Thursday, April 22, 2010

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"Living Well" in Harmony with the Environment, By Franz Chávez

COCHABAMBA, Bolivia, Apr 20, 2010 (IPS) - The philosophy of "Living Well" enshrined in Bolivia's new constitution is being put forward by the government as the basis for a global movement against consumerism, depredation of natural resources for profit, and current models of development.

Presenting the results of indigenous President Evo Morales' four years in office, Raúl Prada, vice minister for strategic state planning and a former member of the constituent assembly that rewrote the Bolivian constitution, exalted the virtues of the new charter, which arose from a social and political process with extensive grassroots participation.

Prada, a sociologist, proposed expanding the Bolivian government programme because it "protects biodiversity, respects the indigenous right to land and territory, and preserves water resources.

According to its proponents, the indigenous concept of "Living Well" contrasts with "living better" because it means having all basic needs met while existing in harmony with the natural world instead of seeking to amass more and more material goods at the expense of the environment.

"It is a proposal that incorporates the traditional indigenous worldview and combines well with anti-capitalist and environmental movements defending the planet," Prada said Tuesday, the first day of the World People's Conference on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth, which runs through Thursday in Cochabamba, Bolivia.

The Bolivian constitution is the ultimate horizon, and is linked to the aim of "Living Well" and economic models that are alternatives to capitalism, he said.

After taking office in January 2006, the leftwing Morales administration promoted the creation of a new constitution that would reclaim the country's natural resources for Bolivians and strengthen the rights of the country's impoverished indigenous majority, workers and women.

One of its pillars is "Living Well", which reflects the interest of indigenous people in preserving nature.

"Living Well" is a fine-sounding phrase, "but we need to define what it means, and how it works in practice," Trond Norheim, a Norwegian environment expert with the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), who listened attentively to the speeches by Bolivian government officials, told IPS.

"Although many indigenous communities epitomise 'Living Well', there are a range of different lifestyles in society and we need to know what it means for city dwellers. We need to put more flesh on the bones, not just make speeches," he said.

In spite of this caveat, Norheim is observing the Bolivian model with interest, because it gives low-income sectors the opportunity to demand their rights instead of "leaving everything to the government."

Portuguese sociologist Boaventura de Sousa Santos, an active promoter of the World Social Forum, said that in his view the validity of the new Bolivian constitution is based on three elements of democracy: representativeness, participation by all social actors, and the recovery of community values.

"The concept of the plurinational state will be long-lived" and will improve harmonious coexistence between peoples, he said Monday night at a lecture organised by the Centre for Socio-Environmental Knowledge and Care of the La Plata Basin.

The Bolivian government's proposal attracted the attention of delegates from the United Left of the city of Jaén, Spain: Olga Jiménez, Ana Alcántara and journalist Francisco Sánchez, who writes for the party's magazine "Comunes".

Jiménez emphasised the opportunity the conference offers to learn about the kind of "Living Well" the Bolivian government supports, making economic models compatible with indigenous lifestyles, while Alcántara said she had confidence the administration would ensure "great strides forward for the majority, if the opposition allows Evo Morales to govern." Prada described the Bolivian model as a coming together of the indigenous peoples' demand for "decolonisation" and the renationalisation of natural resources, and cited the October 2003 "gas war" - a month of protests against plans to export Bolivia's natural gas that toppled the right-wing government of Gonzalo Sánchez de Lozada (1993-1997 and 2002-2003) - as the moment the two demands came together.

The renationalisation of gas reserves and the convening of the constituent assembly, which recognised the right of indigenous peoples to exercise social control over the extraction of natural resources were highlighted by Carlos Villegas, head of the YPFB state oil and gas company.

He stated that indigenous communities are now being consulted before companies are allowed to exploit fossil fuel resources in their territories, in accordance with international conventions, and that compensation is being paid, in coordination with the government's oversight mechanisms.

Villegas was talking about people living in the oil and gas belt in southeast Bolivia, containing South America's second largest natural gas reserves - after Venezuela's - with an estimated volume of 49 trillion cubic feet, which provides the Bolivian state with its main source of revenue. (END)

Princeton's first Earth Day

From: blogs.princeton.edu

The May 5, 1970, PAW featured an unusual sight on the cover: Nassau Street, closed to traffic “for the first time in memory.” Students and townspeople wandered on the road and rode bicycles April 19, kicking off Princeton’s first Earth Day celebration. Princetonians will be back on the street Saturday, April 24, for Communiversity, Princeton’s annual town-gown festival. Below, PAW’s coverage of the Earth Week events in 1970.

From PAW, May 5, 1970

The University: Earth Day

Earth Day, April 22, was only part of Earth Week at Princeton. On Sunday, April 19, students and townspeople gathered in front of Nassau Hall and spread out for litter clean-up marches in various parts of the campus and community. Two hours later, the debris was dumped near the PJ&B railroad station.

There was also a memorial service for the internal combustion engine, a band concert, and exhibition of 100 wooden panels on which Princeton artists depicted aspects of the environmental crisis. For two hours, Nassau Street was closed to traffic while the crowd sang “This Land is Your Land,” handed out “polluter” awards, watched tricycle races, and looked at displays of “eco-pornography.”

On Earth Day itself, students took off [from] classes and participated in 17 workshops, beginning with a multimedia “Rite of Celebration for the Planet Earth” in the University Chapel. The panels considered such topics as “The Last Frontiers: Wilderness Areas and Resource Conservation,” “Energy Production and Consumption: Effluents from the Affluent,” “Pollution and the War: The Quality of Life,” and “Pesticides, Insecticides, and Herbicides: Better Things for Better Living Through Chemistry!”

The night before, seven speakers, including university trustee Laurance S. Rockefeller ’32, Pan American World Airways president Najeeb Halaby, and Senator Clifford Case (R-NJ) addressed a community meeting on “What Direction for Environmental Policy in the 1970s?” Finally, on Sunday, April 26, the ecologists heard from Ralph Nader, [class of] ’55 in an address in Alexander Hall.

Petitions endorsing a three-point “action program” for the university were circulated throughout the campus by the student “Ecology Action” group. They called for:

1. The establishment of an interdepartmental environmental studies program, in which everything taught would be addressed to some facet of the environmental problem — “analyzing it, finding solutions, and enacting solutions.” The university, says Ecology Action, “can be a model for informed action rather than simply a source of information.”

2. The efforts of an environmental advisory committee, a concept endorsed by the Council of the Princeton University Community, should be directed toward four areas: the functioning of the university itself as it consumes “a vast input” of natural resources; the potential impact, “constructive and/or destructive,” of university-sponsored research; use of corporate votes at stockholders’ meetings “in an informed, responsible way” after investments are analyzed as to their “support or non-support of environmentally destructive practices”; and attention to the impact individuals can have.

3. The setting aside of a “natural area” on campus with assurance that it will remain unpaved and wooded.

Posted by Brett Tomlinson on April 22, 2010 12:22 PM

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

U.S. Soldier Who Felt Bad About Slaughter of Civilians in Iraq: “I was told that I needed to get the sand out of my vagina”

At the time you arrived on the scene, you didn’t know what had happened, is that right?

Ethan McCord: Right. We were engaged in our own conflict roughly about three or four blocks away. We heard the gunships open up. [Then] we were just told … to move to this [other] location. It was pretty much a shock when we got there to see what had happened, the carnage and everything else.

Wired.com: But you had been in combat before. It shouldn’t have surprised you what you saw.

McCord: I have never seen anybody being shot by a 30-millimeter round before. It didn’t seem real, in the sense that it didn’t look like human beings. They were destroyed.

centcom-screenshot
Ethan McCord had just returned from dropping his children at school earlier this month, when he turned on the TV news to see grainy black-and-white video footage of a soldier running from a bombed-out van with a child in his arms. It was a scene that had played repeatedly in his mind the last three years, and he knew exactly who the soldier was.

In July 2007, McCord, a 33-year-old Army specialist, was engaged in a firefight with insurgents in an Iraqi suburb when his platoon, part of Bravo Company, 2-16 Infantry, got orders to investigate a nearby street. When they arrived, they found a scene of fresh carnage – the scattered remains of a group of men, believed to be armed, who had just been gunned down by Apache attack helicopters. They also found 10-year-old Sajad Mutashar and his five-year-old sister Doaha covered in blood in a van. Their 43-year-old father, Saleh, had been driving them to a class when he spotted one of the wounded men moving in the street and drove over to help him, only to become a victim of the Apache guns.

McCord was captured in a video shot from one helicopter as he ran frantically to a military vehicle with Sajad in his arms seeking medical care. That classified video created its own firestorm when the whistleblower site Wikileaks posted it April 5 on a website titled “Collateral Murder” and asserted that the attack was unprovoked. More than a dozen people were killed in three attacks captured in the video, including two Reuters journalists, one carrying a camera that was apparently mistaken for a weapon.

McCord, who served seven years in the military before leaving in the summer of 2009 due to injuries, recently posted an apologetic letter online with fellow soldier Josh Steiber supporting the release of the video and asking the family’s forgiveness. McCord is the father of three children.

Wired’s Kim Zetter reached McCord at his home in Kansas. This is his account of what he saw.

Wired.com:
At the time you arrived on the scene, you didn’t know what had happened, is that right?

Ethan McCord:
Right. We were engaged in our own conflict roughly about three or four blocks away. We heard the gunships open up. [Then] we were just told … to move to this [other] location. It was pretty much a shock when we got there to see what had happened, the carnage and everything else.

Wired.com:
But you had been in combat before. It shouldn’t have surprised you what you saw.

McCord:
I have never seen anybody being shot by a 30-millimeter round before. It didn’t seem real, in the sense that it didn’t look like human beings. They were destroyed.

Wired.com:
Was anyone moving when you got there other than the two children?

McCord:
There were approximately two to three other people who were moving who were still somewhat alive, and the medics were attending to them.

Wired.com:
The first thing you saw was the little girl in the van. She had a stomach wound?

McCord:
She had a stomach wound and she had glass in her eyes and in her hair. She was crying. In fact, that’s one of the reasons I went to the van immediately, because I could hear her crying. It wasn’t like a cry of pain really. It was more of a child who was frightened out of her mind. And the next thing I saw was the boy…. He was kind of sitting on the floorboard of the van, but with his head laying on the bench seat in the front. And then the father, who I’m assuming was the father, in the driver’s seat slumped over on his side. Just from looking into the van, and the amount of blood that was on the boy and the father, I immediately figured they were dead.

So, the first thing I did was grab the girl. I grabbed the medic and we went into the back. There’s houses behind where the van was. We took her in there and we’re checking to see if there were any other wounds. You can hear the medic saying on the video, “There’s nothing I can do here, she needs to be evac’d.” He runs the girl to the Bradley. I went back outside to the van, and that’s when the boy took, like, a labored, breath. That’s when I started screaming, “The boy’s alive! The boy’s alive!” And I picked him up and started running with him over to the Bradley. He opened his eyes when I was carrying him. I just kept telling him, “Don’t die; don’t die.” He looked at me, then his eyes rolled back into this head.

Then I got yelled at by my platoon leader that I needed to stop trying to save these mf’n kids and go pull security…. I was told to go pull security on a rooftop. When we were on that roof, we were still taking fire. There were some people taking pot shots, sniper shots, at us on the rooftop. We were probably there on the roof for another four to five hours.

Wired.com:
How much sniper fire were you getting?

McCord:
It was random sporadic spurts. I did see a guy … moving from a rooftop from one position to another with an AK-47, who was firing at us. He was shot and killed.

After the incident, we went back to the FOB [forward operating base] and that’s when I was in my room. I had blood all down the front of me from the children. I was trying to wash it off in my room. I was pretty distraught over the whole situation with the children. So I went to a sergeant and asked to see [the mental health person], because I was having a hard time dealing with it. I was called a pussy and that I needed to suck it up and a lot of other horrible things. I was also told that there would be repercussions if I was to go to mental health.

Wired.com:
What did you understand that to mean?

McCord:
I would be smoked. Smoked is basically like you’re doing pushups a lot, you’re doing sit-ups … crunches and flutter kicks. They’re smoking you, they’re making you tired. I was told that I needed to get the sand out of my vagina…. So I just sucked it up and tried to move on with everything.

I’ve lived with seeing the children that way since the incident happened. I’ve had nightmares. I was diagnosed with chronic, severe PTSD. [But] I was actually starting to get kind of better. … I wasn’t thinking about it as much. [Then I] took my children to school one day and I came home and sat down on the couch and turned on the TV with my coffee, and on the news I’m running across the screen with a child. The flood of emotions came back. I know the scene by heart; it’s burned into my head. I know the van, I know the faces of everybody that was there that day.

Wired.com:
Did you try to get information about the two children after the shooting?

McCord:
My platoon sergeant knew that I was having a hard time with it and that same night … he came into the room and he told me, hey, just so you know, both of the children survived, so you can suck it up now. I didn’t know if he was telling me that just to get me to shut up and to do my job or if he really found something out. I always questioned it in the back of my mind.

I did see a video on YouTube after the Wikileaks [video] came out, of the children being interviewed. … When I saw their faces, I was relieved, but I was just heartbroken. I have a huge place in my heart for children, having some of my own. Knowing that I was part of the system that took their father away from them and made them lose their house … it’s heartbreaking. And that in turn is what helped me and Josh write the letter, hoping that it would find its way to them to let them know that we’re sorry. We’re sorry for the system that we were involved in that took their father’s life and injured them. If there’s anything I can to do help, I would be more than happy to.

Wired.com:
Wikileaks presented the incident as though there was no engagement from insurgents. But you guys did have a firefight a couple of blocks away. Was it reasonable for the Apache soldiers to think that maybe the people they attacked were part of that insurgent firefight?

McCord:
I doubt that they were a part of that firefight. However, when I did come up on the scene, there was an RPG as well as AK-47s there…. You just don’t walk around with an RPG in Iraq, especially three blocks away from a firefight…. Personally, I believe the first attack on the group standing by the wall was appropriate, was warranted by the rules of engagement. They did have weapons there. However, I don’t feel that the attack on the [rescue] van was necessary.

