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July 5, 2005
Rising Phoenix Series #40: Squaring The Circle Times 8
Here you have the latest news and articles that got my attention these past few days as we head in an eventful week with the G8 Summit in Gleneagles, Scotland.
Feel free to share!
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"It is from numberless diverse acts of courage and belief that human history is shaped. Each time a person stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope,and crossing each other from a million different centers of energy and daring, those ripples build a current which can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance."
- Robert Kennedy
"What no-one seemed to notice
was the ever widening gap
between the government and the people
And it became always wider
the whole process of its coming into being, was, above all, diverting. It provided an excuse not to think for people who did not want to think anyway
[It] gave us some dreadful, fundamental things to think about
and kept us so busy with continuous changes and crises and so fascinated
by the machinations of the national enemies, without and within, that we had not time to think about these dreadful things that were growing, little by little, all around us. Each step was so small, so inconsequential, so well explained or, on occasion, regretted, that unless one understood what the whole thing was in principle, what all these little measures
must some day lead to, one no more saw it developing from day to day than a farmer in his field sees the corn growing. Each act
is worse than the last, but only a little worse. You wait for the next and the next. You wait for one great shocking occasion, thinking that others, when such a shock comes will join you in resisting somehow. You dont want to act, or even talk, alone
You dont want to go out of your way to make trouble
but the one great shocking occasion, when tens or hundreds or thousands will join you never comes. Thats the difficulty. The forms are all there, all untouched, all reassuring, the houses, the shops, the jobs, the mealtimes, the visits, the concerts, the cinema, the holidays. But the spirit, which you never noticed because you made the lifelong mistake of identifying with the forms, is changed. Now you live in a world of hate and fear, and the people who hate and fear do not even know it themselves. When everyone is transformed, no one is transformed
You have accepted things you would not have accepted five years ago, a year ago, things your father could never have imagined."
- From They Thought They Were Free: the Germans, 1938-1945 by Milton Mayer (University of Chicago Press, 1955
Note from Jean: I received on July 1 a follow-up letter from Janneke on the Bhagavan, Amma and GAF issue which begins with "First of all I am so pleased to inform you that I am very very happy with todays wonderful message from Kiara Windrider that I will receive $1655 - back from the Golden City at the end of July (more than I asked for)" and then further into it she mentions that "when Barry writes in his letter below that Amma and Bhagavan are not important for them to do their work, giving deekshas that is something completely different than Barrys words and experiences in Kiaras book" and then she explains why and several other things as well. So if you are interested to read the latest developments on this, review http://www.earthrainbownetwork.com/Archives2005/Janneke3.htm
Worthy of Your Attention
Go see the latest fantabulous celestial glyph!
Squares within squares within squares. The first impression of this formation was that of an eight-pointed star. The G8 conference to be held in Scotland was mentioned by some of the people visiting the formation as a possible message. CLIP I counted 271 squares in it!
Vitamins To Be Banned Worldwide
"Big Pharma" Won A Major Victory In Rome, Italy Today. Vitamins And Minerals, For Over-The-Counter Sale Will Be Phased Out, Almost Completely, In Every Country On Planet Earth. By Tim Bolen -- From A Press Release by Diane Miller of The National Health Freedom Coalition .
ONE, THE CAMPAIGN TO MAKE POVERTY HISTORY
Village News and Resources Issue 100 - July, 2005
Various upbeat/inspiring/positive news
1. Global G8 Summit Meditation
2. Feedbacks on LIVE8
3. THE G8 SUMMIT: A FRAUD AND A CIRCUS
4. African leaders call for debt end
5. New crop circle film 'Star Dreams: Space aliens trying to make contact
6. Australia's Amazing Conference (and Work) on Deliberative Innovations
7. A Call to Move Beyond Public Opinion to Public Judgment
8. Open letter to leaders from the Unity-And-Diversity World Council
9. Avnery on Arik's Horror Show
10. Alcohol fuels not so green
11. Oil 'will hit $100 by winter'
12. Oceans in trouble as acid levels rise
13. A Livable Shade of Green
14. Hideous Quotes from Disney/ABC Radio Personality
15. New Presidential Postage Stamp
Activists Pressure World Leaders (July 5)
EDINBURGH, Scotland - Activists kept up pressure on leaders of the world's richest nations Tuesday to lift Africa out of poverty, but Britain's Treasury chief said those who believe human misery can be eliminated "with the stroke of a pen" may be disappointed by the results of this week's G-8 summit. As Irish singer Bob Geldof energized by his Live 8 concerts' success joined the demonstrators in Scotland, police warned they will crack down on any further violence by anarchists and others bent on spoiling the summit. About 100 arrested during clashes a day earlier appeared in court Tuesday. The Make Poverty History campaign launched around the summit has been endorsed by the Dalai Lama, Pope Benedict XVI and Nelson Mandela, along with scores of others around the world. CLIP
Protesters blockade submarine base ahead of the G8 (July 5) http://www.gulf-times.com/site/topics/article.asp?cu_no=2&item_no=43313&version=1&template_id=38&parent_id=20
FASLANE, Scotland: More than 700 youthful protesters yesterday staged a blockade at the home of Britains nuclear submarine fleet, hoping to send a message to the Group of Eight (G8) leaders who meet in Scotland this week.Ministry of Defence police inside the Faslane base arrested a 24-year old man who infiltrated the oil depot, but otherwise there were no incidents as a line of police in fluorescent yellow jackets kept back the demonstrators.The protest - the eighth at Faslane in the past five years - was staged by Project Ploughshares and the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament ahead of the Gleneagles summit of the worlds eight top industrialised nations.It was one of a series leading up to Wednesdays start of the three-day summit hosted by Prime Minister Tony Blair. In Scotlands capital Edinburgh, where more than 200,000 marched peacefully on Saturday against poverty in Africa, riot police were on high alert for a potentially violent street protest called The Carnival for Full Enjoyment. More than 10,000 police have been deployed at Gleneagles and elsewhere in Scotland in the biggest security operation ever mounted in Britain for an international summit. This protest is about anti-militarism and the G8, spokeswoman Ruth Tanner of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament said at the main North Gate of Faslane, home of the Royal Navys Trident-toting strategic submarines. Ninety percent of arms dealing comes out of G8 countries. You cant make promises about poverty when youre pumping so much into arms, Tanner said, alluding to Blairs hopes for the G8 summit to act on poverty in Africa. CLIP
Veterans Group Issues "Declaration of Impeachment" (July 4)
St. Louis - A national veterans' organization today issued a "Declaration of Impeachment" and announced it is beginning an online petition to remove President Bush from office for crimes committed during the invasion and occupation of Iraq. Using the same language as the original "Declaration of Independence," Veterans For Peace cited many of the same reasons to remove George Bush that Thomas Jefferson cited to separate from King George of England. And in a modern version of the signing of the Declaration, VFP announced the posting of its online impeachment petition. CLIP Their petition is at http://www.veteransforpeace.org/impeachment/petition2.htm
Revealed: grim world of new Iraqi torture camps (July 3)
Secret torture chambers, the brutal interrogation of prisoners, murders by paramilitaries with links to powerful ministries... Foreign affairs editor Peter Beaumont in Baghdad uncovers a grim trail of abuse carried out by forces loyal to the new Iraqi government. (...) The gruesome detail is important. Hanging by the arms in cuffs, scorching of the body with something like an iron and knee-capping are claimed to be increasingly prevalent in the new Iraq. Now evidence is emerging that appears to substantiate those claims. Not only Iraqis make the allegations. International officials describe the methods in disgusted but hushed tones, laying them at the door of the increasingly unaccountable forces attached to Iraq's Ministry of the Interior. The only question that remains is the level of the co-ordination of the abuse: whether Iraq is stumbling towards a policy of institutionalised torture or whether these are incidents carried out by rogue elements. Six months ago, Human Rights Watch (HRW) laid out a catalogue of alleged abuses being applied to those suspected of terrorism in Iraq and called for an independent complaints body in Iraq. But as the insurgency has grown hotter, so too, it appears, have been the methods employed in the dirty counter-insurgency war. To add to HRW's allegations of beatings, electric shocks, arbitrary arrest, forced confessions and detention without trial, The Observer can add its own charges These include the most brutal kinds of torture, with methods resurrected from the time of Saddam; of increasingly widespread extra-judicial executions; and of the existence of a 'ghost' network of detention facilities - in parallel with those officially acknowledged - that exist beyond all accountability to international human rights monitors, NGOs and even human rights officials of the new Iraqi government. What is most shocking is that it is done under the noses of US and UK officials, some of whom admit that they are aware of the abuses being perpetrated by units who are diverting international funding to their dirty war. CLIP
Missile & remote control systems added to small jets before 9-11; same parts found at Pentagon (May 26)
Two civilian defense contractor employees--told to remain silent--say other workers quietly retro-fitted missile and remote control systems onto A-3 jets at Colorado public airport prior to September 11 when similar A-3 parts much smaller than a Boeing 757 were found at Pentagon. Presidential candidate says scores of retired and active military and intelligence officials would testify before current grand jury probing government involvement in 9/11 attacks. CLIP - Recommended by Bill Derau firstname.lastname@example.org>
Increase in the Number of Documents Classified by the Government (03 July 2005)
Washington - Driven in part by fears of terrorism, government secrecy has reached a historic high by several measures, with federal departments classifying documents at the rate of 125 a minute as they create new categories of semi-secrets bearing vague labels like "sensitive security information." A record 15.6 million documents were classified last year, nearly double the number in 2001, according to the federal Information Security Oversight Office. Meanwhile, the declassification process, which made millions of historical documents available annually in the 1990's, has slowed to a relative crawl, from a high of 204 million pages in 1997 to just 28 million pages last year. The increasing secrecy - and its rising cost to taxpayers, estimated by the office at $7.2 billion last year - is drawing protests from a growing array of politicians and activists, including Republican members of Congress, leaders of the independent commission that studied the Sept. CLIP
Panel Affirms Radiation Link to Cancer (June 29)
Even very low doses of radiation pose a risk of cancer over a person's lifetime, a National Academy of Sciences panel concluded Wednesday. It rejected some scientists' arguments that tiny doses are harmless or may in fact be beneficial.The findings could influence the maximum radiation levels that are allowed at abandoned reactors and other nuclear sites. The conclusions also raise warnings about excessive exposure to radiation for medical purposes such as repeated whole-body CT scans."It is unlikely that there is a threshold (of radiation exposure) below which cancers are not induced," scientists said in the report.While at low doses "the number of radiation-induced cancers will be small ... as the overall lifetime exposure increases, so does the risk," the experts said. CLIP
Petrocollapse: Can you live without indoor running water?
The answer to the question "Can you live without indoor running water?" is simple: you'll have to. The passing of abundant oil is not shaping up to be a soft landing for those with the fattest asses. And in this world, we all know which nation leads the way in obesity. Contrast this with the image of slender villagers carrying water casks on their heads, and how their food supply tends to be very local: this will be the envy of U.S. consumers caught short. You can live without functional plumbing, but you cannot live without water. Some indoor plumbing may work after the energy crisis hits with all its might. But, as this report endeavors to warn, the water in your outdoor environment -- such as it is -- will be what you live on (or that doesn't allow you to live at all). What a discovery for the nature deniers to experience. Will frightened hoards be the rule in U.S. cities rather than the exception? The average amount of water consumed per capita in the U.S. is 183 gallons a day (1990; U.S. EPA). This reflects public water supply usage, and it's twice as high in the western U.S. as in the east. One reason is that irrigation uses 81% of water in the nation. Problems with irrigation: huge energy demand for pumping; drawdowns of ancient aquifers, and salinization. (...) U.S. officials in power today will be laughed about in future, if they're lucky. One hears of future hatred for our whole generation, even of everyone alive today -- although that's going too far. I try not to pay too much mind to the constant errors and schemes of the wealthy elite and power players. I wish I could say it's because I'm busy writing songs. My main job that I don't like to be distracted from is to point out the main runaway freight trains on the tracks: a collapsing economy and nature batting last. It sure would be nice if the little boys in DC and London (and in most capital cities) would behave themselves, but what can ya do? Vote for a different little boy? It's too late to stop the train wrecks starting to overshadow human drama of the so-called status quo. I say "so-called" because the status quo of almost anything is going to soon become history. There's good and bad in that, but those many people and other species that don't make it are not going to appreciate the good aspects of complete collapse. CLIP
Documents Said to Reveal Karl Rove as Source in Plame Case
Democrat Calls on Rove to Make Statement on Probe (July 3)
A Senate Democrat called on Karl Rove, President George W. Bush's top political adviser, to make a public statement denying any role in the 2003 leak of an undercover intelligence agent's identity. Senator Charles Schumer, a New York Democrat, said that while there is no evidence that Rove leaked the identity of Central Intelligence Agency operative Valerie Plame to reporters, Rove should address the matter himself instead of issuing denials through his attorney.
