People the world over are opposing fossil fuel extraction in an incalculable number of ways. It is now clear that burning fossil fuels threatens millions of Life forms and could be laying the foundation for the extermination of Humanity. But what about “alternative” energy? As progressives stand shoulder-to-shoulder with those rejecting fossil fuels and nuclear power, should we despise, ignore, or commend those who challenge the menace to their homes and their communities from solar, wind and hydro-power (dams)? The Green Party of St. Louis/Gateway Green Alliance gave its answer with unanimous approval of a version of the statement below in May, 2021.
Global Conflicts Over Fossil Fuels, Nuclear and Alternative Energy
The monumental increase in the use of energy is provoking conflicts across the Earth. We express our solidarity with those struggling against extraction, including these examples.
Standing Rock, North Dakota. We stand in solidarity with the on-going Native American protests at Standing Rock in North Dakota protesting environmentally irresponsible and culturally damaging pipelines that transport crude oil extracted from tar sand, destroying their ancestral lands. So-called “clean” and “renewable” energies depend on the climate killer oil for their production.
Ogoni People vs. Shell. We stand in solidarity with the Movement for Survival of Ogoni People against Shell. The Niger-Delta was devastated and traditional culture weakened by soil, surface and groundwater contamination that makes farming and fishing impossible. Local communities still seek to receive denied compensation, clean-up, a share of the profits and a say in decision-making.
Coal extraction in India. We stand in solidarity with the Centre for Policy Research in India as it opposes efforts by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to open 41 new coal mines because burning coal is a major factor in climate change, leads to asthma, premature births, and spreads toxins (including mercury) by air, water and land.
Fracking in Pennsylvania. We stand in solidarity with the Green Party of Pennsylvania which has opposed fracking since 2008 when it realized that use of volatile chemicals could harm local communities and waterways and contribute to climate instability. Local residents have become ill and major waterways and delicate ecosystems have been damaged.
Nuclear power and Olympic Games. We stand in solidarity with the No Nukes Action Committee of the Bay Area who are demonstrating against the Olympic Games slated for Tokyo in order to raise awareness of the ongoing disaster of Fukushima nuclear power since nuclear power is deadly and intimately connected with the potential for nuclear war.
Uranium Mining in Africa. We stand in solidarity with “Solidarity Action for the 21 Villages” in Faléa, Mali against the French multinational COGEMA/Orano. After years of struggle, this NGO defeated a uranium mine through community mobilizing. Aware of the detrimental effects on health, environment, agricultural land, water sources and cultural heritage, they are still fighting to undo already done infrastructural damage.
Solar arrays in Washington State. We stand in solidarity with rural Klickitat County, WA residents who are being invaded by industrial solar facilities which would exceed 12,000 acres and undermine wildlife/habitat, ecosystems, ground/water, and food production because solar panels and lithium ion batteries contain carcinogens with no method of disposal or re-cycling and could contribute to wildfires from electrical shortages.
Hydro-power in Honduras. We stand in solidarity with the indigenous Lenca people opposing the Agua Zarca dam on the Gualcarque River in Honduras whose leader Berta Cáceres was murdered for uniting different movements to expose how dams destroy farmland, leave forests bare, disturb ancestral burial sites, and deprive communities of water for crops and livestock.
Lithium mining in Thacker Pass. We stand in solidarity with activists aiming to stop Lithium Americas’ Thacker Pass open-pit mine (Nevada). Essential for electronic devices including electric cars, the mine would destroy rare old-growth big sagebrush, harm wildlife including many endangered species and lower the water table. Its operation would require massive fossil fuel use and toxic waste ponds.
Cobalt Extraction in DR Congo. We stand in solidarity with the child laborers slaving and dying in Democratic Republic of Congo cobalt mines. Cobalt is an essential ingredient for some of the world’s fastest-growing industries—electric cars and electronic devices. It co-occurs with copper mining, used in construction, machinery, transportation and war technology worldwide.
The version adopted by the Gateway Green Alliance differs only by referring to its organizational name in the text. If you would like to join those spreading the word regarding the need to challenge all forms of energy extraction because we can provide better lives for every society on Earth by reducing the global production of energy, please contact the author at the email below.
African Americans must learn the truth about socialism that they may preserve their culture, get rid of poverty, ignorance and disease, and help America live up at least to a shadow of its vain boast as the land of the free and the home of the brave.
— W.E.B DuBois
The Message is the Truth!
He who controls the media, controls the world. And with media, that is everything — curriculum design, product manuals, white papers, legislative treatises, novels, history books, magazines, on-line, off-line, textbooks, music, film, TV, the entire ranch, including The Press.
It was early when I got into Gannett papers, Pulitzer owned papers, small town mom and pop “chains, LA Times Syndicate, and others. Chilling, really, the naivete I had as a J student in Tucson, working the Arizona Daily Wildcat and other lab papers. Seems like I thought I was a warrior for truth, and that was on occasion true, but in the end, the powers that be in big or small locales control the message because the newspaper owners and editors usually are embedded in the community: Chamber of Commerce, School Board, Rotary, Knights of Columbus, and more.
There is not much freedom, and you better get the quotes right, and you better not pry too much around the edges.
No more competing newspapers in small towns. No more weeklies. No more radical and hokum papers. There are no more papers. Well, a few, but in this Zoom scroll world, and this antisocial shit storm of the social networks (sic), we have pretty threadbare conversations. Digital stories are worthless for that, getting the juices flowing. It’s all curated and personalized, these digital platforms and news aggregators; and there is just so much shit out there on the Internet the quagmire is part of the lesson plan and lessons learned — no one is right. Bullshit. Some great sources, in the digital world, but they are read by a few hundred, maybe a thousand or so. Writing rants in the comments sections, well, not sure the impact that has on anything other than ego building and endless criticism. There are a million know-it-all’s out there for every decent piece of news or feature.
But reading ain’t enough, since we need robust parsing and discourse, and exactly what it is we are asked to read and comprehend and take hook, line and sinker, as the prevailing truths of our time, or the situational truths of our day.
It is A Sickness: Shifting Baseline Disorder/Disease?
So much shifting baseline disorder, and so many truths lifting and tossed and remixed. Without education, that is, table and coffee talk, what have, it is a one-way line of communication. Even these little rants need some feedback, or better yet, discourse. Ain’t gunna happen. Here, today, on Democracy Now:
And this is something that the AP and other news organizations really need to think about. Who are we going to let work in our newsrooms? How are we going to deal with — I mean, if you have, for example, a whole generation of students who went to Black Lives Matter protests last summer, and then they come and take my journalism class at Stanford or another university, and they say, “You know what? I want to be a journalist,” and their lives live on TikTok and Instagram and all that, are all these journalists not — are these students not going to be able to be journalists now? I mean, are there not top managers in news organizations who were in anti-Vietnam protests in the ’60s, and their lives live on in Instagram?
Or is this specific to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict? Which, as you noted, the coverage is shifted the very week that Emily got caught up in this. You had the bombing of the AP bureau in Gaza. You had a very visceral reaction by the American public to the Israeli attacks in Gaza, in a way that you did not have in 2014 when 2,200 Palestinians were killed. You didn’t see this kind of reaction. You had, on the A1 of The New York Times on Sunday, a story about the brutality of life under Israeli occupation. These are all very unusual. Look on The New York Times today in terms of a letter from Gaza that really calls into question a lot of the Israeli narrative about Hamas and what’s really happening in Gaza. I mean, there’s just — there’s a major shift going on.
— Stanford journalism professor Janine Zacharia, a former Jerusalem bureau chief for the Washington Post
You Can’t Talk about this in Polite Company!
To distract from Gaza slaughter, Israel lobby manufactures antisemitism freakout. Grayzone.
Mark Ruffalo apologizes for posts on Israel: ‘It’s inflammatory, disrespectful and is being used to justify antisemitism’
Emily Wilder’s Firing Is No Surprise: AP Has Always Been Right-Wing — Source.
On February 10, Abby Martin filed a lawsuit in federal court challenging a Georgia law requiring all independent contractors to sign a pro-Israel pledge, promising to not participate or advocate the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement against Israeli crimes.
The death knell is talking critically about “Israel,” man. Line up those rusty three-penny nails and hammer truth away in a pine coffin. Facts don’t matter. The up is down, war is peace, lies are truth mentality and propaganda, that is on overdrive with the Zionists especially, those here, there, and in other parts of the world, like UK and Australia. Forget Canada!
Israel is in breach of more than 30 U.N. Security Council resolutions. It is in breach of Article 33 of the Fourth Geneva Convention that defines collective punishment of a civilian population as a war crime. It is in violation of Article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention for settling over half a million Jewish Israelis on occupied Palestinian land and for the ethnic cleansing of at least 750,000 Palestinians when the Israeli state was founded and another 300,000 after Gaza, East Jerusalem and the West Bank were occupied following the 1967 war. Its annexation of East Jerusalem and the Syrian Golan Heights violates international law, as does its building of a security barrier in the West Bank that annexes Palestinian land into Israel. It is in violation of U.N. General Assembly Resolution 194 that states that Palestinian refugees wishing to return to their homes and live at peace with their neighbors should be permitted to do so at the earliest practicable date.”
— Chris Hedges in his recent commentary, “Israel, the Big Lie” for ScheerPost
To Boycott or Not to Boycott?
Well, that is not the question. Really, when I was working for the University of Texas in El Paso, there was a loyalty oath to the Texas Constitution. Basically, you sign a state statute disqualifying for government employment persons who advocate the overthrow of government by force or violence or persons who were members of organizations that so advocated; the statute had been supplemented by a provision applicable to teachers calling for the drawing up of a list of organizations that advocated violent overthrow and making membership in any listed organization prima facie evidence of disqualification.
No Sign, No Job. Or, for a measly adjunct with no union (as if teacher’s unions do squat for the rank and file), you attempt to push the illogic of a loyalty oath to the state’s constitution, etc., when, in fact, much of what some teachers do IS tied to groups the prevailing neoliberal, neocon, conservative consider as dissident, adversarial, contrary to the American/Texan way, etc. That was me for much of my 18 years, on and off, in El Paso.
Of course, those corrupt and syphilitic judges pushing state loyalty oaths, and loyalty ones for apartheid and murderous Israel, they come back like this in their legal opinions: “If they do not choose to work on such terms, they are at liberty to retain their beliefs and associations and go elsewhere. Has the State thus deprived them of any right to free speech or assembly? We think not.”
A state could also deny employment based on a person’s “advocacy of overthrow” of the government by force or violence or based on unexplained membership in an organization so advocating with knowledge of the advocacy.
We already are behind the eight ball, as in these shit hole right to work (sic) states (read: anti union, anti worker rights, the right to get fired for no reason, thank you very much, mister, clean out your desk, and you have 10 minutes to leave the facility/office/warehouse/yard).
I’ve been escorted out of several workplaces with an hour’s notice, and these purveyors are wicked people, don’t let their PC and Cancel Culture and LGBTQAI+ spiels fool you.
Cancelling Your Subscription to Critical Thinking
Oh, so many ways that Tricky Shithead Force of Authority can wrangle “communist/radical/anarchist/Antifa/ ecoterrorist/antigovernment malcontent/fomenter of overthrow” out of this or that group or essay or membership into what would be now, terrorism. I was in Governor George W. Bush Country when it shifted — loyalty oath was required now of teachers, college adjuncts, what have you. “To honor, protect, defend and hold high the constitution of Texas . . . . ” El Paso may have voted straight democratic ticket, but many of the people in my circle who were artists, Chicanos, radicals outside that two-party system, but still voting for the lesser of two evils, always the democrat. Then, put in a large chunk of Latinx (mostly Mexicans and Mexican-Americans) who follow the Pope and indeed enlist in the military, well, we do have that conundrum of conservative “Hispanics.”
There really is no great place for a two-bit person — teaching hundreds of students at a time, in different schools or locations — to live. I was the Freeway Flyer, but in effect, now, before the lockdown and Zoom Rooms, 80 percent of all faculty are adjunct — just-in-time, precarious, at-will, 11th-hour, unprotected, un-benefited faculty.
That job is already fraught with landmines — bad department chairs, bad deans, asshole tenured faculty, bad unions, no unions, basic inhumane conditions in terms of teaching: no office, no health care, no nothing. That’s low wages, man — $6 an hour, $15, up to $18 (maybe).
Try being a creative teacher (I’ve written this a million times), and alas, scrutiny after scrutiny you find yourself in the public domain, even as a small fry. I was in the two newspapers all the time because I was working as a journalist, and I was not afraid of opinion pieces leveled against Empire, Powers, Administrators and the like.
Target after target are what I got plastered on my two-bit back. Hell, two-bit (no superstar teacher, shitty little articles, shitty little literary journals, shitty little everything in the eyes of the Capitalist Hierarchical Heathens) sometime feels like the world is against you, and other times, it seems as if the world could give squat what happens to you. That is the freedom, I guess — to never be noticed, read or consider an enemy of any “state.”
Above, that is, the story about Associated Press, it is no world of stopping the presses, so to speak. In terms of AP, well, a good piece over at the billionaire’s Intercept on that. Read:
“From its founding during the Mexican-American War to its reporting on Latin America today, AP’s always been quietly conservative” by Jon Schwartz.
THE ASSOCIATED PRESS has received an enormous amount of criticism, including from its own staffers, for firing Emily Wilder, 22, after hiring her as a news associate just 17 days before. According to AP, Wilder was let go for “violations of AP’s social media policy.” AP’s action was clearly in response to a right-wing pressure campaign targeting Wilder for her activism in college supporting Palestinian rights.
AP’s conservatism continued for the rest of the century. Seymour Hersh, who worked for AP from 1962 to 1967, later said editors there were “timid on Vietnam” and that he could not have written his 1970 exposé of the My Lai Massacre for the wire service. In 1984, at a time of great fear of nuclear war with the Soviet Union, President Ronald Reagan “joked” before a radio address that “I’m pleased to tell you today that I’ve signed legislation that will outlaw Russia forever. We begin bombing in five minutes.” An AP reporter filed an article on this, but editors didn’t publish it — until other news outlets ran the story. That same year, Secretary of Defense Caspar Weinberger asked AP not to run what it knew about the launch of a military satellite. AP happily obeyed.
I worked on stories for the AP a long time ago, and had friends who were employed by the AP. Absolutely, covering Southeast Arizona, the border, the militarized border, and such, I ran into editors on the newspapers that employed me who were scared shitless because their small town owners were also scared shitless capitalists. Amazing, any balance, really, to the other side of the border repression, or the outright thuggery of the officials, well, that was chopped out. My buddies with the AP, well, mostly culled stories, or at least parsed to nothing!
No Competing Narratives Allowed!
The price you pay for arguing is no job. Loyalty oath to the Constitution of Texas? There were some of us protesting, and I think I just signed on the dotted line, Paula Abdulla, quickly and sloppily, and while I didn’t put down my real John Hancock, it still felt like a cop-out. Paula Abdulla has been a signature I have used over the years. Each one is a bit different, and I have perfected the signature to not contain any resemblance to my real signature.
The outcry, and the protests, sure, maybe they did something, and my own pathetic personal deceptive signature may have felt good, but in the end, This is Not My/Our House.
So many of my African-American brothers and sisters have repeatedly stated, as we worked in these nonprofit (poverty pimps) jobs, that when the supervisors plied their unethical, ill-mannered, rotten tools to subjugate professional social services professionals, and I railed, always, and I always got sacked, the rejoinder was from my Black brothers and sisters, “This is not your house, Paul.” Not because of my skin color, because I am white, but because of my anti-Imperial, anti-authority, and oppositional defiance to the managers’ and overlords’ consistent and corrupting misjustice, and maladjusted injustice, all of what their hierarchies create in capitalism, I criticized/criticize.
Oh, then there are the multimillionaires, the Mark Ruffalo’s of the world. Imagine, the fear of losing films, man, for making a TRUE statement about Israel as an Apartheid State and a Genocidal Fanatical Religious State.
Any number of “projects” this Ruffalo multimillionaire hawks, well, this is the stuff of his backbone — fear of losing to the Israel Lobby.
The story dramatizes Robert Bilott’s case against the chemical manufacturing corporation DuPont after they contaminated a town with unregulated chemicals. It stars Mark Ruffalo as Bilott, along with Anne Hathaway, Tim Robbins, Bill Camp, Victor Garber, Mare Winningham, William Jackson Harper, and Bill Pullman.
Now, well, many Jewish writers have stated, “Of course, Jews run Hollywood.” I’m thinking about the early 2000s. Now, Google states:
Mea Culpa, Holly-Dirt!
Of course, Oliver Stone also had to apologize —
During a Television Critic Association panel on his 10-hour television Showtime documentary A Secret History of America in January, Stone got started with this little ditty: “Hitler was an easy scapegoat.”
This weekend he amped it up a notch. The controversial director complained to the London Sunday Times of “Jewish domination of the media” and claimed that Hitler did more damage to Russia than he did to the Jews.
Stone, who is half-Jewish, told the Times: “There’s a major lobby in the United States. They are hard workers. They stay on top of every comment, the most powerful lobby in Washington. Israel has f—ed up United States foreign policy for years.”
While “Hitler was a Frankenstein [monster],” Stone said, “there was also a Dr. Frankenstein: German industrialists, the Americans and the British. He had a lot of support.”
Stone continued: “Hitler did far more damage to the Russians than the Jewish people, 25 or 30 million [killed].”
It is the most bizarre and conspiratorial thing of our times, no, the fact that Jews were the heads of the major Hollywood studios, yet what Stone stated was, well, wrong! And he too grovels, and apologizes for stating his opinion, or deploying his First Amendment rights.
The complex web of interactions between Hollywood and the German government in the decade before the War reveals quite a different story – one not of antifascism but of “collaboration” [“Zusammenarbeit”]. The studios agreed not to attack the Nazis in any of their productions, and in return American movies were permitted in Germany, even potentially threatening ones like King Kong. At the same time – and this was a result less of the direct arrangement between the two groups than of a much deeper shared understanding – the American studios eliminated Jewish characters from the screen entirely. For seven years, the studios put out movies that were unobjectionable and sometimes even beneficial from the Nazi standpoint, and as a result they were able to continue doing business with Germany. (Source).
