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29.4.04
 
Veal - Fuggedaboudit
Must see video presentation of the Farm Sanctuary's No Veal Campaign.
 
Ming the Mechanic on the Global Ideas Bank
Last Friday while in London with Max, we dropped by the offices of the Institute for Social Inventions, the people behind the Global Ideas Bank, the most prolific and well-known grassroots idea gathering organization. . . Link for Institute for Social Inventions is here.
18.4.04
 
Real profits from play money
This story is not about a problem or a solution. It's a story about the nature of money. It's from the Online section of last Friday's Guardian, and it tells the story of one man, Julian Dibbell, who makes a tidy profit by amassing fortunes in the virtual world of online gaming, and then selling virtual assets to gamers on e-Bay.
Also see Dibbell's blog Play Money for some more interesting insights about the nature of money and how the connected world of the profitable internet is changing how we see and how we use money.
9.4.04
 
The cost of not knowing

Dave of the blog How to Save the World has an essay about "the cost of not knowing, part II" (part I is here) that draws a connection between Lucky, presumably the dog shown above, who was rescued from an abusive owner, and most of the population of the modern world. After Lucky's rescue, people asked, why did he keep going back to the abusive man who almost killed him, even at the risk of his life? Dave says:
"It obviously didn't occur to the reporter that Lucky came back for more abuse because that's the only life he knew. He couldn't have survived in the wild, and couldn't have known that another, better life could be had in just about any other house, as part of any other family.
"We are all, in a real sense, like Lucky. Most of us, all over the world, struggle every day, and put up with a huge amount of stress and unhappiness in our lives. Compared to the hunter-gatherers who lived for millions of years before modern civilization, we work much harder and longer to make a living, we face much more physical and psychological violence (in our neighbourhoods, in our workplaces, in our war-torn world, and sometimes even in our homes), we suffer from many more physical and psychological diseases and illnesses, we live in crowded, polluted, mostly run-down communities, in constant fear (of an infinite number of things, most notably not having enough), and we are oppressed with hierarchies, laws, rules and restrictions that would have driven our ancient ancestors quite mad.
"Why do we put up with it? Because it's the only life we know. . ."
Read more to find out what your options really are.
 
Those to whom evil is done do evil in return
Dave at Orcinus had an excellent post on Monday, musing philosophically about the violent death and mutilation of Americans in Iraq. He was one of at least two bloggers to note a similarity between the photo not widely circulated (for obvious reasons) and photos of patriotic white Americans and their mutilation victims, in this case the lynched "Negroes" of the Jim Crow south. I thought of this exquisitely depressing poem by W. H. Auden, one of my favourites of all time, which, unfortunately, I find myself trotting out from time to time as it again begins to describe my bleak worldview to a "t". An excerpt or two:

"I and the public know
What all schoolchildren learn,
Those to whom evil is done
Do evil in return.

Exiled Thucydides knew
All that a speech can say
About Democracy,
And what dictators do,
The elderly rubbish they talk
To an apathetic grave;
Analysed all in his book,
The enlightenment driven away,
The habit-forming pain,
Mismanagement and grief:
We must suffer them all again."
. . .
"Faces along the bar
Cling to their average day:
The lights must never go out,
The music must always play,
All the conventions conspire
To make this fort assume
The furniture of home;
Lest we should see where we are,
Lost in a haunted wood,
Children afraid of the night
Who have never been happy or good."
. . .
"All I have is a voice
To undo the folded lie,
The romantic lie in the brain
Of the sensual man-in-the-street
And the lie of Authority
Whose buildings grope the sky:
There is no such thing as the State
And no one exists alone;
Hunger allows no choice
To the citizen or the police;
We must love one another or die."
5.4.04
 
One Small Step for One Small Town, One Giant Leap for Mankind?
Creative Solutions -- Peaceful Conflict Resolution


PRESS RELEASE FOR IMMEDIATE USE

RESPECT April 5


PRESTON TO TWIN WITH NABLUS

Respect councillor 'ecstatic' at Labour conversion

Preston's Respect councillor Michael Lavalette claimed he was 'ecstatic' at the news that Labour councillors in the town were discussing a motion to twin Preston with Nablus.

