Tag Archives: world

Obama Talks Peace to Iran, But Dishes Out Violence

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Obama Talks Peace to Iran, But Dishes Out Violence

by Jamasb Madani, April 09, 2013

 

Four years ago, President Barack Obama quoted the beloved 13th century Persian poet Sa’di in his first Nowruz message to the Iranian people. The address, with its veneer of peace and diplomacy, was a well-received gesture to both civil society and the leadership in Tehran, recognizing the Islamic Republic and celebrating the country’s ancient culture and history.

In this year’s Nowruz message, on March 18, 2013, President Obama recited more medieval Persian poetry, this time a famous 14th century poem from Hafez about friendship.

An informal and casual survey of public opinion on the heels of this address suggest that Obama’s renewed efforts to tap the well of goodwill failed to resonate with many Iranians. This time around, Obama’s speech has been received a somewhat negative response.

Over the past few years, U.S. hostility and pressure toward Iran has reached a critical level. As a result of draconian sanctions and a resulting drastic drop in oil revenues, Iran’s economy, currency, and people are hurting.

Many essential and non-essential goods have been subject to sanctions, both old and new. Measures preventing the sale of spare airplane parts to Iran have long made air travel unsafe, threatening the well-being of civilian passengers. More recently, unilateral sanctions imposed by certain Western countries have cut Iran off from the international banking industry, resulting in severe shortages in medicines and rising food prices that place the lives of millions of Iranians at risk.

While Obama’s Nowruz messages represent an attempt to achieve a sort of ‘cultural connectedness’ between Americans and Iranians, the U.S. government seems unaware of how its policies and actions toward Iran cut against these efforts.

During Iran’s post-reform years in late 1990′s, certain key terms became central to the Reformist discourse. Concepts such as ‘pluralism’, ‘tolerance’ (tasahol/tasamoh), and especially the term “violence” (khoshoonat’garaee) took on a deeper and more comprehensive meaning.

Based on a wider reading of the concept of violence, Iranian civil society has not only viewed the assassination of its scientists as a direct form of violence, but has also considered unilateral and crippling sanctions to be instruments of violence against the Iranian people.

These and other similar measures undermine the administration’s attempts to appeal to Iranians’ cultural sensibilities. Ironically, as President Obama delivered his first Nowruz message in 2009, urging Iran’s government to “unclench” its fists, his administration was accelerating a covert, cyber warfare initiative launched by the Bush administration, codenamed “Olympic Games.”

In the years that followed, as Obama delivered other Nowruz messages, the United States conspired with Israel to develop and launch additional attacks of cyber-terrorism against Iran, such as Stuxnet and Flame.

In the Iranian public psyche, cyber attacks on Iran’s nuclear facilities are not mere technological sabotage, but rather instill collective fear and anxiety about damage to nuclear installations that threaten the safety of the Iranian population.

And let’s not forget the looming threat of direct military attack. With each passing year, and with every Nowruz message, the level of both real and potential American violence against Iran and Iranians has escalated.

As the targets of these threats, victims of collective punishment and the bearers of U.S.-imposed hardship, Iranians feel that Obama’s actions coupled with his recitation of the poetry of Sa’di or Hafez make for a disturbing juxtaposition.

In Hafez’s poetry and ethos, duplicity, hypocrisy, and pretense are considered major sins. It is fitting then that a group of democracy activists in Iran, in conversation with this writer, have suggested Obama reflect on the message of another Hafez poem:

Preachers who lecture others in the pulpit
in private, away from the public gaze, they do otherwise.
I have a concern; ask this question from the wise one in the group
those who order us to repent; they, themselves don’t consider any repentance?

Daryoush Mohammad Poor, an opposition activist who has translated the statements of former Iranian presidential candidate and reformist politician Mir Hossein Mousavi into English, was similarly offended by Obama’s Nowruz message this year.

In a critical essay posted in both Persian and English on his website, “Malakoot,” Mohammad Poor writes that the American-Iranian impasse is not binary. For instance, as he explains, just because he is connected with the Iranian opposition, does not mean he will be silent about the devastating and lethal effects of Obama’s policies on the people of Iran.

Mohammad Poor addresses Obama directly, writing, “Remember, Hafez was – and still is – a great social critic of the conditions of his time. His strength lay in his being outside the circle of power. He was the voice of the powerless. He was never a two-term president of a superpower nation. If he lived today, he would probably be highly critical of you, too, as he would be critical of the leaders of Iran.”

With few exceptions, the opposition in and outside Iran explicitly opposes both unilateral and UN Security Council sanctions against the country. The anti-imperial legacy of Iranian Prime Minister Mohammad Mossadeq, who was ousted during a CIA-led coup in 1953, still permeates the present Zeitgeist and ethos in Iran. As such, despite economic hardships and the relative popularity of Voice of America among some opposition members, so far the American/French/British axis has failed to cultivate any notable support for either foreign intervention or collaboration. As things currently stand, Iranians across the political spectrum blame the United States, and less, their own government, for their economic woes.

