Welcome to European Tribune. It's gone a bit quiet around here these days, but it's still going.
Tue Oct 23rd, 2007 at 04:45:42 PM EST
Bernhard at MoA writes:
Back home from my too rare rides through the north-German country side. Indeed, the landscape is changing.
Folks there build windmills to repel elephants - thousands of huge windmills. The newest rage is to tear down the smaller ones even when they are only ten years old. They get replaced with bigger windmills - "repower" is the word. Aside from being better in holding off pachyderms, the new types generate about ten times more windy energy than the older ones.
Tue Sep 25th, 2007 at 07:39:06 PM EST
This is Walden Bello at FPIF, and I couldn't-a said it better:
Development circles were not shocked last year when two studies detailed how the World Bank's research unit had been systematically manipulating data to show that neoliberal market reforms were promoting growth and reducing poverty in developing countries. They merely saw these devastating findings, one by American University Professor Robin Broad, the other by Princeton University Professor Angus Deaton and former International Monetary Fund chief economist Ken Rogoff, as but the latest episode in the collapse of the so-called Washington Consensus.
Sun Aug 26th, 2007 at 04:45:45 AM EST
[This is a crosspost from Feral Scholar.]
What do you think of when you hear the words "Viet Nam AntiWar Movement" or "AntiWar Movement of the Sixties"?
The odds are that you think of a peaceful, colourful, noisy demonstration of hippies and college kids confronting the uniformed forces of State power -- peace signs and tie-dye, protesters placing flowers into the barrels of police guns; of students being tear gassed and shot at Kent State; of folk music, Woodstock, the ubiquitous peace-sign symbol on jewelry and posters; of pretty long-haired girls and boys playing guitars and calling US soldiers "baby killers"; of Jane Fonda, still vilified on bumperstickers throughout the Red States, making her famous trip to North Viet Nam; and perhaps the durable image of a "hippie chick" spitting on a returning veteran at an airport, and bitter Viet Nam vets loathing "those goddamn hippies" and "commie-huggers".
In other words, you'll most likely think of a movement of young people in civilian society -- students and draft resisters -- mostly on college campuses, mostly white middle/upper class kids, in direct and hostile opposition to the armed forces as well as the government.
What you most likely won't
think of -- unless you remember it personally -- is the veterans' and soldiers' anti-war movement. You won't think of the song "Soldier We Love You," and you won't remember that the FTA Show in which Jane Fonda starred draw cheering crowds of US soldiers throughout its tour of Pacific Asia. You won't remember soldiers in Viet Nam wearing peace signs in place of their dog tags, or going to jail for refusing combat duty. You probably won't remember radical Black soldiers making a direct connection between US policy in Viet Nam and US policy in the inner cities. Memory of the pivotal social moment of the Sixties has been selectively edited (especially through the sugar-coated amnesia pills cranked out by the Hollywood vending machine). The soldiers' and veterans' antiwar movement has been erased from the public's memory.
This is why David Zeiger decided he had to make a documentary about the antiwar movement that we've been taught to forget: the antiwar movement that organised itself in barracks, on aircraft carriers, in country, at listening posts, in the line for mess hall. His film is called Sir! No Sir! and in this viewer's opinion it's one of the best documentaries of recent years.
From the diaries ~ whataboutbob
Tue Aug 14th, 2007 at 10:03:07 AM EST
I was introduced to the work of Mark Jones by Stan Goff, but have to confess I still haven't got around to reading more than a few short excerpts (laziness, plus too much other reading material). Mark (pbuh) was one of a very few marxists willing to come to grips with biotic and physical reality rather than clinging to the fantasies of industrial cornucopianism... or cornucopian industrialism, whatever -- the underlying Christianity, so to speak, of which Communism and Capitalism are the Protestants and Catholics: at each other's throats in righteous rage over what turn out to be fairly minor doctrinal disagreements when viewed from outside by, say a Zen buddhist or an atheist. Whatever... Mark was willing to blow the whistle. I thought I'd share this typically lucid piece from 2000, which Stan tossed at me a few days ago. I wish I had known Mark when he was still alive. Clearly we came to many of the same conclusions by our widely divergent paths.
