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October 2011

October 24, 2011

Top Economists to Advise Sanders on Federal Reserve Reforms

Sanders-BernankeWhat do a Nobel Prize-winning economist and U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) have in common?

They both want to reform the Federal Reserve.

Joseph Stiglitz, the 2001 winner of the Nobel Prize in economics and an economics professor at Columbia University, is one of nearly 20 of the nation's leading progressive economists and economic analysts who have agreed to advise Sanders on legislation designed to bring a major overhaul to the nation's central bank.

Other prominent names on this special advisory panel include: Robert Reich, secretary of labor under President Bill Clinton; economist James K. Galbraith; Jeffrey Sachs, a special adviser to United National Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon; and author William Greider, among others.

Sanders announced the panel last week, on the heels of a second critical report of the Fed issued by the U.S. Government Accountability Office and as "Occupy Wall Street" protests began to spread across the nation.

Continue reading "Top Economists to Advise Sanders on Federal Reserve Reforms" »

"Occupy Burlington" Plans to Truly Occupy Burlington

IMG_3040 Now in its fifth week, the Occupy Wall Street solidarity protesters in Burlington are beginning to channel their energy into more direct action.

Demonstrators plan to stage an actual occupation — of City Hall Park — starting this Friday.

On Sunday, about 150 people gathered in City Hall Park and marched up and down Church Street. Back at the park, the crowd held a "speak out" and "general assembly." The latter resembles a large town meeting, where facilitators help people make proposals to the group — either to form subgroups or take collective action — and bring specific proposals on which the assembly can vote.

The biggest "Occupy Vermont" rally to date was last Saturday, when as many as 500 people gathered in City Hall Park and marched through downtown Burlington. At last Sunday's weekly rally, about 250 people came together and held Burlington's first general assembly. From that meeting, several subgroups were formed — including ones focused on direct action, anti-misogyny, the economy, and media.

After a brief report from the spokesman for the "strategy working group," a demonstrator who identified himself only as Will, the rally-goers agreed to occupy City Hall Park starting at 3 p.m. this coming Friday. The occupation will last through the weekend.

When asked what the purpose of the occupation will be, Will replied, "That's a good question. We're open to suggestions."

Continue reading ""Occupy Burlington" Plans to Truly Occupy Burlington" »

October 21, 2011

Grazing: The Last of the Ploughgate Creamery Hartwell

PloughgateLast month, a fire damaged Ploughgate Creamery in Albany, Vt., bringing cheese production to a halt. Among the (dairy) casualties were creamy Elmore, the silky Willoughby and Hartwell, a bloomy rind Camembert-style cheese made from organic Ayrshire cow milk that has melted many a cheeselover's heart.

But there's still a tiny amount of it left, and it's in Waterbury.

At the time of the fire, Ploughgate owner and cheesemaker Marisa Mauro wrote that she was "not sure of the next step." For now, Mauro is using her acumen to do the cheese buying at the brand-new Cork Wine Bar & Market, in the middle of Waterbury Village. 

So, it makes sense that inside Cork's cooler are the last wheels of Hartwell, the buttery cheese that won a blue ribbon at last year's American Cheese Society Conference and that tastes subtly of wet earth. Sliced atop hearty Jan's Farmhouse Crisps — crackers made with flax, pistachios, cranberries and pumpkin seeds in Stowe — it's a purely local, and fall-like, snack, as fleeting as turning leaves. 

Albany Woman Launches Hunger Strike to Protest Lowell Mountain Wind Project


A 71-year-old Albany woman has entered the second week of a hunger strike launched to protest what she calls the permanent destruction of the Lowell Mountain range in the name of industrial wind development.

Carol Irons, a retired mental health case worker whose home faces Lowell Mountain, began her hunger strike on October 13 and is consuming only water and juice. She says she's prepared to continue her fast "for as long as it takes" to stop the project. She insists her concerns have far less to do with the visual impact of the 21-turbine wind project than the effects on wildlife, public health and the environment. As someone with Abenaki heritage, Irons says it's crucial that Vermonters adhere to the Native American principle that all our decisions first consider the impact on seven generations of our descendants. 

Continue reading "Albany Woman Launches Hunger Strike to Protest Lowell Mountain Wind Project" »

Movies You Missed 9: Red State

Red-stateThis week in movies you missed: Kevin Smith takes on the Westboro Baptist Church by making it the horror in a horror movie.

What You Missed

Somewhere in redneck America, three teens (Michael Angarano, Kyle Gallner and Nicholas Braun) are trying to get laid. They connect online with a much older woman (Oscar winner Melissa Leo) who invites them to her rural trailer with the promise of a simultaneous foursome (don't ask). When they arrive, the unwary horndogs quickly find themselves prisoners of the Five Points Trinity Church, a notorious local sect that waves hate-filled signs at gay and military funerals.

As if that weren't disturbing enough, out of the public eye, the congregation's tastes run to assault rifles, cattle prods, Saran wrap and ball gags. This Hostel-type teenage-nightmare scenario quickly mutates into something else, and then into something else again when the feds, led by John Goodman, storm the compound.

Continue reading "Movies You Missed 9: Red State" »

October 20, 2011

Local Health-Care Providers Urge McDonald's to Quit Marketing to Children

HappymealThe booths at the South Burlington McDonald's earlier today were filled with a typical smattering of lunch customers: two businesswomen, a pair of teenagers, a soldier and a few families. In their midst was a toddler in a high chair, her tiny hands manuevering a hamburger and picking at some French fries.

There was nothing striking about the scene. Yet some pediatricians and nutritionists would shudder at the sight of a toddler surrounded by salt and fat. Among them, Jennifer Laurent.

