Wednesday, May 25, 2011

10 Steps to Defeat the Corporatocracy | Economy | AlterNet

10 Steps to Defeat the Corporatocracy | Economy

10 Steps to Defeat the Corporatocracy

The only way to overcome the power of money is regain our courage and solidarity. Here's how to do that.

Many Americans know that the United States is not a democracy but a "corporatocracy," in which we are ruled by a partnership of giant corporations, the extremely wealthy elite and corporate-collaborator government officials. However, the truth of such tyranny is not enough to set most of us free to take action. Too many of us have become pacified by corporatocracy-created institutions and culture.

Some activists insist that this political passivity problem is caused by Americans' ignorance due to corporate media propaganda, and others claim that political passivity is caused by the inability to organize due to a lack of money. However, polls show that on the important issues of our day - from senseless wars, to Wall Street bailouts, to corporate tax-dodging, to health insurance rip-offs - the majority of Americans are not ignorant to the reality that they are being screwed. And American history is replete with organizational examples - from the Underground Railroad, to the Great Populist Revolt, to the Flint sit-down strike, to large wildcat strikes a generation ago - of successful rebels who had little money but lots of guts and solidarity.

The elite spend their lives stockpiling money and have the financial clout to bribe, divide and conquer the rest of us. The only way to overcome the power of money is with the power of courage and solidarity. When we regain our guts and solidarity, we can then more wisely select from - and implement - time-honored strategies and tactics that oppressed peoples have long used to defeat the elite. So, how do we regain our guts and solidarity?

1. Create the Cultural and Psychological "Building Blocks" for Democratic Movements

Historian Lawrence Goodwyn has studied democratic movements such as Solidarity in Poland, and he has written extensively about the populist movement in the United States that occurred during the end of the 19th century (what he calls "the largest democratic mass movement in American history"). Goodwyn concludes that democratic movements are initiated by people who are neither resigned to the status quo nor intimidated by established powers. For Goodwyn, the cultural and psychological building blocks of democratic movements are individual self-respect and collective self-confidence. Without individual self-respect, we do not believe that we are worthy of power or capable of utilizing power wisely, and we accept as our role being a subject of power. Without collective self-confidence, we do not believe that we can succeed in wresting away power from our rulers.

Thus, it is the job of all of us - from parents, to students, to teachers, to journalists, to clergy, to psychologists, to artists and EVERYBODY who gives a damn about genuine democracy - to create individual self-respect and collective self-confidence.

2. Confront and Transform ALL Institutions that Have Destroyed Individual Self-Respect and Collective Self-Confidence

In "Get Up, Stand Up, " I detail 12 major institutional and cultural areas that have broken people's sprit of resistance, and all are "battlefields for democracy" in which we can fight to regain our individual self-respect and collective self confidence:
• Television
• Isolation and bureaucratization
• "Fundamentalist consumerism" and advertising/propaganda
• Student loan debt and indentured servitude
• Surveillance
• The decline of unions/solidarity among working people
• Greed and a "money-centric" culture
• Fear-based schools that teach obedience
• Psychopathologizing noncompliance
• Elitism via professional training
• The corporate media
• The US electoral system

As Ralph Waldo Emerson observed, "All our things are right and wrong together. The wave of evil washes all our institutions alike."

3. Side Each Day in Every Way With Anti-Authoritarians

We can recover our self-respect and strength by regaining our integrity. This process requires a personal transformation to overcome our sense of powerlessness and fight for what we believe in. Integrity includes acts of courage resisting all illegitimate authorities. We must recognize that in virtually every aspect of our life in every day, we can either be on the side of authoritarianism and the corporatocracy or on the side of anti-authoritarianism and democracy. Specifically, we can question the legitimacy of government, media, religious, educational and other authorities in our lives, and if we establish that an authority is not legitimate, we can resist it. And we can support others who are resisting illegitimate authorities. A huge part of solidarity comes from supporting others who are resisting the illegitimate authorities in their lives. Walt Whitman had it right: "Resist much, obey little. Once unquestioning obedience, once fully enslaved."

4. Regain Morale by Thinking More Critically About Our Critical Thinking

While we need critical thinking to effectively question and challenge illegitimate authority - and to wisely select the best strategies and tactics to defeat the elite - critical thinking can reveal some ugly truths about reality, which can result in defeatism. Thus, critical thinkers must also think critically about their defeatism, and realize that it can cripple the will and destroy motivation, thus perpetuating the status quo. William James (1842–1910), the psychologist, philosopher, and occasional political activist (member of the Anti-Imperialist League who, during the Spanish-American War, said, "God damn the US for its vile conduct in the Philippine Isles!") had a history of pessimism and severe depression, which helped fuel some of his greatest wisdom on how to overcome immobilization. James, a critical thinker, had little stomach for what we now call "positive thinking," but he also came to understand how losing belief in a possible outcome can guarantee its defeat. Antonio Gramsci (1891–1937), an Italian political theorist and Marxist activist who was imprisoned by Mussolini, came to the same conclusions. Gramsci's phrase "pessimism of the intellect, optimism of the will" has inspired many critical thinkers, including Noam Chomsky, to maintain their efforts in the face of difficult challenges.

