Saturday, March 31, 2007

Theophile Alexandre Steinlen


Friday, March 30, 2007

On poetry, politics, and love

Those who know me are familiar with the fact that I have an ongoing love affair with all things Indian. My trip to India in 2004 really impacted me; The place really just blew me away. And so the other day I went to a screening in Berkeley of a new documentary called She Write about subversive women poets in Tamil Nadu. The film-makers were present after the film and a very interesting discussion ensued. I'm so glad I went. Anyway, one of the female poets interviewed in the documentary said something which spoke to me really profoundly which I wanted to share here: To paraphrase, "And I reached a dilemma in my life: Was I going to write Marxist poetry, or romantic poetry?" And just today, I watched a spoken word piece entitled "Fencing" by my new hero (or should I say "shero"?) named Kelly Tsai. In it, she said something very similar: that there are those who write poetry about politics and those who write poetry about love, but very rare are those who write about both at the same time. Such an important observation! Why can't we infuse our politics with love? Why is it that we impose this false division between the revolutionary and the romantic? Typical of this mindest is Bertolt Brecht when he writes: "You can't write poems about the trees when the woods are full of police men." Bah! There is always room to write about the trees; about beauty, nature, and love. And this needn't be mutually exclusive to politics. George Monbiot also exemplifies the mindset that cordons off the revolutionary from the romantic when he writes in the introduction to his book "Age of Consent: Manifesto for a New World Order" (published in 2004) something or other like the following: "If you are one of those people who believe that we should all just love one another more, and that this is the solution to the world's problems, then you are probably wasting your time reading this book". Monbiot champions what he calls the "Global Democratic Revolution" (which is an interesting idea in itself, since it rejects the traditional notion of the National Democratic Revolution, replacing it instead with the notion of post-nationalist revolution), but he sees no space for love in this struggle. Once I would have wholly agreed with him, but now I feel like 'Why the hell shouldn't we love one another'? Obviously, this isn't a solution in itself, but it's definitely not mutually exclusive to revolutionary struggle. In fact, it should be an inextricable part of it. If you need any more convincing about the real effects of this false division between romanticism and revolutionism then you only need look at social movements anywhere in the world to see the ubiquitous divisions between lifestylists and activists (or between hippies and socialists). The former emphasise living ethical lifestyles within the current system and nurturing one another. The latter, in contrast, emphasise a complete overthrow of the system. To these people, love and all that fluffy stuff can wait till after the revolution. But why do these approaches need to be segregated from one another? On the one hand, surely revolutionaries can show more love to each other, nurture one another more, and live more ethical lifestyles in line with the future they wish to create. But on the other hand, surely lifestylists and hippies can attain a more politicised understanding of the structures of domination and see that simply loving one another and living ethically, while definitely important, aren't in and of themselves enough. Surely we need to retain both approaches and learn to meld them into one complete and total struggle. I believe this is part of what Foucault and Hardt/Negri were on about when they wrote of "biopolitics". By way of another example of the inadequacy of a soulless revolutionary approach, a good friend of mine was once complaining to a socialist about the rough time he'd had within Resistance - a socialist youth organisation in Australia. He had been having issues with depression and the like, and lamented the fact that nobody in Resistance supported him through his struggles. At that point, the fucking soulless dogmatic socialist he was confiding in said "Jesus fucking Christ, Resistance is a political party, not a fucking support group". Well, to me, that's just fucked up. There's no reason activists should not nurture one another. In fact, I would say that it is imperative for us to do so; especially given the daily bullshit we face in capitalist society. We need to reclaim the spirit of MUTUAL AID (or what the Filipinos call "Bayanihan"), which was once central to revolutionary struggles - for example, during the Great Depression - but has since been lost to subsequent generations. The reason both "She Write" and "Fencing" spoke to me so deeply (and have sparked off all these connections) was that this issue of politics and love is one I have been struggling with for a long time. I am a hardcore revolutionary, but I am also a romantic. One would think that they wouldn't be so hard to reconcile, but for some reason they are. I've been trying to figure this out for a long time, and I think I'm finally beginning to make progress. What has really facilitated this has been eschewing scientific approaches to revolution in favour of aesthetic ones (I owe this to the amazing latter works of Felix Guattari). You know, in the past, the revolutionary in me has looked at the world and seen only poverty, injustice, exploitation, misery, war, and oppression. And so naturally I am compelled to want to overthrow the capitalist system and institute something kinder in its place. On the other hand (and this is the crux of the dilemma), the romantic in me looks at the world and sees only beauty: the beauty of nature, of the human spirit, of the interconnectedness of all things, of art, of little things. And so this side of me wants to preserve and augment what is beautiful in the world. How then to merge the revolutionary spirit with the romantic spirit? I would contend that this is the key task of grassroots social movements today. I think this was the spirit behind the name of the radical group Love and Rage which is unfortunately now defunct. Furthermore, the autonomist philosophers Giorgio Agamben and Michael Hardt are working at the moment on developing LOVE as a political concept. I can't wait until their works on this topic are released! I think they're due out in a few years time. I will intervene here with two quotes related to all of the above: 1) "At the risk of sounding ridiculous, I would contend that the revolutionary is guided by great feelings of love" - Che Guevara 2) "Is it necessarily politically reprehensible, while we are groaning under the shackles of the capitalist system, to point out that life is frequently worth living because of a blackbird's song, a yellow elm tree in October, or some other natural phenomenon which does not cost money and does not have what the editors of the left-wing papers call a class-angle?" - George Orwell Ooh yeah. That's what I'm talking about. Is anybody feeling me?


WorldMapper.org

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This website contains a large collection of maps (and associated information) that we are in the process of generating. Each map relates to a particular subject. Click on the 'Thumbnail Index' which gives thumbnail previews of the maps, 'Map Categories' which is classified to see the choice, or a new option 'A-Z Map Index', and view a map and associated information. There is also a Site Map and Help page.

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Thursday, March 29, 2007

Are We Politicians or Citizens?, by Howard Zinn

As I write this, Congress is debating timetables for withdrawal from Iraq. In response to the Bush Administration’s “surge” of troops, and the Republicans’ refusal to limit our occupation, the Democrats are behaving with their customary timidity, proposing withdrawal, but only after a year, or eighteen months. And it seems they expect the anti-war movement to support them.

That was suggested in a recent message from MoveOn, which polled its members on the Democrat proposal, saying that progressives in Congress, “like many of us, don’t think the bill goes far enough, but see it as the first concrete step to ending the war.”

Ironically, and shockingly, the same bill appropriates $124 billion in more funds to carry the war. It’s as if, before the Civil War, abolitionists agreed to postpone the emancipation of the slaves for a year, or two years, or five years, and coupled this with an appropriation of funds to enforce the Fugitive Slave Act.

When a social movement adopts the compromises of legislators, it has forgotten its role, which is to push and challenge the politicians, not to fall in meekly behind them.

We who protest the war are not politicians. We are citizens. Whatever politicians may do, let them first feel the full force of citizens who speak for what is right, not for what is winnable, in a shamefully timorous Congress.

We who protest the war are not politicians. We are citizens. Whatever politicians may do, let them first feel the full force of citizens who speak for what is right, not for what is winnable, in a shamefully timorous Congress.

Timetables for withdrawal are not only morally reprehensible in the case of a brutal occupation (would you give a thug who invaded your house, smashed everything in sight, and terrorized your children a timetable for withdrawal?) but logically nonsensical. If our troops are preventing civil war, helping people, controlling violence, then why withdraw at all? If they are in fact doing the opposite—provoking civil war, hurting people, perpetuating violence—they should withdraw as quickly as ships and planes can carry them home.

It is four years since the United States invaded Iraq with a ferocious bombardment, with “shock and awe.” That is enough time to decide if the presence of our troops is making the lives of the Iraqis better or worse. The evidence is overwhelming. Since the invasion, hundreds of thousands of Iraqis have died, and, according to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, about two million Iraqis have left the country, and an almost equal number are internal refugees, forced out of their homes, seeking shelter elsewhere in the country.

Yes, Saddam Hussein was a brutal tyrant. But his capture and death have not made the lives of Iraqis better, as the U.S. occupation has created chaos: no clean water, rising rates of hunger, 50 percent unemployment, shortages of food, electricity, and fuel, a rise in child malnutrition and infant deaths. Has the U.S. presence diminished violence? On the contrary, by January 2007 the number of insurgent attacks has increased dramatically to 180 a day.

The response of the Bush Administration to four years of failure is to send more troops. To add more troops matches the definition of fanaticism: If you find you’re going in the wrong direction, redouble your speed. It reminds me of the physician in Europe in the early nineteenth century who decided that bloodletting would cure pneumonia. When that didn’t work, he concluded that not enough blood had been let.

The Congressional Democrats’ proposal is to give more funds to the war, and to set a timetable that will let the bloodletting go on for another year or more. It is necessary, they say, to compromise, and some anti-war people have been willing to go along. However, it is one thing to compromise when you are immediately given part of what you are demanding, if that can then be a springboard for getting more in the future. That is the situation described in the recent movie The Wind That Shakes The Barley, in which the Irish rebels against British rule are given a compromise solution—to have part of Ireland free, as the Irish Free State. In the movie, Irish brother fights against brother over whether to accept this compromise. But at least the acceptance of that compromise, however short of justice, created the Irish Free State. The withdrawal timetable proposed by the Democrats gets nothing tangible, only a promise, and leaves the fulfillment of that promise in the hands of the Bush Administration.

There have been similar dilemmas for the labor movement. Indeed, it is a common occurrence that unions, fighting for a new contract, must decide if they will accept an offer that gives them only part of what they have demanded. It’s always a difficult decision, but in almost all cases, whether the compromise can be considered a victory or a defeat, the workers have been given some thing palpable, improving their condition to some degree. If they were offered only a promise of something in the future, while continuing an unbearable situation in the present, it would not be considered a compromise, but a sellout. A union leader who said, “Take this, it’s the best we can get” (which is what the MoveOn people are saying about the Democrats’ resolution) would be hooted off the platform.

I am reminded of the situation at the 1964 Democratic National Convention in Atlantic City, when the black delegation from Mississippi asked to be seated, to represent the 40 percent black population of that state. They were offered a “compromise”—two nonvoting seats. “This is the best we can get,” some black leaders said. The Mississippians, led by Fannie Lou Hamer and Bob Moses, turned it down, and thus held on to their fighting spirit, which later brought them what they had asked for. That mantra—“the best we can get”—is a recipe for corruption.

It is not easy, in the corrupting atmosphere of Washington, D.C., to hold on firmly to the truth, to resist the temptation of capitulation that presents itself as compromise. A few manage to do so. I think of Barbara Lee, the one person in the House of Representatives who, in the hysterical atmosphere of the days following 9/11, voted against the resolution authorizing Bush to invade Afghanistan. Today, she is one of the few who refuse to fund the Iraq War, insist on a prompt end to the war, reject the dishonesty of a false compromise.

Except for the rare few, like Barbara Lee, Maxine Waters, Lynn Woolsey, and John Lewis, our representatives are politicians, and will surrender their integrity, claiming to be “realistic.”

We are not politicians, but citizens. We have no office to hold on to, only our consciences, which insist on telling the truth. That, history suggests, is the most realistic thing a citizen can do.

Howard Zinn is the author, most recently, of “A Power Governments Cannot Suppress.”


The Illusion is Shattered...the centre cannot hold....Impeach

[Thanks to # on mrr for this link] by buhdydharma

Slouching towards Bethlehem W.B Yeats

Turning and turning in the widening gyre The falcon cannot hear the falconer; Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold; Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world, The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere The ceremony of innocence is drowned; The best lack all conviction, while the worst Are full of passionate intensity. Surely some revelation is at hand; Surely the Second Coming is at hand. The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out When a vast image out of Spritus Mundi Troubles my sight: somewhere in the sands of the desert.

A shape with lion body and the head of a man, A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun, Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it Reel shadows of the indignant desert birds. The darkness drops again; but now I know That twenty centuries of stony sleep were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle, And what rough beast, its hour come round at last, Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?

*

It has always been an illusion. The toughness, the gravitas, the competency, the possession of any measure of ability. It has always been a sham, a PR creation, a puppet show....a joke. Some of us saw it coming, some of us saw it quickly, some had rude awakenings, some are being fooled still. But for the world, for those with eyes, the bloom is off the rose, and the rose colored glasses can no longer block the glare of a horrifying reality. The world has been conned. Deceived and hoodwinked by the marginally rational ravings of an antiquated and failed ideology and its dimwitted and addled practitioners. Installed by court fiat in a desperate attempt to fulfill a myth that has and never held true currency and has proven bankrupt and disastrous at every implementation attempted. Imperial conservatism has always failed, no matter how bright the bunting. The Serious People in the world are waking up to what has no doubt been a long nagging nightmare. Something they feared all along but could not admit to in their waking hours. They knew it was possible but too much was at stake to acknowledge the awfulness of possibility involved. Denial was the watchword. Rationalization, self-interest and hubris the currency of commerce with an irrestible imposed power. Now even the co-conspirators are turning. The world is being held hostage by the unwonted aggression of an incompetent, delusional thug. Denial is no longer available. In effect and by affect the result is nothing less than a true insanity of ideology, a method of internal, delusional, misplaced self-confidence just credible enough to be applied to wreak havoc and chaos in ever widening ripples that have now consumed the entire planet in one of its pernicious forms or another. And now the planet is swiftly and completely realizing that the madness is real and will continue and indeed, consume all if it is not stopped. They are stepping up to stop it. They are saying... no more madness. A complicit Congress and a craven press conspired to keep the world in distraction and ignorance for much too long. But now, as the consequences are revealed in Iraq much too painfully and clearly, and the abuse of power and petty politicization are revealed through oversight (Bless you St. Waxman!) it comes apparent....the centre cannot hold. There is no there there. There never was. The whole ball of wax is hollow and void.....indeed is revealed to be filled with a rotting stench now it has been punctured. The stench and smell increases and it grows more foul and toxic with every passing month of death in the desert, with every daily revelation of crime or treason or outrage now revealed by the investigators. The centre cannot hold under the hot desert sun and the cold light of oversight. The die is cast, the bell is tolling and the moment of reckoning is near at hand. But the madman will not stop of his own accord. Never. By his very definition, the madman cannot stop himself, lest his worldview, his persona, his illusion be shattered. He cannot stop himself from the destruction that his whirlwind reaps. He madness must be restrained by others, must be stopped by those sane ones left. You know it, I know it, the whole world knows it. Most importantly, the Saudis and the Jordanians and the UAE and the Iranians know it. He threatens and blusters and rattles at yet another "innocent" nation, another, weaker target for his compensatory aggression. And now his former allies find him no longer a useful bulldog, but realize finally that he threatens their children too. And that he will not stop, that he cannot stop, lest his enemy.....reality.....catch up. And he is left naked.....and alone.....and desperate. But the whole world cannot stay him from his course! THEY cannot stop him from firing the horrible apocalyptic weapons of his mad and apocalyptic vision. He possesses the most terrible weapons ever created by mankind....he cannot be conquered from without. There is but one entity, one force, one method for his ending. Impeachment.....by his own people. THE People. Us. While we still can. We owe a debt to the world. We owe a debt of redemption to our national ideal. You can fool some of the people all of the time, and all of the people some of the time, but you can not fool all of the people all of the time. Abraham Lincoln They are no longer fooling most of the people. They are weak, but they are entrenched and will fight to the death....and take as many others down with them as they are able, regardless of the cost. While the damage they have done to the world, the damage they have done to our Constitution and government and way of life continues unabated. Their deeds, ideology, their methods and corruption, their politicization and memes of separation, of divide and conquer.....their Republicanism....MUST be repudiated by the strongest possible terms and methods possible. To stop the damage, to stop the polarization, to stop the zeitgeist of facisistic thought and the methodology of thuggish interrelation they have created and perpetrated upon the world. The entire fabric and substance of their nefarious ideology and creation must be Impeached (definition 4 &5)....before our country and our world can right the wrongs and come together to repair the grievous damage, to create a new united, cooperative model of existence for our world. A new model that is imminently necessary with the looming and undeniable challenges our planet faces. He will not listen to Congress, he will not listen to his allies, he will not listen to reason. 586 more days of escalating madness lay before us in the hot desert sun. How long before the intervention? How much longer do we bide? How much more atrocity and torture do we allow in our names? How much more madness? How many more dead?

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Spring, Here


Tuesday, March 27, 2007

CDT Hails Landmark Internet Censorship Ruling

A federal court in Pennsylvania today struck down a controversial law that would have required Web site operators to restrict access to large amounts of constitutionally protected content. Ostensibly aimed at protecting kids from "harmful" material, the law would have led to severe restrictions on a wide range of legal, socially valuable speech, including content relating to sexual identity, health and art. Judge Lowell A. Reed found that parental empowerment tools like Internet filters represent a far more efficient, less restrictive way of protecting kids from unwanted content. CDT, which has filed friend-of-the-court briefs opposing COPA and supporting parental empowerment technology, applauds the ruling. March 22, 2007


Bad Case of ...

The act of invoking a form of wide spread Stockholm Syndrome is an ongoing and never ending task that governments undertake on a regular basis, either consciously or not, however during times of specific unrest or when major issues arise there is generally a marked increase in activity by the aggressors. This often includes the use of vague and confusing language or messages intended to induce a form of blind loyalty.

Democracy Now!

Over 240 Arrested Since "Occupation Watch" Launched to Call on Congress to End War Funding The Senate is preparing to vote this week on a spending bill that would give the President $100 billion more for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan but also establish a timeline for the withdrawal of troops from Iraq by next year. We speak with veteran peace activist Kathy Kelly On Capitol Hill, the Senate is preparing to vote this week on a spending bill that would give the President $100 billion more for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan but also establish a timeline for the withdrawal of troops from Iraq by next year. On Friday the House passed a similar bill by a margin of 218 to 212. A total of 14 Democrats voted against the bill including eight who oppose any more funding of the war. The eight anti-war Democrats were, Maxine Waters, Lynn Woolsey, Diane Watson and Barbara Lee, all of California, Dennis Kucinich of Ohio, John Lewis of Georgia, Mike McNulty of New York and Mike Michaud of Maine. Many anti-war activists were pushing Congress to reject all future funding of the war. Last month, the group Voices For Creative Nonviolence launched the Occupation Project. Activists around the country traveled to congressional offices and conducted sit-ins while calling on lawmakers to stop funding the war. Over 240 peace activists have been arrested since the Occupation Project began. Kathy Kelly - the co-coordinator of Voices for Creative Nonviolence - joins us here in New York. In 1997 Kathy Kelly founded Voices in the Wilderness which campaigned against the U.S. sanctions in Iraq. She has been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize three times. Her latest book is called "Other Lands Have Dreams: From Baghdad to Pekin Prison." * Kathy Kelly, co-coordinator of Voices for Creative Nonviolence. http://vcnv.org/ *** Report: U.S. Sponsoring Kurdish Guerilla Attacks Inside Iran audio

Anarchist's wake-up call

By Ralph R. Reiland - Monday, March 26, 2007 Emma Goldman, a young shopkeeper in 1892, was serving a customer in her ice cream parlor in Worcester, Mass., when she got the latest news about a labor strike in Pittsburgh. As she explains in her autobiography, "Living My Life": "One afternoon a customer came in for an ice cream while I was alone in the store. As I set the dish down before him, I caught the large headlines of his paper: 'LATEST DEVELOPMENTS IN HOMESTEAD -- FAMILIES OF STRIKERS EVICTED FROM THE COMPANY HOUSES -- WOMAN IN CONFINEMENT CARRIED OUT INTO STREET BY SHERIFFS.' I read over the man's shoulder Frick's dictum to the workers: He would rather see them dead than concede to their demands, and he threatened to import Pinkerton detectives. The brutal bluntness of the account, the inhumanity of Frick toward the evicted mother, inflamed my mind. Indignation swept my whole being. I heard the man at the table ask: 'Are you sick, young lady? Can I do anything for you?' 'Yes, you can let me have your paper,' I blurted out. 'You won't have to pay me for the ice cream. But I must ask you to leave. I must close the store.' The man looked at me as if I had gone crazy." Goldman closed her store that day, permanently. Standing in revolutionary solidarity with the working class against Henry Clay Frick, chairman of the Carnegie Steel Company, was more important than making sundaes. "It was Homestead, not Russia; I knew it now," wrote Goldman, a Lithuanian-born anarchist, seeing the battle in Pittsburgh as the spark that could ignite a worldwide firestorm of revolt against hierarchy and subjugation. The first task was to arouse the insufficiently radical masses by printing a manifesto and taking it to Pittsburgh, she explained, "a flaming call to the men of Homestead to throw off the yoke of capitalism, to use their present struggle as a steppingstone to the destruction of the wage system, and to continue toward social revolution and anarchism." Rather than negotiate a union contract, Frick ordered the construction of a solid board fence topped with barbed wire around the Homestead mill. Striking workers dubbed the fortified property "Fort Frick." "Not a strike, but a lockout," Frick announced. "It was," wrote Goldman, "an open declaration of war." On July 6, 1892, a 13-hour battle between strikers and 300 Pinkerton detectives, hired by Frick to protect the nonunion workers he planned to employ, left 10 dead and 65 wounded. "I will kill Frick," proclaimed Alexander Berkman, Goldman's lover and close associate, and, like Goldman, a Lithuanian-born anarchist. Gaining entry to Frick's office, Berkman shot Frick twice in the neck and stabbed him four times in the leg. Frick survived and Berkman was sentenced to 22 years in prison. "A blow aimed at Frick," theorized Goldman, would "strike terror in the enemy's ranks and make them realize that the proletariat of America had its avengers." Nearly three decades after the assassination attempt on Frick (and after being imprisoned three times -- for inciting a riot, distributing birth-control information and conspiring to obstruct the military draft), Goldman was deported to the Soviet Union, along with Berkman, in 1919. Greeted as heroes, Goldman and Berkman met all the leading figures of the Russian Revolution of 1917 -- Vladimir Lenin, Gregory Zinoviev, Alexandra Kollontai and Leon Trotsky. Lenin readily accepted Goldman's proposal that she and Berkman develop a group called "Russian Friends of American Liberty" to advance the rights of political prisoners in the United States. What Goldman witnessed firsthand in Russia from 1920 to 1921 was worse than Homestead. "I saw before me the Bolshevik State, formidable, crushing every constructive revolutionary effort, suppressing, debasing and disintegrating everything," she wrote in her book, "My Disillusionment In Russia," published in 1923. From close range, Goldman observed the slaughter of workers who went on strike in several Petrograd factories. "The 'conquest' of the city was characterized by ruthless savagery," a "bloodbath" of those classified as "counter-revolutionaries," she reported. "They had dared to raise their voice in protest against the new rulers of Russia." Goldman's conclusion, after witnessing the concentration camps, the destruction of trade unions, the persecution of independent thought, the rampant corruption raging throughout the Soviet government, the forced labor inflicted upon the masses: "The centralized political State was Lenin's deity, to which everything else was to be sacrificed." Ralph R. Reiland is an associate professor of economics at Robert Morris University and a local restaurateur. E-mail him at rrreiland@aol.com.

Some Miscellaneous Seth/Jane Roberts quotes

"Your body is your most intimate symbol at this point, and again your most obvious." * Seth Speaks Session 571, Page 257 * "Structured beliefs collect and hold your experience, packaging it, so to speak; and so when you look at a given experience that seems like another, you put it into the same structured package, often without examination." The Nature of Personal Reality Session 618, Page 49 * "Try to become more alert to your own stream of consciousness. Notice when you are giving yourself negative suggestions." The Early Sessions, Book 9 Session 502, Page 405 * "Free will as I mentioned earlier certainly does operate, but you must remember that while it does operate, personalities on your plane are extremely limited as to choice. They can only choose to operate within their own camouflage pattern framework." The Early Sessions, Book 1 Session 36, Page 284 * "The you that you consider yourself is never annihilated. Your consciousness is not snuffed out, nor is it swallowed, blissfully unaware of itself, in some nirvana. You are as much a part of nirvana now as you will ever be." The Nature of Personal Reality Session 637, Page 156

Paul Brunton's Notebooks

Contents
  1. Overview of the Quest
  2. Overview of Practicies Involved
  3. Relax and Retreat
  4. Elementary Meditation
  5. The Body
  6. Emotions and Ethics
  7. The Intellect
  8. The Ego
  9. From Birth to Rebirth
  10. Healing of the Self
  11. The Negatives
  12. Reflections
  13. Human Experience
  14. The Arts in Culture
  15. The Orient
  16. The Sensitives
  17. The Religious Urge
  18. The Reverential Life
  19. The Reign of Relativity
  20. What Is Philosophy?
  21. Mentalism
  22. Inspiration and the Overself
  23. Advanced Contemplation
  24. The Peace within You
  25. World-Mind in Individual Mind
  26. World-Idea
  27. World-Mind
  28. The Alone

Monday, March 26, 2007

Lover's Gifts LVIII: Things Throng and Laugh, by Sir Rabindranath Tagore

Things throng and laugh loud in the sky; the sands and dust dance and whirl like children. Man's mind is aroused by their shouts; his thoughts long to be the playmates of things. Our dreams, drifting in the stream of the vague, stretch their arms to clutch the earth, -their efforts stiffen into bricks and stones, and thus the city of man is built. Voices come swarming from the past,-seeking answers from the living moments. Beats of their wings fill the air with tremulous shadows, and sleepless thoughts in our minds leave their nests to take flight across the desert of dimness, in the passionate thirst for forms. They are lampless pilgrims, seeking the shore of light, to find themselves in things. They will be lured into poets's rhymes, they will be housed in the towers of the town not yet planned, they have their call to arms from the battle fields of the future, they are bidden to join hands in the strife of peace yet to come.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Martin Ramirez

Martin Ramirez, 1895-1963 Martin Ramirez's entire oeuvre was created in California institutions during the 1950s and 1960s, where he began making his drawings and collages from scavenged scraps of paper, held together with potato starch and spit. Marked by a reverberating and repetitive line, his drawings have the obsessive quality of Louise Bourgeois's contemporaneous drawings. Of the 300 plus extant works, the most recurring images are the horse and rider (lot 16) and trains (lots 12 and 13), potent symbols of the freedom and escape that were denied to him.

Military families protest Pelosi capitulation

oday, Military Families Speak Out, the largest organization of military families speaking out against a war in the history of the United States, issued a "Certificate of Ownership for the Iraq War" to Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and all who voted with the House Leadership to give President Bush the funding needed to continue the US military occupation of Iraq.

The certificate is headlined: "Certificate of Ownership — The War in Iraq: You Bought It, You Own It," and goes on to say: "In dubious recognition of your vote to continue funding the War in Iraq, we do hereby bestow upon you this Deed of Ownership." It is dated March 23, 2007, and signed by Military Families Speak Out, Iraq Veterans against the War and Veterans for Peace.

The back of the certificate reads:

Warranty: With your purchase of this war comes a guarantee of:

* The deaths of 3 US troops and countless Iraqi children, women and men every day; * Over 500 wounded US troops each month; * Increased suicides among returning Iraq War Veterans; * Increased destruction of marriages and families of Iraq War Veterans; * Inadequate medical and psychological care for returning troops and Veterans; * Depletion of the National Treasury; * Under-funding of health care, education, social services for people in the US; * Destruction of Iraqi infrastructure; * Decreased credibility for the United States in the world community; * Decreased readiness—short and long-term—of US military. 

"What we have just witnessed is a true failure of leadership," said Nancy Lessin, a co-founder of Military Families Speak Out, whose step-son served with the Marines in Iraq in spring, 2003. "People across this nation voted in November for an end to the war, not for Congress to provide President Bush with the funds to continue it. Our loved ones were first betrayed when they were sent off to fight a war based on lies. The US House of Representatives has betrayed them one again by abandoning them to this unjustifiable war." * http://sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2007/03/25/WAR.TMP Sean Penn, Rep. Lee rally against Iraq war Actor backs troops, not Bush, at Oakland town hall meeting by Carolyn Jones, Cecilia M. Vega Oscar-winning actor Sean Penn was the star attraction at a town hall meeting Saturday in Oakland, where hundreds of people gathered to denounce the war in Iraq and call for an immediate withdrawal of American troops. Neither Penn nor Rep. Barbara Lee, the Oakland Democrat who has opposed the war since before it began four years ago, offered much in the way of specifics for ending the conflict, and they were largely preaching to the choir. The enthusiastic and occasionally boisterous crowd of 800 or so crammed into the Grand Lake Theater wildly cheered as Penn excoriated President Bush. "You and your smarmy pundits -- and the smarmy pundits you have in your pocket -- can take your war and shove it," Penn said. "Let's unite not only in stopping this war, but in holding this administration accountable." The town hall meeting came six days after peace marches were held nationwide to mark the fourth anniversary of the U.S. invasion of Iraq and one day after the House of Representatives voted 218-212 to withdraw combat troops by Sept. 1, 2008. Penn reiterated a point often made by opponents of the war when he said he supports the troops but opposes the war. "Let's make this crystal clear: We do support our troops, but not the exploitation of them and their families," he said. "The money that's spent on this war would be better spent on building levees in New Orleans and health care in Africa and care for our veterans. Iraq is not our toilet. It's a country of human beings whose lives that were once oppressed by Saddam are now in 'Dante's Inferno.' " Lee was among the California Democrats who voted Friday against the $124 billion war spending measure that Bush has promised to veto. Lee is a member of the Out of Iraq Caucus, which includes Lynn Woolsey of Petaluma and Maxine Waters of Los Angeles. "We can't afford to spend one more dime or lose one more American or Iraqi life on this illegal and unwinnable war," Lee told the crowd. Outside the theater, protesters carried signs reading, "Impeach Bush." Among those who attended the rally were members of Grandmothers Against the War. After the meeting, everyone from grandmothers and students to veterans and mothers pushing strollers marched along Lake Merritt to Oakland City Hall for an afternoon rally at which Lee again spoke. As she took the microphone, the crowd chanted, "Barbara Lee told you so. Bush's war has got to go." "The only thing this government needs is for the people to be silent and then they can do whatever they want," said Joan MacIntyre, a 74-year-old great-grandmother from Oakland. MacIntyre, like many who attended Saturday's events, was no stranger to war protests. She has marched in numerous rallies since the Iraq war started in March 2003 and was arrested Monday during a San Francisco protest. It was her 41st arrest, she boasted proudly. "At least I can hold my head up and say that I tried," she said. At the rally, organized by a coalition of Oakland community groups, folk singers led the crowd in song and a performer rapped about violence in the streets. There were calls for impeachment of the president and for troops to be brought home and pleas for federal dollars to be spent on schools rather than on the war. Rodney Brown, 30, an Oakland substitute teacher, said he would have liked to see more people at the protest. While organizers said between 500 and 700 attended, many remarked that the crowd seemed significantly smaller. Police declined to provide a crowd count. "Money needs to be going to our schools and the communities here instead of funding for this war," Brown said. Hava Ratinsky, a native of Israel who now lives in Oakland, attended the protest with her 6-year-old son, Aviv. She wondered whether, after four years of protesting, people were just too tired of not seeing any change. "There's a war going on, and it's mind-boggling to me that people can continue to live their daily lives and not pay attention," she said. On Saturday evening, more than three dozen anti-war activists, all dressed in black and some beating hand-held drums, marched up to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's home in San Francisco's tony Pacific Heights neighborhood to chastise the Democratic leader for not doing more to halt the war immediately. "Nancy Pelosi, stop compromising your morals. We want our troops home now," said Toby Blome, a protest leader with the group Code Pink: Women for Peace. She hung a black "wreath of death," made of sticks and lace, on the front door. "We're bringing death to Nancy Pelosi's doorstep because she is going to be responsible for all the deaths still to come as a result of the illegal war in Iraq," said Blome, an El Cerrito resident who led the short march that organizers described as a funeral procession.


FORMER ARIZONA GOVERNOR ADMITS SEEING UFO

Fife Symington decides to set record straight ten years after famed "Phoenix Lights" incident CFi Press Release, March 18, 2007 Read full exclusive story by Leslie Kean (PDF File )

A video clip of the former Governor can be seen at: http://www.outofthebluethemovie.com/5YearAnniversary/5YAR.html

Symington's sighting was first revealed to California filmmaker James Fox in an August on-camera interview, to be included in the re-release of Fox’s 2003 UFO documentary “Out of the Blue,” co-produced with Tim Coleman and Boris Zubov and narrated by Peter Coyote. On camera, Fox played Symington a taped message from constituent and witness Stacey Roads who said the craft she saw was so massive that an opened newspaper would not block it out from view. “Is this still a matter of ridicule to him [Symington]? After he came out on TV making us all look a little foolish? Or has he taken a new stance on this?” she queried. His full response, first made public in Kean's story, will be featured in the 2007 release of "Out of the Blue."

For more information about "Out of the Blue," go to http://www.outofthebluethemovie.com/ * http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/europe/article1563805.ece ...

It says in the preamble: “The accumulation of well-document-ed observations compels us now to consider all hypotheses as to the origin of UFOs, especially extraterrestrial hypotheses.”

