WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Stressed out by the economy? The U.S. government is offering an online emotional rescue kit.
The "Getting Through Tough Economic Times" guide at www.samhsa.gov/economy/ is meant to help people identify any serious health concerns related to financial worries, develop coping skills and find help, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration said on Tuesday.
Studies show a serious risk of clinical depression, anxiety and compulsive behaviors such as gambling, overeating and even spending stemming from stress, SAMHSA said.
A trader covers his face as he speaks on the phone during in Moscow, June 18, 2004.(REUTERS/Sergei Karpukhin)
"By helping people remain resilient, we can help promote the overall recovery of our nation," SAMHSA Acting Administrator Eric Broderick said in a statement.
Of particular importance is helping people see the warning signs of depression, suicidal thinking and other serious mental illnesses, SAMHSA said.
These include, according to the website:
Lack of sleep/constant fatigue
Illicit drug use, including misuse of medications
The site directs people to caregivers and also offers tips on ways to reduce the causes of stress, such as finding a new job and refinancing mortgages.
Hear that buzzing? That's a collection of strings, made variously taut, and then plucked. It sounds like a guitar when I describe it, but not when I play it; when I play it, unlike a guitar, this instrument actually sounds like a collection of strings, buzzing, immanent. Do you feel happy? This buzzing was perhaps the world's first anti-depressant and almost certainly its most effective.
King David is well remembered for his skill for killing with taut string, but less well remembered for his ability to heal using the same. The first King of Israel, David's predecessor Saul, was tormented by an evil spirit, sent by god; the only relief from this torment was provided by David's harp playing -- a tough pill to swallow, so to speak, since Saul rightly viewed David as a formidable rival. Still, what choice did he have but to accept the cure? David would play, buzz, buzz, buzz, and "relief would come to Saul; he would feel better, and the evil spirit would leave him."
David's harp -- what we now know as the begena -- is not often played anymore outside of Ethiopia, which perhaps explains the world's sadness.
The begena soothes, there's no doubt, but its power is frightening, hence the need for that comforting whisper of a vocal, weaving itself into the begena's buzzing. "It's OK," says the voice (or so goes my translation from the original Amharic, a language I don't speak). Buzz, buzz, buzz. "Shake the spirit loose; feel better."
He halted in the wind, and -- what was that
Far in the maples, pale, but not a ghost?
He stood there bringing March against his thought,
And yet too ready to believe the most.
"Oh, that's the Paradise-in-bloom," I said;
And truly it was fair enough for flowers
had we but in us to assume in march
Such white luxuriance of May for ours.
We stood a moment so in a strange world,
Myself as one his own pretense deceives;
And then I said the truth (and we moved on).
A young beech clinging to its last year's leaves.
Isidore of Seville
Born: c.560 in Cartagena, Spain
Died: April 4, 636
Feast Day: April 4
Patron Saint of: computers, computer users, computer programmers, Internet
[Last paragraph following a long and interesting--really!-- biography]:
...So, how does Saint Isidore of Seville become the patron saint for the Internet? The Observation Service for Internet, who drew it's mission from the Pontifical Council for Social Communications, researched the Internet and related technologies to select a patron saint that best reflects the concerns and ideals of computer designers, programmers and users. The saint chosen by the Observation Service for Internet was Saint Isidore. "The saint who wrote the well-known 'Etymologies' (a type of dictionary), gave his work a structure akin to that of the database. He began a system of thought known today as 'flashes;' it is very modern, notwithstanding the fact it was discovered in the sixth century. Saint Isidore accomplished his work with great coherence: it is complete and its features are complementary in themselves.
Submitted by Crank Bait on Thu, 03/26/2009 - 11:59am.
We are all in the monestary of the Internet, so speak softly:
The Order of Saint Isidore of Seville is an Internet-based organisation. The Order was formed on 1st January 2000 to celebrate the beginning of Christ's Third Millennium, to honour Saint Isidore of Seville and to promote the ideals of Christian chivalry through the medium of the Internet. In short, they pledge to use the Internet only for good and to encourage others to do so. It is perhaps best said in the prayer to Saint Isidore which is on its website.
Here is the latter portion of the prayer to Saint Isidore:
...grant we beseech Thee that,
through the example of Saint Isidore, bishop and doctor,
during our journeys through the Internet
we will direct our hands and eyes
only to that which is pleasing to Thee [no S&M!]
and treat with charity and patience
all those souls whom we encounter... [no snarking!]
Excerpts taken from:
Defending government eavesdropping without a warrant. Arguing that prisoners of the U.S. held overseas don’t have the right to challenge their detention in U.S. courts. Claiming that victims of CIA kidnapping shouldn’t have their cases heard because of “national security” interests.
These were supposed to be relics of the Bush administration and its attacks on basic constitutional and human rights. Instead, they are among the many troubling actions taken by the new administration of President Barack Obama.
Rather than repudiating Bush’s shredding of the Constitution, the new White House is embracing some of the worst abuses carried out by the Bush administration in the name of national security and the “war on terror.”
As a candidate for president, Obama promised a new direction. While pledging to maintain national security, Obama said that “we also want to make sure that we’re protecting the Constitution, and that we’re not excessively providing the president with a sort of a ‘blank check’ when it comes to dealing with national security,” he told ABC’s This Week.
And, in fact, it was refreshing to hear Obama’s new Attorney General Eric Holder declaring bluntly during his confirmation hearings that “waterboarding is torture.” It was a forceful repudiation of one aspect of the Bush administration, at least–Vice President Dick Cheney had, after all, openly defended “waterboarding” in October 2006.
This seemed to confirm the expectations expressed by Obama supporters like George Washington University law professor Jeffrey Rosen, who wrote in a March 2008 op-ed article in the New York Times: “As a former grassroots activist, Mr. Obama understands the need to make the case for civil liberties in the political arena. At a time when America’s civil-libertarian tradition has been embattled at home and abroad, his candidacy offers a unique opportunity.”
But just two months into his presidency, the “unique opportunity” that Rosen thought Obama represented seems to be evaporating. The litany of disappointing actions on civil liberties taken by the Obama administration seems to grow longer by the week.
Among other things, since taking office, the Obama administration has: pre-empted a Supreme Court ruling on whether a legal resident on U.S. soil can be imprisoned indefinitely without trial as an “enemy combatant”; attempted to block a judicial ruling on Bush’s warrantless wiretapping program; asserted in court that prisoners currently held overseas by U.S. forces in Bagram, Afghanistan, have no constitutional right to challenge their detentions in U.S. courts; and argued to dismiss cases brought in federal court by alleged victims of CIA kidnappings and torture on the grounds of “national security.”
As ACLU Executive Director Anthony Romero said after Obama’s Justice Department argued in federal court that a lawsuit filed by five current and former detainees against Jeppesen Dataplan–a company accused of arranging extraordinary rendition flights for the CIA–should be dropped:
Eric Holder’s Justice Department stood up in court today and said that it would continue the Bush policy of invoking state secrets to hide the reprehensible history of torture, rendition and the most grievous human rights violations committed by the American government.
This is not change. This is definitely more of the same. Candidate Obama ran on a platform that would reform the abuse of state secrets, but President Obama’s Justice Department has disappointingly reneged on that important civil liberties issue.
The reveresals from what Obama promised–or was expected–to do on civil liberties questions have shocked many people who looked forward to the end of the Bush regime.
On the question of warrantless wiretapping, for example, the Obama administration’s arguments in one important court case are indistinguishable from its predecessors.
In the case, brought by two American lawyers against the Bush administration, a federal judge ruled in favor of admitting into evidence a classified document showing that the lawyers for a Saudi charity, the Al-Haramain Islamic Foundation, were electronically eavesdropped on without warrants by the Bush administration.
The Obama administration argued in court that national security would be compromised if the lawsuit was allowed to proceed. As Salon.com’s Glenn Greenwald wrote:
Manifestly, the Obama [Justice Department] has one goal and one goal only here: to prevent any judicial ruling as to whether the Bush [National Security Agency] warrantless eavesdropping program was illegal. And they’re engaging in extraordinary efforts to ensure that occurs…
Everyone knows the Bush administration spied on Americans without warrants and in violation of the law. Everyone knows that this document reflects that these plaintiffs were among those who were illegally spied on. Still, there’s the Obama administration — just like the Bush administration–claiming that we’ll all be slaughtered if a court rules on whether the president broke the law.
Another disappointment came in early March, when the Justice Department argued in a California federal court to dismiss a case filed against former Bush administration official John Yoo.
Yoo famously drafted much of the so-called “Bybee torture memo”–a Justice Department document that approved the use of CIA interrogation methods, including rendition, and blessed as legal methods of physical and psychological coercion that inflicted discomfort “equivalent in intensity to the pain accompanying serious physical injury, such as organ failure, impairment of bodily function, or even death.”
Last year, lawyers for supposed “dirty bomb” plotter Jose Padilla–a U.S. citizen who spent years in a military brig without being charged, and subject to sensory and sleep deprivation and other harsh interrogation measures–filed a suit against Yoo.
If heard, it could challenge the government’s policies on the treatment of detainees. According to one of the lawyers, Jonathan Freiman, the premise of the suit is that “a lawyer who gives the green light to clearly illegal conduct is an accomplice to that conduct.”
But the Obama Justice Department is standing behind Yoo–on the grounds that “the Department of Justice generally defends employees and former employees in lawsuits that are filed in connection to their official duties,” according to department spokesperson Matthew Miller.
“We’re not saying that we condone torture,” Justice Department lawyer Mary Mason said at the hearing on the suit.
But by arguing that the case against Yoo should be dismissed, the Obama administration is protecting the very man who crafted the legal reasoning to justify torture as an acceptable part of the U.S. “war on terror.” How is that not “condoning torture”?
The Obama administration isn’t protecting just Yoo, but other top Bush administration military officials who are the targets of lawsuits brought by prisoners who say they were tortured while being held at Guantánamo Bay.
In another federal court document filed in March, the Justice Department argued that holding military officials liable for their treatment of prisoners could cause them to make future decisions based on fear of litigation rather than appropriate military policy. “The Obama administration appears to be sticking with Bush administration legal definitions in pending litigation,” reported the Associated Press.
The case, involving four British men who say they were beaten, shackled in “stress positions” and forcibly shaved while they were imprisoned in Guantánamo Bay (all four have since been released) named, among others, former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and retired Gen. Richard Myers, former chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
As Eric Lewis, an attorney for the four, put it: “The upshot of the Justice Department’s position is that there is no right of detainees not to be tortured, and that officials who order torture should be protected.”
Even when the Obama administration has seemed to take positive steps to turn back some of the Bush administration’s abuses, the full picture is more complicated.
So, for example, civil liberties advocates applauded Obama’s executive orders to close the U.S. prison camp at Guantánamo Bay, affirm detainees’ right to habeus corpus and instruct that prisoners be treated according to the Geneva Conventions when interrogated by U.S. officials. But it turns out that these orders have wide loopholes.
The order on interrogations, for example, only applies to prisoners “in the custody or under the effective control of an officer, employee or other agent of the United States Government, or detained within a facility owned, operated or controlled by a department or agency of the United States, in any armed conflict.”
That formulation would allow the use of torture by other governments’ security forces operating on orders from the U.S.–under, for example, the “extraordinary rendition” program used by the Bush administration to evade the law by sub-contracting torture to to U.S.-allied regimes.
In addition, the order demands that the CIA close “as expeditiously as possible” any of its detention centers, but says nothing about whether the FBI, Defense Department or any other U.S. body–or private contractors such as Blackwater–may run such facilities. As Professor James Hill noted, “This order contains loopholes big enough to drive a FEMA camp train through them.”
Likewise, in February, it seemed like a positive sign when Attorney General Eric Holder announced a review of every court case in which the Bush administration invoked the “state secrets” privilege to have lawsuits thrown out.
But according to the Associated Press, on the same day that Holder announced his review, Douglas Letter, an attorney for the Justice Department’s civil division, cited the same “state secrets privilege in asking a federal appeals court to uphold dismissal of a lawsuit accusing a Boeing Co. subsidiary of illegally helping the CIA fly suspected terrorists to allied foreign nations where they would be tortured. Three times, Letter assured the judges his position had been approved by Obama administration officials.”
To take another example, earlier this month, the media reported that the Obama administration had dropped the term “enemy combatants” as a justification for detaining terrorism suspects without trial.
But as the New York Times reported, “[I]n a much anticipated court filing, the Justice Department argued that the president has the authority to detain terrorism suspects [at Guantánamo Bay] without criminal charges, much as the Bush administration had asserted. It provided a broad definition of those who can be held, which was not significantly different from the one used by the Bush administration.
“The filing signaled that, as long as Guantánamo remains open, the new administration will aggressively defend its ability to hold some detainees there.”
As Glenn Greenwald put it, “[T]he Obama administration, when called upon to state their position, makes only the most cosmetic and inconsequential changes–designed to generate headlines misleadingly depicting a significant reversal (”Obama drops ‘enemy combatant’ label”)–while, in fact, retaining the crux of Bush’s extremist detention theory.”
There is no “middle ground” on these questions. Those who justified, condoned, participated in and ordered the torture of detainees should be held accountable–starting with George W. Bush. Citizens should have a right not to be spied on by their government. Detainees should have rights under international law, including the right to a trial.
But the Obama administration isn’t taking anything like a principled stand on these questions.
On the contrary, while it wants to change the popular perception of federal policies on civil liberties, the evidence is mounting that the Obama administration is putting a new face on many of the same abuses we’ve been living with for the past eight years.
TOKYO, Dec 4 (Reuters Life!) - The 14 felines-in-residence at Tokyo's Cat Cafe Calico excel at their job of making customers purr with delight.
"This place isn't on my way from work, but even if I'm pretty tired, I'd still stop by," said 32-year-old system engineer and a Calico regular Kazunori Hamanaka, as he tried to take a photo of a white and brown Bengal cat curling up in a box.
"Stray cats run away when I try to stroke them. Here, it's great that I can do that," said Hamanaka, who is unable to keep pets at home.
He takes about 200 photos on each visit for his blog.
Calico is one of at least three cafes that have opened up in Tokyo this year where visitors can mingle with cats as they enjoy a cup of tea.
Takafumi Fukui, the 34-year-old owner and a long-time cat lover, quit his job at a television game company and started the cafe in March.
"In Tokyo, it's not that easy to have cats," he said, explaining that tight housing regulations often forbid pets.
Visitors to Calico pay 800 yen an hour or 2,000 yen for three hours in a big room where 14 well-brushed and shampooed cats hang out. After a thorough handwash, the visitor can play with the cats, read comics or just relax.
The clean, odourless cafe -- Calico has six air fresheners and the litter trays are out of sight -- gets about 70 visitors a day during the week and 150 a day at weekends.
"I want everyone to forget about their jobs and relax," Fukui said, adding that the majority of visitors to Calico are working women and children, and about 70 percent overall don't own cats due to allergies or housing regulations.
None of Calico's cats are strays, but the cafe puts up posters for abandoned cats seeking homes. Pet dumping is a problem in Japan, where about 240,000 cats and 160,000 dogs without owners are gassed each year, government data showed.
The Calico cats are fortunate to have their admirers.
"It is really soothing," Hamanaka said about his frequent visits. "Even three hours is not enough."
The Digital Scriptorium is an image database of medieval and renaissance manuscripts that unites scattered resources from many institutions into an international tool for teaching and scholarly research.
Sen. Abel Maldonado, the Republican legislator who broke party ranks and was the deciding vote to break the state's budget stalemate, said some GOP leaders had urged him to "let California go bankrupt... let it fall of a cliff" in order to score partisan political points against Democrats. It was no secret that many of his fellow Republicans were angry when Maldonado voted for the budget deal - backed by Republican Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and majority Democrats in the legislature - that raised some taxes. But for the first time, Maldonado spoke out to CBS 5 on Wednesday about what some Republicans wanted him to do. "Members within my caucus, in essence, were making the point 'Why vote for this? Why not make a point? Why not let the state just off a cliff?' In essence bankruptcy... just to prove a point," said Maldonado, of Santa Maria, in an interview at the statehouse. Maldonado indicated he was in disbelief at the suggestion from his GOP colleagues to put the state into bankruptcy. "I just couldn't believe that was coming out of the voices of some of my Republican caucus members within the party," he explained. Maldonado said his fellow Republicans thought the state going into bankruptcy would embarrass the Democrats, who controlled the majority in the California Legislature....
By Hillel Italie When Nicholas Hughes was in his early 20s, his father, poet Ted Hughes, advised him on the importance of living bravely."The only calibration that counts is how much heart people invest, how much they ignore their fears of being hurt or caught out or humiliated," Hughes wrote to his son, who committed suicide at 47 last week at his home in Fairbanks, Alaska, 46 years after Nicholas' mother, poet Sylvia Plath, killed herself."And the only thing people regret is that they didn't live boldly enough, that they didn't invest enough heart, didn't love enough. Nothing else really counts at all."From the time that Plath died, in 1963, Ted Hughes had tried to protect and strengthen their children, Frieda and Nicholas, from their mother's fate and fame. He burned the last volume of his wife's journals, a decision strongly criticized by scholars and fans, and waited years to tell his children the full details of Plath's suicide.And only near the end of his own life, in his "Birthday Letters" poems, did he share his side of modern poetry's most famous and ill-starred couple."What I've been hiding all my life, from myself and everybody else, is not terrible at all. Though you didn't want to read it," he wrote to Nicholas in 1998, months before Ted Hughes died of cancer."And the effect on me, Nicky, the sense of gigantic, upheaval transformation in my mind, is quite bewildering. It's as though I have completely new different brains. I can think thoughts I never could think. I have a freedom of imagination I've not felt since 1962. Just to have got rid of all that.""But I tell you all this," Hughes added, "with a hope that it will let you understand a lot of things. ... Don't laugh it off. In 1963 you were hit even harder than me. But you will have to deal with it, just as I have had to."Nicholas Hughes, who was not married and had no children, hanged himself March 16, Alaska State Troopers said. He was a man of science, not letters, the only member of his immediate family not to become a poet. A fisheries biologist, he spent nearly a decade on the faculty of the University of Alaska Fairbanks as a professor of fisheries and ocean sciences. He left in December 2006, according to the university's Web site.Hughes' older sister, poet Frieda Hughes, issued a statement through the Times of London, expressing her "profound sorrow" and saying that he "had been battling depression for some time.""His lifelong fascination with fish and fishing was a strong and shared bond with our father," Frieda Hughes wrote. "He was a loving brother, a loyal friend to those who knew him and, despite the vagaries that life threw at him, he maintained an almost childlike innocence and enthusiasm for the next project or plan."
Electra on Azalea Path The day you died I went into the dirt,Into the lightless hibernaculumWhere bees, striped black and gold, sleep out the blizzardLike hieratic stones, and the ground is hard.It was good for twenty years, that wintering --As if you never existed, as if I cameGod-fathered into the world from my mother's belly:Her wide bed wore the stain of divinity.I had nothing to do with guilt or anythingWhen I wormed back under my mother's heart.Small as a doll in my dress of innocenceI lay dreaming your epic, image by image.Nobody died or withered on that stage.Everything took place in a durable whiteness.The day I woke, I woke on Churchyard Hill.I found your name, I found your bones and allEnlisted in a cramped necropolisyour speckled stone skewed by an iron fence.In this charity ward, this poorhouse, where the deadCrowd foot to foot, head to head, no flowerBreaks the soil. This is Azalea path.A field of burdock opens to the south.Six feet of yellow gravel cover you.The artificial red sage does not stirIn the basket of plastic evergreens they putAt the headstone next to yours, nor does it rot,Although the rains dissolve a bloody dye:The ersatz petals drip, and they drip red.Another kind of redness bothers me:The day your slack sail drank my sister's breathThe flat sea purpled like that evil clothMy mother unrolled at your last homecoming.I borrow the silts of an old tragedy.The truth is, one late October, at my birth-cryA scorpion stung its head, an ill-starred thing;My mother dreamed you face down in the sea.The stony actors poise and pause for breath.I brought my love to bear, and then you died.It was the gangrene ate you to the boneMy mother said: you died like any man.How shall I age into that state of mind?I am the ghost of an infamous suicide,My own blue razor rusting at my throat.O pardon the one who knocks for pardon atYour gate, father -- your hound-bitch, daughter, friend.It was my love that did us both to death.-Sylvia Plath
Large inequalities of income in a society have often been regarded as divisive and corrosive, and it is common knowledge that in rich societies the poor have shorter lives and suffer more from almost every social problem.
But in their new book The Spirit Level, Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett draw upon thirty years' research to demonstrate that more unequal societies are bad for almost everyone within them - the well-off as well as the poor.
They show that almost every modern social and environmental problem - ill-health, lack of community life, violence, drugs, obesity, mental illness, long working hours, big prison populations - is more likely to occur in a less equal society.
Join Richard Wilkinson, Professor of Social Epidemiology, University of Nottingham and Kate Pickett, Senior Lecturer in Epidemiology, University of York, to consider a new approach to tackling the social challenges which, despite material success, continue to beset us. Chair: Matthew Taylor, chief executive, RSA
On March 28, from 8:30 to 9:30 p.m. local time, millions of people across the globe will turn out their lights to raise awareness and take action to fight climate change. Will you vote for the Earth with your light switch? Sign up and let us count your vote!The momentum for Earth Hour is growing in the United States and around the world. Here are some recent exciting developments:
A CAPITAL IDEA: Washington, D.C. will join nearly 2,300 cities around the world in going dark for Earth Hour. The word came from District Environment Director George Hawkins, who said Earth Hour was "a symbolic but important step in showing the world we're serious about the climate." At 8:30 p.m., officials will turn off non-essential lighting on buildings and facilities owned by the city.
A TOTAL OF 175 U.S. CITIES AND TOWNS have now pledged to "turn out" for the largest climate event in history, with more signing up each day. See the complete list of cities. There's still time to bring Earth Hour to your hometown, school, campus or organization. Get tools, tips and information.
EDWARD NORTON VOTES EARTH: The Academy Award-nominated actor and environmental activist has agreed to be the official Earth Hour Ambassador for the U.S. He joins a list of notables that includes Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Janeane Garofalo, Melissa Etheridge, Alanis Morissette, Cate Blanchett, Jo Dee Messina, Vince Gill, Wynonna Judd, Amy Grant, Kathy Mattea and many more.
KIDS TURN OUT FOR EARTH HOUR: Get your children involved in saving the planet through EarthHourKids.org. Play the Geo Bee, take our Earth Hour Power Quiz, and practice Earth Hour every day with the Memory Game.
WE'RE NOTHING WITHOUT YOU... AND YOUR FRIENDS... AND THEIR FRIENDS: Our planet urgently needs your help. Don't be shy about urging friends and family to support Earth Hour. Share the details for turning out on March 28 at 8:30 p.m. and invite them to become part of this historic call for global action on climate change.
When in doubt...VOTE EARTH! Thanks for your support.
The Earth Hour US Team
"Here in America we are descended in blood and in spirit from revolutionists and rebels - men and women who dare to dissent from accepted doctrine. As their heirs, may we never confuse honest dissent with disloyal subversion." --Dwight D. Eisenhower
American dissent is older than the nation itself. Some of the first settlers were of course religious dissenters from England — referred to at the time with a capital "D". However, suppression of dissent has just as long a history — one need look no further than the mandatory church attendance laws put into practice by those very same early settlers. Below explore a few of dissenting voices that have wrought change in American history.
Revolutionary Thought: Tom Paine
"Government, even in its best state, is but a necessary evil; in its worst state, an intolerable one." Tom Paine
Harvey J. Kaye, the historian and author of THOMAS PAINE AND THE PROMISE OF AMERICA discusses the role of whom he calls "the greatest radical of a radical age."
"It is not light that we need, but fire; it is not the gentle shower, but thunder. We need the storm, the whirlwind, and the earthquake." Frederick Douglass
The image to the left is a abolitionist song "Slavery is a Hard Foe to Battle." It was performed throughout the north by the Hutchinson Family singers in the early 19th century. The Hutchinson family represents a part of the long American tradition of dissent through music.
"No country can be well governed unless its citizens as a body keep religiously before their minds that they are the guardians of the law and that the law officers are only the machinery for its execution, nothing more." - Mark Twain, THE GILDED AGE
Long a voice against the tide, Mark Twain defined the late 19th century as an age of greed and inequality. In 2004, Bill Moyers talked with actor Hal Holbrook about his stage portrayal of American writer Mark Twain. Also, check out The Legacy of Mark Twain and the Twain Trivia QuizSteve Fraser, historian and author of WALL STREET: AMERICA'S DREAM PALACE, discusses the modern parallels and differences to the first Gilded Age, the big disparity between the rich and poor, and the increasing strain on working Americans.
The Populist Streak
"It sounds as if people who are throwing "populism" around are throwing it around as a dirty word. And if it is a dirty word, they don't know what they're talking about. I think they think it's a dirty word, because it pits Americans against each other, as if we would all be hand in hand if it weren't for populist agitators....They're probably talking in very veiled terms about class issues. Class is the dirty little secret in the United States." -Nell Painter
pop·u·list: 1: a member of a political party claiming to represent the common people
2: a believer in the rights, wisdom, or virtues of the common people
Historian Nell Irvin Painter, an expert on Populism in the 19th century, examines what history reveals about the current state of inequality in America.
Labor and Life: Eugene V. Debs
"When great changes occur in history, when great principles are involved, as a rule the majority are wrong." --Eugene V. Debs
Labor and political leader Eugene V. Debs' personal turning point came during the famous Pullman Strike. The strike began May 11, 1894, with a walkout by Pullman Palace Car Company factory workers after negotiations over declining wages failed. These workers appealed for support to the American Railway Union (ARU) which called a strike after negotiations failed. The strike crippled train travel across the nation and the federal government intervened, issuing an injunction essentially forbidding all boycott activity, and then dispatched soldiers to strike hubs. The strike brought Eugene V. Debs to public notice and landed him in prison. In later life Debs wrote about the unequal fight:
"Had the carpenter of Nazareth been in Chicago at the time He would have been on the side of the poor, the heavy-laden and sore at heart, and He would have denounced their oppressors and been sent to prison for contempt of court under President Cleveland's administration." DEBS: HIS LIFE, WRITINGS AND SPEECHES (Chicago: Charles H. Kerr & Co., 1908"
Perpetual Socialist Party candidate Eugene V. Debs polled 6 percent of the vote in the 1912 election — far better than Ralph Nader's 2.74 percent in 2000.
