Sharing countercultural history. Investigating ideas on how to co-create sustainable community outside the box. Establishing said online resources content in one place. Thereby, mirroring the long process of what it takes to raise social justice, political and cultural consciousness collectively. Your mission, should you decide to join us, is to click on the yellow daisy on the left! All the best to you, in a world-wide affiliation!

Friday, November 12, 2010

Can we now move on to prepare the Groundwork for the Empathic Civilization- that is Us?!

The Associated Press reports that Burma's long imprisoned pro-democracy leader and Nobel Peace laureate Aung San Suu Kyi has been released from house-arrest. The Voice of America provides some good analysis.

This has happened before. Daw Suu's party won over eighty percent of the 1990 election. As the head of the party she is at least technically the last democratically elected leader of the country. But she never served due to a military coup, and instead has spent fifteen of the last twenty-one years in detention.

The military dictators are at the end of what is widely seen as a fraudulent election, and some see this as simple window dressing in that process.

Time will tell...

Amnesty International reports:

In this season of giving thanks, we are thrilled and grateful for the release today of Aung San Suu Kyi in Myanmar (Burma)! The government released her after seven and a half years of house arrest.

Will she re-form the National League for Democracy? Will she continue to advocate for democracy? Will her release be for good this time, or will the government find another reason for imprisoning her yet again? Only time will tell.

While we couldn’t be happier about Suu Kyi’s release, time continues to run short for the over 2,200 other political prisoners who are still behind bars in some of the most notorious prisons in the world. They from suffer lack of medical care, proper nutrition, and lack of contact with their families. Many are imprisoned hundreds of miles from their homes, making travel for their families difficult if not impossible.

So while we give thanks for Aung San Suu Kyi’s release, let’s do something for the others. Join us in calling for freedom for all prisoners of conscience in Myanmar!

*Thank-you to James Ford, for this post (above) on his blog: Monkey Mind.

In light then of this very recent development in the world of human rights & social justice, can we move more stridently toward a more outward-expressing, collectively empathic world view, to change the critical-mass standard of human consciousness & interaction, toward a dominant peace and democracy the world over now?

Monday, November 8, 2010

Organize a V-Day Event

2011 Sign ups are now open. Click here to enter the V-Spot and register for an event.

Every year V-Day invites activists in colleges, communities, high schools or youthgroups around the world to present select benefit events (listed below) during & leading up to V-Season (February 1st - April 30th). The purpose of these events is to raise awareness about violence against women and girls as well as raise money for local beneficiaries that are working to end violence. There is no theater or producing experience necessary.

READ Eve's Welcome to 2011 Activists >

To learn more about V-Day, click here

What are V-Day Events? (see below)

Where do V-Day Events Happen? (see below)

When May I Organize a V-Day Event?

How do I Register to Organize a V-Day Event?

What are V-Day Events?

THE VAGINA MONOLOGUES (performance) The award-winning play is based on V-Day Founder/playwright Eve Ensler's interviews with more than 200 women. With humor and grace the piece celebrates women’s sexuality and strength. Through this play and the liberation of this one word, countless women throughout the world have taken control of their bodies and their lives. For more than twelve years, The Vagina Monologues has given voice to experiences and feelings not previously exposed in public.

A MEMORY, A MONOLOGUE, A RANT AND A PRAYER: WRITINGS TO END VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN & GIRLS (performance) A groundbreaking collection of monologues by world-renowned authors and playwrights, edited by Eve Ensler and Mollie Doyle. These diverse voices rise up in a collective roar to break open, expose, and examine the insidiousness of violence at all levels: brutality, neglect, a punch, even a put-down. The volume features such authors and topics as: Edward Albee on S&M; Maya Angelou on women's work; Michael Cunningham on self-mutilation; Dave Eggers on a Sudanese abduction; Edwidge Danticat on a border crossing; Carol Gilligan on a daughter witnessing her mother being hit; Susan Miller on raising a son as a single mother; Sharon Olds on a bra; Patricia Bosworth on her own physically abusive relationship; Jane Fonda on reclaiming our Mojo; and many more. It is available for you to present as a reading, and includes pieces by and for men. We encourage men to register to host readings in conjunction with other V-Day activities.

ANY ONE OF US: WORDS FROM PRISON (performance) This piece evolved from a decade long writing group with Eve Ensler and 15 women at Bedford Hill’s Correctional Facility. This piece is a collection of stories from the raw voices of fierceness and honesty written by the original 15 women combined with writing from women in prisons across the nation moving forward toward healing, understanding, and change with the ultimate goal of using their writing and voices to impact policy, laws and treatment of incarcerated women. Together these writings reveal the deep connection between women in prison and the violence that often brings them there.


an uplifting documentary that looks at the V-Day movement and the work we have done around the world. It is an inspiring introduction to V-Day for your friends and community. Until The Violence Stops features playwright and activist Eve Ensler in a powerful film that documents how The Vagina Monologues grew into the international grassroots movement stopping violence against women and girls - V-Day. The film highlights the 2002 season, where eight hundred cities around the world participated in V-Day by staging benefit performances of The Vagina Monologues. Until the Violence Stops shows women from Harlem, New York to Ukiah, California; from the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation to the Philippines and Kenya, uniting and courageously revealing their intimate and deeply painful experiences with abuse ranging from rape to female circumcision.

WHAT I WANT MY WORDS TO DO TO YOU (film screening)

An unprecedented look into the minds and hearts of the women inmates of New York's Bedford Hills Correctional Facility. The film goes inside a writing workshop led by playwright and activist Eve Ensler, consisting of 15 women, most of whom were convicted of murder. Through a series of exercises and discussions, the women delve into their pasts and explore the nature of their crimes and the extent of their own culpability. The film culminates in an emotionally charged prison performance of the women's writing (the first edition of “Any One of Us”) by acclaimed actors Mary Alice, Glenn Close, Hazelle Goodman, Rosie Perez and Marisa Tomei. The film documents both the wrenching personal journeys undertaken by the inmates to find the words that tell their own stories, and the power of those words to move the outside world.

CONGO SPOTLIGHT TEACH-IN (powerpoint presentation) a downloadable PowerPoint presentation created by V-Day about the crisis in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

The PowerPoint is designed to educate you, your campuses and communities about the history and current situation in the DRC where women are bearing the brunt of the vicious war in the region. It is a powerful tool to activate and motivate the public to put pressure on elected officials and raise awareness and funds for V-Day projects on the ground in the DRC.

V-MEN (workshop & powerpoint presentation) a powerpoint presentation compiled by a dedicated committee of V-Men along with an overview for hosting a workshop to engage men in a dialogue about ending violence against women.

V-GIRLS (book clubs & academic curriculum)
V-Girls Book Clubs provide girls and their advocates with a platform to explore issues that matter to them, giving them a pathway to ignite their activism through Eve Ensler's newest work, I Am an Emotional Creature: The Secret Life of Girls Around the World. The free downloadable book club guide will help girls and adults explore the book, reflect and discuss the text together, while also guiding participants through a process to plan a creative response to speak out on global issues facing girls. Girls can write and perform their own monologues inspired by the book, host a poetry slam or benefit concert, or create an art exhibit. Groups may choose to raise funds through their event for V-Day's Safe Houses for Girls in Kenya.

The V-Girls Academic curriculum is now available for 7-12 grades in Social Studies, Language Arts, Theater and Health and is supported by National Curriculum Standards.

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Where do V-Day Events Happen?

COMMUNITY You are a member of a community theatre group, a non-profit organization, a community member and will be presenting your event/s in a community rental space.

COLLEGE You are a college student, faculty member or are otherwise directly affiliated with a college or university and will be presenting your event/s in a venue on campus. (***IF YOU ARE A COLLEGE GROUP, BUT MUST PERFORM OFF CAMPUS, PLEASE CHOOSE THIS OPTION AND ANSWER RELEVANT QUESTIONS DURING THE APPLICATION PROCESS.***)

V-GIRLS You are a student under the age of 18 or an educator working with students of this age and will be presenting your event/s at a school or youth venue.

