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Festival of Humanity: Sagittarius Full Moon 2007

By Curtis Lang and Jane Sherry on May 31, 2007

The Gemini Solar Festival of Humanity

Welcome to the May 31, 2007 edition of the Satya Center newsletter. Warm greetings from your Editors, Curtis Lang and Jane Sherry.

Today is the Festival of Humanity, celebrated during the Full Moon in Sagittarius. The Moon is full at 9:04 pm EDT, 6:04 pm PDT, and willbe located at 10?12’ Sagittarius. The Sun will be at 10?12’ Gemini.

The Sabian symbol for this degree of Sagittarius is this: “In the left section of an archaic temple, a lamp burns in a container shaped like a human body.”

This refers to the need for us to integrate the wisdom teachings of humanity as taught by Spiritual Masters of the East and West into our nervous system, so that we respond reflexively to all the events in our busy lives with love, with compassion, with wisdom, with tolerance, and with goodwill to all.

This is extremely appropriate for today’s Full Moon Festival of Humanity, also known as the Festival of Goodwill, because today is the day that the Ascended Master Guides and Teachers of all the Mystery Schools of the East and West join together to light the flame of inner wisdom in the minds of humanity - known as Buddha Mind to the Initiates of the East. Today is the day the Ascended Masters light the flame of unconditional love in the heart of humanity. Today is the day the Ascended Masters ignite the kundalini energy slumbering at the base of the spine, and shepherd Mother Kundalini upwards on her long journey toward the Crown of Creation, in the seventh chakra, located at the top of the head, in an effort to awaken Christ Consciousness within the soul of humanity -- which is the goal of all spiritual practice.

This is the third of the three great spring festivals of the Universal Interfaith Spirituality of the New Age. The first festival of Easter celebrates the resurrection of Jesus Christ. The second festival celebrates the birth of the Buddha, his enlightenment and death, and is called Wesak. Wesak was celebrated during last month’s full moon. The Festival of Humanity is the third.

During today’s Festival of Humanity, the love of Christ and the wisdom of the Buddha are showered down upon the Earth. At this time, spiritual disciples of all paths and lineages and religions around the world receive inspiration and instructions concerning their roles and duties for the upcoming year.

The Hierarchy of Spiritual Guides and Teachers overseeing humanity’s spiritual evolution join with the Cosmic Christ and provide a roadmap of the coming seasonal cycle to all disciples, planting the seeds for all the spiritual activities that disciples are being urged to undertake during the next year.

Most importantly, the Hierarchy and the Cosmic Christ engulf the entire planet with a powerful high-frequency energetic charge known as The Will to Good, which is distributed through powerspots around the world to all willing recipients. This energy acts as a powerful stimulant, strengthening the will forces in struggling humanity, and acts as a beneficent power surge, impelling disciples on all paths to internalize the energy of Goodwill, to act with Goodwill toward all, and to strive to establish right human relations in all their activities.

The energy released on the Full Moon Festival of Humanity circulates throughout the etheric body of planet Earth for three full nights and days.

All those who wish to participate in this Festival of Humanity would do well to set aside some time during the evening of the Full Moon and for the next two nights for deep meditation.

To enhance your receptivity to these beneficent energies try these activities on the three nights of the Festival beginning with the Full Moon tonight:

1. During the time prior to the full Moon, accelerate your spiritual practice as much as possible. Attempt to remain somewhat more quiet than normal. Listen to some uplifting spiritual music, chants or mantras. Or simply make some silent time.

2. In the room where you meditate, place a crystal bowl full of Wesak water on the altar or nearby you – if you gathered it last month. Light a candle and some incense if you have these available. Play some appropriate uplifting music. Meditate during the evening hours whenever you have the time to do so. Ask for the grace and guidance you need to achieve your loftiest spiritual goals. Ask that you be ever more consciously connected to inner spiritual guidance. Ask that you be given golden opportunities to be of maximum service in the world.

Tune in to inner guidance and be alert for messages concerning the nature of your Higher Purpose and how it can best manifest during the upcoming year.

3. Recite the Great Invocation:

THE GREAT INVOCATION

From the point of light within the Mind of God
Let Light stream forth into our minds
Let LIGHT descend on Earth.

From the point of love within the Heart of God
Let Love stream forth into our hearts
May LOVE increase on Earth.

From the center where the Will of God is known
Let purpose guide our wills
The PURPOSE which the masters know and serve.

From the center which we call Humanity
Let the Plan of Love and Light work out
And may it seal the door
where evil dwells.

