Feb 18, 2012

Colorblind Racism: A Popular Strategy With the GOP

Charles Dharapa-Pool/Getty Images
By: Edward Wyckoff Williams
Posted: January 25, 2012
Full Article:  http://www.theroot.com/views/colorblind-racism

The GOP candidates don't see their racial rhetoric as offensive. You got a problem with that?

Colorblind racism is the new normal in American conservative political thought. Well after the election of the nation's first African-American president, in 2012 Republican candidates are using egregious signals and dog whistles to incite racial divisiveness as an effective tool for political gain. But when confronted about the nature of their offensive rhetoric, the answer is either an innocuous denial or dismissive retort.

It is curious that people bold enough to make outlandish racial claims never admit guilt or receive a proverbial trial and conviction by the greater populace. Paul Rosenberg, a political contributor to Al-Jazeera, recently explained that this curious phenomenon of "racism without racists" has become de facto in today's political discourse and is best described as "colorblind racism."

First explored in the book Racism Without Racists: Color-Blind Racism and the Persistence of Racial Inequality in the United States by Eduardo Bonilla-Silva, a professor of sociology at Duke University, the concept explains much of the Republican strategy to defeat Barack Obama, using race as a wedge issue. Bonilla-Silva defined colorblind racism as a racial ideology that expresses itself in seemingly nonracial terms. As such, it is most practiced by people who never see themselves outside their own myopic worldview.

Last week's Fox News debate prior to the South Carolina Republican primary was an excellent example of the hubris inherent in today's racially charged, conservative environment.

All the more offensive was the fact that this debate took place on the national holiday celebrating Martin Luther King Jr. As Michael Keegan explained in the Huffington Post, "What could have been an opportunity for the candidates to express their support for the myriad advances of the civil rights movement and to address the real challenges that remain, instead turned into a mess of racially charged attacks on African Americans, immigrants and the poor."

Newt Gingrich -- the worst offender -- doubled down on his prior attacks. When asked by Juan Williams, the lone African-American Fox News moderator, about calling Barack Obama the greatest "food stamp president" and his insistence that he would "talk about why the African-American community should demand paychecks and not be satisfied with food stamps," Gingrich played to the bloodthirsty audience.

"Can't you see that this is viewed, at a minimum, as insulting to all Americans, but particularly to black Americans?" Williams asked.

"No," Gingrich replied. "No, I don't see that at all."

Like The Root on Facebook. Follow us on Twitter.

The response? Roaring applause and a standing ovation.

Now confident, with the wind at his back, Gingrich went on to repeat his misguided call for poor, inner-city children to be forced to work as janitors.

But this is only the least of offenses. The former House speaker has been using blatantly racist rhetoric to attack President Obama for the past two years. Starting with the suggestion that Obama could only be understood through a Kenyan, anti-colonialist mindset -- an idea he borrowed from the equally problematic Dinesh D'Souza -- to his oft-repeated correlation of the president with food stamps and welfare dependency, Gingrich refuses to accept responsibility and is quick to accuse liberal media of bias.

Mitt Romney, the candidate most likely to receive the nomination, was not immune. In response to a question from Rick Santorum, Romney declared his opposition to extending voting rights to convicted felons, an issue that disproportionately affects African-American and Hispanic males and is a direct result of the vast disparity created by the drug wars implemented during the Reagan administration.

Romney also promised to veto the Dream Act, a law supported by Obama's White House, which would allow the children of long-term, illegal immigrants to gain citizenship while proving themselves through military service or higher education. All these statements reflect a post-Tea Party conservative climate, which is fueled by xenophobia and racial animus.

Perhaps if these instances had not become so commonplace, they could be disregarded as gaffes, but following Santorum's remark in Iowa that he did not want "to make black people's lives better by giving them somebody else's money" and the unearthing of a new set of newsletters from Ron Paul's past framing African Americans as ravenous criminals, the racism is too obvious to be dismissed as subtle subtext.

In his article, Rosenberg notes that one of the central frames at the core of colorblind racism is "minimization of racism, [which] suggests discrimination is no longer a central factor affecting minorities' life chances ('It's better now than in the past' or 'There is discrimination, but there are plenty of jobs out there'). It remembers the past with a highly selective intent, to excuse the evil that remains."

Gingrich, Paul and Santorum convey textbook definitions of the minimization of racism. Paul "can't remember" who wrote what and thinks "it's not important anyway." Gingrich doesn't see anything wrong with any of his comments about the poor and blacks. Santorum's excuse is "blah." They each adopt a cavalier attitude toward the feelings of minorities and suggest that the fuss is much ado about nothing.

Why do they do it?

Just a quick look at Gingrich's rise in the polls and his recent win in South Carolina explains why it's a winning strategy among white GOP primary voters. The latest Gallup pollshows the race in a dead heat nationally, with Gingrich at 28 percent to Romney's 29 percent. Romney has essentially lost any advantage he had before the South Carolina primary.

Yet the American public and media have developed an acute sense of political correctness, which allows conservative politicians like Gingrich to lie and bait so outrageously without being called to task. And when confronted, Republicans are always quick to deny any malicious intent.

As I expressed in a previous article, poor whites have been encouraged to vote against their own economic interests; more broadly, middle-class whites are encouraged to vote against their better judgment. They are manipulated by race-baiting tactics that lead them to believe that the social ills of the nation are caused by the black and brown poor -- or, as Gingrich would have you believe, the black "elite" currently residing in the White House.

The political rhetoric being espoused from the far right has become inundated with corrupt language born of a racist past that still plagues the American consciousness. An informed electorate can no longer excuse blatant racism as a casual, social faux pas.

Voters in the upcoming Florida primary and across the nation must demand that Republicans take responsibility for wallowing in a cesspool of race-baiting for political advantage, ever hiding behind a veil of colorblind ignorance and innuendo.

Low IQ & Conservative Beliefs Linked to Prejudice | Racism, Bias & Politics | Right-Wing and Left-Wing Ideology | LiveScience

A new study finds links between low intelligence and racism, prejudice and homophobia.
CREDIT: ArTono, Shutterstock
Full Article: http://www.livescience.com/18132-intelligence-social-conservatism-racism.html

There's no gentle way to put it: People who give in to racism and prejudice may simply be dumb, according to a new study that is bound to stir public controversy.

The research finds that children with low intelligence are more likely to hold prejudiced attitudes as adults. These findings point to a vicious cycle, according to lead researcher Gordon Hodson, a psychologist at Brock University in Ontario. Low-intelligence adults tend to gravitate toward socially conservative ideologies, the study found. Those ideologies, in turn, stress hierarchy and resistance to change, attitudes that can contribute to prejudice, Hodson wrote in an email to LiveScience.
"Prejudice is extremely complex and multifaceted, making it critical that any factorscontributing to bias are uncovered and understood," he said.

Controversy ahead

The findings combine three hot-button topics.

"They've pulled off the trifecta of controversial topics," said Brian Nosek, a social and cognitive psychologist at the University of Virginia who was not involved in the study. "When one selects intelligence, political ideology and racism and looks at any of the relationships between those three variables, it's bound to upset somebody."

Polling data and social and political science research do show that prejudice is more common in those who hold right-wing ideals that those of other political persuasions, Nosek told LiveScience. [7 Thoughts That Are Bad For You]

"The unique contribution here is trying to make some progress on the most challenging aspect of this," Nosek said, referring to the new study. "It's not that a relationship like that exists, but why it exists."

Brains and bias

Earlier studies have found links between low levels of education and higher levels of prejudice, Hodson said, so studying intelligence seemed a logical next step. The researchers turned to two studies of citizens in the United Kingdom, one that has followed babies since their births in March 1958, and another that did the same for babies born in April 1970. The children in the studies had their intelligence assessed at age 10 or 11; as adults ages 30 or 33, their levels of social conservatism and racism were measured. [Life's Extremes: Democrat vs. Republican]

In the first study, verbal and nonverbal intelligence was measured using tests that asked people to find similarities and differences between words, shapes and symbols. The second study measured cognitive abilities in four ways, including number recall, shape-drawing tasks, defining words and identifying patterns and similarities among words. Average IQ is set at 100.