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When May I Organize a V-Day Event?

V-Day events are usually hosted on or around Valentine’s Day (February 14th) each year. V-Season is from February 1st through April 30th. Performance events (TVM, MMRP, AOOU) must be hosted during V-Season (February 1-April 30), while other event options (UTVS, WIW, TEACH-IN, V-MEN) can be held leading up to V-Season. To register for one of these events after the season has ended, please write to

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How do I Register to Organize a V-Day Event?


Failure to adhere to these rules will result in V-Day's rescinding permission for you to present a V-Day event.

Most Important:

* You must register for the rights to host ANY V-Day event EVERY year. Rights are       free.
* Maximum of 3 performances/screenings for each event. No exceptions.
* You must work collaboratively with all other V-Day events in your area. We will       be putting you in touch with one another!


* Organizers & all supporting teams should NOT be paid. (Union technical staff       contracted by venue are the only exceptions.)
* Tickets should be charged for theatrical pieces & suggested donations for the       other works are at your discretion.
* Donate 10% of net profits to V-Day 2011 Spotlight Campaign.
* Keep production costs down. Donation goal should be 94 cents of every dollar.


* Donate profits to local group that specifically works to end violence against       women (preventative, educational, supportive, empowerment).
* Include your beneficiary in your activities, outreach and publicity.

Organizer requirements:

* Only 1 organizer is approved for each event. (18yrs & under require a dual       application)
* We require an active email address that can be shared publicly.
* Incomplete follow up reports will result in denial of any future applications.


* Focus your outreach to your group affiliation (college, community or high school)
* Strive for diversity of all kinds.
* You must include ALL that seek to be involved in your event in some way.


* Your venue must coincide with your group affiliation (college, community or high       school) unless approved by the Directors of the Campaigns.


* Use ONLY the 2011 version of the scripts for your event. NO books or previous       scripts are authorized.
* No edits are allowed to monologues or introductions AT ALL!
* No additions to the scripts are allowed unless specified.
* Do not reproduce any scripts for any purpose other than V-Day events.
* All V-Day events should not exceed 90 minutes.
* Performances should be done without intermissions.


* A minimum of 5 people in any performance. No maximum & we encourage you to       include as many people as possible.
* Strive for diversity of all kinds.
* No acting experience is necessary.


* You must use your correct event title, as it appears on the top of your V-Spot       login, in all publicity.
* You must adhere to ‘Identity & Social Networking Guidelines’ found under the       "Publicity" section of the V-Spot.
* Absolutely no excerpt performances of any plays for promotional purposes or       otherwise.
* No filming of events beyond 3-minute publicity limits outlined in “Publicity”       section of the V-Spot.

Requirements for “The Vagina Monologues” performances

* Performances should happen during V-Season ONLY (Feb 1- April 30)
* Charge tickets for your production unless given special permission by the       directors of the campaigns.
* No excluding, editing or order changes to any of the monologues.
* No male actors, but please include & encourage involvement. (We suggest using       the following guideline to determine who "qualifies": People who lead their       lives as women are eligible to perform in your production. This includes people       who are born as women and transgendered individuals, it does not include drag       queens. We leave it to your good judgment and your sensitivity to specific       situations to make the casting decisions for your individual production. If you       would like any help with this issue, please feel free to write to )
* Choose only 1 optional monologue (in addition to the spotlight monologue) to be       included in order to keep productions to 90 minutes
* Your official event name will be: V-Day [your college/city name/youth group]       “The Vagina Monologues” 2011.

Requirements for “ A Memory, A Monologue, A Rant, A Prayer” performances

* Performances should happen during V-Season ONLY (Feb 1- April 30)
* Charge tickets for your production unless given special permission by the       directors of the campaigns.
* Choose between 5 & 10 monologues, but do not edit the monologues themselves.
* Include men as performers in the pieces written for men.
* Consider a beneficiary that is working with men and boys in ending violence       against women and girls.
* Your official event name will be: V-Day [your college/city name/youth group] “A       Memory, A Monologue, A Rant and a Prayer” 2011.

Requirements for “Any One of Us” Performances

* Performances should happen during V-Season ONLY (Feb 1- April 30)
* Charge tickets for your production unless given special permission by the       directors of the campaigns.
* Consider a beneficiary that is specifically working with women in prison groups       addressing the issues of violence against women in relation to incarceration,       laws, policy, advocacy, etc.
* We encourage you to include up to 2 local pieces of writing from formerly or       currently incarcerated women to add to your event. Their writing should be       specifically focused on how their experiences with violence led to their       incarceration.
* Reach out to & include formerly incarcerated women whose experiences with       violence directly led to their incarceration.
* Reach out to local correctional facilities to request permission to perform       inside of the prison.
* Your official event name will be: V-Day [your college/city name/youth group]       “Any One of Us” 2011.

Requirements for “Until The Violence Stops” screenings

* Screenings can happen any time of the year leading up to or take place during       V-Season (Feb 1- April 30)
* You may charge tickets for your screening or solicit suggested donations at the       end of your event.
* The rights are FREE, but you must purchase a copy of the film through
* Your official event name is “A V-Day Benefit Screening of “Until The Violence       Stops”: [your college/city name/youth group].

Requirements for “What I Want My Words To Do To You” screenings

* Screenings can happen any time of the year leading up to or take place during       V-Season (Feb 1- April 30)
* You may charge tickets for your screening or solicit suggested donations at the       end of your event.
* The rights are FREE, but you must purchase a copy of the film through
* Reach out to local correctional facilities to request permission to host a       screening inside of the prison
* Consider a beneficiary that is specifically working with women in prison groups       addressing the issues of violence against women in relation to incarceration,       laws, policy, advocacy, etc.
* Your official event name will be: V-Day [your college/city name/youth group]       “What I Want My Words to Do to You” 2011.

Requirements for “Spotlight Teach-In” events

* Teach-Ins can happen any time of the year leading up to or take place during       V-Season (Feb 1- April 30)
* The event should be free of charge or suggested donations at your discretion.
* Your official event name will be: V-Day [your college/city name/youth group]       “Spotlight Teach In” 2011.

Requirements for “V-Men” events

* Attendance at the workshop should be free of charge.
* Workshops can happen any time of the year leading up to or take place during       V-Season (Feb 1- April 30).
* Workshop host & attendees must be male.
* Your official event name will be: V-Day [your college/city name/youth group]       “V-Men Workshop” 2011.

© 2010 V-Day

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Restoring Sanity Through U.N. Scrutiny?!

Rally to Restore Sanity…to Reproductive Policies

October 30, 2010 by Carol King

While some of my friends were on their way to Washington, D.C. to “Rally to Restore Sanity,” one friend is preparing to go to Geneva, Switzerland, to make a plea for sanity to the United Nations about abortion. Renee Chelian, founder of Northland Family Planning in Southfield, Mich., will testify about the dismal reality of providing abortions in the United States.

Reproductive rights supporters are hoping the U.N. will use its influence to improve conditions for American women. As part of the U.N. Human Rights Council’s Universal Periodic Review Working Group meeting November 1-12, 16 countries will have their human rights records examined. For the first time, the United States will be one of those countries.

“I thought the U.N. was only about peacekeeping,” said Chelian. “I’m learning that they’re concerned about human rights around world. They try to be our eyes, ears and conscience” when it comes to safeguarding everyone’s human rights. “They may not have enforceable powers, but they do have tremendous influence.”

Chelian, along with representatives from the Center for Reproductive Rights, Amnesty International USA and the Woodhull Freedom Foundation, hope to convince members of the Human Rights Council and other international human rights experts to look at the threatened state of reproductive rights in the U.S. The Center for Reproductive Rights is hosting a side event where panelists will share the obstacles American women face in seeking reproductive health care, and what steps the government can and should take to increase access for all women.