Let Light and Love and Power restore the Plan on Earth.
Let Light and Love and Power restore the Plan on Earth.
Let LIGHT and LOVE and POWER
restore the Planet Earth!

If you go to bed before the actual Full Moon moment, say the Great Invocation before retiring. Give thanks. During the three days of the Festival open your heart to those in need. Remember Christ’s teaching that any act of healing or kindness performed on behalf of any of your brothers and sisters is being performed for Christ himself. Recognize the Christ within all your neighbors, your family, your loved ones, your coworkers, and strangers you meet in the course of your day. Perform random acts of kindness.

Your editors, Jane Sherry and Curtis Lang, wish you good meditation, a loving and joyous Full Moon, and abundant energy to carry you along your Spiritual path during the coming year.

Top Satya Center Stories of the Week

We welcome a new Satya Center contributor -- Internationally acclaimed, award-winning journalist Palagummi Sainath, rural affairs editor for “The Hindu”, India’s national newspaper, offers us a timely meditation on “Three 9/11s and the Power of Satyagraha. Sainath contrasts the enduring power of right human relations, goodwill and nonviolent resistance embodied by Mohandas Gandhi with the eternal temptation toward violent political expression exemplified by Pinochet’s Chilean coup and the Islamic jihad that took down the Twin Towers in 2001 in New York.

“There were three 9/11s in history,” Sainath explains. “New York 2001. The bloody Chilean coup of 1973, and the non-violent one of 1906 —Gandhiji's satyagraha in South Africa. Two brought bloodshed, destruction, misery, and chaos. But the Mahatma's WMD — Weapon of Mass Disobedience — helped change the world for the better.”

Sainath brings us a frontline report from India’s rural areas where poor farmers fighting to survive in a deregulated global marketplace of neoliberal free trade are suffering “A Fate Worse Than Debt.

“Banks are turning thescrews on hard-up farmers, sending them to jail,” Sainath says. “Mind you, these are farmers in drought-hit regions with no crop and no capacity to pay.”

We also welcome another new Satya Center contributor: James Ridgeway, the Washington bureau chief for “Mother Jones” magazine introduces us to the peculiar inside-the-Beltway politics that are fueling a comeback for one of the worst-conceived energy policy scams of the Twentieth Century in his new article, “The Bipartisan SynFuel Con Job.”

“Global warming is well on its way to being a godsend for the coal industry,” Ridgeway reports. “Lobbyists are busily trying to turn dirty coal into a pleasing green alternative promoted by such Democratic luminaries as Presidential hopeful Barack Obama and former House Speaker turned lobbyist Dick Gephardt.”

“Members of Congress are falling all over themselves writing legislation that would pump millions of taxpayer dollars into schemes that promise to turn coal into synthetic gas, develop oil shale, and the most popular at the moment, plans to transform coal into a liquid oil,” Ridgeway charges.

In her new article “Snatched From the Jaws of Victory”, author and public policy analyst Paula Rothenberg dissects the current state of the women’s movement in America and discovers that what was once a radical political wave has receded into a faux-empowerment fashion statement.

“The Women's Liberation Movement I remember argued for the need for a radical transformation of all our institutions,” Rothenberg contends. “It urged women to rethink every aspect of our lives, always asking us to reflect on whose interests were served by the ways in which society was organized and by the values we had been taught to embrace.”

“Empowerment, we are now asked to believe, is not about getting an education, not about becoming economically independent, not about taking control of our bodies, not about saving the environment, not about working toward social justice, but dressing a certain way and wearing the newest version of what ever t-shirt or body piecing we choose,” argues Rothenberg. “And whose interests does this serve? Today cultural practices continue to occur within the context of unequal power relations. Racism, sexism, and class privilege are still alive and well. They frame our choices and define the meaning of what we choose.”

Satya Center contributor, Wise Woman and herbalist Susun Weed has good springtime advice for all of us growing flowers, herbs and vegetables in her new article, “Weeds in Your Garden? - Bite Back!

 

“I always say the gardener's best revenge is to eat the weeds,” Weed offers. “I've been doing it for thirty years and can testify that my health and the health of my garden has never been better. Here are a few hints for gardeners who'd rather eat their weeds than hate them (and for non-gardeners who are adventurous enough to try out nature's bounty). . .”

Satya Center also has another new Susun Weed contribution entitled, “Using Herbs Simply & Safely.”