Cllr Lavalette led the twining proposal in October 2003 and at the time 13 Labour group members voted for the proposal. But now the Labour group will discuss a very similar proposal at their group meeting this Tuesday (6 April). If the group agrees they will present the proposal to council on 29 April.

Cllr Lavalette said: "This is great news. We are very pleased that the Labour group are debating whether to take a twinning motion to council. The motion is very similar to the one we debated before -- but with Labour group support it should go through. It will be a great victory for the twinning campaign if that happens.

I'm a bit disappointed that the Labour group have not talked to anyone in the twinning campaign -- and that they did not come to our cultural evening and educational display that was held in Noor Hall last Wednesday. But all converts to the Palestinian cause are welcome.

I'm sure some will say that Labour are worried about the local elections and their failure to fully support twinning before. But I think its great that they are coming on-board our campaign."

Mukhtar Master from Preston Stop the War and a leading campaigner for twinning said:

"We understand that John Collins, Labour group leader will propose the motion. At the end of last year he said this was mere 'gesture politics' but we are glad we have convinced him otherwise."


*******************************************************************

For newsdesk:

1. the origin twinning motion
2. The Labour group proposal
3. contact details


1. The original twinning proposal:

"We call on the council to undertake immediate steps to twin Preston with the city of Nablus on the Palestinian west bank"

2. The proposed motion from Labour:

' This council recognises the plight of the Palestinian people after over 35
years of illegal occupation by Israeli forces despite UN resolution and
international law. This council pledges itself:

1) To twin with Nablus without recourse to funding from Preston City Council
Tax payers.

2) To seek to use its powers to work with people of all faiths and to set up a
charity that will fund twinning with Nablus and provide humanitarian relief for
people of all faiths in Nablus, whether Christian, Muslem or Jew.

3) To look at how Preston City Council can use facilities that educate
Prestonians about the plight of people in the Occupied territories.

3. Contact details:

Cllr Michael Lavalette 07739729214

Sufia Makkan (Twinning campaign press officer) 07967094191

Mukhtar Master (Chair Preston Stop the War) 07956100786


--
i'n'i - Investigating the 'new' imperialism +44(0)7732-836-093
http://www.williambowles.info
"Always appear what you are" - Mary Wollstonecraft

1.4.04
 
The Ultimate Solution!
*Ø* Blogmanac April 1, 2004 | George W Bush's change of heart: plans Peace 'Imaginatorium'

A Blogmanac exclusive: full text of speech that rocked the world

US President stuns world: "We must find alternatives to war"

2004 The plenary session of the Fiji Summit was attended by 4,700 delegates who enjoyed the brilliant fireworks display put on for the occasion by the people of Jordan. After a moving rendition of Peace on Earth by several hundred international stars from the music world, to which the thousands of delegates sang along, President Bush's inspired television address to the world [excerpts below] was watched by the delegates and an estimated world audience of four billion people.

At the invitation of US President George W Bush, representatives of 190 countries had met in the South Pacific nation of Fiji for theinaugurall Global Peace Imagination Summit. All the nations present pledged just 10 per cent of their defence budgets to fund Bush's new brainchild, the Global Peace Imaginatorium. Although the pledges are a mere fraction of national war chests, the resulting peace foundation is already bigger than any one institutional, business or national entity in the world. Pundits said that its very size will help protect it from pressures from the enormous world armaments industry.

Washington sources say that the purpose of the multi-trillion dollar institute will be to solicit from citizens of the world ideas for alternatives to war in cases in which conflicts arise. Suggestions, whether from professional conflict resolution practitioners, diplomats, academics, or ordinary citizens, are to be rewarded with cash disbursements. Every suggestion will be rewarded, and is then eligible for entry to higher levels of reward according to the judgement of panels of democratically elected representatives from all nations.

President Bush stunned the world with his televised address to the world, for which his government had set aside 25 billion dollars of armaments purchase money to promote, so scarcely a man, woman or child in the world did not know about the Summit nor Mr Bush's speech. His opening remarks brought gales of laughter from the floor of the Summit. "I know a lot of people in the media think I'm nuts. Maybe you think I'm nuts," he said with a grin.

