May 30th was the First Casserole Night in Powell River But Not the Last

Clanging and banging we kids of all ages marched and hooted our way up and down Donkersly Rd. last evening. It was rainy, it was fun. Our numbers were small but our joy was large like the Big Dipper casserole in the sky. This is just the beginning of something in Canada, something big, something that they are calling a "Rêve Générale"....stay tuned for more!

From coast to coast to coast in Canada, the US and around the globe groups of folks from all walks of life turned out to join in this huge 'flash mob' type solidarity protest that was organized on facebook in just 72 hours. Check out the site today and see the pictures  read through the texts, it's truly inspiring. As the site points out, it's only the beginning.

The concept of Casserole Nights has caught the imagination of folks and will continue to spread like wildfire in the upcoming weeks. Perhaps the new name of "Occupy" will become "Casserole" as more and more people from all walks of life decide to pick up their "percussion crockery" and take it to the streets.

A video [below], shot last week on May 24th, 2012, the first night of "Casserole" may have been one of the reasons this phenomenon has captured the hearts of Canadians and indeed people worldwide, as the romantically evocative black and white video went viral immediately.

Casseroles - Montréal, 24 Mai 2012 by Jeremie Battaglia 


Join 'Casseroles Across Canada' Tonight in a Great Clanging from Coast to Coast to Coast

Tonight, May 30th 2012, people will be gathering to celebrate and defend the determined student and people's movement in Quebec. It's a night of cross-Canada Casseroles, inspired by the spirited pots and pans protests of the past week in Quebec.This is a remarkable and nearly totally spontaneous coming together; the idea of a coordinated 'Casseroles Night in Canada' was hatched barely 72 hours ago in some late night twitter banter.

Tonight, with a great clanging from coast to coast to coast, we will say clearly: an injury to one is an injury to all. Jean Charest's draconian Bill 78 will not stand. Maybe the biggest lesson Quebec is teaching the rest of us is that when faced with a dour, right-wing, repressive government, it is possible and necessary to fight back. And given what Harper has been getting away with, and what he has coming down the tar sands pipelines with the ominous omnibus Bill C-38, it's urgent that we in the rest of Canada learn and apply this lesson.

The clanging of pots and pans that give the 'Casseroles' their name are a tool of protest made famous in Latin America, particularly in Chile. Last year, Chile's massive student movement brought back the pots and pans protest in a big way; last week, Chilean students sent a message of solidarity to their counterparts in Quebec. Last week also the tide turned in the Quebec protests as folks of all ages and all walks of life realized what is really at stake in the streets of Quebec is the same as what's at stake everywhere.

So tonight i'll be out there, at 8PM local time, wooden spoon and stainless steel pot in hand. It doesn't matter what the weather report says where you are today, it's a beautiful day across Canada. Quebec has kicked off a rêve générale, these may be dark times in Canada, but I hear a lot of hope in the clanging.

Casseroles across Canada: Tonight we resist and dream togetherby Derrick O'Keffe


A Shout Out to Columnist, Historian, Adventurer and Author Eric Margolis

Yesterday's superb article, 'Facing the Writing On the Wall in Kabul', at Common Dreams, by Eric Margolis is a great reminder for us all of Afghanistan's long history of being 'where empires go to die'. Margolis article begins with a description of the painting included here by Elizabeth Butler who captured in oil the triumphs and tragedies of the British Empire. Her haunting painting, “The Retreat from Kabul”, shows the sole survivor of a British army of 16,500, Dr. William Brydon, struggling out of Afghanistan in January, 1842. All the rest were killed by Afghan tribesmen after a futile attempt to garrison Kabul.

Having read a number of Margolis' impressive articles and books including his latest, 'American Raj: Liberation or Domination?: Resolving the Conflict Between the West and the Muslim World', i'm instantly excited when i see an article that says 'by Eric Margolis' because i know it'll be educational and entertaining.

For instance, one quote from yesterday's article shows both how knowledgeable and fearless Margolis' articles are: "The US goal was to turn Afghanistan into a protectorate providing bases close to Caspian Basin oil, and to block China. After an eleven-year war costing $1 trillion, this effort failed – meaning a military and political defeat."

My thanks to Eric Margolis for his lifelong candor and dedication.


Entomologists, and Others, Agree that Politics Creates Anemia in the O'romneybama Era

Entomology comes from the  Greek ἔντομος, entomos, defined as - "that which is cut in pieces". So they, entomologists, are an excellent source of insight into the fracturing of political will in our troubled times. This year's race for the Oval Office, the O'romneybama race, finds my fellow Amerikans so weakened by the artificial divisions being spun by the PR industry and spread  by the corporate media that the eventual turnout in November, despite the enormity of the problems facing the US, will probably be anemic. Amerikans, it appears, are down a quart on the dipstick and need a transfusion.

Democrats can't figure out what happened, 4 years ago they were in love with 'change you can believe in'. They believed. Now they realize they were being cheated on and lied to. Many will still sleep walk into the polls in November and punch the Democratic button but many who feel like jilted lovers, especially the young who carried the election 4 years ago, won't. Some of the jilted will vote for Jill Stein of the Green Party but many will stay home and check out their Facebook friend's status.

Republicans are cut into pieces too. Many of them will still vote for Romney but many others, especially those of born-again and Tea Party persuasions, see all Mormons as magic underwear wearing demons or worse-moderates, will either stay home or choose some ultra-conservative 3rd party to vote for.

What's happened is that there's no real choice between the major party's two Goldman Sachs sponsored candidates. It seems obvious to entomologists and the hoi polli alike that any real change in this era won't come from the ballot box but from the street. The changes needed to make any real difference are revolutionary, the divisions of left-right, Tea Party-Occupy are artificially created divisions in what is a continuous spectrum. Every revolution needs two essential ingredients: young people, who are willing to dream, and poor people, who have nothing to lose. These ingredients are growing in every corner of Amerika, they're created by the corporate banksters and the blood-sucking politicians who serve them. The rule of the few will only end when the presently divided anemic many are re-untied on the streets.


My Outlaw Retirement Plan Includes a Free Lunch at the Hard Luck Cafe

Imagine a retirement home that fits any budget, where the weather is warm and sunny almost every day of the year, where there's a roof over your head, where new and old friends who share your views move in almost every day, where transportation [one way] is provided, where there's lottsa dogs hanging around and where you get 3 free meals a day including lunch at the local Hard Luck Cafe. Who could ask for more?

