Friday, November 8, 2013

Doomsday Seed Vault

This Is the Closest You May Ever Get to the Doomsday Seed Vault

A new doc tells the story of the 'frozen garden of Eden' hiding below the permafrost in Svalbard, Norway.

Willy Blackmore

Willy Blackmore
“Most of us take seeds for granted. The fate of human kind is resting on these genetic resources—seeds. So nothing could be more important,” says a voice in the trailer for the documentary Seeds of Time.
The film, which will have its world premiere this week at the Copenhagen International Documentary Film Festival, follows the quixotic journey of Cary Fowler, the scientist who is largely responsible for making the the Svalbard Global Seed Vault in Norway a reality.
Indeed, taking seeds for granted seems difficult when the specks and pods and kernels, pregnant with so much potential, are put in the context of global climate disasters and crises of politics and war. It's no wonder the so-called Doomsday Seed Vault has captured the popular imagination in a far greater way than your average genebank.
Writer Colin Dickey visited the vault recently and wrote about the experience for Aeon Magazine:
Then came the massive whoosh of air from the seed vault, a sudden and powerful exhaust, venting through the building from somewhere deep inside the mountain. A small but steady burst of water came trickling out the bottom of the vault, draining into the ravine below the bridge. After about 30 seconds, both air and water ceased. We stood around a bit longer, taking photographs, discussing what to do next, until the noise returned—about 30 seconds on, 30 seconds off, regular and steady. My friend Alia turned to me after a few minutes and said, “It’s breathing.”
It’s a fitting image for the vault, with its collection that aggregates the contents of seed banks worldwide—more than 700,000 samples, according to the Global Crop Diversity Trust, one of the partners that manages the vault. The global potential of agriculture is tucked away inside.
With Seeds of Time’s food-related concerns and the city’s reputation as a culinary capital, thanks to chef René Redzepi’s Noma, the audience will snack on something more unusual than buttered popcorn and Sour Patch Kids. The premiere’s menu included organic rhubarb wine, chocolate made from wild Amazon cacao trees and an ancient species of gooseberry.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Carter Alan on WBCN and the making of rock radio

Carter Alan, music director and midday DJ at WZLX-FM, at his Hopkinton home. Alan was a DJ at WBCN from 1979 to 1998.
Aram Boghosian for The Boston Globe
Carter Alan, music director and midday DJ at WZLX-FM, at his Hopkinton home. Alan was a DJ at WBCN from 1979 to 1998.
If the tale of WBCN were told in a rock song, would it be a defiant Sex Pistols-like punk anthem? A wistful narrative, sung in the key of Bob Seger? A woeful U2-ish wail of heartbreaking loss? Or a Led Zeppelin-esque epic of victory over the frozen wasteland of American radio?
More than four years after the rock station exhaled its last breath at 104.1 FM comes a chronicle that rekindles that time when magic ruled the airwaves. The book is “Radio Free Boston: The Rise and Fall of WBCN,” and the bard is 19-year-veteran WBCN DJ and music director Carter Alan.
“ ’BCN was a groundbreaking station for a lot of different things,”said Alan, now music director and midday DJ at WZLX-FM (100.7), ’BCN’s former rival and later sister station. “The legacy goes in a lot of ways.”
Alan’s book traces WBCN’s unassuming birth from the ashes of a classical music station in 1968, through its heyday as the “Rock of Boston” in the ’70s and ’80s, to its demise in 2009, when, Alan writes, the station was “drained of its blood in the consolidated radio industry of the new century.”
To recount the story, Alan interviewed most every personality involved and willing to speak on the record.
‘We were all just a bunch of people that had thought, you know, we really loved this kind of music, and we loved the idea that we could play any songs we wanted.’
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“There was not a lot written about ’BCN in the early days,” Alan said. “I wanted to find the people because I wanted their words to carry most of the weight of the book.”
Alan almost didn’t write it. The task seemed impossible. Alan’s wife, Carrie Christodal, finally persuaded him.
“If you don’t write it,” she said, “someone else who didn’t work there will.” Alan rose at 5 a.m. each weekday to write at his Hopkinton home before his shift at ’ZLX, and logged hours on weekends, interviewing, transcribing, exhuming rare photos and ephemera.
“I love writing,” said Alan, also the author of “Outside Is America: U2 in the U.S.” and “U2: The Road to Pop.” “It does make you a social recluse.”
Key to the story? Charles Laquidara, legendary morning jock and a ’BCN fixture from 1968 to 1996.
“None of us expected it to be so huge,” Laquidara said during a recent visit to Boston from his home in Maui. “We were all just a bunch of people that had thought, you know, we really loved this kind of music, and we loved the idea that we could play any songs we wanted.”
