Welcome to the Virgo Solar Festival and the Pisces Full Moon, September 4, 2009 edition of the SatyaCenter newsletter. Warm greetings from your Editor, Curtis Lang and your co-editor, Jane Sherry.
This Friday, September 4, the sun is at 12˚15’ Virgo and the moon is full at 12˚15’ Pisces, at 9:03 am Pacific Daylight Time, or 12:03 pm Eastern Daylight Time.
Here in the HudsonValley, the turning of the season from the wettest, coldest summer on record to a nice, balmy, sunny fall is most welcome, but unfortunately far too late for the tomatoes in our garden, which are soggy and underdeveloped. We had great beans and a super long harvest of peas, though, and our collards and kale are just fine, so we count our blessings.
Farmers in our area have been hit with tomato blight, potato blight, soggy fields, vegetables that rotted in the field and fruit that rotted on the trees, a series of bug epidemics so severe I couldn’t go into the yard without bug spray, floods that submerged entire towns, high winds that flattened corn fields, and a generally miserable growing season.
In New York city, market turmoil returned on September 1, as the benevolent Neptune-Jupiter-Chiron trine wanes in influence, and the next Uranus-Saturn opposition in the series that began with the financial meltdown a year ago waxes and approaches perfection in mid-September.
I sold my Apple stock yesterday, into the teeth of the market downturn, and managed to get back essentially what I had invested in 2007, before the market collapse. I am expecting a downturn in markets for the near-term, and so I am OK with just breaking even.
In Washington, health care reform is stalled, the war machine is sucking up more money than ever before, more troops are slated to go to Afghanistan, and we are still mired in Iraq. After a $14 trillion bailout meaningful financial reform that would prevent a recurrence of the excesses of the bankers and Wall Street traders that caused our financial collapse is not even on the radar screen.
Throughout the country, an ugly atmosphere of hatred, bigotry and confrontation suffuses Town Hall meetings on health care reform where armed and angry know-nothing right-wing extremists challenge and threaten anyone who disagrees with them. The Secret Service reports that the number of threats against the President has risen by 400%, and the talk on talk radio and cable TV has grown increasingly more shrill by the day.
Yet all this is merely the prequel to the global soap opera about to unfold, according to predictions from an array of both Western and Vedic astrologers Jane and I have consulted recently.
The Cosmic Weather Forecast for the month of September – and beyond -- is extremely difficult, even harsh, and will be challenging for each and every one of us.
We will find many obstacles in our paths, we will be prone to flare-ups in our individual relationships and extreme antagonisms may surface between groups of people around the world.
This Full Moon is surrounded by a multitude of malefic aspects, more than the astrologers we know have seen in decades. Mercury is set to go retrograde on September 7 until late September 29, and is square to both Mars and Pluto.
As we all know, Mercury retrograde can interfere with all communications, communications devices and systems and with travel, contracts and business affairs.
In addition, these squares to Mercury can interfere with mental equilibrium, and lead to poor judgment. People may find themselves being pressured to make snap decisions based upon emotional flare-ups and confrontations with individuals in the grip of panic, fear and anger, and there could be a feeling that these decisions cannot be postponed.
Be calm, and put your inner Watcher on 24/7 alert for sudden verbal outbursts, because you may find yourself saying hurtful things you will immediately regret.
By September 14, 8 of the 10 major planets are engaged in conflicts in some way. The third peak of the 2 year long Saturn-Uranus opposition will be perfecting, and Venus and Neptune will be simultaneously at war.
The last big Saturn-Uranus opposition was in 1965-67, when America was in turmoil, and the outlook both murky and frightening.
At that time revolutionary, youthful and liberal baby boomers (Uranus) rebelled against a conformist status quo (Saturn), demanding peace, environmentalism, women’s rights, civil rights, sexual freedom, and rock and roll. These days, aging, much more conservative baby boomers (Saturn), who have all but abandoned their liberal heritage, are cast as the defenders of the embattled status quo, and revolutionary right-wing fascist extremists (Uranus) are demanding eternal holy war and rule by fundamentalist Christian principles, and these retrograde revolutionaries pledge allegiance to a form of corporate fascism supported by America’s political and financial elites (another face of Saturn).