“Are herbs ‘dilute forms of drugs’ - and therefore dangerous?” Weed asks. “Or are they ‘natural’ - and therefore safe? If you sell herbs, you probably hear these questions often. What is the ‘right’ answer? It depends on the herb! These thoughts on herbs will help you explain to your customers (and yourself) how safe - or dangerous - any herb might be. . .”

Read also a wonderful story by new Satya Center contributor, Waverly Fitzgerald entitled, “Living in Season: Learning the Names of Plants.

“In Victorian times, a young woman could not acknowledge the presence of a man until they had been properly introduced by a mutual friend,” Fitzgerald explains. “Until then he did not exist. But after the introduction, he had some claim on her attention and possibly her influence in the future. I feel the same way about plants. Once I know their names, they enter my circle of friends; they claim my attention, and sometimes make requests of me.”

For crystal healers & crystal lovers, Lightworkers and New Age rockhounds, Lemurian Seed Crystals are among the most highly prized of all crystals in the world. But knowledgeable sources tell us that the vast majority of all crystals sold as Lemurians in the United States are not Lemurians at all.

Why are they called “Seed” Crystals? Where do they come from? What makes a genuine Lemurian? What special connection do they have to the legendary ancient Lemurian civilization? And what special properties do they have that make them valuable for healers, meditators, and Lightworkers?

 

 Curtis and Jane in Philadelphia -- 1980

Curtis Lang and Jane Sherry answer all these questions, and introduce you to several new varieties of Lemurian Seed Crystals in their article on “The New Lemurians.

“We now carry several new varieties of Lemurian Seed Crystals that come from mines in the region of Minas Gerais, Brazil, near the town of Joaquin Felicio,” Satya Center editors, Jane Sherry & Curtis Lang explain. “Some of these mines are being operated by a miner who was one of the family members who originally mined Lemurian seed crystals in the Nineteen Nineties, and one of the mines, a new one, is operated by an enterprising Brazilian miner who is a newcomer to the wonderful world of Lemurian seed crystals.”

“All of these mines have uncovered new Lemurian Seed Crystals that come from a line of crystal beds along the same mountain top, all within a 20 kilometer radius of the original mine where Lemurian Seed Crystals were first discovered and categorized in the early Nineties.”

If you would like to see examples of the New Lemurians you can see and/or purchase them at the Satya Center Store in the Lemurian Section  of our Crystal Gallery.

Top Spiritual Stories From Around the Web

[Ed. Note: These are excerpts from long articles Jane and I feel are exceptional messages of love and light, with important information for all Lightworkers. If you resonate with their energy, click on the links for more. . .]

Buddhadharma
The Natural State of Happiness
By Chokyi Nyima Rinpoche, summer 2007

Happiness may be natural but it can feel very elusive unless you know how to cultivate it properly, says Chokyi Nyima Rinpoche. He presents five noble qualities that enable us to experience this ever-present happiness.

We all know, intellectually at least, that the Buddha’s dharma is not merely a topic of study, nor is it simply something to be practiced on our meditation cushions. But as we hurry through our daily lives, it is easy to forget that the quality of formal practice is intimately tied to the quality of our minds, moment to moment. Practitioners of all levels can benefit from instructions on how to enrich their own lives and the lives of others by cultivating five noble qualities that are within reach of us all: contentment, rejoicing, forgiveness, good heart, and mindfulness.

The basic nature of our mind is essentially good. The Buddha taught that all beings are buddhas covered by momentary obscurations; when those obscurations are removed, they are real buddhas. The true identity of every sentient being, not just human beings, is a state of unconditioned suchness. This is the basic nature as it is, pure and perfect. We have an inherent capacity to care for others and to understand; it’s not a product of education or upbringing. To practice the dharma means simply to develop and nurture these intrinsic qualities. That is our task, our responsibility.

According to the Buddhist approach to spirituality, the ability to care includes both loving-kindness and compassion. We aim to cultivate loving-kindness and compassion until they are boundless, totally free from partiality.

. . .In a nutshell, the real Buddhist practice is to try our best to bring forth in all beings the true sources of happiness and well-being—boundless love and compassion and the unmistaken realization of the natural state, the unconditioned innate nature—while at the same time removing the causes of suffering, which are craving, hate, and close-mindedness. That is what it really means to have a good heart.

Love and compassion can be expanded until they become boundless, genuine, and impartial, making no distinctions between friend, enemy, and stranger. We must continue in our efforts until we have removed even the slightest obstacle to our love and compassion. Only when our love and compassion have become boundless will they be truly effortless.