“I will describe the kinds of attacks against abortion providers, clinic staff and patients. We have been burned down, bombed out, harassed and intimidated and finally murdered,” said Chelian. The Obama Administration is working with clinics and staff, but Chelian believes, “We need to put pressure on the federal government. They have the ability to protect us and they should.”

The issues go beyond protecting the clinics, workers and patients. The harassment, intimidation and vilification of abortion providers has resulted in fewer doctors willing to do the work. Women’s access to reproductive health care is limited by income, location, family situation and other factors. Said Chelian,

Physicians in rural areas do not add abortion care because of threats to themselves and their families. [They become] targets in the community–followed to the grocery store, restaurants, church. [They] fear losing patients because of the harassment and intimidation of other patients. Who would want to see this physician? If there are no physicians, legal abortion means nothing.

With no abortion facilities nearby, rural woman face unnecessary delays created by having to travel to a distant clinic, organizing time off work, finding child care and a driver, and enduring waiting periods which require two clinic visits.

Access for poor women is equally difficult. As they try to raise sufficient money, they often delay their abortions until the second trimester–when the procedure becomes even more expensive. It’s a Catch-22.

In a country so determined to make abortion as inaccessible and unpleasant as possible, you would expect unparalleled support for pregnant women, but we can’t even take comfort in that. According to Amnesty International, American women have a higher risk of dying of pregnancy-related complications than those in 40 other countries.

I’ll be keeping track of the proceedings in Geneva and report on the progress being made to define reproductive rights as human rights.

Photo from Flickr user alexandralee, under license from Creative Commons 2.0.

Now take a listen to this video!

Then, there is the Rally to Restore Sanity

Signs Of 'Sanity' In Washington
by NPR Staff and Wires

When Reason Wears A Bear Costume

A "sanity" rally blending laughs and political activism drew thousands to the National Mall on Saturday.

People assembled by the tens of thousands Saturday on the National Mall, for a "sanity" blending laughs, activism, and a call for civility from two improbable maestros of moderation, comedians Jon Stewart & Stephen Colbert. (Win McNamee/Getty Images)

"In the shadow of the Capitol and close to the election, comedians Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert entertained a huge throng rallying on Saturday for "sanity," poking fun at the nation's diversity and its ill-tempered politics.

In one shtick, Stewart and his associates queried some crowd-goers to identify themselves by category, eliciting answers from attendees such as "half-Mexican, half-white," "American woman single" and "Asian-American from Taiwan."

"It's a perfect demographic sampling of the American people," Stewart cracked. "As you know, if you have too many white people at a rally, your cause is racist. If you have too many people of color, then you must be asking for something — special rights, like eating at restaurants or piggy back rides."

Colbert honored NPR among other news organizations at the event with a "Medal of Fear" for forbidding employees to attend the rally. A 7-year-old girl accepted the award in NPR's absence.

*Watch the credits at the very end of this video, & then act positively on the suggestions they represent. Hint: for the good of the WHOLE country!

The event sought in part to be a counterpoint to the "Restoring Honor" rally in August by Glenn Beck, the Fox News commentator popular among conservatives and tea party supporters. Beck's rally, which had strong religious overtones, drew some protests from civil rights supporters.

Don Novello, who years ago played Father Guido Sarducci on "Saturday Night Live," provided the benediction. He polled the crowd on their religious leanings, then gave thanks to God for allowing everyone to assign their various causes to him.

Egged on by the hosts, Ozzy Osbourne and Yusuf Islam, formerly known as Cat Stevens, engaged in something of a battle of the bands, the heavy-metal rocker and the folkie interrupting each other.

The crowds — easily tens of thousands strong — were festive, goofy, disillusioned with the state of politics if not the nation, and ready to play nice at a gathering called as a counterweight to all the shouting and flying insults of these polarized times. But there were political undertones, too, pushing back against conservatives ahead of Tuesday's election.

Slogans urged people to "relax." But also: "Righties, don't stomp on my head," a reference to a Republican rally in Kentucky at which a liberal activist was pulled to the ground and stepped on. And, "I wouldn't care if the president was Muslim."

Shannon Escobar, 31, of Bangor, Pa., came with a group of 400 people on buses chartered in New York. A supporter of President Barack Obama in 2008, she said she's tired of nasty rhetoric from both sides and disenchanted with lack of progress in Washington.

"I want to see real change — not Obama change," she said. "We need a clean slate and start over with people really working together."

A regular viewer of Stewart's "The Daily Show," she said she had a dream that he ran for political office, but got "corrupt and dirty."

"I need him to stay pure," she said, deadpan.

People also carried signs in favor of United Farmworkers and the movement to give the District of Columbia a vote in Congress. Many were college students, but the crowd cut across all age groups. "Seniors for pot" cried a half-dozen older people.

Organizers insisted the Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear wasn't about politics. Still, supporters and left-leaning advocacy groups hoped it would rekindle some of the voter enthusiasm for Democrats seen in 2008, particularly among young adults.

Stewart is popular especially with Democrats and independents, a Pew Research Center poll found. Colbert of "The Colbert Report" poses as an ultraconservative, and the stage Saturday was stacked with entertainers associated with Democratic causes or Obama's 2008 campaign.

Even so, Stewart said the day was about toning down anger and partisan division. "Shouting is annoying, counterproductive and terrible for your throat," he said on his website."

One more soundbite; even though the truth is we have only all of our own selves to "blame" for the entire mess that our beacon of Democracy is in. America the beautiful, the land of the free and the brave, no matter who we are alive in this period of our history, no matter how hard we may have worked for the right access to include everyone, while keeping our air, water & land to grow food, clean with the seventh generation in mind_ we are all part of this mess of self-centered blame to which our once beautiful beacon of Democracy has sunk. NOW! WHAT ARE WE GOING TO DO TO CHANGE IT FOR THE BETTER FOR EVERYONE, NO EXCEPTION?

REMEMBER, STAND-UP, BE COUNTED & TAKE RESPONSIBILITY for the entire mess we are all in together America, on BOTH sides of the aisle!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

The Question on Manifesting

U.S. says China Must Calrify Rare Earth Exports Restrictions

The Associated Press
Thursday, October 28, 2010; 3:31 AM

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton speaks during a news conference with Japanese Foreign Minister Seiji Maehara, not in the photo, on Wednesday, Oct. 27, 2010 in Honolulu, Hawaii. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci, Pool) (Evan Vucci - AP)

HONOLULU -- Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton on Wednesday called on China to clarify its policy on the export of exotic metals key to the global high-tech industry.

Opening a two-week Asia-Pacific tour aimed at cementing ties with allies who are wary of Beijing's increasing assertiveness, Clinton took on a primary point of friction between China and Japan.

She said recent Chinese restrictions on the sale of rare earth minerals served as a "wake-up call" for the industrialized world, including the United States and Europe, which has largely abandoned their production in favor of cheaper exports from China.

"I would welcome any clarification of their policy and hope that it means trade and commerce around these important materials will continue unabated and without any interference," she said at a news conference after meeting with Japanese Foreign Minister Seiji Maehara in Honolulu.

Clinton and Maehara both said China's stifling of the supply meant the international community would have to look for other sources of rare earths that are essential to producing high-tech devices such as cell phones, missiles and solar energy panels.

China produces 97 percent of the world's supply, something Maehara said "was not appropriate." Even if the current situation is resolved, he said it was critical to diversify the production of rare earths.

"This served as a wake-up call (about) being so dependent on only one source," Clinton said, calling rare earths both "commercially and strategically" essential. "The entire world has to seek additional supplies in order to protect the important production needs that these materials serve."

Japan has been urging China to resume exports of rare earths. Japanese companies say Beijing has blocked shipments since Sept. 21, in possible retaliation for Tokyo's arrest of a Chinese fishing boat captain near disputed islands in the East China Sea.

Many see China's action as indicative of its growing aggressiveness in dealing with such disputes. Some nations are seeking reassurance from the U.S., the traditional dominant power in the Pacific Rim, that it will remain a major player.