Been reading about how our governments here in the US and Canuckistan are building these places for us malcontents all across North Amerika. They're often called FEMA Concentration Camps by the conspiracy whackos. The whackos just don't seem to get it, they protest our Dear Leaders' attempts to secure our retirements in the courts with challenges to their "God" given right to pass laws like the NDAA in Amerika and C-10 in The Great White North. Luckily though our courts in North Amerika are owned and operated by the banks and corporations so our future abodes are secure.

The only big real problem seemed to be how to guarantee myself a room in one of these facilities. But fortunately today the answer arrived in an email from an old friend [and maybe future neighbor]. If you too are looking for a retirement living option that fits your post-foreclosure financial profile here's the secret. Big Brother is' monitering' your every email and phone call, thank gord, and it has a list of hundreds of words that they consider subversive.

So it's simple, all we've got to do to get a ticket to a retirement home is give a buncha folks a call or an email with enough of those wonderful words in 'em and voila, they'll arrive at your door with your ticket. Another smaller problem seemed to be how to guarantee a room where the climate is right, the Caribbean's nice, apparently there's one in Cuba set aside for the folks our Dear Leaders are REALLY worried about. So my plan is to write a Mud Report that somehow uses every damned one of those forbidden hundreds of words then publish it as soon as the time's right. See ya in Gitmo!


Jerry Griffo Inspires Others to Believe Anything is Possible

When history graduate Jerry Griffo walked across the commencement stage during the College of Humanities, Arts, Behavioral and Social Sciences ceremony on Saturday, May 19, he was astounded as his fellow graduates rose from their seats to give him a standing ovation. At the age of 65, Griffo is one of the oldest graduates in CSUSM’s Class of 2012.- Graduate Inspires Standing Ovation

“I was totally unprepared for the response from the crowd,” Griffo recalls. “I’m extremely flattered and also convinced that their applause and support wasn’t as much about me, as it was for what I represent… someone following their dreams. It strikes a chord with people and reminds us that anything is possible.”

Met Jerry about 35 years ago and his unique energy, enthusiasm and intelligence shone brighter even than the sparkling sun on the San Juan Capistrano beach where we started our first adventure together. That day Jerry led me through the Mission at San Juan during which he taught me about Mission Architecture, the mustard seed the Missionaries scattered whose bright yellow flowers marked the route from mission to mission that eventually became known as El Camino Real. He taught me about ornithology about the geology, sedimentology and the water drainage of the area and a whole buncha other stuff and it was still barely mid-afternoon.

We've met up a number of times through the decades either in California, on the road to Mexico or up here in British Columbia and it never changes, i learn, soak up really, from the wellspring of Jerry's energy, enthusiasm and intelligence. At one point in our adventures, when i was renovating and adding on to his house in Carlsbad, we spent many hours, days and months together eating from his orchard/garden, playing cribbage, solving the world's problems and sharing a few drinks to replenish the sweat we'd dripped on the job. In all of those hours and all of the others we've spent together i've continued to bask in Jerry's easily shared radiance. It's hardly surprising to me he got a standing ovation or that his message is that "anything is possible".


The Sunshine Coast Trail - A Stunningly Beautiful Recreational Experience Around Powell River, BC

The Sunshine Coast Trail is a 180 km long hiking corridor in the Powell River area of the Upper Sunshine Coast of BC that connects patches of old growth forest, numerous lakes and alpine areas from Saltery Bay to Sarah Point. This huge volunteer built project started in 1992 when a handful of outdoor enthusiasts realized that there was a vanishing amount of accessible old growth left on the Upper Sunshine Coast. They formed the Powell River Parks and Wilderness Society a registered, non-profit, charitable society, to set aside protected areas linked by corridors.

The Powell River Parks and Wilderness Society [PRPAWS] membership approached this staggering goal one trail at a time. Largely through volunteer labor, the organization built new trails, at times integrating already existing ones. The Sunshine Coast is one of the most beautiful places on earth surrounded as it is by ocean and covered by forests, mountains and lakes. The SCT website includes many pictures of the stunning views and of the construction of cabins along the route.

The trail is seeing ever increasing use from locals and out-of-towners alike and is beginning to realize its potential as a great tourist attraction. This 180km trek, twice as long as Vancouver Island’s West Coast Trail, has Sarah Point (past Lund) as its northern terminus and ends at Saltery Bay in the south. Sarah Point is accessed by the Lund Water Taxi [Call (604) 483-9749 for pricing and schedule and to make reservations]. A detailed map is available on the SCT website showing the locations of all the campsites and cabins along the trail.

Lots of other information about the trail like the current trail conditions are available on the website as well. The Powell River Parks and Wilderness Society also has a seasonal newsletter and for even more detailed information one of the original founders of the society and environmentalist Eagle Walz has published his 3rd Edition of the Sunshine Coast Trail Guidebook. 

The Sunshine Coast Trail is a testimony to the hard work and love of the local volunteers who built and maintain it. It's these wonderful people who make Powell River the community it is. Time after time, week after week, i realize how lucky i am to have moved here and to have connected with them. Powell River will one day, as the masses in Vancouver overflow their confines be an oasis of sanity because of the wonderful folks who are here now preserving areas like The Sunshine Coast Trail.


'Small is Beautiful', the Mantra of the New Economy Movement

As E.F. Schumacher said, 'Small is Beautiful' and today's article 'Cooperative Banking in the Aquarian Age' by Ellen Brown is an excellent, well written, well referenced example of it's economic truth. Ellen's books and articles, including her latest book, 'Web of Debt', show how the private banking cartel has usurped the power to create money from the people themselves, and how we the people can get it back.

Her article is part of a larger series on 'The Rise of the New Economy Movement' wherein activists, theorists, organizations and ordinary citizens discuss the rebuilding of the American political-economic system from the ground up. It is a wonderful, optimistic 5 part series on Alternet that i highly recommend.

COMER also has the same basic perspective but from a Canadian perspective. COMER is an international publishing and education resource based in Toronto, Canada, and is comprised of people who are concerned about the destabilizing effects current economic and monetary policies have had, and are having, on the citizens of Canada and other countries. They advocate for changes in monetary policy (monetary reform) through revisions in the Bank of Canada Act.

