Stop Mining Companies from Destroying Valleys & Streams

- for the Grateful Web

The Office of Surface Mining is proposing changes to its stream buffer zone rule, first adopted in 1983, that would make it easier for mining companies to bury natural streams and valleys under piles and ponds of mining waste. The changes would relax environmental standards for the same mountaintop removal mining operations that, even under the stricter existing buffer rule, have flattened over a half-million acres and buried hundreds of miles of streams. The headwater streams threatened by the rule changes provide valuable habitat and feed larger waters that provide drinking water, fishing and other recreational opportunities.


In 2004, when the Office of Surface Mining first proposed relaxing the buffer rule, NRDC urged the agency to abandon its proposal and to focus instead on better enforcement of the existing rule. The agency responded by conducting an environmental review of its proposal, which was released in August. The review confirms that the proposed changes would result in the destruction of hundreds more miles of streams and valleys in Appalachia, a region already hard-hit by mining practices. But despite these conclusions, the agency is pressing ahead with its proposal.


The Office of Surface Mining is accepting public comments on its proposed rule change through Friday, November 23rd.


Click here to voice your concern and take action.

The Dead's 3 From the Vault Coming Soon...

Pre-Order THREE FROM THE VAULT Now- for the Grateful Web

A magnificent gem from the band's historic February '71, Port Chester, run that closes the loop on the seminal From The Vault series - the series that spawned all Grateful Dead vault releases. A glowing tribute to one of the band's most prolific chapters, abundant with classics, lovingly captured in stellar HDCD audio:

2/19/71, Capitol Theatre, Port Chester

Disc One:
Two Ditties
Cumberland Blues
It Hurts Me Too
Playing in the Band
Dark Hollow
Smokestack Lightnin'
China Cat Sunflower
I Know You Rider
Disc Two:
Greatest Story Ever Told
Johnny B. Goode
Bird Song
Easy Wind
Cryptical Envelopment>Drums>The Other One
Wharf Rat
Good Lovin'
Casey Jones

Exclusive Offer 
All customers that order Three From The Vault or the Vault Boxed Set in June will also receive a free copy of Dick's 'Dex , a complete, comprehensive, song and track index of Dick's Picks , Volumes 1-36. Amaze your friends, stump your rivals and spend countless joy filled hours with more than 50 full-color pages of figures, facts and fun.

Be sure to order before July 1 to get your copy!

From Asheville to Africa, Why You Need to Hear Toubab Krewe

Even the most die hard jam band fan will at one point crave something new and unusual, a step away from the traditional structure of lead guitar solos dragging on for minutes.  This doesn't mean that a fan of such musical structure needs to subject themselves to standardized pop music; it simply suggests that the listener might need to search for music made with more unconventional instruments.  The answer you seek lies not in a far away land but with Asheville, North Carolina's own Toubab Krewe.


- for the Grateful Web

I am invisible one minute and then I am not.  Walking down 8th avenue by the translations of him and his universe and me and what could be connected but isn't over the trains underneath, under ground, under streets.  The M34 bus travels west to east; he is standing facing north, looks over the avenue, past me, past buildings and communication lines.  Back at the office, I could chose to reengage, read his mind as I see it, "get in touch" but touching is limbless and I can only imagine what all this could have to do with me or the clock on the corner of my computer screen that lags in the morning and doesn't catch up to universal time until well into the second half of the day.

He is inconceivable.  Gives only sentence as clues, wears the weather, coated with all the others on the street below from where I work, from where he works, where the M34 bus passes every ten minutes, where the subway reemerges from a tunnel and a train leaves Penn Station every hour on the hour and the half hour.

Mail comes in; I feel him looking. I read it, imagine his handwriting, what it would look like if this were written instead of typed. His drawn lines on the screen that once existed in real time below the offices above and the avenue below and the bus that crosses from west to east and back again.