Those marginalized progressive forces (another face of Uranus) favoring peace, environmentalism, a green economy, tolerance among religions and races, and social controls on predatory financial and corporate oligopolies are opposed by the “liberal” status quo, the corporate fascist elite, and by the reactionary revolutionaries of the extreme rightwing.
In these Saturn-Uranus wars, Uranus always wins, so the outlook for America is bleak indeed unless the progressive Uranians can organize and take to the streets with as much fervor as their reactionary rightwing counterparts.
In our individual lives, we should also be on the alert for aggressive and duplicitous individuals and groups attempting to take advantage of us, intimidate us, and force us into compromises that disadvantage and disempower us. In such cases, try negotiation and if this does not work, try disengagement. If this is impossible, then it is vitally important to stand up for yourself and take a strong position in defense of your own interests. Only in this way can we expect to be treated with respect, to attain your goals, and to maintain our own boundaries with dignity.
The financial outlook for our society is equally murky and frightening. The green shoots of economic recovery may soon appear more like poisoned hallucinogenic weeds in the mass consciousness, with predictable results for markets and individual economic behavior.
The first signs of this disillusionment with the “recovery” are evident to all those with eyes to see. Prudent investors have noticed that financial stocks are totally overvalued. Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, big banks and AIG are all totally worthless despite recent big run-ups in share prices. There is a collapse in the commercial real estate market, and retail sales in the US during the back-to-school rush season were down both week over week and year over year, indicating that the abysmal unemployment figures continue to be an accurate gauge of the economic crisis, which is still far from running its full course.
The Sabian symbol for this Solar Festival occurring at 13˚ Virgo (we round up when calculating Sabian symbols) is “A powerful statesman overcomes a state of political hysteria.”
Although it is tempting to see a picture of President Obama in this symbol, overcoming opposition to his plans for health care reform and a just and equitable society, I think I see a deeper interpretation of this glyph in the night sky. I think it’s time for each and every one of us to become a powerful statesman in our own neighborhood, advocating sane and reasonable solutions to our common problems on a local and a global level. I think it’s time for each one of us to overcome our own rising state of internal hysteria in the face of extremely threatening political, social, economic, and environmental dangers. I think it’s time we each take control of our own warring internal impulses and place ourselves at the service of a Higher Power, and in the service of those most in need among us.
This is the least we can do, as spiritual beings, as human beings. To help calm your nerves, unify your being and maintain your equilibrium say the following prayer, given me by Shri Rancchod Das Ji Maharaj, a Saint who fed tens of thousands during droughts and floods in India in the 1960s and 70s, during the last Saturn-Uranus opposition: “I neither desire nor pray for salvation or liberation. I do not want transmigration to a form benefiting from affluence. Nor do I want to achieve spiritual accomplishments that might liberate me from the cycle of reincarnation. I want the cessation of sorrow for all living creatures. I pray that everyone may be happy, everyone may be healthy, everyone may have noble vision, and none may have to endure afflictions. This is the path of beneficence for me. Let me not be an oppressor to anyone. Grant that I may be humble and soft-spoken and grant that I may be of service to the poor and the needy as long as there is blood in my body.”
This is a superb example of the spiritual statesman (Higher Self) taking control of a hysterical ego and negative emotions and uprooting seeds of negative karma in a turbulent world. Let us follow Poojayshri’s example to the best of our limited abilities, and pray to him for guidance.
The Sabian symbol for this Full Moon at 13˚ Pisces is “An ancient sword, used in many battles, is displayed in a museum.” This symbol indicates that in this time of unprecedented turmoil and rough Cosmic Weather we are all challenged to reconnect with the Ancient Wisdom teachings, the ancient sword of wisdom used to win many spiritual battles in previous aeons.
We as a culture have consigned the ancient wisdom teachings to a museum of the mind. We see these priceless spiritual gems as mere myths and folktales, and we revere them as historical and anthropological artifacts of less developed civilizations.
