Good News: U.S. SOLAR SOARS

Note: even though the sun is not so consistent in Indiana, I put solar systems on the roof of one house for both houses here, 16 panels each, for a total of 32. That’s about 75% of the energy needed for six people. We hope to make up the difference by becoming more conscious of our use.


National_PV_Map_Letter2

• From Ecobuddhism:

California’s urban areas can generate more than enough energy to power the whole state

• From ecowatch:

Al Gore Teams Up with Tea Party to Fight for Rooftop Solar

• Perspective, from grist.org

4 surprising reasons why clean energy is gaining on fossil fuels

• Analysis and prediction: from the Worldwatch Institute:

Renewable Energy at the Tipping Point


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Vladimir Putin’s four-hour annual Q&A with the Russian people drew 3 million questions.

If you still tend to believe the “evil Putin” U.S. propaganda, check this out:

Three Western Media Myths about Vladimir Putin

In case you have time to read it, Lada Ray put up an English transcript of the April 16th event.

Here’s RT’s report:

Putin demands respect for Russia, pledges never to become US vassal

April 16, 2015

April 16, 2015. Russian President Vladimir Putin, center, answers questions from the public during the annual Direct Line with Vladimir Putin special broadcast live on Russian television and radio. Left: Kirill Kleimenov, head of the Channel One News Directorate. Right: Rossiya TV journalist Maria Sittel (RIA Novosti / Michael Klimentyev)

April 16, 2015. Russian President Vladimir Putin, center, answers questions from the public during the annual Direct Line with Vladimir Putin special broadcast live on Russian television and radio. Left: Kirill Kleimenov, head of the Channel One News Directorate. Right: Rossiya TV journalist Maria Sittel (RIA Novosti / Michael Klimentyev)

Relations with foreign countries will normalize when they observe respect for Russia and uphold equality for all members of the international community, President Putin said during his annual Q&A session.

The most important thing for reestablishing normal relations is respect for Russia and respect for its interests,” the Russian leader said on Thursday, answering a question about the conditions under which relations between Russia and the West might improve.

He added that in his view, the United States did not need allies, only vassals, but Russia could never agree to such one-sided cooperation.

It was not us who spoiled the relations, we have always stood for normal relations with all nations, both in the East and in the West,” Putin said.

Everyone must understand this. Moscow is always open for cooperation.”

We are ready for cooperation and will engage in it, despite the position of some leaders of certain countries. We will cooperate with those who want to work with us,” he added.

The president also reminded the audience about the international situation in the early 1990s, saying that every time Russia attempted to tell the world that it had its own interests it always encountered a harsh reaction. “Remember how the West applauded Boris Yeltsin. But as soon as he voiced Russia’s position on Yugoslavia they unleashed the dogs on him. I would not even repeat the expressions that were used.”

At the same time, Putin said the Soviet Union made a mistake when it tried to impose its own political and economic system on Eastern Europe in the second half of the 20th century. “After the Second World War we tried to force our model of development on many Eastern European countries, and we did it by force. We must acknowledge this. There is nothing good in it and we can still feel the negative consequences,” he said.

But Americans are behaving approximately the same today as they try to impose their model practically all over the world. They will also fail,” the president noted.

Putin also said that Russia had no enemies in the world, except for international terrorism and organized crime. “We consider no one our enemy, I mean, among the international community. But also we do not recommend anyone to consider us their enemy.” At the same time he noted that Russia was a great nation with a nuclear potential comparable with the US and this made it “equally glorious” to be Russia’s friend or Russia’s enemy.

The Thursday Q&A marathon was the 13th such event hosted by Putin. More than 3 million people sent in questions, which ranged from international politics to social programs inside Russia.

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If Gandhi took a yoga class . . .

Couldn’t resist this. (Laughed all the way to the last few seconds, when it kind of petered out.) So much better to illustrate the gulf between cultures, as well as the posing that goes on in ours, with quick humor than with superior-sounding judgments or long-winded diatribes  . . .

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Oh well, Hillary . . . considerations.

Note: The word “consideration,” means to go with the stars. Just as “disaster” means to turn away from the stars. Hillary may, just may “go with the stars.” Especially, if campaign advisor John Podesta has his way and her presidency (for it does seem assured, as the machine grinds on), does manage to reveal and spell out the extraterrestrial presence.

Obama Adviser John Podesta’s Biggest Regret Is Not Getting UFO Files Released

In August 1995, I was living in Jackson Hole when the Clintons came to town. Again. This was the time when the iconic photo was shot, of Hillary with David Rockefeller (the Rockefellers have a large ranch in the valley, bordering the Tetons), that has been rumored to be “proof” of her discussion with him about UFOs. The book in her arms? Supposedly by Paul Davies: Are we Alone? Philosophical Implications of the Discovery of Extraterrestrial Life.


Clinton_Hillary-Rockefeller-3-21Aug1995_thumb[5] 

During that Clinton visit, I was invited, along with around 30 local women of note, to meet the Clintons at a fund-raiser in a giant glass-walled home on top of a mountain. (Not that I was “of note;” I got in because a friend of mine owned the home.) At the time I was publishing a small magazine with national reach, Crone Chronicles: A Journal of Conscious Aging (1989-2001), and I decided to give her a copy of the latest issue when I went through the receiving line. 

When my turn came, I handed the magazine to her. She glanced at the cover and said, without missing a beat, “CRONE . . . That’s an honorific title, right?” as she smoothly handed the magazine off to an assistant. 

I must say, I was impressed. That she would instantly recognize the intent of the magazine, to activate the Crone archetype, which meant in part, to transform the cultural view of “Crone” from its dictionary definition of an “ugly, withered, cantakerous old woman” to “woman of wisdom and power.” 

I’ll never forget that moment. It helped me realize just who we are dealing with. She herself is Crone, though I wonder just what kind of power she wants to wield. If I look at her warmongering past, I shudder. Check out the iconic little laughing video about our invasion of Libya in this Allen L. Roland piece: “We came. We saw. He died” — referring to the grizzly televised murder of Gaddafi. 

