Saturday, January 26, 2008
But how do we build a new model? As individuals? ???
It cannot be done by individuals alone, but must be started by the individual by the way they choose to live. A collective consciousness needs to be forged through sharing of ideas, a sharing of lifestyle change, and a sharing of love. The New Testament Church demonstrated it can be done, but there has to be a return to the communist model they used, where all things were shared and no one was in need. Jesus' statement that we are to love one another even as he has loved us, can be compared with Karl Marx' maxim To each according to their need, from each according to their ability.
The biggest obstacle lay within us, we must find a way to uproot, greed, selfishness and hatred - transform these instictual based drives with higher soul powers which promote altruism, sharing, kindness and being empathic towards one another. The powers of the soul lay within the spirit which makes up humanity as a whole. It really escapes definiton or categorizes, as t is a power we have barely come to know. Some have been able to use in tremendous ways such as the many mystics, saints and gifted psychics have demonstrated in the past.
Meditiaton and discipline are requrements of this interior change, but this should and must be transfigured to the way we live as well. The The masters of Christian meditiation, and the desert fathers and mothers pratice an even deeper form of meditation through contemplation. Contemplation is when the soul merges perfectly with this spirit and with God. It must be be putin daily practice. In the Eastern traditions, this is called Dharma. The noble goals of selflessness or 'no-mind' or mindfulness does stop with the individual ,as if these were forms of escapism. No, instead they are practices which if properly nurtured increases wisdom , charity and a ggreater sensitivity to suffering - which in turn produces a greater desire for social justice.
Tuesday, January 22, 2008
Way back in high school. one of my music teachers described music as the resolution between dissonance and harmony, as between noise and silence. If a musical work does not include periods of silence balanced between sound and noise, it cannot be expressive of the ideas which a composer may be trying to express.
The cosmos is much like that, if we are to believe the astrophysics and the the physics of chaos theory.
It only follows then, that all life is an act of balancing, and human life which is conscious of itself must find ways to 'intentionality' of balance. The dissonance in ones life, the various mishaps, misfortunes, and grief seeks after resolution which is more than a biological function of survival. Consciousness is able to transcend the baser instincts of survival. Life, instinct and consciousness progresses into a harmonizing whole.
Monday, January 21, 2008
Tom Hayden, Liberty Tree Board of Advisors
The US government is considering direct military intervention in the tribal areas of
Pakistan, risking an escalated conflict with Pashtun nationalism in the name of crushing
al Qaeda. An essay in last week's Washington Post, a front page story in today's New
York Times and reports from the Real News Network all confirm that a decision to
intervene is near. The Times confirms that as many as 50 American personnel, whether
special forces or CIA, already operate clandestinely inside the Pakistani border.
Democrats have called no hearings nor raised significant voices of opposition to the
unfolding plan. In New Hampshire last night, Sen. Barack Obama repeated his endorsement
of unilateral US military intervention in Pakistan if "actionable intelligence" exists.
His Democratic rivals did not dissent.
The consequences of the possible escalation are extremely unpredictable. The alleged
al-Qaeda militants are embedded in complex tribal networks in a remote mountainous area.
Military action could inflict severe casualties and damage to these traditional
communities and inflame anti-American sentiment across Muslim Pakistan. It might
accelerate the disintegration of the US-backed Musharraf dictatorship which currently
possesses nuclear weapons. Musharraf and the Pakistani military have steadfastly opposed
direct American intervention for the past five years.
Speculation is rife that US support for the ill-fated return of Benezir Bhutto to
Pakistan was based partly on an understanding that she would endorse and legitimize an
expanded US presence in her country. If neither the American embassy nor the Musharraf
regime could save her from death at a public event, it is unclear how successful American
special forces will be in the wilds of South Waziristan.
There is virtually no public discussion of the implications of American support for a
military dictatorship that imprisons Pakistani lawyers while harboring anti-US jihadists.
Instead of enforcing the existing Leahy Amendment  which bans military assistance
to human rights violators, the US has spent approximately $10 billion in five years
supporting the Musharraf regime, alienating a majority of Pakistanis, and lending
credence to the claims of Muslim extremists. Having contributed to, or at least failing
to have prevented Pakistan's fall into chaos, "senior officials" quoted by the Times
now are blaming al-Qaeda for plotting all along to achieve "the big prize, creating chaos
in Pakistan itself."
It is ironic that Democrats like Obama, whose campaign was built around questioning the
intelligence justifying the Iraq War would now be arguing for a preventive war in a
sovereign country if evidence gathered by intelligence sources is merely "actionable."