Omega-News Collection 2. July 2005
AN INSPIRED INITIATIVE WITH AN EXCELLENT SUGGESTED MEDITATION TEMPLATE
From: "Takara & Raven" email@example.com>
Subject: Global G8 Summit Meditation
Date: 5 Jul 2005
Thanks for all the work you do.
I was inspired to create the following. Please pass it along to your network.
July 5th - 7th, 8:00 p.m. Wherever You Are In the World, Global Meditation
Several years ago I received the following powerful prayer technology while in meditation. There has never been a better time to use it.
Please join together individually or in groups on the Eve of the G8 Summit, and the following evenings while the event is taking place, to set the collective intention for this important gathering. Share this meditation with friends, colleagues, everyone you can think of who shares concern about global issues and is interested in peace, plenty, joy, and harmony for this world that we all share.
True prayer is the feeling or vibration that you reverberate out when you are thinking a thought. So the only way to manifest an intention is to be in a glorious mood when you set the intention. With that in mind:
Close your eyes.
Take a few slow deep breaths.
Focus your attention on your heart.
Think of everything that you can think of that you are grateful for. And give thanks.
Think of several things you love to do that bring you joy. Feel that joy.
Think of times when you felt glorious and just sit within that feeling.
Feel the love of the One showering you with blessings. See or sense this as a beam or column of light coming down and engulfing you from above. See this light surrounding you and continuing down into the heart of Mother Earth.
Allow this loving light to penetrate your every cell. Breathe it in. Feel the luscious splendor of direct connection with Source.
I now call you to remember the rapture of Source Love, Divine Perfection, Oneness, the Peace that Passes Understanding. Bask in the radiance of this love.
Breathe it in and breathe it out.
Feel this love in all that you are.
Call on your spiritual allies the angels, your Higher Self and other guides that assist you. You are reminded at this time that your asking is their invitation to assist.
Imagine yourself now part of a gigantic circle of people praying this prayer. Imagine, if you can, that every person who has ever prayed for a positive shift for planet earth is now standing side by side in this giant circle women, men, and children of every race, every religion, every continent, every country, every economic level, every level of health, every level of happiness, every level of peace. Each has called in the light and called in assistance from beyond the veil. See these people in a giant circle with all the guides in an even larger circle surrounding them. Each person is standing in their own pillar of light completely linked up with their Higher Self and Original Source Creator. See their radiance.
In the center of the circle, see or sense a huge golden sphere of light - a giant ball of golden white light pulsating with the love, the creative energy, the light that is the One.
Place planet earth inside this golden sphere. See our planet bathed in love, in light, in radiance, in joy.
See each person sending a beam of light and of love from their heart to this golden sphere. Send such a beam from your own heart.
See the love passing from your heart, and many other hearts, into the sphere and returning from the sphere as Source love.
As more love passes, more love is created, so the love and light continues to grow and expand and become deeper and more vast.
See the sphere begin to slowly spin. The energy from the love is raising the vibration of the people, of the sphere, of mother earth, continuing to increase the vibration. Feel the pulsing of the love coming off the earth and the sphere radiating out into the Universe. Let that love envelope you.
In that space, envision a new earth. See people laughing. See lush gardens and clean water everywhere. See joy and well being in everyone and everything. Feel how vibrant and alive you feel by being in this world. And realize that every person is fundamentally important to the whole. See how each person, place, and thing is intricately linked to each other and to you. Feel what it feels like to be an individual and to be the One simultaneously.
Hold that feeling and then reverberate out to the Universe that you wish for that new world to manifest now. Do it joyfully and from the heart.
Send blessings to all those who are making global decisions. And know that every decision you make also impacts the entire world.
See yourself extending a hand of support to another. Regardless of your circumstances, there is always something of value you have to offer, even if it is simply your radiant smile.
Feel this feeling of love as long as you would like.
Slowly open your eyes.
Send gigantic roots deep into mother earth and bring your awareness fully back into your body right here right now.
You may return at any time to this Divine connection by simply remembering the feeling of being there.
Date: 02 Jul 2005
Subject: Re: LIVE8 - THE BIGGEST SPIRITUAL EVENT EVER
From: Janneke firstname.lastname@example.org>
Thank you so much for sharing! My TV was on today. I signed the petition of live 8 and also sent my photograph. I ask everyone to do so on: http://www.live8.com
Five minutes ago was Madonna with the spiritual with a fantastic choir: A prayer, one of my favourite songs.
I am so grateful to Bono and all the artists and organisers. Also to TV to broadcast this.
For me: this is spirituality by heart. I love this.
Two weeks ago was the celebration of 50 Years UNICEF on TV- with our queen and many very rich people in the audience.
They showed a film about two little boys standing near a new water well, which was built. When I saw that I started to cry. And after that I felt so much anger inside myself. Because 35 years ago I filmed the same in Africa- for fundraising. And now after so many years this situation is worse! Charity does not work! Everyone has the right to live! In Philadelphia actor Will Smith showed us the Declaration of Independence. That is so wonderful. He added that we need to create the situation of Inter-Independence. For me that is real Oneness.
Only when a few top people come together, also our queen, than the problem is solved in one day. When I look in my own circle of friends: One woman friend founded 2 schools in Ghana, she worked there many years- and organised school buildings- and all the stuff they needed. She also gave lessons there many years. And now she goes every year to help them grow. Another friend (my ex-colleague of the Dutch TV News) started 2 schools in India. The first pupils years ago are on the moment students on the India University. Last month Dutch people invited them to come here for a sport event. This was a enormous success. When we want, we can do so much.
Yes today is a wonderful day. This gives so much hope for so many people.
Thank you so much Jean for sharing
From: "Doug" email@example.com>
Subject: Re LIVE8 - THE BIGGEST SPIRITUAL EVENT EVER
Date: 3 Jul 2005
The good side of live-aid party is that a lot of people realise that mankind has a poverty problem, that is starting to effect us all; by means of crime, disease, drug-abuse, terrorism and war. The sad side is that they don't know how to actually eliminate the injustice that is the cause of both the problem and its consequences.
Date: 2 Jul 2005
From: Patty-Lynne Herlevi firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: Re: LIVE8
I know some people are getting excited about this event, but I am not one of them. As someone who has worked in the world and traditional music community, it is the smaller more heartfelt events that I believe make a difference.
When I have meditated, the information I have received about Live Aid is one, it is contrived, there is tons of ego involved on the parts of all the big name performers. Just look at how much publicity they're receiving. Two, many of these big name groups and their record labels etc jam the radio airwaves in countries around the world and also take up a great deal of space in record shops, thus keeping out the traditional music of those countries. This is a form of globalization, but no one sees this because people seem to think if music is involved, it must some how be sacred.
I am suprised to see that various spiritual music such as Gregorian chants will be performed. I wonder by who? And one of the complaints from the world music community is that musicians from Africa and the other developing country should be the main focus of the Live Aid and not all those big name pop stars. After all, these musicians and their fellow country men and women do not want to be seen as charity victims--oh, let's go help the poor Africans or South Americans and pat ourselves on the back. This is insulting and I have heard people of these nations commenting on this.
The reason those countries suffer is because of imperialism under the guise of globalization. They suffer from exploitation of the G8 countries and bringing out pop stars and broadcasting concerts worldwide is not going to solve this problem. These pop stars are part of the globalization problem!
I am not saying people who attend the concerts or watch them on their TV sets or computers don't care, but unless these individuals change their lifestyles and stop supporting the large corporations bent on globalization, they will not make any difference.
If I join a prayer or meditation it is to wake up the consiousness of all these folks, the viewers and the performers. I am still coming from a Franciscan state of mind and while I do not condemn anyone for being wealthy or famous, I still think there is a lot of ego involved in all of that. I have known for a long time that musicians on that large of a scale aren't losing anything by performing at a well publicized event. When they mention that they are forgoing their usual fee or whatever, it doesn't have any impact on me.
But if more humble musicians of little means volunteer their time, that is meaningful.
Sorry to go on like this, but I don't think that the 3D universe is waking up just because of this concert. As you will soon see, it will not make any difference. The music industry needs to crumble with the rest of the economy and be built on humility. We can not fix what ails us with a bandaid. We need to completely turn our back on all 3D reality including this concert.
Personally I think the Eden Project's Africa Calling is a more heartfelt event and I do support that effort along with The Festival in the Desert which was helping Tuareg people of Mali long before all this hype about Live Aid.
Note from Jean: I agree with Patty that the argument can be made that this is the ultimate in stealthy globalization, flattening all other cultures like a big English steamroller - after all I heard only English songs in all the broadcasts today from all concert cities - and thus sadly ironic in itself. Yet I also see a Western world - especially European countries - that is trying to make up for centuries of pillaging Africa's natural resources and thus using the G8 Summit as a moment in history to take a firm stand against injustice and complacency in the face of continuing human misery. Will it change anything for the poorest of the poorest beyond giving us all a good conscience that for one day we have grooved to a common global tune of commiseration and compassion? Only time will tell, but in the meantime we have all got another stirring reminder that we are all one global family and that we need to care for each other no matter how difficult and time-consuming it will take.
THE NEXT DAY PATTY ADDED:
Thank you for your additional comment. More than anything I would love to see the world community come together, but we are being hoodwinked.
The large record companies more than likely see this as an opportunity to sell more product at these various concerts, the artists involved have been taking up a lot of space in the media, again clogging up the system so that other deserving artists cannot get their voices heard. The voices of people from the developing nations have almost been shut out of the situation which saddens me because that is the voice we need to hear the most. You can however, hear those voices on community radio stations and online.
Also I am not fooled by the G8 Summit agenda. Yes, they are erasing the debts of developing countries but at the price of another type of imperialism called globalization and privatization of those countries valuable resources. I wish I could remember which public affairs show I was listening to when the reporters mentioned the high price the developing countries are going to pay. The G8 countries are not doing anyone a favor by erasing those debts because there are strings attached and people need to know this. The developing countries will be worse off than they are now with poverty ever increasing unless people wake up in time.
There are many traditional and world music festivals around the world that are worth attending that are not so highly publicized but are love-centered. WOMAD is one of the larger festivals of this kind--a place to hear and see traditional and world music as well as, meet people from all over the world.
I say no to Live Aid, but yes to these other festivals. For those who can, attend the Vancouver Folk Music Festival which takes place in Jericho Beach every July. Here is a festival that takes sustainability seriously and if you want to feel oneness, this is certainly the place to be for that. I encourage people to check out the smaller festivals and remember that extravagant events often lack love-centeredness. Mainly because the world is still very much entrenched in 3D and we need to stay weary of that. There are very few of us who can see past 3D and a lot of immitators/charlatans who cannot walk their talk but try to fool us by using spiritual words. They are entrenched in 3D thinking which is about their bottom line--usually about exploiting others to make a quick buck. (Are those Live Aid concerts free or do people have to pay a hefty price for the privilege of attending the concerts? IT WAS FREE EVERYWHERE!) And forget watching a concert on TV, I gave up television a long time ago.
