Monday, March 24, 2014

What Did We Learn From the Exxon Valdez Oil Spill?

Photo by LJ Evans
It's March 24th, again. This time it's 25 years since the Exxon Valdez ran up on the rocks of Bligh Reef and spread death and destruction throughout Prince William Sound.

The world loves an anniversary, especially big ones such as a quarter of a century. But it doesn't really mean much. Yes, it happened twenty-five years ago. Yes, those of us who were there remember that Spring and Summer that would never end.

Photo by Michael A. Lewis
Memories are dredged up by the photographs of dying animals, desperate attempts to rescue the few that survived, some only temporarily. It was a horrible experience for those of us who were there.

Did we learn anything from the Exxon Valdez oil spill. Depends on what one means by "we."

Judging by the number of single occupant cars that zoom by my bedroom window of a week day morning commute, I'd say no, "we" didn't learn much of anything at all.

"We" are still dependent on traveling on our butts in a vehicle fueled by oil drawn from once pristine wild lands, at the expense of all life that once lived there.

Photo by Michael A. Lewis
"We" still make obscene profits from wresting fossil "fuels" from the earth and burning it to produce motion and electricity, while "we" pocket the profits and externalize the environmental costs.

"We" still leave lights on, leave the water running, import exotic food from agribiz farms thousands of miles away, ship materials and products all over the world for the least expense and greatest profit.

What have "we" learned from the Exxon Valdez oil spill? Not a damned thing.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

I am a long-time proponent of anarchism, the body of thought regarding a social system based on non-hierarchical, decentralized, self-rule; that is, rules but no rulers.

I am forced to admit that human beings are not capable of sustaining such a society.

For the past couple of years, I've been involved in an attempt to protect a section of coastal California from a small, dedicated, vociferous, group of people intent on continuing their practice of allowing their dogs to run off-leash despite local leash laws prohibiting the practice.

At first, this might seem a contradiction. Laws? Illegal? Rules? Rulers? What does this have to do with anarchy?

Not much... and everything.

The off-leash dog proponents claim it is their right to allow their dogs to run off-leash whenever and wherever they want, despite ample evidence that off-leash dogs attack and injure people, other dogs and wildlife. It is clear that the common good requires rules restricting people from allowing their domesticated animals to roam freely in shared public space, hence, in our non-anarchic society, leash laws.

There seems to be a growing movement in the United States (the only country I know) of disregarding laws by considering them "obsolete." It's part, I think, of the "on demand" society created, at least in part, by the ubiquitous presence of television, computers, "smart" phones ( a "dumb" idea), and other instantaneous access technology that reduces human attention span, increases demand for material possessions and increasingly emphasizes personal individuality and desires over the common good.

Thus, those who want to go to the beach with their dogs off-leash seem to see this as an "entitlement" that no one else has any right to tell them they cannot do. They want it. They want it now. Any rules that stand in the way are "obsolete" because they don't agree with them.

"You don't know me well enough to tell me what to do" is the oft-heard and experienced attitude.

This trend, if it is a trend, is 180 degrees away from the ideals of anarchy. In this world view, every individual is an authority, there is no common good, the needs and desires of society are subservient to the needs and desires of the individual.

So we're stuck with some form of hierarchical society until Homo sapiens grows up enough to take responsibility for its individual self and relearns the concept of responsibility to the wider society.

Monday, March 03, 2014

A River (of Opportunity) Runs Through It (TR)

A River Runs Through It: Santa Cruz alliance working to re-brand the San Lorenzo - Santa Cruz Sentinel

The insufferable irony of this headline and story is overwhelming.

"A River Runs Through It" is a magnificent novel by Norman Maclean telling the story of the relationship of a man to a free running river. It is not a story about co-opting a river for personal aggrandizement and profit.

The San Lorenzo River was first "branded" by ignorant humans who built a town on the floodplain, then whined when the river reclaimed its own. They "re-branded" the river by building levees along its course to keep it out of their living rooms. They "re-branded" the most biologically productive estuary on this part of the coast by filling it in and building an amusement park and parking lot in its place.

Now, yet again, ignorant humans want to "re-brand" what's left of the river, making it into an extension of the Boardwalk amusement park, just another fun ride indistinguishable from the green monstrosity dominating the mouth of the river.

