Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Do progressives need to completely rethink their approach?

From Alternet:
 
The authors of the new book Break Through argue that scaring people with bad news about the environment is no way to get them to change -- what's needed is a dream we all want to be a part of...  Full article >>

Satyagraha, Conflict-Transformation and a Sustainable Culture of Peace

From Scoop:

Satyagraha means pursuit of Truth. For Mahatma Gandhi it is a restless search for Truth and determination to reach Truth. In practice, Satyagraha is an Ahimsak-the non-violent struggle of Mahatma Gandhi, perhaps the most courageous and glorious experiment ever made by a person in the entire human history. Generally, it can be legitimately offered by a person, who respects rule of law and otherwise obeys law, but, in fact, a Satyagrahi refuses to obey the law, which he feels is wrong and immoral. After breaking such a law, by accepting the extreme penalty set for the so-called offence, he respects the rule of law. He respects the law, but offers non-cooperation in regard to its evil elements only.

People acquainted with the life and works of Mahatma Gandhi know that during the last decade of the Nineteenth Century, he was drawn in South African struggle because the domiciled Indian immigrants there suffered from many political, economic and social drawbacks. He, therefore, engaged himself in search of a method and technique of resistance to remove those drawbacks of Indian immigrants; but, simultaneously, he wished that the technique to be employed therein must be within the domain of the fundamental moral principles.

Resultantly, the principles he first applied in South Africa in the last decade of Nineteenth Century and the first two decades of Twentieth Century, and later on wider scale in India, to end various social, political and economic wrongs and injustice, and to assert the claim of truth, justice and fairness, time-to-time, both, in South Africa, and in India between 1917 and 1942, from Champaran to Quit India [1942], were called Passive Resistance, Non-cooperation, Civil Disobedience or Salt Movement etc. But, Mahatma Gandhi did not feel comfortable with those terms as they did not fully convey the ethical, moral and spiritual aspects of his struggles. He, therefore, termed them Satyagraha, which means, as I have said, the pursuit of truth.

Satyagraha incorporates sincerity, respect and restrain in it. It is utter self-effacement, greatest humiliation, greatest patience and highest faith; it is based upon some well-understood principles; and it must not be capricious. In it, there is no place for ill-will or hatred. It believes in universalism; all are brothers in it. For survival, it rejects the idea of physical struggle. Rather it believes in love, mutual cooperation and understanding, which are the principal basis of existence and progress and also to reach the goal. It should not be pre-planned, because, in view of Mahatma Gandhi, a struggle which has to be previously planned is not a righteous struggle.

Ahimsa-the non-violence, that is the opposite state of violence in toto and the source of all human values including love and cooperation, and one of the two sides of that coin, of which Satya-the truth is the other side, is the means of Satyagraha. Ahimsa-the non-violence and truth are intertwined, and in view of the Mahatma, “It is impossible to disentangle and separate them. They are…rather of a smooth unstamped metallic disk. Who can say which the obverse is and which is the reverse? Nevertheless Ahimsa is the means; truth is the end.”

A man with Satya [truth] and Ahimsa [Non-Violence] through Satyragraha can bring the world to his feet, because he accepts and adopts truth as a principle as well as the way of life. And, definitely, it was the power of Satyagraha on the basis of which Mahatma Gandhi succeeded to get the Black Act and Immigration Act abolished in South Africa; he became successful in getting removed the provision of Pound-3 Tax imposed on each and every Indian and other Asians there. Later, he not only transformed India into a nation by uniting people and that resulted in creating a will amongst compatriots to live together, which meant sharing weal and woe, but he successfully lead his countrymen to the door of freedom from centuries old slavery.

One who is a seeker of truth or a Satyagrahi, he must be humble. Truth is not denominational. It is neither yours nor mine. It knows no frontiers. So, “A Satyagrahi”, as Mahatma Gandhi says, “exhausts all other means before he resorts to Satyagraha” And, “he will, therefore, constantly and continually approach the constituted authority, he will appeal to public opinion, educate public opinion, state his case calmly and coolly before everybody who wants to listen him and only after he has exhausted all these avenues he will resort to Satyagraha. But when he has found the impelling call of the inner voice within him and launches out upon Satyagraha he has burnt his boats and there is no receding.”

Further, it is necessary for a Satyagrahi that in pursuit of truth he should not admit violence against his opponent, but he must be weaned from error by patience and sympathy; he should be ready for self-suffering and must not wish of opponent’s suffering.

Satyragraha, according to Mahatma Gandhi himself, “is a Dharmayuddha, one of the most powerful methods of direct action; it is a force that [though] works silently and apparently slowly [but] in reality, there is no force in the world that is so direct or so swift in working; it excludes every form of violence, veiled or unveiled, and whether in thought, word of deed.”

And it is a fact that what Mahatma Gandhi claimed in respect of power and strength of Satyagraha that proved in various Satyragrahas-the non-violent struggle, launched for freedom of India under his own leadership.

