Recognition of Native Hawaiians

SUBHEAD: The state of Hawaii's fake sovereignty bill moves through the House and Senate in a stupor of self delusion. 

By Mark Niesse on 29 April 2011 for the Associated Press - 
  (http://www.therepublic.com/view/story/afa90ef9e1d4457db3e1f5f8a14d47f2/HI-XGR--Native-Hawaiians)

  [IB Editor's note: I'd like to know how the illegal entity that is the "State of Hawaii" can register "native Hawaiians" in their future government. The article below goes on to say this process will lead to a "political body overseeing their affairs". What kind of "sovereignty" is this? The article assumes that the Hawaiians have been left out of the great deal North American native people got when they were "recognized". I.m hoping top hear a response from the Hawaiian sovereignty movement on this.]

 
Image above: It's good to be a Native American but don't drink the white man's firewater. One of a selection of flasks of "Firewater" available on the internet. From (http://www.authentichistory.com/diversity/native/is2-drunk/index.html).

Laying the foundation for a Native Hawaiian government, lawmakers agreed on legislation Friday that grants them recognition as the indigenous people of the state.

The bill starts the process of registering Native Hawaiians for their future government, and it could lead to the formation of a political body overseeing their affairs.

The measure unanimously cleared its conference committee Friday and advances to final votes in the House and Senate next week.

"It's sending a message to the indigenous Native Hawaiian population that we recognize you, and you can do whatever it takes to empower yourselves so that you can achieve self-determination," said Sen. Malama Solomon, D-Hilo-Honokaa.

Native Hawaiians are the last remaining indigenous group in the United States who haven't been allowed to establish their own government, a right already extended to many Alaska Natives and Native American tribes.

Federal legislation for Hawaiian recognition hasn't passed despite more than a decade of efforts by Sen. Daniel Akaka, D-Hawaii.

But this state initiative gives Hawaiians a way to organize themselves and decide on their form of government, without having to wait for Congress to act first. It also may spur the federal government to act.

"It really is fundamentally a very significant step for self-determination for Native Hawaiians," said Clyde Namuo, CEO for the state Office of Hawaiian Affairs.

The bill calls for a five-member commission responsible for creating a roll of qualified Native Hawaiians interested in participating in their government.

Those eligible for the roll include Native Hawaiians and others who have maintained significant cultural, social or civic connections to the Native Hawaiian community.

Once the roll is established, they could hold a convention and create founding documents of their Native Hawaiian nation.

"It restores a modicum of dignity to the first people of these islands, whose kingdom was stolen illegally," said Sen. Clayton Hee, D-Kahuku-Kaneohe.

A previous effort by the Office of Hawaiian Affairs, called Kau Inoa, gathered about 110,000 signatures of people showing interest in a Hawaiian governing entity.

The people on the Kau Inoa list could form a starting point for creating the new roll of Native Hawaiians, if they decide to join, Namuo said.

In all, there are about 400,000 Native Hawaiians in the world, with about half of them living in Hawaii.

"The Hawaiian people will have their own destiny they can create for themselves instead of having other people telling them what they need to do," said Rep. Faye Hanohano, D-Pahoa-Kalapana.
Funding of $110,000 over the next two years will be paid by the Office of Hawaiian Affairs, which will administer the roll commission, Namuo said.

The roll commission would be appointed by Gov. Neil Abercrombie, with one commissioner from each of Hawaii's four main counties along with one at-large commissioner.


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GOP guts Organic Farming School

SUBHEAD: New Republican law closes award-winning high school specializing in organic farming for pregnant teens in Detroit, Michigan. [Editor's note: You can sign petition to the appointed "manager" of Detroit schools here (http://www.grownindetroitmovie.com/index.php).] By Sarah Novak on 29 April 2011 for TreeHugger - (http://www.treehugger.com/files/2011/04/callous-new-law-closes-award-winning-urban-farming-high-school-for-teen-moms.php) Image above: Poster for movie "Grown in Detroit" about high school program to grow organic food in abandoned Detroit. From (http://www.grownindetroitmovie.com/).

If there's ever a story that hit me hard, it was this one. I wrote about Catherine Ferguson Academy last year. It was the subject of the groundbreaking documentary Grown in Detroit. The school is one of only a few left in the country for pregnant girls or girls with children giving them the opportunity to stay in school. More than that, the school has taken advantage of the abundance of vacant land in Detroit by teaching the girls to farm. It's a stable trade which brings local nourishment to a struggling community all with one program. And now thanks to a unilateral decision which according to Civil Eats, "allows Michigan governor Rick Snyder to dismiss locally elected officials and put in place new ones," the school is on the chopping block and will close this summer, leaving the girls with nowhere to go.

The students at Catherine Ferguson Academy turned a small garden on their playground into a sizeable organic plot complete with apple trees, horses, pigs, and goats. In a country where, according to the movie, 90 percent of moms drop out of school because they get pregnant, there are far too few opportunities left for these young moms.

Pregnant Teens With No Place to Turn

These girls, on the other hand, have the opportunity to graduate and go to college. In fact, 90 percent of Catherine Ferguson girls graduate and they are taught with the expectation that they will go to college, according to Civil Eats. It's downright incredible. If this isn't working, than I don't know what is.

Students are taught to harvest, weed, clear a bed, and market the produce that they sell from the farm. See, that's the key. They're not just taught how to grow fruits, vegetables, herbs, and produce honey, they are taught how to market the goods that they grow.

Rachel Maddow reports on new laws which dismiss public officials and replace them without election while closing a school that's working without any push back. And a police department which arrests young pregnant girls protesting and then turns the sirens so loud that reporters can't hear what the girls are saying.

Video above: Rachel Maddow covers threat to Catherine Ferguson High School. From (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rBXRnZjYZWU)

Video above: Trailer for "Grown in Detroit" documentary about Catherine Ferguson Academy. From (http://kalamu.posterous.com/video-grown-in-detroit-nature-takes-over-a-ci).

See also: Ea O Ka Aina: GOP style Big Big Government 4/20/11 Ea O Ka Aina: Detroit Comeback 4/9/11 Ea O Ka AIna: Festival of Life in the Cracks 3/17/11

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Whither Goes the US Economy

SUBHEAD: Who is right? The economists of the American public?

By Raul Ilargi Meijer on 30 April 2011 for The Automatic Earth - 
(http://theautomaticearth.blogspot.com/2011/04/april-29-2011-whos-right-americans-or.html)

 
Image above: Cartoon by Clay Bennett on economic forecasting. From (http://filipspagnoli.wordpress.com/2009/09/15/the-recession-the-economics-profession-and-the-prediction-of-the-future).

There appears to be a huge gap between how Americans see the US economy, and how economists do. Indeed, there is such a widening chasm between the two that one could be inclined to think they can't both be taken seriously at the same time.

 An April 20-23 Gallup poll, released April 28, indicates that a full 71%(!) of Americans see the economy as either slowing (16%), in a recession (26%), or even in a depression (29%). Only 27% think the economy is growing. Gallup compares the numbers to those of February and September of 2008, and concludes that today more people think the economy is growing, but that seems a Pyrrhic victory, since the differences are not that great when you look at numbers of people who picked depression or recession:

In February 2008, it was 45%, in September 2008 69% and today 55%. In other words, those who feel the economy is in real trouble, not just a little bit, is still well over 50%. And we have to see that in the light of the fact that many, if not most, would have trouble defining what exactly a recession or depression is, and would therefore be more likely to just fill in "slowing".

Hence, a vast majority of 71%, well over two-thirds of Americans, think the economy is in the doghouse. But most of all, we need to realize that since 2008, over the past 2,5 to 3 years, untold trillions of dollars have been spent, in taxpayer money, to allegedly "save" and/or "lift" the economy. And this is the result.....

 If US party politics is your thing (it definitely ain't mine), Gallup also dove into differences there. And even though 42% of Democrats see a growing economy, vs only 14% of Republicans, what strikes me is that even among Democrats, a 56% majority "voted" either slowing, recession or depression, against a giant 86% of Republicans.

