Bringing the focus back on Life

SUBHEAD: Data regarding the effects of radiation on the human body covered up by those who want the power of weapons and nuclear energy.

By Chiho Kaneko on 10 April 2014 for Fairwinds Associates -

Image above: Still frame of young girl having her thyroid tested in Fukushima Prececture, in Japan. From video below.

The Fukushima Daiichi disaster opened the door to see how this is not merely a Japanese crisis. It is a crisis that transcends geography and time.

We traced the roots of this crisis back 60-years to the fishing boat Daigo Fukuryumaru, or #5 Lucky Dragon, and American efforts to force nuclear power upon the Japanese people.

Video above: Presentation on conditions in Japan three years after Fukushima Disaster (19 minutes). From (

Hi I am Chiho Kaneko, a member of the Board of Directors of Fairewinds Energy Education
Whenever I return from Japan, people in the United States ask me, “So, how is Japan now?”
The Fukushima Dai-ichi disaster opened the door for me to see how this is not a mere Japanese crisis.  It is a crisis that transcends geography and time.

The situation at Fukushima Dai-ichi continues to be dire. Every so often, we hear the news of “yet the highest level of radioactivity detected in the monitoring well,” or “there was another breach in the tanks that are holding contaminated water.” But an average person in Japan seems to be paying less and less attention to the news. People do get used to things, even when they are extremely abnormal.
On this third anniversary of the Fukushima Dai-ichi disaster, I would like to talk about an event that took place 60 years ago.

A covert US military operation called Castle Bravo, the experimental detonation of a hydrogen bomb at Bikini Atoll, Marshall Islands took place March 1, 1954. The power of this H-bomb turned out to be much, much, more powerful than the US military had calculated, so many people ended up being negatively impacted by the considerable fallout, including the residents of downwind islands.  This fallout also hit the 23 crewmembers of a Japanese tuna-fishing vessel, named the Daigo Fukuryumaru, or “#5 Lucky Dragon” when translated into English, that happened to be located 100 miles from the test site.

I have read interviews given by one of the surviving fishermen, Matashichi Oishi, who was 20 years old at the time.

Mr. Oishi witnessed brilliant lights on the horizon early on the morning of March 1, 1954, and a little later, a deep rumbling sound came up from underneath.

Then a huge mushroom cloud was seen on the horizon, but no one on the ship knew what it was. In a couple of hours the mushroom cloud came rushing toward the ship, and pure white ash descended on him and the other crewmembers. They still didn’t know what it was – the ash was neither hot nor cold.

Soon, the fishermen experienced nausea and dizziness. Two or three days later, any skin that had been exposed to the ash (which really was blown up coral reef) developed burns. Ten days later their hair started to fall out. The vessel managed to come back to the shore of Japan on March 14. It’s speculated that they intentionally didn’t send SOS signals because they feared the possibility of being sunk by the US military.

One of the crewmembers died six months later triggering a massive anti-nuclear movement in Japan. The Japanese government also tested and found tuna that was radioactive, contrary to the assurance by the US government that the ocean would dilute the radioactive pollutant to a negligible level. By the end of the year 1955, more than 30 million Japanese people signed a petition calling for a ban on nuclear weapons.

The rising anti-nuclear and anti-US sentiments were just what the US did not want in the aftermath of WWII. Soon the US government implemented measures to protect its interests.  In April 1954, Operations Coordinating Board (OCB) – an Executive committee created by President Eisenhower the previous year – issued an internal document titled: Outline Check List of US Actions to Offset Unfavorable Japanese Attitudes to the H-Bomb and Related Developments.

An OCB report also recommended that the US should offer to build an experimental nuclear reactor in Japan. President Eisenhower had founded the US Atoms for Peace program as part of the US effort to spin the image of nuclear technology in the minds of the Japanese people from that of a lethal war technology to the symbol of stability and prosperity.

To meet this goal, the US government offered Japan, practically a US colony after WWII, an opportunity to share the economic and strategic benefit of the burgeoning nuclear industry.

The Japanese government willingly accepted the deal for its own ambitions, and it soon became the one of the most aggressive champions of nuclear power.

In 1955, the Atomic Energy Basic Law was enacted in Japan, and by mid 1960s, Japan had its first commercial nuclear power plant.

This is but one tiny example of how nuclear power has been forced upon the people of Japan and the people of the world.

I mentioned the name of one Daigo Fukuryumaru crewmember – Matashichi Oishi. But there are many, many, people whose names we don’t even know, who nevertheless were exposed, got sick, and probably died from their exposure to fallout. The residents of the Marshall Islands were forced to evacuate in the aftermath of this test, only to be returned in a couple of years to their contaminated homeland, where they were further exposed to radioactive contamination through water they drank and the food they harvested.

Mr. Oishi received 2 million yen — worth about $5,500 at the time — from the US government. Some Japanese people called him all kinds of names and berated him for accepting this money. He also experienced discrimination for being the Hibakuksha – “the exposed.”

Mr. Oishi was forced to relocate, and hide his true identify for many years, just as some people from Hiroshima and Nagasaki had to do, and just as some people from Fukushima must do today. The money Mr. Oishi received from the US government stripped him of the right to complain forever, even when his child was stillborn, and when he subsequently developed liver cancer.

For all these decades, each one of us has been forced to allow more and more radiation into our environment and into our bodies.

The radiation that we cannot see, smell, or taste contaminates our environments from the nuclear disasters, including Three Mile Island and Chernobyl, through all those nuclear weapons tests, from all those depleted uranium arsenals still being dropped in Iraq and elsewhere, from all the abandoned uranium mines that are contaminating the waters and the soil in the upper Great Plains and compromising the health of not only the residents of the Plains but everybody in this country who eats the food that comes from there, and from all the smoke that comes out of operating coal plants that use coal from the Plains that is naturally laced with uranium.

Radiation exposure is difficult to quantify.

Data regarding the effects of radiation on the human body has been collected since WWII, but covered up by the nuclear industry and governments that want the power of weapons and nuclear energy.

Much of the real information from the past disasters is classified and often manipulated by world governments. What Mr. Oishi experienced on the ship in 1954 was an acute form of radiation exposure; but even for him any connection between his illness and the incident has continued to be denied.

The same pattern is repeated over and over throughout the world.

The end of this month will mark the 35th anniversary of the Three Mile Island accident. There are anecdotes of human illnesses and mutations in the local population, substantiated by the epidemiology studies of Dr. Steve Wing from the University of North Carolina. However, officially the US government has refused to recognize the abnormalities in the health of the affected residents.

Then, I think about what’s unfolding in Japan today. I sense something grave is happening. I have heard many Fukushima people’s personal accounts of their family members or friends dying suddenly. In one case, a baby suddenly died.

And, these illnesses and sudden deaths are not happening only in Fukushima Prefecture. People are sicker in Tokyo. And it’s not just people who are sicker.  I met a home gardener who lives in Kawamata, Fukushima, 30-miles from Fukushima Dai-ichi, and she grows luffas whose fruit is often dried to make bath sponges. Last year, with some trepidation, she used the seeds saved from the year before; she found flower buds directly growing out of the fruit.

And some of her pole beans were abnormally gigantic. Near Fukushima city, another person saw a frog so severely deformed that at first it was difficult to tell that it was a frog save for its hopping.  These are true events described by people I met, who took notes and photographs of these environmental anomalies.

During my month-long stay in Japan in December and January, I, too, experienced unusual symptoms. I developed a skin rash that doesn’t heal. When I was in Fukushima I developed a scratchy throat and pain in my eyes.

Something is happening, and yet we cannot prove anything.

The IAEA and Fukushima Medical University are working together to collect and collate the health data of Fukushima residents. Many residents fear that this effort is just a show, or worse yet, just for the sake of collecting secret data. Many people fear that “the experts” already have a forgone conclusion:

The conclusion that if people get ill, it is not because of the Fukushima Dai-ichi disaster.

As of December last year, of the 254, 280 young Fukushima people who were 18 years old or younger at the time of the power plant catastrophe, 74 were found to either have thyroid cancer or are suspected of having thyroid cancer.  Thirty-three of these children have already needed and gone through surgery. There are different statistics for the rate of thyroid cancer among children prior to the Fukushima Dai-ichi; some say 1~2 in 1 million, others say 17 in 1 million. Compared to either of them, the current number in Fukushima is staggering.

Disturbingly, the Japanese and the international radiation experts continue to maintain that these thyroid cancers are NOT related to the Fukushima Dai-ichi disaster.

The same pattern is repeated over and over.

How long will this pattern continue?