I encourage everyone to look beyond the gloss and see that which is real and holds up through time. Otherwise, you will wake up the morning after with a huge hangover from a false spiritual high. Seek the real thing--it is rare, but if you seek it, it will come to you. Remember everything, but love is an illusion anyway.
LIVE 8 MAKING A POSITIVE DIFFERENCE
Did you catch any of the Live 8 concert this past weekend? Wow, what a powerful experience! I am sometimes very pleasantly surprised by the people of this world. It is so easy to look at what isnt working. But how many times do we get to see compassion and people committed to change on the scale we saw it for this event?I was delighted that Will Smith, the star of Independence Day, said that on the Fourth of July we celebrate Independence, but today we celebrate our Interdependence. We are one world. We all matter. What is happening in Africa is not O.K. Everyone began snapping their fingers every 3 seconds. Every 3 seconds a child dies in Africa from starvation and disease. As we began snapping our fingers, Jes looked at me with those big inquisitive blue eyes and said, Every time we snap our fingers a child dies in Africa? And I said, Yes. It provided a deep level of understanding for him. The concerts held simultaneously on 10 stages around the globe potentially drew viewers in the billions. The message was that we want the G8 leaders who begin their work in Scotland on July 6th to take serious steps to end poverty on our planet. You can visit http://www.live8live.com to sign the petition indicating that you want to see global change. And the One Campaign website is here: http://www.one.org/About.aspx (Taken from Spirit of Nature Speaks - Inspiration for the Soul - Issue 68 - with Raven and Takara)
Live 8 'a money-spinner' (05/07/2005)
London - Rock group Pink Floyd vowed on Tuesday to donate all profits made from their greatest hits album to charity, after record sales soared following the group's performance at Live 8. The legendary British band, who had not played together for 20 years before Saturday's concert in London - part of a series worldwide to draw attention to the campaign to reduce poverty in Africa - saw sales of Echoes increase by 1 300% in the British capital alone. Guitarist Dave Gilmour said the money should be used to "save lives". "Though the main objective has been to raise consciousness (of the plight of Africa) and put pressure on the G8 leaders, I will not profit from the concert," he said. Record sales of all London's Live 8 performers have shot up since the event, with increases of 863% for The Who's Then and Now, 500% for the Eurythmics' Best of album, and 412% for Dido's Life for Rent. CLIP
More related news at http://news.google.ca/?ncl=http://newpaper.asia1.com.sg/news/story/0,4136,91037,00.html&hl=en
In his latest column for the New Statesman, John Pilger writes about the coming G8 summit in Scotland and says that the illusion of an anti establishment crusade led by pop stars serves to dilute a great political movement of anger.
22 Jun 2005
THE G8 SUMMIT: A FRAUD AND A CIRCUS
By John Pilger
The front page of the London Observer on 12 June announced, "55 billion dollar Africa debt deal 'a victory for millions'." The "victory for millions" is a quotation of Bob Geldof, who said, "Tomorrow 280 million Africans will wake up for the first time in their lives without owing you or me a penny...". The nonsense of this would be breathtaking if the reader's breath had not already been extracted by the unrelenting sophistry of Geldof, Bono, Blair, the Observer et al.
Africa's imperial plunder and tragedy have been turned into a circus for the benefit of the so-called G8 leaders due in Scotland next month and those of us willing to be distracted by the barkers of the circus: the establishment media and its "celebrities". The illusion of an anti establishment crusade led by pop stars - a cultivated, controlling image of rebellion - serves to dilute a great political movement of anger. In summit after summit, not a single significant "promise" of the G8 has been kept, and the "victory for millions" is no different. It is a fraud - actually a setback to reducing poverty in Africa. Entirely conditional on vicious, discredited economic programmes imposed by the World Bank and the IMF, the "package" will ensure that the "chosen" countries slip deeper into poverty.
Is it any surprise that this is backed by Blair and his treasurer, Gordon Brown, and George Bush; even the White House calls it a "milestone"? For them, it is an important facade, held up by the famous and the naive and the inane. Having effused about Blair, Geldof describes Bush as "passionate and sincere" about ending poverty. Bono has called Blair and Brown "the John and Paul of the global development stage". Behind this front, rapacious power can "re-order" the lives of millions in favour of totalitarian corporations and their control of the world's resources.
There is no conspiracy; the goal is no secret. Gordon Brown spells it out in speech after speech, which liberal journalists choose to ignore, preferring the Treasury spun version. The G8 communique announcing the "victory for millions" is unequivocal. Under a section headed "G8 proposals for HIPC debt cancellation", it says that debt relief to poor countries will be granted only if they are shown "adjusting their gross assistance flows by the amount given": in other words, their aid will be reduced by the same amount as the debt relief. So they gain nothing. Paragraph Two states that "it is essential" that poor countries "boost private sector development" and ensure "the elimination of impediments to private investment, both domestic and foreign".
The "55 billion" claimed by the Observer comes down, at most, to 1 billion spread over 18 countries. This will almost certainly be halved - providing less than six days' worth of debt payments - because Blair and Brown want the IMF to pay its share of the "relief" by revaluing its vast stock of gold, and passionate and sincere Bush has said no. The first unmentionable is that the gold was plundered originally from Africa. The second unmentionable is that debt payments are due to rise sharply from next year, more than doubling by 2015. This will mean not "victory for millions", but death for millions.
At present, for every 1 dollar of "aid" to Africa, 3 dollars are taken out by western banks, institutions and governments, and that does not account for the repatriated profit of transnational corporations. Take the Congo. Thirty-two corporations, all of them based in G8 countries, dominate the exploitation of this deeply impoverished, minerals-rich country, where millions have died in the "cause" of 200 years of imperialism. In the Cote d'Ivoire, three G8 companies control 95 per cent of the processing and export of cocoa: the main resource. The profits of Unilever, a British company long in Africa, are a third larger than Mozambique's GDP. One American company, Monsanto - of genetic engineering notoriety - controls 52 per cent of the maize seed in South Africa, that country's staple food.
Blair could not give two flying faeces for the people of Africa. Ian Taylor at the University of St Andrews used the Freedom of Information Act to learn that while Blair was declaiming his desire to "make poverty history", he was secretly cutting the government's Africa desk officers and staff. At the same time, his "department for international development" was forcing, by the back door, privatisation of water supply in Ghana for the benefit of British investors. This ministry lives by the dictates of its "Business Partnership Unit", which is devoted to finding "ways in which DfID can improve the enabling environment for productive investment overseas and... contribute to the operation of the financial sector".
Poverty reduction? Of course not. A charade promotes the modern imperial ideology known as neoliberalism, yet it is almost never reported that way and the connections are seldom made. In the issue of the Observer announcing "victory for millions" was a secondary news item that British arms sales to Africa had passed 1 billion. One British arms client is Malawi, which pays out more on the interest on its debt than its entire health budget, despite the fact that 15 per cent of its population has HIV. Gordon Brown likes to use Malawi as example of why "we should make poverty history", yet Malawi will not receive a penny of the "victory for millions" relief.
The charade is a gift for Blair, who will try anything to persuade the public to "move on" from the third unmentionable: his part in the greatest political scandal of the modern era, his crime in Iraq. Although essentially an opportunist, as his lying demonstrates, he presents himself as a Kiplingesque imperialist. His "vision for Africa" is as patronising and exploitative as a stage full of white pop stars (with black tokens now added). His messianic references to "shaking the kaleidoscope" of societies about which he understands little and "watching the pieces fall" has translated into seven violent interventions abroad, more than any British prime minister for half a century. Bob Geldof, an Irishman at his court, duly knighted, says nothing about this.
The protesters going to the G8 summit at Gleneagles ought not to allow themselves to be distracted by these games. If inspiration is needed, along with evidence that direct action can work, they should look to Latin America's mighty popular movements against total locura capitalista (total capitalist folly). They should look to Bolivia, the poorest country in Latin America, where an indigenous movement has Blair's and Bush's corporate friends on the run, and Venezuela, the only country in the world where oil revenue has been diverted for the benefit of the majority, and Uruguay and Argentina, Ecuador and Peru, and Brazil's great landless people's movement. Across the continent, ordinary people are standing up to the old Washington-sponsored order. "Que se vayan todos!" (Out with them all!) say the crowds in the streets.
Much of the propaganda that passes for news in our own society is given to immobilising and pacifying people and diverting them from the idea that they can confront power. The current babble about Europe, of which no reporter makes sense, is part of this; yet the French and Dutch "no" votes are part of the same movement as in Latin America, returning democracy to its true home: that of power accountable to the people, not to the "free market" or the war policies of rampant bullies. And this is just a beginning.
Read more statements by Pilger at http://www.johnpilger.com/print
Bush rejects Kyoto-style G8 deal (4 July, 2005)
President George W Bush has ruled out US backing for any Kyoto-style deal on climate change at the G8 summit. Speaking to British broadcaster ITV, he said he would instead be talking to fellow leaders about new technologies as a way of tackling global warming. But he conceded that the issue was one "we've got to deal with" and said human activity was "to some extent" to blame. Tony Blair is hoping for agreements on climate change and Africa when he hosts the summit in Scotland this week. Mr Bush said he would resist measures that were similar to the 1997 UN Kyoto Protocol, involving legally binding reductions on carbon emissions, which Washington never ratified. "If this looks like Kyoto, the answer is no," he said in an interview with ITV's Tonight With Trevor McDonald programme to be broadcast on Monday. "The Kyoto treaty would have wrecked our economy, if I can be blunt." He said he hoped the other G8 leaders would "move beyond the Kyoto debate" and consider new technologies. He said the US was investing in developing clean energy techniques such as sequestration of carbon dioxide in underground wells, hydrogen-powered cars and zero emission power stations. Divided opinion UK Environment Secretary Margaret Beckett told the BBC's Today programme that negotiations were likely to "go to the wire". "I think what matters more than the exact theology is where people end up," she said. "What we hope for is quite an ambitious action plan on steps that the international community can take and also agreement to try to take forward discussion and dialogue about the future." French President Jacques Chirac has said he is hopeful of reaching a deal on climate change, but German environment minister Juergen Trittin said he was "very sceptical on the willingness of the US to move". One of Mr Bush's main domestic critics on global warming, Senator John McCain, called the president's approach on the issue "disgraceful". "I'm not quite sure how you'll bridge the gap," he told the BBC's Today programme, but he said he hoped the president and Mr Blair would be able to forge a compromise. CLIP
Bush, the Obstacle to a Deal on Global Warming (July 5)
(...) Global warming was not mentioned in the global triumph of goodwill for Africa that was Live8. They did not sing about the warming atmosphere from the stage in Hyde Park, or in Philadelphia, Berlin or Rome. But if the unforgettable coalition of singers and performers could have looked into Africa's future rather than at the haunting images of its past and present, they surely would have done. For everything that makes Africa hard to inhabit today will be made harder by global warming. Hunger will be made more acute; shortage of clean water will be more degrading; disease will be more painful, crippling and deadly; natural disasters will be more overwhelming. Climate change threatens to vitiate all the efforts to help Africa that the rich world can possibly come up with, all the debt cancellation, the aid increases and the trade liberalisation. Two weeks ago, a group of British aid agencies and environmental groups, from Oxfam to Greenpeace, forcefully pointed out this awkward truth. Their report, Africa - Up In Smoke? insisted the issues of African poverty and climate change are inseparably linked, and the first cannot be solved without dealing with the second. It was a direct challenge to the simple Live8 theme, that if only the economic basis of Africa's future can be sorted by a properly responsible rich world, the continent will come good. It will not, the report said, if we do not tackle the warming atmosphere. (...) The scientific consensus that climate change is real and happening is now overwhelming. But that is to reckon without the astonishing attempts by the Bush administration in its second term to deny the science. Yesterday, however, there were reports that summit "sherpas" had managed to agree a text all G8 leaders could agree to, which, although not stating that global warming was happening, did state that scientists said it was. On such subtleties are summits sometimes rescued. (...) As we report elsewhere, in the next 20 years, China, India and other developing nations will produce gigantic emissions of CO2 as their economies boom. Yet they have no commitments to cut those emissions. If they do not tackle them eventually, all the CO2 savings the US and the other rich nations can make will go for nothing, because emissions from the emerging economies will more than make up for rich countries' cut. So Mr Blair wants to start a climate change dialogue with the developing world, reassuring them they can continue to grow but offering to help them grow cleanly, by using new energy-saving technology as soon as it comes on stream. In all the righteous, clamorous protest about aid, trade, and debt in Hyde Park, amid the Geldof-inspired, rock'n'roll-fuelled euphoria, it was easy to forget that Africa can be ruined by the atmosphere as well as by economics. But in that luxury golfing hotel on the edge of the Scottish Highlands, it is going to be forcefully remembered. Can America prevent the rich countries agreeing what to do about climate change? That's the other vital question at Gleneagles alongside Africa and its poverty and, last night, the omens did not look good. CLIP
African leaders call for debt end
Leaders at the African Union summit in Libya are calling for full debt cancellation for all African nations on the eve of the G8 summit in Scotland.
