Marching for Peace and Justice

Today I joined tens of thousands of other Los Angeles residents marching in protest of the US invasion of Iraq and against the numerous incursions against the planet and her children by bloodthirsty corporate greedheads.

The march and rally, organized by International ANSWER, began at noon at the corner of Hollywood Boulevard and Vine Street. The police were present, but not intrusive. I saw marchers of all ages and genders, and of varied viewpoints, but united in serious intent.

Of the speakers at the rally following the march in front of Grauman’s Chinese Theatre, Representative Maxine Waters drew the greatest applause when she said, “A member of the press just asked me if I had really said that the president had lied. I am saying it again so that everyone can hear. The president of the United States, George W. Bush, has lied to us. He should be impeached.”

One group wrapped over a dozen large long cardboard boxes in flags to created a flotilla of draped coffins and carried them the length of the march.

Signs I hadn’t seen before:
Dear US Taxpayers, thanks for all the money. Sorry about your children. Love, Halliburton.
The only Bush I trust is my own.
Jail to the chief.
(Photo of a hand flipping the bird) Wiretap this!
Support Our Troops—Drive a Hybrid
Mission Failed
We Stand with Cindy Sheehan
Vietnam-Nothing Learned. Iraq-Nothing’s Changed.
South Central Farmers—Feeding Families (a community gardening and food distribution project in the poorest section of Los Angeles endangered by a real estate development project)
Rich Man’s War, Poor Man’s Fight
Fire the Liar
Money for Education, not for Occupation
What Noble Cause?

Back from the 1960’s, and carried by women not even born then, was the sign with the daisy and handlettering that says “War is not healthy for children and other living things.”

Monocrops for Sustainability

The vast, unecologically monocropped fields of the midwest USA are filling with genetically modified grains and soybeans that enrich Monsanto at the expense of the health of people and animals who eat these harvests. Small scale diversified agriculture that refreshes soil, plant and animal bio-diversity (permaculture) creates a greater yield in less space. However, there are some large scale crops that are environmentally enthralling.

Oil-bearing crops including soy, sunflower, peanuts and canola provide a sustainable alternative to petroleum. The earliest diesel engine, displayed at the World’s Fair in St. Louis in 1900, ran on peanut oil. Today’s biodiesel is often made from spent frying oil from restaurants, giving it the environmental beauty of recycling, the political beauty of being readily available without import, the aesthetic beauty of smelling like popcorn, and the sustainable beauty of being significantly less polluting and greenhouse gas-producing than petroleum.

My friend Ano Tarletz runs his farm truck on homemade bio-diesel. He says it takes one restaurant to support one truck. Since the restaurant pays Ano to take away their spent frying oil, his diesel fuel costs him “minus twenty cents per gallon.” Artist Shari Elf does not make her own bio-diesel—a neighbor who does delivers a 55 gallon drum to her house, from which she gasses up her new diesel Volkswagen Jetta. She pays $3.50 per gallon for it, but says it’s worth it.

Another large scale crop that makes my heart sing is kenaf, a relative of cotton and okra, grown as a tree-free paper, fabric and industrial fiber. It grows up to eighteen feet in five months, uses no harmful chemicals in processing, and is fully recyclable. Kenaf paper saves forests. We need to support this industry! I look for kenaf products when I buy cards and stationery.

Food Grade Plastic

Which plastics pose health hazards as containers for food or drink?

This information is from the Green Guide:

Look on the bottom of the plastic container for the recycling logo (a triangle of three arrows) with a number inside it. Sometimes, on very small containers, the number appears without a logo.

The plastics that pose no known health hazards:

1. Polyethylene Terephthalate (PET or PETE)

2. High Density Polyethylene (HDPE)

4. Low Density Polyethylene (LDPE)

5. Polypropylene (PP)

Plastics with potential health hazards:

3. Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC or vinyl)
Some research has shown that the phthalates in PVC food wraps and vinyl flooring are endocrine disruptors linked to various health problems. Water and vegetable oils sometimes are bottled in PVC, and many toys and baby teethers contain PVC.

6. Polystyrene (PS or Styrofoam)
Styrene is a possible carcinogen and endocrine disruptor. Avoid consuming hot liquids, fatty foods or alcoholic drinks from styrofoam containers, as these leach out styrene. Some opaque plastic cutlery is PS as well.

7. Other resins, including polycarbonate (PC):
Bisphenol-A (BPA), a main building block for PC products, is an endocrine disruptor. Most clear baby bottles and five gallon water bottles, as well as Lexan (Nalgene) water bottles and plastic-lined food cans, are made of PC.

What's THAT?

What I eat for breakfast most days creates controversy wherever I go.