Hillary Jumps In with All Her Baggage

David Swanson gives detail: 

Oh Hell, Hillary

“Of course I pointed out Hillary Clinton’s role in wars in Yugoslavia, Iraq, Libya, Afghanistan, Syria, Iran, Ukraine, etc., her profiteering off Boeing while marketing Boeing weapons as Secretary of State, her transformation of the State Department into a fully owned subsidiary of the military, her foundations taking money from Chevron and Exxon-Mobil while she persuades Eastern European countries not to ban fracking. Hillary backs Israel’s crimes, opposes the UN and international law.”

And yet, just yesterday, I see that she is now coming out with an amazing position: to reverse Citizens United, by constitutional amendment of necessary. 

Hillary Clinton Campaign Attacks “Dark Money”

Wow! But you know, I just can’t help but ask, does she mean it? Or is this but a campaign promise to get progressive Democrats in her camp. 

The Clintons are used to big bucks. Check this out, from 2013.

Chelsea Clinton to buy $10.5 million apartment on Madison Square Park (PHOTOS)

Though I would love, love, love, to support a “woman running for president,” and though I would love to be able to swipe my memories of her warmongering ways, somehow I just can’t! This SNL segment says it all. LOL.

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Trend Setters Department: 4 ways to level the playing field

TrendSetter

I may be foolish, but I can still dream. Here’s one young CEO who dares to dream big in a brand new way.

One Company’s New Minimum Wage: 70,000 per year

And the best thing about the shift? This CEO will cut his 1 million dollar salary to $70,000. Says he can live in a deluxe manner on much less.

Hey, how about this kind of deluxe? I’ve always loved Airstreams. So sleek, so elegant — and, can be transformed into the lux version of  a tiny home, too.

The Best Airstream Restoration Ever? We Think So

Okay, now let’s get serious. Let’s get geopolitical — and ethical!

That Vladimir Putin! He just did it again, turned the tables, changed the rules of the game — by sending planes to evacuate abandoned American and other countries’ citizens from Yemen. This, after the U.S., in cahoots with Saudi Arabia’s bombing of that beleagured country, refused! Tell me, is this not egg-in-the-face-time?

Russian Naval Ship Evacuates Over 300 People Stranded in Yemen

Wow! Even more amazing! The U.S. then thanked Russia for the favor! Why? Because it had to? Whatever. Let’s be grateful that it knew it must. Perhaps two new trends here: 1) returning terror with graciousness (Putin), and 2) actual gratitude (U.S.) — or pretended, who cares? Perhaps even pretended gratitude will lead, eventually, to the real deal.

US, UK thank Russia for evacuation of their citizens from Yemen  

Okay, now let’s get even more serious. Hey, how about a new trend to actually recognize that the birthing process and the deathing process are not just similar, but identical, in that they both usher the soul into a new form of life.

Doula for the Dying: Connecting Birth and Death

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The Mothers Gather: To prepare for Indiana University’s “Little 500″ weekend; to celebrate the birth of a baby elephant

MV5BMzI3MDc4MzgwM15BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwMzc1NzkzMTE@._V1_SX214_AL_On this fine April morning, I sat in my living room with eight other women, five of whom were neighbors. The other three were from various “official bodies”: Sarah from the office of the IU Dean of Students; Pam, neighborhood liaison from the Bloomington PD, and Vickie, from the city’s HAND department (Housing and Neighborhood Development).

We women, the harmonizers of the universe, the ones who help, hopefully, young ones grow up to be fine human beings, sat and discussed how to work with the student revelry that occurs in our neighborhoods during Indiana University’s annual Little 500 weekend (April 24-25, 2015).

Made famous in the classic 70’s bicycling movie Breaking Away, the Little 500 Bicycle Race has been called the greatest collegiate weekend in the country, and it’s certainly one of Indiana University’s most loved traditions. If you love bicycling, you’ll want to experience this spectacle on wheels at least once! Join the more than 25,000 fans that flock to Bloomington each April to be a part of this storied tradition.

How to connect with our student neighbors? How to keep them safe while keeping ourselves sane and able to sleep at night? How to bring together student renters and permanent residents? What about cars on lawns, urinating on lawns, drunken howling, and shrieking, way-too-loud music at 2:00 AM? How to work with the police department, with the IU Dean and the IU police, and with various city offices regarding the various difficulties that arise when young, impressionable, energetic humans gather in groups, especially late at night, to fall under the sway of alcohol, drugs, music and testosterone?

As we were winding up, I mentioned that what we were doing in our meeting was very “permacultural,” in that we were making connections, instituting new kinds of relationships, in many different areas. One of the permacultural principles is that the more relationships, and the more different kinds of relationships, the stronger, more resilient the system.

The nurturing system created in my living room this morning felt so sweet, strong and resilient that we had a hard time ending the meeting — “breaking away”! Indeed, our one-hour morning session, supposedly just an informational download from police, IU and city, felt both heart-centered and mindful, held in an atmosphere of mutual listening, care and respect.

So much so that afterwards, I was not surprised to suddenly come across this beautiful video of an elephant herd, I presume of mothers, gathered to celebrate and protect a newborn baby elephant. The synchronicity felt compelling. And the video brought tears to my eyes.

Published on Jan 6, 2015

On 23rd December 2014 Ex Orphan Emily returned to the Voi Stockades to give birth to her second wild born calf – Little Emma is born. Read the full story at: http://www.sheldrickwildlifetrust.org…

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David Swanson: Prophet of Peace or Teller of Doom? That depends on us.

davidsmiling.preview

David Swanson is the single most brilliant and articulate dissector of the deeply skewed war mentality and practice that, thanks to the U.S. Government’s seamless alliance with bloodthirsty corporations, dominates the entire planet today. I dare you to read or watch this recent speech in full. You won’t want to. The details are too horrifying, the reach too massive, and the implications too awful. (Better, as he says, to distract ourselves with basketball.) But you must, I must, we all must rise up out of our American stupefaction into an acute awareness of what IS, first.