—Hitler and Hollywood: The Collaboration of American Movie Studios with Nazi Germany
By Benjamin Alexander Urwand
The names Harry Cohn, William Fox, Carl Laemmle, Louis B. Mayer, Jack and Harry Warner, and Adolph Zucker are giants in the history of contemporary Hollywood, outsiders who dared to invent their own vision of the American Dream. Even to this day, the American values defined largely by the movies of these émigrés endure in American cinema and culture. Who these men were, how they came to dominate Hollywood, and what they gained and lost in the process is the exhilarating story of An Empire of Their Own.
That is the gigantic sticky wicket, no, that we have Hollywood invented by Jews, but, well, Jews Don’t Run Hollywood. Then, there are those Jews who write about how Jews Run the Media, too — media being a plural, including books, music, film, TV, radio, marketing, what have you, including The Press.
Well, there could be some .001 percenters in the financial world, billionaire class, white men, mostly, and some are Goy and others Jewish. That’s just fact.
Jews are estimated to make up less than 1.4% of the world’s population, yet approximately 25% of the world’s billionaires. Even the Times of Israel states this:
Forbes published its 2018 roster of America’s wealthiest this week, and five members of the tribe made the top 10 list.
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg leads the Jewish pack at number 4, with a net worth of $61 billion. He is followed by software giant Oracle’s Larry Ellison at #5 with $58.4b and Google co-founder Larry Page at #6 with $53.8b.
Fellow co-founder Sergey Brin falls a bit behind with $52.4b, leaving him at #9. Finally, former New York mayor Michael Bloomberg closes out the top 10 with a respectable $51.8b.
We Can Always Rewrite a Murder Conviction into Self-Defense, those little Bastard Babies!
You can have your cake and eat it too! But no matter how you spin it, please find movies out of Hollywood or distributed or acted in by big names that might, oh, look at the rampant racism, indoctrination of, and apartheid loving Jewish man or woman, or child, in Israel. Think about that, uh, a movie script that shows one of the IDF pilots refusing to bomb Gaza. You think there might be a Netflix or Hulu series on that, how the family is not split in half, but just one son, a pilot in the Israeli Air Force, refuses to bomb Gaza. Imagine those dinner table conversations. Nah, not on Netflix.
Listen to Dan Cohen and Miko Peled talk about how indoctrinated Jews are in Israel. This is what you need to know about an entire people destroyed by agency, and free thought:
Or Norman Finkelstein —
And then the question is: Why? And I think the answer is: Because, whether one likes it or not, Benjamin Netanyahu is the true face of Israel. He’s an obnoxious, loudmouth, racist, Jewish supremacist. And that’s the whole population now. Now, I’m saying it’s in their DNA. I’m not saying it’s genetic. But it is a very sorry thing that the state of Israel has degenerated into. And that—
AMY GOODMAN: I mean, it’s clearly not the entire population. You have so many critics. You have a peace movement there.
NORMAN FINKELSTEIN: Well, no, I would say—you know, Amy, I would wish that were the case. I would wish that were the case. But if you ask the critics themselves, if you ask a Gideon Levy, you ask an Amira Hass, you ask a—
AMY GOODMAN: Who write for Haaretz.
NORMAN FINKELSTEIN: Right—you ask B’Tselem, you ask—
AMY GOODMAN: The human rights group.
NORMAN FINKELSTEIN: Right—Breaking the Silence, the soldiers’ group, they’ll tell you they represent nobody. They’ll tell you they don’t represent anymore. There was a period where they represented at least a factor in Israeli life. But it’s no longer true. And the fact that Benjamin Netanyahu endures, despite the succession of scandals, is a manifestation of how much that society has degenerated.
So, Gideon Levy, I think, the columnist, he made a comment the other day which I found very interesting. He said, the Israelis, they see a fellow in a wheelchair—he lost both his legs—in Gaza. He’s holding a flag. They shoot him right between the eyes, a sharpshooter. Everybody sees it on video. He says, no Israelis cared. Then another kid is killed. In this case, the second case, a kid is killed. A third is killed. Nobody cares. One thing they care about: The young girl, Ahed Tamimi, smacked an Israeli soldier. That causes hysteria. How dare a Palestinian smack an Israeli soldier? But the daily atrocities— Source.
Of course, by highlighting these statements, all of this, well, in the minds of racists, it’s antisemitism.
How much bearing witness do we go through?
Storytelling 101 — Only A Chosen Few Tell Our Stories
You think there are any dramatizations of that situation? Sure, come on, what about the Family known as, the Glosser Family:
Let me tell you a story about Stephen Miller and chain migration.
It begins at the turn of the 20th century, in a dirt-floor shack in the village of Antopol, a shtetl of subsistence farmers in what is now Belarus. Beset by violent anti-Jewish pogroms and forced childhood conscription in the Czar’s army, the patriarch of the shack, Wolf-Leib Glosser, fled a village where his forebears had lived for centuries and took his chances in America.
He set foot on Ellis Island on January 7, 1903, with $8 to his name. Though fluent in Polish, Russian and Yiddish, he understood no English. An elder son, Nathan, soon followed. By street corner peddling and sweatshop toil, Wolf-Leib and Nathan sent enough money home to pay off debts and buy the immediate family’s passage to America in 1906. That group included young Sam Glosser, who with his family settled in the western Pennsylvania city of Johnstown, a booming coal and steel town that was a magnet for other hardworking immigrants. The Glosser family quickly progressed from selling goods from a horse and wagon to owning a haberdashery in Johnstown run by Nathan and Wolf-Leib to a chain of supermarkets and discount department stores run by my grandfather, Sam, and the next generation of Glossers, including my dad, Izzy. It was big enough to be listed on the AMEX stock exchange and employed thousands of people over time. In the span of some 80 years and five decades, this family emerged from poverty in a hostile country to become a prosperous, educated clan of merchants, scholars, professionals, and, most important, American citizens.
What does this classically American tale have to do with Stephen Miller? Well, Izzy Glosser is his maternal grandfather, and Stephen’s mother, Miriam, is my sister.
Will there be a totally interesting Netflix Original or Amazon Studies flick on that Stephen Miller dynamic family life, and the variations on a theme of how many Jews are racists, not just some Miller-Trump aberration. We can have Norman Lear with Archie Bunker and all of that in that family, but, what about the Miller-Glosser All About Apartheid series?
Many of us wonder how it is the stories of the “other people” get told through the eyes of the White American or European scriptwriter or producer or director or novelist? Come on. Look at the films and documentaries, and look at the credits and follow the money, the Ivy League, the East Coast chosen ones.
That quote from above is from Miller’s uncle’s short piece, and you never-ever see any mention of the border wall, the economic strangulation, the eye, knee, torso shooting. No mention of the apartheid state and the daily international laws of humanity broken by Israel, and the chosen people: It would be a perfect piece to broach that topic, since Miller and Trump love what Israel does to Palestine. But He doesn’t do it, Mr. Glosser.
— “Stephen Miller Is an Immigration Hypocrite. I Know Because I’m His Uncle. If my nephew’s ideas on immigration had been in force a century ago, our family would have been wiped out” by David S. Glosser
Here, more of that chosen people, and their amazing PR bombs, הַסְבָּרָה
(Hasbara is a form of propaganda aimed at an international audience, primarily, but not exclusively, in western countries. It is meant to influence the conversation in a way that positively portrays Israeli political moves and policies, including actions undertaken by Israel in the past. Often, Hasbara efforts includes a negative portrayal of the Arabs and especially of Palestinians.)
The Israel lobby’s latest blitz of antisemitism allegations has successfully deflected US media’s attention away from Israel’s deliberate bombing of civilian towers and extermination of entire families in Gaza, the pogroms Jewish extremists waged against Palestinians just minutes from Tel Aviv, and the ongoing police round-up of Palestinian citizens of Israel. In turn, it has cast an American Jewish community basking in almost unimaginable affluence and privilege as the true victims of the Israel-Palestine crisis, while impugning a movement agitating for the rights of a dispossessed and colonized people as bigoted criminals.
Free beer and a hot dog: Across US, incentives push to get holdouts vaccinated against COVID-19
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Some of the recipients of a Michigan marijuana dispensary’s “Pot for Shots” scheme
Oh, those were the days, uh, lifting the Black power salute in Mexico City, and, well, banned for life. May Lee Evans R.I.P.
Lee Evans, an African American sprinter who helped found the Olympic Project for Human Rights after leading protests against racism in the United States, has died in Nigeria at the age of 74. Lee Evans won two gold medals while setting world records in the 1968 Summer Olympics in Mexico City.
His victories came just days after John Carlos and Tommie Smith raised their fists in the Black Power salute as the U.S. national anthem played during an awards ceremony. Carlos and Smith were suspended from the U.S. team and would later be banned for life from the Olympics for their protest in support of Black lives. Just two days later, Lee Evans wore a black beret and raised his fist in a similar protest, after winning a gold medal in the 400-meter dash.
Harry Edwards, who co-founded the Olympic Project for Human Rights, said, “Lee Evans was one of the greatest athletes and social justice advocates in an era that produced a generation of such courageous, committed and contributing athlete-activists.” (Source)
Oh, that fucking Olympics — one continuing criminal enterprise. Maybe several thousand students and others murdered, beginning in July, 1968, with the October 2, 1968 massacre, 10 days before the Olympic games were to begin in Mexico City. Police and army thugs fired on thousands of demonstrators. Hundreds were killed, thousands were beaten and jailed, and the government did its best to sweep the incident under the rug. No boycott there, uh?
Memory of Tlatelolco
by Rosario Castellanos
And who saw that brief, vivid flash of light?
Who is the one who kills?
Who are the ones who breathe their last; who die?
Who are the ones fleeing without their shoes?
Who are the ones belonging to the deep well of jails?
Who are the ones rotting in hospital?
Who are the ones struck dumb, forever, with horror?
Who? Who are the ones? Nobody. The next morning, nobody.
They found the square was swept clean. The front pages of the newspapers were full of the state of the weather. And on the television, on the radio, in the cinema, there was no change of programming, no special announcement. Not any meaningful silence in the midst of the banquet, because the banquet went on.
Don’t look for what isn’t there: traces, bodies, it’s all been given as an offering to a goddess, the Great Devourer of Excrement…
There are no official records.
Yet the fact is I can touch a wound.
In my memory it hurts, therefore it’s true.
I remember. We remember.
That’s our way of helping the very brave on so many a stained mind…
Let’s all remember until justice becomes clear among us.
Now those Tokyo Olympics, to be cancelled or not to be cancelled, because of coronavirus SARS-CoV2? Contractual law, right, and the message is Covid-19, super spreader event, those 100 yard dashes?
JULES BOYKOFF: Each time an Olympic host city gets ready to start the games, they need to sign a host city contract with the International Olympic Committee. Those contracts are extremely lopsided in favor of the International Olympic Committee, and it gives them — and only them — the power to cancel the Olympics in a case like this. So, when the prime minister of Japan states in public, under pressure from people in Japan and around the world to cancel the Olympics — when the prime minister states in public that he actually doesn’t have the power to cancel the Olympics, he’s absolutely correct.
And that’s part of a larger state of exception that comes into the Olympic city when the Olympics arrive on your doorstep. There are all sorts of special laws that are put into place, all sorts of special rules that are put into place. New technologies are secured for the Olympics. So, for example, in Tokyo, you see facial recognition systems being put in place at all Olympic venues, even though they’re known for having a racial bias. Security forces use the Olympics to get all the special weapons and funding they’d normally never be able to get during normal political times.
And so, that’s exactly what we’re seeing transpire here. The all-powerful IOC, that is really a privileged sliver of the global 1%, is exerting itself and forcing the games ahead against the will of the population. More than 80% of the people in Japan oppose hosting the Olympics this summer, and yet the IOC insists on pressing ahead.
— Boykoff, scholar and former Olympic athlete who played for the U.S. Olympic soccer team from 1989 to 1991. He has published several pieces, his latest this morning in The Washington Post, “Tokyo is learning that the only force stronger than a pandemic is the Olympics.” His guest essay in The New York Times is headlined “A Sports Event Shouldn’t Be a Superspreader. Cancel the Olympics.” He’s written four books about the Olympics, his latest headlined NOlympians: Inside the Fight Against Capitalist Mega-Sports in Los Angeles, Tokyo and Beyond.
Donuts for that jab, and what about the booster, uh? Nah, do not expect free trips on a shit-hole cruise line. Expect a letter from Uncle Sam (Big Pharma induced) that states: “Thanks for participating in the Covid-19 vaccination last year, and we now have an easy-booster program. Kiosks, with your vaccine passport in hand on that app, you go to one of these, put that app on the scanner, along with your cornea scan, and put your left or right arm (doesn’t matter) into the high tech device, and there you go, instant booster. No line, nothing, since Big Tech will be hosting these kiosks by the millions in all those zip codes and all Census tracks. Isn’t Making America Vaccinated Great Again?”
I kid you not, so No Jab, No Life. Lockdown. Permanent. Expect those wearable ankle bracelets for all unvaccinated folk. Expect those by next Xmas.
That is the shifting baseline, no? Today, on Dissident Voice (May 27) hot off the digital press:
The ease with which the German authorities implemented the new official ideology, and how fanatically it has been embraced by the majority of Germans, came as something of a shock. I had naively believed that, in light of their history, the Germans would be among the first to recognize a nascent totalitarian movement predicated on textbook Goebbelsian Big Lies (i.e., manipulated Covid “case” and “death” statistics), and would resist it en masse, or at least take a moment to question the lies their leaders were hysterically barking at them.
I couldn’t have been more wrong.
Here we are, over a year later, and waiters and shop clerks are “checking papers” to enforce compliance with the new official ideology. (And, yes, the “New Normal” is an official ideology. When you strip away the illusion of an apocalyptic plague, there isn’t any other description for it). Perfectly healthy, medical-masked people are lining up in the streets to be experimentally “vaccinated.” Lockdown-bankrupted shops and restaurants have been converted into walk-in “PCR-test stations.” The government is debating mandatory “vaccination” of children in kindergarten. Goon squads are arresting octogenarians for picnicking on the sidewalk without permission. And so on. At this point, I’m just sitting here waiting for the news that mass “disinfection camps” are being set up to solve the “Unvaccinated Question.”
Oh, C.J. Hopkins, I wonder if you are getting the putridity of Capitalism, mixed with the strong arm and stiff arm salute of the Corporate elite, the Group of 30 and those 199 Companies controlling human and animal and flora kind! Make that an a great One-Seven, 17: Check out journalist Abby Martin interview Peter Phillips, former director of Project Censored and professor of Political Sociology at Sonoma State University. His new book “Giants: The Global Power Elite” details the 17 transnational investment firms which control over $50 trillion in wealth—and how they are kept in power by their activists, facilitators and protectors.
So, donuts, ballpark trips, Super Bowl, marijuana, and alas, free cruise trips, to get the jab. Oh, wehat about all those millions who lined up for the jab who got nothing but a masked technician moving them along. Look at Portland, OR, man, of course, St. Clair laughing at any other narrative around SARS-CoV2. This Counterpuncher is, well, so so confident in his so-so wrong view of how to debate an issue. Shit!
When I arrived at the Convention Center (which Portland old-timers (ie, people who have lived here longer than five years) have long referred to as the Palais de Gaultier, because the twin glass cones outside the hulking post-modernist structure resemble the spiky bra Jean-Paul designed for Madonna during the Blonde Ambition Tour), it was clear that the vibe of the place had changed. Three weeks earlier, the cavernous building had a community atmosphere. The way stations were helmed by welcoming volunteers, the jabbing was done by retired physicians, the recovery rooms monitored by local nurses.
Now the building resembled an armed camp. Those of us about to be shot were herded into serpentine lines by burly figures in uniform and combat boots, their severe eyes scanning our faces from behind camouflaged masks. The festive spirit of April had been replaced by May’s military gloom.
The National Guard had taken over the operation and few of them looked glad to be here, as if helping to save what’s left of the Republic from a killer pandemic was beneath their calling and that they’d rather be searching the border for migrant “caravans” or making some of the last raids on peasant villages in Kandahar before the big show leaves Afghanistan.
There was something deeply unsettling about the entire scene and it flashed into my head that the Guard had taken over not for reasons of efficiency, but to instill popular fear about what a national health care system might look like if it fell into the wrong hands. The vaccination program in the US has been one of the most successful government operations in decades and one that the moneyed interests are desperate not to see replicated.
Oh, the most successful government operation in decades! Whew, C.J. Hopkins! His last posting on Counterpunch is August 2018! He starts publishing over at Off-Guardian, June 2018!
Here you go with those cruise lines, man!
Last week, the Economist asked the question in the title of its article about excessive corporate compensation – Will Shareholders Halt the Inexorable Rise of CEO Pay? Today, a clear majority of Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings shareholders in what is called a “say-on-pay” vote, gave a big “thumbs down” to the company’s plan to pay its CEO Frank Del Rio $36,400,000 million for 2020, according to a Miami Herald article published this afternoon.
Herald Reporter Taylor Dolven wrote “in a rare rebuke, 83% of shareholders did not approve the company’s executive compensation in a non-binding vote” today. The newspaper cited Luis Navas, an executive compensation adviser, describing the vote as “incredibly embarrassing.”
Yes, its should be embarrassing, but that assumes this cruise executive is capable of feeling shame. Even before the pandemic, CEO Del Rio was the poster child of a spoiled, overpaid cruise executive in an industry where companies incorporate in places like Liberia (Royal Caribbean) and register their cruise ships in places like (Panama) and the Bahamas (NCL) in order to avoid all U.S. income taxes and wage and labor laws.
That new new abnormal normal here ends with the dumb PR rag from one of the alma maters, Eastern Washington University. It’s called, Eastern. It is a deplorable PR rag, like all the others I have been associated with through three college degrees — University of Arizona, University of Texas and now EWU.
There is an interim president, some political science faculty named David May. He replaced some English faculty who was president for a few months, who is going back to teaching in that English Department.
Some of the stuff coming from May’s mouth is pure “I am your leader and I listen to you and I was ready to save the world, err, Cheney, WA, and even Spokane, from the deadly pandemic.”
