John Coltrane: One Down, One Up
Monk and Coltrane: Thelonious Monk and John Coltrane at Carnegie Hall
Best album of 2005 (*****)
There is an old jazz ballad, “Imagination” that has this line in it “imagination is funny, it makes a bee think of honey..” This reminded me of a line from one of Rumi’s poems: “the thirst in man’s soul is put out by the water itself.” Another way to think of it; does the oak tree ‘pull’ itself out of the acorn or does the acorn push the oak tree out? The idea of anything exists first in the quantum (spiritual) realm. It is already whole and complete. Al it needs is the vehicle to carry it into visibility and form.
What this means to me in the context of New Thought spirituality is that you and I are vehicles for the future to be revealed. Our job is to make the idea part of us, our self-identity, as in “ I am love in action or I am wealth in motion or my body is the vitality of wholeness in form.” The idea then “pulls” us into its vibration, so to speak, and we experience what it is, individually, in our own perception.
We know the potential chicken is in the egg. But why does it come out of the shell unless there is the imagined chicken pecking around for worms pulling it out. Why would a baby leave the womb, which may be the safest, most serene place in the universe? Is the adult human being calling it forward? Does this distinction matter to us? It might help us to see how little we have to do to create a life worth living, or a world that works for everyone. Really, it is in allowing the fully orbed idea to draw us into it. This is where our own mind is so important. We have to stay clear, stay in trust and be available to what is trying to happen.
Stay tuned in,
Venezuela Ditches the Dollar for the Euro
by John Lawrence, October 22, 2018
Venezuela has taken steps to free its economy from the "tyranny" of the US dollar. President Maduro will now sell oil for Chinese yuan. International settlements will be made in euros. Maduro blames the US for making his economy even worse because of the sanctions the US has applied. Maduro started the process of moving the country's DICOM system of official tiered exchange rates in September 2017 when he declared that Venezuela would use a "new system of international payments."
The sanctions, recently introduced by Washington against Caracas, “block the possibility of continuing to trade using the US dollar on the Venezuelan exchange market," El Aissami said, adding that the American restrictions were “illegal and against international law.”
The American “financial blockade” of Venezuela affects both the country’s public and private sectors, including pharmacy and agriculture, and shows “just how far the imperialism can go in its madness,” the vice president said.
Venezuela’s floating exchange rate system, Dicom, “will be operating in euro, yuan or any other convertible currency and will allow the foreign exchange market to use any other convertible currency," El Aissami said.
The vice president added that all private banks in Venezuela are obliged to participate in the Dicom bidding system.
The government is going to sell 2 billion euros between November and December to allow the public to purchase the European currency “at a real, non-speculative rate,” he said.
Washington isn’t hiding its desire to see Venezuela’s socialist President, Nicolas Maduro, whom it’s accusing of a crackdown on the country’s opposition, removed from power. Trump administration even spoke of the possibility of the so-called “humanitarian intervention” into the country.
Last year, the US imposed sanctions prohibiting trading new debt and equity issued by the Venezuelan government and state oil company, PDVSA. The Department of Treasury also introduced several rounds of restrictions against Venezuelan top government officials. Maduro was among those blacklisted and called it “an honor.”
The US pressure has contributed to the severe social and economic crisis in Venezuela in recent years as it was hit by hyperinflation, the devaluation of the national currency and a shortage of basic necessities.
The harsh situation forced more than 2.3 million to people leave the country this summer in search of better life in Colombia, Ecuador, Peru and Brazil, according to the UN.
There is no doubt that US sanctions hurt the people of other countries and not just high end officials and government potentates. Because of sanctions, many countries are shifting away from doing business with US dollars. In 1971 President Nixon took the US off the gold standard and made a 'deal with the devil' in Saudi Arabia that it would sell oil only for dollars and not any other currency. This made the US dollar the world's reserve currency and made it possible for the US to sanction other individuals and nations that were forced to do business with US dollars. Now that is changing after the US is using sanctions to punish other countries for their political beliefs. As institutions are being developed to bypass US sanctions and make that tool ineffective, the dollar will no longer be the world's only reserve currency. That will not portend good things for the US economy.
Saudi Arabia's "explanation for the arbitrary execution of Jamal Khashoggi is just not plausible. No government should accept it," says U.N. special rapporteur on extra-judicial executions
"We call BS," declared CODEPINK co-founder Medea Benjamin on Friday after the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia finally confirmed that Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi was killed in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul—but also claimed he died in "fistfight" gone wrong rather than the widely suspected grisly torture and assassination by a hit team acting on orders from the highest levels of Saudi leadership.
The Kingdom later updated its explanation, according to a CNN reporter, to say that Khashoggi was killed in a chokehold during a fight. Turkish officials, meanwhile, have alleged to the press that a team of Saudi agents—including a doctor specializing in autopsies—brought a bone saw into the consulate, where they tortured, killed, and dismembered Khashoggi.
Breaking down the past nearly three weeks since Khashoggi, who was a U.S. resident, entered the Saudi consulate in Turkey but never reemerged—despite Saudi Arabia's initial claims to the contrary—activist and writer Shaun King also called "bullshit" on the official Saudi explanation.
For 3 weeks Saudi Arabia said Jamal Khashoggi left their consultant safe and sound.— Shaun King (@shaunking) October 19, 2018
They said they had no idea where he was.
They denied all wrongdoing to every leader in the world as late as yesterday.
Now they say they accidentally killed him in a fistfight.
Saudi Arabia's "explanation for the arbitrary execution of Jamal Khashoggi is just not plausible. No government should accept it or the pretense at investigation," warned U.N. Special Rapporteur on Extra-Judicial Executions Agnes Callamard. "We need a trustworthy, impartial, and transparent investigation. To identify the killers and the mastermind."
Democratic Rep. Ted Lieu of California dismissed the Saudi explanation as "ridiculous on its face."
The Saudi Arabia story that Khashoggi would get into a fist fight with up to 18 Saudis, many of whom are trained killers, is ridiculous on its face.— Ted Lieu (@tedlieu) October 19, 2018
Oh, and there's that whole bone saw thing. https://t.co/k9hrIJAQRU
"The stupidity of the Saudi explanation is mind boggling," Karen Attiah, global opinions editor for the Post, concluded in a series of tweets. "What I hate about the statement is the use of the passive construction to imply this was an accident. Jamal didn't just 'die during a struggle.' #Khashoggi was killed. By Saudi men. In a consulate. His life was taken from him."
#Khashoggi was a 60 year old man. What sort of equal “fight" would he have had against 15 other men? And who brings a bone saw to a “discussion”?!— Karen Attiah (@KarenAttiah) October 20, 2018
The stupidity of the Saudi explanation is mind boggling….
Critics also condemned the Trump administration's response to the latest developments. In a statement that journalist Chris Hayes decried as "laughably weak," Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders acknowledged the Kingdom's admission that Khashoggi is dead and that it "has taken action against the suspects." The Kingdom announced Friday that it has fired five top officials and taken 18 people in custody.
The White House statement also vowed the Trump administration would to "continue to closely follow the international investigations into this tragic incident and advocate for justice that is timely, transparent, and in accordance with all due process." U.S. President Donald Trump, however, has been ridiculed for naively accepting denials of any wrongdoing by Saudi royals and ignoring mounting evidence that a team of Saudis murdered Khashoggi.
The president—who also has rebuffed demands that the U.S. cut off arms sales to the Kingdom and military assistance for the war in Yemen in light of Khashoggi's killing—even has been accused of conspiring with Saudi officials to obstruct justice. Responding to the reports on Friday, filmmaker Michael Moore tweeted: "Of course! KHASHOGGI DIED BOXING! Trump and the Saudi dictator finally have their lying story worked out."
Asked about Saudi Arabia's new claims late Friday, Trump told reporters he has confidence in the "fistfight" explanation and called the supposed findings a "good first step." VoteVets pushed back against Trump's remarks on Twitter:
Absolutely disgraceful.— VoteVets (@votevets) October 20, 2018
Lying about even knowing he was dead, and then shoveling out the biggest load of BS about him dying in a "fist fight" isn't a "good first step," at all.
Not. At. All. https://t.co/GEgBhhLUtI
Saudi Arabia has now set up a commission that is reportedly being led by Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman, or MbS—the heir to the throne and an accused war criminal known for his cozy relationships with the American elite, including Trump—to overhaul the Saudi intelligence operation. Notably, shortly after Khashoggi disappeared, MbS told Bloomberg News that the journalist had left the consulate unharmed.
Democratic Sen. Chris Murphy of Connecticut—who often has advocated for ending U.S. support for the Saudi-led war in Yemen, which has produced the world's worst humanitarian crisis—denounced the Saudi explanation as "preposterous" and demanded American action in response to the initial lie that Khashoggi hadn't been killed, but did not offer further details.
For two weeks, Saudi Arabia has been lying to the world, telling us that Jamal was alive when they knew, the whole time, he was dead.— Chris Murphy (@ChrisMurphyCT) October 20, 2018
The new explanation is preposterous, and America’s moral compass has come completely unmoored if we don’t take action.
"The admission by Saudi authorities that Jamal Khashoggi was murdered in their custody plainly exposes all their previous claims about his fate as flagrant lies," PEN America senior director of Free Expression Programs Summer Lopez said in a statement. "The Saudi regime must not be allowed to hide behind lies in order to literally get away with murder."
"It is absurd to entrust the investigation of Khashoggi's murder to those most likely to have ordered it," Lopez added. "Turkey should call on the U.N. secretary general to authorize an independent, international investigation to expose the truth and lay the groundwork for holding those behind this grievous crime fully responsible."
This post has been updated with comment from PEN America and to clarify a statement by VoteVets.
Rupert Sheldrake, the scientist who conceived of the theory of morphic resonance, saw our unconscious mind as a field and the conscious mind as creativity. This is completely in line with New Thought spirituality that sees the vast unconscious as not only a field of possibility, but also our link with all other beings who share the field, collectively. It is our conscious mind that selects what to draw from the field and to act on or feel or allow. Too often we allow our mind to draw only from the most recent deposits in the field, which would be our own personal history.
The practice of inner silence is the vehicle that takes us into the deeper realms of the field; that is, to bypass our own stored up images and to access the infinite realm of potentialities. This is the best kept secret on the planet. This, alone, grants us power beyond any we have ever known. This is the way the human leaps out of the mud into the blue sky, as it were, where anything is possible and whatever we choose to promote finds its way into our shared reality.
Matthew Fox said when Augustine brought Original Sin into the theology of the day, he created a great wound that we have endured for over 1600 years. It is the loss of Grace and unconditional love that we are meant to know firsthand as the Presence of our Source. But as “sinners” we must bow down to priests and kings (and pay dearly ) to be granted Grace. You can see what this has done to the power structures of the church. Today we are waking up to the fraudulent claims of those who would enslave us. Let’s get real with our perception of our place in the universe. It is in the lap of Mother Nature and she is singing us into consciousness.
Stay tuned in,
Salman's Flimsy Scenario for Khashoggi's Murder
by John Lawrence, October 20, 2018
Finally, the Saudis have admitted the fact that Khashoggi was murdered in the Saudi embassy after proof emerged that a whole contingent of Saudi security guards plus one doctor with a bone saw were present that day. So the problem now is how to get around the fact that this was a human rights abuse ordered by Saudi dictator, Mohammed bin Salman. Trump has said that, if Salman is responsible, there will be very serious repercussions for the Saudi distatorship. Whether or not this is true is a matter of conjecture. Trump could give Salman a slap on the wrist and claim he had delivered a punishing blow. Salman could react vehemently, but the whole thing might have been preconceived and acted out for the benefit of the world press.
So now begins the kabuki dance in which Trump and Salman orchestrate a plausible denial that Salman had anything to do with the murder. At first Salman professed to have no knowledge that Khashoggi was even murdered. But the facts showed Khashoggi walking into the Saudi embassy and never coming out. Pretty hard to rationalize this. So the Saudis, not wanting to appear to be fools, devised another explanation. Sure, they said, Khashoggi died in the embassy but only because an impromptu fist fight broke out in which Khashoggi was evidently the loser. Only how do you explain the presence of 15 Saudi security guards and one doctor with a bone saw?
