Friday, December 18, 2009


We celebrated the anniversary of the birthday of Mestre Irineu with 13 hours of song and dance and joy at the beautiful little Santo Daime church in Bujari. Just family and a few visitors, but a grand celebration for sure!

I think the videos and photos speak (and sing) for themselves.

Created with flickr slideshow.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

(Where I try to weave it all together after visiting and learning and having my heart captured by Acre.)

We are the peoples of the forest.
This home is our light.
Our spirit lives and shines in her.

Creed of the Peoples of the Forest

In the State of Acre, Brazil, I took a journey through time. Along the streets of the state capital Rio Branco, the past, present and future seemed to kaleidoscope and constellate as I strolled from the home of my friend Edson Alexandre to visit the Marina Silva Library of the Forest. The images that greeted me along the way and in the library told of a fascinating and still unfolding story.

My route carried me first through the Park of Maternity, a long green strip lining the banks of a city stream and stretching from the Children's Hospital to the central bus terminal. Along the way there are many playgrounds, places to sit, snack bars and public facilities such as small museums, artisan shops, restaurants and an amphitheater. This "urban renewal and beautification" is a reflection of the current wave of development and globalization that has been arriving in Amazônia.

As our planet heads toward 9 billion people and as modernization spreads out for the increasing numbers who can afford it, I imagined these scenes as emblematic of the new transfer of culture and information between the urban centers and the rural reaches.

I've made this walk several times before during earlier visits but this time it was the current batch of wall art and advertising signs that especially caught my attention. They all seemed to manifest the connection of this previously somewhere-near-nowhere and end-of-the-roads place to the rest of the world and, now, even to the universe.

Let's start with the local wall art and graffiti. It was similar to some of what I had seen in Sao Paulo but carried a different message. Here, the racial mix of the peoples of forest contain many lines -- Amazonian Indians, Africans and Europeans – in a uniquely Brazilian mixtura that asserts both a vision of a new planetary citizen and the dream of equality for all.

We are all equal.

The advertisements on billboards carried many versions of the themes of globalization and a world of interrelationship. Above one of the playgrounds, a public service announcement tells of the World Day of the struggle against AIDS. The words below the couple kissing say, "One of them has HIV. The other knows." And it continues with, "To live with AIDS is possible – Without prejudice."


Brazil is known for having one of the most successful anti-AIDS programs in the world which is based in large part on taking a frank and aggressive approach to what needs to be done. One example is the educational campaign about living with AIDS. And there's more. Brazil's threats to violate globally monopolistic patents and manufacture its own anti-HIV medicines has forced down the prices set by the multinational pharmaceutical corporations. And each year the Brazilian government distributes millions and millions of free condoms, especially at Carnival time. Indeed, there is even a rainforest brand of natural latex condoms which are a sustainable product of the Chico Mendes Extractive Reserve in Xapuri.

Development, of course, has many products. Crossing the parkway from the playground, we find an advertisement from NUTRISAL which is one of Brazil's large suppliers of cattle feed. About 80% the cleared Amazon lands are now occupied by cows and Brazil is the world's number one exporter of beef. The sign below says, "Together with the producer helping our State to grow." During the later 20th Century and continuing to present growth has indeed been the major theme as the frontier of the forest has been pushed back, especially for grazing cattle and growing soybeans. Today there are about 25 million people living in Amazônia and by some counts as many or perhaps even a greater number of cows.


But I was not really prepared for what I found next. My biggest surprise appeared just a few hundred meters down the street at the Marina Silva Library of the Forest. It is now adorned with a new icon – an astronaut!


"What in the world is going on here? Can all of this somehow be linked together?" is what I thought and I entered the library to find out.

An entrance foyer has a beautiful set of graphics introducing:

the peoples of the forest;


Amazonian biodiversity;


and the credo of the people who live here.

Our Home. We are peoples of the forest. We are persons, animals and trees living with the greatest biodiversity of the planet. We still seek to discover and discover the world that shelters us and surrounds us. This home is our light. Our spirit lives and shines in her.

The main foyer of the library tells the story of the hundred-plus years of globalization of the Amazon Basin. Development began in earnest with the rubber boom that supplied latex to the new motor-driven and steam-engine world of 20th Century industrialization. The wealth bubble that arrived in Brazil was so great that the rubber barons built a European-style Grand Opera House in the central Amazon at Manaus where the legends say that the money flowed so freely that cigars were lit with 100 dollar bills and dirty laundry was sent to Portugal for cleaning.

Rio Branco and Acre are located at Brazil's most western extension of the rubber trade.

The homes of rubber-tappers were built with a cluster of latex-gathering trails in the forest.

All the trails led to riverine settlements and trading posts, many of which remain to present times as villages and towns along the rivers.

But it all went bust. In one of the world's greatest acts of bio-piracy, seeds secretly taken from the Amazon were used to establish highly efficient and more competitive rubber plantations in the European colonies of Southeast Asia. As the Amazon bubble burst, the vast riverine and forest networks of workers, local bosses and traders were left behind to survive as best they could with a subsistence life of hunting, fishing, farming and gathering from the bounty of nature. In this fashion the serringeiros (rubber-tappers) became a new people of the forest.

The Brazilian rubber trade flourished again briefly during WWII when the Japanese controlled the plantations and sea routes of SE Asia but soon synthetic rubber emerged to largely replace the natural products.

The next great wave of development in the Amazon occurred under Brazil's era of military dictatorship (1964 -1985) when the decision was made to open the vast interior with roads and land grants under the slogan, "A Land without People for A People without Land." The offer of free land to small holders had a noble sound to it, but the greatest beneficiaries of the new access to the forest were logging, ranching and agribusiness interests who were dependent upon the new infrastructure of roads and ports connecting to commodity markets.

Unlike the previous rubber boom which depended on maintaining the forest habitat; this later development model was based on deforestation and dramatically altered the landscape and land uses of the Amazon basin. This set up an inevitable clash with the peoples of the forest that was fought across the last decades of the 20th Century. In Acre this conflict was especially intense (with many killings) and it triggered the Peoples of the Forest Movement in which Chico Mendes figured so prominently.

The infrastructure openning the interior of Brazil for development was a major program under the military dictatorship.

Cows started to replace trees across a vast area.

Chico Mendes and his serringeiro comrads countered with the People of the Forest Movement.

Taking on a central leadership role following the assassination of Wilson Pinheiro, Chico organized locally and traveled to the capital of Brasilia and to Washington, DC to forge a new save-the-rainforest alliance with national leaders and international environmental organizations. But it was his assassination on December 22, 1988 that truly galvanized the movement and began to bring results. The story is well-told in "The Burning Season", the widely read English language account written by the NY Times reporter Andrew Revkin.

