Saturday, March 31, 2007

Simple Truth


Embrace Reality


When you deny the reality of life, you appreciate it less. Meditate on the Buddha's Five Remembrances and rediscover the magic of life just as it is.

I am of the nature to grow old.
There is no way to escape growing old.

I am of the nature to have ill health.
There is no way to escape ill health.

I am of the nature to die.
There is no way to escape death.

All that is dear to me and everyone I love
are the nature to change.

There is no way to escape
being separated from them.

My actions are my only true belongings.
I cannot escape the consequences of my actions.

My actions are the ground upon which I stand.

from: The Plum Village Chanting, by Thich Nhat Hanh

My Latest Favorite Band...............

Friday, March 30, 2007

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Oops.........


Tricycle's Daily Dharma: March 30, 2007


Spilled Groceries

Imagine walking along a sidewalk with your arms full of groceries, and someone roughly bumps into you so that you fall and your groceries are strewn over the ground. As you rise up from the puddle of broken eggs and tomato juice, you are ready to shout out, "You idiot! What's wrong with you? Are you blind?" But just before you can catch your breath to speak, you see that the person who bumped you is actually blind. He, too, is sprawled in the spilled groceries, and your anger vanishes in an instant, to be replaced by sympathetic concern: "Are you hurt? Can I help you up?" Our situation is like that. When we clearly realize that the source of disharmony and misery in the world is ignorance, we can open the door of wisdom and compassion. Then we are in a position to heal ourselves and others. --B. Alan Wallace, Tibetan Buddhism from the Ground Up

Monday, March 26, 2007

Who's In Charge Here?




Alcohol and tobacco `worse' than dope

I am clean and sober and am not advocating drug use. I also am addicted to tobacco. (aspringwind)


Alcohol and tobacco are more dangerous than marijuana or ecstasy, according to a new British study.

MariaCheng writing for The Standard

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Alcohol and tobacco are more dangerous than marijuana or ecstasy, according to a new British study.
In research published Friday in The Lancet magazine, David Nutt of Bristol University and colleagues propose a framework for classifying harmful substances based on the actual risks to society. Their ranking has alcohol and tobacco among the 10 most dangerous.

They used three factors to determine harm associated with any drug: physical harm to the user, potential for addiction, and the impact on society of drug use.

They asked two groups of experts - psychiatrists specializing in addiction and legal or police officials with special expertise - to assign scores to 20 drugs, including heroin, cocaine, ecstasy, amphetamines and LSD.

The team then calculated overall rankings. In the end, the experts agreed with each other - but not with the existing classification of substances.

Heroin and cocaine were most dangerous, followed by barbiturates and street methadone. Alcohol was the fifth- most harmful drug and tobacco the ninth. Cannabis came in 11th, and near the bottom of the list was ecstasy.

According to existing British drug policy, alcohol and tobacco are legal, while cannabis and ecstasy are illegal. "The current drug system is ill thought- out and arbitrary," said Nutt, referring to the practice of assigning drugs to three divisions, ostensibly based on the drugs' potential for harm.

Tobacco causes 40 percent of all hospital illnesses, while alcohol is blamed for more than half of all visits to hospital emergency rooms. The substances also harm society in other ways, damaging families and occupying police services.

Nutt hopes their paper will provoke debate about how drugs - including alcohol - should be regulated.

"This is a landmark paper," said Leslie Iversen, professor of pharmacology at Oxford University. "It is the first real step toward an evidence-based classification of drugs." Based on the paper's results, he added, alcohol and tobacco could not be excluded.

"The rankings also suggest the need for better regulation of the more harmful drugs that are currently legal, [like] tobacco and alcohol," wrote Wayne Hall, of the University of Queensland in an accompanying Lancet article.

Nutt also called for more education on drugs. "All drugs are dangerous," he said. "Even the ones people know and love and use every day."




I Had A Dream............

Digital Art from MacMonkies



The Presidency
Web Specials Archives of the Utne Reader
By Barbara Marx Hubbard

It's the night of the presidential inauguration, 2009. We are in the White House with the new presidential team that has just transformed the political system of the United States.

The president is having a good time. Her beautiful red velvet gown shimmers in the candlelight, while her long dark hair frames her intelligent face in casual splendor. Her vice president is standing behind her, recounting their amazing victory. It is a moment of reminiscence and celebration.

Something radical has just happened, despite the predictions of the pundits and the mass media. The presidential team has been swept into victory by an 11th hour popular uprising. They developed a campaign so powerful at the grassroots level that they are being called the founding mothers and fathers of the next stage of democracy. They were the first team who could begin to appeal to the higher needs of an incipient majority for unity, compassion, and a comprehensive approach to the environmental crisis. They are basking in the glow of a truly great achievement.

Just as the experts had been astonished when the Berlin Wall came down in 1990, so now the pundits sit in stunned amazement at the White House celebration, speechless for once in the face of the vast social uprising that came forth during this campaign. Here are but a few highlights of what happened. The full history has yet to be written.

Making the Decision

In 2006, in the privacy of her heart, after deep contemplation and prayer, a woman made a critical decision. Eve Fuller (a fictional name) was a mother, an author, and a student of evolution, history, and social/spiritual change. She knew we were a global system at the edge of chaos. A small perturbation could transform the whole system, for good or for bad. Since it was a whole-system crisis, what was needed was a whole-system response. The American people needed a realistic vision of positive options for the future; not single examples of hope, caring, and success against the tide of despair, but innovations and breakthroughs that were interconnected and that together represented the natural evolutionary trend-the organizing intelligence of nature itself toward a more cooperative and life-enhancing world.

Eve's ideas had been shaped by Abraham Maslow's humanistic psychology that each of us has intrinsic growth needs for higher values and chosen, meaningful work; by Teilhard de Chardin's idea that God is at work in the process of evolution, leading to ever more complex systems with ever greater consciousness and freedom; and Buckminster Fuller's awareness that we have the resources, technology, and know-how to make this system work for everyone without damage to the environment.

Eve's profound indignation for the suffering of billions of people was combined with a passionate love of science, quantum physics, the space program, and the evolutionary significance of high technology as, potentially, an expansion of human consciousness and freedom. She saw that these new powers were preparing the way for our species to evolve from its self-centered, planet-bound, scarcity-ridden condition to its whole-centered, spirit-centered, literally universal phase.

She felt that the secular and the spiritual are fused in the deep human impulse to create and express the potential within each of us. She knew that everyone has a vital creative calling that is needed for the fulfillment of the person and the whole community. It seemed impossible in the competitive, commercial world to create a society in which people could express their life purpose in meaningful work, since most of us are now trapped in jobs or roles that inhibit self-expression and deaden our souls. Yet Eve saw that this will become possible-indeed, natural-at the next stage of socioeconomic development, when people are reassembled in human-scale communities and the knowledge society/solar age matures.

