More than you want to know about asteroids

News abstracts: by Wm Olkowski, PhD, republished 9.19.11

NASA’s Wise Raises Doubt About Asteroid Family Believed Responsible for Dinosaur Extinction

WASHINGTON — Observations from NASA’s Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE) mission indicate the family of asteroids some believed was responsible for the demise of the dinosaurs is not likely the culprit, keeping the case open on one of Earth’s greatest mysteries.

While scientists are confident a large asteroid crashed into Earth approximately 65 million years ago, leading to the extinction of dinosaurs and some other lifeforms on our planet, they do not know exactly where the asteroid came from or how it made its way to Earth. A 2007 study using visible-light data from ground-based telescopes first suggested the remnant of a huge asteroid, known as Baptistina, as a possible suspect.

According to that theory, Baptistina crashed into another asteroid in the main belt between Mars and Jupiter about 160 million years ago. The collision sent shattered pieces as big as mountains flying. One of those pieces was believed to have impacted Earth, causing the dinosaurs’ extinction.

Since this scenario was first proposed, evidence developed that the so-called Baptistina family of asteroids was not the responsible party. With the new infrared observations from WISE, astronomers say Baptistina may finally be ruled out.

“As a result of the WISE science team’s investigation, the demise of the dinosaurs remains in the cold case files,” said Lindley Johnson, program executive for the Near Earth Object (NEO) Observation Program at NASA Headquarters in Washington. “The original calculations with visible light estimated the size and reflectivity of the Baptistina family members, leading to estimates of their age, but we now know those estimates were off. With infrared light, WISE was able to get a more accurate estimate, which throws the timing of the Baptistina theory into question.”

WISE surveyed the entire celestial sky twice in infrared light from January 2010 to February 2011. The asteroid-hunting portion of the mission, called NEOWISE, used the data to catalogue more than 157,000 asteroids in the main belt and discovered more than 33,000 new ones.




News Abstracts

By Wm Olkowski, PhD, republished from 10.19.12

From NSF site

The Oceans are threatened just when we need the protein sources to feed an increasing population.  Where will all the food come from?

Taking the Pulse of Marine Life in Stressed Seas

October 6, 2011

The Earth currently has more than 400 so-called “dead zones”–huge expanses of deep ocean that, because of human activities, become too oxygen-starved during the summer to support most life.

The total global count of dead zones–some of which cover tens of thousands of square miles–is doubling every decade. But even as encroaching dead zones, pollution and other human-caused stressors damage the oceans, more than one billion people worldwide rely on seafood as their primary source of animal protein, and more than 540 million people, or 8 percent of the world’s population, earn their living directly or indirectly from the fishing industry, according to the United Nations.


From Pew Foundation – about Antibiotic Resistance

In human health care, antibiotic use is generally confined to the treatment of illness. In contrast, antibiotics often are used on industrial farms not only to treat sick animals but also to offset crowding and poor sanitation, as well as to spur animal growth. In fact, up to 70 percent of all antibiotics sold in the U.S. are given to healthy food animals.6

More reason to eat organic:

More than 25 million pounds of antibiotics a year are used as a non-therapeutic treatment to artificially speed up the growth of food animals and to compensate for the effects of unsanitary conditions on the farm.8This makes the U.S. one of the biggest users of antibiotics in food animal production in the world.9 Most of the antibiotics used on farms in the U.S. are obtained and used without the consultation of a veterinarian. The lack of oversight, coupled with the magnitude of administration of antibiotics for non-therapeutic purposes, has potentially serious consequences for human health.

Laura Rogers
Project Director
Pew Campaign on Human Health and Industrial Farming
The Pew Charitable Trusts
Tel: (202) 552-2018

Media Contacts

Josh Wenderoff
Senior Officer, Communications
Pew Campaign on Human Health and Industrial Farming
The Pew Charitable Trusts
Tel: (202) 540-6542



An abstract follows from recent note by Compassion and Choices, a nonprofit devoted to gaining end of life help from the medical profession via legislation for self selected euthanasia:

Along with a pitch for funds comes news that Washington State Death with Dignity passed in 2008, was upheld by the state Supreme court.  And a new change in Montana allows physician assisted end of life treatments.  These are changes supported and instigated by this organization.

Watching Helga’s mom die of Altzeiheimer’s disease convinced us that we need help at the last stages to die peacefully.  The extent of the current zeitgeist against help for the last stages is surprising.  Right wing idiots must never have to die and suffer at the end? Why would anybody be against this help?  Oregon was the first state to have such legislation.  Dying slowly tubed up in the ICU is what the hospitals want.  And there are cases where the patients wishes which were written down in an End of Life document were not followed resulting in further pain and suffering when it could have been averted.   One must talk with your doctor about your wishes as well as have an Advanced Directive specifying what you want and don’t want in the last stages.  Those who have this written document and talked with their doctor about their wishes, live longer and happier lives, and get the help they need.

Wall Street Demo and words and words by Obama and Hilary.  And watch while NY police beat and manhandle demonstrators in a country that professes free demonstrations.  Bull shit.

The best way to get a sense of yesterday’s massive rally is to hear from those who were there, the 99%: unemployed, students, veterans, union members, and even one corporate lawyer.

Check out this firsthand video.

The Big Secret About Who Is Actually Marching On Wall Street

An Open Letter to Governor Brown

By Wm Olkowski, PhD, republished from 10.24.11

Dear Governor Brown,

Re: Pest Control and Pesticide Use

I thought of writing you to reacquaint about a project your previous administration funded for our nonprofit the BioIntegral Resource Center (BIRC) to help implement an IPM program for the Department of Water Resources.  Huey Johnson and his staff at the time was our principle contact.  The project was moderately successful but only time will tell as innovations have a habit of reverting after the lights have gone.  I have not checked back on progress once our funding ceased after 4 years.  But now that you are again in the driver’s seat it might be good to reexamine the situation.  I will summarize below the projects objectives and accomplishments along with some observations that might be of use to you and your administration now.  I am now retired so am no longer in the IPM action.

We submitted long reports each year at year-end.  Basically we were working to develop alternatives to various practices as we learned more about DWR’s activities.

When we started the staff told us that ground squirrels were the biggest problem as they were the principle cause of levee breaks.  But as we learned more it seems that regular burning of the levees, ostensibly to monitor for possible excavations by the squirrels so as to see their holes, the burning made things worse.  Also the anticoagulant used were also damaging to bird predators.  Burning removes vegetation, which helps predators of the squirrels to get close to their colonies.  Burning also kills one of the major predators because it was done in June when the marsh hawk has its young in nests on the ground (on the levees hidden in vegetation).  We explored ways to establish vegetation that did not need burning and methods to monitor for ground squirrels burrow that were not destructive of levee vegetation.  Monitoring could be done via airplane aerial surveys as they look directly down from above into the vegetation and soil.  It would be cheaper than the current patrols then in use.

We also established low growing dense planted in special vulnerable areas, which appeared to successfully keep ground squirrels from establishing dense colonies.  This seemed successful and we published our observations in the IPM Practitioner, our principle publication at that time.

We also explored ways to reduce the use of herbicides on roadways applied to the levees in CA – I remember a figure of 30,000 miles for the state.  Most of these roadways were treated at that time.  We started our studies on the Sacramento City levees, by ceasing the applications of herbicides on a 1-mile stretch.  The first season no weeds emerged, nor did any emerge the second season.  With this observation alone we had reason to think that herbicide applications on dirt roadways could be cut by two-thirds, easily saving the cost of our contract.  And the 3rd year we only saw occasional clumps of weeds, which could be spot-treated.  Our estimate was easily 95% herbicide reduction.

I am sure you could get some clarity on the existing situation by just examining the herbicide and ground squirrel poison use.  We were pioneering at that time so I expect many of our efforts were not institutionalized, which was always our final objective.  I would be willing to communicate further about this project and any similar situation you can identify.  I am sort of trapped in Santa Barbara caring for my wife who is recovering from a stroke so I cannot go north if you would want to discuss this further.

We also did some good work on processing tomato farms in the Sacramento Valley.  We showed how to reduce the unnecessary pesticide use on the fall late season crop for the tomato aphid.  After 5 years of work we had a good demonstration that it was possible to greatly reduce pesticide use.  However, I made a great discovery regarding our approach to implementing IPM programs.  Yes one can introduce a new idea and even demonstrate its effectiveness but getting the important players together to cooperate and innovate is another story as I am sure you could agree.  But I have one observation and idea that might be of use today.  This concerns developing a publically available database on pesticide use in California, which could be a feather in your cap.

Let me elaborate.  All the fields in the Sacramento Valley are treated regularly and many times with all sorts of “cides”, which most people do not know about and probably do not know the full consequences.  My proposal is to make the existing pesticide use database one that can be accessed by individual field, farmer and pesticide.  It could be entered by a map location.  Pesticide use figures are already collected but not by specific fields where they are applied.  At least this information could be made public via a publically maintained database.  This could be added to the existing cide monitoring process at just the cost of website design.

Justification for such a website is to acquaint the public with the precise cide uses.  The farmer could pay the pest control companies he/she relies on to make applications.  Or the state could require pest control operators to make such reports with pain of finds and loss of license.  A hand held device to input data from the field would provide real time info.

One thing I learned is that many farmers are sensitive about cide use on their lands.  This could be the driving force to help implement IPM programs on all the farms of the state and all applications in urban areas.

With this sort of information priority efforts can be organized to provide alternatives.  University and others could be contracted to provide the necessary research, where the highest and most dangerous cides are used.

Thank you for your efforts in the past and currently to serve the people of the state.  I met you causally one time at Tassajara.  You did some important innovations back then.  Maybe these ideas can help again.

For the Booster Shots blog

By Marissa Cevallos, HealthKey

Republished from July 13, 2011, 3:39 p.m.

Drinking six to eight glasses of water each day is healthful, most health experts agree. But apparently not everyone is on the same page.

A general practitioner from Scotland says that health advice is “thoroughly debunked nonsense” and is propagated by bottled water companies out to make a profit.


  • Coconut water: A health drink that’s all it’s cracked up to be?
  • Experts defend bashed potato
  • Genetically modified food labels don’t sit well in U.S.
  • Nearly 70,000 Americans die needlessly each year because they are not given optimal heart failure therapy

In a commentary published online in the British Medical Journal, Margaret McCartney quotes experts that say drinking too much water can cause hyponatremia (low sodium levels in the blood) and expose people to pollutants. And the public health push makes people feel guilty for not drinking enough.

Experts were quick to pounce on the commentary as being misleading. The article hadn’t been peer-reviewed, pointed out Thomas Sanders, a professor of nutrition and dietetics from King’s College London. Sanders wrote in a reply on the BMJ website:

“Appropriate hydration is particularly important for the elderly and the very young and for most people it is better to obtain most fluid intake from water, whether bottled or tap water, than from other beverages (especially sugar containing and alcoholic beverages). … MacCartney [sic] focused on the more whacky claims made for water and appeared to cherry pick her references to make a story.”

While the headlines duke it out, it’s worth offering a refresher—how much water do we need every day?

The answer isn’t cut and dry, says an article by the Mayo Clinic, and depends on your exercise level, health conditions and the heat and humidity of your environment. In general, the Institute of Medicine recommends about nine cups of beverages for women and 13 cups for men.

The Mayo Clinic offers another way to assess if you’re getting enough H2O:

“If you drink enough fluid so that you rarely feel thirsty and produce 1.5 liters (6.3 cups) or more of colorless or slightly yellow urine a day, your fluid intake is probably adequate.”

The issue of too much water surfaces among athletes, especially marathon runners. Hyponatremia is a real concern when replacing the water lost during sweating—too much water, and the salt imbalance in the body can cause cells to swell with water, which is particularly dangerous for brain cells. Hyponatremia symptoms include confusion, nausea and convulsions, according to MedlinePlus. It can also occur in the elderly and hospitalized patients. Some 3.2 to 6.1 million patients get hyponatremia each year, and the condition is associated with congestive heart failure and cancer.

To avoid the condition, this MedlinePlus article says:

“If you play any demanding sports, drink fluids that contain electrolytes (“sports drinks”). Drinking only water while you take part in high-energy athletic events can lead to acute hyponatremia.”

And water chugging competitions can be deadly too. One woman who drank 6 liters of water in three hours for a radio show died from hyponatremia.

Most people do well to drink when they’re thirsty.

Book Review: The Atheist Manifesto

The Case against Christianity, Judaism, and Islam, 2005, 2011, by Michel Onfray, translated French by Jeremy Leggatt. Arcade Publishing, N.Y. 246 pp.

By William Olkowski, Ph. D. -11/2012.

Wow, what a blast against religious thinking by a detailed examination of the history and writings of the Big Three monotheistic western religions: Judaism, Islam and Christianity.  Lest you forget, by the way, these three are still locked in their thousands-of-years fight for the human belief system.  We in the US even elected a theocrat, G. W. Bush whom we will be recovering from for decades, if ever.  Onfray clears away these centuries of indoctrination using the written records that survived the terror campaigns and book burnings promulgated to keep the religions pure.  Starting with the quote by Nietzsche (see below) the salvos by Onfray penetrate the fog created by these anti-life religious systems of Judaism, and its derivatives, Islam, and Christianity.  The quote below encapsulates Onfray’s blast using the written records mostly produced by those who gave their lives to expose these belief insanities including many “lapsed” theologians and priests who suffered death by torture.

“The concept of ‘God’ invented as a counter-concept of life – everything harmful, poisonous, slanderous, the whole hostility unto death against life synthesized in this concept in a gruesome unity!  The concept of the ‘beyond,’ the ‘true world’ invented in order to devaluate the only world there is – in order to retain no goal, no reason, and no task for our earthly reality!  The concept of the ‘soul’, the ‘spirit’ finally even ‘immortal soul,’ invented in order to despise the body, to make it sick – ‘holy’, to oppose with a ghastly levity everything that deserves to be taken seriously in life, the abode, the questions of nourishment, spiritual diet, treatment of the sick, cleanliness, and weather!  In place of health, the ‘salvation of the soul’ – that is a folie circulaire [manic-depressive insanity] between penitential convulsions and hysteria about redemption! The concept of ‘sin’ invented along with the torture instrument that belongs with it, the concept of ‘free will,’ in order to confuse the instinct, to make mistrust of the instincts second nature!”

— Nietzsche, Ecco Homo

I never knew Nietzsche was so clear headed as I always associated his beliefs with Nazism.  But the better association is with the Catholic Church as Onfray shows with his brief history of the collusion of Hitler with Pope Pius XII (fully documented in the bibliography).  And Onfray points out that the collusion continues with the churches unwillingness to acknowledge the error implicit in the Vatican’s support for Nazism.  Did you ever wonder why Hitler hated the Jews so much?  Well Hitler was a Christian, probably a catholic too.  Rather than follow the 6th commandment, though shall not kill, he elevated it to a catechism never to be forgotten.  And even though the Romans killed their hero, Jesus, the Christian mythology says it was the Jews who did it.  And that bubble is not the only one burst by this important book.

Onfray pulls no punches compared to Alfred Russell’s rather logical and gentle objections in “Why I am not a Christian”, for example.

Here’s another quote – this time from Onfray (p.125):

Mark, Matthew, Luke, and John did not knowingly deceive.  Neither did Paul.  They were deceived, for they said that what they believed was true and believed that what they said was true.  None of them had encountered Jesus physically, but all credited this fiction with a real existence, in no way symbolic or metaphorical.  Clearly they believed what they wrote.  Intellectual self-intoxication, ontological blindness.  All of them credited a fiction with reality.  By believing in the fable they told, they infused it with more and more substance, Proof of the existence of a truth is often reducible to the sum of errors repeated until they become received truth.

Does this ring true for modern times?  Consider the whole fiasco about Weapons of Mass Destruction, which justified G. W. Bush invading Iraq; our most wasteful, costly and longest war to date.  Repeating untruths enough times makes it true.  This is an example of performance utterances; a class of statements that perform an action rather then describe or report on it.

In the section (p. 83) summarizing religious hatred of science he points out the fallacy of believing that one book has all anyone ever needs to live the good life

Monotheism does not really like the rational work of scientists.  Clearly Islam embraces astronomy, algebra, mathematics, geometry, optics, but only to calculate the direction of Mecca more accurately by means of the stars, to establish religious calendars, to decree prayer hours.  Clearly Islam values geography, but only to facilitate the convergence on the Kaaba when pilgrims from all over the world flock to Mecca.  Clearly it prizes medicine, but only to avoid the impurity that mars one’s relation with Allah.  Clearly it esteems grammar, philosophy, and law, but only to enrich commentary on the Koran and the Hadith.  This religious instrumentalization of science subjects’ reason to domestic and theocratic uses.

These religions never learned from the Enlightenment.  They turned their back on learning preferring “mental night for the nurturing of their fables”.

My fear is that this religious filter can dominate our cultural future.

An example may help: My gift of a painting to my mother before she died explains many things about religious belief: I asked her if she liked the painting (of what I thought was a good representation of one of the beautiful desert scenes we were traveling in.  Here is what she said:

“Isn’t God wonderful (for creating such a beautiful place).  From the get go her and me were on opposite sides of this fence.  But this is the take home message: she never saw the painting.  She only saw God.  That’s a classic result of religious indoctrination: an obliteration of perception with an illusion.  Oh well, “she went to her reward”, but did live a good life.