The trains are under ground still, just as they were this morning when I passed over them.  Now I am going home, arrive in Brooklyn to disengage.  I take a shower and all of the other men in my building watch through the uncovered window.  I watch too, recall all the other bodies I have ever had, the lines that have changed.  If sown together I could cover the floor boards, walk the path of patch together skin.


Another disconnect and he emerges as words – a distorted voice on the other end of the telephone while he sits on the express train heading home – all the noise and confusion that forms a conversation – a call that can't go through tunnels and loud passengers.  His reaching goes only as far the reflections of passing telephone lines – gets redirected by shorts in the network and fallen down power lines. "Hello, can you hear me" he'll say and I'll answer "hello, yes I can hear you." And him again "can you…" space.


8am. The subways are moving still, now weighted down by commuters, my bodies pressed hard up against the closing doors.  Back at the office a transactions has been made and he appears in computers memory, a glitch in the space.  He talks about his time, but at that time I am still caught in the body march, still in a tunnel underground walking from the L train to the uptown local train under sixth avenue.  I'm not sure what now he speaks of or how slow the conversion is, where the M34 is in relation to Penn Station.


When I respond it is in a voice that only partially sounds like me, one that appears in perfectly straight lines I could never recreate.  I tell him about the eyes in my shower; all my bodies I have walked around in.  The message is sent and everything disappears, possibly never existed or is still on its way down the street.  Perhaps it was intercepted, smacked up against the M34 – riding across town along with all the other traffic.  Or maybe the clock on my computer has lagged so far behind that the trains are no longer arriving in the station and the subways tracks are empty - people still pile onto the platforms stacked up against each other, breast bones against spines, hair in mouths and heads leaning over the gaping hole of an empty tunnel waiting for the surfacing of shaking lights.


I am only a mock up in these passings, a digital reproduction.  The clock moves again in the corner of the screen and I appear with his reappearance, a fractured me digested and handed back.  He responds as protocol, a chunky voice that gaps and stutters over long sentences and words.  My hands still falling through the keyboard.

Becoming What You Abhor: The Lesson Learned from "The Family"

- for the Grateful Web

Recently, eleven members of a group known as "The Family", who are in fact an extremist faction of both the Earth Liberation Front (ELF) and the Animal Liberation Front (ALF), were indicted on 65 charges, all related to "eco-terrorist" attacks that were carried out over four and a half years and spanned five states.

While it is easy for most of us to empathize with their concern for the environment and animals, and their discouragement and outrage at how little the masses of society care about these concerns, it is harder to understand what they thought they were accomplishing with their violent attacks.  If their goal was to help further world peace on all levels (ecologically, spiritually, physically, etc…), isn't it counterintuitive to destroy, blow up, vandalize or otherwise harm anything?  As the consummately wise Gandhi believed, we cannot achieve peace through violent means.  It may be easy to think that we must shock or jolt people out of their complacency to make any change in the world, but change is usually not something that comes about in one moment of epiphany.  Usually, it is a series of gradual changes that take place over time.  Unfortunately, when someone uses violence, even if it's to highlight an important injustice or wrong that is happening in society, they then relinquish their right to speak for positive change as they've become part of the problem.  Michael Franti, of the group Spearhead, ask the all-important question in one of his songs, "Are we part of the solution, or are we part the pollution?"

However, the tone and words that officials in the U.S. government have used to condemn these acts strike me as the epitome of hypocrisy.  Although the technical definition of terrorism, according to the American Heritage dictionary, is "the unlawful use or threatened use of force or violence by a person or an organized group against people or property with the intention of intimidating or coercing societies or governments, often for ideological or political reasons," I would like to propose a change in that definition.  Even though most can justify war as lawful and necessary, aren't the bombs we're dropping, the guns we're shooting and the sanctions we've imposed intended to intimidate and coerce societies?  And aren't the majority of these people innocent of any wrongdoing, but unfortunately happen to be in the wrong place at the terribly wrong time?

As the Bible so clearly advises us all, don't point out the speck of wood in another's eye when you have a log in your own.  It also warns:  "Judge not, lest you be judged."

