MAY PEACE PREVAIL ON EARTH
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November 28, 2004
New Democracy Series #1: Exciting And Encouraging Developments
Amidst the heavy material I feel is essential to know in these increasingly difficult times, the following compilation - another new series I'm beginning - should bring a much appreciated breath of fresh air and hope. I was especially thrilled to discover the amazing breakthrough for participatory democracy that occurred in British Columbia (Canada) 10 days ago where a working model for real democracy has been created through well balanced consensus building within a group called Citizens' Assembly on Electoral Reform created by the BC government. This initiative is about to be emulated in Ontario and I would not be surprised to see it quickly spreading all across Canada. I know there is interest for this in Quebec although so far the Liberal government has shown no real interest in changing the current traditional all-power-to-the-electoral-winner system. But things may evolve fast if citizens start talking seriously about having a greater stake in the political process that determines who makes the decision and how they are made.
This week this same Liberal government in Quebec has unveiled a project to shift our province towards sustainable development in a massive way, to enshrine in its key Chart of citizens' rights the right to a safe and clean environment for everyone - actionable in courts - after committing its Hydro-Quebec power energy company to invest massively in wind power and energy conservation (subsidizing the retrofitting of private houses for higher energy efficiency) after years of campaigning by environmental groups with the support of over 90% of the population in Quebec for such bold moves and after also massive protests - even by large nun congregations - against a planned coal-powered electricity generation plant - a project now permanently ditched. And with the formal approval of the Kyoto Treaty of which Canada is a proud signatory, there is now talk of major efforts on the part of every major players (governmental, industrial and private) to shift gears to reduce our global CO2 emissions in Canada, a long overdue process as Canada as a whole - in part because of Alberta's reliance on fossil fuels for power generation - is a heavy per capita CO2 emitting country. Car makers for instance will be forced by law to significantly increase the fuel efficiency of their new cars.
Let us hope all these wise decisions will have a nudging effect south of border where many states are also in the process of ratcheting up their regulatory efforts towards less air pollution despite the abysmal performance of the US federal government in this regard.
It is not every day I can share with you such upbeat news. Please feel free to network it all widely - at least in all 50 countries where people are subscribed to this list - so as to stimulate similar actions, and also feel free to share with me similar goods news on the democratic and environmental fronts for possible inclusion in future compilations ;-)
Earth Rainbow Network Coordinator
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"It's time to give the public what they want ... a system by the people, for the people -- designed by the people, for the values of the people. That system is STV."
- Taken from "WHAT'S HAPPENING IN BRITISH COLUMBIA" below
"Peace is not a relationship of nations. It is a condition of mind brought about by a serenity of soul. Peace is not merely the absence of war. It is also a state of mind. Lasting peace can come only to peaceful people."
- Jawaharial Nehru, Former Prime Minister of India
"One percent of the nation owns a third of the wealth. The rest of the wealth is distributed in such a way as to turn those in the 99 percent against one another: small property owners against the propertyless, black against white, native-born against foreign-born, intellectuals and professionals against the uneducated and unskilled
[which] obscure[s] their common position as sharers of leftovers in a very wealthy country."
- Howard Zinn - Taken from "Enslaved by Greed - New directions and possibilities" below
Overwhelm the Darkness
When there is a negative situation that you cannot change,
focus your thoughts and energy elsewhere.
When there is a pain that will not go away,
overwhelm it with an even greater amount of joy.
It serves no useful purpose to get mired in despair over things you cannot control.
It makes much more sense to do the very best, to achieve the very most,
with those things you do control.
You can choose where to focus your energy and attention.
Focus on those areas where you can have a powerful positive impact.
Yes, it can be easy to get caught up in the negativity of the moment.
Yet it also can be surprisingly easy to shift your focus toward the positive,
productive things you can do.
You are never obligated to be miserable.
If you really want to contribute to life, set your sights on the value you're able to create.
Don't despair over the darkness that is beyond your control.
Instead, shine your own light so brightly that the darkness is overwhelmed.
- Ralph Marston - Taken from Aluna Joy's newsletter email@example.com>
1. CANADIAN CITIZENS DECIDE TO DO THINGS DIFFERENTLY
2. No voting system is perfect
3. Panel of Ontarians to consider revamping of province's electoral system
4. Towards Alternative Cities, the Green-Friendly Way
5. Introduction to Social Artistry & Opening the Door to a New Humanity
6. Enslaved by Greed - New directions and possibilities
Democracy in Question
STOCKHOLM, Nov 18 (IPS) - John Zogby, president of the polling firm Zogby International, told IPS he has been calling it "the Armageddon election" for about a year. Independent presidential candidate Ralph Nader believes the Republican Party was able to "steal it before election day."Facts suggest something went very wrong on Nov. 2. Speculation focuses upon a number of questions -- purposeful miscounts, anomalies surrounding electronic voting (e-voting) machines, particularly the optical scan types; and numerous reports of voting "irregularities" in heavily Democratic areas. "What they 'do' is minorities," Nader said, highlighting the thrust of Republican efforts, "and make sure that there aren't enough voting machines for the minority areas. They have to wait in line ... for hours, and most of them don't. There are all kinds of ways, and that's why I was quoted as saying, "this election was hijacked from A to Z," Nader told IPS. Zogby was concerned about the difference between some of the exit polls (surveys of individuals who have just cast ballots) and the official vote counts. "We're talking about the Free World here," he pointedly noted. CLIP
Time after Time
Time After Time is a symphony of images, an astonishing feat of true artistry, taking the music and the muses of three of the most ancient cultures and weaving them into a film of enormous, moving beauty. Time After Time emerged from three years of passionate work to marry songs, poetry and pictures of sublime landscapes and sites of deep resonance across Ireland, North America and Australia. Recommended by Maireid Sullivan firstname.lastname@example.org> who wrote: "Ben and I are about to release our own "peace offering" in the form of the film we have been working on every day for over two years. It is titled Time after Time, a celebration of the great heritage of ancient Celtic, American and Australian peoples. We have a short (8 min.) preview online at http://www.lyrebirdmedia.com/ --- Please note that the preview clips are twice the speed of the final film, and we have chosen the most iconic images to represent each culture we explore. The "real" pace of the film allows for moments of deep meditation. --- I feel even more strongly than ever that tangible food for the soul is much needed in these chaotic times."
Nature as Model: Biomimicry is a new science that studies nature's models and then imitates or takes inspiration from these designs and processes to solve human problems, e.g., a solar cell inspired by a leaf.
Nature as Mentor: Biomimicry uses an ecological standard to judge the "rightness" of our innovations. After 3.8 billion years of evolution, nature has learned: What works. What is appropriate. What lasts.
Nature as Measure: Biomimicry is a new way of viewing and valuing nature. It introduces an era based not on what we can extract from the natural world, but on what we can learn from it.