Then, please, I beg of you, ask yourself if YOUR job is dependent somehow upon the military-industrial complex. Hint: it probably is, at least tangentially, but it’s probably difficult to tell, since everything’s designed to be compartmentalized.

And then ask yourself: what’s more important, my “job security” or Life on Earth? It is past time for all of us to transform our priorities. And that includes those of us who hold “stocks” as our “retirement security.” It’s way past time to divest in, not only nonrenewable energy stocks, but anything, absolutely anything that has to do with weapons manufacturing, promoting, supplying, or securitizing war.

The key is, in order to recognize the rights of both Mother Earth and all earthlings, we must each review the ways in which we, in our attempts to make ourselves and our loved ones feel secure, are actually helping to promote endless destruction.

Choose Life, and life opens in response to our passionate defense of all that we hold dear. 

War: It’s Human Nature only if Collective Suicide is Natural

Remarks at Michigan Pax Christi annual state conference, April 11, 2015.

Video.

Thank you for having me here. I know a lot of people have been involved in planning this event. Thank you!

I’m going to try this morning to address the question of how we can best talk our fellow human beings out of one of the primary myths that allows war to continue. And in a second speech later today I’m going to turn more to the question of activism and building a peaceful world.

I mailed a box of my books here, and I had to mail another one because the first box arrived undamaged except that all of the books were missing. Although I don’t know who stole the books, Mary Hanna recommended I inform you that the message I bring you was so threatening that the books were taken, and the empty box delivered, by a bunch of — and I quote — Weannie-heads!

Now, you see what I’ve done. I’ve called somebody a weannie head in a speech about peace but arranged it so you’ll blame Mary (and maybe the U.S. Postal Service) instead of me. But of course when Michigan State’s basketball team beat Virginia’s I said something worse than Mary has probably said in her life, just as I’d done the year before, not that I’m holding any grudges.

Now, we all know that resentment and blame are tools of war propaganda. So, in Mary’s defense and mine: neither of us called anybody a name in the presence of that person or proposed to harm any person or armed ourselves with massive machinery of death in preparation for books going missing or a basketball team losing. I didn’t put any Michigan State fans on a kill list and blow them and everyone near them to bits with hellfire missiles. Neither of us launched any invasions.

It’s rather a key distinction, isn’t it, getting angry with or without war weapons. But try to find a discussion of wars in the Middle East that even mentions that 80 to 90 percent of the weapons there are from the United States, with weapons sales and gifts up significantly under the Nobel Peace President.

So, when you come down to it, we would all probably be better people if we didn’t get angry at any other people — only at injustice. But since I didn’t organize millions of people to plan and prepare for carefully executed crusades of mass murder, my anger did considerably less damage than, say, George W. Bush’s feelings about Saddam Hussein having tried to kill his daddy.

I bring all of this up in order to comment on the idea of what’s called “human nature.” If “human nature” is something distinct from culture, then — whatever it may be — one might speculate (why you would I have no idea, but one could speculate if one wanted to) that my emotions watching basketball are “human nature.” War, on the other hand, is a collective effort. It requires plans, preparations, manufacturing, training, conditioning. How can such a group effort be distinct from culture? War is absolutely central to our culture. One would have to speculate baselessly and pointlessly that parts of our culture are “human nature” while other parts are not. But then which would be which?

When you take war participation on the individual level, you find that most individuals want nothing to do with it, nobody gets post traumatic stress from war deprivation, and in fact intense conditioning developed over decades of cultural experience is required to get most individuals to participate, many of whom never recover from having done so.

And when you take war participation at the group level, you find that many groups of humans, large and small, rich and poor, now and in the past, have had nothing to do with war. For most of human existence there was nothing that could be called war. Since war’s creation it has been sporadic. Societies have abandoned it for centuries and brought it back again. Most groups, most of the time, have left it well alone. And war today bears very little resemblance to war as it was 1,000 or even 100 years ago. In addition, the 95% of humanity that lives outside the United States mostly thinks about war very differently from how it is discussed in the United States. Discussion of “the next wars” as if war is inevitable is not normal. Debates over whether to bomb people in trouble or leave them alone are far less common than debates over how to help them. Concern over a nation resisting the presence of one’s own nation’s troops and missiles is unheard of outside of the imperial Homeland.

An American raised on Hollywood will tell you war is “natural,” “human nature,” inevitable, and genetic. But there are numerous well-documented accounts of human cultures not only free of war but unable to even understand what it is. An anthropologist asked a man why he didn’t use a dart gun, meant for hunting animals, against slave raiders coming to enslave his family, and he replied “Because it would kill them.” Probably I shouldn’t think of that as ignorance of the possibility of killing. We always want to treat difference as ignorance. The fact is that killing is the worst thing possible. It’s worse than enslaving. Logically a perfectly good case can be made for the man’s action and justification. In the United States, however, the idea that you would hold a gun and not use it against someone enslaving your family is almost incomprehensible. Probably we should think of that as ignorance. In our culture we praise people by saying “You really killed!” Probably we should think of that as prejudice. What we shouldn’t think of it as is “human nature.”

No, I’m not advocating that you let someone enslave your family. I’m simply pointing out that cultures exist that view murder very differently from how ours does. So, if acceptance of killing and total avoidance of killing both exist, as they do, how do we choose which one is “human nature.” Or if neither is “human nature,” is there something else that is “human nature”?

Well, if you try to define “human nature” as what every single human does, its content is vanishingly small. If you try to define it as things that most humans that you know of at a particular time and place do, how do you pick which things to include? And why bother? What is the point? The fact is that “human nature” is a meaningless and, to state it another way, a purposeless concept.