Trump and Salman are hoping that the media attention to this specific even will soon be over, and they both can relax having offered up a somewhat plausible scenario for what happened that day. The media will have focused on another 'outrage of the day' and forgotten all about Khashoggi. Salman will have relieved from duty or fired those presumably responsible for the event while not implicating himself, of course. Trump may have offered up some 'severe' punishment for Salman (wink, wink) and Salman will have sworn that such an event will never happen again because those responsible have been severely punished. Maybe even a few will have their heads cut off which the Saudis seem to do for minor crimes without a moment's hesitation.
It's obvious that Trump and the American establishment want to preserve Saudi Arabia as an ally so they can preserve Iran, the Saudi's enemy, as their enemy. Then there is the 'oil for dollars' deal that Nixon entered into with the Saudis in 1971. The Saudis are perhaps the least ethical and the least democratic of the Middle Eastern countries, but no matter, they have been reliable allies in colluding with the US over oil. However, the fact of the matter is that oil must be phased out or the whole planet will be going up in smoke because of global warming in about 20 years. This fact seems to be of no concern to either the Saudis or to Trump who is doing everything he can to increase global warming.
If, as quantum theory has shown, there is one undivided whole of which we are part, then our thoughts do not travel anywhere in time, but are instantaneously “caught” by whomever we are thinking about. The same is true of our WORD spoken in a deep faith of its veracity. When we declare that our body is strong and vitalized with the consciousness of wholeness, it resounds instantaneously at the quantum level and is echoed by the Source itself, as a felt Yes!
Just as two electrons act as one, even when they are separated by thousands of miles, so do we and “God” interact as one. The wave and the particle are one action of an unbroken connection. For us this means when we speak our Word, the wave (The Whole) collapses into the particular experience we have desired. As science delves deeper into the quantum realm, it will prove the words of the Master teachers, and there have been many. Most of their teachings were misunderstood, misinterpreted, watered down or dismissed. But the time has come when science and spirituality shall join hands.
Meantime, do not abandoned your faith in the unseen, but do try to expand your sense of what it is. It is not a person, it is a Field; a responsive Field of pure consciousness. It is what we arise from and into which we think. The response, like two electrons, is to mirror our desire, bringing it out of the invisible into the seen and felt world. It is a system of pure Intelligence and Absolute Love, guaranteeing the gift of individual expression and the advancement of the species. As the ancients proclaimed “what you are looking for, you are looking with and at.”
Stay tuned in,
The Peaceful Exploration or the Militarization of Space
by John Lawrence, October 19, 2018
A few days ago a Russian and an American sat side by side in a cramped space capsule hurtling through space after a rocket malfunctioned and their Russian designed capsule automatically detached and parachuted back to earth. Both men were alive and well and came home to their families thanks to a joint effort in space exploration by two former enemies who had at one time become friends and agreed to cooperate. But now that has all changed. Russia and the US have become enemies again because, well, the US cannot exist without enemies. Gorbachev famously said "We have eliminated Russia as your enemy." WRONG! Russia has been recreated as our enemy.
The Trump administration had this wonderful brainstorm: why not militarize space? What is needed now is not more infrastructure or affordable housing, but a whole new branch of the military -the Space Force. This no doubt was inspired by the movie, Star Wars. Fighting is so much more dramatic than getting along. If we all got along, what would they make movies about?
The Space Force will not be cheap. Fortune reported:
President Donald Trump’s administration will call on Congress to allocate $8 billion over the next five years to establish the U.S. Space Force as the sixth branch of the military, Vice President Mike Pence said.
“It’s not enough to have an American presence in space,” Pence said Thursday in a speech at the Pentagon. “We must have American dominance in space. And so we will.”
Yes, we must dominate space just like we dominated earth. And the result? Earth has about another 20 years before it becomes unlivable. How do those two astronauts - one American and one Russian - feel about the US dominating space? They are thankful to be alive thanks to Russian technology. Russia and the US have been cooperating on the peaceful exploration of space in the international space station. Now that endeavor has to be dismantled because the peaceful exploration of space is so old hat and undramatic. Ho hum. Now that the big boys are in charge, let's get down to business and start fighting again. And let's devote a large amount of money to this so we can be dominant in space.
Peaceful cooperation be damned. We must fight on land, on the sea and now - in space. That's what human evolution has brought us to. But no worries. There probably won't be much of a budget for the militarization of space after global warming wipes out most military bases located near the ocean. The money will be needed to rebuild them. The NY Times reported that Tyndall AFB was a "complete loss" after Hurricane Michael attacked the Florida Panhandle. That would include some very expensive airplanes.
"Gradualism is fundamentally incompatible with protecting civilization and the natural world. It's pathetic that the Democrats are continuing to pursue this approach."
Hundreds of mammal species have been wiped out due to human activity, planetary warming has sparked a "bugpocalypse" that is horrifying scientists, and United Nations experts are warning that the international community has just 12 years to transform global energy systems in order to avert climate catastrophe—but House Democrats are reportedly brushing aside widespread demands for urgent action in favor of "more incremental steps and hearings."
"Democrats are unlikely to pursue major climate change legislation if they win the House majority, despite a growing body of evidence suggesting time is running out to address the issue," The Hill reported on Wednesday, citing House members who believe a piecemeal approach to climate policy will be more "pragmatic" in the face of GOP and White House denialism.
Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-Va.), co-chair of the Sustainable Energy and Environment Coalition, told The Hill that if Democrats retake the House in next month's midterms, they will "focus on the practical and the opportunistic" steps available while vaguely keeping in mind "the aspirational goals."
Environmentalists were quick to make clear that such a passive approach is unacceptable—and tantamount to climate denial—given that humanity has just a dozen years to enact fundamental changes to the world economy and energy production before the climate crisis inflicts catastrophic and irreversible damage.
While The Hill titled its news story, "Dems damp down hope for climate change agenda," author and climate activist Alex Steffen argued a more appropriate and accurate headline would have been: "Dems make chicken-shit (and out-dated) short-game political calculations while the worst planetary crisis humanity has ever faced accelerates."
In an email to Common Dreams, Margaret Klein Salamon, founder and director of The Climate Mobilization, added, "Gradualism is fundamentally incompatible with protecting civilization and the natural world. It's pathetic that the Democrats are continuing to pursue this approach."
The sentiment that the Democratic Party's business-as-usual incrementalism is simply not going to cut it in the fight against the human-caused climate crisis was echoed by author and environmentalist Naomi Klein, who offered a one-line, all-caps response to House Democrats' reported plans: "ARE YOU KIDDING ME?"
But while establishment Democrats indicate that they are ill-prepared to fight for the kinds of policies that are necessary to rapidly reduce carbon emissions, environmentalists said reasons for hope can be found in the young and growing progressive wing of the Democratic Party.
"Thankfully," said Salamon of The Climate Mobilization, "there is a bright spot in Congress: [New York congressional candidate] Alexandria Ocasio Cortez and her fellow Justice Democrats."
Any climate plan that doesn't stand up to the fossil industry and address the massive fossil fuel production the Trump administration is pushing would be incomplete at best, a wasteful distraction at worst."
—David Turnbull, Oil Change International
"Ocasio Cortez acknowledges the climate crisis as an existential threat demanding a WWII scale mobilization," Salamon told Common Dreams. "She understands the need to dedicate everything we have to the mission; to spend without limit to protect as much life as possible. This is such a fundamentally different approach from the mainstream Democrats, and so much more inspiring and heroic, I think its going to send a shockwave through Congress and win tremendous popular support."
Julian NoiseCat of 350 Action expressed a similar hope in a statement to Common Dreams, noting that the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report earlier this month—which warned that humanity must cut carbon emissions in half by 2030 to avoid the worst of the climate crisis—"shows that incremental steps to climate change are not an option."
"We have a little over a decade to shift our economy to clean energy. But that's also an opportunity: an opportunity to put millions of Americans to work in good, green, union jobs supporting families and creating prosperous communities," NoiseCat noted. "We are excited to work with ambitious progressives in Congress who understand the enormity of this moment and opportunity."
In addition to being absolutely necessary for the survival of the planet, recent polls have shown an ambitious climate agenda would be electorally beneficial for Democrats, who are favored to take back the House—and a longshot to take the Senate—in next month's midterm elections.
According to a Pew Research survey released earlier this week, 72 percent of Democratic voters view climate change as a "very big" problem, and research by the progressive polling shop Data for Progress found that Democratic voters enthusiastically support an agenda of green jobs and a just transition to 100 percent renewable energy.
"The first and most important things Democrats should do is stop feeding the beast that's gotten us in this climate mess," David Turnbull, strategic communications director at Oil Change International, told Common Dreams. "That means ending fossil fuel subsidies and starting a managed and just decline of fossil fuel production in our country."
As Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), among the lawmakers in Congress who has called for a bold and rapid transition away from oil, coal, and gas, declared earlier this month in the wake of the IPCC report:
The good news is that we have the technology to transform our energy system away from fossil fuels.— Bernie Sanders (@SenSanders) October 8, 2018
The bad news is that Congress and the White House lack the political will to stand up to the fossil fuel industry. Together, you and I will change that. https://t.co/XnmxGef10l
"Any climate plan that doesn't stand up to the fossil industry and address the massive fossil fuel production the Trump administration is pushing would be incomplete at best, a wasteful distraction at worst," Turnbull concluded. "In the context of ever worsening predictions, we need bold leadership, not half measures."
In football, a player will be penalized if he interferes with a pass. In science, quantum physics was at first laughed at by the established scientific community. It interfered with their long held notions of a mechanistic universe. Voting for a new candidate to replace someone we deem ineffective is another kind of interference. People who have made great strides forward in any walk of life have had a moment when they interfered with the accepted way.
It occurs to me that we also have to interfere with our own habituated thinking. If we seem to be headed into the same kind of situation that has limited us in the past, we have to look at how we have been thinking and interfere with it! We do that with bold declarative statements, sometimes a resounding NO! will lead us into a much needed YES!
If there is some area of your experience that needs to be upgraded, try this: (as an example) “I am done with struggling with money! I say NO to the belief in lack wherever it originated. I say YES to ongoing financial flow and prosperity. I am well-supplied with whatever I require for my personal well-being.”
Interference is a good thing. Almost every great cultural change has come about because someone or some group of humans had just had enough of the old ways and with a resounding NO went on the YES. They interfered and their insistence convinced others to look at the situation and to rethink it. That’s how the Civil Rights Act came to be. It is how women got the vote. It is how anything that has made life better for humanity has come to be. Get to NO and a YES will surely follow.
Stay tuned in,
Maps of World Need to be Drawn Showing New Shore Lines
by John Lawrence, October 18, 2018
As the polar ice caps melt due to global warming, sea levels will rise. Scientists and researchers can figure out or probably already know how much the shore line will be set back for various locations around the world. They need to draw those maps and present them to the public. They need to correlate those maps with the rise in world temperatures and with the rise in carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas levels in the atmosphere. Finally, they need to correlate these maps over time.
What if the polar ice caps and other arctic ice totally melt? I would guess that it would set the shore lines back 40 or 50 miles. In that case much of the developed and undeveloped world would disappear, but it wouldn't be the end of life on earth. It would affect mainly rich people and poor people. New York City, and in particular Wall Street, would disappear, but financial services would just move to Des Moines or Chicago or Kansas City. The midwest would prosper.
Bangladesh would probably be underwater. The sea would probably reclaim the Netherlands.There would be a huge refugee problem as whole countries' peoples would attempt to move to higher ground. Some areas of the world, however, would prosper like Siberia and the Scandinavian countries. There is a lot of land mass in areas around the North Pole that would become inhabitable again with moderate climates. The Sahara desert would probably triple in size, and the Middle East would become uninhabitable due to extreme temperatures, maybe as high as 150 degrees Fahrenheit. Again I'm just guessing, but climate scientists should be able to figure it out.
Some effects of climate change could be mitigated. Flooding could be mitigated by just not building in extended flood plains. Electrical wires could be undergrounded. Construction methods could be beefed up to withstand high winds.