Henry J Hansen for the Grateful Web


More From Chris & Aaron

- for the Grateful Web

It's all pretty screwed.  The best thing  - -> large mother fucking meteorite!  Perhaps kilauea crater will slide into the ocean.  That would do it.

Chris, I don't have all the answer, I'm just some techie goof that is as frustrated as you.

I do know that the most powerful think we can with our money is buy locally.

Giving money to the local sandwich shop rather than McDouche, never ever go to walmart, say away from huge hardware stores, home depot, etc.  Be proud of that.  Be proud that you are broke as shit because you didn't save $3 bucks on bulk sausage at super kmart!

YES they are waaaaaaaaaay cheaper, but what is really happening?  

All across the nation, people are losing their downtowns, their central base, or whatever you want to call it.  You know why?  Well, we just keep going into those BIG ASS global marts (Walmart is the best example).

They pay shitty wages to young kids, divorced moms, and illegal immigrants. They aren't socially responsible.  Who told you that?  Yes, they may be more accountable in a lot of ways, but look who is paying off bush so he will reduce their taxes and reduce pollution restrictions, etc.

people come to the store and pay less.  What happens is that that local money instantly LEAVES the local community and wides up at corporate headquarters in little rock, or new york. 

While all the local money is being sucked out of town, it's also snuffing out the local mom and pop stores that cannot compete with the prices.  It's a huge circle of local death.  The core dies and people sprawl outwards, turning more pasture into concrete, disrupting more ecosystems, encouraging more reproduction.

This is leading to local communities losing power, losing control of their own destiny.  This is globalization. 

Eventually, all the power would leave the people and be in the hands of the one global group that owns all the global businesses. 

That goes for WATER as well.  If we continue on this pace, some global group will own all water rights in the world.

It's ugly.  Most people have no clue to this at all.  NO clue.  Society is getting further and futher away from nature.  That's the whole problem.  WE are under a huge diabolical spell.  It has been cast.  We are slaves to the machine.  It's the real version of the Matrix.    What will wake us, I don't know.

NEVER NEVER EVER give into this!!!!!

At the end of 2012, when the biosphere morphs into the noosphere, it will trigger the cosmic PSI BANK to release its memory (I has something to do with the Van Allen radiation belts and DNA).  At which point, we will be reminded of what we really are...the world as we know it will end and things will be better. So we've got that going for us.


- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

When I read your reply, Aaron, I am of course reminded of many of the  reasons why I still take JFK2 over Bush...but I hardly feel there is a  positive option for our planet...I had a little back and forth with someone on RSS (RED SEA SCROLLS - on this am...about the drug started with Levitra's new "Tackling Men's Health" campaign...give me a break, what are they going to tell us about health? that we can fix anything with a pill...then someone said "hey I get paid to do cancer research because of products like Levitra.."  Then the wave of realization that we are just caught in a horrible loop...thousands need the big companies, whether it is drug, soda, or mac-n-cheese, as employers and providers...society would collapse on itself without the monster corporations, and they are perhaps evolving into something better than what they used to be...companies that are developing a conscience and a resposibility, maybe out of was colored by that thought that there really is no going back, there might be little pockets of the old reality playing at their little communal ideals,  but they also still rely on the outside world and just an exercise in ego, that they can be right and separate from the masses, which is BS...sort of a "Brave New World" kind of thing with the wild lands outside society, I don't think it really could stand on its own... so ultimately, how does it work  out?  how should we proceed politically, socially, economically, morally...?

I know we have talked about living as close to that deepest cosmic groove, the vibration of does the Iraqi war fit that? how does Monsanto's bioengineering fit that? how does heavy metal fit that? hip hop? opera? SUV's? bicycles? electronics? advertising? philosophy? religion? opinion? family? conversation? whatever...

just a little depressed with with the Human Condtion as it now seems to be
today...someone give me some answers!


