The Alchemical Nursery's Frank Cetera presented at the 2013 NY State Green Building Conference. The presentation shared the basics of Permaculture Forest Gardening, and used the case study of the Rahma Clinic's Edible Forest Snack Garden here in Syracuse to illustrate. The slideshow used by Frank is presented at the following link. Contact us, or Frank, if you'd like a presentation on Permaculture and Forest Gardening for your group or conference.
Rahma Forest Garden Zine now Published!
It's finally ready for distro - The DIY User's Guide Zine for the Rahma Edible Forest Snack Garden. We passed them out to all the households neighboring the Rahma site on Saturday April 13th on a door-to-door distro walk for FREE toa ll neighborhood residents. We're accepting sliding scale donations between $2-$5 for copies for everyone else. This will allow us to cover our costs and continue to make further copies in the future :>) To view the online version of the zine please visit
North Korea: The US has performed joint military exercises with S. Korea using nuclear-capable bombers and 10,000 US troops. The UN increased sanctions against N. Korea in response to their satellite launch and nuclear test on February 12. The US has increased its military presence in the region, including installing missile batteries in Guam effective against China and Russia. The US invaded N. Korea in 1950 resulting in over three million deaths. Since 1950 the US and has imposed sever sanctions against N. Korea leading to millions of deaths due to starvation, crumbling sanitation infrastructure, and lack of medical supplies.
Afghanistan: On March 11 Hamid Karsai, the president of Afghanistan, stated that the US is secretly negotiating with the Taliban and that a recent terror attack was “in the service of foreigners not withdrawing from Afghanistan.” The CIA, Saudi Arabia and Pakistani intelligence created the Taliban in the 1970s and financed them to fight against Afghan and Soviet forces until the Taliban took power in 1996. US aid to the Taliban continued until 2001.
There are over 100,000 NATO troops in Afghanistan, of which 68,000 are from the US. The US plans to continue military operations there for at least a decade after the 2014 “withdraw” date, and will need to spend $13-55 billion/year to maintain the current government. The war has cost the US over $630 billion to date, and total costs including medical care and disability for veterans will exceede $2 trillion. 3,281 NATO soldiers have been killed, and 17,674 US troops have been wounded since the beginning of the war in 2001. At least 20,000 Afghan civilians have been killed and many more injured since 2001.
In addition to it’s military bases in Afghanistan (near Russian, China, and Iran), the US has economic interests in Afghanistan. Afghanistan provides over 82% of the world’s opium, representing a multi-billion dollar industry. Afghan Minister of Counter Narcotics General Khodaidad has accused NATO forces of taxing opium production, and profiting from the drug trade. US financial companies make massive profits laundering hundreds of billions of dollars of drug money, and the opium trade funds the Taliban and international terrorists.
Central African Republic (CAR): on March 24 rebel forces deposed the government in a military coup, ending a conflict that has displaced 207,000 people since December 2012. 600 French and 100 US troops oversaw the transition without interfering. France has plans to begin mining uranium. The rebel’s new government called on the EU for aid, and seeks to revise the CAR’s contracts with China.
 “The Globalization of NATO” by Mahdi Nazemroaya pg. 125
 http://www.isaf.nato.int/images/stories/File/Placemats/ISAF-ANA Troops Placemat-Feb19 2013.pdf
 http://www.unodc.org/documents/data-and-analysis/WDR2012/WDR_2012_web_small.pdf (page 36)
From Ms. Ward's classroom at Delaware School, student Carrie has suggested a link to us for the Alchemical Nursery website as part of a link exchange with their "Our Environment" website.
We hope the community will find this link useful in regard to reuse of materials and kids crafts activities. Move Boxes: Fun Crafts for Kids:
Cardboard is a big source of waste in areas all over the world, making it very important to recycle and reuse it when possible. Kids can begin to learn how to recycle at an early age by using recyclable materials, such as cardboard, in many craft projects. Art projects can be expensive, but using materials you already have means you are recycling and saving money. Kids, parents, and teachers can use materials found in their homes and schools in their art projects, such as paper towel tubes, bottle caps, and shoestrings. Green art supplies are also a good choice as they are non-toxic and environmentally-friendly. Use the following sources to find many fun crafts using cardboard and other recycled materials.
Visit the site to find a large selection of additional links for crafting ideas using cardboard boxes! - http://www.upack.com/moving-services/articles/moving-boxes-fun-crafts-for-kids/
We've also included the link with credit to Carrie in our links section at: http://www.alchemicalnursery.org/component/weblinks/31.html
Thanks Carrie and Ms. Ward!
