Saturday, June 30, 2012

Mayors attack schools - link

Mayors back parents seizing control of schools
By Stephanie Simon
Hundreds of mayors from across the United States called for new laws  letting parents seize control of low-performing public schools and fire the teachers, oust the administrators or turn the schools over to 
private management.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Amen: David Cay Johnston

Johnston deserves a Pulitzer or two.  Sadly, none of what he writes about will change until we stop corporations from writing the rules

Posted: 20 Jun 2012 12:18 PM PD
A broad swath of official economic data shows that America and its people are in much worse shape than when we paid higher taxes, higher interest rates and made more of the manufactured goods we use.
The numbers since the turn of the millennium point to even worse times ahead if we stay the course. Let's look at the official numbers in today's dollars and then what can be done to change course.
First, incomes and jobs since 2000 measured per American:
Internal Revenue Service data show that average adjusted gross income fell $2,699 through 2010 or 9 percent, compared to 2000. That's the equivalent of making it through Thanksgiving weekend and then having no income for the rest of the year.

Had average incomes just stayed at the level in 2000, Americans through 2009 would have earned $3.5 trillion more income, the equivalent of $26,000 per taxpayer over a decade. Preliminary 2010 data show a partial rebound, reducing the shortfall by a fifth to $2.8 trillion or $21,000 per taxpayer.
Wages per capita in 2010 were 4.3 percent less than in 2000, effectively reducing to 50 weeks the pay for 52 weeks of work. The median wage in 2010 fell back to the level of 1999, with half of workers grossing less than $507 a week, half more, Social Security tax data show. The bottom third, 50 million workers, averaged just $116 a week in 2010.

Social Security and Census data show that the number of people with any work increased just 1.5 percent from 2000 to 2010 while population grew 6.4 times faster. That's why millions of people cannot find work no matter how hard they try.

In May, nearly 23 million workers, 14.8 percent, were jobless or underemployed, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported. At, a website dedicated to exposing and analyzing flaws in government economic data, economist John Williams also counts people who have given up hope of finding work. His figure for May brings the total to almost 30 million people, one in five.


An economy with many millions more workers than jobs puts downward pressure on wages, especially for those without highly developed skills.

Now let's look at debt per American since 2000 using Federal Reserve data:

Mortgage debt grew 51 percent through 2010, even though incomes and wages fell, which should result in steady or lower housing prices, not higher prices.

(In 2011, as banks foreclosed on more homes, mortgage debt per capita declined, but was still 42 percent greater than in 2000.)

Consumer debt was virtually unchanged, at nearly $8,300 in 2010, helping explain weak sales of automobiles, furniture and appliances.

Now how about trade? Exporting more than we import creates jobs and riches.

From 2000, the year before China joined the World Trade Organization, to 2011 imports from China grew 62 percent faster than exports to China, Census data show. The annual trade deficit soared to $302 billion from $112 billion.
U.S. exports to China in 2011 ($106 billion) were smaller than US imports from China back in 2000 ($133 billion), showing the lopsided nature of trade with China, where workers lack rights, safety rules are minimal and pollution rampant.

Some 56,000 American factories have closed since 2000, as jobs and the knowledge that goes with those jobs moved to China.

Trade with China has destroyed every 55th job in America, nearly 2.8 million positions, analysis of government data by Robert E. Scott of the Economic Policy Institute shows. That equals wiping out every job in the greater Philadelphia metropolitan area. Nearly two million of those jobs were in manufacturing, Bureau of Labor Statistics and U.S. International Trade Commission data show.


And what of taxes? The 2001 and 2003 tax cuts were promoted as keys to prosperity. Now Mitt Romney, virtually all Republicans and a fair number of Democrats say more tax cuts will make us prosper. President Barack Obama wants to cut corporate tax rates by a third.

Again, measured per capita, the IRS data show a pattern of shrinking numbers, with modest upticks in 2010.

Individual income taxes in 2010 averaged $2,995, down $1,654 or almost 36 percent from 2000. Use 2001 as the base year — because it was both a recession year and the first year of the temporary George W. Bush tax cuts — and in 2010 per capita income tax revenues were down one third.

In 2011, as the economy improved slightly, income tax revenues rose, but were still 26 percent smaller than in 2000.

The bottom line: less income, hardly any more jobs, sharply increased mortgage debt and Washington ledgers awash in red ink as voters are asked to endorse even more tax cuts.

