News posts from Shay's Archive


Playing Nuclear Roulette in Vermont

Tuesday, November 13th, 2012

Vermont’s lone nuclear reactor — Entergy-owned Vermont Yankee — has been named one of the five worst reactors in the United States, according to the new book Nuclear Roulette: The Truth about the Most Dangerous Energy Source on Earth, published by Chelsea Green Publishing.

For much of the past Vermont Yankee has been the focus of ongoing state and federal regulatory investigations, legislative battles, and ongoing courtroom drama. It started running in 1972, and was recently given a 20-year operating extension by the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission

This coming weekend, and into next week, activists will renew their attention to the aging reactor in hopes they can finish the work of the Vermont Senate a few years ago — close down Vermont Yankee permanently.

In this new work — which we’re offering on sale this week — investigative journalist Gar Smith lists five nuclear facilities as the “worst reactors” in the United States. They were chosen because they are representative of the poor regulatory oversight that has endangered the public, and poisoned the environment. Many other nuclear power sites around the country have equally disturbing records of poor performance, emergency shutdowns, and close calls, which Smith details in ample supply in Nuclear Roulette.

“The consequences of poor regulatory oversight can be seen in the operating histories of the country’s nuclear reactors,” writes Smith in  Nuclear Roulette.

The other four reactors are: Entergy-owned Indian Point in New York; Davis-Besse in Ohio, and Diablo Canyon and San Onofre in California.

Here is the section devoted to Vermont Yankee, which also exemplifies what happens when the industry and its lapdog regulators team up against the wishes of a state’s citizens and elected officials:

Vermont Yankee: The Green Mountain State vs. the NRC

On March 10, 2011, the NRC unanimously approved a 20-year license extension for the troubled Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant. Within hours of the decision, three similar General Electric Mark 1 reactors were knocked off-line by an earthquake in Japan—and all three overheated and exploded. Despite the devastation in Fukushima Prefecture, the NRC stood by its decision to allow the 40-year-old Vermont Yankee plant to continue operating through 2031. Given Vermont Yankee’s history of breakdowns and cover-ups—and the fact that a reactor accident here could put more than a million Americans at risk—the watchdog group Beyond Nuclear excoriated the NRC’s decision as both “audacious” and “reckless.”

Vermonters received another jolt when it was revealed that the NRC had voted to extend Vermont Yankee’s license even though its inspectors had discovered that critical electric cables powering the plant’s safety systems had been “submerged under water for extended periods of time.”

It was not the only maintenance failure of Entergy Corp., which had acquired the plant in 2002. The company has a reputation for “buying reactors cheap and running them into the ground.” In 2004, a poorly maintained electrical system set off a large fire in the plant’s turbine building that forced an emergency shutdown. In 2007, Vermont Yankee experienced a series of maintenance problems that included the dramatic collapse of a cooling tower. A waterfall of high-pressure water burst from a ruptured cooling pipe and tore a gaping hole in the plant’s wall. Entergy was able to hide the damage—but only until a concerned employee leaked a photo of the wreckage to the press. The huge gap in the side of the building was reminiscent of the hole in the side of the Pentagon following the 9/11 attacks.

Tritium + Entergy = Perjury

During state hearings in 2009, Entergy executives were asked if radioactive tritium detected in the soil and groundwater near the reactor could have leaked from the plant. Company officials repeatedly swore under oath that this was impossible since there were no underground pipes at the plant. It was not until January 2010, after a leak of radioactive tritium was traced to a series of subsurface pipes, that Entergy changed its story. While the plant didn’t have “underground pipes,” Entergy now explained, it did have “buried pipes.”

Attorney general William Sorrell began a 17-month investigation during which Entergy’s former executive vice president Curtis Hebert admitted that the company’s statements about the pipes “could have been more accurate.” The state ordered Entergy to remove more than 300,000 gallons of radioactive water fron the soil and ground water at the reactor site, and Vermont governor Peter Shumlin demanded the plant’s closure.

There’s another waste problem at the plant: a large and potentially lethal stockpile of used fuel rods. While Fukushima’s six reactors had between 360 and 500 tons of slowly dying fuel rods on-site, the nuclear graveyard at Vermont Yankee is filled with 690 tons of dangerously radioactive waste. And the storage pools for this spent fuel lack both backup cooling systems and backup generators.

