Thursday, October 28, 2010

The Women's Harvest: What's beyond the Rhetoric?


Kabul, Afghanistan.

After a week visiting Bamiyan, a rural Afghan Province, one thing has been made abundantly clear to me: the experience of being a woman in this country is much different than being a woman in the United States. Here, the inescapable and indelible fact of gender colors social interactions, far more so than back home. But being a woman has also created safe spaces of inclusion within the village’s maternal system, from which I would have otherwise been kept at a distance.

Time and time again, after meeting with the men in the family, I was led into a separate room to visit with the women, who had gathered there and were waiting eagerly for us with their children. Immediately, an exchange began, a series of greetings, smiles, thanksgivings, and comments about the style of my clothes, quality of my hands, or strangeness of my backpack. Daughters and granddaughters would join us, children at their feet, each little face more beautiful than the last.

When we met with women and men together, the men tended to be the focal point, dominating the conversation. In the absence of their male counterparts, the women, adorned in vibrant cloths, filled the sparsely furnished rooms with stories and laughter. In this conservative Afghan village, one woman shared with us the heartbreaking experience of having her husband kidnapped and killed by the Taliban - and raising her kids, now teenagers, without the breadwinner of the house. She looked down at her wrinkled hands and paused before telling us of her struggles with depression. “We age so quickly here” she reflected, looking up at me, circles under her eyes. Her skin was weathered and worn, bearing the years of harsh living conditions and inadequate nutrition. I would have guessed she was in her late 50s – she is in fact only 38.

A doctor who has been living in rural Afghanistan for eight years spoke with us about the medical realities these women have to face – lives burdened with the physical manifestations of the recollections of war. They have developed strong coping mechanisms to handle the severe headaches, depression, and anemia that plague their daily lives.

While sitting alone with Afghan women, we learned much about their way of life and the disappointments they share as a result of living in an occupied land. While in the past, village women were married around 13, many now marry at 19 or 20 and then move in with their husband’s family. Nasreen, a young woman who was recently married, told us of her “half happy, half sad” feelings of leaving her family for an arranged marriage in a neighboring village. The women only leave their village once a year and then only to go to the market; they make this trip clad in full burqas. For generations, these women have been identified by the existence of their children, spending their time tending to the needs of their large families in a pastoral culture. “We are all illiterate”, said the 38-year-old mother, “so we harvest potatoes.”

However, three of the young women we met now go to school and revealed to us in English their hopes to become doctors. Their mothers and aunts looked on, smiling. All of the women think things will be better with an education. And as we asked about the war, it was clear that memories of fleeing from the Taliban rushed into the room. But the women certainly did not communicate their favor with the ongoing U.S. and NATO occupations of their country.

“It’s all rhetoric and words that America is defending the rights of women”, said an articulate young woman named Zerghuna. With women and children dying daily not only from being caught in the crossfire, but also from the effects of poverty, malnutrition, and lack of available health care, they are skeptical about the justifications used by foreign forces around women’s rights. Zerghuna wishes that the world would see to it that the efforts to improve the rights of women were actually implemented, and that the billions of dollars allocated to aid organizations would reach the intended recipients – the poor. “They should come here and see that something happens, because nothing does.”

When asked about the system of government in Afghanistan and what they would request of it, the women asked for a few more hours of electricity a night. Other than that? “Help us find good, dignified work to take care of our families”, said one of the mothers. The others nodded in agreement.

(Published as "It's All Rhetoric and Words" The Women's Harvest and posted at Counterpunch October 26, 2010)

Jerica Arents, Kathy Kelly, and David Smith-Ferri are co-coordinators of Voices for Creative Nonviolence. They are traveling around Afghanistan. Jerica can be reached at:

Or go to the website for more interesting articles at

By the way, this group have been the most courageous and immediate among all our US activists to react strongly against the immorality of the drones over Pakistan/Afghanistan or wherever...

Monday, October 25, 2010

Israel's Treatment of Palestinian Children

Is it really much better than other extremist treatment?

Bedoin School Girls (See Wall Writings post below)

"Children have been shot in other conflicts I have covered—death squads gunned them down in El Salvador and Guatemala, mothers with infants were lined up and massacred in Algeria, and Serb snipers put children in their sights and watched them crumple onto the pavement in Sarajevo—but I have never before watched soldiers entice children like mice into a trap and murder them for sport."