Each of these individuals and groups of course face the same headwinds of established power invested in the international corporate banking oligarchy that right now the people of Greece, as well as the rest of us, are facing. The threats and the bribes being offered by the European Central Bank and the IMF show that they are worried, show that Greece's influence goes far beyond their relatively small area. Greece is the next domino, before it, a decade ago, Argentina was the first, a few years ago Iceland followed, if now Greece too gives the banksters the middle finger salute soon Spain, Portugal, Ireland, Italy and hopefully the rest of us will follow too.


Julian Assange's 'The World Tomorrow' Interviews Have Been Remarkable

Yesterday i watched Julian Assange's interview of  Rafael Correa, President of Ecuador, on RT.com. Please watch it yourself, it's...remarkable. Rafael Correa, who has a Phd in economics, has changed Equador from a backward colony of the oil oligarchy into an independent economic giant in Latin America by buying out/nationalizing the oil resources and using the profits for the good of the Equadorian people.

Like each of Assange's guests, Correa was asked tough questions by Assange each of which he fielded with intelligent, graceful and humorous aplomb. In one early part of the interview Correa quoted Evo Morales in answering Assange's question about America's image in Latin America, "There's only one country that is 100% certain it won't suffer a coup, the US. That's because there's no US embassy there."

Assange is of course under attack not only for his world shaking website Wikileaks but also now for his interview show. His critics claim Assange is being used as a puppet by the Kremlin to disseminate Russian propaganda. Watch for yourself and see, many others have including American journalist Glen Greenwald who's quote is below is about Assange's first show where he interviews Hezbollah leader Nasrallah. All of Assange's past shows are available here.

"The interview with Nasrallah was pretty remarkable. Assange criticized Nasrallah for failing to support the citizens of Syria fighting against the Assad government. The Russian government has been an ally of the Assad government. He asked him about corruption and deceit at the highest levels of Hezbollah. So the positions Assange took in his very first interview were directly contrary to the policy of the Russian government. I’d say it gives great credence to Assange’s claim of his editorial independence. It makes those claiming otherwise look like deceivers and liars." - Glen Greenwald 


Re-Framing the Montreal Student Protests

As Montreal gears up for 100th day of student protests which will see a huge mass march by unionists and students followed by a  rally and who knows what it's important to look at how this confrontation between the students and the Quebec government is being framed by the mainstream media. Framing determines the parameters of the discussion in almost every case and as we all know by now the mainstream media, because it's a whore for its corporate advertisers, can't ever allow the discussion to question the underlying class struggle.

In this case what the mainstream media wants us all to focus on is how tuition fees in Quebec are the lowest in Canada not on why. If we allow ourselves to only follow this channel we inevitably end up saying something like, "What are they bitching about?". Instead of, "Why is the government raising the fees?"

Quebec, like every neo-liberal beholding government-even those with massive resource export economies, is caught in a trap whereby the cost of delivering services is rising and their revenues are dropping. Quebec, like the rest, is governed indirectly by the elites who control the re-election campaign purse strings for the wanna-be elites who we call politicians. So the only solution these guys can possibly advance for their predicament is cutbacks, austerity, less services-whatever you want to call it. Their solution, and the media's representation of their solution, is always on the outlay side, never on the income side because any talk of raising taxes would dictate a re-framing of the question into one of social justice, one of taxing those most able to pay which is of course the corporations and the elites, the whore masters.

The argument going on in Quebec is the same  argument  going on in Europe, the same  argument that's been going on in Latin America for decades, in the Middle East, in Africa, in the tent cities of foreclosed Americans, in the doorways where the homeless sleep-it's the same  argument  that has caused every war, every economic depression and every revolution in history. The Quebec Spring is the Arab Spring, it's Europe's debt crisis, it's...it's why Arcade Fire, Mick Jagger and mr. mud are wearing red squares on their clothes today. “Their uprising is inspiring!” Micheal Moore said yesterday. In Montreal today thousands will march, Montreal today, tomorrow the world.


Keep the Peace - Stop the Site C Dam

The Site C Dam Project is undergoing a joint environmental assessment (EA) review by the federal and provincial governments. Written comments can be mailed or submitted online and will be accepted until June 1st. Click Here to 'Have Your Say'

The Peace River Valley, in the northeast corner of British Columbia, is home to Treaty 8 First Nations’ hunting, fishing, and trapping grounds, old growth boreal forests, and is one of the most important wildlife corridors in the Yellowstone to Yukon migration corridor chain. In addition the land that would be flooded by the damn dam is the best agricultural land in northern BC, with the only class one soil north of Quesnel.

BC Hydro says it is because we need the energy, but we don’t, their own reports say we can meet demands through energy conservation. Site C is not about meeting the electricity demands of British Columbians; it is about exporting electricity (for air conditioners in California) and expanding BC’s gas and mining industries. "Site C and B.C.'s proposed LNG development go hand in hand", according to Premier Christy Clark, "The newly approved licence for Shell to export liquefied natural gas out of Kitimat will use 100 per cent of the power Site C would create. We cannot create this new industry in British Columbia, by adding value to natural gas, without the power that would come from Site C."

Site C fails to meet minimum international standards for large dam construction. Although the BC government is presenting the $8 billion hydro project as a "clean energy project", Site C would increase annual greenhouse gas emissions in British Columbia by almost 150,000 tonnes. The project's carbon footprint derives from construction emissions, from emissions created by the flooded boreal forest as it decays and will block the natural sequestration of atmospheric carbon dioxide that would have occurred over that huge area.

The ongoing environmental assessment (EA) review hearings by the federal and provincial governments are only being held in the area near the proposed dam's site. Those opposing the damn thing say its undemocratic and foolish that B.C. Hydro isn’t holding public meetings provincewide considering that First Nations in the territory around the dam site are united in their opposition to the dam, as are the people who live in the valley that will be flooded—the farmers and the ranchers and such. Opponents believe that certainly southern cities, who will be asked to foot the bill for this thing, should be brought into it the public consultations. Site C would require the largest single deletion of agricultural land in the province’s history—over 5,000 acres of prime agricultural land pulled out of the ALR [Agricultural Land Reserve].