They welcomed last month's $40bn debt relief package agreed by the G8, but said they wanted all $350bn of African debt to be written off.
AU leaders also called for fairer trade with the developed world, including an end to agricultural subsidies.
A final communique from the summit is still awaited.
At the summit, the leaders also pressed for two permanent seats for Africa on the UN Security Council.
A decision on which two countries these should be was put off.
African Union chairman and Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo told the 53 delegates at the summit in the coastal town of Sirte that the continent was moving from a past of military coups to a future of good governance.
Mr Obasanjo, who will be attending the G8 summit in Gleneagles, called for "massive" financial help from the West.
"This is not the time for a lot of talk but more of a time for serious and concerted action," he told the gathering.
The BBC's Mike Donkin says the meeting in Libya has also been about proving to hopefully committed Western partners that African leaders will honour their side of any future bargain.
Mr Obasanjo's remarks contrasted with those of Col Muammar Gaddafi on Monday, who said Africa should refuse all conditional aid and some offers of help from former colonial powers.
In a 30-minute speech which received muted applause from African leaders, the Libyan leader said: "We are not beggars at the doorsteps of the rich.
"If you give a poor man money, you don't ask him to change his clothes or the way he prays."
UN Secretary General Kofi Annan told reporters in Sirte most countries would prefer to trade themselves out of poverty rather than live on handouts.
He said the challenge beyond aid would be the abandonment of restrictive trade embargoes and subsidies so that the countries of Africa could compete more fairly.
Meanwhile, a conference of international business leaders and six African presidents is getting under way in London, charged with drawing up an action plan for development in Africa to present to the G8 summit.
Forwarded by "Mark Graffis" email@example.com>
New crop circle film 'Star Dreams: Space aliens trying to make contact
June 25, 2005
A Canadian filmmaker whose documentary on crop circles will be shown Monday in Santa Fe says he believes the phenomena are caused by a higher intelligence trying to bring about a "great awakening."
"We're being communicated to by a higher intelligence -- no doubt -- and we're basically ignoring it," said Robert Nichol. "So that's my motive for doing the film. ... I'm really pleased to spread the good news that we're not alone in the universe."
Star Dreams focuses on circles and other geometric patterns that mysteriously appear in fields of grain or flowers, rice patties and stands of trees as well as on ice, snow and salt flats.
Nichol, who said he has produced more than 25 films, believes crop circles are "realizations of higher consciousness presented to humanity at this time to aid in this great awakening process that's happening on this planet now. So in that sense, it's a message to humanity."
Crop circles were first mentioned in the eighth century in Britain, but Nichol said they are appearing more frequently, with 11,000 occurrences documented worldwide since 1980. He said the patterns are becoming more complex with some as large as 800 feet in diameter, yet accurate to within a quarter of an inch.
While a few have turned out to be hoaxes, he said, "it defies common sense to say they're all man-made."
Nichol, who lives in an area called the Sunshine Coast, near Vancouver, B.C., said Star Dreams hasn't been picked up by mainstream theaters, but is becoming an underground hit.
He said he was planning to attend a screening at the Unity Church in Boulder, Colo., and decided to travel on to Santa Fe because he had heard it was a New Age center with many "metaphysical types." He said he also wanted to visit Judith Moore, a Northern New Mexico resident who wrote Crop Circles Revealed.
"It's a hit," Nichol said of his film. "The audiences are very deeply moved by this. They leave the theater feeling hopeful and uplifted. Some of them burst into tears wen they see certain symbols. So it's working, and actually, I've found that the American audiences are far more receptive than the Canadian audiences for some reason. I guess they're hungry for this kind of material down there."
NOTE FROM JEAN: Amongst the numerous comments posted below this article, I found the following on to be quite prescient and respectful of the true sacred, universal nature of this unique phenomenon:
By Glenn Wensley (Submitted: 07/01/2005)
Hello from the uk! The crop circle season is in full swing, and a number of new crop circles have appeared, but of course, the question upon most people's minds whilst admiring the intricate craft of the circle's makers is...are they hoaxes or are they made by benign extra-terrestrial intelligences prepping us all for some profound future revelation (I do not mean this in the biblical sense)?
I think one thing is for sure, they are not made by 'natural' effects, such as wind or even amourous hedgehogs, they are definitely designed, and bear designs that appeal primarily to human aesthetic consciousness. Thus, if they are not made by man, they can only be made by off-world intelligences.
Many people have gone out their way to claim a circle's design and appearance, but none have managed to repeat the feat in daylight, and to the same degree of quality, precision, and beauty, as the circle they supposedly created in pitch darkness during the night, and also, without damaging the crop beyond that that occurs in a so-called genuine circle.
Of course, the verdict is yet still to be delivered. It might be that we will never know, but seeing that the circles have been appearing in my country for hundreds of years, I doubt that they are going to disappear from our appreciation of them. Indeed, their presence creates a ambience of wonder and awe, and channels the thought along synapses generally less used.
Whatever their purpose, and whatever the message of the designs, the 'real' message may in fact be in their very appearance, in the fact that they are there, and continue to be there, year upon year, re-appearing, re-awakening our consciousness to them, making us think for a second or two, or perhaps, causing the question to rise in our minds: are we really not alone?
Note from Jean: Check the latest celestial glyphs at http://www.cropcircleconnector.com/2005/june2005.html (archives of June pictures)
http://www.cropcircleconnector.com/2005/july2005a.html (archives of July pictures)
They called it the Zodiac but when I look at the flat diagram of it it feels more like the Stargate as featured in the Stargate TV series (of which I'm a huge fan).
The positioning and design of this one is fairly interesting too
The non-symmetry in formations 2005 (June 28)
I particularly recommend to your attention this article with several recent glyphs shown as examples. The author Chris Watts introduces it this way: "This season seems to be the introduction more subtle changes and breaks from the traditional symmetry found in past formations. Where formations were originally based on the golden mean, an introduction to a theorem as discovered by Gerald Hawkins or alignment to historic location, as I look back over this season, I am more drawn to the imperfections being introduced and have sent some diagrams to illustrate:" CLIP
Check also this tantalizingly funny "Space Invader" glyph
But don't miss this astounding one first seen on June 23
A MOST REMARKABLE REPORT ON A MOST AMAZING EVENT!
Tom also recommended to my/our attention the upcoming Canadian Conference on Dialogue and Deliberation next October 27-20 in Ottawa. Details at http://c2d2.ca/main.cfm?cid=187
From: "Nadia McLaren" firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: 04 Jul 2005
Subject: Australia's Amazing Conference (and Work) on Deliberative Innovations
Dear Australian friends and others,
I'm sending you an account of Western Australia's remarkable effort in innovative democracy and community engagement processes, seen through the eyes of an American, Tom Atlee. Made me right proud to be an aussie abroad (and that's been really difficult lately with Howard at the helm).
Western Australia claims to be the "first government in Australia to develop a truly integrated whole-of-government partnership driven approach to sustainable development ... in which sub-national government is critical to achieving sustainable development, not only as an important mechanism for managing local clusters to help drive eco-innovation this century". http://www.naturaledgeproject.net/NAON_Vol0.aspx http://www.sustainability.dpc.wa.gov.au/
You can read about social process innovations like: * Dynamic Facilitation * Wisdom Council * Citizens Jury * Mind Mapping * World Cafe * Deliberative Polling * 21st Century Town Meeting
These are not all Australian inventions, by any means, but the experiment to explore their potentials within a state-sponsored arena is probably unique in the world. It's a pity that others are not interested in taking up our electoral system, which, along with the Swiss innovations in governance, is one of the best in the world.
It reminded me yet again that one of Australia's gifts to the world arises from its openness and plurality: a genuine "mateship" unconstrained by the complexity and rigidity of form I find here in Europe. Our Renaissance Europe effort grinds on slowly, notwithstanding the shakeup over the recent referenda on the constitution, which with all its faulty process is remarkable for encoing for the first time a Europe of "states AND peoples" "fundamental rights" and "participatory democracy".
I feel the Global Values Survey has something useful to add on this shift to postmodern / postmaterialist society (see the map at http://www.worldvaluessurvey.org/)
I'll no doubt get around to referencing this posting in one of my occasional compilations (Tom's piece on human evolution was in my last mailing), but I wanted to share it with you whilst it is fresh. The article is best viewed online to get the hyperlinks.
I introduce it with a note from Norie Huddle, another American friend, who manages to be one of the most amazing networkers I know at the same time as one of the most socially creative. This is to give you a sense how the global information network and social innovation community is operating at ever increasing pace.
It's time we had a website indexing global social innovation and innovators (any takers?). Great initiatives are taking root everywhere, like Victoria's GreenLeap "leapfrogging to a sustainable economy" http://www.green-innovations.asn.au/ and the whole complementary currency movement, of which I'll write more later.
Dear Nadia and Tom,
I think you two would enjoy being connected more directly and it is a privilege for me to facilitate that.
Nadia, I thought this post by Tom would warm your heart and then it occurred to me that you and Tom would really enjoy e-connecting. Tom is a wonderful person I met about 7-8 years ago as part of the group interested in transforming the economic and financial system. His passion is process, which he does magnificently.
Tom, Nadia is a wonderful person I met about five years ago in Brussels; we've been in touch ever since. She spent many years in Australia and now works with the Union of International Associations (uia.org) based in Brussels. (I think you'll also appreciate very much what UIA is doing.) Nadia sends out some very thoughtful collections of articles -- about the same frequency that you send your posts. [btw: if you would like these, or want to be removed from the list, send me an email note].
I think you'd enjoy being on each other's email list and, if you are ever in the same geographic location, I know you'd enjoy meeting in person. Love, Norie
On Jun 18, 2005 Tom Atlee wrote:
This is the story of my recent trip to a conference on Innovation in Community Engagement in Perth, Australia http://www.dpi.wa.gov.au/dialogue/comengage/. Due to the innovative, comprehensive nature of this conference, I have done a fairly thorough review. In the blog version at the URL below, I have highlighted certain parts so you can scan it quickly if you like. I have also provided many links -- some here, far more on the blog version -- for those who would value more in-depth exploration. The blog also has photos of some of the remarkable people I met in Australia. Enjoy!
PS: Most of the processes and deliberative methodologies referred to here are described at http://co-intelligence.org/CI-Practices.html or http://www.wiki-thataway.org/index.php?page=ParticipatoryPractices
AUSTRALIA'S AMAZING CONFERENCE (AND WORK) ON DELIBERATIVE INNOVATIONS
by Tom Atlee
Halfway around the planet from my home in Oregon lies Western Australia, where THE GOVERNMENT has been sponsoring remarkable innovations in community engagement and deliberative democracy for four and a half years. (Oh, how I wish it were happening in the U.S.!!)