Today, and for some years now, much has changed in Acre under the more progresive politics of the Workers Party. Indeed, Acre has generated a vision of sustainability offered by internationally known Senator Marina Silva and others. Marina was for 5 years the Federal Minister Environment but recently resigned from the Workers Party in order to promote a more advanced agenda for the 21st Century. She is expected to launch a bid for the Presidency in 2010 under the flag of the Green Party (more about Marina Silva here and here).

The broad result of years of collective effort has been the emergence of large-scale land-use planning and zoning in an effort to find a sustainable balance between nature and various cultural and technological approaches to using the land.


The new map of Acre contains now contains -- in addition to conventional delineations such as urban and agricultural areas -- Conservation Units, Extractive Reserves and Indigenous Lands and there are a host of progressive environmental laws, at least on the books if not always realized on the land. In other words, a grand and noble experiment has been set in motion to see if development in Acre and Amazônia can achieve a sustainable and harmonious future between humans and nature.

Going from these ground-level exhibits to the floors above for more of the story we go up a stairway that has been painted as if the forest floor, suspended with colorful rays of light and butterflies, and decorated with historical photos of from the life of Chico Mendes.



Walking up the stairs through history and butterflies, I imagined Acre as one of the places that the world will be watching, and this library as one the places where the people of the forest will be watching the world. Let's continue with the exhibits to catch a glimpse of how that might be.

On the second floor we find that the library is online and networked. The computers provide Internet access for public use and this is where I often upload posts for the blog. Some computers are even decorated with butterflies. On the computers' home pages the library and the very exhibits that I'm discussing here are online and available to the world.




The top floor is presently devoted to archives and several exhibits including:

Displays of the crafts of region's indigenous peoples

And wall art of serringeiro dwellings where one might find a poster of Mestre Irineu.


A current special exhibit (which had opened the day before my return to Rio Branco) featured "The Line of Tucum – the Craftworks of Amazônia" and displayed the forest products and activities of the ecological and spiritual community of Ceu do Juruá which is the birthplace of Padrinho Alfredo and one of the first places that I visited in Brazil.

Padrinho Alfredo's book, "Journeys to Juruá" sharing his thoughts and journal notes of several trips to Juruá was featured.


In the exhibition, the sustainable production processes that have been utilized are explained and the products were displayed and for sale. When I had visited the Juruá only six years ago things were just getting started and none of this had been set in place. And now, here it all was at the Library of the Forest.

Congratulations for making a great progress. PARABÉNS e VIVA! Ceu do Juruá.

Ceu do Juruá presents an important experiment seeking to discover forms of sustainable development for forest dependent riverine communities. Its example is now being networked around the world by many foreign visitors and, of course, via the Internet. This ability of the periphery to connect with th center also is a face of contemporary globalization.

Another example this new "information age sharing" appeared just across the salon where a group of young people were gathered, at the edge of the dugout canoe, to make a video of a science project with their cellular phones. And another one was using her mobile to video the display of indigenous artifacts.

At a recent conference on digital ecology that I attended before leaving São Paulo I had learned that soon the cell phone will be able to perform most of the functions of audio-visual equipment and a laptop computer – all hand held and connected to the Internet. This is an important reason that the Brazilian Federal Ministry of Culture has been working so diligently to promote digital inclusion and widespread broadband access, as well as liberal rules for peer-to-peer collaboration and content sharing.

In an interesting reversal of the eco-piracy of the rubber boom, Brazil has launched a free software movement to counter the monopolistic designs of Microsoft and other multinational corporations of the Information Age. Calling it a "peeracy", Brazil has been promoting a "conspiracy of collaboration" that is being supported at the highest governmental levels (watch this speech from "Pirate Lula") These young people in a library in Amazônia, far from the cosmopolitan centers of the great cities, soon will have a chance to be heard and to participate in world-changing processes.

All of which brings me back to the new astronaut icon that now stands over the entrance to the library.


Rio Branco is about to get a planetarium and observatory as part of a new center for instruction in the sciences of astronomy. Here's a slideshow of the library's featured exhibit…

and here's a short video illustrating the spectacular visual presentations that will arrive with the planetarium.

Does all this seem a bit strange for a small city deep in Amazônia? And does it seem even stranger to be the featured exhibit at The Library of the Forest? Why offer access to instruction in astronomical sciences to the "peoples of the forest"? Can we find any sense in this, a plausible "method to the madness?"

Here is a vision that connects -- satellite monitoring is the precise technology capable of saving the Amazon forest.

The great problem of achieving the goals of Federal environmental laws across a forest region the size of Western Europe is that it is very difficult to know what is going on let alone to police and enforce regulations promulgated far away in Brasilia. But in recent years the Ministry of Environment has been working in tandem with the Space Agency to achieve effective satellite monitoring of the forest. Not only has this has become a powerful tool in the fight against illegal logging but it promises to create a measurement system that would serve as the basis for payments to countries that help meet the challenge of global warming by reducing destruction and degradation of their forests. Indeed, this is the single exciting and positive thing now coming out of the talks in Copenhagen.

[UPADATE: 20 December 2009 Forest plan suffers setback at Copenhagen -- REDD is delayed for the next round of talks.]

Deforestation of tropical forests releases more emissions than the world's entire transportation sector of cars, busses and trucks. And Brazil has been one of the world's leading contributors to the problem. One of the technologically most cost-effective means of quickly reducing global carbon emissions is to pay countries like Brazil for preserving the ecosystem services provided by their standing forests. Achieving this depends on two things: first, Brazil and others must show the capacity to actually protect the forests; and, second, the developed world that will benefit greatly from the global reductions of emissions will have to pay for the "lost economic opportunities" of not following the damaging-but-profitable deforestation ways that countries like the US used to promote their own development.

This is the basis for the system known as REDD (Reduduced Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation) and it promises to turn vital ecosystem functions such carbon sequestration that were once thought of as "free services" into highly valued commodities that can have economic standing as do other "commodities." Today, the world buys wood, soybeans and beef from Brazil. It is more than appropriate to include carbon sequestration in the list. Indeed it is a global necessity.

[UPDATE: Mongabay reports that the Moore Foundation is teaming with Google Earth to produce a high powered platform for monitoring the Andes and the Amazon. This is exciting. Read more about it with more backgound here.]

As forest protection is economically "incentivized," Brazil's space agency can provide the tools if there is the political will to use them. Indeed, many interesting developments and possibilities provided by satellite and information age technologies offer the promise of tying it all together into more sustainable configuration of planning, development and enforcement in the Brazil's interior. Thus, the meme "digital ecology" is emerging not only as a cyber jargon for online networking but as a means for creating concrete and more-than-virtual value for on-the-ground places such as forests.