5. Restore Courage in Young People

The corporatocracy has not only decimated America's labor union movement, it has almost totally broken the spirit of resistance among young Americans - an even more frightening achievement. Historically, young people without family responsibilities have felt most freed up to challenge illegitimate authority. But America's education system creates fear, shame and debt - all killers of the spirit of resistance. No Child Left Behind, Race to the Top and standardized testing tyranny results in the kind of fear that crushes curiosity, critical thinking and the capacity to constructively resist illegitimate authority. Rebel teachers, parents, and students - in a variety of overt and covert ways - have already stopped complying with corporatocracy schooling. We must also stop shaming intelligent young people who reject college, and we must instead recreate an economy that respects all kinds of intelligence and education. While the corporatocracy exploits student loan debt to both rake in easy money and break young people's spirit of resistance, the rest of us need to rebel against student loan debt and indentured servitude. And parents and mental health professionals need to stop behavior-modifying and medicating young people who are resisting illegitimate authority.

6. Focus on Democracy Battlefields Where the Corporate Elite Don't Have Such a Large Financial Advantage

The emphasis of many activists is on electoral politics, but the elite have a huge advantage in this battlefield, where money controls the US electoral process. By focusing exclusively on electoral politics at the expense of everything else, we: (1) give away power when we focus only on getting leaders elected and become dependent on them; (2) buy into the elite notion that democracy is all about elections; (3) lose sight of the fact that democracy means having influence over all aspects of our lives; and (4) forget that if we have no power in our workplace, in our education and in all our institutions, then there will never be democracy worthy of the name. Thus, we should focus our fight more on the daily institutions we experience. As Wendell Berry said, "If you can control a people's economy, you don't need to worry about its politics; its politics have become irrelevant."

7. Heal from "Corporatocracy Abuse" and "Battered People's Syndrome" to Gain Strength

Activists routinely become frustrated when truths about lies, victimization and oppression don't set people free to take action. But when we human beings eat crap for too long, we gradually lose our self-respect to the point that we become psychologically too weak to take action. Many Americans are embarrassed to accept that, after years of corporatocracy subjugation, we have developed "battered people's syndrome" and what Bob Marley called "mental slavery." To emancipate ourselves and others, we must:
• Move out of denial and accept that we are a subjugated people.
• Admit that we have bought into many lies. There is a dignity, humility, and strength in facing the fact that, while we may have once bought into some lies, we no longer do so.
• Forgive ourselves and others for accepting the abuser's lies. Remember the liars we face are often quite good at lying.
• Maintain a sense of humor. Victims of horrific abuse, including those in concentration camps and slave plantations, have discovered that pain can either immobilize us or be transformed by humor into energy.
• Stop beating ourselves up for having been in an abusive relationship. The energy we have is better spent on healing and then working to change the abusive system; this provides more energy, and when we use this energy to provide respect and confidence for others, everybody gets energized.

8. Unite Populists by Rejecting Corporate Media's Political Divisions

The corporate media routinely divides Americans as "liberals," "conservatives" and "moderates," a useful division for the corporatocracy, because no matter which of these groups is the current electoral winner, the corporatocracy retains power. In order to defeat the corporatocracy, it's more useful to divide people in terms of authoritarians versus anti-authoritarians, elitists versus populists and corporatists versus anticorporatists. Both left anti-authoritarians and libertarian anti-authoritarians passionately oppose current US wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, the Wall Street bailout, the PATRIOT Act, the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), the so-called "war on drugs" and several other corporatocracy policies. There are differences between anti-authoritarians but, as Ralph Nader and Ron Paul have together recently publicly discussed, we can form coalitions and alliances on these important power-money issues. One example of an anti-authoritarian democratic movement (which I am involved in) is the mental health treatment reform movement, comprised of left anti-authoritarians and libertarians. We all share distrust of Big Pharma and contempt for pseudoscience, and we believe that people deserve truly informed choice regarding treatment. We respect Erich Fromm, the democratic-socialist psychoanalyst, along with Thomas Szasz, the libertarian psychiatrist, both passionate anti-authoritarians who have confronted mental health professionals for using dogma to coerce people.

9. Unite "Comfortable Anti-Authoritarians" and "Afflicted Anti-Authoritarians

This "comfortable-afflicted" continuum is based on the magnitude of pain that one has simply getting through the day. The term comfortable anti-authoritarian is not a pejorative one, but refers to those anti-authoritarians lucky enough to have decent paying and maybe even meaningful jobs, or platforms through which their voices are heard or social supports in their lives. Many of these comfortable anti-authoritarians may know that there are millions of Americans working mindless jobs in order to hold on to their health insurance, or hustling two low-wage jobs to pay college loans, rent and a car payment, or who may be unable to find even a poorly paying, mindless job and are instead helplessly watching eviction or foreclosure and bankruptcy close in on them. However, unless these comfortable anti-authoritarians have once been part of that afflicted class - and remember what it feels like - they may not be able to fully respect the afflicted's emotional state. The afflicted need to recognize that human beings often become passive because they are overwhelmed by pain (not because they are ignorant, stupid, or lazy), and in order to function at all, they often shut down or distract themselves from this pain. Some comfortable anti-authoritarians assume that people's inactions are caused by ignorance. This not only sounds and smells like elitism, it creates resentment for many in the afflicted class who lack the energy to be engaged in any activism. Respect, resources and anything that concretely reduces their level of pain is likely to be far more energizing than a scolding lecture. That's the lesson of many democratic movements, including the Great Populist Revolt.