I think life on earth, and in particular human life, could endure even if extreme climate change took place. Obviously, at some point carbon dumping into the atmosphere would have to be stopped, and carbon withdrawn from the atmosphere by reforestation or more sophisticated technological methods. Better yet why don't we start now by eliminating fossil fuels and planting more trees.
The irony of wanting to “go into outer space” is that we are already there! Astrophysicist, Carl Sagan, remarked that that was just as important a question as Who am I? or Where am I? That question was answered in that iconic photo of our planet taken by astronauts on their way back from the moon. There we are, a blue pearl in a vast universe. Another photo shows us to be a tiny, almost imperceptible dot, in an immense Galaxy.
We exist in something so mind-bogglingly huge that we are unable to feel part of it. That is why we want to go there and it is also why we are so focused on life here. Many people think we are the only intelligent life forms, a point of view that is utterly ridiculous. But it is a way of coping with our apparent insignificance. Having said all that, does it detract one bit from our ability to invent, design, create, love and celebrate being alive? No, and furthermore, what if the universe were as much an event as a place? That would also describe us. We are a happening, yet also a physical form.
There comes a time when we must simply accept the fact of our life; that we are a conscious being with origins in this universe. We are some extension of consciousness that pre-existed our birth. We are one way that the event is kept moving. We are part of some cosmic celebration of Life itself. Personally, I love the idea of space travel but I am equally happy to visit Paris. There is a vast mini-universe right here with daily opportunities to prove that our existence is also something to celebrate. Let’s re-discover where we are and let’s begin with Who.
Stay tuned in,
The US Should Sanction Arms Sales to Saudi Arabia
by John Lawrence, October 17, 2018
Trump says that Saudi Prince Salman is innocent till proven guilty of the killing of Jamal Khashoggi. but Russian President Vladimir Putin is guilty till proven innocent of the attempted killing of the Skripals. A double standard, you think? The US will never sanction Saudi Arabia because the Saudis are propping up the US dollar by selling oil only for dollars and not any other currency. That gives the Saudis the dominant hand in US-Saudi relations. Of course, the Saudis should be sanctioned for killing and starving thousands of Yemeni children. But the US is totally complicit in that operation not only from selling Saudis the weapons but also by providing backup support.
The world the US wants to maintain is one in which the Saudis are our friends no matter what they do and the enemies of Saudi (like Iran) are our enemies. This at least is a stable world in which there is no current threat to the US dollar and the US can continue to run up enormous deficits and debts. Were that situation to change, all hell would break loose. In the final analysis maybe even peace would have to break out in order to preserve some semblance of the world as we know it.
The world alignment is the US, Saudi Arabia, Israel and the EU on one side and Russia, China, Iran and Syria on the other. This alignment is designed to preserve the integrity and the profits of the US military-industrial complex. Trump mentioned that sanctioning Saudi would affect the profits of Lockheed Martin, Boeing and Raytheon, three of the largest denizens of the US military-industrial complex. Their profits would also be threatened if peace broke out between Russia, Iran and the US. China is a case of split personalities. On the one hand they're our enemy . On the other, they're a large trading partner and the world's second largest economy. The US must tread lightly there.
Well, Trump has shown himself to be the world's leading hypocrite by giving Prince Salman of Saudi Arabia a pass for killing Jamal Khashoggi and holding Putin accountable for attempting to kill the Skirpals. Our friends can kill anyone they want, and that is not a human rights violation. But what about the human rights of Yemeni children? It seems they haven't any.
While the U.S. faces pressure to stop selling arms to Saudi Arabia, the United Nations estimates that if current conditions continue, Yemen could face "the worst famine in the world in 100 years."
With heightened attention on Saudi Arabia's crimes in the wake of the alleged murder of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi at the country's consulate in Turkey, the United Nations is warning that if current conditions continue, the U.S.-backed war in Yemen led by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates could cause "the worst famine in the world in 100 years."
"I think many of us felt as we went into the 21st century that it was unthinkable that we could see a famine like we saw in Ethiopia, that we saw in Bengal, that we saw in parts of the Soviet Union—that was just unacceptable," Lise Grande, chief of the U.N.'s diplomatic mission in Yemen, said in an interview with BBC News.
"Many of us had the confidence that would never happen again and yet the reality is that in Yemen that is precisely what we are looking at," she continued. "We predict that we could be looking at 12 to 13 million innocent civilians who are at risk of dying from the lack of food."
Asked by BBC correspondent Orla Guerin if the global community should be ashamed about what already has become the world's worst humanitarian crisis, Grande responded: "Yes. There's no question we should be ashamed, and we should, every day that we wake up, renew our commitment to do everything possible to help the people that are suffering and end the conflict."
Yemeni civilians who don't starve to death or die from rampant disease are still at risk of being killed by the Saudi and UAE-led coalition's airstrikes. Since June, when the coalition launched an offensive to take control of Hodeidah, civilian deaths in and around the port city have "surged dramatically." Over the weekend, Saudi bombings killed at least 15 civilians and injured 20 others who were traveling on passenger buses.
Denouncing the weekend incident as "horrific," Grande declared in a statement that "the United Nations agencies working in Yemen unequivocally condemn the attack on civilians and extends our deepest condolences to the families of the victims." She also issued a reminder that targeting civilians, or even declining to protect them, violates international humanitarian law.
The weekend attack followed similar deadly strikes earlier this year, including when coalition forces dropped a U.S.-made bomb on a school bus in August, killing 40 boys aged six to 11.
Following Khashoggi's suspected murder, President Donald Trump has been hit with a new wave of pressure to stop selling arms to Saudi Arabia and end support for the coalition. While Trump, in an interview with CBS's "60 Minutes" that aired Sunday, threatened "severe punishment" if the United States finds evidence that Khashoggi was killed in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, the president has also repeatedly said in recent days that he doesn't want to cut off arms sales to the country because it would cost U.S. weapons manufacturers jobs and profit.
Last month—even before Khashoggi's suspicious disappearance—Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.) and a bipartisan group of lawmakers introduced legislation that aims to revoke all U.S. support for the war. It was welcomed by peace advocates as a long overdue move that "offers a glimmer of hope to the suffering people of Yemen."
William D. Hartung, director of the Arms and Security Project at the Center for International Policy and a supporter of Khanna's measure, argued Monday that "regardless of what ultimately happened to Khashoggi, continuing U.S. arms sales and military support to Saudi Arabia under current circumstances is immoral."
"Jobs should not be an excuse to arm a murderous regime," Hartung asserted, "that not only may be behind the assassination of a U.S. resident and respected commentator but is responsible for thousands of civilian casualties in its three-and-one-half-year military intervention in Yemen—the majority killed with U.S.-supplied bombs and combat aircraft and U.S. refueling and targeting assistance."
The day will come when we will be asked to give up this life, hopefully, as Marcus Aurelius advised, without complaint. I believe it was Irma Bombeck who said something like wanting to slide into home base all used up. It can only happen if we see transition, not as a loss, but as a completion of one particular experience. Think about how you felt as a child when you had to leave the amusement park. You had a wonderful day, filled with wild rides and sugary food, but you were sleepy and ready to go home. It all comes to a point when we must get on with our particular journey and that always includes some kind of leaving.
That happens while we are very much alive and well, too. We are made to leave the party, again and again. The moves we make in one lifetime are almost countless. We move through sadness and pain, joy and sorrows. We leave friends and they leave us. Sometimes we feel forced into choices but we make the best of it and then the day comes when there is a good opportunity and we grab it; suddenly everything looks wonderful again.
We make small moments and very dramatic ones but, always, we are the main character. We often do not notice just how resilient and creative we really are. If today was your time to take your leave, could you do it without complaint? Could you be grateful for everything and let it go? If we could begin to practice that right now, we might find the life we are now living to be filled with more joy than sorrow, more fun than work and more love than we ever thought possible.
Stay tuned in,
If the US Retaliates Against Saudi Arabia, Will They Stop Pricing Oil Just in Dollars?
by John Lawrence, October 16, 2018
When President Nixon took the US off the gold standard in 1971, he made a deal with Saudi Arabia (some say with the devil) to only accept US dollars as payment for oil in return for military protection. This is what made the dollar the world's reserve currency and the Saudis allies of the US. Now with the evident killing of Jamal Khashoggi in the Saudi Embassy, some US Congressmen are calling for reprisals against Saudi Arabia, and Saudi dictator Salman has threatened harsh actions towards the US in return.
The Guardian reported:
Riyadh vowed to hit back against any action. “The kingdom affirms its total rejection of any threats and attempts to undermine it, whether through economic sanctions, political pressure or repeating false accusations,” it said.
“The kingdom also affirms that if it is [targeted by] any action, it will respond with greater action.” The statement also pointed out that the oil-rich kingdom “plays an effective and vital role in the world economy”.
The country’s foreign ministry issued a series of tweets rejecting the accusations as “attempts to undermine” Saudi Arabia, writing in one post “demise is the outcome of these weak endeavors”.
The deal between the US and Saudi Arabia has allowed the US to run huge budget deficits because there is a ready market for US Treasury bonds mainly because of the need for other countries to purchase oil with dollars. If that's no longer the case, the US will have a harder time selling off all its debt the amount of which recently increased as Treasury Secretary Mnuchin frantically tries to sell more and more US debt. The government is trying to handle a budget deficit expected to eclipse $1 trillion in the next two years. The national debt is at $21.3 trillion, having risen about $800 billion in 2018. That means more and more US debt needs to be sold at a time when other countries are scaling back their purchases.
Russia recently dumped 84% of its American debt, and China, the US' largest debt holder sold off $3 billion in US Treasury bonds. Is it any wonder? Russia has been targeted with US sanctions, and China and the US are in a trade war started by Trump. If the US does not go along with the Saudis' murdering of a journalist, thereby becoming complicit in Khashoggi's murder, the Saudis might retaliate by pricing oil in other currencies. Then where does that leave the US with its frantic need to sell off more and more of its debt which has ballooned thanks to Trump's recent tax cuts for the wealthy.
Trump has said that he doesn't want to cancel the arms deal with the Saudis because it would mean US jobs for Lockheed Martin, Boeing and Raytheon. In other words the US military-industrial complex would suffer if we do not sell the Saudis the weapons they are using to slaughter innocent Yemenis. This is so much bullshit. If he sanctioned the Saudis, no other country supposedly would be able to sell them weapons either and this might be the best outcome if that meant the Saudis could not keep on slaughtering Yemenis.
The larger picture, however, has to do with the fact that Trump's alienating other countries including the US' largest debt holder, China, will mean a sell off of US debt and rising interest rates for US Treasury bonds to attract investors. This does not bode well for the continuation of the situation that currently holds sway in which the US lives off its penchant for funding its military and social programs with other people's money.
"Is the Saudi gov't purposely filling Trump's pockets? If so, what do they expect in return? We don't know, because Trump refuses to comply with the Constitution."
As new evidence emerges that Washington Post correspondent Jamal Khashoggi was tortured and killed inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul last week, lawmakers and ethics watchdogs said Thursday that President Donald Trump's reluctance to hold the Saudis responsible for Khashoggi's possible murder is exactly what they've warned about when calling attention to Trump's refusal to divest from his businesses—which, according to the president himself, Saudis have invested tens of millions of dollars over the years.
Saudi officials, along with other international political figures, have stayed in Trump's hotels since he took office in 2017, with lobbyists from Saudi Arabia spending $270,000 in the Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C. last year alone.
"Saudi Arabia, I get along with all of them," Trump said in 2015. "They buy apartments from me. They spend $40 million, $50 million. Am I supposed to dislike them? I like them very much."
The Saudis also have a long history of business dealings with Trump, including a Saudi prince's purchase of a yacht and a hotel from him in the 1990s when the real estate developer was in need of money. But Democrats in Congress and the group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) have especially expressed concern with his financial entanglements with the kingdom after he took office, saying they blatantly violate the U.S. Constitution's emoluments clause.