This was the real opportunity that was brought for the first time on Earth to masses of people by an affluent and free society. Material goals, once achieved, do not fulfill the human spirit. They are not the end; they are the beginning of the next phase of human development. Eve envisioned a presidential campaign that could ride upon the crest of desire to self-actualize through meaningful life purpose.

Creating Leadership

Once she had made her decision in the privacy of her heart, Eve's first step was to call her friends to help identify the best leaders in each key field, practical visionaries who had already manifested success in their work and who were well-networked with others in their fields. She sought to form a transition team that would incorporate new paradigm thinkers and activists with establishment baby boom leaders who-as a result of entering their sixties, moved by inner spiritual awakenings, their children grown and their careers secure-were looking again toward the future. This coalition between establishment types and new paradigm leaders would be difficult to create. However, she felt that it would be possible due to the fact that the nation was at peace, China had developed a more democratic system and was no longer perceived as a threat, and everywhere people realized that the environmental crisis was the number one threat on Earth.

By 2006, moreover, there was enough consensus on new public policy and conflict prevention that she believed that more establishment types would be ready to learn from the new paradigm leaders. People like William Ford of Ford Motor Company, retired general Colin Powell, and former secretary of the treasury Larry Summers were already transitional leaders from the establishment.

The paradigm leaders were people like Dee Dickinson in education, who had put together the New Horizons for Learning Web site for innovations in mind/body/spirit education and was already reaching hundreds of thousands of teachers; Hazel Henderson in eco-economic and social policy; Paul Hawken and Amory and Hunter Lovins in environment and energy; former Republican congresswoman Claudine Schneider in spiritually motivated political action; Larry Dossey, Andrew Weil, and Deepak Chopra in alternative, integrative, and complementary health and healing; Jean Houston in human potential; Lester Brown, Robert Kennedy Jr., and Thom Hartmann in environment; Marshall Rosenberg in compassionate communication and conflict resolution; Scott Peck in community building; citizen diplomat Rama Vernon and Joe Montville, formerly of the State Department, in conflict prevention and citizen diplomacy; Eleanor LeCain, Gordon Davidson, and Corinne McLaughlin in best practices; Peter Senge, Margaret Wheatley, and Dee Hock in organizational development; Neale Donald Walsch, best-selling author of Conversations with God, and Barbara Field Bernstein, master of organization, in spirituality and religion; and many others.

Eve also contacted John Hagelin, quantum physicist and founder of the Natural Law Party, which had been creating the largest third-party effort in U.S. history, collecting the millions of petition signatures required to be on the ballot in all 50 states, running thousands of candidates for local, state, and federal offices. For many years, he had asked people to "take ownership of the party." She knew that this party was founded by people who practice Transcendental Meditation and believe that the development of our full mental and emotional potential is the key to social change, and that over the years, the party had expanded to embrace all forms of practical spirituality, seeking out social innovations and solutions that work in all fields.

She also asked Don Beck, author of Spiral Dynamics, who had charted the memetic codes that guide the behavior of different cultures and who had helped overcome apartheid in South Africa, to help them construct a new memetic code based on life-enhancing policies and social innovations in every field. (A meme is a self-replicating idea that guides the development of a culture, just as a gene informs the building of a body.)

Her list made, Eve invited these leaders to meet as the guests of a church where she had once spoken. Its motto was "Resolve to Evolve-The Only Solution Is Our Evolution." In the sanctuary of the church, she stood and bowed her head in silence. It was a sacred moment.

Eve lifted her head and said, "I propose that we form a presidential team to transform the American presidency and to set the pattern for the transformation of our society.

"This team is to be initiated by people like ourselves who are willing to spend enough time to learn what each other knows, to discover the synergies between our various initiatives, and to work together to develop an Evolutionary Agenda-the real, practical options for a positive future. Although we can reach into the past for the wisdom we have lost, we cannot go back. We can only move forward.

"The Agenda will seek to realize Abraham Maslow's hierarchy of needs applied to society: basic needs for food, security, shelter, self-esteem; growth needs for self-rewarding work of intrinsic value; and transcendent needs to be part of a larger whole, and to go beyond the limitations imposed upon us by self-centered consciousness and a constricted view of our full personal, social, and technological potential. Our task is, at this stage, to link evolutionary, futuristic innovations that work with the best of existing environmental and social policies-to pull the whole system forward.

"Instead of playing adversarial politics, we will develop a 'politics of the whole.' We will form a Citizens' Coalition. Our motto will be 'Don't attack, attract.' The process of the campaign is the key, not only the policies, important as they are. Representative individualistic democracy has reached a limit. We need a more cooperative, participatory, synergistic democracy, a 'synocracy,' to fulfill the next phase of the American Revolution.

"We will invite people, regardless of party or ideology, to gather in large town meetings in the round, representing the community as a whole system. People will be invited to enter the sector of their choice-health, education, environment, economics, arts and media, and so on-to express their visions, their goals, their needs, and their personal desire to create in that field. We will facilitate them to seek common goals, match needs and resources, and find teammates to realize their vocations and projects. We will ask them what they know is really working.

"I propose that we work with the Natural Law Party, which is on the ballot in every district of the country. John Hagelin has already formed a national coalition of third parties, including the Greens and the Reform Party, along with mainstream Republicans, Democrats, and those who do not vote because they do not believe it will make a difference."

She nodded in appreciation to John, who for almost 2 decades had dedicated himself to building this new political base. A look of relief and joy crossed his features. He bowed his head.

"We need only one more catalytic act to shift the tide of American politics," Eve concluded.

Her speech was met by silence. Finally, one of the listeners arose, a highly successful academic and author. "My dear," he said, "you have stated the case. You have set the goal. I have been waiting all my life for the chance to do this. I'm in!" One by one, all the guests, who had been well-selected, stepped forward and committed themselves to the great work ahead.

Preparing the Message

The team spent the next few months on the Internet and in occasional meetings, sharing their visions, their personal intuitions as to what is emergent and working, and how the various projects and programs interconnect as parts of a living system that is based on the scientific reality of underlying unity from which all of Nature's evolutionary laws can be derived.

They acted as if they were already members of the Cabinet of the United States that actually guides the nation. They solidified the vision, bringing the future into the present. They decided that they would offer themselves as a team, to dispel the fallacy that any one person knows how to save the world. They saw an essential role of government to be to empower, coordinate, and inspire the work and creativity of the people and grassroots organizations already working effectively on a small scale.

Eve was their presidential candidate. The first man to offer his support at the meeting, Dr. Alan Jones, was selected to be the vice presidential candidate. Three teams were set up: one for policy, another for participation and synergy, and a third for social innovations.

They then began the fascinating work of reaching out to projects that had already been working to change a whole system, like Mimi Silbert's Delancy Street Foundation in San Francisco, where ex-convicts and former drug addicts learn entrepreneurship and rarely return to prison; microcredit loans for the very poor, which were begun in Bangladesh and are now spreading around the world; or Deborah Myers's South Central School in Harlem, where 90 percent of the students go on to college.

They started to flesh out the evolutionary agenda based on these initiatives, which were already creating new possibilities.

Working with Eleanor LeCain, they developed an Internet site called the Peace Room to scan for, map, connect, and communicate the best innovations and practices in every field, to allow people who want to get involved to know what is working, who can be their mentors, and how to find their teammates right where they live. They declared that the Peace Rooms on Earth would one day be more sophisticated than the war rooms of the world.

The team connected all relevant hot links and leaders of networks of positive change in every field, devising the most exciting set of options for the American people that had ever been put together-a new American pragmatism, irresistibly attractive, practical yet visionary.

It was the first campaign for, of, and by what social analyst Paul Ray called at the end of the 20th century "the cultural creatives," people whose values were already changing toward planetary consciousness, gender balance, sustainability, human rights, compassion, partnership, personal responsibility, social justice, nondenominational spirituality .At that time, they were an estimated 44 million, or one-fifth of the American population. Their number had since swelled, and they formed an incipient majority.

Eve believed that the campaign could gain immediate financial support from some of the founders of the high-tech era, those who had personal spiritual experience combined with the vision of resource-efficient economic growth and the intention to prevent further environmental destruction. She was grateful that the campaign-finance laws had been changed and there was now full public sponsorship, including free media, and no soft money for the presidential race. The campaign was launched on CNN worldwide. (Eve was a good friend of Ted Turner's. He agreed boldly to give the campaign worldwide coverage.) The event was designed with the flair of a NASA space launch. The whole team was on the set, standing together.

Eve stood forward and said, "This is an announcement of the Campaign for a Positive Future. I am running with this team for the presidency of the United States of America. If you elect me, here are the people who will serve you with me. Our purpose is to provide to you, to every person in this country, the opportunity to participate in creating the world you choose.

"We will come to every region of the United States to meet you face-to-face and find out from you what is already working. We will invite you to gather in large town meetings in the round, to share with each other and with us what you want to create, what your needs are, and what resources you are willing to give.

"Our Peace Room on the Internet will map and track breakthroughs from one part of the country to the next. We will ask that old military bases be used as situation rooms. Many retired military and corporate executives are offering to help design and monitor the vital signs of problems and solutions, of creativity and new possibilities in the United States. We are inviting our friends and neighbors in every country in the world to do the same. The Peace Room is open to the planet. In our first 4 years, we will have a full picture of the emerging world. This campaign is a call to bring together the greatest force for positive change that the world has ever seen."

A large wheel representing all sectors of society was visibly and graphically displayed on television. Innovators and projects already working were flashed on the screen and shown to be connected as vital parts of the whole system. Many of the social pioneers were gathered in the television studio, dramatically sharing their vision and practical solutions. Innovators came in by satellite to demonstrate the actions that were already working to educate, to clean the environment, to develop nonpolluting energy, to heal, to resolve conflict, and so on. The vice presidential candidate, followed by members of the proposed Cabinet, stood forward and spoke, pointing to demonstrations to back up policies and initiatives.

Eve concluded her talk: "We can ensure that every new automobile gets 100 miles to the gallon, according to William Ford, our proposed energy secretary and former head of Ford Motors. We can save the world's rainforests, coral reefs, and oceans by shifting 2 percent of the defense budget to such goals without endangering national security, a plan to be implemented by Colin Powell, our proposed secretary of defense. We can focus on low-cost disease prevention rather than continue to waste money on high-cost cures, a new direction that can save $100 billion in the nation's medical bills, according to studies conducted by Andrew Weil and Dean Ornish, our nominated advisors to the department of health and human services.

"Come and join us in creating a positive future for yourself, your children, and your communities," she ended.

The Momentum of Change

The event was a spectacular success. It topped the ratings for that night, causing panic in the other campaigns. It no longer seemed cool to make your announcement all alone and pretend that you knew what to do. The other candidates began to seek out initiatives that were working. In fact, it became the new one-upmanship in American politics. Instead of fighting against one another, political candidates in the Democratic and Republican parties tried to gain attention by finding the most exciting innovations.

But Eve and the Citizens' Coalition were way ahead of the others. They were already networked to the vast civil society. The social-potential movement came alive. Musicians drew crowds to the town meetings in the round, which became combinations of revival meetings, country fairs, and Chautauquas.

Politicians of all kinds wanted to speak at the events. No one dared be left out. Teams of therapists and counselors assisted citizens who had been marginalized. They formed a Council of High Priority Needs and coached people who had been rejected to enter the process of change. Organizational-development consultants helped design and facilitate the synergistic meetings.

CNN covered the events live. Town meetings in the round spread like wildfire at the grassroots level. The meetings were like self-replicating cells of a new social life, working on the "3 Ps"-Policy, Projects, and Process. They spread to other countries. In China, a mass movement appeared, attracting people into an effort to build a freely cooperative process to take them beyond the social failures of greed, pollution, and unemployment brought on by the early stage of capitalism. The meetings proclaimed the era of cooperation and creativity. The Communist Party did not know whether they were to be feared or propagated.

Wherever town meetings occurred, permanent Positive Future Centers sprang up, serving as hubs for like-minded citizens to gather, support each other, pray together, and work to rebuild their communities. The candidates asked all Centers, at every meeting, to visualize the victory of the Campaign for a Positive Future as already accomplished, to affirm that the people had won, that the team had been elected, and that Positive Future Centers were self-organizing throughout the world. Thousands of separate centers began every meeting with envisioning, praying for, and affirming the victory. The larger mass meditations for peace all predicated the Campaign's victory.

The power of prayer was directly applied to healing social disease and promoting wellness throughout the land. The secular and the spiritual joined in one breath and one purpose, animating the people involved with a new spirit of hope and even happiness. Instead of rallying for a war effort or natural disaster, people were excited about coming together to create. Eve coined the phrase "Vocational arousal is sweeping the nation."

The team discovered that a community in Santa Barbara, California, had already pioneered tools and templates for any community to form a "more perfect union" where every person was called upon to make a contribution and where all levels of government and citizen groups were coordinating themselves for long range, holistic environmental and social goals. The Santa Barbara cooperative worked around the clock, training facilitators from all over the country.

Although extreme right-wing conservatives were dismayed, and at first attempted to discredit the team, they were eventually disarmed because the programs and processes were in fact new ways to realize their goals of less government control and more responsibility at the local level. The team also attracted Libertarians, liberal baby boomers, disaffected voters from both main parties, and, above all, the young. This was their campaign, and they would win it! The momentum was irresistible.

There was a three-way race-as had happened years before for the governorship in Minnesota-between Eve and the team, a Democrat, and a Republican. The Citizens' Coalition won. In one profound moment, the United States returned-after a too-long hiatus-to being a beacon of the next stage of human freedom, a partner to people everywhere on Earth.

Barbara Marx Hubbard is a futurist and lecturer who has authored four books, most recently Conscious Evolution: Awakening the Power of Our Social Potential. Hubbard was placed in nomination for the vice presidency of the United States on the Democratic ticket in 1984, where she received more than 200 delegates' signatures to propose to the Convention a Peace Room in the office of the vice president. She is president of the Foundation for Conscious Evolution in Santa Barbara, California.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Maybe That Is Why I'm Still Trying To Find My Way Through This Maze....


