Canada's Child Soldier, Omar Khadr, Finally Returns to Canada After a Decade of Abuse in GITMO

Teenager Omar Khadr displaying his torture scars during an interrogation by CSIS and RCMP members while in GITMO

Omar Khadr was 15 when he was captured, held illegally in violation of US law, international law and the Geneva Conventions, in the rubble of a bombed-out compound near Khost, Afghanistan. After reading his biography at Wikipedia just now it was impossible not to be moved by the story of this young man who was formally identified as a child soldier by the head of the United Nations child soldier program in a letter to the US Military at GITMO.

During his illegal and immoral detention Khadr's lawyers won 5 cases in the Supreme Courts - 3 in the US, 2 in Canada, all in one way or another agreeing that Canada and the US signed a treaty, The Optional Protocol to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, which clearly says "all children under the age of 18 captured while fighting in wars are to be offered “special protection” and treated as victims, not as combatants.  “Khadr never should have been brought to Guantanamo. He was a child of fifteen at the time he was captured, and his subsequent detention and prosecution for purported war crimes was unlawful, as was his torture by U.S. officials,” The New York-based Center for Constitutional Rights Legal Director Baher Azmy said, calling Khadr’s case “one of the ugliest chapters in the decade-long history of Guantanamo.”

Regardless of the court rulings, America, Canada, and NATO  believe they have the right to invade any country they want, and expect the inhabitants to roll over and do nothing. If anyone actually fights back, they arrest them, torture them, then charge them with terrorism. Omar Kadhr, after eight years of psychological and physical torture, pled guilty at the Guantanamo military commission. Eight years of hell for allegedly defending himself from US soldiers who were doing their best to kill Afghan civilians.

Every Canadian and American should realize they have the same rights as Omar Khadr, none. Rights, constitutional rights, aren't just for when it's convenient, it's when times get tough that Canadians and Americans like to think they have 'rights' to support them. They don't. The sad and embarrassing case of Omar Khadr is probably not over yet for the Canadian government. Omar Khadr, like Maher Arar, has the right to sue Canada for damages because of its complicity in his detention and torture. He has the right to demand immediate release because the GITMO military kangaroo court that sentenced him was/is totally illegal by all international conventions.

Omar Khadr will be a free man soon. Hopefully, because he was a child soldier, Canada will fulfill its obligation to provide the rehabilitation and counselling due to him under international. law. WELCOME BACK [Omar] KHADR!!


Is 666 the Number of the Beast or the Number of Mud Reports???

Well it's both according to those two unchallengeable sources of information: the Book of Revelation and Google. Some would say there's more important issues than esoteric religious dogma about Armageddon and the Antichrist or, alternatively, the Devil. But hey, what if all those crazy bastards are right, what if there really is no other escape from the widely recognized sheep horned beast who's number is 666 than that clearly explained at the Satan's Rapture website.

Just imagine how you'd feel if one minute Google was telling you this is your 666th blog entry and the next minute an Antichrist 'expert' named Paul Begley was telling you that 'the end is near', that an Alien Antichrist is on his way [arriving Dec. 21st 2012 in conjunction with the prediction from another unimpeachable source - the Mayan end of the world prophesy ] to beguile our numb-nuts leaders into all kinds of dastardly deeds including the mandatory implantation of an RIFD chip into our hand by March 23rd, 2013. Sounds like there's gonna be a hell of a lineup at the clinic around then so if you wanna avoid all the hassle and get yours in advance here's a handy link to a video with all the info you'll need to get one hassle free

Once upon a time my goal was to write 1000 Mud Reports so #666 would be 2/3 of the way to that goal. But now what with an Alien Antichrist landing in just a couple of months and Armageddon just around the corner and the Rapture, the Devil, and all that stuff to worry about it's hard to imagine writing 334 more epistles on the plight of the rogue primate unless...unless adequate precautions are taken.

So here's what i been thinkin about about takin them adequate precautions against incoming aliens and beasts -1st of all, mr. mud is gonna sell the old beater van and buy the well disguised getaway car [pictured above]. 2nd, take some advice from the Miranda Lambert video [below]. And 3rd, stock up on beer, weed and munchies - the devil's favorites.


B.C.'s Pipeline Opponents Watching and Learning from the Tar Sands Blockade in Texas

It's day 3 of the non-violent Tar Sands Blockade just outside Winnsboro in East Texas and as of right now the machinery and destruction have been stopped entirely. On day one 8 treesitters and a number of other demonstrators unfurled their signs in front of the approaching heavy machinery. On day two a man and woman chained themselves to the lead machine. This time the local sheriff and his deputies were quickly called in but despite tactics that included; sustained chokeholds, violent arm-twisting, pepper spray, and multiple uses of Tasers it took the sheriff and his deputies almost 6 hours, until just before dusk, to get the brave protesters to relent.

It's day 3 today and the crowds have grown considerably and the scene is now surrounded by a phalanx of counter-culture media with more arriving all the time but as of this morning the police aren't allowing them close enough to the site to take any video. Meanwhile, the direct action continues as the eight activists remain aloft in a “tree village” in a bid to block tree-clearing equipment that’s making way for the pipeline’s southern leg. It's like a flashback to Julia Butterfly Hill’s two year vigil in a Redwood tree near Garberville, California.

The tactics of non-violent civil disobedience haven't really changed much in the decades since Earth First started confronting the machines in their often successful campaigns to shut down the extractive industries through a combination of direct action and the widespread publicity those confrontations generated which in turn led to an even more widespread public outcry and eventually the halting of the destructive practices. As the Earth First folks learned and the Tar Sands Blockade folks in Texas are about to learn, its often a long process and the corporations who's shareholders demand every greater obscene profits no matter what the cost to the planet itself will use whatever tools they can, including violent police and army assaults, to evict the demonstrators.

From the glowingly supportive comments rolling in on the Tar Sands Blockade website it apparent that the demonstrators have supporters all across North America including up here in Canuckistan where a similar confrontation may well unfold in the next couple of years. Many commentors supportive from B.C. have said that they are encouraged by their Texas cousins and are already preparing to meet either or both of the Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline and the Kinder-Morgan expansion with the same tactics, enthusiasm and bravery. Concerted non-violent civil disobedience through direct action has been proven to work once the information about why it's happening has been spread widely enough by the counter-culture media [it won't happen by the corporate owned mass media that's for sure]. Let's hope the Texans win their fight and those in the Great White North do too.


Appropriate Technology and Voluntary Simplicity Offer Alternatives to Destructive Extractivism

Two days ago the 3rd international conference on degrowth, ecological sustainability and social equity, Venezia 2012, wrapped up in Venice, Italy. It ran from Sept. 19-23 and brought together about 600 activists and intellectuals from around the world. Degrowth is a concept that argues that voluntary simplicity, a simplified lifestyle that rejects consumerism, and a reduction in destructive extraction is the most appropriate solution for the multiple crises facing our world today.

Many excellent speakers addressed the conference including Catalan ecological economist Juan Martinez-Alier who's speech and especially his website point out the physical impossibility of infinite growth in a finite world and offer some interesting alternatives. Another great speech was delivered by Colombian anthropologist Arturo Escobar about the changes happening in Latin America coming primarily from social movements who are increasingly critical of extractivism as a strategy to address social injustice. Escobar lauded the Andean indigenous concept of “buen vivir”, a vision of life in which the well-being of human and the rest of the natural world are considered as interrelated and pursued at the same time. He pointed out that the concept of buen vivir was incorporated into the Ecuadorian constitution in 2008 and Equador had recently used capital raised from royalties to buy out the global oil industry's interests in that country as well as remove a huge area from production in order to create a nature preserve.

