Judge sides with Big-Ag

SOURCE: Shannon Rudolph (shannonkona@gmail.com)
SUBHEAD: Court strikes down ban on most genetically engineered crops as Big-Ag undermines will of Hawaiians.

By Staff on 26 November 2014 for Center for Food Safety -

Image above: demonstration against Sygenta's Kunia Gate on Big Island on 7/13/12. From (http://www.dougnote.com/2012/12/aina-fest-to-celebrate-active-year.html).

U.S. Magistrate Judge Barry Kurren today ruled Hawaii County Ordinance 13-121 invalid because the subject matter was one that must be regulated at the state level. The ordinance, passed by the County Council 6-3 in November 2013, would have banned most genetically engineered (GE) crops from being grown on the Big Island, with the exception of papaya.

Center for Food Safety and Earthjustice helped the county defend the law against the Biotechnology Industry Organization – the association for biotech companies like Monsanto and Dow Chemical.

The decision concluded that state “preemption” of the county ordinance is implied by state plant laws, despite the fact none of them even mention genetically engineered crops or were intended to regulate them. The court also refused the nonprofits’ request to send the state law question to the Hawaii Supreme Court to decide, despite being important state law questions of first impression.

Finally, the court rejected the chemical companies’ arguments that county and state regulation of commercialized genetically engineered crops was prohibited by federal law, but concluded federal law did prohibit regulation of some, but not all, experimental plantings.

The decision follows on the heels of a similar decision by the same judge regarding Kauai County Ordinance 960, a decision currently being appealed.

Additionally, the residents of Maui County just passed a ballot initiative to halt GE crop production until public safety tests can be conducted. That initiative is also being challenged by the biotech industry in court.

"Hawaii Island is a unique and important place,” said Nancy Redfeather, an organic farmer on the Big Island. “I am deeply disappointed that the court would agree with the chemical companies' arguments, stripping us of our right to make local agricultural decisions.”

Earthjustice attorney Paul Achitoff commented:
“Given Judge Kurren’s decision invalidating the Kaua`i County ordinance this ruling comes as no surprise. We believe he was wrong in concluding in both cases that Hawai`i law preempts county regulation of genetically engineered crops, and we’re confident the Court of Appeals will agree with us.”
“This decision is legally flawed and unfortunate, but the movement to save Hawai`i from becoming a poisoned paradise will not be deterred,” said George Kimbrell, senior attorney for Center for Food Safety. “We will continue to stand and defend the will of Hawaiian people to protect themselves, their local farms, and their environment from the harms of genetically engineered crops and their pesticides.”

Citing public health and environmental concerns, Ordinance 13-121 (previously Bill 113) passed the County Council with large public support. The ordinance banned the growing of new genetically engineered crops on the island. It also prohibited open-air testing of GE crops and included a $1000 per day fine for violations. The bill exempted crops that are already grown on the island, like the Rainbow papaya.

Large biotechnology companies such as Monsanto and Syngenta experiment with genetically engineered crops in Hawai`i because it offers year round growing conditions. Most of these crops are engineered to resist herbicides and pesticides.

Testing these crops means repeated spraying of dangerous chemicals near neighborhoods, schools, and waterways. In 2013 alone there were 1124 field test sites; California only hosted 184 sites. Across the state, residents are seeking to halt the practice.

Is Judge Connected to GMO Company?

By Jon Rappoport on 14 November 2014 for NoMoreFakeNews.com -

Image above: Faye Watenabe Kurren, former President, Tesoro Hawaii; President & CEO, Hawaii Dental Services (HDS); Chair, University of Hawaii Foundation Board of Trustees; Trustee, The Nature Conservancy; Director, First Hawaiian Bank; Director, First Insurance Company of Hawaii, Inc. She is a graduate of Punahou School; William S. Richardson School of Law graduate, 1979 (classmate of former Bishop Estate trustee Gerard A. Jervis and Judge Reynaldo D. Graulty); wife of Judge Barry Kurren. From (https://sites.google.com/site/thepunahoualbum/home/faye-watanabe-kurren) and (https://sites.google.com/site/justicevsharmonwitnesses/home/faye-w-kurren).

After the citizens of Maui just voted to stop Monsanto and Dow from further GMO development, Monsanto filed suit.

Barry Kurren is the US federal magistrate overseeing the court battle between Maui and Monsanto.

Judge Kurren’s wife, Faye, is the past president of the University of Hawaii Foundation, which is the fund-raising arm of the University.

On September 6, 2011, Monsanto donated $500,000 to the University to establish a Monsanto Research Fellows Fund for “plant science.”

On July 8, 2010, Monsanto gave $100,000 to University for its scholarship fund.

Judge Kurren’s wife, Faye, has also served as a trustee of the Nature Conservancy, which has a long-established relationship with Monsanto. From the Conservancy’s website: “Monsanto has supported the Nature Conservancy for years.”

Presently, Kurren’s wife is a board member of the First Hawaiian Bank. On its website, there is this quote of “GMO praise” (page 4 of 6):
“Kauai is an ideal research laboratory for the seed corn industry…there are currently five parent seed corn operations on the island: [biotech GM giants] Pioneer Hi-Bred…Syngenta, Dow Monsanto, and BASF. Dow Agrosciences recently leased 3,400 acres of former sugar land…”
These academic, corporate, non-profit, bank connections are part of Hawaii’s overall social and political networks, which form a “community of interest.”

What would happen if Judge Kurren suddenly ruled against Monsanto? How many shocks would ripple out into protected interests? How many social friendships would suddenly collapse? How embarrassing would it be for Faye Kurren?

How much easier would it be to “honor” those connections and friendships and moneyed interests by siding with Monsanto?

See also:

Where Big-Ag is taking Hawaii

SUBHEAD: Photos from Argentina’s farms, documenting an agrochemical plague created by Monsanto.

By Natacha Pisarenko on 21 October 2013 for the Denver Post -

Image above: Silvia Alvarez leans against her red brick home while keeping an eye on her son, Ezequiel Moreno, who was born with hydrocephalus, in Gancedo, in Chaco province, Argentina. 

Alvarez blames continuous exposure to agrochemical spraying for two miscarriages and her son's health problems. Chaco provincial birth reports show that congenital defects quadrupled in the decade after genetically modified crops and their related agrochemicals arrived. From original photo essay.
American biotechnology has turned Argentina into the world’s third-largest soybean producer, but the chemicals powering the boom aren’t confined to soy and cotton and corn fields.

They routinely contaminate homes and classrooms and drinking water. A growing chorus of doctors and scientists is warning that their uncontrolled use could be responsible for the increasing number of health problems turning up in hospitals across the South American nation.

In the heart of Argentina’s soybean business, house-to-house surveys of 65,000 people in farming communities found cancer rates two to four times higher than the national average, as well as higher rates of hypothyroidism and chronic respiratory illnesses. Associated Press photographer Natacha Pisarenko spent months documenting the issue in farming communities across Argentina.

Most provinces in Argentina forbid spraying pesticides and other next to homes and schools, with bans ranging in distance from 50 meters to as much as several kilometers from populated areas.

The Associated Press found many cases of soybeans planted only a few feet from homes and schools, and of chemicals mixed and loaded onto tractors inside residential neighborhoods.

In the last 20 years, agrochemical spraying has increased eightfold in Argentina- from 9 million gallons in 1990 to 84 million gallons today.

Glyphosate, the key ingredient in Monsanto’s Round Up products, is used roughly eight to ten times more per acre than in the United States.

Yet Argentina doesn’t apply national standards for farm chemicals, leaving rule-making to the provinces and enforcement to the municipalities. The result is a hodgepodge of widely ignored regulations that leave people dangerously exposed.

Click on link to see photographic essay of the impact of GMOs and glyphosate (RoundUp) on the local rural people of Argentina.

Word out on Roundup soaked wheat

SUBHEAD: The Prepper community is doing more than hording freeze dried food and ammo. They are avoiding GMOs and Roundup.

By Juan Wilson on 24 November 2014 for Island Breath -

Image above: No GMO wheat has been FDA approved, but that doesn't mean Monsanto has to stay out of the wheat business. They demonstrated to farmers that harvesting non-GMO wheat was easier by spraying it first with RoundUp. From (http://www.earthyreport.com/site/class-action-suit-hits-monsanto-over-wheat-gmo/).