TRANSFORMATION OF CONFLICT INTO COOPERATION

In human society, like cooperation, the state of conflicts is inevitable; it is but natural in day-to-day practices. This situation has continued for thousands of years; histories of ancient, medieval and contemporary periods are before us to prove this fact. Why is it so? In fact, in spite of cooperation that is fully within the domain of Ahimsa [the non-violence], an eternal value permanently present in human nature, or of supplement to it, through the ages, due to competition and jealousy-the two temporary tendencies of man, selfishness, appetites and passions develop in him; to satisfy his desires he wishes to become master of others, which gives birth to the state of conflict at different levels in social, political or economic spheres. The same thing applies in context of a community, a society or a nation. We know a community, a society or a nation is made of men. What is true of a man is true of a community, a society or a nation.

But, it is cooperation that ultimately recorded victory over conflict not only in the life of an individual, but in the lives of communities, societies and nations. In other words, we can say that conflicts were always transformed into cooperation. If it was not so, the unprecedented growth of progress made in various walks of life by man and manmade institutions was never possible.

It is said that in his primitive age man was absolutely like a wild animal. He was completely in an underdeveloped stage. He, along with others, wandered here and there. Men killed one another to satisfy their appetite. Generally, they became the victims of wild animals. In such a state there was a question mark on their very existence. So, this state of affair underwent a change. And at the root of this change, there was the idea in man’s mind in context of safety of his existence. Instead of killing and eating one another, men, now, began to kill only animals and started eating them. Even then, their existence could not be secured with that. The ideas originating in man’s mind became matured; consequently, the spirit of collectivity developed in him. Instead of wandering here and there, now people decided to inhabit together at one place. Certainly, by doing so, they could feel themselves more secure from the attacks of wild animals. If any animal or group of animals attacked man or a group of men, the group of men, dwelling at one place, encountered the attack of animal or a group of animals collectively. It was, definitely, the spirit of cooperation that they could come ahead for their safety collectively.

For some time that state of affair continued. Later, men’s thinking developed further in this respect; it got a new dimension. Instead of killing wild animals and filling up their bellies, they started domesticating them, which lead them to achieve two chief benefits of unique nature; first: they got milk as nectar, and second: domestic animals proved helpful in the agricultural work and along with that many of them became the best means of transport in those days. And, it was natural that due to taming the animals and using them for agricultural and other purposes, their killing continued to decrease. Instead of meat, agricultural products became the main and daily food for men. From time-to-time many other changes also took place in this regard, and if we want to be familiar with them, we can make an analysis from a long historical journey of man in this regard. But, what I can say in brief is that whatever final situation is before us today that is due to victory of cooperation over conflict.

I have discussed above that in the process of saving their existence the progressive ideas arose in men’s minds and, consequently, the spirit of collectivity emerged in them. I also talked of their dwelling together with unity at a particular place in spite of wandering here and there. Now, I want to reiterate the very subject that with the continuation of this very process of development and change due to victory of cooperation over conflicts, clans and families, villages, towns and cities and later major cities surcharged with manifold facilities became part and parcel of this very process.

The process of change in which first of all man ensured the safety of his existence, joined in friendship with many animals; later, he, passing through never ending process of development, continued to advance further for the achievement of his goal, confirms that, in spite of temporary tendencies that give birth to conflicts, cooperation under the patronage of non-violence is permanently present in human nature, and in the absence of which man cannot live united; he cannot come within the domain of collectivity. And, if he did not have collectivity in life, his existence would not have remained intact; what to say of progress or about the achievement of goal, as Mahatma Gandhi has also rightly pointed out, “Mankind would have been self-destroyed ages ago.”


We were talking of victory of cooperation over conflicts, or transformation of conflict into cooperation. In this context, we should keep the fact in our minds that morality, also one of the principal supplementary values of Ahimsa-the non-violence, and one of the three [chief] fundamentals of civilization, has been there even in ancient times or throughout the ages in social behaviours of men; and as JB Kripalani rightly points out, in comparison to political morality, social morality has been far in advance, especially inter-group morality, which played an important role in the process of transformation of conflict into cooperation in social life. Even today, it is seen that in social life and behaviours, which are based upon mutual trust or cooperation or non-violence [Ahimsa], whether, we follow the moral conducts or violate them due to selfishness, passion or appetites, we, ultimately, recognize its validity and praise those who follow it.

In political sphere the above state of affairs has been quite different. Here, due to lack of morality, selfishness [including wish of economic gains], distrusts and hatred made the situation more serious and complicated and they lead not only to conflicts, but many a times to violence of severe nature and also to war, where might alone is right, where the law of jungle rules, where groups and nations in their relations consider one another as political enemies, and none of them comes ahead to sacrifice for another as in social life individuals on many occasions become ready even to sacrifice their self-interests.

But, if, like social life, in political field, there is lack of morality, can we not transform conflicts into cooperation there? Can we not create a culture of peace there? No, you and I cannot hold such a view, because in entire human history, time-to-time, great men have made efforts in this direction too; and the example of Mahatma Gandhi, who, especially in the Twentieth Century, called upon people to foster political and economic fields with morality, so that all conflicts, whether local-national or international level, could be transformed into cooperation and a healthy atmosphere for a sustainable culture could be created. We are aware of the fact that like social life, he was firm about application of sincere cooperation and non-violence in political and economic spheres. His views and practices are fully capable to guide us even today; the unique and exemplary weapon of Satyagraha, meaning and power of which I have discussed in the beginning, provided by him, is more relevant to end any kind of injustice and create a sustainable culture of peace in these days of globalization when people of the world have come in close contact and they have common interests, if it is applied honestly, according to need of time and space.