So why does it exist as a concept? Because there are purposes it has tried to serve. I can think of two, which might be called the normative and the excusatory. By normative I mean the habit some people have had of declaring that anything most people do should be done by everyone. If it’s normal for people to care for their children then everyone should care for their children. That sounds harmless enough. But what if it’s normal in Indiana to be heterosexual? What if it’s normal to hit kids or burn gasoline or eat dogs or sacrifice virgins? Why in the world should something’s being common make it good? On the contrary, whatever is good we should work to make common.

By excusatory I mean to refer to what has probably been the most frequent use of the concept “human nature” over the years, namely as a means to excuse horrible actions. Am I supporting something cruel and unfair, brutal and destructive? Do I hit or humiliate people? Do I exploit the weak? Do I steal and cheat? Do I participate in the large-scale murder of foreigners or the destruction of the natural world? Well, that’s OK. It’s “human nature,” so I’m powerless to stop. Stopping would require that I transform into some other species. Of course thousands of other people I know of don’t do the evil thing I’m doing, and they’re humans, but in my position they would do it too because it’s “human nature” — meaning no more and no less than it’s what I happen to be doing at the moment. If we don’t do it, supporters of continuing the slave trade argued in Parliament, other nations will do it. But other nations didn’t. If wedon’t garrison the planet, says the Pentagon, others will. Of course, they might or might not, but this won’t be determined by their sharing “human nature,” only by their sharing Pentagon nature.

“Human nature” has got to be the grandest term for the most mundane concept ever created. Have you ever heard of anyone doing something good and announcing that it wasn’t human nature? When a dog does something unusual, do the other dogs, or even the humans around chastise the dog for violating dog nature? Why does the human species alone get to drag around this bizarre concept of a “nature” that is both just whatever somebody happens to be doing and something very vaguely more than that?

Last October, Pax Christi Metro DC-Baltimore took out an advertisement in the National Catholic Reporter that read: “CRUSADES, INQUISITION, SLAVERY, TORTURE, CAPITAL PUNISHMENT, WAR: Over many centuries, Church leaders and theologians justified each of these evils as consistent with the will of God. Only one of them retains that position in official Church teaching today. We believe it’s time for the Catholic Church to reject ‘just war’ as inconsistent with the teaching and example of Jesus and to become a Just Peace Church.”

Not a bad statement, huh?

Do you know what people who don’t have special access to the “will of God” called and still call slavery, torture, capital punishment, and numerous other evils? That’s right, “human nature.” And if two people disagree about the will of god or the content of human nature they can appeal to exactly the same evidence to settle their dispute, namely nothing whatsoever — except either an agreement to disagree or the violent removal of the person disagreeing with one’s claim.

We’ve reached a point, of course, at which continuing with war risks the existence of humanity. The twin dangers of nuclear apocalypse and climate chaos are advanced more by war than anything else. The primary way in which war kills is by diverting massive resources away from where they could do good, including the good of environmental protection. In addition war is, in some ways, our top destroyer of the environment. On top of which wars are fought for the fuels that we use to destroy the environment. And in addition, the proliferation of nuclear energy and weaponry and the increasing ease of robotic war increases dramatically the risk of war destroying us all before the climate can.

Now, I’m not a professor of logic but I think we have arrived at something that qualifies as a logical proof.

  • If war is “human nature,” collective suicide is “human nature.” In other words, the nature of humanity is to cease to be.
  • But everybody from Aristotle to Bill O’Reilly would agree that the nature of something cannot be its absence.
  • Therefore, whether “human nature” means anything or not, it isn’t war.

Q.E.D.

Because “human nature” is an excuse for war, you’ll hear it most in the places that most frequently make war. And this of course leads to the humorous situation of the people who make war appealing to all the people who don’t to justify their war-making. The United States is far and away the world’s leading supplier of war weapons, buyer of war weapons, user or war weapons and all around facilitator of war. Ninety five percent of humanity is governed by governments that don’t have anything remotely like the U.S. investment in war. Many countries invest between 0 and 5 percent what the United States does in war. But if you ask an American why they can’t reduce the militarism a bit, they’ll tell you it’s “human nature.” See, the other 95% of humanity is not really part of “human nature.” “Human nature” turns out to be American nature. You find this same phenomenon across issues. No other country destroys the natural environment, at least on a per capita basis, remotely like the United States. But the waste and consumption are defended or accepted as “human nature.”

The United States spends over a trillion dollars a year on war preparations, about $1.3 trillion in fact, which is exactly what U.S. students and former students owe in total accumulated student debt which is understood to be an outrageous and massive crisis, yet it’s what Congress spends on war preparations each year – year after year — without comment, discussion, or debate. U.S. military spending has doubled since the U.S. invaded Afghanistan, yet the Congressional Progressive Caucus budget this year proposed to cut it by a grand total of 1 percent and didn’t even mention that in any of its statements about its budget. The rest of the world spends about another trillion dollars all together. So the average among about 200 other countries is about a half a percent of what the U.S. spends. If the United States, for whatever cockamamie reason, felt obliged to comply with a “human nature” that included the rest of the, you know, humans, it would be compelled to reduce its military by 99.5 percent. And if it did that, I’d be glad to let it defend its behavior with whatever language it wanted.

By the way, if you did the calculation based on per-capita military spending the reduction for the U.S. to meet the rest of the world’s average would be similarly extreme. The U.S. spends about $3,135 per person per year, and the rest of the world’s average is about $143, meaning about a 95 percent cut for the U.S. to start acting human.

If you did the calculation as a percentage of a nation’s economy, even by the most conservative measure, you’d still have to cut U.S. military spending by over a third — but the idea (quite common in Congressional testimony) that a country should have more weapons if it can afford them, rather than if they serve some good purpose, is — in my view — completely unacceptable, is in fact the root of the problem itself; excusing rich countries’ greater levels of killing because they’re rich seems to add insult to injury.