No matter that the river is already populated by wildlife that must flee in the face of a flotilla of fun seekers.

It's all about growth. It's all about business. It's all about turning the entire world into commodities for human consumption and profit.

What does economic development have to do with this "coastal watershed"?

Humans are not the only species on Earth. We just act like it.

"Man is the only animal that blushes... or needs to." Mark Twain

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Merry Christmas, Pigs!

It's that time of year again, like it or not. Round these parts, this piece by Cactus Ed has become a Christmas tradition.


Merry Christmas, Pigs! 
By Edward Abbey
from Abbey's Road

Scrooge was right. What I like best about Christmas in the desert is the conspicuous absence of Christmas. By late December the cone-nosed humbugs are gone and all the horny elf toads retired into their burrows for the season. When somebody asks me what I think of Christmas (nobody ever does), I reply, "Not much." Easy to avoid it out here in the rocks.

Think about Ebeneezer Scrooge and Bobby Riggs, the twin patron saints of us middle-aged cryptoliberals. Cryptoliberal? Well, sure, why not? I have been called other names even worse. Misanthrope. Sexist. Elitist. Crank. Barbarian. Anarcho-syndicalist. Wild conservative. And my favorite, from a Maoist lady in New York--she called me a creeping Fascist hyena. Quite true, so far as it goes (you can't please everybody), but they forget to add that I am a pig lover too.

The pig I'm talking about is the one known also as a peccary or javelina, the wild pig of the Arizona desert; not a true pig exactly, according to zoologists, but a good approximation--a close relation. Close enough for me, and the javelina, commonly defined as a "wild pig-like animal," is the best kind of pig. Though that definition, come to think of it, is a shade too broad. Some of my best friends qualify as wild pig-like animals without half trying. But that's another issue. The fault of the permissive social atmosphere, the Bill of Rights, the general weakening of moral fibers everywhere you look.

Back to my topic: Christmas and pigs. Have you ever stood alone under the full moon in the prickly cholla-mesquite desert on the night before Christmas and found yourself surrounded by a herd of hungry, snuffling, anxiety-ridden javelinas? I have, and it's a problematic situation: some of those little fifty pound beasts carry tusks and have been known to charge a full-grown man right up the hairy trunk of a saguaro cactus. That's the story I've been told by old-timers around here.

In any case, this part is true: I was surrounded by javelinas while O'Ryan [sic] chased the Seven Sisters around the Big Bear and the moon looked kindly down. To say that I was nervous would have been an overexaggeration. Though unarmed and on foot, I was happy, at ease, and comfortably drunk.

The herd of javelinas was aware of my presence. The mind of a wild pig is unpredictable. These couldn't make up their minds whether to run or stay. After a while, since I made no move, they stayed. I could see them plain in the bright moonshine: parody pigs with oversized heads and undersized hams; each one bristly as a wire brush. They trotted from bush to bush and cactus to cactus, anxious restive fellows, all fits and starts, busy, busy, busy. I was accepted, but not welcome; they hoped I wouldn't stay. As I watched, I heard the sound of their vigorous jaws at work--a crunching of jojoba nuts, the munching of prickly pear. In all nature there's no sound more pleasing than a hungry animal at its feed. Ask any cattleman or farmboy.

Down by Aravaipa Creek I heard the barking of a fox. An owl called. Everybody out shopping for supper.

There was a good strong odor in the air, the rank and racy musk of half-alarmed javelinas. I like that smell, just as I enjoy the smell (at a comfortable distance) of skunk out looking for trouble. Associations: the wild tang of skunk brings back October nights, raccoons and baying hounds, the big woods and foggy hills of Old Pennsylvania. That smell means Arizona too; a border wolf, a desert bighorn, a mountain lion crouched on a ledge above the deer path in the chapparal. Good smells, good things, important, hard to find on Speedway in Tucson or Central Avenue up in Phoenix.

Now and then one of the larger javelinas, suffering from curiosity, would come close to me, sniff, advance, and retreat, trying to figure out exactly what this thing is that stands there like a bush that breathes but smells like Jim Beam, moves a little. Suspicious; from time to time, a ripple of panic passed through the herd like a wave through water. They knew something was wrong, but didn't know what. One minute they're on the point of exploding in all directions, pig fashion. A minute later they forget the danger, start feeding again.