U.S. hegemonic domination has its internal contradictions and cannot avoid double standards, inconsistencies, and half-truths. But Hafez, the ‘elder of kharbat’, is precisely the antithesis of duplicity (riya). The term kharabat in Hafez’s poetry symbolizes a tavern, a gathering place where there is no pretense (tazvir), only the opportunity to be true to one another.

Those who threaten others with military aggression and destruction, those who unleash economic war and hardship and instill fear in the hearts of their victims, those who manipulate international organizations for their own ends, and make life difficult for so many people should not reference Hafez. In fact, Hafez is perhaps the last poet they should invoke, since his central message is to condemn hubris and selfishness (a’een khod’parasti).

A substantial number of Iranians believe that Barack Obama, who has relatives in Kenya and Indonesia, studied progressive politics at Columbia University and broke bread with public intellectuals like Edward Said, is a worldly, decent and dignified person.

But in the context of American hegemony, as the executor of oppressive policies toward Iran, Obama has become a perplexing puzzle for Iranians. For four years, Obama’s Nowruz messages have led the Iranian collective psyche to compartmentalize his various actions. The orchestrated hostility of the “American Regime,” the pain and suffering directed by the United States toward Iran are all changing this approach.

At the same time, the symbolism and dichotomy of Obama’s Nowruz messages, coupled with the history of U.S. structural violence against Iranian society, may provide a glimpse into the bigger picture behind Obama’s inconsistencies. In his capacity as president, Obama may have no choice but to bow to long-term American policies toward Iran. Many Iranians, in fact, maintain that the real culprit is not Obama, but rather an institutional form of thinking and worldview to which Obama himself is bound.

Unfortunately, it seems the president’s ideals are also victims of this power structure.

Rather than trying to appropriate Persian poetry to blunt American aggression, Obama would do well to heed the words of Hafez himself. Only then may he truly begin to pursue peace instead of issuing ultimatums. As Hafez poignantly observed,

Engage in love (of humanity) before it is too late; or the life-purpose given to you by the world will be wasted.

*Jamasb Madani is an architect and writer. His grandfather was an activist and strong supporter of Dr. Mohammad Mossadeq.

This piece was originally published at Mufta.org

 

http://original.antiwar.com/jamasb-madani/2013/04/08/obama-talks-peace-to-iran-but-dishes-out-violence/

Mayans and Tibetan Monks Join Forces in the Name of Peace, Harmony and Freedo

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Mayans and Tibetan Monks Join Forces in the Name of Peace, Harmony and Freedom

The 2nd Mayan-Tibetan Bicultural Encounter concluded activities in the environmentally friendly Hacienda Tres Ríos Resort, Spa & Nature Park 

 

Cancún, Quintana Roo (PRWEB) September 27, 2012

In a call for peace, harmony and freedom for all people, the Tibetan Monks of the Drepung Loseling Monastery as well as Mayan representatives concluded their participation in the 2nd Mayan-Tibetan Bicultural Encounter, held at Hacienda Tres Ríos Resort, Spa & Nature Park.

In the presence of a number of tourists, special guests and those who enjoy these two cultures, the Tibetan monks destroyed the Tara Blanca Mandala, which was crafted during the five days of the encounter. This action was carried out as the final activity of the encounter to symbolize the transitory nature of life.

Deputy Vice President of Sales and Marketing of Hacienda Tres Ríos, Daniel Arroyo emphasized that the encounter met with all expectations to transmit a message of peace and respect of nature that is so lacking in our world today.

Arroyo also disclosed that because of the success of the second edition of event, there will be a third bicultural encounter in September 2013. The program will include more conferences, meditations and teachings that are sure to fill participants with good vibes and positive thoughts.

From September 12 to 16, the 2nd Mayan-Tibetan Bicultural Encounter brought together a group of nine Tibetan monks, Mayan dancers and representatives, the founder of Casa Tibet, Tony Karam, as well as a number of researchers and speakers of both cultures, who spoke on the principle teachings and philosophies of these two incredible civilizations.

The encounter included a presentation of Sacred Mayan and Tibetan Music and Dance in the Teatro de Cancún, as well as a photo exhibit, rituals and healing and meditation ceremonies (both group and individual). There were also meditations involving positive energy and the search for peace and harmony through ancient techniques.

As part of the closing activities of the encounter, Tony Karam, founder of Casa Tibet, presented a conference on Buddhism which covered relaxation and meditation techniques, as well as the principle doctrines of this religion.