Right after 911 I was in a bookstore looking for something relevant and left the store with a Harper's Magazine which came out AFTER 911 - this was highlighted in an unusual way on the front cover with the quote above on this post from a particular Chris Hedges article which he'd written BEFORE 911...The entire article is a must read for any not yet familiar with the treatment of so many Palestinian children:
Chris Hedges, "A Gaza Diary", Harper's Magazine, October 2001 here

Here's TODAY's - this is NINE years after Hedges article:

Israel Shooting and Electric-Shocking Palestinian Children

By Stephen Lendman
Al-Jazeerah, CCUN, October 25, 2010

Defence for Children International (DCI) Palestine Section (DCI/Palestine) "is a national section of the international non-government child rights organisation and movement (dedicated) to promoting and protecting the rights of Palestinian children," according to international law principles.

Two earlier articles addressed their work, accessed though the following links:

Imprisoning Palestinian Children

Israeli Soldiers Sexual Abuse of Children

Both covered Israel's systematic, institutionalized use of torture of Palestinian children as brutally as against adults. DCI/Palestine's latest September Bulletin adds more, saying:

"For the first time....three (documented) cases of children reporting being given electric shocks by Israeli interrogators (occurred) in Ari'el Settlement." Each was accused of stone throwing. Electric shocking extracted confessions although the boys maintain their innocence.

DCI and PACTI (the Public Committee Against Torture in Israel) demanded Israel investigate reports that a Gush Etzion settlement interrogator "attached car battery jump leads to the genitals of a 14-year old boy in order to obtain a confession to stone throwing."

The August 5 incident involved four boys walking near a road used by settlers when an Israeli jeep approached. "Just for fun," one boy waved. The jeep turned, was joined by others, and chased the boys. They were seized, blindfolded, painfully shackled, detained, and taken to the Zufin settlement, then to the Ari'el settlement where one boy, Raed, was interrogated.

Though innocent, "Threat of electrocution" made him confess to stone throwing, after which his head was slammed against a cupboard. He was also punched in the stomach, and a second interrogator shocked him with a handheld device, making him dizzy and shiver. He then signed a confession in Hebrew he couldn't understand, was transferred to Salem Interrogation and Detention Center, after which he was taken to Megiddo Prison, in violation of Fourth Geneva's Article 76, pertaining to the rights assured protected persons detained under occupation.

A second incident involved a 17-year old boy, Malek, falsely accused of throwing stones and Molotov cocktails. About 30 soldiers arrested and brutalized him like Raed before transferring him to Ofer Prison. On arrival, he was painfully struck on the head, then interrogated and threatened with physical violence and rape if he didn't confess. "He denied both accusations" during a two hour interrogation.

On September 15, 13-year old Khalil was arrested and accused of throwing a Molotov cocktail. At 1AM, Israeli soldiers smashed windows of his family's home, searched it, and took him to Ma'ale Adumin settlement. Though innocent, he was threatened with rape and intimidated to confess. He signed a six page document in Hebrew he didn't understand and has been detained at Ofer prison.

An earlier incident involved 16 year old Moatasem, arrested on March 20. He remains in administrative detention without charge or trial, at best hoping for a December release. Like the others, from arrest to detention, he was brutalized. During interrogation, he was asked about a plot involving a riot, bullets and weapons with no further explanation, something he knew nothing about and said so. On March 25, he was ordered administratively held for six months, then extended three more on September 26.

On average, from January 2008 - September 2010, Israel held over 300 Palestinian children captive, about 10% of them aged 12 - 15. Usually when complaints or requests for investigations into child arrests and mistreatment are submitted to the Judge Advocate General's Office (JAG), responses aren't forthcoming or issued raised are denied.

Shooting Children Collecting Building Gravel

Separately, DCI/Palestine reported on 12 incidents from May 22 - October 14, 2010, involving children aged 13 - 17, collecting gravel near Gaza's border fence with Israel. Under siege, Israel banned construction materials, forcing hundreds of men and boys to scavenge for what they can find, collecting gravel, placing it in sacks, loading it on donkeys, then selling it to builders for concrete.

In border watch towers, Israeli soldiers at times shoot and kill donkeys. They also target workers, usually shooting at their legs. In recent DCI/Palestine-documented cases, children reported being shot while working from 50 - 800 meters from the border.

In addition, a UN January 2009 - August 2010 study reported at least 22 Gazan civilians killed and 146 injured by live fire adjacent to Israel's border, including 27 children...