For sure, WBCN captured the zeitgeist. The station emerged from the counterculture and came of age in a booming market for FM radio and AOR, or album-oriented rock.
Laquidara’s “The Big Mattress” effectively invented the idea of the acerbic, prank-filled morning show. The on-air staff agitated for social change, from the station’s own strike in 1979 to its anti-apartheid news coverage. Jocks championed then-unknown bands such as the Police, the Cars, Aerosmith, and U2. “Nocturnal Emissions” showcased cutting-edge music, and the Rock and Roll Rumble, ’BCN’s annual “battle of the bands,” helped launch local groups such as ’Til Tuesday and the Dresden Dolls.
“I remember one night, I was on the radio and the person who was answering the phone said, ‘Hey, there’s two guys downstairs that just played this concert,’ ” Laquidara recalled. “ ‘They wanna come up and just kinda hang.’ And I said, ‘OK, let ’em up.’ It was Duane Allman and Jerry Garcia and a couple guys from the [Grateful] Dead.”
For many local listeners (this writer included), ’BCN served as teacher in the School of Rock. News of shows at Metro and the Rat and in-studio concerts gave a peek behind the curtain otherwise inaccessible to a small-town teen. Live events and wild publicity stunts like giant pumpkin “drops” made the station seem like a party.
“We’d meet people who thought they knew us for part of their lives,” said Ken Shelton, longtime midday DJ. “They thought we were cousins. They wanted to hug us. It wasn’t just ‘Thanks for the T-shirt.’ ”
A phone bank called the Listener Line was the “Facebook and Google of its time,” said Bill Lichtenstein, director of a forthcoming documentary about WBCN called “The American Revolution” who began volunteering at the station in 1970 as a 14-year old news reporter. “If you need a ride, we’ll connect you. If you were taking some bad acid, and need to talk to somebody to talk you down, call us.”
The jocks’ unpolished, no-nonsense demeanors connected with the audience.
“We were fortunate, those of us who were there, that we were part of not only a Boston institution, but we were the cultural focal point. We were the cultural mecca,” said Oedipus, the station’s longtime program director. “We were as important as The Boston Globe and the Boston Red Sox. Everybody listened to WBCN.”
From left: Former WBCN DJ Charles Laquidara, Carter Alan, and WZLX DJ Chuck Nowlin at Alan’s home recently.
Aram Boghosian for The Boston Globe
From left: Former WBCN DJ Charles Laquidara, Carter Alan, and WZLX DJ Chuck Nowlin at Alan’s home recently.
Same for Carter Alan himself, who tuned in with his college pals as an undergrad at New England College in Henniker, N.H, in the 1970s. “We’d listen to ’BCN and then we’d come down and go to concerts,” Alan said. “I thought it was the coolest station I’d ever heard.”
Alan first met Oedipus at MIT’s radio station. He was hired by WBCN in 1979.
Another task of the book was to debunk many a myth. One, Alan said, “which has been the accepted dogma for 40 years” is that ’BCN’s first rock ’n’ roll broadcast emanated from the backstage area of local club Boston Tea Party. Nope. It all started at the 171 studios at 171 Newbury St. Did Laquidara once go on the air while tripping on mescaline? Yes. Did he once ask his listeners (as his alter ego Duane Glasscock) to mail a bag of excrement to Arbitron, the radio industry’s ratings service company? Again, yes.
The final chapters of “Radio Free Boston” end, inevitably, where the station ended. Which raises the question, what killed ’BCN? Was it the Internet or satellite radio? Howard Stern? Many ’BCN vets, such as Oedipus, pointed to the Telecommunications Act of 1996, which allowed corporations to own multiple stations in a single market.
Alan, who left the station in 1998, takes a wider view. “I think ’BCN was always in a state of perpetual brokenness. That was part of its charm. It wasn’t a perfect, tiny machine.”
In its Golden Age, WBCN was wild, avant-garde, and authentic. But vestiges linger. Carter Alan recently raided a storage facility full of WBCN’s 30,000-strong vinyl collection, which were discovered to harbor marijuana stems and other drug residue when packed up from the studio’s longtime home at 1265 Boylston St.
During a visit, he grabbed a Queen album from his WZLX office floor to demonstrate ’BCN’s pre-digital record keeping system. To keep songs from being overplayed, on a slip of paper affixed to the front of each record, jocks would note in a different colored pen whenever they played a song.
“Oedipus was orange,” Alan recalled. “Let’s see if I can remember. [Mark] Parenteau was red. I was turquoise. But this,” Alan said, holding up a copy of Santana’s “Amigos” from 1976, “was before my time.”
Carter Alan will talk about his new book, “Radio Free Boston: The Rise and Fall of WBCN,” at 7 p.m. on Nov. 13 at The Book Shop, 694 Broadway, Somerville (, and at 6 p.m. on Nov. 22 at the Barnes & Noble in Braintree, 150 Granite St.

