Thursday, April 30, 2015

Robert Thurman: Enlightened Imagination

To finish building the free society dreamed of by Washington, Franklin, and Jefferson, we must draw upon the resources of the enlightened imagination, which can be systematically developed by the spiritual sciences of India and Tibet. We have not yet tamed our own demons of racism, nationalism, sexism, and materialism. We have not yet made peace with a land we took by force and have only partly paid for. We are a teeming conglomeration of people from different tribes who have yet to embrace fully the humanness in one another. And none of us can be really free until all of us are. 

- Robert Thurman

John Nichols: 6 Reasons Bernie Sanders Is a Better Candidate Than Hillary Clinton

(Reuters/Jonathan Ernst)
Bernie Sanders holds a news conference after announcing his candidacy for the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination. (Reuters/Jonathan Ernst)
Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders is running for president. And despite the fact that he is the longest-serving independent in Congress, he says that “after a year of travel, discussion and dialogue, I have decided to be a candidate for the Democratic nomination for president.”
Sanders, who formally announced his candidacy in a series of statements this week, is not actually running against former secretary of state Hillary Clinton, who announced her candidacy earlier in April. Rather, both Sanders and Clinton are seeking the nomination of the party. They may be joined by others: former Maryland governor Martin O’Malley, former Virginia senator Jim Webb and former Rhode Island senator (and governor) Lincoln Chaffee. Draft initiatives are still trying to entice Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren and Vice President Joe Biden into the competition.
By most measures, Clinton is a first among equals. She has dramatically higher name-recognition than Sanders or any of the other prospects. She is way ahead in the polls. And most commentators are convinced that she is not merely a candidate for the nomination but the Democratic nominee in waiting.
Perhaps they are right, although Sanders counsels, “People should not underestimate me. I’ve run outside of the two-party system, defeating Democrats and Republicans, taking on big-money candidates and, you know, I think the message that has resonated in Vermont is a message that can resonate all over this country.”
Even if Clinton is “inevitable,” however, she needs to debate Sanders and the other contenders. Clinton debated her opponent in her 2000 Senate race; she participated in a number of debatesduring her 2008 presidential run; and her campaign has indicated that she is open to debating this year.
That’s good, not just because there is much to debate but because debates are good for all candidates—including front-runners. There is plenty of history to remind us that front-runners who win their nominations in honest competition tend to be better prepared for the fall fight than those who avoid it.
No matter who else gets into the race, a Clinton-Sanders debate would be a lively, issue-focused exchange between two candidates who know and respect each other but are very different. Not long after Sanders traveled to the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, Clinton was a youthful campaigner for Barry Goldwater—the first step on an political evolution that would four years later see her backing Eugene McCarthy’s insurgent primary challenge to Democratic President Lyndon Johnson. While Clinton’s first elective post was a US Senate seat, Sanders has been a mayor, a statewide candidate, a congressman, and a senator. The New York Timesreports that Clinton’s “finance team and the outside groups supporting her candidacy have started collecting checks in what is expected to be a $2.5 billion effort, dwarfing the vast majority of her would-be rivals in both parties.” Sanders rips “plutocrats” and “the billionaire class” that funds campaigns.
But the issues are the heart of the matter. Clinton and Sanders are not always at direct odds with one another, and Clinton has since announcing her candidacy sent a number of progressive populist signals. But there are real distinctions between these two candidates.
Here are six degrees of separation between Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton:

Katrina vanden Heuvel: A Progressive’s Lament About the Trans-Pacific Partnership