I personally learned a great deal during this course and it made me excited to learn more so that I can implement permaculture into my everyday existence. I would like to send a huge thank you out to all the instructors at this year's CTED for all of your time, effort, energy, and love of what permaculture brings to your own lives. Thank you to all of the students who participated and I learned from all of you during my time in the course. I look forward to assisting with future courses and share what I have learned with the next group of students.
Check out Bill Moyers latest installment with NY activist Sandra Steingraber who is in jail now for protesting about fracking on private property. I enjoyed it and there is a little at the end about the decline of bee populations around the world.
Make this Earth day great by taking action.
Excellent film that explores what may be missing as a child grows up without exposure to the natural world. It was amazing to see how addicted these young people are addicted to technology, how it impacts their lives, and the great deficit caused by them not spending time in nature on a regular basis. ArtRage Gallery is having an encore showing of the film on April 25th at 7 PM. Please spread the word to everyone, we had a great turn out for last Tuesdays showing with over 30 people there and I got to introduce Alchemical Nursery to the group. Hope that some of you can be there to promote what we are up to.
Haitian's have taken to the street to protest the UN presence in their country, a police station was burned and tear gas was used to disperse the crowd. The UN mission in Haiti brought cholera to Haiti over two years ago, so far causing more than 8,000 deaths and 600,000 illnesses. The UN has refused to allocate the funds necessary to end the epidemic, despite the nearly 677 million spend on maintaining the nearly 10,000 strong UN military occupation of the country. Haiti has been under UN control since the 2004 US coup ousted their democratically elected government and installed a regime marred by electoral fraud and opposition exclusion, executive overreach, and paramilitarism. The current government is powerless to stop the exploitation of Haiti’s mineral resources by international mining companies who were recently granted 1/6th of the total land in Haiti and pay only 2.5% royalties. International sweatshops have also setup in Haiti’s “free trade zones” where they are exempt from taxes, duties, and can pay workers 4.50$/day and receive subsidies. One such complex, the Caracol Industrial Park forcefully displaced 366 farming families in 2011 from 250 hectares who had produced 1,400 metric tons of food/year.
Syria: The US has facilitated and air drop of 3,000 tons of weaponry for the Free Syrian Army (FSA), and are training FSA fighters in Jordan. The US has pledged an additional 60 million to purchase armored vehicles and other equipment for the FSA. Israel, recipient of nearly 4 billion in US military aid/year, has been treating wounded FSA fighters. Israel has permitted a US energy company to extract oil from the Golan Heights, Syrian land occupied since 1967 that provides 1/3 of Israel’s water. The FSA have clashed with Hezbollah in Lebanon vowing to eliminate the military/political organization in Lebanon.
Libya: ongoing inter militia fighting has recently displaced more than 3,000 and disrupted oil exports. Armed resistance to the NATO installed government was finally quelled in the brutal siege of Bani Walid in October 2012, but the country is now under the control of militias and protest continues in the face of repression. The south has been declared a closed zone of military operations under the control of a military governor. Libyans now face a myriad of difficulties including: restriction of free speech; drug, arms, and human trafficking; a soaring murder rate; persecution of Christians and Sufi’s; and the repression of women. The US has deployed marines to combat terrorism, but the groups that they are allegedly combating control large areas, such as Ansar al-Sharia the group accused of leading the assault on the embassy in Benghazi that killed US ambassador Stephens.
The Democratic Movement vs. The Foreign Invasion
Bashar al-Assad has recently been demonized by the mainstream and so-called alternative media who claim that he is a brutal dictator. Actually Bashar is a reformer who has done much to further the causes of democracy and freedom. It is the opposition and their foreign supporters who represent the most repressive elements of the former ruling party in Syria. To fully understand this its is helpful to look at the historical context of the current crisis. The so-called “spontaneous popular uprising” started in Daraa on March 15th, 2011. The court house, police stations, governor's house, and other public buildings were looted and torched by the “peaceful protestors” in the first week of the crisis. The people in Homs then began to protest in solidarity with Daraa, but this was uncharacteristic of peaceful Homs and many Syrians knew that it was a fake revolution.
About 110 unarmed police officers were murdered in Daraa and Homs, sparking anger against the “revolutionaries.” There was an incident in the city Baniyas where an Alawite truck driver was attacked by an armed mob, skinned, and paraded through the city. This disgusted almost all Syrians and since then not a single major city actually rebelled against the government. The foreign backed “revolutionaries” would attack a neighborhood, police station, or army base, from across the borders of Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey, and Iraq. Then they would claim that the city was in rebellion.
But the Syrians, seeing the same lies in all the western and Arab news stations, and the exiled rotten officials adopting the 'revolution', mostly took an anti-revolution stance. That is why whenever the rebels would infest a town or city you would immediately hear of a massacre to punish the residents for not supporting them. Of course the mainstream media would claim that it was Assad forces punishing the town that dared to oppose him!