Ethan Gilsdorf, author of “Fantasy Freaks and Gaming Geeks,” can be reached at and on Twitter @ethanfreak.

Map of Johns Creek Pike County, KY 1851 notebook entry

Map of Johns Creek
Pike County, KY
by Rev. Marion Tevis Burris
Reference: The Burris Family by Steven T. Hurt
Fred T. May
Posted April 2009
Introduction   |   Notes   |   Map
The following map was first brought to my attention by Henry Forsyth, who got a copy from his mother a number of years ago. Her copy came from a lady in Catlettsburg. I later learned from David Hurt that Steven T. Hurt had included the map in his 1991 book on the Burris family.
Marion Tevis Burris, the man who drew the map "In Memory of Home," was born August 28, 1828 on Johns Creek. His map reflects his memories of the location of the farms and watersheds along the creek from above the mouth of Bent Branch to its confluence with [Levisa Fork of] Sandy River. His notations are obviously based on stories he heard first-hand from early settlers of Johns Creek.
Tevis was the son of Rev. Milton Leslie and Rachel Burris. She was unmarried when he was born and she later married a Mr. Horn about 1833. In 1834 Tevis was taken to live in the home of his uncle, Pharmer Lesley, on Johns Creek where he was reared. Early in these years with his Lesley relatives, he became a part of the Lesley Society which built Snivley Chapel on land donated by Martin Lesley in April 1853. The 1850 census shows that Tevis was a farmer living on Johns Creek in the home of Thomas Patton May, husband of his cousin, Margery Elizabeth (Betty) Leslie.
In 1854 Tevis married Agnes Spears of Daniels Creek in Johnson Co, KY. He later became a Preacher, Teacher, Doctor, Artist and Historian. He and Agnes reared a family of ten children. They both died in 1904 and are buried in Hatten Cemetery at Durbin, Boyd County, KY
Notes on the map should be of special interest
to historians of Pike & Floyd County, KY
Some of the notes are transcribed below, with help from Steven T. Hurt
who apparently had a slightly more legible copy when he wrote his book.
Johns Creek flows from top to bottom on the map, in a West by Northwest direction.
The 1820 census lists some of the neighboring families that appear on the map
1. The map begins a mile or so above Meta, KY where Bent Branch flows into Johns Creek. A drawing of a panther is prominent. [Near the mouth of present-day Bevins Branch]; "1809. Where John Lycan killed a panther, 9 ft. in lenght (sic). It carried a yearling by the back of the neck. Lycan was born 1792."
2.On the valley along Bent Branch; "The pre-historic lived and died here all over this valley. They had villages many places, warred & died."
3."A. Pinson" named at the mouth of Bent Branch. Probably Aaron Pinson, a pioneer who moved from the Watauga River Valley of Eastern Tennessee.
4. "Grave Mounds" is written and drawn on the sharp bend in Johns Creek above the mouth of Coon Creek.
5. Near the mounds is written; "Leslie Mill. Race cut by Tom Davis for P. Leslie." [Pharmer Lesley].
6. "Burna Johnson set[tled] 1811" at the mouth of Coon Creek.
7. Other farms below Coon Creek: "Bevins, Jarrett Pinson, W. Scott, Wm. Pinson, Henry Pinson." The next note says, "Here Jas. Maynard settled 1803."
8. "Tom Pinson" lived at the mouth of Joe's Creek and further up the creek "Lead Mines" are noted.
9. "A man was killed here" is noted on either Miller's Creek or Cana [Caney] Creek. This death probably occurred on Miller's Creek which was the main route over a pass and down Stone Coal Creek to Sandy River.
10. On Bear Fork of Cana is a note "D. B. 1792." Probably referring to a Daniel Boone hunting camp.
11. HOME: Brushy Run extends to a pass [Brushy Gap] that goes to White Oak Branch of Buffalo Creek. Tevis drew hands pointing to this area as his home and noted "ancient diggings" nearby. This remote location is now accessable by a modern road passing around the airport at Hatcher Field on top of the mountain.
12. The next farm down Johns Creek was settled by "Ed Guilky - 1801," It was located just above the farm of "A.[Allen] Leslie - 1820" on Allen's Branch [now May Farm Branch], where Thomas Patton May lived after marrying Allen's daughter, Betty, in 1841.
13. The next short hollow is "Horse Pen Branch," which bears the note "Boone 1775." Stories of the Lesley/Leslie family tell that their ancestor, William Robert Lesley, learned of the area from Daniel Boone.
14. Snivley Chapel is not noted on the map. It was constructed in 1853 near the mouth of the next branch "Wm. Cornetts Br ?" [now named Walker Branch] flowing into Johns Creek. [This makes one speculate that the map might have been drawn before 1853.]
15. Martin's Branch is the location of the original Leslie Settlement and where some of the Leslie family members are buried. Notes on the map say, "Here Robert Leslie settled 1802. His father W.R. Leslie died - the first buried on Johns Creek. Pharmer Leslie was born May 22, 1803, the first child born in Pike Co." [acutually Floyd County at the time].
16. A significant landmark on Johns Creek was a giant tree drawn at the mouth of "Sycamore Cr." It is marked; "Tree camp - 15 ft. diameter." This hollow sycamore tree is where William Robert Lesley established temperory quarters while building a cabin for his family. In earlier years 'long hunters' from Virginia camped there during their excursions into the valley.
17. The next notes don Johns Creek reference:
 "Horse tracks found by Joseph Skaggs & Kendricks." They probably were early hunters exploring the valley.
"Mound graves" near the farm of "Dr. P.L. Jackson." Now named Jackson Branch.
18. Branches on down Johns Creek to the mouth of "Brushy Fork" were named for families who settled there: "Job Dean's Br., Bevins Br. & Clay's Br." Some of these branches still bear these names. Two others are still named "Drift Branch & Missouri Branch."
19. Very few notes are made on Brushy Fork, though it extends a number of miles parallel to Johns Creek. "Small salt Reuben Clark" is noted below the mouth of Brushy. The boundary between Pike and Floyd County passes near this point.
20. Bufallo Creek extends to the right on the map with a note regarding "Thomas Wiley", husband of the famous Indian captive, Jennie Wiley.
21. The next branches of Johns Creek in Floyd County are noted as "Souders Br., McGuires Br., Dicks Branch, Brandy Keg & Stratton Br." Today Jennie Wiley State Park is located in this area.
22. Drawn on "Sandy River" [Levisa Fork of Big Sandy] below the mouth of Johns Creek is "Block House built by Harmans and Auxiers." This is where Jennie Wiley was rescued in her escape from her Indian captors in 1890. Also noted:
"D. Boone and Nathan Boone left 1796."
23. The next creek down the river is Millers Creek and then Greasy Creek. Noted on this creek is "Daniel Boone Camp 1792-1796." and above there "Lead Mines."
24. Up Sandy River three creeks noted are: "Abbott, Middle Cr. and Beaver." Prestonsburg in not noted on the map. Near the location of the town is written:
"Here A. Harman was born 1798, first on Sandy."
25. Names of the children of Robert Leslie are at the bottom of the map.

by Rev. Marion Tevis Burris

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Plutocrats vs. Populists By CHRYSTIA FREELAND

    TORONTO — HERE’S the puzzle of America today: the plutocrats have never been richer, and their economic power continues to grow, but the populists, the wilder the better, are taking over. The rise of the political extremes is most evident, of course, in the domination of the Republican Party by the Tea Party and in the astonishing ability of this small group to shut down the American government. But the centrists are losing out in more genteel political battles on the left, too — that is the story of Bill de Blasio’s dark-horse surge to the mayoralty in New York, and of the Democratic president’s inability to push through his choice to run the Federal Reserve, Lawrence H. Summers.
    All of these are triumphs of populists over plutocrats: Mr. de Blasio is winning because he is offering New Yorkers a chance to reject the plutocratic politics of Michael R. Bloomberg. The left wing of the Democratic Party opposed the appointment of Mr. Summers as part of a wider backlash against the so-called Rubin Democrats (as in Robert E. Rubin, who preceded Mr. Summers as Treasury secretary during the Clinton administration) and their sympathy for Wall Street. Even the Tea Party, which in its initial phase was to some extent the creation of plutocrats like Charles and David Koch, has slipped the leash of its very conservative backers and alienated more centrist corporate bosses and organizations. 

    The limits of plutocratic politics, at both ends of the ideological spectrum, are being tested. That’s a surprise. Political scientists like Larry M. Bartels and Martin Gilens have documented the frightening degree to which, in America, more money means a more effective political voice: Democratic and Republican politicians are more likely to agree with the views of their wealthier constituents and to listen to them than they are to those lower down the income scale. Money also drives political engagement: Citizens United, which removed some restrictions on political spending, strengthened these trends.
    Why are the plutocrats, with their great wealth and a political system more likely to listen to them anyway, losing some control to the populists? The answer lies in the particular nature of plutocratic political power in the 21st century and its limitations in a wired mass democracy. 