Most people think it looks awful (and say so), and among the few who have eaten it, some didn’t like it at all. Nonetheless, it’s what I’ve craved when it’s time for my first meal of the day, since about 1990, and I find it energizing, nourishing and slimming. I also noticed that my facial skin began looking smoother soon after I started eating spirulina regularly. So, on the off-chance that you, too, are a weirdo that likes spirulina smoothies, here’s my recipe:

I like to prepare a large quantity of the powder ahead of time, and then use a 1/4 cup scoopful each morning. If you can’t find beet powder or stevia powder in your local natural foods store, they are easy to find online.

2 pounds soy protein powder (for isoflavones and protein)
8 ounces Hawaiian spirulina (for carotene, GLA, and a host of other nutrients)
8 ounces beet root powder (for iron, and to aesthetically counteract the green of the spirulina)
8 ounces roasted carob powder (to flavor it and further add to the illusion of chocolate-ness instead of algae-ness)
8 ounces stevia leaf powder (to sweeten it without carbs)
8 ounces lecithin granules (a brain food that makes the smoothie creamy)

The first five ingredients have to be sifted through a sieve into a large bowl or pot, so there will be no hard lumps in the smoothie. Beet root powder is particularly prone to this. Just keep stirring the powder and lumps around in the sieve with a wooden spoon, and after a while it will all go through. Last add the lecithin unsifted, as it will only gum up your sieve.

Stir the stuff until it is all the same light cocoa powder color. Lift from the bottom of the bowl as you stir.

Store it in an airtight glass or food grade plastic container. When I am traveling, it’s usually in a Ziploc gallon freezer zipper bag, inside another plastic bag. It’s handy to have a low carb breakfast with me on the road.

My actual breakfast starts with a serving of fresh fruit, then the smoothie powder mixed with enough pure water to make it sort of like chocolate pudding. Sometimes I mix it with yogurt (I like soy or goat milk yogurt) so that I get the health benefits of the lactobacillis. The baroque versions include a dash of vanilla extract, and unsweetened soy milk instead of yogurt or water. You can blend it in a blender, but it mixes up easily with just a bowl and spoon (which you’ll use to eat it with anyway), saving you the trouble of washing the blender afterwards.

No War

The looming third anniversary of the US invasion of Iraq prompts me to think again about how this massive tragedy occured.

Howard Zinn says all wars of aggression are sold to the public with lies:

Noam Chomsky says the “Bush Doctrine” is nothing new, just worse:

If you want to march in protest, here’s where to find actions and events:

Voter Verified Auditable Paper Trail

The last hope for a democracy in the USA is now before Congress for the second time. Originally introduced in May 2003 by Representative Rush Holt of New Jersey, the Voter Confidence and Increased Accessibility Act (then H.R. 2237, now H.R. 550) demanded a voter verified paper receipt, so that the voter would know that the voting machine had counted his or her vote truthfully, and that there would be an auditable paper trail available after the election, indeed, that surprise audits would be conducted.

The bill was killed in the Republican-dominated House Committee on House Administration, which reviews bills regarding election laws, and, sure enough, election fraud was rampant in 2004. The exit polls, which had always been an accurate prediction of the outcome of a presidential election until 2000, were off by 5% in 2004. According to the exit polls, Kerry should have had a substantial victory.

Did you read the Brad blog article on Clint Curtis who signed a sworn affidavit before a congressional committee that he was paid to create a voter mis-counting program by Jeb Bush’s former running mate Tom Feeney?

The Washington Post recently published that chart that had been circulating on the Internet for a few years:  a comparison of the security of Las Vegas slot machines versus Diebold voting machines. 

On February 2, 2005, Representative Holt again proposed the bill, this time H.R. 550, and quickly garnered over 160 co-sponsors, both Republican and Democrat. I am pleased to know that both of my Hawaii Representatives, Neil Abercrombie and Ed Case, signed on as co-sponsors on the first day. However, there are hundreds of other House members that have not offered to support this bill yet, and I urge you to contact your Representative if he or she is not on the co-sponsor list. You can easily find his or her email, fax number and phone numbers on the House of Representatives website.

Meanwhile, stay tuned to the Black Box Voting website, the Verified Voting website, and the Brad Blog. The corporate owned news services certainly won’t be mentioning it.

Breaking news:  In California, the Diebold voting machines have been quietly approved by a Republican appointee.  

Sauteed Beet Greens

Beet greens disintegrate more quickly that other greens in the refrigerator, so time is of the essence for making them into a tasty dish. The beet roots themselves (minus the stems and leaves) can last for months in a cold dry storage, and at least a couple of weeks in a refrigerator.

Cut the stems from the tops of four to six beet roots, and carefully rinse the leaves and stems in cold running pure water, discarding any portions that are broken, bruised, yellowed or limp. Cut the clean, healthy leaves and stems into sections one inch long. Peel and cut one large yellow onion into pieces less than an inch wide or long. Peel and finely chop one large or two small cloves of garlic.

