Monthly Archives: March 2010

The Most Dangerous Man in America

I had the privilege last night of meeting Daniel Ellsberg and to be among the crowd of several dozen people who gathered at his home to watch the film, The Most Dangerous Man in America: Daniel Ellsberg and the Pentagon Papers, winner of numerous festival awards and nominated for an Academy Award in the category of Best Feature Documentary. The film distills into 90 minutes, the story of government deception and malfeasance and one man’s courageous decision to tell the people.

I’m old enough to remember those events as they unfolded and were reported in the news media, but being highly controversial and scattered as they were over a long time period, they did not penetrate very deeply beyond the veil of my own  indoctrination. Now, with the pertinent facts gathered together and the inclusion of actual audio records of then President Richard Nixon’s maniacal ravings about nuking the Vietnamese into oblivion, we have a compelling picture of the abuse of power and a failed policy that extended over five presidencies from Truman to Nixon.

Since 9/11, Americans have seen an ever greater concentration of power at the top levels of government along with increasing government secrecy and transgression of civil liberties. The USA Patriot Act effectively shreds the Bill of Rights.

This film is the kind of powerful medicine needed to rouse the body politic to face the political realities of our times and, hopefully, reinvigorate our the struggle to “escape the matrix.” It is a film that every American should see, especially those who are too young to remember the United States’ war against Viet Nam.

Here is a trailer:

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Three Approved GMOs Linked to Organ Damage

The precautionary principle dictates that new technologies be proven safe before being deployed. The FDA, the USDA, and other agencies are supposed to safeguard the public health and the environment, but there is increasing evidence that politics and profits trump public interest.  Genetically modified food crops may pose a greater threat to both human health and the ecology of the planet than people have been led to believe. This article from Z-Magazine is worth reading.–t.h.g.

In what is being described as the most comprehensive study of the effects of genetically modified (GM) foods on mammalian health, researchers have linked organ damage with consumption of Monsanto’s GM maize. All three varieties of GM corn—Mon 810, Mon 863, and NK 603—were approved for consumption by U.S., European, and several other national food safety authorities. Made public by European authorities in 2005, the confidential raw data of Monsanto’s 2002 feeding trials on rats, which was used to approve GM corn in different parts of the world, is the same data, ironically, that the new team of researchers analyzed.

More…

Microchips suspected of causing cancer in pets

Before you have your pet (or yourself) chipped, you should read this:

Dogs suffer cancer after ID chipping

Avoid eating margarine; butter is better

According to Dr. Sears, margarine can make you stupid and increase your risk of having a heart attack. Read all about it here: This Is Your Brain on Margarine

Newsletter-March 2010

March 2010 Newsletter

Obama and the Politics of Change

I hadn’t planned to spend my final week in Thailand in Hua Hin, but the fates conspired to take me back there for an encounter with Barack Obama, not in person, of course but in a literary sense. Having finished the Stephen Coontz novel (Final Flight) I had picked up in Penang, I went looking through the small collection of books at my Hua Hin guest house for something else to read. Along with a few books in German, which are of no use to me, I found a handful of books in English. The only one that caught my eye was Barack Obama’s Dreams from my Father.

It’s not one that’s been on my list of books to read, I’m generally disinclined to read books written by politicians or other famous people, as they rarely qualify as good literature and most often are simply marketing tools or attempts to capitalize financially on their fame. But for several reasons, I decided to give this one a closer look. To begin with, the cover quotes were full of glowing praise, something which I discounted heavily. More convincing was the fact that this book had originally been published in 1995, long before Obama had become famous. Most importantly, the book purports to be a memoir, and as such I thought it might provide some useful insights into the character of the man who has somehow managed a spectacular ascent to the top of the power pyramid and is now the US president. What might it reveal about his sincerity, his political agenda, and his ability to deliver the kinds of positive change that he has promised?

The book is engaging and well written and reads more like a novel than a memoir. It tells the story of a young man of mixed race seeking his own identity, trying to come to terms with the demands of his fractured families and to understand his place in the world. I was astonished at the candor with which the story is told. Having spent the second half of 2008 abroad and therefore absent for most of the 2008 Presidential campaign season, I have no idea what role this book might have played in his bid for the presidency, or whether it might have been a help or a hindrance in that regard.