The “article” is just out, titled, “Man of the Moment.” On page 28 of the piece, it is clear this May has the agenda in mind of the World Economic Forum and Davos and the Tech Wunderkinds. He doesn’t know it, though.
The article’s write states that May isn’t dwelling on all the storms swirling around him. He is focused on the best way to serve students of Eastern, even before Covid-19. They call it, “right-sizing,” par of an Academic Review Program coming to a college and community college and university near you. Double-speak, this “right-sizing.”
As in sizing out programs. This is about student demand and regional needs for graduates, as well as looking at program to program, department to department, budget shortfalls.
“We will continue to teach art, we will continue to teach music, we will continue to teach philosophy, we will continue to teach political science, but we have to rethink how those things fit into the overall education of the student.”
Case closed, folks. This short of shit came into play for me as a graduate student in 1983, and while the great days of undergraduate school, 1974-1979, at the University of Arizona may have put me into the mix as a report and assistent editor of the daily Wildcat, this is the way of budgets determined by the capitalists, the Military Industrial Complex’s demands. And we know the MIC is:
life sciences programs
criminal justice programs
et al (look up a typical four-year research institution’s departments and programs and show me the ones NOT making bank from that MIC?)
That is the shifting baseline for some of us who thought, naively, that there would still be scrappy and independent minded and against Empire faculty and students participating in those schools of higher education. The entire system is corrupted, and alas, now, as I receive instanteous (a day after applying) rejections from various agencies, nonprofits and government agencies, I get that middle man’s life is the destroyer of it all. They sign up for my name, Paul Haeder, Paul K. Haeder, PK Haeder, to see the dirt on me. I have some cousin I never met, who is an MD with my name, so he must get some odd out of the blue emails or such, but in the end, the schools I have envisioned are nothing in comparison to K12 or K20 or post doctoral.
The political science faculty interim president of a small college (oh, they will put money into new buildings, new stadium infrastructure, etc. — you know, priorities) may have had a great teaching career, and he can just cite how he took over the helm under those swirling storms, but alas, this is what those liberal class and dream hoarders ( Dream Hoarders: How the American Upper Middle Class Is Leaving Everyone Else in the Dust, Why That Is a Problem, and What to Do About It) and Professional Managerial Class (Source) have done.
At a time when corporate America is exploring and exploiting its new Supreme-Court-bestowed role in the management of American election results, an earlier transformation in the composition and political role of American business leadership should be recalled. This was the replacement of the Gilded Age capitalists and industrialists — audacious, rapacious and innovative, who created the post-Civil War American industrial economy — by the early 20th-century professional managers who took their place.
Liberals, largely comprised of the professional-managerial class that dutifully recycles and shops for organic produce and is concentrated on the two coasts, have profited from the ravages of neoliberalism. They seek to endow it with a patina of civility. But their routine and public humiliation has ominous consequences. It not only exposes the liberal class as hollow and empty, it discredits the liberal democratic values they claim to uphold. Liberals should have abandoned the Democratic Party when Bill Clinton and political hacks such as Biden transformed the Democratic Party into the Republican Party and launched a war on traditional liberal values and left-wing populism. They should have defected by the millions to support Ralph Nader and other Green Party candidates.
It’s paramount to talk about all the untested, all the never-experimented-on synergistic affects of all those “compounds/ingredients/chemicals” the chemical industry has forced upon the public and nature through “better living/eating/drinking through chemistry.”
I was just talking with a 78-year-old woman whose father’s side of the family (56) all were murdered in Germany’s death camps. She grew up in Chile, and alas, ended up Oregon. She is working on stopping the aerial spraying of 2-4-D and other weedicides onto the clear-cuts.
She remarked at how insane the world is with so much lack of common sense and connecting of the dots when it comes to our factory/industrial food systems. She held up a potato:
How did it ever become normal to use poisons on our food? Poisons that have a direct vector not just to your gut and mine. But to the developing guts and brains of fetuses?
Only two things in this world are too serious to be jested on, potatoes and matrimony. —Irish saying.
Now, they are genetically engineered. And they are part of the monoculture that triggered the Great Famine, also called the Irish Potato Famine. Then, the Irish used a single breed of potato, the Irish Lumper, which was vulnerable to fungus that the breed had no resistance to. However, the Peruvians grow many hundreds of varieties. That diversity of breed/varieties is what keeps a single fungus or other pests from decimating a food stock.
The problems with “conventional” potatoes are tied to the fact the soil is so eroded and decimated in industrial growing models that there is no natural fungi and bacteria, so ungodly amounts of chemical fertilizers have to be applied each season, more and more each season, that is. Again, in the USA, only several varieties of potatoes are grown.
But it’s the pesticides, man! Leave my spuds alone.
The the USDA’s Pesticide Data Program determined 35 different pesticides have been found on “conventionally-grown” (nonorganic) potatoes.
As is true of many of the plastic compounds, these pesticides have some lethal side effects: – 6 are known or probably carcinogens – 12 are suspected hormone disruptors – 7 are neurotoxins – 6 are developmental or reproductive toxins
One herbicide, chlorpropham, is used to stop the growth of weeds and to inhibit potatoes sprouting; it’s found on up to 80 percent of all “conventionally-grown” potatoes.
According to the Extension Toxicology Network, this poison is toxic to honey bees. In labs, tests bare out the effects of chronic exposure to the herbicide: animals show “retarded growth, increased liver, kidney and spleen weights, congestion of the spleen, and death.”
It’s systems thinking that is lacking in the full portrait of industrial farming and how agribusiness thinks and works, yet holistic (systems thinking) approaches are utilized and integrated into true objective research (mostly by environmental safety and advocating groups) on the benefits, harms, and unintended consequences of this chemicalized world — sometimes we can only work on one chemical at a time, which takes many human lifetimes to drill down into to determine the cradle to cradle impacts of those compounds, the chemicals. The alternative to this entire agribusiness industrial model is actually to go back to the start of good farming. Agroecology is the way to go, according to many groups I have been a part of and interviewed as a journalist. This is the only way to make it through the heating planet, and all the issues tied to soil degradation and productivity falling, droughts, and, well, ocean inundation and changed water cycles throughout the globe. Agroecology, a harmonious system of saving the planet and feeding the people with no genetically engineered “foods” and vegetables and fruits sprayed with toxins. This continues what Benyus states above and ramified here:
Biomimicry offers an empathetic, interconnected understanding of how life works and ultimately where we fit in. It is a practice that learns from and mimics the strategies used by species alive today. The goal is to create products, processes, and policies — new ways of living — that solve our greatest design challenges sustainably and in solidarity with all life on earth. We can use biomimicry to not only learn from nature’s wisdom, but also heal ourselves — and this planet — in the process. — Benyus.
All those poisons, then, are integrated into the spud, since, as a root vegetable, potatoes absorb all of the pesticides, herbicides, and insecticides sprayed above the ground which eventually spread into the soil.
I’ve talked with potato growers who say point-blank they would never eat the potatoes they sell. They have separate plots where they grow potatoes for themselves without all the chemicals.
The potato is a great example of an industrial system gone crazy. Terms like Frankenfoods, fishy tomatoes and assassin seeds are not benign. Imagine, the now defunct DNA Plant Technology of Oakland, California developed the gene therapy (sic) of inserting a fish gene into a tomato. It was the genes that helps a flounder survive in frigid waters. This “anti-freeze” fish gene was spliced into tomato cells to enhance the plant’s resistance to cold.
Monsanto developed the gene technology to create suicide seeds, of all wonderfully bad things: They call it Genetic use restriction technology (GURT), but it’s more commonly referred to as terminator technology or suicide seeds. This keeps farmers from saving seeds from Monsanto crop, as the genetic alterations either activate or deactivate) some genes only in response to certain stimuli. That second generation of seeds is infertile.
That Roundup (Monsanto) is what is sprayed all over our Oregon forests when clear cuts raze stands of trees – to keep opportunistic and invasive brush and other tree species, from overtaking the sawed over hills and valleys.
The history and politics are not lost on people like my Chilean friend — Dow Chemical and Monsanto were the two largest producers of Agent Orange, a fifty-fifty mix of the n-butyl esters 2,4-dichlorophenoxyacetic acid (2,4-D) and 2,4,5-trichlorophenoxyacetic acid (2,4,5-T).
I’ve worked with military veterans exposed to Agent Orange, and worked with offspring of American veterans who were exposed.
Birth Defects Associated with Female Vietnam Veterans
Dr. James Clary was with the Air Force in Vietnam, which ran the program. He was ordered to dump the computer and erase all memory. Instead, he printed out a stack of documents two feet high – missions, sorties, coordinates, dates, gallons dropped throughout all of Southeast Asia and Laos.
“We had the information coming from Dow that there were real problems for people associated with this chemical. It was all locked up for 35 years.”
Playing down all the negative effects of this chemical was part of the Dow plan. Dioxin was the byproduct in the brew. Dow told the US government they were having difficulty producing the volume of the chemical the US wanted. The government told them to not worry about safety standards and quality control, and that a fast production process which produced more of the dioxin would not matter, since the crops and forest were being sprayed, and if people got in contact with it, the idea coming from both industrialists at Dow and those in government and the military was, “Hey, so what, this is a war . . . these are the effing Vietnamese.”
The idea for this environmental series is that walk along the wrack line, for sure, which has for me the past two years conjured up all sorts of topics that are worthy of many books. It is a simple walk I conduct on a calm (mostly) sandy and driftwood-strewn beach in Central Oregon. But that solitude allows some of my own decades studying environmental harms to both animals and plants to filter through my thoughts. For this short essay, it is that potato, which is still not the most sprayed crop in the industrial system.
There are many groups looking into industrial vegetables and fruits, but they all have their own very similar Dirty Dozen – These foods should be purchased organic if possible.
Apples – at least 99 % have residue
Strawberries – contained 13 different pesticides each
Grapes — contained 15 different pesticides
Celery — 13 different pesticides per sample
Sweet Bell Peppers
Imported Nectarines – every sample tested positive for pesticides
Cherry Tomatoes – contained 13 different pesticides each
Imported Snap Peas – contained 13 different pesticides each
Potatoes – had more pesticides by weight than any other food
We go from one chemical exposure – PFAS which is more generally known as flame retardant, and then we go to one or two common chemicals used in our food system – Roundup (glyphosate) and Atrazine – and we are not even scratching the tip of the iceberg in terms of global pesticide use, which is in the billions of pounds yearly, accounting for hundreds and thousands of different types of Herbicides/PGR Insecticides; Fungicides; Fumigants.
Remember, there are literally dozens of active ingredients in one type of herbicide. There are hundreds and sometimes thousands of chemicals in a scoop or pint of poison used in industrial ag. There are no studies on how all those interact with each other as they bioaccumulate and end up as part of the war against the human biome.
For one of the most common herbicides, atrazine (ATR), and its persistence in the environment has resulted in documented human exposure.
Alterations in hypothalamic catecholamines have been suggested as the mechanistic basis of the toxicity of ATR to hormonal systems in females and the reproductive tract in males. Because multiple catecholamine systems are present in the brain, however, ATR could have far broader effects than are currently understood. Catecholaminergic systems such as the two major long-length dopaminergic tracts of the central nervous system play key roles in mediating a wide array of critical behavioral functions. In this study we examined the hypothesis that ATR would adversely affect these brain dopaminergic systems. Male rats chronically exposed to 5 or 10 mg/kg ATR in the diet for 6 months exhibited persistent hyperactivity and altered behavioral responsivity to amphetamine. Source.
There are many warriors in this battle to stop the war against nature, the war against Homo Sapiens. UK’s Dr. Rosemary Mason, a retired physician and health and environmental campaigner, is one of hundreds of gutsy go-to thinkers who is pulling away the blinders and cutting through the PR spin. In addition, the Institute for Responsible Technology claims that cancers caused by Roundup include non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, bone cancer, colon cancer, kidney cancer, liver cancer, melanoma, pancreatic cancer and thyroid cancer.
… cascading scientific evidence linking glyphosate to a constellation of other injuries that have become prevalent since its introduction, including obesity, depression, Alzheimer’s, ADHD, autism, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s, kidney disease, and inflammatory bowel disease, brain, breast and prostate cancer, miscarriage, birth defects and declining sperm counts. Strong science suggests glyphosate is the culprit in the exploding epidemics of celiac disease, colitis, gluten sensitivities, diabetes and non-alcoholic liver cancer which, for the first time, is attacking children as young as 10.
All these injuries and diseases are covered here, at Hormones Matter.
As a capstone to this piece, it is both a testament to Rachel Carson’s work, Silent Spring, as she is considered the mother of the environmental movement. She was vilified, and her book on poisons, Silent Spring, is poetic, clear, and was published in 1962, after four years of work writing it ( her lifetime of thinking and honoring nature, that is). She was one of thousands studying at the time the world’s most dangerous pesticide, DDT.
Appearing on a CBS documentary about Silent Spring shortly before her death from breast cancer in 1964, she remarked, “Man’s attitude toward nature is today critically important simply because we have now acquired a fateful power to alter and destroy nature. But man is a part of nature, and his war against nature is inevitably a war against himself? [We are] challenged as mankind has never been challenged before to prove our maturity and our mastery, not of nature, but of ourselves.”
Unlike most pesticides at the time, whose effectiveness was supposedly limited to destroying one or two types of insects (though we now know that is basically not true), DDT was capable of killing hundreds of different kinds at once.
Nature writer Edwin Way Teale, warned, “A spray as indiscriminate as DDT can upset the economy of nature as much as a revolution upsets social economy. Ninety percent of all insects are good, and if they are killed, things go out of kilter right away.”
More than 75 years after Way Teale’s warnings, we are seeing the devastating effects again of DDT. On the ocean floor, near Catalina Island. Leaving Hormones Matter readers with yet another huge gash in their hearts concerning the ill effects of this industrialized agriculture has on future generations, of both Homo Sapiens and all the other species, is possibly yet another trigger warning when reading my articles. However, this is the fabric of my own cloth looking at this all as a systems thinker.
High concentrations of DDT (dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane, an insecticide that was widely used for pest control during the 1940s and 1950s) were previously detected in ocean sediments between the Los Angeles coast and Catalina Island, in 2011 and 2013. At the time, scientists who searched the seafloor in the area identified 60 barrels (possibly containing DDT or other waste) and found DDT contamination in sediments, but the full extent of the area’s contamination was unknown.
Now, a research expedition presents a clearer picture of the deep-sea dump site. Their findings reveal a stretch of ocean bottom studded with at least 27,000 industrial waste barrels — and possibly as many as 100,000, researchers with Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California said in a statement. Live Science.
The more clearly we can focus our attention on the wonders and realities of the universe about us, the less taste we shall have for destruction.
— Rachel Carson, Silent Spring (1962)
Definition: An ecological bridge between land and sea … the wrack line.
I’ve been looking at the unimagined biological and genetic effects on planet earth caused by “better living through chemistry” capitalist mentality. While Rachel Carson’s seminal work, Silent Spring, catalogued just one aspect of the plethora of physiological effects on animal life, in 2021 we can confidently state there is so much evidence of all the pollutants, toxins, spewing gasses, pesticides, hormone disruptors, radioactive isotopes, forever chemicals, nanoparticles, fungicides, heavy metals and waste pits conspiring to completely disrupt all manner of life.
In that process of contemplating this yesterday, while railing against local older folk who will for Year Two have a Zoom Earth Day (April 22) instead of celebrating this day utilizing our amazing atmosphere and beachside waysides to bring people together, I walked the wrack line.
This is that “line” of organic material that ends up on beaches when tides go back out. It is a biologically important micro-ecosystem of seaweeds, crustaceans, shells, decaying birds and fish and mammals. This wrack line is studied by marine biologists. It provides an amazing supply of food and building components for living crustaceans.
Homo Sapiens pick through the wrack line for treasures like polished agates, whole shells, burled drift wood, and seeds from afar. These wrack lines, unfortunately, are now clogged with that deadline by-product of “better living with chemistry,” plastics. There’s other rubbish, for sure, from the by-products and by-processes of consumerism and industrialism.
There are hidden ones, like radioactive isotopes and impossible to pronounce elements added to the periodic table of elements since I was a high school student in 1973.
The wrack line is also symbolic, allegorical, since if we look deeply at all those industrial processes and all the other processes tied to a Military-Medical-Pharma-Fossil Fuel-Mining-Big Ag-AI-Surveillance-Retail-Media Complex, the fallout of negative chemical influences on humankinds and all flora and fauna are worth a billion lifetimes worth of investigations. This system is run on untold new polymers, additives, lubricants, surfactants, stabilizers, metals, organic compounds, forever chemicals, volatile organic compounds, PFAs, PCBs, resins, and other dandies as part of the sloughing off, combusting, off-gassing, leaching, reactive synergistic war on plant life, animal life, genetic life.
This is far from hyperbole, though in essay form the reader might pause and doubt some of my veracity, but the fact is that any process in this system of consumerism and capitalism ruling the land by the rich who are not held to account with highly regulated precautionary principles and do no harm ethos WILL spoil life in some form or fashion.
For an on-line newsletter like Hormones Matter (where I’ve written a few pieces a few years ago) there are synergies being studied tied to hormones, entwined to biological processes at the cellular and genetic levels within the humanscape. These trillions of cells, these highly complex and fragile human systems of biology are studied with a fair mind, kind heart and open dialogue to help people mitigate, survive or reverse many of the ailments covered, all somehow tied to epigenetics and physiological deregulation and autoimmune discombobulating, to put it brutally simplistic.
The wrack line for those readers/chronic illness sufferers tapping into sources like Hormones Matter is composed of all those people struggling with their ailments and diseases, under a system of Western Patriarch and Machismo Arrogant Medicine. The wrack line in a larger sense is that proverbial line in the sand for communities far and wide attempting to provide safe water, safe food, safe products, safe air, safe housing in order to congregate as a community of caring, supporting and holistic healing.
The concept of holism, community-engagement and community-directed support for health, safety and prosperity is truly built into Homo sapiens DNA, yet under capitalism and rampant consumerism and this highly dog-eat-dog wrecked Darwinism, it has been perverted, subverted, derailed and forcefully forgotten. Memory holed. Orwellian in it’s scope — Organic Food is Poison, Disease is Health, Community is Dangerous.
