Archive for February, 2012

Waking Dream World Nightmare

Saturday, February 25th, 2012

This body falling apart business is for the birds. I am not amused. Last night I had my first night in a while without my prescription pain killers. I took all this non-prescription stuff, melatonin, valerian, Tylenol PM and Diphenhydramine (Benadryl). I must have taken three of each. I ended up hallucinating and talking to the walls. I didn’t sleep until dawn, and then the whole day I was groggy. It is now after six in the evening and I am just now feeling alert enough to go outside without causing harm to myself or anyone who happens to pass my way. I sure as hell miss my one narcotic pain pill a night regimen. Rather than deal with the side effects of those pills, I am going to simply try not sleeping and just napping. I certainly won’t be able to sleep tonight.
On top of that I have an infection in my catheter site, and I have to do manual dialysis 4 times a day. It’s nice not to be hooked up to that machine every night, but it seems like every time I look at the clock it’s time to do another treatment. I am doing one as I write. So what is the big deal you might say. After all I can write or read or sleep while on a treatment. Often though I am so tired all I do is vegetate in front of the tube.
To quote a Pixies tune “Where is my mind?” Gone fishing, I don’t know, I feel it waiting back there, somewhere, mostly in my dreams it seems, more than in my daily life which is a routine of eating, sleeping, taking pills, doing dialysis, washing, cleaning, grocery shopping, going to school, studying and maybe once a week if I am lucky going out with my girlfriend. I am hardly ever inspired to write. I am always feeling pushed around by time, that tyrant, that school yard bully, never letting you forget that there ain’t no time for fooling around, bub.
No smelling the roses for you. Anybody ever notice that roses don’t have a scent anymore? The only roses I know of with a nice sweet scent are the ones at my former landlord’s house, he inherited them when he bought the place and those roses are the sweetest ever. It’s the smell, “a rose by any other name would smell as sweet”. Now it’s just ‘a rose is a rose is a rose’. Who cares if they don’t smell like anything other than cardboard. That is the universal modern smell for prepackaged food and flowers. Is it true, the universe is getting blander; every day we see commercials on the tube telling us how great our lives are, we see beautiful people going places on their trail bikes, hang gliding their way to the latest vacation spot. Vegas baby, the whole world has become one big glitzy commercial for places you and I can’t afford. Impoverishment of the physical world was predicted by so many novelists and sensitive souls a century ago. They could only imagine. We are now living with it after the devastating world wars, and now the continuous war state, for those who want to tune in. Most of us are tuned to the survival mode, and the cheap entertainment of reality TV, real life as captured on screen for you to watch real life captured on a screen on a screen until there is nothing but the mediated image, it is in your mind, and this life, this shadow life with its cardboard reality shuffle of images, see, that is a rose, now that is a cat, now that is a bingo parlor… all cardboard imitations, copies of stereotypes of what was once a dynamic reality.

I have to feel pain, to know I am alive. It’s unfortunate, but it seems to be true. The rest is just a projection of a dream that has been mediated and reproduced for your entertainment. I wonder who is really entertained by all this. Maybe the aliens like Earthling TV. Maybe they like our blank cardboard minds, drifting from work dreamscape to home dreamscape. Now they have computer games you can play as you walk down the street and see virtual landscapes interposed in the so called real world. Cardboard on cardboard. A rose is a rose is a rose.

I Got Tired And Stuff

Wednesday, February 22nd, 2012

Or something. I was all psyched about doing the revolution, I was going to meetings and demonstrations, but as soon as school started I dropped out or should I say in. I had classes on the nights when we had been meeting to plan the general strike and so here I am now sitting in bed with the dialysis machine on and Family Guy on the Cartoon Network. I just read an article about a Pavement reunion and read about the Indie music scene circa 2000 and wondered if I too could return to those golden days of my youth when I managed bands and ran clubs. Ha. I can’t even bring myself to go to local poetry readings, how can I be expected to listen to noise! I am impressed with that Willis song on the Fiat commercial, “Smokescreen.” I get my new music from NPR now. Pretty pathetic, but what do you expect for a middleaged guy who only listens to music when my girlfriend puts her hiphop stations on.