Clinton vowed that the United States remains committed to regional stability and the security of allies like Japan. She is to meet Saturday on China's Hainan Island with Chinese State Councilor Dai Bingguo and said she intended to raise the rare earths issue, among other matters of concern.

She said a satisfactory Chinese clarification of its position on mineral exports "may shorten that discussion, but there is a lot to talk about," particularly to prepare for a state visit to the U.S. by Chinese President Hu Jintao in January.

Clinton's trip to Hainan - a last-minute addition to the itinerary - is loaded with symbolism for the Chinese.

The island is a powerful reminder of Chinese military might, hosting an array of intelligence and espionage facilities of the People's Liberation Army. It was where an American spy plane was forced to land in 2001 after it collided with a Chinese fighter jet. The 24 crew members were held for 11 days until the Bush administration apologized.

Clinton will also visit Vietnam, Cambodia, Malaysia, Papua New Guinea, New Zealand and Australia.

At all stops, she said she would focus on strategic planning to counter existing threats from North Korea and other "contingencies," an apparent reference to possible Chinese muscle-flexing.

"We need to be looking at all kinds of scenarios, all kinds of contingencies, work though responses to events that might occur in the future and, of course, stay focused on the threat posed by North Korea," she said.

Before leaving Hawaii for Vietnam on Thursday, Clinton is to give a speech in which she is expected to underscore the importance the Obama administration places on the Asia-Pacific region.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

The Great Turning_ in action!

The Greenhorns - 11 min trailer - Feb 2010 from The Greenhorns on Vimeo.

Shades of the Back-to-the-Land Movement of the Seventies in its evolved through time and education_ forms and expressions! Grow on young farmers at this time when sustainable practices of all kinds must be re-integrated back into the American culture and society!

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Another Woman Slated as President of the nation of Brazil

Dilma Rousseff, anticipated new president of_
Brazil, rich in oil, population and economy!
America just doesn't seem to have what it takes to elect a woman leader! We are a country that cannot peacefully, intelligently settle our own family differences on all levels both personally and publicly_ spoiled and divided as a nation about the maturity and responsibility democracy requires of every citizen,(what value is real education?) we may be all but conquered!

If Facebook existed years & even centuries ago, part I & II

For a little fun_As found on Scotteriology
September 24, 2010
by agathos

If Historical Events Had Facebook Statuses – Part 2

So How Did the Bush Tax Cuts Work Out for the Economy?

David Cay Johnston | Sep. 24, 2010 08:02 PM EDT

The 2008 income tax data are now in, so we can assess the fulfillment of the Republican promise that tax cuts would produce widespread prosperity by looking at all the years of the George W. Bush presidency.

Just as they did in 2000, the Republicans are running this year on an economic platform of tax cuts, especially making the tax cuts permanent for the richest among us. So how did the tax cuts work out? My analysis of the new data, with all figures in 2008 dollars:

Total income was $2.74 trillion less during the eight Bush years than if incomes had stayed at 2000 levels.

That much additional income would have more than made up for the lack of demand that keeps us mired in the Great Recession. That would mean no need for a stimulus, although it would not have affected the last administration's interfering with market capitalism by bailing out irresponsible Wall Streeters instead of letting the market determine their fortunes.

In only two years was total income up, but even when those years are combined they exceed the declines in only one of the other six years.

Even if we limit the analysis by starting in 2003, when the dividend and capital gains tax cuts began, through the peak year of 2007, the result is still less income than at the 2000 level. Total income was down $951 billion during those four years.

Average incomes fell. Average taxpayer income was down $3,512, or 5.7 percent, in 2008 compared with 2000, President Bush's own benchmark year for his promises of prosperity through tax cuts.

Had incomes stayed at 2000 levels, the average taxpayer would have earned almost $21,000 more over those eight years. That's almost $50 per week.

The changes in average and total incomes are detailed on the next page in Table 1, the first of four tables analyzing the whole data.

Now that we have looked at the whole eight-year period, what does the new data show about 2008, the worst recession ear since the 1930s, show when compared to the peak year of 2007, when the average taxpayer made $63,096, which was 2.5 percent more than in 2000.

In only two of the eight Bush years, 2006 and 2007, were average incomes higher than in 2000, but the gains were highly concentrated at the top. Of the total increase in income in 2007 over that in 2005, nearly 30 percent went to taxpayers who made $1 million or more.

Now surely some will say that it is not fair to saddle George W. Bush and those who supported his tax cuts with the economic figures from 2001 and 2008. The first would be on the theory that President Clinton should be charged for that year (just as Bush should be charged with 2009, the first year of the Obama administration). The second is on less solid ground, but let's consider it for the sake of argument.

Just measuring the second through seventh years we find that total income was still nearly $2 trillion lower than if 2000 level income continued. Stacking the deck in President George W. Bush's favor does not change the awful performance or even soften it much.

The tax cuts cost $1.8 trillion in the first eight years, according to an analysis by the Tax Policy Center, whose reliability the last administration went out of its way to praise. Those cuts were heavily weighted toward the people candidate George W. Bush famously called "haves and the have-mores . . . some people call you the elite. I call you my base."

In the two years since 2008, the cuts' total cost grew to $2.3 trillion, the Tax Policy Center estimated.

One of every eight dollars of the tax cuts went to the 1 in 1,000 taxpayers in the top tenth of 1 percent, the annual threshold for which was in the $2 million range throughout the last administration. The only other large beneficiary was parents with children under 17 who make enough to pay income taxes, thanks to the $1,000-per-child tax credit Republicans started championing in the mid-1990s.

Now let's look at wages, the source of most people's income. In 2008 the average taxpayer made $58,000. That was $5,100 less than in 2007, a decline of 8.1 percent.

The number of taxpayers reporting any wages in 2008 was 1.26 million fewer than in 2007, a scary figure when you consider that most people do not expect to be out of work for an entire year and that the population grew by more than a percentage point. In August 42 percent of the unemployed -- 6.2 million people -- had been out of work for 27 weeks or more, the Bureau of Labor Statistics said. The average for all jobless workers was 33.6 weeks of unemployment, the equivalent of going from New Year's Day through August 23 without a paycheck.

The number of taxpayers with incomes below $100,000 with any wage income fell in 2008 by 1.8 million. Because married couples file many tax returns, this means more than 2 million people who worked in 2007 earned no wages in 2008.

Total wages in 2008 fell by nearly 4 percent, compared with a year earlier, for the 87 percent of Americans whose total income was less than $100,000. Since 2000, population grew more than wages.

Those reporting negative incomes quadrupled from less than 600,000 in 2000 to nearly 2.5 million in 2008. Their losses worsened slightly from -$64,000 on average to -$66,000.

The number of workers earning $500,000 or more in total income also fell, by just under 100,000 (or nearly 12 percent), but their average wage of $718,000 is still more than the average American earns in a decade at 2008 levels.

The number of people reporting incomes of $200,000 or more but legally paying no federal income taxes skyrocketed in the second Bush term. A decade ago it was fewer than 1,500 taxpayers; in 2000 it was about 2,300. This high-income, tax-free group jumped to more than 11,000 in 2007 and then doubled in 2008 to more than 22,000.

In 2008 nearly 1 in every 200 high-income taxpayers paid no federal income tax, up from about 1 in 1,500 in 1998.

The share of high incomes that were untaxed increased more than sevenfold to one dollar of every $166.

The Statistics of Income data on tax-free, high incomes severely understate economic reality because they exclude deferral accounts, including those of hedge fund managers with billion-dollar incomes who can legally report no current income and borrow against their untaxed gains to live tax free.

Table 1. 2008 Average Incomes Fell Well Below 2000 Level

Table_1.pdf *Find the pdf links here

The one bright spot in the SOI data at Table 1.4 was that the number of people making $100,000 to $200,000 grew significantly between 2007 and 2008. Their ranks increased by 393,465, or 3 percent, to more than 13.8 million taxpayers.