Imagine the starvation in places like Yemen, and in dozens of other countries because of the strategic playbook moves of predatory, disruptive, and destabilizing capitalism. Starvation because of failed governments after wars and proxy wars. Failed crops because of soil degradation, negative weather patterns, and criminal ill distribution of wealth.
The number of countries that are forced to use the so-called green technologies Rachel Carson alluded to in her 1962 book is more than 150. GMOs, high fertilizer and pesticide inputs. Massive factory farming, concentrated feeding operations. Round-up Ready crops and sprays are just the tip of the iceberg. The economies of scale have created lakes of blood, waste, urine. The amount of pig waste that gets untreated is equal to four humans per pig.
And this stuff is collected near waterways, rivers, streams, and enters the water table and into croplands. These ponds are emptied with gizmos that spray the liquid poisons into the air, onto vast miles of cropland. Atomized death.
So even before the products get to the table, wrapped in plastic, sped along vast fossil fuel spewing supply lines, and before the hormone disrupting, and antibiotic-laced flesh gets cooked in millions of ovens, the seed of disease has already been planted throughout the land. These places of sacrifice, so-called sacrifice zones in a form of disaster capitalism, are also termed forms of environmental racism.
This system of genetically engineered transgenic foodstuffs, and this system of chemicals beyond chemicals sprays on crops, well, that is the modern food system.
The results are firmly planted in research paper, journal article, white paper, and on-the-ground ground truthing. I’ve seen in my 38 years teaching, each year, more and more nervous ticks, attention deficits, learning deficits, food allergies, mental acuity challenge, physical ailments, chronic illnesses in my students, pre-teen all the way up to adults.
Asthma, diabetes, hypertension, obesity, brain fog, emotional discombobulating regular bouts, and more. I’ve even had the “luck” to teach active military at an academy and on several military bases/posts. The amount of destroyed immune systems, as well as the toll on hearing, sight, thinking and the body, well, it’s no wonder so many utilize the socialized system of health called the Veterans Administration. I have had people show me reports of the negative effects of the forced vaccinations and medical treatments soldiers in or out of war time have been burdened with. Lots of reports of service connected disabilities, and we are not just talking tinnitus or a back injury. We are talking more than just Agent Orange. We have a suite of illnesses and diseases tied to service at or around Camp Lejuene. There is a documentary titled, Semper Fi, which I have reviewed and screened to homeless veterans at a 24 hour facility I worked in as a social worker run by that poverty pimping place of ill repute, Salvation (starvation) Army. That camp/base was a dumping ground for chemicals used to propel internal combustion machines, and to clean those machines – dumped into the water.
The result of that human forced wrack line – miscarriages, Parkinson’s, tumors, cancers, and any number of diseases. This list below for Camp Lejeune conditions is very similar to other workplace “injuries”:
Aplastic anemia and other myelodysplastic syndromes.
It’s a small and incomplete list, and of course, the tally doesn’t include all the learning disabilities, all the attention deficits, all the allergies, all the other cancers that offspring might develop over time.
I haven’t touched upon all the genetic mutations in animals, frogs with extra legs “growing” out of their heads, or butterflies dying by the billions, or bird eggs thinning and thinning.
This is the way of our system – wrack lines from the chemical companies are equally on my mind when I walk these beaches and contemplate the billions of gallons of contaminated water from Fukushima about to be released intentionally.
The food of capitalism is industrialized, ramped up to unimaginable scales that require energy inputs, fossil fuel inputs, and massive clear-cutting and bulldozing of natural ecosystems. From industrialize coffee plantations in Vietnam, to miles of monocrop organic (sic) strawberries in California, to confined animal feeding operation to oil slicked sea.
A society that warns pregnant women to not drink the well water in those eight states that produce most of the soy, corn, chicken, beef, pig, and eggs for this country, well, if the wrack line is not absolutely warped and demonstrably upside down, then I find it difficult to give a more simple, pure example of this sickness.
Don’t drink the water or you may have a miscarriage, or you might give birth to a diseased baby? If that isn’t truth in advertisement, then I don’t know what is.
Imagine the exponentially worse conditions in Mexico, in other countries, without as robust a phalanx of groups fighting against and exposing this crime against humanity.
But the irony is there are more water defenders, crop defenders, community defenders in many Latin American countries, than in this country, per capita. There is a reason we have organizations that expose the murders of environmentalists throughout the world for attempting to hold accountable and stop so many US and transnational/global corporations in the business of creating their own wrack lines – oil, mining, cattle, swine, commodity crops, corn, sugar, and a suite of other capitalistic systems of oppressive business models and pollution creators..
Just the short elevator speech on Atrazine, the most widely used pesticide in our crop systems in the USA. Imagine, this is acceptable risk, allowable negative effects of this poison: “Large numbers of chemicals that are included in pesticides cause toxicity and as a result loss of neurons occurs through necrosis or by apoptosis. Such neuronal loss is irretrievable, and may result in a global encephalopathy. This is known as neuropathies.” Just go to the research site, Beyond Pesticides.
Here, some facts about Monsanto’s Roundup:
Although glyphosate should be associated with a low toxicity recent studies related to the potential toxicity of this herbicide have pointed out more evidence of the health risks .In this sense, in 2015, the herbicide glyphosate was classified as probably carcinogenic to humans. A growing body of literature points to possible, adverse environmental, ecological, and human health consequences following exposure to glyphosate and/or AMPA (its primary metabolite aminomethyl-phosphonic acid), both alone and in combination with ingestion of genetically engineered proteins.
Environmental studies encompass possible glyphosate impacts on soil microbial communities and earthworms, monarch butterflies, crustaceans, and honeybees. Studies assessing possible risks to vertebrates and humans include evidence of rising residue levels in soybeans, cancer risk, and risk of a variety of other potential adverse impacts on development, the liver or kidney, or metabolic processes.
— Impact of Glyphosate on Human Health: Risks and “Needs” of its Use by Maria Drumond Chequer Farah and André Leiliane Coelho.
The fact is just Genetically Modified soybeans grown in the U.S.A., Canada, Brazil, Argentina and Paraguay — accounting for 86.6% of the 11.6 billion bushels of soybeans produced globally in 2014, and nearly all global trade in soybeans and soybean-based animal feeds — have been a plague on ecosystems — terrestrial, avian, aquatic we call Mother Nature — as well as a plague on humans, children, adults and the unborn.
Indeed, more and more independent researchers are looking at Roundup as a source of dozens of ailments, from gut diseases to attention disorders. Imagine the “null” use of the precautionary principle just with this one weed killer! Multiple the number of other poisons and toxins entering the food-stream by hundreds.
Refer to the first part of this series related to the spraying of chemicals closely formulated from the precursor, Agent Orange (a mixture of equal parts of two herbicides, 2,4,5-T and 2,4-D with some dioxins thrown in) — including Roundup and 2,4-dimethylheptane.
Plastic in Your Poop
The work of artist Chris Jordan on plastics and just on the consumer waste in our capitalist consumer society is amazing. His documentary, Albatross, stays with me as I walk the wrack lines on the Central Oregon Coast. I’ve walked wrack lines all over the world, and been in places where plastic bags and single-use plastic containers and bottles have destroyed ecosystems, on beaches, in harbors and along river ways. Here, on the coast, we get all manner of bits and pieces and larger trash, mostly plastics, on those wrack lines. Microplastics, well, the schools here in this county where I substituted I had the opportunity to talk about plastic bag bans, the effects of plastics on marine life, and the inevitable class giggle topic of plastic in our poop. The reality is that every person on planet earth has microplastics in their feces. We talked about plastics in everything they eat, the packaging, the clothing, in bottled water, and the soil. I showed parts of Albatross. That bit of relevant education, from a well-traveled substitute, got me banned from the school system for showing these documentaries, “for upsetting the students (customers).” For me this is yet another symbolic wrack line in my life, one of the washed up and failed education system that I might allude to in part three of this series.
As a diver, as an environmentalist, as a deep green sustainability proponent, and as a journalist and teacher and someone with a load of urban and regional planning under my belts, the reality for me is we have been at war with nature, with ourselves. Plastic is yet another symbolic manufactured element that is emblematic of our capitalism gone wild. Plastics are the thing of fossil fuels, and heavy natural gas consumption. Those fancy polymers are more than just a physical eyesore in the form of Pepsi bottles and single serving ketchup packets. This stuff is entering the blood-brain barrier, and is causing untold havoc on the human biological ecosystem. Delayed or premature puberty. Diabetes. Gut ailments. The reality is we do not know all the possible negative health outcomes of microplastics alone, as opposed to microplastics mixing with all those nanoparticles and the other chemicals coming into play in the human physiology.
Last year, I viewed on line a Remote Operated Vehicle filming the deepest part of the globe, the Mariana Trench, with ghostly images of single use plastic shopping bags floating by. It wasn’t a surprise, since I have been a scuba diver for more than 45 years. That revelation was, however, yet another cut in the 10,000 cuts of spiritual and intellectual death people like me have to steel himself from.
So, things may go better with Killer Coke, in the minds of marketers and consumers, but the reality is that if we take one thing out of the complicated web of processes and products, separate one intended or unintended consequence of the revolutions we label industrial and post industrial (Fourth Industrial Revolution is a digital one, so research that through writers like Cory Morningstar, Whitney Webb and Alison McDowell), we see that Minute Maid/Coca-Cola’s heavy use of sugar and HFCS, and their anti-labor union work in tropical countries where their oranges and other citrus crops are under armed guard, behind concertina wires and CCTV security system bring with them huge intended and unintended consequences: negative impacts to ecosystems – nature, culture, economy, communities, human health.
Again, John Muir a hundred years ago, stated it clearly —
When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the Universe.
— My First Summer in the Sierra, 1911, page 110.
Now, let’s reverse this adage by stating it this way – When you put in anything by itself from industrialized processes, we find it hitches onto one thing or many things in the Universe of the biological universe.”
So, those deadly Bic lighters and all those bits and pieces of plastics washing up on shore into wrack lines, or clogging rivers and wetlands and deltas, well, we can see the effects on a meta and micro scale.
Akin to global biogeochemical cycles, plastics now spiral around the globe with distinct atmospheric, oceanic, cryospheric, and terrestrial residence times. Though advancements have been made in the manufacture of biodegradable polymers, our data suggest that extant nonbiodegradable polymers will continue to cycle through the earth’s systems. Due to limited observations and understanding of the source processes, there remain large uncertainties in the transport, deposition, and source attribution of microplastics. Thus, we prioritize future research directions for understanding the plastic cycle.
So, microplastics in poop just is the funny side of things for elementary and junior high school students. The reality is microplastics are found in the liver, lungs, spleens and other organs of humans. BPA, also known as bisphenol A, is a chemical in the production of plastics. It’s a reproductive, developmental and systemic toxicant in animal studies.
It would be naïve to believe there is plastic everywhere but just not in us, said Rolf Halden at Arizona State University. We are now providing a research platform that will allow us and others to look for what is invisible – these particles too small for the naked eye to see. The risk [to health] really resides in the small particles.
This bioaccumulation in tissues, that is, in the animals we eat, like tuna or salmon, is also part of the bioaccumulation of plastic particles in the food we eat, air we breathe, water we drink. With the Covid-19 hysteria, plastic masks, plastic everything, is now in the waste stream. As one Wall Street guru stated, “Plastics, that’s what you should invest in . . . the goofy plastic shopping bag bans is making MORE money for the plastics industry . . . more heavy plastic bags are being purchased to make up the difference.”
Disaster capitalism, and shock doctrine, which writer Naomi Klein has written about extensively, is tied to that old saw that the GDP goes up when Walmart of Amazon delivers more things to places and communities under some sort of disaster. When hurricanes and tornados hit, companies far and wide make money. Wars in the Middle East, well, the list of corporations that make money on the entire effort of war and warring, it’s huge. The disease maintenance of USA’s private for profit medical systems, whether it’s a for-profit United Health Care, or for-profit nonprofit religious hospital, makes people money. Lots of it. Poverty and disease and war are profitable circumstances for a large swath of American businesses.
The public pays for the diseases and illnesses and loss of time with family, lost wages, lost communities. We pay for the birth defects in our newborns, and we pay for the multiple sclerosis and Parkinson’s in our older people. The externalities of capitalism are the various issues Hormones Matter covers when looking at diseases. The convenience of plastic bottles and pipes in our homes is the cancers of the future. Those plastics in the belly of whales, birds and albacore are the bioaccumulated toxins in our daily meals. We don’t need to study the great Pacific plastic gyre to understand how plastics break down, unseen, or subsurface. We will at some point have more plastic particles in the oceans than all the organic biomass. These are not the fictions of Ursula La Guinn or Margaret Atwood.
Weathering and Weather Proofing
This is descriptive of how to keep that house from getting peeling paint, curling roof tiles, mossed over eaves, and worn down carpets and floors. It sounds benign, too, when we look at the studies around weathering for African-Americans. For youth, we utilize ACEs — Adverse Childhood Experiences for outcomes here in Oregon as social services practitioners.
10 ACEs, as identified by the CDC-Kaiser study: Abuse. Physical. Emotional. Sexual. Neglect. Physical. Emotional. Household Dysfunction. Mental Illness.
These are what a child’s circumstances could be no fault of their own. Poverty, parent(s) with substance abuse issues, with mental health issues, with spousal abuse in the home. Of course, the more direct of these 10 on the developing child will create probable outcomes, possible lifetime issues. Pulling themselves up by their own bootstraps is an inane concept for youth presented with one or many of these areas of ACEs. Yes, poverty hurts, but if the family has sets of resilient measures and safety nets, then the negative future effects on the child with that one ACE could be actually negligible or even self-empowering.
But now that other overarching set of circumstances tied to the idea of weathering:
Repeated exposure to socioeconomic adversity, political marginalization, racism, and perpetual discrimination can harm health. This weathering has created a slew of medical issues for African Americans, especially, but other minorities like Latinx. However, the fabric of a racist society with all the heavy hand of Jim Crow and The New Jim Crow is q quilt of many death by a thousand cuts for Blacks. Quality of life diminished, but also life expectancy cut too.
In her later work, Dr. Arline Geronimus and other scientists who embraced the weathering hypothesis extended it to apply to Black adults in general, not just Black women.
For instance, a 2006 paper by Dr. Geronimus and colleagues set out to test the hypothesis that Black adults “experience early health deterioration as a consequence of the cumulative impact of repeated experience with social or economic adversity and political marginalization.”
In the NPR interview, Dr. Geronimus explained the notion of weathering using a metaphor that is in equal measure disheartening, troubling, and alarmingly true.
Referring to the activist Erica Garner, who died of complications from a heart attack at the age of 27, Dr. Geronimus said that the feelings of stress leading to such an early death are like playing a game of Jenga.
Paraphrasing the activist’s sister, she said: “They pull out one piece at a time, at a time, and another piece and another piece, until you sort of collapse. […] I thought that Jenga metaphor was very apt because you start losing pieces of your health and well-being, but you still try to go on as long as you can.”
— Medical News Today
Another feature and term is the allostatic load — the repeated exposure of societal and economic stress creates a physiological response, and weathering. These are biomarkers such as cortisol levels, sympathetic nerve activity, blood pressure reactivity, cytokine production, waist-to-hip ratio, and glycated hemoglobin levels.
I’ve seen this up close and personal first-hand when I started teaching in El Paso, at community colleges and universities. I saw this in the faces and body blows and prevalence of diabetes and heart disease and asthma in the parents of my students. Many of the parents were from poverty and from racist communities in Texas. These parents were categorized as non-white Hispanics. Many were farm laborers, migrant workers. Many were cooks and maids and construction laborers.
This relationship I had with my students and their families and my friends, as well, was parlayed into more observations in Guatemala, Mexico, El Salvador and Belize. The more pressures on people, on indigenous poor people, the more rapid the decline. In most cases. For Black Americans, this is a triple whammy since there are a few examples of Blacks overcoming the poverty and the heavy toll of hard work and constant Diaspora. But just because there is an Orpah or Vice President Kamala Harris, doesn’t mean anything to the Black or Latinx in constant struggle to work their bodies hard, sometimes three jobs a person, to get out of institutionalized and systemic poverty.
My friends in the Army and Air Force, African American friends, still paying the toll of a life before military service and even racism while in the armed services. This weathering is both descriptive of a general biological and mental toll on people always on the move, always going from paycheck to paycheck, always one step ahead of the repo man or forced eviction from the county sheriff.
So many of my Black colleagues in social services have told me that “this office, this job, this nonprofit, well, it’s like the old South — this is not my house.” The toll on my colleagues with the overt and covert racism was huge. Just going out into a rural area of Oregon to serve foster children clients for a Black woman was more than just nerve-racking. Seeing confederate flags in yards populated with snarling pit bulls with 2nd amendment stickers on pick-up trucks with bumper stickers stating, “This vehicle is protected by Smith and Wesson,” caused great emotional harm. I was asked many times to accompany my fellow social workers on these calls.
This higher level of sickness and weathering and death at an earlier age is not just a matter of economic circumstances. No matter how hard people in the USA want to hem and haw, “racial disparities in poverty suggested to the researchers that living in a ‘race-conscious society’ and the efforts required to cope is what causes weathering.
This leads to other factors tied to weathering in a more geographically determined way — environmental racism. The father of environmental justice is in fact Dr. Robert Bullard, an African American professor of urban planning at Texas Southern University.
His website states it succinctly what this environmental injustice/racism is:
America is segregated and so is pollution. Race and class still matter and map closely with pollution, unequal protection, and vulnerability. Today, zip code is still the most potent predictor of an individual’s health and well-being. Individuals who physically live on the ‘wrong side of the tracks’ are subjected to elevated environmental health threats and more than their fair share of preventable diseases. Still, too many people and communities have the ‘wrong complexion for protection.’ Reducing environmental, health, economic and racial disparities is a major priority of the Environmental Justice Movement.
Weathering then takes on another component — polluting industries and agricultural practices end up on the wrong side of the tracks. Exposure to massive amounts of chemicals goes right into the lap of migrant farmers and field hands. Those plastics refineries are in the low rent district of a town or city. The burden of air contamination and dirty water (think lead and Flint, Michigan) is placed more heavily on people of color.
