Under New Management Series #1: O Ba Ma... O Ba Ma... O Ba Ma...
As we all felt a week ago - which already seems like a year ago! - a major turning point has been reached in humanity's quest for global harmony and peace. Over a billion souls shed tears and were uplifted as they watched our soul brother Barack Hussein Obama pledges to do his best as the new president of the United States and new leader of this planet. As Matthew shared the next day with us from his vantage point, "The energy of this day, energy that opened wide the portals of change based in love and enlightenment, reached heights not felt on Earth since the finest hours of Atlantis and Lemuria." The contagious spirit of empowerment that millions of souls experienced as they celebrated the accession of this enlightened soul of humble origins has had such a powerful healing effect, after centuries of oppression experienced by so many of us through various past and present lifetimes, that it is now impossible not to feel optimistic about our future, despite the various dark clouds still hanging around us. It now seems possible that a new day has indeed dawned and that we will not only manage to pull ourselves up by our boot strings and steer our fast evolving civilization into a new, safer direction, but also expand in the process our sense of forming a global spiritual community gradually empowering itself to contribute in shaping the future of this world.
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"Rosa sat so Martin could walk... Martin walked, so Obama could run... Obama is running so our children can fly!"
- Taken from a text message from a 19-year old single mother as reported HERE
Dear World: We, the United States of America, your top quality supplier of the ideals of liberty and democracy, would like to apologize for our 2001-2009 interruption in service. The technical fault that led to this eight-year service outage has been located, and the software responsible was replaced January 20. Early tests of the newly installed program indicate that we are now operating correctly, and we expect it to be fully functional in the near future. We apologize for any inconvenience caused by the outage. We look forward to resuming full service and hope to improve in years to come. We thank you for your patience and understanding. Sincerely, THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA.
"Help us then, now, Lord, to work for that day when nation shall not lift up sword against nation, when tanks will be beaten into tractors, when every man and every woman shall sit under his or her own vine and fig tree, and none shall be afraid; when justice will roll down like waters and righteousness as a mighty stream."
"In the middle of last year, we had a global outcry about the perilous state of billions of people in developing countries whose governments could not afford to provide enough food for them and who could not themselves earn enough to buy food at prevailing prices. These problems are now worse, but the global outcry is all about the multinational banks that are under threat. And several multiples of the money that could not be found to provide food for the hungry are quickly being delivered to bail out irresponsible finance."
1. Feedback from ERN subscribers
2. Optimism - for the first time in 8 years
3. Hope for Obama, America, and the World
4. President orders air strikes on villages in tribal area
5. CODE RED: Economy in Collapse - Drastic Actions Will Be Taken
6. An Exhausted System That Needs Rethinking
7. Gary Mc Kinnon, the way out
8. China: Dazzling UFO seen and filmed by eight firefighters
9. Obama administration first 100 days to promote antigravity technology
10. U.S. lead essential in averting nuke Armaggedon
11. Children found with bullets lodged in their head
12. The outcry is muted, but the food crisis is getting worse
13. New age of rebellion and riot stalks Europe
14. Worst Than an Earthquake
15. Our Myopic View of Gaza Conflict and Jewish Dissenters Speak out Over Gaza
16. Beyond the Bailout: Agenda for a New Economy
17. Lost colonies: The large-scale disappearance of the humble honeybee threatens agriculture worldwide
18. Message from Matthew -- January 19, 2009
19. Message from SaLuSa -- January 26, 2009
20. This is Your Brain on Bliss
WORTHY OF YOUR ATTENTION
Amazon tribes gather at the World Social Forum in Belem, Brazil (12 telling pictures) http://www.telegraph.co.uk/earth/earthpicturegalleries/4362150/Amazon-tribes-gather-at-the-World-Social-Forum-in-Belem-Brazil.html
While world leaders are gathering in Davos, Switzerland, for the World Economic Forum, an alternative meeting is taking place in Brazil. Anti-globalisation activists are gathering in Belém, a city at the mouth of the Amazon, for the six-day World Social Forum (WSF). The choice of Belém, the capital of Pará state and the northeastern gateway to the Amazon jungle region, as this years WSF venue, indicates emphasis on environmental and climate issues as well as social concerns, with the participation of poor and ethnically diverse communities living in the world's greatest tropical forest and freshwater reserve. To launch this year's forum, people from several different Amazonian tribes took part in a march to highlight the plight of the rainforest. Over 100,000 people are expected to participate in over 2,000 activities in Belém, including seminars, conferences, assemblies, cultural activities, marches and other forms of debate and demonstrations. Participants highlighted the fact that this would be the first forum to be held outside the era of former US president George W. Bush, who opposed many of the environmental and economic plans advocated by groups involved. Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, Bolivia's Evo Morales, Ecuador's Rafael Correa, Fernando Lugo of Paraguay and Venezuelan leader Hugo Chavez have all confirmed their attendance. However, Mexico's President Felipe Calderon and Colombia's Alvaro Uribe have chosen to attend the WEF in Davos instead. The first World Social Forum was held in 2001 in Brazil's southern city of Porto Alegre, as a space for debate going beyond the protests usually waged by many of the groups taking part. It has become an annual fixture since - with the exception of 2008 - and has grown to become the biggest anti-globalisation event on the planet. The World Social Forum runs from January 27 to February 1. More on this in Activists celebrate opening of World Social Forum in Belem and also through http://www.wsftv.net/ and this LINK
At Davos, economic gloom is the order of the day (January 28, 2009) http://www.iht.com/articles/2009/01/28/business/econ.4-418005.php
At this year's annual meeting of the World Economic Forum, precious few attendees are prepared to make a prediction for the global economy. For those willing to guess, gloom is the order of the day."We cannot underestimate the challenges and dangers that the world economy faces in 2009," Stephen Roach, chairman of Morgan Stanley Asia, said at the forum's traditional opening debate on the broad economic outlook. "It will most likely be the first year since World War II when gross domestic product actually contracts."The pessimism was reinforced by agencies as diverse as the International Monetary Fund, which nearly doubled its estimate of total bank losses, to the International Labor Organization, a United Nations agency, which warned that as many as 40 million people could lose their jobs this year. (...) Global economic growth will reach 0.5 percent this year, the weakest pace since World War II, the IMF said in a report. That is down from a 2.2 percent forecast in November. The IMF also predicted that losses linked to bad U.S. loans could reach $2.2 trillion, weighing down banks worldwide. That far higher than the $1.4 trillion it anticipated in a November report. "Unless stronger financial strains and uncertainties are forcefully addressed, the pernicious feedback loop between real activity and financial markets will intensify, leading to even more toxic effects on global growth," it said.The picture in individual areas of the world was equally grim, in the IMF's view. It foresees a 1.6 percent contraction of GDP in the United States this year, and 2.6 percent in Japan. The euro-zone economy, with 16 countries, will shrink by 2 percent, it said. CLIP MUCH more through this LINK
BORN AGAIN AMERICAN - Take the time to listen to this wonderful, moving song! http://www.bornagainamerican.org/
Recommended by Judith Iam (email@example.com) who wrote: "Norman Lear commissioned this song. I think progressives like Lear have made great breakthroughs in understanding and communicating the message to a broader audience." If you are an American subscriber, you may want to sign this pledge...
Playing For Change: Song Around the World "Stand By Me" http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Us-TVg40ExM
Recommended by Ed Pearson (firstname.lastname@example.org) who wrote: "Having the Internet means that at least once a week I get to see something I never imagined. This is absolutely wonderful. Truly, the best 5 minutes and 27 seconds you will spend today. Listen and watch musicians from around the world play together on the song Stand By Me." - Original version of Stand by me with River Phoenix
We Are The Ones Song by will.i.am - Obama (Vibrant, uplifting! and READ the comment from Launie below!) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ghSJsEVf0pU
Recommended by Launie (email@example.com) who wrote: "On this divinely blessed day, I am lead to share with you a song that carried me through the Presidential campaign. I was a state democratic delegate for Iowa, and met Obama on the farmland here. He was as the stillness of the lake in the morning. It was then I shared with him, "We now have a black Abe Lincoln." He laughed and stated he had not heard that before. Our journey has begun..." Later on Launie added: "I understand and fully appreciate the tears! I first cried the tears after I had returned home from National Democratic Platform convention in Florida, and felt there was no hope for this country. I listened to the speeches for the Democratic Convention on the tv, and while standing at the kitchen sink praying for hope for this country and this world, I heard a voice speaking on the tv that caused me to pause and listen carefully. I found myself going to living room to see who was speaking. It was a black Senator from Illinois with a funny name. I held my breath, listening closely with my inner ear, and I sat down in the recliner and shed tears of joy~ there is hope, can this light possibly stay lit and remain safe in this world to guide the way for the ripples to go throughout the nation and the world.I kept telling others to keep their eyes on this Senator, he could be the next president. The fire was lit, it remained constant and true. Sitting at the democratic headquarters in my town, making phone calls in the weeks that preceded the election, and on election day. The callers were saying the election was going to be close and their vote was needed for Obama. Results were coming in and it was closer than what had been indicated by the surveys. I work with the energetics of languaging, and I immediately asked everyone to take the words, "The election is going to be close" out of their phone calls. They understood, and the results took off in the direction we all know that came to be. Our county and our state of Iowa was for Obama. It was an honor to be a delegate for such an incredible man and family, and I am grateful you are sharing this wonderful song with the world. Bright Blessings..." -- A candle loses nothing by lighting another candle, in fact, it can get a bit brighter while giving the light.
Taking WantToKnow.info to the Next Level: The Insight Course http://www.WantToKnow.info/009/090121_be_the_change_you_want_to_see
(...) The mind and heart expanding Insight Course covers a rich variety of life topics masterfully woven together. The most powerful and revealing material from WantToKnow.info is combined with other highly inspiring materials which deepen your insight, expand your horizons, and embolden you to be the change you want to see in the world. And you can move through the course at whatever pace is best for you, with or without the support of caring guides who have completed the course. (...) Don't miss this powerful opportunity to transform your life and be the change you want to see in our world. To begin your journey through the Insight Course, click http://insightcourse.net
Action Alert: Stop EPA from Eliminating Access to Colloidal Silver (January 20, 2009) http://www.NaturalNews.com/025366.html
Urgent Action Needed - Petition Seeks to Have Nano-Silver Regulated as a Pesticide. A coalition of environmental and activist groups have been inundating their members with emails and other messages to garner support for a misguided petition to have the EPA regulate nano-sized silver particles as pesticides. Regardless of what the intentions of any of the groups behind the petition may be, make no mistake that what is really behind this effort is the suppression of colloidal silver because of the threat it represents to billions of dollars in profits of the world pharmaceutical empire. CLIP Recommended by Charlie White (firstname.lastname@example.org) who wrote: "It is important we voice loud objection to the FDA and, in this case, the EPA, eliminating such beneficial and inexpensive remedies as colloidal silver. Concerned individuals - please pass this along because one-by-one our natural remedies, supplements and health tips will become inaccessible, if not illegal. Once Codex Alimentarius is in place to "harmonize" our products, we are dependent on seeing doctors and buying pharmaceuticals -- thus having no recourse but to turn responsibility of our body and personal healthcare over to someone else. An abundance of information is available at the following websites: http://www.iahf.com/index1.html and http://www.nocodexgenocide.com/nocodexgenocide.html - Note from Jean: I recommend you read the two following Wikipedia entries to have a better perspective of this issue: Codex Alimentarius and Health freedom movement
2013: END OF DAYS OR A NEW BEGINNING- ENVISIONING THE WORLD AFTER THE EVENTS OF 2012 http://www.redroom.com/publishedwork/2013-end-days-or-a-new-beginning-envisioning-world-after-events-2012
2012. The year everyone is talking about. Some dread it, thinking it the beginning of the end. Others await it with delicious anticipation, believing it to be the catalyst for a transformational period that will bring about a quantum leap of consciousness. 2013: Apocalypse or Rebirth of the World examines all the popular myths, prophecies and predictions circulating about 2012, including the Mayan teachings of time acceleration and global awakening on a consciousness level. But this book also takes an in-depth look at lesser known predictions and prophecies, and at the more scientific and reality-based challenges we will be facing. -- Several comments HERE
Larry King Presents UFO Evidence: Major Media Articles Raise Intriguing Questions http://www.WantToKnow.info/ufos/ufos_evidence_larry_king
Larry King presents compelling evidence in several CNN articles below that there is much more to the UFO phenomenon than meets the eye. Other highly revealing one-paragraph excerpts from major media articles also present fascinating UFO evidence. NOTE from Jean: I feel we are fast approaching a MAJOR breakthrough and that the official policy of denial about the actual existence of highly advanced civilizations monitoring Earth and meddling - in some cases - with what is going on here, is being phased out to be soon replaced with an official acknowledgement of this reality, without again stirring up fears about this but with the goal of gradually transferring from the top-secret military sector to the public one the various new technological means devised and/or retroengineered to produce energy, transport people and things and radically curtail all forms of pollution on Earth. Yet, obviously this is also contingent upon ratcheting up a couple more notches our collective spiritual awakening to reach a critical mass of higher consciousness about our innate global unity as souls embodied on Earth for the purpose of accruing ever greater experience and learning.
Traditionalist Bishop Refuses to Kowtow to Zionists in Germany (January 23, 2009)
Translated from the German by J M Damon http://www.radiovaticana.org/ted/Articolo.asp?c=260809
The district attorney of Regensburg, Bavaria is investigating a Catholic bishop of the Saint Pious X Order on charges of inciting the masses. On Friday, acting section chief Edgar Zach confirmed a corresponding report of the Bavarian Broadcasting Company. In an interview with the Swedish TV broadcasting company SVT the British Traditionalist Bishop Richard Williamson had expressed doubts that the National Socialists murdered six million Jews during World War II. According to Italian press reports, Bishop Williamson is one of four Traditionalist bishops whose excommunication Pope Benedict XVI intends to rescind. It is my understanding that according to the best scientific estimates, 200,000 to 300,000 Jews died in National Socialist concentration camps, but none of them in homicidal gas chambers he stated in the interview, which is posted on the website of SVT as well as on Youtube. The bishop explained that where laws and worldly matters are concerned the Traditionalist Order are of the opinion that objective and scientific evidence should take precedence over subjective and emotional responses. Objective evidence shows that concentration camps such as Auschwitz had no facilities to murder large numbers of prisoners.For one thing, the alleged homicidal gas chambers lacked airtight doors. He referred to the investigatory work of Fred Leuchter, an American engineer who designs homicidal gas chambers for US prisons. To express doubts about the Holocaust of 1939-45" is a criminal offense in Germany punishable by up to five years in prison. The TV interview was apparently recorded at the seminary of the Brothers of Piety in Zaitzkofen near Regensburg. (...) Concerning official reaction in Germany, it is significant that at the end of the interview, Bishop Williamson acknowledged that he understands it is a crime for him to express his opinions in Germany. He acknowledged that the interview could result in his imprisonment before I leave Germany. MUCH more on this bishop through this LINK and watch this controversial TV interview (in English) at http://svtplay.se/v/1413831/webbextra_langre_intervju_med_williamson and at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k6C9BuXe2RM and at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YHhdBzPH_zM - Bishop Williamson has MANY other Richard Williamson YouTube interviews! including Roman Catholic Bishop Richard Williamson on 9-11 being an inside job (MUST listen to!) Bishop Richard Williamson regularly tells his congregation that the official US government conspiracy theory that Muslim terrorists used hijacked airliners to perpetrate 911 is a total lie. He also emphasizes that we are being enslaved by lies and that the official 911 story was the enabling lie for the current impetus towards totalitarian global fascist ("police state") government. He says that Catholic Cardinals and the Catholic hierarchy go along with the 911 lie and that our world is being enslaved by that lie and others. Take a couple minutes and listen to this courageous bishop!!!
Absolutely Bizarre 'Creature' In Benjamin Fulford's Spine (1-23-9) http://www.rense.com/general84/abso.htm
On January 22nd I had a major operation. They opened a 13 centimer section of my spinal cord and removed a tumour. The doctors say they have never, in thousands of operations, ever seen a tumour like it. It looks like a salamander and has clearly defined eyes and a tail. I took a picture of it with my cell phone camera. It may be what was responsible for the weird visions I had of the nature of the universe. Since it was on my spinal cord it was directly attached to my brain. As I said before, it has what appears to be eyes and a mouth and the doctors reported some hard matter (spine?) in the tail of the creature. It was 8.3 cm long. I have asked the doctors for hi rez pictures. It has been sent to a lab for testing but results are not expected for 10 days. However, one of the doctors told me the tail seemed to have a bony structure in it. That is not something you would expect to find in a tumour made of nerve cells. Also, you can see what look like eyes. This really is bizarre CLIP - Looks like he was infected with some kind of Goa'uld-like critter! LOTS of speculative comments added there! More on this in Benjamin Fulford's 'Creature' (?)
Collective consciousness and the inauguration (January 21, 2009) (AMAZING! - check the graph!!!) http://deanradin.blogspot.com/2009/01/this-is-plot-of-odds-against-chance-for.html This is a plot of odds against chance for data from the Global Consciousness Project on the evening before and day of the Obama inauguration. The red arrow points to the moment when the oath of office was being recited. This is an exploratory analysis, so it shouldn't be regarded as persuasive as a preplanned analysis would be. But still, the coincidence in time between what was arguably the single most anticipated moment by hundreds of millions of viewers during the inauguration, and the spike in odds at the same time, is quite striking. Further analyses of this event will eventually be posted at the GCP site.
Barack Obama Elected President (Check the last graph at the bottom of this webpage) http://noosphere.princeton.edu/obama.elected.html
(...) Finally, an instructive example of what is a "big" effect. The September 11 2001 terror attacks were analysed carefully and extensively, and we can conclude that the effects were among the largest in our 10-year database. The following figure shows a comparison of 24 hours of data from 9/11 beginning with the crash of the first plane into the World Trade towers, and a 24 hour period of data beginning with the announcement that Barack Obama had won the election to become the 44th President of the United States of America. The figure speaks for itself -- remembering that we cannot reliably interpret single events like this, nevertheless it appears that the election shows at least as strong an effect as the terror attacks. We can hope that the election is the beginning of truly positive change.
Change has come to WhiteHouse.gov (January 20th, 2009) http://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/change_has_come_to_whitehouse-gov/
Welcome to the new WhiteHouse.gov. I'm Macon Phillips, the Director of New Media for the White House and one of the people who will be contributing to the blog. A short time ago, Barack Obama was sworn in as the 44th president of the United States and his new administration officially came to life. One of the first changes is the White House's new website, which will serve as a place for the President and his administration to connect with the rest of the nation and the world. Millions of Americans have powered President Obama's journey to the White House, many taking advantage of the internet to play a role in shaping our country's future. WhiteHouse.gov is just the beginning of the new administration's efforts to expand and deepen this online engagement. Just like your new government, WhiteHouse.gov and the rest of the Administration's online programs will put citizens first. Our initial new media efforts will center around three priorities:
- Communication -- Americans are eager for information about the state of the economy, national security and a host of other issues. This site will feature timely and in-depth content meant to keep everyone up-to-date and educated. Check out the briefing room, keep tabs on the blog (feed://www.whitehouse.gov/feed/blog/">RSS feed) and take a moment to sign up for e-mail updates from the President and his administration so you can be sure to know about major announcements and decisions.
- Transparency -- President Obama has committed to making his administration the most open and transparent in history, and WhiteHouse.gov will play a major role in delivering on that promise. The President's executive orders and proclamations will be published for everyone to review, and thats just the beginning of our efforts to provide a window for all Americans into the business of the government. You can also learn about some of the senior leadership in the new administration and about the Presidents policy priorities.
- Participation -- President Obama started his career as a community organizer on the South Side of Chicago, where he saw firsthand what people can do when they come together for a common cause. Citizen participation will be a priority for the Administration, and the internet will play an important role in that. One significant addition to WhiteHouse.gov reflects a campaign promise from the President: we will publish all non-emergency legislation to the website for five days, and allow the public to review and comment before the President signs it. CLIP
Obama freezing pay of top staff; signs ethics rule http://content.usatoday.com/communities/theoval/post/2009/01/61712448/1
President Obama just announced that the pay of top White House employees is being frozen. The Associated Press says it will affect those in positions paying more than $100,000 a year."All of you are committed to building a more responsible government," Obama told top staff at a meeting now underway at the White House."Families are tightening their belts and so should Washington," Obama added.The president also announced he's about to sign new ethics rules designed to restrict lobbying by current staff after they leave the administration. Update at 2:55 p.m. ET: The White House just put out this statement about the actions the president took today. Update at 1:31 pm. ET: "What a moment we are in," Obama also said. "What an opportunity we have to change this country." Update at 1:28 p.m. ET: The AP adds that about 100 White House aides will be affected. Update at 1:25 p.m. ET: Obama also announced he is directing federal agencies to be more open, in part by returning to pre-Bush administration policies regarding the Freedom of Information Act. "Transparency and the rule of law will be the touchstones of this presidency," he said.
Obama touts aid plan's impact on average Americans (Jan 25) http://hosted.ap.org/dynamic/stories/O/OBAMA_ECONOMY?SITE=AP&SECTION=HOME&TEMPLATE=DEFAULT&CTIME=2009-01-24-06-00-39
(...) "Our economy could fall $1 trillion short of its full capacity, which translates into more than $12,000 in lost income for a family of four. And we could lose a generation of potential, as more young Americans are forced to forgo college dreams or the chance to train for the jobs of the future," Obama said in a five-minute address released Saturday morning by radio and the Internet."In short, if we do not act boldly and swiftly, a bad situation could become dramatically worse." It was the latest appeal from the new president for a massive spending bill designed to inject almost $1 trillion into the economy and fulfill campaign pledges. Obama spent much of last week wooing reluctant legislators - many from his own Democratic Party - and weighing whether there's a need for a second economic package, which aides refused to rule out. CLIP
What Obama Said
President Barack Obama is already giving signs that he is committed to the fight against extreme poverty. In his inaugural address yesterday, he said: To the people of poor nations, we pledge to work alongside you to make your farms flourish and let clean waters flow; to nourish starved bodies and feed hungry minds. And to those nations like ours that enjoy relative plenty, we say we can no longer afford indifference to suffering outside our borders; nor can we consume the world's resources without regard to effect. For the world has changed, and we must change with it. Please take a moment to send a thank you note to President Obama for his commitment and let him know that the world is watching, and hoping to see him follow through on his plans: http://www.one.org/thankobama/o.pl?id=814-3936074-8Q03vVx&t=3 - The administrations new website, Whitehouse.gov, goes even further to spell out what we can expect from President Obama: Obama and Biden will embrace the Millennium Development Goal of cutting extreme poverty and hunger around the world in half by 2015, and they will double our foreign assistance to achieve that goal. This will help the world's weakest states build healthy and educated communities, reduce poverty, develop markets, and generate wealth. U.S. ONE members have been working for a long time to encourage Obama to make these commitments. During the campaign, more than 100,000 members successfully urged then-Senator Obama to go On the Record with his commitments to fighting global poverty and preventable disease. Then another 100,000 strong petitioned him to make a statement about extreme poverty in his inaugural address and with his first budget request. Now that hes in office, well be working hard to encourage him to turn these historic commitments into action. Thank you for making a difference, David Lane, ONE.org
Native American Family To See Adopted Son Sworn In (January 20, 2009) http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/01/19/AR2009011903235.html
Back home in Lodge Grass, Mont., they keep talking about Hartford Black Eagle's luck. "People around here, even the white people, say, 'You're the luckiest the person in the world. You adopted the president of the United States!' " he said."Thank you," is his usual response. But Black Eagle doesn't see his role in today's inauguration in terms of good fortune. He sees something sacred. He and Mary, his wife of 57 years, were set to be whisked to the Capitol by inauguration organizers early today for the swearing-in, where they will be seated near the center of American power. The couple adopted Barack Obama in a traditional Native American ceremony in May, when the candidate made a campaign stop at the vast Crow reservation. The adoption marked an unusually intimate intertwining of politics, history and family -- but one that perhaps seems less jarring in the case of a president who reached today's swearing-in, at least in part, on the power of his personal story and its broader appeal. (...) "He started walking toward me. Oh man, I was kind of tongue-tied, and he said, 'Are you my new mother, Mary?' And I said 'Yes.' He just gave me a hug." At the private adoption, Hartford waved smoke from burning cedar needles over Obama, twice in the front and twice in the back, with a bald eagle fan. Afterward, Obama told reporters he was deeply moved by the ceremony, and he vowed that if he won, he would have his new parents come to the White House. (...) Hartford is a spiritual healer and had been given the crucial, sacred responsibility of christening Obama with a Crow name. The act of naming is supposed to reflect the past of the person bestowing the name and the future of the person receiving it, Hartford said. (...) As it happened, "Awe Kooda Bilaxpak Kuxshish" was the name Hartford chose. It reflected Hartford's own travels as a healer, and translates as: "One Who Helps People Throughout This Land."
Obama to close terrorist 'black sites' (January 22, 2009) http://washingtontimes.com/news/2009/jan/22/obama-close-terrorist-black-sites/
President Obama on Thursday will order the closure of so-called black sites, where CIA and European security services have interrogated terrorist suspects, under executive orders dismantling much of the Bush administration's architecture for the war on terror, according to four individuals familiar with a draft executive order. Mr. Obama will shutter "all permanent detention facilities overseas," the draft said, according to the individuals who asked not to be named because the orders have not yet been signed. There are at least eight such prisons, according to published reports. The Bush administration never revealed the number or location of the facilities, although several were said to be in Eastern Europe. The individuals said there will be three executive orders. One will order the black sites closed and require all interrogations of detainees across the entire U.S. intelligence community to adhere to the U.S. Army Field Manual. The manual specifies a range of interrogation techniques that are not considered torture. Another executive order will close the prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba within 12 months, in accordance with an Obama campaign pledge. The final order deals with overall detention policy. The orders discuss the status of the estimated 250 detainees at Guantanamo and what to do with them and calls for a series of reviews on the status of the prisoners and the military commissions set up to try them. The review will look at transferring prisoners to military facilities in the United States. Mr. Obama, in one of his first acts as president, on Wednesday suspended all the military commissions for 120 days. During his campaign and after his election, he promised that his administration would not practice torture. In his Inaugural address Tuesday, he said, "we reject as false the choice between our safety and our ideals. Those ideals still light the world and we will not give them up for expedience's sake." CLIP
Human Rights Group: Obama Left Wiggle Room On Torture http://www.commondreams.org/further/human-rights-group-obama-left-wiggle-room-torture
Did President Obamas executive order today banning torture leave wiggle room for the possibility of reverting to coercive techniques that the current exec order outlaws?Michael Ratner, the president of the Center for Constitutional Rights, tells me he thinks the answer is Yes. Obama strongly repudiated torture as he signed todays executive order, which mandates that the Army Field Manual be strictly adhered to during interrogations. But Ratner pointed to the following lines in the executive order that, he said, provided a possible loophole by creating a Task Force to study the issue: The mission of the Special Task Force shall be:(1) to study and evaluate whether the interrogation practices and techniques in Army Field Manual 2-22.3, when employed by departments or agencies outside the military, provide an appropriate means of acquiring the intelligence necessary to protect the Nation, and, if warranted, to recommend any additional or different guidance for other departments or agencies The key there, Ratner says, is that the exec order appears to allow for an evaluation as to whether a key word the Army Field Manual techniques are sufficient to protect the nation. That, he says, allows for the Task Force to find after studying the issue that there may be cases where its acceptable to go beyond the Army Field Manual. CLIP
Obama to Bush: I Can Release Your Records. Don't Like It? Sue. http://www.motherjones.com/mojoblog/archives/2009/01/11919_executive_order_13233_revoked_obama_bush_sue_me.html
On his first day in office, President Obama put former president Bush on notice. His administration just released an executive order that will make it difficult for Bush to shield his White House records--and those of former Vice President Dick Cheney--from public scrutiny by invoking the doctrine of executive privilege. Shortly after taking office, Bush handed down his own executive order, amending the Presidential Records Act to give current and past presidents, along with their heirs, veto power over the release of presidential records, which are considered the property of the American people."[Obama]'s putting former presidents on notice that if you want to continue a claim of executive privilege that [Obama] doesn't think is well-placed,you're going to have to go to court," says Anne Weismann, the chief counsel for Citizens for Ethics and Responsibility in Washington (CREW).During the campaign, Obama promised to "nullify attempts to make the timely release of presidential records more difficult." CLIP
Obama Stops Bush's Last-Minute Regulations (January 21, 2009) http://www.earthjustice.org/news/press/2009/obama-stops-bush-s-last-minute-regulations.html
Seattle, WA -- White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel Tuesday sent a memo to the heads of all executive departments and agencies, ordering a stop to all pending regulations until a legal and policy review can be conducted by the Obama administration. A rule that would eliminate Endangered Species Act protections for wolves in the northern Rocky Mountains except for those in Wyoming was scheduled to be published on January 27. Now it will fall under review with the new administration. Among others, the Bush administration recently finalized rules that significantly weaken the Endangered Species Act, allow for mining deposits to be dumped within 100 feet of flowing streams and exempts large-scale factory farms from notifying government officials when they release unsafe levels of toxic emissions into the community. Earthjustice, a public interest law firm, filed suit against all of these rules. The following statement is from Patti Goldman, Vice President of Program for Earthjustice: "While we are pleased that the new administration has put a stop to these hasty actions, there are some rules we continue to monitor." Under the Emanuel memo, the wolf delisting rule will be withdrawn. This rule was extremely controversial and was rushed through even though a federal district court had declared the wolf delisting illegal in July. It defied the law which prohibits a state by state listing when the wolves do not respect state boundaries. "For the vast majority of the midnight regulations, the Bush administration got them published in time to evade the Emanuel memo's freeze. Earthjustice has brought dozens of legal challenges to Bush rollbacks, which provides the ultimate pathway to reining in the excesses of the Bush administration."