More Hatred

Among the hatreds fostered by the Big Three (and many other illusory belief systems) is hatred of women, of sex, and pleasure.  I remember a critical experience I had to endure upon entering and leaving our Polish Catholic Church in Lyndhurst, New Jersey.  Leaving was most difficult because we had to pass by a full-scale replica of Jesus dying (or more accurately dead) on the cross.  Gads, such a picture of the hero of our belief system.  Surely this speaks volumes about the goal of life – to give oneself up to torture.  Don’t worry there’s a reward for your avoidance of sin (an impossible activity, by-the-way); there’s a better life ahead after this life.  Of course the original sin is Knowledge, and this sin was derived from Eve who gave the apple to Adam and caused the expulsion by a crazy god.  So sin and woman are a big problem for these male dominated religions.

Onfray cites the daily prayer of Jewish men: “Praised be God that he has not created me a woman (from Talmud, Menahot 43b).  The Koran is similar: God prefers men to women (4:34), e.g., the prohibition on exposing the hair out of doors, use of the veil, or exposing bare arms and legs, no sexuality outside legitimate relatives with a member of the community, who may himself possess several spouses, prohibition of polyandry for women, and praise of chastity, prohibition on marrying a non Muslim, probation on wearing men’s clothing, no mingling of the sexes at the mosque, no question of shaking hands with a man unless wearing gloves, marriage mandatory with no tolerance for celibacy even in the name of religion, passion and love advised against in marriage, only celebrated in the interest of family, tribe and community, recommendation that the wife submit to all the sexual desire of the husband, who “plow his wife whenever likes, for she is his tillage – the metaphoric is Koranic, permission to beat one’s spouse on mere suspicion, the same ease of repudiation, the same existential minor status, the same legal inferiority, a woman’s courtroom testimony worth half that of a man, while a barren woman, a woman deflowered before marriage posses exactly the same value; none at all.

More Hatreds

And then there is praise of castration.  And there is more anti-pleasure to contemplate.  Jews for example, have to submit to circumcision, which certainly reduces the nervous sensation of the penis.  So do Muslims (but note that Muhammad was born circumcised!).  The legal definition of mutilation is an act of removing a healthy part of a non-consenting child on nonmedical grounds.  60% of Americans are circumcised, 20% Canadians, 15% Australians are circumcised – but on medical grounds

And then there are the commensurate tortures of females; Three types: 1) “gentle sunna” which means tradition or way of the Prophet – removal of the head of the clitoris, 2) moderate sunna, or clitoridectomy, or removal of the clitoris and all or parts of the labia minor, and 3) infibulation, or total removal of the clitoris, labia minor, and labia majora, followed by sewing together of the remaining tissue, often with thorns, leaving a matchstick caliber opening for urination and menstruation.  All of these mutilations are done without anesthesia, and constitute means to establishing community membership and identity, and preventing erotic inclinations from eroding energy better employed in celebration of God by sapping lust and facilitating mastery of desire.  By carving into the flesh it supports a hatred of desire, libido and life in the very place where life originates, thus supporting a victory of the death-fixated passions at the very spot where the life force is located.  This is a way to turn the life force against itself “for our own good”. “With the advent of Christianity the death fixation was ready to poison the whole planet”.

Concluding Remarks

Lest you think this whole book is full of such revelatory expulsions read the book for it also lays out the idea of Atheism as much more than rejection of religion.  It affirms reason and recommends fighting such silly, stupid, and dangerous beliefs from thousands of years ago.  There is no index but the last section is a detailed bibliography showing how deep the atheistic sources are even given the relentless terror campaigns, book burnings and lists of banned books, and deaths of critical scholars over the centuries.  The section on religious opposition to democracy should be mandatory reading instead of intelligent design.  How about that for a campaign: teaching the real history of religious persecution, but it’s not science.

Collapse, How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed

by Jared Diamond

575 pp.  Penguin Books. .2005.

Review by William Olkowski, Ph.D.

“A blueprint for disaster in any society is when the elite are capable of insulating themselves.”
– Jared Diamond, interviewed in “National Review”

This critically important book raises key issues about how societies choose to fail, or meet challenges.  Many will be shocked, as these cases are particularly relevant to the US today.  Failed leadership is one of the key factors in most collapses analyzed by Diamond.  It’s easier to look back and point out how the leadership may even have seen the collapse coming, but could not avert it.  Some countries or “civilizations” did avoid it.  Tokugawa Japan (1603-1867) did but it was a dictatorship.  Can a democracy avoid it?  Can our democracy avoid it?  Japan (and Germany) even recovered from their disastrous military dominance.  Can we?  Washington said it as a parting statement: avoid foreign entanglements.  We have not listened to one of our great founding fathers.  Hear him again in his farewell address:

(From Wikipedia):

Washington’s public political address warned against foreign influence in domestic affairs and American meddling in European affairs. He warned against bitter partisanship in domestic politics and called for men to move beyond partisanship and serve the common good. He warned against “permanent alliances with any portion of the foreign world”,[117] saying the United States must concentrate primarily on American interests. He counseled friendship and commerce with all nations, but warned against involvement in European wars and entering into long-term “entangling” alliances. The address quickly set American values regarding foreign affairs.[118]

More from Wikipedia’s review of Diamonds Book:

Diamond identifies five factors that contribute to collapse: climate change, hostile neighbors, collapse of essential trading partners, environmental problems, and failure to adapt to environmental issues.

He also lists 12 environmental problems facing mankind today. The first eight have historically contributed to the collapse of past societies:

1.   Deforestation and habitat destruction

2.   Soil problems (erosionsalinization, and soil fertility losses)

3.   Water management problems

4.   Overhunting

5.   Overfishing

6.   Effects of introduced species on native species

7.   Overpopulation

8.   Increased per-capita impact of people

Further, he says four new factors may contribute to the weakening and collapse of present and future societies:

1.   Anthropogenic climate change

2.   Buildup of toxins in the environment

3.   Energy shortages

4.   Full human utilization of the Earth’s photosynthetic capacity

Diamond also writes about cultural factors, such as the apparent reluctance of the Greenland Norse to eat fish.

Diamond says Easter Island provides the best historical example of a societal collapse in isolation

The root problem in all but one of Diamond’s factors leading to collapse is overpopulation relative to the practicable (as opposed to the ideal theoretical) carrying capacity of the environment. The one factor not related to overpopulation is the harmful effect of accidentally or intentionally introducing nonnative species to a region.

Diamond also states that “it would be absurd to claim that environmental damage must be a major factor in all collapses: the collapse of the Soviet Union is a modern counter-example, and the destruction of Carthage by Rome in 146 BC is an ancient one. It’s obviously true that military or economic factors alone may suffice” (p. 15).

End insert

There are many in the US that sense the impending disarray caused by our miserable environmental history, notwithstanding the conservation and environmental movement.  Our recent leadership, for example, continues to avoid overpopulation as a relevant issue.  Zero population growth as a goal is nonexistent in current affairs as is the religious indoctrination forbidding abortion on demand and family planning funds for foreign aid.  Overpopulation is a key aspect that is at the base of the problems faced by old, and now our civilization.  There are already too many people in the world and some stupid people are saying its ok, we can support twice as many as now.  We are now at 7 billion with no end in sight unless one puts on rosy ideological glasses.

Wikipedia’s review does the book justice but my take is that we in the US are in a state of decline more akin to the collapse of the Roman Empire.  Jared does not refer to the Roman Empire’s collapse, or the earlier Greek nor Egyptian collapses.  I wonder why as his views could be of consequence.

We have the largest military in the world by far, just like Rome (Western Roman Empire fell in 476) was dominant before its conversion to Christianity.  [Constantine I (sole ruler 324–337) became the first Christian emperor, and in 380 Theodosius I established Christianity as the official religion.

By the 5th century Christian hegemony had rapidly changed the Empire’s identity even as the Western provinces collapsed.[40]Those who practiced the traditional polytheistic religions were persecuted, as were Christians regarded as heretics by the authorities in power. Ex. Wikipedia]

We, like Rome, are in the midst of a religious ferment, but ours could destroy our democracy.  The Roman emperor converted to Christianity and then proceeded to terrorize the pagans just like he terrorized the Christians prior to conversion.  OK, a dictatorship can revolve on a personality, but the same can be said for a democracy when the elites are isolated behind their gated communities and don’t see the homeless and poor without work and without medical care.  And they don’t appreciate that sickness is contagious.  Providing universal health care is in their self-interest, but they don’t see it.

The super wealthy are the equivalent to a dictatorial personality.  They don’t care what happens just as long as they get their due.  There are exceptions, yes, but with domination of money in elections and lobbying by our “personhood” corporations who can’t go to jail or be sentenced to death for their atrocities we are in trouble.  And the religious right even elected a president who proceeded to create a Crusade as if the world was back in biblical times.  Gads!  We will be harvesting his returns for decades to come, if we survive the Christianity planned for the US.  To avoid this we need to be especially vigilant in separating church and state.  And then there are the military domination of politics, terrorism, overpopulation and exploitation of the life support systems.

Diamond should be proud of his work as it may prove to be pivotal in our future if we wake up from the capitalist created consumer society.

External links

Diamond’s page at the UCLA Department of Geography

UCLA Spotlight – Jared Diamond

Edge – Jared Diamond

Lectures and talks

Why societies collapse at TED, 2003

Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed at The Earth Institute at Columbia University, April 2007

The Evolution of Religions at the Center for Religion and Civic Culture, University of Southern California

PBS – Guns, Germs and Steel (with full transcripts)


Hammer Conversation with Jared Diamond and John Long, March 16 2010

Interview with Charlie Rose

Interview with New Books in History



Fixing the US: A Reasonable Secular Radical Human Plan to Redirect our goals and values.  And a real tea party and a new rights of man declaration.

By William Olkowski, republished from 11/26/11

These words were Queen Marie Antoinette’s response when asked what the poor in will eat.  This occurred just prior to the French revolution.  I wonder what she said just before they cut off her head.  I bring this up for our analogous elites with their multimillion dollar incomes and palaces spread out over the landscapes of the world.  Will America wake up to the dreadful truth about our so called democracy? Breakdown of our economic system, will lead to horrible consequences and the signs are all over the place, especially in funding for our vastly unequal tax system, wasteful military, biased medical industry, and our excessive bloated lifestyles in the face of worldwide starvation and suffering.  Real patriotism means reestablishment of personal liberty not converting the government to a religious indoctrination system.  We should be measured as a society by what we do that is compassionate rather than blab about how great we are as a military and business power.

Population, energy, military, religion, congress, environment, climate change and voting are intertwined and in drastic need of new goals based on humanistic values and universal rights.  What values are you willing to compromise on, otherwise it’s an horrible death from environmental and economic collapse.  Unless we attain zero population growth and even reduce our population through benign policies the inevitable consequence is default population control through disease, warfare or large scale starvation.  It can’t happen here?  Think again.  The way forward is to change our direction from a squabbling rich and poor society loaded with inequalities and poor environment practices to a sustainable just society by establishing a more equitable income range, eliminate poverty and homelessness, separate church and state, and establish a reasonable short and long term response to climate change and potential collapse of our life support systems.

Among a long series of changes and repairs needed to redirect the US toward ideals of sustainability and increased social justice are those listed below.  This project was stimulated by ideas circulated by Warren Buffet, mostly about how congress should be changed.  I have added to his list from a wide variety of sources, listed below where known.  This is only a draft as I hope by listing a starting group of needed changes many more can be identified which could form the core of a movement I call Fixing the US Government (FUSG).

“Its better to light a candle then curse the darkness.” Right?

Please email me (at with your ideas and we will build a Fix the US Movement. . All contributions will be acknowledged.

1.    Congress, Voting Systems and Participation in Government:

No tenure, no pension, no outside income while in office.  This also applies for all elected governmental positions from city to federal systems.  A congressman/woman collects a salary (congress – $175,000 per year) and receives no other pay when they’re voted out of office.  No elected official should receive income from another business, group, organization nor individual while in office.  Personal investments must be placed in a trust while serving the public.  Congress (past, present & future) participates in Social Security.

All funds in the Congressional retirement fund move to the Social Security system immediately. All future funds flow into the Social Security system (SSS), and Congress participates with the American people. The funds in the SSS can not be used for any other purpose. Congress can purchase their own retirement plan, just as all Americans do. Congress will no longer vote themselves a pay raise. Congressional pay will rise by the lower of CPI or 3% and be subject to publically voted referendum. Congress loses their current health care system and participates in the same health care system as the American people. Congress must equally abide by all laws they impose on the American people.

No congressman/woman or senator can serve on any committee that even remotely is under consideration for legislation that will effect their personal income. No congressman/women can receive any gifts from businesses, groups, organizations, or individuals.

Universal voting means each voting age person receives their ballots and voting information at their registered residence via the post office. Establish a secure voting via computer from phone or computer.  If we can do business via computer we can vote the same way.  Make voting day a national holiday (a Sunday) and combined local, county, state and federal elections, all voters sent ballots by mail, failure to vote or acknowledge receipt of ballots results in a fine.  Create the option voting via computer, certainly by mail.  Move elections to every 6-8 yrs or adopt the British system for changing the government with a national referendum.  All lobbing by businesses forbidden, only individuals contact representatives.  We need to increase the number of congressional representatives to insure more diversity of opinions covered in the voting.  Institute national referendum system like that used in California and set up a faster recall via special elections (by computer and mail).

2.   Health Care – make a public system like Medicare for all citizens; eliminate the middle man insurance companies.  Create a universal comprehensive inexpensive health care service with a cap on salaries of all administrators.  Includes inexpensive drugs, home care, and medical advise via phone and home visits by nurses and doctors.  Provide universal abortion on demand.

3.   Climate Change/Energy – move to a solar economy, which means build an infrastructure, based on solar and geothermal energy sources without nuclear sources.  Halt all nuclear energy production systems until solar and geothermal sources are first maximized.  Expand mass transit systems much like Europe and Japan.

4.    Environmental – change the toxic substances Control Act to reflect new knowledge about the effects of low levels of toxicants.  Establish an expanded, ocean preserve system to aid reestablishment of our damaged and polluted fishing sources.  Begin creating a mass transportation system across the US based on high speed rail.  Expand by purchase our national park systems.  Stop the murder of wildlife on public lands by hunting for pleasure.

5.   Agriculture – Establish an urban extension service to help the public grow their own food and purchase solar and geothermal sourced systems for retrofitting residential electricity generation and feeds into the public systems. Create a real time publically available listing of all pesticide applications (above a gallon) by location, with address and map locations.

6.    Energy – Switch to a solar economy, by retrofitting with first hybrid automobiles while beginning to build an inexpensive mass transportation system across the US.  Ideally a high speed rail system. First step to convert all vehicles to hybrids.  Then the goal is again retrofit with hydrogen generated by solar capture.

7.     Religion in Government – separate government and religion.  Fight the religious influence in government by moving the US toward a fully secular society.  Stop mention of religion by any office holder and potential office holder.  A person’s religion should remain a private affair, like their sexual activities.

Eliminate tax free status for all religious businesses.  Eliminate all chaplains hired by military and other branches of the government; eliminate “Under God in the pledge of allegiance; take off “In God we Trust” on all our money. Eliminate all mention of god in presidential and other activities including prayer breakfasts, prayers before meetings and public statements.

8.    Emergency Services improve volunteer opportunities, create a Public FEMA volunteer force that can go to the sites of emergencies and perform work for hire when a national emergency is declared.

9.     Taxation, Economy and Banking – suspend all foreclosures, set maximums for personal income, and maximums for loan rates, under 5%.  Any democracy is compromised by excessively wealthy individuals who can manipulate by bribes, domination of media, or similar means.  We may have already lost to our oligarchs.

Taxation – remove all subsidies from businesses, except farming, supply and demand does not work for farming, and needs boundaries within to work any so called market system.  Increase the tax rate to 75% for all those who make over $1 million gross per year, 85% for over 5 million, and 99.9% for all over 10 million.  The British retired the oligarch princes in India by taking away their political power, we should do the same here for the excessively wealthy.  How much maximum money someone can make in the US should be debated and voted on.  The call for a financial transaction tax (FTT), sometimes called a “Robin Hood tax,” has inspired a global movement.

10. Drug Policy – full legalization of MJ and any addictions treated as medical problems., Use the taxes derived from sale of products to support medical treatments.

11. Military – cut and streamline and redirect funds.  Redirect 50% to solarizing the military and all federal and governmental buildings, then all residences, and roof tops, parking lots, and businesses (see below).  By solarization of all military buildings and facilities first we retrain a whole large group of people who can next solarize all the residential and other public buildings in the US.  Reduce number of military bases outside US, close most bases in the US and around the world, reduce size of navy, concentrate air force bases, establish bans on use of mines.  Reduction in number of troops on active duty.  Reductions in overall military budgets by at least 50%, redirect funds saved to infrastructural changes needed to combat climate change and retrain troops into civilian jobs. Drastically reduce the number of missile silos with nuclear warheads.