Yet as we now know, chemicals and carcinogens are an equal opportunity killer when it comes to our food system as it is sold in grocery stores. More than 80 percent of the wheat products — bread, pasta, crackers, cereal — have Roundup in them from field spraying close to wheat harvest. We all are in one giant rotating mass experiment. The weathering of the human psyche kills us earlier, but the weathering creates by poor nutrition, poor choices, polluted choices, that is now flowing out from the Black community into many more communities.
You Are What You Eat, Drink, Read, See, Say, Dream, Do, Hope for, Plan, Listen to, Care About
This is a thread to my teaching and my own life — you are what you do, or what you do not do. Replace the subheading above with the negative, and that also explains a person’s heart, hearth, health and hopes.
I used to have my college students go over the implications and deep multiplicity of concepts and research topics tied to photographer Peter Menzel’s and writer Faith D’Aluisio’s travels around the world and their documenting the foundational human behavior of what we eat. Their project, “Hungry Planet,” depicts everything that an average family consumes in a given week—and what it costs.
Their book Hungry Planet: What the World Eats in 2005, showcases meals in 24 countries.
Germany: The Sturm Family of Hamburg. Food Expenditure for One Week: € 253.29 ($325.81 USD). Favorite foods: salads, shrimp, buttered vegetables, sweet rice with cinnamon and sugar, pasta.1
Vietnam, The Rice Farmer
Name: Nguyen Van Theo
Age: 51; Height: 5′ 4″; Weight: 110 pounds
Caloric value of food this day: 2500 calories
BREAKFAST: Rice noodles, 2.7 oz. (dry weight), boiled and eaten with fish sauce, 1.5 tbsp.
LUNCH: Pork loin cooked with bean sprouts and green onion, 3.6 oz. Pork back cooked with pickled mustard greens, 3 oz. White rice, 1.4 lb.
DINNER: Pork back seasoned with fish sauce and caramel sugar, 1.6 oz. Eggs, from his chickens, fried with green onion, 2.6 oz. Spinach and spinach water broth, 5.2 oz. White rice, 1.4 lb. Homemade ruou thuoc (strong rice wine with herbs), 1.9 fl. oz.
THROUGHOUT THE DAY: Green tea, 7.8 fl. oz. Tobacco, 0.5 oz. Boiled rainwater, 1.6 qt.
“In this food portrait, a pile of last year’s rice straw lies in the background. It is used as fuel to boil water in the family’s small kitchen. Cisterns collect rainwater for drinking and cooking.”
Those so-called food deserts, the neighborhoods where there are more 7-11’s, gun shops, liquor stores, PayDay loan outfits and fast-food joints than anything else, including a place to purchase green groceries and a place to learn how to cook them, that’s another project of weathering the body to fit the capitalist quick dirty buck schemes. Imagine food disparagement bills, so-called Cheeseburger bills, that prohibit media from attacking bad food and fast-food for negative health outcomes. Imagine that scenario, and it isn’t in a Brave New World, but it has been an un-brave old world of protecting polluters, whether it’s coal ash and smelters spewing in the air, or if it’s bad food, nutritional empty food, salty-greasy-sugary foods pushed down the throats of toddlers by school systems. Weathering also caused by subsidies for the big eight — soy, wheat, pork, dairy, corn, beef, poultry, canola — but nothing for the organic vegetable and fruit farmers. A decent sized organic apple costs as much as a cheeseburger, Coke and fries.
Yes, I worked in Vietnam, and yes, the mother’s milk in 1996 had 15 times the EPA’s allowable PCBs in it, thanks to the gift that keeps on giving — soil laden with those carcinogens and dioxins from Agent Orange. The places I went to were just getting snarled in dirty motorcycle traffic and more and more cars. The lifestyle became more supercharged, more consumer focused, and alas, beautiful trees would be cut down to accommodate larger and larger lorries and semi-trucks.
In the hinterland, where I also spent time with scientists from Hanoi and from the UK and Canada, I did engage with robust and personal conversations with Vietnamese, sometimes ethnic Vietnamese, in their homes, as they shared meager but tasty meals, sharing bongs of tobacco, and yes, the rice wines. Not to idealize the rural and agrarian and sometimes subsistence lives, I still know for a fact from my other travels into Latin America, there is a multitude of negative prices to pay — Faustian bargains galore — for adopting Western consumerism, lifestyles and diets. Obviously, a refrigerator is life-saving, for sure, and a fan, another lifesaver. But the rolled cigarette smoke in the air and lungs, as well as the black soot and persistent aromatic particles are more carcinogen and COPD gifts that come in a delayed package.
Weathering. Sort of the reverse weathering, far different than the weathering of Black men and women in the USA. But still, a good way to look at things broadly. That consumption of everything, from books to movies, from beer to beets, from burgers to briskets, all of it has a short-term and long-term effect on everything, inside the person’s body, all the way through the economic and environmental/cultural webs.
The Air We Breathe at Home
This sort of polemic can really never end, for in fact, there are literally entire human lifetimes of work which could easily be put into book form to the 10th or 100th power. The simplest things like soil and water are easily seen as what should be help sacrosanct, but inevitably, we see that the systems in place through industrial ag or industrial harvesting, anything on an industrial level, including such amazing practices as mountain top removal for coal, or fracked subsurface geology for bitumen, or cyanide slurry sprayed on rocks to get at gold.
Necessity, for capitalists, is the mother of invention. And the “necessary” thing (necessity to be gotten at is, of course, profits.
I remember my mother, who grew up in Canada, Powell River, the largest pulp mill in the world at the time placed there, producing megatons an hour of paper, newsprint, tissue. The town is on Indian territory, but I never knew it as a kid visiting there. What I remembered was the heavy weight of the air, that burn rotten egg smell, the sulfuric acid like sing at the back of the throat. Then the quaint town was hit with ash showers several times a day. I recall free car wash stations in several parts of town to keep the old Ford’s paint from really peeling.
Many townspeople were hit with lung diseases, eventually COPD and emphysema in their 30s or 40s. My mom was constantly having bronchitis in both lungs. Other youth also had the same problems. The giant company of course rattled off plausible deniability, citing poor genes, poor lungs, poor diets, you name it.
I could see it, touch it, taste it, smell it, and hear it, all those blasts of pollutants coming from the cookers and bleachers and peroxide vats. The proof was in the back of the throat and in the hacking up of green stuff, but again, jobs, a union, a company town ethos.
I had to really reach middle age to understand that British Columbian town, and the pre-white man history: These were Coast Salish people of the Tla’amin Nation. The gold fever created a spot for gold prospectors coming from Vancouver Island to make their way on the Fraser River for that boom or bust quick fortune.
This is leading up to that air we breathe, the stuff my daughter and stepdaughter breathe in their respective schools they attend. We are talking about dust collected and analyzed from a university revealing again, more invisible-to-the-eye gifts that keep on giving: Study.
Cell-based assays are an emerging method to quantify the total activation or suppression of hormone receptors by complex environmental mixtures of hormone-disrupting chemicals. Compared with traditional targeted laboratory approaches that measure each chemical in a mixture individually, cell-based assays of dust are inexpensive, rapid, and statistically simple to model. Hormonal activities in assays of dust also reflect the combined effects from co-exposures of all hormone-disrupting chemicals in the sample, including unmeasurable chemicals and unknown regrettable substitutes. The assays account for any mixture effects, such as when a chemical’s effect is triggered, enhanced, or reduced in the presence of another chemical.
Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), organophosphate esters (OPEs), and polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) are hormone-disrupting chemicals that migrate from building materials into air and dust.
We aimed to quantify the hormonal activities of 46 dust samples and identify chemicals driving the observed activities.
We evaluated associations between hormonal activities of extracted dust in five cell-based luciferase reporter assays and dust concentrations of 42 measured PFAS, OPEs, and PBDEs, transformed as either raw or potency-weighted concentrations based on Tox21 high-throughput screening data.
All dust samples were hormonally active, showing antagonistic activity toward peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor (PPARγ2) (100%; 46 of 46 samples), thyroid hormone receptor (TRβ) (89%; 41 samples), and androgen receptor (AR) (87%; 40 samples); agonist activity on estrogen receptor (ERα) (96%; 44 samples); and binding competition with thyroxine (T4) on serum transporter transthyretin (TTR) (98%; 45 samples). Effects were observed with as little as 4μg of extracted dust.
This is a scientific research study of 46 dust samples from 21 buildings on a US university campus. It’s the old flame retardant sloughing off issue. Imagine, there is no evidence that flame retardants applied to all manner of things prevents fires. But we know that more than 90 percent of Americans have the retardant in their/our blood, and we know the health effects include infertility, diabetes, obesity, abnormal fetal growth, and cancers.
This study helps explain how these PFAS and flame retardants enter the body. For the initiated, PFAS first gained press as compounds in Teflon. They are utilized as part of a coating for carpets, furniture, and clothing. Even inside electronics you’ll find these PFAS. And much-much more:
Right off the bat, when baby comes out of mother’s womb, she is exposed to hundreds of chemicals, including PFAS and another species of flame retardants found in the dust — polybrominated diphenyl ethers, or PBDEs. These PBDEs may have been phased out in eight years ago — after they were implicated in health issues such as infertility and thyroid dysfunction. But they are still around, in all sorts of products. Recycled plastics contain them as well. Swaddled babies wrapped in PFAS and other materials coated and sprayed with organophosphate esters.
The price of capitalism and better living/dying with chemistry is a sick and sickening society: again, just these family of chemicals cause through some very sophisticated and synergistic processes amazingly harmful things such as “impaired fetal development, obesity, decreased vaccine response, preeclampsia, testicular cancer, immune dysfunction, kidney cancer, and elevated cholesterol levels.”
Back in the 1880s, the mathematician and theologian Edwin Abbott tried to help us better understand our world by describing a very different one he called Flatland.
Imagine a world that is not a sphere moving through space like our own planet, but more like a vast sheet of paper inhabited by conscious, flat geometric shapes. These shape-people can move forwards and backwards, and they can turn left and right. But they have no sense of up or down. The very idea of a tree, or a well, or a mountain makes no sense to them because they lack the concepts and experiences of height and depth. They cannot imagine, let alone describe, objects familiar to us.
In this two-dimensional world, the closest scientists can come to comprehending a third dimension are the baffling gaps in measurements that register on their most sophisticated equipment. They sense the shadows cast by a larger universe outside Flatland. The best brains infer that there must be more to the universe than can be observed but they have no way of knowing what it is they don’t know.
This sense of the the unknowable, the ineffable has been with humans since our earliest ancestors became self-conscious. They inhabited a world of immediate, cataclysmic events – storms, droughts, volcanoes and earthquakes – caused by forces they could not explain. But they also lived with a larger, permanent wonder at the mysteries of nature itself: the change from day to night, and the cycle of the seasons; the pinpricks of light in the night sky, and their continual movement; the rising and falling of the seas; and the inevitability of life and death.
Perhaps not surprisingly, our ancestors tended to attribute common cause to these mysterious events, whether of the catastrophic or the cyclical variety, whether of chaos or order. They ascribed them to another world or dimension – to the spiritual realm, to the divine.
Paradox and mystery
Science has sought to shrink the realm of the inexplicable. We now understand – at least approximately – the laws of nature that govern the weather and catastrophic events like an earthquake. Telescopes and rocket-ships have also allowed us to probe deeper into the heavens to make a little more sense of the universe outside our tiny corner of it.
But the more we investigate the universe the more rigid appear the limits to our knowledge. Like the shape-people of Flatland, our ability to understand is constrained by the dimensions we can observe and experience: in our case, the three dimensions of space and the additional one of time. Influential “string theory” posits another six dimensions, though we would be unlikely to ever sense them in any more detail than the shadows almost-detected by the scientists of Flatland.
The deeper we peer into the big universe of the night sky and our cosmic past, and the deeper we peer into the small universe inside the atom and our personal past, the greater the sense of mystery and wonder.
At the sub-atomic level, the normal laws of physics break down. Quantum mechanics is a best-guess attempt to explain the mysteries of movement of the tiniest particles we can observe, which appear to be operating, at least in part, in a dimension we cannot observe directly.
And most cosmologists, looking outwards rather inwards, have long known that there are questions we are unlikely ever to answer: not least what exists outside our universe – or expressed another way, what existed before the Big Bang. For some time, dark matter and black holes have baffled the best minds. This month scientists conceded to the New York Times that there are forms of matter and energy unknown to science but which can be inferred because they disrupt the known laws of physics.
Inside and outside the atom, our world is full of paradox and mystery.
Breaking News: Evidence is mounting that a tiny subatomic particle is being influenced by forms of matter and energy that are not yet known to science but which may nevertheless affect the nature and evolution of the universe. https://t.co/8cwwhlPCOe
Despite our science-venerating culture, we have arrived at a similar moment to our forebears, who gazed at the night sky in awe. We have been forced to acknowledge the boundaries of knowledge.
There is a difference, however. Our ancestors feared the unknowable, and therefore preferred to show caution and humility in the face of what could not be understood. They treated the ineffable with respect and reverence. Our culture encourages precisely the opposite approach. We show only conceit and arrogance. We seek to defeat, ignore or trivialise that which we cannot explain or understand.
The greatest scientists do not make this mistake. As an avid viewer of science programmes like the BBC’s Horizon, I am always struck by the number of cosmologists who openly speak of their religious belief. Carl Sagan, the most famous cosmologist, never lost his sense of awestruck wonder as he examined the universe. Outside the lab, his was not the language of hard, cold, calculating science. He described the universe in the language of poetry. He understood the necessary limits of science. Rather than being threatened by the universe’s mysteries and paradoxes, he celebrated them.
When in 1990, for example, space probe Voyager 1 showed us for the first time our planet from 6 billion km away, Sagan did not mistake himself or his fellow NASA scientists for gods. He saw “a pale blue dot” and marvelled at a planet reduced to a “mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam”. Humility was his response to the vast scale of the universe, our fleeting place within it, and our struggle to grapple with “the great enveloping cosmic dark”.
Mind and matter
Sadly, Sagan’s approach is not the one that dominates the western tradition. All too often, we behave as if we are gods. Foolishly, we have made a religion of science. We have forgotten that in a world of unknowables, the application of science is necessarily tentative and ideological. It is a tool, one of many that we can use to understand our place in the universe, and one that is easily appropriated by the corrupt, by the vain, by those who seek power over others, by those who worship money.
Until relatively recently, science, philosophy and theology sought to investigate the same mysteries and answer the same existential questions. Through much of history, they were seen as complementary, not in competition. Abbott, remember, was a mathematician and theologian, and Flatland was his attempt to explain the nature of faith. Similarly, the man who has perhaps most shaped the paradigm within which much western science still operates was a French philosopher using the scientific methods of the time to prove the existence of God.
Today, Rene Descartes is best remembered for his famous – if rarely understood – dictum: “I think, therefore I am.” Four hundred years ago, he believed he could prove God’s existence through his argument that mind and matter are separate. Just as human bodies were distinct from souls, so God was separate and distinct from humans. Descartes believed knowledge was innate, and therefore our idea of a perfect being, of God, could only derive from something that was perfect and objectively real outside us.
Weak and self-serving as many of his arguments sound today, Descartes’ lasting ideological influence on western science was profound. Not least so-called Cartesian dualism – the treatment of mind and matter as separate realms – has encouraged and perpetuated a mechanistic view of the world around us.
We can briefly grasp how strong the continuing grip of his thinking is on us when we are confronted with more ancient cultures that have resisted the west’s extreme rationalist discourse – in part, we should note, because they were exposed to it in hostile, oppressive ways that served only to alienate them from the western canon.
Hearing a Native American or an Australian Aboriginal speak of the sacred significance of a river or a rock – or about their ancestors – is to become suddenly aware of how alien their thinking sounds to our “modern” ears. It is the moment when we are likely to respond in one of two ways: either to smirk internally at their childish ignorance, or to gulp at a wisdom that seems to fill a yawning emptiness in our own lives.
Science and power
Descartes’ legacy – a dualism that assumes separation between soul and body, mind and matter – has in many ways proved a poisonous one for western societies. An impoverished, mechanistic worldview treats both the planet and our bodies primarily as material objects: one a plaything for our greed, the other a canvas for our insecurities.
The British scientist James Lovelock who helped model conditions on Mars for NASA so it would have a better idea how to build the first probes to land there, is still ridiculed for the Gaia hypothesis he developed in the 1970s. He understood that our planet was best not viewed as a very large lump of rock with life-forms living on it, though distinct from it. Rather Earth was as a complete, endlessly complex, delicately balanced living entity. Over billions of years, life had grown more sophisticated, but each species, from the most primitive to the most advanced, was vital to the whole, maintaining a harmony that sustained the diversity.
Few listened to Lovelock. Our god-complex got the better of us. And now, as the bees and other insects disappear, everything he warned of decades ago seems far more urgent. Through our arrogance, we are destroying the conditions for advanced life. If we don’t stop soon, the planet will dispose of us and return to an earlier stage of its evolution. It will begin again, without us, as simple flora and microbes once again begin recreating gradually – measured in aeons – the conditions favourable to higher life forms.
But the abusive, mechanistic relationship we have with our planet is mirrored by the one we have with our bodies and our health. Dualism has encouraged us to think of our bodies as fleshy vehicles, which like the metal ones need regular outside intervention, from a service to a respray or an upgrade. The pandemic has only served to underscore these unwholesome tendencies.
In part, the medical establishment, like all establishments, has been corrupted by the desire for power and enrichment. Science is not some pristine discipline, free from real-world pressures. Scientists need funding for research, they have mortgages to pay, and they crave status and career advancement like everyone else.
Kamran Abbasi, executive editor of the British Medical Journal, wrote an editorial last November warning of British state corruption that had been unleashed on a grand scale by covid-19. But it was not just politicians responsible. Scientists and health experts had been implicated too: “The pandemic has revealed how the medical-political complex can be manipulated in an emergency.”
He added: “The UK’s pandemic response relies too heavily on scientists and other government appointees with worrying competing interests, including shareholdings in companies that manufacture covid-19 diagnostic tests, treatments, and vaccines.”
