Saturday, September 29, 2012

Venezuela - Paraguay

I just watched "One Man's War" this Saturday evening, the 29th of September, 2012, the story of Dr. Joel Filartiga and his family's brave efforts and suffering under Paraguay's dictatorships, especially the Stroessner government.  I researched the court case mentioned in the film, and found it to be a landmark case in US law. 
     I researched recent developments in Paraguay, and was interested to learn more about Fernando Lugo, who unfortunately is no longer in office.  His past as a liberation theologist and repudiation of being a high-level Catholic bishop underlay his successful election run.  However, a violent clash in an eviction of landless peasants has resulted in a Congressional impeachment, which is being called an "institutional coup" by many other Latin American countries.  His vice-presidential successor, Franco, was not of the same political stripes, it is clear.  He fits nicely with reactionary capitalist policies.
      I then looked into Venezuela to get updated, and found a fine piece which clarifies the positive weight of Chavez's policies. A number of officials in the country have not proven to be as upright as Chavez has.  Still, on the whole, the country's progress appears impressive and significant.

Impressions of the Venezuelan Election: Participatory Democracy vs. Western Democratic Decline

By Ewan Robertson -, September 28th 2012

"....For a journalist with a corporate news service such as Reuters, sitting on a fat salary in a plush Caracas apartment on tap to the opposition (one imagines), (Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez's social programs are) evidence of the “romantic and affectionate view of Chavez” who is cynically playing “the populist card” to win another term in office. Or to an Associated Press journalist who’s never tasted poverty in their life, social programs, often referred to as “oil-fuelled spending largesse” in anti-Chavez corporate press jargon, can be dismissed as Chavez “spending heavily on social programs…this year seeking to shore up support,” i.e. cynically buying votes. Never mind the historical record, which shows a long-term commitment of behalf of the Chavez government to social spending, with poverty more than halved among numerous other social achievements. This commitment includes maintaining social spending during the 2009-10 recession in Venezuela, when no presidential election was in sight, in order to offset the negative effects of the global economic crisis on the Venezuelan people, a move apparently beyond the means of many “first world” nations.

Indeed, the young women who told me that “love” was the reason she voted for Chavez wasn’t being tricked by some populist image or last minute spending burst. She came from a poor family which used to live in a shanty house near where the Merida rally took place. Now she is about to graduate as a doctor in the government’s integral community medicine program, and would have been excluded from the Venezuela’s traditionally elite medical system. Her shanty house had also been transformed into a dignified home through the community driven “homes for shanties” program, part of the government’s mass housing construction mission. It’s transformations like these that have earned Chavez such strong support, as much as it pains the international media to say so. Indeed, according to corporate media sources, gaining the support of the popular majority through directing government policy toward their needs seems to be a bad thing for “democracy”, with former Council of Foreign Relations analysis Joe Hirst recently arguing that Venezuela needs to take lessons on democracy from the US. What rubbish. At least former US President Jimmy Carter has added a dose of reality to what has been atrociously misleading reporting by most mainstream media outlets on Venezuela’s election, stating that in his opinion Venezuela’s electoral system is the best in the world....."

