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The Full Blood SuperMoon Eclipse in Leo, Aquarius Solar Festival January 2019 Cosmic Weather Forecast



Welcome to the Full Blood SuperMoon Eclipse in Leo, Aquarius Solar Festival 2019 Cosmic Weather Forecast. Your co-Editors, Curtis and Jane, offer warm winter greetings from sunny South Florida.

2019 starts out with celestial fireworks! January 2019 features two eclipses, five planets changing signs, and Uranus going direct in Aries. Be ready for an emotional reboot this month (lunar eclipse) that is the prelude for big changes in your priorities and your relationships that will reverberate in the ethers all year long!

Jupiter in Sagittarius flavors this spectacular Full Moon Eclipse with a brilliant energy, in conjunction with Venus, trine to Mars, creating a buoyant, uplifting mood. But beware of Jupiter's square to Neptune which could baffle, bewitch and glamorize. Mars in Aries square Uranus in Capricorn could set off sparks, so watch out they don't start a wildfire! Read on for details!

Here in Jane's Boca Raton garden, Jane and I are enjoying a real Florida winter, with temperatures ranging from 60-83 during the day and 50-70 at night. For the last few weeks we've gotten a couple of warm days at a time and then the next cold front arrives, with several days of sweater weather. The slight chill is most welcome. Last year we never had any sustained cool downs, which made the transition back to summer heat feel oppressive. 



Jane's garden is producing lots of greens, herbs, orchids and roses, but this season the red and pink flowering gingers are the superstars, overtopping the ficus hedge in the back yard and spreading into new domains in front of the house, where they are challenging the palm trees for primacy and access to sunlight!

Super Blood Full Moon Eclipse in Leo, Aquarius Solar Festival Cosmic Weather Forecast

We're finding that the current cosmic weather conditions are ideal for intensified spiritual practices. With Jupiter and Venus united in Sagittarius, sign of aspiration and ascension, since January 7, Jane and I are finding it's easy to release our sugar and dairy habits, cut down on Netflix and spend more time with inspirational books, in meditation, and performing practices designed to re-vision our future and align our daily life with our Higher Purpose.

Sagittarius is the esoteric ruler of the Earth, and so when Venus is in Sagittarius, these two planetary energies are conjoined, symbolizing the overshadowing of the egoistic personality by the Higher Self, the Divine Presence within. 

Jupiter in Sagittarius is a powerful celestial archer aiming for the highest heights, and this planetary alignment supports the fusion of the intellect with Higher Mind, as the individual learns to direct and focus the powers of the "monkey mind" in practices designed to achieve a powerful experience of the Creative Intelligence manifesting as Loving Wisdom.

 

Aurorae on Jupiter 
Image Credit: NASAESAHubble

Explanation: Jupiter has aurorae. Like Earth, the magnetic field of the gas giant funnels charged particles released from the Sun onto the poles. As these particles strike the atmosphere, electrons are temporarily knocked away from existing gas moleculesElectric force attracts these electrons back. As the electrons recombine to remake neutral molecules, auroral light is emitted.


Jupiter will be in expansive, adventurous Sagittarius until December of 2019, and Venus will be in Sagittarius this Full Blood SuperMoon Eclipse weekend. Both are in trine to Mars in potent Aries through February 3, so now is the time to take advantage of this powerful positive energy. Now is the time to let go of your bad habits and intensify all forms of spiritual practice designed to put you in touch with Spirit.

This month's Full Moon Eclipse takes place January 21st at 12:15 am Eastern Time, at 49' Leo, opposite the Sun at 49' Aquarius.

Starting around 7:30 pm on Sunday January 20th, the moon will begin to pass behind the Earth's shadow, creating a full lunar eclipse about an hour later. The eclipse will be visible in most of North and South America. Refracted sunlight passing through the atmosphere during this unusual event imparts a copper coloration to the moon's appearance, hence the name Blood Moon. There is nothing sinister about a Blood Moon as such. 

This is not to say there are no warning signs flashing on the cosmic weather dashboard. Mars in Aries this week squares Saturn in Capricorn, bringing up issues of self-control and the potential for sudden, dramatic conflicts. 

Mars rules the desire nature of the aspirant, in esoteric astrology, and Mars is very much at home in the aggressive sign of the Ram, Aries. Mars rules the physical body and the egoistic personality, the "monkey mind", so Mars in Aries amplifies the energy flowing through our bodies and puts the monkey mind on overdrive. This aspect's energies run counter to the uplifting energies of the Jupiter-Venus-Mars aspects already discussed, so it would be natural to find that this week, and this month, you might experience conflicts between the desires of the flesh and the promptings of the spirit. Caution and self-control are imperative at this time, and the Mars square to Saturn can actually help us put the brakes on a potential runaway train of impulsive desires and ceaseless mental ratiocination.



 

This Full Moon is the time of the Aquarian Solar Festival, which this year is symbolized by a very suggestive Sabian Symbol, An Old Adobe Mission in California. The construction of the Mission represents the circumscription of sacred space through the visualization of an ideal or Platonic form, which then is communicated to a group of devotees who participate in the manifestation of a spiritual vessel containing and transmitting Divine Love and Wisdom to all those who enter that space. The visualization and construction of the sacred vessel is a community project, and represents the communitarian Aquarian impulse of selfless service and group work reaching its most elevated energy signature.