Things like this raise an obvious question we have been ignoring at our peril:
How do we trust an entirely commercially driven world in which a small group of people who constantly enrich themselves also control the information universe the rest of us inhabit?
But in some ways Abbasi is too generous. Scientists haven’t only corrupted science by prioritising their personal, political and commercial interests. Science itself is shaped and swayed by the ideological assumptions of scientists and the wider societies to which they belong. For centuries, Descartes’ dualism has provided the lens through which scientists have often developed and justified medical treatments and procedures. Medicine has its fashions too, even if they tend to be longer-lived – and more dangerous – than the ones of the clothing industry.
In fact, there were self-interested reasons why Descartes’s dualism was so appealing to the scientific and medical community four centuries ago. His mind-matter division carved out a space for science free from clerical interference. Doctors could now claim an authority over our bodies separate from that claimed by the Church over our souls.
But the mechanistic view of health has been hard to shake off, even as scientific understanding – and exposure to non-western medical traditions – should have made it seem ever less credible. Cartesian dualism reigns to this day, seen in the supposedly strict separation of physical and mental health. To treat the mind and body as indivisible, as two sides of the same coin, is to risk being accused of quackery. “Holistic” medicine still struggles to be taken seriously.
Faced with a fear-inducing pandemic, the medical establishment has inevitably reverted even more strongly to type. The virus has been viewed through a single lens: as an invader seeking to overwhelm our defences, while we are seen as vulnerable patients in desperate need of an extra battalion of soldiers who can help us to fight it off. With this as the dominant framework, it has fallen to Big Pharma – the medical corporations with the greatest firepower – to ride to our rescue.
Vaccines are part of an emergency solution, of course. They will help save lives among the most vulnerable. But the reliance on vaccines, to the exclusion of everything else, is a sign that once again we are being lured back to viewing our bodies as machines. We are being told by the medical establishment we can ride out this war with some armour-plating from Pfizer, Moderna and AstraZeneca. We can all be Robocop in the battle against Covid-19.
But there are others ways to view health than as an expensive, resource-depleting technological battle against virus-warriors. Where is the focus on improving the ever-more nutrient-deficient, processed, pesticide-laden, and sugar and chemical-rich diets most of us consume? How do we address the plague of stress and anxiety we all endure in a competitive, digitally connected, no-rest world stripped of all spiritual meaning? What do we do about the cosseted lifestyles we prefer, where exertion is a lifestyle choice renamed as exercise rather than integral to our working day, and where regular exposure to sunshine, outside of a beach vacation, is all but impossible in our office-bound schedules?
Fear and quick-fixes
For much of human history, our chief concern was the fight for survival – against animals and other humans, against the elements, against natural disasters. Technological developments proved invaluable in making our lives safer and easier, whether it was flint axes and domesticated animals, wheels and combustion engines, medicines and mass communications. Our brains now seem hardwired to look to technological innovation to address even the smallest inconvenience, to allay even our wildest fears.
So, of course, we have invested our hopes, and sacrificed our economies, in finding a technological fix to the pandemic. But does this exclusive fixation on technology to solve the current health crisis not have a parallel with the similar, quick-fix technological remedies we keep seeking for the many ecological crises we have created?
Global warming? We can create an even whiter paint to reflect back the sun’s heat. Plastics in every corner of our oceans? We can build giant vacuum-cleaners that will suck it all out. Vanishing bee populations? We can invent pollinator drones to take their place. A dying planet? Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk will fly millions of us to space colonies.
Were we not so technology obsessed, were we not so greedy, were we not so terrified of insecurity and death, if we did not see our bodies and minds as separate, and humans as separate from everything else, we might pause to ponder whether our approach is not a little misguided.
Science and technology can be wonderful things. They can advance our knowledge of ourselves and the world we inhabit. But they need to be conducted with a sense of humility we increasingly seem incapable of. We are not conquerors of our bodies, or the planet, or the universe – and if we imagine we are, we will soon find out that the battle we are waging is one we can never hope to win.
Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the center cannot hold
Mere anarchy is loosed up the world….
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.
— The Second Coming”, William Butler Yeats, 1919
How dare you?
“Oh, great, that’s all we need. A cynical radical leftist who is so out of touch that you would jeopardize losing the elections to Trump out of some purity. Noam Chomsky thinks this is the most important election in U.S history. How can you be so apathetic at a time like this? We have to get Trump out of office or we will have fascism. If Trump wins there will be blood on your hands. I can’t believe any radical news site would even publish this article. Up yours.”
First of all, I am not cynical in general. I am, however, cynical that any capitalist party can keep Yankeedom from collapsing. Secondly, this article does not tell anyone whether or not to vote or which party to vote for. My claim is that both Yankee political parties have already demonstrated for the last 40 years they are incapable of managing to reconstruct or repair deep ecological, infrastructural and structural problems that are engulfing us right now. Yankeedom is collapsing and it will continue to collapse regardless of who wins this “election”. Thirdly, fascism is already here and it will continue even if Trump loses the election. Though I don’t make a case for socialism, I will say that our choices are either fascism or socialism.
WHAT IS POLITICS? RULING VS GOVERNING
One of the root meanings of the word “politics” is to steer. In other words, deliberative political bodies ask themselves big sociopolitical questions like – “where have we been based on past practice and where are we going, based on future plans?” Steering is something like the word “governing”. In cybernetics, to govern is likened to a heart in the human body. It is the grand central station in which all subsystems of the body meet. These subsystems are integrated and monitored for feedback about the system’s past behavior and fed forward, anticipating where the system is going. No subsystems are left floating on their own, freely determining their own direction. Applying the words “governing” and “steering” to politics in human societies, the sad truth is that with the possible exception of hunting and gathering and simple horticultural societies, agricultural state civilizations and industrial capitalist societies do not govern their populations, they rule them. We have oligarchies struggling for power, but part of their power should not be defined as steering. They are not steering. In fact, nobody’s driving, yet they imagine they are steering and governing.
Turning specifically to Yankeedom, it is a deeply stratified class system in which the ruling class controls the major resources and the lower classes are granted just enough resources to make it to the next day. The different parts of the political system have regional struggles between the core and periphery rather than cooperation. Technology is developed not in a systematic, forward-looking way to make life easier, but mostly as weapons of war for destruction. Spiritual institutions are organized by the rulers to terrorize, demoralize and mystify their own populations. The religious authorities sanctify the rule of the rulers, just as Marx said. On the whole, at their best, the ruling classes everywhere, not just the United States, are no better than the general population. They really can’t think beyond one generation. Neither ruling class party in the history of Yankeedom has governed their populations. They have taken turns ruling them.
SIGNS OF STRUCTURAL COLLAPSE
Part of the drumbeat of the “Lesser of Two Evils” folks, is the hope that a democrat will bring things “back to normal,” meaning Yankee social life as it was before March 2020. But thinking there is a “normal” to get back to is a pathological denial of the fact that the Yankee empire has been collapsing for 50 years. All this while both parties have ignored the long-standing ecological and infrastructural problems, including the fallout from the pandemic over the last six months of 2020.
COVID -19 has expanded rather than leveled off because the nation-state ignores what scientists say and it has no national plan that all states must follow, unlike countries that have resolved the pandemic crisis, often with half the resources of the U.S. Socialist countries like Cuba, North Vietnam and China have responded quickly and admirably. Here in Yankeedom, neither Republicans nor Democrats have risen to the occasion. Each party has had six months to step up to the plate. They have done nothing systemic.
Large parts of the population are in denial that there is a pandemic and are ignoring what scientists say, spreading the virus as they dance in the clubs and on the beaches. This self-destructive behavior is partly explained by the refusal of both ruling class parties to educate their populations in basic science. Both parties have been anti-science for 50 years and have allowed college courses to skimp on science classes. At the same time movie and television producers flood the air waves and movie screens with ESP claims, extraterrestrials and reports of people who have returned from the dead. Most of the Yankee population is scientifically illiterate and innumerate (without a basic knowledge of mathematics and arithmetic).
Extreme weather is a very serious problem that has been neglected for 50 years and there has been no long-term plan to address this. Every year we have record-breaking temperatures in the summer, along with massive fires in the West. In the winters, record cold spells hit the East and North-central states. Glaciers are melting and water is rising. Has either party come to the table with a long-term plan? They haven’t because both parties are beholden to capitalists who refuse to think beyond three months into the future.
Police departmentshave turned into state terrorist organizations which have been amassing more and more weapons for decades. There is no structural reform, as the police are handed bloated budgets while they are trained to mutilate and kill as a matter of course, treating the citizens as enemies. Neither party has done anything to reign in police violence. Self-destructively, by not reigning in the police, capitalists who own both parties keep people in the streets protesting – the very people they need to get off the streets and back to work if they are to rehabilitate the physical economy.
There is an open rebellion against police terror which the ruling class has failed to address structurally. Any claim for reparation for minorities, not just for being killed by police but also for being housed for decades in prison for minor crimes is like spitting in the wind. Sadly, some of the most rabid “Back the Blue” folks are white working-class people who are also most likely to be beaten by the police. Unbeknown to most white working-class in this country, there was a time when to be a redneck meant to be against the police.
Openly armed fascist groups wave confederate flags and white power signs that will probably get worse if the Idiot-King loses. Is this a serious political problem for either party that requires a long-term solution? Apparently not, as these right-wing groups have been three and a half years in the making, bringing to the surface a racist undercurrent that has been festering in Yankeedom for hundreds of years.
We are in the worst capitalist crisis in history because COVID-19 has crippled the physical economy. Respected political economist Jack Rasmus tells us the real unemployment rate is between 25-30%, not the much lower numbers publicized by the Department of Labor. Those who have jobs are often working at reduced work hours. Consumer spending is at a low point. Both parties sing a capitalist tune that workers can be sacrificed so the economy can live. This is an economic policy? Where are all the bourgeois economists who populate every university, pumping out ideological propaganda about the free market? Do they have any policies for fixing the existing physical economy other than to say “let ‘er (the market) ride!”? These same economists are consultants to each party. Are they recommending any governing policies? For them, the physical economy and the stock market are all the same thing.
Capitalists and the state want to open up the schools this fall to in-person learning despite the fact that the COVID-19 has not even reached its peak yet. It risks jeopardizing the lives of 7-14-year-olds, as well as college students, faculty and staff. In part, capitalists want children back in school to increase the chances of their parents going back to work. Parents are more likely to stay home to guide their children through Zoom sessions rather than go to work and leave them on their own. Capitalists need workers back at work – even if they are killed. This is an economic policy?
Economically, finance capital has produced a runaway fictitious capital bubble that was not even checked after the Great Recession. The neoliberal choir boy, Obama, offered no structural reform of banking institutions. Capitalist economists blithely ignore growing bad debt. They imagine that a gambling casino (the stock market) and the use of financial instruments, like derivatives, pose no problems.
The Federal Reserve has to pump blood transfusions (money) on a regular basis into financial markets to keep them from tanking. Does either party think this might be a long-term problem? Now, the Fed has promised to keep interest rates at 0% for the next 3 years in the hopes that even more people will fall into credit card debt. Does either political party think there might be something wrong with printing more money as an economic policy? Apparently not.
Both major political parties are hated by their populations, as evidenced by the winning party being unable to attract more than 20% of the population. When these politicians are told that 60% of the population doesn’t vote or is ineligible to vote, do they say, “hmm, this is a problem, especially if we claim to be a democracy”. The answer is no. They imagine the people who don’t vote are ignorant, stupid, poor or have mental health problems. It never crosses their minds that these potential voters might not vote because these two parties and their grandstanding, lying and back street deal-making have nothing to do with the lives of most of the population. This is a great example of a political system that ignores the feedback from its periphery – that its system simply isn’t working.
Short-term thinking – Another of the many problems with the political system of Yankeedom is that it is ruled by capitalists who refuse to think beyond a single quarter. They want their assets liquid and ready to move at any time. Capitalists are incapable of governing in the way we’ve defined the word. In addition, the electoral systems that capitalists control last only four years. As long as Republicans and Democrats switch administrations every four years, there can be no long-standing policy that would supersede the various revolving doors of regimes.
All these twelve points are signs of neglect and decay that are very typical of the research Joseph Tainter did for his book The Collapse of Complex Societies many years ago. In the face of all these deep, long-term systemic problems, Congress was adjourned for one month! Given these points, do either the Democrats or the Republicans “govern” our society today? For the 40% of the population who vote for either party, voters think whichever political party wins, they govern. But from their lack of response to any of these problems, these parties do not govern – they rule.
As a socialist, I have absolutely no confidence that an enlightened long-term thinking capitalist could solve any of the problems above. However, since those of you are convinced that these presidential elections are so important, let me propose some things that an enlightened, long-term thinking capitalist might do to address these problems, whether the solution comes from a Republican or a Democrat. Then at the end I will ask you if you think the political party of your choice would implement even one of these solutions when they begin their term. The purpose of the proposals below is to get our bearings about what an overall plan might look like. I am not attempting to prioritize in what order this reform would come. Under a socialist party, we would have both a short-term and a long-term plan so we could attack these problems systematically. However, I am not arguing for socialism. I am only arguing that neither party will lift a finger to address the multiple crises we are facing.
WHAT WOULD AN ENLIGHTENED CAPITALIST PARTY DO WITH THESE PROBLEMS IF THEY WERE CAPABLE OF GOVERNING?
Have a national plan to deal with the pandemic
First, we will follow the lead of countries who have successfully managed the COVID-19 virus and will implement a long-term plan even if it means shutting down businesses and schools for six months. We will have a national plan that every state will follow. No longer will states decide their own policy in the bumbling way that has been done so far.
Overcome scientific illiteracy and innumeracy
Furthermore, long-term, we will redevelop our higher education programs to stress mastering the sciences and expand courses on critical thinking. There will be scientific boards of directors who will redesign movie and television curriculum to emphasize stories based on science, not fantasy. Science fiction writers will have to demonstrate to scientists how their script is based on scientific findings and not just on fantasy. This will begin to cut into the rampant scientific illiteracy and innumeracy that has existed for two generations. There will be required courses in geography and international politics. The reign of businessmen determining course development while sitting on the boards of directors will end. College instructors and scientific researchers will have prominent seats on those boards.
Redeploy the military for infrastructural building and repair
The enlightened capitalist party will reorient our resource base. As it is, we are currently involved in at least seven wars. We have come to realize that capitalism can only grow long-term if it invests in life rather than death. Therefore, all the troops will be called home and redeployed. Once home they will work at rebuilding the crumbling infrastructure that has been decaying for decades and will cost trillions of dollars. They will fix roads and repair bridges. They will also build low-cost housing to get every person off the street. City budgets will hold a certain percentage of land for low cost housing. City life will no longer be determined by the whim of real estate agents, given the virtue word “developer”.
Systemic climate change plan
An additional benefit to closing down our war machine will be its effect on global warming and pollution since the military is the world’s largest polluter. We will begin implementing the scientific recommendations to combat extreme weather and pollutions that have been sitting on the shelves of the U.N. for 50 years. A major part of the budget will be spent on trying to halt or reverse all the devastating fires, sickening smoke, pollution, ever more fierce hurricanes and tornadoes and melting of glaciers.
Full employment, satisfying basic needs
Next, we capitalists have come to realize that there are many needs people have that are not realized because they have low profitability returns. As capitalists we have tried to create needs that don’t exist to get people to buy products and services that do not last, either materially or by providing real emotional satisfaction. As it turns out, people have considerably more needs than we realized and so there will be no longer any unemployment. Everyone will work to satisfy the needs of all social classes. Capitalist societies are the only types of societies in history to have unemployment. This is a waste of our collective creative power. “Yes” says the short-term thinking capitalists, “but if you don’t have unemployment, wages will rise and cut into our profit margins.” As long-term thinking capitalists, we learned in the 1950s and 1960s high wages and profitability can easily go hand-in-hand. The amount of creativity that will be unleashed will more than make up the difference. In addition, a great deal of new revenue will be generated by a return to taxing corporations as was done in the 1950s and 1960s. Corporations used to be taxed at a far greater rate than today. These corporations took it in stride and still made a fortune.
Installing economic floors on the economy
Economically, everyone will receive a basic income so that no one ever has to be concerned about starving or not having a place to live. That is, in addition to increased investment in the “matriarchal” state, including universal health care, expanded pensions, mental health and physical care for veterans.
Alternatives to state terror
Police departments will be abolished, and the revenue redeployed into community defense councils following the recommendations of critical criminal sociologists who have developed alternative systems using recommendations that have been on the shelves for years. Up until now, they could never be put into practice because of the fear of police lobbies and their unions. Police will be replaced by social mediation teams, social workers and neighborhood review boards.
Next, prisoners of non-violent crimes will be released and put into rehabilitation centers and transition programs where they will either learn a trade or develop a skill they already have. They will be able to get a good college education if that is what they want. The pouring out of prisoners into the workforce will be a tremendous boon to the economy. Prisons will be modeled on the method currently in use in Norway, with the focus on rehabilitation, rather than punishment.
Attacking the National Rifle Association
As capitalists we want to invest in the reduction of violence in our population. All weapons beyond simple handguns will be illegal. The purpose of a gun should be simply for protection. No one needs machine guns to protect themselves. Open Carry gun laws will be abolished.
Long overdue reparations
The demands of the current uprising are larger than simply a reduction of police brutality. They are about restitutions. Systemic racism has continued and even worsened since the civil rights movement. To begin to make up for this, we capitalists will follow the guidelines of criminal sociologists who have calculated what would be fair restitution based on centuries of slave labor. The reparations packet would include funding employment opportunities, grants in the arts and sciences and education, childcare tuition reduction for trade as well as other programs sociologists would recommend.
Savings banks and public banks free of stock market speculation
Economically we will be transforming banks that are reinstated and can be used for commercial purposes, rather than solely for financial investment and not tied to the stock markets. Furthermore, public banks will be established in most states in order for people to invest in community institutions that have no investments in the stock market. Banks will reinstitute the rule where there can be no investments made without a certain proportion of gold to back them up. Capitalist speculation will be discouraged and penalized.