The report discusses 15 cases, including one in which British jet fighters were scrambled from RAF Lakenheath to investigate mysterious objects over East Anglia in 1956.

It says that hoaxes are easily detectable and calls the position of America “still one of denial”. It concludes: “The physical reality of UFOs, under control of intelligent beings, is almost certain.” ...

* “It was enormous and inexplicable. Who knows where it came from? A lot of people saw it, and I saw it too. It was dramatic. And it couldn’t have been flares because it was too symmetrical. It had a geometric outline, a constant shape.


Saturday, March 24, 2007

Billionaire Opens Mansions to Homeless

By AUDREY McAVOY (Associated Press Writer)
From Associated Press
March 23, 2007 3:24 AM EDT

HONOLULU - Dorie-Ann Kahale and her five daughters moved from a homeless shelter to a mansion Thursday, courtesy of a Japanese real estate mogul who is handing over eight of his multimillion-dollar homes to low-income Native Hawaiian families.

Tears spilled down Kahale's cheeks as she accepted from billionaire Genshiro Kawamoto the key to a white, columned house with a circular driveway, a stone staircase and a deep porcelain bathtub. Her family will live there rent-free, but must pay utility bills.

"I'm shocked. I'm overwhelmed," Kahale said. "From the little box we had to what we have today."

Kawamoto, whose own eyes started welling up as Kahale cried, handed over two other homes Thursday to homeless or low-income families.

Kawamoto, one of Japan's richest men, said he plans to open eight of his 22 Kahala homes to needy Hawaiian families. They will be able to stay in the homes for up to 10 years, he said. He also gave each family 10 $100 bills to help them move in.

Native Hawaiians are disproportionately represented among the state's homeless and working poor.

Kawamoto owns dozens of office buildings in Tokyo under the name Marugen and his been buying and selling real estate in Hawaii and California since the 1980s.

He has been criticized for evicting tenants of his rental homes on short notice so he could sell the properties, as in 2002 when he gave hundreds of California tenants 30 days to leave.

Two years later, he served eviction notices to tenants in 27 Oahu rental homes, mostly in pricey Hawaii Kai, saying they had to leave within a month. He said he wanted to sell the houses to take advantage of rising prices.

Kawamoto selected the eight low-income families from 3,000 people who wrote him letters last fall after he announced his plan. He has said he tried to pick working, single mothers.

Giving away mansions shows more dedication to helping Hawaii's homeless than just handing out wads of cash, he said. Asked whether he was concerned about losing money on the effort, he laughed and said: "This is pocket money for me."

Kahale's new house is worth nearly $5 million, an average price for the mansion-like dwellings on Kahala Avenue. It is one of the more modest homes in the neighborhood, many of which feature ornate iron gates, meandering driveways and sculptured gardens.

Kahale became homeless two years ago when her landlord raised her rent from $800 to $1,200, putting the apartment beyond reach of her salary as customer service representative for Pacific LightNet, a telecommunications company. She first stayed with relatives, then moved to a shelter in September.

"What we need to do is appreciate," Kahale said after getting the keys to her new house. "As fast as we got it, it could disappear."

Some neighbors are unhappy with Kawamoto's plan, speculating that he is trying to drive down real estate values so he can snap up even more homes.

"Everyone's paying homage to him, but in reality, he's the problem," said Mark Blackburn, who lives down the street from Kahale's new home. "Houses are homes. They're made to live in; they aren't investment vehicles."

He suggested that the Waianae Coast, a heavily Hawaiian community on the other side of Oahu that has been hit hard by homelessness, would have been a better place for Kawamoto to carry out his charity work.

Kawamoto countered that those in the Kahala neighborhood who don't want Hawaiians next door might want to leave the islands altogether.

"The people who don't want to live near Hawaiians should move," Kawamoto said.

Lyn Worley, 40, who got the key to another Kawamoto house, said she believes her neighbors will grow to love her family.

The elementary school clerk has been living in a house in Waianae with her five children and brother for the past four years. Their lease ran out - and then Kawamoto's offer came along.

"We prayed so hard and cried so much for God to drop something from the skies, and he did," Worley said. "And he did, he really, really did."


Friday, March 23, 2007

Which State Is The Safest?

"1" is Most Dangerous, "50" is Safest

The 2007 Most Dangerous State

ALPHA ORDER

RANK ORDER

2007 RANK

STATE

SUM

2006 RANK

CHANGE

2007 RANK

STATE

SUM

2006 RANK

CHANGE

17

Alabama

6.78

18

-1

1

Nevada

58.11

1

0

7

Alaska

23.05

9

-2

2

New Mexico

34.85

3

-1

3

Arizona

34.66

4

-1

3

Arizona

34.66

4

-1

13

Arkansas

10.79

15

-2

4

Maryland

34.50

5

-1

9

California

17.63

10

-1

5

Tennessee

31.79

8

-3

22

Colorado

(1.53)

22

0

6

South Carolina

31.50

6

0

40

Connecticut

(37.64)

39

1

7

Alaska

23.05

9

-2

18

Delaware

6.38

24

-6

8

Florida

21.06

7

1

8

Florida

21.06

7

1

9

California

17.63

10

-1

20

Georgia

5.30

13

7

10

Louisiana

17.55

2

8

28

Hawaii

(16.17)

26

2

11

Michigan

16.55

12

-1

39

Idaho

(37.21)

40

-1

12

Texas

13.85

11

1

21

Illinois

2.27

19

2

13

Arkansas

10.79

15

-2

25

Indiana

(14.44)

28

-3

14

Washington

9.37

16

-2

43

Iowa

(42.78)

43

0

15

Oklahoma

8.44

14

1

27

Kansas

(15.64)

25

2

16

North Carolina

8.33

17

-1

34

Kentucky

(27.00)

33

1

17

Alabama

6.78

18

-1

10

Louisiana

17.55

2

8

18

Delaware

6.38

24

-6

48

Maine

(61.37)

49

-1

19

Missouri

5.59

20

-1

4

Maryland

34.50

5

-1

20

Georgia

5.30

13

7

30

Massachusetts

(21.77)

30

0

21

Illinois

2.27

19

2

11

Michigan

16.55

12

-1

22

Colorado

(1.53)

22

0

32

Minnesota

(25.93)

35

-3

23

Ohio

(1.92)

23

0

24

Mississippi

(7.95)

21

3

24

Mississippi

(7.95)

21

3

19

Missouri

5.59

20

-1

25

Indiana

(14.44)

28

-3

44

Montana

(44.74)

42

2

26

Pennsylvania

(15.06)

29

-3

37

Nebraska

(32.39)

34

3

27

Kansas

(15.64)

25

2

1

Nevada

58.11

1

0

28

Hawaii

(16.17)

26

2

47

New Hampshire

(60.85)

47

0

29

Oregon

(18.13)

27

2

33

New Jersey

(26.94)

32

1

30

Massachusetts

(21.77)

30

0

2

New Mexico

34.85

3

-1

31

New York

(25.76)

31

0

31

New York

(25.76)

31

0

32

Minnesota

(25.93)

35

-3

16

North Carolina

8.33

17

-1

33

New Jersey

(26.94)

32

1

50

North Dakota

(65.58)

50

0

34

Kentucky

(27.00)

33

1

23

Ohio

(1.92)

23

0

35

Rhode Island

(30.22)

38

-3

15

Oklahoma

8.44

14

1

36

Virginia

(31.85)

37

-1

29

Oregon

(18.13)

27

2

37

Nebraska

(32.39)

34

3

26

Pennsylvania

(15.06)

29

-3

38

Utah

(32.43)

36

2

35

Rhode Island

(30.22)

38

-3

39

Idaho

(37.21)

40

-1

6

South Carolina

31.50

6

0

40

Connecticut

(37.64)

39

1

45

South Dakota

(48.43)

45

0

41

West Virginia

(37.87)

41

0

5

Tennessee

31.79

8

-3

42

Wisconsin

(42.11)

44

-2

12

Texas

13.85

11

1

43

Iowa

(42.78)

43

0

38

Utah

(32.43)

36

2

44

Montana

(44.74)

42

2

49

Vermont

(62.33)

48

1

45

South Dakota

(48.43)

45

0

36

Virginia

(31.85)

37

-1

46

Wyoming

(50.03)

46

0

14

Washington

9.37

16

-2

47

New Hampshire

(60.85)

47

0

41

West Virginia

(37.87)

41

0

48

Maine

(61.37)

49

-1

42

Wisconsin

(42.11)

44

-2

49

Vermont

(62.33)

48

1

46

Wyoming

(50.03)

46

0

50

North Dakota

(65.58)

50

0

METHODOLOGY: The Most Dangerous State 2007 rankings are determined by a four step process. First, rates for six crime categories — murder, rape, robbery, aggravated assault, burglary and motor vehicle theft — are plugged into a formula that measures how a state compares to the national average for a given crime category.

Second, the outcome of this equation is then multiplied by a weight assigned to each crime category. For this year’s award, we again gave each crime category equal weight. Thus state comparisons are based purely on crime rates and how these rates stack up to the national average for a given crime category.

Third, the weighted numbers are added together to achieve state’s score ("SUM.") In the fourth and final step, these composite scores are ranked from highest to lowest to determine which states are the most dangerous and safest. Thus the farther below the national average a state’s crime rate is, the lower (and safer) it ranks. The farther above the national average, the higher (and more dangerous) a state ranks in the final list.

A Word About Crime Rankings

Morgan Quitno’s annual rankings of crime in states, metro areas and cities are considered by some in the law enforcement community as controversial. The FBI and many criminologists caution against rankings according to crime rates. They correctly point out that crime levels are affected by many different factors, such as population density, composition of the population (particularly the concentration of youth), climate, economic conditions, strength of local law enforcement agencies, citizen’s attitudes toward crime, cultural factors, education levels, crime reporting practices of citizens and family cohesiveness. Accordingly, crime rankings often are deemed “simplistic” or “incomplete.”

However, this criticism is largely based on the fact that there are reasons for the differences in crime rates, not that the rates are incompatible. This would be somewhat akin to deciding not to compare athletes on their speed in the 100-yard dash because of physical or training differences. Such differences help explain the different speeds but do not invalidate the comparisons.

To be sure, crime-ranking information must be considered carefully. However the rankings tell not only an interesting, but also very important story regarding the incidence of crime in the United States. Furthermore, annual rankings not only allow for comparisons among different states and cities, but also enable leaders to track their communities’ crime trends from one year to the next.

We certainly do not want to be irresponsible in our presentation of state and city crime data. Our publications help concerned Americans learn how their communities fare in the fight against crime. The first step in making our cities and states safer is to understand the true magnitude of their crime problems. This will only be achieved through straightforward data that all of us can use and understand.

THE EDITORS


Consciousness as the Basis for All Experience

Consciousness Peter Russel talks about the role of consciousness in experience, from the perspective of the modern scientific understanding of quantum physics. He offers an abundance of interesting material on the topic at http://www.peterussell.com/

_


Bush’s wars could cost in

WASHINGTON The cost of the wars waged by the government of U.S. President George W. Bush could total over $1 trillion by the end of his mandate, according to a study released by the Center for Defense Information. Bush’s wars could cost in excess of $1 trillionThe report says that by early 2009, spending for the military aggression carried out by the White House will total $980 billion to $1.4 trillion, Prensa Latina reported. The wars against Iraq and Afghanistan have cost U.S. taxpayers more than $500 billion. According to the study, carried out by the U.S. Congressional Research Service, without including the gigantic annual budgets of the Pentagon, from late 2001 to September 2006, Congress has allocated $510 billion for its wars. The report specifies that the invasion and occupation of Iraq cost $378 billion, and the military operations in Afghanistan cost $99 billion. For fiscal year 2007, which began on October 1, Congress approved $70 billion in spending; however, the president has requested an additional $94 billion, which would take the total war spending to $164 billion. Translated by Granma International

Thursday, March 22, 2007

March, by William Carlos Williams

I Winter is long in this climate and spring--a matter of a few days only,--a flower or two picked from mud or from among wet leaves or at best against treacherous bitterness of wind, and sky shining teasingly, then closing in black and sudden, with fierce jaws. II March, you reminded me of the pyramids, our pyramids-- stript of the polished stone that used to guard them! March, you are like Fra Angelico at Fiesole, painting on plaster! March, you are like a band of young poets that have not learned the blessedness of warmth (or have forgotten it). At any rate-- I am moved to write poetry for the warmth there is in it and for the loneliness-- a poem that shall have you in it March. III See! Ashur-ban-i-pal, the archer king, on horse-back, in blue and yellow enamel! with drawn bow--facing lions standing on their hind legs, fangs bared! his shafts bristling in their necks! Sacred bulls--dragons in embossed brickwork marching--in four tiers-- along the sacred way to Nebuchadnezzar's throne hall! They shine in the sun, they that have been marching-- marching under the dust of ten thousand dirt years. Now-- they are coming into bloom again! See them! marching still, bared by the storms from my calender --winds that blow back the sand! winds that enfilade dirt! winds that by strange craft have whipt up a black army that by pick and shovel bare a procession to the god, Marduk! Natives cursing and digging for pay unearth dragons with upright tails and sacred bulls alternately-- in four tiers-- lining the way to an old altar! Natives digging at old walls-- digging me warmth--digging me sweet loneliness high enamelled walls. IV My second spring-- passed in a monastery with plaster walls--in Fiesole on the hill above 'Florence. My second spring--painted a virgin--in a blue aureole sitting on a three-legged stool, arms crossed-- she is intently serious, and still watching an angel with colored wings half kneeling before her-- and smiling--the angel's eyes holding the eyes of Mary as a snake's hold a bird's. On the ground there are flowers, trees are in leaf. V But! now for the battle! Now for murder--now for the real thing! My third springtime is approaching! Winds! lean, serious as a virgin, seeking, seeking the flowers of March. Seeking flowers nowhere to be found, they twine among the bare branches in insatiable eagerness-- they whirl up the snow seeking under it-- they--the winds--snakelike roar among yellow reeds seeking flowers--flowers. I spring among them seeking one flower in which to warm myself! I deride with all the ridicule of misery-- my own starved misery. Counter-cutting winds strike against me refreshing their fury! Come, good, cold fellows! Have we no flowers? Defy then with even more desperation than ever--being lean and frozen! But though you are lean and frozen-- think of the blue bulls of Babylon. Fling yourselves upon their empty roses-- cut savagely! But-- think of the painted monastery at Fiesole.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Delusion Destroys Democracy, by Joel S Hirschhhorn

... Here are the main states of American delusion:
Millions of Americans persist in believing, contrary to all historical evidence, that changing control of Congress and the Executive Branch between Democrats and Republicans produces sorely needed reforms. But mainstream politicians are serial betrayers. Thus, people suffer from delusional political faith.
Millions of non-wealthy Americans believe that the economy works for them. This persists despite reams of facts that show how working- and middle-class people are not receiving their fair share of national income and wealth. They keep running on a debt treadmill that will not take them to the proverbial American dream. What they get is economic insecurity, inequality and injustice. Consumer confidence is an oxymoron. This is delusional prosperity.
Viral delusional thinking is that America sets the gold standard for democracies. The rest of the world, however, to its credit sees an arrogant nation with a government that uses its military strength foolishly and sees its policies rewarding the rich at the expense of all others. People from Finland to New Zealand question why Americans do not receive universal health care, why its workers are sacrificed for global trade and corporate powers, why millions of its citizens go hungry and homeless, why so few people bother to vote, why so many politicians are convicted of crimes, and why there are more people in prisons than in all other countries combined. Yet Americans by and large keep thinking that their constitutional republic gives them first class democracy. This is delusional patriotism.
So, what are we to do? Keep expressing dissent by marching and protesting in the streets? Keep signing petitions on the Internet? Keep demanding impeachment of Bush? Keep reading and writing angry diatribes on progressive websites? Keep voting for mainstream politicians from the two major parties, hoping for a political messiah? Keep obeying Bush by borrowing, spending, shopping and consuming to keep our debt-ridden nation afloat?
Such activities release anger, but are largely placebo self-medications, unlikely to provide the permanent solutions our nation needs. Protests serve more as entertainment for the nation than a force to tear down the rotten system. Scale is a problem. Maybe if one million angry Americans sat down peacefully in the streets all around the White House, defying police action for many days, just maybe the system would crack. Protests must have a revolutionary character. They must induce fear into the hearts of smug and delusional power elites - like Dick Cheney.
The real needs are structural reforms that combat the major societal delusions that are driving America downhill. We must attack the root causes of problems rather than provide temporary relief or cover-up of symptoms.
Delusional political faith and delusional prosperity require profound reforms in our political system. A new competitive political party is needed. One that is guided by a set of principles that both mainstream Democrats and Republicans can not opportunistically accept, because the principles clearly conflict with their rotten behavior. A recent New America Foundation survey of Californians found that “seven in 10 voters say they often feel they must choose the lesser of two evils; more than half the voters say California needs another major political party.”
Delusional patriotism is tougher to remedy. To revitalize American democracy we must have a national dialogue. Heed the words of the great John Marshall: “The people made the constitution, and the people can unmake it. It is the creature of their will, and lives only by their will.” And James Madison: “the people have an indubitable, unalienable, and indefeasible right to reform or change their Government, whenever it be found adverse or inadequate to the purposes of its institution.” Thomas Jefferson believed that the constitution-drafting process should be repeated by each generation of Americans. That’s what real freedom is all about. A great democracy must be much more than stable - it must be self-correcting.
When a political system no longer deserves trust, citizens must trust themselves. Considering how doggedly our unrepresentative democracy stays under the grip of moneyed special interests and fails large fractions of Americans, more direct democracy aimed squarely at major reforms is desperately needed. That requires a lot more than protesting and ranting. Some urge citizens’ assemblies (see http://www.cusdi.org/ and http://www.healthydemocracy.org/), or national initiative elections (see https:/votep2.us). I and others believe that we have a constitutional right to Article V Conventions (see http://www.foavc.org). However, elitist status quo forces have made the population afraid of such activities - a sick delusional, status quo bias belief. If it persists, Americans will not set themselves free of the oppressive forces that have hijacked their nation. They will keep venting their anger as dissenters or stay distractive consumers rather than work to return power to the people.
Let’s not delude ourselves that all will be well after Bush is gone. As awful as Bush is, he is a symptom of what ails our nation. Our nation will remain in need of deep reforms. Millions of dissidents must wake up to what is really needed and rally around a revolutionary strategy.
[Check out the author’s solutions for fixing the nation at www.delusionaldemocracy.com; for information on the Article V Convention concept contact him at articlevATgmailDOTcom.]
A number of electoral reforms are necessary to rescue American democracy: 1. Expand the use of Clean Money, Clean Election programs. 2. Provide a None of the Above option on ballots. 3. Permit fusion candidates to promote third-party candidates. 4. Reform the Electoral College or its use by states. 5. Provide Instant Runoff Voting. 6. Pass the “Our Democracy, Our Airwaves” federal law. 7. For primary elections, support an open or crossover primary that favors third-parties. 8. Make voting compulsory after other reforms * http://www.foavc.org/index.htm [oddly, link from dada yesterday]

Friends of the Article V Convention http://www.foavc.org/index.htm President Dwight D. Eisenhower also supported an Article V Convention saying: "Through their state legislatures and without regard to the federal government, the people can demand a convention to propose amendments that can and will reverse any trends they see as fatal to true representative government." Yet fears remain and the myths persist. The antidote for any fear is knowledge, and education is the reason why FOAVC exists. Our goal is to inform all citizens about the convention clause in the Constitution and to provide an electronic town hall where the people can discuss the various issues pertaining to a convention in a calm and rational manner. Our ultimate objective is to generate the 'critical mass' necessary to convene an Article V convention. We invite you, all patriots and concerned Americans, to carefully review the articles, documents and discussion presented in these pages. If upon careful consideration you conclude, as we have, that an Article V Convention is necessary to preserve the Constitutional Republic - and to prevent Congress from vetoing the will of the people - we invite you to join FOAVC.

March 20, 2007 4:57 PM


New research opens a window on the minds of plants

by Patrik Jonsson Hardly articulate, the tiny strangleweed, a pale parasitic plant, can sense the presence of friends, foes, and food, and make adroit decisions on how to approach them.

Mustard weed, a common plant with a six-week life cycle, can't find its way in the world if its root-tip statolith - a starchy "brain" that communicates with the rest of the plant - is cut off.

The ground-hugging mayapple plans its growth two years into the future, based on computations of weather patterns. And many who visit the redwoods of the Northwest come away awed by the trees' survival for millenniums - a journey that, for some trees, precedes the Parthenon.

As trowel-wielding scientists dig up a trove of new findings, even those skeptical of the evolving paradigm of "plant intelligence" acknowledge that, down to the simplest magnolia or fern, flora have the smarts of the forest. Some scientists say they carefully consider their environment, speculate on the future, conquer territory and enemies, and are often capable of forethought - revelations that could affect everyone from gardeners to philosophers.

Indeed, extraordinary new findings on how plants investigate and respond to their environments are part of a sprouting debate over the nature of intelligence itself.

"The attitude of people is changing quite substantially," says Anthony Trewavas, a plant

biochemist at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland and a prominent scholar of plant intelligence. "The idea of intelligence is going from the very narrow view that it's just human to something that's much more generally found in life."

To be sure, there are no signs of Socratic logic or Shakespearean thought, and the subject of plant "brains" has sparked heated exchanges at botany conferences. Plants, skeptics scoff, surely don't fall in love, bake soufflés, or ponder poetry. And can a simple reaction to one's environment truly qualify as active, intentional reasoning?

But the late Nobel Prize-winning plant geneticist Barbara McClintock called plant cells "thoughtful." Darwin wrote about root-tip "brains." Not only can plants communicate with each other and with insects by coded gas exhalations, scientists say now, they can perform Euclidean geometry calculations through cellular computations and, like a peeved boss, remember the tiniest transgression for months.

To a growing number of biologists, the fact that plants are now known to challenge and exert power over other species is proof of a basic intellect.

"If intelligence is the capacity to acquire and apply knowledge, then, absolutely, plants are intelligent," agrees Leslie Sieburth, a biologist at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City.

For philosophers, one of the key findings is that two cuttings, or clones, taken from the same "mother plant" behave differently even when planted in identical conditions.

"We now know there's an ability of self-recognition in plants, which is highly unusual and quite extraordinary that it's actually there," says Dr. Trewavas. "But why has no one come to grips with it? Because the prevailing view of a plant, even among plant biologists, is that it's a simple organism that grows reproducibly in a flower pot."

But here at the labs on the North Carolina State campus, where fluorescent grow-rooms hold genetic secrets and laser microscopes parse the inner workings of live plants, there is still skepticism about the ability of ordinary houseplants to intellectualize their environment.

Most plant biologists are still looking at the mysteries of "signal transduction," or how genetic, chemical, and hormonal orders are dispersed for complex plant behavior. But skeptics say it's less a product of intelligence than mechanical directives, more genetic than genius. Some see the attribution of intelligence to plants as relative - an oversimplification of a complex human trait.

And despite intensifying research, exactly how a plant's complex orders are formulated and carried out remains draped in leafy mystery.

"There is still much that we do not know about how plants work, but a big part of intelligence is self-consciousness, and plants do not have that," says Heike Winter Sederoff, a plant biologist at N.C. State.

Still, a new NASA grant awarded to the university to study gravitational effects on crop plants came in part due to new findings that plants have neurotransmitters very similar to humans' - capable, perhaps, of offering clues on how gravity affects more sentient beings. The National Science Foundation has awarded a $5 million research grant to pinpoint the molecular clockwork by which plants know when to grow and when to flower.

The new field of plant neurobiology holds its first conference - The First Symposium on Plant Neurobiology - in May in Florence, Italy.

The debate is rapidly moving past the theoretical. In space, "smart plants" can provide not only food, oxygen, and clean air, but also valuable companionship for lonely space travelers, say some - a boon for astronauts if America is to go to Mars. Research on the workings of the mustard weed's statolith, for example, may one day yield a corn crop with 1-3/8 the gravitational force of Earth.

Some Earth-bound farmers, meanwhile, see the possibility of communicating with plants to time waterings for ultimate growth. A new gene, Bypass-1, found by University of Utah researchers, may make that possible.

Still, it can be hard for the common houseplant to command respect - even among those who study it most closely.

"When I was a postdoc, I had a neighbor who watched me buy plants, forget to water them, and throw them out, buy them and throw them out," says Dr. Sieburth. "When she found out I had a PhD in botany, I thought she was going to die."


Not the lesson they intended

Two L.A. charter school teachers lose their jobs over a planned Black History Month presentation.
By Carla Rivera Administrators at a Los Angeles charter school forbade students from reciting a poem about civil rights icon Emmett Till during a Black History Month program recently, saying his story was unsuitable for an assembly of young children. Teachers and students said the administration suggested that the Till case — in which the teenager was beaten to death in Mississippi after allegedly whistling at a white woman — was not fitting for a program intended to be celebratory, and that Till's actions could be viewed as sexual harassment. The decision by Celerity Nascent Charter School leaders roiled the southwest Los Angeles campus and led to the firing of seventh-grade teacher Marisol Alba and math teacher Sean Strauss, who had signed one of several letters of protest written by the students. The incident highlights the tenuous job security for mostly nonunion teachers in charter schools, which are publicly financed but independently run. California has more than 600 charter schools, and their ranks continue to swell. According to the California Teachers Assn., staff at fewer than 10% of charter schools are represented by unions. "I never thought it would come to this," said Alba, who helped her students prepare the Till presentation, in which they were going to read a poem and lay flowers in a circle. "I thought the most that would happen to me [after the event was canceled] is that I'd get talked to and it would be turned into a learning and teaching experience." School officials refused to discuss the particulars of the teachers' firings but said the issue highlights the difficulty of providing positive images for students who are often bombarded by negative cultural stereotypes. "Our whole goal is how do we get these kids to not look at all of the bad things that could happen to them and instead focus on the process of how do we become the next surgeon or the next politician," said Celerity co-founder and Executive Director Vielka McFarlane. "We don't want to focus on how the history of the country has been checkered but on how do we dress for success, walk proud and celebrate all the accomplishments we've made." McFarlane said details of the Till case were too graphic for an assembly that included kindergartners. The principal, Grace Canada, could not be reached for comment. McFarlane, speaking for the school, said her review of the incident did not support the teachers' allegations that Canada had used the term sexual harassment to describe Till's behavior. But Alba said that when the principal informed the class that they could not recite their poem, she gave the example of a construction worker whistling at her as she walked down the street. "She said that she would be offended by that and that what Emmett Till did could be considered sexual harassment," said Alba. "She used the phrase a couple of times and when I objected, she said 'OK, inappropriately whistled at a woman.' " Many parents said their children affirmed that account. Marcia Alston, mother of a seventh-grader, called the school to say she was appalled at its interpretation of history and the treatment of the teachers. She said that in the conversation, the principal used the term "rude" to describe Till's actions. "Mr. Strauss and Ms. Alba were excellent teachers," said Alston. "The fact that they and the students had signed a letter, I thought, was good; it was something they were passionate about and it could be used as a learning tool." Verna Hampton, whose daughter was in Alba's homeroom and signed a letter, said she was especially offended that the incident occurred during Black History Month. Hampton said her daughter told her there was nothing offensive in the letter she signed. "Those teachers should not have lost their jobs for standing up for what they felt was right; that sends the wrong message," Hampton said. "The kids didn't even get a chance to say goodbye." Alba, 30, began teaching at Celerity when it opened in the fall of 2005 shortly after she received her credential. She taught social studies and science and is now looking for another job. She is writing to the school's board of trustees to request a hearing, and Strauss has drafted a letter to the board complaining that his firing was unjustified. Under the contract signed by the teachers, they can be fired with or without cause. In the letter terminating his employment, dated March 6, Strauss was said to have been "disparaging the school to students and parents and authorizing by physical signature a nonsupportive message to the administrative staff." According to Alba and Strauss, individual students wrote 10 to 15 protest letters, some of which were signed by other students. Neither the teachers nor the students made copies, they said. "The kids felt strongly about this, and because these are my students, I felt one of my jobs was to pay attention to them," said Strauss, who is earning a credential at Cal State Dominguez Hills. "It's important anywhere a teacher works that the employer be willing to listen and keep an open mind and maybe even be willing to change their mind if they learn something new." Frank Wells, a spokesman for the California Teachers Assn., said the Celerity incident highlights the importance his group has placed on organizing charter school teachers statewide. "This points out the vulnerability of teachers in some charters where they don't have safeguards and can be fired for any or no reason," Wells said. Celerity Nascent (the name is derived from words meaning swift or accelerated development) opened in the Jefferson Park area last school year as a K-6 charter campus with about 330 students. Seventh grade was added this year, and there are plans to add eighth grade next year. Of its nearly 500 students, 80% are African American and about 19% are Latino. McFarlane, who is black, said 65% of the staff members live in the neighborhood and that part of the school's mission is to create jobs in the community. Most students are below grade level in reading when they enroll, and many have behavioral problems, school officials said. McFarlane, who worked for 14 years as a teacher and principal in the Los Angeles Unified School District, said that with its focus on project-based, "culturally responsive" learning, student achievement is rising and parents are more involved in their children's learning. Gary L. Larson, a spokesman for the California Charter Schools Assn., said Celerity is well-run and its administrators highly regarded. He defended the school's right to judge the appropriateness of the Till presentation and to dismiss teachers. "If they felt that it was too sensitive in nature, and as long as they are following approved procedures, they have the authority," Larson said. Many parents agreed with the school's decision to omit the Till presentation. During February's Black History Month program, the seventh-graders' poem, based on the book "A Wreath for Emmett Till," was replaced by a reading on the civil rights struggle as a whole. "There's no celebration in the Emmett Till story," said Stephen Weathers, president of the school's parent organization. "He was beaten for whistling at a white woman, and I don't want my daughter to know that in the fourth grade. I don't think a celebration of Black History Month is a forum for that story. It's important, but that wasn't the stage for it." Scot Brown, associate professor of history and African American studies at UCLA, said it was unfortunate that school officials and the teachers did not find common ground. "I'm surprised that the teachers and principal could not work out a way for students to do this presentation in a way that highlights the significance and importance of Emmett Till's loss to the larger black freedom struggle," said Brown. "It's much bigger than the acts of violence you don't want kids exposed to …. "It sounds to me that by laying a wreath and saying a poem, the students and teachers were working through the meaning of his sacrifice to the black freedom struggle, and that's very important."

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Remote Viewing Leads to Global Climate Change Awareness for Researcher Stephan Schwartz

In-depth interview with noted remote viewer and author Stephan A. Schwartz explores his research findings and personal conclusions about spirituality, therapeutic intention and interconnected consciousness.
Del Mar, CA, March 20, 2007 --(PR.COM)-- Join host Alex Tsakiris when he interviews well known remote viewer, researcher and author, Stephan A. Schwartz about his experiences in the “mental martial art” of remote viewing. During the 50-minute interview Schwartz explains the connection between global climate change awareness and consciousness research: “The same kind of individual choices producing aggregate effects that goes on in global climate change is precisely the same thing that’s going on, or not going on in healing research, and in the remote viewing research. All of them require that you get to a place where you realize … all consciousness is interlinked and interdependent.” He also discusses the spiritual aspects of his discoveries with remote viewing: “There’s only one mountain, and it’s an illusion, so how you get up it is really a matter of your own personal taste and style. Religion may be a great comfort to an individual, but there’s no one religion. There’re a lot of ways to get to awakened consciousness.” The interview is available for immediate free download at: www.skeptiko.com/index.php?id=14 Dr. Schwartz is the author of several books including the upcoming, Opening to the Infinite (2007). About Skeptiko Skpetiko is the first scientifically oriented Podcast exploring new research in controversial areas of science such as telepathy, psi, parapsychology, near-death-experience, reincarnation, and after-life encounters. Each episode features open, honest debate on new scientific discoveries. The show includes interviews with top research scientists and their critics.