This weekend and the Aquarian month to come offer us a golden opportunity to meet with like minded souls and to cooperate on projects that are designed to contribute to the greater good of society as a whole. 

The combustible Mars-Saturn square indicates that people involved in group work may not be at their best, and there is vast potential for unwanted and unforeseen  turbulence, brought about by unconscious motivations operating under the radar of awareness.


Further clouding the skies, Jupiter in Sagittarius squares Neptune in Pisces, a long term influence that began January 13, 2019 and continues through September of this year. This aspect between large outer planets in mutable signs is one of the signature aspects of 2019. 

Jupiter in Sagittarius is a strong, devotional energy, and Neptune in Pisces can also have a spiritual component, but Jupiter in Sagittarius  emphasizes the forms, rituals, and codes governing religious and spiritual practice, while Neptune in Pisces, also associated with spirituality, emphasizes the feeling nature, and can signify astral glamours. So this aspect can supercharge our practices, but can also lead us into an emotional fog, where we can no longer discern the difference between true intuitive guidance and wishful thinking or dreamy escapism. This aspect can also provide tremendous support for individuals seeking to glamorize others, which may have relevance when we consider what is taking place on the world stage, and the actions of many of our most powerful leaders. Needless to say, discernment is a must, and wisdom dictates that no matter how much tension arises in this turbulent time, we exercise our will forces and refuse to seek solace and escape in drinks, drugs, social media and Netflix binging.

Global News Roundup

 

For good or ill, we live in a time of vast cultural upheavals, searing political confrontations and unprecedented global environmental threats. It's The Dark Night of the Planetary Soul, as I described it in an article written more than a decade ago, still relevant today.

Unfortunately the mainstream corporate news media and many sources of alternative news no longer function as trustworthy guides to current events, and we all know that relying upon the "news" delivered to us by Facebook's or YouTube's self-serving algorithms is lazy and a mistake.

There is so much going on in every corner of the world that demands our attention, and staying well informed about world events is extremely challenging. Yet part of our spiritual practice at Satya Center involves exercising discernment, understanding the biases inherent in the bewildering multiplicity of news sources available in our interconnected digital world, and separating the truth from the spin.

Every morning, I review stories from approximately three dozen sources of political, financial and environmental news that have proved useful over the many years I spent as a journalist, and the many years I have spent as a Lightworker. 

 


For the first several years of Satya Center's existence, we provided our subscribers with a long list of links to stories we found illuminating. We also offered a few paragraphs excerpted from each story, a window to help you decide if it's worth a click. 

We discontinued this service years ago, because of the intensive work required. However the time has come to reboot the Global News Roundup. We hope you will enjoy this service, with pointers to stories that provide the context and deep insights normally lacking in the "news" provided by the usual suspects.

If you do find this service useful and insightful, please forward this newsletter to friends, family and others who may find the Global News Roundup helpful. We welcome new subscribers, and although the newsletter is free and without advertising, it's important to us to reach as many people as possible.

Keep in mind this month that if a new European Union copyright protection scheme becomes law, which it may very soon, it could be illegal to offer links to news stories with significant quotations, as is common today under "fair use" standards. So enjoy this service while you can, and if you value free speech, visit the Electronic Frontier Foundation website and join the fight for better copyright law before it's too late.

Global News Roundup

Free Speech


'Catastrophe for Free Expression': Critics Warn EU Reforms a 'Dire Threat' to Internet as We Know It

Published on Tuesday, January 15, 2019 by Common Dreams, by Jake Johnson

"As the European Union (EU) plows ahead this week with far-reaching copyright rules that critics say would "cripple freedom of expression on the internet," privacy advocates and web defenders across the globe are raising alarm and calling on EU member states to block the measures.

"The new EU Copyright Directive is progressing at an alarming rate," Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) special adviser Cory Doctorow wrote on Monday, describing the rules package as a "catastrophe for free expression."

"While the vast majority of the rules in the sprawling Copyright Directive are "inoffensive updates to European copyright law," Doctorow points out, two specific measures—Article 11 and Article 13— "pose a dire threat to the global internet." Doctorow goes on to detail the implications of both rules:

  • Article 11: A proposal to make platforms pay for linking to news sites by creating a non-waivable right to license any links from for-profit services (where those links include more than a word or two from the story or its headline). Article 11 fails to define "news sites," "commercial platforms," and "links," which invites 28 European nations to create 28 mutually exclusive, contradictory licensing regimes. Additionally, the fact that the "linking right" can't be waived means that open-access, public-interest, nonprofit and Creative Commons news sites can't opt out of the system.
  • Article 13: A proposal to end the appearance of unlicensed copyrighted works on big user-generated content platforms, even for an instant. Initially, this included an explicit mandate to develop "filters" that would examine every social media posting by everyone in the world and check whether it matched entries in an open, crowdsourced database of supposedly copyrighted materials. In its current form, the rule says that filters "should be avoided" but does not explain how billions of social media posts, videos, audio files, and blog posts should be monitored for infringement without automated filtering systems.

