Sunday, April 13, 2008
A participatory economy is comprised of social rather than private or state ownership; nested worker and consumer council's and balanced job complexes rather than corporate hierarchy; remuneration for effort and sacrifice rather than for property, power, or output; participatory planning rather than markets or central planning; and self-management rather than class rule.
The balanced job complex is a redefinition of our concept of work. Basically, jobs are organized so that everyone has an equal set of both empowering and un-empowering tasks. Jobs are balanced within each work place and across work places. Balancing jobs within work places is done to prevent the organization and assignment of tasks from preparing some workers better than others to participate in decision-making at the workplace, or what would be the result of our standard work place corporate division of labor. Balancing work across work places is equally necessary so that disempowering and menial work places are not ruled by empowering ones. The outcome of the participatory balanced job complex is that everyone has an equal share of both desirable and undesirable tasks, with comparable empowerment and quality of life circumstances for all.
Another key element is remunerative justice, or pay for effort and sacrifice. This method of pay insures that unequal outcomes are not produced and reproduced, due to ownership of the means of production, bargaining power, output, genetic endowment, talent, skill, better tools, more productive coworkers, environment, inheritance, or luck. Of all these factors people control only their effort. So, effort and sacrifice is the remunerative norm in parecon, tempered by need as appropriate in cases of illness, catastrophe, incapacity, etc.
Participants are organized into federations of workers and consumers councils who negotiate allocation through "decentralized participatory planning". Workers in worker councils propose what they want to produce, how much they want to produce, the inputs needed and the human effects of their production choices. Consumers propose what they want to consume, how much they want to consume and the human effects of their consumption choices. "Iteration Facilitation Boards" (IFB) generate "indicative prices", using both quantitative and qualitative information, which is used by workers and consumers to update their proposals for further rounds of iterations. The IFB whittles proposals down to a workable plan within five to seven iterative rounds. A plan is chosen and implemented for the coming year.
A participatory plan is a feasible and desirable choice distributing the burdens and benefits of social labor fairly. It involves participants' decision making inputs in proportion to the degree they are affected. Human and natural resources are used efficiently providing a variety of outcomes.
This is only a thumbnail sketch of a participatory economy. Further in depth reading and introductory material can be found at:
Life After Capitalism:
Looking Forward: Participatory Economics for the 21st Century: http://www.parecon.org/lookingforward/toc.htm
The Political Economy of Participatory Economics: http://www.zmag.org/books/polpar.htm
Every region's economy should be organized into three types of enterprises: cooperatives, key industries, and small private enterprises. Cooperatives would form the core of the economy. Except for a few large-scale, key industries and small private enterprises producing nonessentials, all production is to be organized under worker-owned and controlled enterprises. Cooperatives increase worker motivation and job satisfaction because they give workers control of the business as well as a stake in its profits. When cooperatives have access to the requisite inputs of production—capital, entrepreneurship, skilled labor, and competent management—they invariably out-perform private, free-market enterprises. Cooperatives are controlled by their worker members on the basis of one member, one vote. All members must purchase a membership share in the cooperative. This initial capital contribution gives each worker member a financial stake in the business. Thus workers' ownership rights are based on their functional role as workers, and not on the basis of their capital contribution.
Very complex, capital-intensive industries, such as utilities or industries producing raw materials or goods which are strategic to the regional economy, should be designated as key industries. As they play a crucial role in stimulating production and development for the region, they must come under community control, not worker control. Key industries should be controlled either by the local or regional government, or by an autonomous board. That board or local government operations would hire a plant management team. Participatory team management techniques should be used to insure maximum worker involvement. An effective incentive system should be used to motivate productivity. Key industries should operate on a no profit, no loss basis. The state should not subsidize their operation, nor should the industry reap profits.
Small businesses—those having a maximum of about 5-8 employees—can be privately owned. Private enterprises should not be involved with producing or distributing staple commodities. Salaries of workers and income of owners should be subject to minimum and maximum standards established for the region. (In fact, today in Germany the people are on the streets demanding a minimum wage as well as a maximum wage for all workers!)
