Will I Lose My Home?

Please don’t make me regret signing up for Medi-Cal! I just found out today that it is possible for the government to lay an estate claim on my house to pay for outstanding medical bills when I die. I remember seeing something about this when I filled out the forms for Medi-Cal so that I could qualify as a provider of (and my daughter could receive) In Home Supportive Services.

But could they really take my home away from Jillian when I die? Please tell me it isn’t so!

There are ten states where language in their sign-up documentation effectively allows those states to use “estate recovery” to steal Medicaid and Medi-Cal recipients’ equity in their homes in order to cover medical expenses.

In California, SB 1124 passed unanimously in the Senate to overturn the wording in the Medi-Cal sign-up paperwork (or online registration, like the kind I used) so that low-income families don’t have to worry about this. Unfortunately, Governor Jerry Brown VETOED the bill! If you don’t believe me, read Jerry Brown’s signature on this veto note: gov.ca.gov/docs/SB_1124_Veto_Message.pdf

For more information on how California uses “estate recovery” to take away people’s home, read: http://bit.ly/ZAtAzB

Sources: http://www.dailykos.com/story/2014/09/12/1329202/-California-Governor-Brown-Still-Wants-to-Steal-My-Home#

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The Game

Recovered from Writeindependent.org, originally posted on July 13, 2012

We are taught about this game from the time we enter preschool: that you have to learn certain subjects (math and English are presumably the most important), that you have to be ahead of your peers (presumably to have the best chances to enter college), that you will want to earn a lot of money (presumably so that you are attractive to the girls if you’re male, and so that you can be independent if you’re female) and that money is the source of all things: happiness, security, material things that we are sold on TV.

Then to “win” this game, the best and the brightest (because the dullards dropped out at some point and realized it was a pointless game anyway, and maybe they really were the smartest ones anyway…) went on to Harvard, or Yale, or what have you. And they became the “leaders” in every way, because their money bought influence, and with this influence, they changed the rules of the game itself, so that they could get more money and more influence.

Do you see where I’m going here? The same people who supposedly “won” the game of life that they were taught since preschool was the game are the ones who are actually destroying the fabric of our society. First, they created weapons to assure their dominance, they funded this weaponry and the soldiers to blow things up and made sure that the taxes paid for it all, then they undermined our economic system by deregulating it and making it complicated and untraceable and impossible to fix. These “brilliant” minds of finance and war built themselves the ultimate paradox: a place unfit for life as we know it.

So how do we unravel this thing? I actually think human beings are quite resilient. I think that the minds who “won” this game of how to become fabulously wealthy can turn around and become the creative geniuses who get us out of this mess.

And if they don’t do it, we dullards will. Because we will be the creative genii.

Who are these genii (plural for genius)?

They:

  1. Question authority
  2. Use critical thinking
  3. Live “outside the box” in non-traditional paradigms
  4. Lead with their passion
  5. When people say “it can’t be done” they don’t listen and they do it anyway
  6. Find monopoly incredibly boring
  7. Don’t watch much TV
  8. Exercise their artistry, whatever that may be
  9. Live deeply, finding resonant ideas and synchronicities and listening to them
  10. Are considerate of others because they know we are all in this together
  11. Make a conscious effort to tread softly on the planet that is the source of all life.

Show me a “leader” of industry, a traditional wealthy individual, and I can almost guarantee they don’t do the most important of these. We know for a fact that their course is unsustainable. So how smart was this paradigm we foisted upon our children, or our parents foisted upon us? And should we continue to be complicit in this system, or find a better way?

 

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Mainstream Media Drops the Ball

Mainstream media still refuses to report on the Trans Pacific Partnership (aka TPP) and the TransAtlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (aka TTIP), supposedly “free trade” agreements that are Trojan horses for corporations to gain unprecedented rights. Briefly, these trade agreements allow corporations to sue governments if their laws stand in the way of their profits. For example, if a government passes a law to ban GMOs, Monsanto can sue that government for lost revenues.

What court would ever find in favor of Monsanto in such a case? Well, the lawyers who are crafting the TPP and TTIP agreements thought about that. They’ve set up a kangaroo court of three attorneys who decide the outcome of such lawsuits. They call it a tribunal, and this tribunal answers to no one. Lucky for Monsanto, the attorneys are handpicked by –you guessed it—the same attorneys who helped craft these agreements.

