Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

It bugs me that “Occupy” was joined by “Move On” — the folks that helped elect Barack Obama — just in time to have their camps destroyed by police — some in places where mayors and governors are Democrats! That was just about a year ago … long enough for most people to forget, I guess.

Robert B. Reich

Pepper spray, military drone aircraft, mountaintop removal coal mining, horizontal drilling (“fracking”), industrial water pollution, people being replaced by robots … all of these are very troubling.

Nevertheless there are some excellent points in this article by Robert Reich and it does include a plan that offers a progressive plan of action (it requires commitment, now) for after the election. And it’s a kick to either read or watch Reich explain tax issues.

Duly noted.

Click here for the article by Robert Reich.

Quick — does the following express something finite or infinite?

“I was unaware. Furthermore, I was unaware of my lack of awareness; indeed, I was not aware of being unaware of my lack of awareness and was unaware that I was not aware of being unaware of not being aware.”

Whaddya think? Keep going? No, thank you. Going just that distance with an idea so empty somehow reminded me of something that’s been on my mind quite a bit.

The Keystone XL pipeline.

KXL will bring Canadian tar sands crude (you can use the word, “bitumen,” if ya like) across the United States
(and an important aquifer) down to Gulf Coast refineries.

For a little refresher, Robert Redford’s piece at Huffpost makes for good quick scan.

Some political observers, as well as “Greens,” are asking why challenger Mitt Romney and champ Barack Obama have not discussed global warming. Simple. It is a “no-win” situation for either of them.

Obama and other Democrats already have been blasted for “blocking” Keystone XL. (They didn’t “block” it back in January, although the company was required to reroute and resubmit application). Here’s a little bit of that “no win” from back in March.

We have this wonderful phrase in the United States: “Quick and dirty.” Having read quite a bit on the subject, I think I can safely say that Keystone XL seems to fit the phrase … with the emphasis on the dirty.

Scientists tell us that the single greatest challenge we face is global warming. Also consider the particular diseases associated with petrochemicals. Scraping the barrel for the dirtiest and least cost-effective fuel, heating and processing it with massive amounts of water contaminated in the process, transporting it in pipes that will surely leak … these are some aspects of tar sands extraction.

There are statisticians and medical experts out there somewhere who could come up with estimates as to the number of deaths and serious illnesses tar sands extraction will cause. There is, no doubt, a way to quantify the toll of delaying implementation of renewable – I should say, PEACEFUL, renewable energy.

Now, what fool would argue that oil has not, in the past, brought sudden wealth to some people in this country and been a rich long-term investment in the form of stocks for many more?

Yes, the oil industry retains this mystique – and there are a few people still profiting and attempting to profit from fossil fuels. And sure – there are some drilling jobs out there that pay more than $30 an hour.

Keystone XL and the tar sands doesn’t do that much for the United States, however. Maybe it boosts refinery profits.

What some people would like to see happen is that SHOULD that the profits from fossil fuel ventures should be – and always should have been – invested in solar, hydro, wind and wave power – instead of lining pockets. As well as compensation for the health and environmental victims of fossil fuel use, of course.

Sounds like an ecosocialist paradigm: Fuel is in input and not an output or end product … therefore it shouldn’t be a source of profit. The true capitalist says, “Hey, ANYTHING can be a source of profit, sucker.”

What the Greens are talking about … and have been talking about for some time … is NOT ecosocialism.

Four years ago, the United Nations Environmental Program (UNEP) presented the “Green New Deal,” a global economic initiative that would address environmental issues as well as a financial crisis that, for many people is STILL GOING ON.

Achim Steiner, executive director, UNEP, cited basic ideas like preserving forests –- to return up to a potential $2.5 trillion in benefits to water supply, erosion control, reduction of global warming and air filtration. He also talked about renewable energy sources.
“The new, green economy would provide a new engine of growth, putting the world on the road to prosperity again” … “growing the world economy in a more intelligent, sustainable way.”

Steiner said it was more sensible to invest in preserving forests, peatlands and soils, which naturally absorb carbon dioxide, than destroying them and then developing expensive technology to capture carbon.

If there seemed to be a divergence of paths four years ago – it might have been between a “Green New Deal,” shifting investments to sustainable practices and enterprises, and “Ecosocialism,” with common ownership of the means of production.

Instead of a set of policies guiding our nation and others to sustain economic activity while addressing climate change, food and water issues, etc., a “Green New Deal” has, four years later, become a kind of menu option … in the form of third-party Presidential candidate Jill Stein. It certainly will be no “referendum” because the overwhelming majority of voters have probably never heard of it … nor does the majority understand that it is Stein’s platform.