Officials: Obama to reverse abortion policy (23 Jan 2009) http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5hGEFeIsWrfluY5Iqqe_zaKFw9YOgD95SUB4G1
WASHINGTON (AP) President Barack Obama plans to sign an executive order ending the ban on federal funds for international groups that promote or perform abortions, officials told The Associated Press on Friday.The move, long expected in the Democratic president's first week in office, will be welcomed by liberals and criticized by abortion rights foes.The policy bans U.S. taxpayer money, usually in the form of U.S. Agency for International Development funds, from going to international family planning groups that either offer abortions or provide information, counseling or referrals about abortion. It is also known as the "global gag rule," because it prohibits taxpayer funding for groups that even talk about abortion if there is an unplanned pregnancy. CLIP
Obama administration considers launch of 'bad bank' http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/newsbysector/banksandfinance/4309019/Obama-administration-considers-launch-of-bad-bank.html
US Treasury Secretary designate Tim Geithner is considering the use of a giant government-funded "bad bank" to help the country's financial sector as he said President Barack Obama would set out a full recovery plan for the ailing US economy within weeks. (...) Mr Geithner, facing a grilling from the US Congress ahead of a confirmation vote over his position today, said his key aim was to get banks lending to one another and the wider market in order to heal the country's economic problems. His comments follow sharp declines in the share prices of many of the US's biggest banks in recent days amid fears of further multi-billion dollar write-downs and a lack of liquidity. Mr Geithner succeeded in boosting the markets, with the Dow Jones rising 114.38 points to 8063.47, following Tuesday's 332-point tumble. The rise was in part down to Mr Geithner admitting the new Obama administration could establish a "bad bank" to soak up toxic assets. CLIP
44 Takes Office with Blunt Rejection of 43 by Helen Thomas (January 21, 2009) http://www.commondreams.org/view/2009/01/21-2
WASHINGTON -- Looking westward into the sun and speaking to more than 1 million people on the Mall in front of him and to millions more around the world, President Barack Obama delivered a tough inaugural speech that must have made members of the outgoing Bush administration squirm in their chairs.After thanking President George W. Bush for his service to the nation and for helping during the presidential transition, Obama veered sharply, offering no attempt at sugar-coating, no deeper genuflection toward the Bushes, who left the Capitol by helicopter soon after Obama's blunt speech and headed for Texas. Instead, Obama hit his theme early and often in his 18-minute address: The presidential inaugural oath is sometimes taken "amidst gathering clouds and raging storms." Now is one of those times, he said.Obama declared "we are in the midst of crisis" and recounted wars, a badly weakened economy that he blamed on greed on the part of some and "also on our collective failure to make hard choices."Homes have been lost, jobs shed, business shuttered, he recounted. Health care is too costly, schools fail too many students and we waste our energy. There was no affable reference to Bush's eight years in office or mention of the wonders of the Bush legacy, nothing warm and fuzzy. It was a putdown, a repudiation of the Bush years. Obama was just warming up. (...) One watching Obama could only conclude that the page has been turned, dramatically and completely.
Wrapping up the Citizens Briefing Book (January 16, 2009) http://change.gov/newsroom/entry/wrapping_up_the_citizens_briefing_book/
Every day, the President receives books filled with facts and recommendations to be considered while crafting and enacting policies. The Citizens Briefing Booka project that has enabled everyday Americans to share their expertise and insight with President Obamahas been a tremendous success so far.Michael Strautmanis, Director of Public Liaison and Intergovernmental Affairs for the Transition, was particularly impressed by the enthusiastic response the feature has elicited. We have had an unbelievable responseover 70,000 people participated, half a million votes, and tens of thousands of wonderful ideas, Strautmanis said.
Barack Obama: What happens after the stardust settles? (23 Jan 2009) http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/northamerica/usa/barackobama/4326092/Barack-Obama-What-happens-after-the-stardust-settles.html
The inauguration party's over, and America has gone back to work - but its people are keeping a close eye on the new man in charge. (...) African Americans may feel it most intensely, but they are not the only ones experiencing this enthusiasm surge. Talking solemnly on The Oprah Winfrey Show, Justin Timberlake intoned how, the day after the inauguration, "I woke up with a little swagger in my step [Americans] all of a sudden have swagger. We are cool now. Think about it."It was a predictably cringe-making choice of words from a pop star who, in any other country probably wouldn't have been allowed anywhere near the spotlight on such an occasion. But, if not a swagger, at least as even Republicans will concede there is a new spring in the stride of America.How long it will last is another matter, though surveys suggest people will give Mr Obama up to two years to start solving the country's problems. One might have thought that rather depends how serious the problems get, but at present, he enjoys the highest approval ratings for an incoming president since 1981. (...) Dennis Roach, a commercial diving contractor and unusually an ardent black Republican, has spent the past few days driving around New Jersey on business. He said that he has had to pretend that he is as enthusiastic about Obama as people assume him to be."People have been saying how great it is, and especially black people who've been giving me high fives and saying 'HNIC' [Head Negro In Charge]," he said. "I've just agreed. I don't want to rain on his parade. So many people have so much invested in him. People are just so inspired and hopeful. Black people are just over the moon they'll defend him to the end." CLIP
Walking Down to Washington (24 January 2009) http://www.truthout.org/012409Y
The image from Barack Obama's inauguration that will stay with me forever is people walking. Walking from wherever they lived or were staying in Washington, DC. And all headed for the exact same place. In the hours before dawn on January 20, they already were moving down Connecticut Avenue outside my brother and sister-in-law's apartment: groups of two and three and four or more; some wearing backpacks and carrying signs, quietly converging on the National Mall. (...) Whether you voted for or against President Obama, you couldn't help but be caught up by the display of spirit, support and yes, patriotism. The gathered millions were inspired by each act of the ceremony, through Aretha and Itzhak Perlman and Yo-Yo Ma and poet Elizabeth Alexander and civil rights veteran Joseph Lowery, paraphrasing the late, great bluesman Big Bill Broonzy's "Black, Brown and White Blues." And the speech, of course. John F. Harris wrote in Politico, "With one swift stroke - just 18 minutes of words, delivered with a stern tone and a steel gaze - Barack Hussein Obama sliced through the usual clutter and ambiguities of American politics and revealed what it looks like when history turns on a pivot." There will be disappointments - big ones, perhaps - there will be mistakes and missteps, there will be times when the actions of this new president may infuriate as often as inspire. And the problems we face are daunting. But on Inauguration Day, as I saw those hundreds of thousands making their way to see the swearing-in, walking and rejoicing in that moment, I thought of Sister Pollard, the older woman of whom Martin Luther King Jr. often spoke, who walked to and from work every day during the 1955-56 Montgomery Bus Boycott. My feet are tired, she said, "but my soul is rested."
Brasscheck TV: Bush is gone. Now what? http://www.brasschecktv.com/page/537.html
Realistically, there's not much Obama can do in the short term about the economy. The complexity of the military disaster Bush and his supporters created in Iraq can't be undone in a day either. But there's one thing that Obama can do right now: Get to work immediately to start undoing eight years of institutional criminality in the Executive branch. That's entirely under his control. You can help - and your help is needed through ordering Undoing the Bush/Cheney Legacy: A Tool Kit for Congress and Activists -- Now that Obama/Biden and the new Congress have been elected, here's the book you need to make real change in the first 100 days! This book contains a succinct summary of over 100 laws that should be amended or repealed. Read excerpts from the first few pages by clicking here. Download a Supplement on the Economic Crisis here.
CNN Catches UFO on Camera during inauguration? (Jan 21 2009) http://news1800.com/2009/01/most-popular/cnn-catches-ufo-on-camera-during-inauguration/
First of all, Congratulations to President Obama and the people of the United Stated of America. Change has happened. And, it seems possible that not only the whole world was watching the inauguration but beyond as well One of the questions Obama was asked was whether or not he would give the world insights in to the UFO phenomenon. Some people might think it is not such an important matter where some think it is the most important question of all time that needs to be answered to the people.How important shows the following video from CNN, live from the inauguration. Please watch the video and take note at 0:08 and focus on the right of the screen. Clearly to be seen is a disk shaped object that flies with incredible speed from the right of the screen to the left. CLIP UFO Fly Over the Inauguration of Barack Obama (You be the judge!)
Graphic artists debunk Inauguration Day UFO - Video clip causes double-take http://www.wivb.com/dpp/news/mysterious_object_zips_across_monument_090121
(...) Bloggers are buzzing about whether it was a jet, a UFO or a bird.What is it?Murphy said, "It's flapping right there. That's a fast bird."After analyzing it, the graphic artists agree the object streaking across the National Mall is a bird. Murphy said, "When we blew it up, you can see there's like wings flapping. And you can see it's a bird."Vinciguerra said, "I think once you take a closer look or look at it a few more times; to me it looks definitely like it's a bird. No doubt." The Internet is a magnet for UFO believers and debunkers.You can see amateur photographers posting pictures and video. The Washington Monument clip is just the latest discussion. CLIP
MANY MORE related articles on the Obama Administration below in this compilation...
SOME OF THE LATEST DEVELOPMENTS ABOUT GAZA
NOTE: The wounds of Israel's abhorrent war crimes against defenseless Palestinian civilians continue festering while the world media's attention has now predictably turned elsewhere. Read the following and see if you've heard any of this in your local/national media...
Israel targeted UN Staff during Gaza standoff (January 27, 2009) http://www.xpress4me.com/news/uae/dubai/20011619.html
In a seminar Tuesday morning, United Nations staff claimed that they were directly targeted by the Israeli army during the 23-day standoff at Gaza. I mean what I am saying, said Dr. Sami Mushasa media director for United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA.)His agency, he said, was targeted and a scores settlement was made by Israel to disrupt our work in Gaza and Palestine. According to Mushasa, ten UN buildings and numerous UN schools and aid centres were targeted during the Israeli offensive on Gaza. Currently the UN is conducting an investigation and compensation and an official apology is demanded for this uncalled for attack, he said. UNRWA is the United Nations agency that provides relief and infrastructure and economic aid to the Gaza strip. The UNRWA employs mostly Palestinians, we have 30,000 employees who work in road works, schools, medical centres, and general relief, he said. Mushasha said that since January 21, Israelis have blocked a building materials shipment worth $110 million as well as 250,000 school books and medical supplies. (...) Saydem said that losses in Gaza have reached $1.9 billion. The death toll is reported at 1,342 and 5,500 were injured. Other numbers are coming in. As many as 58 mosques and churches were destroyed, 83 hospitals were razed, 25 schools were levelled and all of Gaza is now communicating through one fibre optic cable with the world.An estimated 80 percent of its communications infrastructure has been wiped out.Currently we have to re-establish the medical, educational, government and banking institutions in Gaza as life has been completely stopped, he said. The children are suffering from psychological trauma from the conflict and need serious psychological rehabilitation now. There are 450,000 children who are returning to school in Gaza and all of them suffer from psychological trauma, according Ayman Abu Laban, UNICEF representative to the Gulf. We need to rehabilitate the children and introduce stability and security to them now as they are suffering from different psychological disturbances such as bed wetting, animosity, aggressiveness and detachment, he said. Relief agencies and authorities are also facing the challenge of repatriating the refugees. Currently, Gaza has 150,000 refugees whose homes have been destroyed, said Mushasha. The majority of them are living in the schools, we need 450 million dollars to provide relief and aid to them in the next nine months. CLIP
Israeli doctors: Hundreds of wounded Palestinians in danger of dying due to Israeli closure http://www.imemc.org/article/58624
A group of Israeli doctors with Physicians for Human Rights released a report Saturday with their observations from a delegation to the Gaza Strip. They say that due to the overcrowded conditions, lack of medical supplies, and intermittent electricity resulting from Israeli bombardment, hundreds of Palestinians are in danger of dying. Over 1300 Palestinians were killed in the three-week long Israeli offensive which ended last week. At least 4,400 were wounded, many of them critically, and the wounded are now facing dire conditions in the Gazan hospitals where many of them remain. According to one member of the Physicians for Human Rights delegation, "Each hospital is full of wounded. There are wounded in serious condition and the treatment they are given is very basic because of the lack of medical supplies. The hospitals are not set up to receive so many patients at the same time, adding that the conditions will definitely lead to high fatality rates among the wounded. In addition to the lack of medical equipment and supplies, there are sewage leaks in many areas in Gaza, animal carcasses are strewn about the streets and trash is everywhere after the massive bombardment of homes and schools for three weeks straight. The Physicians for Human Rights warn that this will lead to contamination of the wounded, many of whom are suffering from acute burns and amputations of limbs. Some of the injured have unprecedented symptoms that doctors say are indications that Israeli forces used internationally-banned weapons in Gaza. The doctors appealed to the international community to pressure Israel to allow the entry of medical aid into the Gaza Strip, and to allow patients in need of lifesaving medical care to leave the Strip to receive treatment abroad. Israeli forces control all sides of the Gaza Strip, and do not allow Palestinian residents to leave except with special permits from the Israeli authorities, which are very difficult to get.
Obama gives first interview to Arab channel (27 January 2009) http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/obama-gives-first-interview-to-arab-channel-1516967.html
Barack Obama gave his first formal television interview as US President to an Arabic cable TV network, telling Al-Arabiya that when it comes to Middle East matters "all too often the United States starts by dictating". Mr Obama taped the interview with the Dubai-based network as his envoy to the Middle East, former Senator George Mitchell, set out for an eight-day trip to the region and elsewhere.The interview complemented the new administration's first efforts to reach out to Arab leaders in the region, who have been wary at best of US efforts to broker peace between Israel and the Palestinians. Mr Obama said he felt it important to "get engaged right away" in the Middle East and had directed Mr Mitchell to talk to "all the major parties involved." His administration would craft an approach after that, he said in the interview."What I told him is start by listening, because all too often the United States starts by dictating," Mr Obama told the interviewer. The president reiterated the US commitment to Israel as an ally, and to its right to defend itself. But he suggested that Israel has hard choices to make and that his administration would press harder for it to do so. "We cannot tell either the Israelis or the Palestinians what's best for them. They're going to have to make some decisions. But I do believe that the moment is ripe for both sides to realise that the path that they are on is one that is not going to result in prosperity and security for their people," he said. Mr Obama added: "There are Israelis who recognise that it is important to achieve peace. They will be willing to make sacrifices if the time is appropriate and if there is serious partnership on the other side."Mr Obama stopped short of giving a timetable, but he said he is certain progress can be made. -- Transcript: Interview of the president by Hisham Melhem, Al Arabiya
Obama launches effort to 'communicate' in Mideast (January 28, 2009) http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/world/la-fg-obama-mitchell28-2009jan28,0,1177504.story
Fronting charm on the airways and deploying diplomacy away from the camera's flash, the Obama administration has landed in the Middle East. Hours after an interview with President Obama was broadcast across the Arab world by satellite channel Al Arabiya, special US envoy George J. Mitchell arrived in Cairo on Tuesday to discuss the fate of the Gaza Strip. It was a two-track choreography designed to inspire confidence among the region's political leaders and win over an Arab street long distrustful of Washington. "My job is to communicate the fact that the United States has a stake in the well-being of the Muslim world, that the language we use has to be a language of respect. I have Muslim members of my family. I have lived in Muslim countries," the president told Al Arabiya. "My job to the Muslim world is to communicate that the Americans are not your enemy. We sometimes make mistakes. We have not been perfect."That is refreshing talk here, but the Middle East, where so many U.S. presidents have watched good intentions vanish in bloodshed, extremism and bickering over maps and borders, demands more than conciliatory remarks and eloquent assurances. (...) "It is strange to see [Obama] address the Arab world and not have a word to say about the plight of the people in Gaza or the embargo on the Gaza Strip," Traboulsi said. "What we saw in Northern Ireland is that for the Irish Republican Army to disarm, the demands of Catholics had to be seriously listened to. Similarly here, if you want peace, you need to listen to the Palestinians who want self-determination and to build their own state. Are Americans ready to accept these demands?"Mitchell's trip to Egypt, Israel, the West Bank, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and two European capitals is expected to focus on how to rebuild Gaza and prevent Hamas from rearming, to call for a new dialogue between Israel and the Palestinians and to achieve cooperation between Hamas and Fatah, a rival faction led by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. (...) Reaction to the Obama interview on Al Arabiya's website was split. Some bloggers suggested that there was an opportunity for a critical turning point in Arab-U.S. relations, whereas others argued that if the Obama White House doesn't strongly support a Palestinian state, it will be as ill received as the Bush administration was.Al Sharif abu Ananan wrote that if the cause of Arab Muslims "is not addressed and people do not have their rights restored and are not returned to their homes, then Obama will remain like Bush."Another writer, who identified himself as Khaled Al Dali, wrote of Obama: "We expect a lot from you not to help us but to have a visionary and responsible position and to be truthful in your decisions. . . . I trust you and many here trust that you will bring change. Don't disappoint us."
Israeli warplanes strike Gaza (January 28, 2009) http://www.theglobeandmail.com/servlet/story/RTGAM.20090128.wgaza0128/BNStory/International/home
JERUSALEM Israeli warplanes bombed an open area in the southern Gaza Strip early on Thursday, shortly after militants fired a rocket at Israel, witnesses and the Islamic movement Hamas said. An Israeli military spokesman confirmed the attack, saying it had targeted a weapons production site, in response to the rocket fire at Israel. There were no immediate reports of any injuries from the attack, which witnesses said damaged a metal foundry in the town of Rafah, along the Gaza Strip border with Egypt. The air strike was at least the second time Israel has bombed Gaza since a Jan. 18 halt to a 22-day offensive.Israel bombed tunnels on Wednesday it says were used to smuggle weapons from Egypt into Gaza, a day after Gaza militants killed an Israeli soldier in an explosion along a border fence. CLIP
Deadly roadside bombing threatens Gaza truce (27 January 2009) http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/middle-east/deadly-roadside-bombing-threatens-gaza-truce-1517027.html
Palestinian militants today detonated a bomb next to an Israeli army patrol along the border with Gaza, killing one soldier and wounding three others in the first serious clash since a cease-fire went into effect more than a week ago. Israeli soldiers quickly crossed the border in search of the attackers and Israel's defense minister, Ehud Barak, said Israel "cannot accept" the attack."We will respond, but there is no point in elaborating," Barak said in comments released by his office. (...) Israel closed its crossings into Gaza to humanitarian aid traffic after briefly opening them this morning. Gaza border official Raed Fattouh said Israeli officials informed him the closure was due to the attack.(...) In the days immediately following the cease-fire there was shelling by Israeli gunboats and some gunfire along the border including the killing of two men Palestinian officials identified as farmers but there were no serious clashes until today. Although there was no claim of responsibility, Mushir al-Masri, a Hamas leader, said Israel was to blame for continuing to fire into Gaza. Al-Masri said his group had not agreed to a full cease-fire but only to a "lull" in fighting."The Zionists are responsible for any aggression," he said. Egypt is currently trying to negotiate a longer-term arrangement to allow quiet in the coastal territory of 1.4 million people, which has been ruled by the Islamic militants of Hamas since June 2007.Israel wants an end to Hamas rocket attacks and guarantees that Hamas will be prevented from smuggling weapons into Gaza from Egypt. Hamas has demanded that Israel and Egypt reopen Gaza's border crossings, which have been largely closed since Hamas took power. The crossings are Gaza's economic lifeline.The Israeli offensive killed 1,285 Palestinians, more than half of them civilians, according to records kept by the Palestinian Center for Human Rights. Thirteen Israelis, including three civilians, were also killed during the fighting.
Resurgent right dashes peace hopes as Mitchell flies to Israel (27 January 2009) http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/middle-east/resurgent-right-dashes-peace-hopes-as-mitchell-flies-to-israel-1516806.html Polls predict election triumph for Netanyahu as Gaza war whips up jingoism -- Barack Obama's new Middle East peace envoy, George Mitchell, arrives in Israel tomorrow charged with working towards an Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement. But the expected victory of the right in the Israeli election on 10 February may doom his efforts from the outset. Benjamin Netanyahu, who did much to bury the Oslo peace accords when he was last prime minister in 1996-99, will almost inevitably be the next prime minister, according to the latest opinion polls. His right-wing Likud party is likely to be the largest party, and the right-wing bloc of extreme religious and nationalist parties is likely to have a majority in the Israeli parliament. Mr Netanyahu would probably have won without the war in Gaza, but the conflict has shifted Israelis significantly to the right. "Prior to the war there was already disillusionment with negotiations and the peace process," says Galia Golan, political science professor at the Interdisciplinary Centre at Herzliya, near Tel Aviv. "Patriotism and nationalism were whipped up as never before by the media who treated the war as if it was one of the wars when we were really under attack."Benefiting from this jingoism, the biggest winner in the election is likely to be the super-nationalist Yisrael Beitenu party of Avigdor Lieberman with its generalised anti-Arab racism. A likely coalition partner of Mr Netanyahu, Mr Lieberman recently suggested that Israeli-Arab MPs be treated like Hamas. "Ideas that nobody would have dared to let cross their lips 10 or 20 years ago, lest they be thought utter fascists, have been bolstered in recent months by the war in the south," lamented the daily Haaretz.Senator Mitchell is the most powerful politician ever sent by Washington to talk to Israel and the Palestinians. The former Democratic Senate majority leader, his reputation as a peace-maker established by his successful mediation in Northern Ireland, wrote an even-handed report, promptly ignored by the Bush administration, after the start of the second intifada in 2000, calling, among other things, for a complete halt to Israeli settlement building on the West Bank. CLIP
Israel wanted a humanitarian crisis (20 January 2009) http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2009/jan/20/gaza-israelandthepalestinians
Targeting civilians was a deliberate part of this bid to humiliate Hamas and the Palestinians, and pulverise Gaza into chaos -- The scale of Israel's attack on the Gaza Strip, and the almost daily reports of war crimes over the last three weeks, has drawn criticism from even long-standing friends and sympathisers. Despite the Israeli government's long-planned and comprehensive PR campaign, hundreds of dead children is a hard sell. As a former Israeli government press adviser put it, in a wonderful bit of unintentional irony, "When you have a Palestinian kid facing an Israeli tank, how do you explain that the tank is actually David and the kid is Goliath?" Despite a mass of evidence that includes Israel's targets in Operation Cast Lead, public remarks by Israeli leaders over some time, and the ceasefire manoeuvring of this last weekend, much of the analysis offered by politicians or commentators has been disappointingly limited, and characterised by false assumptions, or misplaced emphases, about Israel's motivations. (...) Those are just some of the more shocking examples from a military operation that has targeted everything from schools, money-changers and a bird farm, to entire apartment blocks, harbours, and a market. Palestinians have been killed when Israeli tanks fired shells at residential neighbourhoods. Every day has brought fresh horrors; last Wednesday, for example, 70 unarmed civilians including 18 children were killed by the Israeli military. This week's Observer carried a story alleging Israel bulldozed homes with civilians inside (not for the first time) and shot those waving white flags. Little wonder that Israeli officials predicted with concern that "negative sentiment" towards the state would "only grow as the full picture of destruction emerges". Much of this is widely known, and easily accessible; yet still the analytical emphasis has remained on Palestinian rockets, Israeli elections, and deterrence. I would like to suggest three alternative purposes for Israel's Operation Cast Lead that go beyond the usual perspectives, and presuming with Yale professor David Bromwich that "if Israel in 2009 reduces to rubble a large portion of the Gaza Strip and leaves tens of thousands homeless, there is a strong chance that this was what it intended to do". The first aim is to humiliate and weaken Hamas. On the one hand, this seems obvious, but contrary to how the goal is often understood, this is not primarily to protect the Israeli public as pointed out previously, ceasefires and negotiations are far more likely to deliver security for Israeli citizens but rather it is a political goal. Hamas had withstood isolation, a siege, mass arrests, and an attempted western-backed coup. Moreover, cracks were appearing in the international community's resolve to parrot Israel's line on Hamas. (...) The second aim of Israel's war is to teach a lesson to the Palestinians in Gaza, and elsewhere, that the only way to avoid the wrath of the Israeli military is to accept Israel's idea of a two-state solution, a generous concession to be gratefully received by Abbas and fellow moderates. It is a reflection of the approach outlined by the IDF chief of staff, Moshe Ya'alon, in 2002 that "the Palestinians must be made to understand in the deepest recesses of their consciousness that they are a defeated people". CLIP
Protest over BBC Gaza appeal veto http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/7848614.stm
A protest is to be held outside the BBC's London HQ over its refusal to broadcast a charity appeal for Gaza. The BBC says it cannot show the appeal by the Disasters Emergency Committee because it does not want to compromise its commitment to impartiality. But health minister Ben Bradshaw, a former BBC journalist, said it was "an inexplicable decision" and that the reasons given were "completely feeble". Veteran politician Tony Benn will be at the protest at Broadcasting House. The Disasters Emergency Committee - an umbrella organisation for several major aid charities - wanted to run TV and radio appeals to help raise funds for people in need of food, shelter and medicines as a result of Israel's military action in the Palestinian area. ITV and Sky have also said they will not show the appeal, with an ITV spokesman saying that no consensus could be reached. The government has already asked the BBC to reconsider its position. The International Development Secretary Douglas Alexander had urged all the broadcasters to reconsider this decision in light of what he called "the great human suffering still taking place in Gaza". (...) Mr Benn will say: "The decision of the BBC to refuse to broadcast a national humanitarian appeal for Gaza, which has left aid agencies with a potential shortfall of millions of pounds in donations, is a betrayal of the obligation which it owes as a public service. "To deny the help that the aid agencies and the UN need at this moment in time is incomprehensible and it follows the bias in BBC reporting of this crisis, which has been widely criticised. CLIP
We will never work for the BBC again - actors and directors in Gaza protest (27 January 2009) http://news.scotsman.com/uk/We-will-never-work-for.4914990.jp
(...) Gaza is in the grip of a humanitarian crisis, with its 1.5 million population urgently needing food, water, medicine and shelter, after Israel's three-week assault.The BBC said yesterday it had received about 15,000 complaints about its decision not to screen the appeal for the DEC, which represents several charities. A sit-in protest has been staged at the BBC Scotland headquarters in Glasgow, with some demonstrators setting fire to their TV licences, while a line of police officers guarded the entrance to Broadcasting House in London. CLIP
Public gives £600,000 to Gaza appeal before broadcasts are aired (27 January 2009) http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/middle-east/public-gives-pound600000-to-gaza-appeal-before-broadcasts-are-aired-1516793.html
The Gaza appeal which the BBC is refusing to broadcast raised £600,000 before it was shown. Donations flooded in to the Disasters Emergency Committee website before the initial transmission of the two-minute appeal on ITV1 last night. On previous occasions the DEC has not accepted donations until an appeal has gone out live but members of the public have been able to donate to the Gaza appeal since Thursday. Charity chiefs will be hoping that the controversy over the broadcast has increased public awareness that a way of donating to the humanitarian crisis in Gaza is available. CLIP
Embedded with Gaza medics (15 min 26 sec) Broadcast January 20th, 2009 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UVHai01Toag
Radjaa Abou Dagga, followed a team of Palestinian medics during the Israeli assault: WARNING Video depicts the reality and horror of Israel's attack on the people of Gaza - Viewer Discretion Advised
95 Palestinian fighters killed in Gaza war (19 Jan 2009) http://www.presstv.ir/Detail.aspx?id=82939§ionid=351020202
A Palestinian human rights group has revealed that only 95 resistance fighters were killed in the 23-day Israeli offensive into Gaza.From the 1194 Gazans officially registered as killed in Israeli attacks from December 27 to January 17, a whopping 1099 were civilians, the Gaza-based Palestinian center for human rights reported on Sunday. Only 95 of those killed were resistance fighters.Israel unleashed its Operation Cast Lead on Gaza on December 27 allegedly to halt Hamas from targeting Israel and to destroy the Palestinian resistance group. The 19th day of the Gaza carnage saw Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni state an objective different from the one echelons in Tel Aviv has previously announced. Livni claimed that despite the assertions of many officials in Tel Aviv, Operation Cast Lead "was never about destroying Hamas"."Our aim was to restore our deterrence capability. They will think twice before they dare to fire the next rocket at Israel," she explained. After 23 days of fighting, Israel announced a unilateral truce without having achieved any of the objectives announced for the attack on the strip. The Israeli onslaught on Gaza has cost the Palestinian economy at least $1.6 billion. A governmental report on the war revealed on Monday that Israel reduced some 4,000 residential buildings to rubble and damaged 16,000 other houses during the conflict.Since the cessation of the hostilities, at least 100 bodies have been recovered from the rubbles. The number of those killed in Israeli attacks has been put at around 1,300, according to the latest statistics.Nearly 6,000 Gazans have been injured in the attacks.
