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Full Moon in Taurus Scorpio Solar Festival November 2008 Cosmic Weather Forecast

By Curtis Lang and Jane Sherry on Nov 12, 2008

It is the best of times; it is the worst of times!

Welcome to the November edition of the SatyaCenter newsletter. Warm greetings from your Editor Curtis Lang.

Spiritual guidance has warned us for many years that we are on the brink of dramatic global change.

Recall the prophesies of the dawning of the Age of Aquarius. Many proponents of the New Age expect the consciousness of humanity to be elevated as our energy ascends from a third-chakra emphasis on individuality and personal power to a fourth chakra heart-centered awareness based upon loving wisdom, compassion and mindful stewardship of the entire web of life.

Astrologer Robert Hand calculates the first star in Pisces to cross the vernal point at 111 BC, which would place the Age of Aquarius to begin near 2,060 AD. Others say the true date is 1997, or 2012, or 2160. No matter how you do the math, we are on the cusp of a New Age.

Check out the Mayan Calendar and the theories concerning the end of history as we know it in 2012. “On the winter solstice of 2012, the noonday Sun exactly conjuncts the crossing point of the sun's ecliptic with the galactic plane, while also closely conjuncting the exact the center of the galaxy,” according to the website “All About 2012”.

Researchers vary in their take on this cosmic watershed event. Some say we will ascend to a higher consciousness, others that the Earth will be ravaged by volcanic eruptions, earthquakes and floods.

The shadow side of this epochal cultural shift can be seen in the dramatic fears of fundamentalist Christians and Moslems who expect Armageddon, apocalypse, global destruction and the return of the Chosen One, all in our own lifetimes.

Yet we are all haunted by a vague feeling that we are following a script that we have read before, that we are reliving a variation on ancient themes of epochal transition.

Are we about to re-enact the Atlantis catastrophe?

Will we engage in a global conflict as bloody and final as that of the Mahabharata, which marked the end of the Age of Warrior-Kings in Ancient India and Asia, and ushered in a new age, the Kali Yuga, the Iron Age in which we now live?

We are being haunted by the ghosts of karmas past and present, aware that our own mistakes, sins and omissions are about to blossom into a series of global crises, financial, political and environmental. For the time of transition is also the time of testing. Times of spiritual evolution are often times of cultural and political revolution. And revolutions tend to eat their own children. This we know from history.

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to heaven, we were all going direct the other way - in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only,” said Charles Dickens, describing the time of the tumultuous French revolution in his epic novel “A Tale of Two Cities”, published in 1812.

As for 21st century humanity, we seem to be watching a rerun of the story Charles Dickens had described in Paris in the eighteenth century.

Good news! It is the best of times! Despite well-justified fears of a stolen election, Barack Obama has been elected President of the United States in a landslide victory that is re-defining the image of our country and our people here at home and around the world.

We are entering a new era here in the United States. Our people and our country unleashed an eight year campaign of no-holds-barred global warfare based upon the tidal wave of fear generated on 9/11/2001. This month we have unleashed a tsunami of hope.

Bad news! It is the worst of times! America’s financial crisis is definitely not over, and it will be months before President-elect Obama and the new Democratic Congress can begin to put out the raging economic firestorm. Will they be too late to prevent a disaster?

Meanwhile, President-elect Obama has surrounded himself with a coterie of Washington insiders, ex-Wall Street tycoons, and hard-core hawkish warrior-politicians, creating a small cloud of doubt that threatens to overshadow the new dawn we hope to see on our national horizon.

It’s clear that the massive social movement that elected Barack Obama our new President must demand a restoration of Constitutional government, civil rights, Wall Street and banking reforms, help for middle class and working class families, a Green New Deal, cutbacks in America’s bloated defense budget, and an end to our foreign policy of Imperial conquest.

If we are to rise up and fulfill our full potential, if we are to achieve our Higher Purpose, we must be willing to stretch ourselves to new heights, to leave our comfort zone and enter a new land with no map or compass. We must find ways to get our leaders to listen, and to make the changes that most Americans know are essential to our future and the future of our children.

This is a lot to ask. I know that here at Satya Center it is very difficult to find the time to devote to our spiritual practices, to interact with our little virtual community, to manage our online store, to provide more assistance to our aging elders, to teach Reiki, to work on book projects and to search out new ways to be of service, including whatever forms of spiritual-political activism we find most compelling. Just writing it all down is enough to make me tired! It’s hard to maintain an active spiritual practice and also participate in community politics, national politics, or global political struggles. No doubt about that.

And yet we all know that we cannot place our futures in the hands of political leaders, corporations, celebrities and authority figures. So why not go to Avaaz.organd join the hundreds of thousands of people in 224 countries around the world who are sending personal messages to President-elect Obama, giving him fresh ideas, emotional and spiritual support, and much-needed positive energy?

“After 8 long years of Bush - a fresh start,” exult the organizers of Avaaz.org. “The world is seizing this historic and hopeful moment to send a flood of global messages to Obama. Our message and number of signers as well as the personal messages sent are displayed on a large wall in the centre of Washington D.C.

“Over the last 24 hours, the wall has hit the front pages of the Washington Post, USA Today and other leading newspapers in the US, alongside CNN, BBC, Al Jazeera and other global media. A massive global response, this moment is redefining the future relationship between the US and the world -- let's get to a million!”

Go to Avaaz.organd send your message to Obama today!