How many years of evidence does it take to establish that a policy worked or failed?

Will continuing our current tax, credit and trade policies produce favorable results in the future? Will they produce higher incomes?

My reading of this and tons more data is that the Bush tax cuts utterly failed, the Fed's artificially low-interest rate policies under presidents Bush and Obama do far more damage than good (especially to savers), and that the United States is harmed both by the imbalance in the trade relationship with China and scores of trade agreements with South Korea and other low-wage countries that are deeply flawed at best.

We need to recognize that the tax cutters were snake oil salesmen, the Federal Reserve an enabler of damaging debts and that bilateral trade deals are written of, by and for global financiers, not workers.

To paraphrase the Huey Lewis song, we need a new policy.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Fwd: OADP Annual Meeting June 27

Jeff Ellis to speak at
Annual  Meeting
June 27, 2012

The Annual Meeting of Members of OADP will be held June 27, 2012, at 6:15 p.m.  It will be held in:
Moriarty Auditorium
Portland Community College, Cascade Campus
705 N. Killingsworth St.
Portland, OR  97217
A campus map is available at this link.  Moriarty Auditorium is located the building marked "MAHB."

Members will hear a report of the activities and financial condition of OADP and elect directors and officers for the coming year.

Following the Annual Meeting, at 7:00 p.m., OADP Board member and nationally known capital defense attorney Jeffrey Ellis will speak on the topic:
40 Years Since Furman: How We Can Abolish the Death Penalty, Again

June 29th marks the 40th anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court's decision in Furman v Georgia, which ruled all state death penalty statutes unconstitutional.  In the wake of four states replacing their death penalty in the past four years, the historic perspective on Furman and subsequent decisions sets the context for our current efforts in Oregon and nationally.

Jeff Ellis currently serves as Capital Resource Counsel for Oregon, providing assistance to Oregon attorneys representing individuals facing or under a death sentence. Mr. Ellis is also an adjunct professor teaching capital punishment law at Lewis and Clark Law School.  He previously taught at the University of Texas and Seattle University law schools.

Please invite friends, family, neighbors and anyone who cares about justice in Oregon to this talk.

According to OADP's by-laws and Board resolutions, members eligible to vote at Annual Meeting are those who have made a financial contribution to the organization of $10 or more during the twelve months preceding the meeting.  All supporters are welcome to attend, but only members meeting this test may vote.  If you haven't made a financial contribution in the past year and would like to vote, please mail your check so it is received by June 25th, or make a contribution online at our website,

At the meeting, the current Board will propose slates of directors and officers to serve for the following year.  If you would like to serve on the Board or as an officer, or wish to nominate someone to serve, please e-mail your nomination to so that it is received by June 20th, or call 503-990-7060 by that date.
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Oregonians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty
P.O. Box 361
Portland, Oregon 97207-0361

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Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Just before Summer Solstice -- and despite all our Oregon "sunshine"

18 months after system first operational: 6 MW of solar power generated to power LOVESalem HQ.

GRIM but important - ClubOrlov: Fragility and Collapse: Slowly at first, then all at once

I wish I could find obvious holes in this. Meanwhile, Salem is blowing millions planning for an absurd multi-hundred million dollar highway bridge to handle the traffic demand of the hypothetical future that exists only in dreams of business as usual with cheap gas and more suburban sprawl.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

The Handmaids tale arrives in FL

Court-Ordered Care--A Complication of Pregnancy to Avoid

Julie D. Cantor, M.D., J.D.
N Engl J Med 2012; 366:2237-2240 June 14, 2012
 Samantha Burton was 25 weeks pregnant when her membranes ruptured. Burton's obstetrician admitted her to Tallahassee Memorial Hospital (TMH) and prescribed continuous inpatient bed rest. But with two young children and a job to consider, Burton found the prospect of a 3-month hospital stay overwhelming. She decided to go home. When she tried to leave, authorities barred her exit.

 Soon, the machinery of court-ordered care started rolling. TMH's outside counsel, deputized by the local state attorney to act on Florida's behalf, petitioned for judicial approval to force Burton to follow doctors' orders. Within hours, the court heard argument from the hospital, state attorney and testimony from the obstetrician, now considered the unborn child's attending physician.1 Burton testified by phone from the hospital, without counsel.