"There was once a town in the heart of America where all life seemed to live in harmony with its surroundings.... The roadsides, once so attractive, were now lined with browned and withered vegetation as though swept by fire. These, too, were silent, deserted by all living things. Even the streams were now lifeless.... No witchcraft, no enemy action had silenced the rebirth of new life in this stricken world. The people had done it to themselves." - Rachel Carson
Rachel Carson's impact goes far beyond government bureaucracy. Carson and her most famous book, SILENT SPRING, are credited with no less than inspiring the modern global environmental movement. In its collection of the 100 most important people of the 20th Century, TIME magazine said: "Before there was an environmental movement, there was one brave woman and her very brave book."
Bill Moyers Journal looks at the life and legacy of Rachel Carson through an extraordinary portrayal of her in a one-woman play performed by veteran stage actress Kaiulani Lee, whose play A Sense of Wonder has been the centerpiece of regional and national conferences on conservation, education, journalism, and the environment for more than ten years. The broadcast combines excerpts from the play, an interview with Lee and documentary reporting on Carson's life and work in a powerful look at this scientist, writer, and seeker of the truth.
Civil Rights Poet: Nikki Giovanni
"Sometimes we find we have nothing to give
which is a poem
which I give
For the Black Revolution" - Nikki Giovanni, BLACK JUDGEMENT, 1968
In 2009, Bill Moyers talked with renowned poet Nikki Giovanni, whose 27 books have spanned the themes of race, politics, sex and violence. In 1968; after graduating from Fisk, she attended the University of Pennsylvania and Columbia University. She published her first book of poetry, BLACK FEELING BLACK TALK, in 1968, and within the next year published a second book, thus launching her career as a writer. Early in her career she was dubbed the "Princess of Black Poetry," and over the course of more than three decades of publishing and lecturing she has come to be called both a "National Treasure" and, most recently, one of Oprah Winfrey's twenty-five "Living Legends."
Lifelong Activist: Grace Lee Boggs
"What we tried to do is explain that a rebellion is righteous, because it's the protest by a people against injustice, because of unrighteous situation, but it's not enough. You have to go beyond rebellion. And it was amazing, a turning point in my life, because until that time, I had not made a distinction between a rebellion and revolution. And it forced us to begin thinking, what does a revolution mean? How does it relate to evolution?" - Grace Lee Boggs
Grace Lee Boggs has been a part of almost every major movement in the United States in the last 75 years, including: Labor, Civil Rights, Black Power, Women's Rights and Environmental Justice.
Voice of Peace: William Sloane Coffin
"Don't let money tell you who you are. Don't let power tell you who your are. Don't let enemies and — for God's sake — don't let your sins tell you who you are. Don't prove yourself. That's taken care of. All we have to do is express ourselves. It's difficult, but we're a lot more alive in pain than in complacency." - William Sloane Coffin
William Sloane Coffin served as chaplain of Yale University from 1958-1976. He was senior minister of Riverside Church for over ten years. Throughout his years as chaplain and minister, Coffin has hosted such world leaders as Martin Luther King, Desmond Tutu, Nelson Mandela, Rose Styren, Olaf Palmer among numerous others. Coffin initially became famous at Yale University in the 60's for his opposition to the Vietnam War. He was jailed (the first of many times) as a civil rights "Freedom Rider," indicted by the government in the Benjamin Spock conspiracy trial, and is president emeritus of SANE/FREEZE: Campaign for Global Security. He fought in World War II, worked for the CIA for three years, and has been immortalized as Reverend Sloan in the Doonesbury comic strip.
Bill Moyers talked with William Sloane Coffin in 2004.
Citizen Advocate: Ralph Nader
"The only difference between the Republican and Democratic parties is the velocities with which their knees hit the floor when corporations knock on their door. That's the only difference." - Ralph Nader
Before he became a famed third party presidential candidate, Ralph Nader spent decades as the premiere American consumer advocate — responsible not only for seatbelts in cars, but in a large way, for the consumer protection movement itself.
Bill Moyers talked with Ralph Nader in 2004.
Radical Histories: Howard Zinn
"Around 1776, certain important people in the English colonies made a discovery that would prove enormously useful for the next two hundred years. They found that by creating a nation, a symbol, a legal unity called the United States, they could take over land, profits, and political power from favorites of the British Empire. In the process, they could hold back a number of potential rebellions and create a consensus of popular support for the rule of a new, privileged leadership." - Howard Zinn, A PEOPLE'S HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES
Historian Howard Zinn takes a dissenting view of the traditionally taught American past in his classic A PEOPLE'S HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES. In 2002, Bill Moyers talked with Howard Zinn on NOW WITH BILL MOYERS.
Published March 20, 2009. Guest photos by Robin Holland
The Washington Post is reporting the Democratic-led Senate is likely to delay until late next month legislation to punitively tax bonuses at banks and investment firms that receive federal aid. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s decision comes after the White House and Wall Street expressed concern over plans to heavily tax corporate bonuses. Last week, the House voted to levy a 90 percent tax on bonuses paid since January 1 by companies that owe the government at least $5 billion in bailout loans. On Sunday President Barack Obama said the tax code shouldn’t be used to punish people.
Episode 10 of Survival Sam. What do you eat in the wild when you run out of food? Let Sam show you...
Break Room Live with Maron and Seder is LIVE weekdays, 3-4pm from the Air America Break Room.
Catch comedy sketches, interviews, political and cultural discussions, and interact with hosts and guests live: 3pm, M-F @ BreakRoomLive.com!
BreakRoomLive with Marc Maron and Sam Seder is a production of http://airamerica.com
"At certain stages a state of dissociation is achieved with the indulgence of alcohol...In any state of dissociation any individual is more sensitive to inner data."
The Early Sessions, Book 3
Session 103, Page 111-112
"Albert Einstein said common sense is the collection of prejudices acquired by the age of 18. It is also a result of some pervasive and extremely stupid logical fallacies that have become embedded in the human brain over generations, for one reason or another. These malfunctioning thoughts--several of which you've had already today--are a major cause of everything that's wrong with the world."
The instinct of nearly all societies is to lock up anybody who is truly free. First, society begins by trying to beat you up. If this fails, they try to poison you. If this fails too, they finish by loading honors on your head.-Jean Cocteau, Journey to Freedom (1969)
The video for Pink's newest single, "Sober," was released today with a lot of buzz because it's supposed to depict female masturbation — sort of. The video (which you can see after the jump) actually symbolically shows Pink messing around on a bed with another version of herself. This territory isn't anything new for Pink. "Fingers," off her 2006 album I'm Not Dead, is a more direct approach to the subject. Upon first viewing "Sober," I thought, "Yeah, I liked it better when Björk did this with robots in 'All Is Full of Love.'" Then, I started thinking about all the different songs and videos about female masturbation by women and realized that there's like a butt load of them, and all by mainstream pop stars. Who says that women don't talk about playing with themselves? A roundup, after the jump.
I don’t need a man to make it happen
I get off being free
I don’t need a man to make me feel good
I get off doing my thing
I don’t need a ring around my finger
To make me feel complete
So let me break it down
I can get off when you ain’t around
Madonna simulated masturbation during "Like a Virgin" on her Blonde Ambition tour.
Janet Jackson has like a million songs about sex, and I'm sure that a bunch of them include themes of masturbation, but the most popular is probably "If."
How many nights I've laid in bed excited over you
I've closed my eyes and thought of us,
A hundred different ways
I've gotten there so many times
By poets that can never feel
Aught but the promptings of the soul,
Which make or mar them, they obey.
To wear the mask i~ not the role
Of poets e'en in this cold day.
Then let him list to this the tale
Told by tradition, of the fate
Of two young lovers, dark the weal
That marks a woman s jealous hate;
And while he lists let p'ty*s tears
Fall gently o'er each hallowed grave,
Where long hath slept, devoid of fears,
Sweet Astreanere and Glenwold brave.
In Cornwall dwelt a feudal knight,
The proudest lord that graced the reign
Of England's virgin mistress bright,
Elizabeth. The Jartest stain
That sullies her strange, grand career,
Forgetting fair-haired Essex' fate,
Is this, the death of Astreanero,
And Glenwold, her brave-chosen mate.
Oh she was fair and she was young
As spirit of a poet's song,
As blue and melting were her eyes,
As violets reared in Paradise ;
And 'neaih the glory of her hair,
That swept like vail of molten gold
SWEET ASTREANERE. 15
Over her shoulders white and fair,
As bust of some great goddess old,
There smiled a face of beauty bright,
For which Venus might envy own;
And on her brow as lilies white,
Diana's star in splendor shone ;
While round her lips of coral hue
There played a thousand witching smiles ;
And in her voice, sweet as the coo
Of doves, there lurked enchanting wiles.
In her fair form, as graceful, light H
As fabled sylph or young gazelle,
Were seen such wondrous charms as might
In houries of the Orient dwell.
What wonder then that such a maid
As Montague's flower, should honored be
By love of knights of every grade,
Or princes from beyond the sea.
Sweet Astreanere, the heiress sole
Of Montague's towers, knew care nor woe,
Till from the Queen of Britain came
The summons for Glenwold to go
Afar upon the stormy main,
To battle with the foreign foe.
Against the royal power of Spain
She sent her knights to level low.
16 SWEET ASTREANERE.
The pride of him who held aloof
From her religion and its rites.
She chose Glenwold with Essex fair,
And Raleigh, bravest of her knights,
To fall upon- the Spanish fleet,
Capture the treasure galleys great,
That they might at her royal feet,
With reverence lay the golden freight.
But was this thirst for power and wealth
The queen's sole passion on that day,
When those three fearless knights she sent
To forage on the briny sea ?
Ah! no, the queen ot kingdoms three,
The virgin princess bowed to love,
On Glenwold she her heart bestowed,
To keep him from his Cornish dove.
To separate the plighted pair,
And hold the heart in stern restraint,
That proudly spurned her royal care,
Was what the willful lady meant.
And when Glenwold the call received,
That doomed him from his pearl to roam,
He sought sweet Astreanere one eve
Ere parting from his Cornish home.
It was the hour when flaming Sol
No longer ruled the heavenly sphere j
And Luna, mistress of the night,
Shed forth her silv'ry luster clear ;
As seated on her gleaming car,
She op'ed her wild, nocturnal race,
Attended by a million stars,
That hung like lamps of gold in space,
That Astreanere, the Cornish rose,
Pride of her haughty father's heart,
Sought out the bower that brightly glowed
With floral jewels. Sad to part
With yoing GHenwold, the noblest knight
That ever wore the avenging blade ;
Wh ch swiftly flashed athwarth the light,
A foe to vanquish, friend to save.
With loving heart the maiden sought
The trysting place to her most dear,
And as she sat aneath the bower,
Her eyes of azure shed a tear.
This meeting was to be their last,
For months Glenwold would rove the sea
Alone, within her father's towers
Sweet Astreanere would mourning be.
Athwarth the star-bejeweled sky
The maiden's eyes cerulean roved,
As if, perchance, she might descry
There scribed the fate of her beloved.
18 SWEET ASTREANERE.
The bright lake, like a silver sea,
Shone 'neath the young moon's crescent bea;
While near and far on hill and lea
The ghostly shadows wanly gleamed.
The night-bird, silent by his mate,
Forgot to trill his sweet love-song ;
And from the depths of lonesome glade
The owl's fell hoot was borne along.
The perfumed breezes fanned the cheek
Of Astreanere, as 'neath the bower
She wailing sat 'mid blossoms sweet,
Toying with Cupid's chosen flower.
The moments fled: a quivering sigh
Went fluttering from the maiden's heart,
And to her tender love-lit eyes
The tell-tale tears again would start.
But bark! what sound the stillness breaks?
'Tis naught but warrior's fearless tread
That rings along the stony walk
That to the bower of trysting led.
Nearer the step approaches, then
A voice deep, rich and full of power
Calls : "Astreanere. light of my soul,
Art thou within thy rose-clad bovver?"
With fluttering breath and blushing cheek
Sweet Astreanere softly replies :
SWEET ASTREANERE. 19
"Aye, Glenwold, thine own love is here,
Of Montague's heart the treasured pride.
" But what hath caused thy coming late,
What kept thee from thy dove to-night ?
Surely no duty how'er great
Could tempt thee from thy trysting plight."
"Sweet Astrcanere," Glenwold replies,
" Thy sire's behest must I obey ;
To-night he sought me out to learn
The hour that I must needs away.
"And while in converse I confessed
To him my love for thee, sweet one,
Besought him soon to make us blest,
A cloud of woe he cast upon
My heart, when in reply he spoke,
With fiery glance and stormy brow,
'Boonar than see my daughter wed,
With thee, sir knight, I'd lay her low.
" 'With this, her father's aged hand,
Glenwold of Britain, lowly born,
I'd stretch her lifeless on the sand,
Fair as she is in lite's bright morn.
Cecil, the pride of England's court,
Prime minister of England's queen,
Hath asked the hand of Astreanere,
Most beauteous maid 'er by him seen.
20 SWEET ASTREANERE.
' ' Elizabeth smiles on the suit
Her Majesty to Cejil gave ;
A dower such as might in sooth
Tempt Plutus from his treasure cave.
So, Grlenwold, think no more to wed
With Montague's peerless daughter now j
For fre from battle thou'lt return,
A ducal crown shall gem her brow.'
''And with these words thy father left
Me to my fate. Oh, Astreanere !
Mu-t we thus part of hope bereft,
Oppressed by wretched, taunting fear?"
He paused, in silent woe he gazed
Upon the mystic vault of night;
With black despair his brain was crazed,
Dark loomed the future in his sight.
Those holy stars by lovers prized,
Hope, love and faith, by clouds were riven ;
And in its glory through the skies,
The blood-red orb of war was driven,
Astreanere leaned upon his breast,
Weeping in hopeless, speechless woe ;
With his strong love she had been blest,
How could her father bid him go ?
With faltering voice at length she spoke :
" Grlenwold, my sire's decree is stern ;
SWEET ASTREANERE. 21
Yet sooner than his curse invoke,
To do his will I now must learn.
My love for thee can never die,
Not though by Hymen's chains I'm bound ;
Cecil may wed with Montague's pride,
With coronet gay I may be crowned,
" Still, Glenwold, still I am thine own ;
My heart, my soul's best love is given
To thee, whatever woe may come
To crush me, thou'rt my earth's sole heaven."
She ceased, her woman's heart was full
With bitter grief to further speak,
And Grlenwold with perceptions dulled
Was as a wailing infant weak.
Neither of those doomed lovers heard
The loud approach of mail-clad feet,
Until the voice of Montague's lord
Destroyed their trance, bitter yet sweet.
The lord of Montague, stern and old,
Upon them with grim anger glanced ;
Erect stood Glenwood, firm and bold,
As to the rose-bower he advanced.
" How now, young Grlenwolcf, would'st thou war
Upon thy master?" asked the lord;
" That thou hast dared to enter here ;
If so draw forth thy ready sword,
And here, with none but Astreanere
To witness, I'll my vengeance wreak,
And teach thee, Montague's lord, to fear.
How say'st thou now? Ah! why not speak?"
Deep scarlet flushed the knight's fair face ;
Swift from its steel sheath flashed his blade,
Advancing to Montague a f ace,
In clar on tones he proudly said :
"An hundred henchmen dost thou boast,
Yet will I war with thee this hour,
And all thy faithful mail-clad host,
Come, 'gainst me lead thy vaunted power.
" To breathe farewell to Astreanere,
I sought this rose-clad bower of love ;
If thou would'st fight afar from here
The mettle of our blades we'll prove.
But this sweet spot is far too pure
For men to sully with fell strife j
But out on yonder level moor
I'll teach thee that my blood is rife
" To battle with the knight that dares
To brand me as one lowly born,
While life with me its vigor shares
I'll brook from n-me insult or scorn."
Thus face to face they scowling stood,
The lord of Montague an'l the kn ; ght,
Who ne'er before in angry mood
Challenged the noble forth to fight.
SWEET A8TREANERB. 23
With bosom full of bitter ire, he
Bade Grlenwold say his sad farewell,
And turned him from the scorching fire
That from his eyes of midnight fell.
Against the author of this woe
Montague's proud soul rebellious rose ;
Elizabeth must surely know
That 'gainst her Glenwold's heart was closed.
Lord Montague loved the noble youth,
Biorht proud was he when first he learned
That Astreanere possessed the heart
For which a queen in silence yearned ;
And oft he dreamt o Montague's hall,
With Grlenwold as its noble lord,
And Astreanere his peerless bride
Surrounded by their feudal horde.
But all his hopes were swept away
When Britain's quejn beheld the knight;
She love i him in her jealous way,
And ha ; ed Astreanere the bright.
Far from the maiden's side to roam
She doomed Glenwold ; relentless ire
Consumed her bosom when in gloom
He sought from service to retire.
With cruel words the maid she bade
To wed with Cecil the deformed,
24 SWEET ASTREANERE.
Or on the block lay low her head,
All pleadings from Montague were scorned.
To make Glenwold his bitter foe,
To break his darling's h art for aye,
Montague was forced, grim, deathless woe
Seemed on his wretched soul to Le.
Sweet Astreanere half fainting clung
To Grlenwold; bitterest anguish tore
Her heart; while daggers of deep woe
Were pierced unto the inmost core ;
While he, o'erwhelmed in black despair,
Strove, madly strove, to rend h.m free
From those fair arms that held him there.
Both stood in speechless misery.
At length in tones broken and low,
He spoke that last, that dread farewell j
From her fond clasp his iorm he tore,
Leaving her helpless where she fell.
Afar he fled ; none but the strange,
Lone spirits, wandering through the night,
Knew of the tempest \\ild that raged
Within his breast during that flight.
From all that to his soul was dear, .
While in her bower of beauty bright,
Astreanere mourned with sigh and tear,
The absence of her lover-krrght.
And thus those two fond, loving hearts,
SWEET ASTREANERE. 25
Ne'er more on earth, in life to meet,
Parted upon that summer eve,
Glenwold, and Astreanere the sweet.
'Twas on the last night of the year,
That Montague's peerless heiress bright,
Was doomed to wed the hunchback peer,
Of England's court the shining light.
Cecil, the cunning statesman, clad
In robes bedecked with jewels rare ;
Exulting in the thought and glad
That his would be this treasure fair.
Impatient waited for the hour
Of midnight, that would fix the fate
Of Montague's tender drooping flower.
With joyous heart, and soul elate,
He restless passed from place to place ;
Plotting against the favorite three
That now found favor in the grace
Of his proud mistress, recklessly.
Essex, the fair, in secret wooed
And won a bride ; young Raleigh, wild,
A maid of honor gently sued ;
And Glenwold firm, yet nobly mild,
Remained as true to Astreanere.
As ever knight to lady kept,
Despite temptations that bestrewed
The path o'er which his life was swept.
26 SWEET ASTREANERE.
Their ruin Cecil fiercely craved,
Death to the gallant trio then
Was e'er his watchword ; oft he raved
In fury for the blood of men,
Who each believed himself the friend
Of Cecil. Glenwold, wronged young knight,
Dreamt not that he could e'n pretend
Affections false, as mirage bright
That flashes fore the fevered eyes
Of traveler on the sun-scorched plain,
When with fierce thirst he almost dies,
And cruel heat boils every vein ;
When naught but burning wastes of sand
Extend before his aching sight,
Until the tortured brain expands,
And reason totters from her height.
Then far beyond the sandy sea,
In all its rural beauty rare ;
Where silver streams are flowing free,
And wild birds fill the perfumed air
With melodies rich, wildly sweet,
An emerald grove his vision greets.
He struggles bravely on, and soon
Beaches the spot to find it gone.
So when with woe deeply oppressed,
The knight sought out the false one,
SWEET ASTREANERE. 27
Believing all that he professed,
Nor deemed him liable to wrong
A friend, he asktd the peer to yield
Back Astreanere, the Cornish rose.
Cecil declared 'twas not his heart,
But hi.<>ft gloaming,
And the slumbering blossoms low,
And she marked them sadly weeping
When the sunbeams ceased to glow.
And she saw them gladly smiling
When the day god 'lume>J earth's track ;
"As the sun comes to the flowers,
So my Robert will come back."
Then anon her heart grew lighter,
And fair Lelah blithely sung,
And in her slightest accent
Something wondrous gladsome rung.
Thus it happened on an evening
In the month of rosy May,
To the beeches softly gloaming,
O'er the brooklets silver way,
Gentle Lelah wandered dreaming
Of her loved one afar;
Her sweet face of witching beauty
Glowing brightly as a star.
From the velvet turf she gathered
Violets blue as heaven's skies;
From the cooling limpid waters,
Gleaming lilies gently rire.
In her glittering, golden tresses
Twines she nature's sapphires bright ;
On her gently heaving bosom
Placed she lilies snowy white ;
52 LELAII GRAYSON.
Saying softly : " Robert loved them ;
Violets are like angels' eyes,
And the lilies spirits saintod
Wear above in Paradise.
From my breast he took a lily,
More must blossom sweetly there,
(When he comes to proudly claim me),
And amid my golden hair.
"Nor longer can he linger
On the far-off prairie track ;
Yes, I cull them, daily wear there,
Soon my Robert will come back "
Rang a step adown the pathway
Leading to the trysting brook,
Then a bronzed and stalwart stranger
Stood within the sh ided nook.
Strange he may have been to others,
Not quite strange to Lelah fair ;
Thrice before this had she met him
Silent, mingling, quiet, where
She as chosen belle and beauty
Of her village queen -like reigned.
Startled was the maiden truly,
And her terror was unfeigned.
"Pardon," said the handsome stranger.
"Let me speak to you to-night;
Lelah, sweetest one, I love you,
Pause, nor start in angry flight ;
Oh long, long have I worshiped,
Worshiped vainly from afar,
You, my rare, my peerless jewel,
As one loves a radiant star
"Shining far above his station.
Lelah, maiden Eweet and mild,
Say you love me, say you love me,
Or my poor brain will go wild."
Thrilled his accents strangely through her;
Trembled she, cot knowing why ;
To refuse him made her heart bleed,
And her soul too sadly cry.
"Sir," said Lelah, very softly,
With her tearful eyes a-glow ;
" Smooth and even as yon brooklet's,
Does my heart's love current flow ;
Years agone my hand was plighted,
And my heart I with it gave,
Then my lover from me wandered,
(Frown not ; pure as yon bright wave
Is his love and peerless honor)
To the prairies' blooming track.
Smile not pityingly upon n\e ;
Soon my Robert will come back."
"LELAH ! " with a cry she started,
64 LELAH GRAYSON.
That voice oft she'd heard before ;
Smiled the hronzed and stalwart stranger.
Then, shedding her bright ray o'er
The pair a-neath the beeches,
Through the heavens Luna sailed,
And the bearded face to Lelah,
By her light was now revealed ;
Oped his arms, swift to his bosom
Flew the lovely, trembling one ;
As to the ark of Noah
Flew his bright dove, absent long.
As to its mate the night-bird,
Startled, trembling flies ;
Fainting half with joy, with terror,
Lelah in his arms lies ;
O'er the wastes of barren deserts,
O'er the prairies' blooming track,
To reclaim his bride a-waiting,
Handsome Robert then came back.
all 0f warms
"ALEXANDER!" Deathless glory
Marks the mighty conqueror's name ;
Lauded in wild song and story,
Is the ruthless monarch's fame.
Royal born, from kings descended,
Macedonia's peerless lord ;
Who on naught but hope depended,
And his ready, trusty sword.
Dark his soul as midnight ebon,
When dense clouds doth vail the sky,
Hiding Luna's luster given,
From the weary traveler's eye ;
For his heart was full of cunning,
Serpent-like his subtle guile ;
He could fawn on those he hated,
Mask his hatred in his smile.
'Neath that wile his father suffered ;
Clitus 'neath it low expired,
$6 THE FALL OF
Murdered by famed Alexander,
When with wine his blood was fired;
For the monarch young and brave,
Grave to all who dared oppose him,
Cruel death and gloomsome grave.
O'er the plains of vast Gedrosia
Passed the monarch, breathing there,
During days of toilsome marching,
Simoon's deadly burning air.
O'er the Indus crossed Macedon's
Dauntless leader, crushing all,
Every nation that defied him
Fought and bled to helpless fall.
Afghan's ruler bowed submissive
To the conqueror's galling yoke ;
Egypt yielded fore the tyrant,
Stooped his mercy to invoke ;
The proud Chaldeans, crushed and humbled,
Writhing bore Macedon's sway ;
But his crowning triumph graced him
On the field of famed Syria.
'Twas against the haughty Persian,
Darius, that Macedon moved ;
To subdue the Orient ruler,
Macedon's chief it now behooved ;
But how was the youthful monarch
To o'ercorne the Persian hosts?
Thanks to my best friend Jenine for this linkFrom: http://www.fallenfruit.orgPUBLIC FRUIT PARKFALLENFRUIT
is a collaboration of Dave Burns, Matias Viegener and Austin Young
Fallen Fruit is a collaborative art project which began as a whimsical mapping of ourneighborhood public fruit: all the fruit trees we could find that grew on or over public property.When your neighbor's fruit tree hangs into your yard, that fruit is considered yours. But whosefruit is that on public property? We believe that fruit planted on private property whichoverhangs public space should be public property and created this project to encouragepeople both to harvest and plant public fruit. The project is a response to acceleratingurbanization and the loss of people's capacity to produce their own foods, as well as issuesaround grassroots community activism, social welfare and social responsibility.From the original printed edition, we expanded into a website which posts local maps from thehandmade to the high-tech, submitted by our neighbors. We have pictures of fruit andharvesting, including fruit pin-ups. Our ambition is to map the city, the whole state, and thenthe world. We have also begun to propose public fruit projects. These include furthermapping, a campaign to encourage property owners to plant fruit, petitions to the city to plantstreets and parking lots, and a proposal for a public fruit park. We think of Fallen Fruit asmuch as community activism as an art project. Our neighborhood is full of homeless peopleand uneaten fruit: why can't the two be connected? We're not interested in random theft. Ourintention is to promote sharing and community-based thinking.We live in a world controlled by multinational corporations, in which we don't know ourneighbors, with a media that manufactures social realities and ignores poverty andoppression. Our food arrives processed and pre-wrapped, and few of us know where it comesfrom. Our cities are full of wasted spaces and neglected resources. Fallen Fruit proposesthat we be able to make more food with little effort and find ways to map it and networks forsharing it. The injunction to share food is as old as the Bible, which tells us that we should notharvest all our food for ourselves; the fallen fruit should always be left for those who havenothing.The Principles of Fallen Fruit:1. Fruit on public property belongs to all of us.2. Mapping it is a way to share with everyone, learning neighborhoods by foot,rather than by car.3. Ask property owners to plant fruit trees for everyone.4. Functional landscaping: ask cities to plant fruit trees in parks, parking lots, and on streets.5. Open dialogue within neighborhoods about public spaces.6. Think about who has fruit and other resources, and who does not.