POT MAY BE BOOST TO OLDER BRAINS
(from Media Awareness Project)


Stoners who spent the 1960s and '70s in a haze could find themselves surprisingly lucid in old age: the marijuana they smoked helps protect against Alzheimer's disease, a new study found.

Anti-inflammatory compounds in pot deflect the memory loss associated with the illness and could ultimately slow its progression, said psychology Prof. Gary Wenk of Ohio State University.

Wenk gave old rats - who, like humans, tend to get lost as they age - a synthetic form of marijuana. The ones given the drug found their way through a maze more easily.

"That's not going to cure Alzheimer's disease, but it's going to help a lot because by reducing inflammation we're going to rescue some neurons - we're going to help you not decay so fast," said Wenk, who presented his findings yesterday at the Society for Neuroscience meeting in Atlanta.

But scientists still need to find a compound that reduces brain inflammation without triggering a high, said Wenk, whose research is funded by the federal government, which has long criminalized marijuana.

"You can't add a high onto a dementia. You're just going to make the person more impaired," he said.

The drug was effective in older rats with modest memory impairments, but it's not yet clear when humans would most benefit from taking a nonpsychoactive form of it.

Grateful Dead-era potheads offer a clue, though.

"There's this fear as the Baby Boomers get older that there's going to be more and more people with Alzheimer's," Wenk said.

"It may be we're surprised by the fact that this illicit compound used decades ago might alter how many people get diagnosed."

Monday, March 19, 2007

Four Years and Counting..........



Protests Continue to Mark Fourth Anniversary of Iraq War

Protests to mark the fourth anniversary of the Iraq invasion are continuing today across the country. In New York peace activists are taking part in mass civil disobedience on Wall Street. In San Francisco, activists are planning to stage a die-in at the Federal Reserve Building. On Saturday tens of thousands of protesters took part in a March on the Pentagon. Protests were also held over the weekend in New York City, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle, Minneapolis, and scores of other cities. This is former U.S. soldier Terry O'Brien, a member of Iraq Veterans Against the War.

Terry O'Brien:"I'm basically here to support the troops. I think the only way to support the troops is to be here on the streets and demand that they come home and I'm here to support the self-determination of the Iraqi people."

In New York, protesters marched by the offices of Democratic Senators Hillary Clinton and Chuck Schumer. The protest took place just days after Senator Clinton said she would keep troops in Iraq if she were elected president. The actor Martin Sheen and thousands of others marched in Hollywood.

Martin Sheen: "This government, no. It does not represent the people. It"s given us a horrible name, it's given us an obscene war, and they have no leadership, and no credibility. They are disgraceful. They all belong in the federal penitentiary, all of them."

Worldwide Peace Protests Held From Australia to Greece

Protests were also held around the world including in Australia, Chile, Turkey, South Korea, Malyasia and Greece. In Madrid, the Oscar winning filmmaker Pedro Almodovar, joined a massive protest of up to 400,000 people.

Pedro Almodovar: "According to Bush, this war was going to be quick, it was only going to take a few weeks and it's been four years. I think that what's really disgusting is to read everyday on the papers the number of deaths in Iraq, that makes me feel so powerless. I find that frightening."

222 Arrested Outside the White House

In Washington, anti-war protests began on Friday night when 222 people were arrested outside the White House. Many were Christian peace activists who had just taken part in a prayer service at the National Cathedral. This is Faith Garlington who traveled to Washington from Atlanta Georgia.

Faith Garlington: "We as Christians do not support his invasion of Iraq. We want the troops out immediately. We as Christian do not want, we do not want this war fought in the name of Christ."

Iraq Vets Launch Caravan to Build Opposition to War

Veterans for Peace and Iraq Veterans Against the War are launching a caravan today to visit military towns across the east coast to build opposition to the war within the ranks. Stops on the caravan include Fort Bragg in North Carolina, Fort Jackson in South Carolina and Fort Stewart in Georgia.

Vigils Continue Outside Homes of Nancy Pelosi

Meanwhile in San Francisco and Washington, vigils are continuing to take place outside the homes of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Protesters are urging her to cut off funding to the war.

Robert Gates: U.S. Will Remain in Middle East For Decades

On Friday, Defense Secretary Robert Gates warned that the United States plans to maintain a presence in the Middle East for decades to come. Gates made the comment during the swearing-in ceremony of Admiral William Fallon to become the new head of U.S. Central Command replacing General John Abizaid. Fallon is the first Naval officer to ever take the helm of Centcom.

Poll: 18% Of Iraqis Have Confidence in U.S. Forces

Opposition to U.S. forces in Iraq remains high four years after the start of the occupation. A new survey from the BBC found just 18 percent of Iraqis have confidence in U.S.-led forces. On Friday, over ten thousand Shiite Iraqis rallied in Sadr City to denounce plans for the U.S. to build bases in the Shiite neighborhood.

Australian Scientist: 1 Million Iraqis Killed Since Invasion

An Australian scientist is estimating the number of deaths in Iraq since the start of the conflict four years ago could be as high as one million. Dr Gideon Polya said "Using the most comprehensive and authoritative literature, and UN demographic data yields an estimate of one million post-invasion excess deaths in Iraq." In October researchers at Johns Hopkins estimated more than 650,000 Iraqis had died since the U.S. invasion.

Chlorine Attack Kills Two, Injures 350

On Saturday two Iraqis died and 350 more were poisoned when three suicide bombers drove trucks filled with chlorine into the offices of a Sunni tribal leader in Iraq.

Valerie Plame Testifies Before Congress

In Washington, it has been revealed that the White House never ordered a probe who outted covert CIA operative Valerie Plame. James Knodell, the director of the Office of Security at the White House, made the admission on Friday during a hearing of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. The committee's chair Democrat Henry Waxman has written to the White House to demand why no investigation was ordered. At the same hearing, Valerie Plame testified in public for the first time.

Valerie Plame: "My name and identity were carelessly and recklessly abused by senior government officials in both the White House and the State Department. All of them understood that I worked for the CIA, and having signed oaths to protect national security secrets, they should have been diligent in protecting me and every CIA officer."

Valerie Plame also described how she learned that columnist Robert Novak had publicly identified her as a CIA agent.

Valerie Plame: "I found out very early in the morning when my husband came in and dropped the newspaper on the bed, and said he did it. And I quickly turned and read the article and I felt like I had been hit in the gut. It was over in an instant and I immediately thought of my family's safety, the agents, the networks that I had worked with, and everything goes through your mind in an instant."

Pressure Intensifies on Alberto Gonzales to Resign

Pressure on Attorney General Alberto Gonzales to resign is intensifying over his role in the political purging of eight U.S. Attorneys. New York Senator Chuck Schumer says he wouldn't be surprised if Gonzales doesn't survive another week on the job.

