Category Archives: Gardens

Ralph Nader on wealth, power, and politics


This is the first of three segments from The Real News Network featuring an extended Paul Jay interview of Ralph Nader:

McCarthyism Made Us Veer Away From a Systemic Doctrine for Change – Ralph Nader

From the transcript:

JAY: But now, you know, as we see capitalism in its–the ’08 financial crisis and the sort of recovery of Asia, you start to see–and let me add another big thing is there’s no longer this–even if it’s hypothetical–or was it theoretical?–but there wasn’t this supposed socialist Soviet Union that was going to guarantee jobs and insurance, health insurance, and this and that. I mean, the message of European capitalism and America to Europe, not so much to Americans: well, you don’t need socialism to get all this; capitalism can do it for you.

NADER: Yeah, social democratic politics they called it.

JAY: But now Europe is now turning on itself, and they’re doing everything they can to get rid of all this stuff. And now they want to be like the American model, to be more competitive.

But I guess where I’m going with this is: have we entered a kind of new stage of history of capitalist development?

NADER: Well, basically it was globalization that did it to Western Europe. Once they took in the model of the World Trade Organization, once they in effect financialized more of their economy–derivatives, speculation, stock market, all that–that’s when they started going down. I warned them: do not accept the U.S. multinational model, ’cause it’s going to happen to you. And the effect of the multinational model was exacerbated by the European common market. So if they got in one country, they’d get in a lot of the other countries.

However, they still have a safety net. And it’s frayed badly in England. For example, they’re charging students now as high as $12,000 a year for tuition. But by comparison with us, nobody dies in Western Europe–nobody dies in Western Europe because they don’t have health insurance. They’re insured from the cradle to the grave. In this country, 800 Americans die every week, every week, ’cause they can’t afford health insurance to get diagnosed and treated in time.

And that’s–figure comes from a Harvard Medical School peer-reviewed study in the December 2009 Journal of American Public Health. This is not some wild figure. Eight hundred a week, and not a single major politician is talking about it in the election year last year.

‘You say Tom-Ta-to, I say Tom-Tah-to. . .’


What’s next? Real, live Turduckens? But at least it’s not a GMO. . .

From ITN News:

TomTato hybrid – tomato and potato hybrid plant launched

The program notes:

A hybrid plant that combines a tomato and a potato has been launched in the UK. The firm behind the TomTato has called it a “Veg plot in a pot” and says it could help many people grow their own vegetables at home.

Project Development Manager at Thompson and Morgan, Michael Perry, said: “It’s a hundred per cent natural, so no GMs involved, it is completely natural and safe and each plant is grafted by hand so a very, very delicate process.”

The grafting process involves providing a clean cut on the two plants and taping the ends together until they heal. The procedure has been around for more than 15 years but hasn’t been made commercially available until now. Report by Ashley Fudge.

Cuba at the crossroads: The rise of the co-op


In the aftermath of the 1917 revolution in Russia, Vladimir Lenin aggressively nationalized industry and merchandising, a policy that quickly led to popular

“Socialist Russia will come from NEP.” —Lenin Source.

“Socialist Russia will come from NEP.” —Lenin
Source.

discontent. The Party’s response was to allow small-scale private enterprises and food production, a policy known as the New Economic Policy, or NEP.

But the NEP was brutally destroyed by Stalin after his consolidation of power after Lenin’s death, with the program declared finished in 1928.

In 1959, when Fidel Castro’s revolutionary took control of the Cuban government, both of the world’s leading self-declared communist states were still in the throes of Stalinist central control, though Nikita Khrushchev had loosened the reins a bit in the Soviet Union.

Castro, financially supported by the Soviets, adopted a modified version of the Moscow system, which was maintained trough the collapse of the Soviet system, then modified creatively and by necessity when the flow of Soviet cash and oil evaporated — leading to, among other things, the world’s most productive system of urban agriculture.

Cuban adapted and endured, and despite the decades-long economic embargo by the United States and a ban on U.S. tourism — once an economic mainstay of the island nation.

Now Cuba is embarking on what might be described as its own version of the NEP, most notably in agriculture.

Now the Cuban experiment is treated to coverage by only major international power claiming the communist mantle, China — which has traveled much farther down the market economy road than Cuba.

Here’s the coverage by CCTV’s Americas Now:

Cuba Shifting from State-Operated Establishments to Private Co-Ops

The program notes:

In 1968, Cuba nationalized its businesses, adopting a Soviet style system that had all enterprise controlled by the state. CCTV correspondent Michael Voss finds that conditions appear to be changing.

We love that 1951 Chevrolet driving by the food co-op manager, an amazing testament both to the durability of Detroit’s vintage iron and to the spirit of the Cuba people in keeping it running for the last 62 years.

Chris Hedges: On building a strong movement


In the latest and penultimate segment of Paul Jay’s interviews of Chris Hedges for The Real News Network, Jay and the former New York Times Middle East bureau chief focuses on the narrow range of mainstream political discourse and the need to build institutions to challenge And circumvent the ever-consolidating wealth and power of the elite.