    Consider the methods with which plutocrats actually exercise power in America’s New Gilded Age. The Koch brothers, who have found a way to blend their business interests and personal ideological convictions with the sponsorship of a highly effective political network, are easy to latch on to partly because this self-dealing fits so perfectly with our imagined idea of a nefarious plutocracy and partly because they have had such an impact. But the Kochs are the exception rather than the rule, and even in their case the grass roots they nurtured now follow their script imperfectly.
    MOST plutocrats are translating their vast economic power into political influence in two principle ways. The first is political lobbying strictly focused on the defense or expansion of their economic interests. This is very specific work, with each company or, at most, narrowly defined industry group advocating its self-interest: the hedge fund industry protecting the carried-interest tax loophole from which it benefits, or agribusiness pushing for continued subsidies. Often, these are fights for lower taxes and less regulation, but they are motivated by the bottom line, not by strictly political ideals, and they benefit very specific business people and companies, not the business community as a whole. 

    As Mark S. Mizruchi, a sociologist at the University of Michigan, documents in his recent book “The Fracturing of the American Corporate Elite,” this is not the business lobby that shaped America so powerfully in the 1950s and 1960s. Business leaders of the postwar era were individually weaker but collectively more effective; C.E.O. salaries were relatively lower, but the voice of business in the national conversation was much more potent, perhaps in part because it was less exclusively self-interested. The postwar era, not coincidentally a period when income inequality declined, was the time when business executives could say that what was good for G.M. was good for America and really believe it. It didn’t hurt that they were sometimes willing to forgo short-term personal and corporate gain when they judged that the national interest required it.

    The second way today’s plutocrats flex their political muscle is more novel. Matthew Bishop and Michael Green, a pair of business writers, have called this approach “philanthrocapitalism” — activist engagement with public policy and social problems. This isn’t the traditional charity of supporting hospitals and museums, uncontroversial good causes in which sitting on the board can offer the additional perk of status in the social elite. Philanthrocapitalism is a more self-consciously innovative and entrepreneurial effort to tackle the world’s most urgent social problems; philanthrocapitalists deploy not merely the fortunes they accumulated, but also the skills, energy and ambition they used to amass those fortunes in the first place.
    Bill Gates is the leading philanthrocapitalist, and he has many emulators — nowadays, having your own policy-oriented think tank is a far more effective status symbol among the super-rich than the mere conspicuous consumption of yachts or private jets. Philanthrocapitalism can be partisan — George Soros, one of the pioneers of this new approach, backed a big effort to try to prevent the re-election of George W. Bush — but it is most often about finding technocratic, evidence-based solutions to social problems and then advocating their wider adoption. 

    Philanthrocapitalism, particularly when you agree with the basic values of the capitalist in charge, can achieve remarkable things. Consider the work the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has done on malaria, or the transformative impact of Mr. Soros’s Open Society Foundations in Eastern Europe.
    Mr. Bloomberg took philanthrocapitalism one step further — he used his résumé and his wealth to win elected political office. In City Hall, Mr. Bloomberg’s greatest achievements were technocratic triumphs — restricting smoking in public places, posting calorie counts and championing biking. As he prepares for life after political office, he is already honing the more typical plutocratic skill of using his money to shape public policy by energetically engaging in national battles over issues like gun control and immigration reform.
    At its best, this form of plutocratic political power offers the tantalizing possibility of policy practiced at the highest professional level with none of the messiness and deal making and venality of traditional politics. You might call it the Silicon Valley school of politics — a technocratic, data-based, objective search for solutions to our problems, uncorrupted by vested interests or, when it comes to issues like smoking or soft drinks, our own self-indulgence. 

    But the same economic forces that have made this technocratic version of plutocratic politics possible — particularly the winner-take-all spiral that has increased inequality — have also helped define its limits. Surging income inequality doesn’t create just an economic divide. The gap is cultural and social, too. Plutocrats inhabit a different world from everyone else, with different schools, different means of travel, different food, even different life expectancies. The technocratic solutions to public-policy problems they deliver from those Olympian heights arrive in a wrapper of remote benevolence. Plutocrats are no more likely to send their own children to the charter schools they champion than they are to need the malaria cures they support. 

    People might not mind that if the political economy were delivering for society as a whole. But it is not: wages for 70 percent of the work force have stagnated, unemployment is high and many people with jobs feel insecure about them and about their retirement. Meanwhile, the plutocrats continue to prosper. And for more and more people, the plutocrats’ technocratic paternalism seems at best weak broth and at worst an effort to preserve the rules of a game that is rigged in their favor. More radical ideas, particularly ones explicitly hostile to elites and technocratic intellectuals, gain traction. And that is true not just in the United States but across the Western developed world — for instance, the Italian prime minister Enrico Letta, recently warned that “the rise of populism is today the main European social and political issue.”
    AS this populist wave crashes in on both sides of the Atlantic, the plutocrats, for all their treasure and their intellect, are in a weak position to hold it back.

    Part of the appeal of plutocratic politics is their power to liberate policy making from the messiness and the deal making of grass-roots and retail politics. In the postwar era, civic engagement was built through a network of community organizations with thousands of monthly-dues-paying members and through the often unseemly patronage networks of old-fashioned party machines, sometimes serving only particular ethnic communities or groups of workers.
    The age of plutocracy made it possible to liberate public policy from all of that, and to professionalize it. Instead of going to work as community organizers, or simply taking part in the civic life of their own communities, smart, publicly minded technocrats go to work for plutocrats whose values they share. The technocrats get to focus full time on the policy issues they love, without the tedium of building, rallying — and serving — a permanent mass membership. They can be pretty well paid to boot. 

    The Democratic political advisers who went from working on behalf of the president or his party to advising the San Francisco billionaire Thomas F. Steyer on his campaign against the Keystone XL pipeline provide a telling example. Twenty years ago, they might have gone to work for the Sierra Club or the Nature Conservancy or run for public office themselves. Today, they are helping to build a pop-up political movement for a plutocrat. 

