Sunday, December 14, 2014

Who's Watchin' Whom?

Now here's a banner that sends a message... and kudos to all those who, in fearless defiance of whoever might be "watching" them and takin' names, took to the streets yesterday in opposition to the ongoing, mission creeping, shoot first, militarization of the country's police forces. 

I love this photo.

For those of you sold on Maine as "vacationland" or "the way life should be", where you come when the weather's nice, leave the world behind, and live in a time warp fantasy of The Way Life Used to Be, let me clue you in: the nascent police state is alive and well in Vacationland. The local paper informs me of a practice recently adopted in the local public high schools: the cops storm in unannounced (neither teachers nor students are informed in advance) at the request of the local principal (with a self-described penchant for "discipline"), make everyone empty their locker and place all personal items in the hallway, take off their shoes and coats, whereupon the cops let loose the Dogs of Dope upon the school, all to see if anyone is "carrying". And the result of this latest Fourth Amendment (probable cause) infringement? A pack of cigarettes. Well, I know I feel a whole lot safer knowing that one Rockland High student won't get his nicotine fix or subject other students to such wicked temptation. And the kicker? The kids just took it, teachers too. No one, according to the neofascist principal, complained.

This week in Lewiston, students attempted to express their solidarity with the thousands of folks protesting trigger-happy police brutality by displaying a poster in the school with the hashtag Blacklivesmatter and were prohibited from doing so. They were instructed to change the poster so it read #Alllivesmatter, as if recent killings of black young men didn't reflect a blatant police perspective that targeted black lives; as if that wasn't the effing point. The Nation in Denial. If all lives mattered to the police (and to the public at large), none of this would be an issue. The Lewiston Superintendent's move is another example of political correctness stood on its head.

Then there are the results of a recount (of the recount) in Maine's District 25 election for the state house. It's looking like the Maine Secretary of State has some 'splainin' to do, as well as some apoligizin' to the good people of Long Island, Maine. Some votes were twice counted, yes, that's right, and, um, the total turned out to be more folks than are registered to vote on Long Island, ME. Smell like fish to you? And guess who benefitted from these shenanigans? Need I say it, the Republican candidate. You know, the party that's always railing about Voter Fraud? The Republican- majority election committee, so confident were they of victory, insisted on swearing their gal in before the recount results were clear. Long story short, the Dems cry foul, end up calling for second recount, despite the right wing opposition whining, like they always do when folks insist on availing themselves of any recourse to which the law entitles them when something's rotten in Denmark. Seems that 21 measly votes were counted twice; first time in the first packet of ballots, then that 21 got shifted to the last packet, and counted again.  Finale? Dem won by 7 measly votes. Seven.

My first reaction was, Yay, Dems, you finally stood up for something. Which immediately took my mind back to 2000, and Mr. Gore's cave-in to the Bush Supreme Court Junta. Wimp. Hey, Not my circus, not my monkeys. I voted for Ralph. But is there still anyone out there who doesn't think we'd be livin' in a different world today if we'd all taken to the streets with pitchforks after that Judicial Coup d'Etat in 2000 and Just Said NO! "Count every vote!"?

Different world, people. Different world. No Iraq, Kyoto Treaty a done deal, Universal Health Care?
Maybe. Maybe not. But better, for sure.  Better, and that's something.

So next time you brag about not voting, like you're above that or something, or think it doesn't affect you, think about the folks in Long Island, Maine. Seven votes made a difference; and those seven votes could make more of a difference than you imagine.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Someone Needs a Vacay In Florida

Anyone who lives in Maine will know where this guy is comin' from.

Question is, where'd he get the flamethrower?  Is this one of those leftover Eyeraq War weapons the Pentagon is handing out to slowly militarizing local authorities?

(copied from i have no idea where on the internet)

Wow, here he, in fact, is, caught in the act.

He bears a rather strange resemblance to Tom Delay, doncha think?

