Aug 6, 2011

30 Years Ago Today: The Day the Middle Class Died |

August 5th, 2011 3:00 PM

By Michael Moore

From time to time, someone under 30 will ask me, "When did this all begin, America's downward slide?" They say they've heard of a time when working people could raise a family and send the kids to college on just one parent's income (and that college in states like California and New York was almost free). That anyone who wanted a decent paying job could get one. That people only worked five days a week, eight hours a day, got the whole weekend off and had a paid vacation every summer. That many jobs were union jobs, from baggers at the grocery store to the guy painting your house, and this meant that no matter how "lowly" your job was you had guarantees of a pension, occasional raises, health insurance and someone to stick up for you if you were unfairly treated.

Young people have heard of this mythical time -- but it was no myth, it was real. And when they ask, "When did this all end?", I say, "It ended on this day: August 5th, 1981."

Beginning on this date, 30 years ago, Big Business and the Right Wing decided to "go for it" -- to see if they could actually destroy the middle class so that they could become richer themselves.

And they've succeeded.

On August 5, 1981, President Ronald Reagan fired every member of the air traffic controllers union (PATCO) who'd defied his order to return to work and declared their union illegal. They had been on strike for just two days.

It was a bold and brash move. No one had ever tried it. What made it even bolder was that PATCO was one of only three unions that had endorsed Reagan for president! It sent a shock wave through workers across the country. If he would do this to the people who were with him, what would he do to us?

Reagan had been backed by Wall Street in his run for the White House and they, along with right-wing Christians, wanted to restructure America and turn back the tide that President Franklin D. Roosevelt started -- a tide that was intended to make life better for the average working person. The rich hated paying better wages and providing benefits. They hated paying taxes even more. And they despised unions. The right-wing Christians hated anything that sounded like socialism or holding out a helping hand to minorities or women.

Reagan promised to end all that. So when the air traffic controllers went on strike, he seized the moment. In getting rid of every single last one of them and outlawing their union, he sent a clear and strong message: The days of everyone having a comfortable middle class life were over. America, from now on, would be run this way:

* The super-rich will make more, much much more, and the rest of you will scramble for the crumbs that are left.

* Everyone must work! Mom, Dad, the teenagers in the house! Dad, you work a second job! Kids, here's your latch-key! Your parents might be home in time to put you to bed.

* 50 million of you must go without health insurance! And health insurance companies: you go ahead and decide who you want to help -- or not.

* Unions are evil! You will not belong to a union! You do not need an advocate! Shut up and get back to work! No, you can't leave now, we're not done. Your kids can make their own dinner.

* You want to go to college? No problem -- just sign here and be in hock to a bank for the next 20 years!

* What's "a raise"? Get back to work and shut up!

And so it went. But Reagan could not have pulled this off by himself in 1981. He had some big help:


The biggest organization of unions in America told its members to cross the picket lines of the air traffic controllers and go to work. And that's just what these union members did. Union pilots, flight attendants, delivery truck drivers, baggage handlers -- they all crossed the line and helped to break the strike. And union members of all stripes crossed the picket lines and continued to fly.

Reagan and Wall Street could not believe their eyes! Hundreds of thousands of working people and union members endorsing the firing of fellow union members. It was Christmas in August for Corporate America.

And that was the beginning of the end. Reagan and the Republicans knew they could get away with anything -- and they did. They slashed taxes on the rich. They made it harder for you to start a union at your workplace. They eliminated safety regulations on the job. They ignored the monopoly laws and allowed thousands of companies to merge or be bought out and closed down. Corporations froze wages and threatened to move overseas if the workers didn't accept lower pay and less benefits. And when the workers agreed to work for less, they moved the jobs overseas anyway.

And at every step along the way, the majority of Americans went along with this. There was little opposition or fight-back. The "masses" did not rise up and protect their jobs, their homes, their schools (which used to be the best in the world). They just accepted their fate and took the beating.

I have often wondered what would have happened had we all just stopped flying, period, back in 1981. What if all the unions had said to Reagan, "Give those controllers their jobs back or we're shutting the country down!"? You know what would have happened. The corporate elite and their boy Reagan would have buckled.

But we didn't do it. And so, bit by bit, piece by piece, in the ensuing 30 years, those in power have destroyed the middle class of our country and, in turn, have wrecked the future for our young people. Wages have remained stagnant for 30 years. Take a look at the statistics and you can see that every decline we're now suffering with had its beginning in 1981 (here's a little scene to illustrate that from my last movie).

It all began on this day, 30 years ago. One of the darkest days in American history. And we let it happen to us. Yes, they had the money, and the media and the cops. But we had 200 million of us. Ever wonder what it would look like if 200 million got truly upset and wanted their country, their life, their job, their weekend, their time with their kids back?

Have we all just given up? What are we waiting for? Forget about the 20% who support the Tea Party -- we are the other 80%! This decline will only end when we demand it. And not through an online petition or a tweet. We are going to have to turn the TV and the computer and the video games off and get out in the streets (like they've done in Wisconsin). Some of you need to run for local office next year. We need to demand that the Democrats either get a spine and stop taking corporate money -- or step aside.

When is enough, enough? The middle class dream will not just magically reappear. Wall Street's plan is clear: America is to be a nation of Haves and Have Nothings. Is that OK for you?

Why not use today to pause and think about the little steps you can take to turn this around in your neighborhood, at your workplace, in your school? Is there any better day to start than today?

P.S. Here are a few places you can connect with to get the ball rolling:

Showdown in America Democracy Convention 
How to Join a Union by the AFL-CIO (they've learned their lesson and have a good president now) or 
MoveOn High School Newspaper

Who Is Washington's Most Effective Politician? - The Dish | By Andrew Sullivan - The Daily Beast

Dave Roberts says Mitch McConnell, but Kevin Drum thinks the Senate minority leader "just had the easiest job:"

McConnell's sole goal for the past two years has been obstruction, something that Senate rules make easy. And the debt ceiling deal was a dog's breakfast of ideas from various sources. McConnell took credit for its final form, but he could do that mainly because, unlike John Boehner, he didn't have to put up with a big tea party contingent and was able to compromise without fear of losing his job.

Benen expands on Drum's conclusion that Obama is the right choice by listing his many (unheralded) accomplishments. Serwer dissents. I think Obama is easily the winner and currently stupidly under-rated - and drowned out by all the noise in the conservative-media-industrial-complex.

Here are the political accomplishments: defeating the most heavily favored party machine in decades (the Clintons) while actually bringing his biggest rival into his cabinet, where she has performed extraordinarily well; helping to cement the GOP's broad identity as extremists opposed to compromise; entrenching black and Hispanic loyalty to his party; retaining solid favorables and not-too-shabby approval ratings during the worst recession since the 1930s. 44 percent of the country still (rightly) blame Bush for this mess, only 15 percent blame Obama.

On policy: ending the US torture regime; prevention of a second Great Depression; enacting universal healthcare; taking the first serious steps toward reining in healthcare costs; two new female Supreme Court Justices; ending the gay ban in the military; ending the Iraq war; justifying his Afghan Surge by killing bin Laden and now disentangling with face saved; firming up alliances with India, Indonesia and Japan as counter-weights to China; bailing out the banks and auto companies without massive losses (and surging GM profits); advancing (slowly) balanced debt reduction without drastic cuts during the recession; and financial re-regulation.

Yes, there have been failures. The election of Scott Brown; the 2010 mid-terms; the surrender to Netanyahu and AIPAC; the botched and ill-conceived war in Libya; the failure to embrace Bowles Simpson up-front; the collapse of cap and trade (maybe not such a bad thing anyway). But notice what hasn't happened. Where are all the scandals promised by Michelle Malkin? Where are his Katrinas and Monicas?

When I read commentaries expounding on the notion that this man is competely out of his depth, I just have to scratch my head. Given his inheritance, this has been the most substantive first term since Ronald Reagan's. And given Obama's long-game mentality, that is setting us up for a hell of a second one.

Aug 5, 2011

‪Toby Hemenway - How Permaculture Can Save Humanity and the Earth, but Not Civilization

Hemenway is a frequent teacher, consultant and lecturer on permaculture and ecological design throughout the U.S. and other countries.

