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Diner TV / Doomstead Diner I Spy Doom Returns!
« on: May 20, 2018, 05:58:26 PM »

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Published on the Doomstead Diner You Tube Channel on May 20, 2018

Discuss this Video at the Diner TV Table inside the Diner


Before you drop in here to criticize me for the lighting issues with this first new video, they will be corrected by the next one.  This vid was actually just supposed to be a test run for a minute or two to see how it came out, but I got on a Rant Roll and went for around 12 minutes!  All unscripted and spontaneous Collapse Information revolving around my latest adaptations to my increasingly severe Crippledom as I negotiate the World of Collapse and try to stay above ground too!  So Since I didn't have a Blog ready for today's  Sunday Brunch Blog, I decided I would go ahead and publish it.

I haven't had a lot of motivation for writing lately, at least at any respectable length anyhow.    The Collapse Doomosphere has been exceptionally boring lately, and basically everyone is living BAU and waiting for the next shoe to drop.  Which it will of course, just nobody knows exactly when that will happen or what form it will end up taking?  Will it be Nuke War?  Interbank Lending lockup?  Trumpsky revealed to be having a torrid affair with Killary?

These days I am way more concerned with my personal Collapse than with the Global one, although one is a nice metaphor for the other.  As your personal ability to do all sorts of things on a daily basis you used to do without even thinking about them, it's much like the lights in your digs going out unexpectedly.  Now what do I do?  So I am making a lot of changes and adaptationds here to  my personal "new normal".  I still remain hopeful these issues will be properly diagnosed and treated  so I can see some improvement and not the steady deterioration toward death, on the Local Train.  Let me tell you, when your time for your meeting with the Grim Reaper arrives, you want to be on the Express Train to the Great Beyond.  The Local is painfully slow.

Anyhow, I hope you enjoy the return of the Frosbite Falls Daily Rant & I Spy Doom in the new incarnation.  I do promise once again to get all my llighting and set decortions spruced up in the next few episodes.

Frostbite Falls Newz / 👨‍⚕️ The Daily Criminal Racketeer
« on: May 18, 2018, 01:45:51 AM »
A new thread chronicling the antics of those Honest Professionals who steal us blind every day when we are sick or in pain.

Kickoff article below.


Doctor bought jet and Maserati from proceeds of unnecessary chemotherapy, authorities say
by Alex Horton May 17 at 6:17 PM Email the author

Jorge Zamora-Quezada's plane has been seized by investigators. (Justice Department)

The business of chemotherapy treatment for arthritis has been good to Jorge Zamora-Quezada.

The Texas doctor took to the air on his six-seat Eclipse 500 business jet, bought with some of the $50 million he was paid since 2000 administering a host of treatments to countless patients.

And on land, Zamora-Quezada, 61, roared between various homes and properties in South Texas in his blue 2017 Maserati Granturismo Coupe.

But the Justice Department has alleged that he bankrolled his “lavish” lifestyle by performing unnecessary procedures and prescribing costly medication to, potentially, thousands of patients.

[NIH halts $100 million study of moderate drinking that is funded by alcohol industry]

Investigators have said that he and co-conspirators took part in a $240 million health-care fraud scheme and international money-laundering operation funded by excessive and unwarranted medical procedures — including treatment for children and the elderly.

The seven-count indictment against Zamora-Quezada could land him in prison for decades.

“His patients trusted him and presumed his integrity; in return he allegedly engaged in a scheme of false diagnoses and bogus courses of treatment ... with no regard for patient well-being,” C.J. Porter, a special agent with the Department of Health and Human Services' Office of Inspector General, said in a Monday statement.

Zamora-Quezada is in custody, and a court date has been set for July 2, Justice Department spokeswoman Nicole Navas Oxman said Thursday.

The unsealed indictment says Zamora-Quezada owned medical practices in Brownsville, Edinberg and San Antonio, primarily practicing rheumatology.

[Exploding vape pen caused Florida man’s death, autopsy says]

But various shell organizations were built to obscure the flow of money stemming from excessive and fraudulent treatments, the indictment said.

Zamora-Quezada focused on treating rheumatoid arthritis, the indictment said. The disorder causes the immune system to mistakenly attack tissue and can be treated with various medications and chemotherapy drugs — which involve toxins that can damage healthy cells.

It is unclear how many patients could be affected. The indictment notes more than a dozen people but also notes the doctor stashed thousands of medical records in a dilapidated barn concealed from Medicare oversight.

A barn where authorities say Jorge Zamora-Quezada hid Medicare records. (Justice Department)

ProPublica found that he saw more than 1,500 patients in 2015 alone and was paid $1,672 per patient — well above the $955 average in Texas.

A call to a phone number listed under Zamora-Quezada went unanswered, as did one of his Edinburg practice, Arthritis Ost.

Nora Rodriguez, a patient of Zamora-Quezada, told CNN that he yelled and threw her out of his office after she questioned his treatment.

“He kept getting upset when I was asking him why I was feeling worse and not getting better,” she said.

He is also accused of falsifying records to show that his patients were having more pain than they described, and he hid documents from other doctors who saw the same patients for a second opinion. The indictment does not specify who his alleged co-conspirators are or their role in the scheme.

[Men’s depression may lower chances for pregnancy in couples, NIH study suggests]

Zamora-Quezada's plane and Maserati have been seized by authorities, along with the various real estate properties that investigators allege he used to rent out, under the appearance of generating legal income.

Properties in Texas, Colorado and California were among those seized, in addition to a pair of penthouses in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico.

Zamora-Quezada is not new to scrutiny.

In 2006, the Texas Medical Board accused him of prescribing a drug “inconsistent with public health and welfare” and of “billing for treatment that was improper, unreasonable, or medically or clinically unnecessary,” the Dallas Morning News reported in 2010.

Zamora-Quezada later settled for a public reprimand, monitoring by other doctors and a $30,000 fine.

He had received $42,450 over a span of a year from Eli Lilly, a pharmaceutical company, the Dallas Morning News reported, citing ProPublica data. Eli Lilly did not respond to questions on Zamora-Quezada's total revenue from the company or why it paid him.

He was also accused of sexually assaulting four former employees.

A Yellow Pages review of his practice in 2015 is foreboding in retrospect.

“Dr. Zamora has no time for returning patients only for new ones ... be prepared to wait for hours because [they] overbook people like crazy. JUST DON'T GO!!”

Economics / 🏦 Mexicans are Burritos
« on: May 15, 2018, 03:24:10 AM »

Strange Things Are Happening in Mexico’s Banking System
by Don Quijones • May 14, 2018 • 0 Comments   
Rumors and denials proliferate, as millions of pesos disappear.
By Don Quijones, Spain, UK, & Mexico, editor at WOLF STREET.

On Sunday it was the turn of Mexico’s second biggest lender, Citibanamex, to be the target of customers’ ire after suffering a system failure that made it impossible for customers to withdraw money from ATMs, pay with their credit or debit cards, or access their online accounts. The incident is estimated to have affected roughly 4.3 million people. On Sunday, night the bank, which is majority owned by Citigroup, announced that the problems had been resolved.

But by Monday morning, a whole new problem had arisen. Customers of Mexico’s biggest bank, BBVA Bancomer, owned by Spanish banking group BBVA, had begun reporting problems accessing the bank’s mobile platform. As happened with TSB and Citibanamex, the problems became apparent first on social media. The bank responded to customer complaints on twitter and Facebook by urging them to restart their devices, switch to the 24 hour clock and reinstall the app. It’s not clear whether that is working.

These latest incidents have raised serious questions about the security of Mexico’s banking system — something we warned about at the beginning of April.

At the end of April a number of financial institutions reported suffering a cyber attack via Bank of Mexico’s SPEI interbank transfer system, a version of . Lorena Martínez, the director of Bank of Mexico’s payment systems, denied rumours that SPEI had been breached. “That has not happened,” she said, adding that the problem was detected in the internet application used by some institutions to connect to the central payment system.
2 changes to Social Security you need to know about
2 changes to Social Security you need to know about
by Palm Beach Letter

While Bank of Mexico (or Banxico for short) admitted there had been a hack, it denied that any money had been taken. Now, weeks later, sources close to the government investigation claim that cyber thieves had in actual fact siphoned off hundreds of millions of pesos by creating hundreds of phantom orders that wired funds to fake accounts at different five banks, including Mexico’s third largest, Banorte. Accomplices then emptied the fake accounts in cash withdrawals from dozens of branch offices.

According to the official narrative, which keeps changing, the transfers hit accounts of financial institutions in the central bank. If true, it means that no clients have so far been affected.

Nonetheless, to avoid any further problems the five affected banks were instructed to migrate onto a backup connection system, which is a lot slower than the one usually used to connect to SPEI. According to Banxico, over 15 more financial entities have since done the same. “We now have more than 20 banks,” said Martínez. “The contingency system is operated by Bank of Mexico and it provides a secure connection to SPEI, but it processes electronic payments more slowly.”

The central bank is using a team of forensic analysts to try to determine the origin of the alleged cyber attacks. The team, which is working with the affected financial institutions, could take up to two weeks to produce any results, according to Martínez. Until then, the banks that share these providers will continue to use the much slower contingency system.

That, in itself, could be a source of problems. Two days before its own payment system went down, Citibanomex complained about the slowness of inter-bank transfers. “There have been delays in certain inter-bank payments sent or received by our customers,” said the bank. But the bank claims its problems on Sunday had nothing to do with the inter-bank payment system, but were instead a result of “internal hardware issues” — a version of events that was hurriedly corroborated by Mexico’s market regulator, the CNMV.

In recent years Mexico has become a haven for cyber crime — enough to earn it ninth place on PriceWaterhousecooper’s latest list of “economic crime” hot spots. In 2017 it is estimated to have lost $7.7 billion as a result of cyber crime, up from $5.5 billion in 2016, placing it fifth at a global level, behind China, Brazil, the United States and India.

Cyber theft in Mexico is not just the preserve of isolated basement-dwelling hackers but is dominated by highly professional, well-resourced criminal organizations. According to Sebastian Brenner, a security strategist for Symantec Latin America, these are “very well structured groups, with experts for every stage of the process: infiltration, capture, commercialization.”

Some of these organizations may well have the financial means and expertise to pull off a cyber attack targeting the Bank of Mexico’s inter-bank payment system. The hackers may have received assistance inside bank branches, since such big cash withdrawals are uncommon, according to one source. In January this year hackers also attempted to rob the government-run export bank Bancomext, but officials said they failed.

This time, they seem to have enjoyed more success. In doing so, they have raised serious questions about the security of Mexico’s banking system, at a time of acute political instability and economic uncertainty. Fears of capital flight are already on the rise.

The irony is that 2018 was supposed to be the year that banks in Mexico would become more secure by collecting and storing biometric data (finger prints and iris scans) on all of their customers, despite the obvious difficulties they would have protecting that data from cyber criminals. Now, it seems they’re having enough difficulty just protecting their own money. By Don Quijones.

A question of lives and money. Read…  Mexican Consumers Demand End to Made-in-Mexico Death-Trap Vehicles


Depression Striking More Young People Than Ever

By Robert Preidt

HealthDay Reporter

FRIDAY, May 11, 2018 (HealthDay News) -- Americans are fast becoming a very depressed lot.

New research shows there's been a sharp spike in cases of major depression in the United States in recent years, especially among teens and millennials.

The Blue Cross Blue Shield Association analysis of medical claims data showed that the overall rate of major depression was 4.4 percent and that diagnosis rates rose 33 percent between 2013 and 2016. Those rates increased 63 percent among teens and 47 percent among millennials.

Diagnosis rates in 2016 varied by as much as 300 percent between states, from a high of 6.4 percent in Rhode Island to lows of 2.1 percent in Hawaii and 3.2 percent in Nevada.

Dr. Norman Sharpless details why doctors develop clinical trials, potential benefits, and how they bring new therapies to the rest of the world.