In Brazil, where global warming was barely on the public agenda only a year ago, a new national political debate about sustainable development has emerged along with a growing awareness of global interrelatedness at every level – cultural, economical, ecological and political. Finding the sustainable balance among the many contradictory and opposing forces has already emerged as a major theme of the 2010 presidential election in Brazil and has erupted at Copenhagen.

I have no "crystal ball" to see the future but one thing does seem certain. The pace of change and development is moving faster and faster. Today, the rainbows and satellites are rising above the homes of Rio Branco and across Amazônia.


The 21st Century is about information. And the information is making us aware of our common planetary predicament. It is also giving us unparalled opportunities to participate in creating the future of life on earth. Hopefully, this future will be carried forth by a WE which includes the people who give voice to the places that sustain us all. We have the tools for this. Now, let's see if we can mobilize the political will to use them.

Brazil Dam Protest

Thursday, December 03, 2009


is back on the web in full 20 minute edition with subtitles in English. It's part of an online film competition. To see it and vote CLICK HERE and then click on ASSISTA to get the film rolling. Voting is simple. Just choose the number of stars at the bottom of the video frame.

You can get a sense of it from this re-post from October 2009


That's the way we say "CONGRATULATIONS" in Brazil. The ovations and praises are for Petra Costa and her colleagues who have given us a tender tale of love nurtured and seasoned across more than 60 years by Gabriel and Vera. OLHOS DE RESSACA (Undertow Eyes) has won the "Best Short Film" award in Rio's Film Festival.

Directed by Petra Costa, Ava Rocha Montage, Eryk Rocha Photography, and Edson Secco Audio Design

Vera and Gabriel have been married for sixty years. In "Undertow Eyes" they wander about their own history: the first flirtations, the birth of children, life and aging. In this recollection, archival footage of family mingle with images of the present, weaving an emotional and dreamlike universe that is both delicate and delicious.

20 minutes of viewing left me more than satisfied. It filled my heart with a warm glow. Watch for it as it makes its way to the States and Abroad.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009


That's how the Lakota Indians say All My Relations or We are All Related.

And here's how the scientists say We Are All All Connected.

Soon, the Internet alone is expected to require nearly half of the electric energy generated on earth.

Dito Kayapo, of the indigenous Kayapo tribe, works with his laptop during a public hearing at the Commission of Human Rights of the Federal Senate in Brasilia, Wednesday, Dec. 2, 2009. Native communities of the Amazon rain forest are protesting the Brazilian government's decision to build the massive hydroelectric Belo Monte dam in the Xingu River.

Brazil Dam Protest
(AP Photo/Eraldo Peres)

Many Paths. One Truth.

We are all connected.


Yup, tomorrow I'll be heading back to my forest home in rural Acre, Brazil where my work station looks like this and there's no Internet connection.

The view from my window. 5:22 pm. Capixaba - Acre - Brasil

I'm excited about returning to be with loved ones and once again to be close to the forest. Of course, I'll be making photos and posting reports when I get online in town but less fequently. First, I'll be matando as saudades (killing the homesickness) and sharing a lot of hugs. And then the posts will return.

Blessings to all,


[update: sullivan has a pretty sober follow-up "morning after" analysis offering qualified support and an interesting speculation. It should be weighed with what is below.]

From the blog of Andrew Sullivan:

Land Of The Afraid

A commenter responds to Sullivan:

This is the most salient thing you've written in some time.

"The way our politics of fear is now constructed, there is no limit to the costs involved in nation-building in every conceivable failed state that could be a safe harbor for Jihadists. We cannot have the adult conversation about how much terrorist damage the US should tolerate compared with the costs of trying to control this phenomenon at its source. We are not mature enough as a country to have that conversation. And Obama has decided it isn't worth confronting that question now."

This is indeed what this is all about. To avoid a potential terrorist attack we are willing to invade countries and conduct wars to the end of time, if necessary. We are a country of cowards. And we're not too bright, either.

Not a good combination of traits. And soon enough we'll be bankrupt. But it all goes to the point that we'd rather ravage the armed forces and bankrupt the nation than risk a bomb going off in a rail station in Philadelphia. We no longer are in a state where we can guarantee 100% that we can't get hit by a terrorist. That world doesn't exist anymore. The sooner we wrap our tiny little heads and hearts around that notion the better off we'll all be.


Cowardice seems as too strong a charge as it would take deep courage to admit to this. But, it's also true that (thank God) I'm not a civilian facing bombs falling on me and mine. Nor, do I have the responsibility of managing an empire in decline.

Perhaps all that can be said follows a line from the play, "The Man From La Mancha" when Poncho says to Don Quixote, "When the glass and the rock decide to fight, I don't know who is right but I'm sure that it is not going to be good for the glass."



The Climate Treaty process has begun at Copenhagen where at this time of year, as Bill McKibben notes, there is an average of 45 minutes of sunlight per day. Here is his full assessment.

via Yale e360

As the World Waits on the U.S., a Sense of Déjà Vu in Denmark?

Twelve years ago in Kyoto, the world was poised to act on a climate treaty but looked for a clear signal from the United States. Now, with the Copenhagen talks set to begin, the outcome once again hinges on what the U.S. is prepared to do.

by bill mckibben

President Obama took much of the drama out of the Copenhagen talks earlier this month when he and other world leaders announced that there’d be no treaty at the end — in essence, they said, we’ll wait for the U.S. Senate. Still, you can’t call off the party entirely, and so the planet’s climate scientists, bureaucrats, activists, skeptics and journalists will still descend on the Danish capital in a few days for a fortnight of meeting, marching, propounding, denying, and most of all spinning.

Almost all of what happens will be murky (and not just because Copenhagen in December averages 45 minutes of sunlight daily). Without the focus provided by the need to draw up a real document, much of the tension may go out of the proceedings — minus a deadline it’s hard to push to resolution on anything. And yet it’s the fate of the world being discussed: as British negotiator Ed Miliband put it, “Bretton Woods plus Yalta multiplied by Reykjavik.” We’ll see some kind of paper signed, but it won’t commit anyone to much of anything — the talks will lurch forward into next year. Most of what occurs in Denmark will be shadow boxing, feeling each other out.

And so here are a few of the places that bear watching, to see if some kind of consensus develops over the course of the proceedings:

What’s the science really saying? For almost five years, the consensus position of those who cared about producing a treaty has been that we’re struggling to avoid a temperature rise greater than two degrees, and that to do that we’ll need to limit atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide to less than 450 parts per million. These sound like the kind of eye-glazing numbers that journalists try to avoid — but the vast and slow-moving bureaucracy of the climate negotiations process has adopted them as the goal, and most of the proposals on the table are geared to reaching (or plausibly approaching) those targets.

