Heating Up


Local Produce Sites

From the website www.pickyourown.org:

Carter Farms - Strawberries P.O. Box 172, Eagle Springs, NC 27242. Phone: (910) 673-7730. Phone:(910) 673-2666. Directions: Located on 673 Eagle Springs Road one half mile from Hwy 211 in Eagle Springs. Open: April 15-June 1; Call for hours and availability. Crop availability: Strawberries - April-JuneSweet Potatoes - August-November.

Frank's Strawberries, Sweet Corn & Vegetable Barn - Beans, Cabbage,Corn, Potatoes, Squash, Strawberries, Tomatoes, Vegetables 444 Bryant Road, Carthage, NC 28327. Phone: (910) 947-5775. Directions:Located 6 miles east of Carthage on Hwy 15/501 to Tony Gas & GroceryStore, turn on Bryant Road one half mile to strawberry barn and parking lot. Open: Sunday - Saturday 7:30 am-6:30 pm. Crop availability:Strawberries - April 16-June 20 Cabbage - April 16-May 15 Beets - June15-July 15 Squash - May 15-October 1 Sweet Corn, Butterbeans, Greenbeans, Okra & Peas June-October 1 Melons - June 15-September 10 Tomatoes & Potatoes - June 15-October 1.

Pilson Strawberry Farm - Strawberries1175 Cranes Creek Road, Cameron, NC 28326. Phone: (910) 245-7364. Directions: Located on US 1 Hwy between Cameron and Vass #1888, 3 miles south of overhead bridge at Cameron on US 1 Hwy. Open: Tuesday, Thursday& Saturday 7:30 am-'til sold out. Crop availability: Strawberries - mid April-early June.

Preferred Stock Blueberries - Blueberries1460 Red Hill Road , Cameron , NC 28326 . Phone: 910-949-3451. Click here for a map to the farm. Email: rwnelson@email.unc.edu Open: Sunday- Saturday; June 10 thru August 20. Typical harvest dates: Blueberries -June-August. Directions: Take 24/27 exit to Cameron off US 1, take right go past Cameron Elementary then take right at fork on to Red Hill Road. Drive approximately 2.6 miles to 1460 Red Hill Road. Look for sign.

Pressley Farms "Berry Patch" - Cantaloupe, Corn, Onions, Pumpkin,Strawberries, Vegetables, Watermelon, Crop Maze, Picnic Facilities, Hay Rides, Tours. 1051 Union Church Road, Cameron, NC 28326. Phone: (910) 947-5775. Phone:(910) 947-2735. Email: jbailey910@earthlink.net. Open: Monday-Saturday 7 am-6 pm; mid April thru Sept. Crop availability: Strawberries -April-June Green Onions - April Cantaloupes - June-July Sweet corn &vegetables - June-August Watermelon - July Pumpkins - Sept-Oct. Corn maze, hayrides, picnic areas. Church & Civic groups, birthday parties and school groups welcomed. Directions: Located 5 miles north of Carthage on NC 15/501. Right on Bryant Rd, 1/2 mile on right.

Ring's Strawberry Farm - Strawberries, Vegetables P.O. Box 118, Lakeview, NC 28350. Phone: (910) 949-2657. Directions: Located on Airport Road 1843, 1.5 miles west of Lakeview, 2.5 miles eastof airport. Open: 7:30 am-noon; late April-end of season; Call for days. Crop availability: Strawberries & Vegetables - in season.

The Big T


From Thich Nhat Hanh

A Public Talk by Thich Nhat Hanh
Riverside Church, New York, September 25th, 2001

Part I
My Dear Friends, I would like to tell you how I practice when I get angry. During the war in Vietnam, there was a lot of injustice, and many thousands, including friends of mine, many disciples of mine, were killed. I got very angry. One time I learned that the city of Ben Tre, a city of three hundred thousand people, was bombarded by American aviation just because some guerillas came to the city and tried to shoot down American aircrafts. The guerrillas did not succeed, and after that they went away. And the city was destroyed. And the military man who was responsible for that declared later that he had to destroy the city of Ben Tre to save it. I was very angry.

But at that time, I was already a practitioner, a solid practitioner. I did not say anything, I did not act, because I knew that acting or saying things while you are angry is not wise. It may create a lot of destruction. I went back to myself, recognizing my anger, embracing it, and looked deeply into the nature of my suffering.

In the Buddhist tradition, we have the practice of mindful breathing, of mindful walking, to generate the energy of mindfulness. It is exactly with that energy of mindfulness that we can recognize, embrace, and transform our anger. Mindfulness is the kind of energy that helps us to be aware of what is going on inside of us and around us, and anybody can be mindful. If you drink a cup of tea and you know that you are drinking a cup of tea, that is mindful drinking. When you breathe in and you know that you are breathing in, and you focus your attention on your in-breath, that is mindfulness of breathing. When you make a step and you are aware you are making a step, that is called mindfulness of walking. The basic practice in Zen centers, meditation centers, is the practice of generating mindfulness every moment of your daily life. When you are angry, you are aware that you are angry. Because you already have the energy of mindfulness in you created by the practice, that is why you have enough of it in order to recognize, embrace, look deeply, and understand the nature of your suffering.

I was able to understand the nature of the suffering in Vietnam. I saw that not only Vietnamese suffered, but Americans suffered as well during the war in Vietnam. The young American man who was sent to Vietnam in order to kill and be killed underwent a lot of suffering, and the suffering continues today. The family, the nation also suffers. I could see that the cause of our suffering in Vietnam is not American soldiers. It is a kind of policy that is not wise. It is a misunderstanding. It is fear that lies at the foundation of the policy.

Many in Vietnam had burned themselves in order to call for a cessation of the destruction. They did not want to inflict pain on other people, they wanted to take the pain on themselves in order to get the message across. But the sounds of planes and bombs was too loud. The people in the world, not many of them were capable of hearing us. So I decided to go to America and call for a cessation of the violence. That was in 1966, and because of that I was prevented from going home. And I have lived in exile since that time, 1966.

I was able to see that the real enemy of man is not man. The real enemy is our ignorance, discrimination, fear, craving, and violence. I did not have hate for the American people, the American nation. I came to America in order to plead for a kind of looking deeply so that your government could revise that kind of policy. I remember I met with Secretary of Defense Robert MacNamara. I told him the truth about the suffering. He kept me with him for a long time and he listened deeply to me, and I was very grateful for his quality of listening. Three months later, when the war intensified, I heard that he resigned from his post.

Hatred and anger was not in my heart. That is why I was listened to by many young people in my country, advocating them to follow the path of reconciliation, and together we helped to bring about the new organizations for peace in Paris. I hope my friends here in New York are able to practice the same. I understood, I understand suffering and injustice, and I feel that I understand deeply the suffering of New York, of America. I feel I am a New Yorker. I feel I am an American.

You want to be there for you, to be with you, not to act, not to say things when you are not calm. There are ways that we can go back to ourselves and practice so that we rediscover our calmness, our tranquillity, our lucidity. There are ways that we can practice so that we understand the real causes of the suffering. And that understanding will help us to do what needs to be done, and not do what could be harmful to us and to other people. Let us practice mindful breathing for half a minute before we continue.

In Buddhist psychology, we speak of consciousness in terms of seeds. We have the seed of anger in our consciousness. We have the seed of despair, of fear. But we also have the seed of understanding, wisdom, compassion, and forgiveness. If we know how to water the seed of wisdom and compassion in us, that seed, these seeds will manifest themselves as powerful sorts of energy helping us to perform an act of forgiveness and compassion. It will be able to bring relief right away to our nation, to our world. That is my conviction.

I believe very strongly that the American people have a lot of wisdom and compassion within themselves. I want you to be your best when you begin to act, for the sake of America and for the sake of the world. With lucidity, with understanding and compassion, you will turn to the people who have caused a lot of damage and suffering to you and ask them a lot of questions.
"We do not understand enough of your suffering, could you tell us? We have not done anything to you, we have not tried to destroy you, to discriminate against you, and we do not understand why you have done this to us. There must be a lot of suffering within you. We want to listen to you. We may be able to help you. And together we can help build peace in the world." And if you are solid, if you are compassionate when you make this statement, they will tell you about their suffering.

In Buddhism we speak of the practice of deep listening, compassionate listening, a wonderful method by which we can restore communication—communication between partners, communication between father and son, communication between mother and daughter, communication between nations.The practice of deep listening should be taken up by parents, by partners, so that they can understand the suffering of the other person. That person might be our wife, our husband, our son, or our daughter.

We may have enough good will to listen, but many of us have lost our capacity to listen because we have a lot of anger and violence in us. The other people do not know how to use kind speech; they always blame and judge. And language is very often sour, bitter. That kind of speech will always touch off the irritation and the anger in us and prevent us from listening deeply and with compassion. That is why good will to listen is not enough. We need some training in order to listen deeply with compassion. I think, I believe, I have the conviction, that a father, if he knows how to listen to his son deeply and with compassion, he will be able to open the door of his son's heart and restore communication.

People in our Congress and our Senate should also train themselves in the art of deep listening, of compassionate listening. There is a lot of suffering within the country, and many people feel their suffering is not understood. That is why politicians, members of the Parliament, members of the Congress have to train themselves in the art of deep listening—listening to their own people, listening to the suffering in the country, because there is injustice in the country, there is discrimination in the country. There is a lot of anger in the country. If we can listen to each other, we can also listen to the people outside of the country. Many of them are in a situation of despair, many suffer because of injustice and discrimination. The amount of violence and despair in them is very huge. And if we know how to listen as a nation to their suffering, we can already bring a lot of relief. They will feel that they are being understood. That can diffuse the bomb already.