 The next day, the judge gave TMH, any attending health care provider, and members and employees of the original obstetrician's practice permission to administer any care they deemed necessary to preserve the fetus's life and health.1 He ordered Burton to comply and denied her request to change hospitals. Within days, doctors delivered a dead fetus by cesarean section. . . .

Moreover, the due-process considerations are profound. Because these cases are usually heard on an emergency basis, judicial decisions are made without full briefing on relevant law, medicine, and policy. Unlike alleged criminals, patients have no Sixth Amendment right to counsel, and they cannot instantaneously find expert witnesses to testify on their behalf.  And hospital lawyers acting as state attorneys have a clear conflict of interest: as even the Supreme Court of Florida has noted, it is inappropriate for a hospital to argue zealously against the wishes of its own patient, and it cannot act on behalf of the State to assert the state interests when a competent adult refuses care (Matter of Dubreuil).

Coerced care also devalues the inherent risks to maternal health and life. Cesarean sections and blood transfusions are not risk-free, and bed rest is neither benign nor evidence-based. Obstetricians aren't omniscient and may defer to culture over data. Forced care also ignores individuals' and families' values, reinforces inequality between the sexes, threatens to drive women from care, and condones a culture of coercion. And the notion that court-ordered care will insulate providers from litigation seems misguided -- courts should be unsympathetic to patients with refusal remorse, lest they eviscerate the concept of informed consent, and an informed refusal, unaccompanied by malpractice, should be a shield from civil and criminal liability. Of course, subjecting a patient to forced care, even court-ordered care, may lead to a lawsuit for violations of civil and constitutional rights.

Finally, there's the slippery slope. As a Florida Supreme Court justice explained, forced care that is designed to protect the health of the fetus creates its own universe of troubling questions. Should the State have the authority to prohibit a pregnant woman from smoking cigarettes or drinking alcohol, both legal activities with recognized health risks to the unborn? (In re Guardianship of J.D.S.). Should pregnant women be prosecuted for adverse outcomes when they reject medical care? Should they be jailed until delivery? Such cases have already arisen. . . .

In 1976, a man dying of aplastic anemia sued his cousin, asking a court to order the forcible extraction of his potentially matching and lifesaving bone marrow. The court refused and explained, For our law to compel defendant to submit to an intrusion of his body would change every concept and principle upon which our society is founded. To do so would defeat the sanctity of the individual and raise the spectre of the swastika and the Inquisition, reminiscent of the horrors this portends (McFall v. Shimp).
Those horrors are no less salient here. Forced interventions undermine the liberty, privacy, and equality of pregnant women. But they are far more insidious. Because they betray foundational legal principles of our free society, they endanger the liberty of us all.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Low-cost spay & neuter grants for cats! Hurry!

PLEASE spay and neuter your pets. If you are on any public assistance, please take advantage of this quickly. Move fast!
The Willamette Humane Society has received a grant to provide subsidized spay/neuter surgeries for 350 cats whose owners receive federal or state income assistance.

The Handsel Foundation, a family foundation dedicated to providing financial support to organizations working in the area of animal welfare, awarded the grant.

Families or individuals in Marion and Polk counties who receive some form of government assistance are eligible for the subsidized surgery rate of $20 to spay and $10 to neuter. Appointments are required, and the subsidized surgeries are on a first-come first-served basis.

Regular prices are $35 for a male cat neuter and $55 for a female cat spay.

The Willamette Humane Society Spay & Neuter Clinic is at 4246 Turner Road SE.

To make an appointment, call (503) 480-7729.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Awesomely cool

We have a few spots left for GeerCrest Farm's
Farm Life Experience!

Our Farm Life Experience Program is open to children from ages 8 to 16

Rates: $395 per week, including lodging and all meals and snacks.

Space available in the Following Sessions:

July 9 - 13, 16- 20, 23 - 27, 30- Aug 3,
Aug. 20-24

Go to our Farm's education page
Watch a video of education programs at GeerCrest Farm

GeerCrest is reviving the traditional homestead farm, where the multi-generational farm family grows a diverse supply of food, shares its agrarian way of life with children and promotes the welfare of its community. The Farm-Life Experience at GeerCrest Farm is based on the belief that children need to experience the daily rhythm of farm life because it gives them a foundation on which to grow into productive members of society.