THE WAY TO CREATE SUSTAINABLE CULTURE OF PEACE

In fact, Mahatma Gandhi, influenced by the Vedic-Hindu doctrine that “All life is one” and also the Christian concept that “we are members one of another”, believed that human life and society are in a sense organic; human life, individual and group, social, economic and political cannot be divided into separate and airtight compartments. He, considering all the creatures of one and the same God, made Him the basis of this oneness and said:

“Man should earnestly desire well-being of all God’s creation and pray that he might have the strength to do so. In desiring the well-being of all lies his own welfare; he who desires only his own or his community’s welfare is selfish and it can never be well with him.”

What is good in social behaviours that are also good in political and economic relations; if morality and ethics are welfaristic in social field then they are equally welfaristic in other fields also. Problem has been this that we adopt double standard when we apply non-violence or other values supplementary to it especially in political field. Definitely, at that time we forget the concept of oneness mentioned above; we forget the message of Mahatma Gandhi in which he said:

“You cannot divide life, social, economic, political and purely religious, into watertight compartments. I do not know of any religion apart from human activity. It provides a moral basis of all other activities, which they would otherwise lack, reducing life to a maze of sound and fury signifying nothing.”

We preferably try to solve problems related to social life through non-violence and activities related to it; we try to take the course of morality there, come ahead to cooperate, but if there are other fields, and especially if it is political field then we talk in different way. The situation becomes more complicated and serious when a problem relates to international politics. Then parties involved talk to resolve it through the use of violence or even to indulge in a warlike conflict and by doing so they forget that a conflict or war has never accorded a permanent and peaceful solution to the problem. Rather, many a times, previous conflicts, if tried to solve by use of violence, created another conflicts of complicated nature. The example of the World War Second is before us to prove this fact.

As I have said earlier, in day-to-day behaviours or practices, conflicts are inevitable in human society or in different walks of life at different levels, no matter if they are temporary in nature. But, side-by-side, they demand resolution, or in other words, they demand for transformation into cooperation. Taking it as necessity of human life, we should accord them solution in a noble way, and as I believe, the way of Satyagraha shown by Mahatma Gandhi due to its unique character is the best one, and application of which in political and economic fields cannot be underestimated. As this very way is based upon principles, it involves larger interest of people; it can be a moral substitute to war.

For the restoration of freedom and to seek justice at local and national level; in social, political and economic spheres, Satyagraha, as one of the most powerful method of direct action, is fully capable even in democratic set up. In democracy people have full right to go for Satyagraha if justice is denied, or individual as well as the community-freedom are snatched. And steps like Non-Cooperation and Civil Disobedience can be taken according to circumstances and time and space.

But as far as the question of application of Satyagraha in the international sphere is concerned, in my opinion it is possible through its certain steps, and especially Non-Cooperation, Boycott or Restriction with extra care, sincerity and honesty. Further, these type of steps call for bigger responsibilities. For example, if there emerges a situation like that in Kuwait in which some years ago Iraq tried to destroy the sovereignty of it, the responsibility of international community becomes important. And it becomes more important when a group of compatriots is bent on snatching away the people of their democratic rights.

Today, not a single country of the world is in a position to maintain its existence or to function in isolation, no matter how mighty it is. Countries are so much interdependent, that, to act united has become a compulsion. In such a state it is not possible even for a country, where a particular group of dictators snatches the freedom of the people, to ignore international call. Through a collective decision in the UNO the dictators of such a country may be first warned for a Non-Violent Non-Cooperation and Boycott including Restrictions, and if there is no success in it then under the leadership of UNO further steps can be taken according to conditions of time and space, keeping in mind the safety and difficulties of innocent people. Such types of actions are, in fact, under the domain of non-violence; they are forward steps of Satyagraha, because there is no ill-will in it. After all Satyagraha means pursuit of truth; it is a search for truth and determination to reach truth, its means is non-violence, which is the only means to create a sustainable culture of peace; so, if it is applied in international sphere, its outcome will, definitely, be benevolent and welfaristic.

*************

Dr. Ravindra Kumar is a renowned Indologist, Gandhian scholar and writer; he is the Former Vice-Chancellor of the CCS University of Meerut, India

Link

Salon, from the War on Cancer Dept: 'Life will kill you'

"... In 1977, Richard Merrill, who later became dean of the University of Virginia Law School, was the chief counsel of the Food and Drug Administration, and he formally asked the U.S. attorney to convene a grand jury to decide whether or not to indict the producer of aspartame, G.D. Searle, for misrepresenting "findings, concealing material facts and making false statements" in aspartame safety tests.