Beyond Nuclear’s “Freeze Our Fukushimas” campaign, which aims to close all 23 Mark 1 reactors in the United States, hoped to score its first victory when Vermont Yankee’s 40-year operating license expired on March 21, 2012. The odds were improved by the fact that Vermont is the only state that gives lawmakers the authority to veto a nuclear power plant. In February 2010, a month after Entergy’s tritium scandal was exposed, the Vermont Senate voted 26–4 against issuing a new “certificate of public good” that would allow Vermont Yankee to continue operating.

Entergy Sues Vermont

In April 2011, Entergy’s lawyers responded by suing the governor and the state, claiming, “We have a right to continue operation.” On January 19, 2012, federal judge Garvan Murtha ruled that only the NRC could close a nuclear plant, and therefore Entergy was entitled to its new 20-year operating license. Murtha also made it clear that the Green Mountain State was not entitled to raise any questions regarding plant safety or the prices charged for nuclear power—under federal law, only the NRC could raise such matters.

The decision alarmed Beyond Nuclear and other critics who feared the nuclear industry and the federal government were working in concert “to pre-empt a state’s right to self determination for an energy future in the public good.” Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) quickly weighed in. “If Vermont wants to move to energy efficiency and sustainable energy,” Sanders told the Burlington Free Press, “no corporation should have the right to force our state to stay tethered to an aging, problem-ridden nuclear plant.”

Eight days after the judge’s decision, Entergy refused the state’s second request to investigate the source of a tritium leak that had poisoned a drinking well on the plant’s property. On July 25, 2011, Entergy further demonstrated its disregard for due process by announcing a $60 million refueling project—an investment that would pay off only if the power plant won its extension.

Entergy’s lawyers publicly confirmed their understanding that the company still needs the permission of Vermont’s Public Service Board (a quasi-official board that oversees Vermont’s utilities) if it is to continue operating its reactors. In a responding press release, however, the state’s Department of Public Service (which represents the interests of utility customers in cases brought before the Public Service Board) cautioned, “Past experience shows Entergy cannot be taken at its word.”

In a daunting struggle that pits 600,000 Vermonters against the US government, the nuclear industry, and the NRC, the state attorney general vowed to appeal Judge Murtha’s decision—all the way to the US Supreme Court, if necessary.

“People don’t trust the NRC,” Bob Audette, a reporter for the Brattleboro Reformer told a film crew from the Center for Investigative Reporting (CIR). “They think it’s the lapdog of the industry. They think it’s there basically to affirm everything the industry does. It’s too cozy with the industry.”

In another interview with the CIR, Anthony Roisman, a legal consultant for New York and Vermont, expressed his concerns with the NRC: “This regulatory agency does not regulate effectively. And until it does, there is no way that the public can have any confidence that plants, whether they are licensed or re-licensed, won’t have some catastrophic event. No one will benefit from a post-catastrophic-event hand-wringing that says, ‘Oh we should have done this and we’ll do better next time.’ The consequences are unimaginable.”

Don’t Just Kick Back & Relax, Get Active: It’s Labor Day

Monday, September 3rd, 2012

Happy Labor Day! We sincerely hope if you’re reading this, that it’s not at work, but at home, at rest or among friends, or doing something you love — fermenting food, making some cheese or working on a few home projects to boost your resiliency and reduce your ecological footprint.

Or, maybe you’re just grilling. Or, maybe there is still such a thing as a Labor Day parade in your community — one that actually celebrates workers.

In 1884, Congress passed a law making the first Monday of every September “Labor Day,” a day set aside to celebrate the social and economic achievements of the everyday worker, especially union workers. Workplace safety regulations? An eight-hour workday? Paid sick and vacation days? Weekends? Yeah, thank those early labor unions — not vulture capitalists, bankers or the 1 percent.

We at Chelsea Green have a lot to celebrate this labor day, and want to invite you to share in our good cheer.