I always advise a couple that when they are angry with each other, they should go back to their breathing, their mindful walking, embrace their anger, and look deeply into the nature of their anger. And they may be able to transform that anger in just fifteen minutes or a few hours. If they cannot do that, then they will have to tell the other person that they suffer, that they are angry, and that they want the other person to know it. They will try to say it in a calm way. "Darling, I suffer, and I want you to know it." And in Plum Village, where I live and practice, we advise our friends not to keep their anger for more than twenty-four hours without telling the other person. "Darling, I suffer, and I want you to know it. I do not know why you have done such a thing to me. I do not know why you have said such a thing to me." That is the first thing they should tell the other person. And if they are not calm enough to say it, they can write it down on a piece of paper.

The second thing they can say or write down is, "I am doing my best." It means "I am practicing not to say anything, not to do anything with anger, because I know that in doing so I will create more suffering. So I am embracing my anger, I am looking deeply into the nature of my anger." You tell the other person that you are practicing holding your anger, understanding your anger, in order to find out whether that anger has come from your own misunderstanding, wrong perception, your lack of mindfulness and your lack of skillfulness.

And the third thing you might like to say to him or her is, "I need your help." Usually when we get angry with someone, we want to do the opposite. We want to say, "I don't need you. I can survive by myself alone." "I need your help" means "I need your practice, I need your deep looking, I need you to help me to overcome this anger because I suffer." And if I suffer, there is no way that you can be happy, because happiness is not an individual matter. If the other person suffers, there is no way that you can be truly happy alone. So helping the other person to suffer less, to smile, will make you happy also.

The Buddha said, "This is like this, because that is like that. This is because that is." The three sentences I propose are the language of true love. It will inspire the other person to practice, to look deeply, and together you will bring about understanding and reconciliation. I propose to my friends to write down these sentences on a piece of paper and slip it into their wallet. Every time they get angry at their partner or their son or daughter, they can practice mindful breathing, take it out, and read. It will be a bell of mindfulness telling them what to do and what not to do. These are the three sentences: "I suffer and I want you to know it." "I am doing my best." "Please help."

I believe that in an international conflict, the same kind of practice is possible also. That is why I propose to America as a nation to do the same. You tell the people you believe to be the cause of your suffering that you suffer, that you want them to know it, that you want to know why they have done such a thing to you, and you practice listening deeply and with compassion.

The quality of our being is very important, because that question, that statement is not a condemnation, but a willingness to create true communication. "We are ready to listen to you. We know that you must have suffered a lot in order to have done such a thing to us. You may have thought that we are the cause of your suffering. So please tell us whether we have tried to destroy you, whether we have tried to discriminate against you, so that we can understand. And we know that when we understand your suffering, we may be able to help you." That is what we call in Buddhism "loving speech" or "kind language," and it has the purpose of creating communication, restoring communication. And with communication restored, peace will be possible.

This summer, a group of Palestinians came to Plum Village and practiced together with a group of Israelis, a few dozen of them. We sponsored their coming and practicing together. In two weeks, they learned to sit together, walk mindfully together, enjoy silent meals together, and sit quietly in order to listen to each other. The practice taken up was very successful. At the end of the two weeks practice, they gave us a wonderful, wonderful report. One lady said, "Thay, this is the first time in my life that I see that peace in the Middle East is possible." Another young person said, "Thay, when I first arrived in Plum Village, I did not believe that Plum Village was something real because in the situation of my country, you live in constant fear and anger. When your children get onto the bus, you are not sure that they will be coming home. When you go to the market, you are not sure that you will survive to go home to your family. When you come to Plum Village, you see people looking at each other with loving kindness, talking with other kindly, walking peacefully, and doing everything mindfully. We did not believe that it was possible. It did not look real to me."

But in the peaceful setting of Plum Village, they were able to be together, to live together, and to listen to each other, and finally understanding came. They promised that when they returned to the Middle East, they would continue the practice. They will organize a day of practice every week at the local level and a day of mindfulness at the national level. And they plan to come to Plum Village as a bigger group to continue the practice.

I think that if nations like America can organize that kind of setting where people can come together and spend their time practicing peace, then they will be able to calm down their feelings, their fears, and peaceful negotiation will be much easier.

To Grow Shiitake Mushrooms



Traditional Farming MORE Productive

"We have, in other words, been deceived. Traditional farming has been stamped out all over the world not because it is less productive than monoculture, but because it is, in some respects, more productive. Organic cultivation has been characterised as an enemy of progress for the simple reason that it cannot be monopolised: it can be adopted by any farmer anywhere, without the help of multinational companies. Though it is more productive to grow several species or several varieties of crops in one field, the biotech companies must reduce diversity in order to make money, leaving farmers with no choice but to purchase their most profitable seeds. This is why they have spent the last 10 years buying up seed breeding institutes and lobbying governments to do what ours has done: banning the sale of any seed which has not been officially - and expensively - registered and approved.

All this requires an unrelenting propaganda war against the tried and tested techniques of traditional farming, as the big companies and their scientists dismiss them as unproductive, unsophisticated and unsafe.

The truth, so effectively suppressed that it is now almost impossible to believe, is that organic farming is the key to feeding the world. "

NC Environmental Retrospective

[from The Conservation Council of NC]
A Year's Retrospective: NC's Most Important Environmental Stories of 2006

Congress Changes for the Greener in Mid-Term Elections

The biggest environmental story of the year nationwide had to be the turnover of Congressional leadership through the mid-term elections. More than a simple change in party control, these Congressional elections removed majority support from the most anti-environmental leadership in modern American history. They were replaced with a bunch whose voting records are generally very green, according to the non-partisan League of Conservation Voters (LCV). The story is exemplified by the 2006 LCV environmental voting scores of the outgoing vs. incoming House Speakers: 0% for outgoing Rep. Dennis Hastert (R-IL), and 100% for incoming Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA).

Among the nine members of LCV's designated "Dirty Dozen" members of Congress (including an astounding four incumbent Senators) who went down in defeat was one of North Carolina's own. U.S. Rep. "Chainsaw Charlie" Taylor (R-NC11) was defeated by political newcomer Heath Shuler, who made his pro-conservation values a big part of his campaign.

Conservation Ranks Grow in General Assembly

The results were less dramatic—party control of neither chamber changed hands—but there was still a noteworthy growth in the number of conservation-oriented members of the N.C. General Assembly in the November elections. 100% of the Conservation Council's endorsed incumbent legislators in the November voting won re-election, and at least three big changes worked in the environment's favor. In the N.C. House, Ty Harrell in Wake County and Cullie Tarleton in Watauga and Ashe counties defeated incumbents with poor environmental voting records. In the N.C. Senate, Tony Foriest of Alamance County upset long-time incumbent Hugh Webster, who had one of the worst environmental voting records in that chamber. In the process of working these elections, the Conservation Council's CPAC further strengthened its reputation for impacting close races, while putting a record amount of financial resources into campaigns.

New Green Leaders Emerge in Legislature

Even before the fall elections, we saw a distinct pattern of new environmental leadership emerging in the General Assembly. After years of having to lean on a few heroes like Joe Hackney, the environmental movement saw new help stand out in this year's short session. Among the new green leaders: Rep. Pricey Harrison, who showed her savvy in the battle for a greener state budget; Rep. Grier Martin, who successfully championed the "Schoolchildren's Health Act" to final passage, and who led a "youth" uprising in the House to spring the landfill moratorium bill from committee to a successful floor vote and passage; and Sen. Janet Cowell, who led Senate efforts for the successful "Drinking Water Supply Reservoir Protection Act".

Stormwater Controls Expand After Battle

After a long, hard struggle, North Carolina now has substantially expanded controls on stormwater runoff in key areas of the state. In a late-passing compromise bill, stormwater management requirements were expanded to 26 full counties under the Phase II rules; all municipal jurisdictions within those counties are covered by the same tougher requirements; and the impervious surface percentage limits on new development near shellfish waters, which triggers engineered stormwater control requirements, was dropped from 24% to 12%.

Good and Bad Bills Break Through Late Jam During Short Session

Of course, not all of the General Assembly results were goodness and light. The sneak-goblins which emerged and were shoved through late included an outrageous giveaway to Duke Energy of exempting its proposed new Cliffside coal units from full environmental impact reviews; and a partial retreat from new standards requiring that new developments in two key river basins pay for their true environmental impact mitigation costs. On the other hand, the above-mentioned moratorium on permitting of new mega-landfills also passed late, and some other mischievous proposals were blocked from passage when strengthened environmental legislative leadership stood firm in opposition.

U.S. Supreme Court Moves Backward

This is a developing story that we've started worrying about this year, even though the full impact hasn't shown itself yet. Two new appointments to the U.S. Supreme Court were individuals with highly worrisome records on regulatory issues. We fear that as cases come forward for final judicial rulings, the new Court may strike down long-standing precedent permitting regulation of pollution and environmental impacts. We'll watch further developments with concern.