"Taken together, these two rules will subject huge swaths of online expression to interception and arbitrary censorship, and give the largest news companies in Europe the power to decide who can discuss and criticize their reporting, and undermining public-interest, open-access journalism," Doctorow concluded. As Common Dreams reported at the time, internet pioneers Tim Berners-Lee and Vint Cerf warned in a June letter to European Parliament President Antonio Tajani that Article 13 of the directive would transform "the internet from an open platform for sharing and innovation, into a tool for the automated surveillance and control of its users."

 

Consciousness Studies and Human Evolution

 

The Hippies Were Right: It's All about Vibrations, Man!
Scientific American, by Tam Hunt on December 5, 2018


"Why are some things conscious and others apparently not? Is a rat conscious? A bat? A cockroach? A bacterium? An electron?

"These questions are all aspects of the ancient “mind-body problem,” which has resisted a generally satisfying conclusion for thousands of years.           

"The mind-body problem enjoyed a major rebranding over the last two decades and is generally known now as the “hard problem” of consciousness (usually capitalized nowadays), after the New York University philosopher David Chalmers coined this term in a now classic 1995 paper and his 1996 book The Conscious Mind: In Search of a Fundamental Theory.

"Fast forward to the present era and we can ask ourselves now: Did the hippies actually solve this problem? My colleague Jonathan Schooler (University of California, Santa Barbara) and I think they effectively did, with the radical intuition that it’s all about vibrations … man. Over the past decade, we have developed a “resonance theory of consciousness” that suggests that resonance—another word for synchronized vibrations—is at the heart of not only human consciousness but of physical reality more generally. So how were the hippies right?

"Well, we agree that vibrations, resonance, are the key mechanism behind human consciousness, as well as animal consciousness more generally. And, as I’ll discuss below, that they are the basic mechanism for all physical interactions to occur. All things in our universe are constantly in motion, vibrating. Even objects that appear to be stationary are in fact vibrating, oscillating, resonating, at various frequencies. Resonance is a type of motion, characterized by oscillation between two states. And ultimately all matter is just vibrations of various underlying fields.

"An interesting phenomenon occurs when different vibrating things/processes come into proximity: they will often start, after a little time, to vibrate together at the same frequency. They “sync up,” sometimes in ways that can seem mysterious. This is described today as the phenomenon of spontaneous self-organization. Examining this phenomenon leads to potentially deep insights about the nature of consciousness and about the universe more generally.

". . .The central thesis of our approach is this: the particular linkages that allow for macro-consciousness to occur result from a shared resonance among many micro-conscious constituents. The speed of the resonant waves that are present is the limiting factor that determines the size of each conscious entity. ". . .Our resonance theory of consciousness attempts to provide a unified framework that includes neuroscience and the study of human consciousness, but also more fundamental questions of neurobiology and biophysics. It gets to the heart of the differences that matter when it comes to consciousness and the evolution of physical systems. It is all about vibrations, but it’s also about the type of vibrations and, most importantly, about shared vibrations. Put that in your pipe and smoke it … man.

It’s the End of the Gene As We Know It: We are not nearly as determined by our genes as once thought.
Nautilus, BY KEN RICHARDSON, JANUARY 3, 2019


"We’ve all seen the stark headlines: “Being Rich and Successful Is in Your DNA” (Guardian, July 12); “A New Genetic Test Could Help Determine Children’s Success” (Newsweek, July 10); “Our Fortunetelling Genes” make us (Wall Street Journal, Nov. 16); and so on.

"The problem is, many of these headlines are not discussing real genes at all, but a crude statistical model of them, involving dozens of unlikely assumptions. Now, slowly but surely, that whole conceptual model of the gene is being challenged.

". . .In her 1984 book, The Ontogeny of Information, the philosopher of science Susan Oyama warned, “Just as traditional thought placed biological forms in the mind of God, so modern thought finds ways of endowing the genes with ultimate formative power.” In scientific, as well as popular descriptions today, genes “act,” “behave,” “direct,” “control,” “design,” “influence,” have “effects,” are “responsible for,” are “selfish,” and so on, as if minds of their own with designs and intentions.

"But at the same time, a counter-narrative is building, not from the media but from inside science itself. . . .Scientists now understand that the information in the DNA code can only serve as a template for a protein. It cannot possibly serve as instructions for the more complex task of putting the proteins together into a fully functioning being, no more than the characters on a typewriter can produce a story.

". . .Then it was slowly appreciated that we inherit just such dynamical systems from our parents, not only our genes. Eggs and sperm contain a vast variety of factors: enzymes and other proteins; amino acids; vitamins, minerals; fats; RNAs (nucleic acids other than DNA); hundreds of cell signalling factors; and other products of the parents’ genes, other than genes themselves. Molecular biologists have been describing how those factors form networks of complex interactions.

"Together, they self-organize according to changing conditions around them. Being sensitive to statistical patterns in the changes, they anticipate future states, often creating novel, emergent properties to meet them.


"Accordingly, even single cells change their metabolic pathways, and the way they use their genes to suit those patterns. That is, they “learn,” and create instructions on the hoof. Genes are used as templates for making vital resources, of course. But directions and outcomes of the system are not controlled by genes. Like colonies of ants or bees, there are deeper dynamical laws at work in the development of forms and variations.