Let this be a first hopeful step, dipping a toe into the waters of spiritual activism. Because it is only through an ongoing dialogue with our leaders that we can find a way to create a workable new social contract that leaves no one behind, protects the environment and prepares our children for life in the 21st century.

It is not enough to simply buy a hybrid car, buy local produce and give up frivolous vacations thousands of miles from home.

It is not enough to meditate and send positive energy to the grid around the Earth. It is not enough to join an organization dedicated to social justice, or environmental protection, or community development and write a check or fill out forms at a website to send to Congress.

It is not enough to go door to door in support of our favorite politician or cause. No, the universe asks much more of us than that.

We must learn to do both the inner work and the outer work. We must learn to participate in groups working on both the subtle levels and in the messy political arena.

We must attempt to elevate our consciousness and simultaneously maintain an acute awareness of current events and we must work actively to bring about positive change – political change, social change, and a change in consciousness.

The universe asks us to reach out to our brothers and sisters in our neighborhood, our country, and around the world, to unite our efforts with those of a community of like-minded people, in a strenuous and sustained effort to create a new society based upon caring co-operation, social justice and environmental stewardship.

This is what the Spirit of the Times, the zeitgeist, demands from us. This is what our karma demands of us. This is what our planet demands of us. This is what our Spiritual Guides and Teachers hope for us. Their hope is our promised land, and our hope is the thread we follow to reach our highest spiritual goals.

This is no trivial matter. Just ask Van Jones. Van Jones is founding president of “Green For All” and a senior fellow with the Center for American Progress. He is also the author of “The Green Collar Economy”. “Green For All” is a U.S. organization that promotes green-collar jobs and opportunities for the disadvantaged. Its mission is to build an inclusive, green economy - strong enough to resolve the ecological crisis and lift millions of people out of poverty.

“Bringing people of different races and classes and backgrounds together under a single banner is tougher than it sounds,” says Van. “I have been trying to bridge this divide for nearly a decade. And I learned a few things along the way.”

“What I found is that leaders from impoverished areas like Oakland, California, tended to focus on three areas: social justice, political solutions and social change,” Van Jones explains. “They cared primarily about ‘the people.’ They focused their efforts on fixing schools, improving healthcare, defending civil rights and reducing the prison population. Their ‘social change’ work involved lobbying, campaigning and protesting. They were wary of businesses; instead, they turned to the political system and government to help solve the problems of the community.”

“The leaders I met from affluent places like MarinCounty (just north of San Francisco), San Francisco and Silicon Valley had what seemed to be the opposite approach. Their three focus areas were ecology, business solutions and ‘inner change,’ Van reports. “They were champions of ‘the planet’ -- rainforests and important species like whales and polar bears. Many were dedicated to inner-change work, including meditation and yoga. And they put a great deal of stress on making wise, earth-honoring consumer choices. In fact, many were either green entrepreneurs or investors in eco-friendly businesses.”

“Every effort I made to get the two groups together initially was a disaster -- sometimes ending in tears, anger and slammed doors. Trying to make sense of the differences, I wrote out three binaries on a napkin:   

1. Ecology vs. Social Justice    

2. Business Solutions (Entrepreneurship) vs. Political Solutions (Activism)  

3. Spiritual/Inner Change vs. Social/Outer Change

“People on both sides of the equation tended to think that their preferences precluded any serious consideration of the options presented on the opposite side,” Van reports.

”Increasingly, I saw the value and importance of both approaches. I thought, What would we have if we replaced those ‘versus’ symbols with ‘plus’ signs? What if we built a movement at the intersection of the ecology and social justice movements, of entrepreneurship and activism, of inner change and social change? What if we didn't just have hybrid cars -- what if we had a hybrid movement?”

Well, can we do something that difficult? Can we combine spirit and politics without succumbing to the well-known evils of priestly political castes the world over? Van Jones says, “Yes, we can!”

Visit Green for All to find out more about how you can join the social movement to create a Green New Deal that will create millions of jobs, save the environment and forge new bonds of trust and co-operation between inner cities and suburbs, between meditators and community organizers, and between the winners and losers in today’s hyper-competitive economic free-for-all.

To understand more fully the challenges and the rewards of spiritual activism, let us attend to the work and words of Rev. John Dear.

John Dear is a Jesuit priest, peace activist, and the author of more than 20 books. He has served as the director of the Fellowship of Reconciliation, and after 9/11, as a coordinator of chaplains for the Red Cross at the New York Family Assistance Center. He has traveled the war zones of the world, been arrested 75 times for peace activism, and given thousands of lectures on peace across the country. He lives in New Mexico, and was recently nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize by Archbishop Desmond Tutu. For information about his books, articles and speaking schedule, see his website.

Rev. Dear spoke about the recent American election and how all those involved in electing Barack Obama need to continue to work in a movement that will fight for financial democracy, middle class homeowners, inner city families, environmental protection, and social justice. That movement is what can empower the American people to be the change we want to see!

“I hope that the energy that the election unleashed among young people, and people across all walks of life, indeed people around the world, will lead everyone to work for disarmament and justice for the rest of their lives,” says Rev. Dear. “It's vitally important that those who got involved in the campaign for political change stay involved in the lifelong struggle for global change. Therein lies our true hope.”