George W. Bush is hitting the lecture circuit. Represented by the Washington Speakers Bureau, Mr. Bush for a fee of at least $150,000 flew up to Calgary, Canada and spoke to a conservative business audience amidst street protests.He also has signed a book contract with Crown Publishers tentatively titled “Decision Points” about a dozen personal and presidential decisions ranging from giving up booze to choosing Dick Cheney to invading Iraq.Now that he is becoming a lecturer and an author, why not also be a teacher? The 43rd president has much to teach Americans about how weak their democracy is—rights, institutions, processes and the sovereignty of the people.His first lecture to students could be how he and Cheney violated, circumvented and trampled our Constitution. It was as if they replaced the opening preamble of “we, the people” with “we, George W. Bush and Dick Cheney.”Early in his Administration, Mr. Bush showed a determination to pick up on King George III and root himself in something called “the inherent powers of the Presidency,” often called the “unitary Presidency.” With that, King George IV was establishing his unilateral kingdom, though instead of invoking his divine right, his mantra was the “war on Terror.”He became the most recidivist criminal president, the most variously impeachable president on a regular day-to-day basis in American history. Violating repeatedly our Constitution, laws and treaties, Mr. Bush warred, terrorized, tortured, imprisoned without charges, illegally snooped on masses of Americans and set a record for signing statements saying he “the decider” would determine which laws he signed he would obey and when. And that’s just what is public knowledge so far from a very secretive regime.The ways this outlaw President devastated the rule of law has been well documented in many firsthand accounts of former members of his government in the military, intelligence, and diplomatic service. The lies and deceptions that took our country to war, with immense loss of life and limb, and turned the rights and lives of millions of families upside down have been the material of many books, public hearings and admissions. Even the conservative American Bar Association condemned the Bush White House three times for unconstitutional practices.Mr. Bush taught us how cowardly the Congress could be in not defending its constitutional authorities and the crucial checks and balances to hold the White House accountable. He taught us the degree of abdication by the major opposition Democratic Party which allowed him and his ilk to do what they did and to leave office on January 20, 2009 without being subjected to impeachment and trial, without even being subjected to a Congressional censure resolution.He taught us that the courts, with few exceptions, cannot be counted on to defend the constitution from the marauding President—avoiding doing so by excuses that these seizures of power are “political questions.” Sure, Bush going to war without a declaration of war is too political? Tell that to Jefferson, Madison and other founding fathers who made a big matter out of taking away the war-making authority from any future would-be monarch and decisively repositing it with the Congress.He taught us how easily you could fool, manipulate, delay or intimidate the mainstream media into becoming a cheerleader for war and a collaborator in covering up what a few intrepid reporters uncovered.He showed that truth is indeed the first casualty of war and that lies have no consequences for him other than a 70% disapproval rating.He did tell the truth, however, when he announced to a big business audience in Texas early in his first term that they were “his base.” Acting like a corporation masquerading as a human in the White House, Mr. Bush pursued policies unleashing the greed and control of Wall Street that tanked the economy and destroyed trillions of dollars of the people’s money in an orgy of reckless speculation.As Jamal Simmons wrote recently, “Unlike the story of King Midas, everything Bush touched turned to coal.”Mr. Bush threw the gauntlet down to 800,000 American lawyers and unlike the marching Pakistani lawyers, only a handful such as Michael Greco, Ramsay Clark, David Cole and Jonathan Turley took up his challenge. The vast majority of lawyers went about their own business, shrugging off what it means to be “officers of the court.”Bush, former American Caesar tore the pretense off our democratic pretensions. By not holding him and his top collaborators responsible for violating the constitutional, criminal and civil laws of the land, those persons, entrusted with their observance, took a holiday. These outrageous practices—still unchecked—are becoming institutionalized as illustrated in the several (but not all) ways that President Obama is continuing Bush’s legacy of license.Democracies when they are eroded must show resiliency to recover and strengthen what was lost by way of freedom and justice. Otherwise the erosions fester and deepen. Who, you might ask, must be the tribunes of such resiliency? You will not find them now in officialdom.The wise early twentieth century judge, Learned Hand, gave us the compass. He wrote these words: “Liberty lies in the hearts of men and women; when it dies there, no constitution, no law, no court can save it.”End.
LOS ANGELES - It's a kitchen degreaser. It's a window cleaner. It kills athlete's foot. Oh, and you can drink it. Sounds like the old "Saturday Night Live" gag for Shimmer, the faux floor polish plugged by Gilda Radner. But the elixir is real. U.S. regulators have approved it. And it's starting to replace the toxic chemicals Americans use at home and on the job. The stuff is a simple mixture of table salt and tap water whose ions have been scrambled with an electric current. Researchers have dubbed it electrolyzed water, not as catchy as Mr. Clean. But at the Sheraton Delfina in Santa Monica, Calif., some hotel workers are calling it "el liquido milagroso," the miracle liquid. That's as good a name as any for a substance that scientists said is powerful enough to kill anthrax spores without harming people or the environment. Used as a sanitizer for decades in Russia and Japan, it's slowly winning acceptance in the United States. A New York poultry processor uses it to kill salmonella on chicken carcasses. Minnesota grocery clerks spray sticky conveyors in the checkout lanes. Michigan jailers mop with electrolyzed water to keep potentially lethal cleaners out of the hands of inmates. In Santa Monica, the once-skeptical Sheraton housekeeping staff has ditched skin-chapping bleach and pungent ammonia for spray bottles filled with electrolyzed water to clean toilets and sinks. "I didn't believe in it at first because it didn't have foam or any scent," housekeeper Flor Corona said. "But I can tell you it works. My rooms are clean." Safe and inexpensive Management likes it, too. The mixture costs less than a penny a gallon. It cuts down on employee injuries from chemicals. It reduces shipping costs and waste because hotel employees prepare the elixir on site. And it's helping the Sheraton Delfina tout its environmental credentials to guests. The hotel's kitchen staff recently began disinfecting produce with electrolyzed water. They say the lettuce lasts longer. They're hoping to replace detergent in the dishwasher. Management figures the payback time for the $10,000 electrolysis machine will be less than a year. "It's green. It saves money. And it's the right thing to do," said Glenn Epstein, executive assistant at the Sheraton Delfina. "It's almost like fantasy." Actually, it's chemistry. For more than 200 years, scientists have tinkered with electrolysis, the use of an electric current to bring about a chemical reaction (not the hair-removal technique of the same name). That's how we got metal electroplating and large-scale production of chlorine, used to bleach and sanitize. It turns out that zapping saltwater with low-voltage electricity creates a couple of powerful, nontoxic cleaning agents. Sodium ions are converted into sodium hydroxide, an alkaline liquid that cleans and degreases like detergent, but without the scrubbing bubbles. Chloride ions become hypochlorous acid, a potent disinfectant known as acid water. "It's 10 times more effective than bleach in killing bacteria," said Yen-Con Hung, a professor of food science at the University of Georgia, Griffin, who has been researching electrolyzed water for more than a decade. "And it's safe." There are drawbacks. Electrolyzed water loses its potency fairly quickly, so it can't be stored long. Machines are pricey and geared mainly for industrial use. The process also needs to be monitored frequently for the right strength. Consumers beware Then there's the "magic water" hype that has accompanied electrolyzed drinking water. A number of companies sell so-called ionizers for home use that can range from about $600 to more than $3,000. The alkaline water, proponents say, provides health benefits. But Richard Wullaert, a Santa Barbara, Calif., consultant, said consumers should be careful. "Some of these people are making claims that will get everybody in trouble," said Wullaert, whose nonprofit Functional Water Society is spreading the word about electrolyzed water. Most of the growth has happened outside the U.S. Russians put electrolyzed water down oil wells to kill pesky microbes. Europeans use it to treat burn victims. Electrolyzing equipment is helping sanitize drinking water in parts of Latin American and Africa. It's big in Japan. People there spray it on sushi to kill bacteria and fill their swimming pools with it, eliminating the need for harsh chlorine. Doctors use it to sterilize equipment and treat foot fungus and bedsores. It's the secret weapon in Sanyo's "soap-less" washing machine. In the United States, the Department of Agriculture, the Food and Drug Administration and the Environmental Protection Agency have approved electrolyzed water for a variety of uses. PuriCore of Malvern, Pa., and Oculus Innovative Sciences of Petaluma, Calif., have developed treatments for chronic wounds. Albuquerque, N.M.-based MIOX sells municipal water-purifying systems. EAU Technologies of Kennesaw, Ga., caters to both ends of a dairy cow, with alkaline water to aid the animal's digestion and acid water to clean up its manure. Integrated Environmental Technologies of Little River, S.C., is working with oil companies to keep wells free of bacteria, and with high schools to sanitize athletic equipment. Electrolyzer of Woburn, Mass., is going after the hospitality market. The Sheraton Delfina purchased one of its machines. So has the Hyatt Regency Chicago and the Trump International Beach Resort near Miami. Rebecca Jimenez, director of housekeeping, heard grumbling when the Santa Monica hotel got the machine last fall. Housekeepers doubted the flat, virtually odorless liquids were doing the job. Some poured shampoo into their bottles to work up a lather. "If it doesn't suds up, it doesn't work," Jimenez said. "That's the mentality." Still, she said, most have come around and are enjoying working without fumes and peeling skin. Minnesota food scientist Joellen Feirtag said she was skeptical when she installed an electrolysis unit in her laboratory. She found the acid water killed E. coli, salmonella, listeria and other nasty pathogens. Yet it was gentle enough to soothe her children's sunburns and acne. She now encourages food processors to consider electrolyzed water to help combat disease outbreaks. Most are dubious. "This sounds too good to be true, which is really the biggest problem," said Feirtag, an associate professor at the University of Minnesota. "But it's only a matter of time before this becomes mainstream."
The War on Iraq drags on with no clear end in sight. The war on Afghanistan is being escalated. The war on Pakistan has also been stepped up, a war undeclared by Congress, therefore unconstitutional and the basis for an impeachment. All this has happened since Obama took office.
And yet with one exception, no national antiwar demonstration has been called. Worse, to a large degree the one demonstration called, for this coming weekend, March 21, has been blacked out on the “respectable Left.” This ugly fact was brought home to me quite strikingly yesterday at a meeting of single-payer activists, most also antiwar activists. No one with whom I spoke knew about the coming demonstration! Part of the reason is that some have tried to characterize this action as a fringe event, because it has been called by A.N.S.W.E.R., about which more below and with which this writer is not affiliated.
This mobilization has a list of endorsers which are cannot readily be dismissed. For starters: Cindy Sheehan, Code Pink, Iraq Veterans Against the War (IVAW), Ron Kovic, Edward Asner, Mimi Kennedy, Ramsey Clark, School of the Americas Watch, San Francisco Labor Council (AFL-CIO) and many other labor locals as well as Green Party locals.
Despite this, the official peace movement, sock puppets of the Democrat Party, like MoveOn and UFPJ, is refusing to join or even to publicize this effort in any substantial way.
And this was predicted some time back by no less a monster than neocon McCarthyite David Horowitz who wrote in the Wall Street Journal not so many weeks ago as he gazed fondly on Obama’s inauguration:
“Consider: When President Obama commits this nation to war against the Islamic terrorists, as he already has in Afghanistan, he will take millions of previously alienated and disaffected Americans with him, and they will support our troops in a way that most of his party has refused to support them until now. When another liberal, Bill Clinton went to war from the air, there was no anti-war movement in the streets or in his party's ranks to oppose him. That is an encouraging fact for us…
And so it has come to pass.
Now some in UFPJ have characterized A.N.S.W.E.R. as loony lefties because a leading member is a group calling itself “Marxist-Leninist.” Zowie, kids! That is really scary! I remind such people that Nelson Mandela and Martin Luther King were not deterred from allying with “Marxist-Leninists,” nor were any of those who joined in the fight against Nazism and Colonialism. What is the big deal? If A.N.S.W.E.R. is the only group willing to organize a loud and clear street opposition to the Obama version of war and empire, I for one will not be deterred from joining in by a pathetic bit of redbaiting. And if only those who call themselves “Marxists-Leninists” are willing to call such an action, then perhaps there is something in the wisdom of Marx, and Lenin, that remains of value.
So the question really is, Which side are you on? That of the Obamanation and the Democrat Party version of war and empire? Or on the side of public, mass opposition to the war? I hope that as many as possible choose the latter course – in D.C., L.A or S.F.
John Walsh can be reached at John.Endwar@gmail.com
*Protest the spring IMF/World Bank Meetings!*As the economic crisis deepens and US foreclosure and unemployment rates climb, wealthy bankers and finance ministers from around the world scramble to resuscitate the financial institutions which created the crisis in the first place. This April the global elite, global financial institutions, and wealthy governments will meet to plan out billions of dollars worth of new economic bailouts for themselves while the nation's poor, the poor of the world, and working people are left with only crumbs. Billions of dollars have already been handed over to CEOs and portfolio managers, while workers' benefits and wages get slashed simultaneously. This trend will continue so long as capitalist expansion is prioritized over democratic principles, as long as profit is more important than people.A better world is possible, a world in which our means of providing for ourselves is not controlled by a wealthy elite. A global order is possible in which the dignity of human life is placed above greed, and the living earth is shared and respected, rather than commodified and sold.The International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank are two institutions which enforce the hyper-capitalist status quo. Since 1980, these institutions have been forcing countries to adopt neoliberal structural adjustment policies of privatization, liberalization and budget cuts. These policies are directly to blame for much of the suffering in the current financial crisis and in its predecessors in Argentina, East Asia, Russia and elsewhere. Though the IMF itself is beginning to admit its mistakes ? it recently recommended that countries abandon market fundamentalist policies to directly intervene in their economies ? it?s understood that that advice only applies to the United States and European countries. Free markets for the poor and socialism for the rich is their mantra.Neoliberal economics widens the sphere of imperialist capitalism, props up schemes of privatization, market liberalization and deregulation, and is ultimately to blame for this crisis. The World Bank and IMF are preeminent supranational institutions working to preserve the global financial order that puts profits, private gain, militarism, and gentrification over the needs of the people. Through their Structural Adjustment Programs - what they now refer to as ?Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers? ? these institutions have been destroying economies, local and global, for far too long. They must be stopped.The World Bank and IMF will be holding their annual joint spring meetings April 24-26 in Washington DC. As they try to save themselves from global financial meltdown (or maybe just give themselves a few extra billiondollars) we all know better than to let them have all the fun without us.Join Global Justice Action to oppose these institutions, resist the dominant global order, and show that a better world is possible, free from neoliberalism, capitalism, and imperialism.Global Justice Action embraces a diversity of tactics and will therefore be organizing a wide array of actions and events including coordinated direct actions and blockades, a mass permitted march, a people's forum, and a few other surprises! GJA will host community education events, arts workshops, trainings, and direct action meetings in the months leading up to April for the purposes of putting together a well coordinated, effective, inclusive weekend of actions that will hamper the plans of the ten thousand plus delegates.----------------------------------------------------------------------------*Call For Unpermitted Marches From the SDAC*Some have been saying it all along...Some have just begun to see it in crisis...A world in constant crisis, chained to desks and assembly lines, clear cuts and wastelands left in its wake... and they called it progress...and it collapsed. The suffering and disempowerment felt around the world everyday has become generalized in capitalist globalization. The age of globalization is the age of quiet total war.They exploited us, traded us away, and left us to pick up the devastation.This world is a death machine, producing death and saying that this is what it means to have it work. Around the world thousands die everyday of preventable causes linked to poverty as we live lives of shallow material opulence obtained by selling our entire lives away in the channels opened up in some market, a market which guarantees poverty to most and complete objectification to the rest. And they say that it works... And it collapsed...Work or starvation and for many work and starvation. They fenced off the world into property, fenced off the Earth itself and make us buy back the things which are already ours if we just decide to take them back. They made us dependent on markets for the basics of life... and it collapsed...For all our subservience we got a world of poverty, wars, cultural meaninglessness, and wastelands. We are killing ourselves while we devastate the very planet which sustains us in a frantic race to the bottom. Capitalism is a race to see who can exploit more, extract more, cut more, and drill more, the fastest and make the most money doing it... and as a result the planet is a sinking ship. For every oil spill, every clear cut, every by-product dumped into a lake, every mountain blown up to mine coal, every war started, every sweatshop opened, every housing foreclosure, every lay-off, every eco-system leveled to build an upscale resort, every prisoner locked away, every culture destroyed, profit is made, and the drive for profit is destroying the planet while relegating us to lives slaved away in the offices, factories, and prisons of this world.And it collapsed... We are left to pay Wall Street for the money THEY lost and the lives THEY destroyed. We are left jobless, homeless, lifeless, and suffering the effects of THEIR failure, unless we refuse this fate.We have a choice to make, stay on the sinking ship or turn and fight. The people that structure this destruction have faces and meetings. We intend to take the fight to them, and this is a fight for our world, a fight for our lives. April 24-26 in Washington DC the International Monetary Fund and World Bank will be holding their annual Spring meetings, and we will be in the streets waiting...We are calling for a series of marches to shut down the meetings and strike a blow against the death machine, please "dress appropriately".Details at www.selfdescribed.org.Kick it till it breaks!A communique from the Self-Described Anarchist Collective----------------------------------------------------------------------------Hey! Accompanying this note is the Self-Described Anarchist Collective's(SDAC) newspaper. SDAC is an anarchist organizing body whose current projects are making a stand against the war in Iraq on the 6th anniversary (March 19-21) and disrupting the April 25 meeting of the IMF, both taking place in Washington, DC. In our newspaper, you will find articles on the horrors of neoliberalism and capitalism in general as well as calls to action around the IMF meeting. Should you want more materials, please feel free to contact us at email@example.com.Love and Rage,SDACSDAC: http://selfdescribed.org/Global Justice Action: http://www.globaljusticeaction.org/-----------------------------------------------------------------------------*The Plan**Friday, April 24*6:00- ConsultaLocation TBA8:30- "Walking Tour of IMF and World Bank Delegate Hotels"Called by the SDACMeet at Farragut Square*Saturday April 25*5:30 am- Blockades and March to Shut Down the World Bank and IMF Meetings!!!Details at www.globaljusticeaction.org and www.selfdescribed.orgSaturday Afternoon- People's ForumCalled by Global Justice ActionDetails TBASaturday 3:00-5:00West End Neighborhood Library (1101 24th St NW) Nap time, yoga, and vegan milk and cookies provided by the SDAC.This gives us time to rest up and re-energize after a long day on the barricades. Saturday Night is going to be fun, get rest, you'll need it!10pm- IMF Soccer Riot and "Game" Night!Called for by the SDACMeetup at Washington Circle*Sunday, April 26*In the interest of providing a space for groups that are not comfortable with participating in direct action, Sunday has been declared open for permitted actions. This does not mean that no one can do any direct action, but please avoid downtown DC.Details TBA-------------------------------------*The Strategy for Saturday Morning:*Within the framework of this strategy the SDAC is encouraging affinity groups and clusters to carry out actions that are as fluid as possible. Remember: we don't have to control the streets, we just have to prevent them from controlling the streets. If they feel that they cannot guarantee control over the streets, they won't move delegates. This is a strategy of mobility, fluidity, and small-scale actions used to respond to police movements and move in open spaces. Not everyone needs to get into downtown in one large group or all at once. Move in smaller more responsive groups and be strategic about what time to launch actions. Be careful, strategic, and plan for success!*Tier 1: Blockade the Hotels *International Monetary Fund and World Bank delegates leave their hotels at 6:30 am in an attempt to get around demonstrations. They plan the agendas of their meetings because they are running scared. There are 22 hotels, with many concentrated north and northeast of the IMF/World Bank. These are our choke points. If we can prevent the delegates from leaving the hotels, we will prevent the meetings from happening.The strategy calls for blockades, barricades, and unpermitted marches (announced or unannounced) to occur in the time leading up to the delegate transportation departing from the hotels. Be creative and tactical in how we do this. They will start boarding the buses and limos at 6:30am, let's be out there waiting.Along with the first tier of the proposed strategy we are calling for direct action marches to reinforce the blockades and strike a major blow against capital and spectacle.*Tier 2: Street Blockades *If we can prevent the delegates from moving from the hotels the second tier calls for taking the streets and preparing to keep them. Once the delegate transportation is immobilized the strategy calls for people to start blockading the streets, using a variety of tactics, to further lock the area down. The goal is to set up an area of control which will take hours, or maybe days to clear. The blockades at the hotels, and the police response may create space for us to start to build more permanent blockades. Be aware, fluid, and ready to lock it down!Along with the blockades, the unpermitted marches will continue to serve to reinforce and distract.*Tier 3: Strategic Reclamation of Space *They stole our world out from under us and called it property, it is goddamn time we took it back! If we can immobilize delegate transportation and lock the streets down we can move into actually seizing space in order to build projects that will persist beyond these actions. These actions can be part of the plan of action for any group and may be engaged in at any time, regardless of the status of actions downtown. Contact community organizations and local collectives for help in building a long term project that starts that weekend, take over that building that you always wanted to take over, open up a house, our resistance needs to be constant and consistent. Demonstrations will not solve the problem in themselves but can open up spaces for our desires to manifest, use this space to build spaces and a movement that can win!*People's Forum and March*We are organizing a mass permitted march as well as a forum. The March is on Sunday and the Forum is in the evening on Saturday. The People's Forum will meet concurrently with the IMF/World Bank's meeting and aim to:1) promote understanding of neoliberal economics2) to present alternative visions to capitalism3) tie this understanding to local issues and to learn from already successful resistance movements.----------------------------------------------------------*Convergence Space, Transportation, Housing, Medics, Legal Updates*Convergence Space: We currently have a convergence space secured at St Stephens Church, which has historically been supportive of various social justice groups and mobilizations in DC. The convergence space will be open Thursday April 23-Saturday April 26th. Trainings and spokescouncils will take place at the convergence space on Thursday and Friday and the exact times and schedule of events are still being determined. Further updates will be coming.Housing: Mass housing will be available, we're just waiting on a final confirmation, so stay tuned!A housing board is now up on the website, www.globaljusticeaction.org.Transportation: A ride board is now set up on the website, so you can start posting and looking on there to coordinate rides from your city.Medic: Medics from Boston have agreed to bottomline organizing medics on the ground weekend of! We have a large amount of supplies already in DC, as well as medic-specific housing available.As with any action, we definitely need trained medics to come down from different cities to ensure we have enough medics to cover the weekend's actions. If you are a medic or have medics coming from your city, please email firstname.lastname@example.org so we can best evaluate our capacity.Legal: There are many folks, including National Lawyers Guild members, who have agreed to coordinate trainings leading up to actions (Know Your Rights, Legal Observer trainings, etc) as well as set up a legal hotline for the weekend.For legal-specific questions, email: email@example.com-----------------------------------------*March 22 April Uprising Consulta**If you're in town or can get to town, meet with folks to plug in and discuss the weekend of actions surrounding the World Bank/IMFmeetings*March 22, 12pm-3pmButler Boardroom, 6th floor Mary Graydon Center, American University 4400 Massachusetts Ave., NW Washington, DC*if you have trouble finding the room, look for someone at the main entrance of Mary Graydon Center to direct you.*Metro: Tenleytown/American University stop - take the shuttle from the metro and get off at the main campus stop.*Parking: free parking on the weekend in the lot off of Nebraska Ave by the main campus main campus map: http://www.american.edu/maps/campus.htmgoogle map: http://tinyurl.com/amwywh
The Republicans and their enablers in the Democratic Party have spent the past 28 years driving the country towards the edge of a cliff at 60 miles an hour. At this point, it seems that Obama will merely slow down to 50 miles an hour, when what we really need is a sharp left turn to avoid the cliff entirely.
For years, Leftists have been saying that America desperately needs a viable Leftist party, and increasing numbers are realizing that the Democrats are out of touch with thoughtful American opinion. If you doubt this, look at the readers' responses in the online edition of such an Establishment newspaper as The New York Times. Sorting the responses in the order "Readers' Recommendations," you find overwhelming support for universal health care, demilitarization, mass transit, progressive taxation, keeping jobs in America, and now, condemnation of Israel's actions in Gaza.
It therefore seems reasonable to envision a scenario in which a third, Leftist party could take over from the Democrats in a Whigs-->Republicans sort of way. But, given the stubborn rightward tilt of our mass media, it would take several election cycles, as outlined in a piece that I wrote for another forum early in 2007.
1. 2007-2008: Despite their majority in both Houses of Congress, the Democrats fail to stop the Iraq War or block any other Republican initiatives and continue to let the health care system collapse and jobs be sent overseas. (NOTE: I was right, wasn't I?)
2. 2008: One of the corporate-approved Democrats is elected.
3. 2009: Business as usual continues. The country continues to go down the tubes, despite total Dem control of the government, because the Democrats are either compromised or afraid of appearing "far left."
Meanwhile, under the radar:
4. 2009: A Leftist party (the Greens, the Socialists, others--it doesn't matter which one gets going on this first. Let's just call them the Lefties) undertakes a massive soul-searching and decides that its public image is too hippie-granola for the average voter. It recruits volunteers to go into the inner cities, rural areas, depressed industrial towns, and other places that the politicians ignore. The volunteers leave the political and economic theory on the college campus and concentrate on listening to ordinary people. Meanwhile, they raise their profile by volunteering (in a group, as publicly identified Lefties) for every public service opportunity that comes along--disaster relief, fundraisers for those without health insurance, material support for labor actions, adopt a highway, you name it. They create personal ties within all the neglected communities, allying themselves with local labor unions, liberal religious groups, ad hoc neighborhood or community groups protesting injustice, ethnic organizations, support groups for disabled and traumatized veterans, and any other like-minded citizens who happen to be around.
5. 2010: Midterm elections. The Greens, Socialists and other leftist parties convene to find a set of five common principles that they can all agree on and to pledge to ignore all the things they disagree on. The principles are all practical responses to real problems, and each is stated in one sentence or phrase for campaigning purposes.
(For example, the five principles might be national health care that combines the best of the single-payer and national health service models, reducing the military establishment to actual defensive needs, putting America to work through the construction of mass transit, intercity rail, and affordable housing; an end to off-shore production of goods and services for the U.S. market by U.S. companies, and tax hikes for the rich paired with tax cuts for the poor.)