". . .It is such discoveries that are turning our ideas of genetic causation inside out. We have traditionally thought of cell contents as servants to the DNA instructions. But, as the British biologist Denis Noble insists, “The modern synthesis has got causality in biology wrong … DNA on its own does absolutely nothing until activated by the rest of the system … DNA is not a cause in an active sense. I think it is better described as a passive data base which is used by the organism to enable it to make the proteins that it requires.”

 

Data mining adds evidence that war is baked into the structure of society
MIT Technology Review

"A new study of wars over 600 years shows conflict following a universal mathematical law, suggesting that the current period of relative peace could be more fragile than many have thought.

 

"Society is a complex web of social, political, and economic forces that depend on the network of links between individuals and the countries they represent. These links are constantly rearranging, sometimes because of violence and death. When the level of rearrangement and associated violence rises above a threshold level, we describe the resulting pattern as war.

"This network science approach is providing a new way to think about how to avoid the causes of war. But it raises important questions, too. Not least of these is whether this new approach is evidence-based at all: does the historical record provide good evidence that war is a network phenomenon.

"Today, we get an answer thanks to the work of Ugo Bardi at the University of Florence in Italy and a couple of colleagues, who have analyzed one of the largest historical databases of violent conflict and say its statistical properties are entirely consistent with the network theory of war.

“Our result tends to support the idea that war is a statistical phenomenon related to the network structure of the human society,” they say. . . . “There is little evidence supporting the idea that humankind is progressing toward a more peaceful world,” they conclude. That’s because wars have become less common but at the same time more destructive."

 

US Political News

 


Return of the Neocons
Rolling Stone, by Matt Taibbi, January 14, 2019


"Neoconservatives, the architects of the War on Terror, are the political version of Jason in Friday the 13th: You can never bank on them being completely dead. They just hide under a log until the next funder appears."

". . .Neocons began as liberal intellectuals. The likes of Bill Kristol’s father, Irving (who famously said a neoconservative was a liberal who’d been “mugged by reality”), drifted from the Democratic Party in the Seventies because it had become insufficiently hawkish after the Vietnam debacle. "They abhorred realpolitik and “containment,” hated Richard Nixon for going to China and preferred using force to spread American values, even if it meant removing an existing government. Reagan’s “evil empire” gibberish and semi-legal muscle-flexing in places like Nicaragua made neocons tingly and finalized their defection to the red party."

"The neocon-Republican marriage wasn’t exactly smooth. After all, it required sanctimonious, left-leaning intellectuals to get into political bed with the Jerry Falwells of the world and embrace all sorts of positions they plainly felt were absurd."

"Using this strategy, this self-appointed “handful of sages” rode the mule of Republican politics all the way to the White House. By the early 2000s they achieved such status that David Frum, the speechwriter who coined George W. Bush’s “Axis of Evil,” felt confident in publicly calling for the excommunication of libertarians, isolationists, nationalists and all sorts of other breeds from the Church of the GOP.

“Antiwar conservatives” had “turned their backs on the country,” Frum wrote. “Now we turn our backs on them.” "Having alienated big chunks of the Republican coalition, the group then sank the mainstream GOP politically with the idiotic prosecution of the Iraq war.

"Because they started this Middle East disaster on a lie and even bragged about doing so — “We’re an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality” — they undermined faith in a smorgasbord of American institutions, from the news media to the presidency to the intelligence community to their own party. "This was a huge reason for the rise of Trump, who ran against “elites” and capitalized on voters’ loss of trust in institutions like the press. Conveniently, neocons had already begun tacking back to the Democrats by then.

". . .[Now] longtime Democratic Party advisers are once again triangulating against their party’s own progressive wing, which was the core strategy of the original “Third Way” Democrats in the early Nineties. Party leaders now want to kick out populist, antiwar liberals in the same way Frum once wanted to excommunicate antiwar conservatives."

 

As Democratic Elites Reunite With Neocons, the Party’s Voters Are Becoming Far More Militaristic and Pro-War Than Republicans 

The Intercept, by Glenn Greenwald, January 11, 2019

"[..] what is remarkable about the new polling data on Syria is that the vast bulk of support for keeping troops there comes from Democratic Party voters, while Republicans and independents overwhelming favor their removal.

"The numbers are stark: Of people who voted for Clinton in 2016, only 26 percent support withdrawing troops from Syria, while 59 percent oppose it. Trump voters overwhelmingly support withdraw by 76 percent to 14 percent. A similar gap is seen among those who voted Democrat in the 2018 midterm elections (28 percent support withdrawal while 54 percent oppose it), as opposed to the widespread support for withdrawal among 2018 GOP voters: 74 percent to 18 percent.

"Identical trends can be seen on the question of Trump’s announced intention to withdraw half of the U.S. troops currently in Afghanistan, where Democrats are far more supportive of keeping troops there than Republicans and independents.

"This case is even more stark since Obama ran in 2008 on a pledge to end the war in Afghanistan and bring all troops home. Throughout the Obama years, polling data consistently showed that huge majorities of Democrats favored a withdrawal of all troops from Afghanistan.