This is not some left-wing group. This is the actual chief counsel of the FDA asking the U.S. attorney's office to convene a grand jury. It never happened, because by the time the grand jury was ready to be convened we had a new president. That president was Reagan, and within a month of Reagan taking office, he had a proposal from a guy you might have heard of named Donald Rumsfeld [who was then chief operating officer of Searle].

And Jan. 22, 1981, one day after Reagan's inauguration -- one day -- Searle reapplied for FDA approval. Prior to that, ever single request for approval was turned down by all the scientists ever looking at the data. That's a fact. There's no dispute about that fact. And then, it gets approved May 19, 1981.

Remember what happened with the Reagan revolution? It was: "We need to get the government off our backs." One of the backs it got off of was suppressing the aspartame industry. Later, many of the people who worked at the FDA to evaluate aspartame ended up going to work for the company producing it. ..." Read more >>

 

Five former Soviet states sign energy deal to bypass Russia

Vilnius - Azerbaijan, Georgia, Lithuania, Poland, and Ukraine - all once under Soviet control - signed a deal Wednesday an alternative route for energy supplies to Europe. They signed the agreement in Vilnius to construct the Odessa- Brody-Plock-Gdansk pipeline, connecting countries of the Black Sea with the Baltic Sea region.

Hailing it as "an historic event," Lithuanian President Valdas Adamkus told journalists the agreement showed the unity of the entire region and paved way to self-determination and sovereignty.

The agreement creates a new consortium - known as Sarmatia - which will be responsible for the pipeline construction.

Sarmatia is an unofficial name of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, popularised in the 17th century.

Poland and Lithuania spearheaded the effort to sign the deal. The extended pipeline will offer Eastern European countries an alternative energy partner, said Polish President Lech Kaczynski.

Kaczynski said he expected the pipeline to open in 2011. Read on >>

Good advice for spinmeisters

 
1. "efforts to negate incorrect statements can actually cause people to believe that the false statement is true" so a recommendation is made to "avoid repeating false facts whenever possible, because doing so - even in the context of correcting them" because that "may actually cause people to believe them".
 
Right. Therefore,
 
2. "the brain-oriented approach is to avoid describe false allegations whenever possible, and repeat your own message as often as you can".
 
Now if they can only teach George to pronounce the words correctly when delivering the message...
 

 

Washington irritated by French arms sale to Pakistan

The news last month that Pakistan is likely to get French air-to-air missiles (AAMs) and radar for its JF-17 fighter aircraft has raised some eyebrows in the US.

The reason is that MICA AAMs produced by MBDA and RC-400 multimission radar built by Thales may enrich China's rapidly growing military capabilities if sold to Pakistan, since Islamabad is developing its fighter plane jointly with Beijing. The JF-17 is a lightweight multi-role fighter co-developed by Pakistan Aeronautical Complex (PAC) and Chengdu Aircraft Industry Corporation under a joint venture of China and Pakistan.

Thus, some observers say, the widely debated European Union arm systems ban against China may finally be circumvented, in such a way that it could damage US efforts to keep Beijing's air power at disadvantage vis-a-vis Taiwan. As some Indian and Pakistani sources have pointed out, French-built Mirage fighters owned by Taiwan are actually equipped with such missiles and radar. Read on >> 

Uncertainty blues for State Dept whistleblowers

"...But beyond illuminating Blackwater's conduct in Iraq, Waxman's investigation also raises questions about the rights of federal whistleblowers and about Congress' ability to protect them.

Most of the work Blackwater does in Iraq is contracted by the State Department, and typically, any inquiry into these events would fall to the department's inspector general, Howard Krongard.

But Waxman's committee has been investigating that very office, as well. Recently, seven people working for Krongard alleged that Krongard himself had, in Waxman's words, "interfered with ongoing investigations to protect the State Department and the White House from political embarrassment." Two of those whistleblowers—former Assistant Inspector General for Investigations John DeDona and his erstwhile deputy Ralph McNamara—resigned specifically because of Krongard's meddling.

How did Krongard respond? Allegedly by threatening to terminate anybody else who dared speak with congressional investigators. Two of his employees—special agents Ron Militana and Brian Rubendall—have agreed to speak out anyway.

According to Militana, Krongard's congressional liaison informed the duo that "the majority [Democrats] are not friends. The minority staff has been helpful...You have no protection against reprisal. You have no whistleblower protections. Howard could retaliate and you would have no recourse.

"Howard can fire you. It would affect your ability to get another job," the congressional liaison allegedly threatened.

Waxman, of course, was outraged by the threats and, in a September 28 letter to Krongard, he issued a warning of his own.

"I am appalled by these reports," Waxman wrote. "As an Inspector General, you hold a position of special trust within the federal government. Your office is supposed to be an example of how to protect whistleblowers, not an example of how to persecute them...You should be aware—and you should advise your staff—that Congress has passed civil and criminal prohibitions against threatening and tampering with witnesses, retaliating against whistleblowers, and providing false information to Congress."

But there's a catch. The prohibitions Waxman cites are enshrined in the so-called Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act of 2007—a comprehensive bill prohibiting retaliation against government whistleblowers that he sponsored, and which the House has indeed passed. But thanks to Senator Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) it is currently on hold in the Senate, in a form that President Bush has threatened to veto anyhow..."