Economic planning should take place at the central, regional, and district levels. But, for the most part, planning authority should reside at the local level. The most basic unit of planning is the district. District boundaries should not be determined on the basis of political considerations, but on the basis of geographic factors, socio-economic requirements, common economic problems, and common aspirations of the people.
The key word in the deliberations was the emphasis on a "regenerative" economy, as opposed to a "degenerative" one based on fossil fuels and outmoded notions of industrialisation. In Datye's view, the 73rd constitutional amendment is a vital step forward. He bases his alternative development paradigm on the gram sabha, the smallest unit of self-governance in the village. If one unit in a village consisted of 100 households, the first task was to demarcate its boundaries, including common lands, and to evaluate its resource base. The objective is to establish what entitlement such a unit has to that most previous resource -- water.
The village as a whole, typically, may consist of 400 households. The area suitable for producing crops and biomass (organic matter) may be 800 hectares, while the village would have a watershed extending over 1,000 hectares. After meeting these vital needs, there would be sufficient land available for irrigated commercial crops, dryland cultivation, pastures, grass, shrubs and trees. The average availability of water would be estimated by adding up the surface water, groundwater as delayed run-off and groundwater storage. Half this water, in a regenerative economic model, would be allocated to a 100-household gram sabha for priority use.
But, as has been pointed out time and again in any discussion on rural society, it is far from being homogeneous. Caste and class intervene at every stage to make any equitable distribution of natural resources that much more complicated. This is why Datye and his acolytes refer to the "resource poor" among villagers who, again typically, may comprise 20-40 households out of the 100 in a gram sabha. These are jobless artisans, nomadic and denotified tribes, destitute women and project-affected people awaiting resettlement. They are also entitled, as a priority, to water for domestic use and their cattle.
Proponents of this approach recognise the need to boost land productivity without resorting to capital- and resource-intensive inputs. They believe that this can be achieved by boosting the production of biomass, celebrated in Datye's book Banking on Biomass. This is radically different from the environmentally destructive production of ethanol and biofuels throughout the world, almost all of which either divert land from food crops or are dependent on expensive inputs.
A fifth of the area available for a 100-household unit could be used to grow wood, bamboo and fibre. Around 15% could be devoted to what is known in foresters' jargon as "non-timber forestry". Foodgrain would comprise a fifth, as would sweet sorghum, pulses and fodder 10%, and 4% devoted to organic vegetables. Nitrogen-fixing varieties could be grown on another 10%. The output would be over 1,100 tonnes of biomass a year. Such a gram sabha would be entitled to preferential employment assistance under the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act, which entitles a person to 100 days of paid work in a year.
K J Joy, who with Suhas Paranjpye is a close associate of Datye's, breaks down these figures and arrives at a scenario where a poor family of five would produce 18 tonnes of biomass a year. In addition, it would produce 3 tonnes of surplus biomass "for value-addition -- the basis for a transition to a dispersed industrial system". This surplus consists of fruits, vegetables and other high-value agricultural produce, which is perishable. Instead, other produce like bamboo, fibres, oils or medicinal plants are a valuable alternative. Such an option, it should be noted, is in direct contrast to Special Economic Zones (SEZs), which represent a highly concentrated, egalitarian form of virtual forced industrialisation.
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Le produit employé pour se débarrasser des champignons, l'isothiazolinone, a été utilisé notamment dans les temples d'Angkor au Cambodge et dans une église de Rome, autres sites inscrits au patrimoine mondial de l'Unesco, mais était utilisé pour la première fois en milieu souterrain.
Le comité scientifique de la grotte va par ailleurs "poursuivre son travail de réflexion avant de prendre des décisions concernant l'éventualité d'une remise en cause de l'assistance climatique", qui régule l'air dans la grotte, a ajouté M. Clément.
Les responsables présents ont également réaffirmé leur volonté de "sanctuariser" la colline de Lascaux "afin d'éviter à terme toute perturbation pouvant nuire à l'équilibre environnemental de la cavité".
"If every eye is going to see Me, and all the tribes of earth are going to wail on account of Me, I think I owe it to them and to Myself to be in the best shape of My life," Christ said. "Right now I'm up to 35 minutes at seven [miles per hour] on the treadmill and benching about 165 [pounds]."