On Twitter, CREW suggested that Saudi Arabia's status as a loyal customer to the Trump Organization—from which the president refused to divest after taking office—has likely been on Trump's mind this week as he's told the press that he won't consider sanctioning or condemning the Saudis over Khashoggi's disappearance.
Does the rose think the soil is God or the bulb it sprang from? Maybe it is the sun or the rain that it worships? No, she simply gives forth her sweet aroma and reveals her beauty without questioning how it came to be. Unlike other life forms, it is almost impossible for a thinking human to not wonder what is the source of life. It seems we cannot resist inventing a story or a few thousand of them, to account for our existence. The most obvious choice is to make it (whatever it is) in our image and likeness. We gave it a personality much like a king or a benevolent dictator, since those were most likely the only models of power we had when all this began.
Some people attribute Life to ‘aliens’ coming down to populate the earth. Not much is said about what the source of the aliens is! We simply do not know much about how matter becomes conscious or how consciousness becomes matter. The best we can do observe how things seem to come about and take note of patterns that precede the arrival of things. Over time, with diligent attention, we begin to see the link between what we think, feel and believe with what occurs for us personally. Inherent in that realization is a sense of being cared for or looked after, as if our capacity for happiness is built in to the system. That is when we feel a Presence, something in the atmosphere that is responsive to us.
The saddest conclusion we can make is that our Source is not the same for everyone, or that we gain its favor by performing certain rituals or incantations, wearing clothes of a certain color, growing our hair or shaving our heads. That kind of thinking causes violence and mayhem, caste systems, racism, sexism and apathy. It leaves some people out of the equation and therefore not deserving of freedom and justice, prosperity and opportunity. It is an insidious and ego-gratifying way to take power over others.
In this day and age, isn’t it time we rid our collective consciousness of superstition, dogma and made up scenarios of what is our Source? Isn’t it time we included everyone in the story? We are here and Life is for us, never against us. What can we do with that information?
Stay tuned in,
Why Does the US Establishment Get All Up in Arms Over the Death of One Man But Tolerates the Deaths of Thousands of Innocent Civilians?
by John Lawrence, October 13, 2018
Certainly we should be upset over the death of Khashoggi who was a critic of Saudi Arabia. However, Saudi Arabia, with US help, is slaughtering innocent men, women and children in Yemen and there's nary a peep. They get furious over a supposed "human rights violation." So when a regime like Saudi Arabia or even Russia kills a critic of the regime, it's a human rights violation and we should all get very upset, but, when thousands of innocents are killed in war, that's OK? This is ridiculous. What set of values condones killing innocents in war but gets all righteous about human rights when a few individuals are killed by some regime. Perhaps that regime considered that those individuals committed treason. The definition of treason is quite arbitrary. If you went against the king, that was treason. It basically still is in countries that have a king or dictator as the US likes to call them.
The furor over Khashoggi will probably amount to a tempest in a teapot since the US and Saudi Arabia are allies and have been since Nixon took the US off the gold standard and made a deal with the devil that he would provide military protection to Saudi Arabia in return for them pricing oil in dollars. Thus we are allies with a country who produced Osama bin Laden and 15 of 19 of the 9/11 hijackers, not to mention ISIS. So then we turn around and call ISIS our friends in Syria because they are fighting the al-Assad regime in Syria. So the meaning of terrorism is up for grabs. Anyone who is not our ally at some particular time is a terrorist. It has nothing to do with morality or ethics because it has everything to do with alliances, oil, dollars and gold.
So the US gets all morally outraged over the killing of one journalist by Saudi Arabia while at the same time aids and abets Saudi Arabia's killing of thousands of innocents in Yemen. What's wrong with this picture?
The Washington Post reported:
The growing number of Western companies distancing themselves from Saudi Arabia over the alleged killing of dissident Jamal Khashoggi is undermining the kingdom’s push to diversify its economy beyond oil and provide more opportunities for its young and often restive population.
By Friday afternoon, nearly a dozen tech, media and entertainment companies had backed out of a Saudi investment conference to be held this month, as dismay over Saudi agents’ alleged murder of Khashoggi spread to companies that Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has tried to woo.
One firm that was among the recipients of the $27 million the kingdom spent on U.S. lobbying last year announced that it would stop its representation. “We are terminating our relationship,” said Richard Mintz, managing director of the Harbor Group.
The companies and executives backing away from the kingdom, including Uber Technologies, Viacom and at least two prominent tech investors, are the very ones the crown prince has sought to cultivate over the past year as the kingdom attempts to modernize its economy and ensure jobs for its young population. More than 60 percent of Saudis are under age 30.
Still, there may be limits to the corporate world’s willingness to censure the Saudis. Big banks and consulting firms that earn large sums issuing bonds for the kingdom or offering strategic advice have largely stayed mum on their plans to sponsor or attend the Riyadh conference, nicknamed Davos in the Desert. Some lobbying firms that work for the kingdom also withheld comment.
And so far the White House has steered clear of harsh criticism, with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin saying Friday that he’s still planning to attend the summit — a statement that drew condemnation from two Senate Democrats.
President Trump called Khashoggi’s suspected killing a “terrible thing,” but stopped short of assigning blame and noted that the dissident wasn’t a U.S. citizen. He told reporters later Friday: “A lot of people are going over to the investment conference. We’ll see what happens. Maybe some won’t be going. We’ll make that determination very soon.”
Trump gives lip service to this "terrible thing" but it will soon be forgotten because business must go on.
The old adage that a crisis is never a crisis until it is validated by disaster has become a reality for seventy percent of our cities already dealing with flooding, drought, fire and environmental decay
Our nation spent more than $300 billion on recovery from climate disasters last year. The historic barrage of hurricanes in 2017—wiping out Puerto Rico’s and the U.S. Virgin Islands’ infrastructure, grinding the city of Houston to a stop, and placing Miami’s downtown streets under water—served as a brutal and costly reminder that our major cities along the coasts have reached a reckoning with the rising tide.
The old adage that a crisis is never a crisis until it is validated by disaster has become a reality for seventy percent of our cities already dealing with flooding, drought, fire and environmental decay.
Cities, towns and campuses can no longer champion the disingenuous framework of climate adaptation plans based on volunteer efforts to recycle, change light bulbs, eat less meat on Mondays or carpool with coworkers that willingly cross a bridge to the future that everyone now knows is on the verge of collapse.
Calling for a 45% reduction in carbon emissions by 2030 to avert further catastrophe, the IPCC climate action recommendations should be a clarion call for every town, cities and campus to halt their business-as-usual models and re-envision urban planning for a new era.
We can no longer continue with the delusional planning that somehow doing "less bad or harm" is sustainable; instead, we must actively break from our dependence on fossil fuels and rebuild our local economies in ways that restore our relationships with nature and regenerate the ecosystems we depend on.
We need to launch a new era of "regenerative cities," or rather, cities of resistance that restore our ecosystems, reclaim the public commons and give new meaning to renowned theorist Buckminster Fuller's vision in an age of climate change. “You never change things by fighting the existing reality,” Fuller told us decades ago. “To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.”
No one understands this better than the "Just Harvey Recovery" movement, where an alliance of groups in the Gulf region has been calling for a "just transition" for communities and ecosystems on the cusp of being left behind as a sacrifice zone for our country.
No one understands this better than a growing movement of residents in Gary, Indiana, a devastated steel city that has received more requiems of poverty and environmental ruin than any other city in the country.
Earlier this summer, I was inspired by a group of young people who took part in an "Ecopolis" program to envision the rebirth of their community and local economy as a "regenerative city," based on green enterprise zones and green jobs training, walkable urban planning and efficient housing, decentralized renewable energy, local food production and soil carbon sequestration initiatives.
The program was not just a wished-for vision; it took place in the Progressive Community Church, powered by solar energy, and cornered by four hoop houses for year-round food production and an orchard.
They called for "cities of resistance," not simply adaption to a coal-fired system that has contaminated their air and soil, but left their future in peril.
"Love song to the scarred lungs of my people," young poet Krystal Wilson rapped, "because in my city, glocks ain't got nothing on poison and hostile air."
Young climate activists in Gary, like those in the Gulf, are giving us a new climate narrative that reclaims scientist Barry Commoner's long overlooked warning for a post-carbon age. Hailed as the "Paul Revere of Ecology" on the cover of Time Magazine in 1970, author of the classic work, The Closing Circle, Commoner forewarned that a corporate takeover of environmental governmental policy was carrying us "to the brink of ecological disaster not by a singular fault, which some clever scheme can correct, but by the phalanx of powerful economic, political, and social forces that constitute the march of history.” Only the resistance to the current economic and environmental structure could “change the course of history,” he concluded.
That type of resistance took place a day after the IPCC report, when a state judge in Minnesota acquitted three climate activists of using bolt cutters to cut through chains and padlocks at a valve site for two oil pipelines.
But another type of resistance is also taking place in our cities—as regenerative cities become cities of resistance. Take St. Louis, headquarters of the world’s largest coal company, Peabody Energy, and dependent on coal-fired plants for 75 percent of its electricity; the St. Louis Board of Aldermen unanimously voted last fall to adopt a goal of obtaining 100 percent of its electricity from renewable sources by 2035.
This is the first step toward a regenerative city.
By building on Commoner’s landmark "four laws of ecology," urban theorist and author Herbert Giradet has spent years developing “regenerative cities” as a natural sequence in planning in an age of climate change. “The urban metabolism currently operates as an inefficient and wasteful linear input-output system,” Girardet posited in his groundbreaking work in cities in Europe, Australia, and around the globe. “It needs to be transformed into a resource-efficient circular system instead. The only way to overcome notions of ever-greater scarcity is for cities to continually regenerate the living systems on which they rely for their sustenance.”
Following this regenerative approach, the Australian city of Adelaide reduced its carbon emissions by 20 percent from 2007 to 2013, and is on track to become the first carbon neutral city in the world. The city galvanized a boom in green jobs, developed walkable neighborhoods powered by solar energy, converted urban waste to compost and revamped local food markets. The city also planted three million trees to absorb carbon.
In an age of climate change, such a vision is not only an essential framework for a new climate resistance.
It may be our only option—for adaptation.
The fear of death is rather futile when considered this way; if there is nothing after physical demise, then we won’t even know it. If there is something, then great, a brand new experience awaits us. It is the belief in a punishing God that bothers many people. The possibility of going to “hell” is frightening. One of the many aspects of New Thought spirituality that is so healing is the insistence that Life is for us and never against us. That means a loving God or a Source that is invested in our Good. It does not punish nor reward but functions in time and space as a principle of natural consequences of our choices.
The time to get right with the principle is now. We have full say in how we act in this life. Our capacity for love is as great as our use of it and the same is true of all the qualities we attribute to God. We seem to be extensions of It, not creations. Marcus Aurelius said “sunlight doesn’t pour out, it extends. It’s rays are extensions of it.” Just so, God did not create us and leave us to flounder around trying to survive; we are extensions of it and by continuing the extension through our actions, we reveal it here.
The life we live now is Reality. What lies beyond will be nothing or something but need not concern us today. Our time here is a playground of possibility. Shall we choose to be negative, angry, irritated most of the time, critical of everyone else or shall we choose happiness, fun, love and good relationships? What would keep us from making that choice? Certainly not fear of death. Perhaps fear of Life.
Stay tuned in,
Replace #MeToo with #IToldYou
by John Lawrence, October 12, 2018
Where are the protesters and demonstrators protesting Trump's total ignorance about climate change and his doing everything he can to make it worse? Hurricane Michael came out of nowhere and devastated the Florida panhandle. No media tracking charts for days in advance. Where is the intensity of the protest movement in this regard. Sexual assault is one thing. Losing the whole damn planet is quite another. Meanwhile, Trump sends his thoughts and prayers to the people of Florida. He'll send them everything they need - thousands and thousands of electrical workers to get the power back on. FEMA will give them all the paper towels they need. These devastating hurricanes play right into the Trump playbook. It gives him a chance to look concerned and compassionate while he does very little or nothing as Puerto Rico found out.