Then what happened? An angel came down from the stars in a long white robe to give us a lecture on the meaning of Christmas? No. I'll admit I have a weakness for simple fact, even if it spoils the story. Maybe that's the main difference between a serious literary artist like me and one of your ordinary sports columnists, say, who writes for the newspaper. But I don't want to make any harsh judgments here; this is supposed to be the season of goodwill toward people. Sports columnists too. And wild pigs.

As my hero Ebeneezer says, if the spirit of Christmas is more than humbug then we're obliged to extend it to all creatures great and small including men, women, children, foreigners, Mexicans, coyotes, scorpions Gila monsters, snakes, centipedes, millipedes, termites and the wild pigs of the Arizona desert. That's the reason the Arizona Game and Fish Department puts off javelina season until January. Out of a decent respect for that annual outburst of love and goodwill we call Christmas.

As for the herd of javelinas snorting around me, the truth is, nothing much of anything happened. In fact, I got bored first, tired of simulating a saguaro cactus. I picked up a couple of rocks, in case one of those husky beasts with the tusks came at me, and tiptoed off through the prickly pear. I did not wish to disturb my friends, but they took alarm anyway, erupting in various directions. Would take them an hour to reassemble. None charged me. Despite many meetings with javelinas, I have yet to come eyeball to eyeball with one. Even though I've charged them a few times, out of meanness, just to see them run.

If I were good and hungry, would I eat a javelina? Yes. I'd roast its head in a pit of mesquite coals and scramble my eggs with its brains. I have no quarrel with any man who kills one of God's creatures in order to feed his women and children and old folks. Nothing could be more right and honorable, when the need is really there. I believe humanity made a serious mistake when our ancestors gave up the hunting and gathering life for agriculture and towns. That's when they invented the slave, the serf, the master, the commissar, the bureaucrat, the capitalist, and the five-star general. Wasn't it farming made a murderer of Cain? Nothing but trouble and grief ever since, with a few comforts thrown here and there, now and then, like bourbon and ice cubes and free beer on the Fourth of July, mainly to stretch out the misery.

Sermons aside, the javelinas and I parted company that moonlight night with no hard feelings, I hope, on either part. They had the whole east slope of Brandenburg Mountain to ramble over, and I had my cabin to crawl back into, where I keep my bearskin and this neurotic typewriter with a mind of its own. Christmas or no Christmas, it does my chilly Calvinist heart a lot of good to know those javelinas are still out there in the brush, pursuing happiness in their ancient piglike manner. What would Arizona be without a Game and Fish Department? Without a Sportsmen's Association? Hard to say. I wonder. But what would Arizona be without wild pigs? Why, no wonder at all. Arizona would be another poor, puny, poverty-struck antheap like California, not fit for man or his dog.

Happy Christmas, brother and sister. Long live the weeds and the wilderness. Merry New Year, pigs!

Friday, November 15, 2013

So Long Arana Gulch!

The most egregious example of local bureaucratic cock-ups came to a head today with the ceremonial groundbreaking for the deservedly delayed and much opposed $6 million Broadway-Brommer Bike Road.

Long opposed by real environmentalists, the Broadway-Brommer project has suffered a spotty history over the last twenty years. Originally conceived as a street for cars connecting Broadway in the City to Brommer Street in Live Oak, the project was axed by Santa Cruz City officials in response to environmental opposition. Later, as a paved bike road, the project was again laid to rest by a subsequent City Council.

Nevertheless, City Public Works staff, reluctant to lose out on one-and-a-half million dollars of "free"federal money, revived the moribund project. Over the years, the B-B morphed from a car road, to a Class One Bicycle Commuter route with an enormous bridge spanning Arana Creek, to a curving, up and down bike road with bridges over Hagemann Creek and Arana Creek. Finally, donning funny nose and glasses, B-B was disguised as a "multi-use interpretive trail," as the overwhelmingly dominant component of the yet to be implemented Arana Gulch Master Plan.