Israel warns soldiers of prosecution abroad for Gaza 'war crimes' (24 Jan 2009) http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/middleeast/israel/4323980/Israel-warns-soldiers-of-prosecution-abroad-for-Gaza-war-crimes.html
Israel has warned military officers and senior officials that a threat of prosecution for alleged war crimes in Gaza could hinder future travel abroad. (...) Accusations of war crimes strike an especially sensitive chord in Israel, a nation founded in the wake of the Holocaust. Comparisons between the long siege of Gaza and the Jewish ghettoes of central Europe draw a vociferous denunciation from the government. Israel insists troops did their best to limit civilian casualties in heavily populated areas where Hamas gunmen were attacking from tunnels and had booby-trapped civilian homes. While senior politicians travel with diplomatic immunity, retired officials have already faced problems travelling abroad. CLIP
Israel Accused of War Crimes (2009-01-20) http://english.ohmynews.com/articleview/article_view.asp?article_class=3&no=384662&rel_no=1
Gaza offensive 'a crime against humanity': UN Special Rapporteur -- Outrage and Impotence as Gaza Burned -- United Nations chief Ban Ki-moon expressed his "outrage" and the President of the General Assembly, Miquel d'Escoto Brockmann, accused Israel of violating international law. "Gaza is ablaze," he told the UN General Assembly, "it has been turned into a burning hell." The UN's Special Rapporteur for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories, Professor Richard Falk, characterized the Israel offensive as containing "severe and massive violations of international humanitarian law." But an outspoken US lawyer isn't overly impressed with the indignant words of Ban, Brockmann, or Falk. "Saying is one thing," according to international attorney Francis A. Boyle, "doing is another." He accused the UN creating the problem in the first place by what he described as the "illegal" partitioning of the Palestine Mandate that led to a massive displacement of the indigenous Arab population. "You can never trust the United Nations to do the right thing for the Palestinians. The Palestinians have always been on their own, and they know it," he said, "Abandoned and betrayed by the entire world now for 60 years." CLIP
Army rabbi 'gave out hate leaflet to troops' (27 January 2009) http://www.independent.co.uk:80/news/world/middle-east/army-rabbi-gave-out-hate-leaflet-to-troops-1516805.html
The Israeli army has been urged to sack Rabbi Avi Ronzki over the booklet - The Israeli army's chief rabbinate gave soldiers preparing to enter the Gaza Strip a booklet implying that all Palestinians are their mortal enemies and advising them that cruelty is sometimes a "good attribute".The booklet, entitled Go Fight My Fight: A Daily Study Table for the Soldier and Commander in a Time of War, was published especially for Operation Cast Lead, the devastating three-week campaign launched with the stated aim of ending rocket fire against southern Israel. The publication draws on the teachings of Rabbi Shlomo Aviner, head of the Jewish fundamentalist Ateret Cohanim seminary in Jerusalem.In one section, Rabbi Aviner compares Palestinians to the Philistines, a people depicted in the Bible as a war-like menace and existential threat to Israel.In another, the army rabbinate appears to be encouraging soldiers to disregard the international laws of war aimed at protecting civilians, according to Breaking the Silence, the group of Israeli ex-soldiers who disclosed its existence. The booklet cites the renowned medieval Jewish sage Maimonides as saying that "one must not be enticed by the folly of the Gentiles who have mercy for the cruel".Breaking the Silence is calling for the firing of the chief military rabbi, Brigadier-General Avi Ronzki, over the booklet. The army had no comment on the matter yesterday.Rabbi Arik Ascherman, the executive director of the Rabbis for Human Rights group, called the booklet "very worrisome", adding "[this is] a minority position in Judaism that doesn't understand the ... necessity of distinguishing between combatants and civilians."
Inside Gaza: Israeli troops have vanished but the damage is plain to see (19 January 2009) http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2009/jan/19/gaza-israel-troops-withdrawal
Israeli forces leave trail of destruction after withdrawal back to the Gaza border -- No Israeli forces could be seen today on the main road connecting the south and north of Gaza, but signs of the heavy toll exacted on the territory's civilian population during the three-week conflict were unmissable. A day after Israel announced a unilateral ceasefire, one subsequently matched by Hamas, its forces appeared to have withdrawn back to Gaza's eastern border with Israel. Travelling today from Rafah, in the far south, to the edge of Gaza City, no Israeli troops or tanks could be seen.But along the road, every police station had been destroyed and the damage increased greatly in intensity on the southern edges of Gaza City.In Zeitoun, close to the site of the former Israeli settlement of Netzarim, abandoned in 2005, great numbers of apartment buildings and homes were damaged or completely destroyed by tank shells or machine gun fire. Among these was a flattened house identified as having belonged to the extended Samouni family, 48 of whom are now believed to have been killed when their home was repeatedly shelled by Israeli forces, an incident first described by UN officials 10 days ago. The shelling of the house was subsequently highlighted by Navi Pillay, the UN high commissioner for human rights, as a possible war crime. She called for an independent investigation into the incident. Nearby was a badly damaged two- storey breezeblock home which had clearly been used as a temporary forward base by Israeli troops. It was littered with bullet casings, empty ration packs marked with Hebrew writing and plastic waste bags.Inside and outside the home, graffiti had been daubed in Hebrew and English, with slogans including "Arabs need to die", "Arabs: 1948 to 2009" and "Make war, not peace". CLIP
Robert Fisk: Posturing and laughter as victims rot (20 January 2009) http://www.independent.co.uk/opinion/commentators/fisk/robert-fisk-posturing-and-laughter-as-victims-rot-1451410.html
Mahmoud Abbas stepped further into humiliation by saying the only option for Arabs isto make peace with Israel -- The front page of the Beirut daily As-Safir said it all yesterday. Across the top was a terrible photograph of the bloated body of a Palestinian man newly discovered in the ruins of his home while two male members of his family shrieked and roared their grief. Below, at half the size, was a photograph from Israel of Western leaders joking with Ehud Olmert, the Israeli Prime Minister. Olmert was roaring with laughter. Silvio Berlusconi, arms on the back of Olmert's shoulders, was also joshing and roaring with laughter, not grief and on Olmert's right was Nicolas Sarkozy of France wearing his stupidest of smiles. Only Chancellor Merkel appeared to understand the moral collapse. No smiles from Germany. Europe laughs while Palestinians mourn their dead. No wonder that in the streets of Beirut, shops were doing a flourishing trade in Palestinian scarves and flags. Even some of Palestine's most serious enemies in Lebanon wore the Palestinian keffiyeh in solidarity with the people of Gaza. Over and over again, Al-Jazeera television strapped headlines on to their news reports of Palestinians carrying the decomposing corpses of their dead: "More than 1,300 dead in Gaza, 400 of them women and children Israeli dead in the war 13, three of them civilians." That, too, said it all. CLIP
Cell Phones Used For Psychological Warfare In Gaza (JAN 16TH 2009) http://www.switched.com/2009/01/16/cell-phones-used-for-psychological-warfare-in-gaza
The situation in Gaza, as you probably know, is an utter disaster. The conflict between the Israeli military and Hamas has left thousands dead, homeless, or clinging to life. What you may not know is that cell phones -- the ubiquitous, seemingly harmless devices -- are being utilized by both sides to inflict psychological damage on the opposition. Threatening text messages (e.g. announcing imminent rocket attacks) have been received by Israeli and Palestinian civilians resulting in a permanent, debilitating state of fear. This fight has gone on for so long. Our thoughts are with the innocent and persecuted, whatever their affiliation.
How Israel Helped to Spawn Hamas (JANUARY 24, 2009) http://online.wsj.com/article/SB123275572295011847.html?mod=googlenews_wsj
Surveying the wreckage of a neighbor's bungalow hit by a Palestinian rocket, retired Israeli official Avner Cohen traces the missile's trajectory back to an "enormous, stupid mistake" made 30 years ago."Hamas, to my great regret, is Israel's creation," says Mr. Cohen, a Tunisian-born Jew who worked in Gaza for more than two decades. Responsible for religious affairs in the region until 1994, Mr. Cohen watched the Islamist movement take shape, muscle aside secular Palestinian rivals and then morph into what is today Hamas, a militant group that is sworn to Israel's destruction. Instead of trying to curb Gaza's Islamists from the outset, says Mr. Cohen, Israel for years tolerated and, in some cases, encouraged them as a counterweight to the secular nationalists of the Palestine Liberation Organization and its dominant faction, Yasser Arafat's Fatah. Israel cooperated with a crippled, half-blind cleric named Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, even as he was laying the foundations for what would become Hamas. Sheikh Yassin continues to inspire militants today; during the recent war in Gaza, Hamas fighters confronted Israeli troops with "Yassins," primitive rocket-propelled grenades named in honor of the cleric. CLIP
Belgian court petitioned to arrest Livni upon arrival in Brussels http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1057485.html
European attorneys have reportedly petitioned a Belgian court to arrest Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni upon her arrival in Brussels later Wednesday.
Israel Acts to Block War Crimes Charges (2009-01-27) http://www.middle-east-online.com/english/?id=30038
Jerusalem - Mounting fear in Israel that the country's leaders face war crimes charges over their involvement in the recent Gaza offensive pushed officials into a frenzy of activity at the weekend to forestall legal actions abroad. The urgency was underlined after rumours last week that Belgian authorities might arrest Tzipi Livni, Israels foreign minister, if she attended a summit of European counterparts in Brussels on Wednesday. In an indication of how seriously the matter is judged, Ms Livni's advisers were on the verge of cancelling her trip when the story was revealed to be a hoax. Nonetheless, officials are braced for real attempts to arrest senior political and military figures following a warning from the country's chief law officer, Menachem Mazuz, that Israel will soon face "a wave of international lawsuits". CLIP
NGO Seeks Arrest of 15 Israeli Leaders Over Gaza http://www.middle-east-online.com/english/?id=30037
LONDON - An international non-governmental organization has submitted evidence to the International Criminal Court for the arrest of top Israeli leaders for war crimes and crimes against humanity in Gaza, and has called for information about the travel plans and whereabouts outside Israel of the suspects. The International Coalition against Impunity (HOKOK), a non-governmental organization registered with the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia, has submitted a "Letter of Notification and Referral" to the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court outlining the case for the arrest of 15 Israeli political and military leaders for crimes committed in Gaza in violation of the Rome Statute and the Fourth Geneva Convention. It has also issued an international appeal for information about the undermentioned war crimes suspects. Members of the public in Israel and throughout the world who have information about the travel plans or whereabouts of the undermentioned suspects when they are outside Israel should report this immediately to: The Prosecutor P.O. Box 195192500 The Hague Netherlands Fax +31 70 515 8 555 email@example.com - The Israeli war crimes suspects are: 1. Ehud Barak 2. Amir Peretz 3. Binyamin Ben Eliezer 4. Avi Dichter 5. Carmi Gillon 6. Dan Halutz 7. Doron Almog 8. Ehud Olmert 9. Eliezer Shkedy 10. Gabi Ashkenaz 11. Giora Eiland 12. Matan Vilnai 13. Moshie Bogie Yaalon 14. Shaul Mofaz 15. Tzipi Livni. --A summary of the evidence against the above-mentioned war crimes suspects can be found in Hebrew and in English.
Controversial Bestseller Shakes the Foundation of the Israeli State (January 28, 2009) http://www.alternet.org/audits/122810/controversial_bestseller_shakes_the_foundation_of_the_israeli_state/?page=entire
What if the entire tale of the Jewish Diaspora is historically wrong? What if the Palestinian Arabs who have lived for decades under the heel of the modern Israeli state are in fact descended from the very same "children of Israel" described in the Old Testament? And what if most modern Israelis aren't descended from the ancient Israelites at all, but are actually a mix of Europeans, North Africans and others who didn't "return" to the scrap of land we now call Israel and establish a new state following the attempt to exterminate them during World War II, but came in and forcefully displaced people whose ancestors had lived there for millennia? What if the entire tale of the Jewish Diaspora -- the story recounted at Passover tables by Jews around the world every year detailing the ancient Jews' exile from Judea, the years spent wandering through the desert, their escape from the Pharaoh's clutches -- is all wrong?
UN Rapporteur: Initiate criminal proceedings against Bush and Rumsfeld now (Jan 21, 2009) http://harpers.org/archive/2009/01/hbc-90004250
In an interview on Tuesday evening with the German television program Frontal 21, on channel ZDF Professor Manfred Nowak, the United Nations Rapporteur responsible for torture, stated that with George W. Bushs head of state immunity now terminated, the new government of Barack Obama was obligated by international law to commence a criminal investigation into Bushs torture practices.The evidence is sitting on the table, he stated. There is no avoiding the fact that this was torture. He pointed to the U.S. undertakings under the Convention Against Torture in which the country committed that it would criminally prosecute anyone who tortured, or extradite the person to a state that would prosecute him. The government of the United States is required to take all necessary steps to bring George W. Bush and Donald Rumsfeld before a court, Nowak said. CLIP
Rumsfeld to stand trial for war crimes? (27 Jan 2009) http://www.presstv.ir:80/detail.aspx?id=83866§ionid=3510203
A UN official says there is enough evidence that former US defense secretary Donald Rumsfeld could be brought to justice for war crimes. The United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture Manfred Nowak in an interview on Monday told CNN that the international body had enough evidence to prosecute Rumsfeld for his direct authorization of tortures at US detention centers in 2002. "We have clear evidence," Nowak said. "In our report that we sent to the United Nations, we made it clear that former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld clearly authorized torture methods and he was told at that time by Alberto Mora, the legal council of the Navy, 'Mr. Secretary, what you are actually ordering here amounts to torture.' So, there we have the clear evidence that Mr. Rumsfeld knew what he was doing but, nevertheless, he ordered torture." The UN torture official earlier in an interview with Germany's ZDF television had said that "I think the evidence is on the table." Nowak said that the United States had an "obligation" to probe former President George Bush's Administration for their involvement in torture. A bipartisan Senate survey last month revealed that Rumsfeld and other high-ranking administration officials were responsible for detainee abuse at Guantanamo Bay Prison. The Los Angeles Times said on December 12, 2008 that the report directed its most pointed criticism at Rumsfeld's decision in December 2002 to authorize the use of harsh interrogation techniques at the Guantanamo Bay facility. The report described Rumsfeld's directive as "a direct cause for detainee abuse" at Guantanamo and concluded that it "influenced and contributed to the use of abusive techniques, including military working dogs, forced nudity and stress positions, in Afghanistan and Iraq." The coercive measures were based on a document signed by Bush in February, 2002. US new President Barack Obama has ordered for the notorious US facility at Guantanamo to be shut down. But the so-called "enhanced interrogation techniques" have already destroyed the lives of many who had kept for years at US prisons worldwide without even charges. "It's too painful, it's too deep, it's too dark and fills me with sadness... They did everything they could to destroy me when I was completely innocent," says former US detainee Mohammad Saad describing six years of humiliation, interrogation and ill-treatment under US orders in Egypt, Afghanistan and Guantanamo Bay.
War Crime Trials for Bush? Try Fat Fees on the Speaking Circuit (January 20, 2009) http://www.alternet.org/election08/120996/war_crime_trials_for_bush_try_fat_fees_on_the_speaking_circuit/
He's the most loathed political figure since the advent of public opinion polling, but Bush is set to rake in big bucks on the rubber-chicken circuit. -- He started two disastrous wars that have left millions dead or displaced, sat by while a major American city was destroyed, oversaw the evaporation of trillions of dollars in wealth and will leave office as one of the most loathed figures in American history.One would expect a man like George W. Bush -- one who has single-handedly destroyed America's image in the world -- to slink off into well-deserved ignominy. But there's little chance of that. Instead, he's poised to line his pockets on the lecture circuit, a man who's led a famously unexamined life ready to pontificate about world events for fat fees. He crassly told journalist Robert Draper that his chief post-presidential intention is to "give some speeches, just to replenish the ol' coffers." Other members of his disastrous administration are already "replenishing" their coffers. Of course, Bush's coffers are not what most would consider depleted; he's leaving office with assets valued somewhere between $8 million and $20 million. But once he embarks on the lecture circuit, he'll be able to augment that fortune considerably. Bush will be able to command between $100,000 and $150,000 per speech, says Lourdes Swarts, president of 21st Century Speakers, a prominent speaking agency. For talks to overseas audiences, the figure rises to something closer to a quarter-million dollars. "The speaking market is wide and expands to overseas audiences," says Swarts. CLIP
Eight Years of Madoffs (January 11, 2009) http://www.nytimes.com/2009/01/11/opinion/11rich.html
Three days after the world learned that $50 billion may have disappeared in Bernie Madoffs Ponzi scheme, The Times led its front page of Dec. 14 with the revelation of another $50 billion rip-off. This time the vanished loot belonged to American taxpayers. That was our collective contribution to the $117 billion spent (as of mid-2008) on Iraq reconstruction a sinkhole of corruption, cronyism, incompetence and outright theft that epitomized Bush management at home and abroad. The source for this news was a near-final draft of an as-yet-unpublished 513-page federal history of this nation-building fiasco. The document was assembled by the Office of the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction led by a Bush appointee, no less. It pinpoints, among other transgressions, a governmental Ponzi scheme concocted to bamboozle Americans into believing they were accruing steady dividends on their investment in a new Iraq. The $50 billion ... pales next to other sums that remain unaccounted for in the Bush era, from the $345 billion in lost tax revenue due to unpoliced offshore corporate tax havens to the far-from-transparent disposition of some $350 billion in Wall Street bailout money. In the old Pat Moynihan phrase, the Bush years have defined deviancy down in terms of how low a standard of ethical behavior we now tolerate as the norm from public officials. Note: To read the draft of the Office of the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction's report, click here. To read the New York Times analysis of this important document, click here.
End Torture, End Domestic Violence (Winter 2009) http://www.ontheissuesmagazine.com/2009winter/2009winter_7.php
When one compares what is done to a woman in an advanced domestic battering cycle and to prisoners subjected to torture, the situations are frighteningly similar. But only recently have they begun to be equated legally and culturally. How would the world be different for women if domestic violence were treated as torture or as cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment? (...) Torture is not limited to water boarding, as the current U.S. debate makes it seem; nor does it require any special equipment. The most common physical methods of both torture and domestic violence are beating, burning, tying up, choking, threatened asphyxiation (the goal of water-boarding), pulling out nails, stripping naked, mutilating, inflicting rape and other sexual assault, and threatening to kill or attack the victims children. Psychological torture includes subjecting the victim through threats and intermittent violence to persistent fear, sleep deprivation, humiliation and insult, particularly of a sexualized character. Torture involves cycles of oppression and release, and good cop/bad cop roles designed to fool people into trust. Battering, too, involves intermittent periods of wooing the victim, weeping and seeking forgiveness. The pain and suffering inflicted is likewise severe. Battering too frequently results in femicide and, by comparison to official torture, women die in much greater numbers as result of intimate assaults, as described in the In-depth Study on All Forms of Violence Against Women by the UN Secretary General. Recent statistics from New York indicate that intimate violence is still the first cause of homicide against women. Like prisoners, battered women suffer the pain and terror of attack, as well as the physical consequences of bruises, broken bones, mutilation, organ failure, disability and, in some cases, infertility. Psychologically, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) can be devastating and affects victims of torture, sexual violence and battering. CLIP
Whistleblower: NSA Targeted Journalists, Snooped on All U.S. Communications (January 22, 2009) http://blog.wired.com/27bstroke6/2009/01/nsa-whistleblow.html
Just one day after George W. Bush left office, an NSA whistleblower has revealed that the National Security Agency's warrantless surveillance program targeted U.S. journalists, and vacuumed in all domestic communications of Americans, including, faxes, phone calls and network traffic.Russell Tice, a former NSA analyst, spoke on Wednesday to MSNBC host Keith Olbermann. Tice has acknowledged in the past being one of the anonymous sources that spoke with The New York Times for its 2005 story on the government's warrantless wiretapping program.After that story was published, President Bush said in a statement that only people in the United States who were talking with terrorists overseas would have been targeted for surveillance. But Tice says, in truth, the spying involved a dragnet of all communications, confirming what critics have long assumed."The National Security Agency had access to all Americans' communications," he said. "Faxes, phone calls and their computer communications. ... They monitored all communications." CLIP
Olbermann Interviews NSA Whistleblower on Wiretaps
Part I - http://www.truthout.org/012309Svideo - Part II - http://www.truthout.org/012309Svideo2
Kim Zetter, Wired: "NSA whistleblower Russell Tice was back on Keith Olbermann's MSNBC program Thursday evening to expand on his Wednesday revelations that the National Security Agency spied on individual US journalists, entire US news agencies as well as 'tens of thousands' of other Americans."
GOP May Vote No, but Economists Back Obama Stimulus http://www.truthout.org/012809D
Economists think the stimulus plan that the House of Representatives will vote on Wednesday, while far from perfect, will help stimulate the moribund U.S. economy. There's no panacea for what ails the economy. However, most leading economists who are experienced in public policy generally favor the stimulus plan that the House is considering because through it the government will step up spending at a time when private-sector spending has fallen off sharply. CLIP
Stimulus for Who? by Ron Paul http://www.house.gov/apps/blog/tx14_paul/090126_2631.shtml
This week the House is expected to pass an $825 billion economic stimulus package. In reality, this bill is just an escalation of a government-created economic mess. As before, a sense of urgency and impending doom is being used to extract mountains of money from Congress with minimal debate. So much for change. This is déjà vu. We are again being promised that its passage will help employment, help homeowners, help the environment, etc. These promises are worthless. This time around especially, Congress should know better than to pass anything of this magnitude without first reading the fine print. There a many red flags that I have found in this bill.At least $4 billion is allocated to expanding the police state and the war on drugs through Byrne grants, which even the Bush administration opposed, and the COPS program, both of which are corrupt and largely ineffective programs. To help Big Brother keep a better eye on us and our children, $20 billion would go towards health information technology, which would create a national system of electronic medical records without adequate privacy protection. These records would instead be subject to the misnamed federal medical privacy rule, which allows government and state-favored special interests to see medical records at will. An additional $250 million is allocated for states to nationalize individual student data, expanding Federal control of education and eroding privacy. (...) This bill delivers an additional debt burden of $6,700 to every American man, woman and child. There is a lot of stimulus and growth in this bill that is, of government. Nothing in this bill stimulates the freedom and prosperity of the American people. Politician-directed spending is never as successful as market-driven investment. Instead of passing this bill, Congress should get out of the way by cutting taxes, cutting spending, and reining in the reckless monetary policy of the Federal Reserve. Take action through Immediate Action Required! Oppose the $825 Billion Stimulus Package!
Geithner's dilemma: how to fix financial system (January 27, 2009) http://www.mcclatchydc.com/227/story/60841.html
WASHINGTON The fate of the U.S. banking system and the economic well-being of roughly 300 million Americans, not to mention billions of people around the globe, is now is in the hands of Timothy Geithner, the newly confirmed treasury secretary.Few, if any, treasury secretaries since America's first, Alexander Hamilton in 1789, have stepped into the office facing more daunting challenges. Geithner faces an accelerating global financial crisis that's plunging the nation and the world into a recession that's destroying jobs, wealth and the established economic order.Geithner must choose a course of action immediately, and he has no sure precedent to guide him."He faces an incredible number of challenges, and they have to be met simultaneously," said Vincent Reinhart, a former top economist at the Federal Reserve who worked closely with Geithner, who until recently was the head of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.Tackling the array of problems that are weakening the economy in isolation hasn't worked. When Congress sought to stimulate the economy last February through what President George W. Bush called a "booster shot" featuring $152 billion in tax rebates it wasn't paired with anything to fix the deteriorating financial system. It didn't work.When the administration and Congress provided $700 billion to rescue banks in October, that, too, failed to spark the economy because instead of lending it, the banks are hoarding money for better times. CLIP
Let's face it, soon Big Brother will have no trouble recognising you (January 13, 2009) http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/comment/columnists/guest_contributors/article5504534.ece
This is the year when automated face-recognition finally goes mainstream, and it's about time we considered its social and political implications. Researchers are developing sharply accurate scanners that monitor faces in 3D and software that analyses skin texture to turn tiny wrinkles, blemishes and spots into a numerical formula. The strongest face-recognition algorithms are now considered more accurate than most humans - and already the Home Office and the Association of Chief Police Officers have held discussions about the possibility of linking such systems with automatic car-numberplate recognition and public-transport databases. Join everything together via the internet, and voilà - the nation's population, down to the individual Times reader, can be conveniently and automatically monitored in real time. So let's understand this: governments and police are planning to implement increasingly accurate surveillance technologies that are unnoticeable, cheap, pervasive, ubiquitous, and searchable in real time. And private businesses, from bars to workplaces, will also operate such systems, whose data trail may well be sold on or leaked to third parties - let's say, insurance companies that have an interest in knowing about your unhealthy lifestyle, or your ex-spouse who wants evidence that you can afford higher maintenance payments.
Red Cross: Zimbabwe Cholera Epidemic Could Top 60,000 http://www.reuters.com/article/homepageCrisis/idUSLN246190._CH_.2400
(...) Zimbabwe's cholera epidemic is 'far from under control' and could exceed 60,000 cases over the next week, the Red Cross warned on Friday. Torrential rains are expected to spark major flooding and exacerbate the water-borne outbreak that has killed 2,773 people among 50,000 infected since August, the United Nations said."
The High Price of Clean, Cheap Ethanol (01/22/2009) ...THE BLOOD & PAIN OF A MILLION SLAVES https://www.spiegel.de/international/world/0,1518,602951,00.html
In 2008 Brazil hopes to supply drivers worldwide with the fuel of the future -- cheap ethanol derived from sugarcane. It is considered an effective antidote to climate change, but hundreds of thousands of Brazilian plantation workers harvest the cane at slave wages.In the middle of the night, the plantations around Araçoiaba in Brazil's ethanol zone are on fire. The area looks like a war zone during the sugarcane harvest, as the burning fields light up the sky and the wind carries clouds of smoke across the countryside.The fires chase away snakes, kill tarantulas and burn away the sharp leaves of the cane plants. In the morning, when only embers remain, tens of thousands of workers with machetes head into the fields throughout this region in northeastern Brazil. They harvest the cane, which survives the fire and which is used to distill ethanol, the gasoline of the future.
(...) "What can I do?" da Silva asks. "There is nothing else here. Those who do not cut sugarcane go hungry. And then there are the children." He packs his facão and a canister containing five liters of water, just enough to last him through the heat of the day. He walks to one of several waiting buses that arrive, late at night, to take the men from Araçoiaba to the plantations.Da Silva must harvest three-and-a-half tons of sugarcane by sunset. This is his daily quota, enough to make about 300 liters of biofuel. To do this, da Silva will have to strike the cane with his facão about 3,000 times, working among the ashes and embers and under the scorching sun. If the doctor is right, one of those blows will eventually tear open his groin again.Da Silva is one of about a million people toiling away on the plantations and in Brazil's ethanol factories. Many live and suffer much as their ancestors did -- as slaves on sugar plantations. Government investigators occasionally liberate a handful of cane workers, but in such a big country the officials are few and far between. The real power lies in the hands of militias, or capangas, working for the sugar barons. They intimidate workers and drive away small farmers with bulldozers, all in support of a global vision. "By 2030 we will be the world's largest fuel supplier," says Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva. If all goes according to plan, ethanol will provide his country -- and the rest of the world -- with a bright future.
Brazil produced just under 26 billions liters of ethanol, a number projected to rise to 53 billion by 2017. There's no shortage of buyers. More than 30 countries worldwide use ethanol as an additive to gasoline. The United States plans to satisfy about 15 percent of its fuel requirements with biofuel by 2012, while the European Union wants ethanol to constitute 10 percent of each liter of gasoline sold by 2020.The Swedes are at the forefront of this development. Last summer they signed an agreement with Brazilian companies for the delivery of 115 million liters of ethanol. The Swedes, wanting to be good people, have stipulated in their agreement that slave labor or children may not be used to produce their biofuel. In return they will pay a premium of five to 10 percent.