Meanwhile, Trump is trading F bombs with Kanye West in the Offal Office and whipping up a crowd at a campaign rally. Regarding Hurricane Florence, which just hit a few days ago, Fox News reported: "President Trump on Wednesday traveled to the Carolinas to visit areas ravaged by Hurricane Florence last week, assuring local families and officials that the federal government would provide "a lot of money," and that there will be "nothing left undone" in recovery efforts." Big talk from the Big Guy who must love the opportunity to appear (and appear is the operative word) like a big shot because he's going to provide "everything they need."
Kavanaugh getting on the Supreme Court is nothing compared to the devastation that climate change is bringing with it. We can expect hurricanes like Florence and Michael to get even worse in the near future. We can expect parts of the planet to become uninhabitable due to extreme heat. We can expect a lack of potable water as the glaciers and ice packs melt. We can expect uncontrollable wildfires all over the planet.
Yet it is all about Trump expressing his "thoughts and prayers" and sending the devastated areas "everything they need". What a bullshitter! They won't get everything they need, and I doubt if a thought or a prayer even entered his mind except "how do I reap political capital from this?"
Seriously, people need to demonstrate and protest about climate change and global warming with the same intensity as #MeToo and #BlackLivesMatter or soon no lives will matter any more. Priorities? #IToldYou this would happen. You can expect even worse than Florence and Michael in the near future. Trump fiddles while California burns and the East Coast floods.
It was early in my spiritual studies that it came to me; God is a verb and the only way it could be seen in action was by turning itself into another verb, a Be-ing. In order to guarantee a forward moving evolution, there had to be the experience of individuality. Thus, hidden within the I and the me of each one of us, is the activity of God. It is forever attempting to fully reveal itself as love, joy, peace, vitality, supply and creative intelligence, which turn themselves into human, individualized activities.
It followed then, that the spiritual path is not to get somewhere but to come to a realization of our true nature. The question becomes, how much more love or joy or peace, vitality and creativity can I allow into my life? How do I bring it through me into action? What is stopping me from fully releasing these natural qualities into the realm of personal experience? "Consider the Lilies." I look at nature and see the only significant distinction between flora, fauna and humans, is that we look outward for our self-identity and the Lilies just bloom.
It is quite the razors edge to be on, that of being in the world but not done in by it; of caring about others but not be concerned to the point of despair; of getting involved yet remaining detached; of believing in the Good within everyone while allowing for varying levels of its expression. It is a practice and everyday affords us more opportunities to hone our awareness.
Try this: “My true self is my informant. It prompts me to do the right thing, know the higher truth, choose the best action. I am its hands and feet, its mind and heart. I identify myself as the activity of God.”
Stay tuned in,
US Seeks to Invest in Other Countries to Counteract Chinese
by John Lawrence, October 11, 2018
The Chinese are building infrastructure projects in other countries around the world thus gaining friends and influencing people. The US with its war machine seeks to solve every problem by intimidation or outright war. But now the Trump administration is catching on to the Chinese initiative and is deciding to do a little infrastructure investing itself - in other countries. Meanwhile, infrastructure within the US languishes. Hey Trump, why not do a little infrastructure investing in your own country? Maybe the Democrats should adopt the motto, MAKE AMERICAN INFRASTRUCTURE GREAT AGAIN! Right now it is piss poor and is marginally rebuilt after every hurricane, tornado and wildfire. In the interest of mitigating climate change, all telephone and electrical wires should be undergrounded. Trump says we'll send thousands and thousands of electrical workers to Florida to get the lights back on after the latest Hurricane Michael took them all down again. It's bullshit as usual.
The Wall Street Journal reported:
The U.S. is finalizing plans to double funding for big infrastructure projects around the world, seeking to counter China’s growing influence.
Congress is working to resolve the last barriers to passing a bill that would boost the U.S's role in international development. It would combine several little known government agencies into a new body, with authority to do $60 billion in development financing - more than double the cap of the current agency that performs that function.
I doubt if $60 billion is enough to counter the Chinese. The US spends $1 trillion annually on its military and military-industrial-intelligence complex and looks at every international problem through the lens of war. If all you have is a hammer, you tend to see every problem as solvable by a hammer. Maybe the US should convert some of the money it spends on war to peaceful development projects. But doesn't charity begin at home? What about American infrastructure which is $4 trillion in arrears?
MAKE AMERICAN INFRASTRUCTURE GREAT AGAIN!
"Our job is to build on our common humanity and do everything that we can to oppose all of the forces, whether unaccountable government power or unaccountable corporate power, who try to divide us up and set us against each other."
While Donald Trump took to the editorial page of USA Today on Wednesday to spew new lies about key social programs like Medicare and sow fresh divisions with unhinged rantings about the "radical socialist plans" of the Democratic Party, Sen. Bernie Sanders on Tuesday offered a scathing and far-reaching rebuke to Trump's brand of politics by tackling head-on the threat posed by the president's penchant for authoritarianism and his consistent stoking of social divisions.
"Authoritarians seek power by promoting division and hatred. We will promote unity and inclusion."
—Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.)In a speech delivered at the John Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies, Sanders told the small audience that he wanted to "say a few words about a troubling trend in global affairs that gets far too little attention," as he proceeded to describe a trend that both describes the America under Trump, but one also seen in nations across the globe.
"There is currently a struggle of enormous consequence taking place in the United States and throughout the world," Sanders declared in his speech. "In it we see two competing visions. On one hand, we see a growing worldwide movement toward authoritarianism, oligarchy, and kleptocracy. On the other side, we see a movement toward strengthening democracy, egalitarianism, and economic, social, racial, and environmental justice."
Sanders continued by drawing a picture in which an increasingly wealthy and powerful set of elites—not just in the U.S., but in Europe, Russia, the Middle East, South America, Asia, and elsewhere—are actively fomenting anti-democratic angst while butressed by the rise of "demagogues" who, like Trump domestically, "exploit people's fears, prejudices and grievances to gain and hold on to power."
In response to such forces, argued Sanders, "Those of us who believe in democracy, who believe that a government must be accountable to its people and not the other way around, must understand the scope of this challenge if we are to confront it effectively."
And so, he added, "We need to counter oligarchic authoritarianism with a strong global progressive movement that speaks to the needs of working people, that recognizes that many of the problems we are faced with are the product of a failed status quo. We need a movement that unites people all over the world who don't just seek to return to a romanticized past, a past that did not work for so many, but who strive for something better."
With a direct hit on the Trumpian mantra of "Make America Great Again," Sanders warned that looking backwards, though valuable in some respects, is not where a better, more equitable world is to be found.
Instead, he said, what the world needs if it wants to defeat "the forces of global oligarchy and authoritarianism" is a powerful and organized "international movement that mobilizes behind a vision of shared prosperity, security and dignity for all people, and that addresses the massive global inequality that exists, not only in wealth but in political power."
In the end, Sanders observed, "Authoritarians seek power by promoting division and hatred. We will promote unity and inclusion."
And, he concluded, "In a time of exploding wealth and technology, we have the potential to create a decent life for all people. Our job is to build on our common humanity and do everything that we can to oppose all of the forces, whether unaccountable government power or unaccountable corporate power, who try to divide us up and set us against each other. We know that those forces work together across borders. We must do the same. "
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Winning 28 Olympic Gold Medals Does Not Make You Happy
by John Lawrence
As a testimony to the false gods people worship, consider the case of Michael Phelps, the swimmer, who won 28 Olympic gold medals. Did that make him happy? No, He suffered major bouts of depression and even wanted to kill himself. Is winning at any price what it's all about? Is competition to prove you're the best in the world what makes you happy? I don't think so.
"You do contemplate suicide," the winner of 28 Olympic medals told a hushed audience at the fourth annual conference of the Kennedy Forum, a behavioral health advocacy group.
Interviewed at the conference by political strategist David Axelrod (who is a senior political commentator for CNN), Phelps' 20-minute discussion highlighted his battle against anxiety, depression. and suicidal thoughts -- and some questions about his athletic prowess.
"Really, after every Olympics I think I fell into a major state of depression," said Phelps when asked to pinpoint when his trouble began. He noticed a pattern of emotion "that just wasn't right" at "a certain time during every year," around the beginning of October or November, he said. "I would say '04 was probably the first depression spell I went through."
That was the same year that Phelps was charged with driving under the influence, Axelrod reminded the spellbound audience.
And there was a photo taken in fall 2008 -- just weeks after he'd won a record eight gold medals at the Beijing Olympics -- that showed Phelps smoking from a bong. He later apologized and called his behavior "regrettable."
Drugs were a way of running from "whatever it was I wanted to run from," he said. "It would be just me self-medicating myself, basically daily, to try to fix whatever it was that I was trying to run from."
The "hardest fall" was after the 2012 Olympics, said Phelps. "I didn't want to be in the sport anymore ... I didn't want to be alive anymore."
What that "all-time low" looked like was Phelps sitting alone for "three to five days" in his bedroom, not eating, barely sleeping and "just not wanting to be alive," he said.
Finally, Phelps knew he needed help.
Phelps got help, and he opened up and talked about what was going on inside his head, stuff he had compartmentalized and repressed. Now he's trying to help others with the same problems. Could it be that the athletic activity itself helped Phelps keep his head above water, and that, when that activity was over like at the end of the Olympics, he sank like a rock? Perhaps exercise is good, but competition is bad. Or the stopping of exercise is bad once you're used to it. I wonder if Phelps swims at all now that he's retired just for the exercise and the salubrious effects it has on the human mind.
Phelps is working to try and raise awareness of depression and other mental health issues by telling others about his own journey. "I'd like to make a difference," he says. "I'd like to be able to save a life if I can. You know for me that's more important than winning a gold medal. "The stuff that I'm doing now is very exciting. It's hard, it's challenging but it's fun for me. That's what drives me to get out of bed every morning."
I had a funny dream last night. I was giving a talk to a group of engineers. I told them that nothing would replace human ingenuity; that a robot might be able to build something but if he lost his hammer he wouldn’t be able to find it. Silly, right? But it made me think of Emerson who wrote about our awe of the great cathedrals and the pyramids, and how we ought to consider how much greater are the hands that built them.
Ernest Holmes, the founder of Science of Mind spirituality, would have said nothing we have ever done with our creative minds is as great as what we could do. There is an infinite aspect to us. We have no ceiling as far as our imagination is concerned. The interesting point is that once we imagine something, the idea itself seems to show us how to get it done!
Thomas Troward taught that ideas are living entities; they have the life force in them and contain the fully orbed form in potential, much like the oak tree is in the acorn. He said ideas that we invest with our enthusiasm and attention would naturally draw to themselves what was needed to take shape, like the nucleus of an egg, turning itself into a chicken.
Our part in the creative process is easier than we make it. All we have to do is keep our enthusiasm, belief and trust in the process active and focused. The idea knows how to generate in the outer world what belongs with it. We call that part synchronicity. I am constantly amazed at how Life has provided everything necessary to keep the creative process in full swing. What would we like to see appear in our personal experience? It is an idea. Give it some life force. Create the mental space for it to lead from within. Clear the path it requires by removing all doubt or fear.
Try this: My idea for greater levels of___________________is on the move right now, making itself into my experience. I am its partner and I am its way. I keep the path clear.”
Stay tuned in,
What If Peace Corps or Americorps Recruits Received the Same Benefits as Military Recruits?
by John Lawrence, October 9, 2018
As an Uber and Lyft driver, I pick up a lot of young men and women that are in the military, the Navy primarily. They are usually very nice people from some Podunkville, USA. They have made a choice to go into the military as opposed to going to college. Let's consider the wisdom of that choice from a purely selfish point of view. A lot of these people live in pricey Mission Valley apartments, not in some barracks on a military base. Some of them even own their own homes or condos, but those usually have been in a while. For those who have been in only a few years, their pay scale must be sufficient to afford an apartment in Mission Valley which averages around $2000. a month.
Then there is world travel. Most of them have visited several countries on deployment while their peers in college have gone nowhere. The military recruits are offered training, education including college, free health care and even a pension if they stay in so many years. Meanwhile, their peers at UCSD and other colleges are living in barracks like dormitories and taking on massive student loan debt. What's wrong with this picture?