Happy New Year from Africa! -by Pamela

- for the Grateful Web

Hi Everyone! Hope your holidays were warm and wonderful!  Mine were fantastic, I spent them with other volunteers in the area.  We cooked up a couple of huge feasts and made memories to last a lifetime!  If I hadn't had gotten together with other volunteers, it might not have felt like the holidays at all.  Christmas here is very subdued, because most Tanzanians don't have any money to spend on things like gifts or decorations.  In the village, the Tanzanians I know spent Christmas by going to church and spending time with their families, which is what Christmas is all about anyway.  For New Year's, the other volunteers and I had a big party at my friend Carolyn's house, who is my nearest PCV (Peace Corps Volunteer) neighbor.  There were 19 PCVs and several members of her village government and their families who showed up.  It was great to have the villagers there!  They are used to big parties, because they have them all th e time.  However, their drinks of choice are ulanzi (fermented bamboo sap) and pombe (a brew cooked up from corn and millet).  I find ulanzi to be quite tasty, like a Bartles and James wine cooler, but pombe I find to be terribly repulsive!  At our PCV gatherings, we stick to the traditional wine and beer.

Now it's back to the business of settling into my new home.  For our first three months of service, we are not expected to do anything except set up our houses and get to know the people and needs of our villages.  I have already become good friends with several of my female neighbors, the mamas, who are either teachers or wives of teachers at the school.  It is not acceptable here to be friends with someone of the opposite sex, but all the mamas bond together and support each other.  They have been very supportive of me so far by sending their kids over with cuttings of flowers for my front yard, helping me haul water from the well 150 yds from my house (with buckets on our heads!), and giving me fresh harvested beans and potatoes from their farms.  I have tried to return their favors by baking them cakes and breads and sharing vegetable seeds.

One of the biggest tasks I have accomplished so far, with the help of Doris, a neighbor girl, is digging up a large area for a garden.  The area was previously sod, and it was a tremendous amount of work overturning the soil and removing all the grass!  Doris (who is only 16 and half the size of me) could swing the jembe, a large hoe, up over her head and get it twice as far down into the ground as I could!  Of course, she's been doing this her whole life.  A common sight around my village now is all the women and children out working in their fields, swinging jembes.  The women will often do this all day long, sometimes with babies slung over their backs!   Most fields are planted to corn, beans, potatoes, and pumpkins or other squash, and these are usually intercropped together.  It is a goal of mine to encourage growing other vegetables as well, like tomatoes, carrots, mchicha (a local green), onions, etc.  I have been told however, that it may be too cold here to grow certain things like watermelon, peanuts, and maybe even tomatoes and green peppers!

My village is at elevation 6,000 ft, and every night I sleep with 2 heavy blankets. Some mornings I can see my breath!  It's hard to believe this is the warmest time of year, and hard to believe I am in Africa!  Never did I imagine I would be writing home asking my folks to send a hat, gloves, and long johns!  I will certainly need them come June and July.  Oh but I'm not complaining!  I would be complaining if I was one of the other volunteers who live down in the lowlands or along the coast.  They say they do nothing every afternoon except sit nearly naked in front of a fan and try not to sweat.  No thanks!  I'd rather be curled up under a blanket any day. 

Adjusting to a life of solitude has been somewhat challenging, but I'm sure times will easier once my Swahili improves and I become busy with projects.  For now, I have been spending my time reading, writing letters, sewing, learning how to cook and bake on a charcoal stove, doing yoga, meeting people in the village, working in the garden, and getting out to explore the INCREDIBLY BEAUTIFUL surroundings on my mountain bike!  It is a very peaceful life, going to bed and rising with the sun, and having no distractions except ones I create myself.

Well, except for the distractions of rats and bugs!  Hopefully soon I will have a cat to take care of the rats, and as for the bugs, I'll have to learn to tolerate them.  Most don't bother me though, and there are some really cool ones here!  Butterflies and moths of all colors, shapes, and sizes, and strange looking beetles, grasshoppers, and dragonflies.  There are some really neat birds as well.  With all the trees near my house, I have several birds that serenade me in the mornings and evenings!  I have been able to identify a few of them with the help of an ID book my friend Lori gave me before I left.  (Thanks Lori!).

