Renowned Heart Surgeon Apologizes. Cholesterol is NOT the problem. Inflammation IS.

This is the best and clearest detailed description of what’s so terribly wrong with the doctor-recommended usual American diet, and how it has actually caused inflammation, and therefore the diseases endemic to society today. Of course, those of us who switched to a saner way of eating a long time ago don’t need this essay, unless they want an informed way to discuss with others why changing their diet will reduce or prevent obesity, heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and other chronic diseases.

For me, the key has long been, when I do “go to the supermarket,” avoid the middle aisles altogether, because that’s where the processed food sits on the shelf, never rotting. I pretty much stick to the fresh produce section, hopefully organic and/or local. More and more large grocery chains are now accommodating this changed (and very old-fashioned) way of eating.

Big Pharma will, however, lose out; 25% of people in the U.S. are on expensive statin medications. That’s one out of four people! Truly astonishing. Which reminds me of another report I saw yesterday, which states that 600,000 Americans each consume more than $50,000 worth of pharmaceuticals annually!

Ye gods! We must be living in parallel worlds.

World Renowned Heart Surgeon Speaks Out on What Really Causes Heart Disease

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Memorial Day. Yuck!

Predictably, the local paper carried a sentimental story about veterans the title of which included the phrase “remembering the fallen” and took up most of the front page. 

On the other hand, I’ve run across lots of folks who would rather, like myself —

My Memorial Day Blues

— see Memorial Day as one more perverse celebration of a waning Empire’s determination to continue warmongering.  global military spending

Actually, it’s all we do! Nothing else matters! Just about everything else in our so-called economy is at least tangentially connected to some facet or other of “our” Military Industrial Complex. It’s the “Muscle of the US Economy,”
 according to this special report on the MIC.


The military industry is a dominant player in the US economy. Military orders drive America’s manufacturing sector. More than one-third of all engineers and scientists in the US are engaged in military-related jobs. Several sections of the country and a number of industrial sectors, particularly shipbuilding and aerospace, are greatly dependent upon military spending or foreign arms sales.

The Department of Defense (DoD), together with the top defense corporations – or what is known as the “military-industrial complex” – controls the largest coordinated bloc of industry in the US.

In 2001, after taking into account the emergency anti-terror funding and supplemental appropriations to finance the war in Afghanistan, the Pentagon’s budget amounted to some $375 billion. In addition to the rising annual Defense budget, military spending also eats up much of the budgets of the Department of Energy and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. At present, it consumes about 55% of the federal government’s discretionary expenditures. Roughly 75% of federal research and development expenditure is devoted to military projects.

The top aerospace and defense corporations, consisting of 11 companies, employ 901,258 people. (See Table)

These corporations mostly rely on DoD contracts. Most of these companies are also among the top defense corporations in the whole world.

Historically, the US economy shook off economic depression during World Wars I and II as establishments and factories vigorously worked to support the American war machine. For a superpower like the US, war is an avenue leading out of an economic slump since practically all economic sectors become engaged in the country’s war efforts. Aside from boosting the local economy and generating jobs, the US also earned from selling weapons to its wartime allies.It is not surprising, therefore, that many Americans and their elected representatives support continued Pentagon spending. The military industry has become a huge and untouchable jobs program employing directly and indirectly a large number of blue-collar workers and a rising number of technical professionals. Defense workers are kept in line by the fear of job loss and ensuing economic crisis. This threat is also used to frustrate efforts to scale back military production or to convert it to socially useful purposes.


And why not? After all, America is “exceptional,” it enjoys “manifest destiny.” Oh?

Here’s an interesting essay that points out how, in the 21st century, we “witness the slipping away of the traditional advantage accruing to military power alone.”

America on Memorial Day: Heavily armed, dangerous, unstable

One poster says it all.


And here’s another McGovern, Ray McGovern, speaking truth about “the fallen.”

How to Honor Memorial Day






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Since it’s Sunday, let’s talk about “God.”

