Posted by: brothermartin | August 9, 2008


Niche Farming Offers Way Back to the Land

STARTING a small farm can pay rich dividends, especially if the farm produces niche foods like artisanal cheeses or truffles. But don’t quit your day job.

(my note:  and never ride in the bucket on the front of a tractor like the woman in the illustration that accompanies this story is doing…it’s a good way to do some serious damage to your body)

Sarah Beth Aubrey took that advice several years ago, after, she says, she “got sick of driving to work.” She succumbed to an entrepreneurial itch by founding Aubrey’s Natural Meats, a 31-acre farm in Elwood, Ind., where she and her husband, Cary, raise cattle and pigs.

Ms. Aubrey, 33, who grew up on a farm in Illinois and was crowned the first runner-up National Polled Hereford Queen at the age of 20, earned a bachelor’s degree in agricultural communications and then worked at an Indianapolis agribusiness consulting firm and a financial planner.

But the frustration of working for somebody else “was like water dripping down a cave wall,” she said, adding: “You can hear it. Then it’s a puddle, and suddenly you’re ankle deep in it.”


Supermarket Chains Narrow Their Sights

Published: August 6, 2008

ONE of the biggest brand names in food this summer doesn’t carry a trademark. It’s the word “local,” which has entered the language as a powerful symbol of high quality and goodness.

Supermarkets are beginning to catch on that stocking corn and tomatoes grown nearby is not enough for customers. Now they are competing with farm stands and farmers’ markets for a wider variety of fresh fruits and vegetables.

It’s been a boon for local farmers. Ten years ago local produce was devalued at the wholesale Hunts Point market, said Lyle Wells, whose family has been farming on Long Island since 1660. “Now you can’t get enough of the stuff.”


Posted by: brothermartin | August 8, 2008


Affordable Housing Goes Green

Once a High-End Luxury, Energy Efficient Space Becomes Available to Average Home Buyers

By Suemedha Sood 08/05/2008

Trolley Square is one of many new developments applying sustainable building practices to create a green living environment. The sleek brick building, in the heart of North Cambridge, Mass., tries many ways to conserve energy in the face of long New England winters. It has heavy insulation, high-efficiency boilers, programmable thermostats, variable speed fans, high-efficiency appliances, solar panels and lighting controlled by occupancy sensors. It has storm-water retention tanks to conserve water. It’s close to public transportation, to cut down on automobile use. Trolley Square is green, green, green. But the project stands apart from most green developments because it was built for low-income residents.

The developer, Homeowner’s Rehab Inc., built 40 affordable residential units — 32 rental and 8 homeownership — in addition to 2,800 sq ft of both community and commercial space and 14,000 sq ft of open space. The total cost of the project came to $15,300,000, funded by grants and loans from the city, the state, the federal government and affordable housing non-profits.

(Matt Mahurin)

Illustration by: Matt Mahurin

Green building is often regarded as a luxury of the rich, but affordable housing developers are beginning to take on the green standard. Low-income communities, many experts say, have a lot to gain from greener, more sustainable homes. Sustainable building practices lead to energy conservation, water conservation, healthier indoor air quality, more durable structures and access to public transportation — all of which significantly cut down on long-term costs for residents.


Posted by: brothermartin | August 7, 2008


from Sharon Astyk:

What Do You Plan to Be When You Grow Up…Post Peak?

Sharon August 5th, 2008

Ok, everyone who thinks that your job will still be there in five years raise your hands.  For those of you with your hands up, how sure are you?   How secure are you in a deep, systemic crisis?  70% of the economy survives on consumer spending – what happens if 50% or 80% of that dries up – if really all we’re buying is food and oil, and not that much of that?

The truth is that the one thing that all of us should be planning for is a job loss – and by this I don’t mean a short term job change, but a job loss in a deep Depression with extended, widespread unemployment – where there is no unemployment insurance anymore and most of your neighbors can’t get work either.  Is this inevitable?  No, merely probable, I think.  But probable enough that we should be prepared for it to happen.

Now I realize this scares the hell out of most of us – and not much less me than you.  My family buys groceries too.  But that’s what happened in the Great Depression, and where more than a few people think we’re headed.  We can all be happy if we don’t go there, but we should be ready for the formal economy to stop feeding and housing us.