The problem is, that’s not good science any more. After the rapid melt of Arctic sea ice in the summer of 2007, researchers recalibrated. A NASA team said that the right figure is 350 — that anything more is not compatible with “the planet on which # civilization developed and to which life on earth is adapted.” That assertion has been backed up by no less than Rajendra Pachauri, the UN’s chief scientist, who has gotten grief for saying — most recently in an interview with Yale Environment 360 — that 350 is where we need to go. Ninety-two of the poorest nations on Earth have officially signed on to that target, and at the moment it’s still in the negotiating text, albeit in a preamble about a “shared vision” for the future.

The problem, of course, is that meeting a 350 target goes far beyond anything the Obama administration, much less the Senate, or the Chinese, or many of the other big players, are currently contemplating. We now know that Obama will arrive on Dec. 9 en route to Oslo, and that he will offer roughly a 17 percent cut in 2005 emissions levels by 2020. That would be about a zero percent cut from 1990 levels; in other words, not very ambitious — the absolute minimum for saving face, but not enough to save the world.

Going further would be fundamentally disruptive — it would mean not incremental change but a wartime footing. So the question of which science you embrace is really a proxy for how much you’re willing to do. And in this case “political realists” are the opposite of “scientific realists.” If you’re figuring the odds, there will more politicians than scientists on hand in Copenhagen.

# How tough will the developing countries be? Since Obama’s announcement that he will go to Copenhagen robbed journalists of their first cliffhanger, the next is likely to be whether the most vulnerable nations walk out on the proceedings. Here’s Mohammed Nasheed, president of the Maldives, whose country sets aside money in its budget each year in case it needs to buy a new homeland when its current one sinks beneath the waves, talking about what a 2 degree Celsius temperature increase would mean: “At two degrees we would lose the coral reefs. At 2 degrees we would melt Greenland. At 2 degrees my country would not survive.” He called the proposals from the big players a “suicide pact” and pledged to try and stop them. “As a president I cannot accept this. As a person I cannot accept this. I refuse to believe that it is too late, and that we cannot do anything about it.”

Nasheed rallied a dozen of the most vulnerable nations earlier this month at a summit in his capital of Male. And virtually every poor nation is starting to realize how badly they’re going to be hit by * climate change: The vulnerability of Andean glaciers, Asian monsoons, African rainfall patterns become clearer with each passing year. But the pressure from the rich nations — and indeed from some of the big environmental groups — not to be a skunk at the garden party will be intense. And it will come with sums of money attached — the kind of money that traditionally has been enough to buy off the anger of the poor world.

* Which leads to the next obvious question — just how much money will be on the table? The sums required are staggering. The World Bank recently estimated that keeping temperature rise to 2 degrees Celsius would mean spending $140 to $675 billion a year in the developing countries — which, after all, will only be developing if they keep figuring out how to acquire more energy. And adaptation — dealing with the effects of the climate change we can’t prevent — would run another $75 billion a year (an estimate that other research paints as extremely optimistic).

Sums like that are not on offer. The Europeans have talked about a deal in the range of $100 billion a year, but that depends on the Americans ponying up, and so far the U.S. has been as coy about its willingness to pay as about its willingness to rein in emissions. Everyone outside the U.S. knows that this is — overwhelmingly — a problem we’ve caused; since the carbon molecule has a residence time of over a century in the atmosphere, it will be the decades before the Chinese, despite their vastly larger numbers, are as responsible for climate change as Americans. But if Obama puts a realistic number on the table, Senator James Inhofe (R-Armageddon) will be on hand to take it off. (Inhofe originally announced he was going to Denmark as a “one-man truth squad,” but then added John Barasso (R-WY) and “a secret person” to his delegation). In our poisonous politics, the idea of the U.S. meeting anything like its moral obligation seems small — and without that, the politics gets harder for everyone else in the world.

Against this backdrop, there’s a lot of important and less flashy stuff that has to move forward if we’re ever going to reach an agreement. Nations with large swaths of forest, for instance, seem willing to make a deal to stop their destruction. It’s cheap compared with the other steps we’ll need to take, so it will probably happen — though the devil is deeply in the details. The same with credits for farmers for keeping carbon in the soil — it could be a big help, or a loophole large enough to drive an endless fleet of combines through.

And then there are the plumbing questions. How do you monitor and then enforce any agreement? How do you draw something up that doesn’t require treaty approval by the U.S. Senate (no one thinks there are 67 votes for a real climate policy)? How do you give credit for actions already taken? How do you keep carbon trading from turning into one more Wall Street boondoggle?

One thing will surely be tested: whether civil society is capable of really pushing the process. Activists will be descending from all directions, but the deck is stacked against them: The conference center, where the media will be mostly cooped up, is miles from town. And the environmentalists themselves are deeply split. There are groups that, for all intents and purposes, are part of the negotiations — whose experts have spent careers working on one part of the treaty or another, and are deeply invested in its success. There are less formal groups — many of them veterans of the anti-globalization movement — determined to shut down the whole process. They won’t succeed, but it’s completely conceivable that tear gas will drift across the Radhuspladsen before the month is out. And there are thousands of young people, about to be disillusioned by their first exposure to big time power politics.

Having been to Kyoto (which at least took place in the daylight) there’s a sense of overwhelming déjà vu as I head toward Denmark. There, too, most of the world was lined up to do something, but waiting on a signal from the U.S., whose negotiators had been doing its best to weaken the treaty in hopes it might pass Senate muster. There was the same will-he-come anxiety, then centered on Al Gore, who flew in at the last minute to offer some small concessions and let the conference proceed. In those days China hadn’t yet emerged as a huge carbon source. In those days the Arctic hadn’t yet melted. But in those days, as in this one, everyone was waiting on the U.S.


OBAMA Afgahnistan Speech
Photo via The Daily Dish

Respectfully, I disagree!

You can read all about it elsewhere. For myself, it simply feels necessary to state publicly that I am opposed to this decision. But I will surely pray for the American people and soldiers who must carry the burdens set for them by their leaders.

Sunday, November 29, 2009



In the Santo Daime tradition we like to believe that happiness -- like love and peace and health -- is something to be made through practice. The festas are spiritual practices, work-parties of joy. This weekend provided the opportunity to celebrate, at one of the several São Paulo Daime centers, the birthday of Reino do Sol's much-loved guiding teacher, Gê Marques.

It arrived at the end, but let's begin this post with the party...

Here are some excerpts from the spiritual party that preceded the birthday celebration. The hymns are from the Hinario, Primeiro Lição (First Lesson) of Gê.

And here's the slideshow.





