Guerrilla Grafters Bring Forbidden Fruit Back To City Trees

From NPR:

by Lonny Shavelson
April 7, 2012

Spring means cherry, pear and apple blossoms. But in many metropolitan areas, urban foresters ensure those flowering fruit trees don’t bear fruit to keep fallen fruit from being trampled into slippery sidewalk jelly.

But a group of fruit fans in the San Francisco Bay Area is secretly grafting fruit-bearing tree limbs onto those fruitless trees.

I visited the “crime scene” one recent day, but I can’t tell you where it is because I was with the “criminals.”

“If we say where it is, they could come after me,” says Tara Hui, a fruit tree grafter. She’s talking about city officials, who manage the trees and say it’s illegal to have fruit trees on sidewalks.

So let’s just say we’re in some Bay Area city in a working-class neighborhood, at a line of pear trees that bear no pears.

Hui and two assistants pull out a knife, reach into a plastic bag filled with twigs no bigger than your pinkie, and cut from a fruit bearing pear tree. She says it’s an Asian pear, and that she’s grafting it onto a flowering pear tree.

Continue reading at:

Obama and GOP Offer Two Visions of America: ‘We’re in It Together’ vs. ‘You’re on Your Own’

From Rolling Stone:

By Jared Bernstein
April 4, 2012

Rep. Paul Ryan did the world a favor by not trying to hide the ball with his budget—now adopted by House Republicans and endorsed by Gov. Romney.  Its vision for America is clear, a vision that we at CBPP have been laying out in recent days (see here, here, here, and here).

President Obama made a similar point yesterday in his speech:

“I can’t remember a time when the choice between two competing visions of our future has been so unambiguously clear.”

The two visions don’t even agree on the nature of the problem they’re out to solve.

According to Rep. Ryan’s plan, the trouble is this: The poor and middle class have too much and the rich have too little. And his budget solves this problem very effectively, by eviscerating government programs that benefit the non-rich and using the “savings,” mostly via tax cuts, to further enrich the wealthiest households.

The contrasting vision recognizes that the wealthiest households are doing great, while the poor and middle class are still struggling with high unemployment, stagnating incomes, insecure health coverage, and just the basic squeeze of trying to make ends meet, save for the future, help the kids get ahead, and so on.

And this vision sees government as having a role in correcting, at least in part, this imbalance. As Obama said in yesterday’s speech, citing a Republican president, Abraham Lincoln, “Through government, we should do together what we cannot do as well for ourselves.”

Posted in Uncategorized. Comments Off on Obama and GOP Offer Two Visions of America: ‘We’re in It Together’ vs. ‘You’re on Your Own’

Must women “civilize” men?

From Salon:

At the root of the conservative war on contraception is a deep-seated anxiety about the traditional family

By Joan Walsh
Tuesday, Apr 3, 2012

Liberals have documented the existence of a bitter Republican campaign against women’s health and freedom, but I don’t think we’ve identified its cause or its full intent. It may be hurting Republicans almost as much as it’s hurting women: New Gallup poll data released Monday found that Obama leads Romney 51 percent to 42 percent among registered voters in 12 swing states. Last month he trailed the Republican by 2 points. The change is due to a sharp shift among women: Obama now leads Romney among women under the age of 50 by 30 points; that lead was 5 points in February.

Some panicked Republicans insist crafty Democrats are the ones playing the culture wars, but we’ve debunked that: Democrats didn’t make the GOP presidential field back “personhood” laws that would criminalize some forms of birth control. They didn’t force the newly elected House GOP to make defunding Planned Parenthood their first legislative goal. And they didn’t propose the Blunt Amendment that would have allowed employers to withhold health insurance coverage not only for contraception, but for any treatment they disapproved of — or make every Republican senator vote for it, except the outgoing Olympia Snowe.

But why is this happening now, and not in, say, 2000 or 2008? I got my first hint of what conservatives are up to listening to Rick Santorum early in the presidential campaign. “When the family breaks down, the economy breaks down,” he says over and over, and he insists growing “dependency” on government plays a key role in the family’s decline. Mitt Romney goes a little lighter on the culture-war stuff, but Saturday in Wisconsin he too sounded the anti-government-dependency theme. “President Obama believes in a government-centered society,” Romney said. Not coincidentally, he also railed against Planned Parenthood, and once again promised to defund it.