A CONVERSATION WITH JANINE BENYUS
What do you mean by the term "biomimicry"? Biomimicry (from bios, meaning life, and mimesis, meaning to imitate) is a new science that studies nature's best ideas and then imitates these designs and processes to solve human problems. Studying a leaf to invent a better solar cell is an example. I think of it as "innovation inspired by nature."The core idea is that nature, imaginative by necessity, has already solved many of the problems we are grappling with. Animals, plants, and microbes are the consummate engineers. They have found what works, what is appropriate, and most important, what lasts here on Earth. This is the real news of biomimicry: After 3.8 billion years of research and development, failures are fossils, and what surrounds us is the secret to survival.Like the viceroy butterfly imitating the monarch, we humans are imitating the best and brightest organisms in our habitat. We are learning, for instance, how to harness energy like a leaf, grow food like a prairie, build ceramics like an abalone, self-medicate like a chimp, compute like a cell, and run a business like a hickory forest. The conscious emulation of life's genius is a survival strategy for the human race, a path to a sustainable future. The more our world looks and functions like the natural world, the more likely we are to endure on this home that is ours, but not ours alone. CLIP
Quebec to exceed 'green plan (November 23, 2004)
'Watchdog for provincial agencies will enforce environmental policy, Mulcair says. Premier Jean Charest's government plans to create a new watchdog that will force all state agencies and departments to promote sustainable development and environmental biodiversity.One day after Charest pushed for more clean energy exports by 2009 to power Quebec's economy, Environment Minister Thomas Mulcair said he would table legislation on Thursday establishing guidelines for every level of government."It's a wider vision," Mulcair said in a phone interview. "This notion of sustainability goes beyond the 'green plan.' "Environmental concerns will be the key element in the policy, but it will also consider economic and social elements, he added.The legislation is modelled after laws in Manitoba, Oregon, Belgium and Luxembourg. But Mulcair said his law will make Quebec a North American leader on environmental policy.Under the law, a commissioner of sustainable development will enforce the policy and ensure each department and agency is following the same regulations, instead of having separate policies."It's a generation change," Mulcair said. "It wasn't so much that we were lacking laws ... the major problem was enforcement." CLIP
Liberals unveil garbage tax (Nov 25 2004)
QUEBEC CITY - The Quebec government has introduced a long-term environmental protection plan to set new standards and collect money for a "green fund." 'We're putting a tax on all the waste that goes into a landfill site'environment minister Environment Minister Thomas Mulcair says he has high hopes for the new Sustainable Development Act."We're putting a tax on packaging, no more no less. We're putting a tax on all the waste that goes into a landfill site," he says. Those new garbage taxes will go into a "green fund" that environmental groups will be allowed to dip into to pay for projects.The legislation also calls on every government department to lay out new benchmarks for environmental protection.Mulcair says every activity will be subject to tougher standards including: farming, mining, and hydroelectric development. "We're becoming the leaders in North America with regards to sustainable development," Mulcair said Thursday. CLIP
Galileo of our Time - In Memory of Dr. Eugene Mallove (May 17, 2004)
We are heading towards almost certain global ecological disaster through unsustainable energy practices. Our addiction to oil, coal, natural gas and uranium has killed hundreds of millions of us and untold species from foul air, water and earth and accelerating global climate change. It has created wars, obscene profits and false economies that could do us all in. For all their promise, solar, wind, hydrogen, bio fuels and other conventional renewables have limited potential to replace the fossil fuel economy. They can consume a lot of land, materials and capital. Moreover, wind and solar power cannot operate under all weather conditions. The tragedy of all this is that elegant solutions may soon exist with further research and development: vacuum (aka. space or zero-point) energy, cold fusion and advanced hydrogen chemistry. Since the time of Tesla, the powers-that-be have so effectively suppressed the research of hundreds of unsung inventors whose technologies promise a quantum leap that could catapult our economy and environment into a clean, safe and sustainable 21st Century. Nobody knew and expressed this potential better than Dr. Eugene Mallove--scientist, journalist, educator, visionary, humanitarian, friend. On May 14, he was mysteriously murdered during an apparent robbery in the home of his parents. He was in the prime of his career at age 56. CLIP
Many more important articles at http://www.newenergymovement.org/articles.htm
Check also the New Energy Movement website at http://www.newenergymovement.org
NOTE FROM JEAN: In relation to item #3 "Area 51 Complex as integrated Galactic Spaceport" archived at http://www.earthrainbownetwork.com/Archives2004/AddendumFocus120.htm I feel the following is worth considering...
Exopolitical Comment # 22 - Charles Hall, The Tall Whites and Richard Boylan (Nov 27) http://www.exopolitics.org/Exo-Comment-22.htm
(...) My overall conclusion is the same with all the extraterrestrial races who have struck agreements with the US government and established a presence on Earth in exchange for extraterrestrial technology, and working in joint projects. They should be very closely watched and frankly regarded with much suspicion in terms of their motivations for participating in such agreements. Now given the disturbing behavior of the Tall Whites as Hall describes them, frankly I'm appalled that a researcher such as Boylan would consider such a race as exemplary - Star Visitors which we should befriend, as he is currently advocating. As I've described in my Report on extraterrestrial motivations, there are many other extraterrestrial races who are more honorable and display much more elevated qualities. Reading the `contactee' reports of these extraterrestrials Pleiadians, Andromedans, Lyrans, etc., doesn't leave one with feelings of distrust and apprehension. On the contrary one often feels a great degree of love and joy, coming through. For example, I recall reading George Adamski's discussion of the 'Venusians' and how they would rather give their lives when cornered rather than inflict injuries on other sentient life forms (http://www.universe-people.com/adamsk_e.htm). It sounds very Christ-like, and while I don't personally agree that such an attitude is very practical, it does have an emotional impact to know that some ETs actually practice elevated ethics that most would consider Christlike. The contrast with the 'Tall Whites' Hall describes couldn't be greater. CLIP
Strange Things on the Moon
Several anomalous shapes and structures on the lunar surface have been photographed. What could they be?
Europe reaches the Moon (16 November 2004) http://www.esa.int/esaCP/SEM2S8WJD1E_index_0.html
(...) The main purpose of the first part of the SMART-1 mission, concluding with the arrival at the Moon, was to demonstrate new spacecraft technologies. In particular, the solar-electric propulsion system was tested over a long spiralling trip to the Moon of more than 84 million kilometres. This is a distance comparable to an interplanetary cruise. For the first time ever, gravity-assist manoeuvres, which use the gravitational pull of the approaching Moon, were performed by an electrically propelled spacecraft. The success of this test is important to the prospects for future interplanetary missions using ion engines.
Latest picture of Titan (Saturn's satellite) taken by the Cassini probe
Explanations at http://www.spacedaily.com/news/cassini-04zzzzk.html
See also Tethys
Forwarded by Ed Elkin EdElkin@aol.com>
From: NHNE email@example.com>
Date: 19 Nov 2004
Subject: Citizen Deliberative Councils In Canada
CANADIAN CITIZENS DECIDE TO DO THINGS DIFFERENTLY
From Tom Atlee
The Co-Intelligence Institute
November 18, 2004
Something remarkable is happening in Canada. Government leaders are sponsoring citizen deliberative councils - http://co-intelligence.org/CDCUsesAndPotency.html - with real power.
In 2003 the government of British Columbia convened a Citizens' Assembly on
Electoral Reform - http://www.citizensassembly.bc.ca . Premier Gordon Campbell promised to do this in 2001 before he was elected, and then he actually did it.