Sen. Leahy Considers Subpoenaing Karl Rove

Senior White House officials, including chief political strategist Karl Rove and former presidential counsel Harriet Miers may be subpoenaed by Senate Judiciary Committee Chair Patrick Leahy if they do not agree to testify in the probe into the firings of the U.S. attorneys. On Sunday, Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein of California revealed that Gonzales" former chief of staff, D. Kyle Sampson, described fired U.S. Attorney Carol Lam as a "real problem" one day after Lam announced plans to execute search warrants on Kyle Dustin "Dusty" Foggo, the third-ranking CIA official at the time

Conyers Questions Gonzales Role in Squashing Wiretap Probe

Meanwhile House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers has sent Alberto Gonzales a letter in response to allegations that Gonzales may have advised President Bush to shut down an investigation into the administration's domestic wiretapping surveillance program because of his role in the program. Conyers wrote "It would be an extraordinary abuse of authority if you advised the President on this matter after learning that your own conduct was to be investigated." Conyers wrote his article following the publication of an article on the issue by Murray Waas in the National Journal.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Can You See The Forest For The Trees?


Catalog of social change

by Aiden Enns (From Geez Magazine)

WE DON’T GIVE ENOUGH CREDIT to the many agents of social change. Maybe it’s because we’re so hung up on our own little efforts. Still, it’s good to take a tally every once in a while and remind ourselves we’re not alone. There’s a movement larger than us at work in the world. So who’s all taking part?


Vanguardists

These are folks who aim to break through the public’s consciousness with a “better way to go.” Often in the limelight, these folks are hard core: high principles, lots of sacrifice and noble aims. They sometimes see compromise as caving and tend to sneer at incremental change, or “change from within.”

Vanguardists could be vegans serving free meals downtown with Food Not Bombs, or “freegans” (who eat only free food, usually from dumpsters) who coordinate local barter economies. Vanguardists can also be seen in war zones, like Christian Peacemaker Teams, who literally stand in between Israeli tanks and Palestinian homes.


Embodiment politics

Right behind those on the vanguard is an often quiet community of activists living out what I’ll call “post-turbo-capitalist” ways. These are folks like those at Anathoth Farm in semi-rural Wisconsin, the Simple Way community Philadelphia’s core, or Catholic Worker houses of hospitality in major cities.

Often these folks are visionary and inspiring, but there’s low fan-fare. You won’t find the hype that is associated with other aspects of the anti-capitalist community.

These people engage in “prefigurative politics,” a term Cynthia Kaufman uses in her excellent primer on the theory of social change, Ideas for Action: Relevant Theory for Radical Change, (South End Press, 2003). This group assumes “we should act right now as if we were living in the better world we are fighting for,” she says. This means, for example, creating structures without hierarchy, striving toward consensus decision making, and being conscious of environmental impact.


Culture jammers

If you’ve ever seen a stop sign adorned with a “shopping” sticker in bold letters, you’ve witnessed the work of a culture jammer. These are folks who take the discourse of consumer culture, direct it at itself and allow the beast of consumer capitalism to bite its own tail.

Examples include the Billboard Liberation Front who will transform commercial messages into art or social messages, and “Whirl-Mart” actions on “Buy Nothing Day“http://adbusters.org/metas/eco/bnd// (ten or twenty activists enter Wal-Mart with empty carts, snake through the aisles and comment on the joys of not shopping). Culture jamming has found expression in Adbusters magazine and the book Culture Jam, by editor-in-chief Kalle Lasn.


Culture workers

These folks change the world from the bottom up. Rather than focusing energy on the upper echelons of power – self-serving businessmen, government cronies and rogue military commanders – these people focus on concrete ways to change the culture.

This thinking stems from Antonio Gramsci, who used the word “hegemony” to describe how a population can consent to its own oppression. There’s always a tension between strong leaders (fascist or otherwise) pushing people around, and the people agreeing to go.

Culture workers understand the quiet force of social consensus and seek to move it in a positive direction. Male privilege, fossil fuel dependency, military economy: somehow the majority of us agree to these problems, whether we know it or not. This social consensus can be shifted through “culture work” such as popular education, independent music recordings, street theater, newsletters, social justice film festivals and discussion groups.

These are the types who turn protests into dance parties, have costumed soccer games, or revolutionary marching bands. Reclaiming public spaces for art and recreation is, for culture workers, an attractive alternative to the commodification of what was once shared.


Independent media

A simple exercise will prove the point that our culture is dominated by a few commercial media conglomerates: Google the phrase “who owns what” and come to a site from Columbia Journalism Review that lists the top 20 or 30 companies that own almost everything in the North American media and entertainment industry.

For example, Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation owns Fox TV, TV Guide, HarperCollins books, the LA Kings and 20th Century Fox, all of which feed into the corporation’s mutually reinforcing empire. Profit expansion and entertainment sedation go well together.

In response, there are media analysts (e.g., Nancy Snow), journalists (e.g., Amy Goodman, indymedia.org), broadcasters (e.g., NPR), programmers, publishers and others offering independent news, views and entertainment.


Coalition builders

Change happens when people organize. Civil society, in the form of non-profits, NGOs or public interest research groups (PIRGs), can influence government policy (e.g., lobby for a higher minimum wage or rent controls). Or, they can create independent community services, like art classes in the inner city, cooking skills for low-income folks, health care, and tutoring.

Anti-poverty organizers meet fair-trade activists, organic food producers meet with bike mechanics from the worker cooperative. You could even say it’s like charity meets self-help. But it’s neither: this is people power.


Insider allies

The ranks of the middle and upper classes and other privileged groups have well-meaning individuals who want to share power. Some of these folks may even favor radical change, change that challenges their own power. They’re convinced major change happens when people on the inside of major institutions act as catalysts.

On the grand scale, you’ve got your CEOs for climate change and rich celebrities stopping AIDS. Closer to home, you’ve got people like the civic bureaucrat who finds money for the food bank, or the police officer who initiates training in racism-awareness. Insiders may be crucial allies (or infiltrators, depending on your perspective).


Defectors

Among the ranks of every bastion of power, there are individuals who smell hypocrisy and hit eject. They become experts for how not to do things. Defectors pop out from all over the place: the military (like “refuseniks” in the Israeli Defense Forces who refuse to carry out operations in the West Bank and Gaza), the media (e.g., Jelly Helm), the church (some liberation theologians) and medicine (witness the rise in “alternative” health care). Others, like anarcho-primitivists, for example, wish to defect from industrial civilization altogether, favoring small-scale, rural off-the-grid living.


Dissenters

Unlike defectors, who first enjoy mainstream status and then abandon it, dissenters speak out, often from the margins of their social group. Most newspapers, schools, churches and governments have their radicals/mavericks/loudmouths – they usually get tagged with a label of some sort. While annoying to many, these individuals often articulate frustration from below, problems with the status quo.

In theological circles, this dissenting voice can take the form of a “hermeneutics of suspicion” (we could say “prophecy,” but that word is overused). Powerful characters are not assumed to be good; any concentration of power is meant to be challenged.


