Nov 18, 2011

Farmland Values Make Biggest Jump in Decades |

NOVEMBER 17, 2011
By: Sara Schafer, Business and Crops Online Editor

Nebraska Cropland Up a Staggering 38% to 41%!
Corn Belt Cropland Values Up 25%
Trends in Farmland Values

While your farmland may look about the same as it did last year, it’s now worth a whole lot more. Around 25% more if you live in the Corn Belt states.

This week, the Federal Reserve Banks of Chicago and Kansas City, district 7 and 10, released its third quarter farmland data. Both districts saw some of the strongest farmland value gains since the late 1970s.

The Chicago Fed bank, which serves the northern two-thirds of Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, the lower Peninsula of Michigan and southeastern Wisconsin, reports favorable credit conditions and interest rates for agricultural producers boosted values.

The Chicago Fed states that further strengthening of agricultural credit conditions during the fall and winter was anticipated by their survey respondents.

The Kansas City Fed bank, which serves Kansas, northwest Missouri, Nebraska, Oklahoma and the Mountain States of Colorado, Wyoming and northern New Mexico, also cited a positive financial environment. District farm incomes were higher than year-ago levels, despite the extensive drought seen in much of the area.

Other key value drivers, the Fed notes, were strong competition for the limited of farms for sale in the growing season and robust livestock demand.

Here’s an overview of the farmland value gains by state. (Percent change from previous year).

The Federal Reserve System

Distric 7 (red) and District 10 (purple) saw record farmland value increases this year.

Watch out for a busted bubble to occur... !!! Monte

Nov 17, 2011

Making Biochar With Scrap Wood - YouTube Mark shows in this first of two videos how to take scrap wood and make biochar that can be used as a soil supplement.

In this video, we show you the finishing steps to making biochar from scrap wood.

Nov 16, 2011

Criticism, Violence and Roosting Chickens | Truthout

Wednesday 16 November 2011
by: Richard D. Wolff, Truthout | Op-Ed

Protesters with the Occupy Wall Street movement in Zuccotti Park in New York, Nov. 15, 2011. (Photo: Marcus Yam / The New York Times)

The 99 percent offered criticism of the 1 percent. They exposed and made clear what most Americans know. They struggled peacefully to inform and mobilize public opinion. They won huge numbers of hearts and minds. The 1 percent in the US did what their counterparts in Tunisia, Egypt, Bahrain, and so on did earlier this year. First, they tried to deny the 99 percent the media access needed to reach the people. That failed. Then, they tried scattered police intimidation and pressure to stop the criticism. That failed. Then, Democratic Party operatives tried to convert the Occupiers to become Obama enthusiasts for next year's election. That failed, too.

So now, the weapon of criticism wielded by the 99 percent suffers the counter criticism of violence by servants of the 1 percent. No one will miss which side resorted to organized, massive violence so early and so unnecessarily in this conflict. As in Iraq, Afghanistan, and elsewhere, having failed to win hearts and minds, US government agencies cover their failure by resorting to violence. Chickens raised abroad return home to roost as they often do. Consider the image: New York Police Department machines and personnel destroy the free library that had functioned so well in Zuccotti Park.

New York has acquired newly renamed mayor: Mubarak Bloomberg. Situated atop the 1 percent, he gave the order to "clear and clean" Zuccotti Park. This mayor, who presides over some of the world's filthiest tunnels and stations - that daily threaten the public health of millions of subway riders - suddenly acquired an obsession with cleanliness in the small Zuccotti Park. This mayor - whose city handles garbage by piling it in bags on the street that forever break and scatter their contents across the streets - wants us to believe he is concerned about public safety.

Will the failures that renamed New York's mayor spread to yield a Mubarak Obama too? Or will the Arab Spring - so blithely praised by Secretary of State Clinton as "freedom struggles" - resurface here to confront the Clintons with their hypocritical complicity in repression policies at home?

The deepening economic inequality, the moneyed corruption of politics and the collapsing fortunes and prospects of the mass of Americans: none of those basic conditions and causes of Occupy Wall Street have been addressed by Bloomberg or Obama. Instead, they seek to repress those who expose and oppose those conditions.