 Somewhat curiously, the richest echelon is almost on par with the average American, with 69% saying either slowing, recession or depression. Now contrast all of this, for a moment, with this week’s Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) statement that "the economic recovery is proceeding at a moderate pace" (already one notch down from last month's "firmer footing"). Then contrast it with an Associated Press survey of 42 "leading" economists (which was done prior to this week's GDP numbers). And allow me some "live" commentary.
AP survey: Only oil shock can stop economy now
The American economy is now strong enough to withstand Middle East turmoil and the Japanese nuclear crisis. Only a big rise in the price of oil could stop it now. Those are the findings of an Associated Press survey of leading economists, who are increasingly confident in a recovery that is nearly two years old. They expect the economy to grow faster every quarter this year. In part, that's because the economists think Americans will spend more freely in the coming months.
Sorry, can't help you there. Here's what Lucia Mutikani for Reuters said about yesterday's GDP report:
US GDP growth slows to 1.8%, surprise jump in jobless rate
Growth in the first quarter was curtailed by a sharp pull back in consumer spending.
Clear enough, methinks. Back to the AP survey:
Higher stock prices have made people wealthier. [..]
Well, actually, as we saw earlier this month in this Bloomberg graph below, stock prices make less and less people wealthier. According to Gallup, just 54% of Americans own stocks, the lowest percentage since at least 1999. Ironically, 69% of Americans still claim now is a good time to buy a home. Joe and Jane Main Street still have a ways to go towards enlightenment. They clearly see a problem, but by no means all of it.




Less trading and higher prices. The free market laws of supply and demand are broken and violated on a routine basis. And maybe the average American has clued into that more than anyone wishes to acknowledge. Maybe Joe and Jane can still smell a rat even if they can't see it. If you still need proof, here, again, is a graph that Mike Maloney dug up at the St. Louis Fed website, and that makes it very obvious how markets are manipulated:  

Consumer (Individual) Loans at All Commercial Banks - 6 years


My comment then: Apparently, sometime in early 2010 American consumers, virtually overnight, decided to take out 50% more in loans than they already owed. And the banks let them. Right.. Between the two graphs, I think it should be abundantly clear that Joe and Jane do not profit from the market manipulation their taxes are spent on. Yes, higher stock prices have made some people wealthier, that much is obvious. But that's only because the markets they are traded in are being heavily manipulated, using Joe and Jane's money against their own best interest, and even against America's very own real economy. Back to the survey:
The AP survey collected the views of 42 private, corporate and academic economists on a range of indicators. Among their forecasts: • The economy will grow at a 3.2 percent annual rate in this quarter, then 3.4 percent from July through September and 3.5 percent from October to December. That would be stronger than the expected 2.2 percent pace for the first quarter.
As we saw, the first quarter just came in at a lowered 1.8%. We would need one helluvan improvement to get to 3.2% annualized. Keep dreaming.
• Employers will hire more. The unemployment rate, now 8.8 percent, will drop to 8.4 percent by December. That's more optimistic than the economists' view three months ago, when they predicted unemployment would be 8.9 percent by year's end. The economists think employers will create 2.1 million jobs this year, more than double last year's 940,000.
Initial jobless claims were up Thursday, at 429.000. Then again, what could ironically help lower the unemployment rate is the fact that One Million Americans Exhausted All Jobless Benefits in the Past Year. Very conveniently, official statistics now don’t have to count -most of- them anymore as unemployed. According to an April 19 Gallup poll, US unemployment fell to 9.6%, but underemployment rose to 19.2%. Between the underemployed and the 99'ers, we're looking at a truckload and a half full of people who have an awfully hard time paying their daily bills. Added together, that's easily and at the very least 25% of working-age Americans. Include their dependents, and you're eerily close to your run-of-the-mill third world country.
• Average hourly pay, which has not increased fast enough over the past year to keep up with inflation, will rise. A majority of economists think pay will consistently exceed inflation beginning next year at the latest.
We get into dream territory again. Wonder what these guys base their predictions on. Seeing that for instance McDonald's just hired 62,000 people, a rise in average wages seems highly unlikely. Very highly. The trend towards lower paid work, if any is available, continues unabated. I’ll flip your burger if you’ll flip mine. As for benefits, you're pulling my finger, right?
• Consumer spending will grow 2.8 percent this year. That's a bit weaker than economists predicted three months ago. But it's more than last year's 1.7 percent increase, when many Americans were still feeling the effects of the recession. The downturn wiped out $7 trillion in wealth and eliminated 7.5 million jobs.
Yeah, sure. We already saw above that it was the very "sharp pull back in consumer spending" that dragged down GDP. And really, with un(der)employment where it is, and with home prices down another 1.1% in February, we get back to what remains the one biggest undisputed truth we’ve often cited here about the American economy (even if some pundits and experts blame the weather for the recent "disappointing" numbers): With un(der)employment numbers as high as they presently are, and with a housing market still mired in the doldrums and sinking further, an economic recovery in America is simply not possible.

Unemployment will need to go down to 5-6%, and underemployment to 10% or so, because if they don't, you lose far too large a segment of your consumer potential to lay any kind of foundation under that recovery, let alone a solid one. As for housing, the problem is even way more complicated. Real estate prices will need to fall more, and a lot, to make homes affordable again in a time of greatly reduced credit availability, but that same fall in prices will hammer Americans' wealth and consumer spending like there's no tomorrow, which will reduce available credit even more, which will further lower real estate prices and so on and so forth. There is no way to avoid going through this process, called deleveraging. None.

 Relatively high home prices mean lower sales figures, since very few people can afford to buy a home, even if they can get credit (think for a moment of those 26,000 new McDonald's employees).

Still, by the same token, relatively lower home prices mean large scale wealth destruction, even if that wealth is by now mainly virtual, and therefore a strong downward pull on consumer spending. When in the past I have talked about zombie money, it was mostly in connection with large financial institutions and the toxic assets they are allowed to hold in their vaults at 100 cents on the dollar, thanks to FASB 157 fantasy -or zombie- accounting. But of course zombie money exists on a much wider -though not necessarily larger- scale.

Everyone who today holds assets, such as real estate, or stocks, or yes, even gold and silver, will at some point need to acknowledge that the perceived value of what they hold has been hugely propped up by the government's refusal to mark assets to market. That is as true for your assets as it is for those held by the banks. The difference is that these banks have received trillions of dollars of your money in order to make the zombie accounting look at least somewhat credible for a while, while the same government that handed them your funds, has left you to your own means. That is to say, your own means minus what it gave away to the banks.

That part you will need to subtract from whatever it is you think you still own, because it's gone and it will never come back. The banks were bankrupt before and they still are; their losses are far greater than the trillions handed to them, which of necessity serve only to perpetuate an illusion for a limited period of time.

There would need to be spectacular economic growth for years into the future in order to just make a dent into everyone’s debt, be they institutions, governments or individuals. Such growth will not and can not materialize for a long long time if ever. The American economy can't even stand still, let alone grow, without a "healthy" housing market; it's just that big a part of the economy, a home is the biggest asset purchase of their lives for most Americans.

But we have entered a time where prospective buyers can't afford to buy at present prices, and owners can't afford to lose the difference between what they wish their home were worth and what the market will soon tell them it is. The AP survey piece says: "The downturn wiped out $7 trillion in wealth and eliminated 7.5 million jobs." I think those are lowball estimates even today. What's more, I don't see any possibility to prevent another $7 trillion in wealth and another 7.5 million jobs being eliminated.

 We saw this week that a Greek default, or debt restructuring, or pick your favorite term, will force Greek and/or other European banks to mark at least part of their assets to market. That Greek default is inevitable. The same is true for Ireland, Portugal and Spain, though perhaps not all of them this year. The amount of debt for these countries held by the main European banks, like Deutsche, Crédit Agricole, Société Générale, Santander, the Britsh banks, is huge.

Once a forced mark-to-market of assets starts, entire asset classes will be repriced around the globe, way below where their alleged value now stands. And your assets too will follow that downward move. Which means that Americans are right to be very somber about their economy, and that the economists AP surveyed are either incompetent or insincere.

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Total takes over SunPower

SUBHEAD: European oil producer buys controlling interest in American solar power manufacturer. 

By Ehren Goossens on 29 April 2011 for Bloomberg News -
  (http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2011-04-28/total-to-begin-friendly-tender-for-up-to-60-of-sunpower-shares.html)

 
Image above: Solar farm illustrating article about SunPower building an off grid system for the Air Force. From (http://www.theepochtimes.com/n2/content/view/40771/).