Social conservatives were defined as people who agreed with a laundry list of statements such as "Family life suffers if mum is working full-time," and "Schools should teach children to obey authority." Attitudes toward other races were captured by measuring agreement with statements such as "I wouldn't mind working with people from other races." (These questions measured overt prejudiced attitudes, but most people, no matter how egalitarian, do hold unconscious racial biases; Hodson's work can't speak to this "underground" racism.)

As suspected, low intelligence in childhood corresponded with racism in adulthood. But the factor that explained the relationship between these two variables was political: When researchers included social conservatism in the analysis, those ideologies accounted for much of the link between brains and bias.

People with lower cognitive abilities also had less contact with people of other races.

"This finding is consistent with recent research demonstrating that intergroup contact is mentally challenging and cognitively draining, and consistent with findings that contact reduces prejudice," said Hodson, who along with his colleagues published these results online Jan. 5 in the journal Psychological Science.

A study of averages

Hodson was quick to note that the despite the link found between low intelligence andsocial conservatism, the researchers aren't implying that all liberals are brilliant and all conservatives stupid. The research is a study of averages over large groups, he said.

"There are multiple examples of very bright conservatives and not-so-bright liberals, and many examples of very principled conservatives and very intolerant liberals," Hodson said.

Nosek gave another example to illustrate the dangers of taking the findings too literally.

"We can say definitively men are taller than women on average," he said. "But you can't say if you take a random man and you take a random woman that the man is going to be taller. There's plenty of overlap."

Nonetheless, there is reason to believe that strict right-wing ideology might appeal to those who have trouble grasping the complexity of the world.

"Socially conservative ideologies tend to offer structure and order," Hodson said, explaining why these beliefs might draw those with low intelligence. "Unfortunately, many of these features can also contribute to prejudice."

In another study, this one in the United States, Hodson and Busseri compared 254 people with the same amount of education but different levels of ability in abstract reasoning. They found that what applies to racism may also apply to homophobia. People who were poorer at abstract reasoning were more likely to exhibit prejudice against gays. As in the U.K. citizens, a lack of contact with gays and more acceptance of right-wing authoritarianism explained the link. [5 Myths About Gay People Debunked]

Simple viewpoints

Hodson and Busseri's explanation of their findings is reasonable, Nosek said, but it is correlational. That means the researchers didn't conclusively prove that the low intelligence caused the later prejudice. To do that, you'd have to somehow randomly assign otherwise identical people to be smart or dumb, liberal or conservative. Those sorts of studies obviously aren't possible.

The researchers controlled for factors such as education and socioeconomic status, making their case stronger, Nosek said. But there are other possible explanations that fit the data. For example, Nosek said, a study of left-wing liberals with stereotypically naïve views like "every kid is a genius in his or her own way," might find that people who hold these attitudes are also less bright. In other words, it might not be a particular ideology that is linked to stupidity, but extremist views in general.

"My speculation is that it's not as simple as their model presents it," Nosek said. "I think that lower cognitive capacity can lead to multiple simple ways to represent the world, and one of those can be embodied in a right-wing ideology where 'People I don't know are threats' and 'The world is a dangerous place'. ... Another simple way would be to just assume everybody is wonderful."

Prejudice is of particular interest because understanding the roots of racism and bias could help eliminate them, Hodson said. For example, he said, many anti-prejudice programsencourage participants to see things from another group's point of view. That mental exercise may be too taxing for people of low IQ.

"There may be cognitive limits in the ability to take the perspective of others, particularly foreigners," Hodson said. "Much of the present research literature suggests that our prejudices are primarily emotional in origin rather than cognitive. These two pieces of information suggest that it might be particularly fruitful for researchers to consider strategies to change feelings toward outgroups," rather than thoughts.

Wild Gourmet - Stinging Nettles - Cattail Shoots - Fiddlehead Ferns

Uploaded by wildgourmetblog on Apr 3, 2008
Chef Gray takes you on a foray into the forest of the Oregon coast to safely pick "Stinging Nettles"

Uploaded by paulwheaton12 on Apr 6, 2010
Harvesting stinging nettle and eating some sting nettles RAW!
A big nettle patch under a cottonwood tree. various ways of harvesting, including bare handed.
Heidi Bohan, author of "The People of Cascadia: Pacific Northwest Native American History" talks about when to harvest nettles and how to do an ethical harvest. Three of her students help out. Different kinds of gloves are used.
The nettle "stingers" are under the leaves only.
Apparently, some people sting themselves intentionally.
There is also some discussion on drying the nettles and how dried nettles can last years.
Nettles are nitrogen pigs and, in this case, the nettles are fed by bird crap.

Uploaded by EatTheWeeds on Jan 14, 2009
Learn about wild food with Green Deane, this time another classic, Stinging Nettles, very nutritious but touchy to handle.

Uploaded by wildgourmetblog on Apr 12, 2008
Chef Lee Gray Takes you out to a swamp to pick "Cattail Shoots" in the wilds of the Oregon coast.

Uploaded by EatTheWeeds on Jan 22, 2009
Learn about wild food with Green Deane, this time perhaps the most famous, cattails, or the Great Reed Mace, very nutritious, easy to identify, a life saver.

Uploaded by wildgourmetblog on Mar 14, 2008
Chef Lee Gray the Wild Gourmet takes you into the streams of Oregon to pick "Fiddlehead Ferns".

Uploaded by TheUniversityofMaine on May 19, 2010
University of Maine Cooperative Extension demonstrates how to identify Maine Fiddleheads.

Uploaded by TheUniversityofMaine on Jun 21, 2010
Storing Fiddleheads - Freezing

Related Links:
Eat The Weeds.com
Fiddlehead fern - Wikipedia
University of Maine Bulletin #4198, Facts on Fiddleheads - Lots of Recipes

25 Visionaries Who Are Changing Your World 2011 – Features – Utne Reader

Visionaries don’t always make us comfortable. Some use ugly language, like Sonya Barnett and Heather Jarvis, the Toronto women who have reclaimed the word slut. Some quit their workaday jobs in disgust and turn to new mediums, like David Simon, who abandoned what he saw as the withering journalist trade for the powerful art form of television. Some publicly criticize their peers, like Alice Dreger, an activist who exposes the questionable practices of genital reconstructive surgeons. Some, like farmer Jim Gerritsen, work within the law to attack the status quo; others, like environmentalist Tim DeChristopher, get arrested for their heartfelt actions.

The 25 men and women in the following pages have probably ticked off a lot of people. That’s what happens when you have creative, boundary-leaping, uncomfortable ideas—and you pursue them. These people also have delivered hope and renewed faith and tangible improvements to the lives of millions. Their vision, paired with their action, has literally brought food, shelter, and medicine where it was needed. Successes that can be measured and held are wonderful—and much needed—but equally important are the new ideas, the new words, and the new dreams that they’ve engendered.

Every year, Utne Reader puts forward its selection of world visionaries, people who have that extra twist of imagination and determination and energy, people who don’t just concoct great ideas but also act on them and lay their souls on the line for change. We’re proud to present you with 2011’s lineup of dreamers and doers.

CORN yields in the US have risen by about 50 per cent over the past three decades but is now struggling to meet demand.- Weekly Times Now

Peter Hemphill | February 16, 2012

CORN yields in the US have risen by about 50 per cent over the past three decades but is now struggling to meet demand.

With corn supplies the tightest they have been since the mid-1990s, prices have risen substantially and are holding at double normal levels.

Indeed, most market analysts agree corn prices have kept wheat prices buoyant, especially since there is a glut of the latter.

Tight US corn supplies have been driven largely by the ethanol industry muscling in on the meat industry.

As the US rolled out its renewable fuels program, production for the biofuel increased 10-fold during the past decade to more than 50 billion litres.

About 40 per cent of the US corn crop is now used for ethanol production.