Now is the time to enter the museum of the mind and to seize the ancient sword in our own hands, using it to dispel the fog of doubt, uncertainty and fear that surrounds us, using it to subdue the negative emotions and thoughts that beset us, using it to quell the flood of desires that surge through us, and using it to restore and maintain equilibrium in our relations with others.
On the theory that we all need all the help we can get this month, here are three ancient meditational swords for you to use in your spiritual struggles during this difficult season of the soul. The first is a meditation to dispel, anger, the second to dispel worry and the third to promote compassion and love.
Do not anger
Release all anger, for anger is the great destroyer. Anger blocks us from love, and it is our great love for all nature, and for all our fellow human beings, in the form of compassionate action, that manifests as Universal Life Force Energy and heals all ills. Anger creates a massive leak of energy from our vital systems that will cause us to commit rash actions, leading to regret and anguish, and ultimately bring us to self-destruction.
If anger arises in you, do not attempt to suppress the emotion, because this will only strengthen the unwanted energy, which will then resurface later. Instead, step back from this anger, and remind yourself that anger is not an element of your true nature. Remind yourself that anger is transitory. Make an effort to just be a witness to the anger. This will enable you to let go of the anger, to allow it to pass like storm clouds passing in front of the sun of your inner awareness.
The antidote to anger is loving compassion. If we can recall moments when we shared love, moments when we felt compassion for another human being, this love and compassion will fill our hearts and minds and there will be no room for anger in us.
Visualize a moment when you stared into your lover’s, or mother’s or father’s or brother’s or sister’s eyes, and saw the great love they share with you. Relax your body and allow this love to fill your being once again.
The present Dalai Lama offers precious wisdom teachings on anger, love and compassion.
“If the love within your mind is lost and you see other beings as enemies, then no matter how much knowledge or education or material comfort you have, only suffering and confusion will ensue.
“We humans have existed in our present form for about a hundred thousand years. I believe that if during this time the human mind had been primarily controlled by anger and hatred, our overall population would have decreased. But today, despite all our wars, we find that the human population is greater than ever. This clearly indicates to me that love and compassion predominate in the world. And this is why unpleasant events are ‘news’; compassionate activities are so much a part of daily life that they are taken for granted and, therefore, largely ignored.
“If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion.
“Love and compassion are necessities, not luxuries. Without them humanity cannot survive.
“True compassion is not just an emotional response but a firm commitment founded on reason.
“Only the development of compassion and understanding for others can bring us the tranquility and happiness we all seek.
“I have found that the greatest degree of inner tranquility comes from the development of love and compassion. The more we care for the happiness of others, the greater is our own sense of well-being. Cultivating a close, warm-hearted feeling for others automatically puts the mind at ease. It is the ultimate source of success in life.”
Do not worry and be filled with gratitude
Release all worry, for worry is another great energy leak. Worry activates unceasing mental chatter, filling the mind with unhelpful speculations which, like ghosts, feed on our vital life force energy, depleting us and destroying our will. When we worry we cannot feel our love, we cannot concentrate our compassion, and we cannot perform compassionate acts of service to those in need.
If worry arises in you, do not attempt to suppress the emotion, because this will only strengthen the unwanted energy, which will then resurface later. Instead, step back from this worry, and remind yourself that worry is not an element of your true nature. Remind yourself that worry is transitory. Make an effort to just be a witness to the worry. This will enable you to let go of the worry, to allow it to pass like storm clouds passing in front of the sun of your inner awareness.
The antidote to worry is gratitude. When we are involved in deep feelings of gratitude for our many blessings, when we are filled with gratitude for our life, and for the present moment, there is no place in our hearts and minds for worry to reside.
Increase your feelings of gratitude by visualizing all the many beings that have worked ceaselessly through the years for many centuries to learn and transmit the spiritual practices that empower your spiritual practice, and whose many sacrifices have smoothed your path, making possible your accelerated spiritual evolution.