(...) Part of the charm of Lula's vision is that nothing would change for people in industrialized countries. They would not be forced to economize, and car manufacturers would simply have to install a few different gaskets in their engines, as VW has been doing in Brazil for a long time. Ethanol would even be cheap, with Brazil's factories producing it at a cost of about 20 cents a liter. Most of all, drivers, with the power of the sun in their tanks, could step on the gas with a clear conscience. "Bullshit," says Father Tiago. "The promise of biofuel is a lie. Anyone who buys ethanol is pumping blood into his tank. Ethanol is produced by slaves."The padre is familiar with the dark sides of Lula's vision. He cares for the people for whom the president's dream has meant living a nightmare. CLIP
Europe Recovers From Killer Storm (25.01.2009) http://www.dw-world.de/dw/article/0,,3974113,00.html
A major storm took the lives of people in Spain, France and Germany this weekend. Millions more are recovering from the damage Sunday, Jan. 25, in the wake of a storm dubbed Klaus by weather officials. -- The storm, which produced wind speeds of up to 194 kilometers per hour (km/h) as it tore across Europe, left a swath of destruction in its wake, with roads blocked, buildings destroyed, phone service out in much of southern France and train passengers returning home after spending much of Saturday in immobilized trains. Eighteen people are thought to have died. Spain suffered the highest death toll. (...) As the affected areas recovered from the storm Sunday, French energy provider EDF said millions of people remained without power across southern France and noted that repairs would take more than a day. Tens of thousands lacked phone service of any kind. Some families were homeless after the storm ripped the roofs off their houses. Authorities lifted bans on road use in France, though they noted that many trees continued to be in danger of collapse. In Spain, winds intensified two wildfires, forcing 15,000 people to evacuate their homes. In Galicia, a school and a swimming pool lost their roofs. Experts, in radio reports, compared the storm to a devastating winter storm which struck France and other parts of western and central Europe in 1999. Climate experts said the storm's destructive strength was further proof of the dangers of climate change.
Melbourne faces worst hot spell in 100 years (January 27, 2009) http://www.theage.com.au/national/melbourne-faces-worst-hot-spell-in-100-years-20090126-7q0c.html
MELBURNIANS, brace yourselves. Over the the next five days, we are in for the longest heatwave experienced here in recorded times. Today will be the start of five days of unrelenting scorchers with temperatures soaring to the 40s. The last time Melbourne had a heatwave of this intensity was a century ago when it suffered through five days of stultifying heat with temperatures in the 40s in January 1908. The stifling heat will extend across the state, with the only respite in coastal areas such as Airey's Inlet, where sea breezes can be expected. (...) This week's heatwave comes in the driest January since 1932 when just 0.3 of a millimetre rain fell.Rainfall this month has been 0.8 of a millimetre. With the bureau predicting no further rain this month, it is set to be the second driest January in 159 years of record keeping.The big dry has left Melbourne's water storages levels at 33.6 per cent capacity.
Australia suffers worst heatwave for a century (28 Jan 2009) http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/australiaandthepacific/australia/4373473/Australia-suffers-worst-heatwave-for-a-century.html
Australia is battling the highest temperatures in almost a century as a brutal' heatwave grips the country. -- The mercury reached 114F (45.6C) in Adelaide on Wednesday, the hottest temperature the city has experienced in 70 years and just shy of its all-time record of 115F. In Melbourne, furnace-like conditions caused disruption at the Australian Open, making a civilised game of tennis almost impossible. Organisers were forced to interrupt the tournament when temperatures on court rose to 46.7C. The city, which is used to days of around 77F at this time of year, later recorded a top temperature of 110F. But weather experts have warned residents of the states of Victoria and South Australia to expect worse to come. CLIP
Victoria prepares for worst heatwave in a century (January 27, 2009) http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au/story/0,25197,24968430-5006785,00.html
A TOTAL fire ban has been declared in most parts of Victoria for tomorrow with temperatures set to soar above 40C. The ban takes affect from midnight tonight in the north western, north eastern, south western and central districts. Victoria is facing its worst heatwave in a century, with firefighters, rail operators and power companies on red alert.Department of Sustainability and Environment chief fire officer Ewan Waller said all of Victoria's forests were carrying high fuel loads as a result of 12 years of drought. "Forest fuels are at extreme levels and are all available to burn and burn with extreme intensity and that is a real concern," he said. The extreme heat started today with a forecast top of 38C for Melbourne followed by four days of 40C-plus. Mildura hit 37.5C by about noon. The mercury is expected to crash through 40C every day this week in regional centres including Mildura, Shepparton and Bendigo, the Herald Sun reports.Premier John Brumby will hold a crisis meeting with emergency services today to discuss contingency plans to cope with the extreme heat. "We haven't seen conditions like this certainly for 100 years, possibly in our modern history since records began. It is going to be quite a challenge," he said. CLIP MANY more related news through this LINK
World Fire Atlas (WFA) http://dup.esrin.esa.int/ionia/wfa/index.asp
More than 50 million hectares of forest are burnt annually, and these fires have a significant impact on global atmospheric pollution, with biomass burning contributing to the global budgets of greenhouse gases, like carbon dioxide.For a decade now, ESA satellites have been continuously surveying fires burning across the Earths surface. Worldwide fire maps based on this data are now available online in near-real time through ESA's ATSR World Fire Atlas. In addition to maps, the time, date, longitude and latitude of the hot spots are provided. Central Africa is on fire right now and no one is even mentioning it and the UV index if off the scale over much of the Southern hemisphere..
Palm oil frenzy threatens to wipe out orangutans (Jan 18, 2009) http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5h9o2SE_tEvBAHt3Odkr4gM1_o9OAD95PN2UG0
(...) "I try not to get depressed, I try not to get burned out," says the Canadian scientist, pulling a wide-rimmed jungle hat over her shoulder-length gray hair in Tanjung Puting National Park. She gently leans over to pick up a tiny orangutan, orphaned when his mother was caught raiding crops. "But when you get up in the air you start gasping in horror; there's nothing but palm oil in an area that used to be plush rain forest. Elsewhere, there's burned-out land, which now extends even within the borders of the park." The demand for palm oil is rising in the U.S. and Europe because it is touted as a "clean" alternative to fuel. Indonesia is the world's top producer of palm oil, and prices have jumped by almost 70 percent in the last year. But palm oil plantations devastate the forest and create a monoculture on the land, in which orangutans cannot survive. Over the years, Galdikas has fought off loggers, poachers and miners, but nothing has posed as great a threat to her "babies" as palm oil. There are only an estimated 50,000 to 60,000 orangutans left in the wild, 90 percent of them in Indonesia, said Serge Wich, a scientist at the Great Ape Trust of Iowa. Most live in small, scattered populations that cannot take the onslaught on the forests much longer.Trees are being cut at a rate of 300 football fields every hour. And massive land-clearing fires have turned the country into one of the top emitters of carbon. CLIP
Why Tropical Forests Fall (January 2, 2009) http://www.loe.org/shows/segments.htm?programID=09-P13-00001&segmentID=3
(...) Tropical forests cover about seven percent of the Earth, but the widespread cutting and burning of these forests causes some twenty percent of all global warming gas emissions worldwide. So experts in deforestation, rural development, and climate are all working together to make sure that the next international treaty on climate includes measures to slow the destruction and degradation of forests. Living on Earth's Ingrid Lobet takes a look now at the driving forces of tropical deforestation. LOBET: Even some veteran environmentalists have been startled to realize how much the cutting and burning of tropical forests is responsible for global warming. MAATHAI: For me, that was amazing. LOBET: That's Nobel Laureate Wangari Maathai. The tree-planting movement founder spoke at recent climate change talks in Poznan, Poland. MAATHAI: Because quite often, we in the developing world, we say we are not contributing much to greenhouse gases. But obviously if you take into account deforestation, land degradation, the fact that the majority of people use wood for lighting or cooking, then obviously they are releasing a lot of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, far more than I'm sure people are aware of. LOBET: In Africa, Maathai says, it's often villagers who cut the forest to plant crops. MAATHAI: And because communities do not have an understanding of how to use the land sustainably, prevent soil erosion, when you fly over Africa, you see a lot of that slash and burn, especially within the Congo Basin forest. LOBET: The Congo Basin forest is second in size only to the Amazon. So preserving it is among the highest priorities of tropical forest experts. Dennis Garrity directs the World Agroforestry Centre or ICRAF, a group with deep tree-planting roots in Africa. GARRITY: Agriculture is largely responsible for deforestation. And some estimates say that 80 percent of forest conversion is directly related to producing more food. LOBET: Besides food, another major cause of deforestation in Africa's Congo Basin, says Garrity, is the production of furniture grade wood. CLIP
Brazil pledges to cut Amazon destruction in half (Dec 1, 2008) Let's hope it's true this time! http://www.reuters.com/article/environmentNews/idUSTRE4B04G420081201?sp=true
BRASILIA (Reuters) - Brazil pledged Monday to cut the rate at which it was destroying its Amazon forest in half over the next decade to help combat global warming.Setting its first such target after years of global criticism, Brazil will aim to reduce clearing of the world's largest rain forest to an annual 5,850 sq km (2,260 sq miles), by 2018, about half the recent rate."This plan improves Brazil's image, we'll have more moral authority internationally," Environment Minister Carlos Minc told reporters after a launching ceremony attended by President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva. Brazil wants to become a major voice in global environmental issues and hopes the plan will help allay criticism it has done too little to fight burning and clearing by loggers, farmers and ranchers. Amazon destruction makes Brazil one of the top emitters of greenhouse gases because trees release carbon dioxide into the atmosphere when they're cut down or burned. CLIP
Many glaciers will disappear by middle of century and add to rising sea levels, expert warns (19 January 2009) http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2009/jan/19/glacier-rising-sea-levels
Most of the planet's glaciers are melting so fast that many will disappear by the middle of the century, a leading expert has warned. Figures from the World Glacier Monitoring Service show that although melt rates for 2007 fell substantially from record levels the previous year, the loss of ice was still the third worst on record.The total mass left in the glaciers is now thought to be at the lowest level for "thousands of years".Even under moderate predictions of global warming, the small glaciers, which make up the majority by number, will not recover, said Prof Wilfried Haeberli, the organisation's director.The warning will raise concern among those who say that glacier melting is one of the greatest threats of climate change because it raises the risk of sudden avalanches of rocks and soil released from the ice, threatening the livelihoods of more than 2 billion people who depend on melt-water to feed rivers in summer. Glacier melting will also add to rising global sea levels."If the climate is not really cooling dramatically, they'll retreat and disintegrate," said Haeberli. "This means many will simply be lost in the next decades - 10, 20, 30, 40 years. CLIP
LSU scientist finds evidence of 'rain-making' bacteria http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2008-02/lsu-lsf022808.php
Could have implications for climate and understanding dissemination of agricultural pathogens -- BATON ROUGE Brent Christner, LSU professor of biological sciences, in partnership with colleagues in Montana and France, recently found evidence that rain-making bacteria are widely distributed in the atmosphere. These biological particles could factor heavily into the precipitation cycle, affecting climate, agricultural productivity and even global warming. Christner and his colleagues will publish their results in the prestigious journal Science on Feb. 29.Christners team examined precipitation from global locations and demonstrated that the most active ice nuclei a substrate that enhances the formation of ice are biological in origin. This is important because the formation of ice in clouds is required for snow and most rainfall. Dust and soot particles can serve as ice nuclei, but biological ice nuclei are capable of catalyzing freezing at much warmer temperatures. If present in clouds, biological ice nuclei may affect the processes that trigger precipitation.
EU parliament votes by sweeping majority to ban farm pesticides (13 January 2009) http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2009/jan/13/eu-pesticides-carrots
The European parliament today voted by a sweeping majority to tighten the use of pesticides in agriculture and to ban 22 treatments, a decision that critics say could wipe out British carrots. Greens celebrated the vote as a victory for environmentalism. But the farming lobby warned that the restrictions were pointless, would wipe out harvests of winter vegetables, and push up food prices during a European recession and worsening unemployment.The proposed legislation places tight curbs on crop-spraying, bans the use of pesticides near schools and hospitals, and proscribes 22 chemicals, some said to be carcinogenic.The Green MEP for the south-east, Caroline Lucas, hailed it as "a new milestone for environment and health protection"."This regulation, the first of its kind in the world, will bring clear health benefits and improve both food and water quality in the EU," she said CLIP
Powerful Solar Storm Could Shut Down U.S. for Months (January 9, 2009) http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,478024,00.html
A new study from the National Academy of Sciences outlines grim possibilities on Earth for a worst-case scenario solar storm. Damage to power grids and other communications systems could be catastrophic ... with effects leading to a potential loss of governmental control of the situation. The prediction is based in part on a major solar storm in 1859 that caused telegraph wires to short out in the United States and Europe, igniting widespread fires. It was perhaps the worst in the past 200 years ... and with the advent of modern power grids and satellites, much more is at risk. "A contemporary repetition of the  event would cause significantly more extensive (and possibly catastrophic) social and economic disruptions," the researchers conclude. Modern power grids are so interconnected that a big space storm ... could cause a cascade of failures that would sweep across the United States, cutting power to 130 million people or more in this country alone. Such widespread power outages ... would affect other vital systems. "Impacts would be felt on interdependent infrastructures with, for example, potable water distribution affected within several hours; perishable foods and medications lost in 12-24 hours; immediate or eventual loss of heating/air conditioning, sewage disposal, phone service, transportation, fuel resupply and so on," the report states. Outages could take months to fix, the researchers say. Note: Read more about powerful solar storms here. If sturdy telegraph wires shorted out in 1859, what do you think might happen to computers and other electrical devices now if a storm of this magnitude were to hit again?
Google plans to make PCs history http://www.guardian.co.uk/technology/2009/jan/25/google-drive-gdrive-internet
Industry critics warn of danger in giving internet leader more power -- Google is to launch a service that would enable users to access their personal computer from any internet connection, according to industry reports. But campaigners warn that it would give the online behemoth unprecedented control over individuals' personal data. The Google Drive, or "GDrive", could kill off the desktop computer, which relies on a powerful hard drive. Instead a user's personal files and operating system could be stored on Google's own servers and accessed via the internet. The long-rumoured GDrive is expected to be launched this year, according to the technology news website TG Daily, which described it as "the most anticipated Google product so far". It is seen as a paradigm shift away from Microsoft's Windows operating system, which runs inside most of the world's computers, in favour of "cloud computing", where the processing and storage is done thousands of miles away in remote data centres. CLIP
NOTE: If you regularly use a cellphone, PLEASE read the following excerpts. Don't bury your head in the sand...
Health Canada has little to say about cellphone risks for kids (January 22, 2009)
List of countries warning of cellphone risks for children grows and yet as usual Canadian Health Authorities are lagging far behind!!! http://www.cbc.ca/health/story/2009/01/22/cellphone-children.html
Close to a dozen countries around the world have issued warnings or cautions about children using cellphones, but Health Canada has no similar message for Canadians. France is about to make it illegal to market cellphones to children under 12. The United Kingdom, Germany, Belgium, Israel, Russia and India are also advising children limit their use of cellphones. Finland's Radiation and Nuclear Safety Authority encourages parents to err on the side of caution, saying radiation from cellphones could pose a health risk but the research into possible effects of prolonged cellphone use is unclear. In Russia, its recommended children under 18 not use cellphones at all. But while a survey conducted by CBC-TV's Marketplace on more than 1,000 Canadian children found almost half of nine- to 13-year-olds now have cellphones, Health Canada gives no such advice about the risks of cellphone use. (...) Devra Davis, a professor of epidemiology and the director of the Centre for Environmental Oncology at the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute, believes the knowledge gap in the scientific literature is enough reason to keep phones away from kids. "Because the latency between exposure and brain cancer could be 20 or 30 years we are basically treating ourselves like lab rats in an experiment without any controls," said Davis. The brains of adults and children differ when it comes to how they absorb the radiation that cellphones emit, Davis added. "The brain of a child literally is less dense, it's more porous, it's more susceptible to everything," she said. Adult brains are thicker and denser, so the radio frequency signal is absorbed less deeply, she said. The low-level radiation emitted by a cellphone is absorbed more than halfway through the brain of a five-year-old, Davis said. CLIP
How wireless technology can affect the body (January 22, 2009) http://www.cbc.ca/health/story/2009/01/22/f-cellphoneshealth.html
Cell phones: a wake up call (January 19, 200) http://www.bclocalnews.com/vancouver_island_central/parksville_qualicumbeachnews/entertainment/37851699.html
Mobile phones are a modern day convenience in our society. But, does this advance in technology come at a price to human health? Humanity engages various forms of radiation in our everyday life. From microwaves to X-rays, we are surrounded by EMF waves (electromagnetic radiation). Modern medicine thanks Madame Currie for her discovery of the X-ray, but recognizes radiation poisoning eroded her health and eventually claimed her life. Almost two billion people worldwide use cell phones, many of whom are children. This usage represents an unprecedented exposure to electromagnetic radiation in the population. Estimates put EMF radiation exposure at 100 times what it was only a few decades ago.Is this safe? Today, 30 to 50,000 new cases of brain and eye cancers are attributable to cell phone usage. Projections indicate this number will rise to 500,00 by 2010. These energy waves carry information invisibly over great distances and can penetrate solid objects, humans included. As these are human-made forms of radiation, they are seen as foreign. Our bodies, well designed as they may be, do not have a built in protective mechanism for this kind of radiation, unlike solar radiation. Some fear humans put their health at risk bathing in a sea of EMF radiation. CLIP
Mobile Phone Use Linked to Sharp Decline in Sperm Quality (24oct2006) http://www.mindfully.org/Technology/2006/Mobile-Phone-Sperm24oct06.htm
Prolonged cell phone use may damage sperm in male users, suggests a study by researchers at the Cleveland Clinic Lerner College of Medicine at Case Western Reserve University, Ohio.The findings presented at the American Society of Reproductive Medicine conference in New Orleans were based on a study of 361 men attending the clinic for infertility tests. The men were divided into four groups one group with no cell phone usage; one group that used cell phones less than two hours a day; a group that used one for two to four hours a day; and a group with more than four hours a day of cell phone usage. The men who used their cell phones in excess of four hours showed a 30 percent drop in sperm motility and viability when compared to the men who did not use cell phones. Sperm count, quality, and shape were also reduced with each level of increased phone usage. CLIP
Thank you dear Soul for the wonderful work that you do. For quite a few years now your mailings have been a source of light, encouragement and wonderful discovery for me.
There have been times when I was really struggling with my mission to be on earth at this time and then your mailing would arrive with an encouraging message and a link to a source of uplifting energy.
I hold you in my heart with so much gratitude.
I did not write to you concerning the horrors of Gaza. I took it for granted that all of your readers like me were feeling the deepest love for all of the Souls embroiled in the horrors there. All of the Souls on both sides for as Lightworkers that is our mission here at this time, is it not? The only antidote is Love, Divine Love. I believe that Matthew's recommendation not to judge anyone or anything at this time is right. I know that I do not know all that is involved in this conflict from an esoteric perspective.
Perhaps it is convenient and easier to believe that there is a Divine Plan and that however bad things appear, everything that happens is a part of that plan. And that there will be a happy ending. But I do sincerely believe that. I feel great love and compassion for those Souls that have suffered and are suffering in both Gaza and Israel and I thank them from the bottom of my heart for playing out their part in the one plan in such a torturous way. They are braver Souls than me.
One of the greatest sources of inspiration that your mailings have brought to me was the Ringing Cedar series of books about Anastasia's teachings by Vladimir Megre. I am currently reading Book 6 and in it Anastasia says that 9/11 was nothing to what was originally on the cards. However, the original plan was scuppered because George Bush took 10 days vacation at his Texas ranch, being in nature he was reconnected with Creator. "Thanks George" - never thought I would ever say that! I say again that I do not have the esoteric knowledge necessary to understand anything except that I am here, as a Lightworker, to send Divine Love to all Souls without exception.
Thank you, dear Jean, for being such a wonderful support in that mission.
Love and light and the highest blessing to you,
From: Virginia Nichols (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Thank you very much for the laborious efforts you have taken to compile the horrific accounts of Israel's brutal attacks upon the people of Gaza. Your statement that you received responses from just three subscribers got my attention. Where I live (SF Bay Area, Calif.), it seems indicative of the amount of attention the US media bother to pass along. In my daily newspaper today, there is one short, syndicated article on page 9 about Hamas joining the cease-fire. The page leads with yet another story about the Airbus plane that landed in the Hudson River (no casualties). Another national report tells us that the "dangers of cyberspace are fewer, but caution still urged." That is the context sequentially laid out for readers: Airbus, Gaza, cyberspace.
This news equivalent of a junk-food diet is grossly misleading. I know I will not see in today's mainstream media a respected journalistic inquiry about the lack of public discourse about the United States' unconditional support of Israel. This is why I am hungry for your compilations.
One individual effort we can make is to write letters to editors and demand more proportionate coverage. We can state our opinions, which will assure others that they are not being racist by opposing genocide. We can refuse to be labeled as anti-Semitic because we care about all of humanity. Editors are easily e-mailed these days; we can cut and paste the stories distributed to ERN and ask these editors why it never made our newspapers. Although the newspaper industry is in a crisis of its own making, it still influences the perceptions of the mainstream public.
As always, thank you for the tremendous service you perform for everyone.
From: Clyde Thorpe (email@example.com)
I do not believe that the individuals that are on your mailing list are complacent, most simply recognize the fact humanity refuses to learn from the experiences of the past and those of us who feel the connection to the source of all life recognize that the world must endure this suffering so mans evil nature can be cleansed by the experience.
We are in the final days of this age and if we are to transcend our current level of consciousness, those who are materialistic have to undergo dramatic change to become illuminated.
I am always amazed when I see TV news after a disaster when people lose all material things that they suddenly voice the view that while they lost everything, they still have life, their family & friends and that was the most important thing. The fancy car, house, bling bling items were no longer important. They looked within and found peace.
The cycle of karma will play out its part, in due course, on those who promote the current evil in the world, our role is to remain balanced and let the universe make the change unfold. There is too much light in this world now for evil to continue but more people have to lose the material things they have so that they are forced to look within.
I support the petitions forwarded by Avaaz.org to the UN & Government bodies to effect change but bear in mind these individuals are the one trying to control the direction to evil and they will actually do nothing to change the world. It is the combined will of all the enlightened souls that will make change happen.
Our inner power to manifest good by thought is more powerful than any anger or negative action we may take to make unwilling, blind humanity change their path, each individual has to become aware of the life force within for change to occur.
Walk in peace, in the knowledge that if you project peaceful thoughts, the world around you will be in harmony and sooner, if not later, the whole world will be harmonious. Negative begets negative.
It has taken me a long time to realize this truth. You cannot change the world, only yourself.
When each of us have changed, the world will have changed. If we are at peace, we attract peace around us, when enough of us do, all will be at peace.
Peace be with you.
Clyde Andre Thorpe
From: Roy A. Stokes (firstname.lastname@example.org)
LETTERS TO THE EDITOR, The Northern Virginia Daily Jan. 14, 2009
"Operation Cast Lead" is a revealing banner, if you know the facts. Israel is bombing the Gaza strip with DIME bombsDense Inert Metal Explosives. This horrible weaponry Israel uses is a genotoxic, 100% carcinogenic bomb, developed and manufactured by the USA. The undetectable shrapnel from this highly-developed explosive attacks the immune system, and causes thousands of amputations, which only stave off the spread of cancer in its victims for 4 to 6 months. In other words, while the fighting may end with a death count of several hundred, months later the numbers will be ten times higher, when the focus is no longer Israel's attacks on Gaza. Essentially, with the support and assistance from the United States, Israel is committing genocide. It is no longer a question of "What would Jesus bomb?" It's "What would bomb Jesus?", and the answer is Israel, and the US.
While the United States aggressively opposes arms sales from any other country to groups, it simultaneously gift-wraps a Whitman's sampler of weaponry to Israel. Without revealing the horrendous nature or origin of this weaponryresearched, developed and manufactured in the USnews is presented as if Israel is simply using conventional weapons to "defend" itself. The facts show that Israel is trying to eradicate the Palestinian people.
Research, development and manufacturing of bombs, tanks, fighter planes, and the $68 Billion battleship George H.W. Bush cannot possibly be done in the name of peace, freedom, or even democracy. It is done in the name of war profiteering and murder. Underlying all of it is the necessity for oilto lubricate rifle hammers, grease the tank wheels, and propel the war machinery. Oil found in the middle-East, where Israel makes a convenient base for the US to control oil. An oil Administration manipulated events to assure the war machinery will live indefinitely, and to them, Palestinians are "collateral Damage".
It is pure blindness to not see how 9/11, as an inside job, bulldozed the way to where we are now, and who the real victims are.
And what group are actually the terrorists. USS George H.W. Bush.
Roy Andrew Stokes
From: Jennifer Schmid (email@example.com)
I just had to take a moment to respond to you that although I did not reply to you directly after reading through the last ERN, I certainly took to a heavy heart all that was happening in Gaza. Only because of your extensive postings did I try to send light and love to the Israeli militia and government and to Hamas and all the civilians of Gaza. I was surprised at how difficult it was in some ways to get over my own feelings and interpretations of the horrible situation, and yet I also felt a positive response from the spiritual world that I was on the right track. So thank you! I am always grateful to my friend Karen for forwarding me one of your messages a couple of years ago. Know that you are making an incredible difference! And heres to a turning of the tide on Tuesday...
Love and peace,
From: Jenny Harrison (firstname.lastname@example.org)
For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world and lose his own soul?
Linda Grant, in her book Still Here makes a pertinent suggestion regarding evil. She says: Evil begets evil, it becomes separate from its original source A child who is abused who grows up to be an abuser. A people who have been the victims of genocide, who in fighting for their survival are so conditioned and traumatised by the apparently irreparable damage done to them that they are no longer able to distinguish between self-defence and aggressive indifference to the fate of others.
It would seem easier for a people who have experienced the horrors of a holocaust to perpetrate that upon others, just as an abused child often goes on, as Grant suggests, to be an abuser.
One wonders why Israelis are giving up their souls for a piece of earth.
Glenfield - New Zealand
The following message was left on January 19 by Suzanna Sjogren (email@example.com) in the ERN guestbook:
First I want to thank you for the beautiful music. I've had a long day and it is delightful to let it stream through my evening here.
I want to comment on why I have not written in words anything in regards to the Palestinian suffering a slaughtering depopulation. I just don't seem to have words left in me anymore for the horrendous conflicts and repercussions that hatred and indifference inflict on this earth. I am feeling it all greatly and the tears flow with my prayers, but words fail me and perhaps others feel likewise. Please keep your voice, we still need to hear.
Date: 19 Jan 2009
From: Kelley Elkins (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Subject: In response to an email on remembering the past...
Yes, it is more than wise to remember the past and yet, those who remember the past and do nothing to handle the emotional garbage associated with it will repeat it again anyway. The "Past" if we may recall our Constitution which members of our government are sworn to uphold, says that when a government strays from caring for its people then it is the responsibility of those people to take their government back, by force if necessary.... It appears the nation is in the honeymoon of happy Obama... it will be interesting to see how many wake up to what is really happening. As per usual, we are largely asleep at the wheel with no real idea of where we are going.
Pardon me, we must as a nation withdraw all financial and military support from Israel, and remove all military and contractor mercenaries from Iraq and Afghanistan...and close all military bases outside of our nations boundaries. We must come home and rebuild what has be ransacked by the last eight years... to say nothing of the creeping crud of the past almost 100 years (fed reserve and corporate greed and pharms etc.) of which very few people have noticed or cared about. If we did this we would have the resources to feed our nation and others, the resources to put all that really want to work... to work. The resources to be free and sovereign...awake and happy... loving and healthy.
We are on the edge of extraordinary events...that may or may not play out for us the people of this great nation...We are either free and sovereign or we pretend to be... What is a great nation if all its people are asleep...ignorance is not bliss it is slavery. Wake up!, there is more than just coffee brewing.
In Truth, Simplicity and Love,
Young Kelley and Young Toni
email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org
I joined Tuesday's huge crowd in Washington to witness the inauguration of our 44th President. The people who traveled from all over the country had worked to elect Barack Obama and create a community of hope, optimism, and readiness to tackle the challenges, and that spirit pervaded the Mall.
For me, as for so many, a big part of the amazement and deep joy that I experienced was because our nation had elected an African-American as our president. The ideals and the movement that made Barack Obama's election possible stretch back to the American Revolution, through the Civil War and the great social movements of the 20th century-steady, hard work to broaden our democracy and push it to live up to its founding ideals. Obama didnt create this movement; it created the opportunity that he and his unique talents have stepped into.
As Obama took the oath of office, I was remembering years before when, as a young lawyer in North Carolina, I went to court over and over fighting discrimination to make the vote of African-Americans meaningful and to end discrimination on the job. Had anyone predicted this back then, when we were struggling to bring political power to African-Americans, we'd have been considered deranged.