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Thanksgiving:First One Up

One of the perqs of being the primary cook on Turkey Day is the sweet, secret pleasure of being the first one up in the morning. It's your moment to savor, and you're the alchemist who will make it all happen. You've prepared well, everything you need is piled on counters, spilling out of fridge and cupboard, waiting for your hands to scrub, peel, pare, stuff, slice, chop, saute, sweeten, mash, season, salt and garnish. It's a show, and at this moment the stage is silent, empty, and you have it all to yourself. Have some tea. This morning is a beaut, outside is a picture perfect holiday scene right outta Currier and Ives;  the wailing wind had its way with the trees again, is now howling around our teeny house where thankfully the power is on and the temperature inside cozy. The skylight upstairs is covered with snow, looks to be about 8 inches on the deck outside, at 6 a.m. the world is a lavender blue, and this moment belongs to me alone.

The ineffable delight of being First One Up on holidays I inherited from my dad – by some insidious osmotic process. I've no idea how many Christmases and Thanksgivings I awoke to stumble to the kitchen find Dad concocting. He'd turn that wonderful smile on me, the one that said he was happy, his face a dead ringer for The Cat in the Hat ( that look was one of his many charms); devilishly happy, a guy utterly in his element, he'd be schmoozing the kitchen as he whipped up stuffing, or prepped the bird, or removed it from the oven as reverently as if it was King Tut's sarcophagus, peaking under the buttered cheesecloth as he basted and cooed, mmmmm-ing with self-satisfaction.

There are most certainly moments, well, every year probably, when sometime during the holiday week I find myself mentally (lately verbally, to my shame) bitching and moaning, wishing someone else would do it all, or we could just take a break this year, you know, burgers on the grill maybe? Because it is a production, after all. But then I remember that big productions are my specialty, and the folks I love love that I do it. And it always ends up not just being me anyway that does the work. We have our table decorating specialist, our fire building king, and whatever visiting peelers, parers, bean snappers, spud mashers, and candlestick cleaners may be available on a given year. So, really, it's just a couple days' work in return for which we have the pleasure of quarts of rich turkey stock you can't buy anywhere for love or money and a week's worth of leftovers requiring only a quick stovetop or oven reheat.

As they say in Joisy: NOICE.

The other day I awoke to fourteen wild turkeys wandering the field near the house. As I grabbed the binos to study them more carefully, I realized they look like the Skekzies in The Dark Crystal. Now if only I'd had a gun, and I felt confident about using it, I'd have bagged today's supper on the spot.

Time's marchin on. I better get to it.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

A Devastated Landscape

There's really only one word to describe what transpired both here in  Maine and across the US this month:


Here in my neck of the woods an unexpected storm blew in the Sunday before Election Day– a wild, wheeling mass of Mother Nature's fury that whirled out of nowhere and laid a solid punch in the gut of our wee harbor and the surrounding hills. Weirdly, local "safe" harbors themselves seemed to exacerbate the impact, serving as wind tunnels in effect channelling and intensifying the wind as it reached land.  The surprise foot of wet, heavy snow was supposed to be only three or four inches; coupled with sudden 45 mile an hour winds  the poor snow -laden trees, many still heavy with leaves,  didn't have a chance. The wind grabbed hundred year old oaks and maples by the throat and throttled them til they were no more, casting amputated limbs carelessly aside, through cars, roofs, powerlines and roadways. The small fries suffered as well; first time I've ever seen willows, the "willing to bend" contingent, ripped to shreds. Later on, driving around town (on the few roads not blocked by two foot diameter trees or CMP guys with chain saws trying get a handle on downed wires) was one of those run-off-the-road experiences, so aghast were we at the sheer power of the storm. I've seen hurricane damage, tornado damage, but I've never seen trees twisted like this, throttled to death by wind. It looked so bad, so painful, you actually felt heartbreak for the trees.  Apple trees twisted beyond repair, two foot diameter oaks  ripped in half; even the CMP guys said they'd never seen a storm like it. No power for four days, and No Wood Stove! A cardinal sin in winter Maine. We huddled by a teeny fireplace playing gin by (our one) kerosene lamplight and candles, praying for the power to come back on.