Daniel Arroyo thanked the Tibetan monks, Mary Coba of Producciones Arte Maya, as well as the hotel collaborators who helped make this event a total success, accomplishing the objective of sending a message of love and hope to all of humanity.

http://www.prweb.com/releases/2012/9/prweb9947130.htm

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

I was here

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08.19.2012
World Humanitarian Day

2012 Theme: “I Was Here”

World Humanitarian Day is a time to recognize those who face danger and adversity in order to help others. The day was designated by the General Assembly to coincide with the anniversary of the 2003 bombing of the United Nations headquarters in Baghdad, Iraq, which killed 22 UN staff.

Every day humanitarian aid workers help millions of people around the world, regardless of who they are and where they are. World Humanitarian Day is a global celebration of people helping people.

This year’s campaign “I Was Here” is about making your mark by doing something good, somewhere, for someone else.

To show your support for World Humanitarian Day visit http://www.whd-iwashere.org

http://www.whd-iwashere.org/

Drought to Cause Dairy, Meat, Other Food Prices to Rise

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Drought to Cause Dairy, Meat, Other Food Prices to Rise

http://www.accuweather.com/en/weather-news/drought-to-cause-dairy-and-mea/68503

By , Expert Senior Meteorologist
Jul 28, 2012

Be on the lookout for higher food prices in general in 2013. However, the greatest impact is likely to be on meat and dairy prices as livestock feed shortfalls caused by the Drought of 2012 catch up with producers and consumers.


While some improvement in terms of drought have occurred over the Upper Midwest and Eastern states in the past week, drought conditions continue to amplify over much of the middle of the nation, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s United States Drought Monitor.

Processed foods are not as heavily impacted by the drought.

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) states that this year’s ongoing drought will push up food prices in general 2013 by 3 to 4 percent, outpacing typical yearly inflation.


AccuWeather.com meteorologists are projecting that additional episodes of rain and lower temperatures are in store from the Upper Midwest into the Ohio Valley moving forward through August, but frequent extreme heat and very limited rain will continue over a large part of the central and southern Plains through the middle of the month.

However, the percentage price increase on meat and dairy products could be greater.

According to Dr. James W. Dunn, Professor of Agricultural Economics at the Pennsylvania State University, “During the past two years, we have used more corn than we have produced. We don’t have as much of a buffer going into this year’s harvest, which will be smaller than originally expected.”

The greatest and most immediate impact will be on livestock feed, followed by trickle down impact on meat and dairy products.

“Thirty-five percent of the United States’ corn crop is used as animal feed. Ninety-five percent of animal feed is made up of corn. The rest is made up of sorghum, hay, soybeans and other additives to achieve the desired nutritional value to the animals,” Dunn stated.

While corn is largely irreplaceable in terms of feed, sorghum, hay and soybeans (protein source) are also being negatively impacted by the drought.

The United States is the number one exporter of corn in the world.

Lower exports will impact livestock producers worldwide.

In order to battle higher prices for animal feed beef, pork and poultry producers will initially butcher or sell some of their livestock, causing prices to “initially” fall or hold steady.

Some meat and dairy producers are already straining from high feed prices in recent years may go under.

The initial surge of meat on the market will eventually be depleted. Once this happens, meat prices are likely to climb.

“Significant food shortages are not likely. However, expensive food creates problems for the very poor,” Dunn said.

In some parts of the world, such as Mexico, corn is a major part of the diet and impacts there may be much greater than others.

This summer, much higher-than-average temperatures and drought are also negatively affecting milk production.

During extreme heat, cows are stressed and provide less milk. In addition, poor grass quality also restricts the amount of milk dairy cows produce.

 

“We have already begun to see milk prices rise this summer,” Dunn said.

Additional price increases in milk and other dairy products are possible this fall and winter. Even as temperatures fall during the change of seasons, the impact of high feed prices on producers will continue.

“From an agricultural standpoint, we could start off 2013 on the wrong foot,” Dunn stated.

In addition to lower reserves of animal feed, the impact of an El Niño pattern this fall and winter could result in the same conditions that contributed to the dry soil conditions this spring and summer.

Warmer sea surface temperatures in tropical Pacific waters, which define an El Niño, often bring above-normal temperatures and below-normal snowfall to a large part of the Plains and Midwest.

Spring snow melt is a major contributor to soil moisture and holding back temperatures into the first part of the summer.

 

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. 

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

In Venezuela’s prisons, inmates are the wardens

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In Venezuela’s prisons, inmates are the wardens

There’s always a party, everyone is armed, and prisoners sometimes engage in gladiatorial fights to the death.

May 14, 2012 06:22

 

CARACAS, Venezuela — A cloud of marijuana bounces along with the bass line from a stack of six-foot high speakers in the corner of this large hall, its smell infused with that of urine.

Through the darkness, noise and the bustling crowd, it takes a moment before you notice that everyone here is carrying a machine gun, a rifle or pistol — not slung over their backs or tucked into their pants, but menacingly prone. Others toss grenades up and down or sharpen knives while enjoying the cocktail of drugs and music.