Total SA, Europe’s third-biggest oil producer, agreed to buy as much as 60 percent of SunPower Corp. for $1.38 billion, taking advantage of increased global interest in renewable energy. SunPower, the second-largest U.S. solar panel maker, described the acquisition price of $23.25 a share as a “friendly tender offer” in a statement yesterday after the close of regular trading. SunPower surged $6.08, or 38 percent, to $22.20 at 9:32 a.m. on the Nasdaq Stock Market.

The deal for San Jose, California-based SunPower may lead to more solar industry acquisitions as U.S. and European suppliers seek help competing against rival suppliers in Asia, said Kevin Landis, portfolio manager at Sivest Group Inc. “This is exactly what SunPower needed to compete with the Chinese manufacturers that are getting so much support from their government,” Landis said in an interview. “It also allows SunPower to double down on the technology improvements they’ll need to compete in the long run.”

 Sivest, also based in San Jose, held about 17,000 shares of SunPower at the start of the year. The stock has gained 72 percent this year. The takeover may trigger similar acquisitions by oil companies that consider renewable-energy manufacturers a way to improve their clean-energy credentials and may profit when surging crude prices reduce demand for fossil fuels, John Hardy, an analyst at Gleacher & Co. in New York, said in a phone interview.

 Cheaper Borrowing Costs
“This makes a lot of sense for Total, given the global shift to renewable energy, increasing concerns about nuclear power and high natural-gas prices in Europe,” Hardy, who has a “buy” rating on SunPower, said in an interview. “It’s a natural hedge against high oil prices and depleting reserves.” SunPower’s solar power plants become more profitable too because Total has cheaper borrowing costs, Hardy said. Total will also provide SunPower with as much as $1 billion of credit support over the next five years.

 “The fact that a global oil and gas giant like Total has made such a significant investment in a solar company is extremely encouraging for the entire solar industry,” said Shawn Qu, chief executive officer and founder of China-based Canadian Solar Inc. “Total’s investment demonstrates that solar is really coming into its own as a viable energy market, and traditional energy conglomerates want to be part of that burgeoning growth.” Shares of Total, which reported first-quarter earnings today that climbed 35 percent to 3.1 billion euros from a year earlier, rose 0.4 percent to 43.17 euros at 4:15 p.m. Paris time.  

Solar Rally
Jesse Pichel, an analyst at Jefferies Group Inc. in New York, said in an interview that other solar companies may also be acquisition targets. “This group is undervalued and at least some people recognize the value.” Solar firms increased after the announcement, which came six weeks after the nuclear-power accident in Japan. China’s Suntech Power Holdings Co, the world’s largest solar panel manufacturer, rose 2.5 percent to $9.29 and MEMC Electronic Materials gained 6.4 percent to $11.84. Canadian Solar increased 4.7 percent and Tempe, Arizona-based First Solar Inc., the world’s largest thin-film solar panel maker, climbed 3.4 percent.

Total is buying a solar-power company that’s less profitable than most of its peers even after improving margins in the fourth quarter. The company’s operating margin over the last four quarters was 6.3 percent, below the 8.1 percent average and 14.1 percent market-capitalization weighted average of the 37-member Bloomberg Global Leaders Solar Index.  

46% Premium
The offer includes both SunPower’s Class A and Class B shares. It represents a 46 percent premium over the April 27 closing price for SunPower’s Class A common stock and a 49 percent premium for its Class B common stock, and values SunPower’s total equity at $2.3 billion. The transaction is subject to approval from the boards of both companies, and must receive approval from both U.S. and European Union antitrust authorities. SunPower said its current management team will remain intact. Closing is also conditional on Total’s final offer including at least 50 percent of SunPower’s shares, the companies said. Deutsche Bank AG is advising SunPower on the transaction and Credit Suisse Group AG and Messier Maris et Associes are advising Total.

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Post Collapse Health Care

SUBHEAD: Without antibiotics and the array of petroleum based health care supplies there will be a lot less medical technology. By Dr. John House on 29 April 2011 for Nature Bats Last - (http://guymcpherson.com/2011/04/health-care-in-a-post-collapse-world) Image above: Civil War surgery table located in the Harper House, Bentonville Battleground, NC. From (http://www.flickr.com/photos/tom1231/2560334640).

I can’t begin to count the times that I’ve thought about the collapse of the industrial economy. Even before I knew that such a thing was not only possible, but probable, I was hoping for collapse, or at least some sort of radical change, every time I saw a poor defenseless little animal dead on the highway or I encountered an otherwise beautiful stream with piles of trash strewn all along its banks.

Now that I realize that collapse is happening, I find that sometimes I actually long for its rapid completion; particularly when I see yet one more example of my species’ wanton destruction of other life forms. Sometimes my longing is more selfish, like when I’ve just wasted several hours of my life dealing with the myriad obfuscations of government medical bureaucracy.

For all my bravado about longing for collapse, I’m well aware that life will be incredibly hard after, if not impossible, and that I’m going to miss all sorts of things, some inconsequential, some life-saving. Like hot showers every morning. My favorite movies on DVD whenever I want them. Chatting online to friends around the world. Ready access to food at the grocery store. Antibiotics. Clean water. The list goes on and on. So, when I wish that the proverbial other shoe would drop, I have to ask the question, “am I really, truly ready for the collapse of all that I’ve known?”

To answer that question accurately is impossible. I won’t know if I’m ready for collapse until after the fact. I’ve never lived without the industrial economy — not even a little bit. So, I can only imagine what it will be like. The ways upon which I’m dependent on this complex, stressful, confusing world we’ve created are almost innumerable.

As I’m a physician and someone who has hypertension (high blood pressure), I also wonder how ready I am to survive collapse when it comes to medical care.

Health care as we know it will not exist in a few years. Once collapse is in full swing health care will disappear almost overnight. Of all the industries in our complex world, medicine has become one of the most energy-intensive, technology-dependent, and thus fragile endeavors that exists.

I am asked from time to time how a person with disease X or malady Z can prepare to survive the loss of essential medicines or therapies provided to us by the industrial economy. In fact, when Guy asked me to write this essay, he suggested that readers might find that particular topic useful. While we may hope that those of us in the medical field will have some really cool herbals and old-time remedies hidden up our sleeves to cure all our infirmities, the reality is not very encouraging, I’m afraid.

To make my point, I analyzed the 25 most common reasons people come to my clinic. Of those, only a few had any kind of treatment that didn’t require some sort of petroleum-derived therapy. It’s important to remember, contrary to what those involved with “alternative medicine” may say, prior to the 20th century, other than opium, there were virtually no medical treatments which were effective with any regularity.

Of those top 25 reasons for seeking medical care, the number one reason — pain — is the one which we will still have the ability to treat post-collapse. Opium, and thus morphine, heroin, and so on, is derived from the poppy. Wikipedia has a wonderful article on this topic and should be required reading for anyone preparing for collapse.

There are many other plant-derived drugs; however, extracting them often requires a good knowledge of organic chemistry as well as a supply of petroleum-derived chemicals. Compounding this difficulty is that many such plants are only grown in certain regions of the world.

If there is any good news in all of this, perhaps it would be that many of those top 25 reasons people come to see me will disappear or at least lessen in severity post-collapse. For example, diseases related to obesity such as diabetes, hypertension, high cholesterol, heart disease, and low back pain should improve significantly. When people are scrounging to grow their own food, obesity-related illnesses will be non-existent.

Gone too will be people needing medicine for their depression, anxiety, and insomnia. I have no doubt that those maladies will still plague us, but I suspect that we will have much more important things to worry about. In fact, in a world where we are trying to protect our family and property from thieves in the night, a little insomnia might serve a useful purpose.

On the flip side is the hard reality that immediately post-collapse there will be outbreaks of all sorts of plagues and diseases which we in the developed world thought were conquered, such as cholera, malaria, measles, starvation, smallpox, polio, tuberculosis … the list goes on and on.