This truly is good news, because most of the increase had to be people who worked their way up into six-figure incomes from 2007 to 2008.

We know this because fewer than 160,000 taxpayers fell out of the $200,000-and-up income groups. Even if we assume that every one of them fell into the $100,000-$200,000 class, that still leaves 233,000 taxpayers who joined this income group. These 233,000 taxpayers must be people who increased their incomes enough to get them above the $100,000 line. And we know that they did it mostly through becoming more valuable workers, because this group relies on paychecks for more than 77 percent of its income.

But despite that one sliver of good news about low six-figure incomes, the data show overwhelmingly that the Republican-sponsored tax cuts damaged our nation.

Examining performance against the promises, what do we find? Overwhelming evidence that the tax cuts of 2001 and 2003 made us much worse off.

Table 2. More Taxpayers, Less Revenue

Table_2.pdf *Find the pdf links here

Ignore the cynics who say the Republican leaders on Capitol Hill, in Wasilla, and on the airwaves care only about the rich. I don't believe that. I think they are captive to economic theories few of them understand and that are simplistic in the extreme. I take them at their word, that they truly believe their policies will produce broad benefits for all, but accepting that does not diminish the fact that the policies these Republicans promote also produce massive tax savings for the superrich who finance their campaigns.

The question to ask is whether their policies worked as promised. Have they even come close? Where is the prosperity -- and where was it in the Bush years, when massive increases in both military and discretionary spending provided a chronic stimulus to the economy?

Table 3. 2007 to 2008: Fewer Jobs, Less Money (Mostly)

Table_3.pdf *Find the pdf links here

The hard, empirical facts:

The tax cuts did not spur investment. Job growth in the George W. Bush years was one-seventh that of the Clinton years. Nixon and Ford did better than Bush on jobs. Wages fell during the last administration. Average incomes fell. The number of Americans in poverty, as officially measured, hit a 16-year high last year of 43.6 million, though a National Academy of Sciences study says that the real poverty figure is closer to 51 million. Food banks are swamped. Foreclosure signs are everywhere. Americans and their governments are drowning in debt. And at the nexus of tax and healthcare, Republican ideas perpetuate a cruel and immoral system that rations healthcare -- while consuming every sixth dollar in the economy and making businesses, especially small businesses, less efficient and less profitable.

This is economic madness. It is policy divorced from empirical evidence. It is insanity because the policies are illusory and delusional. The evidence is in, and it shows beyond a shadow of a reasonable doubt that the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts failed to achieve the promised goals.

So why in the world is anyone giving any credence to the insistence by Republican leaders that tax cuts, more tax cuts, and deeper tax cuts are the remedy to our economic woes? Why are they not laughingstocks? It is one thing for Fox News to treat these policies as successful, but what of the rest of what Sarah Palin calls with some justification the "lamestream media," who treat these policies as worthy ideas?

The Republican leadership is like the doctors who believed bleeding cured the sick. When physicians bled George Washington, he got worse, so they increased the treatment until they bled him to death. Our government, the basis of our freedoms, is spewing red ink, and the Republican solution is to spill ever more.

Those who ignore evidence and pledge blind faith in policy based on ideological fantasy are little different from the clerics who made Galileo Galilei confess that the sun revolves around the earth. The Capitol Hill and media Republicans differ only in not threatening death to those who deny their dogma.

How much more evidence do we need that we made terrible and costly mistakes in 2001 and 2003?

Figure 1. High-Income Paying Zero Tax 1998-2008

Figure_1.pdf *Find the pdf links here

The number of individual income tax returns showing adjusted gross income of $200,000 or more, but no income tax liability, has been rising rapidly in recent years.

Table 4. 2008: Fewer Jobs, Lower Pay
(With Exceptions in Bold)

Table_4.pdf *Find the pdf links here

If Life is EVER so Boring for you...

Stephen Hawking’s Grand Design

Stephen Hawking in Geneva, Switzerland, Sept. 15, 2009. (AP)

"Physicist Stephen Hawking got the world’s attention a long time ago. The brilliant scientist, trapped in wheel chair and Lou Gehrig’s disease, whose mind encompassed the cosmos.

In “A Brief History of Time”, Hawking laid out what we knew of the universe in compelling imagery and metaphor.

Now he’s back, with physicist Leonard Mlodinow, for a cosmic update. Not one universe out there, but many, they say. And no need now for God to explain the origin of everything. Science, they say, will do it.

-Tom Ashbrook


Leonard Mlodinow, co-author, with Stephen Hawking, of “The Grand Design.” Mlodinow is a physicist at the California Institute of Technology and author of “The Drunkard’s Walk.” Because of his physical limitations and the live format, we will only hear Hawking via pretaped audio."

Really, it may not be the article itself, but rather the comments that follow it! Find them here and ponder!

Colbert Gives More Attention to Farmworkers’ Struggle than Any Reporter in Half a Century

from Firedoglake by David Dayen

"Just Google “Harvest of Shame (h/t @danabacon). He said that “I like talking about people who don’t have any power…. I feel the need to speak for those who can’t speak for themselves.” He quoted scripture, in particular Matthew 25:40: “The King will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.’” He added that we tell migrants to come to America to pick our fruits and vegetables, back-breaking work in perilous and often deadly conditions. “We ask them to come and work, and then we ask them to leave again. These people suffer, and they have no rights,” he concluded.

Yes, he was also very funny. But more to the point, he lent his name to an issue that gets almost no attention. Not one of these blow-dried idiots that sit around the White House Press room would ever dare the same. Colbert joked that he believes that one day of studying anything makes him an expert on the subject. Of course, it’s one more day than any of the people criticizing him for sullying the hallowed halls of Congress.

So the question becomes, who’s the actual reporter here?"

Alex Brandon
Comedian Stephen Colbert delivered a mostly satirical statement on illegal immigrant farm work.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

The Great Turning; a synopsis

'The Great Turning: the work of an entire species shifting its entire historic human mindset of who and what we are in relation to the entire planet; recognizing deeply that we are a species that is A LIVING PART OF a LIVING PLANET.' (paraphrased) _ Joanna Macy

Monday, September 13, 2010

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Fighting Fossil Fools

An example of what a KMTP load will look like — bigger than a brontosaurus (apatosaurus if you’re nitpicky). Photo courtesy Imperial Oil

This article first appeared in the Eugene Weekly, Sept 2, 2010, Vol. XXIX

Rage Against the Machines
Giant loads of dirty fossil fuel equipment are going up the Columbia River

Picture the oil monsters: Giant earth gobbling machines, bigger than a brontosaurus, slowly barging up the Columbia River, making their ponderous way past endangered salmon, through the craggy gorge to the Snake River and then bellying up to a dock at the Port of Lewiston where they hit the highways. They’re coming our way in a scheme called the Kearl Module Transport Project (KMTP). Former Green Party vice-presidential candidate and Native American (Anishinaabe) activist Winona LaDuke says, “There’s no history of anything of this scope. The highway system is going to be crushed by the loads.”
An example of what a KMTP load will look like — bigger than a brontosaurus (apatosaurus if you’re nitpicky). Photo courtesy Imperial Oil
Winona LaDuke. Photo by Todd Cooper.
Patricia Weber. Photo by Todd Cooper.

Pius Rolheiser, spokesman for the dubiously named Imperial Oil, says the behemoth shipments — the largest of which is 210 feet long, 30 feet high, 24 feet wide and weighing 500,000 pounds — are nontoxic. “People have expressed concern about these modules potentially containing hazardous chemicals or whatever, but until they arrive on site and are assembled, they contain no hazardous chemicals,” he says.

The hazardous chemicals come into play at the Alberta tar sands (aka the Alberta or Athabasca oil sands). What was once a carbon-storing boreal forest is becoming a vast mined wasteland, and if the Kearl project succeeds the machines will begin swallowing bitumen and spitting out dirty oil. Oregon will be the gateway to this fossil fuel hell.