"I'm really starting to feel like I'll have the strength and endurance to move every mountain and island from its place," Christ added.
Since His birthday last Dec. 25, Christ has committed Himself to a demanding daily regimen of exercise and prophecy fulfillment. Each of His workouts, Christ said, starts with an hour of cardio, after which He focuses on two muscle groups, replacing conventional free weights with the Rod of Iron with which He intends to rule all nations.
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The suggestion comes amid the continued chaos surrounding the Beijing 2008 Olympic torch relay.
Mr Evans said: "The current system will always bring problems relating to the regime of the host country."
Culture Minister Michalis Liapis said finishing the glass and concrete building was a "national challenge" and would boost Greece's campaign to wrest the 5th century B.C. sculptures from the British Museum.
"This modern, functional and safe museum will be a strong argument against those who oppose the Marbles' return," he said. The Elgin Marbles - or Parthenon Sculptures - were removed from the Parthenon temple by Scottish diplomat Lord Elgin in the 19th century, when Greece was still an unwilling part of the Ottoman Empire. The London museum has repeatedly rejected Greek calls for their return.
"The Trustees have for years been looking to see if there is any reasonable ground on which a way forward with Greek colleagues might be constructed. To date, this has sadly not proved possible. Among many problems has been that successive Greek government have publicly disputed the Trustees' unquestionable legal ownership of the sculptures. This has made any meaningful discussions virtually impossible."
What the British Museum is saying is that since successive Greek governments have disputed the Museum's "unquestionable legal ownership of the sculptures", there can be no meaningful discussions. This is the reassertion of imperialist arrogance and feelings of superiority and total disregard of the opinion of the United Nations, UNESCO and the rest of the international community. If Greece could acknowledge British ownership of the marbles, then what has been the point of the dispute for all these decades? Who decided that the Trustees of the British Museum have "unquestionable legal ownership of the sculptures"? The Trustees of the museum have declared themselves as having "unquestionable legal ownership"! One of the first things one learns in Law Schools and which can also be absorbed by assiduous television watchers is that you cannot be a judge in your own case. So how can the Trustees of the British Museum, sitting in Bloomsbury, not far from the Law Faculties of the University of London and not very far from the Strand where the Law Courts and many law offices are, decide the issue in their dispute with the Greek government? Did they seek legal advice? Presumably not, for most unbiased lawyers would have told them that given the circumstances of the acquisition of the Parthenon/Elgin Marbles and the absence of any reliable written evidence, there is no certainty about the issue of the dispute. The British Museum has never accepted to have the issue of ownership decided by a court or panel of arbitrators or independent panel of experts.
An Italian woman artist who was hitch-hiking to the Middle East dressed as a bride to promote world peace has been found murdered in Turkey.
The naked body of Giuseppina Pasqualino di Marineo, 33, known as Pippa Bacca, was found in bushes near the northern city of Gebze on Friday.
She had said she wanted to show that she could put her trust in the kindness of local people.
Turkish police say they have detained a man in connection with the killing.
Reports say the man led the police to the body.
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Esther Sparks of New Orleans wrote this song "Peace." It's on her album "Esther and the Protesters."
Blueberries are a major source of flavonoids, in particular anthocyanins and flavanols. Although the precise mechanisms by which these plant-derived molecules affect the brain are unknown, they have been shown to cross the blood brain barrier after dietary intake. It is believed that they exert their effects on learning and memory by enhancing existing neuronal (brain cell) connections, improving cellular communications and stimulating neuronal regeneration.
The enhancement of both short-term and long-term memory is controlled at the molecular level in neurons. The research team was able to show that the ability of flavonoids to induce memory improvements are mediated by the activation of signalling proteins via a specific pathway in the hippocampus, the part of the brain that controls learning and memory.
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In a stunning admission to ABC news Friday night, President Bush declared that he knew his top national security advisers discussed and approved specific details of the CIA’s use of torture. Bush reportedly told ABC, “I’m aware our national security team met on this issue. And I approved.” Bush also defended the use of waterboarding.