De-growth is a great concept, it has supporters almost everywhere, including a very active group near here in Vancouver B.C. but as one of it's leaders, 'Work Less Party' founder Conrad Schmidt says, “You can’t shop your way to a sustainable planet.” And of course that's one of the problems with a conference that has 600 of attendees and many others in their posses consuming the resources required to travel to Venice from all around the world, then stay in expensive hotels, eat at pricey restaurants, etc all in the name of 'voluntary simplicity'. Sounds more like exceptionalism, like elitism, like voluntary consumption to me.

Demand, every economic exchange is driven by demand. The extractors extract to meet the demanders demand. The capitalist rebuttal to the de-growth concept is that any reduction in demand and consumption will result in an equivilant reduction in jobs resulting in poverty and hunger, but it's just another bit of fear mongering. What the capitalists refuse to say and the de-growth folks only whisper is the concept of inappropriate technology [see video below for an excellent example]. If, instead of buying bigger machines, which themselves require bigger machines to produce and interest to be paid to already rich bank shareholders and corporate profits and bonuses and and and, we instead hired people and paid them reasonably there would be no poverty and hunger or advertising industry driven demand leading to over consumption and yet more destructive extractivism. It's a vicious circle who's endless swirling only serves the rich. Stop being a victim, take control of your destiny and save the world. It's all possible by simply wanting less.


"Fear-Based Voting Has Brought Us Everything We're Afraid Of" - Jill Stein

Thomas Harrington's article 'Recognizing the Importance of Goldwater, or Learning to Analyze and Practice Progressive Politics in their Historical Dimension' makes Jill Stein's point perfectly. In it Harington  discusses how Barry Goldwater, the Republican Party's nominee for President in the 1964 election, refused to be a pragmatist. Instead he ran a campaign for president in which he spoke openly and with conviction about his beliefs [all of which i disagreed with then and find even more absurd now, but that's not the point].

Goldwater lost badly and was widely ridiculed by pundits throughout the process. But in losing, he carved out a social space for the articulation of his brand of conservative thought. Goldwater gave the many people who also believed in what has become the modern mantra of the fundamentalist TEA Party types hope that there were others who shared their beliefs and a forum to openly express them, despite the ridicule. In fact the ridicule which came almost entirely from what was then the unchallenged 'New Deal' establishment burnished the far right's fraternalism.

The point is that there is no reason to vote for either the 'good cop' or the 'bad cop', they are both owned by the corporate duopoly. The only ways out of the situation, as Goldwater's non-pragmatism proved, is to either vote - if vote you must - for someone you actually believe in, then continue to live freely beyond the corporate empire's laws. Or to realize that voting is a waste of time, that the 'system' is rigged, that democracy is a lie, then continue to live freely beyond the corporate empire's laws.

For those many millions of my fellow Americans who aren't 'there' yet, who aren't ready to dropout and live beyond the immoral capitalist system, who don't yet fully understand that Gaia's only hope is an immediate global financial collapse, who still believe that there is hope for America, please listen to the voice of Jill Stein. She obviously still believes there is hope and that change can happen in time to make a difference.

"It is important for everyone concerned with the preservation of liberty in America to stand up now against the Obama administration's attempt to defend the indefinite detention provisions of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA)." - Jill Stein


Buying Pot Directly From a Local Mom and Pop Grower Undermines Criminal Gangs' Profits

A couple of questions arrived in the inbox this morning about yesterday's Sensible BC post. The easiest to answer is about how pot possession in Canada is a federal offense. As Herb Couch says on The Nelson List, "It is true that marijuana is prohibited under the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act, which is federal legislation. However, the provinces pay for policing and set police priorities. For instance, over the past few years, eight provinces refused to enforce the federal Firearms Act because they did not support the Long Gun Registry. The governments of British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Newfoundland and Labrador all simply refused to enforce the federal law." 

All police in BC are under the authority of the Police Act, an act of the BC Legislature. This includes both RCMP and municipal police. As Herb mentions above, BC joined with seven other provinces in refusing to expend any resources enforcing the federal Firearms Act, because they did not support the Long Gun Registry. Sensible BC proposes an amendment to the Police Act, instructing police not to spend any time, money or resources on cases of simple possession of cannabis.

The feds Bill C-10, the so called “Safe Streets & Communities Act”, packages together such atrocious acts as violence against children, and human smuggling with the “serious” crime of growing 6 pot plants. That’s right, 6 tiny little plants growing in your closet is a crime as serious as child kidnapping in the eyes of Stephen Harper. Harper's law is designed to fill the prisons he wants his corporate donaters to build and profit from not serve the greater good of Canada or the vast majority of Canadians.

The second question is a bit more difficult to answer quickly, but here goes. Q.- Wouldn't legalizing pot simply turn it into just another commodity produced and profited from by large corporations, financed by large banks, and taxed to death by governments all of which would result in higher prices, lower quality and exported shareholder profits. A. - Yes.

The shortcomings of outright legalization are many, but decriminalization, like Sensible BC's proposal, avoids almost all of them. Decriminalization would keep small scale pot growers growing but would not allow bankers and corporations into the market because they'd be afraid of the feds coming down on them. The fact is that local small scale mom-and-pop pot growers cut into the profits of criminal gangs far more than prohibition laws do.

A 2005 study of seven years of marijuana cultivation arrests in British Columbia revealed that more than 80 per cent of the pot grown in BC was grown by small scale growers. The small scale local mom and pop pot industry is actually one of the only truly 'free markets' there is, you'd think real conservatives would use it as an example.. You'd think they'd point out that during the past 50 years, marijuana's potency has increased and its price has dropped. The price of smoking pot daily is cheaper than the price of daily use of alcohol or tobacco, even though pot is illegal. So, like any other fruit, veggie, commodity or service, buy local, you'll get the best quality at the best price and you'll keep the money circulating in your local community.


Pot Legalization Advocates Launch Reefer-endum Campaign to Decriminalize Marijuana in B.C.

Elections B.C. has OK'd the petition seeking a referendum on marijuana decriminalization.  “It means that Elections B.C. has confirmed that we have jurisdiction over policing, and that it is appropriate and legal for British Columbia to instruct the police in our province to make cannabis possession the absolute lowest priority." Said Dana Larsen, one of Sensible B.C.’s advisory board members which also includes Cannabis Culture Headquarters director Jodie Emery, BCCLA executive director David Eby, and Victoria police officer David Bratzer as members.

Sensible B.C. plans to build support for a province wide initiative vote in 2014, following the signature-gathering process used by the Fight HST campaign in 2010. According to Sensible B.C., the proposed bill would see weed possession decriminalized for adults and the province formally call on the federal government to allow B.C. to begin legally taxing and regulating cannabis much like alcohol and tobacco.