And to do so, let’s bring in Valerie Tarico, a former Evangelical Christian, who has been pondering the ontological, sociological, psychological, and epistemological status of “God” in human life for a long time.

But before we go there, let me just say that I’m amazed that anyone “goes to church” anymore. Walking with puppy Shadow this morning, I noticed a small van from the Lutheran Church pull up to a large married student housing complex at I.U. No one was waiting outside, so it immediately pulled away. I wonder how many stops it makes before it goes back to church, empty. 

The God Debate

May 24, 2015

by Valerie Tarico


God - people praisingOn May 20 I participated in a four person debate about the existence of God at Western Washington University. On the ‘yes’ side were Mike Raschko and Mark Markuly from the School of Theology and Ministry at Seattle University. On the ‘no’ side were Bob Seidensticker and me. Here are my remarks:

Does God exist? Before we can even consider the question, we have to ask, which God? God can be defined in such a way as to make this question unanswerable, in practice and even in theory. Some versions of God can’t be either proven or disproven, and in that space all any of us can do is to make our own best guesses, based on what seems likely or probable. On the other hand, sometimes, even when we don’t know exactly what is real, some possibilities can be ruled out.

The God of the Bible

As a psychologist, I was trained to not take questions at face value but to ask, what are we really trying to get at here? I think what interests most people in the West is not whether the universe was shaped by some unknowable prime mover or is held together by some transcendent ground of all being, but how we should think about the God of the Bible.

Believers often argue for the possibility of an abstract creator who shaped the constants of the universe, when what they really want is to carve out possibility-space for something much more personal and traditional, like a God who loves us unconditionally but required the death of Jesus to save us from our sins.

The Bible God is a specific kind of deity: all-powerful, all-knowing, and all-good. He intervenes in human affairs in response to prayer and for a host of other reasons. People who believe in this God claim specific historical knowledge about how he has intervened in the past, based mostly on the Bible. And they claim specific promises from him. And we have ways of evaluating many of these claims.

To my mind, the likelihood that the Bible God exists depends on the answer to four questions:

  1. Do claims about this God pass the tests of not contradicting each other and not contradicting external evidence?
  2. Is the Bible’s God the best and most likely explanation for the design and function of nature?
  3. Is the Bible’s God the best and most likely explanation for the biblical record and Christian history?
  4. Is the Bible’s God the best and most likely explanation for humanity’s long and enduring quest for God or our profound experience of His presence in our lives?

I think that the answer to all four of these questions is no:

  • No because many of the claims made about God in the Bible contradict either each other or external evidence.
  • No because we have better explanations for natural phenomena.
  • No because we can explain the biblical record without recourse to God.
  • And no because we can do the same for our own experience of God.

All of these “no” answers make the existence of the Christian God highly unlikely.

In the interests of time, I’m going to touch on just the first question. And then I’m going to skip ahead and touch on the fourth question, which is about the psychology of religion, since that is what interests me most.

The Problem of Suffering

The single best logical argument against an all-powerful, perfectly good and loving, interventionist God is one that goes all the way back to the Greek Philosopher Epicurus:

If God is willing to prevent evil but he can’t, then he is not all-powerful. If he is able to prevent evil but not willing, then he is evil, himself. If He is both able and willing, then why is there still atrocity in the world? If he is neither willing nor able, then why call him God?

Philosophers and theologians have been outlining counter-arguments against Epicurus for over two thousand years now, but many of these arguments cause more problems for theists than they solve. Logically and factually, the problem of suffering is a fatal challenge to certain ideas of God:

21,000 children died today of starvation and illness. Most of them were infants and toddlers who experienced little else in their short lives. Each one died, unable to understand what was happening—knowing only pain and hunger and perhaps some vague sense of being betrayed by a mother who for some incomprehensible reason wouldn’t make it go away.

Now someone trying to defend the Bible god may say that this suffering is because of human sin. It is our fault. (At least, I used to try to excuse my loving, all powerful God in this way.)