“Which is why, when asked about my hopes for President-elect Obama, I confessed that I don't place my hope in any regime or administration or government,” Rev. Dear continues.“I want us to pursue the frontiers of Gospel hope. So I place my hope in the God of peace, the nonviolent Jesus, and the Spirit of active nonviolence. It's the Holy Spirit that pushes us to side with the poor, to create social justice, disarm our weapons and protect creation. This work is the work of a lifetime, the work of God, the work of all of us, and we need the Creator, the Christ, the Spirit, to lead us in creating a new world of peace.”

“Can we in this new moment, this new opening, work even harder for that new world without war, poverty, nuclear weapons and global warming?” asks Rev. Dear. “Can we each do our part to carry on Jesus' work of proclaiming God's reign? Can we help the church become that Gospel community of audacious peacemaking, welcoming love, boundless compassion, disarming forgiveness, and social justice? Can we give our lives for that vision, that hope, that Gospel call, and be faithful to the journey?”

Rev. Dear says, “. . . Yes we can!”

 

Cosmic Weather Forecast

Taurus Full SuperMoon and Scorpio Solar Festival

Wednesday night we celebrate the Taurus Full SuperMoon and Scorpio Solar Festival, at 1:19 am EST, and 10:19 pm PST in America.

A SuperMoon occurs when the moon is at its closest approach to Earth during a new or full moon. The SuperMoon amplifies tidal currents, activates extreme weather patterns, supercharges emotional reactions, and elevates the energetic signature found in the sky during this unusual celestial event.

This Full Moon represents a crossroads in the Mayan Calendar, a milestone on the way to the historical watershed moment of 2012. According to astrologer Stephanie Austin, writing in “The Mountain Astrologer”, “from November 18, 2007 to November 12, 2008, we have been experiencing the 5th Night, a period fraught with economic upheaval as we witness the increasing breakdown of materialistic values and hierarchical structures. On the day of this Full Moon, we begin the 6th Day, representing the dawning of a new direction and a new era.”

Mayan scholar Carl Johan Calleman describes this turning point moment as “the shift from chaos to the enlightened world.” He says that “we are talking about the emergence of an entirely new species of human being”, and predicts that during this period, which lasts through November 7, 2009, we will see the emergence of huge numbers of people into a more elevated global consciousness.

There are signs it’s happening already! Here’s something you didn’t see on the TV news in America, obsessed as we were with our Presidential election cycle this fall. On October 18-20, 166.99 million people participated in a weekend of co-operative action and demonstrations against poverty in over 131 countries.

The event, called “Stand Up, Take Action!”, was designed to promote awareness of the United Nations’ anti-poverty program and its benchmark “Millennium Development Goals”, which are essential to-do items if humanity is to end poverty around the world.

These goals include: eradicating extreme hunger and poverty, providing for universal primary education, promoting gender equality and empowering women, reducing child mortality, combating HIV/AIDS, ensuring environmental sustainability, and developing a global partnership for development including both rich and poor nations.

These Millennium Development Goals could be achieved with an expenditure of some $16 billion per year, but the goals have been all but ignored by rich nations during the global financial crisis, which has hit the poorest people on Earth much worse than anyone in America.

The World Bank estimates that high food and energy prices have pushed another 100 million people into poverty this year alone.

Yet this fall, self-absorbed rich nations pledged only $16 billion between now and 2015 to reach these UN Development goals, which comes to between $2 and $3 billion a year. That same week, the US found $700 billion to aid Wall Street financiers and bankers.

And that doesn’t count the money the Fed has been providing to gigantic financial institutions on the sly. Bloomberg News reports that “The Federal Reserve is refusing to identify the recipients of almost $2 trillion of emergency loans from American taxpayers or the troubled assets the central bank is accepting as collateral.” (See the full story below in our “Top News Stories From Around the Web”.)


Visit the website of the “Global Call to Action Against Poverty”, for more information, for hints on how you can take action against poverty, and to volunteer as part of this global mass movement.

There are many who say that we can never end poverty, and that the disparity between rich and poor is bound to widen even more as we enter the difficult transition to a post-carbon 21st century world. But 166.99 million people shouted out loud and clear this October, “Yes, we can!”

In fact, “Yes, we can!” is the motto of this Full Moon and Scorpio Solar Festival. The Sabian symbol for the Moon at 22˚ Taurus is “White dove flying over troubled waters; the spiritual inspiration that comes to the individual in the overcoming of crisis.”

And the Sabian symbol for the Sun at 22˚ Scorpio is “Hunters shooting wild ducks; the socially accepted release of an individual’s or a group’s aggressive instincts.”

The message here is clear. We are called upon to act upon the inner planes and in the outer world.

This Full Moon the Holy Spirit is abroad in the land, to provide love and wisdom to our troubled hearts and minds. We need only to tune in, turn inward, and listen quietly. This deep communion with Spirit will provide us with the answers we seek. This is the inner work.

This Full Moon we are called to channel our anger about inequality, wasted resources, greed, war, and environmental destruction into constructive channels that can provide nourishment for the family, for the community. We are called upon to act in the outer world with the care, the respect, the force and the concentration of the successful hunter. This is the outer work.

This Full Moon we are being given the energy, the inspiration and the outlets we need to do the inner work and the outer work. And this is just the beginning. Developing the ability to do both inner and outer work is the basic requirement for the 21st century citizen, for the forging of the global community which will usher in the Aquarian Age, the post-2012 dawning of a new collective consciousness and a new brotherhood and sisterhood among all people.

It is appropriate for us to give thanks for the timely help, inspiration, energy and Divine guidance we are being given from Spirit, and from our chosen Guides and Teachers this month.