Assad took advantage of the revolution to introduce his packages of reforms, putting aside those in the old guards who opposed them. Many of the old guard then joined the opposition abroad.
The opposition demanded the removal of article 8 from the Syrian constitution making the Baath Party head of the government. Instead of just deleting it Bashar Assad had the constitution re-written buy a specialized committee of Syrian experts from all parties in Syria and with input from all Syrians. A referendum was held and the new constitution was approved with almost 90% of a voter turnout of 60%. Assad then enacted a Media Law that would allow more freedom of expression and the establishment of new independent media outlets. Assad eased requirements on the formation of political parties, excluding sectarian based parties. We now have at least nine new political parties.
Municipal elections were held in December 2011. Many of those who won seats were assassinated or threatened throughout the country by the same revolutionaries who claimed to want democracy. Parliamentary elections were held in May 2012 with no eligibility restraints on the candidates. Many new members of parliament have also been assassinated by the FSA including the wife and three daughters of parliament elect trustee Abdulla Mishleb in the infamous Houla massacre. Historical Context: Syria in the 1980s
Recent events can be better understood in the context of Syrian history. Bashar al-Assad is the son of late president Hafez al-Assad. Hafez was described by western mainstream media as a tyrant and oppressor but he was not nearly as bad as any other leader in his time like Thatcher, Reagan, or any of the region's rulers including Turkey's military rule.
The current anti-Assad opposition often refer to the 1982 Hama 'massacre'. They claim that Hafez besieged the city and then bombed it killing up to 40,000 civilians. I lived in Damascus at that time and you must understand the conditions in the country at the time to know what really happened. 1) The Muslim Brotherhood was engaged in a war of terror at that time, nothing less than what the Free Syrian Army (FSA) is doing now. The Muslim Brotherhood's forces were called the 'Fighting Vanguard' (Arabic “Al Taleea Al Muqatleh”). Many of the present leaders of the FSA are the same men who led the Fighting Vanguard in the 80s; and they were as savage as their sons now. One of the Fighting Vanguard's bombings included the Azbakiyeh Bombing in Damascus which took the lives of over 175 civilians and injured hundreds more, and there were many other terror attacks.
2) The entire Hama episode was led by Hafez al-Assad's younger brother (Bashar al-Assad's uncle) Rifaat Assad. Rifaat was heading the Saraya Difaa (later to become the Republican Guard). At that time the Syrian minister of defense was Mustapha Tlass, and the Syrian minister of foreign affairs was Abdul Halim Khaddam. All three of them: Riffaat al-Assad, Mustapha, and Abdul Khaddam are leading and financing the political opposition against Bashar from abroad right now.
In the current conflict Mustapha's son Manaf Tlass was sent to negotiate a settlement with his cousins who were rebelling in Rastan. But instead of negotiating he gave them weapons from the Republican Guards caches and leaked secrets causing the deaths of many Republican Guard soldiers at the hands of the FSA.
Thirty years after the fighting in Hama a report by US intelligence was declassified revealing that the death toll didn't even reach 2,000. That number included 400 Muslim Brotherhood Fighting Vanguard militants; many Syrian Army soldiers and officers; Baath Party and other state officials; and a number of civilians who were caught in the fire.
3) At the same time the Syrian Army was fighting the Israeli, US and French Armies in Lebanon.
4) Syria was under harder sanctions than it is now. Syria has been under increasingly severe western sanctions since 1956, 15 years before Hafez Assad took power.
Bashar al-Assad's Damascus Spring: Syria in the 2000s
Late Hafez Assad followed a more complex policy regarding foes and foreign agents in his government than Bashar does. Hafez would keep his foes in their posts but under his watchful eyes. When Bashar was selected by the Syrian Parliament to succeed his father in 2000 he removed all of the treasonous foes and foreign agents that Hafez had maintained in office.
Bashar's first reform was to ease some political restrictions, allowing politicians to move more freely. In June 2000 the Damascus Spring was started. It lasted until Autumn 2001 by which time most of the treasonous opposition's foreign funding, and relations with the US Department of State and corporate think tanks had been exposed. The corrupt officials and their families were expelled from Syria and settled in foreign countries. They used their massive accumulations of wealth to mount political opposition to Bashar from abroad.
In 2003 the US was occupying Iraq. US Secretary of State Collin Powell visited Bashar and handed him a list of demands including: 1. Cutting all ties with the five main Palestinian factions in Syria, 2. Severing Syria's relations with Iran in exchange for a promise of better relations with some Arab states. 3. Signing a peace treaty with Israel similar to one Syria had already refused. 4. Removing books from schools with any enmity towards Israel. 5. Allowing western banks and companies unhindered access to Syrian markets and resources along with other neo-liberal reforms.