N.C. Court Elections Bolster Environmental Precedent

On the state level, the judicial news was better. Four of the seven N.C. Supreme Court seats were up for election this year due to a combination of term expirations and retirements. Some of the candidates for these seats had signaled extremely worrisome views on regulatory authority and so-called "property rights". To our great relief, they lost. Mainstream jurists who are likely to continue to support established precedent in favor of reasonable regulatory authority over land use and pollution control won all four seats. Whew!

Struggle Continues Over National Forests

In Washington, the Bush Administration continued its ill-considered effort to sell off great blocks of public lands in our National Forests, and to open other roadless areas up for ill-advised short-term exploitation. However, a bipartisan wave of Congressional representatives and governors pushed back hard. The governors of North Carolina, South Carolina, and Virginia all opted to protect their states' roadless areas in National Forests; and a clear majority of even this year's Congress just said "no" to the foolish proposal to sell public lands for short-term operational program money.

Offshore Drilling Ban Holds

A long year of dramatic back-and-forth Congressional votes on cracking the offshore drilling ban along the mid-Atlantic closed with the ban still standing. We don't want to grow over-confident, but with new greener leadership taking over Congress, sane offshore policy may have weathered its worst storm.

Mercury Rules Approved

After another long year-plus of rulemaking debates, North Carolina's Environmental Management Commission (EMC) adopted new controls on mercury air pollution that clearly go beyond the weak rules proposed by the Bush EPA. The new state rules were a product of compromise, and their effectiveness is heavily dependent on assertive enforcement by state Air Quality regulators. In theory, however, they present a good chance to reduce emissions of polluting mercury faster and farther than the feds proposed. The Rules Review Commission actually did the right thing as well, and slam-dunked a late, weak challenge from the flat-earth society more formally known as the John Locke Foundation.

Cooper, NC Demand Stronger Interstate Pollution Controls

In February, N.C. Attorney General Roy Cooper filed a federal lawsuit against the Tennessee Valley Authority, demanding faster and stronger cleanup of damaging pollution from their coal-fired power plants. In June, Cooper filed a petition with the U.S. Court of Appeals, asking for help in making the EPA act favorably on North Carolina's request for aid in controlling such interstate pollution. So far, the federal courts have refused requests by the defendants to dismiss these claims, and they continue to move forward.

Utilities Ask for More Nukes

Not all this year's requests for action on power plants were environmentally welcome. Both Duke Energy and Progress Energy kicked off the process of asking federal and state regulators for permission to build new commercial nuclear power plants in the Carolinas. Duke even wants to go back to the legislatively-abandoned old scam of guaranteeing that ratepayers will foot the multi-billion dollar bills for new construction—even if it is never completed and used. Why, we can't expect Duke's stockholders to bear the risks for bad construction decisions, now can we?

Catawba Water Transfer Request Ignites Storm Over Interbasin Transfers

The cities of Concord and Kannapolis started a firestorm over water, when they asked for up to 26 million gallons a day of water from the Catawba River be transferred to their use in the Yadkin basin and not returned. The howls of river advocates and local governments in the Catawba River basin were heard all the way to Raleigh. A decision by the EMC was postponed for more hearings and comment, and the EMC is now scheduled to rule on the request in January. If the decision favors the transfer, the Catawba basin governments—and the state of South Carolina—have promised to sue. This case points out the weak guidance provided by current legislation for settling disputes over water rights between those who have water for future growth—and those who don't, and want their neighbors to have to hand it over.

Greenhouse Gases Reach Supreme Court

Here's another environmental player to be named later—does the EPA have Clean Air Act authority and responsibility to regulate greenhouse gases (especially carbon dioxide)? A coalition of states and environmental groups reached the U.S. Supreme Court late this year with the argument that the answer is "yes". The Supremes should let us know their view sometime in 2007.

Nowhere Road May Have Reached End

With the fall of Rep. Charles Taylor, the last major Congressional defender of the proposed "Road to Nowhere" into the heart of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the nowhere road may have reached its final end. New Rep. Heath Shuler has promised to back the alternative cash settlement with Swain County, which would put the ill-advised road to rest. We're pulling for this bad cat to have given up its ninth life, and head in 2007 for the ash heap of history.

Energy Policy Emerges as Central Debate

Our final big story of 2006 requires some interpretation. During the election campaigns nationally, poll after poll showed the public to be fed up with "big oil" and rising energy prices, and to be ready for a major effort to promote energy efficiency and the development of clean renewable energy sources. The election outcomes largely seemed to bear out those numbers. We look for Congress and state legislatures around the nation to take this lesson in political numbers to heart beginning next year. Of course, that could be interpreted as a prediction—so let us say instead that we hope that they will take this lesson to heart.

Hope Is In the Air

The Hidden Opportunity in Global Warming
By Marjorie Kelly, Tellus InstitutePosted on December 21, 2006, Printed on December 29, 2006

While the Baker-Hamilton report from the Iraq Study Group dominates the news in recent weeks with its rebuke of the colossal mess the United States has made in Iraq, there is another report released at the end of October -- even more vital in its import -- that has gone virtually unnoticed. I'm referring to the Stern Review on the Economics of Climate Change, released by the U.K. government, which has received far too little attention in the U.S. press. It too is about a colossal mess we've made, not in a single nation but in the atmosphere of the entire planet, with possible consequences for all life on earth.

If the news in the Stern Review is scary to think about, it's ultimately a message of hope: It's not too late to act on global warming -- provided we take strong, united global action, starting now and increasing over the next 10 years. Indeed, "delay would be dangerous and much more costly," the Review warns. What's powerful about the report is that it positions the issue in easy-to-grasp economic terms. It estimates that acting now to stabilize climate change could cost 1 percent of global GDP each year -- which is relatively manageable -- but not acting could create losses that dwarf that. Likely the losses from inaction, the Review estimates, would reach 5 percent to 20 percent of global GDP year after year, "now and forever."

For politicians who argue that taking action now to reduce global warming emissions is too costly in economic terms, the Stern Review offers a stern rebuke: The real economic damage will come not from action but inaction. And as a measure of the report's economic credibility, it was commissioned by the British Chancellor of the Exchequer, was prepared by one of the world's leading economists, Sir Nicholas Stern, and has been endorsed by four Nobel Prize-winning economists plus the president of the World Bank.

The Stern Review offers powerful economic ammunition for the global warming debates that will play out in politics in coming months and years. But as useful as it is, it takes us only part of the way. An analysis by my colleagues at the Tellus Institute shows that the report stops short on two counts.

First, it looks only at environmental damages that can be monetized and quantified, when the risk of catastrophic changes in the climate and ecological systems are far more unknowable. "The Stern Review should be considered a conservative estimate of the dangers," says Tellus President Paul Raskin. By using only monetized values, he added, "it's like looking at a mountain through a pinhole."

Second -- and more consequential -- is the question of how we get to a world of reduced emissions. The Stern Review concludes that climate stabilization will require that annual greenhouse gas emissions be brought down more than 80 percent below current levels. And it predicts that this can be achieved without significantly compromising world economic growth -- since the shift to a low-carbon economy will create huge business opportunities in developing low-carbon and high-efficiency products. As the U.K. Treasury put it in a public statement,
"Tackling climate change is the pro-growth strategy."

While this optimistic assessment may in an economic sense prove true, it underplays the enormous lifestyle changes that will ultimately be necessary if massive global climate change is to be averted. "It's a question of both necessity and opportunity," Raskin says. The necessity is that we can't get to a sustainable world by any other pathway than that of deep and fundamental changes in how we live. The opportunity is that this could lead us "to a world of greater human fulfillment," he adds.

Imagine, for a moment, that each of us reduced our own personal energy use by 80 percent. Families might have one car rather than two, we might drive dramatically less often -- staying home rather than going to the mall, living closer to where we work -- and we might travel less frequently, in all instances leaving us more time for our families, potentially more connected to our neighbors. We might choose smaller houses that are far more energy-efficient, and we'd likely be buying local -- giving up our Italian sparkling water shipped halfway around the world. We might eat fruits and vegetables in season, reestablishing our relationship to the rhythm of the seasons.

We might, in short, have better, happier lives. We might have less stuff, yet closer relations with nature and our fellow human beings, and greater well-being as a result.

Climate change might, in the end, prove itself an optimal crisis. It could be among the catalytic forces -- along with reaching peak oil production and other forms of ecological exhaustion -- that are grave enough to break us out of our cultural trance, yet not so insurmountable as to crush our spirit. It might spur human society to the fundamental transformation that our culture so desperately needs, to move us from a culture of consumption and waste and isolation to one of sustainability and community and, yes I'll say it, happiness.

In his new book, "The Upside of Down: Catastrophe, Creativity, and the Renewal of Civilization," Thomas Homer-Dixon makes precisely this point. Many religious people think we're entering end times, he writes, and their intuition is largely right. "Some kind of real trouble does lie ahead. That trouble doesn't have to be calamitous in its ultimate results, though," he writes.
Homer-Dixon -- like many people today -- sees that some kind of societal breakdown is increasingly likely. But it can give rise to what he terms "catagenesis," a collapse or breakdown that leads to genesis, to the birth of "something new, unexpected, and potentially good."
Constrained breakdown can "shatter the forces standing in the way of change," he writes. "It can, in short, be a source of immense creativity -- a shock that opens up political, social, and psychological space for fresh ideas, actions, institutions, and technologies that weren't possible before."

The breakdown of the Iraq war has already proven such an event. We might view it culturally as the shock to the system that opened up a new political space, sweeping the Democrats into power. And the Democrats, even before they've taken office, have begun to propose action on global warming that goes beyond what any of us dreamed was politically possible just a few short months ago.