Full article >> 

The Kennebunkport Warning And The Rogue B-52 - Confirmation With A Vengeance

The events of August and September now allow us to evaluate the accuracy of the August 26 Kennebunkport Warning, which generated much attention and controversy from the moment it was issued. The preliminary verdict of history is now in, and establishes the Kennebunkport Warning as one of the most remarkable successes of open source intelligence forecasting in recent decades. It may even have directly helped to disrupt Cheney's plan for a nuclear sneak attack on Iran.
The Kennebunkport Warning was written in the afternoon of August 24, 2007. Support signatures were obtained in Kennebunkport, Maine later on August 24, and primarily on August 25. The document was sent out to a list of recipients in the US and abroad just before midnight eastern time on Sunday, August 26. The first known internet posting was on the Jeff Rense web site (<http://www.rense.com>www.rense.com), where the document appeared before midnight Pacific time on Sunday, August 26. The Kennebunkport Warning was thus in public view all day on Monday, August 27.
On Tuesday, August 28, Bush signaled an escalation of tensions with Iran in a raving speech before the American Legion convention in Kansas. Here he warned that the Middle East now lay in the shadow of a "nuclear holocaust" because of the Iranian nuclear program. He accused Iran of acting as a state sponsor of terrorism, intervening against the US forces in Iraq, and also made allegations about Iran as a backer of Hezbollah and Hamas. Diplomatic observers recognized that this tirade constituted an important intensification of US threats against Iran.
On Wednesday, August 29, Bush's threats moved a step towards fulfillment as US Air Force personnel loaded six cruise missiles onto the wing mounts of a B-52 intercontinental strategic bomber at Minot Air Force Base in North Dakota. Each of the missiles carried a nuclear warhead of between 5 and 150 kilotons of explosive power. Reportedly because of mechanical problems, the loading process took some 8 hours.
On Thursday, August 30, the rogue B-52, with its cargo of six deadly nuclear-armed cruise missiles, made the 3.5 hour flight across the US to Barksdale, Louisiana. Barksdale is the number two US headquarters for nuclear warfighting, second only to Offutt AFB in Nebraska. Barksdale is also the jumping-off base for direct B-52 bombing runs into the Middle East, a role which Barksdale played in the shock and awe campaign in Iraq in the spring of 2003. By the time the rogue B-52 reached Barksdale, cataclysmic events were not far off...
 

MungBeing

 
MungBeing is an online, bimonthly magazine containing artwork, short stories, interviews, articles, essays, music, recipes, poetry, comics, and interactive features. The subject matter leans heavily towards art and art criticism, with each issue featuring several galleries of visual artworks contributed by painters, illustrators and comic artists. The writers explore offbeat ideas and philosophies, and the magazine contains several first-person works of creative non-fiction or gonzo journalism.
 
The first issue was released on 4 April 2005. The magazine is a collaboration between musician/writer/artist Mark Givens (a member of the seminal lo-fi underground music group Wckr Spgt and the publisher/editor of the Salmon Bosch zine) and jody franklin, a multidisciplinary artist/writer and an award-winning filmmaker, member of Vancouver's July Fourth Toilet experimental music/performance troupe and co-publisher of The Misfit Library literary journal.
Upon release of the first issue, the publishers described MungBeing thusly:
"MungBeing aims to be a narrower, more focused Outsider Salon, a Low Art New Yorker (A Lorker), Juxtapoz's bookish third cousin, the sly Cubists to Pop Surrealism's witty Futurists, a poor substitute for sleep, the natural progression/extension of Salmon Bosch into the digital domain, and an outlet for some restless ideas. It exists to entertain, amuse, provoke, and evoke; it is meant to be contemplated, absorbed, savored and enjoyed. It is the cantaloupe pie of cyberzines, magalogs and webrags. Your friends will want a slice of the pie, too, so share it because there's enough to go around."
 
 

Neoconism

Definition by Ligali:
"Term used to define the extreme politically and economically actions of western European countries to maintain global control of resources under the guise of globalization, capitalism and the ‘free market’. Similar to nazism, neoconism uses the direct rule of privately run national corporations to maintain and enforce nationalistic socialism globally. Neoconism abuses and ruthlessly exploits historical advantages gained by the maintenance of vast economic inequality. Neocon’s rely on a disproportionate balance of economic, nuclear and military power to enforce their agenda. One successful strategy used to neutralise and pacify perceived and potential opponents is the use of overt and covert propaganda propagating the ideals of capitalism and democracy through social, cultural and political representatives. Comparing the German Nazi (National Socialist) programme points of 1920 with that of the 21st Century NeoCons, it is possible to see how Neocon's through the 2001- 2004 G W Bush Presidency used the US government and administration to work predominantly in the interests of big business."
 