The movement to change BC's pot laws is being undertaken on a number of fronts. The Union of BC Municipalities (UBCM), the largest annual gathering of BC mayors and councillors, will be voting on Resolution A5 on Wednesday, September 26. The resolution calls for UBCM to lobby the appropriate government to decriminalize marijuana and research its regulation and taxation. It's already endorsed by 8 B.C. mayors, including Vancouver mayor Gregor Robertson, who signed a letter in support of marijuana legalization recently. In addition, former NDP premiers Mike Harcourt and Ujjal Dosanjh, and former B.C. attorney general Geoff Plant are among the past and present politicians who have endorsed Stop the Violence’s call for the taxation and regulation of weed.

Prohibition of Marijuana doesn't work any better than the failed attempt to prohibit of alcohol did decades ago. Both are misguided puritanical missions to control what the religious establishment sees as a 'sin'. Marijuana use isn't totally benign and, as with alcohol, there are people who can become abusers. As with alcohol, by controlling its distribution and using the tax dollars generated to help those individuals instead of pouring billions of dollars into enforcing an unjust and unsupported law the people of B.C. will all be better off whether they smoke pot or not.

Please register here to show your support for the Sensible B.C. campaign.


Truth is, as Most Sales Tax Avoiding Canadians Already Know, Living Underground Ain't So Bad

Statistics Canada estimates the underground economy amounted to about $36 billion in 2008, about 2.5% of GDP, but many experts say that's only a guess and that if all domestic black market transactions, such as drug trafficking, arms trafficking, smuggled tobacco, home made booze and prostitution, could be counted the figure would be much higher. The StatsCan estimates are focused on avoidance of sales taxes and H&R Block Canada survey that found 55 per cent of Canadians would opt to pay cash to avoid sales taxes obviously does the same. 

The survey and government stats clearly show that avoidance isn't related specifically to the amount of the sales taxes themselves which range from a low of five per cent in Alberta to a high of 15.5 per cent in Prince Edward Island. The unspoken truth behind the those numbers is that Canadians understand, at least subconsciously, that sales taxes are unfair because they are regressive - the poorer a person is the more it punishes them. Canadians don't try to avoid all taxes. Income tax and property taxes, for instance, were established long ago and at least have the appearance of being progressive [though in fact the laws are written so that lawyers and accountants can use loopholes to help their rich clients pay far less than they should].

On top of that, StatsCan's estimates only look at this one part of the 'domestic' economy and as many of us know the underground export economy of marijuana alone brings in unaccounted for billions of dollars of cash from the US pot-heads the circulation of which keeps local, especially rural, communities afloat. Worldwide,  "No government, no global nonprofit, no multinational enterprise can seriously claim to be able to replace the 1.8 billion jobs created by the economic underground. In truth, the best hope for growth in most emerging economies lies in the shadows." Global Bazaar, Scientific America.

Truth is living underground ain't so bad. It ain't so bad for the individual or for the community they're a part of. It certainly ain't as bad for their local community's as having profits and interest being skimmed off every local transaction and shipped away to offshore tax havens like the 'legal' rich stockholders do with their ill-gotten gains. Truth is, every dollar spent in the local underground economy is a dollar that gets re-spent as a whole dollar not just the fraction that's left after sales taxes, bank interest and shareholder profits are subtracted. Truth is, the reason economists laud the 'velocity' of money is because each time money goes around the rich get their bite and before long they've got it all, it's called 'The Toilet Bowl Theory of Economics'.

If you ain't doing it already, it's time you started, living underground ain't bad a-tall.


America's NDAA Authorizes Indefinite Detention of Anyone Anywhere in the World Without Charge or Trail

These last couple of days have been a roller-coaster ride for the America's fascist NDAA Act and the US Bill of Rights. In case you don't already know, the NDAA - National Defense Authorization Act - grants the President unprecedented powers to detain any US Citizen [or anyone else] abroad or on US soil without trail, without access to a lawyer, indefinitely. Ship them off to one of the USA's penal colonies anywhere in the world. Put simply, " vanish them." These chilling powers claimed by Obama and his DoJ mouthpieces legalize the same overreach that G.W. Bush only did secretly.

Two days ago Chris Hedges' informative article 'We Won—for Now' about Judge Katherine Forrest’s ruling against the NDAA's provisions was both combative about the abuses of the NDAA and cautious about how long it would be allowed to stand because of the court's history of allowing, since 9/11, things like: the denying habeas corpus rights to detainees, Espionage Act prosecutions against whistleblowers, drone attacks of targeted assassinations - including US citizens and the widespread warrentless surveillance by government agencies to stand.

Then yesterday two other must read articles about this issue were published. The first titled 'Obama Fights to Continue Indefinite Detentions, NDAA' by the Common Dreams Staff is short, sweet and is followed by a number of excellent comments by appalled readers who see clearly the effects the NDAA will have on. the US Bill of Rights. The second, 'Unlike Afghan Leaders, Obama Fights for Power of Indefinite Military Detention',  by Glenn Greenwald, detailing the hypocrisy of Obama's lawyers' angry appeal against the court ruling that invalidated the NDAA's chilling 2011 detention law while on the same day the Afghanistan Supreme Court was striking down the exact same indefinite detention demands by the US and NATO there.

This isn't a new issue authoritarians have been using fear and claims of National Security to override individual human rights since the dawn of time. Americans should remember how FDR played the fear card to 'intern' the Japanese without charge or trail during WW!!. The Magna Carta itself, on which all of our common laws and individual rights are based, signed in 1215, said no-one can be imprisoned except by having been found guilty by a properly constituted court and a jury of his peers. It specifically restricted the authority of King John who was considered an evil ruler because he imprisoned his enemies without trial [sound familiar].

Of course, Hedges was correct, The Obama administration won an appeals court decision late last night to stay Judge Katherine Forrest’s ruling against the National Defense Authorization Act by saying her ruling was dangerous to 'National Security. The case will go on, more appeals from both sides will continue the roller-coaster ride right up the notoriously right-wing US Supreme Court who'll end up ruling 5-4 in favor of the fascist police state. The big question for Hedges, Daniel Ellsberg, Noam Chomsky, Birgitta Jónsdóttir and the other complainants is, 'What constitutes real National Security?'

"People who are willing to sacrifice liberty for security end up with neither" -Benjamin Franklin


Re-Naming and Re-Framing the OCCUPY Movement Into 'The People's Assembly'

Participants of the People's Assembly of Victoria

Having now read a number of articles online about the reasons for the demise of the Occupy movement, all of which are heartfelt, most of which come from participants and whose conclusions are as opposite and varied as their writers it seems like the perfect time to further muddy the picture by adding a few of my own and a few suggestions too.

One paragraph in yesterday's post started with, "Occupy was/is in many ways a victim of its name." The original idea was to physcially occupy a park in New York City to bring attention to the issue of the wealth distribution inequity inherent in the predatory globalized capitalist system. Unfortunately the issue isn't easily simplified into the kind of catchphrase the M$M demands so even before anybody showed up with their tents in response to the callout from Adbusters, the tool of occuping Zuccotti Park had been simplified into  the catchphrase of 'The Ocuppy Movement'. As always, re-naming became re-framing. There must be a place to occupy, like Iraq or Afghanistan or Tibet or East Timor or the West Bank, or? - the phrase 'to occupy' means to take over a space, mental or physical, not previously controlled by the new occupier. The tents needed a space the idea didn't, so in many ways the pushing of the tent issue, stubbornly erecting tents, instead of stubbornly sticking to the issues brought the demise of Occupy by allowing the storm trooper's a target to storm, conquer and declare victory over.

Another key issue the author of the article 'Progressives Must Move Beyond Occupy' mentions is, "Think of the bitter pill of the broken promises to young people who were told that education was the route to security and prosperity and who now graduate to unemployment and huge debts." This angle bugged me from day 1. It's a totally bourgeois, totally un-revolutionary concept to bitch and moan about not getting your 'fair share' from the system you're apparently denouncing. It's revolutionary to dropout from and complain about a 'system' you find inequitable, it's bourgeois to complain about a 'system' that you aspire to be a member of but are rejected by. As time wore on many of the original occupiers found well paid jobs in that 'system' they were bitching about because of their new found fame as occupiers and eagerly took those jobs, took the money, and turned their energy toward fulfilling their long held middle class bourgeois dreams.

Lastly, critique wise, the concept of horizontal organization that Occupy used in its General Assembles was a both a fantastic success and a brick in its road to demise. Horizontal organization, from my experience, works great in a small group of like minded folks who share a common goal or goals - like in a collective. It worked perfectly as a tool way back in my Yippee days over 40 years ago because we were a small group, a cell, planning an action while sitting around somebody's kitchen table. We were few, we agreed on methods and we had a common goal. The Occupy meetings, including those i've attended, have a wide ranging group of folks with far different ideas, goals and agendas endlessly debating basic concepts.

The basic issue/issues that brought all the millions of folks out haven't gone away, in fact they've gotten worse, mosta the folks themselves are still out there and most still care. So what to do? One idea, scooped from the Occupy Victoria branch in BC's capital who named themselves 'The People's Assembly of Victoria' is just that, once again re-naming and re-framing the movement by this time using the 'People's Assembly' term to define its function, its structure, and as its catchphrase. A 'People's Assembly' can debate issues, agree to common goals, develop plans of action to meet those goals all in a horizontal structure and create a representative voice that can clearly enunciate those goals and communicate the plans of action necessary to achieve those goals. See ya at the next People's Assembly.


Happy First Birthday to the Occupy Movement and Their 99% Meme

The Occupy movement has seen both 'the best of times and he worst of times' in its short one year history. Today is it's birthday, one year ago today the first camp was setup in New York City's Zuccotti Park. At first the authorities were baffled as to how to deal with the mix of unemployed college grads, political activists, street people, musicians, celebrities...even the press ran glowing stories. Seemingly overnight encampments sprung up in city after city in America, in Canada, then around the world. Clearly something new, a life form nurtured by social media and a gut level frustration with the 'system' was being born.

What the Occupy movement lacks in organization, direction and goals was/is more than made up for by the bridges built across the divides of age, race and class, between the housed and the homeless as well as the employed and jobless. As Rebecca Solnit, an occupier herself, said in her article 'Occupy Your Victories: OWS' First Anniversary', "There was tremendous emotion around it -- the joy of finding you were not alone." saying also, "Occupy’s other signal achievement: we articulated, clearly, loudly, incontrovertably, how appalling and destructive the current economic system is. To name something is a powerful action."

Historically, successful progressive social movements have taken decades to bring their central message, their meme, to the forefront of public awareness let alone achieve the changes they seek - Civil Rights, Women's Suffrage, Gay Rights,  Nuclear Arms Control. Instead, Occupy's quick success at inserting their 99% meme into the global mindset shows how ready the world was/is to receive the message.

Occupy was/is in many ways a victim of its name. In time the authorities found ways to use media messaging to re-frame the movement's persona from a group of peaceful protesters, like all of us, camping on the commons into a mob of dirty, dangerous and delinquents thereby opening the door for their storm troopers to violently evict 'them', but not their ideas, from the limelight.

Living here in Beautiful BC i'm especially proud of the efforts of Occupy Vancouver to build a truly effective counter-culture - they harnessed mountains of donations and the best energy of many volunteers to feed hundreds of homeless folks everyday, they provided first aid to all comers, a revolutionary library...they fed the spirit's of the poor and gave them dignity. And of Occupy Victoria who's Occupy branch adopted the name 'The People's Assembly of Victoria'. If, as Solnit says above, "To name something is a powerful action." maybe The People's Assembly will find a powerful position in Occupy's future.


Anybody That Burns Down a KFC Can't Be All Bad!

The disgusting 14 minute movie trailer denigrating  Muhammad is both a spark amid tinder dry conditions and a red herring to be trumpeted by the MSM to Americans who cannot stand to be told the truth. The truth is the riots are only anti-American in the sense that they're anti-imperial.  The Muslim world's anger is focused on Americans specifically and the west generally because of the acts perpetrated upon them by the west's leaders in our names. Islamic militancy is simply anti-imperialism and anti-Zionism.

Then there's the 'free speech' issue that's being used to further the red herring smokescreen. Free speech doesn't give anyone the right to say or do anything they please. If you yell fire in a movie theatre and cause a stampede, or shout bomb in a plane and cause a panic, you can get prosecuted. So, why should these extremists who make a movie expressly designed to provoke violence from Muslims not be prosecuted? Free speech, like any of our rights, comes with obligations.

Every empire in history has suffered from the same hubris our current Western one does. We, and all the others, see ourselves as the bestower of the gifts of civilization upon the poor backward folks in the hinterlands. The Roman and English Empires had the same thoughts, so too the Greeks, the Persians and each of the Chinese Dynasties. Each time the leaders and prosperous citizens are aghast when the natives no longer want the 'gifts' their bring brought to them. Each time the once easily oppressed outliers gain strength while the central empire becomes arrogant and decadent. History clearly shows we in the west aren't exceptional, in fact, it's surprising that a widespread rebellion against the Empire hasn't happened earlier.

The protests themselves are indicative of deeper problems, of millions of unemployed young people with little or no future in a world of contrasting poverty and incredible wealth, of a foreign policy that demonizes Muslims as "terrorists" while it unconditionally supports the terrorists in Israel. In case you haven't noticed, The US fights its drone wars exclusively against Muslims, betcha the the Muslims have noticed. Betcha they've noticed our invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq, our torture in Abu Ghraib and Bhagram and Guantanamo, our labeling of Muslims as terrorists. Well, now they've gone and burnt down a KFC... hopefully they know this means WAR!


The Mandatory Marijuana Conspiracy - A Gathering Storm

Forget Chemtrails, The New World Order, Armageddon, Alien Controllers, The Elders of Zion and The Masonic Cabal they're all just diversions designed to disguise the mother of all conspiracies, The Mandatory Marijuana Conspiracy. This morning's story at Common Dreams about the upcoming medical marijuana initiative in Massachusetts turned me on to tuning in to the issue further.

The smoke surrounding this conspiracy will drop out of sight as you read through this online Massachusetts voters' guide. You'll learn about how and why corporate powerhouses like Domino's Pizza, Frito-Lay and Hostess - maker of Twinkies [It’s a well known fact that smoking marijuana can lead to a dependency on Twinkies] - and you'll read the, until now, secret personal testimonies from 50 of the world's most powerful politicians, famous entertainers and leading tycoons about why they are behind this conspiracy.

The late great Bill Hicks let slip [see video below] the implications and the vast profits at stake for these corporate behemoths once they control the demand side of the fast food equation. Bill, an obvious co-conspirator, declared years ago, 'Not only do I think marijuana should be legalized, I think it should be mandatory." Bill pointed out that, once the conspirators had achieved their goal, all of us would be better off in some ways, just imagine he said, "The highways will be jammed with Dominos trucks. It'll be grid lock, we'll all end up with FREE pizza."