    Plutocratic politics have much to recommend them. They are pure, smart and focused. But at a time when society as a whole is riven by an ever widening economic chasm, policy delivered from on high can get you only so far. Voters on both the right and the left are suspicious of whether the plutocrats and the technocrats they employ understand their real needs, and whether they truly have their best interests at heart. That rift means we should all brace ourselves for more extremist politics and a more rancorous political debate.
    Where does that leave smart centrists with their clever, fact-based policies designed to fine-tune 21st century capitalism and make it work better for everyone?
    Part of the problem is that no one has yet come up with a fully convincing answer to the question of how you harness the power of the technology revolution and globalization without hollowing out middle-class jobs. Liberal nanny-state paternalism, as it has been brilliantly described and practiced by Cass R. Sunstein and like-minded thinkers, can help, as can shoring up the welfare state. But neither is enough, and voters are smart enough to appreciate that. Even multiple nudges won’t make 21st-century capitalism work for everyone. Plutocrats, as well as the rest of us, need to rise to this larger challenge, to find solutions that work on the global scale at which business already operates. 

    The other task is to fully engage in retail, bottom-up politics — not just to sell those carefully thought-through, data-based technocratic solutions but to figure out what they should be in the first place. The Tea Party was able to steer the Republican Party away from its traditional country-club base because its anti-establishment rage resonated better with all of the grass-roots Republican voters who are part of the squeezed middle class. Mr. de Blasio will be the next mayor of New York because he built a constituency among those who are losing out and those who sympathize with them. Politics in the winner-take-all economy don’t have to be extremist and nasty, but they have to grow out of, and speak for, the 99 percent. The pop-up political movements that come so naturally to the plutocrats won’t be enough.

    The author of “Plutocrats: The Rise of the New Global Super-Rich and the Fall of Everyone Else” and a Liberal Party candidate for the Canadian Parliament.

    First Nation’s Anti-Fracking Protest: Stand Up for Our Rghts !

    Violence Erupts During #Elsipogtog First Nation’s Anti-Fracking Protest

    A Mi'kmaq protester raises a symbolic feather in efforts to stop natural gas drilling on what used to be her tribe's land. (Photo: Twitter/OCongres)
    A Mi'kmaq protester raises a symbolic feather in efforts to stop natural gas drilling on what used to be her tribe's land. (Photo: Twitter/OCongres)
    By Alexandra GovereRYOT News
    Thousands of people from at least 20 nations are expected to join a global protest on October 19 in support of the Elsipogtog Mi’kmaq demonstrators whose peaceful protest to protect (what used to be) their land from shale gas exploration was met with police dogs and riot squads Thursday.

    Read more:
    Follow us: @RYOTnews on Twitter | RYOTnews on Facebook

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    Sophia Banks @sophiaphotos
    Look at this photo. These are the women RCMP snipers are aiming rifles at. This is Canada

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    The Elsipogtog First Nation tribe has been barricading a road near Rexton, New Brunswick since September 30, after SWN Resources Canada announced plans to drill for shale gas without the community’s consent or consultation. The company wants to extract the gas using a controversial and harmful method called fracking — the hydraulic fracturing of rock used to bring valuable natural substances, like petroleum, to Earth’s surface.
    If you transform the word “fracking” into the curse word it most closely resembles, that’s pretty much what the process does to the environment. It releases toxins into the ground and atmosphere that can be extremely harmful to plant, animal and human life.
    Not only does SWN Resources plan on drilling into what will always be sacred Native Canadian land, regardless of who owns it, but the continued extracting and burning of fossil fuels around the world is the proven largest contributor to global warming.
    The Mi’kmaq community is opposed to the project for cultural and environmental reasons, many of which are intertwined considering the First Nation’s great respect for all living things. The Mi’kmaq people also believe it’s their right to reclaim their land from the Crown; land they fought in six wars over the course 75 years to protect, successfully, but then lost in a treaty between Britain and France that they had no part in.
    Photos of Thursday’s protest show tensions rising between protesters and heavily-armed RCMP police officers after “the chief was manhandled,” according to Elsipogtog councillor Robert Levi. “Dozens” were sprayed with pepper spray and high-pressure water. Tear gas and rubber bullets were also employed.
    A group of protesters retaliated by lighting police cars on fire, resulting in the arrest of at least 40 people.
    In August 2010, the Canadian government signed an agreement with the Mi’kmaq Nation, requiring them to  consult with the Mi’kmaq Grand Council before engaging in any activities or projects that affect the tribe in Nova Scotia. No such deal has been made with the Mi’kmaq’s of neighboring Canadian province, New Brunswick.
    Tweet #Elsipogtog to show your support for the Elsipogtog Mi’kmaq First Nation and the global anti-fracking movement.

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    Occupy Congress @OCongress
    Photo of the day: Native pleads for land not to be exploited for natural resources by oil corporations.
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    Naomi Klein         @NaomiAKlein
    This is nuts: RT @Hayden_King The legitimate response to peaceful protest in Canada?

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    Todd Lamirande @ToddLamirande
    Another chilling photo from

    View image on TwitPic website

    Matt @MattThor
    Police hosing fracking protesters in NB  via @TwitPic

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    Laura Brown @01LBrown
    @emilybat on scene,5 police cars on fire at town limits. A reaction to chief and council arrested @Global_NB

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    Elsipogtog Chief Arren Sock arrested MT @lionelwade1980: Chief & council getting arrested

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    RYOT NOTE: Hydraulic fracturing for shale gas has already started in New Brunswick – east of Sussex at Penobsquis and also in Elgin, and at least one major spill of frack fluid has occurred already. Donate to the NB Water First Legal Action Fund to stop further shale gas fracking, and win court protection for local families, their homes, their drinking water and the environment before irreparable, long term damage is done.

    Friday, November 1, 2013

    Austerity deals harsh blow to already stricken land

    A reconstructed coal mine with an animatronic figures at the Portal 31 Museum in Lynch, KY.  The museum is devoted to Kentucky's coal industry.
    A reconstructed coal mine features animatronic figures at the Portal 31 Museum in Lynch, KY. The museum is devoted to Kentucky's once thriving coal industry.
    Peter van Agtmael/Magnum for MSNBC

    A belt of coal on a mountainside in Harlan, KY.
    Photo by Peter van Agtmael/Magnum for MSNBC

    A belt of coal on a mountainside in Harlan, KY.