A Canadian oil company controlled by ExxonMobil, Imperial Oil is one of the companies in the business of extracting oil from the Alberta tar sands. Opponents to tar sands extraction call it a dirty open-pit mining process that destroys forests and poisons land, water and people. Imperial Oil’s Kearl Module Transport Project involves building massive oil-extracting machinery in South Korea, shipping it across the Pacific to the mouth of the Columbia and barging it up the Columbia and Snake Rivers to Idaho, where it will be placed on super-sized trucks and shipped through Idaho and Montana to Canada. Conservationists, concerned citizens and environmental justice advocates like LaDuke are trying to get the project stopped in Idaho and Montana. But the KMTP has flown under Oregon’s radar, and it’s not clear if there’s anything this state can do to keep the machines from coming.

A recent advertisement placed in The New Yorker by the folks from the Alberta tar sands reads: “A good neighbour lends you a cup of sugar. A great neighbour supplies you with 1.4 million barrels of oil a day.” (FYI, that’s how they spell neighbor in Canada). Rolheiser says the project is “a large vital source of energy for a growing North American market.”

Patricia Weber of Corvallis, an electrical engineer and land use planner working with LaDuke and the coalition All Against the Haul on stopping the KMTP, says the Kearl project “is the Gulf oil spill to the north of us that nobody knows about, in terms of ecosystem destruction.”

Ruin: The Tar Sands

If oil is the addictive drug the U.S. is trying to kick, then the pusher keeping us hooked isn’t some Middle East country; it’s that mellow nation to the north, Canada. It’s our top supplier of foreign oil -— Canada provides almost 20 percent. Currently about half of what we get from the Canucks is a result of tar sands extraction. According to Imperial Oil’s website, the tar sands project can provide oil for the next 40 years to the tune of 300,000 barrels of oil per day.

“Imperial Oil is firmly of the belief that the oil sands can be developed responsibly and in a sustainable manner,” Rolheiser says.

LaDuke begs to differ. She and her Native-led environmental group Honor the Earth say that on top of devastating the boreal forest — the second largest intact forest in the world, second to the Amazon — and affecting fish and wildlife, the Kearl and other oil sands projects are poisoning Canada’s First Nations people. She says the small First Nations community of Fort Chipewyan, located near the oil sands, has had 100 deaths attributed to cancer in a community of only 1,200. LaDuke blames the toxic oil sands extraction and the poisons it’s leaving behind. The Canadian oil sands project is one of the largest industrial projects on Earth.

The group ForestEthics is asking U.S. corporations to avoid using tar sands oil. Walgreens, Whole Foods and Bed, Bath and Beyond have already signed on, and the Canadian press reports that The Gap, Timberland and Levi Strauss told their transportation contractors they will give preference to those who avoid oil sands fuels.

NASA climate scientist James Hansen, one of the first researchers to bring global warming to the world’s attention, wrote about the project in a 2009 editorial: “The tar sands of Canada constitute one of our planet’s greatest threats. They are a double-barreled threat. First, producing oil from tar sands emits two-to-three times the global warming pollution of conventional oil. But the process also diminishes one of the best carbon-reduction tools on the planet: Canada’s boreal forest.”

First the forests are logged, slowly turning the green vegetation in an area the size of Florida to a desert of sand and mud; then the land is cleared of what the oil companies call “overburden,” the former C02-storing forestland and muskeg (bog land). After the top layer of earth has been scraped away, mining can begin. Some exploitation of the tar sands is done by in situ mining, in which steam is injected into an oil deposit to heat the sand and lower the viscosity of the bitumen. The heated bitumen migrates towards producing wells, where it’s brought to the surface. Right now, however, it’s mostly open pit mining.

Brobdingnagian machines weighing millions of pounds, some standing three stories high, dig up the sands, then dump the bitumen-bearing earth, also called ore grade, into giant trucks. The trucks, far more massive than any monster truck you’ll see at the Cottage Grove Speedway, haul the bitumen to be crushed in giant drums. Hot water is added to make slurry, which is further diluted and separated until it becomes froth — 60 percent bitumen, 30 percent water and 10 percent solids. The froth is mixed with a solvent, and hydrogen is used to break up the long carbon molecules to make synthetic oil products.

The process leaves behind toxic mine tailings in ponds, and it draws vast amounts from the waterways. According to a study released in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences on Aug. 30, oil sands extraction has left elevated levels of mercury, lead, arsenic and 10 other toxic elements in the Athabasca River. In 2008, some 500 migrating ducks died when they landed in a toxic Syncrude tailings pond (Imperial has a 25 percent stake in Syncrude). Alberta’s Energy Resources Conservation Board conditionally approved Imperial Oil’s plan to handle waste from its Kearl oil sands project this month, but Imperial has said it would not be able to meet clean-up targets for the first six years of operations at the Kearl project because it needs time to work on new technology.

Weber says, “It’s not simple oil; it has to be extracted. It takes a tremendous amount of water and tremendous amount of natural gas.”

The natural gas is used to heat the water for oil extraction. In a circular sort of fossil foolishness, the oil companies are using one fossil fuel to extract another one. Weber says, “It’s kind of like a monster with all these tentacles. The head is the tar sands. We’re trying to go after the tentacles as we can.”

Roads: Highway to Hell

The tentacle that folks in the U.S. have been going after so far is the roads.

Comparing a KMTP load to a dinosaur is actually a bit skewed. The loads are bigger than a brontosaurus, and they weigh a lot more. Activists compare the size of a load to the Statue of Liberty. The longest load is actually a good 50 feet longer than the height of Lady Liberty from her heels to her torch. The Statue of Liberty weighs in at 450,000 pounds of copper and steel. A KMTP load can weigh up to half a million pounds — 50,000 more than the statute.

So how do you move a load as long as a hockey rink, as high as a three story building, and heavier than the our symbolic beacon of liberty?

The short answer is: very carefully. But the long answer is a little more complicated.

Imperial Oil’s Rolheiser says before choosing the route on U.S. roadways, the company explored “a number of other alternatives.”

He says, “Generally speaking, the route we selected was driven by the size of the modules. The modules are too large to be transported on an interstate highway.” Anything with an overpass, he says, “is a non-starter.”

Once the loads are removed from the barges at the Port of Lewiston, they will be placed onto massive Mammoet truck and trailer rigs (mammoet is Dutch for mammoth). The trailers, Rolheiser says, have up to 14 axles. He says the distribution force on a highway roadbed is like a semi truck.

LaDuke and Weber are skeptical — 207 loads, weighing up to 500,000 pounds, amounts to a little bit more than a semi-truck, which legally tops out at 80,000 pounds.

The route crosses bridges, goes over tall mountain passes and through national forests and tribal lands, and along a wild and scenic river. The monster loads start in Idaho and take Highway 12, following the Northwest Passage Scenic Byway through wild areas along the wild salmon and steelhead bearing Lochsa River in Idaho, over Lolo Pass into Montana through the town of Missoula, up Highway 200, over the Continental Divide and then up to Canada.

The route follows a road more narrow and windy than Oregon’s Highway 126 out the McKenzie, and like that highway, it is right up against a river. It goes through Missoula — a college town not unlike Eugene. Bob Gentry, a Montana attorney working to stop the loads, says that traffic signals in Missoula would be put on swivel bases to let the loads pass.

When she saw the proposed route, LaDuke says her first thought was “Are you guys high?”

Oregon’s Rep. Peter DeFazio recently was alerted to the KMTP issue, which has been kept so quiet there were no news stories about it prior to December 2009. The representative says: “I knew about tar sands. I knew about the extraction, but I didn’t know that anyone was intending to move super-giant-sized loads over roads and bridges in the United States to deliver machinery to extract tar sands in Canada.” DeFazio is a senior member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.

“There are huge questions here, and this has been pretty much under the radar,” DeFazio adds.