"Some members of my White House inner circle think I'm a bit nuts, too. Especially now.

"But ladies and gentleman, I don't think I've ever been so sane in my life! [Applause] The human race has chosen war as a means of settling disputes for thousands of years, and it's time is over. It not only hasn't solved anything, but its consequences have gotten far worse. It's over. Finis. Kaput!

"A hundred years ago," he told the now silent crowd, "when armies collided in battle, about 10 per cent of the casualties were civilian and 90 per cent were combatants. Today, it's the other way round. The whole nature of warfare has changed, and no longer can we believe that the people who die or get burned and maimed in battle might in some way have to accept responsibility for their own actions. Today, the innocent are the main victims. Not only that, but our generals now sit in comfortable air-conditioned offices, nowhere near the field of battle, and make decisions on the deployment of weapons whose unspeakably tragic consequences they will never see, and that our grandparents could never have conceived of – weapons that can level vast areas of civilisation in one moment. We know in our hearts the difference between right and wrong, and this is wrong gentlemen, this is wrong.

"My friends," President Bush continued, "for a long time I myself mistakenly believed that war is all right. That it's OK. That it's 'patriotic'. I suppose it is because I had never been in one, who knows. Maybe it was just the culture I was brought up in, the movies and TV shows I watched and the books I read as a kid. Whatever the reason, like so many people, I had never really thought 'outside the square'. I saw some nation do something I didn't like, and I automatically thought of war as a solution.

"Then something big happened, ladies and gentlemen, and even now it makes the hair stand up on the back of my neck. One night about ten days ago, I woke up at about 3 o'clock in the morning in a cold sweat, with some realizations running through my head – and I don't even quite know how to explain it, but somehow I knew that if we just tried to do things differently, we would actually do it. Suddenly I trusted people again. I trusted that people could solve the problems of people – and do it fast. All that what was needed was the will, a bit of money, and the encouragement of leaders. I thought, how can I even call myself a leader if I do not lead people into something new and better?

"I said to the First Lady, 'You know, I've been wrong. Almost all of us have been wrong. For thousands of years, we've all beeen wrong. And as President of the USA, I'm gonna come right out and say I was wrong. That we all have to do things differently, totally differently, from now on. No one else has as much of a chance to turn things around as me today, and I'm not going to squander this chance.' Laura looked at me a bit funny [audience laughs] but I think she knew deep down that something profound had happened to my thinking, and maybe I was right. Maybe together, human beings could do it.

"Men and women of the world, I'm here tonight to tell you I was wrong: War is not the solution!"

"Men and women of the world, I'm here tonight to tell you I was wrong: War is not the solution!" President Bush paused at this point for 90 seconds of thunderous clapping. Following several minutes more of his speech, his concluding remark, met again with sustained applause that ended in a standing ovation, were these words, heard by two-thirds of the world's population:

"Men and women of Planet Earth: We can do this. We can put people on the moon, we can build the Internet, we can spend trillions and trillions of dollars on frivolous and evil things. Many nations represented tonight in this auditorium, including my own, can build – have built – weapons of mass destruction that can destroy the world many times over. Yet millions of people are starving and have no access to clean water. We have to stop this now; we can't say 'it's how things should be because they always were'. Enough is enough! We have the technology to do almost anything we can imagine.

"From this night onwards, we also have the technology of this wonderful Global Peace Imaginatorium to begin to help us clear the fog from our minds. Because, ladies and gentlemen, it is only our lack of imagination, and the fog in our minds, that has kept humankind in this tragic cycle of suffering since time began. Now we will make it an honor for a human being to come up with solutions, just as we will make it a disgrace to use the old methods and to be stuck in old thinking, like I was.

"The Imaginatorium will not stop war and create a new world, but it will foment ideas on how to do this – ideas that have been lacking. Ideas that no leader has ever before thought of asking you to think up. (I don't take the credit for this. Laura says it was the pizza I ate before going to bed.) [Laughter]

"My friends of all nations, all creeds and all races: now, having realized my own past errors of thought, I ask you to join with me to eradicate what is obsolete from our minds. Because it all comes from our minds. I know that now. As John Lennon and Yoko Ono put it so well way back when, "War is over. If you want it."

[Standing ovation]


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