Theories of everything: A theory of everything must address consciousness, says prof

A new theory of the universe outlined by Wake Frest University medicine prof Robert Lanza, called biocentrism addresses the implications of failure to include our own consciousness in our understanding of the world:
Neuroscientists have developed theories that might help to explain how separate pieces of information are integrated in the brain and thus succeed in elucidating how different attributes of a single perceived object—such as the shape, color, and smell of a flower—are merged into a coherent whole. These theories reflect some of the important work that is occurring in the fields of neuroscience and psychology, but they are theories of structure and function. They tell us nothing about how the performance of these functions is accompanied by a conscious experience; and yet the difficulty in understanding consciousness lies precisely here, in this gap in our understanding of how a subjective experience emerges from a physical process. [ ... ] Physicists believe that the theory of everything is hovering right around the corner, and yet consciousness is still largely a mystery, and physicists have no idea how to explain its existence from physical laws. The questions physicists long to ask about nature are bound up with the problem of consciousness. Physics can furnish no answers for them.
Lanza argues, essentially, that attempts to understand the universe through physics and chemistry alone are doomed by the quantum mechanical nature of life. Interesting reading! From what I can tell, most materialists are not so much looking for a way to understand consciousness (self, soul, free will, et cetera) as a way to define it out of existence or effectiveness. The fact that they want their biggest problem to be just dismissed as a myth shows the size of the challenge they face in dealing with it. Go here, here, and here for a few examples.
Check out The Spiritual Brain: A neuroscientist's case for the existence of the soul by Mario Beauregard and Denyse O'Leary (Harper 2007).
posted by Denyse O'Leary

Oops I almost missed a article by Aijaz Ahmad

http://www.zmag.org/content/print_article.cfm?itemID=11925§ionID=22

Empire marches on:mAfter West Asia and the Caspian Sea Basin, Horn of Africa is the next Great Game.

by Aijaz Ahmad; January 23, 2007

THE hastily confected judicial assassination of Saddam Hussein, the last President of independent Iraq, was part of an extraordinary three-month-long offensive that United States President George W. Bush has mounted on all fronts, domestic and international, since mid-October 2006. That offensive has now culminated in the invasion of Somalia by the Ethiopian proxy of the U.S., massive U.S. bombings of Somali territory by huge U.S. cargo planes that have been turned into gunships, and the "invitation" by the puppet regime, which the Ethiopian proxy has imposed on Somalia, to the U.S. to send its troops to this newly occupied country. A "new" Eastern Africa is now as much a U.S. objective as is a "new" West Asia. An integrated offensive from the Caspian Sea to the Mombasa Bay, so to speak.

In the process, Bush has signed into law the most far-reaching limitations on the U.S. Constitution and the Bill of Rights. He has dismissed key members of his own team at the Pentagon and the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) as well his principal military commanders in the West Asia and Iraq. He has ignored the electoral verdict of November 2006, in which the U.S. electorate had repudiated his Iraq policies and handed both Houses of Congress to the Democrats. He has ripped up much of the report compiled in the name of the bipartisan Iraq Study Group by James Baker, his own mentor and his father's chief confidant. He has widened dramatically the territorial breadth of the military conflict, committing more troops to the war in Iraq and daring his opponents in Congress to stop him.

Not just his father, not just Colin Powell but even Donald Rumsfeld has turned out to be much too circumspect, and not manly enough, in his reckoning. Only pliant courtiers who shall shield him from the bad news and go on doing his bidding to prop up his own delusions of manliness, such as Condoleezza Rice, are now good enough. Paul Wolfowitz and Richard Perle, among key neocon architects of the Iraq invasion and now sceptical of further escalation, are out; an even coarser gang of neocons are now in. A former good-for-nothing alcoholic and now a born-again Christian, Bush seems to have cultivated both a gambler's compulsiveness (just one more shot of whisky, one more throw of the dice) and a messianic streak, in which each failure is viewed as yet another trial by fire in the journey toward Eternal Salvation.

In a delusion so grand, the hanging of Saddam Hussein must have appeared to him as just a detail in one morning's work, but also as yet another sign of his own manliness. As Governor of Texas, he signed more death sentences than any other Governor of a U.S. State in recent memory. Some of those who worked for him in Texas are rumoured to have said that he liked killing people. He does, in any case, keep in his presidential Oval Office Saddam's own, personal pistol which was taken from him when he was captured by U.S. soldiers. That may well be the modern, American equivalent of eating your enemy's liver as a tribute to that enemy's valour.

A death foretold

That Saddam would be killed had been a foregone conclusion ever since he was captured by U.S. troops in December 2003. The U.S. propaganda machinery as well as the global corporate media mesmerised by that propaganda tried to say that he had surrendered abjectly and that his followers had been discouraged greatly by the fact that he put up no resistance and made the "cowardly" decision to be captured alive instead of choosing a "heroic" suicide.

Most of the world was impressed, rather, by the fact that he decided to stay on Iraqi soil, instead of getting himself smuggled into safety in foreign lands, and that he managed to dodge the American forces, 140,000 of them on the ground with all sorts of gadgetry of surveillance probing for his hideouts, for a full nine months. He took the risk of getting tortured by the Americans, who had amply demonstrated their capacity for torturing captives not just in Guantanamo or Abu Ghraib but also in dozens of prison complexes scattered, literally, around the globe ("extraordinary rendition" and all that). The remarkable courage he displayed at the time of actual execution was already there in the decision not to flee the country and, instead, take the risk of capture and torture and eventual execution.

The sort of court in which the show trial was staged has been described by some well-meaning people as a "kangaroo court". That is an insult to the essential decency of real-life kangaroos. Occupiers simply appointed their clients as prosecuting lawyers and judges. Lawyers who dared to defend Saddam in this court, which had no legitimate status in international law, were defamed, intimidated and, at times, simply murdered. The corporate media punctually ignored the fact that among the lawyers who sought to defend Saddam was also the former Attorney-General of the U.S., Ramsey Clarke, who had formerly worked so valiantly in documenting the hundreds of thousands of the Iraqi dead during the period of the U.N.-condoned Anglo-U.S. sanctions prior to the full-scale invasion. Any judge who showed the slightest respect for legal procedure in a way that favoured the defendant was removed. The case was adjourned time and again, and the show trial just dragged on.

It was quite clear that the Americans deluded themselves into believing that Saddam in their captivity was some bargaining chip they could use in getting what came to be known as "The Sunni Resistance" to negotiate with them in lieu of a sentence for Saddam milder than death - life imprisonment, some years of hard labour, even a contrived "escape". Zalmay Khalilzad, who served as the U.S. proconsul in Iraq, carried on back-channel negotiations with the "Sunni Resistance", failed to strike a bargain and pronounced the negotiations dead, and Saddam was duly hanged.

Saddam was never tried for the most spectacular of his crimes, and evidence incriminating him directly for ordering the killing of 148 people in the village of Dujail many years ago was simply not there; from the legal standpoint, his responsibility was at best indirect, for which the sentence of death was obviously excessive. His lawyers had been given less than two weeks to appeal against a judgment of 300 pages. Before the judgment, Saddam was not allowed to cross-examine the witnesses against him and his lawyers were not given access to much of the information that the Judges were privy too. After his lawyers filed the appeal, the appellate court confirmed the death sentence within three days. The judgment of the appellate court had given 30 days for the execution to be carried out; he was executed on the fourth day after that verdict.

The original sentence itself had been announced hurriedly the day before the Congressional elections in the U.S., in the hope that the electorate would somehow come to believe that the end of Saddam spelled some sort of "victory" for their President. The electorate did not take notice and voted against the Republicans anyway. Bush fell back on his hollow promise that Saddam would be hanged before the end of the year, and so it was done. One can only surmise that the decision to hang Saddam came together with the decision to escalate in the military sphere inside Iraq and right up to Somalia, all of which was to follow over the next two weeks.

Every single thing the U.S. has done in this dastardly process has been predictable all along. What is remarkable is the conduct of the other sovereign states of the world and the so-called "international community". Not a squeak of protest came out of any of the members of the European Union that prides itself on having abolished the death penalty, signing on to the International Criminal Court, and purportedly having far greater esteem for human rights, international law and judicial procedures. None pointed out that a trial court set up by an occupation authority predictably to convict the head of state of the occupied country - and a court, furthermore, that is vested with the power to award the death penalty - was contrary to the Geneva Conventions as well as to the existing European laws. None demanded that the trial be moved to the International Criminal Court.

Heads of Arab states piously `deplored' the timing, since Saddam had been hanged on the first day of the Eid al-Azha - the great feast of the sacrifice which symbolically re-enacts the myth of Abraham and Ishmael, and when the grand Muslim ritual of the Hajj in Mecca is concluded - but not much else about this victor's justice.

Even the judgment delivered by the court composed of clients had to say that there was no evidence that Saddam had actually ordered the actions which had led to the deaths for which he was accused, and that it was his description of those actions as "mistakes" which could be construed as his implicit responsibility for them - and therefore he had to be awarded the penalty of a death sentence. On such grounds, there is ample reason to sentence Bush, Rumsfeld & co. to death by execution for the documented tortures of Abu Ghraib alone, not to speak of much else. Neither the United Nations, supposedly the upholder of international law, nor any head of state anywhere in the world (with rare exceptions such as Hugo Chavez) who is assigned the task of protecting the very principle of national sovereignty, said anything of the kind. The worldwide democratic loathing of courts and sentencing of this kind was instead to be contained in virtually all the capitals of the world, from Beijing and New Delhi to Paris and even London, as some variant of the diplomatic nicety contained in the word "deplorable".

The victor's justice is a many-headed monster. Saddam was undoubtedly a ferocious dictator and should have been brought to justice in a court duly constituted in an independent and sovereign Iraq, under a government chosen by the Iraqi people free of the occupation and the consequent regimes of murder and sectarian strife imposed upon them by the occupiers. He had done immense wrongs to the peoples of the countries he invaded, notably Iran and Kuwait, for which too he should have been tried in accordance with strict procedures of international law, in a court free of external manipulation.

Most of his crimes had been committed when he was a close ally of the Western powers, especially the U.S. and Britain, which supplied him with arms, chemical and biological weapons as well as technologies to produce them, aerial photographs and other intelligence materials regarding countries that he invaded; the whole world needed a trial of him in which crimes of such collusion could be documented and the relevant criminals, of whatever nationality, could be prosecuted; highest officials of the U.S. and Britain would have been exposed to prosecution in that case - and rightly so. All such possibilities ended with Saddam's execution by a gang of thugs in the Americans' pay.

Saddam was a bloody dictator but hardly the only one in his time, and probably not the worst either. General Augusto Pinochet, responsible for thousands of deaths and for siphoning off unaccounted millions upon millions of dollars out of the Chilean treasury, had been in British custody, and even a Spanish court could not get hold of him when it invoked the hallowed principle of universal jurisdiction against people charged with crimes against humanity; upon relinquishing office Pinochet lived happily enough in a supposedly democratised Chile and when he died, the newly elected socialist President who had herself been tortured under his dictatorship saw it fit to wear black, the colour of mourning, and send her Defence Minister to the torturer's funeral.

In a similar case, when human rights lawyers tried to bring cases against Ariel Sharon and other Israeli war criminals in courts of countries, such as Belgium, which had extensive laws based on the principles of universal jurisdiction, the U.S. forced them to change their laws; and when, in a similar instance, its Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld was to attend a North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) conclave in Brussels and it was surmised that he may be served with a warrant of arrest as a war criminal, the U.S. had no difficulty in persuading all its European allies to change the venue of the meeting. There is little to choose between Saddam and Pinochet, but one was on the wrong side in the ultimate `clash of civilisations' and the other was on the side of the victors.

All of that was foretold and predictable. Surprise was in the manner of the execution itself and the details that were quickly divulged. Like everything else that the Americans have done in Iraq, this masquerade, too, was a peculiar mix of monstrous caprice and utter bungling. That the dirty deed was done in the early hours of the day when Eid al-Azha commences, involving a couple of million Muslims in Makkah itself and untold millions around the world watching it on television, is macabre enough. Some, even leftist, commentators in the U.S. have described that day as of great ritual significance "on the Sunni calendar". Well, not so. This is a ritual that brings together Muslims of all sects, nationalities, racial or ethnic origins, in perhaps the biggest, trans-continental congregational event anywhere in the world. To hang a Muslim, any Muslim, on that morning is an affront to all those who subscribe to that religion; that the collaborators of the U.S. colluded in all that only shows their supine character, and that some Shia neighbourhoods in Iraq celebrated that hanging, forgetting the sanctity of the day on which it was performed, only shows how successful the occupation has been in fermenting sectarian war through all variety of means.

Defiance, prayer, exit

From the strictly religious point of view, though, the worst of it came at the precise moment when his neck was snapped and the plank drawn from underneath him - as he was in the midst of saying his last prayer. The video that sent that image around the world simply immortalised him as a Muslim being executed on the first day of the Eid, with none of the most basic respect for words of the prayer, by henchmen of an alien - not only nationally but also religiously and culturally - occupying force, while the hired executioners are shown to be mere brutish thugs. That image is likely to reverberate throughout the Muslim and especially the Arab world for an incalculable length of time. What has been said by many since then is actually true: a despised tyrant, whose tyranny the Americans claimed to be fighting against, has been rendered a martyr, by American fiat.

That image of a man calmly dignified and deep in prayer at the very moment of his death is rendered especially poignant by the videographed recording of the preceding few minutes. Saddam appears erect and defiant, answering the braying executioners with irony and conviction, stepping up to the gallows unflappably, and beginning to pray as the noose is tightened. Some of the printed stories in major newspapers of the world, including the key American ones, were to further confirm those images of exit with calm dignity.

He is said to have been woken up early, to have sensed what was coming, to have shaken hands with all his guards and to have thanked each one of them, individually, for the good care he had received from them. He walked gravely toward the helicopter that was to take him to the place of his execution. Formality required that the verdict be read to him. He responded in a high-pitched voice: "Long live the nation! Long live the people. Long live the Palestinians!" A little later, and equally in fulfilment of formalities, the National Security Adviser of the puppet regime enquired of him if he had any remorse, and he said, "I am a militant and I have no fear for myself... "

At some point, inexplicably, his U.S.-paid executioners raised slogans in praise of Moqtada al-Sadr, the young Shia cleric whom the Americans hate the most and have often fought, in Kufa and elsewhere. Saddam is said to have been surprised and shook his head. Soon after that he was led to the gallows, tied up, and hanged. That was on December 30. The next day, the very last day of 2006, The New York Times began its story on the execution with the sentence: "Saddam Hussein never bowed his head, until his neck snapped."

It wasn't long before Washington began waking up to the huge global impact of Saddam's dignified behaviour, as contrasted with the crassness of his execution - the choice of day, the menacing rowdiness of his executioners in the solemn moments before his death, the snapping of the neck as he prayed silently. Such things are hard to verify, but it does seem to me that it is only after the facts had had an impact exactly the opposite of what the Washingtonian spinmasters anticipated that they decided to pretend that the successive videos had been produced clandestinely and that they had actually tried to dissuade the "sovereign" Nouri al-Maliki government from executing Saddam on such a holy day.

It was now said that it was the "sovereign" Iraqi establishment - much too "sovereign" to listen to the United States - which had chosen that day, against strenuous U.S. efforts. It was also claimed that the slogans raised by the executioners in favour of Moqtada al-Sadr were entirely spontaneous; that they were praising someone the U.S. detests only goes to show, it was claimed, how "independent" those executioners really were. Supposedly liberal but in fact corrupt and pompous senior journalists like John F. Burns of The New York Times were to play a major role in this subsequent campaign of disinformation which sought to relieve the U.S. of its culpability in the whole sorry mess.

All that, I believe, is plain hogwash. Only a month earlier, that same "Prime Minister" had complained publicly that he is not allowed to move even a platoon of policemen without prior U.S. permission. Death by hanging of a famous dictator is serious business; it is very doubtful that sundry hangmen can just take out their cellphones and video cameras to make unauthorised tapes and then just put them on the Internet. Secrecy is the essence of all such events; it is very unlikely that microscopic details of such proceedings can appear in newspapers the very next day if the real masters of the ceremony, the big U.S. officials, do not want them divulged. Nor is it very likely that hired hangmen, always fearful of dire consequences for unruly behaviour at such times, would raise slogans in favour of America's designated enemy, Moqtada, unless they are sure of not suffering any reprisals. It seems very likely that they were instructed to raise those slogans, in praise of Moqtada, to be caught on videotape that would be widely disseminated throughout the Arab world, to indicate that it was Moqtada's men who actually executed Saddam Hussein, so as to concentrate Sunni ire on Moqtada, the one major Shia figure in Iraq who is deeply opposed to American occupation, and not on the core clients of the U.S. who actually did it.

The hanging as well as the spectacle staged and taped at the time were meant to exacerbate the Shia-Sunni divide and to have the Sunnis turn against Moqtada even as the U.S. concentrates its fire upon his forces. (As many as 14,000 U.S. troops were diverted to Moqtada's stronghold in the Sadr City zone of Baghdad in October 2006 and the majority of the 30,000 troops that Bush and his new commanders in Iraq are looking for are expected to be deployed there.) It seems very likely, in short, that the Americans had carefully choreographed the whole staging of the execution and dissemination of the pictures, but they had not imagined that Saddam's dignified conduct would have such an electrifying impact across the world, especially the Arab-Muslim world. Nor had they understood that most people in the world, especially outside the U.S., do not condone the hanging of a man on a day deemed holy in his religion and while he has his last prayer on his lips, even though the man to be hanged was once a dictator.

Nausea of Empire

Even Saddam, held in secluded captivity for three years, probably did not know the full extent of what his captors had done to his country. This is not the place to go into details but a few outstanding facts can be assembled.

Reliable estimates suggest that a million and a half Iraqis, most of them women and children, had died as a result of the sanctions against Iraq even before full-scale invasion. The most recent estimate of deaths since the invasion put the number at 665,000. That is quite aside from the probably much higher number of the maimed, the injured, the malnourished.

The United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) says there are 1.6 million internal refugees in Iraq now, another 1.8 million have left the country, 100,000 leave the country every day and Syria alone - which requires no entry visas from others Arab states - receives a daily influx of 2,000 refugees. The last reliable Census in Iraq put the population at 23 million. Over two million dead and over three million rendered homeless thus constitute roughly 20 per cent of the population - and the process continues. The bulk of the country's intelligentsia has fled, and documented evidence exists to show that close to a thousand academic professionals, journalists, judges and doctors have been murdered.

Tens of billions of dollars have disappeared into the coffers of the new, U.S.-made ruling elite, but the vast majority of the surviving population has been pauperised in a country that was once the Arab world's most advanced welfare state. Before the U.S. invasion, Iraq was also a highly secular polity; it is now a murderous cesspool of sectarian militias and communal strife in which a hundred corpses may be picked up from the streets of Baghdad on any given day, the daily toll of death across the country runs at roughly 1,000, and members of the Shia-administered Ministries may abduct members of the Sunni-administered Ministries. In Saddam's secular Iraq, there was a high incidence of inter-sect marriages between Shias and Sunnis; today, families are forcing such couples to divorce their spouses. When large numbers of such couples tried to create an association for their self-defence, some of their prominent members were murdered and the association was forced to disband.

These extremities are by no means limited to Baghdad but envelop the entire country with the exception of the more solidly Kurdish areas; even Mosul, relatively a more secure city, has witnessed the exodus of 75,000 Kurds toward the safer regions of Iraqi Kurdistan.

That a civil war of huge proportions, with all the characteristics of mutual ethnic cleansings, is fully in progress is beyond debate. Yet, most Iraqis hold the U.S. responsible for this descent of their country into hell; in the most recent polls, over 90 per cent of Sunnis and over 60 per cent of Shias said armed attacks on U.S. personnel are legitimate and necessary, and over 70 per cent of all Iraqis, including Kurds, want U.S. troops to leave their country. (Significantly, in the same poll, 50 per cent identified themselves simply as Muslim, not Shia or Sunni.) It is into this hellish mix that Bush wants to throw in more troops and the hard core of the neocons (Kagan, Kristol and Co.) argue in favour of unlimited escalation.

Iraq is not the only place where further escalation, more overt and covert military involvement, more civil wars are being sought. In December 2006, Bush signed a secret "finding" which authorises the CIA to pass covert funds to the Lebanese government as well as sundry Lebanese squads to fight Hizbollah on the ground, which will include armed engagement as well as assassinations, designed to provoke a civil war that will undermine Hizbollah internally and relieve Israel from its pressure. As for Palestine, a report that has landed on my table even as I draft this article says, in part, regarding the neocon Eliot Abram's plan for a civil war among Palestinians:

Over the past 12 months, the United States has supplied guns, ammunition and training to Palestinian Fatah activists to take on Hamas in the streets of Gaza and the West Bank... A large number of Fatah activists have been trained and "graduated" from two West Bank camps - one in Ramallah and one in Jericho. The supplies of rifles and ammunition, which started as a mere trickle, have now become a torrent (the Israeli daily Ha'aretz reports that the U.S. has designated an astounding $86.4 million for Abu Mazen's - Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas' - security detail). Thousands of rifles and bullets have been pouring into Gaza and the West Bank from Egypt and Jordan, the U.S. administration's designated allies... under the Abrams program (Egypt recently sent 1,900 rifles into Gaza and the West Bank, nearly matching the 3,000 rifles sent by the Jordanians)... . Rumsfeld was concerned that the anti-Hamas program would radicalise Muslim groups among U.S. allies and eventually endanger U.S. troops fighting Sunni extremists in Iraq. According to these authors' reports, Rumsfeld was told by Bush that he should keep his focus on Iraq, and that "the Palestinian brief" was in the hands of the Secretary of State. After this confrontation, Rumsfeld decided there was not much he could do.

The Abrams program was initially conceived last February by a group of White House officials who wanted to shape a coherent and tough response to the Hamas electoral victory of January. These officials, the authors were told, were led by Abrams, but included National Security Advisers working in the office of the Vice-President, including prominent neo-conservatives David Wurmser and John Hannah. The policy was approved by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice... . The President then signed off on the program in a Central Intelligence Agency "finding" and designated that its implementation be put under the control of the CIA... . The recipients of U.S. largesse have been Abbas and Mohammad Dahlan, a controversial and charismatic Palestinian political leader from Gaza. The U.S. has also relied on advice from Mohammad Rashid, a well-known Kurdish/Palestinian financier with offices in Cairo.

These few extracts speak for themselves, and we need not comment, except to say that the designated errand boys in this plan (Mubarak of Egypt, the Jordanian and Saudi royals) are said to be highly nervous and uncertain of repercussions that might ensue for themselves as they get seen fanning the flames of a fratricide among the Palestinians so openly, in the service of Israel.

Empire comes to Somalia

Just as the gallows were being readied in Baghdad for the hanging of Saddam Hussein, Ethiopia invaded Somalia, in a thinly veiled proxy war launched by the U.S., and drove out the ruling coalition of the Somali Council of Islamic Courts (SCIC), whose forces surrendered the capital, Mogadishu, quickly, some of them retreating into their strongholds in southern Somalia and others just shaving off their beards and disappearing into the city's burgeoning population. The orderliness of the quick retreat was reminiscent of the way the Taliban in Afghanistan and the bulk of Iraq's Baathist army had retreated into the interiors and among the general populace when their respective countries were attacked by the overwhelmingly superior forces of the U.S.

The Ethiopians re-installed a government of warlords that had been ousted some six months earlier, and when the U.S. AC130 warplanes - military cargo aircraft turned into huge gunships fitted with the most modern gadgetry - flew out of the U.S. airbase in Djibouti to start attacking Somali territory some two weeks later, the President of this puppet regime, Abdullahi Yusuf, was at hand to tell the journalists that the U.S. "has a right to bombard suspects who attacked its embassies in Kenya and Tanzania". The US has been attacking from the air ever since and has moved the aircraft carrier USS Eisenhower to join three other warships off the Somali coast, on the pretext that Somalia is studded with Al Qaeda base camps. Meanwhile, the internecine warfare among the warlord factions, which had plagued Mogadishu for 15 years before the SCIC captured the capital in 2006, is once again the order of the day. Even as I draft these lines, the news is that one such gang fight under the new occupation has cost six human lives. The making of another Baghdad, as it were!

Like the hanging of Saddam Hussein, the invasion of Somalia has also been awaited for some time. That the invasion plans were being given the final touches was indicated in November 2006 when Gen John Abizaid, the then commander of the U.S. Central Command that is responsible for the whole region, flew into Addis Ababa for talks with the Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zanawi to draw up the detailed plans. Then, on December 6, the U.S. set aside the intensive Arab and European mediation efforts for an agreement between the contenders for power in Somalia and pushed through the U.N. Security Council its Resolution 1725, which recognised the makeshift government for Somalia that had been organised in Kenya by U.S. allies in the region and was essentially an alliance of warlords.

The resolution also called for the creation of an international peacekeeping force to ensure the return of that freshly minted "government" to power in the capital and, in an apparent insurance against Ethiopian invasion, explicitly called upon all neighbouring states to desist from interfering in Somalia's internal affairs. With the resolution in its pocket, the U.S. immediately launched preparations for the final push, and when the Ethiopian invasion actually came, Bush declared his support by saying that he fully understood Ethiopia's security concerns.

That is the immediate background. The invasion has been awaited for years, though, and as I dust up my old files I find that in the months following the September 11, 2001 attacks in the U.S. and all through the invasion of Afghanistan, Somalia was the country that got described in the media as the next likely target, before all attention shifted to Iraq. Thus, on November 25, 2001, The Sunday Times blandly reported that "the United States and Britain are planning to extend the war on terrorism in Somalia, Sudan and Yemen as soon as the campaign in Afghanistan is over" and that "the British and their CIA counterparts have been assembling evidence to be used as the basis for attacks on bin Laden's associates and terrorist training camps". A report in Financial Times Online, on December 11, 2001, reads as if it was drafted exactly five years later, at the end of

2006:

Nine Americans reportedly met representatives of a clan-based group called the Rahanwein Resistance Army (RRA) and a warlord known as General Morgan, in the central town of Baidoa. Both form part of a wider Ethiopian-backed anti-government alliance called the Somali Restoration and Reconciliation Council (SRRC). The SRRC and its Ethiopian backers have long accused Somalia's new transitional government (TNG) - established last year in Djibouti - of having Islamist sympathies. It talks of training camps linked to Al Qaeda. Ethiopia says it is reacting to evidence that the TNG is in the pocket of Islamic terrorists but others, including the government, suggest that is a smokescreen for a more imperialistic agenda.

Le Monde Diplomatique of the same month five years ago had this to say:

After 11 September, there are two potential winners in the new order, Sudan and Ethiopia, and two probable losers, Somalia and Eritrea. In Sudan, now an oil-producing country, President Omar al-Bashir seems set to emulate the success of his Pakistani counterpart. Over a year ago he agreed to the opening of an American anti-terrorist bureau in Khartoum... . The Ethiopian government immediately offered to mount its own campaign against al-Ittihaad... . A war against the Somalis would be popular and not entail any great military risks... . It would also reinforce Ethiopia's policy over the last 10 years of keeping Somalia broken up into four or five clan-based micro-states.

On 8 January 2002, Christian Science Monitor was to inform its readers:

British, French, and U.S. military reconnaissance flights have become more frequent in recent days, with U.S. Navy P-3 planes doubling their missions over the country to four or five a week. The Pentagon will soon have three Marine Expeditionary Units (with 1,200 troops each) patrolling the Somali coastline, ensuring Al Qaeda members escaping Afghanistan cannot find shelter on these lawless shores. Germany sent a fleet of six ships to the Horn of Africa Wednesday. The US is continuing discussions with the Somali Reconciliation and Restoration Council (SRRC), a loose grouping of warlords backed by Ethiopia who oppose the government in Mogadishu and have pledged to fight terrorism. Ethiopia reportedly sent 70 officers to Baidoa last week to train members of SRRC for fighting, though Addis Ababa denies it.

This is just as a small sample. Heaps of such stuff got published five years ago, and the basic contours of the war to secure the Horn of Africa for long-term imperial dominance, which is unfolding now, are already there. Not just the U.S. and Britain but also Germany (which now has troops in Afghanistan) have been at it since then; which explains why the U.S. was able to secure the Security Council Resolution on Somalia last month so easily and why there was not even a whimper of protest in that same Security Council when the U.S. immediately proceeded to prepare Ethiopia to invade, in direct violation of a key clause in that very resolution. But the real significance of that more recent resolution was there for all to see. As the International Herald Tribune of December 26, 2006, four days before Saddam's execution, was to point out:

The U.N. Security Council, however, did take up the issue, and in another craven act which will further cement its reputation as an anti-Muslim body, bowed to American and British pressure to authorise a regional peacekeeping force to enter Somalia to protect the transitional government, which is fighting the Islamic Courts.

As we see in those old reports, the basic alliance between the U.S., Ethiopia and the warlords was being put in place, with active collusion from Sudan and Djibouti, five years before the Islamic Courts emerged victorious, for some months, in 2006 - which has now become the excuse for an invasion that has been in the making all this time. And that same talk of "Al Qaeda", an all-purpose spectral phantom that can be invoked at will, to occupy any country, commit any atrocity, violate any international law, back any grouping of thugs - all in the name of a "war on terror".

Ethiopia is a natural ally of the United States. Like Israel, Ethiopia is yet to declare its final borders - because it covets the territories of its principal neighbours, Somalia and Eritrea - just as Israel is hell-bent on capturing more and more territory, Syrian and Lebanese as well as much more of the historic Palestine as possible. Israel does have a long coastline but covets the water resources of the Palestinian Territories it occupies as well as those of Lebanon which it has invaded again and again; the landlocked Ethiopia does not even have a coastline and covets territory from both Eritrea and Somalia so as to gain its own sovereign access to the high seas. Israel must remain a "Jewish state" on the historic land of Palestine, even though if one were to take into account all the Palestinians - inside Israel, in the Occupied Territories, and driven into the rest of the world as refugees - the Jewish population in historic Palestine would still be a minority.

Similarly, Ethiopia flaunts itself as an ancient "Christian country" even though even the CIA handbook on the country would tell you that Muslims are the most numerous religious community there: not a part of the ruling elite but the largest religious collectivity on the historic land of Ethiopia! And, thanks to its phantasmagoric claims to be only a "Christian country" it must be permanently at war with its Muslim neighbours because its own Muslim majority has much in common with those neighbours; indeed, some 6 per cent of its population is specifically Somali in its ethnic makeup. The Ethiopian elite has the same difficulty that Israel has in becoming a multi-religious and multi-cultural, truly secular society; those who do not belong to the politically and economically dominant religious group must forever be second-class citizens.

Oil is the great misfortune of Muslims in great many countries because they tend to have a great deal of it, while an addiction called oil - for consumption, as a strategic resource, as black gold worth trillions - is a disease with the dollar-driven Americans in particular and with capitalism in general. It now appears that not just Sudan but even Somalia has good quantities of it; the infamous "war on terror" goes where the oil is. After the West Asia and the Caspian Sea Basin, Horn of Africa is the next Great Game. But Americans are fishing in troubled waters. Ethiopian Muslims have never had much use for radical Islamism of the bin Laden kind.

However, as Somalia gets invaded and occupied by the Ethiopians, and subjected to indiscriminate air raids by the Americans (rumour has it that U.S. ground troops may soon arrive, in addition to the ongoing covert operations), that kind of Islamism may spread like wild fire certainly in Somalia but also in Kenya and possibly Ethiopia itself. In country after country, the fury of U.S. aggression has succeeded in turning a cross-section of socially conservative but politically mild Muslims into radical, millenarian, gun-totting ones; Iraq is the supreme example of this sea-change in a matter of just over three years. Somalia itself, and possibly the whole region, now seems to be heading into the eye of that same storm. The will to conquest remains unrelenting, however.

Imperial nemesis

Much more could be said on all the issues we have raised here. The question, nevertheless, remains: can Bush get away with it all? Well, there is much disturbance in the heavens. The U.S. electorate has already repudiated these policies and even some of the Republican Senators who are facing re-election have defected from the planned "surge" of more troops into Iraq, while Senator Edward M. Kennedy and his colleagues have introduced legislation in both Houses of the U.S. Congress that would forbid the Bush administration to either commit more troops abroad or to enhance any kind of military funding for such adventures without prior Congressional approval. Other aspects of the dictatorial presidency that Bush has been erecting are bound to come up for Congressional scrutiny. Even the client al-Maliki government in Iraq has expressed its displeasure at the idea of more U.S. troops, partly because it depends on Moqtada for its survival, partly because its Iranian friends do not wish to see the Americans becoming militarily stronger in Iraq, and partly because even clients want to enhance their own local power when they are given a country to rule, at least nominally.

The Bush Administration is poised to introduce a new set of laws that would throw Iraqi oil for privatisation and for foreign corporations to dominate and profit from. Iraqi capitalists who covet those same profits, as well the economic nationalists who wish to guard their national assets, are bound to resist. The kind of dramatic escalations that Bush is contemplating across a wide transcontinental territory, from the northern regions of Iraq to the Somalia-Kenya border, do appear to be an unsustainable imperial overstretch.

On top of it all, the fiscal wounds of empire are there for all to see. Expenditures on the Iraq war alone are now running at close to $8 billion a month and the accumulated expenditures incurred thus far are now close to $2 trillion; Stiglitz, the Nobel Prize-winning former Chief Economist of the World Bank, whose detailed study of the likely cost of the Iraq War put it at $3 trillion, now says that the figure was much too low and accumulated costs, not just to the U.S. economy but to the economies of other participating countries, are likely to be considerably higher.

As regards the general economy, the U.S. national debt now hovers around $70 trillion if all future obligations are included. The real budgetary deficit in 2005 alone was closer to $750 billion, while the current accounts deficit exceeded $800 billion. In November 2006, Business Week pointed out that in a year or so the U.S. shall arrive at a point where it will import a dollar value of goods and services exceeding what the federal government collects in revenues that now amount to $2.4 trillion. There are any number of such indicators, and Stiglitz warns that unless truly fundamental changes are introduced into micro-management of the U.S. economy on an emergency basis, a crisis of very considerable proportions shall start looming in 12 to 24 months - just as the U.S. enters into its next presidential campaign.

