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Archive for November, 2011

“That’s ridiculous,” said Representative Nancy Pelosi (D, CA). “Pizza toppings don’t come in spray cans. You might as well call Cheez Whiz a pizza topping.”

“It’s not?” asked Boehner with a tear in his eye.

From Is Outrage!:  http://isoutrage.wordpress.com/2011/11/23/house-of-representatives-declares-pepper-spray-a-pizza-topping/

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For the last two years the date for Easter fell on the same Sunday for Western Christians and the Orthodox. This year we are back to normal, with widely separated celebrations. If the question of dating Easter is as confusing for you as it has been for me, this little article explains it all, simply:

http://www.cnewa.org/blog.aspx?ID=0&pagetypeID=31&sitecode=HQ&pageno=1

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The Nativity Fast began on November 15th for Byzantine Catholics, but Advent only begins for Latin Catholics this Sunday. Here is the classic Advent hymn:

Icon by Daniel Nichols

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Urban Farming in Youngstown

There has been much talk of late about economic disparity, the huge and growing rift between the affluent few and the rest of us. While this wealth gap has drawn a lot of attention, less is paid to the health gap: obesity, diabetes, heart disease and other diet-related health conditions are far more prevalent among the poor and working classes than among the rich and upper middle classes.

There are many reasons for this, but one that cannot be ignored is the scarcity of affordable wholesome food in many urban areas. And when one considers that organic food is generally about twice the cost of conventional, one wonders if we are heading toward a world of wealthy and healthy people, the ones who can easily afford to pay more for quality food, surrounded by fat unhealthy junk food eaters.

While one may hope that as organic agriculture progresses prices may come down to a competitive level (and watch for agribusiness to escalate its attack if this occurs) another solution is being explored in many cities: why not convert the vacant lots of our devastated industrial towns to farms and garden spaces, so local folks can eat better?

Youngstown, Ohio, is a place that has faced near-apocalyptic blight, as its population dropped from 170,000 to 70,000 in thirty years. But visionaries see the possibilities as vacant houses are demolished and large areas of potential agricultural land are created. Here is one such initiative: http://www.growyoungstown.org/urbanagri.html

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Remember the first Iraq War, in 1991, when hundreds of Iraqi soldiers threw down their weapons and ran for their lives as American soldiers gunned them down from helicopters? I know one of the gunners, and he is haunted by his actions to this day (as anyone would be who is not a sociopath). So this is really common sense, but at least the military is acknowedging the role of guilt in PTSD:

“A leading cause of post-traumatic stress disorder is guilt that troops experience due to moral dilemmas faced in combat, according to preliminary findings of a study of active-duty Marines.

The conflicts that troops feel can range from survivor guilt from living through an attack where other troops died, to witnessing or participating in the unintentional killing of women or children, said researchers involved in the study.

“How do they come to terms with that? They have to forgive themselves for pulling the trigger,” said retired Navy Capt. Bill Nash, a psychiatrist and study co-author.”

From The Navy Times: http://www.navytimes.com/news/2011/11/gannett-marine-guilt-top-cause-PTSD-112511w/

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Hope

For the first time in a long time there is hope on the horizon.

First there was the reaction to the antilabor law in Wisconsin. The law passed, but workers rallied, and some legislators were recalled. And the movement to recall the governor shows signs of success, if the polls can be believed.

Then here in Ohio we saw the overwhelming defeat of similar antilabor legislation.

And then, out of nowhere, the Occupy movement flowered. And unlike the 60s, when blue collar workers beat the young radicals, this time around they are marching with them. And there has been a huge awakening to what has happened in the last thirty years: the erosion of the middle class, the impovershment of workers, the concentration of wealth in the top 1%.

Of course the problem is that so far none of this is reflected in the electoral milieu. President Obama and other Democrats are already trying to co-opt the Occupy movement, just as the Republicans co-opted the Tea Party, but you’d have to be blind to fall for that, aside from the few Democrats who do stand up for the working class. And the Occupy movement, with its emphasis on consensus and deliberate lack of leadership, does not look likely to offer practical means of structural change. But it’s early, and who knows? The time is certainly ripe for a third party.

No one knows where all this is headed, but when was the last time that there was any hope at all for critics of capitalism?

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“Detroit is a U.S. city that has been hit hard by poverty and dilapidation in recent decades.  But its citizens are working on a grassroots strategy to rejuvenate their city with urban farming. Urban farms and gardens are popping up all over the city.”

More: http://www.voanews.com/english/news/usa/Urban-Farming-Grows-in-Detroit-134053423.html

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