    Harlan, Kentucky — Republican Congressman Hal Rogers brought so many federal dollars home to eastern Kentucky’s coal country, he was crowned “Prince of Pork.”
    Now that spigot has been turned off, just when his district might actually need it the most.
    Competition from natural gas, cheaper coal, and environmental regulations have hastened the demise of the mining industry here, already in decline. More than 6,200 eastern Kentucky miners have been laid off since July 2011. There are now fewer coal jobs here than in 1920, when the great-grandfathers of today’s miners wielded shovels and pick-axes.
    But sequestration—a series of across-the-board spending cuts that many Tea Party Republicans have come to embrace—and other austerity measures have accelerated the economic free fall. Unemployment benefits to laid-off miners are shrinking; fewer meals are getting delivered to homebound seniors; and there’s less money to help workers retool for new jobs. Beginning Friday, food stamps will be cut by an average of $36 per month for a family of four.

    It’s yet another blow to struggling Appalachian mining towns like Harlan, where the mayor estimates that 15% of the town’s residents have moved out in the past year, searching for work elsewhere. Unsold guns are piling up in pawnshops. Even the local mortician is feeling the pinch: grieving relatives are downgrading from hardwood coffins to two-gauge steel, and ordering five baskets of flowers instead of twenty or thirty. “If I don’t sell to the coal people, I don’t sell,” one Harlan businessman explained.
    Rogers has been one of the few Republicans to slam sequestration as devastating, unworkable, and unrealistic. Unless Congress decides otherwise, $109 billion in cuts will continue every year until 2021—a budget that Rogers must implement as chair of the House Appropriations Committee. But many of his Republicans colleagues have embraced the $85 billion in cuts this year as guaranteed spending cuts. It’s unlikely that budget negotiations that started this week in Congress will reverse all of them.
    The incremental nature of sequestration —slow rolling, local, and scattered unevenly nationwide—has made the belt-tightening hard to measure and easy to dismiss since the cuts took effect in March. “The people that I’ve talked to seem to be doing well,” Missouri Rep. Billy Long said in April. “In fact, when I got out in restaurants here in town, people come up to me. They want to see more sequestration, not less.”
    Even some Democrats believe the White House overhyped the cuts when it made dire predictions about their impact, some of which didn’t pan out. “I think they probably went over the top in terms of saying that the consequences were going to be horrible. The lines in the airports aren’t long, the world hasn’t changed overnight,” said former Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell.
    But Harlan sees long lines. They are in the unemployment office, filled with out-of-work miners chasing any rumor of jobs left to be had. A TV in the waiting area explains how federal cuts have chipped away at the safety net most had hoped they would never need.
    “Sequestration…What does that mean for you? Your Emergency Unemployment Compensation benefits that begin on or after March 31, 2013 must be reduced 10.7% for each week of unemployment through September 2013.”
    “Sequestration is a terrible way to do business. I’ve said it since day one. It slices the good with the bad, and removes the duty of Congress to ensure vital programs, like Head Start and various grant programs receive adequate support,” Rogers told MSNBC. “Couple those deep cuts with the rapid loss of coal mining jobs in eastern Kentucky and we’re now facing an economic superstorm.”

    Donnie Reeves, an unemployed coal mine worker from Harlan, KY. receives retraining in industrial maintenance so he can find a new job.
    Photo by Peter van Agtmael/Magnum for MSNBC

    Donnie Reeves, an unemployed coal mine worker from Harlan, KY. receives retraining in industrial maintenance so he can find a new job.

    For Donnie Reeves, 40, each passing week of unemployment means less security. He lost his mining job in March, just weeks before his wife Tiffanie lost her job as a teaching assistant. “After December, it’s no more unemployment, no more nothing,” he said in August.
    “I would have to work a minimum of three jobs, each 40 hours a week at minimum wage. That’s to keep the lights on. No groceries, no gas,” said Donnie, who made $70,000 in his best year.
    Donnie spent the summer retraining for a factory job through an emergency federal program spared—this time—from sequestration’s axe. Tiffanie found a job helping unemployed Kentuckians like her husband find work.
    But with two teenage kids and their hometown’s economy in tatters, the Reeves know that their future may lie outside Harlan, leaving behind a family rooted here for more than 120 years.
    “Tiff,” he told her last spring, when they were first considering the idea, “we’re giving up.”

    For years, Kentucky politicians found funds to cushion the slow death of coal. And no one was better at it than Rogers, chairman of the powerful House appropriations committee.
    Since 1981, Rogers has requested more than $460 million in earmarks for the fifth district. All across eastern Kentucky, there are tributes to his largesse. Just a few hours east of Harlan, there’s the Hal Rogers Appalachian Recovery Center for drug addicts; to the west, the water slides at the Hal Rogers Family Entertainment Center. And in between, the Daniel Boone National Forest, honoring the beloved frontiersman whose name nonetheless got booted off the road now called the “Hal Rogers Parkway.”
    To Rogers’s defenders, the generous projects aimed to combat the “Appalachia problem”—generational poverty, exploitation, and underdevelopment that’s kept coal country on the margins of prosperity, poor people living in a resource-rich land, according to historian Ron Eller. The unemployment rate in Rogers’s fifth district is the highest in Kentucky, hitting 16% in three counties this August. That’s in an area where the poverty rate is already 27.5%, rising to 34% in families with children under 18.
    “There’s no question that federal funding has been vital to progress in southern and eastern Kentucky,” Rogers told MSNBC, citing projects to expand sewer lines, invest in infrastructure, and combat drug abuse.
    Just this summer, Rogers was celebrating some of the fruits of his labor.

    A young member of the Friendship Baptist Church congregation at Sunday services in Cawood, KY.
    Photo by Peter van Agtmael/Magnum for MSNBC

    A young member of the Friendship Baptist Church congregation at Sunday services in Cawood, KY.