Below are two articles on disaster/collapse preparedness that I read the day before yesterday. They seemed specifically about different subjects. One was a recipe for making hard tack biscuits and the other was an overview of selecting a survival retreat before a major crisis begins.

As different as the specific subjects were, they shared a common bit of advise - Stay away from GMO food and the pesticides that surround them!

The hard tack biscuit recipe included this:
Just make sure that you use a good quality flour for your hard tack. Bleached flour has been stripped of many of its nutrients, and modern day wheat is often genetically modified and soaked in pesticides.
.  The strategic retreat article included this:
And, avoid land that has GMO crops planted on it—especially the “Round-up Ready” variety.  Round-up pollutes the soil and some of its chemicals permanently bind to soil minerals.  Remediation is costly.
I found it fascinating that two articles published on the same day on such diverse aspects surviving the future would advise avoiding the technology of the big agro-chemical food industry.

These pieces follow this article on November 125th from a site called the Organic Prepper:

Maybe you aren't actually Gluten intolerant - Maybe your'e just Poison intolerant
(http://www.theorganicprepper.ca/maybe-you-arent-actually-gluten-intolerant-maybe-youre-just-poison-intolerant-11152014) or (http://islandbreath.blogspot.com/2014/11/gluten-or-glyphosate-intolerance.html). The gist of the article is that even non-GMO wheat is soaked with RoundUp (glyphosate) before harvest to shrivel the plants and make them easier for machines to thresh.

My wife, Linda, and I tested sensitive to wheat gluten in 2006 and have avoided wheat food products since. We have been buying rice based breads or other substitutes for wheat ever since. We have been buying some of our gluten free bread from Hanapepe Town baker, Midnight Bear. They also sell organic wheat loafs.

After reading the Organic Prepper article last week we queried Midnight Bear about their bread and were assured it was glyphosate and GMO free. Last Fridsay night we bought an organic wheat loaf and ate most of it over the weekend with no gluten sensitivity reaction.

This of course is incidental evidence, but we intend to continue experimenting with organic RoundUp free wheat and see if Monsanto is the problem and not the grain.

[Author's note on 11/28/14:It appears that the organic wheat may be RoundUp free, but Linda and I had a distinct reaction that appeared to be caused by gluten reaction to the Midnight Bear bread loaf we consumed.]

What is likely not incidental is the rise in sensitivity to wheat products in the last several years after the practice of spraying RoundUp on wheat before harvest exploded.

Making Hard Tack Biscuits
SUBHEAD: How to make hard tack biscuits that have a 50 year shelf life.
By Joshua Krause on 22 November 2014 for ready Nutrician -

Until the 18th century, there weren’t very many ways to store food for long periods of time. You could dehydrate produce and beef, and turn dairy into cheese, but beyond that your options were limited. And even then, the amount of time you could preserve that food was limited.

Nowadays we have canning, freeze drying, food additives, vacuum sealing, and even irradiation. Obviously, many of these methods aren’t very healthy, but they have given us the ability to preserve our food for many years, and even decades.

There is only one ancient food that can stack up against modern methods of preservation, and it was known as hard tack. If you’ve ever been to a civil war reenactment, you may have seen the actors munching on this hard biscuit. However, hard tack predates the American Civil War by several thousand years. Records show that ancient Egyptian and Roman sailors had their own version of hard tack.

But the Civil War is what most people remember it from, and it was that war that proved the extreme longevity of this hardy biscuit. Much of the initial supplies fed to Union and Confederate troops were leftovers from the Mexican-American War, and so much hard tack was made during the Civil War, that it wouldn’t be completely eaten until the Spanish American War; a whole 50 years later.

So how do you go about making this long lasting biscuit? Well there are several different recipes, but the most common one contains 4 cups of flour, 2 cups of water, and 3 teaspoons of salt. Mix it all together until you have a consistent dough, and roll it out into a square sheet. Typically the dough is about a 1/2″ thick, and is cut into 3×3 inch squares.

From here you want to use a fork or a chopstick to press 12 to 16 dimples into each square.  Make them fairly deep, but not so deep that they puncture the biscuit. Afterwards you should flip the dough over and press more dimples into the back. These perforations will allow the heat to dehydrate the inner layers of the dough.

Now preheat the oven for 350-375 degrees, and place your squares on an ungreased cookie sheet. Once the oven is ready, you’ll want to cook them for 30 minutes, then flip them over and bake them for another 30 minutes.

Once they’re ready, check their consistency. If they’re soft and crumbly, then they may need to go back into the oven. They’re still edible, but they need to be really dry if you want them to last a long time. Once you’re satisfied with the results, you can let them rest and harden for a few days. You’ll know that you did a good job if the biscuits are hard enough to give you a concussion.

Fortunately you won’t be eating them in that state. Simply soak them in milk, water, or coffee for 10 or 15 minutes, and they should be sufficiently soft for eating. Or if you’d like to will the biscuits to your grandchildren, keep them in an airtight container, and they’ll stay fresh well into your twilight years.

Just make sure that you use a good quality flour for your hard tack. Bleached flour has been stripped of many of its nutrients, and modern day wheat is often genetically modified and soaked in pesticides

Find yourself some flour that is made from a higher quality wheat such as einkorn, spelt, or emmer.
[IB Publisher's note: Any certified organic wheat available should be free of GMO and RoundUp.]

And even if you prefer canned or freeze dried food for your prepping supplies, you should still try making hard tack sometime. It’s a simple but useful skill that you can use to make your flour supplies last forever.

• Joshua Krause was born and raised in the Bay Area. He is a writer and researcher focused on principles of self-sufficiency and liberty at Ready Nutrition. Joshua’s website is Strange Danger

Overview of Survival Retreat Strategies

SUBHEAD: The need for a retreat strategy and a safe physical place to go in a crisis is a core concept of preparedness.

By Joel Skousen on 22 November 2014 for SHTF Plan -

The need for a retreat strategy and a physical place to go in a crisis is a core concept of preparedness, and the reason is simple:  Most people live in unsafe major metropolitan areas and can’t relocate because they are tied to a job, and the jobs are tied to the city. Sadly, all metro areas are unsafe simply because hundreds of thousands of people are concentrated in one area and completely dependent on a fragile set supply infrastructure that will someday fail in a major way.

Even people with a lot of money who still work often can’t afford to live in rural safety full time because of the time, expense and impracticality of commuting long distance to work.  Even if they did choose to do that, the breadwinner(s) is at risk of being trapped in the city at the workplace (or in transit) when something big goes down.

A popular phrase among preppers is to prepare to “bug-out” (bug-out bag, bug-out vehicle, bug-out location, etc.). It’s not my favorite concept because it implies having to get out of town in a hurry because you got surprised like everyone else by the sudden crisis.  And, that puts you at risk of being caught in the inevitable Katrina-like traffic jams—and you know how that turned out.

I, for one, want as much advance notice as possible so I don’t get stuck trying to “bug-out” at the last minute.  That’s why I keep track of what’s going on in the world, in detail, and not just from alternative sources, which are often filled with disinformation.  I especially like to track what the Powers That Be are planning for us in their hidden agenda related to global control and the continual wars they create in order to give them the excuse to diminish liberty.  That’s the primary reason why I publish the weekly World Affairs Brief. Any of you can get a free sample copy just by emailing me at “editor” @ worldaffairsbrief.com.

Preparing to bug-out, of course, is better than nothing (and usually the cheapest part of preparing), but you really need someplace to go that is prepared as a retreat, complete with shelter and long-term food and water supplies. That can be as simple as a camp you’ve prepared in advance with buried supplies (a tough go in the winter) or a cabin in the mountains you’ve prepared perhaps together with relatives or like-minded friends, which is a whole different level of expenditure.

Rural Mountain Retreat
The rural mountain retreat in a forested area is the first thing people think about in a retreat strategy, and it does provide safety from the masses when you select a location not visible from any paved roads and concealed among trees.  But there are two major risks in choosing a remote mountainous location:
  1. You have to be able to get there, and distance and terrain can present a problem.
  2. ou must have concealed, hardened basement space for your storage and significant security features on windows, walls and doors to ensure your stockpiles will still be there when you arrive.

    Lonely cabins in the mountains are often targets for theft and break-ins from hunters or others simply taking advantage of the isolated situation where detection of crime is improbable.