Posted by: brothermartin | August 5, 2008


When the Organic Consumers’ Association accuses the government of collusion in the 9-11 attacks, you know the truth has gone viral….

Web Note: Articles like the below, and the similar cover-up in the New York Times today are a graphic reminder of why the majority of Americans do not believe the “official story” of what happened on 9/11, nor the official story from Bush & Cheney (echoed by McCain in 2001) behind the mysterious anthrax attacks which caused panic among the American public and pushed Congress to pass the fascist Patriot Act a few weeks after the 9/11 attacks in 2001. Isn’t it interesting that two high-ranking Democratic Senators (Daschle & Leahy) who were criticizing the Patriot Act in Congress at the time had deadly anthrax letters mailed to their offices?

OK, so now we know Al Queda or Saddam didn’t send the anthrax, that it was a genetically engineered “weaponized” strain from the US military’s Fort Detrick, MD facility. Who then are the real terrorists who obtained this heavily-guarded anthrax, weaponized it, and then mailed it to two liberal US Senators and Tom Brokaw’s office at NBC? First, the FBI said Army scientist Steven Hatfill did it, now they say, no, Army scientist Bruce Ivins did it, but Ivins then inconveniently (or conveniently) committed suicide. However another scientist who worked with Ivins at Fort Detrick said in today’s New York Times that Ivins couldn’t have weaponized the anthrax strain himself, transforming it into tiny nano-like particles that could be inhaled. Bruce Ivins was an expert on anthrax vaccines, not weaponizing anthrax, a highly specialized and complicated undertaking. As Keith Olbermann MSNBC piece on national TV suggested yesterday, this all looks like an “inside job.”

This all brings up other, even more troubling questions. If the Administration lied about the anthrax attacks, and the CIA & FBI helped cover this up, and are continuing to do so, then why should we believe their other rather preposterous stories about 9/11 (no prior warnings to Bush and Cheney, FAA didn’t properly notify the Air Force, no standard Air Force interceptions of hijacked planes, no anti-aircraft batteries guarding the Pentagon, physics-defying molten steel pouring out the side of one of the Twin Towers–aircraft fuel and building materials do not produce a hot enough fire to produce molten steel, molten steel filmed on national TV in sub-basement areas, and magical free falls and near-disintegration of three skyscrapers, one of which, WTC7, was not even hit by a plane)? How does this relate to Bush/Cheney/Congress lies about non-existent weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, about Iraq links to our former Carter/Reagan/Bush operative in Afghanistan, Osama bin Laden? If these are all lies, then why did we attack Iraq and kill hundreds of thousands of people? Why did we pass the Patriot Act? Why are we occupying and making war on Afghanistan and allying ourselves with psychopathic warlords who are just as evil as the Taliban? Unfortunately the corporate mass media are not going to answer these questions. Nor will Barack Obama and the Democratic Party. Nor will MoveOn and the other middle of the road liberal and progressive groups who are afraid to look at the evidence and admit the scary truth: Bush and Cheney have created a near-fascist state. The Democrats are too scared or too compromised, or both, to stand up to Bush and Cheney and the rogue Shadow Government that has hijacked our democracy for the last 45 years. But here I’ll say it: America’s wave of terror in September 2001, including the anthrax attacks, was an Inside Job.


Posted by: brothermartin | August 5, 2008


Many in the environmental community are annoyed by Barack Obama’s change of position on offshore drilling, even while they applaud his comprehensive energy plan.

The Democratic candidate had staunchly opposed new drilling on the outer continental shelf, but then shifted his position on Friday to say he would be open to some drilling if it were necessary to reach compromise on a broader energy plan — like the one introduced by a bipartisan “Gang of 10” late last week. That plan, which Obama indicated he could support, calls for limited offshore drilling as well as increased investment in clean energy, with the overarching aim of reducing America’s oil dependence.