The truly alive and the plague-ridden

"...Those who are truly alive are kindly and unsuspecting in their human relationships and consequently endangered under present conditions. They assume that others think and act generously, kindly, and helpfully, in accordance with the laws of life. This natural attitude, fundamental to healthy children as well as to primitive man, inevitably represents a great danger in the struggle for a rational way of life as long as the emotional plague subsists, because the plague-ridden impute their own manner of thinking and acting to their fellow men. A kindly man believes that all men are kindly, while one infected with the plague believes that all men lie and cheat and are hungry for power. In such a situation the living are at an obvious disadvantage. When they give to the plague-ridden, they are sucked dry, then ridiculed or betrayed..."
 
- Wilhelm Reich in 'Listen, Little Man!'

Pravda: How bravely cowards wage war

From Part 1:

A popular movie catchphrase from the Blaxploitation era of the 1970s proclaimed: “The Mob wanted Harlem. They got SHAFT.

In today’s America there is a similar catchphrase: “The people voted for change in the last election. They got the SHAFT.”

This reality lends credence to the late Che Guevara’s theory that democracy is simply an illusion designed to quash the impetus for meaningful social change. As long as the masses are duped into believing that the electoral process is capable of replacing an unjust government with a just one, they will forever be oblivious to the fact that usually they are simply substituting one evil for another.

Unfortunately even the electoral frauds of 2000 and 2004, which cogently demonstrated how easily the “democratic” system could (and can) be corrupted by the rich and powerful, did not arouse enough Americans from their slumber. The result has been almost seven years of ineptness, mendacity, criminality and militarism orchestrated and endorsed by incompetents, hypocrites, cowards and liars, many of whom refused, and still refuse, to risk their lives in the wars they’ve instigated and supported..."

From Part 2:

"...Yet, while liars frequently thrive and proliferate in American society, those who speak the truth are often pilloried, and in some cases forced to apologize for their honesty. Thus the lies find the sunlight, while the truth remains mired in darkness.

This is why it was refreshing to discover that MoveOn.org chose to stand by its Petraeus ad. And who knows? Perhaps a few years down the road the myopic hypocrites in Congress, who can assess nothing except in terms of political gain, may be the ones condemned for failing to see the truth..."

Israel shrugs: 'My land is mine, your land is mine'

 
The Israeli army has ordered the seizure of Palestinian land surrounding four West Bank villages apparently in order to hugely expand settlements around Jerusalem, it emerged yesterday.

The confiscation happened as Israeli and Palestinian negotiators met to prepare the ground for a meeting hosted by President George Bush in the United States aimed at reviving a diplomatic solution to the conflict.

However, critics said the confiscation of land suggested that Israel was imposing its own solution on the Palestinians through building roads, barriers and settlements that would render a Palestinian state unviable.

The land seized forms a corridor from East Jerusalem to Jericho and is intended to be used for a road that would be for Palestinians only. Analysts said the road would run on one side of the Israeli security barrier, while the existing Jerusalem-Jericho road would be reserved for Israelis.

A spokeswoman for the Israeli army said it was necessary to build a road to link Bethlehem and the Judea region with Jericho and the Jordan valley area in order to "improve the quality of life" for Palestinians.

She said the road would be nearly 10 miles long and would be built on 145 hectares (357 acres) of state land and 23 hectares of private land that had been confiscated. She added that the army had designed the route to minimise losses to private landowners.

Adam Keller of the Israeli peace group, Gush Shalom, said the confiscation of land belonging to the villages of Abu Dis, Arab al-Sawahra, Nebi Musa and Talhin Alhamar would "rob many villagers of their sole livelihood" but would also "facilitate the big annexation plan known as E-1, which is aimed at linking the settlement of Ma'aleh Adummim with Jerusalem and cutting the West Bank in two."

He said the confiscations were aimed at constructing a "Palestinian bypass road" that would "push the Palestinian traffic between Bethlehem and Ramallah deep into the desert and effectively bar them from the central part of the West Bank". ... Read on >>

'The Seven Storey Mountain' was first published 59 years ago this month

The Path to the Mountain

"...In books that become classics the opening words often seem to be inevitable, as if they could not possibly have been otherwise--"Call me Ishmael," "Happy families are all alike," "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times." After several tries, the opening of Mountain became: "On the last day of January 1915, under the sign of the Water Bearer, in a year of a great war, and down in the shadows of some French mountains on the borders of Spain, I came into the world." There remained the job of editorial polishing--eliminating repetitions and longueurs. Merton was very cooperative about all these minor changes. "Really, the Mountain did need to be cut," he wrote a friend. "The length was impossible....When you hear your words read aloud in a refectory, it makes you wish you had never written at all."
 

Then a crisis arose in the midst of the editing. Merton told Naomi that a final censor was refusing permission to publish! Unaware that the author had a contract, an elderly censor from another abbey objected to Merton's "colloquial prose style," which he considered inappropriate for a monk. He urged that the book be put aside until Merton "learned to write decent English." We felt that these anonymous censors would have suppressed St. Augustine's "Confessions" if given the chance. I advised Merton to appeal (in French) to the Abbot General in France, and to our relief the Abbot General concluded that an author's style was a personal matter. This cleared the air and the censor wisely reversed his opinion. At last the Mountain could be published..."