12. Business – Taking corporate money and power head-on is the goal of the We the People campaign, which aims to bring progressive media and advocacy groups together to challenge the Citizens United status quo (a campaign I started with Jim Hightower and Jay Harris). The idea behind We the People, and central to the many groups that are participating, is simple: When our nation arrives at a level of corruption we cannot bear, we shouldn’t.



Compiled by Wm Olkowski, PhD and republished from 12.03.11

The Bronx currently has about 175 community gardens administered by Operation Green Thumb, as well as a number of community gardens operated by nonprofit entities, such as the Parks Council, and community gardens on private property.


What is Food System Planning?
Food system planning is the integration of food system issues into policies, plans, and programming at all levels of government work. It has recently become a recognized expertise within the planning profession and a growing network of planners and their partners are engaged in strengthening the community, regional, and national food systems.

As the metropolitan planning organization for the nine-county region, the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission (DVRPC) became interested in the food system when it became apparent how food
affects and is affected by many issues central to the Commission’s work, including land use, transportation, economic development, and the environment.

Food system planning can include the following actions:

• Building partnerships and consensus
• Visioning and goal-setting
• Assessments
• Plan-making
• Creating standards and guidelines
• Regulating and codifying
• Marketing, outreach, and education
• Supporting catalytic pilot or demonstration projects
• Targeting public investments
Source: American Planning Association

Examples of different compost holding units for backyards.
Source: Kansas State University Agricultural Experiment Station and Cooperative Extension Service.

Next Steps in Regional Food Systems Planning at DVRPC

The tools and resources outlined in this brochure are ways that local governments can play a role in improving and strengthening the regional food system. Systemic change is possible with participation from all levels of government, from the private sector, and by individual consumers who, in turn, will create a more equitable, sustainable, and healthier food system.

More information about DVRPC’s food system planning activities, including work on a Regional Food System Plan, is available at

Values identified by DVRPC’s food system Stakeholder Committee as part of a vision setting process (9/29/2009).
Source: DVRPC 19

R E D U C E  O R  R E U S E  F O O D  W A S T E  F O O D  S Y S T E M P L A N N I NG


Urban Agriculture Notes
by City Farmer – Canada’s Office of Urban Agriculture

Now Celebrating Our 33th Year!
Mayor of Vancouver Proclaims November, 2003 “City Farmer Month”!!
Established 1978, Vancouver, BC, Canada
Prepared by Michael Levenston, Executive Director
On-line on the World Wide Web since October 15, 1994.
© Copyright City Farmer 1994-2011
E-mail us at:
Mailing Address:
City Farmer – Canada’s Office of Urban Agriculture
Box 74567, Kitsilano RPO,
Vancouver, B.C. V6K 4P4 Canada
Office Phone: (604) 685-5832
Map showing the location of our garden at 2150 Maple Street.
Garden Location:
Vancouver Compost Demonstration Garden
2150 Maple Street, Kitsilano, (6th and Maple)
Vancouver BC, V6J 3T3 Canada
Garden Phone: (604) 736-2250
City Farmer runs the Vancouver Regional Compost Hotline: 604.736.2250
Email the Hotline at:
On January 1, 2008, we created a new web site “City Farmer News” at ( where all our new stories are featured.

This site, “Urban Agriculture Notes” (, which has been running continuously since 1994 with its hundreds of pages of urban agriculture information, will remain online and will be updated when necessary with corrected emails, URL’s, etc. It is still a gold mine of useful resources.
March 23, 2008

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Search the City Farmer Website.


Go to our new City Farmer Web Site – “City Farmer News” (
Most Recent Pages and Links Added (by Date)

Introduction to Organic Food Gardening – City Farmer’s 2011 Classes in March
Learn how to grow your own vegetables in an urban environment. City Farmer’s hands on organic food gardening course includes: site selection/design/soil preparation seed sourcing and starting; planting/harvesting/composting; organic gardening techniques/natural pest control; container gardening; waterwise gardening.
Posted March, 2010
Save money on flowers by using silk flowers from Silk Flowers Warehouse.
Designs Review helps you get unbiased user website feedback.
Find great Halloween Costumes for 2011. We carry Halloween Costumes for adults, kids, and even your pets!
Little Giant,  Liberty and Grundfos Pumps and other popular pump brands are distributed by Products include submersible well pumps, jet pumps, aquarium, fish tank, centrifugal, condensate, effluent, grinder, irrigation pumps, magnetic drive, pool, sump, waterfall pumps, sewage, utility, water removal and jet well pumps.
The Nature Conservancy advises Andrew Liveris on sustainable land practices and resource consumption regarding surrounding land.
Artificial silk plants and topiary from silk plants direct
City Farmer’s Step-By-Step Photo Guide to Composting in a Backyard Bin
“Alternate layers of green and brown materials; keep the layers 2″ – 4″ deep. Common green (nitrogen) materials are grass, food scraps (uncooked fruit and vegetables, coffee grounds, filters, tea bags and egg shells) (wet), garden trimmings. Common brown (carbon) materials are, fall leaves, straw and newspaper strips (dry). Chop up larger materials for faster decomposition.” Posted March 31, 2005
City Farmer’s Step-By-Step Photo Guide to Worm Composting
“Harvesting: You can dump the entire contents of the bin onto a large plastic sheet and separate the worms manually. Most children love to help with this process and you can turn it into a fun lesson about worms for them. Watch out for the tiny lemon-shaped worm cocoons which contain between two and twenty baby worms! By separating the worms from the compost, you save more worms for your next bin.” Posted March 21, 2005
Metro Vancouver Composting Brochures
Download “How To” brochures in PDF format here: Here’s the Dirt – Backyard Composting; Here’s the Dirt – Worm Composting; Compost Bin Construction Plan (Single Bin System) and (Three Bin System); Natural Yard Care; Waterwise Gardening. Revised January 9, 2009
How to Worm Compost: Comix Style – How to Backyard Compost: Comix Style
City Farmer has produced two, new, teaching flyers in comic-book format. These are based on images from our How-To Slide Shows.
Posted January 8, 2008
One Year of Time-Lapse Photos of the City Farmer Demonstration Garden
Graham Clark chose one web cam photo from every day over the past year, November 2006 – October 2007, and put 360 of them in this time-lapse movie. You’ll see the garden slowly come to life and also see some of our visitors.
Sharing Backyards in Greater Vancouver
Grow your own veggies, herbs, flowers, and soft fruit. If you have a garden and want to share it with someone, or if you are looking for a space to garden, this page is for you.
Updated March 5, 2008
Use quick links for Vancouver residents:
European Chafer – A New Turf Pest – Now in Greater Vancouver * Grow Natural * City Farmer’s Waterwise Garden * Community Gardens in Greater Vancouver and Victoria * Instructions for Backyard Composting * Home Composting* Worm Composting * Grasscycling and Natural Lawn Care *Waterwise Gardening and the City Rain Barrel Program
* Organic Landscapers/Gardeners in Greater Vancouver * Other Rain Barrels and Water Wisdom From Around the World * How to Set Out Your Yard Trimmings * Worm Suppliers * Pet Waste Composting *Farm/Garden Land For Rent in Greater Vancouver and Elsewhere * Wholesale and Retail Native Plant Nurseries in BC * Drought Tolerant Plant List for Vancouver City Boulevards * Fruit Tree Projects

Composting’s New Appeal
“Vancouver is a perfect climate for a worm bin,” Levenston explained, speaking of a bin filled with about 500 worms working to break down kitchen scraps on an apartment balcony. “You set up this bin with a bedding of newspaper and other materials and the worms will process the food waste and within three to four months you will have a finished compost,” he said.” Posted August 24, 2007
City Farmer Was Born At The Vancouver Community Conservation Centre in 1978
During a six month federal energy conservation project, City Farmer was created. Read about the group’s formative months in a report written by the project’s leader. “The first issue of City Farmer came out at the end of July (1978) and the second at the end of August. Both received a very positive response. The paper attempts to interest the public by showing them examples of successful Vancouver city farmers. It also reports on political issues that affect the city farmers (there has been a great deal of controversy lately about a particular woman in Vancouver who raises chickens in defiance of city by-laws), and products and information that are of use to them.”Posted August 13, 2007
City Farmer’s Pig-tailed Gardening Dynamo Teaches Kids About Bugs
Keating, an enviro-science grad, who works at the City Farmer compost demo garden, and runs her own biological control consulting company, teaches kids about the important jobs bugs have; why we have them; and if they are good or bad bugs. Her high-energy bug classes, which typically run from 45 minutes to an hour and a half, include interactive games, glossy flash cards, the always-popular bug song (“two antenna and six legs and don’t forget the wings”) and, of course, lots of live bugs!” Updated August 20, 2007
Water Features
Bean Bag Chairs
Electric Fireplace
Gel Fireplaces
Wall Fountain

Nature’s Way of Recycling
Sharon Slack (of City Farmer) is not squeamish about worms. She encourages people to get their hands dirty and slimy, all for a good cause. “These little guys do a very good job for us,” she says. “They’re called red wigglers. They’re not the same as the big worms you see in the garden.” Posted June 6, 2007
Using Compost to Make a Container Garden: Step-by-Step Slideshow
“Balconies, Rooftops and Decks. City Farmer Head Gardener, Sharon Slack, shares her recipe for starting a container garden.” Posted July 17, 2006
Fly From Space to Community Gardens in BC Using Google Earth
City Farmer created ‘place-markers’ in Google Earth, which allow you to fly from the sky to different garden sites; that is virtually. You can visit individually chosen sites or you can push the ‘play’ button (an arrow under the Places window) to automatically fly to all the gardens. See Victoria’s Capital City gardens for instance and then fly back to UBC’s Acadia gardens. Simply click on our link to download a tiny ‘kmz’ file (unzip the .zip file first) and then open the file in your Google Earth program. Updated September 27, 2006
BC Community Gardens Up Close – Aerial Photos
We’ve created a slideshow of aerial photos of community gardens in British Columbia; most of these are higher resolution images than can be found on Google Earth. See the Fraser Street Garden in Vancouver, or visit us in the Compost Demonstration Garden next to our neighbours, the Maple Street Community Garden. We’ve also included photos of some of the gardens at ground level for those who don’t like heights. Posted September 27, 2006
Pristine Outhouse a Compost Outpost
Features City Farmer’s Toilet – “There’s a lock on the outhouse door, so the toilet is used only by staff and garden visitors willing to abide by the rules: ‘Please place toilet paper in toilet after use but do not add other hygiene products; Please sprinkle a cup of shavings from the green container on solid waste after use; Please mark on the calendar an X for liquid waste or an O for solid waste after using the toilet.’ ” Posted September 4, 2006

Meet City Farmer Staff at the Garden or call our Compost Hotline
“City Farmer staff both garden and teach at our Demonstration Garden all year long. They give workshops, attend ‘outreach’ events in the community, speak to the media, develop educational material for our web site, answer the Compost Hotline, look for new varieties of plants and search out the ‘greenest’ gardening techniques. Here’s a brief summary of their expertise.” Posted August 10, 2006
City Farmer’s Pesticide Reduction Resources
“On this page you will find a growing list of resources to help you replace pesticides with natural pest control techniques. BC biological suppliers, organic fertilizers for your lawn and garden, organic landscapers in Vancouver and a look at insects we see at our garden and how we respond are published here.” Posted April 9, 2006
Free Online Dating
See City Farmer’s Fabulous Coldframe
Graham Clark built this attractive and useful mini-greenhouse for us. The used skylights (double glazed so you get two for one) cost us only $25 at a used ‘stuff’ store. Updated December 4, 2005
Garden Warriors of ‘Yesteryear’ – Photos Slideshow
We are building on the ideas and work of past generations. These photos are from the Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division, Washington and one from the Archives of Canada, Ottawa. Posted November 15, 2005
School Children Gardening – Photos 1914-1918: Slideshow
These wonderful photos are in the Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division, Washington. They remind us that earlier generations were as excited as we are today about the potential of teaching kids about food gardening. Posted November 7, 2005
City Farmer’s Bugshops – The “5Ps” : Slideshow
“Pollinators, Predators, Processors, Pests, Parasitoids. Photos © by Maria Keating” Posted October 4, 2005
Using Compost to Start a Food Garden: Step-by-Step Slideshow
“Compost is an essential ingredient for making fertile soil. We’ve used it for 25 years at our Demonstration Garden. Sharon digs over-wintered leaf mulch and compost into the beds. She seeds some plants indoors in flats. First she adds sifted compost.” Posted July 25, 2005
Design for Food: Landscape architects find roles in city farms.
Short excerpt from the June issue of Landscape Architecture Magazine “There are many different ideas about what constitutes an urban farm. Michael Levenston, executive director of City Farmer, one of the oldest North American organizations devoted to urban food production, says: “An urban farm can be a pot of herbs grown on a balcony or a large market garden. If it involves something you eat, and you’re growing it in the city, I’d call it an urban farm.” Updated August 18, 2005
Insect Life at 2150 Maple Street
“At City Farmer, we show visitors both beneficial and pest bugs as part of our “natural yard care” tour of the garden. By introducing people to the fascinating life of a wide variety of insects, we believe people will come to appreciate rather than fear them. Less than 1 percent of garden insects actually damage plants.” Posted May 15, 2005
Wise Water Use at our Demonstration Garden: Step-By-Step
Reducing water use in the garden and managing stormwater runoff are priorities at the Vancouver Compost Demonstration Garden.Posted May 8, 2005
Natural Gardening Posters in Chinese
We’ve translated five large gardening posters, featured at our Demonstration Garden, into Chinese: backyard composting, worm composting, waterwise gardening, natural lawn care and grasscycling. Posted April 29, 2005
City Farmer’s Step-By-Step Photo Guide to Natural Lawn Care
“No pesticides. No wasted water. No air pollution. No trucking grass clippings to the landfill.” ” Posted April 20, 2005
City Farmer’s Isabelle Speaks from the Garden
(Needs Real Player on your computer, 46 second clip.) Isabelle tells CBC why she likes to work at our Demonstration Garden.” Posted April 13, 2005
A Bug Lady’s Observations at Vancouver’s Compost Demonstration Garden
“Today I saw mothflies in the composter. They are neither moths nor flies, but are members of the the same order as aphids. In the compost they are not considered pests, but their numbers can skyrocket. When that happens the best thing to do when opening the lid is to keep your mouth closed. To reduce the numbers, cover the top layer of the compost with baking soda and a newspaper.” Updated September 28, 2005
Urban Sustainability Tours at City Farmer’s Garden

“City Farmer’s garden has been open continuously since 1982 at 2150 Maple Street in Vancouver. We demonstrate urban agriculture and various “green” technologies, all of which can be practiced by residents in the city. Urban Agriculture, Backyard Composters, Worm Bins, Water-wise Garden, Natural Lawn Care, Rain Barrels, Compost Toilet, Country Lane, Cob Shed, Garden Gates and Animals in the Garden.” Posted September 16, 2001
City Farmer’s Cob Shed – It has a Living Green Roof
Sculptor, George Rammell, donates Haida artist Bill Reid’s clay to our cob project. “The clay I provided belonged to Haida artist Bill Reid. It provided the form for many of Bill’s sculpture projects including the Whale at the aquarium, and the huge bronze Spirit Canoeat the airport.” Updated October 9, 2003
City Farmer’s Green Roof on the Cob Shed
Photos of the roof planted, our goat, and Arctic roof gardens from long ago. Posted October 9, 2003
City Farmer’s Country Lane
Vancouver City Council passed a report to fund three demonstration “Country Lanes”. These lanes have permeable surfaces that allow stormwater to flow into the earth rather than drain into the sewers. Updated October 9, 2003
City Farmer’s Waterwise Garden
“Waterwise gardening is not synonymous with xeriscaping. Waterwise gardening is a more appropriate explanation for gardening in mesic climates like Vancouver and incorporates the collection and storage of rainwater, soil health, maintenance techniques and the choice of appropriate plant species to create healthy, beautiful gardens. ” Posted February 14 2004
City Farmer TV – 2007 – 2008
Video Blogging! These short clips will bring you up close and personal with the kind of work we do at the Vancouver Compost Demonstration Garden. See how we trap rats in a compost bin and plant our cold frame with over-wintering salad greens. Our videoblog will put you in touch with what happens at our garden. We talk to our gardeners, to visitors and also visit other urban agriculture projects in Vancouver. You can watch these short films on your computer.
City Farmer TV – 2006

City Farmer TV can also be seen on YouTube

LA Times Story: Vancouver Envisions Radicchio on its Rooftops
“The Canadian city sees food-producing gardens in urban residential developments as the wave of the future. … The Southeast False Creek conditions require shared garden plots for 30% of the neighborhood’s residential units that lack access to balconies or patios of at least 100 square feet. False Creek buildings also will have a maximum of 12 stories to increase green space and sun exposure. Plans call for fruit trees and raised beds on rooftops, courtyards lined with blueberry bushes, and balcony trellises to support fruit-bearing vines.”Updated August 26, 2007
Farming In The City 2
(Guests: Steve Pedersen – Coordinator, Public Health Association of BC. Michael Levenston – Executive Director, City Farmer. Peter Mcallister – Woodlot Director / Mushroom Grower, Lofstedt Farm.) “This broadcast marks the second of an ongoing series that will explore urban agriculture in British Columbia, Canada, and around the world. Featured on the broadcast will be the launch of an on-line community of gardeners with the hope that every lawn in British Columbia will contain a food producing garden. We will learn of an innovative project that links up underutilized backyard garden space with those willing to urban farm it. When we think of urban agriculture, rarely do we think of growing mushrooms! The steps on how to go about becoming an urban mushroom grower will be shared on this broadcast.”
Posted May 13, 2007

In Memoriam: Arthur Wesley “Wes” Barrett, 1937 – 2007. Wes was Head Gardener at City Farmer for over ten years. He was loved by everyone and will be sorely missed by all of us who worked with him at the Vancouver Compost Demonstration Garden.
On his retirement from City Farmer in 2000, this song was written about him.