And if the United States reduced its militarism significantly, the path would be made smooth to reduce it entirely. That is, without losing faith in militarism, the United States could limit its Defense Department to things that serve a defensive purpose. It could guard its borders with all kinds of weaponry. But doing just that, and closing the foreign bases and occupations, scrapping the aircraft carriers and submarines, dismantling the nuclear weapons, abandoning all work on weapons in space, would have some major results. Without the U.S. threat and arms supply, arms races could reverse. Korea could reunite. Palestine could potentially reach a one-state solution. Without U.S. troops kicking in doors — excuse me, I mean policing — the globe, the U.S. government, the primary holdout, would be able to support international law.

Most importantly perhaps, any significant fraction of $2 trillion has the power to transform the world for the better if put to proper use. Gone would be starvation. Gone would be unclean water. (And lack of water in Detroit.) Gone homelessness. These are problems that end with the proper use of a tiny fraction of $2 trillion a year. Imagine if in 2003 the United States had simply given each citizen of Iraq a quarter of a million dollars. That expense wouldn’t approach what’s actually been spent, but I’m willing to bet at least some Iraqis would have appreciated the act. Of course giving away money is not simple and there are more effective ways to invest in health and education and green energy then just handing out cash. The point is we spent more money than that and what did we get? Over a million killed. Millions injured. Millions traumatized. A nation destroyed. The natural environment severely damaged. Our economy drained. Our civil liberties eroded. Our culture corroded. Our morality poisoned. And most of the world viewing the United States as a threat. For a smaller expense, the U.S. government could be loved. It chooses to spend more to be hated. When Gallup polled 65 nations at the end of 2013, and asked what nation was the greatest threat to peace in the world, the overwhelming winner was the United States.

I recommend pointing that poll out to people. It seems to me you either have to declare the world severely and irrationally deluded, perhaps requiring yet more militarism. Or you have to begin opening your eyes to the failure of militarism on its own terms, at which point you can notice that the United States loses all of its land wars, exacerbates whatever it claims to be fixing with its air wars, and plants seeds of evil with its drone wars — and countless recently retired U.S. officials admit all this.

Our neighbors up in Canada are trying to follow our warlike path, and I’ve been trying to tell them that they will regret it, but that it will take them years of work to build up anti-Canadian terrorist groups to rival those the United States has generated. So-called “defense” spending is counter-productive, but it’s not for amateurs. To have each new militant group in the Middle East using your weapons and imitating your rhetoric while releasing full-length films begging you to attack it, then growing by leaps and bounds when you do attack it, so that even your own citizens (with some FBI prodding) want to join it and your media can start pretending that the foreign group has infiltrated your cities — that takes skills that the United States has been mastering since before it stopped invading Canada. Did you see the headline “ISIS IN BROOKLYN”? Of course, no one from Iraq or Syria had come to Brooklyn to work for ISIS or even contacted anyone in Brooklyn; rather someone in Brooklyn had been poked and prodded into something by an FBI agent pretending to be ISIS.

The U.S. began in Yemen with murders by missiles, and drone defenders would tell you that missiles are better than other kinds of war, because with drones nobody dies. Meaning no Americans. A year ago, President Obama was claiming some sort of success. Several years ago, even I who couldn’t predict the basketball final four worth a darn, predicted that the drone war on Yemen would create a wider war. And now you have the U.S. assisting Saudi Arabia in slaughtering children to blow up U.S.-supplied weapons using U.S.-supplied weapons. And we get to sit back and think of those Yemenis as backward violent beasts because of their human nature which justifies our Pentagon which created this disaster.

Did you know there was a big protest in the Czech Republic recently of the U.S. militarism directed at Russia? And one in Kiev? On Hitler’s upcoming birthday, April 20th, the United States will start training Ukraine’s neo-Nazi volunteer military force. The United States has troops and weapons in Ukraine and throughout Eastern Europe now, right up to the border of Russia. People take this sort of thing a bit seriously, while we watch our basketball. The U.S. lied to Russia when the two Germanies reunited, claiming NATO wouldn’t expand an inch eastward. The U.S. facilitated a coup in Ukraine and is building up hostilities there, and Europeans and Russians are outraged. Last July Fourth I spoke outside a U.S. military base in England where the locals celebrate an Independence from America holiday. I’ve been talking with protesters in Sicily who are resisting construction of a U.S. Navy communications base. On Jeju Island, South Korea, resistance to a new U.S. Navy base is intense. In Okinawa the local government has heeded the protesters and halted U.S. base construction, against the will of the Japanese government. The Philippines is in an uproar over U.S. military action there. Around the world, people know the United States through its military occupation of their land. And as I watch basketball the announcer thanks U.S. troops for watching from 175 countries as if that’s good and normal.

Some know it isn’t. I applaud Pax Christi for speaking against the idea of a “just war.” Once we rid ourselves of the idea that some wars are good wars, we ought to be able to rid ourselves of the idea that we should be funding the permanent presence of either troops or robot death planes in darn near every country on earth. One doesn’t generally hear about cases of just child abuse or just rape or just racial discrimination. The Washington Post recently ran a column headlined “War on Iran May Be Our Best Option.” Imagine if it had said “Racism may be our best option” or “Killing kittens may be our best option.” Some things are, quite rightly, unacceptable. What if war were made one of those?

This is the case we’re making at World Beyond War: there is no upside to war, no excuse for war. It is all negative and it is the most negative thing we do, the most evil institution on earth. And there is no way to fix it. Human Rights Watch recently wrote a report on the horrors inflicted on Iraqi towns, not by ISIS, but by the Iraqi militias said to be “liberating” people from ISIS. But rather than acknowledge that such horrors have been part of every single war ever waged, Human Rights Watch urges reform plans and benchmarks and compliance with the so called laws of war. Amnesty International just came out with a report on the 2014 assault on Gaza that condemns the rockets shot out of Gaza for being insufficiently precise, as if better U.S.-made rockets would be more legal and acceptable. The UN is planning another meeting on inhumane weapons, but which are the humane weapons? You cannot use laws to reform the greatest violation of law. You cannot reform an institution of mass killing. Imaging trying to reform cancer.