So what happened? My revolutionary spirit has been reverse-osmosised into a teenage brain death in the form of a late fifties semi-adult. I think it is just because I have been waiting for so long for something like the Occupy movement, that the reality doesn’t match the revolutionary fantasy in my head. But that is not exactly right. It is more like I am just no longer interested in hanging out in meetings with dozens of other radicals planning a revolution as if it was going to happen. Even though we are much further along than we would have been, it is not exactly St. Petersburg 1917. Conditions in the USA are just not that bad. Sure we have a shortage of jobs, but as long as there are unemployment extended benefits and social security and Medicare, well we are in a lot better shape than people in most of the world, except Europe and Japan where they are resisting the squeeze better than the Americans are.

Don’t get me started. Oooh. Once I start on my radical roll, I can go on, for quite a while, but honestly, I am tired. I can’t do revolution, school and dialysis. I can do revolution and school, or school and dialysis, but not revolution, school and dialysis. I just don’t have the energy. Sad, but true, perhaps if I was more desperate, down to my last dollar, but hell I know what I would do then, get a job.

India Free Trade With EU, Iran Policy, Generic Drug Availability, & Economic Growth

Sunday, February 12th, 2012

From NKH World

India’s Slowing Growth Rate

150 million middle class, lower middle class perhaps $1800-$4000 income they can afford the Tata Nano a $2900 car and a $46 dollar computer tablet called the Aakash, 40% live on $1-$2 a day, retail market worth $650 billion now. India is a leader in low cost consumer items will help boost the Indian economy by focusing more on domestic consumption than just exports. With 60% of population in agricultural sector and 54% still making less than $2000 a year, the majority of the population are still living in extreme poverty. Growth in India has slowed to 6.9% due to slow down in US and European economies. Goal in India is a 9% growth rate. Right now that is the inflation rate.


“Next big spenders: India’s middle class
May 19, 2007 by Diana Farrell and Eric Beinhocker

One of our most striking findings is how dramatically recent growth has reduced the numbers of the poorest Indians, a group we call the deprived. They earn less than 90,000 Indian rupees a year ($1,969 per household, or about a dollar per person per day), and include subsistence farmers and unskilled laborers who often struggle to find work. They can be found across India, from its isolated villages to its sprawling urban slums. Many depend on government-subsidized food to get enough calories each day. Since 1985, the ranks of the deprived have fallen from 93 percent to 54 percent of the population, as 103 million people moved out of desperate poverty and many millions more were born into less grim circumstances. When we factor in population growth, there are 431 million fewer deprived Indians today than there would have been had the poverty rate remained stuck at its earlier level, making India’s economic reforms the most effective antipoverty program in its history. If growth continues at its recent pace, we expect a further 291 million people to move out of poverty over the next two decades. Most of these former poor will move into the class we call the aspirers, households earning between 90,000 and 200,000 rupees ($1,969-$4,376) per year. Aspirers are typically small shopkeepers, farmers with their own modest landholdings or semiskilled industrial and service workers. Their lives are not easy, but aspirers generally have enough food and might own items such as a small television, a propane stove and an electric rod for heating water. They spend about half of their income on basic necessities, and many of their other purchases are bought secondhand or in what Indians call the “informal economy.” Over the next 20 years this group will shrink from 41 percent of the population to 36 percent, as many of them move up into the middle class.

The next two groups—seekers, earning between 200,000 and 500,000 rupees ($4,376- $10,941), and strivers, with incomes of between 500,000 and 1 million rupees ($10,941-$21,882)—will become India’s huge new middle class. While their incomes would place them below the poverty line in the United States, things are much cheaper in India. When the local cost of living is taken into account, the income of the seekers and strivers looks more like $23,000 to $118,000, which is middle class by most developed-country standards. Seekers range from young college graduates to mid-level government officials, traders and business people. They enjoy a lifestyle that most of the world would recognize as middle class and typically own a television, a refrigerator, a mobile phone and perhaps even a scooter or a car. Although their budgets are stretched, they scrimp and save for their children’s education and their own retirement.

Strivers, the upper end of the middle class, tend to be senior government officials, managers of large businesses, professionals and rich farmers. Successful and upwardly mobile, they are highly brand-conscious, buying the latest foreign-made cars and electronic gadgets. They are likely to have air conditioning, and can indulge in an annual vacation, usually somewhere in India.

The middle class currently numbers some 50 million people, but by 2025 will have expanded dramatically to 583 million people—some 41 percent of the population. These households will see their incomes balloon to 51.5 trillion rupees ($1.1 billion)—11 times the level of today and 58 percent of total Indian income.