Post-Capitalist Alternative Economic Solutions Spreading in Europe and Beyond

Spanish Mayor Juan Manuel Sánchez Gordillo has become the face of the growing post-capitalist alternative economic  movement in Spain. The mayor of a small town in Southern Spain called Marinaleda, he has become well-known for leading a raid on Spanish supermarkets in which food was taken and redistributed to the poor. Sánchez Gordillo has backed up his critiques of capitalism with a viable alternative. In his town of Marinaleda, there is full employment, people rent homes for 15 Euros a month, and everybody who works in the agricultural cooperative that was formed, including the mayor, earns the same salary.

Spain's financial crisis has spawned a number of solutions that don't rely on the euro instead using time banks and alternative currencies that can be used to trade goods as well as services. Struggling Greeks too are going back to basics as the government mandated austerity programs drive their economy deeper into recession. Greeks are leaving the urban poverty behind and returning to their rural roots where both barter and alternative currencies have historically been used widely.

These changes are a potential force for revolutionary social change, for replacing capitalism and the state with a new non-globalized society that is collectively self-managed by workers locally. Spain's Robin Hood Mayor Gordillo says, "The solution to the financial crisis is outside of capitalism". Many observers call Gordillo an anarchist but he presents himself as a communist. Despite Spain's crisis it a has far more socialized economy than North America. Marinaleda and Gordillo operate only with subsidies from the state and the EU. The land they farm was leased to them by the state at no cost. The materials in the houses, though built by the community, are totally funded by the state to the tune of about $25k each. And the wages that keep everyone employed are subsidized by the state and the EU.

Almost all of the alternative economic solutions in Europe are being spawned by the financial crisis, by necessity. The same is true in Latin America by and large where the long running unequal distribution of the wealth garnered from resource extraction has forced the working class to adopt alternative solutions out of necessity not out of choice.

Hopefully, civil disobedience will be father and necessity will be the mother of a new vision for the world based of sustainable organic agriculture and the equal distribution of wealth. Unfortunately, in the past necessity has been a poor long-term motivator compared to choice. Most often once the necessity for cooperation passes the cooperation itself does too. Choosing to change is hard work, choosing to live with less material wealth consciously, to dropout, is a powerful, hard won and stable position.


"Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing..." - Matthew 7

Yesterday's story in The Gaurdian by Glenn Greenwald titled 'Another Guantánamo Prisoner Death Highlights Democrats' Hypocrisy' was a moving essay about man's inhumanity to man, the immorality of the US policy of indefinite detention and a clear explanation of how Obama's soaring rhetoric in the 2008 election campaign was forked tongue lawyer speak. The saying 'Obama, a wolf in sheep clothing' leapt to mind so i googled it and got about 348,000 results. Interestingly the websites using that phrase came from every conceivable political point of view.

Greenwald's article explains that Obama's plan to "close Gitmo" was a smokescreen designed to further hypnotize progressives down the hopeful road to change when in fact the system of indefinite detention at the heart of Gitmo's abuse was never challenged. Obama's plan was to simply move Gitmo north. Obama's defenders now say that he tried to "close Gitmo" but was stopped by congressional opposition from both parties and the ACLU who said, "the administration plans to continue its predecessor's policy of indefinite detention without charge or trial for some detainees, with only a change of location." Obama knew all along that the US courts would never allow indefinite detention and that they'd immediately throw out any evidence acquired through torture, pretty much the only kind the US had then or has now to justify its drone targets. It was all just part of the Obama Gitmo myth.

The Pulitzer Prize winning PoliticalFact published by the Tampa Bay Times features 'The Obameter' which lists and describes Obama's broken promises one by one, there's well over 50 of them, it takes 5 pages. In each case Obama's promises sounded great but each of them contained 'wiggle words' that a fancy fork tongued, Harvard trained lying wolf could and would use when he emerged from within his sheep's clothing.

This time around 'Hope and Change' have morphed into 'Good Cop, Bad Cop'  where the supposedly lesser-evil wins the election having long ago lost the hearts and minds it had hypnotized last time around. This time Team Obama is saying, "Be very afraid!  Don't risk voting for a real progressive, when doing so will only put Snidely Whiplash and Natasha in the White House.  No, vote for the father of lies disguised as an angel of light, the wolf in sheep's clothing."  Maybe this time Lucy will hold the football steady.


Eleven Years Ago Today Over 3,000 Innocent People Were Murdered, That Much We Agree On

It's been 11 years since the world changing events of Sept. 11th, 2001 were used to justify wars abroad and the erosion of civil liberties at home and around the world. 11 years of charges and counter-charges about what really happened that terrible day. 11 years and there's still never been an independent scientific investigation of how it occured. Why not?

The mainstream media dismisses all challenges to the official government versions of the events still clearly etched in the minds of millions of us who watched them live in horror that morning. Yet the controversy doesn't die, if fact world wide opinion polls indicate a highly sceptical public attitude to the Washington account of 9/11. Last year's 9/11 opinion poll in the UK showed only 7% of respondents believe they have been told the whole story of the 9/11 attacks. Meanwhile most members of the Washington's 9/11 Commission have now distanced themselves from its findings.

Skeptics, including mr. mud, find much more fertile ground online where websites like 911Blogger and 911Truth carry well researched articles where a wide variety of technical experts – high-rise architects, structural engineers, controlled demolition technicians, chemists, physicists, and more - present scientific evidence that controlled demolition, not "normal office fires" as claimed by NIST, caused the destruction of the buildings.

PBS is the first major TV network to air the program '9/11: Explosive Evidence - Experts Speak Out'. It is being shown in full on Colorado Public Television as well as online. In this new film, over 40 experts in the fields of structural engineering, high-rise architecture, controlled demolition, physics, chemistry and metallurgy lay out the case for a controlled demolition of the World Trade Center on 9/11. The experts cite evidence showing that high-temperature incendiaries and explosives were planted throughout the twin towers and the lesser-known Building 7 which collapsed later the same day.

Another 15-minute long documentary [embedded below], this one narrated by Ed Asner, highlights the destruction of World Trade Center Building 7 at 5:20 pm on 9/11. In it numerous structural engineers – the people who know the most about office building vulnerabilities and accidents – say that the official explanation of why building 7 at the World Trade Center collapsed on 9/11 is “impossible”. They show how Thermite caused the destruction of Building 7 on 9/11 and provide documented evidence that it was a controlled demolition that took months to setup..

All of these experts, highly respected and published in their fields, can't possibly be lying about what they've found, their careers are in jeoparady for speaking out. Why, other than believing their findings to be true, would they publish these statements? Many of the familes and friends of the 911 victims, as you'll see on the 911Blogger or 911Truth websites, don't accept the government's story and are outspoken in their demand for an independent scientific investigation. If the government has nothing to hide why wouldn't they too support one?


Why Salmon Have Prospered for Millions of Years Here in Black Point but Humans are in Trouble Already

My best friend Pancho and i are just back from our morning walk on the beach. During this pacific hour of we marvel at the turning of the globe and its wonders. If the tide is out we walk along the deserted sand bar and save the lives of how ever many starfish have gotten themselves stranded, and, when the salmon are running in Lang Creek, as they are right now down at one end of the beach, we watch as the floating fishermen try to entice the running salmon with one last tidbit.

Most mornings i spend some of that blissful hour thinking about the day's blog topic. Today it dawned on me how much better off my fellow humans would be if more of them could swim past the dangling free lunch tidbit, with the same kinda murderous string attached, that the consumer credit industry dangles in front of them. Hundreds, maybe thousands, of salmon passed by the lures undeterred. Up on shore the numbers are usually reversed. Up on shore the fisherman's species are easily deterred from their real goals.

Humans it seems are much less wise than salmon, salmon seem to know their highest goal and that the intermediate goals like food are just tools to be used in their quest. Salmon, unlike humans, know when and why enough is enough.

Humans too have needs, we need enough food, we need enough shelter, we need enough knowledge and education, we need enough comfort and leisure to make life worth living, we need enough security to allow our kids to have the freedom to live decent lives. Like the salmon, we too use tools to achieve our goals. But unlike the salmon we've somehow allowed ourselves to believe that those tools are ends in themselves, we've been deterred from our goal of having enough by the illusion that having bigger, better, shiny new tools is somehow more important than having enough to do the job.

Let's compare 3 washing machines for instance. A washing machine is, like a car, a refrigerator, a hammer - a tool - a washing machine is a tool for getting clothes clean, it's not a status symbol, it's not a statement of self-worth, it's a tool, as long as it gets clothes clean that's enough.

Washing machine #1 is 10 years old, a bit dented and scratched and costs $100. A neighbor who's moving has it for sale in the local newspaper, it does the job perfectly well and you've got the $100 in your pocket. It or may not keep washing clothes as long as a new one but if it breaks down you can either fix it or buy another one you can afford at some time in the future.

Washing machine #2 is brand new and shiny, it too washes clothes and it costs $700 which you may or may not have in your pocket. But let's say you do, and you're willing to gamble that the new one will last way more than 7 times as long as #1 [it's gotta last way longer 'cause you coulda been fulfilling other needs with the $600 difference]. To me, #2 seems like a bad bet because enough is enough, so it seems like a dumb choice.

Then there's #3, if #2 is dumb, #3 is dumber. Washing machine #3 is also brand new, its got all the bells and whistles, all the adjectives, it's gleaming stainless steel it costs #1,500 which you haven't got and it too gets clothes clean. You haven't got $1,500 but [here comes the hook] you've got a credit card and now you're about to prove you're far dumber than most of those salmon cause now you're going to agree to not only pay for all the labour, materials and shipping etc embedded in your shiny new clothes washer but you're going actually be paying the price of two washing machines by the time you get done paying the interest - the string that's attached.


Wading Through the Economists' Smokescreen in Search of the Real Unemployment Rates

If the unemployment rates published by the Canadian and US governments were calculated the same way now that they were during the 'Great Depression", 80 years ago, we'd have close to 20 percent unemployment today in the US and 17.5 percent in Canada. Yikes! How can that be true you ask? Like a well, unemployment statistics is a deep subject. Since yesterday, just after the release of the latest US jobs figures and all the fiery language it generated, mr. mud has been trying to see through the smokescreens used by the economists and accountants to make the unemployment numbers look as cheery as possible so they and their paymasters, our dear leaders, can avoid the the torches and pitchforks for another month or two.

Unemployment rates are determined by who gets counted as what. So, the standard unemployment rate - the one we hear about every month - counts people who are actively searching for a job. Meaning, they filled out an application, sent in a resume, went to an interview in the last four weeks. This definition doesn't include any of the discouraged workers who have simply given up looking for a job because of a shortage of jobs in their locality or line of work; discrimination for reasons such as age, race, sex, religion, sexual orientation, and disability; a lack of necessary skills, training, or experience; or, a chronic illness or disability. None of the statistics anywhere include the invisible homeless millions of illegal aliens, and others who remain undocumented and uncounted for by the census. So, The 8.1 percent rate that the media is quoting is not a full and fair picture of unemployment rates.

The number of Americans whom the U.S. Department of Labor counted as “not in the civilian labor force” in August hit a record high of 88,921,000. 368,000 people simply dropped out of the labor force last month and did not even look for a job. The U.S. population is roughly 311 million. Adults make up roughly 190 million of that total. The number of Americans out of work is 88 million. Only in the Orwellian world of government metrics can peoples' dropping out of the labor market translate to a lower unemployment rate and thus to a "healthier" economy.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics in the US puts out a monthly report - The Employment Situation - that's gotta be the densest statistical and graph laden smokescreen ever published, but if a person can wade through the smoke long enough they'll find the cold hard, yikes inducing, numbers for themselves. But those numbers don't really tell the story of how 50 million Americans now need Food Stamps to exist, or the skyrocketing number of people stateside whose unemployment benefits have run out and are now seeking assistance via Social Security Disability Insurance as their only way out.

In Canada, there are less undocumented folks and a better social safety net, but our official unemployment rates are calculated exactly the same as they are in the US, our hidden unemployment ratios are disguised the way same too. Food Stamps or Food Banks, homeless shelters or tent cities, welfare or disability insurance - the names change but the underlying painful story doesn't.


Courtney BC Buying Expensive Public Relations Black Eye With Maple Pool Campground Legal Action

Yesterday (Thursday) Courtenay lawyer Clive Ansley, who represents the Maple Pool Campground owners Dali and Jin Lin, and Pivot Legal Society lawyer Scott Bernstein, held a joint media conference at Maple Pool to outline their intention to apply to the court to consider whether evicting Maple Pool tenants violates the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The mandate of the Pivot Legal Society, a Vancouver-based, non-profit society is to use the law to create social change. The lawyers added: "Since at least the 1960s, Maple Pool has served as a low-income residence for some of Courtenay's poorest and most vulnerable residents. Approximately 54 permanent residents currently inhabit Maple Pool, and most would likely become homeless if forced to leave."

Perhaps the mayor and council of Courtney should ask their lawyers how expensive it would be for Courtney's taxpayers to get into a protracted legal battle that could go on for years and end up in Canada's Supreme Court. Besides being a totally divisive issue in the community already, the nationally publicized legal battle that would ensue from trying evict the low-income residents of the Maple Pool Campground would also lead to a public relations black eye for Courtney and the area. Not exactly what you'd think is the best thing for a tourism dependent economy eh!

Ansley feels City council is reluctant to move forward on this devisive issue. "I don't think there are many people on council who feel good about it. But what we're dealing with here is a kind of disease that I think is endemic in municipal government across the country. That's what I call the tail wagging the dog," said Ansley, noting that "career administrators" run the city. In a related bit of good news Courtney Mayor Larry Jangula announced Thursday that Courtenay's chief administrative officer, Sandy Gray, has resigned  leaving city hall at the end of March 2013. Gary has been the most outspoken advocate of perusing this lawsuit in city hall.

Campsite owners Dali and Jin Lin are the proud and much loved operaters of this low-rent, Community Living Project for 54 tenants, many of whom had been homeless before moving onto the site. Mayor Larry Jangula, who said he was against the lawsuit when he ran for office last fall, has said, "When you see the respect and the joy that those tenants have when they see the Lins, that says it all. Maple Pool is a little community. They all know each other ..it's like a small village. It's like a village in the forest."

Toni Gore of Vancouver Island University says, "I think you may want to go check out maple pool, and talk to the owners and residents in person before you judge...did you know that they offer weekly free meals, a resident food and clothing bank, as well as healthy activities like street soccer and tai chi (all at their own expense I might add)." A legal defense fund, 'The Maple Pool Campsite Defence Fund',  has been setup at RBC Royal Bank for donations to help the Lins with their legal expenses. You can email Jean Rowe [jeanrowe2011@gmail.com] if you have any questions about it.

Or if you'd like to tell Mayor Larry Jangula and his council your opinion about their decision to put Courtney and its taxpayers into an expensive and divisive legal battle by trying evict the low-income residents of  the Maple Pool Campground that will only lead to a public relations black eye for Courtney and the tourism dependent area, here's a list of their names, phone numbers and email addresses, i'm sure they be glad to here from you.

Mayor Larry Jangula - Phone: 250-703-4842  [ljangula@courtenay.ca]
Councillor Jon Ambler - Phone:  250-334-3458 [jambler@courtenay.ca]
Councillor Bill Anglin - Phone:250-334-8484 [banglin@courtenay.ca]
Councillor Doug Hillian - Phone: 250-334-4441 [dhillian@courtenay.ca]
Councillor Ronna-Rae Leonard - Phone: 250-334-4441 [rleonard@courtenay.ca]
Councillor Manno Theos Phone: - 250-334-4441 [mtheos@courtenay.ca]
Councillor Starr Winchester Phone: - 250-334-2664 [swinchester@courtenay.ca]


Torture Victims Detail Widespread Use of Waterboarding by the CIA and other 'Security Agencies'

Hidden behind today's headlines in the US about the rousing speeches by Michelle Obama, Bubba Clinton and expectations about tonight's spellbinder by the 'liar and thief' is the chilling story covered much more widely by international news outlets about how waterboarding has been more widespread than the CIA will admit as new torture claims emerge from victims who were held a various 'black sites' by US and British 'security agencies.

For sure Michelle, Bubba and the Obomber are great speech makers. But none of them ever mention the ugly truths about the President’s kill list and the assassination of American citizens from flying robots. You also won't hear any mention of how, immediately after the election in 2008, Obama backed away from the vow made made on numerous occasions during his campaign speeches to prosecute those responsible for torture. Obama's framed the torture issue during the 2008 campaign as one of morality and legality. But once he was elected he allowed that shithead Cheney to re-frame the question throughout the media to one of necessity and effectiveness. Obama, a well trained Harvard lawyer, understood the repercussions of letting Cheney's expediency framing go unchallenged. To this day Obama refuses to hold the Bush administration or their lawyers accountable for their illegal actions.

Instead Obama and his hand-maiden Holder now use the same bogus legal arguments that Bush/Cheney used about torture to legitimize his 'kill list' of US citizens and his illegal drone killings around the world. Be it torture, health care, Guantanmo, Iraq, Afghanistan, billionaire bailouts, drilling regulations, permits, or his other 'Hope and Change' promises, Obama has still never seen an issue that couldn't be dodged by the application of his silver sounding forked tongue.

Let’s get one thing straight, waterboarding is torture! Waterboarding has been a favorite of tortures since at least the Spanish Inquisition because, unlike most other torture techniques, it produces no marks on the body. Waterboarding was considered to be torture by the US after World War II when they prosecuted and hung Japanese soldiers for waterboarding American prisoners of war. Recently in the US a Florida man, Major Harris III, was sentenced to life after waterboarding girlfriend with root beer and a Delaware doctor accused of waterboarding his 11-year-old daughter was charged with attempted murder and torture.

If 'progressives' in the US allow the smiling, silver tongued Obama to skate past his immoral and illegal actions because he's seen as the lesser of two evils, the 'good cop', it will betray their beliefs and display their fears.


Meet the Homeless, Listen to Their Stories, Realize They're Just Like You [and me]

"It's comforting to believe the line separating the homeless from you is Hulk-strong and neon bright, that their situation reflects some failing - moral, spiritual, intellectual - that you, righteous soul, do not suffer. Comforting. But then, self-delusion often is...Life happened to them, same as it happens to everyone." writes Leonard Pitts of the Maimi Herald in his article today about the disconnect between between those attending the DNC in Charlotte N.C.and homeless there and everywhere else including your home town and mine. He says of the poor, "...they deserve what anyone would want. Not a handout nor even just help, but first, an acknowledgement that they are there." In reading this moving article you'll meet many homeless people, you hear their stories, you'll realize they're just like you [and me].

Believe it or not poverty is already a crime in many places in the USA and beyond. Examples: in NYC, it's an arrestable offense to put your feet up on a second seat, or set a bag on an empty seat beside you; in parts of Florida, it's an arrestable offense to declare, upon being wakened at your legal campsite, that you have nowhere else to go; people have been ticketed for feeding the homeless; some communities have laws against sitting on the sidewalk, even against GIVING a panhandler a donation. And of course, you can sit in your car all day long...but don't dare try to sleep in it!

We here in Canada have slightly less draconian laws and a slightly better social safety net but we still have grinding poverty and homelessness. We still have countless folks who have to choose between eating and paying the rent not just in a few major cities but everywhere across the Great White North.

Pitts' article and others focus on the invisibility of the poor in America's current electioneering cycle. They also focus on some of the hatred directed at them by many who should know full well that they themselves are only one check away from the sidewalk themselves. It's the same story often up here, blaming the victim isn't exclusively an American psychosis, it seems like human nature. But is it or is it a manifestation of ignorance and fear?

What is human nature is being a conformist. As every evolutionary biologist will agree, we evolved for eons in small groups as hunter-gathers and conforming with the predominant views meant acceptance, protection in times of danger and shared resources in times of need thereby giving our genes a better chance to be passed on. In today's world we are constantly bombarded by a predominant worldview as well and having been genetically molded to conform, so conform most do. Acceptance of this absurd conformity from an outside viewpoint looks irrational but it's 'The Stockholm Syndrome' writ large.

The media, especially advertising, constantly pounds out the narcissist drumbeat that individual comfort is the highest goal [most folks even agree to be called consumers]. Accepting this worldview of materialism as our goal means those who don't share in its fruits, by choice or by circumstance, are by definition outside of the group - 'others'. From this writer's point of view, the only viable alternative is being a non-conformist, a dropout and an outsider by choice. The only metric worth measuring is the level of living at and understanding that we are all in this together.


Ontario's Horse Racing Industry Using Callous Manipulation by Warning of 13,000 Horse Slaughter

Yesterday's news piece warning of the possible slaughter of 13,000 race horses, about half the horses active in all forms of racing, by early in 2013 made me instantly recall the classic National Lampoon Magazine cover from 1973 [left]. The Horse Racing industry fears that their precious profits would be trimmed by the Ontario government's announcement some months ago that it was terminating a lucrative slots revenue sharing program with racetracks. Of course, in their infinite wisdom, nobody in the Ontario government has said what would happen if /when the racetracks shut down, especially where all those slots machines would go? Or where the government will find the $1 billion that the slots-at-racetrack program churns? But that's another story, for another day.