The B-B project follows the historical government tradition of "destroying the village to save it." Since all of Arana Gulch is declared Critical Habitat for the endangered Santa Cruz tarplant, Public Works staff struggled to find some way to justify building a paved road through the fragile species' only home. City officials had to find some way to make the project "resource dependent" to satisfy California Coastal Commission regulations for development in Sensitive Habitat Areas, such as Arana Gulch.

Thus was born the "interpretive trail." No, it's not a different route. Yes, it still paves over critical habitat of an endangered species. But now the project has interpretive signs that will describe what was lost when this Natural Area was drawn and quartered, north to south and east to west, by an 8 foot wide asphalt paved road with two feet of graded shoulder on either side, where nothing will grow.

The Boondoggle took it's first wee steps this week, kicked into a mockery of life with the traditional celebratory groundbreaking. Scores of brightly bedecked bicyclists joined toothy City Fathers... and one Mother, in the bright noon sun. A massive diesel backhoe supplied the necessary technology, mysteriously idling for no apparent reason, adding it's diesel fumes to the rapidly accumulating hot air.

To "Balance" this display of bureaucratic excess, Friends of Arana Gulch, a stalwart group of caring environmentalists who have consistently opposed the Broadway-Brommer project lo these many years, arrived in funereal black to mourn the demise of the Arana Gulch Greenbelt. Bearing signs saying, "Good-bye to the Greenbelt," "Shame," "Less trees, less grass, less wildflowers, less wildlife," "Is Broadway-Brommer really needed?" and "Save it, don't pave it," the Friends stood in silent vigil for the animals, plants and insects who have no say in the future of their home in Arana Gulch.

The assembled officials donned unfamiliar hardhats, grabbed golden-painted shovels, and, after instructions on which end to point at the ground, posed for the obligatory photographs. They scraped meager scratches into the hard packed earth, gratefully returned the shovels to those who know how to use them, and decanted into the crowd for obsequious self-congratulations. 

Thus the fate of the Arana Gulch Greenbelt was signed, sealed and delivered. No longer a Natural Area, now an incipient Park for human recreation, and a paved shortcut for bicyclists in a hurry, Arana Gulch passes into history along with its sensitive species, unique habitat, its quiet, its open space, its true value. 

Arana Gulch is now just another anonymous feature in the urban development that has inundated the landscape from Moore Creek to Valencia Creek, from the Santa Cruz Mountains to the Pacific Ocean.

So long Arana Gulch! 
It was good to have known you.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

It's Simple - Enforce the Leash Law

In a long running debate, a group of dog owners lobbying for exemption from Santa Cruz County leash laws loudly proclaim they are going to continue to let their dogs off leash no matter the law, and that enforcement of the leash law doesn’t work because there are still dogs off-leash on County beaches. This is a circular argument (that is, “I still break the law, so enforcement doesn’t work”) that is used as an excuse to demand that law breakers be exempted from the law.

"Enforcement" does not mean 100% compliance. No law ever achieves total compliance, no matter how stringently it is enforced. There are always individuals who decide to flout the law and take the risk of getting tickets or being arrested. 
Fortunately, we live in a society where the majority of the people obey most of the laws, and there is no need for an overweening police state to maintain public safety and order. It is only when the illegal acts of a minority group infringe on the rights of the majority that legal pressure must increasingly be brought to bear to protect public health and safety and maintain order in the community.
Such is the case with off leash dogs on County beaches. A small group of dog owners has decided that their desire to allow their dogs to run off leash on local beaches should take precedence over the desires of the rest of beach users for a beach experience unmarred by dogs running uncontrolled. The dog owners have organized to avoid getting tickets from Animal Services officers’ attempts to enforce County leash laws, as they let their dogs loose daily on local beaches.
Meanwhile, the dog owners who admit to breaking the leash laws have the audacity to lobby County government to not only overlook their illegal actions, but to suspend County Leash Laws on the beach in order to allow them to continue to run their dogs off leash. Leash laws were written and are enforced to protect public health and safety, the health and safety of other dogs, and to protect sensitive wildlife and habitats. These off leash dog owners claim their desires trump public health and safety, their own animals’ safety and County, state, federal and international wildlife regulations.
It’s time to put a stop to this egregious “off leash dog gang” behavior. There are 12 off leash dog parks in the County where dog owners legally can let their dogs run off-leash for exercise and socialization, without putting other park users at risk. 
If dog owners continue to blatantly ignore existing off-leash dog areas and continue to illegally allow their dogs to run off-leash in shared pubic space, they should be ticketed and prosecuted to the full extent of the law. No “half-price” sales, but full and escalating fines for these repeat offenders. Let them take responsibility for their disregard for the law and stop asking for a free ride from County government.
It’s hard and it’s fair.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Dear Mr. President: Hands Off Syria!