From the Desk of Jac Smit – “Urban Agriculture”
Jac Smit will be contributing his thoughts here from time to time. “Jac has contributed to plans for agriculture in cities as diverse as: Abidjan, Asmera, Bogota, Dar es Salaam, Karachi, Philadelphia, Vancouver and Washington DC. Some of his most satisfying urban agriculture effort was in refugee camps in India, Bangladesh and the Ivory Coast.”
Urban Agriculture Magazine from the RUAF
18 wonderful issues have come out so far, and they all can be read on the internet. Some issues are available in Espanol, Franais, Arabic, Chinese, Portugus, and Turkish. “The Urban Agriculture Magazine is an initiative under the RUAF Programme. It functions as a platform for exchange and discussion of grounded information on urban agriculture: research results, project experiences, and critical analyses of conventional and innovative policies on urban agriculture.” UA Magazine no. 14 – Urban Aquatic Production; UA Magazine no. 15 – Multiple Functions of Urban Agriculture; no. 16 – Formulating Effective Policies on Urban Agriculture; no. 17 – Strengthening Urban Producers’ Organisations; no. 18 – Building Communities through Urban Agriculture Posted August 21, 2007
Go to our new City Farmer Web Site – “City Farmer News” (
Food Urbanism: Urban Agriculture, Food Security, Local and Sustainable Food Systems, Grow-Your-Own, Polyculture, Urban Food …
“When I was in Vancouver a few months ago for the Bridging Borders Toward Food Security conference, I visited a number of Urban Agriculture projects, the most significant of which was City Farmer. City Farmer has been focusing on Urban Agriculture for almost 30 years and their web site is, for many people, the main portal into the diverse world of growing food in a city.” Posted January 18, 2007
All-You-Can-Grow Buffet
Broken Pencil #33 The Food Issue, October 2006. An excerpt from the article on this web link; 800 more words in the hard copy issue.” ‘Food is essential for us, so it only makes sense we should know where it comes from,’ Levenston says matter-of-factly. But where to start? He recommends growing sprigs of parsley and handfuls of oregano at first, something small that can be put in a pot on a balcony. Progressing further means securing a swath of land to grow vegetables, fruits and even grains if the space allows.” Updated October 19, 2006
44 Urban Agriculture Photos
Finding new photos that illustrate city farming is an exciting occasion. You’ll find something to surprise you in this collection. “Queen Elizabeth II in lively discussion with gardening enthusiasts on their garden allotment.” and “With their garden implements held on their shoulders these blind children form a ‘V’ for victory gardening.” Posted July 27, 2006
National Post article: Worms dine just outside my kitchen
City of Vancouver – City Farmer Program. “I recalled my wife’s expression from earlier that day, and also her parting words. But it was too late to bail. The instructor had already dumped a bucket of worms onto a composter lid. From this pile of damp earth emerged a swarming mosh. Suddenly, it was our turn to handle worms. We hived off into groups and got to work. My team prepped its black plastic compost box, filling it halfway with a supply of straw and shredded newspaper. Using a watering can, we more or less soaked the bedding.” Posted July 23, 2006
Agricultural innovation responds to market forces just like the stock market, and all of the others in between. Issues like water, nitrogen, phosphorous, synthetic fertilizer, local foods,aquaculture, pests, and the move toward organics all need to be addressed in order to gain attention from potential ag investors. There certainly exists plenty of room for agricultural improvements, which also yields the underlying potential for agricultural innovation to transform into the next hot investment sector. Take a quick peak at what currently has Silicon Valley investors and bankers buzzing.
IDRC reports…Vancouver’s Urban Agriculture Resource Centre
“A group of five writers, supported by IDRC through its Focus City Research Initiative, toured Vancouver’s City Farmer, a demonstration site and resource centre for urban agriculture (UA). In addition to its public education programs, City Farmer offers a Web site that has become a information clearinghouse for UA information around the world. During WUF, City Farmer provided material and staff to demonstrate some of the innovative programs the City of Vancouver funds.” Posted July 8, 2006
Soild Waste Branch Vancouver BC – Experience over 15 Years
“As sophisticated, beautiful and livable Vancouver is, there exists an element of poverty and pollution in the raw underbelly of our City that demands leadership, innovative thinking, and aggressive strategic policy and planning, combined with a healthy dose of compassion on the part of our civic leaders. ” Posted June 27, 2006
Compost Chef Shares Recipe for Composting Success – at World Urban Forum
“It’s like a cake,” she said, “you layer it – green, brown, green, brown.” The green Costa is referring to are moist materials, like kitchen scraps that are high in nitrogen. Brown materials, like leaves, are drier and high in carbon. Costa is with City Farmer, a long-time IDRC partner.” Posted July 8, 2006
Lure of the Urban Veggie Garden: Digging for love, money, fame and sex appeal.
“The various efforts in Vancouver are what make the city feature prominently on the international urban gardening stage, says Michael Levenston. “We’re it: Vancouver, Canada,” he argues. Levenston is the seasoned guru behind the local fixture City Farmer, and he’s witnessed his life-long obsession go from the fringe to the mainstream since he started out in 1978.” Posted May 29, 2006
Grow your own, Big City
“People like Levenston believe there is an enormous and untapped potential to turn concrete jungles into abundant food producers. According to a mapping project undertaken by City Farmer, one third of a typical residential block in Vancouver is landscaped, and could be growing crops.” Updated June 6, 2006
Urban Agriculture in Vancouver: Slideshow by City Farmer
“Vancouver is recognized as one of North America’s most liveable cities. It is no coincidence that 25% of British Columbia’s food is produced within an hour of downtown Vancouver and more than 40% of Vancouverites grow food in yards, balconies, and community gardens. The city is home to 1000 community garden plots at 22 active sites.” Posted June 6, 2006

Vancouver’s New Pesticide Reduction Bylaw – January 1, 2006

“As of January 1, 2006, the use of outdoor pesticides on lawns and in gardens will be regulated by section 5.17 of the Health By-Law No. 6580. Application of pesticides, including insecticides, herbicides, and fungicides, will be restricted. Certain conditions will need to be met before pesticides will be permitted provided they are listed in Schedule A to the by-law.”

You can read about the new by-law on the Grow Natural web site:
Pesticide Use Restriction By-law for 2006

The Good, the Bad and the Bugly
“Keating says many people are afraid of ground beetles because they’re quite large, but she explains they serve a very important function in biological control by eating the eggs of snails, slugs, cutworms and grubs. She blames science fiction movies about giant bugs for promoting people’s fear of them. ‘You have to realize they’re not 10 feet tall and they’re not coming to get us.'” Posted April 27, 2006
Parks board says: bugs not drugs
“The ladybugs were at the City Farmer garden with other environmentally friendly methods to illustrate a new city bylaw banning the application of pesticides. Dessureault said pests and weeds can be prevented without using harmful chemicals. She said the parks board, city and Vancouver Coastal Health are encouraging residents to ‘get their yards off drugs.'” April 9, 2006
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City Farmer’s Step-By-Step Photo Guide to Making a Dog Waste Composter
This waste biodegrades and flows into the subsoil. It is not used as compost in garden beds. “Collect the dog doo and drop it into the hole. Sprinkle a packet of septic tank starter on top of the dog doo and add a litre or so of water. Cover the hole with the lid. Within 48 hours, the septic tank starter, which is non-caustic, and promotes natural bacterial growth will have begun its work and you can add more dog doo. You can then begin to add it daily.” updated August 17, 2005
Tours of Urban Agriculture Sites in Vancouver, BC
Visitors coming to Vancouver have a wealth of interesting urban agriculture sites to visit. Perhaps the most important sites, from City Farmer’s perspective, are people’s home gardens. Back lanes are useful for studying urban agriculture. They display the private back yards of homes, making it is easy to see what gardeners are growing.
Posted January 24, 2005
25 Years of City Farming, 1978-2003 – City Farmer’s Story
In 1978, a group of young environmentalists working at the Vancouver Energy Conservation Center stumbled across a book called The City People’s Book of Raising Food by William and Helga Olkowski. It described in everyday language how the authors grew all their own food right in the middle of the city of Berkeley. This inspiring book led us on an exploration of urban food production, which continues today, twenty-five years later.
Posted January 25, 2005

Vancouver’s Worm Program Written-up in Der Spiegel Magazine
“Der Spiegel magazine published a story about Vancouver’s worm composting program in their well-read magazine on page 182 of issue No. 39, dated September 20, 2004. Their circulation is around 1.1 million and the magazine is distributed in Germany, Switzerland and Austria, as well as all over the world at foreign language newsstands.” Posted September 26, 2004
Worm Bins Turn Kitchen Scraps Into Compost
National Geographic’s web site features a story on Vancouver’s wormbin distribution program. Their on-line site publishes roughly 60 stories a month, and has on average 1.3 million readers a month. This is wonderful coverage and shows the world our City’s commitment to a healthier environment. Posted September 14, 2004
Virtual Tour of City Farmer’s Demonstration Garden
This virtual tour was created by Graham Clark in April 2004. You will need QuickTime and the On2 codec installed to view the tour. This software is free and can be downloaded once you click on the link. If your QuickTime software and browser won’t play the tour, go to this site and download the On2 QuickTime plugin. On2 Plugin Updated September 13, 2005
Cob Oven Cooking Event at City Farmer
Played on CBC radio on August 29, 2004 … the City Farmer show, recorded on location at the City Farmer garden in Vancouver. Guests include James Barber, Eve Johnson and Assefa Kebede cooking in the cob oven…” Posted September 5, 2004
Green Roof on our Cob Garden Shed (see Cob Oven and Cob Slideshows 1 and 2 as well)
44% of Vancouver Households Grow Food says City Farmer
40% of Toronto Households Grow Food

News Flash … March 1, 2005 … “Angola” and “Suriname” are the 199th and 200th countries to visit our web site since we began tracking visitors! (See City Farmer’s country count.) Almost 5 million hits were recorded on our site during the year 2004!

Urban Agriculture
Books For Sale

How to find information on our site. Our web site includes both local (Vancouver) City Farmer stories and urban agriculture information from around the globe.

1. Use the search engine:


The “Recent Pages” link just below is updated almost daily. That’s where you’ll find all the latest stories. Don’t miss it!
2. See most recently added pages:
Most Recent Pages and Links Added (by Date)

3. Use the topic links:
Africa * Asia * Europe * Latin America * Middle-East * North America * South-East Asia/Australia * South Asia

Allotments/Community Gardens * Books/Media * Children * City Farmer * Entrepreneurs * Growing Food *Health/Nutrition * Hydroponics * Insects * Livestock – Fish * Policy/Planning * Rooftops/Containers * Solid Waste/Composting * Urban Forestry * Water

4. Use quick links for Vancouver residents:
European Chafer – A New Turf Pest – Now in Greater Vancouver * Grow Natural * City Farmer’s Waterwise Garden * Community Gardens in Greater Vancouver and Victoria * Instructions for Backyard Composting *Home Composting* Worm Composting * Grasscycling and Natural Lawn Care * Waterwise Gardening and the City Rain Barrel Program
* Organic Landscapers/Gardeners in Greater Vancouver * Other Rain Barrels and Water Wisdom From Around the World * How to Set Out Your Yard Trimmings * Worm Suppliers * Pet Waste Composting *Farm/Garden Land For Rent in Greater Vancouver and Elsewhere * Wholesale and Retail Native Plant Nurseries in BC * Drought Tolerant Plant List for Vancouver City Boulevards * Fruit Tree Projects

5. Some popular pages on this site:
The “Recent Pages” link just below is updated almost daily. That’s where you’ll find all the latest stories. Don’t miss it!
Most Recent Pages and Links Added (by Date) * Jobs in Urban Agriculture * Bulletins/Conferences * UA References

Welcome to City Farmer’s home on the World Wide Web. After 28 years digging in the fields of Urban Agriculture, we want to share with you what we have learned. The Web makes it possible for us to reach a much larger audience than we were reaching before the arrival of on-line publications.
Our non-profit society promotes urban food production and environmental conservation from a small office in downtown Vancouver, British Columbia and from our demonstration food garden in nearby Kitsilano, a residential neighbourhood.
Map showing the location of our garden at 2150 Maple Street.
Virtual Tour of City Farmer’s Demonstration Garden
This new virtual tour was created by Graham Clark in April 2004. You will need QuickTime and the On2 codec installed to view the tour. This software is free and can be downloaded once you click on the link. Posted May 2, 2004
Urban Agriculture is a new and growing field that is not completely defined yet even by those closest to it. It concerns itself with all manner of subjects from rooftop gardens, to composting toilets, to air pollution and community development. It encompasses mental and physical health, entertainment, building codes, rats, fruit trees, herbs, recipes and much more.
Our Office wants you to know about some of the issues we deal with from day to day. There are very few offices in the world that have our experience serving city farmers all year round or have done so for as many years as we have.
These pages will grow as we select the latest breaking information that comes to us, as we review our large library of resources for useful documents to put on-line, and as we hook you up with other Urban Agriculture Web sites that most certainly will emerge.
Urban Agriculture Notes is written for those who want to start up their own “Office of Urban Agriculture”, for those who have already done so, and for gardeners who are curious about what we refer to as political horticulture.

“The one small garden of a free gardener was all his need and due, not a garden swollen to a realm;
his own hands to use, not the hands of others to command.”
Sam Gamgee, The Lord of the Rings, J.R.R. Tolkien

The “Recent Pages” link just below is updated almost daily. That’s where you’ll find all the latest stories. Don’t miss it!
Most Recent Pages and Links Added (by Date)

City Farmer’s Urban Agriculture Survey
Please help us learn more about your involvement in city farming by filling out this short survey form. Thank you!
Posted March 25, 2000
City Farmer’s Survey Results No. 2 – Second 100
See our summary. “14 people said they sold some food at farmer’s markets, retail and wholesale, a coop, restaurants and caterers, traded food for services or other food, reinvested income back to an organization, sold eggs at work and to neighbours and friends.”
Posted December 27, 2001
City Farmer’s Survey Results No. 1 – First 100
See our summary. “People from 16 countries submitted surveys – Australia, Brazil, Canada, Denmark, Egypt, England, Germany, Hong Kong, Israel, Kuwait, New Zealand, Peru, Philippines, South Africa, Spain and the USA. The vast majority were from the USA (56%) and Canada (26%).”
Posted May 20, 2000
Participating in Urban Gardening, or “City Farming” – Results of an Online Survey conducted by City Farmer
This study is based on a survey conducted by one of the organizations working to encourage participation in urban gardening and urban greening activities in general – City Farmer, based in Vancouver, B.C. City Farmer conducted an online survey over the course of 4 years. The survey asked respondents about their interests and experiences with gardening in urban areas (“city farming”) The survey garnered 500 responses at the time of writing. Each respondent was asked 19 different questions about their experiences with gardening.”
Updated August 5, 2007
Resource Centre on Urban Agriculture and Forestry (RUAF) Stories: City Farmer is honoured to be a partner in this five year project.
“During recent decades, Urban Forestry has been developed as integrative and interdisciplinary approach encompassing the planning, establishing and management of those urban green areas in which trees are the main element, such as woodlands, parks, gardens, cemeteries, derelict land and former industrial sites, and roadside and square plantations.” Posted March 3, 2004

January 31, 2004 Application Deadline for the AGROPOLIS Awards
“AGROPOLIS International Graduate Research Awards in Urban Agriculture – application forms can be obtained from the Cities Feeding People website in English, French, and Spanish and also in Arabic (not yet posted)”. Posted November 11, 2003
Urban Agriculture and Food Security (PDF)
and Urban Agriculture Magazine for the World Summit on Sustainable Development(PDF)
“Two special issues of the UA-Magazine have also been published. The first one, Urban Agriculture and Food Security, was distributed at the FAO World Summit on Food Security, held in June in Rome, Italy. The second, has been prepared for the World Summit on Sustainable Development, which will be held in Johannesburg, South Africa, in August 2002. Both specials can be downloaded as PDF files.” Posted October 6, 2002
RUAF: Resource Centre On Urban Agriculture And Forestry
“RUAF is a global information and communications programme implemented by seven regional institutes and coordinated by ETC-International, based in Leusden, The Netherlands. RUAF is a five-year programme that is funded by DGIS (the Netherlands)and IDRC (Canada)and initiated in October 1999. The general aim of RUAF is to facilitate the integration of urban agriculture into the policies and plans of city authorities and to enhance the active involvement of all local stakeholders.”
Updated October 6, 2002

