Tag Archives: camelia camy

Open Letter – Myanmar Islamic Religious Organization sends Emergency Letter to the President

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Myanmar Islamic Religious Organization sends Emergency Letter to the President

The Republic of Union of Myanmar
All Myanmar Government Recognized Islamic Religious Organization
No. 214, Bo Sun Pet Street, Pabedan Township, Yangon.
Phone- 388146, 253683, 252608, 241717, 241212, 296134

Letter No. MaABa/Admin/024/2013 ASa(4)
Date- 26 March 2013

To
President
The Republic of Union of Myanmar

Subject: Asking to protect Myanmar Muslims’ lives and properties due to currently insecure situation

1. At the present time, there have been no securities for Myanmar Muslims’ lives and properties, mosques and religious schools increasingly. Now the situation becomes worrying for Muslims even in Yangon.

2. Those terrorist attacks include big crimes such as arsons and massacres and so on in which offenders can be stopped by killing according to the law of defense.
However, the neglected situation has happened that responsible authorities have not taken effective action timely to criminals who dare to offend crimes openly in front of them.

3. It is learned that such massacres and loss of religious building and properties are due to weakness and omission of administrative authorities to provide protection and take action effectively.

4. That is why, this Islamic Organization strongly believed that peace and tranquility of the country as well as protection for Muslims’ lives and properties, and religious buildings would be given by quick and effective action taken to above mentioned events. Moreover, it is enthusiastically asked to implement promptly the statement (7/2013) of the spokesperson group of Republic of the Union of Myanmar.

Al-Haj Maulana Yusof
Vice-President
Jammatul-Ulema
Union of Myanmar

Al-Haj U Nyunt Maung Shein
President
Islamic Religious Affairs Council
Union of Myanmar (HQ)

Al-Haj U Myint Tun
President
Muslim Youth Muslim (Religious) Organization

Haji Kyaw Win
Myanmar Muslim National Affairs Organization

open-letter

http://drkokogyi.wordpress.com/2013/03/28/myanmar-islamic-religious-organization-sends-emergency-letter-to-the-president/

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Peace is the way

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1. Change doesn’t start on the surface. It’s generated from consciousness. This has been true throughout history. If both Buddhism and Christianity could begin with one person, let us not think in terms of numbers and odds. It may sound grandiose to compare ourselves to great spiritual guides, but we act collectively, as an alliance. Our strength comes from critical mass.

2. We aren’t here to make the world evolve. We are here to evolve as individuals and then to spread that influence. In the wisdom tradition of Vedanta, the stream of evolution is known in Sanskrit as Dharma, from a root verb that means ‘to uphold.’ This gives us a clue how to live: the easiest way for us to grow is to align ourselves with Dharma. We don’t have to struggle to grow–that would be unproductive, in fact. The Dharma has always favored non-violence. If we can bring ourselves to a state of non-violence, and connect with others who are doing the same thing, we have done a huge thing to reinforce Dharma.

3. Societies get into the grip of their own self-created story. It’s helpful to realize that we can choose not to participate in that story. Realize that national and tribal stories are limited, self-serving, based on the past, reinforced by orthodoxy, Imagine Peaceand therefore opposed to real change. Stories are incredibly persuasive. Wars are fueled by victimization that runs deep, for example. So let us not try to change anyone’s story. Let us only notice and observe ourselves when we buy into it and then let us back away from participating in it.

4. Let us not demand of ourselves that we alone must be the agent of change. In a fire brigade everyone passes along a bucket, but only the last person puts out the fire. None of us know where we stand in line. We may be here simply to pass a bucket; we may be called on to play a major role. In either case, all we can do is think, act, and say. Let us direct our thoughts, words, and actions to peace. That is all we can do. Let the results be what they will be.

5. Let us realize that engagement and detachment aren’t opposite—the more engaged we become, the more detached we will have to be. Otherwise, we will lose ourselves in conflict, obsessiveness, anxiety over the future, and feelings of guilt and inadequacy. Keep in mind that we are pioneers into the unknown, and uncertainty is our ally. When our minds want closure, certainty, and finality, let us remind ourselves that these are fictions. Our joyous moments will come from riding the wave, not asking to get off at the next station.

6. Since most misery is born of failed expectations let us learn to minimize expectations so that we will feel far less guilt and disappointment.

7. We aren’t here to be good or perfect. We are here as the antennas for signals from the future. We are here to be midwives to something that wants to be born. Good people have preceded us. They solved some problems and created others. As one wise teacher said, “You aren’t here to be as good as possible. You are here to be as real as possible.”

8. I know this sounds difficult, but let us try to be tolerant of intolerance. This is a hard one at times, but if you try the opposite—showing a hard heart against those with hard hearts of their own—all we’ve done is expand the problem. HandsIt’s helpful (but often difficult) to remember that everyone is doing the best they can from their own level of consciousness. Trying to talk a terrorist out of his beliefs is like trying to persuade a lion to be a vegetarian. All we can realistically do is seek openings for higher awareness.

9. Let us resist the lure of dualities. These include us versus them, civilized versus barbarians, good versus evil. The good, civilized people of Europe managed to kill millions of themselves, along with millions of “them.” In reality we are all in the same boat of human conflict and confusion. Sometimes it helps to admit that the doctor is not far from being a patient.

