Journalism

PERMABLITZING THE SUBURBS > by Lou Smith

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Permablitz: A informal gathering involving a day on which a group of at least two people come together to achieve the following:

  • create or add to edible gardens where someone lives
  • share skills related to permaculture and sustainable living
  • build community networks
  • have fun

Asha Bee is a community activist writing an honours thesis in food relocalisation at La Trobe University in Melbourne, Australia.  She coined the term 'permablitz', a contraction of permaculture backyard blitz. (Backyard Blitz is the name of popular gardening and lifestyle show in Australia involving rapid backyard makeovers).   Lou Smith of Breakdown Press interviewed Asha Bee about permablitzes & backyard food production in the face of peak oil and economic turmoil and productive ways we can rebuild community.


Money Madness & the Crisis of Civilization > by Charles Eisenstein

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Suppose you give me a million dollars with the instructions, "Invest this profitably, and I'll pay you well." I'm a sharp dresser -- why not? So I go out onto the street and hand out stacks of bills to random passers-by. Ten thousand dollars each. In return, each scribbles out an IOU for $20,000, payable in five years. I come back to you and say, "Look at these IOUs! I have generated a 20% annual return on your investment." You are very pleased, and pay me an enormous commission.

Now I've got a big stack of IOUs, so I use these "assets" as collateral to borrow even more money, which I lend out to even more people, or sell them to others like myself who do the same. I also buy insurance to cover me in case the borrowers default -- and I pay for it with those self-same IOUs! Round and round it goes, each new loan becoming somebody's asset on which to borrow yet more money. We all rake in huge commissions and bonuses, as the total face value of all the assets we've created from that initial million dollars is now fifty times that.

Then one day, the first batch of IOUs comes due. But guess what? The person who scribbled his name on the IOU can't pay me back right now. In fact, lots of the borrowers can't. I try to hush this embarrassing fact up as long as possible, but pretty soon you get suspicious. You want your million dollars back -- in cash. I try to sell the IOUs and their derivatives that I hold, but everyone else is suspicious too, and no one buys them. The insurance company tries to cover my losses, but it can only do so by selling the IOUs I gave it!

So finally, the government steps in and buys the IOUs, bails out the insurance company and everyone else holding the IOUs and the derivatives stacked on them. Their total value is way more than a million dollars now. I and my fellow entrepreneurs retire with our lucre. Everyone else pays for it.

This is the first level of what has happened in the financial industry over the past decade. It is a huge transfer of wealth to the financial elite, to be funded by US taxpayers, foreign corporations and governments, and ultimately the foreign workers who subsidize US debt indirectly via the lower purchasing power of their wages. However, to see the current crisis as merely the result of a big con is to miss its true significance.

I think we all sense that we are nearing the end of an era. On the most superficial level, it is the era of unregulated casino-style financial manipulation that is ending. But the current efforts of the political elites to fix the crisis at this level will only reveal its deeper dimensions. In fact, the crisis goes "all the way to the bottom." It arises from the very nature of money and property in the world today, and it will persist and continue to intensify until money itself is transformed. A process centuries in the making is in its final stages of unfoldment.

Money as we know it today has crisis and collapse built into its basic design. That is because money seeks interest, bears interest, and indeed is born of interest. To see how this works, let's go back to some finance basics. Money is created when somebody takes out a loan from a bank (or more recently, a disguised loan from some other kind of institution). A debt is a promise to pay money in the future in order to buy something today; in other words, borrowing money is a form of delayed trading. I receive something now (bought with the money I borrowed) and agree to give something in the future (a good or service which I will sell for the money to pay back the debt). A bank or any other lender will ordinarily only agree to lend you money if there is a reasonable expectation you will pay it back; in other words, if there is a reasonable expectation you will produce goods or services of equivalent value. This "reasonable expectation" can be guaranteed in the form of collateral, or it can be encoded in one's credit rating.


Schwann Cybershaman's picture

Corporation Planet

 

In the week gone by, the Dow Jones plunged more than 400 points. Obama vowed to rescue economy. McCain supported the Bush administration push to store nuclear waste at Yucca Mountain. Cover-up of health effects from cosmetics. The House approved $700 billion bailout for Wall Street. America's secret dealings between Shell and the Iraq Oil Ministry was disclosed. A US-India nuclear deal was passed. The FBI opened probe into financial troubles of Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, Lehman Brothers and AIG. The global food crisis worsens.


From Scarcity To Abundance: stories from the streets of Oaxaca > by Joel Catchlove

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There´s something brewing on the streets of Oaxaca. The genteel colonial centre is vividly scrawled with graffiti and much of it is political. Spray paint depicts everything from giant, masked Lucha Libre wrestlers with the caption La lucha sigue (The struggle continues), to repeated references to the Zapatistas, the indigenous-based rebel movement in the neighbouring state of Chiapas. Small, scrawny figures in the trademark Zapatista ski-masks adorn street signs, the masked face of Zapatista spokesperson Subcomandante Marcos appears in bold black on freshly painted walls, while on another, stencils depict a masked indigenous woman harvesting corn beneath the line "corn is our life". Amid the Zapatistas, another line repeats itself, in stencil or running spraypaint: Oaxaca Libre, 14 de Junio, No se olvida (Free Oaxaca, June 14, Do not forget).
 