Meanwhile, our perseverance should be joyous and spontaneous. Such perseverance springs from our awareness of the unconditioned natural state, therefore it is not merely an admiration, yearning, or longing. As your comprehension of the profound nature becomes stronger and grows deeper, you develop a confident trust. Spontaneous, effortless compassion begins to blossom as you continue to train after having truly recognized the natural state as it actually is. Sincere compassion radiates from the deepest part of your heart. You can’t help it; it just naturally springs forth.

Before becoming aware of this natural state, we are bewildered, creating painful states all the time, but by continually training in this, we recognize that beneath everything is an unconditioned natural state. We start to notice that every selfish emotion begins to soften and subside of its own accord. As pain and worry diminish, our confused way of experiencing subsides more and more. Then we begin to really understand how other beings feel. You may ask yourself: What can I do to help them? If I don’t help them, who will? This is when real compassion overtakes you and a sincere, unchangeable devotion begins to grow within you. We call this the dawn of irreversible or unshakeable confidence.

  

Resurgence Magazine
DECONSTRUCTING DAWKINS: Five arguments for the existence of God.
By Deepak Chopra, May-June 2007

RECENTLY THERE HAS been a spate of books about God from scientists responding to the debate over intelligent design. These books raise a chorus of scepticism about the existence of God. Science stands for rational thought; faith, for superstition and unreason. The latest bestseller in this vein is Richard Dawkins’ The God Delusion.

Dawkins has written extensively on evolution, holds a chair at Oxford University, and speaks out against any possibility that God is real. He makes many points to support his claim that religion is nonsense and that there isn’t a shred of rational proof for God, miracles or the soul. Since this is such an important issue, I want to argue against him point by point.

. . .The real debate is between two worldviews:

a) The universe is random. It operates entirely through physical laws. There is no evidence of innate intelligence.

b) The universe contains design. Physical laws generate new forms that display intention. Intelligence is all-pervasive.

The second worldview can be called religious, but it’s a trap to say that only a Christian God explains intelligence in the universe. There is room for a new paradigm that preserves all the achievements of science – as upheld by the first worldview – while giving the universe meaning and significance.

ONE OF THE reasons that Dawkins’ book has touched a nerve is that many scientists are outraged by the religious tide in world affairs. Using theology as a shield, politicians are undermining the whole rational structure of scientific progress. This brings us to another major point for Dawkins: “The universe is a complex machine whose workings are steadily being demystified by science. Any other way of viewing the world is superstitious and reactionary.”

What is so strange about this argument is that Dawkins himself is totally reactionary. His defence of a material universe revealing its secrets ignores the total overthrow of materialism in modern physics. There is no world of solid objects; space-time itself depends upon shaping forces beyond both space and time. Arch-materialism is just as superstitious as religion. Someone like Dawkins still believes there are solid objects randomly colliding to haphazardly form more and more complex objects, until over the course of billions of years the universe produced human DNA with its billions of genetic bits.

What’s wrong with this argument is that if you trace DNA down to its individual atoms, each is more than 99.9% empty space. If you take an individual electron, it has no fixed position in either time or space. Rather, ghostly vibrations wink in and out of the universe thousands of times per second, and what lies beyond the boundary of the five senses holds enormous mysteries.

Enough mysteries, in fact, to be consistent with God. I don’t mean a personal God, or a mythic one, or any God with a human face. Set aside all images of God. What we observe once we get over the superstition of materialism is that random chance is one of the worst ways to explain how the universe evolved. Why?

    * The various constants in nature, such as gravity and the speed of light, are too precisely fitted with each other for this to happen by chance.

    * If any one of six constants had been off by less than a millionth of 1%, the material universe couldn’t exist.

    * Events at opposite ends of the universe are paired with each other, so that a change in the spin of one electron immediately produces a twin effect in another electron. This ability to communicate instantly across millions of light years cannot be explained by materialism. It defies all notions of cause and effect. It defies chance.

    * Every electron in the universe exists as a wave function that is everywhere at once. When this wave function collapses, we observe a specific isolated electron. Before the wave collapses, however, matter is non-local.

The ability of objects and events to be everywhere at once seems like an attribute of God-omnipresence. The ability of electrons separated by millions of light years to ‘talk’ to each other seems like another attribute of God-omniscience. This doesn’t mean that God explains the universe. It means that there may be governing forces at work which allow the existence of universal consciousness. The self-aware universe is a plausible theory.