Friends of the Earth President Brent Blackwelder was quick to criticize Obama’s position switch. “Friends of the Earth Action endorsed Barack Obama in May in large part because he spoke out against the ‘gas tax holiday’ gimmick that would have done nothing to reduce our dependence on oil,” Blackwelder said in a statement Monday afternoon. “That’s why it’s so disappointing to see Obama now say he would consider expanding offshore drilling, even though he knows it is not a real solution to the energy crisis that is devastating our environment and our economy.” Blackwelder also criticized the “Gang of 10” legislation for including funding for liquefied coal and nuclear power.


Posted by: brothermartin | August 5, 2008


No room for doubt

Glaciers in the Tian Mountains in western China are melting because of global warming, causing concern among the locals.

Up close, the sound of global warming at the face of the Urumqi No1 Glacier is a simple, steady drip, drip, drip. Just 30 metres from the main wall, the flood of meltwater becomes so powerful that it cuts a tunnel under the floor of grey ice, leaving only a blotchy, wafer-thin crust on the surface.

Compared with the collapse of ice shelves in the Antarctic, the melting of the mountains in China’s far west is one of the less spectacular phenomena of global warming, but it is a more immediate cause of concern and hope.
There is concern because this glacier – more than almost any other in China – is a natural water regulator for millions of people downstream in the far western region of Xinjiang. In winter, it stores up snow and ice. In summer, it releases meltwater to provide drinking and irrigation supplies to one of the country’s most arid regions. It brings hope because its rapid shrinkage is helping to set off climate-change alarm bells in a country that emits more greenhouse gases than any other.

The Urumqi No1 Glacier is so named because it was the first icefield to be measured in China. Since 1953, scientists have been monitoring its thickness and length, analysing traces of pollution and tracking changes in temperature at this 3,800-metre altitude. The results leave no room for doubt that this part of the Tian (Heaven) mountain range is melting.


Posted by: brothermartin | August 5, 2008


Endangered animals: the red list

Nearly half of all the world’s primates at risk of extinction

· Study paints bleak picture for hundreds of species
· Loss of habitat and boom in bushmeat trade blamed

Golden lion tamarin (Leontopithecus rosalia)

The endangered golden lion tamarin. Photograph: Anup Shah/Getty Images

Nearly half of all primate species are now threatened with extinction, according to an evaluation by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

The study, which drew on the work of hundreds of scientists and is the most comprehensive analysis for more than a decade, found that the conservation outlook for monkeys, apes and other primates has dramatically worsened.

In some regions, the thriving bushmeat trade means the animals are being “eaten to extinction”.


Posted by: brothermartin | August 5, 2008


Indigenous Land Management and Western Ecological Science

by Dennis Martinez

In the last ten years internationally, traditional ecological knowledge and indigenous management systems have caught the attention of many scientists globally. This is a good trend. We don’t know how long this post-deconstructionist window of cultural relativity is going to be open. We’re damn glad it’s open. We hope it stays open long enough to sneak through and get some of our ideas across about a fundamental difference between the Western scientific-oriented environmental movement, which has many good aspects, but which doesn’t fit exactly with indigenous cosmologies and world views. We need then to find out where we can work together.

In wilderness preservation, in land management, forestry, resource management of all kinds, native peoples offer a certain kind of model. But it’s not the biocentric model that you’re familiar with from deep ecology or Aldo Leopold’s land ethics. It’s fundamentally different, and the difference, primarily, is that it’s kin-centric, which is a word that I’ve coined.  It’s not in the dictionary. I had to think of something that would explain that relationship in the universe is about equality.

Traditionally, we work with animals and plants, as co-managers with them. We don’t have the moral authority to extend ethics to the land community. What we have the right to do is to make our case as human beings to the natural world. And that compact, that kind of contract between the animals and human beings is what has guided Indians’ subsistent livelihoods, hunting and gathering, Indian agroecology and agriculture in the old world sense for a very, very long time.


Posted by: brothermartin | August 5, 2008



Lester R. Brown

There is a vast worldwide potential for cutting carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions by reducing the use of materials. This begins with the major metals—steel, aluminum, and copper—where recycling requires only a fraction of the energy needed to produce these metals from virgin ore, and with the recycling and composting of most household garbage. It continues with designing cars, appliances, and other products so they are easily disassembled into their component parts for reuse or recycling.