We are only two weeks from Thanksgiving, a major holiday here in America.

Let us give thanks to the Universe for all the many gifts we have been given in our lives that have helped us to advance spiritually. Let us give thanks to our parents, to our ancestors, to our spiritual teachers, to the long lineage of teachers that preceded them, and to our friends, our neighbors, our families and all those who have touched our lives.

Let us give thanks in advance for the spiritual gifts we know we shall receive when we are fully prepared, for we are certain that even now, although we experience the ups and downs of daily existence, the brightening and the darkening of consciousness that comes in cycles as we travel the peaks and valleys of life, we will reach our goal – if not today, then tomorrow, if not this lifetime, then in the next, if not in this world, then in the Realm of Spirit.

For this is the promise of all Wisdom Teachings, that the spiritual evolution of humanity is part of the unfolding consciousness that comprises the totality of the Universe, and each of us shares in that consciousness. “Tat tvam asi”, “Thou art That”, is the Mahâvâkya (Grand Pronouncement) from the Chandogya Upanishad.

Let us recall the promise of the Cosmic Christ, expressed in John (14:12) “Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father.”

Let us recall in all humility that service to humanity is the inevitable fruit of gratitude and let us all ask our Spiritual Guides and Teachers at this time of Thanksgiving to provide us with golden opportunities to be of maximum service in the world during the coming year.

Let us extend love offerings to our family, friends, neighbors, and especially to those who grew the food for our Thanksgiving feast during long seasons of labor in sun and rain and wind, and to those who will cook it!

As I look around me this Thanksgiving, I am surrounded by abundance, blessed with abundance in every aspect of my life. I have a warm, snug home in the country where we can grow fresh food, get fresh air & commune with nature. We are surrounded by farmland and woods, and we have delicious lacto fermented foods 'put by' for winter that came from our own garden. We have an abundance of squash, carrots & potatoes from the farm down the road, also 'put by' for those frosty days deep in winter when we dream of next years' gardens.

We have a closet full of fine quartz crystals, and two more closets full of dried herbs, tinctures, flower essences, essential oils and other ingredients for Jane’s Homemade Herbal Toiletries, teas, tinctures and remedies.

We have some money in the bank.

We live in a natural power spot, full of beauty, enlivened with the daily rhythms of agricultural work, and with the daily comings and goings of our many animal friends that live up and down our road – songbirds that awaken us with their celebration of life, cows, dogs, cats, hawks, turkeys, crows, buzzards, horses, deer, fox, chickens, sheep, coyotes and more.

Jane and I are blessed with a view of the Catskill mountains from our living room window, and we see spectacular sunsets all four seasons of the year from our front yard. Climb a hundred yards up the hill behind our house and you can see for a hundred and fifty miles up and down the Hudson River valley.

Jane and I are blessed to have the time to engage in a daily spiritual practice, and to have had the opportunity to study with a number of exceptionally gifted guides and teachers in this lifetime. For this we are continuously grateful.

Most important of all, Jane and I are blessed through a multitude of gratifying relationships. We thank our neighbors who care for one another. We thank our families for their support and love. Without that we would be impoverished indeed.

We wish to especially thank all those who contribute their stories, their poetry, their wisdom, their time and their efforts to the Satya Center website for without them there would be no Satya Center. We wish to thank our many dear readers who make the website a worthwhile endeavor. We wish to thank our many friends, near and far, with whom we communicate and share a tremendous energy, with whom we share our lives.

Our challenges at this historic moment are great, and the way before us steep and thorny. The path of ascension is a path of danger, sacrifice, and constant struggle. Can we as a species rise to the occasion? As I feel my heart open to you all tonight, I can only say what I know is in your hearts as well. “Yes, we can!”

May you each receive the grace and guidance you need to achieve your loftiest goals in life! Happy Thanksgiving!

TopSatyaCenter Stories of the Week

In a new article entitled “Financing Poverty: How the Global Financial Casino Impoverishes the Planet” renowned scientists and environmental activists Dr. Mae-Wan Ho and Professor Peter Saunders sound the call for a totally new economic paradigm.

“Taxpayer's money is being misused in the global financial crisis to rescue those that have grown super-rich by draining the real economy, creating poverty, and fuelling the destruction of the earth,” Dr. Ho and Prof. Saunders contend. “It's time to replace the dominant model with a circular eco-economy that mimics nature in maximising the efficient use of renewable energies, the sequestering of carbon from the atmosphere, and the recycling of ‘wastes’ into resources. This circular economy will prove itself most effectively in organic, localised food and energy systems that can free us from fossil fuels while feeding and energizing the world.”

Award-winning journalist Palagummi Sainath, who writes about starving farmers and untouchables in India’s rural areas for “The Hindu” newspaper takes a South Asian view of the American election in his thought-provoking article, “Obama's Magic Moment”. Sainath is concerned about prospects for peace in India’s back yard, including Afghanistan and Pakistan, under an Obama administration.

“What will Obama's election mean for the rest of the world?” asks Sainath. “. . .Hopefully, much of what Obama said about acting unilaterally on Pakistani soil was part of the rhetoric of the campaign trail. Perhaps he will now discard the idea. If lucky, he will not escalate the war in Afghanistan, maybe the most wretched nation on earth, though he said he would. Will he steer the United States more quickly out of Iraq? How will he lead a nation where powerful forces still believe economic decline can and must be offset by military might?