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

GMOs in CA-Mitt Romney- more

Dear Organic Consumer,
We are entering the home stretch of the most important food policy fight in your lifetime. Prop 37, the California Right to Know Genetically Engineered Food Act, is a November 6 grassroots-powered, citizens’ ballot initiative that has huge implications for the future of food in this country.
This is a battle that pits the people – you, me, moms, dads, rich, poor, young, old - against fat-cat pesticide, biotech, and junk-food corporations who for years have shamelessly manipulated science, the political system, and the truth in order to rack up obscene profits at the expense of your health and safety.
This is a battle that has nothing to do with partisan politics. National polls show that 91% of Americans – republicans, democrats, independents, libertarians - want GMOs labeled.
This is a battle that began on the ground in California and has caught fire, garnering national and international media attention, drawing donors and volunteers from all 50 states.
This is a battle that we must win . . . if we are ever going to have what citizens in nearly 50 other countries already have: the basic right to know if our food contains pesticide-injected, bacteria and virus-laced genetically modified ingredients. Ingredients that, according to a growing number of scientists, are making us sick with everything from allergies and obesity, to cancer and organ failure.
In a few short weeks, early voting begins in California. By Nov. 6, this battle will have been won or lost.
If you eat food, this is your fight. If you haven’t joined in, now is the time.
You take the risks, Monsanto gets the benefits
Would you knowingly feed your family foods that are linked to cancer and organ failure? Absolutely not. Monsanto knows this. Monsanto knows that the FDA has given it a free ride for more than 15 years, allowing its bioengineers to concoct laboratory experiments using you as their lab rat. Between 75% - 80% of all non-organic processed foods contain GMOs. Unless those foods are labeled, you are most likely a human lab rat in a vast genetic experiment.
You take all the risks, Monsanto gets all the benefits.
Scientists point to a growing body of evidence to support claims that GMOs are linked to a host of health concerns. Why didn’t we know this 15 years ago? Because without labels, it’s impossible to trace specific health concerns to their food origins. The FDA conducts no pre-market safety testing on GMO foods, instead relying on Monsanto, DuPont, and Dow chemical to vouch for their safety.
Yes, believe it or not, the FDA allows the same companies that lied to us about the safety of DDT, Agent Orange, PCBs and bovine growth hormone to conduct their own dubious safety testing on GMOs, and then use those tests as ‘proof’ that GMOs are safe.
"Ronnie Cummins, Organic Consumers Association"
Dear MARK,
Mitt Romney:
There are 47 percent of the people who will vote for the president no matter what. All right, there are 47 percent who are with him, who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe the government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you-name-it. That that’s an entitlement. And the government should give it to them. And they will vote for this president no matter what…These are people who pay no income tax.
This statement is from video footage of a closed-door, $50,000 a plate fundraiser Mitt Romney held with some of his wealthy donors that Mother Jones released yesterday. This is what Mitt Romney thinks of you.
We NEED to keep him and his equally dangerous running mate Paul Ryan OUT of the White House and we need your help to do it. Please become one of the 2,687 newly renewed members we need on our side to STOP Romney-Ryan right now. Renew today.
As anticipated, President Obama’s convention bounce in the polls is slipping ... and no matter how many awkward stumbles Mitt Romney makes on the campaign trail, he’s being kept afloat by his Big Money backers and the literally hundreds of millions of dollars they will pour into swing states on his behalf in the final weeks of the election.
There’s no time to lose. We need to mobilize volunteers and voters in the key battleground states, which means we need your immediate renewed support to give us the resources to do it.
  • In several battleground states, we’re mobilizing protest events and TV advertising timed with campaign appearances by Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan in those states -- including the debates.
  • We plan to expand our field program to another key swing state Virginia, and put staff on the ground there as soon as possible.
  • In Colorado, we’re fighting Citizens United with a poll-tested ballot initiative that could make the difference for Obama in the Electoral College.
Mitt Romney’s comments at that fundraiser show exactly what he’s saying about you behind your back ... and it ain’t pretty. Romney is dripping with contempt for everyday working Americans, people trying to pay their bills and put their kids through college, seniors on Social Security and Medicare, people trying to get an even break against the phenomenally powerful corporate forces arrayed against them every day.
This is an ugly, ugly portrait that has been revealed, not only of Mitt Romney, but also of the wealthy interests who are responding positively to this behind-closed-doors spiel by funding his campaign.
Mitt Romney’s vision is NOT the American Way. Stand with us now.
Michael B. Keegan signature
Michael Keegan, President
P.S. In addition to his disdainful comments about half of all Americans, yesterday’s video footage also shows Romney speaking out against workers’ rights, saying, “I wish we weren’t unionized.” And ridiculously blaming the closeness of this election on the fact that he’s not Latino saying that he would have an easier time winning had his Mexican-born father been born to Latinos instead of white parents, as if his being white had actually held him back his whole life!
"Michael Keegan, People For the American Way"

