Reclaim Democracy

Welcome to the February 1, 2006 edition of the Satya Center newsletter. Warm greetings from your Editor, Curtis Lang.

Today’s newsletter focuses on important global news stories and tomorrow’s newsletter will address more spiritual aspects of our shared realities.

Throughout the last month, America has remained in a state resembling national schizophrenia. Opinion polls indicate that the majority of Americans feel the Iraq war was not worth fighting, and President Bush’s approval ratings are the lowest since Richard Nixon’s just prior to his resignation. Paradoxically, recent polls also indicate that a majority of Americans would support a new war against Iran.

Washington insiders are saying that Iranians “can’t be trusted” with either nuclear bombs or their own oil reserves – and the implication is that America will have to destroy Iranian military infrastructure and nuclear capabilities and seize Iranian oil. Think tanks in the US and Canada are reporting US-Israeli plans for nuclear strikes inside Iran.

Elsewhere in the Middle East, Bush’s Iraqi war and the subsequent “democratization” debacle have successfully installed an Islamic fundamentalist regime in that country, closely allied with Iran, and simultaneously created a totally unstable Iraqi political structure that now teeters on the verge of civil war between Shi’a, Sunni and Kurdish elements.

Bush’s “Middle East Road Map” and his administration’s adoption of right-wing Israeli policies toward Palestine have resulted in the discrediting of Fatah, and a landslide victory for the militant Islamic fundamentalist Hamas party in recent Palestinian elections.

Although Israeli secret service agents were instrumental in creating Hamas as a counterweight to secular, more socialist political elements in Palestine many years ago, Israel says it will not recognize Hamas or negotiate with Hamas at this time.

Despite these troubling new geo-strategic developments, the world peace movement seems utterly without leadership, direction or energy.

In America, there is no Democratic Presidential peace candidate on the horizon for the 2008 elections and no major Democratic leader is making a firm stand in favor of a timely withdrawal from Iraq or against any expansion of military activities in the Middle East.

On the environmental front, major mainstream newspapers are reporting for the first time that global warming is real and reaching a tipping point in the not too distant future, and that action must be taken. Even Republicans are talking about free-market environmental programs to reduce our energy dependency on Middle Eastern oil by using technological fixes to improve energy efficiency. A majority of Americans would go much further -- those polled support increased environmental regulatory protections even if that would cost them money.

Despite growing bi-partisan awareness of the severity of our global environmental problems, discredited former Presidential candidate Al Gore is the only Democratic standard-bearer attempting to challenge the anti-scientific, reactionary Bush environmental agenda.

Ultra-right wing Judge Samuel Alito has been appointed to the Supreme Court, thanks to the Democratic “lie-down-and-play-dead” strategy, which refused to use the filibuster, or expend much political capital on opposing this appointee, who is much more extreme than the previous Bush candidate, Harriet Mears, who was successfully defeated by right wing pressure groups..

Women’s advocates are counting down the days until the demise of Roe v. Wade and expecting court decisions that will pave the way to outlawing contraception for unmarried women.

Liberal advocacy groups traditionally in the forefront of the struggle for women’s rights, such as NOW, NARAL and People for the American Way have been surprisingly quiescent while Bush and his allies work tirelessly to undo the last fifty years of American female liberation.

American polls indicate massive and growing pessimism, with over 60% reporting they feel America is headed “in the wrong direction”. That seems closely tied to economic concerns, as the economy continues to benefit the largest corporations at the expense of the average white and blue-collar worker and family.

A new Alternet news story, which we link to below, explores America’s failing agricultural market system in great detail. The authors analyze the ability of workers at Wal-Mart and Whole Foods stores to afford even minimal grocery bills at their respective employer’s emporiums. The result? Healthy, organic food delivered through the mainstream retail system is not affordable for most working families. As for making good, locally produced food affordable, Rhonda Janke, associate professor of horticulture and a sustainable cropping systems specialist at Kansas State University, notes that "many CSAs have provisions for 'work shares' and reduced cost shares for low-income families, and that can be part of a 'local safety net'. But that doesn't eliminate the need for the grower to get full price from a minimum number of full-paying customers." Nonprofit organizations around the country are springing up to deliver healthy, affordable food to poor neighborhoods, because the “free-market” system has failed them utterly. Low-income agricultural districts are virtually without access to healthy organic food stores because the per-capita income of those areas is so low that only Wal-Mart food is within their budgets.

But there is no liberal or Democratic Party platform position on agricultural reform that would alleviate the increasing burden of sky-rocketing food costs on the middle class and the working poor. There is no major Democratic party figure supporting agricultural policy initiatives that would provide incentives for local, organic producers, or labor policies that would guarantee a living wage.