Another 40 per cent goes directly into animal feed, while only a small proportion is used for food such as corn chips and tortillas.

The rest is converted into a range of other products such corn syrup and cooking oils.

While ethanol production has become the largest use of the corn crop, it has also developed a high protein byproduct - dried distillers grains with solubles - now highly prized around the world as an animal feed.

China is one of the biggest animal feed markets in the world and is steadily losing its self-sufficiency status.

The US Grains Council last week said Chinese imports of DDGS was forecast to rise to six million tonnes by 2016.

Prior to 2009, it did not import any, instead opting to rely on its own production.

As a rapidly expanding middle class in both China and India moves to buy more meat products, their feed sectors will struggle to keep up with domestic demand.

A 2006 Food and Agriculture Organisation report showed corn yields in developing countries were not keeping pace with those in the western world.

For example, Chinese corn yields were half that of American farmers, while many other developing countries had yields just one third of the US.

"In spite of the advances attributed to the Green Revolution and the introduction of high yield maize varieties the possibilities of maize yield improvements in many countries has remained large as the degree of production efficiency, especially in the developing countries, still falls below major commercial producers," the FAO report said.

Demand by the animal feed and ethanol markets - not only in the US, but around the world - are likely to drive the global corn market in the foreseeable future.

Whether farmers can keep producing enough corn remains to be seen.

Feb 17, 2012

Maine farmer heads group challenging genetics giant | The Portland Press Herald / Maine Sunday Telegram

By Avery Yale Kamila akamila@mainetoday.com
Staff Writer
A fight to maintain consumer choice and farm independence has landed Maine farmer Jim Gerritsen on Utne Reader's list of "25 Visionaries Who Are Changing Your World," published in the November/December edition of the magazine on newsstands now.

Organic seed potato farmer Jim Gerritsen heads a trade association that is suing chemical giant Monsanto.
Photo by Charlotte Hedley


MONSANTO HAS BEEN raising the ire of concerned citizens since the days of its involvement in nuclear weapons development and its manufacture of the pesticide DDT and the dioxin-laced defoliant Agent Orange. DDT has since been banned in the U.S. Meanwhile, the legacy of Agent Orange sprayed on the people of Vietnam during the Vietnam War lingers on in higher rates of genetic diseases and shockingly deformed stillborn babies.

AMERICAN SOLDIERS serving in the Vietnam War also suffer from health problems linked to their exposure to Agent Orange and other warfare chemicals. Both Vietnamese victims and U.S. soldiers have filed class-action lawsuits against the companies that manufactured Agent Orange, including Monsanto.

MAINERS WILL REMEMBER the lawsuit Monsanto filed against Oakhurst Dairy when the milk processor began labeling its products as free from the corporation's synthetic bovine growth hormone. The lawsuit was settled out of court, with Oakhurst agreeing to add a statement saying the Food & Drug Administration finds no difference in milk from cows treated with the artificial hormones.

THESE DAYS, Monsanto is known for its genetically modified seeds, some of which create plants that can withstand heavy applications of Monsanto's herbicide Roundup. While purchasing Roundup requires no special license or training, independent scientists are discovering adverse health and environmental effects that appear to be linked to this chemical. Recent studies have suggested a link between Roundup and soil degradation, human cell death, infertility and a new AIDS-like disease in genetically-modified plants.

MONSANTO IS CURRENTLY under investigation by the Securities and Exchange Commission over alleged financial kickbacks offered to pesticide dealers to encourage them to sell more Roundup.

Gerritsen, wife Megan, and their four children run the Wood Prairie Farm in Bridgewater, which produces and sells organic seed potatoes to kitchen gardeners and market farmers in all 50 states. Gerritsen is also president of the Organic Seed Growers and Trade Association, and it was that role that led to the Utne recognition.

The nonprofit organization created a stir in food and farming communities when, with legal backing from the Public Patent Foundation, it filed a lawsuit in March against the chemical and biotechnology giant Monsanto. OSGATA has since been joined in the lawsuit by 82 other seed businesses, trade organizations and family farmers, which together represent more than 270,000 people.

The lawsuit questions the validity of Monsanto's patents on genetically modified seeds, and seeks protection from patent-infringement lawsuits for the plaintiffs should their crops become contaminated with Monsanto's transgenic crops.

"The viewpoint of Monsanto is that (in such a situation) we have their technology, even though we don't want it and it has zero value in the organic market," Gerritsen said. "We think they should keep their pollution on their side of the fence."

Laws prohibit certified organic crops from containing genetically modified ingredients, and Monsanto's patents prohibit farmers from growing its seeds unless purchased from the company. Yet pollen doesn't heed certification or patent laws, and regularly drifts from transgenic crops to contaminate nearby non-genetically altered ones.

To add insult to injury, Monsanto has a reputation for suing or threatening to sue farmers for patent infringement in cases involving its genetically altered seeds, action reported in numerous media outlets as wide ranging as the Columbia Daily Tribune, CBS News and the New York Times.

Despite this well documented legal tactic, Monsanto spokesperson Thomas Helscher stated in an email: "Monsanto has never sued and has publicly committed to not sue farmers over the inadvertent presence of biotechnology traits in their fields. The company does not and will not pursue legal action against a farmer where patented seed or traits are found in that farmer's field as a result of unintentional means."

"Inadvertent" and "unintentional" are the key words here, but for farmers to prove that Monsanto's transgenic seeds are unwanted invaders in a court of law is an expensive and time-consuming endeavor. A 2005 report from the Center for Food Safety, an organic-food and sustainable agriculture advocacy group, contends that Monsanto had at that time filed 90 lawsuits against American farmers. The report also contends that the corporation employed 75 people armed with a budget of $10 million devoted "solely to investigating and prosecuting farmers."

Pre-trial motions are still being filed in the lawsuit brought by OSGATA, with the most recent from Monsanto asking that the lawsuit be dismissed.

Helscher said the motion to dismiss results from the corporation's pledge to not sue farmers "where patented seed or traits are found in that farmer's field as a result of inadvertent means. Accordingly, there is no real controversy between parties and the OSGATA case should be dismissed."

Gerritsen views Monsanto's statements as part of a disinformation campaign designed to prolong the lawsuit.

"What they typically try to do is drag out lawsuits as long as they can, hoping the plaintiffs will run out of funding," Gerritsen said. He is confident OSGATA has the resources necessary to pursue this lawsuit for years, if necessary.

Unlike open pollinated crops such as corn and canola, which have suffered from widespread contamination by genetically modified seeds, potatoes remain relatively safe, Gerritsen said.

Monsanto developed multiple strains of transgenic potatoes in the 1990s under the name New Leaf. However, when major food companies such as McCain, which operates a french fry processing plant in Easton, and McDonald's rejected genetically-modified potatoes, Monsanto was forced to pull its transgenic strains off the market.

Gerritsen said the lawsuit will also seek to clarify what he sees as Monsanto's contradictory stance on its genetically modified seeds.

When arguing against labeling of transgenic food, Monsanto and other biotech companies claim that genetically modified seeds are substantially equivalent to traditional seeds. However, when seeking patents, the same companies claim the insertion of foreign genes creates unique seeds deserving of patent protection.

"Which is it?" Gerritsen asked. "It's one or other, but it can't be both. Is it the same? Or is it different?"

All genetically modified seeds are designed to do something different from the original seed. This can mean the modified seed will produce increased quantities of a particular substance inherent to the plant, manufacture chemicals foreign to the original plant, or withstand heavy applications of herbicides and pesticides manufactured by the same corporation seeking the seed patent.

Helscher said, "these genetic modifications in seeds do not significantly change composition, nutrition or safety of resulting food products and thus the food products are not required to be labeled." He did not comment on why seeds that he states do not contain significant changes from the originals would merit patent protection.

Despite Monsanto's legal muscle, Gerritsen remains convinced the current lawsuit will succeed. He also sees hope in the Occupy Wall Street movement, which has spread rapidly around the world and has demanded an end to corporate greed and dominance.