. . .When  you get to the  primal state of the universe, what is it? A universal field that encloses all matter and energy. This field is  everywhere, but it also localises itself. A molecule in the brain is one expression of the field; so is a thought. The field turns out to be the common ground of both the inner and outer world. When Einstein said that he wanted to know the mind of God, he was pointing us towards the field, which science continues to explore.

Fortunately, as the two rivers begin to merge, we won’t be plagued by either the superstition of religion or the superstition of materialism. We will begin to link brain and mind through new concepts that will explain how the colour yellow exists in our brain as the same phenomenon as a yellow flower in the meadow. Both are experiences in consciousness.

 

Guardian UK
This fatal complacency
Desmond Tutu
Saturday May 5, 2007

Climate change is already destroying millions of lives in the poor world. But it will not stop there

What if dealing with climate change meant more than a flick of a switch? Would our friends in the industrialised world think differently if the effects of climate change were worse than extended summer months and the arrival of exotic species? Cushioned and cosseted, they have had the luxury of closing their minds to the real impact of what is happening in the fragile and precious atmosphere that surrounds the planet we live on. Where climate change has occurred in the industrialised world, the effects have so far been relatively benign. With the exception of events such as Hurricane Katrina in 2005, the inhabitants of North America and Europe have felt just a gentle caress from the winds of change.

I wonder how much more anxious they might be if they depended on the cycle of mother nature to feed their families. How much greater would their concerns be if they lived in slums and townships, in mud houses, or shelters made of plastic bags? In large parts of sub-Saharan Africa, this is a reality. The poor, the vulnerable and the hungry are exposed to the harsh edge of climate change every day of their lives.

. . .In the past 10 years, 2.6 billion people have suffered from natural disasters. That is more than a third of the global population - most of them in the developing world. The human impact is obvious, but what is not so apparent is the extent to which climatic events can undo the developmental gains put in place over decades. Droughts and floods destroy lives, but they also destroy schools, economies and opportunity.

National Catholic Reporter
The Earth Means the World to Me
John Dear S.J., On the Road to Peace
May 22, 2007

A few years ago when I moved into a handmade house, off the utility grid, powered by solar panels, no potable water in the taps, atop a mesa, in the high desert of New Mexico, I took a deliberate step toward reconnecting with the earth.

Now and then, like a desert father, I walk the austere mesa and look out on the effects of a ravaging drought. And the connections turn in my mind — between global warming and war, poverty and nuclear weapons. An ancient truth comes to mind ever more vividly: “Blessed are the meek, the gentle, the nonviolent. They shall inherit the earth.”

More and more, people are making the same connections, and from that I take heart. , On the other hand, I’m disheartened for the destruction of the earth proceeds at a rate that alarms me; reports from across the world chill my heart.

Take for example the report from the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, a 1,572-page tome. “From the poles to the tropics,” soberly said the authors, “the earth’s climate and ecosystems are already being shaped by the atmospheric buildup of greenhouse gases and face inevitable, possibly profound, alternation.”

The panel predicts widespread droughts in southern Europe and the Middle East, sub-Saharan Africa, the U.S. Southwest and Mexico, and flooding that could imperil low-lying islands and the crowded river deltas of southern Asia.

The report stressed that many of the regions facing the greatest risks were among the world’s poorest. While limits on smokestack and tailpipe emissions could lower risks, vulnerable regions must make immediate changes to deal with shifting weather patterns, climatic and coastal hazards and rising seas, the report concluded.

The report concurs with scientists around the world. A temperature rise of 3 to 5 degrees Fahrenheit over the next century will likely lead to the submersion of coasts and islands. The heating will bring about massive droughts that will kill crops and cause untold famine. Ice caps will melt further, hurricanes and typhoons will pack much stronger forces. And in the end the crisis could cause the death of millions, maybe hundreds of millions of people.

Shortly put: We are ears deep in a planetary emergency.

What to do? Everything must change. We need a culture that does not rely on fossil fuels, that does not hurt the environment, that does not poison the land, that does not use depeleted uranium or dump radioactive waste, that does not test or build nuclear weapons, that seeks to feed everyone and protect the planet itself with new nonviolent institutions.

 

Breaking News Headlines 24/7 at Satya Center 

Tune in to Satya Center’s 24/7 environmental news headlines and listen to environmental news radio from Environmental News Network at ENN EarthNews.

Top News Stories From Around the Web

[Ed. Note: These are excerpts from lengthy news stories that provide the analytical context, the intellectual framework, the historical analysis, that is so completely missing from most so-called news in the mainstream media. If you are interested in the topic, click on the link provided to read more. . .]