Paul Ryan likewise attacks “dependency,” telling the American Enterprise Institute last week that America is at an “insidious moral tipping point, and I think the president is accelerating this.” Government support, Ryan insists, “lulls able-bodied people into lives of complacency and dependency, which drains them of their very will and incentive to make the most of their lives. It’s demeaning.”

Continue reading at:

Posted in Uncategorized. Comments Off on Must women “civilize” men?

Bye Bye Snow and Ice (and a Whole Lot More)

From Mother Jones:

By Julia Whitty
Fri Apr. 6, 2012

We’ve heard a lot about the  life-threatening challenges facing penguins and polar bears as snow and ice disappear. But what about all the other life of the cryosphere—the parts of Earth where water is in its solid state for at least one month of the year (map below)? From a new paper in Bioscience:

Global average air temperature has warmed by 1 Celsius (°C) over the past century, and in response, the cryosphere—the part of the Earth’s surface most influenced by ice and snow—is changing. Specifically, alpine glaciers are retreating, the expanse of Arctic sea ice has been shrinking, the thickness and duration of winter snowpacks are diminishing, permafrost has been melting, and the ice cover on lakes and rivers has been appearing later in the year and melting out earlier. Although these changes are relatively well documented, the ecological responses and long-term consequences that they initiate are not.

The paper describes impacts identified through decades-long ecological studies. The authors found two ecosystem-level responses—that is, responses rippling across various species and trophic levels—as a result of the disappearing cryosphere:

  1. Changes in foodwebs resulting from the loss of habitat and from the loss of species or the replacement of species (a.k.a. the big stuff we tend to notice and take photos of).
  2. Changes in the rates and mechanisms of biogeochemical storage and cycling of carbon and nutrients, caused by changes in physical forcings or ecological community functioning (a.k.a. the little stuff that’s hard to see but that underpins the big stuff in #1).

Continue reading at:

Posted in Uncategorized. Comments Off on Bye Bye Snow and Ice (and a Whole Lot More)

ACT Up Members, Occupiers to Give Wall Street the Fi.S.T.

From The Edge:,_occupiers_to_give_wall_street_the_fist

by Winnie McCroy
Friday Apr 6, 2012

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg may have shut down the Occupy Wall Street encampment at Zuccotti Park last November, but he did not manage to squelch the movement. Like spring blossoms; protestors have begun emerging from their winter solitude, determined once again to take to the streets in opposition of corporate greed and widespread inequality.

But this time, ACT Up (AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power) has teamed up with this passionate group of protestors for an April 25 action that will commemorate the organization’s 25th anniversary. Hundreds of protestors will march from City Hall to Wall Street to call upon local, state and federal legislators to “give Wall Street the Fi.S.T,” demanding a small financial speculation tax (comically labeled “Fi.S.T”) or “Robin Hood tax” on speculative trading by Wall Street investment banks and hedge funds. Activists say a portion of the revenue that this tax would raise could end the worldwide HIV/AIDS epidemic.

“ACT Up has a long history of this, although we’ve never used the term ’occupy’ before,” said Jennifer Flynn, a longtime ACT Up member and managing director of the Health Global Access Project. “Our first action in 1987 was targeting Wall Street, and many other actions targeted the high price of pharmaceuticals. There is a deep understanding that the AIDS crisis became a pandemic because it was driven by corporate greed and the government inaction that this greed can buy.”

Flynn said that Occupy protesters are beginning to see the natural affinity between their groups, and are joining efforts to a common cause. Activists across the world have embraced the idea of a “Robin Hood tax,” a .003 to .5 percent charge on speculative tax transactions and derivatives that they say would raise an estimated $350 billion a year to fight HIV, homelessness, hunger and create jobs.

“The results of the HTPN [HIV Prevention Trials Network] 052 studies proved we could end the AIDS pandemic in 30 years if we drive up investment into treatment slightly,” said Flynn. “AIDS would look like polio; there would be a couple of thousand cases around world instead of 33 million people living with AIDS. We ask for about $1 billion dollars. And if we got $2 billion, we’d be on track, with $348 billion left over. But right now, it’s going into the pockets of the big banks and speculators who caused the financial crisis.”

Continue reading at:,_occupiers_to_give_wall_street_the_fist

Posted in Uncategorized. Comments Off on ACT Up Members, Occupiers to Give Wall Street the Fi.S.T.