10. Do Not Let Debate Divide Anti-Authoritarians

Spirited debate is what democracy is all about, but when debate turns to mutual antipathy and divides anti-authoritarians, it plays into the hands of the elite. One such divide among anti-elitists is over the magnitude of change that should be worked for and celebrated. On one extreme are people who think that anything is better than nothing at all. At the other extreme are people who reject any incremental change and hold out for total transformation. We can better unite by asking these questions: Does the change increase individual self-respect and collective self-confidence, and increase one's energy level to pursue even greater democracy? Or does it feel like a sellout that decreases individual self-respect and collective self-confidence, and de-energizes us? Utilizing the criteria of increased self-respect and collective self-confidence, those of us who believe in genuine democracy can more constructively debate whether the change is going to increase strength to gain democracy or is going to take the steam out of a democratic movement. Respecting both sides of this debate makes for greater solidarity and better decisions.

To summarize, democracy will not be won without guts and solidarity. Risk-free green actions - such as shopping from independents, buying local, recycling, composting, consuming less, not watching television and so on - can certainly help counter a dehumanizing world. However, revolutions that truly transform fundamental power inequities and enable us to feel like men and women rather than children and slaves require risk, guts and solidarity.

Vision: How to Change Our Laws So That Corporations Don't Trump Communities | | AlterNet

Vision: How to Change Our Laws So That Corporations Don't Trump Communities

Vision: How to Change Our Laws So That Corporations Don't Trump Communities

Our environmental laws and regulations, rather than put in place protections for the environment, instead seem to be written to exploit it. Here's what can we do about it.


The following is excerpted from the recently released book, The Rights of Nature: The Case for a Universal Declaration on the Rights of Mother Earth, produced by the Council of Canadians, Global Exchange and Fundacion Pachamama. This book reveals the path of a movement driving transformation of our human relationship with nature away from domination and towards balance. This book gathers the wisdom of indigenous cultures, scientists, activists small farmers, spiritual leaders and US communities who seek a different path for protecting nature by establishing Nature's Rights in law and culture. In addition to this excerpt, the book includes essays from Vandana Shiva, Desmond Tutu, Thomas Goldtooth, Eduardo Galeano, Maude Barlow and many others. Copies of the book may be obtained through Global Exchange.

It takes thousands of years for individual drops of rain to maneuver through silent passages and gently accumulate into underground aquifers. Purified and enriched over the millennia by mineral deposits deep in the earth, groundwater is the sacred lifeblood of local watersheds upon which all life -- including human communities -- depend. Yet it takes no time at all to destroy this delicate balance. In fact, all it takes is a simple piece of paper.

Steeped in colonial history, Nottingham, New Hampshire, could be a picture postcard of quaint village life in New England. Yet in 2001, this tiny rural village of 4,000 residents became the poster child for too familiar "site-fights" between small towns seeking to protect local water and large multinational corporations seeking to extract it. It was then that the USA Springs Corporation applied to the state for a permit to extract more than 400,000 gallons of water a day from Nottingham's local aquifer to bottle and sell overseas.

Corporate water withdrawals -- siphoning off hundreds of thousands of gallons a day from local aquifers -- impact both surface and groundwater resources. They deplete drinking water and can contaminate aquifers and wells. In addition, withdrawals dry up streams, wetlands, and rivers, as well as reduce lake levels, damaging habitat and harming wildlife.

For seven years the community of Nottingham came together to stop their water from being mined. Upon discovering that our own laws forbid communities from saying "no" to the wide array of dirty, destructive and unwanted practices allowed by law, they attempted to protect their local groundwater using all the tools available under the law. They did everything "right" by traditional, conventional environmental activism. They lobbied their state legislature, petitioned their government, testified at hearings, protested, rallied, educated and organized their neighbors and filed lawsuits. But as is so often the case, it just wasn't enough.

When the people of Nottingham beseeched their state environmental agency, the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services, to take effective action and protect the aquifer, their requests went unmet. Instead of helping them protect their water, the agency was in fact responsible for issuing permits to the corporation to take it.

Is the system broken or working perfectly?

The experience of Nottingham is shared by thousands of communities across the United States and around the world that discover that their government officials and agencies -- ostensibly in place to protect them -- are, in practice, serving other interests.

The question that the people of Nottingham were forced to ask is, "why?" Why are corporations allowed to override community concerns and put destructive projects in our midst? Why do our environmental laws and regulations, rather than put in place protections for the environment, instead seem to be written to exploit it? And why is our government helping a corporation to extract water from a community and sell it for profit, when the impacts from such projects are so significant?