As many of you know, in late June the company sold control of its stock to its employees by creating an ESOP (Employee Stock Ownership Plan).  Essentially, that means that now close to 80 percent of the company’s stock is held by its employees. The remainder of the stock remains in the control of Ian and Margo Baldwin, who founded Chelsea Green in 1984 on the South Green in Chelsea, Vermont. Margo Baldwin is currently the company’s president and publisher and will maintain that role for the foreseeable future.

Around the same time as the ESOP was created. Chelsea Green was recognized by ForeWord Reviews as its 2011 Independent Publisher of the Year, in which the company was recognized for its “significant contributions in the categories of politics and sustainable living.” This year (to date) we’ve also landed our fourth book  on The New York Times bestseller list, with Sandor Katz’s The Art of Fermentation landing at number 14.

This doesn’t happen without a lot of hard work from all us grasshoppers here at Chelsea Green.

Given the company’s long-term mission of publishing ideas to help communities remain resilient and businesses sustainable while connecting to their sense of place, making the move to an employee-owned model is an example of the company practicing what it publishes.

“Ian and I are thrilled that the company has taken this important step and look forward to working with our employees to advance the mission and to create an even more successful and profitable company in the years to come,” added Margo Baldwin. National studies have shown ESOPs to outperform their private sector counterparts in terms of overall profitability, productivity, employee retention and employee earnings.

To celebrate, we’re putting a handful of our key labor-focused and sustainable business and economic books on sale. They include Les Leopold’s fantastic biography of Tony Mazzocchi, a major figure in the modern labor movement and John Abrams’ inspirational book on workplace democracy and equality, Companies We Keep.

And, if these books aren’t of interest, check out the forthcoming books that will soon arrive in a bookstore near you (in fact, some may have already).

So, enjoy – and seriously, don’t work too hard. But, if you do, work toward this vision of Tony Mazzocchi’s as explained by his longtime friend and biographer Les Leopold:

“Tony’s big ideas led to Tony’s big actions—and both differentiated him from nearly every other modern labor leader. He built bridges from the often insular labor movement to all of the other major movements of his time—feminism, environmentalism, antiwar, civil rights. He was instrumental in building the occupational health and safety movement, the environmental health movement, and labor-environmental alliances, as well as in creating a new generation of worker-oriented occupational health professionals. Thousand of workers’ lives were spared as a result.

He was anti-corporate to the core. He thought that the drive for every-increasing profits was in fundamental conflict with public health, workers health and safety, and a sound environment. He feared that growing corporate power could lead to authoritarianism. The antidote was growing democratic unions with an active rank and file. Most of all, he thought we had it all backward: The purpose of life was not to toil until we dropped to enrich someone else. Rather it was to live life to its fullest by working less, not more.”

A wise man. Happy Labor Day.

SUGGESTED BOOKS

Sandor Katz: The Acres U.S.A. Interview

Thursday, July 26th, 2012

The latest book from fermentation revivalist Sandor Katz — The Art of Fermentation — has been a huge hit with fermentos and foodies alike, which is evidenced by it reaching The New York Times bestseller list for two weeks in a row.

The two interviews on NPR’s “Fresh Air” program have certainly helped fuel interest in Sandor and the new book, which is about the most comprehensive guide to fermentation that you’ll find in print today.

If you’re a subscriber to Acres U.S.A.: The Voice of Eco-Agriculture (and you should be), you’re in for a real treat in their August issue, which will hit mailboxes, and subsequently newsstands, soon.Our friends at Acres U.S.A. are printing one of the most comprehensive, and therefore fascinating, interviews with Sandor since his new book has hit bookstores.

Here’s a snippet from their introduction to the interview:

Sandor Katz is our leading apostle of fermentation, a tireless explainer and promoter of just about anything that involves beneficial molds and bubbling broth, ending in something tangy, tart, sour or sweet. Or more likely, some combination of those. (. . . ) He spoke at the Acres U.S.A. Conference in 2004, and as anyone who was there or anyone who has seen him in another forum can attest, his enthusiasm is infectious.  — Chris Walters

After this introduction, Walter and Katz delve deeply into a variety of topics covered in The Art of Fermentation, from Sumerian beer to the important connection between fermentation and agriculture.

Here’s one exchange:

ACRES U.S.A. One of the terms you use in your book seems especially fertile with meaning — cultural ecology. What does the concept mean to you?