Germany and, more recently, Japan are requiring that products such as automobiles, household appliances, and office equipment be designed for easy disassembly and recycling. In May 1998, the Japanese Diet enacted a tough appliance recycling law, one that prohibits discarding household appliances, such as washing machines, TV sets, or air conditioners. With consumers bearing the cost of disassembling appliances in the form of a disposal fee to recycling firms, which can come to $60 for a refrigerator or $35 for a washing machine, the pressure to design appliances so they can be more easily and cheaply disassembled is strong.

Closely related to this concept is that of remanufacturing. Within the heavy industry sector, Caterpillar has emerged as a leader. At a plant in Corinth, Mississippi, it recycles some 17 truckloads of diesel engines a day. These engines, retrieved from Caterpillar’s clients, are disassembled by hand by workers who do not throw away a single component, not even a bolt or screw. Once the engine is disassembled, it is then reassembled with all worn parts repaired. The resulting engine is as good as new. Caterpillar’s remanufacturing division is racking up $1 billion a year in sales and growing at 15 percent annually, contributing impressively to the company’s bottom line.


Posted by: brothermartin | August 5, 2008


Dear world, please confront America

By Naomi Wolf
First Published: August 1, 2008

Is it possible to fall out of love with your own country? For two years, I, like many Americans, have been focused intently on documenting, exposing, and alerting the nation to the Bush administration’s criminality and its assault on the Constitution and the rule of law — a story often marginalized at home. I was certain that when Americans knew what was being done in their name, they would react with horror and outrage.
Three months ago, the Bush administration still clung to its devil’s sound bite, “We don’t torture.” Now, Doctors Without Borders has issued its report documenting American-held detainees’ traumas, and even lie detector tests confirm they have been tortured. The Red Cross report has leaked: torture and war crimes. Jane Mayer’s impeccably researched exposé “The Dark Side” just hit the stores: torture, crafted and directed from the top.
The Washington Post gave readers actual video footage of the abusive interrogation of a Canadian minor, Omar Khadr, who was seen showing his still-bleeding abdominal wounds, weeping and pleading with his captors.
So the truth is out and freely available. And America is still napping, worrying about its weight, and hanging out at the mall.
I had thought that after so much exposure, thousands of Americans would be holding vigils on Capitol Hill, that religious leaders would be asking God’s forgiveness, and that a popular groundswell of revulsion, similar to the nineteenth-century anti-slavery movement, would emerge. To paraphrase Abraham Lincoln, if torture is not wrong, nothing is wrong.
And yet no such thing has occurred. There is no crisis in America’s churches and synagogues, no Christian and Jewish leaders crying out for justice in the name of Jesus, a tortured political prisoner, or of Yahweh, who demands righteousness. I asked a contact in the interfaith world why. He replied, “The mainstream churches don’t care, because they are Republican. And the synagogues don’t care, because the prisoners are Arabs.”



Where Have All the Leaders Gone?

By Lee Iacocca with Catherine Whitney

Had Enough?
Am I the only guy in this country who’s fed up with what’s happening? Where the hell is our outrage? We should be screaming bloody murder. We’ve got a gang of clueless bozos steering our ship of state right over a cliff, we’ve got corporate gangsters stealing us blind, and we can’t even clean up after a hurricane much less build a hybrid car. But instead of getting mad, everyone sits around and nods their heads when the politicians say, “Stay the course.”

Stay the course? You’ve got to be kidding. This is America, not the damned Titanic. I’ll give you a sound bite: Throw the bums out!

You might think I’m getting senile, that I’ve gone off my rocker, and maybe I have. But someone has to speak up. I hardly recognize this country anymore. The President of the United States is given a free pass to ignore the Constitution, tap our phones, and lead us to war on a pack of lies. Congress responds to record deficits by passing a huge tax cut for the wealthy (thanks, but I don’t need it). The most famous business leaders are not the innovators but the guys in handcuffs. While we’re fiddling in Iraq, the Middle East is burning and nobody seems to know what to do. And the press is waving pom-poms instead of asking hard questions. That’s not the promise of America my parents and yours traveled across the ocean for. I’ve had enough. How about you?

I’ll go a step further. You can’t call yourself a patriot if you’re not outraged. This is a fight I’m ready and willing to have.


I am impressed that a chain bookstore like Borders would put this out!

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