Shine On

Ditch the Chemicals and Make Your Own Cleaners
© Thinkstock
As the number of household cleaning products has increased, so have the amount of unsafe chemical combinations in our window cleaners, oven cleaners, bathtub scrubbers and wood shiners.  Most products on the market today feature paragraph-long ingredient lists, including artificial colors and fragrances and harsh cleansing agents like bleach, ammonia and acids. Synthetic cleaners contribute to indoor air pollution by giving off fumes that can irritate eyes, skin and lungs. Children and pets are particularly at risk for these harmful effects. Some products also contain unnecessary antibacterial agents which have been shown to promote the growth of antibacterial resistant organisms. Fortunately, synthetic cleaners are based on natural ingredients and can be easily replicated. By using these natural formulas, you can create your own cleaning solutions that are just as effective, but less toxic and less expensive.
A caveat: Try these solutions on a small area first since not all surfaces may react the same way.
The Bathroom
The bathroom tends to attract the most toxic scrubbing agents to combat mold, mildew and soap scum. There are a number of natural ingredients that can have the same effect as bleach and ammonia, but without the toxic fumes and residue left behind. Lemons have similar properties to bleach, and can be used to dissolve soap scum and hard water deposits.  To combat soap scum or stains on tile, cut a lemon in half and dip it into a bowl of kosher salt, then start scrubbing the tile.
The slightly acidic nature of white vinegar makes it effective at dissolving grease, soap scum and lime deposits from smooth surfaces in the kitchen and bathroom. You can apply concentrated lemon juice and vinegar in a spray bottle if you’re working on a particularly large surface area. Mix 1 tablespoon of vinegar and 1 tablespoon of lemon juice per quart of water. Vinegar solutions also work to disinfect surfaces, such as toilet bowls.
To get the effect of a creamy soft scrubber for tile, mix half a cup of baking soda into a bowl with enough liquid detergent to mimic the texture of cake frosting. Scoop the mixture onto a sponge and wash the tile surface. Baking soda not only deodorizes, but also acts as a cleaning and brightening abrasive that rivals traditional powdered cleansers. Baking soda solutions also leave no gritty residue. To save your baking soda solution for later use, add 1 teaspoon of vegetable glycerin so the solution doesn’t dry out and store it in a sealed glass container. 
The Kitchen
Kitchen appliances, especially ovens, get scrubbed down with abrasive cleansers that can leave gritty residue and cause skin and eye irritation. To remove stains or clean the inside of a messy oven, allow a baking soda and water paste to set for several minutes before rinsing; to boost the abrasive action for tougher cleaning jobs, add kosher salt to the paste.
To knock out germs without the added antibiotic solutions, mix 2 cups of water, 3 tablespoons of liquid soap and 20 to 30 drops of tea tree oil. Spray or rub on countertops and other kitchen surfaces, and do not rinse after it’s wiped away. Tea tree oil solutions can also be used in the bathroom to combat mold and mildew on tile, shower curtains or ceilings.
Glass Surfaces
An effective window cleaner can be made by mixing ¼- ½ teaspoon of liquid detergent, 2 tablespoons of vinegar and 2 cups of water in a spray bottle. The soap in this recipe cuts the wax residue from the commercial brands you may have used in the past. Wiping glass surfaces with newspaper rather than a paper towel eliminates streaking. If you do not like the strong smell of vinegar, you can substitute it with undiluted lemon juice or club soda.
Wood Surfaces
White vinegar is a gentle enough solution to use on wooden surfaces, especially wood floors. Mix 1/4 to 1/2 cup of vinegar with warm water in a bucket or spray bottle. To produce added shine, blend 1 cup of olive oil and 1/2 cup of lemon juice in a spray bottle, mist onto a soft cloth and polish the wood. Polishing with olive oil moisturizes wood and creates a shine; lemon juice cleans the surface and leaves behind a fresh scent. For a less oily formula, mix ¼ cup white vinegar with a few drops of oil. Olive oil should not be used on hardwood floors.
Fabrics and Carpets
Baking soda is the most natural deodorizer, and can be applied to carpets and fabrics to freshen them prior to vacuuming. Sodium borate, or borax, has a long history as a nontoxic powdered laundry booster. Remove stains from fabrics before washing by rubbing a paste of dishwasher detergent and sodium borate into the fabric and rinsing. Hydrogen peroxide works well to fizz away perspiration stains on white fabrics. Keep a spray bottle filled with a peroxide and water mixture near the washing machine; spray spots and rinse with clean water before starting the machine. If you need to safely remove stains from colored fabrics, try club soda or diluted vinegar instead. 
JENNIFER SANTISI is a science and environmental writer in Washington, D.C.
3. Show Your Fridge Some Love
Save 4%
The refrigerator is one of the biggest energy-users in your home, and if it was built before 1993, it's a huge energy hog. Clean the coils of your fridge every six months to keep it running efficiently, and take up unused space with jugs of water, which hold in the cold. Eliminate a second refrigerator, if you have one.
Take Down the Tea Party Ten! CREDO Action | more than a network, a movement.
Mark -
Michele Bachmann is vulnerable.
A poll released last week found she's clinging to just a two point lead in her district, with independent voters swinging massively away from her campaign over the last few weeks.
Bachmann is one of the figure heads of Tea Party extremism. If she is vulnerable, then so are Tea Party extremists like her all over the country.
It all comes down to the strength of grassroots voter contact operations in these final weeks.
Believe it or not, a lot of folks are just now paying attention to the elections. And from Joe Walsh and Mitt Romney's false and offensive statements about people being dependent on government, to Todd Akin's attacks on women, to continued Tea Party attacks on Medicare and Medicaid, there's a whole lot to dislike about the Tea Party.
"Becky Bond, CREDO Action"
Mark Jesus-
Shell just announced that it was stopping its Arctic drilling program for 2012!