The further irony is that the "war on terrorism" is escalating without meaningful
discussion or dissent in the midst of the most open and democratic of American processes,
the presidential debates.
Congressional hearings and questioning by the presidential candidates might stall,
circumscribe or prevent the escalation. An alternative policy of reducing US military
assistance to Pakistan and demanding the full restoration of civil liberties there, while
seeking diplomatic de-escalation in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran and Palestine is
being ignored in the march towards a wider quagmire.
TOM HAYDEN is the author of Ending the War in Iraq , and a member of the Liberty
Tree Foundation for the Democratic Revolution's Board of Advisers.
Sunday, January 20, 2008
A national study is released proving the link between federal housing cuts and the huge rise in homelessness
by Joanna Letz
Without Housing is a new report issued by the Western Regional Advocacy Project. The cover painting by Art Hazelwood vividly shows the steep rise in homelessness.
In front of the Federal Building in San Francisco, we assembled. Banners waving in the wind declared: "Stop the criminalization of homelessness. Being poor is not a crime. Housing justice for all!"
On November 14, in front of the Federal Building, the Western Regional Advocacy Project's report, "Without Housing," was publicly released. The report was released in seven cities across the country, including Seattle, Washington, Los Angeles, and San Juan, Puerto Rico.
The speakers, who came from a Bay Area-wide coalition of poverty justice organizers including The Coalition on Homelessness, POOR Magazine, Building Opportunities for Self-Sufficiency and the American Friends Service Committee, reiterated the need for systemic change to end homelessness. The report includes many harsh statistics on the cuts in federal funding for affordable housing and its direct connection to the rise in homelessness all over the nation
WRAP's new report is a call to action by a group of people who are directly affected by federal and local policies on poverty and homelessness, and who are taking charge to affect those policies. As Paul Boden, executive director of WRAP, said, "The report is meant to be used as an organizing and training tool."
Boden described how WRAP was formed and its vision for the report. "WRAP was formed by many organizations and individuals coming together out of frustration, and out of a commitment to social justice," he said. "We are folks who come from the streets. We are bright and talented, and we don't need people's charity. The government blames us for being homeless and for being poor. If the government doesn't respond to you, the government is wrong. The government should be serving us. And what is happening, is the rich are getting richer while homeless folks and poor folks -- we get life-skills training. We can train each other. We need to pull the weed out by the roots. Do our own message."
The report documents federal funding for affordable housing over the past 25 years; and it looks at the cuts in funding for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), as well as rural affordable housing administered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
The government and people in positions of power benefit from a system of myth-making. WRAP's report highlights some of these myths and the ways they are causing more homelessness. One of the myths the report calls out is the fiction that poor and homeless people are the ones to blame for their situations.
The report states, "Public policy debates and media representations rarely address the systemic causes of homelessness; instead they often portray homelessness as a problem with homeless individuals."
The housing shortage is a systematic problem that is forcing more and more people onto the streets. WRAP's report focuses "primarily on what we consider to be one of the most important - if not the most important - factor in explaining why so many families, single adults, and youth are homeless in the United States today: the cutbacks to and eventual near elimination of the federal government's commitment to building, maintaining, and subsidizing affordable housing."
"The report should be retitled, 'I accuse the federal government,'" Terry Messman, editor of Street Spirit, declared to the crowd. "I indict this nation. Gilbert Estrada died on the streets of Berkeley less than three weeks ago. I indict this country for leaving Gilbert Estrada to die without housing, and for leaving children and elders on the street. I accuse the federal government of allowing thousands of people to remain homeless in the Bay Area.
"There is massive homelessness, and billions of dollars in housing cutbacks is a direct act of theft. This government lets people die on the streets. Homelessness and deaths will continue until we get affordable housing. I accuse!"
According to an Urban Institute study, as many as 3.5 million people, including 1.35 million children, are likely to experience homelessness in a given year.
However, one of the main points of the WRAP report is that federal policy has directed large numbers of dollars into counting and categorizing the numbers of homeless people. This is money that would be better spent on actual housing -- and, to add insult to injury, we don't even have real numbers.
For example, according to HUD and ICH, there are currently 600,000 homeless persons nationwide, yet the Department of Education has identified 600,000 homeless students just in our public schools
The WRAP report exposes the lack of federal money being put into affordable housing. The report is an accusation and testament of the failure of the federal government to recognize homelessness, and its denial of the issue. The report is a testament to resistance, as it exposes the government for the wrongs being committed against poor and homeless people.