In case you still can’t believe it, under NAFTA several huge companies have sued countries who have signed that agreement, also reviewed by a similar kangaroo court. Here are some cases where corporations have sued governments and the damages sought (in American dollars):

Company Country being sued Damages sought (in millions of dollars)
Ethyl Canada $250
Metaclad Mexico $90
SD Myers Canada $20
Loewen State of Mississippi $725
Sunbelt Canada $220
Pope & Talbot Canada $507

But will you find out about this through the mainstream media? Suspiciously, they are mum about these lawsuits.

Many activists in the countries involved in these deals have already been protesting. Twenty-two countries across Europe are planning public rallies in over 1,000 locations. But, will you hear about them from “Fox ‘News,’ CNN, New York Times, London Times, ABC? Of course not. Did you hear about the massive protests against it? Of course not. You only hear what the interest groups permit you to hear,” says Dr. Paul Craig Roberts, Secretary of the Treasury for Economic Policy for the Reagan administration and associate editor of the Wall Street Journal. “If these faux ‘trade agreements’ go through, Europe and Asia will also be ruled by American corporations.”

Sources: http://www.citizen.org/documents/Fancy1.pdf

http://www.presstv.ir/detail/2014/10/12/382010/the-us-lie-machine/

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Guess Who: Quotes from Famous Folks

“The country is in deep trouble. We’ve forgotten that a rich life consists fundamentally of serving others, trying to leave the world a little better than you found it. We need the courage to question the powers that be, the courage to be impatient with evil and patient with people, the courage to fight for social justice. In many instances we will be stepping out on nothing, and just hoping to land on something. But that’s the struggle. To live is to wrestle with despair, yet never allow despair to have the last word.” ―Dr. Cornel West

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The Replant Problem in Orchards

Recently, while researching steam treatment of weeds, I happened upon a marvelous paper called The Importance of Soil Fumigation: California Tree and Vine Crops.

Turns out that there is something called the “replant problem.” When a tree gets old (stone fruits last 15 to 20 years, grapevines last 20 to 35, and almonds last up to 25 years), they need to be removed. Since most commercial orchards follow a mono-culture agricultural model, growers want to quickly plant youngsters of the same variety. Often, this doesn’t turn out so well.

The reason new trees have trouble is that the soil is often infested with nematodes, small worm-like creatures that puncture holes in the roots and cause all kinds of damage, even to the point of starving the tree. New plantings placed in the same area will exhibit stunted growth and poor food production if there are already nematodes in the soil.

As if the nematodes weren’t bad enough, soilborne diseases from phytophthora fungi and bacterial canker will kill new trees.

To eradicate bad bacteria, fungi, and nematodes, growers use chemicals such as Chloropicrin, 1,2-dichloropropane (1,2-D), 1,3-Dichloropropene (1,3-D), and methyl bromide. ALL of these chemicals have been phased out by the EPA due to their carcinogenicity and toxic effects on humans.

So what are growers doing now? They cut their trees down to a stump, saturate that stump in Roundup, and starve the nematodes until they die. Then they plant a nematode-resistant rootstock like Nemaguard with their desired cultivar grafted on top. It’s not a great system.

The other way to handle the replant problem is through a ten-year fallow period, where soil organisms die off from not having the food they had gotten used to.

Apparently, the report says that steam doesn’t do the trick, even using 6” deep augers to apply the steam into the soil.

I’m not saying that there aren’t other answers; I’m just summarizing what this paper says. I’m leaving a lot of detail out, but if you’re interested, here is the link to the pdf: http://bit.ly/1vZeWOm Some of the statistics about the types of crops we grow in California and the percentage of that crop in the world’s overall production is impressive.

My suggestion is to stop monocropping. When an organism takes hold in a monocropped situation, it easily spreads from tree to tree. In a diverse ecosystem, even if a pathogen affects one tree, it’s unlikely to spread to dissimilar neighbors.

We know that diversity strengthens ecosystems, but our factory-farm mentality and “economies of scale” industrial models prevail in today’s fast-paced, profit-driven world. It’s only when nature gives us a wakeup call that we’ll have to bow down to the realities of this diversity issue.