10. Let’s create an atmosphere of peace around ourselves. Imagine that we are like a mother whose children come home crying about fights at school. Would it be her job to soothe their wounds or to arm them for fighting back tomorrow? Simplistic as it may sound, the male principle of aggression can only be healed by the feminine principle of nurturing and love.

Love,
Deepak

Somaliland: 21 years of peace

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Somaliland: 21 years of peace

 

 

June 11 2012: In May 2012, Somaliland commemorated 21 years since declaring independence from Somalia. Although not recognised as an independent state by the international community, Somaliland’s self rule has provided the area a peace and stability not seen in the rest of Somalia. Muhyadin Saed, Insight on Conflict’s Local Correspondent for Somalia, looks at the reasons for this and what lessons can be carried over to rest of the country.

http://www.insightonconflict.org/2012/06/somaliland-21-years-of-peace/

The Somaliland government is capable of maintaining peace and security. (© Flickr / Alfred Weidinger)

While the central government of Somalia collapsed in 1991, Somaliland – a region in Northern Somalia that declared independence from the rest of Somalia – has been enjoying relative peace, incremental economic growth and democratic governance. This is a completely opposite path to that of Somalia, which has been in chaos for the two decades that Somaliland was peaceful.

Somaliland commemorated 21 years of peace, stability and self-declared independence – although no other country from the international community has yet recognised Somaliland politically – on 18 May, 2012. The day always raises questions as to why Somaliland is peaceful and Somalia not despite the numerous peacebuilding efforts by the international and regional communities which have sought to get Somali factional leaders to reach a lasting agreement. Among other questions is if peacebuilding models that have been used in Somaliland and Puntland to build peace can be replicated in other parts of Somalia to restore stability and ease the suffering of the Somali people.

Grassroots peacebuilding and local solutions

Peace in Somaliland came from the local people, represented by their traditional elders and leaders, politicians, business people and later women’s organisations, working together in a series of reconciliation conferences between the clans that live in Somaliland. Starting from the grassroots, by reconciling sub-clans to stop fighting and addressing the grievances between the communities became a building block for a grand reconciliation conference that was held in Borama in 1993. The Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration process too has been implemented locally and traditionally.The Somaliland peace process was independent from an external influence, and the interests of the Somaliland people were at center-stage. Though admittedly some international NGOs were providing funds and logistics to the process, however their involvement was kept to minimum by the Somaliland leaders.

The conference produced a National Charter and a hybrid system of governance; traditional, Islamic and Western. A presidential type of government with bicameral house of parliament was formed through selection. The Upper House of Parliament (guurti) consists of 82 elders from the various clans in Somaliland to assure representation of all people in Somaliland. This house was entrusted to work on further consolidating peace, reconciling communities and resolving conflicts in a very fragile environment, by then with weak governmental security institutions.

Lessons for Somalia

There are lessons learnt of bottom-up peacebuilding in Somaliland that can be applied in other parts of Somalia without just copying and pasting exactly as it worked here. There might be some contextual and time factors that are different, but holding on the central idea of local reconciliation and peacebuilding before rushing to central state-building is relevant. This may be partly what the Somali leaders have in mind in the current transition, which will be finalsed in Istanbul in August this year with the Somali traditional elders now in Mogadishu to approve the constitution and nominate MPs.

Somaliland is now democratising, with the transition happening successfully but with many challenges. Parliamentary, municipal and presidential elections were held successfully with a peaceful transfer of power. Civil society, business people and other non-state actors have been instrumental in the process. The Somaliland government is now capable of maintaining peace and security. Peacebuilding by the civil society is taking place, alongside a state-centric view to security and drafting of a national peacebuilding policy.

 

 

China Forbids International Tourism to Tibet Indefinitely

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http://zenpeacemakers.org/2012/06/china-forbids-international-tourism-to-tibet-indefinitely/

Originally posted by abc-news-topstories

Chinese authorities alerted foreign travel agencies Tuesday that they would no longer be issuing entry permits to Tibet.

Audrey Wozniak and Gloria Riviera report:

BEIJING – In a matter of days, the number of expected foreign visitors to Tibet has gone from millions to zero.

Chinese authorities alerted foreign travel agencies Tuesday that they would no longer be issuing entry permits to Tibet, the latest in a series of regulations being put on travelers to Tibet. The announcement follows the self-immolation of two Tibetans last week.

Tibet is no stranger to Chinese interference in its tourism industry. Tibet’s failed rebellion in March 1959 and the event’s annual memorial on National Uprising Day has chronically put the region at odds with the People’s Republic of China. In 2008, protests after National Uprising Day turned into riots that were met with violence by PRC forces. The Chinese government temporarily closed Tibet to foreign visitors. That is a now-annual practice in March, and during other national events significant to the Chinese government.

Now, many are saying that the latest in a string of Tibetan self-immolations led to the country’s shutdown to outsiders. According to Free Tibet, a campaign promoting Tibetan independence from China, there have been more than 30 self-immolations since March 2011. Most recently, on May 27, 2012 two Tibetans were the first to set themselves on fire in Lhasa, Tibet’s tightly-controlled administrative capital. The shutdown also coincides with the Saga Dawa festival, which celebrates the Buddha’s birth and draws many Buddhists to Tibet. This year, the festival began on June 4, which is also the anniversary of the Chinese government crackdown on the Tiananmen Square protests.

While many tourism agencies have learned to adapt and predict the trends on tourism bans, this closure comes as something of a shock. According to Nellie Connelly, marketing director of WildChina, a prominent travel company that regularly coordinates trips to Tibet, Chinese authorities informed the company in mid-May that travelers would only be allowed to visit Tibet in groups of five people of the same nationality. Last week, the government stopped issuing entry permits to Tibet altogether.  Connelly is in the process of rerouting customers whose Tibetan vacations are affected by the new ban. Only those Chinese nationals are allowed to enter the region.

“Tibet is a bucket-list destination for many people,” she says.

Last year, WildChina sent approximately 100 travelers to Tibet. This week, the company had to turn down approximately 10 inquiries about travel to Tibet. Four other WildChina trips are being re-routed, and five more are on indefinite hold.

The loss of income for Tibetan communities is significant. Tibet received 21.25 million domestic and foreign tourists in between 2006 and 2010, generating $3.58 billion in income for the country. Tourism is a staple of the region’s economy. Tibet set a goal to increase tourism revenue between 2011 and 2015 to more than 20 percent of its gross domestic product.

The Chinese government’s recent actions will make reaching 2012 targets difficult.

Peace Symbol History

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Peace Symbol History

Have you ever wondered where the peace symbol came from?

 

The peace symbol combines a circle, a vertical line, and downward sloping lines.

Throughout history the peace symbol was not always used in the spirit of love and service to humanity. For this reason, the Teach Peace Foundation logo is not a traditional peace symbol but people around the world holding hands.

A popular explanation of the peace symbol is that Gerald Herbert Holtom (1914 – 1985) created this symbol on February 21, 1958.1 At that time Holtom worked with the Direct Action Committee against Nuclear War. Holtom was a dedicated peacemaker and graduate of the Royal College of Arts. During World War II he worked on a farm in England as a conscientious objector. The BBC quoted Holtom, “I drew myself: the representative of an individual in despair, with hands palm outstretched outwards and downwards in the manner of Goya’s peasant before the firing squad.”2 The picture on the right shows one of Holtom’s first sketches of the peace symbol. Opponents of the peace movement sometimes are thrilled to see the hands downward which symbolizes peasants being killed by a firing squad.

Bertrand Russell (1872 – 1970), a philosopher, historian, mathematician, and a member of the Direct Action Committee against Nuclear War, supported Holtom’s claim and aggressively promoted the arms down symbol. The arms down peace sign made its first public appearance in the United Kingdom during the 1958 Easter weekend Direct Action Committee anti-nuclear march from London to Aldermaston. Russell was the march organizer responsible for placing the arms down peace symbol buttons and banners.

Russell’s interest in the peace symbol becomes visible when you know he was a member of the British Fabian Socialist Society, a secret society advocating a New World Order. Russell wrote in his book The Impact of Science on Society that a “Black Death” or bacteriological warfare would be helpful every generation to cull the population. One of Russell’s frustrations was war had proved to be disappointing in dramatically reducing populations.3 When you realize Russell supported both communism and peace without God, his alignment with all the New World Order tenets becomes visible. Specifically, he wanted to abolish God, abolish representative government, abolish private property, abolish food independence, abolish the family, and abolish most people as part of his anti-Christian crusade.

Russell downplayed his role and true interest in the peace symbol when he wrote, “It was invented by a member of our movement (Gerald Holtom) as the badge of the Direct Action Committee against Nuclear War, for the 1958 Aldermaston peace walk in England. It was designed from the naval code of semaphore, and the symbol represents the code letters for ND.’” The code ND for Nuclear Disarmament is shown on the right.4 The circle, representing the concept of total or complete, surrounds the N and D signifying total or complete nuclear disarmament.

Russell’s primary interest in the symbol is it is a symbol of defeat, despair, and an occult favorite for disrespecting Jesus. Secret societies advancing the Great Plan enjoy seeing people, especially young children, wearing the peace symbol with the arms down because in their Luciferian religion they believe deception produces a dark energy helping to pave the way for the Antichrist.

American journalist and playwright Herb Greer adds support for the Holtom explanation. He reported, “I was actually there on and before the first Aldermaston march for which it was created. I visited Holtom, I saw the original sketches and discussed it with him.”

Ken Kolsbun, author of the book Peace: The Biography of a Symbol, reported that Holtom expressed regret in not designing the peace symbol with the joyful lifting of arms towards the sky.5 For most of Holtom’s life he would draw only the upright peace symbol. Holtom requested that the upright peace symbol be placed on his tombstone in Kent, England. As shown by the picture of his tombstone, his wish was unfortunately ignored.6

Holtom’s wish that the peace symbol connotation of despair be changed to joy is illustrated by the picture on the right. When the peace symbol is inverted the letter “N” becomes the semaphore code for “U” which could mean “universal” disarmament or the less popular but courageous “unilateral” disarmament.7

While it appears reasonable that the modern day peace symbol comes from Gerald Holtom, this logic fails to address the fact that the symbol has been used for evil both in modern times and for thousands of years.

This same symbol was used by Hitler’s 3rd Panzer Division from 1941 to 1945.  The image on the left is the regimental 3rd Panzer Division symbol. Soviet, Polish, and Hungarian citizens, having suffered from the Nazi massacres, undoubtedly struggled with Holtom’s use of the symbol as a thoughtful way to communicate peace. The symbol can also be found on some of Hitler’s SS soldiers’ tombstones.8

Another flaw in the Holtom creation story is the use of the symbol as an anti-Christian symbol by the Saracens as early as 711 A.D.9  For the Saracens, the image placed on their shields symbolized the breaking of the Christian cross. For some the broken cross was equated to a satanic symbol known as the raven’s craw or witch’s foot. While Holtom may not have known the historical meaning of the peace symbol, Bertrand Russell was a historian and member of the Fabian Society. A 1970 article in the American Opinion magazine claimed Russell knew the historical occult meaning and intentionally selected an “anti-Christian design long associated with Satanism.”10

The fifth and final Roman emperor of the Julio-Claudian dynasty, Nero (born Lucius Domitius Ahenabarbus 37 – 68 AD), is remembered in history for persecuting Christians. Nero’s rule was so wicked he even had his mother executed. The First Roman-Jewish War (66 – 70 AD) started during his reign and today the term “Nero Cross” is the symbol of the “broken Jew” or “broken cross.” The most famous person believed to be crucified by Nero was the Apostle Peter. To symbolize humility and unworthiness in comparison to Christ, Peter requested that he be crucified with his head toward the ground. As a result of Peter’s death the upside down cross was used by early Christians as a positive symbol for peace.

The symbol of the upside down cross changes its meaning when the person on the upside down cross is no longer Peter but Jesus. Anti-religious and satanic groups use the “Nero Cross” or inverted “Latin Cross” to symbolize everything opposite of Christianity. Today this is clearly illustrated by “black metal” or heavy metal music lyrics and imagery that communicate anti-Christian sentiments.11 An album cover for the black metal group, Mayhem, is shown on the left. The first letter “M” in “Mayhem” and the last “m” depict the upside down cross. In addition to musicians, film makers have reinforced the notion that the upside down cross is an anti-Christian symbol as illustrated by The Omen in 1976 and The Exorcism of Emily Rose in 2005.

The symbol has also been used to communicate support for communism. Bertrand Russell once said: “There is no hope in anything but the Soviet way.” Governments–both those who supported communism and those opposed to it–have perceived benefits in aligning the peace symbol with communist ideology. For people like Bertrand Russell, the author of the 1927 essay Why I Am Not Christian, the symbol represented not only a pro-communism meaning but peace without God.12

The confusion about what the modern day peace symbol means is further clouded by the founder of the Church of Satan, Anton LaVey. LaVey used the symbol as the backdrop for his altar.13 Rudolf Koch’s Book of Signs explains the downward pointed fork represents the death of man.14 Placed in the circle the symbol means the total death of all people which is the exact opposite of what Holtom worked to prevent with the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament.

While the anti-God, communist and death of man arguments are far from representative of the majority of people that carry or wear a peace symbol, they can frustrate the sincere efforts of peacemakers.

Today because many people carry the symbol without understanding the history, we miss an opportunity to address historical uses and move forward to reclaim the symbol for good.15

The Focus Fusion Society is honoring Holtom’s by putting the peace symbol arms up.16

Unfortunately even the upward arms peace symbol is not problem-free. For example, the white racist group, National Alliance, uses the upward arm symbol shown on the right.17

When you see the peace symbol, with the exception of groups specifically promoting violence, the person displaying it is attempting to communicating a message of love. Rather than use the arms down or arms up peace symbol, communicating love with kindness is recommended.

By Dave Dionisi

Sources and additional information:

1Gerald Holtom, see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gerald_Holtom. The below is one of the first sketches of the peace symbol by Gerald Holtom. The first sketches are on display in the Commonweal Collection in the Bradford Peace Museum in England (see http://www.peacemuseum.org.uk and note that Room 2 is dedicated to the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament movement).

 

There are a wide range of partially correct peace symbol explanations. For example, for a peacemaker during the Vietnam War, they may sincerely believe the symbol is an abstraction of a B-52 and therefore the symbol is signifying a protest of carpet bombing in Southeast Asia. Examining the symbol’s meaning before the 20th century is necessary for a more complete understanding.

2See http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/whatever-happened-to-cnd-511009.html. Holtom also wrote to Hugh Brock, editor of Peace News, explaining the genesis of his idea in greater depth: “I was in despair. Deep despair. I drew myself: the representative of an individual in despair, with hands palm outstretched outwards and downwards in the manner of Goya’s peasant before the firing squad. I formalised the drawing into a line and put a circle round it.” See http://www.cnduk.org/index.php/information/info-sheets/the-cnd-logo.html.

3See Bertrand Russell, The Impact of Science on Society, Unwin Hyman publishing and printed by Cox & Wyman Ltd in Reading, Berkshire, Great Britain, 1952. Reprinted by Routledge in 1998, p. 116.

4See the BBC report, World’s best-known protest symbol turns 50 at http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/magazine/7292252.stm.

5See http://www.peacesymbol.com.

6Gerald Holtom asked to have the symbol in its upright form on his gravestone. That wish was ignored by the letter-cutter. See http://diaphania.blogspirit.com/tag/gerald%20holtom.

7See the BBC report, World’s best-known protest symbol turns 50 at http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/magazine/7292252.stm.

8See Nazi Panzer Divisional markings at http://www.germandressdaggers.com/Panzer%20Section%20Divisional%20markings%201%20to%203.htm.

9Saracen is any person in the Middle Ages that professed the religion of Islam. See the Encyclopedia Britannica at http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/523863/Saracen.

10See http://www.designobserver.com/archives/entry.html?id=34594.

11Satan rir media (Satan Rides the Media), a 1998 Norwegian documentary by Torstein Grude explaining the anti-Christian nature of black metal music and specifically Varg Vikernes church arsons in Norway and murder of Mayhem band member Øystein Aarseth.

12See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Why_I_Am_Not_a_Christian.

13Texe Marrs, Mystery Mark of the New Ages: Satan’s Design for World Domination (Westchester, Illinois: Crossway Books, 1988), p. 109.

14Foreign Policy in Focus, A Sign of the Times, April 10, 2008 by Barry Miles online at http://www.fpif.org/fpiftxt/5146. The Book of Signs by Rudolf Koch published by Dover Publications, Inc. in 1950. 

India’s Endangered (Authentic) Coffee House

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India’s Endangered (Authentic) Coffee House

http://www.time.com/time/video/player/0,32068,52626066001_1943064,00.html

 

In New Delhi, coffee franchises are crowding out the old standbys, but the Indian Coffee House hangs on with its bygone charm and low prices

Read more: http://www.time.com/time/video/player/0,32068,52626066001_1943064,00.html#ixzz1wQF0b618

Foodies Can Eclipse (and Save) the Green Movement

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Foodies Can Eclipse (and Save) the Green Movement

By Bryan Walsh Tuesday, Feb. 15, 2011

These are dark days for the environmental movement. A year after being on the cusp of passing landmark legislation to cap greenhouse gases, greens are coming to accept the fact that the chance of national and international action on climate change has become more remote than ever. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is under attack by newly empowered Republicans in Congress who argue that the very idea of environmental protection is unaffordable for our debt-ridden country. Accustomed to remaining optimistic in the face of long odds, the environmental movement all at once faces a challenge just to stay relevant in a hostile political climate. In 2004, authors Michael Shellenberger and Ted Nordhaus faced a harsh backlash from the greens when they released a polemic essay called “The Death of Environmentalism,” but now it appears they might have been ahead of their time.

Even as traditional environmentalism struggles, another movement is rising in its place, aligning consumers, producers, the media and even politicians. It’s the food movement, and if it continues to grow it may be able to create just the sort of political and social transformation that environmentalists have failed to achieve in recent years. That would mean not only changing the way Americans eat and the way they farm — away from industrialized, cheap calories and toward more organic, small-scale production, with plenty of fruits and vegetables — but also altering the way we work and relate to one another. To its most ardent adherents, the food movement isn’t just about reform — it’s about revolution.

What makes the food movement so unusual is that it’s not a single national movement at all, it’s a series of organized smaller mobilizations — which is both an asset and a liability. A sustainable-food conference I attended in Manhattan over the weekend, put on under the TED imprimatur, shows the striking diversity of the movement(s). Laurie David, the Hollywood environmentalist and co-producer of the documentary An Inconvenient Truth, explained how regular family dinners improve not just eating habits but also classroom grades and good behavior. Cheryl Rogowski, an organic farmer in New York’s Hudson Valley, talked about the challenges and rewards of producing for the local food market. Dr. Scott Kahan, an obesity expert at Johns Hopkins University’s Bloomberg School of Public Health, spoke about the role that mass advertising plays in promoting unhealthy foods for kids. Britta Riley, a New York City–based artist, talked about window farming in the city and the growth of DIY urban agriculture. That’s the food movement today: farming and eating and health and policy and business, all jostling for position and influence, but increasingly finding a common cause.

What’s amazing is how quickly the food movement has become a measurable force in American society. Environmentalism can trace its origins to the Sierra Club founder John Muir pushing for the establishment of America’s first national parks in 1899, but until recently, food wasn’t really on the radar for progressives, beyond the mission of coping with world hunger. It wasn’t until the food-safety scandals of the 1980s and ’90s — followed by the publication of exposés like Eric Schlosser’s Fast Food Nation and the growing threat of obesity — that Americans really started paying attention to what they were eating. Some of them weren’t very happy with it — and they wanted a change.

They’re making one. There are now thousands of community-supported agriculture programs around the country, up from just two in 1986. There are more than 6,000 farmers’ markets, up 16% from just a year ago. Sales of organic food and beverages hit nearly $25 billion in 2009, up from $1 billion in 1990, and no less a corporate behemoth than Walmart has muscled into the organic industry, seeking out sustainable suppliers. Green chefs like Alice Waters of Chez Panisse in Berkeley, Calif., have become national superstars, and local sourcing has become a must for hip restaurants in Brooklyn, Berkeley and in between. First Lady Michelle Obama — she of the organic White House garden — has decided to make childhood obesity her signature issue, and she’s done so by pushing the food industry to provide healthier fruits and vegetables over cheap processed options. Even the Department of Agriculture — usually a staunch ally of mainstream farming and the distributor each year of billions in often wasteful agricultural subsidies — has gotten into the sustainability game with its “Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food” program, which connects consumers with local producers.

Why has the food movement sprouted so rapidly, even as traditional environmentalism has stalled? Simple: it’s about pleasure. Before the political games, before worries about dead zones and manure lagoons, before concerns about obesity and trans fat, the food movement arose around a simple principle: food should taste better. Like their environmental brethren, foodies could be accused of trying to force people to eat their vegetables — but these vegetables are more than metaphorical: they are from a local organic farm and they’re sautéed to perfection. The food movement has also directly jacked into that other great American obsession — health — in a way that distant concerns about climate change have largely failed to do. And there’s the simple fact that food is present in our lives in a way that endangered species or deforestation or Arctic melting simply aren’t. We buy food, we cook food (though less and less frequently) and three times a day, we eat food — occasionally while watching cooking shows. (See the Republicans’ war with the EPA.)

The challenge for the food movement will come as it matures and begins to take on established political interests. Even with all the growth and all the glossy magazine covers, sustainable food still makes up only a tiny portion of the overall American food system. Perhaps 1% of total U.S. cropland is farmed organically, and organic food and beverages still command less than 4% of the national market, even after years of growth. Slow Food USA — one of the most dynamic of the new food-movement groups — has perhaps 20,000 members nationwide, while the Sierra Club has more than 1.3 million. As foodies go from promoting the perfect heirloom tomato to tackling the country’s entrenched agricultural practices, they’ll need a new level of commitment, organization and energy. That challenge will only be tougher if the food movement is somehow seen as competing with environmentalism.

But here’s the good news — the two sides aren’t really competing. As the food movement matures and grows, it could end up being the best vehicle available for achieving environmental goals. The industrialized way we farm today damages our land, our water and our climate. Reforming agriculture and promoting sustainability won’t just help us get better and healthier food; it will also fight greenhouse-gas emissions and water pollution. The food movement has been criticized as elitist, but that reputation belies recent efforts to get low-cost fruits and vegetables to urban poor who suffer disproportionately from obesity and diabetes.

Environmentalists once thought that the only way to create lasting change in the U.S. and the rest of the world was by controlling our carbon emissions. Not quite. As Brian Halweil, a leading thinker on sustainable food, put it in Saturday’s TED conference, “If the environmental movement is dead, then I say, ‘Long live the food movement.'” Environmental and social changes are coming — and they will be served up on our dinner plates.

Read more: http://www.time.com/time/health/article/0,8599,2049255,00.html#ixzz1wQDOJcjs

Going Green: 12 Simple Steps for 2012

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Going Green: 12 Simple Steps for 2012

http://www.worldwatch.org/going-green-12-simple-steps-2012-0

As we head into 2012, many of us will be resolving to lose those few extra pounds, save more money, or spend a few more hours with our families and friends. But there are also some resolutions we can make to make our lives a little greener. Each of us, especially in the United States, can make a commitment to reducing our environmental impacts.

The United Nations has designated 2012 as the International Year of Sustainable Energy for All. Broadening access to sustainable energy is essential to solving many of the world’s challenges, including food production, security, and poverty.

Hunger, poverty, and climate change are issues that we can all help address. Here are 12 simple steps to go green in 2012:

(1) Recycle

Recycling programs exist in cities and towns across the United States, helping to save energy and protect the environment. In 2009, San Francisco became the first U.S. city to require all homes and businesses to use recycling and composting collection programs. As a result, more than 75 percent of all material collected is being recycled, diverting 1.6 million tons from the landfills annually—double the weight of the Golden Gate Bridge. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, for each pound of aluminum recovered, Americans save the energy resources necessary to generate roughly 7.5 kilowatt-hours of electricity—enough to power a city the size of Pittsburgh for six years!

What you can do:

  • Put a separate container next to your trash can or printer, making it easier to recycle your bottles, cans, and paper.

(2) Turn off the lights

On the last Saturday in March—March 31 in 2012—hundreds of people, businesses, and governments around the world turn off their lights for an hour as part of Earth Hour, a movement to address climate change.

What you can do:

  • Earth Hour happens only once a year, but you can make an impact every day by turning off lights during bright daylight, or whenever you will be away for an extended period of time.

(3) Make the switch

In 2007, Australia became the first country to “ban the bulb,” drastically reducing domestic usage of incandescent light bulbs. By late 2010, incandescent bulbs had been totally phased out, and, according to the country’s environment minister, this simple move has made a big difference, cutting an estimated 4 million tons of greenhouse gas emissions by 2012. China also recently pledged to replace the 1 billion incandescent bulbs used in its government offices with more energy efficient models within five years.

What you can do:

  • A bill in Congress to eliminate incandescent in the United States failed in 2011, but you can still make the switch at home. Compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) use only 20–30 percent of the energy required by incandescents to create the same amount of light, and LEDs use only 10 percent, helping reduce both electric bills and carbon emissions.

(4) Turn on the tap

The bottled water industry sold 8.8 billion gallons of water in 2010, generating nearly $11 billion in profits. Yet plastic water bottles create huge environmental problems. The energy required to produce and transport these bottles could fuel an estimated 1.5 million cars for a year, yet approximately 75 percent of water bottles are not recycled—they end up in landfills, litter roadsides, and pollute waterways and oceans. And while public tap water is subject to strict safety regulations, the bottled water industry is not required to report testing results for its products. According to a study, 10 of the most popular brands of bottled water contain a wide range of pollutants, including pharmaceuticals, fertilizer residue, and arsenic.

What you can do:

  • Fill up your glasses and reusable water bottles with water from the sink. The United States has more than 160,000 public water systems, and by eliminating bottled water you can help to keep nearly 1 million tons of bottles out of the landfill, as well as save money on water costs.

(5) Turn down the heat

The U.S. Department of Energy estimates that consumers can save up to 15 percent on heating and cooling bills just by adjusting their thermostats. Turning down the heat by 10 to 15 degrees Fahrenheit for eight hours can result in savings of 5–15 percent on your home heating bill.

What you can do:

  • Turn down your thermostat when you leave for work, or use a programmable thermostat to control your heating settings.

(6) Support food recovery programs

Each year, roughly a third of all food produced for human consumption—approximately 1.3 billion tons—gets lost or wasted, including 34 million tons in the United States, according to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). Grocery stores, bakeries, and other food providers throw away tons of food daily that is perfectly edible but is cosmetically imperfect or has passed its expiration date. In response, food recovery programs run by homeless shelters or food banks collect this food and use it to provide meals for the hungry, helping to divert food away from landfills and into the bellies of people who need it most.

What you can do:

  • Encourage your local restaurants and grocery stores to partner with food rescue organizations, like City Harvest in New York City or Second Harvest Heartland in Minnesota.
  • Go through your cabinets and shelves and donate any non-perishable canned and dried foods that you won’t be using to your nearest food bank or shelter.

(7) Buy local

“Small Business Saturday,” falling between “Black Friday” and “Cyber Monday,” was established in 2010 as a way to support small businesses during the busiest shopping time of the year. Author and consumer advocate Michael Shuman argues that local small businesses are more sustainable because they are often more accountable for their actions, have smaller environmental footprints, and innovate to meet local conditions—providing models for others to learn from.

What you can do:

  • Instead of relying exclusively on large supermarkets, consider farmers markets and local farms for your produce, eggs, dairy, and meat. Food from these sources is usually fresher and more flavorful, and your money will be going directly to these food producers.

(8) Get out and ride

We all know that carpooling and using public transportation helps cut down on greenhouse gas emissions, as well as our gas bills. Now, cities across the country are investing in new mobility options that provide exercise and offer an alternative to being cramped in subways or buses. Chicago, Denver, Minneapolis, and Washington, D.C. have major bike sharing programs that allow people to rent bikes for short-term use. Similar programs exist in other cities, and more are planned for places from Miami, Florida, to Madison, Wisconsin.

What you can do:

  • If available, use your city’s bike share program to run short errands or commute to work. Memberships are generally inexpensive (only $75 for the year in Washington, D.C.), and by eliminating transportation costs, as well as a gym membership, you can save quite a bit of money!
  • Even if without bike share programs, many cities and towns are incorporating bike lanes and trails, making it easier and safer to use your bike for transportation and recreation.

(9) Share a car

Car sharing programs spread from Europe to the United States nearly 13 years ago and are increasingly popular, with U.S. membership jumping 117 percent between 2007 and 2009. According to the University of California Transportation Center, each shared car replaces 15 personally owned vehicles, and roughly 80 percent of more than 6,000 car-sharing households surveyed across North America got rid of their cars after joining a sharing service. In 2009, car-sharing was credited with reducing U.S. carbon emissions by more than 482,000 tons. Innovative programs such as Chicago’s I-GO are even introducing solar-powered cars to their fleets, making the impact of these programs even more eco-friendly.

What you can do:

  • Join a car share program! As of July 2011, there were 26 such programs in the U.S., with more than 560,000 people sharing over 10,000 vehicles. Even if you don’t want to get rid of your own car, using a shared car when traveling in a city can greatly reduce the challenges of finding parking (car share programs have their own designated spots), as well as your environmental impact as you run errands or commute to work.

(10) Plant a garden

Whether you live in a studio loft or a suburban McMansion, growing your own vegetables is a simple way to bring fresh and nutritious food literally to your doorstep. Researchers at the FAO and the United Nations Development Programme estimate that 200 million city dwellers around the world are already growing and selling their own food, feeding some 800 million of their neighbors. Growing a garden doesn’t have to take up a lot of space, and in light of high food prices and recent food safety scares, even a small plot can make a big impact on your diet and wallet.

What you can do:

  • Plant some lettuce in a window box. Lettuce seeds are cheap and easy to find, and when planted in full sun, one window box can provide enough to make several salads worth throughout a season.

(11) Compost

And what better way to fertilize your garden than using your own composted organic waste. You will not only reduce costs by buying less fertilizer, but you will also help to cut down on food and other organic waste.

What you can do:

  • If you are unsure about the right ways to compost, websites such as HowToCompost.org and organizations such as the U.S. Composting Council, provide easy steps to reuse your organic waste.

(12) Reduce your meat consumption

Livestock production accounts for about 18 percent of all human-caused greenhouse gas emissions and accounts for about 23 percent of all global water used in agriculture. Yet global meat production has experienced a 20 percent growth rate since 2000 to meet the per capita increase of meat consumption of about 42 kilograms.

What you can do:

  • You don’t have to become a vegetarian or vegan, but by simply cutting down on the amount of meat you consume can go a long way. Consider substituting one meal day with a vegetarian option. And if you are unable to think of how to substitute your meat-heavy diet, websites such as Meatless Monday and Eating Well offer numerous vegetarian recipes that are healthy for you and the environment.

10 Ways to Go Green and Save Green

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10 Ways to Go Green and Save Green

How can we live lightly on the Earth and save money at the same time? Staff members at the Worldwatch Institute, a global environmental organization, share ideas on how to GO GREEN and SAVE GREEN at home and at work. To learn more about Worldwatch’s efforts to create am environmentally sustainable society that meets human needs, sign up here for weekly e-mail updates.

Climate change is in the news. It seems like everyone’s “going green.” We’re glad you want to take action, too. Luckily, many of the steps we can take to stop climate change can make our lives better. Our grandchildren-and their children-will thank us for living more sustainably. Let’s start now.

We’ve partnered with the Million Car Carbon Campaign to help you find ways to save energy and reduce your carbon footprint. This campaign is uniting conscious consumers around the world to prevent the emissions-equivalent of 1 million cars from entering the atmosphere each year.

Keep reading for 10 simple things you can do today to help reduce your environmental impact, save money, and live a happier, healthier life. For more advice, purchase State of the World 2010 – Transforming Cultures: From Consumerism to Sustainability, a report from 60 renowned researchers and practitioners on how to reorient cultures toward sustainability.

  1. Save energy to save money.
    • Set your thermostata few degrees lower in the winter and a few degrees higher in the summer to save on heating and cooling costs.
    • Install compact fluorescent light bulbs(CFLs) when your older incandescent bulbs burn out.
    • Unplug appliances when you’re not using them. Or, use a “smart” power stripthat senses when appliances are off and cuts “phantom” or “vampire” energy use.
    • Wash clothes in cold water whenever possible. As much as 85 percent of the energy used to machine-wash clothes goes to heating the water.
    • Use a drying rack or clothesline to save the energy otherwise used during machine drying.
  2. Save water to save money.
    • Take shorter showers to reduce water use. This will lower your water and heating bills too.
    • Install a low-flow showerhead. They don’t cost much, and the water and energy savings can quickly pay back your investment.
    • Make sure you have a faucet aeratoron each faucet. These inexpensive appliances conserve heat and water, while keeping water pressure high.
    • Plant drought-tolerant native plants in your garden. Many plants need minimal watering. Find out which occur naturally in your area.

     

  3. Less gas = more money (and better health!).
    • Walk or bike to work. This saves on gasand parking costs while improving your cardiovascular health and reducing your risk of obesity.
    • Consider telecommuting if you live far from your work. Or move closer. Even if this means paying more rent, it could save you money in the long term.
    • Lobby your local government to increase spending on sidewalks and bike lanes. With little cost, these improvements can pay huge dividends in bettering your health and reducing traffic.

     

  4. Eat smart.

     

  5. Skip the bottled water.

     

  6. Think before you buy.
     
    • Go online to find new or gently used secondhand products. Whether you’ve just moved or are looking to redecorate, consider a service like craigslist or FreeSharingto track down furniture, appliances, and other items cheaply or for free.
    • Check out garage sales, thrift stores, and consignment shops for clothing and other everyday items.
    • When making purchases, make sure you know what’s “Good Stuff” and what isn’t.
    • Watch a video about what happens when you buy things. Your purchases have a real impact, for better or worse.

     

  7. Borrow instead of buying.
    • Borrow from librariesinstead of buying personal books and movies. This saves money, not to mention the ink and paper that goes into printing new books.
    • Share power tools and other appliances. Get to know your neighbors while cutting down on the number of things cluttering your closet or garage.

     

  8. Buy smart.
    • Buy in bulk. Purchasing food from bulk bins can save money and packaging.
    • Wear clothes that don’t need to be dry-cleaned. This saves money and cuts down on toxic chemical use.
    • Invest in high-quality, long-lasting products. You might pay more now, but you’ll be happy when you don’t have to replace items as frequently (and this means less waste!).

     

  9. Keep electronics out of the trash.

     

  10. Make your own cleaning supplies.
    Million Car CampaignJoin the Million Car Carbon Campaign by purchasing your Earth-Aid kit today.

    • The big secret: you can make very effective, non-toxic cleaning productswhenever you need them. All you need are a few simple ingredients like baking soda, vinegar, lemon, and soap.
    • Making your own cleaning products saves money, time, and packaging-not to mention your indoor air quality.

http://www.worldwatch.org/node/3915