Aug 20, 2011

100+ Ways to Cook Zucchini : TreeHugger

by Colleen Vanderlinden
Photo Credit: Wildcat Dunny, Flickr Creative Commons Attribution License.

Chances are good that if you have a garden or belong to a CSA, right about now, you have at least a few zucchini or summer squash sitting on your counter. If you're looking for some creative ways to cook zucchini, we've got you covered!

Zucchini for Breakfast

1. Sweet Zucchini Pancakes 2. Zucchini and Carrot Muffins with Cinnamon 3. Zucchini and Basil Frittata from chef Michael Chiarello 4. Parmesan Zucchini Omelet from Taste of Home 5. Zucchini Breakfast Casserole from Saveur 6. Zucchini Hash Browns -- This is a nice low-carb alternative to traditional potato hash browns! 7. Egg in a Zucchini Basket
Zucchini Side Dishes and Salads

Photo Credit: Maggie Hoffman, Flickr Creative Commons Attribution License.

Here are some great side dishes featuring zucchini and summer squash. Of course, any of them would work well as a main course, too.

8. Zucchini Oven Fries 9. Zucchini Hash 10. Grilled Zucchini Ribbon Salad via chef Michael Chiarello 11. Quick Zucchini Saute via Smitten Kitchen 12. Zucchini and Tomato Saute 13. Shaved Zucchini Salad with Parmesan and Pine Nuts via Bon Apetit 14. Zucchini Salad via Bobby Flay 15. Minted Orzo and Zucchini Salad 16. Zucchini and Almond Pasta Salad via Smitten Kitchen 17. Pasta and Fried Zucchini Salad 18. Zucchini Salad with Lemon, Herbs, and Goat Cheese 19. Garbanzo Bean and Zucchini Salad via Giada DeLaurentis 20. Warm Zucchini Salad with Walnuts and Parmesan 21. Raw Corn and Zucchini Salad via Martha Stewart 22. Corn and Zucchini Salad with Chives via The Kitchn 23. Grilled Zucchini Salad with Lemon and Scallions via Real Simple 24. Sesame Ginger Zucchini Salad 25. Zucchini and Summer Squash Ribbons with Lemon Vinaigrette 26. Lentil and Raw Zucchini Salad 27. Zucchini Salad with Feta and Kalamata Olives 28. Roasted Red Bell Pepper and Zucchini Salad 29. Pasta Salad with Tomatoes, Zucchini and Feta via The Pioneer Woman 30. Vegetable Rice via Eating Well 31. Braised Green Beans and Summer Veggies via Eating Well 32. Cool Zucchini Slaw 33. Parmesan Squash Cakes via Eating Well 34. Pesto Topped Grilled Summer Squash via Eating Well
Zucchini Soups

35. Spinach and Zucchini Soup, via 101 Cookbooks 36. Zucchini Garlic Soup via The Kitchn 37. Herbed Zucchini Soup via Eating Well 38. Curried Zucchini Soup 39. Cream of Zucchini Soup 40. Pear and Zucchini Soup via Food Network 41. Chilled Zucchini Soup with Purslane via Food & Wine 42. Zucchini Tarragon Soup via Meatless Monday 43. Carrot, Tomato and Zucchini Soup 44. Fennel and Zucchini Soup with Warm Tomato Relish via Bon Apetit 45. Zucchini, Potato and Ham Soup via Rachael Ray 46. Tortellini and Zucchini Soup via Eating Well 47. Creamy Basil Zucchini Soup via Sunset Magazine 48. Minestrone Soup via Martha Stewart 49. Quick Vegetable Soup via Martha Stewart 50. Cold Zucchini-Mint Soup via Martha Stewart
Zucchini Main Courses: Vegetarian

Photo Credit: sushi ina, Flickr Creative Commons Attribution License.

51. Pinto Bean Mole Chili via Kelly Rossiter on TreeHugger 52. Vegetarian Moussaka 53. Stuffed Eggplant via TreeHugger 54. Athenian Pasta Primavera via Eating Well 55. Creamy Polenta with Summer Squash 56. Garden Pizza via Eating Well 57. Linguine with Roasted Summer Vegetables via Eating Well 58. Summer Squash and White Bean Saute 59. Gnocchi with Zucchini Ribbons and Parsley Brown Butter via Eating Well 60. Eggplant Zucchini Gratin via The Veggie Table 61. Vegan Quinoa Carrot Zucchini Casserole 62. German Style Stuffed Zucchini 63. Zucchini Casserole via Midwest Vegetarian 64. Zucchini Lasagna via The Veggie Table 65. Lemony Zucchini Goat Cheese Pizza via Smitten Kitchen 66. Zucchini and Pesto Pizza via Serious Eats 67. Tomato and Zucchini Pizza via The Detroit Free Press 68. Vegan Zucchini Pizza via Slashfood 69. Zucchini Ribbon Noodles with Red Pepper Coulis 70. Grilled Zucchini with Parmesan and Garlic Chile Oil 71. Grilled Vegetable, Herb, and Goat Cheese Sandwiches via Giada DeLaurentis 72. Ratatouille 73. Portobello Zucchini Tacos via Martha Stewart 74. Tomato, Mozzarella, and Zucchini Pie
Zucchini Main Courses: Non-Vegetarian

Photo Credit: Gudlyf, Flickr Creative Commons Attribution License.

75. Zucchini Rice Casserole via Eating Well 76. Zucchini and Squash Pasta with Sweet Italian Sausage via Emeril Lagasse 77. Fish and Summer Vegetable Packets via Eating Well 78. Shrimp and Saffron Rice with Summer Squash via Eating Well 79. Salmon and Zucchini Baked in Parchment via Martha Stewart 80. Bacon and Zucchini Quiche via Martha Stewart 81. Stuffed Tex-Mex Yellow Squash 82. Shrimp and Zucchini Tostadas 83. Creamy Fusili with Yellow Squash and Bacon 84. Chicken and Marinated Zucchini Sandwich via Martha Stewart 85. Stuffed Zucchini
Zucchini Desserts

Photo Credit: rusvaplauke, Flickr Creative Commons Attribution License.