Now, as far as rules of engagement, [Iraqis] are not supposed to pick up the wounded. But they could have been easily deterred from doing what they were doing by just firing simply a few warning shots in the direction…. Instead, the Apaches decided to completely obliterate everybody in the van. That’s the hard part to swallow.

And where the soldier said [in the video], “Well, you shouldn’t take your kids to battle.” Well in all actuality, we brought the battle to your kids. There’s no front lines here. This is urban combat and we’re taking the war to children and women and innocents.

There were plenty of times in the past where other insurgents would come by and pick up the bodies, and then we’d have no evidence or anything to what happened, so in looking at it from the Apache’s point of view, they were thinking that [someone was] picking up the weapons and bodies; when, in hindsight, clearly they were picking up the wounded man. But you’re not supposed to do that in Iraq.

Wired.com:
Civilians are supposed to know that they’re not supposed to pick up a wounded person crawling in the road?

McCord:
Yeah. This is the problem that we’re speaking out on as far as the rules of engagement. How is this guy supposed to [decide] should I stop and pick them up, or is the military going to shoot me? If you or I saw someone wounded on the ground what is your first inkling? I’m going to help that person.

Wired.com:
There was another attack depicted in the video that has received little attention, involving a Hellfire and a building that was fired on.

McCord:
I wasn’t around that building when it happened. I was up on a rooftop at that time. However, I do know some soldiers went in to clear that building afterwards and there were some people with weapons in there, but there was also a family of four that was killed.

I think that a Hellfire missile is a little much to put into a building…. They’re trained as soldiers to go into a building and clear a building. I do know that there was a teenage girl [in there], just because I saw the pictures when I was there, that one of the soldiers took.

Wired.com:
Have you heard from any other soldiers since the video came out?

McCord:
I’ve spoken with one of the medics who was there. He’s no longer in the Army. When this video first came out, there was a lot of outrage by the soldiers, just because it depicted us as being callous, cruel, heartless people, and we’re not that way. The majority of us aren’t. And so he was pretty upset about the whole thing…. He kept saying, we were there, we know the truth, they’re saying there was no weapons, there was.

I’ve spoken with other soldiers who were there. Some of them [say] I don’t care what anybody says … they’re not there. … There’s also some soldiers who joke about it [as a] coping mechanism. They’re like, oh yeah, we’re the “collateral murder” company. I don’t think that [the] big picture is whether or not [the Iraqis who were killed] had weapons. I think that the bigger picture is what are we doing there? We’ve been there for so long now and it seems like nothing is being accomplished whatsoever, except for we’re making more people hate us.

Wired.com:
Do you support Wikileaks in releasing this video?

McCord:
When it was first released I don’t think it was done in the best manner that it could have been. They were stating that these people had no weapons whatsoever, that they were just carrying cameras. In the video, you can clearly see that they did have weapons … to the trained eye. You can make out in the video [someone] carrying an AK-47, swinging it down by his legs….

And as far as the way that the soldiers are speaking in the video, which is pretty callous and joking about what’s happened … that’s a coping mechanism. I’m guilty of it, too, myself. You joke about the situations and what’s happened to push away your true feelings of the matter.

There’s no easy way to kill somebody. You don’t just take somebody’s life and then go on about your business for the rest of the day. That stays with you. And cracking jokes is a way of pushing that stuff down.

That’s why so many soldiers come back home and they’re no longer in the situations where they have other things to think about or other people to joke about what happened … and they explode.

I don’t say that Wikileaks did a bad thing, because they didn’t…. I think it is good that they’re putting this stuff out there. I don’t think that people really want to see this, though, because this is war…. It’s very disturbing.

Image: U.S. Central Command

Greece Welcomes Its New IMF Overlords With Day Of Rioting And National Strikes

What do you do when you are the prime minister of a bankrupt country and your only recourse is to get the Washington D.C.-based IMF to come in and tell you you have to cut wages by about 120% and fire 75% of the country (especially after the same Germans you recently demanded WWII reparations from, mysteriously have decided in the eleventh hour to have their last laugh at your expense). Why, you send in the national guard, armed with fake six-pack ridged bulletproof vests and gas masks, to repeat the miracle of Thermopylae against the marauding population which has suddenly realized that the past 10 years of chimeric happiness were a one-time miracle thanks to Mr Goldman and fat, and somewhat stupid, uncle Almunia. The next thing you do, once you realize you are about to have a [revolution|uprising|civil war] is to declare a moratorium on your €300 billion of debt, make your people happy and stick it precisely to the same bankers that you complain about every single day for "speculating" against you. Tomorrow Greece will face the trifecta of a much delayed hangover as 1) its bonds hit 9% as the hedge funds who have been buying up in expectations of a snapback capitulate, 2) EuroStat declares its deficit was officially 14%, and 3) a Greek civil servant strike in their fourth national walkout this year. 
Bloomberg reports.
The strike will shutter hospital and schools and also affect ministries and government offices, according to an e- mailed statement from Athens-based ADEDY, the umbrella group for more than 500,000 state workers. It will hold a rally in central Athens at 11 a.m. local time.

Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou is under fire from voters who say his austerity measures have gone too far and from investors who argue that further action is needed to cut the EU’s largest budget deficit. As Greece meets EU and International Monetary Fund officials to agree on the conditions tied to any loan, the extra yield investors demand to hold Greek debt over German bonds has surged to a record 522 basis points.

“Papandreou is caught between a rock and a hard place,” said Jacques Cailloux, chief European Economist at Royal Bank of Scotland Group Plc. “The market has zero confidence in what the Greeks are saying, and any further austerity measures pushed for by the IMF could be the ones that break the camel’s back if they are deemed unfair by the population. He doesn’t have any option though.

Today’s strike isn’t expected to affect public transport or air traffic, after air-traffic controllers postponed a planned walkout to clear a backlog of flights caused by the spread of volcanic ash from Iceland across Europe.

PAME Hellas, a union affiliated with the Greek Communist Party, called its own labor action. Members of the group blockaded entry to the port of Piraeus yesterday, preventing ferries from sailing. Others picketed luxury hotels in the city center, including at least one where IMF negotiators are staying.

We must dare, otherwise we will be led like lambs to the slaughter,” said Aleka Papariga, head of the Communist Party of Greece, the third-largest parliamentary party. “The working people aren’t about to be used to allow passage of policies that will bring the worst barbarity we’ve seen in the past 35 years.”
That's funny, cause America recently allowed passage of policies that would make Greek debt-to-GDP ratios seems like a midget in Liliput compared to the monster our own Treasury is about to spawn. Yet, as always, it isn't until it is far too late to fix something proactively that the people of any country, be it Greece or the US, wake up from their deep slumber. Greece has now officially woken up (we will show you footage of tomorrow's hopefully non-violent riots to confirm). We wonder how long before America does the same.

h/t Rodrigo


Nader Asks D.C. Court Not to Permit 2004 Pennsylvania Challenger to Take Money out of his Bank Account

Ballot Access News reports

On April 21, Ralph Nader’s attorney Oliver Hall argued in the D.C. Court of Appeals that the Pennsylvania court order, awarding $81,000 to the people who challenged Nader’s ballot access petition in 2004, was fundamentally unjust. See this story from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:

http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/10111/1052186-100.stm

The people who challenged Nader’s petition in 2004 used state government employees, on government time, as well as state government databanks and computers. Today is the first time that any court has been willing to hold oral arguments on Nader’s claim that the Pennsylvania challenge system, as it worked in 2004, is illegitimate.

The case is in court in Washington, D.C., because that is where Nader’s bank account is. Generally it is very tough for any attorney to persuade state courts in one state not to honor a court order from another state. Of course D.C. is not a state, but it has courts that are the functional equivalent of state courts. The D.C. Appeals Court is not the same as the U.S. Court of Appeals for D.C. Thanks to Ed Bortz for the link.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Photographers Prepare for a Moment in May


Journalists are often at their worst when trying to predict the future. But it seems safe to say that many hundreds — if not thousands — of shutters will be released simultaneously on Sunday, May 2, as photographers around the world help Lens create “A Moment in Time”; one single moment in the life of the planet.
That moment will be 15:00 hours in Coordinated Universal Time or U.T.C., the contemporary equivalent of Greenwich Mean Time. In the United States, under daylight time, this would be 11 a.m. on the East Coast, 10 a.m. in the Midwest, 9 a.m. in the West and 8 a.m. on the West Coast. For local times around the world, you can consult this converter from timeanddate.com.

Lisa Gottlieb Berkowitz said she may be in labor at that moment and promised that she’d “be very careful” about any picture she takes. Brenda Sinclair Dutton expects to be flying to Indianapolis and plans to take a photo in the plane. In Alaska, Sarah Kennedy noted, it will be 7 o’clock. “I’ll sure to try to take a photo of the pretty sunrise,” she said. “If I’m awake.”

Rob Kunkle was less optimistic about the scene in San Francisco. “Sunday at 8 a.m.?” he asked. “I don’t think anyone is awake then in S.F.” But Dick Halstead, of Palymyra, N.Y., is confident that his day will be well under way. “I hope to include the United Church Choir,” he said. “We will just be concluding our Sunday Service.”

These were among the responses to our initial invitation, “A Timely Global Mosaic, Created by All of Us,” in which we asked everyone, everywhere, to join in making this worldwide photographic mosaic, with each photographer submitting their one best picture. As guidance, we suggested a few broad topics like arts and entertainment, community, family, money and the economy, nature and the environment, play, religion, social issues and work. And we also suggested that you might find the experience even more rewarding if you do some planning in advance, taking into account how best to represent yourself, and your community, with a single image.

You asked how long you’d have to submit your picture. |
The answer: up to five days from the time you took it. The submission form will be live and usable from 15:00 (U.T.C.) on Sunday, May 2, until 15:00 (U.T.C.) on Friday, May 7.

You asked how large your file ought to be. |
Because the pictures will be published up to 1000 pixels wide on the Web (that’s big), the larger your file, the better — up to a point. But please don’t send anything larger than 5 MB. If you’re using an adjustable camera phone, be sure to set it for the largest file size possible.

You asked whether we were aware that “A Moment in Time” was scarcely an original concept. |
Yes, we certainly knew we weren’t the first. We’d love to be able to say we remembered that May 2 was also the date chosen in 1986 by David Elliot Cohen and Rick Smolan for “A Day in the Life of America.” But our memories aren’t that good. It’s merely a happy coincidence.

You asked how it could possibly be midnight in Beijing when it’s 15:00 (U.T.C.). |
It can’t. Our calculations were off. It will be 11 p.m.

As the moment nears, you can follow the project on Facebook and on Twitter.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Noam Chomsky Has ‘Never Seen Anything Like This’


By Chris Hedges

Noam Chomsky is America’s greatest intellectual. His massive body of work, which includes nearly 100 books, has for decades deflated and exposed the lies of the power elite and the myths they perpetrate. Chomsky has done this despite being blacklisted by the commercial media, turned into a pariah by the academy and, by his own admission, being a pedantic and at times slightly boring speaker. He combines moral autonomy with rigorous scholarship, a remarkable grasp of detail and a searing intellect. He curtly dismisses our two-party system as a mirage orchestrated by the corporate state, excoriates the liberal intelligentsia for being fops and courtiers and describes the drivel of the commercial media as a form of “brainwashing.” And as our nation’s most prescient critic of unregulated capitalism, globalization and the poison of empire, he enters his 81st year warning us that we have little time left to save our anemic democracy.

“It is very similar to late Weimar Germany,” Chomsky told me when I called him at his office in Cambridge, Mass. “The parallels are striking. There was also tremendous disillusionment with the parliamentary system. The most striking fact about Weimar was not that the Nazis managed to destroy the Social Democrats and the Communists but that the traditional parties, the Conservative and Liberal parties, were hated and disappeared. It left a vacuum which the Nazis very cleverly and intelligently managed to take over.”

“The United States is extremely lucky that no honest, charismatic figure has arisen,” Chomsky went on. “Every charismatic figure is such an obvious crook that he destroys himself, like McCarthy or Nixon or the evangelist preachers. If somebody comes along who is charismatic and honest this country is in real trouble because of the frustration, disillusionment, the justified anger and the absence of any coherent response. What are people supposed to think if someone says ‘I have got an answer, we have an enemy’? There it was the Jews. Here it will be the illegal immigrants and the blacks. We will be told that white males are a persecuted minority. We will be told we have to defend ourselves and the honor of the nation. Military force will be exalted. People will be beaten up. This could become an overwhelming force. And if it happens it will be more dangerous than Germany. The United States is the world power. Germany was powerful but had more powerful antagonists. I don’t think all this is very far away. If the polls are accurate it is not the Republicans but the right-wing Republicans, the crazed Republicans, who will sweep the next election.”

“I have never seen anything like this in my lifetime,” Chomsky added. “I am old enough to remember the 1930s. My whole family was unemployed. There were far more desperate conditions than today. But it was hopeful. People had hope. The CIO was organizing. No one wants to say it anymore but the Communist Party was the spearhead for labor and civil rights organizing. Even things like giving my unemployed seamstress aunt a week in the country. It was a life. There is nothing like that now. The mood of the country is frightening. The level of anger, frustration and hatred of institutions is not organized in a constructive way. It is going off into self-destructive fantasies.”

“I listen to talk radio,” Chomsky said. “I don’t want to hear Rush Limbaugh. I want to hear the people calling in. They are like [suicide pilot] Joe Stack. What is happening to me? I have done all the right things. I am a God-fearing Christian. I work hard for my family. I have a gun. I believe in the values of the country and my life is collapsing.”