Have Your Say on the Proposed Site C Dam


National Nurses United Has a Solution to Heal the World

On Friday, wearing red National Nurses United (NNU) scrubs calling for "an economy for the 99%" and zippy green Robin Hood hats, nurses from around the globe were campaigning on the idea of the Robin Hood Tax as the solution to heal world.

It wasn’t just the NNU who filled Daley Plaza on Friday, they were joined by Occupy Chicago, by veterans, by United Mine Workers, by musicians, by local Chicago activists, by representatives of international economic justice organizations, by rock and rollers including Tom Morello, a labor activist and world-famous guitarist from the band Rage Against the Machine [see video below] and by famed "Chicago 8" protester Tom Hayden who spoke publicly in Chicago for the first time in 44 years.

Today some 20,000 activists, led by Iraq Veterans Against the War are marching in Chicago to protest the continuing war in Afghanistan. Yesterday thousands protested against the neo-liberal austerity agenda all across Europe. It appears that the veil is dropping from the eyes of the 99% worldwide.

“Lifetimes of insecure, low-wage labor or prison—this is very close to the “indentured servitude” that was abolished along with slavery by the 13th Amendment to the Constitution, ratified in 1865. The freed slaves are being recaptured by debt, beginning with the debt of school loans, followed by credit card debt, mortgage debt, and healthcare costs.' - Ellen Brown

Tom Morello closed out the rally with his famous “Worldwide Rebel Song” 


Harper Government Once Again Serving its Corporate Benefactors by Shutting Down Experimental Lakes Research Facility

Scientists from Harvard University, the Smithsonian Institute, and other elite research centres worldwide are condemning the Harper government for shutting down a world-class freshwater research program that Federal officials say, "is no longer aligned with the department's mandate and is not responding to our research priorities." The famous research facility in Ontario is the latest victim of federal budget cuts. Unions said this was a fragment of the more than 1,000 notices sent Thursday to Fisheries and Canadian Coast Guard employees about imminent layoffs.

What then are those priorities?  Dr. David Schindler, now at the University of Alberta, who is an internationally renowned freshwater scientist, said "It's obvious in the changes to the Fisheries Act and the CEAA (Canadian Environmental Assessment Act) they are hellbent on doing whatever they can that, in their feeble minds, will save them some money." he concluded his remarks by saying, "They're obviously closing the site because they don't want to be pestered by science."

David Krabbenhoft, a Wisconsin-based geochemist with the United States Geological Survey, points out that the mining industry, for instance, hated the ELA. Krabbenhoft, who worked for years on the mercury project, said the research was specifically designed to answer a vexing policy question -- what real good would it do to crack down on mercury emissions when the Earth's soil and water are already contaminated with centuries of mercury buildup? By deliberately adding mercury to a lake and to the surrounding watershed and watching the effects for a decade, researchers found that, in fact, curtailing emissions does a world of good. Gold mining companies everywhere were forced to curtail their rampant mercury use because of this research.

In another landmark experiment in the 1970s, researchers divided up a lake into two parts to study the effects of phosphates on the water, assuming that they were behind the phenomenon of oxygen-depriving blue-green algae. Companies who made and sold household detergents and shampoos rigorously denied that phosphates were the reason that lakes were becoming green and murky rather than remaining crystal clear. Of course the researchers showed that one side of the lake turned green the other remained clear costing those companies millions to change their products.

The ELA also pioneered the investigations into acid rain which ended up costing the corporations billions to clean up their acts. The Harper government has billions of dollars to spend on ridiculous programs like the F-35 jets and prisons in their favorite ridings both of which curry favor with their benefactors and kickbacks for themselves but consistently gut any program that protects the environment from the pollution caused by the corporations who support the Conservatives. Harper and his corporate ass-kissing cronies are the worst thing that ever happened to Canada.


Why Exporting Raw Bitumen Instead of Refining it in Canada is Bad for Canadians

Yesterday's Article 'Keep the oilsands' wealth at home' in the Vancouver Sun by Economist Robyn Allan is just the latest in a series of articles she's written in the last few months where Allan argues that the economics of exporting raw bitumen do not stand up to serious scrutiny. Robyn Allan has outlined in her past articles why the Enbridge and Kinder Morgan pipelines will harm Canadian economy and that it's a "false dichotomy" to suggest that the pipeline proposals are a question of either supporting economic growth or promoting the environment and First Nations' rights.

In her most recent article yesterday she spoke to the question of 'winners and losers' created by the Conservative government's insistence that exporting raw, unrefined, bitumen to Asia and the US is a priority for Canadian economic security. Allan points out that the multinational oil companies and companies owned by countries - such as China-the same companies that own Canadian exploration and production rights also own the refineries in the U.S. and China. They don't like our higher labour and environmental standards.

"Upgrading and refining are where the jobs and economic wealth come from - not ripping it and shipping it to foreign countries so they reap the gain from turning Canada's raw resources into end-user products." Allan says our energy resources "will be shipped as bitumen along with the jobs, labour income and government revenues that go with it. Alberta's new energy strategy is actually hollowing the downstream capabilities of the oil industry."

Back in pre-collapse 2008, Alberta's oil producers announced a wide range of upgrading and refining conversion projects to process crude oil at home. But when oil prices tumbled at that time so did investment capital for the proposed refining capacity expansion. If those new facilities had been built western crude could flow to Eastern Canada - along with the economic benefits of energy independence. Refining our raw materials, creating secondary industries be it in the oil industry of the forest industry where exporting raw logs is just as stupid, keeps the money, jobs and government revenues of value-added production and wealth at home.

So the winners of Harper's get rich quick schemes are the multi-national oil giants and the Canadian oil oligarchy along with the Conservative party who are the beneficiaries of their corporate largess. The losers are the rest of us in Canuckistan.


National Nurses United to Lead Huge Rally in Chicago Tomorrow in Support of a Robin Hood Tax

On Friday, May 18, NNU members will gather in Chicago to call for the tax, they will be joined by nursing representatives from the UK, Italy, Canada, Guatemala, Germany, and South Korea. The rally  will be led by National Nurses United, the nation's largest union of nurses with over 170,000 members, and is endorsed by more than 100 organizations of labor, environmentalists and consumer advocates.