Dear Mr. President:

Do not, under any circumstances, attack Syria.

Your message sent out as an email following your speech on Syria contains several misstatements of fact:

1) “...we have resisted calls for military action because we cannot resolve someone else's civil war through force.” This statement is the heighth of hypocrisy. The American CIA has armed and trained opposition soldiers in Jordan and sent them into Syria to fight against the Assad government. This is unauthorized military action akin to President Reagan’s illegal arming of the Contras in Nicaragua.

2) Your administration has failed to provide any evidence to back up the claim that the Assad government launched chemical weapons against opposition forces. Furthermore, you have ignored evidence that the chemical weapons incident was initiated by opposition forces funded and supplied by Saudi Arabia's intelligence chief Prince Bandar bin Sultan Al Saud.

3) Syria provides no more threat to the security of the United States than does Israel, which possesses chemical and nuclear weapons and the capability to deliver them throughout the Middle East. We send billions of dollars of “aid” (read, military arms) to Israel in response to intensive lobbying by pro-Israeli organizations in the United States. The true intent of American involvement is to destabilize Syria in order to isolate and threaten Iran, the last in the chain of anti-Israeli countries in the Middle East.

Mr. President, democracy does not consist of “Americans stand[ing] together as one people.” Democracy is rule by the people, not by a President who takes the powers of war-making away from them.

Stop the war propaganda. Stop the saber rattling. Withdraw from the eastern Mediterranean and start working, as a statesman rather than a tyrant, to bring peace to the Middle East.

Sunday, September 08, 2013

Ask Your President These Questions:

Top 10 Unproven Claims for War Against Syria | Alternet

1) What is the evidence that a chemical weapon was used in Syria?

2) What is the evidence the the Assad administration used chemicals weapons and not one of the opposition groups?

3) What is the evidence that chemicals weapons were used by the Assad administration because conventional weapons were inadequate?

4) What is the evidence that Assad administration was observed mixing chemical weapons?

5) What is the evidence that Assad's brother ordered the chemical attack?

6) What is the evidence that chemical agents were released in a rocket attack?

7) What is the evidence that 1,429 people were killed in the chemical attack?

8) When, where and by whom were the videos taken of the aftermath of the chemical attack?

9) Make the original, untranslated transcript of intercepts available showing Assad administration involvement in chemical attack.

10) What is the evidence for shelling of the area of the chemical attack to cover up evidence of sarin use?

Friday, September 06, 2013

The Emperor's New Outfit

Now that the Oval One II has politely asked Congress for permission to turn loose his Navy on Syria (prepositioned in the eastern Med before the alleged chemical weapons attack), it's time for his handlers to unleash the next militaristic adventure: the propaganda war against the American people.

Noam Chomsky and Edward S. Herman wrote a book called Manufacturing Consent: the Political Economy of Mass Media, in which they detailed how national and international news is structured, controlled and packaged by elite economic and political players in favor of their preferred outcomes.

In "The Grand Narrative for War: Manufacturing Consent on Syria," Anthony DiMaggio updates Chomsky and Herman's work, bringing it into the headlines of the Obama administration's salivating desire to bomb the hell out of yet another small nation that obstreperously refuses to bow down to the American Empire (TM). CNN leads the charge with ("How Bashar al-Assad took Syria to the brink -- and beyond"), pounding the drums of war in a race to be the first to bow before the Emperor and kiss his unshod feet.

Even though each and every national poll reveals that the American people, and most of the rest of the world, are overwhelmingly opposed to a unilateral military attack on Syria by the United States government, the Powers That Be (PTB) manufacturing the Emperor's New Outfit are spinning their cloth made up of the warp of disinformation and the woof of lies. PTB designers are busy crafting the new look, PTB word-weavers are spinning their threads and shaping their cloths of headlines, sound bites and peurile pundit prevarications.