KATZ: Each of those words in themselves has an interesting, multi-layered meaning. There’s a very specific microbiological and fermentation connotation of the word “culture,” where the cultures are the communities of organisms that we introduce into something when we want to guide them toward the specific type of fermentation. You have some mature yogurt, you want to turn your new milk into yogurt, so you culture it with a little bit of the old batch. We call these communities themselves cultures, we call the act of introducing them into what we wish to ferment “culturing,” and we call the products cultured foods. We use the same word, “culture,” to describe this much larger thing which is language, music, science, and belief systems — really the totality of all the things that people seek to pass down from generation to generation. I think that cultured foods are intrinsic to culture, and I think these are more than incidental culinary novelties. They’ve been very important in the evolution of culture in different ways and different places. Now the ecology, when I talk about cultural ecology, I guess I’m mostly talking about in a microbial sense. We could talk about the cultural ecology of our gut, or we could talk about the cultural ecology of our kitchens, the environments in which we might be trying to ferment things, and every environment would be a little bit different. I think that these are really rich, multi-layered words and concepts with lots and lots of distinct meanings embedded within them. Cultural ecology is an important concept — it exists within us, it exists within the foods that we eat, it exists in the environments which we inhabit, and it exists at all these different levels.

It’s truly a phenomenal interview, and Acres U.S.A. is giving Chelsea Green readers a special chance to download a free PDF of the interview in advance of the magazine hitting the newstands – for which we’re greatly appreciative. In turn, we’re asking our readers who aren’t already subscribers to Acres U.S.A. to take a gander at the publication and consider subscribing and supporting another independent publisher that shares a similar mission when it comes to food, agriculture, the environment, and sustainability. You won’t be disappointed.

Occupy World Street: The Music Video

Monday, July 23rd, 2012

This may be a first for Chelsea Green: An author who’s created a music video to promote his book.

The author is Ross Jackson, of Denmark, and the book is Occupy World Street: A Global Roadmap for Radical Economic and Political Reform. The book shows how the uprisings around the world stem from a similar source: A populist response to the selfish, swashbuckling behavior of global financial elites who wreck economies and then call on governments to enact punishing “austerity” measures that keep them off the hook (and out of jail), while further harming people already in distress.

The book also offers a roadmap for how several countries, banding together, could break away from the boom and bust neoliberal economic cycles and chart a new bath based on shared prosperity and sustainability.

You think he’d be satisfied with offering such a radical, but at the same time rational, view of the world. Nope. Jackson is now offering us a global sing-a-along — a protest song that we can all get behind. We’ve embedded the video below for your viewing, and singing, pleasure.

The catchy folk song — written and composed by Jackson who also appears in the video strumming a guitar and sauntering the streets — is an homage to the Occupy movement that has seen occupations spring up around the world, often fueled by the imagination and anger of the younger generation. Jackson also uses the song to offer a critique of the Euro and why it’s been so damaging to sovereign economies.

We’re posting the complete lyrics below so you can sing along to Jackson’s ditty. You can also find a downloadable lyric sheet on Jackson’s website, where he’s calling himself “The Singing Economist.”

Let’s see Paul Krugman top that. We’re waiting.

OWS The Song – Lyrics
Written by Ross Jackson, June 2012   

Well I walked downtown to Zuccotti Park.
It was 6 p.m. and getting dark
When I saw a young couple chattin’ and drinkin’ cokes.
I asked them what was going on here,
And the young lady answered loud and clear,
“We’re here to send a message to our folks.

“This land was once the land of the free,
Of justice and democracy.
Now America’s lost her way and got off track.
One man one vote was the order then.
Now our land’s been stolen by the money men
And all of us here are just trying to get it back.”

Occupy New York City
Occupy Santa Fe
Occupy Cincinnati
Occupy San José

We might be in Salt Lake City
Or in Washington D.C.
¬Speaking out for human
Rights and more equality.

The young man said his name was Bob
And recently he’d lost his job.
His firm had pulled up stakes and moved offshore.
“They say it’s cheaper in Shanghai
Where profit rates are record high
And they don’t pay much in taxes anymore”.