The centerpiece of the rally is a call for a Robin Hood tax, a small levy of 50 cents or less on $100 of trades of stocks, bonds, derivatives and other financial instruments that could raise up to $350 billion every year in revenue. The money generated by a Robin Hood Tax could be used for social programs and job creation - ultimately to help people who, without a doubt, need it more than the banks do. Though the power and influence of Big Banking is intimidating the National Nurses Union has an inspiring history of defeating some of the toughest opponents in government and politics.

The National Nurses Union stands, time and again, for the health of their patients. They realize, as once upon a time all unions did, that the health their clients, their patients, can not be divided from the health of the community they are a part of. To this end the NNU supports many causes whose diverse goals center on the broadest possible well being for us all.

Once upon a time all unions understood that their members well being could only advance in step with the progress of the well being of all workers, in today's parlance-the 99%. Unlike the vast majority of modern unions who have devolved into special interest groups who, like corporations, solely focus is on the well being of their shareholders, their membership, and have lost sight of the fact that we are all stakeholders in this one world, the NNU still stands for the real values of the union movement. Good on 'em!


The Living Planet Report by the WWF Focuses on the Calamity of Conspicious Consumption

The Living Planet Report is the world's leading, science-based analysis on the health of our only planet and the impact of human activity. Its key finding? Humanity's demands exceed our planet's capacity to sustain us. That is, we ask for more than what we have. The report, endorsed by the European Space Agency, says in part, "...the only people on Earth who are living within their means are those in the poorest nations - their "footprint" exactly matches the "biocapacity" in their countries." and that "the oxymoron of endless economic growth must be abandoned."

As Prof. Richard Pollay's decades of research into the character and social consequences of advertising has clearly shown those of us who live in consumer cultures are manipulated by advertising but are also driven to unsustainable consumption by peer pressure and by the fear of rejection and judgement by 'others'.

Who, then, are these 'others' whose judgement so many in our consumer cultures fear? Are they powerful individuals? Are they individuals at all? Are they real at all or are 'they' projections of the inner insecurities held the fearful themselves? What, then, is this phantom called culture whose power to judge can so often, and so predictably, manipulate and drive the consumer to seek fulfillment through retail therapy?

Does this phantom, this culture of consumption, have any existence beyond the insecurity of its participants? Of course not. This culture, like all cultures, is simply the product of our collective imaginings, of our collective will. The buyological-urge metaphor that Adbusters used in its Buy-Nothing Day campaign and The Living Planet Report both try, in different ways, to tear down the veil of culturally derived collective preconceptions that drive the unsustainable consumption of the limited resources on this one small planet in an impossible attempt to satiate a phantom.

Homo Shopus: The final stage in our evolution?


Mainstream Media's 'Chicken Little' Response to Greek Default Reflects Their Investor Class Myopia

Here comes the Drachmas, hooray. The poor and downtrodden of the world never see their best interests trumpeted in the lamestream media and it's absolutely true again in the case of Greece's popular revolt against the elites. The corporate media, like the investor class itself, has one group's best interests at heart-their own. The corporate media, which means every mass media outlet be it print or broadcast, is totally beholden to owners whose sole interest is maximizing profits. Profits are only generated by income from advertisers. Advertisers only want see no evil-speak no evil-hear no evil stories about economic growth for the consumer-investor class.

Real information about world events can only be found on small independent internet outlets who don't have to rely on the capitalist system for their survival. One consistent ruse being used by the corporate media in their constant drumbeat that Greek default will cause untold hardship for Greeks is where they use Argentina's experience as an example. Uga-Buga-be very afraid they say, but then go on to only use the problems in the first year of Argentina's actual experience and refuse to mention that in the following ten years Argentina has prospered despite the IMF and World Bank's Chicken little type prognostications. Argentina right now is one of the fastest growing most successful countries in the world because they dumped the interests of the global bloodsuckers in favor of the interests of their average citizens.

Greek debt is a function of the obsession of their generals and corrupt politicians having spent billions of dollars on totally unnecessary military hardware. After the next round of elections, after the Greeks throw the banksters out, the newly elected people's government should give back the useless jets and submarines to their US, French and German manufacturers and offer to send the generals, politicians and bankers a one way ticket to ride along on the return trip.

As Costas Lapavitsas Professor of economics, School of Oriental and Asian Studies, University of London said today, "Greek default and exit would remove the pressure of debt, boosting competitiveness, lifting austerity and allowing for proper restructuring of the economy and society." What the investor class fears most about how the Greeks are rising up on their hind legs and giving the banksters the finger is the fact that the Portuguese, the Irish, the Spanish, the Italian and the rest of the people everywhere will open their eyes, stretch the arms and wave their middle fingers too.

Chávez's Economics Lesson for EuropeHugo Chávez's rejection of the neoliberal policies dragging Europe down sets a hopeful example to Greece and beyond.

For Greece – and Europe – the true calamity is to delay exiting the euroOne thing only is certain. A year on, Greece will be on the mend and everyone will wonder why exit took so long, and why anyone believed the fools who said it would be an inconceivable calamity.


The Blue Jays are Canada's Team

This past weekend it's been great fun watching the 4 game series between The Blue Jays and the Twins down in Minneapolis. The games were close and the teams split the series 2-2. Blue Jays slugger Jose Bautista seemed to find his stroke just as Ricky Romero and Kyle Drebek seemed to lose the strike zone.

But the real fun was watching the thousands of fans from all over the prairie provinces who'd followed their Jays down to Minneapolis to watch the series. Like the series, the stands were split pretty evenly too. Often competitive cheering matches broke out between the fans, especially late in the games after a few brewskis had been had by all sides. As most folks know just behind hockey comes beer drinking on the Canadian hit parade and the prairie folks didn't let that image down.

On Friday night the crowd from the great white north started cheering 'Go Canada Go' instead of their regular 'Go Jays Go' chant which naturally brought boos followed by U! S! A! cheers from the Twinkies home crowd. Back and forth it went, it got so loud eventually even the broadcasters, who seldom mention anything even remotely political in nature, had to talk about it.

The Jays fans had driven from Calgary, Regina, Saskatoon, Winnipeg and a hundred other little places to get there. So many of them came they clogged up the border crossings and filled up the motels and bars. The same kinda scene happens whenever the Jays play a series in Seattle or Detroit. In fact Canadians either displaced by work or on holidays can often be seen wearing the colors and draining a few cold ones at ball parks wherever the Jays are playing. All the Blue Jays' games are telecast coast to coast to coast up here in Canuckistan and they've truly become major league baseball's version of Canada's team.