José Murilo
José Murilo at the International Seminar of the Brazilian Digital Culture Forum

David Sasaki reports on Digital Culture

Via el oso


by David Sasaki

What do ministers of culture do? This was the question asked by Slate political reporter Chris Beam back in 2007 when, in the same week, commandos raided the Iraqi culture minister’s house to arrest him for a 2005 assassination attempt on a fellow politician. Beam’s general conclusion: “They oversee grants for the arts, fund public broadcasting, support museums, and generally seek to preserve and promote national identity.” He also notes (citing the culture ministries of Britain, Canada, Japan, France, and Brazil) that the specific responsibilities of each ministry can vary widely.

Europeans like to poke fun at the United States for not having a minister of culture. When one European asked Yahoo! Answerswhy there is no Ministry of Culture in the USA,” among the answers:

What culture? Gun carrying, money loving, whilst education and art loathing? That is the culture promoted by the Media in the USA. It’s not worth wasting money on building a ministry to represent that.

Because there is no culture in US ;)

Our minister of Culture is named Michael Savage.

But there are also some worthwhile explanations:

Because we are not a censored or closed society. Americas is too diverse to be represented by one person.

The government is not allowed to manipluate our culture, our culture is supposed to manipulate the government.

In fact, Beam tells us, there have been several attempts throughout the brief history of the United States to form some equivalent of a ministry of culture:

In 1859, President James Buchanan appointed a National Arts Commission, but it disbanded after two years. Teddy Roosevelt made a similar attempt 50 years later, and in 1937, during a fit of New Deal-fueled government expansion, a New York congressman introduced legislation to create a Department of Science, Art, and Literature, but the proposal never got beyond committee. Subsequent efforts to create a centralized cultural agency were hampered at least in part by negative associations with Nazi propaganda and “cultural planning” in the USSR.


André Malraux, an eccentric French high society novelist who was arrested in his early 20’s for attempting to remove bas-reliefs from a temple he discovered in the Cambodian jungle is commonly cited as the world’s first minister of culture, serving under Charles de Gaulle beginning in 1959. Writes Beam: he “pushed for what he called the ‘democratization of culture’ – making the arts available to everyone, not just the elite.”

Ministries of culture quickly spread throughout the world as a way for federal governments to promote national identity. This was especially important in post-colonial countries. As time went on they increasingly focused their efforts less on democratizing culture, however, and more on promoting just a few cultural superstars to attract international attention and compete on the stage of cultural globalization.

A notable and welcome exception to this trend is Gilberto Gil, a key figure in the Música Popular Brasileira and Tropicalismo movements of the 1960s, who served as Brazil’s Minister of Culture from 2003 to 2008 under Lula da Silva. Gil’s political philosophy of Tropicalismo was a natural fit to the emerging Free Culture movement of the internet generation; both celebrate a culture of remix, collaboration, and globalism. During his five years in office Gil redefined the role of the ministry of culture. Rather than perpetuating cultural pedigree, Gil hired self-declared hippie and former music producer Claudio Padro as his “digital policy coordinator” and started the Cultural Hotspots program to encourage cultural production using open-source tools in over 600 communities across the country. “We are not here to compete, we are here to share,” was a defining slogan of Gil’s mission and perspective.

My good friend Jose Murilo has been involved in several of these projects from the outset. Here he is with a youth theater group in Varjão do Torto, a low income community on the outskirts of Brasília, Brazil’s capital:

jose murilo

Today Jose Murilo is the Digital Culture Coordinator at the Brazilian Ministry of Culture and he has been largely responsible for creating the Brazilian Digital Culture Forum as a way to open up the ministry’s policy formulation to all Brazilians who wish to participate. Here he is describing the process at the recent Free Culture Forum in Barcelona:


Over the past few months I have been researching how governments use digital media tools to encourage more civic engagement, and how citizens use digital media tools to hold their governments accountable. What I have found, like Anil Dash, is that many governments are doing a pretty good job using digital media to spread awareness about their own initiatives, but not a very good job at taking advantage of digital media to listen to the valuable contributions that citizens can add to make better policy. There are some exceptions. (Check out Tiago Peixoto’s map of participatory budgeting projects.) For example, the FCC has implemented an Ideascale site to solicit ideas for their upcoming National Broadband Plan. But so far the leading idea has only received 221 votes and 7 comments. Out of a country of more than 300 million people.

Jose Murilo has realized that you must go beyond just putting up a website if you want to really foster more civic engagement in national policy creation. And so, in addition to the Cultura Digital platform (the best implementation of BuddyPress that I have seen), the Ministry of Culture has also been inviting diverse players in Brazil’s digital culture community to live events to offer their feedback on the ministry’s goals, activities, and strategies.

I was invited to present at last week’s Digital Culture Forum at the beautiful Cinemateca Braseilera. (Maybe the best conference venue I’ve seen.) I was impressed by the level of engagement of everyone present. While there was a lot of enthusiasm for the ministry’s initiative, it was clear that no one was going to let them get off the hook without answering tough questions. It was also clear that the Ministry of Culture is still limited in its ability to effect wider change regarding the use of open source software and open formats in government offices.

It was one of those weeks that made me proud to be involved in this whole community/movement/shared vision … whatever you want to call it. The word “utopianism” has been frequently applied of late to those of us working on projects that use digital media to promote participation and civic engagement. It’s an easy criticism to make for those who don’t like to get involved.

ISUMMIT06 015 - iPhoto Edited.jpg

Jose Murilo and I in 2006

cultura digital 2009

Jose Murilo and I in 2009

Murilo and I first met in person three and a half years ago at the first iCommons Summit in Rio de Janeiro. This is before Rising Voices got its start and before the Ministry of Culture even had a ‘digital culture coordinator.” Three and a half years is such a short amount of time and yet it is hard to keep track of all that has happened since our enthusiastic talks while driving through Rio’s concrete jungle about digital ecology.

I can’t wait to see what happens over the next three and a half years.


More photos...

Thursday, November 26, 2009


A perfect Thanksgiving announcement. Oregon Santo Daime is free. The government will not appeal. The US Department of Justice has decided NOT to challenge the court decision that gave religious freedom to the Santo Daime churches of Oregon.

Here is the statement from the Legal Victory Committee of the Santo Daime Churches in Oregon:

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

A legal update:

It has been some time since we have sent a report of our legal progress to our community. We are pleased and honored to be writing now with good news.

As we know, in March of this year the Oregon Santo Daime churches prevailed in federal district court in our lawsuit against the Department of Justice. The result of the judge's decision is that our right to legally practice our religion was affirmed under federal law.

The government then chose to appeal their loss and informed us of this in August.

Since that time, our lawyer Roy Haber has worked brilliantly and tirelessly to present our perspective to decision makers in the DOJ, seeking to bring what we knew was the Obama administration's more humane and rational sensibility to bear on the decision to appeal, which was a hold-over from the previous administration.