GeerCrest Farm 12390 Sunnyview Rd NE Salem, OR 97317

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

More on the Disaster in the Making (vaccination refusals)

From Bob Park:
Vaccination programs prevent more human suffering than any other branch of medicine. Their success depends on public confidence in their safety. But according to a report released last Wednesday by the U.S. Department of Health, spot checks by the Office of the Inspector General finds that free vaccines, provided under the nationwide Vaccines for Children program, are often stored at the wrong temperature, which can render them ineffective.

The first generation to receive MMR vaccinations are now parents. They have been spared not only the direct misery of the illness, but also serious side effects that can show up many years later. They should be the first to demand strict standards of safety and effectiveness in administering vaccines. Someday perhaps, eradication of pathogenic diseases will be routine, but were not there yet. What prevents it?

In 1977, smallpox, the most deadly and persistent human pathogenic disease, was eradicated from Earth by the World Health Organization following an unprecedented agreement allowing quick-response teams to freely cross every a border to administer vaccine in case of an outbreak. It was a moving demonstration of what can be achieved by world cooperation, and was quickly followed by calls to eradicate poliomyelitis. Polio eradication was undertaken by WHO in 1988 with help from private organizations, but although the number of polio cases diagnosed each year has plummeted, final eradication remains elusive. Opposition by Muslim fundamentalists is said to be the major factor in the failure of polio immunization programs. In Pakistan and Afghanistan the Taliban issued fatwa opposing vaccination as an attempt to avert Allah's will, while others saw it as an American plot to sterilize Muslims. Some conservative Christian groups oppose vaccination for diseases that are transmitted spread by sexual contact, arguing that the possibility of disease deters risky sexual contact. It doesn’t.
Bob should have mentioned the damage done by bogus vaccination programs, such as the US used to get intel on Bin-Ladin in his hideout. Like planting CIA agents among journalists and Peace Corps volunteers, getting intel from agents disguised as vaccination program staff does serious long-term damage to the program being used as cover. Every journalist, medical aid worker, and vaccination program is endangered by such efforts.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

On reducing the shortage of donated organs available for transplant

I attended a talk today where representatives of various religions discussed the funeral rituals in their traditions and how important the rituals were to them.  I asked about their views on organ donations, and two said that their traditions either outright forbade it (Muslim) or in effect did so as a cultural practice (Native American).  The liberal rabbi said that while liberal jews had pretty much decided that organ donation was acceptable, most conservative jews staunchly oppose it.

I've been thinking about the terrible shortages of organs for some time, and I keep coming back to the question of whether we shouldn't do several things:
1) Pass laws making organ donation the default position for everyone in society -- that is, it is assumed that your organs are available for donation to whomever will benefit unless you take specific, positive action to refuse donating your organs when they are no longer doing you any good; AND

2) Revise the rules on who gets the donated organs to put adults who refuse the default position and their children at the bottom of recipient lists. 
That is, if you are unwilling to donate your organs, you will only be given donated organs when there is no more suitable candidate for a transplant available who is also willing to be a donor for others.  And if you have opted out your children, same rule applies -- children of those who exempt themselves from donating will only be given organs from a child donor if there is no more suitable child available who can benefit from those organs.
It sounds terribly brutal or even bigoted to see it stated that way, though my intent is neither to be brutal nor to harm people of any religious group.  But in a pluralistic society where there are far more people who need organ transplants than there are donors, something has to be done to increase the odds of people donating.  It seems just (as in justice) to have organs preferentially given to those who have indicated a willingness, were the roles reversed, to be the donor as well as the donee.  It doesn't matter whether your organs are medically fit such that they would be accepted, it's whether or not you positively opted out when you didn't know whether you would need them that matters.

More importantly, this avoids the whole "Why shouldn't we let the rich arrange with the poor to sell their organs?" problem that crops up now and again.  The proposal above is even-handed and avoids any hint of privilege based on anything but your own willingness to contribute into the system that might benefit you in the same way that you might benefit.


Coal is the enemy of the human race, the slow "screw the future" suicide system

This is an excellent post by Cliff Mass, UW meteorologist on his weather blog, on why coal trains are a REALLY BAD IDEA for the environment & human health.

Also, Professor Dan Jaffe, of UW Bothell, has documented the substantial contribution of Asian pollution to our background pollution levels (see here for one story on this). This is really scary stuff!