The other major spending force in India’s new consumer market will be our last segment—the global Indians, earning more than 1 million rupees ($21,882, or $118,000, taking into account the cost of living). These are senior corporate executives, large business owners, high-end professionals, politicians and big agricultural-land owners. Today there are just 1.2 million global Indian households accounting for some 2 trillion rupees in spending power. But a new breed of ferociously upwardly mobile Indians is emerging—young graduates of India’s top colleges who can command large salaries from Indian and foreign multinationals. Their tastes are indistinguishable from those of prosperous young Westerners—many own high-end luxury cars and wear designer clothes, employ maids and full-time cooks, and regularly vacation abroad. By 2025, there will be 9.5 million Indians in this class and their spending power will hit 14.1 trillion rupees—20 percent of total Indian consumption.”


EU-India deal to ban generic drugs angers the HIV-positive

Samanth Subramanian

Mar 3, 2011

The EU is pushing for a measure known as “data exclusivity”, which would be able to knock generics off the market even for drugs that are off-patent or would not earn a patent under Indian patent law.

India is the world’s leading manufacturer of such generic drugs, to the benefit of its pharmaceutical companies. In 2009, according to figures from the Indian Drug Manufacturers’ Association, drug exports stood at US$10 billion and were growing by more than 20 per cent each year. Unsurprisingly then, last March, Anand Sharma, the Indian minister for commerce and industry, told Reuters: “We will not allow any injury to be caused to the Indian generics industry.” India is thus often the source for cheap medicines elsewhere in the developing world. One estimate by Médecins Sans Frontières surmises that nearly 80 per cent of the AIDS drugs treating 5 million people across the developing world come from India. Generic drugs from India can cost as little as a few cents per dose.


From BBC

10 February 2012 Last updated at 09:32 ET

‘Progress’ on free trade deal at EU-India summit

One major concern over a free trade deal is the issue of generic drug manufacture.

Critics such as Medecins Sans Frontieres fear the FTA could seriously harm India’s production of generic drugs, which are sold to millions of patients at reduced prices in poorer countries.

The EU has suggested a clause “to ensure that nothing in the proposed agreement would limit India’s freedom to produce and export lifesaving medicines”.

Another key issue at the summit was Iran.

India has been defiant in maintaining trade ties, particularly on oil imports, despite a strengthening of trade sanctions by the West.

Mr Van Rompuy said he would share his “deep concern on the Iranian nuclear programme and will ask Prime Minister Singh to use India’s leverage towards Iran to help bring Tehran back to the negotiating table”.

Mr Singh said the problems with Iran’s nuclear programme “should be resolved by giving maximum scope to diplomacy”.

Nuclear Industry Gets Payoff With Elections Near

Friday, February 10th, 2012

Anybody remember Three Mile Island or Chernobyl or even Fukushima? Tsunamis happen, earthquakes happen, accidents from human error happen and nuclear accidents, like diamonds are forever.

It seems that Obama owes the nuclear industry some favors. They supported his senate and presidential campaigns and now he is up for reelection, with a super-pack ready to take the funneled contributions, the nuclear industry has awaited the payback and here it is another sign of how corporations game the political process.


Three Mile Island News

“TMI-1 was sold to AmerGen (now Exelon) in 1999. GPU Nuclear retains the license for TMI-2 and is owned by FirstEnergy Corp. GPU contracts with Exelon for maintenance and surveillance activities. The licensee plans to actively decommission TMI-2 in parallel with the decommissioning of TMI-1.”


Chernobyl News
Fukushima news


Georgia nuke plant first to get OK’d in decades

11:01 PM, Feb. 9, 2012 |

| Staff, wire reports

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission on Thursday approved the nation’s first new nuclear power plant in more than three decades, and a spokesman said it should rule within weeks on plans for a similar project in South Carolina.

The NRC voted 4-1 to approve Southern Co.’s request to build two nuclear reactors at its Vogtle site near Augusta, Ga., just over the South Carolina line, clearing the way for the reactors to begin operating as soon as 2016 and 2017.

The NRC last approved construction of a nuclear plant in 1978, a year before a partial meltdown of the Three Mile Island nuclear plant in Pennsylvania raised fears of a radiation release and brought new reactor orders nearly to a halt.