From the diaries ~ whataboutbob
Fri Aug 3rd, 2007 at 07:56:54 AM EST
Is it common knowledge, or is it still an official secret, that a fairly serious conspiracy was thwarted in 1934, whose aim was to topple President F D Roosevelt and install a Fascist government in the US? and that memory of this attempted coup was then swept under the rug and erased from the public discourse?
From the diaries, with yawn poll - afew
Wed Jul 25th, 2007 at 06:09:10 AM EST
Lazy cut/paste diary. What I've been saying about risk assessment... we should be thinking like a poker player, not like a general sitting on a handy ridgetop sending lower ranks into the fray...
A POKER PLAYER'S GUIDE TO THE ENVIRONMENT
- Calculate the stakes as well as the odds.
- The odds of something happening at any moment are not the same as the odds of something ever happening. In ecological calculations -- especially ones in which the downside could ruin your whole millennium -- it is the latter odds that are important.
- When confronted with conflicting odds, ask what happens if each projection is wrong. Temporary job loss because of environmental restrictions may come and go, but the loss of the ozone layer is something you can have forever.
- When confronted with conflicting odds, remember that you don't have to play the game. There are other things to do with your time -- or with the economy or with the environment -- that may produce better results. Thus, instead of playing poker you could be making love. Or instead of getting jobs from some air or water degrading activity, the same jobs could come from more benign industry such as retrofitting a whole city for solar energy.
- Don't let anyone -- in industry, government, or the media -- define an "acceptable level of risk" for your own death or disease. They may not have the same vested interest in the right answer as you do.
- If the stakes are too high, the game is not worth it. If you can't stand the pain, don't attempt the gain.
---- Sam Smith, "Pocket Paradigms", www.prorev.com
the stakes are getting very, very high.
and the odds ain't improving either.
From the diaries - whataboutbob
Mon Jul 16th, 2007 at 02:32:07 AM EST
I -- OK, I and a small army of people far better informed than I, with hands-on experience -- have been saying this for YEARS. Nay, DECADES. Excuse the all-caps. This is one of those pet peeves of mine, it makes me want to shout and throw things. It is time we stopped allowing the boughten mouthpieces of the poison industry to go on reciting in public their reflex lie that "switching to organic agriculture would mean starvation for millions." Every time I hear, "yeah, organic ag is warm-n-fuzzy but it won't feed the world," I want to slap somebody upside the head with a bunch of organic rainbow chard.
Organic farming can yield up to three times as much food as conventional farming in developing countries, and holds its own against standard methods in rich countries, U.S. researchers said on Tuesday.
Front-paged by afew
Sat Jul 14th, 2007 at 09:37:55 AM EST
Until recently I guessed that the maximum contribution from renewables would be something like 50%: beyond that point the difficulties of storing electricity and balancing the grid could become overwhelming. But three papers now suggest that we could go much further...
Brought over by afew
Mon Jul 9th, 2007 at 07:07:58 PM EST
Lazy quote diary... Emmanuel Goldstein Edition:
via Sam Smith at ProRev, from BS Alert Jul 7 '07:
It's a curious thing that, over the past 10 - 12 days, the news from Iraq refers to the combatants there as "al-Qaida" fighters. When did that happen? Until a few days ago, the combatants in Iraq were "insurgents" or they were referred to as "Sunni" or "Shia" fighters in the Iraq Civil War. Suddenly, without evidence, without proof, without any semblance of fact, the US military command is referring to these combatants as "al-Qaida". Welcome to the latest in Iraq propaganda. . .
But what is even more notable is that the establishment press has followed right along, just as enthusiastically. I don't think the New York Times has published a story about Iraq in the last two weeks without stating that we are killing "Al Qaeda fighters," capturing "Al Qaeda leaders," and every new operation is against "Al Qaeda.". . . If your only news about Iraq came from The New York Times, you would think that the war in Iraq is now indistinguishable from the initial stage of the war in Afghanistan -- that we are there fighting against the people who hijacked those planes and flew them into our buildings: "Al Qaeda."