At the forefront of this committed experiment in democratic collective intelligence are two remarkable politicians eager to move beyond cynicism and distrust -- Western Australia's Premier, Dr. Geoff Gallop, and his Minister of Infrastructure and Planning, Alannah MacTiernan. Behind the scenes, designing and organizing it all, has been my heartful, down-to-earth, brilliantly hyperactive Perth host -- one of the most creative, visionary process organizers I know -- Dr. Janette Hartz-Karp.
JANETTE HARTZ-KARP AND HER WORK
I first met Janette at the National Conference on Dialogue and Deliberation (NCDD) in Denver, CO, October 23-26, 2004. Long before that event, her workshop description made my mouth water:
Breakthrough Initiatives in Governing WITH the People: The Australian Experience
As a result of the last 4 years of planning with the community, Western Australia is now one of the world leaders in innovative approaches to deliberative democracy. Janette's presentation will outline the variety of techniques that have been applied, adapted and combined, including Citizen's Juries, Consensus Conferences, Consensus Forums, Deliberative Surveys, Multi Criteria Analysis Workshops, and "21st Century Town Meetings." The focus will be on how representativeness, deliberation and influence have been sought, and what has been learned. Participants will gain an understanding about the ways in which different deliberative democracy techniques have been applied and adapted in Western Australia, and will examine the critical success factors of deliberative democracy initiatives.
Before last summer, I had never heard of Janette or anything going on
in Western Australia, but I definitely wanted to hear her presentation. I had been promoting multi-process approaches to community engagement for several years (see "Designing Multi-Process Public Participation Programs" and "Approaches to Community Engagement and the Generation of Community Wisdom" on http://co-intelligence.org/CommunityResourcesCII.html). I was often frustrated by the single-method, proprietary approaches taken by so many practitioners. Janette's adventuresome vision was more than a breath of fresh air. It was a whole forest of fresh air!
Unfortunately I was scheduled to give an NCDD workshop at the same time as hers, so we had to find a quiet table in some other corner of the conference's crowded schedule for an intense conversation. After an hour, she said she would find a way to bring me to Western Australia (WA). (I'll use the WA abbreviation here, but don't confuse it, as I often did, with Washington State in northwestern USA, which also goes by "WA".)
Two weeks after the NCDD conference, Janette wrote me: "I got this (I think) great idea to have a national (possibly international) workshop for practitioners and 'champions' on deliberative democracy (dd), using dd techniques - so we explore what we could do while learning techniques of how to do it... What do you think? Would you be interested in being involved?"
Over the next six months - consulting occasionally with me and others -- she organized a two-day conference for 300 people - Innovation in Community Engagement -- sponsored by the Western Australia Department for Planning and Infrastructure (DPI), for which she was the main community engagement consultant. She has long been a friend of the DPI head, Alannah MacTiernan, who is committed to community engagement and was involved at a number of key points in the conference and related activities.
So Janette arranged for me to come to Australia as one of the "internationally respected exponents on engaging communities" http://www.dpi.wa.gov.au/dialogue/comengage/experts.html that would join in interactive learning with the expected 300 conference participants, most of whom would be public participation professionals or government officials and staff. (I report on it in detail, below.)
In addition, she organized * a three-day Dynamic Facilitation training session (whose graduates did some facilitation at the conference) * a five-day Citizens Jury in which 16 randomly selected WA citizens reviewed deliberative methods and made recommendations about community engagement in public policy making (which they presented on the final day of the conference); and * private post-conference conversations between us international experts and (a) the WA Premier, Dr. Geoff Gallop, and (b) a group of WA government department heads and managers interested in community engagement.
I was in Western Australia from May 25 to June 8, 2005. Except for the actual conference (when I stayed at the conference center hotel), I stayed with Janette and her husband Moshe Karp (a former kibbutznik, still passionate about intentional community, which is also a passion of mine).
I wasn't very jet-lagged, as I'd gotten good sleep on the cross-Pacific flight. But the sudden change of seasons caught me off-guard. When I'd left Oregon, it was late Spring and it got dark around 9 p.m. But when I sat down for my first dinner with Janette and Moshe in Perth a little after 6 p.m., it was already dark. They were experiencing late Fall.
Also, not being habituated to international travel, it took me several days to get used to being driven about on the left side of the road, which can be scary when you think cars are moving in strange and dangerous ways...
My first full day in Perth, I attended the third and final day of the Dynamic Facilitation workshop, taught by Jim Rough and his wife Jean. Dynamic Facilitation is quite different from many other facilitation approaches - it is more nonlinear, for one thing - and yet it can seem deceptively similar to other practices. The WA class contained the usual mix of inspired and confused students. I helped some of the confused ones get oriented, and greatly enjoyed the passion of the inspired, excited students.
The next day I attended the first Citizens Jury I'd ever been part of -- the Western Australia Citizens Jury on Deliberative Democracy made up of 16 randomly selected ordinary local folks. I have promoted policy juries like this for years and have been a friend and colleague of Citizens Jury creator Ned Crosby and his wife Pat Benn. But I had never actually experienced a full Citizens Jury before. Janette had run a number of one- day juries, but this was the first full five-day jury to be held in Australia. I was an observer, expert witness and enthusiastic moral supporter for the 16 ordinary jurors who rose to the occasion in truly remarkable ways. Not only were their questions insightful, but they ended up inventing two totally new forms of citizen deliberation -- and backed them up with some sophisticated reasoning -- with which we imported experts were quite impressed.
To better understand what is involved in citizen deliberation, the jurors spent two days studying and interviewing experts on the water shortage problem, which I learned is critical in all of Australia, which has had several years of drought, very likely related to global climate change. It brought home to me, once again and vividly, the vital necessity of engaging citizens in creatively tackling emerging 21st century crises.
THE CONFERENCE: A FLURRY OF METHODOLOGIES
On the third day I left the jurors, to whom I'd grown quite attached, to attend Janette's conference, which was being held right down the hall from the Citizens Jury. It was an ambitious undertaking, its schedule packed with process descriptions and practices and small group discussions. Attendees were seated at tables of ten and their comments were collected via computers at each table, summarized by a "theme team" and projected back to the group on giant screens. (This approach is a trademark feature of AmericaSpeaks' core process, 21st Century Town Meeting.)
*** What was unique about WA's Innovation in Community Engagement conference was the simultaneous study of and immersion in multiple processes over two days.***
* 21ST CENTURY TOWN MEETING - This was the overall design of the WA
conference, into which everything else was embedded, as noted above. One interesting feature was that the computers allowed for organized participant feedback at several points during the conference, with results published on the big screens. Furthermore, with some fast footwork, printed reports of the day's events were pulled together and handed to participants at the end of each day!
* DELIBERATIVE POLLING - Attendees took a survey about community engagement before the conference and then near the end. Shifts in their opinions were tabulated and reported to the whole conference before the closing. One of the most remarkable shifts was in response to the question "To what degree can citizens realistically be expected to address complex planning and policy issues thoughtfully and objectively?" Before the conference, 43% of the participants had answered "a lot". By the middle of the second day, the percentage of participants answering "a lot" had risen to 72%! (Dramatic results from public deliberative polls around the world are listed at http://www.la.utexas.edu/research/delpol/bluebook/delibpoll.html)
* WORLD CAFE - After a description of the World Cafe process, participants (including us "experts") travelled among the tables during a 75 minute conversation, sharing times we had shifted our thinking significantly and what factors made those shifts possible. Finally, we delved into what those insights taught us about how to create spaces where people can deliberate together about complex issues and, when it feel right, change their minds. Our conclusions, harvested via computer by the "theme team" and reflected back to the whole ballroom, included creating environments that are both safe and challenging; allowing enough time; encouraging story-sharing; welcoming both head and heart; involving diverse people; and providing accessible, balanced, full- spectrum information on the issue(s) in question.
* MIND MAPPING - Individual tables developed mind-maps on chart pads to lay out their sense of the ideal environment that would support the growth of community engagement -- including political, social, cultural, economic, and technological factors.
* CITIZENS JURY - Ned Crosby described the Citizens Jury process and how the WA Citizens Jury on Deliberative Democracy (mentioned above) had been convened and run. Then he had the jurors report to the conference audience their findings, recommendations and experiences. Their presentation was riveting. We were deeply impressed by the quality of thinking these ordinary citizens exhibited - so unpretentious, with so much common sense, openness, heart and (often) passion. The audience asked many questions. In response to a question about why they had agreed to participate, one juror, an unemployed man, said he was attracted by the $150 per day payment, but then found it was a deeply engaging experience. A conservative man said he was amazed at the quality of the "tree huggers" and how well the whole diverse group had been able to work together. The jurors received long applause at the end of their comments.
* WISDOM COUNCIL - Jim Rough explained that in a Wisdom Council process, one or two dozen ordinary people are randomly selected from a population and given the mandate to explore and publicly articulate their community's concerns and creative ideas. They are dynamically facilitated to a consensus statement that is then shared with the wider community. Ideally, the Wisdom Council process (which is repeated every 3-12 months) stimulates ongoing community conversation and a growing sense of collective agency. That's why Jim often speaks of the Wisdom Council creating a "We the People." ("We the People" is a phrase from the U.S. Constitution referring to the collective citizenry as a thoughtful sovereign power.) The Perth conference tried to embody the Wisdom Council process by randomly selecting members of the attending audience and having them talk about their shared concerns in an on-stage "fishbowl" facilitated by Jim and projected on the big screens. The hour allotted for this proved insufficient for nonlinear dynamic facilitation to generate a potent result (Wisdom Councils are usually two days long), but the general idea was demonstrated. Subsequently the conversation was continued "in the community" -- in this case, at the 30 conference tables around the ballroom.
* DYNAMIC FACILITATION - Each table had a dynamic facilitator (mostly from the pre-conference training) to "follow the group's energy" and make sure participants felt well heard. These dialogues generated a variety of approaches to engage populations in long term quality decisions, such as clarifying the diverse roles of parties involved in decision-making; creating a "Department of Community Engagement"; providing resources (finances, skills, capacity, time); more education on civic responsibilities; triple bottom-line thinking; etc.
In addition, conference attendees got a notebook filled with descriptions of more than a dozen other deliberative approaches, including some visionary ones. They were further informed as they heard and questioned the expert panelists.
Several expert panelists -- especially Dr Casta Tungaraza of the African Community, Aboriginal consultant Madonna Douglas, and Ben Whitehouse, a young social worker -- spoke about how to include people (including youth and indigenous people) whose voices are often not heard, including the following: * Learn the historical and cultural factors important to the populations you want to reach. * Understand the dynamics of oppression and how factors such as race, level of education, economic status, disability, sexuality, gender, and religious background can combine to exclude people from being chosen or, once chosen, from speaking up and being taken seriously -- and work to counter such suppressive factors. * Identify and engage the key players and opinion leaders in those populations. * Explore how physical, geographic and economic factors may play a role in people's ability to participate, and compensate for these (such as by providing transportation, child care, payment, etc.). * Find out what kinds of interactions they've had with other such projects, with officials of various sorts, and with mainstream society. * Make it clear how their participation will make a difference. Be honest and don't making promises you can't keep or be too grandiose in your proposals. * Provide enough time and realistic information for them to consider your project. * Use random selection, with special efforts to reach such people if they don't turn up (e.g., don't have phones). * Give them opportunities to speak in their own way and to be well heard and respected for what they contribute. * Increase public employees' and officials' awareness of these factors and improve their ability to handle them.