“The one percenters cheat and steal
And don’t produce a thing that’s real.
Asset speculation is their style.
These guys are parasites,” he said.
“They ought to get real jobs instead,
And make a contribution that’s worthwhile”.

Occupy San Francisco
Occupy Wichita
Occupy Sacramento
Occupy Omaha

Occupy Minnesota
Occupy Tennessee
Standing up for nature
And sustainability

Then I went to Europe to just check out
What the euro fuss was all about.
The youth are without jobs and that’s the key.
The young folks want their countries back
But leaders take a different tack;
Bank bailouts and more austerity.

The euro was a big mistake;
A backdoor to a Eurostate
That citizens would rather be without.
The people want a deal that’s fair
Where bankers pay their rightful share.
Until that day they’ll roam the streets and shout.

Occupy Copenhagen
Occupy Birmingham
Occupy Londonderry
Occupy Amsterdam

We are camping out in Athens
As we make a final plea:
“We’d rather leave the euro
Than have more austerity.”

We will occupy Milano
Occupy Luxembourg
Occupy Barcelona
Occupy this whole world

Now our numbers they are growing,
And we won’t accept defeat,
Time to end injustice;
Time to Occupy World Street

Time to end injustice………..

Time to Occupy World Street

Ralph’s Right: Get Up, Stand Up

Tuesday, July 17th, 2012

Ralph Nader (yes, that Ralph Nader), the longtime consumer activist, Green Party candidate for President, abolitionist of the two-party system, and consummate curmudgeon recently recommended one of Chelsea Green’s books as one of 11 summer readings “to activate the citizen’s mind.”

We like to think many of our books – on topics ranging from fermentation to what life on Earth might be like in 2052 – activate the citizen’s mind. So, it’s nice to see someone of Nader’s stature agree with our internal assessment.

So, what is this book? We’ll let Nader deliver the title and his synopsis of why it’s an important book:

Get Up, Stand Up: Uniting Populists, Energizing the Defeated and Battling the Corporate Elite by Bruce E. Levine, Chelsea Green, 2011. Going beyond the how-to-become-active civic handbook, Levine, a clinical psychologist invites us to explore what he calls the “learned helplessness” that has “taken hold for a great many Americans…locked into an abuse syndrome in which revelations about their victimization by a corporate-government partnership produce increased anesthetization rather than constructive action.” The author, citing historian Lawrence Goodwy, then shows many ways toward “individual self-respect” and “collective self-confidence,” the “cultural building blocks of mass democratic politics.”

We couldn’t be happier for Levine, whose works — Get Up, Stand Up and Surviving America’s Depression Epidemic — and his relentless magazine writing and blogging have made him a must-read for the anti-authoritarian set.

Also included on Nader’s summer reading list is Days of Destruction Days of Revolt by Chris Hedges and Joe Sacco (Nation Books, 2012), When the World Outlawed War by David Swanson (self published, 2011), Corporations Are Not People by Jeffrey D. Clements (Berrett-Koehler,  2012, and The Responsible Company: What We’ve Learned From Patagonia’s First 40 Years by Yvon Chouinard & Vincent Stanley (Patagonia Books, 2012).

Good company, eh?

If you haven’t yet read Get Up, Stand Up, we’re making a 20-page section of Chapter 4 — titled “Energy to Do Battle: Liberation Psychology, Individual Self-Respect, and Collective Self-Confidence” — available as a free download in hopes you might take a second look thanks to Nader’s recommendation.

Included in this download is Levine’s nine ways of “Identifying an Abusive Institution or Individual” and six “Recommendations for Healing from Corporatocracy Abuse.” Great tools to help ensure that a healthy movement is comprised of healthy people.

Here’s another tidbit you can find in the download:

“It is in the interest of the elite to keep people divided and to keep them distrust- ing one another. It is in the interest of people working toward democracy to build respectful and cooperative human relationships across all levels of society.

“When one understands that the battle for democracy begins with the battle to restore individual self-respect and collective self-confidence, one then sees the entire society and culture replete with battlefields in which such self-respect and collective confidence can be won or lost.”