But consider this: Somewhere in the Cascade Mountains this evening a black bear tore the leg off of a deer. And the deer is lying on the ground in intense fear and pain as the bear gnaws at her body. Like the hungry toddler, she is unable to comprehend what is happening, and will remain in that state till she dies.

And on Sinclair Island, just off the Washington coast, a parasitic wasp has laid her larvae in a wound she made in a small gray mouse—the only place she can, by design. Those larvae will hatch and grow, eating the mouse from the inside, and the mouse will feel more and more wretched until they are ready to rupture through her abdomen, having used her life to produce their own. I know this because my daughters once put a pregnant-looking mouse in a small nest of grass in a cage, and waited for babies, and then watch in horror as the wasp larvae ate their way out.

So, here is the question that I want to ask, one that I think gets overlooked too often in debates about the Bible God.

Why is our yearning to believe so powerful that no number of starving children, no amount of suffering among other sentient creatures can shut it down? Why do so many otherwise kind, decent, compassionate people put energy into defending what we might otherwise find indefensible: the idea that all of these horrors happen under the watchful eye of an all-powerful, loving God who intervenes in our lives but didn’t intervene in theirs?

The Question Beneath the Question

I said earlier that the question Does God exist? is often a proxy for a different one. Here, I think, is what we really want to know:

Does there exist a god who is relevant to our lives—whose power we can tap or favor we can curry in order to live happier or longer, to attain peace and love, and transcend life’s hardships? Is there a higher power that can help us to win the internal struggle against immediate gratifications and short-sighted selfishness that put our long term wellbeing and that of other people at risk?

Our quest to find and know God is instrumental, though it sounds odd to put it that way. It is a means to an end.

Not long ago a meme made its way around Facebook. It said, “If God can’t keep little children from being abused in his own places of worship, what good is he?”

The meme illustrates something important: We rarely ask out loud about God, What good is he, meaning not, Is he good? (as in the dilemma posed by Epicurus) but What use is he?And yet that really is what lies beneath the questions about God’s existence and nature. What good is he to us? How can we get the good things we want from him? What must we believe or confess or do to win his favor?

Our ancestors generated a whole host of ideas about who the gods are and then rules about how humans can relate to them in ways that get us what we want: health, children, enduring prosperity, protection from our enemies, bountiful crops—along with more esoteric desires like a sense of tribal superiority and individual righteousness–and perhaps most importantly the ability to delay or avoid death, or at least make it not permanent.

What We’re Really After

Not everybody wants the same thing from God either here on earth or in the afterlife.

At the most simple, people who preach and practice Prosperity Gospel like Joel Olsteen and his followers or Creflo Dollar, may basically want money.

But most believers in gods want something more complex, more like what one ancient writer called the fruit of the spirit—love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, kindness, temperance–and of course faith or hope. Worship can trigger a powerful experience of transcendence or joy or wonder or one-ness, a deep pleasure that is hard even to verbalize.

Similarly, popular images of the afterlife can be pretty crassly material—mansions and streets of gold, gemstones and crowns, eternal youth and white robes signaling no need to work. When people are desperate and powerless and poor, the symbols and trappings of wealth can be very appealing. But again, people may yearn for an afterlife that is something much simpler or more complex, something that includes submission and selflessness, maybe an eternal variation on that incredible worship experience that is such a powerful feel good.

Regardless of the specifics, when we commit our lives, our money, our energy to a god, we expect something back. Without the hope that our devotion can change our lives and afterlives for the better by winning God’s favor, then the question of whether God exists simply isn’t interesting to most people.

If we knew for sure that God was the god of Thomas Jefferson a prime mover who put the universe in motion and disengaged, or if we knew for sure that God was the god of Albert Einstein, best understood as a set of mathematical intricacies that are frankly incomprehensible to—me anyways. . . . If we knew that God’s predestined plan was going to play out no matter what we did, then people would simply get on with their lives: trying to take care of their kids and get rid of their headaches and pay their bills and maybe occasionally practice random acts of kindness and senseless beauty.

“Cultivating” God

What people wouldn’t do is this: They wouldn’t spend time trying to cultivate a relationship with God– whether that means prayer without ceasing or church on Sundays or offering burnt offerings. And they wouldn’t spend time trying to win converts, to get other people to cultivate the same kind of relationship with God.

You know, the word cultivate and the word cult, meaning religious practice, have the same root word, the Latin cultus, which literally meant the care and feeding of the gods. We cultivate the ground to get crops out. Salesmen cultivate clients. Nonprofits cultivate donors. Worship is a form of cultivation. Our ancestors used take care of the gods so the gods would take care of them. In our own 21st Century way, we do the same.

As humans, a huge part of our energy goes into trying to figure out the cause and effect relationships that govern our lives and wellbeing. To that end, we need a god who cares how we think and feel and behave because otherwise we have no way to influence what God does. That is what I mean when I say that our interest in God is instrumental. It is not actually about God, per se; it is about us.

Rabbit Hole Reasoning

One of the things cognitive scientists are learning about human beings is that when we want strongly to believe something, there are few limits to the kinds of “motivated reasoning” we are capable of. The ever shifting descriptions and defenses of the Bible God illustrate this perfectly.

When the first books of the Bible were written, God not only had a human psyche but also literally a human form. He came down to earth and walked among men. And he meddled constantly. The hand of God was invoked to explain everything from crop failures, to why childbearing hurts like hell, to seizures.

Today God has lost his human shape, physically at least, and the realm of supernatural explanations gets smaller by the year. We know why crops fail, and it’s not divine punishment. We know why pushing out big-brained babies hurts women, and it’s not original sin. We know what causes seizures, and it’s not demons. A few fundamentalists like Pat Robertson and Ted Cruz may still think that mega-storms or droughts are better explained by gay marriage than atmospheric carbon, but serious people now restrict themselves to invoking supernatural explanations only for the mathematical structure of the universe or the relation of the physical world to consciousness, or our uncanny sense of the numinous.

So, the shape of God and the arguments for God keep changing but to devout Bible believers the answer stays the same: God still thinks like a human. He hears your prayers, and he has a wonderful plan for your life; but to get to heaven you have to believe the right things and worship (ie. cultivate) him in the right way. And if you ever doubt, the flaws lie in you, not these ideas. When arguments and evidence keep changing but the answer is invariant, that’s a really strong indicator of motivated belief, where the evidence follows from the answer rather than the answer coming from the evidence.

Living in a world of probabilities.

Despite everything I have said, it is possible that a god exists who wants a personal relationship with each of us and who changes his behavior in response to our prayers.

As they say, just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean they’re not out to get you. Just because we find a certain kind of god concept serves our purposes, just because we want a person god that fits our feelings and yearnings and the relational structure of the human mind . . . None of this precludes that such a god exists. Naturalistic explanations for our god-belief could be completely sufficient, and god would still be possible.

It is possible that an unseen asteroid is going to strike the earth tomorrow in which case you might as well sleep through your classes or work. It’s possible that you are in a dream right now and if you stand up and take off your clothes no one will remember in the morning. It is possible, like Big Oil’s spokesmen say, that climate change isn’t real.

It’s possible. But being mentally healthy means living in a world of probabilities, not possibilities.

So, let me come back to the question that we’re after: Does the God of Abraham, Isaac and Ishmael exist?

I think we can do better.


Valerie Tarico is a psychologist and writer in Seattle, Washington. She is the author ofTrusting Doubt: A Former Evangelical Looks at Old Beliefs in a New Light and Deas and Other Imaginings, and the founder of  Her articles about religion, reproductive health, and the role of women in society have been featured at sites including AlterNet, Salon, the Huffington Post, Grist, and Jezebel.  Subscribe



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Matt Damon: “I start from the supposition that the world is topsy turvy.”

The above reminds me of his famous rant in Good Will Hunting, when he was interviewed for a job with the NSA.

This is one actor for whom the line between fiction and fact is very very thin. Bravo!

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How to Change the World? Be the Hummingbird!

Yesterday I posted a story about a wealthy couple who noticed something horrible, right in front of them, which they had both the will and the means to address. We all see such troubling things every day, right in front of us. Many of these situations move us, at least momentarily, make us want to step up to the plate and act. And at least some of them we do have both the will and the means to address. This may be something as simple as seeing an old woman who is trying to cross a busy street with heavy packages. Our impulse is to help her cross. Follow that impulse! Or we notice someone stopped by the side of a busy road, trying to change their own tire. The impulse is to stop, and help. Do!

In my case, I am addressing, in my home and neighborhood, all sorts of “issues” on a daily basis, figuring out which ones are for others to do, which require group action, which are mine alone — inching all of them forward. In terms of this two-house pod, I’ve decided that the borders of our properties that face the two streets (we are situated at an intersection) will be my personal responsibility, since it’s already my responsibility to serve as the person who works the edges between this pioneering place and our fair city, its antiquated codes.

Plus, this week, with podmate Katarina’s help, I’m going to prepare a slide presentation showing the seven-year evolution of the GANG Green Acres Neighborhood Garden for a talk on Friday, June 5. And, prepare my “three minute talk” for June 3 about the Trade Agreements that I would like our city council to pass a local resolution against. Next Saturday, May 30, is the “protest paddle” down the White River, where the PTB plan to build an unnecessary dam that will threaten the ancient Anderson Mounds, among other devastations. I’ve reserved a canoe. The Saturday after that is the city’s HAND department’s Blooming Neighborhood Celebration at the Farmer’s Market, where we shall sit at the Green Acres table and hand out free seedlings.

So when I say “both the will and the means” I do not mean that we have to be “rich” in order to address whatever injustice or despoilation is occurring right in front of us. Each beautiful, ensouled person brings a wealth of talents, skills, and experience to this common human table, each of us is utterly and magnificently unique, and all of us are required to show up, if we intend to move forward together in a way that not just defies extinction, but that invites the death of the old so that the new can be born.

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Doomer Humor: “Reason No. 1,294,876 Why We’re Going Extinct”


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Robert Jensen: “Most people focus on how to end poverty. I think it’s more important to end wealth.”

Or maybe we should say, let us end the perception of money as wealth and instead remember to recognize what is real wealth: Mother Nature, and her endlessly regenerative capacity. See this:

Ever since I moved to Indiana in 2003 and, after one year of consciously grieving my husband’s sudden death, began this experiment in resilient living — first in my home, and now in our two-home pod, with the Green Acres Neighborhood Garden, all three inside the greater Green Acres Neighborhood Association transforming into Ecovillage, I’ve made many personal changes to at least reduce the social and ecological impact of my own unearned white middle-class elder privilege. And I use the word “elder” here, advisedly — not in the sense of “wise,” but simply meaning OLD, which tends to be both a generational and class distinction. Because, in this country, most of what in capitalist culture is considered “wealth” is held by some of us who are old.

One of my first decisions was to cut down on my own energy use, not so much by conserving (I already did that), but by altering my lifestyle from what most single women my age who can afford it tend to do: rattle around by myself in this 1300-square foot home with full basement. Since I came from many years living in community in a tiny home 20-foot yurt in Wyoming, my new home always felt so spacious as to be wasteful. So, a few years ago I began to experiment with short-term housemates; then, last summer I took the plunge, decided to live full-time with two other people, both young women — with the result that my energy footprint has gone way down, by — I’d like to think — two-thirds! Perhaps not quite that, but close. Lots of other changes, too, including solar for both houses and utilization of rain water — much of which is detailed on this blog. 