Bush’s social security initiative is dead in the water, his prescription drug benefit plan is a certified fiasco, and Americans are increasingly concerned that they cannot afford basic health care for themselves, their parents and their children. No wonder. More than 41 million Americans have no health insurance at all. It costs hundreds of dollars a month for catastrophic health care coverage that provides nothing at all for prescription drugs or routine medical care.

But there is no Democratic initiative for government sponsored universal health care. Instead, various state Governors are promoting free-market based health care plans, like that of Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney, who would make it a crime for healthy young people NOT to buy health insurance.

It is becoming increasingly clear that the 2006 and 2008 elections are historically irrelevant. Even if the elections are not rigged by the Republicans, which some of the stories you’ll find links to below allege, and even if the Democrats win control of the Congress, it is looking extremely unlikely that Democrats with vision, backbone and the courage of their convictions will be elected. Even if strong Democrats are elected, will they be able to wrest control of their party from the Bill and Hillary Clinton policy wonks centered in the Democratic Leadership Council? The Clintonistas have fashioned the current Democratic party strategy, which facilitates an extreme right wing agenda by surrendering on every front without any pretense of serious opposition.

America is now in a state of advanced political paralysis in which the true concerns and aspirations of the majority of Americans have no outlet whatsoever in the political process. This is a very dangerous situation, for American democracy, for world peace and for the global environment.

We all owe it to ourselves to meditate upon what sincere course of action we can undertake to reclaim the levers of democracy from the elite policy makers of both parties, who put short-term gain and political power above the welfare of the American people, the citizens of the world, and the global environment. And we all owe it to our children and our grand-children to take action. If you wait for or Hillary Clinton or Al Gore to do the work for you, you will be waiting until it is far too late to save this Republic from itself.

Top World News Stories at Satya Center

Satya Center is proud to present the second partof author Peter Dale Scott's ground-breaking series of articles on The Global Drug Meta Group, a lengthy investigation of the role of international drug dealers, intelligence services from major powers, Russian bankers and powerful global businessmen in the perpetuation of the global trade in heroin and international terrorism.

Scott reveals that drug dealers enjoy close relations with influential international bankers, weapons merchants, intelligence agents and military officers whose web of interconnecting interests can only be described as a "cartel".

Scott reveals that these drug cartels play a pivotal role in international relations, shaping the geo-strategic landscape in their own best interests while attracting political and military leaders of major countries around the world into partnerships of convenience designed to further the ideological, military and economic interests of the elites in those countries.

This series of articles focuses on the individuals connected to one global drug cartel, dubbed the Global Drug Meta Group by Scott, and describes a meeting at billionaire Saudi Arabian arms merchant Adnan Kashshoggi's villa in 1999 that arguably laid the groundwork for the terrorist bombings in Moscow called "The Russian 9/11", which triggered massive escalation of the war in Chechnya.

Drug trafficking from Afghanistan is the main source of support for international terrorism today. Did an international drug cartel affiliated with a Saudi billionaire, Russian banks, and US and Russian intelligence services conspire in the Moscow bombings of 1999? Read Part One of this Series for essential background information!

And now, some good news about Haiti’s most famous political prisoner, visionary spiritual leader and advocate for the poor, Fr. Gerry Jean-Juste. Fr. Gerry has been imprisoned in Haiti on trumped up charges of conspiracy to commit murder and disturbing the peace for over a year. Fr. Gerry, recently diagnosed with leukemia, had also contracted pneumonia, but has been released, and is now safe in Florida where he will undergo treatment. His release was conditional upon his return to face charges in Haiti, but we pray for him and will continue to write letters and send faxes on his behalf, in the hopes that sanity and freedom will prevail, and that he will overcome the political obstacles on his path of service. We also ask that you pray for his health, and continuing strength that he may continue his work on behalf of the Haitian people & particularly his beloved children who depend for their weekly rice and beans on the Feed My Lambs Food Program, which he started with Margaret Trost of the “What If?” Foundation

Breaking News Headlines 24/7 at Satya Center

Read breaking news stories updated 24/7 from Pacific News Service . Tune in to Satya Center’s 24/7 environmental news headlines and listen to environmental news radio from Environmental News Network at ENN EarthNews ).

Top Stories From Around the Web

[Note: these stories are excerpted from published stories on the internet. They can be viewed in their entirety by clicking on the links]

Getting Busted at the State of the Union
Counterpunch, By CINDY SHEEHAN, 2/01/06

As most of you have probably heard, I was arrested before the State of the Union Address tonight.