Future speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi -- along with 109 others -- has recently endorsed legislation, sponsored by Rep. Henry Waxman of California, that sets a target of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 80 percent by 2050. Which corresponds to the Stern Review assessment.

Imagine that: One of the most powerful leaders in Congress endorsing 80 percent reductions in greenhouse gases. Somebody pinch me. On Oct. 30 -- when the Stern Review came out -- I would have told you such a goal would remain politically unmentionable for a decade or more. But all that changed two days later, when Nov. 2 elections unfolded.

Things can change dramatically, and they can change overnight, and that change can make our lives better. That's the hidden opportunity in global warming. In a word, hope.

Marjorie Kelly (MKelly@Tellus.org) is a senior associate at Boston's Tellus Institute, a 30-year-old nonprofit research and consulting organization focused on creating a Great Transition to a society of sustainability and well-being. Kelly previously was editor for 20 years of Business Ethics magazine.

The Company We Keep

International stats on the death penalty, the U.S. aligned with the 'Axis of Evil'.

"According to Amnesty International, during 2005 at least 2,148 people were executed in 22 countries, 94% in China, Saudi Arabia, Iran, and the United States alone."


Reflections, Predictions


A Mother's Answer


Gerald Ford on Iraq War

December 29, 2006
Gerald Ford's Powerful Indictment Of The Iraq War
by Brent Budowsky

Do not underestimate the power of the late Gerald Ford's indictment of the decision to go to war in Iraq, the misuse of the WMD argument to pressure the country to war, and what President Ford called the "fever" of Vice President Cheney.

President Ford could have embargoed his statements until President Bush leaves office, but he did not.

The fevered push by President Bush for his upcoming surge is a new Gulf of Tonkin Resolution, with one last desperate attempt to pressure and intimidate generals to support a policy they in truth oppose.

When dignitaries gather for the final ceremony to honor President Ford, many Americans will be comparing the legacies of George Bush and Richard Nixon.

When the camera looks across those who gather for the eulogy to President Ford, the camera will stop at the face of President Bush, and everyone will be thinking the same thing: that President Ford opposed his war.

Then the camera will stop at the visage of Vice President Cheney, and one word will come to all: "fever".

President Ford's last great service to the Nation is very powerful indeed. Perhaps it has come, just in time.

Brent Budowsky served as Legislative Assistant to U.S. Senator Lloyd Bentsen, responsible for commerce and intelligence matters, including one of the core drafters of the CIA Identities Law. Served as Legislative Director to Congressman Bill Alexander, then Chief Deputy Whip, House of Representatives. Currently a member of the International Advisory Council of the Intelligence Summit. Left goverment in 1990 for marketing and public affairs business including major corporate entertainment and talent management.

View from The Future

December 21, 2006
View From the Future
Rebecca Solnit, for Solomon Solnit (b. October 18, 2006)

This essay was originally published on TomDispatch.I've been writing the year-end other-news summary for TomDispatch since 2004; somewhere around 2017, however, the formula of digging up overlooked stories and grounds for hope grew weary. So for this year, we've decided instead to look back on the last twenty-five years of the twenty-first century--but it was creatures from 60 million years ago who reminded me how to do it.

The other day, I borrowed some kids to go gawk with me at the one thing that we can always count on in an ever-more unstable world: age-of-dinosaur dioramas in science museums. This one had the usual dramatic clash between a tyrannosaurus and a triceratops; pterodactyls soaring through the air, one with a small reptile in its toothy maw; and some oblivious grazing by what, when I was young in another millennium, we would have called a brontosaurus. Easy to overlook in all that drama was the shrewlike mammal perched on a reed or thick blade of grass, too small to serve even as an enticing pterodactyl snack. The next thing coming down the line always looks like that mammal at the beginning--that's what I told the kids--inconsequential, beside the point; the official point usually being the clash of the titans.

That's exactly why mainstream journalists spent the first decade of this century debating the meaning of the obvious binaries--the Democrats versus the Republicans, McWorld versus global jihad--much as political debate of the early 1770s might have focused on whether the French or English monarch would have supremacy in North America, not long before the former was to be beheaded and the latter evicted. The monarchs in all their splashy scale were the dinosaurs of their day, and the eighteenth-century mammal no one noticed at first was named "revolution"; the early twenty-first-century version might have been called "localism" or maybe "anarchism," or even "civil society regnant." In some strange way, it turned out that windmill-builders were more important than the US Senate. They were certainly better at preparing for the future, anyway.

That mammal clinging to the stalk had crawled up from the grassroots, where the choices were so much more basic and significant than, for instance, the one between fundamentalism and consumerism that was on everyone's lips in the years of the Younger George Bush. If the twentieth century was the age of dinosaurs--of General Motors and the Soviet Union, of McDonald's, globalized entertainment networks and information superhighways--the twenty-first has increasingly turned out to be the age of the small.

You can see it in the countless local-economy projects--wind-power stations, farmers' markets, local enviro organizations, food co-ops--that were already proliferating, hardly noticed, by the time the Saudi Oil Wars swept the whole Middle East, damaging major oilfields and bringing on the Great Gasoline Crisis of 2009. That was the one that didn't just send prices skyrocketing but actually becalmed the globe-roaming container ships with their great steel-box-loads of bottled water, sweatshop garments and other gratuitous commodities.

The resulting food crisis of the early years of the second decade of the century, which laid big-petroleum-style farming low, suddenly elevated the status of peasant immigrants from what was then called "the undeveloped world," particularly Mexico and Southeast Asia. They taught the less agriculturally skilled, in suddenly greening North American cities, to cultivate the victory gardens that mitigated the widespread famines then beginning to sweep the planet. (It also turned out that the unwieldy and decadent SUVs of the millennium made great ecological sense, but only if you parked them facing south, put in sunroofs and used the high-windowed structures as seed-starter greenhouses.) The crisis spelled an end to the epidemic of American obesity, both by cutting calories and obliging so many Americans to actually move around on foot and bike and work with their hands.

Bush, the Accidental Empire Slayer
For a brief period, in the early years of that second decade of this chaotic century, a whole school of conspiracy theorists gained popularity by suggesting that Bush the Younger was actually the puppet of a left-wing plot to dismantle the global "hyperpower" of that moment. They pointed to the Trotskyist origins of the "neoconservatives," whose mad dreams had so clearly sunk the American empire in Iraq and Afghanistan, as part of their proof. They claimed that Bush's advisers consciously plotted to devastate the most powerful military on the planet, near collapse even before it was torn apart by the unexpected Officer Defection Movement, which burst into existence in 2009, followed by the next year's anti-draft riots in New York and elsewhere.

The Bush Administration's mismanagement of the US economy, while debt piled up, so obviously spelled the end of the era of American prosperity and power that some explanation, no matter how absurd, was called for--and for a while embraced. The long view from our own moment makes it clearer that Bush was simply one of the last dinosaurs of that imperial era, doing a remarkably efficient job of dragging down what was already doomed. If you're like most historians of our quarter-century moment, then you're less interested in the obvious--why it all fell--than in discovering the earliest hints of the mammalian alternatives springing up so vigorously with so little attention in those years.

Without benefit of conspiracy, what Bush the Younger really prompted (however blindly) was the beginning of a decentralization policy in the North American states. During the eight years of his tenure, dissident locales started to develop what later would become full-fledged independent policies on everything from queer rights and the environment to foreign relations and the notorious USA Patriot Act. For example, as early as 2004, several states, led by California, began setting their own automobile emissions standards in an attempt to address the already evident effects of climate change so studiously ignored in Washington.

In June 2005, mayors from cities across the nation unanimously agreed to join the Kyoto Protocol limiting climate-changing emissions--a direct rejection of national policy--at a national meeting in Seattle. Librarians across the country publicly refused to comply with the USA Patriot Act, and small towns nationwide condemned the measure in the years before many of those towns also condemned what historians now call the US-Iraq Quagmire.

It was the bullying of the Bush Administration that pushed these small entities to fight back, to form local administrations and set local regulations--to leave the Republic behind as they joined the journey to a viable future. And when their withdrawal was finished, so was the Republic.
Now the thousands of tons of high-level radioactive waste that pro-nuclear-reactor Washington policies had brought into being are buried in the granitic bedrock underlying the former capital--known as the Nuclear Arlington in contrast with the Human Arlington to the south, which will receive the remains of a few more nostalgic officers from the Gulf Wars, then close for good. The whole history of armament, radioactive contamination, disarmament and alternative energy research is on display in the museum housed in the former Supreme Court Building, though many avoid the area for fear of radiation contamination.

In hindsight, we all see that the left-right divide so harped upon in that era was but another dinosaur binary. After all, small government had long been (at least theoretically) a conservative mantra, as was (at least theoretically) left-wing support for the most localized forms of "people power"--and yet neither group ever pictured government or people power truly getting small enough to exist as it does today, at its most gigantic in bioregional groups about the size of the former states of Oregon or Georgia--but, of course, deeply enmeshed in complex global webs of alliances. All this was unimagined in, for instance, the dismal year of 2006.

By the time the Republican Party itself split in 2012 into two adversarial wings dubbed the Fundament party and the Conservatives, the American Empire was dismantling itself. Of course, the United States still nominally exists--we'll pay a bow to it this year at the Decolonization Day fireworks on July 4--but it is a largely symbolic entity, like the British Royal Family was for a century before its dissolution in 2020.