As the U.S. government continues to send warplanes to Iraq in the name of democracy and human rights, people in this country are still demanding that democracy and human rights be recognized here.
The WRAP report shows the drastic reduction of federal money going towards housing, and compares that to the billions spent on the military. One "Future Fleet" Destroyer cost the federal government $3.3 billion, which is more than all 2005 capital expenses for public housing.
As the report states, "There is no lack of resources to ensure universal housing; what is lacking is the political will to undertake this task." On November 14, the speakers demanded that the human right to housing be recognized.
Wanda Remmers from Housing Rights, Inc. said, "Housing is assumed to be a human right. But in our country it is not a legal right. The government is ignoring their responsibility to make sure everyone has a home. People in this country have a right to housing.
"Government policies are ignoring people's rights to housing. The government is replacing low-income housing with rich people's housing and forced evictions. Internationally, this is a crime. The right to housing should be real. We can make that happen."
Sara Short from the Housing Rights Committee gave the perspective of how federal housing cutbacks are impacting cities across the nation. She said, "There is a big, big emergency. In 2006, HUD's funding was cut. In Philadelphia, HUD is threatening to lay off 300 to 500 people. In Salt Lake City, they are disposing of HUD units altogether. Crime issues are on the rise in public housing. When staff is cut, security goes, repair maintenance goes. In San Francisco, four million dollars were cut from HUD itself."
Her voice cried above the tall shadow of the Federal Building. She continued to call out government officials, saying, "Homelessness still exists, despite what politicians say. Congress can fix this. This might be a brighter day. Nancy Pelosi is in a greater position. But I have yet to hear her talk of housing. Bernie Sanders is in a good position, stepping up with new legislation with the Housing Trust Fund Bill. We have some good advocates. But we need to make them better."
Rep. Pelosi was supposed to speak at the press conference, but did not show up.
Laure McElroy, Joseph Bolden and Lisa Gray-Garcia (Tiny), poverty scholars from Poor Magazine, began their comments with a chant excerpted from the welfareQUEENS play:
"Criminals of Poverty
Welfare wanna punish we
Media they lie on we
Struggle with punitive poli-ceeeeees."
Then, one by one they responded to the WRAP findings. Tiny, co-editor of POOR Magazine and author of the upcoming memoir, Criminal of Poverty; Growing up Homeless in America, called out to the looming federal tower we huddled beneath. She said, "Due to the massive cuts to housing and housing subsidies that this study has uncovered, coupled with extremely harmful welfare deform legislation, and the growing corporatization of U.S. cities, a growing number of American families and individuals are being housed in another kind of shelter: jail. Contrary to corporate, media-based mythologies, it is much cheaper to build housing for poor people than warehouse them in jail."
Laure, digital resister, welfareQUEEN and POOR staff writer continued, "Like the WRAP study, poverty scholars at POOR have long been studying the root causes of poverty, homelessness and racism in America -- with shocking results. Homeless people weren't born that way, we aren't a lost tribe of people walking the earth. We used to be housed, we used to be homeful and then we were unhoused and destabilized due to several factors -- one of the main ones being that our housing, poor people's housing, suffered severe cuts."
"So we came up with a solution," Tiny continued where Laure left off. "The Homefulness Project -- a multigenerational, multicultural, sweat-equity co-housing project for homeless families which includes an on-site school, a cafe and community space. And it gives the one thing to homeless families that separates them from homefulness: equity. But ours is just an example of several real answers to housing cuts that poverty scholars and advocates are creating every day. So, politicians busily making up policies for more harmful cuts and criminalizing legislation, listen to the poverty scholars, listen to the hard data found in this study, listen to us about our solutions."
Next, we were all led in a chant by Juan Prada, emcee for the event and director of the Coalition on Homelessness. He chanted: "What do we want? Housing Justice! When do we want it? Now!"
The WRAP report will continue to be an accusation and a call for action until the federal government addresses its responsibility to provide affordable housing and to address the root causes of homelessness.
Julie Leadbetter from the Housing Justice Coalition said, "It's not enough. Not enough, putting poor folks in SROs (Single Room Occupancy hotels) and getting rid of services for poor folks. Not enough. Join with other cities to tell the federal government that even what San Francisco can do is not enough. We need more housing available."
Let this be a call to action on the part of politicians in both federal and local governments. The report comes from people who have lived on the streets. Let this report be a reminder that, in the United States of America, people are still struggling for democracy and for basic human rights, including the right to be housed.
Joanna Letz is a Poverty and Media Justice intern at POOR.