City Farmer Stories:
44% of Vancouver Households Grow Food says City Farmer
“This is the first time in Canadian history a question of this sort has been asked by a professional pollster and the result is significant,” says Michael Levenston, Executive Director of the 25-year-old non-profit society based in Vancouver. “That figure represents more than three-quarters of a million people in Greater Vancouver who live in households growing vegetables, fruit, berries, nuts or herbs in their yard, balcony or community garden.” Posted October 6, 2002
City Farmer Uses the Latest Aerial Photos To Find Out How Much Food is Grown in the City of Vancouver
“Looking down from the sky it’s easy to see where city farmland lies. Roofs, driveways, sidewalks, swimming pools, trees, lawns and gardens are all clearly visible. The photos on this page were taken of homes in South Vancouver between Fraser and Clarke Avenues. The excellent resolution of the shots (15cm = 1 pixel) allows us to close in from an airplane-view to an almost tree-top view of homes and gardens.”
Updated October 31, 2001
Current Photos from the Demonstration Garden
“Wasup”? We get excited about new crops, visitors from other countries, creatures both pest and beneficial — and because Mike has a new digital camera, this page exists.
Posted September 14, 2001
The Christmas Tree Shredding Ceremony
“Look, all I’ll say is this. People want to know that their trees’ lives haven’t been sacrificed in vain; that they’ve served a purpose greater than a light rack. Over the years, we’ve recycled hundreds of thousands of Christmas trees and their remains are composted in our yard trimmings composting facility here at the Landfill. That product is then spread around Vancouver parks and sold to landscapers and residents as a rich organic fertilizer. If that isn’t a higher purpose, I don’t know what is.”
Posted December 29, 2001
City Farmer’s Grasscycling and Natural Lawn Care Project
“Once a week, a gentle pull of the lever starts the quiet machine – there’s no gas or oil to mess with, no fumes to breathe in. A simple squeeze of the lever by the right front wheel adjusts the mower height and in minutes the lawn is cut, all the clippings are out of sight, blown as tiny pieces into the lawn where they will break down and nourish the grass.”
Posted May 13, 2001
Roots of a Political Plot
“The growing international movement known as urban agriculture has its origin in a 2,500-square-foot Vancouver garden”
Posted May 26, 2001
Results In! – The Best Food Garden In Vancouver Contest
“Filled with, at different times, chicory, radicchio, basil, tomatoes, kiwis, figs, grapes, prunes, pears, and corn, Calogero’s garden occupies two back yards and much of the front yard. It produces something different every week, says his daughter Lucy: “[My father] has been growing vegetables since he moved from Italy over 30 years ago. My mother makes enough tomato sauce for the family year-round, and sends some to my sister in Victoria.”
Updated September 22, 2000
City Farmer’s Demonstration Garden: Detailed Plan Showing Plants and Features
Collin Varner has drawn a beautiful plan of our garden showing exactly where everything is located. Posted August 28, 2000
Photo Tour of City Farmer’s Demonstration Garden
See it all! The vegis, the compost toilet, the worm corner, the office in a greenhouse, and much more. Posted November 3, 1999
Introduction to the Demonstration Garden
Many media events take place at our beautiful garden. Sesame Street shot a segment on worm composting. And the Mayor of Vancouver cut fresh artichokes before the cameras. Updated November 3, 1999

The Easiest Way
To Predict The Future
Is To Invent It

**More Urban Agriculture Stories Can Be Found Here**

City Farmer’s Garden Gate
Metal artist, Davide Pan has created a distinctive front gate for City Farmer’s Demonstration Garden. Posted June 28, 1999
City Farmer’s History: The First Ten Years 1978-1988
Filing cabinets, desks and high shelves of books overflow with a paper record of our efforts from the past 21 years. We have chosen various documents from this archive and placed them on the following pages to give the reader a brief glimpse of our past.Posted June 6, 1999
Red Celery In the Sunshine – An Urban Eden: transforming hopeless backyard hardpan into a lush organic plot
First published in 1984 in Harrowsmith magazine, this article describes City Farmer’s Demonstration Food Garden. “I thought for years that just compost and the occasional load of manure were enough, and I had perfectly adequate gardens, but now, I’m not satisfied with adequate. I want Brassicas that are four feet high and three feet wide.” said first Head Gardener, Catherine Shapiro. Posted May 6, 1999
City Farmer Newspaper 1978 -1981
“25 cents was the street price for our ‘rag’. If a copy sold in a corner store we’d get half that back from the proprietor as our share. More often, we’d never find our way back to that store, and if we did, we’d find our paper had turned yellow with age.”Posted May 13, 1998
We Have a Compost Toilet!
“But how do we use it”, the staff wanted to know? “There’s no water in the bowl, no handle for flushing. What can we throw in it, how do we keep track of how much human waste goes in, and what words should we use to describe our waste?” Posted November 12, 1998
Composting Toilets
In Vancouver, British Columbia, a 30,000 sq. ft. office complex, utilizes composting toilets and urinals for human waste disposal. City Farmer has links to toilet manufacturers from around the world. Updated March 11, 1999
Urban Home Composting, City Farmer Style
If all our urban organic waste was turned back into crop nourishing humus, think how fertile the ground would become.
Dealing With a Rat in a Compost Bin
An individual who calls the Compost Hotline is usually quite shocked that he has a rat on his property.
City Farmer/City Of Vancouver Wormshop Program
“Half a pound of writhing red wiggler worms are included in each worm “kit”. The bin will accommodate up to 1500, so participants are encouraged to make up a second bin for themselves or a friend (they make excellent wedding gifts, shower gifts and Christmas presents!).”
Worm Suppliers
The world’s largest list of worm sellers. Updated January 4, 2002
More about the City’s Distribution of Worm Bins!
Newsweek magazine, Feb. 12, 1996, reports “Entire cities are getting into the act. Vancouver sells worm bins, wrigglers included at half price.” (Kitchen Help: Wrigglers Under the Sink, page 76)
Composting With Red Wiggler Worms
The great advantage of worm composting is that this can be done indoors and outdoors, thus allowing year round composting. It also provides apartment dwellers with a means of composting.
Jerry Seinfeld’s Worm Bin
“What’s The Deal With Worm Composting?”
Kramer’s friend, a kooky zoology Professor at a New York museum, is leading a secret expedition into the sewers of New York to search for a new species of worm that will speed up the process of decomposition in the bin.
City Farmer Donates Garden Produce To Vancouver Hospice
“The visual appeal alone was enough to stimulate the resident’s taste buds and heighten their interest in food. This is important, as often we have to work at tempting the appetites of our residents.” Updated November 8, 1998
Mayor Opens Water-wise Garden
This unique water conservation garden was developed by the City of Vancouver, in cooperation with City Farmer. The project, funded by Environment Canada, demonstrates the principles of water-wise gardening. It is located on the street front and will be open to the public year-round. Updated August 22, 1998
Waterwise Gardening
Principal Wholesale and Retail Native Plant Nurseries on the BC South Coast and Islands (PDF format)
Vancouver Begins Disconnecting Downspouts
Disconnecting residential roof downspouts from the combined sewer system may be an important way to reduce water pollution caused by Combined Sewer Overflows.
Rain Barrels and Water Wisdom From Around the World
“Here in Bermuda all residential properties catch rainwater on the roof. Roofs are constructed of lapped limestone slate on a timber frame. The water collected drains down into a water tank which is located beneath the house.”Updated October 5, 1998

The “Recent Pages” link just below is updated almost daily. That’s where you’ll find all the latest stories. Don’t miss it!
*** Most Recent Pages and Links Added (by Date) ***

In 1979, almost 20 years ago, City Farmer’s founding directors spoke at the 20th International Science Education Symposium about our vision of Urban Agriculture.
“Ideally we believe that simply by changing from suit to jeans, digging up a bit of lawn, and planting vegetable seeds, the city person will begin asking questions about his environment and about his urban behavior and thinking patterns.”
• “To most city people soil is simply mud or dirt, not a substance in which food is born.
• “Rain, means ‘no beach’. It is not seen as a drink for thirsty plants.
• “Sunny days are ‘tanning days’, not givers of food energy.
• “There are no such things as ‘beneficial insects’. They’re all big game for a can of ‘Raid’.
• “Big toothed dogs are nice animals to feed. Egg producing chickens are not.
• “Left-over food, minutes after a delicious meal, becomes garbage to be trucked away out of sight rather than a valuable homemade soil conditioner.”
More About City Farmer’s Work – Update December, 1996
• Our Compost Hotline has received 17,000 calls since 1992.
• 3000 visitors a year come to our Demonstration Garden.
• Since 1992, City Farmer has taught 431 children’s wormshops for a total of 9771 “contacts”.

Go to our new City Farmer Web Site – “City Farmer News” (
The ideal project is one where people don’t have meetings,
they have lunch.
The size of the team should be the size of the lunch table.
Bill Joy, cofounder of Sun Microsystems


Readers in the following countries have accessed our web site since February 12, 1996. We will be looking at our web stats every day to see what new additions can be made to this list.
News Flash … March 1, 2005 … “Angola” and “Suriname” are the 199th and 200th countries to visit our web site since we began tracking visitors! (See City Farmer’s country count.) Almost 5 million hits were recorded on our site during the year 2004!

Afghanistan Albania Algeria American Samoa Andorra Angola Anguilla Antigua and Barbuda Argentina Armenia Aruba Austria Australia Azerbaijan BahamasBahrain Barbados Belarus Belgium Belize Benin Bermuda Bhutan Bolivia Bosnia and Herzegovina Botswana Brazil Brunei Darussalam Bulgaria Burkina FasoBurundi Cambodia Canada Cayman Islands Chad Chile China Christmas IslandCocos (Keeling) Islands Colombia Congo Cook Islands Costa Rica Cote D’Ivoire (Ivory Coast) Croatia (Hrvatska) Cuba Cyprus Czech Republic Denmark DjiboutiDominica Dominican Republic East Timor Ecuador Egypt El Salvador EritreaEstonia Ethiopia Faroe Islands Fiji Finland France French Guiana French Polynesia Gabon Georgia Germany Ghana Gibraltar Great Britain (UK) GreeceGreenland Grenada Guadeloupe Guam Guatemala Guernsey Guinea GuyanaHeard and McDonald Islands Honduras Hong Kong Hungary Iceland IndiaIndonesia Iran Ireland Isle of Man Israel Italy Jamaica Japan Jordan KazakhstanKenya Korea(South) Kuwait Kyrgyzstan Laos Latvia Lebanon LesothoLiechtenstein Lithuania Luxembourg Macau Macedonia Madagascar MalaysiaMalawi Maldives Mali Malta Martinique Mauritania Mauritius MexicoMicronesia Moldova Monaco Mongolia Montserrat Morocco MozambiqueMyanmar Namibia Nauru Nepal Netherlands Netherlands Antilles New CaledoniaNew Zealand (Aotearoa) Nicaragua Niger Nigeria Niue Norfolk Island NorwayOman Pakistan Palau Panama Papua New Guinea Paraguay Peru PhilippinesPoland Portugal Qatar Romania Russian Federation Rwanda Saint Lucia SamoaSan Marino Saudi Arabia Senegal Seychelles Sierra Leone Singapore Slovak Republic Slovenia Solomon Islands South Africa Spain Sri Lanka St. HelenaSuriname Swaziland Sweden Switzerland Syria Taiwan Tanzania Thailand TogoTonga Trinidad and Tobago Turkey Turks and Caicos Islands Tuvalu UgandaUkraine United Arab Emirates United Kingdom United States Uruguay USSR (former) Uzbekistan Vanuatu Vatican City State (Holy See) Venezuela Viet NamVirgin Islands (U.S.) Yemen Yugoslavia Zambia Zimbabwe


Recognition Of Our Site
We have received lots of awards and are noted in many places. Visit the trophy room.

What would you like us to add to Urban Agriculture Notes ® ?
Tell us about Urban Agriculture activities in your city.
revised, Nov 4, 2011
E-mail us at:
Mailing Address:
City Farmer – Canada’s Office of Urban Agriculture
Box 74567, Kitsilano RPO,
Vancouver, B.C. V6K 4P4 Canada
Office Phone: (604) 685-5832
Map showing the location of our garden at 2150 Maple Street.
Garden Location:
Vancouver Compost Demonstration Garden
2150 Maple Street, Kitsilano, (6th and Maple)
Vancouver BC, V6J 3T3 Canada
Garden Phone: (604) 736-2250

In addition to production for their own consumption needs, large amounts of food are produced for other categories of the population. It is estimated (UNDP 1996; FAO 1999) that 200 million urban residents provide food for the market and 800 million urban dwellers are actively engaged in urban agriculture in one way or another.
These urban farmers produce substantial amounts of food for urban consumers. A global estimate (data 1993) is that 15-20% of the world’s food is produced in urban areas (Margaret Armar-Klemesu 2000).

2. Economic impacts
Growing your own food saves household expenditures on food; poor people in poor countries generally spend a substantial part of their income (50 – 70%) on food. Growing the relatively expensive vegetables therefore saves money as well as on bartering of produce. Selling produce (fresh or processed) brings in cash.

Besides the economic benefits for the urban agricultural producers, urban agriculture stimulates the development of related micro-enterprises: the production of necessary agricultural inputs and the processing, packaging and marketing of outputs. The activities or services rendered by these enterprises may owe their existence in part or wholly to urban agriculture. Other services may also be rendered by independent families and groups (e.g. animal health services, bookkeeping, transportation).

Input production and delivery may include activities like the collection and composting of urban wastes, production of organic pesticides, fabrication of tools, delivery of water, buying and bringing of chemical fertilisers, etc.)

Transformation of foodstuffs may include the making of yoghurt from milk, or the frying of plantains or yams, chicken or eggs, etc. This might be done at the household level, to sell at the farm gate or in a local shop or market, and larger units to sell in supermarkets or even for export.

Several examples exist of municipalities or NGOs that have initiated urban agriculture projects that involve disadvantaged groups such as orphans, disabled people, women, recent immigrants without jobs, or elderly people, with the aim to integrate them more strongly into the urban network and to provide them with a decent livelihood. The participants in the project may feel enriched by the possibility of working constructively, building their community, working together and in addition producing food and other products for consumption and for sale.

In more developed cities, urban agriculture may be undertaken for the physical and/or psychological relaxation it provides, rather than for food production per se. Also, urban and peri-urban farms may take on an important role in providing recreational opportunities for citizens (recreational routes, food buying and meals on the farm, visiting facilities) or having educational functions (bringing youth in contact with animals, teaching about ecology, etc.).
4. Contributions to urban ecology
Urban agriculture is part of the urban ecological system and can play an important role in the urban environmental management system.
Firstly, a growing city will produce more and more wastewater and organic wastes. For most cities the disposal of wastes has become a serious problem. Urban agriculture can help to solve such problems by turning urban wastes into a productive resource.


For Your Information and Pleasure

Compiled by William Olkowski and republished from 12.11.11

Main article: Cannabis (drug)

See also: Tetrahydrocannabinol, Cannabidiol, and Effects of cannabis

Cannabis Museum in Amsterdam.

Comparison of physical harm and dependence regarding various drugs.[83]

Cannabis is a popular recreational drug around the world, only behind alcohol, caffeine and tobacco. In the United States alone, it is believed that over 100 million Americans have tried Cannabis, with 25 million Americans having used it within the past year.[84]

The psychoactive effects of Cannabis are known to have a biphasic nature. Primary psychoactive effects include a state of relaxation, and to a lesser degree, euphoria from its main psychoactive compound, tetrahydrocannabinol. Secondary psychoactive effects, such as a facility for philosophical thinking; introspection and metacognition have been reported amongst cases of anxiety and paranoia.[85] Finally, the tertiary psychoactive effects of the drug cannabis, can include an increase in heart rate and hunger, believed to be caused by 11-Hydroxy-THC, a psychoactive metabolite of THC produced in the liver.


Women’s Rights and Population Control

Selected by William Olkowski, republished from 12.12.12

My view is that we will experience severe default population control during my remaining lifetime.  Default control means warfare, disease and famine, or combinations of all three.  I already see the signs of overpopulation in the rising numbers of homeless, poverty cases, unemployment levels, poor distribution of health care, and high birth rates.  And as long as our political system is beholden to religious fanatics adequate sex education, universally available abortion on demand¸ and free sterilization will remain unavailable, particularly to the people who need it most.  And the subject will remain taboo, especially in politics.  So, in many ways the discussion that follows is strange but a contemporary reflection of the zeitgeist now dominant for more than the last 100 years.  And the population of the world continues its upward trends.  When will they ever learn?  God will not fix this problem.  Humans are creating it and must solve it.  I don’t agree with the author of the following as I think the suggestions for reducing the population in the memo mentioned below however distasteful are needed to put brakes on our rising population.