86. Lemon Zucchini Cornmeal Cookies 87. Summer Squash Loaf Cake 88. Zucchini Nut Bread Cookie Sandwiches 89. Sweet Zucchini Cupcakes 90. Zucchini Chocolate Chip Cookies via Care2 91. Zucchini Brownies
Zucchini Bread

Photo Credit: moria, Flickr Creative Commons Attribution License.

92. Zucchini Spice Bread via Martha Stewart 93. Zucchini Bread with Dried Fruit via Smitten Kitchen 94. Lemon-Poppy Seed Zucchini Bread via 101 Cookbooks 95. Pineapple Zucchini Bread via Grit 96. Chocolate Zucchini Bread via Tasty Kitchen 97. Zucchini and Apple Bread via Food Network
Pickled Zucchini

Photo Credit: Jason Riedy, Flickr Creative Commons Attribution License.

98. Green Pickled Zucchini with Herbs via Emeril Green 99. Sweet and Spicy Zucchini Pickles 100. Quick Pickled Zucchini via 101 Cookbooks 101. Bread and Butter Zucchini Pickles 102. Zucchini Pickle Relish

So, there you have it! Over 100 ways to make use of all of those zucchini and summer squashes. Enjoy!

More About Summer Gardening: Your Complete Guide to Summer Vegetable Gardening Quick Growing Vegetables for Impatient Gardeners