It sucked.

But not as badly as realizing that, due to no power, we'd miss watching the election returns on Tuesday night, an event that, fools though we may be, we look forward to every election season. It's kind of our Super Bowl, having followed the players for months we muster enough faith in our fellow citizens to hope this time it will be different. This time they'll get it.  Anticipating not too bad a pasting, we hied on down to get the NY Times first thing Wednesday morning to find... Again: Devastation. Nationwide. Devastation.

It's not like the Dems deserved to win. They didn't. But how can Americans be so foolish? How can they make such spiteful use of the one weapon they still retain against corporate rule: their vote. Yet, why would the "unaffiliated" or "undecided" (really? really?) vote Democratic when the party can't even explain itself to the working folks who are their true audience?  Knowing the Repugs since Reagan have mastered the art of doublespeak, the Dems carry on trying to argue with Repug nonsense instead of tellin it like it is, in plain language, boldly enough to actually address an uneducated public that has lacked any sense of genuine political perspective for decades.

The most shocking news chez nous was that half of Maine voters voted for that illiterate fool Le Plague to renew his tenancy at Blaine House.  They chose an ignorant bigmouth over a sensible, experienced, plainspoken, intelligent and honest man like Mike Michaud. We suspect the vote margin Le Plague managed to eek out had much to do with Mike coming out in the months prior to Election Day. And that's not only a sad but a scary reflection on Mainers.

TV pundits would have us all believe that voters are fed up with "partisanship",  that Americans want Dems and Repugs to start working together in DC, that the message of the voters to both parties is "knock it off".  Really?  But what if it's not? What if the public is simply being bratty, both those who voted, and most particularly those who did NOT vote in this lowest-turnout-in-decades election. A local Maine newspaper publisher, Alice McFadden sees it this way:

"What is clear is that it's a mandate for more polarization, not less. Governor LePage's style is a
poster-perfect representation of "my way or the highway" and his re-election is a clear declaration
that nearly 50 percent of Maine voters share that sentiment. So while in recent years there's been lots
of talk in Maine and nationwide that what voters really want is for politicians to work together, find
common ground, rise above ideological partisanship, etc., in fact this election in Maine and in most of
 the rest of the country delivers precisely the opposite message."  (The Free Press, Nov 13, p 30)

Alice has hit the nail on the head. And don't get me started on that egomaniac spoiler Eliot Cutler, a man who offered little that was different than Le Plague's agenda of cutting/ privatizing services, including schools, and letting the rich keep their booty at the expense of poorer municipalities. This kind of talk, when much of the country is simply trying to survive, is just a more extreme (need I say un-Christian?) version of the me-me-me-me eighties, and thank you, Mr. Reagan for setting that limbo- low standard.

Morning in America. Sure.

Just look around: Devastation.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

A Whole Actually Bigger Than the Sum of Its Parts

Monsanto’s Dirty Dozen

So, America!  With friends like Monsanto, who needs enemies? (See below for link to original post.)

When you take a moment to reflect on the history of product development at Monsanto, what do you find? Here are twelve products that Monsanto has brought to market. See if you can spot the pattern…


#1 – Saccharin

Did you know Monsanto got started because of an artificial sweetener? John Francisco Queeny founded Monsanto Chemical Works in St. Louis, Missouri with the goal ofproducing saccharin for Coca-Cola. In stark contrast to its sweet beginnings, studies performed during the early 1970s,* including a study by the National Cancer Institute in 1980, showed that saccharin caused cancer in test rats and mice.
After mounting pressure from consumers, the Calorie Control Council, and manufacturers of artificial sweeteners and diet sodas, along with additional studies (several conducted by the sugar and sweetener industry) that reported flaws in the 1970s studies, saccharin was delisted from the NIH’s Carcinogen List. A variety of letters from scientists advised against delisting; the official document includes the following wording to this day: “although it is impossible to absolutely conclude that it poses no threat to human health, sodium saccharin is not reasonably anticipated to be a human carcinogen under conditions of general usage as an artificial sweetener.” (*Read the Chemical Heritage Foundation’s History of Saccharin here.)