When it comes to preparing for collapse of the health care system, If you are dialysis dependent, or you have hepatitis C or HIV, or survive only with chemotherapy or radiation, the outlook is indeed bleak. For everyone else, there are some things you can do to prepare. I’ve started a short list. I’m sure there are many other things which readers can come up with, but this should get us going:

  1. If you take regular medication which isn’t a controlled substance (like opiods or benzodiazepines) and doesn’t require refrigeration, talk to your doctor about getting a few extra prescriptions “just for emergencies”. He or she may be willing to accommodate your request.
  2. Grow your own poppies. Nobody wants to suffer from severe, long term pain.
  3. Have at least one book which deals with medical emergencies in a wilderness setting.
  4. Take a basic course in first aid.
  5. Avoid the cities at all costs — those outbreaks of once cured diseases will center on large collections of people.
  6. Always wear good foot protection and other protective clothing and eye wear when needed. Remember, antibiotics will be a thing of the past (this is already starting, but that’s a different topic) and even a little cut can lead to death if it gets infected.
  7. Make sure your water supply is not contaminated by feces from humans or any other animals. Many diseases are spread this way.
  8. Wash your hands any time after you come into contact with blood, bodily fluids, or excrement.
  9. Avoid those who are sick. This seems harsh by today’s standards, but this was common practice in times past.
  10. Do your best to eat a wide variety of foods, focusing more on fruits and vegetables with a minimum of red meats.

I wish I had a more encouraging assessment, but as with so many other areas of our complex world, health care is about to go back to the stone age. Best wishes for us all.

• John House MD website (http://www.healthbydrhouse.com) .

Don't move to Pheonix

SUBHEAD: Changes in temperature and precipitation will alter the timing and quantity of stream flows in all Western river basins. By Brian Merchant on 26 April 2011 for TreeHugger - (http://www.treehugger.com/files/2011/04/climate-change-drain-rivers-already-parched-us-southwest.php) Image above: From (http://www.flickr.com/photos/wolfgangstaudt/241486985/#/photos/wolfgangstaudt/241486985/lightbox).

Chalk up another study that presents a grim forecast for the American Southwest -- a report from the Interior department reveals that the three rivers that act as 8 states' lifeblood may shed 8-14% of their volume in coming years. It's worth reiterating here that the Southwest is the fastest-growing region in the nation -- more people are still moving in, exacerbating the situation.

The AP reports:

the Interior Department said annual flows in three prominent river basins -- the Colorado, Rio Grande and San Joaquin -- could decline by as much 8 percent to 14 percent over the next four decades. The three rivers provide water to eight states, from Wyoming to Texas and California, as well as to parts of Mexico ...

The report notes that projected changes in temperature and precipitation are likely to alter the timing and quantity of stream flows in all Western river basins, with increased flooding possible in the winter due to early snowmelt and water shortages in the summer due to reductions in spring and summer runoffs. Changes in climate could affect water supplies to a range of users, from farms and cities to hydropower plants, fish, wildlife and recreation, the report said.

Of course, full-on droughts are increasing in frequency as well, and the physicist climate blogger Joe Romm commonly notes that we're witnessing the Dust Bowlification of the US Southwest. Add to the mix the fact that water will soon be scarcer than ever in the region, and pretty much all I can say is this:

Don't move to Phoenix.

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Lanai Challenges Big Wind

SUBHEAD: Hawaii state PUC asked to re-open bidding process for Big Wind project by Friends of Lanai. 

 By Scott Foster on 27 April 2011 for Friends of Lanai -  
(http://friendsoflanai.org)

  
 Image above: What twenty huge windmills might look like along the ridge of Lanai looking towards Molokai and Maui. Created by Juan Wilson.

This entire process has been shrouded in secrecy. The Friends of Lana`i (FOL) today petitioned Hawaii's Public Utilities Commission (PUC) to re-open the competitive bidding process for the "Big Wind" project. The PUC has already granted a waiver from their rules for competitive bidding, over a stinging dissent from former Commissioner Leslie Kondo. As a condition of that waiver, two named parties needed to submit completed term sheets by March 18, 2011.

Since only one party timely complied, FOL believes that the waiver is no longer valid, and the competitive bidding process needs to start over," said Isaac Hall, attorney for FOL. "Big Wind" is the State's proposal to build industrial power plants on rural Lāna'i and Moloka`i capable of producing 400 MW of intermittent wind power.

The 170 turbines would produce at best 12% of O`ahu's electrical needs, while consuming – and irreparably altering – significant amounts of land on both islands (25% of Lāna'i, should all 400 MW be sited there). The original agreement between Hawai`i's monopolistic power company Hawaiian Electric (HECO), Castle and Cooke Resorts (C&C) for Lāna'i, and First Wind Hawai`i (FWH) for Moloka`i, called for each of the two wind developers to produce 200 MW, but allowed for one to produce up to 350 MW should the other party fail to perform.

Given FWH's inability to secure land for its project, FOL considers the agreement null and void, despite HECO and C&C “offering“ to share some of C&C's portion with a new developer, Pattern Energy. Pattern Energy is not a party to any PUC Docket, nor party to any agreement with any public agency in Hawai`i. Despite claims to the contrary, FOL believes HECO and C&C have no right – and no authority – to arbitrarily "select" a new developer. "The entire process has been shrouded in secrecy.

 There has been no public discussion of costs, no responsible consideration of other means to meet the non-binding goals of the State's renewable portfolio standards, and no clarity on where the proposed undersea cable might surface on O`ahu. The process hasn't even determined from which islands the wind resources would be harvested. The rush to Big Wind should stop here and now," said Robin Kaye, spokesman for FOL. First Wind filed a letter with the PUC yesterday requesting similar relief.
Video above: Wind Fall-Out provided by Friends of Lāna‘i. From (http://vimeo.com/21933576).
Contact: Friends of Lāna‘i P.O. Box 631739 Lāna‘i City, HI 96763 Friendsoflanai@gmail.com .