Disruptives

Here the explicit strategy is to impede business as usual. To compare: Culture jammers disrupt but don’t force it on others. Dissenters offer subversive speech but leave the actions to others. Disruptives see the need for action now, and step in the way to impede business as usual.

Disruptives often enter the circle of power from a location on the fringe. A good example is when hundreds of cyclists merge on a street and flop to the ground in a “die-in.”

Perhaps the best-known agitator in the mid-twentieth century was Saul Alinsky (see his book, Rules for Radicals).

“My critics are right when they call me an outside agitator,” he said in an interview with Playboy in 1972.

“When a community, any kind of community, is hopeless and helpless, it requires somebody from outside to come in and stir things up. That’s my job – to unsettle them, to make them start asking questions, to teach them to stop talking and start acting, because the fat cats in charge never hear with their ears, only through their rears.”


Cultural creatives

It’s worth mentioning this group as evidence of the “mainstreaming” of alternative values. Here we have concern for the environment, aversion to advertising, downplay of luxury living, and a spiritual sense of our interconnectedness.

They eat organic, ride nice bikes, give to progressive charities and read enlightening magazines (like Utne, Yes! and Geez). While they would claim to be making a broad cultural shift, sometimes it seems they trust radical change will just happen, or leave it to others to initiate. According to Paul Ray and Sherry Ruth Anderson, authors of The Cultural Creatives, there are 50 million of these “optimistic, altruistic” people in the US.


Contemplatives

These are folks who occupy a subversive presence in both consumer culture and activism because they are able to curb desire and address root causes. Youth meditating in front of a police line, a woman who regularly goes to yoga class, a man who faithfully sees his spiritual director, a Buddhist who learns simplicity and interdependence – these people are a source of sustenance for the movement.



Joanna Macy, a Buddhist teacher and activist, uses public education workshops to examine our culture’s ailment and fortify our resolve to change things. Richard Rohr, a Franciscan priest, started the Centre for Action and Contemplation. Rohr represents a growing awareness that action without contemplation can be draining and short-lived.

Aiden Enns is publisher Geez magazine. This article is protected by Copyright 2007, Geez magazine.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

For Your Eyes Only? or Back in the USSR......


Whistleblower Mark Klein

From the PBS show NOW

Mark Klein alleges that AT&T cooperated with the National Security Agency in 2003 to install equipment capable of eavesdropping on the public's e-mail messages and other Internet traffic. He worked for AT&T as a technician for over 22 years, first in New York and then in California, before leaving the company in 2004.

Klein prepared a statement and a number of documents describing what he calls a "secret room" at the AT&T Internet and telephone hub in San Francisco which he says holds a piece of equipment capable of sifting through large volumes of Internet traffic. The material has been submitted as part of a class-action lawsuit by the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a civil liberties group, against the telecom giant. In the January 2006 suit, the Foundation alleges AT&T helped the security agency invade its customers' privacy.

The papers are a combination of corporate blueprints and Klein's observations. He alleges that AT&T used "splitters" to tap into gigantic fiber-optic lines that carry Internet traffic.

Klein said a piece of equipment—a Narus STA 6400 - was installed in the facility at AT&T. Narus manufactures data-mining devices that allow organizations to sift through the information in Internet traffic and identify nuggets of interest in e-mail, users' Web-surfing and Internet phone calls.

The documents, which Klein gave to a number of news outlets before the court sealed them, have been made available by Wired News. It is not clear whether the documents published by Wired were the same as those at the heart of the lawsuit against AT&T. Wired acknowledged it could not say for sure, because the records were sealed after the document were first obtained by the online news outlet. Wired has said the AT&T documents "appear to be excerpted from material that was later filed in the lawsuit under seal.

"For its part, AT&T told NOW in a statement that it is fully committed to protecting its customers' privacy and does not comment on matters of national security.

The full file of evidence compiled by Klein is available at Wired: Whistle-Blower's Evidence, Uncut

Related Links:» Wired: Wiretap Whistle-Blower's Account»

Wired: Whistle-Blower Outs NSA Spy Room»

Wired: The Ultimate Net Monitoring Tool

E-mail this page to a friend

AP Finally Reporting the Filth as it Bubbles to the Surface


Analysis: Patriot woes weigh on Gonzales
By RON FOURNIER -- Associated Press Writer
Published 10:44 pm PST Friday, March 9, 2007


WASHINGTON (AP) Another day, another scandal. The Justice Department's improper and illegal use of the USA Patriot Act puts Attorney General Alberto Gonzales on the hot seat, an all-too-familiar place for President Bush's inner circle.
The last thing a troubled president needs is another friend in trouble.

"This strikes me as another blow for the administration," said Republican consultant Joe Gaylord.

He was not the only Republican fretting about the Bush White House after a Justice Department audit criticizing the FBI's use of post-9/11 powers to secretly obtain personal information.

"This is, regrettably, part of an ongoing process where the federal authorities are not really sensitive to privacy and go far beyond what we have authorized," said Sen. Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania, ranking Republican on the Judiciary Committee.

Lawmakers were already seething at the Justice Department for the firing of eight federal prosecutors and Gonzales' dismissive response to critics.

"One day there will be a new attorney general, maybe sooner rather than later," Specter said Thursday.

It is too soon to tell whether Gonzales will be forced to leave, but his ouster would do little to change a perception that the Bush administration is unraveling amid declining public support and trust. Some heads have already rolled.

Donald H. Rumsfeld was forced to resign after Democrats seized control of Congress in fall elections that were a repudiation of Bush's policies on Iraq.

I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, a powerful adviser to Vice President Dick Cheney, left the White House to face perjury charges in the investigation of the exposure of a CIA official. He was convicted Tuesday in a trial that also revealed that top Bush aide Karl Rove and a State Department official played roles in the CIA leak, part of a White House strategy to undermine a critic of the Iraq war.

Jim Nicholson, secretary of Veterans Affairs, is clinging to his job amid revelations of shoddy treatment for wounded troops from the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.

The latest events are more heavy baggage for a president who's already close to his limit. Re-elected by a comfortable margin in 2004, Bush watched his job approval rating plummet in 2005 with the rise of violence in Iraq and the government's weak response and follow-up to Hurricane Katrina.

With a rating of just 35 percent, Bush's standing is the weakest of any second-term president at this point in 56 years.

"Gonzales' problems here feed into and build on all of the competence issues that have been dogging the administration since Katrina," said Charles Franklin, political science professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Gonzales, architect of Bush's controversial approach to detaining and interrogating terrorism suspects, drew the wrath of lawmakers when he dismissed the hubbub over fired prosecutors as an "overblown personnel matter." Critics say the U.S. attorneys were dismissed for refusing to do the administration's political bidding.

Under fire, Gonzales beat an abrupt retreat and agreed to accommodate Democratic-led investigations.

On the wrongdoing regarding the Patriot Act, a spokesman for Gonzales said he was incensed by the allegations.