    At the Harlan Girls and Boys Club in August, he praised Appalachia HIDTA, the anti-drug office he created with earmarked money “to spread the word about the ever-present dangers of marijuana.” Another pet project was in evidence as well—Eastern Kentucky PRIDE, an environmental cleanup group run by a former Rogers staffer.
    Both groups have been the recipients of millions in federal money, thanks to Rogers. He also secured earmarks for the infamous I-66 “road to nowhere,” which still hasn’t been finished, and a $4 million homeland security contract for a company that hired his own son.
    It’s precisely these kinds of projects that drove Tea Partiers to demand a ban on earmarks and more spending cuts when the GOP took over the House in 2010.
    Lobbying against establishment Republicans like Rogers, Tea Party freshmen pushed Congress to embrace a $2.1 trillion deficit deal in exchange for raising the debt ceiling. The law brought $900 billion in upfront cuts by imposing spending caps for the next decade. It also created a bipartisan “supercommitee” tasked with creating a $1.2 trillion deficit-reduction deal by the end of 2011. But the supercommittee failed when Republicans refused to budge on revenue increases that Democrats demanded, triggering sequestration’s automatic, across-the-board cuts.
    The irony is that the cuts under sequestration, that great fiscal equalizer, are hitting both the best and worst of the spending that Rogers has supported, whether it’s pure pork or critical social services.
    The fifth district’s economic woes make it clear that hundreds of millions in specially designated funds haven’t been enough to wean this place away from the twin pillars of coal and government aid.
    That’s been deeply frustrating to eastern Kentucky residents who’ve seen lawmakers like Rogers bring in huge-dollar projects while economic opportunities have evaporated. “I’m getting the hell out of Harlan County. Ain’t nothing here,” one jobless miner said, sitting in the town’s unemployment office. “What pisses me off—the politicians, they have millions of dollars pumped through here in the last 50 years.
    Federal grants for many of Rogers’s pet projects haven’t been renewed since earmarks died and austerity was reborn. But money has also dried up for Meals on Wheels, which is delivering 500 fewer lunches every month in Harlan County under sequestration, according to one employee. The cuts have squeezed Title I education funding to the local high school, which laid off teachers this summer. Fewer homebound seniors are getting help to pay their bills and do their laundry.

    An elderly man waits as volunteers from the Harlan Community Action Agency help build him a wheelchair ramp as part of their annual day of service in the southeastern region of Kentucky.
    Photo by Peter van Agtmael/Magnum for MSNBC

    An elderly man waits as volunteers from the Harlan Community Action Agency help build him a wheelchair ramp as part of their annual day of service in the southeastern region of Kentucky.

    Like other coal-state lawmakers, Rogers believes the first priority is to stop Obama’s “war on coal,” lobbying against regulations like the EPA’s new carbon rules for power plants. Though the president isn’t likely to budge on his climate regulations, he promised in June to “give special care to people and communities that are unsettled by the transition” to cleaner energy. But so far, little extra help has arrived in eastern Kentucky. Even environmentalists who’ve rallied for the end of coal acknowledge that the human cost of the transition has been too high. “I find it unconscionable that these areas that have powered our rise to the greatest economy in the world are being left behind,” said Matt Wasson, director of programs at Appalachian Voices.
    Rogers has found some common cause with Democrats by trying to bring the bacon home again—at least a slice of it. Together with Kentucky’s Democratic governor, Steve Beshear, Rogers backed a $5.2 million emergency federal grant for retraining laid-off miners. And he is one of the few Republicans to push back against his own party on sequestration and the GOP’s insistence on low spending levels even if the cuts are reversed.
    “I believe that the House has made its choice: sequestration—and its unrealistic and ill-conceived discretionary cuts—must be brought to an end,” he said in July after House Republicans could not bring themselves to vote for the very cuts they had originally agreed to make to transportation and housing, scuttling his committee’s spending bill.
    Not all Republicans agree—even those representing Kentucky. At an August town hall in Harlan, Sen. Rand Paul hadn’t even heard of the $5.2 million retraining program that helped Donnie Reeves.
    “It’s not about retraining—it’s about cutting the deficit,” Paul said. “We should spend what money comes in.”
    At the event, one resident asked Paul how sequestration would affect his employer, the Center for Independent Living, which uses federal funds to help elderly and disabled residents take care of themselves.
    “Our government is literally littered with waste,” Paul replied.
    Andrew Saylor, who’d posed the question, was incredulous. “I’m in charge of accounting, and we account for every damn thing,” he replied. Paul moved onto the next question.

    Donnie didn’t want to accept the money at first. “It hurts your pride.”
    Then Tiffanie laid out two years of tax returns. “This is what we paid in,” she said, showing her husband what he paid in after working 13-hour shifts.
    He signed up for unemployment within a week. “It’s a joke, but it helps,” he explained. But sequestration would still cut his federal benefits if he didn’t find a job by October—extra help that’s going to end for everyone come January.

    An exhibit at the Portal 31 Museum devoted to the coal mining industry in Lynch, KY. A series of animatronic figures narrate the history of coal in the region.
    Photo by Peter van Agtmael/Magnum for MSNBC

    An exhibit at the Portal 31 Museum devoted to the coal mining industry in Lynch, KY. A series of animatronic figures narrate the history of coal in the region.

    Donnie doesn’t romanticize the job he’s lost. Working on the mountainside, he and the other miners ran enormous, earth-smashing machines–the kind that split one coworker in half and took off another’s head. They all ragged on each other just to keep their nerves in check. “Once you see somebody get killed two or three times, you find the Lord real fast,” he said.
    But Donnie believes he’s luckier than some other miners—the guys with diabetes, arthritis, and nerve pain who are too old to be retrained, too young for Social Security. (“Never tell your age—never, ever,” a career counselor told two jobless 50-somethings in Harlan.)
    Sequestration isn’t making that transition easier. Already, it’s slashed federal support to Harlan’s Workforce Investment Program by 16%. That money could have paid for travel, equipment, and tuition for Harlan’s unemployed who want to retool for another profession. But it won’t be coming back unless Congress decides otherwise.
    Donnie’s no Obama fan, but he doesn’t think it’s worth cutting what little Washington is doing to help. “Say they cut that [retraining] program down. A guy gets laid off today—we can help him write a resume but can’t do anything else. It’s useless.”
    In late September, he saw that investment pay off: After more than six months of searching, he landed a job at a factory doing industrial maintenance, which he trained for over the summer with government assistance. It’s three hours away, which means living apart from his family until they move to Georgetown, Kentucky—but it’s a job.
    Rogers says he’s committed to finding a future for his district, announcing a summit with Gov. Beshear to find new solutions to Appalachia’s economic woes—a promise that Kentucky politicians have made for decades.
    But Harlan is still waiting for its own backup plan. Past boarded-up stores, pawnshops, and an abandoned tattoo parlor, a new pizza parlor sells alcohol and memories. The walls of Portal are lined with maps of old coal camps and black-and-white photos of miners.
    Every night, it plays the same song to close:
               In the deep dark hills of eastern Kentucky.
               That’s the place where I trace my bloodline.
               And it’s there I read on a hillside gravestone.
               You will never leave Harlan alive.
    Click here to view more images from Kentucky and life under austerity.