His writing has appeared in magazines such as Natural Home, Whole Earth Review and American Gardener.

He is an adjunct professor in the School of Graduate Education at Portland State University, a Scholar-in-Residence at Pacific University, and a biologist consultant for the Biomimicry Guild.

Renowned expert...!!!  Monte

‪300 Years of FOSSIL FUELS in 300 Seconds


Fossil fuels have powered human growth and ingenuity for centuries. 

Now that we're reaching the end of cheap and abundant oil and coal supplies, we're in for an exciting ride. While there's a real risk that we'll fall off a cliff, there's still time to control our transition to a post-carbon future.

JOIN the conversation on Facebook at 

A deeper analysis of the crises we face, and possible solutions we can work on right now can be had HERE:


‪ABC Nightline: The Atheist and Her Brain - Margaret Downey‬‏

August 3, 2011 on ABC Nightline

Aug 4, 2011

25 Quotables from the 99% Conference :: Articles :: The 99 Percent

by Jocelyn K. Glei

Laura Guido-Clark at the 99% Conference. Photo: Julian Mackler /

Believe it or not, we're headed into year four of the 99% Conference, our annual event focused on sharing road-tested insights for making ideas happen. To celebrate the launch of ticket sales for 2012, we compiled a shortlist of quotables from the past three years' worth of 99% Conferences.
  1. "We're not meant to operate like computers. Human beings are designed to pulse between spending/renewing energy."
  2. —Tony Schwartz
  3. "Groundbreaking innovators generate and execute far more ideas."
  4. —Frans Johansson
  5. "You can't get to wonderful without passing through alright." —Andrew Zuckerman (via Bill Withers) #99conf
  6. "'Luck' is recognizing when the situation encourages build out and execution." —Jack Dorsey #99conf
  7. "What you do for a living is not be creative, what you do for a living is ship." —Seth Godin #99conf
  8. "When you give something, just for the joy of creating, it always comes back on a much larger scale." —Ji Lee #99conf
  9. "If you find something that you feel you belong to, become a groupie and a fan, and then a critic." —Starlee Kine #99conf
  10. "The three most harmful addictions are heroin, carbohydrates, and a monthly salary." —Fred Wilson (via Nassim N Taleb) #99conf
  11. "All artists yearn to struggle, when they struggle they know they're alive."—John Maeda #99conf
  12. "Reduce everything you want to do, to an action you can do right now."—Jason Randal #99conf
  13. "If you're not creating waves, then you're not pushing enough." —Jared Cohen #99conf
  14. "Prototype as if you are right. Listen as if you are wrong." —Diego Rodriguez #99conf
  15. "Your work is your own private megaphone to tell the world what you believe." —Simon Sinek #99conf
  16. "Instead of reflecting on the past, predict the future." —Chris Guillebeau #99conf
  17. "Align your inner vision with your outer work." —Martin Ping #99conf
  18. "The more passionate that someone is about something, the more you have to listen to them." —Beth Comstock #99conf
  19. "When fear and doubt come into play, lead with possibility." —Laura Guido-Clark #99conf
  20. "Figure out what's realistic, and then just do it." —Jake Nickell #99conf
  21. "Experts step outside their comfort zone and study themselves failing."—Josh Foer #99conf
  22. "Crazy is a compliment." —Linda Rottenberg #99conf
  23. "The problem contains the solution." —Michael Bierut #99conf
  24. "A good partnership is more than the sum of its parts." —Sigi Moeslinger #99conf
  25. "Controversy gets your work out there." —Jill Greenberg #99conf
  26. "Think big, and act small." —Leslie Koch #99conf
  27. "Our mantra: brutal prioritization, maniacal focus." —Jeffrey Kalmikoff #99conf
Love the 25 quotes... Monte

The Secret War in 120 Countries

Published on The Nation (
The Secret War in 120 Countries

Nick Turse | August 4, 2011

This article originally appeared at [1]. To stay on top of important articles like these, sign up to receive the latest updates from [2].   Somewhere on this planet an American commando is carrying out a mission. Now, say that seventy times and you’re done… for the day. Without the knowledge of the American public, a secret force within the US military is undertaking operations in a majority of the world’s countries. This new Pentagon power elite is waging a global war whose size and scope has never been revealed, until now.

After a US Navy SEAL put a bullet in Osama bin Laden’s chest and another in his head [3], one of the most secretive black-ops units in the American military suddenly found its mission in the public spotlight. It was atypical. While it’s well known that US Special Operations forces are deployed in the war zones of Afghanistan and Iraq [4], and it’s increasingly apparent that such units operate in murkier conflict zones like Yemen [3] and Somalia [5], the full extent of their worldwide war has remained deeply in the shadows.

Last year, Karen DeYoung and Greg Jaffe of the Washington Post reported [6] that US Special Operations forces were deployed in seventy-five countries, up from sixty at the end of the Bush presidency. By the end of this year, US Special Operations Command spokesman Colonel Tim Nye told me, that number will likely reach 120. “We do a lot of traveling—a lot more than Afghanistan or Iraq,” he said recently. This global presence—in about 60 percent of the world’s nations [7] and far larger than previously acknowledged—provides striking new evidence of a rising clandestine Pentagon power elite waging a secret war in all corners of the world.

The Rise of the Military’s Secret Military

Born of a failed 1980 raid to rescue American hostages in Iran, in which eight US service members died, US Special Operations Command (SOCOM) was established in 1987. Having spent the post-Vietnam years distrusted and starved for money by the regular military, special operations forces suddenly had a single home, a stable budget and a four-star commander as their advocate. Since then, SOCOM has grown into a combined force of startling proportions. Made up of units from all the service branches, including the Army’s “Green Berets” and Rangers, Navy SEALs, Air Force Air Commandos and Marine Corps Special Operations teams, in addition to specialized helicopter crews, boat teams, civil affairs personnel, para-rescuemen and even battlefield air-traffic controllers and special operations weathermen, SOCOM carries out the United States’ most specialized and secret missions. These include assassinations, counterterrorist raids, long-range reconnaissance, intelligence analysis, foreign troop training and weapons of mass destruction counter-proliferation operations.

One of its key components is the Joint Special Operations Command, or JSOC, a clandestine sub-command whose primary mission is tracking and killing [8] suspected terrorists. Reporting to the president and acting under his authority, JSOC maintains a global hit list that includes American citizens [8]. It has been operating an extra-legal “kill/capture” campaign that John Nagl, a past counterinsurgency adviser to four-star general and soon-to-be CIA Director David Petraeus, calls [9] “an almost industrial-scale counterterrorism killing machine.”

This assassination program has been carried out by commando units like the Navy SEALs and the Army’s Delta Force as well as via drone strikes as part of covert wars in which the CIA is also involved in countries like Somalia [10], Pakistan and Yemen [11]. In addition, the command operates a network of secret prisons [12], perhaps as many as twenty black sites in Afghanistan alone, used for interrogating high-value targets [13].

Growth Industry

From a force of about 37,000 in the early 1990s, Special Operations Command personnel have grown to almost 60,000, about a third of whom are career members of SOCOM; the rest have other military occupational specialties, but periodically cycle through the command. Growth has been exponential since September 11, 2001, as SOCOM’s baseline budget almost tripled from $2.3 billion to $6.3 billion. If you add in funding for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, it has actually more than quadrupled [14] to $9.8 billion in these years. Not surprisingly, the number of its personnel deployed abroad has also jumped [15] four-fold. Further increases, and expanded operations, are on the horizon.

Lieutenant General Dennis Hejlik, the former head of the Marine Corps Forces Special Operations Command—the last of the service branches to be incorporated into SOCOM in 2006—indicated [16], for instance, that he foresees a doubling of his former unit of 2,600. “I see them as a force someday of about 5,000, like equivalent to the number of SEALs that we have on the battlefield. Between [5,000] and 6,000,” he said [16] at a June breakfast with defense reporters in Washington. Long-term plans already call for the force to increase by 1,000.

During his recent Senate confirmation hearings, Navy Vice Admiral William McRaven [17], the incoming SOCOM chief and outgoing head of JSOC (which he commanded during the bin Laden raid) endorsed a steady manpower growth rate of 3 percent to 5 percent a year, while also making a pitch for even more resources, including additional drones and the construction of new special operations facilities.

A former SEAL who still sometimes accompanies troops into the field, McRaven expressed a belief that, as conventional forces are drawn down in Afghanistan, special ops troops will take on an ever greater role. Iraq, he added, would benefit if elite US forces continued to conduct missions there past the December 2011 deadline for a total American troop withdrawal. He also assured the Senate Armed Services Committee that “as a former JSOC commander, I can tell you we were looking very hard at Yemen and at Somalia.”

During a speech at the National Defense Industrial Association’s annual Special Operations and Low-intensity Conflict Symposium earlier this year, Navy Admiral Eric Olson, the outgoing chief of Special Operations Command, pointed to a composite satellite image of the world at night. Before September 11, 2001, the lit portions of the planet—mostly the industrialized nations of the global north—were considered the key areas. “But the world changed over the last decade,” he said [18]. “Our strategic focus has shifted largely to the south…certainly within the special operations community, as we deal with the emerging threats from the places where the lights aren’t.”

To that end, Olson launched “Project Lawrence [19],” an effort to increase cultural proficiencies—like advanced language training and better knowledge of local history and customs—for overseas operations. The program is, of course, named after the British officer, Thomas Edward Lawrence (better known as “Lawrence of Arabia”), who teamed up with Arab fighters to wage a guerrilla war in the Middle East during World War I. Mentioning Afghanistan, Pakistan, Mali and Indonesia, Olson added that SOCOM now needed “Lawrences of Wherever.”

While Olson made reference to only fifty-one countries of top concern to SOCOM, Col. Nye told me that on any given day, Special Operations forces are deployed in approximately seventy nations around the world. All of them, he hastened to add, at the request of the host government. According to testimony by Olson before the House Armed Services Committee earlier this year, approximately 85 percent of special operations troops deployed overseas are in twenty countries in the CENTCOM area of operations in the Greater Middle East: Afghanistan, Bahrain, Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Lebanon, Oman, Pakistan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, United Arab Emirates, Uzbekistan and Yemen. The others are scattered across the globe from South America to Southeast Asia, some in small numbers, others as larger contingents.

Special Operations Command won’t disclose exactly which countries its forces operate in. “We’re obviously going to have some places where it’s not advantageous for us to list where we’re at,” says Nye. “Not all host nations want it known, for whatever reasons they have—it may be internal, it may be regional.”

But it’s no secret (or at least a poorly kept one) that so-called black special operations troops, like the SEALs and Delta Force, are conducting kill/capture missions in Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan and Yemen, while “white” forces like the Green Berets and Rangers are training indigenous partners as part of a worldwide secret war against Al Qaeda and other militant groups. In the Philippines, for instance, the United States spends $50 million a year [20] on a 600-person contingent of Army Special Operations forces, Navy Seals, Air Force special operators and others that carries out counterterrorist operations with Filipino allies against insurgent groups like Jemaah Islamiyah and Abu Sayyaf.

Last year, as an analysis of SOCOM documents, open-source Pentagon information and a database of Special Operations missions [21] compiled by investigative journalist Tara McKelvey (for the Medill School of Journalism’s National Security Journalism Initiative) reveals, America’s most elite troops carried out joint-training exercises in Belize, Brazil, Bulgaria, Burkina Faso, Germany, Indonesia, Mali, Norway, Panama and Poland. So far in 2011, similar training missions have been conducted in the Dominican Republic, Jordan, Romania, Senegal, South Korea and Thailand, among other nations. In reality, Nye told me, training actually went on in almost every nation where Special Operations forces are deployed. “Of the 120 countries we visit by the end of the year, I would say the vast majority are training exercises in one fashion or another. They would be classified as training exercises.”

The Pentagon’s Power Elite

Once the neglected stepchildren of the military establishment, Special Operations forces have been growing exponentially not just in size and budget but also in power and influence. Since 2002, SOCOM has been authorized to create its own Joint Task Forces—like Joint Special Operations Task Force-Philippines—a prerogative normally limited to larger combatant commands like CENTCOM. This year, without much fanfare, SOCOM also established its own Joint Acquisition Task Force, a cadre of equipment designers and acquisition specialists.

With control over budgeting, training, and equipping its force, powers usually reserved for departments (like the Department of the Army or the Department of the Navy), dedicated dollars in every Defense Department budget and influential advocates in Congress [22], SOCOM is by now an exceptionally powerful player at the Pentagon. With real clout, it can win bureaucratic battles, purchase cutting-edge technology and pursue fringe research like electronically beaming messages [14] into people’s heads or developing stealth-like cloaking technologies [23] for ground troops. Since 2001, SOCOM’s prime contracts awarded to small businesses—those that generally produce specialty equipment and weapons—have jumped six-fold.

Headquartered at MacDill Air Force Base in Florida, but operating out of theater commands spread out around the globe, including Hawaii, Germany and South Korea, and active in the majority of countries on the planet, Special Operations Command is now a force unto itself. As outgoing SOCOM chief Olson put it [24] earlier this year, SOCOM “is a microcosm of the Department of Defense, with ground, air, and maritime components, a global presence, and authorities and responsibilities that mirror the Military Departments, Military Services, and Defense Agencies.”

Tasked to coordinate all Pentagon planning against global terrorism networks and, as a result, closely connected to other government agencies, foreign militaries, and intelligence services, and armed with a vast inventory of stealthy helicopters, manned fixed-wing aircraft, heavily armed drones, high-tech guns-a-go-go speedboats, specialized Humvees and Mine Resistant Ambush Protected vehicles, as well as other state-of-the-art gear (with more on the way [25]), SOCOM represents something new in the military. Whereas the late scholar of militarism Chalmers Johnson used to refer to the CIA as “the president’s private army [26],” today JSOC performs that role, acting as the chief executive’s private assassination squad, and its parent, SOCOM, functions as a new Pentagon power-elite, a secret military within the military possessing domestic power and global reach.

In 120 countries across the globe, troops from Special Operations Command carry out their secret war of high-profile assassinations [27], low-level targeted killings [5], capture/kidnap operations [28], kick-down-the-door night raids [29], joint operations with foreign forces [30], and training missions with indigenous partners as part of a shadowy conflict unknown to most Americans. Once “special” for being small, lean, outsider outfits, today they are special for their power, access, influence, and aura.

That aura now benefits from a well-honed public relations campaign which helps them project a superhuman image [31] at home and abroad, even while many of their actual activities remain in the ever-widening shadows. Typical of the vision they are pushing was this statement from Admiral Olson: “I am convinced that the forces…are the most culturally attuned partners, the most lethal hunter-killers, and most responsive, agile, innovative, and efficiently effective advisors, trainers, problem-solvers, and warriors that any nation has to offer.”

Recently at the Aspen Institute’s Security Forum [32], Olson offered up similarly gilded comments and some misleading information, too, claiming [33] that US Special Operations forces were operating in just sixty-five countries and engaged in combat in only two of them. When asked about drone strikes in Pakistan, he reportedly replied, “Are you talking about unattributed explosions?”

What he did let slip, however, was telling. He noted, for instance, that black operations like the bin Laden mission, with commandos conducting heliborne night raids, were now exceptionally common. A dozen or so are conducted every night, he said. Perhaps most illuminating, however, was an offhand remark about the size of SOCOM. Right now, he emphasized, US Special Operations forces were approximately as large as Canada’s entire active duty military. In fact, the force is larger than the active duty militaries of many of the nations where America’s elite troops now operate each year, and it’s only set to grow larger.

Americans have yet to grapple with what it means to have a “special” force this large, this active, and this secret—and they are unlikely to begin to do so until more information is available. It just won’t be coming from Olson or his troops. “Our access [to foreign countries] depends on our ability to not talk about it,” he said in response to questions about SOCOM’s secrecy. When missions are subject to scrutiny like the bin Laden raid, he said, the elite troops object. The military’s secret military, said Olson, wants “to get back into the shadows and do what they came in to do.”

Source URL:

Links: [1] percent3A_nick_turse percent2C_uncovering_the_military percent27s_secret_military [2] [3] [4] [5] percent27s_secret_sites_in_somalia/?page=entire [6] [7] [8] [9] [10] [11] [12] [13] [14] [15] [16] [17] [18] [19] [20] percent2C0 [21] [22] [23] [24] percent20March/Olson percent2003-01-11.pdf [25] [26] percent20chalmers_johnson_agency_of_rogue [27] [28] [29] [30] [31] [32] [33]

Seems we always have money for war... Monte

Response to Wall Street Journal op-ed on clean fuels in the military | Grist


Photo: U.S. Army On Tuesday, The Wall Street Journal ran an op-ed by retired rear admiral Robert James critical of the military's efforts to switch to clean fuels. He cited Amory Lovins several times; Lovins responds below. -- ed.

I've worked on Naval and other defense energy issues for over three decades (not one) and served on both Defense Science Board task forces on DOD energy strategy, reporting in 2001 and 2008. Navy Secretary Mabus' energy leadership and similar efforts across all Services and in the Office of the Secretary of Defense reflect the recommendations of those task forces and of similar studies by prominent retired military leaders (e.g. "Powering America's Defense: Energy and the Risks to National Security") and the Secretary of Defense's JASON science advisory group.

The Naval War College has posted Mabus' remarks at his June 7-8, 2011 Current Strategy Conference, and addresses the previous day by Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Gary Roughead, Marine Lt. Gen. G.J. Flynn, and myself. These four talks will help James to understand that the military energy revolution has nothing to do with fads or the "latest fashion" or political correctness, did not result from executive branch nudging, but emerged internally and straightforwardly, chiefly in President G.W. Bush's administration, from field commanders' requirements for combat effectiveness and force protection.

I agree with James that alternative, ideally autonomous, fuels (and impliedly their efficient use) are highly desirable for expeditionary use. This is a force protector as he rightly states: Oil logistics is one of the Marine Corps commandant's biggest casualty concerns, and over a thousand U.S. servicemembers have died in convoy attacks in the past decade, mainly hauling fuel that is mainly wasted. Convoys no longer needed can't be attacked. But saving or displacing oil in the battlespace is also a force multiplier, a force enabler, and a source of transformational realignments from tail to tooth that can ultimately reach multi-divisional scale and save many tens of billions of dollars a year. For all these reasons, from Lt. Gen. James Mattis' 2003 appeal to "unleash us from the tether of fuel" to Maj. Gen. Richard Zilmer's 2006 operational request from Anbar Province for a "self-sustainable energy solution," field commanders have eagerly pursued ways to displace oil, both through efficient use and through substitute supplies. They're starting to succeed: DOD is now probably the world's largest single buyer both of oil and of renewable energy. My 2010 article [PDF] in Joint Force Quarterly (the magazine of the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff) summarizes these issues and opportunities in their strategic context.

James ridicules the Marines' potential use of a truck-mounted opportunistic converter of local biomass, such as illegal poppies that would otherwise be destroyed, into tactical fuel. His objection is that the feedstock could otherwise feed people. People don't eat poppies any more than they eat prairie grass, forest wastes, rice straw, or fielded forces' own trash. Nor do these feedstocks raise land-use issues. Indeed, U.S. forces are striving to switch Afghan farmers from growing poppies to growing food and other crops.

Even stranger are James' suggestions of using "a fold-up solar panel" to "heat a tent," or using a "giant windmill ... three stories high" to run a forward operating base and "be picked up by enemy radar" (I hadn't realized the Taliban were hiding radar sets in their beards). Were he familiar with the fifth-generation expeditionary energy systems pioneered by the Marines' XFOB (Experimental Forward Operating Base) at Twentynine Palms, he'd realize their hardware choices are tactically appropriate, highly advantageous, far less conspicuous and vulnerable than fuel convoys, and being enthusiastically adopted in theater.

He then conflates expeditionary renewable sources of electricity (displacing petroleum-fueled, convoy- or airlift-supplied, high-signature gensets) with his misplaced concerns about large-scale U.S. first-generation biofuel production. They're unrelated. Military biofuel interest emphasizes long-term mobility; fueled gensets are now being displaced more by efficient use and photovoltaics, plus small-scale wind, hydro, etc. where suitable.

James cites two of my books but misrepresents their content. My 1977 book Soft Energy Paths (to give it the correct title) didn't propose using "domestic crops" to make "one-third of our fuel oil," nor did it advocate making biofuels from corn, grapes, hops, or any other food crops. What it actually and correctly said on p. 44 and pp. 124-125 was that farm, forest, and urban wastes could be cost-effectively converted to enough biofuel to run "an efficient U.S. transport sector" (it referred specifically to gasoline). The National Academies and many other authoritative bodies later reached similar conclusions. James' land-use figures misleadingly assume obsolete first-generation biofuels and processes, food-crop feedstocks, and inefficient vehicles; mine didn't.

He's similarly muddled about my team's 2004 Pentagon-cosponsored book Winning the Oil Endgame. It showed how to get the U.S. off oil, again without displacing any cropland, but it didn't propose, as James claims, "running the entire electrical grid on wind and sunshine." That book was about oil, not electricity, and the two were less than 3 percent related then, less than 1 percent today. Nor did Winning the Oil Endgame propose, as he states, using renewables to save biofuels and natural gas in electricity generation (which uses virtually no biofuels) to use in transport. Rather, it showed how investing in electric demand response could save power-plant natural gas to displace oil in industry and buildings (plus 1.8 percent in transport). The book's biofuel analysis (pp. 103-110 and 162-164), again based on woody, weedy, and waste feedstocks rather than on food crops, showed that displacing U.S. oil use in 2025 needn't interfere with food or fiber production nor harm soil fertility, based on the land-use calculations he claims I never did and on modern agronomic evidence.

Perhaps James is anticipating Rocky Mountain Institute's detailed new synthesis "Reinventing Fire," to be published by Chelsea Green this October. That detailed study does indeed integrate oil with electricity. It shows how to get the U.S. completely off oil and coal by 2050 at a $5 trillion lower present-valued cost than business-as-usual, led by business and driven by market forces. One of the keys is indeed 125 to 260-mpg-equivalent autos, using a breakthrough competitive strategy based on electrified, lightweight carbon-fiber vehicles. James seems skeptical of the possibility of inventing those. However, they were already invented in 1991 and designed by 2000. James might not be aware that BMW, Audi, and VW have announced 2012-13 volume production of such vehicles, at efficiencies up to 230 mpg for VW's two-seater, and that BMW has publicly confirmed our thesis that the saved batteries pay for the carbon fiber.

James concludes: "Let's get real about the solutions. The job of the military is defending the nation." Precisely. Since he retired from the Naval Reserve a generation ago, the uniformed leadership has come to understand that comprehensive, systematic, and aggressive adoption of energy efficiency and appropriate renewables is at the core of their national-security mission. The Air Force-America's No. 1 or No. 2 airline-and the Navy, like leading civilian airlines around the world, have been prudently exploring and testing third- and fourth-generation biofuels that show promise of lower and more stable long-run prices than oil. Our 2008 Defense Science Board task force concurred.

Losing some of the military market for oil (less than 2 percent of U.S. oil use) may slightly incommode James' colleagues and former employers in the oil business (besides his national-security background, he was reportedly a vice president of Mobil and an economist for Conoco, but the WSJ oddly didn't say so). But many major oil companies too are investing in advanced biofuels. Indeed, the world's biggest distributor of biofuels is Shell, whose former chairman, Sir Mark Moody-Stuart, joined with George Shultz in writing the forewords to Winning the Oil Endgame, and whose U.S. and Upstream Americas President Marvin Odum wrote a foreword to Reinventing Fire.

I would therefore very respectfully suggest to James that his contributions on military energy would carry more weight if he more carefully examined what I actually wrote and what DOD is actually doing.

Physicist Amory Lovins is Chairman and Chief Scientist of Rocky Mountain Institute and Chairman Emeritus of Fiberforge, Inc. Published in 29 books and hundreds of papers, he advises governments and major firms worldwide on advanced energy and resource efficiency.

AMORY LOVINS setting the Wall Street Journal article straight...  Journal has not got any better since Ruppert, "the crook" took it over...  Monte

All Sports Are Political: The Starting Five Interview With Sportswriter Dave Zirin By Christian Avard | The Starting Five

They say sports and politics don’t mix. One sportswriter disagrees with that. In fact, he would argue that professional sports has always been political and has been a positive force in shaping American society.