Diagnosis rates differed by as much or more than 400 percent among cities, from a high of 6.8 percent in Topeka, Kan., to lows of 1.5 percent in Laredo, Texas, and 2 percent in McAllen/Edinburg/Mission, Texas.

Women were twice as likely to be diagnosed with major depression than men, 6 percent vs. 3 percent, according to the health insurance company's Health of America Report, released Thursday.

People with major depression are nearly 30 percent less healthy, on average, than those without depression. Eighty-five percent of people with major depression have one or more other serious chronic health conditions, and nearly 30 percent have four or more other health conditions, according to the report authors.

People with major depression also use health care services more than those without a depression diagnosis, resulting in significantly higher health care spending -- about $10,673 compared to $4,283.

"Major depression diagnoses are growing quickly, especially for adolescents and millennials," said Trent Haywood, senior vice president and chief medical officer for Blue Cross Blue Shield.

"The high rates for adolescents and millennials could have a substantial health impact for decades to come. Further education and research is needed to identify methods for both physicians and patients to effectively treat major depression and begin a path to recovery and better overall health," Haywood said in a association news release.

One mental health expert offered some possible explanations.

"It is possible that the increased rates of depression in adolescents are related to a combination of increased electronics use and sleep disruptions in already vulnerable individuals," said Dr. Karyn Horowitz, a psychiatrist affiliated with Emma Pendleton Bradley Hospital in East Providence, R.I.

"Increased use of electronics, video games more commonly in boys and social media/texting more commonly in girls, can lead to increased conflict both within the home and with peers," she said in the release.

"In preliminary literature, high users of social media have been linked with higher rates of social isolation than low users," Haywood said. "It is important to further explore this relationship."

WebMD News from HealthDay

Frostbite Falls Newz / RE Rides to the Rescue!
« on: May 10, 2018, 07:52:26 PM »


My Household & Driving Helpers/Employees James & Serra ran into a problem.  They are getting married a week from Saturday  They had lined up the VFW Hall in Palmer for the ceremony and reception, which they got promised for free from one of the band members who works this hall regularly.  They are poor people who are both working min wage jobs in the food industry at the moment.  James was driving a cab but the company went out of biz a couple of months ago and now he is working Taco Bell until he can find something better.  Serra just got a job waitressing at IHOP.  They had twins almost a year old now, and Serra has an 8 year old daughter from a prior relationship.

Unfortunately last night they got a phone call and the hall they were promised was rented out to somebody else by the manager who apparently did not know they were promised the space.  So with slightly over a week to go for a wedding to which 100 people are expected to attend, they had no place to hold said wedding.  James was stressing BIG TIME.  They came over early in the day as both were off from the regular jobs to do some tasks I needed done.  More shelves to assemble, and I got my new folding Cripple Cart which needed to be unboxed and set up.  I got the story of their woes while they worked around the digs, and I knew what I had to do.

cripple cart
cripple cart
RE's new folding cripple cart

After they finished, we made appointments at a few of the places around here that have rooms and reception halls for rent, and we found a good spot on Meier Lake, which has an old campground that is being refurbished by a new owner.  8 Cabins and a big hall just north of Wasilla.  The price was not bad as these things go, but they don't have the money to book such a thing.  I booked it for them.  Way nicer than the VFW Hall.  They will work this off over time, although I will probably forgive half of it as my wedding present.

I feel really good about myself tonight.  :icon_sunny:  I am living true to my beliefs and putting my money where my mouth is.



A Quantum Dialogue on the Meaning and Purpose of Existence
By Julian Rose
Global Research, May 07, 2018
Theme: History

Dialogue between a master (A) and his pupil (B):

B: The Universe, or what is referred to as ‘space’, seems to be a kind of ethereal void, populated here and there by stars, planets, occasional meteors, comets and such like.

A: The Universe seems like a vast and mysterious place, but when you consider that it is contained within a dew drop or a human cell, it becomes less distant. In fact, it becomes very immediate. I refer, of course, to the microcosmic condensation of the macrocosm.

What is ‘space’? It is not what it seems. The word does not describe the reality. It seems void because you are only using your five senses to analyse it. There is no ‘space’, the area referred to is full of energy. An energy field. But you don’t recognize that which you can’t experience with your five senses.

B: What other sense do we possess, other than that which recognizes reality through touch, sight, taste, smell and sound?

A: We have our perception and intuition; these are receptors that pick up vibrational messages due to the absolute interconnectivity of all matter and energy. When you connect up with the source of all that is, you find that you are part of it, not distant from it. You cannot observe or experience it dispassionately – from a distance – because you yourself are part of the composition.

B: But rational observation forms the basis of all science, it enables us to understand the nature and structure of things, including the Universe. We want to understand how and what life is.

A: Such curiosity is a perfectly acceptable condition in mankind, but it arrives at the wrong answers;
unless man feels himself to be part of that which he observes. Not only this, but recognizes that he affects that which he focus’s upon. Both intentionally and unintentionally.

B: How is this achieved?

A: One cannot say ‘how’ it is achieved, unless one is prepared to come at it from the opposite dimension and perception from that which one is accustomed to, in one’s experience of everyday life.

B: Oh?

A: What we experience in our typical daily lives is that which operates, almost exclusively, within the realm of the five senses. Take sight: Visible light- what we ‘see’ – constitutes less than 0.5% of what is actually ‘out there’ in our Universe. Or ‘in here’ within our microcosmic and internal Universe. So we cannot understand, within the scientific discipline which belongs to the Newtonian school of thought, how and what life is, if we only rely upon our five senses to reach our conclusion. There is a missing dimension.

B: What holds us back from being able to experience this missing dimension?

A: Almost everything which forms the experience of what we call life, here on Earth. We operate within a three dimensional framework which has become so institutionalized that we take it to be the sum total of everything that is. Whereas actually, it constitutes something quite alien and divorced from the true state of existence: that which we experience in the fourth dimension and beyond.

B: Tell me more about the fourth dimension and beyond..

A: You already know something about this. When you fall asleep and dream, you are entering this dimension, subconsciously. When you get an ‘inkling’ about something – and then find that this inkling turned out to be true – you are also touching the fourth dimension. The problem is that, most of the time, you dismiss these experiences as being irrelevant to the tasks and needs to which you address yourself. Those tasks which form the daily diet of a materialistically aligned world. That superficial repetitive pattern which forms the central point of focus of life on earth at this time. That which broadly operates within what we call ‘the status quo’.
The Responsibility of Freedom. Block the Despots. Turn the Tide of History

B: I want to understand what this ‘other dimension’ is and how to have greater access to it. I do get these ‘inklings’ from time to time, but never really questioned where they come from.

A: Alright. Intellectually, you can already get closer to the higher dimensions by using something of what (well focused) three dimensional thinking has already been able to ascertain, concerning further dimensions.

Take that chair you’re sitting on. It appears to be hard, doesn’t it? But actually, when seen/experienced from the higher dimensional state, it is not. It is just a mass of whirling atoms, clustering together in such a way as to provoke the sense of shape and form we call a chair. If we understand correctly from science what atoms are, we would not describe them as ‘hard’. Simply as ‘energy’. Mutable energy.

Now, look at me, or look at yourself. We too, seen from the higher dimension, are also a whirling mass of energetic particles (called atoms). The only difference between us and the chair, is that we are imbued with a whole host of sentient, sensitive attributes which operate on a vibrational wave length tuned to a different (higher) frequency than that of the chair.

The fourth dimension and beyond, is actually our true home – where we come from. And in it, we exist as spirit energy. This spirit experiences life as a quantum event. Everything interconnected with everything, everywhere, at all times. This quantum state is our true reality, and everything else is a falsehood.

B: A falsehood?

A: Yes, because in our true state we are at one with all creation. Which means at one with our Creator. The Divine Source of all that Is. Whereas, in a purely five sense, three dimensional state of existence, we do not allow ourselves access to the vibrational waves of higher awareness that constitute the true universal state of reality. The 99.5% of existence we think of as ‘beyond the realms of possibility’.

B: Is this ‘lack of connection’ the cause of our seemingly endless problems, here on Earth? Are we really living in such a tiny match box and imagining we are having a universal experience?

A: Essentially, yes. We experience most of our lives as something completely divorced from what Life actually Is. This has not come about by chance. It is a design which has been imposed upon mankind by a force whose motivation is alien to the will of the Creator, yet which vampires energy from creation. However, since we are gifted with powers that originate with our Creator, but have largely failed to apply them, we are complicit in the problem. We possess all that is needed to return life on Earth to its true state of creative resonance, but fail to do so.

We have instead, allowed ourselves to be won-round by an alien force and its accompanying false agenda: its deception. So, as we awaken to our true reality, we must use the creative, imaginative powers with which we are richly endowed, to dismiss the three dimensional imposter. The imposer of the three dimensional deception – that we have confused with reality. The task of mankind is to rediscover and re-establish its connection to the source of all life.

B: Are we making any progress in that direction?

A: It is called ‘waking-up’. This is an apt expression, as it suggests coming round from a state of unproductive dormancy. Universal energies, whose origins are the higher dimensions, are manifesting strongly on planet Earth at this time. The pace is quickening. The attempt to block that quickening pace and its accompanying awakening, is equally manifesting itself, increasingly obliquely. As a result, people are experiencing a critical confluence of disparate forces. The feeling, for many, is of being pulled apart; a type of dying.

The man and woman emerging out of this storm will be closer to their true state of being. Much closer. They will understand that they embody both sides of the disparate energy mix now manifesting. The alien and the true state.

They will recognize that both the creator and the destroyer exist within, and that each individual has the power of ‘free will’ to choose which to nourish into fullness. They will discover that they are in possession – and always have been – of higher instinctual and intuitive energies. Energies which, when properly directed, make it possible to avoid returning to a repetition of past errors.

They will realize that the source of their power is not their own. Does not belong to them, but is an inherited gift, a seed, whose origins rest with their Creator. Thus, rather than puff themselves up with false pride, they will honour the source from which their divine powers emanate. The life to come, here on earth and beyond, will be uniquely directed towards building upon the fruits of this deepening recognition.

In this way God and Man will be reunited – to put it better – will rediscover their unity. Their oneness. And the quantum Universe, with open arms, will welcome back the profusion of its presently disconnected and alienated parts, and thus become whole.

At that moment, the dance of all joyous dances will manifest throughout. And the purpose of Life will be revealed.

B: Blessed be that day!


Julian Rose is an early pioneer of UK organic farming, a writer, actor and international activist.
He is President of the International Coalition to Protect the Polish Countryside. Julian is the author of two acclaimed titles: Changing Course for Life and In Defence of Life, which can be purchased by visiting His third book ‘Beyond the Mechanistic Mind – Why Humanity Must Come Through’ will shortly be available.


May 06, 2018
TD originals
The Danger of Leadership Cults

Mr. Fish / Truthdig

No leader, no matter how talented and visionary, effectively defies power without a disciplined organizational foundation. The civil rights movement was no more embodied in Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. than the socialist movement was embodied in Eugene V. Debs. As the civil rights leader Ella Baker understood, the civil rights movement made King; King did not make the civil rights movement. We must focus on building new, radical movements that do not depend on foundation grants, a media platform or the Democratic Party or revolve around the cult of leadership. Otherwise, we will remain powerless. No leader, no matter how charismatic or courageous, will save us. We must save ourselves.

“You didn’t see me on television, you didn’t see news stories about me,” said Baker, who died in 1986. “The kind of role that I tried to play was to pick up pieces or put together pieces out of which I hoped organization might come. My theory is, strong people don’t need strong leaders.”

All of our radical and populist organizations, including unions and the press, are decimated or destroyed. If we are to successfully pit power against power we must reject the cult of the self, the deadly I-consciousness that seduces many, including those on the left, to construct little monuments to themselves. We must understand that it is not about us. It is about our neighbor. We must not be crippled by despair. Our job is to name and confront evil. All great crusades for justice outlast us. We are measured not by what we achieve but by how passionately and honestly we fight. Only then do we have a chance to thwart corporate power and protect a rapidly degrading ecosystem.