"What I understand the Occupy movement to represent is resistance to the growing tradition of power concentrated in the hands of the few, which is most often corporations," Gerritsen said.

Citing the revolving door between corporations (including Monsanto) and the government agencies which purport to regulate them, Gerritsen said, "we basically have a dysfunctional government. The Occupy Wall Street concept is to try to give power back to the people."

In the same vein, the lawsuit against Monsanto seeks to restore the power of citizens and farmers to choose food free from genetically modified organisms.

Staff Writer Avery Yale Kamila can be contacted at 791-6297 or at: akamila@pressherald.com

I Stand with Farmers vs. Monsanto

Uploaded by fooddemocracynow on Feb 15, 2012

On January 31, 2012, 55 farmers and plaintiffs traveled to Manhattan to hear oral arguments regarding Monsanto's motion to dismiss their lawsuit, Organic Seed Growers and Trade Association (OSGATA) vs. Monsanto filed earlier this summer. At the heart of the lawsuit is the threat that family farmers face due to genetic trespass as a result of Monsanto's genetically modified (GMO) seed and the aggressive enforcement of the biotech seed and chemical giant's alleged patent rights. In court, Federal Judge Naomi Buchwald declared that she would rule on the motion to dismiss the trial or move forward in the next 60 days or by March 31st. If you want to support America's farmers, click here to say, "I Stand with Farmers vs. Monsanto!" --http://action.fooddemocracynow.org/sign/farmersvs_monsanto/

Newest Threat to IL Tree Population is Thousand Cankers Disease

Larger Image

*Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey

*Photo by Jim LaBonte, Oregon Department of Agriculture.

*Photo by Jim LaBonte, Oregon Department of Agriculture.

Walnut twig beetle and associated staining around tunnel.

Coalescing branch cankers produced by Geosmithia.

Adult twig beetle tunneling on excised stem after 24 hours.

Large trunk cankers of black walnut.
*Photos courtesy of Colorado State University

The disease preys on Black Walnut trees. According to IDOA, Illinois has approximately 2.3 million acres of forests that may contain black walnut trees.
Compiled by staff
Published: Feb 17, 2012

Governor Pat Quinn has proclaimed Thousand Cankers Disease (TCD) to be a viable threat to Illinois' native Black Walnut tree population. Quinn approved regulatory measures this month to restrict the movement of potentially-infested products into Illinois as a preventative measure to protect the economical and environmental well-being of Illinois' walnut tree industry.

"Illinois has 2.3 million acres of forests that may contain black walnut and be susceptible to this disease," H.W. Devlin, acting director of the Illinois Department of Agriculture, says. "Though TCD currently is not known to be here, these measures were warranted to protect our state's walnut resources."

Thousand Cankers Disease is a highly-contagious, invasive fungus primarily affecting North America's Black Walnut tree population. It is spread by the Walnut Twig Beetle (WTB), which introduces fungal spores into the tree when they form galleries in the phloem. The fungus colonizes the area around the galleries, forming cankers that cause a disruption of the flow of nutrients throughout the tree, resulting in dieback, decline, and eventually, death of the tree.

Because there are no current management strategies for TCD, the regulation of product movement is necessary to protect Illinois' walnut trees and walnut tree industry.

Individuals and businesses wishing to move regulated materials into or through Illinois that originate in a Thousand Cankers Disease infested area now must enter into a compliance agreement with the Illinois Department of Agriculture. The materials must be accompanied by a phytosanitary certificate from the originating state verifying they comply with the conditions of the compliance agreement.

All regulated materials originating in areas not known to be infested with Thousand Cankers Disease now must be accompanied by proof of the harvest location of the wood by county and state.

"Regulated articles" are defined as the following:

1) All plants, plant parts, and products of the genus Juglans; articles of Juglans, including but not limited to logs, green lumber, firewood, nursery stock, bark, mulch, burls, stumps, and packing materials;

2) Any of the above said materials passing through a known infested state, regardless of origin;

3) All life stages of the Walnut Twig Beetle (Pityophthorus juglandis);

4) All life stages of the Geosmithia fungus (Geosmithia morbida);

5) Any article, product, or means of conveyance when it is determined by the Illinois Department of Agriculture to present a risk of spread of the Walnut Twig Beetle or the Geosmithia fungus. Exceptions are nuts, nutmeat, and hulls, processed lumber (100% bark free and kiln dried, with squared edges), and finished wood products without bark, including but not limited to walnut furniture, musical instruments, and gun stocks.

For more information regarding TCD, visit the Illinois Department of Agriculture's website at www.agr.state.il.us and click on the Thousand Cankers Link on the right.

Walnut Resource in Illinois
• Approximately 12% of Illinois is forested (4.4 million acres). Of that forested land in Illinois,
53% of the forest cover consists of oak and hickory. Included in the hickory family is black
• We estimate that nearly 2.3 million acres of Illinois forests may contain black walnut and are
thus susceptible to TCD.
• These numbers do not include cultivated stands of walnut that occur throughout the state or
urban trees.
• Average Annual Net Growth of Black Walnut in Forests = 144 Million Board Feet1
• Illinois ranks 5th in the U.S. with regard to volume of black walnut growing stock on
• Volume of Black Walnut Sawtimber Trees in Forests = 885 Million Board Feet (for 11 inch
diameter trees or larger) 1
• Black Walnut Trees Harvested per Year = 120,000 *based on Doyle log scale using 20”
diameter tree with saw-log of 16’ per tree1
• Walnut Board Harvested per Year = 15.6 Million Board Feet1
• Value of Black Walnut Harvested per Year = $13.1 million (paid as stumpage price to owner)
or $18.3 million (paid as logs at mill price to loggers) *lowest conservative estimates of log
value sold from forest without added value of veneer. Does not include added value of
manufacturing, re-selling, export, or retail products. 1

Illinois at Risk
• Any activity that allows rapid movement of commodities also allows the development of fastmoving
• Illinois has 2 of the largest rail gateways: Chicago (nation’s primary rail gateway) and East
St. Louis.7
• Illinois has an interstate highway systems of >2,000 miles and >34,000 miles of other
highways. Three coast-to-coast interstates (I-80, I-90, and I-70) pass through Illinois.
• Illinois has over 1,000 miles of navigable waterways. 7
• Potential long-distance pathways of dissemination include: raw timber (veneer quality logs,
saw logs, burls, stumps), firewood, wood packing material, nursery stock, scion wood for
grafting, nuts, and natural spread.9
• A key pathway of forest pest movement is raw wood, particularly with bark still intact.9
• Compliance agreements are held by 43 firewood importers according to the Illinois
Department of Agriculture. Emerald ash borer (EAB) state compliance agreements number
1329 while there are 159 federal EAB compliance agreements.
• University of Illinois Extension Forestry states there are significantly more than 100 sawmills
in Illinois.
• Solid wood packing material (SWPM) is a potential pathway for the movement of exotic bark
beetles, including WTB as SWPM is often made of unprocessed raw wood. The National
Wooden Pallet Association estimates that 1.2 billion pallets are currently in circulation in the
United States, with 93% of all goods moving on those pallets. 9
• Illinois Department of Agriculture has more than 700 certified/licensed nurseries and over
3,400 certified nursery stock dealers.

Related Links:
Permies.com Forum - Thousand Cankers Disease TCD at permies.com
Farm Progress.com/Article
Thousand Cankers Black Walnut Disease
In response to the Thousand Cankers Disease (TCD) threat, on February 1, 2012, the Governor of the State of Illinois issued a proclamation which established a regulatory framework to protect the walnut resource of the state. The proclamation restricts the movement of certain regulated articles into or through Illinois and establishes a process by which individuals and businesses can continue to move those articles without endangering the state's walnut resource.

Feb 16, 2012

The story of GiveLove.org - Haiti - Joseph Jenkins, Humanure Handbook, and Loveable Loo® toilets

Full Site: GiveLove.org 

Summary Video of Work
Uploaded by jcjenkins01 on Sep 20, 2011

Ecological compost toilets based on the "hot compost" method developed in post-earthquake Haiti in 2010 and 2011 by GiveLove.org.

