Saturday, August 31, 2013

Why America Cannot Live Without Wars

Given the war president that he has become, very much like his predecessor, Martin Luther King, Jr. would not have wanted Barack Obama to speak on the 50th anniversary of Dr. King so powerfully giving voice to his dream/our dream. War has no place in this dream. I am deeply saddened and disturbed by all this talk and movement toward yet more bombs, more violence, more terror, harm, death and destruction. May we work to be the peace that our world so deeply yearns for and needs. May we especially do this for the children, all the children. ~ Molly

Published on Thursday, August 29, 2013 by Times of India
WASHINGTON – On a day marking the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King's "I-Have-A-Dream" civil rights speech, the United States is poised to unleash another nightmare some 10,000km away in the Middle-East. Washington's war machine is geared up for limited strikes against Syria because Damascus ostensibly crossed a red line by using chemical weapons against its own population, never mind that many regimes worldwide inflict atrocities against their own people by other means.On a day marking the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King's "I-Have-A-Dream" civil rights speech, the United States is poised to unleash another nightmare some 10,000km away in the Middle-East. (File)
Why a President who came to office on the strength of his anti-war credentials - especially on the phony war foisted on Iraq - is running with the war hounds, is something of a mystery. But the rest of the Washington establishment is champing at the bit to unleash missiles on the Syrian regime, promising a short punitive strike, in keeping with the well-worn belief that America cannot live without a war.
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel was among those who indicated that the US was "ready to go" the moment President Barack Obama gave the sign. "We have moved assets in place to be able to fulfill and comply with whatever option the president wishes to take," Hagel said on Tuesday.
"We are not good at anything else anymore... can't build a decent car or a television, can't give good education to the kids or health care to the old, but we can bomb the shit of out any country..."
– the late George Carlin
This, when a UN team is still investigating the reported use of chemical weapons in the conflict between the regime of Bashir al Assad and the rebels. The UN team has been asked to pack up and get out of the way. "We clearly value the UN's work - we've said that from the beginning - when it comes to investigating chemical weapons in Syria. But we've reached a point now where we believe too much time has passed for the investigation to be credible and that it's clear the security situation isn't safe for the team in Syria," State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf said Tuesday, echoing the kind of impatience that characterized the descent into the Iraq war.
Despite the appalling intelligence failures during previous such conflicts, US officials placed immense faith in their own findings while scoffing at international efforts. "I think the intelligence will conclude that it wasn't the rebels who used it and there'll probably be pretty good intelligence to show that the Syria government was responsible," Hagel said in a BBC interview. The prospect of the war, even a limited strike, upsetting a range of friends and allies, from Israel to India, does not seem to be holding back Washington's war veterans (both Secretary of State John Kerry and Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel served in the military).
If all this recalls the war against Iraq not too long ago, not many in Washington seem keen on remembering it. Instead, explanations are being proffered on how different this case is and how it will be a short, surgical strike, not really a war.
But America's discerning have long recognized that the country can never live without war. It is a country made for war. Small detail: Up until 1947, the Defense Department was called Department of War.
By one count, the United States has fought some 70 wars since its birth 234 years ago; at least 10 of them major conflicts. "We like war... we are good at it!" the great, insightful comedian George Carlin said some two decades ago, during the first Gulf War. "We are not good at anything else anymore... can't build a decent car or a television, can't give good education to the kids or health care to the old, but we can bomb the shit of out any country..."
Similar sentiments have been echoed more recently. "America's economy is a war economy. Not a manufacturing economy. Not an agricultural economy. Nor a service economy. Not even a consumer economy," business pundit Paul Farrell wrote during this Iraq War. "Deep inside we love war. We want war. Need it. Relish it. Thrive on war. War is in our genes, deep in our DNA. War excites our economic brain. War drives our entrepreneurial spirit. War thrills the American soul. Oh just admit it, we have a love affair with war."
And so, America will be off to another (limited) war shortly.

Thich Nhat Hanh: Looking Deeply

Don't think that without compost you can have flowers.
That is an illusion.
You can only have flowers with compost.
That is the insight of interbeing - 
look into the flower and you will see the compost.
If you remove the compost that became the flower, 
the flower will disappear also.

What you are looking for, freedom, joy, stability, you know
that suffering plays a very important role in it.
So be aware that we cannot just run away from our problems.
In fact, we have to go back to our problems.

The practice of calming, of concentrating, of embracing, of looking deeply
into the nature of our pain, is absolutely necessary for us to get 
the transformation, the healing that we need so much.