In a large saucepan or wok, heat 2 tablespoons of sesame oil until it sizzles if a tiny drop of water is dropped into the pan. Add the garlic and stir until golden brown. Add the onion and stir until translucent and soft. Add one quarter of the beet leaves and stems and stir until they have wilted. Add another quarter of the beet leaves and steam and stir until they, too, have wilted. Continue with the two remaining quarters of the beets tops. Stir over a medium flame for another five minutes, then remove the sauteed vegetables into a bowl. Spray on and stir in a little Bragg’s Liquid Aminos. I like to top this dish with babaganoush (roasted eggplant and sesame tahini dip), but it’s equally wonderful atop a nest of brown rice.

John Huggins' Photography

I took my mother, Verna Lebow Norman, to our cousin John Huggins’ photography show opening at Bergamot Station Arts Center yesterday. Mom sculpts ferociously figurative pieces, mostly in clay, but she has welded, carved wood, made wax pieces that were cast in bronze, painted in oils, tempera and watercolor, drawn with charcoals, pastel, pens and pencils, taken perfectly lit photographs of her work, and tends to create assemblages surrounding her pieces—her favorite trick is to add eyeglasses or hats to her glazed busts of people. Of course she wants to go to the art opening.

Photographer John Huggins and his son Noah

John Huggins’s show is called “Once.” He is showing photos of children, animals, and nature scenes, all blurry, the way they look when tears well up. Tears of joy, or of grief, as these beloved people, places and things are about to disappear? I didn’t ask.

A wall at the show

At the art opening, Mom ran into a friend and fellow artist, Harriet Zeitlin, who had preceded her as president of Artists for Economic Action back in the 1970’s.

Harriet Zeitlin and my mom, Verna Lebow Norman

John’s wife Erica Huggins, a big time movie producer (last year she produced the Jodie Foster film Flight Plan), arrived with their two young sons, Sam and Jonah. We are all delighted to see one another again, especially on this celebratory occasion.

John and Erica’s sons Sam and Jonah, and beautiful Erica, greeting my mom

Being a Public Citizen

I just read the history of Public Citizen, the largest of the many public interest organizations Ralph Nader started, written in celebration of 35 years since its inception in 1971. Click here, then click on “35th anniversary of Public Citizen”, which will open their latest issue of their magazine as a PDF file, and read pages 4 through 8. I don’t know about you, but for me, it was an eyeopener. These people have been speaking truth to power not so much with a vengeance, but with legal finesse, for decades. Many of the consumer safety laws we have taken for granted (and are seeing undone by the current administration) were hard won by the efforts by Public Citizen attorneys.

Who else has been out there organizing legal actions and speaking to elected officials to stand firm against corporate and government abuse of people and the environment for that long?

Well, certainly Common Cause (founded in 1970 by John Gardner). And the American Civil Liberties Union, founded by Roger Baldwin, Crystal Eastman, Albert DeSilver and others in 1920. Amnesty International was launched in 1961 by an article written by British lawyer Peter Benenson about two Portuguese men imprisoned for raising their glasses in a toast to freedom.

While maintaining our awareness of today’s political scene through news websites including and, we need to support those who are out on the barricades, fighting legal battles and promoting better laws in Washington. This is just part of housekeeping.

Eluding the Common Cold

For a week now I’ve been living in a house with someone who has a cold and I haven’t caught it yet. I’m grateful that I have a few herbal cures in my remedy bag that seem to be keeping the bugs at bay.

Even fairly square types are starting to admit that antibiotics are inappropriate medicine for cold and flu. Antibiotics don’t kill viruses.

Lots of people know about Airborne. It’s an effervescent tablet dissolved in water to make a sweet, fizzy, citrus flavored drink “invented by a teacher who was sick of catching colds at school.” It’s been easier to find in big chain stores like Trader Joe’s than it is in health food stores. You take it at the first sign of a cold, or before you go somewhere dicey, like the passenger compartment of an airplane.

I have three other cold prevention remedies on hand: Oscillococcinum (a homeopathic flu remedy), Gan Mao Ling (a Chinese herbal combo pill), and NatureWorks Flu & Cold Times (a boozy herb and homeopathic tincture). With all of these, it’s about timing—the first tickle of a sore throat, or runny nose, or sneeze. Right then. Pow!

In the rare instance that a bug gets past this first defense, I go into fasting mode: Nothing but raw and cooked fruits and non-starchy vegetables, broth, herbal tea and water until the virus goes away. For me, this is a short cut.

I also take very hot baths because viruses die by the millions if your body temperature goes up even one degree above normal (and vice-versa: they multiply if you get chilled.) That’s why your body gets a fever when you have a viral infection-it’s trying to fight back! After the hot bath, I get into bed, and rest/sweat well-covered, to continue the heat attack. A great excuse to get into a good novel or movie!