What does this mean?

It means receding into the landscape to build community organizations and relationships that for months, maybe years, will be unseen by mass culture. It means beginning where people are. It means listening. It means establishing credentials as a member of a community willing to make personal sacrifices for the well-being of others. It means being unassuming, humble and often unnamed and unrecognized. It means, as Cornel West said, not becoming “ontologically addicted to the camera.” It means, West went on, rejecting the “obsession with self as some kind of grand messianic gift to the world.”

One of the most important aspects of organizing is grass-roots educational programs that teach people, by engaging them in dialogue, about the structures of corporate power and the nature of oppression. One cannot fight what one does not understand. Effective political change, as Baker knew, is not primarily politically motivated. It is grounded in human solidarity, mutual trust and consciousness. As Harriet Tubman said: “I rescued many slaves, but I could have saved a thousand more if the slaves knew they were slaves.” The corporate state’s assault on education, and on journalism, is part of a concerted effort to keep us from examining corporate power and the ideologies, such as globalization and neoliberalism, that promote it. We are entranced by the tawdry, the salacious and the trivial.

The building of consciousness and mass organizations will not be quick. But these mass movements cannot become public until they are strong enough to carry out sustained actions, including civil disobedience and campaigns of noncooperation. The response by the state will be vicious. Without a dedicated and organized base we will not succeed.

Bob Moses was the director of the Mississippi Project of the SNCC (Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee) in the early 1960s when that group organized to register black voters. Most blacks had been effectively barred from voting in Mississippi through poll taxes, literacy tests, residency requirements and other barriers. Moses, like many organizers, was beaten and arrested. Blacks who attempted to register to vote were threatened, harassed, fired from their jobs, physically attacked and even murdered.

“In essence, it was low-grade guerrilla warfare,” Moses said recently at an event at Princeton University, in New Jersey. “In guerrilla warfare, you have a community you can disappear into and emerge from. That’s what we had. We had a group of local activists who had been a part of the NAACP local organizations and who had a different sense after World War II. They were our base. I can go any place, any time of the night, knock on a door. Somebody was going to open it up, give me a bed to sleep in, feed me. They were going to watch my back.”

“We had a guerrilla community that we could disappear into and then emerge to take some people down to the battleground, the courthouse in some local town with people trying to register to vote,” he said. “At that point, you were exposed and possibly open to some danger. The danger came in different ways. There were the highway patrols, which the state organized. Then there were the local sheriffs. Then there’s the Klan citizens. Different levels of danger. The challenge is to understand that you are not always in danger. Those who couldn’t figure that out didn’t last. They didn’t join.”

“In guerrilla warfare, you have to have an end,” he said. “You learn that from people in the guerrilla base who had been fighting and figuring out how to survive and thrive in a guerrilla struggle. The only way to learn that is to immerse yourself. There’s no training. In Mississippi, most of the people who did that were young, 17, 18, 19. And they lived there.”

Organizing, Moses said, begins around a particular issue that is important to the community—raising the minimum wage, protecting undocumented workers, restoring voting rights to former prisoners, blocking a fracking site, halting evictions, ending police violence or stopping the dumping of toxic waste in neighborhoods. Movements rise organically. Dissidents are empowered and educated one person at a time. Any insurgency, he said, has to be earned.

“If you get knocked down enough times and stand up enough times then people think you’re serious,” he said. “It’s not you talking. They’ve heard everyone talk about this forever. We earned their trust. We earned the respect of young people across the country to get them to come down and risk their lives. This is your country. Look what’s going on in your country. What do you want to do about it? We established our authenticity.”

Moses warned movements, such as Black Lives Matter, about establishing a huge media profile without a strong organizational base. Too often protests are little more than spectacles, credentialing protesters as radicals or dissidents while doing little to confront the power of the state. The state, in fact, often collaborates with protesters, carrying out symbolic arrests choreographed in advance. This boutique activism is largely useless. Protests must take the state by surprise and, as with the water protectors at Standing Rock, cause serious disruption. When that happens, the state will drop all pretense of civility, as it did at Standing Rock, and react with excessive force.

“You can’t be a media person [the subject of media reports] and an organizer,” Moses said. “If you’re leading an organization, it’s what you do and who you are that impacts the people who you are trying to get to do the organizing work. If what they see is your media presence, then that’s what they also want to have. It’s overwhelming to be a media person in this country. To attend to the duties of being a media person, the obligations that follow a media person, really means that you can’t attend to the obligations of actually doing organizing work. Once SNCC decided it needed a media person, it lost its organizing base. It disintegrated and disappeared. You can’t do both.”

The mass mobilizations, such as the Women’s March, have little impact unless they are part of a campaign centered around a specific goal. The goal—in the case of SNCC, voter registration—becomes the organizing tool for greater political consciousness and eventually a broader challenge to established power. People need to be organized around issues they care about, Moses said. They need to formulate their own strategy. If strategy is dictated to them, then the movement will fail.

“People need to figure out for themselves what they want to do about a problem,” Moses said. They need “agency.” They do not get agency, he said, “by listening to somebody tell them things.”

“They can develop agency by going out and trying things,” he said. “It works, or it doesn’t work. They come back. They think about it. They reformulate it. Staff people are keeping track of what it is, who it is, what they’re working on. They are documenting it. This is the difference between a mobilizing effort, where you’re getting people to turn out for an event, and trying to get people self-engaged and thinking through a problem.”

“When you do civil disobedience, the question is not about the power structure but the people you’re trying to reach,” he said. “How do they view what you’re doing? Do you alienate them? It’s a balance between, in some sense, leading and organizing. When you do your civil disobedience, it may or may not help with expanding your organizing base.”

Moses, who believes that only nonviolent resistance will be effective, said the Vietnam anti-war movement hurt itself by not accepting, as the civil rights movement did, prison and jail time as part of its resistance. Many in the anti-war movement, he said, lacked the vital capacity for self-sacrifice. This willingness to engage in self-sacrifice, he said, is fundamental to success.

“The anti-war movement would have had a huge impact if it had been able to agree that what we’re going to do is go to prison,” he said. “We are going to pay a certain price. We’re going to earn our insurgency against the foreign policy establishment of the country. We’re going to say no and go to prison. That way, they could have emerged when the war was over as the insurgents who had paid, in their own way, the price of the war.”

Doomsteading / RE Gets ORGANIZED!
« on: May 08, 2018, 04:29:15 PM »
Prior to the Close Encounter of the Third Kind with the Grim Reaper last weekend, I began the Great Organization Project of getting my Digs totally organized and ready for SHTF Day.  As the regulars here know, I have about every Prep known to man here in the digs, but for the most part they have been stuffed in boxes since my last move 3 years ago and I don't know where half the shit is.  OK, more than half, make it like 90%.  lol.

Now, physically I am not in shape to be unloading all these boxes and trying to do this myself, but I recently employed household and driving help, and now that the initial lates cleanup is finished I am having my household assistant go through my boxes of preps to get everything organized.  I have also made several trips to Home Depot to pick up shelving systems to line the walls with and still more plastic containers in which to store the preps.  All the shelving units can easily dissassemble for a later shipment down to the Lower 48 if I decide to make the move down there at a later date.

As we empty and sort through the boxes, the preps will get organized by category, such as food, fuel, tools, electrics etc and transferred from the cardboard shipping boxes they are currently in to more plastic containers. Each new container will be labeled by type and have a manifesto attached on the outside with the contents of that container.  Shipping boxes that are still in good shape will be sliced and flattened for use later in making shipments down to the Lower 48 periodically to move some duplicate preps I have down there before making the big move, and dropped in my storage unit in MO most likely to begin with.

We have already made tremendous progress, and my Diner Office area is now quite well organized.  I am awaiting delivery of my new luxury reclining office chair to make it a super fine work space for myself as I chronicle the Collapse of Industrial Civilization in my last days Walking the Earth.

The biggest change here so far is in terms of readiness is on the Electrics end.  My Emergency Electrics station was in the Kitchen area, mighty cluttered and not very easy to transition to in Outage situations, although I did do it several times over the last 3 years.  None of those outages were very long though, longest was about 6 hours.  To do it took moving around batts and inverters, doing plug shifting and so forth, something of a pain in the ass.  What I have done is to divide the electrics station into two stations, one with my big 1000W continuous 2000W peak output Pure Sine Wave Inverter, and the other which keeps all my portable rechargeable electrics topped off all the time.  That is mainly diode lights and tool batteries and FRS Radios.

Here is the current configuration of the two electrics stations.  It is still a Work in Progress, don't be too critical. lol.

Diner Office Electrics 1
Diner Office Electrics 1
Electric station on the bottom shelf.  Click the pic for large.

Diner Electrics Portable
Diner Electrics Portable
Tool batts, diode lights & FRS radios. Click the pic for large.

Prior to this reorganization, I never tested the big inverter with the big Deep Cycle Marine batt to see how long it would last running my big All-in-One Dell desktop computer and my wireless router for how long it will last running continuously on one charge.  I am currently hooked up to this arrangement now, which only takes two quick plug changes and no moving of batts.  The big inverter has a Remote on off switch I have on my desk.  I have currently been running the main computer for 2.5 hours and there is no sign whatsoever that the batt is anywhere near depleted.  This is a fairly old batt as well, at least 5 years old now although very rarely used during that period and I have kept it charged up most of the time and not let it fully discharge.  However, if it doesn't hold up well here I may replace it, and/or I will buy a new one for the batt bank.  I am hoping for at least a full 24 hours hours of continuous use of this batt with no shut down of the computer or router.  In a real outage situation, I would likely sign on for a couple of hours 2 or 3 times a day to do Diner tasks, then shut down so maybe 6 hours a day usage.

To recharge the batt in the event of a really LONG outage of say a week or so, I would set up my Yamaha Genny on the porch and run an extension cord in to the digs to power up my AC/DC chargers to top off the batts, then shut that down when everything is topped off.  My next test will be to see how long it takes the genny to top off the big ass batt when it is around 80% depleted.  I am hoping for a range of 4-6 hours for that.  Not including the gas in the tanks of my vehicles which I could siphon, I keep on hand enough gas to run the genny for a good 100 hours, it's a pretty efficient small Yamaha, "best in class" according to the reviews, very lightweight and quiet.

As designed, the system would really be stressed to run the fridge, although possible I think if I run the genny a lot more.  I don't see that as being necessary though for the most part in my situation.  I don't forsee really long power outages up here except perhaps with an Earthquake of major proportions or Mt. Redoubt going ballistic.  In either case, I will load up SaVANnah and GTFO of Dodge as fast as I can with my most essential preps, take a vacation in the Yukon Territory and return when they have the place reasonably wired up again.

Long term survival?  No.  However, once the full job is complete, I should be good for up to about 6 months with little to no services.  I can get water from the creek next to the complex and use that for flushing the toilet.  I can distill that water also for drinking as long as I have electric power, which I can generate. I would actually trust this water to drink with just a water purification tablet as well, and I have a large supply of those also. Food, I have gobs of, I don't need to shop for food for a good 2 years, lol.  I have Solar Panels I can deploy for batt charging, but the way my digs are situated no real good spot to deploy them so I would only get enough power I think to keep some diode lights charged and my smart phone.

Still a long way to go here in terms of organization, many boxes still need to be worked through and shelving units assembled.  My household help also just got a job at IHOP, so she isn't available as much.  Much better now already though.


History / 🎵 Recalling Pete Seeger
« on: May 07, 2018, 12:04:35 AM »
A truly GREAT man and GREAT artist.

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Recalling Pete Seeger’s Controversial Performance on the Smothers Brothers Show 50 Years Ago

Peter Dreier

February 28, 2018

Seeger had been blacklisted as a communist and this gutsy defiance of a corporate media giant marked his return to the mainstream cultural scene.