The main disadvantage of the mountain cabin retreat is that such properties are rarely suitable for growing, either because of altitude or rocky, sloped soil.  This is especially true in the West.  In the East most of the mountains are low in enough that altitude is not a problem, but tree shading and sloping rocky soil is.

So, while the mountain retreat offers great short term retreat safety, it may be a problem during a long-term famine that is very likely during a major social breakdown caused by the grid going down or a nuclear war.  Don’t disregard the war scenario out of hand.

Anyone who is watching the growing aggression of Russia and China can see that this coming threat as a grim future reality, despite the continual denial by government and the establishment media.  But, it is telling that our government (and retired insiders) are making major preparations for nuclear war, so they know something they aren’t telling the rest of us about.

Stored food supplies are limited depending on how much you can afford and how much secure storage space you have, in a secure location.  The longer the period of social unrest lasts—and it will get worse the longer public services are out of commission—the increased likelihood that your stored supplies will run out and you’ll have to revert to growing food.  Those who are relying upon a suburban garden plot for food during a widespread famine and social unrest will find their efforts overrun with hungry, desperate people stealing food even before it is ripe.

Rural Farm Retreat
All of this points to the need for a rural farm retreat is to be able to grow food during the first or second growing season during war or as the result of long term social unrest when urban infrastructure and supplies are halted.  A farm retreat can serve the same purpose as a mountain retreat if it is far enough away from major refugee flows and hidden from view.  That’s harder to do with a farm because farmland requires large sunny open areas and relatively flat land, as well as access to irrigation or well water.  But it can be done.

One of the most important features to look for in a survival farm is privacy. Good farm land is usually in the proximity of other farms.  Try to find land that has fairly dense forested areas between the fields and any passing roads. Southern Missouri and Southeastern Oklahoma are a couple of the best states for finding prime farmland interspersed with hills and trees. Parts of eastern Kansas also are good.

In those states the tree cover is mostly deciduous, meaning they lose their leaves in winter, diminishing your privacy.  So, you may have to augment the tree cover with dense bushes or conifer trees that provide cover even in winter.  Fencing and gates are also important to deter entrance, and to give you one more important confirmation that any intruder found on your property just didn’t wander across unimpeded.

Farms out in the Far West don’t have a lot of tree cover, except in northern Idaho and Montana, where fir and pine trees abound at lower altitudes. And, make sure the farmland comes with irrigation water rights.

In some of the desert states you even have to have a water right to give up in order to obtain a permit to drill a well for a home and garden. Have the soil tested for fertility and mineral composition.

And, avoid land that has GMO crops planted on it—especially the “Round-up Ready” variety.  Round-up pollutes the soil and some of its chemicals permanently bind to soil minerals.  Remediation is costly.

Remember to keep the defensive criteria in mind as you shop around for your property. Sometimes it can be easy to get enchanted with a spectacular stream or beautiful meadow and building spot and not realize that the property may have defensive issues. After you have found that perfect retreat be sure and check out these two informational articles on OPSEC and Retreat Defense.

Check out Strategic Relocation for the latest private listing on farm and mountain retreat land where many new Colorado properties have come on the site and contact Todd Savage to get confidential referrals to Survival Realtors.


The Only Way to Stop the Empire

SUBHEAD: The results of collapse later are likely to be worse then the effects of tax revolt now.

By Gary Flomenhoft on 24 November 2014 for Club Orlov -

Image above: World War One war bonds (tax) promotion with a few added words by Juan Wilson. From (http://www.ninjamarketing.it/2011/09/21/pubblicita-e-guerra-15-annunci-vintage/).

The final days of US empire are fast approaching. Perhaps its end will pass slowly and gradually, or perhaps the event will unfold rapidly and catastrophically. Maybe chaos will break loose, or maybe its demise will be organized well and proceed smoothly. This nobody knows, but the end of empire is coming as surely as day follows night and sun follows rain.

 Over-expansion, overreach and over-indebtedness will take their toll—as all past empires have discovered. Empires are like bacteria in a Petrie dish; unthinking, unseeing, unfeeling, they expand until they run out of food or contaminate their environment with their waste, and then they die. They are automatons, and they just can’t help it: they are programmed to expand or die, expand or die, and, in the end, expand and die.

What does the empire feed on? It feeds on money and fear; your money and your fear, both obtained with your cooperation. It is bigger now than when it faced an actual adversary in the Soviet Union. Russia is no adversary; all it wants is to be a normal country, at peace with the world. But the empire won’t let it, will it? It must create enemies.

Who are our enemies?

According to the authors of endless war they are North Korea, Iran, Syria, and Islamic terrorists. Are any of them actually capable of threatening the US? Well, yes, but they are all quite easy to deter. But the plan of the authors of endless war is not to deter them; it is to back them into a corner with political instability and sanctions, while whipping up the population on both sides into fear-filled frenzy.

We all know that the US military-industrial complex has become a self-perpetuating and uncontrollable organism, just like Dwight D. Eisenhower warned us in 1961.

Everyone knows the phrase and Eisenhower's warning—it is part of our collective memory. At a trillion dollars a year and growing, with over 1000 bases ringing the planet, it has expanded far beyond what Eisenhower could have imagined in his worst nightmare. We can’t say we didn’t know: he warned us.

After the National-Socialist episode in Germany, many good Germans voiced regrets at not speaking up, claiming that they didn’t know what was being done in their name. But we do not have that excuse: we all knew all along.

Nor was it the first time we were warned. General Smedley Butler told us before, in 1933, and his words are still with us, posted online. Why is it that everyone, generals included, suddenly gain wisdom immediately upon reaching retirement?

Butler offered an explanation: his “mind was in suspended animation while serving as a soldier and following orders.” In 1933 Butler told us that he “was a racketeer, a gangster for capitalism.” He said:
“I helped make Mexico, especially Tampico, safe for American oil interests in 1914. I helped make Haiti and Cuba a decent place for the National City Bank boys to collect revenues in. I helped in the raping of half a dozen Central American republics for the benefits of Wall Street. The record of racketeering is long. I helped purify Nicaragua for the international banking house of Brown Brothers in 1909-1912…I brought light to the Dominican Republic for American sugar interests in 1916. In China I helped to see to it that Standard Oil went its way unmolested.”
This empire is nothing new, and we knew what it is and what it does all along. We can’t say we didn’t know. We have watched throughout our lives as the US put down every popular uprising against local autocrats and oligarchs, placed countries under US control, then helped organize and train the death squads that killed off the opposition.

Think of Indonesia, Argentina, or Honduras. We watched as the empire crushed every democratic government that threatened US business interests under the false pretext of “anti-communism,” starting with Iran in 1953, Guatemala in 1954, and proceeding to Congo, Haiti (numerous times), and most notably and infamously Chile in 1973 (assassinating president Salvador Allende on September 11, 1973), Nicaragua in the 1980’s, and many, many others. (For details see William Blum’s Killing Hope.)

And of course, many of us lived through the epic lies and genocide of millions in Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia during the so-called “Vietnam War.” We knew, we watched, and we paid taxes that paid for the bullets and the bombs.

More recently we’ve seen the barefaced lies of empire laid out for all to see in Iraq, Libya, Syria, Afghanistan, Somalia, Georgia, Pakistan, Yemen, Ukraine... they never end! But the trouble we stir up in other places never seems to come home and ring our doorbell, does it? Maybe that’s why it keeps on going. We think that we can just ignore it and go on with our lives—that it won’t affect us. Or does it?

Let’s leave aside the destruction of democracy that always accompanies a militarized, fascist police state that the US has gradually turned into. And let’s ignore the violence that pervades US society, or the vast gulag of incarceration that disposes of our useless eaters.

 Consider that the only military attack on US soil that actually scored a palpable hit since Pearl Harbor was 9/11. Pearl Harbor was on the periphery, way out in the Pacific, “A Day that will live in Infamy,” the more so since FDR knew it was coming and did all he could to provoke it by cutting Japan off from oil supplies, directly provoking it into launching the attack.

But Hawaii is the periphery while 9/11 struck at the heart of the empire, the financial center in New York that drives the imperial wealth pump, and the Pentagon, which is charged with the mission of US world domination.

Whether you believe that 19 Arabs armed with box cutters who couldn’t fly propeller planes took down 3 World Trade buildings that plummeted straight down at the speed of freefall in what looked like controlled demolition (yes there were 3, look up “Building 7”), and destroyed a section of the Pentagon, or whether you believe it was an inside job, doesn’t matter. The point is, in that act of destruction, the wars of the empire finally came home.