So, the question may well be asked: can an economy so riddled with debts and deficits that boggle the mind, with such vast disparities between revenues and expenditures, sustain a war of such global proportions into the indefinite future?

And we haven't even begun to talk of Iran and Syria. All the documentary evidence seems to suggest that Bush is more keen to invade them now than he was before. He has only two more years in office; after that, he cannot run for the presidency again. By the same token, he must perpetrate in these two years all the evil he intends. More: http://www.findarticles.com/p/search?tb=art&qt=%22Aijaz+Ahmad%22

Monday, March 19, 2007

In Memory of Tanya Reinhart, By NOAM CHOMSKY

She Drew Away the Veil on Criminal and Outrageous Conduct

Editors' note: We have lost an outstanding intellect and one of the bravest voices from Israel with the death of Tanya Reinhart. Last October, on this site, we published Eric Hazan's interview with Tanya Reinhart on the occasion of the publication of her latest book, Roadmap to Nowhere. In conclusion Haas asked her,

Despite the grim events described in the book, the overall feeling that comes through is that of hope. Why?

Reinhart: "I argue that the reason that the U.S. exerted even limited pressure on Israel, for the first time in recent history, was because at that moment in history it was no longer possible to ignore world discontent over its policy of blind support of Israel. This shows that persistent struggle can have an effect, and can lead governments to act. Such struggle begins with the Palestinian people, who have withstood years of brutal oppression, and who, through their spirit of zumud--sticking to their land - and daily endurance, organizing and resistance, have managed to keep the Palestinian cause alive, something that not all oppressed nations have managed to do. It continues with international struggle--solidarity movements that send their people to the occupied territories and stand in vigils at home, professors signing boycott petitions, subjecting themselves to daily harassment, a few courageous journalists that insist on covering the truth, against the pressure of acquiescent media and pro-Israel lobbies. Often this struggle for justice seems futile. Nevertheless, it has penetrated global consciousness. It is this collective consciousness that eventually forced the U.S. to pressure Israel into some, albeit limited, concessions. . The Palestinian cause can be silenced for a while, as is happening now, but it will resurface."

Tanya Reinhart was one of those whose determined voice and writings did just that: change global consciousness. AC / JSC

It is painful, and hard, to write about the loss of an old and cherished friend. Tanya Reinhart was just that.

Tanya was a brilliant and creative scientist. I can express my own evaluation of her work most concisely by recalling that years ago, when I was thinking about the future of my own department after my retirement, I tried to arrange to offer Tanya the invitation to be my eventual replacement, plans that did not work out, much to my regret, mostly for bureaucratic reasons.

I will not try to review her remarkable contributions to virtually every major area of linguistic studies. Included among them are original and highly influential investigations of syntactic structure and operations, referential dependence, principles of lexical semantics and their implications for syntactic organization, unified approaches to cross-linguistic semantic interpretation of complex structures that appear superficially to vary widely, the theory of stress and intonation, efficient parsing systems, the interaction of internal computations with thought and sensorimotor systems, optimal design as a core principle of language, and much else. Her academic work extended well beyond, to literary theory, mass media and propaganda, and other core elements of intellectual culture.

But Tanya's outstanding professional work was only one part of her life, and of our long and intimate friendship. She was one of the most courageous and honorable defenders of human rights whom I have ever been privileged to meet. As all honest people should, she focused her attention and energy on the actions of her own state and society, for which she shared responsibility ­ including the responsibility, which she never shirked, to expose crimes of state and to defend the victims of repression, violence, and conquest.

Her numerous articles and books drew away the veil that concealed criminal and outrageous actions, and shone a searing light on the reality that was obscured, all of immense value to those who sought to understand and to react in a decent way. Her activism was not limited to words, important as these were. She was on the front line of direct resistance to intolerable actions, an organizer and a participant, a stance that one cannot respect too highly. She will be remembered not only as a resolute and honorable defender of the rights of Palestinians, but also as one of those who have struggled to defend the moral integrity of her own Israeli society, and its hope for decent survival.

Tanya's passing is a terrible loss, not only to her family and those fortunate enough to come to know her personally, and to those she defended and protected with such dedication and courage, but to everyone concerned with freedom, justice, and an honorable peace.


Pelosi and the Democrats: PUT UP OR SHUT UP!

The voters have spoken! They are tired of the foolish and brutal war and occupation of Iraq. They are tired of stripping away our basic civil liberties in the name of the so-called war on terror. They are tired of the far-right agenda which has been the hallmark of the Bush administration and the Republican-controlled Congress. The voters have demanded change. It is time for the Democrats to deliver change or end any pretense of being anything but what they truly are: jackasses promoting a pro-war, anti-worker agenda while at the same time pretending to be something else.

House Speaker-to-be Nancy Pelosi has already said that the Democrats will "rule from the middle." But the politics advanced by the two parties of capital and war have moved so far to the right that "the middle" resembles what would have been mainstream Republicanism a mere 10 years ago.

Progressives, workers, supporters of a rationale foreign policy who voted Democratic in the hope of bringing about change must now insist that the Democratic majority in Congress pass real change. But the sad fact is that on the crucial issues which face our country there is no significant difference between the Democrats and Republicans, and the next two years of a Democratic-controlled Congress will demonstrate that reality.

Some pressure can be brought to bear on the Democrats in order to convince them that change is necessary if they are to retain their new majority. Voters in California can contribute to that pressure by registering to vote with the Peace and Freedom Party. As long as progressives remain in the Democratic Party, they will be taken for granted and their issues will not be addressed by the Democratic leadership. Demonstrate your commitment to change by registering in the only party on the California ballot which stands for fundamental change: a change not in the types of corporations which control us, but an end to corporate control and its replacement with working class control of our economy and society.

Tell the Democrats where you really stand, and how they must move to keep their majority, by telling the Democrats that you stand for real change in our society. Register Peace and Freedom Party tody.

But more importantly, become active in the anti-war, anti-occupation movement, in the movement for workers' rights, in the movement for health care for all. And become active in the Peace and Freedom Party.


Jenny McCarthy - Indigo Mom

AN INDIGO MOM'S INSIGHTS - September 2006

INTERVIEW with DOREEN VIRTUE, Ph.D.

[Editor's Note: Dr. Doreen Virtue is a spiritual doctor of psychology and a fourth-generation metaphysician who works with the angelic, elemental, and ascended-master realms in her writings and workshops. Doreen is the author of more than 20 books about angels, chakras, Crystal Children, Indigo Children, health and diet, and other mind-body-spirit issues, including the best-selling book "The Care and Feeding of Indigo Children.]

Jenny: What is the purpose of Indigo children being here? Doreen: The most important purpose is that these kids are here as Angels. If we medicate them into submission, or tell them that they're broken, their self-esteem will go down and their spiritual gifts will be lost to us. Then there will be one more cycle of going through the darkness and corruption.

The Indigo generation knows who to trust. Their job is to disentangle us from all the corruption going on. That's their big purpose, but if we medicate the Indigos with Ritalin then they become one more generation of apathetic people that say,"Oh well, lie to me."

So that's my big mission, to educate the moms and dads, and educators and medical physicians, and hopefully teach them that there are alternatives to Ritalin. Jenny: What are the alternatives to Ritalin? Doreen: Well, Ritalin acts on a brain chemical called Serotonin. You can increase Serotonin with drugs, but using drugs has all sorts of secondary effects, side effects. You can also increase Serotonin naturally without side effects. Studies show that the number one way to increase Serotonin is twenty minutes of cardiovascular exercise. They’ve done spinal taps, and the fluid shows that exercise instantly increases Serotonin just like a drug does. Unfortunately, physical education classes are being cut from schools.

The second way to increase Serotonin is by going outside in the sunlight. I wrote about this in my book Angel Medicine. We’ve thrown the baby out with the bath water, by telling everyone to put on all these SPF chemicals, and wear sunglasses and hats. A little bit of protection is okay, but now we’ve become sunphobic. We’ve gone in the other direction, and that has caused us to become depressed. It has also actually increased skin cancer, because your eyes are what lets your skin know how much sun is coming in. If you’ve got sunglasses on, your body thinks it’s in the shade, so it doesn’t protect you. Jenny: Can I tell you what I do with Evan, because he’s so sensitive? Evan is sensitive to air and water, he’s that hypersensitive. I can’t put any sunscreen on him, at all. So basically I put him outside during the summer, for about a half an hour, then the next day an hour, to gradually build up the exposure. That’s how I do it. Doreen: Everyone should be sunning, but do it in the morning hours or in the late afternoon. You should not go out at noon, and nobody is saying go get a sunburn, because that’s also not healthy. The ancient Greeks had it right. They would always exercise outdoors, and actually they were naked when they did it, but that wouldn’t work today! [laughter]

The old way of treating disease was called sunning, and it is something that scientists are now looking into. I’m so happy that mainstream articles are coming out now that we do need vitamin D. It’s a major link to protect against breast cancer, too.

But getting back to the kids ... meditation, exercising and being outside in nature are the three things that they need the most. And, they’ve got to be eating healthy foods without a lot of chemicals and processing. You know what’s being sold in school districts, so I've also been very involved in getting junk food and sodas off the campuses. You know, it’s craziness, and it’s all about money. It’s all about how much can the fast food companies make by selling our kids this junk. Jenny: Can you tell moms how important the healthy, high vibrational food is, in terms of their children's health? Doreen: Well, I found that out with my own children, who are now older. When I switched them to an organic diet, the first thing I noticed is that they softened. I have two boys, and like most boys they were rowdy and aggressive. The minute I switched to just salads, to organic lettuce, tomatoes and carrots, their aggressiveness went away naturally within a week. I did an investigation, spiritually and scientifically, and I found that the energy of pesticides is a killer. So when you eat anything with pesticides, you’re actually ingesting something that’s a lethal weapon, and it lowers our vibration. Everything that we eat should be alive. That’s how we get our energy ... food is the life force from the sun, which makes the orange get ripe.

If we’re eating food that’s canned or microwaved or frozen, there is no life force. That life force can’t live in a freezer, a microwave, or a can. That’s why we have no energy, and I think that’s why we have Starbucks on every corner. These kids are going to Starbucks too … my God! I can’t believe when I go to Starbucks … little kids on cell phones with huge Frappuccinos … scary! Jenny: Does it make you crazy, because it makes me crazy? I have this burning desire to go on every media outlet. I’m just taking it slowly, starting with the web site, and building it up. I just don’t understand how moms can still go and drive through McDonald’s. I don’t … Doreen: When I’m in airports, they always have McDonalds and I see little babies in strollers with a cheeseburger in their hand. I’m the same way, I want to go up to them and hand them a pamphlet and say, “Do you know this is why your kid is hyperactive?” Jenny: So having awareness is important. Unfortunately, it’s going to take their kids getting a diagnosis of an illness in order for more people to realize it. Doreen: Yes, this issue is big … in my workshops I’m noticing more physicians coming. Including white, male doctors. Jenny: Really? Doreen: It’s not just the women who care. The establishment is starting to wake up, especially the younger doctors. They prefer not to overmedicate, because they’re sensitive. I think that we’re all becoming more sensitive. So I do have a lot of hope. Everyday I read articles about school districts getting soda off the campuses ... parents standing up for what they want. I really do see that we’re going in the right direction. I just want it to happen faster. Jenny: It worried me when you said that if we don’t make these changes we’re going to have to enter a dark era again. Doreen: You know, I go around the world and speak, and outside of America there’s a lot of free press. You think we have a free media? We don’t. People come up to me and say, “Why did you guys elect Bush again? What’s going on with America?”, and I tell them that we tried. The Indigo kids are very liberal in their thinking and you know that. I really hope that as they get to voting age, it will make a big difference. But there’s so much corruption, it’s beyond the vote. Jenny: I know. Doreen: As Indigos are now becoming adults, then that gives them more power to undo this new electoral process, which is not being taught to them. Jenny: [sighs] I know, I know, but I think it won't happen until the Indigos get past their teenage drug years. You know, if they’re still experimenting. Doreen: Well, they’re self-medicating, because they’ve come in on the tail end of the old energy. It’s not easy living in all this corruption, when you’re so sensitive to whether things are honest or not. I find the Indigo nervous system is wired to figure out dishonesty … is someone trying to fool me? That’s why kids act out in school, because they are reacting to a dinosaur system that has nothing to do with reality. Jenny: Right, and that’s why I want to change schools completely. Doreen: Yes! Jenny: I found a curriculum that has no rote memorization. The second graders are in class with the fourth graders. If they want to learn science today, they go into that section … the children are in charge. I remember sitting in school thinking "I don’t need to know this", as I’m memorizing five chapters of history, and it’s not going to do me any good. It doesn’t. Doreen: Yes, and the Indigos are so honest. In my generation, we would say to the teacher, “Why do I have to learn this?” And the teacher would say, “because you’ll need it some day. Then we would just stuff down the feelings and say okay. Jenny: Right. Doreen: But your generation is the first one to question it, and the reaction that the establishment has is to medicate them. Tell them to just say no to drugs. Jenny: It drives me mad. Doreen: It’s so hypocritical. There’s this resistance to change. There’s this type of human called a left-brained dominant person who is very rule bound, very egalitarian. You meet them and they say, well the rules don’t allow us … and that’s who teaches us and that’s who handles the big teaching establishments, because they feel comfortable with rules. Jenny: But these Indigos that are growing up are going to become teachers one day. Doreen: Yes, well … the Columbine kids were Indigos, and that’s what happens when Indigos don’t have an outlet for their expression that the school system sucks. So we as adults have to shepard kids and teach them how to become activists, because the Indigos don’t know how to express the anger they feel about war, pollution, corruption, and their school system. They need us to teach them how to handle these feelings in an adult manner. Jenny: How can a mom at home teach their kid that right now? Doreen: I would think that most parents who are thirty or older have been activists at some point. I mean most of us went through it, if not Vietnam, then we went through something where we’ve written letters to the Editor, we’ve talked to city council members, or talked to school boards or picket launches.

The biggest and the best weapon we have in being an activist is boycotts. That’s how Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. changed the world, because it hits people in their pocketbooks. That’s it, it’s all about money these days. All that the corporations look at is the bottom line. The parents should be involved in helping their kids be activists. When I was little, my mom campaigned for Kennedy and she took me with her to get petitions signed to get him elected. Jenny: Wow! Doreen: And that was so cool. Jenny: That’s really smart having kids do it with you. Doreen: Yeah! Take your kids to marches, take them to city council. There are stories you can find in news archives of kids who are talking to city councils and starting their own advocacy groups. You’re never too young to start.

The second thing parents can do is help their children understand how to prioritize. These kids get so overwhelmed by what they feel is their mission that they need to learn how to break down these goals into baby steps. I always say they don’t need Ritalin, they need a Day Timer book. They need to learn how to schedule ... okay Monday, I do this, Tuesday I do this. The difference in psychology between someone who is ADHD and someone who is not, is that gifted people finish what they start. We as parents need to model that for our kids, because parents can be a little ADD too. One of the reasons I’m sober is because I don’t want my kids to see me use any chemicals to deal with stress. I see that when my son is stressed he goes to the gym, because that’s what I’ve modeled for him. Jenny: That’s so great. Doreen: Having these kids is such an opportunity for us to be the best we can be, to finish what we started, to be chemical free, to live how we imagine our life should be. Jenny: That’s so true. Let me ask you a couple of questions from moms who visit my website...

What types of questions can moms ask their children to find out about their child's past life or their angels? Doreen: Your child looks around, because angels and guides tend to be around someone’s head and shoulders. So as the child is looking around and focusing on your head and shoulders, you encourage them. Make sure that you and your body don’t have any fear, because a child will pick up on it and it will shut them down. One thing you can do is color and draw with them and say, you know this is what I think my angel looks like. What do you think? Just make it real casual. Keep them open. Jenny: That's great. On our site we have a couple of mothers who have adopted Indigo children...

Can you give us some insight about the adopted Indigo kids? Doreen: Well, the way it’s been explained to me spiritually, children contract with who their guardians are going to be before they come in. We all do. So the children get to us one way or another. The child’s soul will choose who their guardian is going to be, and if there is a block in the parent's biological reproductive organs, or it’s a gay couple or a single person, the child will get to that destined parent one way or another.

In the ultimate sense, the adopted child is the child of the parent, because it’s not about how the bodies are related. The soul is more important and more lasting, so they are relatives by virtue of their soul connection. It was predestined and prearranged before incarnation. You would raise an adopted child the same as a birth child. The only difference would be that some adoptive kids might have a little edge of toughness to them, because of their early experiences. What’s very important is that you don’t reinforce or focus on that toughness or call it a problem, because it will just increase. Look at it as a little fence, and just look past the fence and see the gentle pastures over the fence. Focus on that and that’s what will come forward, because the pasture is always bigger than the fence. Jenny: Wow! I love that.

When you ask your angels for help or you pray to your angels, is there a better way of asking or praying to your child’s guardian angels for them to get healthy? Doreen: Well, there’s no one right way, because all the angels need is our permission. So we can think the thought, please help my child. We can say it out loud. We can scream it. We can write a letter. Are you asking what should we pray for? Jenny: Yes. Doreen: What I always counseled parents to do is make it a ritual as you’re falling asleep each night, and when you wake up each morning, to thank the angels, and in particular Archangel Michael, for protecting your children and you. It’s okay to ask specifically for them for that night or that day. If it’s an older Indigo child and they’re out partying, it’s okay to say please get them home safely tonight, or please help them to be screened from anyone who might not be the best person to hang out with.

Give your angels a laundry list of whatever you’re worried about and the angels will take care of it. What I’ve learned from working with so many audiences, worldwide for eleven years now, is that you really have to ask for everything you specifically want. Then I always add a little clause in my contract, "this or something better”, because we tend to limit ourselves. Just like with your new school idea ... maybe the angels have a palace in mind for you, you never know. You never know what they’ve got in store. So I say I want this, this, this, this, and this, or something better. They always exceed my expectations. Jenny: That’s great! I love that one. Neimen Marcus prayers, you know? I love that so much. Doreen: The other thing that’s really good is to make a list and you call it, “Thank You Universe.” And you write down everything you want, but you write it thanking the Universe right now. Thank you Universe for … and it can be material things, spiritual things, little, big, or small. Thank you that my child is perfectly healthy, his sniffles are gone, etc … and they all come true. I keep a list like that on my computer. Jenny: I do it every year on my birthday, isn’t that funny? I write it down. Some more questions ... Have you heard of Crystal children having a lot of nightmares? Doreen: Well, Crystal children are particularly psychic and sensitive, so if they have nightmares it’s because they are like the movie Sixth Sense. They are benevolent lights that can attract earthbound spirits just like the little boy Cole did in the movie. The dead people came to him because they knew that he could see them and that he could help them. That happened to me as a child. Jenny: Oh, me too. Doreen: Yeah, and they looked like opaque three-dimensional people. They didn’t look like ghosts, and I didn’t know they were dead. They weren’t relatives that I recognized. A lot of the nightmares that children are having are either experiences connecting with earthbound spirits, or they are being shown an alternative future of the earth that isn’t pretty. Jenny: Wow! Doreen: The dreams are a way to show them that this is how you’re going to help us if we go this way, or this is how you’re going to prevent this from happening. Crystal children are so sensitive to world energies that they pick up on calamities like earthquakes and plane crashes around the world, so they’re not nightmares in the traditional sense of alligators under the bed or boogey men. These are real experiences they’re having. Same with their good dreams. They’re not normal dreams, their brains are discharging emotions from the day. Jenny: I definitely know there is something going on. Evan stands up and has a full conversation in his bed. I’m like, oh my God. His eyes are open and he’s talking to me. Doreen: I used to do that as a kid. Jenny: Yeah, it’s so wild to watch him. Doreen: What we’re doing is we’re witnessing a whole generation of spiritual masters, like little Harry Potters and Mother Theresas being born, and they’re going to populate the planet. By the time the Mayan calendar ends in 2012-15, they are going to be teenagers, and they’re going to be coming of voting age. The Angels show me visions of where we’re going, with new things like fast food organic restaurants. Jenny: Right. Doreen: You know everything’s going to be so natural. This is really radical stuff, but they’ve shown me that the polar ice caps melting and the greenhouse effect is really a blessing. Jenny: I think that too. Doreen: Everyone’s screaming and Al Gore’s screaming and I’m saying, NO! Jenny: I think it’s a good thing. Doreen: You know what they told me? We’re going to run out of fresh water by that time, and the melting polar caps are going to give us fresh water. We’re supposed to become tropical again like we were before. The trees are going to grow mangoes and guavas and pineapples and bananas to give us fresh water, and fresh organic fruits that have the life force of the sun in them. Where we’re going reminds me of a little Fred Flintstone-ville, it’s like a jungle and it’s beautiful. Jenny: I absolutely believe that. For some reason, like for my new school, I want to learn how to plant foods and then we can eat them right off the tree or bush... Doreen: Yeah and get rid of Monsanto... Jenny: Get rid of cars... Doreen: Yeah, and get rid of jobs that are meaningless. So that everybody’s working at self-employment or something meaningful to them. I mean if we could get rid of people going to jobs just for money. Jenny: It’s happening already. Doreen: It's because of the Indigo generation. Your generation is demanding that things that aren’t supportive of Light go away. Jenny: Thank God. Doreen: Thank you. You guys are here to save the world. Not any pressure. You know there are so many Indigos in Australia who are so open hearted, it makes me cry. Jenny: We have them on our site. They’ve found us. Yay! Doreen: When I go to Australia, I cry, because those Indigos, they ask what do I do? And I can’t tell people what to do. Their angels have to tell them. But they’re so ready. The Indigos of the world need a leader. They need a Joan of Arc. Jenny: I’d talk to them. Doreen: They do, they need a Joan of Arc to say, “follow me!” Jenny: I will. I will be doing national news next May with my new book. Doreen: Great! Jenny: Well, Doreen thank you so much for taking time in your busy schedule to chat with me and answer questions for the Indigo Moms.

Doreen: You're welcome Jenny! It was my pleasure.

© Jenny McCarthy 2006


Sunday, March 18, 2007

Congress, End the War

... Democrats should recognize that the time has come to use the full power accorded Congress in time of war: the power of the purse. As Senator Russ Feingold says, "Some will claim that cutting off funding for the war would endanger our brave troops on the ground. Not true. The safety of our servicemen and -women in Iraq is paramount, and we can and should end funding for the war without putting our troops in further danger." Instead of negotiating with Bush to give him another year of his war before facing consequences, Democrats should refuse to write another blank check. They should instead support Representative Barbara Lee's proposal to fully fund the withdrawal of US soldiers and military contractors from Iraq. Lee would give military commanders the resources they need to withdraw all troops by the end of the year by mandating that emergency supplemental funding be used only for that purpose. ...

The 12th Annual Anarchist Bookfair Rolls with the Fog

by Erika Ransom Saturday Mar 17th, 2007 10:37 PM

A day of chilly weather and San Francisco fog didn’t stop thousands of people from trekking out to Golden Gate Park and enjoying the first day of the 12th Annual Anarchist Bookfair on Saturday. The bookfair continues Sunday, March 18 from 11am-5pm at the County Fair Building in Golden Gate Park. --> A day of chilly weather and San Francisco fog didn’t stop thousands of people from trekking out to Golden Gate Park and enjoying the first day of the 12th Annual Anarchist Bookfair on Saturday. The bicycle parking area provided by the SF Bicycle Coalition was filled by noon with bikes of every make and size, and by 4pm the County Fair Building’s main hall was filled to capacity as people wandered between the rows of vendor tables laden with books, posters, t-shirts, free literature, patches and DVDs, groups from all over the west coast and beyond. It was quite a sight! Having speakers in the cafe was a new addition, and I particularly enjoyed savoring a vegan chocolate cookie and coffee from from Arizmendi, a local worker-owned café, while being part of the crowd drawn into Michelle Tea’s tale from her latest book. Panel discussions such as “Strategies to Uproot War and Empire Panel” also added another dimension this year, creating more energy, conversations and dialogue. Ward Churchill closed the day with a passionate and articulate speech calling for unity between people struggling for justice. It was a strong reminder that although we may have our differences of opinion and sometimes not even get along personally, we need to work together. The forces of the status quo-–private security corporations such as Black Water, the army, police and federal agents, to name a few–are definitely united against us. Only together can we progress towards liberation and freedom from oppression. The 12th Annual Bay Area Anarchist Bookfair continues tomorrow, Sunday, March 18, from 11am-4pm at the County Fair Building in Golden Gate Park (Lincoln Way and 9th). Again, there will be many interesting speakers and panels, such as Wendy-o Matik’s talk about open relationships and the power of radical love (1:30pm), the Power and Democracy in Revolutionary Latin America Panel (2pm) and the Resisting State Repression Panel (3pm). The full schedule is posted on the bookfair's website, http://www.bayareaanarchistbookfair.org/. http://www.bayareaanarchistbookfair.org/ lots of fun photo by Erika Ransom Saturday Mar 17th, 2007 11:02 PM

http://sfbookfair.wordpress.com/


Cryptographer Solves Psychic Challenge

In January, James Randi secured a mystery item in a specially designated locker in his Florida office, and challenged clairvoyants everywhere to use their remote viewing skills to divine its nature and claim a million dollar prize. As usual with Randi's contests, there's weren't a lot of takers in the professional psychic biz. But for perhaps the first time in the history of the supernatural challenges issued by the 79-year-old skeptic, there was a winner of sorts. Cryptographer Matt Blaze and a colleague correctly identified the contents of Randi's black box from a thousand miles away, using only the powers of their minds.

BERKELEY / Getting naked to save oak grove

There was some naked tree hugging in Berkeley on Saturday, even though it was cold out, and someone took lots of pictures. Seventy-eight performance artists, models, protesters and their supporters stripped down for the camera in a grove of oak trees at UC Berkeley that could fall to make room for an athletic training center. The au-naturel visitors joined a half-dozen activists who have lived in the trees since December to protest Cal's plan to raze the grove near Memorial Stadium. Only five nudists actually climbed the trees. Everyone else found it more prudent to lie on the ground. San Francisco photographer Jack Gescheidt arranged the nude photo shoot as part of his "Tree Sprit Project," a series of photos showing naked people in and around large trees. "What I do is show people at the most vulnerable -- naked -- with trees to illustrate the relationship and beauty of nature," he said. "I hope to do a quiet, reverential photo of people and trees. . . . Humans are drawn to trees. They are important to us in ways that can be difficult to describe in words. My work is all about recognizing and capturing the power of that connection." His photos tend to have an artistic, even reverential, tone, and this is the first project to be so overtly political. "The people up in those trees are not crazy, they are doing something beautiful and important," Gescheidt said. "They don't need to destroy this grove." UC wants to remove about three dozen trees to build a $125 million athletic training center that's part of a larger project that would also upgrade Memorial Stadium, which is bisected by the Hayward Fault and could collapse in a strong earthquake. An Alameda County Superior Court judge granted an injunction on Jan. 29 putting a halt, for now, to the plan, ruling that UC did not adequately address the seismic risks of building on or near an earthquake fault. The participants in Saturday's photo shoot ranged from longtime nudists and activists to performance artists and dancers. Gescheidt has done a variety of nude photos, including a well-known picture of nude roller skaters going down a San Francisco street. "This is an activity I am proud to support and honored to be part of," said Debbie Moore, a co-founder of Berkeley's nude theater troupe X-plicit Players. She said she has been arrested dozens of times and faced trial seven times for public nudity. "Besides, I never turn down a chance to take off my clothes." Adriana Echandi, 18, said she was excited but nervous about her first foray into public nudity -- so much so that she would not say where she lives or where she goes to school. "I didn't know what to expect," she said. "I'm glad it's warming up." About a hundred curious onlookers gathered as the activists stripped down, and some broke out cameras and even camcorders to record the event for posterity or other reasons. A few burly young men wore clothing emblazoned with the words "Stanford Rugby." The team lost to Cal Saturday, 83-0. "Don't say we're from Stanford," one player joked, using his hand to cover the Stanford logo on his shirt. "We'll be blamed if anything goes wrong." Shawn Alexander, who came from Fresno to visit her daughter Madison at Cal, was a bit surprised to see naked people in trees. "I can confirm there is nothing like this going on Fresno," she said with a laugh. Her daughter could only shrug and say, "This is the perfect 'only in Berkeley moment' to show to your mom." Most of the participants quickly clothed themselves after the shoot and left. But a few lingered, nude, to take photos. Jess Walsh has been living in one of the oaks since December, and she was in no hurry to put her clothes back on. "I'm having too much fun," she said. "This is liberating. I feel totally free. I recommend that everyone try getting naked in a big tree sometime." images

*Miscellaneous Day*

Allegro con spirito - 3 min. Adagio - 4 min. 30 Allegro gentile - 2 min. 35 http://lightisreal.com/quantumphysics.html Quantum Physics Empower Yourself With Seven Principles of Quantum Physics and Mind Creation 1. Realize that most of you Light Workers don't really want to learn quantum physics or quantum theory. It's just lot of math! You who search for books or writings on quantum physics really want the implications of quantum theory for your life. You want to know how to use quantum principles to create the life of your dreams! 2. The implications of quantum physics truly empower you. See how the five basic quantum "meanings" below enable you to enjoy a richer life. 3. Our physical universe is shapeable! Yes, quantum physics teaches us that our physical reality is moldable, and this truth excites a lot of us. It means we can create what we want, if we work with the quantum laws. 4. Our thoughts shape the universe and the matter we see. Quantum research proves that particles of light and matter behave differently when we humans "watch" them! We co-create our physical universe via the power of our minds, by using "holographic creations" made from waves of sound and light. 5. Energy follows thought. Thought is the essence of power, and focused thought is focused power. Much of the thought that creates our worlds is weak, scattered, and unfocused. With practice, you can learn to focus your mind's power and create the reality you want and deserve. 6. The laws of quantum physics show that everything must be created first in the inner world. The inner reality is the matrix, the blueprint, or divine design, and then physical matter is attracted to this "template" by the laws of quantum attraction. This is how the world you see comes into existence! 7. You can learn the techniques of spiritual pre-creation through practice and training. Once you learn this quantum process, you can easily manifest what you want in the "outer" reality. What other skill is as fun and important to learn as how to manifest and create in your inner world? My book on "I Create Reality" teaches you how to use these quantum skills and techniques to create the life you want for yourself. I don't teach you the math of quantum mechanics, just how to apply the inner creation principles in your life. You may want to view this short four minute video that explains more about reality and quantum physics. The music is really fun too, performed by my little brother! http://life-coach-articles.blogspot.com/2007/03/miles-davis-knew-secret.html Miles Davis knew the secret....

EZTigger's ~~ Snakefeather

Psychedelic / Jam Band / Alternative http://www.myspace.com/snakefeather Here... & Here... Check em out!

Saturday, March 17, 2007

D.C. Protest

"More chanting. Bush and Cheney are preparing new war against Iran! The Democrats suck! We have to stop this war! We have to drive out the Bush regime! We need more protests! We haven't seen the campuses shut down! ..." ... Crowd leaving. They don't look happy. Or empowered.