These are the questions that people and communities find themselves asking when they face the threat of water extraction, mining, drilling, or a range of other activities. Based on the assumption that environmental legislation was in earnest set up to protect Nature, much of our environmental activism has logically been spent trying to "fix" what appears broken; seeking to improve the types of laws and regulations that Nottingham ran into.

But what if the system was never designed to put Nature first?

Under New Hampshire's Groundwater Protection Act -- initially lauded as an important legislative tool, corporations are awarded permits by the state to siphon off water from local aquifers. Thus, despite the Act's title, the law in fact authorizes the exploitation of water within the State of New Hampshire. It is much like the federal Clean Air Act and the Clean Water Act, which govern how much pollution of our air and water can occur.

This is not a mistake or somehow unique, and it is not about corruption within a generally functioning system. Rather, the major environmental laws in the United States, which have now been exported and adopted around the world, are laws not borne of protection, but of exploitation.

Although it's rarely said out loud, it is often the industry to be regulated that creates the laws we ask our legislators to enforce. And when it becomes too expensive to comply with the regulations, corporations are often exempted from them, or the regulations are simply rewritten. By design our environmental laws place commerce above nature, and in so doing they legalize certain amounts of harm to ecosystems. And by design regulatory agencies administering these laws are in place to operationalize that exploitation.

This isn't to say we haven't protected anything while toiling within this system of law. Whatever limits to damage have been achieved have come from dedicated vigilance by the hands of caring and concerned people. But taking a step back to look at the big picture, we must also recognize what has been lost.

By almost every measure, the environment today is in worse shape than when the major U.S. environmental laws were adopted nearly 40 years ago and replicated worldwide. Global species decline is increasing exponentially, global warming is far more accelerated than previously believed, deforestation continues unabated around the world, and overfishing in the world's oceans are pushing many fisheries to collapse. With so much at stake, the question is -- why haven't we been successful at ending this destruction?

It certainly is not from lack of effort by communities or activists. Rather, the system of law within which their efforts are taking place is based on entirely the wrong premise -- that Nature is property.

The Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act, and similar state laws legalize environmental harms by regulating how much pollution or destruction of Nature can occur. Rather than preventing pollution and environmental destruction, these laws instead codify it. How else could we justify the damming of rivers, the blowing off of mountaintops for coal or fishing to extinction?

We codify our values in law, and thus for time immemorial we have treated nature in law, as well as in culture, as a "thing" -- as amoral, without emotion or intelligence, without any connection to or having anything in common with us. In this way we justify and rationalize our exploitation, our destruction, our decimation. It is the long history of humankind's relationship with Nature as a possession, rather than as a system governing our own well-being.

So when the people of Nottingham asked state agencies for help that was not forthcoming, the lack of assistance was not sheer unwillingness; rather the state agency was simply carrying out the law of the land in assisting the corporation to take their water.

The nature of property: Is Nature a slave?

In the United States, title to property carries with it the legal authority to destroy the natural communities (which include human communities and ecosystems) that depend on that property for survival. In fact, our environmental laws were passed under the authority of the Commerce Clause of the U.S. Constitution, which grants exclusive authority over "interstate commerce" to Congress. The migration of birds, rivers flowing to the sea, or almost any natural process you can name is, or can be classified as interstate commerce. Treating Nature as commerce has meant that all existing U.S. environmental law frameworks are anchored in the concept of Nature as property.

But history shows that with enough will, unjust laws that deny rights can change. Slaves and women were once considered property, but through massive shifts in law and culture they moved from being "right-less" to being rights-bearing.

During slavery in the United States, the economies of both the North and South were based on slavery. Slaves provided the labor force upon which the new country depended. Slaves were the property of the slave master and a series of "slave codes" were put in place to regulate the treatment of slaves. Slave codes in South Carolina required the whipping of a slave who left his master's plantation without permission. In Louisiana, any slave who hit his master was to be punished by death. In Alabama, teaching a slave to read was illegal and violators were required to pay a fine.

Many advocates of slavery argued that the slave codes would somehow lead to a gradual end of the slave system; that slaves themselves did not "need" legal rights in order to be sufficiently protected. It is easy from today's vantage point to see that this regulatory framework did not and could never protect the slaves or end slavery. To the contrary, it codified, enforced and upheld the system of property and the continued enslavement of human beings. Today in the United States and in much of the world, Nature is treated in the same way, and laws and regulations have been put in place to regulate ecosystems as property.

What does it mean to recognize the Rights of Nature?

If we believe that rights are inherent, then Nature's rights already exist, and any law that denies those fundamental rights is illegitimate.

Under existing environmental laws, a person needs to prove "standing" in order to go to court to protect Nature. This means demonstrating personal harm from logging, the pollution of a river, or the extraction of water. Damages are then awarded to that person, not to the ecosystem that's been destroyed. Women were once considered the property of their husbands or fathers, and as such had no legal standing. Prior to the 19th Amendment, if a married woman was raped, it was considered a property crime and damages were awarded to her husband. In the wake of the BP oil spill, the only damage deemed compensable by the legal system is the financial damage caused to those who can't use the Gulf ecosystem anymore.