Protecting Psychologists Who Harm: The APA’s Latest Wrong Turn

From Truth Out:

By Roy Eidelson
Saturday, 07 April 2012

Shortly after learning about the American Psychological Association’s (APA) late February announcement of its new Member-Initiated Task Force to Reconcile Policies Related to Psychologists’ Involvement in National Security Settings, I found my thoughts turning to the School of the Americas, Blackwater and perhaps even more surprisingly, the Patagonian toothfish. Those may seem like a strange threesome, but they share one important thing in common. All have undergone a thorough repackaging and renaming in a marketing effort aimed at obscuring – but not altering – some ugly truth.

The School of the Americas in Fort Benning, Georgia, became infamous for training Latin American soldiers who returned home and engaged in repressive campaigns involving rape, torture and murder of political dissidents. To combat its negative image, the school was renamed the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation, but the nature of its activities remain largely unchanged. During the Iraq War, Blackwater, a private military company supported by hundreds of millions of dollars in US government contracts, gained international notoriety on many counts, including its use of excessive and often deadly force against Iraqi civilians. The company therefore renamed itself – twice – first as Xe Services and then again as Academi, with essentially the same core businesses. As for the Patagonian toothfish, it’s wrong to blame the fish itself. But in an effort to spur sales, merchants renamed it Chilean sea bass (for similar reasons, the slimehead fish is now known as orange roughy instead).

Sadly, the same repackaging and renaming strategy of illusion and deception characterizes the APA’s latest gambit to both protect and disguise the role of psychologists as purveyors of harm. But to fully understand this new ploy – a so-called “task force” to produce a comprehensive document of all APA ethics policies relevant to psychologists in national security settings – it’s helpful to first review some disturbing history.

There is incontrovertible evidence that in the years following the 9/11 attacks, psychologists served as planners, consultants, researchers and overseers to the abusive and torturous interrogations of prisoners in the US “global war on terror.” Multiple reports of wrongdoing emerged, such as one from the International Committee of the Red Cross describing psychological coercion techniques at Guantanamo Bay as “tantamount to torture.” APA members and others responded with outrage and clamor. It was immediately clear that the world’s largest psychological association needed to engage in a careful and transparent examination of whether professional ethics allow psychologists to serve in aggressive operational roles, such as detention and interrogation activities involving national security detainees. Tragically, however, APA’s leadership decided to take a very different path. They chose to rubberstamp the status quo without any meaningful deliberation whatsoever.

Continue reading at:

Posted in Uncategorized. Comments Off on Protecting Psychologists Who Harm: The APA’s Latest Wrong Turn

Cut & Furious: Spain 25% jobless to be sacrificed for euro?

Posted in Uncategorized. Comments Off on Cut & Furious: Spain 25% jobless to be sacrificed for euro?

High School Seniors Told Gay Marriage Is Bestiality At Mandatory School Assembly

From The New Civil Rights Movement:

by David Badash
on April 4, 2012

A Catholic priest who hosted a mandatory assembly told seniors at Minneapolis’ DeLaSalle high school that single parents and children who are adopted are not normal, preached against same-sex marriage, and a Catholic couple who presented with the priest told the students gay marriage was akin to bestiality, all apparently in an effort to influence the seniors — soon to be of legal voting age — to vote for the anti-gay marriage constitutional amendment facing Minnesota, according to a report.

DeLaSalle touts itself as “a diverse community of teachers, learners, alumni, parents and volunteers,” whose “mission is to serve students from Minneapolis and surrounding communities who seek a high-quality, values-based, academic preparation for life,” and to “fulfill this mission, in part, by respecting and affirming our heritage as a Catholic High school in the Lasallian tradition.”

The students, however, to their credit, were not having it.

While the name of the Catholic priest was not disclosed, the Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis, who sent the priest, is headed by the infamous Archbishop John Clayton Nienstedt (image, top,) who in 2010 began an anti-same-sex marriage campaign by producing and mailing to Minnesota residents 400,000 DVDs proclaiming the sins of same-sex marriage. Nienstedt has banned gay prayer services, “refused the Eucharist to students wearing rainbow buttons,” and has publicly banned “open dissension” from his priests on matters related to same-sex marriage.