So I appreciate Robert Jensen’s point of view, especially when he talks about his own white American privilege. We white privileged Americans do need to demonstrate our commitment to a new way of living. And you might also want to see this little video about the resilient homestead created by Richard Heinberg, author of The Party’s Over. He and his wife are practicing his theories about the opportunity and necessity for energy descent in this transitional era when cheaply produced oil has peaked, geo-political chess games (and war games) over remaining non-renewable energy sources are ramping up, and our wasteful, consumerist “high standard of living” is, whether we like it or not, whether we know it or not — and most people still don’t — winding down. 

Resilience Reflections with Robert Jensen

May 20, 2015

by staff


In Resilience Reflections we ask some of our contributors what it is that inspires their work, and what keeps them going.

Read more Resilience Reflections here including Sandra Postel and Brian Kaller.

Robert Jensen is a professor in the School of Journalism at the University of Texas at Austin and board member of the Third Coast Activist Resource Center in Austin. He is the author of many books including Plain Radical: Living, Loving, and Learning to Leave the Planet Gracefully (Counterpoint/Soft Skull, forthcoming fall 2015), Arguing for Our Lives: A User’s Guide to Constructive Dialogue (City Lights, 2013); All My Bones Shake: Seeking a Progressive Path to the Prophetic Voice, (Soft Skull Press, 2009); Getting Off: Pornography and the End of Masculinity (South End Press, 2007); The Heart of Whiteness: Confronting Race, Racism and White Privilege (City Lights, 2005).
Who/what has been your greatest inspiration? And why?

I lived the first half of my life with little awareness of, or concern about, the crucial questions of social justice and ecological sustainability. In the second half of my life, there have been hundreds of people I’ve worked with in political and community organizing projects who have enriched my life. There have been a handful of writers who taught me how to think, including Wes Jackson, Andrea Dworkin, James Baldwin, Noam Chomsky. And there was one person, Jim Koplin, without whom I might have never found these people and books. His influence on my thinking and political practice was so important that I wrote a book about him, Plain Radical: Living, Loving, and Learning to Leave the Planet Gracefully. Although Jim was not well-known beyond his friends and colleagues, he had a profound impact on those of us who knew and loved him.

“I wasted too much time when I was young trying to be normal, trying to fit into the dominant culture”

Knowing what you know now about sustainability and resilience building, what piece of advice would you give your younger self if you were starting out?

I wasted too much time when I was young trying to be normal, trying to fit into the dominant culture even though I always had a sense I didn’t share those values, especially around the definition of “success” and what it means to “be a man.” In retrospect, I wish that I had started looking for alternatives earlier. I wasted a lot of time being cynical, because I wasn’t aware that there were people with different ways of thinking about politics, economics, ecology, and that those people were building different ways of living.

What keeps you awake at night?

Nothing. I sleep soundly. I spend a large part of most days thinking about how to deal with the multiple, cascading crises that we humans have created or exacerbated, but at the end of the day I rest fairly peacefully.

What gets you up in the morning or keeps you going?

The easy answer is that I have a good life. I’m a tenured professor, which means I have more autonomy in arranging my life than most people. The work I get paid for is engaging, as are the various activities I am involved with beyond the job. But the question suggests it can be hard to keep working on projects for social justice and ecological sustainability that are failing. That’s an accurate assessment—whatever small victories our movements achieve, I don’t see a pleasant future for large-scale human societies on this planet, and I don’t think there’s much that can be done at this point to change that. We are failing. But it’s impossible to predict the trajectory for all this, and even if we could predict the intensifying collapse with precision, there are lots of things worth doing to make life better for people and the planet. In contributing to those projects, one builds a decent life.

“My biggest setback was being born white, male, middle class, and a citizen of the United States.”

What has been your biggest setback and how did you recover?

My biggest setback was being born white, male, middle class, and a citizen of the United States. Those identities come with lots of unearned privilege, which tends to make people stupid. When one is born with unearned privilege there’s an incentive to stay stupid about the nature of the system that gives us those advantages. So, I had to overcome the instinct to embrace stupidity. As an adult, it took me a decade to figure that out; I’m a slow learner.

For you resilience is…?