We also might have been considered loony more recently had we predicted that today we would have a president with a strong environmental agenda and an ambitious clean energy plan to back it up.
But it's happened, and it's given rise to an unfamiliar sense of optimism that's been missing for eight years. Stoking that optimism are these words of President Obama from just a few days ago, putting forth his vision for the immediate future:
"To finally spark the creation of a clean energy economy, we will double the production of alternative energy in the next three years. We will modernize more than 75 percent of federal buildings and improve the energy efficiency of two million American homes, saving consumers and taxpayers billions on our energy bills."
Based upon such promises, and because he has surrounded himself with several strong environmental appointees, we should see these actions during the early days of the Obama administration:
- Many green initiatives in the upcoming stimulus package.
- A sea change in America's role internationally, from one of arrogance and condescension to leadership and collaboration, including on climate.
- Quick action to allow California and other states (a dozen have declared their intention to follow California's lead) to set stiffer vehicle emission standards than current federal standards.
- A green light to the Environmental Protection Agency to begin regulating carbon dioxide as a greenhouse gas. The Supreme Court ruled in that direction nearly two years ago; the Bush administration defied the ruling.
- Substantial movement toward returning science to its proper role in informing decisions on the environment and public health.
- Steps toward removing mercury from power plant and cement kiln emissions.
- Progress toward restoring the scope of the Clean Water Act.
- And a new day at the Department of Energy on renewables and efficiency.
We must also, however, face the reality of the deep economic hole we are in, and the shackles it will put on all good intentions. The immense demands on the federal budget simply won't allow the kinds of increases we need in environmental protection and enforcement of existing laws. And, the urgent necessity to create jobs will almost certainly cause some conflicts.
The economic crisis is likely to mean cuts in the budgets of environmental agencies at all levels, federal, state, and local. The California budget crisis, for instance, has frozen funding for hundreds of environmental projects. Agencies will not have the staffing and funding to adequately enforce the laws we have on the books. This puts the onus on citizen groups to become involved more deeply in enforcement efforts. And, finally, the outgoing administration is leaving behind a horrendous mess that will have to be cleaned up, and that will take time and money.
Fortunately, President Obama isn't alone as he begins his journey of change. He has swept into the White House with a mandate of wide support from a nation that wants to move forward into a clean and healthy future. Most Americans, by an overwhelming margin, are hoping he succeeds. Old divisions are melting and we are becoming a people united in our adversity and in our hopea people ready to roll up our sleeves and start doing the hard work that surely will make that future ours.
We all need to quadruple our efforts to create the possibilities for Obama and the Congress and for progress at the state and local level, too. If we don't, politics as usual and the interests that control Washington will steer things their way. As Obama said over and over during the campaign, this isn't about himit's about us. That is even more true with him in office than during the campaign.
From: "Change.org Weekly (email@example.com)
Date: 23 Jan 2009
Subject: Hope for Obama, America, and the World
Hope for Obama, America, and the World
This week the world witnessed an amazing moment: As Barack Obama became the 44th President of the United States in front of almost two million Americans and over a billion viewers around the globe, one could sense the emergence of a new era in America - one of change, hope, and responsibility.
President Obama's inaugural message was a clarion call to service and action. "What is required of us now is a new era of responsibility," he said. "A recognition, on the part of every American, that we have duties to ourselves, our nation, and the world, duties that we do not grudgingly accept but rather seize gladly, firm in the knowledge that there is nothing so satisfying to the spirit, so defining of our character, than giving our all to a difficult task."
The president's message echoed the long-standing American values of hard work, sacrifice, and service. He stated without equivocation that by coming together, rolling up our sleeves, and working our tails off, we can do more than get ourselves out of the rut we're in; we can make lasting change to benefit generations to come.
We couldn't agree more, and in the next few months we will be answering this call to service by providing additional ways for the Change.org community to get directly involved in the work of reinvigorating our nation's civic life. As a first step, our team of bloggers spent this week writing about their hopes for the Obama presidency, providing a sense of the direction we aim to take in the months ahead. Here's a sampling:
Day One, Darfur
One of the many pressing issues facing our new president is the restoration of America's image abroad writes Genocide blogger Michelle. By fulfilling his commitment to make Darfur a "day one" priority, Obama will not only make good on a campaign promise, but will set the direction for a future of American global engagement grounded in both strategic and moral leadership.
Equality and Inclusion
Because Obama spoke about disabled rights and discussed issues that directly affect autistic people, Dora Raymaker has high hopes that he'll follow through with his disabilities agenda and further empower those on the autistic spectrum.
That's a lot of hope in one week. To read summaries from all of our 19 causes, please visit our blog. And stay with us as we expand upon these ideas in the next year and respond to President Obama's commitment that he's listening. As part of this effort, we'll also soon be launching the next phase of our Ideas for Change in America contest, for which we announced the winners last week at the National Press Club. Stay tuned -- there's a lot more to come.
President orders air strikes on villages in tribal area
Ewen MacAskill in Washington -- 24 January 2009
Barack Obama gave the go-ahead for his first military action yesterday, missile strikes against suspected militants in Pakistan which killed at least 18 people.
Four days after assuming the presidency, he was consulted by US commanders before they launched the two attacks. Although Obama has abandoned many of the "war on terror" policies of George Bush while he was president, he is not retreating from the hunt for Osama bin Laden and other al-Qaida leaders.
The US believes they are hiding in the tribal areas along the border with Afghanistan, and made 30 strikes last year in which more than 200 people were killed. In the election, Obama hinted at increased operations in Pakistan, saying he thought Bush had made a mistake in switching to Iraq before completing the job against al-Qaida in Afghanistan and Pakistan.
The US marine corp commander said yesterday that his 22,000 troops should be redeployed from Iraq to Afghanistan. Gen James Conway said "the time is right" to leave Iraq now the war had become largely nation-building rather than the pitched fighting in which the corps excelled; he wanted the marines in Afghanistan, especially in the south where insurgents, and the Taliban and al-Qaida, benefit from both a nearby safe haven in Pakistan and a booming trade in narcotics.
Obama has warned that he is prepared to bomb inside Pakistan if he gets relevant intelligence about the whereabouts of Osama bin Laden. He had also said he would act against militants along the border if the Pakistan government failed to.
The US missiles were fired by unmanned Predator drones, which hang in the sky gathering intelligence through surveillance and, when commanded and directed by remote control, to launch attacks.
The strikes will help Obama portray himself as a leader who, though ready to shift the balance of American power towards diplomacy, is not afraid of military action.
The first attack yesterday was on the village of Zharki, in Waziristan; three missiles destroyed two houses and killed 10 people. One villager told Reuters of phonethat of nine bodies pulled from the rubble of one house, six were its owner and his relatives; Reuters added that intelligence officials said some foreign militants were also killed. A second attack hours later also in Warizistan killed eight people.
The Pakistan government publicly expressed hope that the arrival of Obama would see a halt to such strikes, which stir up hostility from Pakistanis towards the government; in private, the government may be more relaxed about such attacks.
There is a lot of nervousness in the new administration about the fragility of Pakistan, particularly as it has nuclear weapons, but it also sees Afghanistan and Pakistan as being linked. In the face of a Taliban resurgence, there is despair in Washington over the leadership of the Afghan leader, Hamid Karzai, and there will not be much disappointment if he is replaced in elections later this year.
But Washington insists on seeing as one of its biggest problems the ability of the Taliban and al-Qaida to maintain havens in Pakistan. Obama on Thursday announced he was making veteran diplomat Richard Holbrooke a special envoy to Pakistan and Afghanistan. The secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, spoke by phone to the Pakistan president, Asif Ali Zardari.
U.S. probes deaths in Taliban raid (Jan 24, 2009) http://www.thestar.com/News/World/article/576748
KABULThe U.S. coalition in Afghanistan opened an investigation into an overnight raid early Saturday that American commanders say killed 15 armed militants but that two Afghan officials say killed 11 civilians. A detailed U.S. statement said multiple teams of militants fired on the coalition forces during a raid against a Taliban commander early Saturday in the eastern province of Laghman. The U.S. said a woman carrying a rocket-propelled grenade was among the 15 killed. "We know the people who were killed were shooting at us," said Col. Greg Julian, the top U.S. spokesman in Afghanistan. "The people who were killed today were running around, maneuvering against our forces, and we killed them.'' But Sayed Ahmad Safi, the spokesman for Laghman's governor, said that government intelligence reports indicated 11 of the dead were civilians, including three children and two females. Two of the dead were militants, he said. Abdul Khaliq Hussaini, a member of parliament who represents Laghman, said he believed 16 people had been killed, including 11 civilians. The site of the raid the village of Guloch lies 40 miles (60 kilometres) northeast of the capital, Kabul. Julian said a joint U.S.-Afghan investigation had been launched. CLIP
KINGSTON, NY, 22 January 2009 -- President Barack Obama will use his poll shattering popularity to swiftly enact policies that will prove to be among the most costly and potentially destructive in America's history, predicts Trends Research Institute Director Gerald Celente.
"We are forecasting dramatic measures will soon be taken by the Obama Administration that will worsen the credit crisis and severely damage the nation's economic system," says Celente.
According to The Trends Research Institute Director, the new President who swept into the White House on a tidal wave of unprecedented enthusiasm and the blessings of a strong majority, will have free reign to take whatever actions he deems necessary.
"Whatever Obama wants, Obama gets. Desperate, scared and not knowing what to do to survive the economic storm, people are seeking a messiah to save them, and Obama is their man," said Celente. "When fear rules, reason and logic are ruled out." (According to an AP poll, 71 percent of Americans believe the economy will improve during the first year of the Obama presidency.)
The 332-point stock market decline that greeted Mr. Obama into office (a record breaker for Inauguration Day) and today's 105-point market decline will be followed by a steady stream of worsening economic news and major financial calamities, Gerald Celente forecasts. Just as President Bush exploited 9/11 as a pretext to wage the War on Terror, invade Iraq, abrogate the Constitution and exert broad Executive powers (with bipartisan and majority public support), President Obama will be given even greater latitude to fight a war on economic terror, predicts Celente.
For example, Timothy Geithner, President Obama's nominee for Treasury Secretary, has pledged to expand and prolong government intervention in the financial markets. He said his economic team would take "forceful" and "substantial action" on a "very dramatic scale" to "forge an integrated strategy on how best to achieve currency realignment."
Celente advises to closely read the signals that have been clearly telegraphed by Mr. Geithner. "From proclaiming a bank holiday, confiscating gold to backstop devaluing currencies, mega-bailouts for the too-big-to-fails ... to nationalizing public firms and dollar devaluation ... whichever of these or other actions are taken, the financial burden will fall on the American people," Celente forecasts.
Blame the Little People
In his inauguration speech President Obama warned Americans of tougher times ahead and for the need to make greater sacrifices. In doing so, the President placed equal blame for the global financial crisis on the public's "collective failure to make hard choices," along with the "consequences of greed and irresponsibility on the part of some."
"The President is correct. Many have spent beyond their means, borrowed themselves into debt, took risks playing the markets, and speculated on real estate," said Celente. "But comparing Main Street's financial missteps to the large scale corruption and criminality of the banks, brokers, insurance companies, hedge fund operators, mortgage companies, rating agencies and buyout firms that cooked the books, enriched executives, ripped off clients and rigged the numbers, is further evidence that Obama is a Wall Street man.
Trendpost: Do you know where your money is? Is it safe? Will you be able to get it when you need it? What will you do if trading is temporarily suspended on Wall Street? Will you be able redeem your CD's?
The new Treasury Secretary promises "a very dramatic scale" of action that may in turn require you to take very dramatic counter measures to protect your assets. We forecast with great confidence that whatever actions Washington takes to save the "too big to fails," they will prove very costly for the "too small to saves" who will be forced to foot the bills and eat the losses.
Downturn accelerates as it circles the globe (Jan. 24, 2009) http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/28823013/
Economies worse off than analysts predicted just weeks ago -- The world economy is deteriorating more quickly than leading economists predicted only weeks ago, with Britain yesterday becoming the latest nation to surprise analysts with the depth of its economic pain.Britain posted its worst quarterly contraction since 1980 on the heels of sharper than expected slowdowns reported from Germany to China to South Korea. The grim data, analysts said, underscores how the burst of the biggest credit bubble in history is seeping into the real economies around the world, silencing construction cranes, bankrupting businesses and throwing millions of people out of work. "In just the past few days, we've had a big downward revision, we're seeing that an even bigger deceleration is on the way than we thought," said Simon Johnson, former chief economist at the International Monetary Fund and a senior fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics. The depth of the troubles, analysts say, indicates that nations may need to spend more than the billions of dollars already planned on stimulus packages to jump-start their economies, and that a global recovery could take longer, perhaps pushing into 2010. Analysts are particularly concerned about the slowdown in China and the recession in Europe. There is mounting concern about the stability of the euro and the British pound, which dropped to a 24-year low against the dollar yesterday. Analysts are fretting about the possibility of a debt default in a euro-zone country that could send fresh shock waves through global financial markets. The problems in Europe now appear to be as bad if not worse than those in the United States. In the last quarter of 2008, the British economy shrank at an annualized rate of 6 percent. That is worse than economists expected, but also showed the British recession may be even harsher than the one in the United States, where analysts predict data expected next week will show the U.S. economy to have contracted between 5 and 5.5 percent in the last quarter of 2008. (...) "The question now is not how bad will 2009 be, but will we recover in 2010 and if we recover, will it only be anemic?" said Andrew Scott, professor of economics at the London Business School, adding that the housing bubble is bigger, consumer debt is higher and the speed of the slowdown faster than in previous recessions. CLIP
Flood of foreclosures: It's worse than you think (January 23, 2009) http://money.cnn.com/2009/01/21/real_estate/ghost_inventory/index.htm
Banks are moving slowly to list repossessed homes for sale, which could mean that housing inventory is even more bloated than current statistics indicate. -- NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- Housing might be in worse shape than we think. There is probably even more excess housing inventory gumming up the market than current statistics indicate, thanks to a wave of foreclosures that has yet to hit the market. The problem: Many foreclosed homes and other distressed properties that are now owned by banks have yet to be listed for sale. The volume of this so-called 'ghost inventory' could be substantial enough to depress already steeply falling prices when it does go on the market. (...) Bank-owned properties are in worse condition than ever because the foreclosure process is taking longer than ever. As much as a year can pass between the time a borrower first misses a payment and the final auction sale, according to Youngblood. During that time, houses often deteriorate because owners have neither the money nor the incentive to maintain them. Some disgruntled homeowners may even deliberately damage homes before they leave." According to our servicing folks, it's taking more time for lenders to get properties in saleable condition," said Mechem. The phenomenon of a growing ghost inventory doesn't promise to get better anytime soon, as long as the rate of foreclosures continues to ravage the market. There were more than 3.1 million foreclosure filings in 2008, according to RealtyTrac. Said Sharga: "I don't see how we can avoid another 3 million in 2009."
Twenty-five people at the heart of the meltdown ... (26 January 2009) http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/2009/jan/26/road-ruin-recession-individuals-economy
The worst economic turmoil since the Great Depression is not a natural phenomenon but a man-made disaster in which we all played a part. In the second part of a week-long series looking behind the slump, Guardian City editor Julia Finch picks out the individuals who have led us into the current crisis. -- Alan Greenspan, chairman of US Federal Reserve 1987- 2006 -- Mervyn King, governor of the Bank of England -- Bill Clinton, former US president -- Gordon Brown, prime minister -- George W Bush, former US president -- Senator Phil Gramm -- Abby Cohen, Goldman Sachs chief US strategist -- Kathleen Corbet, former CEO, Standard & Poor's -- "Hank" Greenberg, AIG insurance group and 17 others...
IMPORTANT PERSPECTIVE! NOTE: In fact, there would be much more to say about the dismal shortsightedness of all the VERY costly "solutions" proposed/implemented so far by various governments who don't seem to have a clue about what to do to steer our world economy to a saner, truly sustainable path in line with the Earth's limited resources. They are pouring trillions of newly printed fiat money into a bottomless pit and act like a driver whose car is stuck into deep mud and whose thoughtless revving up of his motor only ensures that he will get stuck even deeper into the mud. But perhaps it is necessary that the entire world economy implodes for everyone to finally realize how unsustainable it has become. Endless economic growth is like a cancer eating up the whole planet and will kill everything unless we shift gears and radically go for a new set of spiritually based values and devise new means to produce what is actually needed for everyone to live a meaningful and naturally fulfilling life, while respecting the vital needs of all other life forms on Earth. It is high time we grasp that "Small is beautiful" is great along with locally-based self-sustainability, allowing altruistic love and enlightened compassion to guide us, and realizing happiness is never to be found through having ever more stuff, but through being ever more in Peace, Love and Harmony with All That Is.
Michel Wieviorka argues that, currently, when governments attempt to revive the real estate market, "they don't propose reflection on the city, urbanism, architecture, materials, heating. They are not establishing a research policy that would allow other ways of thinking about this issue."
All during his campaign, but also since his election, Barack Obama has demonstrated the interest he takes in research and science, as well as his taking into account ecology and sustainable development perspectives in order to confront the present crisis. But is it possible; is it realistic to talk this way?
In fact, the crisis presents two sides that each call for a highly contradictory treatment.
On the one hand, the crisis is time-specific, recent: it began with "subprimes," spread to all finance, the world over, is extending into an economic and social crisis. Most analysts say that from this perspective, the worst is still before us.
Viewed thus, it calls for immediate or short-term measures: recovery or rescue plans, Keynesian policy, everything organized under the seal of a return of the State and of recourse to more controls and regulation.
Who would have foreseen the nationalization of the big banks two or three years ago? It's all about recreating confidence, bringing liquidities to unjam the blocked mechanisms of the economy. Also at issue is saving jobs, devastated in some sectors. The effects of the measures adopted must be immediate or very fast.
Process of Mutation
On the other hand, the crisis does not date from the "subprimes" implosion; it is all of a piece with a process of mutation that has been going on over a much longer term - at the very least, the last thirty years.
It also comes to reveal, exacerbate, and accentuate considerable changes, geopolitical as well as domestic for the most-affected societies. A passage to a multi-polar world, where the BRIC countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China) are called upon to play an important role. Modifications of social structures have occurred in the United States, where millions of people who thought it possible to join the middle class via mortgage loans have failed. There has been considerable development of the middle classes within the BRIC countries. Along with the extension of employment insecurity and unemployment everywhere, phenomena that were virtually nonexistent during the three decades that followed the Second World War.
The crisis also vindicates those who, since the beginning of the 1970's, have demanded that we take new values into account: ecology, the environment, consideration for human diversity, more solidarity within our societies, between our societies, and with the generations to come.
In short, the crisis has come to tell us that the present system is exhausted - and not only because of its financial errancies - and that it is well past time to change eras.
By adopting palliatives for the worst catastrophes of the moment, governments hope to save the old system, to give it a second wind. In any case, they hardly seem to project themselves towards the future.
If, for example, they're dealing with reviving the real estate market, they don't propose reflection on the city, urbanism, architecture, materials, heating. They are not establishing a research policy that would allow other ways of thinking about this issue.
When the automobile industry is at stake, they bring assistance independently of what types of transport should be promoted. General Motors will be able to continue to build SUVs, however destructive they may be for the environment.
However, in order to switch to new orientations, in order to change the system, we need time. The risk there is of leaving urgent questions such as employment and standard of living aside.
Cutting through this dilemma is difficult. But doesn't claiming to join the two requirements risk producing a mythical discourse which reconciles that which cannot be reconciled in reality in an imaginary manner? We may, at the very least, thank Barack Obama for attempting to save the present economy, all the while promoting counter-cyclical efforts aimed at the long term.
Michel Wieviorka is director of studies at the Paris école des hautes études en sciences sociales [School for Advanced Studies in the Social Sciences].
Translation: Truthout French language editor Leslie Thatcher
From: James Gilliland (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Sent: January 18, 2009
Subject: Gary Mc Kinnon, the way out
Gary is being extradited to the US to stand trial for hacking into secret NASA and Government Files uncovering the fact that ufos exist and we have been back engineering ufos since the forties with what has now become our own space fleet. This technology has been with held from the public by a public funded organization NASA which is fraud. These technologies can be used for healing, fueless energy, moving necessary food and supplies quickly and cost effective to areas in need, would create a quantum leap in evolution as well as restore the planetary environment. Releasing these technologies would also jump start the economy and provide massive employment opportunities. It would end the fiery explosions of sending astronauts into space on dangerous rocket technology as well and make the aviation industry safe with antigravity the hard landings and many airline disasters would be avoided. If Gary is found guilty of uncovering a massive cover-up and entering top secret locations to find we have been lied too and our donations and taxpayers money was fraudulently used then all involved in the cover-up and fraud must also be found guilty. There is only one way they can successfully prosecute Gary and that is to continue to suppress the evidence and the truth which again will add to more fraud and deception. If the 200 witnesses showed up on Gary's behalf with all their top secret clearances and testified it looks like the game would be over. Gary would go free and it would be a golden opportunity to finally end the cover-up in the full eyes of the national press. I say lets send the 200 Civilian and Military Government Witnesses from the disclosure project to testify on Gary's behalf. What a golden opportunity. They want the law to be followed and for justice to have its day so why not give it to them. The greatest injustice would be to allow Gary to take the fall and continue to support the fraud and deception. Send this to all the UFO disclosure groups.
Whistleblowers evidence of NASA UFO fraud might kill UK hacker case (January 15, 09) http://www.examiner.com/x-2024-Denver-UFO-Examiner~y2009m1d15-Whistleblowers-evidence-of-NASA-UFO-fraud-might-kill-UK-hacker-case
Evidence that U.S. space agency NASA has defrauded U.S. taxpayers for billions of dollars could scrap NASA's case against UK hacker Gary McKinnon. Credible witnesses have claimed that NASA has altered or destroyed its photos containing images of UFOs. This could become a legal and public relations nightmare for NASA. The space agency is attempting to prosecute McKinnon for hacking into NASA computer files. McKinnon has stated that he saw UFO-related files in NASA's computers. But NASA has denied any "cover-up". NASA's claim of innocence faces a serious challenge. Some of the whistleblowers are former NASA employees and contractors with inside knowledge of NASA's operation. If NASA's destruction of public property is confirmed, the alleged cost of McKinnon's hacking would be insignificant compared to NASA's annual funding of more than $17 billion. Even worse, NASA's year 2000 mission statement boasted that it is "ethical and honest" in all that they do. Part of NASA's mission is to look for signs of intelligent life in outer space. So asking for more money to 'look', after they've already destroyed evidence that they 'found', is a not going to be easy. CLIP
China: Dazzling UFO seen and flimed by eight firefighters
Report by Audrey Chan email@example.com
A remarkable UFO was seen and filmed in China by an entire squadron of fire-fighters in Liu Pan Shui City in the province of Guizhou through a camera with a 700X zoom capability. One of the fire-fighters, Wang Jia Wei, noticed an odd looking, brightly flashing star moving in a south easterly direction and went inside the fire-fighters barracks to get a camera.
Luckily for Wang he was able to find a Panasonic camera used by his comrades to record damage caused by fires that allowed him to zoom in on the mysterious object seven hundred times. At that point Wang could see that the object was in fact two rotating spinning top shaped crafts or halves of a whole craft joined at a their bases. They were flashing a multitude of colours: Purple, red, blue, orange, white and gold.
Wang then called his eight fellow fire-fighters out and they observed the slow moving craft for almost an hour until the craft suddenly vanished.
20 minutes of footage was recorded and have been showed to Chinese reporters. The firemen approached the Liu Pan Shiu meteorological bureau two days after the sighting to seek some answers. Surprised staff members working for the bureau were shown the footage but were unable to identify what the object might be, declaring that it is indeed a UFO. There has been no suggestion that the fire-fighters faked the sighting and this not believed to be the case by any involved parties, the footage has been handed to government astronomical departments for further analysis.
The photo below is a verified still from the footage that our source has sent us. We believe a film should soon be available for viewing and will post a link as soon as this occurs. The UFO corresponds to the craft often described in sightings around the word as a diamond UFO. These craft are usually seen at great heights and almost never seen on earth itself. This has lead some to believe they are highly evolved technology well beyond your standard saucer and might be used to travel from other civilized planets rather merely used to explore planets like earth after exiting a more substantial mother ship.
The incident has received wide coverage by mainstream media in China, although it has received no publicity in the west as far as we know. Hardly surprising, as this is a credible and compelling incident of the type Western Governments would rather people not know about. The Chinese Government, however, is known to take a more open minded approach to UFOs and generally regards them as fact.
Related article and blog:
Millions see UFO crash in Saudi Arabia (19-1-2009) http://www.allnewsweb.com/page1901903.php
Astonishing events are occuring around the world and not as much as a word about them is being written or said in the West. In Saudi Arabia last week what might well have be a UFO, possibly crashing into earth, was witnessed by literally millions of people in the vicinity. Multiple photos of the object have come to light.Arabic language forums are abuzz with Saudi citizens claiming to have witnessed what is even being described by some in the normally conservative Saudi Arabian press as a possible UFO either crashing to earth or simply executing manoeuvres designed to scare humans. Others are claiming the object was an Asteroid or a Satellite. Witnesses are reported to be waiting for an explanation from local meteorological bureaus but have received no answers yet. ON Wednesday 7th of January after evening prayers a large noise was heard in sky followed by the sighting of an intense large light heading from the west above the Al-Qasim region east of Saudi Arabias capital city Riyadh. Many locals had seen meteors prior to this but claimed this one did not fit the typical description at all: it was a blue green colour and was shooting out green lasers. One witness Khalid commented No one has ever seen anything like it. Amazingly for an incident that hasnt even made the news in the West, the object was seen as far away as Kuwait. The complete absence of this story within western media is truly surprising as this was not your average incident involving a few people seeing strange things in the sky, the Saudi police received thousands of calls about the incident alone. It was reported that thousands of people were terrified and many even began to pray. Some have posted messages on the web warning that this might be a sign from God for the Kingdoms silence on Gaza. Locals in the region where the object appeared to be heading claim they heard an explosion and felt a large tremor indicating that the object crashed. The Saudi government has not released information regarding the crash site but is reported to have sealed the area.
YouTube Video Shows UFO sighting by Marines in Iraq (10 JANUARY 2008) http://www.ufo-blog.com/ufo-blog/2008/01/youtube-video-shows-ufo-sighting-by.html
On the 5th January, YouTube user, Brintonsdad (BD) uploaded a video clip of a squad of Marines on patrol in Iraq who capture on video something that at the present time are unable to explain. The information that was posted to accompany the video was as follows: On the night of January 2nd 2008 a group of Marines on patrol in Iraq have a close encounter of the first kind with...?
UFO sightings in Birmingham UK http://newsblaze.com/story/20090126170341ianb.nb/topstory.html
UFO sightings in Birmingham UK during the last few years - There have been a number of UFO sightings in the UK recently, in fact Britain is probably one of the most active areas for seeing UFOs on the planet just lately. Why is such a small country as Britain seeing so many UFOs? That is a good question, to which at present there is no answer.
Also forwarded by Kathy Roberts (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Obama administration first 100 days to promote antigravity technology
January 19, 2009 by Michael Salla, Ph.D., Honolulu Exopolitics
Examiner General James L. Jones, Jr., USMC (Ret.)The first 100 days of an Obama administration promise a number of bold initiatives aiming to reinvigorate the U.S. economy and restore America's international image. Key personnel in the Obama administration have been appointed to implement and ensure the success of such initiatives. Among these initiatives is the anticipated release of classified technologies based on antigravity propulsion principles that can revolutionize the energy and aerospace industries. Obama's National Security Advisor, retired Marine General James Jones, will feature prominently in the releases of antigravity technologies and associated initiatives.
Classified antigravity technologies have been kept from the public realm for over six decades while secretly developed by military- corporate entities. It was revealed in 1992, for example, that the B-2 Bomber used electrostatic charges on its leading wings and exhaust. According to aerospace experts, this was confirmation that the B-2 used electrogravitic principles based on the Biefeld-Brown Effect. The Biefeld-Brown Effect is based on the research of Thomas Townsend Brown who in 1928 gained a patent for his practical application of how high voltage electrostatic charges can reduce the weight of objects.
The B-2 bomber employs sufficiently high voltages to significantly reduce its weight. This enables the B-2 and other classified antigravity vehicles to display flight characteristics that appear to defy conventional laws of physics.
The key Obama appointee for introducing antigravity technology into the public sector is General Jones. After retiring from the Marines on February 1, 2007, General Jones served on the Board of Directors of the Boeing Corporation from June 21, 2007 t December 15, 2008. Boeing had been active at least since the early 1990's in studies to apply antigravity technology for commercial use.
In 2002, an internal Boeing project called "Gravity Research for Advanced Space Propulsion" (GRASP) had been disclosed to the aerospace industry. A GRASP briefing document obtained by Jane's Defense Weekly stated Boeing's position: "If gravity modification is real, it will alter the entire aerospace business."