HIGHLIGHTS OF OTHER EXPERT PRESENTATIONS
University of Washington professor John Gastil described his fascinating research about how jury duty stimulates more citizenship in the jurors. He found that citizens who served on a criminal jury that reached a verdict were more likely to vote in subsequent elections than were those jurors who deadlocked, were dismissed during trial, or merely served as alternates. Most remarkable of all, members of juries who found the defendant "guilty" were subsequently much more likely to engage in community service than members of juries who submitted a "not-guilty" verdict. This suggests a previously unnoticed level of compassion and concern for social conditions that lead to crime. John spoke strongly for institutionalizing citizen deliberation so that it can play a powerful role in politics, governance, and citizenship no matter who is in office. He and Lyn Carson also spoke about the importance (and difficulties) of random selection, about which Carson has written a book, RANDOM SELECTION IN POLITICS.
Carson spoke about deliberative inclusionary processes (DIPS) - public conversations that represent diverse constituencies, are deeply deliberative, and influence policy-making or community affairs. She sees these three factors - representativeness, deliberation and influence - as key criteria for effective community engagement. Worldwide DIPs were first catalogued in the Institute of Development Studies paper "Participatory environmental policy processes: experiences from North and South" http://www.ntd.co.uk/idsbookshop/details.asp?id=555
Mary Pat MacKinnon described some impressive public involvement activities of the Canadian Policy Research Institute http://www.cprn.com/en/network.cfm?network=3. Their 2002 Citizens Dialogue on the Future of Health Care in Canada, for example, engaged 489 randomly selected Canadians in 12 groups of about 40 members each, deliberating for a day about four major scenarios for improving Canadian health care. The vision they developed -- and the choices and trade-offs they made in order to realize their vision -- were remarkably consistent across the 12 groups. These results were confirmed with a follow-up telephone survey with a larger sample of Canadians, as well as an online survey filled out by more than 18,000 citizens over a 3-month period. (This is a very thorough approach to finding out what citizens want!)
Bob Kucera, WA Minister for Citizenship and Multicultural Interests (among other portfolios) spoke about the Citizenship Strategy launched in 2004 - the product of over four years of dialogue among citizens, organizations and government officials about what it means to be a citizen. (As I was working on this report, I ran across the WA Citizenscape website http://www.citizenscape.wa.gov.au/index.cfm?fuseaction=ccu.about through which the government tells citizens how to get involved in government decision-making, how to influence decision-makers, and how to engage their fellow citizens in civic debate. I'm curious if anyone knows of any similar government site or initiative anywhere else.) Implementation of the Citizenship Strategy is being managed by the Citizens and Civics Unit under the Office of the Premier. Bob spoke of the Premier's efforts to build a culture of skilled best practice community engagement in all government agencies, especially working to overcome the many obvious and subtle barriers to inclusion.
During my talks, I spoke about citizen deliberation and community engagement as forms of collective intelligence -- and about my current explorations into how to generate a readily replicable grassroots system for empowered community deliberation, using both face-to-face and online approaches http://www.wiki-thataway.org/index.php?page=CategoryExtremeTaoOfDemocracy.
Interestingly, a number of us referred to the remarkable Citizens Assembly in Canada, a breakthrough process about which I have written before.
HOW FLEXIBLE CAN WE BE? - INNOVATING "ON THE RUN"
At the end of the first day, conference participants talked at their tables about their experiences so far. Microphones were passed around and several people shared their views with the whole group. Many attendees were enthusiastic about the possibilities and options for citizen engagement. At my table one man said he was going to change his profession and become a facilitator, since he had been so moved by the quality of the facilitated conversation he saw there.
But not everyone was so excited. Some were overwhelmed with too many options, too much information, not enough time to digest or talk about each thing, always moving on to the next thing. Others were frustrated, wanting to talk about topics that weren't on the agenda.
After everyone else went to dinner, the experts, process people and organizers met together to review the situation. I suggested we try some variation of Open Space, in which people are helped to gather around their common interests for conversation or action. Those present agreed that sounded like a good idea but wondered how to fit it in. The next (and last) day of the conference was scheduled wall-to-wall. Since the need was obvious, we soon managed to carve out 90 minutes late in the day and I worked up a plan for introducing people to it. Since it wasn't true Open Space, we decided to call it "Making Space", since we were making space in a crowded schedule.
The next day, right before the morning break, I briefed the attendees about our plan. They could convene a session around any special interest during the afternoon. They just needed to write up a brief description of it before the end of the break. Thirty of them did so. I spent most of the Wisdom Council session behind the stage typing up the sessions with several other people. They ran off the list of sessions and, right before lunch, passed them out and displayed them on the giant screens. I told the conference participants that any changes, additions or deletions they wanted to make in the roster of "making space" sessions (now that they could see the full list) should be submitted by the end of lunch. After lunch I was on a panel, so someone else typed up the final version and assigned each session a table where it could meet. By the afternoon break everything was ready and the full schedule of 30 revised sessions was handed out to every table and displayed on the big screens. We were constrained by not being able to move the tables (everything was wired up with the computers), but it worked out fine, with a couple of sessions meeting out in the hall, as well.
The sessions buzzed along intently for the whole hour and a half. The smallest one had three people in it and the two largest sessions had 16 people in each one. A few people didn't go to any sessions and several flitted like bumblebees between sessions -- both of which are valued behaviors in Open Space. * In a "citizen engagement clinic," experts worked with practitioners on specific process design issues. * In another session several people explored a traditional African institution -- the baraza http://african.lss.wisc.edu/utamaduni/culturalrefs.htm, a culture of spaces for a community to engage with itself, daily and periodically -- and wondered how to bring that sort of ongoing engagement to Western Australia. * Two others explored the relevance of sociocracy -- a consent-based form of organization http://www.sociocracy.biz/ -- and reframing metaphors http://adrr.com/adr4/metaphor.htm to our visions of deliberative democracy. * There were sessions exploring establishing youth citizens juries and wisdom councils... sessions exploring how to deal with cultural differences, privacy issues, the Internet, media, interest groups, and established political institutions... sessions exploring the role of values and "the whole person" in deliberation... * A number of discussions explored what community engagement and deliberation have to offer in dealing with specific issues like waste, peak oil http://adrr.com/adr4/metaphor.htm, public transport, wellness services, sustainable horticulture, and sustainable community.
As facilitator, I wandered among the tables noticing the energy and picking up empty coffee cups (as Open Space facilitators tend to do), and spent about fifteen minutes in the session on the Internet.
FILLED WITH POSSIBILITIES...
As I wandered out in the hall to remind the sessions there that they had ten minutes to wrap up their discussions, I stumbled into the Citizens Jury people having a champaign and cookies celebration of their success. I toasted and hugged them one last time and hurried back to participate in the closing panel -- as an "expert" -- such a strange role to play in a ballroom filled with so many unacknowledged experts!
The most remarkable closing comment was Minister of Infrastructure and Planning, Alannah MacTiernan's poignant statement that she had gotten so much flak for her community engagement efforts -- for example, the major Perth newspaper, which refused to fairly cover the community engagements she sponsored, had wondered why she was elected if she couldn't lead and make decisions herself rather than consulting with randomly selected citizens -- that she had been ready to cut back on citizen engagement. But the conference had so inspired and re-energized her that she was again committing herself to her leading-edge experiments in community engagement.
The resources for that and more sat in the room before her. I pray that she and other people in the WA government engage the participants in that conference -- connecting them with each other and providing forums for their ongoing conversation and shared action -- so that the incredible potential in that Perth ballroom can be released to play its major role in the evolution of our planet. "Just think," I said in my closing statement, "Every one of you has at least a hundred contacts. The web of our networks reaches around the world. The impact we could have is incredible..."
As I write this, I am relishing that sense of possibility -- from the event, from the political context in which it was born, and from the many truly remarkable people I met there, only a few of whom I've been able to mention here.
May the difference they make reverberate for seven generations to come.
The Co-Intelligence Institute
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I FOUND THIS OTHER ARTICLE BY TOM ATLEE MOST INTERESTING. HERE IS AN EXCERPT FOR YOUR CONSIDERATION...
A Call to Move Beyond Public Opinion to Public Judgment
by Tom Atlee
The American public is chronically divided over issues of war and peace, civil liberties, corporate behavior, jobs and welfare, abortion, budget priorities, the environment, technology and more. In good times, these debates can be a source of pride, a healthy hum in the background of life in our democracy. In bad times, however, they can feel like they're tearing our country apart or -- when we're feeling threatened -- "divisiveness" can feel tantamount to treason.
And what of the majority? Sometimes it seems like the majority has great wisdom that sees us through rocky times, over and over again. At other times it seems like the majority is ill-informed, shooting from the hip, or simply oblivious. Sometimes the majority feels like a mob. At other times -- as in the election of 2000 -- the alternatives are so close -- or public participation is so low -- that we're not even sure what the majority is, or if it matters. At other times, loud majority voices seem to get manufactured from nowhere by slick public relations campaigns.
So how do our representatives respond to all this? Sometimes it seems that they change their tunes overnight, depending onthe vagaries of public opinion polls. At other times it seems like they push through policies that the overwhelming majority of us disagree with -- and we feel powerless to stop them. Sometimes politicians' independence from public opinion looks like admirably strong leadership. At other times, it just looks like someone else is controlling our government. We, the People, are not part of the picture.
What are we to make of all this? Does it feel like we can count on our government to make wise decisions that serve us well, that care for the common good, and that ensure a safe and healthy future?
If not, are there any creative, alternative ways to think about this, and take action? Who is supposed to deal with these matters? What should be the relationship between the thoughts and conversations of us ordinary citizens, and the actions of our leaders? Should public opinion rule what happens? How should our leaders lead?
In this essay I suggest that we can depend on neither public opinion nor strong leadership to produce the wisdom we need to deal with the public issues of the day. In fact, I propose that both public opinion and strong leadership are downright dangerous when confronting crises like the ones we're living through currently.
This wasn't always true, but it is true now. And it is particularly troubling because our current mess is quite unnecessary. We now have ways to make democracy not only less corrupt, but more dependable, effective and even wise. We can do this using the most fundamental resource of our democracy: We, the People.
We now know, for example, how to bring diverse ordinary citizens together in high quality conversations capable of producing wise policy guidelines for officials and the public. We know how to set up those conversations to help ensure that our representatives can and do serve us well. Decades of experience in citizen deliberations have taught us how to begin building a public dialogue infrastructure that can generate a democracy that really works -- at last.
But first we must realize the limits of "public opinion." Because, as Alexander Hamilton suggested, it is not public opinion that we need to guide us, but wise public judgment -- "the deliberative sense of the community."
CLIP - Read the rest at http://www.co-intelligence.org/CIPol_publicjudgment.html
UNITY-AND-DIVERSITY WORLD COUNCIL
OPEN LETTER TO LEADERS FROM THE UNITY-AND-DIVERSITY WORLD COUNCIL
The 26th of June 2005 marks the 60th anniversary of the birth of the United Nations. From that time forward the possibility that the human race could unite has remained a largely unexpressed hope. The United Nations named 1965 the year of global cooperation. It is the year that the Unity-and-Diversity World Council (UDC) began with the central task of seeing that the hope for global co-operation would be realized. Now it appears that if left only up to the nations, global co-operation could remain forever out of reach. It is time for the peoples of the world to recognize the need to take initiative as leaders.
On Saturday, the 25th of June, the day before the anniversary of the United Nations, UDC invites everyone who is interested to a special Leadership Convergence to be held at the Davidson Conference Center at the University of Southern California. On that day leaders will have an opportunity to join with us in drafting the first statement of comprehensive actions that will serve as a guide for achieving global cooperation toward a new civilization. UDC urges you to respond to a planet in desperate need of people who can and will set a future course that is aligned, not self-serving; responsible, not oblivious; compassionate, not selfish.
The resulting Guidelines for an Interdependent World Culture will be published and sent to the Secretary General of the United Nations to commemorate sixty years of progress towards global cooperation. It will also be made available for publication in all fields of activity from the medical profession to faith leaders, from judges to artists, from media to ecologists, to reach all people who care about the future of earth.