Studies have actually found that talking about a so-called “war” on cancer hurts the cause of reducing cancer because people don’t adjust their behavior to avoid risks, focusing instead on medical hopes to eliminate cancer from the world. But at least the understanding is there that cancer is entirely undesirable, that we don’t need Geneva Conventions for the proper creation and use of good cancer.

A remarkable article appeared in the June 2014 issue of the American Journal of Public Health. I quote:

“Since the end of World War II, there have been 248 armed conflicts in 153 locations around the world. The United States launched 201 overseas military operations between the end of World War II and 2001, and since then, others, including Afghanistan and Iraq. During the 20th century, 190 million deaths could be directly and indirectly related to war — more than in the previous 4 centuries.”

Beyond the death, war injures and traumatizes on a far vaster scale. It is the leading cause of homelessness. It is, by various measures, the leading destroyer of the natural environment. It is by far the leading justification for the erosion of civil liberties and self-governance. It is the leading drain on wealth and prosperity in the world. Imagine if such an institution were newly proposed. Wouldn’t we immediately reject it out of hand?

It was wonderful to see push back when Indiana proposed to allow discrimination against people based on their sexual orientation. Imagine if Indiana proposed the creation of the institution of war. I mean, imagine if we didn’t have war, and Indiana came up with the idea. We’ll dump over half of government spending into this new operation, Indiana would propose, and it won’t do us any good, but it will put our lives at risk while murdering thousands upon thousands of innocent people, and we’ll lose a lot of rights in the process. Who would stand for such an outrage?

But then why should something be acceptable just because it already existed yesterday? Shouldn’t we bloody well be outraged? Isn’t there an appropriate anger here? Might there not even be a place, at least generically, for the term Weannie-heads?

What if, instead of Indiana, it was a foreign country that did some of the things the United States does? When Ecuador said the United States could keep its bases there if Ecuador could have a base in Florida, the idea was seen as ludicrous. Why? When Iran tries to keep U.S. ships a bit further from its coast, the U.S. sees this as aggressive, but how close would the U.S. like Iranian ships to be to its coast? If Mexico was murdering people with drones in the United States, would the U.S. approve? If Cuba bombed Miami for harboring terrorists, would U.S. State Department lawyers defend that action? This is always a good test of morality, sometimes known as the golden rule, but also in this case a good test for nationalism. One way to test whether you’re identifying with a nation is to ask yourself if you would approve of the same actions if performed by a different nation. You can identify with a nation but want it to behave fairly toward other nations, but only if you’re identifying more so with humanity.

Another way for people to question their beliefs is to ask how you would feel if the so-called collateral damage, that is to say the bulk of the people killed in a war, the innocent civilians, were in the United States. Could you justify it as a price worth paying for … whatever it is supposedly a price worth paying for? Most people clearly could not, but do not ask the question and do not let themselves even know that wars are one-sided slaughters of people from the dispensable nations rather than the indispensible one.

Another good test is to ask yourself what you would approve if another political party did it. If a Republican president were going through a list of men, women, and children on Tuesdays and picking which ones to murder, would you react in exactly the same way in which you have reacted to President Obama’s kill list? This question begins with the question of whether you would allow yourself to know about a story that has been public knowledge for three years since a frontpage New York Times article covered it, or would you avoid knowing about this outrage? Secondary is the question of what you would do if you allowed yourself to know.

A similar question is what you would think if a different branch of government did something. If the House Armed Services Committee were going through a kill list, picking victims, and murdering them and anyone nearby, would you approve, dissent, or ask for details?

In the case of the one war that President Obama does not want, Iran, people have suddenly discovered that they can advocate for alternatives to war. Another good question to put into people’s minds is this: Why not prefer alternatives to war in the case of each of the other wars being waged or contemplated? Why only in Iran? Why object to the rush to war only when one U.S. political party does so? Why object to gruesome executions by ISIS but not by Saudi Arabia? Why get outraged on command rather than everywhere events are outrageous?

I think we need to ask these questions and get organized to work for a stronger push to eliminate war and replace it with nonviolent means of resolving conflicts, because contrary to certain Western academic pretenses war is not going away, much less going away on its own. On the contrary, war is worsening its destruction, and the use of drones is normalizing war in a way that makes greater and greater destruction likely.

I’ve drafted some remarks for later today in which I look at how we might get to a world beyond war and what a world beyond war might look like. I think properly understanding a world devoted to war is the only place to start. And I think we should understand it not as an entire world hopelessly condemned to war but as a world making the completely optional decision to proliferate war primarily at the insistence of the United States government. Understanding that war is a choice, means that peace too is an available option.

I had planned to leave time here for questions but learned that there’s a whole separate section on the schedule for questions, so let me instead begin the topic of What Do We Do About It?

How do you get enough people sufficiently active to push back against war and militarism? Well, we had enough people active from 2001 to 2007 to spread a great deal of at least short-lived awareness of at least some of the evils of war and to force an end, temporary as it turned out, to the U.S. war on Iraq — albeit on a three-year delay.

And we had enough people informed and active in 2013 to prevent a massive assault on Syria that Wall Street, the corporate media, and all the top politicians in Washington favored and expected to begin imminently.

But by 2014, President Obama, who’d been forced out of Iraq by Bush’s treaty, was right back in, and the U.S. was engaged in the same war it had failed to fully join in 2013, albeit on the opposite side.

Yet in 2015 publicly supported diplomacy with Iran was holding off the neocon vision of a war there.

What makes the difference between moments when peace succeeds and moments when war does? Well, it helps when other interests align. Obama wants peace with Iran but Iranian war along with U.S. war against ISIS. The reason peace only succeeds for a moment, though, is that peace doesn’t advance beyond a pause for reloading. The U.S. didn’t bomb Syria two years ago, but it didn’t invest in aid, diplomacy, or arms embargoes either. Instead it armed and trained killers, bided its time, and waited for better propaganda. The propaganda that seems to do best is not that of the humanitarian war but that of the war against evil demons coming to get us: ISIS throat slitters bringing Ebola from Mexico to our children’s schools.