Pete Seeger performing in 1986/Josef Schwarz/Creative Commons

Fifty years ago this week, folk singer Pete Seeger performed the controversial anti-war song “Waist Deep in the Big Muddy” on the Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour show on CBS television. The story of that appearance, and that song, illustrates the tumultuous political tensions of the era and was a bold act of defiance against corporate media power.

Seeger, who died in 2014, is now viewed as a legendary figure in American history. But when Tom and Dick Smothers invited him on their show, many people still viewed him as a dangerous radical, marginalized by the nation’s political, business, and media establishment. 

Seeger had been blacklisted from network television since the 1950s because of his leftist politics. For a brief period in the early 1950s, as a member of the Weavers quartet, he performed in prestigious nightclubs, appeared on network television shows, and recorded several hit songs, including “Goodnight, Irene,” “Tzena Tzena,” “Wimoweh,” and “So Long It’s Been Good to Know You.” But as engaged radicals, they were an easy target for the Red Scare’s blacklist. They lost their television show contracts and nightclub bookings. Radio stations stopped playing their songs and their records stopped selling.

Seeger left the Weavers but his solo career also fell victim to the Red Scare. In 1955, Seeger was convicted of contempt of Congress for refusing to discuss his political affiliations before the House Committee on Un-American Activities. (He never spent time in jail and the conviction was overturned on appeal in May 1962). Most colleges and concert halls refused to book him and he was banned from network television. 

During the blacklist years, Seeger scratched out a living by giving guitar and banjo lessons and singing at the small number of summer camps, churches, high schools, colleges, and union halls that were courageous enough to invite the controversial balladeer. In the 1960s he sang with civil rights workers in the South and at the march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama, and helped popularize “We Shall Overcome.” But ABC refused to allow Seeger to appear on Hootenanny, which owed its existence to the folk music revival Seeger had helped inspire.

Tom and Dick Smothers were among many musicians inspired by Seeger’s artistic and political contributions. In 1967, CBS invited the brothers to host their own variety show, The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour, which became a huge success, appealing to young viewers by inviting major rock and folk artists as well as comedians who reflected the political and cultural rebelliousness of the era. One sketch that lampooned President Lyndon Johnson so upset the president that he phoned CBS founder William S. Paley at home at 3 a.m. to complain.

The brothers had requested that Seeger be invited to perform, but CBS refused. Midway into the first season, however, the show’s popularity gave the Smothers more leverage with the recalcitrant network executives. Network chief Paley agreed on the condition that Seeger avoid singing any controversial songs—a demand that was, from the outset, guaranteed to provoke the Smothers brothers’ and Seeger’s defiance.

Seeger showed up to tape the second season’s opening show on September 1, which was scheduled to air September 10. At the taping, Seeger sang “Waist Deep in the Big Muddy,” a song he had written earlier that year, inspired by a photo of American troops slogging through a deep river in Vietnam’s Mekong Delta.

The song tells the story of a platoon of soldiers wading into the mud of a river while on a practice patrol in Louisiana in 1942. The captain, whom Seeger calls a “big fool,” ignores his sergeant’s warnings that the river is too deep to cross. The captain drowns and the sergeant orders the unit to turn back. The song doesn’t mention Vietnam but the “big fool” obviously refers to Johnson who got the country deeper into the quagmire in Southeast Asia.

Understandably nervous about offending Johnson again, CBS executives erased Seeger’s song from the tape of the show. The censors had no objection to his performance of the African song “Wimoweh” (in classic Seeger style, he had the whole studio audience singing along), the Cuban song “Guantanamera,” and “This Land Is Your Land.”
In his network comeback, Seeger sang four songs that reflected his internationalism and humanism, which helped him escape the media establishment’s blacklist—in prime time, no less.

In his network comeback, Seeger sang four songs that reflected his internationalism and humanism, which helped him escape the media establishment’s blacklist—in prime time, no less. Close to 12 million American households watched the program.

But the Smothers brothers weren’t happy. Tom, in particular, made sure that the story of CBS’s censorship appeared in the media. Because of the bad press, an outcry among the public, and the Vietnam War’s growing unpopularity, CBS allowed the brothers to invite Seeger back later in the season.

To whet the public’s appetite, Tom Smothers leaked the story to The New York Times, even announcing that Seeger would perform the banned “Big Muddy” on the show. A week before the scheduled broadcast, Seeger taped the show in Los Angeles.

Seeger performed five songs, including a medley of anti-war songs from American history which led up to “Big Muddy.” He ended the song with an uncharacteristic dramatic flourish, bringing his guitar up to his face, suggesting both a sigh of relief and moment of pride that he had managed to pull it off.

The audience for this show—13.5 million households—was even larger than Seeger’s appearance five months earlier. Two days after Seeger sang “Big Muddy,” CBS news anchor Walter Cronkite—perhaps the nation’s most trusted person—called on Johnson to withdraw American troops from Vietnam. On March 31, Johnson—facing strong opposition from anti-war candidates Eugene McCarthy and Robert Kennedy—announced he would not seek re-election that year.

Meanwhile, the Smothers brothers continued to find themselves in trouble with CBS. In the 1968-1969 season premiere, the network deleted an entire segment featuring Harry Belafonte singing “Lord, Don't Stop the Carnival” while newsreel footage of the violence at the 1968 Democratic national convention played in the background. In March 1969, folk singer Joan Baez paid tribute to her then-husband, David Harris, who was about to enter prison for refusing military service. CBS censors permitted Baez to mention that her husband was in prison, but edited out the reason.

But CBS CEO Paley abruptly canceled the show on April 4, 1969, explaining that the Smothers brothers had failed to comply with the order to submit the shows to network executives ten days in advance. (The show won an Emmy anyway.) The Smothers brothers sued CBS for breach of contract, and in 1973, a federal court ordered CBS to pay them nearly $800,000. Two years later the brothers returned to television with The Smothers Brothers Show that was less controversial and less successful, lasting only 13 episodes.

The brothers continued to perform until they retired in 2010, but their popularity never recovered after the cancellation of The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour. But Seeger’s two appearances on the show—and the controversy surrounding “Big Muddy”—helped revitalize his career.

Over the next five decades, through persistence and unrelenting optimism, Seeger became a symbol of a principled artist deeply engaged in the world. Many of his eighty albums, which include children’s songs, labor and protest songs, traditional American folk songs, international songs and Christmas songs, reached wide audiences.

In 1994, at age 75, he received the National Medal of Arts as well as a Kennedy Center Honor, where President Bill Clinton called him “an inconvenient artist, who dared to sing things as he saw them.”

In January 2009, Seeger and Bruce Springsteen sang “This Land Is Your Land” at a Lincoln Memorial concert honoring President Barack Obama’s inauguration. That spring, more than 15,000 admirers filled New York City’s Madison Square Garden for a concert honoring Seeger on his ninetieth birthday. The performers included Springsteen, Baez, Dave Matthews, Emmylou Harris, Billy Bragg, Rufus Wainwright, Bela Fleck, Taj Mahal, Roger McGuinn, Steve Earle, Ramblin’ Jack Elliott, Dar Williams, Tom Morello, Ani DiFranco, and John Mellencamp. Seeger continued to perform, mostly benefits for social causes, until his death.   

Seeger’s made his final television appearance in 2012 on another comedy program’s Stephen Colbert’s iconoclastic Colbert Report on Comedy Central. The 93-year-old Seeger talked with the awestruck Colbert about his new book, Pete Seeger: His Life in His Own Words, and then performed his song, “Quite Early Morning,” on the banjo. The song begins, “Don't you know it's darkest before the dawn. And it's this thought keeps me moving on.”  Unlike “Big Muddy,” it is a song of hope, urging people to abandon cynicism and look forward to more “singing tomorrows.”

Medicine & Health / Sick Leave
« on: May 06, 2018, 02:28:24 AM »

youtube-Logo-4gc2reddit-logoOff the keyboard of RE

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Published on the Doomstead Diner on May 5, 2018

Looking perkier after getting my blood tanks refilled

Discuss this article at the Medicine & Health Table inside the Diner


I'm taking this week off from my Regularly Scheduled Sunday Brunch article to try and recover from my latest Medical Crisis, this time Acute Anemia which finally got diagnosed after months of visiting specialists and getting innumerable tests done with nothing showing up that was really wrong.  Finally in my last round of blood tests my Primary Care Physician had a blood count done on my Hemoglobin & Hematocrit, and they were both around 6 feet under.  The PCP said I should be dead.  Well, not dead but not walking around either.  Today's Sunday Brunch Special Edition covers the last few days of the Health Collapse of RE.

So I packed up my portable Diner Office & Admin Center and called a taxi to bring me over to Mat-Su Regional Medical Center.As usual the ER waiting area was quite calm with only a few people waiting, nothing like the ERs from back in New YorK Shity, which can best be described by the Monkey House at the Zoo, except not as well behaved.  I was whisked into the back and deposited in a waiting room which was to be my home for the first5 hours or so of my stay (which is still ongoing as we speak tonight).

Here I got interviewed by the On Call Internist who admitted me, and mainly on the treatment end was given 2 units of blood to refill my tanks and bring me back from the Dead and an early meeting with the Grim Reaper.  Once all the admitting paperwork wqas done and a room located and cleaned, I got shipped upstairs to my current home, a lovely little private room with all the amenities a dying cripple needs.

Geting the Blood Tanks refilled

Besides getting my blood replenished, I had a second task that was much harder for the night, which was to drink a gallon of a vile scuz liquid that makes you shit until your bowels are completely clear and all you shit out each of the many times you have to go over the course of the night is clear water.  This because I also got scheduled for a Colonoscopy & Endoscopy for the folowing day, two tests I had previously refused to take because I didn't feel safe to drink this vile liquid on my own at home and wanted to be admitted the day before so it could be supervised by medical personnel..  My Gastroenterologist refused to do this, so we were at an impasse until I got admitted anyhow, so we killed 2 birds with one stone.on this trip.

Anyhow, it's a good thing I stuck to my guns and "don't try this at home", because as it was I barely survived the night and this with nurses and aides around and a Cripple Commode right next to my motorized bed to quickly get out of bed and on the toilet before making a huge mess.  I easily hit the commode more than a dozen times over the course of the night.  The nurse's aids dutifully came and dumped and cleaned the commode after each one, getting it ready for the next dump.

The following day my Colonoscopy & Endoscopy were scheduled originally for 3PM, but apparently the ER got bizzy with emergency surgery cases and my case kept getting pushed back.  I finally got in with the On Call Surgeon who did the proceedures at around 9PM.  Anaesthesia was pretty good, although I did rmember being manhandled on the table by the nurses to try and get me in positions my body wasn't cooperating with.  lol.  However, no pain and no awareness of tubes being shoved down my throat and up my ass.

Result of the proceedures, the Endoscopy showed nothing abnormal with my stomach, which is one of my main problems in that I have overall been unable to eat with no appetite and as a result have had very poor utrition over the last several months.  At least for the moment though, my stomach doesn't seem to be the source of this problem.

The Colonoscopy on the other hand did turn up a large number of Polyps, between 10-12 whereas normally even when they do turn up in this proceedure there are only 1 or 2.  According to the surgeon they didn't look cancerous though, but they have been sent out for biopsies.  Those will take probably 2 weeks to come back with some results.

With my blood replenished and the colonoscopy & endoscopy done, I was hopeful I would get released this afternoon, but sadly no such luck.  While my hemoglobin and RBC count has shown some improvement, it is still well below normal.  Also, my White Blood Cell count has increased showing the possibility of some kind of infection.  Also showing low levels of Potassium and a few other vitamins, so my current on call internist doing rounds here decided to keep me at least one more day.  I hope that's it, but I am not too confident of it either just based on the body language.of the doc.  He looked to me like he was just reassuring me and didn't really mean it.  We'll see tomorrow if I read him right.