In order to get the trucks down roads not engineered for loads so large, Imperial Oil plans to bury power lines in the Lolo National Forest and along the Nez Perce National Historic Trail. Rolheiser says Imperial will construct, improve or widen turnouts along the route, so the trucks can pull over in the case of bad weather, and also because Idaho and Montana have 10 minute rules for traffic — each state’s law says traffic cannot be held up for more than that amount of time. Opponents see no way the ponderous vehicles could move fast enough to allow for only 10-minute hold ups. And Gentry says in Montana alone the project would build 53 new highway turnouts and modify or lengthen 22 existing turnouts with potential ecological effects on the nearby rivers.

The loads will roll mainly at night, and people have asked about what will happen if a load stops traffic and an emergency vehicle needs to get through. This concern is one of the things holding up a similar shipment of four sauropodian-sized heavy haul loads from ConocoPhillips that have been stalled since May at the Port of Lewiston. An Idaho judge ordered the state’s transportation department to review ConocoPhillips’ application and said that the state did not address the “inevitable” accident or breakdown that could shut Highway 12 for days or weeks, as well as overlooking “the quintessential disaster and its effects on the users of Highway 12.”

Winona LaDuke. Photo by Todd Cooper.

Rolheiser says for its part, Imperial Oil isn’t planning on having any accidents. “Our plan is as I mentioned based on moving them as safely and efficiently as we can so we don’t have an incident.”

Rolheiser also says Imperial Oil will cover the costs of “any work associated with the infrastructures changes,” even the costs of the highway patrol and escorts for the wide loads.

But DeFazio says his office looked into the KMTP and discovered that the Idaho Department of Transportation has applied for a competitive federal TIGER (Transportation Investments Generating Economic Recovery) grant. The grant application references improving the port for the Kearl project several times, adding that “Idaho’s Congressional Delegation has written a letter of support encouraging the utilization of the Port of Lewiston for shipments to the Kearl Oil Sands in Alberta, Canada.”

DeFazio has made inquiries to the federal highway division and had no response, so he has sent a letter to Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood and asked him to have his staff scrutinize the super-oversized loads.

“I just think that’s outrageous. This is all to benefit one corporation and a foreign country,” DeFazio says.

Weber says that KMTP opponents fear that the wild and scenic river and popular recreation area might become a thoroughfare not just for Imperial Oil’s massive loads, but for other oil companies looking to exploit the tar sands. The Idaho TIGER grant says once the improvements are in place, other oil companies may want to use the new transportation route in the future.

Oregon’s 4th District congressman says he also wonders if the uber-heavy machines will cross any federally funded bridges. A map from a Mammoet document detailing the route shows it crosses seven overpasses on I-90 and a bridge over the Clark Fork River. Gentry says the route crosses a number of U.S. highway bridges as well, and “I don’t think anyone has done the prerequisite inspection of bridges to see if each structure can support these loads.”

The Montana Department of Transportation (MDT) did a state Environmental Assessment examining the project in its roads, a process Gentry calls a “mini-NEPA.” MDT has said it won’t release the statement until September but an EW search found an MDT document dated August 2010 that issues a “finding of significant impact” (FONSI), meaning that that more detailed environmental impact statement that KMTP opponents have called for won’t happen.

Rivers: Oil and Water Don’t Mix

LaDuke and Weber say that one concern that hasn’t been fully addressed is what happens if one of these loads falls into the pristine Lochsa or Blackfoot Rivers. How exactly do you get a half-million pounds or so of machinery back on the road and what happens to the salmon and other fish?

The FONSI document says Imperial Oil has come up with a plan, but according to Sam Mace of Save Our Wild Salmon, “If one of the loads goes into the river, they can’t just pick it up and put it back on the trucks.” She says a crane of that size would have to come in from Seattle or Portland.

She says the likeliest section for an accident to happen is the most winding one and to get the module out, they would have to build a giant base for the crane. Concrete supports would possibly go in the river itself, causing more sedimentation and damage.

“This overarching issue is that we’re allowing ExxonMobil to use our river corridor and our wild and scenic roads up there to transport equipment to one of the biggest polluting projects in North America,” Mace says.

Patricia Weber. Photo by Todd Cooper.

She says her coalition represents a diverse coalition of groups from fisherman to conservationists. Their concern is with the project’s effects on wild salmon and steelhead, not only because of the tar sands’ impact on climate change but because of its direct impact on the rivers due to construction and possible accidents.

The salmon and steelhead that swim up the Columbia are the same ones that make the long journey to Lochsa River in Idaho and beyond. “What happens to habitat in Idaho affects Oregon fisherman,” Mace says.

Brett VandenHeuvel of Columbia Riverkeeper, a group that works to protect the water and life connected to waterway, says there are multiple listed salmon species that would be affected by this project. Echoing the sentiments of others, he says the contents of the loads aren’t hazardous until they reach the tar sands. Bur he says, when it comes to pollution and environmental justice, “There certainly federal and national issues.”

Problems that affect Oregon’s fish also affect fisherman, tribes and the state’s economy. But no one in Oregon seems to know very much about the project. Most people don’t even know it exists, and certain details are still unclear. Some documents say the modules are coming through the Port of Portland; Rolheiser says they are coming through Vancouver, Wash.; and no one seems to know if there’s anything Oregonians can do to stop the Goliaths.

Scott Clemans of the Army Corps of Engineers, which operates the dams on the Columbia, says he isn’t aware of any permits needed from the Corps for the leviathan loads. He says the Coast Guard issues permits for hazardous shipments like liquefied natural gas tankers. “We don’t really permit things that go on the Columbia,” Clemans says. “If it can fit into the navigation locks, then it’s good enough for us.”

Charles Hudson of the Columbia River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission asks: “Is this an appropriate use of the Columbia/Snake system to facilitate the fossil fuel industry in an era when we are trying very hard to move in the other direction, on a river system that is trying to become more integrated with renewable energy?”

Gentry says, optimistically, “There’s a very strong argument there should be a federal review with the Forest Service, the Army Corps or the EPA. Nobody’s taken a look at the cumulative environmental impact of the final project,” thanks to what he calls its improper segmentation.

Right now, courts in Montana and Idaho are pitting the little guys versus Imperial Oil over the modules. Imperial Oil wants to see the hulking shipments get underway in October, and to finish by November 2011. The oil company wants their tar sands oil extraction to begin in 2012 — doomsday for the environment, and the day we begin to go the way of the dinosaurs.

For more information on Winona LaDuke and the tar sands, go to

Read more about Save Our Wild Salmon’s efforts against the KMTP at

And you can find Patricia Weber and other members of the coalition at

Monday, September 6, 2010

Flooding Victimizes Helpless Babies in Karachi

Reposted from
Titter: Pakistan Flood Relief

Just received this video from Dr Awab Avi, fresh back from a visit to a pediatric ward overwhelmed by flood victims.

Watch if you dare...

Dr. Awab Alvi takes you through a walk-thru tour of the Pediatric ward at the Civil Hospital Shikarpur to show the deplorable conditions.

The ward looks after only the most severe cases. There are three natal wards with a total of 20 beds, which now hold over 100 children. Some generous donor had air-conditioners installed, making it barely livable. Once you walk out of the rooms, the stench and the heat of the hallway is unimaginable. Toilets down the hall are over-flooding beyond belief.

Team members from OffroadPakistan visited the ward, and desperately want to make a difference. They need help to raise funds and expertise to save the lives of these gentle little kids. Dreaming big, they hope to revamp the entire Civil Hospital in this area, as a long-lasting measure for this impoverished city.

You can donate at

Monday, August 30, 2010

The Meaning of Intelligence

The Meaning of Intelligence
An expansive reflection on work, education, and civic imagination with Mike Rose. He is an esteemed researcher and teacher at UCLA and a poetic writer. We explore his perspective, through life and scholarship, on hard subjects that drive to the heart of who we are — literacy, schooling, social class, and the deepest meaning of vocation.