What was the result? Did these events cause us to reconsider what we are doing? Of course not! Instead, we went all-in for war. Remember, the empire is an automaton, a self-perpetuating organism, living on money and fear.

What better way to whip up fear than to stage, or to allow, or to simply fail to prevent, an attack on the “homeland”—which is, by the way, a Nazi propaganda term. The purpose of war is simply to cause more war, since it is so profitable for the badly misnamed “defense industry.”

Butler told us in 1933 that “war is a racket,” and documented massive war profiteering during WWI. Do you know how much money Lockheed, Northrop-Grumman, Boeing, General Dynamics, Raytheon et al. are making from the “War on Terror”? The sums are astronomical.

As you read these words, the empire is busy doing its work in Ukraine. Here is how that works. First, it overthrows the elected government in a US-backed coup.

Next, it directs its local puppet regime to unleash a military attack and organize death squads to deal with the population in the east that won't go along with the US-backed coup, in this case using actual Nazi-branded death squads, complete with Nazi SS Insignias. (Anyone can verify these facts with the most cursory internet search.)

And for the final, consummate imperialist touch, it votes in the UN (together with Canada) against a resolution condemning the Ukrainian Nazis and other racist murderers, while the Europeans shamefacedly abstain. This sort of plan used to work really well, and so the empire keeps repeating it over and over again, even though the results are worse every time.

Vast numbers of Americans support the empire’s wars of conquest because they help maintain their lavish lifestyles. They bother some of us more than others. Many of us are adamantly against them, but only a few find it emotionally unbearable to countenance the destruction of millions of lives in our names and with our money. What makes them different? Who knows, you would have to ask a psychologist.

The question for those who oppose endless war is, What have we done about it? A mass movement in the 1960’s that added up to an uprising by a vast segment of society perhaps had something to do with ending the conflict in Vietnam.

In spite of these protests, the empire was able to extend the war by an extra five years all the way to 1973, when it agreed to end it on the same terms that had been offered in 1968 to Nobel “peace laureate” Henry Kissinger. There has been no significant anti-war protest since then, and certainly none that succeeded in preventing or ending war. Why?

First, the draft was ended. This put an end to the involvement of average US families in the wars of empire, and therefore ending the requirement for consent of the governed. The strategists realized that the draft was a disaster for the empire.

The new, much better and cheaper way to procure cannon fodder for the endless war is to enlist the children of the underclass, by using economic oppression in order to deprive them of any other means of advancement except military service.

Second, the military has been outsourced and privatized, requiring even less involvement by US families in the military, and less need for their consent. “You’re all volunteers, so shut up” is the attitude.

Third, the vastly increased scope of domestic spying by the NSA and other government agencies has helped keep everyone under control and stifle dissent.

Fourth is the tight government/corporate control of the US media, which has become consummately successful in brainwashing and propagandizing the population.

Finally, there is the war on whistleblowers and journalists who expose the truth, from Tom Drake to William Binney, Sibel Simons, Jesselyn Radack, Bradley Manning and Julian Assange. If necessary, the police, who are vastly more militarized than in the past, together with national guard troops, can squash any dissent like a bug.

All these measures ensure that efforts at reform pursued through legal, nonviolent means such as voting, protest, civil disobedience, civil resistance, etc. will have absolutely no effect. The only action that can possibly stop the empire in its tracks is cutting off its food supply—the tax money on which it lives. We have to starve the beast through divestment, capital expatriation, tax resistance, tax refusal and tax revolt.

Former Secretary of State Alexander Haig told us this flat out in the 1980’s when, being confronted with huge protests over US Central American policy, he said: “Let them protest all they want as long as they pay their taxes.”

Truer words were never uttered by a US official.

Is there any evidence to contradict his statement? Has any other measure had any impact on the war machine? The honest answer is no. Millions of people around the world protested before the 2003 invasion of Iraq. These protests were ignored.

No amount of protest or other efforts can stop it, because it doesn’t cut off the empire’s food supply of money and fear. Only by cutting off its funds by not paying taxes can we stop the empire.

Many have said that the US doesn’t need tax money as it survives on endless debt. Yes, the empire lives on debt, but the ability to sell debt is based on the bond rating of US treasury bonds. Most recently in June, 2014 S&P gave the US a AA+ rating with “stable outlook.”

If there is any doubt about the US credit rating, the ability to sell debt to continue financing the empire comes into question. The ability to collect taxes is what maintains the US bond rating.

Any reduction of the US bond rating, and interest rates have to go up in order to continue attracting more investment. Then the interest on the debt balloons out of control and becomes unrepayable—never mind the principal, which they have no intention of ever paying back.

By the way, the Tea Party’s efforts to shut down government by refusing to raise the debt ceiling was helping this effort for a time, although for different reasons. They thought that the welfare system is bankrupting the country.

This is a laughable claim, because welfare spending looks negligible when compared to military spending. Still, they did manage to lower the bond rating for a time. Shutting down the federal government is a step in the right direction, and since in recent years only the Tea Party has managed to do it, lets give them some credit

If the US became unable to reliably collect taxes, then its ability to finance the empire with debt would be diminished, and the US would have to turn to increasing taxes—another politically unpalatable choice, especially in the age of the Tea Party, when the empire’s main constituency is dead-set against more taxes.

So it is absolutely clear that the only thing that could stop the empire is a tax revolt. It wouldn’t even have to be that big; the slightest question about the ability of the federal government to collect taxes could reduce the bond rating. Even a minor reduction could raise interest rates enough to make the US debt unrepayable.

Let's get down to brass tacks: How do you avoid paying taxes, when the IRS withholds our salaries, and the tables are rigged to withhold about 15% more than necessary on average, so 80% of people get a refund? Did you think that this is a coincidence? No, this is a one-year interest-free loan to the empire from taxpayers.

But it’s actually quite simple not to pay taxes. Get a W-4 form, write EXEMPT in the space provided, and turn it in to your friendly HR office. Your employer is not allowed to change it unless directed by the IRS. Normally they have no reason to question it.

Here’s what happened last time it was tried on a big scale. In 2007, Code Pink joined the War Resisters League to organize a national project for war tax refusal, to “Stop Bush’s Wars.” This was not a true tax revolt, just more or less a referendum on how many people would potentially support withholding a portion of their taxes owed, even a token amount.

The online petition asked people if they would be willing to commit to withhold some of their taxes, even $1, if 100,000 other people would agree to do the same. Out of the US population of 316 million, how many people do you think signed it? About 2,000. So you see, there is not much evidence that people will do the only thing that could stop the empire: a true Tea Party tax revolt.

What this implies is that the empire will continue to churn along, and debt will continue to build up, because any other approach to paying for it is not feasible, and therefore collapse is inevitable.

The aftermath of collapse is unpredictable; maybe there will be a soft landing, maybe not. But unless you are willing to engage in some form of tax revolt, collapse is inevitable. You will get to live with the results: stage a tax revolt now, or face collapse later.

Are you sure you want to take your chances on collapse? The results of a personal tax revolt are predictable: retribution with penalties and interest from the IRS; living in fear of having your salary, your property, even your house seized, or worse, your door broken down by federal agents (although these extreme measures don’t happen too often, they happen often enough to instill fear).

Perhaps there would be loss of income, or even your job. Losing one’s job often leads to depression, divorce, drug or alcohol abuse, etc. So you may prefer collapse after all: loss of your savings, no heat, electricity or trash removal, shops looted or closed, armed gangs roaming the streets... Your choice!

On the other hand, collapse might go well! Hope springs eternal in the optimistic American heart. We are (or used to be) the “can-do” people. Maybe we can-do collapse better than anyone else? Doubtful though if you read Dmitry Orlov’s Collapse Gap presentation.

The results of collapse later are likely to be worse then the effects of tax revolt now. Especially, since the IRS takes years to catch up to exempt W-4 forms, and it would be even harder to crack down if it were being was done en masse.

But it’s perfectly understandable if you opt to do nothing now and suffer no consequences, while engaging in ineffective protest to assuage your conscience. You probably have a family to support, an expensive hobby, or some other excuse. So you decide to take your chances with collapse later. After all, collapse might turn out OK for you! This psychology is quite understandable.

I truly hope that collapse will be as painless as you wish it will be, but somehow I doubt it. Good luck though! Whatever happens, you will have to live with your decision for the rest of your life—be it long or short.