Many Japanese people are confronted by different choices they must make each day:
Whether or not to wear a mask.
 Whether or not to move with their children from their home to a less contaminated area.
Whether or not to buy this spinach that may contain cesium.

Whether or not to eat fish because now it’s known that huge amounts of strontium-90 are pouring into the Pacific Ocean from Fukushima Dai-ichi.

But the most important choice of our lives was never available to any of us. We were not allowed to choose whether or not we wanted to accept all the unearthed uranium and the resulting radionuclides in our lives.

The Fukushima Dai-ichi disaster opened the door for me to see how this is not a mere Japanese crisis. It’s a crisis that transcends geography and time.

What can we do now?

Sometimes a big part of me feels the situation is too late to remedy.

This is a situation mired with the world politics and economy – the struggle for power and money. It’s hard to stop the march of heavily armed people with a prayer.

But, I dare say this: Every life is sacred, no matter how small it is.

If we care about life, we must try to find ways to at least slow the pace of nuclear contamination. And we must focus on what’s actually happening to humans and animals and birds and everything else on this planet, instead of keeping consigning the interpretation of radiation’s effects to the so-called experts.

The truth is that once we have lost everything that sustains us from our soil to air to water, our home, our community, and our family, no amount of money can restore them.

Thank you for being here today to listen, and for having expressed your concerns for this Japanese tragedy during the past three years.

Your compassion has given me so much strength.'

I am also grateful to the courageously committed people in Japan:
The mothers in their twenties and thirties and forties who tirelessly petition the local government and schools to do more to protect the children;

The citizen scientists who are testing soil and food on their own and sharing it with others;

The labor advocates who are shining a light on the abominable treatment of the Fukushima Dai-ichi workers who are jeopardizing their lives every moment;

The doctors who express alarm after having seen the jump in health abnormalities among children in the Tokyo area.
 These people are the real heroes, especially given the environment in Japan today, which is getting more and more hostile to those who criticize the government policies.

I hope to keep witnessing what’s happening, and to seek truth.

And, I pray for all the souls of this planet.


Piketty Dikitty Rikitty

SUBHEAD: We can't politically organize our way out of the epochal predicament of civilization.

By James Kunstler on 28 April 2014 for  -

Image above: A futile as reorganizing the deckchairs on the Titanic. From (

The debate over Thomas Piketty’s new book Capital in the Twenty-First Century is as dumb as every other issue-set in the public arena these days — a product of failed mental models, historical blindness, hubris, and wishful thinking. Piketty’s central idea is that wealth will continue to accumulate and concentrate among individual rich families at ever-greater rates and therefore that nation-states should take a number of steps to prevent that from happening or at least attempt to correct it.

The first mistake of Piketty fans such as New York Times op-ed ass Paul Krugman is the assumption that the dynamic labeled “capitalism” is an ism, a belief system that you can subscribe to or drop out of, depending on your political correctitude. That’s just not true. 

So-called capitalism is more like gravity, a set of laws that apply to and describe the behavior of surplus wealth, in particular wealth generated by industrial societies, which is to say unprecedented massive wealth. The human race never saw anything quite like it before. It became both a moral embarrassment and a political inconvenience. So among the intellectual grandiosities of modern times is the idea that this massive wealth can be politically managed to produce an ideal equitable society — with no side effects.

Hence, the bold but hapless 20th century experiment with statist communism, which pretended to abolish wealth but succeeded mainly in converting wealth into industrial waste and pollution, while directing the remainder to a lawless gangster government elite that ruled an expendable mass peasantry with maximum cruelty and injustice.

In the other industrial nations, loosely called “the west,” the pretense to abolish wealth altogether never completely took, but a great deal of wealth was “socialized” for the purpose of delivering public goods. That seemed to work fairly well in post-war Europe and a bit less-well in the USA after the anomalous Eisenhower decade when industrial labor enjoyed a power moment of wage arbitrage. 

Now that system is unraveling, and for the reason that Piketty & Company largely miss: industrial economies are winding down with the decline of cheap fossil fuels.

Piketty and his fans assume that the industrial orgy will continue one way or another, in other words that some mysterious “they” will “come up with innovative new technologies” to obviate the need for fossil fuels and that the volume of wealth generated will more or less continue to increase. This notion is childish, idiotic, and wrong. 

Energy and technology are not substitutable with each other. If you run out of the former, you can’t replace it with the latter (and by “run out” I mean get it at a return of energy investment that makes sense). The techno-narcissist Jeremy Rifkins and Ray Kurzweils among us propound magical something-for-nothing workarounds for our predicament, but they are just blowing smoke up the collective fundament of a credulous ruling plutocracy. 

In fact, we’re faced with an unprecedented contraction of wealth, and a shocking loss of ability to produce new wealth. That‘s the real “game-changer,” not the delusions about shale oil and the robotic “industrial renaissance” and all the related fantasies circulating among a leadership that checked its brains at the Microsoft window.

Of course, even in a general contraction wealth will still exist, and Piketty is certainly right that it will tend to remain concentrated (where it isn’t washed away in the deluge of broken promises to pay this and that obligation). But he is quite incorrect that the general conditions we enjoy at this moment in history will continue a whole lot longer — for instance the organization of giant nation-states and their ability to control populations. 

I suppose it’s counter-intuitive in this moment of the “Deep State” with all its Orwellian overtones of electronic surveillance and omnipotence, but I’d take the less popular view that the Deep State will choke to death on the diminishing returns of technology and that nation-states in general will first degenerate into impotence and then break up into smaller units. 

What’s more, I’d propose that the whole world is apt to be going medieval, so to speak, as we contend with our energy predicament and its effects on wealth generation, banking, and all the other operations of modern capital. That is, they’ll become a lot less modern.

As all this occurs, some families and individuals will hang onto wealth, and that wealth is apt to increase, though not at the scales and volumes afforded by industrial activities. Political theorizing a la Marx or Thomas Piketty is not liable to deprive them of it, but other forces will. The most plausible framework for understanding that is the circulation of elites. This refers to the tendency in history for one ruling elite to be overturned and replaced by another group, often by violence, and then become the new ruling elite. It always happens one way or another, and even the case of the Bolsheviks in Russia during the industrial 20th century can be seen this way.

In any case, just because human affairs follow certain patterns these days, don’t assume that all these patterns will persist. I doubt that the Warren Buffets and Jamie Dimons of the world will see their wealth confiscated via some new policy of the Internal Revenue Service — e.g. the proposed “tax on wealth.” Rather, its more likely that they’ll be strung up on lampposts or dragged over three miles of pavement behind their own limousines. 

After all, the second leading delusion in our culture these days, after the wish for a something-for-nothing magic energy rescue remedy, is the idea that we can politically organize our way out of the epochal predicament of civilization that we face. Piketty just feeds that secondary delusion.

Critique of Piketty's Solution

By Charles Hugh Smith on 28 April 2014 for Of Two Minds -


[IB Publisher's note: We have removed the charets from this article. To see them click link to original article above.]

The real problem with Piketty's taxation/social welfare solution to wealth inequality is that it does nothing to change the source of systemic inequality, debt-based neofeudalism and neocolonialism.

Those of us concerned by widening wealth/income inequality have been following the work of Thomas Piketty and Emmanuel Saez for many years. I've cited their analysis many times; for example: Two Americas: The Gap Between the Top 5% and the Bottom 95% Widens (August 18, 2010).

Thomas Piketty has taken his meticulous research and turned it into a book, Capital in the Twenty-First Century, that has catalyzed the discussion of widening inequality by essentially proving that capital expands at rates far above the overall economy and wages. Since capital grows much faster than wages or the underlying economy, the gap between earned income and unearned income (rents) widens, along with the net worth of those who own capital and those who own little to no capital.

As other reviewers have noted, Piketty's book is not a theoretical critique of capitalism, it is a data-driven exploration of how present-day capitalism drives wealth inequality. Piketty's solution to widening inequality is a global wealth tax, a solution he characterizes as utopian, for getting the world's nations to eradicate tax havens is close to impossible.

I would go further and say it is impossible within the U.S., never mind the world, as the top .1% own the political machinery. Why would anyone who owns the political process agree to tax themselves?

As a result, any wealth tax will fall not on the super-wealthy with billions of dollars of unearned rentier income but on the upper-middle class who worked, saved and invested to build a nestegg. In other words, a wealth tax will fall on the same tax donkeys who are already paying the majority of income taxes.