Which Party Pushes Population Control?


One of the favorite memes of anti-abortion activists is that Planned Parenthood secretly exists as a means of population control, supported by a Democratic party who hates large families.  Often, they cite founder Margaret Sanger’s interest in the eugenics movement nearly a century ago, and a current proliferation of clinics located in highly dense, urban areas as a sign that the organization nefariously wants to curb the people’s means of reproducing.

Now, former Planned Parenthood worker and current anti-choice darling Abby Johnson has unveiled the secret “population control” blueprint she claims that the reproductive health centers have been in cahoots with for decades.  Referred to as the “Jaffe Memo,” it’s an action plan of policy bullet points that Frederick S. Jaffe, vice president of Planned Parenthood, wrote 50 years ago in response to an administration question about how to dissuade worldwide overpopulation.  “What is in the memo as a ‘solution’ to overpopulation is astonishing,” Johnson writes. “And, I’m sorry to say, it looks like the Jaffe memo is starting to show its face in our culture.”

And for once, I agree with Johnson.  After all, here are just a few of the suggestions the memo offers:

  • Reduce/eliminate paid maternity leave or benefits
  • Reduce/eliminate children’s or family allowances
  • Eliminate welfare payments after first 2 children
  • Require women to work and provide few child care facilities
  • Limit/eliminate public-financed medical care, scholarships, housing, loans and subsidies to families with more than N children
  • Housing policies – discouragement of private home ownership, stop awarding public housing based on family size

There’s just one slight problem when you start to look at the memo more closely.  Of those policies that have been “showing its face” so far, the ones that actually stop births — more access to contraception, more access to abortion, improving maternal health with a focus on family planning — have all been fought by the GOP, who are claiming the Democrats are anti-family.  But for those are becoming a part of the United States culture — an end to maternity leave, reducing welfare and social safety net programs, “forcing” women into the workforce by providing them with no other way to successfully support their children — are all a part of the Republican agenda.

Are Democrats trying to “control” the population?  Maybe a little, and at the same time ensure each child can be provided for.  Meanwhile, the Republican Party seems to want all of the babies, but none of the costs that go with them.



Compiled by Wm Olkowski, PhD, and republished from 1.14.12


Some highlights of the report of the Global Commission on Drug Policy:

In short the report says the war on drugs is a failure and we should substitute treatment for imprisonment for people who use drugs but do no harm to others.  The 40-year effort is a down and out right failure.

Actual drug use has increased over the years from 1998 to 2008.

Some other findings: “Penalties against possession of a drug should not be more damaging to an individual than the use of the drug itself.”

The biggest recent change in the program was made by Ronald Reagan who enhanced the legal efforts to criminalize possession, etc.

Carter points out that all the above was known back in his day.  And when he left the presidency in the late 1980s the total prison population was 500,000.  At the end of 2009 the population has soared to 2.3 million.  That’s a growth of almost 500%.

For further details see the website that has the complete report. Just Google: Commission on Drug Policy.  It make interesting reading as it covers all the drugs not just Mary Jane.


Another War in Preparation??  With Iran?

To prevent this one just get our navy out of the area.

How Much Money Can One President Spend?

Posted on January 12, 2012 by Brandon

Share this now!

You’d be surprised . . .

Adding up the debt gives 14.3 T, with 30% held by foreign countries.

Note that the bush catastrophe at 6.1 trillion is 43% of the debt without acknowledging that much of what Obama is forced to do to keep the country together after Bush.  That could also be added to his miserable record.  We need a Marshall plan to recover from Bush.  And still we don’t learn that the GOP is no longer interested in the whole country just the crazy right wing religious, key wealthy elites and media types trying to get more for themselves.

Buy Free Trade Chocolate or Coffee

Read more:



Raising the Medicare Eligibility Age really flunks the cost-benefit test.

Army Sargent’s get up to $50,000 per year, I think I’ll enlist.

Does this tell you more about why we go to war?


End Corporations as Person Movement

Compiled by Wm Olkowski, PhD, and republished from January 2012

Good Report on Legalization of Mary Jane Mentions that over 50,000 have died in Mexico from the drug wars there and that most Americans think legalization should occur. Written by a former drug policeman.

The Superrich have already seceded from the US To some degree, the rich have always secluded themselves from the gaze of the common herd; for example, their habit for centuries has been to send their offspring to private schools. But now this habit is exacerbated by the plutocracy’s palpable animosity toward public education and public educators, as Michael Bloomberg has demonstrated. To the extent public education “reform” is popular among billionaires and their tax-exempt foundations, one suspects it is as a lever to divert the more than one-half trillion dollars in federal, state and local education dollars into private hands, meaning themselves and their friends. A century ago, at least we got some attractive public libraries out of Andrew Carnegie. Noblesse oblige like Carnegie’s is presently lacking among our seceding plutocracy.

38 Most Unseen and Beautiful Places

Great Pictures of an Albino Hummingbird

New Great Shots of the Cosmos from various satellites.  With a note about

New estimate of 100 billion planets out there waiting for us to colonize.

Supplement Researcher doing Fraudulent Things

[Note that this sort of supplement problem, even if it is widespread which it is not does not compare to the 100,000 deaths from prescription medicines reported here and there.  But note how much comparative press the subject gets.]

Canada wants to make another plant illegal:


AND notice that Canada wants another law so they can lock people up who want to explore their consciousness.  That’s what the world needs now: another law to protect people from themselves.  Go right ahead Canada and be as stupid as your cousin down here.

Argentina Supreme Court Allows Personal Use of Cannabis – Aug 25, 2009

Imagine that we are behind Argentina.

CNN News Sources

I went to health in the sections, then went to an article on the worlds’ healthiest women and found some interesting stuff.  No references but interesting in themselves.  Lots of good ideas.  I will try other sections another day.

Quick Blurb from Freedom from Religion Foundation on upholding the separation of church and state.  Great excerpt:

In its conclusion, the court wrote, “George Washington once observed that “[r]eligious controversies are always productive of more acrimony and irreconcilable hatreds than those which spring from any other cause.” Letter from George Washington to Edward Newenham (June 22, 1792). As our nation becomes more diverse, so also will our faiths. To plant sectarian prayers at the heart of local government is a prescription for religious discord.” Id at 355. We might add, as our nation becomes more diverse, we become increasingly faithless. Nonbelievers have as much right to feel welcome as full participants at government meetings as believing Americans. Concerns about government prayer flood FFRF and are among the leading state/church complaints received by us. We can all take comfort and satisfaction that such an important constraint is still in place, and work to encourage other circuits to follow the 4th Circuit Court’s lead.

The products that passed the tests are listed below in order of lowest price, based on the cost per day of taking 1,000 milligrams of EPA and DHA, which is the dose recommended for those with heart disease. Note: To avoid ‘fish burps’ a common fish oil pill complaint, you should keep them in the freezer, or take them with a meal.

Spring Valley Omega-3 (Walmart) 17 cents/day
Finest Natural (Walgreens)   23 cents/day
Walgreens Omega-3 Concentrate   25 cents/day
Barleans’s Organic Oils   26 cents/day
Nature Made 1,200 MG   28 cents/day
The Vitamin Shoppe Meg-3   32 cents/day
Carlson Super Omega-3 Gems   46 cents/day
Norwegian Gold Ultimate Critical Omega   47 cents/day

Related links

What’s behind our dietary supplements coverage? 1/11

Supplements to consider. 9/10

American Heart Association: Fish and Omega-3 Fatty Acids.

The National Institutes of Health’s Office of Dietary Supplements.

Tidbits 1.23.12. Justice Blackmun, for the majority, Roe v. Wade

Compiled by Wm Olkowski, PhD and republished from 1.23.12

Dog fun video

Roe vs Wade Blackmun’s ruling still holds, nothing has changed.

“This right of privacy, whether it be founded in the Fourteenth Amendment’s concept of personal liberty and restrictions upon state action, as we feel it is, or, as the District Court determined, in the Ninth Amendment’s reservation of rights to the people, is broad enough to encompass a woman’s decision whether or not to terminate her pregnancy. The detriment that the State would impose upon the pregnant woman by denying this choice altogether is apparent. Specific and direct harm medically diagnosable even in early pregnancy may be involved. Maternity, or additional offspring, may force upon the woman a distressful life and future. Psychological harm may be imminent. Mental and physical health may be taxed by child care. There is also the distress, for all concerned, associated with the unwanted child, and there is the problem of bringing a child into a family already unable, psychologically and otherwise, to care for it. In other cases, as in this one, the additional difficulties and continuing stigma of unwed motherhood may be involved. All these are factors the woman and her responsible physician necessarily will consider in consultation.”

— Justice Blackmun, for the majority, Roe v. Wade

Recent Drug War News

Agence France Press – “Mexican Poet Aims to Take Drug War Protest to the U.S.”
San Francisco Chronicle – “Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom’s Drug Talk”
LA Daily News – “L.A. protest urges end to war on drugs”
LA Weekly – “Freeway Ricky Ross Defends His Crack-Dealing Past, Takes A Swipe At Rozay”
High Times – “Reform Regroups: 2011 International Drug Policy Reform Conference” – “New York program aims to revolutionize drug addiction recovery” – “Flex your rights: The top 3 things to do in every police encounter” – “Federal medical marijuana patient: Cannabis worked a ‘miracle’ for me” – “Washington Dem: We will end the drug war” – “Mexican social justice leader urges solidarity with ‘Occupy Wall St.’”
2011 Reform Conference Press Release
No More Drug War Rally Press Release
2011 Reform Conference Huffington Post Op-Ed

A real tidbit, couldn’t pass it up, its an example of what we could have done with some of the money we pay for oil:

Qatar has a benign dictator.  60 minutes last Sunday–and the highest standard of living in the world–all health care and all education, even university, is free for its citizens.

Political Fun but all too true

A special orthodontist office

Fun cartoons from a friend


Obama Hails Anniversary of Roe v. Wade

WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama on Sunday marked the 39th anniversary of the Supreme Court decision legalizing abortion by affirming his backing for the right, for decades one of America’s most polarizing issues.

“As we mark the 39th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, we must remember that this Supreme Court decision not only protects a woman’s health and reproductive freedom, but also affirms a broader principle: that government should not intrude on private family matters,” Obama said in his statement.    Read more


Other GOP candidates have made claims that African-Americans (or “blah” people) are the majority on public assistance in the United States. That’s also not true.

36 percent of those receiving food stamps are white, 22 percent were African American and 10 percent were Latino, according to the most recent Department of Agriculture report on the general characteristics of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program or “food stamp” program.By Jorge Rivas | Sourced from Colorlines

Posted at January 23, 2012, 8:56 am

Financial Reform

Financial Regulatory Reform

Updated: Sept. 20, 2011

The near-collapse of the world financial system in the fall of 2008 and the global credit crisis that followed gave rise to widespread calls for changes in the regulatory system. A year and a half later, in July 2010, Congress passed a bill expanding the federal government’s role in the markets, reflecting a renewed mistrust of financial markets after decades in which Washington stood back from Wall Street with wide-eyed admiration.

In its broad outlines, the bill resembled the sweeping reform legislation President Obama had proposed in June 2009.  Its progress was marked by fierce industry lobbying and partisan battles, as almost all Republicans voted against the measure. In the year since its passage, the stock market is up, banking profits have grown and institutions that invest on behalf of average Americans are praising the tougher stance in Washington.

Dodd-Frank aims to rein in abusive lending practices and high-risk bets on complex derivative securities that nearly drove the banking system off a cliff. It creates a bureau to protect consumers from financial fraud, cuts fees banks charge for debit-card use, and sets up a means for the government to better supervise the nation’s largest financial institutions to avoid expensive and catastrophic failures. And it calls public exchanges on which derivatives and other complex financial instruments are traded.

But there remain signs that the tightened regulatory measures could still be undone, creating uncertainty about whether the actions that have helped to stabilize Wall Street will be in place when the next crisis hits. Two dozen bills in Congress seek to dismantle parts of the Dodd-Frank Act. Business groups have argued that too many new regulations could snuff out the start of an economic recovery. And Republican candidates for president have used the law as a symbol of government overreach that is killing jobs.

Since Republicans took control of the House in the 2010 midterm elections, they and the financial industry have stepped up their efforts to rein in the new law, which itself left hundreds of important decisions to be worked out in one of the most complex rule-making processes ever undertaken by the government.

By September 2011, only a small portion of the law has taken hold. Of the up to 400 regulations called for in the act, only about a quarter had even been written, much less approved.

Key targets of the bill’s opponents include reining in the powers of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, reconsidering limits on debit card fees and restricting the budgets and growth of the S.E.C. and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission. And some of the most powerful players in the derivatives market — which is closely controlled by just a small group of banks — argued that the government should allow a slow pace of changes for rewriting derivatives contracts.

Read More…

More about the economy from a national meeting of economists

The Economic Idiocy of Economists

With a brain trust like this, a lost decade for America looks likely – unless the citizenry can steer a different course.



Tidbits 1.26.12

Compiled by Wm Olkowski and republished from 1.26.12

Alternative Energy Economic Idea

Wind Energy

Church and State Separation

Freedom in Media takes a hit

Support Letter for Withdrawing Federal Police from 16 state attack on Marijuana Dispensories

America the biggest Arms Dealer of All

Herbicide Resistant Crops Make Weed Control More Difficult

Energy Alternatives A Great Idea

A Jump Start for the Clean Economy
Maria Gallucci, Op-Ed: Every state can create clean energy funds, or CEFs, which are typically supported by a small surcharge on monthly electricity bills. So far 22 states have done so, generating $2.7 billion overall for the clean technology sector during the past decade. Most have used the money to install tens of thousands of solar panel arrays, wind turbines and biomass facilities. But a few states have gone further by broadening investments to include technology research hubs, fledgling cleantech startups and green job training programs.

Press Freedom Down in the US

Press Freedom Index: Occupy Wall Street Journalist Arrests Cost U.S. Dearly In Latest Survey

  Video , Occupy Wall Street , Occupy Wall Street Arrests , Occupy Wall Street Journalists , Occupy Wall Street Media , Press Freedom Index , Press Freedom Index 2012 , Media News

The targeting of journalists covering the Occupy Wall Street movement has caused the United States to drop precipitously in a leading survey of press freedom.

Reporters Without Borders’ latest Press Freedom Index was released on Wednesday, and the list reflected some of the tumult that took place in the world in 2011, as well as the impact that those events had on journalists across the globe. Reportersbecame targets over and over again throughout the year, both in the Middle East and on the streets of New York.

Some examples of the change wrought by the Arab Spring could be found in Tunisia, which the compilers moved up 30 places on the list in the wake of that country’s democratic revolution. Not so lucky were Bahrain and Egypt, both of which cracked down on journalists and on the popular movements pressing for further change in their countries. They fell 29 and 39 places, respectively, on the scale.

But the U.S. tumbled almost as far as Bahrain did in the wake of the repeated crackdowns on journalists covering Occupy movements. Reporters Without Borders was explicit in its summary of its report, saying that “the United States (47th) also owed its fall of 27 places to the many arrests of journalist covering Occupy Wall Street protests.”

The treatment of journalists by police was well documented throughout 2011. Reporters were beaten, arrested and prevented from covering police action against Occupy protesters. Tensions heightened so much that the New York Police Department had to meet with journalists and remind its officers not to mistreat them.

Below, see the 10 worst and 10 best countries for press freedom.


10th WORST Countries For Press Freedom: Sudan

Share your reports & photos from Occupy Wall Street events

If you’ve been to an Occupy Wall Street event anywhere in the country, we’d like to hear from you. Send OfftheBus your photos, links to videos or first-hand accounts of what you’ve seen for possible inclusion in The Huffington Posts’s coverage.

The Church State Front Lines

Protest two bad bills

Jan. 25, 2012

By Andrew L. Seidel, FFRF Constitutional Consultant

Yesterday, the US House of Representatives passed two bills promoting a union of church and state, and sent them to the Senate. The first bill, HR 2070, which passed by 386 to 26, is entitled “World War II Memorial Prayer Act of 2012.” It would require the Secretary of the Interior to install “in the area of the World War II Memorial in the District of Columbia a suitable plaque or an inscription with the words that President Franklin D. Roosevelt prayed with the Nation on June 6, 1944, the morning of D-Day.”

The Secretary is in charge of designing and installing the plaque but “may not use Federal funds. . . but may accept and expend private contributions for this purpose.” I wonder if they’d let FFRF pay to have some language added to the Jefferson Memorial. . .?

Bureau of Land Management Director Robert Abbey opposes this addition: He believes it is a violation of the Commemorative Works Act and “will necessarily dilute this elegant memorial’s central message and its ability to clearly convey that message to move, educate and inspire its many visitors.”

The second bill, HR 290, which passed by a voice vote, is deceitfully named “War Memorial Protection Act.” HR 290 was proposed by U.S. Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-Calif., to overrule the Ninth Circuit decision ruling the Mt. Soledad cross may not stay on public property. Steve Trunk, an FFRF Board and Lifetime Member, spoke about why he sued over the Mt. Soledad cross, on Oct. 8 at FFRF’s 34th national convention in Hartford, Conn., where he received the Atheist in Foxhole Award. His lawsuit before the 9th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals declared the Mount Soledad cross near San Diego, Calif., an unconstitutional endorsement of Christianity.