What makes the difference in terms of public engagement in the United States at the moment — and we’d better change this or it will kill us all — is partisanship. A couple of scholars, Michael Heaney and Fabio Rojas have a new book out called Party in the Street: The Antiwar Movement and the Democratic Party after 9/11. Some of you may have run into them as they did surveys of participants in peace events for years. They found that identification of the Democratic Party with peace was the primary factor in enlarging the peace movement toward the beginning of the Bush presidency and in shrinking it toward the end of that presidency.

So the obvious answer as to how you enlarge the peace movement is not really a secret at all: you install a Republican president. Now, you can debate whether the cure is worse than the disease, but the cure is as certain as Advil for a headache. You want a big peace movement, swallow a Republican President and a Republican Vice President and see how things look in the morning.

Now, determining whether Republican presidents are worse war makers, even with activist resistance, is not so simple and not actually going to help us. Unless we build a peace movement larger and more principled than alliance with either big political party will allow, we’re done for.

The top risk from war is nuclear holocaust. That danger continues to grow with active U.S. assistance. The second worst thing a U.S. president can do about war is grab more war powers and pass them on to all future presidents. In that regard, President Obama has outdone President Bush. Lying to Congress is now totally routine: Congress and the United Nations can simply be ignored. Secrecy has mushroomed. President Obama picks out men, women, and children to murder from a list on Tuesdays. The public, the Congress, and the courts have no say and often no knowledge. President Obama has dramatically increased U.S. weapons sales abroad — the U.S. being far and away the top supplier of weapons to regions that the U.S. public thinks of as inherently violent.

While Obama’s body count doesn’t yet begin to approach Bush’s in terms of people directly and violently killed, that’s not a standard that will get us to survival, much less peace and prosperity.

We should not, of course, think of the political party that lied the United States into two world wars, the Korean war, the war on Vietnam, the Kosovo war, the Libya war, and the war on ISIS — the party that dropped the nukes on Japan — as a party for peace. Longtime war advocates like Charles Schumer and Hillary Clinton shouldn’t get a pass. Hillary was instrumental in persuading her husband to bomb the former Yugoslavia against the will of Congress. She pushed for the 2003 attack on Iraq and the 2011 attack on Libya. She tried to get a U.S. war on Syria going in 2013. She pushed for the Obama-era escalation in Afghanistan — a war that is now more Obama’s than Bush’s by every measure. Hillary has urged Iran to be aware that she could “obliterate” it. She has giggled with pleasure at having killed Muamar Gadaffi. She’s hawkish on Ukraine. But the sort of candidate the Republicans will nominate will be just as bad. The answer to a broken electoral system begins with ceasing to look for new messiahs through elections. Imagine the world survives to 2024 and the Democrats are dedicated to electing a Latino warmonger or perhaps even a gay warmonger, valuing tokenism over human life. I don’t think such a world would last to 2026.

But Democratic-party-style opposition to a Republican president won’t save us either. Opposing the war on Iraq because of the 3 percent of the deaths that were American or because of the fraction of the financial damage that was American left people ill-informed and ill-prepared to oppose other wars. Opposing the war on Iraq because the war on Afghanistan was more important, was not a way to end war. Opposing the war on Iraq because it drained military preparedness was a way to elect a new regime intent on enlarging the military and preparing for more wars. Opposing Pentagon corruption and wasting money on weapons that don’t even work is not the way to oppose war. I love the weapons that don’t even work, when compared with the alternative.

What should give us some inspiration is the public resistance in 2013 to the so-called missile strikes into Syria, because the support for it was bipartisan, and the opposition was bipartisan. That opposition is what we can build on. But it needed to be far stronger to make its momentary success last. It needed to undo the phony debate between bombing and doing nothing. It needed to make clear the alternatives of diplomacy, cease fires, arms embargoes, negotiations, aid, peaceworkers, human shields, journalists, and video cameras, rather than weapons and trainers and war planners and that horror of an embarrassment known as the CIA.

So we need a bigger better peace movement, and we need it allied with other movements, including one to create open, free, and verifiable elections. And I’ll talk about that in my second speech.

OK, do you want to hear my paranoid suspicion as to why my first shipment of books arrived here as an empty box? I think I annoyed the CIA. There was a trial of Jeffrey Sterling. Raise your hand if you know about Jeffrey Sterling. He was the CIA handler of a former Russian used by the CIA to slip nuclear bomb plans to Iran in 2000. The plans had mistakes inserted into them, which was supposed to slow down Iran’s nonexistent nuclear bomb program, except that the mistakes were glaringly obvious, to the Russian among others. So, Sterling went to Congress with this information, and Congress did nothing. So, somebody went to a New York Times reporter named James Risen, and the New York Times would do nothing, but Risen published it in a book. So they’ve now convicted Sterling of giving secret information to Risen based on what the NSA calls meta-data. That is, they know Sterling spoke to Risen on the phone but not what he said. Many other people could have told Risen. And it was secret not to protect you and me but to protect the conniving weannie heads at the CIA.

In the course of the trial, the CIA made a document public with certain words blacked out. It was a report on plans in 2000 to give nuclear bomb plans to another country. Well, I wrote about this document and pointed out that the country was Iraq, that not long before the big Iraq mushroom cloud scare of 2002, the CIA had been at least planning to give nuke plans to Iraq. There were two clues, which frankly Encyclopedia Brown could have found quite easily, that made the blacked out country in the CIA report Iraq. First, it was proceeded by the article “an,” not “a,” meaning that it began with a vowel. Second, the document was written on a grid, with the characters lining up in vertical columns, so it was obvious exactly how many letters had been blacked out. Only Iraq or Oman would work, and Oman made no sense at all.

Of course, my goal is not to annoy the CIA but to encourage those working at the CIA to quit, those funding the CIA to cut it off, and those tolerating in the CIA a secret warmaking machine to at least imagine how they would feel about that if the president were a Republican.