Meanwhile, the system that keeps reproducing those conditions - a capitalism becoming increasingly intolerable - loses more bases of support. In times like these, the criticism of weapons risks losing to the weapon of criticism. Will the Arab Spring be reborn as the American Winter?

Justin Hall-Tipping: Freeing energy from the grid | Video on

What would happen if we could generate power from our windowpanes? In this moving talk, entrepreneur Justin Hall-Tipping shows the materials that could make that possible, and how questioning our notion of 'normal' can lead to extraordinary breakthroughs.

Amazing science... Inspiring talk... Monte

Nov 15, 2011

Should NCAA Athletes Be Paid? - YouTube

The NCAA is making billions of dollars off of college sports, should college athletes be paid?

Roland Martin talks with Taylor Branch, civil rights historian, about his new book The Cartel: Inside the Rise and Imminent Fall of the NCAA.

Big Money, Big Controversy Surround College Sports - YouTube

Historian Taylor Branch joins Hari Sreenivasan to discuss his "The Atlantic" cover story "The Shame of College Sports," which calls for a complete overhaul of the way college athletics works.

Penn State, my final loss of faith - Guest Voices - The Washington Post

By Thomas L. Day

I’m 31, an Iraq war veteran, a Penn State graduate, a Catholic, a native of State College, acquaintance of Jerry Sandusky’s, and a product of his Second Mile foundation.

And I have fully lost faith in the leadership of my parents’ generation.

Penn State football coach Joe Paterno arrives home Wednesday, Nov. 9, 2011, in State College, Pa. (Matt Rourke - AP)

(Read Day’s follow up to this post in his chat Monday with readers here. )

I was never harmed by Sandusky, but I could have been. When I was 15, my mother, then looking for a little direction for her teenage son, introduced me to the Second Mile’s Friend Fitness program. It was a program resembling Big Brother, Big Sister with a weekly exercise regimen.

Instead of Sandusky’s care, I was sent to a group of adults, many of whom were in their 20s. They took me from a C-student to the University of Chicago, where I’m a master’s student now. They took the football team’s waterboy and made a 101st Airborne Division soldier.

I was one of the lucky ones. My experience with Second Mile was a good one. I should feel fortunate, blessed even, that I was never harmed. Yet instead this week has left me deeply shaken, wondering what will come of the foundation, the university, and the community that made me into a man.

One thing I know for certain: A leader must emerge from Happy Valley to tie our community together again, and it won’t come from our parents’ generation.

They have failed us, over and over and over again.

I speak not specifically of our parents -- I have two loving ones -- but of the public leaders our parents’ generation has produced. With the demise of my own community’s two most revered leaders, Sandusky and Joe Paterno, I have decided to continue to respect my elders, but to politely tell them, “Out of my way.”

They have had their time to lead. Time’s up. I’m tired of waiting for them to live up to obligations.

Think of the world our parents’ generation inherited. They inherited a country of boundless economic prosperity and the highest admiration overseas, produced by the hands of their mothers and fathers. They were safe. For most, they were endowed opportunities to succeed, to prosper, and build on their parents’ work.

For those of us in our 20s and early 30s, this is not the world we are inheriting.

We looked to Washington to lead us after September 11th. I remember telling my college roommates, in a spate of emotion, that I was thinking of enlisting in the military in the days after the attacks. I expected legions of us -- at the orders of our leader -- to do the same. But nobody asked us. Instead we were told to go shopping.

The times following September 11th called for leadership, not reckless, gluttonous tax cuts. But our leaders then, as now, seemed more concerned with flattery. Then -House Majority Leader and now-convicted felon Tom Delay told us, “nothing is more important in the face of a war than cutting taxes.” Not exactly Churchillian stuff.

Those of us who did enlist were ordered into Iraq on the promise of being “greeted as liberators,” in the words of our then-vice president. Several thousand of us are dead from that false promise.

We looked for leadership from our churches, and were told to fight not poverty or injustice, but gay marriage. In the Catholic Church, we were told to blame the media, not the abusive priests, not the bishops, not the Vatican, for making us feel that our church has failed us in its sex abuse scandal and cover-up.