GiveLove.org - "When you work on improving sanitation, like we do in Haiti, you start to really see the big picture. Sanitation is the keystone to solving so many problems in the world-- improving public health, reducing child mortality, recycling and reducing waste, and protecting water resources -- and yet no one is really talking about the problem of untreated sewage or the fact that 40 % of the world’s poorest people live without a toilet. The global community needs to commit resources to finding sustainable solutions.”


Ecological Sanitation is a bold new approach to sanitation and resource management that recognizes the importance of recycling.

Eco-san is a low-cost management practice that enables the complete or partial recovery of nutrients found in common household waste such as greywater, food scraps, and human excreta (urine and feces).

Through a process of containment, sanitization, and recycling, these organic products can be re-used safely to rebuild soil, prevent pollution of water resources, and increase agricultural productivity.

There are many different approaches to eco-sanitation and different kinds of compost toilets, but all of these systems offer exciting alternatives for people living without any sanitation at all.


Most people don’t know that you can safely treat and recycle human urine and feces (Humanure) by composting it. Ecological Sanitation recognizes the value in recycling the valuable nutrients in all organic matter, and protecting scarce resources like water and soil.

Joseph Jenkins Slide Presentation of Haiti Work

Uploaded by jcjenkins01 on Feb 13, 2011
This "Compost Sanitation" presentation was delivered at the U. S. Compost Council 2011 conference in Santa Clara, California by Joseph Jenkins. It has been condensed to 15 minutes due to YouTube restrictions. It outlines the compost sanitation work Jenkins did with Sasha Kramer's SOIL (OurSoil.org) and Patricia Arquette's GiveLove.org in Haiti with Joseph Jenkins  in 2010. It shows how to make toilets that do not create odors, attract flies, or pollute the environment in any way, nor do they require water, electricity or unreasonable expense. The "humanure toilet" concept is based on Jenkins book, The Humanure Handbook.

Loveable Loo® Toliet Construction

Uploaded by jcjenkins01 on Apr 21, 2011
The Loveable Loo® is a toilet designed to make compost. It does not require water, electricity, vents, plumbing, wires, pipes or urine separation. It is an essential component in a very simple process in which "humanure" is recycled by composting in compost bins separate from the toilet. This video shows how we make the Loo, which is available at LoveableLoo.com

Loveable Loo® Toliet Assembly

Uploaded by jcjenkins01 on Apr 22, 2011
The Loveable Loo is an inexpensive waterless, odorless compost toilet that requires no electricity, vents, plumbing, pipes or urine separation. It can be bought in an unfinished flat-pack kit form that requires some assembly. This video shows the simple operation of how to put the kit together.

Joe Jenkins in Mongolia - check out dinner menu at end... (-:

Uploaded by jcjenkins01 on Apr 27, 2011
Joe Jenkins went to Mongolia in 2006 (three times) to teach the people how to make compost toilets, also known as "humanure toilets." This short video clip shows a few random scenes from the first trip.

This story proves the power of an individual to help change the world to be a better place!  ... Monte & Eileen Hines

Related Links:

USAID to Incorporate Permaculture in Aid Work Permaculture Research Institute

by Craig Mackintosh PRI Editor February 17, 2012
Full Article: http://permaculture.org.au/2012/02/17/usaid-to-incorporate-permaculture-in-aid-work/

Excellent brief! ... Monte

The growing food crisis has struggled to stay in the headlines since being highlighted broadscale in the mainstream media back in 2008, but it moves apace regardless, and I can assure you it will continue to do so, likely at a frightening rate. A 2012 Save the Children report shares that "Half a billion children could grow up physically and mentally stunted over the next 15 years because they do not have enough to eat" (BBC).

With this in mind, it’s excellent news that the United States Agency for International Development (USAID — "the United States federal government agency primarily responsible for administering civilian foreign aid" Wikipedia) is moving to incorporate permaculture design into its aid work for orphans and vulnerable children (OVC). They’ve just released a technical brief (right) to help expedite this.

From the document:

The purpose of this technical brief is to provide an overview of permaculture programming as a response to food and nutrition insecurity for OVC. It emphasizes the role of permaculture as a sustainable, non-donor dependent tool for improving the health, food and nutrition security, and livelihoods of OVC and their families.

Specifically, this brief aims to:

– Define permaculture as a development approach and design process, and describe some of its key concepts and principles – Explain why permaculture is relevant to OVC programming, particularly in the context of HIV, and list some of its benefits – Explain the theory and step-by-step practice of applying permaculture design in primary and secondary schools – Delineate the costs of integrating permaculture into school curricula, and into communities more generally – Identify the implementation challenges and make recommendations on how to overcome those challenges – Provide brief summaries on the use of permaculture in schools in South Africa and Malawi – Offer a list of resources and networking opportunities to OVC programmers interested in applying permaculture within their specific country contexts.

This technical brief is not intended to offer an exhaustive review of permaculture’s methodology. Instead, it serves as an introduction to its principles, and provides initial guidance and examples on how it can be used to benefit OVC and their families. The geographic focus of this brief are countries in Africa with high HIV-prevalence.

Senators take emergency oil reserve hostage to force Keystone approval | Grist

Listen and view Video!  ...Monte

16 FEB 2012 1:00 PM

Will the GOP ever stop pushing Keystone XL? (Photo by truthout.)
Cross-posted from Climate Progress.

Republican congressional leaders have failed to force President Obama to approve the Keystone XL pipeline. But that’s not stopping them from trying over and over again, taking hostages in the process.

First they used the payroll tax cut extension as a vehicle to force a decision on the pipeline in 60 days, even before the final route was identified. Obama was forced to reject the permit because there was no time to assess its potential pollution.

This week, several senators took a different hostage: our emergency oil supply. On Feb. 13, Sens. David Vitter (R-La.), John Hoevan (R-N.D.), and Richard Lugar (R-Ind.) introduced the Strategic Petroleum Supplies Act, S. 2100, that would prevent Obama from selling oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR) unless Keystone is approved:

… the administration shall not authorize a sale of petroleum products from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve … until the date on which all permits necessary … for the Keystone XL pipeline project application filed on September 19, 2008 (including amendments) have been issued.

In other words, unless the president approves Keystone, he cannot sell our emergency oil — even if Iran causes an oil supply disruption in the Strait of Hormuz, a hurricane or other disaster disables oil production or refining facilities, or any other type of event causes gasoline prices to soar above $4 per gallon. If any of these events happen, middle class Americans would pay significantly higher gasoline pump prices, giving billions of dollars more to big oil companies that made record profits last year.

These are not far-fetched examples — all of these situations occurred. President George H. W. Bush sold SPR oil in 1991 before the first Iraq war in case of a supply disruption. President George W. Bush sold SPR oil in 2005 after Hurricane Katrina knocked out oil production in the Gulf of Mexico. Obama sold SPR oil in 2011 to offset the disruption of Libyan oil production due to its civil war. In fact, Sen. Vitter praised Obama for the latter SPR oil sale.

All of these SPR sales lowered gasoline prices and prevented significant economic damage while protecting drivers from huge gasoline price spikes. Such emergency sales would be prohibited under S. 2100 unless the Keystone XL pipeline is approved.

Additionally, this bill threatens our national security, because it would give Iran more incentive to cause an oil supply disruption knowing that the U.S. could not legally access its 695 million barrels of oil reserves.

These hostage-taking senators would argue that the Keystone XL pipeline — like the SPR — is vital to provide oil for Americans. However, that is false. It is likely that a large portion of the tar-sands oil sent to Texas refineries will be for export [PDF], and would not be sold in the U.S. At a December congressional hearing, Rep. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) questioned the CEO of Keystone pipeline owner TransCanda about keeping the tar-sands oil in the United States. The CEO “said he could not guarantee that the fuel from the pipeline would stay in the United States.”