Dave Zirin is The Nation magazine sports editor and a columnist for SLAM Magazine, The Progressive, and Sports Illustrated Online. His writing has appeared in numerous publications including The Los Angeles Times, The Washington Post, The New York Daily News, and The San Francisco Chronicle. Zirin has also appeared on multiple television programs including ESPN’s “Outside the Lines,” MSNBC’s “Countdown with Keith Olbermann,” MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” and “The Rachel Maddow Show,” and Democracy Now with Amy Goodman.

He has written four best-selling books “What’s My Name, Fool? Sports and Resistance in the United States,” “Welcome to the Terrordome: The Pain, Politics and Promise of Sports,” “A People’s History of Sports in the United States,” and “Bad Sports: How Owners Are Ruining the Games We Love” and Zirin just released a documentary called “Not Just a Game: Power, Politics & American Sports.”

I spoke with Zirin about his new documentary, Super Bowl XLV, and the suppression of politics in sports. Here’s what he had to say:

Christian Avard: Dave, you write about sports and solidarity and social change issues. What’s your take on Super Bowl XLV? It’s the blue collar bowl: The Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Green Bay Packers. What does this match-up mean in terms of the issues you often discuss?

Dave Zirin: I’m asked a lot if there are any good owners (in football) and I always say the best owners are the 112,000 owners of the Green Bay Packers. With the Packers, you have an ownership structure the NFL does its damnest to obscure and keep secret that the Packers are a not for profit team.

It’s something that dates back to 1923 and in 1960, [the NFL] wrote in the bylaws that no other team could follow suit and be like the Packers. Yet, here the Packers are and they have no owner that’s threatening to move the team elsewhere, unlike San Diego and Minnesota. The Packers owners are not threatening if they don’t get a new stadium they’re going to move somewhere else. Even beer at Lambeau Field costs half as much as it does in other stadiums.

It’s a team that’s really bonded the community and it’s a very interesting and frightening example that we don’t need owners to have pro sports. If anything, it’s such poetic justice to see the Packers in the Super Bowl because this whole season has been scarred by the owners constantly threatening to lock out the players of next season unless they get a biggest piece of the profits.

CA: Who are the people – the powers that be – that push for the no politics in sports? Who are the biggest culprits and why do they want to do this?

DZ: I think there are many cases where owners and head coaches make it clear that politics are divisive in the locker room, it undermines the idea of team, and that sports and politics should not mix. Also, in much of the mainstream sports media, the message is often contradictory. [The media] tend to decry the modern athlete who just says “We play one game at a time,” because that athlete doesn’t give them good copy, but they’re also the first to jump on an athlete if they dare say anything political or out of the mainstream. Now not every sportswriter does this by any stretch, but that is the general overriding ethos.

The point I try to make in Not Just A Game is that politics and sports is there’s all kinds of politics in sports, whether we want to see it or not. There’s the politics of public funding of stadiums; of nationalism and militarism at the parks; war planes flying over the head during the national anthem; and having Lt. General David Petraeus flipping the coin before the game. There is even politics in Major League Baseball. The commissioner Bud Selig ignores the please of Latino players who don’t want to have to the 2011 All-Star game in Arizona. It’s all political.

CA: A common answer or response one often hears is “We’re not taking a political stance on the invasion. We supporting the troops. This isn’t being political.” Why is this rationale wrong and why do people believe it?

DZ: Well, the best way someone can support the troops is to get them home so they don’t die. Granted, that’s my opinion. But at the same point, it’s an alternative opinion that has political implications. So are those who say the best way to support the troops is to say “You’re doing a good job in Afghanistan and Iraq. Keep up the good work.” That’s just as political. It’s one of those things where I am all for robust debate. I’m all for talking through these issues that’s straightforward, open, and honest. What I’m not for is pretending that there’s no politics in sports when these issues come up.

This is one of the main messages of the film too. One of the things that sports has done has been to normalize politics, nationalism, militarism, etc. It’s normalized politics to the point that anyone who transgresses against them becomes accused of politicizing sports. That’s what’s so insidious about it.

The first criticism that’s levied is “Why are you trying to bring politics into this?” I see this where I live in Washington, DC. We have a professional football team called the Washington Redskins. It’s a majority African-American city and the team was named by a segregationist named George Preston Marshall who was the last person to integrate of an NFL team! It’s normalized to the point where if you say “This isn’t right!” then you are the one who’s bringing in the politics!

CA: Generally speaking, televized college and professional sports do not support it when athletes speak out on controversial topics or make certain kinds of stands on political issues. Muhammad Ali lost his belt for refusing to serve in Vietnam and Tommy Smith and John Carlos were kicked out of the 1968 Summer Olympics, and former Manhattanville women’s basketball player Toni Smith turned away from the American flag during the national anthem at the time of the U.S. invasion and occupation of Iraq. So why is it that someone like Denver Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow can star in pro-life Super Bowl ads? Why does Tebow get a pass and the others don’t?

CA: Because the normalization of politics flow very much from the right-wing spectrum in this country and Tebow falls in line with what is considered to be acceptable political discourse. The Tebow ads were also a front for Focus On The Family, an organization that has views that are beyond the mainstream on a whole range of topics. I consider that to be an example of stealth politics which the right-wing is very good at. I mean, if Tim Tebow said “Hi, I’m here to to front for Focus On The Family. We’re here to repair your gay children,” I think a lot of Super Bowl watchers would be disgusted. It comes in stealth and the right is effective at this. CA: I understand you support athletes who take stances on political issues and they are generally coming from people who are left of center or progressive. Do you support those who speak out who you may not agree with? For instance, do you support Tebow’s efforts to talk about abortion or other religious/political issues?

DZ: Yes, let me be clear. I support Tebow’s right to do this. But I’m mad at the NFL in agreeing to put this ad on Super Bowl Sunday. Frankly, I would respect Tebow a lot more if he stood outside the Super Bowl stadium with a petition and clipboard. I support athletes being political. But at the same time, it’s like anytime you’re an athlete and you are political, what comes with that has to be debate and criticism. Whether I agree with you or not, that’s part of the joy of being political. You’re not condescending the athletes or anything. It’s like “OK, you said something, now let’s have a serious conversation about it.”

What I can’t stand is the shutdown, the ESPN “just shut up” attitude because what you’re asking of athletes is to be something less than fully-formed human beings (with brains as well as bodies). Let’s face it. Whether they want to be or not, pro athletes are role models. They have huge cultural platforms. So when young people see that it has a real effect. They may think “Oh, I’m not supposed to talk about politics. I want to be like Mike!”

CA: I want to talk about racism in sports. You cover the obstacles Jack Johnson and Jackie Robinson overcame in terms of race. But you also wrote columns in support of Barry Bonds and Michael Vick who are not as popular among sports fans. How have they been victims of racist treatment, especially in the media? What are the biggest myths most people associate Bonds and Vick with and what are the important points that people need to know?

DZ: First of all, each athlete is a profoundly different story. It’s not like in any way, shape or form I’m trying to tie any historical continuity between all four athletes. I did write an article called “The Unforgiven Jack Johnson and Barry Bonds” because I do think there are a lot of very interesting social similarities between those two in particular.

Jack Johnson in many ways could not be more different than Jackie Robinson or Michael Vick. But Johnson and Bonds, there’s something very similar because in each case, their number one sin was the sin of perception and the sin of how they handled themselves to an overwhelmingly white sports media. Johnson was not going to dance to their tune for anyone. If he wanted you to kiss his but, he would tell you to.

As for Bonds, if you want to trace back when he was getting horrible treatment by the press, it didn’t start when he started getting those muscles under suspicious circumstances. It started during his rookie year in Pittsburgh. Bonds has his own interesting history. His own father, Bobby Bonds, was seen as a talent in the footsteps of Willie Mays. Bobby Bonds had his own demons but he was also a huge supporter of the Major League Players Union. He got traded to nine different teams and Bobby raised Barry in very upper middle class circumstances. But the message was “You should not trust media and they will do nothing for you.” So rather than think about and interrogate that, the media was already down on Bonds before his muscles got big.