I am speechless with fury at what happened and with grief over what we have lost in our country. There have been lies from the police and distortions by the press. (Shocker)

So this is what really happened: This afternoon at the People's State of the Union Address in DC where I was joined by Congresspersons Lynn Woolsey and John Conyers, Ann Wright, Malik Rahim and John Cavanagh, Lynn brought me a ticket to the State of the Union Address. At that time, I was wearing the shirt that said: "2245 Dead. How many more?"

. . . My ticket was in the 5th gallery, front row, fourth seat in. The person who in a few minutes was to arrest me, helped me to my seat. I had just sat down and I was warm from climbing 3 flights of stairs back up from the bathroom so I unzipped my jacket. I turned to the right to take my left arm out, when the same officer saw my shirt and yelled; "Protester." He then ran over to me, hauled me out of my seat and roughly (with my hands behind my back) shoved me up the stairs.

Iranian official: UN sanctions may lead us to seal off Persian Gulf
Haaretz, By Yossi Melman, 1/24/06

A senior Iranian official threatened that Tehran may forcibly prevent oil export via the Straits of Hormuz if the UN imposed economic sanctions due to Iran's nuclear program, an Iranian news Web site said on Monday.

This is the first time an Iranian official makes military threats in a public statement on Tehran's recent disagreements with the West.

The news site, affiliated with the radical student movement in which President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was once a member, quoted Mohammed-Nabi Rudaki, deputy chairman of the Iranian parliament's National Security and Foreign Policy Commission.

According to the report, Rudaki said that "if Europe does not act wisely with the Iranian nuclear portfolio and it is referred to the UN Security Council and economic or air travel restrictions are imposed unjustly, we have the power to halt oil supply to the last drop from the shores of the Persian Gulf via the Straits of Hormuz."

Iran Sanctions Could Drive Oil Past $100
Associated Press, By Brad Foss and George Jahn, 1/22/06


A surge in oil prices last week to almost $70 a barrel on concerns about the restart of Iran's nuclear program only hints at what may lie ahead.

Prices could soar past $100 a barrel, experts say, if the U.N. Security Council authorizes trade sanctions against the Middle Eastern nation, which the West accuses of trying to make nuclear bombs, and Iran curbs oil exports in retaliation. A sharp global economic slowdown could follow.

That's the dilemma the United States and European nations face as they decide whether to act. But Iran would also pay a hefty price if the petro-dollars that now represent 80 percent of export revenues are reduced, potentially stirring civil unrest in a nation with a 14 percent unemployment rate.

"They would shoot themselves in the foot," said Mustafa Alani, director of national security and terrorism studies at the Dubai-based Gulf Research Center. "It's one thing to test the market psychology, it's another to take the actual step and stop oil exports."

A Preemptive Attack on Iran's Nuclear Facilities: Possible Consequences
Center for Nonproliferation Studies
By Sammy Salama and Karen Ruster

At a time when Iraq and the war on terrorism tend to dominate the debate on international affairs, the possibility of an attack on Iran's nuclear facilities has not been a major topic of discussion in the United States. There are reports, however, that the Bush administration has seriously considered this option but opted to put it on the back burner for the time being. Further, on May 6, 2004, the U.S. House of Representatives passed Resolution 398 in a 376-3 vote, calling on the U.S. government "to use all appropriate means to deter, dissuade, and prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons." If a similar resolution passes the Senate, it will give President Bush or any future administration the ability to launch a preemptive strike on Iran's nuclear facilities whenever this is deemed necessary.

In Israel, planning and rhetoric appear to have progressed quite a bit further; it appears that some in Israel are seriously considering a preemptive attack similar to the June 1981 attack on Osirak that destroyed Iraq's nuclear reactor. Meir Dagan, the Chief of Mossad, told parliament members in his inaugural appearance before the Israeli Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee that Iran was close to the "point of no return" and that the specter of Iranian possession of nuclear weapons was the greatest threat to Israel since its inception. On November 11, 2003, Israeli Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom said that Israel had "no plans to attack nuclear facilities in Iran." Less than two weeks later however, during a visit to the United States, Israel's Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz stated that "under no circumstances would Israel be able to tolerate nuclear weapons in Iranian possession" and just six weeks earlier, Mossad had revealed plans for preemptive attacks by F-16 bombers on Iranian nuclear sites. This report will examine the following: The Iranian nuclear facilities most likely to be targeted and their proliferation risk potential; the likely preemptive scenarios involving Israel or the United States; and the possible consequences of any preemptive action.