NRC Chairman Gregory Jaczko voted against the Vogtle license, saying he wanted a binding commitment from the company that it would make safety changes prompted by the March 2011 nuclear disaster in Japan.

NRC spokesman Scott Burnell said the commission’s next vote on a new nuclear plant will be on plans by SCANA Corp. and Santee Cooper to add two reactors to their V.C. Summer Nuclear Station in Jenkinsville near Newberry.

Burnell said he didn’t have a timetable for that decision but added that “it’s reasonable to say we’re talking weeks, not months.”

Charlotte-based Duke Energy, the Upstate’s dominant power provider, has said it may take a minority interest in the V.C. Summer expansion.

An NRC vote on Duke’s plans for a possible new nuclear plant in Cherokee County isn’t likely until 2013, Burnell said.

Despite his opposition to the license, Jaczko called the vote “historic” and a culmination of years of work by Atlanta-based Southern Co. and the NRC.

Southern Co. Chairman and CEO Thomas A. Fanning called the NRC vote “a monumental accomplishment for Southern Company, Georgia Power, our partners and the nuclear industry.”

“The project is on track, and our targets related to cost and schedule are achievable,” Fanning said.

Tom Clements, an anti-nuclear activist in Columbia, said the Vogtle expansion would be “going nowhere” were it not for a Georgia law that forces utility customers to pay in advance for part of the construction costs.

South Carolina has a similar law, and Clements said SCANA customers have already been hit with rate increases to pay for the proposed new reactors in Jenkinsville.

Duke customers “may soon feel the same pinch” if the Charlotte utility’s plans are allowed to go forward in Cherokee County, said Clements, nonproliferation policy director at the Alliance for Nuclear Accountability.

The Vogtle project is considered by many observers to be a major test of whether the industry can build nuclear plants without the delays and cost overruns that plagued earlier rounds of building decades ago.

President Barack Obama has offered the project $8.3 billion in federal loan guarantees as part of a pledge to expand nuclear power.

Obama and other proponents say greater use of nuclear power could cut the nation’s reliance on fossil fuels and create energy without producing emissions blamed for global warming.



Nuclear industry lobbyists’ clout felt on Hill

By DARREN SAMUELSOHN | 3/16/11 4:33 AM EDT Updated: 3/16/11 1:42 PM EDT

Facing its biggest crisis in 25 years, the U.S. nuclear power industry can count on plenty of Democratic and Republican friends in both high and low places.

During the past election cycle alone, the Nuclear Energy Institute and more than a dozen companies with big nuclear portfolios have spent tens of millions of dollars on lobbying and campaign contributions to lawmakers in key leadership slots and across influential state delegations.

The donations and lobbying funds came at a critical moment for the nuclear industry as its largest trade group and major companies pushed for passage of a cap-and-trade bill.

While that effort failed, the money is sure to keep doors open on Capitol Hill as lawmakers consider any response to the safety issues highlighted by multiple nuclear reactor meltdowns in Japan in the aftermath of last week’s monster earthquake and tsunami.

“The bottom line is you’ve got a variety of industrial interests that care about nuclear power and have a heck of a lot of money to spend if their business and their bottom line is put in political jeopardy,” said Dave Levinthal, communications director at the Center for Responsive Politics. “As Congress is talking about potentially diving deeper, these companies bring a lot of resources and a heck of a lot of cash to bear if this fight goes forward.”

NEI, the industry’s biggest voice in Washington, for example, spent $3.76 million to lobby the federal government and an additional $323,000 through its political action committee on a bipartisan congressional slate, including 134 House and 30 Senate candidates, according to data compiled by the CRP.

Alex Flint, NEI’s senior vice president for government affairs, said the spending is a byproduct of record high demand for his industry.

“The fact that the day after the election, both the president and [House Speaker John Boehner] said nuclear was an area where it’s something they can agree, it’s made us that much more in demand,” Flint said. “Our lobbying expenses have gone up more in large part because we have more people talking to more members of Congress.”

Nearly all of the investor-owned power companies that operate U.S. nuclear reactors play in the donation game.

Exelon, the owner of the nation’s largest nuclear fleet, gave nearly $515,000 during the 2009-10 election cycle. The company contributed to more Democrats than Republicans (58 percent to 40 percent), though it made sure to cover all of the key bases. House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) and Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-Mich.) got the $10,000 limit from Exelon for primary and general election fights, while California Rep. Henry Waxman’s campaign account received $5,000.