Our parents’ generation has balked at the tough decisions required to preserve our country’s sacred entitlements, leaving us to clean up the mess. They let the infrastructure built with their fathers’ hands crumble like a stale cookie. They downgraded our nation’s credit rating. They seem content to hand us a debt exceeding the size of our entire economy, rather than brave a fight against the fortunate and entrenched interests on K Street and Wall Street.

Now we are asking for jobs and are being told we aren’t good enough, to the tune of 3.3 million unemployed workers between the ages of 25 and 34.

This failure of a generation is as true in the halls of Congress as it is at Penn State.

Perhaps the most vivid illustration this week of our leaderless culture came with the riots in State College that followed Paterno’s dismissal. The display resembled Lord of the Flies. Without revered figures from the older generation to lead them, thousands of students at one of the country’s best state universities acted like children home alone.

This week the world found the very worst of human nature in my idyllic Central Pennsylvania home. I found that a man my community had anointed a teacher and nurturer of children, instead reportedly had them hiding in his basement. The anger and humiliation were more than I could bear. I can’t wait for my parents’ generation’s Joshua any longer. They’ve lost my faith.

Thomas Day is a graduate student at the Harris School of Public Policy at the University of Chicago.

Nov 14, 2011

Up with Chris Hayes drops systemic analysis on Penn State

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Dave Zirin: Were Paterno and Penn State “Too Big to Fail?” | Dylan Ratigan

When it came to the money behind Penn State and Joe Paterno, were they “Too Big to Fail?” This term today is synonymous with powerful financial institutions, but has money started to control our institutions of higher education as well? Dave Zirin, sports editor for The Nation, discussed it today with Dylan.

The NCAA, always eager to demonstrate their toughness when dealing with recruitment violations and even the hint of money in athletics, has been noticeably absent from the fallout in the Penn State scandal. If it is their responsibility to uphold the integrity of college athletics, where have they been?

“The NCAA is nowhere on the ethics of anything,” says Zirin. “It is not an ethical organization. It’s all built on the basis of revenue-producing sports, particularly basketball and football.”

Which suddenly lends a little clarity to the NCAA’s radio silence on the Joe Paterno scandal. While NCAA president Mark Emmert collects a salary of $2 million a year – along with 14 vice presidents of the organization sitting around $400,000 a year – student-athletes responsible for those salaries and the other revenue can face harsh punishments for selling their game jerseys.

So was it all about the money that Joe Paterno brought in to Penn State through his fame and image?

“Too many people had a vested interest in his legend. And that meant cover-up. That meant, at all costs, the fiction of Joe Paterno’s Penn State had to survive and allegations of horrible, horrible child abuse had to be hidden,” continues Zirin.

And hence we discover that the moral basement for these schools that generate a high percentage of revenue from sports – 60% at Penn State – does not really exist. In order to protect their institution they will go to any length and sacrifice anyone that stands in their way.

Isn’t it time “Too Big to Fail” stops failing the people at every turn? Watch the segment from today, and let us know what you think:
Did the fact that so much money is involved with Penn State football make “Too Big To Fail?”

Fan Culture, Rape Culture, and the World Joe Paterno Made

Joe Paterno Statue at Penn State flickr image By happy via

Meet John Matko. John Matko is a 34-year-old Penn State class of 2000 alumnus, distraught by the recent revelations that legendary Coach Joe Paterno and those in charge allegedly shielded a serial child rapist, assistant Jerry Sandusky. He was livid that students chose to riot on campus this week, more upset about Paterno's dismissal than anything else. He was disgusted that the Board of Trustees decided to go ahead as planned with Saturday's Nebraska game just days after the revelations became public. John Matko felt angry and was compelled to act. He stood outside Saturday's Penn State-Nebraska game in Happy Valley and held up two signs. One read, "Put abused kids first." The other said, "Don't be fooled, they all knew. Tom Bradley, everyone must go." [Tom Bradley is the interim head coach.]