A similar death-of-the-dinosaurs moment was at work in the mainstream media--the big newspapers and television networks of that era. During the early years of the century, as Bush the Younger dragged the country deeper into the mire of unwinnable wars and countless lies, most of the big newspapers and television news programs lost their nerve, their edge or even their eyesight, and failed dismally to report the stories that mattered. Some fell to scandal--the New York Times was never the same after the Judith Miller crisis of 2005. Some were sabotaged from without, like the Los Angeles Times, undercut by its parent corporation's "cost-cutting" programs. Some withered away as younger readers fled paper pages for the Internet. But behind them, below them, in their shadow, regarded as puny and insignificant back then--even though their scoops kept upstaging and prodding the print media--were bloggers, alternative media such as small magazines and websites, the glorious Indymedia movement, progressive radio, even the text-messaging that had helped organize the first great Latino march of the immigrant rights movement at its beginnings in April 2006.

The Latin American Renaissance
The Latino-ization of the United States had brought some long missing civic engagement and pleasure back into public life and tied the country (and Canada) to the splendid insurgencies of the Southern Hemisphere. The era of postcommunist revolution that would explode from Tierra del Fuego to Tijuana in the second decade of the century is usually traced back to the entrance of Mexico's indigenous Zapatistas onto the world stage on January 1, 1994.

One bold reflection of a changing continent in those years was the election of progressive leaders--including leftist Rafael Correa in Ecuador, Hugo Chávez in Venezuela, Michele Bachelet in Chile, Luis Inacio Lula da Silva in Brazil and Evo Morales of Bolivia, all by 2006--even eventually Alicia Ponce de Leon in Colombia in 2014, three years after US war funding dried up (along with the America that paid for it). Chávez (president from 1998 to 2013) termed this the Bolivarian Revolution.

As a group, they were not bad as national leaders then went, but one great blow against nationalism proved to be the British seizure of former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet in 1998 for crimes against humanity and his in-absentia trial in Spain, a saga that dragged on until the blood-drenched dictator's heart failed at the end of 2006. The new world is both more transnational and more local than the one it eclipsed, and nobody will ever be beyond the reach of justice again. (Africans, for example, recovered from Swiss and offshore bank accounts the hundreds of billions of dollars stolen by their former dictators, which gave a huge boost to the fight against AIDS and desertification.)

Whatever the names of their leaders, the real force in Latin America-- and increasingly elsewhere--would be in the grassroots activism that the Zapatistas heralded, which, in the view from 2026, clearly signaled the fading relevancy of nation-states. Latin indigenous movements, labor movements, neighborhood groups, worker takeovers in Argentina's factories from 2001 onward and the Argentine ideology of horizontalidad (or horizontalism) that went with it were just early signs of this development.

Like the regionalist policy-making entities of the United States, these movements undermined even progressive presidents to set more radical policies and grew to include many indigenous autonomous zones across the hemisphere. For example, in late 2006, the 8,000-member Achuar tribe (whose region spans what was once the Peru-Ecuador border) took hostage and defeated Peru's main oil and gas-extraction corporation in a mode of victorious resistance that would become increasingly common. In Mexico, the stolen presidential election of 2006 that resulted in the inauguration of PAN Party candidate Felix Calderón was the straw that broke the camel's back, so to speak. In the years to follow, the Second Mexican Revolution spread from Chiapas, Oaxaca and Mexico City, slowly dissolving that nation into a network of populist regional strongholds. Seventeen of them reinstated a local indigenous language as their official tongue.

Global Justice and the Drowned Lands
The Latin American Renaissance also created a network of communities strong enough to take in some of the climate-change refugees from Central America and Southern Mexico, who fled both north and south, along with Sunbelt--and what came to be called Swampbelt--émigrés from the southern United States. The great population transitions thus went more smoothly in the Western Hemisphere than across the Atlantic, where Europeans engaged in escalating anti-Muslim confrontations before realizing that only immigration could prop up the economies of nations whose native-born white-Christian populations were rapidly aging and, thanks to ultra-low birthrates, declining.

The end of those bloody squabbles is generally considered to have been marked by the election in 2020 of Chancellor Amira Goldblatt al-Hamid by what was then only a loosely federated association of German-speaking bioregional principalities. Similar crises--and, in some cases, cross-community, cross-religion bloodlettings--took place elsewhere, especially as populations moved away from increasingly desertifying, ever hotter hot zones in Africa and Southern Asia. Some historians have regarded the devastating global bird-flu pandemic of 2013 as fortunate in relieving climate-change population-shift pressures; others--including the noted historian Martha Moctezuma from the University of San Diego-Tijuana's Davis Center on Public Luxury--discard that perspective as callous.

Every schoolchild now knows the Old Map/New Map system and can recite the lands that vanished: half the Netherlands, much of Bangladesh, the Amazon Delta, the New Orleans and Shanghai lowlands. And who today can't still sing the popular ditties about those famed "fundamentalists without their fundamentals"--the senators who lost the state of Florida as it rapidly became a swampy archipelago. Most schoolchildren can also cite the World Court decision of 2016 that gave all shares in the major oil companies to Pacific Islanders, mainly resettled in New Zealand and Australia, whose homes had been lost to rising oceans (a short-lived triumph as the fossil-fuel economy ebbed away).

More creative responses to climate change included the tree-traveler and polar-bear collectives. These eco-anarchist clans--now popular contemporary heroes--first nursed plant populations on their unnatural journeys north by means of extensive rainy-season nursery cultivation and summer planting programs that have since become huge outdoor festivals. Today, many city parks and town squares have statues of Cleo Dorothy Chan, who organized the first small tree-traveler collective in southern Oregon and is now hailed globally as the twenty-first century's Johnny Appleseed. ("You can't choose between grief and exhilaration; they are the left and right foot on which we hike onward," said the T-shirts of the tree-travelers.) As for the polar-bear folks, they were initially a group of zoologists and circus trainers who, inspired by the tree-travelers, mobilized to teach young polar bears to adapt to changed habitat. They are often credited with saving that one charismatic species in the wild, even as thousands of less emblematic ones vanished.

The Principles of Change
A mature oak tree always looks significant, and when we look at it, we're willing to respect acorns, but the rest of the time the seeds of the next big thing are just trodden upon and overlooked. The ideas that made our era and pulled us back from the brink, the stakes that went through the hearts of the dinosaurs and the more incremental forces that rendered them extinct were all at work in the 1990s. They just didn't look very impressive yet, and people were intimidated by the heft of those dinosaurs and swayed by their arguments.

The World Court and related human rights, environmental rights and criminal courts became more powerful presences as the sun set on the era of the nation-state. Multiple changes often combined into scenarios impossible to foresee: for example, the belated US recognition in 2011 that the International Criminal Court did indeed have war-crimes jurisdiction over Americans coincided with the worldwide anti-incarceration movement. This explains why, for example, former President Bush the Younger, extradited from Paraguay and found guilty in 2013, was never imprisoned but sentenced to spend the rest of his life working in a Fallujah diaper laundry. (People who are still bitter about his reign are bitter too that the webcam there suggests, even at his advanced age, he still enjoys this work that accords so well with his skill set.) His assets--along with those of his Vice President, and of Halliburton, Bechtel, Exxon and other war profiteers--were famously awarded to the Vietnamese Buddhist Commission for the Iraqi Transition. After almost a decade of the bitterest bloodshed, Iraq, too, had broken into five nations, but by this time so many nation-states were being reorganized into more coherent units that the Iraqi transition, led by the Women's Alliance of Islamic Feminists (nicknamed the Islamofeminists), was surprisingly peaceful when it finally came.

"As I've said many times, the future is already here. It's just not very evenly distributed," said the sci-fi novelist William Gibson in 1999. In retrospect, the arrival of the Age of Mammals should have been easy to foresee. On every front--family structure and marriage, transportation, energy and food economies, localized power structures--everyday life was being reinvented in the late-twentieth and early twenty-first centuries. From India to Indiana an interlocking set of new ideas began to emerge and coalesce, becoming in the end the new common sense that new generations of thinkers and activists were guided by. Who now thinks it's radical to advocate that decentralization is better than consolidated power, that capitalism's worldview is vicious and dishonest, that the public matters as much or more than the private, that enforced homogeneity is not a virtue either on a farm or in a society?

The basic tools were already in place long before our era; here and there, a few at a time, people picked them up and started building a better future. Some new inventions mattered, such as the superefficient German and Japanese solar collectors and methane generators that revolutionized energy production, but much of the march toward a more environmentally sane future didn't require fancy scientific breakthroughs and technologies, just modesty. We scaled back on consumption and production. For example, the collapse of the US military put an end to the world's single most polluting entity, while the near-end of recreational air travel also made a significant contribution to rolling back greenhouse-gas production.

The law of unintended consequences continued to prevail: When touristic air travel withered, so did Hawaii's tourist economy--making the retaking of the islands by indigenous Hawaiians via the King Kamehameha Council a piece of cake. Of course, sailing ships still travel the triangular trade-winds route between Latin America, Hawaii and the Pacific Northwest.