"With Trump rather than Obama now advocating troop withdrawal from Afghanistan, all of this has changed. The new polling data shows far more support for troop withdrawal among Republicans and independents, while Democrats are now split or even opposed. Among 2016 Trump voters, there is massive support for withdrawal: 81 percent to 11 percent; Clinton voters, however, oppose the removal of troops from Afghanistan by a margin of 37 percent in favor and 47 percent opposed."  

New Studies Show Pundits Are Wrong About Russian Social-Media Involvement in US Politics

The Nation, by Aron Maté, December 28,2018


"The release of two Senate-commissioned reports has sparked a new round of panic about Russia manipulating a vulnerable American public on social media. Headlines warn that Russian trolls have tried to suppress the African-American votepromote Green Party candidate Jill Steinrecruit “assets,” and “sow discord” or “hack the 2016 election” via sex-toy ads and Pokémon Go.

“The studies,” writes David Ignatius of The Washington Post, “describe a sophisticated, multilevel Russian effort to use every available tool of our open society to create resentment, mistrust and social disorder,” demonstrating that the Russians, “thanks to the Internet…seem to be perfecting these dark arts.” 

"According to Michelle Goldberg of The New York Times, “it looks increasingly as though” Russian disinformation “changed the direction of American history” in the narrowly decided 2016 election, when “Russian trolling easily could have made the difference.”

"The reports, from the University of Oxford’s Computational Propaganda Research Project and the firm New Knowledge, do provide the most thorough look at Russian social-media activity to date. With an abundance of data, charts, graphs, and tables, coupled with extensive qualitative analysis, the authors scrutinize the output of the Internet Research Agency (IRA) the Russian clickbait firm indicted by special counsel Robert Mueller in February 2018.

"On every significant metric, it is difficult to square the data with the dramatic conclusions that have been drawn.

• 2016 Election Content: The most glaring data point is how minimally Russian social-media activity pertained to the 2016 campaign. The New Knowledge report acknowledges that evaluating IRA content “purely based on whether it definitively swung the election is too narrow a focus,” as the “explicitly political content was a small percentage.”

"To be exact, just “11% of the total content” attributed to the IRA and 33 percent of user engagement with it “was related to the election.” The IRA’s posts “were minimally about the candidates,” with “roughly 6% of tweets, 18% of Instagram posts, and 7% of Facebook posts” having “mentioned Trump or Clinton by name.”

• Scale: The researchers claim that “the scale of [the Russian] operation was unprecedented,” but they base that conclusion on dubious figures. They repeat the widespread claim that Russian posts “reached 126 million people on Facebook,” which is in fact a spin on Facebook’s own guess. “Our best estimate,” Facebook’s Colin Stretch testified to Congress in October 2017, “is that approximately 126 million people may have been served one of these [IRA] stories at some time during the two year period” between 2015 and 2017. According to Stretch, posts generated by suspected Russian accounts showing up in Facebook’s News Feed amounted to “approximately 1 out of 23,000 pieces of content.”
• Spending: Also hurting the case that the Russians reached a large number of Americans is that they spent such a microscopic amount of money to do it. Oxford puts the IRA’s Facebook spending between 2015 and 2017 at just $73,711. As was previously known, about $46,000 was spent on Russian-linked Facebook ads before the 2016 election. That amounts to about 0.05 percent of the $81 million spent on Facebook ads by the Clinton and Trump campaigns combined.

"A recent disclosure by Google that Russian-linked accounts spent $4,700 on platforms in 2016 only underscores how miniscule that spending was. The researchers also claim that the IRA’s “manipulation of American political discourse had a budget that exceeded $25 million USD.” But that number is based on a widely repeated error that mistakes the IRA’s spending on US-related activities for its parent project’s overall global budget, including domestic social-media activity in Russia.

• Sophistication: Another reason to question the operation’s sophistication can be found by simply looking at its offerings. The IRA’s most shared pre-election Facebook post was a cartoon of a gun-wielding Yosemite Sam. Over on Instagram, the best-received image urged users to give it a “Like” if they believe in Jesus.

"The top IRA post on Facebook before the election to mention Hillary Clinton was a conspiratorial screed about voter fraud. It’s telling that those who are so certain Russian social-media posts affected the 2016 election never cite the posts that they think actually helped achieve that end. The actual content of those posts might explain why.

• Covert or Clickbait Operation? Far from exposing a sophisticated propaganda campaign, the reports provide more evidence that the Russians were actually engaging in clickbait capitalism: targeting unique demographics like African Americans or evangelicals in a bid to attract large audiences for commercial purposes. Reporters who have profiled the IRA have commonly described it as “a social media marketing campaign.” Mueller’s indictment of the IRA disclosed that it sold “promotions and advertisements” on its pages that generally sold in the $25-$50 range.

“This strategy,” Oxford observes, “is not an invention for politics and foreign intrigue, it is consistent with techniques used in digital marketing.” New Knowledge notes that the IRA even sold merchandise that “perhaps provided the IRA with a source of revenue,” hawking goods such as T-shirts, “LGBT-positive sex toys and many variants of triptych and 5-panel artwork featuring traditionally conservative, patriotic themes.

• “Asset Development”: Lest one wonder how promoting sex toys might factor into a sophisticated influence campaign, the New Knowledge report claims that exploiting “sexual behavior” was a key component of the IRA’s “expansive” “human asset recruitment strategy” in the United States. “Recruiting an asset by exploiting a personal vulnerability,” the report explains, “is a timeless espionage practice.”