If I have contributed anything to the wealth inequality issue, it is the proposition that we live in a neofeudal, neocolonial economy (the New Feudalism), ruled by a New Nobility. In my analysis, neofeudalism arises from these characteristics:

1. Debt is the enforcement mechanism of feudal fealty. Debtors--those with mortgages, student loans, vehicle loans, credit card balances, etc.--are obligated to fund the rentier income of their financial masters, the New Nobility. This is the essence of a feudal arrangement.

Others have different definitions of neofeudalism.

In my analysis, the rise of neofeudalism is a direct consequence of the financialization of the economy, in which essential assets (homes, for example) and processes are commoditized into financial instruments that can be sold, leveraged, pyramided and traded globally. Once an asset or process has been commoditized, it loses all connection to individuals, communities, companies or nations: it is the perfection ofrootless capital, free to be bought and sold anywhere, any time, with no connection to the real world other than a chain of claims.

2. Society and the economy are organized so only the wealthy do not need to go into debt, which is serfdom in a neofeudal arrangement. The illusion of choice is thus maintained, a sibling of the illusion of democracy in which both party candidates are in thrall to the New Nobility.

The fiendishly Orwellian brilliance of neofedualism is this: present-day serfs opt into serfdom, just as free citizens opted into the protection of feudal lords' estates as the Roman Empire crumbled around them. It was a false choice; remain free and face ruinous taxes, or choose serfdom on a lord's estate. The present economy offers an equivalent false choice for all but the most dedicated, disciplined few who reject debt by rejecting consumerism, "growth" and the endless spew of neofeudal propaganda.
  • Want a college education? You freely choose the servitude of debt.
  • Want a house? You freely choose the servitude of debt.
  • Want a new vehicle? You freely choose the servitude of debt.
  • Neocolonialism is tightly bound to neofeudalism in my model.
3. The essence of neocolonialism is the "company store," which extends credit that can never be paid off as wages are stagnant. In a neocolonial economy in which only the top Caste of Managers, Technocrats and Professionals (the top 10%) can expand their income and wealth, debt-serfs are impoverished by servicing debt. As the real (inflation-adjusted) incomes of the bottom 90% decline or stagnate, debt service consumes an increasing amount of disposable earned income.

Debt service is guaranteed in the neocolonial model. In the old colonial model, marginalized populations were recruited to work on plantations with the false promise of wages, which never quite exceed the cost of servicing debt.

This arrangement was much neater than slavery, as the marginalized need not be bought: they freely choose their servitude. Beneath this supposed free will is of course a false choice: there is no other way to earn cash income other than working on the debt-plantation.

In the old colonial model, only those ethnicities with an iron passion for saving regardless of income (for example, the Chinese, among others), were able to accumulate enough capital to escape the debt-bondage and establish small businesses.

I explain the basic structure of neofeudalism and the neocolonialism in The E.U., Neofeudalism and the Neocolonial-Financialization Model (May 24, 2012)

The problem with Piketty's solution to the intrinsic inequalities created by financialization, neofeudalism and neocolonialism is the super-wealthy might well agree to tax those beneath them, just to prop up the arrangement that benefits them so mightily. I can easily foresee a political movement, secretly funded by the New Nobility, that taxes all wealth above $1 million, but which magically excludes wealth-holders that just happen to be the top .1%.

The New Nobility might even agree to pay a modest wealth tax, which would fund millions more recipients of food stamps, Section 8 housing and other social welfare, in effect institutionalizing neofeudalism and neocolonialism by rendering the unemployed complicit in the arrangement.

If you owned $100 million, and were earning $5 million in rentier income annually, wouldn't you agree to a $1 million tax to fund social welfare programs that kept the rabble sedated with bread and circuses? It's a no-brainer.

The real problem with Piketty's taxation/social welfare solution to wealth inequality is that it does nothing to change the source of systemic inequality, debt-based neofeudalism and neocolonialism. Simply raising more taxes to fund more social welfare programs leaves the unjust, rapacious, and ultimately destabilizing Status Quo entirely intact.

I have laid out another path in my books: refuse serfdom, abandon participation in neofeudalism and neocolonialism, and build parallel systems of cooperation and wealth-building that are not debt-dependent.


Haleakala Trail is public land

SUBHEAD: Jury finds that the Hawaiian public owns and has always owned the Haleakala Trail.

By Staff on 23  April 2014 for Path Maui -
Image above: Some Haleakala Trail guideposts that guided the way for thousands over many years. From original article. Photos by Shannon Berkowitz on 12/15/13from original article. Clock to embiggen.

On Wednesday, after a long fourteen day jury trial before Judge Cardoza in the Maui Circuit Court, a jury returned a verdict in favor of the State of Hawaii (State) and plaintiffs Public Access Trails Hawaii (PATH), David Brown, Ken Schmitt, and Joe Bertram III, who are the lead plaintiffs in a class action on behalf of all pedestrians in Hawaii.

The jury found that the State owns—and has always owned—the historic Haleakala Trail. The jury also dismissed Defendant Haleakala Ranch Company (HRC)’s competing claim to ownership of Haleakala Trail, which the State and plaintiffs have long alleged was based on no evidence or law.

David Brown, executive director of PATH and one of the lead plaintiffs in the case, said that the jury verdict was “monumental and ground-breaking.” “The court victory today should be celebrated by anyone who wants to recognize, preserve and protect Hawaii’s unique and rich cultural past, including Hawaii’s historical trails,” Brown explained.

Ken Schmitt, another lead plaintiff, added that although Hawaii has many laws that protect the public’s interest in Hawaii’s historic trails, including the Highways Act of 1892, which places trails in the public trust, the political reality in Hawaii is that trails are often neglected and ignored.

Schmitt reiterated the importance that this jury verdict had, and in particular applauded the State’s active role in defeating dubious claims of ownership to historical Hawaiian trails.

At trial, the State and plaintiffs presented evidence showing public use and government ownership of Haleakala Trail, including documents from the Hawaii State archives, government maps, newspapers, legislative journals, and travel narratives including those from Mark Twain, Jack London and Isabella Bird.

There was also expert testimony from Anthony Crook, a professional surveyor, Doris Moana Rowland, the Na Ala Hele State title abstractor, and Richard Stevens, Ph.D., a world historian and expert trail researcher.

Brown said that the jury really connected with the story that the State and plaintiffs presented at trial. The evidence at trial demonstrated that Haleakala Trail was a continuation of a long-established native Hawaiian trail, which connected to an overland pass across East Maui through Haleakala Crater. Westerners began ascending Haleakala Trail long before the Mahele of 1848.

Later, the government significantly improved Haleakala Trail through two major public work projects, by the Kingdom of Hawai‘i in 1889 and by the Territory of Hawai‘i in 1905. In 1905, a Maui News article celebrated the improvements to Haleakala Trail, trumpeting that:
 “It will be of general interest to the people of the Islands to learn that the Haleakala trail is now completed to the top of the crater... Come one; come all: and view this the grandest sight of Maui.” 

Also, in 1905, guideposts were placed along the trail at approximately every 500 feet. Schmitt explained that many of these guideposts still stand today and were crucial pieces of evidence for the jury to consider.

Brown said that the next and final phase of the trial will determine the issues remaining in the case—namely historic preservation of Haleakala Trail and securing meaningful public access. Emphasizing the importance of this final phase of trial, Brown explained,
“We have a moral obligation to protect Hawai‘i’s past, including its rich history of trails. The longer we wait to protect Hawai‘i’s cultural legacy, the greater the risk it will be lost forever for generations to come.”

PATH is a 501(c)(3) public charity. Its mission is “building community ties by connecting people and places through trails, urban paths and bikeways.” PATH’s website is, and the organization also maintains Facebook and Twitter accounts. At trial, PATH was represented by attorneys Tom Pierce, Peter Martin and Hayden Aiuli.
 PATH is requesting continued financial support from the public to protect the historic Haleakala Trail, as well as general supporters and members. Charitable donations are fully tax-deductible and may be made to:

 2525 Kahekili Highway
Wailuku, Hawaii 96793.

To contact the organization, send an email to

See also:
Ea O Ka Aina: The Ala Loa Trail 4/10/14
View of Lepeuli Beach from the Ala Loa Trail on Kauai's Koolau northshore.
Ea O Ka Aina: Trails and Tribulations 2/26/13
They walked from their settlements in Lepeuli to other Kauai ahupua'a along the ala loa trail, a lateral, coastal trail that runs along near the sea.

Ea O Ka Aina: Mokoaa Bay Ranch For Sale 6/24/11
Moloaa Bay Ranch Is For Sale!! Let the buyer be aware of the Alaloa Trail. By Hope Kallai on 23 June 2011 for Free Larson's ...