"I am concerned with the future health of these children," says Laurent, president of the Vermont Nurse Practitioner's Association and an obesity researcher in UVM's department of nursing. Fatty fast foods are one of the tendrils feeding a childhood-obesity epidemic that Laurent sees firsthand. "To have a 12-year-old come in with concerned parents because their child is morbidly obese is heart wrenching," she says. "He can't go out and play because he can't keep up. He gets a headache when he exerts himself. He is bullied."

And he could be the one in three children who will develop diabetes in their lifetime, she points out. So, when Laurent was approached to be one of the 1,500 signatories to an open letter to McDonald's CEO Jim Skinner, urging his company to axe "predatory marketing" to children, she jumped at the chance. "We ask that you heed our concern and retire your marketing promotions for food high in salt, fat, sugar and calories to children, whatever form they take — from Ronald McDonald to toy giveaways," reads the letter, which ran today in the Portland (Ore.) Tribune and will appear in the Burlington Fress Press on Monday.

Continue reading "Local Health-Care Providers Urge McDonald's to Quit Marketing to Children" »

GOP Mayoral Candidate's Bold Plan for Burlington: Sell! Sell! Sell!

IMG_3021* Updated below: BED's true debt load, plus Kurt Wright responds to the claim his math is wrong. *

Republican mayoral candidate Kurt Wright promised he would unveil a "bold plan" with "bold solutions" to address the serious fiscal challenges facing the city of Burlington — and on Wednesday, he delivered.

At a city hall press conference, Wright revealed his bold plan to shore up the city's finances: Sell one its most prized assets, the Burlington Electric Department.

Wright claims the sale would bring a one-time windfall to the city of more than $100 million.

Aside from BED, Wright said he'd entertain the notion of selling off Burlington International Airport — or at least having its ownership regionalized, or getting the state to take some ownership — as well as Memorial Auditorium, which he claims loses money annually.

What other city departments and services could Burlington auction off? The bike path? City arts? Church Street? The Waterfront?

(Fire away down in the comments section.)

Wright, who has served on the city council in three different stints over the past 15 years, acknowledged his bold solution to sell BED is, actually, not new.

"People have talked about it in the past, but I don't think the climate was right for this in the past and I think it is now," Wright said. "Would I have proposed this 10 years ago? I wouldn't have and I don't think voters would have reacted to it favorably 10 or 15 years ago."

The difference today is the sheer amount of debt facing the city, thanks to Burlington Telecom, the Burlington airport and a flagging pension fund.

Continue reading "GOP Mayoral Candidate's Bold Plan for Burlington: Sell! Sell! Sell!" »

October 19, 2011

Occupy Lowell Mountain Launches Blog From The Blasting Zone

IMG_4508Talk about your daily blasts: Protesters making a last-ditch effort to halt construction of Green Mountain Power's Kingdom Community Wind Project on Lowell Mountain have launched a daily blog, called "Mountain Talk,"  to spread the word about their ongoing "tent-in" and invite newcomers to join them.

As reported in my story this week, "Occupy Lowell Mountain? Despite Court Order, Opponents Camp Near GMP Blasting Zone," opponents of the 21-turbine, $163 million wind project in the Northeast Kingdom have set up a round-the-clock encampment on land owned by the project's most vocal critics, Don and Shirley Nelson. The protesters, who have permission from the Nelsons, are set up within GMP’s blasting zone and say they’re prepared to stay on the mountain all winter, if necessary, in order to prevent the project from moving forward.

Last week, GMP offered to buy the Nelsons' property at their initial asking price of $1.25 million — the land has been for sale for about a decade — but also threatened the couple with a $1 million lawsuit if the campers don't leave the blast zone and delay construction. The Nelsons said no, then upped their asking price to $2.25 million.

Says Don Nelson, 69, "If they’re gonna sue me for $1 million, I’m gonna add a million to the price tag. It's high-stakes poker, and I don’t intend to sell out to the enemy if I can help it."

October 18, 2011

Did Occupy Vermont Suppress Free Speech in Goldman Sachs Protest Controversy?

Goldman-sucks-sign Jeff Ares, a University of Vermont alumnus who now works for Goldman Sachs, was scheduled to speak to business students at the school on Friday. Given Goldman Sachs's sizable role in the financial meltdown, this didn't make Vermont's contingent of Occupy Wall Street supporters too happy.

Occupy Vermont participants planned a "showdown" at the talk to protest Goldman Sachs and to urge business students to take up careers away from Wall Street. Talk of a protest led Goldman Sachs to request that the event be canceled, according to the AP.

The AP story includes a quote from a notable free speech advocate, who appears to condemn Occupy Vermont for their role in getting the plug pulled:

Continue reading "Did Occupy Vermont Suppress Free Speech in Goldman Sachs Protest Controversy?" »

Alice Eats: Union Jack's

370 Shelburne Rd., Burlington, 802-652-9828

IMG_2848There are things that you eat because they're good for you and will make you feel good. Then there are meals that you know your body will regret, but the delicious memories will live on, even as you're walking into the light. Union Jack's, in the same Burlington shopping center as Waterfront Video, has both options. But who are you kidding? You want the latter and so do I.

That is why, when you go to Union Jack's, you will order the fish and chips (right). The haddock is meaty, but tender and flaky, with nary a hint of fishy taste. The batter is a crispy cloud of greasy beer flavor.

The slab of fish sits atop enough chubby, crunchy little fries to feed at least two people. All of it is wonderful dipped into the malt vinegar you'll find in bottles, along with ketchup, by the drink fountain. Even better, order the curry sauce.

Last night was my first time doing so. The slightly creamy, tomato-based sauce was clearly based on Indian curries. When paired with the fried fish and chips, though, it became a glorious substitute for my favorite Japanese fried pork chop with curry sauce. Heavenly.

Continue reading "Alice Eats: Union Jack's" »

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