~ Thich Nhat Hanh

from  Thich Nhat Hanh gems

Poverty and the American Dream

Yesterday, Walmart spokesperson Kory Lundberg said that my petition to Walmart to raise the wages of its workers "fails to mention the massive job opportunities that Walmart provides for its employees." He went on to say that "on any given day, Walmart has between 15,000 and 50,000 job openings and the company gives out around 160,000 promotions a year." 

It's true that Walmart is creating lots of jobs -- the company is already America's biggest employer And undoubtedly some Walmart workers get promoted. But the fact is, Walmart's typical employee is still paid less than $9 an hour. To offer lousy jobs on such an extraordinary scale is not something to brag about. Indeed, the point of the petition -- as well as the national movement to raise the minimum wage toward $15 an hour -- is to recognize that most of these workers are adults, responsible for bringing home a significant share of their family's income, and that a decent society requires that workers be paid enough to lift them and their families out of poverty.

When Martin Luther King, Jr., led the March to Washington for Jobs and Justice, fifty years ago this week, one of the objectives was to raise the minimum wage to $2 an hour. Adjusted for inflation, $2 in 1963 would be over $15 dollars today. Walmart doesn't come even close to the American dream.

- Robert Reich

from  Robert Reich


A Curriculum in Peace

 "Give peace a chance, yes, but why not get serious and give it a place in the curriculum: peace courses in every school, every grade, every nation. Unless we teach our children peace, someone else will teach them violence."

Colman McCarthy
Journalist, Developer of Peace Studies Curriculum, 1938

 Here is Films For Action's War & Peace curriculum. Spread it far and wide:

While Cameron Defers to Parliament, Obama Locks into Warfare State of Mind

Published on Friday, August 30, 2013 by Common Dreams
During the next few days, a huge and historic battle will determine whether President Obama can continue the deadly record of presidential impunity to ignore Article 1 Section 8 of the Constitution and the War Powers Act and "go it alone" in an attack on Syria. (Image: PBS Newshour)The British Parliament’s rejection of an attack on Syria is a direct contrast—and implicit challenge—to the political war system of the United States.
“It is clear to me that the British Parliament, reflecting the views of the British people, does not want to see British military action. I get that, and the government will act accordingly,” Prime Minister David Cameron said Thursday night. At least for now, Uncle Sam’s poodle is off the leash.
Now all eyes turn to Congress, where the bar has suddenly been raised. Can the House of Representatives measure up to the House of Commons?
It’s a crucial question—but President Obama intends to render it moot with unwavering contempt for the war authority of Congress. Like his predecessors.
Even with war votes on Capitol Hill, the charade quotient has been high. The Gulf War began in early 1991 after the Senate vote for war was close: 52 to 47. But, as the PBS “Frontline”program reported years later, President George H.W. Bush had a plan in place: if Congress voted against going to war, he’d ignore Congress.
“The president privately, with the most inner circle, made absolutely clear he was going to go forward with this action even if he were impeached,” said Robert Gates, who was deputy national security advisor. “The truth of the matter is that while public opinion and the voice of Congress was important to Bush, I believe it had no impact on his decision about what he would do. He was going to throw that son of a bitch [Saddam Hussein] out of Kuwait, regardless of whether the Congress or the public supported him.”
By the Pentagon’s estimate, the six weeks of the Gulf War took the lives of 100,000 Iraqi people. “It’s really not a number I’m terribly interested in,” the Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman, Colin Powell, said at the time.
Eight years later, the War Powers Act’s 60-day deadline for congressional approval of U.S. warfare expired on May 25, 1999—but large-scale U.S. bombing of Yugoslavia continued. Bill Clinton was unable to get authorization from Congress but, like other wartime presidents before and since, he ignored the law that was passed in 1973 to constrain autocratic war-making. Republican Rep. Tom Campbell said: “The president is in violation of the law. That is clear.” Democratic Rep. Dennis Kucinich said: “The war continues unauthorized, without the consent of the governed.” And President Clinton said, in effect, I don’t care.
In October 2002, President George W. Bush won congressional approval for an invasion of Iraq, waving the fig leaf that passage would strengthen his hand at the bargaining table. Of course Bush got what he wanted—a full-scale war on Iraq.
“The president’s ability to decide when and where to use America’s military power is now absolute,” pundit Michael Kinsley observed, writing in Time magazine in mid-April 2003, just after the U.S. occupation of Iraq began. “Congress cannot stop him. That’s not what the Constitution says, and it’s not what the War Powers Act says, but that’s how it works in practice.”
That’s how it works in practice.
We’ve got to change how it works in practice.
During the next few days, a huge and historic battle will determine whether President Obama can continue the deadly record of presidential impunity to ignore Article 1 Section 8 of the Constitution (“The Congress shall have Power … To declare War”) and the War Powers Act as well as public opinion, now strongly against an attack on Syria.
In recent days, perhaps as a tactical matter, some progressive groups and members of Congress have focused on urging that Congress get to vote—or at least play a role—in the decision on whether to bomb Syria. But we should not imply that we’ll be satisfied as long as the matter comes to a congressional vote. Time is very short; we should cut through the preliminaries and get to the point: No attack on Syria!
Since mid-week, more than 20,000 people have sent this email message to Congress: “No Attack on Syria. As a constituent, I am writing to let you know that I oppose a military attack on Syria. Creative diplomacy is the best way to respond to the alleged use of chemical weapons. I urge you to work for a ceasefire, to pressure Saudi Arabia, the Gulf states, and Turkey, to halt the flow of weapons, and to pressure Russia and Iran to do the same.” (To join in sending that email message to your senators and representative, click here.)
Will the president again be able to order a military attack on yet another country—on his own say-so?
That is Obama’s intention. “Administration officials made clear that the eroding support would not deter Mr. Obama in deciding to go ahead with a strike,” the New York Times reported on Friday morning. “Pentagon officials said that the Navy had now moved a fifth destroyer into the eastern Mediterranean Sea. Each ship carries dozens of Tomahawk cruise missiles that would probably be the centerpiece of any attack on Syria.”
In the next days, history will be made. Let’s make it for peace.
Please go here for the full article:

America will never be destroyed from the outside. If we falter and loose our freedoms, it will be because we destroyed ourselves. ~ Abraham Lincoln

Friday, August 30, 2013

Moral Courage

Artwork- Navajo Storyteller by Rose Pecos Sun Rhodes

The plain fact is that the planet does not need more successful people. But it does desperately need more peacemakers, healers, restorers, storytellers, and lovers of every kind. It needs people who live well in their places. It needs people of moral courage willing to join the fight to make the world habitable and humane. And these qualities have little to do with success as we have defined it.

~ David Orr

from Rivers in the Ocean 


- from Films For Action
We all have a role to play in working toward 
an increasingly just, peaceful, and sustainable world.
May we all seek, embrace, and increasingly root into our part, whatever that may be.
May we find our passion! We are all in this together.
Peace ~ Molly

 Action creates its own courage and courage is as contagious as fear. 
You must do the thing you think you cannot do. 
~ Eleanor Roosevelt 
 Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter. 
~ Martin Luther King, Jr.
 War and peace start in the human heart - and whether that heart is open 
or whether that heart closes has global implications. 
~ Pema Chödrön

People Are Waking Up!

By Tim Hjersted

People are waking up. They're getting involved. They're saying, "Not another day! This is where I mark the line." Their desire to change the world is turning from simple wishful thinking on Monday mornings into tangible action. The thoughts they used to have only occasionally about their relationship to the rest of the world now occurs to them all the time.

They're beginning to see activism not as something that is done only at non-profit meetings and at protests, but that activism is a way of life - that it represents nothing less than our personal, spiritual choice to choose determination over defeat, and compassion over apathy. Ultimately, in some way, it is the choice to reject our culture's post-modern slide into narcissism. It is to reject the modern consumer philosophy that true happiness and joy comes from personal material accumulation, from seeking personal desires and needs. It is the realization that the joy that comes from connecting to our relationship with the planet blows the old way of seeking joy out of the water.

These people are realizing that humans are social animals; we crave connection and community; we crave a wide, encompassing identity that connects us with the whole humanity of the world - not just our friends and family, not just our city, our country, our species - but every living being on Earth - plant, animal, and human.

It is a new philosophy, perhaps a very, very ancient philosophy, one that sees everyone on this planet as one family - that everything is interconnected, that the whole humanity and life of all beings resides in each one of our hearts, and that we reside in theirs. There is no "I" and "them." Truly, honestly.

The happiness of another is my happiness. The suffering of another is my suffering.

There is no separation. For millions and millions of people growing around the planet, the problems of the world are their problems; the happiness others find as we collectively realize a more just, compassionate, and sustainable world is their happiness. It is the most profound and meaningful happiness one could possibly experience.