Ea O Ka Aina: Illegal fence blocks Lepeuli beach 6/14/11
We believe this fence is in the Conservation District and blocks the lateral coastal Alaloa. This project is federally funded through NRCS EQIP ...

Ea O Ka Aina: Not Saved from Paradise Ranch 1/21/11Paradise Ranch began installing fenceposts in the middle of the ancient coastal Alaloa on 1/19/11, as part of their cattle pasture expansion ...

Ea O Ka Aina: Kaakaaniu Beach in Danger 11/10/09
Blue lines are Na Ala Hele & Na Alaloa paths (l. and r.). Yellow is existing cattle fence above the albatross nesting areas. Source Juan Wilson.

Ea O Ka Aina: OHA against Lepeuli changes 5/9/10 Moreover, there seems to be disagreement between the applicant and the community regarding the exact location of the alaloa...

Ea O Ka Aina: Keep Kaakaaniu Beach Access 10/29/09
Exhibit D in the CDUA notes the State of Hawaii's claims of ownership of the historic coastal trail – the Hawaiian Alaloa.


Big Island Solar Research

SUBHEAD: Henk Rogers’ energy lab on the Big Islandis a sophisticated facility for solar research.

By Robert Rapier on 25 April 2014 for Energy Trends -

Image above: The 360 solar panels on the roof of Henk’s energy lab. All photos from original article.

For the past five years, home for me has been on the northern end of the island of Hawaiʻi. For those unfamiliar with the Hawaiian islands, they consist of eight major islands. The biggest of these islands is the island of Hawaiʻi, also known as the “Big Island.”

The Big Island has a land area of 4,028 square miles — bigger than the area of Rhode Island and Delaware combined, and almost as large as Connecticut. It is also home to a couple of volcanoes that are over 13,500 high (and incidentally do see snow during the cooler months).

But the population density of the Big Island is much lower that the other small states at 185,000 people, versus around a million in both Rhode Island and Delaware, and 3.5 million in Connecticut.

Hawaii has abundant energy resources from wind, the sun, geothermal, water, and biomass. Yet Hawaii relies on petroleum for 80 percent of its energy, making it by far the most petroleum-dependent state. One major reason for this is that Hawaii is the only state that still gets a large portion of its electricity from oil.

Over the years the states on the mainland displaced oil with coal, natural gas, and nuclear power, and today are starting to displace some of these with renewables. But Hawaii doesn’t have coal trains or natural gas pipelines, so we continued to use oil for electricity even as everyone else switched. The cost of continued oil reliance to electricity consumers has been very high.

But because of the relatively low population density and the abundant natural resources, the Big Island has the potential to do something that will prove to be much more challenging elsewhere: Derive most or all of its energy from renewable sources. I recently visited a laboratory that is working hard to realize this vision.

Meet Henk Rogers
Last week I toured Henk Rogers‘ ranch (called the Pu’u Wa’awa’a Ranch) on the Big Island. I went there with my good friend, Big Island farmer Richard Ha.

[IB Publisher's note: Richard Ha supports GMO farming and experiments in Hawaii. He fought the Big Islands Bill 113 to regulate GMOs. He wrote on 12/18/13 "Someone suggested that my change of plans re: putting 264 acres into preservation land smells of sour grapes - that I made a knee-jerk decision because I was upset that the anti-GMO Bill 113 passed." ( This is enough in itself to cast a shadow on this "techno-optimistic" use of solar energy to produce hydrogen fuel. In reading on it is obvious that Henk Rogers has not found it a sound investment to date. We maintain that the "Hydrogen Economy" is more "Green Smoke".]

Image above: Richard Ha and I at the Big Island’s only hydrogen refueling station.

 Henk Rogers is a fascinating character, best known for bringing the video game “Tetris” — the world’s most popular video game with over 125 million units sold — to handheld video game devices.

Henk also holds the exclusive intellectual property rights to Tetris. Having made his fortune in the video gaming world, Henk turned his attention to sustainable energy with his Blue Planet Foundation. (Incidentally, Henk Rogers also supports the Hawaii Space Exploration Analog & Simulation, a long-duration simulated Mars exploration habitat 8,200 feet above sea level on Mauna Loa.)

Henk Rogers’ Energy Lab
Richard and I were shown around the ranch by Vincent Paul Ponthieux, who is the Chief Technology Officer for Blue Planet Research. They have built an energy lab at Henk’s ranch where they are experimenting with a number of technologies for producing and storing energy. They are testing seven different solar photovoltaic (PV) technologies, as well as various energy storage and fuel cell technologies.

Image above: Testing Seven Different Solar PV Technologies at Henk Rogers’ Ranch.

The roof over the lab is host to 360 solar PV panels with a capacity of 85 kilowatts (kW) — enough to power about 17 average homes in Hawaii. But where it gets really interesting is that they are also using the electricity from the solar panels to produce hydrogen, which then supplies the only hydrogen refueling station on the Big Island.

As I explained recently in One More ‘Free Lunch’ in Energy, it always takes more energy to split water into hydrogen and oxygen than you can get back from burning the hydrogen. But such a scheme might make sense in some instances if the electricity is cheap, or if the hydrogen is desperately needed.

At times renewable energy installations may produce more power than a home can use or than the grid can absorb, and it could be directed into electrolysis of water to produce hydrogen for later consumption. In this way, the hydrogen is acting like an energy storage device — which could then be used to produce power even when the sun isn’t shining.

Hydrogen can be used either directly in a combustion engine (where the combustion product is simply water) or, more efficiently, in a fuel cell that converts chemical energy into electricity. Fuel cells are still quite expensive, but they can be used to provide backup electrical power or to power a vehicle. Henk’s lab is experimenting with fuel cells from several manufacturers, including Plug Power (Nasdaq: PLUG) — which incidentally has seen its share price rise more than 40-fold over the past 12 months.

Henk’s team is also experimenting with various battery storage technologies. They had a vanadium-redox flow stack, as well as a bank of lithium iron phosphate batteries from Sony. I discussed the problem of energy storage with Blue Planet Research’s Chief Technology Officer Vincent Paul Ponthieux, and we both agree that cost effective energy storage is a critically important enabler of a future powered by solar power, or by other intermittent power sources. I was really excited to see them focused on this problem.

Image above: Vincent Paul Ponthieux showing us the electrolyzer that produces hydrogen from solar power.

But Isn’t That Expensive?
Given that this is a small experimental facility for hydrogen production, I didn’t expect it to be cost effective. However, it is worth mentioning the costs to keep things in perspective. To produce hydrogen from the solar PV panels at Henk Rogers’ ranch requires an electrolyzer that cost $125,000 (in addition to the cost of the solar panels). That electrolyzer is capable of producing 12 kilograms of hydrogen a day. Those 12 kilograms of hydrogen contain the energy content of about 12 gallons of gasoline. Thus, over the course of a year that $125,000 electrolyzer might produce hydrogen with the energy equivalent of $10,000 to $15,000 worth of gasoline. But these costs are expected to go down as the system is scaled up.

During my career, I have come across some amazing things in the most unexpected places. Prior to my visit to Henk Rogers’ energy lab on the Big Island, I wouldn’t have guessed such a sophisticated facility existed anywhere on the island. The research team there is working on some critically important problems in the field of energy, and success for them will mean a cleaner energy future for us all.
The world must eventually move to a solar economy, and the work of the team there could help accelerate that process. The sun is being utilized to produce electricity, as well as hydrogen which can be used to produce backup power and as a power source for automobiles. The technology is there; it’s mainly just a matter of reducing costs.

I want to note in closing that we were told on our visit that they are not looking for attention, as that tends to take time away from work. Nor are they looking for investors. Rather they are engaged in this mission because Henk Rogers has a passion and a vision for a cleaner energy future. I wish the team great success in this mission. It is related to my own mission in Arizona, where I am also working to realize a hydrogen economy.


Chinese Building Bubble

SUBHEAD: The present Chinese housing market crash could be even more disastrous than America’s in 2007.

By Gwynn Guilford on 20 March 2014 for Quartz -

Image above: Twilight falls on Pudong, Shanghai, in China as decade-long housing boom unwinds. Detail of photo by Carlos Barria. From original article.

Investment drives China’s economy. And housing fuels a large share of that investment, contributing 33% of fixed-asset investment, says Zhang Zhiwei, an economist at Nomura—and, consequently, 16% of GDP. The decade-long housing boom that’s kept China’s GDP aloft has so far defied the bubble warnings, which began as far back as 2007.

But the building binge is finally catching up with China. Not just because sales are faltering (paywall). After building around 13.4% more floorspace each year, China finally has too much housing, argues Zhang in a note this week. The quirks of China’s economic model mean that a housing crash will be more devastating for the economy than many realize.

