Thursday, February 5, 2009

Investing in Our Human Infrastructure: The Real Wealth of Our Nation Is Its People

by Riane Eisler

Riane Eisler argues that the fastest way to get money into the economy--support for caring and human development--is also the most deeply transformative.

Over half a million people lost their jobs last month. There's no question we need a job-creation plan. The real question is what kind of plan will most quickly stimulate the economy and at the same time provide the best long-term investment for our nation.

Let's urge President Obama and Congress to use the American Recovery and Reinvestment Job-Creation Plan to massively invest in our human infrastructure: that is, in human capacity development. Investment in our material infrastructure (bridges, roads, etc.) and our natural infrastructure (green jobs, etc.) is certainly important. But study after study shows that when our nation invests in its people, starting in childhood, the economic benefits are enormous.

By creating, subsidizing, and providing training for jobs in childcare, early education, healthcare, eldercare, and other "caring industries," as well as supporting caring work in homes, we quickly stimulate the economy, help families, radically reduce poverty and violence, reward women's economic contributions, save billions in crime and prisons - and develop the "high quality human capital" needed for our post-industrial economy.

Our economic crisis is an opportunity to lay foundations for a sustainable and equitable economic system instead of just trying to patch up an economy based on unsustainable consumerism, unsustainable consumer debt, and unsustainable environmental practices. The current economic meltdown is not due simply to the globalization of unregulated capitalism. The problem goes much deeper - and so must the solutions.

The financial return on investment in caring jobs and home activities is huge - and not accounted for in popular economic models circulating in Washington which, as shown by our economic crisis, encourage disastrous short-term market speculation. We need a new economics that really works - both in the short and long term.


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Millions of Americans are going uncared and undercared for. We have a huge caring gap from cradle to grave. A more broadly defined job-creation program will help close this gap at the same time that it stimulates the economy and trains both women and men for the work that is most urgently needed for a healthy economy and society. ~ Riane Eisler

Obama to Expand Bush Faith Program

by Carrie Budoff Brown

President Barack Obama, who has been reversing course on a host of Bush administration policies, Thursday will make a bid to expand and strengthen one of the programs most closely associated with his predecessor.

George W. Bush created the White House faith-based grant program, and Obama intends to keep the same structure. But Obama is going a significant step further, with the creation of a new board of advisers whose recommendations will be woven directly into his policy-making apparatus.

Under Bush, a White House-based program to encourage grants to faith-based social service programs began with high hopes and a barrage of publicity. But over time this Bush hallmark suffered amid complaints from many of its backers that it had become marginalized and used for partisan purposes by White House political aides.

"The conventional wisdom suggests that, since Bush used much rhetoric about his commitment to working closely with religious leaders and communities, that the new Democrat coming to the White House might seek to diminish the role of religion in his administration," said the Rev. Jim Wallis, the president of the progressive Christian group Sojourners and a member of Obama's new council. "But I believe the opposite may turn out to be true. There will be a new paradigm of religious influence under the Obama administration."


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The spell of misuse of power, dominance, control over others, racial hatred, polarization, economic injustice has been broken. Beneath the "spell" are the rising of what we are calling the "universal humanity" and the "cocreative human." We have lived through the Shift Point. Not that the problems are solved, but the truth has emerged, that the "birth" of ourselves as a planetary species is real, if only embryonic. This is a rare privilege. ~ Barbara Marx Hubbard

Obama's Energy Secretary Outlines Dire Climate Change Scenario

Steve Chu's warning the clearest sign to date of the greening of America's political class under Obama

by Suzanne Goldenberg

The apocalyptic scenario sketched out by Steven Chu, the Nobel laureate appointed as energy secretary, was the clearest sign to date of the greening of America's political class under the new president.

In blunt language, Chu said Americans had yet to fully understand the urgency of dealing with climate change. "I don't think the American public has gripped in its gut what could happen," he told the Los Angeles Times in his first interview since taking the post. "We're looking at a scenario where there's no more agriculture in California. I don't actually see how they can keep their cities going."

Chu's doomsday descriptions were seen yesterday as further evidence that, after eight years of denial under George Bush, the Obama White House recognises the severity of climate change.

Chu is not a climate scientist, and won his Nobel for his work on lasers. But he was well-known at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory for his outspoken concern about climate change and his commitment to developing clean energy long before Obama appointed him.

The language he used yesterday, though stark, was in step with a co-ordinated effort by Obama's officials and Democrats in Congress to project an image of consensus among policy makers in Washington on the need to move America away from fossil fuels and cut greenhouse gas emissions.