Thanks for being here today.

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California Dreamin’ — of Water: Take Five, Overview and LA Plans

(Check these posts for California Dreamin': Takes One, Two, Three, and Four.)

First, some not-so-funny humor:

Poll — Americans staring to worry about climate change now that it affects their lawns

Next, an overview of the antique, jerry-rigged, me-versus-you regulations that afflict and magnify the crisis

A Guide to California’s Water Crisis and Why It’s So Hard to Fix

Finally, an interesting plan that will make lawns and swimming pools passe´ in Los Angeles. Funny thing though: the plan to build high rise apartments right beside mass transit reminds me of  Agenda 21 and leads me to ask: What else is to be centrally planned for this area? And could this drought have been geoengineered to bring in Agenda 21 in California? The timing of the plan, whisked out within only weeks of Governor Brown’s new rule that 25% of urban water must be curtailed, reminded me of how the “Patriot Act” with its “Homeland Security” plan was brought out within weeks of 9/11. Obviously, that one was taken off the shelf. Was this one? Each Central Plan just requiring a dramatic event to “require” it as a “solution” to the “problem” that had led to our “reaction.”

Yep. That’s the “conspiracy theorist” in me speaking. Not that it’s the only voice inside me, but it is real, and based on picking up on the ethers of  what’s attempting to be instituted from top down during these strange, horrifying, exhilarating times of total upheaval and  wondering: are we in heaven, or hell?

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LA Just Called. It Says to Go Find Another Dystopia

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How to “be happy”? Simply, connect.

Though you and I may not need either The Guardian to tell us, or science to “prove” it, at last the so-called powers-that-be begin to ask questions that encourage humans to value and enhance Earth and Earthlings as one subtle, complex, diverse, interwoven, living being. And as the Sufis say

“There is One Holy Book, the sacred manuscript of nature, the only scripture which can enlighten the reader.”

The key to our happiness is connection not competition

Schools and workplaces encourage our selfish side, but research suggests this attitude is counterproductive to our wellbeing

March 20, 2015

by Mark Williamson

theguardian

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Photograph: Sean Clarke/Alamy

There are two different sides to human nature. Both are important, but the balance between them has huge implications for our wellbeing, culture and future.

One side of our nature is self-interested. This is our in-built instinct to do whatever we can to survive and thrive, often at the expense of others. The other side is co-operative and leads us to help others even when there is no direct benefit for ourselves.

Although Charles Darwin is normally associated with the “survival of the fittest” theory, he also believed that our natural instinct was to care for others. In The Descent of Man he wrote that the communities most likely to flourish were “those with the most sympathetic members”, an observation backed up by research that we are wired to care about each other.

But we have such a strong cultural narrative about the selfish side of humanity that we adopt systems and behaviours that undermine our natural co-operative tendencies. This starts in schools, where the relentless focus on exams and attainment instills in young people the idea that success is about doing better than others. It continues in our marketing culture, which encourages conspicuous displays of consumption and rivalry.

It’s found at the heart of our workplaces, where employees compete with each other for performance-related rewards. It’s behind the self-interested behaviour that makes it so hard to overcome major societal challenges such as climate change.

This “get ahead or lose out” ethos not only fails to promote the better side of our nature, it’s also deeply flawed. In schools, helping young people to develop social and emotional skills doesn’t just enhance their wellbeing, it’s also been shown to boost their performance.

In workplaces, research from Adam Grant, professor of management at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School shows that “givers” – people who help others without seeking anything in return – are more successful in the long term than “takers” – who try to maximise benefits for themselves, rather than others.

For society as a whole, the World Happiness Report 2013, a major global study, found that two of the strongest explanatory factors for national wellbeing are levels of social support and generosity. Our success as a society directly depends on the extent to which we see each other as a source of support rather than a source of threat.

Today is the International Day of Happiness and this year’s theme is “your happiness is part of something bigger”, focusing on the importance of connecting with and caring about the people around us. This matters for sustainability for three significant reasons.

Firstly, it is a timely reminder of the importance of collaboration and the need for systems thinking, both within and across organisations. This is the only way we can solve the major challenges in our increasingly complex and interconnected world.

Secondly, it links to the growing body of evidence including a recent paper from the University of Warwick that shows when people feel happier and more connected they are more productive at work. Dr Teresa Belton, researcher and visiting fellow at the University of East Anglia, has also shown it leads people tobehave in more environmentally sustainable ways.

This doesn’t just matter for business leaders and policy makers, it relates to the way that we each behave as individuals and how we treat others in our communities and working lives.

Today people all around the world are taking small actions to create more positive connections with others around them, whether at the office, in the shops, on the train or in their neighbourhood. These tiny moments of friendliness and co-operation aren’t trivial and meaningless; they are the vital lifeblood of a good society.

The rethinking prosperity hub is sponsored by DNV GL. All content is editorially independent except for pieces labelled “brought to you by”. Find out more here.

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An astonishing book that I didn’t know I was looking for: DIE WISE

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I’m about one-third through, savoring every train of thought and feeling that Jenkinson explores, often with surprising twists and turns, and a deep, deep penetration into the psychology, sociology, economics, philosophy, and culture of our individual and collective avoidance of death and the deathing process. Here’s one pregnant, trenchant paragraph. There are thousands of others: 

We aren’t taught dying in school. If you think that sex education in schools was an uphill battle, try getting death education into the curriculum. I have, and it should be in the dictionary entry defining “futile.” Kids are taught the life cycle, but it’s usually the life cycle of frogs. They aren’t often taught that it includes death, and they’re rarely taught that it includes them. We have no mentors for dying, no National Living Treasures skilled in the traditional arts of dying well. Instead, we have legions of accomplices in the project of not dying, and others in the project of hiding it away. We have just about no tradition of dying well. If you are not born with the instinct for dying well, you have to learn it. I wish you every success in finding someone who is good at it and is willing to teach you. You have to learn how to die, or you probably will not die wisely or well.

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