Aug 19, 2011

28 Must-Read Books That Will Forever Change How You See the World

1. Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the Way We Make Things by William McDonough & Michael Braungart. Why settle for a throwaway culture? This book is a must read because it inspires elegant design solutions, stating that every single product must either go back to the earth or back into industry to be made into something else. A revolutionary way of upgrading the Industrial Revolution – talk about life changing.
2. Introduction to Permaculture by Bill Mollison. The classic text on permaculture design (which is not limited to gardens, but can also be used to design homes, communities and societies in general). An excellent introduction for the aspiring student or someone who just wants to know what it’s all about.
3. The World Without Us by Alan Weisman. What exactly would happen to the earth if human life disappeared? The author explores a few different scenarios in great detail (including a suddenly depopulated Manhattan). Absolutely addictive reading.
4. Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life by Barbara Kingsolver. A great read for the locavores. The author spends a year eating only from her garden, or that which is locally grown or raised. A foodie’s delight, this book proves how richly one can live off the land.
5. Eating For Beauty by David Wolfe. Leading raw foodist David Wolfe takes that old adage “you are what you eat” to a new level. He describes how what you eat literally creates who you are, and which foods will create the most beautiful you – in body and in spirit.
6. Lifeplace: Bioregional Thought and Practice by Robert L. Thayer, Jr. In a world gone insanely global, this book takes us deeper into the microcosm. A bioregion is defined by nature, not by politics, and having intimate connection with your home means living within that context – historically, geographically and culturally.
7. Green Building & Remodeling For Dummies by Eric Corey Freed. Written by the founder of organicARCHITECT, this book is a comprehensive guide to green building materials and techniques, energy and water systems, and the pros and cons of everything. Check out a sample chapter here.
8. Gaia: A New Look at Life on Earth by James Lovelock. First published in 1979, this book sets forth the Gaia Hypothesis, stating that our planet is more than a sum of its resources, but rather a fully integrated living being, with systems of life more complex than previously imagined. I wonder what Gaia’s thinking about us now?
9. The Omnivore’s Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals by Michael Pollan. Follow a McDonald’s meal back to a cornfield in Iowa. Learn about the differences between large and small organic farms. See what it’s like to hunt and gather for oneself. Food is what builds our bodies – we ought to know what it takes to build our food.
10. Ecovillages: A Practical Guide to Sustainable Communities by Jan Martin Bang. Documenting some of the successful Ecovillages around the world, the author shows us how groups of people have come to together to live out the permaculture model in both rural and urban environments.
11. Cohousing: A Contemporary Approach to Housing Ourselves by McCamant, Durrett and Hertzman. If you think intentional communities are too much like communes, but typical modern housing creates too much isolation, cohousing may be the answer you’re looking for. Explore these European neighborhoods built with the aim of fostering community while simultaneously respecting each family’s personal space.
12. The Findhorn Garden: Pioneering a New Vision of Man and Nature in Cooperation by The Findhorn Community. The founders of Findhorn were guided to begin growing a garden (including tomatoes, roses and tropicals) on an infertile, sandy plot in cold coastal Scotland. The quality and quantity of what they grew stunned horticulturists around the world. Enjoy this photo-filled book and learn the surprising secret of their success.
13. Biomimicry: Innovation Inspired by Nature by Janine M. Benyus. We’ve thus far created a modern world based on artificial ideals, but nature, which runs on sunlight and creates no waste, holds the solution to many modern problems. This isn’t a “back to nature” book, but rather a book proposing thoroughly modern technologies that copy nature’s best traits.
14. Holistic Management: A New Framework for Decision Making by Allan Savory and Jody Butterfield. A great read for businesspeople and managers – particularly those in charge of large areas of land. This book views people, economies and the environment as interconnected. Using holistic management techniques, we can make decisions that take all factors into account, for both short and long term. I’d like our government leaders to read this book.
15. Voluntary Simplicity by Duane Elgin. Living with less “stuff” can mean living with more purpose, balance and connection. Here’s the inspiration you need to scale back on material goods and make more room for the priceless things that money can’t buy.
16. Beyond Fossil Fools: The Roadmap to Energy Independence by 2040 by Joseph M. Shuster. If you’re on the fence about peak oil and the idea that we can “drill baby drill” our way to energy security, this book will be your wake-up call. The advice is practical, well-researched and very well-documented. It’s the kind of book you’d want everyone in Congress to read too, not to mention leaders all around the world.
17. Nonviolent Communication: A Language of Life by Marshall Rosenberg. Until you read this book, you may not realize how the words you choose contribute to conflict. You think you’re explaining your feelings very clearly, but to the other person it sounds like an accusation. Nip misunderstandings in the bud, communicate more effectively and watch as you do a little soul searching to boot.
18. Gaviotas: A Village to Reinvent the World by Alan Weisman. The ultimate intentional community that literally sprung out of nowhere. Deep in the impossibly barren savanna of Columbia, a community of brilliant, creative and visionary people (including scientists, artisans and ex-street kids) decided to do the unthinkable: create a self-sufficient village and invent the right technology (wind turbines, solar collectors and soil-free crop systems) to make it happen. If you hear anyone say “it just can’t be done,” give them a copy of Gaviotas and watch hope spring eternal.
19. Choosing Simplicity: Real People Finding Peace and Fulfillment in a Complex World by Linda Breen Pierce. Living a simple life – that sounds good, but what does it really look like? What does it mean to implement simplicity in a hectic and complicated world? Read the stories of over 200 people – urban and rural – who have done just that.
20. Affluenza: The All-Consuming Epidemic by John de Graaf. Too much, too much, too much stuff, that’s what this culture is all about, and it’s making us sick. Affluenza is more than just overflowing landfills and obesity – it’s a deep spiritual illness and the root of many of the social problems we have in the world today.
21. Hope’s Edge by Frances Moore Lappe’. Author of 1971′s groundbreaking Diet for a Small Planet, Lappe’ again explores the issue of food, but in the contemporary global world of the 21st century. She explores the way food is grown and the way communities thrive – or fail – around the world. Lappe’ busts corporate myths, gets to the core of truth and gives practical advice (and vegetarian recipes!) for creating a wholesome life in a better world.
22. The One-Straw Revolution: An Introduction to Natural Farming by Masanobu Fukuoka. For the many among us who find gardening both a grounding and spiritual pursuit – and realizing that the two are not mutually exclusive – One Straw Revolution will likely improve your crop yields, lessen your work load and nudge you further along the road to inner peace. This is farming so radical, so simple and so passionate, you’ll be hard pressed to keep from creating an abundant patch of your very own.
23. Blessed Unrest: How The Largest Movement In The World Came Into Being and Why No One Saw It Coming by Paul Hawken. Word of mouth, grassroots and very likely Twittered, the (r)evolution is happening. With no leader, no headquarters and no media coverage, there still exists what can be called the largest gathering of people on Earth. And you’re very likely part of it.
24. A Reasonable Life: Toward a Simpler, Secure, More Humane Existence by Ferenc Mate. The author’s views might be radical, but someone has to say it. After all, if no one pushes the envelope, we might never change the status quo. Kind of like a smack upside the head to wake you up out of a bad dream – the American Dream.
Perhaps it’s obvious to you that our culture has a big, gaping hole of unhappiness that we constantly stuff with material possessions (think Affluenza), but how did we get this way? Liedloff’s fascinating observations on child-rearing, both in the modern world and among tribal people of the Amazon, shines a bright light on the issue. How we treat our babies makes a huge difference in how they treat the rest of the world later on. This is the book that sparked the babywearing trend in the United States.
26. The Last Hours of Ancient Sunlight by Thom Hartmann. Loss of tribal culture, overpopulation, the end of our excessively affluent petroleum-fueled lives; sounds like doom and gloom, but what next? This book presents the case passionately, then provides real options for future hope and change. But caveat emptor, the solution will require more than buying a Prius and switching to fluorescent lights – ultimately, we’ll need deep and systemic change. Think establishing communities, empowerment of women, turning off the television and reconnecting.
27. Sacred Commerce: Business as a Path of Awakening by Matthew & Terces Engelhart. Some people start a business simply to make money. Others want to provide valuable goods and services to the community. But have you heard of people starting a business as a way to move further along the spiritual path? The creators of Cafe Gratitude explain how this is possible – and even imperative – for the healthy future of commerce. Managers, this is your chance to create a quiet revolution in the workplace.
28. The Food Revolution : How Your Diet Can Help Save Your Life and Our Worldby John Robbins. The title says it all. Whether you’re just beginning to understand the connection between diet and our environment at large, or if you need a well-documented resource to gather your own statistics and quotations, this is an essential book for the conscious eaters among us. Robbins, author of Diet for a New America, breaks down industry jargon and propaganda and presents the truth about what you eat, how you feel and how it all affects the world. Clear, concise and accessible.
Now if all these books were printed on tree-free paper (like Cradle to Cradle) with soy-based ink, we’d be another step towards true sustainability. Otherwise, the audio or e-book will suffice. However you do it, you’ll be inspired.

Aug 18, 2011

Obama Foodorama: President Obama: Let's Move! Campaign Is An Economic Boon For Farmers

President says American fruit and vegetable growers, especially family farmers, will earn higher profits thanks to First Lady's childhood obesity initiative...
Speaking on Wednesday at the final town hall meeting of his rural bus tour through America's heartland, President Obama gave his Alpha, Illinois audience a dissertation on Let's Move!, First Lady Obama's childhood obesity campaign. It came after an audience member commended Mrs. Obama's efforts, then asked the President what his Administration will be doing to create "positive incentives to encourage people to eat healthy, and to live healthy." The President, standing in front of a John Deere tractor at Country Corner Farm, described Mrs. Obama's fitness initiatives. But his trip was designed to highlight his Administration's efforts to boost the rural economy, so he gave an analysis of the economic benefits of Let's Move! for American farmers. (Above: The President in Alpha)

The US supply chain for domestically grown fruit and vegetables will be re-shaped by the Let's Move! component that encourages citizens to eat more fruit and vegetables, the President said. This will help American farmers make more profit from their sales, especially family farmers, he explained. Certainly American family farmers could potentially benefit from the campaign, but under its current structure, these benefits are not apparent. And the President was confused about some details of his wife's signature initiative.