Here are some highlights. Want to see the coal dust blowing off a coal train? Click on this image to see a video of a coal train in British will see HUGE amounts of dust blowing off into a scenic river basin:

Even worse...once the coal gets to China they burn it, producing all sorts of particulates and gases that then moves across the Pacific to worsen regional air quality problems here in the Northwest. In fact, Professor Dan Jaffe, of UW Bothell, has documented the substantial contribution of Asian pollution to our background pollution levels (see here for one story on this).

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Disaster in the Making: More Oregon parents not having kids vaccinated

The move among parents to resist vaccination for children is depressing on many levels.  The worst part is realizing how, given that all too soon we're going to have plenty of problems getting the tax revenue necessary for maintaining first-world levels of public health in the first place, some parents are voluntarily creating non-vaccination issues to boot.

There's no easy answer.  Our legal systems treat children as little more than pets, items of property.  Thus, the property owners (aka parents) can refuse vaccinations of their "property" without consequence to themselves, but with plenty of consequence to others, and sometimes to the non-vaccinated children.

For good reasons, we've got seatbelt laws, and laws that forbid letting kids ride in the back of open pickup trucks.  But the law makes it easy for parents to claim a religious scruple against vaccination of their children.  What's the difference?  There used to be lots of arguments about how seatbelts made certain crashes more dangerous.  Of course, those arguments are mostly bunk, like the arguments about vaccinations.  But if we let parents expose their kids to serious and occasionally fatal diseases through failure to vaccinate, why can't parents decide whether their kids should wear a seatbelt?

Friday, June 8, 2012

Two and three weeks out -- a great great ride and a great party benefiting a great place

Third Annual Hoedown & Silent Auction

Saturday: June 30, 2012

Join The Pagan Jug Band and Special Guests for the third Annual Farm Benefit with Silent Auction & Hoedown! Come out to the farm and camp for the weekend, bring your family, Bring An Instrument For Jams, definitely bring your dancin' feet ... biggest bonfire in town, camping under the stars, and of course music, music, music!!!

Local food and beverages will be available for purchase.

In the historic and (incredibly) scenic Waldo Hills!

  • $5 -$20 donation per person, kids 12 and under free, camping available - (see below)
  • Optional Sunday Brunch - (see below)
  • Sorry, No Dogs Allowed
  • 2:00 pm Gates open to campers - (see below)
  • 3:00 pm Gates open to public, games and activities begin
  • 4:00 pm Live music begins with WhistlePig, Route 41, and The Pagan Jug Band
  • 5:00 pm Silent Auction begins
  • 9:00 pm Silent Auction ends
  • Bonfire begins at dusk.
$20.00 - Camping (tent)Please register your camping space in advance. Space is limited, and we cannot guarantee room will be available on the day of the event. To reserve a camping spot, please email us or call us at: 503-873-3406.

Note: We reserve the right to refuse campers that do not accommodate our family atmosphere.
  • $20 camping fee (tent)
  • $30 camping fee (trailer)
Sunday Brunch:

Brunch will be available between 9:00am - noon, and is a full menu, buffet-style brunch including beverages. Tickets for brunch must be purchased by Saturday before 9pm.
  • $10 adults (13 and up)
  • $6 kids aged 4-12
  • FREE ages 3 and under
Call us at 503-873-3406 for more information, or email us by clicking here:

Petal Pedal
Saturday June 23, 2012

Cycle the Summer Solstice!

  • A gourmet distance ride in the Willamette Valley.
  • Blooming fields of flowers along serene, low traffic routes.
  • Free Hopworks beer & gourmet dinner at the finish line.
  • World class support from start to finish.
  • On site boutique hotel amidst 80 acres of gardens.
  • Campout under the stars at Historic GeerCrest farm!
Explore the Willamette Valley's Roads Less Traveled.

Petal Pedal is a gourmet distance "Century" bike ride like no other. You'll journey along scenic, quiet roads along mostly flat routes (with a hilly option to visit Silver Falls) as you drift away to another world.

Description: The ride starts and ends at The Oregon Garden, Oregon's premier botanical garden with over 80 acres of specialty areas. Your ride pass includes
  • breakfast
  • lunch
  • gourmet dinner
  • free beer
  • full support
  • access to the garden.

    Petal Pedal is a fully supported ride with three distances to choose from 100, 60 or 30 miles. You will enjoy riding on quiet rural roads, passing waterfalls and wineries, with friendly rest stops every 15 miles.