Watch it:

On Feb. 14, 800,000 Americans signed an emergency petition to senators urging them to stop trying to force approval of the Keystone XL pipeline. These Americans oppose the pipeline because it would lead to the doubling of Canadian tar-sands oil production, which produces 15 percent more carbon dioxide pollution compared to conventional oil, at a time when we must shift to lower carbon fuels to reduce the impacts of climate change.

The Senate is trying to force a pipeline route through Nebraska that is not yet identified, let alone evaluated to determine its impact on air and water quality. Because much of the tar-sands oil refined in the U.S. would go overseas, Americans would bear the environmental risks while other nations get the oil.

Sen. Vitter’s bill would force the president to approve the harmful Keystone XL pipeline just to get access to our emergency oil reserves and protect Americans from economic or security threats. Regardless of whether senators oppose or support approval of the Keystone XL pipeline, they should oppose this attempt to destroy a vital economic and national security safeguard.

Daniel J. Weiss is a Senior Fellow and the Director of Climate Strategy at American Progress, where he leads the Center’s clean energy and climate advocacy campaign. Before coming to American Progress, he spent 25 years working with environmental advocacy organizations and political campaigns.

Feb 15, 2012

The Best Birds for Your Garden

Created 2011-11-14
Birds will eat insect pests year-round in your garden, if you provide a few of the basic necessities to attract and keep them nearby. Here's how to attract 10 of the best birds for controlling garden pests.


Bluebirds sing for spring and for their supper of garden pests. The spring diet of the western bluebird (which ranges from southern British Columbia down to central Mexico and from the Pacific to west Texas) is entirely insects, especiallygrasshoppers! Beetles, weevils, crickets, and caterpillars—sprinkled with the occasional ant, fly, centipede, sowbug, and snail—are the meals of choice for most bluebirds.

They prefer to nest in sunny, open areas. Their perfect nest box would be mounted on a post within 50 feet of a tree (facing it, if possible), fence, or other structure away from bushy hedgerows.

Photo: (cc) John Benson/Flickr

Chickadees Don't let their sweet song fool you. Chickadees and their cousins, titmice, are pest-control champions throughout the United States and Canada. As much as 90 percent of their diet consists of insects—moths, caterpillars, flies, beetles, bugs, plant lice, scale, leafhoppers, and tree hoppers.

In winter, chickadees stay on patrol, searching bark crevices for hibernating insects and the eggs of moths, plant lice, pear psylla, and katydids.

To keep chickadees and titmice on patrol in the winter, provide some suet in a mesh bag or a feeder full of sunflower seeds. In spring, provide a nest box packed with wood chips. If possible, place the nest box at the edge of a wooded area.

Photo: (cc) John Benson/Flickr

Nighthawks They aren't hawks, but they are insect-eating superheroes that swoop over cities, fields, woodlands, and deserts, sucking up flying ants, flies, leaf chafers, mosquitoes, moths, and grasshoppers. Nighthawks even eat Colorado potato beetles, cucumber beetles, and squash bugs!

Although there isn't much you can do to attract nighthawks (they don't build nests), you can be on the lookout for their eggs and be careful not to harm them. Look for one to three whitish olive eggs with dark blotches on sandy soil (sometimes at the base of a shrub), on gravel (especially on rooftops), on a stump, or in an old robin's nest. Their breeding range extends from the southern Yukon to southern California down to Honduras and Nicaragua.

Photo: (cc) Alan Vernon/Flickr

Nuthatches Hopping headfirst down a tree isn't just nutty behavior—nuthatches are searching crevices for ants, scale, beetles, moth eggs, caterpillars, and cocoons. Nuthatches feed on seeds and nuts (hence their name) during the cold months, but in summer they're 100 percent insectivorous. They raise their young exclusively on insects. Three different species of nuthatches are found in various regions of North America.

Also woodland natives, nuthatches are more likely to settle into nesting boxes that are located in clearings in or along the edges of wooded areas. Fill the boxes with wood chips; cover the boxes with strips of bark to make them even more attractive to the birds.

Photo: (cc) Matt MacGillivray/Flickr

Phoebes These stealthy hunters wait on low tree branches, slowly lowering and raising their tails, then swoop out to snap up insects with loud clicks of their beaks. Phoebes (whose name comes from their characteristic FEE-BE song) feast on everything from flies, mosquitoes, small moths, flying ants, and small beetles to grasshoppers, crickets, and caterpillars.

Because these fearless flyers especially like to swoop down over water to scoop up insects, try using water (a small pool, pond, or water garden) to entice them to your yard. Since phoebes prefer to build their mud-made nests in, on, or around manmade structures, you can attract them by providing a nesting shelf or two under your eaves (located in a quiet spot, away from busy doorways, porches, or decks).

Photo: (cc) Manjith Kainickara/Flickr

Native Sparrows These include the song sparrow, chipping sparrow, and field sparrow (but not the so-called house sparrow, which is actually a weaver finch). Although most of the sparrows' diet is seed, it consists of more than one-third insects, especially during the nesting season. Sparrow seed eating is even garden friendly. They prefer weed seeds, such as from crabgrass, ragweed, and pigweed.

Their insect choices include grasshoppers, caterpillars, beetles, leafhoppers, true bugs, ants, and beetles. One warning, though: In warmer parts of the country, sparrows sometimes supplement their diet with winter garden crops—clipping off seedlings and sprouts. In these areas, just protect young seedlings with row covers or mesh screening.

To make it easy for the birds to nest along the perimeter of your yard, provide nesting materials like straw, bark, and pieces of string. Sparrows raise two or three broods per year.

Photo: (cc) Paul Stein/Flickr

Swallows In spring, insects make up 99 percent of a swallow's diet. These graceful birds (which include the famed, insect-eating purple martin) are excellent flyers and much of their food—flies, beetles, winged ants, moths, grasshoppers, and dragonflies—is caught while they're on the wing. A few species occasionally feed on the ground, chomping on ants, beetles, and other insects.

Swallows often nest in dead trees, in holes in the face of a cliff, or in banks along streams and roads. They also have a real affinity for man-made structures. Barn and cliff swallows build their characteristic muddy nests under eaves, in barns, and under bridges and culverts. To encourage this, build a nesting shelf under an eave and make a patch of mud near your garden. Tree swallows and violet-green swallows (a Northwest native) will also come to bluebird boxes (in fact, they're probably easier to attract there than bluebirds). You can buy houses specifically for purple martins, but make sure there's a pond or other body of water nearby, because purple martins prefer to feed on insects that live near water.

Photo: (cc) Linda Tanner/Flickr

Vireos Vireos prefer wooded areas, with most living their summers in the North and their winters in the warm South. In spring, 99 percent of their diet is caterpillars (their favorite), snails, moths, bugs, beetles, ants, and flies.

Vireos are most likely to venture into yards where clumps of dense shrubs and tangles of blackberries surround the perimeter, especially if it borders on a wooded area.

Photo: (cc) Dario Sanches/Flickr

Woodpeckers These well-known woodsy dwellers are more easily coaxed into your backyard than vireos. Of the 21 species found in North America, the downy, hairy, and red-bellied woodpeckers are most likely to drop by for a meal. The downy and hairy woodpeckers get up to 85 percent of their food by chowing down on wood-boring beetle and moth larvae, ants, caterpillars, adult beetles, millipedes, and aphids.

Woodpeckers might use a nest box packed with wood chips in a clearing along the edge of the woods. But they're even more likely to nest in old dead trees (or "snags")—so if you have one on your property, trim off most of the branches, and leave the trunk for woodpecker nests. These snags also attract and house other native creatures.

Woodpeckers will eagerly venture into your yard for suet or sunflower seeds in the off-season and eat your pests spring through fall.

Photo: (cc) New Jersey Birds/Flickr

Wrens Brown or gray plumed, lively and vocal, 10 species of wrens call North America their home, living everywhere from brushy woodlands, shrubbery, and marshes to rocky canyons and even deserts.

The Carolina wren is almost exclusively an insect eater in the summer. The widespread house and Bewick's wrens also have insect-rich diets. Most wrens search trees, shrubs, and vines for caterpillars, ants, millipedes, grasshoppers, flies, snails, and beetles.