What is so amazing about this new rhetorical development -- not only from our military, but also from our "journalists" -- is that, for years, it was too shameless and false even for the Bush administration to use. . . After his 2004 re-election was secure, even the President acknowledged that "Al Qaeda" was the smallest component of the "enemies" we are fighting in Iraq. . . Even for the "smallest" group among those we are fighting in Iraq, the president described them not as "Al Qaeda," but as those "affiliated with or inspired by al Qaeda." Claiming that our enemy in Iraq was comprised primarily or largely of "Al Qaeda" was too patently false even for the President to invoke in defense of his war.
I do not watch any US MSM -- there's no Pravda in Isvestya and no Isvestya in Pravda, and it's more than mere flesh and blood can bear -- so I can't verify the trend claimed here. But it wouldn't surprise me at all. Has anyone else noticed it?
Sat Jul 7th, 2007 at 07:57:41 AM EST
In the last diary I metaphorically cartooned our civilisation as a hot air balloon losing altitude, with the passengers tossing things overboard -- hopefully not each other -- to try to gain altitude or at least to soften the inevitable landing. And I asserted that we were going to have to jettison some foundational beliefs of our culture, which -- as Jared Diamond reminds us at great length and detail in his Collapse tome -- is not easy for a culture to do. Some have literally chosen to commit collective or civilisational suicide rather than toss the baggage.
The previous diary was about Travelling Light -- facing those tough packing decisions when you can't take the kitchen sink on the train and the piano doesn't fit in your backpack. This one -- another Nomad/DeAnander co-production -- is about Settling In: what if we apply that kind of decision-making to a more permanent lifestyle, what if we actually decided to settle and live long-term in the undiscovered country of true-cost energy and a finite physical world?
Among the ideological/religious baggage I personally would like to see tossed overboard are a laundry list of 19th century ideas like our faith in the Energy Fairy, i.e. wilful ignorance and denial of the basic mathematics of energy production. Analysis of biofuels, for example, consistently points out the obvious: that the energy distillable from biomass cannot even begin to replace the fossil fuels we are guzzling at record rates -- not without exterminating a large percentage of the human beings on the planet who would prefer to be eating some of that biomass. And yet, despite the relative simplicity of the concepts and the arithmetic involved, large numbers of people persist in wilful denial and wishful thinking that the Biofuel Energy Fairy is going to appear upper-stage-right on a long wire and Save Us.
[Here I should note that I'm similarly skeptical -- in an even-handed way -- about the Nuclear Energy Fairy, the Hydrogen Energy Fairy, the Lunar Helium Energy Fairy (oh dear), and so on. Andrew Lang could compile a whole new series of folktale books for our time, were he still among us.]
From the diaries with an edit - afew
Sat Jun 30th, 2007 at 09:46:13 PM EST
This is another lazy quote diary, a cautionary tale and an appeal for info/ideas.
My buddy Stan has recently become a suburban food gardener:
I live in a modest subdivision in Northwest Raleigh (annexed five years ago into the city limits). Last year, inspired by the politics of food as well as my love of fresh, unpoisoned vegetables, I cleared about 800 square feet of useless grass and "decorative" landscaping, as well as two large stumps, in the front yard. My back yard is almost completely shaded by mature oaks and faces Northeast, making it less than ideal for sun exposure. That's why I used the front. I terraced one particularly bad runoff section of ex-lawn, hand tilled it with shovel and hoe, abutted it with stones, and mulched it to high heaven. The former "landscaped" section I sectioned off into meandering beds with mulched walkways between them. I planted some veggies last year, and we had very good luck all summer with the basics: cucumbers, tomatoes, zucchini, yellow squash, and some herbs.
Not a word was said by anyone.
This winter, I prepared the soil carefully, adding great mounds of organic compost, lime, and bone meal. When Spring rolled in, I planted spinach, radishes, turnips, carrots, sugar snaps, bush beans, and kale. I also interspersed flowers in the ground and in pots, and the parsley, oregano, rosemary, and thyme had all survived winter on their own (and flowered this year). it looked very good, and people who walked past commented to that effect.