The parties cross-endorse one another's candidates for Congress, candidates who agree to run on the agreed-upon five principles nationwide, plus offering Leftist approaches to any unique local issues. If, for instance, police brutality or toxic waste is an issue in a given district, then the local party takes positions on them, but in addition to, not instead of, the five principles. The candidates use guerilla campaigning methods, along with the contacts and networks created over the past three years, to win a few Congressional seats.
6. 2011: In Congress, the Lefties introduce bills based on their five principles. They are all scrappy fighters and lay both Republicans and Democrats low in debates. They don't pass any legislation (the Democrats keep calling it "impractical"), but these Lefty Congresscritters stay in touch with their constituents, learn to handle the media, and gain reputations for honesty and courage.
7. 2012: The Democratic president from 2008 barely squeaks into a second term. The Republicans are now too crazy for most Americans, and the Lefties get the second largest total, as well as gaining more Congressional seats. This scares the Democrats, and they start playing as nicely as their corporate sponsors will allow.
Fast forward to 2020: First Lefty president.
What keeps the minority parties minorities, aside from maneuvering against them by the political establishment and shameful neglect and hostility from the corporate media, is their own, yes, elitism. Their worst failing is political correctness in its original sense, going the "more Marxist than thou" route or refusing to work with Group X because it holds Position Y1, when everyone knows that the truth is Y2.
The other mistake that I see is top-down presidential politics. You can't expect the American people to vote for Ralph Nader, who pops up every four years to run for president and doesn't do much to build a mass movement in between times, or Cynthia McKinney, whom most Americans have heard of only as "that crazy woman," if there is no broadly based local party supporting them.
The Kucinich campaign that I saw here in Minnesota in 2004 had the right idea, in that it involved not only the usual leftist suspects but also a diverse range of others, and employed guerilla marketing to the fullest possible extent. Perhaps that is why it got 17% of the vote in the caucuses statewide, despite the corporate media acting as if the only choices were Kerry and Edwards.
In short, leftists need to reach out to and listen to the disenfranchised and disillusioned, learn to play nicely with other leftist parties, formulate a short, simple, easily understood platform, and bypass conventional campaigning as they work from the local level up.
Karen Sandness is now living back in her native Minnesota after spending about half her life on the East Coast, the West Coast, and overseas. A former academic, she is now self-employed as a translator.
[Addendum by a member of the Peace and Freedom Party: "I like her positive thinking. The one thing I think is missing is the electoral structure. Elections are rigged and until we can convince everyone to pass initiatives for proportional representation and equal public funding we can not get our voices heard. I agree with Karen that if we had fair and honest elections we could and would make her story a reality."]
The car that hit me was going about 40 mph. The driver sped up as he neared the intersection; the glare from the early Colorado morning sun blinded him. He never saw my 5’6” frame curved around the wheels, gripping the handlebars of my aluminum Trek road bike passing in front of him. I saw glimmers of steel, bumper, and tire before I rolled up on to the windshield leaving it pressing towards his lap as he slammed on the brakes. I still don’t remember hitting the pavement, but my right hip has never forgotten, even almost eleven years later.
As I was lifted up onto the stretcher, I could see my shoes lying silently in the median between a flurry of early morning traffic, and the people who had carried me to the side of the road still watching in horror. The fork and front wheel of my bike had been completely severed from the rest of the frame. I could see the pieces scattered beside the crowd as the ambulance doors closed. The medic was cutting off my clothes while talking to the emergency room via two-way radio, “Possible right hip fracture, left and right ankle fractures. Trauma to head and neck….” I could hear him clearly but the shock had me feeling distant, a million miles from what was happening.
In the emergency room I finally began to feel the pain. It was limitless. X-rays revealed not one broken bone. The doctors were shocked. (I assured them it was my healthy vegetarian diet that gave me super-elastic resiliency.) My grandparents were now sitting with me, my Grandfather chiding me about how I ruined the very best golf game he’d ever played in his seventy-some years that morning. I had been so lucky, unlike my bike.
As gashes and bruises were being cleaned and bandaged, one of the doctors came into the room I had been moved to. They had noticed something unusual on the x-rays taken of my chest. Lymph nodes were highly enlarged and quite visible. Normally they should not show up on an x-ray. These were the size of half dollars. “Hodgkin’s Lymphoma is the most common cancer for your age . We’d like to do a CAT scan while you’re here, to get a better look.”
Cancer? I was healthy. There must be a mistake. I was hit by a car, that’s all. But the CAT scan revealed drastically swollen lymph nodes in my chest, over a dozen of them. My Grandparents looked terrified. I was in disbelief, distracted by the crippling pain that was just starting to settle into my bones. I saw a specialist who reviewed the CAT scan with us. They wanted to cut open my neck from ear to ear and go in for a biopsy of one of the glands. I knew that was not an option, but I listened anyhow.
On the morning of the accident I had been on my way to work at a local area health food store. I had been promoted to Floor Manager at the Happy Canyon location of a natural food discount chain in the Denver area called Vitamin Cottage. I had just been working there a few months, and it was supposed to be my first day of training for the new position. Three weeks after the accident I was able to return to work. I was still quite sore and slow, but I wanted to be doing something to keep my mind off of the looming issue in my chest. I had deflected the surgery, asking to repeat the x-rays in another few weeks. I needed time to figure out what to do.
The first day back at work, we were scheduled for a product training by an herb company. I disclosed my situation to the rep conducting the training, and he gave me several bottles of an herbal tincture made of red clover, burdock, nettle and a few other ingredients that have been closely linked with combating the “C” word. I was to take it 3-4 times per day. I went through a bottle every two days, drank the stuff like it was lemonade. Whatever it was that was happening in my chest, I knew I was not going to have surgery or chemo or anything like that. I could feel this in my unbreakable bones.
With a sense of urgency coming at me from physicians and family members, I went for another round of x-rays about 6 weeks after the accident and 3 weeks of taking the herbs. They told me it was impossible, but not a lymph node was visible on the x-ray. My ability to shock doctors was beginning to entertain me.
I’ve had several chest x-rays since the accident and never have the enlarged nodes returned. I’ll never know if it truly was cancer, but I do know for certain that once I took those herbs, something happened.
It shouldn’t be much of a surprise that herbs played a role in my recovery. Herbs have been used since humans have existed. Herbal medicine was first recorded by the Chinese around 300 BCE, in the book Nei Jing. Most modern medicines are derived from natural ingredients found in the wild forests and jungles around the world. In the same way that eating certain foods nourishes (or depletes) the body, herbs work on a deeper level, from general maintenance to healing ailments like minor colds and allergies to more severe conditions like a dozen mysteriously enlarged lymph nodes that appear to be cancerous.
Around the world, holistic relationships still exist between humans and plant medicine. But America’s myopia views these systems as antiquated, unreliable and scary. It might be fit for a tribe in the Amazon, but hard working tax-paying householders need sterilized, standardized, encapsulated, regulated-but-unproven drugs that work about as well as most of the food we consume in this country that keep us “healthy.”
Recently, the People’s Pharmacy radio program discussed the topic of digestive ailments, something everyone has experienced at one time or another. One recurring theme was the number of people taking prescription medicines like Celebrex for arthritis, with an extremely common side effect of excessive heartburn causing patients to have to take an acid-blocking prescription to counter the digestive disturbances. This is not uncommon. Many household medicine chests containing prescription drugs also stock drugs to reduce the side effects of other drugs.
Pushed to market new products before critical trials are conducted, the pharmaceutical industry cranks out drugs like fast food chains launching new menu items every season. Healing was not always a bureaucratic web where the main objective is profits rather than efficacy. Just a hundred years ago, doctors were earnest knowledge seekers, working with nature to treat causes, not just temporary relief of symptoms. While life expectancy is constantly on the incline, so are the number of strange new diseases and conditions. Though people are living well into their eighties and beyond, many hobble through what should be their “golden years,” prolonging suffering and discomfort as guinea pigs for the Pill Pushers' Profits.
Perhaps the most important realization about herbs -- especially in a time of economic uncertainty -- is that almost anyone can grow them. The formula that aided in me not needing cancer treatment is full of “weeds” -- plants that can (and probably already do) grow in my yard. There is no money to be made for corporations if we all look to our gardens to stay healthy. Healthcare as an industry is the American Dream. Doctors would miss out on perks like all expenses paid “training” trips to exotic resorts courtesy of their big pharma friends if we were all drinking nettle and dandelion tea instead of taking Prilosec. This is precisely why some of these new “diseases” and their rush-to-market-pill-treatments are so sketchy.
I’ve often wondered about what my life would be like now -- if I’d even be here at all -- had I let those doctors cut me open and extract pieces of my lymph nodes. (Just being put to sleep for surgery has a real risk of death from the general anesthesia!) Like many cancer cases in this country, I had no symptoms prior to the bike accident. Routine check ups and “preventative screenings” find what we are told is a potentially life threatening disease that costs thousands of dollars to treat. Blind faith in our health care providers is an infectious disease no one seems able to stop from spreading.
Of course there are legitimate cases of cancer that are extremely serious, but with terms like “pre-cancerous” garnering the same treatment as full malignancy, it puts the cancer epidemic up for debate. The pharmaceutical and health care industries NEED us to be sick. They need diagnoses to increase every year in order to satisfy healthy corporate growth. Remember AIDS? We were all doomed. Everyone had AIDS, yet new research is now suggesting it’s only a threat in parts of Africa. And there are skeptics who have long been calling the disease a completely concocted fraud for decades. The treatments seem to kill more people than the disease. This too is often the case with cancer.
So what if Cancer is not really what it seems? Take the 7-time Tour De France champion Lance Armstrong. His “swelling from cycling” turned into testicular cancer that apparently spread throughout his body, yet still healthy, he responded extremely well to chemo and went on to win the most prestigious cycling competition in the world, in fact he even says “ without cancer I never would have won…” This serious illness is apparently also a lucky rabbit’s foot.
Is cancer a fraud? Is it possible that we don’t yet fully understand the evolution of our cellular functions? What if the body goes through some sort of metamorphosis -- an organ cleansing or growth cycle that looks like cancer? What if while there are obviously legitimately awful cases of this disease, there is also an enormous exploitation of others? And what if the treatments cause relapses that increase in severity, causing death?
Perhaps that would explain why the FDA is doing everything it can to stop the sale of herbs that have a long history of use as treatment for cancer and other illnesses.
The 1994 Dietary Supplement Health & Education Act (DSHEA) allows herbs to be sold over the counter in this country, but they cannot make direct health claims. If you’ve ever wondered why a product like Traditional Medicinals® Throat Coat Tea® claims to “support throat health” rather than state the obvious like “soothes sore throat” this is why. It’s not that the company is being casual or evasive -- they legally can only allude to effectiveness. Herbal products containing burdock, sheep sorrel, slippery elm and turkey rhubarb are generally referred to a “Essiac,” the tonic used by nurse Marie Caisse (1888-1978) that she was given by a patient who claimed it came from a Native Canadian Indian in the 1920’s (“Essiac” is Caisse spelled backwards). But it is technically illegal "to claim that Essiac cures, alleviates or prevents any disease or condition." Only drugs approved by the FDA and insurance companies (usually produced along the NJ turnpike next to oil refineries) can treat, cure or prevent disease. Herbs are “food” and there are extremely strict rules about what they can and cannot claim to do.
The ingredients in Essiac and other powerful herbs like cat’s claw and pau d’arco are being called "bogus cancer cures" even though they have a longer history of treating a number of diseases than prescription drugs, and without the side effects. The well-known site Quakwatch.com describes herbs with terms “folklore” and “lacks scientific evidence,” and my favorite, “Particularly insidious is the myth that there is something almost magical about herbal drugs that prevents them, in their natural state, from harming people.” What’s more quacky than inciting fear and doubt about proven plant medicines while sanctimoniously supporting drugs with less than 2 years of clinical studies, funded by insurance companies? Are doctors healing people or making them sick?
Herbs are becoming the marijuana of the 21st century. The government propaganda that circulated about the widely revered and respected cannabis plant in the early 1900’s (and still today) that eventually made the herb illegal is happening to over the counter herbal medicines now. We’re looking at the potential ban of dozens, possibly even hundreds of highly effective and valuable herbs. Will we need a prescription to drink a cup of peppermint tea one day? (Coke and Pepsi will still be legal, of course.)
As our economy itself is now suffering what appears to be a terminal illness, our health is perhaps more critical than ever before. In order to rally in the next phase of our species, can we really afford to be dependent on pharmaceuticals? Just as natural, psychedelic plants impart wisdom for the ages, so too do the medicines we’ve been taught to consider as unsightly weeds. Maybe there’s a reason they grow in such abundance and keep returning even after we pull them out of our manicured yards. Truth is not a weed.
However effective medicinal plants are, there are dangers --legitimate dangers -- in self-medicating. Just as mixing drugs, or a combination of drugs and herbs (one common issue is mixing the herb ginko biloba with aspirin as both are blood thinners) can be risky, so can the effects of herbs alone. The danger in misdiagnosing ourselves can lead to mistreating and overtreating. As the dietary supplement industry is barred from giving diagnostic treatment advice, consumers are left to their own judgment in administering proper amounts. Gripping our attention are media stories of pro athletes “juicing,” using herbal extracts to gain unnatural strength, or diet pill recalls where illegal doses of prescription amphetamines are being sold in OTC products. The stigma that natural equals unsafe plagues proven herbal remedies. Salmonella scares like the recent peanut outbreak send signals to consumers that sterility is ally number one in the pursuit of health.
If all were there when we first took the pill,Then maybe, then maybe, then maybe, then maybe...Miracles will happen as we speak.But we’re never gonna survive unless...We get a little crazy.No we’re never gonna survive unless...We are a little...Crazy...No no, never survive, unless we get a little... bit...Oh, a little bit...Oh, a little bit...Oh...Oh...Amanda decides to go along after seventeen years...Oh darlin...In a sky full of people, only some want to fly,Isn’t that crazy? In a world full of people, only some want to fly,Isn’t that crazy? Crazy...In a heaven of people there’s only some want to fly,Ain’t that crazy? Oh babe... oh darlin...In a world full of people there’s only some want to fly,Isn’t that crazy? Isn’t that crazy... isn’t that crazy... isn’t that crazy...
[Let's see if the Obama crew cuts off funds to El Salvador as in the past admins....]
By Sara Miller Llana | The Christian Science Monitor
SAN SALVADOR, El Salvador — The candidate of a leftist political party with its roots in a Marxist guerrilla movement has claimed a narrow victory in El Salvador presidential election Sunday.
Former TV journalist Mauricio Funes of the Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front (FMLN), narrowly beat Rodrigo Avila of the Nationalist Republican Alliance (Arena), the conservative party that's ruled the country for 20 years, to become the first leftist party president in the nation's history.
Throughout the 1980s, the U.S. supported Arena and other right-wing parties in their brutal war with the FMLN, which was backed by Cuba and by the leftist Sandinistas in neighboring Nicaragua.
Now, however, Funes is the latest in a string of victorious leftist presidential candidates running on anti-free-market platforms across Latin America. His win came in the face of the ruling party's campaign to connect Funes with Venezuela's president, Hugo Chavez, a fierce critic of the U.S. and an ally of Cuba's Fidel Castro.
"This is a new era for us, this is a triumph for the whole country, and we will triumph over the next five years," said Gloria Maria Ramirez, who was almost in tears as she rushed to celebrate in a central plaza in San Salvador.
Salvadorans throughout the capital jumped into the back of pickup trucks, waving red FMLN flags and honking horns, and set off fireworks into the night sky.
While the election is a democratic crossroads for El Salvador, the new president faces immense challenges ahead, including an economy that's inextricably linked to the struggling U.S. market and declining remittances from Salvadorans living abroad, rising unemployment, and gang violence that makes this country one of the most dangerous in the world.
These are the same problems that pushed many voters away from the conservative ruling party, but they'll require intense bridge-building by the FMLN, which has won local races since its 1992 transformation from a guerrilla army into a political party, but until now had never captured the executive office.
"Given the global crisis, the winner is inheriting a country with extremely adverse circumstances," said Julia Evelyn Martinez, an economist at the University of Central America in San Salvador.
Funes's victory with 51 percent of the vote was in large part a rejection of the status quo, in terms of violent crime and the economy.
"I want to thank all the people who voted for me and chose that path of hope and change," said Funes in accepting victory.
While Arena is considered tough on crime, it failed to stop street violence by gangs or maras. That Avila is a former police chief didn't boost his party's case: The murder rate is 60.9 per 100,000 habitants, up from 41.3 a decade ago, according to government figures.
Even though Arena has focused on the creation of a manufacturing sector in El Salvador, making ends meet is a daily struggle for most Salvadorans. In 2007, 57.5 percent were considered underemployed, according to government figures provided by Gerson Martinez, an FMLN lawmaker. Among those ages 15 to 24, the number of those unemployed and underemployed is 62.4 percent.
Meanwhile, the average cost of living for a family is $760 a month. The minimum wage in a factory job is just $173 a month.
"In the economic realm, people tend to blame Arena for bad performance of the economy," says Miguel Cruz, a former polling director in San Salvador and now a political analyst.
But troubles are expected to worsen before getting better. More than 2 million of the nation's 7 million residents live abroad in cities such as Los Angeles, sending money home in what's a crucial engine of El Salvador's economy: Remittances represent 20 percent of the nation's gross domestic product.
The flow of cash from abroad has grown unabated over the past decade. But it's expected to drop by 5 percent next year, said Manuel Orozco, the director of remittances and development at the Inter-American Dialogue in Washington.
Martinez said that, despite the challenges ahead, she believes that Funes will be able to create a model that favors national production, for example, and boost jobs instead of favoring multinationals. "The way (the FMLN) will deal with the crisis will lessen the social conflict, people will give them space to make the changes needed," she said.
A new economic model is precisely what scares some voters, however. Jose Ramon Iraheta, a flower vendor with Arena flags hanging from his street stall, said that Arena is the party that's best placed to generate employment and keep foreign investment flowing into the country. "Leftists take over the country and investors run away," he said.
Many voters said they worry that an FMLN victory means a government like that of Venezuelan President Chavez, a vociferous U.S. critic. Funes himself tried to temper such fears throughout his campaign, calling Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva his model.
Factions within the FMLN, however, embrace Chavez's vision. "It will be interesting to see which tendency predominates," said Cruz, "and whether once in government (the administration) is more a moderate left or a Chavista left."
Many residents were drawn to Funes because he represents a more moderate face of the left. As a talk show host on prime-time television, he never shied away from taking on corporate media giants and schooled a postwar society in freedom of expression.
Iris de Cisco, a mother of three, said she voted for Funes because, "We were sick of misery, poverty, corruption." She's not worried that he'll alienate the U.S., which considers El Salvador an important regional ally.
Orozco said that, while Arena threatened that an FMLN victory would spell trouble for the countryï¿½s relationship with the U.S., he expects it to remain stable, especially on key issues such as narcotrafficking.
Funes, for one, has said that he'll respect a free-trade deal with the U.S. and keep the dollar as the official currency. The Obama administration had stated its willingness to work with either candidate.
The vote wasn't a landslide, and it came on the heels of a fierce and dirty campaign. Building coalitions will be critical for Funes, who must move quickly to temper brewing problems in the country, said Martinez. The FMLN might have trouble achieving simple majorities in the legislative assembly, where the FMLN holds 32 seats and Arena, 34.
If the opposition blocks Funes, "The crisis will only deepen," she said.
In conceding defeat, Avila promised his supporters: "We will be a constructive opposition."
Laura Larson is an artist from Chicago, Illinois. Her work encourages self–initiated discovery as an antidote to the media’s hypnotic propaganda. Larson achieves this by creating sculptural objects that are approachable-- that invite the viewer to investigate another level or levels of meaning.She has stated, “Each object is worthy of examination, yet much more powerful when combined as a whole piece. Ultimately I want the viewer to feel uplifted about his or her own uniqueness, and at the same atime more aware of our connections to each other.”Larson has an extensive exhibition history-- including solo exhibits at Kristi Engle Gallery, HAUS Gallery, and the Riverside Art Museum. She studied art at Carthage College and UCLA.
Laura Larson -- Tableaux for "The Clearing"
Brian Sherwin: Laura, tell us about your academic background. Did you study art formally? What about influential instructors that you have had?Laura Larson: I graduated from Carthage College in Kenosha, Wisconsin in 1973 with a B.A. in Fine Art and Speech Communications and Theatre Arts. I specialized in print making because we had a really good printmaker named Joe Rozman. Being that we were close to the Chicago area, the influences of the Chicago Imagists and the “Hairy Who,” were felt. This group which included Jim Nutt and Ed Paschke, was fiercely independent from New York/East Coast trends and felt that art should have motivation and content other than Camp and quotation. However, my attention was really split between Art and Theatre. Our theatre program was small but highly developed and participated in major regional competitions. Everyone did everything. I worked on props, costumes, painted backdrops and became a fairly decent character actor.
Moving to L.A. in 1978 I took a weekend “Doing by Doing” performance art class with Rachel Rosenthal, a highly acclaimed performance artist. I have taken other various classes through UCLA Extension over the years for printmaking, drawing and, a class in 3-D computer rendering called Form Z to better visual public art projects.
Laura Larson -- Baby Crone
BS: Tell us about the thoughts behind your art. Can you give our readers some insight into any specific themes that you explore?
LL: My work is generated by curiosity about the nature of our nature – our body, mind and spirit – as well as our relationship to the planet and the universe beyond. Yes, the big picture. But since no one can ever see the entire picture, I have spent time working on selected categories, one by one, from the interior to the exterior and back again in some apparent spiraling motion.
In the recent past I investigated the nature of beauty and self-esteem. I wondered just how important youth and beauty are in regard to a woman’s self worth. In my installation The Looking Glass Lounge I decided to re-examine the value of beauty and its affect on our self-esteem and to see if we, as women, carry the same issues as our female ancestors. Moving from the very interior notions of “the Lounge” I began to look outward and at the human figure itself. Another installation called Epidermis Emporium examines our ambivalent or dichotomous relationship with our bodies’ sacred (honored) and profane (misused) aspects – using the shape of the dress form as a stand in for the human body.
Now I am moving a bit further outward and am including the animal world in my purview. I visit the zoo regularly and wonder what will happen to all of these species in the coming years. Will we resolve the issue of global warming and its effects? Why did we come to this disconnect? Can we learn to cherish the earth and its inhabitants again? I ask these questions as I create my next project.
Laura Larson -- Lady PinkBS: Is there a specific message you strive to convey to viewers concerning your art?LL: When I was a young artist I read a book called “Seth” by Jane Roberts. The message that Seth set forth in the book was that we “create our own reality.” This became my mantra or message for my art, and I wanted to share it with everyone. Now I believe that each person must find their own way, belief system or structure to make sense of the world. So I try not to be didactic about messages. However, if there is a message I am striving to convey it is to care. I mean really care about one’s self, one’s fellow human beings, our fellow inhabitants on this planet and the planet itself.BS: What can you tell us about your process in general? Give us some insight into how you work… as in turning an idea into reality, so to speak? Can you discuss some of the methods that you utilize?LL: What I do is try to create an atmosphere for exploration of the subject matter. My work is definitely content oriented but is presentational in nature so that any conclusions should come from the viewer’s own perspective. My intention in the execution of the work is to make it approachable, and then to invite the viewer to consider another level or levels of meaning. Humor is important in my work as the means of approach.
Here’s what happened with my newest project, “Nearly Beloved.” I read somewhere that plant and animal species were becoming extinct at a rate of 40 per day. I was shocked and I wanted to learn more and then to shine a light on the animal world. Then I became motivated to go to the zoo, draw animals, ask questions, write a lot in my notebooks. I seem to need to set my art works within some framework. So in this case I decided it should be an atelier where these artifacts are collected by a time keeper.
The concept is everything in my work. It all revolves around the concept. For “Nearly Beloved” I am examining the dichotomy of wild/domestic, control/chaos, male/female energies which translate into painting/embroidery, real/fabricated materials. Then I draw and dream and generally I see the piece before I make the piece. Generally I have many images in my head and am working on 3 or 4 at a time. I also like to think up things that would be challenging to make and then figure out how to do it.
The process also ties into my personal domestic life. I walk in the hills and pick up sticks, branches, burrs, seeds – mother nature’s cast offs. I take them home and combine them with domestic materials such as fabric and embroidery. A stick becomes a unicorn horn. A shelf holds a group of salt shakers, each one preserving (in salt) a dead bee I have collected from my balcony. An encounter with an ostrich at the zoo becomes a portrait revealing her sense of humor, encouraging the viewer to consider her domestication for food and the “Folies Bergere” nature of the feathers that frame her.
Laura Larson -- Ode to Joan x Millions
BS: What about influences? For example, are you influenced by any specific artists, world events, or art movements?LL: Betty and Alison Saar (narrative and mythological), Terry Allen (poetic installations), Kiki Smith (body art and fairy tales), Orly Cogan (embroidered drawings about domestic issues), Nancy Jackson (delicate evocative sculptures), Kate Clark (hybrid animal/humans), Brancusi (master of the understated) and Bernini (master of animated baroque sculpture), The Museum of Jurassic Technology in Culver City, CA (wildly atmospheric and mysterious)
The feminist art movement of the 1970’s in which I was a member of Judy Chicago’s Dinner Party. Currently – the fire storms of Los Angeles and the plight of the changing earth and its inhabitants
Laura Larson -- Earth FormBS: Where can your art be viewed at this time? Will you be involved with any upcoming exhibits?LL: The past decade was very busy for me with 7 public art projects and several solo shows. The last year or so I have been taking a breather and focusing on a completely new body of work. I am just now starting to look for appropriate venues. (When one does installations, there are a lot more things to consider for both the artist and the venue.)
BS: Do you have any concerns about the art world at this? There has been a lot of debate recently about copyright and the rights of artists. Do you have an opinion on issues such as that?
LL: I am concerned about artists’ rights. In Los Angeles Kent Twitchell’s amazing mural of Ed Ruscha (which he considered his masterpiece) was obliterated overnight by people who didn’t really understand what it was and didn’t care that it was supposed to be protected by copyright. What really concerns me about this is that the average person cares very little about art.
I think the reason is twofold. If the arts in general and visual arts in particular were thought to be an important component to a person’s well rounded education and introduced to people at an early age, then perhaps the average person wouldn’t be so intimidated by art and would care more about it. On the other hand the art world has become highly specialized and pretty elite. As a result visual art is not a necessary part of most people’s lives unless you consider TV art.
