Chinas Fault

Some stories, such as corpse custody battles between sleazy lawyers and semi-literate Texas trailer trash et al, the US news media handle really well. On others, such as goings-on in the worlds financial markets, they dont have a clue.

Thus the media saw the big February 27 decline in the Chinese stock market followed by a big decline in the US and in other world financial markets that same day, and decided that being coincident equaling being causative was a concept that the US public could get its mind around pretty easily. Suddenly its all Chinas fault.

The Federation of Southern Cooperatives

Domestic or international? One of my most lasting memories from my visit with the Federation of Southern Cooperatives in Georgia last summer was a profound sense of commonality.

When I embarked on developing a Domestic Fair Trade program at Equal Exchange, some people questioned whether small farmers in our own country really experience the same struggles as coffee growers in the developing world. While I knew intellectually that rural communities around the world are being devastated by globalization in similar ways, I wasnt prepared for the degree to which this was confirmed during my visit with Federation of Southern Cooperatives.

What can I do?

In just a few years, sustainability has changed from a What? word to a buzzword. People are recognizing the threats to our resources water, air, soil, forests as evidenced by the tremendous public response to the recent documentary An Inconvenient Truth, which won an Oscar this week. We cant sustain our planet, much less ourselves, with current practices.

Its a common human response to a huge potential disaster to say, What can I do? Im only one person.

Ben Haggard, a master gardener, teacher and consultant in the Southwest whose 1993 book, Living Community: A Permaculture Case Study at Sol y Sombra, details his work on the garden of that name in Santa Fe, N.M.

Pedestrian-based intentional community

Some labels are content with modest periphery pursuits hosting a club night, printing some t-shirts, rallying a street team while a few have substantially grander designs.

Upping the ante set by Omahas Saddle Creek who, as reported in August, have a serious civic project in the works Athens, Georgias Elephant 6-affiliated Orange Twin imprint has just received the go-ahead from the city and surrounding countys mayor to embark on an ambitious community endeavor.

In the works for some time now, the Orange Twin Conservation Community will consist of a 155 acre pedestrian-based intentional community of homes and common spaces clustered in two villages amid farmland and forest just a few miles outside Athens.

Battering through generations

Experts say domestic violence is a learned behavior, batterers choose to be violent, and the abuse is passed on from generation to generation.

We talked to an abuser who the Vermont Department of Corrections did not want us to identify.

When I was in relationships, I viewed women as caretakers. Men were in charge, said James. Basically my partners were there to make me happy.

Age of narcissism

A little smug self-absorption might be a time-honored trait of at least some subsets of the under-30 crowd.

But over the past few decades the prevailing disposition among college students today labeled Generation Y or Millennials has slid into full-blown narcissism, according to a study released this week.

The all about me shift means much more than lots of traffic at self-revelatory Web sites such as YouTube and Facebook. It points, says the studys author, to a generations lack of empathy, its inability to form relationships and worse.

The fantasy

State of Denial is the title of Bob Woodwards famous book on the Bush teams road to disaster in Iraq, but it would have served just as well for a description of their Latin America policy. This week President Bush heads South for a seven-day, five country, trip to Latin America to see if he can counter the populist political tide that has brought left governments to about half the population of the region.

Carrying vague promises of a joint effort on ethanol production but no offer to lower tariffs protecting the U.S. market President Bush hopes to entice Brazil into taking his side against his nemesis, President Hugo Chavez of Venezuela. This is a fantasy.


In 1992, while I was an undergraduate, I was raped by a fellow student while we were both drunk. He was not a date. I didnt even like him when we were sober. But we were at a party together, a party at which I tried too hard to keep up with my friends in the alcohol department and wound up far more drunk than I wanted to be. So I went back to my room. And he followed me. And then he raped me.

Looking back, I can imagine a number of social or institutional interventions which might have helped prevent this attack from happening. But none of them includes the approach that so many articles on this subject take, which is to raise awareness among young women that getting drunk in public puts them at greater risk of exploitation and sexual assault.

U.S. financial markets were rocked last week by worries about the soundness of the sub-primeor higher riskmortgage market.

Doris Douglas can tell you from personal experience what the jitters are about. The 55-year-old mother of three grown children signed her first mortgage without reading the fine print seven years ago.

I thought it was a 30-year mortgage, said Douglas, whose house is near Chattanooga, Tenn., in the Appalachians.

The hair thang

This past winter, I noticed something very unsettling while I was visiting my family in St. Louis.

Almost all the black women I encountered were sporting lavishly long hair weaves, fake locks that can add length and volume after being sewed or glued to the scalp. Weaves come in straight, curly and kinky textures. But most black women with weaves wear them to extend and straighten the appearance of their naturally coiled and nappy hair.

Everywhere I turned, from the church to the mall, black women suited up in this straight-hair uniform. Was I missing something? I thought. Would my close-cut Afro set me too far apart from other black women?

Natural, kinky hairwhich is most associated with blacknesshas also been tied to inferiority in the United States. We can thank entrepreneur Madam C.J. Walker, the late 19th century inventor of the hot pressing combliterally a comb-shaped ironfor the subsequent years of black women burning their disobedient hair into submission.

Anomolous numbers on petrloeum

Bartiromo asked Tillerson how Exxon could be expected to keep growing its reserves of oil and gas when $20 billion a year in capital spending through the rest of this decade will only result in an extra one million barrels a day in production volume, according to Exxon?s estimates.

Tillerson didn?t really answer the question, merely repeating his assertion that Exxon?s volumes will keep growing through the end of the decade. In a later exchange, he added that the world?s oil would not run out in his lifetime.

Oil, equity, finance capital

We also used to see a steep, sharp rise in the price of oil adversely affecting equities. Any oil shock, say, over a war, would mean higher costs passing through to companies, and therefore the market would sell off shares in anticipation of a downturn. Again this is no longer the case. There are several reasons.

Firstly, the market is not logical and those in the know realise this. It no longer sounds convincing to come out with grand resolute theories about the relationship between energy and equity. Instead technical plays and software are much more reliable, making money off of percentage bets, good old Tony Soprano skimming, placed by a computer. The whole process is far more successful. Time and time again we see software setting the pace and computers have their own logic which only studies the now, not the future or the past.

Subprime splash and bubbles

It was perfect example of a classical blow off. Unprecedented level of bad loans was made. The history never saw anything like this before since the collapse of Roman Empire The boom in bad subprime lending was fueled by the Wall Street banks and hedge funds.

The net effect was super bubble in real estate that Fed finally called a froth on the surface. The froth or bubble has finally blow off in a classic style. The homeowners just cannot make the payments. As these properties go on foreclosure, other properties are depressed. The able borrowers now decide to give up their properties because they are dealing with hefty monthly mortgage payments and negative equities in their homes.

Preparing to take back your land

Hold on to your assets. The deepest housing decline in 16 years is about to get worse.

As many as 1.5 million more Americans may lose their homes, another 100,000 people in housing-related industries could be fired, and an estimated 100 additional subprime mortgage companies that lend money to people with bad or limited credit may go under, according to realtors, economists, analysts and a Federal Reserve governor. Financial stocks also could extend their declines over mortgage default worries.

The spring buying season, when more than half of all U.S. home sales are made, has been so disappointing that the National Association of Home Builders in Washington now expects purchases to fall for the sixth consecutive quarter after it predicted a gain just last month.