Visualize the many hard-working individuals who have contributed to bringing you to this moment in your life. The efforts of your parents, your friends, those who grow your food, those who build your house and your car. Visualize the many blessings the natural world bestows upon you, including sunshine, rain and wind, trees and animal companions. Feel their warmth and how they vitalize your body, your mind and your spirit. Let this warmth and vitality fill your being, and know that this too is unconditional love, this too is Universal Life Force energy, this too is your birthright.
Be compassionate to yourself and others
Open your heart, for this is the keystone of all true awakening. When we meditate upon the suffering of our parents, our family, our friends, our loved ones, our co-workers, and on the suffering of the millions in the world who have not the food or shelter or medicine or love they need to survive and thrive in the world, our natural response is to weep with sorrow, to sincerely desire that this suffering should end. The recognition of the universality of human suffering is the beginning of compassion.
Here is a visualization you can do to stimulate the feeling of compassion and to send healing energy to suffering humanity.
Tune into the Source of Universal Life Force energy. Turn on your personal connection to Universal Life Force energy. Feel Universal Life Force Energy flowing from your hands.
Visualize the Source of Universal Life Force Energy as a great ball of fire, a Celestial Sun, hovering above your head. Now, see the Universal Life Force Energy streaming down from this Divine Source into your own being. Visualize this energy pouring into your crown chakra. Feel the warmth of the Celestial Sun on your head, and feel the warmth spread down across your forehead, your cheeks and into your neck and shoulders, streaming into your arms and down into your hands, until you can feel the energy tingling in your fingertips.
Allow this warm, nurturing energy to fill your entire body, as if your body were an empty vessel of glass. With your mind’s eye you can see the energy filling your body, and you can feel the warmth streaming down through your chest and stomach, filling your heart with warmth, light and love, warming and healing every organ along the way.
You feel the warmth and see the energy streaming into your hips, and down into your legs, pouring all the way into your feet, until you feel the warm brightness reach all the way into your toes.
Now visualize a person you know – perhaps the person you talked to on the telephone most recently, or whom you saw most recently at work or at home.
Feel the limitless Universal Life Force Energy which has filled your being begin to overflow your heart and stream forth from your hands.
Visualize a golden stream of Universal Life Force Energy passing from your hands and your heart to the place where your reality intersects with this person. See that golden light connecting with that intersection, which is the place where your relationship resides, and fill that intersection between you with warm, healing energy.
Now visualize your best friend. Feel the limitless Universal Life Force Energy which has filled your being begin to overflow your heart and stream forth from your hands.
Visualize a golden stream of Reiki energy passing from your hands and your heart to your best friend. See that golden light connecting to the place where your reality intersects with this close friend. See that golden light connecting with that intersection, which is the place where your relationship resides, and fill that intersection between you with warm, healing energy.
Now visualize your family and friends, gathered in a group around you. Feel the limitless Universal Life Force Energy which has filled your being begin to overflow your heart and stream forth from your hands.
Visualize a golden stream of Universal Life Force Energy passing from your hands and your heart to the place where your reality intersects with these friends and loved ones. See that golden light connecting with that intersection, which is the place where your relationship resides, and fill that intersection between you with warm, healing energy.
Now visualize an individual with whom you have been having difficulties. Someone who rubs you the wrong way, someone with whom you seem to have difficulty communicating, someone who seems to see the world totally differently from the way you see the world. Perhaps this is someone with whom you have quarrels, or even outright fights.
Imagine that this person is sitting next to you. Now imagine that this person is interacting with your favorite Spiritual Guide or teacher. You notice that your teacher can relate to them without conflict. Imagine that this difficult person is relating to their own friends and loved ones. Notice that they have no difficulty relating to these individuals. This is a clue to you that the difficulty in relating does not lie in the other, difficult individual, but rather in your own being. Allow that realization to sink into your mind, and rest with this new knowing.
Feel the limitless Universal Life Force Energy which has filled your being begin to overflow your heart and stream forth from your hands.
Now visualize a golden stream of Universal Life Force Energy passing from your hands and your heart to the place where your reality intersects with this difficult person. See that golden light connecting with that intersection, which is the place where your relationship resides, and fill that intersection between you with warm, healing energy.