What if young people were offered the same benefits to go into the Peace Corps or Americorps where they could do some good for the country and the world. As far as risking their lives, it's about the same for the Peace Corps or the military. Many Peace Corps volunteers have been killed in foreign countries either by military forces or disease. Peace Corps inductees are offered meager benefits compared to military recruits.
College is no panacea and it's a worse deal than going into the military. College graduate often come out with no job offers and $30,000 in student loan debt. They are actively recruited by college admissions officers who are no more than salesmen trying to get the students enrolled by painting a glowing picture of life after college. However, the reality is a lifetime of debt, default and penalties that balloon up the amount they actually borrowed. The young man or woman who went into the military comes out with an education, job skills, a performance record, a work history, having traveled the world and NO DEBT. Too bad it's in the cause of war and world domination rather than in the cause of peace and building a better country from within.
All sentient beings are the activity of intelligence and love. We have long held the erroneous belief that humans are the only intelligent species and the only one that loves. Now we know that such beings as bees communicate in their own language, as do whales and dolphins and birds and your family dog. The plant on the balcony will turn its face to the sun, knowing where it is. Not only are animals intelligent, they also show love and caring for their offspring. They build things and they make tools. It is astonishing to think we have had it so wrong for so long.
Everything that lives is God in action and God is Intelligence and Love in perfect right relationship to give form to a spectacular display of diversity. You and I are such a form, God expressing itself in a way that has never been done. The Game of Life has always been a kind of hide and seek proposition. It is for us to discover the intelligence and love we possess and then to see what we can do with them. We are fortunate if we had parents, a mentor or a culture that taught us of the creative power we hold, but that is not the case for most of us. We are told all kinds of nonsense about how or why things happen. We grow up, begin to doubt the stories, and start to play the Game.
My own search for what could be called truth, began with a burning desire for it. I actually called out to God (something I doubted even existed) and in a matter of days I learned an ancient meditation technique that cracked open my mind and set me on a path of self-discovery that is still in motion. I was led to a Science of Mind Center and from there to here, my life has been about sharing this truth with the world. I am deeply grateful for everything in my life, including the parts that weren’t so lovely. It can be messy to undo beliefs, making room for new perceptions. We resist, fight and sometimes abandon the Game, only to return once again, ready to let Intelligence and Love have their way with us. That is the spiritual path and we are all on it in some way.
Stay tuned in,
Kavanaugh - One More Time
by John Lawrence, October 8, 2018
It's interesting how Susan Collins of Maine managed to thread the needle to justify her vote for Kavanaugh. She said there was no corroboration for Blasey Ford's story, but she thinks she was assaulted by someone but not by Kavanaugh. No one is saying what they actually believe which is he really did it but the statute of limitations for the #MeToo movement has run out. Did Kavanaugh assault anyone in the last 10 years? No. In the last 20 years? No. In the last 30 years? No. Evidently he has led an exemplary life for at least 30 years. I think they all believe Blasey Ford's story. It just doesn't matter to most Republican Senators. They'd want Kavanaugh on the court regardless. It didn't in actuality boil down to who they believed. Believing one or the other had nothing to do with it although they would have the public believe that they wouldn't have voted for Kavanaugh if they didn't believe him..
As far as most Senators were concerned, it was a youthful indiscretion. Even a criminal who has served his time supposedly deserves a second chance. Besides a person in the US is innocent until proven guilty. There is a presumption of innocence. Consequences to a person's career or reputation based on unproven accusations is more like the way business is carried out in China than in the US.
It was definitely all about politics, and the fact that they let Blasey Ford testify before Congress was really a dog and pony show certain to drive up media revenues. It looks also like it energized the Republican base for the upcoming vote. It'll be interesting to see how this plays out in the November election. If the Democrats make good gains, all the demonstrations and such will have borne fruit. If not, those protesting Kavanaugh will have been wasting their time and energy. In the final analysis it comes down to the numbers.
"Instead of acting like the minority and like victims, Dems need to go on the offensive and act like a majority! Investigate, interview, and use the power of the media loudly, with courage and fervor!"
Following the final pronouncements by holdout lawmakers on Friday—namely Republican Susan Collins of Maine and Democrat Joe Manchin of West Virginia—that made it clear the U.S. Senate is almost assured to confirm Brett Kavanaugh to the U.S. Supreme Court in a vote on Saturday, outraged erupted among those who had opposed his nomination and vows to mobilize were issued to make sure that those who voted against the public interest would be held accountable in the upcoming mid-terms or in 2020.
But beyond those pronouncements, others noted that the Democrats still have some very real strategic decisions to make about how to proceed in the case of Kavanaugh—a nominee who throughout his confirmation process lashed out with partisan attacks, dodged questions about his past, and may well have perjured himself by lying under oath to the Senate on not one, but numerous occasions.
In addition to the very serious and credible allegations of sexual assault by Dr. Christine Blasey Ford and Debbie Ramirez—neither of which outside observers contend came close to receiving the investigative scrutiny they deserved by a rushed and constrained FBI probe—progressive voices are calling on the Democrats, even if Kavanaugh is confirmed on Saturday, to do everything possible to make sure a proper investigation is conducted and that the American public—given what's at stake—is given the opportunity to understand the full scope of his past behavior, present-day misconduct, and the accusations of perjury before the Senate Judiciary Committee.
As columnist wrote on CNN Saturday morning, "The FBI probe apparently did not find any corroborating evidence into allegations of sexual assault against Judge Brett Kavanaugh because it was never meant to do that. It was not a search for the truth. It was a charade meant to appear as a real investigation, with the purpose of giving Republicans a fig leaf to confirm Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court without paying a political price."
With a thread on Twitter Friday evening, Briahna Gray, the senior politics editor for The Intercept and a contributing editor for Current Affairs magazine, laid out a plan of attack for Democrats that would rely not on hand-wringing over their Kavanaugh defeat, but instead focus on truth-telling and fact-finding that would put the Republicans, especially Collins, on the hook for the sham process they facilitated to ram him through. In the series of tweets, she wrote:
Those who spotted the advice, thought it was a great idea:
Instead of their reactive brand of politics, Democrats might consider doing something bold, like publishing the results of an independent investigation into all the sources the FBI neglected to question, & holding an hours long press conference at which those witnesses speak.— Briahna Gray Joy 👻🎃🦇 (@briebriejoy) October 5, 2018
Responding to Gray's thread, author and climate activist Bill McKibben stated, "this is very good strategic thinking; i hope someone sees it and takes you up on it." He then tagged Democratic Senators Jeff Merkley, Sheldon Whitehouse, and Edward Markey in his tweet.
In the wake of Friday's announcement by Collins, Brian Fallon, executive director of Demand Justice, said that Kavanaugh "will join the Supreme Court with a cloud over his head, and an asterisk next to his name."
As what might be considered the first truly "illegitimate justice" on the Court, Fallon continued, Kavanaugh's confirmation "will mark a point of no return for the Supreme Court's reputation as the one, apolitical branch" of the U.S. government.
"Make no mistake," he warned: "this confirmation vote will not be the last word on Kavanaugh's fitness to serve on the Supreme Court. Kavanaugh is sure to be the tiebreaking vote in a series of 5-4 decisions that will defy the will of the public, ensuring this fight will rage for years to come. If Democrats regain power in either chamber of Congress, they must resolve to reopen the investigations that Republicans refused to conduct and demand the documents that the Trump White House worked to conceal."
As those Republicans who voted to in his favor, Fallon concluded, "this will be a career-defining decision they will never live down. Many of these Republicans are up in 2020, and our work to hold them accountable will begin immediately."
Are you enjoying yourself? By that I mean, your Self? Or are you, like most people, depending on others for your value? How much feedback do you really need to love yourself unconditionally? It is a balancing act to keep ourselves humble, yet confident and approving of our own way of being in the world. There is a healthy combination of the two and it is derived from spirituality.
Humility is the natural condition of a mind that is aware of the miracle of their own existence; of the almost impossible odds of getting born at all; of the mysterious, yet palpable Presence of Something perfect that is behind it all. At the same time we have the right to think well of ourselves for managing to live with integrity, love and the ability to forgive and move forward. That is not conceit, merely the acknowledgement that who we are is always greater than the situation we are in at the moment. We have made good choices.
Have you ever noticed that you have a tendency to grasp onto any negative remark about you? That it seems more real than the compliments? That is an indication that we need to get back to our spiritual practice and sit with ourselves in silence. It is there we will find the warmth and appreciation we seek in the outer. Any one of us, no matter how schooled we are in spiritual truth, can revert, temporarily, to self-negation. It is in our best interest to pull our mind up to the higher level of awareness that “I am living in great love and peace, unbounded joy and passion. I am never separate from the Source of everything. It is always possible to love myself and others unconditionally. I do so ,now.” Not easy, but worth the effort.
Stay tuned in,
www.bakersfieldcsl.com (under construction)
And So Judge Kavanaugh Accedes to the Bench
by John Lawrence, October 6, 2018
It was a foregone conclusion. He said. She said with no corroboration. If the Judge had done these things five years ago and there was corroboration, then he may have been tried and convicted, but the time frame when the event undoubtedly occurred was ancient history. Some women are outraged, but probably not enough to damage the Republican party's fortunes. The Trump base, or the 'silent majority' as Nixon called them, have evidently been 'energized' by the recent proceedings. The upcoming mid term elections will probably tell the story. Were enough independent voters outraged enough to vote for Democrats?
Kavanaugh proclaimed, "I am innocent," and he surely was in terms of the law. Everyone is innocent until proven guilty, and there was no way Kavanaugh was going to be proven guilty. Despite multiple allegations and a furious hue and cry, the brou ha ha was in the final analysis just a media spectacle. It sure raised ratings and gave Judge Kavanaugh, albeit unfortunately for him, a national stage. Now he can get down to the business of screwing leftist women politically and taking away their rights.
It all comes down to the numbers. Are there enough votes to repudiate the Republicans at the polls? The problem with the #MeToo movement is that most of these women are "coming forward" as opposed to "going to the police" at the time the incidents occurred. Maybe that will change from now on. It's one thing to get a Les Moonves removed from his CEOship. It's another to get a bunch of lawyers to convict one of their own own based on the court of public opinion.
Unless there is corroborating evidence, the powers that be are not going to believe someone's story no matter how sincere and convincing. They believed Monica Levinsky because she had DNA evidence that it was Bill Clinton. With Bill Cosby, there was no corroborating evidence, but he is a black man so that wasn't as necessary. The Washington Post reported: "The [Cosby] case lacks physical evidence, so much of the prosecution’s presentation to jurors will rest on her [Andrea Costand's] testimony." Another high tech lynching? However, a jury of someone's peers made the decision. A jury need not decide based on corroborating evidence. Evidently, it was enough that a bunch of women came forward with similar stories about Cosby. And did I mention: he's black.
A jury may well have convicted Judge Kavanaugh although the statute of limitations had obviously run out so no jury could possibly have. True, not as many women came forward as in the Cosby case. Christine Blasey Ford was a credible witness, but the incident took place too long ago and there was not enough corroboration. It was a "youthful indiscretion" as politician Henry Hyde declared when he was caught having committed adultery. He was one of the chief accuser's of Bill Clinton.
While Hyde was spearheading the impeachment of President Clinton in the Monica Lewinsky affair, it was revealed that Hyde himself had conducted an extramarital sexual affair with Cherie Snodgrass who was also married. Hyde admitted to the affair and attributed the relationship as a mere "youthful indiscretion". He was 41 years old and married when the affair occurred. Hyde said the affair ended when Snodgrass' husband confronted Mrs. Hyde. At the time, Snodgrass was also married and had three children.
And so sex is a potent tool in the political arena which is responsible for much hypocrisy. Oh what fools we mortals be. And so Kavanaugh accedes to the bench along with "that Thomas" as Anita Hill called him. Lesson to women: document any physical assaults, rapes or attempted rapes.
From truthdig, October 5, 2018
Consumer rights activist and former presidential candidate Ralph Nader. (Patrick Dodson / Common Dreams)
In all the mounting media coverage of problems with the Internet, such as invasion of privacy, vulnerability to hacking, political manipulation, and user addiction, there is one constant: online advertising. Online advertising is the lifeblood of Google, Facebook, and many other Internet enterprises that profit by providing personal data to various vendors. Moreover, the move of tens of billions of dollars from conventional print and broadcast media continues, with devastating impacts, especially on print newspapers and magazines.