Happy Valentine's Day... from Africa!

Pamela in Africa 2003/2004- for the Grateful Web
- for the Grateful Web

I am back in Iringa again, to take care of some business and buy certain things that I cannot buy in or near my village, like a new (used) pair of work pants and a new short-wave radio, since mine for some reason is not working.  I have been borrowing my friend Carolyn's radio however, and listening to BBC or VOA everyday.  I find all of this talk about war to be very disturbing, but I also feel removed from it.  There are a few Muslims around in this part of the country, but they do not at all appear to be threatening.  The only adverse attitudes we volunteers have encountered is the occasional "Osama!"  shouted out at us from little boys, usually only in the bigger cities.  There has been terrorist threats on the island of Zanzibar, but no action resulted from them. 

Life in the village continues to be nothing but peaceful.  I am beginning to be very busy - talking with farmers about the problems they are having with their crops and trees, and projects they would like to do.  Beekeeping, medicine for cows, and layer hens are first on the list, but I will not have any funds to initiate these projects until May or June, due to changes in our Peace Corps project budgets.  In the mean time, I have begun helping to weigh babies at "clinic day" which is held once a month for the mamas to bring their babies to be examined.  These days will be good times for me to hold seminars about health and nutrition for the mamas.  Next month already, I'm giving a seminar about how to make banana bread and corn bread!  Bananas and corn are two things that we have an abundance of in the village, and although sweet breads may not be considered to be entirely healthy, they do add some variety to the villager's diets.  Also on Monday, I will begin teaching English to first and second graders at the primary school near my house.  At first I was apprehensive about this since I have never taught English before, but first and second grade should be fairly easy, and I think it will be a lot of fun!  Once the students get to secondary school, all of their courses are taught in English, and many of them fail since English is not adequately taught in primary school, so I feel this is a very important thing to do.  There are four students from my village that attend secondary school (the have to ride their bikes 12 miles every day round trip!), and I have begun to tutor them in English and other subjects.  Very few students have the opportunity to go to secondary school, because not only do they have to pass a very difficult examination (in English!), but their parents also have to pay fees.  So usually, only students with parents who have paying jobs get to go. 

Two opposing attitudes I have observed and experienced here have posed challenges to feeling completely comfortable and "blending in" with Tanzanians.  One attitude is that because I am white and come from America, some villagers seem to think that means I can do anything and have all the answers to their problems.  I feel a lot of undue respect from them, especially when I look around and see many of their answers to their problems (their poverty in particular) are all right here.  Several farmers already make compost and use contours and have fruit trees and beehives.  It's just that the information is not shared.  Some people seem to be saying that only if it comes from me, it will seem like the right thing to do.  How I will convince them that their knowledge is just as, if not more valuable, I do not know. The other attitude is apparent resentment of my material wealth.  I look around my little cottage of a house and think about how few things I have here compared to what I had or what most people have in the States!  But even what I have here is far more than most villagers can ever even hope to have.  This resentment is more blatant when I leave my village, and people shout out at me, begging for money, or when cocky young 20-something males strike up a conversation about the differences between the US and Tanzania, and ask "so why is it that you have a job and I don't?"  Jared Diamond offers an answer to these questions in the book Guns, Germs, and Steel (an excellent read, I highly recommend it), but how do you begin to explain his intricate and elaborate theory in a 10-minute conversation (and in broken Swahili and English)?  I'm not sure this question can ever be answered in a completely satisfying way for those of us who feel guilt, or for those of us who feel resentment, about the disparities in the world. But I'll continue to carry on, waging PEACE!