"This [Let's Move!] is something that actually can benefit farmers, particularly family farmers," President Obama said. "A lot of times, farmers are not making all the money from their products because it goes through this chain of shipping and processing and distribution, and there are a lot of middlemen between the farmer and the end user."

That's true: According to a February report from USDA's Economic Research Service, farmers and agribusiness receive just11.6% of the American food dollar, with the rest going to other points on the food supply chain.

"If we can get farmers more directly linked to consumers, they’re selling their products more directly, they’re getting more fresh vegetables, more fresh fruit, then everybody can benefit," President Obama said.

That's also true in theory, but the structure of the private sector partnerships Mrs. Obama has created for her campaign don't now support this. A pillar of Let's Move! is eliminating what USDA identifies as food deserts in the next six years, which the agency defines as "a low-income census tract where either a substantial number or share of residents has low access to a supermarket or large grocery store--areas where supermarkets are not close to consumers."

The First Lady has "been able to get a lot of agreements with [grocery] companies," President Obama told the Alpha crowd, adding that these are voluntary commitments, rather than created by legislation. He pointed to the largest partnership of all, with grocery giant Walmart, as a win for farmers.

"Voluntarily, they [Walmart] and a whole bunch of other big retailers have said, we’re going to start linking up with family farmers; we’re going to start setting up better grocery stores in underserved communities...and linking up -- setting up farmers markets in urban areas where people can sell produce," President Obama said.

In reality, none of the grocers that have partnered with the White House have pledged to "link up" specifically with family farmers to purchase the produce that they will sell. There is no requirement for the companies to use fruit and vegetables grown by any specific class of farmers, whether domestic or foreign, large or small. Rather, the agreement covers what markets will be built: Drugstore chain Walgreens announced that it will transform 1,000 of its stores into "food oasis" stores, selling healthier foods, including produce. SuperValu pledged to build 250 Save-A-Lot stores in food deserts in the next five years. Walmart pledged to build 275 to 300 stores in food deserts by 2016. Two other regional, smaller chains also made building pledges.

Nor did the Let's Move! partnership with grocers involve a pledge from the corporations to open farmers markets. And the report on the rural economy the White House Rural Council released ahead of the President's trip, "Jobs and Economic Security for Rural America," fails to include any strategies for connecting American family farmers with American consumers. Rather, there is a focus on the importance of the export market for agricultural products.

USDA issued a report in early August showing that more than 1,000 new farmers markets have opened across the US in the last year, but these new venues were not, as the President seems to be maintaining, due to the efforts of grocery corporations.

Foreign farmers get the biggest boost...
The fact is US farmers don't actually grow enough fruit and vegetables to ensure that every man, woman, and child in America meet the produce consumption advice in the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, the basis for the eating part of Mrs. Obama's campaign (Americans should fill half their plates at every meal with fruit and vegetables, according to the Guidelines). USDA still identifies fruit and vegetables as "specialty crops," and US Agriculture is primarily devoted to other crops: Corn, soybeans, cotton, rice and wheat.

What Mrs. Obama's campaign currently means is that--should every American follow federal dietary guidelines--foreign fruit and vegetable growers will be receiving the biggest benefit. America will be forced to rely on imports for all the fresh produce required to really meet the eating goals of Mrs. Obama's campaign.

Two weeks ago during a conference call with reporters, Deputy Agriculture Secretary Kathleen Merrigan pointed this out, saying that it's going to be hard to make sure Americans meet the 2010 Dietary Guidelines, and noting that a problem is "how we're going to get there if we are not largely resting on imported foods."

America's imports of fresh fruit and vegetables has increased substantially since the 1990s, according to USDA's analysis. "Dominant suppliers are the North American Free Trade Agreement region for fresh vegetables, the Southern Hemisphere countries for off-season fresh fruit, and equatorial countries for bananas," USDA says. And America is increasingly dependent on China for produce imports. In 2010, America imported $1.36 billion in fruit and vegetables from China, up from $197 million in 1999. Mexican imports went from $2.6 billion to $7.1 billion in the same time period.

Ag Secretary thinks food middlemen are important part of economy...
Meantime, on Monday, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsackaired a very different view of the food supply chain than President Obama. Vilsack pointed out that the record-breaking use of SNAP benefits, also known as Food Stamps--which now have close to 46 million people enrolled in the program--creates the kind of middle-man supply chain scenario that President Obama says Let's Move! will eliminate. Food Stamps currently add to the economy more than $6 billion in purchasing power monthly and thus create jobs for the food middlemen, Vilsack said, pointing to this as an economic stimulus.

"If people are able to buy a little more in the grocery store, someone has to stock it, package it, shelve it, process it, ship it," Vilsack said. "All of those are jobs. It's the most direct stimulus you can get in the economy during these tough times."

What it all means...
The point of the President's heartland swing was to highlight what his Administration is doing to boost the rural economy. Thus he focused on the economic benefits of battling obesity with healthy eating, pointing out that obesity has a huge impact on healthcare costs. Mrs. Obama has also spoken about the economic benefits of battling childhood obesity, and in July, when she invited grocery executives to the White House to make their announcements about eliminating food deserts, senior White House aides focused as much on the job-creation element of the project as they did on the healthy eating aspects.

If Mrs. Obama does for produce what she's done for the fashion industry, American growers will be in good shape. But right now, eliminating the middleman in the supply chain, and thus boosting farmers' profits with direct sales is still in the starter stage. Fruit and vegetables prices, like all food prices, have remained stubbornly high. And it's hard to imagine how Walmart's proposed commitment to dropping the price of fruit and vegetables means that American farmers will earn higher profits.