Read more:


New York Times

Nuclear Leaks and Response Tested Obama in Senate

Published: February 3, 2008

When residents in Illinois voiced outrage two years ago upon learning that the Exelon Corporation had not disclosed radioactive leaks at one of its nuclear plants, the state’s freshman senator, Barack Obama, took up their cause.

John W. Rowe, chairman of Exelon and also of the Nuclear Energy Institute, a lobbying group, has been an Obama donor.

Mr. Obama scolded Exelon and federal regulators for inaction and introduced a bill to require all plant owners to notify state and local authorities immediately of even small leaks. He has boasted of it on the campaign trail, telling a crowd in Iowa in December that it was “the only nuclear legislation that I’ve passed.”

“I just did that last year,” he said, to murmurs of approval.

A close look at the path his legislation took tells a very different story. While he initially fought to advance his bill, even holding up a presidential nomination to try to force a hearing on it, Mr. Obama eventually rewrote it to reflect changes sought by Senate Republicans, Exelon and nuclear regulators. The new bill removed language mandating prompt reporting and simply offered guidance to regulators, whom it charged with addressing the issue of unreported leaks.

Those revisions propelled the bill through a crucial committee. But, contrary to Mr. Obama’s comments in Iowa, it ultimately died amid parliamentary wrangling in the full Senate.

“Senator Obama’s staff was sending us copies of the bill to review, and we could see it weakening with each successive draft,” said Joe Cosgrove, a park district director in Will County, Ill., where low-level radioactive runoff had turned up in groundwater. “The teeth were just taken out of it.”

The history of the bill shows Mr. Obama navigating a home-state controversy that pitted two important constituencies against each other and tested his skills as a legislative infighter. On one side were neighbors of several nuclear plants upset that low-level radioactive leaks had gone unreported for years; on the other was Exelon, the country’s largest nuclear plant operator and one of Mr. Obama’s largest sources of campaign money.

Since 2003, executives and employees of Exelon, which is based in Illinois, have contributed at least $227,000 to Mr. Obama’s campaigns for the United States Senate and for president. Two top Exelon officials, Frank M. Clark, executive vice president, and John W. Rogers Jr., a director, are among his largest fund-raisers.

Another Obama donor, John W. Rowe, chairman of Exelon, is also chairman of the Nuclear Energy Institute, the nuclear power industry’s lobbying group, based in Washington. Exelon’s support for Mr. Obama far exceeds its support for any other presidential candidate.

In addition, Mr. Obama’s chief political strategist, David Axelrod, has worked as a consultant to Exelon. A spokeswoman for Exelon said Mr. Axelrod’s company had helped an Exelon subsidiary, Commonwealth Edison, with communications strategy periodically since 2002, but had no involvement in the leak controversy or other nuclear issues.

The Obama campaign said in written responses to questions that Mr. Obama “never discussed this issue or this bill” with Mr. Axelrod. The campaign acknowledged that Exelon executives had met with Mr. Obama’s staff about the bill, as had concerned residents, environmentalists and regulators. It said the revisions resulted not from any influence by Exelon, but as a necessary response to a legislative roadblock put up by Republicans, who controlled the Senate at the time.

“If Senator Obama had listened to industry demands, he wouldn’t have repeatedly criticized Exelon in the press, introduced the bill and then fought for months to get action on it,” the campaign said. “Since he has over a decade of legislative experience, Senator Obama knows that it’s very difficult to pass a perfect bill.”

Breakfast Of Simians

Saturday, February 4th, 2012

Today I made grits and eggs with vegie sausages for breakfast. I added some fresh cilantro leaves and squeezed a lemon slice over everything after I had placed the food on the plate instead of adding salt. I cook the grits generally without salt, fry the sausage and eggs over easy in my skillet in olive oil. The lemon and cilantro gives the meal a bright flavor and at first dominates the taste but then the other flavors kick in and it makes a nice breakfast. I usually add a bowl of cereal in rice milk with fresh fruit, in this case a sweet peach that had been left in the brown paper bag a couple of nights. Unusual to have good peaches this time of the year, but I got lucky.

I enjoy cooking and coming up with different combinations. Usually I throw in a lot of spices, in this case only a little hot sauce and black pepper after I had finished cooking as well as the cilantro and lemon. I find that frying the eggs in olive oil, instead of poaching them, gives enough flavor so that I don’t need to butter and salt the grits. I just eat the eggs on top of the grits and the flavors mix nicely.