It's when And what you eat

SUBHEAD: Eating along with the cycles of the natural world may aid your digestion, your sleep and your health.

By Rebecca Tolin on 8 November 2014 for Mother Nature Network -

Image above: Something savory for breakfast. From (http://www.2stews.com/2010/04/light-spring-brunch.html).

What if you could eat more and gain less weight? Or eat at a different time and feel more energy? It may sound like a gimmick, but 5,000 years of wisdom show us that living in tune with nature can help balance our weight, blossom our energy and clear our minds.

With Ayurveda, yoga's sister science and arguably the oldest recorded medical system on the planet, it's not just what we eat, but when we eat it.

"Lunch, Ayurvedically, is designed to be the main meal of the day," says Mark Bunn, a Maharishi Ayurveda practitioner and author of "Ancient Wisdom for Modern Health." "Lunch is like the foundation of your house.

Regularly skipping lunch or eating on the run when you're doing something else is like pulling the foundations out from under the house. Eventually the whole house comes crashing down."

This sounds revolutionary for Westerners, whose largest meal and family gathering is dinner. And we've been told for years that breakfast is the most important meal of the day (although new studies have started to refute that). But we also face chronic disease epidemics for which modern medicine has few cures.

At a recent talk at the Transcendental Meditation center in San Diego, Bunn pointed out that native peoples and the world's longest living inhabitants thrive by living in harmony with the seasons and cycles of the natural world.

According to Ayurveda, we're made of the same elements as nature — space, air, earth, water and fire. When the sun peaks in the sky at high noon, so does the digestive fire in our bellies.

Think of a sputtering bonfire getting started in the morning. You stoke it slowly with kindling, rather than a pile of logs. Analogously, Bunn recommends beginning the day with a light breakfast — instead of a heaping plate of sweet, sticky ooey gooey that will dampen the flame.

By midday, however, the fire is ablaze. Digestive fire peaks between 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., noon being the apex. The best news about this window? You can eat more and gain less.

What your body can't eliminate, it stores. In Ayurveda, toxins called Ama block the subtle channels of the body. That can contribute to joint pain, arthritis, poor circulation, constipation, irritable bowel syndrome, autoimmune conditions, even cancers, according to Bunn.

By evening, the sun is setting and so is our digestive fire. If we sit down to a mountain of supper, we're eating beyond our capacity to digest. And that's where our life force goes during sleep: digestion. But there's a big down side.

Bunn says big dinners hamper our body from performing vital overnight functions like detoxifying the liver, repairing tissue and storing memories in the brain.

"The main reason we wake up feeling like a log is large, heavy dinners," Bunn said.

For years, even in the traditional world, that's why health care practitioners have discouraged eating heavy meals too late at night. The adage "eat late, gain weight" isn't so much because of the time of the meal, however. It's more because we're likely to choose higher-calorie foods when we're dining and snacking later at night. 

Planning your day, Ayurveda-style
According to Ayurveda, here's how our body clock works best. (Keep in mind this is optimal, not what you have to do tomorrow!)
Ideal time is 9 a.m. to 10 a.m., after exercise and meditation. Keep it light and choose savory rather than sweet, as your appetite allows.

Ideal time is noon to 12:30 p.m. Eat your main meal, including harder-to-digest foods like dairy, nuts and meat at this time, if at all. If you're not hungry, eat less breakfast tomorrow.

Ideal time is 3 p.m. to 4 p.m. Fruit or nuts with tea can curb your appetite for a hearty dinner. The snack is optional.

The earlier the better. Stick with light and easy-to-digest foods, such as cooked vegetables, soups and grains or simply eat less harder-to- digest foods.
This is how traditional cultures have lived, and the world's longest-living inhabitants in places like Hunza, Pakistan and Campodimele, Italy continue to thrive, Bunn says. Think of families gathering for a long midday meal followed by a siesta in Italy, Spain and much of the Latin world. When we

live in tune with the pulse in and around us, we enjoy greater well-being. When we override our natural rhythms, our health will suffer in some way, Bunn says.

"Wherever you can, shift your main meal of the day from the evening when the sun has set towards the middle of the day," Bunn says. "I guarantee that your energy levels and the quality of your sleep will go through the roof. If you've been trying to lose a few pounds, regardless of exercise or diet, you can lose more weight more easily than anything else."

This freelance writer is testing out Bunn's guarantee for herself, with encouraging results so far. A little nut butter and steamed almond milk does me just fine, sans the guilt of not eating a big breakfast like I've always been told I should.

No more dining with the laptop over a late lunch, or those after-dinner snacks for no reason other than comfort and habit.

Sure, being a social creature in the 21st century means some later dinners than our cave-dwelling ancestors enjoyed — but now I'm more mindful of what I eat after dark and how I feel the next sunrise. Observing cause and effect is a powerful tool.

For the many people who have short lunch breaks at work and cherished evenings with family at home, it's equally important to respect your situation and make the changes you can without adding stress. Take that 45-minute lunch break your boss affords you and look at something other than a glowing screen.

Tune into the smells, flavors and textures of the food that nourishes you. Consider weighting your dinner plate with vegetarian fare, or simply skip seconds. Stay away from ice water, which hastily extinguishes that much-needed digestive flame and sip room temperature beverages or warm tea.

As I do, you may find this exciting in its splendid simplicity at times, and utterly impossible at others. There's always the sky to look to, that endless mirror for what's happening inside our very own bellies, and the simple comfort of coming back to a living, breathing world working its eternal mysteries through us.



SOURCE: Gorden Labetz (glabedzmd@aol.com)
SUBHEAD: PMRF propaganda says navy exercises not harmful to marine life, but facts disagree.

By Chris D'Angelo on 21 November 2014 for the Garden Island -

Image above: A pod of dolphins swims in front of the USNS Alan Shepard. From article below.

[IB Publisher note: Below this TGI piece is by KPBS from August 2013 that indicates the Navy has negotiated a five year agreement that would allow "takes" or killings of hundreds of sea mammals and injuring of thousands of others in exercises like RIMPAC]

The U.S. Pacific Fleet in Pearl Harbor says community concerns that the Rim of the Pacific maritime exercise and Kauai’s Pacific Missile Range Facility are negatively impacting marine life are unfounded.

In early October, after hearing from several constituents, Hawaii Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard requested information about the Navy’s efforts to monitor the effects of RIMPAC and PMRF on the ocean and marine ecosystems.

“In response to concerns of your constituents, there has been no scientific evidence that RIMPAC 2014 or exercises at the Pacific Missile Range Facility (PMRF) have caused damage to marine life,” USPF Commander Adm. Harry B. Harris Jr. wrote in a response to Gabbard.

In his three-page letter, Harris discussed the aggressive steps taken by the Navy to avoid harming marine mammals, sea turtles and corals, through the use of protective measures during training, especially with sonar and explosives.

Harris also pointed out that the Navy funded over $300 million in independent research over the past 10 years, making it a world leader in marine mammal research and monitoring.

“The Navy works with regulatory agencies, using the best available science, to obtain necessary authorizations and continues to further our understanding of marine mammals through research and monitoring,” he wrote.

Others, however, say the military exercises are harming marine life.

Katherine Muzik, a local marine biologist, said it is proven — as written about in Joshua Horwitz’s book “War of the Whales” — that sonar is lethal to whales. It is only logical, she said, that it would also have deleterious, if not lethal, effects on invertebrates, including shrimp and coral, which rely on vibrations for detecting prey, escaping predators and reproducing.

“I would bet on my life that sonar is hurting other creatures,” she said. “We don’t have the proof, but the absence of proof doesn’t mean it’s an absence of fact.”

Muzik said that with so many factors already damaging the marine environment — warming ocean temperatures, acidification and pollution — for the U.S. military to insist on purposefully, knowingly and deliberately maiming and killing marine life in the name of practice is unacceptable and tragic.

In August 2013, a pair of environmental impact statements detailed that U.S. Navy training and testing activities could inadvertently kill hundreds of whales and dolphins — an injure thousands more — between 2014 and 2018. The studies included waters off the East Coast, the Gulf of Mexico, Southern California and Hawaii.

Most of the deaths — as many as 155 off Hawaii and Southern California — would come from detonating underwater explosives, while some could be caused by sonar testing or animals being struck by ships. In addition to deaths, the EIS report said the activities off Hawaii and Southern California could cause 2,039 serious injuries, 1.86 million temporary injuries and 7.7 million instances of behavioral change.