I am pleased to see that the economic stimulus package has reinstituted the original funding of $50 million to the National Endowment for the Arts. This is a good sign for arts organizations as well as artists. Perhaps there will be a surge to include more art and art programs into popular culture and for more artists to be recognized as contributors.
BS: What about the internet? One could say that the art world is starting to catch up-- more galleries are turning to the World Wide Web in order to further exposure for their artists. How do you think the internet will impact the art world in say… a decade? Can you see a meshing between the traditional market and alternative (online) markets taking shape?
LL: I think we all better get good at photoshop because I am guessing that there will be a lot more art seen on the internet in virtual galleries than in actual galleries. I think the internet is great. I love myartspace.com because I am being exposed to so many more artists from all over the world. It’s like a breath of fresh air. My only fear is that I will disappear one day into cyberspace.
Laura Larson -- Marie Antoinette
BS: Finally, is there anything else you would like to say about your art or the goals that you have?LL: My goal is always to find that state of grace which allows me to be in contact with my muse. That is where I make my best work. I strive to be open and truthful in my work. I hope that whatever truth is revealed to me is something that I can translate into compelling work.
You can learn more about Laura Larson by visiting her website-- www.larsonart.net. Laura Larson is currently a member of the myartspace.com community. You can view her myartspace.com account by clicking, HERE . You can read more of my interviews by visiting the following page-- www.myartspace.com/interviews.
A man sat at a metro station in Washington DC and started to play the violin; it was a cold January morning.
He played six Bach pieces for about 45 minutes. During that time, since it was rush hour, it was calculated that thousands of people went through the station, most of them on their way to work.
Three minutes went by and a middle aged man noticed there was musician playing. He slowed his pace and stopped for a few seconds and then hurried up to meet his schedule.
A minute later, the violinist received his first dollar tip: a woman threw the money in the till and without stopping continued to walk.
A few minutes later, someone leaned against the wall to listen to him, but the man looked at his watch and started to walk again. Clearly he was late for work.
The one who paid the most attention was a 3 year old boy. His mother tagged him along, hurried but the kid stopped to look at the violinist. Finally the mother pushed hard and the child continued to walk turning his head all the time. This action was repeated by several other children. All the parents, without exception, forced them to move on.
In the 45 minutes the musician played, only 6 people stopped and stayed for a while. About 20 gave him money but continued to walk their normal pace.
He collected $32.
When he finished playing and silence took over, no one noticed it.
No one applauded, nor was there any recognition.
No one knew this but the violinist was Joshua Bell, one of the best musicians in the world. He played one of the most intricate pieces ever written with a violin worth 3.5 million dollars.
Two days before his playing in the subway, Joshua Bell sold out at a theater in Boston and the seats average $100.
Joshua Bell playing incognito in the metro station was organized by the Washington Post as part of an social experiment about perception, taste and priorities of people. The outlines were: in a commonplace environment at an inappropriate hour: Do we perceive beauty? Do we stop to appreciate it? Do we recognize the talent in an unexpected context?
One of the possible conclusions from this experience could be:
If we do not have a moment to stop and listen to one of the best musicians in the world playing the best music ever written, how many other things are we missing?
"My additional thoughts would only be that so many people do things because they are "fashionable" that they forget to look at things with their own eyes, listen with their own ears, and appreciate anything with their own hearts."
[I've been thinking about how it seems like all my favorite cartoons get canceled so fast...Of course canceling Bugs Bunny was total bullshit - but then I realized that Pee Wee's Playhouse (not a cartoon, but), Science Court, Teacher's Pet and most recently Dragon have all been canceled....Talk about reasons for full-on rebellion!! (JK! I've lost hope in the whole rebellion thing...)]
In Brazil an astonishing number of UFO sightings have been reported in the last few weeks. Ufologists are being inundated with emails from confused witnesses searching for answers.
One of the most intriguing sightings occurred in the mountains on the outskirts of the city of Urubici in the State of Santa Catarina in the south of Brazil.
On February 13 A Mr Genivaldo Rodrigues was standing outside his car taking a break from driving when he allegedly saw a silver disc zooming towards him. He grabbed his camera which he happened to have on him at the time and snapped a photo. He then saw another disc following the first and managed to capture an image of that too.
When he got back into the car his DVD player stopped working as did his GPS. After driving for a short time his car engine stopped on him twice for no apparent reason: he alleges this hadn’t ever occurred with this car before. He was able to re-set his GPS but his DVD player remains broken.
On March 4 at 4:30pm in Fortaleza in the Northeast of Brazil a Mr Milton Novaes also noticed a strange object in the sky reminiscent of the UFO seen recently in Chita, Siberia. He too managed to get a photo.
The variety of UFOs seen in Brazil is leading some Ufologists to wonder if the area is being targeted by Aliens from more than one planet or civilisation. ‘Perhaps Brazil is hosting an inter-galactic conference ‘one ufologist commented.
Tu-Fu ranks together with his friend Li Tai-po as one of the greatest poets and social critics in Chinese history.
Born into a scholarly family Tu Fu received a Confucian education but failed in the Imperial examination. As a result he spent much of his youth travelling, during which he met the famous poet Li Tai-po.
While Li Tai-po was Taoist in spirit Tu Fu remained devoutly Confucian. Tu Fu was deeply moved by the sorrow of his troubled times. His poems speak of the sad fate of the people, and his deep hatred of war.
Chinese poetry is much different than its Western counterpart. Each Chinese character is a word/picture. Because the characters have remained essentially unchanged for thousands of years, each holds an emotional charge and racial memory. The characters cascade down the page, each painting a picture, evoking an emotion. Each character builds on the last and acts as a foundation for the next. As you gaze upon the poem, you see the symbol for river. In the column next to the symbol for river is a snowy egret feeding among the rushes. As you enter deeper into the maze/poem, you hear the clatter of oxcart wheels on hard-packed dirt and smell the sweat of the animals as they pass. You see the sorrowful faces of conscripts trudging behind the cart. The quality of the author’s brushstroke imparts a nuance of meaning that is further enhanced by the quality of ink used, and the paper itself creates a subtext of thought. Chinese poetry is a three dimensional living thing that leaps off the page and enrobes you in its images and textures, leaving the reader with a memory that will be built upon by future poets.
Song of Lovely Women
Third day, third month festival, and the air fresh with spring; beside Serpentine Lake in Chang'an, many lovely women stroll. Their appearance is elegant, their thoughts lofty and refined, their complexions delicate, figures in perfect proportion. Their embroidered silk gowns glisten with spring light; golden peacocks and beasts of silver strut upon the fabric. What is it that they wear upon their heads? Jeweled headbands with kingfisher feathers, dangling to their hairlines. And what is it that we see upon their backs? Pearl-studded overskirts drawn tight at the waist. Among them are kin of the Pepper-flower Chamber* with its cloud-patterned curtains- the Duchesses of Guo and Qin, honored with the names of nations! A great roast of purple camel hump rises from a green cauldron, and crystal plates gleam with heaps of white-scaled fish. But the rhinoceros horn chopsticks,* long-sated, are slow to descend, and the belled knife-handles dance vainly above the roast. The flying steeds of the eunuchs hardly stir the dust, as they bear in eight exotic dishes from the Imperial Kitchens.
"I believe in everything
until it's disproved.
So I believe in fairies,
the myths, dragons.
It all exists,
even if it's in your mind.
Who's to say that dreams and nightmares
aren't as real
here and now?"
List of sites that offer "Sita Sings The Blues" as a downloadNina Paley, a self-taught animator, released in 2008 an 82-minute animated film, Sita Sings the Blues, that mingles the classic Indian myth, The Ramayana, with contemporary autobiographical events, and it’s all set to the 1920’s jazz vocals of Annette Hanshaw. The film, which launched the San Francisco International Animation Festival (and was also recently featured in the MoMA’s series “Best Film Not Playing at a Theater Near You”) has won awards and gathered a lot of fans. In late February, Paley handed the film over to the public, releasing it under a Creative Commons license (download it here). You can now take it and pretty much do whatever you want with it (broadcast it, share it, remix it, etc.). The only thing you can’t do is copyright the film or attach digital rights management to it. If you don’t want to download the film, then you can watch it online here.
Thanks very much to @shr1k for flagging this for us. And feel free to send us any blogworthy items on Twitter – @openculture – or via email — firstname.lastname@example.org. Whatever you send will make this blog and the community reader experience all the better, and we appreciate you keeping us in mind as you surf the web and stumble upon good things.
WASHINGTON -- President Barack Obama is making a big mistake in escalating U.S. troop strength in Afghanistan where he already has acknowledged he doesn't believe victory is possible.
We should ask: What are we doing there seven years after the 9/11 attacks by the al-Qaida network? Historically, the country has lacked a strong central government and has been governed by locally strong tribal leaders and warlords.
Al-Qaida was able to take advantage of this loose structure and turn Afghanistan into the plotting ground for the terrorists who struck the Pentagon and the World Trade Center in New York.
But what are our goals there in 2009?
While the U.S. is supposed to wind down its presence in Iraq in 19 months (rather than the 16 months promised by Obama on the campaign trail), the president has ordered a military buildup in Afghanistan to more than 50,000 troops, both from the U.S. and other NATO members.
He would leave 50,000 Americans in Iraq to cope with the resistance there. Such was the folly of President George W. Bush, who invaded Iraq after his hawkish neoconservative advisers told him we would triumph in a few weeks.
To this day none of Bush's reasons for attacking Iraq have held up to examination. There were no weapons of mass destruction, no Iraqi ties to al-Qaida and no threat to the United States.
There have been no apologies from Bush or his cohorts.
When Obama visited Afghanistan last summer as a presidential candidate, he joined several other senators in a get-tough statement that said: "We need a great sense of urgency because the threat from the Taliban and al-Qaida is growing and we must act. We need determination because it will take time to prevail. But with the right strategy and the resources to back it up, we will get the job done."
What exactly is the job that he says needs to get done? What is the U.S. exit strategy? Does anyone in power remember the lessons we were supposed to have learned from Vietnam?
Afghanistan is known as the "graveyard of empires" because of the repeated failure of invaders over the centuries to achieve their goals in that rugged country.
U.S. prowling around in Afghanistan hasn't aroused anti-war protests as did the March 2003 U.S. invasion and occupation of Iraq. I am puzzled about this. It seems to me we are leaping out of the frying pan into the fire!
American public aversion to our military adventures in Afghanistan has been fueled by our shock at the toll that U.S. planes and aerial drones have inflicted on Afghan civilians.
There have been indications that Obama may start diplomatic overtures to the Taliban at a time when the human and financial costs of the two wars are wearing down the U.S. as it struggles with an economic depression that has no end in sight.
According to White House press secretary Robert Gibbs, the president is evaluating the situation in Afghanistan.
Obama would do well to study the trajectory that took us into the Vietnam War and the terrible price we paid there. We lost the war and fled by helicopters from Saigon.
Both Presidents Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon thought that they could win in Vietnam, but they were brought down as much by the American people -- who rebelled against the war -- as they were by the North Vietnamese.
Obama could go deeper in history and check out President Dwight D. Eisenhower's career for a lesson on how to end a war.
When running for the White House in 1952, when the American public was growing frustrated about the long U.S. involvement in the Korean War, Eisenhower told voters: "I shall go to Korea."
And he did. The Korean War ended in a standoff in 1953 -- much to the relief of the American people.
Despite some ensuing skirmishes in the Demilitarized Zone between the two Koreas, a truce has endured ever since.
During the 2008 campaign, Obama indicated that he was willing to speak to all parties in the military or diplomatic disputes we were involved in. He was criticized for his plan for outreach to the militants in Afghanistan.
But there is no alternative.
Sooner or later American presidents should learn that people will always fight for their country against a foreign invader. And peace should be the only goal.
The Universe provides signs by offering distinctive directions, much like a GPS system, if you are aware and paying attention. Flying books are one of those signs.
The first time it happened to me I was in Yokefellows Bookstore in Framingham, MA. Leisurely pacing up and down an aisle, a book flew from the shelf and landed at my feet. I picked it up and just stared at the title, then shifted my eyes to the space where it had fallen from, then back to the title. It crossed my mind that someone on the other side of the aisle returned a book to its rightful place, which resulted in my book being rudely shoved on the floor. Examining the bookcase I discovered that the bookshelf had a solid back.
I placed the book back on the shelf and reconciled myself to the logical thought that it was probably sitting precariously on the edge and the vibration of my walking up the aisle had caused it to fall. As I continued searching other titles I heard a book fall again. Turning, I remember feeling sick in my stomach - it was the same book. I picked the book up and purchased it. The book was The Seth Material by Jane Roberts.
Throughout the years I purchased every book written by Jane Roberts, whose writing and insights stretched my belief system and exercised my mind like a Pilates class.
Books still fly at me, and I still question this rare occurrence. The location is not a factor. This phenomenon has happened to me in intimate little bookstores, where you can smell the dust and mold, as well as those known book chain stores that serve up overpriced croissants. I’ve yet to determine if my own energy causes the book to fall off the shelf, or there is some guiding intervention by a discarnate entity. When this experience happens, I feel my personal shopper is helping me make a decision on reading material that I, obviously am too stupid to select on my own.
I purchase whatever is thrown at me, due in most part, to a feeling of higher obligation that if I don’t accept this unseen gift of guidance the experience will somehow cease to happen.
Who has had books fly at them? And what did you do? Intuitive minds want to know………..
By Liliana Segura, AlterNet. Posted March 12, 2009.Last month in San Francisco, I had the opportunity to attend a performance of Voices of a People's History, the groundbreaking show conceived by historian Howard Zinn, author of A People's History of the United States, and Anthony Arnove, co-editor of Voices of a People's History and author of books including Iraq: The Logic of Withdrawal (New Press). Blending historical narrative with spoken word -- and some spunky bluegrass performed by the San Francisco-based Stairwell Sisters -- it was an event that, in one brisk hour, celebrated the power of protest and made manifest the best traditions of radical American thought, creativity, and dissent.The show is brilliant for its simplicity: Take a handful of famous American texts (and several more obscure ones), some movies stars with radical politics (and a few non-actors), mix in some rabble-rousing music, and make sure the audience includes students, activists, and people who believed in hope and change before Obama came along. In San Francisco, the result was Diane Lane, playing writer and activist Mary Ellen Lease, crying, "We want the foreclosure system wiped out!" to thunderous applause, while reciting a speech called "Wall Street Owns the Country" (circa 1890). It was Kerry Washington deliver Sojourner Truth's "Ain't I a Woman?" -- first spoken in 1851 at the Women's Convention in Akron, Ohio -- with ferocity and sass. It was "W" star Josh Brolin play the socialist Eugene Debs, hip-hop artist Boots Riley give Muhammad Ali's speech against the Vietnam War, Benjamin Bratt, as Sgt. Camilo Mejia deliver his 2005 statement on GI resistance to the war in Iraq. The non-actors in the cast were equally impressive; Civil rights attorney Renee Maria Saucedo paid homage to the Latino youth of the country -- and of Mission High School, where the show took place -- as she delivered Chicana activist and writer Elizabeth "Betita" Martinez's "Be Down With the Brown!" (Martinez herself was in the audience and got a standing ovation.) And union organizer Clarence Thomas, who powerfully embodied the spirit and wisdom of Martin Luther King Jr. in "Beyond Vietnam," also tapped into the urgency of people's hope in Barack Obama -- and what's at stake -- when he delivered Langston Hughes's poem, "The Ballad of Roosevelt." ("I am tired of waiting on Roosevelt, Roosevelt, Roosevelt. Damned tired of waiting on Roosevelt. And a lot of other folks was hungry and cold, done stopped believing what they had been told by Roosevelt, Roosevelt, Roosevelt. Because the pot is still empty and the cupboard is still bare and you cannot build a bungalow out of air.")Howard Zinn, himself an icon of radical history at 86, kicked off the evening with humor and warmth, explaining that, as a historian and an academic, he never wanted to retreat into the past. "I wanted the voices of the past to come to the present," he explained. "You go into the past and get lost. I want to get out of the past." Zinn's own rebellion has been to reimagine the conventions of his chosen profession. Alternate histories may seem less remarkable in an age where it is possible to buy books that tell the story of everything from coffee to cod. But A People's History of the United States, which sold its one millionth copy in 2003 and has now hit the 2 million mark, first told the stories of American rebels past and present when the present included recent memories of segregation, Vietnam, and the murder of MLK. Voices has taken the documents of that and other eras of rebellion -- the speeches, the poems, the songs -- and breathed life into them.I recently spoke to Howard Zinn over the phone from New York. He shared his thoughts on President Obama’s domestic and foreign policy, the best parts of the New Deal, what he hopes Voices will help accomplish, and why he believes Obama must face mass protest in order to steer the country in the right direction.Liliana Segura: How did you decide to do Voices From a People's History?Howard Zinn: It really started way back … I wrote A People's History with the idea of bypassing and ignoring the usual from-the-top-down treatment of American history. I wanted not to see American history from the viewpoint of people in authority -- presidents and congressmen, generals and so on. I wanted to see American history from the standpoint of people who had been ommitted from textbooks.I wrote the book in the late 1970s, and it came out of the movmenets of the 60s and 70s and my participation in those movements. I had spent years in the South involved in the civil rights movement and I was very conscious when I was there -- I was teaching at a black college in Atlanta, Spellman College, and I was going around with SNICK (The Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee). And as I was going around participating in various things, whether in Atlanta, or demonstrations in Albany, Georgia, or Selma, Alabama, or various towns in Mississippi, I was very much aware that all sorts of very fascinating things were going on. Fascinating figures were on the scene. And none of this was going to be reported in the mainstream media, because the mainstream media is only interested in big events and big people -- even with movements they conventrate on the big events and big people.Of course, having studied history, I knew how history was so often told from the standpoint of "this is the age of Jackson, this is the age of Roosevelt, this is the age of Wilson." So I wanted to present the point of view of people ommitted from history, and the point of view of dissenters, of people who resisted, people who had to struggle for their rights and people who were not happy with the present situation -- antiwar protesters and socialists and Native Americans who were resisting encroachment on their land. That was behind my writing of A People's History.We had our first public reading of these documents -- I think I may have said something in San Francisco about the fact that my publishers at Harper Collins wanted to celebrate a million copies sold, and they wanted to do it by putting some historians on stage. And I said, no, please, don't do that. Let's have real history on the stage, presented by actors who will dramatize documents -- and not the usual documents. You know, when I went to graduate school I was given a huge book called "Documents of American History" and it was all presidential speeches and legislative enactments.So, we had this thing at the 92nd Street Y [in New York]. It was just before the beginning of the war in Iraq, in February 2003. We wanted to make the event relevant to what was going on. So when we had Kurt Vonnegut read Eugene Debs's speech against World War I, it was also a speech against war in general.LS: Watching Voices, one of the major impressions that stuck with me was how prescient some of these speeches are -- it feels like we are dealing with some of the exact same challenges today -- but also how much joy and energy there was in the perfomances. Has that surprised you at all?Howard Zinn: It was a revelation. We didn't know how people would react, didn't know how audiences would react to the reading of documents, didn't know how the actors would react themselves. And what has happened is that the audiences have been energized and I think, in many cases, inspired. We've had people come away from these readings saying, 'it makes me want to get active and do things.' And the actors themselves, they have been inspired. They've been coming back again and again.When these actors do these performances, inevitibly they say, "Hey please, call us again." And that's why Kerry Washington, Josh Brolin, Viggo Mortenson, Danny Glover -- they keep coming back again and again because they love to do this. And what is apparent is that people in the world of Hollywood and entertainment very often -- most of the time, in fact -- don't get an opportunity to express what they really believe. And, you know, these are people with social consciences. So this is an opportunity for them to do that.LS: Much of the performaces have to do with war -- and the direction we're headed in Afghanistan instantly leaps to mind. What do you think about Obama and the fact that he's following the trajectory of the Bush administration with the whole "war on terror"? You endorsed him, right?Howard Zinn: Endorsed Obama? (Laughs.) Yes -- I endorsed Obama, I wanted him to win. I wanted Bush and Cheney out of there. I wanted change -- and the truth is I didn't have much choice. It was Bush or Obama. I chose Obama. And, in fact, I was hopeful. Not too hopeful, because I know something about American history. I know how much hope has resided in presidents, and I'm aware that presidents are political animals. I'm very much aware that Lincoln was a policitian and Roosevelt was a politician and, in fact, you might say the theme of my work is that we cannot depend on people in the White House. We can depend on people picketing the White House. So my attitude towards Obama has been watchful from the beginning in the sense that, okay, it's good to have Obama in there, I'm glad that he aroused a lot of people getting people involved in politics -- now I hope these people who have been aroused and energized will use that energy to push Obama in a direction different from the one he seems to be going in right now.LS: I thought Clarence Thomas's performance of "The Ballad of Roosevelt," with that refrain, "Waiting on Roosevelt" really spoke powerfully to the moment we're in. What do you think about the comparisons between Obama and Roosevelt that came up following the election?Howard Zinn: It's interesting, you know, if Langston Hughes were around, we could have a poem, "Waiting on Obama." But the difference is, we shouldn't be waiting on Obama. We should be informing Obama that we expect more from him than he has done so far. Now, he has done some things that have moved in the right direction on domestic policy. In terms of the federal government taking a more aggressive stand in creating jobs, calling for a tax policy that will be directed at taking money from the richest one percent of the population, and easing the tax burden on other people, some of the initiatives he's taken have been good.But his domestic policies are not bold enough. He is still doing too much through the market system, through private enterprise. For instance, right now he is having a a big conference with people who are giving him advice on the health system. But he has not shown an inclination to do what the public really wants and what is absolutely neeeded, and that is to institute a government-financed health system which will bypass the insurance companies -- the kind of system they have in Canada, and France, Italy, New Zealand. He's not shown the boldness necessary in certain domestic programs, even though as I say, he's moving little bit at a time in the right direction.The economic situation is so bad. Although it's not as bad as it was in 1932, it's bad enough that it calls for bolder domestic measures. It calls for the government to institute, as Roosevelt did in his first couple years, a huge jobs program. The federal government under Roosevelt gave jobs to six million people; if you did it proporational to population, Obama would be creating a jobs program that would give jobs to ten million peope. He's very far from that. If he were bold enough, he would be instituting a federal arts program -- one of the very best things that came out of the New Deal -- where artists and musicians and writers and poets would be given jobs by the government to do the things they wanted to do. These are people who are bypassed by the market system. Artists struggle and they have to take other meanigless jobs in order to continue to do their art. And that's all, as I said, with his domestic policy.With his foreign policy, unfortunately, he shows no signs of departing from the traditional militarism of the Democratic and Republican parties. The idea of sending more troops to Afghanistan is disastrous, really absurd. I mean, almost as soon as he came into office he sent missiles into Pakistan. Civilians were killed. The whole tone of foreign policy, adding more soldiers, leaving 50,000 in Iraq even after withdrawing them in 16 months, all of this is very bad. And, therefore, he's going to need a great big push -- protest, really. He's going to need demonstrations and protest and letters and petitions. He's going to have to face the kind of agitation that Roosevelt faced when he came into office.LS: You have performances of Voices scheduled in different cities across the country. Given that you feel that we need protest and organizing and a real anti-war effort, do you hope that Voices will serve as an organizing tool as well as an educational tool?Howard Zinn: Yes -- we are -- that's what we hope for, that's why we are doing these things. We're not doing them just to entertain people. (Laughs.) We want to entertain people -- if they're not entertained they won't listen -- but, yes, we want people to come away from these readings, just as I wanted people to come away from my book, really anxious, eager to participate, understanding that if they don't, we are headed for disaster. And if they want their children and children's children to live in a better world then they'd better get active and take a chunk out of the time that they're devoting to the rest of their lives and devote it to changing the world.LS: Do you see any hopeful parallels between the kind of organizing that you saw decades ago and the organizing that some of the organizing that is going on now?Howard Zinn: Yes, I do see parallels. We're still at the early stage of it. We haven't reached that level of action and organization and protest that we had in the 1960s, but as I go around the country I do see everywhere, there's a nucleus of a larger movement. There's a promise of a national movement in the fact that in every community I've been in there have been organizations and people who are active and doing things. So I'm hopeful, yes.For more information on Voices of a People's History, go here.
In 1982 I died from terminal cancer. The condition I had was inoperable, and any kind of chemotherapy they could give me would just have made me more of a vegetable. I was given six to eight months to live.
I had been an information freak in the1970’s, and I had become increasingly despondent over the nuclear crisis, the ecology crisis, and so forth. So, since I did not have a spiritual basis, I began to believe that nature had made a mistake, and that we were probably a cancerous organism on the planet. I saw no way that we could get out from all the problems we had created for ourselves and the planet. I perceived all humans as cancer, and that is what I got.
That is what killed me. Be careful what your world view is. It can feed back on you, especially if it is a negative world view. I had a seriously negative one. That is what led me into my death. I tried all sorts of alternative healing methods, but nothing helped.
So I determined that this was really just between me and God. I had never really faced God before, or even dealt with God. I was not into any kind of spirituality at the time, but I began a journey into learning about spirituality and alterna¬tive healing. I set out to do all the reading I could and bone up on the subject, because I did not want to be surprised on the other side. So I started reading on various religions and philosophies. They were all very interesting, and gave hope that there was something on the other side. I ended up in hospice care.
I remember waking up one morning at home about 4:30 AM, and I just knew that this was it. This was the day I was going to die. So I called a few friends and said goodbye. I woke up my hospice caretaker and told her. I had a private agreement with her that she would leave my dead body alone for six hours, since I had read that all kinds of interesting things happen when you die. I went back to sleep.
The next thing I remember is the beginning of a typical near-death experience. Suddenly I was fully aware and I was standing up, but my body was in the bed. There was this darkness around me. Being out of my body was even more vivid than ordinary experience. It was so vivid that I could see every room in the house, I could see the top of the house, I could see around the house, I could see under the house.
There was this Light shining. I turned toward the Light. The Light was very similar to what many other people have described in their near-death experiences. It was so magnificent. It is tangible; you can feel it. It is alluring; you want to go to it like you would want to go to your ideal mother’s or father’s arms.
As I began to move toward the Light, I knew intuitively that if I went to the Light, I would be dead. So as I was moving toward the Light I said, “Please wait a minute, just hold on a second here. I want to think about this; I would like to talk to you before I go.” To my surprise, the entire experience halted at that point. You are in control of your life after death experience. You are not on a roller coaster ride.