Planning Nuclear War against Iran
Center for Research on Globalization, By Michel Chossudovsky, 1/03/06

The launching of an outright war using nuclear warheads against Iran is now in the final planning stages.

Coalition partners, which include the US, Israel and Turkey are in "an advanced stage of readiness".

Various military exercises have been conducted, starting in early 2005. In turn, the Iranian Armed Forces have also conducted large scale military maneuvers in the Persian Gulf in December in anticipation of a US sponsored attack.

Since early 2005, there has been intense shuttle diplomacy between Washington, Tel Aviv, Ankara and NATO headquarters in Brussels.

A Self-Vindicating Policy: Building new nuclear weapons creates the threats they are supposed to avert
By George Monbiot. Published in the Guardian 24th January 2006.

In nuclear politics, every action is justified by the response it provokes. The US explains its missile defence programme by claiming that other states are developing new weapons systems, which one day it might need to shoot down. In response, Russia has activated a new weapons system, the Topol-M, designed to “penetrate US anti-missile defences”.

Israel, citing the threat from Iran, insists on retaining its nuclear missiles. Threatened by them (and prompted, among other reasons, by his anti-semitism), the Iranian president says he wants to wipe Israel off the map, and appears to be developing a means of doing so. Israel sees his response as vindicating its nuclear programme. It threatens an air strike, which grants retrospective validity to Ahmadinejad’s designs. And so it goes on. Everyone turns out to be right in the end.

Hamas shock win leaves Mideast peace in turmoil
Middle East Times, By Nasser Abu Bakr, 1/26/06

Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas was to ask Hamas to form a new government on Thursday after its stunning election victory plunged the stalled Middle East peace process into fresh turmoil.
Prime Minister Ahmed Qurei resigned immediately after conceding that the long-ruling secular Fatah faction had been defeated by the Islamist movement that was contesting its first ever parliamentary election.
As thousands of its supporters took to the streets in celebration in a sea green flags, Hamas said that it would open negotiations with Abbas about forming "a political partnership" with Fatah and other parties.
Israel meanwhile made clear that it would have nothing to do with a government that included Hamas.

Hamas is a Creation of Mossad
L’Humanité, By Hassane Zerouky, 1/27/06

Thanks to the Mossad, Israel's "Institute for Intelligence and Special Tasks", the Hamas was allowed to reinforce its presence in the occupied territories. Meanwhile, Arafat's Fatah Movement for National Liberation as well as the Palestinian Left were subjected to the most brutal form of repression and intimidation.

Let us not forget that it was Israel, which in fact created Hamas. According to Zeev Sternell, historian at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, "Israel thought that it was a smart ploy to push the Islamists against the Palestinian Liberation Organisation (PLO)".

Ahmed Yassin, the spiritual leader of the Islamist movement in Palestine, returning from Cairo in the seventies, established an Islamic charity association. Prime Minister Golda Meir, saw this as an opportunity to counterbalance the rise of Arafat’s Fatah movement. According to the Israeli weekly Koteret Rashit (October 1987), "The Islamic associations as well as the university had been supported and encouraged by the Israeli military authority" in charge of the (civilian) administration of the West Bank and Gaza. "They [the Islamic associations and the university] were authorized to receive money payments from abroad."

Pakistan: Musharraf's unhappy new year
The Economist, Jan 19th 2006

FOR Pervez Musharraf, Pakistan's president, troubles are coming not as single spies but in battalions. An American rocket attack on January 13th on a remote mountain village in Bajaur, a tribal agency near the border with Afghanistan, provoked angry nation-wide protests. Army action in Baluchistan province against rebellious tribesmen continues to take a toll of soldiers and civilians, and this week anonymous threats prompted foreign aid organisations to suspend operations there. Pakistan-controlled Kashmir, devastated by an earthquake in October, is suffering the misery of a Himalayan winter. Many Pakistanis fear the peace process with India is going nowhere. To cap it all, the president has faced a political rebellion in Sindh province.

Smothering Hearts and Minds, 1/26/06

Let’s make sure we get this story right. You take the captured, uniformed general of an enemy army – and in blatant violation of all notions of human decency and of the Geneva Conventions— you beat him with rubber hoses, pour water down his nose, then stuff him into a sleeping bag, tie him with electrical cord, and then sit your ass down on his chest until he suffocates and you are convicted of what? “Negligent homicide?”

Just what part of this deliberate torture-onto-death is negligent? And your punishment? A “reprimand,” a $6000 fine and house detention for eight weeks?

So ruled a jury of six U.S. Army officers in the case of Chief Warrant Officer Lewis Welshofer Jr. much to the disgrace of our country, our people and, yes, the American armed forces. At least the Army had the basic humanity to put this torturer on trial for murder and demand life imprisonment. We were all dishonored, however, when the military jury let this guy off with just short of a back-slap and hand-shake.