Chomsky has, more than any other American intellectual, charted the downward spiral of the American political and economic system, in works such as “On Power and Ideology: The Managua Lectures,” “Rethinking Camelot: JFK, the Vietnam War, and US Political Culture,” “A New Generation Draws the Line: Kosovo, East Timor and the Standards of the West,” “Understanding Power: The Indispensable Chomsky,” “Manufacturing Consent” and “Letters From Lexington: Reflections on Propaganda.” He reminds us that genuine intellectual inquiry is always subversive. It challenges cultural and political assumptions. It critiques structures. It is relentlessly self-critical. It implodes the self-indulgent myths and stereotypes we use to elevate ourselves and ignore our complicity in acts of violence and oppression. And it makes the powerful, as well as their liberal apologists, deeply uncomfortable.

Chomsky reserves his fiercest venom for the liberal elite in the press, the universities and the political system who serve as a smoke screen for the cruelty of unchecked capitalism and imperial war. He exposes their moral and intellectual posturing as a fraud. And this is why Chomsky is hated, and perhaps feared, more among liberal elites than among the right wing he also excoriates. When Christopher Hitchens decided to become a windup doll for the Bush administration after the attacks of 9/11, one of the first things he did was write a vicious article attacking Chomsky. Hitchens, unlike most of those he served, knew which intellectual in America mattered. [Editor’s note: To see some of the articles in the 2001 exchanges between Hitchens and Chomsky, click here, here, here and here.]

“I don’t bother writing about Fox News,” Chomsky said. “It is too easy. What I talk about are the liberal intellectuals, the ones who portray themselves and perceive themselves as challenging power, as courageous, as standing up for truth and justice. They are basically the guardians of the faith. They set the limits. They tell us how far we can go. They say, ‘Look how courageous I am.’ But do not go one millimeter beyond that. At least for the educated sectors, they are the most dangerous in supporting power.”

Chomsky, because he steps outside of every group and eschews all ideologies, has been crucial to American discourse for decades, from his work on the Vietnam War to his criticisms of the Obama administration. He stubbornly maintains his position as an iconoclast, one who distrusts power in any form.

“Most intellectuals have a self-understanding of themselves as the conscience of humanity,” said the Middle East scholar Norman Finkelstein. “They revel in and admire someone like Vaclav Havel. Chomsky is contemptuous of Havel. Chomsky embraces the Julien Benda view of the world. There are two sets of principles. They are the principles of power and privilege and the principles of truth and justice. If you pursue truth and justice it will always mean a diminution of power and privilege. If you pursue power and privilege it will always be at the expense of truth and justice. Benda says that the credo of any true intellectual has to be, as Christ said, ‘my kingdom is not of this world.’ Chomsky exposes the pretenses of those who claim to be the bearers of truth and justice. He shows that in fact these intellectuals are the bearers of power and privilege and all the evil that attends it.”

“Some of Chomsky’s books will consist of things like analyzing the misrepresentations of the Arias plan in Central America, and he will devote 200 pages to it,” Finkelstein said. “And two years later, who will have heard of Oscar Arias? It causes you to wonder would Chomsky have been wiser to write things on a grander scale, things with a more enduring quality so that you read them forty or sixty years later. This is what Russell did in books like ‘Marriage and Morals.’ Can you even read any longer what Chomsky wrote on Vietnam and Central America? The answer has to often be no. This tells you something about him. He is not writing for ego. If he were writing for ego he would have written in a grand style that would have buttressed his legacy. He is writing because he wants to effect political change. He cares about the lives of people and there the details count. He is trying to refute the daily lies spewed out by the establishment media. He could have devoted his time to writing philosophical treatises that would have endured like Kant or Russell. But he invested in the tiny details which make a difference to win a political battle.”

“I try to encourage people to think for themselves, to question standard assumptions,” Chomsky said when asked about his goals. “Don’t take assumptions for granted. Begin by taking a skeptical attitude toward anything that is conventional wisdom. Make it justify itself. It usually can’t. Be willing to ask questions about what is taken for granted. Try to think things through for yourself. There is plenty of information. You have got to learn how to judge, evaluate and compare it with other things. You have to take some things on trust or you can’t survive. But if there is something significant and important don’t take it on trust. As soon as you read anything that is anonymous you should immediately distrust it. If you read in the newspapers that Iran is defying the international community, ask who is the international community? India is opposed to sanctions. China is opposed to sanctions. Brazil is opposed to sanctions. The Non-Aligned Movement is vigorously opposed to sanctions and has been for years. Who is the international community? It is Washington and anyone who happens to agree with it. You can figure that out, but you have to do work. It is the same on issue after issue.”

Chomsky’s courage to speak on behalf of those, such as the Palestinians, whose suffering is often minimized or ignored in mass culture, holds up the possibility of the moral life. And, perhaps even more than his scholarship, his example of intellectual and moral independence sustains all who defy the cant of the crowd to speak the truth.

“I cannot tell you how many people, myself included, and this is not hyperbole, whose lives were changed by him,” said Finkelstein, who has been driven out of several university posts for his intellectual courage and independence. “Were it not for Chomsky I would have long ago succumbed. I was beaten and battered in my professional life. It was only the knowledge that one of the greatest minds in human history has faith in me that compensates for this constant, relentless and vicious battering. There are many people who are considered nonentities, the so-called little people of this world, who suddenly get an e-mail from Noam Chomsky. It breathes new life into you. Chomsky has stirred many, many people to realize a level of their potential that would forever been lost.”

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Nader, Superman, Kryptonite , the 80's


Saturday, April 17, 2010

Nader criticizes state of American democracy By Susan Kim

The theory of democracy is hopelessly out of line with the way the United States practices democracy, said Laura Nader, a professor of anthropology at the University of California, Berkeley, on Friday during her address in Maxwell Auditorium.
“The democratic vision that we gave to the world is believed in different parts of the world,” she said. “We have given the world a vision they are excited about.”
During the lecture, titled “If You Want to Spread Democracy You Have to be One,” Nader, the sister of four time presidential candidate Ralph Nader, spoke about how corporate America destroyed democracy, the one thing for which it is admired by the rest of the world. Nader called for an anthropological study of the United States to discover what went wrong in American democracy.
People in the United States are taught the ideology of democracy, Nader said. But the practice of democracy has been lost as corporations are slowly starting to control everything; and Americans need to start reacting to get the practice of democracy back on track, she said.
“If you don’t, then you’ll lose more and lose more, and you’ll lose it incrementally,” she said.
She also said there has been a 100-year transition from regional capitalism to corporate capitalism. Communities that have built enterprises with their own hands and their own prosperity have lost hope because corporations are “claiming the fruit of all their labor, their own and their children’s prosperity,” she said.
“A cultural revolution of the gospel of wealth is replacing the gospel of work, which means a superiority of capital over labor,” Nader said.
To fix the shift away from democracy, in which hard work is valued over wealth, the United States needs people from other parts of the world to come and study the nation to get a diagnosis of what is wrong, Nader said. Outsiders can help us recognize problems, which Americans are reluctant to admit to and fix, she said.
Not only are Americans reluctant to fix their problems, they are lying to themselves and believe they have no problems to fix, she said.
“Lying is more than deception,” Nader said. “The liar wants what is unreal to be accepted by actuality. Untruth becomes reality.”
Megan Lucas, a freshman international relations major, said the lecture was interesting because Nader defined what made a democracy effective and ineffective from a new perspective.
“I really liked the fact that she was looking at this from an anthropological perspective,” she said, “rather than a political science perspective.” 

The Democrats’ Mea Culpas, by John Murphy

From: dissidentvoice.org

April 15th, 2010
They tell us, sir, that we are weak; unable to cope with so formidable an adversary. But when shall we be stronger? Will it be the next week, or the next year? Shall we gather strength by irresolution and inaction? Shall we acquire the means of effectual resistance by lying supinely on our backs and hugging the delusive phantom of hope, until our enemies shall have bound us hand and foot? Sir, we are not weak if we make a proper use of those means which the God of nature hath placed in our power.

– Patrick Henry: delivered to the Virginia Convention in 1775
The number of articles written by contrite Obama supporters that have appeared over the last year is almost uncountable. Forgiveness, however, requires not only that penitents renounce their sins but that they make a sincere resolve not to sin in the same way again. Democrats will never make such a resolve. Regardless of the number of whining articles by “progressive” Democrats, Rahm Emanuel — Obama’s political twin – who called liberal activists “retarded,” knows very well that Democrats, especially the self-styled “progressives” will never vote for anyone other than a Democrat. Regardless of Obama’s atrocities, the Democrats will line up behind him in 2012.

There can be no absolution for the Obaminable Democrats; they can be no more forgiven for supporting Obama than they can be forgiven for supporting John Kerry or William Clinton. Clinton, you will recall, was the president who killed a million innocent Iraqi men, women and children with bombs and sanctions while domestically destroying the women’s movement with “welfare reform” and American jobs with “free trade agreements.

These are the people who followed the inane philosophy of ABB (“Anyone is Better than Bush”)!  Imagine believing that Kerry would be better than Bush even though he promised that he would out-Bush Bush by sending 40,000 more troops to Iraq and declaring that, if he had been in charge, he would have burned Falluja to the ground. A few days later Bush granted his wish killing mostly women and children! Even the ever hawkish William Safire (d. 2009), columnist for the New York Times, was positively gloating after the September, 2004 Kerry-Bush presidential debate: “As the Democratic Whoopee Brigade hailed Senator John Kerry’s edge in debating technique, nobody noticed his foreign policy sea change. On both military tactics and grand strategy, the newest neoconservative announced doctrines more hawkish than President George W. Bush.”

Meantime, during this ABB farce, Michael Moore and Bill Maher assumed the typical Democrat position: kneeling and begging.  No, they were not begging for the scraps from the corporate table, the traditional Democrat plea.  This time they even more grievously disgraced themselves by begging the antiwar candidate, Ralph Nader, not to interfere with John Kerry’s plans to slaughter, more efficiently and effectively, the people in Iraq while continuing to outsource American jobs with so-called “free trade” agreements. These are the very same kind of bottom feeder who would have begged the Liberty Party to stop its opposition to slavery and let the lesser of two pro-slavery parties make things a little better for the slaves. These latter-day court jesters demonstrated that they lack even the dim flicker of sentience needed to qualify them as imbeciles. The Democrats are beyond redemption; they are to be condemned not forgiven. Their priority was to elect Kerry, not oppose the war.

The Democrats did not get a chance to whine about a Kerry presidency as they do about the Obama presidency. They did not even get a chance to continue maligning Ralph Nader for Kerry’s defeat. Now, since Barack Obama, the mocha messiah of the Democrats, has assumed the imperial mantle of George Bush, that dreadful sound can be heard once again rising up from the Democrats. Oh, the mind numbing din of whining Democrats!

Whether they thought Obama would end the wars instead of escalating them or stop the torture instead of outsourcing it to Jordan and Saudi Arabia or prosecute the torturers instead of giving them a pass or encourage the Congress to pass single-payer healthcare instead of cutting backroom deals with big Pharma and providing corporate welfare for the insurance companies or bail out homeowners instead of bankers, Democrats from Dave Lindorff to David Swanson can be heard wailing about the betrayal of Barack Obama who now gives every indication that he is more monstrous than George Bush.

To be sure, Bush was a war criminal who invaded Iraq to fulfill the mission of the Project for New American Century (PNAC) which was to secure a US-Israeli hegemony in the Middle East. That strategy was identical to the Democratic Party’s think tank the Progressive Policy Institute (PPI). Bush also invaded Afghanistan to secure a land area for a liquid natural gas pipeline. Obama plans to continue the occupation of Iraq, has escalated the war on Afghanistan (reinforcing the lies of the Bush administration) and rained down three times as many unmanned drones on Pakistan in one year than Bush did in his last three. Obama has also opened military hostilities against Yemen, Somalia and the Philippines. Obama recently proclaimed that he has the right to murder American citizens on the mere suspicion that they might be terrorists. This leaves us all vulnerable to murder at Obama’s whim. Those of us on the “watch list” must now say an extra prayer each night that our spouses and children are not slaughtered when Obama’s drone hits home. No wonder the Teabaggers are afraid of government and Obama in particular!

It must not be overlooked that Obama also plans to use Colombian insurgents to commit “false positive” border incidents blaming Venezuela as a pretext for a retaliatory attack, supported, of course, by Washington as a way to target and perhaps remove Hugo Chavez.

He continues destabilization tactics for regime change in Iran and may, preemptively without cause, attack that nation’s nuclear facilities. He supports the worst of Israeli war crimes and oppression against Palestinians and keeps alive the long dead “terrorist organization” called Al Qaeda in order to suppress civil liberties at home, maintain the pretense of a flourishing economy through defense spending and ultimately secure corporate money for his re-election.

Democrat Talking Heads
To be fair, not all the Democrats are whining. Listening to “liberal” talk radio the Democratic Party talking heads can be heard spinning every one of Obama’s atrocities into an inspired strategy of golden fabric. According to the Democratic Party’s counterparts of Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck and Sean Hannity, Obama is a “master chess player” and all of his monstrous brutalities merely appear to be brutal.  When the mist clears however, according to “big Ed” Schultz, Thom Hartmann, Bill Press and the other skull splitting defenders of Barack Obama AKA “Barry the Bomber”, we will see that a brighter day has dawned; that the atrocities committed against all the nations Obama is devastating and the American working people he is crushing are simply pawn sacrifices made by the master gamesman and in the end we will all be thankful to “Barry the Beneficent”.

In case anyone is wondering about the “change” promised by Obama, fear not. Democrat talking head Rachel Maddow explained to us earlier this week that Obama’s nuclear summit was the promised change! As it turned out, “change did not mean that everybody suddenly had a job or that the banking crisis was suddenly fixed or that our wars magically ended.  But change, in part, has meant a return to diplomacy”. Of course, Israel, the greatest threat to world peace next to the United States, refused to participate and Iran was not even invited. Like all of the Democratic Party talking heads Maddow fails to mention the ever present threat from the Obama administration’s “diplomacy” when dealing with other nations: “all options remain on the table”. This is not a very diplomatic way to tell the world “you will do it our way or you will face the possibility of a US invasion or at the very least a carpeting of cluster bombs, white phosphorus and unmanned drone missiles”. This bogus nuclear summit is simply more advertising hype and does not represent any significant change from the second Bush administration.