Hunter’s explicit intention was to “ensure that Mount Soledad and any other war memorial will withstand these attacks. . .” Attacks? This is a court executing its constitutionally mandated job of upholding our Constitution. Second, Hunter intentionally proposed a law that he knows violates the Constitution — that’s why he passed the law!

In 1803, in Marbury v. Madison, the Supreme Court first declared a law “unconstitutional” and held “it is emphatically the province and duty of the judicial department to say what the law is.” This is part of our system of separate powers. The Constitution is the supreme law of the land and the court interprets that law.

Here’s an example: In 1984, Gregory Lee Johnson burns an American flag at the Republican National Convention in Dallas as a protest. Johnson was arrested and charged with the crime of “the desecration of a venerated object in violation of Tex. Penal Code Ann § 42.09(a)(3). He was convicted, sentenced to one year in prison, and fined $2,000.” Texas v. Johnson, 491 U.S. 397, 400 (1989). The Supreme Court held “the government may not prohibit expression simply because it disagrees with its message, is not dependent on the particular mode in which one chooses to express an idea.” Id. at 416. The law Johnson was convicted of breaking was overturned, as were almost 50 other similar laws.

Later that year, Congress responded by passing the Flag Protection Act that made criminals of “Whoever knowingly mutilates, defaces, physically defiles, burns, maintains on the floor or ground, or tramples upon any flag.” 18 USC §700. In 1990, the Flag Protection Act reached the Supreme Court in U.S. v. Eichman, 496 U.S. 310 (1990). The Supreme Court declared the law unconstitutional, for the same reasons as in Texas v. Johnson, a new federal law does not make an unconstitutional act constitutional.

HR 290 has no power to make an unconstitutional cross constitutional. This is another piece of pandering, wasteful legislation. You’d think they have better things to do.

Click here to see how your representative voted on HR 2070 and let him/her know how you feel!

Andrew Seidel is the newest member of FFRF’s legal team and our first Constitutional Consultant. He joined FFRF in November and absolutely loves his job.

The Freedom From Religion Foundation, based in Madison, Wis., is a national association of freethinkers (atheists, agnostics) that has been working since 1978 to keep church and state separate

Support Letter for decriminalizing and removing federal attacks on marijuana dispensories.

Write your members of Congress today in support of a four-year PTC extension for wind energy.


* Your experience matters! Be sure to include a sentence about your expertise, particularly if it relates to renewable energy or economics.

* Wind provides a clean and safe source of electricity that helps diversify our nation’s power supply and stabilize power costs.

* According to the Department of Energy, U.S. manufacturers sourced 60 percent of a wind turbine’s components in 2009-2010.

*A stable tax policy can create and save 54,000 American jobs in the next four years, including growing the wind manufacturing sector by one third, to 46,000 American manufacturing jobs.

* There are more than 400 wind-related manufacturing plants spread across 43 states.

* The price of wind power has fallen significantly over the past 30 years and the production tax credit (PTC) plays a critical role in helping those prices continue to fall.

* Extending the PTC will help maintain the industry’s access to financing, allow developers to begin planning installations for 2013, and ensure that the best and most cost-effective projects are built. It will protect the jobs of the 75,000 Americans employed in the wind energy industry.

* Please support legislation like H.R. 3307 to extend the PTC.

Learn more about wind power and the production tax credit.

And Now a Full Court Press to Change the Law

Largest U.S. Marijuana Policy Reform Group Outlines Ambitious Plan for 2012

Now is a crucial time for marijuana reform strategy. Last year, American support for marijuana legalization reached a record high fifty-percent, evidencing mainstream support for reforming pot laws. And still, the federal government continues its attack on state medical marijuana programs, cutting off crucial access to medication for many marijuana patients, and criminalizing marijuana providers.

Marijuana Policy Project — the largest marijuana policy reform group in the United States — aims to increase public support for marijuana law and effect legislatie change, and has just recently released a $4,300,000 strategic plan for 2012. On 420 Times, Joe Klare wrote that the plan is “an ambitious list of goals that – if accomplished – will change the face of the movement forever.” It is worth a read.    Read more

By Kristen Gwynne | AlterNet
Posted on Wednesday, January 25, 2012 @ 01:02 PM

America the Biggest Arms Dealer in the World by Far

America Has Become the World’s Arms Dealer — But at What Cost to Ourselves and the World?

Last year saw the U.S. on pace to deliver more than $46 billion in foreign arms sales. Who says America isn’t number one anymore?

January 24, 2012  |





Tidbits 1.27.12

Compiled by Wm Olkowski, PhD and Republished from 1.27.12

Note from Bill:

I make these collection up out of newsletters I get when time permits, so the date above is usually a target or a date when I first started the collection.  I mention this because I just ran into another MUST READ that is on the most important frontier and its at the last moment before publication (more on it latter):

Biology and Religion and Politics by Valerie Tarico

Valerie Tarico is a psychologist and writer in Seattle, Washington. She is the author of Trusting Doubt: A Former Evangelical Looks at Old Beliefs in a New Light and Deas and Other Imaginings, and the founder of Her articles can be found at

3 Ways Conservative Christianity’s Obsessions Promote Abortions

One of the great ironies of American society is that most abortions in the U.S. are caused by conservative Christians.


The following exerpts are from David Morris article:

5 Republican Lies About Income Inequality

The Republican position on inequality rests on five statements, all false.

1. Income is not all that unequal. 

Actually it is. Since 1980 the top 1 percent has increased its share of the national income by an astounding $1.1 trillion. Today 300,000 very rich Americans enjoy almost as much income as 150 million.

In 2010, according to the Institute for Policy Studies, the average CEO in large companies earned 325 times more than the average worker.

2. Inequality doesn’t matter because in America ambition and hard work can make a pauper a millionaire.

This is folklore. A worker’s initial position in the income distribution is highly predictive of how much he or she earns later in the career. And as the Brookings Institution reports “there is growing evidence of less intergenerational economic mobility in the United States than in many other rich industrialized countries.”

The bitter fact is that it is harder for a poor person in America to become rich than in virtually any other industrialized country.

3. Income inequality is not a result of tax policy.

Nonsense. A painstaking analysis by economists Thomas Piketty, Emmanuel Saez and Stefanie Stantcheva found “a strong correlation between the reductions in top tax rates and the increases in top 1% pre-tax income shares from 1975–79 to 2004–08”. For example, the U.S. slashed the top income tax rate by 35 percent and witnessed a large ten percent increase in its top 1% pre-tax income share. “By contrast, France or Germany saw very little change in their top tax rates and their top 1% income shares during the same period.”

4. Taxing the rich will slow economic growth.

An examination of 18 OECD countries found “little empirical support for the claim that reducing the progressivity of the tax code has spurred economic growth, business formation or job growth.”

Redistributing income stimulates economies in part because when 1% make more they save whereas when the 99% make more they spend. As a result, according to Mark Zandi, chief economist for Moody’s, a dollar in tax cuts on capital gains adds .38 cents of economic growth while a dollar in unemployment benefits gives the economy a boost of $1.63 and a dollar of food stamps adds $1.73.

5. Taxing the rich would not raise much money.

Of course it would. If only the richest 400 families, whose average income in 2008 was an astounding $270 million actually paid the statutory rate of 39 percent (revived as of next January 1st) an additional $500 billion would be raised over 10 years, putting a substantial dent in the projected deficit.

In 2010 hedge fund manager John Paulson made $5 billion. That year, according to Pulitzer Prize winner David Cay Johnston, Paulson paid no income taxes. Am I envious Mr. Romney? You bet I am. But I’m also angry at the stark injustice of it all. And terrified of the power such wealth can wield in a country that allows billionaires to spend unlimited sums influencing legislation and elections.

A recent survey by the Pew Research Center found that two-thirds of Americans now believe the conflict between rich and poor is our greatest source of tension. I agree. It is a conflict that deserves to be aired fully and in public.

Why Drugs Cost More in US than Anywhere Else

Quote of the day:

“We sell iPhones in over a hundred countries,” a current Apple executive said. “We don’t have an obligation to solve America’s problems. Our only obligation is making the best product possible.”

That quote is perhaps the best encapsulation of the pathologies of the modern American corporation. In fact, Apple does have an obligation to solve America’s problems. Everyone who lives in this country has that obligation. And corporations have that obligation too. If they don’t want to help make things better, then they shouldn’t exist.


What happened to the “Apple of Old” that fought against the ruling facist faction in 1984?


Tidbit 1.28.12

Compiled by Wm Olkowski, PhD and Republished from 1.28.12

  1. Drug Policy
  2. Outsourcing
  3. Right Wing Lies – More of them
  4. Poverty – the forgotten issue
  5. Defeating Terrorists
  6. Eliminate the Electoral College
  7. Economic Policy

Drug Policy

Drug Decriminalization in Portugal:
Lessons for Creating Fair and Successful Drug Policies

by Glenn Greenwald

On July 1, 2001, a nationwide law in Portugal took effect that decriminalized all drugs, including cocaine and heroin. Under the new legal framework, all drugs were “decriminalized,” not “legalized.” Thus, drug possession for personal use and drug usage itself are still legally prohibited, but violations of those prohibitions are deemed to be exclusively administrative violations and are removed completely from the criminal realm. Drug trafficking continues to be prosecuted as a criminal offense.

While other states in the European Union have developed various forms of de facto decriminalization — whereby substances perceived to be less serious (such as cannabis) rarely lead to criminal prosecution — Portugal remains the only EU member state with a law explicitly declaring drugs to be “decriminalized.” Because more than seven years have now elapsed since enactment of Portugal’s decriminalization system, there are ample data enabling its effects to be assessed.

Imagine This:
Under current law, American companies can actually get a tax deduction for outsourcing jobs.

That’s the opposite of how it should work. President Obama is proposing to end tax deductions for outsourcing, create a new tax credit for bringing jobs home, and lower tax rates for companies that manufacture and create jobs in the United States.

5 Biggest Lies About the Right-Wing Corporate-Backed War on Our Schools

Though National School Choice Week has some liberal support, its primary backers are deeply conservative activists whose goal is to dissolve public education in the US.

Poverty – the forgotten issue

People living below the poverty line, 46 million Americans, represent 15 percent of the country, including more than one in five of the nation’s youth. And yet, as Kaufmann writes today, “in a 65-minute address describing the state of the union, President Obama decided it merited barely a mention.”–_so_why_isn%27t_anybody_saying_the_p_word/#paragraph6

Defeating Terrorists

MH: Well, I call it the “safe haven myth.” And what that means is that this idea that the best way to protect ourselves from getting attacked in the United States by terrorists is to invade and occupy other countries – that’s essentially what they mean when they say we can’t accept terrorist safe havens. And the response to the safe havens has been to expend billions of dollars and tens of thousands of American troops to try to prevent something that is quite nebulous.

I mean, it’s very clear a terrorist safe haven can be anywhere, and they are everywhere. So the notion that the best way to defeat them or to make yourself safer from a terrorist is by occupying countries always struck me as funny. How are 150,000 NATO troops in Afghanistan going to protect us from another terrorist attack? And the answer is they’re not. That hasn’t happened because all the other terrorist attacks we’ve seen, and attempted terrorist attacks, they’re not coming from Afghanistan. The terrorists have moved.

Whether they’re coming from Nigeria and Yemen or different parts of Pakistan or Connecticut, you know? The Times Square bomber, the foiled plot there, was hatched in Connecticut – is it a terrorist safe haven as well? No. And it gets to the larger point, which is that if you considered terrorism a law enforcement problem you were considered to be some sort of appeasing Neville Chamberlain type. But in fact, that’s the way to defeat terrorists.

I mean, every study shows that the way to defeat terrorist networks is through law enforcement and intelligence gathering, it’s not through invading and occupying.

The 10 Most Brazen Lies Offered By the Remaining GOP Presidential Hopefuls

Just because some of its wheels have come flying off, that doesn’t mean the GOP clown car isn’t still moving down the road toward Election Day.

January 26, 2012  |

Americans are still struggling to come to terms with the loss they felt as the wackier GOP candidates fell by the wayside. For pure entertainment value, the mendacity they offered on the campaign trail couldn’t be beat.

Electorial Reform

Eliminate the Electoral College

The good part is that we get to see what total corporate fascism looks like in our own lifetimes,” Rushkoff wisecracked. “We don’t have to imagine this as something that happens to our grandkids, and worry about the future. But the chief concern is that the evolution of the corporation to personhood, and corresponding devolution of humans to disempowered drones, has advanced even further than I would have imagined.”

Economic Policy




Consider the Ant and Be Wise

A conversation with the Entomological Philosopher, Wm Olkowski, PhD

Republished from 2.1.12

“Consider the Ant” is good advice.  After all, as social experiments go, ant colony life looks robust.  Ants go back, way back, when Insects started in or before the Cambrian Geological period almost 400 million years ago (mya).  So they must have experimented and learned a bunch over the million of years, right? Well, from my view it’s a heartless social organization, not worth emulating.  But one can learn from almost any bad idea.

The ant, remember is not one species.  Estimates for the number of ant species run over 9,000 species so far (see Wilson’s famous book on the Ants of the World). Will we fragment into 9,000 species of humans?  We certainly can’t get along with each other, much like ants, who raid and kill each other, take war victims, have slave raids, and just march out of the colony to die when its time.  And many people operate just like ants with someone else calling the shots.

An Exception

One exception amongst so many is the Argentine Ant, Linepithema humile (Iridomyrmex humulis), common throughout the southern US and elsewhere by now.  This species does not war between colonies, but interrelates.  Queens walk off with a few hundred or so workers and start up another colony.  Basically it’s one giant, giant, giant, etc., ant colony from coast to coast.  These omnivorous species, accidentally introduced to N. America in coffee shipments from Brazil are really beneficial species as they attack the troublesome fire ants and subterranean termites.  To get them to attack a termite nest you have to help them along by opening the termite nest at one of its branches.  I did this once and watched the ants swarm into the nest eliminating it.  Could the bothersome house invader from S. America be a good model for us humans?  We could get along with each other if there were fewer of us, maybe.  Or do we need evolutionary changes?

What Have the Ants Learned So Far?

And what have all those ants all learned so far?  What have they learned that we can learn from? They are certainly older than us mammals, but that means they have shifted enough, species-wise, to get thru some mighty big environmental changes.  We mammals got thru the last few ice ages probably by eating meat, and the age of the dinosaurs by going underground.  We made it thru many thousands of years of drought, which is a good start, but we were near extinction many times.  And for the big changes ahead we look rather poorly prepared.  At least something was in control of ant colony life – the queen, with her hormones and directing pheromones.

But the automation evident in ant colonies leaves me feeling vapid.  I don’t want that kind of limited life for me as an individual.  So we mammals bought freedom with pain and suffering.  Still, maybe ants have pain and suffering, too.  Other vertebrate animals I have known certainly suffer pain, sadness, loneliness, and fear.  Invertebrates, I don’t know.  Bees are certainly smart.

Lessons from Sheep

We learned a great deal from sheep when we were sheepherders in the 1990s.  One stormy night with high frequency of lightning I got worried about how the sheep were doing.  Once you take on sheep you get to really know what dependency means.  You are responsible for food, water, their health, shelter, and even their emotions, especially fear.  Your job is providing freedom, freedom from famine, thirst, disease and fear.

They give you in return meat, wool, and each mouth a mowing machine.   But there’s no day off.  And they will all die if they think it’s a good idea.  You can surely see that it’s a symbiotic relationship.  You must even worry about when they worry and it’s detectable.

A Night in a Rainstorm on a Ridge above the Sacramento Valley, CA

So this night with a rainstorm falling full of lightning I go up the hill and there they all are huddled around a donkey.  We kept donkeys with our sheep to protect them from coyotes and mountain lions.  Never lost any to these feared predators for well over the 5-8 years we had donkey protection.  An aside: donkeys are cheaper than guard dogs, as donkeys can eat grasses; dogs need dog food, a purchased item.

So I am in the pasture with the sheep and donkeys, rain is falling heavily and lightning is coming less than 5-10 seconds apart.  The light creates recognizable walls of silhouettes.   I know that the shorter the time between flashes the closer the lightning, and I get some fear.  But the sheep are virtually shoulder-to-shoulder to the two guard donkeys.  Normally sheep and donkeys don’t like each other but tolerate the other species.  We force them together but given the choice there would not be symbiotic.  The sheep have made a good decision.  If the lightning hits it will hit the higher headed donkeys.  Once I realize I am standing too tall for safety I go back to bed.

Ants Shift for Humans?

Should we switch to an ant-like colonial life, or will we remain like human-sheep?  Maybe it’s a matter of the known enemy is better than the unknown enemy, or something like that.  I like the idea of division of labor, but to make it a caste inherited by birth (=genes) is too strict. Hindu society was structured like that but it’s an obvious violation of freedom for those on the bottom.