Occupy Misses the Point That All Economic Activity, All 'Markets', are Driven by the Demand Side

The Occupy movement has done an excellent job of creating a space in our cultural dialogue for the discussion of class consciousness by inserting the 99% meme into our worldviews. Now that the idea packet-the meme-has wiggled through our veils of perception it seems obvious, it's not something new, it's always been there but has, until now, been a hazy unfocused mirage.

That's how our mental machinery works. Once an idea packet  has wiggled its way past our belief/bullshit sensors and become part of our newly evolved worldview we see it as obvious. That's true too for another huge part of day to day economics in our consumer driven culture. All economic activity, all markets are demand side driven. Every exchange of goods or money can be reduced to supply and demand. There is no market without demand, supply simply grows and slows to meet it.

As economist Erik Lindberg says, "All economists know, a decline in consumer spending, confidence, and optimism, can plunge an economy into recession. This entirely uncontroversial view is one step away from its categorical version which turns out to be the foundation of liberal economics: that not only can a lack of demand cause a recession, the lack of demand—when considered in its broadest sense--is really the ONLY thing that could cause an economic recession or slow down."

It seems obvious then that though the 1% unfairly benefit from our culture's unequal resource distribution we the 99% only have ourselves to blame. Of course, there are manipulative advertising gimmicks that can marginally increase demand for one brand of plastic bullshit over another but if there is no underlying demand for the commodity or service the supply lines dwindle to zero. So if we didn't already believe in the free lunch delusion we'd never be taken in by the consumer therapy flim flam. As Pogo famously said, "i've seen the enemy and he is us."


The Biggest Step Toward Lowering Your Carbon Footprint is Lowering Your Meat Consumption

Producing one calorie from animal protein requires 11 times as much fossil fuel input—releasing 11 times as much carbon dioxide—as does producing a calorie from plant protein. As Michael Pollan famously said, “A vegan in a Hummer has a lighter carbon footprint than a beef eater in a Prius.”

A double quarter-pounder with cheese from McDonald’s, for instance, takes 26 ounces of oil to produce. That means thirteen pounds of carbon into the air, which is the equivalent of burning seven pounds of coal. But that's only part of the hidden cost. Feeding massive amounts of grain and water to farmed animals and then killing them and processing, transporting, and storing their flesh is extremely energy-intensive. In addition, enormous amounts of carbon dioxide stored in trees are released during the destruction of vast acres of forest to provide pastureland and to grow crops for farmed animals.

On top of that, a recent study by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations found that the animals' burps, the nitrous oxide gases and large quantities of carbon dioxide coming from their decomposing manure and other factors, including the energy needed to store and transport meat, were responsible for 18 percent of greenhouse gas emissions - more than the world's entire transportation sector.

Turns out that not eating meat is the 'single most effective thing you can do' to reduce your climate change impact. Of course not everyone is going to stop eating meat but there are alternatives to the most environmentally destructive industrial production model of meat production and organic grass fed beef is one such example. The fact is that the true costs of our conspicuous consumption, in every part of our lives not just on our plates, are hidden from view on purpose because if the true full costs of our folly were evident we'd change our actions.


California's 'Right to Know' Initiative Demanding Mandatory Labeling of GMO Foods Leading the Way

The Committee for the Right to Know is a grassroots coalition of consumer, public health, environmental organizations, and food companies in California that is seeking the mandatory labeling of genetically engineered foods (GMOs). Last week the committee delivered a 1 million signature petition to the 58 county registrars throughout the state exceeding the number required to get the question on November's ballot..

In an large advance poll, 75%+ of Californians said they would vote for Mandatory Labeling of Genetically Engineered Foods! If this initiative passes, it will be a huge step towards the transparency people deserve. Once people KNOW what is in their food, they can then make the informed choice to avoid the potential health risks of GMOs until more research on their long-term effects can be done.

50 countries with over 40% of the world’s population already label genetically engineered foods, including the entire European Union. Even China labels genetically engineered foods. Why are Canada and the US governments so adamantly against mandatory labeling? Why are our government's regulations making the chemical industry giants happy at our expense? It's always the same answer, money honey.

Our governments are owned and operated by and for the corporate interests that 'pay the piper'. Our subservient corporate owned media dances to the same tune. Here, on this one issue, though the people of California have the opportunity to start the ball rolling in the opposite direction. Huge majorities in every jurisdiction in North America agree with the Californians and California is such a huge demographic that mandatory labeling there would force the food industries everywhere in North America to change their labeling because it would be to costly to create separate systems in separate jurisdictions.

Please watch this stirring video of Pamm Larry at the 'Right to Know Rally' in San Francisco.


Military Contractor's Bribes to Bureancrats and Elected Officials are the Major Cause of Greece's Debt Problems

"Germany became Germany partly because for 62 years it did not have to think about military expenditure," said Angelos Philippides, a prominent economist. "For a long time Greece spent 7% of its GDP on defence when other European countries spent an average 2.2%. If you were to add up that compound 5% from 1946 to today, there would be no debt at all."- the Gaurdian.

I am 100% certain that in absolute terms its defence expenditure is much greater than official documents would show due to the so-called secret funds the state has access to," said Katerina Tsoukala, a Brussels-based security expert. "Greece has never had a transparent and democratic defence procurement strategy. Instead, everything is veiled in secrecy which inevitably leads to bribery."

Greece's generals, bureaucrats and politicians live like kings on the bribes they routinely accept from the military contractors who court them. Yet the 'market' continues to spin the story of Greek debt as one of a slovenly coddled underclass who has demanded a free lunch and now refuses to pay their taxes. Nothing could be further from the truth. The truth is the elites in Greece, as they continue to do everywhere, are the bloodsuckers who've drained the Greek treasury dry. Now, because the 'markets' have used Greek debt as an insurance swindle, the banksters are in fear of losing some of their ill-gotten gains because [load willin] Greece is going to default on the swindlers and dump the military pimps who've stolen their country.

There's a lesson here for us in Canuckistan too. Remember all the cash Mulroney was caught with in the hotel room? Remember Hans Schreiber, Air Canada and the Areobus? Remember the helicopter deal the last Conservative government tried pushing through? Now what about the $25 billion the lying Harperites want to spend on the needless jet fighters? How much baksheesh do you think the various Harper cronies are in line for from McDonald-Douglas?