This Assembly was formed with 160 randomly selected citizens charged with reviewing existing and innovative voting systems. After ten months of study, reviewing hundreds of written submissions, holding public hearings, hearing from experts, and deliberating together, they finally announced their recommendations in October 2004 (see the newsletter below). It is quite clear these citizens really love the new system they've designed. It's a combination of instant runoff voting and proportional representation (see notes below) which they have customized for their province and named BC-STV, short for British Columbia Single Transferable Vote. 146 of them voted in favor of it. Only 7 voted no.
Before they launched this remarkable democratic exercise, the government pledged to submit their recommendations (whatever they were) as a referendum to the voters in May 2005. Now, if that referendum passes, the government has further pledged to push through legislation that organizes the province's electoral system to use the new voting method in the 2009 elections.
The Citizens Assembly meetings have been public and shown on TV. There have been regular news releases and postings on their website, which includes history of the Assembly, FAQs, the materials they reviewed and more -- all made very public at http://www.citizensassembly.bc.ca/sitemap
I think this is worth stopping and thinking about for a minute. It is actually VERY unusual.
We have a randomly selected group of citizens studying, deliberating and recommending what to do about a controversial issue. We have the voters being given a chance to vote on those citizen-based recommendations. If the voters like what their fellow citizens have come up with, we have the government legislating it all into law. And then we have those citizen-generated laws going into effect in the real world.
Where else have you heard of such a thing?
This is more direct than most representative democracy. And it is more deeply deliberative than most direct democracy (such as ordinary ballot initiatives). It is more open and corruption-free than most government, in general.
The idea seems to be so popular that the government of Ontario -- the province that is home to both Toronto and Canada's capital city Ottawa -- has decided to do the same thing. Ontario's premier Dalton McGuinty has just announced that HIS government will also convene a Citizens Assembly on voting methods in HIS province http://www.premier.gov.on.ca/english/news/ElectoralReform111804.asp
While British Columbians can be proud that Ontario is imitating them, they should not rest on their laurels. Ontario has been doing some innovating of its own. In particular, Ontario is using Citizens Juries -- http://www.jefferson-center.org -- another form of citizen deliberative council -- to make recommendations on how to fund political campaigns so that money has less influence on politics -- http://www.attorneygeneral.jus.gov.on.ca/english/drs/about -- and to deal with their provincial budget -- http://www.oacas.org/Whatsnew/newsstories/04/jan/8advice.pdf
Where will all this end? What will official randomly selected councils of citizen deliberators be recommending next?
I wonder if something like this might work in other countries. Like the U.S....
I wonder if something like this would be useful with other issues... (you name it!)...
I wonder if we could create a new kind of politics and governance around this kind of thing, politics and governance that were less adversarial and more thoughtful and creative than what most of us live with...
INSTANT RUNOFF VOTING AND PROPORTIONAL REPRESENTATION
Instant Runoff Voting (IRV) -- http://www.fairvote.org/irv/index.html -- allows voters to rank competing candidates according to their preference (1st, 2nd, 3rd choices, etc.), instead of having to vote for just one. Then, if no candidate receives a majority of "1st choice" votes, voting officials add in the voters' second (and, if necessary, third) preferences until one candidate gets a majority (that's the "instant runoff" part). Different IRV systems handle the secondary preferences differently. BC's version is described at -- http://www.citizensassembly.bc.ca/public/extra/STV_Resources.xml -- including an Australian animated cartoon at http://www.seo.sa.gov.au/apps/news/?sectionIDA . One of the advantages of IRV is that third party candidates have a chance to have a strong showing. For example, if everyone in the US 2000 election had been able to vote for both Bush AND Ralph Nader, or Gore AND Ralph Nader, Ralph Nader's true popularity would have been more visible. As it was, being able to vote for only one candidate, most voters who supported Nader decided not to "waste their votes" and voted for the mainstream candidates, Bush and Gore. Nader got only a tiny percentage of the votes even though many more people supported him.
Proportional Representation -- http://www.fairvote.org/pr -- gives parties representation in the legislature in proportion to their popularity. Instead of winner-take-all elections for legislative districts, any candidate or party in a state/province or district who gets a certain percentage of the vote (say 5% or 10%) qualifies for office. This produces legislatures that better represent the variety of perspectives that exist in the community, state or country. Switching from a winner-take-all system to proportional representation usually requires redistricting to create districts large enough to embrace many seats in the legislature. One of the few downsides to proportional representation is that with the usual two major parties and many smaller ones, extremely small parties can wield tremendous influence, as the bigger parties court them in search of majorities. (Proportional representation is the way most democracies in the world operate; so it is only innovative in the US and a few other countries.)
The British Columbia STV system combines these so that there is an instant run-off election for all the seats in a district. Voters 1st choices, 2nd choices, 3rd choices, etc., are tabulated in a special way until all the seats for that district are filled with the most supported candidates. Some people complain that that "special way" is complicated. It is, a bit, but far less complicated than hundreds of other government processes that citizens know little about and had no role in designing. In fact, the BC-STV system, if you take the time to understand it by reading the materials and watching the cartoon, makes a lot of sense. There is a logic to how the votes are distributed among the candidates. And if you don't want to take the time to study it, you can just think about what it means that 160 of your fellow citizens -- ordinary people, chosen at random, with no partisan ax to grind -- studied this issue for months, looking at all the options -- after which 92% of them decided this system would be the best one. Think about it: Isn't this a good way for We the People -- as a whole (rather than just partisans) -- to come up with recommendations that all of us should be able to trust on a complex issue most citizens just don't have the time to study thoroughly?
WHAT'S HAPPENING IN BRITISH COLUMBIA
NOTE: For non-Canadians, here are a few brief definitions you'll need: MLAs are Members of the Legislative Assembly, the provincial legislature in Canada. A riding is a provincial legislative or electoral district. BC is British Columbia, the western-most province of Canada.
CITIZENS' ASSEMBLY NEWSLETTER, OCTOBER 26, 2004 sent by firstname.lastname@example.org>
ASSEMBLY REACHES DECISION
The Citizens' Assembly on Electoral Reform recommended Sunday that British Columbians adopt a new voting system -- the Single Transferable Vote system that's often called "as easy as 1, 2, 3."
Now the decision is up to the voters of BC, who will cast ballots on STV in a referendum in the next provincial election, on May 17, 2005.
After almost 10 months of study, research and debate, plus 50 public hearings and 1,603 written submissions from the public, Assembly Members on Sunday overwhelmingly chose a made-in-BC proportional STV system as their recommendation to the people.
First, the Assembly voted on whether they thought the current electoral system, often known as First Past the Post, should be retained. The vote was: 142 No, 11 Yes.
Then they voted on whether the STV model they designed should be proposed to the people. The vote: 146 Yes, 7 No.
The provincial government says that if voters approve the STV model in May, it will introduce legislation so the new system can go into effect for the 2009 election.
The STV model was custom-built by members to meet the needs of BC and to address three over-riding values: local representation, voter choice, and increased "proportionality" -- the concept that each party's share of seats in the house should reflect its share of the popular vote.