ZNet
It's All About Oil
by Dennis J. Kucinich
May 25, 2007

Wednesday May 23, 2007 -- Summary and Notes from Congressman Kucinich's One Hour Speech Before the United States House of Representatives On Administration's Efforts to Privatize Iraq Oil

The Iraqi "Hydrocarbon Law" is an issue of critical importance, but has been seriously mischaracterized and I want to provide the House of Representatives the facts and evidence to support the concerns I have expressed.

As you know, the Administration set several benchmarks for the Iraqi government, including passage of the "Hydrocarbon Law" by the Iraqi Parliament. The Administration has emphasized only a small part of this law, the "fair" distribution of oil revenues. Consider the fact that the Iraqi "Hydrocarbon Law" contains a mere three sentences that generally discusses the "fair" distribution of oil.

Except for three scant lines, the entire 33 page "Hydrocarbon Law," is about creating a complex legal structure to facilitate the privatization of Iraqi oil. As such, it in imperative that all of us carefully read the Iraqi Parliament's bill because the Congress is on the record in promoting oil privatization.

This war is about oil.

We must not be party to the Administration's blatant attempt to set the stage for multinational oil companies to take over Iraq's oil resources.

AsiaTimesOnline
May 17, 2007
DISPATCHES FROM AMERICA
The case for imperial liquidation
By Chalmers Johnson

In politics, as in medicine, a cure based on a false diagnosis is almost always worthless, often worsening the condition that is supposed to be healed. The United States today suffers from a plethora of public ills. Most of them can be traced to the militarism and imperialism that have led to the near-collapse of the country's constitutional system of checks and balances. Unfortunately, none of the remedies proposed so far by American politicians or analysts addresses the root causes of the problem.

According to an NBC (National Broadcasting Co) News/Wall Street Journal poll released on April 26, some 78% of Americans believe their country to be headed in the wrong direction. Only 22% think the Bush administration's policies make sense, the lowest number on this question since October 1992, when George H W Bush was running for a second presidential term - and lost. What people don't agree on are the reasons for their doubts and, above all, what the remedy - or remedies - ought to be.

The range of opinions on this is immense. Even though large numbers of US voters vaguely suspect that the failings of the political system itself led their country into its current crisis, most evidently expect the system to perform a course correction more or less automatically. As Adam Nagourney of the New York Times reported, by the end of March, at least 280,000 US citizens had already contributed some US$113.6 million to the presidential campaigns of Hillary Rodham Clinton, Barack Obama, John Edwards, Mitt Romney, Rudolph Giuliani, and John McCain.

If these people actually believe a presidential election a year and a half from now will significantly alter how the country is run, they have almost surely wasted their money. As Andrew Bacevich, author of The New American Militarism, [1] puts it: "None of the Democrats vying to replace President Bush is doing so with the promise of reviving the system of check and balances ... The aim of the party out of power is not to cut the presidency down to size but to seize it, not to reduce the prerogatives of the executive branch but to regain them."

The New York Times
Russia Strikes Caspian Sea Pipeline Deal
By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
Published: May 12, 2007
Filed at 6:36 a.m. ET

TURKMENBASHI, Turkmenistan (AP) -- The leaders of Russia, Turkmenistan and Kazakhstan reached a landmark pipeline deal on Saturday that will strengthen Moscow's control over Central Asia's energy export routes.

The deal to build a pipeline along the Caspian Sea coast to ship Turkmen natural gas to Western markets via Kazakhstan and Russia is a blow to U.S. and European efforts to secure alternatives to Middle East oil and gas that would be independent from Russian influence.

National Farmers’ Union
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE - MAY 11, 2007
LOWEST FOOD SUPPLIES IN 50 OR 100 YEARS: GLOBAL FOOD CRISIS EMERGING

SASKATOON, Sask.-Today, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) released its first projections of world grain supply and demand for the coming crop year: 2007/08. USDA predicts supplies will plunge to a 53-day equivalent-their lowest level in the 47-year period for which data exists.

"The USDA projects global grain supplies will drop to their lowest levels on record. Further, it is likely that, outside of wartime, global grain supplies have not been this low in a century, perhaps longer," said NFU Director of Research Darrin Qualman.

Most important, 2007/08 will mark the seventh year out of the past eight in which global grain production has fallen short of demand. This consistent shortfall has cut supplies in half-down from a

115-day supply in 1999/00 to the current level of 53 days. "The world is consistently failing to produce as much grain as it uses," said Qualman. He continued: "The current low supply levels are not the result of a transient weather event or an isolated production problem: low supplies are the result of a persistent drawdown trend."