It’s great news and a strong reminder of the power that people have when they come together around a single idea.

Shell was set to kickstart the Arctic oil rush. The company had already invested seven years and about $5,000,000,000 to make it happen. But thanks to Mother Nature, its own incompetence and the millions of people who have taken action to save the Arctic, Shell's plans have been put on hold until next year.

This is our opportunity to make sure Shell doesn’t get a second chance next year and to save the Arctic once and for all. Mark Jesus, now’s the time to take action.

Join the millions who have already taken action to save the Arctic and add your name to our petition calling for a global sanctuary in the high Arctic.

The importance of this moment can’t be overestimated. Other major oil companies are now questioning the logic of Arctic drilling. Only a few days ago, the Norwegian company Statoil said it was going to wait and see how Shell’s plan goes before moving forward with its own in the Arctic.

Shell has made it pretty clear that Arctic oil drilling is an expensive and risky mistake.

This is a huge day for our campaign to save the Arctic. We should take a minute and celebrate what we have accomplished together. But the fight isn’t over. There is still work to do if we want to permanently protect the Arctic from Big Oil and climate change.
"Dan Howells, Greenpeace" <>

Monday, September 17, 2012

Walmart- Occupy Rio+20, People´s Summit

We have an important question for Walmart:
Can you help ensure your suppliers provide safe and humane working conditions for the thousands of warehouse workers in your supply chain?
Just two days from now, a courageous group of workers – men and women who have gone on strike to protest the mounting retaliation and unsafe working conditions they face every day while loading goods headed to Walmart's stores – will deliver a letter to Walmart executives asking to sit down and discuss that very question. So far, the company has refused to answer.
The more people who demand a safer working environment for these workers, the harder it will be for Walmart to ignore us.
Over 10,000 activists have already stood with these workers by signing the petition.