Reclaiming What Makes Us Human

Through the ages, the killjoys of governing elites have been threatened by public expressions of collective joy By Barbara Ehrenreich In These Times March 9, 2007 The enemies of festivity have argued for centuries that festivities and ecstatic rituals are incompatible with civilization. In our own time, the incompatibility of festivity with industrialization, market economies and a complex division of labor is usually simply assumed, in the same way that Freud assumed--or posited--the incompatibility of civilization and unbridled sexual activity. In other words, if you want antibiotics and heated buildings and air travel, you must abstain from taking hold of the hands of strangers and dancing in the streets. The presumed incompatibility of civilization and collective ecstatic traditions presents a kind of paradox: Civilization is good--right?--and builds on many fine human traits such as intelligence, self-sacrifice and technological craftiness. But ecstatic rituals are also good, and expressive of our artistic temperament and spiritual yearnings as well as our solidarity. So how can civilization be regarded as a form of progress if it precludes something as distinctively human, and deeply satisfying, as the collective joy of festivities and ecstatic rituals? In a remarkable 1952 essay titled "The Decline of the Choral Dance," Paul Halmos wrote that the ancient and universal tradition of the choral dance--meaning the group dance, as opposed to the relatively recent, European-derived practice of dancing in couples--was an expression of our "group-ward drives" and "biological sociality." Hence its disappearance within complex societies, and especially within industrial civilization, can only represent a "decline of our biosocial life"--a painfully disturbing conclusion. Perhaps the problem with civilization is simply a matter of scale: Ecstatic rituals and festivities seem to have evolved to bind people in groups of a few hundred at a time--a group size at which it is possible for each participant to hear the same (unamplified) music and see all the other participants at once. Civilizations, however, tend to involve many thousands--or in our time, millions--of people bound by economic interdependencies, military exigency and law. In a large society, ancient or modern, an emotional sense of bonding is usually found in mass spectacles that can be witnessed by thousands--or with television, even billions--of people at a time. Ours is what the French theorist Guy Debord called the "society of the spectacle," which he described as occurring in "an epoch without festivals." Instead of generating their own collective pleasures, people absorb, or consume, the spectacles of commercial entertainment, nationalist rituals and the consumer culture, with its endless advertisements for the pleasure of individual ownership. Debord bemoaned the passivity engendered by constant spectatorship, announcing that "the spectacle is the nightmare of imprisoned modern society which ultimately expresses nothing more than its desire to sleep." But there is no obvious reason why festivities and ecstatic rituals can't survive within large-scale societies. Whole cities were swept up in the French Revolution's Festival of Federation in 1790, with lines of dancers extending from the streets and out into the countryside. Rock events have sometimes drawn tens of thousands for days of peaceful dancing and socializing. Modern Brazil still celebrates Carnaval and Trinidad preserves its Carnival. Recent nonviolent uprisings, like Ukraine's Orange Revolution, invariably feature rock or rap music, dancing in the streets, and "costuming" in the revolution-appropriate color. There is no apparent limit on the number of people who can celebrate together. Nor can the growing size of human societies explain the long hostility of elites to their people's festivities and ecstatic rituals--a hostility that goes back at least to the city-states of ancient Greece, which contained only a few tens of thousands of people each. No, the repression of festivities and ecstatic rituals over the centuries was the conscious work of men, and occasionally women, who saw in them a real and urgent threat. The aspect of "civilization" that is most hostile to festivity is not capitalism or industrialism--both of which are fairly recent innovations--but social hierarchy, which is far more ancient. When one class, or ethnic group or gender, rules over a population of subordinates, it comes to fear the empowering rituals of the subordinates as a threat to civil order. For example, in late medieval Europe, and later the Caribbean, first the elite withdrew from the festivities, whether out of fear or in an effort to maintain its dignity and distance from the hoi polloi. The festivities continued for a while without them and continued to serve their ancient function of building group unity among the participants. But since the participants are now solely, or almost solely, members of the subordinate group or groups, their unity inevitably presented a challenge to the ruling parties, a challenge that may be articulated in carnival rituals that mock the king and Church. In much of the world, it was the conquering elite of European colonizers that imposed itself on native cultures and saw their rituals as "savage" and menacing from the start. This is the real bone of contention between civilization and collective ecstasy: Ecstatic rituals still build group cohesion, but when they build it among subordinates--peasants, slaves, women, colonized people--the elite calls out its troops. In one way, the musically driven celebrations of subordinates may be more threatening to elites than overt political threats. Even kings and colonizers can feel the invitational power of the music. Why did 19th century European colonizers so often describe the dancing natives as "out of control"? The ritual participants hadn't lost control of their actions and were in fact usually performing carefully rehearsed rituals. The "loss of control" is what the colonizers feared would happen to themselves. In some cases, the temptation might be projected onto others, especially the young. In the fairy tale, the Pied Piper used his pipe to lure away the children from a German town. Rock 'n' roll might have been more acceptable to adults in the '50s if it could have been contained within the black population, instead of percolating out to a generation of young whites. ----------------------- But elite hostility to Dionysian festivities goes beyond pragmatic concerns about the possibility of uprisings or the seduction of the young. Philosophically, too, elites cringe from the spectacle of disorderly public joy. Hierarchy, by its nature, establishes boundaries between people--who can go where, who can approach whom, who is welcome, and who is not. Festivity breaks the boundaries down. While hierarchy is about exclusion, festivity generates inclusiveness. The music invites everyone to the dance; shared food briefly undermines the privilege of class. As for masks, they may serve symbolic, ritual functions, but, to the extent that they conceal identity, they also dissolve the difference between stranger and neighbor, making the neighbor temporarily strange and the stranger no more foreign than anyone else. No source of human difference or identity is immune to the carnival challenge: cross-dressers defy gender just as those who costume as priests and kings mock power and rank. At the height of the festivity, we step out of our assigned roles and statuses--of gender, ethnicity, tribe and rank--and into a brief utopia defined by egalitarianism, creativity and mutual love. This is how danced rituals and festivities served to bind prehistoric human groups, and this is what still beckons us today. So civilization, as humans have known it for thousands of years, has this fundamental flaw: It tends to be hierarchical, with some class or group wielding power over the majority, and hierarchy is antagonistic to the festive and ecstatic tradition. (Whether this is an inherent feature of civilization, we do not know, though advocates of genuine democracy can only hope that this is not the case. Contemporary anarchists and socialists differ on this point, with some proposing complex methods of grassroots democratic planning that would presumably abolish hierarchy of all kinds while preserving modern means of production. Michael Albert proposes such a system in his 2003 book Parecon. Others, most notably the anarchist thinker John Zerzan, argue that the problem goes much deeper, and that we cannot achieve true democracy without eliminating industrialization and possibly the entire division of labor.) This leaves hierarchical societies with no means of holding people together except for mass spectacles--and force. Contemporary civilization, which, for all its democratic pretensions, is egregiously hierarchical along lines of class and race and gender, may unite millions in economic interdependency, but it "unites" them with no strong affective ties. We who inhabit the wealthier parts of the world may be aware of our dependence on Chinese factory workers, Indian tech workers and immigrant janitors, but we do not know these people or, for the most part, have any interest in them. We barely know our neighbors and, all too often, see our fellow workers as competitors. If civilization offers few forms of communal emotional connection other than those provided by the occasional televised war or celebrity funeral, it would seem to be a rather hollow business. ----------------------- We pay a high price for this emotional emptiness. Individually, we suffer from social isolation and depression, which, while usually not fatal on their own, are risk factors for cardiovascular and a host of other diseases. Collectively, we seem to have trouble coming to terms with our situation, which grows more ominous every day. Half the world's people live in debilitating poverty. Epidemics devastate whole nations. The icecaps melt, and natural disasters multiply. But we remain for the most part paralyzed, lacking the means or will to organize for our survival. In fact the very notion of the "collective," of the common good, has been eroded by the self-serving agendas of the powerful--their greed and hunger for still more power. Throughout the world (capitalist and postcommunist), decades of conservative social policy have undermined any sense of mutual responsibility and placed the burden of risk squarely on the individual or the family. The family is all we need, America's ostensibly Christian evangelicists tell us--a fit container for all our social loyalties and yearnings. But this, if anything, represents a kind of evolutionary regression. Insofar as we compress our sociality into the limits of the family, we do not so much resemble our Paleolithic human ancestors as we do those far earlier prehuman primates who had not yet discovered the danced ritual as a "biotechnology" for the formation of larger groups. Humans had the wisdom, wit and generosity to reach out to unrelated others; hominids huddled with their kin. Our civilization has its compensatory pleasures of course. Most often cited is the consumer culture, which encourages us to deflect our desires into the acquisition and display of things: the new car, or shoes, or face-lift, which will enhance our status and make us less lonely, or so we are promised. The mall may be a dreary place compared to a late medieval English fair, but it offers goods undreamed of in that humbler setting--conveniences and temptations from around the globe. We have "entertainment" too, in the form of movies; ever-available, iPod-delivered music for solitary enjoyment; computer games; and, possibly, coming soon, experiences in virtual reality. And we have drugs, both legal and illegal, to lift the depression, calm the anxiety and bolster our self-confidence. It is a measure of our general deprivation that the most common referent for ecstasy in usage today is not an experience but a drug, MDMA, that offers fleeting feelings of euphoria and connectedness. But these compensatory pleasures do not satisfy our longings. Anyone who can resist addiction to the consumer culture, the entertainments, and the drugs arrives sooner or later at the conclusion that "something's missing." What that might be is hard to pin down and finds expression in vague formulations such as "spirituality" or "community." Intellectuals regularly issue thoughtful screeds on the missing glue in our society, the absence of strong bonds connecting us to those outside our families. In 1985, Robert Bellah et al.'s book Habits of the Heart: Individuals and Commitment in American Life found Americans caught up in their personal ambitions, unable to imagine any larger sense of community. In 2000, Robert D. Putnam published Bowling Alone: The Collapse and Revival of American Community, in which he reported a decline not just in civic participation but in any kind of group activity. There is even an intellectual current called communitarianism, which aims to somehow restore the social cohesion characteristic of smaller, less divided societies, and its adherents have included such notables as Bill and Hillary Clinton. For most people, though, the "something" that's missing is most readily replaced by religion. Far from withering away, as Marx predicted, religion has undergone a spectacular revival, especially in the largely Christian United States and the Muslim parts of the world. People find many things in their religions--a sense of purpose and metaphysical explanations for human suffering, for example. They may also find a sense of community--the umma of Islam or the neighborliness of a small-town church. The anthropomorphized God of Christianity, in particular, is himself a kind of substitute for human solidarity, an invisible loving companion who counsels and consoles. Like a genuinely caring community, he is said to be a cure for depression, alienation, loneliness, and even mundane, all-too-common addictions to alcohol and drugs. But compared to the danced religions of the past, today's "faiths" are often pallid affairs--if only by virtue of the very fact that they are "faiths," dependent on, and requiring, belief as opposed to direct knowledge. The prehistoric ritual dancer, the maenad of ancient Greece or the Caribbean practitioner of Vodou, did not believe in her god or gods; she knew them, because, at the height of group ecstasy, they filled her with their presence. Modern Christians may have similar experiences, but the primary requirement of their religion is belief, meaning an effort of the imagination. Dionysus, in contrast, did not ask his followers for their belief or faith; he called on them to apprehend him directly, to let him enter, in all his madness and glory, their bodies and their minds. ----------------------- For all kinds of reasons, then, our imaginary "unconverted savage" might despair over what civilization has wrought. He would bemoan the absence of the gods, which is manifested by the new requirement that they be summoned by the imagination, through interior faith rather than through shared ritual. He would be baffled by the fact that our great reproductive achievement as a species--the huge population, even overpopulation, of the earth--routinely leads to frustration and hostility, rather than to an enrichment of individual experience. He would cringe from the misery around him--the poverty and disease that our technological cunning has proved incapable of relieving. Above all, he would be stricken to find his species on what may be the verge of extinction--through pandemics, global warming, the nuclear threat and the exhaustion of resources--yet too isolated from one another to stand together, as early Homo sapiens once learned to do, and mount any sort of mutual defense. We try, of course. Many millions of people around the world are engaged in movements for economic justice, peace, equality and environmental reclamation, and these movements are often incubators for the solidarity and celebration so missing in our usual state of passive acquiescence. Yet there appears to be no constituency today for collective joy itself. In fact, the very term collective joy is largely unfamiliar and exotic. This silence demands some sort of explanation, so let us give the enemies of festivity--or at least the revolutionaries among them, like Robespierre and Lenin--their due. What is lost is not that important, they would argue, should they be good-humored enough to even entertain the argument. And indeed you would have to be a fool, or a drug-addled hippie, to imagine that a restoration of festivity and ecstatic ritual would get us out of our current crisis, or even to imagine that such activities could be restored in our world today, with anything like their original warmth and meaningfulness. No amount of hand-holding or choral dancing will bring world peace and environmental healing. In fact, festivities have served at times to befuddle or becalm their celebrants. European carnival coexisted with tyranny for centuries, hence the common "safety valve" theory of their social function. Native American Ghost Dancers could not reverse genocide with their ecstatic rituals; nor could colonized Africans render themselves bulletproof by dancing into a trance. In the face of desperately serious threats to group survival, the ecstatic ritual can be a waste of energy--or worse. The Haitian dictator Fançois "Papa Doc" Duvalier actually encouraged Vodou as a means of strengthening his grip on the population. My own Calvinist impulses--inherited in part from those of my ancestors who were genuine Calvinists, Presbyterian Scots--tell me insistently to get the work done, save the world and then maybe there'll be time for celebration. In the face of poverty, misery, and possible extinction, there is no time, or justification, for the contemplation of pleasure of any kind, these inner voices say. Close your ears to the ever-fainter sound of drums or pipes; the wild carnival and danced ritual belong to a distant time. The maenads are long dead, a curiosity for the classicists; the global "natives" have been subdued. Forget the past, which is half imagined anyway, and get to work. ----------------------- And yet ... It does not go away, this ecstatic possibility. Despite centuries of repression, despite the competing allure of spectacles, festivity keeps bubbling up, and in the most unlikely places. The rock rebellion broke through the anxious conformity of post-war America and generated an entire counterculture. Then, at the other end of the cultural spectrum, where the spectacle of athleticism merged with nationalism, people undertook to carnivalize sports events, reclaiming them as occasions for individual creativity and collective joy. Religions, too, still generate ecstatic undertakings, like the annual Hasidic pilgrimage to the Ukrainian town of Uman, which has sprung up just since the fall of communism and features thousands of Hasidic men, dressed entirely in white, dancing and singing in the streets in honor of their dead rebbe. The impulse to public celebration lives on, seizing its opportunities as they come. When Iran, which is surely one of the world's more repressive states, qualified for the World Cup in 1997, "celebrations paralyzed Tehran," according to Newsweek. "Women ripped off their government-mandated veils; men gave out paper cups of strictly forbidden vodka as teenagers danced in the streets." There are also cases of people coming together and creating festivity out of nothing, or at least without the excuse of a commercial concert or athletic event. Thousands of women gather every summer for the Michigan Womyn's Music Festival, described on its Web site as "the best party on the planet." Gay male culture features "circuit parties," involving dancing and some times costuming, and, with some help from chemical stimulants, these can go on for days. It was gay culture, too, that first appropriated Halloween as an adult holiday, now celebrated with parades of costumed people of all sexual inclinations. We might also note such recently invented festivities as the Berlin Love parade, an outdoor dance party that has attracted more than a million people at a time, or the annual Burning Man event in the Black Rock Desert in Nevada, where thousands of people of all ages gather annually to create art, to dance and to paint and costume themselves. And whatever its shortcomings as a means to social change, protest movements keep reinventing carnival. Almost every demonstration I have been to over the years--antiwar, feminist or for economic justice--has featured some element of the carnivalesque: costumes, music, impromptu dancing, the sharing of food and drink. The media often deride the carnival spirit of such protests, as if it were a self-indulgent distraction from the serious political point. But seasoned organizers know that gratification cannot be deferred until after "the revolution." The Texas populist Jim Hightower, for example, launched a series of "Rolling Thunder" events around the country in the early 2000s, offering music, food, and plenty of conviviality, and with the stated aim of "putting the party back in politics." People must find, in their movement, the immediate joy of solidarity, if only because, in the face of overwhelming state and corporate power, solidarity is their sole source of strength. In fact, there has been, in the last few years, a growing carnivalization of protest demonstrations, perhaps especially among young "antiglobalization" activists in Europe, Latin America, Canada and the United States. They wear costumes--most famously, the turtle suits symbolizing environmental concerns at the huge Seattle protest of 1999. They put on masks or paint their faces; they bring drums to their demonstrations and sometimes dance through the streets; they send up the authorities with street theater and effigies. A Seattle newspaper reported of the 1999 demonstrations: "The scene ... resembled a New Year's Eve party: People banged on drums, blew horns and tossed flying discs through the air. One landed at the foot of a police officer, who threw it back to the crowd amid cheers." The urge to transform one's appearance, to dance outdoors, to mock the powerful and embrace perfect strangers is not easy to suppress. And why, in the end, would anyone want to? The capacity for collective joy is encoded into us almost as deeply as the capacity for the erotic love of one human for another. We can live without it, as most of us do, but only at the risk of succumbing to the solitary nightmare of depression. Why not reclaim our distinctively human heritage as creatures who can generate their own ecstatic pleasures out of music, color, feasting and dance? Barbara Ehrenreich is a journalist and author, who writes regularly for The Progressive, Harper’s, Time and In These Times, where she is a contributing editor. Her recent books include Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting by in America and Blood Rites: Origins and History of the Passions of War. http://www.inthesetimes.com/main/print/3060/

Friday, March 16, 2007

Magic Bike,(Thanks air ono)

Luscious Jackson Naked Eye Wearing nothing is divine Naked is a state of mind I take things off to clear my head To say the things I haven't said I live inside the elements The earth and sky are my best friends Water is the evidence That washes me from end to end With my naked eye I saw all the falling rain Coming down on me With my naked eye I saw all if I said it all I could see It's not a choice I tried to make It's not a thought I couldn't take Something told me it was time To give you yours and leave me mine My vision started to be clear I watched the sunlight coming near I knew the day I knew the night I knew I could regain my sight And it feels alright Last night I came into your home To break some ice and throw some stones I asked if we could be alone I had some troubles of my own Knew I had to say goodbye To all the old things held inside If I let the moment fly I knew they'd all be magnified And it feels alright Came around after dark You are nothing but a lark Know I snuck in like a narc I knew I had to leave my mark Wanted to be satisfied I tried to be dignified Wearing nothing is divine Naked is a state of mind And it feels alright It feels alright http://www.animazeinc.com/SOUND/NakedEye.mp3

Higher Anarchy

Missoula Free School shakes a fist at traditional hierarchy to educate the community

image

Photos by Hugh Carey / Montana Kaimin

Story by Jacob Baynham | March 16, 2007 Montana Kaimin

It’s a ramshackle house, tucked somewhere between the tin-sheet warehouses and tumbling arteries of Malfunction Junction. The fence separating it from the street is made of old bicycle wheels bolted into a barrier of blinking chrome. A sprawling outdoor fireplace cooks quinoa dinners and warms the residents, spitting embers late into the night. A small greenhouse below the porch has a crop of chard, mustard greens, wheat grass and garlic peeping from its loam.

Inside the house, where the air is still tangy with the scent of curried tofu, people bustle around a room lined wall to wall with books. A classical guitar sits in the corner. Atop bookshelves and cupboards, four vases hold the remnants of long-withered flowers.

In one vase, a dozen blood-tone roses stand under a halo of babies’ breath. They were pulled from Dumpsters. Now they are resurrected.

The house is known as the Laboratory for the “crazy, social and material experiments and projects” that come out of it. The house is dispatch headquarters for the Missoula Free School, a small but growing anarchist group seeking an end to the elitism, passivity and hierarchy of traditional education. The house is the home of the majority of the group’s members. Step on in, have something to eat.

And welcome to the revolution.

Wally Catton, one of two victims of a random assault on Higgins Avenue in 2005, is part of the group, a young man as quick with his smiles as he is warm with his hellos. He’d grab you by the hand, but right now he’s covered in papier-maché paste. He settles for a phantom shake, flicks his hair back and introduces his companions.

The room is full of them, all up to their elbows in the construction of giant cardboard puppets for two anti-war rallies this coming Sunday and Monday. One is a caricature rifle that will carry a giant cardboard sunflower in its barrel. It will be held in the hands of a Zapatista revolutionary effigy. Another, Catton’s, is called the “war machine.” It is the bust of a robotic beast with metallic eyes, sharp antennae and a jagged jaw line that drips sinister.

Max Granger, dressed in a black hooded sweat shirt and brown cargo pants, helps Catton support his war machine on the table. Granger nods at the books on the walls.

“It’s kind of an underground community library,” he says. “Hopefully it’s just beginning, but we’re running out of wall space.”

Granger has been part of the Missoula Free School since its conception two years ago. In its infancy, the Free School offered the community classes at no cost, in everything from bike building to herbal medicine to anarchic-feminist theory, without the “bureaucratic, hierarchical and costly nature of formal schooling.”

The original Free School took a hiatus, Granger says, after several of its members left town. But three months ago, it started anew, with hopes that its second incarnation will be a major movement in Missoula.

Granger says the group has retained its original goal – an ideal held by similar free schools nationwide – of promoting active and empowering ways of learning to become a more engaged citizen. Granger says the school hopes to offer both practical classes on topics like gardening, silk-screening, first aid for protests and giant puppet making, as well as intellectual classes on ethics, sustainability, legal rights and more. Classes are taught around town, in places like the Missoula Public Library, the Unitarian Church and the Boys and Girls Club.

The Free School relies on interested community members to teach subjects in which they are knowledgeable. Granger says the group would like to set up gardening classes that train pre-released prisoners to become gardening teachers.

“It would break down the idea that to be a teacher you have to have gone to school for a number of years,” Granger says, “when really there’s a lot of people out there who have never been to school who know a lot more than someone with a degree.”

The Missoula Free School takes its inspiration from philosophers like Paulo Freire, who advocated education as the necessary precursor to any revolution, as well as the anarchist movement in general.

“There’s a huge difference between anarchy and disorder,” Granger says. He cites the Free School and the Laboratory as examples. Both are smooth-running operations, he says, where decisions are made by consensus and unanimity.

“The organization is not top-down. The decisions are made collectively. The work is done collectively,” he says. “The Free School follows the anarchist system because we’re trying in an organized fashion to organize non-hierarchical education.”

Granger is a University of Montana student, along with about three-quarters of the dozen-or-so active Free School members. He studies history and Spanish.

“The university system itself, because of the fact that it’s a bureaucratic institution, even a capitalist institution … there will be problems in that,” Granger says. But he still finds teachers with the ability to blend quality education into the mix.

“The good stuff that goes on at the University is subversive,” he says. “Subversive to the institution.”

And it’s educational practices across the board, not just in universities, that have faulty systems, he said. Public high schools have some of the worst.

“That’s where the power relations are really extreme,” he says.

As Granger speaks, Laboratory-resident Steven Schorzman enters the room, alights upon an overstuffed chair and curls his fingers around a gourd of maté tea. His hair is scruffy, and his jacket is covered in patches, one of which reads “Anti-Capitalist” in Coca-Cola script. On the wall behind him, flush against a heavily laden bookshelf, is a map of the world, turned sideways.

“Partly for space, and partly to make a statement about the racist nature of geography,” Granger explains.

Schorzman takes a pull from his maté and raises his eyebrows to request an explanation.

“Because north is on top,” Granger finishes.

Around the corner, in the kitchen, Erica Dossa suds the last of a pyramid of dishes, while standing alone atop a linoleum-tiled floor darkened with apple crumbles from the night’s dessert. Dossa, who takes her family name from a Hungarian peasant king, is a junior in ecology at UM. She’s been living at the Laboratory since last semester.

“They’re really awesome,” she says of the group, “so I became their friend.”

Dossa says the Free School is teaching people to be more active in their communities. University lectures are too often filled with the same people doing the same things, she says. Dossa wants to be a scientist, although she wouldn’t like to work for any corporation or the government.

Behind her, next to a hanging basket of browning bananas, is a poster on the fridge advertising a rally on Monday at noon on the UM Oval. “FUCK THIS WAR,” it reads. Beside it is a photograph Granger took when hopping trains in the Midwest. The picture is of a new Hummer, dwarfing the pumps at a gas station named “Freedom.”

“I had to get a picture of it,” he says.

Below that picture is another, this one pulled from the Internet. It is of a boy in a dusty Palestinian street, hurling a rock at an Israeli tank barreling toward him.


Thursday, March 15, 2007

Willful Ignorance

Willful Ignorance is the American Way. Taking someone’s words at face value and not questioning a word of it because they are an “authority” figure is the American Way. Only here, in the “Land of the Free, and the Home of the Brave.” Give me a break. We are imprisoned by our cowering to authority. We are imprisoned because we are too afraid to question. Instead, we convince ourselves that outright and outrageous lies are the truth. All because somebody said it was truth. This is willful ignorance. It is choosing to believe the lie, rather than question for the truth. You see this all the time in religious texts. It works so wonderfully well. It would be hilarious excepting for all the pain it causes so unnecessarily. In the end though, it is all self-inflicted. Christians and Muslims both are taught from birth to never question their holy texts. Not everyone, but we all know many who this includes. Have a hint; they were all written by man. The Bible is actually an editing of thousands of manuscripts, and the New Testament was written years after Christ died. The Koran actually says that if you were a true believer then you would understand it completely and not need to question a word. If you don’t, well, obviously you need killing. How many people are going to question that one? But, I didn’t get through the whole Koran. That part stopped me. I do know that most Muslims I meet, both now, and in the past, have been wonderful people. So maybe some changes happen later in the book. The early Christians who did not form the right “sect” were massacred by the sect that formed the basis of our modern christian religion. One founded upon the blood of innocents. Has it changed much since then? The strange thing about all of the major religions are it’s roots in Cannabis. While it is the Christian right which is responsible for much of the puritanical and eye-for-an-eye legislation we have in this country, this is all Old Testament crap. And it is in this sector that we owe our thanks to the continuance of the Drug War. Especially marijuana. Though it was known as a sacred herb in both books. Jesus was presented with an adulteress in one story. In this story, he not only offered the analogy of how letting the one without sin cast the first stone, he set the woman free. How does that fit our judicial system? A system rooted completely within the Ten Commandments which he overthrew. While he showed nothing but mercy, it is the Christian right which shows anything but mercy. This is the section which springs forth nothing but the ignorance of it’s followers; followers who are too lazy to read their own holiest of texts. This is a book which they swear is written by the hand of God. Yet, they can’t be bothered to actually read it. Even now, many people ride on the mantle of being a learned person by announcing they had read the bible a few times. Three seems the most popular number for some reason. and people buy it, whether it’s true or not. Personally, if I thought God had written it, I’d be reading it every day, and nothing but that book. But I don’t. This is a book which this sect believes is irrefutable. If it’s in the Bible it must be true. Yet, they won’t read it. If anyone with a brain ever reads the bible, they will soon discover the Old Testament, which is the part embraced by these idiots, is the opposite of the New. In the New Testament, we find a loving God. A God who only has two commandments. A God who does not insist you have to worship him in a certain fashion. You can be of another religion, or no religion, and still reach salvation. In the Old Testament, God always gives gifts of destruction and hate. This is the God of the petty tyrant. This is the God of the Christian right. The type of Christian which has brought us nothing but war. It is a fool’s religion. When Joseph had his dream, he could have interpreted it many ways. Instead, he chose to exploit the people with taxes during the bounty years, and take all their possessions and freedoms during the lean years. A great man in the Old Testament was one who never missed an opportunity to fuck over the little guy. This is the religious right. Don’t get me wrong; I have no love for the any political party. I am an anarchist. I believe that if we actually practised the commandments which the Christ figure gave us, then we would have no need of government. But we don’t. Instead, we blindly follow an authority which tells us to do the opposite of what their religion supposedly stands for: following the path of the Christ Figure. A figure who certainly would never call for any of the atrocities of his legacy. A legacy of blood and greed and hate for such an amazing man. In my eyes, Jesus was enlightened. He was a Buddha who was killed by the followers of the Old Testament. Those same followers which make up such an amazingly large sector of Christianity. It is this sector which denies themselves the opportunity to achieve true happiness by their willful ignorance. Because they are too afraid to question, they remain steeped in their fears and the hate it matures into. And it is our own damn fault. Christ worked on a Sunday, yet the Blue Laws were in effect in many major cities just a few years ago. I remember reading articles that proclaimed the end of the world would come about if we worked on Sundays. Guess what, we’re still here. Despite the best efforts of these hate-mongers. I have often heard people say that marijuana is medicine, yet still believe that people are criminals if they try and heal themselves. Heal themselves with a medicine that has never killed anyone. Our government feeds us the lie all the time and we by it. Because we are willfully ignorant. The government tries to paint strong marijuana as being of a “dangerously and deadly” amount of THC. I don’t believe that anyone has ever over-dosed on Marinol even, which is a synthetic version of THC. 100% pure THC. Stronger than mother nature ever dreamed of making. Ever. Yet the people buy it. Because it comes from an authority figure. And because they are willfully ignorant. Someone who is willfully ignorant isn’t someone to oppress, however. That is the way of the modern Christian. No, those that are willfully ignorant are to be pitied. And to be loved. They must know love before they are able to give any love. The followers of the Old remain rooted in a trap. A trap which gave Moses the power to form an army and found his land of milk and honey. Right after they murdered all of the peaceful dwellers that already lived there. Women and children too. Just think of the children, a phrase often spouted by the hate filled puritanical christian element. It has a whole new meaning to it now, doesn’t it? It is this element which has remained drugged on this trap of hate and misery. This hate-filled religion has only served as a tool for those seeking money and power to achieve it. By exploiting people who are begging for exploitation. It has nothing to do with the Christ for whom it is named. It is the willful ignorance of the blindly obedient. Those who proclaim it a sin to kill. Yet, this religioin does nothing but promote killing. We INVADED Iraq and Afghanistan. They did not ram the planes into the towers. We have murdered tens of thousands of their citizens over numerous false premises. Yet, this sector still supports the war against terrorism. This sector supports any bills which take away their freedoms, just as the Egyptians did for Joseph. This sector believes it a crime that Clinton poked a pudgy girl and called for his impeachment. The same sector that doesn’t push for Bush’s impeachment. Though the corruption spreads even further than the Christian Right on this one. Our government is the oppressor of Joseph’s time. You da slave, bitch! While I fault all of us, as willing accomplices in our own imprisonment, I especially fault the governments for promoting this state of mind. A government which so perfectly reflects it’s society. Hopefully, this state of mind is being washed away with the coming of the internet. A forum which truly frightens the hate-mongers of our government. Bismark (famous German guy) once told another fellow not to worry about what his people thought, HE would tell them what to think. He was right. He did tell his people what to think. Much like our leaders tell us what to think. And we believe them. Every-time. It is this willful ignorance which those in power use to get us to hate those “ragheads” over there. First rule in war is to dehumanize the enemy. Hell, I could kill ragheads, slopes, or terrorists all day long. I don’t think I could kill a human being though. We get all upset over 9/11, and we should, but it is nothing compared to what we have been doing to those countries for years. Actions fully supported by the American public. Because they were told they should support these murders. And we did. Again and every-time. I am not saying it wasn’t heinous. It was. I will probably never forget that morning when I first heard a plane crash announced on the radio. But, it was exactly the same sort of damage we have been inflicting on those countries for years. Sucks when it’s in your back-yard, doesn’t it? In our movies, it was always the Nazis who tortured their prisoners. That was how you could get the hero to show how tough he was against these ungodly bastards. My, how times have changed! We get to torture now! I guess the Arabs will have some heroes out of this. Of course, we were told to like this attitude, and we really do seem to have a taste for the base in America. All of this willful ignorance just for us. The willing slaves. That’s all that willful ignorance will get you. Don’t believe me? It’s all there in the bible boy, them’s God’s words! Rev Jim Lunsford First Cannabist Church Truth: Requires questioning to find Tags: marijuana · government · Civil Rights · budhism · political activism · Blogroll · blogs · buddhism · Life · Christianity · politics · Islam · internet

Sex and Censorship

http://www.fepproject.org/issues/sexandcens.html

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

EZLN - Our Word is our Weapon


Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Highlights From A Book by Norman Friedman

Introduction

For centuries humankind has been faced with many seeming contradictions between scientific and spiritual "truth." Amid the confusion, scientists, philosophers and theologians have pondered, debated and argued—yet the separation remains. Can anyone provide a whole-brain understanding of our physical and spiritual worlds? Are there any clear, straightforward answers?

Bridging Science and Spirit presents powerful insights into this dilemma. By carefully correlating concepts from three disparate sources, the author reveals underlying unity that is both provocative and inspiring. The first of these sources is the world of quantum physics as interpreted by David Bohm, internationally recognized theoretical physicist, professor and author. Second are mystical concepts from various ages and cultures as described in Ken Wilber's treatment of the Perennial Philosophy, first made famous by Aldous Huxley. Finally, observations expressed by the spirit entity Seth (channeled by Jane Roberts) provide a unique overview from an other-worldly perspective.

Part 1 presents each of these areas in detail, discusses the elements they have in common, and shows how a single reality emerges from seemingly separate perspectives. Part 2 addresses space/time creation, the mind/body connection, commonalities between Eastern and Western thought, and other topics related to the new paradigm. Throughout the book, vivid metaphors carry the reader forward into a bold new understanding of reality.

The author, Norman Friedman, hold a B.A. in physics and a M.A. in electrical engineering. In 1983, he sold his successful electronics manufacturing firm to pursue his lifelong interest in the philosophical implications of relativity and quantum theories. His intense curiosity about connections between science and spirit has led him into the unexpected but fascinating new territory described in this book.


Full Preface

Before we begin this journey together, two confessions are in order.

First, I am a passionate fan of contemporary physics. For many years I have followed the philosophical convulsions resulting from quantum theory and relativity theory. But I am not a practicing physicist, I am a spectator. My view of the game — the ongoing quest to explain reality — is from the bleachers rather than from the dugout and the field. In some sense I have played in the minor leagues (with a bachelor’s degree in physics and a master’s degree in engineering), and that allows me to follow most of the plays closely. Although my mathematical background lacks the depth and breadth to allow me to hit a metaphorical 90-mile-an-hour physics fastball, I understand the principles involved in such a feat.

The view from the bleacher has some advantages. I am unencumbered by the demands of daily practice and regular competition. My perspective is broader than it would be if I were engaged in the action the game. I am free from restrictions that go along with being a member of the team. As a fan, I can applaud certain plays and players and boo others with impunity. If my analysis of a game differs from that of the manager or players, it is a matter of no great consequence.