Greetings from South Africa

Pretoria, South Africa- for the Grateful Web
Johannesburg, South Africa- for the Grateful Web

Just to let you know, I'm in Pretoria, South Africa, to see the dentist.  It looks like I may be here until the end of next week, August 7th, and I don't have much to do, so if you want to write, I will certainly have the time to write you back!  The PC Medical office in Tanzania sent me here because the dentist in Dar es Salaam thought I needed a root canal and a crown, and there is no one there who is trained to do these things.  The dentist here, however, says I don't need a root canal, YEAH! Only a crown, but it will still take about a week and a half for this.

Usually from Tanzania we are sent to Nairobi, but currently we are not allowed to travel there because of a ban issued by the State Department.  Apparently links have been found between the diamond and tanzanite mining companies in Kenya with Al Qaeda, and the British and American governments are making a big deal out of it.  People who I have talked to from Kenya think this is all totally absurd, and are pleading for the ban to be lifted because, as one of them said, "the tourism industry has been brought to its knees."  British Airways have cancelled their flights to Nairobi since about the middle of May. 

Also to let you know, Johannesburg and Pretoria are really not as dangerous as their reputation suggests.  I flew into Johannesburg earlier this week, and everyone I have met has insisted on this.  However, they say it is still smart to be precautious.  From what I've seen so far, nearly everything here is exactly like in America!  The only differences are people drive on the left side of the road, have mostly German vehicles: Mercedes, BMW, Audi, VW, and most of the signs are in Afrikaans, that funky language that is the derivative of Dutch.  Besides that, Pretoria could be any college town in the Southeastern US!  There are tree-lined streets, stylish residential areas, good restaurants, lots of nature preserves and parks, and many young people out and about, riding mountain bikes and walking.  This is what I've seen.  But from what I've heard, Pretoria and Johannesburg give the impression that this is first-world country, but once you get out in the bush, it becomes obvious that South Africa really is third world.  The disparities are enormous!  Only about 15% of South Africans are of European descent, yet almost all of them live within the greater Johannesburg and Pretoria metropolitan areas, giving the impression that more than half the population here is white.  It is obvious though; that help is needed otherwise Peace Corps would not be here.

Hamjambo? An update from Pamela

Tiananmen Square- for the Grateful Web

I just wanted to report on the first week of vacation, since so much has happened so far!  We began with an adventurous trek to Lake Malawi, 11hours, 3 buses and the last hour in the back of a truck, arriving finally at 10pm!  But it was all worth it, because the Lake was absolutely beautiful.  Pure grey sand, crystal clear water, and green mountains jutting up all around.  We rode in a dug out canoe across the bay to snorkel in a rocky area with colorful fish, and to visit a remote village where the people specialize in pottery making.  This was one of the most incredible village experiences I have had, because the people obviously hadn't had much exposure to white people or the outside world, especially the children, but were still very friendly and welcoming.


The "resort" where we stayed didn't have much to offer as far as food or activities, but the newly built red roofed cottages were very clean and comfortable.  The light, smells, and feel of the place reminded me so much of summer camp!  We spent three full relaxing days on the beach, swimming, reading, and eating incredibly yummy mangoes, bananas, pineapples, and several other unusual and unknown fruits!


We celebrated Christmas Eve with a South African couple who were camping there, and had their campsite all decorated with homemade foil garland and ornaments, and wreaths and candle holders made out of tree branches, fruits and pinecones.  They also made chocolate cake over the camp fire and had an entire array of hor'dourves.  "What would you like to drink?", they asked.  "We have tequila, rum, vodka, gin, beer, and red wine."  It was a great Christmas! 


On Christmas Day morning, we got a ride back to Mbeya in a super SUV with 4 Chinese guys, all engineers working for the roads department.  We had very interesting conversations, covering a broad range of topics from Tiananmen Square and democratic reform in China to of course basketball!  And what made it even more interesting were that these conversations were in three languages: Chinese, English and Swahili!  They took us out for Christmas dinner at a 70s decor hotel where we ate chicken curry.


Yesterday Carolyn and I hiked to the top of one of the nearest mountains around Mbeya, and this afternoon are boarding a bus to Lusaka, Zambia, where we will get another bus to the town of Livingstone.  The adventure continues...