Another aside: I drive a very beat up old Chevy Prism, on which - aside from rust - I also have bumper stickers suggesting the impeachment of the president and calling for an end to the war in Iraq. These are mixed in with a bunch of military crap (master parachutist badge, combat infantry badge, combat medical badge, Special Forces crest, Ranger tab, a "Vietnam Veteran" sticker, a "US Army Retired" sticker, and my MSG chevron) to create cognitive dissonance. Finally, there is a sticker of Crazy Horse, with the text: Homeland Security, Fighting Terrorism Since 1492. Oh year, also an American flag that is overwritten with One Nation, Under Surveillance.
Anyway, today I received a two letters in one envelope, dated June 14 and June 29, from Charleston Management Corporation, who handles the dirty work for the HOA. the June 29 letter told me I'd been warned in the June 14 letter (which I first received in the same envelope today) that vegetable gardens are not allowed in front yards here.
My garden is just starting to produce tomatoes, and my okra, cucumbers, squash (and all that summery stuff) is just beginning. Also cantaloupes, and I'm still getting turnips, carrots, and kale like mad.
I have until July 14th to remove my vegetable garden. I checked the architectural and landscaping standards, and sure enough, no veggies allowed... also no herbs. But I have a legal question. Does that mean that nothing edible can be grown? I mean, rosemary is used all over here as a hedge. How does one legally determine what is decorative and what is edible, and that ne'er the twain shall meet?
Any legal advice is welcome.
The other thing the restrictive covenant prohibits is clotheslines. This is an energy conservation issue, no?
Long story short, I have to haul away the piled up brush I was using for bird habitat alongside the house; and now I have to hide my compost heap. But I really really really don't want to uproot my food.
This HOA was successfully sued in 1999 for trying to levy fines on someone. But the text of their bullshit legal document says they can foreclose for violations.
(See Feral Scholar web site for the full story.)
First off, if anyone knows of a precedent case where a HOA was successfully prevented from destroying a food garden, I'd sure like to know about it. Secondly, I'd like to say -- and this fires me up with such grief and rage that it's all I can do not to reach for the CapsLock key -- that this illustrates what I've been saying in post after post, about a culture that denigrates the processes of life and subsistence, that relegates food production to "the back yard," out of sight and out of mind, like something dirty or indecent. We are insane. This is insane. To compel anyone on this hungry and thirsty planet to dig up a food garden is an abomination.
Some friends of mine have a similar front yard -- mulched and planted in useful fruits, herbs, and veg -- in a prosperous subdivision of expensive Central Calif real estate. They are susti garden experts who run a bike-based gardening business. Their yard is considered a highlight of the neighbourhood, and they give tours which are immensely popular. People come there to learn how to do likewise. Their yard has been featured in yuppie magazines. Go figure.
Anyway, if anyone knows of a case where a home gardener has won the war against the HOA totalitarians [mini-Mugabes, we might say in this case, given that dictator's habit of eradicating home vegetable gardens], a precedent case would be useful right about now. Or any suggestion of how to embarrass them out of proceeding.
Thu Jun 28th, 2007 at 09:26:58 AM EST
The Great Bio-Fuel Hoax by Eric Holt-Gimenez
Myths of abundance divert attention from powerful economic interests that benefit from this biofuels transition, avoiding discussion of the growing price that citizens of the global South are beginning to pay to maintain the consumptive oil-based lifestyle of the North. Biofuel mania obscures the profound consequences of the industrial transformation of our food and fuel systems [...]
Industrialized countries have unleashed an "agro-fuels boom" by mandating ambitious renewable fuel targets. Renewable fuels are to provide 5.75 percent of Europe's transport fuel by 2010, and 10 percent by 2020. The U.S. goal is 35 billion gallons a year. These targets far exceed the agricultural capacities of the industrial North. Europe would need to use 70 percent of its farmland for fuel.
(quote continues below)
from the diaries ~ whataboutbob
Wed Jun 20th, 2007 at 07:40:29 AM EST
Lazy diarising: just a quote and a haunting question.
