various ideas are being discussed to keep tents warm without using combustion-based heaters, which are forbidden. Another proposal: igloos.

"We're looking at ideas from military vets to survivalists, to the homeless community to indigenous peoples," Martin said.

Activists in Philadelphia are also researching sturdier, warmer structures that could replace the 300 to 400 tents set up on the concrete plaza surrounding City Hall.

Chris Goldstein of Riverside, N.J., owns one of the tents, though he sometimes sleeps at home. He learned the hard way during the first rainfall that the site has poor drainage: "I occupied a puddle." The self-employed writer and activist put pallets under the tent to lift it off the ground, and outfitted it with small carpets for insulation.

In the meantime, he and other activists have access to a Quaker community center two blocks away where they can shower and thaw out in common rooms.

In Chicago, where winters are famously bitter, protesters living in Grant Park are working to secure several indoor locations to get them through to spring. A church nearby is letting some demonstrators sleep overnight. Activists in Portland, Ore., likewise said that moving the protest inside is the only realistic option.

Patricia Phelan and her fiancee, Savanah Kite, have been camping in the Providence park in a $20 tent from Walmart. As temperatures dipped into the 40s in the morning this week and people could see their breath, they hadn't yet employed their hand warmers or a down comforter Phelan had in the car just in case.

Their plan is to add layers as necessary.

The trick will be keeping morale up, Phelan said, "and not letting the climate get to us."


Authentic Experience

SUBHEAD: Why "Authentic Experience" is so important to our time, the Earth and the sea turtles. [Editor's note: Ted Fitzgerald is a Big Island resident who has given up sailing to focus on sustainability. His video talk highlights on our need to take the responsibility of our stewardship of the planet. His thoughts are further expressed at his blog http://sanityandsimplicity.blogspot.com.] By Jay Fitzgerald on 27 October 2011 for TEDx Talks - (http://tedxtalks.ted.com/video/TEDxWaiakea-Jay-Fitzgerald-Why) Image above: Book cover art of "The Wreck of the Zephyr" written and illustrated by Chris Van Allsberg. From (http://www.booksofwonder.com/prodinfo.asp?number=140051). Sharing an unlikely voyage of discovery and the lessons learned and why "authentic experience" is so important to our time. In the spirit of ideas worth spreading, TEDx is a program of local, self-organized events that bring people together to share a TED-like experience. At a TEDx event, TEDTalks video and live speakers combine to spark deep discussion and connection in a small group. These local, self-organized events are branded TEDx, where x = independently organized TED event. Video above: Jay Fitzgerald presentation of "Authentic Experience" is so important to our time. From (http://youtu.be/6RozTk8kSd8). .

Occupy Earth!

SUBHEAD: Degrading Earth's systems to bolster the bottom line is foolish and reckless. It hurts us all.

 By Chip Ward on 27 October 2011 for Tom Dispatch -  

Image above: Sitting on top of the world. From (http://chimac.net/2011/02/07/sitting-on-the-top-of-the-mountain-photo/).
What if rising sea levels are yet another measure of inequality? What if the degradation of our planet’s life-support systems -- its atmosphere, oceans, and biosphere -- goes hand in hand with the accumulation of wealth, power, and control by that corrupt and greedy 1% we are hearing about from Zuccotti Park? What if the assault on America’s middle class and the assault on the environment are one and the same?

Money Rules: It’s not hard for me to understand how environmental quality and economic inequality came to be joined at the hip. In all my years as a grassroots organizer dealing with the tragic impact of degraded environments on public health, it was always the same: someone got rich and someone got sick.

In the struggles that I was involved in to curb polluters and safeguard public health, those who wanted curbs, accountability, and precautions were always outspent several times over by those who wanted no restrictions on their effluents. We dug into our own pockets for postage money, they had expense accounts. We made flyers to slip under the windshield wipers of parked cars, they bought ads on television. We took time off from jobs to visit legislators, only to discover that they had gone to lunch with fulltime lobbyists.

Naturally, the barons of the chemical and nuclear industries don’t live next to the radioactive or toxic-waste dumps that their corporations create; on the other hand, impoverished black and brown people often do live near such ecological sacrifice zones because they can’t afford better. Similarly, the gated communities of the hyper-wealthy are not built next to cesspool rivers or skylines filled with fuming smokestacks, but the slums of the planet are. Don’t think, though, that it’s just a matter of property values or scenery. It’s about health, about whether your kids have lead or dioxins running through their veins. It’s a simple formula, in fact: wealth disparities become health disparities.

And here’s another formula: when there’s money to be made, both workers and the environment are expendable. Just as jobs migrate if labor can be had cheaper overseas, I know workers who were tossed aside when they became ill from the foul air or poisonous chemicals they encountered on the job.