Obama with TPP Leaders
President Obama poses with the Leaders of the Trans-Pacific Partnership Leaders in November 2011(Reuters/Larry Downing)
Editor’s Note: Each week we cross-post an excerpt from Katrina vanden Heuvel’s column at the Read the full text of Katrina’s column here.
It has come to this. To sell his trade treaty—specifically the fast-track trade authority that would grease the skids for passage of the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement (TPP), President Obama is mobilizing a coalition anchored by corporate lobbies, the Chamber of Commerce and Republican congressional leadership. He is opposed by the majority of Democratic legislators, the labor movement and a broad array of mainstream environmental, consumer and citizen organizations.
Democrats are stunned by the intensity of the lobbying effort mounted by the administration. Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH), a staunch supporter of the president, noted that Democrats have been “talked to, approached, lobbied and maybe cajoled by more Cabinet members on this issue than any issue since Barack Obama’s been president. That’s just sad. I wish they put the same effort into minimum wage. I wish they put the same effort into Medicare at 55. I wish they put the same effort into some consumer strengthening on Dodd-Frank.”
Last week, the president raised the heat, saying that opponents—almost entirely his allies on other issues—“don’t know what they are talking about.” He called out Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) by name, saying that she was “just wrong” in her criticism of the proposed deal. When Warren said in an e-mail to supporters that the president’s claims couldn’t be verified since people like you can’t see the actual deal,” the president said, “it’s dishonest” to call this a secret deal, since “every single one of the critics…could walk over and see the text of the agreement.” Warren and Brown responded by calling the president’s bluff: If the treaty isn’t secret, then make its provisions public so that Americans can see it before the vote on fast track. (In fact, the treaty, still in negotiation, is classified. Legislators can see it, but only with a trade official, and with no aides, no notes, no experts, no copies and no repeating of details that are classified.)
Read the full text of Katrina’s column here.

Please go here for the original article:

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Barbara Kingsolver: Living Inside Hope

The very least you can do in your life is figure out what you hope for. 
And the most you can do is live inside that hope. 
Not admire it from a distance but live right in it, under its roof.

Barbara Kingsolver: Elementary Kindness

 What I want is so simple I almost can't say it: 
elementary kindness.

Mark Twain: Travel Is Fatal To Prejudice

Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one's lifetime.

Mark Twain: Imagination

You can't depend on your eyes 
when your imagination is out of focus.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

John O'Donohue: A Blessing For Equilibrium

A Blessing For Equilibrium
Like the joy of the sea coming home to shore,
May the music of laughter break through your soul.
As the wind wants to make everything dance,
May your gravity be lightened by grace.
Like the freedom of the monastery bell,
May clarity of mind make your eyes smile.
As water takes whatever shape it is in,
So free may you be about who you become.
As silence smiles on the other side of what’s said,
May a sense of irony give you perspective.
As time remains free of all that it frames,
May fear or worry never put you in chains.
May your prayer of listening deepen enough
To hear in the distance the laughter of God.
- John O'Donohue
 To Bless the Space Between Us: A Book of Blessings

Dahr Jamail: Experts Warn of "Cataclysmic" Changes as Planetary Temperatures Rise

By Dahr Jamail, Truthout | Report

Two unprecedentedly high temperatures were recorded in Antarctica, providing an ominous sign of accelerating ACD as one of the readings came in at just over 63 degrees Fahrenheit. (Photo: Iceberg via Shutterstock)Two unprecedentedly high temperatures were recorded in Antarctica, providing an ominous sign of accelerating climate change as one of the readings came in at just more than 63 degrees Fahrenheit. (Photo: Iceberg via Shutterstock)

This month's anthropogenic climate disruption (ACD) dispatch begins with the fact that recently released National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration data show that this March was, by far, the hottest planetary March ever recorded, and the hottest January to March period on record as well.
We are watching unprecedented melting of glaciers across the planet, increasingly high temperature records and epic-level droughts that are now becoming the new normal: Planetary distress signals are increasing in volume.
One of these took place recently in Antarctica, of all places, where two unprecedentedly high temperatures were recorded, providing an ominous sign of accelerating ACD as one of the readings came in at just over 63 degrees Fahrenheit.

"We're going to be out of water."

A fascinating recent report shows that approximately 12 million people living in coastal areas will be displaced during the next 85 years, with areas along the Eastern Seaboard of the United States seeing some of the most dramatic impacts.
Climate Disruption Dispatches
In the US, another report shows that the Navajo Nation is literally dying of thirst, with one of the nation's leaders flatly sounding the alarm by stating, "We're going to be out of water."
A study just published in Geophysical Research Lettersbolsters the case that a period of much faster ACD is imminent, if it hasn't already begun.
On that note, leading climate researchers recently saidthere is a possibility that the world will see a 6-degree Celsius temperature increase by 2100, which would lead to "cataclysmic changes" and "unimaginable consequences for human civilization."
With these developments in mind, let us take a look at recent developments across the planet since the last dispatch.