Sixteen gallons of oil. That's how much the average American soldier in Iraq and Afghanistan consumes on a daily basis -- either directly, through the use of Humvees, tanks, trucks, and helicopters, or indirectly, by calling in air strikes. Multiply this figure by 162,000 soldiers in Iraq, 24,000 in Afghanistan, and 30,000 in the surrounding region (including sailors aboard U.S. warships in the Persian Gulf) and you arrive at approximately 3.5 million gallons of oil: the daily petroleum tab for U.S. combat operations in the Middle East war zone.
Multiply that daily tab by 365 and you get 1.3 billion gallons: the estimated annual oil expenditure for U.S. combat operations in Southwest Asia. That's greater than the total annual oil usage of Bangladesh, population 150 million -- and yet it's a gross underestimate of the Pentagon's wartime consumption.
Such numbers cannot do full justice to the extraordinary gas-guzzling expense of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. After all, for every soldier stationed "in theater," there are two more in transit, in training, or otherwise in line for eventual deployment to the war zone -- soldiers who also consume enormous amounts of oil, even if less than their compatriots overseas. Moreover, to sustain an "expeditionary" army located halfway around the world, the Department of Defense must move millions of tons of arms, ammunition, food, fuel, and equipment every year by plane or ship, consuming additional tanker-loads of petroleum. Add this to the tally and the Pentagon's war-related oil budget jumps appreciably, though exactly how much we have no real way of knowing.
And foreign wars, sad to say, account for but a small fraction of the Pentagon's total petroleum consumption.[...]
Michael T Klare via Alternet -- worth a read.
At what point are we fighting wars in order to steal the oil to keep the warfighting machinery running? There's a pathetic Mad Max aspect to all this... or, inevitably, a flashback of the archetypical scene of two crazy old winos wrestling in the gutter for a half full bottle of hooch, in the process smashing it and spilling the lot.
From the diaries - whataboutbob
Wed Jun 13th, 2007 at 06:37:51 AM EST
Packing Light for a Long Journey
An epistolatory dialogue between Nomad and DeAnander
Background: Nomad recently went camping in Sweden and then moved to S Africa; DeAnander recently travelled to Canada from the US and back (alas) by train. These experiences combined with earlier ET threads about consumerism, lifestyle, Dmitry Orlov, Peak Oil, and so on, sparked a conversation about 'the bare necessities of life' and what we think we really need to feel happy. The recent 'Overshoot' discussion made this diary seem even more relevant -- so here we go. (And btw, a sequel is in the works, about 'Settling In' or trying to apply these insights from travelling to longer-term homes.)
Recently I travelled to BC (Canada) for a couple of weeks by train. Once inside Canada I would be moving about quite a lot by bus, staying in hostels, helping friends to move house, etc. So I did not want to pack too heavily, as I'd be toting my luggage by hand on and off buses, ferries, etc. On the other hand, I was in for at least 48 hours on the train (24 each way -- US trains are slow and distances are long), and almost two weeks in various climates; I wanted to take enough clothing of various kinds to be comfortable from 'snow on the ground' to 'light rain and watery sunshine' to 'hot and dry with smog' at various points along the way. And enough reading (or other entertainments) to keep me happy on the long journeys (12 hours bus rides, and the long train legs). And decent food for the Amtrak journeys, since their food is not only corporate, but on the more godawful end of corporate (think "airplane food" but without the cute miniaturisation factor).
Promoted by whataboutbob
Wed May 23rd, 2007 at 09:16:58 AM EST
... when the news for the day is likely to contain headlines like these...
Signs of Positive Feedback Appearing: The earth's ability to soak up the gases causing global warming is beginning to fail because of rising temperatures, in a long-feared sign of "positive feedback," new research reveals today...
Dutch Keep a Nervous Eye on Climate Change: ...climate change forces the Dutch to undertake new work to improve the dam which ensures vital protection for a country where 26 percent of the land is below sea level.