According to a 2008 book by Dr Paul LaViolette, Secrets of Antigravity Technology, Boeing completed a separate classified study for the U.S. military of electrogravitic propulsion recently before October 2007. Boeing was rebuffed in its efforts to have such technology declassified and released into the public sector. As a Board Director and member of Boeing's Finance Committee at the time of the 2007 classified study, General Jones was privy to and supported Boeing's efforts in antigravity research and development.
At the same time that Boeing was actively seeking to develop antigravity technologies for a new generation of aircraft, Jones became President of the Institute for 21st Century Energy. The Institute was created by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce with the following mission:
To secure America's long-term energy security, America must reexamine outdated and entrenched positions, become better informed about the sources of our fuel and power, and make judgments based on facts, sound science, and good American common sense.
As Obama's National Security Advisor, General Jones will be well placed to ensure that "new energy ideas" become integrated into a comprehensive national security policy by the Obama administration. He can be expected to encourage the development and release of new energy ideas that can truly lead the U.S. into the 21st Century. The first 100 days of the Obama administration will therefore witness significant progress towards practical commercial applications of antigravity technologies.
SANTA BARBARA, Cal. Barack Obama recognizes the importance for U.S. and global security of achieving a world free of nuclear weapons. His election opens the door to U.S. leadership to achieve the goal of zero nuclear weapons.
He has promised: "I will make the goal of eliminating nuclear weapons worldwide a central element of U.S. nuclear policy." He has also stated, "A world without nuclear weapons is profoundly in America's interest and the world's interest. It is our responsibility to make the commitment, and to do the hard work to make this vision a reality. That's what I've done as a Senator and a candidate, and that's what I'll do as president."
All of us on our planet share in this responsibility. It is a responsibility to ourselves, to each other, and to future generations.
The United States created and used nuclear weapons during World War II. They are the most powerful weapons ever created. A single nuclear weapon can destroy a city, as we know from the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. With today's more powerful nuclear weapons, we can readily surmise that a few nuclear weapons could destroy a country, and a nuclear war could destroy civilization and threaten most life on the planet.
Nuclear weapons are now in the arsenals of nine countries: the United States, Russia, United Kingdom, France, China, India, Israel, Pakistan and North Korea.
Humanity's challenge is to control and eliminate these weapons globally. Nuclear weapons are illegal, immoral, impractical and costly. We must keep the goal of a world free of nuclear weapons clearly before us: zero nuclear weapons. Zero is both the safest and most stable number of nuclear weapons. But how do we move from a world with 26,000 nuclear weapons to global zero?
We need to let the new U.S. president know that Americans and people throughout the globe seek his leadership on this issue, reversing past U.S. policy that has relied upon nuclear weapons and threatened their first use. We must call upon President-elect Obama to make his intentions known to the world, taking the following five steps to forge a path to a world free of nuclear weapons.
First, make an unambiguous commitment on behalf of the United States to global zero and seek this commitment from all other nuclear weapons states. This is the simplest and most direct of the five steps and can be accomplished in a major foreign policy address.
Second, pledge that the U.S. government will de-emphasize the role of nuclear weapons in military policy by taking the weapons off high alert status and by committing to No First Use of nuclear weapons, and seeking this commitment from all other nuclear weapons states. This will demonstrate to the world that the U.S. commitment is more than mere rhetoric.
Third, negotiate with the Russians, as a matter of high priority, major reductions in nuclear arsenals. Reach an agreement to reduce our respective nuclear arsenals to under 1,000 nuclear weapons, deployed and in reserve, by the year 2010. This agreement will likely require the United States to abandon its plans for deployment of its unworkable and provocative missile defense system in Poland and the Czech Republic.
Fourth, launch a major global effort to assure control of all nuclear weapons and the fissile materials to construct new nuclear weapons.
This will be necessary for gaining confidence that a nuclear weapons-free world is attainable, particularly as the current nuclear weapons states move to lower and lower levels.
Fifth, use the convening power of the United States to bring together the nine nuclear weapons states to negotiate a new treaty, a Nuclear Weapons Convention similar to the Biological and Chemical Weapons Conventions, for the phased, verifiable, irreversible and transparent elimination of nuclear weapons. When the existing nuclear weapons states have reached agreement, the Nuclear Weapons Convention should be opened for signature and ratification of all the world's countries.
With strong U.S. leadership, the kind that Barack Obama has pledged, a nuclear weapons-free world could be achieved by the year 2020, and this should be the goal of those seeking a more secure world. It still would be far from a perfect world, but it would be a great triumph for humanity. It would pave the way to building a more peaceful and secure future for all inhabitants of earth.
David Krieger is President of the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation (http://www.wagingpeace.org) in Santa Barbara, California, and a councilor of the World Future Council. He is a leading expert on worldwide nuclear proliferation.
Pacific Perspectives Media Center, Beverly Hills, California
The World Future Council (WFC) considers itself the global advocate for the concerns of future generations in international politics. The council consists of 50 personalities from around the globe who have already successfully promoted change. Their activities range from advocating human rights and sustaining the planet to promoting political, scientific, cultural and economic justice. The WFCs mission is to inform and educate policy makers and opinion leaders about the challenges facing future generations while providing them with practical solutions. The WFC identifies and promotes successful policies that can be implemented into legislation and policy measures. To achieve this, the WFC draws on a network of thousands of parliamentarians, institutions and organizations around the globe.
By Topaz Amoore/The Telegraph Group Limited -- January 18, 2009
Cairo: Doctors operating the only brain-scanning machine at an Egyptian hospital near Gaza have been almost overwhelmed by the number of Palestinian children arriving with bullet wounds to the head.
On just one day last week, staff at the Al Arish hospital in Sinai were called to perform CAT scans on a nine year old, two 10 year olds and a 14 year old, each of whom had a bullet lodged in their brain after coming under fire during the Israeli ground assault on Gaza.
Israeli officials continued to deny on Saturday that their soldiers had deliberately targeted civilians, blaming Hamas fighters for sheltering in the houses of ordinary Gaza residents and using them as human shields.
But there is no disputing the scale of the suffering in Gaza or its heavy impact on the young.
Hundreds of victims of Israel's three-week campaign in Gaza have been transferred across the Egyptian border at Rafah for urgent treatment. They are seen first at Al Arish, nearly 40 miles from the border.
Among them last week was nine-year-old Anas Haref, who arrived with a bullet in her brain. Dr Ahmad Yahia, head of the trauma team, broke the news to her grandmother that the girl was not expected to live.
"The bullet has damaged a big part of her brain," said Dr Yahia. "It came in, hit the skull wall and then changed direction downwards."
Dr Yahia, a professor of neurosurgery, believes that the bullet was shot from close range. "If it changes course inside the brain it has high velocity and its penetrative force is also high," he said.
"I can't precisely decide whether these children are being shot at as a target, but in some cases the bullet comes from the front of the head and goes towards the back, so I think the gun has been directly pointed at the child."
Dr Ayman Abd Al Hadi, a medical team leader at the hospital, said: "We've had one child with two bullets in the head and nowhere else. We think this shows something."
He praised the medical teams in Gaza for managing to save so many lives despite a shortage of staff, supplies and equipment. "But only a very small percentage of children can survive bullet wounds to the head," he said.
"If we see three children here who have survived bullet wounds to the head, there are probably 97 still in Gaza who have not."
Doctors at the small but well equipped hospital do not attempt to remove the bullets, but perform a full assessment and attempt to stabilise their patients before sending them to hospitals in Cairo, and in some cases abroad, for more complex treatment.
Of those who survive, few will recover fully. Most child victims of such injuries are likely to be paralysed for life.
Other children have other horrific injuries - such as Samer, not yet three years old, who was shot in the back outside her home in Gaza, and had to wait three hours for medical help to reach her.
Her uncle, Hassan Abedrabo, said that Samer was hit by an Israeli bullet that damaged her spinal cord and left her paralysed. Her sisters, aged two and six, were shot dead in the same close-range attack as they tried to escape tanks bombarding their home in Jabaliya, north of Gaza City.
Their mother was hit twice but survived; Abedrabo said that their grandmother, waving a white flag at the front of the terrified family procession, lost an arm to another bullet.
Samer has now been transferred to a Belgian hospital but the Egyptian doctors who treated her in Al Arish believe she will never walk again.
Samer thinks she knows what happened to her.
"The Jewish shot me," she said in Arabic. "And they killed my little sister."
The outcry is muted, but the food crisis is getting worse
The financial debacle has drowned out coverage of food shortages. Where are the billion-dollar bailouts for the hungry?
Jayati Ghosh -- 9 January 2009
Just a few months ago, we were being told that this is a period of stark, unprecedented and unfolding food crisis, with looming shortages and huge global imbalances between demand and supply. Everyone who matters - from officials in international organisations to leaders of rich and poor countries - warned us of the terrible social, political and nutritional consequences of doing nothing, of the millions who would go hungry and the riots that would occur if the imbalances persisted or increased.
But now the whole problem has disappeared from the international radar, relegated to the inside pages of newspapers and perfunctory afterthoughts in politicians' speeches. So what happened? Was it not such a problem, after all?
No, the "silent tsunami" has simply been overwhelmed in public awareness by the much noisier tsunami in the world of international finance, with the giant sucking sounds of possible bank collapses and enormous bail-outs grabbing all the attention. Yet the global food crisis is far from over, and is even likely to intensify in the near future.
One reason why many analysts decided that the food crisis may not be so intense is the global decline in crop prices that began sometime in the middle of last year. For about two years before that, commodity prices, including both food and non-food crops, had been increasing, and in the first few months of 2008 they soared. But in early June last year the prices of both oil and food crops fell, so that they are now lower than they were even a year ago.
When food prices were rising, there was much talk of the shifts in demand that were causing this trend. President Bush joined those who decided that this reflected the increased demand from China and India as their per capita incomes grew. This was a ludicrous argument because food consumption has actually declined in both countries. Both economies have shown even sharper declines in per capita food intake despite the continued presence of widespread hunger, because of increased income inequalities within these countries. In any case, that argument about more food demand from China and India quickly collapsed along with the fall in global prices. Now it is more than evident that the wild swings that have been observed in food and several commodity markets over this year have been the result of speculative forces, rather than any real changes in global demand and supply.
But despite this volatility and the recent price decline, the food crisis remains. And it does indeed reflect patterns of demand and supply - but not the ones that have been talked about. The basic problem now is not even one of absolute shortage so much as the inability to pay for food, and this problem will get worse for many developing countries and their poorer citizens.
Three problems now dominate the global food scenario. First, there is a crisis of cultivation, especially in the developing world. This is the result of two decades of policy neglect: falling public investment in agricultural research, extension and support; aggressive trade liberalisation that exposed southern farmers to heavily subsidised marketing by northern agribusinesses; financial liberalisation that reduced cultivators' access to credit and made them prey to speculative forces that also affected prices. As a result, cultivation costs have increased even in years when crop prices are falling, and cultivation is becoming unviable in many countries.
Second, this has been associated with a depression in wages in developing countries, which means that mass purchasing power did not increase even when the economies were growing. So demand for food has not gone up, simply because the poor do not have the incomes to pay for it.
Third, there has been an increasing concentration of firms operating in global agriculture, with a few large agribusinesses coming to dominate both input and output markets. These companies are also the ones who benefit from government subsidies promoting ethanol, which divert land meant for food to the paradoxically more energy-intensive production of fuel for cars. This concentration is reflected in recent food-price trends: while world prices have fallen sharply in the past four months, retail prices of food in most developing countries have not fallen.
Unfortunately, each of these negative processes is likely to intensify. The financial crisis will reduce the ability of developing country governments to increase much-needed investment in agriculture or enlarge the distribution of affordable food. It will adversely affect wage incomes, reducing purchasing power further. And it will add to pressures for concentration in industry, including agribusiness.
In the middle of last year, we had a global outcry about the perilous state of billions of people in developing countries whose governments could not afford to provide enough food for them and who could not themselves earn enough to buy food at prevailing prices. These problems are now worse, but the global outcry is all about the multinational banks that are under threat. And several multiples of the money that could not be found to provide food for the hungry are quickly being delivered to bail out irresponsible finance.
- Jayati Ghosh is professor of economics at the Jawaharlal Nehru University in India email@example.com
Billions face food shortages, study warns ( 9 January 2009) http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2009/jan/09/food-climate-change
Half of the world's population could face severe food shortages by the end of the century as rising temperatures take their toll on farmers' crops, scientists have warned.Harvests of staple food crops such as rice and maize could fall by between 20% and 40% as a result of higher temperatures during the growing season in the tropics and subtropics. Warmer temperatures in the region are also expected to increase the risk of drought, cutting crop losses further, according to a new study.The worst of the food shortages are expected to hit the poor, densely inhabited regions of the equatorial belt, where demand for food is already soaring because of a rapid growth in population.A study in the US journal Science found there was a 90% chance that by the end of the century, the coolest temperatures in the tropics during the crop growing season would exceed the hottest temperatures recorded between 1900 and 2006.More temperate regions such as Europe could expect to see previous record temperatures become the norm by 2100."The stress on global food production from temperatures alone is going to be huge, and that doesn't take into account water supplies stressed by the higher temperatures," said David Battisti, at the University of Washington, who led the study. (...) In many countries, a combination of poor farming practices and deforestation, exacerbated by climate change, may steadily degrade soil fertility, leaving vast areas unsuitable for crops or grazing. In 2007, scientists warned that poor soil fertility meant a global food crisis was likely in the next half-century. CLIP
The Right To Food (Dec 24, 2008) http://crooksandliars.com/cernig/right-food
By a vote of 180 in favour to 1 against (United States) and no abstentions, the Committee also approved a resolution on the right to food, by which the Assembly would consider it intolerable that more than 6 million children still died every year from hunger-related illness before their fifth birthday, and that the number of undernourished people had grown to about 923 million worldwide, at the same time that the planet could produce enough food to feed 12 billion people, or twice the worlds present population. (See Annex III.) The Bush administration, speaking for the U.S.A., therefore must consider it tolerable that 6 million children die every year - children who could be fed if we weren't wasting billions on stealth fighters, littoral combat boondoggles and non-effective defense against non-existent ballistic missiles from Iran. CLIP
Iceland has no army, no navy and no air force - but it does have riot police.
On Tuesday night the black-uniformed troopers came out to quell the latest riots in Reykjavik, which erupted in front of parliament. The building was splattered with paint and yoghurt, the crowd yelled and banged pans, shot fireworks and flares at the windows and lit a fire in front of the main door.
Yesterday the protesters gathered again, hurling eggs at the car of Geir Haarde, the Prime Minister, and banging cans on its roof.
The transformation of the placid island into a community of seething anger - there have been half a dozen riots in recent weeks - is more than a regional oddity.
In Riga last week 10,000 protesters laid siege to the Latvian parliament; yesterday hundreds of Bulgarians rallied to demand that the Socialist-led Government should take action or step down, in a second week of demonstrations, and last month the police shooting of a 15-year-old Greek boy led to days of running battles in the streets of Athens and Salonika.
The protests went beyond the usual angry reflexes of societies braced for recession. The Greek riots heralded sympathetic actions across the world, from Moscow to Madrid, and in Berlin the Greek Consulate was briefly stormed. The Riga unrest spread rapidly to Lithuania. It is, some say, just the beginning: 2009 could become another 1968 - a new age of rebellion.
The LSE economist Robert Wade addressed about 1,000 Icelanders recently at a protest meeting in a Reykjavik cinema, warning that large-scale civil unrest was on the way. The tipping point, he said, would be this spring.
"It will be caused by the rise of general awareness throughout Europe, America and Asia that hundreds and millions of people in rich and poor countries are experiencing rapidly falling consumption standards; that the crisis is getting worse, not better, and that it has escaped the control of public authorities, national and international," he said.
The global liquidity emergency became a full-blown crash so quickly that there was no time to hold governments to account. Now leaders all over Europe have declared themselves to be the saviours of the economy and are nationalising assets, extending loans and guarantees to failing banks and manufacturers. But the price is high: unemployment is starting to soar and cuts in public spending are hurting hospitals, schools and universities. Personal bankruptcies are at record levels.
Every segment of society has been hit, but it is the young who feel the pain most - and just as in 1968, it is they who are leading the rebellion.
The Greek disturbances, the worst since 1974, were triggered by the killing of the teenager, but the anger was stoked by a sense that the young were going to have to pick up the bill for the miscalculations of the political class. Unemployment among Greeks aged 15 to 24 has reached 21.2 per cent; for 25 to 34-year-olds it is 10.5 per cent. The good years have come to an end suddenly.
The boom in Iceland led to the few narrow streets of the capital becoming jammed with expensive 4x4s. Latvia had double-digit growth for years; now GDP is set to contract 5 per cent in the coming year and Latvian youths are beginning to rail against mismanagement and corruption.
In the EU, migration was always a way out of a tight domestic labour market. No more: the sheer magnitude of the recession means there is no easy escape. There are reports of anti-immigrant trouble brewing in Spain. Usually at this time of year migrant workers, most of them from Morocco, pile into the country to pick strawberries. This year the Spaniards are making it clear that they are unhappy about migrants taking jobs.
Each flare-up touches on a separate aspect of the crisis. In Greece it was partly about the failure of the education system (as in 1968). In Vilnius it was over high taxes. In Iceland it is about massive debt. In Russia unrest in Yekaterinburg and Vladivostok was about dearer car import duties.
But there are common threads. Across Europe, protesters demand a change of government. Politicians in wealthier countries can try to prop up banks and industries, but it does not work in heavily indebted nations with bloated and exposed financial sectors.
And there is a shared shock that the good times have gone. "The explosion conceals a compressed desperation," the Greek psychology professor Fotini Tsalikoglou said of last month's outburst in Athens. "Many young people live with the unbearable knowledge that there is no future."
RAFAH - Traffic on Sea Street, a major thoroughfare alongside Gaza's coastline, includes horses, donkeys pulling carts, cyclists, pedestrians, trucks and cars, mostly older models. Overhead, in stark contrast to the street below, Israel's ultra modern unmanned surveillance planes criss-cross the skies. F16s and helicopters can also be heard. Remnants of their deliveries, the casings of missiles, bombs and shells used during the past three weeks of Israeli attacks, are scattered on the ground.
Workers have cleared most of the roads. Now, they are removing massive piles of wreckage and debris, much as people do following an earthquake.
"Yet, all the world helps after an earthquake," said a doctor at the Shifaa hospital in Gaza. "We feel very frustrated," he continued. "The West, Europe and the U.S., watched this killing go on for 22 days, as though they were watching a movie, watching the killing of women and children without doing anything to stop it. I was expecting to die at any moment. I held my babies and expected to die. There was no safe place in Gaza."
He and his colleagues are visibly exhausted, following weeks of work in the Intensive Care and Emergency Room departments at a hospital that received many more patients than they could help. "Patients died on the floor of the operating room because we had only six operating rooms," said Dr. Saeed Abuhassan, M.D, an ICU doctor who grew up in Chicago. "And really we don't know enough about the kinds of weapons that have been used against Gaza."
In 15 years of practice, Dr. Abuhassan says he never saw burns like those he saw here. The burns, blackish in color, reached deep into the muscles and bones. Even after treatment was begun, the blackish color returned.
Two of the patients were sent to Egypt because they were in such critical condition. They died in Egypt. But when autopsies were done, reports showed that the cause of death was poisoning from elements of white phosphorous that had entered their systems, causing cardiac arrests.
In Gaza City, The Burn Unit's harried director, a plastic surgeon and an expert in treating burns, told us that after encountering cases they'd never seen before, doctors at the center performed a biopsy on a patient they believed may have suffered chemical burns and sent the sample to a lab in Egypt. The results showed elements of white phosphorous in the tissue.
The doctor was interrupted by a phone call from a farmer who wanted to know whether it was safe to eat the oranges he was collecting from groves that had been uprooted and bombed during the Israeli invasion. The caller said the oranges had an offensive odor and that when the workers picked them up their hands became itchy.
Audrey Stewart had just spent the morning with Gazan farmers in Tufaa, a village near the border between Gaza and Israel. Israeli soldiers had first evacuated people, then dynamited the houses, then used bulldozers to clear the land, uprooting the orange tree groves. Many people, including children, were picking through the rubble, salvaging belongings and trying to collect oranges. At one point, people began shouting at Audrey, warning her that she was standing next to an unexploded rocket.
The doctor put his head in his hands, after listening to Audrey's report. "I told them to wash everything very carefully. But these are new situations. Really, I don't know how to respond," he said.
Yet he spoke passionately about what he knew regarding families that had been burned or crushed to death when their homes were bombed. "Were their babies a danger to anyone?" he asked us.
"They are lying to us about democracy and Western values," he continued, his voice shaking. "If we were sheep and goats, they would be more willing to help us."
Dr. Saeed Abuhassan was bidding farewell to the doctors he'd worked with in Gaza. He was returning to his work in the United Arab Emirates. But before leaving, he paused to give us a word of advice. "You know, the most important thing you can tell people in your country is that U.S. people paid for many of the weapons used to kill people in Gaza," said Dr. Saeed Abuhassan. "And this, also, is why it's worse than an earthquake."
Kathy Kelly (mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org">email@example.com) is a co-coordinator of Voices for Creative Nonviolence (www.vcnv.org) She and Audrey Stewart have been in Gaza for the past six days.
Outcry Erupts Over Reports That Israel Used Phosphorus Arms on Gazans (January 22, 2009) http://www.nytimes.com/2009/01/22/world/middleeast/22phosphorus.html
(...) The Israeli military issued a short statement on Wednesday, saying it was investigating whether its use of phosphorous weapons was improper and reiterating that it was obligated to international law in the matter. Early in the war, Israeli officials would not confirm whether the military was using white phosphorus at all, but said only that it was using weapons in legal ways. Meanwhile, Amnesty International said it found indisputable evidence of widespread use of white phosphorus in densely populated residential areas in Gaza City and in the north. In a statement, it said its investigators saw streets and alleyways littered with evidence of the use of white phosphorus, including still-burning wedges and the remnants of the shells and canisters fired by the Israeli Army. It called such use a likely war crime and demanded a full international investigation. CLIP
Israel Hits UN School in Beit Lahiya (January 19, 2009) "Prima Facie Evidence of War Crimes" by Israel! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KmT0MjlPpRo
Excellent report by Jonathan Millar reporting from Gaza and the UN School in Beit Lahiya where Phosphorus bombs and artillery struck, killing two children and injuring many more people.
Our Myopic View of Gaza Conflict and Jewish Dissenters Speak out Over Gaza
Haroon Siddiqui, The Toronto Star, 8 January 2009
I was holidaying in India when the Israeli onslaught on Gaza began Dec. 27.
There were banner headlines coupled with editorial outrage in the Urdu media, the language of Muslims, and dispassionate but balanced coverage in the English media and the regional language newspapers. Across the Arab Middle East, Al-Jazeera and others were providing one-sided, wall-to-wall coverage of death and destruction in Gaza.
Travelling through Europe, one could appreciate the powerful reporting and commentary, which conveyed the scale of the tragedy, without crossing the line into propaganda for either side.
It didn't take long upon landing here to be reminded how much the political and media establishment in the U.S. and, lately, Canada as well are divorced from reality.
The Stephen Harper Conservatives, as well as many editorialists and pundits, seem to inhabit a make-believe world into which no inconvenient facts are allowed to intrude.
Their mantra is that Israel has a right to defend itself, has to protect its citizens from Hamas rockets, and had to retaliate for the breaking of the ceasefire by Hamas Dec. 19.
True. But deprived of other truths, this performs the desired magic of absolving Israel of any culpability.
According to this view, hundreds of Palestinian civilians, including women and children and seniors, being bombed and shelled to death in schools even clearly marked United Nations schools mosques, refugee camps, streets and homes are acceptable collateral damage.
Few tears need be shed, especially since Hamas is to blame, anyway.
There's amnesia about the brutal 40-year-old occupation.
There's nary a mention that in Israeli military operations in 2008, 420 Palestinians had been killed prior to Dec. 28 vs. five Israelis, according to B'Tselem, the Israeli human rights body,
And Israel's crippling economic blockade had prompted the UN special rapporteur Richard Falk to say on Dec. 9 that Israel's collective punishments amounted to "a crime against humanity," and that the International Criminal Court ought to investigate whether Israeli leaders and military commanders should be indicted.
He noted that the last time there had been "such a flurry of denunciations by normally cautious UN officials" was during the reign of the apartheid government in South Africa.
On Nov. 21, the chief of UN Relief and Works Agency, Karen Abu Zayd, said supplies had run out. She reported "a chronic anemia problem" and "the stunting of children."
All this was long before the latest carnage, which foreign journalists have been prevented from witnessing. Dead, as of yesterday, were 650 Gazans, a fifth of them civilians.
What our political and media establishment are telling us is this:
Israel must not be provoked but the Palestinians can be.
The trauma suffered by Israelis in the border area along Gaza is not acceptable. But 60 per cent of 1.5 million Gazans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder is.
Israeli politicians, facing an election Feb. 10, have to be sensitive to electoral concerns, but Palestinians elected in a fair election Jan. 2006 must be isolated and jailed.
There's an equivalency between Hamas's handmade, ill-targeted rockets and the lethal hi-tech Israeli arsenal, some of it of American origin.
Palestinians must pay heed to Israeli/American/Canadian demands but Israel may ignore calls for a ceasefire by the UN, the European Union and even allies France, Turkey, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, etc.
Israeli lives matter, Arab ones don't. In fact, it is worth prolonging the bloodshed in Gaza, as in Lebanon in 2006, to allow Israel time to achieve one or two more of its objectives. Arab blood is cheap.
"Unfortunately, all this plays into the hands of those Palestinians and Arabs, and more generally, Muslims, who say, `the West is against us because of who we are and is engaged in a civilizational war against us,'" says Jim Reilly, professor of Near Eastern Studies at the University of Toronto.
"If we include Iraq and Afghanistan, it reinforces the message of Al Qaeda and co-thinkers that they are waging war against a predatory and rapacious enemy.
"All this makes it that much harder for us to argue back against the militants and the zealots."
Political Correctness forwarded by a reader to Keghart.com
Rule #1: In the Middle East, it is always the Palestinians that attack first, and it's always Israel who defends itself. This is called "retaliation" .
Rule #2: The Palestinians are not allowed to kill Israelis. This is called "terrorism".
Rule #3: Israel has the right to kill Palestinian civilians; this is called "self-defense" , or "collateral damage".
Rule #4: When Israel kills too many Palestinian civilians, the Western world calls for restraint. This is called the "reaction of the international community".
Rule #5: Palestinians do not have the right to capture Israeli military, not even 1 or 2.
Rule #6: Israel has the right to capture as many Palestinians as it wants (around 10,000 to date being held without trial). There is no limit; there is no need for proof of guilt or trial. All that is needed is the magic word: "terrorism".
Rule #7: When you say "Hamas", always be sure to add "supported by Hezbo-Allah , Syria and Iran ".
Rule #8: When you say "Israel", never say "supported by the USA , the UK, European countries and even some Arab regimes", for people (God forbid) might believe this is not an equal conflict.
Rule #9: When it comes to Israel , don't mention the words "occupied territories" , "UN resolutions" , " Geneva conventions" . This could distress the audience of Fox, CNN, etc.
Rule #10: Israelis speak better English than Arabs. This is why we let them speak out as much as possible, so that they can explain rules 1 through 9. This is called "neutral journalism".
Rule #11: If you don't agree with these rules or if you favor the Palestinian side over the Israeli side, you must be a very dangerous anti-Semite. You may even have to make a public apology if you express your honest opinion.
by David Korten (Winter issue of Yes Magazine - highly recommended!)
The financial crisis has put to rest the myths that our economic institutions are sound and markets work best when deregulated. Our economic institutions have failed, not only financially, but also socially and environmentally. This, combined with the election of a new president with a mandate for change, creates an opportune moment to rethink and redesign.
President-elect Obama has promised to grow the economy from the bottom up. That would be a substantial improvement over growing the top at the expense of the bottom. The real need, however, is a bottom-up transformation of our economic values and institutions to align with the imperatives and opportunities of the 21st century. It involves a five part agenda: clean up Wall Street, play by market rules, self-finance the real economy, measure what we really want, and convert to debt-free money.
The recent market meltdown and the resulting bailout commitments of more than a trillion dollars have focused the nations attention on the devastating consequences of Wall Street deregulation. This is but the tip of the iceberg of a failed economy in serious need of basic redesign.
Our economy is wildly out of balance with human needs and the natural environment. The result is disaster for both. Wages are falling in the face of soaring food and energy prices. Consumer debt and housing foreclosures are setting historic records. The middle class is shrinking. The unconscionable and growing worldwide gap between rich and poor with its related social alienation is producing social collapse, which in turn produces crime, terrorism, and genocide.