I also think Bonds, and this drove the media nuts, they would ask Bonds about steroids and he would say “Well you should ask me about Hurricane Katrina and the destruction of New Orleans.” That would drive the media nuts and they would say “Oh, he’s ducking the question.” Instead the media should have been taking a step back and asking “Well, why aren’t we taking about Hurricane Katrina?” Isn’t that the more pressing issue than what Bonds may or may not be injecting in his but? I think there’s a similarity there between Johnson and Bonds.

With Vick, it was very specific to say “one is innocent until proven guilty” because he was tried in the press, there were protests, and they were very ugly before it went to trial. The second thing was to say “Wow! That sentence, two years in a maximum security prison, was very extreme.” And the third thing was now that Vick is out of jail, once again, with the cultural weight the NFL has, it would send a horrible message if NFL commissioner Roger Goodell didn’t let him back in the league now that he’s paid his debt to society.

CA: What bothers me is that once Vick left Leavenworth, he sought out help and turned into a better person. He also had a fabulous season. What I think people are missing is he changed himself from the inside out and people are missing that.

DZ: What bothers me is that (and I wrote a column about this) was that I was disturbed by the number of sports commentators who did a 180 once Vick started playing well. They started saying “Vick does deserve a second chance. Look how great he’s playing on the field!” He deserved a second chance not only because he was playing well but because he just spent 19 months in Leavenworth. The idea that he deserves a second chance because he’s playing well just reinforces the work-value system that exists in sports. CA: Describe for me when you learned the hard way that sports and politics coexist. You were at Madison Garden at a Saint John’s University basketball game when the U.S. invaded Iraq in 1991. What did you see and how did this impact your perspectives on professional sports?

DZ: The halftime show involved someone in an exaggerated Arab costume walking out to mid-court. One of school’s mascots, in an exaggerated pro wrestling kind of way, beat him up while the Jumbotron was getting people to chant “USA! USA!” Now at the time, I wasn’t someone who gave that much thought to politics whatsoever. I was someone who loved sports and a dear friend of mine, who’s family was from Iran, was on my high school basketball team. He went to an antiwar demonstration and he cut out of practice to go to this demonstration. I asked him “You’re cutting practice to go to a demonstration? Where are your priorities?” I didn’t understand why he would do that. He said to me “You don’t understand.”

At the demonstration, he was hit by a police officer with a knight stick across his legs and hurt himself badly. That was a jarring thing that happened in my life among my circle of friends and it brought it home to me. Then to see that on the Madison Square Garden Court made me feel like something’s very wrong here because I’m here to forget my troubles, not to think about all this heavy stuff. Instead, I’m seeing it all on the Jumbotron. My immediate reaction after that was to give up sports. I thought there was something wrong with it.

CA: Why did you come back?

DZ: I came back four or five years later when Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf refused to stand during the national anthem. I remember seeing a talking head say that “Rauf must see himself in the tradition of activist athletes.” When I heard that, I thought I was the sports junky and I didn’t know this history until I really started investigating it. I had a double reaction to it. The first was a fascination that sports really was used as a platform for social justice. The other reaction, that was equally strong, was “Man, I miss sports! I love sports! Why should I have to give it up, just because it’s hijacked and used for nefarious ends?” Instead of rejecting it, we should be reclaiming it.

CA: Sometimes I hear people say “So what? Sports is just a game.” From your perspective what are the most meaningful things people can take away from sports? What are some of things that go unnoticed?

DZ: I think sports is the closest thing a spoken language that we have. Oftentimes on sports radio for example, you get the much more honest discussions about issues like racism, sexism, war, and certainly homophobia than you ever do on a lot of talk radio. It’s a forum where people really do come together and have big conversations.

Take this thing about the Packers and being run by a nonprofit. Imagine if a lot people knew about that and it becomes part of bar conversations and sports radio conversations in the lead up to the Super Bowl. In a lot of ways, that is a more progressive and more radical economic discourse than anything we’re getting out of Washington, DC right now.

CA: Above all else what do you want viewers to learn about your new documentary?

DZ: If nothing else, I want them to take away that there is a tradition of powerful activism in sports. There is a way in which sports has not only been shaped by our broader society, but it is also a shaper of our broader society. There are huge political debates at all times whether we choose to see them or not raging through the world of sports. The question for people who see themselves as progressive or as rebellious, is are we going to engage in those debates or step away from the table when the meal is served? I think we have to seize that because it’s a way to reach people in a way that’s more profound, more inclusive, and more dynamic than just about any other kind of cultural medium out there.

CA: Thanks Dave!

Aug 3, 2011

The Fastest Living Thing on the Planet! 20,000 G !!! 100 Times the Speed of Sound !!!

Photomicrograph of Pilobolus crystallinus, the hat-throwing fungus

Hat thrower fungus

Hat-thrower fungi earn their name from their habit of firing spore capsules away from the parent fungus. The spores stick to grass and can safely pass through a grazing animal's digestive tract, so that they emerge from the other end in a dollop of dung. These fungi then grow in the dung completing the life cycle. This fungus rarely reaches 5cm in height, but can propel the spore capsule a mighty 2m away.
Scientific name: Pilobolus crystallinus
Rank: Species
Common names:
Cap throwing fungus,
Dung cannon

Nature is amazing...!!! Monte

Aug 2, 2011

Stuff white people like: denying climate change | Grist

I like denying climate change almost as much as I like Phil Collins!

There's a study running soon in the journal Global Environmental Change called "Cool dudes: The denial of climate change among conservative white males in the United States." It analyzes poll and survey data from the last 10 years and finds that ... are you sitting down? ... conservative white men are far more likely to deny the threat of climate change than other people.

OK, that's no surprise to anyone who's been awake over the last decade. But the paper goes beyond that to put forward some theories aboutwhy conservative white men (CWM) are so loathe to accept climate change. The explanation is some mix of the following, all of which overlap in various ways:
First there's the "white male effect" -- generally speaking, white males are less concerned with a variety of risks. This probably has to do with the fact that they are less exposed to risk than other demographics, what with running things and all.
Then, as Chris Mooney notes, there's the "social dominance orientation" of conservatives, who see social life as following the law of the jungle. One's choice is to dominate or be dominated; that is the natural order of things. Such folk are leery of climate change solutions premised on fairness or egalitarianism.
Then there are the well-understood "system-justifying tendencies" of conservatives. The authors explain that conservatives ...

... strongly display tendencies to justify and defend the current social and economic system. Conservatives dislike change and uncertainty and attempt to simplify complexity. Further, conservative white males have disproportionately occupied positions of power within our economic system. Given the expansive challenge that climate change poses to the industrial capitalist economic system, it should not be surprising that conservative white males' strong system-justifying attitudes would be triggered to deny climate change.
Finally, there's "identity-protective cognition," a notion borrowed from Dan Kahan at Yale. (Seethis PDF.) Here's how Kahan and colleagues sum it up:

We propose that variance in risk perceptions -- across persons generally, and across race and gender in particular -- reflects a form of motivated cognition through whichpeople seek to deflect threats to identities they hold, and roles they occupy, by virtue of contested cultural norms."Motivated cognition" refers to reasoning done in service of justifying an already held belief or goal. It helps explain why the CWM who know the most about climate science are the most likely to reject it; they learn about it in order to reject it. See Chris Mooney's great piece on that. Point being: when facts (or the implications of those facts) threaten people's social identities, they tend to dismiss the facts rather than the identity.

To all these reasons, I'd add "epistemic closure," the extraordinary way that the modern right has constructed a self-contained, hermetically sealed media environment in which conservatives can be protected from ever encountering a contrary view. It's an accelerant to all the tendencies described above.

Anyway, as you can see, the rejection of climate science among CWM is basically overdetermined. Climate change threatens their values, their privileges, and their worldview. They are reacting as one would expect them to react.

So what? What follows from this? I'll address that in my next post.

‪Real Time With Bill Maher, New Rules-Socialism

Bill Maher explains how The United States of America is a socialist country and everyone accepts Government help and most aren't smart enough to figure it out.