    Organ Trafficking: An International Crime Infrequently Punished's the other comments..Even though there is no evidence to link Jon Corzine, late of IMF Global (who "misplaced" hundreds of millions of $$$) one time CEO of Goldman/Sachs, Senator and Gov. of New Jersey to the illegal organ trafficking probe in New jersey, he has had his fingers in all the financial pies on Wall street and in New Jersey for years and years..How does some one launder $100's of millions of dollars from New Jersey without at least some cooperation from the very top of the ladder..

    The recent New Jersey corruption probe, which resulted in the arrest of 44 people including state legislators, government officials and several rabbis for running an international money laundering racket that trafficked human organs, has brought Israel into the spotlight for organ transplants. Despite some growing awareness, the international organ trade industry is not well understood due to lack of information and the widespread nature of the problem.

    Levy Izhak Rosenbaum, 60, said he had helped secure the organs from people in Israel for U.S.-based customers in exchange for payments of $120,000 or more. His attorneys said Rosenbaum had performed a lifesaving service for desperately ill people who had been languishing on official transplant waiting lists.

    But the feds weren't buying that line.

    "A black market in human organs is not only a grave threat to public health, it reserves lifesaving treatment for those who can best afford it at the expense of those who cannot," said New Jersey's U.S. Attorney, Paul Fishman. "We will not tolerate such an affront to human dignity."

    Operation Bid Rig is an ongoing, long-term investigation into political corruption in New Jersey conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Internal Revenue Service, and the United States Attorney for the District of New Jersey since 2002.

    The investigation has resulted in the indictments of more than 60 public officials and politically connected individuals since its inception. In July 2009, sting operations resulted in the arrest of 44 people in New Jersey and New York, including 29 public servants and political operatives, and five orthodox rabbis from the Syrian Jewish community. A number of high-level New Jersey elected officials were arrested in the operation, including Jersey City Deputy Mayor Leona Beldini, Hoboken Mayor Peter Cammarano, Secaucus Mayor Dennis Elwell, Ridgefield Mayor Anthony R. Suarez, former Jersey City Housing Authority Commissioner and Chairwoman Lori Serrano, Jersey City Housing Authority Commissioner Edward Cheatam, Assemblyman L. Harvey Smith, Assemblyman Daniel M. Van Pelt, former Assemblyman and unsuccessful mayoral candidate Louis Manzo, and political operatives Joseph Cardwell and Jack Shaw.[1][2]

     real estate developer Solomon Dwek of Ocean Township was arrested on charges of committing $50 million in bank fraud in May 2006. Dwek, a well-known member of the Syrian Jewish community whose parents founded the Deal Yeshiva,[1] agreed to become a cooperating witness for the FBI, infiltrating a money-laundering network connecting Israel and Syrian Jewish communities in Brooklyn and Deal, New Jersey. This network has allegedly laundered tens of millions of dollars through charitable non-profit organizations controlled by rabbis in New York and New Jersey. Among the rabbis implicated are Saul J. Kassin of Congregation Shaare Zion in Brooklyn, Eliahu Ben Haim of Congregation Ohel Yaacob in Deal, and Edmond Nahum of the Deal Synagogue.[6]

    According to criminal complaints, Dwek (identified as "CW" for "cooperating witness"), informed targets of the sting that he was bankrupt and trying to conceal his assets, claiming involvement in illegal businesses including the sale of counterfeit Gucci and Prada handbags, as well as insurance scams and bank frauds. The targets accepted checks made by Dwek made out to their charitable foundations and returned the money to him after deducting a fee. Much of the cash they provided him came from Israel, and some of that in turn came from a Swiss banker, prosecutors said. Prosecutors said that about $3 million had been laundered for Dwek since the beginning of the third phase of the operation in June 2007, much of the money coming from Israel.

    A report by Global Financial Integrity estimates that illegal organ trade generates between $600 million and $1.2 billion in profits per year with a span across many countries. Donor countries include impoverished nations in South America, Africa, Asia, and Eastern Europe. Recipient countries include the U.S., Canada, Australia, the United Kingdom, Israel, and Japan. "Wealthy patients are paying up to £128,500 (roughly $191,028 today) for a kidney to gangs, often in China, India and Pakistan, who harvest the organs from desperate people for as little as £3,200 (roughly $4,756 today)," reports the Daily Mail.

    Yet the first person ever convicted of organ trafficking in the U.S. only occurred in 2011, as reported in Bloomberg News. At that time, Levy Izhak Rosenbaum pleaded guilty to three counts of organ trafficking and one count of conspiracy in a federal court in New Jersey. Three people in New Jersey paid him a total $410,000 to arrange the sale of kidneys from healthy donors, he told the court, while an undercover FBI agent paid him $10,000.

    Significantly, the U.S. did not charge or identify any of the people who bought kidneys through Rosenbaum.

    Prosecutors allege Rosenbaum would buy organs from vulnerable people in Israel for as little as $10,000 and sell them to desperate patients for more than $100,000.

    The transplants took place at top U.S. hospitals, including at the Albert Einstein Medical Center in Philadelphia.

    Assistant U.S. Attorney Mark McCarren said Rosenbaum engaged in the practice for up to a decade and made millions by exploiting desperate recipients and paying donors paltry sums.

    a doctor with Albert Einstein Medical Center testified that Rosenbaum brought as many as 15 pairs of donors and recipients to the hospital for transplants from 1999 to 2002.