At the same time, excessive consumption is pushing Earths ecosystem into collapse. Scientists are in almost universal agreement that human activity bears substantial responsibility for climate change and the related increase in droughts, floods, and wildfires.
We face a monumental economic challenge that goes far beyond anything being discussed in the U.S. Congress. The hardships imposed by temporarily frozen credit markets pale by comparison.
This would be a good time to start evaluating economic performance against indicators of what we really wanthealthy children, families, communities, and natural systems.
The Wall Street bailout package that Congress passed in its moment of panic did nothing to address the structural cause of the credit freeze, let alone the structural cause of the economys even more serious environmental and social failures. On the positive side, the financial crisis has put to rest the myths that our economic institutions are sound and that markets work best when deregulated. It creates an opportune moment for deep change.
Here are some essential steps toward a system redesign that can put us on the path to a just and sustainable economy that works for all.
CLEAN UP WALL STREET
The first item of business is to get the immediate crisis under control. Wall Street institutions have long claimed their trading activities create wealth, provide the funds that keep business moving, increase economic efficiency, and stabilize markets. The financial meltdown pulled away the curtain to reveal a corrupt system that runs on speculation, the stripping of corporate assets, predatory lending, and asset bubbles like the real estate and dot-com booms.
If the people involved produce anything of value, it is purely incidental to their primary quest for speculative gains, which placed the entire global economy at risk and led to extortionate demands for taxpayer bailouts when their bets went bad. For these labors, the 50 highest-paid private investment fund managers in 2007 averaged $588 million in compensation19,000 times as much as average worker pay.
We must hold Wall Street accountable, recover some of our losses from those responsible, and preclude a repetition of the credit collapse. The recommendations of the Institute for Policy Studies (IPS), a Washington, D.C., think tank, are a good place to start. In A Sensible Plan for Recovery, IPS calls on Congress to make Wall Street pay for both the bailout and a true economic stimulus package. The plan recommends a securities transactions tax, a minimum corporate income tax, recovery of bonuses paid to Wall Street CEOs responsible for the crisis, an end to corporate tax havens, and an end to tax loopholes for CEO pay. IPS also calls for extensive federal regulation to limit speculation and assert real oversight over financial markets.
Implementing these recommendations will be an excellent start on limiting speculation, restoring a progressive tax system to achieve a more equitable distribution of economic power, and putting the more predatory Wall Street firms out of business.
Additional steps will be needed to break up concentrations of corporate power, beginning with Wall Street, and to hold the remaining banks accountable to the public interest. Treasury Secretary Henry Paulsons decision to buy a government equity stake in troubled banks is a positive step that may open the way to a deeper restructuring of the financial system.
The federal government should immediately reinstate the provisions of the Glass-Steagall Act prohibiting the merger of commercial and investment banks, and force the breakup of financial conglomerates and any other Wall Street institutions that are too big to fail. As Senator Bernie Sanders has observed, If a company is too big to fail, it is too big to exist.
PLAY BY MARKET RULES
Once we extinguish the immediate fire, we can turn our attention to redesigning the potentially beneficial institutions of finance to align with the imperatives of sustainability and equity. Ironically, given the excesses committed by Wall Street in the name of market freedom, the economy we need to create looks remarkably like the market economy vision of Adam Smith, revered by many as the father of capitalism.
Smith envisioned a world of local market economies populated by small entrepreneurs, artisans, and family farmers with strong community roots engaged in producing and exchanging goods and services to meet the needs of themselves and their neighbors. His vision bears little resemblance to the Wall Street economy of footloose global capital, credit default swaps, reckless speculation, and global corporate empires.
As I elaborated in When Corporations Rule the World and The Post-Corporate World: Life After Capitalism, socially efficient market allocation depends on a number of important conditions that Wall Street and those economists devoted to the ideology of neoliberal market fundamentalism routinely ignore. These include:
- Market prices must internalize full social and environmental costs.
- Trade between nations must be in balance.
- Investment must be local.
- No player can be big enough to directly influence market price.
- Economic power must be equitably distributed.
- Every player must have complete information and there can be no trade secrets (read: no government-enforced intellectual property rights).
To avoid the distortion of unfair competitive practices, markets must be regulated to assure that these essential conditions are maintained. Think of them as basic principles for securing the healthy, just, and sustainable function of Main Street economies.
SELF-FINANCE THE REAL ECONOMY
Far from serving the financial needs of Main Street, Wall Street treats Main Street like a colony to be managed for the benefit of its colonial master. In alliance with the Federal Reserve, Wall Street players have used a combination of control over the money supply, predatory lending practices, and lobbying and campaign contributions to suppress wages, dismantle social safety nets, and capture the value of productivity gains for themselves. The top 1 percent of U.S. income earners increased their share of national cash income from 9 percent to 19 percent between 1980 and 2005, according to Charles R. Morris in The Trillion Dollar Meltdown. Income for 90 percent of households fell relative to inflation, household savings rates dropped to less than 1 percent, and household debt soared as Main Street workers struggled to hold their lives together.
Creating a fair distribution of wealth by restoring progressive tax rates, increasing the minimum wage, containing health care costs, and regulating mortgage and credit card interest rates is an essential element of a post-bailout economic agenda. This will help those at the bottom, restore household savings and purchasing power, and, combined with the debt-free money system proposed below, eliminate Main Street dependence on Wall Street financing. The financial services needs of Main Street economies are best served by a federally regulated network of independent, locally owned community banks that fulfill the classic textbook banking function of acting as intermediaries between local people looking for a secure place for their savings and local people who need loans to buy a home or finance a business. Evidence that people with savings are moving their accounts from the giant banks with questionable balance sheets to smaller local banks is a positive step.
Wall Street interests have also rigged the economic game to give a competitive advantage to mega-corporations over the local independent businesses that are the heart and soul of Main Street economies. The New Rules Project of the Institute for Local Self Reliance provides a wealth of recommendations for restoring a proper balance in favor of Main Street that also merits serious consideration.
MEASURE WHAT WE REALLY WANT
The only legitimate function of an economic system is to serve life. At present, however, we assess economic performance solely against financial indicatorsgross domestic product (GDP) and stock priceswhile disregarding social and environmental consequences. We are now paying the price for years of managing the economy for financial performance, which translates into making money for people who have moneythat is, making rich people richer. It was not a wise choice. We now bear the devastating costs of this foolishness in the form of massive social and environmental damage and financial instability.
This would be a good time to start evaluating economic performance against indicators of what we really wanthealthy children, families, communities, and natural systems. This would place life values ahead of money values and dramatically reframe the public policy side of our economic decision-making. Happiness, by the way, is an important indicator of physical and psychological health.
We might well continue to track GDP, a measure of economic throughput, as a quite useful indicator of the economic cost of producing a given level of health and well-being. When we recognize that GDP represents cost, not gain, it becomes clear why making it grow is a mistake. A number of researchers have been pointing out that happiness, as well as other indicators of human, social, and environmental health, have been declining even as GDP increased, but their appeals have been largely ignored. We continue to manage our economies to maximize the cost, rather than the benefit, of economic activity. The shock of financial collapse creates an opportunity to draw attention to this substantial anomaly. We will know we have turned an important corner when business news reporters happily announce, It has been a successful quarter. Happiness rose by two points and GDP is down by one point.
CONVERT TO DEBT-FREE MONEY
This brings us to the most important reform of all: changing the way we create money. One key to Wall Streets power and to the inherent instability of the financial system is the current practice of private banks creating money with a simple bookkeeping entry each time they make a loan. Because the bookkeeping entry creates only the principal, but not the interest, unless the economy grows fast enough to generate sufficient demand for loans to create the new money required to make the interest payments on the previous loans, debts go into default and the financial system and the economy collapse. The demand for repayment with interest of nearly every dollar in circulation virtually assures the economy will fail unless GDP and inequality are constantly growing.
Leading economists and political figures, including Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin, have advocated replacing the system of bank-created debt-money with an alternative system in which the government creates debt-free money by spending it into existence to fund public goods like infrastructure or education. The suggestion that government create money with the stroke of a pen sets off all sorts of alarm bells about runaway inflation. The primary change, however, would simply be that the entry is made by government for a public good rather than by a private bank for private profit. Ellen Hodgson Browns The Web of Debt is an informative current review of issues and options.
Privately issued debt-money adds to debt and taxes and bears major responsibility for environmental destruction because it requires infinite growth, extreme inequality because it assures an upward flow of wealth from Main Street to Wall Street, and economic instability because issuing loans to fuel reckless speculation generates handsome short-term bank profits. Publicly issued debt-free money would greatly reduce debt, taxes, and environmental harm, be more equitable, and increase financial stability. In a democracy, it should be ours to choose.
This is an opportune moment to move forward an agenda to replace the failed money-serving institutions of our present economy with the institutions of a new economy dedicated to serving life. The idea that we humans might put life ahead of money may seem unrealistic and contrary to our human nature. Surely, that is what our prevailing cultural story would have us believe. That story, however, has no more validity than the story that Wall Street speculation serves a higher public purpose. As I noted in my article We are Hard-Wired to Care and Connect in the Fall 2008 issue of YES!, scientists have found that the human brain is hard-wired for compassion and connection.
My many years living abroad in Africa, Latin America, and Asia taught me that people of every race, religion, and nationality the world over share a dream of a world of happy, healthy children, families, and communities living in vibrant, healthy, natural environments. When they see an opportunity, people are willing to make extraordinary investments of their life energy in an effort to actualize this dream, as regularly documented in the pages of YES! Liberated from the predatory grip of Wall Street, this long-suppressed energy has the potential to transform our relationships with one another and Earth, and to realize our shared dream of a world that works for all.
David Korten wrote this article as part of Sustainable Happiness, the Winter 2009 issue of YES! Magazine. David is author of the international bestseller When Corporations Rule the World and The Great Turning: From Empire to Earth Community. He is co-founder and board chair of YES! Magazine, and a board member of the Business Alliance for Local Living Economies. http://www.davidkorten.org
The Speech President Obama Should Deliver But Won't - by David Korten http://www.yesmagazine.org/article.asp?id=3186
(...) This speech presents the missing optionthe program that a U.S. president must one day be able to announce and implement if there is to be any hope for our economic, social, and environmental future. CLIP
Path to a New Economy (VERY COMPREHENSIVE!) http://www.yesmagazine.org/default.asp?ID=257
Any economic rescue program must result in systemic change that doesnt replicate the current mistakes. These YES! articles point the way to the kind of economy that will truly serve people and communities.
Document of Fed's Plans to Secretly Manipulate Currency & Gold Markets (Jan 20, 2009) http://www.marketoracle.co.uk/Article8361.html
Questions Begging Answers - To say that markets have been behaving "strangely" recently is an understatement. In recent weeks and months we've been witness to historic lows in sovereign interest rates in-the-face-of record amounts of debt being issued by governments? We've seen the price of gold behave counter intuitively by "not rising" in-the-face-of unprecedented systemic global economic malaise? Last, but not least, we've witnessed a "complete flip-flop" in the traditional pricing of Brent Crude Oil [IPE-London] versus West Texas Intermediate [NYMEX-N.Y.]? So we have the price of gold, the price of crude oil and interest rates - three items vital to the integrity of the U.S. Dollar - ALL trading in total disregard for their underlying fundamentals? The following is a thought provoking analysis with commentary: The Situation In Gold -- First and foremost it is imperative that everyone realize and understand that Gold "is" Money. We know that gold is money because every Central Bank in the world carries gold on their balance sheets as 'an official reserve asset'. With that in mind, folks would do well to read one of James Turk's latest articles titled, The Fed's blueprint for market intervention. In this article, Turk offers commentary on a recently unearthed 1961 document from the archives of the late, long-time former Chairman of the Federal Reserve, William McChesney Martin Jr. which details in the Fed's own pen; their plans to intervene surreptitiously in the currency and gold markets to support the dollar and to conceal, obscure, and falsify U.S. government records so that the intervention would not be discovered. (..._) Fell's admission coupled with the recently unearthed account of the Fed's game plan shows that gold "is" and always has been feared as competition for the U.S. Dollar and a game plan has long been in place to thwart it. This explains why economic data has been falsified and the price of gold has been surrepticiously managed and interfered with by the United States Treasury and the Federal Reserve. The mounting evidence is this regard is so compelling that from this point forward any 'economist' attempting to explain our current situation without prefacing their explanation with an EXPLICIT ACKNOWLEDGEMENT that our capital markets are not free and are in fact RIGGED by officialdom - their analysis is not worth the time to read it. In this regard, perhaps never have more prescient words been uttered than GATA's Chris Powell in Washington in April, 2008 - when he opined, There are no markets anymore, just interventions. (...) Thanks to the unearthing of the Fed's Playbook Document, referenced above, along with cumulative knowledge of the existence of the President's Working Group On Financial Markets [aka the Plunge Protection Team]; we know that interference in strategic markets with national security implications is now practiced commonly by the Government and the Fed working together. No other explanation for this distortion is plausible other than NYMEX regulators like the Commodities Futures Trading Corp. [CFTC - Plunge Protection Team members] are more brazen and actively complicit in market rigging of strategic commodities than their London counterparts. This manipulation is all being done in desperation; to preserve U.S. Dollar hegemony by perpetuating the illusion that inflation is being held at bay. Ample anecdotal evidence exists in a host of articles - particularly relating to derelict CFTC oversight of COMEX gold and silver futures - archived at kirbyanalytics.com to support this position. CLIP
Oil market manipulation alleged (January 10, 2009) http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2009/01/10/BUIC156VSD.DTL
Accusations that a big oil company is trying to manipulate California's gasoline market are swirling around a Bakersfield refinery whose owner filed for bankruptcy late last month. Flying J, owner of the Big West refinery, filed for Chapter 11 protection on Dec. 22 and reported that it was closing the plant for maintenance. But a memo written Thursday by a union official at the plant said "the refinery is out of Crude oil" and blamed Shell Oil for closing a pipeline that brings crude into the plant, effectively starving it of raw material. Shell used to own the refinery and threatened to close it in 2004, saying it wasn't profitable. California politicians, however, suspected Shell was trying to reduce the state's gasoline supplies to drive up the price, and they pressured Shell to sell the plant instead. Those suspicions resurfaced Friday, with Sen. Barbara Boxer asking California Attorney General Jerry Brown to investigate the union memo's accusations. "The Big West Refinery supplies our state with 2 percent of its gasoline and 6 percent of its diesel fuel, and in these tough economic times, Californians can't afford high gas prices stemming from refinery closures," Boxer, D-Calif., wrote in a letter to Brown, who said he would "take a hard look at the situation." With the refinery closed, Shell has had to scramble to find other sources of gasoline for Shell gas stations in the Bakersfield area.
Lost colonies: The large-scale disappearance of the humble honeybee threatens agriculture worldwide
By John Murawski - Jan. 18, 2009
At first sight, the fallout scene seems all too familiar. The victims stagger about in a daze, while others stare blankly in apathy, ready to die. Then the visitor is struck by an unsettling fact: Most of the population has simply vanished, as if the residents fled in panic. The site is well stocked with food and shows no signs of physical damage. Something has gone terribly wrong here, yet the once-bustling metropolis offers few clues to explain its collapse.
It might be a scene from a Star Trek episode, or a journal entry by an anthropologist describing some lost colony. But this mystery is much closer to home. The victims are honeybees, dying off en masse from an uncertain cause. Something like a quarter of America's honeybee colonies has perished in the past two years, threatening the world's multibillion dollar agricultural industry, which depends on bees to pollinate flowers and set fruit and vegetables. Some crops -- like almonds, watermelons and blueberries -- are dependent on honeybees. The mortality syndrome is a worldwide concern, destroying domesticated honeybees and threatening wild bees as well.
The victims and villains of this unfolding drama have been documented in several books already, among them Rowan Jacobsen's "Fruitless Fall: The Collapse of the Honeybee and the Coming Agricultural Crisis." Jacobsen is a food and environmental writer who takes up the plight of the honeybee by merging science with suspense to serve up an epidemiologic detective story.
MCT - Honeybees are dying off en masse from an uncertain cause.
Bees are nature's sexual go-betweens, spreading pollen from male flowers to impregnate the females and cause their ovaries to swell into fruit pods. Wind does the work for some plants -- scattering the love dust of grasses and pine trees -- but more evolutionarily advanced species are locked into an a complex interdependence with pollinator insects. Most wild insects will work a few types of flowers, but the honeybee is indiscriminate, a universal pollinating machine.
The bees aren't facing a single enemy. They are besieged by chemicals, pathogens and habitat destruction. The consequences of a bee-less world are already here, Jacobsen shows. Day laborers in Sichuan, China, are forced to hand-pollinate pear tree blossoms because the bees have been exterminated by insecticide. Vanilla farmers in Mexico must pollinate their vanilla orchid with the aid of a toothpick because the non-stinging local bees have been wiped out by deforestation. The passion fruit industry of Brazil today relies on humans to spread pollen by hand from passion flower to passion flower because the native carpenter bee buzzes no more.
Honeybees aren't accidental guests wafting with the breezes. The hives are trucked and flown all over this country and Europe, following the agricultural bloom cycle, not unlike the seasonal circuit of migrant farm workers. Beekeeping is a big business, and millions of these industrious creatures are leased out to farmers to perform their aerial mission to enable plants to reproduce.
Several years ago honeybees here and in Europe began showing disturbing signs. A beekeeper would open his hive and find plenty of honey, but the bees crawled about aimlessly, as if stunned and confused. Most of the bees were just gone. It's assumed their internal GPS systems went haywire and they never found their way home.
Afflicted bees exhibit dementia-like symptoms that suggest winged patients with advanced cases of Alzheimer's and Parkinson's disease. When analyzed in an incubator, the sick honeybees sprouted fungus from their mouths and anuses. Scientists discovered the bees were infested with disease, and -- giving rise to the AIDS analogy -- they lacked immune systems. The list of suspected causes has included viruses and pesticides, parasites and miticides, fungi and fungicides, but the experts haven't been able to pinpoint a single source.
Jacobsen blames the bee kill on a combination of factors, not a single one of which is potent enough to bring down the honeybee but together combine into a lethal cocktail. Jacobsen says the gentle bees are overworked, overbred and overfed with supplements. They suffer from the consummate modern malady: stress.
"Trucked to new sites every few weeks, jacked up on high-fructose corn syrup, dosed with pesticides and antibiotics, invaded by parasites, and exposed to exotic pathogens, they are worn thinner and thinner," he writes. The disorder "is a symptom of a larger disease -- a disease of fossil fuels and chemical shortcuts, of billion-bee slums and the speed of the modern world."
The name for the great bee epidemic could well serve as a title for a Richard Preston thriller: "colony collapse disorder." As the alarming mortality rate of the unpretentious little insect has spread across the globe, the reaction has been swift: Just this year this country has held congressional hearings, launched a $4.1 million government-sponsored study, and rolled out a federal crop insurance program for beekeepers.
Burt's Bees, the natural care products company founded by a beekeeper and now based in Durham, started marketing Colony Collapse Disorder Beeswax Lip Balm and donates 5 percent of the proceeds to the cause. Testifying before Congress in June, company CEO John Replogle warned: "By helping to save the bees, we save a lot more than the bees."
But the good news is that the docile honeybee isn't headed for extinction, Jacobsen concludes. We are in the down phase of one of nature's periodic cycles of creation and destruction. When the purge passes, a stronger honeybee will emerge able to resist mankind's microscopic malefactors. Such bees do exist already, but they are unsuitable for domestication. However, they give hope that the honeybee will endure. One analog for a healthier, stronger pollinator might be found in the honeybee's resilient but aggressive cousin -- the Africanized killer bee -- which produces superb honey, but when annoyed shows no mercy to its victims.
John Murawski is an N&O business writer who depends on pollinators for many of the 50-plus fruit trees growing in his home orchard.
firstname.lastname@example.org or 919-829-8932
Bee decline continues, frustrates researchers
It's been two years since Dennis vanEngelsdorp began searching for the reason why bees nationwide are dying -- and after two years of 60-hour weeks, he's frustrated to say he still doesn't have an answer.Penn State researchers are leading the investigation into why bee populations are declining around the United States, but have yet to come to a definitive conclusion, according to an article published October in Research|Penn State, an annual magazine."One frustrating thing is we don't have a clear-cut answer yet," said vanEngelsdorp, the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture state apiarist, or beekeeper. Over the past two years, beekeepers have lost two-thirds of the bee population nationwide, said Maryann Frazier, senior extension associate in the department of entomology. Frazier said reports of Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) -- where adult bees abandon their colonies -- first surfaced in November 2006, although researchers believe hives have been experiencing losses since 2004. (...) Honeybees generate more than $14 billion of economic revenue every year through their pollination of more than 100 fruits and vegetables in the United States, according to the Research|Penn State article. Some are now worried that this resource is in danger and beekeepers will continue to lose their source of income."Beekeepers could go bankrupt," vanEnglesdorp said. It's not the first time beekeepers have seen their stocks decrease. Since 1987, before the discovery of CCD, the parasite varroa mite has threatened the survival of many colonies by weakening bees' immune systems. However, CCD presents a greater threat to bees nationwide than any danger before, wiping out hives at an unprecedented scale, according to the article.
Death of the Bees - GMO Crops and the Decline of Bee Colonies in North America (25 March 2008) http://www.mindfully.org/GE/2008/Bee-Death-GMOs25mar08.htm
This essay will discuss the arguments and seriousness that affects the massive deaths and the decline of Bee colonies in North America. As well, it will shed light on a worldwide hunger issue that will have an economical and ecological impact in the very near future.There are many reasons given to the decline in Bees, but one argument that matters most is the use of Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO) and "Terminator Seeds" that are presently being endorsed by governments and forcefully utilized as our primary agricultural needs of survival. I will argue what is publicized and covered by the media is in actuality masking the real forces at work, namely the impact of genetically modified seeds on the reproduction of bee colonies across North America CLIP
Why frogs don't like mobile phones (2 March 2008) http://www.abc.net.au/rn/ockhamsrazor/stories/2008/2175264.htm
Barrie Oldfield is a member and past president of the Western Australian branch of Men of the Trees and he discusses the decline of frog populations in this International Year of the Frog. He suggests that maybe electro magnetic radiation may be the reasons for this calamity. (...) Today the use of wireless telegraphy is universal. Not only radio, radar and television use electromagnetic energy to carry their signals, so do mobile phones, satellite navigation systems, GPS, movement sensors, motor car immobilisers, blue toothed computers, and of course microwave ovens. In fact most of our modern world would come to an abrupt halt if all applied EMR was to cease. We have come to accept it in every application our technologists can turn their hands to. We readily purchase every new device that comes on the market that saves us time, or physical energy, or improves communication. We're especially seduced by any novelty that is fun to use or gives an instant reward, be it a snapshot on a mobile phone, or just a cheery 'ping' when we got the sequence of button pressing correct. We never give a second thought to the possibility of there being a downside, whether to our health or that of other living things on this planet. But maybe we should, because now we live in a constant smog of radiation. CLIP
Mystery of the silent woodlands: scientists are baffled as bird numbers plummet (25 February 2005) http://omega.twoday.net/stories/540740/
It has hardly been noticed, but it is another sinister warning sign of a world going badly wrong. Populations of some of Britain's most attractive woodland birds are plummeting at a rate that threatens them with extinction, and nobody knows why.Precipitous declines in the numbers of some species, of up to four-fifths, have been registered over the past 30 years, but scientists are just realising what is happening, and they have no simple explanation. CLIP To better understand this global phenomenon read Birds harmed by electro magnetic radiation - Watch also Bye Bye Birdie (Very saddening! IT'S HARD NOT TO CRY WATCHING THIS!)
Mobile Phones and Vanishing Birds (29/05/07) http://www.i-sis.org.uk/MPVB.php
Birds near mobile phone base stations do not breed well (...) Laboratory studies show bird embryos die when exposed to microwavesThe observations in urban sparrows and the white stork population suggest that microwave radiation interferes with reproductive behaviour and breeding success, which would have decimated the wild populations. But that's not the whole story.Several million birds of 230 species die each year from collisions with telecommunications masts in the United States during migration . Accidents happen mainly in the night, in fog, or bad weather, when birds might be using the earth's magnetic field for navigation, and could be seriously disoriented by the microwave radiation from telecommunication masts.In the UK, where the allowed radiation level is 20 times higher than in Spain, a decline of several species of urban birds has occurred , coinciding with the increasing installation of mobile phone masts. Birds are good candidates as biological indicators for low-intensity electromagnetic radiation (EMR); they have thin skulls, their feathers can act as dielectric receptors of microwave radiation, many species use magnetic navigation, they are very mobile and possible psychosomatic effects are absent, as Everaert and Bauwens  point out. Another important factor is that chicken embryos subjected to the radiation from a cell phone in the laboratory suffered much higher mortalities than non-exposed controls. Some years ago researchers in Russia showed that continuous exposure of the chick embryos during the 21 days of embryonic development resulted in 75 percent of the embryos dying, compared with 16 percent in the controls .
Nanoparticles in the Brain - ANOTHER STEALTHY OVERLOOKED CAUSE FOR GLOBAL EROSION OF ALL LIFE http://www.mindfully.org/Health/2004/Nanoparticles-Enter-Brain9jan04.htm
Tiny particles enter the brain after being inhaled -- Nanoparticlestiny lumps of matter that could one day to be used to build faster computer circuits and improve drug delivery systemscan travel to the brain after being inhaled, according to researchers from the United States1. The finding sounds a cautionary note for advocates of nanotechnology, but may also lead to a fuller understanding of the health effects of the nanosized particles produced by diesel engines.Gunter Oberdorster of the University of Rochester in New York and colleagues tracked the progress of carbon particles that were only 35 nanometres in diameter and had been inhaled by rats. In the olfactory bulban area of the brain that deals with smellnanoparticles were detected a day after inhalation, and levels continued to rise until the experiment ended after seven days. "These are the first data to show this," says Ken Donaldson, a toxicologist at the University of Edinburgh, UK. "I would never have thought of looking for inhaled nanoparticles in the brain."Substances such as drugs can cross from the brain into the blood, but Oberdorster believes that the carbon nanoparticles enter the brain by moving down the brain cells that pick up odours and transmit signals to the olfactory bulb. He says that unpublished work, in which his group blocked one of the rats' nostrils and tracked which side of the brain the nanoparticles reached, appears to confirm this.Little is known about what effect nanoparticles will have when they reach the brain. The toxicity of the nanoparticles that are currently being used to build prototype nanosized electronic circuitssuch as carbon nanotubes, which are produced in labs around the worldhas not been thoroughly assessed. But Donaldson says that there is a growing feeling that other nanoparticles, such as those produced by diesel exhausts, may be damaging to some parts of our body. He estimates that people in cities take in about 25 million nanoparticles with every breath. These particles are believed to increase respiratory and cardiac problems, probably by triggering an inflammatory reaction in the lungs. Oberdorster's unpublished work includes evidence that some nanoparticles may trigger a similar inflammatory reaction in the brains of rats.
Nanotechnology Linked to Organ Damage - Study (29 March 04) http://www.mindfully.org/Technology/2004/Nanotech-Organ-Damage29mar04.htm
The first study to look at the health effects of microscopic, manufactured "nanoparticles" on aquatic animals has found troubling evidence that the moleculeswhich scientists are starting to make for research and industrycan trigger organ damage and other toxic effects. At modest concentrations in aquarium water, the minuscule particleswhich are made of carbon atoms and are less than one-thousandth the diameter of a human hairtriggered damaging biochemical reactions in the brains of fish. They also wiped out entire populations of "water fleas," tiny animals that fill an ecologically crucial niche near the bottom of the aquatic food chain. The study, described at a scientific meeting Sunday, was small and has yet to be peer reviewed or published in a scientific journal. And although some companies anticipate making tons of the particles within the next few years, current production levels are relatively low, so the risk of exposure for humans and other animals is still quite small. Nonetheless, the findings underscore the growing recognition that the hot new field of nanotechnology, which federal officials have said will be at the heart of America's "next industrial revolution," may bring with it a number of old-fashioned trade-offs in terms of potential environmental damage and health risks. CLIP
Nanotechnology Threatens to Destroy the Global Trade in Commodities - Atomising Third World Economies (Oct 1, 04) http://www.mindfully.org/Technology/2004/Nano-Destroy-Trade1oct04.htm
(...) Reduce the market for cotton and don't be surprised by an upsurge in suicides among farmers in India. With every new wave of technology it's the poor and vulnerable who get swamped: a shift to nano-commodities will neither help them with new opportunities nor change any fundamental power relations.Like GM crops and pharmaceuticals, designer nano-materials come swathed in strong intellectual property protections, with patents and profit accruing entirely to Northern corporations. Nor is it clear that one environmental problem is not simply being swapped for another, since nano-fibres and nano-particles are far from receiving a clean bill of health: the UK's leading science academy the Royal Society has recommended a prohibition on environmental applications of nano-particles. We need strong global rules to ensure that new technologies are only deployed if the interests of the poor and the vulnerable are protected.