“I think it’s bogus when they say they have a lookout,” Muzik said. “I think the truth is there are animals there, they know there are animals there, and they are allowed to take them.”

Held every two years and hosted by the Pacific Fleet, RIMPAC is the world’s largest international maritime war exercise. In total, 22 nations, 49 surface ships, six submarines, more than 200 aircraft and 25,000 personnel participated in this year’s event, which lasted from June 26 to Aug. 1 and included live fire target practice and the sinking of the decommissioned USS Tuscaloosa 57 nautical miles northwest of Kauai.

The drills take place in the Hawaii Operating Area and several off-shore ranges, including PMRF.

Harris told Gabbard there are steps the Navy must take to minimize harm to the environment — per environmental laws such as the Marine Mammal Protection Act and the Endangered Species Act — during its trainings, including RIMPAC.

Before each RIMPAC, Harris wrote, the Navy briefs participating U.S. and foreign units about protective measures, as well as reminds service members to avoid interaction with sea turtles, Hawaiian monk seals, dolphins, coral reefs and Essential Fish Habitats. Additionally, Navy officials complete Marine Species Awareness Training and units are required to report sonar use and submit daily marine mammal sighting reports.

Prior to and during training with sonar, the Navy uses trained, qualified lookouts to search the area for marine mammals, according to Harris. If one is sighted within 1,000 yards, sonar transmissions are reduced. Within 200 yards, sonar is shut down completely.

“Safety zones are also established to protect marine life from the effects of explosive and non-explosive munitions,” he wrote.

In an emailed statement Wednesday, Gabbard said she has been “deeply concerned about the scope of devastation” of Kauai’s coral reefs, which continue to suffer from an outbreak of black band coral disease. Over the past year, she said she has reached out to experts in marine biology, local and federal officials, and the U.S. military to ask about potential causes and how the disease can be stopped.

“The broader scientific community does not point to the U.S. Navy as the cause of this coral disease,” Gabbard wrote to The Garden Island. “Rather, experts agree it likely is a combination of runoff, growing population and development, and overfishing, among other cited causes.”

Gordon LaBedz of the Surfrider Foundation Kauai Chapter, which sued the Navy over the 2006 RIMPAC exercises, described Harris’ response letter as “100 percent predictable,” and said he puts the Navy right up there will the commercial fishing industry in terms of the world’s most environmentally destructive entities.

“In my 30 years of suing the Navy, I’ve never experienced them as good stewards of the environment,” he said.

As for Harris’ comments about there being no evidence, LaBedz said it bothers him. When a whale dies, it sinks. It doesn’t float on the surface where it can be found, he said.

In his letter, Harris also addressed a situation in July in which a 16-foot sub adult pilot whale washed ashore and died in Hanalei Bay. In response, the Navy conducted an aerial survey in accordance with the Pacific Fleet’s Stranding Response Plan.

While LaBedz said he is convinced that whale died as a result of sonar, Harris said, “To date, there is no evidence of a connection to Navy.”

When asked how someone would obtain the scientific evidence referenced by Harris, and what that evidence might be, or look like, Pacific Fleet spokesman Mark Matsunaga wrote, “The Navy uses the best available science in its environmental analysis and lists these references at the end of each resource section of our EISs,” and referred TGI to a series of websites, including www.hstteis.com.

Navy Plans to Kill Marine Mammals
SUBHEAD: Navy five year plan expects to kill hundreds of dolphins and whales and injuring thousands.

By David Wagner on 30 August 2013 for KPBS -

In two reports published August 30th, 2013, the U.S. Navy acknowledges that bomb testing and sonar use over the next five years will likely kill hundreds of marine mammals and seriously injure thousands more.

In two reports published Friday, the U.S. Navy acknowledged that bomb testing and sonar use over the next five years will likely kill hundreds of marine mammals and seriously injure thousands more.
To get permits for these training exercises, the military is required to report on the environmental impact of its proposed operations.

By the Navy's own count, training procedures from 2014 through 2019 could result in the deaths of over 340 dolphins and whales.

Most of those deaths would be caused by bombs the Navy plans to detonate off the East Coast, in the Gulf of Mexico, and between Southern California and Hawaii. But some deaths—as well as "behavioral changes" for millions more susceptible marine mammals—could stem from the Navy's active sonar use, which environmentalists have been criticizing for years.

"Mid-frequency sonar is an intense noise source that propagates through the ocean at the frequency that certain whales and dolphins are most sensitive to," says Giulia Good Stefani, an attorney with the Southern California office of the Natural Resources Defense Council.

Researchers are still trying to fully understand the effects of sonar on marine mammals, but they've found connections between sonar and recent mass whale strandings. Sonar has been known to damage hearing in marine mammals, which can prove fatal for creatures that rely on echolocation to move through the ocean and find food.

But the Navy contends that bomb training and sonar operation are crucial to national security and cannot be simulated. In a video statement, Rear Admiral Kevin Slates describes these as "perishable skills that require training at sea under realistic conditions."

"We don't argue that the Navy doesn't need to train," counters Stefani. "We simply have asked the Navy to try to reduce the impact it's having on marine mammal populations.

See also:
Ea O Ka Aina: RIMPAC Impact Postmortem 10/22/14
Our congresswoman Tulsi Gabbarb seeking information from Navy on their methods of protecting ...
Ea O Ka Aina: RIMPAC 2014 - another whale death 7/26/14
It's not like this has not happened here before. The Navy washes off the blood and wears white.
Ea O Ka Aina: RIMPAC 2014 in Full March 7/17/14
Even if RIMPAC didn't harm wildlife or the environment these war games are pointless.
Ea O Ka Aina: RIMPAC War on the Ocean 7/3/14
The unseen wars on the Pacific Ocean lead by the United States Navy is cranking up this summer.
Ea O Ka Aina: The Pacific Pivot  6/26/14

RIMPAC is only a small piece of a huge, systemized federal project of destruction in the Pacific.
Ea O Ka Aina: RIMPAC IMPACT 6/8/14
If you think that RIMPAC 2014 will be anything but harmful to Hawaii you are delusional.
Ea O Ka Aina: Operation Dominic & Hawaii  6/3/14
US nuclear tests on Johnson Island tell us that this year's RIMPAC will be more of the same destruction to the Pacific Ocean.
Ea O Ka Aina: RIMPAC Now and Then 5/16/14
The history of RIMPAC exercises tells us that this year will be more of the same. Destruction to life in the Pacific Ocean.
Ea O Ka Aina: Earthday TPP Fukushima RIMPAC 4/22/14

Excuse us while we turn the Pacific Ocean into a radioactive ashtray.
Ea  O Ka Aina: An Ugly Dance  - The Asian Pivot 12/5/13
It's a feeble attempt by USA to outplay Asia in the game of who can destroy the planet the fastest.
Ea O Ka Aina: End RIMPAC destruction of Pacific 11/1/13
Pacific Rim countries led by the US Navy take part in exercises in death and destruction in our ocean.
Ea O Ka Aina: Sleepwalking through destruction 7/16/12
Ea O Ka Aina: Military schmoozes Guam & Hawaii 3/17/11
Ea O Ka Aina: Pacific Resistance to U.S. Military 5/24/10
Ea O Ka Aina: Shift in Pacific Power Balance 8/5/10
Ea O Ka Aina: RIMPAC to Return in 2010 5/2/10 
Ea O Ka Aina: Living at the Tip of the Spear 4/5/10
Ea O Ka Aina: Guam Land Grab 11/30/09
Ea O Ka Aina: Guam as a modern Bikini Atoll 12/25/09
Ea O Ka Aina: GUAM - Another Strategic Island 11/8/09
Ea O Ka Aina: Diego Garcia - Another stolen island 11/6/09
Ea O Ka Aina: DARPA & Super-Cavitation on Kauai 3/24/09
Island Breath: RIMPAC 2008 - Navy fired up in Hawaii 7/2/08
Island Breath: RIMPAC 2008 uses destructive sonar 4/22/08
Island Breath: Navy Plans for the Pacific 9/3/07
Island Breath: Judge restricts sonar off California 08/07/07
Island Breath: RIMPAC 2006 sonar use feared 5/23/06
Island Breath: RIMPAC 2006 sonar compromise 7/9/06
Island Breath: RIMPAC 2004 Strands whales in Hanlei 09/02/04 
Island Breath: PMRF Land Grab 6/5/04 


The American mall surrenders

SUBHEAD: It’s a time of reckoning for an industry that once expanded pell-mell across the American landscape.