The Incompetent Machiavellian 
Machiavelli refused to be deflected by utopian dreams or romantic hopes and by questions of right and wrong or good and bad. He rejected the entire concept of moral philosophy. He is often considered to be the father of modern political realism, or what has been called “realpolitik”. It is one of the most seductive ideas of our time. The constant cry of the Democratic Party is: “be realistic… you’re living in the real world…. it’s good to have idealistic visions of a better world, but you’re living in the real world, so be practical.”

Every time Ralph Nader tried to get Democrats to stand on their hind legs, party leaders quickly reminded them that they must be “practical” that they must be “realistic”. Like Machiavelli, the Democratic Party is not concerned with right and wrong or good and evil. It has rejected all moral philosophy by accepting the Machiavellian concept that “the ends justify the means”.

How many times have the ideas and positions of Ralph Nader been demeaned as foolish idealism impractical in a world where one must “win elections”?

Realism is seductive because once it has been accepted as a reasonable notion that actions should be based on “practical” reality people are too often led to accept, without questioning, someone else’s vision of what reality is. It is a crucial fact of independent thinking, typical of Ralph Nader, to be skeptical of someone else’s description of reality. Democrats never question the “reality” presented to them by the Democratic Party. For this reason the Democrats present an even more dangerous and violent threat than the tea party movement which it has engendered and which it continues to empower by its own lack of moral clarity.

The Democratic Party’s talking heads from the most articulate and erudite to the more brutish philistine serve the same purpose as the Republican Party talking heads. Their job is to secure the election of Democrats not to present an objective evaluation of their performance and recommend the appropriate action. Far from playing the role of chess master, Obama is an incompetent Machiavellian. Virtually nothing Obama and his representatives in the liberal media (the talk show hosts previously mentioned) have told us about this health care reform bill is true. The entire thrust of the legislation was to prevent campaign contributions from big Pharma and healthcare insurance companies from flowing into Republican coffers. By euphemistically calling this piece of corporate welfare “health care reform” Obama has sacrificed the needs of the American public in order to achieve his re-election and that of the Democratic Congress. For Obama, the ends justified the means. No moral philosopher in Eastern or Western civilization condones such a philosophy. Only Niccolo Machiavelli advanced such a thesis.

Usually, those who try to get away with “the ends justifying the means” at least have some noble end in mind. The re-election of the Democrats is anything but noble and the means was a purely cynical act on the part of the Democratic Party. Even a Machiavellian, however, would be embarrassed at the incompetent execution of Obama’s loutish strategy.

A good Machiavellian would certainly have planned for the possible unintended consequences of such a strategy and hence have prevented their occurrence. A competent Machiavellian would have started his administration by ensuring that the Senate changed the filibuster rule from 41 to 49 votes. This rule only requires a simple majority vote in order to be changed. It is a Senate rule, not a law. Moreover, the incompetent Obama administration, while achieving its ends created such blowback from the ridiculous right that the United States is now as close to collapsing into a fascist regime as it has ever been in its history.

The attitudes of the people in the tea party movement are completely justified. Not only has there not been any increase in the standard of living over the last 30 years while productivity has increased by over 78%, real incomes of working Americans have actually declined. While Reagan, the Bushes and Clinton are to blame for the adoption of “neoliberal economics” the Obama administration with its continuing support of the banking industry was the straw that broke the political camel’s back.

Obama, more than any Republican, is linked to the bankers. They supported him over McCain. When Obama started to criticize the bankers, in true Machiavellian fashion, he did an about-face proclaiming: “I, like most of the American people, don’t begrudge people success or wealth. That is part of the free market system.” Of course, Obama is completely in error. Americans actually do begrudge the $17 million bonus awarded to Jamie Dimon, CEO of JPMorgan Chase and the $9 million issued to Lloyd Blankfein, CEO of Goldman Sachs. No one should be surprised that Goldman Sachs contributed $1 million to Obama’s presidential campaign.

Neither the Democrats nor the Republicans like to talk about class warfare but that is precisely what the incompetent, Machiavellian, cynical Obama administration has engendered. Unemployment is reaching near depression levels while Obama’s banking buddies bathe in bonuses beyond imagination and people are not happy about it. The job growth statistics quoted by the Democrat talking heads are mostly in non-tradable services area such as janitors, retail sales persons, waiters and waitresses, orderlies and attendants.

These minimum wage paying jobs were created by corporations which have outsourced good paying American jobs in engineering, manufacturing and information technology.1 Such outsourcing continues under the “free trade” supporting Obama administration. Ironically, the highly trained workers in those well compensated fields are now used to account for the “new jobs” being created by the Obama administration. Such a clever way has the Obama administration devised for job creation; turning well paid information technology specialists into low paid retail clerks!

The working class has been marginalized as the costs of our economic collapse are socialized and profits are privatized. Frustration and outright rage is the natural and expected response to the callous Obama administration. Instead of getting answers from the left, however, they receive political placebos along with the puerile pabulum fed to them by Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck and Sarah Palin.

Chris Hedges warns us of “the Weimarization of the American working class”.2 Just as demagogues in post-World War I Germany were able to play upon the despair of the working class, the same type of forces are now in place in the United States. He suggests that even though the tea party movement, itself, may be tiny, it is a well-funded and well-organized group. Properly managed, Hedges suggests “this tiny group can count on the sympathy and support of perhaps as many as 100 million evangelicals”. It would only take a crisis to catapult the leaders of this movement into power.

Naomi Klein in her work The Shock Doctrine3 spells out precisely how such a crisis could produce a disastrous political, social and economic revolution. Another terrorist attack would be all that is necessary. Such an attack is not just probable but inevitable. The resulting fascist order would face no resistance. At a time when violent resistance from the left might be required, the left has been disorganized and distracted by the Democratic Party.  As the left smokes Obama’s wacky tobacci and sings “Kum By Ya”, the forces which would destroy civil society as we know it are singing “Praise the Lord and Pass the Ammunition”.

There is good reason to be afraid. We must not, however, confuse fear with cowardice. In the final analysis we either stand up for our convictions or we stand for nothing. The continued voting for the lesser evil has not, nor cannot, save this country; it can only hasten a total collapse. Those who are too afraid to voice their conscience and make it felt politically, by any means, are already slaves; they simply have not yet heard the rattling of their chains.
  1. Paul Craig Roberts, How the Economy Was Lost; (California: AK Press, 2010), 20-21. []
  2. Chris Hedges, American Fascists (The Christian Right and the War on America) (New York: Free Press, 2006): 266. []
  3. Naomi Klein, The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism; (New York: Metropolitan Books; Henry Holt & Co. 2007): 309. []
John Murphy was the independent candidate for House of Representatives in Pennsylvania's 16th district in 2006 and 2008 . He is a founding member of the Pennsylvania Ballot Access Coalition where he represents the independent candidacy of Ralph Nader. He can be reached at: johnamurphy@comcast.net.

Edupunks

DIYURevised.jpg
This article is excerpted from DIY U: Edupunks, Edupreneurs and the Coming Transformation of Higher Education. This excerpt is about the "edupunks," the radicals who want to liberate scholarship and learning from the constraints of institutions altogether. I also call them the monks. The book was just published by Chelsea Green.

The monks' world starts with a toaster.

Well, not quite a toaster. What Thomas Thwaites exhibited at London's Royal College of Art in the summer of 2009 was a couple of leafblowers, a suitcase full of chunks of iron ore, and a microwave, with which he had managed to smelt a piece of pure iron "about the size of a ten-pence coin." The Toaster Project was a solo attempt to fabricate, from raw natural materials, the same Chinese-made appliance that sells in British stores for £3.99 ($6.60). Thwaites took his cue from sci-fi humorist Douglas Adams, who in his novel Mostly Harmless wrote of the average modern human, "Left to his own devices, he couldn't make a toaster."

In his artist's statement, Thwaites wrote, "It's about scale, the total inter-reliance of people and societies, the triviality of some (anti) globalisation discourse, what we have to lose, and DIY." To translate: The chain of industrial processes, transportation miles, and person-hours that snakes behind even the simplest object is invisible even to the best-educated among us. Living within this invisible matrix is profoundly alienating. We ignore the cost to the environment and the fate of the people around the world who serve as cheap labor to make our cheap products. DIY is one possible response.

Not explicitly educational, the Toaster Project nevertheless illustrates two basic strategies important to DIY education. The first is to seek out the vividness of direct experience, to
encounter the world, and, if possible, to make yourself useful. Henry David Thoreau argued for a Toaster Project approach to education.

Students, he wrote, should not play life, or study it merely, while the community supports them at this expensive game, but earnestly live it from beginning to end. . . Which would have advanced the most at the end of a month,-the boy who had made his own jackknife from the ore which he had dug and smelted, reading as much as would be necessary for this -- or the boy who had attended the lecture on metallurgy at the Institute in the mean while, and had received a . . . penknife from his father?
Which would be more likely to cut his fingers?

The second strategy is to share information with a community. I found out about the Toaster Project on Google Reader, a free application. Every day when I'm surfing the Internet reading news and blogs, I can click a button and share what I'm reading on Reader, Facebook, or Twitter with several thousand of my friends and contacts, who also share their links with me. The Toaster Project is highly shareable; Thwaites put a lot of information online, including step-by-step videos. If I wanted to, I could probably draw on these resources and use my microwave to smelt iron too.

The monks contend that community- and practice-based learning can transcend the limitations of existing educational institutions. Jim Groom ("The great Reverend @jimgroom, Groom and Doom, Groom Fills The Room," as he was announced, via Twitter, at the 2009 Open Education conference in Vancouver) is a chainsmoker with glasses and an ever-present five-days' growth of beard. He has the discursive, occasionally irascible manner of a longtime graduate student. Groom's day job is educational technologist at the University of Mary Washington in Fredericksburg, Virginia. His secret identity is open education blogodaemon and coiner of the term "edupunk."

"Edupunk is about the utter irresponsibility and lethargy of educational institutions, and the means by which they are financially cannibalizing their own mission," is the opening salvo of his first e-mail. Higher education has become a given for most high school students in our culture, and the fact that they have to pay out the nose has become a kind of unquestioned necessity to secure a job. But as we are increasingly seeing with big media, newspapers, and the like -- traditional modes of information distribution are being
circumvented, and higher education is just as vulnerable in this new landscape. . . There remains a general refusal to acknowledge the implications of how easy it is
to publish, share, teach, and even apprentice one another outside of the traditional logic of institutions.

What edupunk -- DIY education, if you will -- promises is an evolution from expensive institutions to expansive networks; it aims to fulfill the promise of universal education, but only by leaving the university behind. Educational futurist John Seely Brown talks about "open participatory learning ecosystems." Alec Couros at the University of Sasketchewan calls my blend of news sources and contacts on Google Reader, Facebook, Twitter, blogs, and e-mail a "personal learning network."

He draws a diagram that looks like a dandelion head. You, the learner, are at the center. The seeds are people, texts, courses, Web sites, blogs-any knowledge resource. George
Siemens and Stephen Downes, who collaborated in offering the Massively Open Online Course, call their theory of learning in the digital age "connectivism."

Learning networks in previous decades were insular groups formed around academic journals, learned societies, and professional conferences. Today, galaxies of students, academics, professionals, and amateurs are using blogs, wikis, presentation tools like Slideshare, YouTube videos, and e-mail lists to collaborate, pursue, and present knowledge in any discipline. All are supported by, yet independent of, universities, other cultural and government institutions, and private companies, not to mention hours of volunteered time by enthusiasts. Just now I picked a topic out of thin air -- Tuvan throat singing. In hardly more time than it takes me to type the words, I find YouTube videos, personal blogs, ethnomusicology papers on Google Scholar. A few more keystrokes and I've opened up a dialogue by sending an e-mail to Ted Levin at Dartmouth, who, I find, the Washington Post called the world's foremost expert on the subject.

In my e-mail, I ask him how often he responds to queries that he receives out of the blue. Just hours later I got an incredibly generous response in which Levin said, in part,

Yes, a lot of people e-mail me with questions about Tuvan throat singing, and yes, I respond to each and every inquiry. But I don't respond equally. The depth of the
response is commensurate with the thoughtfulness of the inquiry. . . My point: that "research" via Internet can get you only as far as the doorstep in certain kinds of knowledge seeking, and that to go beyond that requires that you step off the Internet and into more personalized forms of knowledge transmission. Since I'm committed to this kind of knowledge transmission, I believe it's my duty to share what I know with any serious seeker or researcher who comes along, whatever the portal by which he or she reaches me.

The casual intellectual venturer can dip in and out of established learning networks to answer a specific question, as I did when contacting Levin, or get a good introduction to a person or subject. But as Levin argues, actually becoming a part of a learning network requires some level of participation and contribution of your own-contribution that typically takes the learner from the virtual world to the real world and back again. The quality of the answer is dependent on the quality of the question.

Ideas travel faster over informal, digitally connected networks than when they are siloed inside academic departments. Such networks are especially useful in emerging, cross-
disciplinary frontiers of research, where there are no established departments. In fact, the open-education movement is itself a primary example of this kind of learning network.
"Given the abundance of information and given the connective and social opportunities around technology, perhaps the teacher's role is one of multiple nodes amid an overall network," says Siemens. "The world has become more and more complex. As a student you need to create your own learning network that will allow you to make sense of the abundance of information. It's a process of wayfinding, social sensemaking." Like Hansel and Gretel leaving trails of crumbs through the woods, or like bees doing waggle dances to point one another to the nectar, "Students need to be able to connect, provide continual feedback to each other, and form sensemaking social systems."

The whole project of formal education has been historically based on the idea of society transmitting its ideas, values, and technologies from one generation to the next, and from dominant civilizations and cultures to "backwards" or "primitive" ones. In the modern era we added the task of making and incorporating new discoveries into the curriculum year after year. As our society got more complex, we developed bigger and bigger institutions to teach more and more people more and more things.