Recent reports indicate that high-level advisers including Dick Cheney, Condoleeza Rice, Donald Rumsfeld, Colin Powell and George Tenet were part of the National Security Council’s “Principals Committee” that met regularly and approved the CIA’s use of “combined” “enhanced” interrogation techniques, even pushing the limits of the now infamous 2002 Justice Department “torture memo.” These top advisers reportedly signed off on how the CIA would interrogate suspects – whether they would be slapped, deprived of sleep or subjected to simulated drowning.
“We have always known that the CIA’s use of torture was approved from the very top levels of the U.S. government, yet the latest revelations about knowledge from the president himself and authorization from his top advisers only confirms our worst fears,” said Anthony D. Romero, Executive Director of the ACLU. “It is a very sad day when the president of the United States subverts the Constitution, the rule of law, and American values of justice.”
Romero added, “It is more important than ever that the U.S. government, when seeking justice against those it suspects of harming us, adhere to our commitment to due process and the rule of law. That’s why the ACLU has taken the extraordinary step to offer our assistance to those being prosecuted under the unconstitutional military commissions process. We unfortunately can’t erase or make up for what has already happened, but at least we can attempt to restore some of the values and some semblance of due process that the Bush administration has squandered in the name of national security.”
The American Civil Liberties Union is calling on Congress to demand an independent prosecutor to investigate possible violations by the Bush administration of laws including the War Crimes Act, the federal Anti-Torture Act, and federal assault laws.
“No one in the executive branch of government can be trusted to fairly investigate or prosecute any crimes since the head of every relevant department, along with the president and vice president, either knew or participated in the planning and approval of illegal acts,” said Caroline Fredrickson, Director of the ACLU Washington Legislative Office. “Congress cannot look the other way; it must demand an independent investigation and independent prosecutor.”
Fredrickson added, "Congress is duty-bound by the Constitution not only to hold the president, vice president, and all civil officers to account, but it must also send a message to future presidents that it will use its constitutional powers to prevent illegal, and immoral conduct."
The ACLU’s letter calling for an independent prosecutor for torture crimes and any criminal cover up is available at:
ABC’s recent news story is available online at:
Information on the ACLU’s Freedom of Information Act lawsuit revealing information on the U.S.’s treatment of detainees is available online at:
From a ACLU Release dated 8 April, 2008 :
The American Civil Liberties Union called on Department of Justice Inspector General Glenn Fine to begin an internal investigation into the Federal Bureau of Investigation's (FBI) use of National Security Letters (NSLs), and whether they were used to funnel Americans' private information to the Department of Defense (DOD). The NSL statute is a tool used by law enforcement to compel the release of information, such as communications or business records, without a court order. The revelation that the military is getting the FBI to issue NSLs in strictly DOD investigations was disclosed in documents obtained by the ACLU through a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit. The ACLU sent a letter to Fine yesterday asking him to investigate whether the FBI has aided the DOD in circumventing the law.
"If the DOD has, in fact, used the FBI to sidestep the law and gain access to Americans' private information that they are not entitled to, there should be swift and severe consequences," said Anthony D. Romero, executive director of the ACLU. "The military has no business conducting domestic investigations. A tool as invasive and susceptible to abuse as the NSL authority should have as many safeguards as possible. Given the last two reports by Mr. Fine's office regarding the FBI's abuse of NSLs, it's clear that both agencies are either unwilling or unable to police themselves when it comes to this intrusive power."
The ACLU's letter to Fine points out that Congress deliberately gave the DOD limited NSL authority. This authority does not include issuing forms of NSLs that permit access to phone and email communication records. This authority may only be used by the FBI, and must be in relation to an authorized investigation. The ACLU noted that the DOD's use of the FBI suggests the department was attempting to subvert the law and get information beyond its reach.
Congressman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) and Senator Russell Feingold (D-WI) have each introduced bills in the House and Senate, respectively, aimed at narrowing the scope of the NSL authority. Both bills are entitled the "National Security Letter Reform Act." The ACLU supports these efforts.
"The FBI has routinely abused the NSL statute, making it apparent that the agency cannot be trusted with this authority," said Caroline Fredrickson, director of the ACLU Washington Legislative Office. "Laws have been broken, Americans' civil liberties have been compromised, and yet the FBI is still allowed to demand Americans' personal information without any judicial oversight. It is past time for Congress to rein in these abuses of power."