But does online advertising work for consumers? The Internet was once considered a less commercial medium. But today consumers are inundated with targeted ads, reviews, comments, friends’ reactions, and other digital data. Unfortunately for advertisers, consumers are not intentionally clicking on online ads in big numbers.
Google’s search ads tackle people when they search for a product or service. A controlled study by eBay research labs in 2014 concluded that Google was greatly exaggerating the effectiveness of such ads—at least those bought by eBay. eBay’s researchers concluded that “More frequent users whose purchasing behavior is not influenced by ads account for most of the advertising expenses, resulting in average returns that are negative.” This is the “I-was-gonna-buy-it-anyway problem,” says an article in the Atlantic.
The Atlantic notes:
Whether all advertising—online and off—is losing its persuasive punch…Think about how much you can learn about products today before seeing an ad. Comments, user reviews, friends’ opinions, price-comparison tools…they’re much more powerful than advertising because we consider them information rather than marketing. The difference is enormous: We seek information, so we’re more likely to trust it; marketing seeks us, so we’re more likely to distrust it.
Some companies like Coca-Cola have cooled on using online advertising. But advertising revenues keep growing for Google, Facebook, and the other giants of the Internet. These companies are racing to innovate, connecting ads to more tailored audiences, which tantalize and keeps hope springing eternal for the advertisers. The Internet ad sellers also provide detailed data to advertise themselves to the advertisers staying one step ahead of growing skepticism. This is especially a problem when there is inadequate government regulation of deceptive advertising. It is the Wild West! Online advertising revenues are the Achilles’ heel of these big Internet companies. Any decline will deflate them immensely; more than public and Congressional criticism of their intrusiveness, their massive allowed fakeries, their broken promises to reform, and their openings to unsavory political and commercial users. If they lose advertising revenue, a major revenue bubble will burst and there goes their business model, along with their funding for ventures from video hosting to global mapping.
After reviewing the many major negatives attributed to the Internet, the New York Times’ Farhad Manjoo writes, “So who is the central villain in this story, the driving force behind much of the chaos and disrepute online?… It’s the advertising business, stupid.” He adds, perhaps optimistically, “If you want to fix much of what ails the internet right now, the ad business would be the perfect perp to handcuff and restrain.”
Randall Rothenberg, who heads a trade association of companies in the digital ad business, urges advertisers “to take civic responsibility for our effect on the world.” Then he shows his frustration by saying that, “Technology has largely been outpacing the ability of individual companies to understand what is actually going on.” All of this even before artificial intelligence (AI) takes root. Meanwhile, Facebook, Google, and Twitter keep announcing new tools to make their ads “safe and civil” (Facebook), open and protective of privacy. At the same time matters keep getting worse for consumers. The backers and abusers keep getting more skilled too (see Youtube Kids ).
In a recent report titled “Digital Deceit,” authors Dipayan Ghosh and Ben Scott wrote:
The Central problem of disinformation corrupting American political culture is not Russian spies or a particular media platform. The central problem is that the entire industry is built to leverage sophisticated technology to aggregate user attention and sell advertising.
If so, why isn’t more public attention being paid to this root cause? Not by the mass media which is obviously too compromised by the Congress, by academia, or by more of US before “We the People” become the conditioned responders that Ivan Pavlov warned about so many years ago.
The other day I went to the DMV to get a California drivers license. Well-meaning friends suggested I take a book because I would be there for hours. I took the advice of a DMV telephone representative and went on a Saturday afternoon, which seemed a crazy idea. Wouldn’t that be the busiest day of the week? However, I took her advice and I was in and out with a new license in under 45 minutes. Sometimes defying logic is the secret to great success!
It may seem logical to fight against what is wrong or ill-conceived but what works best is to act as if it did not exist and do what we know in our hearts is the right thing. We are taught so many things that are not true that, if we do not come to that moment where we decide to trust ourselves, we will live without energy or passion, moving through life automatically.
Emerson said something about this; “It is very easy to live by the opinion of the world. It is very easy in solitude to be centered. But the finished one is s(he) who, in the midst of the crowd keeps with perfect sweetness the independence of solitude.” Isn’t he simply saying, let our spiritual understanding and our deepest knowing be the energy of our daily actions?
Do not set our truth aside and fall into the hue and cry of the nay-sayers. Our lives are best lived in congruency. Do the right thing, be true to our self, defy logic when it is illogical, and trust our higher knowing. There is Reality and there is Appearance. Which one is our guide?
Stay tuned in,
The American Empire
by John Lawrence, October5, 2018
It's an empire when you have 1000 military bases in almost every country of the world. Those countries without American military bases are surrounded by countries that do have them. It's an empire when you control the world's reserve currency and financial system. It's an empire when the American central bank (the Federal Reserve) controls the other central banks of the world. It's an empire when you can apply sanctions that limit the rights of other countries to do business with each other. It's an empire when you can freeze bank accounts of anyone anywhere in the world.
Total, the French oil company, won't do business with Iran because the US applied sanctions that would threaten Total's bottom line if they persisted in their business relationship with Iran.
French energy giant Total has yet to permanently pull out of Iran following the renewal of U.S. sanctions, but CEO Patrick Pouyanne on Wednesday sounded a pessimistic note about his company's prospects in the country.
Total positioned itself to develop a portion of the world's largest natural gas field after the 2015 Iran nuclear deal lifted punishing sanctions on the Iranian economy. However, the company is now preparing to abandon the Persian Gulf project unless the U.S. government issues the company a sanctions waiver.
That would protect Total from so-called secondary sanctions, which the United States can use to punish foreign companies that engage in prohibited activity with Iran. Washington gave firms 90 to 180 days to wind down their business in the country after President Donald Trump withdrew the United States from the nuclear deal last month.
"There's not a single international company like Total who can work in any country with secondary sanctions. I don't have the right. It's just the reality of the world," Pouyanne told CNBC at an OPEC seminar in Vienna.
Pouyanne acknowledged that his position probably does not sit well with Europe's leaders. The European Union has attempted to salvage the nuclear deal by passing measures aimed at protecting the bloc's firms that have business dealings in Iran.
But Pouyanne told CNBC he must be pragmatic and face reality.
"The reality is that the capital of the world today is in the hands of the U.S.," he said. "Is it right that in this world the U.S. [is] using that ... to impose some rules for other countries? That's a debate."
Secondary sanctions are particularly perilous for multinationals like Total. Engaging in sanctioned activity with Iran could prompt the American government to cut Total off from the massive U.S. financial system and force the firm to wind down its operations in the States.
"The U.S. could decide that I could not have access to any U.S. financing," Pouyanne said. "It's impossible, let me be clear, to run an international company like Total without having access to U.S. financing or to U.S. shareholding."
Total says U.S. banks are involved in about 90 percent of the company's financing operations, while American investors account for more than 30 percent of its shareholding. The company has more than $10 billion deployed in U.S. operations.
By comparison, Total spent less than 40 million euros, or roughly $46 million, on its project developing the massive South Pars natural gas field in Iranian waters.
America was already great before Trump came to office if by great you mean that the US controls every other country in the world both militarily and economically. The only thing not great about America is that it has a great underclass of homeless and people living paycheck to paycheck but every empire has had its slaves or peons. I guess Trump is going to double down on American greatness and really crack the whip on these other countries that don't fall into line. When he's done with them, they will either pay up or be forced into submission as American sanctions are applied to them.
There was a fascinating program on TV recently about how the Dutch have conquered the potential for flooding. It was imperative that they do so since the Netherlands are largely under sea level. A huge storm could devastate the land, and indeed, had done so in the past. They built a series of truly innovative devices that divert the water and put it to good use. Using only the human mind, they are no longer victims of the weather. They are its partner.
The secret seems to be in NOT fighting something but standing up to it and getting creative. Our minds are the conduit for what has not been previously known. When we decide to take charge of what seems indomitable, we soon discover that we are greater than it. Intelligence, put to creative use, trumps force every time.
We would all agree that creation can be quite chaotic or messy. When the old forms come unglued, they turn into rubble. That is the stage where people fight to save the old ways. It is like trying to give away your child’s old toys and they simply will not let go of them without making a scene. Some of our cherished ideas have been really hard on some of us. None of them, however, are more powerful than we are.
The Dalai Lama once replied, when asked what is needed in our world, “Critical thinking.” We need to think beyond what we already know. That is as true of us as individuals as it is of the collective. If God is “the Power that makes all things new” and if it lives within each one of us, then what do we need to do? Activate the Power by opening our minds to possibility.
Try this: My mind is open to receive the very idea that is needed in this moment to create a brand new _________________________(fill in the blank)
Stay tuned in,
by Lee Camp, from truthdig, October 3, 2018
Billions and billions: Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos is doing his part to widen the income gap. (Composite image from Megapixel, Cliff Owen / AP)
I do not want to talk about Jeff Bezos.
But in order to not talk about Jeff Bezos, I have to talk about Jeff Bezos.
We all know the Lex Luthor-looking head of Amazon is the richest human in the world.
He’s achieved a net worth of more than $150 billion by selling everything that has ever existed … with free shipping. (It turns out the only thing stopping the human race from giving all our money to one man was that pesky $4.99 shipping fee.)
But let me stop right here. Even the way we talk about economics is influenced by a capitalist culture that tells us amassing money is the answer to everything. Did you notice I said Bezos “achieved” a net worth of $150 billion, and that seems like a normal way to phrase it? However, would you say, “Jeffrey Dahmer achieved eating the hearts of 10 different people?” No, that would sound odd to you. Yet having $150 billion is nearly as sociopathic, and still we use terminology as if it’s GREAT!
But, like I said, this column is not about Jeff Bezos. It’s about clean water.
Clean water is one of the most important things to anyone and everyone (second only to nacho cheese). Yet millions around the world don’t have clean water or struggle to get it. A report by the U.N. “estimated that 300 million people on the continent [of Africa], more than a third of the population, have no fixed supply [of clean water].” And 2.5 billion worldwide lack proper sanitation. The CDC says 2,200 children die a day from diarrheal diseases—mostly from unclean water.
Millions of people in total die each year from a lack of clean water. So how much would it cost to change that? It would cost $10 billion a year to bring pure water to the entire world.
Jeff Bezos himself could provide the world with clean water for the next 15 years.
He could save millions upon millions of lives. But instead of doing that, he will continue to enrich himself by delivering sex toys in a box with a smiley on it.
But this is not about Jeff Bezos. It’s about world hunger. According to UNICEF, 22,000 children die each day due to poverty while the U.N. in 2015 estimated it would cost $30 billion a year to end world hunger. Imagine—not a soul hungry! And big shock—when people aren’t hungry, there’s less crime, less hatred, better decision-making, and so forth. Hunger correlates with all kinds of shitty stuff, which means we all benefit when there’s no hunger. Think about it; you probably have coworkers who miss lunch and start spraying hate crimes around the office. Then you have to say, “Leslie, I think if you just had a taco, you would stop using the C-word so much.” Now imagine Leslie on a global scale.
Jeff Bezos himself could end world hunger for five straight years. If he teamed up with the Koch brothers, they could do it for eight to 10 years.
But Bezos wouldn’t do that. Instead, he’ll just make billions convincing people to put Amazon Echo spy systems into their own homes.
This column is not about Jeff Bezos. It’s about Flint, Mich.
You remember how upset we were about Flint’s water? It was poisoned with lead. It was destroying lives of people who were already poor to begin with. Then the authorities came to the conclusion it would cost $216 million to fix, and everyone was aghast. That’s an insane amount of money. How could ANY city afford that?!
Jeff Bezos could pay to repair Flint’s water supply 694 times over.
He could pay for it 690 times over and still have 864 million dollars left to pay for a cast of people to dance around him dressed like wood sprites and sprinkle glitter on his shining bald head for the rest of his fucking life. (So don’t say he wouldn’t be happy.)