Soon the full suit of clothes of the New Look will be revealed as the Oval One II parades down the media runway, to the pliant applause of the terminally entrenched. Critics will acclaim the New Look. The punditocracy will adopt the New Style. Congress will adopt and defend the Emperor's taste in haberdashery. 

Maybe, if we're very lucky, despite the glare of the stage lights and the blare of the band, those with eyes to see and ears to hear, if there be any left, will note the true transparency of the new garments. 

Stay tuned.

Wednesday, September 04, 2013

Lies and Disinformation in Old al-Sham

From this article:
Syria “Wag the Dog”. Towards a Major Mideast War? | Global Research
we learn:

1) "According to Israeli on-line intel news Debkafile, several days before the chemical attack in Damascus hundreds of armed rebels crossed over into Syria from a newly established CIA base in Jordan. The rebels were led by US commanders." They were trained and armed by the US CIA

2) "Centcom, the US military command for the Middle East, has established a new underground war room near Amman, Jordan, for the purpose of commanding Syrian operations. Recently, General Martin Dempsey, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, visited Amman to inaugurate the new forward command center."

 This is the second step in the decades-old Neocon plan for a ring of "regime-changed" countries around Israel, protecting the US Empire's forward bastion in the Middle East and monopolizing access to Mideast oil.

Don't be fooled by the Oval One II, any "limited" attack on Syria will be only the first step in a protracted imperialist war by the United States in the Middle east. The plan is to sear Syria seriously, kick Assad aside, erase Iran and consolidate Middle East oil resources for the United States and its favored minion states.

This could well represent the beginning of the ultimate end of the US Empire, as the US government overextends its military in the Middle east quagmire. "Shock and Awe" only works once, if it works at all. Ultimately the US government must commit money, men and materiel to subdue and maintain its imperium. Meanwhile, economic and social conditions will continue to deteriorate at home, requiring ever more surveillance,  oppression, restrictions on civil rights, ignoring and shredding the Constitution of the Unted States of America, if there is anything left after the Patriot Act.

Oligarchs and tyrants have never been much on history. While history doesn't repeat itself, it often rhymes. The Arabic name for the area now occupied by Syria is "al-Sham."  One may as well call it "Roobi-kahn."

Tuesday, September 03, 2013

Syrian rebels armed and trained by CIA 'on way to battlefield'

First Syria rebels armed and trained by CIA 'on way to battlefield' - Telegraph

Wait a minute! Since when did we start training and arming one side in a civil war in a sovereign nation, and send them into battle from another country?

Oh wait. Contras, Nicaragua, Ronald Reagan. Iran/Contra.

Oh yeah, I forgot.

Ronald Reagan got into trouble while he slept through the Iran/Contra affair, supplying arms and training to the Contras.

So this is all right now? This is official United States government policy?

I wondered what all that shredded parchment was on the Oval Office floor.

Saturday, August 31, 2013

The Future is Less, not More

Wendell Berry has a knack for quietly, succinctly and effectively getting to the core of any subject. In the September The Progressive, Berry's article "Less Energy, More Life" takes on our dependence on fossil fuels and misguided attempts to replace fossil fuels with clean  "renewable" energy courses.

Berry sums it up neatly in one paragraph:
"We must understand that fossil fuel energy must be replaced, not just by "clean" energy, but also by less energy. The unlimited use of any energy would be destructive as unlimited economic growth or any unlimited force."
 As we have said for decades, the future is less, not more. Unlimited growth is impossible, and ultimately destructive, in a world of finite resources. The glimmering dream of a clean energy future, in which we live as we do now, is not only misguided, it leads us in the same direction we are already headed, that is over the cliff of unlimited growth.

Scientists have long wondered why, in the vastness of the Universe, we've never heard from any other "civilizations" on any of the billions of planets that must be suitable for life as we would recognize it. I've long thought that the reason we don't is because there is a finite limit to resources on any planet. Exploitative species such as ours cannot develop to the point of extra-terrestrial migration, a la Star Trek before running into resource limitation, or before destroying themselves through over exploitation of resources.
R. Crumb

Let's face it. This is it, and this is all there will ever be. We're over the edge of the energy curve
starting down the steep slope to a stable, truly renewable energy society.