According to the Horse Racing Industry Transitional Panel report delivered Aug. 17 to Ted McMeekin, Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, between 7,500 to 13,000 horses are at risk for systemic 'euthanization'. Let's make one thing clear - slaughter is NOT euthanasia. There is no painless, sweet sleep awaiting any horse receiving a death sentence. Each year, tens of thousands of North American horses—riding horses, carriage horses, race horses, wild horses, and children’s ponies—are inhumanely transported and slaughtered for meat, many of them young and healthy. Of that number every year 4,000 are race horses sent to slaughter because of injuries, old age or diminished success in the racing business etc.

Glen Sikura, President of the Canadian Thoroughbred Horse Society's Ontario division said yesterday, “We’ve been so cautious not to talk about (mass euthanasia) in the industry because first of all, we’re all animal lovers and god forbid anything like that would happen.”  Glen forgot to mention all the millions of dollars he and his fellow 'animal loving' society members have made and all the luxuries they've enjoyed for generations because of the dirty money they've made on those horses and their for-bearers. He forgot to mention how many of the horses he loved he had shipped off to the slaughter house as soon as they stopped generating bling producing profits. He didn't forget to mention his or his fellow breeder's fear of not making as much profit at this coming weeks horse auction.

These racing industry profiteers know that the 'euthanasia' headlines will generate a huge outcry from real animal lovers everywhere and figure that outcry will force Ontario's minority government to reconsider its admittedly questionable plans. But it's a disingenuous and manipulative attempt because the industry also knows that there are numerous other options like horse rescues, rehabs, retraining facilities, new homes and the SPCA that they'd be forced to turn to instead by that same public outcry. A quick search just now turned up these 3 PETA approved options among the hundreds of others: The Equine Rescue League in Virginia, The Redwings Horse Sanctuary in California and United Pegasus a Canadian-Californian non-profit organization founded in 1994 dedicated to rescuing, rehabilitating, and retiring horses.

These horse racing industry folks are cut from the same cloth as the sled dog industry folks who got caught murdering all those dogs just outside of Whistler after the 2010 Olympics because they no longer were 'profitable'. Be they dogs or horses, they are our friends and partners not machines. They've given their best to the industry's selfish predatory capitalists and in return...well let's hope there's a special place in hell for these murderers.


The Brix Scale Shows Us the Real Value of our Backyard Bounty

Last week my daughter took this picture of a bowl of veggies we'd just picked out in the garden for a stir fry we'd be cooking up and eating a few minutes later. What a great dinner it was, both because of the company - my daughter - and the dinner itself. Looking back and thinking about that great dinner got me thinking about all the years of bountiful gardens we'd had and all the wonderful meals we'd all had back when we lived on our little farm just outside Roberts Creek. Were my fond memories all just a subjective pre-oldtimer's disease response? Just set and setting? Or is there really an objective, scientific rational behind those fond memories.

Turns out there is a valid objective, measurable and repeatable scientific rationale at play not just our individual subjective feelings about the company or the 'taste' or even just the freshness of my present garden's produce or that from those much larger ones of gardens past. In the 1860's a German mathematician and engineer named Alolf Brix discovered and developed a method for measuring the specific gravity of liquids, the Brix Scale, that's named after him.

Brix testing is a great way to discover the quality of fruits and vegetables. Of course you'd need a refractometer [$60-$100] and a high quality garlic press to obtain the necessary drop of juice needed because lottsa veggies, like many of those in our stir fry bowl, don't generate the pure juice drops a refractometer requires without a bitta squeezing. But if you had the gear you could, for instance, go from stall to stall at a farmers market squeezing and checking each vendors produce and determine which vendor's stuff had the highest concentration of sugars and various mineral contents. The amount of sugars and minerals in vegetables corresponds directly to the quality and health of the soil they were grown in. The healthier the soil the higher the numbers.

Granted you won't see many of even the most avid foodies using Brix Testing to measure the quality of fresh produce next weekend at the local farmer's market but the method and the correlation between soil health and veggie yummy-ness is important. Important because so many of us already know the quality difference between our backyard's bounty and the supermarket's mock vegetables and because the Brix Scale gives me/us a reliable metric to prove our stir fry is both subjectively and objectively better.

Finally, the marketing of organic veggies would get a big boost if the Brix Scale were a widely used and understood measurement of the real value of produce. Cost and value are by far the largest determinants in every market place. Without the Brix Scale, or a garden of your own to make your own quality comparisons, a carrot is a carrot, all that matters is cost. Why spend $2 on a lb. when you can buy a lb. for $1? But with a Brix Scale or garden comparison it's a lot easier to see how quality actually determines the value of that carrot not just price. So if that $2 carrot has 3 times as many sugars and minerals as the $1 carrot lottsa things change.

All of a sudden those mock GMO veggies grown with chemical fertilizers that kill the microbial content of the soil become a bad deal at any price and the real heirloom veggies grown in living soil and fed by the microbes, the compost and the manure become the only deal worth doing. So looking back now i realize that dinner the other night, and all those of bygone days, were wonderful both because of the company and the real quality of their contents.


Clint Eastwood's Chair Creates Huge Post-Convention Bump in the Polls for the Inanimate

Social media can't get enough of 'it', every newscast is commenting on 'it' and everybody the least bit interested in US poly-ticks is talking about 'it'. In just a couple days Clint Eastwood's chair routine at the Republican Convention has become a Rorschach ink blot for folks to project their inner political  paradigm upon. The LA Times, and others, saw the routine as Eastwood's channeling of the 1960s era stand-up comedy of Morey Amsterdam and Bob Newhart, some other outlets saw it as racist, others saw it a sad saga of a slightly drunken senile 82 year old coot who'd seen better days. mr. mud saw it as an obvious endorsement of the inanimate.

Has a chair ever made its fortune by closing businesses and exporting the jobs to China then taken its ill gotten gains and hidden them in off shore tax havens? Has a chair, or any of our inanimate cousins, ever run for and won a election  by lying about every issue from closing Gitmo to health care for all to taxing the rich to...it's a long list? No, in fact a chair is the epitome of a truth-teller, it supports a sitting person [or curled up cat] just it promises. It never says, like politicians in every democracy do, that if you vote for 'it' you'll be able to eat all the ice-cream you want, and then sit on your butt watching TV all day and never put on an ounce. No, an inanimate object is smarter than that.

Thankfully Romney's advisers so trusted the iconic Clint Eastwood that unlike with other speakers,  they did not conduct rehearsals or insist on a script or communicate guidelines for the style or format of his remarks. It was Clint's decision to use the chair as a prop at the last-minute. The prop person probably thought he was going to sit in it. Team Romney simply gave Clint a time limit and flashed a blinking red light that told him his time was up. He ignored both as he rambled on criticizing Obama for not closing the prison that has been holding unindicted detainees for years at Guantanamo (a clear violation of U.S. habeas corpus law and international law) among other things.

As Tom Robbins explained the division we imagine between ourselves and the inanimate is an illusion of our own making based on our limited concept of time. We define the animate, the living, as those things that move and change at a speed that our senses can register. An incorrect assumption in that not only do our cousins change and evolve externally although at rates outside our normal awareness, but internally - at the atomic level - they move, change and evolve at exactly the same rate we do. In fact, internally and microscopically we 'the animate' and they 'the inanimate' are indistinguishable.

Today those we chauvinistically call the inanimate are proud of their cousin the chair, as we all should be. It stood its ground with equanimity and in the end stood it alone on the Convention's stage and received the applause it deserved. Thanks, Clint, you made my day!