Switching to political proportional representation according to social class
Politically we will begin a process of overhauling the two-party system, with which Americans have expressed frustration for decades. What we must face is that right now sociologists tell us that there are eight social classes. The two major political parties represent at best the top 1%; 5% of the upper class; and 10% of the upper middle class. As it stands now, about 85% of the population has no representation. The middle class needs its own separate party; the working class needs its own party and those below the working class need their own party. Each party can only have representatives from its own social class. If we want people to become more political and be real citizens, we must give them their own representatives and pay them the salary of a middle-class citizen. There will be no more political representatives who are millionaires pretending to represent the middle and lower classes.
I want to point out that none of these suggestions are socialist. There is no call for the abolition of private ownership of resources. There are no constraints on inheritance. There is no proposal to freeze the assets of the 1% and redistribute them. There is no call for workers to seize the workplaces and run worksites themselves. There is no call for the nationalization of banks and industry. There is no call for closing the stock markets. My proposals are all long-term structural reforms to do damage-control over the continuing collapse of Yankeedom.
I believe most of you reading this would agree that many of these improvements would be necessary. Yet you hold on to the belief that the political parties controlled by the capitalists would in some way address these problems. They have not and they will not. In all cases up until now, both parties have done nothing. They are either unaware of the level of crisis we are in, they are in denial there is even a problem, or they recognize a problem, but their response is anemic, erratic and not well thought out. What makes you think that after this election any of these politicians will do anything differently? Vote for whomever you want but whoever your favorite candidate is, understand they operate under a political party owned by an incompetent, myopic, irresponsible capitalist class who will go down dancing on the deck of the Titanic. Paraphrasing Freud, compared to the conflict between id and the superego within the individual, the ego is helpless, much like being in a rowboat with one oar in the middle of a typhon. The ego doesn’t have a prayer. Neither do these existing political parties.
About seventy years ago, Arthur Schlesinger Jr. triumphantly proclaimed that centrist liberalism was a “Vital Center” against the twin dangers of left and right-wing totalitarianism. Today we can say the “vital center” has collapsed with both parties falling into the abyss. Our only solution to the collapse we are experiencing is to develop a mass socialist party with a plan and systemic steps to be taken over the next 5, 10 or 15 years. That is our only hope for reducing the fall as a result of the collapse. Capitalist parties are incapable of solving these problems.
Have you noticed recently that things are collapsing?
Sure, the right-wing, nationalist rulers of many countries never stop telling us that they have made their nations “great” again.
But we would have to be dislocated from reality not to notice that something is wrong―very wrong. After all, the world is currently engulfed in a coronavirus pandemic that has already infected over 12.5 million people, taken over 550,000 lives, and created massive economic disruption. And the pandemic is accelerating, while, according to scientists, new and more terrible diseases are in the offing.
Moreover, we are now experiencing a rapidly-growing environmental catastrophe. Not only are industrial pollutants poisoning the air, the water, and the land as never before, but climate change is making the planet uninhabitable. Extreme heat, drought, storms, floods, melting glaciers, and rising sea levels are wreaking havoc on an unprecedented scale. This June, the temperature in the Arctic reached 100.4 degrees fahrenheit―the hottest on record.
Even if these disastrous developments fail to snuff out the human race, plenty of mass misery can be expected from the rising economic and social inequality occurring around the globe. According to a UN study, released in January 2020, 70 percent of the world’s people suffer from growing economic inequality. In a foreword to the study, UN Secretary General António Guterres declared that the world is confronting “the harsh realities of a deeply unequal landscape,” characterized by “a vicious cycle of inequality, frustration, and discontent.” Feeding on popular fears and anxieties, racism and xenophobia are on the rise.
But extinction or, at best, mass misery, need not be humanity’s fate. Thanks to very substantial advances in knowledge over the centuries, plus the efforts of creative thinkers and determined reform movements, human beings have shown a remarkable ability to confront challenges and to improve the human condition. From the abolition of slavery to the creation of public education, the banning of child labor, the guaranteeing of old age security, the legalization of unions, the recognition of women’s rights, and the defense of gay rights, previously unimaginable changes have been promoted and implemented.
Of course, the changes necessary to cope with today’s crises will not be obtained easily. To successfully battle pandemics, it will be essential to create a far stronger public health system, accessible to everyone. Combatting climate change will almost certainly require challenging the vast power of the fossil fuel industry. To avert nuclear war, it will probably be necessary to both ban nuclear weapons and create a stronger international security system. And when it comes to securing greater economic and social equality, limiting corporate greed, taxing the rich, and reducing deep-seated prejudices remain imperative.
Even if these conditions are met, however, another challenge remains, for implementing these kinds of changes necessitates action on a worldwide basis. After all, disease pandemics, climate catastrophe, nuclear war, and economic and social inequality are global problems that require global solutions. As the director general of the World Health Organization remarked in late June, the greatest threat to humanity from the coronavirus is not the virus itself, but “the lack of global solidarity” in dealing with it. He added: “We cannot defeat this pandemic with a divided world.” Much the same could be said about overcoming the other onrushing disasters.
Although there is not much time left before the world succumbs to one or more catastrophes, human beings have been able to alter their behavior and institutions. Let’s hope they will rouse themselves and do so again.
You’ve got to start thinking about this as an ecosystem. All these plantations might as well be growing corn. But if you want clean water, salmon, wildlife, and high-quality lumber, you’ve got to have a forest.
— Mike Fay, a Wildlife Conservation Society biologist and National Geographic Society explorer-in-residence
Seeing a pair of bald eagles, a possum and a black bear just minutes into my trip to an interview is, to say the least, icing on the “Eco Cake.”
Especially now, with so many people in various stages of isolation and paranoia — restricting time outdoors has a double-whammy effect on our mental health, but also on the health of a community who expects in-person participation and face-to-face debate.
Virtual bird watching and online hikes just don’t cut it.
My assignment is to catch a 30-something scientist — coordinator of a non-profit — doing what he loves best: hands-on, in-the-field work, coordinating with landowners on projects to restore river refugia.
I met Evan Hayduk, 35, with Mid-Coast Watershed Council when I first moved to the coast from Portland. That was Jan 2019 at Oregon Coast Community College for a dual presentation as part of the Williams Lecture series.
“Shedding a Scientific and Humanitarian Light on Climate Change” was a one-two punch featuring Hayduk alongside Bill Kucha, well-known artist and founder the 350 Oregon Central Coast.
That night unfolded as a contrast in personalities, age and emphases. Kucha is a 70-plus-year-old two-and three-dimensional artist who also composes and performs his music, guitar in hand. Hayduk opened up the talk with a detailed PowerPoint that emphasized the power of natural tidelands/wetlands to not only purify water for species like salmon, but also as natural mitigation for carbon dioxide absorption from fossil fuel burning.
Tidal wetlands are important habitats for salmon and a diversity of other fish and wildlife species. They also trap sediment, buffer coastal communities from flooding and erosion and perform other valued ecosystem services. — Hayduk
This is a story about a man, about his passion, about his vision to see a better world through several lenses, not exclusively through biology.
The first personality to greet me on the private land near Lobster Creek was Hayduk’s loyal two-year-old Australian shepherd, appropriately named, “Tahoma.”
“The original name for Mount Rainer,” Hayduk emphasizes. In fact, “Tahoma” is the Puyallup word for “Supreme Mountain,” and according to others, Tahoma translates to “the breast of the milk-white waters.” Or as Hayduk has heard, Mother Mountain.
Before his gig here with Mid-Coast Watershed Council (MCWC) starting 2016, Hayduk worked on Tahoma (Mount Rainier National Park) running the restoration crew at its native plant nursery.
Today, we are on one of four adjoining 40-acre chunks whose landowners have granted Hayduk and MCWC access to flood plain habitat and Little Lobster creek to “help restore once was a healthy complex riparian ecosystem.”
All water flows downstream
When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the Universe. — John Muir
While the Alsea River is the mainstem of salmon runs, tributaries like Lobster Creek play a crucial role in salmon health. We are in an area known as Five Rivers, 25 miles east of Waldport. Alder, Cougar, Buck, Crab and Cherry creeks make up those five tributaries.
Within the Alsea Basin, the Lobster/Five Rivers watershed provides an important contribution to the populations of native fish. However, water quality problems, relating to stream temperature, have been documented in several sub-watersheds and along the main stems of both Lobster Creak and Five Rivers. The level of disturbance in the watershed has contributed to the degradation of quality habitat. [So states a 227-page scientific paper, from the Bureau of Land Management, “Lobster/Five Rivers Watershed Analysis.]
Hayduk is “eyes, ears and feet/hands on the ground” coordinator of this project. The day I show up, he has 164 home-propagated lupines and a couple of dozen Camus bulb starts. Zach and Casey from Lincoln Soil and Water Conservation District (LSWCD) soon arrive as part of their regular brush-clearing duties to fight back the canary grass and Himalayan blackberry bushes, both pernicious invasive species in our ecosystem.
They have an auguring machine to dig holes for all these pollinating plants Hayduk and his wife, Jen, grew in their Waldport home garden. Jen is the interim director of LSWCD.
The husband-wife team met in 2008 when they both worked for a backcountry conservation crew near Port Angeles. She’s from Pennsylvania, and Hayduk grew up in Woodinville (near Seattle) with his two older sisters and parents.
My dad was a general contractor in Seattle. My family had 1.5 acres and turned it into a formal English garden, so I spent a lot of time with plants.
He tells me he always knew he’d be working with plants as he got older. He did an undergraduate degree at Santa Clara University. He graduated from the Evergreen State College in 2012 with a master’s in Environmental Studies. One of his more unique programming experiences as a student was contributing to the Sustainability in Prisons Project (SPP) in school in Olympia.
I gravitate toward the prison work he did more than eight years ago. On SPP’s website, the goal is clear: “SPP brings together incarcerated individuals, scientists, corrections staff, students, and program partners to promote education, conserve biodiversity, practice sustainability, and help build healthy communities. Together, we reduce the environmental, economic, and human costs of prisons.”
Hayduk’s work now is all about conservation, restoration and replicating the natural systems that contribute to streambeds and streambanks gaining structures that make them prime refuge for young salmon and other species to blend into a natural ecological community, or web.
Stream Fish, Flora
Now there are some things in the world we can’t change — gravity, entropy, the speed of light, the first and second Laws of Thermodynamics, and our biological nature that requires clean air, clean water, clean soil, clean energy and biodiversity for our health and wellbeing. Protecting the biosphere should be our highest priority or else we sicken and die. Other things, like capitalism, free enterprise, the economy, currency, the market, are not forces of nature, we invented them. They are not immutable and we can change them. It makes no sense to elevate economics above the biosphere, for example.
–– Canadian scientist and TV series producer David Suzuki
It goes without saying rehabilitating an ecosystem like a Coastal Range temperate forest is much more complicated (and complex) than sending a projectile into space.
Evan Hayduk is one of these “forest triage experts” — he sees what 150 years of headstrong resource exploitation, unchecked razing of ecosystems and overharvesting have done and how difficult it is to put it all back together.
I met up with him on the land where he is rehabilitating riparian and river systems. This article was precipitated by my interest in Hayduk’s association with Mid-Coast Watersheds Council, most notably the monthly guest speaker series, “From Ridgetop to Reef.”
He also has just received an impressive laurel: American Fisheries Society’s 2020 Rising Star Award. This is a recognition of Hayduk’s work as someone early in his career through a partnership with NOAA and the National Fish Habitat Partnership:
“Hayduk was recognized for the quantity and quality of his restoration projects and his cooperative work with agencies and landowners.”
He sent me the entire package — the award, the letters of recommendation, projects he has worked on, his college transcripts. As I’ve learned in the Deep Dive column reporting/writing, we have some real gems on the coast. Hayduk could be a superstar in a larger non-profit and in a bigger demographic.
His job with MCWC — promoting freshwater and coastal fish conservation — is one-part grant writer, one-part field expert, one-part people manager, one-part public engagement/relationships impresario. He told me that he goes to landowners with those streams, creeks and rivers run through their properties in order to find ways to encourage stream health and restoration mitigation.
My time with him in early June focused on the process of dropping 60-foot trees into streams, crisscross fashion. This might seem counterintuitive as a best practice for stream health, but in fact, it’s a dynamic natural way to rebuild stream beds and create a functioning healthy floodplain and wetlands cohesion.
He tells me this replication of an ecosystem’s natural hydrodynamic process creates these weirs and in-stream structures that “spread the creek out,” keeping gravel beds intact all the while connecting cold water refugia to the floodplain.
The most challenging aspect of these projects comes down to humans.
“We need to work with land owners,” he tells me. “I sort of see myself as the glue between everybody.”
He shows me this riparian floodplain near the Upper Little Lobster Creek where he and his crew of volunteers have planted conifers, including cedars, and other plants to help revitalize the power of those trees to hold in soil. When the deciduous alders age out (around 60 years), they have a tendency to fall. Conifers live longer and they too will fall and act as natural “damming structures” to replicate what a natural stream should be: a haven for salmon and other aquatic species.
I study all these saplings growing inside “cages” that protect their early growth from deer.
Wood Wide Web
“The wood wide web has been mapped, traced, monitored, and coaxed to reveal the beautiful structures and finely adapted languages of the forest network. We have learned that mother trees recognize and talk with their kin, shaping future generations. In addition, injured trespass their legacies on to their neighbors, affecting gene regulation, defense chemistry, and resilience in the forest community. These discoveries have transformed our understanding of trees from competitive crusaders of the self to members of a connected, relating, communicating system. Ours is not the only lab making these discoveries-there is a burst of careful scientific research occurring worldwide that is uncovering all manner of ways that trees communicate with each other above and below ground.” ― Peter Wohlleben, “The Hidden Life of Trees: What They Feel, How They Communicate — Discoveries from a Secret World”
The connection between healthy rivers, functioning floodplains, and healthy fish, Evan emphasizes while putting planting riverbank lupine (Lupinus rivularis) in clusters of four, is trees. I learned much of these interlinked processes while teaching and living in Spokane, working on issues around the Spokane River, a highly urbanized and suburbanized river. Those forested watersheds have much higher water quality. Trees also provide a wide variety of ecological services.
Hayduk sources logs from many places, including Georgia Pacific other for-profit outfits, land owners and from projects on BLM, State and National Forest lands.
While the tree canopy lessens the erosive impact of rain and slows the velocity of stormwater flowing towards the river, trees trap sediments that build the floodplain while the roots stabilize the riverbanks.
I jump into some “ponding” water just below one of the crisscross tree structures Evan and his volunteers had dropped into this moving water refugia, Little Lobster Creek. I was presented with nice stretches of fine sand and cul-de-sacs of great pebble beds, perfect habitat for salmon redds. Hayduk showed me fresh water mussels. Crayfish were scrambling in the shallows piercing the shadows underwater.
Hayduk emphasized that there are some healthy stream systems in our area where past disruptive logging practices and snag clearing have not been so impactful and permanent. However, the cost for this sort of project Hayduk is heading up tallies to $28,000 per acre, with invasive species, brush clearing and salvage log/wood placement as the large chunk of the bill.
The tree species that best work for the log weirs and dams are conifers, like Doug firs and cedar, that latter species having the added benefit of not rotting for decades while submerged.
It’s a no-brainer trees also provide shade for maintaining water temperature. To carry the analogy to the end point, we see fallen leaves, limbs and branches support food webs by providing food and habitat for insects that are food for fish, Hayduk states. Clean, cool water with more food equals bigger fish.
Nuances like growing alders on the flood plain or marsh plain encourages other species of trees to grow on the decaying fallen alder.
Looking at the ecosystem from a centuries-versus-a-few-decades perspective is important in understanding what Evan and others of his ilk are attempting. “Big conifers that fall help with grade control. Water tables rise. Conifers in the riparian areas can grow from 100 to 200 years before they fall into the creek.”
This concept of a “messy” stream refugia as being the most healthful for all species is anathema to the way most humans have thought about rivers. Scientists like Hayduk know fish get through any of the hurdles a natural stream environment presents them — even with huge logs and entire trees with root balls integrated into the water flow.
Big enough wood simulating log jams buy time to get refugia back to an interconnected vibrancy. Thus far, in this area, 28 structures have been laid on 2.4 miles of stream, Hayduk stated.
Fragility in a huge forest
He shows me areas where logging trucks came in and now the stream is bare of trees and also where channel incision had “down cut” incisions into the bedrock, not a healthy Coho or chinook refuge.
Again, this is a fragile complex system Hayduk and his cohorts work on. The flood plain is many yards beyond the actual stream channel. So, a 30-foot creek flood flow necessitates a 60-foot log or fallen tree.
The connection between fish, trees and rivers is now poised emerging in our urban areas as sound ecology and ecosystem management. Many cities, large and small, are recognizing the benefits of reestablishing the physical and emotional linkage between river, trees and the human community. For instance, San Antonio has its iconic River Walk, Chicago has just completed its riverfront, Washington DC has its Southwest Waterfront neighborhood, and Pittsburgh has reconnected neighborhoods to its three rivers via a network of urban trails.
We talk about the high turnover rate for positions like his own, as well as his wife’s at the Lincoln Soil & Water Conservation District.
His wife Jen knows the connection of little things put back into an ecosystem having global ramifications. She obtained her master’s degree at OSU in marine resource management.
Back to the glossary: Jen Hayduk could explain the power of blue carbon, which is elegantly illustrated by this marine plant species she was studying — seagrass (Zostera marina). These seagrass habitats provide important “ecosystem services,” including their ability to take up and store substantial amounts of organic carbon, known as “blue carbon.”
Again, the couple not only understands the fragility of homo sapiens as an individual species in a time of COVID-19, but how the cultural and economic activities can so easily be disrupted.
No more volunteers out in the field, Hayduk tells me, and many projects are on hold and grants stalled/delayed because of the lockdown.
The lack of human traffic might be temporarily beneficial to such threatened species as the Northern spotted owl (Strix occidentalis caurina), marbled murrelet (Brachyramphus marmoratus) and Oregon spotted frog (Rana pretiosa), but Evan Hayduk would rather spend time in the field with people throwing in to help him with his work with river and wetlands restoration.
His background in human rehabilitation through ecological health started with people locked out of society, in tiny prison cells.