But while asserting that there is something special about my view from the bleachers, I do so with a certain amount of humility. I am always aware of my dependence on the players, and I respect their talents as professionals. Accordingly, in the following pages I make abundant use of the knowledge, comments, and ideas of scientists and philosophers.

The second confession is that my interest in this game has intensified into a burning curiosity, which has led me far from the familiar playing fields of scientific investigation. In short, this book includes ideas not only from physics (primarily the work of David Bohm) but of mystics, represented by Ken Wilber’s treatment of the Perennial Philosophy, as well as — hold on to your seats — the channeled spirit entity known as Seth. Although the methods, concepts, and language of these three sources vary markedly, parallels in their descriptions of reality are striking indeed.

No doubt you are wondering what a nice physics fan is doing in the same company of mystics and mediums. In explaining, let me begin by saying that at least I am not alone in this. In recent decades, many books have compared the experiences recounted by mystics to the philosophical implications of modern physics. Best known of these, perhaps, is Fritjof Capra’s The Tao Of Physics. Capra is uniquely qualified to comment on these connections because of his research in high-energy physics and his mastery of meditation techniques. His insights are necessarily general because of the differences in approach between the mystic and the physicist, and be cause the mystical experience is by nature ineffable, since its aim is alignment with the whole.

Physicists, on the other hand, analyze reality as separate, describable parts. While they may be aware of the interconnections of the entire universe, their methodology involves examination of particulars. Still, the interpretation of physical particulars can convey a more encompassing reality. Physicist David Bohm presents us with such a view. Bohm’s ideas and those of Ken Wilber have been compared in several publications, including interviews in The Holographic Paradigm and Other Paradoxes. Because this material is available, and because my main interest lies in the particulars of physics, the Perennial Philosophy is considered only briefly here.

My introduction to the more esoteric figure of Seth was through an article by quantum physicist Nick Herbert, which included the following statement:

Jane Roberts, in her Seth books, describes, as an aspect of human personality, a world of “probable realities” in which opposites coexist in a manner similar to Heisenberg’s potentia. It is too early to say whether notions like these are mere causal analogies or indications that we are on the threshold of a new sensual physics.

At the time, I had read very little about the paranormal and had never heard of Jane Roberts, but I immediately bought a Seth book, The Individual And The Nature of Mass Events. In it I found discussion of a “framework” that sounded similar to Heisenberg’s world of potentia and the ghost field of quantum physics. I read other books by Roberts/Seth and began culling those portions related to physics. The more I read, the more I saw that the descriptions of reality by physicists and by mystics were bridged by those of Seth. Such connections are mind-boggling, but as physicist Freeman Dyson has said, “For any speculation which does not at first glance look crazy, there is no hope.”

The source of the Seth material will not concern us here. If Seth is a deception by Roberts, it is a remarkable one, for it would require a grasp of science and philosophy that would be extremely unusual considering her background as a poet and novelist. On the other hand, if the Seth material originated at some unknown level of Robert’s unconscious mind, then that level must be a repository of knowledge far beyond our normal awareness. Regardless of the “true” identity of Seth, the ideas expressed in this manner are invaluable in clarifying certain relationships between science and mysticism.

Although this book is intended for the general reader, some parts will be difficult without a background in science. (Many of the chapter notes contain information provided for readers whose understanding of scientific material is fairly advanced.) For those readers who find certain sections too demanding, my suggestion is to persist, skimming or even skipping the hard parts until you reach a more comprehensible section. It is my experience that allowing yourself to provisionally accept some of these ideas, even if you don’t entirely follow the reasoning behind them, may open the way to a general and often deeper understanding later on.

Now that our confessions are made and our paths roughly mapped out, let us begin our journey.

© 1994 Norman Friedman


Voluntary Cooperation Movement

http://www.geocities.com/voluntary_cooperation_movement/start.html The Voluntary Cooperation Movement is a network linking individuals who favor education and self organization as the preferred methods of achieving a voluntary, egalitarian and cooperative society. * http://www.worldblu.com/orgdemo/whatis.php Organizational democracy is freedom within a business framework. It is a strategy for organizational design and a way of leading and managing an organization. It is achieved when an organization uses the principles of democracy to design the way it operates daily, cultivating a workplace that enhances employee potential achieving its business goals and positively impacting the community.

~

~Nudity~ We are blind and yet we try to see the naked truth. If we took off our clothes she would come to us, but we are afraid of nudity. ~Sean Godley ~

STRYKER PROTEST -- NEWS: Hundreds protest at Port Monday night despite police intimidation

As the port militarization resistance movement at the Port of Tacoma entered its eleventh day, hundreds of riot police continued to surround Sitcum Waterway, where the loading of Stryker equipment for the 4th Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division goes on. -- So far 31 people (AP says 32) have been arrested, and the war resistance movement continues to grow. -- If police thought the violence they unleashed last weekend would keep protesters away, Monday evening proved them wrong. -- The turnout was one of the largest yet. -- Some joined in the movement for the first time, saying they were outraged at videos showing police violence unleashed on peaceful protesters that are circulating on the internet. -- Mark Jensen of UFPPC describes what he saw at the Port between 11:00 p.m. and 12:40 a.m.

HUNDREDS PROTEST AT PORT OF TACOMA DESPITE POLICE INTIMIDATION By Mark Jensen

United for Peace of Pierce County (WA) March 13, 2007 -- 1:00 a.m.

http://www.ufppc.org/content/view/5916/

TACOMA, Washington -- Unintimidated by hundreds of police in riot gear, peaceful antiwar demonstrators turned out in large numbers at the Port of Tacoma Monday night, where a port militarization resistance movement that began Mar. 3 entered its eleventh day. At least 200 demonstrators peaceably assembled near the scene of Friday night's police violence, then marched up Thorne Road chanting slogans and carrying signs.

There they found a double row of more than 80 black-clad, helmeted police in full riot gear, deployed as though they expected to be attacked. Under sodium lights, longshore workers were driving Stryker vehicles onto a Military Sealift Command vessel that was docked at Sitcum Waterway. The vehicles are for the 4th Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division, which today held a deployment ceremony at Fort Lewis. They are part of the Iraq war escalation announced by President George W. Bush on Jan. 10, intended for a 4,000-strong unit to be thrown into the inferno of Iraq's civil war next month.

Like the American public, the demonstrators, mostly young adults, were convinced that's a bad idea. Chanting "U.S. out of the Middle East! No Justice! No Peace!" and "Fight the Rich, Not Their Wars!" they passed a KOMO 4 News truck sent down from Seattle to go live at 11:00 a.m. as marchers headed toward the docks.

The march and subsequent rally were peaceful, but the mood was affected by memories of Friday night's police attack. Many there were apprehensive. About half wore bandannas, both out of fear that police might again unleash tear gas, and also as protection against the incessant and overt police videotaping of the crowd. Most of the demonstrators believe this to be an illegal chilling of their First Amendment rights.

It was a chilly night at the brightly-lit port. Sea gulls circled overhead in the cold wind, screeching. An occasional passing semi sounded its horn in support, cheering the protesters.

Many were back after having been attacked early Saturday morning with tear gas, and shared stories of what happened. Others were newcomers. One young man who lives and works in Tacoma said he came because he felt a sense of outrage after seeing on YouTube videos showing unprovoked police violence.

From the side of the road, some marchers found remnants of Friday night's attack. A "drag-stabilized bean bag." A casing of a rubber bullet. A squashed canister read "No. 9 CS -- Irritant Agent," manufactured by "Armor Holdings Inc."

(You haven't heard the name? I hadn't either. Here's what the company's web site says: "Armor Holdings, Inc. (NYSE: AH), listed #3 on FORTUNE Magazine's 2006 '100 Fastest-Growing Companies List' and a member of the S&P Smallcap 600 Index, is a diversified manufacturer of branded products for the military, law enforcement, and personnel safety markets." NOTE: For more on "riot control agents," see here. These are meant, as their name implies, for use on rioters and in response to violence. But there has been no rioting at the Port of Tacoma -- except by police. A riot is defined as "a violent public disturbance of the peace, by a number of persons [specified in law, usually as three or more assembled together," which describes rather exactly the scenes captured last weekend by Joe La Sac [a.k.a. Acumensch] of the Univ. of Puget Sound and others, and posted on YouTube -- search for "Port of Tacoma".)

After a half-hour walk, demonstrators arrived at the corner of East 11th Ave. and Thorne Road, the same place where on Sunday afternoon police arrested 23 (http://www.ufppc.org/content/view/5911/) in an organized act of civil disobedience. Both the sky and the mood were darker late Monday night, however. The port feels more oppressive at night, for one thing. And there were a lot more police. A double line of more than fifty riot police was arrayed against the demonstrators and a standing phalanx of thirty more stood behind them. And there were still more beyond these.

Speakers, including many veterans, including veterans of the Iraq war, expressed their views. One said he had joined up for the usual reasons, but "I soon found out that patriotism and nationalism are the wrong reasons." Another speaker said: "I, for one, support the troops. I know they want to come home. When the troops see us, they give us peace signs, like this," and he help up two fingers in a V as the crowd cheered. "Support the troops -- bring them home!"

But the behavior of the police was raising anxieties in the crowd. A police sniper took a position -- God knows why -- on the roof of a warehouse at the southwest corner of E. 11th and Thorne. He was carrying a rifle. One of the speakers addressed him: "Cops on the roof -- if you were to shoot me, it would be a crime against humanity!"

At midnight, the group decided to head back. The walk took about half an hour, and it warmed us up again.

Back at the corner of Milwaukee Way and Lincoln Ave., most of the older folks headed home. It was 12:30 a.m. But about a hundred young people went to stand in front of more than a hundred riot police massed behind another barricade on Milwaukee Way. (It's highly ironic that police have been charging arrestees with "obstruction.") They joked they had better not sing "Give Peace a Chance," the anthem that police had interrupted around 3:00 a.m. on Mar. 10 with tear gas and rapid-fire rubber bullets.

As I walked back to my car, I saw some disturbing signs. South on Lincoln, a squad of riot police seemed to be getting into formation. A police car whose driver was wearing a gas mask went by, exceeding the speed limit, for no apparent reason. And down on Milwaukee Way, there were a number of vehicles behaving oddly. The drivers of two grey SUVs, their engines running seemed to be watching intently and waiting for something; one of them was also wearing a gas mask. As I headed south on Milwaukee, I saw more police cars sitting and waiting, and still more. Maybe I should have stayed.

Many of the young people thanked us older folks for coming out at all. I'll say this for them: they're very brave, and they care about their rights.

You know what? They make me proud to be an American. They give me hope.

I just hope I didn't go home too early.

--Mark Jensen is a member of United for Peace of Pierce County, and of the faculty of Pacific Lutheran University.


QUOTE democracy QUOTE

"Like all great religions, Democracy is an opiate of the masses, and channels potentially violent reactions to public corruption into the socially harmless practice of voting, whereby the adherent achieves the mental satisfaction of addressing problems in the nation's leadership and public policy without actually having to harm or even replace any public officials or bureaucrats." http://uncyclopedia.org/wiki/Democracy * Agnes Repplier:

Democracy forever teases us with the contrast between its ideals and its realities, between its heroic possibilities and its sorry achievements.


Monday, March 12, 2007

Josh Wolf stands for a restoration of free press

March 12, 2007

Columnist Debra Saunders (online, Feb. 28) seems to think that she’s a real journalist, while Josh Wolf, because he isn’t employed by corporate media, is somehow not a “real” journalist. The Northern California Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists selected Josh as a “Journalist of the Year” recipient and he will receive another award from them on March 13, being recognized for a James Madison Freedom of Information award for online journalism.

Josh did not film an attack upon a police officer, nor did he film an attempt to burn a police car, the flimsy excuse used by the federal prosecutors to get this into federal court and avoid the California Shield Law. The question of the attack upon a police officer is a matter for the district attorney, not the federal courts.

The officer’s sexual orientation has absolutely nothing to do with anything and is not even related to the title of the article. I think in a mystery it would be called “a red herring.”

I am Josh’s mother and I am proud of his principled stand for restoration of a free press in this country.

Liz Wolf-Spada, Wrightwood, Calif.


Sunday, March 11, 2007

*

Mirror I am silver and exact. I have no preconceptions. Whatever I see I swallow immediately Just as it is, unmisted by love or dislike. I am not cruel, only truthful ‚ The eye of a little god, four-cornered. Most of the time I meditate on the opposite wall. It is pink, with speckles. I have looked at it so long I think it is part of my heart. But it flickers. Faces and darkness separate us over and over. Now I am a lake. A woman bends over me, Searching my reaches for what she really is. Then she turns to those liars, the candles or the moon. I see her back, and reflect it faithfully. She rewards me with tears and an agitation of hands. I am important to her. She comes and goes. Each morning it is her face that replaces the darkness. In me she has drowned a young girl, and in me an old woman Rises toward her day after day, like a terrible fish. Sylvia Plath


Buk.............................Alone With Everybody

the flesh covers the bone and they put a mind in there and sometimes a soul, and the women break vases against the walls and the men drink too much and nobody finds the one but keep looking crawling in and out of beds. flesh covers the bone and the flesh searches for more than flesh. there's no chance at all: we are all trapped by a singular fate. nobody ever finds the one. the city dumps fill the junkyards fill the madhouses fill the hospitals fill the graveyards fill nothing else fills. *

Saturday, March 10, 2007

New pamphlet: "Alcatraz – Uncle Sam's Devil's Island"

The Kate Sharpley Library has just published a new edition of Philip Grosser's account of his time imprisoned on the notorious prison island of Alcatraz. Philip Grosser was sent to Alcatraz because he didn't want to murder anyone, even on government orders. He was a Boston anarchist and anti-militarist who refused to be drafted into the slaughter of World War One. He was, in his own words, 'not a very good example to other drafted men', and stayed a stubborn rebel who could not be turned into a soldier. As an anarchist he denied the government's right to run or throw away his life. For that reason he had to face the inhumanity of authority defied. Grosser's account of his time inside is an early exposé of official brutality in America's most notorious prison. It's also a powerful account of resistance and endurance. The original pamphlet was first published by Grosser's friends after his death in the 1930s. It's been expanded with letters by, to and about him from the Alexander Berkman papers at the International Institute of Social History, Amsterdam. They shed a little more light on the life of a rebel who could be counted on in the struggle for human freedom. "Phil was one of the finest comrades it has been my good fortune to meet. And well I remember his stand during the war. I know all the humiliation and tortures he had to go through because of his loyalty to a high ideal." – Alexander Berkman "Alcatraz – Uncle Sam's Devil's Island : Experiences of a Conscientious Objector in America during the First World War" by Philip Grosser www.katesharpleylibrary.net Extract from the original introduction: This is the story of a heretic, who trod that pathway of pain hollowed out by the feet of nonconformists throughout the ages. His heresy,—in 1917 the heresy,—consisted of a passionate belief that the common people of all lands were brothers, and that it was wrong to have any traffic with the business of slaughtering them. (A quaint idea, nineteen centuries old.)… He was afraid of heroics, scornful of pity, resentful of invasion of his personal privacy, reticent of intellectual or spiritual revealment. We pressed him one night for the philosophy that impelled his extremity of endurance, and at last forced out of him the simple statement, "Well, if you must have it, it comes down to this: I figure that there are times and occasions when a man either has to show down or show up." Unless you are prepared, for whatever faith is in you, to undergo the crucifixion of the chaining up, or tread the path of insanity in the black eternity of the dungeon, or in the cage, I do not think you are entitled to condemn his faith. It is at least a living one which will take a man voluntarily through hell. Extract from the pamphlet: I was never a soldier, yet I spent three years of my life in military prisons. After I registered for the draft as an objector to war on political grounds, I refused to submit to a physical examination for military purposes and refused to sign an enlistment and assignment card. Instead of being tried for violation of the war-time conscription act, which was a Federal civil offence, I was turned over to the military and was subjected to all forms of punishment as an erring soldier, not as a civilian who refused to participate in a war waged "to make the world safe for democracy."… On Dec. 2, 1920, the authorities of Alcatraz Island, San Francisco, California, were ordered by the War Department to set me free. They put me in solitary confinement for refusing to sign soldier's release papers which stated that I was a recruit unassigned not eligible for re-enlistment, had no previous enlistment, no horsemanship, no markmanship, etc. My answer was that I never consented to obey the draft act, that I did not recognize the government's right to make a soldier automatically, that I did not sign any papers to get into military jails and that I would not sign any papers to get out. A wire was sent to the War Department to have my release cancelled and to have me court-martialed again for disobedience to military orders. Evidently the War Department did not care to keep me any longer, for an order was given to let me go free without my signature. So I was inducted into the service of the United States Army automatically, after being transferred from one military prison to another, without serving a single day in a military barracks. The government gave me a new prison-made suit of clothes, a Dishonorable Discharge and a "donation" of $10. I was free to face the world and the American Legion. ************** Comrades wanting to research the life of Philip Grosser further will probably want to know: He was born in 1890. He committed suicide in Boston in October 1933, and was buried October 20, 1933. From December 1926 to April 1927 he was living at 11 North Anderson Street, Boston. Between 1928 and 1929 he lived at 83 Holworthy St., Roxbury, Mass. In June 1931 he was living at 37 Joy St., Boston. In the second half of 1931 he seems to have moved regularly between that address and 9 Anderson St., Boston. He was living at the Anderson Street address between January and September 1932.

Protesters aim to take over lawmakers’ offices, fight war funding

By JENNIFER C. KERR Associated Press Writer
Friday, March 09, 2007 WASHINGTON

Some opponents of the Iraq war are taking their protests straight to Congress — staging “occupations” in lawmakers’ offices on Capitol Hill and in their home communities. Rep. Rahm Emanuel’s office in Chicago was targeted on Thursday. A day earlier protesters were headed off before getting into House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s office in San Francisco. In Washington, peace activists dressed in pink showed up recently at the Senate offices of presidential hopefuls John McCain and Hillary Rodham Clinton.

The protesters haven’t abandoned the larger, more familiar gatherings at college campuses, major cities and monuments in Washington. But in recent weeks, they have been turning up at congressional offices, vowing to stay until they get pledges that lawmakers will vote against more war funding — or until they are forcibly removed. “We really see it as an extension of lobbying,” Jeff Leys, co-coordinator of Chicago-based Voices for Creative Nonviolence, said of the office occupations. “The aim is to keep going back time and time and time again.” The protesters number anywhere from a handful to a few dozen. Sometimes, they stay for minutes. Sometimes, they remain for hours before police move in. Organizers count more than 140 arrests so far. Most involve charges of trespassing or disorderly conduct. During the occupations, the protesters sit, stand, sing, chant, pray, ring bells, and read letters from American troops sent home to their families. The eight demonstrators at Emanuel’s office on Thursday performed skits about the consequences of war, read names of U.S. troops killed in Iraq and told stories about Iraqi children hurt in the fighting. They were welcomed by a staffer into the lobby of the congressman’s office. Sometimes, though, the protesters don’t even get through the front door. About 20 demonstrators gathered outside Pelosi’s San Francisco office on Wednesday. Before they could enter, a Pelosi staffer ushered the group down to a conference room seven floors below, where many voiced frustration that Pelosi was not being aggressive enough in seeking an end to the war. The anti-war groups are setting their sights on Republicans, like McCain. But they’re also lining up against Democrats, like Pelosi, who were opposed to the war from the very beginning. “Those who know there is an alternative, we want to put some pressure on them to do the right thing,” said Gael Murphy, co-founder of Codepink, an anti-war group with a name that serves as a poke at the Bush administration’s color-coded terror alert system. Pink, the group says, represents peace. Occupations have been held at the offices of Sens. Richard Durbin of Illinois and Barbara Mikulski of Maryland, and Reps. Marcy Kaptur of Ohio and David Obey of Wisconsin. All four Democrats voted against the 2002 measure authorizing the war. Earlier this week, Obey was confronted outside his Capitol office by war opponents, prompting a heated exchange in which Obey shouted at one women who wanted him to vote against money for the war. In a video posted on the Internet site YouTube, the Democratic lawmaker is seen pounding his fist repeatedly into the air, complaining loudly that Democrats don’t have enough votes to cut off war funding and the protesters don’t understand the debate in Congress. “That makes no sense. It doesn’t work that way,” Obey says at one point. In Minnesota, protesters are pressuring most congressional offices, including that of Republican Sen. Norm Coleman, a former anti-war protester himself from the Vietnam era. He is considered one of the most vulnerable senators seeking re-election next year. Coleman supported the Iraq war resolution as a candidate in 2002, but he was also one of just two Republicans last month to vote to allow debate on a resolution critical of President Bush’s plan to send more troops to Iraq. Two of the weekly protesters at Coleman’s St. Paul office are nuns Rita and Kate MacDonald. Older sister Rita, 84, said they want to stir up the old anti-war feelings in the college protester-turned senator. “It certainly is my hope that that could come back for him — being convinced that war is totally futile, especially this war,” she said. Last month, Bush asked Congress to approve an additional $93.4 billion for war operations in Iraq and Afghanistan this year. Democrats, angry about the war but divided over whether to cut funding, are considering ways to attach conditions to any additional money. To date, there are two pledges against Bush’s war supplemental request, organizers said. Both are from Democrats from Massachusetts — Reps. Martin Meehan and Edward Markey. Markey, however, has said he would consider war funding that had conditions attached, such as redeployments. The campaign was organized by Voices for Creative Nonviolence. The occupations, the group says, are intended to coincide with other anti-war efforts, such as rallies and marches. An anti-war demonstration is planned for Washington on March 17, when protesters will march from the Vietnam Veterans Memorial to the Pentagon. A January protest in the city drew tens of thousands of people, including actress Jane Fonda. *
Jenise said...

It's big news in the US that the FBI has overstepped its authority by spying on US citizens illegally. What hasn't made it to the news - or did and was pulled after running as a story just once - is that while the FBI and other government agencies are spying on American citizens, a foreign country (and supposed US ally) is spying on the FBI and other law enforcement agencies. http://www.brasschecktv.com/page/61.html - Brasscheck


Friday, March 09, 2007

Ashes and Snow / African Sunsets / Are You An Angel?

I Glimmering harpsicord Syphony in mind Of faeries dancing And Midsummer Night’s Dreams Glossamer like your wings, Your crown And your chaste eyes Are you an Angel from some far away heaven? Or a Demon from a closer hell? How do you hold to virtue? It’s fallen away from me With innocence and naivity So are you an Angel from some far away heaven? Or a Demon from a closer hell? It’s easy to sin in this world of carnal pleasure And blooming Knowledge trees Do you want to sin with me? By the lakeside, lost in your sharp Evervescent eyes Are you an Angel from some far away heaven? Or a Demon from a closer hell? The girls who know Say watch the blonde who smiles But how can I be sure? That you aren’t that Angel from some far away heaven Instead of their Demon from that even closer hell? II On the shore of a lake of fire and brimstone Alone Where have you gone? I should have heeded thier warnings Wise words on deaf ears Are you an Angel from a far away heaven? Or a Demon from this hot hell? I am eternally forsaken I guess I am repetitive Are you an Angel from some far away heaven? Or the Demon from a even hotter, and closer hell? III Demon! Demon! You have left me for dead on your chared shores! I shall never forgive you, Angel, Demon! Demon! You have betrayed me! Why? You promised me salvation! To her feet she rises I will be strong No Demon will hold me prisoner! IV Are you an Angel from some far away heaven? Or a demon from a even closer hell? * Alyce Crowley

A predator becomes more dangerous when wounded

Washington's escalation of threats against Iran is driven by a determination to secure control of the region's energy resources by Noam Chomsky Friday March 9, 2007, The Guardian In the energy-rich Middle East, only two countries have failed to subordinate themselves to Washington's basic demands: Iran and Syria. Accordingly both are enemies, Iran by far the more important. As was the norm during the cold war, resort to violence is regularly justified as a reaction to the malign influence of the main enemy, often on the flimsiest of pretexts. Unsurprisingly, as Bush sends more troops to Iraq, tales surface of Iranian interference in the internal affairs of Iraq - a country otherwise free from any foreign interference - on the tacit assumption that Washington rules the world. In the cold war-like mentality in Washington, Tehran is portrayed as the pinnacle in the so-called Shia crescent that stretches from Iran to Hizbullah in Lebanon, through Shia southern Iraq and Syria. And again unsurprisingly, the "surge" in Iraq and escalation of threats and accusations against Iran is accompanied by grudging willingness to attend a conference of regional powers, with the agenda limited to Iraq. Presumably this minimal gesture toward diplomacy is intended to allay the growing fears and anger elicited by Washington's heightened aggressiveness. These concerns are given new substance in a detailed study of "the Iraq effect" by terrorism experts Peter Bergen and Paul Cruickshank, revealing that the Iraq war "has increased terrorism sevenfold worldwide". An "Iran effect" could be even more severe. For the US, the primary issue in the Middle East has been, and remains, effective control of its unparalleled energy resources. Access is a secondary matter. Once the oil is on the seas it goes anywhere. Control is understood to be an instrument of global dominance. Iranian influence in the "crescent" challenges US control. By an accident of geography, the world's major oil resources are in largely Shia areas of the Middle East: southern Iraq, adjacent regions of Saudi Arabia and Iran, with some of the major reserves of natural gas as well. Washington's worst nightmare would be a loose Shia alliance controlling most of the world's oil and independent of the US. Such a bloc, if it emerges, might even join the Asian Energy Security Grid based in China. Iran could be a lynchpin. If the Bush planners bring that about, they will have seriously undermined the US position of power in the world. To Washington, Tehran's principal offence has been its defiance, going back to the overthrow of the Shah in 1979 and the hostage crisis at the US embassy. In retribution, Washington turned to support Saddam Hussein's aggression against Iran, which left hundreds of thousands dead. Then came murderous sanctions and, under Bush, rejection of Iranian diplomatic efforts. Last July, Israel invaded Lebanon, the fifth invasion since 1978. As before, US support was a critical factor, the pretexts quickly collapse on inspection, and the consequences for the people of Lebanon are severe. Among the reasons for the US-Israel invasion is that Hizbullah's rockets could be a deterrent to a US-Israeli attack on Iran. Despite the sabre-rattling it is, I suspect, unlikely that the Bush administration will attack Iran. Public opinion in the US and around the world is overwhelmingly opposed. It appears that the US military and intelligence community is also opposed. Iran cannot defend itself against US attack, but it can respond in other ways, among them by inciting even more havoc in Iraq. Some issue warnings that are far more grave, among them the British military historian Corelli Barnett, who writes that "an attack on Iran would effectively launch world war three". Then again, a predator becomes even more dangerous, and less predictable, when wounded. In desperation to salvage something, the administration might risk even greater disasters. The Bush administration has created an unimaginable catastrophe in Iraq. It has been unable to establish a reliable client state within, and cannot withdraw without facing the possible loss of control of the Middle East's energy resources. Meanwhile Washington may be seeking to destabilise Iran from within. The ethnic mix in Iran is complex; much of the population isn't Persian. There are secessionist tendencies and it is likely that Washington is trying to stir them up - in Khuzestan on the Gulf, for example, where Iran's oil is concentrated, a region that is largely Arab, not Persian. Threat escalation also serves to pressure others to join US efforts to strangle Iran economically, with predictable success in Europe. Another predictable consequence, presumably intended, is to induce the Iranian leadership to be as repressive as possible, fomenting disorder while undermining reformers. It is also necessary to demonise the leadership. In the west, any wild statement by President Ahmadinejad is circulated in headlines, dubiously translated. But Ahmadinejad has no control over foreign policy, which is in the hands of his superior, the Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. The US media tend to ignore Khamenei's statements, especially if they are conciliatory. It's widely reported when Ahmadinejad says Israel shouldn't exist - but there is silence when Khamenei says that Iran supports the Arab League position on Israel-Palestine, calling for normalisation of relations with Israel if it accepts the international consensus of a two-state settlement. The US invasion of Iraq virtually instructed Iran to develop a nuclear deterrent. The message was that the US attacks at will, as long as the target is defenceless. Now Iran is ringed by US forces in Afghanistan, Iraq, Turkey and the Persian Gulf, and close by are nuclear-armed Pakistan and Israel, the regional superpower, thanks to US support. In 2003, Iran offered negotiations on all outstanding issues, including nuclear policies and Israel-Palestine relations. Washington's response was to censure the Swiss diplomat who brought the offer. The following year, the EU and Iran reached an agreement that Iran would suspend enriching uranium; in return the EU would provide "firm guarantees on security issues" - code for US-Israeli threats to bomb Iran. Apparently under US pressure, Europe did not live up to the bargain. Iran then resumed uranium enrichment. A genuine interest in preventing the development of nuclear weapons in Iran would lead Washington to implement the EU bargain, agree to meaningful negotiations and join with others to move toward integrating Iran into the international economic system. © Noam Chomsky, New York Times Syndicate Noam Chomsky is co-author, with Gilbert Achcar, of Perilous Power: The Middle East and US Foreign Policy

Thursday, March 08, 2007

International Womens Day

IWD is now an official holiday in Armenia, Russia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Bulgaria, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Macedonia, Moldova, Mongolia, Tajikistan, Ukraine, Uzbekistan and Vietnam. The tradition sees men honouring their mothers, wives, girlfriends, colleagues, etc with flowers and small gifts. In some countries IWD has the equivalent status of Mother's Day where children give small presents to their mothers and grandmothers. The new millennium has witnessed a significant change and attitudinal shift in both women's and society's thoughts about women's equality and emancipation. Many from a younger generation feel that 'all the battles have been won for women' while many feminists from the 1970's know only too well the longevity and ingrained complexity of patriarchy. With more women in the boardroom, greater equality in legislative rights, and an increased critical mass of women's visibility as impressive role models in every aspect of life, one could think that women have gained true equality. The unfortunate fact is that women are still not paid equally to that of their male counterparts, women still are not present in equal numbers in business or politics, and globally women's education, health and the violence against them is worse than that of men. However, great improvements have been made. We do have female astronauts and prime ministers, school girls are welcomed into university, women can work and have a family, women have real choices. And so the tone and nature of IWD has, for the past few years, moved from being a reminder about the negatives to a celebration of the positives. Google Annually on 8 March, thousands of events are held throughout the world to inspire women and celebrate their achievements. ...
Photo Gallery

Radical-bookstore owners: Fire officials were confrontational

Ben Browning and Nik Edgell escaped with their lives when arsonists ignited a blaze at their radical bookstore. But the biggest surprise, they say, came when questioning by arson investigators turned into a confrontational political debate. Dazed after being roused from a sound sleep, scrambling frantically to save as much as possible from the flames and breathing in lots of smoke, Browning said, he was shocked when arson investigators for the Houston Fire Department became verbally aggressive, calling him and Edgell "anti-American" and "anti-federal government." The scene happened Feb. 26 at Sedition Books, a politically radical "information shop" opened last year by a cooperative and stationed in an old wood-frame building at 4420 Washington, a site surrounded by new townhomes and other trendy developments. The nonprofit venture offered literature on anarchism, radical feminism, communism, socialism, animal liberation, deep ecology, gay rights and other viewpoints outside the political mainstream. Sedition Books had also served as a meeting place for the radical community, holding film screenings and "open mic" events. Fire Department arson division chief Roy Paul said the bookstore operators are welcome to file a complaint if they feel arson investigators acted unprofessionally. "The reason we have internal affairs investigations is so they put down in writing what was said, and then it can be addressed," Paul said. "If they think (the investigators) were rude, they just need to make a complaint, and we'll look into it." Neither Browning, 24, nor Edgell, 19, asked for the investigators' names. They don't plan to file a complaint, Edgell said, because "we really don't think it would do any good." Arsonists ignited the predawn blaze outside the building as Browning and Edgell slept in their living quarters in the back of the store. Awakened by the smoke, the men escaped without injury, saving a few items. They ran outside to see flames shooting 8 feet in the air. Firefighters arrived immediately and acted professionally, Browning and Edgell said. But the mood changed when arson investigators began questioning the men in separate rooms. "It looks like you guys are pretty anti-American — what's the deal with that?" Browning recalled one asking. Sporting tattoos and pink combat boots, Browning is opposed to the war in Iraq and against American imperialism, but he denies being anti-American. "I was kind of shocked because I'm standing in the ruins of something I put my life into. ... I was just like, 'Huh?' He said, 'Don't you know capitalism runs everything?' "I said, 'Are you here to investigate my political beliefs or the fire?' He said, 'This is just my personal opinion. ... I don't understand how somebody can live in this country and act the way you do.' " In another room, Edgell said, he also was put on the defensive by another arson investigator. "He asked me what my political stance was. I said, 'I'm an anarchist.' He said, 'Oh? You don't like the federal government much, do you?" A supervisor who arrived later showed genuine interest in gathering information about the fire, Browning and Edgell said, but warned that such ventures too "politically extreme" in either direction may be targeted by arsonists or other criminals.