Now visualize the entire world, filled with individuals who are all suffering from their own difficulties, their own wounds, their own fears, anger, unfulfilled desires, jealousy, impatience, and alienation. Imagine the three billion people who do not have enough to eat, or a place to live today.
Feel the limitless Universal Life Force Energy which has filled your being begin to overflow your heart and stream forth from your hands and go out to those who are suffering.
Visualize Universal Life Force Energy streaming forth from the Radiant Sun above your head. See this luminous, warm, healing energy stream forth, connecting with all those who suffer – with all of humanity. Allow this Universal Life Force Energy to pour forth from your heart, your hands and your mind into the world around you, enfolding those who are suffering in a stream of healing light.
Hold this image as long as you feel comfortable and simply feel the energy exchange as it continues.
If you would like further support with performing a creative visualization that will fill you with Universal Life Force energy and relax body, mind and soul, Jane and I have created a CD that combines relaxing music, soothing sounds of nature and a guided meditation. It’s called “Streaming Springs, Streaming Light”, and it’s available now on our website. Just click here.
We wish you all the grace and guidance you may need to navigate through September’s troubled celestial waters, to fulfill your material needs, and to achieve your loftiest spiritual goals. Blessed be.
Top Satya Center Stories of the Week
Happy Birthday, Virgo!In his new article, Esoteric Astrologer Malvin Artley provides an in-depth look at the highest spiritual aspects of this much-misunderstood sign as well as his own incomparable view of the deep spiritual meaning of this month’s “Full Moon in Pisces and Virgo Solar Festival “.
“Virgo is said to be the guardian of the Light of Wisdom,” explains Malvin. The sign stands for the ‘womb of time’ and symbolizes “...depths, darkness, quiet and warmth…wherein secrets are discovered and eventually brought to ‘light’.”
“Hence, there is a strong emphasis with Virgo upon gestation – but gestation of what? It is said Virgo gives care and nurturing to the Christ-child (the wisdom-being or indwelling Soul) while the path to full enlightenment or realization is trod. What exactly does that mean, though?”Read Malvin’s article to find out the answer!
Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee offers a penetrating look at the Sufi way of wisdom in a beautiful and soulful article entitled “The Mystical Journey: Chambers of the Heart”.
“The Sufi path is a journey home, from the outer world of illusions to the inner reality that belongs within the heart,” says Vaughan-Lee. “This is a journey of transformation in which the Sufi travels from the outer world of the creation to the inner world of the Creator, the direct experience of our divine nature,” Vaughan-Lee continues. “This journey happens within the heart; the secret of our divine nature is placed within the heart, and through the heart we can experience its reality.”
“The journey unveils this secret,” continues Vaughan-Lee, “known as the ‘secret of secrets’—it is the great paradox of human existence that we are veiled from our divine nature, our innermost union with God: God said through the Holy Prophet, ‘Man is my secret and I am his secret. The inner knowledge of the spiritual essence is a secret of my secrets. Only I put this into the Heart of my good servant, and none may know his state other than Me.’”
To obtain the secret of secrets, and to begin on the path to Divine Union, read this sublime article for yourself.
Professor Peter Dale Scott, who has established a reputation as a peerless investigative reporter over the last forty years, has written an amazing new piece on the geo-strategic realities underpinning the war on terror, and uncovering the ways in which the oil industry and military contractors are influencing top US policymakers to benefit their own pocketbooks at the expense of the American people. It’s called “The Real Grand Chessboard and War Profiteers.”
Professor Scott shows how private military contractors have in many cases displaced the CIA, providing top policymakers with intelligence and analysis that determines foreign policy, including decisions to enter into and continue wars around the world. In many cases, the contractors stand to make millions or billions of dollars from these decisions. When private companies have such power, we are close indeed to fascism in America.
“Private firms not only provide, but also analyse intelligence,” explains Professor Scott. “Private translators, analysts and ‘interrogators’ are hired, as illustrated by the involvement of Titan and CACI in Abu Ghraib. Even more directly, private firms are hired in to assess threats and risks and suggest what to do about them. This involves constructing a security picture as done for example, by Diligence LLC and SAIC, two firms specialised in intelligence gathering and analysis….. This privatisation of intelligence has direct consequences for the relation between Private Military Contractors and security discourses. It places the firms in a position where they are directly involved in producing these discourses. They provide a growing share of the information that forms the basis of decisions on whether or not something is a security concern.”
Internationally renowned environmentalist Edward Goldsmith, who helped organize the Green Party in England, and who founded The Ecologist magazine, discusses the philosophical foundations for a “New Biospheric Ethics” in the last major article he wrote before his death at the age of eighty, this August 21st.
“There can be no more truly immoral enterprise than that to which our modern society is so totally committed: namely, economic development or ‘progress’, which involves the systematic substitution of the technosphere for the biosphere,” argues Goldsmith.
Goldsmith traces the rise of neo-Darwinist philosophical discourse through the Huxley brothers in England and into the present day, rebutting their philosophical support for values-free technocracy with telling arguments from Buddhist texts and references to the venerable Chinese Tao, unsheathing ancient intellectual swords to attack theintellectual foundations of today’s modern environmentally unsustainable culture.
Finally, Jane offers some solace to all those home gardeners overwhelmed by a superabundance of cucumbers during this East Coast summer of extreme rain – in her article on a great recipe for “Cucumber Raita – Or What to Do With All Those Extra Cucumbers.”
Top News Stories From Around the Web
(These are excerpts from important articles that offer deep insights, a broad view of global financial, political and social trends, and a clear alternative to the mindless mainstream media propaganda machine. Click on the links below to read the full story. Don’t be satisfied with just the excerpts. It’s worth taking the time to be fully informed.)
Town Hall Democracy or Mob Hysteria? Rethinking the Importance of the Public Sphere Wednesday 26 August 2009
by: Henry A. Giroux, t r u t h o u t | Perspective
The bitter debate that is unfolding over Obama's health care plan has garnered a great deal of media attention. The images are both familiar and disturbing - members of Congress are shouted down, taunted, hanged in effigy and, in some instances, received death threats. In some cases, mob scenes have produced violence and resulted in a number of arrests. Increasingly, people are showing up with guns at these meetings, revealing an intimate connection between an embrace of violence, politics and an unbridled hatred of both the public sphere and the conditions for real exchange, debate and dialogue over important social issues. Rowdy crowds, many of whom read from talking points made available to them by right-wing groups and legitimated by conservative television pundits, support a politics reminiscent of the proto-fascists movements and militia associated with authoritarian parties in the 1930s and 1970s, which often used them to disrupt oppositional meetings, beat up opponents and intimidate those individuals and groups that criticized right-wing ideologies. This is not meant to suggest that all of the protesters at these meetings are members of extremists groups as much as it is to reveal the deep historical affinity such mob tactics have with dangerous authoritarian tendencies - an ironic twist given that their invective of choice is to compare Obama with Hitler. Many of these fringe groups "leaping around the margins of American society,"  <http://www.truthout.org/082609L?n#aa> are irresponsibly sanctioned by both politicians such as Republican Sen. Tom Coburn and right-wing television hosts such as Glenn Beck, Bill O'Reilly and Sean Hannity.  <http://www.truthout.org/082609L?n#bb> The United States is neither Nazi Germany, fascist Italy, nor does it bear a resemblance to Pinchot's Chile. What is important to recognize in light of these violent tendencies in the culture is Hannah Arendt's prescient warning that elements of totalitarianism continue to be with us and that rather than relegated to the dustbin of history, the "still existing elements of totalitarianism would be more likely to crystallize into new forms."  <http://www.truthout.org/082609L?n#cc> These tendencies have been around for the last 20 years in the form of militarism, religious fundamentalism, a rabid economic Darwinism and a growing violence against the poor, immigrants, dissenters, and others marginalized because of their age, gender, race, ethnicity, politics and color. What is new under the Obama regime is that the often hidden alliance between corporate power and the forces of extremism are now both celebrated and highly visible in the culture. What is new is that the production of violence and the organized attempts to undermine the most basic principles of democracy are now embraced, if not showcased, as a register of patriotism and then offered up as a spectacle in much of the mainstream media.