"The difference is that European taxpayers money is actually spent on European taxpayers, whereas in the US, taxpayers money is given to corporations like candy. Most of the US government budget is really corporate welfare; the welfare hand-outs to spongers like Lockheed, Halliburton, Blackwater, etc, and the massive government subsidies for the greedy US Pharmaceutical companies, and the obscene farm subsidies. Then there's the bailing out of Wall Street. Socialism for the Rich."

"The problem with America is that it's people are stupid and don't really know how their government works. It is said that only 20 % of the US population is responsible for the US prestige, the rest are just plain air-heads with mob mentality."

Bill Maher nailing it...!!! Monte

Aug 1, 2011

Special Comment: The Four Great Hypocrisies of the Debt Deal | Countdown with Keith Olbermann

Keith's Special Comment on the four great hypocrisies of the debt deal and the necessity of taking the governance of this nation back from politicians.

Al Gore on Why Washington Is Broken
As leaders make a final push late Monday to pass a final debt deal and cut federal spending, voters aren't exactly cheering. Americans call the budget impasse "ridiculous," "disgusting" and "stupid," according to a new poll. Keith one-on-one with former Vice President, and Current TV Chairman Al Gore on why our government is in real trouble.

Revolution is in the air... It's beginning... We are in for a wild ride... Monte

‪Google's Justin Baird Pitches Idea for 'Radically Inclusive Democracy'‬‏

Complete video at:

Google innovationist Justin Baird presents his proposal for global governance innovation, an idea he calls "radically inclusive democracy." Baird explains that radical inclusion can be applied to civil services, such as voting, where casting ballots online is fast, unbiased, accurate, and inexpensive.

"The global community benefits from having this transparent democratic process," says Baird. ----- Google's dominance of the internet is "a dangerous development for the future of democratic society", the UK Government's digital adviser, Lord David Puttnam, recently warned.

Lord Puttnam said he feared Google could try to "dictate terms" with a future government, in the same way that oil companies attempted to shape the policies of previous US administrations.

Needless to say, as a Google employee and certified techno-geek, Justin Baird doesn't agree. Instead, he sees the digital revolution as the greatest explosion of access to information the world has ever seen. Far from being a bad thing, he argues that the potential for creativity, the ability to connect and communicate and the ability to have ones voice heard is driving fundamental societal change.

So, is the digital revolution leading us to a more democratic, more environmentally and socially conscious future? And better business models? - Australian Broadcasting Corporation Justin Baird is an Innovationist at Google Australia.

During his tenure at Google, Justin has helped launch local YouTube portals across Asia Pacific, helped launch the first Android mobile devices in the region, brought the Google Creative Sandbox event to Australia's shores, and co-created DNA, a digital thought leadership series in Australia and New Zealand. Justin is also actively involved in Google's philanthropic efforts to help drive positive change through technology.

Minority rules: Scientists discover tipping point for the spread of ideas

In this visualization, we see the tipping point where minority opinion (shown in red) quickly becomes majority opinion. Over time, the minority opinion grows. Once the minority opinion reached 10 percent of the population, the network quickly changes as the minority opinion takes over the original majority opinion (shown in green). Credit: SCNARC/Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

Scientists at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute have found that when just 10 percent of the population holds an unshakable belief, their belief will always be adopted by the majority of the society. The scientists, who are members of the Social Cognitive Networks Academic Research Center (SCNARC) at Rensselaer, used computational and analytical methods to discover the tipping point where a minority belief becomes the majority opinion.

The finding has implications for the study and influence of societal interactions ranging from the spread of innovations to the movement of political ideals.

Thanks Lee Swanson for this great article...!!!  Monte

‪Dave Zirin: Debunking the Myth that Sports and Politics Don't Overlap

Sports has a rich tradition of resistance politics.

Such sports luminaries as Muhammad Ali, Jackie Robinson, Billie Jean King and Pat Tillman all have their political side, and their actions have been integral to this country's struggle for racial equality, gender equality and peace at home and abroad. 

Sports creates a safe language to discuss many otherwise difficult topics—topics that team owners hate because they break the apolitical rules of "jockocracy." 

In this video, The Nation's Dave Zirin, guest editor of the recent Sports Issue, dissects the overlaps between sports and progressive culture, urging the next generation of both sports fans and progressives to heed these intersecting histories. 

For more videos visit

Zirin is always interesting and informative... Monte

‪Sherry Wolf: Revolution in the Air‬‏

Tunisia's uprisings began in December, quickly leading to the fall of long-time dictator Zine El Abidine Ben Ali. Shortly thereafter, Egypt successfully rose up against Hosni Mubarak. 

The same day as Mubarak's resignation, now infamous Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker declared his legislative war on unions, causing a wave of protest that may not have happened without Tunisians and Egyptians demonstrating what was possible. Now, there is a unique global upheaval, borrowing certain protest tactics and creating others to be shared as revolutions around the world create progressive change. 

Writer and activist Sherry Wolf joins The Nation to describe how this year's Socialism Conference happened at a key historic moment. 

For more videos visit

HOMEGROWN 101: Natural Pest Control - HOMEGROWN.ORG

Controlling pests is a feat in itself, but to do so by natural means is downright difficult. Defending your garden from an army of pests is dependent on geographic location, crop varieties, climate, and requires lots of time, patience, and trial and error. This HOMEGROWN101 will serve to guide growers on natural pest control methods that can help save your garden from pest distress.

There is nothing worse than seeing well-tended plants fall victim to pesky garden pests. Be it bugs, blight, or backyard critters, farms and gardens provide a veritable feast for a variety of pests that can inflict serious harm on plants. Some modern American growers rely on chemical-intensive measures to defeat these pests and protect their plants. Armed with herbicides, pesticides, and rodenticides, these growers aim to kill the pests and squash their problems; however, the use of these sprays may take care of more than just pests. A chemical defensive may eradicate the pests that are attacking your roses, but they can also kill beneficial organisms that are helpful for your garden, and health problems in pets and people exposed to these toxics!

And what’s more, pesticides, herbicides and the like are petroleum-based, requiring a lot of resources in order to produce and use them effectively. These chemicals are not single-use, either. They must be reapplied in order to combat the evolution of the pests to the chemical onslaught. It has been noted that there are several pests in the U.S. that have become “superpests,” which have the ability to withstand a chemical dousing and continue to afflict gardens and farms. Which is why many growers - even large scale! - are turning to natural methods of pest control to keep their plants healthy.

So, how to start controlling pets and protecting plants with safe, natural alternatives to chemicals? What’s the best way to work with nature in order to combat pests? Start with the knowledge and know-how of your fellow HOMEGROWNers and figure out which method works for you!

It's vital to remember a few general garden-care guidelines to discourage pests from making a home in your rows, start with a healthy garden. Cut weak or infected plants and dispose of them away form the garden. Incorporate organic compost, mulch, and natural fertilizers like seaweed and animal manure, which have trace elements like zinc, calcium, sulfur, barium, and magnesium, important for plant development and a repellent for some insects, into your soil. Clear leaf litter and weeds from your garden in order to eliminate pest habitat and spread clean mulch. Interplant with companion plants, androtate crops each year to avoid plant-specific infestations. Encourage beneficial insects to keep pest populations low. Water early in the morning to avoid fungal and insect damage.

While pests vary from garden to garden, here is a comprehensive list of common garden pests from Mother Earth News to keep your eyes open for, and the best tactics to combat these pests, discussed in full below:

Aphid: Insecticidal soap, attracting beneficials, horticultural oil

Armyworm: Bt (Bacillus thuringiens), handpicking, row covers

Asparagus beetle: Poultry predation, neem, handpicking

Blister beetle: Poultry predation, neem, handpicking

Cabbage root maggot: Crop rotation, beneficial nematodes, diatomaceous earth

Cabbageworm: Bt, handpicking, row covers

Carrot rust fly: Crop rotation, beneficial nematodes, diatomaceous earth

Colorado potato beetle: Poultry predation, neem, handpicking

Corn earworm: Bt, horticultural oil, beneficial nematodes

Cucumber beetle: Poultry predation, neem, handpicking

Flea beetle: Insecticidal soap, garlic-pepper spray, row covers

Harlequin bug: Handpicking, good garden sanitation, neem

Japanese beetle: Handpicking, row covers, milky spore disease

Mexican bean beetle: Poultry predation, neem, handpicking

Onion root maggot: Crop rotation, beneficial nematodes, diatomaceous earth

Slugs: Handpicking, iron phosphate slug bait, diatomaceous earth

Snails: Handpicking, iron phosphate slug bait, diatomaceous earth

Squash bug: Handpicking, good garden sanitation, neem

Squash vine borer: Growing resistant varieties, crop rotation, beneficial nematodes

Stink bug: Handpicking, good garden sanitation, neem

Tarnished plant bug: Handpicking, good garden sanitation, neem

Tomato hornworm: Bt, handpicking, row covers

Whitefly: Insecticidal soap, attracting beneficials, horticultural oil

Cutworm: Rigid collars, Bt, diatomaceous earth



More Resources on Common Pests:

Golden Harvest Organics Comprehensive Pest Guide

Earth Easy's Natural Pest Control

Mother Earth News's Organic Pest Control: What Works, What Doesn't?