This week we took a very important step towards being completely free to practice our religion without any potential government interference.

The Department of Justice has explicitly agreed not to challenge the federal court ruling that the Oregon Churches may import Daime and ingest it as the sacrament at our services.

This is the basic and most important part of the judge's decision, as it solidifies our legal status and protects our rights in the future. This a great victory for all of us.

We are still negotiating with the government about a few items regarding oversight, but it looks as if we will be able to settle all of this out of court.

We would like to recognize our lawyer Roy Haber for his steadfast dedication and commitment to our cause. This moment is the direct result of the strategy that he led us to adopt, and the victory we have gained is exactly as he planned for and that we had faith would occur.

We would also like to thank all of you who have supported this process with your prayers and your contributions, and most importantly with your willingness to join us in the union that has made us worthy of this victory.

Thank you for your support up until now. And we have many bills still to pay. It is clear to us that this legal effort centered in Oregon is only the first of many steps in our unified ongoing effort.

Please be inspired to send tax deductible contributions to:

PO Box 911
Ashland Oregon

Viva the Liberation of Santo Daime!


The legal victory committee for the Santo Daime churches of Oregon

we reflect on the world and ask that everyone may someday have what today belongs only to some.

Photographer Collection: David Guttenfelder in Afghanistan
Click on any photo to see its description

With his bloodless and profound photo essay on the people and place of the war now about to escalate in Afghanistan David Guttenfelder has touched my soul. I know that few people will follow a link to a suggested photo collection so I have assembled it here. But I urge you to see the photos in larger display and peruse the comments at

I look at the photos and try to wrap my mind around what has been happening. I wonder that people live and wage war in such a place. I wonder that other countries before and the US now have spent a fortune in money and human lives, for what? I wonder that this place that seems as the end of the world has so much effect upon the world. I wonder how our predicament can be changed for the benefit of all?

"For the past seven years, David Guttenfelder has witnessed and documented the changing landscape of Afghanistan. Although mostly embedded with coalition troops, he has also covered the presidential elections, bodybuilders in Kabul, the state of Afghan prisons and daily life in the country. Guttenfelder is the chief Asia photographer for The Associated Press and over the past seven years has offered the general public a close-up, intimate look at the lives of troops fighting in the mountains and remote regions of Afghanistan."

Monday, November 23, 2009


Continue on to Part 2 and Part 3.

I deep bow of gratitude to Lian and Paul and Suely for guiding my path toward these videos.



Last Spring Newsweek magazine described emerging Brazil as The Crafty Superpower. Lula's secret seems to be offering cordiality rather than conflict and welcome rather than war. Now, he's offering it to the Middle East.

[Update November 25 - More from Alexei Barrionuevo and from José Wilson Miranda who asserts that the Obama's honeymoon in Brazil is over. ]

Brazil’s President Elbows U.S. on the Diplomatic Stage

November 23, 2009 via the NY Times


BRASÍLIA — Brazil’s ambitions to be a more important player on the global diplomatic stage are crashing headlong into the efforts of the United States and other Western powers to rein in Iran’s nuclear arms program.

Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, Brazil’s president, is set to receive Iran’s president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, here on Monday in his first state visit to Brazil. The visit is part of a larger push by Mr. da Silva to wade into the seemingly intractable world of Middle East politics, and follows visits in the last two weeks by Israel’s president, Shimon Peres, and Mahmoud Abbas, president of the Palestinian Authority.

But the visit is drawing criticism from lawmakers and former diplomats here and in the United States, who say it could undercut Western efforts to press Iran on its nuclear program, and consequently chill Brazil’s relations with the United States and damage its growing reputation as a global power.

Brazilian officials say the goal of the visit is to strengthen commercial ties between the two countries and help bring peace to the Middle East.

“This is part of Brazil projecting its role and strength as a global player,” said Michael Shifter, vice president of the Inter-American Dialogue, a policy research group in Washington. “And part of this has to do with Brazil sending a message to Washington that it will deal whomever it wants to deal with.”

And beyond the nuclear standoff, critics in Brazil and the United States say Mr. da Silva’s reception legitimizes Mr. Ahmadinejad just five months after what most of the world sees as his fraudulent re-election, followed by a brutal crackdown on dissent.

“This state visit is a gross error, a terrible mistake,” said Representative Eliot L. Engel, Democrat of New York, chairman of the House Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere. “He is illegitimate with his own people, and Brazil is now going to give him the air of legitimacy at a time when the world is trying to figure out how to prevent Iran from having nuclear weapons. It makes no sense to me, and it tarnishes the image of Brazil, quite frankly.”

Relations between the United States and Brazil were already tense after Mr. da Silva’s government criticized the United States over its handling of the crisis in Honduras and increasing its military presence in Colombia.

But Mr. da Silva’s overture to Iran is consistent with President Obama’s policy of engagement, and the Obama administration says it is optimistic that the meeting will not damage and at best could reinforce the efforts already under way by Washington and European powers to deal with Iran.

“We would hope that all our friends and allies would understand that this is really a critical moment for Iran itself,” Ian C. Kelly, a State Department spokesman, said Thursday. “We would hope that Brazil would play a constructive role in trying to get Iran to do the right thing and fulfill its international obligations.”

Celso Amorim, Brazil’s foreign minister, said Mr. da Silva was encouraged by Western leaders, including President Obama, to seek a “direct and open dialogue” with Iran, in particular on the nuclear issue.

“It was said and reiterated that it was in the interest of Western nations that Brazil has a good interface with Iran,” Mr. Amorim said in an interview.

Brazilian officials said Mr. da Silva would try to sell Iran on the benefits of a Brazilian-style nuclear program, which is constitutionally limited to civilian use.

But Mr. Amorim made clear that Brazil did not see its role as carrying water for the proposed agreement for Iran to export most of its enriched uranium for processing into nuclear fuel.

“We are not here to convince Iran to accept some proposal,” he said. “Brazil is interested in peace.”

Since his election in 2002, Mr. da Silva has sought to cement Brazil’s dominance as Latin America’s economic and diplomatic leader, using its economic might to raise Brazil’s foreign-policy profile.

His government has also lobbied for a permanent seat on the United Nations Security Council and has become a respected voice in world climate change discussions. In recent months, he has added Middle Eastern diplomacy to his portfolio.

Brazil is no stranger to the region. Its national oil company, Petrobras, is helping Iran develop its oil fields and the two countries did about $2 billion in trade in 2007, mostly in Brazilian exports of food to Iran, Mr. Amorim said.

Brazil joined United Nations peacekeeping missions in Egypt after the 1956 Suez Crisis and has been involved in the Middle East ever since, said David Fleischer, a political science professor at the University of Brasília.