 

"Washington climate conference ... a triumph of US media management"

"...The opening public statements were made by President Bush, Dr Rice and Jim Connaughton, the head of White House climate strategy.
 
The only foreigner to speak publicly was Yvo de Boer who, as a representative of the UN, remained neutrally uncritical of his hosts. The two-day meeting then went into closed session.

Other delegates were furious at what they said were false leadership claims on climate by Mr Bush, but they were not given a platform to address the media.

When they emerged at the end of the conference on the Friday, they found that the co-ordinator, Mr Connaughton, had slipped out to brief the media half-an-hour before the end of the meeting, and the US TV networks had gone home.

The conference did not receive widespread publicity in the US despite growing public concern about climate change.

But those papers that did report it ran headlines like "Bush promises leadership on climate" although the Washington Post and New York Times did carry more critical messages down in the body of their articles.

"The White House slaughtered us," said one European delegate in search of the vanished American TV crews, "they absolutely slaughtered us". ..." Full article >>

Spooks to hold journalism seminars

Spies Prep Reporters on Protecting Secrets
 
Frustrated by press leaks about its most sensitive electronic surveillance work, the secretive National Security Agency convened an unprecedented series of off-the-record "seminars" in recent years to teach reporters about the damage caused by such leaks and to discourage reporting that could interfere with the agency's mission to spy on America's enemies.

The half-day classes featured high-ranking NSA officials highlighting objectionable passages in published stories and offering "an innocuous rewrite" that officials said maintained the "overall thrust" of the articles but omitted details that could disclose the agency's techniques, according to course outlines obtained by The New York Sun.

Dubbed "SIGINT 101," using the NSA's shorthand for signals intelligence, the seminar was presented "a handful of times" between approximately 2002 and 2004, an agency spokeswoman, Marci Green, confirmed yesterday. Officials were pleased with the program, she said.

"They believe they were very successful in being able to talk to journalists regarding our mission and the sensitivities of our mission in an unclassified way," Ms. Green said.

The syllabi make clear that the sessions, which took place at NSA headquarters in Fort Meade, Md., were conceived of not merely as familiarization tours, but as part of a campaign to limit the damage caused by leaks of sensitive intelligence.

"Course Objective: to convey the fragility of SIGINT and to increase editors' and reporters' understanding that there are other ways to express similar thoughts in an article without compromising the story and without compromising SIGINT," the syllabi said.

The NSA's seminars, delivered over tea and pastries, and accompanied by a clip from "Top Gun," seemed designed to elicit a chummy atmosphere and to highlight commonalities between reporters and the agency's electronic sleuths. "Reporters go to great lengths to protect their sources, as do we," one talking point for the classes said. "We need your help."...

Read on>>

'Imagine Peace' ...by Cindy Sheehan

From Michael Moore: Must Read:

Imagine all the people, living life in peace.
John Winston Ono Lennon
October 9, 1940-December 8, 1980

A dream you dream alone is only a dream.
A dream you dream together is reality.
Yoko Ono Lennon

On October 9th, on what would have been John Lennon's 67th birthday, his widow, Yoko Ono is dedicating a peace tower in Reykjavik, Iceland in the memory of her husband. There will also be almost a half a million peace wishes buried in capsules around the tower which is a blue tower of light extending up to the sky above us.

I received the link to the Imagine Peace website while I was on a layover in the airport in Las Vegas, Nv. Still reeling from the reports of hundreds, if not thousands of Burmese monks and other humans being slaughtered for protesting against their oppressive government, it was hard for me to watch all the people sitting hypnotized at the slot machines, pulling the handles or pushing the buttons as if the world is not going to hell in George's hand basket. The dichotomy of business as usual in America compared with genocides in Darfur and Iraq while I am still and always will be mourning my son makes me dizzy sometimes.

So, I made myself close my eyes for a few minutes between planes and tried to shut out the bells and whistles of the slots and "imagined" peace. What would a world at peace look like? What would a world at peace be like to live in? I have a great imagination but I knew this exercise would be challenging.

John Lennon called his song Imagine an "anti-religious, anti-nationalism, anti-conventional, anti-capitalist" sort of a "Communist manifesto." It is for sure a utopian vision of a perfect society that unfortunately can not be achieved by imagining, and probably not at all -- but how close can we get to this world and how much sacrifice will a world at peace take from each and everyone of us?

First of all, imagine a world with no religion. A world where sick and evil people could not manipulate the masses into believing that the set of myths and beliefs that they profess are more important or powerful than the others' set of myths or beliefs. Israelis could not (with the help of Christian extremists) tell Palestinians that it is okay to occupy them or kill them so that the Jews could claim their "Promised Land." Land promised to whom by whom? Muslims could not proclaim "jihad" against infidels. There would have been no Nazi holocaust against Jews; no Crusades; no holocaust against our own native population; no black slavery justified by the Christian scriptures; no George Bush saying that his Christian God is like a mob-boss ordering him to "hit" the world. Imagine that!