Alternatives to Nihilism

SUBHEAD: Part Three - The one option that works is the one next to nobody is willing to talk about - using less. By John Michael Greer on 27 April 2011 for the ArchDruid Report - (http://thearchdruidreport.blogspot.com/2011/04/alternatives-to-nihilism-part-three.html) Image above: Publicity photo of Reagan on horseback - "It's Morning in America". From (http://gazelemsstone.wordpress.com/2010/08/28/ching-ching). A bit of retrospective may be useful at this point, as we close in on the core of the argument I’ve been developing here. The first post in this series, “A Dog Named Boo,” explored the sudden turn toward nihilism that seized America’s culture and public imagination in the wake of the Seventies; the second, “Lead Us Away From Here,” analyzed the fantasy of elite omnipotence and public powerlessness that became conventional wisdom straight across the political spectrum in the wake of that shift. The connection between the shift and the fantasy may not be instantly obvious to all my readers, but it can be made a good deal clearer by looking more closely at what happened as the Seventies ended and our society’s thirty-year vacation from reality began. During the Seventies, a great many Americans came face to face with the hard fact that they could have the comfortable and privileged lifestyles they were used to having, or they could guarantee a livable world for their grandchildren, but they couldn’t do both. The vast majority of them – or, more precisely, of us – chose the first option and closed their eyes to the consequences. That mistake was made for understandable and profoundly human reasons, but it was still a mistake, and it haunts the American imagination to this day. The impact of that choice is perhaps easier to trace on the conservative end of America’s social and political spectrum. Forty years ago, the Republicans had at least as good a record on environmental issues as the Democrats, and the idolatry of the unrestrained free market that pervades the American right these days was a fringe ideology widely, and rightly, considered suspect by most conservatives. For that matter, creationism and speculations about the imminence of the End Times were consigned to the fringes by most American Christians, who by and large considered them irrelevant to the task of living a life centered on the teachings of the Christian gospel. All these things changed in a hurry at the end of the Seventies. Why? Because the attitudes that replaced them – the shrill insistence that the environment doesn’t matter, that the free market will solve every problem, that the world was created in 4004 BCE with as much oil, coal, and gas as God wants us to have, and that the world will end in our lifetimes so our grandchildren won’t have to deal with the mess we’d otherwise be leaving them – are all attempts to brush aside the ugly fact that the choices made at the end of the Seventies, and repeated by most Americans at every decision point since then, have cashed in the chance of a better future for our grandchildren, and spent the proceeds on an orgy of consumption in the present. The squirmings of the leftward end of American culture and politics are a little subtler, since the Left by and large responded to the end of the Seventies by clinging to its historic ideals, while quietly shelving any real attempt to do anything about them. It’s discomfort with this response that leads so many people on the Left to insist angrily that they’ve done all they can reasonably be expected to do about the environment, in the midst of pursuing a lifestyle that’s difficult to distinguish, on any basis but that of sheer fashion, from that of their Republican neighbors. It also drives the frankly delusional insistence on the part of so many people on today’s Left that everyone on Earth can aspire to a middle class American lifestyle if the evil elites already discussed would simply let it happen, and the equally, if more subtly, delusional claim that some suite of technologies currently in the vaporware stage will permit the American middle class to have its planet and eat it too. Look beyond the realm of partisan quarrels and the same deeply troubled conscience appears over and over again in American life. Consider, as one example out of many, the way that protecting children turned from a reasonable human concern to an obsessive-compulsive fixation. Raised under the frantic surveillance of helicopter moms, forbidden from playing outside or even visiting another child’s home except on the basis of a prearranged and parentally approved play date, a generation of American children were held hostage by a galaxy of parental terrors that have only the most distorted relationship to reality, but serve to distract attention from the fact that the lifestyles chosen by these same parents were condemning their children to a troubled and dangerous life in a depleted, polluted, and impoverished world. The irony reached a dizzying intensity as tens of thousands of American parents rushed out to buy SUVs to transport their children to places every previous generation of American children proved perfectly capable of reaching by themselves on foot or on bike. It became the conventional wisdom, during the peak of the SUV craze, that the safety provided to young passengers by these massive rolling fortresses justified their purchase. No one wanted to deal with the fact that it was precisely the lifestyle exemplified by the SUV that was, and remains, the single most pressing threat to children’s long-term safety and welfare. A great many of the flailings and posturings that have defined American culture from the Eighties to the present, in other words, unfolded from what Jean-Paul Sartre called “bad faith” – the unspoken awareness, however frantically denied or repressed, that the things that actually mattered were not things anyone was willing to talk about, and that the solutions everyone wanted to discuss were not actually aimed at their putative targets. The lie at the heart of that bad faith was the desperate attempt to avoid facing the implications of the plain and utterly unwelcome fact that there is no way to make a middle class American lifestyle sustainable. Let’s repeat that, just for the sake of emphasis: there is no way to make a middle class American lifestyle sustainable. That’s the elephant in the living room, the thing that most of a nation has been trying not to see, and not to say, for so many years. The middle class American lifestyle, to borrow and extend Jim Kunstler’s useful decription of suburbia, is an arrangement without a future; it’s utterly dependent on the rapid exploitation of irreplaceable resources, and the longer that it’s pursued, and the more people pursue it, the worse the consequences will be for children now living, and for a great many generations not yet born. It really is as simple as that. Now it’s not at all hard to find books, films, websites, and speakers who say as much, but it’s intriguing to watch how universally these avoid the next logical step. What do you do if you’re pursuing a way of life that has no future? Well, apparently you read books denouncing that way of life, or heap praise on cultures conveniently distant in space or time that you think had or have or will have a different way of life, or engage in token activities intended to show that your heart really isn’t in that way of life, or vent your rage against whoever it is that you blame for your decision to keep on following that way of life, or fixate with increasing desperation on manufactured prophecies insisting that the Rapture or the Singularity or the space brothers or somebody, anybody, will bring that way of life to an end for you so that you don’t have to do it yourself. The one thing you apparently don’t do is the one thing that actually matters, which is changing the way you live here and now. That’s the rock on which the sustainability movement of the Seventies broke, and it’s claimed plenty of victims since then. The climate change movement is a good recent example. Now it’s true that there were plenty of reasons why the climate change movement followed the trajectory it did from apparent unstoppability a decade ago to its current dead-in-the-water status today. The ingenuousness with which climate change activists allowed their opponents to redefine the terms of the debate very nearly at will, and the movement’s repeated attempts to rest its arguments on the faltering prestige of science in an age when most Americans are well aware that scientific opinions can be purchased to order for the cost of a modest grant, did not help the cause any. Still, I’ve come to think that the Achilles’ heel of the entire movement was the simple fact that none of its spokespersons showed any willingness to embrace the low-energy lifestyle they insisted the rest of the world had to adopt. Al Gore, with his sprawling air-conditioned mansion and his frequent jet trips, was the poster child here, but he had plenty of company. It was because climate change activists so often failed to walk their talk, I suggest, that millions of Americans decided they must be making the whole thing up, just as the obvious eagerness of the United States to push carbon limits on every other nation while refusing to accept them at home convinced China among others that the global warming crusade was simply one more gimmick to prop up the crumbling edifice of American hegemony, and brought the movement toward a worldwide carbon treaty to the standstill where it remains today. The same blind spot continues to plague what’s left of the climate change movement. Consider former environmentalist Stewart Brand, who used to edit The Whole Earth Catalog, for heaven’s sake. Brand’s current position, retailed at length in his recent book Whole Earth Discipline, is that we have to run our economy on nuclear power because burning coal is bad for the environment. Now of course this argument is right up there with insisting that shooting yourself through the head is good for your health because it prevents you from dying of a heart attack, but there’s a deeper irrationality here. Ironically, it’s one that most people who had copies of The Whole Earth Catalog on their shelves forty years ago could have pointed out in a Sausalito minute: switching from one complex, centralized, environmentally destructive energy system based on nonrenewable and rapidly depleting resources, to another energy system that can be described in exactly the same terms, is not a useful step – especially when it would be perfectly possible to dispense with both by simply using less energy. Now of course the concept of using less of anything is about as popular in contemporary America as garlic aioli at a convention of vampires. Nobody wants to be reminded that using less, so that our grandchildren would have enough, was the road we didn’t take at the end of the Seventies. Still, the road we did take was always destined to be a dead end, and as we move deeper into the first half of the twenty-first century, the end of that road is starting to come into sight. At this point, we’re faced with the prospect of using less energy, not because we choose to do so but because the energy that would be needed to do otherwise isn’t there any more. That’s the problem with living as though there’s no tomorrow, of course: tomorrow inevitably shows up anyway. This late in the game, our remaining options are starkly limited, and most of the proposals you’ll hear these days are simply variations on the theme of chasing business as usual right over the nearest cliff. Whether it’s Stewart Brand’s nukes, “Drill Baby Drill,” ethanol or algal biodiesel or some other kind of energy vaporware, the subtext to every widely touted response to our predicament is that we don’t need to use less. The same thing’s just as true of most of the ideologies that claim to offer a more global response to that predicament; the one common thread that unites the neoprimitivists who claim to long for a return to the hunter-gatherer life, the conspiracy theorists who spend their days in an increasingly frantic orgy of fingerpointing, and the apocalypticists who craft ever more elaborate justifications for the claim that somebody or other will change the world for us, is that each of these ideologies, and plenty others like them, function covertly as justifications to allow believers to keep on living an ordinary American lifestyle right up to the moment that it drops away from beneath their feet. The one option that doesn’t do this is the one next to nobody is willing to talk about, and that’s the option of using less. Mention that option in public, and inevitably you’ll hear a dozen different reasons why it can’t help and won’t matter and isn’t practical anyway. Can it help? Of course it can; in a time when world crude oil production has been bouncing against a hard ceiling for most of a decade and most other energy sources are under growing strain, any decrease in the amount of energy being wasted on nonessentials makes it a little easier to keep essential services up and running. Will it matter? Of course it will; as we move into a future of hard energy constraints, the faster at least a few people get through the learning curve of conservation, appropriate tech, and simply making do with less, the easier it will be for the rest of society to follow their lead and learn from their experience, if only when all the other choices have been foreclosed. Is it practical? Of course it is; the average European gets by comfortably on one third the annual energy budget as the average American, and it’s been my experience that most middle class Americans can slash their energy use by a third or more in one year by a relatively simple program of home weatherizing and lifestyle changes. I’d like to suggest, in fact, that at this point in the trajectory of industrial civilization, any proposal that doesn’t make using less energy a central strategy simply isn’t serious. It’s hard to think of any dimension of our predicament that can’t be bettered, often dramatically, by using less energy, and even harder to think of any project that will yield significant gains as long as Americans cling to a lifestyle that history is about to relegate to the compost bin. I’d also like to suggest that any proposal that does start out with using less energy should not be taken seriously until and unless the people proposing it actually do use less energy themselves, preferably by adopting the measures they urge on others. That’s how effective movements for social change happen, after all. Individuals start them by making changes in their own lives; as the number of people making those changes grows, networks emerge to share information, resources, and encouragement; the networks become the frame of a subculture, and as momentum builds, the subculture becomes a movement. It’s indicative that the two movements that had the most impact on American culture in the second half of the twentieth century – feminism and Christian fundamentalism – both emerged this way, starting with individuals who changed their own lives, while any number of movements that tried to make change from the top down – again, the climate change movement is a good example – failed to achieve their ends. That’s the core concept behind the “green wizardry” I’ve been discussing here on The Archdruid Report for almost a year now. It’s entirely possible for each of us to kick the process just described into motion by using less energy and fewer natural resources in our own lives. There are proven methods and mature technologies that will accomplish that. It so happens that I learned some of those back in the early 1980s, and have a couple of decades of experience applying them in my own life. That’s been the basis on which I’ve selected the tools and techniques discussed here; for reasons already explained, I don’t think it’s useful to advocate things I haven’t used myself. The one great barrier in the path of starting a movement the right way, beginning on the individual level, is that it requires each person who takes up the challenge to break with the conventional wisdom and do things that others aren’t prepared to do. That’s a lonely journey, no question, and since this series of posts began with a bit of Seventies music, I don’t think it’s out of place to end it with the most famous desert journey from the music of that era "A Horse With No Name".
I've been through the desert on a horse with no name It felt good to be out of the rain In the desert you can remember your name 'Cause there ain't no one for to give you no pain.
Video above: America sings "A Horse With No Name". From (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9Y2WlpU8E_A). To borrow a turn of phrase from the song, that loneliness can be a place to remember our names or, more precisely, to recall that we have names other than "consumer" and "victim." It’s my hope that at least some of the people who read this post will rise to that challenge. We’ve got a lot of work to do, and there may not be much time to get it started before conditions become a good deal more difficult than they are right now. I’ll be discussing that last point in more detail in the weeks ahead. See also: Ea o Ka Aina: Alternatives to Nihilism - Part 2 2/10/11 Ea O Ka Aina: Alternatives to Nihilism - Part 1 4/13/11 .