#2 – PCBs

During the early 1920s, Monsanto began expanding their chemical production into polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) to produce coolant fluids for electrical transformers, capacitors, and electric motors. Fifty years later, toxicity tests began reporting serious health effects from PCBs in laboratory rats exposed to the chemical.
After another decade of studies, the truth could no longer be contained: the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) published a report citing PCBs as the cause of cancer in animals, with additional evidence that they can cause cancer in humans. Additional peer-reviewed health studies showed a causal link between exposure to PCBs and non-Hodgkin Lymphoma, a frequently fatal form of cancer.
In 1979, the United States Congress recognized PCBs as a significant environmental toxin and persistent organic pollutant, and banned its production in the U.S.  By then Monsanto already had manufacturing plants abroad, so they weren’t entirely stopped until the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants banned PCBs globally in 2001.
And that’s when Monsanto’s duplicity was uncovered: internal company memos from 1956 surfaced, proving that Monsanto had known about dangers of PCBs from early on.
In 2003, Monsanto paid out over $600 million to residents of Anniston, Alabama, who experienced severe health problems including liver disease, neurological disorders and cancer after being exposed to PCBs — more than double the payoff that was awarded in the case against Pacific Gas & Electric made famous by the movie “Erin Brockovich.”
And yet the damage persists: nearly 30 years after PCBs have been banned from the U.S., they are still showing up in the blood of pregnant women, as reported in a 2011 study by the University of California San Francisco; while other studies are indicating a parallel between PCBs and autism.


#3 – Polystyrene

In 1941, Monsanto began focusing on plastics and synthetic polystyrene, which is still widely used in food packaging and ranked 5th in the EPA’s 1980s listing of chemicalswhose production generates the most total hazardous waste.

#4 – Atom bomb and nuclear weapons

Shortly after acquiring Thomas and Hochwalt Laboratories, Monsanto turned this division into their Central Research Department. Between 1943 to 1945, this department coordinated key production efforts of the Manhattan Project—including plutonium purification and production and, as part of the Manhattan Project’s Dayton Project, techniques to refine chemicals used as triggers for atomic weapons (an era of U.S. history that sadly included the deadliest industrial accident).

DDT is good for me old ad

#5 – DDT

In 1944, Monsanto became one of the first manufacturers of the insecticide DDT to combat malaria-transmitting mosquitoes. Despite decades of Monsanto propaganda insisting that DDT was safe, the true effects of DDT’s toxicity were at last confirmed through outside research and in 1972, DDT was banned throughout the U.S.
This chart illustrates how much dioxin an average American consumes per day

#6 – Dioxin

In 1945, Monsanto began promoting the use of chemical pesticides in agriculture with the manufacture of the herbicide 2,4,5-T (one of the precursors to Agent Orange), containing dioxin. Dioxins are a group of chemically-related compounds that since become known as one of the “Dirty Dozen” — persistent environmental pollutants that accumulate in the food chain, mainly in the fatty tissue of animals. In the decades since it was first developed, Monsanto has been accused of covering up or failing to report dioxin contamination in a wide range of its products.
Anh Trang Nhan Hoi Anh Orphanage#7 – Agent Orange
During the early 1960s, Monsanto was one of the two primary manufacturers of Agent Orange, an herbicide / defoliant used for chemical warfare during the Vietnam War. Except Monsanto’s formula had dioxin levels many times higher than the Agent Orange produced by Dow Chemicals, the other manufacturer (which is why Monsanto was the key defendant in the lawsuit brought by Vietnam War veterans in the United States).
(Pictured at left, Anh and Trang Nhan, with their father, when they first arrived at the Hoi An Orphanage; below are the same brothers shortly before Trang’s death. Source: Kianh Foundation Newsletter, Dec. 2011)
Agent orange boys orphanageAs a result of the use of Agent Orange, Vietnam estimates that over 400,000 people were killed or maimed, 500,000 children were born with birth defects, and up to 1 million people were disabled or suffered from health problems—not to mention the far-reaching impact it had on the health of over 3 million American troops and their offspring.
agent-orange-children-at-tudu-hospital-in-ho-chi-minh-cityInternal Monsanto memos show that Monsanto knew of the problems of dioxin contamination of Agent Orange when it sold it to the U.S. government for use in Vietnam. Despite the widespread health impact, Monsanto and Dow were allowed to appeal for and receive financial protection from the U.S. government against veterans seeking compensation for their exposure to Agent Orange.
In 2012, a long 50 years after Agent Orange was deployed, the clean-up effort has finally begun. Yet the legacy of Agent Orange, and successive generations of body deformitieswill remain in orphanages throughout VietNam for decades to come.
(Think that can’t happen here? Two crops were recently genetically engineered to withstand a weedkiller made with one of the major components of Agent Orange, 2,4-D, in order to combat “super weeds” that evolved due to the excessive use of RoundUp.)