I always say a little Krishna chant before the meal. It is supposed to turn the food into remnants of the gods meal, sort of spiritualized leftovers. Anyway it is a nice psychological touch and makes the meal seem special, whether you believe that divine entities are hovering over your food waiting for a taste or not. Certainly there are plenty of microbes and they are as invisible as the spirits to the naked eye. Technically Krishna is not supposed to like eggs, or onions or garlic or any form of animal flesh. But I figure as long as I steer away from beef, because Krishna is supposed to have a thing for cows, then I will be ok. Call me superstitious, but, it is as close to religion as I get. It is my own relationship with the “hidden god”, to quote Lucian Goldmann (French Marxist writer on ethics and theatre).

I write about food because I am comfortable with it, I feel I have a certain expertise, and even if I don’t, I enjoy it. I can write about my latest experiment, usually only the ones that stand out as tasting better than the run of the mill meals, and I get to expound on a little theory or world affairs. Perhaps I will write my own radical cookbook. Or perhaps I will simply collect the postings about food and have Amazon turn it into an e-book or something. The Krishna’s say you are only allowed to be creative in cooking, the rest of the time you have to follow the Shastras (Hindu traditional texts). But I am agnostic on most of this stuff. I tend to follow bits and pieces of Hindu lore that I picked up from my French Krishna girlfriend and what I picked up hanging out at the Krishna temple in LA and Berkeley as well as stuff I got while in India. It influenced me quite a bit, more than my many trips to France. I am imbued with French culture because I studied French literature as a youth, more than because of my experiences in France, in fact my French experiences, colored by my girlfriend, were not all that edifying. There was a lot of time on planes, in trains, and on buses, hanging out at her apartment, or shopping at the local French version of a big box store. On my own I visited Versailles and the Louvre, but often when with her we were looking for hash among Arabs who were not very friendly or hanging around with her friends, mostly thieves and drunks, not the kind of people to talk about symbolist poetry with.

Funny how I propagate Anarchism and Communism on a theoretical level, but personally I am interested in Hinduism, Gnosticism and spiritual life, not as a technique of liberation like a yogi, but as a way of giving meaning to my personal life. I have had a lot of negative experiences, things that might have destroyed the mind of a weaker person. As it is I am merely a survivor of the insanity that I projected on my physical being. I bathed myself in the most corrosive acids of life, most literally a chemical bath was injected into my veins, and now I am what had survived. Some mental capacity, some bits of idealism, a lot of perseverance, and a worn out body that needs a lot more rest than I would like to admit. But I still have a few more years in me, and with this dialysis machine I guess I will make it to the end of the decade with any luck. 2020 here I come.
Interesting that a human being that has fucked up as much as I have, still has hope, something that all humans cling too, like the tale of the evil Russian peasant woman whose one good deed was to give a beggar a turnip. On that turnip she was pulled into heaven by one of the angels, Michael if I am correct, and behind her came all the people she had touched, grabbing onto her feet in a vast chain all attempting to get into heaven on her one good deed. She became worried that they would drag her down so she began to shake her foot to kick them away, in doing so, she broke the turnip and all of them slid back into hell. Lots of morals to be picked up there, I remember that one from something I read when I was a kid.

Finally I found the story, it is in “The Brothers Karamazov”, it’s a little different from my memory, it’s an onion not a turnip in this version, and the woman is already in hell.

“Grushenka tells Rakitkin and Alyosha the fable of the onion: a wicked woman dies and is thrown into the lake of fire in hell by devils. Her guardian angel tries to think of one good deed of hers to tell God and save her from hell, and recalls that once she pulled up an onion and gave it to a beggar. God answers that the angel should take that same onion and offer it to her. If she takes hold of it and the angel can pull her out with it, she can go to paradise, but if the onion breaks, she must stay in the lake of fire. The angel offers the onion, the woman grabs it and he pulls carefully. Just as she is about to be pulled out completely, the other sinners in the lake hold onto her so as to be pulled out with her. The woman kicks them away, telling them that it is her onion, not theirs. The onion breaks and the woman falls back into the lake, where she remains.”

I found it in a novel guide on line. But I like this version better. It’s more like how I remember it.