For each person that moves to a city this year, Chinese developers will build around 121 square meters of shiny new flooring, estimates Zhang. That’s double what there was in 2009, and a marked increase from 2013′s 113 square meters. Though residents trading up to roomier digs will absorb some of this, the Nomura folks nonetheless say they “find this alarming,” putting China’s per capita floorspace on par with much more developed markets.

But housing supply is tricky to make sense of when, thanks to China’s closed capital account, apartments are traded like stocks. Despite reports of housing gluts in smaller cities, many take heart in the fact that sales in first-tier cities—Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Shenzhen—remain robust, thanks to higher incomes among residents, and because people from other cities buy property in the big metropolises as investments.

But those sales may offer a false sense of security, Zhang says, pointing out that first-tier cities account for only 5% of housing under construction and sales—and a mere 8% of overall housing investment in 2013. This “cognitive bias” makes investors ignore the storm clouds gathering within China’s housing market, says Zhang.

“This is comparable to when the US property bubble burst, since property prices did not collapse in New York, but instead in places like Orlando and Las Vegas,” Zhang says. “In China, the true risks of a sharp correction in the property market fall in third- and fourth-tier cities, which are not on investors’ radar screens.”
If China’s housing market crashes, the ripple effect could be even more cataclysmic for its economy than the recent housing market collapses in the US and Europe were for their economies. A fifth of outstanding loans and a quarter of new loans are to property developers, says Nomura; untold billions more have been lent out off bank balance sheets. As falling prices crimp margins, small developers—like the one in the news this week—will start defaulting.

But the fallout will be bigger still, says Patrick Chovanec of Silvercrest Asset Management. “Not only is property important because it’s a key component of that investment boom, but it’s essentially the asset that underwrites all credit in the Chinese economy, whether it’s local government loans, whether it’s business loans,” Chovanec says, explaining that lenders require “hard” assets as collateral because financial accounts can easily be doctored.

This creates a circular system. “All these loans are being made on the basis of property as collateral, which then goes into property and bids up the price of property,” he explains. “And then the property price—the price of the collateral—goes up, and you can get more loans. That’s a very dangerous cycle.”

China's Economic Bubble is Burstting 

By Chris Street on 24 February 2014 for American Thinker -

The highly credible HSBC/Markit Purchasing Managers' Index (PMI) of economic demand in China reported that demand in China's factories fell for a second month in a row and hit a seven-month low. Markit Research also reported that production turned negative for the first time in seven months and hiring expectations fell to a new five-year low.

Although the Chinese government continues to produce an array of rosy economic statistics each month, China's industrial competitiveness is fading fast. Coupling the production contraction with banking problems and a fall in the HSBC/Markit Employment Index to a five-year low, it appears that China's economic bubble is bursting.

Markit Research compiles "flash" indicators each month for demand and operating conditions in China's manufacturing sector. The report is based on surveys responses from executives inside approximately 85%-90% of China's most important factories. A Markit flash score above 50 means that activity is expanding and a score below 50 means that activity is contracting. Although the final reports are not published for another two weeks, the Markit flash reports seldom differ from the final reports.

The Chinese Lunar New Year festival began this year on January 31 and most workers tend to go on vacation for two weeks back to their family homes. Consequently, economic activity during the Lunar holidays is an excellent indicator of the pace of domestic consumer demand. The purchasing managers' index falling from a weak 49.5 in January to a seven-month low of 48.3 in February is a strong indication the accelerating contraction in demand is being driven by weak domestic consumption.

Former Chinese President Hu Jintao and Premier Wen Jiabao in 2010 published "Report on the Work of the Government" and report of the National Development and Reform Council (NDRC) that formed the basis of China's Five Year Plan (2011-2015) to discard the economic model followed for the past three decades of emphasizing export manufacturing and to focus the nation's economic and development efforts into building a modern consumer economy.

The main features of the new policy orientation were: converting China from being the "world's manufacturer" to becoming the "world's consumer"; upgrading its scientific and technological capabilities with an emphasis on innovation; expanding educational coverage; and improving the living conditions and increasing the wages of the people, especially those in the rural areas.

Over the next five years, China's leadership encouraged "new measures" that included widespread property tax changes that released huge amounts of agricultural land for housing development. State-owned-banks were commanded to increase lending in just five years by $15 trillion, twice the entire Chinese annual gross domestic product (GDP).

As a result, housing prices increased in major cities like Beijing from an average of $1,150 per square meter in 2005 to $11,400 per square meter today. Condos that would have sold for $3,500 in 1994 are now listed for sale at $833,000.

Over the last six months, real estate demand and prices have been contracting faster in cities beyond the nation's relatively wealthy "first-tier" metropolises of Beijing and Shanghai. According to the Securities Times newspaper, housing developers in the industrial city of Hangzhou cut prices this week by an average 19% in a scramble to sell about 120,000 newly-built apartments.

The current inventory of new, unsold units now exceeds the total number of housing units offered for sale in Beijing and Shanghai combined. A study by Shanghai's Tongji University said real estate has been especially shaky in the northeastern city of Wenzhou, where new-home prices have fallen every month for the last two years.

The borrowing binge in China was not just restricted to state-owned lenders; approximately $3.5 trillion in private loans made to individual speculators at up to three times the interest cost of bank borrowing. Many of these loans were made to shady business operators who bought coal mines to speculate on the growth of electricity demand. But most of those loans became insolvent as the economic slowdown caused the price of coal to be cut in half over the last year.

Chinese banks over the last six months have been forced to borrow large amounts of short-term money as income from their loan payments have slowed. The Sunday edition of London's Daily Telegraph published a story that, "Currency crisis at Chinese banks could trigger global meltdown". The article warned that short-term foreign currency borrowing by Chinese companies has almost quadrupled in just four years to more than $1 trillion.

"Any substantial appreciation of the U.S. dollar -- and many analysts are indeed expecting gains this year -- could open up a dangerous cross-currency mismatch, forcing Chinese borrowers to default and inflicting shattering losses on international lenders."

According to Beijing's State Administration of Foreign Exchange, at the end of 2013 China had foreign liabilities of a stunning $3.85 trillion; roughly 40% of total GDP. The bulk of those liabilities consist of $2.32 trillion of highly illiquid foreign direct investment for plant and equipment. Another $374 billion is foreign investments in China's stock and bond markets that could be sold at any time. But most investors are unaware that money is also locked up because China's qualified foreign institutional investor program has strict limits on the size and frequency on withdrawing money from country.

The contraction of HSBC/Markit Purchasing Managers' Index to 48.3 during China's biggest annual holiday seems dire when coupled with the PMI's Employment Index fall for a fourth month in a row to 46.9, its lowest point since the depth of the financial crisis in February 2009. Over the last five years, Chinese central planners drove GDP per capita from $2,204 to $3,348, the fastest expansion of any large economy in the world.

Communist party leadership would obviously like to continue to inflate China's economic bubble with more lending. But with banks facing massive loan losses and scrambling for short-term funding just to survive, central-planners seem powerless to prevent China's economic bubble from bursting.


Refusing the Call

SUBHEAD: Updating the parable of the Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings to our predicament.

By John Michael Greer on 23 April 2014 for the Archdruid Report -

Image above: Gandalf tries to entice Frodo Baggins to join an adventure. Still frame from the movie "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey".  From (

I have been wondering for some time now how to talk about the weirdly autumnal note that sounds so often and so clearly in America these days.

Through the babble and clatter, the seven or eight television screens yelling from the walls of every restaurant you pass and all the rest of it, there comes a tone and a mood that reminds me of wind among bare branches and dry leaves crackling underfoot.

It's as though even the people who insist most loudly that it’s all onward and upward from here don’t believe it any more, and those for whom the old optimism stopped being more than a soothing shibboleth a long time ago are hunching their shoulders, shutting their eyes tight, and hoping that things can still hold together for just a little while longer.

It’s not just that American politicians and pundits are insisting at the top of their lungs that the United States can threaten Russia with natural gas surpluses that don’t exist, though that’s admittedly a very bad sign all by itself.

It’s that this orgy of self-congratulatory nonsense appears in the news right next to reports that oil and gas companies are slashing their investments in the fracking technology and shale leases that were supposed to produce those imaginary surpluses, having lost a great deal of money pursuing the shale oil mirage, while Russia and Iran pursue a trade deal that will make US sanctions against Iran all but irrelevant, and China is quietly making arrangements to conduct its trade with Europe in yuan rather than dollars.

Strong nations in control of their own destinies, it’s fair to note, don’t respond to challenges on this scale by plunging their heads quite so enthusiastically into the sands of self-deception.