We hope, after reading this selection that you’ll “want to disturb your routine and enliven your vision for human possibilities” as Nader notes at the end of his list, that you’ll get up and order a copy of the book, or borrow a copy from your local library.

Energy to do Battle – An Excerpt from Get Up, Stand Up

The Art of Fermentation is Now a New York Times Bestseller!

Friday, July 13th, 2012

All you fermentation fanatics, it’s time to get out your crocks, lift a glass of kombucha and rejoice! Thanks, in part, to you and your devotion to this craft The Art of Fermentation by Sandor Ellix Katz is now a New York Times bestseller! Sandor’s weighty tome of all things fermented landed Friday at number 14 in the “Hardcover Advice and Miscellaneous” category.

Sandor’s bubbling up to the Times list marks only the fourth time in company history that one of Chelsea Green Publishing’s books has made it to the bestseller list. Chelsea Green’s previous books that made the Times‘ bestseller list were: Don’t Think of an Elephant! by George Lakoff (2004); The End of America by Naomi Wolf (2007); and, Obama’s Challenge by Robert Kuttner (2008).

At Number 14 on the list, Sandor’s book was tucked in between Go the Fuck to Sleep (13) and How Will You Measure Your Life? (15) on the Times’ extended list.

If you haven’t had a chance to check out Sandor’s book, take a moment to:

In the meantime, we want to extend a big congratulations to Sandor — a well-deserved honor for this self-described fermentation fetishist whose workshops and pure enthusiasm and joy for this age-old, DIY craft have helped to fuel its renaissance. How many of you out  there own his earlier book Wild Fermentation? I thought so.

It’s been a heady couple of weeks here at Chelsea Green: We were named 2011 Independent Publisher of the Year by ForeWord Reviews; we just announced that the company’s ownership has been transferred to its employees; and, now a New York Times bestseller.

What a way to close out the first half of the year, eh? And, we still have another half of a year to go. Whew.

Meet the New Owners of Chelsea Green Publishing: The Employees!

Monday, July 2nd, 2012

WHITE RIVER JUNCTION, VT — Independent book publisher Chelsea Green announced today that it has become an employee-owned company, with close to 80 percent of its stock to be held by its employees.

The move makes Chelsea Green unique among book publishers in an industry dominated by investor-driven, multinational corporations. Only a handful of independent book publishers can claim employee-ownership status, and of those Chelsea Green will be near the top in terms of the percentage controlled by employees.

The transaction, completed on June 29, allows a minority portion of the company’s privately held stock to be held by Ian and Margo Baldwin, who founded Chelsea Green in 1984 on the South Green in Chelsea, Vermont. Margo Baldwin is currently the company’s president and publisher and will maintain that role for the foreseeable future.

“Selling to our employees was the only way we could ensure the company could remain independent and stay in Vermont,” said Margo Baldwin. “The only one real way to repay investors, traditionally, is to sell. Our investors have been very patient over the years and this offered a way in which they could be repaid and allow Chelsea Green to continue its important role in the marketplace as an independent publisher.”

Chelsea Green was recently recognized by ForeWord Reviews as its 2011 Independent Publisher of the Year, in which the company was recognized for its “significant contributions in the categories of politics and sustainable living.” It also recently landed its fourth book  on The New York Times bestseller list, with Sandor Katz’s The Art of Fermentation landing at number 14.

Given the company’s long-term mission of publishing ideas to help communities remain resilient and businesses sustainable while connecting to their sense of place, making the move to an employee-owned model is an example of the company practicing what it publishes.

“Ian and I are thrilled that the company has taken this important step and look forward to working with our employees to advance the mission and to create an even more successful and profitable company in the years to come,” added Margo Baldwin. National studies have shown ESOPs to outperform their private sector counterparts in terms of overall profitability, productivity, employee retention and employee earnings.

Chelsea Green joins a growing list of Vermont employee-owned companies, such as King Arthur Flour, Gardener’s Supply, PC Construction, and Carris Reels, among others.

Chelsea Green continues to buck the trend in the publishing industry in other ways — closing out yet another profitable year in 2011 with increased sales from the previous year. Unlike others in the industry, Chelsea Green has remained focused on publishing strong content that is valued by its readers—an active community that Chelsea Green is in continual engagement through the active use of social media and author appearances.