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The Farm Bill

Did you know that $62.5 million of the 2014 food bill goes toward identification and management of plant pests? In an announcement dated September 15, 2014, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) invited stakeholders to submit their suggestions for 2015 projects that: “enhanceplant pest/disease analysis and survey; target domestic inspection activities at vulnerable points in the safeguarding continuum; enhance and strengthen pest identification and technology; safeguard nursery production; enhance mitigation capabilities; and conduct outreach and education to support these goals.”[i] The amount per year increases to $75 million annually by FY 2018.

Let’s hope they find safe methods for mitigating pests.

[i] http://www.aphis.usda.gov/wps/portal/aphis/ourfocus/importexport?1dmy&urile=wcm:path:/APHIS_Content_Library/SA_Our_Focus/SA_Plant_Health/SA_Domestic_Pests_And_Diseases

 

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Superweeds: Fact and Fallacy

It has been widely reported that because of an over-reliance on Roundup and other herbicides, that a new class of “superweeds” is now thriving. The following myths have popped up as a result:

  1. Myth: Superweeds come from gene transfer between species, and especially as a result of genetically engineered crops.

Fact: Geneticists say that gene transfer from herbicide resistant crops to weeds can happen, but it’s not the main cause of weeds’ resistance to herbicide. It’s more the reliance of weed control using one class of chemical over and over again.

  1. Myth: Superweeds have a greater-than-normal ability to crowd out and fight for nutrients, harming the desired plants more than the usual weeds.

Fact: The resistant weeds are no more problematic than the “old” weeds; they are similarly competitive to the desired crops, with potentially overwhelming effects.

Andrew Kniss, Ph.D., board member of the Weed Science Society of America and University of Wyoming faculty member says, “Nearly any weed species can be economically devastating if left uncontrolled. It is important to incorporate a variety of weed management practices and not rely exclusively on herbicides for weed control. Monitoring weed populations is also important. Early recognition of resistant populations and rapid intervention can help reduce the impact these weeds have.”

Source: http://wssa.net/2014/10/weed-scientists-uproot-common-superweed-myths/

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Bad News and the Grace of God

The bad news is that I didn’t make the cut for ShopLocal.us’ grant program. They sent me a “deep regrets” letter that said I didn’t advance into the final round. You can see my entry here: http://www.shoplocal.us/grant/entrant/10199/Garden-Love.html

I had a hard time with the news. I wondered what I did wrong. But of course, there is no right or wrong here. Selecting a winner is a matter of opinion.

Why didn’t ShopLocal.us send us the links to all the entrants? I would have liked to see my competition. I was expecting the ShopLocal folks to email their “followers” the links of all the videos that had been submitted because it just makes sense. Don’t they want to promote local businesses? Isn’t that their mission? So why weren’t we given the information about all the other contenders?

When you put as much time and effort into creating a business, a reputation, a brand and a video that showcases those things, it’s hard to find out that it hasn’t made the cut. But it doesn’t mean giving up. I have to say, this is a humbling experience.

Life isn’t always about success. Often, it’s about how you handle the downs. I’ve got more than the usual quantity of failed attempts because I try so many different ways to be successful. I have been flexible and resilient, optimistic, positive, and when things don’t work out, I figure I’m building up to one huge joyful day when something I’ve done hits the mark. And if it never happens, then boy, will I feel joyful when I die. I know that logic doesn’t make everyone happy, but it’s my way of handling the crushing incessant and unrelenting pounding I’ve had for the past four years of trying to make a go of things.

When things are really bad, I console myself by knowing that no one is paying any attention to what I’m doing. So if I’m not gaining any traction, I’m also not embarrassed because I’m being ignored!

I joined the Live Your Legend blog challenge because I know I write more than anyone else out there! And that’s the thing about writers: they write even when there seems to be nothing to say. What happens is that you get better because you’re honing your craft, even on a bad day.

Live Your Legend (LYL) promotes Jonathan Fields’ RevolutionU program. I love it! It looks great. But I’m not ready to take the class because my book isn’t finished yet. What’s the point of trying to start a revolution when you don’t have your ducks lined up? I can tell I’m not ready. There’s value in being ready for a thing before you try.

My writers’ group loved the completely new first chapter of my book. They told me today that it was good writing, that they could visualize what I described, and that they wanted to know more. There was enough positive feedback to feel like it’s coming along. And that is what I want to focus on tonight before I go to sleep. One small grace from God is worth the world.