Also yesterday, the ACLU released an interested persons memo on the latest reports by Inspector General Fine regarding the FBI's ongoing abuse of its NSL and Section 215 authorities. In the memo, the ACLU highlights the FBI's continuing use of gags on NSL recipients and notes, among other significant failings, the FBI has not established minimization procedures to limit the retention of private data as required by statute. The memo also highlights Fine's misgivings about whether new internal controls established by the FBI and Department of Justice after the last NSL report will be successful, given the nature and scope of the problems he continues to uncover.
The ACLU's memo can be read at:
To read the ACLU's letter to DOJ Inspector General Glenn Fine, go to:
To learn more about the ACLU's work on NSLs, go to:
The viruses used in the additive are known as bacteriophages. Bacteriophage means "bacteria eater." A bacteriophage, also called a phage (pronounced fayj), is any virus that infects bacteria.
Consuming food contaminated with the bacterium L. monocytogenes can cause an infectious disease, listeriosis, which is rarely serious in healthy adults and children, but can be severe and even deadly in pregnant women, newborns, older people, and people with weakened immune systems. Pregnant women are about 20 times more likely than other healthy adults to get listeriosis, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Listeriosis can cause miscarriage, stillbirth, premature delivery, or death of a newborn baby.
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The type of phage that was approved is lytic, which means that the phage destroys its host during its life cycle without integrating into the host genome. This type of phage works by attaching itself to a bacterium and injecting its genetic material into the cell. The phage takes over the metabolic machinery of the bacterium, forcing it to produce hundreds of new phages and causing the bacterial cell walls to break open. This process kills the bacterium and releases many new phages, which seek out other bacteria to invade and repeat the cycle.
"The process continues until all host bacteria have been destroyed," says Zajac. "Then the bacteriophages cease replicating. They need a host to multiply and will gradually become inactive when they lose the host."
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Under the Federal Meat Inspection Act and the Poultry Products Inspection Act, both administered by the USDA, the use of the phage preparation must be declared on labeling as an ingredient. Consumers will see "bacteriophage preparation" on the label of meat or poultry products that have been treated with the food additive.
If consumers have any concerns about what they're getting at the deli counter, says Post, "they always have the ability to ask for the label of the product being prepared or sliced to see what it contains."
A Phage First
This approval marks the first time that the FDA has regulated the use of a phage preparation as a food additive. Phages are currently approved in the United States for pesticide applications, such as spraying on crops.
Scientists continue to be interested in other uses for phages, such as to prevent food products from contamination with other types of harmful bacteria and to act as possible treatments for bacterial infections in people.
"All of the Palestinians must be killed; men, women, infants, and even their beasts." This was the religious opinion issued one week ago by Rabbi Yisrael Rosen, director of the Tsomet Institute, a long-established religious institute attended by students and soldiers in the Israeli settlements of the West Bank. In an article published by numerous religious Israeli newspapers two weeks ago and run by the liberal Haaretz on 26 March, Rosen asserted that there is evidence in the Torah to justify this stand. Rosen, an authority able to issue religious opinions for Jews, wrote that Palestinians are like the nation of Amalekites that attacked the Israelite tribes on their way to Jerusalem after they had fled from Egypt under the leadership of Moses. He wrote that the Lord sent down in the Torah a ruling that allowed the Jews to kill the Amalekites, and that this ruling is known in Jewish jurisprudence.
Rosen's article, which created a lot of noise in Israel, included the text of the ruling in the Torah: "Annihilate the Amalekites from the beginning to the end. Kill them and wrest them from their possessions. Show them no mercy. Kill continuously, one after the other. Leave no child, plant, or tree. Kill their beasts, from camels to donkeys." Rosen adds that the Amalekites are not a particular race or religion, but rather all those who hate the Jews for religious or national motives. Rosen goes as far as saying that the "Amalekites will remain as long as there are Jews. In every age Amalekites will surface from other races to attack the Jews, and thus the war against them must be global." He urges application of the "Amalekites ruling" and says that the Jews must undertake to implement it in all eras because it is a "divine commandment".
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