Continue reading at:

Posted in Uncategorized. Comments Off on High School Seniors Told Gay Marriage Is Bestiality At Mandatory School Assembly

Occupy promises upsurge as activists prepare for ‘summer of discontent’

From The Guardian UK:

As Occupy readies to re-enter the spotlight, the movement faces serious internal debates about its goals – and how to get there

and in New York, Friday 6 April 2012

Zuccotti Park was busy last week. Basking in bright sunshine, construction workers from the nearby Ground Zero building site ate sandwiches on its benches, tourists snapped photos and people in suits strode through on the way to Wall Street.

But the only sign that the small downtown Manhattan square had last year been the centre of a global protest movement that electrified American politics were a trio of police officers who stood watch over the milling lunchtime crowds.

But Occupy Wall Street, whose occupation of Zuccotti inspired hundreds of other Occupy groups across the US, is determined to revive itself after a winter of reduced activities and the often violent police removal of its protest encampments in city centres across America.

Activists and organisers have vowed to carry out a massive upsurge in activities on a broad range of issues in a bid to revitalise a movement whose “We are the 99%” slogan triggered a national debate on income inequality.

Fresh protests and demonstrations have already begun with a major push scheduled for May 1. Supporters are gearing up for an election year marked by Republican and Democratic party conventions in August and September as well as a Nato summit in Chicago in May.

“I’m really looking forward to an incredible summer of discontent where it is like public dissent is the flow of all summer and that’s what the headline is. That people are pissed. People are outraged. People want something new and they’re not interested in the elections,” said Sandy Nurse, a long-time Occupy Wall Street organiser.

Continue reading at:

Posted in Uncategorized. Comments Off on Occupy promises upsurge as activists prepare for ‘summer of discontent’

The Right Flames the Volt

I really try to be ecologically aware.  I’ve always been attracted to smaller cars with good gas mileage because realize that the cost of burning gas for transportation goes far beyond the price I pay at the pump.  I mean we wage wars and murder hundreds of thousands of people for oil while totally trashing out the environment.

All through out the 1970s and 1980s I put up with right wing thugs giving me shit because I drove Japanese cars that I tended to pay less than a thousand dollars for because they already had a hundred and fifty thousand miles on them.

Now I can actually buy a General Motors product made in the USA by American Workers working for an American Company and the neo-Nazi Republicans are trashing out the car and the company that builds it.

What the fuck?

BTW I saw them at the Auto Show and they are technically way cool…

From The New York Times:

Published: April 6, 2012

It was Thursday morning and several dozen owners of the new Chevrolet Volt had gathered at a restaurant overlooking the East River. Across town, the New York International Auto Show was in full swing. The Volt, of course, is the innovative electric car from General Motors, and G.M. was using the occasion of the auto show to meet with Volt owners.

Outside, a row of sporty Volts gleamed in the bright sun. On the market for a little more than a year, the Volt is a different kind of hybrid, containing both a 400-pound battery and a 9.3 gallon gas tank. The battery gets around 40 miles per charge, but “range anxiety” isn’t the problem that it is for owners of a purely electric car. When the Volt’s battery runs out of juice, the car shifts to gasoline. It is really quite ingenious.

Inside, the mood was upbeat. A month earlier, the Volt had been named European Car of the Year. It was coming off its best sales month yet, with some 2,200 cars sold. Its problems with the government — which conducted a severe rollover test that caused a Volt to catch fire — appeared to be over; the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration had given the Volt its highest crash-safety rating.

Between bites of eggs and bacon, the Volt owners gushed about how well the car drove — and how much gasoline they were saving. They were early adopters, of course, willing to pay a high price ($40,000 before a $7,500 tax credit) to get their hands on a new technology. Many of them had become nearly obsessed with avoiding the gas station; for those with short commutes, it could be months between fill-ups.

“When you talk to people about the car,” said Eric Rotbard, a lawyer in White Plains, “the killer moment is when you tell them you are getting 198 miles per gallon.” An owner at another table chimed in, “Is that all you get?” Everyone laughed.

Yet there was also an undercurrent of nervousness at the breakfast. A reporter for Fox News had been prowling the auto show, asking nasty questions about the Volt. For months, the conservative propaganda machine — including Rush Limbaugh, Bill O’Reilly, and Neil Cavuto, the Fox News business editor — had been mocking the Volt, and linking it to President Obama, who has long touted the promise of electric cars. Cavuto, who has called the Volt “roller skates with a plug,” was rumored to be going on the air that very night with yet another Volt hatchet job.

Continue reading at:

Posted in Uncategorized. Comments Off on The Right Flames the Volt