In the interview, Chu said raising public awareness was crucial to that transformation. "I'm hoping that the American people will wake up."

He blamed warmer temperatures for the acceleration in California's cycle of droughts. Global warming had caused a decline and evaporation of the Sierra mountains snow-pack, which had served as a natural storage system for the spring run-off that helped irrigate California's valleys and provided water to its cities.

Chu said up to 90% of the Sierra snow-pack could disappear, eliminating those sources of water.

Scientists have long cited the declining spring run-off as a contributing cause of California's wildfires. California's governor, Arnold Schwarzenegger, has blamed climate change for making forest fires a year-round threat.

California's department of water resources said last week that the state's snow-pack was at 61% of normal levels. The reduction is especially worrying because of the severely dry spring of 2008, leaving the state with little water in reserve. Two dozen local water agencies have already imposed rationing.

There are heightened concerns about water shortages in the west and upper midwest as well. Earlier this year, the journal Science warned of worldwide crop shortages because of rising temperatures.


Monday, February 2, 2009

Call to Try Bush

RIGHTS: Call to Try Bush
By Julio Godoy

BERLIN, Feb 2 (IPS) - Now that former U.S. president George W. Bush is an ordinary citizen again, many legal and human rights activists in Europe are demanding that he and high-ranking members of his government be brought before justice for crimes against humanity committed in the so-called war on terror.

"Judicial clarification of the crimes against international law the former U.S. government committed is one of the most delicate issues that the new U.S. president Barack Obama will have to deal with," Wolfgang Kaleck, general secretary of the European Centre for Human and Constitutional Rights told IPS.

U.S. justice will have to "deal with the turpitudes committed by the Bush government," says Kaleck, who has already tried unsuccessfully to sue the former U.S. authorities in European courts. "And, furthermore, the U.S. government will have to pay compensation to the innocent people who were victims of these crimes."

Kaleck and other legal experts consider Bush and his highest-ranking officials responsible for crimes against humanity, such as torture.

Many agree that the evidence against the U.S. government is overwhelming. U.S. officials have admitted some crimes such as waterboarding, where a victim is tied up and water is poured into the air passages. Also, human rights activists have gathered testimonies by innocent victims of torture, especially some prisoners at the Guantanamo Bay detention camp.

In an interview with the German public television network ZDF, Austrian human rights lawyer Manfred Nowak, UN special rapporteur on torture, said that numerous cases of torture ordered by U.S. officials and perpetrated by U.S. authorities are well documented.

"We possess all the evidence which proves that the torture methods used in interrogation by the U.S. government were explicitly ordered by former U.S. defence minister Donald Rumsfeld," Nowak told ZDF. "Obviously, these orders were given with the highest U.S. authorities' knowledge."

"George W. Bush is without doubt responsible for crimes such as torture," says Dietmar Herz, professor of political science at the university of Erfurt, 235 km southwest of Berlin.

"According to the U.S. constitution, the U.S. president is responsible for all actions carried out by the executive," Herz told IPS. "Therefore, George W. Bush is responsible for the torture methods used by U.S. authorities, such as waterboarding."

International justice against crimes against humanity began in 1945, with the Nuremberg trials against Nazi criminals, says Kaleck.

Leading prosecutor Robert Jackson said at the opening of the trials in October 1945 that "we are able to do away with...tyranny and violence and aggression by those in power against the rights of (the) people...only when we make all men answerable to the law."

For the entire article, please go here:

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We must not allow ourselves to become like the system we oppose. ~ Archbishop Desmond Tutu

History, despite its wrenching pain, cannot be unlived, but if faced
with courage, need not be lived again. ~ Maya Angelou

Despite Odds, Women's Movement Persists In Iran

Warm Greetings

It is encouraging every time I hear progress happening for women in our country and around the world, very much so including our sisters in Iran. I am struck by their courage, and my heart and prayers go out to their struggle and to women everywhere who seek to create a more just, peaceful, and caring world. I am also reminded of my own grandmothers who grew up in a time when women could not vote in America. It is taking so much to shift our world from the 5,000 year old grasp of patriarchal and hierarchical structures, stories, and belief systems to ones which are rooted in equality, respect, and a depth of genuine caring for all. Among many others, Riane Eisler writes about shifting from Dominator to Partnership cultures and societies; David Korten talks about the Great Turning from Empire to Earth Community. In this article, I appreciate the mention of Azar Nafisi, a former Iranian professor. Today Azar Nafisi is an internationally renowned writer, the author of Reading Lolita in Tehran, and one of Iran's best known women in exile. My kids help me to learn so much about the world, and it was my eldest son Brian who got me Reading Lolita in Tehran, which I would highly recommend to anyone. So many have such amazing stories. So many are making a difference. May we all continue to work toward equality and caring for all beings. Peace ~ Molly

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Listen Now [14 min 20 sec]

Women's voices in Iran have been agents of change through politics, literature, religion and poetry even though women continue to be targets of persecution. And 30 years after the Iranian revolution swept away many freedoms, the women's movement continues to grow.