By Matt Townsend on 20 November 2014 for Bloomberg.com -

Image above: Kiddie rides near JC Peeny anchor store at Steeplegate Mall in Concord, New Hampshire. From (http://www.pinterest.com/pin/500603314800102259/).

On a crisp Friday evening in late October, Shannon Rich, 33, is standing in a dying American mall. Three customers wander the aisles in a Sears the size of two football fields. The RadioShack is empty. A woman selling smartphone cases watches “Homeland” on a laptop.

“It’s the quietest mall I’ve ever been to,” says Rich, who works for an education consulting firm and has been coming to the Steeplegate Mall in Concord, New Hampshire, since she was a kid. “It bums me out.”

Built 24 years ago by a former subsidiary of Sears Holdings Corp., Steeplegate is one of about 300 U.S. malls facing a choice between re-invention and oblivion. Most are middle-market shopping centers being squeezed between big-box chains catering to low-income Americans and luxury malls lavishing white-glove service on One Percenters.

It’s a time of reckoning for an industry that once expanded pell-mell across the landscape armed with the certainty that if you build it, they will come. Those days are over. Malls like Steeplegate either rethink themselves or disappear.

This summer Rouse Properties Inc., a real estate investment trust with a long track record of turning around troubled properties, decided Steeplegate wasn’t salvageable and walked away. The mall is now in receivership.

As management buys time by renting space to temporary shops selling Christmas stuff, employees fret that if the holiday shopping season goes badly, more stores will close. Should the mall lose one of its anchors -- Sears, J.C. Penney Co. and Bon-Ton Stores Inc. -- the odds of survival lengthen.

‘We Surrender’
“Rouse is basically saying ‘We surrender,’” said Rich Moore, an analyst at RBC Capital Markets who has covered mall operators for more than 15 years. “If Rouse couldn’t make it work and that’s their specialty, then that’s a pretty tough sale to keep it as is.”

Image above: Chart demonstrates that operations like Steeplegate Mall are at great risk. From original article.

Incidentally, our mall here on Kauai - the Kukui Grove Mall - fits into the A Mall category. That's l likely because there is no other place to to "mall-crawl" without getting on a jet plane. Even so the place often looks like a ghost town.

Mysterious case of Steeplegate Mall

By Rebecca Lavoie on 3 April 2012 for New Hampshire Public Radio -

Image above: Parking lot at the Steeplegate Mall in Concord, New Hampshire. From original article via An Orchard Away on Flickr.

Last week, after we aired a segment on creative methods of discouraging teenage loitering, listener Jennifer Army sent us the following email:
I just heard the piece about using high-pitched noise makers to deter loitering teens and it reminded me of something that happened recently.  I was at the Steeplegate Mall with my sons (ages 11 & 9) and we parked in front of the main entrance by Talbots.  As we walked closer to the big bell tower my sons started complaining of a horrible noise.  I didn't hear anything and didn't know what they were complaining about.  We finished shopping and they insisted that I "listen" to the noise as we exited.  I really tried but I didn't hear ANYTHING.  Yes, I guess it's time to admit I'm 40 and I didn't hear the examples you played over the air either.  My immediate thought at the time was that the sound was to deter pigeons from roosting in the bell tower but maybe it's actually to deter all those rowdy Concord teenagers!
After placing a couple of calls to the management office at the mall, I finally heard back from Joseph Eaton, who confirmed that yes, in fact, there is a pigeon deterrent system at the mall.

It was also clear that Joseph had done a little digging on us before he called back, because although I hadn't mentioned loitering in my message, he wanted to make is very clear that the Steeplegate Mall would "never, ever" put into use a system to discourage their "target demographic." Namely, teenagers.

Case closed.

Eat Your Vegetables!

SUBHEAD: New research indicates that a plant-based diet is best for the planet and people.

By Carol Smith on 15 November 2014 for Our World -

Image above: Photo of edible vegetables in original article. From (https://www.flickr.com/photos/40385177@N07/9737650722/in/photostream/).

As cities grow and incomes rise around the world, more and more people are leaving gardens and traditional diets behind and eating refined sugars, refined fats, oils and resource- and land-intense agricultural products like beef. This global dietary transition is harming the health of both people and the planet, says new research.

But the study also shows that shifting away from this trajectory and choosing healthier traditional Mediterranean, pescatarian or vegetarian diets could not only boost human lifespans and quality of life, but also slash emissions and save habitat for endangered species.

And we better hurry; the scientists project that if the trend continues, the situation will be worse yet with greenhouse gas emissions up by 80 percent by 2050.

Examining almost 50 years’ worth of data from the world’s 100 most populous countries, University of Minnesota Professor of Ecology G. David Tilman and graduate student Michael Clark illustrate how current diet trends are contributing to ever-rising agricultural greenhouse gas emissions and habitat degradation.

On top of that, they write: “These dietary shifts are greatly increasing the incidence of Type 2 diabetes, coronary heart disease and other chronic non-communicable diseases that lower global life expectancies.”

In the study, published in the November 12 online edition of Nature, the researchers found that as incomes increased between 1961 and 2009 people began consuming more meat protein, “empty calories” and total calories per person. (“Empty calories” — sugar, fat, oils and alcohol — now account for almost 40 percent of food purchased in the world’s 15 wealthiest countries, according to the research.)

When the researchers combined the trends with forecasts of population growth and income growth for the coming decades, they were able to project that diets in 2050 will contain fewer servings of fruits and vegetables, about 60 percent more empty calories and 25 to 50 percent more pork, poultry, beef, dairy and eggs.

These are changes that are known to increase the prevalence of type II diabetes, coronary heart disease and some cancers.

Using life-cycle analyses of various food production systems, the study also calculated that, if current trends prevail, these 2050 diets would also lead to an 80 percent increase in global greenhouse gas emissions from food production as well as habitat destruction due to land clearing for agriculture around the world.

“We showed that the same dietary changes that can add about a decade to our lives can also prevent massive environmental damage,” said Tilman, a professor in UM’s College of Biological Sciences and resident fellow at the Institute on the Environment.

“In particular, if the world were to adopt variations on three common diets, health would be greatly increased at the same time global greenhouse gas emissions were reduced by an amount equal to the current greenhouse gas emissions of all cars, trucks, plans trains and ships. In addition, this dietary shift would prevent the destruction of an area of tropical forests and savannahs as large as half of the United States.”

The study compared health impacts of the global omnivorous diet with those reported for traditional Mediterranean, pescatarian and vegetarian diets. Adopting these alternative diets could reduce incidence of type II diabetes by about 25 percent, cancer by about 10 percent and death from heart disease by about 20 percent relative to the omnivore diet.

Adopting these or similar alternative diets would also prevent most or all of the increased greenhouse gas emissions and habitat destruction that would otherwise be caused by both dietary changes and increased global population.

The authors acknowledged that numerous factors go into diet choice — but also pointed out that the alternative diets already are part of the lives of countless people around the world.

“This is the first time this data has been put together to show these links are real and strong and not just the mutterings of food lovers and environmental advocates,” Tilman said.

Noting that variations on the diets used in the scenario could potentially show even greater benefit, the authors concluded that “the evaluation and implementation of dietary solutions to the tightly linked diet-environment-health trilemma is a global challenge, and opportunity, of great environmental and public health importance.”

Meanwhile, the paper offers a number of nuanced findings about the environmental impacts of various dietary choices. Here are a few takeaways to keep in mind:
  • While the difference in greenhouse gas emissions for animal-based versus plant-based foods is well known, emissions per gram of protein for beef and lamb are about 250 times those of legumes; pork, chicken, dairy, and fish have much lower emissions;
  • Twenty servings of vegetables have fewer greenhouse gas emissions than one serving of beef.
  • Fish caught by trawling, which involves dragging fishnets along the ocean floor, can have three times the emissions of fish caught by traditional methods.
  • And among cereal grains, rice has five times the emissions per gram of protein as wheat.


Hawaii’s anti-GMO laws matter

SUBHEAD: The islanders who spearheaded the initiative intended to simply protect their own health and their environment.