“The effects of nature on incarcerated individuals is powerful,” Hayduk tells me. His mentor was Nalini Nadkarni, Ph.D., Founder of the Sustainability in Prisons Project. “Prisoners spend limited time outside. But the program demonstrated they are good with plant stuff. It’s a powerful therapeutic tool, working with the Oregon spotted frog raising them from tadpoles all the way to adult frogs and releasing them into the wild.”
For individuals like Hayduk, “the cure” is being outside, working with/within nature, and with people (Homo sapiens), who are also part of the ecosystems, whether we recognize it or not.
Right now, Jen and Evan are tending a huge Waldport home garden, pickled goodies like carrots, tomatoes and cucumbers. Jen has even gotten into exotic plant growing, selling one of her “children” on etsy.com for a pretty penny.
They are self-sufficient, well-traveled, share visions and know how to grow food. Traits we all might need when the you know what tied to global warming hits the fan.
Q&A: Evan Hayduk Style
Hayduk is a busy fellow, having put in 63-hour work weeks and rushing to harvest tons of garden produce and preserving them, an undertaking he and his wife Jen have been doing for several weeks. Still, though, Hayduk put down some compelling responses to my intrusive queries.
Paul: What are the three things you suggest citizens can do to help folks like you and nonprofits like MCWC do what you have to do to protect salmon habitat/refugia?
Evan: A. Help and protect beaver on the landscape. This is #1. Beavers do a better job to create and maintain salmon habitat than we could ever hope to. Tolerate beavers if you live on a property that has a stream. There are beaver solutions that make it easier to “live with beaver.” Inform your neighbors about the importance of beaver and join efforts to stop trapping and killing of this ecosystem engineer.
B. Get involved! Volunteer your time helping at a MCWC event (when we bring them back after COVID-19). If you live on a river or stream clear invasive species and plant natives. Or give us a call and we can help.
C. Donate! Donations to the MCWC are tax deductible! They go directly to helping us get projects on the ground that protect and improve salmon habitat. For a non-profit like ours, just a little goes a long way.
Paul: Who are two of your biggest influences in this work, in your life?
Evan: I think I’ll separate that out into two categories life/work.
Life: My parents. I grew up observing an absolute model of love, hard work and kindness. My dad worked his way from a carpenter to owning his own construction company. This instilled a work ethic that I couldn’t shake even if I tried. I spent weekends growing up working in our 1.5-acre garden, working with my dad to turn bare land into formal English gardens. If I don’t put in a good amount of time in any given weekend now, I feel like my weekend was wasted.
Work: I’ve been lucky along the way to have some great mentors. I mentioned to you Nalini Nadkarni, who I worked with at Evergreen with the Sustainability in Prisons Project. Nalini is the most amazing person I have ever been around. Her energy is contagious, and when she is in a room there is an electricity that is undeniable.
During my time at MCWC, I also have had amazing support from some Oregon Coast legends. Before retiring in November 2018, Wayne Hoffman was an absolute encyclopedia of information. I could walk into his office, ask about any given creek on the midcoast, and Wayne could ramble on forever about the stream, current conditions, past projects, habitat potential, etc. Fran Recht and Paul Engelmeyer, who started the MCWC back in the late 1990s, are both dedicated stewards of the environment and have devoted their lives to the midcoast. My success at MCWC is due in large part to Wayne, Fran and Paul, and the rest of the active MCWC board and community.
Paul: If you were to present to a high school class, what would your elevator speech introduction be to them.
Evan: Salmon and people aren’t that different. We all need cool, clean water to survive. The actions we take to restore salmon habitat — replacing bad culverts, placing large wood in streams, planting native trees and shrubs — all do more than just restore salmon habitat. These actions restore the natural systems and processes that give us idyllic images of cold-water streams rushing through lush, green mountain terrain. We are focused on salmon, but the work we do touches everything that lives on the landscape — from birds, to bees, to you and to me!
Paul: Ocean forest range here and Olympics are some of the best places on earth to capture carbon. What makes your work out here so vital to that part of the picture?
Evan: Carbon storage is story of our lifetime. We have pumped so much carbon into the atmosphere that we have offset the balance of the system. Protecting and restoring old growth forests, sinks for carbon, is vital. Restoring salt and freshwater marshes and wetlands is also crucial. We can keep carbon locked up in estuary mud or in a 10-foot diameter cedar tree, but if these systems that support these processes are not protected and restored, we are headed down a bad path.
Paul: What are two of your most observable successes thus far in your work here?
Evan: In the last couple years we have tackled some very big projects, though any large wood placed in a stream, any tree planted, or invasive species removed is a success. By far the most observable success was the North Creek culvert project. This project was completed in 2019, restoring full aquatic organism passage to 13 stream miles of pristine habitat on US Forest Service managed lands in the Drift Creek (Siletz) basin. The undersized culvert, installed in 1958, not only blocked adult and juvenile salmon from accessing habitat upstream, but also ceased river processes and degraded habitat above and below the culvert site. The complex project in a remote location was difficult, and 60 years of “Band-Aid” solutions failed because they didn’t address the real problem: the culvert itself.
Paul: A “land ethic” by Aldo Leopold says a lot — riff with it, as in these two quotes:
“When we see land as a community to which we belong, we may begin to use it with love and respect.”
“A thing is right when it tends to preserve the integrity, stability, and beauty of the biotic community. It is wrong when it tends otherwise.”
Evan: We as people often see ourselves as other, as separate from nature, but this couldn’t be more incorrect. We not only breathe the same air as all other beings on this earth, we have by every measure had a greater impact than any.
Paul: Again, if you as director got a $5 million check from nonprofit for your work, no strings attached, what would you use that for?
Evan: Well, a boy can dream, can’t he? I think acquisition of important habitat areas would be high on the list (other than just hiring other staff to help!). Though, giving a better wage and benefits package to our staff and work crew would be a no-brainer.
Paul: Give the young reader some spiel on why they might want to pursue a degree or degrees in the general field of environmental sciences tied to ecology during a time of COVID-19, dwindling budgets for these sorts of jobs and more and more tuition expenses.
Evan: I had a professor at Evergreen (Gerardo Chin-Leo) who liked to say one of my favorite expressions: “Science is the painful expression of the obvious”. He also liked to say “Ecology isn’t rocket science; it is way more complicated than that.” Everything in this world in inextricably connected, the clues are in the interactions of flora and fauna on the landscape. Uncovering these connections and understanding how the work we see today has evolved through millennia of interactions is incredibly enthralling (to me!). These times are hard (COVID), budgets are being slashed in this field, salaries in this line of work have never been great. However, the folks that choose this line of work have a greater calling. Understanding this complex world which we are a part of and working to restore ecosystems is more rewarding that any paycheck could ever be.
Paul: Wood wide web — In your own words, explain this concept, if you have any input around how this concept ties to what you are doing in the “preservation” field.
Evan: This gets at the complexity (it isn’t rocket science!) of the natural world. Above ground we see large trees, growing individually across the landscape. What we don’t see, is the complex system of roots, fungi and microbes below the soil that supports this vast forest. Tree talk to each other, conspire when drought is near, and share resources/nutrients through the fungal networks that have co-evolved with them over millennia. This is the original “community”, and our communities could get a lot of good out of better understanding how to work together towards a shared goal.
Paul: You are working in restorative ecology. Explain that.
Evan: We are working with a degraded landscape. We are also dealing with shifting baselines. Bad enough is the direct impact on habitat over the last 200 or so years, this has gone further to disrupt ecosystem processes that maintain what we think of as a functioning system. Restoring these processes is difficult, but if successful, process-based restoration can reset these systems to be self-sustaining. Though the impact can be quick, the restoration can take centuries. When we plant a tree for long-term recruitment of wood to a stream, it’s full impact won’t be felt for 100 or 200 years.
Paul: Then, you were working in a sort of restorative justice program at Evergreen tied to sustainability in prisons. Expand.
Evan: This is where I lean on the words of Nalini: the power of nature. Everyone who works with SPP sees the power of fresh air and getting your hands dirty. Working in a prison can be a dismal setting — windowless cells, limited outside time, fluorescent lights. This is not a restorative situation. There are major problems with the criminal justice system in this country, I don’t claim to be an expert on this. But I have seen the impact that building a greenhouse in a prison yard can bring. What the nurturing of a tiny plant from seed to flower can do for a person. We worked with prisoners to captive rear Taylor’s Checkerspot butterflies and Oregon spotted frogs in Washington. Watching these “hardened” criminals hand feed and raise these tiny creatures in a prison setting was restorative, for me, and for those individuals. The guys that raised the frogs made hats with “Cedar Creek (Prison) Frog Crew” printed on them, they wore them around the prison like badges of honor.
Paul: Where do you see yourself in 15 years? Location-wise, intellectually speaking, emotionally, and politically?
Evan: Oof. I’ve been so busy lately I’ve just been able to take it day by day. In 15 years, I’ll be 50. I have no idea where this world will be at that point, so I really can’t say where I’ll be either. Long term dreams are important, but right now I’m just thinking about how to get my projects on the ground for this summer…
Stop cutting down trees for biomass… STOP WOODY BIOMASS!
That should be a bumper sticker on every vehicle in America and around the world as easy-to-read bumper stickers are more effective than many forms of advertising. And, just for starters, maybe plaster that new biomass bumper sticker over the old one that reads: “My child is an honor student at….” Oh! Please!
According to LSA – University of Colorado/Boulder, wood accounts for 79% of biomass production and accounts for 3.2% of energy production. Wood dominates the worldwide biomass industry.
For perspective purposes, a paid lobbyist on behalf of trees could rightfully claim: (1) Trees cool and moisten our air and fill it with oxygen. (2) They calm the winds and shade the land from sunlight. (3) They shelter countless species, anchor the soil, and slow the movement of water. (4) They provide food, fuel, medicines, and building materials for human activity. (5) They also help balance Earth’s carbon budget. Name another organism with credentials like that!
Meanwhile, the worldwide woody biomass industry consumes forests, gobbling up trees by the minute. But, it’s a wayward ruse to classify woody biomass as “carbon neutral.” It is not carbon neutral. It’s a carbon emitter, the antithesis of clean renewable energy.
A 1,000-kilowatt-hour wood-pellet power plant, enough to power 1,000 homes, emits a total of 1,275 grams of CO2 per kilowatt-hour of electricity generated. That’s according to Dr. Puneet Dwivedi, a research professor at the University of Georgia. By way of comparison, a 1,000-kilowatt-hour coal plant emits 1,048 grams of CO2 per kilowatt-hour. The net result is that coal produces 227 grams less CO2 than the biomass plant. Hmm.1
Meantime, a study at ETH Zurich suggests that a massive expansion of the world’s forests by 1/3 could be the most effective way to tackle climate change. That’s the opposite of cutting forests for biomass purposes. Let the trees stay in place and suck up CO2.2
According to the study, the influx of 1/3 more trees would buy humanity time by adding 20 years to meet climate targets. By keeping that many additional trees rather than felling, it effectively “locks-up 205 gigatonnes of CO2.” It’s significant as humanity emits 37 gigatonnes per year. Additionally, the “scale up of the world’s forests by one-third” helps meet IPCC guidelines to hold temp rises to 1.5°C pre-industrial, assuming temperatures are not already overshooting, an issue of some contention. Which depends a lot upon which baseline is used.
The trade-off between “saving/enlarging forests” rather than “burning trees” is consequential for several reasons, including, the U.S. Energy Information Agency estimates that for each 1% added to current U.S. electricity production from forest biomass an additional 18% increase in U.S. forest harvest is required. At that rate, by the time woody biomass is a meaningful slice of electricity production, the nation’s forests would be leveled.
How long does it take forests to regrow?
Furthermore, is it really possible to regrow a natural efficient forest ecosystem once it has been denuded of key organic life? No.
A Columbia University study argues for leaving trees alone: “Is Biomass Really Renewable?” State of the Planet, Earth Institute/Columbia University, Updated October 19, 2016, to wit: “Cutting or clearing forests for energy, either to burn trees or to plant energy crops, releases carbon into the atmosphere that would have been sequestered had the trees remained untouched, and the regrowing and thus recapture of carbon can take decades or even a century. Moreover, carbon is emitted in the biomass combustion process, resulting in a net increase of CO2.”
Additionally, according to the Columbia study: “Most of the new biomass electricity generating plants being proposed in the U.S. will burn wood. Plants in the Southeast U.S. are churning out wood pellets to meet Europe’s increasing need for wood. Last year, wood pellet exports from the Southeast increased 70 percent; the Southern U.S. is now the largest exporter of wood pellets in the world. Since there isn’t enough logging residue to meet the increased demand for biomass, many fear that more standing trees will be chopped and more forests clear-cut.”
The overriding issue is that woody biomass negatively impacts climate change, the health of people, and the overall environment. Yet, the market is growing by leaps and bounds in Europe and the U.S. Go figure!
According to Earth Institute, woody biomass power plants actually produce more “global warming CO2” than fossil fuel plants; i.e., 65% more CO2 per megawatt hour than modern coal plants and 285% more CO2 than natural gas combined cycle plants (which use both a gas and steam turbine together). This analysis confirms the conclusion of several similar university-level studies that woody biomass is inefficient and thus a sensible rationale for outright banning of woody biomass.
Furthermore, according to Earth Institute, burning wood biomass emits as much, if not more, air pollution than burning fossil fuels – particulate matter, nitrogen oxides, carbon monoxide, sulfur dioxide, lead, mercury, and other hazardous air pollutants – which can cause cancer or reproductive effects.
The “air pollution emitted by biomass facilities,” which the American Heart Association and the American Lung Association have called “a danger to public health,” produces respiratory illnesses, heart disease, cancer, and developmental delays in children.” (Earth Institute)
Nevertheless, in 2009 the EU committed to 20% renewable energy by 2020, including biomass (heavily sourced by forests, especially from Canada and the U.S.) as a renewable-energy, which it categorized as “carbon neutral.” This was done to meet obligations under the Paris climate agreement of 2015. Several other countries followed with commitments to “subsidize” biomass development.
As a result, today 50% of EU renewable energy is based upon biomass, and it is on the rise. Expect a command performance of massive growth by biomass in upcoming years.
For example, in the UK, the Drax Group converted 4 of 6 coal-generating units to biomass, powering 12% of UK electricity for 4 million households. The Drax biomass plant has an enormous appetite for wood; e.g., in less than two hours an entire freight train of wooden pellets goes up in smoke, spewing out smoke signals that spell “O Canada” and “Say, can you see… By the dawn’s early light.”
According to Drax’s PR department, their operation has slashed CO2 by over 80% since 2012, claiming to be “the largest decarbonization project in Europe.”3
Ahem! When scientists analyzed Drax’s claims, they do not hold up. Not even close!
When wood pellets burn, Drax assumes the released carbon is “recaptured instantly by new growth.” That is a fairy tale.
According to John Sherman, an expert on Complex Systems Analysis at MIT: The carbon debt payback time for forests in the eastern US, where Drax’s wood pellets originated, compared to burning coal, under the best-case scenario, when all harvested land regrows as a forest, the wood pellet “payback time” is 44 to 104 years. Whoa!
Alas, not only is the carbon payback nearly a lifetime when using wood, but according to Sherman: “Because the combustion and processing efficiencies for wood are less than coal, the immediate impact of substituting wood for coal is an increase in atmospheric CO2 relative to coal. This means that every megawatt-hour of electricity generated from wood produces more CO2 than if the power station had remained coal-fired.”
Study after study after study finds that burning coal instead of woody biomass reduces the impact of CO2 atmospheric emissions. Coal is the winner, but problematically coal has already been cast into no-man’s land as a horrific polluter. Therefore, this scenario is a massive complexity as countries have committed to using trees to meet carbon neutral status, but the end results are diametrical to their stated intentions.
Therefore, a preeminent question arises: Why continue using woody biomass if it emits more CO2 per kilowatt-hour than coal?
Alas, not only is it insane to burn trees, but burning “forest residues” rather than whole trees also produces a net emissions impact of 55%-79% greater than direct emissions after 10 years. This is based upon analysis by Mary Booth, an ecosystem ecologist and a director of the Partnership for Policy Integrity, Pelham, Massachusetts.
According to scientist Bill Moomaw, co-author of the Nobel Peace Prize-Winning Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report and co-author of four additional IPCC reports and widely recognized as one of the world’s leading experts on “carbon sinks”: “If we let some of our forests grow, we could remove an additional 10 to 20 percent of what we emit every year. Instead, we’re paying subsidies to have people cut them down, burning them in place of coal, and counting it as zero carbon.”4)
Dr. Moomaw led a group of 800 scientists that petitioned the EU parliament (January 2018) to “end its support for biomass.”
In June 2018, the EU Commission voted to keep biomass listed as a renewable energy, joined in their position by the support of the U.S. and Britain.
Under the influence of U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue, the 2018 fiscal spending bill, as directed by Congress, instructed federal agencies to pass policies that “reflect the carbon-neutrality of biomass.” Among the many benefits mentioned by Congress, three seem almost Orwellian. Oops, scratch that. They are Orwellian, to wit: “To promote environmental stewardship by improving soil and water quality, reducing wildfire risk, and helping ensure our forests continue to remove carbon from the atmosphere.”
Congress’s emphasis on biomass that fells trees “ensuring that our forests continue to remove carbon from the atmosphere.” Really?
What about reams upon reams of scientific analyses that conclude it is a huge mistake to fell forests for biomass?
In the final analysis, the sorrowful impact of woody biomass can be summed up by two short sentences: (1) Wood-pellet power plants emit more CO2 into the atmosphere than coal-powered plants. (2) If forests are left alone an additional 10% to 20% of human-generated CO2 emissions are absorbed by the forests every year. Ipso facto, nature does the dirty work all by itself… for free!
“A Burning Question: Throw Wood on the Fire for 21st-Century Electricity?” CNBC, September 15, 2017.
“Billions of Extra Trees May Give Us 20 Years to Tackle Climate Change”, NewScientist, July 4, 2019.
“Biomass Energy: Green or Dirty?” Environment & Energy – Feature Article, January 8, 2020.
“Europe’s Renewable Energy Policy is Built on Burning American Trees”, Vox, March 4, 2019 — this article was endorsed by the Pulitzer Center