Sunday, April 6, 2008

'India is seeing a revival of Sufi music as a buffer against the troubled times'

 

"Bulla, I know not, who I am
Not a believer inside the mosque,
Nor a pagan disciple of fake rites
Not the pure among the impure…
Neither fire, nor from air is my birth"

These secular lyrics penned by Sufi mystic Baba Bulleh Shah in the 17th century and set to music by a folk singer on his acoustic guitar had the young and the old - Hindus, Muslims and people of other faiths - rocking in India.

Rabbi Shergill was not the only one. Several contemporary Indian musicians have been travelling back in time to cull influences from Sufi music - a legacy bequeathed by 13th century poet-saint Jalaluddin Muhammed Rumi, the founder of the cult of the "whirling dervishes", the first-generation Sufi minstrels. These "spiritual rebels" sought to commune with god through their poetry, music and dance; instead of through
dogmatic religion.

As the politics of violence gather force everywhere in the world, India is seeing a revival of Sufi music as a buffer against the troubled times, after almost 200 years of obscurity.

The essence of Sufism, as summed up in author Margaret Smith's words, is "this everlasting desire of man for his unison with god can be seen in certain strands of Hinduism, in neo-Platonism, in Christian mysticism and Islamic Sufism". It draws from Hebrew traditions as well.

The new generation of Sufi singers are promoting the music as a "sound of connectivity, peace and friendship" transcending borders, class, creed, race and country. "It is universal, pan-Indian and is of the people. It talks of love, not hatred," says Sufi singer Hansraj Hans from Jalandhar in Punjab.

He treats Sufi music as a bridge between India and Pakistan, the nation from where the music came to India in the 12th century.

~ more... ~

 

The mystic neem tree: Myth and fact

It is considered one of the sacred trees in India from time immemorial. It is the symbol or the abode of Goddess Mariamman. To say in exact terms of the devotees 'neem tree' is considered as the 'Thala Virutcham' (a favourite tree of Goddess Mariamman). People, who go to the temples worship the 'neem' tree as well as, apply sacred tilak to it. To cap it all, recently a neem tree, whose trunk has been bulging for the last several weeks, was considered as pregnant, for the bulging of the trunk exactly resembled the belly of a woman in her third trimester. So the neem tree was adorned with bangles and flowers on Tuesday by residents of Reddypettai village in Kanchipuram district as part of the 'Valaikappu' celebrations for the tree.
 
[ ... ]
 
On the other hand, the neem tree is held in high esteem for its utility in other respects. Its leaves, flowers, fruits and seeds etc have a medicinal value and the wood of the tree serve as a building material. In fact, neem tree has much to do with the Ayurvedic or Siddha medicine in other words, which is known as the Indian medicine. Neem tree is also useful in making cosmetic soaps. In fact at the international level, a dispute over the patent rights of products from neem tree is also on the card.
 
 

Bob Fitrakis: City of Peace

From The Free Press (via Scoop) :
 
The great moral issue of our era is the illegal war in Iraq. Like the issues of slavery, the civil rights movement and the Vietnam War in past epochs, silence on this issue equals complicity.

On March 17, the Citizens Grassroots Congress presented a Columbus "City for Peace" resolution to the Columbus City Council. Notably, 283 cities, 10 counties and 17 states across the nation have passed peace resolutions, from Arrowsic, Maine to South Charleston, West Virginia to Missoula, Montana.

Yet, the Columbus Dispatch, in a March 22 editorial, denounced the peace resolution as an "Empty gesture." They cautioned Council to "focus on city issues," not the war in Iraq. The Dispatch calls the resolution "symbolic and ineffectual."

In 1838, when Angelina Grimke became the first woman to address a legislative body in the U.S., her plea for a resolution from the Massachusetts legislature against slavery met with similar scorn from the mainstream media.

The slaves couldn't speak for themselves, nor can the more than one million Iraqis who have died as a direct result of Bush's war. The voices of 4,000 U.S. soldiers have been silenced as well.

In addition to these incalculable human costs, we can begin to add up how this war, that was supposed to "pay for itself," is devastating the economy in Columbus, Ohio.