“For the moment, though, the idea of the first African-American family ever to occupy the White House in history overrides every other fact, issue and thought,” Sainath continues. “And justly so. For a community that endured the worst forms of slavery and oppression for centuries, this was their proudest moment.”

Breaking News Headlines 24/7 at SatyaCenter
Tune in to SatyaCenter’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. . .]

Published on National Catholic Reporter Conversation Cafe
The audacity of peace
By John Dear SJ
Created Nov 11 2008 - 10:34

This weekend, Barack Obama just freshly elected, I joined 2,500 Catholics at the annual Call to Action conference in Milwaukee. A spirit of hope hovered in the air. And in the air, too, was a general agreement that, the election notwithstanding, our work must continue. We need to keep pushing for an end to the U.S. wars on Iraq and Afghanistan. We still need to work to eradicate poverty, hunger, disease, corporate greed and environmental destruction. We still need to work for a more just society. Shortly put, we too have to be hopemakers, and carry on the hard work of making our hope -- a world of peace -- come true.

Being hopemakers, a synonym for peacemakers -- this was the theme of my talks. It is up to us to pursue the audacity of peace, to practice the nonviolence of Jesus, and in the process, to help the church reclaim its peacemaking vocation. Need it be added, despite the election, we have our work cut out for us.

Benedictine Sr. Joan Chittister, at the recent California Women's Conference, put the matter bluntly: "War is obsolete." Hers is a kind of leading-edge insight -- an insight destined to pass one day soon into conventional wisdom -- and I agree with it. The days of war are over. And we must make it known.

Just because Obama will become president, we dare not sit back. Now is the time to build and sustain a movement for the abolition of war itself. And it can begin with the immediate end of the evil U.S. war on Iraq.

And with the $10 billion we'll save each month we can rebuild the economy, feed the starving masses, and create jobs that protect and restore creation. We can follow by dismantling our nuclear weapons and retire the star wars program and disperse the funds from these to meet human needs, beginning with those of the poor.

The election was "a terrific symbolic victory," said my friend Fr. Simon Harak, S.J., director of the MarquetteCenter for Peacemaking in Milwaukee. "But it means we have a lot of work to do to make that symbol into a reality for all of us. The peace movement cannot conclude our job is done. We have to work as hard as ever."

Benedictine Sr. Anne McCarthy echoed his sentiment. "The wars, the poverty, the nuclear weapons continue, and so our work must continue too. We will keep on vigiling for an end to the Iraq war and working for peace and justice."

I hope that the energy that the election unleashed among young people, and people across all walks of life, indeed people around the world, will lead everyone to work for disarmament and justice for the rest of their lives. It's vitally important that those who got involved in the campaign for political change stay involved in the lifelong struggle for global change. Therein lies our true hope.

Which is why, when asked about my hopes for President-elect Obama, I confessed that I don't place my hope in any regime or administration or government. I want us to pursue the frontiers of Gospel hope. So I place my hope in the God of peace, the nonviolent Jesus, and the Spirit of active nonviolence. It's the Holy Spirit that pushes us to side with the poor, to create social justice, disarm our weapons and protect creation. This work is the work of a lifetime, the work of God, the work of all of us, and we need the Creator, the Christ, the Spirit, to lead us in creating a new world of peace.

Throughout the conference, I pondered a phone call I got Tuesday night as I watched the election returns. It was from Carlos Santana, the legendary rock star, calling to thank me for my autobiography, A Persistent Peace, which he had picked up at a small bookstore in Los Angeles. He wanted to talk about the work of peace and the spiritual dimensions underneath it. A thrilling conversation with a musical hero.

"I think we have to be positive," he told me, "and help people to be positive. This is the heart of the spiritual life. We need to be filled with light, so that our light, the light of Christ, our positive energy for compassion, love and peace, will spread far and wide and touch millions of people and help change the world into a new world of peace for all."

A beautiful vision. Add to it all the voices, visions and dreams of the conference. They speak to me of the audacity of peace -- audacity implying the freedom to seize that which the powers deem off limits. Audacity liberates and inspires. It means being bold and daring. I came away from the conference inspired anew by the audacity of Jesus who goes ahead announcing God's reign of justice and peace coming in the middle of war and authoritarianism and empire. Peace is audacious. So are peacemakers.

Can we in this new moment, this new opening, work even harder for that new world without war, poverty, nuclear weapons and global warming? Can we each do our part to carry on Jesus' work of proclaiming God's reign? Can we help the church become that Gospel community of audacious peacemaking, welcoming love, boundless compassion, disarming forgiveness, and social justice? Can we give our lives for that vision, that hope, that Gospel call, and be faithful to the journey?

All weekend long, I heard it over and over: Yes we can!

 

Nouriel Roubini's Global EconoMonitor
The Economic Mess and Financial Disaster that Obama Will Inherit
Nouriel Roubini | Nov 6, 2008

The good news is that America has just elected a president with leadership, vision and great intelligence. President Obama will also choose a first rate economic team: individuals such as Larry Summers and Tim Geithner would be excellent choices for the position of Treasury Secretary. Obama and his team are fully aware of the very difficult economic and financial challenges that the country is facing and will work hard to resolve them.