The video of President Obama's town hall:The President, his Cabinet Secretaries, and the senior officials traveling with him heard plenty about the needs of farmers during the trip, being told, among other things, that land is too expensive, agriculture subsidies need to be eliminated or at least capped, and other regulations--such as those for water runoff, noise, and dust--are something farmers don't want. Estate taxes also came under fire, and there was a plea from the grandson of a farmer with an interest in a corn ethanol plant for the President to preserve the business.

The President's three-day swing through Minnesota, Illinois, and Iowa included four town halls and one Rural Economic forum, and he unveiled both a new small business support initiative to create rural jobs, and a $510 million initiative to boost rural industries for advanced biofuels. Driving through the heartland on his high-tech black bus, the President made stops five kinds of pie, for ice cream, and for popcorn, and visted a County Fair in Illinois. The President had lunch with veterans and breakfast with small business owners. He was gifted with pie, and brought home gifts for Mrs. Obama.

The President returned to Washington on Wednesday night, and departs for Martha's Vineyard this afternoon, for a ten-day vacation.

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Aug 17, 2011

The 'Unfashionable' Matt Damon, Mensch of the Year | | AlterNet


Damon breaks out of Hollywood and into serious activism, earning the respect of hard-working activists and progressive leaders alike.
August 16, 2011

It's rare when a Hollywood superstar earns the respect of hard-working activists and progressives leaders alike. Usually stars dabble in activism for the publicity, and associate themselves with safe issues, so as not to rock the boat.

But not Matt Damon. Like many other progressives, Damon has grown weary of Democrats looking for phony centrism instead of standing up to a shockingly far-right Republican party. Against this backdrop, Damon’s principled and public stands do indeed make us sit up and pay attention.

Progressive star Michael Moore went so far as to suggest that Damon run for president in an online townhall with the blog, FireDogLake. Moore wants Damon because Moore is unhappy that President Obama has continually tracked to the right with conservative narratives about taxes, spending and the role of government, saying that debt is the “greatest threat” facing the United States today. That's right, not military spending, the banks, corporate excess and corruption, poverty, and a few other pressing problems. Yes, Obama has a tough job dealing with the rigid, ransom-seeking right-wing. But seriously, Mr. President. Get on message. We need to be spending money, not cutting jobs.

So, it's an entertaining thought, Matt Damon for president. We've had Reagan, Schwarzenegger, et al. Why not a progressive star this time? This presidential trial balloon idea even caught attention across the Atlantic where an article in the (UK) Guardian had an interesting take on Damon and celebrity politics.

The Guardian mentioned Damon as a defender of teachers and public education. As a misguided establishment consensus has emerged around standardized testing, privatization and charter schools, Damon has made a full-throated and deeply personal defense of public education, teachers and even the much-maligned teachers’ unions. He gave a real barnburner speech at a recent pro-public education “Save Our Schools” rally.

Then the Guardian, perhaps showing its lack of savvy about progressives in the U.S., mentioned Damon's support of the Working Families Party (WFP), an independent grassroots party active in five or six states. WFP's goal is to hold both Democrats and Republicans accountable to the needs of working and middle-class families. I’ve been a fan of WFP for years, and couldn’t help but laugh out loud when the Guardian writer, Paul Harris, cited Damon’s support for the “obscure” and “distinctly unfashionable” WFP.

On the first point, he was plainly wrong. WFP is well known in New York and Connecticut politics, and its work has captured the attention and the imagination of organizers and activists in other states who admire its strength and independence.

But on the second point, Harris gets it right. In American public discourse (or at least, what passes for public discourse on cable news and talk radio) it is “deeply unfashionable” to oppose the yawning income gap or wealth inequality; to question the wisdom of the markets; to defend a role for the public sector; or to try to reverse a race-to-the-bottom economy.

The Working Families Party is certainly guilty of all of those sins against fashion. Happily enough, so is Matt Damon. Last year, he stumped for WFP in New York in a web video, urging voters to make a proud progressive stand on Election Day 2010 by voting for Democrats on the Working Families Party line (that's called "fusion" voting). In the video he points to the need for jobs, environmental protection and affordable mass transit as reasons to support the Working Families Party. (Didn’t Jason Bourne spend some time at the train station outwitting the bad guys? Clearly a message on the importance of public goods!)

SInce the Guardian mentioned it, and Damon has worked hard on its behalf, a few more words about WFP are deserved. Yes, the Working Families Party is not exactly a glamorous operation. WFP spends a lot of time knocking on doors in working-class and middle-class neighborhoods, talking at union halls and community forums, listening to and speaking with voters. Mostly, they hear things the character Damon created in Good Will Hunting surely would have understood, even if Fox News pundits do not. Families are worried about disappearing jobs and declining wages, about the cost of health care and higher education, about foreclosure and credit card debt.

But despite being a "third" party in what’s generally thought of as a two-party game, the Working Families Party has had some impressive successes in just the past year. In New York, WFP led the effort for a landmark Green Jobs initiative that will put tens of thousands of people to work retrofitting homes for energy efficiency – and saving homeowners on their utility bills in the process. In Connecticut, WFP won the nation’s first statewide law guaranteeing paid sick days for low-wage service workers. And in Oregon, WFP has put together an impressive coalition of small business, community bankers, family farmers and homeowners to limit Wall Street’s power over the local economy and make credit more available to Oregonians. All sensible, creative initiatives

But all that takes work -- and it’s hard to be fashionable doing the kind of shoe-leather neighbor-to-neighbor political organizing that WFP specializes in. You probably have to wear comfortable sneakers, not high-end dress shoes. And you probably want a solid coat in the winter, not the $9,000 Chanel sequined tweed coat the New York Times says luxury retailers are having trouble keeping on the shelves.

So obviously the fancy goods are not what pundits mean when they call WFP or other progressive organizations “unfashionable,” or by implication superstar Matt Damon, who is not spending his spare time at fancy parties. What they mean is, they have the gall to stand up and fight for ordinary people.

