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And I was there.


Don’t know where to go to vote?  Well, in Chicago, if you’re voting early, you have plenty of choices.  If you’re from anywhere else and are waiting till the big day, check out this awesome new Google map.  Those folks at Google, while they may end up taking over the world some day, are doing some great things.

Compliments of Co-op America, one of the rock star organizers of the Green Festival:

1. Tea — One of the fastest-growing segements of the Fair Trade market, US imports of Fair Trade tea increased an impressive 187 percent in 2005. Since then, herbal tea products like chamomile, hibiscus, peppermint, and spearmint have gained Fair Trade status. Tea lovers can find teas bagged, loose, and bottled.Look for black tea, oolong, chai, and more in the National Green Pages™

2. Chocolate — The average American eats 12 pounds of chocolate a year, supporting an industry that saw retail sales of more than $16 billion in 2007. If you’re among the 46 percent of Amreicans who say they can’t live without chocolate, you can avoid the well-documented problem of child slave labor in the cocoa industry, and direct your share of that $16 billion toward chocolate that helps communities and the environment.Look for candy bars, baking cocoa, and more in the National Green Pages™ »

3. Fresh Fruit — In Europe, where Fair Trade fruit has been available since the mid-1990s, Fair Trade bananas have reached a market share as high as 24 percent. In the US, Fair Trade tropical fruits like bananas, mangoes, and pineapples became available in 2004, and their availaibility is growing, especially in natural foods stores and food co-operatives. Find a store near you selling Fair Trade fruit by using TransFair USA’s store locator.
Sign our letter to supermarkets asking them to stock Fair Trade bananas »

4. Sugar — Phosphorus run-offs from the conventional sugar industry in Florida have devastaed the ecosystem of the Everglades, and the sugar lobby has worked aggressively to avoid responsibility. Sustainabile alternatives to sugar like locally grown, organic maple syrup or honey can help you avoid the problems in the sugar industry, as can Fair Trade Certified™ sugar, introduced to the US in 2005. Look for Turbinado, cane sugar, and more in the National Green Pages™ »

5. Rice — While most of the white and brown rice consumed in the US was grown on US farms, most aromatic long-grain rice comes to our tables from small-scale farms in Asia where it was harvested by hand. Workers on these farms often find themselves squeezed by middle merchants and sickened by pesticides; Fair Trade rice—most of which is also organic—protects both workers and the environment. Look for Jasimine, coral, Basmati, and more in the National Green Pages™ »

6. Vanilla — Working with a labor-intensive crop that yields a relatively low harvest, vanilla farmers are hard-hit when their market fluctuates, as it has since environmental disasters at key procuction centers in 000. TransFair USA began certifying vanilla in 2006, and new Fair Trade Certified™ vanilla ice cream from Ben & Jerry’s arrived in supermarkets in January 2007, joining their previous Fair Trade coffee and chocolate flavors. Look for whole beans and vanilla extracts in the National Green Pages™ »

7. Spices — The European Fair Trade certifying body (FLO) approved standards for Fair Trade spices in 2005. In Europe, products like ginger cookies and lemongrass soap have begun to appear with Fair Trade spices among their ingedients, as hopeful sign for the future of Fair Trade spices in the US. Look for ginger, nutmeg, pepper, and more in the National Green Pages™ »

8. Wine — Introduced to the US market in 2007, Fair Trade wine has been produced in South Africa since 2003, and in Chile and Argentina since 2004. The South African certification process requires vineyard workers to maintain a legally protected minimum 25 percent interest in the winery, in support of the South African government’s policies romoting equal land ownerships following Apartheid. Look for Merlot, Grenache, and more in the National Green Pages™ »

9. Olive oil — The Canaan Fair Trade Association uses the fair trade concept to empower marginalized Palestinian rural communities caught in conflict so they can sustain their livelihoods and culture. Farmers are guaranteed a minimum price, and receivea 10 percent Fair Trade premium above market price, plus a 10 percent organic premium above market price. Look for olive oil in the National Green Pages™ »