Everything was changing then, is changing now, and some years back the Principles of Change were codified. These simply recited the history of popular and nonviolent resistance from slave uprisings (Hochschild '05) and Gandhian tactics (Schell '03) to the principles of direct action (D. Solnit '09) and social change (see Marina Sitrin horizontalism, '06) and drew the obvious conclusions about how change works, what powers civil society has, how war can be sabotaged from below and why violence ultimately fails.

Believers in authoritarian power had prophesied a globalized world of corporate nation-states (and indeed, the 2012 Olympics featured teams identified by branding rather than nation, such as the Dasani and Nokia track teams and the Ikea Decathaletes); but even as the polar bears survived, a different kind of change in the global climate doomed most of the large corporations.

The outlawing of corporate personhood was launched in Porter Township, Pennsylvania, in December 2002 and gradually became the law of the land. By 2015, the "human rights" US courts had given to corporations in the 1880s had been globally stripped away from them again.

Of course, there were revolts against the new world--just as the Republican dinosaurs led a long rearguard movement against women's rights, queer rights, the rights of the environment and science education, so there were corporations that resisted the new order, most spectacularly when Arkansas was taken over wholesale by Wal-Mart for seventeen months in the early teens. The heavily armed Arkansans rose up, Wal-Mart's private army changed sides and what was once the world's biggest corporation joined the dung-heap of history along--most famously--with Monsanto, derailed by the Schmeiser verdict, the precedent-setting World Court decision to award all assets in the genetic-engineering corporation to small farmers previously terrorized for not paying royalties on crops contaminated by Monsanto's genetically altered strains.

Failed presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, who had been appointed ambassador to the United States from the Republic of Wal-Mart, was sentenced to three years as a sweeper at an Arkansas farmers' market and became locally beloved in the role. In the American Middle East (known as the Midwest until modern geographers pointed out that the West starts at the Continental Divide), sectarian feuding, which kept the region in a state of subdued civil war for almost a decade, still flares up occasionally.

Periodic sorties by the Fundaments against new programs and lifestyles are considered part of normal life, though Kansas's John Brown Society provides a degree of protection against them.

The Republic of Northern Idaho was another outpost of different-sex-only marriage laws and creationism, but the need to work with downriver communities on salmon restoration and dam removal eventually dissolved the breakaway half-state into the Columbia River Drainage federation. Other historians claim that the tattooed love freaks of the Seattle region, who found common ground with the ex-truckers and elk-hunters of Idaho, dissolved the Idahoan Republic via bicycle races and beer fests. Some also say the same-sex desires of elk hunters were legendary and led to negotiations for a direct rail link to San Francisco and Los Angeles.

In 1996, the Pentagon prepared imaginary scenarios describing five potential futures by 2025. Most of them were based on the belief that a better world was one dominated by American military power--which is to say, by the threat of state violence. That they came up with five possible futures demonstrated, at least, how wide open the next two decades seemed, even to a Tyrannosaurus-Rex bureaucracy that thought it was soon to own the planet. Some of their technological, corporate and militaristic futures could have come to pass.

Had people not come to believe strongly enough in their own power, in a horizontalist society and in a planetwide ability to work with the environmental changes the Industrial Age had loosed on us, we might be living in a very different, unimaginably catastrophic world--one in which the mammals would never have proliferated. They might even have breathed their last without ever emerging from under the fern fronds and out of the grasses. The future, of course, is not something you predict and wait for. It is something you invent daily through your actions. As Mas Kodani, a Buddhist in Los Angeles, said in the early twenty-first century: "One does not stand still looking for a path. One walks; and as one walks, a path comes into being."

We make it up as we go, and we make it up by going, or as the Zapatistas more elegantly put it, "Walking we ask questions." What else can you do? Perhaps respect the power of the small and the mystery of the future to which we all belong.

To-Do Suggestions for Winter


Your local adult education program and Ag. Extension almost certainly have something useful to teach you - woodworking, crocheting, music training, horseback riding, CPR, herbalism, vegetarian cookery... take advantage of people who want to teach their skills.

Get serious about land use planning - even if you live in a suburban neighborhood, you can find ways to optimize your land to produce the most food, fuel and barterables. Sit down and think hard about what you can do to make your land and your life more sustainable in the coming year.

The winter lull is an excellent time to get involved in public affairs. No matter how cynical you tend to be, nothing ever changed without engagement. So get out there. Stand for office. Join. Volunteer.

Now is the time to prepare for illness - keep a stock of remedies, including useful antibiotics (although know what you are doing, don't just buy them and take them), vitamin C supplements (I like elderberry syrup), painkillers, herbs, and tools for handling even serious illness by yourself. In the event of a truly severe epidemic of flu or other illness, avoiding illness and treating sick family members at home whenever possible may be safer than taking them to over-worked and over-crowded hospitals (or, it may not - but planning for the former won't prevent you from using the hospital if you need it).

Most schools would be delighted to have volunteers come in and talk about conservation, gardening, small livestock, home-scale mechanics, ham radio, etc..., and most homeschooling families would be similarly thrilled. Consider offering to teach something you know that will be helpful post-peak (although I wouldn't recommend discussing peak oil with any but the oldest teenagers, and not even that without their parents permission.

Now is the time to convince your business, synagogue, church, school, community center to put a garden on that empty lawn. If you start the campaign now, you can be ready to plant in the spring. Produce can be shared among participants or offered to the needy.

The one-two punch of rising heating oil and gas prices may well be what is needed to make your family and friends more receptive to the peak oil message. Try again. At the very least, emphasize the options for mitigating increased economic strain with sustainable practices.

Get together with neighbors and check in on your area's elderly and disabled people. Make a plan that ensures they will be checked on during bad weather, power outages, etc... Offer help with stocking up for winter, or maintaining equipment. And watch for signs that they are struggling economically.

Work on raising money and getting help with local poverty-abatement programs. After the holidays, people struggle. They get hungry and cold. Remember, besides the fact that it is the right thing to do, the life you save may be your own.

Get out and enjoy the cold weather. It is hard to adapt to colder temperatures if you spend all your time huddled in front of a heater. Ski, snowshoe, sled, shovel, have a snowball fight, build a hut, go winter camping, but get comfortable with the cold, snowy world around you.

Have your chimney(s) inspected, and learn to clean your own. Learn to care for your kerosene lamps, to use candles safely, and how to use and maintain your smoke and CO detectors and fire extinguishers. Winter is peak fire season, so keep safe.

Grow sprouts on your windowsill.

Now is an excellent time to reconsider how you use your house. Look around - could you make more space? House more people? Do projects more efficiently? Add greenhouse space? Put in a homemade composting toilet? Work with what you have to make it more useful.

If a holiday gift exchange is part of your life, make most of your gifts. Knit, whittle, build, sew, or otherwise create something beautiful for the people you love.

If someone wants to buy you something, request a useful tool or preparedness item, or a gift certificate. Consider giving such gifts to friends and family - a solar crank radio, an LED flashlight, cast iron pans; these are useful and appreciated items whether or not you understand peak oil.

Do a dry run in the dead of winter. Turn out all the power, turn off the water. Turn off all fossil-fuel sources of heat, and see how things go for a few days. Use what you learn to improve your preparedness, and have fun while doing it.

Learn to mend clothing, patch and make patchwork out of old clothes.

Write letters to people. The post is the most reliable way of communicating, and letters last forever.

Make a list of goals for the coming year, then for the coming five years. Start Keeping records of your goals and your successes and failures.

Keep a journal. Your children and grandchildren--or someone else’s--may want to know what these days were like.

Wash your hands frequently, and avoid stress. Stay healthy so that you can be useful to those around you.

For those subject to depression or anxiety, winter can be hard. Find ways to relax, decompress and use work as an antidote to fear whenever possible. Get outside on sunny days, and try to exercise as much as possible to help maintain a positive attitude.

Memorize a poem or song every week. No matter what happens to you, no one can ever take away the music and words you hold in your mind. You can have them as comfort and pleasure wherever you go, and in whatever circumstances.

Take advantage of heating stoves by cooking on them. You can make soups or stews on top of any wood stove or even many radiators, and you can build or buy a metal oven that sits on top of woodstoves to bake in.

Winter is a time of quiet and contemplation. Go outside. Hear the silence. Take pleasure in what you have achieved over the past year. Focus on the abundance of this present, this day, rather than scarcity to come.

Edward's Campaign

John Edwards' campaign for President
We cannot wait until January of 2009 to begin to change America.
If we act together, we can make a difference
Take a moment to check out the campaign website at:

Everyone Doing Something

Ten Simple Things You Can Do to Go Green

Laurie David, who produced Al Gore's documentary about global warming,"AnInconvenient Truth," says saving the planet isn't about everyone doing everything:

"It's about everyone doing something"and "The Compact."


Dec. 28 and More

Home Fires Burning
A Winter Concert Series
Presented by
The Rooster’s Wife

The Rooster’s Wife is a private non-profit association organized to celebrate the performing arts in Aberdeen, North Carolina. Created to serve the community by preserving our cultural heritage and presenting the talent of the next generation, the Rooster’s Wife is committed to offering affordable programs for every age to enjoy.

The first winter concert series will feature acoustic music in a house concert setting. This will be followed by a series of twice monthly outdoor concerts on Sunday evenings held on the lawn of the Postmaster’s House, Aberdeen’s first building. These family events will feature a variety of music and will offer the community an opportunity for direct involvement through volunteering and sponsorships.