If resilience is the ability to adapt to changing conditions, we should not overlook the importance of intellectual resilience, the ability to avoid getting locked into perspectives that keep us from reassessing our own ideas. Even if by some miracle it turns out that a person has been right about everything, it’s good to doubt oneself.

“When thinking about economic inequality, most people focus on how to end poverty. I think it’s more important to end wealth.”

What one social/political/cultural/policy change would most assist your work/hopes/dreams?

When thinking about economic inequality, most people focus on how to end poverty. I think it’s more important to end wealth. Make wealth a crime, or at least make it morally unacceptable. Laugh at rich people. Hurt their feelings. Shame them. I don’t wish for a world in which everyone is rich, which would finish off the planet overnight. I wish for a world in which we figured out how poor everyone has to be in order for there to be an ongoing meaningful human presence on the planet.

What gives you hope?

Nothing. I think hope is an illusion best abandoned. Our task is to see the world clearly, not wax poetic about hope.

What book/film/other resource has most supported your work?

The Winnie-the-Pooh books by A. A. Milne, which gave me my role model, Eeyore.

More articles by Robert Jensen

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Good News Department: Wealthy Couple Demonstrates Compassion and Imagination

This story interests me, especially given the context I live in right now, where I count six heterosexual couples who are wrestling with an identical crisis: the man being seemingly unable to change his ways, and especially to make decisions, which makes the female in the couple liable for a huge daily burden. Odd that such a confluence of couples with the same crisis are in my field . . . and a huge difference from the man in the couple whose present imaginative reach is described below. See Christopher Catambrone’s bio here. Truly a man of action who sees opportunity where others would only see crisis. Not sure about the ethics of all his activities — are some of them making a profit off Empire’s Military Industrial Complex? — and if so, is an action like that described below an effort to salve his conscience? And deeper, is there any way to “make lots of money” without at least tangentially feeding off the MIC?

In any case, it’s wonderful to see such a rich imagination in action, and a couple who steps up to the plate when what is directly in front of them is something that they have the will and the means to address. 

Then what? Will they also follow these migrants to land, to help them settle in? And how will that affect resident populations?

And what about this so-called United States? The coming migrations out of California, and possibly, other western states, if the drought continues? The flight from both coasts, as sea levels rise? Who will welcome the pilgrims, some of them penniless, desperate? What is ours, specifically ours to do? On and on. We live together in one crowded, increasingly fractious, chaotic, and yet deeply human world. How each of us responds to what is directly in front of us with what we personally, and in groups, have the will and the means to address, shapes the direction of our common future.

The Migrant Offshore Aid Station (MOAS) carries out its first rescue in the Mediterranean in August 2014. The Malta-based private rescue service founded by a wealthy American and his Italian wife has rescued more than 3,000 migrants since its launch in August 2014. Image: Barcroft Media /Landov

The Migrant Offshore Aid Station (MOAS) carries out its first rescue in the Mediterranean in August 2014. The Malta-based private rescue service founded by a wealthy American and his Italian wife has rescued more than 3,000 migrants since its launch in August 2014. Image: Barcroft Media /Landov


Christopher Catrambone, a wealthy businessman from Lake Charles, La., docks his boat these days in Malta, the Mediterranean island he now calls home. That boat, called the Phoenix, has been getting outfitted for a series of trips set to begin in May.

But Catrambone and his crew don’t intend to use the Phoenix for luxury cruises. He and his Italian wife, Regina, invested about $8 million of their own money to buy the ship and hire a crew for an entirely different purpose: to save lives at sea.

“Thousands of people are dying,” Catrambone says. “Today, as we stand here we just received news that 10 more migrants died.”

Record numbers of people from the Middle East and Africa are crossing waters to try to get to Europe, and rights groups say European countries don’t do enough to rescue them when they run into trouble at sea.

The millionaire husband-and-wife team decided to take on the task themselves during a recent yacht cruise on the Mediterranean. Regina caught sight of a jacket in the water during the cruise, and when she asked about it, she was told it might belong to a dead migrant who was trying to find safety in Europe.