To shift temporal metaphors a bit, the long day of national delusion that dawned back in 1980, when Ronald Reagan famously and fatuously proclaimed “it’s morning in America,” is drawing on rapidly toward dusk, and most Americans are hopelessly unprepared for the coming of night.

They’re unprepared in practical terms, that is, for an era in which the five per cent of us who live in the United States will no longer dispose of a quarter of the world’s energy supply and a third of its raw materials and industrial products, and in which what currently counts as a normal American lifestyle will soon be no more than a fading memory for the vast majority.

They’re just as unprepared, though, for the psychological and emotional costs of that shattering transformation—not least because the change isn’t being imposed on them at random by an indifferent universe, but comes as the inevitable consequence of their own collective choices in decades not that long past.

The hard fact that most people in this country are trying not to remember is this: in the years right after Reagan’s election, a vast number of Americans enthusiastically turned their backs on the promising steps toward sustainability that had been taken in the previous decade, abandoned the ideals they’d been praising to the skies up to that time, and cashed in their grandchildrens’ future so that they didn’t have to give up the extravagance and waste that defined their familiar and comfortable lifestyles.

As a direct result, the nonrenewable resources that might have supported the transition to a sustainable future went instead to fuel one last orgy of wretched excess. Now, though, the party is over, the bill is due, and the consequences of that disastrous decision have become a massive though almost wholly unmentionable factor in our nation’s culture and collective psychology.

A great many of the more disturbing features of contemporary American life, I’m convinced, can’t be understood unless America’s thirty-year vacation from reality is taken into account. A sixth of the US population is currently on antidepressant medications, and since maybe half of Americans can’t afford to get medication at all, the total number of Americans who are clinically depressed is likely a good deal higher than prescription figures suggest.

The sort of bizarre delusions that used to count as evidence of serious mental illness—baroque conspiracy theories thickly frosted with shrill claims of persecution, fantasies of imminent mass death as punishment for humanity’s sins, and so on—have become part of the common currency of American folk belief.

For that matter, what does our pop culture’s frankly necrophiliac obsession with vampires amount to but an attempt, thinly veiled in the most transparent of symbolism, to insist that it really is okay to victimize future generations for centuries down the line in order to prolong one’s own existence?

Mythic and legends such as this can be remarkably subtle barometers of the collective psyche. The transformation that turned the vampire from just another spooky Eastern European folktale into a massive pop culture presence in industrial North America has quite a bit to say about the unspoken ideas and emotions moving through the crawlspaces of our collective life.

In the same way, it’s anything but an accident that the myth of the heroic quest has become so pervasive a presence in the modern industrial world that Joseph Campbell could simply label it “the monomyth,” the basic form of myth as such.

In any sense other than a wholly parochial one, of course, he was quite wrong—the wild diversity of the world’s mythic stories can’t be forced into any one narrative pattern—but if we look only at popular culture in the modern industrial world, he’s almost right.

The story of the callow nobody who answers the call to adventure, goes off into the unknown, accomplishes some grand task, and returns transformed, to transform his surroundings in turn, is firmly welded into place in the imagination of our age.

You’ll find it at the center of J.R.R. Tolkien’s great works of fantasy, in the most forgettable products of the modern entertainment industry, and everything in between and all around.

Yet there’s a curious blind spot in all this: we hear plenty about those who answer the call to adventure, and nothing at all about those who refuse it. Those latter don’t offer much of a plot engine for an adventure story, granted, but such a tale could make for a gripping psychological study—and one that has some uncomfortably familiar features.

With that in mind, with an apology in the direction of Tolkien’s ghost, and with another to those of my readers who aren’t lifelong Tolkien buffs with a head full of Middle-earth trivia—yes, I used to sign school yearbooks in fluent Elvish—

I’d like to suggest a brief visit to an alternate Middle-earth: one in which Frodo Baggins, facing the final crisis of the Third Age and the need to leave behind everything he knew and loved in order to take the Ring to Mount Doom, crumpled instead, with a cry of “I can’t, Gandalf, I just can’t.” Perhaps you’ll join me in a quiet corner of The Green Dragon, the best inn in Bywater, take a mug of ale from the buxom hobbit barmaid, and talk about old Frodo, who lived until recently just up the road and across the bridge in Hobbiton.

You’ve heard about the magic ring he had, the one that he inherited from his uncle Bilbo, the one that Gandalf the wizard wanted him to go off and destroy? That was thirty years ago, and most folk in the Shire have heard rumors about it by now.

Yes, it’s quite true; Frodo was supposed to leave the Shire and go off on an adventure, as Bilbo did before him, and couldn’t bring himself to do it. He had plenty of reasons to stay home, to be sure. He was tolerably well off and quite comfortable, all his friends and connections were here, and the journey would have been difficult and dangerous.

Nor was there any certainty of success—quite the contrary, it’s entirely possible that he might have perished somewhere in the wild lands, or been caught by the Dark Lord’s servants, or what have you.

So he refused, and when Gandalf tried to talk to him about it, he threw the old wizard out of Bag End and slammed the round green door in his face. Have you ever seen someone in a fight who knows that he’s in the wrong, and knows that everyone else knows it, and that knowledge just makes him even more angry and stubborn? That was Frodo just then.

Friends of mine watched the whole thing, or as much of it as could be seen from the garden outside, and it was not a pleasant spectacle.

It’s what happened thereafter, though, that bears recalling. I’m quite sure that if Frodo had shown the least sign of leaving the Shire and going on the quest, Sauron would have sent Black Riders after him in a fine hurry, and there’s no telling what else might have come boiling up out of Mordor.

It’s by no means impossible that the Dark Lord might have panicked, and launched a hasty, ill-advised assault on Gondor right away.

For all I know, that may have been what Gandalf had in mind, tricking the Dark Lord into overreacting before he’d gathered his full strength, and before Gondor and Rohan had been thoroughly weakened from within.

Still, once Sauron’s spies brought him word that Frodo had refused to embark on the quest, the Dark Lord knew that he had a good deal less to fear, and that he could afford to take his time.

Ever since then, there have been plenty of servants of Mordor in and around the Shire, and a Black Rider or two keeping watch nearby, but nothing obvious or direct, nothing that might rouse whatever courage Frodo might have had left or convince him that he had to flee for his life.

Sauron was willing to be patient—patient and cruel. I’m quite sure he knew perfectly well what the rest of Frodo’s life would be like.

So Gandalf went away, and Frodo stayed in Bag End, and for years thereafter it seemed as though the whole business had been no more than a mistake. The news that came up the Greenway from the southern lands was no worse than before; Gondor still stood firm, and though there was said to be some kind of trouble in Rohan, well, that was only to be expected now and then.

Frodo even took to joking about how gullible he’d been to believe all those alarmist claims that Gandalf had made. Sauron was still safely cooped up in Mordor, and all seemed right with Middle-earth.

Of course part of that was simply that Frodo had gotten even wealthier and more comfortable than he’d been before. He patched up his relationship with the Sackville-Bagginses, and he invested a good deal of his money in Sandyman’s mill in Hobbiton, which paid off handsomely.

He no longer spent time with many of his younger friends by then, partly because they had their own opinions about what he should have done, and partly because he had business connections with some of the wealthiest hobbits in the Shire, and wanted to build on those.

He no longer took long walks around the Shire, as he’d done before, and he gave up visiting elves and dwarves when he stopped speaking to Gandalf.

But of course the rumors and news from the southern lands slowly but surely turned to the worse, as the Dark Lord gathered his power and tightened his grip on the western lands a little at a time. I recall when Rohan fell to Saruman’s goblin armies.

That was a shock for a great many folk, here in the Shire and elsewhere. Soon thereafter, though, Frodo was claiming that after all, Saruman wasn’t Sauron, and Rohan wasn’t that important, and for all anyone knew, the wizard and the Dark Lord might well end up at each other’s throats and spare the rest of us.

Still, it was around that time that Frodo stopped joking about Gandalf’s warnings, and got angry if anyone mentioned them in his hearing. It was around that same time, too, that he started insisting loudly and often that someone would surely stop Sauron.

One day it was the elves: after all, they had three rings of power, and could surely overwhelm the forces of Mordor if they chose to. Another day, the dwarves would do it, or Saruman, or the men of Gondor, or the Valar in the uttermost West. There were so many alternatives! His friends very quickly learned to nod and agree with him, for he would lose his temper and start shouting at them if they disagreed or even asked questions.

