Politics & Social Justice 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.”

Rock the Vote — Or Rock the Boat?

Thursday, November 1st, 2012

Less than one week remains before the 2012 elections. Last month we rounded up the ballot initiatives we’re most concerned about. How are these campaigns faring as the final weeks pass? Here’s a quick update on key issues important to the sustainably-minded.

THE FIGHT AGAINST GENETICALLY MODIFIED FOODS HEATS UP IN CALIFORNIA

The biggest issue facing homesteaders and anyone who cares about the state of agriculture today is encapsulated by California’s Proposition 37. This bill is the first serious ballot initiative ever to insist that foods containing genetically-modified organisms be clearly labeled so that consumers can choose whether or not we want to eat them.

For months, the pro-labeling cohort in California was polling way ahead of the opposition — but since the opposition is funded by big biotech corporations to the tune of millions of dollars, that overwhelming support has been eroded by misleading TV ads and even by illegal tactics such as impersonating government agencies in mailings.

Luckily, there’s still time to convince voters that the bill is important, and even if you don’t live in California you can help! Volunteer to phone bank for the issue, calling undecided voters and convincing them to vote yes on Prop 37. Find more information here.

Chelsea Green carries a number of books and DVDs on the trouble with GMOs. Author Jeffrey Smith’s books are still some of the best available, and his filmed talks are informative and inspiring. Take a look at the book Genetic Roulette, the DVD of the same name, and Seeds of Deception.

Coming next spring, Steven Druker’s new book Altered Genes, Twisted Truth will be another great resource for the movement. Currently, the first eight chapters of the book are available as an ebook sample, available for Kindle, Nook, and Kobo.

POLLS SHOW WIDESPREAD SUPPORT FOR MARIJUANA DECRIMINALIZATION

Marijuana is Safer argues that the public health problems caused by alcohol are far worse than those caused by pot, yet pot users are treated like criminals law enforcement. It doesn’t make sense, and for years campaigns to decriminalize the use of marijuana have been popping up across the nation. This year, according to NORML, polls are showing that many of the initiatives have enough support to pass. Of particular interest in 2012 is Colorado’s Amendment 64. From author Paul Armentano’s organization NORML:

“NORML enthusiastically endorses the Amendment 64. It restores the rights of adults who find marijuana a safer alternative to alcohol and tobacco. It preserves the rights of patients for whom marijuana is a safe and effective alternative to potentially addictive and fatal prescription drugs.”

Is there a measure on the ballot to end the war on pot in your state? Take a look at the various campaigns listed by NORML, here.

BINDERS FULL OF WOMEN?

Women’s rights are, unfortunately, up for grabs this election year as well. Not directly, but if you believe the campaign rhetoric then a vote for Mitt Romney for President is a vote against the historic Supreme Court decision Roe v. Wade. Not to mention conservative lawmakers continued absurd failure to grasp basic biology, or the fact that rape is — quite simply — a terrible crime.

Women’s rights issues are family issues, as President Barack Obama has been repeating for weeks. Madeleine M. Kunin’s book The New Feminist Agenda comes from exactly the same standpoint: in order to ensure women are treated equally, their role as family caretakers must be acknowledged and accommodated. For far too long women have been forced to make the impossible choice between career and motherhood. It’s time to re-imagine what equality looks like, and although we’re not in the business of endorsing candidates around here, we think it’s fairly clear that America isn’t going to solve these problems with nothing but “binders full of women.”

Corporate head offices full of women, Senate seats full of women, heck, even an Oval Office full of women? Now, that might do the trick.

ON POLITICS AND POWER IN GENERAL…

The national elections are filling the airwaves with “stuff”, as Joe Biden so politely put it in the Vice Presidential debate, but the high-rolling, high-tech campaigns are not the only realm of politics — and the power struggle embodied by the Democrats and Republicans is not the most important battle.

Chances are your hometown has some decisions to make too. Our new book Slow Democracy is a breath of fresh air in these times. An excerpt recently posted on CommonDreams explains the concept here.

“We propose Slow Democracy.  We recognize that the term is its own punch line: isn’t government agonizingly slow already?  Joking aside, our democracy has much to learn from the paradigm shift of the various “slow” movements.  Instead of seeing politics as the exclusive province of Washington, we should focus on the democratic possibilities in the neighborhoods and towns right where we live.  Local communities have the ability to address fundamental issues and create real change. Many of them have already done so.”

Read the rest of the excerpt at CommonDreams.org.

Never forget, even when you’re asked to make an absurd choice between an unsatisfying and deceitful incumbent, and a duplicitous, cynical newcomer, real power comes from within.

Bruce E. Levine articulates this in his latest book Get Up, Stand Up: Uniting Populists, Energizing the Defeated, and Battling the Corporate Elite. His recent article made waves online by asking the question, why are Americans so easy to manipulate?

The answer, according to Levine, traces the dodgy history of behaviorism in psychology, which rose alongside the consumer culture we’re so enmeshed in today.