"The first example of this timeless espionage practice is of an ad featuring Jesus consoling a dejected young man by telling him: “Struggling with the addiction to masturbation? Reach out to me and we will beat it together.” It is unknown if this particular tactic brought any assets into the fold. But New Knowledge reports that there was “some success with several of these human-activation attempts.”

"That is correct: The IRA’s online trolls apparently succeeded in sparking protests in 2016, like several in Florida where “it’s unclear if anyone attended”; “no people showed up to at least one,” and “ragtag groups” showed up at others, including one where video footage captured a crowd of eight people. The most successful effort appears to have been in Houston, where Russian trolls allegedly organized dueling rallies pitting a dozen white supremacists against several dozen counter-protesters outside an Islamic center. "  


This Is Everything That Is Wrong With Mainstream Feminism by Caitlin Johnstone, January 5, 2019

"Outlets like MSNBC and Politico have been excitedly running headlines titled The military-industrial complex is now run by women” and “How women took over the military-industrial complex“. Apparently four of America’s five top defense contractors are now women, whose names I will not bother to learn or report on because I do not care.

"These headlines are being derided by skeptics of the establishment mindset for the cartoonish self-parody of the corporate liberal mindset that they so clearly are, and rightly so. Pretty much everything in American mainstream liberalism ultimately boils down to advancing mass murder, exploitation and ecocide for profit while waving a “yay diversity” banner so that the NPR crowd can feel good about themselves while signing off on it. But the fact that these stories exist and have an audience can also be blamed more specifically on the failures of mainstream feminism.

"A lot of men (and the occasional cultishly servile woman) like to bitch about the problem with modern feminism as though it is something that hurts men, threatens men, demonizes men, or robs men of their place in society or anything else they feel entitled to. This is all dopey nonsense which amounts to nothing other than a childish temper tantrum over men losing control over women that they never should have had in the first place; it’s people whining about losing their slaves.

"That imaginary piffle is not what is wrong with mainstream feminism. What is wrong with mainstream feminism is exemplified perfectly in a mass media parade celebrating the rise of women to the top of the most depraved industry on earth.

"The problem that true feminism seeks to address is not that there aren’t enough women at the top of the corporate ladder, or that Americans refused to elect a woman to do the bombing, exploiting and oppressing in 2016.

"The problem has always been that we’re trying to value women with a value system created by a few very powerful men. By leaving in place the value system created by patriarchy (i.e. capitalism), we are now valuing women but only for their ability to play men’s games.

"Nobody has ever become a billionaire by being a mother, even the very best mother in the world, and nobody ever will because capitalism was designed by men, for men, to value men’s qualities. This has created a species-threatening imbalance because inequality is baked in to the system.

"When men reluctantly allowed women out of their house-shaped cages in the sixties, they did so on the condition that they would not change a thing about themselves. Women could play, but it was the women who had to change.

"As usual. It’s interesting to go back to seminal texts like Germaine Greer’s “The Female Eunuch” and see how much time feminists spent back then thinking about how women could be paid for domestic and child-rearing work. Fifty years ago, feminists of the time could easily see how financial abuse runs rampant through marriages because women don’t get paid for the majority of their work. They could see how if women were to ever be truly free, that had to be fixed. If you’re not getting paid, then you’re not able to leave, and if you can’t leave, you’re a slave.

"Despite all of feminism’s gains, today if you dare suggest that women be paid for bearing children, you will be jeered at. It was decided somewhere along the line that, fine, you can be a fake man if you want to, but don’t expect us to value YOU. Men refused to value women’s work, which is why most of it is still essentially slavery. And that was a crucial, planet-threatening mistake.

"By refusing to value women and what skills they naturally bring, humanity continued to not value the meta work of the feminine. We continued to not value the health of our environment, the health of our social cohesion, the mental health of each other. By refusing to place a hard and fast value on cleaning, healing, networking, redistributing goods, disappearing problems, restoring, reusing, collaboration, happiness and health, we are strengthening all their opposites."

Behind the epidemic of police killings in America: Class, poverty and race

World Socialist Web Site, By Benjamin Mateus, 20 December 2018


"The steady rise in police killings in the United States is the manifestation of an ongoing civil war between the ruling elite, the top one-tenth of one percent, and the working class. It is not “white cops vs. black youth,” as portrayed by the media and groups like Black Lives Matter and the pseudo-left, anxious to elevate race over class.

"It is the armed representatives of the capitalist state (frequently black and Hispanic, as well as white) against the most impoverished sections of the working class, white, black, Hispanic and Native American. This study reviews all the data available on police shootings for the year 2017, and analyzes it based on geography, income, and poverty levels, as well as race.

"It identifies a major omission in all the published accounts: the vast and rising death toll among working-class white men in rural and small-town America, who are being killed by police at rates that approach those of black men in urban areas.

"Police violence is focused overwhelmingly on men lowest on the socio-economic ladder: in rural areas outside the South, predominately white men; in the Southwest, disproportionately Hispanic men; in mid-size and major cities, disproportionately black men. Significantly, in the rural South, where the population is racially mixed, white men and black men are killed by police at nearly identical rates. What unites these victims of police violence is not their race, but their class status (as well as, of course, their gender)."