Time to Stop Pretending

SUBHEAD: Uncivilization - Stories from the Dark Mountain Festival in May of 2010.

 By Juan Wilson on 27 April 2011 for Island Breath - 
(http://islandbreath.blogspot.com/2011/04/time-to-stop-pretending.html)


Image above: "Dark Mountain", by Daniel Richard, 2006. From (http://www.danielchard.com/gallery/past/DarkMountain.html).
"The end of the human race will be that it will eventually die of civilisation." - Ralph Waldo Emerson
About one year ago the second Dark Mountain Festival was held in Llangollen, Wales. There were several speakers, including Vinay Gupta and Dark Mountain founder Paul Kingsnorth: The theme was "Time to Stop Pretending".
Vinay Gupta is an Associate Fellow of the Institute for Security and Resilience Studies at University College London. I was a partner at Buttered Side Down – a historic risk management consultancy focusing on systemic risks like state failure and economic collapse. Paul Kingsnorth is co-founded the Dark Mountain Project with writer and social activist Dougald Hine. Believing that 'civilization as we have known it is coming to an end; brought down by a rapidly changing climate, a cancerous economic system and the ongoing mass destruction of the non-human world.
On the face of it the stories these two have to tell are frightening and negative. Most people will perceive their message as "doomster porn" and not contributing to "The Solution". Well, certainly, the stories from Dark Mountain are not the stories of how to save industrial civilization and make it thrive and spew green smoke. No, the stories coming from Dark Mountain Project are about how to survive the collapse of industrial civilization and thrive with nature and without the smoke. In their own words:
We are a growing global movement of writers, artists, craftspeople and workers with practical skills who have stopped believing in the stories our civilisation tells itself. We believe we are entering an age of material decline, ecological collapse and social and political uncertainty, and that our cultural responses should reflect this, rather than denying it.
We are not an ‘activist’ movement seeking new ways to ’save the world’, but neither are we interested in ‘apocalyptic’ fantasies about the future. We are simply seeking to respond, as workers with the imagination, to the reality we see unfolding around us. We aim to question the stories that underpin our failing civilisation, to craft new ones for the age ahead and to reflect clearly and honestly on our place in the world. We call this process Uncivilisation.
Here in on Kauai, in Hawaii, out in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, we seem mired in the false dreams of a system bent on destroying all life on Earth. Rather than focusing on the tasks at hand - to live well within the means this planet has generously provided in this earthly paradise - we are hypnotized at all levels of operation by the plans of disfunctional private and pubic organizations whose primary (and hopeless) goal is self-preservation. On Kauai we cannot even keep our small power cooperative from self mutilating madness. Below are two presentations from "Time to Stop Pretending". A central theme in Vanya Gupta's talk were that we in the G8 favored places on Earth are in isolated armed encampments of rich people who have essentially colonized the rest of the planet and plundered it. The mean level of wealth on the planet is approximately what the people in Mexico experience. What collapse means to those in the power elite "gated communities" that make up the West is that they will live like the average Mexican in the new world awaiting us.

 Vinay Gupta

Video above: Vinay Gupta presentation at Dark Mountain Festival 2010. From (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EkQCy-UrLYw).

The talk by Paul Kingsworth characterizes the changes in the Green movement over the last forty years. It has morphed from those who sought to change their lives, as needed, to allow the Earth to thrive. Regardless of a few successes by environmentalists, the machine of industrialization continued to grind the world into ashes - today Greens have been forced to accept a far smaller role of simply trying to maintain their lives without the complete destruction of the planet. Kingsnorth quotes a TreeHugger.com article to demonstrate the failure of environmentalism. The author writes:
"The success of environmentalism will be judged on whether we are able to halt, and even reverse, the threats that environmental destruction and resource depletion pose to our way of life."
In other words, the purpose of environmentalism is no longer to save the environment but its about saving our way of life. That is the wrong message and that is why the Dark Mountain Project exists.
 Paul Kingsnorth  
Paul Kingsnorth presentation at Dark Mountain Festival 2010. From (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gboAHIXqe6Q).

The questions we must ask and answer are would we live on Kauai without Western industrial civilization: without the powergrid, without WalMart or Costco, without cars and gasolene, without the internet and television? If your answer is "No!" you might have a hard time living anywhere in the future. That is not to say that none of these will exist in short order. What it does mean is your attitude should be shifted - Accept living in a world that does not have to have them for you to exist and build on that. Learn some art and some craft to fill the gaps and nurture your neighbors without burning down the planet and things will be as good as they can be.

 For more on the Dark Mountain Project: The Dark Mountain Manifesto (online) (http://www.dark-mountain.net/about-2/the-manifesto) The Dark Mountain Issue 1 (hardcopy) (http://www.dark-mountain.net/join-us/dark-mountain-issue-1) (http://www.amazon.com/Dark-Mountain-Issue-Summer-2010/dp/B004FVMGD4)

 See also:
Vinay Gupta on hexayurt.com
Ea O Ka Aina: Climbing Dark Mountain 9/8/09
Ea O Ka Aina: Monbiot vs Kinsgnorth 8/17/09

Note: Even after Fukushima George Monbiot (as well as Gaia discoverer James Lovelock) continue to support nuclear energy to keep civilization running.

 .

Better than the Republicans?