However, Obama will inherit and economic and financial mess worse than anything the U.S. has faced in decades: the most severe recession in 50 years; the worst financial and banking crisis since the Great Depression; a ballooning fiscal deficit that may be as high as a trillion dollar in 2009 and 2010; a huge current account deficit; a financial system that is in a severe crisis and where deleveraging is still occurring at a very rapid pace, thus causing a worsening of the credit crunch; a household sector where millions of households are insolvent, into negative equity territory and on the verge of losing their homes; a serious risk of deflation as the slack in goods, labor and commodity markets becomes deeper; the risk that we will end in a deflationary liquidity trap as the Fed is fast approaching the zero-bound constraint for the Fed Funds rate; the risk of a severe debt deflation as the real value of nominal liabilities will rise given price deflation while the value of financial assets is still plunging. This is the bitter gift that the Bush administration has bequeathed to Obama and the Democrats.

Given this dismal background, let us consider next in more detail the macro outlook for the U.S. and global economy and its implications for financial markets…

The latest U.S. macro news have been worse than awful: collapsing retail sales and consumption, free fall in capex spending by the corporate sector, sharply falling industrial production, sharply falling employment, housing still in free fall and home prices bound to fall 40% from the peak, collapsing auto sales, forward looking indicators of business (ISM) and consumer confidence dropping to multi-decade lows, sharp surge in corporate defaults, a wrecked banking system and financial system that will have to be partially nationalized. This is the most daunting set of economic and financial challenges that any president has had to face since FDR during the Great Depression. And in the meanwhile in the rest of the world things are as bad: a severe recession in Europe, Japan and other advanced economies; the risk of a hard landing in many emerging markets including China; an almost certain global recession; a severe global financial crisis.

So let us not delude each other: the U.S. and global recession train has left the station; the financial and banking crisis train has left the station. This will be a long and severe and protracted two year recession regardless of the best intentions and good policies of the new U.S. administration. It will take a lot of hard work and sound policies to clean up this mess and reduce the length and severity of this economic contraction.

And in the meanwhile the brief bear market sucker’s rally in the equity market has lost its steam and U.S. and global equities are starting to plunge again. As I argued for the last few weeks this was a bear market rally and markets could not defy the laws of gravity: a slew of ugly and worse than expected macro news, earnings news and financial news was bound to take a toll on equities and other risky assets. And now, after a brief rally markets are starting to plunge again. For 2009 the consensus estimates for earnings are delusional: current consensus estimates are that S&P 500 earnings per share (EPS) will be $90 in 2009 up 15% from 2008. Such estimates are outright silly and delusional. If EPS fall – as most likely – to a level of $60 then with a multiple (P/E ratio) of 12 the S&P500 index could fall to 720, i.e. 20% below current levels; if the P/E falls to 10 – as possible in a severe recession, the S&P could be down to 600 or 35% below current levels. And in a very severe recession one cannot exclude that the EPS could fall as low as $50 in 2009 dragging the S&P500 index to as low as 500. So, even based on fundamentals and valuations, there are significant downside risks to U.S. equities.

So the brief sucker’s rally is over and a reality check is now dawning on markets and investors. Expect this financial crisis and economic recession to get much worse in the next 12 months before it gets any better. We are nowhere near a bottom for housing, the U.S, economy, the global economy and financial markets. The worst is ahead of us rather than behind us.

 

The Boston Globe
Pentagon board says cuts essential, tells Obama to slash large weapons programs
By Bryan Bender, Globe Staff  
November 10, 2008, WASHINGTON

A senior Pentagon advisory group, in a series of bluntly worded briefings, is warning President-elect Barack Obama that the Defense Department's current budget is "not sustainable," and he must scale back or eliminate some of the military's most prized weapons programs.

The briefings were prepared by the Defense Business Board, an internal management oversight body. It contends that the nation's recent financial crisis makes it imperative that the Pentagon and Congress slash some of the nation's most costly and troubled weapons to ensure they can finance the military's most pressing priorities.

Those include rebuilding ground forces battered by multiple tours to Iraq and Afghanistan and expanding the ranks to wage the war on terrorism.

"Business as usual is no longer an option," according to one of the internal briefings prepared in late October for the presidential transition, copies of which were provided to the Globe. "The current and future fiscal environments facing the department demand bold action."

Common Dreams
Published on
Monday, November 10, 2008 by the International Herald Tribune
The Climate for Change
by Al Gore

The inspiring and transformative choice by the American people to elect Barack Obama as our 44th president lays the foundation for another fateful choice that he -- and we -- must make this January to begin an emergency rescue of human civilization from the imminent and rapidly growing threat posed by the climate crisis.

The electrifying redemption of America's revolutionary declaration that all human beings are born equal sets the stage for the renewal of U.S. leadership in a world that desperately needs to protect its primary endowment: the integrity and livability of the planet.

The world authority on the climate crisis, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, after 20 years of detailed study and four unanimous reports, now says that the evidence is "unequivocal." To those who are still tempted to dismiss the increasingly urgent alarms from scientists around the world, ignore the melting of the north polar ice cap and all of the other apocalyptic warnings from the planet itself, and who roll their eyes at the very mention of this existential threat to the future of the human species, please wake up. Our children and grandchildren need you to recognize the truth, before it is too late.

Here is the good news: The bold steps that are needed to solve the climate crisis are exactly the same steps that ought to be taken in order to solve the economic crisis and the energy security crisis.

Here's what we can do -- now: We can make an immediate and large strategic investment to put people to work replacing 19th-century energy technologies that depend on dangerous and expensive carbon-based fuels with 21st-century technologies that use fuel that is free forever: the sun, the wind and the natural heat of the earth.