StartTheRevolution.org

Our Mission is to help people, including ourselves, to understand the truth about the world we live in. We will do this by reading, watching, talking, thinking, writing and experiencing everything that we can to ensure that the information given on these pages is as honest and factual as possible (although I am sure that there will still be the odd "leap of sarcasm" here and there!) Our Mission is to expose the lies and corruption that are prevalent in governments and secret governments, which eat away at democracy, truth and justice rather than doing what they are supposed to do and protecting them. We will do this by providing the information required to see and understand the lies behind the media spin that is put on almost every story in almost every publication by simply referring to the researchable facts and presenting the common sense "gut reaction". Our Mission is to offer suggestions and advice on ways that everybody can get involved in the fight to regain our independence, our choice and our freedoms. We will do this by organising campaigns of civil disobedience that would place the government in a position of having to lock up so many people that it would be impossible for them to do so. It will also gradually erode their power leaving them with a simple choice... Either you are with the citizens...Or you are against us! The very design of human beings ensures that we cannot and will not accept the repression, enslavement and imprisonment that "they" wish to thrust upon us. That is why they use these things when you have broken their laws...Because they are a punishment. To do this to an entire society innocent or guilty, rich or poor, white or black, is to cage the most beautiful creature on the planet and that is simply wrong. Ultimately, we must destroy, rebuild and recreate the entire structure of government and society. Exactly what this new structure will be nobody really knows but with the experience that we have as a race it will be easier to recognise the mistakes of the past and try harder to not repeat them. No system of government is perfect and many would say that democracy is the "least bad" option from a list of bad choices. We believe that the only thing at fault here is the list itself. It is time to rewrite the list...It is time to rewrite the future by understanding the past and present...It is time to stand up and be counted like so many others are doing... It is time to Start The Revolution :: Because Life Should Be Better!

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Peace Fresno President Speaks Out about the War in Iraq

To mark the fourth anniversary of the beginning of the war and occupation in Iraq, Peace Fresno and a coalition of valley and foothill peace and justice groups will hold a huge anti-war march and rally, including a 'die-in' at the Federal Building. Everyone who is against the war needs to come out to the annual "Rally in the Valley for Peace and Justice: Bring the Troops Home Now"! So far the following groups are cosponsoring or endorsing the Rally: Fresno State Campus Peace, Central Valley Counter-Recruitment Coalition, Central Valley Progressive PAC, Death Penalty Focus, Farms Not Arms, Fresno Center for Nonviolence, Fresno Free College Foundation (KFCF), Humanists of the San Joaquin Valley, La Raza Against War, Offline Independent Energy Systems, The Peace and Freedom Party, Peace Fresno, The South Valley Peace Center, Members of the Reedley Peace Center, WILPF, and Sunmt.org. The Rally will be held at Eaton Plaza, Mariposa and 'N' Streets, in downtown Fresno between the Fresno County Library and the historic water tower from 1:30-5:00 pm. The organizers will provide signs for the march, but group banners and individual signs are also encouraged. Speakers include Dolores Huerta of the UFW, David Swanson of www.afterdowningstreet.org , and (tentatively) Congresswoman Lynn Woolsey of the 6th Congressional District. Music will include Lonesome Jem and also Green Machine. The American people voted in November to end the war. Now it is time to hit the streets to tell Congress and the President that this war must end now! For more information about "Rally in the Valley for Peace and Justice," call Bill Simon, 227-6565 or Peace Fresno's voice mail at (559)-487-2515 or e-mail president@peacefresno.org .

ROB BRESZNY PERFORMS IN SAN FRANCISCO

Wednesday, March 28 The Marsh 1062 Valencia Street (near 22nd Street) 8 pm When my book *PRONOIA Is the Antidote for Paranoia* came out, I developed "Sacred Uproar," a show crammed with pronoiac memes. I've performed parts of it 20 times, from New York's Chapel of Sacred Mirrors to the Oregon Country Fair. Now I finally get to do the complete show, and in my hometown, and in an actual theater. I'm extremely stoked, psyched, and also ecstatic for the chance. The March 28 "Sacred Uproar" will be about 80 minutes long. I'll be joined by the fantastic five-woman team, the Shamanic Cheerleaders (check out their website at http://shamaniccheerleaders.com). Also performing with me will be Jessica Rice, a world-class singer with whom I've been singing since Burning Man in 2001. To buy tickets, go here: http://digbig.com/4rrdm More info about The Marsh is here: http://themarsh.org For a review of one of my New York shows, go here: http://digbig.com/4rsqx

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Quote

What you love you empower and what you fear you empower - and what you empower you attract. ~ Author Unknown ~

Monday, March 05, 2007

The Conservative Movement: Stuck On Step 1

by Bill Scher As everyone knows, the first step is admitting you have a problem.

Yet during my three days attending the Conservative Political Action Conference, I failed to find much recognition from conservatives that their movement has a "secular problem."

As I wrote here just before CPAC, the conservative "secular problem" is their severe lack of competitiveness with the 40%-43% of voters who don't regularly attend church.

Because of that problem, according to the exit poll data, conservatives no longer control Congress. In turn I concluded, "conservatives have to find a way to speak to the substantive concerns of secular voters: low wages, poor health care coverage, energy dependence, destabilizing foreign policy and the imposition of religious beliefs on others."

Yet the dominant diagnosis at CPAC was that the Republican Party just wasn't conservative enough.

Not enough slashing of our government. Not enough bashing of immigrants. Not enough promotion of heterosexuality. Not enough action to eliminate Britney Spears from American pop culture.

I'm afraid that last line was not a joke. I heard three different speakers point to singer's troubles as some sort of evidence of America's societal collapse.

For example, Robert Wright of the Media Research Center, in arguing against the nomination of Rudy Giuliani, said:

We need to defend the country ... but we can't allow our country to become Sodom and Gomorrah in the meantime. Because those guys fighting over there, what are they fighting for? Are they fighting so Britney Spears can lose it and go bald?

To be sure, there was some focus on the issues secular voters (and many religious voters) care about. But the messages need a little work.

Take Scott Hodge of the Tax Foundation. During his presentation on America's progressive tax structure, he expertly summed up the conservative message in five simple words:

The rich are getting screwed.

Or Jeff Felmy, chief economist for the American Petroleum Institute (aka, the lobbyists for Big Oil). He had this answer for America's energy security problem:

Energy independence is not a possible option

Those messages might resonate in the all-important well-heeled, global warming denial demographic.

But most of the secular voters conservatives need would like to see everyone contribute their fair share in taxes, and maybe even invest a little bit of that to finance the path to energy independence.

Perhaps the clearest indication that conservatives are failing to grasp their secular problem was their passionate embrace of Newt Gingrich -- who received the most thunderous audience response of any CPAC speaker, and is looking more and more like a presidential candidate.

He urged his brethren to push "big solutions." Yet, as Matt Browner Hamlin and I detailed earlier, his professed "big solutions" were neither big nor solutions.

In particular, his characterization of keeping "under God" in the Pledge of Allegiance as a "big solution" and a Top 3 priority, showed a glaring ignorance of the conservative secular problem.

Sure, Newt is correct to say that 91% of the country supports the Pledge as is. That means most secular and religious voters are already fine with it.

But keeping what's already there isn't a "solution" to anything. And treating this non-issue like a national emergency reveals a deeply misguided sense of priorities, which won't lure secular voters into the conservative camp.

Neither will his blaming of the Katrina victims in New Orleans' Ninth Ward for a "failure of citizenship" and not "get[ting] out of the way."

And so, with the conservative movement failing to accept and address its secular problem during it's three-day annual gathering, it looks like they're going to be stuck on Step 1 for some time.

Bill Scher blogs for Campaign for America's Future.


Sunday, March 04, 2007

Cheeky D and his Future Selves

From Bill's website:

RealityTest first encountered Cheeky D during a cruise through Internet mailing lists -- that elder region of electronic words and thoughts where great numbers of people interact, posting away at all hours of the day and night.

Cheeky, whose full screen name is Cheeky Delinquent, lives in a rural area of a midwestern U.S. state. A self-professed Seth reader (see RealityTest's Resources section), he employs a form of mental time travel based on concepts found in the Seth material, and has learned to apply it to practical life situations.

Although Cheeky generally limits his communication to future selves existing only moments, hours, or days ahead of his present (from a linear time perspective), there is no reason this technique can't be extended into greater reaches of time.

Key to Cheeky's method is Seth's probable self concept; for this to be successful, he must access those probable selves of all of his many probable selves who have solved a particular problem or learned some skill or technique he desires.

These future probable selves could also include much more distant versions, including those found in other time periods altogether. See an exercise provided by the discarnate H.G. Wells focusing on just such possibilities in RealityTest's Doorways section.

RealityTest: What do you mean by "future selves?"

Cheeky: My future selves are the probable selves that I could become. There are probable selves that I will become and probable selves that I will never become. All of them are me and exist now.

RealityTest: When did you first become aware of your future selves?

Cheeky: I was reading a Seth book. Seth went into great detail about our various probable selves -- past, present and future -- and all the other selves that we weren't aware of that existed now and were fully accessible if only we wanted to access them. The idea of accessing them intrigued me.

According to Seth, my probable future selves already knew everything I currently knew, everything I would ever know, and everything I would never know as well. All I had to do was be tuned in and ask them for the information and it would be mine. The information comes to me mostly through my inner voice. Any can do this as we all are receiving information from our probable selves all the time.

RealityTest: How did you go about getting "tuned in?"

Cheeky: I made a commitment to have a two-way communication with my future self, a communication that allowed my present self to ask questions of my future self and receive clear, loud, and very specific answers in a manner similar to having a conversation with another person. This is something I wanted most dearly. I saw great value and potential here. The "trick" was how do I go about doing this?

The foundation of my method is the Seth Material. In Seth's books I found the keys to understanding the concepts of how it was possible. A chapter titled 'Which You? Which World?' from the book The Nature of Personal Reality (Copyright © 1974 by Jane Roberts) was extremely enlightening in this area.

Seth says that we are in constant communication with all of our probable selves at all times but we aren't tuned in consciously to hear it. There is so much other noise in our minds that the messages from our probable selves are drowned out, so we don't hear them, or we get bits and pieces which don't seem to make sense. We have learned to ignore them. The messages are there. We just have to tune in.

I tried meditation and found to my great surprise what my mind was really doing. When I tried to quiet my mind all kinds of thoughts were jumping out at me.

These included thoughts that I didn't like, such as playing out imaginary arguments with someone I was having a tough time dealing with or worries, such as where more money was going to come from to pay a pile of bills. These kinds of thoughts were getting louder and louder, literally shouting at me, as I tried to simply quiet my mind. No wonder I couldn't hear the inner voices of my probable selves. So I started meditating on a daily basis and I was really paying attention to what my background thoughts were throughout the day, and consciously stopping the negative ones.

Very quickly my mind quieted down from a deafening roar of chaos to a mellow flow of useful thoughts.

Then magic started happening. I was actually hearing my inner voices. A clear thought would just pop in at just the right moment, information I found useful right then and there. I was suddenly knowing things that only my future self could know. Because I wasn't used to this type of knowledge coming in this manner, I often didn't trust it. Soon after I was discovering that I should have listened.

Throughout this whole time I have been consciously sending messages back to my past self whenever I felt they were needed. Some just for fun, such as the winning lottery numbers, and some because I wish I had done something that would have been quite useful, such as bringing a certain tool or piece of equipment with me to the jobsite. (By the way, I still haven't gotten the winning lottery numbers.)

I was working both ends of the communications and keeping the channels wide open for reception by meditation. Over time I have learned to hear those messages and distinguish them from impulses generated by desire. Impulses generated by desire would be something like suddenly buying a bunch of lottery tickets, as opposed to buying just one with a specific number in mind.

I'm at the point now where I can ask specific questions of my future self and usually receive an answer. I do this mostly in problem solving. Examples include:

Something is broke. What was the cause and how did I finally fix it? (After all, I had to go through the process of troubleshooting the problem and I know that I finally would get it repaired, so why not skip right to the ending and save myself all of that trouble?)

I need to buy a part right now. Which parts store did I find it at? (I would have had to go to all the various stores until I found it, so again, why not skip the hassle of searching -- my future probable self already did that, and knows where I finally found it.)

I can't reach a client who lives 45 minutes from here by phone. He has to be there for me to do the work, but he's not expecting me today. Should I still go out there to do the job even though he may be outside and can't hear the phone, or wait until I get him on the phone? (A future probable self did go out there and has the answer, and that answer is available to me now.)

RealityTest: Can you provide our readers with an actual experience in which you asked a future self for help in fixing something?

Cheeky: Yes. I do excavating as one of my playtime activities. I live in a rural area with a few small towns widely scattered within a heavily forested area. One evening I was pulling my skidsteer on a trailer home from a long day's play when the electric brakes on the trailer failed. I was a long way from home and had to drive through a small town to get there. It was too dangerous to drive without trailer brakes, so I coasted to a stop on the shoulder of the highway to fix it. There are a lot of places that the electrical connection could be broken between the brake controller and the wheels and I didn't want to have to track it down as I didn't have the needed electrical tester with me. So I asked my future self where the problem was and how I could fix it. Instantly, I knew that I should check the blue wire in the trailer plug and tighten it with a screwdriver. I opened the plug casing and the blue wire WAS loose, so I screwed it tight and the brakes worked just fine! I was back on the road, safely headed home in a matter of moments.

RealityTest: How did the information come to you? In what form?

Cheeky: It was a loud clear voice. My voice.

RealityTest: What else do you ask your future self?

Cheeky: There are big questions I have asked, as well, such as:

Should I buy that $45,000 piece of equipment now, or wait? (My future probable selves know both sides of that question.)

Is this a business that I'll be glad I went into? (Once again, my future selves know all about it.)

RealityTest: Please tell us about that business.

Cheeky: Well, two and a half years ago I wanted to start a new playtime/business and playing in the dirt was something I loved to do as a kid. Doing it now with the big boys' toys seemed like fun, so I asked my future self if I was happy with that decision. Would I really really like it?

The answer was an enthusiastic "Hell yes! What are you waiting for?"

So I bought a large brand new Bobcat skidsteer, which is a story in itself, and went into the business.

The only drawback was that I didn't have any past experience to draw upon as how to go about bidding and estimating jobs, much less operating the equipment in a professional manner, and I certainly didn't want my prospective clients to know I didn't know what I was doing. I've never let things like that stop me, however.

I drew upon my future self's experience and guidance. It was simply amazing how accurate my hourly estimates were, once the job had been completed. I would meet with the client at the site and give them an estimated number of hours to do the job (the amount of time my inner voice was telling me, because the present "me" didn't really know) and I was always correct.

I would look at jobs and 'know' that this one will take three and one half hours, and that one will take six and one half hours, and another one will take twenty-two hours. It's not that it's difficult, but one does need to have enough experience to be able to size up the job matched to their abilities and the equipment and come up with an accurate number. That experience was available from my future self.

I didn't even know if my machine could actually do some of the things I was being asked to do with it. I just relied on the inner guidance of my future self. It was quite exciting at times but I always "knew" what to do and how to do it at the time I needed to know. I got quite a few compliments on my skill from my clients and they would say things like, "You sure make it look easy," or "You sure do know how to handle that machine!"

RealityTest: Please explain how your future self communicates when you are not actively asking it for information.

Cheeky: My future self sends me a lot of useful stuff all day long as I need it. One day I had worked from 7:00 am until just past 3:00 pm non-stop with no breakfast or lunch. On my way back I had to pass through a small town, where I decided I would stop and eat. I was really hungry. As I neared the cafe that I planned on stopping at, my future self spoke up, telling me to go straight home to eat instead. I didn't want to -- my stomach was grumbling and home was still thirty miles away. As I was slowing down to pull into the cafe, my future self again, this time quite loud and clear, urged me to go home to eat and not to stop here. I reluctantly passed the cafe by, and drove home. I was so hungry that I was thinking of searching for some old french fries that might have been lying on the floor of my truck under the seat.

As I came walking in the door of my home, my wife was just putting dinner on the table, a feast of roast chicken, mashed potatoes, gravy, and more! She said it just got done when I pulled in and was hoping that I would show up. Was I glad that I listened to my future self and hadn't stopped at that cafe! I caught myself sending the message back to my past self right then and there, to come home to eat.

I have done a number of other really great things with this, such as suddenly gaining whole new areas of expertise without going through the process of learning it first, because my probable future selves have already done it for me.

RealityTest: You told a story about learning how to cook. Would you mind sharing it with us?

Cheeky: Sure. Years ago, I was trying to cook delicious meals. They were usually very odd tasting and no one would ever eat the leftovers. I was awful at making anything more complicated than canned soup. Even that wasn't very tasty.

Because I had read about future selves and how we can learn from them in Seth's books, I decided that if I had ever learned how to be a good cook in the future, I could get the information and use it right now. Why do it the hard way?

After a rather embarrassing dinner one night I made the decision that I was ready to know how to do it. Period.

When the wife and I went grocery shopping a few days later I was grabbing stuff off the shelves and tossing it in the cart, to which she kept asking, "What's that for?" I wasn't sure, but I just knew I needed it.

I bought a lot of seasonings, and other new foodstuffs that we never tried before, somehow knowing they were the right choices. I just knew it. I would see it on the shelf and my inner voice would say "take it," so I did.

Then I started cooking. By that I mean that I knew how to REALLY cook. Without recipes, just from future memories or guidance from my future self, I was creating incredibly delicious dishes to both my amazement and everyone else's, too.

I was cooking a wide variety of stuff all at once, timing it all to perfection without the use of timers, without thinking, just doing it in a perfectly natural manner, as if I had done it all thousands of times before.

I created a seafood dish that I had never seen or heard of before that first night. It had grilled shrimp with garlic butter sauce, fettuccine noodles, steamed carrots and celery, a tiny bit of sweet onions and steamed broccoli. I put the broccoli in after the carrots had steamed for a little while so that it wouldn't get mushy, instead staying bright green and slightly crisp. I just knew they were done, and they were perfectly cooked; not too long and not too short. I tossed it all in a large bowl and added freshly chopped cilantro and sweet basil and served it with grated parmesan cheese and hot baked biscuits.

It blew my family away! Damn it was good! I got the recipe about a year later when we went to a seafood restaurant and I ordered it. Mine was far better.

I have gotten so many compliments on my cooking, and folks often ask "Where did you learn how to cook like this?" or "Where did you get the recipe?" I can't tell them that I learned it from my future self, or that I don't use actual recipes, that it simply comes to me as I make it, as they wouldn't understand.

One woman got really mad at me. She demanded my recipe for my chicken soup, claiming that it was the best chicken soup she had ever tasted, but when I told her there was no recipe, that I just make it, and never give any thought as to how I did it, well... she thought I was lying and became quite snooty.

Tags: realitytest, future-selves
Saturday March 3, 2007

Bridging Science and Spirit: Common Elements in David Bohm's Physics, the Perennial Philosophy and Seth

I've now worked my way through Bridging Science and Spirit: Common Elements in David Bohm's Physics, the Perennial Philosophy and Seth, by Norman Friedman. It's not an easy read, but Friedman does manage to make some of the pivotal concepts of quantum physics comprehensible to a mathematically challenged layman like me. He also manages to integrate these ideas, in a surprising degree of technical detail, with the teachings of mystics ("the perennial philosophy") and the allegedly channeled communications of Jane Roberts' Seth.

There are many interesting ideas in the book, and while I've found some of them hard to swallow, others seem right on track. Here's one that I found particularly interesting, from a chapter titled "Space-Time Creation":

As Seth sees it, our electromagnetic spectrum is only a portion of an infinite spectrum in which each portion is defined by the velocity of [light]. Our light has a velocity of 300,000 km/sec, and that velocity defines our universe and our reality. Can we speculate that there are an infinite number of realities, each having a particular velocity for its electromagnetic spectrum?...

Since the velocity of light determines the amount of energy within a given mass, it should affect the subtlety of matter within our [universe]. The higher the velocity, the more subtle the mass. Seth says that since we focus on a particular [universe] defined by our velocity of light, other systems can exist in the same space, and we would not be aware of their particular masses since our normal senses would not detect them. Realities are not separated by space, then, but by the velocity of light.

Descriptions of the mystical experience and other altered states of consciousness often characterize these other systems as involving another frequency domain, usually a higher frequency.... The [Heisenberg] uncertainty principle states that when a particle of mass m behaves like a wave and travels at close to the velocity of light, it will have a wavelength equal to h/mc. This relationship indicates that the wavelength of the mass is inversely proportional to the velocity of light, and the frequency is directly proportional to the velocity of light. In other words, the higher the velocity of light, the higher the frequency domain.

A description that conforms to this concept of various domains operating at different frequencies is found in the near-death experience related by architect Stefan von Jankovich:

One of the greatest discoveries I made during death... was the oscillation principle.... Since that time "God" represents, for me, a source of primal energy, inexhaustible and timeless, continually radiating energy, of sorting energy and constantly pulsating.... Different worlds are formed from different oscillations; the frequencies determine the differences.... Therefore it is possible for different worlds to exist simultaneously in the same place, since the oscillations that do not correspond with each other also do not influence themselves.... Thus birth and death can be understood as events in which, from one oscillation frequency and therefore from one world, we come into another.

In summary, Seth states that our three-dimensional reality is defined by our velocity of light.... According to contemporary physics, our light velocity determines the frequency domain we occupy and the subtlety of the matter we create. [Pages 213-215]

The quotation from Stefan von Jankovich is taken from On Dreams and Death, Marie-Louise von Franz, Shambhalah Publications, page 147.

One of the questions invariably raised when people talk about different frequencies corresponding to different realms of existence is: frequencies of what? The above passage suggests one possible answer: a spectrum of values for the speed of light, all of which, except one, are unknown in the universe as we perceive it. Whether or not this is true, it is certainly intriguing.

Although Friedman's book is hardly light bedtime reading, I recommend it to anyone interested in mind-expanding speculations about the ultimate nature of reality.


We Are the Music-Makers, by Arthur William Edgar O'Shaughnessy

We are the music-makers, And we are the dreamers of dreams, Wandering by lone sea-breakers, And sitting by desolate streams. World-losers and world-forsakers, Upon whom the pale moon gleams; Yet we are the movers and shakers, Of the world forever, it seems. With wonderful deathless ditties We build up the world's great cities, And out of a fabulous story We fashion an empire's glory: One man with a dream, at pleasure, Shall go forth and conquer a crown; And three with a new song's measure Can trample an empire down. We, in the ages lying In the buried past of the earth, Built Nineveh with our sighing, And Babel itself with our mirth; And o'erthrew them with prophesying To the old of the new world's worth; For each age is a dream that is dying, Or one that is coming to birth.

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Buddherotica, by Jeff Wilson (excerpt)

... You are naked and open beneath the sky and mountains, and anticipation charges your limbs. Somewhere above the gods are looking down boldly at you, and you search the constellations for signs of their approval. There is a star shining brightly directly above the bed, brighter than any star you've seen before. It is coming toward you, dropping from the dark tapestry overhead to join you on earth. Ever larger it approaches, until its white brilliance floods the countryside. The light resolves into a mighty form, too large to be a man. Your breath catches in your throat. It is a majestic white elephant, his back broad, his curled trunk strong, his six gleaming tusks sharp and hard. His long-lashed eyes gaze upon you with intelligence. Huge like the mountains, he stands over the bed, and held in his trunk you behold a thousand-petaled lotus flower. ...
* http://www.killingthebuddha.com/dogma/sinners_saints2.htm

Friday, March 02, 2007

Reverend Magdalen

magdalen.jpg

The best media articles on this case:

Buffalo Beast: March 29, 2006 – Followup article: April 10, 2006 Cleveland Free Times: May 31, 2006

Court transcripts:

Transcript of the February 3, 2006 hearing: Adobe Acrobat document Judicial decision of January 5, 2007 (postponed by Stay order of January 12): Adobe Acrobat document

Please consider donating to Magdalen's legal fund, either directly or by purchasing a T-shirt. (Direct donations can be sent via Paypal to magdalen@subgenius.com.

The latest news can be found at the bottom of this page.

Part 1

The story began when Magdalen and her husband, Lord Jesus Christ (a.k.a. Steve Bevilacqua), had a domestic dispute. This is something that happens to many married couples, alas; more importantly, this was their own private business. In fact, it's still their private business, and we wouldn't be hearing about it at all, if something else hadn't happened to cause this case to be exposed to public view.

Magdalen's ex-boyfriend used her domestic dispute as an excuse to file for sole custody of their son. The boy (whose name is being kept private) had been living with her for his entire life; however, after filing a request in Orleans County Court, custody was transferred to him. Magdalen herself has posted copies of the custody filing documents on her blog, at rbevilacqua.blogspot.com (scroll down about two-thirds of the way down the page to see them). But even so, this is still a personal affair and none of our business.

What is our business is what happened after Magdalen contested the custody filing. To counter the accusations of her ex, she filed affidavits that offered a different view of the situation in question (you can read these documents at our page of Magdalen Affidavits). However, the fun really started when her ex used photos of her at our sacred X-Day gathering in an attempt to prove she was an "unfit mother" and unable to care for her own son. The story of what happened next has already become legendary. Magdalen describes it in her own words:

On February 3, 2006, Judge Punch heard testimony in the case. Jeff entered into evidence 16 exhibits taken from the Internet, 12 of which are photographs of the SubGenius event, X-Day. [Magdalen's son] has never attended X-Day and is not in any of the pictures. Rachel is depicted in many of these photos, often wearing skimpy costumes or completely nude, while participating in X-Day and Detroit Devival events.
The judge […] became outraged at the photos of the X-Day parody of Mel Gibson's movie The Passion of the Christ - especially the photo where Jesus [Steve Bevilacqua] is wearing clown makeup and carrying a crucifix with a pool-noodle dollar sign on it while being beaten by a crowd of SubGenii, including a topless woman with a "dildo".
His Honor also strongly disapproved of the photos of Mary Magdalen [Rachel Bevilacqua] in a bondage dress and papier maché goat's head. The judge repeatedly asked, "Why a goat? What's so significant about a goat's head?" When Rachel replied, "I just thought the word 'goat' was funny," Judge Punch lost his temper completely, and began to shout abuse at Rachel, calling her a "pervert," "mentally ill," "lying," and a participant in "sex orgies." The judge ordered that Rachel is to have absolutely no contact with her son, not even in writing, because he felt the pictures of X-Day performance art were evidence enough to suspect "severe mental illness".

When word of this made it out onto the Net, people went ballistic. After learning of this via the Bulldada Newsblog, the webmaster of Bartholomew's Notes on Religion wrote a piece on it for his own blog. From there it made its way into Boing Boing – and that's when the word spread far and wide.

Part 2

Since the news broke, people have been asking Magdalen to post the actual transcripts of the court proceedings, so that they can read Judge Punch's words for themselves and verify that she was speaking the truth. The transcripts of the case were to become available by March 6th. However, for the entire week since March 3rd, Magdalen has been absent from the Internet, and she has not been able to make the transcripts available.

The reason for Magdalen's absence (and the lack of the transcripts) became clear as of Thursday, March 9. On that day, I learned that the judge had ordered Magdalen to cease all communication on the Internet regarding her son. This was not a written statement – the judge had verbally ordered her to remain offline, and no written order was available. Magdalen stated that even though the order was verbal, the court considered it to be an official order from the judge, and so she has had to remain offline since then. This has kept her from updating her blog.

However, as of March 15th, Magdalen had obtained legal representation from none other than the law firm of Lipsitz Green Fahringer Roll Salisbury & Cambria, LLP. (This firm includes Larry Flynt and Marilyn Manson among their clients.) Magdalen's legal team is challenging this order. When the order is overturned and she is online again, she will have quite a story to tell.

On March 26th, the court transcript of Reverend Magdalen's testimony on February 3 was made available online:

www.filecrunch.com/file/~vtdga6
Also: webpages.charter.net/lenny49684/transcript.pdf

(This file does not contain the judge's outburst and final ruling with the alleged "pervert" and "mentally ill" statements, though it does have some interesting parts.)

On March 27th, it was announced that Judge Punch has recused himself from the case, when Rev. Magdalen's case made TV news (briefly):

From the story:

"Judge Punch refused our previous requests for comment on this case. And we learned he is currently out of town. Bevilacqua will be back in court next month, but in front of new judge. Judge Punch recused himself last week."

Please note this does not mean Magdalen has won the case (yet), or that the case has been settled or dismissed. It is being re-assigned to another judge, who will be from a completely different county. Magdalen is hopeful that the new judge will be one who treats the case with less bias and more neutrality, as judges should.

April 7th: The transcript previously made available contained the text of Magdalen's deposition on February 3, 2006. The entire transcript of the proceedings is now available, and can be downloaded in .PDF format from here:

www.filecrunch.com/file/~mxqg1k

Part 3

April 20: On April 19th, Magdalen had her appearance in court in front of a new judge, with a new legal team. We were hoping things would be wrapped up in that single day. That didn't happen, but there is still good news to be had. She wrote an update to her legal case, which can also be found on the newsgroup alt.slack. Judge Eric R. Adams of Batavia seem to be fair and impartial – which is the best kind of judge to hope for in a case of this sort.

"Yesterday was our court date for a "further appearance" in front of Judge Eric R. Adams of Batavia, which basically means it was the first meeting and sorting out of what's going on and what will happen next.
I can't describe how it felt, I was really overcome with emotion afterwards. Judge Adams conducts his courtroom with dignity and respect for all people before his bench, and whenever the conversation turned away from the subject of my son and his wellbeing, Judge Adams steered it right back on track. He has vowed to put my son's welfare first and foremost and to get to the bottom of what's going on and make sure my son isn't in danger. I started crying right then. It was so good to hear those words.

Magdalen's next (and hopefully last) court appearance will take place on June 26th (re-scheduled from June 12).

  • The Cleveland Free Times has published a damning article on the case: [7]

June 28th: The custody trial has taken three days (Friday through Tuesday), and Magdalen is exhausted. Still, despite its length, there is very little to report. There have allegedly been no hysterics, no bombshells, nothing unexpected, and nothing stupid to report. Apparently the trial has gone by the book and proceeded in an orderly fashion. This is being taken by Magdalen's friends as a good sign. Rev. Nickie Deathchick confirmed this lack of events in a message posted to alt.slack: "I have been in contact with Magdalen and Steve this week. Indeed, nothing terribly important to report. But there may be some very, very, very interesting transcripts available sometime in the future."

Update, July 5th, 2006:

Reverend Magdalen's new custody hearing had originally been scheduled for June 12th, but it was postponed until June 23rd. What was originally planned as a two-day hearing was extended to five, and it's still not over at this time. The case is scheduled to continue on July 20th.

The good news is that Magdalen's legal team has been earning their fees. Judge Adams appears to have more of a sense of humor than Judge Punch did, as he has been accepting the humor in such statements as "No, this is NO joke, NO parody" (from page 13 of the Book of the SubGenius).

The bad news is this: because her ex-boyfriend's lawyer is a personal friend, he is receiving his legal assistance for free. This means that they are free to use every delaying and stalling tactic in the book to extend this trial as long as possible, so as to run up massive legal costs for Magdalen. Magdalen's husband was on the witness stand for three full days of cross-examination, during which the Church of the SubGenius was examined minutely. (Jesus had to assist the court stenographer with the proper spelling of such SubGenius Elder Gods as NHGH and G'Broagfran.) These Scientology-like tactics have succeeded in bringing Magdalen's legal costs to exceed $50,000.

Reading between the lines, we can only assume that the opposition is acting out of desperation. Their insistance on using the Church of the SubGenius in the trial – again, after doing the same thing five months ago – suggests they have nothing else to work on, so they are once again trying to bring up the argument of an evil, Satanic sex cult.

Meanwhile, X-Day took place during the week of June 28th through July 5th. Aside from the Escape Vessels of the Sex Goddesses failing to show up once again, this was one of the most enjoyable, exciting, and Slackful X-Days of all. (A number of events were held especially to honor Judge Punch, and we are waiting to see if photos of these events end up in the court case.) Unfortunately, Jesus (Steve) was unable to attend X-Day due to his business commitments – this trial has put such a strain on him, he actually had to work on the Fourth of July. His presence at Brushwood was sorely missed, because if there's anyone who deserves rest, relaxation, and Slack in this affair, it's him.

As before, transcripts and other documents will be made available online as soon as possible. Until then, I ask you to read the documents currently available, and to accept my word that I am presenting this as truthfully as possible. (The court is not allowed to release transcripts until the legal proceedings have finished. Due to the time necessary to transcribe the court documents, transcripts may not be available until around September.)

IMPORTANT: The brave and hardy administrators of Taphouse IRC (the official IRC network of the Church of the SubGenius) have begun a fundraiser for Magdalen's legal fund, by producing T-shirts with a goat head logo and the quote "Why a goat?" (as was repeated by the original judge in this case). These shirts are being sold for $20, of which $8.10 of every sale will go directly to her legal fund. All help is appreciated, and every little bit helps. The URL for the fund-raiser is:

www.spreadshirt.com/shop.php?sid=32908

(At X-Day, a special T-shirt autographed by Magdalen was auctioned off for $120, with the entire amount going to her legal fund. This shirt was purchased by none other than Pat "The Man" Volkerding, the man responsible for Slackware!)

Up-to-the-minute updates can be found on the IRC channel #subgenius and the newsgroup alt.slack.