Communities in the United States are turning their backs on a system that cannot provide true environmental protection. They are beginning to craft and adopt new laws that recognize that natural communities and ecosystems possess an inalienable and fundamental right to exist and flourish. Residents of those natural communities, as stewards of the place where they live, possess the legal authority to enforce those rights on behalf of those ecosystems. In addition, these laws require local governments to remedy violations of those ecosystem rights.

Under a rights-based system of law, a river has the right to flow, fish and other species in a river have the right to regenerate and evolve, and the flora and fauna that depend on a river have the right to thrive. It is the natural ecological balance of that habitat that is protected. Just as the lion hunts the antelope as part of the natural cycle of life, recognizing Rights of Nature does not put an end to fishing or other human activities. Rather, it places them in the context of a healthy relationship where our actions do not threaten the balance of the system upon which we depend.

In essence, these laws represent fundamental changes to the status of property in the United States. While not eliminating property ownership, they do eliminate the authority of a property owner to destroy entire ecosystems that exist and depend on that property. These laws do not stop development; rather they stop the kind of development that interferes with the existence and vitality of those ecosystems.

This represents a true paradigm shift, one that recognizes that we can no longer tinker at the margins of a legal system that places property at the apex of civilization. It makes no apologies for recognizing that a linear system of development cannot be sustained on a finite planet and that we enslave Nature to our own demise.

Building a movement for the Rights of Nature

Environmental and community rights attorney Thomas Linzey has been known to say that, "There has never existed a true environmental movement in this country" because movements drive rights into fundamental structures of law, which environmentalists have never sought to do. It's a provocative statement sure to raise the ire of many an advocate for Nature.

On September 19, 2006, the Tamaqua Borough Council in Schuylkill County, Pennsylvania, became the first municipal government in the United States to recognize legally enforceable Rights of Nature. Working with the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund, they drafted and adopted a local ordinance recognizing that natural communities and ecosystems have a legal right to exist and flourish, that individuals within the community have the authority to defend and enforce the rights of those natural communities and ecosystems, and that the Borough government has a legal duty to enforce the ordinance.

Over a dozen more communities in Pennsylvania, New Hampshire, Maine, and Virginia have now adopted ordinances recognizing legally enforceable Rights of Nature. Communities in California, New Mexico and elsewhere are in the process of adopting similar laws. The people of Nottingham adopted an ordinance in 2008 that recognizes the inalienable Rights of Nature and bans corporate water extraction.

That same year Ecuador became the first country in the world to recognize the Rights of Nature in its constitution; after generations of watching its fragile ecosystems destroyed by corporate mining, drilling and other practices. The new constitution was approved by an overwhelming margin through a national referendum on September 28, 2008. With that vote, Ecuador became the first country in the world to codify a new system of environmental protection based on rights, leading the way for countries around the world to make this necessary and fundamental change in how we protect Nature. The constitution reads, "Nature or Pachamama, where life is reproduced and exists, has the right to exist, persist, maintain itself and regenerate its own vital cycles, structure, functions and its evolutionary processes."

In 2009, international leaders that gathered in Copenhagen for the UN Climate Change Conference predictably failed to reach an agreement to save humanity from its own destruction. In response, the World People's Summit on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth convened in Cochabamba, Bolivia. Some 32,000 people from around the world attended and, led by indigenous communities of Latin America, proposed the Universal Declaration of the Rights of Mother Earth.

This work is now expanding as people and communities and governments conclude that we have pushed the Earth's ecosystems to the brink and that our existing frameworks of environmental laws are not only inadequate to reverse this destruction, but were never intended to do so.

In September 2010, an international gathering was held in Tamate, Ecuador, to develop a strategy for building an international movement on Rights of Nature. The gathering brought together individuals and organizations from South Africa, Australia, Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador, and the United States. The outcome of the meetings was the formation of the Global Alliance for the Rights of Nature. Key areas of work will be education and outreach, as well as assisting local, state, and national governments around the world to put Rights of Nature laws in place and to build and support a global movement for the Rights of Nature.

A new cultural context for Nature supported by law

How different would our world look if the Amazon could sue oil companies for damages, or if those responsible for the oil spill could be forced to make the Gulf of Mexico "whole"? What if communities could be empowered to act as stewards for their local environments and say "no" to massive groundwater extraction?

As a species we have come to value "endless amounts of more" to our own detriment, and we have codified that value into law. Of course it is up to us to begin the process of deprogramming our society and dispelling our arrogant belief that the Earth "belongs" to humans. Like all successful movements for rights, the cultural change necessary needs only be enough to change the law ¬- the law itself forces the larger cultural change that must take place. However, both are needed in order to truly recognize rights for the right-less.

In 1973, Professor Christopher Stone penned his famous law review article, "Should Trees Have Standing?". He wrote, "The fact is, that each time there is a movement to confer rights onto some new 'entity' the proposal is bound to sound odd or frightening or laughable. This is partly because until the right-less thing receives its rights, we cannot see it as anything but a thing for the use of 'us' -- us being, of course, those of us who hold rights."