“I like to tell people about “The Parable of the Onion” in Dostoyevsky’s, “The Brothers Karamazov.” Though my recounting of the parable is somewhat embellished, its heart remains the same: We can only help ourselves by helping each other. The story goes like this:

Once upon a time there was an old woman who had died and found herself in hell. She complained to Satan that her assignment to the netherworld was a mistake.

Satan told her, “You’ve been a greedy, selfish woman all your life. Surely, this is where you belong.”

The woman thought a long time, trying to recollect some shred of altruism in her life. After several minutes she exclaimed, “Aha! I did a good deed once! I gave an onion to a beggar.”

Satan replied, “Oh, yes. That is right. You pulled an onion out of the ground in your yard and handed it (bulb, stalk, and all) to a beggar at the fence.”

At that very moment, God’s hand descended into hell, holding the onion out for the woman to grasp. Holding onto the onion with both hands, the woman found herself miraculously being pulled up and out of hell.

As she rose, to the woman’s horror, dozens of people began to grasp at her legs and ankles, and as they were pulled up along with her, yet more people grasped onto the lower-most people’s own legs and ankles, until it seemed that the bowels of hell clung like an endless chain from a single woman’s body and the onion to which she clung.

Though there was great weight tethered to the onion, the connection remained secure and God’s hand continued to lift eveyone up out of hell. Remarkably, the onion held; it did not fray.

More and more people who had previously been doomed for eternity found themselves slowly — miraculously — being raised from hell by way of the woman’s firm grasp on the onion. There were soon thousands, and after several minutes millions of people hanging from the onion.

Yet the onion held fast.

Halfway to heaven, which is a long distance up from hell, the woman looked down at the vast human chain following her.

She was angry and resentful that these people — who may have done even less good in their lives than herself — should be so easily redeemed by virtue of simply clinging to her spindly old legs. She was also afraid, and so excaimed in a great shout, “If all of you grab on to me like this, the onion will surely break and I will not get to heaven!”

So, resolving not to allow anyone to harm her chances for redemption, the woman began to kick and smash the people hanging from her legs and ankles and toes. One by one as she struck them they fell, with each loss of a handhold causing tens of thousands of people to plunge back into hell.

But with each kick — though the physical load grew lighter — the onion began to fray. And as the onion frayed, the woman, in her anger and haste, began to kick more ferociously still, thinking that it was the weight of hell’s denizens — and not her anger and selfishness — that tore at the onion.

She kicked until but one person remained clinging to her left big toe, with yet another endless chain of people dangling from him. Millions of people hung from that precious, single toe. Still, the onion held though it was severely frayed. But the woman couldn’t bear the risk of losing her only chance to join God in heaven, so she kicked at the last remaining person; and as the person lost his grip, the onion snapped, and the selfish old woman — from a great height, having made it almost all the way to heaven — fell back into hell.”

From a site called “The Parable of the Onion.” I don’t know if Dostoyevsky made it up or if it really is a traditional tale. I went through a phase in my late teens when I read a lot of his books.

Super PAC Money Rolls Into Republican Campaigns. Truckers Block Port.

Thursday, February 2nd, 2012

It comes pouring in, the corporate money, although Obama is still leading in direct contributions to his campaign, heck, I even gave him $25, but the big money is going to the Republican dominated Super PAC’s. As the figures released below show, corporate and wealthy individual donations are going to the Republicans in numbers far greater than the Union support for the Democrats. This is only what we know about, the money going into the 501(c)(4) groups is hidden. If only the Green Party got some of this largess.

Truckers shut down the port in Seattle, this is a key industry. It is also a choke point where workers still have the upper hand, organized but not unionized, they are able to act wildcatting rather than being forced to bargain for dollars and benefits as a union would be forced to limit its demands to mere economic survival needs. These truckers have the opportunity to join up with others to demand the transformation of America into a state where workers lead the way.

I have been silent on current issues for the last few days. Mostly it is because of school, and partly it is because I know if I let myself become too distracted by current events, I will simply blow off my school schedule, and being out of work, disabled and dependent on government dollars, I have to be careful how I budget my time. It is not a censorship issue so much as it is a matter of practicality. The revolution is not going away and I doubt if it will be over by the end of this semester, so you will not be hearing as much from me, unless there is something big that catches my attention.