Anyhow, as hospital experiences go, I have to say if you are going to be hospitalized, Alaska is the place to do it at least in the FSoA.  My experience after my neck surgery at Providence Hospital down in Anchorage was very good, although there I didn't get a Private room like I have here at Mat-Su.  The view out the window was nicer at Providence though.  lol.  In both places as Hospital Food goes,not too bad.  Edible anyhow.  Nursing staff in both places pretty competent and helpful.  Facilities clean and modern.

In terms of prices, you never can get those so I have no idea whatsoever what a night's stay in either hospital costs, forgetting about the cost of the proceedure you are having done and the doctor's fees.  I do know that I will have a deductible from Medicare for this stay of about $1300 I believe.  I may get some discount on that through a charity system they run here if you don't have any co-insurance with Medicare.  Not counting on that being too large in my case though, I don't think I am poor enough.

OK, that's it for today's Sick Leave Special Edition Sunday Bruncharticle to go with your Bagels & Lox.  Hopefully by this time next week I will be finished with this episode of my battles with the Grim Reaper, and still be on this side of the Great Beyond to keep reporting on the progress of the Collapse of Industrial Civilization.

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Doom Psychology & Philosophy / LGBTQ Scouts?
« on: May 02, 2018, 12:28:05 PM »
I'm sorry, this is becoming ridiculous...  ::)

Who will sell Girl Scout Cookies?  ???  :icon_scratch:


Boy Scouts are dropping the word 'Boy' from the name of flagship program
USA Today NetworkJohn Bacon, USA TODAY Published 7:46 a.m. ET May 2, 2018 | Updated 2:58 p.m. ET May 2, 2018

"Boy Scouts," which includes kids from 10 to 17, will become "Scouts BSA" in February in an effort to become less gender specific, now that girls may join the Boy Scouts. Robert Deutsch, USA TODAY

(Photo: Eric Gay, AP)

The Boy Scouts of America doubled down Wednesday on its quest to become the scouting organization of choice for boys and girls, announcing it will drop "Boy" from the name of its signature program.

Chief Scout Executive Mike Surbaugh also unveiled the group's new "Scout Me In" marketing campaign aimed at promoting inclusiveness.

 “As we enter a new era for our organization, it is important that all youth can see themselves in Scouting in every way possible," Saurbaugh said.

The umbrella organization will retain its name, Boy Scouts of America or BSA. The term Cub Scouts, for kids 7-10 years old, is gender neutral and also will go unchanged. Boy Scouts, which includes kids from 10 to 17, will become Scouts BSA in February.

Change has been coming quickly to the iconic if shrinking organization. In October, it announced it would provide programs for girls. Several months before that, the group announced it would accept and register transgender youths into its organization.

In 2015, it ended its ban on gay leaders.

More: Boy Scout with Down syndrome wasn't stripped of badges, group says

More: Girl Scouts: There's no need to let girls into Boy Scouts

Thousands of girls have become Cub Scouts in an early adopter program as the Boy Scouts of America begins welcoming girls into the organization in new ways. (April 23) AP

Cub Scouts will formally accept girls starting this summer. But Saurbaugh said more than 3,000 girls nationwide already enrolled in the BSA’s Early Adopter Program and are participating in Cub Scouts ahead of the full launch.

Allowing girls into the organization allows busy families to consolidate programs for their kids, BSA says. Most of the actual Cub packs and Scout troops, however, will be single gender.

“Cub Scouts is a lot of fun, and now it’s available to all kids,” said Stephen Medlicott, BSA marketing director. “That’s why we love ‘Scout Me In’ — because it speaks to girls and boys and tells them, ‘This is for you. We want you to join!’”

Boy Scouts of America claims almost 2.3 million members, down from 2.6 million five years ago. That includes Venturing and Sea Scouting programs, the latter allowing  membership up to 21 years of age. In its peak years, Boy Scout of America had more than 4 million participants.

Adults play a major role in the program: Almost 1 million adult volunteers serve as the backbone of the organization.

The program for the older boys and girls will largely be divided along gender lines but will cover similar activities. All participants can work toward the prestigious title of Eagle Scout.

It's too early to determine what impact the aggressive BSA effort to recruit girls will have on the Girl Scouts of the USA, an organization best known for its lucrative annual cookie sales.

The organization, founded two years after Boy Scouts, currently claims a membership of about 1.8 million. And like BSA, it also has seen a membership decline. The Girl Scout organization responded to the latest news with a shrug. In a statement, the organization noted that the BSA announcement included no new, "girl specific" programming.

“Girl Scouts is the premier leadership development organization for girls,” Sylvia Acevedo, CEO of Girl Scouts of the USA, said in a statement. “We are, and will remain, the first choice for girls and parents"

The organization listed a series of efforts to "stay ahead of the pack of youth organizations." That includes 23 new merit badges focusing on outdoors and STEM (science, technology, engineering and math).

Last month, the organization unveiled a LinkedIn network aimed tapping a major resource — the group's 50 million alums. The goal of the network is "to support female advancement in the workforce and help prepare girls for a lifetime of leadership and career success."

Still, the impact of the BSA effort is being felt.  One regional leader, Fiona Cummings of Girl Scouts of Northern Illinois, told the Associated Press the BSA’s decision to admit girls is among the factors that have shrunk her council’s youth membership by more than 500 girls so far this year.

She said relations with the Boy Scouts in her region used to be collaborative and now are “very chilly.”

“How do you manage these strategic tensions?” she asked. “We both need to increase our membership numbers.”

Contributing: Sarah Toy, USA TODAY


Societal Death or Transfiguration? Cinema Visions of Humanity Facing Extinction
May 1, 2018 Posted by Addison dePitt



Still from “Downsizing.”
How should world society respond to the approach of human extinction compelled by implacable external forces, such as: radioactive fallout after a global nuclear war (as in Nevil Shute’s novel On the Beach), or an alien invasion by a species of technologically superior beings from outer space, or an impending collision between Earth and a massive planetoid, or (as seems most likely today) by runaway and irreversible Climate Change?

The general question has long been the seed for spinning out entertaining speculations in fantasy novels and science-fiction movies, but now it has become a serious matter of immediate concern for an increasing number of geo- and social- scientists and social planners. Mayer Hillman, an 86-year-old social scientist, urban planner and senior fellow emeritus of the Policy Studies Institute in England, says (in an article published by The Guardian on 26 April 2018:

    “We’re doomed. — The outcome is death, and it’s the end of most life on the planet because we’re so dependent on the burning of fossil fuels. There are no means of reversing the process which is melting the polar ice caps. And very few appear to be prepared to say so. — I’m not going to write anymore [about the projected consequences of runaway Climate Change] because there’s nothing more that can be said. — With doom ahead, making a case for cycling as the primary mode of transport [instead of automobiles] is almost irrelevant. — We’ve got to stop burning fossil fuels. So many aspects of life depend on fossil fuels, except for music and love and education and happiness. These things, which hardly use fossil fuels, are what we must focus on. [Hillman is amazed that our thinking rarely stretches beyond 2100 when discussing scientific predictions on the increase of average global temperature.] This is what I find so extraordinary when scientists warn that the temperature could rise to 5C or 8C. What?, and stop there? What legacies are we leaving for future generations? In the early 21st century, we did as good as nothing in response to climate change. Our children and grandchildren are going to be extraordinarily critical. — Even if the world went zero-carbon today that would not save us because we’ve gone past the point of no return. [Action by individuals to limit their ‘carbon footprint’ – their direct and indirect production of greenhouse gases is] as good as futile. [National action by the UK along the same lines is also irrelevant] because Britain’s contribution is minute. Even if the government were to go to zero-carbon it would make almost no difference. — [The world as a whole would have to go zero carbon, but can that be done without the collapse of civilization?] I don’t think so. Can you see everyone in a democracy volunteering to give up flying? Can you see the majority of the population becoming vegan? Can you see the majority agreeing to restrict the size of their families? — Wealthy people will be better able to adapt but the world’s population will head to regions of the planet such as northern Europe which will be temporarily spared the extreme effects of climate change. How are these regions going to respond? We see it now. Migrants will be prevented from arriving. We will let them drown. — [Few scientific, political; and religious leaders have been honest with the public on all this, in order to protect their own positions] I don’t think they can [be forthright] because society isn’t organised to enable them to do so. Political parties’ focus is on jobs and GDP, depending on the burning of fossil fuels. — [Can the now obvious signs of advancing Climate Change spark an epiphany in humanity’s collective mind, and cause it to relinquish its ultimately self-destructive fossil fueled binge?] It depends on what we are prepared to do. Standing in the way is capitalism. Can you imagine the global airline industry being dismantled when hundreds of new runways are being built right now all over the world? It’s almost as if we’re deliberately attempting to defy nature. We’re doing the reverse of what we should be doing, with everybody’s silent acquiescence, and nobody’s batting an eyelid.”

Now, let us consider the 2017 American movie Downsizing, given this context.

Downsizing is an intelligent and, by American standards, subtle cinematic science-fiction social satire about the individual’s problem of securing sufficient wealth to comfortably sustain their lives in a secure cosmopolitan community for the duration of their lifespan. This movie was conceived by Alexander Payne and his writing partner Jim Taylor, and directed by Payne who has numerous successful movies to his credit: Election (1999), About Schmidt (2002), Sideways (2004), The Descendants (2011) and Nebraska (2013). Downsizing was not well-received by the majority of the viewing public because it is a film about ideas, thus requiring thinking for its enjoyment, as opposed to being a cinematic delivery vehicle for emotive sensations and jolting stimuli to provide passive unthinking viewers with 135 minutes of thrilling distraction.

The central pit in Downsizing, around which the screenplay and the screenwriters’ implied social commentaries have been grown like the flesh of a stone-fruit, is that science has discovered a process for harmlessly shrinking living cells and organisms, enabling humans to be reduced to Lilliputian size so that their existing savings and equity in the “big world” can economically sustain them in lifetimes of luxury in the “small world,” because their “ecological footprints” – both for consumption and waste production – have been miniaturized. The attraction for “getting small” is basically a get-rich-quick scheme leading to an endlessly sustainable high-life coupled with the pleasurable sense of eliminating one’s big-world guilt over contributing to Climate Change and the environmental degradation of the planet, which is caused by its “overpopulation” with “big” capitalist-minded, wasteful and exploitative people. In brief: having it all.

The problem with making an expensive ($68M) artful cinematic work whose purpose is to stimulate thoughtful societal awareness – if you want to recoup your investment – is that you have to market it successfully to the masses of cinema-viewing yahoos. Downsizing was released on 22 December 2017, and as of 1 February 2018 (its theatrical closing) had only grossed $55M. It just didn’t hit the yahoo g-spot, and they hated it for boring them.

The “lesson” in the screenplay of Downsizing, which was delivered in a clear sedately-paced and understated way (which I like), is that the solution for achieving fulfilling individual lives in peaceful and comforting societies is for the people of such would-be societies to take care of one another: popular humanitarian socialism. Regardless of whether a society enjoys being situated in a natural or artificial paradise and is economically secure, or whether it is environmentally and economically stressed and doomed to extinction, the best that it can ever be for all of its inhabitants during its duration is entirely the result of its peoples’ commitment to construct mutually fulfilling lives of cooperation and compassion, instead of seeking to escape – from the masses of the less fortunate – into exclusive refuges and redoubts of enclosed privilege to continue with lives of egotistical self-centeredness and selfish indifference.

This message is ancient. It was part of the Buddha’s “Triple Jewel” teaching to his disciples and fellow monks and nuns (the Sangha), to ‘take care of one another’:

    I will go to the Buddha for refuge.

    I will go to the Dharma [the teachings of Buddha; the Buddhist way of life] for refuge.

    I will go to the Sangha [harmonious community] for refuge.