In addition to falling grain supplies, global fisheries are faltering. Reports in respected journals Science and Nature state that 1/3 of ocean fisheries are in collapse, 2/3 will be in collapse by 2025, and our ocean fisheries may be virtually gone by 2048. "Aquatic food systems are collapsing, and terrestrial food systems are under tremendous stress," said Qualman.

Demand for food is rising rapidly. There is a worldwide push to proliferate a North American-style meat-based diet based on intensive livestock production-turning feedgrains into meat in this way means exchanging 3 to 7 kilos of grain protein for one kilo of meat protein. Population is rising-2.5 billion people will join the global population in the coming decades.

"Every six years, we're adding to the world the equivalent of a North American population. We're trying to feed those extra people, feed a growing livestock herd, and now, feed our cars, all from a static farmland base. No one should be surprised that food production can't keep up," said Qualman.

Qualman said that the converging problems of natural gas and fertilizer constraints, intensifying water shortages, climate change, farmland loss and degradation, population increases, the proliferation of livestock feeding, and an increasing push to divert food supplies into biofuels means that we are in the opening phase of an intensifying food shortage.

 

Common Dreams NewsCenter  
Published on Saturday, May 19, 2007 by CommonDreams.org
Migration and Corn
by Sally Kohn

Thankfully, immigration reform is progressing in Congress. There are 12 million undocumented immigrants in the United States who have made invaluable contributions to our culture and economy and deserve the basic rights and dignity that citizenship provides.

Yet some nasty provisions stand out in the compromise Senate legislation - prioritizing highly-skilled English speaking immigrants over working class immigrants and people of color whose families are already here, and blocking the opportunity of citizenship for future “guestworkers”, continuing the two-tiered system of discrimination and exploitation that currently exists. Instead, if we examined the root causes of migration, we might actually help - rather than punish - immigrants.

And here “root” cause is not just a metaphor. The seeds of the immigration dynamics we now face are planted on the U.S. side of the border, the kernel of which is corn. Corn is what causes migration and corn is the only way the injustices of immigration, on both sides of the border, will ever be solved.

As the birth nation of just over half of the undocumented immigrants in the United States, Mexico provides a good example. Although agriculture is less than 5% of Mexico’s gross domestic product, more than a quarter of Mexican’s still make their living as farmers. And most of the poorest of those farmers grow corn. Over 60% of Mexico’s cultivated land is planted with corn, most of which are small family plots. In all, 18 million Mexicans, including farmers and their families, rely on corn for their livelihood.

Enter NAFTA in 1994, which opened the U.S.-Mexico border to trade. It’s worth noting that before the wealthy nations in the European Union like France and German expanded trade with poorer nations like Portugal and Greece, the wealthier countries first transferred huge sums of money to the poorer nations, to build their infrastructure and help get them to the equal footing necessary for trade to work. Not so with Mexico. The United States (1990 GDP: $23,130 - a.k.a. Goliath) became “equal trading partners” with Mexico (1990 GDP: $6,090 - a.k.a. David).

On top of that, corn production in the United States is heavily subsidized. Under the farm bill, which is up for reauthorization this year, we taxpayers give over $25 billion each year mainly to large, industrial corporate farms. And the more corn the factory farms produce, the more money they make. That means there are big corporations with mounds of corn on their hands that they can sell for cheap because they’ve already made plenty off the subsidies. Cheap corporate corn floods the Mexican market, drowning local producers.

So what’s the result? Imported corn now dominates the Mexican market. For instance, in Mexico - the birthplace of corn - one-out-of-three tortillas is now made with imported maize. An estimated two million family farmers who can’t compete with subsidized U.S. corn have been driven from their land. They now have to buy imported corn to feed their families but don’t have the income to afford it. Meanwhile, American politicians following the instructions of corporate farm lobbyists start pushing ethanol. Even though the “alternative” fuel actually wastes more energy than it produces, it’s made from corn so agribusiness loves it. The new demand for corn drives up prices. And so the price of a tortilla in Mexico has risen 279% since NAFTA. The overall effect impacts not only farmers but all Mexicans, especially the poor. Since NAFTA, poverty in Mexico has increased. As of 2001, over 80% of people in rural Mexico were living in poverty.

So is it any wonder that as more and more U.S. corn flows to Mexico, more and more Mexicans cross the border to the U.S.