Some of Europe seemed to the UN’s Green New Deal path … most famously, Germany. The United States and Canada, however, seem to have taken another route … one that goes in the opposite direction.

The United States has endured “the most anti-environmental Congress in history,” as U.S. Rep. Henry Waxman put it.

Click here for a brief editorial from the New York Times.

The newspaper points out, however, the shift from coal to natural gas is bigger than even presidential politics. And it is delaying a shift to renewables. Long-term contracts to supply utility companies such as the Long Island Power Authority with fossil fuels, opposed by the Sierra Club, provide examples. Delaying a transition to renewables will add costs in terms of human health and lives lost. Damage to the environment may be irreversible, extending the health costs far into the future.

The arrest of candidates Jill Stein and Cheri Honkala before Tuesday’s presidential debate deserves more than just an acknowledgment.

Oh, we would’ve expected them to be there – Stein should have been a participant. She is on the ballot on 37 states and, as her Green Party has pointed out, that is enough, given the electoral college system still in place, to possibly win election.

For more information on the Green Party, click here.

Similarly we could’ve predicted she’d be detained. We couldn’t have predicted the shabby treatment or the length of detention she and Honkala endured.

What made it a sad day in American politics, though, is that more people aren’t talking about it. When you stop and think about it … well I really can’t think of anything quite similar since James Michener’s description of the politics in pre-civil war Spain.

Stein noted that, in the past, the League of Women Voters sponsored the debates – not the committee that does so by contract with the Democrats and Republicans (including stipulations and restrictions on the content of the debates). Here is then League President Nancy M. Neuman’s published explanation that accompanied the 1988 withdrawal of the League of Women Voters from participation as debate sponsor:

“The League of Women Voters is withdrawing sponsorship of the presidential debates…because the demands of the two campaign organizations would perpetrate a fraud on the American voter. It has become clear to us that the candidates’ organizations aim to add debates to their list of campaign-trail charades devoid of substance, spontaneity and answers to tough questions. The League has no intention of becoming an accessory to the hoodwinking of the American public.”

The conclusion I’ve come to is that Americans are just too proud to admit that anything’s really wrong here … that’s how we got hoodwinked and that’s why we won’t admit we got hoodwinked. Perhaps the answer is in a different kind of system, one in which the people participate a little more in government than just casting a vote every now and then.

Suffice to say that one could hear a lot of “who dya think won?” following the debate, or what passed for a debate, and hardly a whisper about Stein and Honkala’s arrest.

Nobody “won” … the event was another sham in an elaborate series of same.

See Democracy Now’s website for news & information

Here’s an interesting question, though: If Stein wasn’t being taken seriously as a “competitive” candidate, why not simply let her and Honkala participate in the debates? Perhaps it’s moot; I rather doubt she’d have agreed to the stipulations of the “contract” keeping the debates free of substance.

A US scientist built the first working solar cell. Another US scientist invented thin-film solar manufacturing.

So where does the United States rank by country in terms of solar power per capita?

Somewhere below 20th … and falling, because in terms of new solar power per capita as of 2011, the US ranked 31st, according to Clean Technica.

Think leadership in solar power is dominated by equatorial countries? It is true that oil-rich Saudi Arabia is making significant investments in alternative energy, however … the top five solar power countries per capita at the end of 2011 were, in order: Germany, Italy, the Czech Republic, Belgium, and Spain … with Slovakia and Luxembourg sixth and seventh.

It’s only a little different when it comes to wind power. The US was 9th in cumulative installed wind power per million people, with Denmark, Spain, Portugal, Germany and Sweden atop the list. The US was 21st in total installed wind power.

Countries adding the most wind power capacity per million people in 2011 were Sweden, Ireland, Cape Verde, Canada and Portugal. The United States was 11th.

Why has the United States relinquished leadership in technologies it pioneered? It’s not difficult to blame an entrenched, multi-tentacled oil industry. Let’s put it more simply: The US has relinquished leadership in these technologies because it has relinquished leadership.

Somehow it’s become politically easier to run a dirty oil pipeline through someone’s property than it is to install a wind turbine or solar array.

We are looking at the un-building of America.

A cornerstone of the slow death that the United States and its citizens (through leukemia and other cancers linked to petroleum and radiation, etc.) faces is Citizens United versus FEC (see “The Court’s Blow to Democracy” at This is not to say that a 2010 Supreme Court ruling is responsible for problems festering for decades. It is, however, a huge roadblock to the adaptations we must make as a nation in order to survive … and for the planet to survive and for our children and their children to thrive.

It is also a roadblock to job creation.

It is true that we have somehow … and the very personal computer upon which this is being written is part of it … become energy gluttons. And there is a price to be paid.

We love the freedom of the open road, have become accustomed to jet plane travel. We like things bigger and better. We like our music loud and we want to see a bigger picture. When I say “we,” I mean, myself included.

To live as we do, however, and to fail to invest in clean energy … is simply suicidal.

Apart from the obvious environmental concerns about poison water and air from extracing what’s left of native fossil fuels from underground … isn’t it obvious that installing solar and wind power facilities will create more jobs than by simply laying pipe and operating drills?

What is preventing us from moving forward on clean energy technologies (well one is the misuse of the terms “clean” and “technology” by our electees but that is another story)?

We must ensure that it is possible for citizens not controlled by Corporate America to gain public office by amending Citizens United. We must ensure that all candidates on ballots have an equal opportunity to debate and to get their “equal time” … remember that idea?

Personally I would invite you to consider whether Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein’s platform more closely mirror your own values than those of Democrats or Republicans. Here’s Mat McDermott’s interview with Dr. Stein. If nothing else it’s an interesting read.

To a chef, a set menu with the same items offered daily is a decidedly mixed blessing.

I shouldn’t have to explain why. There are probably many people, however, who find that their most memorable dining experience was in a restaurant lacking a set daily menu.

The restaurant menu goes back quite a ways. In China it goes back to the 11th century.

Now … and thanks, no doubt, to the personal computer user interface … it appears that the menu has become integral to the operating system of the human mind. In fact it would surprise people to know there is another way … but that is not today’s topic.

The US population waits for a menu in the form of television when it comes to politics. After the meal is served many people are unhappy.

The personal values of many people I know are more closely reflected by third-party candidates than in the politics of Democrats or Republicans. These candidates’ views don’t appear on the menu, however … they are not part of the prevailing (and overwhelming) media mainstream. People have to look around.

The problem is that everybody loses.

In the US, one could say there are only two kinds of voters: Those who know they’ve lost and those who do not.

The Democrats and Republicans each point to the other side’s efforts to deprive people of their rights. They’re different rights … but it’s same game.

All the while we lose sight that our very survival is under assault and the problem is that we wait for a menu to be presented by the overlords. And then we complain about the quality of the meal and the service.

I happen to find that Green Party candidates Jill Stein, Cheri Honkala and others reflect the values of some of my acquaintances even more than those of myself and yet … these acquaintances have been unaware of it. Simply because they’re not on the menu, so to speak. They’ve been … most undemocratically … not allowed to participate in debates. They are not backed by the corporate money that would put them on the Applebee’s menu of our politics … which is to say, mainstream media.

There is also a knotty pretzel logic operating in the US voter psyche.

“I am waiting,” an acquaintance said, “for the Green Party to acquire some real power before I go in that direction.”

In other words he is waiting for the party to gain power before he empowers it with his vote.

His words formed a sort of a koan, to be sure.

I wanted to write a nice little piece to accompany this video from Jill Stein but, you know, I’m just too out of sorts with myself to do it.

I’ve just read a report on deforestation and I can’t … well it’s as if I’ve just developed arthritis. It’s as if I can feel the Earth itself reeling from the various assaults on all that is green or blue or brown or in-between. It’s dizzying and it’s painful. Almost like a seizure.

We know the ship is in trouble and yet, somehow, instead of heading to port for repairs, we increase the engine speed and head for deeper, more treacherous waters.

We’re also losing our democracy, which is perhaps even more fragile than the environment. On top of the Patriot Act, on top of voting machine rigging and on top of voter I.D. laws excluding certain voters in some states, the presidential candidate debates are exclusive of third-party candidates.

Apparently don’t want to fix the problems or even to stop from making them worse; we don’t want to discuss the problems; and we don’t want anyone else to discuss the problems, either.

Here’s an interview with Green Party Presidential Candidate Dr. Jill Stein following the U.S. Europe Green Summit.Here’s an interview with Green Party Presidential Candidate Dr. Jill Stein following the U.S. Europe Green Summit.

Here’s a speech by Dr. Stein about building a sustainable energy infrastructure and putting a halt to nuclear power production.

And here’s a place to petition to allow third-party candidates to debate.

Even if you feel that there isn’t enough difference between Obama and Romney to constitute real choice … this video should be an alert. It prompts questions such as,

“Should it be within the scope of state powers to legislate what is critical to a federal election?”


“Does democracy exist when certain segments of the population are not permitted to cast votes?”

Partisan politics isn’t our bag, but … lacking an enlightened despot, of course … without fair elections it is difficult to envision a way to keep human beings from redering the planet entirely uninhabitable.

Click here for a related story from the Washington Post

Desperate effort to save badgers

Posted: September 20, 2012 in Uncategorized

“… playful, intelligent creatures with a highly-developed social system.”

It isn’t just animal rights activists who seek to stop a massive extermination of British badgers. Science advisors including Lord Krebs argue that eradicating wildlife simply won’t solve the growing bovine TB problem in England and Wales.

Some experts pointed to modern animal husbandry methods: Agribusiness dairy cows are mechanically reared for optimum profit in very close quarters and spread illness among each other.

Still it’s down to last-ditch efforts to stop the slaughter of wildlife. Click here for more information.

Click here to help save the badger.

More from the BBC.

Pick of the week

Posted: September 20, 2012 in Uncategorized

We recently lost another species from the face of this planet. Oh it’s nothing new, of course. The sentence would’ve been true any time it was written, really.

Maybe you’ve read that, following a similar declaration for several other species, Japan’s Ministry of the Environment declared the Japanese river otter (Lutra lutra whiteleyi) extinct as of the first week of September.

There were once, millions of these meter-long creatures, which ate fish and shrimp. They were trapped and hunted for their fur but ultimately it seems likely that pollution and habitat destruction did them in.

No Japanese river otter has been seen since 1979. Probably a lot of Japanese young people would scarcely have been aware of the animal except for a famous poet named Masaoka Shiki (1867-1902) who wrote in haiku and tanka and equated himself with the animals. By the way, according to Scientific American, some mark the September 19 death of Shiki as Dassai-ki or “Otter’s ceremony anniversary.”

So the loss of this one species – not much different from its European cousin – might not trouble us so much.

The circumstances of that loss might be of concern: Pollution and loss of habitat.

Consider something a little more close to home for us Americans: Our Florida Keys and Caribbean, including the U.S. Virgin Islands. coral reefs are now dead, empty shells.

Thirty six scientists reported to the International Union for Conservation of Nature for a study that showed only 8 percent of these reefs are populated with live coral. More than half of the reefs were covered with live coral in the early 1970s.

This comes as staggering news even as we know the reefs are dead or dying because, you see, we really cannot afford to lose them. Reefs support a vast variety of marine life which is integral to the food chain.

U.S. government figures show that globally, fish provides more than 1.5 billion people with almost 20 percent of their average per capita intake of animal protein, and nearly 3.0 billion people with 15 percent of such protein.

We are likely to find that in coming years it becomes more difficult to supply protein needs from the land. There will simply be too many mouths to feed.

I’m afraid that the sea won’t be as helpful in that area as we once envisioned it would be. Priorities have long been geared to oil production and somehow … despite the three-month BP Deepwater Horizon spill of 2010 … drilling will increase.

(More information on fish consumption here)

“… there is an urgent need to immediately and drastically reduce all human impacts if coral reefs and the vitally important fisheries that depend on them are to survive in the decades to come,” Carl Gustaf Lundin, director of IUCN’s Global Marine and Polar Program, told National Geographic magazine. He noted in a press release that the major causes of coral decline are well known and include overfishing, pollution, disease and bleaching caused by rising temperatures resulting from the burning of fossil fuels.

Understand well that, in the united States, both President Obama and candidate Mitt Romney are proponents of drilling for both oil and natural gas. The impetus to change must, presumably, come from you and I.


We have an unusual situation in the United States, where it might be seen that we became victims of our own prosperity. Urban sprawl is a good example. Good paying jobs and booming markets afforded city residents the opportunity to live away from the hustle and bustle of city life … and developers eagerly carved up the land and built the houses. Local governments facilitated what they called “growth.”

It wasn’t “growth.” Figure it out. As the land was developed and more people settled on it the space and the available natural resources shrank.

This was very “free market” and, where it was planned, it was planned with expediencies that ignored global issues.

We can’t ignore global issues now. Melting artic ice caps should, indeed, be a “wake-up” call. There are many issues to consider. Energy supply — and conservation — is certainly critical.

Candidates Mitt Romney and Barack Obama are committed to increased use of fossil fuels. Many observers feel that the only sustainable energy choice is in renewables. Consider then, the U.S. Green Party and candidates Jill Stein and Cheri Honkala.

Jill Stein doesn’t have the budget for much television and hasn’t been given an opportunity to debate. That means it’s up to citizens such as ourselves to do a little research and preparation for voting. It’s a reasonable thing to ask.