Chris Hedges: As a Socialist, I Have No Voice in the Mainstream

From the transcript:

JAY: So people watching this, what would you suggest they do next?

HEDGES: We have to begin to build organizations to protect ourselves from corporate forces that are determined to exploit the ecosystem until it collapses. We have to recognize that the implantation of global capitalism is one that will reconfigure the world into a kind of neo-feudal society where workers here will be told that they have to be competitive with the sweatshop workers in Bangladesh and make $0.22 an hour prison labor in China. That’s already happening. We have to recognize that the vast corporate systems that we have set up.

For instance, our food system is very fragile and is not sustainable. Food must once again be local. We can’t continue to feed ourselves on a system where we’re shipping all of our fruits and vegetables from California or Florida across the country. That means beginning to–and more than community gardens, but essentially buying local, creating sustainable systems that are local, bcause when things go down, the elites will withdraw into their gated compounds, where they will have access to security, water, medical facilities, all sorts of things that they will deny to the rest of us. They’re not going to take care of us when things come, when things go bad. And we have to begin to prepare for that.

It’s not a very pleasant scenario. It’s not pleasant to think about. But it’s survivable if we begin to respond to what’s coming. As long as we remain unplugged, as long as we are checked out, which is how they want us, we’re going to be left defenseless.

Monday evening eye candy: French gardens


Ten minutes of virtual tourism from FRANCE 24 English:

Journey through France’s most celebrated gardens

The program notes:

Today the culture show takes you to some of France’s most celebrated gardens. A journey throughout the country to understand what makes the Tuileries or Claude Monet’s Giverny so special and what kind of new challenges they face. You’ll see that the work of landscape architects and gardeners is art itself. Standing the test of time, these gardens attract hundreds of thousands of visitors every year.

Headline of the day II: Botanical boldness bared


From the Shropshire Star:

Royal Mail takes action over “aggressive raspberries” at Shropshire home

A pensioner has been issued with a health and safety warning by the Royal Mail – after he was told his “aggressive raspberries” were threatening a postwoman.

H/T to Nothing To Do With Abroath.

Occupy the Farm returns to UC Berkeley land


It was three days short of a year since UC Berkeley campus cops evicted Occupy the Farm from their three-week takeover [previously] of the university-owned Gill Tract in nearby Albany when protesters returned to their occupation today.

From vlogger Em Raguso:

Judith Scherr reports for the Oakland Tribune:

Chanting “Whose farm? Our farm!” some 150 people marched from Albany City Hall to a weed-strewn plot of University of California-owned land where they yanked out 3-foot-tall weeds and planted squash and tomato seedlings.

>snip<

Protesters want the Gill Tract to become an urban farm, while the university said it uses the land for agricultural research. A development is planned for an area adjacent to the land which has not been agriculturally zoned in decades, university officials have said.

As protesters entered the area Saturday, bringing with them two chickens, three goats and a rabbit, police informed them via bullhorn that they were trespassing and subject to arrest. As of late Saturday afternoon, no arrests had been made.

Read the rest.

And from the Occupy the Farm website, a report on today’s action:

Three days after UC Berkeley’s new development proposal on the Gill Tract was voted down at the City of Albany’s Planning and Zoning Commission meeting on May 8th, the organizing group Occupy the Farm has again taken a stand for public education and urban agriculture, setting down roots on the hotly contested land.

“People have been fighting to preserve this land for farming for decades, because they recognize that because this is UC land, all residents of the East Bay have a stake and a say in what happens to this public resource,” said Lesley Haddock, a third year student in UC Berkeley’s College of Natural Resources. “After fifteen years of trying to work through UC’s undemocratic process, public protest is our last option.”

Since 1997, coalitions of local residents, non-profits, and UC students and faculty have brought forth proposals to the UC administration for the creation of a sustainable urban agriculture curriculum on the entire Gill Tract. Administrators consistently rejected these proposals, and have been accused of not giving the proposals due consideration.

“Today we’re planting on the site of the proposed commercial development because we want to remind people what they will lose if a chain store and parking lot get built here,” stated Ashoka Finley, urban farmer and UC alum. “The UC, Albany even, could be on the cutting edge of participatory, community-based urban ag research, and they’re just throwing that opportunity away.”

Building on Occupy the Farm’s action in April-May 2012, today’s protest was focused on community education around food production . Farmers and activists were seen planting vegetables together, watering crops and passing out free plant starts to passers-by. There was a range of educational activities, including a seed-ball making workshop organized by a seven year-old. The young girl stated, “I just wanted to do it at a time when I knew a lot of kids would show up.”

As one of the last large plots of fertile agricultural soil left in the East Bay, the Gill Tract holds great potential for shifting our communities towards self-sufficiency through large-scale urban agriculture education. Occupy the Farm will be working all weekend to turn the south plot of the Gill Tract from an empty lot into an urban farm and community asset.

For more visuals and interviews, see this brief clip from ABC News 7 in San Francisco.

And here’s a report from the Daily Californian on the 14 May 2012 police raid ending the last occupation: