Welcome to the July 27, 2006 Lammas edition of the Satya Center newsletter. Warm greetings from your Editors, Curtis Lang and Jane Sherry.
Dear friends – August 1, Lammas, the sacred cross quarter day between the Summer Solstice & Autumn Equinox when the Mother returns the first of many harvests to come, fast approaches.
Here in the Hudson Valley where Curtis and I live, the corn in the field next to our house has tasseled. Golden banners are fluttering in the wind, fertile silks turn brown, and the beginning of the corn harvest is upon our tables. We give thanks for the sweet corn and for all our Mother’s bounty.
Lammas is the day to celebrate the Eternal Maiden, the Virgin Mother, the Corn Mother, the Great Earth Mother of Nourishment, our Mother of Abundance. Lammas is the day we express our gratitude that She feeds all our children. Celtic, Neo-Pagan and Christians alike light fires to celebrate the strength of summer’s incandescence and the promise the first fruits of harvest make for the community’s secure winter season.
Yet this year Lammas is a festival of mixed blessings and mixed emotions. Mother, we are grateful for our privileged lives and for the opportunities we often take for granted. Mother, we are sad and we mourn the savage wars that our leaders pursue in the Middle East. Mother, we celebrate the unity of the human family. Mother, we ask your forgiveness, and we ask that we learn to forgive one another.
The corn grain I eat are the same grain that feeds our brothers and sisters, daughters, sons, and grandparents in Lebanon, Israel, Palestine, Iran, Iraq, and Afghanistan. Shall I go on to name all the lands where the Mother’s sacred fruits grow? Or some other sacred food for sustenance, the yam, potato, barley, rice, the grain of the lap of the Mother?
My enemy is my sister, I have no enemies. Your enemy is your brother, you have no enemies. Your enemy is your father, your mother smiling back at you as rain down bombs upon your family running from their homes.
I mourn for those with no corn, rice, figs or barley at their table; I mourn for those without a table around which to gather to break their fast from the deep night before.
I mourn for those whose tables are blackened into rubble, burst into flames, obliterated or abandoned to bombs, ignorance, hatred and fear.
I mourn for those who flee their homes, children in tow if they are lucky, with clothes on their backs, no thoughts given to their lost histories, no mementoes other than what they can carry in their hearts.
I mourn for those who flee an unseen enemy, the enemy of arrogance and greed, who must leave their villages and friends because of the impersonal hatred of bombs, marching armies, plotting politicians.
I mourn for the soldiers who must follow orders and kill innocents by the hundreds, by the thousands; I mourn for the armies whose push-button planes and tanks and missiles cause the painful running from kitchen tables, as neighbors and kin are tutored by the savage servility of war’s destruction. I mourn for their new status as refugees, homeless, injured and afraid.
I mourn for those whose arrogance and ignorance cause them to destroy lives with no regard for children’s bloody faces, for communities without roads, where houses become open burial pits. I mourn for the terrible destruction of our Mother's skin, organs, bones & blood; for the fields which are destroyed and abandoned, Mother’s nourishing harvests scorched by the wind of hatred.
Our Mother Earth’s blood boils, dries up, rages elsewhere in torrents, with no mind but to vomit forth the pollution of hatred, rage & loveless hearts.
Let us light the sacred fires of Lammas, proclaim in one voice our desire for peace, for an end to war and injustice. Let us make passage through the sacred doorway to find peace within our selves, to help soldiers to find sacred space within their own hearts, to see their enemies as their own mothers, sisters, fathers.
Let us plant seeds of peace in our next harvest as we cross the threshold to a new vision, one where we recognize one another as loving kind, where we recognize our neighbors as ourselves.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
This last week has been a time of incredible pain and suffering in the Middle East. Esoterically, the Middle East is the Earth’s solar plexus, and Jane and I have felt like we were punched in the gut as we reviewed the pictures of Lebanon: mass graves, bloodied children, bombed out buildings and bewildered families searching for shelter where there is no shelter to be found.
We have put together a thought-provoking and heart-opening compilation of stories about war and peace and the current moral and political crisis in America for you, written by Satya Center authors and by others around the World Wide Web.
This is another year of tribulations around the world. This is another year when we are called upon to stand up and speak out for peace.
In the face of the great war machines that support the repressive regimes, terrorists, religious fundamentalists, those who trample upon human rights and dignity and global corporations that threaten our precious planet’s environment, we must walk the way of the peaceful warrior, confronting power with truth and in peace.
For only through truth and peace can humanity prevail in grace and harmony with our only home, Planet Earth. Courage, faith and inner spiritual guidance are the prerequisites for this confrontation. To change the outside world, we must first change our inner world.To influence others’ minds, we must first change our inner view of reality.
We all have access to a source of wisdom within us so deep and so high that it transcends our everyday thoughts, fears, weaknesses and failings, providing us with unerring guidance, enlightenment and, yes, unfailing love for all beings, including the great powers that threaten humanity today.
By connecting with that inner source, listening to the small still voice within, and acting upon its promptings, we peaceful warriors will find our dark ways illuminated, our fears banished, our failings overcome. Turn within, seek this limitless source of strength and wisdom and love, and then act in the world accordingly.
The results will astonish you, and together, we will astonish the whole world.
Jane and I invite all those who wish to join with us in a group meditation to send healing energy to the Middle East, on Lammas, Tuesday, August 1 from 7-8:00 pm EST. Find a map of the Middle East or click here.
To begin we recommend that all participants spend a few minutes relaxing and centering themselves by experiencing a beautiful online multimedia peace meditation, inspired by the monk, author, and peace activist Thich Nhat Hanh.
This Vietnamese Buddhist Zen master worked tirelessly for peace, especially during the Vietnam War. In 1967, the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. nominated him for a Nobel Peace Prize. Thich Nhat Hanh argues that unless and until individuals are peaceful within themselves, they cannot work for peace among nations.
Next, light a candle or small lamp, and visualize the light from the candle spreading outwards from your home into the world, joining with the light from other candles being lit by others participating in this Peace meditation.
Those who would like may begin the meditation with the following prayer from Jane:
“I give thanks to the six directions, to my ancestors, to our Mother.
I give thanks for the abundance in my life, that I may share it with others.
I give thanks for the chaos in my life, that I may be prompted to call forth the place of stillness within.
I give thanks for the fear and anger in my life that cause me so much pain because it is through that pain that I find the strength to undertake the difficult work of Love, forgiving myself and sharing forgiveness with others.
I give thanks for all creatures, even those grasshoppers and aphids that eat my new garden flowers, that I may implement creative measures invoking a new balance of life for all the creatures dwelling in my garden.
I give thanks for the noise within me and around me that prompts me to call forth the calm stillness of quietude.
I give thanks for the many ways in which I am distracted, so that I may be reminded to call forth focused intent and share it with others.
I give thanks for these difficult and painful times of injustice, greed and war, that I may see these failings mirrored within myself and seek to rectify them.
I give thanks knowing that I am a sacred part of the whole, connected to all peoples no matter their religion, politics, race, sex or beliefs and I ask that I may share our fundamental connection with others.
I give thanks for my failings and for the painful feelings of division and separation in my life, for it is that pain that prompts me to seek peace through a daily search for that which is whole within me, and I ask that through experience of the whole, of thy peace which is holy, that I may learn how to share that holy peace with others.”
Pray or send energy or distance Reiki
to the Middle East, to the afflicted in that area, and to the leaders of the nations there at war. We also encourage all of you to pray and send healing energy to our deluded leaders in Washington, whose words, thoughts and actions contribute greatly to the current climate of fear, anger and aggression. We also recommend that participants sit quietly in meditation for a time afterwards. Ask for guidance from the Divine to prompt each of us taking part in the meditation to participate more fully in peace making activities on the inner planes and in the world at large.
If you choose, send an email to Jane and Curtis and let us know if you will be participating. Afterwards, let us know what messages you receive, what images, thoughts and feelings you experienced during this meditation.
As Jane and I reviewed the images of death and destruction in Lebanon, we meditated upon our own personal responsibility for the present situation.
We are Americans. America’s global Empire provides billions of dollars a year to the Israeli military machine and America’s leaders have been using Israel as a surrogate to attack and control Islamic countries and peoples outside of the American sphere of influence for decades.
America’s leaders have launched a global war against Muslims, renouncing the most basic principles of international law and human rights, embracing the use of torture and engaging in the indiscriminate slaughter of civilians in Iraq. America’s Israeli allies are engaged in a carefully planned cold-blooded slow-motion ethnic cleansing in Palestine designed to reduce the indigenous Muslim population to the status of South African blacks during the infamous rule of apartheid. Now Israel has rendered 800,000 Lebanese civilians homeless, and the body count is literally unknown at present.
We are in the unpleasant position of being citizens of a rogue superpower, unable to personally stop the wars in the Middle East or alter the thrust of America’s current Imperialistic policies through our individual efforts.
We are not heroes. However, there is much that can be done on an individual level, and we are determined to do that much. It is not necessary to be heroes to be effective peacemakers.It is by joining our voices, our efforts and our heartfelt prayers to the voices and efforts and struggles and prayers of millions of other like-minded people that we will bring peace to the world. That is all that is required of us.
One of the first things we thought to do is to contribute to international relief efforts to help Lebanese refugees. The horrifying stories of Israeli bombs and missiles targeting Red Cross vehicles, destroying roads and preventing relief from reaching the Lebanese refuges have only strengthened our resolve to act now. This is a true humanitarian disaster. Donations from Americans will send a strong message to the world’s 3 billion Muslims that America’s citizens repudiate the illegal and genocidal conduct of America and Israel in the Iraq and Lebanon wars, and that American citizens stand in solidarity with their Muslim brothers and sisters in their time of need. This is the first step toward a dialogue that can heal the wounds of war-torn peoples and nations in the Middle East and around the world.
MercyCorps is an international charity with an excellent reputation, now working in Lebanon. Click here to read about their work in Lebanon and donate online.
Universal Giving is a great website that provides highly targeted searches of international charities providing relief efforts in the world’s troublespots. Click here and check out 37 options for giving to the Lebanese relief effort
It is also a good idea to put your heartfelt thoughts for peace into letters, faxes or emails and send them to your congressmen & women, and local political leaders. Voice your demands for peaceful solutions to world problems and conflicts. You can use the resources at this handy website to contact federal and state officials directly.
Call today for an immediate cease-fire in Lebanon! Call Ambassador John Bolton at the U.S. Mission to the UN and demand that the U.S. stop blocking international efforts to achieve an immediate cease-fire: (212) 415-4050 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Contact UN Secretary General Kofi Annan and implore the United Nations to show leadership and demand an immediate ceasefire: email@example.com and/or fax: (212) 963-1921.
Click on one of the links below to join electronic advocacy campaigns calling for an immediate cease-fire:
Take the Pledge for Peace, and add your voice to that of the many, many Americans who refuse to support George Bush’s illegal war in Iraq, and who demand that the Democratic party provide us with a true Peace candidate who will end this shameful war immediately and bring our troops home.
Get involved in the peace movement by working with United for Peace and Justice, Code Pink, End the War, The Peace Alliance, and Peace Not War. Learn all about the history and future prospects of peace movements in America by reading an excellent online book called “The American Peace Movements”.
And please send this message on to others, either by forwarding this email or by sending a simple link to the web version of this newsletter.
Top Satya Center Stories of the Week
New Satya Center contributor Andrew Bard Schmookler is a renowned author, historian and public policy expert. He has contributed a thoughtful new article entitled “America’s Moral Crisis”, exploring the twin failures of conservative and liberal political camps in this country, and how both sides embroiled in the never-ending culture wars have helped create an atmosphere conducive to the rise of home-grown fascism in the country that was the world’s great champion of democracy only fifty years ago.
“Many in the liberal half of America worry that the political right has been taken over by amoral forces that only pretend to be righteous while they indulge their lust for power and wealth,” Schmookler explains. “Many in the conservative half of America fear that America’s moral integrity has been eroded by an ‘anything goes’ culture abetted by the moral permissiveness of contemporary liberalism.”
“Both these worries are well-founded,” contends Schmookler. “Indeed, these two moral crises — the rise of fascistic forces in the political realm and the degradation of values in the cultural realm –are two sides of the same coin.”
“The purpose of this article, and of my website, NoneSoBlind, is to put the pieces together, to provide a clear and integrated picture of the moral crisis now besetting America,” says Schmookler. “It is a vision that offers both good news and bad.”
“The bad news is that the crisis is much bigger than you probably suspect,” warns Schmookler. “The good news is that the same vision that reveals the magnitude of this crisis also suggests a strategy for successfully meeting our present challenge.”
Paul Craig Roberts, who served as Assistant Secretary of the Treasury under Ronald Reagan, confronts the conventional wisdom supporting Israel’s current invasion of Lebanon in his hard-hitting article “The Shame of Being American”.
“Muslim genocide in one form or another is the professed goal of the neoconservatives who have total control over the Bush administration,” explains Roberts. “Neocon godfather Norman Podhoretz has called for World War IV (in neocon thinking WW III was the cold war) to overthrow Islam in the Middle East, deracinate the Islamic religion and turn it into a formalized, secular ritual.”
“Neocon David Horowitz says that by slaughtering Palestinian and Lebanese civilians, ‘Israel is doing the work of the rest of the civilized world,’ thus equating war criminals with civilized men.”
“Neocon Larry Kudlow says that ‘Israel is doing the Lord’s work’ by murdering Lebanese, a claim that should give pause to Israel’s Christian evangelical supporters,” Roberts argues. “Where does the Lord Jesus say, ‘go forth and murder your neighbors so that you may steal their lands’?”
Author and peace activist Palden Jenkins, recently returned to his home in the UK from Palestine, contributes another insightful article about the Middle East conflict entitled “Give Peace a Chance: No One Can Win the Arab-Israeli Wars”.
“Only one kind of disarmament is possible: complete, comprehensive, global disarmament,” Jenkins contends. “Owing to the dominance of the strongest and the vulnerability of the weakest, the strongest countries need to take the initiative - ratchet down first, to convince the small guys that they can be trusted not to take advantage.”
Biologist Dr. Mae-Wan Ho presents a hopeful new story, “How To Be Fuel and Food Rich During Climate Change”.
Biofuels and incineration are bad ideas promoted by big governments argues Dr. Ho. Solar power, anaerobic generation of energy from waste materials, and green algae for carbon capture and sustainable biofuels are good ideas that definitely will work.
Read the story and be inspired!
Poet Jed Myers contributes a searing new piece on the carnage in the Middle East entitled “Paper Window”.
Another new Satya Center contributor, political astrologer Nancy Sommers, offers a thoughtful look at the prospects for war and peace over the next decade in her new article “The Long View: Uranus Uprisings in America”. Nancy offers some very interesting predictions concerning the future course of American foreign policy and provides some important warnings along with grounds for hope.
Reiki Masters and authors Frans and Bronwen Stiene recount the true-life story of their own spiritual journey in “Reiki Parenting”. Your heart will open as you explore the Stiene’s story explaining how they observed signs from nature during Bronwen’s pregnancy and how a series of meaningful co-incidences combined to provide healing and meaning to that most sacred passage in life’s journey when a new child enters the world.
Satya Center partner Lilipoh Magazine contributes a new story by Elizabeth Simons entitled “My Journey with Southernwood”, recounting her experiences with essential oil dispersion baths as a form of alternative or complementary medical treatment used in anthroposophical medicine.
“When I embarked on a course of oil dispersion bath therapy for my severe fibromyalgia, I found myself unexpectedly walking a path of inner growth and healing that has brought physical, emotional and spiritual benefits,” Elizabeth explains.
Read the rest of her story to participate in her adventure and open your eyes to a new, deep, gentle form of healing.
New Additions to the Crystal Gallery
Jane and I have been working day and night to add the finest items from our new crystal inventory to the Crystal Gallery on the website.
You’ll find outstanding examples of world-class mineralogical specimens with strong metaphysical and healing properties in our newest selection, including: new aquamarine, peridot, moldavite, phenacite, tourmaline, rubellite and kunzite jewelry; new Lemurian healing crystals; rare Chinese enhydrous healing scepters and Tibetan and Burmese wands; new unpolished tourmaline, sapphire, topaz and aquamarine gemstones; and what is now arguably the best selection of world-class Vogel-cut Kabbalistic healing wands on the World Wide Web.
These are all one-of-a-kind pieces and the time to shop is now, before the rest of the online world discovers this new inventory.
Top Spiritual Stories From Around the Web
Pax Christi USA
Pax Christi USA Statement on the recent attacks in the Middle East
Pax Christi USA, the national Catholic peace movement, calls for an immediate ceasefire to the conflict that undermines the efforts at true peace for the people of Lebanon, Palestine and Israel. Pax Christi USA strongly condemns the Hezbollah attacks targeting Israeli civilians and the illegal, unjustified and disproportionate use of force by Israel against the people of Lebanon and Gaza. The intentional targeting of civilians and civilian infrastructure is unconscionable and a flagrant violation by Israel of the Geneva Conventions. We urge the Israeli government to immediately cease military action against the people of Lebanon and Gaza and to commit to finding a diplomatic solution which leads to peace. We urge Hezbollah to immediately cease its cross-border attacks and to release captured Israeli soldiers.
Our prayers are with the people of Lebanon, Palestine, and Israel as they suffer through the violence and uncertainty of air strikes and rocket fire. We pray in a special way for the Palestinian victims whose long suffering has too often been ignored by both the U.S. government and media. We mourn for the hundreds of people who have died in Lebanon, almost all of whom were civilians, and the hundreds of thousands who have been displaced from their homes. The directed attacks by the Israeli military on residential areas, power stations, and water facilities amount to collective punishment on the entire Lebanese population. Collective punishment has been consistently condemned by every major faith tradition as well as the Geneva Conventions. Furthermore, the actions of the Israeli government risk recent advances to free Lebanon from outside domination and threaten the fragile democracy of a nation healing from years of sectarian divisions.
We urge the international community, through the proper authority of the United Nations, to negotiate an immediate cease-fire and to pressure all parties for a just and lasting resolution to the longstanding violence and injustice in the region. We call on the UN to hold Israel accountable for the purposeful destruction of necessary civilian infrastructure in Lebanon and Gaza, a clear violation of international law. We urge the international community to immediately ascertain the resources necessary to ensure that all civilians who have suffered from the recent attacks have access to food, water and medical supplies.
Finally, Pax Christi USA condemns the Bush Administration’s support of the Israeli response to the Hezbollah attacks. The Administration’s obstructionist postures at both the United Nations and the G-8 summit led to a delay in the international community’s response to the situation and an unequivocal call for a cease-fire. Pax Christi USA calls on the Bush Administration to immediately stop the military support which is being used by Israel in its attacks on civilians in Lebanon and Gaza. As U.S. citizens, we cannot stand idly by while weapons made on U.S. soil are used by the Israeli military to target civilians and destroy the infrastructure which underpins the stability of their society.
Israel has Crossed a Moral Boundary
Rabbi Michael Lerner
In 2003 I was prevented from speaking at a large demonstration protesting the impending war in Iraq because I was deemed too pro-Zionist by one of the sponsoring organizations. My sin then, as now, is that I believe that both sides have acted with insensitivity and have been oblivious to the needs of the other, and both sides need to repent.
I still believe that now, and as late as last week was calling on the tens of thousands of readers of www.tikkun.org to insist to the Palestinians that they would be far more effective if they were to adopt the non-violent strategies of Gandhi, King, and Mandela rather than to imagine themselves capable of militarily defeating Israel. And just as I've critiqued the state terrorism against civilians that the IDF brings to the West Bank occupation, so I've always critiqued the terrorism of some sectors of the Palestinian population.
But this week it's impossible as a Jew and as an American to not notice that a new human rights violation by Israel has taken place which manages to surpass many of its previous violations in cruelty and in the outrage it has generated.
Anyone has ever faced the crippling heat of the desert-like conditions of southern Israel or the Gaza strip knows the desperation for water that comes each summer. So when Israel bombed and destroyed the electricity system for 1.2 million Gazans and thereby made all electric pumps inoperable, they inflicted a collective punishment on the entire Gazan population.
Common Dreams NewsCenter
Tuesday, July 11, 2006
Sign Me Up for the Declaration of Peace!
by Reverend John Dear
This summer we’ve seen several beautiful protests against U.S. warmaking. Friends have been fasting for peace in front of the White House under the banner, “Troops Home Fast.” Others have been walking for peace through Illinois, Indiana and Kentucky. Eighty five year old Rev. Daniel Berrigan and two dozen others blocked the entrance to the U.S. mission to the United Nations, demanding the closure of Guantanamo, and were arrested and jailed. In New Mexico, we’re preparing for the 61st anniversary of the U.S. atomic bombing of Hiroshima when we’ll sit in sackcloth and ashes to repent of the sin of war and nuclear weapons at Los Alamos, where the Bush administration spends billions of dollars on nuclear weapons, and even wants to start pit production next year. Hundreds will join us in Los Alamos on August 6th, including Kathy Kelly and Cindy Sheehan. Everyone is welcome.
But the killing of Iraqi sisters and brothers goes on with no end in sight, even though the polls show that some seventy percent of the U.S. public oppose Bush’s war, want the troops brought home, and desire a comprehensive, concrete and rapid withdrawal plan. People from all walks of life are saying, “Bring home the troops; close all U.S. bases in Iraq; fund a peace process for a post-occupation transition; reconstruct Iraq through massive reparations; and spend the hundreds of billions of dollars used to kill Iraqis instead on schools, jobs, healthcare, and low-income housing here at home, including the reconstruction of New Orleans.”
For the past few years we have marched, kept vigil, lobbied Congress and prayed for peace in a spirit of nonviolence, as Gandhi and King would advise. But nonviolence is not passive, reactionary, or weak. It requires creativity, assertiveness, and risk-taking. It is stronger than violence, so it takes the lead. It sets the agenda, insists on truth, takes action, and sees through its goal toward new breakthroughs of justice and peace.
History News Network
Why Peace Movements Are Important
. . .What are the lessons for today? It seems unlikely that the peace movement will stop the Iraq war any time soon, let alone the permanent “war on terror” that started in Afghanistan and Iraq and will expand to who knows where? For the first time in our history, America’s rulers have rested their case for war on fear and fear alone. They make no promise of a better world and ask no sacrifice. To the contrary, they crush civil liberties, slash the social benefits of low income people, and give tax cuts to the rich. The logical outcome is a nightmarish Orwellian world where ordinary people are forced to foot the bill for the corporate-military tyranny that oppresses them.
Fortunately, the current situation suggests other possible outcomes. Opposition to U.S. empire is strong abroad; there are signs of disorder in ruling circles at home; President Bush’s poll numbers put him in the company of Nixon on the eve of resignation. If ever there was a time for a peace movement to oppose permanent war – another name for empire – this is it. Linkage between peace and economic justice would expand the ranks. At the very least, today’s movement can do what peace movements have always done -- claim the moral high ground by affirming life over death. Finally, for those who think the war does not concern them, there is something to think about on March 19th: “Ask not for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.”
Breaking News Headlines 24/7 at Satya Center
Read breaking news stories updated 24/7 from Pacific News Service (http://www.satyacenter.com/news). Tune in to Satya Center’s 24/7 environmental news headlines and listen to environmental news radio from Environmental News Network at ENN EarthNews (http://www.satyacenter.com/news/environment).
Top News Stories From Around the Web
BLOOD IN BEIRUT: $75.05 A BARREL
By Greg Palast
July 26, 2006
I can't tell you how it started -- this is a war that's been fought since the Levites clashed with the Philistines -- but I can tell you why the current mayhem has not been stopped. It's the oil.
I'm not an expert on Palestine nor Lebanon and I'd rather not pretend to be one. If you want to know what's going on, read Robert Fisk. He lives there. He speaks Arabic. Stay away from pundits whose only connection to the Middle East is the local falafel stand.
So why am I writing now? The answer is that, while I don't speak Arabic or Hebrew, I am completely fluent in the language of petroleum.
. . .Let's begin with the facts we can agree on: the berserkers are winning. Crazies discredited only a month ago are now in charge, guys with guns bigger than brains and souls smaller still. Here's a list:
-- Israel's Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's approval rating in June was down to a Bush-level of 35%. But today, Olmert's poll numbers among Israeli voters have more than doubled to 78% as he does his bloody John Wayne "cleanin' out the varmints" routine. But let's not forget: Olmert can't pee-pee without George Bush's approval. Bush can stop Olmert tomorrow. He hasn't.
-- Hezbollah, a political party rejected overwhelmingly by Lebanese voters sickened by their support of Syrian occupation, holds a mere 14 seats out of 128 in the nation's parliament. Hezbollah was facing demands by both Lebanon's non-Shia majority and the United Nations to lay down arms. Now, few Lebanese would suggest taking away their rockets. But let's not forget: Without Iran, Hezbollah is just a fundamentalist street gang. Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad can stop Hezbollah's rockets tomorrow. He hasn't.
-- Hamas, just days before it kidnapped and killed Israeli soldiers, was facing certain political defeat at the hands of the Palestinian majority ready to accept the existence of Israel as proposed in a manifesto for peace talks penned by influential Palestinian prisoners. Now the Hamas rocket brigade is back in charge. But let's not forget: Hamas is broke and a joke without the loot and authority of Saudi Arabia. King Abdullah can stop these guys tomorrow. He hasn't.
Why not? Why haven't what we laughably call "leaders" of the USA, Iran and Saudi Arabia called back their delinquent spawn, cut off their allowances and grounded them for six months?
Maybe because mayhem and murder in the Middle East are very, very profitable to the sponsors of these characters with bombs and rockets. America, Iran and Saudi Arabia share one thing in common: they are run by oil regimes. The higher the price of crude, the higher the profits and the happier the presidents and princelings of these petroleum republics.
Z Magazine - 2006-07-01
Notes on the Progress of the Counterrevolution
by Edward S. Herman
We are in the midst of a major counterrevolution, in which the governing classes of the West, taking advantage of the collapse of the Soviet Union, corporate globalization, increased media concentration and commercialization, the sharp attrition of labor organization and political influence, and hence the greater political power of the corporate elite, have been dismantling the welfare state and non-corporate rights and entitlements and moving the world toward a laissez-faire and dog-eat-dog--or rather tiger-eat-rabbit--world. Put otherwise, with what is now a global “reserve army” of fragmented and atomized labor, and with no alternative system currently threatening Western elites and impelling them toward generous treatment of their local majorities, these elites have rushed toward putting in place a version of the Marxian model of pure capitalism that had been thwarted by the rise of national labor movements, the limited mobility of capital, and the now defunct Soviet and Maoist threats.
The ending of the alternative model threats, the growing mobility of capital, and capital’s success in making the global institutional framework more welcoming to capital, have made possible more aggressive class warfare and the slow-motion counterrevolution now in process. Key features of the counterrevolution have been: (1) the gradual and still incomplete but ongoing removal of welfare state protections of the underlying population, starting with the weakest and most vulnerable (welfare mothers) and then moving toward those of the middle class; (2) deregulation of business and privatization of formerly public assets; (3) termination of protection of the rights to form and maintain labor unions and/or policies actively weakening labor organizations; (4) the absence of any constraint on--and even active encouragement of -- outsourcing and foreign investment; and (5) the entering into international agreements that protect corporate rights at the expense of national sovereignty and democratic control. The counterrevolution thus entails a reduction in the role of government in the economy, with the main and massive exception of the military establishment, which is a joint venture of government and private business that serves larger functions: subsidizing business technology, stimulating economic activity (“military Keynesianism”), and assuring “law and order” at home and the advancement of the counterrevolution and empire abroad.
Protecting The 2006 Vote
July 19, 2006
How many electronic voting machines can dance on the head of a pin?
That’s nearly how arcane today’s raging, almost theological, arguments among progressives have become over the lost 2004 election. The debates continue over such admittedly worthy issues as whether the GOP’s evil minions literally stole the election in Ohio from John Kerry in 2004, and if the blame for Kerry’s loss was due mostly to his bungled campaign, rigged voting machines or voting suppression efforts that targeted black and low-income voters.
But these internal debates don’t do anything to fight flaws in our nation’s patchwork election system that threaten to rob millions of Americans of the right to vote in the upcoming November election—and weren’t remedied by last week’s House passage of the Voting Rights Act. Fortunately, we don’t have to limit ourselves to wringing our hands, filing lawsuits against voting-machine companies, hoping for sweeping federal reforms or, as author Mark Crispin Miller says, “Going Ukraine” if the Republicans hold on to Congress.
Instead, there are a host of concrete steps you can take up through Election Day to keep votes from being robbed—and admirable national and local groups (see resources here) you can join to help prevent the sort of meltdowns that happened in Ohio in 2004.
Why is election reform—a key element of initiatives by MoveOn.org, Common Cause and People for the American Way, among others—so important? It’s not just that it promotes fair voting and democracy. It’s also essential for Democrats’ hopes of winning back either house of Congress this year, especially in any close elections.
Voting Rights: It’s Time to Think the Unthinkable
By Bruce Dixon, July 13, 2006
“Don't put that out there” is the admonition delivered to folks impolite enough to talk about bad things which might happen but have not yet come to pass, as if mere discussion or consideration of some awful possibility makes it more likely. We at BC understand politeness. But failing to recognize, to examine and to understand unpleasant possibilities before they become devastating realities is worse than impolite. It's foolish.
The unpleasant truths of this political moment are:
1. Renewable portions of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 (VRA) seem increasingly likely to die in the Congress this session.
2. Recent Supreme Court decisions indicate the court is inclined to “interpret” permanent provisions of the Voting Rights Act into meaninglessness.
3. Democrats in the US. House and Senate seem disinclined to fight very hard for the voting rights of blacks, and;
4. With no superpower rival on the international scene and the domestic mass movement disbanded and sent home a generation ago, the powers that be face little or no meaningful consequences at home or abroad for killing the VRA.
. . .With few or no visible powerful advocates in any branch of government, without much support in the corporate mass media, with American authorities determined to ignore world opinion and with the mass movement sent home a generation ago, it may be time for black America to contemplate where we will be by the end of this year, with a severely weakened Voting Rights Act. We may be about to see one of the seminal gains of the 1945-1965 Freedom Movement rolled back.
Some have said that we marched in the Sixties and got the VRA, we marched in the Seventies and the war went away. We should march again. That’s probably true. But the custom nowadays is for marches to look more like picnics, and for everybody to go home the next day.
That’s not how it worked in Belarus or the Philippines and it’s not now it worked here forty years ago. Back in the day, people stayed in the street till something changed. A march is one day. A movement continues till it obtains a victory or something changes. Or until misguided leaders send it home.
July 20, 2006
As Mexico Awaits Judges’ Ruling The Writing Is On The Wall And In The Streets
By JOHN ROSS
MEXICO CITY – The day before Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador (AMLO), the peppery left leader who insists he is the winner of the July 2 election here, summoned over a million Mexicans to the great Zocalo plaza to lay out plans for civil resistance to prevent right-winger Felipe Calderon from stealing the presidency, this reporter marched down from neighboring Morelos state with a group of weather-beaten campesinos the color of the earth.
Saul Franco and his companeros farmed plots in the village of Anenecuilco, the hometown of revolutionary Emiliano Zapata who gave his life to defend the community's land from the big hacienda owners. "It is our obligation to fix this fraud and kick the rich out of power," Saul explained. "If Zapata was still alive he would be with us today" the 52 year-old farmer insisted, echoing the sentiment on the hand-lettered cardboard sign he carried.
But although Saul and his companions admired and supported Lopez Obrador, they were not so happy with AMLO's party, the Party of the Democratic Revolution or PRD. "We had a PRD mayor and things went badly and we lost the next time around," remembered Pedro, Saul's cousin. Indeed, many PRD candidates are just made-over members of the once-ruling (71 years) Institutional Revolutionary Party or PRI that have climbed on Lopez Obrador's coattails to win public office. In 57 per cent of all elections the PRD has won, the party has subsequently failed to win reelection.
Yet the farmers drew a clear distinction between AMLO's "Party of the Aztec Sun" and Lopez Obrador himself. "Andres Manuel will never surrender. He is decided. He will never double-cross us or sell us out." Saul was adamant.
It is that aura of dedication and combativeness and the belief that, in contrast with other leaders that have risen from the Mexican left, that AMLO cannot be bought or co-opted, that helped draw 1.1 million (police estimates) or 1.5 million (PRD estimates) Mexicans to the Zocalo, the political heart of the nation, July 16.
The New American Cold War
by STEPHEN F. COHEN
[from the July 10, 2006 issue]
Contrary to established opinion, the gravest threats to America's national security are still in Russia. They derive from an unprecedented development that most US policy-makers have recklessly disregarded, as evidenced by the undeclared cold war Washington has waged, under both parties, against post-Communist Russia during the past fifteen years.
. . . Petrodollars may bring Russia long-term stability, but on the basis of growing authoritarianism and xenophobic nationalism. Those ominous factors derive primarily not from Russia's lost superpower status (or Putin's KGB background), as the US press regularly misinforms readers, but from so many lost and damaged lives at home since 1991. Often called the "Weimar scenario," this outcome probably would not be truly fascist, but it would be a Russia possessing weapons of mass destruction and large proportions of the world's oil and natural gas, even more hostile to the West than was its Soviet predecessor.
How has the US government responded to these unprecedented perils? It doesn't require a degree in international relations or media punditry to understand that the first principle of policy toward post-Communist Russia must follow the Hippocratic injunction: Do no harm! Do nothing to undermine its fragile stability, nothing to dissuade the Kremlin from giving first priority to repairing the nation's crumbling infrastructures, nothing to cause it to rely more heavily on its stockpiles of superpower weapons instead of reducing them, nothing to make Moscow uncooperative with the West in those joint pursuits. Everything else in that savaged country is of far less consequence.
Since the early 1990s Washington has simultaneously conducted, under Democrats and Republicans, two fundamentally different policies toward post-Soviet Russia--one decorative and outwardly reassuring, the other real and exceedingly reckless. The decorative policy, which has been taken at face value in the United States, at least until recently, professes to have replaced America's previous cold war intentions with a generous relationship of "strategic partnership and friendship." The public image of this approach has featured happy-talk meetings between American and Russian presidents, first "Bill and Boris" (Clinton and Yeltsin), then "George and Vladimir."
The real US policy has been very different--a relentless, winner-take-all exploitation of Russia's post-1991 weakness. Accompanied by broken American promises, condescending lectures and demands for unilateral concessions, it has been even more aggressive and uncompromising than was Washington's approach to Soviet Communist Russia.
Jul 14, 2006
THE ROVING EYE
Russia and Iran lead the new energy game
By Pepe Escobar
Whatever the West may have thought about it, Russian President Vladimir Putin has already spectacularly preempted this weekend's Group of Eight (G8) summit in St Petersburg with his own bit of Pipelineistan news. Putin announced in Shanghai on June 15 that "Gazprom is ready to support the construction of a gas pipeline from Iran to Pakistan and India with financial resources and technology".
He was referring to a fabled US$7 billion, 2,775-kilometer, 10-year old project - an Iranian idea - which should now be finished by 2009, developed by Gazexport, a Gazprom subsidiary. As a result, by 2015 both India and Pakistan should be receiving at least 70 million cubic meters of natural gas a year.
Thus the two top global gas producers - Russia and Iran - reached a strategic partnership abiding not only by their own interests but the interests of India, Pakistan, China and part of Central Asia, something that spells nothing less than an auspicious economic future for a great deal of Asia - independent from any American interference. Washington was not amused.
Bush admin lied to congress, again, about new Pakistani nuclear warhead program
By Evan Derkacz
Posted on July 25, 2006, Printed on July 26, 2006
The Washington Post revealed today that the Bush administration knew of a massive Pakistani nuclear reactor in the works -- capable of producing 50 warheads/year -- but didn't tell congress.
And the article contains what may well be the quote of the year (in bold type):
"What is baffling is that this information -- which was surely information that our own intelligence agencies had -- was kept from Congress," said Sokolski, now director of the Nonproliferation Policy Education Center. "We lack imagination if we think that this is no big deal."
As Marcy Wheeler notes, the Bush administration hid disputes over Iraqi capabilities, dismissed a memo disputing the Niger claims and, not as widely known, it hid information on North Korean nuclear capability (much farther along than Iraq's) just prior to the vote to invade Iraq.
And now this. But it gets worse.
July 25, 2006
The Bottled Water Madness
By LARRY LACK
The bottled water industry is a prime example of why P.T. Barnum, not Adam Smith, should be anointed as capitalism’s patron saint. Aside from its usefulness in remote areas during disasters and emergencies, bottled water is an entirely needless affectation. The fears about the safety of public water supplies that its purveyors play on are exaggerated nonsense. But the enormous global bottled water industry built on these false fears undercuts public water, disfigures landscapes and exposes trusting bottled water consumers to serious health risks.
Hyped by label and advertising images of mountain crags and crystal streams, single serving bottles of plain water (and their flavored and mineral or vitamin-enriched variations) are an omnipresent feature of modern life. Bottled water is less a commodity than a fashion trend. Its hucksters have used advertising to transform their mundane products into icons of health, fitness, youth and beauty, their pushers would have us think, from pristine springs.
In 1990, about two billion gallons of bottled water were sold worldwide. By 2003 more than 30 billion gallons were consumed and sales, which in that year topped $35 billion, have continued to rise. Tens of millions of consumers now shun tap water and rely on bottled water exclusively. For this dubious privilege, according to the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), they pay between 240 and 10,000 times the price of tap water – including ten to fifteen cents per bottle to cover the cost of advertising. Surprisingly, despite all the current outrage over the price of gasoline, most North American consumers are casually forking over more for bottled water – about a buck a quart – than they are for gas.
Approximately one fourth of all bottled water and as much as 40 per cent of that sold in North America is simply municipal tap water run through filters and treated with minerals or other additives. The rest of the bottled water found in stores is pumped from groundwater aquifers many of which have been severely depleted by these water “takings”.
Farm Program Pays $1.3 Billion to People Who Don't Farm
By Dan Morgan, Gilbert M. Gaul and Sarah Cohen
The Washington Post
Sunday 02 July 2006
El Campo, Texas - Even though Donald R. Matthews put his sprawling new residence in the heart of rice country, he is no farmer. He is a 67-year-old asphalt contractor who wanted to build a dream house for his wife of 40 years.
Yet under a federal agriculture program approved by Congress, his 18-acre suburban lot receives about $1,300 in annual "direct payments," because years ago the land was used to grow rice.
Matthews is not alone. Nationwide, the federal government has paid at least $1.3 billion in subsidies for rice and other crops since 2000 to individuals who do no farming at all, according to an analysis of government records by The Washington Post.
Some of them collect hundreds of thousands of dollars without planting a seed. Mary Anna Hudson, 87, from the River Oaks neighborhood in Houston, has received $191,000 over the past decade. For Houston surgeon Jimmy Frank Howell, the total was $490,709.
"I don't agree with the government's policy," said Matthews, who wanted to give the money back but was told it would just go to other landowners. "They give all of this money to landowners who don't even farm, while real farmers can't afford to get started. It's wrong."
Meditation Moment: The Fundamental Law
Rejoice not when thine enemy faileth, and let not thy heart be glad when he stumbleth. Who can deservedly be called a conqueror? He who conquers his rancorous passions and endeavors to turn his enemy into a friend. Thou shalt not say “I will love the wise, but the unwise I will hate”; but thou shalt love all mankind. Thou shalt love thy neighbor: even if he be a criminal, and has forfeited his life, practice charity towards him in the last moments. What thou wouldst not like to be done to you, do not to others: this is the fundamental law.
-- The Talmud
Zen (a Path to Wisdom) Daily Dharma
" Attached to your loved ones you are stirred up like water.
Hating your enemies you burn like fire.
In the darkness of confusion, you forget what to adopt and discard.
Give up your homeland -- This is the practice of Bodhisattvas.'
When one lives and keeps cycling in this chain of attachment and
aversion, one will remain in samsara and continue to experience much
suffering. In order to be released from this cycle of samsara, it is
necessary to abide in the state of equanimity. This means one is not
attached to either our nears and dears, and neither are we angry and
hateful towards enemies.
We might not literally be leaving, or quitting our association with, a
homeland altogether. But we can at least recognize attachment and anger as something afflicting and negative. Once we have this knowledge and are aware of it during our life, it is quite similar to renouncing the homeland. Someone who is not aware of this profound wisdom will remain ignorant and continue to wander in samsara."
~ Ngolchu Thogme Rinpoche
commentary by His Eminence Garchen Rinpoche
Do Not Worry
Do not worry if our harp breaks, thousands more will appear.
We have fallen in the arms of love where all is music.
If all the harps in the world were burned down,
still inside the heart there will be hidden music playing.
Do not worry if all the candles in the world flicker and die
we have the spark that starts the fire.
The songs we sing are like foam on the surface of the sea of being
while the precious gems lie deep beneath.
But the tenderness in our songs
is a reflection of what is hidden in the depths.
Stop the flow of your words,
open the window of your heart and
let the spirit speak.
- Mevlana Jelaluddin Rumi
Note: Beirut photo is from Reuters.