While it scarcely registered in the Australian media, and few media outlets anywhere fully grasped the depth of what was happening, for five months in 2006, the southern Mexican state of Oaxaca was, as Al Giordano describes "a government-free zone", "not governed from above, but rather self-governed by popular assembly.” What began as a teachers´ strike for better wages and conditions grew into a massive, non-violent, broad-based social movement that drove the corrupt and universally despised governor into hiding, and laid the foundations for a truly participatory democracy. As the people of Oaxaca realised that the corrupt government needed them more than they needed it, they began a shift (to use a phrase of Oaxaca´s Universidad de la Tierra) from the scarcity of dependence to the abundance of community self-reliance.
 
Oaxaca has a heritage of community self-government in its diverse indigenous population. Four out of five municipalities in the state still govern themselves through a process of communal assemblies, known as "practices and customs" or usos y costumbres, a system that doesn´t acknowledge political parties and functions by consensus. Furthermore, as Nancy Davies describes, "statewide, the greater part of public works in four hundred small communities are still carried out by citizen tequios [the traditional indigenous system of unpaid community service] that accomplish a variety of tasks like building roads; repairing churches, bringing in the harvest; and sharing the expenses of weddings, baptisms and deaths." With state and federal levels of Mexican government apparently riddled with corruption and with governments everywhere increasingly wedded to neoliberal economic policies that privilege the health of corporations over the health of communities, the critical importance of community self-reliance is becoming increasingly clear. It is this self-reliance that two Oaxaqueño organisations, Casa Chapulin and the Universidad de la Tierra, seek to cultivate.
 


Mind Wars> by Rak Razam

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Forget the war on terror: global military has been engaged in a decades-long campaign to find chemicals that can control the mind, and 50 years after their first experiments it seems the battlefield of the brain is once again front and centre, writes Rak Razam...



According to the US Centre for Strategic Command, the US is presently engaged in a campaign of "Full Spectrum Dominance" in all fields of existence – land, water, space, cyberspace, etc. – and now the realm of the mind itself. Yet the military's interest in psychoactives has been long and sustained. During the height of WWII the OSS, the wartime precursor to the CIA, began the search for a truth serum they could use in intelligence interrogations. In 1945 the US Navy Technical Mission reported that Nazi scientists experimented with mescaline on subjects at the Dachau concentration camp. After the war the U.S. Navy began investigating mescaline itself under the guise of Project Chatter, and for the next three decades they engaged in experiments with mind-altering drugs in an attempt to crack the secrets of the brain.


Robert Newman's History of Oil > Feature Documentary

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In this brilliant 45 minute piece of live theatre powered by bicycle power, English comedian and political satirist Rober Newman explains the 100 year history of oil at the Hoxton Hall Theatre, London. A fascinating and entertaining primer for the politics behind the current conflicts in the Middle East, oil power and activism.


Sorry About The NT Intervention? > downloadable ebook

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"Sorry About The NT Intervention?" is a newspaper of speeches from Northern Territory town campers on the affect the Intervention is having on their communities. 

It shows the sorrow, anger, disgust and hope that was heard at the convergence in Canberra on the 11th and 12th February 2008.


Welcome To The Future > Iraq Anniversary > Video Blog by Richard Neville

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Richard Neville looks back at the war in Iraq on its 5th anniversary and discusses the failure of mainstream media and such sites as YouTube to convey the full spectrum of horrors committed by occupiers. Puppy tossing is a metaphor of psychopathic breakdown. Neville compares those who rely on conventional news sources to the prisoners in Plato's cave - ill equipped to see what's really happening. And as for the instigators of the invasion, why are they still at large?


Planetary Gatherings of Galactic Garden Culture> by EveN Dawn

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Like mushrooms which push their gleaming tops up through moist pats of poo and decaying matter, so too tipis, domes and tents of all descriptions appear virtually overnight in fields and open spaces across the Earth. A particular strain of the human species occupy these clusters of temporary dwellings. Whether these humans have gathered for the sake of music, dance, art, expression or sheer celebration, they have had enough cause to take leave of whatever routine existance they may normally maintain, to make it to an outdoor event - commonly known as a festival, that which I have come to define as a Planetary Gathering.


Magick Man> by Rak Razam



As they begin their magick rite, the sky clouds over and darkens. A cold wind sweeps the top of Glastonbury Tor, the legendary British power spot where ley lines converge and primal dragon energy is concentrated. Four altars are set up with wooden poles forming triangular spaces, littered with talismans. Inside the circle between the altars step 12 people, a ragtag collection of pagans, gypsies and travellers that represent the source races of humanity. As a brilliant zig-zag flash of lightning breaks the clouds, Orryelle Defenestrate-Bascule steps into the circle followed closely by two others, their six arms waving like a spider, spinning, measuring and cutting the thread of life. The initiates are pierced through their chest and sewn together with a string web, then anointed as they sing a range of tones to activate their chakras, the energy centres running up their spines. This was the ‘13th Tribe’ weaving, a boggling ritual to unite the warring races of humanity and connect to the earth, and you haven’t seen anything yet…

What the fuck, you’re probably thinking? Here’s the deal: the world is stranger than you believe. And one of the strangest of the strange is Australia’s own Orryelle Defenestrate-Bascule. He’s a ‘chaorder magickian’ who dabbles in invoking Godforms, mutating his own body, travelling the astral realm, and manifesting his will in any number of exotic rituals across the world, from Uluru to the pyramids in Egypt. But tonight we’re sitting round an open fire in a concrete backyard in a dilapidated share house in Brunswick, in the suburbs of Melbourne. There are ley lines here too, but the power lines overhead are more evident. A life-sized, hand-carved clay statue of the Goddess Kali is here with us, terrifying Kali with her eight limbs and long rolling tongue, adorned with skulls round her neck and a belt of human hands.


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