Hang on tight, it's a rocky ride before it gets smoother!

Monday, August 26, 2013

U.S. Beats the Drums of War Against Syria

Pop Quiz!!

Raise your hands if you know that the United States government is planning a unilateral attack on Syria, allegedly because Syria used poison gas weapons against Al-Qaeda supported rebels.

Yes, you read that correctly, the United States is supporting Al-Qaeda.

Read it here:  U.S. moves closer to military action against Syria

and here: Syrian Rebels Tied to Al Qaeda Play Key Role in War

Read it and weep... for the dying empire.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Oiling the War Machinery

Norman Solomon makes a persuasive case for awarding Bradley Manning the Nobel peace prize in Oiling the War Machinery.
As a nation at peace becomes a fading memory, so does privacy. Commitments to idealism -- seeking real alternatives to war and upholding democratic values -- are under constant assault from the peaks of power. 
Normalizing endless war and shameless surveillance, Uncle Sam and Big Brother are no longer just close. They’re the same, with a vast global reach.

American "Democracy" is not broken. This is the way it is constructed.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Santa Cruz County beaches are thriving natural habitat for numerous species of wildlife and plants. It is not a sacrifice zone to be thoughtlessly discarded in favor of human recreation and amusement.

It is sad to note that such habitat is rare in Santa Cruz County, so much so that shore bird numbers have declined precipitously as their feeding, resting and breeding areas have been destroyed by development and dominated by human activity.

Recently, local dog owners have pressured Santa Cruz County officials to allow dogs to run off-leash on Santa Cruz County beaches, in the very spot where this egret is feeding.

Shore birds perceive dogs as predators, especially off-leash dogs roaming free across the beach and uplands. The birds take flight, interrupting their feeding, resting and nesting behaviors, reducing their viability in their home habitat.

It is important to protect and preserve the remaining natural habitat on Santa Cruz beaches, which are a critical part of the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. Dogs must be kept on-leash and County leash laws must be strictly enforced.
"Examine each question in terms of what is ethically and esthetically right, as well as what is economically expedient. 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." Aldo Leopold

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Plover killed by off-leash dog

Wardens look into death of endangered plover

An off-leash dog killed a nearly fledged endangered piping plover on a beach in south Maine. The beach has off-leash hours from sunrise to 9 AM, and areas where dogs are required to be kept 150 feet from plover habitat.

In a follow-up story, Dog's owner steps forward in killing of protected Maine bird, officials explain that the dog owner has come froward and that the owner may not be fined.

The video and text exhibit a remarkable complacency about dogs on the beach and their devastating effects on wildlife. The incident also shows clearly that off-leash hours on the beach place wildlife at risk, no matter how many signs and exclosures are put up to protect sensitive species and habitat.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Forest Service or People Service?

I find it interesting that this press release from the Forest Service's Northern Research Station in Durham, New Hampshire, draws common-sense conclusions about the relationship between tree growth and atmospheric CO2 concentration.
"Our analysis suggests that rising atmospheric carbon dioxide is having a direct and unexpectedly strong influence on ecosystem processes and biosphere-atmosphere interactions in temperate and boreal forests," 
 Who'd a thunk it?

And yet, the author(s) of the press release, not content with such a simple and accurate conclusion, continue on into the land of speculation and hyperbole by adding:
"reduced evapotranspiration resulting from higher water-use efficiency could lead to higher air temperatures, decreased humidity, and decreased recycling of continental precipitation. This could cause increased continental freshwater runoff, along with drought in parts of the world that rely on water transpired in other regions." (Emphasis added)
thus, joining the cadres of global warming and anthropogenic climate change proponents who turn their backs on science for political and economic gain.

After all,
"The mission of the U.S. Forest Service is to sustain the health, diversity, and productivity of the nation’s forests and grasslands to meet the needs of present and future generations."
"The mission of the Forest Service’s Northern Research Station is to improve people’s lives and help sustain the natural resources in the Northeast and Midwest through leading-edge science and effective information delivery."
Just as I suspected: The Forest Service is all about people and very little about forests. It is, after all, under the Department of Agriculture.