There is little in the book to suggest that this man might someday achieve the highest political office in the world. I can’t help but wonder what kind of Faustian bargain he must have made in order to gain sufficient support from the global oligarchy to become President of the United States. What does he hope to achieve from that lofty perch, what compromises has he had to make to get there, what are his personal motivations, is he sincere in his public pronouncements or is he consciously working to intensify the mass delusion?

Another Vantage Point

Another interesting feature of my Hua Hin guesthouse is the selections on TV. This one offers a mere 7 channels, only one of which provides English language programming. FilmMax appears to be a Pakistani channel, which shows mainly Hollywood B movies I’ve never heard of –whatever they can get cheap, I guess. On the plus side, they’ve also shown some vintage films that date from my childhood. A few days ago I caught the tail end of the Wizard of Oz, and yesterday I tuned in just in time to see Flying Tigers from start to finish.

I remember seeing the Wizard of Oz for the first with my mother and sister when I was about four years old. I remember being scared to death when the Tin Man appeared. What makes this film of interest to me now is the fact that Frank Baum wrote the story as an allegory depicting the fraud inherent in the money and banking system and the reality of the people’s power to transcend it. I posted something about that recently on my blog (http://beyondmoney.net/2010/01/19/the-real-meaning-of-the-wizard-of-oz/).

Growing up in the 1940s and 50s I was strongly influenced by World War II. Along with the cartoons and cowboy westerns, we were fed a steady diet of war movies, which I was eager to see. Flying Tigers was one of them. It is a fabled tale about an actual squadron of mercenary American fliers who prior to the U.S. entry into the war fought to help the Nationalist Chinese defend themselves against the Japanese invaders. It contains some classic lines, which now seem pretty lame. John Wayne, the head man, has just returned after leading his squadron in a battle against enemy bombers and fighters. When his Chinese ground crewman points out the line of bullet holes in the fuselage of his plane, he quips, “termites.”

Malaysia

When my Thai visa ran out early in February I flew to Malaysia where I planned to apply for a new visa while exploring parts of the country I had not visited before. Melaka or Malacca, as the British refer to it, like Georgetown in Penang, has been declared a UN Heritage site. I spent 5 days there exploring the old city and near surroundings before deciding I had seen enough and headed for Penang, which is still one of my favorite places in Asia. One of the greatest attractions about Georgetown is the food. I especially like the Indian fare that can be had in the neighborhood called Little India, which is the best I’ve had anywhere, including India–and it’s dirt cheap.

In contrast to Thailand, Malaysia seems a little more developed, and the wealth of the country, despite the inevitable political corruption, seems to be a little better distributed. Along the way I’ve been told that tourism is now the second largest component of the Malaysian economy after petroleum. I suppose agriculture must be third. Palm oil plantations dominate the landscape from top to bottom and Malaysia is the world’s largest producer.

While in Melaka I met Mr. and Mrs. Yee who have a tea shop near the center of town, and as part of the Couch Surfing network, often host travelers. Through them I learned about a Buddhist social action group called Tzu Chi.

With offices in 47 countries, the Tzu Chi Foundation is one of the largest charity organizations originating from Taiwan. For over forty years, the organization has provided services for those in need worldwidehttp://www.tzuchi.org/

The Foundation has impressive facilities in Melaka, which we visited, and from their website, I see that they have a major presence in the U.S., as well. See my pictures at http://picasaweb.google.com/tomazhg/201002Melaka

Work Progress

To start with I want to mention that Richard Flyer has published a Conscious Community Training Guide. Richard’s work has demonstrated the kind of community organizing that needs to be done if the sustainability movement is to achieve significant results. You can download it at the website, http://www.itstimereno.org/calender.asp

The End of Money and the Future of Civilization has been nominated for the Triple Pundit Sustainable Business Must Read list. You can help by casting your vote at http://www.triplepundit.com/2010/02/nominations-are-in-vote-for-the-best-green-business-books-to-create-a-must-read-list-for-all-sustainability-folk/

And if you feel so inclined, you might nominate my work for support from one of these prizes (I surely qualify age-wise):

Purpose Prize for social innovators over 60

Know someone in his/her 60s, 70s, or beyond who is capitalizing on the expertise and experience of a lifetime to find solutions to local, national and global challenges?