So it's probably true that Michael Moore's idea of Matt Damon running for president is a bit farfetched at this point. Maybe down the road, although some suggest that Damon's "partner in crime," fellow progressive Ben Affleck, is the more likely pol. Let's just symbolically nominate Matt Damon for "Mensch of the Year," and leave it at that.

We are all thankful for the work Damon has done for good causes, creatively fighting the worldwide water shortage, fighting for teachers and public education, and stumping for the "unfashionable" Working Families Party. My bet is he will win big.

Mensch "human being" - means "a person of integrity and honor". Matt is certainly that... a man of conviction... I am a big fan... Monte

Aug 16, 2011

Federal agency: Texas Gov. Perry wrong in comments about new license rules for farmers | Iowa Caucuses


U.S. Department of Transportation officials are disputing Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s statement at the Iowa State Fair today that federal administrators plan to require a farmer driving a tractor across a public road to obtain a commercial driver’s license.

“We are absolutely not requiring farmers” to obtain commercial licenses, such as those required of semi-trailer operators, said U.S. DOT spokeswoman Candice Tolliver in Washington, D.C.

She said U.S. DOT Secretary Ray LaHood had put out a statement last week making the DOT’s position clear.

“We have no intention of instituting onerous regulations on the hardworking farmers who feed our country and fuel our economy,” LaHood’s statement said.

Perry, who on Saturday announced he is seeking the Republican presidential nomination, contended in Des Moines today that federal regulations are stifling creation of American jobs.

He then proceeded to cite what he termed an “obscene, crazy” regulation. “If you are a tractor driver, if you drive your tractor across a public road, you’re going to have to have a commercial driver’s license. Now how idiotic is that?”

Perry said he had talked on Sunday night with U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa at a GOP dinner in Waterloo. Perry told Grassley he had heard in the previous two days that the federal government was going to put such a regulation in place.

“Your own United States senator, sitting there at the table, said, ‘That’s right.’ And I said, ‘What were they thinking, senator?’ And he said, ‘They weren’t.’ So that is the issue at hand here,” Perry said.

Federal officials today said it’s a non-issue.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration gave this account in a statement last week: The agency had heard from farmers concerned about what the rules were concerning commercial licenses. So the agency said it initiated a review to make sure states don’t go overboard in enforcing regulations on agricultural operators. The agency then sought public comment on several related issues, including the question of “whether off-road farm equipment or implements of husbandry operated on public roads for limited distances are considered commercial motor vehicles.”

Some farm groups interpreted the request for public comment as a signal that the U.S. Department of Transportation was about to impose new regulations on farmers.

For example, the National Sorghum Producers posted a blog item on Aug. 4, asking, “A CDL to drive a tractor? Another burdensome regulation looms over ag.” Grassley joined nearly two-dozen other senators in writing two separate letters to federal officials on the issue.

DOT Secretary LaHood, a former Republican congressman from Illinois, said in his statement last week that his agency was reinforcing its commitment to no new regulations for America’s agricultural community.

Ann Ferro, administrator of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, also said in the statement, “We want to make crystal clear that we are not imposing any new regulations.”

Grassley’s aides, asked today about Perry’s comments, referred to an electronic newsletter Grassley issued on Friday. The senator wrote that common sense had appeared to prevail in the matter of proposed agricultural transportation regulations. But he complained that “the last few months have shown a clear disconnect between Washington bureaucrats at the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration … and rural America.”

Dave Lorenzen, director of the Iowa Department of Transportation’s Office of Motor Vehicle Enforcement, said today that many Iowa farmers already have either a commercial driver’s license or what is called a D1 chauffeur’s license to operate semi-trailers to haul grain. State officials have no plans to require farmers to obtain a commercial driver’s license to operate farm tractors on public roads, he said.

“We work real closely with the Farm Bureau and the ag folks, and we try to inform them if there are going to be any big changes. We make our best effort to educate them and get their input,” Lorenzen said.

Texas needs to keep "this lying turd - nut case" - Rick Perry...  Monte

Aug 15, 2011

Is Capitalism Doomed? - Nouriel Roubini - Project Syndicate


2011-08-15

NEW YORK – The massive volatility and sharp equity-price correction now hitting global financial markets signal that most advanced economies are on the brink of a double-dip recession. A financial and economic crisis caused by too much private-sector debt and leverage led to a massive re-leveraging of the public sector in order to prevent Great Depression 2.0. But the subsequent recovery has been anemic and sub-par in most advanced economies given painful deleveraging.

Now a combination of high oil and commodity prices, turmoil in the Middle East, Japan’s earthquake and tsunami, eurozone debt crises, and America’s fiscal problems (and now its rating downgrade) have led to a massive increase in risk aversion. Economically, the United States, the eurozone, the United Kingdom, and Japan are all idling. Even fast-growing emerging markets (China, emerging Asia, and Latin America), and export-oriented economies that rely on these markets (Germany and resource-rich Australia), are experiencing sharp slowdowns.

Until last year, policymakers could always produce a new rabbit from their hat to reflate asset prices and trigger economic recovery. Fiscal stimulus, near-zero interest rates, two rounds of “quantitative easing,” ring-fencing of bad debt, and trillions of dollars in bailouts and liquidity provision for banks and financial institutions: officials tried them all. Now they have run out of rabbits.

Fiscal policy currently is a drag on economic growth in both the eurozone and the UK. Even in the US, state and local governments, and now the federal government, are cutting expenditure and reducing transfer payments. Soon enough, they will be raising taxes.

Another round of bank bailouts is politically unacceptable and economically unfeasible: most governments, especially in Europe, are so distressed that bailouts are unaffordable; indeed, their sovereign risk is actually fueling concern about the health of Europe’s banks, which hold most of the increasingly shaky government paper.

Nor could monetary policy help very much. Quantitative easing is constrained by above-target inflation in the eurozone and UK. The US Federal Reserve will likely start a third round of quantitative easing (QE3), but it will be too little too late. Last year’s $600 billion QE2 and $1 trillion in tax cuts and transfers delivered growth of barely 3% for one quarter. Then growth slumped to below 1% in the first half of 2011. QE3 will be much smaller, and will do much less to reflate asset prices and restore growth.