Bashar refused these demands in the face of the nearly 200,000 coalition troops across the Syrian border in Iraq. Instead Bashar sought to hinder the occupation of Iraq and demanded that the occupying forces withdraw. Because of the proximity of Damascus to the western boarder with Lebanon Syria has the strategic need to secure this border. None the less in 2000 Bashar started withdrawing Syrian troops from Lebanon where they had battled Israeli forces. The troops were reduced from 35,000 in the year 2000 to 14,000 in early 2004.
In 2005 Lebanese Prime Minster Rafic Hariri was assassinated with the help of members of the Lebanese Future Movement party and likely the help of the US and France. This was a political blow to Assad within Lebanon, and he was also blamed for the assassination using media manipulation and prepared activists. Tens of thousands of Lebanese took to the streets to condemn the killing of Hariri including members of Syria's closest allies Hizbullah and Amal. The media claimed that the crowds were against the Syrian Army presence in Lebanon. US and France tried to pressure Assad into reinforcing the Syrian Army in Lebanon to stabilize the country but Bashar withdrew all Syrian troops from Lebanon. This background gives the context accompanying president Assad's reform attempts in Syria, where he had to face foreign powers from abroad and their agents from within. The current crisis is not a civil war or rebellion, but a foreign aggression against a sovereign nation.
About the author:
The author was born and lived in Damascus, Syria. He moved to Germany ten years ago and runs a company that organizes tourist groups to Syria. Before the conflict he went to Syria often to stay for days and months. He has been an outspoken defender of the Syrian government and has been targeted by the Free Syrian Army who destroyed his property and threatened his life, and so writes under the name Arabi Souri. This article was edited by Seth Rutledge.
The other day I was reading yahoo news. Yeah, I know it's thick with the type of information that people whose interests in maintaining control want average people to frame their arguments with. That's actually why I read it. I came across this article which touched on how billionaire tyrants in California want to take away state-constitutionally guaranteed rights to access coastal beaches.
They do this by purchasing land around the public right of way, building gates, building over the access path, posting guards etc. The star of the article was Vinod Khosla, co-founder of Sun Microsystems. Despite participating in the soul cleansing "Giving Pledge " organized by fellow billionaire Warren Buffet, Khosla is still determined to assert property rights that aren't his.
That wasn't what caught my eye though. The next to last paragraph included a quote he made in reference to his "green" energy venture capital business:
" he said clean technology has been hurt by environmentalists more than any other group, because environmentalists back idealized solutions that 'don't make any economic sense.' "
I thought to myself, here is this powerful man who lacks the audacity to acknowledge a very basic, very obvious fact about reality. It's not the environment which must make sense to the economy. It is the economy as a measurement of human activity, not as a thing in and of itself that must come to terms with the environmental situation within which it exists. This article reinforces my perception that the forces guiding the economic system would make us pay for the air we breathe if given the chance. It reveals the deep seated sense of separation which underpins the mentality executing our economy that manifests as a ubiquitous objectification.
The commons remain only as a repository for waste. Over the horizon somewhere from Mr. Khosla's mansion and beach is the pacific garbage patch, further beyond lies the poisoned fountain of Fukushima. Where the true twist in logic occurs is when these otherwise ordinary people expect the consequences of the ecosystems disrupted or destroyed in production of the goods that become their personal fortunes and the toxic detritus casts off as byproducts of consumption both become additions to the collective bill passed on to future generations. The only concern that matters is the continuity of a gluttonous appetite that seeks to consume everything as a measurement of well being. Maybe the perpetually impoverished egos at the helm can't rest until we make this the biggest extinction event of all time.
The economy will remain a cruel and destructive force stealing from all future generations to come in the name of self aggrandizing venality until it apprehends this basic inescapable logic.
Khosala may feel some lingering or subconscious obligation to the system he now finds himself perched atop. From the common person's position he appears to be one of many who have surrendered their ability to discern the honest and ethical context within which the world continually unfolds, in return for a fantasy world of personal omnipotence. That he seeks to give away some wealth or to focus on green solutions to keep the precarious disaster machine running longer don't hold up to scrutiny as being anything more than a half thought out impulse.
Looking to political leaders, billionaires or even institutions which are usually inextricably inter wound with the other two groups seems to yield crumbs at best, and Pyrrhic victories at worst. As human contributions to climate change lurch ever forward from crisis to deeper crisis, I would be interested in hearing what people think maintains this arrangement which seems to benefit ever fewer of us under increasingly arduous circumstances.
I tend to believe solutions will be found in small and simple things, even as the problems seem so large and impersonal. I also wonder what do others think about solutions? What do they look like? What don't they look like? How do we unwind this mess? Why haven't existing ideas made stronger inroads as viable alternatives thus far?