Krista Tippett, host of Speaking of Faith
Valuing Intellectual Depth and Its Relationship to Work and Life in All Its Forms
I was hooked by the opening lines of Mike Rose's lovely book, The Mind at Work:

"I grew up a witness to the intelligence of the waitress in motion, the reflective welder, the strategy of the guy on the assembly line. This, then is something I know: the thought it takes to do physical work. Such work put food on our table, gave shape to stories of affliction and ability, framed how I saw the world … I've been thinking about this business of intelligence for a long time: the way we decide who's smart and who isn't, the way the work someone does feeds into that judgment, and the effect such judgment has on our sense of who we are and what we can do."

Mike Rose grew up in an immigrant family in the center of Los Angeles; I grew up in a small town in the melting pot of Oklahoma. I did not grow up around much physical work, but I did attend a school where advanced classes in languages, math, and science were axed to sustain a strong football team. His story of his late discovery of the strength of his own mind, and, even later, grasping the forms of intelligence he had known without appreciating, sparked all kinds of longing and recognition in me. Our stories taken together are disparate but kindred facets of a schizophrenia in the American story that thrives, largely unexamined, in our public life. Despite our national history of exceptional intellectual achievement, we also harbor what the historian Richard Hofstadter classically observed as a "national distaste for intellect."

This takes the form of a defiant bias against "book learning" where I grew up. Joe Six-Pack is, after all, a descendant of Thomas Jefferson's "common man." Sarah Palin strums these guitar chords powerfully, as Mike Rose points out — a phenomenon that learned commentators deride but fail to understand. For the other side of our schizophrenia is a learned dismissal of the cognitive accomplishments of "average" people, working people, summed up in a phrase like manual labor.

Mike Rose can demonstrate the error of such dismissiveness with hard research. But his concern goes deeper than that and is relevant to us all. Failing to see and nurture the intellectual and civic substance of all kinds of work, he worries, is profoundly undemocratic. It limits our collective vision and range of action from school reform to social planning. We shape educational policies with economic competitiveness in mind; we don't ask what kind of education befits a democracy. Mike Rose asks this question through his life story and in his scholarship, and speaking with him leaves me at once nourished and challenged.

This conversation with Mike Rose is more about intelligence and its relationship to work and life than it is about schooling per se, though he also offers very fresh and provocative observations on standardized testing and on what we might collectively learn from the controversial experience of No Child Left Behind.

Working on this program strummed some guitar chords already resonating in me and my colleagues after our show last fall titled "Learning, Doing, Being" with neuroscientist Adele Diamond. Many of you responded passionately to that show, and Mike Rose helps explain that response, I think. He calls forth — in a way we rarely do in our society, even in discussions about educational policy — the life-changing memories so many of us can summon of school or of teachers or of moments of reading or learning when our minds came alive; and how such moments formed who we wanted to be, who we are. We've gathered those insights on our website and would love to add yours.

The Mind at Work by Mike Rose
I Recommend Reading:
The Mind at Work: Valuing the Intelligence of the American Worker
by Mike Rose
This refreshing, wonderfully written examination of beliefs about the mind explores blue-collar vocations and offers ample opportunity for the reader to reevaluate one's assumptions about the complexity of thinking that takes place as a hairdresser snips a lock, a waitress juggles multiple tables and orders, a carpenter problem-solves on site.

*This article is entirely the property & contents of the American Public Media Newsletter

Friday, July 23, 2010

Social Entrepreneurship in Turbulent Times

"What's startling to me is that when I started talking about ideas like these 30 years ago, they were so new and strange that people looked at me as if I had two heads. In retrospect, I think I was looked on as something of a cultural clown - a "crazy" who was fun to listen to. The reaction I get now worries me a lot more, because what most people say is "Bob, today you're right, but we're not going to do anything about it."'
"My goal is to create a situation of full unemployment--a world in which people do not have to hold a job. And I believe that this kind of world can actually be achieved." _Robert Theobald

It is time for action in the streets, concerning full employment in America!

From his book, Rapids of Change, I quote the author, economist and futurist_ whose time is now:

Avoiding Catastrophic Failures (p.178-181)
The long-run cycles in Western industrial systems have played a critical part in ensuring the continued viability of rich societies. They have purged the excesses which accumulated as oversupply built up. Obsolete goods and facotires were consigned to the dustheap. Of course, this unemotional description of a slump hides the agony of people who (were)(my parenthesis) made useless. It also enables us to foget the wars that have been fought for markets./ Nevertheless, the mechanisms did work, despite the pain caused.
Today, however, we must learn how to prevent slumps and other massive catastrophes because the potential consequences are too dangerous. To do this we must gain a better understanding of what goes on during the development of the long-run cycle.
Economies emerge from a slump in a state of relative balance. People have been sufficiently firghtened by the disasters they have experienced that they choose to be careful. But as the years go by, excitement grows and the magnitude of the short-run cycles begins to increase.
Constraints, both regulatory and within professions, are imposed. But the general trend remains upward, and over excitement begins to take hold. Governments try to control these excesses. But the trends still look good to people. At this point, systems move onto a very dangerous downward slope through feverishness controlled by ever increasing power and then chaos.
At the end of the Carter Administration, we were firmly set on a course through fever into chaos because of excessive demand and inflation. The Reagan administration controlled inflation, but was also willing to allow other imbalances by pushing hige amounts of credit into the system, and by allowing business funding though junk bonds. Other countries have followed similar policies.
Can we move back up the circle and reverse the normal direction of flow toward entropy and breakdown? this question arises not only for economic slumps but also in human breakdowns. We can learn how we might act economically if we look at personal patterns. We used to assume that alcoholics and drug users had to fall, literally and figuratively, into the gutter before they would be willing to save themselves. It was thought that they would not be willing to make the effort to escape their cravings uintil there was absolutely no other option. We have now discovered ways to surround the alcoholic with fammily, friends and colleagues and to challenge her or him into accepting the need for change. this is a tough role because the alcoholic has perfected avoidance mechanisms and escape hatches just to avoid facing the ultimate consequences of his or her path. But an individual can be effectively confronted and the approaches to make the challenge as successful as possible have been developed over time.
Similarly, we have learned better skills for preventing catastrophic breakup in marriages if people wish to avoid anger and hatred. Families can be counseled in ways which help them decide whether they can effectively get back together or need to break up. If breaking up is necessary this cvan also be handled positively, although the need for leagal processes all too often detroys this possibility. Similar processes have been developed for larger groups including institutional renewal. I was able to healp a community college in Dallas rediscover the excitement of teaching and the joy of education. We do know the patterns and understandings which are required for both personal and institutional renewal.
We need to develop large-scale social processes similar to those which have been learned for individuals, families, and groups. We can confront people with the need for change in ways they cannot easiliy avoid. Personal change is achieved by forcing people to listen to what they don't want to hear. It might seem then that all we have to do is send more and more messages about growing evidence of potential catastrophe. This will not work, however, because most people have become experts at tuyning out messages they don't want to hear.
Unpleasant messages are all to easily blocked unless the messenger is trusted. The alcoholic eventually listens because the costs of ignoring the challenges of family, friends and colleagues is too high to be tolerable. We must develop a trust relationship with those we want ro influence in the society if we hope to get them to listen and then commit to avoiding total breakdown.
People are so stressed out today that the first step toward trust is to give them a chance to unwind. This is a fundamentally different strategy from that usually chosen by the change agents. Rapids is one step toward this new approach. It starts from the assumption that we can challenge people to move toward an attitude of realistic hope. Most people no longer believe that there is a shortcut to a better world, but many are still willing to try to build new approaches with each other.
The core aspect of our work will be to pull individuals, groups and systems away from the chaos into which we are drifting and back toward balance. Fortunately, a great deal of imaginative work has already been done in this area. We have the tools and models that can be employed, once we fully understand our directions and why they are fundamentally different from those of industrial systems."

To be continued... Ask yourself how much of this reading is a review? Where are we now? How is any of this information different? Should "industrial systems" be replaced with "corporate institutional/environments"?

*Thank-you for this uplifting inspiration from Diane Wilson!!