Pest Management: ATTRA

Rodael: Natural Pest Control Resources:

Garden Pest Problems

Black Beetles in the Garden

Potato and Raspberry Help

A How-To for Controlling Pest Populations and Problems

(Photo by Humble Seed)


Many growers are familiar with the Native American method of planting the “Three Sisters” – squash, corn, and beans – together in organized rows in order to provide habitat for beneficial insects and to avoid pest problems. Monocropping, planting one crop or separating your crops by type, has the opposite effect on your crops. It creates a habitat for specific pests, which increases the dependence on pesticides and herbicides, rather than an interconnected, positive feedback loop system. Mix up monocropping systems by interplanting herbs and flowers between your vegetables and fruits.

Companion planting also incorporates plants with strong odors or tastes that are offensive to pests. By planting them in your garden, it may force pests to find a new feeding ground. While finding the right companion combination depends largely on what you’re growing and where you’re growing it, some common herbs, flowers, and vegetables include: sweet basil, mints, rue, clove, marigold, nasturtium, onion, radish, and garlic.

Check out this article from Seeds of Change and accompanying chart of companion plantings from J.I. Rodale’s Encyclopedia of Organic Gardening Resources:

Companion Planting Using Herbs

Bonnaroo Gardening Workshop


A healthy, fruitful garden relies upon a strong, interconnected ecological system in which insects, birds, sun, water, and the plants work towards a harmonic biological balance. Beneficial predator insects take care of pests, who provide sustenance for the birds. Small mammals manage leaf litter and ground cover, while larger mammals manage the smaller mammals populations. In this system, there are no needed inputs to create ecological harmony. But, when unwanted pests and pathogens appear, many growers reach for chemicals to protect their plants, putting themselves and their food at risk of contamination, and killing beneficial organisms to boot! Many common garden insects are important lines of defense in eliminating unwanted pests from harming plants, but fall victim to the chemical onslaught of the ‘cides.

(Photo By: Tomato Casual)

Here are a few types of beneficials to encourage and ways to do so. While they won’t eradicate pests, they will restore the ecological balance that will keep problem insects at bay:

Birds and Poultry – Wrens, chickadees, and robins eat beetles (asparagus, Japanese, blister, potato, Mexican bean, cucumber, Japanese), cutworms, grasshoppers, and other insects. Birds will be attracted to birdhouses and nesting shelves near the garden. Birdfeeders will attract squirrels, so be sure to keep those at a distance far enough away from your garden in order to avoid squirrel problems.

Toads – Toads eat a diet full of slugs and bugs. Build toad houses in your garden for these amphibians.

Spiders and predaceous ground beetles – Leaf litter and mulch covering on garden floor will provide them with hiding places, but this organic matter does provide food for pests. Test out how it works in your garden.

Ladybugs/lacewings – These beetles prey on aphids, scales, and more. They are attracted to wheast or formula 57 in the garden.

Hoverflies – These flies like habitats wildflowers, dill, fennel, coriander, and Queen Anne’s lace and will take care of aphids

Parasitoid wasps – Ground cover like sweet clover, alyssum, yarrow attracts these wasps, who lay their eggs in pest hosts, like cabbageworms, tomato hornworms

Praying Mantis – These large insects eat most garden insect pests.

Garter Snakes – Garters are great for the garden. They tend to den in tall grasses, bushes, and piles of wood or rocks near the garden. They keep populations of crickets, grasshoppers, and other insects down.

Some beneficials are available for purchase and can be introduced into the garden:

Bacillus popilliae (milky spore bacteria) is great for controlling grubs and will remain in the garden for 10-15 years. Strains of Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) is good for controlling caterpillars, Japanese beetle, corn earworm, tomato hornworm, mosquitoes, cabbageworm, potato bugs and elm leaf beetles

Beneficial nematodes – These beneficials enter a host’s body and emit bacteria that liquefies their insides and devours them. Beneficial nematodes can be applied through spraying, mixing with mulch, and adding to soil to combat mosquitoes, black flies, grubs, carrot rust fly, termites, yellow jackets, grasshoppers, cabbage and onion root maggots, squash vine borer, crickets and caterpillars


Resource Guide for Organic Insect and Disease Management

Beneficial Insects 101





Pheromones – These natural scents attract insects into sticky traps; useful for lining your perimeter.

Floating Row Covers – Lightweight opaque material draped over beds and anchored to the ground allows sunlight and water in, but keeps pests out. The material is supple enough to grow with the plant and is spun to prevent tearing

Cloche – These miniature greenhouses provide a great barrier for seedlings against pests. They must be kept open in the heat and for watering

Barrier Paper – scraps of waxed cardboard that are placed at the base of the plant over the stems/roots can protect some plants from pests

Eggshell Barriers


Pest Potions – Comprised of everyday household ingredients, these homemade repellents can help to deter pests from your plants. Check out this video demonstration and recipes


Earth Easy's Traps and Barriers

Use Pest Barriers in Your Garden Resources:

What's The Best Fence?

Keeping Mosquitos Out of a Rain Barrel


Pyrethrins – derived from the dried, powdered heads of chrysanthemums flowers. Very effective in natural pest control – quickly target infestations and kills everything (even beneficials) – u

se sparingly and spot treat

Diatomaceous earth – kills pests by inflicting lacerations on their bodies – pests dries out and dies. Powder form that can be used anywhere on anything – useful as a barrier around house or garden, around or on plants. Fossilized remains of diatoms

Boric acid – made from borate commonly known as Borax, is a desiccant and slow-acting stomach poison. When it sticks or is ingested it takes time – pest can infect the colony

Insecticidal soaps – vegetable-based, non-toxic, kill pests by breaking down waxy cuticles and dissolving cell membranes – cell contents leak out and pest desiccates and dies. Best on soft-bodied pests (aphids, scales, catepillars, flies, grasshoppers)

Horticultural oils – oils plug the spiracles, holes for respiration, of pests. Be sure to choose a vegetable-based oil to spray. Choose between adormant oil, heavier, sprayed when leaves have dropped, and summer oil which is safe on foliage

Neem oil – derived from the seeds/fruits of the neem tree works to kill pests like an insecticidal soap and horticulture oil, but also as an insect growth regulator and antifeedant on aphids, catepillars, grubs, beetles, and mites


Simple Pest Control


Deer and rodents can do as much, if different, damage to your garden as insects can. Deer and rodents are notorious for stripping plantings and ravaging grasses. There are a number of natural, homemade pest control measures that you can take to protect your plants:

(Photo By: Tomato Causal)

Deer can be controlled by hanging satchels of human hair in the branches of trees, bushes, or around the garden. They are also repelled by bars of fragrant soap hanging from branches, and hot sauce. Mix up a concoction of egg, water, liquid dish detergent, and hot sauce and spray it on the plants that the deer are feasting on. Here are some good recipes to try.

Rodents are usually searching for open food sources. Be sure to seal your compost bins and trash bins to deter scavenging rodents. Rodents (and rabbits) are allergic to peppermint; soaking cotton balls or rags in peppermint oil may do the trick. Oil must be reapplied after each rain.

Squirrels get their own category for being one of the peskiest pests. HOMEGROWN tips on squirrel control with videos and links.

Other Resources:

Integrated Pest Management and Permaculture