This is the challenge that every rights-based movement comes up against -- not only an illegitimate structure of law that defines a living being as property, but also the culture which is built upon this concept.

The Abolitionists faced this -- with slavery not only providing the labor force in the South, but being the driving engine of the economy of the North. Abolishing slavery meant abolishing a way of life. Most said it could not and must never be done. That is the argument we hear and face now. But it can, and we must.

Shannon Biggs directs U.S.-based Global Exchange's Community Rights Program, working to place citizen and Nature's legal rights above corporate interests. She is the author of Building the Green Economy: Success Stories from the Grassroots (PoliPoint Press, 2007), a former senior staffer at the International Forum on Globalization and a lecturer of International Relations at San Francisco State University.

Mari Margil is the Associate Director of the U.S.-based Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund where she conducts campaign and organizational strategy, media and public outreach and leads the organization's fundraising efforts. She is a co-author of the recently published The Public Health or the Bottom Line (Oxford University Press, 2010).

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

$6 Million Provided By USDA For Storms And Flood In 10 States

$6 Million Provided By USDA For Storms And Flood In 10 States: "
"Our thoughts are with the families and communities across many parts of the country that have been affected by this severe weather," said Vilsack. "USDA personnel in our state and local offices are coordinating with their state and local government counterparts in order to provide much-needed assistance as quickly as possible to communities that have been hard hit by this string of terrible tragedies."

In partnership and through local government sponsors, the EWP Program provides assistance to areas that have been damaged by natural disasters, such as floods, windstorms, drought, and wildfires. The EWP Program safeguards lives and property by installing conservation measures to reduce storm water runoff and prevent soil erosion, as well as remove watershed impairments such as debris caught in culverts and under bridges.

In response to the recent storms and floods, NRCS provided $600,000 in EWP Program financial and technical assistance to each of its 10 NRCS state offices so that field personnel can swiftly begin work on projects that reduce or remove dangerous threats to public safety and infrastructure.

To the extent possible, NRCS state and field personnel are surveying damaged areas and working with their local partners to identify the full scope of the damage and prepare disaster recovery projects. NRCS will evaluate the need on a continuous basis for additional assistance to the impacted communities.

Wonk Room » Maryland To Sue Chesapeake Energy For PA Fracking Blowout

Wonk Room » Maryland To Sue Chesapeake Energy For PA Fracking Blowout:
Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler now “plans to sue the company for violating federal anti-pollution laws” including the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) and the Clean Water Act (CWA), as a press release issued yesterday explains:

On April 19, thousands of gallons of fracking fluids were released from a well owned and operated by Chesapeake Energy into Towanda Creek, a tributary of the Susquehanna River, which supplies 45% of the fresh water in the Chesapeake Bay. In his letter, Attorney General Gansler notified the company that at the close of the required 90-day notice period, the State intends to file a citizen suit and seek injunctive relief and civil penalties under RCRA for solid or hazardous waste contamination of soils and ground waters, and the surface waters and sediments of Towanda Creek and the Susquehanna River. The State also intends to seek injunctive relief and civil penalties under the CWA for violation of the CWA’s prohibition on unpermitted pollution to waters of the United States.

“Companies cannot expose citizens to dangerous chemicals that pose serious health risks to the environment and to public health,” said Gansler in the press release. “We are using all resources available to hold Chesapeake Energy accountable for its actions.”

High court erases recent environmental victory | Michigan Messenger

High court erases recent environmental victory | Michigan Messenger:

The case — Anglers of the Au Sable v. Dept. of Environmental Quality — involved Merit Energy’s DEQ-permitted plan to move contaminated water into a different watershed by pipeline and discharge it into Kolke Creek, which flows into the Au Sable river in Otsego County.

A group of anglers and riverfront property owners sued the state and Merit Energy, claiming that the plan violated their riparian water rights and the Michigan Environmental Protection Act. The Otsego circuit court agreed and blocked the discharge plan as unreasonable, though it allowed for the possibility that a reasonable plan could be determined.

Wishing to definitively block moves to transfer contaminated water between watersheds, the plaintiffs appealed, but the Court of Appeals ruled that the state could grant Merit the right to use Kolke Creek as a disposal site. It also found that the Anglers could not sue the state for permitting the discharge plan.

Last year the Michigan Supreme Court, which then had a Democratic majority, agreed to hear an appeal of this decision. The court indicated that it was ready to reexamine two controversial supreme court cases — Preserve the Dunes Inc v. Dept. of Environmental Quality and Michigan Citizens for Water Conservation v. Nestle — that narrowed citizen options for legal action to stop environmental damage. Both of those cases had been decided while the court was under Republican control.

In 4-3 decision issued at the very end of the year and authored by Justice Alton Davis, a Democrat who had lost his reelection bid, the court rejected DEQ and business arguments that people should not be allowed sue until after damage occurs. It also reaffirmed that the Michigan Environmental Protection Act allows anyone to sue to block environmental damage.

The decision was celebrated by environmentalists but it was pretty clear that the Republican majority that was set to retake the court in January saw the matter differently and that future cases might reverse the gain.