The Buddhist sense of ‘taking refuge’ expressed here is not a running away from the rest of the world, but a commitment for living a truer life within it, based on Buddhist precepts.

There have been many book and movie stories centered on the idea of: individual fulfillment found through mutual help for securing group survival if possible, versus seeking individual escape from group peril, and from guilt over abandoning responsibility. Three such stories that came to my mind while pondering the movie Downsizingwere the films: Lost Horizon (1937), The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951), and Zardoz (1974).

Lost Horizon is Frank Capra’s film of the James Hilton fantasy novel about Shangri-La: a fabulous and peaceful Buddhist-style refuge from modern society and its torments, situated in a life-extending green valley that is hidden within the otherwise frigid and snowy expanse of the high Himalayas. But, can Shangri-La truly be an escape?

The Day the Earth Stood Still is Robert Wise’s movie of Edmund H. North’s screenplay of Harry Bates’s story of an alien ambassador, Klaatu (Michael Rennie), and his all-powerful robot, Gort (with a heat-ray beam-weapon dematerializer), who arrive in a Flying Saucer to deliver a message to humanity from an alien Federation of Planets: live peacefully on Earth and join our Federation as an independent planet, but do not militarize space with your rockets and nuclear bombs, because we would take that as a mortal threat and then our space-patrolling robot police, like Gort, would “reduce your Earth to a burned-out cinder.” Humanity’s escape to the good life, which is offered in this movie fantasy, would be achieved by forsaking war-making in all its forms to instead gain the advanced knowledge and technology of Klaatu’s interplanetary civilization, and that technology would vastly enhance the quality-of-life of the popular humanistic socialism that humanity would have to adopt as its new social paradigm.

Zardoz is John Boorman’s film about a far future post-apocalyptic immiscibly stratified static society that is suddenly ruptured by violence against its tiny elite, which results in a complete blending of humanity and a rebirth of human evolution. The Eternals are non-aging humans who live in a paradisal community, the Vortex, bubbled from the external misery by invisible force fields, and containing advanced endlessly-fueled hidden technology that automatically maintains the Eternals’ unending and idyllic existences. All the fruits of humanity’s previous achievements are now maintained in the Vortex, but the Eternals are all bored with their immortal lives of effortless omniscience and leisure. The vast expanse of the Outlands beyond the Vortex is a wasteland inhabited by the Brutals, people reduced to being isolated dumb animals without any civilization or social cohesion, scrounging through the wreckage of the previous world for each individual’s survival. Among the Brutals is a horse-riding semi-organized militia of enforcers, the Exterminators, who receive guns from Zardoz, a god in the form of a huge flying stone head that orders the Exterminators to enslave defenseless Brutals into chain-gangs to perform rudimentary agricultural labor, or other such work as mining, as might be required to supply the Vortex with what its denizens desire. The Exterminators punish any infraction and every failure by a Brutal – however trivial – with instant death by gunfire. The Exterminators, all men, also exult in their power and preference by their god, Zardoz, by freely raping and pillaging among the Brutals. Zardoz tells them: “The gun is good.” It is the hobby and amusement of Arthur Frayn, one of the Eternals, to carry on the charade of being Zardoz (piloting the stone head, and supplying the Exterminators with commands and cascades of firearms). It happens that through an instance of Arthur Frayn’s carelessness one of the Exterminators, Zed, manages to get into the Vortex and once there evolves despite an oppressive captivity, from Brutal ignorance to Eternal knowledge, and this leads to the complete and violent death of Vortex society, and transfiguration of humanity. The movie Zardoz is a dark – black – analog to the much gentler if still subtly sharp Downsizing.

The essential lesson of responding to the approach of a destructive inevitability beyond your society’s power is to engage in compassionate cooperation to make your society as good as it can be for as long as you and it can be made to last, and to find your life’s fulfillment in doing so.

This idea is captured visually so simply in the last moments of Downsizing that it remains invisible to the majority of the viewing public. And so our fractious collectivity cruises onward, untrammeled, towards its willfully unexpected collision with fate.

 Manuel Garcia, Jr, once a physicist, is now a lazy househusband who writes out his analyses of physical or societal problems or interactions. He can be reached at

Economics / 🎸 Iconic Guitar Brand Gibson Files For Bankruptcy
« on: May 01, 2018, 12:43:58 PM »
The Collapse of Rock & Roll has begun!


Iconic Guitar Brand Gibson Files For Bankruptcy

Company will refocus on its musical instruments, shedding its audio and home entertainment business
Detail Of The Headstock And Kluson Tuners On A Gibson Collector's Choice #18 1960 Les Paul. Jesse Wild/Future/REX Shutterstock
By Amy X. Wang
2 hours ago

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Those who fear the death of rock & roll won't be happy to hear that Gibson Brands Inc, the maker of some of America's most epochal electric and acoustic guitars, has filed for bankruptcy.
Gibson Agrees to Pay Penalty Over Imported Ebony Wood

Guitar maker settles federal charges with $350,000 in fines

The Nashville-based company announced Tuesday that it is filing for chapter 11 bankruptcy and working on "re-focusing, reorganizing and restructuring" – i.e., trying to find its way out of a pile of debt – by shedding some of its side businesses and concentrating on its original mission of selling musical instruments.

"Over the past 12 months, we have made substantial strides through an operational restructuring. We have sold non-core brands, increased earnings, and reduced working capital demands," said Gibson's CEO Henry Juszkiewicz in a statement.

Those "non-core brands" include an audio and home entertainment business that Gibson acquired for $135 million from multinational tech firm Phillips in 2014, in a bid to broaden the company's presence among music fans, which the company says will now "be wound down." According to a court filing from the management consulting firm that will assist the company's pivot, Gibson’s electronics business had been "trapped in a vicious cycle in which it lacked the liquidity to buy inventory and drive sales." The company will continue to operate during its reorientation and bankruptcy proceedings, thanks to agreements it has reached with shareholders and noteholders.

The writing was on the wall for the iconic guitar company, as its annual revenue fell nearly half a billion in the last three years. It has debts of between $100 million and $500 million and owes money to at least 26 other companies, including suppliers; import regulations on rosewood have hampered its business in the last few years, as has a dramatic fall in the sale of guitars overall. (Fender is also in debt. Leading instrument retailer Guitar Center is hanging by a string.)

But it's not all bad news. Gibson – which also owns and makes musical instruments under a number of other household brand names including Epiphone, Kramer, Steinberger, Dobro, and Baldwin – is still a juggernaut in its industry, and the company's renewed focus on its instruments business could allow it to explore fresh ways of appealing to music fans.

"The Gibson name is synonymous with quality and today's actions will allow future generations to experience the unrivaled sound, design and craftsmanship that our employees put into each Gibson product," Juszkiewicz said. Just how many future generations will be interested in learning to play, of course, is another matter.

More great pics at the link.


Rural Kansas is dying. I drove 1,800 miles to find out why
Luke Townsend
A native Kansan returns home to find that the broken promises of commodity agriculture have destroyed a way of life.

April 26th, 2018
by Corie Brown   

Culture Farm Issues Policy
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Most Americans experience Kansas from inside their cars, eight hours of cruise-controlled tedium on their way to someplace else. Even residents of the state’s eastern power centers glimpse its vast rural spaces at 85 mph, if at all.

But on recent trips back, I wanted to really see my home state—so I avoided I-70, the zippy east/west thoroughfare. The slower pace paid off in moments of heart-stopping beauty. At dawn, outside Courtland, wisps of morning mist floated above the patchwork of farms that gently rolled out all around me. Driving up a slight incline, I had a 360-degree panorama to a distant horizon. And that is when I realized what was missing. As far as I could see, there was an utter lack of people. The only other sign of human life was a farm truck roaring down a string-straight road toward the edge of the earth.
Pictured above is a small section of Main Street in Wheaton, Kansas. The building of Kufahl Hardwarde, formerly Wilson and Kufahl, was founded in 1896. The upper level was a funeral home. There’s a giant wooden freight elevator, still in working order, that was used to lift and lower caskets. To the right of the sign on the corner is a red gas pump.

That’s the thing about rural Kansas: No one lives there, not anymore. The small towns that epitomize America’s heartland are cut off from the rest of the world by miles and miles of grain, casualties of a vast commodity agriculture system that has less and less use for living, breathing farmers.

U.S. census data tells the story. The population in most of Kansas’s rural counties peaked 50 years ago or earlier. The state’s annual population growth rate is among the slowest in the country, steadily falling from 1.2 percent in 1960 to 0.9 percent in 2016, with nearly all of that meager growth concentrated in a handful of eastern urban areas—Wichita, Kansas City, Topeka, and Lawrence.

Population is also growing in the areas around the state’s massive slaughterhouses and feedlots, which have built communities largely around immigrant labor. But that’s nowhere near enough to stave off the decline, which is only expected to increase more rapidly. Wichita State University forecasts Kansas’s annual population growth next year will fall by half again, holding steady at a paltry 0.4 percent for the next 40 years. Dozens of Kansas’s rural counties now average less than 10 people per square mile, while towns I remember from my childhood have almost completely collapsed. According to U.S. News and World Report, Kansas ranks 46th in net migration, and is losing 25- to 29-year-olds faster than any other state.

I wanted to know more. So I spent weeks visiting farms and main streets, and driving around the state’s back roads—more than 1,800 miles in total—to find out where everyone went, and why the last, remaining holdouts decide to stay.

A road in depopulated rural Manhattan, KansasLuke Townsend

Just south of Manhattan, Kansas at sunrise. Early morning fog from the Kansas River covers soybean and corn, dry crop fields farmed by small, local, independent farmers. This area is in a flood zone, with sandy soil in the valley of the Flint Hills, and scattered with trees

My journey began last December, with a journalistic lead—a story I felt sure would confirm my belief in the power of good food.

I’d learned that a group of nonprofits led by the Kansas Health Foundation had spent years studying the depopulation of rural Kansas. Their research had yielded one central finding: local food stores selling fresh produce help to stabilize struggling communities. Last November, the consortium unveiled an initiative implemented by Kansas State University that could deliver up to $10 million through a mix of grants and loans to support such stores (the majority of those dollars will be provided in loans).

The spark for this initiative came from Marci Penner, a self-starter in Inman, Kansas (population 1,353) who publishes state guidebooks through her Kansas Sampler Foundation. After twice visiting each of the state’s 626 incorporated towns—half of which have fewer than 400 people—she has doggedly tracked the success of their food stores. In her view, a town’s ability to survive hinges on whether residents can buy healthy food there.

Penner’s goal is to get urban Kansans out to rural areas to support these struggling communities. “No one knows how to wrap their heads around these little towns. We are invisible,” she told me. “It’s time someone said, ‘I’m from Kansas. I’m sticking up for this state.’”

My bags were packed the minute I got off the phone. A story about Kansans determined to keep America’s breadbasket from becoming a food desert would write itself, I thought. But it was also an excuse to go back home. A fourth-generation Kansan on both sides, I found myself looking for a reason to return, and longing to drive through parts of the state I haven’t visited in decades. I could almost smell the Flint Hills wildflowers and see the wind’s invisible fingers moving through that ocean of bluestem grasses.

With a list of Penner’s favorite stores in hand and my daughter along to share the journey, I flew home.

We sensed the missing plot points in Penner’s folktale early on. Too many storeowners knew nothing about the grants. When we asked rural officials about the importance of grocery stores, they shrugged. Affordable housing, jobs, schools and hospitals topped their lists. Everyone wanted to talk about Kansas’s depopulation crisis, but a lack of healthy food, they all agreed, was not why people left.

Reality snapped into focus the morning we drove into Downs (population 844). I’d been in a close friend’s wedding there in the 1980s, and the tiny, one-street downtown had teemed with life back then. My friend’s father owned, edited, and published the local newspaper. Another friend’s dad ran a successful real estate company. It took those girls forever to walk anywhere; everyone wanted to stop and chat. Downs had 1,324 residents in 1980—36 percent more than it has today.
Kansas’s plentiful grain crop has come at the expense of nearly everything else.