Wrens generally raise more than one brood during the season, with six to eight eggs per brood. It takes a lot of bugs to fill all those beaks, so it's fairly easy to get these prolific birds to nest in your yard. They'll take up residence in nest boxes; in empty gourds, cans, and jars; and even in clothespin bags left on the wash line!

Photo: (cc) Paul Stein/Flickr

Continue reading: Learn how to attract beneficial insects to the garden.

Source URL: http://www.organicgardening.com/learn-and-grow/best-birds-your-garden

Architecture - Letters Decode the Myth of R. Buckminster Fuller - NYTimes.com

Courtesy of the Estate of R. Buckminster Fuller
A model of R. Buckminster Fuller’s “Dymaxion Dwelling Machines” community, about 1946. An exhibition at the Whitney Museum of American Art will offer a review of some of his grandest designs.
Published: June 15, 2008
Correction Appended
Full Article

AS the designer R. Buckminster Fuller liked to tell it, his powerful creative vision was born of a moment of deep despair at the age of 32. A self-described ne’er-do-well, twice ejected from Harvard, a failure in business and a heavy drinker, he trudged to the Chicago lakefront one day in 1927 and stood there, contemplating suicide. But an inner voice interrupted, telling him that he had a mission to discover great truths, all for the good of humankind.

That was the pivot on which, he claimed, his life turned. The onetime loser entered a period of such deep reflection that he was struck silent, then emerged bursting with creativity as he developed the “Dymaxion” inventions: technologies that he promised would transform housing, transportation, urban organization and, eventually, the human condition. From 1927 on, Fuller seemed utterly self-assured, even messianic, as he developed innovations like the geodesic dome, equal parts engineering élan and poetry.

Those pioneering creations will go on display next week in “Buckminster Fuller: Starting With the Universe,” a sprawling show at the Whitney Museum of American Art that testifies to the wide-ranging intellectual curiosity of Fuller (1895-1983), who inspired several generations with his quixotic vision and his zeal for the liberating power of technology.

But recent research has shed new light on Fuller’s inner life and what really drove him. In particular, it now appears that the suicide story may have been yet another invention, an elaborate myth that served to cover up a formative period that was far more tumultuous and unstable, for far longer, than Fuller ever revealed.

That is one of many insights gleaned by researchers who have begun exploring the visionary’s personal archives, deposited in 1999 at the Stanford University library by his family.

Because he believed his ideas and life would hold enduring interest, Fuller collected nearly every scrap of paper that ever passed through his hands, including letters that raise questions about the suicide story. At 45 tons, it is the largest personal archive at Stanford, according to Hsiao-Yun Chu, a former assistant curator of the papers and co-editor of a book, “Reassessing R. Buckminster Fuller,” to be published by Stanford University Press next year.

Barry Katz, a Stanford historian who wrote one of the studies in Ms. Chu’s book, said, “If you really look for the details of his life at the time, it’s easy to see that the suicide story was a creation.”

“There was nothing even remotely in the archives suggesting feelings on the scale he later described” in 1927, he said.

In 1927 Fuller, living in Chicago, and his wife, Anne, in New York, exchanged almost daily letters and telegrams. Not a single one makes reference either to thoughts of death or to an epiphany. In addition, Mr. Katz said, he found references to lectures that Fuller gave and other evidence that he was far from silent.

Mr. Katz said he found instead signs of depression and anxiety stretching from the time his first daughter, Alexandra, died in 1922, through his financial failures and, finally, the collapse of a torrid extramarital romance in 1931. Still, he said, the suicide story seemed to serve a purpose.

“That’s why I now call it a myth, but it was an effective myth. It gave a trajectory to his career. The story was constructed after the fact to show how he suddenly developed these new ideas. I think he came to believe the story himself.”

On a recent day in the library Ms. Chu gave a sort of guided tour of the personality known as Bucky, rummaging through boxes of his letters, overdue bills, drawings and writings. Over the course of the visit a detailed inner portrait emerged of a man known for his pioneering designs for inexpensive, prefabricated houses suspended from masts, a highly efficient teardrop-shaped auto and then a series of structural designs that were strong yet lightweight and remarkably graceful.

Ms. Chu held up a crinkly letter written by Fuller in 1931, when he was a regular at Romany Marie’s cafe in Greenwich Village and intriguing friends like Isamu Noguchiwith prophecies on how his automotive and housing technologies would help usher in a new era of plenty. “He used to drink like a fish,” Noguchi would recall years later in an interview with Time magazine.

What his friends did not know was that Fuller was becoming unhinged because of the collapse of an affair with Evelyn Schwartz, or Evy. Fuller was 36, with a wife and 4-year-old daughter, Allegra; Ms. Schwartz had just turned 18. The two exchanged letters almost daily, with Fuller writing that their relationship was “completely my realization of the ideal of love.”

He wrote of marrying her, of her apparent efforts to get pregnant, and insisted, “Evy you and I bear a universal responsibility of forward thinking for which we are extraordinarily gifted.”

But when she decided she had “gotten over” him, as he related it, Fuller unleashed a cascade of desperate letters. He admitted to stalking her at her Brooklyn home “so that you may have no feeling of panicky abandonment.”

In the most revealing note, feverishly scribbled in heavy block letters across four large sheets of onion-skin drafting paper, Fuller confessed that he had suffered a “nervous breakdown” in 1931 — not 1927 — because of the romantic tumult. “Later in his life, when he was lecturing all the time, people loved him, he made them feel very special,” said Ms. Chu. “He was an oracle, a guide, and he was so confident. But when he was writing those early letters, he didn’t know who he was.”

Jay Baldwin, a designer who helped to edit the Whole Earth Catalog (which was inspired by Fuller) in the 1960s, knew Fuller and wrote a book about him, said that he learned of the affair during his own search of the archives but chose not to mention it.

“To a lot of us he just seemed so much the master of his emotions, but I read those letters, and he just lost it,” Mr. Baldwin said. “It wasn’t the only thing like that. He wrote one paper about his ideas early on that sounds like a raving maniac.”

In Mr. Baldwin’s view those episodes missed the point. “Focusing on the affair is like spending all your time thinking about van Gogh’s ear instead of his paintings,” he said. “It’s very off track.”

Mr. Katz disagreed, saying that the seemingly crazy writings were important because they showed that in recurrent dark periods Fuller was not trying only to persuade others his ideas were important, but to persuade himself that he mattered. The letters, Mr. Katz suggested, were a form of self-encouragement as Fuller struggled to find a reason for going on.

Supporting that view is Evelyn Schwartz Nef. “Those days were really quite exciting because he was so convincing that he was trying to save the world,” she said in an interview. Now 94 and a retired psychotherapist, she recalled Fuller vividly. “The question I had is whether he was as convinced as we were. He was trying to reassure himself that he was something.”

Fuller’s daughter, Allegra Fuller Snyder, a retired professor of dance at the University of California, Los Angeles, said she was not surprised to learn that the 1927 epiphany may not have been literally true.

“It was a kind of parable of his interior thinking, really,” Ms. Snyder said. Because he had such a powerful personality and was so well known for his unshakable self-confidence, few understood, as she did, that he had interludes of real doubt, often because of concern for his family’s financial well-being, she said. “That was part of Daddy, always,” she said.

She recounted another occasion on which her father seemed to find inspiration at an especially dark moment. Fuller had tried to turn his prefabricated housing idea into a business after World War II by teaming with the Beech Aircraft Company in Wichita, Kan., and other investors. But in 1946, after prototypes were built, the project collapsed.

Ms. Snyder distinctly recalled her father coming home to their small apartment utterly despondent. She said she went to bed then got up in the morning only to find that he had been up all night working at a small wooden table.

“I remember very well that he was talking about this new thing, the geodesic dome,” she said. “That’s what he said to me. He’d been working on what he called synergetic geometry before that, but suddenly he saw the fusion of that with the structure. That was when the idea came together for him.”