 

Environmental News

 

 

The Reality Is Everything Must Change

Naked Capitalism
Posted on December 11, 2018 by 

By Richard Murphy, a chartered accountant and a political economist. He has been described by the Guardian newspaper as an “anti-poverty campaigner and tax expert”. He is Professor of Practice in International Political Economy at City University, London and Director of Tax Research UK. He is a non-executive director of Cambridge Econometrics. He is a member of the Progressive Economy Forum. Originally published at Tax Research UK.

"Kenan Malik wrote this in The Observer yesterday:

The question we need to ask is not, “How should we create a centrist bulwark against populism?”, but “How can we give progressive shape to people’s disaffection?” Otherwise the left will either remain standing on the sidelines, allowing the radical right to take centre stage, or be driven, as has already happened, to promote illiberal notions of immigration, culture and belonging. Whatever the fate of the gilets jaunes, this wider issue – who will give shape to disaffection? – has still to be addressed.

"I thought that a neat synopsis of where we are. Amidst all the noise of Trump, Brexit, trade war and so much more, there is a need for some pretty serious debate. I would remind you that this was also true in WW2. The welfare state was the result. We’re not at war, thankfully, but the crisis is real, nonetheless. And the absence of a great deal of thinking is profoundly worrying.

"I would suggest there are three things we know.

"The first is that climate change is real. The result is that nothing can stay the same.

"The second is that neoliberalism has reduced most people to living in states of profound insecurity. Ignore that poverty is supposedly being beaten. This is almost for nought if the result is disabling fear for future well-being. This cannot persist because people will not tolerate it. We are seeing that, very widely.

"Third, our economic and social orders do, then, have to change, and profoundly. This is not an option. It is an absolute necessity. And what we know is private capital has ceased to be available for active investment it is now almost solely directed to rent seeking. In that case it is only state created funding that can create this process of change.

"To put this another way, what may be the biggest programme of change ever known in human history is required in very short order. We need new energy systems; transformation of our housing stock; new transport infrastructure; radically different approaches to food that might even require rationing if we cannot create change any other way; different ways of working and new ways of using leisure time.

"As I suggested, everything must change.


"But this must be done in a way that increases certainty. Jobs must be created on the ground, everywhere. And I mean, in every constituency.

"There must be new homes on brown field and some greenfield sites – but the transport and other infrastructure must be provided in that case and that does not simply mean more roads.

"The social safety net must be recreated. That means a job guarantee. It also means a universal basic income.

"And business must be transformed. Since that process will be incredibly expensive this requires capital and if that means state investment and co-ownership, so be it. 

"At the same time some things might need to be foregone. Like nuclear submarines and aircraft carriers. We have no resource to waste on the legacies of our imperialist past.


"How to do all this? Only state created funding can create the finance needed for this change. What we need is not just a Green New Deal but Green Quantitative Easing too to fund it. If this was wartime funding would be found for the crisis we face. It always has been.

"Well, this may be worse than war. This is life itself we are fighting for, on all fronts. The time for prevarication is over.

"The time for pussy- footing with new taxes to extract a little more from the rich is yesterday’s news. There is no time for that.

"This is the time to create money for change. And, if need be, to restrict money creation for other reasons.
The time for pussy-footing is over. We know what we need to do. We know the scale of the issue. We know the reasons for acting, which combine into the single desire to save the planet to secure  everyone’s future, and we know we can pay for it.

"This is not left or right as we know it.

"And this not centre either.

"This is the new politics. Born of necessity.

"Which says we must spend to change, forever. In time of war innovation is increased and effort is maximised. That is what we need now.

"This is addressing the wider issue.

"And any party not addressing it is part of the problem and not the solution.


The Green New Deal, explained Dave Roberts, Vox. 

"Plenty of Democratic politicians support policies that would reduce climate pollution — renewable energy tax credits, fuel economy standards, and the like — but those policies do not add up to a comprehensive solution, certainly nothing like what the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) suggests is necessary. Young activists, who will be forced to live with the ravages of climate change, find this upsetting. So they have proposed a plan of their own. It’s called the Green New Deal (GND) — a term purposefully reminiscent of Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s original New Deal in the 1930s — and it has become the talk of the town."


 “With a Green New Deal, Here’s What the World Could Look Like for the Next Generation” Kate Aronoff, The Intercept. 

"What, exactly, would a Green New Deal entail? Like its 1930s counterpart, the “Green New Deal” isn’t a specific set of programs so much as an umbrella under which various policies might fit, ranging from technocratic to transformative.

"The sheer scale of change needed to deal effectively with climate change is massive, as the scientific consensus is making increasingly clear, requiring an economy-wide mobilization of the sort that the United States hasn’t really undertaken since World War II.

"While the Green New Deal imaginary evokes images of strapping young men pulling up their sleeves to hoist up wind turbines (in the mold of realist Civilian Conservation Corps ads), its actual scope is far broader than the narrow set of activities typically housed under the green jobs umbrella, or even in the original New Deal.