The long term goal for the Rooster’s Wife is to support the performing arts through outreach and community involvement presenting local artists to schools, nursing homes and hospitals, in concerts and workshops. Further, the Rooster’s Wife intends to support all efforts to maintain the cultural heritage and sustainable growth of our town.

December 28, 2006
The Parsons
US 1 to Main St. First Bank is your landmark. East on Main to Blue St/Rte 5. Left on Blue.
One block to corner of High and Blue, the house is white with a red roof.

January 27, 2007
Jonathan Byrd
Karen Mal

February 24, 2007
Big Medicine

March 23, 2007
Doug and Telisha Williams

Can We Buy Green Power?


More on Petrocurrencies


NOLA Alternative Christmas Carols


NOLA to Raze Public Housing


Why Attack Iran? Petrocurrency



Thank You, John


Integrity of PBS

Bush Criticized for New Appointment to Oversee Public Media Funding

In media news, President Bush is coming under intense criticism over his latest appointment to the board overseeing federal funding of public television and radio -- the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.
Last week, the president quietly appointed sitcom producer and Republican supporter Warren Bell.
Bell’s appointment came over the objections of several members of the Senate Commerce Committee who had blocked his nomination.
Bell has no public broadcast experience and has written for the conservative magazine National Review.
New Jersey Senator Frank Lautenberg said: "This appointment by the Bush administration makes it clear that they simply don't care about the integrity or quality of our public broadcasting system."

James Brown

Musical legend James Brown died on Christmas at the age of 73.

He was one of the most significant musical pioneers of the past 50 years. The Rev. Al Sharpton said yesterday, "What James Brown was to music in terms of soul and hip-hop, rap, is what Bach was to classical music."

FCC Sides With Verison & Wireless

FCC Sides with Verizon & Wireless and Votes to Strip Local Communities of Control Over Cable Franchising
Anthony Riddle, of the Alliance for Community Media, joins us in the Firehouse to talk about last week's 3-2 vote. The FCC's two Democratic commissioners, Michael Copps and Jonathan Adelstein voted against the measure.

Reminder, Dec. 28, Aberdeen

If you're looking for something to do on Thursday evening December 28 - very near the geographic center of the Sandhills in Aberdeen - The Rooster's Wife winter house concert series (followed by an outdoor series and farmers market this spring) will be kicking off with a performance by a Sandhills acoustic string quartet... For more details and directions - contact "The Rooster's Wife" - aka Janet Kenworthy, 910-944-7502 or theroosterswife@yahoo.com.

The Rooster's home is a beautiful old house on the hill overlooking Aberdeen. Music begins at 8pm. We talk a lot about "vibrant walkable downtowns" and "preserving a sense of place" in the Sandhills - so here's a chance for you to "walk the walk" (or "drink the drink") with some like-minded folks. The energy and vision behind this grassroots series in Aberdeen deserves our support - and The Parsons are glad to be The Rooster's guinea pigs!

"The Rooster’s Wife" presents
The Parsons
House Concert $5 Donation
Dec. 28, 2006, 8pm
Corner of High and Blue, Downtown Aberdeen
RSVP 910-944-7502, theroosterswife@yahoo.com


Last posting pre-Christmas

[this post is from an international drumming listserve.
Ditto! from this blogger!
Merry Deal, Ya'll!]

"I am not a Christian........................I actually am some sort of hodge podge of a Buddhist with a smattering of many different world religions (Sufiism, Hinduism, Christianity, etc.) thrown into my mutt of a disembodied subarban California soul.

I did grow up in a Christian country, however, and for all the awful things that have been done in that Christ's name, the festival of Christmas has also come to be associated with the giving of gifts and the ritualistic appreciation of friends and family in our culture......................it is a time of Peace and a time ofCelebration..............where people get together (sometimes for the only time during the year) and celebrate family.

The Christmas meal is always the most bounteous meal of the year and something I look forward to. I n my family (from the south of the United States originally) traditionally, we have Stuffed Turkey, Cornbread dressing, Mashed Potatoes, Homeade Cranberry Sauce, Pickled Peaches (might sound bad but these are unbelivably delicious and sweet), Marshmallow Candied Yams and a token Vegetable or two.

With the weather much colder and the nights much longer, it is a time where we celebrate our similarities, not our differences. A time when we celebrate generosity of spirit....................the giving of gifts, whether they be phsyical gifts or just the gift of quality time spent with each other.

In this spirit, I would like to wish everyone on this list and all the people on this planet a Merry Christmas.

Somehow I think that if Mohammed and Christ and Buddha and Shiva and Moses were all to have a meal right now, they'd all agree that they want peace on earth and brotherhood and sisterhood and solidarity to reign on Planet Earth. I think they would laugh and smile a lot around the dinner table and that they would probably pick up frame drums and sing songs together. I'd love to think so, at least.

No US and Them.

I feel blessed to be on this list with all of you from around the world with different philosophies and religions.

Merry Christmas
Happy Channuka
Joyous Solstice
Bodacious Kwaanza
to everyone!"


Media Follies 2006

Media Follies 2006! The year's most overhyped and underreported stories [from workingforchange.com]

"Welcome to the eleventh year of selecting my annual list of the year's most overhyped and underreported stories. As usual, there's plenty to unravel: stories that should never have been stories, stories whose reporting largely missed the point, and stories barely told at all in mainstream US media.

But mainstream media is no longer the last word in journalism. One of the year's biggest underreported stories involved the media itself: how a critical corporate-friendly communications "reform" bill was stopped dead entirely through New Media activism. On international stories, foreign media -- universally available in English on the Internet -- often tells a completely different (and usually more accurate) story than what we see, read, and hear here. At home, independent media -- which has been way ahead of corporate media on any number of issues -- has repeatedly shown its relevance, to the point where Internet sites have become the preferred news sources for many Americans.

But it's the big corporate outlets that still have the largest audiences, online as well as in their original formats, and so it's the stories that do and don't appear there that require our attention. This is by definition an incomplete list. If you have suggestions for additions to the list, for either overhyped stories (I tend to tune the dumbest of them out, so I usually miss at least one whopper) or underreported ones, send them to geovlp@earthlink.net and we'll run the best ones in another column.

The Year's Most Overhyped Stories:

The Democrats Will Make Everything Better: Few people actually said this, of course, but amongst liberal and progressive media and activists, a narrative emerged during the 2006 election which told us that once Democrats controlled Congress, all our problems would be solved and we could move on to the 2008 presidential race. The problem, of course, is that in the intervening two years, most evidence points to Congressional Democrats taking few risks and not accomplishing much. Granted, it's at minimum an improvement in the sense that we'll never know what further horrors of one-party rule might have been perpetrated with different results in November. But our Denier-in-Chief still has two years with a Congress that will pick and choose what to confront him on. That could exclude not only the steadily worsening Middle East conflagration, but another Supreme Court appointment, among many other things. We're not out of the woods yet. Speaking of which:

November's electoral tsunami was a triumph of Democratic conservatism: So-called "Blue Dog" Democrats, in this widely accepted narrative, are what America embraced when it rejected Republicanism. Alas, it's horse hockey. To the extent the Democratic triumph was anything other than a massive repudiation of neoconservatism, the wave was just as much due to an energized progressive party base and the much-maligned Howard Dean's 50-state strategy.
John Kerry's bad joke: In the runup to that tsunami, it was not shocking that Republicans would latch onto a poorly told joke by John Kerry (a man running for nothing) and try to use it to indict all Democrats as troop-haters, traitors, or worse. (Why not? Swiftboating Kerry worked once.) What was astonishing was that the media establishment seized on this ridiculously naked ploy and ran with it. If malapropisms should indict a whole political party, not only should Kerry have become president in 2004, but Dubya's constantly ludicrous verbal stumbles should have destroyed his party by then. (Instead, he's doing it now, with deeds.)

Barack Obama: He's black! And many white people like him! What does this say about America!? Less than it says about media's ability to create celebrities out of near-thin air.
Speaking of potential presidential candidates, Russ Feingold's censure resolution of George Bush, and the fact that it generated far more media heat than actual impact on anything (or even co-sponsors), probably in the end helped convince Feingold that he could never win his party's presidential nomination. Are you listening, Dennis?

Electronic Voting Machines: Sure, they can be hacked. This is important. But in most places where they've been used, there's no evidence that they have been hacked or otherwise abused. Meanwhile, potential abuse overshadowed two much larger stories: the public's loss of confidence in the entire voting process, and the numerous other, more traditional ways candidates, especially Republicans, were purging or preventing voter registration, suppressing voter turnout, and committing other widespread dirty tricks tainting the voting process now.

JonBenet Ramsey: She's Hot! She's Sexy! She Was Six! She's Dead! How many years (and crackpot confessions) can corporate media stretch out its JonBenet necrophilia?

American Idol: This. Is. Not. News. Ever.

It's hard to believe, but on Feb. 22, 2006, the biggest story of the day was the Dubai Port Scandal. Meanwhile, elsewhere in the news, the anonymous bombing of the Ankari mosque in Samarra, Iraq, was busily touching off full-scale sectarian civil war. Which story had the greater long-term impact?

In the same spirit, let us pause for a moment to remember the killing of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, which by White House and press accounts was to be a major turning point in ending the violence in Iraq. One minor problem: they were completely wrong, as anyone who'd been paying attention could have and did point out.

And some terrorists simply aren't terrorists at all. Remember those British guys foiled at the last possible moment who were planning to make bombs out of toothpaste (or whatever) on Trans-Atlantic flights? Or all those Canadians busted for plotting to blow up every significant building in Canada on a long weekend? Or those hapless clowns set up in Miami? Don't believe the hype. Speaking of which...