Currency depreciation is not a feasible option for all advanced economies: they all need a weaker currency and better trade balance to restore growth, but they all cannot have it at the same time. So relying on exchange rates to influence trade balances is a zero-sum game. Currency wars are thus on the horizon, with Japan and Switzerland engaging in early battles to weaken their exchange rates. Others will soon follow.

Meanwhile, in the eurozone, Italy and Spain are now at risk of losing market access, with financial pressures now mounting on France, too. But Italy and Spain are both too big to fail and too big to be bailed out. For now, the European Central Bank will purchase some of their bonds as a bridge to the eurozone’s new European Financial Stabilization Facility. But, if Italy and/or Spain lose market access, the EFSF’s €440 billion ($627 billion) war chest could be depleted by the end of this year or early 2012.

Then, unless the EFSF pot were tripled – a move that Germany would resist – the only option left would become an orderly but coercive restructuring of Italian and Spanish debt, as has happened in Greece. Coercive restructuring of insolvent banks’ unsecured debt would be next. So, although the process of deleveraging has barely started, debt reductions will become necessary if countries cannot grow or save or inflate themselves out of their debt problems.

So Karl Marx, it seems, was partly right in arguing that globalization, financial intermediation run amok, and redistribution of income and wealth from labor to capital could lead capitalism to self-destruct (though his view that socialism would be better has proven wrong). Firms are cutting jobs because there is not enough final demand. But cutting jobs reduces labor income, increases inequality and reduces final demand.

Recent popular demonstrations, from the Middle East to Israel to the UK, and rising popular anger in China – and soon enough in other advanced economies and emerging markets – are all driven by the same issues and tensions: growing inequality, poverty, unemployment, and hopelessness. Even the world’s middle classes are feeling the squeeze of falling incomes and opportunities.

To enable market-oriented economies to operate as they should and can, we need to return to the right balance between markets and provision of public goods. That means moving away from both the Anglo-Saxon model of laissez-faire and voodoo economics and the continental European model of deficit-driven welfare states. Both are broken.

The right balance today requires creating jobs partly through additional fiscal stimulus aimed at productive infrastructure investment. It also requires more progressive taxation; more short-term fiscal stimulus with medium- and long-term fiscal discipline; lender-of-last-resort support by monetary authorities to prevent ruinous runs on banks; reduction of the debt burden for insolvent households and other distressed economic agents; and stricter supervision and regulation of a financial system run amok; breaking up too-big-to-fail banks and oligopolistic trusts.

Over time, advanced economies will need to invest in human capital, skills and social safety nets to increase productivity and enable workers to compete, be flexible and thrive in a globalized economy. The alternative is – like in the 1930s - unending stagnation, depression, currency and trade wars, capital controls, financial crisis, sovereign insolvencies, and massive social and political instability.


Nouriel Roubini is Chairman of Roubini Global Economics, Professor of Economics at the Stern School of Business, New York University, and co-author of the book Crisis Economics.

Jamais Cascio: Hacking the Earth


Jamais Cascio, writer and co-founder of WorldChanging.com, examines various risks involved in the pursuit of mass-scale geoengineering as a response to global warming. Along with unknown scientific considerations, Cascio warns that geoengineering could be fertile ground for international political conflict. 

----- NEXT -- Nordic EXceptional Trendshop -- is a unique chance to get close to some of today's greatest minds. NEXT is a vessel bound for the new, the odd angled and the unpredictable. A home ground for exceptional minds and their inventions.

The first NEXT was held in 2004 and since then NEXT had grown to be an international -- and acclaimed -- landmark for forward thinking, the new and the next within technology and business oriented innovation. - Innovation Lab Jamais Cascio is a San Francisco Bay Area-based writer and ethical futurist specializing in design strategies and possible outcomes for future scenarios.

Cascio received his undergraduate degree from UC Santa Cruz and his ABD at UC Berkeley. Selected by Foreign Policy magazine as one of their Top 100 Global Thinkers, Jamais Cascio writes about the intersection of emerging technologies, environmental dilemmas, and cultural transformation, specializing in the design and creation of plausible scenarios of the future. His work focuses on the importance of long-term, systemic thinking, emphasizing the power of openness, transparency and flexibility as catalysts for building a more resilient society.

Cascio's work appears in publications as diverse as Metropolis, the Atlantic, The Wall Street Journal, and Foreign Policy. He has been featured in multiple television programs discussing foresight and environmental issues, including National Geographic Television's Six Degrees, its 2008 documentary on the effects of global warming, the History Channel's Science Impossible, its 2009 series on emerging technologies, and the 2010 Canadian Broadcasting Company documentary, Surviving the Future.

Very interesting discussion... worth the time to view...  Monte

Aug 14, 2011

Portable - One Handed - Paper Towel Holder


This is a home-made paper towel dispenser which allows you to take one sheet at at time using only one hand. Just about every time you need a paper towel, both of your hands are full of something. Now you can take one sheet at a time using only one hand. The project is easy, fun, and useful. The dispenser is ideal for use in the camper, picnic table, garage, shop and even works very well on the dining table. If you would like the plans to build one of these click on: http://www.blueribbonnaturalsoaps.com/ Then click on "Devil Dog Automata" Then you can click on "One hand Paper Towel dispenser"
or go to http://www.blueribbonnaturalsoaps.com/blueribbonpages/automata/blackandwhite/blackandwhite/ddoghome.html You can then follow the instructions to download the plans.

Ken is amazing at making  mechanical wood devices!!! See project below... Monte

Facing Ninth Deployment, Army Ranger Kills Himself. 'No Way' That God Would Forgive Him For What He'd Seen, Done, He Told Wife


The people who should be worried about going to hell are the bastards who sent these soldiers over there for no good reason, and then refuse to pay for the help they need when they come back:

JOINT BASE LEWIS MCCHORD, Wash. - A soldier's widow says his fellow Army Rangers wouldn't do anything to help him before he took his own life - after eight deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan.