In January Michigan attorney general Bill Schuette asked the court to reconsider Anglers of the Au Sable v. DEQ. He said that allowing people to sue to the state over permitting decisions would harm Michigan’s economy.

It did not take long for the new court to act. In an order released last week the court took the unusual step of vacating the Anglers of the Au Sable ruling without any new information. The court decided that the case had been moot when it was decided because the company has abandoned its plans to discharge the water into the creek, and that the previous court should not have considered it.

“I have a hard time seeing this being anything other that a political or ideological decision,” said Nick Schroeck, executive director of the Great Lakes Environmental Law Center, which together with the National Wildlife Federation filed a brief in support of the Anglers/plaintiffs. “Ordinarily a court will not rehear a case when no underlying facts have changed.”

“I think it was an overreach on the part of the court. Hopefully people will notice this and remember it when they vote for the supreme court justices in the future.”

Though the court’s move is a disappointment for those who worked on the case and believed it had been decided, Jim Olson, who represented the Anglers, said that there is some consolation in the fact that the opinion also vacates the court of appeals ruling that had made it significantly more difficult for citizens to sue over environmental damage.

“The silver lining is that those problems in the court of appeals decision were erased,“ he said. “Michigan precedent prior to this case remains. Diversions of our watershed that diminish flow and level can’t be done.”

“We are back to where we were before the decision — questions remain over when the state is liable for permitting damage.”

Schroeck and Olson both agree that the lack of clarity over how the state can be held responsible for issuing permits for activities that destroy natural resources is especially dangerous given the fact that cash-strapped state agencies have diminishing capacity to evaluate permit applications and are under increasing pressure to streamline and speed up permitting.

“The idea that we must wait for harm to occur is dangerous,” Olson said. “The courts are favoring industry and weakening the rights of citizens and of the state, which is compromised by budget crisis. Not only do we have a budget crisis, our most valuable asset can’t be protected and conserved as it should be.”

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Search for “watershed” - Technorati

Search for “watershed” - Technorati:

High court erases recent environmental victory


Michigan MessengerAuthority 666
— involved Merit Energy’s DEQ-permitted plan to move contaminated water into a different watershed by pipeline and discharge it […] . Diversions of our watershed that diminish flow and level can’t be done.” “We are back to where we were before the decision

Search results for watershed on Delicious

Search results for watershed on Delicious: 7,566 results

Everybody's bookmarks

Best of the Web Directory Search Results for watershed

Best of the Web Directory Search Results for watershed:
Professional organization established to promote proper watershed management. Also presents links to other water resources issues.
http://www.watershed.org/


Details the facilities, activities and events at this arts centre which specialises in film and digital media. What's on, screening times and tickets, media studio, and news.
http://www.watershed.co.uk/


Promotes the preservation, protection and restoration of the watersheds in Umpqua River basin and beyond.
http://www.umpqua-watersheds.org/


Highlights contributory factors in the developmental project of the county’s watershed. Includes discussion on erosion of soil and drainage.
http://watershed.kar.nic.in/


Presents the Chester Creek, Eightmile River, Salmon River, and Connecticut River case studies. Also offers expert helps for setting up a watershed project.
http://nemo.uconn.edu/successes/watersheds.html

Blogs and Websites Search - OnToplist.com

Blogs and Websites Search - OnToplist.com:
1.
The Watershed Chronicle

http://watershedchronicle.wordpress.com/

Life and Times at the Head of the Chesapeake Bay

read more

2.
..screenshot pending..
The South Florida Watershed Journal

http://sfwj.blogspot.com/

Covering south Florida's water cycle and interconnected watersheds, written by a National Parks Service hydrologist.

read more

3.
..screenshot pending..
Hillslope and Watershed Hydrology Lab

http://www.cof.orst.edu/cof/fe/watershd/

Focuses on conducting watershed intercomparison and explores the common features of watershed response.

read more

scholar.google - MAKING WATERSHED PARTNERSHIPS


VS Saravanan, GT McDonald… - Natural Resources …, 2009 - Wiley Online Library
... approaches considered politics as a 'systemic problem' (Cooke and Kothari, 2001), and increased
their call for 'making watershed partnerships work' (Leach and ... Political pitfalls of integrated
watershed management. ... Making States Work: State failure and the crisis of governance ...
Cited by 11 - Related articles - All 12 versions

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Question about raising chickens

Re: Question about raising chickens
Posted by: "Heather Capps" heather.capps@yahoo.com heather.capps
Fri May 13, 2011 11:49 am (PDT)