    Plan to stay all weekend and explore Silverton, the friendliest town in Oregon, and the surrounding area.
Camping facilities available at GeerCrest Farm! Pitch your tent, or sleep under the stars on this historic Century Farm! Then join us Sunday morning for a farm-fresh brunch!

Just $10 a night for camping or only $15 for both Friday & Saturday nights. Add $10 for Sunday Brunch ($5 for kids up through 12). Register via PayPal here.

Oil addiction generates denial | Energy Bulletin

A choice bit:

Little time left to deal with our addiction

Rising gasoline prices should ideally be welcomed as a warning of what is soon to come. One of the keenest observers of the geopolitics of oil and the precarious nature of our U.S. oil dependence is Michael Klare.

Because the American economy is so closely tied to oil, it is especially vulnerable to oil’s growing scarcity, price volatility, and the relative paucity of its suppliers. Consider this: at present, the United States obtains about 40% of its total energy supply from oil, far more than any other major economic power.
We will now have to prepare for major economic changes and high gas prices. Oil and politically sensitive gasoline prices have receded in price the last month, but this is in no way a sign that our lives can return to the cheap oil era of the past. We are busily preparing to fight Iran. The energy wars are heating up globally . The hour is getting late.
Klare now calls on Obama to be honest about the true gravity of our current situation.

President Obama has to be honest with the public. There is no solution to high prices, other than a change in the behavior of our energy use, because there is no cheap oil left on the planet. We have to begin a process of converting to alternative forms of energy or alternative forms of transportation. And he has to be honest.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Maybe your last chance for community garden plots for Summer

community gardens boston, gardens boston, mass. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Still time for plenty of good growing if you hurry!
There are two new gardens open for your use!

St. Francis Community Garden 1820 Berry St. SE, Salem, OR
8’x4’ plots, $10 for the season, or $15 for two.
Contact Claudia Howells: 503-363-6587

Salem SDA Community Garden 4625 Cordon Rd., Salem, OR
10’ x 10’ plots, $10 for the season.
Contact Berta Mirandez: (503) 409-2014

Other gardens with availability:

Fuente de Vida 3295 Ladd Ave. NE
Coordinator: Pamela Lyons-Nelson

Hammond Community Garden 4900 Bayne St. NE
Coordinator: Michelle Bertholf 503-463-5975

Julie's Garden 590 Elma St. SE
Coordinator: Cindy Kimball 503-385-1876

Southeast Salem Neighborhood Garden 410 19th St. SE
Coordinators: Marcia Hoak & Nicole McDavid 971-208-5402

West Salem Boys & Girls Club Community Garden 925 Gerth St. NW
Coordinator: Erin Boers 503-779-5912
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Goodbye to Bad Knowledge (Post-Peak-Oil Health Care)

The other major system crash that's coming, besides education, is in our sickness care "system," which is shot through and through with total dependency on economic growth fueled by the now-gone cheap energy.

In one sense, the end of cheap energy will mean better overall health.  America's obesity epidemic is really just a marker of how many energy slaves we all command.  Now that the once-per-planetary-lifetime cheap energy extravaganza is drawing to a close, so too will we see the end of the bad habits it produced, which all boil down to having machines do everything for us. 

BUT, there's a very rough transition ahead between now, when we have a huge overhang of people with bodies made sick by decades of dietary mistreatment and avoidance of exercise, and our future, when we won't be able to afford a sickness care system that continually spends a huge fraction of its total budget on people in their waning days, which ignoring the basic health needs of a giant and growing underclass of people.

Ultimately we are going to have to recognize that organizing access to health care through employment is a gigantic blunder, and that allowing the entire sickness care system to be structured around the profit motive is a recipe not just for lots more sickness and lots more profits, but essentially for making America a third-world country.   Given that Salem Hospital is laying off skilled workers even as people in Salem are increasingly shut out of affordable health care, the contradictions built into the system are soon going to be too great to ignore.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Get Ready for Another "Capital City Chicken Coop Tour" -- July 31

One of the most unappreciated things in Salem recently was the way a very small handful of folks worked very hard and for an absurdly long time to make a tiny step towards making Salem more resilient and better prepared for the hard times to come.  Sure, a small flock of laying hens in a few yards doesn't seem like much, but what CITY is really accomplishing is building connections, community, and (most important) capacity.  When the criminals on Wall St. finish their looting, a lot of people are going to be very, very insecure in their food; that's when having people around who know something about small-scale, urban poultry keeping is going to be a Godsend.
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CITY Newsletter - May 31, 2012

2nd Annual Capital City
Chicken Coop Tour - July 21st

Don't miss the 2nd Annual Capital City Coop Tour
It's lots of fun - for just $8 per vehicle

Tickets will go on sale in mid-June at the local businesses listed on the flyer.  They can also be purchased on the day of the event at Coop Tour Headquarters (1580 Roosevelt St NE in Salem) -- if not sold out by then.