So my request was honored and I had some conversations with the Light. The Light kept changing into different figures, like Jesus, Buddha, Krishna, mandalas, archetypal images and signs. I asked the Light, “What is going on here? Please, Light, clarify yourself for me. I really want to know the reality of the situation.” I cannot really say the exact words, because it was sort of telepathy.
The Light responded. The information transferred to me was that during your life after death experience your beliefs shape the kind of feedback you are getting before the Light. If you were a Buddhist or Catholic or Fundamentalist, you get a feedback loop of your own stuff. You have a chance to look at it and examine it, but most people do not. As the Light revealed itself to me, I became aware that what I was really seeing was our higher Self matrix.
We all have a higher Self, or an oversoul part of our being. It revealed itself to me in its truest energy form. The only way I can really describe it is that the being of the higher Self is more like a conduit. It did not look like that, but it is a direct connection to the Source that each and every one of us has. We are directly connected to the Source. So the Light was showing me the higher Self matrix. I was not committed to one particular religion. So that is what was being fed back to me during my life after death experience.
As I asked the Light to keep clearing for me, to keep explaining, I understood what the higher Self matrix is. We have a grid around the planet where all the higher Selves are connected. This is like a great company, a next subtle level of energy around us, the spirit level, you might say. Then, after a couple of minutes, I asked for more clarification. I really wanted to know what the universe is about, and I was ready to go at that time. I said “I am ready, take me.”
Then the Light turned into the most beautiful thing that I have ever seen: a mandala of human souls on this planet. Now I came to this with my negative view of what was happening on the planet. So as I asked the Light to keep clarifying for me, I saw in this magnificent mandala how beautiful we all are in our essence, our core. We are the most beautiful creations.
The human soul, the human matrix that we all make together is absolutely fantastic, elegant, exotic, everything. I just cannot say enough about how it changed my opinion of human beings in that instant. I said, “Oh, God, I did not know how beautiful we are.” At any level, high or low, in whatever shape you are in, you are the most beautiful creation, you are.
The revelations coming from the Light and seemed to go on and on, then I asked the Light, “Does this mean that Mankind will be saved?” Then, like a trumpet blast with a shower of spiraling lights, the Great Light spoke, saying, “Remember this and never forget; you save, redeem and heal yourself. You always have. You always will. You were created with the power to do so from before the beginning of the world.”
In that instant I realized even more. I realized that WE HAVE ALREADY BEEN SAVED, and we saved ourselves because we were designed to self-correct like the rest of God’s universe. This is what the second coming is about. I thanked the Light of God with all my heart. The best thing I could come up with was these simple words of total appreciation: “Oh dear God, dear Universe, dear Great Self, I Love My Life.”
The Light seemed to breathe me in even more deeply. It was as if the Light was completely absorbing me. The Love Light is, to this day, indescribable. I entered into another realm, more profound than the last, and became aware of something more, much more. It was an enormous stream of Light, vast and full, deep in the Heart of Life. I asked what this was.
The Light responded, “This is the RIVER OF LIFE. Drink of this manna water to your heart’s content.” So I did. I took one big drink and then another. To drink of Life Itself! I was in ecstasy.
Then the Light said, “You have a desire.” The Light knew all about me, everything past, present and future. “Yes!” I whispered.
I asked to see the rest of the Universe; beyond our solar system, beyond all human illusion. The Light then told me that I could go with the Stream. I did, and was carried Through the Light at the End of the Tunnel. I felt and heard a series of very soft sonic booms. What a rush!
Suddenly I seemed to be rocketing away from the planet on this stream of Life. I saw the earth fly away. The solar system, in all its splendor, whizzed by and disappeared. At faster than light speed, I flew through the center of the galaxy, absorbing more knowledge as I went. I learned that this galaxy, and all of the Universe, is bursting with many different varieties of LIFE. I saw many worlds. The good news is that we are not alone in this Universe!
As I rode this stream of consciousness through the center of the galaxy, the stream was expanding in awesome fractal waves of energy. The super clusters of galaxies with all their ancient wisdom flew by. At first I thought I was going somewhere; actually traveling. But then I realized that, as the stream was expanding, my own consciousness was also expanding to take in everything in the Universe! All creation passed by me. It was an unimaginable wonder! I truly was a Wonder Child; a babe in Wonderland!
At this point, I found myself in a profound stillness, beyond all silence. I could see or perceive FOREVER, beyond Infinity.
I was in the Void.
I was in pre-creation, before the Big Bang. I had crossed over the beginning of time/the First Word/the First vibration. I was in the Eye of Creation. I felt as if I was touching the Face of God. It was not a religious feeling. Simply I was at one with Absolute Life and Consciousness.
When I say that I could see or perceive forever, I mean that I could experience all of creation generating itself. It was without beginning and without end. That’s a mind expanding thought, isn’t it?
Scientists perceive the Big Bang as a single event which created the Universe. I saw during my life after death experience that the Big Bang is only one of an infinite number of Big Bangs creating Universes endlessly and simultaneously. The only images that even come close in human terms would be those created by super computers using fractal geometry equations.
The ancients knew of this. They said God had periodically created new Universes by breathing out, and recreated other Universes by breathing in. These epochs were called Yugas. Modern science called this the Big Bang. I was in absolute, pure consciousness. I could see or perceive all the Big Bangs or Yugas creating and recreating themselves. Instantly I entered into them all simultaneously. I saw that each and every little piece of creation has the power to create. It is very difficult to try to explain this. I am still speechless about this.
It took me years after I returned from my near-death experience to assimilate any words at all for the Void experience. I can tell you this now: the Void is less than nothing, yet more than everything that is! The Void is absolute zero; chaos forming all possibilities. It is Absolute Consciousness; much more than even Universal Intelligence.
The Void is the vacuum or nothingness between all physical manifestations. The SPACE between atoms and their components. Modern science has begun to study this space between everything. They call it Zero point. Whenever they try to measure it, their instruments go off the scale, or to infinity, so to speak. They have no way, as of yet, to measure infinity accurately. There is more of the 0 space in your own body and the Universe than anything else!
What mystics call the Void is not a void. It is so full of energy, a different kind of energy that has created everything that we are. Everything since the Big Bang is vibration, from the first Word, which is the first vibration. The biblical “I am” really has a question mark after it. “I am—What am I?” So creation is God exploring God’s Self through every way imaginable, in an on¬going, infinite exploration through every one of us. I began to see during my near-death experience that everything that is, is the Self, literally, your Self, my Self. Everything is the great Self. That is why God knows even when a leaf falls. That is possible because wherever you are is the center of the universe. Wherever any atom is, that is the center of the universe. There is God in that, and God in the Void.
As I was exploring the Void during my life after death experience and all the Yugas or creations, I was completely out of time and space as we know it. In this expanded state, I discovered that creation is about Absolute Pure Consciousness, or God, coming into the Experience of Life as we know it. The Void itself is devoid of experience. It is pre life, before the first vibration. Godhead is about more than Life and Death. Therefore there is even more than Life and Death to experience in the Universe!
When I realized this I was finished with the Void, and wanted to return to this creation, or Yuga. It just seemed like the natural thing to do. Then I suddenly came back through the second Light, or the Big Bang, hearing several more velvet booms. I rode the stream of consciousness back through all of creation, and what a ride it was! The super clusters of galaxies came through me with even more insights. I passed through the center of our galaxy, which is a black hole. Black holes are the great processors or recyclers of the Universe.
Do you know what is on the other side of a Black Hole? We are; our galaxy, which has been reprocessed from another Universe. In its total energy configuration, the galaxy looked like a fantastic city of lights. All energy this side of the Big Bang is light. Every sub atom, atom, star, planet, even consciousness itself is made of light and has a frequency and/or particle. Light is living stuff. Everything is made of light, even stones. So everything is alive. Everything is made from the Light of God; everything is very intelligent.
As I rode the stream on and on, I could eventually see a huge Light coming. I knew it was the First Light; the higher Self Light Matrix of our solar system. Then the entire solar system appeared in the Light, accompanied by one of those velvet booms.
I could see all the energy that this solar system generates, and it is an incredible light show! I could hear the Music of the Spheres. Our solar system, as do all celestial bodies, generates a unique matrix of light, sound and vibratory energies. Advanced civilizations from other star systems can spot life as we know it in the universe by the vibratory or energy matrix imprint. It is child’s play. The earth’s Wonder child (human beings) make an abundance of sound right now, like children playing in the backyard of the universe.
The Light explained to me that there is no death; we are immortal beings. We have already been alive forever! I realized that we are part of a natural living system that recycles itself endlessly. I was never told that I had to come back. I just knew that I would. It was only natural, from what I had seen during my life after death experience.
I don’t know how long I was with the Light, in human time. But there came a moment when I realized that all my questions had been answered and my return was near. When I say that all my questions were answered on the other side, I mean to say just that. All my questions have been answered. Every human has a different life and set of questions to explore. Some of our questions are Universal, but each of us is exploring this thing we call Life in our own unique way. So is every other form of life, from mountains to every leaf on every tree.
And that is very important to the rest of us in this Universe. Because it all contributes to the Big Picture, the fullness of Life. We are literally God exploring God’s self in an infinite Dance of Life. Your uniqueness enhances all of Life.
As I began my return to the life cycle, it never crossed my mind, nor was I told that I would return to the same body. It just did not matter. I had complete trust in the Light and the Life process. As the stream merged with the great Light, I asked never to forget the revelations and the feelings of what I had learned on the other side.
There was a “Yes.” It felt like a kiss to my soul.
Then I was taken back through the Light into the vibratory realm again. The whole process reversed, with even more information being given to me. I came back home, and I was given lessons from my near-death experience on the mechanics of reincarnation. I was given answers to all those little questions I had: “How does this work? How does that work?” I knew that I would be reincarnated.
The earth is a great processor of energy, and individual consciousness evolves out of that into each one of us. I thought of myself as a human for the first time, and I was happy to be that. From what I have seen, I would be happy to be an atom in this universe. An atom. So to be the human part of God... this is the most fantastic blessing. It is a blessing beyond our wildest estimation of what blessing can be. For each and every one of us to be the human part of this experience is awesome, and magnificent. Each and every one of us, no matter where we are, screwed up or not, is a blessing to the planet, right where we are.
I went through the reincarnation process expecting to be a baby somewhere. But I was given a lesson on how individual identity and consciousness evolve. I was so surprised when I opened my eyes. I do not know why, because I understood it, but it was still such a surprise to be back in this body, back in my room with someone looking over me crying her eyes out. It was my hospice caretaker. She had given up an hour and a half after finding me dead. My body was stiff and inflexible. She went into the other room. Then I awakened and saw the light outside. I tried to get up to go to it, but I fell out of the bed. She heard a loud “clunk,” ran in and found me on the floor.
When I recovered, I was very surprised and yet very awed about what had happened to me during my near-death experience. At first all the memory of the trip that I have now was not there. I kept slipping out of this world and kept asking, “Am I alive?” This world seemed more like a dream than that one. Within three days I was feeling normal again, clearer, yet different than I had ever felt in my life. My memory of my near-death experience came back later. I could see nothing wrong with any human being I had ever seen. Before that I was really judgmental. I thought a lot of people were really screwed up, in fact I thought that everybody was screwed up but me. But I got clear on all that.
About three months later a friend said I should get tested, so I went and got the scans and so forth. I really felt good, so I was afraid of getting bad news. I remember the doctor at the clinic looking at the before and after scans, saying, “Well, there is nothing here now.” I said, “Really, it must be a miracle”’ He said “No, these things happen; they are called spontaneous remission.” He acted very unimpressed. But here was a miracle, and I was impressed, even if no one else was.
During my near-death experience I had a descent into what you might call Hell, and it was very surprising. I did not see Satan or evil. My descent into Hell was a descent into each person’s customized human misery, ignorance, and darkness of not knowing. It seemed like a miserable eternity. But each of the millions of souls around me had a little star of light always available. But no one seemed to pay attention to it. They were so consumed with their own grief, trauma and misery. But, after what seemed an eternity, I started calling out to that Light, like a child calling to a parent for help.
Then the Light opened up and formed a tunnel that came right to me and insulated me from all that fear and pain, That is what Hell really is. So what we are doing is learning to hold hands, to come together. The doors of Hell are open now. We are going to link up, hold hands, and walk out of Hell together. The Light came to me and turned into a huge golden angel. I said, “Are you the angel of death?” It expressed to me that it was my oversoul, my higher Self matrix, a super ancient part of ourselves. Then I was taken to the Light.
Soon our science will quantify spirit. Isn’t that going to be wonderful? We are coming up with devices now that are sensitive to subtle energy or spirit energy. Physicists use these atomic colliders to smash atoms to see what they are made of. They have got it down to quarks and charm, and all that. Well, one day they are going to come down to the little thing that holds it all together, and they are going to have to call that ... God. We are just beginning to understand that we are creating too, as we go along. As I saw forever, I came to a realm during my near-death experience in which there is a point where we pass all knowledge and begin creating the next fractal, the next level. We have that power to create as we explore. And that is God expanding itself through us.
Since my return I have experienced the Light spontaneously, and I have learned how to get to that space almost any time in my meditation. Each one of you can do this. You do not have to die or have a near-death experience to do this. It is within your equipment; you are wired for it already. The body is the most magnificent Light being there is. The body is a universe of incredible Light. Spirit is not pushing us to dissolve this body. That is not what is happening. Stop trying to become God; God is becoming you. Here.
I asked God: “What is the best religion on the planet? Which one is right?” And Godhead said, with great love: “I don’t care.” That was incredible grace. When Godhead said, “I don’t care,” I immediately understood that it is for us to care about. It is important, because we are the caring beings. It matters to us and that is where it is important. What you have is the energy equation in spirituality. Ultimate Godhead does not care if you are Protestant, Buddhist, or whatever. It is all a blooming facet of the whole. I wish that all religions would realize it and let each other be. It is not the end of each religion, but we are talking about the same God. Live and let live. Each has a different view. And it all adds up to the big picture; it is all important.
I went over to the other side during my near-death experience with a lot of fears about toxic waste, nuclear missiles, the population explosion, the rainforest. I came back loving every single problem. I love nuclear waste. I love the mushroom cloud; this is the holiest mandala that we have manifested to date, as an archetype. It, more than any religion or philosophy on earth, brought us together all of a sudden, to a new level of consciousness. Knowing that maybe we can blow up the planet fifty times, or 500 times, we finally realize that maybe we are all here together now.
For a period they had to keep setting off more bombs to get it in to us. Then we started saying, “we do not need this any more.” Now we are actually in a safer world than we have ever been in, and it is going to get safer. So I came back from my near-death experience loving toxic waste, because it brought us together. These things are so big. As Peter Russell might say, these problems are now “soul size.” Do we have soul size answers” YES!
The clearing of the rain forest will slow down, and in fifty years there will be more trees on the planet than in a long time. If you are into ecology, go for it; you are that part of the system that is becoming aware. Go for it with all your might, but do not be depressed. It is part of a larger thing.
Earth is in the process of domesticating itself. It is never again going to be as wild a place as it once was. There will be great wild places, reserves where nature thrives. Gardening and reserves will be the thing in the future. Population increase is getting very close to the optimal range of energy to cause a shift in consciousness. That shift in consciousness will change politics, money, energy.
After dying, going through my near-death experience and coming back, I really respect life and death. In our DNA experiments we may have opened the door to a great secret. Soon we will be able to live as long as we want to live in this body.
After living 150 years or so, there will be an intuitive soul sense that you will want to change channels. Living forever in one body is not as creative as reincarnation, as transferring energy in this fantastic vortex of energy that we are in. We are actually going to see the wisdom of life and death, and enjoy it. As it is now, we have already been alive forever.
This body, that you are in, has been alive forever. It comes from an unending stream of life, going back to the Big Bang and beyond.
This body gives life to the next life, in dense and subtle energy.
Ward Churchill is suing the University of Colorado for violating his "free speech rights" and the trial begins today. On cue, the drum circles show up en masse. Check out El Marco's photoessay by clicking image below.
Guess who showed up in solidarity with the man who compared the victims of 9/11 to "Little Eichmanns"?
William Ayers, the Chicago professor whose radical past made him a lightning rod in the 2008 presidential campaign, said fired Colorado professor Ward Churchill was the victim of a "witch hunt."
"There's no doubt in my mind he was persecuted because of his politics," Ayers said Thursday before appearing with Churchill at a student-sponsored forum on academic freedom on the University of Colorado's Boulder campus
Where is Ralph Nader these days? In court, taking his battle to reform ballot access laws in the United States to the judiciary. Nader is fighting an alleged conspiracy hatched against him in Boston at the time of the 2004 Democratic National Convention held in the city.
Ralph has successfully defended his federal appellate win in Arizona over the state's unconstitutional restrictions on petition circulators. Arizona banned out-of-state petitioners, a practice that the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals found to be unconstitutional. Not giving up easily on challenges to the 2-party system that dominates American politics, state officials had asked the U.S. Supreme Court to reverse the appellate decision striking down Arizona's restrictive ballot access law but the high court today decided to let the decision stand.
A leftover from Nader's 2008 presidential campaign? No, the case is a holdover from the 2004 electoral bid by America's most famous consumer protection advocate.
In 2004, Ralph Nader was the target of an unprecedented legal attack in almost two dozen states with 29 legal actions brought, financed or instigated by the Democratic Party. The lawsuits, many of them frivolous, were brought to keep Ralph in court and not on the campaign stump.
After the dust settled, it was clear to Nader that he had been the target of an abuse of the court system by a major political party to deprive him of ballot access. Ralph then filed suit against the Democratic National Committee for the legal conspiracy.
The lawsuit was dismissed at the District Court level of the federal court system and Nader appealed to the District of Columbia U.S. Court of Appeals where oral argument is scheduled for later in the month.
Nader's brief to the appellate court addresses some of the pending issues. Nader charged the Democrats were guilty of "overtly corrupt and even unlawful conduct."
Nader argued the appeal should go forward because, "Defendants denied and fraudulently concealed their tortuous conduct, and because they remain engaged in ongoing acts in furtherance of their unlawful conspiracy."
"Defendants wrongfully invoked state statutes and federal campaign finance laws as a pretext to bankrupt their competitors by forcing them to incur litigation costs in the defense of a pattern of baseless and repetitive claims."
Nader alleges that in Pennsylvania the political conspirators "planted approximately 7,000 fake signatures" in his petitions so they could later claim the petitions were fraudulent. The Pennsylvania Attorney General Tom Corbett has indicted a dozen Democrats for illegal work on petition challenges in 2004 in a scandal dubbed "Bonusgate" because the state legislative workers were paid a bonus for their dirty work.
Nader continued his assault on his Democrat opponents, "Conspirators engaged in sabotage and other unlawful acts intended to manufacture grounds for their otherwise baseless litigation."
Nader likened the Democratic lawsuits against him to "malicious prosecution" which were only filed to advance "baseless claims" designed to bankrupt his campaign. The lawsuits were "wrongful and abusive" of the judicial process.
Nader says the conspiracy against him came together in July 2004 in a meeting of thirty-six conspirators at the Four Seasons hotel in Boston. Oral argument is scheduled in the case for March 20th in Washington, D.C.
In early Autumn 2002, Carlos Barrios journeyed North from his home in Guatemala to the Eastern edge of the Four Corners. In Santa Fe, New Mexico, at the tail of the Rocky Mountain spine of North America, Mr. Barrios spoke in a knowledgeable manner about the Mayan tradition and the fabled Mayan calendars.
The Mayan calendars are an object of intense interest for many thousands of people right now, because they focus upon the watershed date of Dec. 21, 2012. Everything changes by then, it is said.
With a cultural heritage including thousands of pyramids and temples, and a calendar that has proven itself to be astronomically accurate over millions of years, the Maya tradition is widely considered to be a mystic key to the soul of Turtle Island (North America).
In public talks and in private interviews, Mr. Barrios laid out his account of the history and future of the Americas, and the larger world, based on his understanding of the Mayan tradition as both an anthropologist and an initiate. He spoke also about the path he sees ahead from now until the Winter Solstice of 2012.
The range of teachings and insights offered by Mr. Barrios must be considered in the context of the realpolitik in his American homeland. The Maya of Guatemala, their pyramids, and their calendar have endured not in a new-age Shambhala of love and light, but in a milieu of treachery, beatings, torture, rape, and mass murder.
Decades of Darkness
For 30 long years right-wing Guatemalan governments — supported both overtly and covertly by the US government — waged a terrorist war against the people of the land, murdering over 200,000 citizens, many of them indigenous Mayan people.
When the war finally wound down in the 1990s, the United Nations Truth Commission conducted an 18-month investigation.* The UN found massive violations of human rights by the government of Guatemala with the complicity of the US government. The UN report stated that acts of "aggressive, racist and extremely cruel" violence descended to the level of genocide directed against the country's indigenous Mayan population.
When Amnesty International studied the Guatemalan situation in recent years, they came to an arresting conclusion. They wrote that real peace could come only through confronting Guatemala's "Corporate Mafia State."*
They described this corporate Mafia state as an "unholy alliance" of certain national and international economic actors, who work alongside sectors of the police and military and common criminals to control ‘black’ industries such as drugs, arms trafficking, money laundering, car theft rings, illegal adoptions, and kidnapping for ransom."
About the great dark shadow that has hung over the south-most part of Turtle Island, Mr. Barrios observes: "These injustices began five hundred years ago and continue to this very day in all the Americas. The Indian Wars have never ended...I think the power holders in the developed world see it as necessary to destroy the indigenous peoples, or at least to destroy their culture, because they are not ‘consumers.’ The American Dream is built on the back of the Third World...But that is a false distinction for there is no Third World. There is only one world. We are all part of that one world, and we are all due respect."
While Guatemala has ostensibly been at peace for the last eight years, it is a disturbed peace. The war continues to have a residual impact on the people. Human rights violations still occur regularly, and even international human-rights monitors have been under threat.
Still, in the view of Mr. Barrios who came of age during the war, there have been improvements. "There are no armed guerillas, and the police and army are more decent, more respectful," he observed. "Because there is more human respect now, we can try to find a new life."
One eventual consequence of Guatemala’s long-enduring climate of terrorism, has been mistrust and criticism. From this few are immune. Accusations are often aimed at people who purport to speak of the Mayan traditions. Mr. Barrios is enmeshed in this matrix of uncertainty. He criticizes others, and he is criticized himself. He has become a figure of controversy for some traditional Mayan elders.
The World will Not End
Carlos Barrios says he was born into a Spanish family on El Altiplano, the highlands of Guatemala. His home was in Huehuetenango, also the dwelling place of the Maya Mam tribe. With other Maya and other indigenous tradition keepers, the Mam carry part of the old ways on Turtle Island (North America). They are keepers of time, authorities on remarkable calendars that are ancient, elegant and relevant.
According to Mr. Barrios, he is a historian, an anthropologist and investigator. After studying with traditional elders for 25 years since the age of 19, Barrios says he has also become a Mayan Ajq'ij, a ceremonial priest and spiritual guide, Eagle Clan.
Years ago, along with his brother, Gerardo, Carlos initiated an investigation into the different Mayan calendars. He studied with many teachers. He says his brother Gerardo interviewed nearly 600 traditional Mayan elders to widen their scope of knowledge.
"Anthropologists visit the temple sites," Mr. Barrios says, "and read the stelas and inscriptions and make up stories about the Maya, but they do not read the signs correctly. It’s just their imagination. Other people write about prophecy in the name of the Maya. They say that the world will end in December 2012. The Mayan elders are angry with this. The world will not end. It will be transformed. The indigenous have the calendars, and know how to accurately interpret it, not others."
Mayan comprehension of time, seasons, and cycles has proven itself to be vast and sophisticated. The Maya understand 17 different calendars, some of them charting time accurately over a span of more than ten million years.
The calendar that has steadily drawn global attention since 1987 is called the Tzolk'in or Cholq'ij. Devised ages ago and based on the cycle of the Pleiades, it is still held as sacred.
Mayan Cholq'ij - an image of the Mayan Tzolkin calendar used on the Altiplano. Image courtesy of Saq'be.
With the indigenous calendars, native people have kept track of important turning points in history. For example, the daykeepers who study the calendars identified an important day in the year One Reed, Ce Acatal as it was called by the Mexica. That was the day when an important ancestor was prophesied to return, "coming like a butterfly."
The One Reed date correlates to the day that Hernando Cortez and his fleet of 11 Spanish galleons arrived from the East at what is today called Vera Cruz, Mexico. When the Spanish ships came toward shore, native people wereS waiting and watching to see how it would go. The billowing sails of the ships did indeed remind the scouts of butterflies skimming the ocean surface.
In this manner was a new era initiated, an era they had anticipated through their calendars. The Maya termed the new era the Nine Bolomtikus, or Nine Hells of 52 years each. As the nine cycles unfolded, land and freedom were taken from the native people. Disease and disrespect dominated.
What began with the arrival of Cortez, lasted until August 16, 1987 – a date many people recall as Harmonic Convergence. Millions of people took advantage of that date to make ceremony in sacred sites, praying for a smooth transition to a new era, the World of the Fifth Sun.
From that 1987 date until now, Mr. Barrios says, we have been in a time when the right arm of the materialistic world is disappearing, slowly but inexorably. We are at the cusp of the era when peace begins, and people live in harmony with Mother Earth. We are no longer in the World of the Fourth Sun, but we are not yet in the World of the Fifth Sun. This is the time in-between, the time of transition.
As we pass through transition there is a colossal, global convergence of environmental destruction, social chaos, war, and ongoing Earth changes. All this, Mr. Barrios says, was foreseen via the simple, spiral mathematics of the Mayan calendars.
"It will change," Mr. Barrios observes. "Everything will change." He said Mayan Daykeepers view the Dec. 21, 2012 date as a rebirth, the start of the World of the Fifth Sun. It will be the start of a new era resulting from — and signified by — the solar meridian crossing the galactic equator, and the earth aligning itself with the center of the galaxy.
As John Major Jenkins has written in Maya Cosmogenesis 2012, at sunrise on December 21, 2012 — for the first time in 26,000 years — the Sun rises to conjunct the intersection of the Milky Way and the plane of the ecliptic, describing in the sky a great cross of stars and planets. This cosmic cross is considered to be an embodiment of the Sacred Tree, The Tree of Life — a tree remembered in all the world’s spiritual traditions.
Some observers say this alignment with the heart of the galaxy in 2012 will open a channel for cosmic energy to flow through the earth, cleansing it and all that dwells upon it, raising all to a higher level of vibration. This process has already begun, Mr. Barrios suggested. "Change is accelerating now, and it will continue to accelerate."