Wow...this turned out to be really long...
In the beginning it was expensive because they were not laying yet. 12 chickens
should give you 8 to 10 eggs per day (once in a while...you' ll get 12 in one
day). Some lay almost every day and others every other day. Some will lay 3 to 4

days in a row and then skip a day. They have a 25 hour cycle. That would give
you roughly 23 dozen per month to sell (depending on how many you consume). We
sell our eggs for $5 per dozen. In our area, that is average. I noticed fresh
eggs in the store from a local place and they were selling for $7. Not organic
and not soy-free. It cost more for soy-free feed. Soy is a very cheap protein.
We make approx. $120 per month on the eggs. It pays for the chicken feed and
some of the llama feed. We have 16 grown hens. They are organic, pastured and
soy-free.
I buy all of their feed from the following:
azurestandard. com
They are based in Oregon. We have a local place that sells organic feed, but not

soy-free. Also, they are getting some of their 'organic soy beans' from China.
No thank you...
You need to sign in to see the prices. They deliver once per month, no tax and
no shipping. I buy food, etc. in bulk for us too. They have a lot of organic for

costco/trader joe prices.
Organic soy/corn free feed $28.35 - 50 lbs.
I buy 2 bags per month. They go through approx. 1.5 bags per month.
I also mix cayenne in their feed to keep the squirrels out. Birds cannot taste
hot and it's good for their circulation. I've heard that it also increases the
quantity of eggs.
Organic dried whole corn $11.40 - 25 lbs.
Organic chicken wheat $14.20 - 50 lbs.
I mix the corn and wheat together and throw that out as a treat later in the
day. I want them to get the layer feed first. I buy the corn and wheat about
every 3 to 4 months.
Organic raw apple cider vinegar $8.80 - 1 gallon
I put 2 tablespoons per gallon of water along with some crushed garlic.
Raw sunflower seeds $39.25 - 25 lbs.
I don't give them too much. We use it for nut butter and I give some to the
chickens for extra protein. I buy one bag every 3 to 4 months.
Crushed oyster shell for added calcium. I don't remember how much it was...but
it was very cheap. You want to start giving the extra calcium when they start
laying eggs. Giving calcium to chicks could cause kidney problems later.
I also make kefir for them and us with raw goat milk and mix it with kitchen
scraps along with some herbs and spices and garlic. I buy goat milk for $8 per
gallon. They end up with about 1 gallon per month....maybe 1.5 gallons.
Worming every fall when pumpkins are available: Pumpkin, dandelion greens,
carrots, onion, garlic.
http://www.moonligh tmileherbs. com/reg0507falla lterative. pdf
They get a lot of extras from our garden. They love plantain leaf and we have
tons. Dandelion greens, weeds from the garden (I attach to the fence by the
roots with a clothespin).
We make more on the eggs than what we spend on feed. Mike sells the eggs at work

and there's a demand for them.
Time spent on them. I clean the coops 2 times per year (spring and fall).
Pressure wash, scrub, sanitize with vinegar and peroxide (do not mix
together...spray one and then the other one). In-between the cleaning, we do the

deep litter method. We add more rice straw to the coop floors. In the AM, let
them out, feed them, refresh the water. Collect eggs later in the day and spoil
them with treats. At night, they will put themselves away and I go out and lock
them up after counting them to make sure everyone is there. Dust bath - 1/2 wine

barrel with dirt, sand and wood ash. I sprinkle herbs on top periodically to
keep mites/lice off of them. I sprinkle herbs in the nest boxes along with
crushed lay leaf, lavender flowers and wood ash. We have bay trees and lavender
on the property. I spoil them...so I spend more time with them than necessary.
The herbal and homeopathic stuff I have on hand for them and us: Pricey at
first, but can be used for all of our animals and us if needed. We have other
stuff on hand for us too.
Tinctures, slaves, etc.
Echinacea
Plague formula for respiratory infections (apple cider vinegar, horseradish,
onion, garlic, hot pepper, ginger)...Doc has this recipe in the files.
Rescue Remedy (for stress or introducing new chickens to the flock...can put
some in the water and spray around them)
MMS (have not used this yet, but read that it can cure mereks disease which is a

type of herpes in chickens)
Colloidal Silver (anti-bacterial. ..can put in water or spray on wounds and can
spray in the eyes for infection)
Salve for wounds (Ingr. colloidal Silver, comfrey, calendula, yellow dock,
plantain, E, olive oil, cocoa butter, bee's wax, rescue remedy, lavender and
rose oil)
Skin & Would Spray (Ingr. deionized water, grapefruit seed extract, alcohol,
essential oils of tea tree and lemon)
Body Balance + (apple cider vinegar, molasses, black walnut hull tincture...Doc
has the recipe in the files). I made it for us, but we had a chicken with
impacted crop due to eating the orchard grass that the llamas dropped on the
ground. The strands were long and they got caught in her crop. She also had sour

crop from it. I massaged in a downward motion a few times per day until it
passed. I read that walnut hull tincture is good for candida. Added Body Balance

+ to the water and she improved.
Homeopathic:
Arnica - shock and bruising
Ledum - pain
Hypericum - puncture wounds
You'll never make your money back for the cost of the coop, feeders, fencing,
etc. We also added the llamas for guarding and housing for them. We have bobcats

and coyotes here. But once you're set-up, then you can have animals for a long
time:)
They will molt (lose their feathers) in the winter and not lay eggs while
molting. If you get chicks and they start laying before fall, they will lay
throughout the winter and molt the next year. If you have room for more
chickens, order some every year so you have some layers in the winter while the
other ones are molting. Our adults will molt this winter and our new chickens
will lay. We will be spending $ on feed and 1/2 of the chickens will not produce

for 3 to 4 months.
-Heather (Forestville, CA)