German 'hypocrisy' over Greek military spending has critics up in arms Athens' fondness for weaponry, and willingness of Germany and France to feed it, under fire as Greece struggles with debt crisis


Learning About 'Sheep to Shawl' and More From Fran and Simon at Periwinkle Farm

Just down the road here in Black Point south of Powell River is the wonderful little Periwinkle Farm. Stopped by there for a visit a few days ago and learned tons about their beautiful flock of Babydoll sheep and about Fran and Simon's hard work and dedication to their passion about fibre and their larger vision.

Fran and Simon breed Olde English Babydoll Miniature Southdown sheep on their small acreage. The little sheep are extremely cute and very friendly. They sell sheep to folks starting their own flocks of course but most interesting to a know nothing like me is their 'sheep to shawl' production. Once a year the Babydolls are sheared, then their wool is washed, carded, spun, and woven or knitted into a finished product. Fran showed me various samples of the angora and wool fibres at their different stages, a visit to her blog shows the process in pictures and words.

Fran and Simon also mill organic flours which they sell at the local farmers' markets. They also make fresh multigrain pasta with the organic grains that they sell locally.

During my tour of Periwinkle Farm i also learned about their greater vision of expanding their business horizontally along the lines of the Fibershed Project's model. Their plan is to bring other local folks, weavers-knitters-spinners-farmers-clothing designers-etc. into a local community collective that produces clothes and goods from local fibres, made with local labor and sold to local folks. This small scale, local, hands on business model is the future for all types agriculture, all types of production really, be it now-because of the carbon footprint issue and the value gained by keeping the money circulating in your own community-or out of necessity in a post-economically collapsed future. Small is beautiful at Periwinkle Farm


Ernest Callenbach's [Author of Ecotopia] Last Words to an America in Decline

Just finished reading a fantastic unpublished article found on the computer of Ecotopia author Ernest Callenbach after his death, it's titled 'Epistle to the Ecotopians: Last Words to an America in Decline'. Callenbach's novel Ecotopia, published in '75, changed the paradigm of millions. In his last few months, knowing his ultimate fate awaited ,as it does for all of us, he wrote another excellent visionary treatise full of truth but less optimistic than his famous novel which was so influential on the counterculture, and the green movement then and now.

The last 3 paragraphs of this article, quoted below, encourage us to "embrace decay, for it is the source of all new life and growth":

Humans tend to try to manage things: land, structures, even rivers. We spend enormous amounts of time, energy, and treasure in imposing our will on nature, on preexisting or inherited structures, dreaming of permanent solutions, monuments to our ambitions and dreams. But in periods of slack, decline, or collapse, our abilities no longer suffice for all this management. We have to let things go.

All things “go” somewhere: they evolve, with or without us, into new forms. So as the decades pass, we should try not always to futilely fight these transformations. As the Japanese know, there is much unnoticed beauty in wabi-sabi -- the old, the worn, the tumble-down, those things beginning their transformation into something else. We can embrace this process of devolution: embellish it when strength avails, learn to love it.

There is beauty in weathered and unpainted wood, in orchards overgrown, even in abandoned cars being incorporated into the earth. Let us learn, like the Forest Service sometimes does, to put unwise or unneeded roads “to bed,” help a little in the healing of the natural contours, the re-vegetation by native plants. Let us embrace decay, for it is the source of all new life and growth. - Ernest Callenbach (1929-2012)

Epistle to the Ecotopians: Last Words to an America in Decline by Ernest Callenbach - Let us embrace decay, for it is the source of all new life and growth.


Greek Voters Sending a Message That Scares the Elites Worldwide

Today is election day in Greece and France and citizens of both countries are throwing the bums out. But it's in Greece where the real cutting edge of anti-capitalist, anti-elite, anti-banker induced austerity is cutting the deepest. "The 'crisis' has revealed a creative potential among a large part of the population in Greece. There is no doubt that Greece is today at the forefront of global resistance against capitalism. Creativity and steadfastness of the resistance movement to inspire people's fights across the continent. But it also scares the elites - worldwide." - AlJazeera.com

The far-right in Greece is being used as a scare tactic against the radical left and the prospects of a popular rebellion by the elites. The war of the elites is not against fascism - or racism, for that matter. The existential threat to their regime comes principally from the prospect of a popular uprising which should have been underway already.

As The Mud Report has said before the solution for Greece to its elite induced debt is to gallop out of the Euro, to re-establish the Drachma so its value can be allowed to be cut. An article, 'Argentina's Model, an Alternative to Austerity', two days ago by Mark Weisbrot gives great voice to the same argument and shows clearly that Argentina's record levels of employment and massive reductions in poverty have little to do with exports. All the beleaguered Euro-zone economies now suffering under the policies currently being imposed – especially the weaker ones – are similar to what Argentina went through during the depression that led to its default and devaluation.

Argentina's population stood up to their elites and threw them out of power despite exactly the same 'chicken little' type scare mongering by the IMF and World Bank. Now a decade later Argentina is leading the western world in growth, not simply economic growth, but growth in pride, growth in achievement and is a shining example for all of us everywhere that scares the 1% who sees that it's nearing the end of its reign of terror everywhere.


Why Climate Science and Environmental Studies are Always Open to Attack by Skeptics

There were two excellent large scale studies released this week, one on the disaster of biodiversity loss, the other on the rapid changes in the temperature of the deep ocean beneath Antarctica. Both studies are done by large multi-national teams of highly respected researchers. Both are peer reviewed and published in the most respected scientific journals in their fields.

First out was the study 'Deep Ocean Beneath Antarctic Responding Rapidly to Climate Change'. The researchers in this case said, "The causes of the observed changes in the Southern Ocean are not yet fully understood. Changes in winds, sea ice, precipitation, or melt of floating glacial ice around the edge of Antarctica may be responsible. Further that, "The Southern Ocean is particularly important because it stores more heat and carbon dioxide released by human activities than any other region, and so helps to slow the rate of climate change," Dr Rintoul said. "A key goal of our work is to determine if the Southern Ocean will continue to play this role in the future."