Our civilization makes it even more difficult than merely a matter of freedom.  Ours just lets those on the bottom starve and die from lack of help.  And we just keep on reproducing without any deliberate brakes.  But disease knows no boundaries for the most part.  Sure the elites can hide behind their walls but microbes can sneak in without being seen.  We are all connected, ants, sheep and humans.  What we do to the web we do to ourselves.

Organize Behind Freedom?

Freedom is a good idea.  Freedom, without pain and suffering produced by freedom is the best.  This maybe the only way forward as a criterion for any social/political/genetic changes now contemplated.   One guy I heard wants to use stem cell research by applying it to add wings to the human body.  That’s so wild an idea that I am sure it’s for attention purposes.  But freedom or even wings cannot be imposed unless people want it.  Most people make the cage they live within.  They even get to like it.  But that’s the bad angel of my nature speaking up.  Got to watch out for him, or is it a her?

Organize Around Compassion?

And then there is compassion.  Do ants have compassion?
The real tragedy of the fight over evolution instigated by the right wing crazy religious nuts is that evolution is a cruel process I feel we must, as humane people, resist.  If that is part of the law of life I don’t want it, so in a way, me and the religious nuts overlap.  But how can you resist something you don’t know anything about and even refuse to learn about?  These people don’t know evolution exists because they are using all their mental energy to resist knowing about it and how it works.  Sure, the geological and archeological record is wrong.  The earth and all its being was created in 6 days about 6,000 years ago.  When myths compete for knowledge we are in trouble.

I am for medical interventions as a way to reduce pain and suffering. This sort of thing is a cultural creation, but still due to the same forces of evolution.  So cultural evolution fights traditional evolution, the dog-eat-dog evolution of Darwin.  Ants don’t have medical interventions.  In fact ants maybe model bureaucrats but it looks dull to me.  But having only one female to produce most young maybe is a good idea as the birth rate could be regulated more easily than if every female can reproduce willy-nilly.

And ants have chemical evolution as their principle communication system (and sight); we have sound and sight.  We both have tactile communications as well.  So when two ants meet of the same colony they smell each other, sometimes share food, feces when young, and touch.  This keeps them organized as food searchers, nurses, soldiers, and kings or queens.  Our boundaries are more fluid and redefinable as situations change.


But the phrase – from the Bible I think – about considering the ant has that other rider about Being Wise.  So where is the wisdom in the ant world?  Could it be in the vast experimentation done in organizing the colony?  Could the colony be the agent of evolution that is favored or selected out as the colony meets the exigencies of living?  I think the agent of evolution is the colony not the individual alone.  It’s both.  And that is a bit of wisdom applicable to humans.  We need to learn how to cooperate.  There the ant has a long time ahead of us.  The individuals gave up their reproductive actions to focus on the job of maintaining a living.  But it turn out they did not give up too much as their fellow workers are all sisters.  So by helping a sister and not reproducing yourself you can make a good life.  Is that their learned message?

Wisdom is the love of knowledge and is gained by applying knowledge and seeing that there is more to be learned.  There is always more to be learned.  And nobody has learned it all, nor will.  And that’s one of the great truths from a search for wisdom.  You never get there because it recedes like all ideals.  It’s in the search where the fun is.  Oh, well back to the search.  End.


Viruses, Plagues and History, Past Present and Future

2010.  Oldstone, M.B.A.  Oxford, 383 pp.

a book review by Wm Olkowski, PhD

Viral information is critical in today’s world of rapid transport.  The first epidemic of the 21st century was SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome), which originated in south China and jumped to Canada days after the first index case.  With SARS we were lucky.  But SARS demonstrates how viruses can move rapidly around the globe, threatening people who know virtually nothing about it, where it came from nor what to do about it.  This, with the potential to overwhelm all local medical services means potential catastrophe.

Viruses are big killers even if one leaves out HIV/AIDs, the biggest killer in the world today (in the U.S. 40,000 new cases per year, most infected people do not know they are infected).  Mandatory assays at ER’s around the country have been denied funding from insurance companies.  How short sighted.  A public supported health care system would not be so stupid, maybe.

Funny how disease gets a back burner, mostly to military activities, yet causes more harm than all the military destruction combined.  And the military gets the bulk of the money.  Yet, most people are unaware of how these diseases caused historical changes and raised current costs in pain and suffering as well as financial losses from disabled people and disease treatments.  An AIDS case detected early will stand to cost $600,000 over the lifetime remaining only for treatment, no cure (estimate based on $25k/yr for 25 years).

This book can update and educate about the biggest threats to humanity and civilization today, AIDS is covered in detail, including the one time controversy over its causal agent, now widely acknowledged to be a virus that jumped from monkeys to humans.  Such threats will remain with an increasing number of viruses as our population continues to push into new undeveloped areas and continues to eat bush meat, for example.

Recent advances in knowledge concerning viruses and past learnings from previous epidemics are covered.  But many don’t know that a consensus is developing that viruses are involved with about 20% of cancer cases.  Consider that about 25% of the known 600 viruses causing diseases in animals are cancer producers.  Makes you think, maybe.

With the current ignorant antivaccine popular push will come some consequences that nobody who is antivaccine is covering.  This antivaccine trend seems set up by the rather excessive demands on simultaneous vaccinations of preschool children as a prerequisite for kindergarten.  Too many vaccines at the same time maybe a problem but a more serious breakdown between scientists and the public is an even greater threat.  Without the science we have only prayer and we all know how well that works.  More involvement from the public is needed in scientific programs.

What Causes Disease?

The first part of the book is a brief overview of human history from the standpoint of our beliefs about causation and how science brought clarity and knowledge where god’s vengeance and terror were taught by religious authorities (with threats of death and torture).  Going over the steady but significant discoveries in disease causation starting in the late 1800s tells the story of science like no other.  There is an inserted 22-page summary of the important events and discoveries starting with Hippocrates in 400 BC going up to the planned eradication of polio by 2015.  This table of events presents the details of a worldwide process of medical research and investigation of great importance to humanity and represents some of the fruits of the enlightenment, now being eroded by ignorant religious teachers.

Will rationalism prevail today?  I have hopes but knowledge and education is what is needed and has always been needed.  But it has always been in limited supply.

Knowledge in Place of Fear?

Who knows?  But putting some attention on the facts could help displace fear.  Hey there’s a good slogan, Knowledge in Place of Fear. Reading how the world cooperated in four world-wide campaigns mostly based on vaccines has virtually eliminated smallpox, poliomyelitis, measles and yellow fever from the planet.  More remains to be done, however.  But all these remain in the background ready to flare up again, unfortunately.

The Russian Experience

All of these maladies could be eliminated from the planet if we could agree to do so.  But the lessons from our agreement with Russia concerning biowarfare must not be forgotten.  Russia said it was reducing its commitments in biowarfare yet was very busy building microbial agents for dissemination via rocket while we were disbanding our biowarfare research units.  While we were doing this good thing Russia had weaponized smallpox so cultures were ready to fly with the outbreak of war.  Weaponizing means creating high virulence and dispersal capabilities so only one viral colony (or bacterial colony) needs to be delivered to each metropolitan area.  I just wondered how really close we came to destroying ourselves.

And we are still tempting the fates, now with rogue nations who are probably developing microbial warfare capabilities with the residue from the now disbanded microbial research units in Russia.

The first part of the book also covers a short intro to virology and immunology.  Both are difficult subjects but are presented so someone without special training can follow the ideas.

Part two covers the big four: smallpox, measles, polio, and yellow fever.  Measles remains the biggest threat because new cases are introduced into previously vaccinated and protected populations.  So without threat of disease vaccination is abandoned.  Introducing a new agent into a population without protection can be devastating.  Measles is a different most serious disease for an adult.  Most people now are protected from previous vaccinations.  And these people are now not realizing they should continue getting vaccinated, especially as adult measles can kill and certainly maim.

All the other virus diseases are covered in the next 9 chapters: haemorrhagic fevers, Lassa Fever, Ebola, Hantavirus, SARS, West Nile Virus, HIV/AIDS, Mad Cow, and Influenza.  The last chapter talks about the future.

The Future

Close, constant and rigorous surveillance will be needed by all the countries of the world.  Disease knows no political barriers.  Viruses can be expected to jump from animal reservoirs to other wildlife (like West Nile Viruses killing North American birds) and to humans like influenza viruses that go from birds to pigs and to humans.  Yellow fever may be reintroduced to North America as measles does now periodically.  Climate warming and zone shifting will cause movement of vectors north.  Infections, however small, represent emergencies as the faster the response the smaller potential outbreak.  China delayed notice about SARS and all the contact cases from the only index case were found quickly and quarantined for treatment in Canada, mostly.  That was a close one.

The whole subject of slow viruses, i.e., mad cow, BSE, scrapie, CJD is another frightening threat.  Mad cow disease has been found in the US, for example, but only in one cow.  But unlike England and Europe we are not testing all beef being reared in the US because of the cost.  So just how bad the situation is in the US is unknown as nobody is looking.  There is no required surveillance.  England, where the most recent outbreaks were discover did the testing and killed thousands of infected cattle with great loss, but they contained the spread in humans.

Also, estimates place a 50-year incubation period on the mad cow infection, believed to be a miss folded infectious protein called a prion.  Younger people have been found with the prion but still the beef industry fights back.  Their attitude is prevention is too costly, wait for the disease, then sample and treat.  I eat grass fed organic beef, just in case.  I think it’s a matter of time before mad cow is acknowledged as being here in the US.  And since virology is still rather a young science one may expect some surprises yet from this frontier in public health.




Civil Rights 2.7.12

compiled by Wm Olkowski  republished from 2.07.12 for shelter and outdoor camping in SB – a social group

Goodbye Press Freedoms: More Journalists Arrested Covering Occupy, Occupy Tweets Subpoenaed

Since the Occupy protests began, more and more members of the press have been arrested, harassed, or kept from covering evictions– raising serious First Amendment alarm bells. Indeed, the US has plummeted to 47th in the world for press freedoms thanks to the law enforcement reaction to those who cover Occupy.

A new campaign from asks supporters to take a stand:

“So far more than 50 journalists, including eight last week, have been arrested in the U.S. while covering the Occupy Wall Street movement. Last Wednesday a documentary filmmaker was arrested for trying to film a congressional hearing; another had his footage erased by police.”    Read more

By Sarah Seltzer | AlterNet
Posted on Tuesday, February 7, 2012 @ 09:17 AM

Election Reform

Changing the Way America Pays for Elections

Clean Elections give citizens a greater voice in their government, while greatly reducing the undue influence of special interest money in politics.  Clean Elections-style reforms in Maine, Arizona, New Mexico, Connecticut, North Carolina, and New Jersey have proven effective and popular with voters and candidates alike.

Recent Common Cause-backed victories include:

  • New Mexico enacted Clean Elections for judicial races, and Albuquerque did it for municipal races.
  • New Jersey improved and reauthorized its Clean Elections pilot project for a handful of legislative races.
  • North Carolina passed a Clean Elections pilot project for down-ticket statewide offices.

Click for more…

Other Campaign Finance Reforms

Reducing the Influence of Big Money

  • Political Conventions
  • Presidential Public Financing
  • FEC Reform
  • Ending Pay-to-Play

American Legislative Exchange Council

Some of the nation’s largest and richest companies, including Wal-Mart, Coca-Cola, Koch Industries and AT&T, have joined forces to invest millions of dollars each year to promote the careers of thousands of state legislators and secure passage of legislation that puts corporate interests ahead of the interests of ordinary Americans.

Click for more…

So boycott AT and T, Wal-mart, Coca-Cola, Koch Industries.

If you havn’t seen the dollar signs projected on the surpreme court building see it here:

Environmental Tidbits

compiled by Wm Olkowski  republished from 1.29.12

A number of city and state legislatures are coming to the same conclusion. Depending on the climate and the size of the yard, graywater reuse can lower a household’s total consumption by as much as 40%. In November, Pacific Institute, which is an influencing water conservation research group, said that graywater reuse was an important strategy in improving a city’s water resiliency against climate change. At a time of tight budgets, increased graywater usage could reduce the need for cities to spend money on costly new water supply projects. “It’s almost at the tipping point where there are more states in the west that have graywater regulations than those that do,” says Val Little, director of the Water Conservation Alliance for Southern Arizona (Water CASA).


Read more:,28804,2026474_2026675_2055576,00.html #ixzz1m1DIU2LO

The blood of nearly every American contains hundreds of toxic chemicals, including those used in flame retardants, food packaging and even rocket fuel.

They may be in your drinking water. According to the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, 9% to 34% of U.S. drinking water supply sources tested contain one or more toxic chemicals.



  • BPA is used in many products, everything from food can linings to credit card receipts
  • It’s linked to infertilitylow birth weightbreast and prostate cancer, and metabolic disorders
  • 97% of Americans have BPA present in their bloodstream
  • Scientists have even found BPA in the blood of newborn babies


EDF is proud to be a founding member of theSafer Chemicals, Healthy Families coalition, a nationwide effort to pass smart federal policies that protect us from toxic chemicals. Many coalition partners are central to our I am Not a Guinea Pig campaign, including:

  • Autism Society
  • Healthcare without Harm
  • Learning Disabilities Assoc. of America
  • Moms Rising
  • Reproductive Health Technologies Project
  • Teens Turning Green

The coalition also includes many other individuals, organizations and businesses representing over 11 million Americans.

On April 14, 2011, Senator Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) introduced the Safe Chemicals Act of 2011 (S. 847), a comprehensive bill aimed at revamping the decades-old Toxic Substances Control Act.

Bill proposes vital changes to law

The Senate bill goes a long way toward bringing our chemicals policy into the 21st century. Some highlights:

  • Remove “grandfather” loophole. The bills close the loophole that has allowed 62,000 older synthetic chemicals to remain untested, by requiring them to be tested in order to stay on the market.
  • Shift the burden of proof to chemical companies.Companies would be required to prove their chemicals are safe. Currently under TSCA, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is required to prove a chemical is harmful before it can impose any controls.
  • Inform the public and the market about chemicals. The bills would limit companies’ ability to hide information about toxic chemicals and would establish an Internet-based public database.
  • Prioritize action for chemicals of high concern. Chemicals of high concern would be subject to expedited actions to reduce their use or exposure to them, or expedited safety determinations.

Health advocates, industry back reform but differences remain

For the first time, Congress’s attempt to reform our nation’s system for regulating toxic chemicals has the support of the chemical industry as well as public health advocates. But some significant differences remain over what shape that reform will take.


  • Public disclosure of safety information for all chemicals in use
  • Prompt action to phaseout or reduce the most dangerous chemicals
  • Deciding safety based on real-world exposure to all sources of toxic chemicals


  • Limited testing of a handful of chemicals, leaving us in the dark about most safety hazards
  • More lengthy and costly studies of chemicals already proven to be dangerous
  • An assumption that we’re only exposed to one chemical at a time from one source at a time


News From the Field 
Overgrazed Grasslands Tied to Locust Outbreaks

January 26, 2012

While residents of the United States and much of Europe think of locust plagues as biblical references, locust swarms still have devastating effects on agriculture today, especially in developing countries in Asia and Africa. In a study released today, scientists from Arizona State University and the Chinese Academy of Sciences show that insect nutrition and agricultural land management practices may partially explain modern day locust outbreaks. Full Story

Another Religion Misinformation Campaign

Manning is a member of the National Science Teachers Association. Last year an online poll of its 60,000 members found that 82 percent had faced skepticism about climate change from students and 54 percent had faced skepticism from parents. Some respondents added comments: Students believe whatever it is their parents believe. . . . Administrators roll over when parents object. In a recent survey of about 1,900 current and former teachers by the National Earth Science Teachers Association, 36 percent reported they had been influenced directly or indirectly to teach “both sides” of the issue.

“We have been hearing for several years now that teachers were getting pushback on teaching climate change, and some of the playbook used by those promoting teaching ‘both sides’ was very similar to the attempt to have evolution ‘balanced’ by creationism and intelligent design,” said Mark McCaffrey, who is spearheading the Center’s new initiative. “From my experience working with teachers, it is clear that the so-called ‘controversy’ about climate change science is a major impediment to teachers and the polarized political climate around teaching the topic is a big problem.”

McCaffrey is a pioneer in climate change education. He’s cofounder of the Climate Literacy Network and while at the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences (CIRES) helped develop the Essential Principles of Climate Science, endorsed by the federal government’s U.S. Global Change Research Program.


The Farm Bill

Federal policy has a huge impact on U.S. agriculture, and this impact is largely shaped by the provisions of the Farm Bill, which is revised and reauthorized every five years. It is due to come before Congress in 2012. Find out what our experts would like to see in the next Farm Bill–and how you can help.
More about the Farm Bill

Antibiotic Misuse

Research has shown that in the U.S., more antibiotics are given to healthy animals than to sick humans. Meanwhile, antibiotic resistance is a growing problem with consequences that can be deadly. Read about how these two phenomena are connected–and what we can do about it.
More about antibiotics in agriculture

Genetic Engineering

Genetic engineering in agriculture has failed to deliver on many of its promised benefits, and has produced some serious unintended consequences. Yet the USDA seems determined to regulate GMOs as little as possible.
More about genetic engineering in agriculture