If the people of the earth can get to this 2012 date in good shape, without having destroyed too much of the Earth, Mr. Barrios said, we will rise to a new, higher level. But to get there we must transform enormously powerful forces that seek to block the way.
A Picture of the Road Ahead
From his understanding of the Mayan tradition and the calendars, Mr. Barrios offered a picture of where we are at and what may lie on the road ahead:
The date specified in the calendar — Winter Solstice in the year 2012 — does not mark the end of the world. Many outside people writing about the Mayan calendar sensationalize this date, but they do not know. The ones who know are the indigenous elders who are entrusted with keeping the tradition.
"Humanity will continue," he contends, "but in a different way. Material structures will change. From this we will have the opportunity to be more human."
We are living in the most important era of the Mayan calendars and prophecies. All the prophecies of the world, all the traditions, are converging now. There is no time for games. The spiritual ideal of this era is action.
Many powerful souls have reincarnated in this era, with a lot of power. This is true on both sides, the light and the dark. High magic is at work on both sides.
Things will change, but it is up to the people how difficult or easy it is for the changes to come about.
The economy now is a fiction. The first five-year stretch oftransition — from August 1987 to August 1992 — was the beginning of the destruction of the material world. We have progressed ten years deeper into the transition phase by now, and many of the so-called sources of financial stability are in fact hollow.
The banks are weak. This is a delicate moment for them. They could crash globally if we don’t pay attention. One critical periodis October and November 2002. If the banks crash in these months then we will be forced to rely on the land and our skills. The monetary systems will be in chaos, and we must then rely on our direct relationship with the Earth for our food and shelter.
The North and South Poles are both breaking up. The level of the water in the oceans is going to rise. But at the same time, land in the ocean, especially near Cuba, is also going to rise.
A Call for Fusion
As he met with audiences in Santa Fe, Mr. Barrios told a story about the most recent Mayan New Year ceremonies in Guatemala. He said that one respected Mam elder, who lives all year in a solitary mountain cave, journeyed to Chichicastenango to speak with the people at the ceremony.
The elder delivered a simple, direct message. He called for human beings to come together in support of life and light. Right now each person and group is going his or her own way. The elder of the mountains said there is hope if the people of the light can come together and unite in some way.
Reflecting on this, Mr. Barrios explained: "We live in a world of polarity: day and night, man and woman, positive and negative. Light and darkness need each other. They are a balance. Just now the dark side is very strong, and very clear about what they want. They have their vision and their priorities clearly held, and also their hierarchy. They are working in many ways so that we will be unable to connect with the spiral Fifth World in 2012."
"On the light side everyone thinks they are the most important, that their own understandings, or their group’s understandings, are the key. There’s a diversity of cultures and opinions, so there is competition, diffusion, and no single focus."
As Mr. Barrios sees it, the dark side works to block fusion through denial and materialism. It also works to destroy those who are working with the light to get the Earth to a higher level. They like the energy of the old, declining Fourth World, the materialism. They do not want it to change. They do not want fusion. They want to stay at this level, and are afraid of the next level.
The dark power of the declining Fourth World cannot be destroyed or overpowered. It’s too strong and clear for that, and that is the wrong strategy. The dark can only be transformed when confronted with simplicity and open-heartedness. This is what leads to fusion, a key concept for the World of the Fifth Sun.
Mr. Barrios said the emerging era of the Fifth Sun will call attention to a much-overlooked element. Whereas the four traditional elements of earth, air, fire and water have dominated various epochs in the past, there will be a fifth element to reckon with in the time of the Fifth Sun: ether.
The dictionary defines ether as the rarefied element thought to fill the upper regions of space, the Heavens. Ether is a medium that permeates all space and transmits waves of energy in a wide range of frequencies, from cell phones to human auras. What is "ethereal" is related to the regions beyond earth: the heavens.
Ether — the element of the Fifth Sun — is celestial, and lacking in material substance, but is no less real than wood, wind, flame, stone or flesh.
"Within the context of ether there can be a fusion of the polarities," Mr. Barrios said. "No more darkness or light in the people, but an uplifted fusion. But right now the realm of darkness is not interested in this. They are organized to block it. They seek to unbalance the Earth and its environment so we will be unready for the alignment in 2012. We need to work together for peace, and balance with the other side. We need to take care of the Earth that feeds and shelters us. We need to put our entire mind and heart into pursuing unity and fusion now, to confront the other side and preserve life."
To Be Ready for this Moment in History
Mr. Barrios told his audiences in Santa Fe that we are at a critical moment of world history. "We are disturbed," he said. "We can’t play anymore. Our planet can be renewed or ravaged. Now is the time to awaken and take action."
"Everyone is needed. You are not here for no reason. Everyone who is here now has an important purpose. This is a hard, but a special time. We have the opportunity for growth, but we must be ready for this moment in history."
Mr. Barrios offered a number of suggestions to help people walk in balance through the years ahead. "The prophesized changes are going to happen," he said, "but our attitude and actions determine how harsh or mild they are."
We need to act, to make changes, and to elect people to represent us who understand and who will take political action to respect the earth. Meditation and spiritual practice are good, but also action.
It’s very important to be clear about who you are, and also about your relation to the Earth.
Develop yourself according to your own tradition and the call of your heart. But remember to respect differences, and strive for unity.
Eat wisely. A lot of food is corrupt in either subtle or gross ways. Pay attention to what you are taking into your body.
Learn to preserve food, and to conserve energy.
Learn some good breathing techniques, so you have mastery of your breath.
Be clear. Follow a tradition with great roots. It is not important what tradition, your heart will tell you, but it must have great roots.
We live in a world of energy. An important task at this time is to learn to sense or see the energy of everyone and everything: people, plants, animals. This becomes increasingly important as we draw close to the World of the Fifth Sun, for it is associated with the element ether – the realm where energy lives and weaves.
Go to the sacred places of the earth to pray for peace, and respect for the Earth which gives us our food, clothing, and shelter. We need to reactivate the energy of these sacred places. That is our work.
According to Mr. Barrios’ reading of the Mayan calendar, if war happens in November 2002 or after, then it’s bad, but not catastrophic. But if it happens between April and November 2003, it will be catastrophic. Really bad. It could eventually result in the death of two-thirds of humanity. "So stay active," he said. "If we are active, we can transform the planet. The elders watch to see what happens."
Many Mayan elders and knowledge keepers may be eliminated in the next few years. For the first half of the current Katun (20-year period) the dark side has a lot of power. But that will pass 3 to 4 years from now. The tide can turn. Amazing things are going to happen.
One simple but effective prayer technique is to light a white or baby-blue colored candle. Think a moment in peace. Speak your intention to the flame and send the light of it on to the leaders who have the power to make war or peace.
We Have Work to Do
According to Mr. Barrios this is a crucially important moment for humanity, and for earth. Each person is important. If you have incarnated into this era, you have spiritual work to do balancing the planet.
He said the elders have opened the doors so that other races can come to the Mayan world to receive the tradition. The Maya have long appreciated and respected that there are other colors, other races, and other spiritual systems. "They know," he said, "that the destiny of the Mayan world is related to the destiny of the whole world."
"The greatest wisdom is in simplicity," Mr. Barrios advised before leaving Santa Fe. "Love, respect, tolerance, sharing, gratitude, forgiveness. It’s not complex or elaborate. The real knowledge is free. It’s encoded in your DNA. All you need is within you. Great teachers have said that from the beginning. Find your heart, and you will find your way."
Large libraries, be they university or city, aren’t just good for research and circulation. They also often have amazing special collections centered around singular, often esoteric, topics. These collections are often donated via will by individuals who collected the items over a lifetime of obsession. Many library patrons may not realize it, but often these special collections are surprisingly accessible. The items usually don’t circulate, but libraries often put on exhibits or provide special reading rooms for people who want to take in the collection. There are many, many special collections around the world worthy of discussion, but here are 15 that we found particularly interesting.
15. The George Kelley Paperback and Pulp Fiction Collection (University of Buffalo)
The George Kelley Paperback and Pulp Fiction Collection houses over 25,000 pulp fiction books and magazines. The bulk of the collection comes from Dr. George Kelley, and was further added to by Dr. Thomas Shaw and Margarete Shaw. The collection is open for in house perusing with appointment, and the website for the collection features an in depth look at 185 books in the collection, as you can see here with Isaac Asimov’s A Whiff Of Death.
14. Perry-Castañeda Library Map Collection (University of Texas)
The Perry-Castañeda Library Map Collection is a massive collection of over 250,000 maps housed at the University of Texas. That’s an impressive statistic, but what really makes this collection stand out is the accessibility. The collection is considered “open stack” which means any University of Texas students, faculty, staff and the general public can check out the maps in the collection. You can also view over 11,000 of the maps online here.
13. The Treasure Island Collection (University of Minnesota)
The University of Minnesota has over 450 illustrated editions of Treasure Island, from the original appearance in magazine form to the interpretations by artists such as N.C. Wyeth. A man named Lionel Johnson accumulated the collection over many years of travel to cities like New York, London, and Paris, giving each subsequent purchase a number for his catalog of books. The University of Minnesota includes other unique collections, such as this accumulation of Oz works and this collection of Paul Bunyan paraphernalia.
12. Nurse Romance Novels (University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee)
Talk about esoteric, the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee has a large collection of dime store novels with nurses as central characters. They were donated to UWM by former UWM Art Professor Leslie Bellavance who collected them as part of her research on pop culture depictions of nurses. For awhile UWM was putting a nurse cover on the collection’s website every week, but it looks to have stopped last year. Still worth spending a few minutes browsing the archives however.
11. The Frank W. Tober Collection on Literary Forgery (University of Delaware)
The Tober collection on literary forgery deals, naturally enough, with authors who published (or attempted to publish) works that were not their own. Perhaps the most famous of these was Clifford Irving, who attempted to publish a forged autobiography of Howard Hughes. There are many other interesting pieces in this collection however, including Shakespeare forgers, as well as a great deal of reference material on the subject of literary forgery.
10. John G. White Chess and Checkers Collection (Cleveland Public Library)
The John G. White chess and checkers collection claims to the largest chess library in the world. It includes instruction books, chess problems, Asian and European chess manuscripts, treatises on the game of chess, tournament records, and chess periodicals. It also includes dozens of chess sets that document the historical and artistic development of chess pieces throughout history. The collection altogether has over 30,000 manuscripts, documents, images, etc., many of which are extremely rare.
It’s fitting of course that a college in LA would have a special collection centered around film. UCLA’s collection is the largest of any university in the world, and includes over 220,000 titles and an incredible 27 million feet of newsreel footage. UCLA provides onsite access to its holdings after making a viewing appointment, and the university provides over 200 special public screenings a year.
8. The George Arents Collection on Tobacco (New York Public Library)
The George Arents tobacco collection encompasses over one hundred years of collecting by George Arents. The collection includes almost any kind of work dealing with tobacco, even works with only incidental mentions. There are many hundreds of interesting prints, as well as literature and historical works.
These are a true lost art. Fore-edge paintings are paintings on the external pages of a book, that can only be seen when the edges of the pages are displayed. Much easier to grok by simply looking at the pictures, which are amazing:
The Grateful Dead got their start in California, and UC Santa Cruz has put together an exhaustive catalog of the group’s thirty years of existence. Included in the archive are original documents, media clippings, show files, programs, newsletters, posters, cover art, photographs, tickets, t-shirts, and stickers. The collection also includes stage props and touring materials. Fitting to the group, a special emphasis is placed on fan media, with fan correspondence and fan art also given a place in the archive.
5. Occult Sciences, Demonology and Witchcraft Collection (University of Sydney)
University libraries already have a bit of a reputation as musty places filled with stacks of dusty, vaguely odd, books, and the University of Sydney takes this imagining to it’s logical conclusion, by housing a large collection of occult material. The collection includes works on demonology, witchcraft, exorcism, the Inquisition, as well as grimoires and spellbooks. They even hold a copy of the Necronomicon, the 1973 edition of which only 348 were printed. This is definitely the place to go if you are looking for 17th century original works dealing with witches and exorcism.
4. The Baldwin Library of Historical Children’s Literature (University of Florida)
The University of Florida’s children’s lit collection is massive, with more than 100,000 volumes published in Great Britain and the United States from 1700 to the present. The library includes over 300 copies of Robinson Crusoe, 100 editions of Pilgrim’s Progress, and virtually every children’s literature work imaginable for the past 200 years.
3. The Merril Collection of Science Fiction, Speculation, and Fantasy (Toronto Public Library)
The Merril Collection of science fiction is a non-circulating collection held at the Toronto Public Library that includes more than 68,000 items of science fiction and fantasy, as well as fringe subjects like UFO’s and Atlantean legends. The library also includes a great many early pulp magazines, where science fiction really made it’s way into the collective consciousness. The Merril collection even includes a deep back catalog of role playing games and graphic novels, meaning there’s something here for just about every geek.
Michigan State has one of the biggest comic art collections in the world, with more than 150,000 comic books published in the US since 1935 indexed. They don’t stop with comic books however, they also have an exhaustive comic strip collection, including every known book collection of comic strips, as well as over 500,000 hand clipped daily strips filed away in hand made scrapbooks.
1. Various Collections (Smithsonian Institution Libraries)
Our top spot is taken not just by one collection, but by the most impressive group of special collections in the US, held at the various Smithsonian Institution Libraries. Included are:
The Dibner Science and Technology library, including rare works from Galileo, Kepler, Euclid, Descartes, and Aristotle, among many, many more.
The Cullman Natural History Library, including hundreds of rare early volumes in botany, accounts of voyages from early Renaissance travels, and a Zoology collection that deals with the earliest classification of animals, including work from Aristotle.
The National Design Museum Library, including over 1,000 volumes dealing with the World’s Fair, a pop-up book collection with hundreds of instructional pop-up books for children and adults both, and papers, images, and records from many important and notable American design firms.
The National Air and Space Museum Library which includes 29,000 books, 11,000 bound serials, and a microform collection dealing with the history of aeronautics and astronautics.
The National Museum of American History Library including over 285,600 catalogs detailing the history of manufacturing in America. These catalogs include product catalogs, technical manuals, advertising brochures, price lists and company histories.
Don’t expect me to jump out of an airplane anytime soon, but if I did you can bet I wouldn’t be using a parachute design that had never been successfully tested.
That’s what Olivier Vietti-Teppa did, risking his life on a chute based on a design from a time when man hadn’t even built the first airplane.
The Swiss man used a sketch by Leonardo da Vinci from 1485 to create a pattern and build a parachute. Vietti-Teppa did wear a back-up modern chute but wasn’t forced to put the current design into action after he jumped out of a plane.
Da Vinci’s chute worked just fine and the risk-taker landed safely.
For a video of his flight and landing, click here.
Americans tend to define themselves by their work. How many times have you gone to a party and been asked, "What do you do?" When you lose your job, you can lose not only your cash flow, but also your confidence.
What's one answer to the unemployment blues?
A September 2007 Ode magazine article, Giving Makes Us Happy, describes a 60-year study by Paul Wink of Wellesley College that followed the lives of about 200 people. One of the findings was that many of the people who said they were happy had, "generativity--the ability to give to others."
A March 2008 report in Science magazine, Spending Money on Others Promotes Happiness, found that, "spending more of one's income on others predicted greater happiness both cross-sectionally (in a nationally representative survey study) and longitudinally (in a field study of windfall spending)."
Arthur Brooks' September 2007 article in the Journal of Economics and Finance, Does Giving Makes Us Prosperous?, concludes that giving can make you more prosperous.
According to the article's abstract:
"Nonprofit economists have always assumed that income is a precursor to giving. In contrast, many philosophical and religious teachings have asserted that it is giving that leads to prosperity. This article seeks to test the non-economic hypothesis, using data from the 2000 Social Capital Community Benchmark Survey. It identifies strong evidence that money giving does, in fact, influence income."
There are so many ways to give. Even a small financial gift can make a big difference. For example, according to the U.S. Fund for UNICEF, $15/month can provide, "20 packets of high energy biscuits specially developed for malnourished children."
Below are 10 low-cost ways to give. What would you add to the list?
Volunteer in your community, or virtually.
Listen to someone who needs an ear.
Visit someone who needs company.
Give away stuff (i.e. clothes, books, CDs, DVDs, furniture).
Double a recipe, put half in a tupperware, and share it.
Share the skills you get usually get paid to use for free.
Have you ever lied about reading a book? Well, if so, you’re hardly alone. According to The Guardian, 65% of people polled in a survey admitted to having made such a lie. And what books did they claim to have read? George Orwell’s 1984 ranked #1. Then the order went something like this: Tolstoy’s War and Peace, James Joyce’s Ulysses, and the Bible.
Ralph Nader is the inspiration for, and not the creator of, this digital archive of public-benefit oriented media material. He was not consulted, asked for permission, or addressed as a source of guidance in the creation of this project, and for all we know, his publishing people don't like it. Though we would like it if they did, and sent us lots of archive material to share with the world. Because the story of Ralph's courageous and effective campaigns on behalf of public health, environmental safety, and consumer protection can stir the commitment of people at any stage in life. When we all pull together to change things, things change. That's Ralph's teaching, and this website is built to get it across.
Long, long, long ago
When the Universe was very small,
And there really was no space at all,
Nova Donna was there.
She was so furious.
There was no time,
No time for anything.
She was raging,
She was determined,
There was no one to stop her,
So she let loose.
She let loose of all the boundaries,
All the restrictions,
Every last one,
She let it rip
Right up the crotch,
Split the seams of her restraining garments,
And started growing like Alice.
Her head lifted the roof,
Her arms shot out the windows,
And then all the walls just
Busted to flinders
And went spinning off into space,
Because now there was some,
And she took a big, deep
A stream of galaxies
as dense as thick smoke.
She kicked back on the
Big sofa covered with patterns
like rattlesnake hide
and leopard prints
and tiger stripes and
all those kinds of badass
patterns, and started to chill.
She kept smoking for a long time,
Because now there was some,
Time I mean,
Time to get some things done,
Things she'd been meaning to do
Back when there was so much pressure
And no means of expression.
She didn't make any decisions.
She delegated everything,
And didn't create any minions.
She wrote everyone a blank check.
There was so much to do,
And she needed helpers, not slaves,
Willing warriors, able to brave
The space, because there was so
much space now in this new place.
She couldn't stop smoking.
It turned out there was no limit
To the volume of swirling spirals
And gyrating pulsars and
collapsing vortices she could exhale,
And she started collecting white dwarves
And red giants to keep her company,
And always loved to wear a nova in her hair.
Eventually she thought "WOW"
And then she thought "This is really cool"
And she noticed little things starting
To happen in the cool places out in
the star systems.
She noticed some very cool stuff,
Like water, which she had never seen before,
As rain, and snow,
As lakes and rivers,
As oceans and ice caps,
Turning these cute little planets
all blue and green
The cutest little things she'd ever seen.
And then she saw something
that took her breath away.
Because her vision being very keen,
She could see the snow falling,
Every snowflake, just drifting down
Through the atmosphere like inside
A glass ball when you shake it,
And she loved the way the winds
Swirled all around the planets,
Making those twirly patterns
That are so cute.
But what amazed her most was
the way every snowflake was
unique, custom-made perfect,
And she just laughed with joy,
Because she knew that she was rich.
So she went on a shopping spree,
She started spending wildly,
Everywhere she could find a
cool little planet.
She was everywhere at once,
Checking planetary orbits,
Waiting for gravity to pull them
Watching for stray comets that
might be candidates to deluge
some bare rock with a splash
Then watching them foam up green
As the suns, oh how she loved her suns,
Warmed up the whole shebang,
And then one day they came.
Flowers, oh god the flowers.
She thought the snowflakes were grand,
But the flowers were, they were,
They were just magnificent,
And she said out loud in
a voice like thunder,
"I'm movin' in!"
And she plucked some dawn clouds
Out of the sky for a nightgown and still
almost naked, gathered up
flowers and rolled in the fields,
Getting drunk on perfume
And watching the sun
way up high in the sky, and
the rivers flowed between her legs
and she knew she was not only
rich, she was beautiful.
To forgive is to set a prisoner free and discover the prisoner was you. -- Unknown
Forgiveness is giving up the possibility of a better past. It is the path of redemption where life can move forward from the present moment, where the past fades with memory and we have the internal space to accept the daily imperfections of life with those we love as they are. It is a true forgetting, this forgiveness that frees the victim as deeply as the perpetrator. The relationship is new, starting fresh, without the burden of selective memory. This is not a path that we command; it is one that we serve.
Forgiveness does not come easily and for many it is an unknown emotional story. It requires patience and is rarely a hasty proposition. It cannot be forced but it is a way of thinking that has to be chosen. The most arduous and sometimes insurmountable part of forgiving is that one must fully feel the injury and acknowledge it before anything can be forgiven. This is why so many families never heal. The children don't have the language and emotional maturity to express themselves. The parents, often suffering with their own unresolved childhood pains, have little insight into the damage they have done. As a parent myself now, I often and painfully bear witness to the enormity of the task and even with my best intentions I fall short. Some days there are too many unmet needs and not enough resources and it is impossible to not inflict some harm on the way to raising another human being.
I have been working toward forgiveness, which has been called the final form of love, for much of my adult life with my original family. I knew it was a real and promised place from the forgiveness that had transformed my marriage, but still at every family reunion it has eluded me. Inevitably something in me would crack, destroying the tentative approach we were all making. I haven't had the heart to love the most broken places in me that are so loudly mirrored in these interactions
Each meeting becomes more poignant and urgent as all the participants age and each time together has the potential for being the last. I long for the freedom to open my heart in these moments but mostly am faced with all of my worst and ugliest character traits that are mirrored and louder in the previous generation. As I witness the source of all my most unwanted behaviors, the ones that stick to me regardless of how much or for how long I push away the relationships they came through, I understand finally that all of this brokenness is not about them anymore, my brokenness is mine alone.
Still the crass and unforgiving language, the negative spin on whatever is happening, the fear of lack which precludes any real giving -- these traits that I know intimately bring up a deep revulsion in me. My children see me wince at my father's casual disregard for one of my own children which is at once so blatant and so comfortable for him that he is not even aware of it. They hear the tension in my voice when I try calmly to instruct him on the etiquette of sharing a meal with a family, of something so basic as limiting your portion so there is enough for everyone. They hold their breath wondering if this will be the trigger that leads to the explosion that generally accompanies our rare family reunions. My twelve year old son slides in next to me and gives me his knowing smile at yet another oblivious blunder. My eldest daughter cues me to breathe.
Then there is the glimmer of goodness as my father teaches my son about the stock exchange, a piece of my own education that has stayed with me for decades coming through direct to my kids. He starts recounting stories from his own broken childhood that I remembered fragments of, but now I get the missing details, the names and places that made him who he is. Tenderness catches me off guard around my father; it has rarely been safe to have my heart unprotected near him. I sit, waiting to serve forgiveness, to have the chance to be free of the years of not good enough that I have lived out far from his sight.
There have been no explosions on this reunion and it is thanks to my own family that I can inch closer to the edge of forgiveness. My eldest son, who knows me well and is unaffected by my father's offenses, told me the other day that he thought "it was refreshing to hang around grandpa." In response to my incredulous face he offers, "He has no idea how he affects anyone else, it's funny." I can see his point, but stubbornly remain attached to the small girl that I was at the receiving end of his lack. My son acknowledges how that would have sucked to be the kid and something softens in me.
This is perhaps how forgiveness happens; a few strands of a thick cord tying you to your wrongs are worn away through the courageous process of feeling and acknowledging until you can see that the injury holding you has less to offer you than the freedom of carrying your brokenness tenderly on and away. It is a real beginning for the New Year.
If love is a verb, than forgiveness is the action verb. It is the highest form of love and the single behavior that most distinguishes our human potential. In an ancient tale from the Kaballah, God told some angels in training that the capacity to forgive is the most excellent gift in the human experience, more essential to the continuity of life than the courage to sacrifice your own life for someone else or enduring the pain of giving life. God explained to the angel, "Forgiveness is the only reason my creation continues. Without forgiveness, all would disappear in an instantaneous flash."
Certainly some might suspect this to be true with a quick glance to the Middle East. What would it look like if the rule of power and force was replaced with a mandate for the strength and courage of forgiveness? The comment by Desmond Tutu that "Forgiveness and reconciliation are not just ethereal, spiritual, other-worldly activities. They have to do with the real world. They are realpolitik, because in a very real sense, without forgiveness, there is no future," speaks volumes about the state of things.
And yet we don't have to look that far, for most of us, right in our own homes we struggle with hurts, real and imagined that separate us from the ones we say we love. The smallest of details in sharing a life with someone can easily and often without notice turn into a story line about the person you love. For years, my disregard of my husband's need for order and his disgust at my laissez-faire approach to house cleaning came to mean everything. We weren't talking about behaviors where we dramatically differed, instead each housekeeping incident was a personal insult that with just a small push inflamed to fury about the other weak points in our relationship.
Before Christ was born, Marcus Aurelius said "our anger and annoyance are more detrimental to us than the things themselves which anger or annoy us." The petty arguments of life are the cracks in the foundation of the relationships we are building and left unresolved often fall into the established patterns of retreat and attack which impact both partners' ability to be emotional available and vulnerable. It is not that big a stretch to see how these behaviors adapt into the extremely common, no-win situation of the sexual initiation complex. The questions of who asks and who says no are salt in the wound and all the small disagreements come to mean everything about being both loveable and loving.
And what of all the broken hearts in the Middle East? Anyone you would ask, on any street on either side, would tell you that they want the shooting, the bombing, the killing to end, and yet probably each and every one would also tell you why it must continue... for the cousin, the brother, the lover, the parent or the child who was maimed, killed, forever injured. Every person living in that region has a story to be forgiven and a heart so heavy with grief that the courage to open to the pain and loss is often more than they can bear.
I have only experienced the deep, life-changing balm of forgiveness in my life one time. Right at the moment when my marriage hung on the precipice of its end, we decided instead to forgive. I can't say who initiated it or even exactly how it happened, all I can say of that moment is that I couldn't remember any longer what it was to not be wanted, that all the years of fighting over who we weren't for each other evaporated and what was left was a space to love someone for who they were. My intimate life, very much at the core of my marriage, reinvigorated itself with a curiosity and genuine interest that had always cowered behind our relentless arguments. I was blessed and have since that time tried to understand just how that could have happened and how I can do it again.