“Brazil is just starting to realize the weight it has,” Mr. Amorim said. “It wasn’t Brazil that went looking for the Middle East, it was the Middle East that went looking for Brazil.”

Brazilian officials say the holy grail of Mr. da Silva’s Middle Eastern initiative is to improve relations between Israel and the Palestinians, and they see Iran as a key player in resolving the conflict.

Success in this endeavor “would really put Brazil on the map and might put Lula in line for the Nobel Prize,” Mr. Fleischer said.

But it would have been difficult to have chosen a more formidable or polarizing quest. Many critics do not see Mr. Ahmadinejad — who has denied the Holocaust, called for Israel to be wiped off the map and backs anti-Israel militias — as a constructive force in the Middle East.

More than 1,500 people protested his visit this month in São Paulo, home to Brazil’s largest Jewish community, and a smaller protest took place on Sunday in Rio de Janeiro. Another is planned for Brasília on Monday.

It is not only the Israeli side that is leery of Mr. Ahmadinejad. Mr. Abbas, the Palestinian leader, said after meeting Mr. da Silva in Brazil on Friday that he had asked him to urge Iran to end its support for Hamas, the radical Islamist movement that controls Gaza.

But both Mr. Abbas and Mr. Perez urged Mr. da Silva to join the Middle East peace process. “Brazil, as an important country, and President Lula, as a respected leader, can play an important role,” Mr. Abbas told the newspaper Folha de São Paulo.

Some political analysts and American officials say that in his effort to burnish his credentials as a statesman, Mr. da Silva is marching to his own drummer rather than cooperating with allies to achieve larger geopolitical goals.

“As Brazil becomes more relevant on climate change and in world economic forums it is not going to be able to so openly criticize or be antagonistic with other major powers without paying a political price for it,” said Christopher Garman, an analyst with Eurasia Group, a political risk consultancy in New York. “Brazilian policy makers will no longer be able to have their cake and eat it too.”

But a diplomatic success would go a long way toward muting the criticism.

“Brazil should expect criticism for hosting Ahmadinejad to be sure,” said Julia E. Sweig, a Latin America expert at the Council on Foreign Relations. “But if it can play a moderating role — and clearly Washington is hoping as much — on the nuclear issue, it can surely deal with the critics.”

Mery Galanternick contributed reporting from Rio de Janeiro.


A new report for the World Watch Institute, by Robert Goodland, former environmental adviser to the World Bank, and Jeff Anhang, environmental specialist at the World Bank Group’s International Finance Corp., estimates that 51 percent of GHGs come from meat eating, when the entire life cycle and supply chain of the livestock industry is taken into consideration.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Don Pablo Amaringo 1943 - 2009

Famed Peruvan curandero and painter of ayahuasca visions Pablo Amaringo has passed from this earthly plane. He was born in 1943 in Puerto Libertad, in the Peruvian Amazon region. He was ten years old when he first took ayahuasca--a visionary brew used in shamanism, made from the plants Banisteriopsis caapi (yagé) and Psychotria viridis (chacruna). A severe heart illness--and the magical treatment of this via ayahuasca--led Pablo toward the life of a shaman, and he eventually became a powerful curandero--learning the icaros, or healing songs that the ayahuasca brew taught him.

In 1977, Pablo abandoned his vocation as a shaman, and became a painter and art instructor at his Usko-Ayar school, where there is no charge for the students to learn painting from Pablo. The school is dependent on donations. For more information on how to help this wonderful project go to

Here are a few of Amaringo's spectacular paintings,







Via Sertaobras, here is a slideshow from a recent visit to his school in Pucallpa, Peru.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Brazil celebrates 45% reduction in Amazon deforestation

Deforestation near Capixaba, Acre, Brazil

A police offensive and the global economic crisis have combined to produce the largest fall in more than 20 years

Tom Phillips in Rio de Janeiro for the Guardian UK

Go to Original Article

The Brazilian government yesterday announced a "historic" drop in the deforestation of the Amazon, weeks before world leaders meet in Copenhagen for climate change talks.

Brazilian authorities said that between August 2008 and July this year, deforestation in the world's largest tropical rainforest fell by the largest amount in more than 20 years, dropping by 45% from nearly 13,000 square kilometres to around 7,000 square kilometres (5,000 square miles to 2,700 square miles).

"It is an excellent figure – a historic result," the environment minister, Carlos Minc, said in the capital, Brasilia.

"It is a substantial drop," said the head of Brazil's Space Institute, Gilberto Câmara, according to the government news provider Agência Brasil. He claimed it was the most significant cut in deforestation since his institute started monitoring rainforest destruction with satellite technology in 1988.

"This is a very happy moment – to note that the efforts of Brazilian society to contain the deforestation of the Amazon have reached a very satisfactory level."

The new figures, reportedly rushed out before the Copenhagen talks, come days after Brazil announced ambitious plans to cut carbon emissions by 2020, partly by continuing to battle illegal deforestation.

This week, President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva's chief of staff, Dilma Rousseff, said her country would take proposals for voluntary reductions of 38-42% by 2020 to the Copenhagen summit. Britain's prime-minister, Gordon Brown, wrote to Brazil's president this week to congratulate him on the move.

Environmentalists welcomed the news of a drop in rainforest destruction, with Greenpeace's Amazon director, Paulo Adario, claiming that, "whenever the government followed the law, deforestation fell". But he warned: "We must stay alert so that this falling trend becomes consolidated and allows us to achieve the dream of zero deforestation in the Amazon. It is an important drop – but a lot of forest is still coming down."

Rousseff said the figures showed the government had "done its homework" in order to combat illegal rainforest destruction. She pointed to federal police raids on illegal logging operations across the Amazon region, and government attempts to provide economic alternatives to destruction. Since February 2008 the government has been waging an "unprecedented" campaign against the loggers, dispatching hundreds of heavily armed agents to remote rainforest towns where destruction was out of control.

But, in a statement, Greenpeace activists in Brazil said the world financial crisis had also played a part in silencing the chainsaws. "The crisis … has contributed to helping put the breaks on the rhythm of destruction, with a fall in the demand for Amazon products linked to deforestation such as meat, soy and timber," Greenpeace said.

Tellingly, Mato Grosso, a soy producing Amazonian state that has seen its forests ravished in recent years largely as a result of the Chinese demand for soy, saw a 65% drop in deforestation.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009


I've posted Douglas Ruskoff before because he is part of a growing movement that has been labeled a "peeracy" where people are finding new ways to collaborate.

Back in my activist days I learned that property and proprietorship were an iron-clad and unalterable way of institutionalized life in America and that if you wanted something better one would have to look beyond the corporate forms. It also seemed that inertia-laden and interest-ridden governments would be the last to catch on.