Well, now the world is changing too fast, and the need is growing too much, for institutions to keep up. Scientists say we have less than ten years to reinvent how we use energy, how we get around, and how we make things if we don't want our civilization to collapse from the effects of global warming. And to do that, we as a species also have to find better ways of communicating, making decisions, and understanding and weighing each others' needs. No one person knows how to do this; it requires a new synthesis of the wisdom of the ancients and cutting-edge discoveries. Our best hope is to get better at empowering individuals to find answers for themselves. In other words, forget about giving the guy a fish, or teaching him how to fish, either. Teach him how to teach himself, and he'll always be able to acquire the skills he needs to find food, skills you haven't even thought of yet for things you didn't know you could eat.
 
Ask your questions about the impending education evolution during a free live call with "DIY U" author Any Kamenetz, Thurs, April 29.  This call is open to all RS participants as part of the Evolver Social Movement.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Top 12 Websites To Download Free E-Books

From: technologytosoftware.com
by jaspal

An E-Book so called as a digitally transformed book where simple text converted into e-text that built the digital media similar of our common printed book. An E-Book, as defined by the Oxford Dictionary of English, is “an electronic version of a printed book which can be read on a personal computer or hand-held device designed specifically for this purpose”.

We all know the importance of books in life to design our interest level and develop sharp knowledge. Hard copy of book are inconvenient in carrying all the time, anywhere for book lovers. So E-Books have revolutionized the print media, hence reducing deforestation and at the same time it has provided better option for securing the information for longer period of time.

After putting long hours and effort we succeed in covering up “Top 12 Websites To Download Free E-Books” for your use so that you are able to save your time rather than hanging around on plenty of website on internet.

1. Scribd

2. PlanetPDF

3. UFindBook

4. Bookyards

5. Free-Ebooks

6. FictionWise

7.  FreeBookCentre

8. MemoWare

9. OnlineComputerBooks

10. E-BooksDirectory

11. FreeBookSpot

12. Ebookslab


Thursday, April 15, 2010

Tehran summit promotes nuke-free world

 
Mohammad Mehdi Akhoundzadeh, the secretary general of Tehran's conference, says the summit wants to send a signal to the world that nukes must be banned.
Tehran says its upcoming denuclearization conference aims to send the message that nuclear weapons have no place in the world — particularly in the Middle East.


"We would continue to send this very strong message from the capital of Iran, Tehran, the center of the Middle East, that nuclear weapons do not have a place at all in this very sensitive part of the world," Mohammad Mehdi Akhoundzadeh, Iran's deputy foreign minister, told Press TV ahead of the international conference on nuclear disarmament scheduled for April 17th and 18th.


Officials from more than 60 countries as well as representatives from various international and non-governmental entities have been invited to the two-day conference dubbed "Nuclear energy for all, Nuclear weapons for none.”


Akhoundzadeh, who is the secretary general of the summit, also said that the conference did not mean to overshadow the nuclear summit held earlier in the US.


"This is a process, this is not a project. Some may think that this is to overshadow what's going on in Washington but we don't look at it that way," he reiterated.


Iran's ambassador to the Netherlands, Kazem Gharibabadi, said Tuesday that the conference seeks "practical" methods to oblige nuclear-armed countries to dismantle their nuclear warheads.


"Iran's main intention for holding this conference is that nuclear-armed countries take practical steps [towards disarmament]," he said in an interview with ANP, the Netherlands's national news agency.


He added that although the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty (NPT) came into effect 40 years ago to curb the spread of nuclear weapons across the globe, the international community was seriously concerned about the existence of thousands of nuclear weapons, which have yet to be dismantled.


Gharibabadi added that Tehran's forum would also discuss issues such as globalization of the NPT, the legal consequences of threatening to use or using nuclear weapons, as well as the need to end discrimination in the implementation of nuclear disarmament treaties.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

whosabiblioaddict.com


From the About page on the site:

About

Me? I’m nobody. Just a twenty-something gal who likes to read. A lot. My idea of a good evening, a good weekend, and a good vacation is curling up with at least five books and reading until “the big hours become little.” I’m a compulsive book buyer who loves the smell of books and the wonderful bookmarks I collect to match their covers.
...
http://www.whosabiblioaddict.com

Phew! Supplements Are Exempted From Codex Language in Food Safety Bill

ANH-USA Victory!

Posted By ANH-USA On April 13, 2010
The FDA Food Modernization Act (S. 510), also referred to as the “Food Safety” bill, has been modified to exempt dietary supplements from language that otherwise creates a slippery slope toward U.S. harmonization with Codex Alimentarius. ANH-USA worked to protect the natural health community from this dangerous provision that threatened access to high quality, therapeutic supplement doses by working with key senators to modify the language, now for the second time.

The most worrisome provision of the bill initially required the Food and Drug Agency (FDA) to recommend that U.S. foreign Herbal supplementstrading partners harmonize with Codex. This odd language was no doubt very intentional. How could we recommend harmonization to other countries if we rejected it for the U.S.? So in effect we were committing ourselves to a much more restrictive regulatory regime for supplements.

As the Senate moved forward with the Food Safety bill, Senator Harkin (D-IA), committee chair, working closely with Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT), promised to see what could be done to make absolutely clear this legislation was not intended to impact our access to dietary supplements. At that time, Senator Harkin modified the Codex provision, asking the FDA to consider “whether and how” to recommend U.S. foreign trading partners harmonize. This was a very important change and a tremendous show of support from both Senators, but we were still concerned that the inclusion of Codex language in the bill could be used to support future U.S. harmonization with Codex standards on dietary supplements.

ANH-USA worked with our allies in the Senate over the past several months to include additional language providing stronger protection for supplements. New language has now been added specifically stating, “Nothing in this section shall be construed to affect the regulation of dietary supplements.”

The Codex Alimentarius was initially developed to establish international food safety standards and regulate ingredients of food products. However, there is great concern that if the U.S. harmonizes with Codex standards, which are expected to follow Europe’s increasing ban on supplements, our access to supplements will be lost and even our food standards may be compromised. Although ANH-USA considers the new exemption a huge victory, it only applies to dietary supplements. The U.S. is still at risk of harmonization with other Codex food standards.

ANH-USA is especially grateful to Senators Harkin and Hatch for their leadership, continued dedication to the natural health community, and most recently, their show of support protecting our supplements from Codex harmonization. The Senate is expected to take up the Food Safety bill any day now. As the legislative process moves forward we will keep our members up to date on our efforts and where appropriate, we’ll ask for your help to protect supplements from increased government intrusion. The House version of the Food Safety bill, already passed, is especially worrisome. We will continue to make every effort, with your help, to ensure that the House version does not become law.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Notes of a Dirty Old Man Charles Bukowski

From: www.realitysandwich.com




Notes of a Dirty Old Man
Charles Bukowski

The following is from Absence of the Hero: Uncollected Stories and Essays, Volume 2, 1946-1992, edited by David Stephen Calonne (City Lights).


LA Free Press August 22, 1975:

Down around Sunset, about Sunset and Wilton, near the freeway exit and by the gas station, you'll see them sometimes in their uniforms with swastika. They wear pleasant looks on very white faces and hand out literature. They also wear helmets and some of the boys are big enough to play for the L.A. Rams. They are ready: members of the American Nazi Party. Well, it's Hollywood and one thinks of it more like part of a grade B movie, but then there are those who will tell you that it began that way over there, too -- just a few guys standing around who should have been fingering girls in the back seat of the movie house. Next thing you knew they were sitting at the sidewalk cafes of Paris, getting it off. But then if you're going to allow the Communist Party and the Socialist Party and the Gay Party and the Demos and Repubs, you can't very well say, well, the Nazi Party has no right to exist. So there they are but they intend to get the average person more wrought up -- memories of ovens and Pathé Newsreels of Hitler screaming, and then they are wearing uniforms that don't exactly remind some of Jack Oakiein bell-bottoms.

Sometimes the police arrive in three or four squad cars. I was gassing up at the station one day when it got very goosey around there. There were seven or eight cops looking very nervous, unsure, grim. The Nazis were gathered in squad formation, standing at attention except for the leader who was speaking to one of the cops. Then back toward Wilton was gathered a group of New York Marxist intellectual types, thin, some Jewish, black-bearded; most were around 5'6", wore old black coats -- even in the heat of day -- with white wrinkled shirts open at the collar, and they were screaming: "Hey, go back to Glendale, you bastards! Go back to Munich!"

One could sense conflagration, moil, and murder just a tick away. One curious wrong word and they would all be together, upon each other: cops, Marxists, and Nazis.

Sitting there in my car the old thought came back to me: How was it possible for people to believe in such opposite things with such rigor, such energy, such righteousness? How could some people be so sure there was a God and others so sure there was not? How were people unlucky enough to believe in anything? And then if you didn't believe in anything wasn't that a belief? Ta lala.

I got out of my car and walked toward the Nazi leader and the cop he was talking to. The cop saw me approaching first and stopped talking to the Nazi. He watched me. He had red eyebrows and looked as if he were wearing suntan lotion. I stopped three feet away.

"What do you want, buddy?" the cop asked me.

"I want a pamphlet. I want to know what this man's ideology is."

"You can't have one."

"Why not?"

"Because I have given an order to disperse and anybody within this area in five minutes will be under arrest."

"But I'm getting gas."

"That your car at the pump?"

"Yes."

"All right. Fill up and get out."

Cops can kill you and I've been jailed often enough but I can't help getting a sense of the comical out of them. I do suppose that the very fact of their ultimate and unmolested power is what makes them ludicrous. One realizes that power when given even to one man is a very dangerous thing and that man must be of very good soul and mind not to misuse it, and to use it judiciously. Yet in a city like Los Angeles thousands of men are given this power and sent among us with guns, clubs, handcuffs, two-way radios, and high-powered cars; and helicopters, disguises, green-beret training, plus gas, dogs, and even more dangerous: women.

Yet the sense of the comic remains. Once I gave a party at my place and drank too much. I passed out on the rug and the party went on. Then somebody pulled at me and I regained consciousness."Bukowski, somebody's at the door and wants to talk to you." Still stretched on the rug I looked up. It was a policeman with cap tilted rakishly and smoking a cigar. "You own this place, pal?"

"No, officer, but I pay the rent."

"Well, look, pal, I know this place. I've been here before." He inhaled on his cigar and took it out of his mouth and looked at the red and glowing end of it. Then he put it back in his mouth. "I've been here before, pal, and I've got to tell you this: one more call and I'm throwing you in the slammer!"

"All right, officer, I understand..."

Back to the Nazis. I sat in my car and got gassed-up. As I did I saw the leader of the Nazis leave the cop and then stand in front of his troops. Then he gave some commands and they marched off down the street. The New York Marxists followed somewhat behind, still cursing but feeling some minor victory. The whole moil of them turned north up Wilton and I paid for my gas and followed slowly in my car. I couldn't understand what attracted me. I suppose it was only the action, like horses breaking out of the starting gate.

One block up Wilton the troops crossed the street and marched toward a large van. The doors opened in back and the Nazis entered in orderly fashion, sitting down and facing each other, very straight, on long ledges on each side of the van. The doors closed and the leader and one other Nazi got into the front seat. One of the Marxists threw a rock which hit against the rear of the van and fell into the street.

The van full of Nazis moved off. I followed them and behind me were two carloads of Marxists and a police car. I looked back and one of the Marxists hollered at me: "Let's get those sons of bitches!" I nodded and looked forward again. When we reached Franklin I made a sudden right. The disparate fellows continued north. Like fights with women, history never ended. Maybe the balance of everything was the secret: all lawn and no weeds or all weeds and no lawn, and we're really doomed: all spiders, no flies; all lambs, no lions; all me and no you and we were doomed.

I turned south down Western and drove into the liquor store. Two six-packs. All you and no me.

* 4-13-10
* Charles Bukowski's blog

Subcomandante Marcos reveals his face



Zapatistas Subcomandante Marcos reveals his face, and he looks alot like you and me.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Reading Pornography in Old Age, by Howard Nemerov

Unbridled licentiousness with no holds barred,
Immediate and mutual lust, satisfiable
In the heat, upon demand, aroused again
And satisfied again, lechery unlimited.

Till space runs out at the bottom of the page
And another pair of lovers, forever young,
Prepotent, endlessly receptive, renews
The daylong, nightlong, interminable grind.

How decent it is, and how unlike our lives
Where “fuck you” is a term of vengeful scorn
And the murmur of “sorry, partner” as often heard
As ever in mixed doubles or at bridge.

Though I suspect the stuff is written by
Elderly homosexuals manacled to their
Machines, it’s mildly touching all the same,
A reminiscence of the life that was in Eden

Before the Fall, when we were beautiful
And shameless, and untouched by memory:
Before we were driven out to the laboring world
Of the money and the garbage and the kids

In which we read this nonsense and are moved
At all that was always lost for good, in which
We think about sex obsessively except
During the act, when our minds tend to wander.

*

*
[...Backdated to Monday since it looks like I forgot to post that day]

Sunday, April 11, 2010

THE LEGEND OF THE BLUE LOTUS

THE BLUE LOTUS

Century after century has passed away since Ambarisha, King of Ayodhya, reigned in the city founded by the holy Manu, Vaivasvata, the offspring of the Sun. The King was a Suryavansi (a descendant of the Solar Race), and he avowed himself a most faithful servant of the God, Varuna, the greatest and most powerful deity in the Rig-Veda.(3) But the god had denied male heirs to his worshipper, and this made the king very unhappy.

"Alas!" he wailed, every morning while performing his puja to the lesser gods, "alas! What avails it to be the greatest king on earth when God denies me an heir of my blood. When I am dead and placed on the funeral pyre, who will fulfil the pious duties of a son, and shatter my lifeless skull to liberate my soul from its earthly trammels? What strange hand will at the full moon-tide place the rice of the Shraddha ceremony to do reverence to my shade? Will not the very birds of death(4) themselves turn from the funeral feast? For, surely, my shade earthbound in its great despair will not permit them to partake of it."(5)

The King was thus bewailing, when his family priest inspired him with the idea of making a vow. If God should send him two or more sons, he would promise God to sacrifice to Him at a public ceremony the eldest born when he should have attained the age of puberty.