"We have heard from the public," said one member on Sunday. "It's time to give the public what they want ... a system by the people, for the people -- designed by the people, for the values of the people. That system is STV."
One Assembly member called STV "the voter choice system". Another called it "the people's voice system", and added: "It can produce majority governments, or minorities and coalitions. Whatever it produces, it expresses the wishes of the voters all across BC."
The current First Past the Post system (technically called the Single Member Plurality system, or SMP) was described by members as a familiar and understandable model that has served BC well, produced stable majority governments, and elected local MLAs who could represent local issues and concerns.
Said one member: "Under First Past the Post, we elect the government. We elect a majority, and it gives the government the strength to form policy and carry it out.
Another member replied: "The people of BC are far more sophisticated than they were 100 years ago... STV as an electoral system, for me, is part of a natural evolution. ... Accountability has been a huge issue brought to the Assembly (by the public). Throwing out governments on a regular basis (under FPTP), with the massive costs due to their policy changes, is a poor form of accountability."
Added another, "I want to give to the voters of BC the same privilege that we have been given as members of the Assembly, and that is to decide their electoral system for themselves."
On Saturday, members turned down as an alternative to STV a Mixed Member Proportional (MMP) model that they had designed. The vote was 123 to 31 in favour of STV as the best alternative to First Past the Post.
Debate in the Assembly on Saturday centered on the members' stated priorities of local representation, proportional representation and voter choice.
Members' comments included:
"It comes down to democracy to me. . . Elections to me are about somebody who is representing me and my interests. I haven't yet found a party that really represents me and what I believe in. I see STV as allowing me to vote for a candidate who most closely represents what I like and what issues I would like brought forward."
Added another member: "And the person is accountable to us and not to the party."
Several members stressed before the vote that they would support whatever system the Assembly finally recommends. As member Sam Todd of Burnaby put it: "It's chocolate cake and strawberry shortcake, so whichever way we go we win. It's win-win."
STV: AS EASY AS 1, 2, 3
The voter using STV would see two key changes from the current system:
First, instead of writing on the ballot a single "X" for a single candidate, the voter would be able to rank candidates (1, 2, 3, and so on) according to the voter's personal preferences.
The voter would be able to mark preferences for as many or as few candidates on the ballot as the voter wishes. The voter thus can cast preferential votes for candidates of more than one party, for independents and minorities, or all for the same party. After the polls close, the counting system gives the proper weighting to the "1, 2, 3, etc." preferences expressed by the voters, ensuring that the candidates with the highest preferences are elected.
Second, BC's constituencies would no longer be single-MLA electoral districts as now. There would be geographically larger ridings, each with more than one MLA. The legislature would remain at 79 seats, though, so the ratio of MLAs to population would be unchanged.
The Assembly's model would allow the size of electoral districts and the number of MLAs elected per district to vary across the province to reflect local and regional conditions. In sparsely populated areas, districts could comprise 2-3 MLAs and, in denser urban districts as many as five, six or even seven MLAs. (BC in the past, under the current system, has had some electoral districts with more than one MLA.)
Districts with two MLAs, such as those anticipated in northern BC under STV, would still be smaller than federal electoral districts. STV would not result in any reduction in the number of MLAs representing rural areas.
STV in various formats is used in Ireland, Malta, Tasmania, the Australian Capital Territory and a number of municipalities. Ireland has had STV for almost a century. Despite attempts by government to kill STV, the Irish have repeatedly voted to keep it.
The Assembly members next meet November 13 - 14 to begin work on their report to the public, to draft a referendum question, and, if necessary, to fine-tune their STV model before they pass it on to the public.
Their final meeting will be November 27-28. Their Final Report is due December 15 and the Assembly and its staff disband December 31.
Assembly meetings are held at the Wosk Centre for Dialogue, 580 West Hastings St., Vancouver. All plenary sessions are open to the public. Saturday meetings usually run from 8:30am to 5pm with breaks. Sunday sessions are usually held from 8:30am to 12:30pm.
WHERE TO GET MORE INFORMATION
More information on the Assembly and STV can be found on the Assembly's website http://www.citizensassembly.bc.ca -- Additional resources are being developed and will be available shortly.
On the website, you can find:
- A link on our home page to a list of STV resources
- Video and audio recordings of all Assembly plenary sessions
- Documents provided to Assembly members
- Information on a variety of electoral systems, with links and recommended reading
- Over 1600 submissions to the Assembly
- Summary records from 50 public hearings.
In addition, you can obtain information -- such as fact sheets -- from the Assembly's office. Just call us at 1-866-667-1232.
Hansard TV is broadcasting Assembly plenary sessions. These broadcasts will take place on Saturdays and Sundays, starting at 9am. This is the schedule:
On Saturday October 30 and Sunday October 31, the Assembly's October 23-24 sessions will be broadcast.
On Saturday November 20 and Sunday November 21, our November 13-14 sessions will be broadcast.
On Saturday December 4 and Sunday December 5, the Assembly's November 27-28 sessions will be aired.
Future broadcast dates are also being considered.
The Assembly just announced its first resignation: Paola Barakat of Richmond. She resigned her membership for personal reasons, leaves the Assembly's membership at 159, plus chair Jack Blaney, for a total of 160.
SUBSCRIBE / UNSUBSCRIBE
Do you know of others who might like to follow the Assembly by signing up for this newsletter? They can go to http://www.citizensassembly.bc.ca , select News & Events, then CA Newsletter -- or call 1-866-667-1232. You can unsubscribe in the same ways.
Citizens' Assembly on Electoral Reform
(604) 660-1232 or 1-866-667-1232
Fax: (604) 660-1236
2288 - 555 W. Hastings, Vancouver, BC V6B 4N6
17th November, 2004 : Vancouver (Internal)
No voting system is perfect
[An editorial in the Victoria News, 17 November 2004]
Since the Citizens' Assembly on Electoral Reform went to a lot of trouble devising a new voting system for the province, we're prepared to give it a shot and see what happens.
We're skeptical, though, that the system will be a net improvement on the first-past-the-post system. Any system has its flaws and the single-transferrable vote model is no exception.
The most notable prospect is that the STV system will result in more diverse representation in the legislature. That will also mean minority governments -which B.C. hasn't experienced for decades - are far more likely. That's not such a bad thing - although minorities tend to last about half as long, or less, as majority governments.
A shorter term in office gives a government less time to implement complex programs, let alone see them through. Compromise can be good, but oft times a decisive plan is better than a watered-down one.
The Liberals went to the trouble of fixing election dates every four years. The STV system puts that timetable in jeopardy by increasing the likelihood that a minority government will fall thus requiring a mid-term election.
The benefit to having more elections is that it will give voters' practice in learning how the complicated system works. Of course, it could also lead to even more voter fatigue. If voter participation is a problem, it's hard to see how a more complicated election system will entice more people into the ballot booths.
Nevertheless, such a system has reportedly worked well in Ireland for nearly a century.
Another flaw with the STV system is it assumes voters will rank their choices honestly. A voter whose first choice is candidate A may honestly believe candidate B would be a good second choice, but will opt for the longshot candidate C as choice No. 2 so as not to give any points to A's toughest rival.
A better system is one typically employed by political parties to choose their leaders. In such a scenario, the bottom candidate is left off after each succeeding ballot until one candidate emerges with a majority of the votes. The only time there's a problem with that is when a candidate's supporters don't stick around for all the ballots - as occurred during the nomination for the Conservative Party candidate in Esquimalt-Juan de Fuca before the last federal election.
If it's good enough for choosing party leaders, it should be good enough for choosing our elected representatives. Unfortunately, it often takes three or four ballots to reach a decision. General elections are cumbersome and time-consuming enough without requiring voters to keep coming back to the polling stations.
Out of necessity, the STV emerges as a compromise on that system. It's still not perfect. Only time will tell -if it's even implemented -whether it's a better voter system on balance than the one it replaces.
Panel of Ontarians to consider revamping of province's electoral system
November 18, 2004
TORONTO (CP) - The Ontario government is turning to its citizens to reinvigorate the electoral process.
Premier Dalton McGuinty announced Wednesday that an assembly of randomly selected people will examine the current voting system, and propose changes that could take effect as soon as the next provincial election in 2007. "As a citizen I'm concerned - like you - that respect for our democratic institutions has declined," McGuinty told a crowd of more than 150 people gathered for a day-long seminar on democracy.
"That our young people are less and less interested in engaging with our democracy and our community. That many of us no longer feel our participation really matters."
The heart of a series of democratic reforms to be brought in over the next three years will be an assembly of citizens gathered from across Ontario, McGuinty said.
They will review the current first-past-the-post system, in which voters in each riding choose a member of the legislature, and the party winning the most ridings forms the government.
The alternatives include some form of proportional representation, preferential ballots or mixed systems.
"Ontarians should have the opportunity to re-examine the election system we have inherited and determine whether they are satisfied with it, or wish to exchange it for another," McGuinty said.
Any proposed changes would be put to a referendum. The Liberal government will begin the process of creating the assembly this winter.
Depending on how long the consultations take and when the referendum is held, McGuinty said changes could be enacted by the next time Ontarians elect a new government in 2007.
Some say the current voting system is unfair because the number of seats a party wins often does not reflect the number of votes a party has received across the province.
For example, the New Democrats won seven of the 103 seats in last year's provincial election - just under seven per cent - despite getting about 15 per cent of the votes cast.
British Columbia plans to hold a referendum during next May's provincial elections to let residents decide if they want to change their electoral system to a single transferable-vote ballot.
Under that system, voters would have one vote but would rank candidates by preference.
The Canadian Press, 2004
SUSTAINABLE LIVING ON THIS PLANET IS ALSO A MOST IMPORTANT CONCERN WHICH IS ADDRESSED IN THE FOLLOWING PIONEERING INITIATIVE
Towards Alternative Cities, the Green-Friendly Way
by Marwaan Macan-Markar
November 20, 2004
BANGKOK - Alarmed by the pace at which consumer-driven lifestyles are destroying the planet's resources, a leading environmental body has set its sights on creating a green-friendly haven replete with houses, restaurants, shops and hotels.
Portugal will serve as the launching pad for these planned ''eco-cities,'' said officials from the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) as they revealed the blueprint for the 'One Planet Living' initiative here Wednesday, at a major conservation conference.
The 4,340 hectares of land south of the Portuguese capital Lisbon, identified for this first phase in an ambitious global drive towards alternative living, will have by its completion 6,000 houses, apartments, shops and hotels. The estimated cost, according to the WWF, will be over one billion euros (1.3 billion U.S. dollars).
''We aim to build a series of flagship communities for people to live sustainably, and which are affordable and comfortable,'' Eduardo Goncalves, coordinator of the 'One Planet Living' initiative (http://www.panda.org/policy/one-planet-living/), said during a meeting at the 3rd World Conservation Congress, in the Thai capital, organized by the World Conservation Union or IUCN.
''The quality of modern life will not be sacrificed in these communities,'' added Claude Martin, director general of WWF. ''They will be family friendly.''
The global congress has brought together 81 states, 114 government agencies, 800 plus non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and some 10,000 scientists and experts from 181 countries. It has been billed as the one of biggest environmental meetings in history.
While the push for such green-friendly living has given rise to new models of architecture over the past two decades, what sets this new initiative apart from its predecessors is the scale at which the planned communities will embrace environmental values.
''The purpose is to integrate many different aspects of life into a housing concept, including the use of building material, energy, food, transport,'' Martin told IPS. ''It will be more holistic than the energy houses that had solar panels in the 1980s.''
That is reflected in the picture painted by Pelicano S.A, a Portuguese property developer that is a key partner in this WWF program. It covers the commitment to use sustainable materials, reduce carbon and waste output, promote renewable energy and, among others, to turn to local resources for food.
With regard to the use of sustainable materials, the pioneer project in Portugal aims to use more than 50 percent of it, such as cement, to construct the buildings in addition to eliminating more than 90 percent of toxic materials for the planned structures.
To cut down on carbon emissions, the property developer pledges to ensure that 25 percent of the waste is recycled. And to ensure energy efficiency, the future community will move away from fossil fuels to having ''photovoltaics in its architectural design, including solar thermals, small-scale biomass heating and water ponds for a space cooled system.''
A British environmental group BioRegional is being credited for laying the foundations for this novel way of living. It pioneered the ''BedZed'' community in south London, where houses, for instance, were built to meet new environment-friendly standards, including the complete use of renewable energy for power and heating.
In addition to Portugal, other areas in Europe, Australia, Britain, the United States and South Africa have been identified to create these communities as part of the pioneering effort.
''Even the authorities in China are interested in building a 'One Planet Living' community,'' Goncalves told IPS. ''The details are to be decided but we are talking of a city in effect.''
Once the first phase is achieved, WWF will launch the broader and more global second phase by 2007, SAID Goncalves. ''In phase two, we hope to get countries in Asia, Africa, Eastern Europe and Latin America interested.''
Such communities will be pivotal to ''undo the damage we have done to the planet,'' he added. ''We need to find solutions to avoid the crisis emerging from the current unsustainable lifestyles.''
The revolution in living that the WWF hopes to unleash through this plan stems from the disturbing reports it has compiled of the earth's resources being destroyed by the modern style of life.
In its 'Living Planet Report 2004,' released weeks ahead of the Bangkok conference, WWF revealed that humanity's demand on the resources had exceeded the earth's supply capacity since the mid-1980s, with North America and Europe leading the assault on the planet's limited resources.
The average U.S. citizen requires 10 hectares of the planet to support his or her lifestyle, while the average European requires over five hectares, the report noted. By contrast, the average citizen in Africa draws on about one hectare of the earth's resources to live.
The differences in these ecological footprints - which are caused by high consumption patterns in the developed world - are starker when seen in another light. According to the report, the average footprint of a person today is nearly 2.2 hectares, which is in excess of the 1.8 hectares of land for natural resources available for each resident of the planet.
At this rate, ''we need 1.2 planets to sustain our collective lifestyles,'' said Marten. ''Sustainable housing is one response to it, but you cannot have one blueprint for the whole world. We must work with local communities, local architects.''
One Planet Living Communities http://www.panda.org/about_wwf/what_we_do/policy/sustainability/opl-communities.cfm
Sustainable living is both feasible and attractive - One Planet Living (OPL) will develop new zero carbon and zero waste One Planet Living Communities.
Review the WWF's Living Planet Report
More details at http://www.panda.org/about_wwf/what_we_do/policy/sustainability/index.cfm
A USEFUL RESOURCE FOR CO-CREATING A NEW EARTH...
Excerpts from Kosmos Journal
Introduction to Social Artistry & Opening the Door to a New Humanity
Forwarded by Rudolf Schneider email@example.com> on Nov 21, 2004
From: Nancy Roof firstname.lastname@example.org>
This is to let you know about the publication of the current issue of Kosmos. We hope that you will choose to subscribe as we depend on subscriptions to continue this important work which is distributed to all Ambassadors at the United Nations, and key influential persons in the international and spiritual communities. Please pass this announcement on to your e-mail lists to help us get the word out. Many thanks to all. Nancy
Announcing an Evocative New Issue of Kosmos
To Kosmos Online Subscribers,
What a privilege to be alive today and to become aware of who we are and why we were born at this particular point in history. Many of us now identify ourselves as planetary citizens - and we want to play a role in how our planetary culture unfolds. Kosmos has hit the post office and should be received by all subscribers in less than two weeks. We hope it will stir the mind and emotions towards finding meaning and fulfilling purpose in building a global culture and civilization for the benefit of all life.
Jean Houston is featured with a story about the kind of dynamic/contemplative leadership necessary for our times. She calls it Social Artistry. Her spontaneous creativity is now being witnessed throughout the world as a result of her recent affiliation with the United Nations Development Program.
Subhankar Banerjee spent two years in subzero weather in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to bring into our lives the stunning beauty and precious purity of untouched nature. Threatened by prospects of oil drilling, those who revere nature might find themselves moved to action by his photographic journey.
Richard Falk, our international legal expert, tells us why international law is crucial in a globalized world as the Geneva Conventions come into question. New methods of conducting business to build trust along with profits is addressed by Frank Dixon.
The role of beauty and culture in breaking down separative boundaries is featured, with articles by John ODonohue along with photos which stir our inner lives. Several conferences are presented that are helping build our global civilization books, films more color and images and more
We invite you to visit our updated website: http://www.kosmosjournal.org where you will find an automated store to subscribe through credit card or checks. You can now easily purchase back issues and donate to the Kosmos mission. The All Issues section contains summaries of each back issue and stunning photos from our gallery. New navigation directs you to selected articles and introduces you to our outstanding contributors.
Please come join other planetary citizens in subscribing to Kosmos. Since we do not include any advertising or have newsstand circulation we depend on our readers for support.
Currently the direction of our global future is being left to chance and to opportunists.
Is there anything more needed today than a group of informed and compassionate people from across the planet to take responsibility for building a sustainable global culture and civilization we can be proud of?
Nancy Roof, Editor
Abdul Aziz Said
Please use the following web address to subscribe, unsubscribe or change your email address. To change your email address, first unsubscribe the old address, then subscribe with the new one.
Nancy Roof, Editor
PO Box 2102
Lenox, MA 01240
(formerly Spirituality & Reality)
NOTE FROM JEAN: I checked the website of this MOST interesting magazine and gathered the following excerpts for your consideration. Both Jean Houston and Janis Roze (featured in the 2 excerpts below) are long-time ERN subscribers.
Note: This is an excerpt from the article. The complete article is available in the Fall/Winter 2004 issue.
Introduction to Social Artistry
Let us explore the nature and development of our call to service in ways that link inner and outer realities, universal plans and passionate commitment. Let us ask what to do, where to go, how to take initiative and how to understand our role as leader and social artist in this most compelling moment of human history. Let us reflect on the need for a new kind of leader, a social artist who is also artful of the ways of the inner landscape.
Too many of the problems in societies today stem from leadership that is ill prepared to deal with the chaos and complexity of todays world where too much is happening too quickly. This is not just a matter of inadequate training in the realities of global change, but even more tragically, a lack of human resourcefulness, leaders living out of a field of awareness that is both limited and limiting in their abilities to deal with the world as it is today. Worldwide, societies are crying for assistance in the transformation of their citizens, organizations, and institutions. But sadly leaders who can rise to the challenge are hampered by training that leaves the greatest of the students natural resources unexplored and insufficient. The leader, like most of society, emerges as a highly compromised version of what he or she could be. And the state of the world reflects this in a most dangerous way.
The density and intimacy of the global village and the staggering consequences of our new knowledge and technologies make us directors of a world that has, up to now, mostly directed us. What is alarming is the absence of social artists (i.e., skilled facilitators, entrepreneurs and leaders) to advise and lead the shift to new values and practices. The usual formulas and stopgap solutions born of an earlier era will not help us.
Let us consider then the art and science of transformation leadership, leadership that is one of the mysteries of the human as he or she lives a life of alignment, refinement and contact to the divine purposes and patterns of evolutionary possibilities. This is the art of world making, spirit catching, mind growing, soul quaking leadership.
Today, community participation and the empowering of grass roots development are essential to transforming the quality of life in societies everywhere. It is through work at these local levels that hope is generated for new and effective ways of shared governance. As Kofi A. Annan has said, Good governance is perhaps the single most important factor in eradicating poverty and promoting development. It has been my experience that working in Social Artistry at both local and individual levels lays the foundation for good governance.
Related info: Jean Houston Bio
Opening the Door to a New Humanity
By Janis Roze
Over six billion different worldviews are walking on our earth. Every individual I-universe has one. Together we create and carry the vibrating, advancing, struggling humanitys creation a moving, changing noosphere. The noosphere, a term popularized by Jesuit philosopher, Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, is described as the sphere around the earth produced by the human mind, emotions, ambitions, hopes and dreams. Let us remember that our individual mind, emotions, ambitions, hopes and dreams are an integral part of this human masterpiece. In that enterprise we all are coworkers. Many of us, however, are perplexed and wondering what kind of noosphere we are creating. Is it global society or global confusion? In these days of crises, violence and uncertainties we may ask again an old question, Quo vadis, Homo sapiens, Where are we as humanity going? And we may also ask, Where am I going as an individual?
Lets leave aside for a moment all the magnificent complications of philosophies, ideologies, sciences, religions, traditions and ways of life. Lets accept them as rich fruit to nourish human consciousness. All of us, rich or poor, famous or not, powerful or powerless, educated or not, thinkers or doers, seekers or not seekers, believers or atheists, spiritualists or materialists are constructing our individual lives. In the ongoing effort of building our personal empires with a sense that we will live forever, we discover that we are an essential ingredient in the evolution of the cosmically unique human world. What an opportunity and responsibility!
Viewing the world situation, some signs suggest that we are gradually becoming insensitive, mechanized and dehumanized leading to a global catastrophe. Some other signs suggest that precisely due to this world crisis we are in process of opening the door to a New Humanity. Some see it and work for it with enthusiasm, intensity and love, some are reluctant, while many go around confused; but we all are marching together toward the New Humanity.
In addition to the external effort to better the human condition, the search for the door to the New Humanity is leading us inside, deep into our individual being where the essential human is woven into the authentic human. In special moments, out of the spiritual depth of every individual, the urge to recognize and express the authentic human bubbles up to the surface.
The present world condition calls for the mobilization of the essential human to meet the global crisis we face. Two examples illustrate the effort toward the New Humanity: one on human relationships, the other on humanitys relationship to nature.
CLIP - Read the rest at http://www.kosmosjournal.org/kjo/articles/articlessub2/opening-the-door-to-a-new.shtml
This article was written before the recent US election by another longtime ERN subscriber. There are numerous gems and crystal-clear thoughts in it which I warmly recommend to you. Make sure to pay close attention to the 7 options she suggests. Brilliant and concise!
From: "Suzanne Phillips" email@example.com>
Subject: Enslaved by Greed - New directions and possibilities
Date: 25 Nov 2004
Blessings on you for helping us keep hope alive in these challenging times. Perhaps the attached article will point to new directions and possibilities.
Love and laughter,
Enslaved by Greed
By Suzanne D. Phillips, M.A.
Many people in the U.S. and the world hope that significant changes will occur when Bush and his cronies are voted out of office. True, some policies may be modified to be less damaging of our planet and its myriad life forms, but new leaders alone wont do it.
Until we dismantle the capitalist economic system we will be driven by its dictates for capitalist ideology has a firm hold on our society. Not only the elite but those in lower economic classes aspire to more wealth thinking that will relieve their misery. We are all to some extent enslaved by greed and responsible for maintaining a culture destructive of life.
The change we need is to an economic system that is user friendly. We must thoroughly understand that capitalism and the exploitation it fosters is the major cause of societal problems, injustice and war. The goal and purpose of capitalism is to make a profit. Kindness is not a part of its function.
How did clans people working for the common good get divided into economic classes subservient to each other? Perhaps as Rousseau suggested when an ancient ancestor drew a circle around the land on which he was standing and said, This is mine.
The poverty and misery of todays average working man and his family are not much different than that described by English novelist Robert Tressell in The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists (1) (1914). Paid low wages to begin with, workers are constantly hassled to speed up production, denied decent health and retirement benefits, discouraged from unionized activities for better working conditions, fired under the slightest provocation to make way for someone willing to work for less, mis-educated to have low self-esteem and believe that one shouldnt question the status quo all to make more profit for owners.
Says Tressell, The present system compels selfishness. One must either trample on others or be trampled upon oneself.
the present system has made the earth into a sort of hell. How? Because accumulated wealth gives power to make decisions of social relationships in the hands of the rich, i.e., who will have a comfortable life and who will live in struggle and misery.
The underpinning of capitalism
Tressell pointed out that the wealth of our society is created by workers as they turn natural resources into usable goods. Their involuntary philanthropy comes from surplus value - the difference between what workers collect in wages and the price owners of the means of production get when selling the item.
As economic relations evolved from tribal exchange to more central workshops, production over and above the needs of subsistence living gave rise to private ownership. On an ever-increasing scale, people were separated into workers and owners. These social relations of production determined who profits from the fruits of labor.
We need to grasp deeply the truth that wealth of the possessing classes throughout history has come from the unpaid labor of their workers. This applies to slave-owners and their slaves, feudal lords and their serfs, capitalists and their wage-laborers, both blue collar and white collar.
Why dont the middle class and workers rise up in furious indignation at the theft of their labor and livelihood? Is it because we, too, think in terms of material gain rather than forming a society that works for the greater good of all?
Historian Howard Zinn in The Peoples History of the United States (2) pointed out in 1980 that The American system is the most ingenious system of control in world history.
It is a country so powerful, so big, so pleasing to so many of its citizens that it can afford to give freedom of dissent to the small number who are not pleased.
There is no system of control with more openings, apertures, leeways, flexibilities, rewards for the chosen, winning tickets in lotteries. There is none that disperses its controls more complexly through the voting system, the work situation, the church, the family, the school, the mass media none more successful in mollifying opposition with reforms. Isolating people from one another, creating patriotic loyalty.
Zinn continues. One percent of the nation owns a third of the wealth. The rest of the wealth is distributed in such a way as to turn those in the 99 percent against one another: small property owners against the propertyless, black against white, native-born against foreign-born, intellectuals and professionals against the uneducated and unskilled
[which] obscure[s] their common position as sharers of leftovers in a very wealthy country.
The pretense continued over the generations, helped by all-embracing symbols, physical or verbal: the flag, patriotism, democracy, national interest, national defense, national security.
[T]he Establishment cannot survive without the obedience and loyalty of millions of people who are given small rewards to keep the system going: the soldiers and police, teachers and ministers, administrators and social workers, technicians and production workers, garbagemen and firemen. These people the employed, the somewhat privileged are drawn into alliance with the elite. They become the guards of the system, buffers between the upper and lower classes. If they stop obeying, the system falls.
Worshipping the False God of Profit
Private ownership of the means of production has spawned the growth of gigantic corporations. The rights theyve been given enable them to flout moral and ethical principles in pursuit of profit and freely exploit the earth and its people.
In his recent article A Call for Action (3) Dale Allen Pfeiffer states that our current social crises are increasing and the very ecosystems of the planet are stressed to the point of collapse. All these problems result from the nature of capitalism he states, and we cannot expect solutions from political leaders or corporations.
Business as usual cannot go on.
He describes globalization as
the endgame of capitalism, pushing for open access to resources throughout the globe while moving jobs to wherever workers are paid the least in order to maximize profits.
Capitalism cannot be reformed. Any attempt to regulate it more fairly, [or reform it] - be it monetary reform or any other sort of reform - is destined to fail due to [its] basic unalterable nature.
capitalism is based upon the exploitation of power disparities, and its smooth operation is maintained by a disempowered, uninformed working class.
Crises upon us
Now in 2004, we are besieged by bad news massive global warning, ecological disasters, rapid extinction of species on a horrifying scale, as well as economic dysfunctions such as increased poverty, escalating world and national debt. Headlines in a flyer put out by ACT-New Mexico scream for attention to the corruption generated by the Bush administration: Nearly $200 Billion to Occupy and Rebuild Iraq, VP Cheneys Old Firm Halliburton Paid $7 Billion for No-Bid Work in Iraq, Halliburton Accused of Price Gouging in Iraq by $300 Million.
Since corporations own the media and use it to shape public opinion, only a small proportion of American citizens are aware of the calamities and collusion foisted upon us. Among the Top 25 Censored News Stories (4) listed September 2004 are: #1. Wealth Inequity in 21st Century Threatens Economy and Democracy; #2 Ashcroft vs. the Human Rights Law that Holds Corporations Accountable; #3 Bush Administration Manipulates Science and Censors Scientists; #4 High Uranium Levels Found in Troops and Civilians; #5 The Wholesale Giveaway of Our Natural Resources; #6 The Sale of Electoral Politics; #7 Conservative Organizations Drives Judicial Appointments; #8 Secrets of Cheney Energy Task Force Come to Light; #9 Widow Brings RICO Case Against U.S. Government for 911; #10 New Nuke Plants: Taxpayers Support, Industry Profits; #11 The Media Can Legally Lie. (For the rest of the list, see http://www.projectedcensored.org)
All this is brought into sharper focus by the unconscionable and brutal assault on Iraq by the U.S. government under George W. Bush. Soldiers and their families now realize that they are duped into killing other humans - and being killed themselves or injured for life - to serve interests of wealthy corporate owners. The war in Iraq is not for the good of the U.S. or Iraqi people, but to satisfy the greed of those seeking to rob other countries of their natural resources.