Saturday, May 04, 2013

Never Forget Kent State

It's important to remember that Kent State was not an isolated incident. It was part of a pattern of history of our country, a pattern that continues today.

We've been watching "The Kennedys," a Canadian mini-series about the iconic Kennedy dynasty. It was controversial when it was first aired, partly due to some inaccuracies, but mostly because it challenges the popular image of the young, idealistic President and his family. The truth is sordid, grey, mundane human emotions and aspirations, just like everyday life. Grasping for power and influence. Opportunistic alliances among organized crime, government officials and the security establishment. All of which led to the Kennedy assassinations and the abomination of US hegemony that came after.

The startling public events of the 60s and 70s, assassinations, blatant quelling of dissent, militaristic confrontation, have given way to steady, day-to-day oppression, media control, covert intervention and overt invasion and occupation. The principles on which the United States was allegedly founded are ignored and rank expediency has taken their place. Government no longer serves the people, nor even cares what the people think, even those who do think, and act. The art of control has been honed to such a fine state that it blends invisibly with popular culture.

Kent State must never be forgotten. It was the warning shot across the bow, that, alas, has been forgotten or outgrown. It was the end of the beginning of the end of democracy.


Wednesday, April 17, 2013

The Real Limits of the Earth

Scientific American Blogs presents Part 1 of a disappointing two-part post on limits to growth: The Limits of the Earth, Part 1: Problems.

Part 1 begins with an explanation of human innovation, by the author of a book, of course, about how human innovation can overcome limits to growth.

"Ramez Naam is a computer scientist and award-winning author. He believes innovation can save the planet and lift billions into prosperity, but only if we make the right choices to embrace it. His next non-fiction book, The Infinite Resource: The Power of Ideas on a Finite Planet, lays out the path to harnessing innovation to maximize our odds of overcoming climate change, finite fossil fuels, and the host of other environmental and natural resource challenges that face us."

The remainder of Part 1 is a laundry list of some of the problems facing humans due to resource limitations.

I can see where this is going. This is yet another unscientific, anthropocentric paean to technology, human economics and the mythology of perpetual growth in a finite world. This is another young man who has yet to feel his mortality, who thinks that humans with computers can overcome all obstacles, and who is largely ignorant of basic biology, ecology, earth sciences and natural history.

There really are limits to human growth, hard limits that cannot be fantasized away with unreasoning belief in human innovation. We can't invent our way into a rosy Star Trek future with unlimited energy and natural resources. We can't turn the world into computer-managed agro-business to feed 10 billion people. We can't convert all natural habitat into solar and wind farms for human energy demands.

Like it or not, humans are but one species of life on this planet. Humans must relearn how to live in
cooperation with, not at the expense of, all other species. We can do this. We just put away the toys of youth and start acting like responsible adult residents of the planet that sustains us.

And discontinue our subscriptions to the pseudo-science rag formerly known as Scientific American.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

The Myth of Economic Growth

I've written about the myth of economic growth quite a lot on Hayduke Blogs. Us the search bar in the lower right for a sampling. I've held for many years that growth is not the solution to our economic, social and environmental woes, growth is the problem.

Today I found an interview on Truthout: Power Shift Away From Green Illusions, with Ozzie Zehner, author of Green Illusions: The Dirty Secrets of Clean Energy and the Future of Environmentalism.

They're not really secrets, of course. We've known for a long time that alternative energy sources are dependent on fossil fuel energy sources, that our present level of energy use, consumption and economic growth cannot be sustained in a world of finite resources. We've even known that solar and wind power are not amenable to centralized collection and distribution and there is no way we can sustain our present society on renewable energy alone.

The future is not more. The future is less.

Less energy. Less growth. Fewer people. Less consumption.

It's inevitable. That which cannot go on forever, won't.

It's good to read a book (a free chapter is available on Zehner's web site), that lays this all out very logically, in a readable and entertaining volume. He also makes the case for a rational, science-based approach to moving toward a steady state economy based on a smaller population and reduced per capita consumption.

My wife and I lowered our standard of living and increased our quality of life over ten years ago.

The Myth of Economic Growth stops right here at home.