But, lo and behold, change may actually be emerging in Brazil with highest level government leadership under the guise of digital inclusion. I've run this Lula speech before. If you missed it please give it your 15 minutes. Even if you disagree, I know that you'll be delighted and entertained to see how this old lathe operator with a 4th grade education woos an audience of intellectuals.

OK, you say that's just a pep rally? Mere political rhetoric? Not so! In Brazil they are actually starting to build these ideas into the actual process of promulgating new public policies. Here is Jose Murilo of the Brazilian Ministry of Culture explaining the evolution of the process at a recent global open source conference in Barcelona, Spain.

ECO-RAMA is a good English language website where you can stay informed about the evolution of digital culture in Brazil (and other interesting stuff like this).

Monday, November 09, 2009

(In Her Many Forms)


There's a lot more Tuva music here.

If you would like to view more of Feynman, Microsoft has put out a new experimental interactive video player loaded with some of his great Cornell lectures. And, following the trend of the up-and-coming open-source free software movement, MS is releasing both the player (it's great) and the lectures for free.

Monday, November 02, 2009



The Green.Inc blog at the NY Times is reporting a big fuss over the fact that the US is buying wind power technology from China instead of creating domestic jobs. The reason? After years of avoiding big public investments in future alternative energy technologies, US industries are now too small to respond to the immediate demand created by the stimulus package. By one reckoning, "84 percent of the $1.05 billion in clean-energy grants distributed by the government since Sept. 1 has gone to foreign renewable energy companies — specifically, wind companies."

[Update Nov 5: Schumer Seeks to Block Stimulus Money for Chinese-Backed Texas Wind Farm ]

Here's the full post from Green.Inc

Tempers Flare Over Chinese Involvement in Wind Farm Planned for Texas


NEW YORK — News last week of the first major influx of Chinese capital and wind turbine manufacturing expertise into the renewable energy market in the United States — a 600-megawatt wind farm planned for the plains of west Texas — had many readers of the Green Inc. blog in a state of agitation.

“I don’t understand why China is exporting wind energy to the U.S.,” wrote Mark from New York City. “Isn’t this exactly the kind of project a United States company could and should be doing?”

Another reader — Drew from Boston — was more blunt: “Again, China is playing the West for a sucker,” he wrote. “We send them our engineering, they get the manufacturing work and experience.”

The details of the deal known so far: Contingent on financing from Chinese commercial banks — and no small measure of funding from the U.S. economic stimulus package — A-Power Energy Generation Systems, a Nasdaq-listed company based in the Chinese industrial city of Shenyang, would provide 240 of its 2.5-megawatt wind turbines for a 36,000-acre, or 14,600-hectare, utility-scale wind farm in west Texas to be operated by Cielo Wind Power, a developer based in Austin.

The total cost of the project, which was brokered in part by the U.S. Renewable Energy Group, an American private equity company, was estimated at $1.5 billion. At an event after the announcement in Washington on Thursday, Cappy McGarr, a managing partner at the company, was beaming.

“This planned $1.5 billion investment in wind energy will spur tremendous growth in the renewable energy sector,” Mr. McGarr was quoted in a news release as saying, “and directly create hundreds of high-paying American jobs.”

The devil, though — as many observers pointed out by the end of the week — is in the details.

The group’s calculations last week put the number of American jobs at a little more than 300 — most of them temporary construction jobs, along with about 30 permanent positions once the wind farm is operating. Mr. McGarr told The Wall Street Journal that more than 2,000 Chinese jobs would be created by the deal.

That, along with the fact that the project was hoping to secure 30 percent, or $450 million, of its financing from U.S. stimulus funds, was enough to send tempers flaring.

“Why are U.S. stimulus funds being used to subsidize manufacturing jobs in China,” wrote a reader at Green Inc., who pointed out that American officials had repeatedly warned that the United States could lose its competitive edge on renewable energy manufacturing to China.

And yet, he continued, “the federal government gives stimulus monies to subsidize a project buying turbines made in China. Why?”

Part of the agitation almost certainly arises from China’s own reputation for green protectionism.

As Keith Bradsher wrote earlier this year in The New York Times, by establishing prohibitive quotas for homegrown solar and wind turbine equipment, and disqualifying bids from foreign companies on dubious grounds, the Chinese leadership has muscled out American and European manufacturers of clean energy seeking to gain a foothold in China’s burgeoning market for renewables.

As it happens, American officials made inroads in combating such trade barriers during a meeting of the U.S.-China Joint Commission on Commerce and Trade in Hangzhou, China, last week. Among the outcomes of the meeting: China agreed to remove local-content requirements on wind turbines.

Still, with the American economy struggling to get back on its feet and with an analysis last week from The Associated Press suggesting that the White House may be guilty of overstating the number of American jobs its $787 billion stimulus package has so far created, news that a Texas wind farm would create thousands of green jobs in China was, for some, a bitter pill.

“Thank you for killing the U.S. windmill industry,” wrote a reader from Chicago at Green Inc. “Thank-you, U.S. industrialists and financiers, for having us buy these things with financing and grants emanating from money borrowed from China.”

The deal, however, was no surprise to Russ Choma, a reporter with the Investigative Reporting Workshop, a nonprofit investigative journalism project attached to the American University School of Communication in Washington.

In a somewhat intriguing coincidence of timing, Mr. Choma and his colleagues published, on the same day the Chinese-American wind farm deal was unveiled, a detailed analysis of where stimulus money aimed at creating renewable energy projects and jobs in the United States was flowing.

By Mr. Choma’s reckoning, 84 percent of the $1.05 billion in clean-energy grants distributed by the government since Sept. 1 has gone to foreign renewable energy companies — specifically, wind companies. Through its American subsidiary, Iberdrola, a global manufacturer of wind turbines based in Spain, commanded most of that funding: $545 million.

“We broke down some of the numbers and found out that the program funded 11 projects that installed 982 turbines,” Mr. Choma wrote in an e-mail message, “and 695 were built by foreign manufacturers.”

To some extent, this is hardly surprising. As Mr. Choma noted, the American clean energy manufacturing base — particularly its wind turbine production capability — is tiny compared with that of Europe.

And to be sure, the dispensation of the $22 billion in stimulus funding that is supposed to go toward renewable energy projects has only just begun.

But China’s foray into the American wind power market comes alongside its dominance of the solar panel manufacturing industry, in which 95 percent of total output is exported to the United States and Europe.

And as Mr. Choma noted, when it comes to stimulating the economy, it is the manufacturing that matters. He points to a 2004 study from the Renewable Energy Policy Project, a research institute based in Washington. The institute found that every 1,000 megawatts of installed wind capacity had the potential to generate as many as 4,300 jobs, of which about 3,000 are created at the manufacturing level.