What follows is a five-part plan to repower America with a commitment to producing 100 percent of our electricity from carbon-free sources within 10 years.

First, the new president and the new Congress should offer large-scale investment incentives for the construction of concentrated solar thermal plants in the Southwestern deserts, wind farms in the corridor stretching from Texas to the Dakotas and advanced plants in geothermal hot spots that could produce large amounts of electricity.

Second, we should begin the planning and construction of a unified national smart grid for the transport of renewable electricity from the rural places where it is mostly generated to the cities where it is mostly used. The cost of this modern grid -- $400 billion over 10 years -- pales in comparison with the annual loss to American business of $120 billion due to the cascading failures that are endemic to our current balkanized and antiquated electricity lines.

Third, we should help America's automobile industry (not only the Big Three but the innovative new startup companies as well) to convert quickly to plug-in hybrids that can run on the renewable electricity that will be available as the rest of this plan matures. In combination with the unified grid, a nationwide fleet of plug-in hybrids would also help to solve the problem of electricity storage. With this sort of grid, cars could be charged during off-peak energy-use hours; during peak hours, when fewer cars are on the road, they could contribute their electricity back into the national grid.

Fourth, we should embark on a nationwide effort to retrofit buildings with better insulation and energy-efficient windows and lighting. This initiative should be coupled with the proposal in Congress to help Americans who are burdened by mortgages that exceed the value of their homes.

Fifth, the United States should lead the way by putting a price on carbon here at home, and by leading the world's efforts to replace the Kyoto treaty next year in Copenhagen with a more effective treaty that caps global carbon dioxide emissions and encourages nations to invest together in efficient ways to reduce global warming pollution quickly, including by sharply reducing deforestation.

Of course, the best way to secure a global agreement to safeguard our future is by re-establishing the United States as the country with the moral and political authority to lead the world toward a solution.

Bloomberg.com
Fed Defies Transparency Aim in Refusal to Disclose (Update2)
By Mark Pittman, Bob Ivry and Alison Fitzgerald Nov. 10 (Bloomberg)

The Federal Reserve is refusing to identify the recipients of almost $2 trillion of emergency loans from American taxpayers or the troubled assets the central bank is accepting as collateral.

Fed Chairman Ben S. Bernanke and Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson said in September they would comply with congressional demands for transparency in a $700 billion bailout of the banking system. Two months later, as the Fed lends far more than that in separate rescue programs that didn't require approval by Congress, Americans have no idea where their money is going or what securities the banks are pledging in return.

``The collateral is not being adequately disclosed, and that's a big problem,'' said Dan Fuss, vice chairman of Boston- based Loomis Sayles & Co., where he co-manages $17 billion in bonds. ``In a liquid market, this wouldn't matter, but we're not. The market is very nervous and very thin.''

Bloomberg News has requested details of the Fed lending under the U.S. Freedom of Information Act and filed a federal lawsuit Nov. 7 seeking to force disclosure.

The Fed made the loans under terms of 11 programs, eight of them created in the past 15 months, in the midst of the biggest financial crisis since the Great Depression.

“It's your money; it's not the Fed's money,'' said billionaire Ted Forstmann, senior partner of Forstmann Little & Co. in New York. “Of course there should be transparency.''

Published Nov 7 2008 by Energy Bulletin
The Last Recession? Or Our Best Opportunity for Hope?
by Jerry Silberman

As the drama of the bursting bubble of Wall St. gives way to a slower, but steady and painful, economic decline, the first and most important question we should ask is "Should we try to blow another bubble, or should we reject bubble culture values for something entirely different?"

If we agree that we need a new culture, this leads to the question "Can we take advantage of the opportunity afforded by this collapse, by the exposure of a failed system, to establish new "rules for the house" (the root meaning of "economy" from the Greek)?"If the house, metaphorically, is Planet Earth the way we have enjoyed it for millennia, then making the choice now to change to a sustainable economy is the best way to turn the apparent lemon of this economic contraction into the best lemonade in history.

The current economic contraction has been developing for almost 20 years, and for the last four or five has appeared inevitable to anyone not under the spell of the "free market" fantasy. It is the result of an economic system which was able, briefly, to ignore and disregard its natural limits and restraints. Finite resources were seen as infinite entitlements. Politicians, businessmen, and intellectuals of all stripes and ideologies shared a complete failure to understand the material basis for their apparent prosperity, arrogantly claiming to be its controlling agents, rather than understanding a unique and lucky combination of cheap energy, political alignments, and misunderstood technology as the basis for their dizzying growth. The few economists and others trying to call attention to its faults were drowned out by those focused on the immediate financial gains.

Free market economists preached faith in the "market+technology" as the solution to all social ills, and with the zeal of the Inquisition and the power of the the US military swept away all opposition. Despite the humanist traditions of western religions, including Christianity, money became the mark of righteousness rather than corruption, and calls for humility, service, and modesty earned more ridicule than the crucified Jesus endured from the rabble of Jerusalem.

For the last 20 years, there has been no ideology or political force able to challenge this blind faith in the "grow-for-broke" materialism of the US led global economy. In a contest for real power in the world, those favoring sustainable, long-term solutions have been overwhelmed by the very well-funded hucksters of the short-term miraculous economy.

The difficulty of shifting over to a sustainable economy is that it requires a change of values. The technology is already there. The resources are at hand, all around us, many of them locked up in gaudy constructions and machines, which will be exhibits in the museums of the future of our species-wide intoxication. As we begin to sober up and realize we don’t need this “stuff” to make our lives meaningful or secure, we have yet to begin transitioning to an economy that values not convenience, but community and sustainability.