Second is the study 'Biodiversity Loss Impacts as Great as Climate Change Impacts' The researchers found in their experiments that high levels of extinction had effects that were as great as ozone, acidification, elevated CO2 and nutrient pollution. "These extinctions may well rank as one of the top five drivers of global change." said ecologist Bradley Cardinale of the University of Michigan, one of the paper's co-authors. As a result, there has been growing concern that the very high rates of modern extinctions--due to habitat loss, over-harvesting and other human-caused environmental changes--could reduce nature's ability to provide goods and services such as food, clean water and a stable climate.

There are two types of science. One type is where operations are performed on consistant/controlled substances and whose results are repeatable, where there are controls and where the variables in each test can be changed so the various results can be compared. Of course, there we have only one earth so there can never be an unaltered control to test hypothesises against. Which brings us to the second type of science, that where the testing of hypothesises is done by running as many variables as possible on a computer model.

This modeling is always a rough [sometimes very rough] estimate of all the countless variables the real earth- the real environment has. Consequently all scientific experimentation done through modeling has some margin of error, no modeling type science can or will ever turn out an absolutely certain result. So all environmental science, all climate science, uses terms like may or could when stating their results. Here then is the door the skeptics always enter the conversation through. Nothing in climate science or environmental science can ever to certain to 100% because we only have one earth. Consequently scientists in those fields invoke the Precautionary Principle.


BC's NDP Deserves Credit for Formally Registering its Opposition to the Enbridge's Northern Gateway Project...Finally

BC's official opposition, and heir in waiting, finally came out a few days ago and registered its position to the National Energy Board’s Joint Review Panel into the Enbridge's Northern Gateway Project, good on 'em. Mostly good anyway. They do start off with a whining economic preamble designed to mimic Queen Christy's about how BC is taking the risks and Alberta is getting the dough. This hedging argument leaves the NDP open to changing their position in the future when Alberta's bribes start rolling in. But that said, their bullet points about why they object are all environmental. So they get a B+ on this one i guess.

All across Canada critics are slamming the Harper government both for their outright one-sided pro oil cabal changes to the Environment Act and for the underhanded process they are using to avoid any real debate about the wide range of harmful effects their oil industry uber-alles agenda will create.

Among the many effects of the Conservative governments agenda is the question that came from Tzeporah Berman's son the day after the news media reported that the federal government was contemplating changing the definition of domestic terrorism to include environmentalism. Her son asked, “Mommy, why does the government think you are a terrorist?” Branding good hearted people who oppose them as terrorists and child molesters is Harper's divide and conquer strategy. Hopefully it will backfire on him and his cronies across the country. Here in BC it looks like the NDP is headed for a huge majority win in the next election and this issue will probably be the one that unites the province on that upcoming election day.

If though BC's united general public opinion combined with the near unanimous agreement among First Nations doesn't work to stop the Harper government and his pipelines, if he and his cabinet decide to go ahead anyway it could lead to civil war at the BC-Alberta border. If it does, they can count on one grey haired old man and his best friend Pancho the wonder dog to be dug into the mud willing to fight to the end to protect the wild. So will many others.


May Day Event in Powell River was the Best of Times and...

Millions took to the streets around the globe yesterday making, and as Chief Dan George once famously said, "my heart soar like and eagle". At first glance there appeared to be as many issues around the world as there were participants and languages. A busy day for sign makers for sure. But were the specific issues of all the folks near and far really so different or just different symptoms of the same disease?

In Asia many carried signs demanding equal rights and social justice. In Europe many signs decried austerity programs. In N. America it was the banks and corporations that most focused on. These general issues, of course, were intermingled with the outcries of the more specific injuries that folks are suffering because of the inequities in resource allocation and class discrimination in their various locales and cultures.

Though our little gathering of occupiers in Powell River BC was at best symbolic it was fun. Mostly, like PR's demographics generally, our little gang was made up of retirees who, by virtue of our age, are survivors of the 60's protest movements. 'It was the best of times' in that we had many a passerby who honked their horns, waved, raised the peace sign and smiled broadly. 'It was the worst of times' in that it was discouraging to see none of the young people who so adamantly share their feelings on the OPR Facebook page actually showed up to show them on the street.

The few people who did stop to talk with some of our sign wielding grey haired group asked the same basic questions that seem to be being asked by folks both in the media and in general. "What do you want, what are your demands?", they asked. For many folks this lack of one or two key demands and non-existent organizational structure make the Occupy movement incoherent at best. But for me and others the Occupy movement has never been about specific demands. It's been about the issues of class awareness and inequality. It's about how the 1%  have bought our governments and, IMO, the Occupy movement has already won a huge victory by instilling into the worldview of folks everywhere the 99% vs. the 1% meme. We are the 99%, that is the issue the unites our seemingly disparate worldwide causes from every Wall St. to every Main St. around the world.


May Day Protests Circling the Globe

Marchers in Istanbul, Turkey

May Day moved beyond its roots as an international workers’ holiday to a day of international protest today. Banging drums and waving flags, tens of thousands of workers marked May Day in European cities with a mix of anger and gloom over austerity measures. Taking the baton from Asia, where unions demanded wage increases as they transformed the day from one celebrating workers' rights to one of international protest, workers turned out in droves in Greece, France and Spain.

In Macau, about 500 people marched for workers’ rights and full democracy - in Hong Kong, more than 1,000 joined a protest march - in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, some 500 people rallied-In Taiwan, several thousand anti-government protesters marched through downtown Taipei - in Indonesia, thousands of protesters demanding higher wages paraded through traffic-clogged streets in the capital, Jakarta - in the Philippine capital, Manila, more than 8,000 marched - around 100,000 people in Moscow took part in the main May Day march through the city centre - in debt-crippled Greece, more than 2,000 people marched through central Athens - in France, tens of thousands of workers, leftists and union leaders were marking May Day with marches and rallies- tens of thousands filled the streets of Spain's cities and towns [Barcelona pictured above]. in the United States and Canada, demonstrations, strikes and acts of civil disobedience are planned in hundreds of cities and towns.

There's also marches in Turkey - in Kathmandu - in Mexico City - the  complete list is impossibly long. By tomorrow we'll know how big today's uprising has been, including our Occupy Powell River protest march later this afternoon. It will be interesting to see if today's worldwide protests will inspire the 99% to rise up to the global cabal of banksters and corporations that that now control our governments and our futures. If nothing else-there's always hope.