According to the National Priorities Project, "Taxpayers in Columbus, Ohio will pay $135.1 million for additional proposed Iraq War spending for FY 2008. For the same amount of money, the following could have been provided:
    • 47,896 people with health care or
    • 151,338 homes with renewable electricity or
    • 3,060 public safety officers or
    • 2,069 music and arts teachers or
    • 15,591 scholarships for university students or
    • 12 new elementary schools or
    • 1,260 affordable housing units or
    • 81,262 children with health care or
    • 21,039 Head Start places for children or
    • 2,153 elementary school teachers or
    • 2,373 port container inspectors"
The cost of the war continues to rise daily. The monthly cost exceeds the monthly cost of the Vietnam War (adjusted for inflation) by half a billion dollars.

And what has the war accomplished? The war has turned Iraq, an anti-Al Qaeda state with no ties to the terrorist organization, into a symbol for "accelerated recruitment" for Al Qaeda, according to the International Institute for Strategic Studies. The country is now "a training and recruitment ground (for terrorists) and an opportunity for terrorists to enhance their technology skills," according to the U.S. National Intelligence Council.

Mainstream newspapers also warned Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. from speaking out against the Vietnam War. But, on April 4, 1967 he ignored their advice because he believed "Somehow this madness must cease."

"I speak as a citizen of the world, for the world as it stands aghast at the path we have taken. I speak as one who loves America. To the leaders of our own nation: the great initiative in this war is ours; the initiative to stop it must be ours," pronounced King at the Riverside Church in New York City.

The Dispatch says the Council's work should "all center on making Columbus a better place to live." The cost of war on our city will leave us both economically and morally bankrupt. The cost of silence is far greater than the price of a principled stand.

This military madness once again afflicts our nation, and our elected officials lack the courage to take a stand for peace. The people overwhelmingly voted for peace in the 2006 election, turning out the party of war. The silence of the City Council, to borrow the words of King, equals betrayal of their constituents and their own conscience.

--
Bob Fitrakis is Editor & Publisher of The Free Press (http://freepress.org), where this article first appeared.

Musical Innerlube: Enjoy Yourself

First performed by Guy Lombardo in 1957

Musical Innerlubes: My Life as a Ghost of Bush

album trailer for tupahwarez

'A new BBC documentary supports the conclusion that the CIA planned and executed the assassination of Robert Kennedy'

 
The new video and photographic evidence -- the result of a three year long investigation --"puts three senior CIA operatives" at the scene of the murder.
Three of these men have been positively identified as senior officers who worked together in 1963 at JMWAVE, the CIA's Miami base for its Secret War on Castro.

David Morales was Chief of Operations and once told friends: "I was in Dallas when we got the son of a bitch and I was in Los Angeles when we got the little bastard."
Gordon Campbell was Chief of Maritime Operations and George Joannides was Chief of Psychological Warfare Operations.

Joannides was called out of retirement in 1978 to act as the CIA liaison to the Congressional investigation into the JFK assassination. Now, we see him at the Ambassador Hotel the night a second Kennedy is assassinated.

--CIA role in Kennedy killingAs with the 1963 murder of JFK in Dallas, lingering questions dog the official theories. Powder burns indicated that three shots had been fired from very close range from 0 to 1-1/2 inches though no witness could place Sirhan closer than three feet. Sirhan's gun held only eight bullets but a total of ten were recovered. Three were found in Kennedy. Two were lodged in a pantry door frame. One was found in an airspace. Presumably four more were found elsewhere. Significantly, four bullets 'touched' Kennedy to include the three that were recovered --lodged --in his back. At no time was Sirhan ever behind RFK.
Inexcusably, the door frames were burned, the Los Angeles Police Dept. claimed no bullets were found lodged in the "bullet holes", and two expended bullets (inexplicably dug out of wood) were soon found in the front seat of Sirhan's car. The LAPD then destroyed their records of the tests that had been done on the "bullet holes" in the doorframe.

--Facts about the Robert F. Kennedy Assassination
 
 

Wilson still flying the lasagna


Robert Anton Wilson once wrote that the Celtic temperament when not sunk in Beckett-like despair always leaps to the other conclusion and believes, whatever the evidence, that tomorrow will be better.

As Robert Anton Wilson pointed out (or William S. Burroughs, if you prefer), hexagram 23 of the I Ching is "breaking apart." Anyone who subscribes to his "23 enigma" theory will note that this is the twenty-third installment of this column. If you throw hexagram 23, the I Ching cautions: "the roof is shattered, the house collapses." I leave you, dear reader, to draw your own conclusions as to how this relates to Democratic politics for this particular week...

Will Wheat-Killer Fungus be used to spread GMO wheat?