Sep 3, 2009
US's 'arc of instability' just gets bigger
By Pepe Escobar
The New Great Game is not only focused on the face-off between the United States and strategic competitors Russia and China - with Pipelineistan as a defining element.
The full spectrum dominance doctrine requires the control of the Pentagon-coined "arc of instability" from the Horn of Africa to western China. The cover story is the former "global war on terror", now "overseas contingency operations" under the management of President Barack Obama's administration.
Most of all, the underlying logic remains divide and rule. As for the divide, Beijing would call it, without a trace of irony, "splittist". Split up Iraq - blocking China's access to Iraqi oil. Split up Pakistan - with an independent Balochistan preventing China from accessing the strategic port of Gwadar there. Split up Afghanistan - with an independent Pashtunistan allowing the building of the Trans-Afghanistan Pipeline bypassing Russia. Split up Iran - by financing subversion in Khuzestan and Sistan-Balochistan. And why not split up Bolivia (as was attempted last year) to the benefit of US energy giants. Call it the (splitting) Kosovo model.
Kosovo, incidentally, is known as the Colombia of the Balkans. What Washington calls the "Western hemisphere" is a sub-section of the New Great Game. The linkage between the recent military coup in Honduras, the return of the living dead - that is, the resurrection of the US Navy's Fourth Fleet in July 2008 - and now the turbo-charging of seven US military bases in Colombia is not to be blamed merely on continuity from president George W Bush to Obama. Not really. This is all about the internal logic of Full Spectrum Dominance.
Published on Monday, August 24, 2009 by TruthDig.com
This Isn’t Reform, It’s Robbery
by Chris Hedges
Percentage change since 2002 in average premiums paid to large US health-insurance companies: +87%
Percentage change in the profits of the top ten insurance companies: +428%
Chances that an American bankrupted by medical bills has health insurance: 7 in 10
—Harper’s Index, September 2009
Capitalists, as my friend Father Michael Doyle says, should never be allowed near a health care system. They hold sick children hostage as they force parents to bankrupt themselves in the desperate scramble to pay for medical care. The sick do not have a choice. Medical care is not a consumable good. We can choose to buy a used car or a new car, shop at a boutique or a thrift store, but there is no choice between illness and health. And any debate about health care must acknowledge that the for-profit health care industry is the problem and must be destroyed. This is an industry that hires doctors and analysts to deny care to patients in order to increase profits. It is an industry that causes half of all bankruptcies. And the 20,000 Americans who died last year because they did not receive adequate care condemn these corporations as complicit in murder.
The current health care debate in Congress has nothing to do with death panels or public options or socialized medicine. The real debate, the only one that counts, is how much money our blood-sucking insurance, pharmaceutical and for-profit health services are going to be able to siphon off from new health care legislation. The proposed plans rattling around Congress all ensure that the profits for these corporations will increase and the misery for ordinary Americans will be compounded. The corporate state, enabled by both Democrats and Republicans, is yet again cannibalizing the Treasury. It is yet again pushing Americans, especially the poor and the working class, into levels of despair and rage that will continue to fuel the violent, proto-fascist movements leaping up around the edges of American society. And the traditional watchdogs—those in public office, the press and citizens groups—are as useless as the perfumed fops of another era who busied their days with court intrigue at Versailles. Canada never looked so good.
The Democrats are collaborating with lobbyists for the insurance industry, the pharmaceutical industry and for-profit health care providers to craft the current health care reform legislation. “Corporate and industry players are inside the tent this time,” says David Merritt, project director at Newt Gingrich’s Center for Health Transformation, “so there is a vacuum on the outside.” And these lobbyists have already killed a viable public option and made sure nothing in the bills will impede their growing profits and capacity for abuse.
“It will basically be a government law that says you have to buy their defective product,” says Dr. David Himmelstein, a professor at HarvardMedicalSchool and a founder of Physicians for a National Health Plan. “Next the government will tell us a Pinto in every garage, a lead-coated toy to every child and melamine-laced puppy chow for every dog.”