“The corporatization of society requires a population that accepts control by authorities, and so when psychologists and psychiatrists began providing techniques that could control people, the corporatocracy embraced mental health professionals.”

Read the entire article here.

Levine’s ideas touch on controversial subjects such as the likely uselessness of psychiatric drugs, and the collusion of government with corporate oligarchs, but his message is empowering. If we open our eyes, come together, and stop accepting injustice, we can win, and we can fight for a better world than any political campaign is selling.

Slow Democracy is Here!

Monday, October 22nd, 2012

A Presidential election year always tests the patience of calm, thoughtful Americans who are often looking for serious solutions to the ills that face our communities.

Instead, we’re forced to listen to representatives from the two dominant corporate political parties do rhetorical cartwheels in the attempt to differentiate themselves — when really we know that who ever is elected chief for the next four years will probably act just about the same.

Real issues never come up in national elections. Case in point: Last week President Obama and Governor Romney actually argued about who could make gas prices go down. In an era of peak oil, climate change and increasing demand — really?!

Luckily, there are other ways of getting things done, making progress and taking care of your own neck of the woods — the community you care about most — in ways that are engaging, inclusive and empowering. Toward that noble end, we are proud to introduce our latest book, Slow Democracy: Rediscovering Community, Bringing Decision Making Back Home.

Authors Susan Clark and Woden Teachout offer examples from around the country of how towns and cities have come together to think creatively about how to solve their own problems, avoiding top-down decision making, partisan divisiveness, and finding solutions no expert would have had the understanding to propose.

Clark recently appeared on Vermont Edition. “Voting isn’t enough,” she told the hosts, “Democracy doesn’t happen in 20 minutes every 4 years.” Listen to the entire show here.How did these two women end up writing the book? The Preface introduces each one, and tells a little about where their ideas come from. It’s a great way to get acquainted with the concept of Slow Democracy, and you can read it right here.

Slow Democracy: Preface

Pre-Release Special: Slow Democracy!

Monday, October 15th, 2012

You’ve heard of Slow Food, Slow Money, even Slow Gardening. It’s amazing how fast the concept of slow has caught on.

Now the principles that guide the rest of the Slow movements — a focus on local and ethical instead of cheap and fast — are (finally!) being applied to politics with the new book Slow Democracy.

In Slow Democracy, community leader Susan Clark and democracy scholar Woden Teachout document the range of ways that citizens around the country are breathing new life into participatory democracy in their communities. Along with real-life examples of slow democracy in action, Clark and Teachout also provide twenty simple guidelines for communities, and citizens, to use as ways to reinvigorate their local democratic process.

Clark and Teachout hail from Vermont, a “politically monochromatic state the authors call ‘almost insanely liberal,’” where town meetings have long been a tradition in community-scale decision making. But even in Vermont, politics isn’t simple, and not everyone finds it easy to agree. A recent profile of the authors and their project in the Rutland Herald explains:

“‘Sitting down with people who are different is a real act of courage,’ Clark says, ‘but we need all of those minds in the room. All of us know more than any one of us. We can’t take away power on one hand and then bemoan citizen apathy and lack of volunteerism and engagement on the other.’

As for the ‘slow’ part?

‘Yes, local democracy and strengthening community takes time,’ Clark concludes. ‘So enjoy it.’”

Critics agree that the book makes a compelling case. Kirkus Reviews called the book “A valuable tool for improving the way government operates at the local level.”

Politics in America always seems to be for sale to the highest bidder. While we don’t advocate buying an election, we’d like to encourage you to buy this book, so we’re offering Slow Democracy for 25% off this week!

Two Chelsea Green Authors Made AlterNet’s Top Ten Most Popular List!

Monday, October 8th, 2012

In a world of rampant, shallow consumerism, and short-term thinking that affects everything from the food we are sold to the news we are offered, it’s great to have friends. Friends, for an independent publisher like Chelsea Green, are many things, but especially media outlets that share a mission similar to ours. Media outlets that seek the truth, that are informed by a genuine concern for the wellbeing of individuals and communities, and do their best to avoid the smirch of corporate and political money.

AlterNet is one of those media outlets, providing provocative and compelling news and essays for the progressively minded — or really anyone who’s paying attention.

AlterNet publishes articles by thousands of authors each year, on almost every topic and news item under the sun. Some of their more frequent contributors, including in-house writers and many of their best known authors, routinely gain audiences in the tens and sometimes hundreds of thousands, and re-spread by blog links, Facebook, reposting and beyond.

We love the work AlterNet does, and that’s why we were thrilled to see that two of our very own authors made their list of the Top Ten Most Popular articles from the past year!

Weighing in at number three is Paul Armentano, co-author of Marijuana is Safer: So Why are we Driving People to Drink? (a book that had, a few years ago, more Facebook fans than the Bible — but not quite as many as Harry Potter). Paul’s recent article, Five Scientific Conclusions About Cannabis That The Mainstream Media Doesn’t Want You To Know, made waves on the blogosphere.