From the Centre for Research on Globalization :

A deadly fungus, known as Ug99, which kills wheat, has likely spread to Pakistan from Africa according to reports in the British New Scientist magazine. If true, that threatens the vital Asian Bread Basket including the Punjab region. The spread of the deadly virus, stem rust, against which an effective fungicide does not exist, comes as world grain stocks reach the lowest in four decades and government subsidized bio-ethanol production, especially in the USA, Brazil and EU are taking land out of food production at alarming rates. The deadly fungus is being used by Monsanto and the US Government to spread patented GMO seeds.

Stem rust is the worst of three rusts that afflict wheat plants. The fungus grows primarily in the stems, plugging the vascular system so carbohydrates can't get from the leaves to the grain, which shrivels. In the 1950s, the last major outbreak destroyed 40% of the spring wheat crop in North America. At that time governments started a major effort to breed resistant wheat plants, led by Norman Borlaug of the Rockefeller Foundation. That was the misnamed Green Revolution. The result today is far fewer varieties of wheat that might resist such a new fungus outbreak.

The first strains of Ug99 were detected in 1999 in Uganda. It spread to Kenya by 2001, to Ethiopia by 2003 and to Yemen when the cyclone Gonu spread its spores in 2007. Now the deadly fungus has been found in Iran and according to British scientists may already be as far as Pakistan.

Pakistan and India account for 20 percent of the annual world wheat production. It is possible as the fungus spreads that large movements could take place almost overnight if certain wind conditions prevail at the right time. In 2007 a three-day wind event recorded by Mexico's CIMMYT (International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center), had strong wind currents moving from Yemen, where Ug99 is present, across Pakistan and India, going all the way to China. CIMMYT estimates that from two-thirds to three-quarters of the wheat now planted in India and Pakistan are highly susceptible to this new strain of stem rust. One billion people who live in this region and they are highly dependent on wheat for their food supply.

These are all areas where the agricultural infrastructure to contain such problems is either extremely weak or non-existent. It threatens to spread into other wheat producing regions of Asia and eventually the entire world if not checked.

FAO World Grain Forecast

The 2007 World Agriculture Forecast of the United Nations' Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) in Rome, projects an alarming trend in world food supply in the absence of any devastation from Ug99. The report states, "countries in the non-OECD region are expected to continue to experience a much stronger increase in consumption of agricultural products than countries in the OECD area. This trend is driven by population and, above all, income growth – underpinned by rural migration to higher income urban areas...OECD countries as a group are projected to lose production and export shares in many commodities…Growth in the use of agricultural commodities as feedstock to a rapidly increasing biofuel industry is one of the main drivers in the outlook and one of the reasons for international commodity prices to attain a significantly higher plateau over the outlook period than has been reported in the previous reports."

The FAO warns that the explosive growth in acreage used to grow fuels and not food in the past three years is dramatically changing the outlook for food supply globally and forcing food prices sharply higher for all foods from cereals to sugar to meat and dairy products. The use of cereals, sugar, oilseeds and vegetable oils to satisfy the needs of a rapidly increasing bio-fuel industry, is one of the main drivers, most especially the large volumes of maize in the US, wheat and rapeseed in the EU and sugar in Brazil for ethanol and bio-diesel production. This is already causing dramatically higher crop prices, higher feed costs and sharply higher prices for livestock products.

Protecting Tanzania's albinos from witchdoctors

From the BBC :

Tanzania's president has ordered a crackdown on witchdoctors who use body parts from albinos in magic potions to bring people good luck or fortune.

"This is senseless cruelty. It must stop forthwith," Jakaya Kikwete said on television, AFP news agency reports.

"I am told that people kill albinos and chop their body parts, including fingers, believing they can get rich when mining or fishing," he said.

The order comes after the murder of 19 albinos in the last year.

The BBC's Vicky Ntetema in Dar es Salaam says there is a widespread belief in Tanzania that the condition is the result of a curse put on the family.

Some people hide the albino members of the family for fear of them either being rejected by the community or killed.

Old women with red eyes have been killed in parts of Tanzania, after being accused of witchcraft, she says.

In the past, Tanzania's Albino Society (TAS) has accused the government of turning a blind eye to the killing of albinos.

 

From Tanzanian President Vows To Protect Albinos From Witch Doctors :

Kikwete has ordered albinos to register themselves to improve their safety.

 

Jimmy Hendrix: Star-Spangled Banner

Google
 

image from http://www.spitting-image.net

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