Thirty years later, the blank faces of empty storefronts line the main drag. Oddly, one of the last remaining businesses we found was a well-stocked grocery store, though no one was shopping inside the brightly lit aisles. When we asked where we could get a cup of coffee, the cashier directed us to the gas station outside of town on the two-lane state road. A pot of brown water on a quick mart hot plate was the best the town had to offer.

Everywhere, I felt the absence—of people, of commerce, even of sound. The silence was broken only by a vintage pickup truck pulling up to the Downs grain elevator, huge mounds of excess grain piled high on the ground all around it.

That image—abundance at the center of a depopulated landscape—sums up the reality of rural Kansas. Yes, the harvest continues to be bounteous. But it masks a harder truth: Kansas’s plentiful grain crop has come at the expense of nearly everything else.

Donn Teske, Kansas commodity grain farmer in rural KansasLuke Townsend

Donn Teske, president of the Kansas Famers Union

Feeding the world, at any cost

It’s hard to talk about Kansas without talking about wheat. In 2016, the state grew 467 million bushels across 8.2 million acres, an area almost twice the size of New Jersey. Hard Red Winter wheat, a hearty, versatile variety that dominates the landscape with its firm, tannish tassels, accounts for 95 percent of Kansas’s wheat acreage, which in turn represents 40 percent of America’s total Hard Red Winter crop. Most years, Kansas is the top U.S. wheat producer as well as exporter, contributing as much as 20 percent of the country’s overall crop—enough to pack a freight train stretching from the state’s western border all the way to the Atlantic Ocean. But Kansas is a major grower of other commodity crops as well. Between 2015 and 2017, only two states—Iowa and North Dakota—had more planted acreage. Almost 90 percent of Kansas’s total land area is devoted to agriculture.

Kansans worked for generations to transform the prairie grasslands into this solidly planted landscape. Farmers accepted that heritage until their communities began to shrivel and die.

“It’s getting lonely,” said Donn Teske, who farms near Wheaton (population 103). “It doesn’t make much sense to keep going, does it?”

Teske is president of the Kansas Farmers Union, and carries the weight of experience in his sigh—the same world-weariness I heard in other farmers’ voices as I traveled the state. For years, he’s watched friends and neighbors urge their children to go work in the city because the land doesn’t offer enough of a future. Now it appears they were right.

“I’ve been fighting this fight my whole life,” he told me. “Everything always works to help the big get bigger. I farm 1,000 acres,” he said, and that’s not big enough any more. Kansas farmers “are really good people and they’ve been fed a line.”
Commodity crop prices have fallen off a cliff.

The line I heard again and again on this trip, and throughout my childhood, is “Kansas farmers feed the world.” Both today and in years past, I heard this truism spoken with deep pride, a rationalization for all the hard work and money spent to keep improving yields. For some, though, this rural mantra has started to smack of a con. While farmers have toiled to increase output at every opportunity, they now are seeing their incomes fall in return.

Since 1980, the average Kansas farm has expanded in size from 640 to 770 acres—and yield increased, too, thanks to investments in machinery and chemicals. Between 2003 and 2016, Kansas’s farmers improved their wheat yields from 48 bushels/acre to 57 bushels/acre and enjoyed some record harvests, according to Mykel Taylor, a K-State agricultural economist.

But those extra bushels per acre likely required exorbitant financial investment. During those same years, Kansas’s average annual expenses per farm more than doubled, rising from $130,000 in 2003 to a whopping $300,000 in 2016, according to Taylor. And now, commodity crop prices have fallen off a cliff. Commodity wheat, for instance, fell to $3.37 per bushel in 2016 after averaging $6.50 per bushel across the previous eight years.

Surplus grain storage facility in rural depopulated KansasLuke Townsend

A large surplus grain storage facility just on the edge of Lebanon, Kansas (population 203). This is surplus that hasn’t been, and/or can’t be sold yet. Across the street is an area the same in size filled completely with sorghum

The combination of soaring costs and plummeting prices has created an emergency in the nation’s breadbasket. “We are in our third year of very low farm income levels across the state,” said Taylor. Net income per operator fell to $8,451 in 2015. While it rebounded to $55,790 in 2016, it remains well below the $150,000 average of the previous seven years.

It is dark irony that, by focusing on production, Kansas farmers have devalued their own goods. Ever more sophisticated technology has led to a commodity grains glut that—thanks to the simple law of supply and demand—has crashed prices. In towns across Kansas, two- and three-year-old wheat sits under tarps beside full-to-the-brim grain elevators. Farmers wait in the hope that prices will rise—even just a little bit—before they sell.

“We’ve grown so much wheat we’ve dug ourselves into a hole after a run of good years,” said Taylor. The state is a victim of its own agricultural success.

When debt-saddled farmers can’t recoup their expenses, they can quickly have no choice but to sell their land—a painful decision that sometimes means leaving rural Kansas entirely. There were 75,000 farms in Kansas in 1980. Today, there are only 59,600, according to Xan Wedel, a researcher at the University of Kansas Institute for Policy & Social Research.
“Kansans are complacent. They accept the depopulation.”

But consolidation is not the only way commoditized farming exacts a human cost. The very purpose of today’s highly mechanized agriculture is to eliminate people from the farm system. After all, modern technology—from machinery to chemical herbicides to proprietary high-yield seed—allows one farmer to accomplish a task that would have taken three a generation ago. Today, operators sitting at computers hundreds of miles from the farm can easily steer gigantic harvesters via satellite. Kansas’s agricultural landscape needs fewer and fewer human caretakers.

Rural areas across the Great Plains “uniformly are experiencing decline,” said John Leatherman, an agricultural economist at K-State, the land grant university responsible for supporting Kansas’s agricultural sector. And, in his view, that’s not such a terrible thing. “Under-utilized human infrastructure”— schools and hospitals serving depopulated areas—is a burden on urban taxpayers, he said. “It is good for society and the world as a whole,” to move to a more robotic “factory floor” model of agriculture.

Not long from now, “the region will only need people to run the grain silos and the gas stations,” said Laszlo Kulcsar, head of Agricultural Economics, Sociology, and Education at Pennsylvania State University. “Such people will not care about the place or the land. They will be people with no other options.”

For years, Kulcsar studied the depopulation of rural Kansas as director of K-State’s Kansas Population Center. In his view, commodity agriculture has squeezed all other economic life out of rural Kansas. But when he visited all of Kansas’s 105 counties on more than one occasion to speak with farmers and other residents about their lives, he found only resignation.

“Kansans are complacent,” he said. “They accept the depopulation. They think they are winning if they just slow it down. That’s not winning.”

Luke Mahin of Courtland, Kansas Luke Townsend

Luke Mahin standing in the door frame of a hoop farm where tomatoes are being grown. As economic development director for Courtland, Kansas, Mahin has helped provide resources to farmers to produce these projects

A failure of policy

Luke Mahin grew up in Courtland (population 270), the geographic center of the lower 48 states. As Republic County economic development director, he is responsible for keeping his spot of north-central Kansas from going silent. This shouldn’t be a tough job, he told me: His internet-connected, foodie generation is full of farm kids eager to come home. Courtland has a local, organic farmer who uses hoop houses to keep the town supplied with fresh produce much of the year. Pinky’s is a local spot to gather at for coffee in the morning and beers in the evening—rare amenities for a town as small as Courtland. In theory, amenities like these could combine the best of the city with the perks of country living.

The problem is there are no jobs; everyone who wants to stay has to bring one with them. And, when people are in short supply, so is affordable housing. The cost of building or rehabbing a house cannot be recouped in a rural housing market stuck in free fall. I asked Mahin who he turns to for support. Who has his back? He paused a moment before answering that he often turns to small-town advocate Marci Penner. She tries to help, he said.

The state government? Not so much. Depopulation has lessened rural Kansas’s political clout, said Mike Matson, director of industry affairs and development with the Kansas Farm Bureau. Today, he said, the number of residents living in a few blocks of the Kansas City suburbs outweighs the population spread across 14 rural counties.

“We feel the prejudice in the cities against supporting small towns,” Mahin said. “Legislators hear people say ‘there’s no one out there,’ and they use that to cut support.” Despite the fact that he’s a Republican, Mahin said he’s struggled to get the attention of the state’s Republican governor, Jeff Colyer, or anyone in the Republican-controlled Legislature.

The stakes are high. In 2012, former Kansas Governor Sam Brownback instigated a budget crisis by instating massive business tax cuts—state revenues plunged by $700 million, and education and infrastructure were slashed in response. These cuts were particularly hard on rural Kansas. While the State Legislature kept the state solvent by restoring two-thirds of those taxes last year, and will likely increase taxes again, programs targeting rural Kansas no longer exist, according to Duane Goossen, a senior fellow with Kansas Center for Economic Growth.

“Kansas is not in a position to mitigate the effects of rural depopulation. The state can’t invest in any of the programs that would help keep those communities healthy,” said Goossen. “All of the state’s political energy is going into making ends meet.” It will be a generation before the state returns to pre-2012 functionality, he said.

Empty streets and storefronts in depopulated rural Kansas have replaced ones that once teemed with lifeLuke Townsend

Main Street in Frankfort, Kansas, an old railroad town founded in 1867. Population: 726. Ninety-eight percent of the town is populated by white residents

Over chili at Hays House in Council Grove, (population 2,060), I spoke with former Kansas U.S. Senator Nancy Landon Kassebaum, age 85, who has retired to her Flint Hills ranch. She remains the gracious stateswoman I knew as an intern in her Washington office and was direct and matter-of-fact about the continuing depopulation of rural Kansas. “This has been going on a long time,” she said.

In Kassebaum’s view, more could be done to support small communities, but a lack of leadership in rural Kansas has stymied potential efforts. Besides, minds are not easily changed. “Kansas farmers are very good, very efficient,” she said. You could phrase her compliment another way: Kansans will cling proudly to commodity agriculture even as it destroys them.

Some of the people I spoke to—like Tom Giessel, a historian for the National Farmers Union—long for the days when the state had strong leadership in Washington. Between Kassebaum and former Kansas U.S. Senator Bob Dole, the state was a political powerhouse in the 1980s and 1990s, but those days have long since passed. “I just want to go back and hug them both,” said Giessel, who farms in south-central Kansas near Larned (population 3,900). He’s sure neither would be sitting on the sidelines. Today, he said, it’s a different story. “Kansas has no power in Washington anymore.”

That’s not going to change any time soon. Depopulation will likely continue to hurt Kansas’s stature on the national stage: The state is expected to lose a U.S. Representative seat—going from four to three districts—after the next census, or the following one.

With policy solutions in short supply, the future of rural Kansas increasingly depends on international trade deals. While the future is “bigger farms and fewer farmers,” said the Farm Bureau’s Matson, keeping international markets open to Kansas’s grain is critical to sustaining what’s left of the state’s farm communities. When I spoke with him back in January, the Bureau was pressing President Trump to break his campaign promise and keep the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) intact while pushing him to replace the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) with new Asia deals.

This month, Trump further destabilized America’s farm communities by advancing a trade war with China. To make it up to farmers, among Trump’s most ardent supporters, the administration said it would consider rejoining the TPP. But that distant hope was dashed last week when Trump announced he would only consider bilateral trade deals with individual nations.

Cattle grazing in rural KansasLuke Townsend

Cattle farm off of highway 99, between Frankfort and Wheaton, Kansas at sunset. It’s calfing season on the cattle farms and you can see two new baby cows here grazing alongside the senior cattle

The slaughterhouse as silver bullet

“It would appear we are headed toward zero,” conceded Don Hineman, majority leader of the Kansas House of Representatives and western Kansas farmer from Dighton (population 970). While he said he’s optimistic farmers will be part of the landscape of Kansas for another 100 years, Hineman did not deny the endgame. The state’s current economy has been particularly hard on his district. “We feel the pain more than the cities. With cuts in healthcare, schools, and highways, there is no work for our rural folks.”