The fact is: we won’t free ourselves from a dysfunctional and unfair economic order until we begin to see ourselves as communities, not commodities. That is one clear message from Zuccotti Park.
Polluters routinely walk away from the ground they poison and expect taxpayers to clean up after them. By “externalizing” such costs, profits are increased. Examples of land abuse and abandonment are too legion to list, but most of us can refer to a familiar “superfund site” in our own backyard. Clearly, Mother Nature is among the disenfranchised, exploited, and struggling.

Democracy 101: The 99% pay for wealth disparity with lost jobs, foreclosed homes, weakening pensions, and slashed services, but Nature pays, too. In the world the one-percenters have created, the needs of whole ecosystems are as easy to disregard as, say, the need the young have for debt-free educations and meaningful jobs.

Extreme disparity and deep inequality generate a double standard with profound consequences. If you are a CEO who skims millions of dollars off other people’s labor, it’s called a “bonus.” If you are a flood victim who breaks into a sporting goods store to grab a lifejacket, it’s called looting. If you lose your job and fall behind on your mortgage, you get evicted. If you are a banker-broker who designed flawed mortgages that caused a million people to lose their homes, you get a second-home vacation-mansion near a golf course.

If you drag heavy fishnets across the ocean floor and pulverize an entire ecosystem, ending thousands of years of dynamic evolution and depriving future generations of a healthy ocean, it’s called free enterprise. But if, like Tim DeChristopher, you disrupt an auction of public land to oil and gas companies, it’s called a crime and you get two years in jail.

In campaigns to make polluting corporations accountable, my Utah neighbors and I learned this simple truth: decisions about what to allow into the air we breathe, the water we drink, and the food we eat are soon enough translated into flesh and blood, bone and nerve, and daily experience. So it’s crucial that those decisions, involving environmental quality and public health, are made openly, inclusively, and accountably. That’s Democracy 101.

The corporations that shred habitat and contaminate your air and water are anything but democratic. Stand in line to get your 30 seconds in front of a microphone at a public hearing about the siting of a nuclear power plant, the effluent from a factory farm, or the removal of a mountaintop and you’ll get the picture quickly enough: the corporations that profit from such ecological destruction are distant, arrogant, secretive, and unresponsive. The 1% are willing to spend billions impeding democratic initiatives, which is why every so-called environmental issue is also about building a democratic culture.

First Kill the EPA, Then Social Security: Beyond all the rhetoric about freedom from the new stars of the Republican Party, the strategy is simple enough: obstruct and misinform, then blame the resulting dysfunction on “government.” It’s a great scam. Tell the voters that government doesn’t work and then, when elected, prove it. And first on the list of government outfits they want to sideline or kill is the Environmental Protection Agency, so they can do away with the already flimsy wall of regulation that stands between their toxins and your bloodstream.

Poll after poll shows that citizens understand the need for environmental rules and safeguards. Mercury is never put into the bloodstreams of nursing mothers by consensus, nor are watersheds fracked until they are flammable by popular demand. But the free market ideologues of the Republican Party are united in opposition to any rule or standard that impedes the “magic” of the marketplace and unchecked capital.

The same bottom-line quarterly-report fixation on profitability that accepts oil spills as inevitable also accepts unemployment as inevitable. Tearing apart wildlife habitat to make a profit and doing the same at a workplace are just considered the price of doing business. Clearcutting a forest and clearcutting a labor force are two sides of the same coin.

Beware of Growth: Getting the economy growing has been the refrain of the Obama administration and the justification for every bad deal, budget cut, and unbalanced compromise it’s made. The desperate effort to grow the economy to solve our economic woes is what keeps Timothy Geithner at the helm of the Treasury and is what stalls the regulation of greenhouse gasses. It’s why we are told we must sacrifice environmental quality for pipelines and why young men and women are sacrificed to protect access to oil, the lubricant for an acquisitive economic engine. The financial empire of the one percenters and the political order it has shaped are predicated on easy and relentless growth. How, we are asked, will there be enough for everyone if we don’t keep growing?

The fundamental contradiction of our time is this: we have built an all-encompassing economic engine that requires unending growth. A contraction of even a percent or two is a crisis, and yet we are embedded in ecosystems that are reaching or have reached their limits. This isn’t complicated: There’s only so much fertile soil or fresh water available, only so many fish in the ocean, only so much CO2 the planet can absorb and remain habitable.

Yes, you can get around this contradiction for a while by exploiting your neighbor’s habitat, using technological advances to extend your natural resources, and stealing from the future -- that is, using up soil, minerals, and water your grandchildren (someday to be part of that same 99%) will need. But the limits to those familiar and, in the past, largely successful strategies are becoming more evident all the time.

At some point, we’ll discover that you can’t exist for long beyond the boundaries of the natural world, that (as with every other species) if you overload the carrying capacity of your habitat, you crash. Warming temperatures, chaotic weather patterns, extreme storms, monster wildfires, epic droughts, Biblical floods, an avalanche of species extinction… that collapse is upon us now. In the human realm, it translates into hunger and violence, mass migrations and civil strife, failed states and resource wars.