Warmer seas will wipe out plankton, source of ocean life
UK Independent, By Steve Connor, 1/19/06

The microscopic plants that underpin all life in the oceans are likely to be destroyed by global warming, a study has found.

Scientists have discovered a way that the vital plankton of the oceans can be starved of nutrients as a result of the seas getting warmer. They believe the findings have catastrophic implications for the entire marine habitat, which ultimately relies on plankton at the base of the food chain.

The study is also potentially devastating because it has thrown up a new "positive feedback" mechanism that could result in more carbon dioxide ending up in the atmosphere to cause a runaway greenhouse effect.

'Green' Measures Key to Earth's Future, Report Says
The Los Angeles Times, By Usha Lee McFarling, 1/20/06

By 2050, the planet's population will increase to 9 billion, with most people migrating to massive cities. Better vaccines will lessen the epidemic of HIV and offset flu pandemics. The global economy will quadruple. Demand for food, fresh water and raw materials for construction and heat will stretch natural resources to their limits, according to an analysis released Thursday.

If major changes are not made in the way humans consume natural resources, there will be widespread famine, severe shortages of clean water and huge impacts from natural disasters such as hurricanes. Cities will be beset by vast amounts of wastewater and sewage. Sea levels will rise, fisheries will collapse, emerging disease epidemics will sweep across the globe and coral reefs will die off, said authors of the new report, "The Millennium Ecosystem Assessment." Commissioned by the United Nations, the work is a four-year effort by 1,300 scientists from 95 countries.

This grim scenario, however, can be avoided through policy decisions that emphasize environmental technology, poverty reduction and investments in education and health, the report's authors said.

How do we learn to want less? The globe downshifted
Le Monde Diplomatique, by Serge Latouche, January 2006

The dream of building a self-sufficient and economical society is widely shared, even if under many names. Décroissance (degrowth), downshifting, anti-productivism, requalified development and even sustainable development all evoke roughly the same goal.

. . .A number of simple, apparently anodyne measures would be enough to set the virtuous circles of degrowth in motion. We should:

-  Reduce our ecological footprint so that it is equal to or less than the sum of Earth’s resources. That means bringing material production back down to the levels of the 1960s and 1970s.

-  Internalise transport costs.

-  Relocalise all forms of activity.

-  Return to small-scale farming.

-  Stimulate the production of “relational goods” - activities that depend on strong interpersonal relationships, such as babysitting, caring for the bereaved or terminally ill, massage, even psychoanalysis, whether traded commercially or not, rather than on the exploitation of resources.

-  Reduce energy waste by three-quarters.

-  Heavily tax advertising expenditure.

-  Decree a moratorium on technological innovation, pending an in-depth assessment of its achievements and a reorientation of scientific and technical research according to new aspirations.

The State of the Empire, 2006,
By JAMES PETRAS, 1/14/06

. . .The US economy will continue to diverge in a double sense. The financial sector will expand overseas, especially the major investment houses like Goldman Sachs, J.P. Morgan, Citibank while the manufacturing sector led by the 'Big Three' automobile sector will decline even further, with a good chance that General Motors will go into bankruptcy. The US multi-nationals will expand on a world scale, buying into major banks and industries, especially in China, extending the economic reach of the empire, while the domestic economy will suffer as the housing and real estate speculative bubble collapses, high energy prices undermine export competitiveness, resulting in sharp decline in consumer spending.

. . .The domestic social crisis will deepen as overseas profit opportunities expand. In 2006, over 90% of US workers will be paying for their costly individual health and pension plans or, if they cannot pay, they will lose coverage. Precarious work contracts are the norm for all but a small sector of public employees. Real inflation (including increased health, education, energy and pension costs) will rise to about two times the consumer price index and contribute to the further decline in actual living standards. A rapid deflation of the housing bubble would reduce the "paper value" of homeowners by half and force many who are heavily indebted into bankruptcy.

Nevertheless, as happened in recent decades (after the Savings and Loan, Dotcom, Enron and other speculative failures), while millions of small speculators and investors in real estate will lose billions of dollars, their discontent will not find any political expression. The greater the inequalities in income, property and wealth between the financial and imperial economic elites, on the one hand, and the domestic wage and salaried classes, on the other, the lower the level of organized political and social opposition.

Chatting Up the TSA
The Independent Institute, Ivan Eland, December 30, 2005

Next time you go to the airport be sure to put on a happy face, even if you’ve been informed that your flight has been delayed b

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