....Capitalism also leads to loss of social control, democratic and communitarian them on natural resources and strategic services, which continue to be privatized, turning rights into commodities and limiting the access of people to goods and services necessary for survival.
The so-called “green economy” is one of the financial terms of the current phase of capitalism that also makes use of old and new mechanisms, such as deepening of the public-private debt, the super-stimulus to consumption, ownership and concentration of new technologies , carbon markets and biodiversity, land grabbing and land foreignization and public-private partnerships, among others.
The alternatives are in our people, our history, our customs, knowledge, practices and production systems, we must maintain, upgrade and achieve scale project as counter-hegemonic and transformative.
The defense of public spaces in cities with democratic governance and popular participation, cooperative and inclusive economy, food sovereignty, a new paradigm of production, distribution and consumption, the change of the energy matrix, are examples of real alternatives to the current system agro-industrial-urban.
The defense of the commons is guaranteed by a series of human rights and the nature, solidarity and respect for different worldviews and beliefs of peoples, for example, the defense of “Living Well” as a way to exist in harmony with nature, which presupposes a just transition to be built with workers / and the people.
We require a just transition which implies the expansion of the concept of work, recognition of women’s work and a balance between production and reproduction, so this is not an exclusive assignment of women. Still passes for freedom of organization and the right to collective bargaining, as well as the establishment of a broad network of social welfare and protection, understood as a human right as well as public policies that ensure decent work forms.
We claim feminism as a means of building equality, women’s autonomy over their bodies and sexuality and the right to a life free of violence. Likewise we reaffirm the urgency of the distribution of wealth and income, combating racism and ethnocide, the guarantee of right to land and territory, the right to the city, the environment and water, education, culture, freedom of expression and democratization of the media.
The strengthening of diverse local economies and ensure the territorial rights of the community building the most vibrant economies. These local economies provide sustainable livelihoods local, community solidarity, vital components of ecosystem resilience. The diversity of nature and its associated cultural diversity is the foundation for a new paradigm of society.
La economía que necesitamos: Declaración del movimiento de Economía Social y Solidaria a Rio +20August 03 2012
The Economy we need: declaration of the Social and Solidarity Economy movement at Rio+20

This declaration was written by the Board of the Intercontinental Network for the Promotion of Social and Solidarity Economy (RIPESS), based on the discussions on Rio +20 of the 5th Latin American and Caribbean Conference on Solidarity Economy and fair trade and inputs from the delegates from the other continents. After the declaration follow the signatures from more than 370 organizations and networks fom all over the world who expressed their support between June 16th and 25th.

The Economy we need

The People’s Summit and the United Nations Conference for Sustainable Development of Rio+20 are being held at a time of crisis of our civilisation that takes multiple forms: food, ecology, energy, financial, social and of political representation. And it is not the same mindset or social model that created this crisis that will or can solve it!

The so-called green economy as presented by governments and multinational corporations is merely the extension of this model, through the commodification of the Commons; it is a new form of expansion of capitalism in crisis. Solidarity economy however is a means to free society of these constraints.

There are already many economic and social initiatives that exist on all continents, at community, regional and country level. They cover many sectors of activity and are the living proof of the concrete, vibrant possibility to build different development models, forms of organisation and society where life, plurality, self-management, environmental and social justice define solidarity economy, an economy that is different from that of capital. Solidarity economy is a social movement that together with others is contributing to the consolidation of a genuine economic and political democracy.