SUBHEAD: Five reasons Barack Obama will get four more years in the White House. By Ralph Nader on 27 April 2011 for Bloomberg News - (http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2011-04-27/why-obama-gets-four-more-years-in-white-house-commentary-by-ralph-nader.html) Image above: From (http://howcanoneknow.org/blog/2011/04/18/will-obama-shift-to-the-right-or-into-high-gear). The stars are aligned for Barack Obama’s re-election in November 2012. He won’t join Jimmy Carter as the second Democrats in 120 years to miss out on a second term as U.S. president. Five things are playing in Obama’s favor. First, the Republicans -- driven by their most conservative members in Congress -- will face a primary with many candidates who will advance harsh ideological positions. Michele Bachmann, Newt Gingrich, Donald Trump and others might as well be on the Democratic National Committee payroll. House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan’s reverse Robin Hood plan to cut more than $6 trillion in spending over a decade will provide the outrage, stoked by a sitting president possessed of verbal discipline. Second, the Republican governors’ attacks on unions are turning off the swing voters and Reagan Democrats in Ohio, Florida, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. Imagine the voter reaction if millions of workers lose their right to collective bargaining, and the impact that cuts in benefits and wages will have on their lives. Democratic governors, such as Jerry Brown of California, Pat Quinn of Illinois and Andrew Cuomo of New York, are cutting -- but not taking away -- workers’ bargaining rights. This is a politically useful contrast for Obama. Reagan Democrats, who have won many elections for the Republicans, are a big plus for Obama in the contested states. Third, no candidates are emerging to challenge Obama in the primaries. A discussion of Obama’s forgotten campaign promises and record would have public support among Democrats. Even so, the liberal base has nowhere to go to send a message about war, free-trade agreements, raising the minimum wage or union membership. Nor does a third party or independent candidacy pose a threat, given the winner-take-all, two-party system. Fourth, Obama has neutered much of the big corporate lobby’s zeal to defeat him. He decided from the beginning not to prosecute executives from Wall Street banking, brokerage and rating firms. Multinational companies are pleased with Obama’s position on trade, on not disturbing the many corporate subsidies, handouts and giveaways, such as the corn-ethanol subsidy. By 2014, Obamacare will deliver some 30 million subsidized customers to health-insurance companies. The auto industry is forever grateful for its bailout. Obama hasn’t moved on corporate-tax reform, tax shelters for the wealthy, or the preferential capital-gains tax treatment on the 20 percent service fees of hedge fund managers. Don’t forget last December when Obama agreed to extended tax cuts for the rich while the budget deficit gets larger. The military-industrial complex about which President Dwight Eisenhower warned in his farewell address 50 years ago, is still uncontrollable, leading departing Defense Secretary Robert Gates to express serious concerns. Obama has even surprised George W. Bush and Dick Cheney and his cohort of neocons, who can scarcely believe how militarily aggressive Obama has been on just about every move that liberals used to call impeachable offenses by former President George W. Bush. Then there’s Jeffrey Immelt, the chairman and chief executive officer of General Electric Co., who can attest to Obama’s outreach to big business. GE Capital was bailed out. The company effectively paid no federal income taxes on $14.2 billion in 2010 profit and received a $3.2 billion benefit. Immelt got a $15.5 million pay raise. And in January, Obama appointed him chairman of the President’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness while letting him stay as head of a company receiving many government contracts and having regulation problems with the federal authorities. The corporate state doesn’t get much better than that. Fifth, since the Republicans have little to offer by way of creating jobs, Obama need only show improvement in macroeconomic indicators, as Ronald Reagan did in 1983-1984, and proceed to showcase all the tax breaks he has signed into law for big and small businesses. Poor Americans who continue to bear the brunt of the recession are hardly going to vote Republican. It will be easy for Obama, with his oratorical skills, to paint the Republican-controlled House of Representatives as obstructionist, especially as he develops an economic plan for his second term. There remain the Black Swans, events that defy prediction as those in Japan and the Middle East have shown. Handling them with firmness and calmness from the White House is what most people expect of a president. Obama will surely not repeat Bush’s mistakes after Hurricane Katrina in 2005. Obama is averse to conflict with corporate power and disarmingly expedient in compromising with Republicans, leaving the latter to argue largely among themselves. The political duopoly lets the tactical Obama use the Bully Pulpit to his political advantage, even if his principles perish. Obama can look forward to four more years in 2012. .

Worst radiation yet at Fukushuma

SUBHEAD: A plan to increase flooding of reactor No. 1 containment vessel for emergency cooling may not be possible now.

By Tsuyoshi Inajima on 27 April 2011 for Bloomberg News - 
(http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2011-04-27/tokyo-water-radiation-falls-to-zero-for-first-time-since-crisis.html)

Image above: American supplied robots exploring interior of Fukushima nuclear reactor that is too hot for humans. From (http://freedomist.com/2011/04/packbot-robots-from-irobot-begin-work-at-fukushima-nuclear-plant-%E2%80%A6/). 

Radiation readings at Japan’s Fukushima Dai-Ichi station rose to the highest since an earthquake and tsunami knocked out cooling systems, impeding efforts to contain the worst nuclear crisis since Chernobyl. Two robots sent into the reactor No. 1 building at the plant yesterday took readings as high as 1,120 millisierverts of radiation per hour, Junichi Matsumoto, a general manager at Tokyo Electric Power Co., said today. That’s more than four times the annual dose permitted to nuclear workers at the stricken plant. Radiation from the station, where four of six reactors have been damaged by explosions, has forced the evacuation of tens of thousands of people and contaminated farmland and drinking water. A plan to flood the containment vessel of reactor No. 1 with more water to speed up emergency cooling efforts announced yesterday by the utility known as Tepco may not be possible now. “Tepco must figure out the source of high radiation,” said Hironobu Unesaki, a nuclear engineering professor at Kyoto University. “If it’s from contaminated water leaking from inside the reactor, Tepco’s so-called water tomb may be jeopardized because flooding the containment vessel will result in more radiation in the building.”

 Decontaminating Robots
Tepco plans to decontaminate the two iRobot Corp. Packbot robots before sending them into a building tomorrow or later to further investigate the damage, spokesman Takeo Iwamoto said. High radiation in the reactor buildings prevents engineers from working inside them, Iwamoto said. The cores in reactors 1, 2 and 3 and the spent fuels rods in reactor 4 have been damaged. Tepco has been using fire trucks, concrete pumps and other emergency measures for nearly seven weeks to pour millions of liters of water to cool the units after the accident. Tepco started moving the radioactive water, which leaked to the basements and trenches, to a waste storage facility on April 19. Tepco transferred 1.89 million liters of the water from the trenches near reactor No. 2 as of 7 a.m. today, Iwamoto said. The utility plans to install a second pump after transferring 2.5 million liters.

 Less Damage
 Tepco shares fell 3.3 percent to 412 yen today in Tokyo. The shares are down about 80 percent since the quake and tsunami struck on March 11, leaving almost 26,000 people dead or missing. Reactors 1 and 2 are less damaged than estimated, Tepco said in a statement today. As much as 55 percent of the No. 1 reactor core at the Fukushima Dai-Ichi station was damaged, compared with its earlier estimate of 70 percent. “We revised the core damage data because some readings on the containment vessel monitors were wrong,” Matsumoto said. “There was also a recording mistake. We are investigating why this happened.” The assessment for the No. 2 reactor was cut to 25 percent from 35 percent, while that for the No. 3 unit was raised to 30 percent from 25 percent. “It seems a reasonable estimate that three reactor cores may be damaged to a similar extent,” said Unesaki. The new estimate “doesn’t indicate lower or higher risks at the plant.” Radiation in Tokyo’s water supply fell to undetectable levels for the first time since March 18, the capital’s public health institute said today. The level of iodine-131 in tap water fell to zero yesterday, and cesium-134 and cesium-137 also weren’t detected, the Tokyo Metropolitan Institute of Public Health said today. Tokyo residents were told on March 23 that the city’s water was unsafe for infants after iodine and cesium levels exceeded guidelines. .