The Iraq Study Group: Never has so much ink and air time been devoted to a powerless panel whose sole contribution was to tell us what anyone with a brain cell already knew (i.e., Iraq is a disaster), and to suggest policies nobody intended to adopt.

Tests Confirm! George Bush Has a Brain Cell!: True, this was never actually a story. But if it had been, it would've been overhyped.

The Year's Most Underreported Stories

Siberia's permafrost is melting: Why is this an important story? Because Arctic permafrost, which in Siberia covers endless miles, contains massive amounts of methane. The melting soil releases the methane into the air, where it is now expected to massively and irrevocably accelerate global warming. It's a process that has already begun, but just. This massive climate bomb literally has the potential to end civilization. Its discovery should have not only been the year's top story, but an impetus for all humanity to unite in a common struggle for survival. Maybe in 2007. Or 2009, when someone who believes in science occupies the White House.
Massive Grass Roots Win on Net Neutrality: The telecommunications lobby, the most powerful in Washington, spent $200 million in the 109th Congress to ram through a communications "reform" bill that would have given giant providers preferential access to the Internet, fundamentally changing how media in the 21st Century will be used and crippling the Internet's remarkably democratic culture. The slam-dunk bill miraculously failed -- due to a massive grass roots lobbying campaign on an issue that got almost no corporate media coverage. Millions of American responded on an arcane issue publicized solely through New Media, marking as milestones not only the victory but how the victory was achieved. Activists need to claim more of their triumphs, and this was one of the biggest in memory.

It's hard to believe that the year's biggest story was also badly underreported, but most Americans really do have no idea how bad things have gotten in Iraq. The proper debate as of late December is not over whether to call what's happening a civil war, but whether to call it ethnic cleansing or genocide. The scale with which America's unprovoked, illegal invasion has ripped this country apart molecule by molecule is simply unimaginable to most Americans. And American media doesn't even try to report the big picture, focusing instead on the numbing drumbeat of daily death totals. The armed thugs and death squads now ruling Iraq are fully capable of driving America out of Iraq militarily in the next two years.

On the other hand, we might be driven out of Afghanistan very, very soon. As in Iraq, the puppet American-installed "government" is irrelevant and Washington has made endless boneheaded decisions that are adding up to the Taliban retaking the country, steadily, province by province, month by month. Unlike Iraq, few Americans realize we're also losing Afghanistan badly, and in some ways more quickly. If only Afghans had oil, they could at least make the news. Maybe.

There's other major crises afoot in the Middle East, too, and the U.S. has a hand in all of them: Israel's attacks on Palestine. Palestine itself now on the verge of civil war. Israel's attack on Lebanon. Lebanon itself now on the verge of civil war, too. The threat that Israel or the U.S. could attack Iran or Syria, or both. Saudi Arabia's threat to intervene on the side of the Sunnis in Iraq, while Iran supports the Shiites. Saudi Arabia and the Gulf States announcing plans to develop their own nuclear weapon program to counter Iran. What a mess. One name links all these stories: George W. Bush.

India, Pakistan, and nukes: India and Pakistan have hated each other for nearly 60 years. That's why in the late '90s they both exploded nuclear devices, which is why the Clinton administration slapped sanctions (later lifted by Dubya) on both. So what happened in 2006? Bush signs a massive deal to expand India's nuclear program, and continues to reward both Pakistan's Musharraf dictatorship and the Pakistani intelligence elements that developed Pakistan's nuclear program (and shopped it to North Korea, Iran, and Libya, among others) -- while at the same time undercutting the Musharraf regime, especially in the country's northwest, a Taliban and Al-Qaeda stronghold. Confusing, sure, but the upshot is that in turn this has increased the chances that, with an Islamist coup, Pakistan's nukes would fall into the hands of America's enemies. A real lose-lose, except for America's enemies. And at ground zero, the people of Pakistan and India, innocents in the crossfire of a conflict where we've rewarded the nuclear armament of both sides.

Say, where is Osama bin Laden, anyway?

We know who lost Iraq and Afghanistan. But who lost Russia ? In 1949 conservatives were asking this about China after the Soviet-allied Mao seized power, but in 2006 Vladimir Putin took countless additional steps to move what in the 20th Century was America's biggest rival for global power back to being an authoritarian state. In 1989, the Berlin Wall came down, nonviolent revolutions swept communist tyrants from power from Russia throughout the Soviet bloc, and it was all supposed to be better. And conservatives claimed that Reagan and America were responsible for this triumph of democracy. Who, then, is responsible for its failure? And more importantly, what does this mean for what is still the world's largest country and a major holder of oil and gas reserves?

Similarly, since when did torture, suspension of habeas corpus, and domestic warrantless spying become America's status quo? Since 2006, that's when. Three terrifying, textbook examples of how, in short progression, the unthinkable becomes the hotly debated becomes The Way We Do Things. As we enter 2007, all the elements for a fully "constitutional" dictatorship have quietly fallen into place. All it now takes is someone smarter or more ruthless than George Bush to exploit them.

Much of the so-called "Global War on Terror" is all about power and profiteering: Neocons wanted an empire abroad and expanded state power at home, sure. But wherever the U.S. military has gone in the last five years, which pretty much resembles a map of Planet Earth, privatization and lucrative contracts for well-connected companies have followed. Much of the logic of this so-called war is economic and intended to benefit only a very, very select few. While the threat posed by terror is real (especially in the wake of post-9-11 American policy), there are other far larger threats to the country's national security. Global warming, for one.
America's massive budget and foreign trade deficits, for another. Media has done little to enlighten us on just how badly the Bush regime has bankrupted our country's treasury for generations to come, and left our economy in the hands of foreign creditors like China and Japan. As 2006 closes, the housing bubble has burst, the flow of U.S. jobs overseas now resembles whitewater rapids, and the value of the dollar against foreign currency is plummeting. This is just the beginning. Thank the "terrorists" in the White House.

Amazingly, given how much it came up during the midterm elections, Republican corruption wasn't covered well at all in 2006. Media never followed the Abramoff scandal through to the dozens of lawmakers who traded his money for their votes. More broadly, there were almost daily stories of executive and legislative branch sleaze that never made waves beyond the Beltway and legislators' home constituencies. But cumulatively, they formed a damning indictment of how Washington does business. And almost no outlets covered the story as leaders of both parties buried attempts at meaningful post-Abramoff congressional ethics reforms in early 2006.

As with most labor news, The National Labor Relation Board's ruling disqualifying up to eight million Americans from union membership got almost no play. But this was no ordinary labor news; it was, by the AFL-CIO's reckoning, the worst government decision on labor in nearly 60 years. It was ignored anyway.

Even as the gap between the well-connected rich and everyone else continued to widen in 2006, class went back to being a forbidden word in corporate American media. A year after Katrina ripped away the thin veneer hiding race and class issues in America, and with Katrina's victims still being victimized by government agencies and insurance companies, with middle class jobs evaporating, privatization and government corruption endemic, health care and education costs still skyrocketing, class mobility in America decreasing, and levels of homelessness and hunger continuing to increase, the media veneer was firmly back in place. In America's increasingly vicious class war, one reason the wealthy are winning is corporate media's insistence (all evidence to the contrary) that no such war exists.

On the brighter side of that equation, though, the stranglehold of Big Money on American politics is ending. The 2006 elections showed that activist and especially Internet campaign fundraising can go dollar-for-dollar against corporate-friendly candidates. The technology is now in place to make it far easier for many little donations o match a few big special interest ones. It's no substitute for public financing of campaigns -- which would allow some of that money to be invested in meeting real needs instead -- but it's still a powerful democratizing force. As we enter 2007, we need all of those we can get."

In Oaxaca

AMY GOODMAN: Democracy Now! producer, Elizabeth Press, is in Oaxaca, Mexico, covering the popular uprising against the state governor Ulises Ruiz. She filed this report.

ELIZABETH PRESS: On Wednesday 91 prisoners were transferred from the federal prison in Tepic, Nayarit to Cereso, the state prison here in Oaxaca. Friends, family and human rights observers gathered outside the prison, as rumor had it that the prisoners would be released on Thursday. Selena Morina waited for her brother who was detained on Nov 25th to be released, but he was not among the 14.

SELENA MORINA: [translated] I feel sad and worried because we don't know when they will release them, since, as they said earlier, this is political. So we are subject to the decisions made by governmental groups, when here they are playing with human lives, while there are people with feelings who need to see their families and be with them.

ELIZABETH PRESS: This was on the eve of the international day of solidarity with the people of Oaxaca, called for by the EZLN. "For the living reappearances of the disappeared; for the freedom of the detained; for the exit of Ulises Ruiz and the federal forces from Oaxaca; for the punishment of those guilty of torture, rape and murder," protests are scheduled all over the world today, including here in Oaxaca City.

OAXACAN WOMAN: [translated] We will participate in the march, because when they ask us if we Oaxacans are afraid, yes, we are afraid, but our indignation and anger are even greater, because this is not the way to treat a people who are asking for justice. And we do not rise up because we're troublemakers, as they call us here, but rather because the people are hungry, the people are needy. Yes, we will participate in the march.

ELIZABETH PRESS: For Democracy Now!, this is Elizabeth Press in Oaxaca City.
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