Ten backyard coops in will be showcased, all within 10.3 miles, stretching from Northeast to South Salem. Eight of the coops were not featured last year so if you went in 2011 you will get to see new coops this year.

This is a self-guided tour, meaning you can visit some or all of the featured coops in any order you want, but we provide detailed driving directions along a suggested route.  It's fun to start off at Coop Tour Headquarters (Stop #1 on the map) for fun kick-off activities, refreshments, and a chance to meet Author, Gretchen Anderson, then continue on the tour as suggested.

You can stay as long or little as you wish at each stop. There will be a variety of coop styles and different chicken breeds to see. This is a great way to get some ideas for what might work in your backyard if you don't have chickens yet and are considering it.  If you already have chickens, it's a great way to meet other chicken people, share your knowledge, and become involved in community activities.

Owners will be present to answer all your questions and often let children feed the chickens through wire fencing. Feel free to wander and take pictures.

At just $8 per vehicle this is a fun and inexpensive family ev event and proceeds support our annual Habitat for Hens project (see article below).

A big THANK YOU to Shannon Ross and her daughter, Kendra, for making Salem's coop tour possible!
Free Chicken Class -  July 22nd

The day after our Coop Tour, author Gretchen Anderson will teach a FREE class called Backyard Chickens: A Beginner's Guide to Hen Keeping

The class will be held Sunday, July 22 from 2:00 to 3:30 pm at a location in west Salem.  Seating is limited, so you must sign up in advance by emailing me at  Once you've signed up, a seat will be reserved for you and you will be provided with the address.

Another Successful Habitat for Hens
Every spring volunteers gather to do something amazing - construct a chicken coop for a family that wants to raise chickens but can't afford the start-up costs.  We call this project Habitat for Hens and it's something we are very proud of. 

Not only do we build the lucky family a lovely coop and run, but we also provide the chickens, a waterer, feeder, oyster shell, grit, straw, pine shavings, bag of feed and metal storage container, and we even pay for their permit! 

We just completed our third Habitat for Hens build in northeast Salem (pictured above) and our efforts caught the attention of a writer for Chickens magazine.  Look for our story in the Sept/Oct issue.

This important project would not be possible without the help of my husband and Will & Kathie Thompson. Will kindly serves as construction leader, helping to draw the plans, purchase and deliver the materials, and oversee the construction.  Jon Hendersen, owner of Old Mill Feed & Garden, wasn't available to help build this year but generously donated all the chicken supplies and accessories. THANK YOU! 
Beware - Lots of predator sightings!
Chicken-killing predators like raccoons and opposums have been spotted recently in Salem neighborhoods, even during the day, which is unusual.  Be sure to keep garbage and pet food secured, make sure your coop is predator-proof, and don't leave free-ranging chickens unattended!

Assortment of Pullets still available!
Rhode Island Reds
(12-14 weeks old) are available from a local breeder. If interested, email Brett at:

Last week the Old Mill Feed & Garden store still had the following breeds available:

Black Australorps
White Leghorns
Black SexLinks
Golden SexLinks
Buff Orpintons
A word from a local Maran breeder
Hello to all from Calapooia Wings and More. We are a small farm that has a long interest in poultry. We presently raise Maran and Sumatra in standard and Sussex and Spangled Old English bantams. The Maran is a great chicken to start the hobby with, they are hardy, friendly and lay the most beautiful chocolate colored eggs we have produced in the last twenty years. We have mature hens and started pullets that will not have to be brooded available now. There are many chicken varieties today but you can't go wrong with the charming Black Copper Marans. We have one of the largest Maran flocks in the state, and we have been producing these great gems for three years. If you have an interest in the Marans, give me a call. Thank you and have a great chicken year.  Gary Bennett 541-367-6853.

Blue Copper Marans 

 Black Copper Maran

Dark brown Maran eggs  
Thank you!

All these items were donated by Old Mill Feed & Garden for the 2012 Habitat for Hens.
 Additional feed and grit was donated by Betty & Lud DeVito.