The Army found Staff Sgt. Jared Hagemann's body at a training area of Joint Base Lewis McChord a few weeks ago.

A spokesman for the base tells KOMO News that the nature of the death is still undetermined. But Staff Sgt. Hagemann's widow says her husband took his own life - and it didn't need to happen.

"It was just horrible. And he would just cry," says Ashley Hagemann.

Ashley says her husband Jared tried to come to grips with what he'd seen and done on his eight deployments in Iraq and Afghanistan.

"And there's no way that any God would forgive him - that he was going to hell," says Ashley. "He couldn't live with that any more."

More U.S. soldiers and veterans have died from suicide than from combat wounds over the past two years.

And as a special way of thanking those who served, Texas Republicans want to make it harder for young, homeless and traumatized veterans to vote.

Bud, Bruno and Baseball's Bigotry

By Dave Zirin

In the confederate confines of sports radio, casual bigotry is about as common as traffic updates. Far less common, even unprecedented, is for a manager or coach to look this in the eye and call out a member of the media's comments as “racist.” That’s exactly what San Francisco Giants manager Bruce Bochy did last week to nationally syndicated sports radio talker Tony Bruno, and he should be applauded for it. After Bochy’s pitcher Ramon Ramirez hit Shane Victorino of the Philadelphia Phillies last Friday, sparking a bench-clearing brawl, Bruno blew a gasket. He posted, “gutless #!@ percent*# Giants ) Bochy is a coward for having his illegal alien pitcher hit a guy.”

Ramirez of course is not an “illegal” anything. Like every one of the 30 percent of Major League players born outside the United States who aren’t citizens, he lives and works here under a P-1 visa, often referred to as an entertainment visa. But then, no human being is actually “illegal” at all. It’s just an ugly slur that’s been mainstreamed by those who target the undocumented. As Gustavo Andrade the organizing director of leading immigrant rights groupCasa de Maryland said to me,

“Mr. Bruno was clearly not making a factual statement about Mr. Ramirez’s immigration status; rather, he was making a derogatory comment about him based on his race. That racist slur has been actively promoted by the most vicious anti-immigrant groups in the country. It is meant to dehumanize an entire ethnic group within the United States and desensitize the public to the difficult struggles immigrants face every day. Five million children face the daily risk of becoming an orphan through the deportation of one—or both—of their parents. Mr. Bruno’s tweet was racist, ignorant and dangerous. It propagates the idea that all Latinos are somehow less than human.”

When Bochy heard about Bruno’s comments, he was incensed, saying, “Forget the remarks about me. That doesn’t bother me. For a guy to make a racist comment like that and have the ear of so many people, that bothers me. I can defend myself as a coward. I don’t know if you can defend yourself making a racist comment.”

After the initial uproar, Bruno set a land-speed record for issuing a classic “non-apology-apology” where he slammed “the sheep on facebook, twitter and blogs.” Later, Bruno wrote, “I did remove my post and apologize for my comments regarding illegal aliens. I was angry and on the air and I stand behind my comments that Bruce Bochy is a coward, as are all managers who order pitchers to throw at guys just because their pitchers can’t get a guy out. All of you people resorting to name calling are more classless and vile.” You could almost weep over the heartfelt remorse.

Assumedly one of those “more classless and vile” people is Alex Nogales, president of the National Hispanic Media Coalition who said of Bruno, “This guy is a pig. In this day and age, using this kind of language, which encourages intolerance and hate crimes, is inexcusable.”

Honestly, I disagree strongly with Nogales. I disagree because his comments are highly insulting to pigs, who are extremely intelligent animals. I bet Bruno couldn’t find a quality truffle if his life depended on it.

The question that really matters is whether he should be fired. I asked Dr. Carlos Munoz Jr., Ethnic Studies professor at UC Berkeley. Dr. Munoz said, “Tony Bruno was off the wall. Comments like his are harmful because they perpetuate the racist anti-immigrant hysteria that exists throughout the nation. It adds fuel to the fire that started burning in Arizona and that has expanded to Georgia and other states. He deserves to be fired!” In other words, racism, ignorance and abject stupidity, when you host a national radio show, are, in fact, firing offenses.

But the unfortunate words of one doesn’t change the fact that this whole sorry story comes back to the political climate around the game. Responsibility for that falls at the feet of baseball commissioner Bud Selig. Under Selig’s watch, teams have invested billions in the Dominican Republic and Venezuela to develop talent on the cheap. Yet he does nothing to actually recognize the humanity of the players who are the game’s brightest stars. Selig has had several opportunities to show that he recognizes that Latino players are more than a talent pool. But he rejected the movement to retire Roberto Clemente’s number 21 in every park. He refused to remain in the stadium and talk to reporters when Carlos Santana spoke out against anti-Latino bigotry at this year’s Civil Rights game. Most egregiously, and unforgivably, he wouldn’t move the 2011 All-Star Game out of Arizona despite the state’s evolution toward becoming a place where Latino players and fans are simply unsafe.

In Bud Selig’s baseball universe, Roberto Clemente goes unrecognized and people like Tony Bruno get national platforms to slander “illegal aliens”. In other words, we can get Tony Bruno off the air, but there is a bigger fight brewing for the very soul of the National Pastime. Will baseball be a force for inclusion or exclusion? Throughout its checkered history, this game has certainly been both. Bud right now stands with Tony Bruno on the wrong side of that history.

[Dave Zirin is the author of “Bad Sports: How Owners are Ruining the Games we Love”(Scribner) and just made the new documentary “Not Just a Game.” Receive his column every week by emailing dave@edgeofsports.com. Contact him atedgeofsports@gmail.com.]

Go Dave, tell it like it is... you are right on... Monte