As Paul and NORML, the group he heads, fight for decriminalization of marijuana, they’ve seen over and over again how the government and mainstream media like to push studies touting the purported dangers of marijuana, while ignoring scientific evidence that demonstrates the opposite.

Also on AlterNet’s Top Ten is Les Leopold, author of The Looting of America, and The Man Who Hated Work and Loved Labor. Les writes often about the systemic inequalities built into our economy.

His recent article, What If the Greedy Rich Paid Their Share? 8 Things to Know About Wealth and Poverty in the US, shows that we’re far from poor — we just have a wildly lopsided distribution of wealth that makes us seem poor.

AlterNet is funded by people, not corporations. If you love independent media, please consider donating to AlterNet to keep their work alive and well. You can make a secure, tax-deductible donation here.

Make Your Vote Count!

Tuesday, October 2nd, 2012

Elections are one month away, and without touching the Presidential race with a forty foot pole, we’d like to share some of the campaigns and initiatives we’re interested in. Take a gander, investigate the issues, and make your vote count!

If you live in California, you’ve probably heard about Proposition 37. This bill is big. It is the first serious movement to insist that foods containing genetically-modified organisms be clearly labeled so that we consumers can choose whether we want to eat them. The reason this bill is such an important step is owing largely to the size of the California market — the state is the world’s eighth largest economy. Labeling in California will lead to efforts elsewhere, including Vermont, where a GMO Labeling measure was accepted earlier this year. Vermont’s law will only go into effect if California’s passes.

For more information, you can follow the CA Right to Know organization, here. You can also follow the Organic Consumers Association. Author Jeffrey Smith has been writing on the GMO issue for years, and his books are still some of the best authorities on the subject. Take a look at Genetic Roulette, and Seeds of Deception. New this coming spring, Altered Genes, Twisted Truth will be another great resource for the movement. Author Stephen Druker is offering the first eight chapters of the book as an ebook sample, available for Kindle, Nook, and Kobo.

It may surprise you to find out that, for the past several years the perennial number one page on ChelseaGreen.com in terms of traffic is this: an excerpt from The Revolution will not be Microwaved on how to extract cannabis into oil or butter! And our book Marijuana is Safer was the “#1 Most Read Book of 2010” on Scribd. Chelsea Green fans care deeply about having the right to care for their health and choose the foods they want. Campaigns to decriminalize the use of marijuana have been ramping up across the nation. Is there one in your state? Take a look at the various campaigns listed by NORML, here.

Another topic of heated debate in this election cycle are various issues of women’s rights. It seems like a heck of a throwback to be discussing women’s rights to abortion and birth control in 2012, but with the coming advent of the Affordable Care Act conservatives have been up in arms about women’s reproductive rights. There’s a quick rundown of some candidate’s positions on women’s rights here.

Once the election season is past, one would hope we could move past these fundamental levels of discourse, and onward to issues of family care. Madeleine M. Kunin’s recent book, The New Feminist Agenda is the perfect jumping-off place for this kind of discussion.

Governor Kunin has been hitting the road this year, talking about the issues in her book, and women’s issues at large. She is speaking at the Goldman School of Public Policy in Berkeley tonight, and at Powell’s Books in Portland, Oregon on October 6 at 4pm. To stay abreast of all Ms. Kunin’s upcoming events, check here.

It’s easy to feel manipulated and cynical as a voter in the USA, but there are ample opportunities to make a difference — especially if you think local.

Take some time this month to get educated about the issues important to you, and rock the vote!

Killing the Cranes Now Available in Paperback

Tuesday, September 11th, 2012

Few reporters have covered Afghanistan as intrepidly and humanely as Edward Girardet. In his latest book, Killing the Cranes, Girardet delivers a story of that nation’s resistance fighters, foreign invaders, mercenaries, spies, aid workers, Islamic extremists, and others who have defined Afghanistan’s last thirty years of war, chaos, and strife.

Released last year in hardcover, Killing the Cranes was nominated for the Helen Bernstein award for outstanding journalism, was praised by the New York Review of Books, and was a finalist for ForeWord Reviews’ Book of the Year award in History.

Since the release of Killing the Cranes, the United States made concrete plans to end its combat mission in Afghanistan. This is a step in the right direction toward an autonomous nation that can fend for itself and keep corruption and terrorist organizations at bay — but what will be the lasting effects of our occupation?

One could look for clues in Girardet’s book, now available in paperback for the first time. Killing the Cranes traces the past thirty years of Afghan history, the forces that have shaped it, and some of the important players that have influenced it.

The paperback edition includes a new epilogue by Girardet. To celebrate its arrival we’re putting it on sale for 25% off until September 18.

In this video from PBS NewsHour, Girardet shares his perspective on the current state of affairs in the long-misunderstood middle eastern nation.

Watch Journalist Reflects on Covering 3 Decades of War in Afghanistan on PBS. See more from PBS NewsHour.

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

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


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