Attracted by this promise of a burnt-offering of flesh -- a savoury odour very agreeable to the Great Gods -- Varuna accepted the promise of the King, and the happy Ambarisha had a son, followed by several others. The eldest son, the heir to the throne for the time being, was called Rohita (the red) and was surnamed Devarata -- which, literally translated, means God-given. Devarata grew up and soon became a veritable Prince Charming, but if we are to believe the legends he was as selfish and deceitful as he was beautiful.

When the Prince had attained the appointed age, the God speaking through the mouth of the same Court Priest, charged the King to keep his promise; but when each time Ambarisha invented some excuse to postpone the hour of sacrifice, the God at last grew annoyed. Being a jealous and angry God, He threatened the King with all His Divine wrath.

For a long time, neither commands nor threats produced the desired effect. As long as there were sacred cows to be transferred from the royal cow-sheds to those of the Brahmans, as long as there was money in the Treasury to fill the Temple crypts, the Brahmans succeeded in keeping Varuna quiet. But when there were no more cows, when there was no more money, the God threatened to overthrow the King, his palace and his heirs, and if they escaped, to burn them alive. The poor King, finding himself at the end of his resources, summoned his first-born and informed him of the fate which awaited him. But Devarata lent a deaf ear to these tidings. He refused to submit to the double weight of the paternal and divine will.

So, when the sacrificial fires had been lighted and all the good towns-folk of Ayodhya had gathered together, full of emotion, the heir-apparent was absent from the festival.

He had concealed himself in the forests of the Yogis.

Now, these forests had been inhabited by holy hermits, and Devarata knew that there he would be unassailable and impregnable. He might be seen there, but no one could do him violence -- not even the God Varuna Himself. It was a simple solution. The religious austerities of the Aranyakas (the holy men of the forests) several of whom were Daityas (Titans, a race of giants and demons), gave them such dominance that all the Gods trembled before their sway and their supernatural powers -- even Varuna himself.

These antediluvian Yogis, it seems, had the power to destroy even the God Himself, at will -- possibly because they had invented Him themselves.

Devarata spent several years in the forests; at last he grew tired of the life. Allowing it to be understood that he could satisfy Varuna by finding a substitute, who would sacrifice himself in his place, provided that the sacrificial victim was the son of a Rishi, he started on his journey and finally discovered that he sought.

In the country which lies around the flower-covered shores of the renowned Pushkara, there was once a famine, and a very holy man, named Ajigarta(6), was at the point of death from starvation, likewise all his family. He had several sons of whom the second, Sunahsepha, a virtuous young man, was himself also preparing to become a Rishi. Taking advantage of his poverty and thinking with good reason that a hungry stomach would be a more ready listener than a satisfied one, the crafty Devarata made the father acquainted with his history. After this he offered him a hundred cows in exchange for Sunahsepha, a substitute burnt-offering on the altar of the Gods.

The virtuous father refused at first point-blank, but the gentle Sunahsepha offered himself of his own accord, and thus addressed his father: "Of what importance is the life of one man, when it can save that of many others. This God is a great god and His pity is infinite; but He is also a very jealous god and His wrath is swift and vengeful. Varuna is the Lord of Terror, and Death is obedient to His command. His spirit will not for ever strive with one who is disobedient to Him. He will repent Him that He has created man, and then will burn alive a hundred thousand lakhs(7) of innocent people, because of one man who is guilty. If His victim should escape Him, He will surely dry up our rivers, set fire to our lands and destroy our women who are with child -- in His infinite kindness. Let me then sacrifice myself, oh! my father, in place of this stranger who offers us a hundred cows. That sum would prevent thee and my brothers from dying of hunger and will save thousands of others from a terrible death. At this price the giving up of life is a pleasant thing."

The aged Rishi shed some tears, but he ended by giving his consent and began to prepare the sacrificial pyre.(8)

The Pushkara lake(9) was one of the spots of this earth favoured by the Goddess, Lakshmi-Padma (White Lotus); she often plunged into the fresh waters that she might visit her eldest sister, Varuni, the consort of the God Varuna.(10) Lakshmi-Padma heard the proposal of Devarata, witnessed the despair of the father, and admired the filial devotion of Sunahsepha. Filled with pity, the Mother of Love and Compassion sent for the Rishi Visvamitra, one of the seven primordial Manus and a son of Brahma, and succeeded in interesting him in the lot of her protégé. The great Rishi promised her his aid. Appearing to Sunahsepha, but unseen by all others, he taught him two sacred verses (mantras) of the Rig-Veda, making him promise to recite these on the pyre. Now, he who utters these two mantras (invocations) forces the whole assembly of the Gods, with Indra at their head, to come to his rescue, and because of this becomes a Rishi himself in this life or in his next incarnation.

The altar was set up on the shore of the lake, the pyre was prepared and the crowd had assembled. After he had laid his son on the perfumed sandal wood and bound him, Ajigarta equipped himself with the knife of sacrifice. He was just raising his trembling arm above the heart of his well-beloved son, when the boy began to chant the sacred verses. There was again a moment of hesitation and supreme grief, and as the boy finished his mantram, the aged Rishi plunged his knife into the breast of Sunahsepha.

But, oh! the miracle of it! At that very moment Indra, the God of the Blue Vault (the Universe) issued from the heavens and descended right into the midst of the ceremony. Enveloping the pyre and the victim in a thick blue mist, he loosed the ropes which held the youth captive. It seemed as if a corner of the azure heavens had lowered itself over the spot, illuminating the whole country and colouring with a golden blue the whole scene. Filled with terror, the crowd, and even the Rishi himself, fell on their faces, half dead with fear.

When they came to themselves, the mist had disappeared and a complete change of scene had been wrought.

The fires of the funeral pyre had rekindled of themselves, and stretched thereon was seen a hind (Rohit)(11) which was none else than the Prince Rohita, Devarata, who, pierced to the heart with the knife he had directed against another, was burning as a sacrifice for his sin.

Some little way apart from the altar, also lying stretched out, but on a bed of Lotuses, peacefully slept Sunahsepha; and in the place on his breast where the knife had descended was seen to bloom a beautiful blue lotus. The Pushkara lake, itself, covered a moment before with white lotuses, whose petals shone in the sun like silver cups full of Amrita's waters(12), now reflected the azure of the heavens -- the white lotuses had become blue.

Then like to the sound of the Vina(13) rising to the air from the depths of the waters, was heard a melodious voice which uttered these words and this curse:

"A prince who does not know how to die for his subjects is not worthy to reign over the children of the Sun. He will be reborn in a race of red haired peoples, a barbarous and selfish race, and the nations which descend from him will have a heritage ever on the decline. It is the younger son of a mendicant ascetic who will become the king and reign in his stead."

A murmur of approbation set in movement the flowery carpet that o'erspread the lake. Opening to the golden sunlight their hearts of blue, the lotuses smiled with joy and wafted a hymn of perfume to Surya, their Sun and Master. All nature rejoiced, save Devarata, who was but a handful of ashes.

Then Visvamitra, the great Rishi, although he was already the father of a hundred sons, adopted Sunahsepha as his eldest son and as a precautionary measure cursed in advance anyone who should refuse to recognise, in the last born of the Rishi, the eldest of his children and the legitimate heir of the throne of Ambarisha.

Because of this decree, Sunahsepha was born in his next incarnation in the royal family of Ayodhya, and reigned over the Solar race for 84,000 years.

With regard to Rohita -- Devarata or God-given as he was -- he fulfilled the lot which Lakshmi Padma had vowed. He reincarnated in the family of a foreigner without caste (Mlecckha-Yavana) and became the ancestor of the barbarous and red-haired races which dwell in the West.
. . . . . . . . . .

It is for the conversion of these races that the Lotus Bleu has been established.

...

www.wisdomworld.org


Saturday, April 10, 2010

April 10, 1979....

....♪...
*sniff*...gets me all misty...He turned Republican....or maybe he always was...? I don't know...

Bird, by Pablo Neruda

It was passed from one bird to another,
the whole gift of the day.
The day went from flute to flute,
went dressed in vegetation,
in flights which opened a tunnel
through the wind would pass
to where birds were breaking open
the dense blue air -
and there, night came in.

When I returned from so many journeys,
I stayed suspended and green
between sun and geography -
I saw how wings worked,
how perfumes are transmitted
by feathery telegraph,
and from above I saw the path,
the springs and the roof tiles,
the fishermen at their trades,
the trousers of the foam;
I saw it all from my green sky.
I had no more alphabet
than the swallows in their courses,
the tiny, shining water
of the small bird on fire
which dances out of the pollen.
*

Kevin, the special bird, from the movie UP

Friday, April 09, 2010

From soul-sides.com

Cavaliers Unlimited: Soul Vein
The Nasty
From 7″ (Century, 1969)

Duke.


Thursday, April 08, 2010

Reason and Passion XV - by Khalil Gibran




And the priestess spoke again and said: "Speak to us of Reason and Passion."

And he answered saying:

Your soul is oftentimes a battlefield, upon which your reason and your judgment wage war against passion 
and your appetite.

Would that I could be the peacemaker in your soul, that I might turn the discord and the rivalry of your elements into oneness and melody.

But how shall I, unless you yourselves be also the peacemakers, nay, the lovers of all your elements?

Your reason and your passion are the rudder and the sails of your seafaring soul.

If either your sails or our rudder be broken, you can but toss and drift, or else be held at a standstill in mid-seas.

For reason, ruling alone, is a force confining; and passion, unattended, is a flame that burns to its own destruction.

Therefore let your soul exalt your reason to the height of passion; that it may sing;

And let it direct your passion with reason, that your passion may live through its own daily resurrection, and like the phoenix rise above its own ashes.

I would have you consider your judgment and your appetite even as you would two loved guests in your house.

Surely you would not honour one guest above the other; for he who is more mindful of one loses the love and the faith of both.

Among the hills, when you sit in the cool shade of the white poplars, sharing the peace and serenity of distant fields and meadows - then let your heart say in silence, "God rests in reason."

And when the storm comes, and the mighty wind shakes the forest, and thunder and lightning proclaim the majesty of the sky, - then let your heart say in awe, "God moves in passion."

And since you are a breath In God's sphere, and a leaf in God's forest, you too should rest in reason and move in passion.


[Thanks to cent for posting this...]

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

I ♥ Evo! - What would make you start a revolution?

DOC-DEBUT: Waiting for the RevolutionDOC-DEBUT: Waiting for the Revolution
For over 500 years the indigenous people of the Andes have had to endure racism and discrimination. Now, with democracy on their side, the time has come for a change.
Waiting for the Revolution

Wednesday, April 7th 
12:00 am 
Wednesday, April 7th 
10:05 am 

For over 500 years the indigenous people of the Andes have had to endure racism and discrimination. Now, with democracy on their side, the time has come for a change. Following two newly elected indigenous leaders from the campaign trail to their first year in office, filmmaker Rodrigo Vasquez journeys into the heart of the democratic revolution in Bolivia.

It takes more than a Che Guevara t-shirt to be a revolutionary - and Waiting for the Revolution proves this. It wasn’t branded images of rebellion that inspired Che – it was experiences traveling around in Latin America and Africa and observing the realities of rural poverty. The living conditions of the destitute convinced him that radical change was necessary. Today, billions of people still live in poverty, without access to adequate healthcare, clean water and food. The world’s ecosystems are under tremendous strain from human impact. Corruption and human rights violations still impact large parts of the human population. Is there a way to change these negative trends? Don’t say it’s a t-shirt. What would make you start a

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Situation

Situation (12″ US Original Mix)
Situation (The Aggressive Attitude Mix)
Situation (Club 69 Future Phunk Mix)
Situation (Richard X Remix)

http://www.destroyrockandroll.com/2009/02/18/situation-by-yaz/

The War Against War, by Archana Sridhar

A war against war, is what I dream,
where the solders joyfully work in happy team.

They are powerful, fearless with determination.
to spread love and peace is their only mission.

They don’t carry bombs and guns,
all they have is love in tons.

They care for the people in need and pain,
For them all country, race and religion mean the same.

They teach children great morels and social grace,
Boost elder’s ego and bring smile on their face.

They erase the hatredness of people,
preaching them the power of love and peace, in gentle.

They plant trees and care for nature,
animals and birds feel the earth a safe shelter.

They are no super heroes nor are they gods,
they possess no magic stick or powers.

They are there in chrores and millions,
peep within, they dwell in each one of us.

It’s high time we pat them into action,
to make the entire world into one great nation. 
*

Shhh!!!, What If It Was Reported That They Are Spraying Aluminum?