Like so much else these days, the crash, as it happens, will not be suffered in equal measure by all of us. The one percenters will be atop the hill, while the 99% will be in the flood lands below swimming for their lives, clinging to debris, or drowning. The Great Recession has previewed just how that will work.

An unsustainable economy is inherently unfair, and worse is to come. After all, the car is heading for the cliff’s edge, the grandkids are in the backseat, and all we’re arguing about is who can best put the pedal to the metal.

Occupy Earth: Give credit where it’s due: it’s been the genius of the protesters in Zuccotti Park to shift public discourse to whether the distribution of economic burdens and rewards is just and whether the economic system makes us whole or reduces and divides us. It’s hard to imagine how we’ll address our converging ecological crises without first addressing the way accumulating wealth and power has captured the political system.

As long as Washington is dominated and intimidated by giant oil companies, Wall Street speculators, and corporations that can buy influence and even write the rules that make buying influence possible, there’s no meaningful way to deal with our economy’s addiction to fossil fuels and its dire consequences.

Nature’s 99% is an amazingly diverse community of species. They feed and share and recycle within a web of relationships so dynamic and complex that we have yet to fathom how it all fits together. What we have excelled at so far is breaking things down into their parts and then reassembling them; that, after all, is how a barrel of crude oil becomes rocket fuel or a lawn chair.

When it comes to the more chaotic, less linear features of life like climate, ecosystems, immune systems, or fetal development, we are only beginning to understand thresholds and feedback loops, the way the whole becomes greater than the sum of its parts. But we at least know that the parts matter deeply and that, before we even fully understand them, we’re losing them at an accelerating rate. Forests are dying, fisheries are going, extinction is on steroids.

Degrading the planet’s operating systems to bolster the bottom line is foolish and reckless. It hurts us all. No less important, it’s unfair. The 1% profit, while the rest of us cough and cope.
After Occupy Wall Street, isn’t it time for Occupy Earth?

• Chip Ward co-founded and led Families Against Incinerator Risk and HEAL Utah. A TomDispatch regular, he wrote about campaigns to make polluters accountable in Canaries on the Rim: Living Downwind in the West and about visionary conservationists in Hope’s Horizon: Three Visions for Healing the American Land.

Thoughts of Tom Englehardt (of Tom's Dispatch) on "Occupy Earth":
If your child has asthma and it’s getting worse, then news about the White House’s recent retreat on ozone (that is, smog) standards for the air over your city wasn’t exactly cause for cheering. Thank our environmental president for that, but mainly of course the Republicans, who have been out to kneecap the Environmental Protection Agency since the 2010 election results came in. We may be heading for an anything-blows environmental future, even though it couldn’t be more logical to assume that whatever is allowed into the air will sooner or later end up in us.

With a helping hand from that invaluable website Environmental Health News, here’s a little ladleful of examples from the chemical soup that could be not just your air, soil, or water, but you. It's only a few days' worth of news reports on what’s in our environment and so, for better or mostly worse, in us: In Dallas-Ft. Worth, there’s lead in the blood of children, thanks to leaded gasoline, banned decades ago, but still in the soil.

In New York’s Hudson River, “one of the largest toxic cleanups in U.S. history” (for PCBs in river sediments) is ongoing. Researchers now suspect that those chemicals, already linked to low birth weight, thyroid disease, and learning, memory, and immune system disorders,” are also associated with to high blood pressure. Then there’s mercury, that “potent neurotoxin that is especially dangerous to the developing brains of fetuses and children.” If allowed, it will enter the environment via a proposed open-pit gold and copper mine to be built in Alaska near “one of the world's premier salmon fisheries.”

And speaking of fish, there is ancient DDT, plus more modern PCBs and spilled oil in ocean sediments off California’s Palos Verdes Peninsula, a toxic superfund site, whose cleanup is now being planned. And don’t forget that uranium mill near Cañon City, Colorado, which “has the state's backing to permanently dispose of radioactive waste in its tailings ponds, despite state and independent reports over a 30-year period showing the ponds' liners leak.”

Or consider bisphenol-A, a chemical most of us now carry around in our bodies. It is used in the making of some plastic containers and “may cause behavior and emotional problems in young girls” according to a new study (as older studies indicated that it might effect “the brain development of fetuses and small children”).

Or think about the drinking water tested recently by the University of Tennessee Center for Environmental Biotechnology from six of 11 Tennessee utilities statewide that “contained traces of 17 chemicals found in insect repellent, ibuprofen, detergents, a herbicide, hormones, and chemical compounds found in plastics.” And that's just to dip a toe in polluted waters.

Increasingly, with the environment a chemical soup of our industrial processes, so are our bodies. No wonder TomDispatch regular and environmentalist Chip Ward suggests that activists occupying Wall Street should think even bigger.