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"The real issue here is how power is defined and used: whether it's as power to dominate and disempower or to nurture and empower... We have to build the foundations on which more democratic, peaceful, economically equitable, and environmentally sustainable world can rest. This requires a powerful national and international movement to change the foundational relations that have been ignored in mainstream economic theory: the primary relations between men and women and between parents and children. It requires that the thousands of organizations worldwide today working for economic and social justice movements promote an integrated agenda that no longer splits off the rights of the majority - women and children - from the purview of human rights."
Riane Eisler,
from The Real Wealth of Nations: Creating a Caring Economics

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Fifteen Minutes a Week: An Appeal for Help

Thank you to Dena in North Carolina for her beautiful blog, and to JeffR for initially posting this on Democratic Underground. This is an on-going issue that desperately needs to be continued beyond January. Even if increasing numbers of us were to take 15 minutes per week or per month to simply become more educated about poverty and its causes and impact - in America and beyond - and the incredible and obscene and immoral gap that has been growing exponentially over the past three decades (and the past eight years in particular!), but which has always existed, that would be helpful in creating powerful national and planet changing ripples. The more educated - as opposed to ignorant, isolated, misinformed, apathetic, angry, or despairing - that we all become, the more potentially inspired and empowered we each are to grow stronger and stronger in knowledge, compassion, caring, networking, action, and hope that another world is possible. At least that has certainly been my personal and very humbling, illuminating, and heartfelt experience.

Wishes for peace & growing abundance, and Tag, we are all it! ... Molly

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They are children and they are seniors.
They are minorities and they are white.
They are straight and they are gay.
They are college graduates and high school dropouts.
They are disabled or sick without insurance and they are healthy.
They are jobless without benefits and they are working one or more low-wage jobs.
They are mothers and fathers and they are sons and daughters.
They are devout believers in God and they are atheists.
They are conservatives and they are liberals.
They are recent immigrants and they are descendants of Mayflower families.
They are strangers and they are friends, relatives, neighbors.
They are invisible, yet they are hidden in plain sight.

They are the poor. They are one in eight of us nationally, but in Milwaukee, Philadelphia or Newark, the number is around one in four. In Detroit or Buffalo, the number is closer to one in three.

For middle class Americans today, a rapidly worsening economy threatens foreclosure, unemployment, lost health insurance, ambitions deferred, dreams abandoned. For over 36 million Americans, however, the crisis is already here.

The media, mainstream and alternative alike, have paid shockingly little attention to poverty in America. The same can be said of all but a few of our politicians.

The Catholic Campaign for Human Development has declared January "Poverty in America Awareness Month" with these stated goals:
· Releasing a powerful public service campaign to raise awareness of poverty in America.
· Encouraging the editorial media to focus on poverty.
· Educating the public to be sensitive to the needs of those in poverty and to treat poor people with respect.
· Holding events in Catholic schools and public settings to make sure poverty is top-of-mind for all Americans.

Whatever one's religious beliefs, or even if one has no religion, it's difficult to imagine anyone committed to social justice being unsympathetic to these aims.

On behalf of a group of DU members (all of whom, I hope, will add their comments here), I'd like to urge everyone to follow the example of the CCHD and devote some time in January to help raise awareness about poverty.

What can be done in fifteen minutes a week for four weeks?

Write to your local newspaper, write or call your elected representatives and, perhaps most importantly, contact President Elect Obama to help ensure that his vision for change includes addressing poverty, hunger and affordable housing as the urgent issues they are.

Can fifteen minutes a week of our time really help? There's only one way to find out.

Please consider making this effort your resolution for a truly New Year. January marks a new beginning for the nation after eight long, terrible years. Let's do what we can to make it a new beginning for the poor as well.

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This is how change happens, though. It is a relay race, and we're very conscious of that our job really is to do our part of the race, and then we pass it on, and then someone picks it up, and it keeps going. And that is how it is. And we can do this, as a planet, with the consciousness that we may not get it, you know, today, but there's always a tomorrow.
~ Alice Walker, Interview broadcast on 11/11/08