8 – Petroleum-Based Fertilizer

In 1955, Monsanto began manufacturing petroleum-based fertilizer after purchasing a major oil refinery. Petroleum-based fertilizers can kill beneficial soil micro-organisms, sterilizing the soil and creating a dependence, like an addiction, to the synthetic replacements. Not the best addiction to have, considering the rising cost and dwindling supply of oil…

#9 – RoundUp

During the early 1970s, Monsanto founded their Agricultural Chemicals division with a focus on herbicides, and one herbicide in particular: RoundUp (glyphosate). Because of its ability to eradicate weeds literally overnight, RoundUp was quickly adopted by farmers. Its use increased even more when Monsanto introduced “RoundUp Ready” (glyphosate-resistant) crops, enabling farmers to saturate the entire field with weedkiller without killing the crops.
While glyphosate has been approved by regulatory bodies worldwide and is widely used,concerns about its effects on humans and the environment persist. RoundUp has been found in samples of groundwater, as well as soil, and even in streams and air throughout the Midwest U.S., and increasingly in food. It has been linked to butterfly mortality, and the proliferation of superweeds. Studies in rats have shown consistently negative health impacts ranging from tumors, altered organ function, and infertility, to cancer and premature death; click here to find countless study references to support these statements.

#10 – Aspartame (NutraSweet / Equal)

An accidental discovery during research on gastrointestinal hormones resulted in a uniquely sweet chemical: aspartame. During the clinical trials conducted on 7 infant monkeys as part of aspartame’s application for FDA approval, 1 monkey died and 5 other monkeys had grand mal seizures—yet somehow aspartame was still approved by the FDA in 1974. In 1985, Monsanto acquired the company responsible for aspartame’s manufacture (G.D. Searle) and began marketing the product as NutraSweet. Twenty years later, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services released a report listing 94 health issues caused by aspartame. (Watch a quick video here.)
rbgh cows

#11 – Bovine Growth Hormone (rBGH)

This genetically modified hormone was developed by Monsanto to be injected into dairy cows to produce more milk. Cows subjected to rBGH suffer excruciating pain due to swollen udders and mastitis, and the pus from the resulting infection enters the milk supplyrequiring the use of additional antibiotics. rBGH milk has been linked to breast cancer,colon cancer, and prostate cancer in humans.