By Nathan Johnson on 20 November 2014 for Grist Magazine -

Image above: GMO corn fields growing in Hawaii From original article. See (https://www.flickr.com/photos/yasa_/5936642266/in/set-72157627067448469).

On Election Day two weeks ago, Maui County, which includes the Hawaiian islands of Maui, Lanai, and Molokai, (IB note: as well as Kahoolawe) approved a moratorium on the cultivation of genetically modified crops. This decision, by one small county, could throw a monkey wrench into the entire production system for genetically engineered seeds.

When the island of Kauai passed GM-farming restrictions last year (later overturned in court), I wrote that it could have an outsized impact on the industry. Hawaii is unique: It’s the only place inside the U.S. with a year-round growing season.

Being inside the U.S. frees companies from a great deal of red tape (they don’t need to get approval under two different regulatory systems as they would abroad), and the tropical climate allows for multiple crops each year.

Kauai is important to the biotech industry, but Maui and Molokai may be even more important. As Monsanto acknowledged: “The majority of the corn seed we sell to farmers in Argentina, Brazil and the U.S. has originated from Monsanto’s Maui operations.”

If the law stands, Monsanto and Dow AgroSciences, the biotech firms with operations in Maui County, will be left scrambling to find a different way of producing seeds. Prices would almost certainly go up.

The islanders who spearheaded the initiative intended to simply protect their own health and their environment. (I’m not taking on those issues here, but I have in the past.) But in passing this law, they have broken a crucial link in the biotech business model. If it stands up in court.


That’s a big if. The lawyers moved in almost as soon as the ballots were counted. But curiously, the first lawsuit came from the leaders of the SHAKA Movement — the group campaigning in favor of the GM moratorium. Usually it’s those who lose at the ballot box that sue.

But this time it was the winners suing the county, Monsanto, and Dow AgroSciences, to demand rigorous enforcement of the law just a week after it passed. (I left a voicemail and emailed the lawyers representing the SHAKA Movement, but didn’t hear back.)

The next day, November 13th, the agribusiness companies and a group of other plaintiffs (including a trucking company and a farm that grows GM sweet corn), filed the lawsuit everyone was expecting, which asked the court to invalidate the law. On November 14th, the court issued a temporary injunction, blocking the Maui law until it could review the matter.

Michael Lilly, former attorney general of Hawaii, who appeared in ads urging citizens to vote against the initiative, told me he expected the court to strike down the law.

The case was assigned to judge Barry Kurren, the same judge who had struck down Kauai’s bid to restrict GM farming. “He previously overturned a similar, but not identical, anti-GMO ordinance on Kauai,” Lilly said. “He found that state law preempted the county ordinance, and I expect he will do the same with this ordinance.”

Proponents of that law have appealed the ruling to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.

At the same time, Kurren is also considering another lawsuit challenging a GM ban on the Big Island of Hawaii.

Can biotech firms pivot?

Ashley Luckens, program director at the Hawaii Center for Food Safety, said the disruption may amount to a headache and lost money for the biotech companies, but not an existential threat.

“We’ve learned that they can relatively easily move their operations around,” she said. When a lawsuit temporarily prevented Monsanto from planting Roundup Ready sugar beets in U.S. soil, the company was able to move production without much of a hitch, she said. “We didn’t see a market disruption.”

On the other hand, the amount of money the seed companies have spent to campaign and challenge these laws in court “does speak to how invested these companies are in Hawaii.”
According to Monsanto, the law would at least slow down the development of several new crops. In a blog post explaining the rationale for challenging the Maui moratorium, it wrote:
Research and breeding work involving traits that confer resistance to multiple types of insects and diseases in seed occurs on our Maui farms. One example is the research we are conducting on anthracnose stalk rot — a disease that can impact about 90 million acres of corn in the US and Brazil with an average harvest loss of 5%.  In Maui, we are working to develop seeds resistant to this disease, much in the way that the rainbow papaya seeds are resistant to the ringspot virus that nearly destroyed the papaya industry in 1997. Hawaii’s climate is unique in that we can continue this work year round.
If GM production stopped on Maui, it would wound the biotech companies. But a minor wound perhaps, just a flesh wound.

Economic and environmental consequences

Both Dow and Monsanto sell non-GM seeds, and could conceivably work strictly on those in Maui County. When I asked Monsanto representative Charla Lord if the company could simply switch, she said, via email, that it wouldn’t be so easy. “Banning GM crops in Maui County has no impact on the demand farmers have for GM seeds or on the significant benefits GM seeds provide to their own farming operations. It is not just as simple as planting different seeds.”

If the companies couldn’t find a non-GM use for the land they own, some fields would lie fallow. That would mean less plowing and spraying — which would be good for the environment. But, as Lord pointed out, there’s still demand for GM seeds, and as Lukens pointed out, the plowing and spraying would probably just shift elsewhere.

If the seed companies move production it would also transplant jobs out of Hawaii. Jack Suyderhoud, a University of Hawaii professor of economics, said that would be a loss for the state that relies so heavily on tourism. “There’s no difference between having a diversified portfolio of investments and having a diversified economic base,” he said. “So much revenue comes from tourism, that when we hear news about a recession in Japan, for example, everybody’s alarm bells start ringing.”

On the island of Molokai, however, there’s almost no tourism; agriculture is the primary employer, followed by the government. Monsanto and Mycogen, a subsidiary of Dow AgroSciences, provide 11 percent of the jobs, said Robert Stephenson, president of the Molokai Chamber of Commerce. On Molokai, 65 percent of the voters voted against the moratorium.

Political fault lines in a changing state

Alika Atay, a burly farmer with a white beard and big, resonant voice, told me there are three reasons he wanted to pass this law. First, he wanted more testing of genetically modified crops. Second, he wanted fewer pesticides sprayed and more information about what chemicals companies were using.

And third,  he felt he has a duty to fight for the environment of the island. The imperative to protect the land is written into Hawaii’s constitution; it’s called the public trust doctrine. And that, he said, is the most important, least mentioned part of the law.

The people working for the seed companies don’t feel the same sense of responsibility, he said. “I’m Hawaiian,” he said. “My genealogical line here traces back over 1600 years ago. Many employees for these companies, they just sleep here.”

“There’s a long history of resistance in Hawaii to this kind of agroindustry,” Lukens said. It was white plantation owners who brought down the Hawaiian monarchy, around the turn of the century. “Twenty thousand native Hawaiians protested the annexation of Hawaii into the U.S.,” she said.
The history is complex and the allegiances are interwoven.

After annexation, people from the Philippines, Japan, Asia, and Portugal immigrated to Hawaii to work on the plantations, and intermarried with the Hawaiians. It’s hard to say who represents native Hawaiian interests at this point. “It’s my understanding that 60 percent of the seed industry employees are native Hawaiians,” Stephenson said.

In 1959, when the islanders voted overwhelmingly to become a state, the plantation workers took control of the government, breaking up the oligarchy of plantation owners and rich Hawaiians.

As I was reporting this story, several people who disagreed with the GM moratorium mentioned that their family had come to Hawaii to work in agriculture. This may be a key point in understanding the politics of the struggle, wrote historian Rachel Laudan, author of The Food of Paradise: Exploring Hawaii’s Culinary Heritage, in an email:
Underlying the debate about GMOs in Hawaii, I suspect, is a tension between those who have lived in the islands for generations and newcomers from the mainland. For the locals, the islands have always been a place of high-tech agriculture. The great grandparents of many of them came from Asia to work on the big sugar and pineapple plantations. Successive generations saved to buy small plots of land. Those who farm these plots know that the papaya growers (small local farmers) have survived thanks to genetically modified varieties that have been safely used since the 1990s.
The real conflict may be between these descendants of plantation owners, and newer residents of the islands, who came to Hawaii looking for paradise, rather than a working agricultural landscape.
“It’s two quite different world views in conflict,” Laudan wrote.

Those contrary visions — Hawaii as a place for high-tech farming, or Hawaii as a residential and tourist archipelago — will soon be debated on Capitol Hill, where the chairmen of the two agriculture committees represent profoundly different positions on this issue.

The immediate future of biotech in Hawaii will be decided in the courts, but in the long-term it’s the state government that will set the course. If Hawaii opts to stop biotechnology, that would be a serious blow to the industry. Not a killing blow. But still, as Monty Python’s black knight knows too well, a flesh wound here, a flesh wound there, and before you know it can get pretty hard to operate.