July 23: Magdalen states, "Court ran out of time again, and we are adjourned until August 11, and then again for August 23." In regards to the case being repeatedly dragged on: "…there's nothing you can do about that, that's a regular-type lawyering strategy."

August 3: Rev. Ivan Stang posts a bulletin to alt.slack noting that Magdalen must provide $10,000 immediately to support her legal costs: [8]

September 19: There has been little development over the past month: the opposition has repeatedly called for delays and postponements, with little actual progress being made. Magdalen writes today: "Basically, court is supposed to finish this Friday (September 22). We go Wednesday afternoon and all day Friday, and then we're supposed to finish." We can only hope this is the final end to the court proceedings. If this is so, then it will be at least another two weeks before Judge Adams publishes a ruling.

November 30: Apparently the definition of "two weeks" used in the American legal system is really "two months, or however long we decide to make it." For those who are still following this case: Magdalen is still awaiting the final decision from Judge Adams regarding the custody case of her son. The only news reported has been that the opposition is still attempting delaying tactics, and everyone is simply waiting for the final decision. Magdalen is still in New York, waiting for the outcome of the case – which has now lasted nearly an entire year.

On the plus side, a new published article about the case appeared in the Batavia, NY Journal-Register on November 30: [9]

Part 4

January 6, 2007: Reverend Magdalen announced today that she has received a call from her lawyer stating the custody battle has been won. She will rejoin her son on Monday, January 8, 2007. The official judge's decision will be made public then.

Magdalen writes in email: "Well, at only one month late, the decision is finally rendered, and I won! I haven't actually gotten the paper yet, but my lawyer has it and he read me the highlights over the phone."

Post to alt.slack: [10]

Boing Boing reported the news story on Thursday night, January 11th ([11]). By the next day, the blogs had picked up the good news. Unfortunately, just as word was spreading about Magdalen's victory, an unexpected turn of events took place.

January 12, 2007: As is often the case in these situations, a last-minute emergency has arisen. Reverend Magdalen writes:

"I went to pick [my son] from school yesterday. I wrote and telephoned the principal, Mr. Matt Penrod ( Mpenrod@lyndonville.wnyric.org ), emailing him a copy of Judge Adams’ Court Order giving me residential custody, and informing him I was coming to get [my son] and not to let Jeff take him. As I was driving to the school to pick [my son] up, I telephoned to double-check. Mr. Penrod informed me that he had allowed Jeff to take [my son].

"[My son] and Jeff were missing until this morning, when Jeff returned [my son] to school. It was the most frightening night of my life.

"The reason Jeff did all this is that there is a Stay hearing today. It’s just like when the Presidential election happened and Antonin Scalia ordered Florida to stop counting votes. Basically, Jeff has asked an Appeals Court judge to stay the order of Judge Adams, and they are going to decide on that this afternoon. For some reason, Jeff thought that this Stay hearing gave him the right to do what he did, or so he claims. He is wrong, of course, but he still got away with it. The police looked for them all evening and didn’t find them.

"The Stay hearing starts at 3 PM and I’m fighting to have [my son] with me at that time, because I’m afraid that if the stay is denied, Jeff may take off with [my son] again just like last night."

January 12, 2007 – Magdalen writes:

"I just got the call from my lawyer that the appeals court judge has granted a Stay of the order granting me custody. I never actually got to enjoy that custody during the 30-some hours it was in effect, because the school let Jeff take [my son] and hide him overnight.

"The Stay is conditional on the case being heard at the earliest opportunity, which is in May 2007. Until that time, Jeff's order of Temporary Sole Custody issued by Judge Punch on December 23, 2005 in an ex-parte hearing of which I was not informed, remains in effect.

"The appeals court judge did order expanded visitation for me, so that it will be the standard every-other-weekend visitation rather than the restricted 8-hours per week I've been living with.

"Please let the people know about this, it's really hard when I keep getting all these congratulations in my inbox."

(My own apologies to everyone: the announcement last Saturday that the case had been won was the latest we'd heard, until the sudden unexpected turn of events on Friday, January 12. We sincerely believed the case was over, but unfortunately it is only one more chapter of an ever-increasing tale of injustice.)

January 13th: Rev. Ivan Stang provides an update for Magdalen: "This last judge decided that although SubGenius isn't a real devil cult, but is 'art,' it is nonetheless the kind of art that will somehow be harmful to a child. (I suppose art like video games or cop shows is harmless compared to, say, a SubGenius book on the top shelf.)" Rev. Stang's complete message to alt.slack can be read here: [12]

Boing Boing published an update on Tuesday, January 16: [13]

The text of Judge Adams' decision on January 5th, 2007, was made available online on January 21st. It can be downloaded at this location:

www.filecrunch.com/file/~mxqg9v

The text of the Stay order placing this decision on hold has not been made available yet; however, Magdalen's lawyers have stated it will be made available shortly.

The judicial decision includes commentary on the personal life of Magdalen and her husband that, quite frankly, I still believe is none of our business. However, the commentary on the Church of the SubGenius is quite interesting: it suggests that Judge Adams is suspicious of our Church, as he refers to SubGenius writings as "drivel." But, reluctantly, he did not find anything in it that has had an adverse affect on Magdalen's relationship, or on her son.

In a surprising twist, Judge Adams has ordered Magdalen to remove all SubGenius literature, books, pictures, etc. from her home. This, apparently, is in order to protect her son from the awful SubGenius influence – or, more precisely, because the son's father does not want the boy exposed to our evil cult. (However, Magdalen is allowed to set up her own "office" with SubGenius paraphernalia. Although the decision doesn't say this, I suspect the judge would allow it as long as the office is locked.)


Please consider donating to Magdalen's legal fund, either directly or by purchasing a T-shirt. (Direct donations can be sent via Paypal to magdalen@subgenius.com.

Up-to-the-minute updates can be found on the IRC channel #subgenius and the newsgroup alt.slack.

Legal Fund

IMPORTANT: Because Magdalen has a new legal team, donations to her legal fund are to be sent to a new address. Based upon consultation with her lawyers, the current estimate of the cost of her defense was approximately $20,000 US; however, legal stalling tactics by the opposition have driven this to over $50,000, with more still to come. This number is still in flux. Paypal donations can still be sent to magdalen@subgenius.com. Checks or other payments can be mailed to the attention of:

Rachel Bevilacqua
c/o Christopher S. Mattingly
Lipsitz Green LLP
42 Delaware Avenue
Suite 300
Buffalo, New York 14202-3857
www.lglaw.com/attorneys-39.html

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    Crazy Wisdom & New Age Narcissism — Honouring our collective narcissistic shadow

    by Andrew P A ramble through the world of crazy wisdom, New Age narcissim, spiritual teachers, psychological & physical abuse, our collective shadow and malignant self-love. I LOVE TONY BLAIR AND GEORGE BUSH. No, really do! I like them because they have been so appalling in government, so wicked in their foreign policies, and so corrupt with their erosion of human rights and democratic freedom, that people are waking up to the bankruptcy of our current political system. As a result, never before have so many of us been united into creating a new world for ourselves, and bypassing government. We realize we can no longer afford to keep asking permission for things to change because the very "democratic" system itself is hardwired to maintaining the status quo. It only gives us the illusion that we are being listened to, and at this critical period in our history, when so much is teetering on the edge of the abyss, we can no longer afford illusions, no matter how "democratic" they seem to be. So I do love Bush and Blair because they have shown us the way. They are the light-bearers for the new world, in the same tradition that Lucifer was and is. Synonymous with "Satan", Lucifer's name means "light-bearer" and he was said to be the very brightest in the heavenly host before he assumed the status of a fallen angel. Could it be that it wasn't hubris that toppled Lucifer from his high perch in Biblical mythology, but service? After all, some amongst us need to assume roles that help the collective play out their shadow. As Jung said: "One does not become enlightened by imagining figures of light, but by making the darkness conscious." And so in this vein, Blair, Bush, Lucifer and every other evil-doer on the planet share a tradition of giving us opportunities to make the darkness conscious. When tragedy happens, we often see the best of human spirit, because tragedy shakes us from lives of complacency and routine. We glimpse our vulnerability and our humanity, and in so doing we naturally come together to comfort and love one another. The modern Western life is, however, in direct opposition to this coming together, with countless barriers to human co-joining: we compete for jobs, live in containers, drive containers, get lost in media illusions, use sex to avoid intimacy, hanker after the chimeras of fame and fortune, and live practically our whole lives behind the ego's mask. Tragedy cuts right through these barriers, so that we glimpse once again our innate unity, before the momentum of Western society has a chance to resurrect the barriers on which its dysfunction depends, separating us out again into competitors and waring factions. This glimpse of our innate unity is our greatest grace, and it is something that we all pursue under many different guises. Formally, it might be known as spirituality, religion or community; but everybody is looking for unity to some degree – we try to get it from the "tribal" buzz of supporting a sports team, from the ephemeral ecstasy of the sexual embrace, and from alcohol's comforting inebriation. The Holy Grail has always been that place beyond barriers, where we can collectively flow free. Recently, a survey was done by journalists to determine which city-dwellers were most polite to strangers. Surprisingly, New York, with its reputation for rudeness, turned out to be the politest city in the world. Ex-mayor, Ed Kock, explained that, "Since 9/11 New Yorkers are more caring. They understand the shortness of life." This is the power of darkness… it can show up the light in blazing contrast. But it raises an interesting question: does this mean that the plane hijackers who crashed into the towers were in any way themselves "bringers of light"? Their actions, although most terrible, most certainly catalyzed some positive changes across America, and the rest of the world that initially united with America in the face of such tragedy (before it was eroded by the American-led invasion of Iraq). Of course, most people's would be outraged by such a suggestion. Bringers of the light indeed! Does that mean that we should be grateful to Hitler for his unspeakable crimes because in committing them he united the whole world in taking steps to stop this level of evil happening again? Hitler certainly made the darkness conscious for the rest of humanity… but does this therefore condone his actions? Perhaps in the bigger picture a soul like Hitler's was doing the ultimate service by playing out an extreme of evil, and in the process giving us all a place to project our own darkness or shadow, until, as a society, we become strong and conscious enough to face it in ourselves? (Although, just because his actions might be doing the rest of humanity some service in the long run does not imply that he does not face the karma from his actions, or that those destructive actions were morally justified.) It would be true, from a psychological perspective, to say that when we find we have less monsters in the world it is an indication that we have learned to accept more of the darkness within rather than needing to project it externally. Darkness is only dark because it is unconscious, not because of any labels of "bad" or "negative" that are usually placed upon it. Integrating this darkness, which means accepting it and preferably expressing it harmlessly, can be an enlightening experience. But it takes courage because of our own and society's predilection to owning it as little as possible. Jack Kornfield tells the myth in one of his books of the Devil meeting the Buddha, and as they walk arm in arm the Devil complains how hard it is to play his role of darkness, to which the Buddha replies, "Do you think it is easy being a Buddha?". Light and dark; dark and light… two sides of the same coin of wholeness… the place where we can flow free from duality. The question still remains whether this means that there are no wrongful acts, no matter how cruel, destructive and unkind, because such acts have the potential to stir things up, crack the container, and let in the light. Are classic evil-doers let off the hook, their actions merely misinterpreted service to humanity, playing out the shadow for the rest of us? Is murder therefore justified in some cases? How about genocide? Or if these are too extreme to contemplate, how about deliberately hurting someone because we know it is "good for them"? Can we beat a child to instill discipline, or kick our dog to show who is the leader of the pack? Are we justified in acting unkindly if that unkindness leads to greater overall kindness? Can we experiment on animals because we are helping so many human beings in the process? In other words, does the end justify the means, and does the end therefore excuse the person enacting those means if that end is ultimately regarded in a positive and constructive light? There are several mythical illustrations of beings who committed murder because they were so evolved they were beyond karma… the laws of wrong doing. In Tibetan mythology, Padmasambhava (Dorje Trollo) murdered a man so that he could stop living the life of a king and fulfill his spiritual destiny which was to found the dhama in Tibet. And the old Testament of the Bible is full of murders and wars justified because they were part of God's plan. But myth is myth, and whilst it has great value in speaking to us symbolically, it may never originally have been intended to be taken literally. So let's look at something a little more factual and contemporary — the life of guru Franklin Jones (called variously Da Free John and Adi Da) for example. Jones lives with his community of devotees on an island in Fiji, although he has many other devotee communities around the world. He was originally a member of the Church of Scientology back in the '60s before he branched out and declared of himself, "I am He", and started his own church. Jones is an advocate of "crazy wisdom", a term coined largely by Chogyma Trungpa to refer to someone whose spirituality is supposedly so developed, free-flowing and detached from "expected" behavior that they will often throw up the unexpected — they act crazy. This can be valuable because, in bringing up the unexpected, their followers are continually discouraged from building up concepts and masks of spiritual piety. Crazy wisdom challenges the ego big time. An example might be a teacher of a vegetarian spiritual community who suddenly eats meat to break down the concept in her disciples' eyes that vegetarianism is spirituality. After all, true spirituality is supposed to be the free flow of the heart and pure being beyond all concepts (at least in the Eastern traditions — crazy wisdom in the West is just labeled hypocrisy). So Franklin Jones, an advocate of crazy wisdom, acts not in a way that you would expect a spiritual teacher to behave. However, even from the point of view of the tradition of crazy wisdom, Jones takes it to excess. Ex-followers of his have told stories of a guru that practiced sexual excess, used illegal drugs, drunk to excess, ate meat (whilst forbidding others to), presided over beatings and rapes, and who demanded absolute obedience in all things. He would hold mock trials for his disciples, hit them, seduce them. Everything in his community has become centered around himself and his demands, under the claim that everything he does is for the good of his followers. For example, a woman who admitted she had been molested as a child was ordered by Jones to publically perform oral sex on three men, before having sex with Jones. Ex-follower, Mark Miller, explained that, "Once he had our trust, he exploited us for whatever we were worth. As sex slaves, or laborers, or whatever it was we had." That is crazy wisdom for you, taken to the extreme. Jones would claim that in acting in the way he does, he destroys the ego of his followers, for they are unable to form a concept of spirituality because their guru keeps breaking any concepts by his erratic behaviour. (Actually, I am sure they are forming concepts of spirituality anyway, but rather negative and destructive ones.) But where is that dividing line between teaching spirituality and exploitation. Perhaps there is none: maybe exploitation itself leads to spiritual development? I have little doubt that Jones is sincere in his actions, and that he genuinely believes that he is helping his disciples when he forces such outrage and excess upon them. A more secular example of crazy wisdom is demonstrated by Richard Bandler, one of the founders of Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP). NLP is now used extensively in the personal development world, and few would deny that Bandler has genius. But there is another side to Bandler that few who walk the halls of sanitized NLP workshops know about. An article entitled, "The Bandler Method" featured in Mother Jones Magazine in 1989, described Bandler as a disturbed individual at odds with the world: a heavy cocaine user; an alcoholic; a wife-beater; a man who has threatened to murder on many occasions; a man who thinks nothing of drawing a gun in a therapeutic session to "encourage" change; and a man who strongly implicated in the murder of prostitute Corine Christensen who one morning was shot in the head at close range, having been told by Bandler just eight hours before, "I'll blow your brains out." (Bandler was never convicted for this, despite his blood-spattered shirt and inconsistencies in his account, because his story of events that morning mirrored that of his friend who was also at the scene of the crime and who also told an unconvincing story, and so the jury had to reluctantly let both men walk away because they could not decide which one of the two had actually killed her.) Although Bandler may have this dark side, there is no denying that her has helped thousands of people reprogram their minds over the years with the NLP techniques that he was instrumental in developing. And there is no doubt that his "crazy wisdom" approach to teaching has made him a very memorable teacher and a high-profile proponent of NLP (whether his confrontational style makes him an effective teacher is open to question). But does the fact that he has also helped people mitigate his unsavory and immoral behavior over the years? The writers of the Mother Jones article on Bandler, Frank Clancy and Heidi Yorkshire, have a very perceptive take on this. They write: "Bandler's story is, in a sense, a parable of the New Age. Having rejected many of the boundaries that govern relations among people, he was like a sailor without anchor or sails, adrift in a peculiarly New Age sea. Here the individual was sovereign; problems were solved easily and self-examination was denigrated; the past could be reimagined at will, and morality was relative. Here Bandler could deny not only guilt, but all responsibility for the death of Corine Christensen." Maybe that is a display of effectiveness of his NLP techniques – the ultimate reframing – so that even the most heinous crimes can be deleted from the mind? Whether Bandler is a con man and/or a psychology genius (NLP is a method of conning ourselves into accepting a new brain pattern), and whether Franklin Jones is an exploiting predator and/or a spiritual teacher, actually doesn't make a lot of difference to their followers. Whatever the truth is about their inner psychological states and motives, both are undeniably powerful catalysts for change. The question for their followers is whether that change is in the right direction and long-term, and whether it could have instead been achieved by less confrontational and extreme means. Otherwise, any abuse is just not worth it – the teachings may be crazy but they only lead to long-term trauma. If the change in the followers is life-enhancing, then do the means by which it came about become irrelevant? If Bandler stops an alcoholic drinking by holding a gun to his head and threatening to blow his brains out if he doesn't stop, or if Jones helps an abuse victim get over her past by forcing her to participate in public sexual acts, are these acts then justified because of their "healing" context? Can threatening to kill someone or raping someone be recontextualized so that these acts are seen as desirable under certain circumstances? Does this mean that morality becomes entirely relative, dependent upon circumstance and context? If that context is just a matter of perspective, then with the correct mental juggling we can hold ourselves with impunity under any circumstances. Many believe that despite the outcome of our actions, our motivation for those actions determines the personal moral debt or karma we will need to pay off. And as we can never really judge another's motivation without being inside their skin. But even motivations are not clear cut to ourselves — there can be many conflicting motivations mixed together in the same person. We may want to genuinely help someone, but at the same time we may be attracted to them and want to help them rather too intimately. Or we may genuinely want to heal someone whilst denying to ourselves that the excessive fee we are charging for this help is not part of our motivational factor. Often, we are not even conscious of our motivations as they are buried in the subconscious. But then karma is not usually conscious either, so we can certainly pay for motivations that we are not consciously aware of. But how do we get out of so much relativism and call a spade a spade? Are we therefore doomed to letting individuals like Jones and Bandler continue in ways that most of us feel are not right? Perhaps it is the heart we have to appeal to if we want to see these situations more clearly. As St. Exupery says in his book The Little Prince, "It is only with the heart that one can see rightly. The essential is invisible to the eye." And yet both these men, especially Jones, have followers who deeply love them. Does that mean their hearts are deluded? Probably not. The heart looks for a different kind of truth — connections. And it will find these even in the most hellish of circumstances. But just because someone who perpetrates "evil" actions is lovable to some people does not automatically condone his or her actions. So the heart is the glue that connects us all together, and its strength is that it can deliberately overlook the most hideous of actions and motivations because that is its nature: it sees only what is essential — connection. But feelings are more than just the heart. And I think it is here that we can most successfully appeal for a more solid framework with which to have discernment in situation such as these. We feel with the full spectrum of our energy centers (chakras), not just the heart, and this includes intuition and mind. And from this feeling place most people would instinctively recoil from the Jones' and Bandlers of this world. Fools rush in where angels fear to tread. But that may also uncharitable because some individuals need these types of maverick teachers in order to learn their lessons. They are not fools, but may intuitively recognize that this level of "abusive" behaviour is the only thing that is going to shake them into making fundamental changes in this lifetime, such is the stuckness of some people. So we come back to the fact that even "abusive" teachers like these have a place in the world. Maybe once all of us lay the "abuse-me" or "he can do it for me" programs to sleep, these teachers' service will be over and they themselves can move on? Again, no clear answers. All we know is that most would classify their actions as "abuse", and that some appear to grow as a result of this "abuse". Using trauma to heal, however, is like playing Russian Roulette… you never quite know how it will turn out, and quite frankly I am sure these sorts of teacher, although sincere, don't really care as they are totally immersed in their own worlds and justifications. As Steven Goodman says in an interview on crazy wisdom, "What we call crazy is only crazy from the viewpoint of ego, custom, habit. The craziness is actually higher frequency enjoyment. Besides, the great spiritual adepts, the mahasiddhas, don't decide to be crazy. Crazy wisdom is natural, effortless, not driven by the hope and fear machine of the ego." This of course could just be a justification for hurtful, egotistical and destructive behavior. One of the best defenses of the ego is to for it to claim that it is beyond ego, flowing with higher frequencies. Delusion after delusion after delusion. I think the clue that Goodman inadvertently lets out the bag is that, "The craziness is actually higher frequency enjoyment." When Jones forces a woman to have sex or Bandler pulls out a gun to force change, they are actually in the flow of their own enjoyment. This indicates that crazy wisdom may have a strong link to the pathological narcissism. Both states do share a lot of the same characteristics; they are just usually described from different perspectives — crazy wisdom from a spiritual perspective and narcissism from a psychological perspective. But although different vocabularies are used, the concepts and outcome are essentially the same. Sam Vaknin describes pathological narcissism in his book, Malignant Self Love - Narcissism Revisited, as "a life-long pattern of traits and behaviours which signify infatuation and obsession with one's self to the exclusion of all others and the egotistic and ruthless pursuit of one's gratification, dominance and ambition." If we compare that with Goodman's description of crazy wisdom: "It refers to someone who seems to be intoxicated with an un-bounded, luminous, loving energy," it would seem that the two are unconnected. However, if you have ever been around someone with pathological narcissistic tendencies you will know the intoxication of their loving-energy. But that loving energy is actually being directed to themselves or to reflections of themselves in the mirror of other people. A narcissist in a room of people is actually completely alone because he or she sees others as merely extensions of self. This is why constant attention is so fundamental to narcissists — without it they literally have no sense or connection to themselves, they cease to exist. And from the crazy-wisdom perspective, the love of God inside is so strong that other people are regarded as servants to that God. The intention may be good, but there is little awareness of "the human other" because the experience of self becomes an all-consuming divine relationship. This is not to say that there are not teachers that can facilitate crazy wisdom in a way that does not have a pathological edge — in a way that retains respect for the other. These teachers tend to be Eastern because the character of the Eastern psyche has traditionally been different from the ideal Western psyche: whereas the Western society developed individuality, self-indulgence, egotism and self-expression, the Eastern society developed collectivism, temperance, humility and empty-mind. And you can only execute crazy wisdom compassionately and wisely if you have temperance, humility and an empty mind. (Of course there are many exceptions, and more so these days as the two cultures blend. Also some Eastern cultures may be more individual than others and some Western cultures more collective than others. However, just because the demarcation is not clean does not mean that it is invalid.) Most Eastern and Western practitioners of crazy wisdom have the same goal: to help the student move into empty mind by challenging that mind and its preconceptions at all levels. However, the application of crazy wisdom tends to be different in the two cases, with the Eastern practitioner focused on the collective goal whereas the Western practitioner can become extremely self-indulgent. (This is not to say that Western crazy wisdom is not as effective.) So we hear stories of Tibetan crazy-wisdom teachers who seem quite balanced and temperate, whilst Western crazy-wisdom teachers can become quite excessive and extreme. Narcissism has traditionally been more of a Western psychological condition because individuality is such a strong component of the Western psyche. (Again, there are and have been many narcissists in the East — we are talking in general terms here.) When the Dali Lama was fairly recently told that shame and self-loathing were some of the issues that Westerners have to deal with, he was amazed as they are not issues at all in his own country. Shame is strongly linked to pathological narcissism. Of course, the East has "pride" issues, but narcissism goes much further than pride. So narcissism may be the necessary price a society has to pay that promotes individual expression above collective synergy. Here in the West our religion is mixed strongly with psychology because individualism is so important. In bookshops, spirituality has become a strong part of self-help and motivation sections. In fact, it is often difficult to separate them. Narcissists can be found in all walks of life, but they are particularly attracted to spiritual communities because is is on the the main areas in society in which anybody can be the center of attention just by who they are, and not by what they have achieved. All it takes is confidence in your superiority amongst men, and narcissists have this in abundance. (The other area in which narcissists thrive is fashion, mass-media, personal development coaches and the film industry — in fact anywhere were the "look" or form takes precedence over the substance.) Most traditional religions that are ideologically-focused and not person-focused tend not to suffer as much infiltration from pathological narcissists because they have a structure that has developed over hundreds of years that specifically discourages personal aggrandizement. And even the traditional person-focused guru-mediated type religions of Eastern countries are less open to narcissistic abuse because each guru tends to come from a long lineage and therefore his narcissism is kept in check because his own guru is always regarded as greater than himself. So a certain level of humility is maintained. In fact, those gurus who have displayed the greatest hubris tend to be those with false or no spiritual lineage; they have assumed a role for their own reasons. (This does not imply that those with no spiritual lineage are necessarily narcissists, only that this route tends to attract a greater share of individuals with this psychological profile.) Limiting factors on narcissism, however, go completely out the window with the New Age or cultural creative movement. Here, there is no lineage. Rather, the individual declares himself a spiritual being, and he rides that declaration for all it's worth. The New Age is a term used for the spiritual counterculture that arose in the later part of the 20th century and which holds that there is a new spiritual era dawning at this time which will transform the world, lifting it out of its current despair and destruction. Many of us sincerely believe that this is in process, as evidenced by the strong spiritual awakening that seems to be taking place. You could call it the democratization of spirituality, whereby the authority of what it means to be spiritual, who exactly is spiritual, and how much they are spiritual is taken out of the hands of a spiritual elite and put back into the hands of each person. We declare our own spirituality; we define our own evolution, our own limits, and our own place in the grand order of things. We accept our birthright as spiritual beings with no need for permission or initiation rites or outdated religious systems. Whilst this throws the door open to each of us who want spirituality without the traditional religious dogma (we get New Age dogma instead, but at least we have more possibilities to choose from) it also invites every narcissist to become "the one" that they have always believed that they were born as. So the New Age has a greater share of people displaying narcissism than in most other areas of culture and society (except in the areas such as fashion and film mentioned above). This explains the popularity of the belief within the New Age movement in "indigo" or "crystal" children — realized souls specifically being born into this world to save it by breaking down outdated systems (system busting) and raising its vibration. If we can appoint ourselves spiritual beings then we can appointed our children as well. Again, nothing particularly wrong with this. There is certainly evidence that advanced souls are coming through at this challenging time to help the birthing process of this new spiritual age that is currently dawning. But at the same time this scenario offers a perfect cover for those with pathological narcissism to "strut their stuff"… although putting up with them is a small price to pay for the freeing and empowering paradigm shift of not having to ask permission from some authority to be spiritual any more! So many New Agers can come across as a little narcissistic — this is perfectly natural and there is nothing wrong with that. In fact, it is to be somewhat expected from the foundational beliefs and practices of this spiritual movement — herein lies its power to escape from religious dogma that has enslaved humanity for thousands of years. But if that self-appointing aspect appears all-consuming and excessive, then we are probably dealing with a pathological New Age narcissist, one that is expounding on spiritual philosophy and divine self-importance primarily for reasons of self-validation. Of course, as in the case of those who teach with crazy wisdom, New Age narcissists are likely to appear sincere, wise and extremely appealing. They will usually go overboard with their expressions of love for others, to mask the fact that they actually feel very little love. So just someone is a narcissist does not mean that he or she is not spiritual, although pathological narcissism and spirituality may well be mutually exclusive. Someone who becomes addicted to attention and who cannot just enjoy its moment and let it pass (the difference between pathological narcissism and ordinary narcissism) has a problem because in the effort to continually up the ante and keep attention flowing, the pathological narcissist veers away from authenticity in order to artificially remain the center of things. And as authenticity is a requirement for spirituality, the pathological New Age narcissist actually cuts herself off from the genuine spiritual experience. New Age narcissists may delude themselves into thinking that the "honey pot" self they have constructed IS authentic, but those more perceptive around them will know that it is just the addict's fabrication to maintain supply — the supply of attention. All pathological narcissists are serial liars. Franklin Jones' lie is that he is a spiritual teacher helping individuals become free. This lie attracts in unsuspecting followers. Richard Bandler's lie is that the responsibility for our actions can be dropped just by reframing our thoughts, and this lie is reflected by events in Bandler's own troubled life. Ron Hubbard's lie is that what he wrote is more than bad science fiction, although he did base his work on biofeedback which has some usefulness for some individuals. The list of lies by narcissistic teachers is endless. It can be very difficult for us to determine whether the confidence that self-appointed spiritual teachers tend to have comes from true spiritual development or psychological narcissism (or perhaps both). Seekers hooked on truth "out there" will always end up putting their lives into the hands of the most charismatic teacher or guru going, in the false belief that their "feel good radar" gives them the appropriate discernment. But feeling good is not enough because narcissistic individuals are experts at making others feel good. That is their game, and they are experts at it. In fact, many will go so overboard with giving the spiritual seeker attention and affection that it is very easy for the unaware to get sucked into this narcissistic game — the sort of game that Franklin Jones is so good at. And whilst the bait of love and specialness may first be used by the narcissistic teacher to hook in followers, once they form an emotionally codependent relationship with the teacher, one that becomes extremely strong and intimate, the love can be replaced by a whole array of emotions and behaviour… anything that supplies attention. This is why those on the outside of these types of spiritual groups only hear about the teacher's love, whereas only those who have managed to work their way into the teacher's inner circle will see the temper tantrums and inconsistencies. But by this time the student has too much invested emotionally and intellectually to back out, and a pathological relationship between narcissist and supplier is established. Is there much difference between narcissism and crazy wisdom? Whilst crazy wisdom is a tradition in the East, and pathological narcissism a tradition in the West, as the world becomes more global these two traditions are increasingly melding together, so both crazy wisdom and narcissism are increasingly seen in the same individuals. It takes real emptiness, authenticity and humility to execute crazy wisdom without narcissism, something which most Western teachers do not have these days, so they would be wise to avoid the crazy-wisdom approach. In a society which values individuality, crazy wisdom can be extremely traumatic. Jung spoke about the "individuation" of the ego, not its abuse and annihilation. Narcissism is a natural progression to that individuation, provided that it does not develop into addiction. For those of us who have experienced pathological narcissism either in themselves or in another, it is all too easy to throw out the baby with the bathwater, and to spurn all "self" and "self-love". We know how destructive it can be and so we will sometimes run a mile when we see it. In fact, the general consensus with regards to how to deal with narcissists is to get away! But narcissism is endemic to Western society itself… our media is full of narcissism. The Western way IS the narcissistic way. Pathological narcissists are the light-bearers that play out our collective narcissism because few of us consciously own it. And yet we must if we are to pass through to healthy individualism — Jung's individuation. Otherwise, we just oscillate between narcissism and poor self-esteem, never understanding our predicament because we are in denial. Why don't we own our narcissism? Because if we are part of the New Age movement we have very little outlet for our shadow except through either conspiracy theory (which projects it away from us) or malignant self-love (which most of us are in denial about). Either way we actually lose wholeness and integrity (those obsessed with conspiracy or those addicted to self-love are both notoriously unbalanced). If we refuse to formalize ways of expressing darkness, it will be expressed unconsciously — the psyche ALWAYS balances itself. Conspiracy and pathological narcissism, however, are not really helpful to the true spiritual seeker because they are so easy to get stuck in; there is so much about their expression that is unconscious. In Jung's terms, they are not making the inner darkness conscious. We have to remember that although it is easy to reject orthodox religion as being out-of-date and dogmatic, they have evolved over hundreds of years to express both our innate light and our innate darkness. And we avoid the darkness at our peril. With the influx of Eastern religions like Tibetan Buddhism and Zen, narcissism has acquired a bad name — self-love has been replaced by empty mind. But the Western way is through self-love; narcissism is part of our dharma. So rather than denying our narcissistic tendencies, or becoming completely addicted to them, we need to find a middle way: a balanced appreciation and conscious awareness of healthy narcissism. And in so doing, we will no longer employ the services of pathological narcissists as our light-bearers (or conspiracy theorists for that matter), in the same way that when we learn to stop asking permission from our politicians to create a new society. They will all become redundant. So as well as Tony Blair and George Bush who I thanked at the beginning of this article for their "selfless" service to humanity, I would like to add Franklin Jones, Richard Bandler, Ron Hubbard, and every other pathological narcissist /crazy-wisdom teacher that has made a difference. You, my friends, are the light-bearers in dark times, and the sooner we no longer need your services the better it will be for all of us!

    Thursday, March 01, 2007

    Amoretti III: The Sovereign Beauty, by Edmund Spenser

    [photo courtesy of night_scanner and his daughter] * The sovereign beauty which I do admire, Witness the world how worthy to be praised: The light whereof hath kindled heavenly fire In my frail spirit, by her from baseness raised; That being now with her huge brightness dazed, Base thing I can no more endure to view; But looking still on her, I stand amazed At wondrous sight of so celestial hue. So when my tongue would speak her praises due, It stopped is with thought's astonishment: And when my pen would write her titles true, It ravish'd is with fancy's wonderment: Yet in my heart I then both speak and write The wonder that my wit cannot endite. * [photo courtesty of 518]

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