10. Sports balls — When the European Fair Trade certification body (FLO) created standards for soccer ball production in 2002, it was the first time a non-agricultural commodity had received certification. Since then, four Pakistani and one Thai producer have achieived certification, ensuring that no child lavor is involved, and that workers receive a living wage in a healthy work environment. Look for soccer balls, volley balls, and more, in the National Green Pages™ »

11. Arts and crafts — Producers of unique, handmade, artisanal Fair Trade products like jewelry, baskets, textiles, and other handicrafts belong to trade associations that screen for internationally recognized Fair Trade standards. For example, our ally the Fair Trade Federation links low-income producers with consumer marketers that pledge to: pay fair wages in the local context, support participatory workplaces, ensure environmental sustainability and public accountability, and suppply financial and technical support. Look for Fair Trade craft products in the National Green Pages™ »

12. Coffee — Available since the late 1990s, Fair Trade coffee is the most widespread and recognizable Fair Trade commodity. Currently, it is the fastest growing segment of the $11 billion US specialty coffee maket, and about 85 percent of Fair Trade coffee is also organic. Look for Fair Trade coffee in the National Green Pages™ »

Two steps forward:

Massachusetts made it clear that there is absolutely no way that their gay marriage laws are going to be messed with. In an astounding 151-45 vote, the Massachusetts Legislature proved once again, just like in 2004 , that gay marriage is a done deal. It was in November of 2003 when the Massachusetts Supreme Court ruled (in a 4-3 ruling) that denying gay couples the right to marriage (read: marriage, not civil union) was unconstitutional. Much to the dismay of then-governor, now Republican Presidential candidate Mitt Romney, the date was set for May 17, 2004 to begin allowing gay marriages. People came in droves, and it is said that about 9,000 gay and lesbian couples have married since. While a few states offer civil unions or similar rights, Massachusetts remains the only state in the country that grants the right of marriage.

After another loss, can the conservative right finally give up this obviously pointless battle? Let’s hope so.

Two GIANT leaps back:

Thanks to the Freedom of Information Act, a member of the Sunshine Project (a Biodefense Research organization) uncovered a 1994 proposal from the Ohio Air Force lab to create a “gay bomb” that contained a chemical that would cause someone to “become gay”.

(Now, before I go further, I use the term “become gay” in quotes because it is my staunch belief that we are who we are and we love who we love and that this is all naturally in us; there is no “becoming”, only discovering.)

Back to the story: The Air Force lab proposed that by creating a gay bomb, they could cause enemy army units to break down because all of the soldiers would become irresistibly attractive to one another. They proposed that this would cost a mere $7.5 million. Not only was this idea brought up in 1994, but the US military thought it was such a great idea that they also included it in a CD ROM in 2000 and submitted it to the National Academy of Sciences in 2002. I can only imagine the look on the faces of those at the National Academy of Sciences when they opened this letter up.

Let’s just go down the list of incredible implications that this idea brings on:

– Are they admitting that there is something biological to being gay? If so, then that would really hurt the conservatives and all of the ex-gay camps in the world.
– The idea that being gay makes you unable to perform your duties as a member of the military. Tell that to the 65,000 gays and lesbians serving in the National Guard and Reserves today.
– The idea that gay men are attracted to every single man that walks this earth. A common misnomer amongst the more close-minded folk. Logic would dictate that just as straight men are not attracted to every single woman they see, gay men are not attracted to every single man that walks the earth. Wouldn’t it be funny if they actually used this bomb on an army, and it didn’t work because nobody was attracted to anyone else in their units?

This is just one of the reasons that everyone else in the world thinks we’re crazy (well, except Albania).

This just in: Columbia has passed a bill that grants same-sex couples rights similar to straight couples. It’s not marriage, it’s not even civil unions, the rights are some-what limited, and you have to live together for 2 years before you get them, but it’s still better than what The Land of the Free is offering up. Columbia, for goodness sake!!!

Ah, the ever-popular first post. More to come soon.

What Is This Girl Talking About??