When Lorien was destroyed, that was another shock. It was after that, as I recall, that Frodo started hinting darkly that the elves didn’t seem to be doing anything with their three rings of power to stop Sauron, and maybe they weren’t as opposed to him as they claimed. He came up with any number of theories about this or that elvish conspiracy.

The first troubles were starting to affect the Shire by then, of course, and his investments were beginning to lose money; it was probably inevitable that he would start claiming that the conspiracy was aimed in part against hobbits, against the Shire, or against him in particular—especially the latter. They wanted his ring, of course. That played a larger and larger role in his talk as the years passed.

I don’t recall hearing of any particular change in his thinking when word came that Minas Tirith had been taken by the Dark Lord’s armies, but it wasn’t much later that a great many elves came hurrying along the East Road through the Shire, and a few months after that, word came that Rivendell had fallen.

That was not merely a shock, but a blow; Frodo had grown up hearing his uncle’s stories about Rivendell and the elves and half-elves who lived there. There was a time after that news came that some of us briefly wondered if old Frodo might actually find it in himself to do the thing he’d refused to do all those years before.

But of course he did nothing of the kind, not even when the troubles here in the Shire began to bite more and more deeply, when goblins started raiding the borders of the North Farthing and the Buckland had to be abandoned to the Old Forest. No, he started insisting to anyone who would listen that Middle-earth was doomed, that there was no hope left in elves or dying Númenor, that Sauron’s final victory would surely come before—oh, I forget what the date was; it was some year or other not too far from now.

He spent hours reading through books of lore, making long lists of reasons why the Dark Lord’s triumph was surely at hand. Why did he do that? Why, for the same reason that drove him to each of his other excuses in turn: to prove to himself that his decision to refuse the quest hadn’t been the terrible mistake he knew perfectly well it had been.

And then, of course, the Ring betrayed him, as it betrayed Gollum and Isildur before him. He came home late at night, after drinking himself half under the table at the Ivy Bush, and discovered that the Ring was nowhere to be found.

After searching Bag End in a frantic state, he ran out the door and down the road toward Bywater shouting “My precious! My precious!” He was weeping and running blindly in the night, and when he got to the bridge he stumbled; over he went into the water, and that was the end of him. They found his body in a weir downstream the next morning.

The worst of it is that right up to the end, right up to the hour the Ring left him, he still could have embarked on the quest. It would have been a different journey, and quite possibly a harder one. With Rivendell gone, he would have had to go west rather than east, across the Far Downs to Cirdan at the Grey Havens, where you’ll find most of the high-elves who still remain in Middle-earth.

From there, with such companions as might have joined him, he would have had to go north and then eastward through Arnor, past the ruins of Annuminas and Lake Evendim, to the dales of the Misty Mountains, and then across by one of the northern passes: a hard and risky journey, but by no means impossible, for with no more need to hinder travel between Rivendell and Lorien, the Dark Lord’s watch on the mountains has grown slack.

Beyond the mountains, the wood-elves still dwell in the northern reaches of Mirkwood, along with refugees from Lorien and the last of the Beornings. He could have gotten shelter and help there, and boats to travel down the River Running into the heart of Wilderland. From there his way would have led by foot to the poorly guarded northern borders of Mordor—when has Sauron ever had to face a threat from that quarter?

So you see that it could have been done. It could still be done, if someone were willing to do it. Even though so much of what could have been saved thirty years ago has been lost, even though Minas Tirith, Edoras, Lorien and Rivendell have fallen and the line of the kings of Gondor is no more, it would still be worth doing; there would still be many things that could be saved.

Nor would such a journey have to be made alone. Though Aragorn son of Arathorn was slain in the last defense of Rivendell, there are still Rangers to be found in Cirdan’s realm and the old lands of Arnor; there are elf-warriors who hope to avenge the blood shed at Rivendell, and dwarves from the Blue Mountains who have their own ancient grudges against the Dark Lord.

The last free Rohirrim retreated to Minhiriath after Éomer fell at Helm’s Deep, and still war against King Grima, while Gondor west of the river Gilrain clings to a tenuous independence and would rise up against Sauron at need. Would those and the elves of Lindon be enough? No one can say; there are no certainties in this business, except for the one Frodo chose—the certainty that doing nothing will guarantee Sauron’s victory.

And there might even still be a wizard to join such a quest. In fact, there would certainly be one—the very last of them, as far as I know. Gandalf perished when Lorien fell, I am sorry to say, and as for Saruman, the last anyone saw of him, he was screaming in terror as two Ringwraiths dragged him through the door of the Dark Tower; his double-dealing was never likely to bring him to a good end.

The chief of the Ringwraiths rules in Isengard now. Still, there was a third in these western lands: fool and bird-tamer, Saruman called him, having never quite managed to notice that knowledge of the ways of nature and the friendship of birds and beasts might have considerable value in the last need of Middle-earth. Radagast is his name; yes, that would be me.

Why am I telling you all this? Well, you are old Frodo’s youngest cousin, are you not? Very nearly the only one of his relatives with enough of the wild Tookish blood in you to matter, or so I am told. It was just a month ago that you and two of your friends were walking in the woods, and you spoke with quite a bit of anger about how the older generation of hobbits had decided to huddle in their holes until the darkness falls—those were your very words, I believe.

How did I know that? Why, a little bird told me—a wren, to be precise, a very clever and helpful little fellow, who runs errands for me from time to time when I visit this part of Middle-earth. If you meant what you said then, there is still hope.

And the Ring? No, it was not lost, or not for long. It slipped from its chain and fell from old Frodo’s pocket as he stumbled home that last night, and a field mouse spotted it. I had briefed all the animals and birds around Hobbiton, of course, and so she knew what to do; she dragged the Ring into thick grass, and when dawn came, caught the attention of a jay, who took it and hid it high up in a tree. I had to trade quite a collection of sparkling things for it!

But here it is, in this envelope, waiting for someone to take up the quest that Frodo refused.

The choice is yours, my dear hobbit. What will you do?


A New Farmer's Almanac

SUBHEAD: A publication directed at new farmer's interested in health, self-reliance, food security and regionalism.

By Stuart Jeanne Bramhall on 22 April 2014 for Dissident Voice -

Image above: Detail of first page of Poor Richard 1733 Almanack, published by Benjamin Franklin. From (

The Greenhorns, which publishes The New Farmer’s Almanac for the Year 2013, was founded in 2007 to support thousands of young farmer’s who are leaving US cities to start small scale organic farms.

An economically precarious occupation, farming is subject to numerous forces over which the farmer has no control. Among others, these include land speculation, unfavorable weather, and constant downward pressure on crop prices.

The New Farmer’s Almanac is modeled on the annual Old Farmer’s Almanac, which dates back to revolutionary times. The main difference is the new almanac’s focus on the myriad of networks and resources which have grown up around the food localization movement.

Food localization is the name given to a growing international initiative to improve health and reduce environmental harm by switching from imported and chemically-laden processed foods to fresh, locally grown organic products.

The Old Farmer’s Almanac
Historically the purpose of almanacs has been to provide farmers with working information about the earth’s natural cycles and the art and business of agriculture. The Old Farmer’s Almanac dates back to Ben Franklin’s Poor Richard’s Almanac, an annual publication he launched, under the name Richard Saunders, in 1732.

Franklin’s wasn’t the first and it clearly drew on earlier English and North American almanacs. In pioneer days, the farmer’s almanac was the only reading material in the household other than the Bible and was expected to provide a year’s worth of entertainment.

Like the Old Farmer’s Almanac, the New Farmer’s Almanac offers long range weather forecasts, full moon dates, sunrise and sunset times, best planting dates, crop advice, tides tables, riddles, games, recipes, songs, and folk wisdom. It also includes intriguing reprints of essays, proverbs, and classified ads from historic almanacs

The Farm Utopia Movement
I found the introduction, which describes America’s farm utopia movement, the most interesting section. Throughout US history, idealists have left the city to set up small scale rural farms in their desire to escape the evils of mercantilist society. Examples include the Shakers in 1780, the Mormon start-up in 1817, the Transcendentalists at Fruitlands in 1840, the Free Love Christian Movement in Oneida in 1858, and Chautauqua, the “righteous rural education scheme,” in 1874. The 19960s also saw a large back-to-the land movement as part of the hippy subculture.

The New Farmer’s Almanac also contains numerous informational articles on traditional farming skills, such as animal husbandry, pasture design, beekeeping, worm farming, invasive plants, frost management, fermented foods, cheese making, and preparing oil infusions, tinctures, and salves from herbs.