The New York Times
May 7, 2007
As Pope Heads to Brazil, a Rival Theology Persists
By LARRY ROHTER

SÃO PAULO, Brazil, May 2 — In the early 1980s, when Pope John Paul II wanted to clamp down on what he considered a dangerous, Marxist-inspired movement in the Roman Catholic Church, liberation theology, he turned to a trusted aide: Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger.

Now Cardinal Ratzinger is Pope Benedict XVI, and when he arrives here on Wednesday for his first pastoral visit to Latin America he may be surprised at what he finds. Liberation theology, which he once called “a fundamental threat to the faith of the church,” persists as an active, even defiant force in Latin America, home to nearly half the world’s one billion Roman Catholics.

Over the past 25 years, even as the Vatican moved to silence the clerical theorists of liberation theology and the church fortified its conservative hierarchy, the social and economic ills the movement highlighted have worsened. In recent years, the politics of the region have also drifted leftward, giving the movement’s demand that the church embrace “a preferential option for the poor” new impetus and credibility.

Today some 80,000 “base communities,” as the grass-roots building blocks of liberation theology are called, operate in Brazil, the world’s most populous Roman Catholic nation, and nearly one million “Bible circles” meet regularly to read and discuss scripture from the viewpoint of the theology of liberation.

ZNet - Corporate Globalization
Free Trade vs. Small Farmers
by Walden Bello; Fpif.org; May 02, 2007

        The 20th century was a terrible blight on small farmers everywhere. In both wealthy capitalist economies and in socialist countries, farmers paid a heavy price for industrialization. In advanced capitalist countries like the United States, a deadly combination of economies of scale, capital-intensive technology, and the market led to large corporations cornering agricultural production and processing. Small and medium farms were relegated to a marginal role in production and a minuscule portion of the work force.

        The Soviet Union, meanwhile, took to heart Karl Marx's snide remarks about the “idiocy of rural life” and, through state repression, transformed farmers into workers on collective farms. Expropriation of the peasants' surplus production was meant not only to feed the cities but also to serve as the source of the so-called “primitive accumulation” of capital for industrialization.

        Today, perhaps the greatest threat to small farmers is free trade. And the farmers are fighting back. They have helped, for instance, to stalemate the Doha round of negotiations of the World Trade Organization (WTO). This tug of war between farmers and free trade is nowhere more visible than in Asia.

Energy Bulletin
Published on 3 May 2007 by Truthout. Archived on 5 May 2007.
Birth of a new biofuel: agrichar (terra preta)
by Kelpie Wilson

Terrigal, New South Wales, Australia - As delegates met in Bangkok this week to debate climate change solutions contained in the IPCC's latest report, one technology not mentioned in the draft report was being closely examined at a conference in Australia in the beach town of Terrigal, just north of Sydney.

The first meeting of the International Agrichar Initiative convened about 100 scientists, policymakers, farmers and investors with the goal of birthing an entire new industry to produce a biofuel that goes beyond carbon neutral and is actually carbon negative. The industry could provide a "wedge" of carbon reduction amounting to a minimum of ten percent of world emissions and possibly much more.

Agrichar is the term not for the biomass fuel, but for what is left over after the energy is removed: a charcoal-based soil amendment. In simple terms, the agrichar process takes dry biomass of any kind and bakes it in a kiln to produce charcoal. The process is called pyrolysis. Various gases and bio-oils are driven off the material and collected to use in heat or power generation. The charcoal is buried in the ground, sequestering the carbon that the growing plants had pulled out of the atmosphere. The end result is increased soil fertility and an energy source with negative carbon emissions.

Meditation Moment: A Prison Evening























Each star a rung,
night comes down the spiral
staircase of the evening.

The breeze passes by so very close
as if someone just happened to speak of love.

In the courtyard,
the trees are absorbed refugees
embroidering maps of return on the sky.

On the roof,
the moon -- lovingly, generously --
is turning the stars
into a dust of sheen.

From every corner, dark-green shadows, in ripples, come towards me.
At any moment they may break over me,
like the waves of pain each time I remember this separation from my lover.

This thought keeps consoling me:
though tyrants may command that lamps be smashed
in rooms where lovers are destined to meet,
they cannot snuff out the moon, so today,
nor tomorrow, no tyranny will succeed,
no poison or torture make me bitter,
if just one evening in prison
can be so strangely sweet,
if just one moment anywhere on this earth.

-- Faiz Ahmed Faiz (1911-1984)