There is also a certain malaise I am experiencing, I was excited about the Occupy movement and the General Strike planning, but it seems premature, or perhaps wishful thinking on the part of radicals, what we need is real working class support and at this time I see sympathy but not support except from some of the unions. So I am focusing on school, but even there I am not as energetic as I was last semester, perhaps this is a side effect of my disability, less energy that I used to have, such is the less than fulfilled life. Although I have had my adventures, once they are over, they are gone. Life is lived in the moment; my current moments are more mundane than the times seem to demand. Yet they are what they are and I have to live with what I have to give. It just seems that I should have some super powers to pull out of a hat to meet the demands of the day, as if it all was up to me, not a very collective thought process. Perhaps that is why I am an American, got a lot of individualism in me, a lot for a socialist


From the New York Times

Secrecy Shrouds ‘Super PAC’ Funds in Latest Filings


Published: February 1, 2012

Newly disclosed details of the millions of dollars flowing into political groups are highlighting not just the scale of donations from corporation and unions but also the secrecy surrounding “super PACs” seeking to influence the presidential race.

Some of the money came from well-established concerns, like Alpha Natural Resources, one of the country’s largest coal companies, which is backing Republican-aligned American Crossroads, or from the Service Employees International Union, a powerful union allied with Democrats, according to filings with the Federal Election Commission.

The contributions have already helped the Republican Party’s elite donor class, who increasingly favor Mr. Romney, regain some control over the party’s nominating process. Many of the party’s top givers sent checks to Restore Our Future, the pro-Romney group, underwriting an advertising campaign that battered Mr. Romney’s Republican rivals even as Mr. Romney himself struggled to win the trust of the party’s restive conservative base.

Patrick Durkin, a lobbyist for Barclay’s, raised over $400,000 in contributions. Bruce A. Gates, a lobbyist for Altria, the parent company of Philip Morris USA, raised $275,000. And Austin Barbour, a Mississippi lobbyist and nephew of the state’s former governor, Haley Barbour, raised $210,700 in contributions.

Restore Our Future raised at least $5.8 million from corporations during the last six months of last year, along with $12.2 million from individuals. American Crossroads raised $4.6 million from corporations and $7 million from individuals. Priorities USA and two other Democratic-leaning super PACs raised about $1,835,000 from individuals, $1.3 million from political action committees affiliated with labor unions and other groups, and about $415,700 from other organizations.

Groups supportive of each party employed a technique that allows them to cloak the identities of many of their donors. Those groups, including Crossroads and Priorities USA, have affiliates that are organized as nonprofit organizations known as 501(c)(4) groups, which can raise unlimited money but do not have to reveal their donors. Donors wishing to remain anonymous have the option of making their contributions to those nonprofit groups, which raised tens of millions of dollars in 2011, according to officials at the groups.


From Campaigns For Clean Ports Across America

Dateline: Seattle/Tacoma

Breaking: America’s Truck Drivers Shut Down Port of Seattle to Expose Dangers of the Job

February 1, 2012
Monday mornings are the busiest at any port, but this past one in Seattle the trucks were parked. Drivers spanning the major companies that do the most business in the Puget Sound simply turned off the engines, got out of their cabs, and stopped hauling. They had somewhere else they needed to be.

Steely determination led roughly 150 port drivers to sacrifice income and risk retaliation to make the hour-and-a-half trek to swarm the State Capitol in Olympia.

Commerce at the Port of Seattle slowed to a trickle, and hasn’t picked up since.

This week the truck drivers – who toil under the guise of false self-employment – are making it their job to sound the alarm on occupational hazards, overweight containers, shoddy equipment, risks to motorists, and the culprits responsible for these rampant safety violations: their employers and their giant retail shipper clients like Wal-Mart, Sears, and Target.

The trucking bosses at Pacer, Seattle Freight, Western Ports and others were stunned, but the state troopers weren’t. Washington’s top cops testified before lawmakers right alongside the workers, detailing a dizzying array of dangers associated with the drayage industry: Chronic safety violations so serious that an investigative journalist discovered late last year that officers pulled 32% of rigs they inspected outside the terminals off the road — double the rate for trucks throughout the state. When specially trained troopers conducted more thorough inspections in 2011, King 5 TV reported, 58% of Port of Seattle cargo vehicles were yanked. And according to Captain Jason Berry’s testimony, an astonishing 80% have been put out of service during certain recent time periods.

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