If nothing else, perhaps Gonzales is displaying a scintilla of accountability, a trait the administration reluctantly embraced after Katrina and throughout the Iraq war.

Still, some say it may be time for Gonzales to go.

"The president is dealing with Iraq, Afghanistan and a new Congress, and the last thing in the world he needs is this," said Joseph diGenova, who served as U.S. attorney in the District of Columbia in the Reagan administration. "At some point, he throws up his hands and says 'Get somebody new.' I don't know when that is."

Alarmed by the Justice audit, Sen. John Sununu, R-N.H., decried what he called "a failure of leadership" in the agency. The same was said of the Federal Emergency Management Agency after Katrina, and now Walter Reed and the VA.



--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

March to Bring the Troops Home


Send a Message!
It's easy: just order your sign online, and then pick it up at the protest. We're also looking for volunteers to help us distribute the signs.
To order a sign, click here.


March 18th, San Francisco, Market Street

Pick up Your Sign: Justin Herman PlazaMarket & Steuart Streets 12:00 noon to 1:00 p.m.

March!: 1:00 p.m.


In January, nearly 1,000 activists from across the country carried Working Assets' signs in a march in Washington D.C. to speak out against Bush's Iraq policy. This month, we will be marching in San Francisco.

On March 18, activists from around northern California will gather in San Francisco to deliver a clear message: Bring the troops home from Iraq. We, the American people, need to show our opposition to the ongoing occupation of Iraq by showing up in force. Bring your noisemakers, friends, children, parents and neighbors to show your support for peace.

Please note that the march is being coordinated by a group called International ANSWER, and Working Assets does not endorse their positions. However, on the fourth anniversary of the illegal invasion of Iraq, we feel it is important to stand up and protest. So if you want to march with people who share your values...join us!

Meet us between noon and 1 P.M. near Justin Herman Plaza (across Steuart street from One Market restaurant, on the Embarcadero) where we'll assemble and hand out free signs printed especially for the march. Look for the Working Assets banner and our signature green signs. At 1 p.m. we will fall in line and march from Justin Herman Plaza to Civic Center with our members and a mobile DJ!

To reserve your free sign now, click here.
Please join us, and other peace & justice-loving Americans, on March 18th for this historic outpouring of resistance to Bush's escalation.

Find more details, volunteer at the event, or order an anti-war sign by clicking here.
Please share this message with anyone you know who disapproves of President Bush's misguided Iraq policy.

Sincerely,
Will EastonManagerActForChange.com / Working Assets

Is this e-mail going to your junk/bulk folder? Add actforchange@act.actforchange.com to your address book to ensure that you receive all future communications in your in-box.To view our Privacy Policy, please click here.To unsubscribe or to make a change to your e-mail address or newsletter subscriptions, please click here.In our records you are: aspringwind@yahoo.com. If you have any comments or questions, please e-mail volunteers@volunteerforchange.org. Or write to us at: 101 Market Street, Suite 700, San Francisco, CA, 94105.

Friday, March 09, 2007

Will Royalty Fees Kill the Internet Radio Stars?


New royalty rates could pull the plug on online radio stations

March 8, 2007By Mary O'Regan,Arbitron and Edison Media Research (pdf). Listeners are attracted to the commercial-free programs and diverse music selection, and artists love the additional outlet for their music. But a new Copyright Royalty Board decision pushed by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), a trade group representing most mainstream record labels, might turn good old rock 'n' roll into cold, hard static.

At the beginning of the month, the board announced a hefty hike in the cost of royalties paid by internet radio stations. Radio and Internet Newsletter reports that, effective retroactively through the beginning of 2006, online stations will be required to pay $.0008 per song, per listener. The amount jumps to $.0011 for 2007 and $.0014 the following year, with an annual minimum of $500 for each channel.

For indie stations such as Radio Paradise, the new royalty rates are devastating. Founder Bill Goldsmith writes on SaveOurInternetRadio.com, "We are now liable for royalties, retroactive to the beginning of 2006, that are equal to approximately 125 percent of our income." According to Goldsmith, the problem began in the late '90s when Congress ruled that analog and digital broadcasts are not the same thing. "Members of Congress (who at that time had no idea how this whole digital thing worked) accepted it at face value, and agreed that it was only fair that digital broadcasts be subject to additional copyright fees" -- fees that terrestrial radio stations owned by companies like Clear Channel don't face.

Tim Westergren, founder of Pandora.com, one of the most popular sources of music on the web, calls the move a misguided attempt to solve the record industry's business woes. "This is a terribly ill-conceived attempt to crush a powerful and positive grassroots movement that is sweeping across the music world," he writes on his blog. "The record labels' struggles have nothing to do with online radio and killing it will further hurt their business, not help it." Westergren and Glodsmith are calling for listeners to contact their congresspersons and sign a Save Internet Radio! online petition. Similarly, Gizmodo, an online gadget guide, has declared March "Boycott the RIAA Month," encouraging readers to stop buying CDs put out by labels that are members of the RIAA.

Unfortunately, there seems to be little that can be done. Webcasters have the option of moving their broadcast overseas, but as Pam McClusky, program manager of Ram Radio, an online country station, tells BlogCritics.org, "I broadcast American music and this is going to bump us right out of our own country."


Go there >> Webcast Royalty Rate Decision Announced
Go there, too >> Webcasters Get Socked Again
And there >> Putting Our Money Where Our Mouths Are: Boycott the RIAA in March

Related Links:
The View From Paradise
RIAA's New Royalty Rates Will Kill Online Radio!!
Save Internet Radio! Petition
Internet and Multimedia 2006 (pdf)

Related Links from the Utne Reader Archive:
What's Your Story?
Carved in Stone
The Return of Low-Power FM
Indie Radio Lives!
57 Channels and Nothing On

Comments? Story tips? Write a letter to the editor
Like this? Want more? Subscribe to Utne Reader

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Monday, March 05, 2007

Preserving The Oil Corporations' Way of Life.............


MotherJones.com / washington_dispatch / 2007

Iraqi Oil Agreement Reveals the True Winners in Iraq

The new oil revenue-sharing agreement is a giveaway to Big Oil and could end up tearing apart the country.

James Ridgeway
March 01 , 2007


The Iraqi oil deal set to go before the country's parliament next month could spell the end of the country as a nation state, and signals a major Bush victory in the war. The proposed law not only opens the door to the big international oil companies, but offers them lucrative contract deals, and even a place on the national oil board that will run the industry.

The Byzantine scheme for dividing up oil revenues on the basis of population is little more than a facade for the biggest rip off of resources since the British barged into Mesopotamia more than a century ago.

This law sanctions contracts between Iraq's individual regions and foreign oil companies. It effectively puts an end to a nationalized petroleum industry that has provided most of the country's revenue. Over time, the oil revenues might sustain an independent Kurdistan, along with a Shia state, and a Sunni state (though the Sunnis don't have much oil, at least among the known Iraqi reserves). The law sets up a system that opens the door for foreign companies to make the country's oil policy. A new federal Oil and Gas Council is to assist the Council of Ministers, "in coordination with the producing provinces and regions." This council is to include the prime minister and other cabinet members, directors of the central bank, representatives from the various regions, and "executive managers from important related petroleum companies, including the national Iraqi oil company and the oil marketing company."