From: blacklistednews.com


By Michael J. Murphy - BLN Contributing Writer

Geo-engineers gathered once again near Monterey California at the Asilomar International Conference on Climate Intervention Technologies meeting to develop norms and guidelines for what they say will be “controlled experimentation” on geo-engineering the planet.  While many claim that stratospheric aerosol geo-engineering (SAG), aka chemtrail programs are in full-scale deployment, organizers of this meeting  showed  a lack of transparency by either denying or holding reporters to a high set of rules which limited what information was brought to the attention of the public.  While we might never know how much information from the conference was suppressed in articles and reports, we do know some of the information that was not included.   The issue of current SAG deployment and the use of aluminum in these programs seemed to be missing from reports and articles that came out of the conference.
Mauro Oliveira, webmaster of http://www.geoengineeringwatch.org/ said that aluminum became a concern to many after the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) meeting when independent journalists sent shockwaves around the world after breaking the story of scientists discussing the plausibility of spraying 10 to 20 mega-tons of aluminum into the sky in SAG campaigns.   Francis Mangels, a retired USDA/USFS Biologist commented on the use of aluminum by saying,   “although aluminum is an abundant element, it does not exist naturally in the environment in free form.  Dispersing massive amounts of ultra-fine aluminum particulates as proposed by geo-engineers into the stratosphere would have unquantifiable human health and environmental impacts”.  When scientists were asked about the risks associated with the use of aluminum sprayed as an aerosol in SAG programs, they admitted that they have only begun to research aluminum and have published nothing.  They also admitted that something terrible could be found in the future that they don’t know about.  Also, when asked about deployment of current programs, scientists denied that any SAG programs have been deployed.  This contradicted the findings of many who claim that SAG programs are well under-way and that high amounts of aluminum and other harmful substances from these programs are being found resulting in the devastation of eco-systems and the health of people around the world.
Like the AAAS meeting, the Asilomar geo-engineering conference hosted some of the world’s leading geo-engineers, environmental groups and scientists who gathered to discuss various issues relating to SAG.  Unlike the AAAS meeting, reporters were either denied attendance or set to a high standard of rules which included a ban on daily reporting, quoting, and recording anything from the meeting without the consent of presenters.   Stewart Howe was one of the reporters denied access into the conference.  Howe helped break the story about aluminum when he was sent to the AAAS meeting in San Diego to report for Infowars.  He feels that he was denied access because of this and his reporting of evidence that suggests SAG programs are in full-scale deployment.  Howe said, “due to the devastating effects of aluminum and world-wide claims of current deployment, transparent reporting of this could devastate the entire SAG agenda compromising billions of dollars in contracts.”  He went on to say that it was apparent that this meeting had no intentions of being transparent.
Whereas many reporters were denied access to this event, some “privileged” journalists did have the opportunity to attend.  Although some of the articles about the conference appeared to be critical of geo-engineering, they largely ignored the use of aluminum and other serious issues that could have impacted or changed the damaging components of the SAG agenda.  Due to their agreement  to the strict, non-transparent guidelines of the conference, the reporting journalists not only helped keep some of the meeting secret, they also helped hide the fact that geo-engineers are “planning” to use aluminum in SAG programs.  Some articles were also falsely written stating that geo-engineers are planning on using sulfur in the various SAG campaigns.  This contradicts articles written by some reporters who attended the AAAS meeting and quoted scientists as stating that they initially considered using sulfur for the program; however, aluminum is more effective and will be the ingredient considered for use.  To date, scientists have not corrected the journalists who falsely reported the use of less damaging sulfur instead of harmful aluminum as being an ingredient for SAG programs.               
Let’s look at this issue a little more closely.  People from around the world are witnessing white trails behind airplanes and believe them to be a product of SAG programs that scientists deny exist.  People are also reporting test results of high amounts of aluminum, barium and strontium in their snow, rain and soil where the alleged spraying is occurring.  These are the exact substances that scientists are “considering” implementing into the various SAG programs discussed at the AAAS meeting. 
Shockwaves were sent around the globe after the AAAS meeting because of reports that led many to believe that the destruction of eco-systems and the massive amounts of aluminum found in the snow, rain and soil are in fact from SAG programs that have already been deployed.  As a result of these reports, many around the world are asking questions about the current deployment and the dangers of using aluminum in these programs.  And finally, journalists are restricted from reporting certain facts from this conference that could be damaging to the SAG agenda.               
Could transparent reporting of certain facts threaten the current and future deployment of SAG programs around the world?  Could denying independent reporters the freedom to openly report on this meeting be an attempt to cover-up allegations that SAG programs are in full-scale deployment and are also destroying eco-systems around the world with the use of aluminum?  Is it possible that the reporters who were allowed into this meeting were invited for the purpose of protecting the corporate and political interests of those involved with SAG programs?   What would the political and monetary implications be for those who have vested interests in SAG if the larger public was made aware of the multiple environmental and health effects of spraying mega-tons of aluminum into our environment?   Whatever the reason for this lack of transparency and denial of information, we the public need to hold both reporters and scientists to a higher degree of professionalism, transparency and ethical consideration when it comes to these and other issues of public interests.  The future of our health and environment is dependent upon it.  More information and videos on the subject of geo-engineering/chemtrails can be found on my blog at http://truthmediaproductions.blogspot.com/ .  I can also be reached at whtagft@hotmail.com.
Bio: Michael J. Murphy is a peaceful non-violent independent journalist and political activist from the Los Angeles area whose work focuses on issues that go beyond the interest of the Corporate mainstream media. Michael's interviews include; G. Edward Griffin,  Chelene Nightingale (California Governor candidate), Jim King (California lieutenant Governor candidate), Mark Reed (California congressional candidate), Bill Hunt (Orange County Sheriff candidate), Jenny Worman (California congressional candidate), Stewart Rhodes (Oath Keepers, Founder) and Ed Asner (Actor "Mary Tyler Moore", "Lou Grant" and "UP"). Michael has also made a series of short films that address controversial political issues.  Many of his interviews and videos can be seen on his blog at  http://truthmediaproductions.blogspot.com/. He can be reached by e-mail at: whtagft@hotmail.com.

Monday, April 05, 2010

US Military Murders over 1 dozen people and LIES about it....

Collateral Murder

WikiLeaks has released a classified US military video depicting the indiscriminate slaying of over a dozen people in the Iraqi suburb of New Baghdad -- including two Reuters news staff. Reuters has been trying to obtain the video through the Freedom of Information Act, without success since the time of the attack. The video, shot from an Apache helicopter gun-site, clearly shows the unprovoked slaying of a wounded Reuters employee and his rescuers. Two young children involved in the rescue were also seriously wounded. For further information please visit the special project website www.collateralmurder.com.


How the Corporations Broke Ralph Nader and America, Too

Posted on Apr 5, 2010

By Chris Hedges
Ralph Nader’s descent from being one of the most respected and powerful men in the country to being a pariah illustrates the totality of the corporate coup. Nader’s marginalization was not accidental. It was orchestrated to thwart the legislation that Nader and his allies—who once consisted of many in the Democratic Party—enacted to prevent corporate abuse, fraud and control. He was targeted to be destroyed. And by the time he was shut out of the political process with the election of Ronald Reagan, the government was in the hands of corporations. Nader’s fate mirrors our own.

“The press discovered citizen investigators around the mid-1960s,” Nader told me when we spoke a few days ago. “I was one of them. I would go down with the press releases, the findings, the story suggestions and the internal documents and give it to a variety of reporters. I would go to Congress and generate hearings. Oftentimes I would be the lead witness. What was interesting was the novelty; the press gravitates to novelty. They achieved great things. There was collaboration. We provided the newsworthy material. They covered it. The legislation passed. Regulations were issued. Lives were saved. Other civic movements began to flower.”

Nader was singled out for destruction, as Henriette Mantel and Stephen Skrovan point out in their engaging documentary movie on Nader, “An Unreasonable Man.” General Motors had him followed in an attempt to blackmail him. It sent an attractive woman to his neighborhood Safeway supermarket in a bid to meet him while he was shopping and then seduce him; the attempt failed, and GM, when exposed, had to issue a public apology. 

But far from ending their effort to destroy Nader, corporations unleashed a much more sophisticated and well-funded attack. In 1971, the corporate lawyer and future U.S. Supreme Court Justice Lewis Powell wrote an eight-page memo, titled “Attack on American Free Enterprise System,” in which he named Nader as the chief nemesis of corporations. It became the blueprint for corporate resurgence. Powell’s memo led to the establishment of the Business Roundtable, which amassed enough money and power to direct government policy and mold public opinion. The Powell memo outlined ways corporations could shut out those who, in “the college campus, the pulpit, the media, the intellectual and literary journals,” were hostile to corporate interests. Powell called for the establishment of lavishly funded think tanks and conservative institutes to churn out ideological tracts that attacked government regulation and environmental protection. His memo led to the successful effort to place corporate-friendly academics and economists in universities and on the airwaves, as well as drive out those in the public sphere who questioned the rise of unchecked corporate power and deregulation. It saw the establishment of organizations to monitor and pressure the media to report favorably on issues that furthered corporate interests. And it led to the building of legal organizations to promote corporate interests in the courts and appointment of sympathetic judges to the bench. 

“It was off to the races,” Nader said. “You could hardly keep count of the number of right-wing corporate-funded think tanks. These think tanks specialized, especially against the tort system. We struggled through the Nixon and early Ford years, when inflation was a big issue. Nixon did things that horrified conservatives. He signed into law OSHA, the Environmental Protection Agency and air and water pollution acts because he was afraid of the people from the rumble that came out of the 1960s. He was the last Republican president to be afraid of liberals.”

The corporations carefully studied and emulated the tactics of the consumer advocate they wanted to destroy. “Ralph Nader came along and did serious journalism; that is what his early stuff was, such as ‘Unsafe at Any Speed,’ ” the investigative journalist David Cay Johnston told me. “The big books they [Nader and associates] put out were serious, first-rate journalism. Corporate America was terrified by this. They went to school on Nader. They said, ‘We see how you do this.’ You gather material, you get people who are articulate, you hone how you present this and the corporations copy-catted him with one big difference—they had no regard for the truth. Nader may have had a consumer ideology, but he was not trying to sell you a product. He is trying to tell the truth as best as he can determine it. It does not mean it is the truth. It means it is the truth as best as he and his people can determine the truth. And he told you where he was coming from.”

The Congress, between 1966 and 1973, passed 25 pieces of consumer legislation, nearly all of which Nader had a hand in authoring. The auto and highway safety laws, the meat and poultry inspection laws, the oil pipeline safety laws, the product safety laws, the update on flammable fabric laws, the air pollution control act, the water pollution control act, the EPA, OSHA and the Environmental Council in the White House transformed the political landscape. Nader by 1973 was named the fourth most influential person in the country after Richard Nixon, Supreme Court Justice Earl Warren and the labor leader George Meany.

“Then something very interesting happened,” Nader said. “The pressure of these meetings by the corporations like General Motors, the oil companies and the drug companies with the editorial people, and probably with the publishers, coincided with the emergence of the most destructive force to the citizen movement—Abe Rosenthal, the editor of The New York Times. Rosenthal was a right-winger from Canada who hated communism, came here and hated progressivism. The Times was not doing that well at the time. Rosenthal was commissioned to expand his suburban sections, which required a lot of advertising. He was very receptive to the entreaties of corporations, and he did not like me. I would give material to Jack Morris in the Washington bureau and it would not get in the paper.”

Rosenthal, who banned social critics such as Noam Chomsky from being quoted in the paper and met frequently for lunch with conservative icon William F. Buckley, demanded that no story built around Nader’s research could be published unless there was a corporate response. Corporations, informed of Rosenthal’s dictate, refused to comment on Nader’s research. This tactic meant the stories were never published. The authority of the Times set the agenda for national news coverage. Once Nader disappeared from the Times, other major papers and the networks did not feel compelled to report on his investigations. It was harder and harder to be heard.

“There was, before we were silenced, a brief, golden age of journalism,” Nader lamented.

“We worked with the press to expose corporate abuse on behalf of the public. We saved lives. This is what journalism should be about; it should be about making the world a better and safer place for our families and our children, but then it ended and we were shut out.”
“We were thrown on the defensive, and once we were on the defensive it was difficult to recover,” Nader said. “The break came in 1979 when they deregulated natural gas. Our last national stand was for the Consumer Protection Agency. We put everything we had on that.

We would pass it during the 1970s in the House on one year, then the Senate during the next session, then the House later on. It ping-ponged. Each time we would lose ground. We lost it because Carter, although he campaigned on it, did not lift a finger compared to what he did to deregulate natural gas. We lost it by 20 votes in the House, although we had a two-thirds majority in the Senate waiting for it. That was the real beginning of the decline. Then Reagan was elected. We tried to be the watchdog. We put out investigative reports. They would not be covered.” 

“The press in the 1980s would say ‘why should we cover you?’ ” Nader went on. “ ‘Who is your base in Congress?’ I used to be known as someone who could trigger a congressional hearing pretty fast in the House and Senate. They started looking towards the neoliberals and neocons and the deregulation mania. We put out two reports on the benefits of regulation and they too disappeared. They did not get covered at all. This was about the same the time that [former U.S. Rep.] Tony Coelho taught the Democrats, starting in 1979 when he was head of the House Campaign Finance Committee, to start raising big-time money from corporate interests. And they did. It had a magical influence. It is the best example I have of the impact of money. The more money they raised the less interested they were in any of these popular issues. They made more money when they screwed up the tax system. There were a few little gains here and there; we got the Freedom of Information law through in 1974. And even in the 1980s we would get some things done, GSA, buying air bag-equipped cars, the drive for standardized air bags. We would defeat some things here and there, block a tax loophole and defeat a deregulatory move. We were successful in staunching some of the deregulatory efforts.” Nader, locked out of the legislative process, decided to send a message to the Democrats. He went to New Hampshire and Massachusetts during the 1992 primaries and ran as “none of the above.” In 1996 he allowed the Green Party to put his name on the ballot before running hard in 2000 in an effort that spooked the Democratic Party. The Democrats, fearful of his grass-roots campaign, blamed him for the election of George W. Bush, an absurdity that found fertile ground among those who had abandoned rational inquiry for the thought-terminating clichés of television.

Nader’s status as a pariah corresponded with an unchecked assault by corporations on the working class. The long-term unemployment rate, which in reality is close to 20 percent, the millions of foreclosures, the crippling personal debts that plague households, the personal bankruptcies, Wall Street’s looting of the U.S. Treasury, the evaporation of savings and retirement accounts and the crumbling of the country’s vital infrastructure are taking place as billions in taxpayer subsidies, obscene profits, bonuses and compensation are enjoyed by the corporate overlords. We will soon be forced to buy the defective products of the government-subsidized drug and health insurance companies, which will remain free to raise co-payments and premiums, especially if policyholders get seriously ill. The oil, gas, coal and nuclear power companies have made a mockery of Barack Obama’s promises to promote clean, renewal energy. And we are rapidly becoming a third-world country, cannibalized by corporations, with two-thirds of the population facing financial difficulty and poverty. 