I think that forgiveness is an act of the imagination. It embraces the child's heart which is always ready to risk for a better moment and give up the hurt of the last one. Forgiveness is an innocent place where your hurt and pain does not have the final word. Yet there is little wisdom or strength that has more power to transform the world than the courage to bear witness to your pain and let go of it.
Love is an act of endless forgiveness, a tender look which becomes a habit.-- Peter Ustinov
Sexual healing is only possible through forgiveness. The injuries and betrayals that we sustain as we negotiate this most mysterious human interaction of sexuality are as diverse as life itself. How these injuries imbed in our identities defines our sexual relationships, sometimes for life. While this is also true for other emotional injuries we sustain, the pain associated with sexual encounters is deeper by definition and encodes itself on us viscerally. Because sexual education is almost non-existent and sexual topics mostly taboo, most of us have very limited language to express our sexual experiences, good and bad.
The hidden scars and unhealed injuries from our intimate past often don't even show themselves until a new lover has breached a body memory that we didn't even know we had. The transformation of grief that occurs when a hidden injury is met with the light of expression and the warmth of a loving ear is life changing. The courage to expose events and self deprecating thoughts that attach to sexual betrayals of all kinds is both heart wrenching and heart opening. Deeply loving someone through this process can feel almost as hard for the partner. The feelings of powerlessness and empathy that sharing sexual injuries provokes can be almost equally intense. Yet, like all storms, after the raging emotions are vented, there is a calm space of refuge. Something is made new in the process. The emptying leaves room to begin again.
There are times when talking about it provides nothing. The words are all inadequate to the experience and it is actually only through the tenderness of touch that injuries can be felt and released. This is human alchemy, impossible to describe even after you have experienced it and even more impossible to instruct someone else in finding this path.
The ancient quote by Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius,"The sexual embrace can only be compared with music and with prayer," provides a hint into this process. Among its profound mystery is the power of intimacy to heal and often it is enough to move forward with the right intention and an open heart.
These are the most fragile and tender of exchanges that we humans are capable of sharing and so it is easy even with the best of intentions to hold too strongly, to let go too soon, to not feel the other person's response in a timely and sensitive way. To err is human and oh, how human we are. Yet to forgive in this process is divine and the only way to stay together. Feel the pain with someone who loves you, even imperfectly, because that is the only way to feel the love. One of my all time favorite singers and heartthrobs, Bono of U2 sings, "Of science and the human heart, there is no limit. There is no failure here sweetheart, just when you quit...."
We are not trained well in love or sex or forgiveness and they are the trinity of a life well lived, each impossible to understand or live without the others. Here is to a truly new year of release and rebirth.
Image by batega, courtesy of Creative Commons license.
If you’re not familiar with him, Peter Singer is an Australian-born philosopher who teaches at Princeton and who wrote Animal Liberation in 1975, helping to launch the animal rights movement. A practitioner of applied ethics, he has also taken controversial positions on euthanasia. Nowadays, he’s working on less sensitive issues. His latest book is called The Life You Can Save: Acting Now to End World Poverty, and it makes the basic point that most of us could be doing more, with very little effort, to save lives around the world.
It’s a given that we would rush to save a small child about to step into oncoming traffic. That’s a no-brainer, an instinct. But, if we’re told that we can save the lives of children worldwide by giving token amounts of money each month, we often react indifferently and then go out and consume. In this interview heard on San Francisco airwaves this morning, (MP3 - iTunes - Feed), Singer gets into how small sacrifices can make big differences, and why we should make them. And if you’re looking for charities that can help make these differences, Singer provides a helpful list on his web site.
Dr. med. Christine Aschermann Neurologist‐Psychotherapy Founding Member of the Freiburg Appeal Eichenstr. 6 D‐88299 Leutkirch Germany Dr. med. Markus Kern Psychosomatic Medizin Founding Member of the Physicians Appeal Allgäu‐Bodensee‐Oberschwaben Beim Flosserhäusle 8 D‐87439 Kempten Germany To the President of the United States of America Bamberg, February 12, 2009 The White House 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW Washington, DC 20500 Fax: 001 202‐456‐2461 To the Citizens of the United States of America To the Members of the House of Representatives To the Members of the Senate Warning Against Adverse Health Effects from the Operation of Digital Broadcast Television Stations (DVB‐T) Dear President Obama: Dear Members of the House of Representatives: Dear Members of the Senate: Dear Citizens of the United States of America: In the US, digital broadcast television is scheduled to start operating on February 17, 2009. We write to you today because we wish to save you from the significant negative health consequences that have occurred here in Germany. In Germany, analog broadcast television stations have gradually been switching to digital broadcast signals since 2003. This switchover first took place in metropolitan areas. In those areas, however, the RF exposures in public places as well as at home continued to increase at the same time. As a result, the continuing declining health status of children, adolescents, and adults in urban areas could not be attributed to any single cause. On May 20, 2006, two digital broadcast television stations went on the air in the Hessian Rhoen area (Heidelstein, Kreuzberg), which until recently had enjoyed rather low mobile phone radiation exposure levels. Within a radius of more than 20 km, the following symptoms that occurred abruptly were reported: constant headaches, pressure in the head, drowsiness, sleep problems, inability to think clearly, forgetfulness, nervous tensions, irritability, tightness in the chest, rapid heartbeat, shortness of breath, depressive mood, total apathy, loss of empathy, burning skin, inner burning, leg weakness, pain in the limbs, stabbing pain in various organs, weight increase 1Birds had fled the area. Cats had turned phlegmatic and hardly ever went into the garden. One child committed suicide; a second child tried doing it. Over time the same unbearable symptoms showed up in other locations—most recently in Bamberg and Aschaffenburg on November 25, 2008. Physicians accompanied affected people to areas where there was no DVB‐T reception (valleys, behind mountain ranges) and witnessed how these people became symptom‐free only after a short period of time. The respective agencies responsible in Germany were approached for help, but they declined to follow up on the strongly suggestive evidence in the actual locations. The behavior of the government agencies disregards the fundamental rights of affected people guaranteed in the German Constitution. In Germany, DVB‐T (Digital Video Broadcasting Terrestrial) uses Orthogonal Frequency Division Multiplex Modulation. The fundamental principle of this type of modulation works by spreading the information across several thousand carrier frequencies directly adjacent to each other. A channel is 7.8 MHz wide. The amplitude also changes constantly. The WHO, the German Radiation Protection Commission, and the German Federal Ministry of the Environment rely on the Guidelines for Limiting Exposure to Time‐varying Electric, Magnetic, and Electromagnetic Fields (up to 300 GHz), (Health Physics 74 (4): 494‐522; 1998) published by the International Commission on Non‐Ionizing Radiation Protection (ICNIRP). In this document, it says: p. 495: “These guidelines will be periodically revised and updated as advances are made in identifying the adverse health effects of time‐varying electric, magnetic, and electromagnetic fields.” p. 507: “Interpretation of several observed biological effects of AM electromagnetic fields is further complicated by the apparent existence of “windows” of response in both the power density and frequency domains. There are no accepted models that adequately explain this phenomenon, which challenges the traditional concept of a monotonic relationship between the field intensity and the severity of the resulting biological effects.” Why are the German agencies in charge not willing to help identify the adverse health effects? Since immediately, after digital broadcast television stations had started transmitting, adverse health effects have occurred, the review of the Guidelines announced by the ICNIRP is imperative. Obviously, there are response windows contained within the broad frequency bands with their several thousand frequencies that change constantly and whose amplitude also changes constantly. The ICNIRP had already pointed out this possibility. In 1992, Dipl.‐Ing. Rüdiger Matthes, member of ICNIRP and of the Geman Radiation Protection Agency (BfS), emphasized the preliminary status of the exposure limits in a hearing on the health risks of electromagnetic radiation: “…They (electromagnetic exposure levels) are several orders of magnitude higher than the natural background radiation levels of nontechnical sources…In parallel to this development, findings of scientific studies according to which long‐term exposure to such fields may trigger adverse health effects keep accumulating.…In this context, it is also important to recognize that there are large differences in exposure levels within a given population. A small child, for example, absorbs much more RF energy than an adult person…There are several findings on low‐level exposures, which are considered scientifically validated because they have been reproduced often but which are rather difficult to interpret. 2The impact of mostly pulsed or ELF modulated RF radiation on cell metabolism, for example, counts among them. It has been observed that the efflux of certain ions (e.g. calcium) from a cell increases during exposure to such fields. The occurrence of this effect is described almost completely independent of the actual field strength. It can be found at extremely low absorption levels.…With all the currently available scientific findings, there remain some crucial questions unanswered. …There are gaps in the so‐called body of evidence. That means that the biological effects, for example, have only been investigated for individual frequencies. Data (e.g. effect thresholds) on the various biological effects across the entire frequency spectrum are not available. The exposure limits, therefore, are based on an approach that greatly simplifies the very complex reality whose details are unfathomable. It should also be noted that concrete data on possible effects of long‐term exposures are mostly lacking.” Real life teaches us that it was wrong to simplify. In Germany, we see strong evidence of a direct temporal association between the start‐up of terrestrial digital broadcast television and the occurrence of severe health symptoms. Dr.‐Ing. W. Volkrodt, former R&D engineer at Siemens, recognized the danger of electromagnetic fields for humans, animals, and plants. He pinned his hopes on policymakers who would listen to reason when he wrote in 1987: “Future historians will refer to the RF dilemma during the period from around 1975 to 1990 as a short, time‐limited ‘technical incident.’ Owing to the introduction of fiber optic technology, this incident could be remediated quickly and effectively.“ Satellites and cable provide the US population with television services. By contrast, the risk associated with terrestrial digital broadcast television transmitters is unacceptable. We, therefore, ask you, dear Mr. President, who has the wellbeing of his citizens at heart, to stop the scheduled introduction of this new technology in the United States of America and to save the people from the negative health consequences that have occurred in our country. Dr. med. Cornelia Waldmann-SelsamDr. med. Christine AschermannDr. med. Markus Kern
Pupils at primary, secondary and special schools in North Tyneside will learn about emotional balance, empathy and ethics in a two-year project with Durham University.
The announcement followed a proposed revamp of the national primary school curriculum, with the suggestion that schools scrap traditional lessons that focus on one subject in favour of cross-curricular studies.
As part of the happiness lessons, teaching will include philosophy and critical thinking, there will be quiet spaces for reflection and links with other schools abroad will be developed.
Special days and weeks of lessons could be given a happiness theme, and music and arts lessons will tap into children's creativity.
The ideas will be trialled at nine secondary schools and 21 primary schools, including two special schools, which will work together to test and evaluate new methods of developing an understanding of happiness.
North Tyneside Council said teaching will also look at topics as diverse as children's personalities and how they see themselves, their heritage and identity, values, giving, role models, spirituality and reasoning.
Norma Redfearn, Cabinet member for Children, Young People and Learning, said: "Education is its most successful when it enables young people to lead fulfilling lives, and be the best they can be.
"We aim to develop emotional balance, empathy and ethics in our young people so they can flourish with an understanding of others, a commitment to others, their community, society and the world at large and a sense of self.
"It's all about taking a more holistic approach to child development, and sits alongside our commitment to developing first class teaching and building world class learning environments, to ensure the very best opportunities for our children and young people."
[I have to laugh when people minimize Seth/Jane Roberts books, especially when they so obviously didn't grasp a word written...here's someone (and the commenters at the link), who has recently come across the work]The first time I heard about Seth was while watching a DVD called, “Introducing Abraham: The Secret Behind ‘The Secret,’ featuring Esther and Jerry Hicks. In case you have not heard of them, Esther Hicks speaks for Abraham, which is a group of collective souls channeled through Esther (www.abraham-hicks.com), and Jerry is her husband. The two travel around the world giving seminars and allowing people to speak directly to Abraham, whose teachings are about the Law of Attraction.
In this particular DVD, Jerry explains he has had an interest in spirituality and metaphysical topics for years, having read the book “Seth Speaks: The Eternal Validity of the Soul,” written by an entity similar to Abraham called Seth, and channeled through author Jane Roberts in the 1970s. It is now published by New World Library
Months later -- in a very syncronistic way -- I had gone to Barnes and Noble in search of a particular biography, and wandered through the new age section as I usually do. Scanning the shelves, "Seth Speaks" jumped out at me. I remembered hearing Jerry speak about it on the DVD, and when I flipped it over and saw testimonials on the back cover from well-known authors and spiritual teachers like Marianne Williamson, Deepak Chopra and Louise Hay, I immediately purchased it. I now agree with all the testimonials -- this book is essential for anyone on a spiritual journey.
If you are a fan of Abraham and the work of Esther and Jerry Hicks, this book, and other Seth books, are must reads. Seth explains how thought forms matter, the nature of sleep and dreams, reincarnation and more.
There are too many enlightening moments in “Seth Speaks” to list here, but one I want to share (which caused me to turn down the page corner so I wouldn’t forget it) is where Seth is speaking about how thoughts create reality, and how each human being is a piece of Source, God or as Seth refers to it, "All That Is." He explains that by looking at our outer reality, we can discover what is going on inside ourselves. When something goes wrong, such as illness or suffering, it's purpose is to awaken us to realize there is something going wrong inside causing it.
He says in the book, “Through observing his creations, [mankind] learns how to use these abilities better. He checks on his inner progress by seeing the physical materialization of his work. The work, the reality, is still a creative achievement, although it may portray tragedy or unspeakable terror in your terms at any given time … Illness and suffering are the results of misdirection of creative energy. They are a part of the creative force, however. They do not come from a different source than, say, health and vitality. Suffering is not good for the soul, unless it teaches you how to stop suffering. That is its purpose.”
As I said, this is only one of the many insights found in the book! And to think, this book was first published in the 1970s! For a complete listing or everything available from the Seth series go to www.sethbooks.com, and to listen to audio clips of Seth and get a free CD of the Introduction to Seth, go to www.sethlearningcenter.org.
Has anyone else read or heard about the Seth books? Which ones are your favorite? Let us know what you think!
I went to a cat cafe in Osaka yesterday. Although, describing it as a "cafe" is somewhat misleading. It's more of a cat brothel than a cat cafe.
It's hidden inside a nondescript office building. An elevator discreetly whisks you up to the third floor. The elevator opens into a small hallway where you must remove your shoes and put on a pair of slippers.
You then open a sliding door to enter the cafe but before you can go any further, you are instructed to hold out your hands, palms up, while an employee sprays them with disinfectant.
You are then directed to the counter to pay in advance. Six hundred yen (about $5) gets you all the cats you can stroke for an hour. A few hundred yen extra gets you a drink to quench your thirst after all of the heavy petting is over.
After you have removed your shoes, sterilized your hands and paid your money, it's time to get down on your knees and play with the cat of your choice.
The cafe is called Neko no Jikan 猫の時間 (or "Cat Time" in English). The 20 cats that work here have free range of the place, sitting and sleeping wherever they like.
The cafe consists of two large rooms. There is the cafe area, which is exactly what it sounds like. There are couches and small tables where you can sip a cup of coffee while a cat sleeps on your lap or at your feet. It is a cozy space with soft lighting and classical music playing quietly in the background.
The other room, attached to the cafe, is best described as a cat playroom. No drinks are allowed in this room. You can play with the cats or just sit on one of the many couches and watch all of the four-legged loving go down.
The cafe was busy but not crowded. The vast majority of customers were women. There were a few men but they had all come on the arms of their girlfriends. The most enthusiastic customer was a middle-aged man with a 1950s rock-and-roll pompadour. He made a point of talking to all of the cats, clucking and cooing over their every move.
"Oh look at you! You sure like to sleep don't you? Oh, yes you do. Yes you do. You cute little sleeper you."
(I am translating this from Japanese so that might not be exactly what he said but the meaning behind his words was clear.)
Of course, cats being cats, it was somewhat difficult to seduce them into spending time with you. They would sit in your lap for about a minute before squirming out of your embrace.
If you wanted a cat to play with you, you were better off buying some tuna from the cafe in order to lure them in. These ladies bought some tuna and they were instantly the most popular people in the room.
The woman with the pink cell phone on her lap could tell I was feeling a bit left out so she handed me a piece of her tuna. As soon as I started waving the tuna around, I had no shortage of cats wanting to sit on my lap. But once the tuna was gone, so were they.
Everyone was pouring out love to these cats but the cats weren't giving much back. Cats do not love stupidly and blindly like dogs. Cats can be affectionate and playful but they are also independent and solitary (or stubborn and uncooperative, depending on your viewpoint). I was happy enough just to be near them.
I had never heard of cat cafes before coming to Japan and I'm surprised the trend hasn't caught on in the rest of the world. Cat cafes are a great idea, especially for people whose landlords won't allow pets in their buildings. Or for people who can't have a cat because they live with an allergic partner.
It's a brilliant concept. If I can find a cat cafe in Kyoto, I'm going to go at least once a month.
If you are in the Osaka area and want to visit Neko no Jikan, you can find a map here. There is no English spoken and no English menus so be sure to learn some basic Japanese before you go. Of course, that's just to communicate with the staff. You only need to speak the language of love with the cats.
AMY GOODMAN: The Obama administration officials appeared before Congress Tuesday seeking to reassure lawmakers about the economy. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner and Peter Orszag, the director of the Office of Management and Budget, testified before separate House committees that the President’s massive spending bill would benefit working Americans. Meanwhile, Federal Reserve Chair Ben Bernanke testified before the Senate Budget Committee about the potential impacts of stimulus.
While the Obama administration is looking to turn around the economy with its stimulus plan and budget proposal, what about the issue of financial regulation, what some people point to as the fundamental cause of the crisis? A new report points to twelve deregulatory steps that led to the financial meltdown. It also does an analysis of the amount of money Wall Street poured into Washington in campaign contributions and lobbying over the last decade. Their answer? A staggering $5.1 billion over the past decade.
Rob Weissman is the author of the report. It’s called “Sold Out: How Wall Street and Washington Betrayed America.” He is director of Essential Action, editor of the Multinational Monitor, joining us from Washington, D.C.
Good morning, Rob Weissman. Talk about what you think were the steps that brought us here.
ROBERT WEISSMAN: Well, we saw over the last decade and really the last three decades, with both parties in power in Congress and the executive branch, this long series of deregulatory moves. And as you go step-by-step through them, you see that those are the things that really paved the way for the current financial collapse.
Perhaps the signature move was the 1999 repeal of the Glass-Steagall Act, which had prevented co-ownership of commercial banks and securities firms, investment banks. That was precipitated by and directly authorized the creation of Citigroup, which is now sucking so much public taxpayer money and has really been at the cutting edge of driving the financial crisis we’re now in.
You can go forward another year and see that Congress, with the Clinton administration authorization, prohibited the executive branch agencies from regulating financial derivatives, the instruments that no one can really understand or get a handle on but which have multiplied the problem from the housing crash many-fold over. So we now have $600 trillion in financial derivatives being traded around the world, with no one having a handle on what they are, who owes whom, and all of this requiring us to pour tens of billions of more dollars more every day, it seems, into AIG.
You can step forward and look at the failure to enforce rules against predatory lending, beginning with the Clinton administration, but really accelerating in a really terrifying way with the Bush administration, so that there were about three actions taken by federal regulators in the peak period of predatory lending—three—against some of the commercial lenders and mortgage brokers who were undertaking some of the most abusive predatory lending activities. And on and on it goes.
And there was, of course, over the last three decades a real surge in deregulatory ideology. And perhaps the people who were putting this stuff forward believed in it. But it also makes sense to think that, maybe a little bit, they were influenced by the staggering amounts of money that the financial sector was pouring into Washington, as you said, more than $5 billion in campaign contributions and lobbying money. And, you know, they got a good return on investment, and it was good for them while it lasted. It’s turned out to be quite a disaster for them but, more importantly, for the rest of the country and the world.http://www.democracynow.org/2009/3/4/sold_out_new_report_follows_lobbying
JEREMY SCAHILL: Well, see, one of the issues I have here is, going back to this issue of what if the wrong people win an election, the Iraqi people have a right to choose leaders that are hostile to the United States, that are hostile to US corporate aims in the Middle East, more broadly, and in Iraq, specifically. And I think that US history has shown that when the wrong people win elections, the US will intervene militarily, overtly, covertly, behind-the-scenes, in front of the world public. And I think that the fact that Thomas Ricks, one of the most well-informed journalists covering this war, has indicated that it’s very likely that a leader will emerge in Iraq that is hostile to US interests, that is close to Tehran and is not going to be someone that’s perceived by the United States to be a friend—so the fact is that the Maliki government could be substantially weakened by indigenous forces within Iraq, and the Obama administration could step in and say, “We’re going to defend this flailing regime.”
What I found very disturbing about Obama’s speech, among other things, was the fact that he officially co-signed Bush’s major lies on Iraq. When he talked about the mission of US troops in Iraq, he said, “I want to be very clear: We sent our troops to Iraq to do away with Saddam Hussein’s regime, and you got the job done.” I’m sorry, Mr. Obama, the troops were sent to Iraq on the lie of weapons of mass destruction. And he co-signed that Bush administration lie.
He also said, “We will leave the Iraqi people with a hard-earned opportunity to live a better life. That is your achievement,” he said to the US troops. “That is the prospect that you have made possible.” Again, no, not a better life. We’re talking about upwards of a million Iraqis that have been killed, their lives decimated, 20 percent of the country either in need of desperate medical attention, internally displaced, another 20 percent living outside of the country. And this has been an utter mess. And he talks about a better future. Iraq has never been in more shambles than it has been over the course of the US military occupation.*
AMY GOODMAN: Jeremy Scahill, I wanted to ask about the response of the Democratic leaders to President Obama’s speech, like Nancy Pelosi, like Harry Reid.
JEREMY SCAHILL: Right. Well, first of all, yeah, you look at Obama’s top allies, it’s people like John McCain, it’s people like Mitch McConnell, who praised Obama for implementing the Bush administration’s Iraq strategy at the end. And, I mean, some of this is partisan politics. And, please, the Republicans have no credibility on this. I mean, if we can be critical of Barack Obama, I mean, the Republicans are just merciless criminals when it comes to, you know, US policy in Iraq and toward the world, more broadly.
But the fact that Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer all acted like astonished that there’s going to be 35,000 to 50,000 troops in a residual capacity in Iraq and were criticizing this, I mean, this is a classic example of what’s wrong with the Democratic Party when it comes to foreign policy and what’s been wrong with this party for a long time. And that is that when it actually mattered, when Pelosi or Reid could have said to candidate Obama, “Back off that residual force,” as many activists were calling for, they were deafeningly silent. We were at the Democratic convention, Amy, walking around, trying to find anyone to criticize that aspect of the Obama policy, and not even antiwar Democrats, who were firmly against the war from the beginning, would dissent from the policy positions of the dear leader. This is cult activity, when you refuse to go after someone to try to criticize their policies when it matters and then later act like you’ve been hoodwinked. They knew exactly what was going on.
Submitted by Amanda Lang
Today the citizens of Shapleigh, Maine voted at a special town meeting to pass a groundbreaking Rights-Based Ordinance. This revolutionary ordinance give its citizens the right to local self-governance and gives rights to ecosystems but denies the rights of person hood to corporations. This ordinance allows the citizens to protect their groundwater resources, putting it in a common trust to be used for its residents.
Love is not all: it is not meat nor drink
Nor slumber nor a roof against the rain;
Nor yet a floating spar to men that sink
And rise and sink and rise and sink again;
Love can not fill the thickened lung with breath,
Nor clean the blood, nor set the fractured bone;
Yet many a man is making friends with death
Even as I speak, for lack of love alone.
It well may be that in a difficult hour,
Pinned down by pain and moaning for release,
Or nagged by want past resolution's power,
I might be driven to sell your love for peace,
Or trade the memory of this night for food.
It well may be. I do not think I would.
Alfred Hitchcock directed 53 major films throughout his career, spanning six decades to become one of the most well-known and popular filmmakers of all time. He was a pioneer of many filmmaking techniques in the psychological thriller and suspense genres, and left behind a legacy that today's movie makers often pull from and look to for inspiration. Here's a closer look back at five classic Alfred Hitchcock films - so close, in fact, you can watch them all right here!
Click here to see all 5 full length movies!
You can now find some new writings of the Beat author William S. Burroughs on eBay. What’s up for bid here is not a long lost novel, or an early draft of Naked Lunch. Nope, it’s simply Burroughs’ shopping list, a little note reminding him to pick up some cans of Coke, cat food, vodka, Triscuits, and other banal things. Buy it here for a cool $495. All credit on this one goes to BoingBoing, which, by the way, is also featuring today a free download of Sean Williams’ Darwinian religion novel Crooked Letter.
A quick PS: one of our readers claims this is a photo of Burroughs shopping. This has not been verified, but if you’re curious what it might have looked like to put the shopping list in action, here it goes. :)
You cannot control what happens to you, but you can control your attitude toward what happens to you, and in that, you will be mastering change rather than allowing it to master you.- Brian Tracy~Circumstances don't make the man, they reveal him.- James Allen~Consult your pineal gland.- Discordian Saying
"The American system is the most ingenious system of control in world history. With a country so rich in natural resources, talent, and labor power the system can afford to distribute just enough to just enough people to limit discontent to a troublesome minority. It is a country so powerful, so big, so pleasing to so many of its citizens that it can afford to give freedom of dissent to the small number who are not pleased. How wise to turn the fear and anger of the majority toward a class of criminals bred - by economic inequity - faster than they can be put away, deflecting attention from the huge thefts of national resources carried out within the law by men in executive offices."
President Obama has committed 17,000 more troops to Afghanistan. This decision raises serious questions about troops, costs, overall mission, and exit strategy. Historically, it has been Congress' duty to ask questions in the form of oversight hearings that challenge policymakers, examine military spending, and educate the public. After witnessing the absence of oversight regarding the Iraq war, we must insist Congress hold hearings on Afghanistan. Watch the first part from our full-length documentary that will serve as a driving force to help make oversight hearings a reality. Sign the petition urging oversight and tell us what questions you would ask.
Dear (Sen. John F. Kerry, Chairman of Foreign Relations Committee, and Rep. Howard Berman, Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee), It is imperative that we hold oversight hearings on the Afghanistan conflict. Before committing more troops and taxpayer dollars to Afghanistan, we must first have a national conversation to address the many questions surrounding this war. At a time when our country faces a credibility crisis around the world, record casualties in Afghanistan, and an economic meltdown at home, oversight hearings are needed now more than ever. The government must examine how foreign policy is being executed in Afghanistan, while helping to alleviate our financial strains. We urge the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and the House Foreign Affairs Committee to hold oversight hearings in order to rethink our policy toward Afghanistan and uphold the nation's system of checks and balances.