#12 – Genetically Modified Crops / GMOs

In the early 1990s, Monsanto began gene-splicing corn, cotton, soy, and canola with DNA from viruses and bacteria in order to achieve one of two traits: an internally-generated pesticide (the corn or soy causes the insect’s stomach to rupture if they eat it), or an internal resistance to Monsanto’s weedkiller RoundUp (enabling farmers to drench their field with RoundUp to kill ever-stronger weeds).
Despite decades of promises that genetically engineered crops would “feed the world” with “more nutrients,” drought resistance, or yield, the majority of Monsanto’s profits are from seeds that are engineered to tolerate Monsanto’s RoundUp—providing them with an ever-increasing, dual income stream as weeds continue to evolve resistance to RoundUp.
Most sobering however, is that the world is once again buying into Monsanto’s “safe” claims.
Just like the early days of PCBs, DDT, Agent Orange, Monsanto has successfully fooled the general public and regulatory agencies into believing that RoundUp, and the genetically modified crops that help sell RoundUp, are “safe.” Despite the fact that NO human testing has ever been done on GMO crops!
Meanwhile, Monsanto has learned a thing or two in the past 100+ years of defending its dirty products: these days, when a new study shows the negative health or environmental impacts of GMOs, Monsanto attacks the study and its scientist(s) by flooding the media with counter claims from “independent” organizations, scientists, industry associations, blogs, sponsored social media, and articles by “private” public relations firms—all endorsed, founded, funded or maintained by Monsanto.
Unfortunately, few of us take the time to trace the members, founders, and relationships of these seemingly valid sources back to their little Monsanto secret. (Read more on this page.)
Fooling the FDA required a slightly different approach: click on the below chart compiled by Millions Against Monsanto to see how many former Monsanto VPs and legal counsel are now holding positions with the FDA. And don’t forget Clarence Thomas, former Monsanto attorney who is now a Supreme Court Justice, ruling in favor of Monsanto in every case brought before him.
Monsanto FDA

A Baker’s Dozen: #13 – Terminator Seeds

In the late 1990s, Monsanto developed the technology to produce sterile grains unable to germinate. The goal of these “Terminator Seeds” was to force farmers to buy new seeds from Monsanto year after year, rather than save and reuse the seeds from their harvest as they’ve been doing throughout centuries.
Fortunately this technology never came to market. Instead, Monsanto managed to accomplish the same thing by requiring farmers to sign a binding contract agreeing that they will not save or sell seeds from year to year, which forces them to buy new seeds and preempts the need for a “terminator gene.” Lucky for us… since the terminator seeds were capable of cross-pollination and could have contaminated local non-sterile crops.
What’s the Result of our Monsanto Legacy?
Between 75% to 80% of the processed food you consume every day has GMOs inside, and residues of Monsanto’s RoundUp herbicide outside. But it’s not just processed food—fresh fruit and vegetables are next: genetically engineered sweet corn is already being sold at your local grocer, with apples and a host of other “natural” produce currently in field trials.
How is it that Monsanto is allowed to manipulate our food after such a dark product history? How is it they are allowed to cause such detrimental impact to our environment and our health?
According to the Organic Consumers Association, “There is a direct correlation between our genetically engineered food supply and the $2 trillion the U.S. spends annually on medical care, namely an epidemic of diet-related chronic diseases.
Instead of healthy fruits, vegetables, grains, and grass-fed animal products, U.S. factory farms and food processors produce a glut of genetically engineered junk foods that generate heart disease, stroke, diabetes and cancer—backed by farm subsidies—while organic farmers receive no such subsidies.
Monsanto’s history reflects a consistent pattern of toxic chemicals, lawsuits, and manipulated science. Is this the kind of company we want controlling our world’s food supply?
P.S. Monsanto’s not alone. Other companies in the “Big Six” include Pioneer Hi-Bred International (a subsidiary of DuPont), Syngenta AGDow Agrosciences (a subsidiary of Dow Chemical, BASF (which is primarily a chemical company that is rapidly expanding their biotechnology division), and Bayer Cropscience (a subsidiary of Bayer). The maintains a complete list of companies doing genetic engineering.
(End of original post)

Shocking, isn't it?  You read this and realize how powerful and ubiquitous this company really is, and has been and will be unless WE make different choices. But they appear to have the country by the short hairs, non?  Well, Non. Read labels, make informed choices, tell your take out place you won't buy from them if they don't switch to biodegradable packaging, same with coffee cups, no stryofoam or you lose my bidness. Get together with friends, make a list of choices you can all make that don't support this madness, write the company and let them know you're doing that, tell vendors you buy from to do that.  It's a start.

Every journey starts with a step.   Bon voyage.

above Monsanto article From a posting on, click on following date to see original post