Japan Reconstruction Threatened

SUBHEAD: S&P cuts Japan debt outlook to negative on expectation that Japan won't be able to finance its reconstruction. By Ken McCallum on 27 April 2011 for Bloomberg News - (http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2011-04-27/japan-debt-outlook-cut-to-negative-by-s-p-as-quake-rebuilding-adds-to-debt.html) Image above: A survivor eats a rice ball in front of her destroyed house in the devastated city of Kesennuma in Miyagi Prefecture Sunday, March 27, 2011. From (http://newshopper.sulekha.com/japan-earthquake-dying-coast_photo_1764407.htm). Japan’s sovereign-rating outlook was cut to “negative” by Standard & Poor’s as the nation’s reconstruction needs following last month’s earthquake will likely add to what’s already the world’s biggest debt load. The outlook on Japan’s local-currency debt rating, at AA-, the fourth-highest grade, was lowered from “stable,” S&P said in a statement today. The company had reduced the rating by one step in January in the first cut since 2002. Moody’s Investors Service said last month the disaster may bring forward the “tipping point” for the country’s bond market. Today’s decision adds to pressure on Prime Minister Naoto Kan, who has yet to detail how the rebuilding will be paid for and how he plans to rein in longer-term fiscal deficits. As public spending increases, revenue will likely decline because of the economic hit from the disaster, with a report today showing retail sales tumbled the most in 13 years last month. “Japan has repeatedly suffered under poor leadership, but this disaster has made that point even clearer,” said Noriaki Matsuoka, an economist at Daiwa Asset Management Co. in Tokyo. “The government needs to decide how it’s going to fund its next reconstruction package.” Currency Slides The yen slid to as low as 81.78 against the dollar after the announcement, before trading at 81.59 at 2:24 p.m. in Tokyo. Japanese government bond prices fell, with the benchmark 10-year yield rising one basis point to 1.225 percent. The Nikkei 225 Stock Average rose 1.4 percent after improved earnings in the U.S. added to signs of strength in the global economy. S&P predicted that rebuilding will cost as much as 50 trillion yen, with 30 trillion yen its “central forecast.” That will require more borrowing, boosting net government debt to 145 percent of gross domestic product in fiscal 2013, compared with an earlier forecast of 137 percent, S&P estimated. Kan has so far submitted what he says may be the first of multiple supplemental budgets, worth 4 trillion yen. “Much will depend on Japan’s political leadership and its ability to forge a political consensus on how to offset fiscal measures in the future,” S&P said. “A downgrade is possible if Japan’s public finances weaken further over the next two years in the absence of fiscal consolidation.” Japan must work to restore its fiscal health while doing everything it can to rebuild, Finance Minister Yoshihiko Noda said after the announcement. Negative Outlook Moody’s today reported no change to its negative outlook for Japan’s Aa2 grade rating, the third highest, after a reduction from “stable” in February because of political gridlock. Japan’s public debt will probably increase 5.8 percent to 997.7 trillion yen ($12.2 trillion) in the year started April 1, from a projected 943.1 trillion yen last year, the Finance Ministry said in January. The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development last week urged Kan’s government to at least double a sales tax to 10 percent and to implement increases as soon as possible. The nation’s total public debt will reach 204 percent of gross domestic product this year, according to the OECD, the highest level among nations tracked by the group. “We’ll continue to work to maintain and secure trust in Japanese government bonds,” Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano said after S&P’s announcement, while declining to comment specifically on the change. Japan maintains its credit rating for now because of a strong financial system, a surplus of funds within the nation and a “diversified” economy, according to S&P. Bond Yields “Japan continues to have an abundance of savings, so bond yields are unlikely to surge,” said Hiroaki Muto, a senior economist at Sumitomo Mitsui Asset Management Co. in Tokyo. “If the central bank helps with reconstruction by adding further monetary stimulus, Japan will probably be able to avoid a fiscal collapse.” After spending to counter the global financial crisis, governments in developed nations are struggling to rein in debt, with S&P last week revising the long-term outlook for the AAA credit rating held by the U.S. to “negative” from “stable.” That assessment means that the firm sees a one-in-three chance of a downgrade within two years. S&P sees a “material risk” that U.S. policy makers may fail to agree on how to address medium- and long-term budgetary challenges by 2013. In Europe, ratings companies have this year downgraded Portugal, Greece and Ireland, with yields on those nations’ securities reaching records yesterday amid speculation that they will restructure debt. ‘Devastating’ Possibility European Central Bank Executive Board member Jose Manuel Gonzalez-Paramo said yesterday that such a move by Greece would be “more devastating” than the collapse of Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. in 2008. Nations to get ratings upgrades this year have included Indonesia, Ecuador, Chile and Brazil. Economists estimate that Japan’s GDP will shrink the most since the global credit crisis this quarter, before restoring expansion in the second half of the year. The economy may contract 3 percent in April-to-June, according to the median of 18 estimates in a Bloomberg News survey this month. Retail sales slumped 8.5 percent in March from a year earlier, according to a statement by the trade ministry in Tokyo today. None of 14 economists surveyed by Bloomberg News forecast such a large decline. Toyota Motor Corp. led a record drop in auto sales in March and retailers Aeon Co. and Seven & I Holdings Co. expect full- year profit to slide. “Everything is working against consumers, from the power shortage to a general reluctance to spend after the tragedy,” Yoshiki Shinke, senior economist at Dai-Ichi Life Research Institute in Tokyo, said after the report. “It’s looking increasingly likely that March was the worst month on record for consumer spending, and it’ll take a while before spending returns to pre-quake levels.” See also: Ea O Ka Aina: Terminal Decline of Japanese Fishing 4/15/11 .

Chernobyl & Fukushima

SUBHEAD: The secrecy of events at concerning Fukushima Dai Ichi are worrying many observers and interfering with knowing the truth.

 By Raul Ilargi Meijer on 26 April 2011 for Automatic Earth -  
(http://theautomaticearth.blogspot.com/2011/04/april-26-2011-race-to-bottom-goes-to.html)

 
Image above: Still from "Battle for Chernobyl" (see below) showing nuclear explosion in reactor building. It is similar looking to the explosion in Fukushima Dai Ichi Reactor #3 which contained MOX fuel and suffered an explosion different from Reactor #1.

As we remember the 25th anniversary of Chernobyl, it's getting clearer by the day that the level of secrecy exercised by Tepco, the Japanese government, and its international allies, rivals that of the Russian government 25 years ago. And the way things are going, Fukushima may soon surpass Chernobyl in the "secrecy files".

When it became clear that Chernobyl had spewed its radioactive clouds up to thousands of miles away, for instance to Scandinavia, at least the Russians went in with all they could muster, deploying the full force of the army plus tens of thousands of "volunteers". Japan today, on the other hand, is still mired in the denial phase. Which is becoming increasingly dangerous. There are increasingly reports coming out that claim that at least one of the explosions witnessed at Fukushima was not a hydrogen blast, but a nuclear explosion -in a spent fuel pool-.

And while there won't be an instant runaway reaction like the one at Chernobyl, simply because the reactor design doesn't lend itself to it, this should be reason enough for grave concern (as well as transparency, of course, but don’t hold your breath on that one). And there are other twist emerging. Professor Chris Busby, scientific secretary for the European Committee for Radiation Risks, states that a major difference between the two disasters lies in the amount of people living close to the blast site. So while the radioactive parts spread over a far smaller area, the immediate surroundings of Fukushima contain far more people. And Tokyo must by now even be greatly concerned about, well, Tokyo.

Which may well be a major reason for the ongoing "policy" of continued opacity as executed by Japan. Prof. Busby points to yet another issue that Tokyo is running up against: in his view, because there's still nuclear fissioning taking place at Fukushima, placing a sarcophagus over the reactor sites has no use, since -highly- radioactive material will then simply leak out into the ground and flow out to sea. Japan's answer?

An underground wall is being considered. They'd do much better to come clean on what’s actually happening -and what already has-, send in their army with all it's got, and get the smartest minds in the world together to try and find the best way forward. But since Japan has always been a highly secretive society, and the international nuclear industry is as powerful as it is rich, it's far more likely that they will continue to play down the impact, until they can't anymore, and the situation gets completely out of hand, so much so that Fukushima will indeed stand a chance for competing with Chernobyl as the worst nuclear incident ever.


Video above: Interview with Professor Christopher Busby on the 25th Anniversary of Chernobyl. From (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x-3Kf4JakWI).

 
Video above: "The Battle for Chernobyl". From (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wv3a4LXi_qc).

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State test on Native Hawaiians

SUBHEAD: Pratt was Native Hawaiian and was exercising customary cultural practices on undeveloped state land.  

By Michael Levine on 25 April 2011 for The Garden Island News - 
(http://thegardenisland.com/news/local/govt-and-politics/article_6b4b3f16-6fd9-11e0-99a1-001cc4c03286.html)

 
Image above: Isn't this how Kalalau Valley should look? Taro glowing in Limahuli Valley, near the beginning of the trail to Kalalau Valley. From (http://kupunakalo.com/index.php/site/field_visits/kauai). 
 
The Hawai‘i Supreme Court has agreed to hear a case in which a Native Hawaiian argues he has a constitutional right to take up residence as a caretaker of a remote state park on Kaua‘i.

The case, State v. Pratt, will go a long way toward deciding whether the exercise of customary and traditional Native Hawaiian practices is allowed even when doing so violates state laws or rules.

Lloyd “Ikaika” Pratt was cited three different times in 2004 for camping in the Kalalau Valley, part of Kaua‘i’s Na Pali Coast State Park, in violation of state rules. He argued that when he set up a camp, cleared land and planted crops, he was protected by the state’s constitutional promise that Native Hawaiians have the right to practice their culture and religion.

His argument was rejected by the trial court.

[Editor's note: We have been asked by CivilBeat.com to not reproduce the entirety of this article. For more see either the TGi article or its source - "Do Hawaiians Have the Right to Break the Rules" at (http://www.civilbeat.com/articles/2011/04/25/10523-do-native-hawaiians-have-the-right-to-break-rules/). Our answer would be "Yes" - in Hawaii Hawaiians can break the rules of the fake state and it's colonial masters.]
 
See also:
The Garden Island: Native Hawaiian Found Guilty 11/13/03

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