Thanks to Raed Jarrar, you can read an English translation of the new law at Al-Ghad, the "voice of the democratic left in Iraq."

The main opposition to the proposal comes from the federation of Iraq oil unions, whose president, Hasan Jum`ah `Awwad al-Asadi, Head of the Federation of Oil Unions, said in a February 6 speech that "We strongly warn all the foreign companies and foreign capital in the form of American companies against coming into our lands under the guise of production-sharing agreements."

Al-Asadi called the law "unbalanced," arguing that "it has been drafted in a great rush in harsh circumstances" and would set "region against region." Other opponents of the deal have formed a coalition led by the London-based group Platform.

While the deal, on its face, splits up control of Iraq's oil among Kurds, Shia and Sunnis, the real power remains in the hands of international companies that will craft contracts with Iraq's regional entities and put up most or all of the money for exploration, development of infrastructure, and actual production, primarily through financial devices known as production sharing agreements. These agreements, which are not widely used in the industry, typically involve a public and a private partner, and stipulate that oil revenue will first go to the private partner to cover expenses and exploration costs. In Iraq, those costs are likely to be considerable since the industrial infrastructure will have to be rebuilt in many areas and much of the country's oil has not yet been mapped. Arguments between the parties will be settled by tribunals outside Iraq.

The new law would give the international companies the right to set the rates of production of each oil field. These fields are immense; a single one can account for 10 percent of the nation's budget.

"Sovereignty is surrendered with this law," Ewa Jasiecz of Platform, the London-based group that has followed the evolution of the new law, tells Mother Jones from London. "Their dealings are secretive, in English. Disputes will be settled by international tribunals in Paris or Geneva. They operate outside Iraqi law." (Platform has published an extensive critique of Iraqi oil politics here.)

Iraq currently has the second or third largest known oil reserves in the world; once completely mapped, it may turn out to have the largest reserves, period. These reserves will become more important over time because Saudi Arabia's reserves are now widely believed to have been overstated, and are in any case beginning to decline. In that context, private control of oil in Iraq — not a member of OPEC — also presents a serious challenge to whatever control OPEC still has over prices and production. People who say the United States lost the war are missing an important point. The oil companies may well be winning.

James Ridgeway is the Washington Correspondent for Mother Jones.


. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

This article has been made possible by the Foundation for National Progress, the Investigative Fund of Mother Jones, and gifts from generous readers like you.

© 2007 The Foundation for National Progress

Friday, March 02, 2007

Where Will We Get Our Sustenance and Nourishment???


Painting by Monica Sjöö who died on my birthday 8 August 2005, after a long illness and is sadly missed by many people.

You can read tributes to her in Goddess Alive! magazine and there is also a tribute from Starhawk here.

There is also an obituary in the Guardian of Friday 23rd September, 2005


Honoring The Mother:
Sacred Ecology
By Rev. Susan Chamberlain



The same stream of life that runs through the world runs through my veins day and night in rhythmic measure. It is the same life that shoots in joy through the soil of the earth into numberless waves of flowers.
— Rabindranath Tagore


In the womb, who nourished and tended you before your birth? Who sent precious nutrients into the formation of your limbs and bones, into the vital organs of your physical being? As a child, who fed and clothed you? Who reared you to be strong in body and mind to live in this world? Will not most of us immediately think of our biological mothers as the answer to such questions?

Afterall it was their bodies that supplied the vital blood, oxygen, and nutrients necessary for our fetal development; they cradled us in their arms and nursed us, and set meals before us during our growing-up years. Our biological mothers were mainly responsible for us as we grew toward adulthood.

However, rarely do any of us think of the one mother who is truly responsible for all life that flourishes here — Our Mother, the Earth. Without her atmosphere, shelter, food supply and care, no life would exist on this planet. Earth, herself, is that divine feminine, regenerative life force that thrives in our solar system, the beautiful blue planet of teeming life forms.

She tends sheep, cattle, wild-life, and vegetation — all of life within her scope, and she most assuredly has tended to her human children as well, offering us nourishment and resources with which to build a world, to create civilizations and technologies.

Her body has grown us into a species of power and resourcefulness, but we are also a species that has within its capacities, the ability to preserve or destroy all life upon the earth, and to cause this magnificent life-centered planet to become a dead zone in the cosmos.

We have reached a critical time in earth history where we, humans, need to reconnect with our Earth Mother, and to recognize our very existence as coming from the womb of her being. Universal Spirit flows through her, and through every one of her offspring.

The noted theologian, Matthew Fox, says that man has to awaken to his cosmology — the recognition that the story of our existence started 14 billion years ago with the “Big Bang”, and that everything in the universe is interconnected in One massive web of life. That we live as humans upon planet Earth is a blessing of divine manifested Spirit, and with Earth, we are connected to the animals, trees, streams, and mountains; we are of One essence — born from the stars and birthed from the Earth.

Many of us have heard the expression — ”We are all spiritual beings having a human experience”, but too often we have become lost in the illusions of the material world where Earth is real estate and a commodity for hu-man use, and all the fellow elements of the planet are here for our own design and purpose. We behave as if we have the right to defile our streams and air with pollutants, and to destroy one another and the Earth, herself, to reach misguided personal goals. We have truly forgotten who we really are, and that the role of a child is to be grateful and to honor the mother.

We need a new model of humanity that realizes the sacred presence in all nature, that awakens to the needed stewardship of our Divine Mother if Earth and her children are to survive. We need a Sacred Ecology that recognizes the interrelationship of Earth’s elements, and that fondly protects and defends Her through honoring acts that support holy life. In our personal and collective lives it is up to us to be of service to the environment, to all of creation.

In numerous houses of worship a call has been sent forth to begin Earth ministries devoted to protection and care of our Earth Mother. Awakened aware-ness shows us that one of the major life responsibilities is toward creation. This call is heard at Common Ground Interfaith Spiritual Center in Tustin, where an Earth ministry, “Sacred Ecology”, recognizes the sacred hand of Spirit at work within creation. We invite concerned individuals to join us as we plan and participate in environmental projects and activities such as riverbed clean-ups, recycling, and other Earth-centered programs.

One of the greatest gifts we have as a species it to preserve our Earth Mother who has given so much. Within Her magnificence we can see the living spirit of God.

I will lift mine eyes up to the hills from whence cometh my help.
— Psalm 121:1-2

Rev. Susan Chamberlain is an interfaith minister at Common Ground Interfaith Spiritual Center in Tustin, where she also has begun “Sacred Ecology”, an Earth Ministry, dedicated to awakening the awareness of God’s presence in all of creation, and is building a cooperation team to work on environmental projects and issues. Those interested in the Earth Ministry email: susanrc@sbcglobal.net