If you lead a group, or if you feel you can make a unique contribution to the creation of Guidelines for an Interdependent World Culture, you need to attend the Leadership Convergence. To register, please go to http://www.udcworld.org or contact UDC by phone (310) 391-5735.
UDC Executive Board
United Peoples Assembly
Peace Sunday Steering Committee
EXCELLENT ANALYSIS OF A TREACHEROUS STRATEGY BY ARIEL SHARON
From: "G u s h S h a l o m" firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: 3 Jul 2005
Subject: Avnery on Arik's Horror Show
Arik's Horror Show
All the world saw the horror on TV: a Palestinian boy lying on the ground, unconscious. An Israeli soldier bending over him, not knowing what to do. A settler coming up from behind and throwing a stone at the head of the injured Palestinian. Another settler dropping a big stone on him at point-blank range. A bearded medic, also a settler, approaches the wounded boy, hesitates, and then goes away without treating him, pursued by the chants of a chorus of settler boys and girls: "Let him die! Let him die!"
Before that, the settlers occupied a Palestinian house on the Gaza Strip sea shore and established an "outpost" there. It was a pretty, new three-story building, whose owners had not yet moved in. On the outer wall a huge slogan was painted: "Mohammed is a Swine!" It referred to the Prophet.
A battle of stones ensued between the occupiers and the Palestinians in the adjacent houses. Some soldiers were caught in the middle, fired into the air over the heads of the Palestinians and did not do anything against the rioters.
Two days before, army bulldozers had been sent to destroy some empty, derelict structures put up ages ago by the Egyptians. A group of extreme-right boys and girls climbed on the bulldozers, broke off parts, kicked the heads of the soldiers trying to remove them, cursed and taunted the soldiers, who stood by helplessly. (Two years ago, the 23-year old American peace activist Rachel Corrie was crushed to death by such a bulldozer, when she tried to stop it from destroying a Palestinian home.)
The rampage reached its climax last Wednesday, when the settlers again blocked Israel's main arteries. The evening before, one of the chief rioters, one Shabtai Shiran, who introduced himself as "Chief-of-Staff North" of the hooligans, appeared on television. He was interviewed live and at length as a respected guest, giving out orders for paralyzing the country, as if he were a government spokesman. He was not arrested at the door of the studio for terrorism, incitement and conspiracy to commit a crime, but on the contrary, was invited to appear again the next evening to boast of his "victory".
On the morning of road-blocking day, the police made a discovery on Road No. 1 (the main Tel-Aviv-Jerusalem artery): puddles of oil and metal nails designed to puncture tires. On this road, the speed limit is 110 km/h, and many drivers exceed that. By a miracle, a disaster was avoided. But the whole country gave in to the terrorism: most drivers postponed their journeys, traffic on the roads was light, like on Shabbat.
During the day, the settlers blocked the roads in many places. The Police removed them with their bare hands. Only at one place was a water cannon used, but the weak stream was too feeble to wash away a single rioter. Still, it looked good on TV.
Not in a single one of these riots did the police use the means that are routinely used against non-violent left-wing protesters: clubs, tear gas, rubber-coated bullets and, lately, salt bullets. I can testify from my own experience at demonstrations that nobody remains where they are when tear gas grenades are shot at them.
Just as a reminder: five years ago, groups of Arab citizens tried to block some roads in the North of Israel, in a spontaneous reaction to the killing of Palestinians on the Temple Mount. In order to "protect the freedom of traffic on the roads", the police opened fire with live ammunition and 13 citizens were killed. But they, of course, were Arabs.
It would have been quite easy to put an end to all the riots this week. In the few instances where the authorities decided to remove the rioters, it was accomplished without problem.
For example, the day after the attempted lynching of the Palestinian boy (who is recovering now), police removed the thugs from the near-by hotel. The rioters had sworn to fight to the death. They were removed within 30 minutes without a single person being hurt. Their big-mouthed leaders had disappeared before it all started.
Why were the riots not put down everywhere? There is no escaping the simple conclusion: Ariel Sharon did not want this. On the contrary: it is in his interest that the TV screens in Israel and all over the world show the scenes of the terrible riots. That's how he sows in the heads of the viewers the natural question, which a Tel-Aviv taxi driver asked me, and which was repeated by all the journalists who interviewed me during the week: "If the evacuation of a few small settlements causes such a huge uproar - how can one even dream of removing the big settlements in the West Bank?"
The same question is being posed in connection with the economic price of the "disengagement". The Minister of Finance is now talking about "eight to ten billion Shekels". That means five million (5,000,000) Shekels - or about 1.1 million dollars - per family. Almost every day, the payoff extorted by the evacuees goes up. A plot of land. A new villa. Until then, a "mobile villa" that will remain their property. Compensation for lost livelihood. Participation in the costs of the move. More land for agriculturists, two or three times larger than the plot they are leaving.
By any account, if the settlers just got back what they had in fact invested, even ten times over, it would amount only to a small fraction of these sums.
All this is being promised to evacuees who are about to settle in Israel, at a distance of some 30 kilometers from their present abodes. This week, they were promised a separate regional council. This would not only be the sole regional council set up along ideological lines, but also assure sinecures for dozens of settlers, who will become employees of this council. In the West Bank many hundreds of settlers, including almost all their leaders, live at our expense, from fictitious jobs on the regional councils.
Here, too, the innocent citizen will ask: If the removal of 1700 settlers' families cost us eight billion Shekels, how much will it cost to move the 40,000 families from the West Bank settlements?
This week's performances are only a dress rehearsal for the great Horror Show that is planned in seven weeks time, when the evacuation is due to take place.
It has already been announced that huge forces will take part in the action. Three thousand media people from all over the world will provide the international echo. The event will be presented as a giant operation, Ariel Sharon will appear as one of history's great heroes, Hercules and Samson rolled into one. After such an immense effort, who will demand that he take upon himself the impossible task of removing the West Bank settlements?
Sharon himself does not hide his intentions. Quite the contrary, he announces them at the top of his voice. In two policy speeches this week, he defined them in identical words, but the superficial media were so fascinated by his denouncement of the hooligans that they did not pay any attention to the key sentence.
Sharon said that the withdrawal from Gaza is necessary so that we can concentrate on the main effort, to ensure Israeli dominance "in Galilee and the Negev, Greater Jerusalem, the settlement blocs and the security zones."
One has to put the eight Hebrew words on the map in order to get a clear picture.
"Galilee and the Negev" were included for decoration only. They have been part of Israel since the foundation of the state, and a campaign for their "Judaization" has been going on for decades. About half of Galilee's citizens are Arab, and the situation in the Negev is similar.
The term "Greater Jerusalem" is used to include not only all the Arab neighborhoods in the east of the city, but also the settlement Ma'aleh-Adumim and the territories lying between it and Jerusalem proper, referred to as E-1.
The "settlement blocs" include not only the enlarged Gush Etzion, Ariel, Upper Modi'in, Betar and Ma'aleh-Adumim blocs, but also any area that may be so defined in the future, such as Kiryat Arba and the South Hebron area.
But the most important words are "security zones". In Sharon's lexicon, these include not only the whole of the Jordan Valley and the "Back of the Mountain" (the eastern slopes of the central Palestinian mountain range), but also the East-West and North-South axes on which he himself has been cultivating the settlements throughout the years.
This sentence confirms again what Sharon has said often enough in the past: that he intends to annex 58% of the West Bank, so that the Palestinian state, to which he might or might not agree, will cover about 10% of the area of Palestine as it existed before 1948.
The current Arik's Horror Show is designed to promote this vision, which he conceives as his life's work. The settlers, who curse him and threaten his life, are only playing the role which he has allotted them. Right from the beginning of his career he has been convinced that God (or fate) has chosen him for this historic task.
The task of the Israeli peace camp is to abort this vision, by using the dynamics of the crisis to open the road to the solution of the conflict. The settlements are the main obstacle to the attainment of a compromise between the two nations. Without Sharon intending this, his Horror Show is causing the Israeli public to turn against the settlers, resulting in the isolation of the whole settler community. We have to make sure that this wave will not dissipate after the completion of the Gaza withdrawal, but on the contrary, will grow in size and strength until it sweeps away the whole infrastructure of occupation in the West Bank and Jerusalem.
If this happens, the great Horror Show will have positive results in the end, and not at all those expected by Sharon.
Forwarded by "Mark Graffis" email@example.com>
Alcohol fuels not so green
1 July 2005
Ethanol production harms environment, researchers claim.
Ethanol's reputation as an environmentally friendly fuel is overblown, say researchers who claim that large-scale farming of sugar cane or corn for alcohol is damaging the planet.
Ethanol is fermented from plant sugars and added to gasoline to boost the oxygen content of car fuels and reduce pollution. Its use is on the rise, particularly in Brazil and the United States.
Its proponents argue that using it helps to reduce the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, which may lessen global warming. Although ethanol burns just like gasoline, the carbon it releases is absorbed by the plants that will make the next lot of fuel. This means that only a small amount of carbon dioxide (from transport and processing) stays in the atmosphere.
But Burton Vaughan, a biologist at Washington State University, Richland, says that supporters may be ignoring ethanol's other environmental impacts. Vaughan and his colleagues, Marcelo Dias de Oliveira and Edward Rykiel, say that producing ethanol-rich fuels tends to reduce biodiversity and increase soil erosion because of the way that sugar cane is grown.
In Brazil, ethanol from sugar cane now accounts for about 40% of the fuel in the country's vehicles. In the United States, a relatively cheap blend of fuel, called E85 after its 85% ethanol content, is enjoying a growing popularity. And on 28 June, the US Senate passed an energy bill that requires gasoline suppliers to add 8 billion gallons of ethanol a year to their fuel by 2012, rising from the current consumption of 3 billion gallons.
But Vaughan's team argues this increase is bad news for the environment, given the way that crops are currently grown. When the sugar-cane fields are burned, which is done to make harvesting easier, the fires can spread to nearby native vegetation, explains Dias de Oliveira. The energy needed to generate and transport plant fertilizer leads to significant carbon dioxide emissions, and cleaning the sugar cane also consumes vast quantities of water, he adds.
"In a visit to one of the distilleries I observed about 3,900 litres of water being used per ton of sugarcane," he says. This drain coincides with the dry season, contributing to water shortages and damaging river life, the authors argue in the journal BioScience1.
The research promises to reignite the debate over whether ethanol is a green energy source. David Pimentel, an agricultural scientist at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York, has famously claimed that ethanol production consumes more energy than it can release in a car2. Vaughan supports this view. But it has been contradicted by studies from Argonne National Laboratory3 in Illinois and the US Department of Agriculture4.
Vaughan and his colleagues claim that their analysis is more thorough because it accounts for the energy consumed in making fertilizer and farming practice.
Others say that although it is important to consider the environmental implications of ethanol, it may still be a better bet than gasoline. "Ethanol isn't perfect, but I find it hard to believe we'd be better off with 100% petroleum," says Monte Shaw, spokesman for the Renewable Fuels Association, the Washington-based trade group for the US ethanol industry.
Shaw points out that a significant amount of ethanol production makes use of the waste material left over after sugar cane or corn is harvested for food. Better fermentation using different bacteria has also streamlined the extraction process. "Ethanol production efficiency has really improved over the last few years," he says.
Dias de Oliveira M. E., Vaughan B. E. & Rykiel E. J. Bioscience, 55. 593 - 602 (2005). Pimentel D. Natural Resources Research, 12. 127 - 134 (2003). | Article | Wang M. Argonne National Laboratory Ethanol Study (summary), Article (2005).
Forwarded by"Mark Graffis" firstname.lastname@example.org>
Oil 'will hit $100 by winter'
Worst-ever crisis looms, says analyst · Surging demand to keep prices high
July 3, 2005
Oil prices could rocket to $100 within six months, plunging the world into an unprecedented fuel crisis, controversial Texan oil analyst Matt Simmons has warned.