Monday, September 10, 2012

NCBA Co-op News- EU Solar Tariffs-

NCBA Ignite <>
Educating Consumers to Live Cooperatively
On Sept. 10, the National Cooperative Business Association (NCBA) and Cabot Creamery Cooperative are launching a campaign to spread the word that co-ops are the fix (Twitter hashtag: #TheFix) to many of our country's biggest challenges. An IYC legacy initiative, we're rolling out this public awareness campaign to educate consumers on how co-ops help with job creation, affordable housing, healthy food access and worker empowerment. On the same day, we'll be rolling out the new CooperateUSA mobile app for Apple and Android devices. This powerful resource helps you find co-ops anywhere, anytime—from your local community to across the US. You earn rewards for using the mobile app to do everyday things, like shopping, eating, banking and living cooperatively….

Food Co-op Highlights IYC at Point of SaleNews & Views
New England Co-ops Find Creative Ways to Celebrate IYC
The Northeast is home to a vibrant community of cooperative enterprises, including food, farmer, worker, energy and artisan co-ops and credit unions. In honor of the International Year of Cooperatives, the Neighboring Food Co-op Association has committed to posting a new co-op profile to their website for each month of 2012, and they've encouraged members to use these profiles in newsletters, websites and promotional materials. Individual co-ops in the region have already found a number of other creative ways to help celebrate IYC. For example, when patrons check out at City Market/Onion River Co-op, they see a sign on the cash register highlighting IYC and encouraging them to "ask your cashier today how to become a member in 2012." In addition, Littleton Food Co-op celebrated other regional co-ops with an ad in local papers, while the Franklin Community Co-op (with help from the Valley Cooperative Business Association) successfully encouraged the Greenfield (MA) City Council to pass a resolution recognizing IYC.

2012 Fall Green Worker Co-op Academy Begins
Green Worker Cooperatives is dedicated to incubating worker-owned green businesses in the South Bronx of New York City to help build a strong local economy rooted in democracy and environmental justice. Their Fall 2012 Co-op Academy has just begun, with Ginger Moon, which successfully raised the necessary funds to begin coursework. Ginger Moon’s mother-led team is dedicated to providing healing foods for the childbearing year.

Chinese Solar-Panel Exporters Face the Threat of EU Tariffs
By Jonathan Stearns, Bloomberg
6 de Setembro de 2012
BRUSSELS -- The European Union threatened to impose tariffs on solar panels from China in the biggest EU trade dispute of its kind, saying producers in Europe may be victims of unfair price undercutting.
The EU opened a probe into whether Chinese manufacturers of solar panels sell them in the 27-nation bloc below cost, a practice known as dumping. The inquiry covers 21 billion euros ($26 billion) of imports of crystalline silicon photovoltaic modules or panels and cells and wafers used in them.
At stake is whether European companies such as Solarworld AG, Germany’s largest maker of the renewable-energy technology, win levies to counter growing competition from China following similar U.S. trade protection.
The investigation will determine whether solar panels from China are “being dumped and whether the dumped imports have caused injury to the union industry,” the European Commission, the EU’s trade authority in Brussels, said today in the Official Journal. The commission has nine months to decide whether to impose provisional anti-dumping duties for half a year and EU governments have 15 months to decide whether to apply “definitive” levies for five years.
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PV System Values: Solar Energy Needs Electrical Storage Now

by Joseph McCabe, PE | August 31, 2012 | 6 Comments
Dramatic cost reduction in photovoltaics (PV), combined with lower electrical storage costs from batteries for the automotive industry, are creating new business opportunities for grid-tied PV systems that include energy storage

"Green America" <>
Save the date! The Green Festival returns to Washington, DC the weekend of September 29 and 30. Festivities start Saturday at 10AM and Sunday at 11AM at the DC Convention Center was an all-time record month for sales of the Chevy Volt. The final tally was not available yet, but GM said the company expects the Volt’s August sales, which includes both 2012 and 2013 models, to top 2,500 - a 35 percent increase over July sales. Yet, apparently the sales of the Volt are still not strong enough and GM will close the Detroit-Hamtramck assembly plant, again, for four weeks this fall.

Given that the automaker appears to be struggling to position and promote the Volt, we have three recommendations.
Triple Pundit <>