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Debates Work

I went to the debates tonight for my district. First Al Murasuchi debated David Hadley. My question, Do you support fracking? was one chosen by the moderator from the League of Women Voters. The answer couldn’t be more clear: Hadley says he’s leaving it up to the locals to decide (but for the most part, he isn’t opposed to it) and Muratsuchi is wholeheartedly against fracking. He explained that he was concerned about fracking’s use of huge amounts of water and dangerous chemicals entering our water table (benzene, a proven cancer-causing chemical being one).

When Sandra Fluke debated Ben Allen for the 26th District’s California Senate seat, they acted more like a married couple than competitors. But Allen handily beat Fluke on several points: experience, ability to work with Republicans, endorsements, and the most crucial of all, speaking to his audience like he knew us. Fluke kept pounding on her issue of standing up for women’s rights, while our audience mostly cares about money. I’m sorry, but Palos Verdes residents are by-and-large a conservative crowd who don’t care about the environment if it means paying more for something. They don’t believe in global warming. They’re ready to throw poor people under the bus. They’d rather give recent college grads low-paying jobs than raise the minimum wage for parents of poor families.

When Fluke said that protecting the environment was at the top of her concerns, I worried that she didn’t study the audience to know what ranked highest for them. Not that she should pander; just that she could have addressed our voters’ interests. Oh, and she said that when it comes to beefing up the economy, we have to find out how to create opportunities. Well, people don’t want to hear that you’re trying to find things out. They want to hear answers. HOW are you going to bring jobs?

But I have to say, NOBODY answered that question satisfactorily. Not even the Republicans. The race to the bottom is so fast, that no amount of lowering the tax rate is ever going to bring jobs back. This is a new economy, where you have to be more creative and nimble. I liked that a few candidates talked about fixing California’s water infrastructure. But tell me how you’re really going to bring jobs here or create them from scratch. What, specifically, is wrong with the current “regulations” that everyone complains are suffocating small businesses? Please, comment below if you have specific information.

When California’s 33rd District Elan Carr and Ted Lieu debated, I asked whether they would support an increase on taxes for the top 1%. Elan Carr thought that was a bad idea while Ted Lieu supports it. Lieu handily beat Carr, in my opinion, based on experience. He’s written legislation, gotten support across party lines, and passed that legislation time and again. Carr has no such experience in government. He’s mostly a pretty face spouting Republican rhetoric. I was embarrassed listening to his assessment of the problems in the Middle East. Then he “kissed up to” the Jewish people (of whom I am one) by saying that we have to back up Israel. But his policy, if he were President, would have been more of the same crap that we’re seeing from Obama who is essentially following in Bush’s footsteps.

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Don’t Hold Your Breath for Obama

A friend of mine wrote today that 99Rise is protesting Obama’s visit to Los Angeles to raise funds at a $32,500 per plate event. Anyone who knows me knows that there’s no love lost between me and Obama. It won’t surprise you when I say that I’ve given up any hope whatsoever of Obama using the bully pulpit to stand up against the privileged few who have that kind of money to throw around to push their agendas.

Asking Obama to stand up against money is like asking a heroin addict to stop going back for more as he’s driving to his dealer.

We have to stop supporting this behavior by NOT VOTING FOR CANDIDATES WHO WOULD RAISE FUNDS THIS WAY. And the only way that’s going to happen is if we revamp the way candidates campaign.

Make it stop.

And by that, I mean, restrict candidates’ use of funds for television ads. Restrict their spending for political pros (those campaign strategists who “work the system”). Reduce ad time to only two months prior to elections. Reduce paper flow to specific amounts of postage per candidate. Increase voter participation by giving volunteers tax credits for their time. Cap amounts given by corporations and individuals to the same amount: $250 per person. And have a website like Writeindependent.org for both federal and state elections. Have complete disclosure on issue ads, showing who funded them. And make sure there are no more PACs and SuperPACs, 527’s and 501c(4)’s without also letting us know who is funding them BEFORE elections are held.

Stop the revolving door between industry and government.

Use a split-line algorithm to divide up the states into congressional districts, instead of the current Gerry rigged system.

Set up a Citizen’s Congress that can pass, veto, or repeal legislation when our federal Congress refuses to follow the people’s wishes.

And finally, stop thinking Obama or some Republican presidential wannabe is going to do any of this for you. If you want to take charge of your government, start by getting involved.

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