After crude surged through $60 a barrel last week, nervous investors were pinning their hopes on a build-up in US oil-stocks to depress prices in the coming months.
But Simmons believes surging demand will keep prices bubbling well above $50. 'We could be at $100 by this winter. We have the biggest risk we have ever had of demand exceeding supply. We are now just about to face up to the biggest crisis we have ever had,' he said.
Opec producers held emergency talks last week to consider making their second 500,000 a barrel increase in production quotas in a fortnight: but the discussions were suspended last Thursday after prices dipped back below $60.
The looming oil crisis is not high up the agenda at this week's G8 meeting, although the heads of state are expected to repeat their finance ministers' call for greater transparency from Opec and other oil-producing nations about their reserves.
However, global warming is one of Britain's two major priorities, and Tony Blair hopes to secure a pledge to pour more cash into developing alternatives to the oil-intensive technologies that cause climate change.
Simmons believes such moves will be too little, too late. He will publish a hard-hitting book this week in which he argues that Saudi Arabia, the world's largest producer, is running out of oil, and further price rises are inevitable as supplies decline. He warns that the scramble for resources could eventually descend into war.
Many analysts expect extra production over the next year, as high prices boost investment by energy firms. But Simmons says after many years of underinvestment, there is even a shortage of drilling rigs.
'Many of these projects are aspirations; many of them won't create peak production in the first year, and many of them within five years will be in decline,' he said.
However, the Economist Intelligence Unit predicts that oil prices will peak by the end of this year, and decline by 10 per cent in 2006 as the Chinese economy slows, reducing demand. Chinese imports have been crucial to propping up the oil price in the last two years.
But the EIU warned that its forecasts - which show a 30 per cent increase in oil prices for 2005 - could prove too conservative if there are further wobbles in supply. 'The narrow margin of spare production capacity has made prices vulnerable to unforeseen reductions in supply or rises in demand,' it said.
Paul Horsnell, head of commodities analysis at Barclays Capital, said supply constraints would continue to bite for the rest of the year. 'It's all getting a bit tight'
Brent crude closed almost $2 a barrel higher in New York on Friday night, while futures contracts for heating oil, widely used in the US, hit a record high, which analysts said was unusual for summer.
'It's fear,' said Kyle Cooper, an analyst at Citigroup. 'It's not based on what is happening now. It's based on fear of what could happen.'
Forwarded by "Mark Graffis" email@example.com>
Oceans in trouble as acid levels rise
30 June 2005
Michael Hopkin Report calls for more stringent carbon cuts to protect seas.
Corals and plankton are at risk of being destroyed by the rising acidity of the world's oceans as the waters absorb carbon dioxide from the air, British scientists have warned. The only solution, they say, is drastic cuts in carbon dioxide emissions, far beyond those called for by the Kyoto treaty.
Without such measures, dissolved carbon dioxide could increase the acidity of sea water by as much as 0.5 pH units by the end of this century, from 8.2 to around 7.7, they say. Such a change would upset the oceans' chemical balance and kill off some marine life.
"There is no way for us to remove this CO2 from the ocean. It will take many thousands of years for natural processes to remove it," said lead author John Raven of the University of Dundee, at the report's launch in London. As long as we keep putting carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, he added, it will keep finding its way into the ocean. As carbon dioxide dissolves in water it forms weak carbonic acid, which can dissolve materials such as shells and coral.
Since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution, humans have pumped an estimated total of 450 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, around half of which has ended up in the oceans, Raven said. He and his colleagues are calling for no more than 900 billion tonnes to be added during this century - a tall order given the burgeoning industrial development of China and India.
This target would call for huge cuts, with emissions by 2100 reaching half their present levels. This is far in excess of the more modest targets set by the Kyoto treaty, which calls for developed nations to cut their emissions, relative to 1990 levels, by an average of 5% by 2012.
Without action to combat acidification, the effects are likely to be strongest in the Southern Ocean around Antarctica, the report says1. Tiny shell-forming molluscs called pteropods live here and help form the basis of Antarctic food chains, says Carol Turley of the Plymouth Marine Laboratory. "This is another very strong argument for reducing carbon dioxide emissions," she adds.
Other potential victims would be coccolithophores, tiny hard-shelled plankton that can blossom in huge numbers, forming swarms visible from space.
And while corals face bleaching and death from higher-temperature waters, the report's authors note that acidic waters are a big problem too. They calculate that even under the lowest future scenarios for carbon emissions produced by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, corals such as those on Australia's Great Barrier Reef could be all but wiped out by 2050 by acidity.
There are a few theoretical quick fixes for ocean acidification, such as dumping limestone into the water to boost mineral levels and buffer the ability of carbon dioxide to change the pH. But we would have to dig up 60 square kilometres of chalk to a depth of 100 metres every year to provide enough, notes study author Andrew Watson of the University of East Anglia in Norwich. This is unfeasible and risks causing further damage to the planet, he adds.
The only answer is to stop burning so much fossil fuel, Watson says. "We are addicted to fossil-fuel burning like a smoker is addicted to nicotine," he says. "Like smoking, there are many adverse effects - we need to wake up and heed the doctor's orders."
Royal Society Working Group on Ocean Acidification.
Ocean Acidification Due to Increasing Atmospheric Carbon Dioxide. (2005).
A Livable Shade of Green
By NICHOLAS D. KRISTOF - July 3, 2005
PORTLAND, Ore. - When President Bush travels to the Group of 8 summit meeting this week, he'll stiff Tony Blair and other leaders who are appealing for firm action on global warming.
"Kyoto would have wrecked our economy," Mr. Bush told a Danish interviewer recently, referring to the accord to curb carbon emissions. Maybe that was a plausible argument a few years ago, but now the city of Portland is proving it flat wrong.
Newly released data show that Portland, America's environmental laboratory, has achieved stunning reductions in carbon emissions. It has reduced emissions below the levels of 1990, the benchmark for the Kyoto accord, while booming economically.
What's more, officials in Portland insist that the campaign to cut carbon emissions has entailed no significant economic price, and on the contrary has brought the city huge benefits: less tax money spent on energy, more convenient transportation, a greener city, and expertise in energy efficiency that is helping local businesses win contracts worldwide.
"People have looked at it the wrong way, as a drain," said Mayor Tom Potter, who himself drives a Prius hybrid. "Actually it's something that attracts people. ... It's economical; it makes sense in dollars."
I've been torn about what to do about global warming. But the evidence is growing that climate change is a real threat: I was bowled over when I visited the Arctic and talked to Eskimos who described sea ice disappearing, permafrost melting and visits by robins, for which they have no word in the local language.
In the past, economic models tended to discourage aggressive action on greenhouse gases, because they indicated that the cost of curbing carbon emissions could be extraordinarily high, amounting to perhaps 3 percent of G.N.P.
That's where Portland's experience is so crucial. It confirms the suggestions of some economists that we can take initial steps against global warming without economic disruptions. Then in a decade or two, we can decide whether to proceed with other, costlier steps.
In 1993, Portland became the first local government in the United States to adopt a strategy to deal with climate change. The latest data, released a few weeks ago, show the results: Greenhouse gas emissions last year in Multnomah County, which includes Portland, dropped below the level of 1990, and per capita emissions were down 13 percent.
This was achieved partly by a major increase in public transit, including two light rail lines and a streetcar system. The city has also built 750 miles of bicycle paths, and the number of people commuting by foot or on bicycle has increased 10 percent.
Portland offers all city employees either a $25-per-month bus pass or car pool parking. Private businesses are told that if they provide employees with subsidized parking, they should also subsidize bus commutes.
The city has also offered financial incentives and technical assistance to anyone constructing a "green building" with built-in energy efficiency.
Then there are innumerable little steps, such as encouraging people to weatherize their homes. Portland also replaced the bulbs in the city's traffic lights with light-emitting diodes, which reduce electricity use by 80 percent and save the city almost $500,000 a year.
"Portland's efforts refute the thesis that you can't make progress without huge economic harm," says Erik Sten, a city commissioner. "It actually goes all the other way - to the extent Portland has been successful, the things that we were doing that happened to reduce emissions were the things that made our city livable and hence desirable."
Mr. Sten added that Portland's officials were able to curb carbon emissions only because the steps they took were intrinsically popular and cheap, serving other purposes like reducing traffic congestion or saving on electrical costs. "I haven't seen that much willingness even among our environmentalists," he said, "to do huge masochistic things to save the planet."
So as he heads to the summit meeting, Mr. Bush should get a briefing on Portland's experience (a full report is at http://www.sustainableportland.org/) and accept that we don't need to surrender to global warming.
Perhaps eventually we will face hard trade-offs. But for now Portland shows that we can help our planet without "wrecking" our economy - indeed, at no significant cost at all. At the Group of 8, that should be a no-brainer.
From: "Kathleen Roberts" firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: Hideous Quotes from Disney/ABC Radio Personality
Date: 3 Jul 2005
Fairness & Accuracy In Reporting (FAIR) - http://www.fair.org
Paul Harvey's Tribute to Slavery, Nukes, Genocide
Hateful rant shows Disney's double standard on speech
Disney/ABC radio personality Paul Harvey, one of the most widely listened to commentators in the United States, presented his listeners on June 23 with an endorsement of genocide and racism that would have been right at home on a white supremacist shortwave broadcast.
Harvey's commentary began by lamenting the decline of American wartime aggression. "We're standing there dying, daring to do nothing decisive because we've declared ourselves to be better than our terrorist enemies--more moral, more civilized," he said. Drawing a contrast with what he cast as the praiseworthy nuclear bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in World War II, Harvey lamented that "we sent men with rifles into Afghanistan and Iraq and kept our best weapons in their silos"--suggesting that America should have used its nuclear arsenal in its invasions of both countries.
"We didn't come this far because we're made of sugar candy. Once upon a time, we elbowed our way onto and across this continent by giving smallpox-infected blankets to Native Americans. That was biological warfare. And we used every other weapon we could get our hands on to grab this land from whomever.
"And we grew prosperous. And yes, we greased the skids with the sweat of slaves. So it goes with most great nation-states, which--feeling guilty about their savage pasts--eventually civilize themselves out of business and wind up invaded and ultimately dominated by the lean, hungry up-and-coming who are not made of sugar candy."
Harvey's evident approval of slavery, genocide and nuclear and biological warfare would seem to put him at odds with Disney's family-friendly image. The media conglomerate syndicates Harvey to more than 1,000 radio stations, where he reaches an estimated 18 million listeners. Disney recently signed a 10-year, $100 million contract with the 86-year-old Harvey.
In 2004, Disney forbid its Miramax subsidiary to distribute Michael Moore's film Fahrenheit 9/11, even though Miramax was the principal investor in the film. A Disney executive told the New York Times (5/5/04) that it was declining to distribute the film because, in the paper's words, "Disney caters to families of all political stripes and believes Mr. Moore's film...could alienate many."
One wonders whether Disney executives are worried about alienating families who oppose slavery, nuclear war and Native American genocide.
Ask Disney why it finds Paul Harvey's nostalgia for slavery and genocide and his calls for nuclear war acceptable, but deemed Michael Moore's film unacceptable.
ABC Radio Networks
Phone: (312) 889-4085
**Read a transcript of Harvey's comments (courtesy of the Chicago Tribune's Eric Zorn):
From: Phyllis Montague email@example.com>
Date: 30 Jun 2005
Subject: New Presidential Postage Stamp
The US Postal Service has created a stamp with a picture of President George W. Bush to honor his first term achievements.
In daily use it has been shown that the stamp is not sticking to envelopes.
This has enraged the President, who demanded a full investigation.
After a month of testing, a special presidential commission has made the following findings:
1) The stamp is in perfect order.
2) There is nothing wrong with the applied adhesive.
3) People are spitting on the wrong side.
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