A special thanks to those who made this year's build possible:  Will & Kathie Thompson and my husband Ken! 

Chickens In The Yard • 851 Whitetail Deer St NW • Salem, OR 97304

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Tuesday, June 5, 2012

A must-read warning

As Salem ponders pouring hundreds of million$ down the drain on a pointless third auto bridge, here's a bracing reminder of what a foolish blunder this is from Dmitry Orlov, who observed the collapse of the USSR in frequent visits to his native land.
What does tend to change rather suddenly is commerce. If you have enough financial and political shenanigans, high-level corruption and rule of law going by the wayside, daily life goes on just like before, for a while—until suddenly it doesn’t. In St. Petersburg, Russia, the difference between the summers of 1989 and 1990 was quite striking, because by the summer of 1990 commerce ground to a halt. There were empty shelves in shops, many of which were closed. People were refusing to accept money as payment. Imports dried up, and the only way to procure sought-after items like shampoo was from somebody who had traveled abroad, in exchange for jewelry or other items of value. And that occurred in spite of the fact that the USSR had a better overall business plan: theirs was: “Sell oil and gas, buy everything.” Whereas the business plan of the US has come down to: “Print money, use it to buy everything” (most consumer products, plus ¾ of the oil used for moving them and everything else around). The imported oil is, of course, the Achilles’ heel of US commerce. The US economy was built around the principle that transportation costs don’t matter. Everything travels large distances all the time, mostly on rubber wheels, fueled by gasoline or diesel: people commute to work, drive to go shopping, taxi their children to and from various activities; goods move to stores in trucks; and the end product of all this activity—trash—gets trucked long distances as well. All of these transportation costs are no longer negligible; rather, they are fast becoming a major constraint on economic activity. The recurring pattern of the recent years is an oil price spike, followed by another round of recession. You might think that this pattern could continue ad infinitum, but then you’d just be extrapolating. More importantly, there is a reason to think that this pattern comes to a rather sudden end.

WORD: Tom Murphy: Time to be honest with ourselves about our looming energy risks | Energy Bulletin

Monday, June 4, 2012

Solarize Salem announces Round 3

If you have a good solar capacity at your property, you have a unique moment in which to take advantage of a price meltdown and historically unheard-of low interest rates to make a significant investment in diversifying and strengthening Salem's energy infrastructure.  The more of us who feed into the grid, the more resilient and less polluting the grid will be.   

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Stopped clock right this time: Stronger vocational education makes more sense than college for all |

Robert Samuelson is usually pretty bad, hovering down in George Will territory for vacuousness.  However, like a stopped clock that is right twice a day, he gets it right now and then.  The bursting of the higher ed bubble is one such moment, as people all over America are realizing that higher ed is not the driver of our well-being but an artifact made possible by the well-being that was powered by, mainly, less educated people having access to the amazing wealth provided by cheap energy.

Now that the cheap energy is a thing of the past, we can crank out all the degrees we like and we still won't bring back the growth economy.  The cargo cults of the South Sea Islands famously confused cause and effect, thinking that the Allied troops that brought all the cargo to the islanders could be lured back by thatch control towers that mimicked the ones that the troops had created when the war was on.  That's how most people think about education --- we rode a century-long oil boom to unimaginable prosperity and, in its wake, sent a lot of people into "higher ed" and gave out a lot of degrees.  But it wasn't the degrees that did it, and any attempt to keep the prosperity by continuing to overproduce people with degrees is going to send even more wealth into the black hole of nonproductive investment.

Not that we don't need educated people, badly.  But what we need is a serious upgrade in our understanding of what it means to be educated, and mainly for a revolution in our concept of education for citizenship.  The dominant paradigm in schools today is producing people capable of continuing on into higher ed, at great cost, for no obvious reason.  That is already failing, as the debt tsunami is taking that outmoded model out to sea.

Anyone interested in making a real, meaningful contribution to Salem's future should think about starting a charter school focused on giving young people the means and methods of educating themselves for the future.  Call it what you like, but the curriculum would be long on giving kids the analytical skills to understand what a gigantic ticking time bomb we've left in their beds, and the practical skills to cope with the effects of that, and the community building skills to nurture themselves as agents of their own destiny in a much more difficult world.  Done right, you'd combine the best of homeschooling with the best of cooperative education and apprenticeships and create some very formidable people.