By 1948 Fuller developed his first dome prototype; in 1954 he had perfected the structure and took out a patent on the dome, one of his more memorable, and profitable, designs.

For all his creative energy, Fuller’s legacy is slippery. By conventional measures he accomplished little. The efforts to mass-produce his houses, though written about widely, failed. His project to develop his efficient three-wheeled autos collapsed after an accident killed the driver of one. His soaring geodesic domes, built with a distinctive pattern of triangles, have been used — memorably for the United States pavilion at Expo 67 in Montreal — but never for the large-scale projects he envisioned, like the dome he hoped would cover most of Manhattan.

But Fuller had great influence through his design principles and his almost endless series of lectures and writings. His book “Operating Manual for Spaceship Earth” helped make him a symbol of the counterculture. He even influenced some Silicon Valley pioneers.

For Ms. Chu one of the great insights of the archives is the sheer number of letters Fuller received and wrote. He nearly always responded personally to every note. (When a former collaborator in his design work, Kenneth Snelson, wrote angrily in 1979 that Fuller was unfairly claiming credit for what Fuller called the tensegrity structure, Fuller responded with a 51-page rebuttal.) “He didn’t just write this incredible number of letters, he saved them all,” she said. “It was almost like they proved he existed, that he mattered. The files were almost like the proof he needed.”

As Mr. Katz put it, “Fuller’s greatest invention was not a house or a car or a dome. It was himself.”

This article has been revised to reflect the following correction:

Correction: June 22, 2008 A picture caption last Sunday with an article about R. Buckminster Fuller misspelled the given name of the former assistant curator of Mr. Fuller’s archive at Stanford. It is Hsiao-Yun Chu, not Hisiao-yun.

MEDICUS | Drug Quickly Reverses Alzheimer’s Symptoms in Mice


News Release: Thursday, February 9, 2012

CLEVELAND - Neuroscientists at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine have made a dramatic breakthrough in their efforts to find a cure for Alzheimer’s disease. The researchers’ findings, published in the journal Science, show that use of a drug in mice appears to quickly reverse the pathological, cognitive and memory deficits caused by the onset of Alzheimer’s. The results point to the significant potential that the medication, bexarotene, has to help the roughly 5.4 million Americans suffering from the progressive brain disease.

Bexarotene has been approved for the treatment of cancer by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for more than a decade. These experiments explored whether the medication might also be used to help patients with Alzheimer’s disease, and the results were more than promising.

Alzheimer’s disease arises in large part from the body’s inability to clear naturally-occurring amyloid beta from the brain. In 2008 Case Western Reserve researcher Gary Landreth, PhD, professor of neurosciences, discovered that the main cholesterol carrier in the brain, Apolipoprotein E (ApoE), facilitated the clearance of the amyloid beta proteins. Landreth, a professor of neurosciences in the university’s medical school, is the senior author of this study as well.

Landreth and his colleagues chose to explore the effectiveness of bexarotene for increasing ApoE expression. The elevation of brain ApoE levels, in turn, speeds the clearance of amyloid beta from the brain. Bexarotene acts by stimulating retinoid X receptors (RXR), which control how much ApoE is produced.

In particular, the researchers were struck by the speed with which bexarotene improved memory deficits and behavior even as it also acted to reverse the pathology of Alzheimer’s disease. The present view of the scientific community is that small soluble forms of amyloid beta cause the memory impairments seen in animal models and humans with the disease. Within six hours of administering bexarotene, however, soluble amyloid levels fell by 25 percent; even more impressive, the effect lasted as long as three days. Finally, this shift was correlated with rapid improvement in a broad range of behaviors in three different mouse models of Alzheimer’s.

One example of the improved behaviors involved the typical nesting instinct of the mice. When Alzheimer’s-diseased mice encountered material suited for nesting – in this case, tissue paper – they did nothing to create a space to nest. This reaction demonstrated that they had lost the ability to associate the tissue paper with the opportunity to nest. Just 72 hours after the bexarotene treatment, however, the mice began to use the paper to make nests. Administration of the drug also improved the ability of the mice to sense and respond to odors.

Bexarotene treatment also worked quickly to stimulate the removal of amyloid plaques from the brain. The plaques are compacted aggregates of amyloid that form in the brain and are the pathological hallmark of Alzheimer’s disease. Researchers found that more than half of the plaques had been cleared within 72 hours. Ultimately, the reduction totaled 75 percent. It appears that the bexarotene reprogrammed the brain’s immune cells to “eat” or phagocytose the amyloid deposits. This observation demonstrated that the drug addresses the amount of both soluble and deposited forms of amyloid beta within the brain and reverses the pathological features of the disease in mice.

This study identifies a link between the primary genetic risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease and a potential therapy to address it. Humans have three forms of ApoE: ApoE2, ApoE3, and ApoE4. Possession of the ApoE4 gene greatly increases the likelihood of developing Alzheimer’s disease. Previously, the Landreth laboratory had shown that this form of ApoE was impaired in its ability of clear amyloid. The new work suggests that elevation of ApoE levels in the brain may be an effective therapeutic strategy to clear the forms of amyloid associated with impaired memory and cognition.

“This is an unprecedented finding,” says Paige Cramer, PhD candidate at Case Western Reserve School of Medicine and first author of the study. “Previously, the best existing treatment for Alzheimer’s disease in mice required several months to reduce plaque in the brain.”

Added Professor Landreth: “This is a particularly exciting and rewarding study because of the new science we have discovered and the potential promise of a therapy for Alzheimer’s disease. We need to be clear; the drug works quite well in mouse models of the disease. Our next objective is to ascertain if it acts similarly in humans. We are at an early stage in translating this basic science discovery into a treatment.”

Daniel Wesson, PhD, assistant professor of neurosciences at Case Western Reserve School of Medicine and co-author of the study agreed.

“Many often think of Alzheimer's as a problem of remembering and learning, but the prevalent reality is this disease spreads throughout the brain, resulting in serious insults to numerous functions,” he said. “The results of this study, showing the preservation of behaviors across a wide spectrum, and accompanying brain function, are tremendously exciting and suggest great promise in the utility of this approach in treatment of Alzheimer's disease.”

Bexarotene has a good safety and side-effect profile. The Case Western Reserve researchers hope these attributes will help speed the transition to clinical trials of the drug.

Professor Landreth said modest resources funded this self-described “far-fetched idea.” Crucial support came from the Blanchette Hooker Rockefeller Foundation, the Thome Foundation, and the National Institutes of Health.

The Science study was co-authored by John R. Cirrito, Jessica L. Restivo, Whitney D. Goebel, Washington University School of Medicine; C.Y. Daniel Lee, Colleen Karlo, Adriana E. Zinn, Brad T. Casali, Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine; Donald A. Wilson, New York University School of Medicine, and Michael J. James, Kurt R. Brunden, Perelman School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania.

Visit Case Western Reserve University’s YouTube channel to view a short video about the School of Medicine discovery: http://www.youtube.com/user/case.

Founded in 1843, Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine is the largest medical research institution in Ohio and is among the nation's top medical schools for research funding from the National Institutes of Health. The School of Medicine is recognized throughout the international medical community for outstanding achievements in teaching. The School's innovative and pioneering Western Reserve2 curriculum interweaves four themes--research and scholarship, clinical mastery, leadership, and civic professionalism--to prepare students for the practice of evidence-based medicine in the rapidly changing health care environment of the 21st century. Eleven Nobel Laureates have been affiliated with the school.

Annually, the School of Medicine trains more than 800 M.D. and M.D./Ph.D. students and ranks in the top 20 among U.S. research-oriented medical schools as designated by U.S. News & World Report "Guide to Graduate Education."

The School of Medicine's primary affiliate is University Hospitals Case Medical Center and is additionally affiliated with MetroHealth Medical Center, the Louis Stokes Cleveland Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center, and the Cleveland Clinic, with which it established the Cleveland Clinic Lerner College of Medicine of Case Western Reserve University in 2002.