The Iraq War was sold to the U.S. public as revenge against the 9/11 terrorist attack on the World Trade Center in New York and an attempt to correct the internal injustices of Saddam Husseins regime in Iraq. 9/11 is now being revealed as an inside job organized by the Bush administration i.e., a massive lie and deception staged by an un-elected president and his corporate allies to manipulate U.S. citizens into giving up their individual rights on the pretense that national security was at stake. The restrictive Patriot Act and Office of Homeland Security are moving the U.S. into outright fascism - defined as the merging of government with corporate interests. The cleverly promoted illusion of democracy, decency and justice in the United States has been abandoned.
Ethics and Consciousness
One of the most glaring reasons for our endangered planet is the moral bankruptcy of U.S. leaders and hatred for engendered worldwide by their disastrous and mean-spirited policies. Makes you wonder what went wrong with their hearts and consciences and if they could gain wisdom and redeem themselves by reading Robert Fulghams book All I Really Need to Know I Learned In Kindergarten. (5)
Share everything. Play fair. Dont hit people. Put things back where you found them. Clean up your own mess. Dont take things that arent yours. Say youre sorry when you hurt somebody.
When you go out into the world, watch out for traffic, hold hands and stick together. Be aware of wonder.
Yet leaders are not the only ones accountable as the planet and all species face extinction. Each of us needs to continually ask ourselves: Am I being part of the solution, or part of the problem?
What are our options as the U.S., England and other countries push for a fascist form of government within the trappings of democracy?
1. We need to know who we really are. We are sensitive beings and fellow citizens of a fragile, beautiful planet, not money-making machines. Our allegiance our patriotism, if you will is to the Power that created us, not to corrupt people and systems bent on exploiting other living creatures and the resources of the earth for their own profit.
2. We can cast aside the fear and apathy imposed by those trying to control us and start viewing the world with love and compassion. We can turn within to strengthen inner wisdom and become spiritual beings in harmony with ourselves, each other, and with nature.
3. We can demand an end to the financial terrorism inflicted by ruling classes that forces people to live day-to-day in poverty and hunger. Bread for the World Institute reported in 2003 that 34.9 million people worldwide, including 13 million children in the United States, did not have access to enough food for an active healthy life.
4. We must acknowledge that economic disparity is the source of injustice and stop participating in it. United for a Fair Economy ( http://www.faireconomy.org/ -April 14, 2004) reported that the average U.S. worker takes home $517 a week while the average corporate executive gets $155,769 a week! Middle class stockholders hoping to be financially secure allow themselves to be robbed because they vote CEOs exorbitant salaries of $300-$400,000 a year.
5. We can be rightfully alarmed by John Kerrys statement on September 15th that his administration will be better for business. We need a system that is better for people and the earth. We need alternative grassroots ways to be content making a living rather than making a profit.
6. We need to stop supporting the system thats ruining our lives, poisoning us for profit, and sending our children off to war to murder other peoples children. We can affect the global economy by our consumption choices, refusing to buy things that are toxic to us and the environment. (6) We can assign our tax money for peaceful purposes rather than support profits of arms manufacturers. We can demand our troops be brought home now.
7. We need a fresh vision of the kind of world we want to live in one based on the ancient concept of the common good of all. Once this image is thoroughly imbued in our consciousness we can put our hearts and minds to work.
# # #
SIDEBAR Excerpts from an article Loving Our Children (7) by Butler Shaffer:
* The culture is so embedded in lies that truth-telling has become a subversive act.
In America, governments plunder via taxation some forty-five percent of the wealth produced annually. On a worldwide basis, state-run wars and genocides kill an average of two million persons each year.
* We do not like to admit our gullibility in being lied to particularly when it involves the behavior of systems we have learned to revere.
* Our culture sanctifies war, offering images of glory, heroism, and noble purposes to induce young people into becoming participants. With college costs increasingly beyond the reach of lower-income families
the state enrolls young people into its ranks with promise of college tuition and the learning of marketable skills.
* For the sake of truth in advertising
why not include in recruiting commercials] WARNING: service in the military could be hazardous to your health. You could be seriously wounded, maimed, or blown to pieces in a foreign land? At the very least, mention could be made of the fact that college tuitions will not be forthcoming should the soldier not be alive to enroll in college!
* We must continue to remind ourselves that the deaths of your children and mine are implicit in every war. The events of 9/11 should have awakened us to the fact that we cannot love and protect our own children while we attack the children of others.
# # #
1. Tressell, Robert. The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists. Monthly Review Press, New York. 1955. (p. 218)
2. Zinn, Howard. A Peoples History of the United States. Harper & Row Publishers, NY. 1980. (pp. 570-571, 574)
3. Pfieffer, Dale Allen. A Call for Action. http://www.fromthewilderness.com, June 15, 2004.
4. Phillips, Peter. Sonoma State University, CA http://www.projectedcensored.org
5. Fulghum, Robert. All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten. Villard Books, NY. 1986.
6. Erb, John E. and T. Michelle. The Slow Poisoning of America. Paladins Press, Virginia Beach, VA, 2003; Bryson, Christopher. The Fluoride Deception. Seven Stories Press, NYC. 2003.
7. (sidebar) Shaffer, Butler. Loving Our Children. http://www.lewrockwell.com/shaffer85.html
Bly, Carol. Changing the Bully Who Rules the World: Reading & thinking about ethics. Milkweed Editions, Minneapolis, MN. 1995.
Hull, Janet Starr. Sweet Poison. New Horizon Press, Far Hill, NJ. 1999. (dangers of aspartame)
Icke, David. Tales from the Time Loop. Bridge of Love Publications, Wildwood, MO, 2003.
Jensen, Derrick. The Culture of Make Believe. Context Books, New York. 2002.
Lerza, Catherine and Jacobson, Michael, editors. Food for People, Not for Profit. Ballantine Books, NY. 1975.
Quinn, Daniel. Beyond Civilization. Three Rivers Press, NYC. 1999.
Weekly compilations by Mr. Jean Hudon, a former executive of the Canadian Green Party, who balances the horrendous facts of todays world with the Phoenix Rising of a worldwide increase in spiritual consciousness.
Over 1200 eco-humane websites presented by Mark R. Elsis who believes Love is the answer.
The Rothschild Dynasty. (Condensed from Descent Into Slavery by Des Griffin, Chapter Five)
Thomas H. Greco, Jr. says the mission of his site is to present leading-edge ideas on monetary and non-monetary exchange to facilitate economic democracy, self-determination, and global harmony.
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