The system is broken. And the consumer advocate who represented the best of our democracy was broken with it. As Nader pointed out after he published “Unsafe at Any Speed” in 1965, it took nine months to federally regulate the auto industry for safety and fuel efficiency. Two years after the collapse of Bear Stearns there is still no financial reform. The large hedge funds and banks are using billions in taxpayer subsidies to once again engage in the speculative games that triggered the first financial crisis and will almost certainly trigger a second. The corporate press, which abets our vast historical amnesia, does nothing to remind us how we got here. It speaks in the hollow and empty slogans handed to it by public relations firms, its corporate paymasters and the sound-bite society.

“If you organize 1 percent of the people in this country along progressive lines you can turn the country around, as long as you give them infrastructure,” Nader said. “They represent a large percentage of the population. Take all the conservatives who work in Wal-Mart: How many would be against a living wage? Take all the conservatives who have pre-existing conditions: How many would be for single-payer not-for-profit health insurance? When you get down to the concrete, when you have an active movement that is visible and media-savvy, when you have a community, a lot of people will join. And lots more will support it.
The problem is that most liberals are estranged from the working class. They largely have the good jobs. They are not hurting.”

“The real tragedy is that citizens’ movements should not have to rely on the commercial media, and public television and radio are disgraceful—if anything they are worse,” Nader said. “In 30-some years [Bill] Moyers has had me on [only] twice. We can’t rely on the public media. We do what we can with Amy [Goodman] on “Democracy Now!” and Pacifica stations. When I go to local areas I get very good press, TV and newspapers, but that doesn’t have the impact, even locally. The national press has enormous impact on the issues. It is not pleasant having to say this. You don’t want to telegraph that you have been blacked out, but on the other hand you can’t keep it quiet. The right wing has won through intimidation.”
Ralph Nader AP / Carolyn Kaster

Sunday, April 04, 2010

EASTER AND PASSOVER: OF CHILDREN AND LAMBS

On the widespread victimization of animals for the sake of anachronistic rituals and barbaric traditions

RUTH EISENBUD: AN OPEN LETTER to Religious Leaders of the Judeo-Christian persuasion



IN THE MIDST OF THE CELEBRATION OF EASTER AND PASSOVER, consider the following: The religious holidays of the Judeo-christian, Easter and Passover coincide with each other and with a dramatic increase of animal slaughter. In some religious traditions this would be unimaginable, as inflicting pain, suffering and terror on any living being is viewed as gratuitous violence. It is inconceivable to those who follow the compassionate jain/hindu tradition of India to rejoice in significant religious holidays with violence and the bloodshed of gentle animals who have harmed no one.

Lambs are born in the late winter, by early spring they are slaughtered either for the symbolism of the lamb shank in the Passover ritual or for a sumptuous Easter meal to honor their lord, often called the lamb of God, a prince of peace.

The story of Passsover itself is tinged with the blood of animals. A lamb was killed and its blood was used to mark the doors of the enemy, so that God could smite their first born dead. To this day a lamb shank is included in the Passover ritual. As Christianity speaks of the lamb of God, it slaughters baby sheep in the name of religious celebration. While loving images of shepards protecting their sheep abound in the Bible, it is noteworthy that though the shepard protects their sheep from predators, in the end these sheep are not kept as pets, but protected so that their flesh may be consumed.

Is this a message of compassion?

Cows, pigs, chickens, fish and a myriad of other animals, while they do not have the honorific status of religious symbolism, also fall victim to the self-indulgent violence of the Passover/Easter season. Sumptuous honey baked ham, beef brisket, roast chicken and poached fish are all evidence of the unnecessary carnage which causes pain and suffering to animals. As gratuitous violence is not easily contained the carnage often extends to human on human violence.  The internecine fighting between the three religions of the semitic tradition throughout history which is ongoing to the present day, bears witness to the harmful effects of allowable harm and slaughter.

The judeo.christian religions follow the dominion model of animal compassion, which does not acknowledge that the suffering of animals is comparable to human suffering. It is therefore acceptable to harm, mutilate, exploit, ab(use) and slaughter them for human benefit. In a hierarchy which places human life and needs above the right of an animal to exist and remain free from pain and terror, the end result is a system which endorses violence to living beings when it is deemed beneficial.

This inability to empathize and express sympathy for the pain and terror of a fellow living being during slaughter is a serious oversight and ironically has led to increased violence towards humans.

    “Anyone who has accustomed himself to regard the life of any living creature as worthless is in danger of arriving also at the idea of worthless human life”. ~ Albert Schweitzer

As the Pope celebrates the Easter Season at the Vatican, he is forced to defend the terrible record of child abuse within his domain. The ease with which the judeo.christian tradition justifies the taking of animal life is not restricted to non-human animals. Animals and children do not have the skills to defend thenselves from stronger adults who use force against them, hence silencing the child victims of violence by predatory priests placed them in a precarious position. Just as the Catholic Church covered up the sexual abuse of children by priests, so too the Judeo.christian tradition covers up its sanctified animal abuse with sweet words of compassion that lose all meaning when paired with allowable harm and slaughter.

The recent indiscriminate bombing of a school in Palestinian territory killed hundreds of children, as their lives were viewed as expendable, when compared to the lives of Israeli children. When the life of one child is viewed as more worthy of respect than that of a child from another culture, then no children are safe. When some lives are considered less precious than others violence is a predictable end result.

As Passover and Easter are celebrated, the time is right to expose the cover-up and end the charade of sanctified animal abuse of the Judeo.Christian religions in the name of tradition.

—Ruth Eisenbud


•••

    “One day the absurdity of the almost universal human belief in the slavery of other animals will be palpable. We shall then have discovered our souls and become worthier of sharing this planet with them.”—Martin Luther King

...



Library Occupation Funks the Police

A very civil action.
A very civil action.
At 5:30 on Saturday afternoon, it was the last hour of the last day before the Mount Pleasant library was scheduled to close for a 17-month-long remodel. Patrons slowly filtered out, some looking wistfully around them at a classic interior they’d never see again, as librarians shooed them towards the door.

Others didn’t leave so quietly.

“Who’s ever heard of Martin Luther King before?” yelled Chris Otten, an organizer of the small but lively protest on the sidewalk outside. “Have you heard of Gandhi? Have you heard of civil disobedience?”

While people vacated the upper floors, Otten revealed, his band of monkeywrenchers had locked open the door to the basement with a chain and padlock. A few pranced into the darkened interior, to beats provided by a roving sound system recognizable from recent Funk the War protests.

“The protesters have broken into the library,” an agitated library manager said into his iPhone, over the music and chanting. Police soon arrived on the scene—within an hour, six squad cars and two vans crowded the corner of 16th and Lamont—and tried to sever the chain with bolt cutters. “I live in the neighborhood. I agree with you,” a police sergeant remonstrated with Otten. “I just gotta do my job.” Delighted protesters started busting break dance moves, while Ward One city council candidate Jeff Smith had arrived to hand out stickers and lit.

This dustup was only the most recent in a string of protests around the last of three original Carnegie libraries to be renovated, which has become a flashpoint for local library activists. The $11 million facelift, they say, poses a fire hazard to surrounding buildings, inconveniences disabled patrons, and will desecrate the building’s historic interior. “It’s inappropriate and disrespectful,” said Faye Armstrong, of Historic Mount Pleasant. “It’s a cookie-cutter approach to what a modern branch library should have.”

In particular, preservationists lament the destruction of an elegant sun room in the back of the library, which will be replaced by a large addition for meeting space. The architect’s plans retain the original fireplaces and some murals, but vinyl and linoleum dominate the surfaces.

Patrick Sheary, the curator of furnishings at the Daughters of the American Revolution museum, looked heartbroken as he surveyed the oak circulation desk, elaborate cornices, and cast-iron shelves that would be junked in the remodel.

“These are solid walls. You just don’t really get those anymore,” he said, patting the plaster. “People don’t really get the extent of what’s going to happen.”

The larger problem, activists say, is D.C. Public Libraries’ lack of response to community concerns. Despite several public meetings and a survey done on the front end of the project, the Library Renaissance Project (a Ralph Nader brainchild started in 2002) is pushing for the closure to be delayed until questions of accessibility and fire safety in the finals plans can be addressed—or at least until the opening of interim library, which is supposed to be ready by April 26.

This week, two Advisory Neighborhood Councils will release reviews of the library plans undertaken by outside contractors at the cost of $3,000 apiece. According to ANC commissioner Chris Otten—also a Library Renaissance Project field organizer—the studies find that the library’s plans for a wheelchair ramp fail to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act. Even if DCPL doesn’t take the studies into account, he noted, they may serve as evidence in a potential lawsuit against the city.

“One of the reasons there’s been a lot of failure in the library system is that they haven’t been open to the public,” said Robin Diener, leader of the Library Renaissance project, who argued good-naturedly with a
cop, sign in hand.  “Unfortunately, the library takes all suggestions as criticism. I think that’s unusual, and that’s a shame.”

Photo by Lydia DePillis

Saturday, April 03, 2010

Opportunity for ALL

How the American Public Benefits
from Internet Access at U.S. Libraries

Friday, April 02, 2010

THE TRINIDAD STEEL-BAND: ISLAND SURPRISES

From: http://soul-sides.com


The Trinidad Steel-Band: Summertime
L’homme a la grosse tete
Improvisation
From S/T (Arion, 1960s/70s?)

The Caribbean steel drum tradition is well-known yet poorly understood. It’s co-optation by the tourism industry created a caricature of steel bands, standing a beach, playing “Yellow Bird” while piña colada-sipping tourists sunburn in the background. To be sure, most of the recorded steel drum albums don’t do much to dispel this idea but occasionally, you’ll get a glance at how much more interesting the scene likely was.
This Trinidad Steel Drum LP likely wouldn’t merit the same kind of attention something like, say, the Dutch Rhythm and Steel Show Band but I was genuinely taken in by the diversity of styles here, not the least of which is that for an LP by a steel drum band, several songs have no steel drum! For example, the band does an excellent cover of “Summertime” with nary a steel “tink” (though it does have a good guitarist). I do wish it was engineered just a touch better only because the elements here are so fantastic, you want everything to be pristine.
Just to show off their versatility, they also cut “L’homme a la grosse tete” in French (and again, sans steel drum). You have to get to “Improvisation” to hear the band’s namesake instrument and I like the simple rhythm they lay down that then allows the drummer to effectively solo for a several minutes. Bang on!

Thursday, April 01, 2010

Mashable: Our Choice: The Funniest April Fools Jokes

It’s that date again, folks. If you’ve seen an amazing new service or something that sounds too good to be true, it probably is — very few companies take April 1st seriously. Reports of April Fools jokes are pouring in; as we do every year, we’ll mention the ones that are either very funny or amazingly clever.
Last year, some of the stuff we saw really made us laugh; let’s see what the usual suspects (Google, your staff obviously has too much…
Stan Schroeder About 6 hours ago Stan Schroeder

Everyone’s an admin on Reddit.






We expected a lot from Reddit on this particular day and boy, have they delivered. Today, everyone on the site gets to be an administrator, which results in a) chaos and b) lots of hilarious comments. Hey, I just banned someone!

Google changes name to Topeka






Directly from Google: “Early last month the mayor of Topeka, Kansas stunned the world by announcing that his city was changing its name to Google. We’ve been wondering ever since how best to honor that moving gesture. Today we are pleased to announce that as of 1AM (Central Daylight Time) April 1st, Google has officially changed our name to Topeka.”
Nice move. I’ll Topeka Google, and you Google Topeka, OK?

unixkcd






Familiar with Unix? Then you’ll have a lot of fun navigating the popular web comic, XKCD, today. In case your Unix knowledge is a little rusty, start with “ls -al”. It’ll all start coming back from there.

YouTube text videos






YouTube has gone old school today by announcing TEXTp, a text-only mode for the service. From their blog: “By replacing the images in the video with a series of letters and numbers, the videos are far less taxing on our system — and have the added benefit of promoting literacy!”
I don’t know what they’re talking about — I’m still browsing with Lynx, it’s all text to me.

iPhone to iPad converter






Can’t afford an iPad? Why not just convert your iPhone with this magical, mystical and revolutionary dock which magnifies your iPhone’s touch screen to the exact dimensions of the iPad screen? After all, size is the only difference between the two devices, right?

Sophos: Protection Through Distraction






Sophos has made a break-through in dealing with hackers: Planting romantic fiction files to distract the uninvited guests. Hit up the video above to find out how this innovative solution is protecting corporate IT systems worldwide.

DeviantART goes Gaga for Twilight






At first glance, popular art community DeviantART seems to be the same as always. But look closer: Every user’s icon has been turned into either Lady Gaga or something Twilight-related. Team Jacob FTW.

Firebox Offers Adult Naughty Step






UK-based online retailer Firebox has five new products on offer this morning. Our favorite is the Adult Naughty Step, a product that recreates the familiar childhood experience of “go and think about what you’ve done” for adults. For only $45, the step provides three steps of scaled naughtiness from “quite naughty” to “might go to prison.”

ThinkGeek Launches the iCade






How cool would it be, asks ThinkGeek, to slide your iPad into a desktop-sized arcade cabinet and rock it old school with some Pac-Man or Space Invaders? We’ll tell you now — it would be AWESOME!!

Google Street View Goes 3D






Today, Google added a fun new option to its Street View feature (available in Google Maps by dragging the little man icon from the upper left part of the screen anywhere on the map): 3D view. Luckily, I just happen to have a pair of 3D glasses lying nearby! The idea is amazing, but I have to admit all I got from it was a headache. Don’t be afraid to experiment with it, however — some areas work better than others.

Justin Bieber Buys Funny Or Die






What do you do when you’re a teenage popstar and a mainstay on Twitter’s trending topics? Buy comedy site Funny Or Die, rename it “Bieber or Die,” and proclaim that “anything that’s not Bieber, dies” in a video that shows the singer might actually be somewhat self-aware of the absurdity of his popularity. Funny or Die is taking the joke all the way though, completely redesigning its site for the prank.


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