In 2012, so far, Chelsea Green has been adding staff in an effort to expand its digital offerings, and improve its existing online presence as well as provide greater outreach and publicity support for its authors.

The New York Times: Madeleine Kunin “is almost unimpeachably right”

Thursday, May 10th, 2012

The New York Times Sunday Book Review features — on its cover no less — a glowing review of Madeleine M. Kunin’s forthcoming title The New Feminist Agenda: Defining the Next Revolution for Women, Work, and Family.

Judith Warner’s review of Kunin’s book is juxtaposed against the new book by Elisabeth Badinter, The Conflict: How Modern Motherhood Undermines the Status of Women. One book is “right” and the other is “wrong,” and we’re pleased to report that Kunin’s book is the right one.

“[W]hereas Badin­ter’s argument is beautiful and essentially wrong, Kunin — Pollyanna-ish faith in the family-friendly nature of female politicians aside — is almost unimpeachably right, as she diagnoses what we in Ameri­ca need, why we’ve never gotten it, and how we may have some hope of achieving change in the future,” writes  Warner, the author of We’ve Got Issues: Children and Parents in the Age of Medication.

We couldn’t have said it better ourselves.

Warner lauds Kunin’s use of ample details and examples of what states — or countries — are enacting family-friendly policies that empower parents and support children.

But, as Warner observes, while there may be public support for much of what Kunin proposes as solutions to the work-family balance that is out of whack, how to get there?

“[T]here has to be a way to turn public opinion — which according to Kunin is overwhelmingly favorable to paid sick days and family and medical leave — into something like a movement. A movement as motivating, gut-­compelling and passionate as the forces now arrayed for and against abortion rights. She acknowledges this is a tall order. ‘Could we hold a march for family­/work policies in Washington? Would anybody come?’ she asks shrewdly. ‘Or would they be too tired, too busy, too scared of losing their jobs to attend?’

“It’s a good question,” Warner posits. “How do you get today’s moms, and all their equally overtaxed potential allies, to show up for a revolution? Perhaps we need a 21st-century Gloria Steinem, a multi­tasking, minivan-driving, media-savvy soccer mom (or dad) with just enough of a hint of glamour to make protest as appealing a prospect as Girls’ Night Out.”

Indeed. Any takers?

If so, chime in on Madeleine Kunin’s Facebook page. Or, send her a note on Twitter.

The New Feminist Agenda is available in stores now and officially launches Sunday, which is, appropriately, Mother’s Day.

Speaking of Sunday, Madeleine Kunin will be the featured author on the Firedoglake Book Salon, with a discussion led by author Amanda Marcotte. Be sure to log in and join the chat.

Provocative Book Presents Stark Reality for the Next 40 Years

Thursday, May 10th, 2012

Forty years ago Limits to Growth addressed the grand question of how humans would adapt to the physical limitations of planet Earth while in pursuit of limitless growth.

Next month, Chelsea Green will publish 2052, a provocative new book that examines what our future will look like in the next forty years. Written by Jorgen Randers, one of the original authors of Limits, as well as its subsequent updates (Beyond the Limits and Limits to Growth: The 30-Year Update), the book probes what the world will actually be like in forty years.

Guess what? It’s not looking good for humanity. That’s what happens when you ignore the warnings first issued in Limits. As in, you can’t push an economic model fueled by limitless profits and resources when, in fact, we live on a finite planet. Mix that in with dysfunctional democracies — such as ours in the United States — that are bought and sold by corporations who profit from our addiction to fossil fuels and the conflicts that erupt as a result (war, etc.)

Earlier this week, the Club of Rome — which commissioned the original report that culminated in Limits to Growth as well as the report that has culminated in 2052 – presented the book’s key findings at the annual conference of the World Wildlife Fund.

In his introduction (video linked here and embedded below) to delivering some of the book’s key findings, Randers  related the current work, and warnings, to those issued four decades ago.