One essay discusses moon planting schedules practiced in Maori and other indigenous societies. These were popularized by Rudolf Steiner (founder of the Waldorf school movement) in the 1920s. The inclusion of full moon dates in every Old Farmer’s Almanac suggests that early New World farmers also planted according to phases of the moon. The modern biointensive farming movement continues to employ moon planting schedules.

Food Policy Councils
The remainder of the book discusses the history of farmer activism, through the 20th century Grange and populist movements, and the modern young farmer and food localization movement.

I was most impressed by the chapter on the Food Policy Council Movement. As of May 2012 there were 193 Food Policy Councils, involving over 45 communities and 3,500 participants. Their purpose: to provide communities direct input into where their food comes from and how it’s produced.
There are also features on the history of the organics movement (which started back in 1911), as well as reading lists and links to resources on apprenticeships and agriculture education, business and finance issues, legal advice, sustainable farming techniques, and Community Supported Agriculture schemes (CSAs).


Marshall Islands sues US

SUBHEAD: They suffered 67 US nuclear bomb tests. They're suing for violating 1968 Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty.

By Staff on 25 April 2014 for Counter Currents -

Image above:  Oil painting of "The Baker Blast" by eye witness Charles Bittingert, 1946. The Baker blast produced millions of gallons of water that hung in the atmosphere, where they mixed with fission particles and became highly radioactive. From (

In an unprecedented move for a peaceful, nuclear arms free-world, the Marshall Islands, a Pacific nation, has sued nine nuclear-armed powers including the US. The country has also sued the US president Barack Obama and three US secretaries.

Media reports said:
  • The tiny Pacific country was used for 67 US nuclear tests after World War II over a 12-year period.
  • The tiny country’s lawsuit demands that the nuclear armed powers meet their obligations toward disarmament.
  • It accuses them of 'flagrant violations' of international law.

The island group-country filed suit on April 24, 2014 against each of the nine countries in the International Court of Justice in The Hague, Netherlands.

It also filed a federal lawsuit against the United States in San Francisco, naming President Barack Obama, the departments and secretaries of defense and energy and the National Nuclear Security Administration.

The Marshall Islands claims the nine countries are modernizing their nuclear arsenals instead of negotiating disarmament, and it estimates that they will spend $1 trillion on those arsenals over the next decade.

"I personally see it as kind of David and Goliath, except that there are no slingshots involved," David Krieger, president of the California-based Nuclear Age Peace Foundation, told the news agency AP. He is acting as a consultant in the case. There are hopes that other countries will join the legal effort, he said.

The countries targeted also include Russia, Britain, France, China, Israel, India, Pakistan and North Korea. The last four are not parties to the 1968 Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, but the lawsuits argue they are bound by its provisions under "customary international law."

None of the countries had been informed in advance of the lawsuits.

The US State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki declined to comment on the lawsuit.

Paul Hirschson, a spokesman for the Israeli Foreign Ministry, said he was unaware of the lawsuit, however "it doesn't sound relevant because we are not members of the nuclear nonproliferation treaty."

"Our people have suffered the catastrophic and irreparable damage of these weapons, and we vow to fight so that no one else on earth will ever again experience these atrocities," the country's foreign minister, Tony de Brum, said in a statement announcing the lawsuits.

The country is seeking action, not compensation.

It wants the courts to require that the nine nuclear-armed states meet their obligations.

"There hasn't been a case where individual governments are saying to the nuclear states, 'You are not complying with your disarmament obligations," John Burroughs, executive director of the New York-based Lawyers Committee on Nuclear Policy, part of the international pro bono legal team, told the AP. "This is a contentious case that could result in a binding judgment."

Several Nobel Peace Prize winners are said to support the legal action, including South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu and Iranian-born rights lawyer Shirin Ebadi.

"We must ask why these leaders continue to break their promises and put their citizens and the world at risk of horrific devastation," Tutu said in the statement announcing the legal action.

The Marshall Islands is asking the countries to accept the International Court of Justice's jurisdiction in this case and explain their positions on the issue.

The court has seen cases on nuclear weapons before. In the 1970s, Australia and New Zealand took France to the court in an effort to stop its atmospheric nuclear tests in the Pacific.

Image above:  Detail of watercolor painting of "Remains of Bikini Village" by Arthur Beaumont, 1446. The Baker blast wave swept ashore and caused extensive damage to the village. From (

The idea to challenge the nine nuclear-armed powers came out of a lunch meeting in late 2012 after the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation gave the Marshall Islands foreign minister a leadership award, Krieger said.

"I've known Tony long time," he said. "We both have had a strong interest for a long time in seeing action by the nuclear weapons states."

Frustration with the nuclear-armed states has grown in recent years as action toward disarmament appeared to stall, Burroughs and Krieger said.

"One thing I would point to is the US withdrawal in 2002 from the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty; that cast a shadow over future disarmament movement," Krieger said. The treaty originally had bound the U.S. and the Soviet Union. "One other thing, in 1995, the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty had a review and was extended indefinitely. I think the nuclear states party to the treaty felt that once that happened, there was no longer pressure on them to fulfill their obligations."

In 1996, the International Court of Justice said unanimously that an obligation existed to bring the disarmament negotiations to a conclusion, Burroughs said.

Instead, "progress toward disarmament has essentially been stalemated since then," he said.

Some of the nuclear-armed countries might argue in response to these new lawsuits that they've been making progress in certain areas or that they support the start of negotiations toward disarmament, but the Marshall Islands government is likely to say, "Good, but not enough" or "Your actions belie your words," Burroughs said.

The Marshall Islands foreign minister has approached other countries about filing suit as well, Krieger said. "I think there has been some interest, but I'm not sure anybody is ready.”


Ecoterrorist Coprorations

SOURCE: Judie Lundborg Hoeppner (
SUBHEAD: These corporations have repeatedly proven their ability to kill and maim the Earth. They are the eco-terrorists.

By Julien Miller on 24 April 2014 in Island Breath -

Image above: Who are the ecoterrorists? In Midland, Michigan, a DOW Dioxin plant contaminated the area of Tittabawassee River, Saginaw River and Saginaw Bay. Dow was forced into a Superfund Cleanup. Metal warning signs were provided by DOW Chemical at Saginaw and Freeland public parks and public boat launches in the region warning about soils contact and eating local fish. From (

Note from Source: On April 22nd the Garden Island News published an article with a controversial title  Attorneys: 2491 backers ‘eco-terrorists’: It concerned Kauai’s biotech seed industry asking for a judge to nullify the county’s pesticide and genetically modified crop ordinance without going to trial. Their thinking was the transparency on pesticide use and GMO crop locations would bring out "ecoterrorists" activities in their fields. The following is a response submitted to the TGI for publication.]

Clearly the lawyer for DOW, Syngenta, BASF and DuPont meant to say,

"Our clients are eco-terrorists and these are their demands:
  1. DOW, Syngenta, BASF and DuPont want to spray experimental pesticides right up to schools and hospitals.
  2. DOW, Syngenta, BASF and DuPont want to keep what and when they spray experimental pesticides a secret so that no scientists can connect these poisons blowing around in the trades with illnesses and disease.
  3. DOW, Syngenta, BASF and DuPont oppose labeling of GMO's because they don't believe people have the right to know what they are eating just like they don't have a right to clean water or clean air.
  4. DOW, Syngenta, BASF and DuPont are more concerned with profit then with the people or environment of Hawaii.
If you read the items below especially the area entitled 'A wide range of impacts" you will see proof positive that our clients are, without a doubt, the eco-terrorists.

"As of Dec 2000, EPA has named Dow and Union Carbide potentially
responsible parties for a combined 136 hazardous waste sites." The other
manufacture of agent Agent Orange which they claimed was safe but which
now is known to have killed and maimed hundreds of thousands of people. 
More DOW facts:

"Syngenta and its subsidiaries are responsible for pollution resulting in 18 Superfund sites. Sued by 16 cities for contaminating their drinking water.
More Syngenta facts:

" In Dec 2000, DuPont reportedly shared liability for 348 hazardous waste sites and set aside US$408 million for remediation. As of January 2002, EPA named DuPont a potentially responsible party for 19 superfund sites."
More DuPont facts:

"Five of BASF’s manufacturing facilities in the U.S. rank amongst the worst 10% of comparable facilities for toxic releases. BASF released 17 million pound of toxins in Texas in 1996 making it Texas’ second largest polluter."
More BASF facts:

Terrorists kill and destroy and the above corporations have repeatedly proven their ability to kill animals and people, pollute, cause disease, destroy rivers, land, and the water supply. These corporations truly deserve to be called terrorists.

It would have been silly to call the people of Hawaii eco-terrorists where aina rules.

Must have been a Freudian slip."