Christopher Catrambone stands in front of the Phoenix, the ship that MOAS uses for sea rescues. Image: Leila Fadel/NPR

And that was that. They went on to found the Migrant Offshore Aid Station, which began operations last year.

“We’re the only game in town at the moment,” Christopher Catrambone says.

In just 60 days, they saved about 3,000 migrants crossing the sea in rickety wooden boats or dinghies. They then coordinated with Italy and Malta in bringing the migrants to shore. This year, they’re trying to raise money to operate for six months.

Martin Xuereb, the director of the organization and Malta’s former chief of defense, notes the dire conditions in which they often find these migrants.

“In our first mission [last year] we rescued 271 people, including over 100 women and children from a 12-meter boat that was already taking in water,” Xuereb says. “They’re packed like sardines.”

The boat likely would have sunk, he says.


A motorboat from the Italian frigate Grecale approaches a boat overcrowded with migrants in the Mediterranean Sea on June 29, 2014. The boat was carrying nearly 600 people, and the remaining 566 survivors were rescued. Image:  Italian Navy/AP

While some Europeans criticize the rescue operation, saying it draws more migrants to the sea, Xuereb says that’s just not true. People are desperate, undertaking the journey to find a better life. They deserve to live, he says.


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My Memorial Day Blues

In case you’re still “working,” i.e., yoked by all the “loans” you have to “pay back” into the soul-deadening, wage slave, so-called “economy,” you will “get Monday off.” Memorial Day. You probably won’t remember why that’s a holiday, because who cares, we just want to go camping or have backyard barbeques, right? 

Well, to those who DO remember, and who adopt the required reverential tone, I’d like to shake them, make wake up and realize that, as Paul Craig Roberts says,

Memorial Day Is A Hoax

The central bankster corporatocracy runs the matrix, and it uses national “militaries” to gobble up what it wants. It uses up humans too, especially young ones, those whom the increasingly stratified “economy” keeps so impoverished that the only way they can “get ahead” is to “join the military.” We call them “soldiers,” many of whom “fall,” i.e., “die for their country.” Oh yeah? Please, let’s get it, grok it, once and for all.  As U.S. Marine Corps Major General Smedley Butler famously noted, in a speech delivered in 1933, WAR IS A RACKET.

For a current example of the gobbley BMIC (Bankster Military Industrial Complex) racketeering, see this:

Destroying What Remains: How the US Navy Plans to War Game the Arctic

Which just goes to show, this dead-ending so-called fiat matrix money “economy” that most of us are still entangled with is NOT an ECO-NOMY, it is the EGO-NOMY. Not your ego, silly, theirs; or rather, its. For that corporatocracy with its military muscle is just one big, fiendishly complicated, narcissistic EGO that serves only itself by raping, pillaging, and murdering Mother Earth and all her earthlings, including ourselves.

I ask these so-called “masters of the universe,” what then? What then will you have to show to your children and their children’s children? What will be your legacy? Even if you consider your children extensions of yourself (for of course that is what a narcissist does), then even that self of yours is itself left bereft, just like all the rest of this dear world and its inhabitants that you will have strewn, willy-nilly, across the star-lit plains of armageddon.

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The Empathic Eye

It strikes me, while watching this little video with tears in my eyes, how it is always true, not just in hospitals. Each of us walks around saddled with, and often saddened by, problems, issues, difficulties, impending crises, decisions needed, acute and/or chronic pain — that we usually carry with us silently and either ashamed or resentful or so burdened that we don’t realize that everywhere we look, every single person we pass by, or meet on the street, or speak to on the phone — including those who can’t find a “job” except as a person at a call center, the ones we tend to “hang up on” — is moving through life doing the very best she or he can.

Which is what makes my daily spiritual practice — that of meeting the eyes of strangers whom I pass on the street with puppy Shadow on our morning walks, for even one millisecond of clear, focused penetration to the soul — so heartbreakingly meaningful for me. Each encounter lifts the heart, fills me with joy.

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