“The big question at the outset, was: ‘Will the world overshoot and collapse?’ This was the warning that my friends and I made in 1972 in the Limits to Growth book where we basically said because of the decision delays in international governance systems, the world will be allowed to expand beyond its sustainable capacity, and then sooner or later it will be forced back down to sustainable territory and this will an unpleasant development. We are now forty years down the line and it is perfectly obvious that world has already overshot. At the time, in 1972, our critics said that human society is not going to be so stupid as to let the world move into non-sustainable territory. Well, we now are in unsustainable territory.”

A key example is global greenhouse gas emissions, and the rising temperature of the planet.

Reaction to the report’s findings and the media event has been swift, and rightly so, including this nice synopsis from New Zealand.

The book challenges the US-dominated belief that we can continue to tap the planet’s limited resources to fuel unlimited growth. In fact, the ecological footprint created by this type of economic activity is likely to do just the opposite.

In short, the US will see a general stagnation of growth for decades to come because our dysfunctional democracy — which bends to the needs of the private market rather than the social good — hinders us from focusing on solutions. I mean, let’s face it — members of Congress,  media pundits, and even the current administration continue to talk  up the need to increase our dependence on fossil fuels by drilling in the Arctic, boosting domestic oil production, or allowing tar sands to be imported from Canada.

Already critics are crying foul — this is some grand socialist, environmental whacko experiment to enslave us all to some UN colony. For some critics, Randers isn’t alarmist enough and they believe he is underestimating how quickly the planet will heat up, and the consequences of it — including poverty, famine and increasingly low birth rates as more families are forced to choose between survival and bringing new lives into the world.
Below is a video from Randers’ presentation at the WWF forum. Watch and determine for yourself whether you believe Randers is over, or under, estimating what could happen in the future.

Keep in mind as you listen: One of the original schematics laid out in Limits to Growth — rapid growth followed by what is called “overshoot” of resources and then a decline — has largely played out as predicted as this Smithsonian article demonstrates.

With such potentially depressing news, it’s nice to see the younger generation taking up the call to arms and suing their elders for screwing up things to badly. Maybe there is hope that change can be forced more rapidly than our failing democratic systems allow.

Studen Loan Debt, Not Loan Rates, Is the Bigger Issue

Thursday, April 26th, 2012

As politicians stumble over themselves to agree on a legislative no-brainer — keeping student loan rates low — they are missing a bigger issue for many students and recent graduates: Student loan debt.

In a compelling new opinion piece posted on CNN.com, DIY U author Anya Kamenetz (Chelsea Green, 2010) argues that politicians should be focusing on debt forgiveness, not just keeping loan rates low.

She notes:

Some recent polls have shown that support for Obama among young voters, once Obama’s enthusiastic fans, may be waning in this election compared with four years ago. Student loans are seen by some as the president’s chosen key to regaining their hearts. But really, the issue has been raised for him by the Occupy movement, gearing up this May 1 with a new set of actions focusing on the cost of college and the depredations of the student loan industry.

Additionally, almost 700,000 people have signed a petition sponsored by MoveOn.org for student loan forgiveness, started by lawyer and student-loan debtor Robert Applebaum. And the Student Loan Forgiveness Act of 2012, introduced by U.S. Rep. Hansen Clarke, D-Michigan, last month, is aimed at offering relief.

What’s at stake here is the basic equation of the American dream: Hard work plus merit equals opportunity. As usually happens, hard times have led to cuts in support to public education and attendant tuition hikes. Young people are graduating into a dismal job market with an average of more than $25,000 in debt. Loan default rates were up sharply last year, and many graduates are questioning the value of their education. In eight years of covering and advocating for student debtors, I’ve never seen such a level of public outcry.

In lieu of this renewed, election year interest in young folks (ahem) we here at Chelsea Green are offering a free download of a particularly salient chapter from Kamenetz’s 2010 book that leads off with – ironically enough – candidate Barack Obama at a Hofstra University forum on the rising cost of higher education.

Kamenetz then walks readers through just how this generation of students is facing some of the most crushing debtloads in order to attend post-secondary institutions. She also expertly lays out a three-part plan to reduce the overall cost of higher ed in the United States, including a call to restore free college tuition. Colleges didn’t always cost so much, and there are even some out there today where students graduate debt-free. What a concept.

Chapter 3 – Economics, An Excerpt from DIY U: Edupunks, Edupreneurs, and the Coming Transformation of Highe…


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