Outside the makeshift club, the Venezuelan sun bathes a small soccer field. Supporters are armed and one player even goes in for tackles with a pistol in hand. Corridors in the building are lined with gunmen, smiling and joking, seemingly unaware of their own terror.

Prison guards are nowhere to be seen here at La Planta, a typical Venezuelan jail that often sees gunfights and riots.

“If the guards mess with us, we shoot them,” says one prisoner, asking not to be identified. “I’ve seen a man have his head cut off and people play football with it.” Others who have spent time inside, as well as videos that appear online, corroborate his stories.

Last year, about 500 people were killed in Venezuela’s prisons, according to the Venezuelan Prisons Observatory. Inmates frequently clash with each other, prison guards and soldiers who are sent in to maintain control during riots.

And now the guns inside La Planta are going off. The government is now trying to shut down the prison, though a group of inmates refusing to leave have kept authorities at bay for nearly two weeks. Troops are gathered outside along with hundreds of worried relatives.

Read more: In-depth series on Latin America’s prison problems

An identical situation took place last June when more than 5,000 troops spent a month trying to quell an uprising at El Rodeo jail, just outside Caracas.

“We face a truly serious prison crisis in which the state has not shown up with solutions and this has led to chaos,” said Carlos Nieto, a lawyer and university professor who runs Window to Freedom, a local prison watchdog.

“There are huge problems with the prisons here in Venezuela,” he said. “The inmates do absolutely nothing; they don’t study, work or anything. On top of this is the access to weapons, drugs and alcohol.”

A deficient and corrupt staff as well as severe overcrowding, Nieto added, contribute to an “explosive cocktail,” which detonates frequently. Indeed, the day GlobalPost visited the human rights specialist, the front page of the country’s national newspaper, El Nacional, published a story about 18 deaths that took place the previous weekend inside several jails.

The country’s 30 prisons are designed to hold 12,500 inmates. But in reality, they house just under 50,000, according to Window to Freedom. In La Planta — built to house 350 in 1964 but now housing about 2,500 — many inmates sleep in the corridors, with rats scurrying in between them.

“The conditions are deplorable, inhumane,” Nieto said.

There are reports of gladiatorial contests in the country’s other complexes, fights organized by gang leaders in which contenders battle to the bloody end for the entertainment of inmates. It was one of these bouts that left two dead and 128 injured in February at a jail in Uribana, western Venezuela.

La Planta itself saw a fire break out in 1996 after authorities fired tear gas inside. Local newspapers reported that 25 prisoners burned to death, their bones glued to the prison furniture. Two years earlier, 130 inmates were burned or hacked to death at a prison in the country’s western state of Zulia.

More from GlobalPost: Peru prison — from pot smoke to pottery class

It is not only weapons that are easy to obtain within prison walls. Mobile phones and computers, hooked up to the internet, are commonplace. With such access to the outside, inmates can control and partake in gang activities that no doubt exacerbate Caracas’ already troubled streets — with one of the highest murder rates in the world.

Gangsters, who have worked their way up the prison hierarchy, control the sites and therefore the flow of weapons. Nieto blames “functionaries of the state” for the weapons inside, adding that it is a “big business run by an internal mafia.” The type of weaponry, Nieto said, indicates a high level of corruption. “They have the types of weapons that can only be obtained by the country’s armed forces. … No one else has these.”

Last year, after President Hugo Chavez went silent before announcing that he was suffering from cancer, the El Rodeo riots became a major political issue for the country. On the president’s return to action, Iris Varela was appointed as new prisons minister and she quickly came up with a quick-fix solution.

Some 20,000 inmates would be released onto the streets of Caracas, which already has a murder rate comparable to that of Baghdad during the Iraq War.

“In prison, there are people that do not pose a danger to society,” she said. “They can be handled outside prison.”

The murder rate in Venezuela last year averaged 67 per 100,000 people, according to the Venezuelan Violence Observatory, which labelled it “the most violent year in the nation’s history.”

Nieto blames the country’s prison problems on Chavez, who has not succeeded in his pledge to revamp the system.

More from GlobalPost: The Argentine economy’s fuzzy math problem

Chavez himself was locked up after the 1992 coup attempt that launched his career. Despite failing, the coup turned Chavez into a national icon, standing up against what many saw as the corrupt rule of then-President Carlos Andres Perez.

In his biography of Venezuela’s president, author Bart Jones writes that Chavez was horrified as guards failed to intervene when a man was raped and murdered in a cell above him.

“Today, the prisons are much worse than before Chavez arrived,” Nieto said.

In the long line to leave La Planta, visitors are numbed to the horror of what they have witnessed inside. They see it every weekend.

Going the other way are two young men, carrying duffel bags and — no matter what their crime — an innocence they will almost certainly lose in order to survive inside.