More Blacks Incarcerated In U.S. Than Apartheid South Africa

 Posted by  Sean Adl-Tabatabai   in  , 
Shocking statistics show the disproportionate number of black people in jail’s and prisons throughout the United States today.  
The U.S. has more prisoners than  Russia, China, Saudi Arabia, North Korea, Iran and many other countries we typically view as undemocratic. The U.S comprises 5% of the worlds population, yet it has 25% of the worlds prisoners.
Research suggests the United States treats its black prisoners unfairly. For instance, did you know …
  • More black people are in a correctional facility than in 1850 slaveholding America
  • More black people are in jail today than there were in Apartheid South Africa
  • More black people are feeling disenfranchised today than the time when the Constitutional Amendment giving black voting rights was ratified 
The reports:
Michelle Alexander – a law school professor who directed Stanford Law School’s Civil Rights Clinic and served as law clerk for Justice Harry Blackmun at the U. S. Supreme Court – notes:
The United States incarcerates a higher percentage of black men than South Africa did at the height of apartheid
Primarily because of these significant incarceration rates, the level of black youth poverty is higher today than it was in 1968
An African-American male is sentenced an average of a 20 to 50 times longer prison term then a white male convicted of the same drug crime.
Over 2.3 million men in America are in prison — about half for drug crimes. Seventy percent of all men imprisoned are black or Hispanic. Thirty years ago, before the “War on Drugs” was implemented, there were only 300,000 people in the American prison system.
There are 2.7 million children whose fathers or mothers are in prison, on probation, or on parole.
There are 7 million Americans either in prison, on probation, or on parole — mostly for selling or using drugs. In many inner cities, eighty percent of young men have prison records. These convictions will remain on their records permanently, limiting their voting rights and their ability to find employment. Currently, in all but two states, citizens with felony convictions are permanently or temporarily prohibited from voting. The United States is the only country that permits permanent disenfranchisement of felons even after completion of their sentences.
- Since 1971, there have been more than 40 million arrests for drug-related offenses.
– Even though blacks and whites have similar levels of drug use, blacks are ten times as likely to be incarcerated for drug crimes.
– “There are more blacks under correctional control today — in prison or jail, on probation or parole — than were enslaved in 1850, a decade before the Civil War began.”
– “As of 2004, more African American men were disenfranchised (due to felon disenfranchisement laws) than in 1870, the year the Fifteenth Amendment was ratified prohibiting laws that explicitly deny the right to vote on the basis of race.”
– In 2005, 4 out of 5 drug arrests were for possession not trafficking, and 80% of the increase in drug arrests in the 1990s was for marijuana.
– There are 50,000 arrests for low-level pot possession a year in New York City, representing one out of every seven cases that turn up in criminal courts. Most of these arrested are black and hispanic men.
Please go here for the original article:

Monday, April 27, 2015

Van Jones: The Hope of Humanity

It's in that convergence of spiritual people becoming active 
and active people becoming spiritual that the hope of humanity now rests.
 Van Jones

Michelle Alexander: The Genius of the Current Caste System

The genius of the current caste system, and what most distinguishes it from its predecessors, is that it appears voluntary. People choose to commit crimes, and that's why they are locked up or locked out, we are told. This feature makes the politics of responsibility particularly tempting, as it appears the system can be avoided with good behavior. But herein lies the trap. All people make mistakes. All of us are sinners. All of us are criminals. All of us violate the law at some point in our lives. In fact, if the worst thing you have ever done is speed ten miles over the speed limit on the freeway, you have put yourself and others at more risk of harm than someone smoking marijuana in the privacy of his or her living room. Yet there are people in the United States serving life sentences for first-time drug offenses, something virtually unheard of anywhere else in the world.

 Michelle Alexander, The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness

Dahr Jamail: The Story of Oppressed Peoples

The story of the many oppressed peoples of the world 
is rarely recorded by the few who oppress. 
We are taught that the truth is objective fact 
as written down by the conquerors.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

David Steindl-Rast: Divine Presence

Any place is sacred ground, 
for it can become a place of encounter 
with the divine Presence.

Brother David Steindl-Rast: Wherever We May Come Alive

Sometimes people get the mistaken notion that spirituality is 
a separate department of life, the penthouse of existence. 
But rightly understood, it is a vital awareness that pervades 
all realms of our being... Wherever we may come alive, 
that is the area in which we are spiritual.
Brother David Steindl-Rast

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Rainer Maria Rilke: Widening Circles

I live my life in widening circle
That reach out across the world. 
I may not ever complete the last one,
But I give myself to it. 

I circle around God, that primordial tower.
I have been circling for thousands of years,
And I still don't know: am I a falcon,
A storm, or a great song? [I, 2]