Secondly, imagine no countries. No jingoistic worship of banners made of mere cloth (not spun gold) or arrogant nationalism that gives leaders the right to kill other human beings just because they do not happen to live within the same false borders that were artificially drawn many years ago by empires that have long ago fallen. In this homeland-istic fervor it is especially correct to kill those other people if they are not the same religion as the religion of your state (and don't kid yourself that the US does not have a state sanctioned religion). Imagine no armies that in reality kill and get killed for the imperialistic neo-liberalism that has crept around our globe like a flesh eating bacteria since the Reagan years. Imagine that.

Imagine no possessions: This is the crux of our problem. Going back to my brothers and sisters at the slot machines in Vegas, pulling almost catatonically on the lever of the One Armed Bandit, for what? To win the "jackpot" of course! How nice is it of the State of Nevada to allow gambling machines in their airports, so we can perchance live the American dream of buying higher stacks of stuff! On a day that George vetoed the health of over six-million children here in America, 16,000 children around the world died of starvation. In a week that we saw murder on a horrendous scale in Burma, more Iraqis were killed or forced from their homes by violence: to wander in the desert, or probably off to Syria where their daughters may be forced into prostitution to help support the family which should be able to live in peace and relative prosperity in their own country. Imagine that.

It was hard for me to imagine or envision peace when I am terrified because BushCo is contemplating even more slaughter in the Middle East in Iran and when Congress, Inc is busy supporting a murderous status quo that hurts humans within all borders, even our own.

Peace will only happen when every member of humanity is guaranteed prosperity, health and security which will not happen when we here in the US can't even get off our asses to protest a war that is four and a half years and hundreds of thousands of bodies old, now.

We can imagine peace all we want but until each and everyone of us is willing to sacrifice some of our prosperity (because we have already had our security robbed from us by the rotten Republicans and complicit corporate Democrats) true peace -- not just the absence of war -- will be as elusive as a morsel of truth or modicum of courage coming out of Washington, DC.

Voluntary sacrifice is truly a revolutionary concept here in the United States of America.

So you say you want a revolution? Imagine that.

Link

Put your life on the line for ... nothing

One Day Short Costs Longest Serving Ground Combat Unit in Iraq Full Education Benefit

"...In what appears to be yet another callous attempt to save money, nearly half of the Minnesota National Guard - at twenty-two months the longest serving ground combat unit in Iraq - have been denied full education benefits because their posting was one day short of the necessary 730 days. This is a significant blow to many soldiers whose military service is the only opportunity they might ever have to attend college. Full education benefits pay $800 per month; that single day’s service has cost 1,162 Minnesota National Guard $518 a month in benefits; or a loss of $1554 per semester, making a college education still out of reach for those who put their life on hold and in jeopardy to serve their country.

Minnesota National Guard spokesman Lt. Col. Kevin Olson said the soldiers are ‘victims of a significant injustice’. Representative John Kline, (R - MN) has introduced a bill to get those soldiers’ their benefits. A joint statement by Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and Norm Coleman (R-MD) affirmed that the Army secretary, Pete Geren, is looking into this matter personally, and has asked a review board to resolve the situation by next semester. But this is just one more in a insidious pattern of pinching pennies from soldiers already paid so little tens of thousands of soldiers and their families are on food stamps..."

Link 

Thousands Protest Factory Beating Deaths in China

When workers from the Fuxin Steel Ltd. in Tongling, China demanded the owner fulfill his promise for housing that they had already contributed to, they were met with a hired gang that fiercely beat the workers with blunt weapons. The incident killed two and left 14 others severely injured. The assault ignited the rage of thousands of factory workers and they marched in downtown Tongling in protest. A large number of police were deployed to keep the situation under control.

Local authorities are actively censoring information on this matter; postings on online forums have been quickly deleted. When The Epoch Times contacted a local newspaper by phone, they explained that they had received complaints from workers on the day of the beating, but authorities had prevented the publication of this information. An online forum moderator said that he received an order to delete any posting related to the incident.

Workers Beaten to Death, Thousands Take to the Streets

Unidentified eyewitnesses have provided The Epoch Times with details:

"The factory owner hired about 200 thugs from out of town," explained one man who refused to give his name. "They were all wearing helmets and sunglasses. Rumor has it that these thugs all have gangster backgrounds. They were carrying shovels, rakes, steel pipes, and hammers. They were beating workers like mad. Two workers died and 14 were taken to hospital for emergency treatment."  Read on >>

Umbrella rally for democracy in Hong Kong

HONG KONG—Thousands of people in Hong Kong took part in a democracy march and a world-record breaking attempt using umbrellas, calling for a faster pace of democratic reforms and direct elections in 2012.

Gathered in a large park, around 5,000 people hoisted yellow umbrellas to form a massive yellow "2012" which is the date the pro-democracy camp wants direct elections to be realised.

"Fighting for democracy means you have to fight for democracy. Democracy is not going to fall from the sky," said legislator Ronny Tong, a chief organiser of Sunday's "Umbrella" rally, which he hopes will gain an entry in the Guinness Book of World Records.

Hong Kong's mini-constitution promises direct elections as the "ultimate aim" but is vague on a timetable, giving Beijing's leaders scope to dictate the pace of progress. In 2004, Beijing ruled out direct elections in the city until at least 2012.  Read on >>

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