From The Economist print edition
U, V or W for recovery
Aug 20th 2009
The world economy has stopped shrinking. That’s the end of the good news. It has been deep and nasty. But the worst global recession since the 1930s may be over. Led by China, Asia’s emerging economies have revived fastest, with several expanding at annualised rates of more than 10% in the second quarter. A few big rich economies also returned to growth, albeit far more modestly, between April and June. Japan’s output rose at an annualised pace of 3.7%, and both Germany and France notched up annualised growth rates of just over 1%. In America the housing market has shown signs of stabilising, the pace of job losses is slowing and the vast majority of forecasters expect output to expand between July and September. Most economies are still a lot smaller than they were a year ago. On a quarterly basis, though, they are turning the corner.
This is good news. The first step in any recovery is for output to stop shrinking. But the more interesting question is what shape the recovery will take. The debate centres around three scenarios: “V”, “U” and “W”. A V-shaped recovery would be vigorous, as pent-up demand is unleashed. A U-shaped one would be feebler and flatter. And in a W-shape, growth would return for a few quarters, only to peter out once more.
Optimists argue that the scale of the downturn augurs for a strong rebound. America’s deepest post-war recessions, they point out, were followed by vigorous recoveries. In the two years after the slump of 1981-82, for instance, output soared at an average annual rate of almost 6%; and this time round, output has slumped even further, and for longer, than it did in the early 1980s.
Pessimists, meanwhile, think this downturn’s origins favour a weak recovery or a double-dip. Unlike typical post-war recessions this slump was spawned by a financial bust, not high interest rates, and when overindebted borrowers need to rebuild their balance-sheets and financial systems need repair, growth can be weak and easily derailed for years. Japan’s 1990s banking crisis left the economy stagnant for a decade; a premature tax increase in 1997 plunged it back into recession.
V for vulnerable
Neither of these parallels is exact, because today’s global slump combines several types of downturn and an unprecedented policy response. In formerly bubble economies, it is largely a balance-sheet recession. Debt-fuelled consumption has been felled. But the scale of collapse was broadened and deepened by the freezing up of the machinery of global finance, a dramatic collapse in confidence and stock-slashing. It was then countered with the biggest stimulus in history. The shape of the recovery depends on how these forces interact.
In the short term that shape could look beguilingly like a “V”, as stimulus kicks in and the inventory cycle turns. In emerging Asia, the unfreezing of trade finance, a turnaround in stocks and hefty fiscal stimulus are powering a rebound. Government support, especially employment subsidies and incentives to buy new cars, has cushioned demand in Germany and France (see article). With export orders rising and confidence growing, the next few months could be surprisingly buoyant. Even in America, the fiscal stimulus is kicking in, the “cash for clunkers” scheme is a big, if temporary, prop to output and firms will, sooner or later, stop cutting inventories.
Yet a rebound based on stock adjustments is necessarily temporary, and one based on government stimulus alone will not last. Beyond those two factors there is little reason for cheer. America’s housing market may yet lurch down again as foreclosures rise, high unemployment takes its toll and a temporary home-buyers’ tax-credit ends (see article). Even if housing stabilises, consumer spending will stay weak as households pay down debt. In America and other post-bubble economies, a real V-shaped bounce seems fanciful. Elsewhere, it will happen only if vigorous private domestic demand picks up the baton from government stimulus. In Japan and Germany, where joblessness has further to rise, that seems unlikely any time soon. The odds are better in emerging economies, especially China. But even there an array of reforms, from a stronger currency to an overhaul of subsidies, is needed to boost labour income and encourage consumption. Until that shift takes place, the global recovery will be fragile and probably quite feeble. A gloomy U with a long, flat bottom of weak growth is the likeliest shape of the next few years.
Meditation Moment: Unexpected Visitors
This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.
A joy, a depression, a meanness,
Some momentary awareness comes
As an unexpected visitor.
Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they're a crowd of sorrows,
Who violently sweep your house
Empty of its furniture,
Still, treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
For some new delight.
The dark thought, the shame, the malice,
Meet them at the door laughing,
And invite them in.
Be grateful for whoever comes,
Because each has been sent as a guide from beyond.