High vibrations of inauguration; event in universal context; Earth speedily regaining health; global economy, individuals contribution; NESARA, what it does not include; Gaza, Zionists; aspects of karma; walk-ins; station explained; plane sabotaged.
Message from Matthew -- January 19, 2009
[Note: Monday afternoon when I tried to distribute the following brief message that Matthew wanted to go out on the 19th, I discovered that my ISP was nonoperational. Jean Hudon, Earth Rainbow Network, let me read it to him and he included it in his message specifically for the inauguration.]
This is Matthew, with greetings of love and rejoicing at the momentous event for your world, the inauguration of Barack Obama as president of the United States. We ask that you fill your hearts with love and gratitude and direct those feelings to him and his family and to the individuals who will assist and advise him. The outpouring of those kinds of energy streamers is like a blanket of golden filaments surrounding your world. By sending that energy to the Obama family and the new administration, you are radiating light to guide, protect and contribute to their success in governing wisely and honorably; and the light in their efforts beams out to the world, thus benefiting all souls and Mother Earth herself.
Although inauguration day is a specific date in linear time, in a universal context it is a major part of the master plan devised by the spiritual hierarchy in conjunction with physical civilizations in the timelessness of the continuum. Obama's willingness to come from a spiritually and intellectually highly evolved civilization to take on the primary leadership role in your world is part of that plan, which all of you knew and agreed to prior to your birth. The soaring hope of peoples around the world when he was elected has grown exponentially, and Mother Earth herself is feeling uplifted by the surge of harmonic waves from her residents and from all light beings throughout the universe.
The first day of new presidential leadership is an event of paramount importance in a series of on-target powerful developments in the plan's goal of spiritual renewal and reformation in your physical world, but in the continuum, its success already has been achieved! [Note: The November 21, 2008 message explains the plan.] Nevertheless, all of the forward movement is operating in your concept of time, and in this respect, your every thought, feeling and action is creating not only your personal lives, but collectively are the stepping stones to Earth's "future" world. All those steps are being taken at one pace or another, and holding your light steady in trust and patience as events unfold within the new US administration will heighten the collective consciousness. The higher the collective consciousness of a peoples, the higher the vibrations they radiate and attract in kind, all the while assisting Earth's ascension into the increasingly higher frequencies that you perceive as time passing faster and faster.
Mother, I thank you for receiving and distributing my message today, prior to the swearing-in ceremony tomorrow. And now, with the unconditional love of all souls at this station, who are sharing Earth's joyousness, this is Matthew bidding you farewell for a short while.
January 20, 2009
Because of technical difficulties incurred by my mother's service provider, she was unable to distribute my foregoing message at the intended time. I believe the difficulties were providential, as now I can speak in a timely manner about President Barack Obama's stirring address to his nation, indeed to your world. It is not his eloquence to which I refer, but his forthrightness and honesty and wisdom, his determination to unify what has been divided, to mend what has been in tatters, to strengthen what has been weak and to heal broken spirits. The energy of this day, energy that opened wide the portals of change based in love and enlightenment, reached heights not felt on Earth since the finest hours of Atlantis and Lemuria.
Now I shall continue with other truths and perspectives we at this station wish to share with you. Abundance is the God-given right of souls, and joyful living circumstances for every person on the planet is part of the master plan that includes the election of Obama. From a purely "3D" perspective, his administration is facing one of the gravest situations the world has ever encountered. And indeed, it is a huge mess that must be cleaned up! However, what we see from our vantage point is that Earth is far healthier today than she has been for millennia, and due to the massive infusion of off-planet light that guided individuals into generating their own light, the turn-around in Earth's condition has happened with speed that is unprecedented in the universe. Again, this is all according to the master plan, and every soul on the planet is participating one way or another.
By using the global economy to demonstrate the importance each of you has in the ongoing transformational process, I shall be answering many readers questions. The population as a whole is seeing the economic situation as it is reported by mainstream media, with unemployment, retail sales and real estate statistics along with various analysts forecasts. Therefore, in the collective consciousness the situation appears direby some estimates, the spiraling downward will continue for as long as two years and the overall impact will be felt with leveling out stages over the next ten or twenty years. The analysts are calculating in accordance with economic history and they see the resolution as combined government and corporate efforts to return to what they consider the soundness of the global system that existed prior to the meltdown.
You know better! You know the economic system is collapsing to end the Illuminati's long stranglehold on all aspects of commerce, taxation, investments, and such, and that a new foundation based in light is rising out of those ashes. You know that the increasing light in your world is propelling Earth to her fifth density destination; you know about the universal law of attraction and the advent of on-planet assistance from the same advanced civilizations that have been helping from afar for sixty-some years. By living in consonance with this awareness, the light in your optimism and trust has raised the vibrations within the collective consciousyour contribution has been phenomenal!
We want to clarify some misunderstandings prevailing even among the most faithfully dedicated lightworkers about the economic reforms underway. Some persons still do not know the magnitude of what is commonly known as NESARA. In previous messages I have recommended reading the explanatory messages about the true NESARA, but we understand your time constraints and I have been requested to summarize that material [Special NESARA Edition in "Matthew's Messages". Most succinctly stated, NESARA is that master plan for manifesting spiritual renewal and world transformation.
It had to begin with the thought becoming known on Earth so it could enter the collective consciousness, and it was presented in the form of legislation in the United States because that country is perceived by your world as the strongest. No legislation can state anything about a plan devised in the continuum jointly by light beings in spirit and those in advanced civilizations. It cannot state that there is nothing "federal" at all about the Federal Reserve System, that it is a grand deception designed by the Illuminati who own this private banking consortium, or that partially through that means, they manipulate the global economy; or that through the Fed's agency, the Internal Revenue Service, the Illuminati garner the billions of dollars paid annually by US income taxes; or that ridding Earth of Illuminati economic control will be accomplished by the growing intensity of light. No, the National Economic Security and Reformation Act could be worded only according to what was acceptable to the US administration and within the normal parameters of legislation.
Of course, that government never intended to enact it anyway. Massive corruption within national and global political and legal channels prevented enactment and the dissemination of disinformation added confusion and disbelief to NESARA's energy pool. Regardless, because its monumental goals are literally "in the heavens" and already manifested in the universal continuum, the plan's down-to-Earth progress continued in other directions to accomplish the very same goals.
Now then, among the believers are those who expect NESARA to begin with its announcement on television and followed with the delivery of enormous sums of money to specific individuals and "debt forgiveness." There will be no TV announcement, no such deliveries, and no automatic elimination of all debts. The actuality is that light forces on, off and within the planet have been working for more than six decades toward achieving all of NESARA's goals, and one goal is fair distribution of the grand abundance of your world's resources. The key word is FAIR. Would it be fair to eliminate a ten million dollar mortgage on an estate or yacht purchased with laundered drug money? Or a hundred million dollar mortgage on a building acquired by someone whose money came by defrauding investors or deliberately putting small companies out of business? Would it be fair to eradicate a $25,000 credit card debt incurred by someone who replaced last year's model of an expensive car with the latest model? Choices like that, like all other free will choices, are the responsibilities of the individuals.
What NESARA will do is eliminate the unconscionable disparity between the billionaires and the impoverished billions of people. This will be a process of examination, calculation and reallocation of funds derived through exploitation of entire nations resources. You need to understand this so your thoughts and feelings about the resolution to the current economic status can be made in the fullness of NESARA's profound reforms that extend to every hamlet and city in every country where God-given human rights and the rights of Earth herself have been trampled by the darkness that destroyed the conscience in some souls.
Let me speak now about the many aspects of what has been transpiring in Gaza. Even though your media have reported the grossly disproportionate Israeli retaliation for the missiles directed by Hamas into areas of Israel, Palestinian casualties are much higher than announced. As in any conflict, there are outspoken proponents and opponents of both sides: Israel's right to defend its borders from the declared aim of Hamas to destroy its neighbor, and the Palestinians right to end the oppression that began with the formation of Israel.
It is not publicized that behind this conflict are the Zionists, one of many groups and organizations operating within the Illuminati forces, and their intention is to keep bloodshed, fear, hatred, retaliation, destruction and oppression active in that part of the Middle East. Zionists, who may be of Jewish or any other ethnicity, hold powerful government, military, banking, corporate, religious, media and educational positions around the world; and through coercion, bribery or blackmail get underlings to carry out their despicable schemes. The Zionist movement does not represent the Israeli peoples or Jews anywhere in the world, nevertheless it hides behind the façade of anti-Semitism. The same kinds of dark minds that initiated World War II and funded both the Allies and the Axis also formed the plan to create a new homeland for Jews liberated from Nazi concentration camps by displacing the established Palestinian population. And for the past sixty years, those kinds of minds have created foment through well-placed agitators and strategic incidents to create radical elements on both sides that are more willing to fight to the death than to seek the peace and harmony deeply desired by both peoples.
Not all who have been killed or wounded in the savage assault in Gaza agreed to experience everything that has been transpiring throughout the past years. For many, the trauma far exceeded their contracts, and in those cases, by divine grace they transitioned from physical to spirit life much sooner than their contracts longevity clauses, yet with credits for contract mission fulfillment. In this unique era on Earth, divine grace is working two waysit is ending unchosen suffering of individuals and transmuting the negativity of their pain and torment into light instead of what happened for eons, adding more negativity for Earth to absorb.
Still another facet of the carnage in Gaza is the effect of the higher frequencies that magnifies all human characteristics, and the capacity for hatred, belligerence and desire for revenge has reached its peak. The balance to that intensity is the surge in light-filled characteristics such as empathy, compassion and determined efforts toward peace.
Underlying all of the death, destruction and tyranny in the Middle East is the extremely heavy karma being played out. Long before your recorded history, the inhabitants of those lands battled savagely for supremacy, and ancient blood permeated the earth. The resultant negativity had to be released in massive degree so Earth could move out of deep third density, and souls who lived in those early civilizations have returned time and again with the chosen mission to reduce the accumulated negativity. The inhabitants of those lands today came in for the same purpose, but this time, they are here to complete the release and achieve karmic balance as individuals and for Earth.
We know that overview seems dispassionate in light of the extensive pain in Gaza, just as in Iraq and Darfur and all other places on Earth where darkness still has a toehold. Even though we know that the individual and area-wide karmic balancing taking place is essential and we know that the souls who participated in accordance with original or amended contracts have achieved leaps in spiritual growth, we weep for those who are living in the midst of trauma because they are not aware of their loved ones magnificent accomplishments or their very own. The balance to our deep sadness for them is our joy in the assurance that one day they will know what we do, whether they are in spirit lifetimes or in Earth's Golden Age that they helped to manifest.
This is an appropriate place to answer the reader who asked, "When will nations full karmic debt be repaid?" Only souls incur karma. Souls often choose to incarnate in areas where they spent other lifetimes and made choices that were destructive to themselves and others, and due to the eons of influence by the dark forces, souls may have embodied in the same general area hundreds or more times to balance previous experiencing, but instead only repeated it. So in that respect, it can be considered that the "nation" incurs karma even though today's national boundaries are so very different from the empires in ancient times, when souls choices began piling up "negative" karma. Nations in the area now called the Middle East and in Africa are areas heavily affected by souls repetition, thus it takes longer to release the negativity from those lands and transmute it into light. Earth's karma is comprised of the countless souls that have inhabited the planet since the first civilizations in antiquity, and her balance is being restored by increasing numbers of souls becoming enlightened throughout your world.
Another reader asked if the same two souls always work out their karmic connections as long as it takes to attain balance. While souls may choose to do that, it is not necessary, especially not during this period where every aspect of life in your world is in acceleration; and because unconditional love is the basis of all pre-birth agreements, souls are eagerly helping the souls who most need a lift to evolve. My family is an example. My mother and father had experienced many very satisfying lifetimes in a number of relationship roles that strengthened them spiritually, and in an agreement with many other souls, they took on the heavier karmic experiences needed by the weaker ones in a soul cluster. Thus my parents union was marked by unresolved conflict and trauma that they could handle but the weaker souls could not; that enabled the weaker ones to choose less difficult emotional karmic connections that they could bring into balance and strengthen the soul cluster. Although my three siblings and I were not part of that agreement, the dissension between our parents provided the ideal environment each of us needed to flourish in ways we required for balance.
A large scale example of souls helping souls is what you call "walk-ins," which are far more prevalent than at any other period on the planet. The original souls that inhabit the bodies fulfill their contracts that call for turmoil or illness or severe deprivation, and the souls who agree to enter the bodies infuse them with light and the will to overcome the difficult conditions and proceed to accomplish their reasons for wanting to embody. The advantage to the latter souls is that in many cases, they enter adult bodies with academic and experiential learning, a running start so to say for succeeding in their chosen ways to help manifest the Golden Age.
"What is the risk of being a 'Wanderer/Star Seed' incarnating here at this time? What is the worst that can happen if the Wanderer from higher density fails to 'wake up' before 2012? Will such a being be trapped in 3rd density because of this?" First, there does not appear to be a consensus on Earth as to what constitutes a "starseed." From our perspective, every soul in this universe is a "starseed," but I shall reply to the questions as if these are exceptional beings who came from advanced civilizations to take on a more complex or more arduous mission than the majority of the populace. Because the planet has greatly more light than say, ten years ago or even five, there is much less risk now than previously of such beings becoming trapped in third density. The worst that can happen is that "trapped" individuals succumb to the frailties of unfamiliarly dense bodies; they may retain inklings of some special purpose for the lifetime, resonate with truthful information and feel attuned to universal laws, but due to dense bodies limited brain functioning, the rest is forgotten or distorted and the lifetime may be a series of frustrations instead of achievements that lighten hearts and minds. There is no penaltythat is, no incurrence of karma to balancebut at soul level there is disappointment along with understanding and compassion for the personage whose experience on Earth does not happen as intended.
The question, "Does each planet have its own station?" prompts me to be more mindful about terms that may need to be more clearly defined. "Station" as we use it is not related to any specific "place" or civilization, but rather is the level of spiritual growth a soul has attained regardless of its universal origin and number of experiencing lifetimes. When I speak of "souls at this station," I refer to a peer group whose spiritual clarity has evolved into attunement with the unconditional love and awareness of the Oneness of All. This could be called "group mind" or "collective souls" because of the shared enlightenment, but in a larger sense, it is a melding of innumerable personage soul-selves into one "higher soul." I hope that gives a clearer understanding of "station," but I need to say as well that there is no way to accurately describe a state of being that only life in form or in spirit in higher densities has the capacity for comprehension.
Moving on to diverse topics of interest, the plane that made a forced landing in New York's Hudson River was much more than the capability of the captainwith all due respect for his capability, he had a host of heavenly helpers because no person in that plane had a contract that "was up." The plane was sabotaged, and those responsible cannot understand why their diabolical plan failed just as it did when the intent was to assassinate Obama in a plane crash. They cannot even imagine his protection within the impermeable grid of the light of Christ consciousness just as they cannot accept that the long reign of darkness is over.
This time the sabotage was multi-purposed: kill the passengers they wanted to eliminate; cause many deaths and great property destruction when the plane crashed as anticipated on terra firma in the same city where two planes destroyed the twin towers; create a logical atmosphere for refreshing the fear after "9/11"; claim a terrorist caused the crash and cast doubts on Obama's ability to protect the United States from terrorism and thereby turn optimism to negativity. What the Illuminati lack in conscience, they make up for in intelligence, however lacking in prudence and wisdom; and it is now strikingly clear to those who thought it was their efforts that took your new president from a junior senator to the White House, that he has a vision for the nation and world that is diametrically opposed to their own.
We cannot give a specific time when the truth about "9/11" will come forth publicly, but we assure you, it will. Part of Earth's cleansing is truth replacing lies in every nook and cranny of the former strongholds of the darkness.
We understand that it is difficult to reconcile unusually low temperatures, heavy snowfalls, flooding, melting glaciers and wind storms with what we have told you, that eventually there will be a moderate climate globally and all lands will be habitable. The harsh conditions are part of Earth's balancing through planetary cleansing and the restoration of her health as a body, a return to her original Eden self; and almost all who are dealing with weather-related destruction and other hardships chose these kinds of experiences to bring balance to other lifetimes.
The increasing sightings of spacecraft are a preface to the appearance of such a large fleet that their presence no longer can be denied by those governments that have long ignored, ridiculed via "entertainment" or concocted foolish stories to prove that UFOs and ETs don't exist. The little grays living underground will not emerge en massethe time has long since passed when the Illuminati could have managed that, and the same is so regarding a holographic representation of an invading force descending from the skies.
Now, in the same spirit of exultation and brilliant light of hope that is pervasive in your world, we bid you farewell even as we lovingly accompany you every moment along your pathway.
Events are leading towards the changes that you have sought. Some will address your material needs, whilst others will make the way for the spiritual expression of Mankind. You have for long been in bondage in many ways, and have been led to believe that God is outside of you. The truth that your teachers have tried to convey to you is that God is within, and is not illusive or unapproachable. After all, since you are sparks of God it also follows that you too are gods in your own right. You cannot therefore ever be separated from God, although many feel that way. As you become more aware of the truth of your real self, so you will release those concepts that have held you back. You will be freed from limitation and realize that your progress towards Ascension lies largely with yourself. In reality no one else can achieve it for you, and it is your intent and actions that will carry you forward.
Whatever else happens Ascension is the goal of Mankind, but at the same time cleansing the Earth is also to be part of your experiences. This comes from the fact that the Earth is moving towards Ascension with you, and also needs to be in readiness for such an opportunity to leave this dimension. Bear in mind that all that is has a consciousness, and responds to outer influences and is always on the move. It may not be perceptible to you that nothing ever stands still, and that all is energy and in a constant state of flux. Clearly not all energies around you are beneficial, and some can adversely affect your health. Your cities are no place for those of ill health, and it is why you recover and feel more rested when you get away into the countryside. Some radiation is so potent that it is utterly debilitating and destructive. Whether in the workplace or home, you have to careful not to expose yourselves too long to any appliance that emits harmful rays.
In the future you will change over to appliances or machines that have completely safe energies. Generally speaking all motive power will come from the free energy that is all around you. Your governments have been aware of it and its applications for many years, and some have adapted it for their covert operations. The ancients were also aware of free energy, but were not sufficiently advanced to apply it to the extent that you will be able to do very soon. We simply await the time when we can safely contact you, and introduce many new concepts that will ease your daily tasks and provide a better quality of life. Speed and efficiency will make more time available to you, and that applies to land, sea and air. These changes are all part of the plan to uplift Mankind, and they will take place with extensive help from us.
At present the material changes must seem a long way off to you, yet in reality all is ready to proceed at a minutes notice. You must give your new administration time to settle in, and for the legal processes to make the changes lawful. Then we shall approach President Obama with a view to receiving approval for our first official flyover. That will be the start of a new era for Mankind and affect the whole world, as every country can benefit from the advice and new technologies we have to offer you. Health is a big issue everywhere, and we shall help you eradicate all forms of pollution and disease making toxins in your food, water and air. We will also introduce you to advanced forms of healing that are on many occasions instantaneous.
Dear Ones, what is a short wait now compared to what you have been through, bearing in mind how much benefit you will gain from our coming together. We come because it is part of our responsibility to you, as ones who have had a hand in your evolution for many thousands of years. We are here now by divine decree, to ensure the cycle of duality is completed with the advent of Ascension. Your consciousness levels are rapidly approaching the point of upliftment, and when they reach critical mass there will be a going through into the higher dimensions.
By giving you hope and reason to look to the future, in the coming months we expect more of you to find your way to the higher understanding. We are what you are to become, Cosmic Beings who have ascended and have the freedom to travel throughout the vastness of your great Universe. You are already members of the Galactic Federation, and may wish to serve others through our organization. There are also other Councils and Federations like ours dedicated to doing the work of the Creator, and opportunities abound to follow your hearts desire.
In linear time you play the waiting game because you cannot see the future as we do. Many times we have told you that the battle with the dark forces has been won, but until you see it fully played out on Earth you will not know for certain. All you need to do now is to keep your focus on your future vision, and thereby ensure that it manifests according to the Law of Attraction. There is to be no wavering of your Will at this stage, and no distraction regardless of the last gasps of the Illuminati who refuse to go gracefully. Like all despots they have a narrow focus that cares little for any one else except themselves.
It is worth reminding you that you are not here on Earth by chance, and each of you knew what it would entail. At the very least it was to add to your experiences and make progress along your evolutionary path. At best it was to complete your time in duality and move on to Ascension. Either way you will have gained much that can be applied in the future. When you leave Earth you will fully understand what you planned to do, and whether you fulfilled your life plan. Failure is not a word that is used, as all experience is of value and if necessary you can pass the same way again. You have all Infinity in which to experience as you wish, but your motive will be for your ongoing journey that will eventually lead you back to your source.
I am SaLuSa from Sirius, and note that in your experience time is speeding up more than ever. Take that as a sign of your ever-increasing levels of consciousness, and vibrations that are lifting up into the Light. They are doing so exponentially, and a sure indication of your success in attracting more light to Earth. I express my love to you all, and words to strengthen your resolve to achieve the ultimate goal of Ascension.
After 2,000 years of practice, Buddhist monks know that one secret to happiness is simply to put your mind to it.
What is happiness, and how can we achieve it?
Happiness cant be reduced to a few agreeable sensations. Rather, it is a way of being and of experiencing the worlda profound fulfillment that suffuses every moment and endures despite inevitable setbacks.
The paths we take in search of happiness often lead us to frustration and suffering instead. We try to create outer conditions that we believe will make us happy. But it is the mind itself that translates outer conditions into happiness or suffering. This is why we can be deeply unhappy even though we have it allwealth, power, health, a good family, etc.and, conversely, we can remain strong and serene in the face of hardship.
Authentic happiness is a way of being and a skill to be cultivated. When we first begin, the mind is vulnerable and untamed, like that of a monkey or a restless child. It takes practice to gain inner peace, inner strength, altruistic love, forbearance, and other qualities that lead to authentic happiness.
His Holiness the Dalai Lama often teaches that, while there are limitations to how much information one can learn and to our physical performance, compassion can be developed boundlessly.
It is not difficult to begin. You just have to sit from time to time, turn your mind within, and let your thoughts calm down. Focus your attention on a chosen object. It can be an object in your room, your breath, or your own mind. Inevitably, your mind will wander as you do this. Each time it does, gently bring it back to the object of concentration, like a butterfly that returns again and again to a flower.
In the freshness of the present moment, past is gone, future is not yet born, andif one remains in pure mindfulness and freedomdisturbing thoughts arise and go without leaving a trace. That is basic meditation.
Pure consciousness without content is something all those who meditate regularly and seriously have experiencedit is not just some sort of Buddhist theory. And anyone who takes the trouble to stabilize and clarify his or her mind will be able to experience it, too. It is through this unconditioned aspect of consciousness that we can transform the content of mind through training.
But meditation also means to cultivate basic human qualities, such as attention and compassion, and new ways of experiencing the world. What really matters is that a person gradually changes. Over months and years, we become less impatient, less prone to anger, less torn between hopes and fears. It becomes inconceivable to willingly harm another person. We develop a propensity toward altruistic behavior and the cluster of qualities that give us the resources to deal with the ups and downs of life.
The point here is that you can look at your thoughts, including strong emotions, with a pure mindfulness that is not associated with the contents of the thoughts.
Take the example of malevolent anger. We usually identify with anger. Anger can fill our mental landscape and project its distorted reality on people and events. When we are overwhelmed by anger, we cannot dissociate from it. We perpetuate a vicious circle of affliction by rekindling anger each time we see or remember the person who makes us angry. We become addicted to the cause of suffering.
But if we dissociate from anger and look at it with mindfulness, that which is aware of anger is not angry, and we can see that anger is just a bunch of thoughts. Anger doesnt cut like a knife, burn like a fire, or crush like a rock; it is nothing more than a product of our mind. Instead of being the anger, we understand that we are not the anger, in the same way that clouds are not the sky.
So, to deal with anger, we avoid letting our mind jump again and again to the trigger for our anger. Then we look at anger itself and keep our attention upon it. If we stop adding wood to a fire and just watch, the fire will die out. Likewise, anger will vanish away, without being forcibly repressed or allowed to explode.
There is no question of not experiencing emotions; its a question of not being enslaved by them. Let emotions arise, but let them be freed from their afflictive components: distortion of reality, mental confusion, clinging, and suffering for oneself and others.
There is great virtue in resting from time to time in pure awareness of the present moment, and being able to refer to this state when afflictive emotions arise so that we do not identify with them and are not swayed by them.
It is difficult in the beginning, but becomes quite natural as you become increasingly familiar with such an approach. Whenever anger arises, you learn to recognize it right away. If you know someone to be a pickpocket, even if he mingles in a crowd, you will spot him right away and keep a careful eye on him.
Just as you can learn to deal with afflictive thoughts, you can learn to cultivate and enhance wholesome ones. To be filled with love and kindness brings about an optimal way of being. It is a win-win situation: you will enjoy lasting well-being for yourself, youll act in altruistic ways towards others, and youll be perceived as a good human being.
If altruistic love is based on an understanding of the interdependence of all beings and of their natural aspiration to happiness, and if this love extends impartially to all beings, then it is a source of genuine happiness. Acts of overflowing love, of pure, disinterested generosityas when you make a child happy or help someone in need, even if nobody knows what you have donegenerate a deep and heartwarming fulfillment.
Human qualities often come in clusters. Altruism, inner peace, strength, freedom, and genuine happiness thrive together like the parts of a nourishing fruit. Likewise, selfishness, animosity, and fear grow together. So, while helping others may not always be pleasant, it leads the mind to a sense of inner peace, courage, and harmony with the interdependence of all things and beings.
Afflictive mental states, on the other hand, begin with self-centeredness, with an increase in the gap between self and others. These states are related to excessive self-importance and self-cherishing associated with fear or resentment towards others, and grasping for outer things as part of a hopeless pursuit of selfish happiness. A selfish pursuit of happiness is a lose-lose situation: you make yourself miserable and make others miserable as well.
Inner conflicts are often linked with excessive rumination on the past and anticipation of the future. You are not truly paying attention to the present moment, but are engrossed in your thoughts, going on and on in a vicious circle, feeding your ego and self-centeredness.
This is the opposite of bare attention. To turn your attention inside means to look at pure awareness itself and dwell without distraction, yet effortlessly, in the present moment.
If you cultivate these mental skills, after a while you wont need to apply contrived efforts anymore. You can deal with mental perturbations like the eagles I see from the window of my hermitage in the Himalayas deal with crows. The crows often attack them, diving at the eagles from above. But, instead of doing all kinds of acrobatics, the eagle simply retracts one wing at the last moment, lets the diving crow pass, and then extends its wing again. The whole thing requires minimal effort and causes little disturbance.
Being experienced in dealing with the sudden arising of emotions in the mind works in a similar way.
I have been exposed to the world of humanitarian activities for a number of years since I decided to dedicate the entire royalties of my books to 30 projects on education and health in Tibet, Nepal, and India, with a group of dedicated volunteers and generous philanthropists. It is easy to see how corruption, clashes of ego, weak empathy, discouragement can plague the humanitarian world. All this stems from a lack of maturity. So the advantages of spending time to develop human altruism and compassionate courage are obvious.
The Fragrance of Peace
The most important time to meditate or do other types of spiritual practices is early in the morning. You set the tone for the day and the fragrance of the meditation will remain and give a particular perfume to the whole day. Another important time is before falling asleep. If you clearly generate a positive state of mind, filled with compassion or altruism, this will give a different quality to the whole night.
When people experience moments of grace, or magical moments in daily life, while walking in the snow under the stars or spending a beautiful moment with dear friends by the seaside, what is really happening? All of a sudden, they have left their burden of inner conflicts behind. They feel in harmony with others, with themselves, with the world. It is wonderful to fully enjoy such magical moments, but it is also revealing to understand why they feel so good: pacification of inner conflicts; a better sense of interdependence with everything rather than fragmenting reality; and a respite from the mental toxins of aggression and obsession. All these qualities can be cultivated through developing wisdom and inner freedom. This will lead not just to a few moments of grace but to a lasting state of well-being that we may call genuine happiness.
In this state, feelings of insecurity gradually give way to a deep confidence that you can deal with lifes ups and downs. Your equanimity will spare you from being swayed like mountain grass in the wind by every possible praise and blame, gain and loss, comfort and discomfort. You can always draw on deep inner peace, and the waves at the surface will not appear as threatening.
Matthieu Ricard wrote this article as part of Sustainable Happiness, the Winter 2009 issue of YES! Magazine. Matthieu has authored seven books, including Happiness: A Guide to Developing Lifes Most Important Skill. He lives at the Shechen monastery in Nepal, travels the world for Karuna-shechen (http://www.karuna-shechen.org) and does an annual solitary retreat in the Himalayas.
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