You can't buy that kind of happiness at a store. You can't get it from beating the last level of a video game. It doesn't come out of the end of a pipe or at the bottom of a bottle. It doesn't come from watching sports. It doesn't come from how you dress or what kind of car you drive. It doesn't come from getting a college degree or from getting a fatter paycheck.

It comes directly from the final and profound realization that there truly is no "self" and there is no "other." We are inter-connected with everything. We are all of it.

We don’t set out to save the world; we set out to wonder how other people 
are doing and to reflect on how our actions affect other people’s hearts. 
~ Pema Chödrön

 In our time, when high technology guided by values such as conquest, 
exploitation, and domination threaten our very survival, 
we need economics driven by an ethos of caring. 
We need a caring revolution. 
~ Riane Eisler

 Another world is not only possible, she is on her way. 
On a quiet day, I can hear her breathing. 
~ Arundhati Roy

Nuclear Expert: Fukushima Is 'Emergency Without End'

Arjun Makhijani: Radioactive strontium being released is 'likely to be a seaside nightmare for decades.'

- Andrea Germanos, staff writer
Published on Saturday, August 10, 2013 by Common Dreams
Photo: Matthias Lambrecht/cc/flickrAs the disaster at Fukushima plant continues to unfold, one nuclear expert is warning that "this is an accident that’s shockingly not stopping."
Arjun Makhijani, President of the Institute for Energy and Environmental Research (IEER),sounds particular alarm around radioactive strontium that is being released from the trouble-stricken plant:
Fukushima continues to be an emergency without end – vast amounts of radioactivity, including strontium-90 in the groundwater, evidence of leaks into the sea, the prospect of contaminated seafood. Strontium-90, being a calcium analog, bioaccumulates in the food chain. It is likely to be a seaside nightmare for decades.
Speaking with PBS Newshour this week, the Carbon-Free and Nuclear-Free author said that strontium is "much more dangerous" than the cesium 137 and 134 being released from Fukushima, and was found "at levels that are 30 times more than cesium."  He continued:
So to give you an idea of the level of contamination, if somebody drank that water for a year, they would almost certainly get cancer. So it's very contaminated.
So that's one problem. The other is the defenses to hold back this water from the sea seem to be overcome. So now the contaminated waters, 70,000, 80,000 gallons is flowing into the sea every day.
Dr. Makhijani speaking on PBS Newshour this week. (Sreenshot)When asked what happens when this radioactive strontium reaches the sea, Makhijani replied:
Well, when it goes into the sea, of course, some of it will disperse and dilute. Some of it goes into the sediment and some of it is taken up by the life in the sea.
And the unfortunate thing about strontium especially is that it bioaccumulates in algae, it bioaccumulates in fish. It targets the bone, because it's like calcium. And so this is a problem. We don't have measurements far out to sea. The Woods Hole Institute has done some surveys. And they were surprised by how much continuing radioactivity they found, but no clear explanation yet.
But it's not just fish that will take in the radiation.
When Living on Earth asked Makhijani about how the radioactivity could affect human health, he said:
Well, the strontium-90 and the cesium would both be perilous, and since the strontium-90 is more mobile and also more dangerous biologically, strontium behaves like calcium, so it goes to the bone. It also bioaccumulates in the base of the food chain and algae. Ultimately because it does bioaccumulate and there is quite a lot of strontium, you could have a large part of the food chain near Fukushima being contaminated.
If pregnant women eat the contaminated fish or drink the contaminated water, he said
the outcomes could be worse than cancer because then you’re talking about a much more compromised child in the sense of having a compromised immune system - it makes you more vulnerable to all kinds of diseases.
Just how TEPCO or other authorities will be able to deal with this "radioactivity that’s essentially forever" is uncertain, he continued.
It’s very, very unclear to me how they are going to be able to get at this molten fuel, extract it from the bottoms of these highly damaged buildings and package it for safer or less dangerous storage or disposal.
"This is an accident that’s shockingly not stopping," he warned.
There is one certainty among the many unknowns, writes long-time anti-nuke activist Harvey Wasserman:
[W]hat we now know all too well at Fukushima is that the world's worst atomic catastrophe is very far from over.
The only thing predictable is that worse news will come.
And when it does, our increasingly fragile planet will be further irradiated, at immeasurable cost to us all.
Please go here for the article + video of PBS Newshour discussion:

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What do we most need to do to save our world? What we most need to do is to hear within us the sounds of the Earth crying. ~ Thich Nhat Hanh