The response to Matko gives lie to the media portrayal of last Saturday's game. We were told the atmosphere was "somber", "sad" and "heart-rending", as "the focus returned to the children." The crowd was swathed in blue, because, we were told, that is the color to awareness of child abuse (also the Penn State colors) The team linked arms emerging from the tunnel. They dropped to a knee with their Nebraska opponents at midfield before the game. Once again, broadcasters told us, "the players were paying tribute to the victims of child abuse." We were told all of this, and I wish to God it was true.

I don't doubt the emotions in Happy Valley are genuine. I don't doubt the searing shock and pain that must be coursing through campus. But this is the pain of self-pity not reflection. It's the pain of the exposed not the penitent. Let's go back to John Matko. Matko stood with his signs behind a pair of sunglasses. He wasn't soapboxing, or preaching: just bearing silent witness. It was an admirable act but no one bought him a beer. Instead, beer was poured on his head. His midsection was slapped with an open hand. Expletives were rained upon him. His signs were also kicked to the ground and stomped.

As the Washington Times wrote, "Abuse flew at Matko from young and old, students and alumni, men and women. No one intervened. No one spoke out against the abuse."
One disapproving student said, "Not now, man. This is about the football players."

And with those nine words, we see the truth about Saturday's enterprise. It was about the football program, not the children. It was morbid theater where people were mourning the death of a jock culture that somewhere along the line, mutated into malignancy. It's a malignancy that deprioritized rape victims in the name of big-time football.

The signs of this malignancy did not emerge overnight. Looking backward, there are moments that speak of the scandals to come. In 2003, less than one year after Paterno was told that Sandusky was raping children, he allowed a player accused of rape to suit up and play in a bowl game. Widespread criticism of this move was ignored. In 2006, Penn State's Orange Bowl opponent Florida State, sent home linebacker A.J. Nicholson, after accusations of sexual assault. Paterno's response, in light of recent events, is jaw-dropping. He said, "There's so many people gravitating to these kids. He may not have even known what he was getting into, Nicholson. They knock on the door; somebody may knock on the door; a cute girl knocks on the door. What do you do? Geez. I hope -- thank God they don't knock on my door because I'd refer them to a couple of other rooms."

Joanne Tosti-Vasey, president of Pennsylvania's National Organization for Women in Pennsylvania, was not amused. With chilling unintentional prescience, Tosti-Vasey responded, "Allegations of sexual assault should never be taken lightly Making light of sexual assault sends the message that rape is something to be expected and accepted." They called for Paterno's resignation and short of that, asked to dialogue with Paterno and the team. Neither Paterno nor anyone in the power at Penn State accepted the invitation.

This is the world Joe Pa made. It's a world where libraries, buildings, and statues bear his name It's a world where the school endowment now stands at over $1 billion dollars. It's a company town where moral posturing acted as a substitute for actual morality. In such an atmosphere, seeing the players and fans gather to bow their heads and mourn Saturday wasn't "touching" or "somber" or anything of the sort. It was just sad. It was sad because they still don't get it.

One PSU student, named Emily wrote the following to's Peter King, "Truth is, if not for Paterno's philanthropy and moral code (until his fatal lapse of judgment), I and thousands of others wouldn't be here right now. If not for Paterno ".Pennsylvania State might still be an agriculture school and State College might be lucky if there were a Wal-Mart within a 30-mile radius. Paterno made a huge mistake, but that doesn't mean he's not a good man."

Bullshit. Emily's words ring as false as the apologists for the Vatican, Wall Street, the military command at Abu Ghraib and any industry deemed "too big to fail." The same moral code that Emily praises just can't be the same moral code that covers up child rape. To do so is to make the very notion of morality meaningless. Emily's gratitiude that her school isn't "30 miles from the nearest Wal-Mart" can't justify defending Paterno. To do so, makes you complicit in the crimes and the cover-up. It also ensures that such a thing could happen again.

On Saturday, while Matko endured physical and verbal rage of the PSU faithful, hundreds gathered around the Paterno statue outside the stadium, laying down flowers and gifts. The pain might run deeply in Happy Valley but the cancer runs deeper. To really move forward, the malignancy must be removed. Fire everyone. Shut down Happy Valley football for a year. Do whatever you have to do to make sure that the world Joe Paterno made has seen its last day.