Scorching Summer Forecast for Much of US: People heading out this holiday to fish and boat in the Southeast could find lakes and reservoirs so low that sandbars and stumps pose hazards. Campers and hikers in the Southwest may see restrictions in national forests dangerously dry from years of drought.
Global Carbon Emissions in Overdrive: Global emissions of carbon dioxide are growing at a faster clip than the highest rates used in recent key UN reports. CO2 emissions from cars, factories, and power plants grew at an annual rate of 1.1 percent during the 1990s, according to the Global Carbon Project, which is a data clearinghouse set up in 2001 as a cooperative effort among UN-related groups and other scientific organizations. But from 2000 to 2004, CO2 emissions rates almost tripled to 3 percent a year - higher than any rate used in emissions scenarios for the reports by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).
From the diaries, with small format edit - whataboutbob
Tue May 22nd, 2007 at 09:28:29 AM EST
Pete Gelderloos writes about his experience of arrest and detainment in Barcelona.
"I'm a tourist! Tourist!" I protested, somewhere in the dungeons of the Guardia Urbana located inconspicuously along La Rambla.
"¡No!" the cop yelled back, wagging his finger. "¡Terrorist!"
[...] The cop was sure I was a terrorist because he was sure I was a squatter, and he was sure I was a squatter because he thought I looked like one (I was wearing a political t-shirt and had some slogans scribbled on my shoes).
From the diaries - whataboutbob
Thu May 17th, 2007 at 10:36:20 AM EST
The ever-reliable Chalmers Johnson -- how trying it must be to be an intelligent political analyst in an age of such aggressive idiocy:
Imperialism and militarism have thus begun to imperil both the financial and social well-being of our republic. What the country desperately needs is a popular movement to rebuild the Constitutional system and subject the government once again to the discipline of checks and balances. Neither the replacement of one political party by the other, nor protectionist economic policies aimed at rescuing what's left of our manufacturing economy will correct what has gone wrong. Both of these solutions fail to address the root cause of our national decline.
I believe that there is only one solution to the crisis we face. The American people must make the decision to dismantle both the empire that has been created in their name and the huge (still growing) military establishment that undergirds it.[...]
From the diaries ~ whataboutbob
Mon Mar 5th, 2007 at 07:18:37 PM EST
I would like to introduce the ETites to the Long Bets Web site. (Current list of bets on the table here) The point of the web site is to formalise and make accountable various futurological predictions, in some cases betting actual money on the outcome.
It might be an interesting model for playing with predictive assertions from within the ET thinktank; Jerome's "$100/barrel oil" series is a form of ongoing Long Bet, as are many other opinions and assertions underlying our various political and programmatic positions.
So... what are you betting on?
Wed Jan 31st, 2007 at 07:32:51 AM EST
Here is a useful meme: sober and lowkey yet with accurate resonances. I think we might now identify some of the writers at e.g. FT who make J's blood boil with a handy, concise label that may be gaining traction: Market Fundies.
The Longview Institute, a progressive think tank with which I am affiliated, has just launched a Market Fundamentalism resource page, designed to help people recognize and refute these arguments. Longview's Fred Block, a sociologist at the University of California at Davis, has long been articulating the dangers of Market Fundamentalism. Take a look: The LongView Institute HomePage. The plan is to steadily add new arguments and new material, but what is already there provides plenty of fodder for a collective assault on the irrational ideas that support Market Fundamentalism. footnote
Market Fundamentalism is what prevents us from having universal health care, mass transit, affordable housing, trains that cross the nation, subsidized care for the young and elderly, and government efforts to reduce carbon emissions. The list, of course, is endless.
This is the world's shortest diary; I was going to stick the quote and url onto a current thread but there wasn't an obviously appropriate one. Perhaps the diary might be used to collect favourite resources which challenge and debunk Market Fundamentalism... ET of course being one such.
From the diaries -- whataboutbob
by Oui - May 30
by Oui - May 13
by Oui - May 31
by Oui - May 30
by Oui - May 27
by Oui - May 13
by Oui - May 9
by Oui - May 4
by Oui - May 3
by Oui - Apr 30
by Oui - Apr 26
by Oui - Apr 8
by Oui - Mar 19