But this column is not about Jeff Bezos. It’s about homelessness.
There are 554,000 homeless people in the U.S., one of the richest countries in the world. What would it cost to give each of these struggling people his or her own apartment? Recent numbers show the cheapest apartments to rent in America are in Wichita, Kan. (because why would ya? … unless you were heavily invested in grasshoppers). In Wichita an apartment costs $632 per month. (In San Francisco that’s the cost of the monthly utility bill for a dog house.) So $632 per month amounts to $7,584 per year. Therefore, the total cost to give every American houseless person an apartment in Wichita would be $4.2 billion.
Jeff Bezos could give every homeless person their own apartment for the next 36 YEARS.
This is one man we’re talking about! But Jeff Bezos would never do that. He’d rather push a bag of 3,000 live ladybugs on someone actually searching Amazon for “Lady Bugs” the Rodney Dangerfield film (which was apparently intended as a children’s movie, but now seems like a guidebook for how to become a #MeToo predator).
But this column is not about Jeff Bezos. It’s about education.
When people go to college without coming out stuck under immense debt, it often changes their whole lives. They can get better jobs, eat healthier, provide for their family. “According to the American Association of Community Colleges,” this source says, “the average yearly cost of tuition and fees for community college students in the U.S. is $3,347. …” It usually takes two years to graduate from community college, so the cost for two years is $6,694.
Jeff Bezos could pay for the entire community college education of 22.4 million students.
That’s more than the entire number of college students enrolled this year across our country. Of course you’d have to pay for your own beer bongs, posters of John Belushi in the “college” sweater, macaroni stuck to the floor and pregnancy tests. (But I know a guy who can get you a homemade pregnancy test for 35 cents. It’s made out of alkaline batteries and sawdust, but it’ll spot a freakin’ baby a mile away.)
However, this column is not about Jeff Bezos. It’s about the system that created Bezos.
If you removed Bezos from Amazon tomorrow and vacuumed all his money away, he would be replaced by another sick hoarder of egregious wealth. This is because we have a deathly ill economic system. Think about it this way—the goals of our economy (and any economy), according to Zeitgeist Movement founder Peter Joseph, and I agree, should be:
Makes sense—we should seek a sustainable system where nobody is dying or miserable. Here’s the problem—unfettered capitalism doesn’t even claim to be ATTEMPTING any of that. Our economy’s mission statement is basically to “… preserve inefficiency for the sake of monetary circulation, economic growth and power preservation.”
Profit over all else. It doesn’t matter how many people die or work at an Amazon warehouse for pennies. Does. Not. Matter. So it’s not that capitalism is failing in this new Gilded Age. Rather, capitalism is succeeding at what it was meant to do: amass all the money in a tiny number of hands and exploit everyone else.
That’s what this column is about.
If you think this column is important, please share it. This column is based on a segment performed and written by Lee Camp for his TV show “Redacted Tonight.” Also, check out Lee’s free weekly podcast, “Common Censored.”
Michael Moore's Film - Fahrenheit 11/9
by John Lawrence, October 4, 2018
This film makes some interesting points that I was not aware of. In the Democratic primary, Bernie actually won in precincts that were reported as won by Hillary. I wasn't clear whether this was because of the use of super delegates to turn the tide or just dishonesty in the process. In any event the race for the Democratic nominee was much closer than it seemed at the Democratic convention. The use of super delegates can tip the balance in any given state. Mostly they went for Hillary in 2016 so that Hillary won states where Bernie should have won or it should have reported to the convention that he had more pledged delegates there than was actually reported.
The other major part of the film was about Flint water. It detailed how the Governor of Michigan, Rick Snyder, changed the water supply of Flint from pure Lake Huron water to water from the polluted Flint River. When the parts being manufactured in a GM plant started getting corroded, Snyder switched back to Lake Huron water but only for the GM plant. The rest of the people got the polluted Flint river water. So Michael Moore got a water tank truck, emblazoned "Flint Water" on the side and went to the Governor's house. He rang the bell at the security gate which he so famously did in his other movie at Charlton Heston's house. However, no one at Rick Snyder's "mansion" answered his call so he sprayed the Governor's foliage with the Flint water. Pretty hilarious and a typical daring Michael Moore move. The guy's got guts.
The movie had a lot of clips from the archives, a typical Michael Moore predilection in all his movies - so many that there was an archival editor who played a major behind the scenes role. One of the funniest was putting Donald Trump's words in Hitler's mouth. It actually looked like Hitler was saying the words with a Trump accent. Pretty funny. But it actually was supposed to be scary. Democracies don't last forever. The Germans can attest to that. Germany was a land of intellectual and artistic accomplishment before Hitler came along. Michael Moore is drawing the same parallels with the US which could be heading down the same path as 1930s era Deutschland.
There are lots of reasons to be upset these days, to be angry or to lose hope. There are even more reasons to celebrate the underlying emergent Good that is coming through. It is removing all that is unlike it by making us aware of what needs to be released. We release by adopting a higher idea, one that serves humanity and validates our spiritual heritage. That means we are the cause of our shared reality and we have the resources, each and every one of us, to create a new way of being together that exemplifies our Source.
What is your motivation today? Is it to welcome diversity into your midst more consciously? How will you do that? Is it to share your prosperity more intentionally? What would that look like? If we want a more just and equitable world, how can we make that happen right where we are? What is our part in this unfolding Good? We do have a part. There is no “they” out there who will make it happen. There is no outer God who will intervene. God is in us, expressing through us by means of our self-awareness.
We come again to the inescapable conclusion that how we identify ourselves sets the agenda for all we do, for every choice we make. Take the worldly labels off, set yourself free of them. Claim your true nature.
“I am a forever revealing Spiritual Being. My human experience does not touch or diminish my true self in any way. Who I am is always greater than the realm of form and experience. I honor this self by taking the high road today. Inclusive, loving, compassionate and daring to be who I am, I release all old ideas that seemed to serve me but only kept me hidden. Who I am is the answer to every question.”
Stay tuned in,
If the Economy is So Bad, Why Is the Stock Market Booming?
by John Lawrence, October 3, 2018
The simple answer is that the Fed has printed so much free money that it has nowhere else to go. But all those with 401(k)s sure must be happy. In 2015, about 54 million American workers were active 401(k) participants, and there were nearly 550,000 401(k) plans. If each worker was responsible for a family of 4, that would make approximately 200 million Americans that were covered by 401(k)s or 100 million adults. The American population is 325 million. So about 125 million Americans are not benefiting from the rise in the stock market. However, we could assume that those benefiting from the economy would vote Republican. In the last election approximately 130 million people voted or roughly half the American population. Since the poorest Americans probably don't vote, we would assume that most of the 100 million American adults who are benefiting from the stock market's rise would vote Republican in the upcoming election and would vote for Trump again in 2020. So based on this analysis, Republican voters would be in the majority.
That leaves about 100 million Americans in the lower financial tiers of American society, a substantial number to be sure, but not the majority of voters. As long as the economy is humming along for the majority, their interests will be maintained by Republican elected representatives. Their interests would include all the money that is made from militarism. That includes all the engineer college grads that are employed in the military-industrial complex by the likes of Lockheed Martin, Boeing and Raytheon. It includes all the young people out of high school that take advantage of the military's training, education acquisition of job skills, free health care, world travel and generous pay scales as inductees into the military itself with the option of retirement with benefits in 20 years.
The 100 million Americans not benefiting from the stock market's rise would include all the minimum wage workers working paycheck to paycheck, government workers other than those employed in the military or military-industrial complex, teachers, nurses and care givers. These Americans who would vote Democratic if they voted at all, will see whatever benefits they receive from government diminish as the Republican majority and their elected representatives squeeze that part of government - as well as all public programs and spaces - so small that it can be drowned in a bathtub.
Republican elected representatives and lobbyists cater to the uppermost rungs of society and the people in those rings don't want their taxes being used to support government programs that benefit poor people. So until there is some cataclysm that takes down the majority of the economy, as long as the economy keeps humming along, as long as there is full employment (albeit with a large portion of minimum wage workers), as long as the stock market keeps rising, Michael Moore's contention that American society is majority leftist is hogwash. While it may be majority leftist on cultural matters like abortion and marijuana legalization, it is majority rightist on pocket book issues which trump all other issues.
In late afternoon, if I am sitting on my balcony, a mother and her toddler, a little girl with huge brown eyes, go by and wave at me. They are from India, so I call out ‘namaste’ which makes the mother smile. She is about to give birth to her second child. I silently hope she cherishes these days with her one baby. I know her life will change drastically with the addition of another. It will be happy times but not as peaceful. There will be more to do, and the little girl will have to adjust to not having mommy all to herself. I wish them well, in my mind. I affirm that her birthing is easy and that the family is joyful and blessed. It is all I can do but it is a good thing, I assure myself.
There is a lovely old spiritual song “Someone needs a prayer today” that says it all for me. There are countless opportunities throughout our day to know and affirm a deep truth for others. We pass a scene where two cars have collided. Do we offer a blessing? I simply say to myself “all is well. Healing is now. Help is here.” A homeless man is sitting on the curb as I drive by. I need to know “there is God, right there in disguise. There is no lack of anything he desires.” I am not a saintly person. Far from it. I can be goofy or sarcastic, even. But my heart seems to stay open to a higher truth than what I see around me.
That really is the purpose of spiritual practice; not so much for my benefit as it is to keep me tuned in to the finer vibrations of life, to the inherent perfection of everything; to know it is never too late, too hard, too real, for a new life to emerge right where the old one seemed to be permanent. The song asks us, have you said a prayer today? Let’s offer one, not for ourselves but for humanity. It is trying to birth a new way of being together.
Let’s know: “We are awake now to the glorious truth of our Being. We are on the move in the right direction. We love each other, all of us. We celebrate diversity and cherish our individuality. We are brand new, all together. We smile and say Namaste.”
Stay tuned in,
Will the US Sanction the EU?
by John Lawrence
The rest of the world doesn't agree with President Trump's pulling out of the nuclear agreement with Iran. Iran has been complying with the agreement so why should the US pull out based on the judgment of one man? If the US is a democracy, shouldn't it take more than one to reverse a policy that was entered into on behalf of the world's greatest super power? The US has vowed to put sanctions on any entity doing business with Iran. However, the EU is standing up to the US in the persona of Trump and devising a workaround that will supply Iran with everything it needs regardless of Trump's threat of sanctions.
The remaining signatories of the Iran nuclear deal announced on Monday that they would establish a channel to facilitate payments for Iran's exports, including oil, as well as its imports. The decision was reached after high-level closed-door talks at the UN in New York.
"Mindful of the urgency and the need for tangible results, the participants welcomed practical proposals to maintain and develop payment channels, notably the initiative to establish a Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) to facilitate payments related to Iran's exports, including oil," Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia and the EU announced in a joint statement.
The members' stated intent is "to protect the freedom of their economic operators to pursue legitimate business with Iran."
The SPV could breathe life into the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), the Iran nuclear deal, and was sought by Tehran in order to counter the reimposition of sanctions triggered by the US's exit from the deal.
The European Union has struggled to devise a workable legal framework to shield its companies from the effects of US sanctions, which are set to come into effect in November, and has tried to deter firms from pulling out of Iran.
If Trump can singlehandedly and unilaterally pull out of an international deal, it effectively makes him a dictator. The fact that this deal was never ratified by Congress signifies the fact that the US Congress is totally dysfunctional. In a democracy, the people or their representatives should stand behind the deals made in their name. Just because Trump thinks the Iran deal was a bad deal does not make it so. Every other signatory to the deal thinks it was a good deal. Trump is just exercising dictatorial powers turning the US into a dictatorship with a Congress that is irrelevant. This is how democracies become dictatorships.
Will the US then sanction the EU and drive the US further apart from its erstwhile allies? Already China and Russia are developing ways to circumvent US sanctions. They are tired of having the US, which they thought was a rational and trustworthy actor, control the world's financial system. When the dollar no longer reigns supreme, the chickens will soon be coming home to roost on the US national debt. But no worries. The Federal Reserve will simply print more money to pay off the debt. That seems to be working so far.