“People talk often about the infrastructure investment that has to happen, and new technology,” Saikat Chakrabarti, Ocasio-Cortez’s chief of staff, told me. “But there’s also an industrial plan that needs to happen to build entirely new industries. It’s sort of like the moonshot. When JFK said America was going to go to the moon, none of the things we needed to get to the moon at that point existed. But we tried and we did it.” The Green New Deal, he added, “touches everything — it’s basically a massive system upgrade for the economy.”


Corporations See a Different Kind of ‘Green’ in Ocasio-Cortez’s ‘Green New Deal” Whitney Webb, Mint Press. (A critique from the left, with more close reading than most.)

"For someone who has campaigned on upending the status quo and challenging the establishment, Ocasio-Cortez and the “Green New Deal” tied so closely to her name sure have won a lot of support from the establishment, and quickly too. While that phenomenon has been touted as evidence that progressive agendas are finally “winning” on Capitol Hill, one need look no further than the text of the Green New Deal on Ocasio-Cortez’s own website to realize that the real reason this plan has gained so much establishment support so quickly is that it is an oligarch-driven corporate answer to climate change and inequality and a wishlist for the neoliberals who still control the core of the Democratic Party."


DE-GROWTH VS A GREEN NEW DEAL New Left Review 112, July-August 2018 ROBERT POLLIN

"Climate change necessarily presents a profound political challenge in the present historical era, for the simple reason that we are courting ecological disaster by not advancing a viable global climate-stabilization project.

"There are no certainties about what will transpire if we allow the average global temperature to continue rising. But as a basis for action, we only need to understand that there is a non-trivial possibility that the continuation of life on earth as we know it is at stake.

"Climate change therefore poses perhaps the ultimate ‘what is to be done’ question. There is no shortage of proposals for action, including, of course, the plan to do nothing at all advanced by Trump and his acolytes.

"In recent numbers of NLR, Herman Daly and Benjamin Kunkel have discussed a programme for a sustainable ‘steady-state’ economy, and Troy Vettese has proposed re-wilding as a means for natural geo-engineering. In this contribution, I examine and compare two dramatically divergent approaches developed by analysts and activists on the left. The first is what I variously call ‘egalitarian green growth’ or a ‘green new deal’. The second has been termed ‘degrowth’ by its proponents."


Four decades of Antarctic Ice Sheet mass balance from 1979–2017” [Eric Rignot, Jérémie Mouginot, Bernd Scheuchl, Michiel van den Broeke, Melchior J. van Wessem, and Mathieu Morlighem, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences].

“The total mass loss from Antarctica increased from 40 ± 9 Gt/y in the 11-y time period 1979–1990 to 50 ± 14 Gt/y in 1989–2000, 166 ± 18 Gt/y in 1999–2009, and 252 ± 26 Gt/y in 2009–2017, that is, by a factor 6… This change in mass loss reflects an acceleration of 94 Gt/y per decade in 1979–2017, increasing from 48 Gt/y per decade in 1979–2001 to 134 Gt/y per decade in 2001–2017, or 280%… The mass loss from West Antarctica is three to four times larger than that from East Antarctica and the Peninsula, respectively. We find that the Antarctic Ice Sheet has been out of balance with snowfall accumulation the entire period of study, including in East Antarctica.”

• Ulp. Here is a summary, in English, from Associated Press: “Antarctica is melting more than six times faster than it did in the 1980s, a new study shows. Scientists used aerial photographs, satellite measurements and computer models to track how fast the southern-most continent has been melting since 1979 in 176 individual basins. They found the ice loss to be accelerating dramatically — a key indicator of human-caused climate change.”

Meditation Moment

THE MOMENT OF ENLIGHTENMENT


Before Prince Siddhartha became the Buddha, he realized things were not quite right in his world. Neurosis was continuously spreading in his kingdom. He decided to reject any approach to life that made him purely comfortable and happy and to search for some psychological sanity beyond that. He thought that meditating and studying with the holy men of the time would help him.  Then he would be able to rule his kingdom and be a better king.  He left his palace and studied with various gurus, who taught him all kinds of techniques: holding his breath, not holding his breath, sitting in different postures doing spiritual acrobatics, and many other approaches.  But he found these techniques kept his mind very busy, rather than being simple and alone.  

Having practiced for six years, he still had doubts about what he was doing. Then, it occurred to him that life is not so much a question of gain and loss. Instead, life is full of reality, and that reality rests in the mind.  He realized that mind is constantly speeding, on and on. So Prince Siddhartha decided to stop that speed. He decided to sit and meditate under a bodhi tree on the banks of the Nairanjana River. His austerity had not proven to be the best way, so he decided to give that up.

After sitting for a long time, not much happened. Then, he got up and walked around, and he was offered a drink of milk by a friend. He settled himself on a comfortable seat made of kusha grass.  He began to relax and meditate again. At that moment, when he relaxed, the whole struggle began to dissolve. He realized that he shouldn't push so hard, but that he could give in and let himself go.  That was the moment of enlightenment, which was not all that dramatic. 
 

Edited from an unpublished transcript VIEWING AND WORKING WITH THE PHENOMENAL WORLD, a seminar at Naropa Institute, Talk One, June 10, 1976.  
All material by Chogyam Trungpa is copyright Diana J. Mukpo and used by permission.

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