1515 Webster St,#303
Oakland, CA 94612Phone: (510) 238-8080, ext. 303
© 2002-2006 STREET SPIRIT. All rights reserved.
Published by American Friends Service Committee
Editor and Web Design: Terry Messman
Sunday, January 13, 2008
This Spirit of humanity streams through time and space, marking common points in history and development. For Marxists, this boils down to historical materialism - but for others, it includes all that make up humanity. The ancient Greeks following the lead of Pythagoras declared that the prime numbers made up all of the cosmos, and that music was the expression of this.
I believe in this spirit and that additionally that we are not alone in this universe. Additonally as we explore our nature and our evolvement, it is quite conceivable that our origins lay elsewhere. And because of this... we seek outward and dream of exploring the vast universe of ours. Yet most of us will not be able to journey into space, but we can observe and seek after thepossibility of intelligent extra-terrestial life.
For this reason, I just recently installed the software for Seti@HOME, having better processing power available and more memory. If you are curious as to whether or not there is intelligent life elsewhere in the universe - join SETI research project - it is now run through the UC Berkeley Astrophysics dept and connected to numerous radio telscopes and satellites.
The way it works, is simply a vast global networks which uses unused processing power on your computer being linked to this network, and a constant stream of data is processed from the various parts of the universe being observed. All of this data then is analysed and sorted. If there is intelligent life, then this information will used to pinpoint the most likely spot to begin efforts to make first contact.
Join me on this and maybe we can start a group on 360 and expand our contact list. See http://360.yahoo.com/rmills764.
Go to http://setiathome.berkeley.edu/ and after you are set up, you can use the link there to sennd me a meassage. You don't have to be a scientist or student to partipate, as Berkeley analysts handle all the data collected. You are volunteering your processing power for SETI to use.
Sunday, January 6, 2008
It is going to very difficult for me to be optimistic or positive this year, as so much negativity has happen to me and all around me. Much will have to change to change this. I need very much to expereince some very positive changes in my personal and public life, and in the outside world.
It has been difficult for me to work, and my legs are giving out on me, as ther rest of my health declines. I have been denied social security benefits and will have to appeal the cecision. It has been documented that claims these days can take up to three years or more. I am apprehensive about this, as I am of the survival of America. My family line are predisposed not to survive this diabetes mess, and since I havew no way of getting medical tratment, I must find alternative ways of treating it. I have applied three time for medival public assistence through welfare and was denied - been told that once I get ssi, it will be automatic. But in the meantime, I have no doctor care or treatment because I do have health insurance. And i have no income except the $300 per month GA grant (which I have to pay back once I get ssi or income) -
Through entrampment and deceit I have been locked out of economic life in this country. I am falsely accused of being suspect in dealing weith counterfeiters because a certified cashiers check issued by Bank of America is suspected of being counterfeit - oif such wastrue, then why would my former bank wait an entire month before acting on it. letting me use the money as if it was real and legitimate? I waited the 48 hours and an additional day and half after it was posted. For a month I was using the money to pay bills, buy food, and the such -Then after the 30 days, everything was turned upside down. My account was frozen, bank cards were deactivated and everything in my life has been disrupted. I am no lover of this stinking capitalist system, and i more than ever want to see it's demise and collapse. No system based upon greed and personal acquisition is viable to the common good of humanity - the social and economic is based upon injustice, inequity and war. I want nothing of it. However if you do not particiapte in it and be complicit of it, you cannot live. The Fundamentalist Christian ideology speaks of the coming Beast and it's number, and how if you do not have it, you vcannot live. Well it is already here. The beast is capitalism and if you don't play by it's rules, then forget about being able to live by any standard. it will make it impossible for you for you to make a living, you will not be able to have a bank account, and don't even think about being granted credit. The beast is only interested in it's own self aggrandisement and power. Greed, power, and complete control of the materrial resources of the world are the only interests of this system. Money has been made into a God, and is worshipped and served. The individual person has become soulless, and nothing more than some some tax number to9 the system. The meaning of the life of an individual is solely based upon their productivity and by how much they are willing to sacrifice to this system. if you oppose it, then you are declared an enemy of the State. If you are a a society in opposition to it, expect to be bombed and militarily forced to accept this way of life, if you are an individual, expect to have your life taken away from you through the means of disenfracisement and the removal of your ability to buy and sell in this society. Our constitution and freedoms are being eroded, and for the 'common man' the ideals once enjoyed have been wiped clean out of existence. This 'common man' can enjoy life as long as they remain true to the machine which they have become a part of.