The Purpose Prize, now in its fourth year, awards five $100,000 and five $50,000 prizes to social innovators over the age of 60. It is the country’s only large-scale investment in social innovators in the second half of life. Rather than a personal achievement award, the prizes are intended as investments in these social innovators’ future work.

In addition to the ten prizes awarded each year, the initiative also recognizes dozens of other outstanding individuals in “encore careers” – those who are redefining the so-called “retirement years”. If you know someone who fits this description, visit the Purpose Prize website for more information on how to nominate – www.encore.org/prize. (I heard about this through the ASPA-CIVED listserv.)

BTW, I’ve joined Twitter and will be using it to alert my followers to new posts on my blogs and websites. My twitter name is tomazgreco. To follow me, go to http://twitter.com/ and sign up.

I’ll be returning soon to the U.S. and look forward to spending time with friends and helping to implement various currency and exchange projects.

Assuring Food Security

Michael Brownlee’s presentation on The Local Food and Farming Revolution is a “must read.” In it, he clearly outlines  the things we must do to assure our future food security and sustainability (along with the reasons why). Here below I have excerpted his conclusions.–t.h.g.

Clearly, the food and agricultural revolution is already getting underway. Fundamentally, it’s not about simply about lifestyle choices or mere differences in values. It’s arising in response to a growing predicament that is at the heart of our industrial agriculture system and the heart of our globalized economy.

This transition is coming whether we like it or not, whether we’re ready or not.

I know there’s a lot of controversy around all this, and a lot of emotions. I suspect a lot of dust is going to get kicked up along the way.

Much of the debate seems to hinge around the goals of sustainability seemingly interfering with farmers’ and industry’s goals of profitability. But sustainable agriculture must of course include economic viability. And that doesn’t necessarily mean “big.”

We sometimes hear “small farming” used as a pejorative term. Small organic farmers often get pigeonholed and tossed aside as a probable relic of the past.

But at the 19th annual Farming for the Future conference in Pennsylvania earlier this month, Bryan Snyder, the Executive Director of the Pennsylvania Association for Sustainable Agriculture said something very significant, and I want to close with his words. He said:

“People like to hear about lots of acres or large numbers of animals and bushels of corn per acre measured in the hundreds. But models of farming that can gross $50,000 to $100,000 on a single acre—or CSA programs that, in some cases and on relatively small acreage, are able to count their customers in the thousands and bank $1 million or more in the spring before even planting a seed—are anything but small!”

Snyder’s conclusion is exactly what we have come to at Transition Colorado:

“We must encourage everyone, wherever they are and as a priority, to eat food produced as near to their own homes as possible. Secondly, feed thy neighbor as thyself. From this perspective, local food not only can feed the world, it may be the only way to ever feed the world in a healthy and just manner.”

How to resolve the growing income inequality

Geonomist Jeff Smith recently posted this comment attached to an article that describes the growing income inequality in America. His comment tells about an obvious and totally rational approach to resolving the problem. When will we muster the political will to implement it.–t.h.g.

“Of all the US states, the one with the least income disparity is not the one with the highest income tax but one without any personal income tax at all, yet with a “rent” dividend. That’d be Alaska, which shares oil revenue among its residents. Sharing “rents” — the essence of geonomics — is the best way, better than more jobs or higher wages, to fundamentally and profoundly close the income gap.

Jobs and wages can not succeed. The whole point of techno-progress is to liberate humanity from drudgery. Forcing people to do busy work breaks the human spirit.

What has to happen is for people to feel worthy of an income apart from their labor. They also must feel that all their income is theirs, and that losing some to a tax is not fair. That’ll bring up the income floor.

To bring down the income ceiling, forget about taxing the rich. Just quit subsidizing the rich, like bailing out Wall Street. Instead of giving away government-granted privileges — everything from corporate charters to land titles — for a mere pittance (no more than a filing fee), run government like a business and charge the full market value, the annual rental value, for those little pieces of paper such as resource leases and patents and copyrights.

Geonomics will close the income gap with a wallop. And the policy will close the political power gap, too. So we won’t have to worry about inequality ever rising again.”

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