And yet Hineman is one of many Kansans who believes there is a silver bullet: food-processing operations, mostly feedlots and slaughterhouses. Republican Congressman Roger Marshall agrees. His vast district, one of the geographically largest in the country, includes the western two-thirds of the state. Feedlots and meatpacking plants have made southwest Kansas an economic hot spot, he said. “We are growing so fast we can’t get enough people out there.”

Southwest Kansas is winning, according to Kulcsar, by accepting immigrants to work in local meat processing plants. Inside the beautiful new high school in Garden City, 31 different flags hang, each representing a country of origin for their students. “Economic infusion will come from people who are different culturally from the people who live in Kansas now,” said Kulcsar.

Rural population decline in Kansas, except near feedlots 1950 - 2017Gus Wezerek

At times, the sources of this growth have laid bare another of Kansas’s cultural obstacles: xenophobia. “There is a vocal anti-immigrant minority in the state,” Hineman said, recognizing that Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach was the Trump administration appointee who promised—and failed—to prove that millions of illegal immigrants voted for Hillary Clinton in the 2016 election. Race is an increasingly fraught cultural rift. Eighty-five percent of Kansans describe themselves as “white alone,” according to KU’s Institute for Policy & Social Research—11.5 percent whiter than the country as a whole. Wichita, the state’s largest city and home to Koch Industries, is a rare American city that is growing whiter—up three percent in the last five years with 76.2 percent self-defining as “white alone.”

Regardless, said Hineman, “most Kansans understand this is the workforce we need most” if the state is going to expand its population.

Which is one reason Congressman Marshall bristled at any mention of rural depopulation or a depressed farm economy. The Kansas economy is booming, he insisted, carefully sidestepping any mention of the state’s rural/urban divide. His chosen indicator of its vibrancy is the state’s 50,000 unfilled jobs. But when I asked for a copy of that jobs report, I received a spreadsheet showing 27,716 open jobs in Kansas—the vast majority in the state’s few urban areas. In the western two-thirds of the state, which includes the thriving meatpacking zone, the report lists 3,685 unfilled jobs.

Marshall is emphatic, however, that his district needs no additional state or federal help. “I think communities can solve their problems better for themselves,” he said, voicing a common Kansas sentiment. “I believe in American ingenuity and the American spirit.”

But even that optimism may contain a form of denial: Critics allege commodity food processing, such as meatpacking, suffers the same shortfalls that make commodity crop farming unsustainable.

Industrial meat processing offers no more secure future than industrial agriculture, said Don Stull, KU professor emeritus of sociocultural anthropology, who has studied the meatpacking industry for 30 years. In his view, both systems tend to grind communities up in their ceaseless push for lower costs and fewer workers.
Dozens of Kansas’s rural counties now average less than 10 people per square mile.

The state’s farmers accept a system that forces them to pay ever higher prices for farm inputs and offers them no options for selling their grain except commodity markets where they have no control over price, Stull said. Industrial food processing is the same no-win game—and not just because feedlots and meatpacking plants pollute surrounding land. They, too, are subject to the precarious rise and fall of global commodity trading. They, too, tend to treat human workers like cogs, in a push for ever-greater efficiency that’s likely to lead to increased automation.

“We understand what these plants do to the environment, to the quality of rural life,” said Stull. Yes, individual counties and the state could demand higher environmental standards, demand these companies treat workers and animals better. But, in Kansas, it may not be feasible to impose more regulation on farms and processors. Stull said it would mean “falling on your sword”—political suicide.

“I’m not optimistic,” he said.

In other words, business as usual.

Frankfort, Kansas is a long stretch of open rural Kansas roadLuke Townsend

Frankfort, Kansas, looking straight down Main Street. Pictured are the main rail lines, grain elevators, old water tower, and church steeple popping up from the trees

Help wanted

Across Kansas, a lonely few are trying to pivot away from the system of industrial agriculture that has defined, and drained, the state.

I met Tim Raile at Fresh Seven Coffee in Saint Francis (population 1,300), at the suggestion of owners Kale Dankenbring and his wife, Heidi Plumb. After a cup of their coffee, our first cup of the trip that didn’t come from a gas station, I trusted their taste.

In the most remote northwest corner of the state, Dankenbring’s hometown, the couple built a motorcycle repair shop and coffee house with graffiti art and used furnishings suitable for any hangout in Los Angeles or Brooklyn. In five short years, they became the glue holding this struggling farm community together. Raile is a regular, as are most of the farmers, their wives, and the town’s two cops. “People who have never left rural Kansas just see the limitations,” said Dankenbring, who brought Plumb, with her coffee roaster, home with him after they traveled the world together.

Like most of the farmers in Cheyenne County, Raile has been a conventional commodity grain farmer his whole life, as were his father and grandfather, one of the original group of German farmers immigrating to America from Russia who built the town at the turn of the century.
Going organic is the ultimate contrarian move for a Kansas farmer.

But as Raile said: “When everyone zigs, I zag.” He has always been quick to try new seeds, new herbicides, and new machines, and was an early adopter of no-till farming. While other northwest Kansas farmers were draining the Ogallala Aquifer to irrigate thirsty cornfields, Raile dry farmed. He likes to bet against the crowd.

Easy-to-spray herbicides and pesticides made it possible for Raile to handle his 8,500-acre farm by himself, only recently bringing his son on to help. But one year, his cocktail of herbicides left a few weeds. The next year, and each year thereafter, more weeds survived. In a few years, weeds were overwhelming his wheat fields. “It didn’t matter what chemicals we used or how much,” he said.

When his annual herbicide bill hit $250,000, Raile feared he was killing his farm in an effort to protect his income. “I quit arguing with reality,” he said. “This wasn’t sustainable.” He switched to certified organic agriculture.

Going organic is the ultimate contrarian move for a Kansas farmer. Raile kept his decision a secret from even his closest friends that first year. Less than one percent of Kansas’s agricultural production is certified organic—that’s a mere 86 farms with a total of 54,208 certified organic acres, as of 2016, according to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). In a state with $18 billion in annual agricultural product sales, the 60 members of the Kansas Organic Producers Association have recorded a mere $8 million in annual sales for the last several years.

Disdain for organics runs deep among Kansas farmers, said Raile. Two and a half years into his transition to organic, just one friend has stopped by to ask him about switching.

“There are plenty of good reasons to not go into organics,” he said. It’s labor intensive, which means hiring farmhands. He had to buy new equipment and learn new farming methods. Still, he thinks the math is in his favor with the money he’ll save on chemicals.

“I’ve always believed the big ag companies when they said their chemicals are safe,” he told me. And he chooses to continue to not question that trust. But if consumers are paying a premium for organics—two to four times the price of commodity wheat, depending on the grain —he thinks it’s crazy not to grow it for them. He plans to sell directly to customers along the Front Range of the Rocky Mountains, a three-hour drive from Saint Francis, where demand is high for organic heritage grains.

Raile isn’t alone, said Catherine Greene, USDA senior agricultural economist. With commodity grain prices falling, there has been a spike in conventional grain farmers switching to organics. “It’s a higher value crop, which is why organic acreage is increasing around the world,” she said.

Raile is not the first St. Francis farmer to go organic. Robert Klie flipped his 2,100 acres to organics 13 years ago and said he earns $22/bushel for heirloom Turkey Red wheat and $10/bushel for his standard organic wheat. “When the chemicals don’t work, the company always has an excuse,” said Klie. That ticked him off. One day he stopped using chemicals cold turkey. “Chemical companies have brainwashed farmers, telling them they are feeding the world and they can’t do it without all of these chemicals. Well, you can do it without chemicals. We are,” he said.
“We have got to develop more specialty agriculture in this region. Our traditional life is ending as the price of grain goes down.”

Back at Fresh Seven, Plumb told me about Nina and Jeter Isley, whose Y Knot Farm & Ranch uses hoop houses to grow fresh organic produce seven months of the year. She serves their vegetables in her salads and sandwiches. She also made friends with Mike Callicrate, an outspoken local regenerative rancher with progressive ideas about overhauling America’s food system, and started serving burgers made with his ground beef.

Bob Klie and the Isleys are members of The High Plains Food Cooperative, 20 or so local food producers who have developed a market for their products in the Denver, Colorado area where Raile hopes to sell his organic grain. The co-op’s annual sales are close to $400,000, showing enough success that the non-profit city foundation in neighboring Bird City, Kansas plans to build them a food processing facility.

“We have got to develop more specialty agriculture in this region,” said Rod Klepper, a retired businessman who has made revitalizing northwest Kansas a personal mission. “The window of opportunity is closing fast out here. Our traditional life is ending as the price of grain goes down. We spend more pumping up the fertilizer and herbicide to increase yields and the price falls further. That’s the spiral we’re in.”

What began as a market-driven decision, Raile said, has changed his philosophy about farming and caring for his soils and the environment. He joined the Organic Trade Association (OTA) and went to Washington, D.C. to lobby Republican Senator Pat Roberts for changes in the 2018 farm bill that would put new organic growers on par with conventional farmers when it comes to federal farm insurance, hoping to encourage more conventional farmers to switch.

Raile hopes to push K-State to teach organic agriculture. Currently, the university offers no—as in zero—organic agriculture classes, a common situation with land grant schools dependent on corporate underwriting.

“Tim is pushing the envelope,” said Laura Batcha, OTA’s executive director. “The central part of the country is one of the least developed areas for organics,” a fact she believes could change with Raile’s leadership. Organic agriculture creates “hot spots” of economic activity, she said, increasing the number of jobs, raising wages, and reducing poverty across a region.

Luke Mahin, Republic County’s economic development director, agreed. He told me he wishes he could convince Courtland’s commodity farmers to start growing specialty crops such as produce, organics, and heirloom grains. “Commodity crops are a race to the bottom,” he said. “It’s an agricultural system that kills jobs instead of creating them.”

Raile expects to hire two additional farmhands, both of whom will need advanced educations to handle the technology he plans to use. That’s not enough to turn around the local economy, but it does make Raile a rare Kansas farmer who hangs a “help wanted” sign on his door.

Kansas wheat fields in commodity farming countryLuke Townsend

Kansas’s predominately German heritage settlers survived holy hell—disease, clouds of giant grasshoppers, epic thunderstorms and blizzards, years of drought, and then the Dust Bowl. Gold diggers and gamblers moved on. Sodbusters and schoolteachers stayed to hoe their rows.

Many of today’s farmers are direct descendants of those original pioneers. Alone and in silence, they are bearing witness to the emptying out of their communities and the disappearance of their ancestors’ legacy. But, like so much about Kansas, it doesn’t have to be that way.

Across Kansas, small towns have established food policy councils working to build resilient food and agriculture economies in the absence of coherent federal and state-level leadership. And the fact that Kansans have partially restored their state business taxes and are moving, fitfully, toward insuring the future of their public schools gives me hope for their future. Focusing on the next generation is always a good place to start. But blind faith in outdated agricultural orthodoxy and a failure to imagine a new way forward for farmers still dominates rural policy.

If only Kansans were as fiercely independent and self-reliant as they claim to be. They might take a stand to preserve their own future. They might step away from the herd to consider new ideas. With more self-confidence, they might believe the approach to agriculture that’s disserved them can be changed for the better.

They might even show the world outside Kansas why this singular place, with its particular culture, is worth cherishing—giving passers-through a new reason to slow, roll down their windows, and decide to stay a while.
Original photography for this piece was shot by Luke Townsend, a street and cultural photographer based in Manhattan, Kansas. See more of his work here.

Correction: An earlier version of this story reported that the Kansas Health Foundation’s initiative being implemented by Kansas State University could deliver up to $10 million in grants to support local stores selling fresh produce. In fact, the $10 million will be delivered in a mix of grants and loans, with the majority of those funds being provided by loans.

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