One thing that may make this transition easier is that, whether we like it or not, this is the final recession of this system. Along with the peak of oil production, now visible in our rear view mirror, capitalist expansion is done. The slope down will not be uniform, there will be upticks along the way, and regional variations, but the peak is past. There is only one way to go, and it's down.

Don't Bail Out this System – Let Us Bail Out of It, Altogether

We have already seen the federal government generate $1 trillion in an effort to blow another bubble. There will be additional requests for bail outs and "economic stimulus". The instinct that led the overwhelming majority of Americans to oppose the Wall St Bailout of early October is the foundation on which to organize. We must demand that all future efforts at solutions build new values of economic justice, sustainability, and sufficiency into all policies and appropriations.

Let's make this recession the last, by changing the rules for the future we all deserve. The Green For All initiative led by Van Jones, and the TransitionTown movement originating in Great Britain but now gaining interest in the US, are two of the most exciting efforts at sustainable solutions. Check them out at http://www.greenforall.org and http://www.transitionculture.org

AlterNet
It Is Time to Change from Fighting Against Something to Fighting for Something
By Van Jones, The Nation
Posted on November 7, 2008

My background is in the struggles for racial justice and criminal justice reform. As such, I've always felt an affinity for Cinque, the hero of the slave-revolt movie Amistad. In that film, based on a true story, the righteous, enslaved Africans fight back and take over the slave ship.

The people at the bottom rise up -- taking their destiny into their own hands. It's really a metaphor for the last century's version of racial politics. The slave ship is earth, the white slavers are the world's oppressors and the African captives are the world's oppressed. The point is for the oppressed to confront and defeat their oppressors. I took that as my mission and spent years fighting against superjails, rogue cops, the prison lobby -- against the forces that, to my mind and the minds of many, are the slavers of today.

Yet at a certain point it occurred to me that what we need is less investment in the fight against and more energy in the fight for: for positive alternatives to violence and incarceration. It was around that time that I got involved in the environmental movement. And I came to understand that the answer to our social, economic and ecological crises can be one and the same: a green economy strong enough to lift people out of poverty.

Society faces some huge challenges. The individuals, entrepreneurs and community leaders who will step up to make the repairs and changes are going to need help. They require and deserve a world-class partner in our government. The time has come for a public-private community partnership to fix this country and put it back to work. In the framework of a Green New Deal, the government would become a powerful partner to the problem solvers of the world -- and not the problem makers.

Now, we cannot achieve the goal of a Green New Deal just by wishing for it. The first step in getting the government to support an inclusive, green economy is to build a durable political coalition.

On the one hand, there are large and powerful constituencies of white, affluent, college-educated progressives active in the United States. They are passionate about the environment, fair trade, economic justice and global peace. Unfortunately, many do not yet work in concert with people of color in their own country to pursue this agenda; they champion "alternative economic development strategies" across the globe, but not across town. These people could be great allies in uplifting our inner cities if they are given encouragement and a clear opportunity to do so.

On the other hand, many groups of people of color do not want to work in coalition with majority white organizations and white leaders. Many fear betrayal; others resent chronic white arrogance. Cultural differences and power imbalances create tensions; some organizations are actually committed to a racially exclusive ideology. Even though such organizations could benefit from additional allies and outside assistance, the very folks who could most benefit from a green opportunity agenda are loath to get involved.

Taken together, this means that the various US social change movements today are still nearly as racially segregated as the rest of society. This is a moral tragedy. And it is a tremendous barrier to building sufficient power to advance a positive social change agenda for anyone and everyone. Breaking through this standoff is a critical first step toward building a New Deal coalition for the new century -- which would be the only thing dynamic, diverse and powerful enough to overcome the obstacles to progress.

In the New Deal period, it was a broad electoral coalition that moved the government onto the side of ordinary people, not FDR alone. Farmers, workers, ethnic minorities, students, intellectuals, progressive bankers and forward-thinking business leaders all joined forces at the ballot box to support FDR and his Congressional backers as they worked to revive the economy.

To accomplish our tasks today, we need a similar force: an electoral New Deal coalition for our time. Let's call it the Green Growth Alliance. Such an alliance would be a broad effort fusing wise, compassionate forces in civil society with the enlightened self-interest of the rising green business community.

Meditation Moment: The Steep and Narrow Path of Ascension

"There is a road, steep and thorny, beset with perils of every kind - but yet a road; and it leads to the heart of the universe. I can tell you how to find Those who will show you the secret gateway that leads inwards only, and closes fast behind the neophyte for evermore. There is no danger that dauntless courage cannot conquer. There is no trial that spotless purity cannot pass through. There is no difficulty that strong intellect cannot surmount. For those who win onwards, there is reward past all telling; the power to bless and save humanity. For those who fail, there are other lives in which success may come."

"Conquered passions, like slain tigers, can no longer turn and rend you. Be hopeful, then, not despairing. With each morning's awakening try to live through the day in harmony with the Higher Self. ‘Try’ is the battle-cry taught by the Teachers to each pupil. Naught else is expected of you. One who does his best does all that can be asked. There is a moment when even a Buddha ceases to be a sinning mortal and takes his first step toward Buddhahood. . . . It should be the aim of each and all of us to strive with all the intensity of our natures to follow and imitate [the masters]."

-- Helena Petrovna Blavatsky