READ more here

October 23, 2010...2:00 pm
I Must Write As Long As Israeli Settlers Burn Palestinian Schools

by James M. Wall on his blogsite: "Wall Writings"

...The American public does not know about the Israeli settlers who set fire to a Palestinian girls’ school building near Nablus this past week. Juan Cole, whose Informed Comment blog is a flashing light of warning to the American public, tells the story of the attack on the school:

The phrase “ethnic cleansing” conjures up a swift, comprehensive act of expulsion. But in reality, moving a large population off its land is the death of a thousand cuts, a slow, inexorable process of stealing property, harassment, forcing people into a condition of malnutrition.

The Native Americans in the Americas, the Aborigines in Australia, and the Palestinians in Israel/Palestine were only sometimes forced off their land suddenly and en masse. The gradual processes told, in the long run.

The amazing thing about what is being done to the Palestinians in the Palestinian West Bank by Israeli illegal aliens is that it is happening in full view of the world, reported on by wire services, and yet remains invisible to Western publics.

The world reacts in horror when the Taliban in Afghanistan torch girls’ schools. But Israeli squatters just set fire to the store room of a Palestinian girls’ school, and the whole school would have gone up in flames if that warehouse had not been near a water main. The Israeli illegals left behind graffiti saying ‘regards from the hills.’...

...Ziad Abbas works for the Middle East Children’s Alliance on a project to bring clean water to the children of Palestine. He grew up in Palestine. He writes in Counter Punch, that his work is especially personal to him because of his own childhood experiences of growing up deprived of water...

...I write about these things because American churches are still hung up on not offending their Jewish neighbors, thus choosing interfaith harmony over justice.

I write about these things because major denominational meetings, like this past summer’s General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church, USA, dickered and delayed and finally decided to study further how they might best deal with the “problems” in the Middle East.

Since that Presbyterian GA meeting, two-year-old Abu Lasheen died waiting for permission to travel to an Israeli hospital. Since that meeting, Israeli settlers set fire to a Palestinian girls school, leaving behind graffiti on the wall that said, “regards from the hills”. Something about the insensitive arrogance of that graffiti implies there was not enough room on the wall to add, in Clint Eastwoodian fashion, “we’ll be back.”

I write about the American media’s blindness to the narrative of the suffering in Palestine because Tom Friedman continues to fool his liberal readers by pretending to criticize Israel when his criticism always includes the AIPAC approved list of what he insists are “facts”, but which are either outright lies or distortions of reality.

The most recent example was Friedman’s October 20 column which calls on Israel to help President Obama line up world opposition to Iran by reaching a friendly agreement with Palestinian negotiators.

Friedman opens his column with a set of “stubborn facts” which are really just a repeat of the acceptable Israeli narrative which, of course, he assures his readers are “stubborn facts”. Only, they are not...

...Iran’s President Ahmedinejad never used the phrase, “wipe Israel off the map”. That was an initial mistranslation into English which the media loved and never let go. The media has refused, as Friedman does here, to go back and obtain the original statement by Ahmedinejad in a speech he gave to a Persian audience.

The Iranian president was quoting an ancient statement by Iran’s first Islamist leader, the late Ayatollah Khomeini, when he said that “this regime occupying Jerusalem must vanish from the page of time” just as the Shah’s regime in Iran had vanished.

He was not making a military threat. He was calling for an end to the occupation of Jerusalem at some point in the future. The “page of time” phrase suggests he did not expect it to happen soon. There was no implication that either Khomeini, when he first made the statement, or Ahmadinejad, in repeating it, felt it was imminent, or that Iran would be involved in bringing it about.

...sources have confirmed that Israel’s invasion plans were already on the drawing board when a border skirmish erupted, giving Israel the excuse it wanted to launch a war that, indeed, “brought death, injury and destruction to thousands of Lebanese.”

Who brought those deaths, injuries and destruction to the Lebanese? Israel, of course.

Careful research would quickly demonstrate to Friedman and every other pro-Israel pundit and politician that Friedman’s “stubborn facts” are either false or distorted.

I will continue to write on Israel and Palestine as long as pundits like Thomas Friedman have access to the pages of the New York Times, and the American public remains ignorant of the actual facts on the ground in Israel and Palestine.

The photo at the top ... is of two Bedouin girls, in school uniform, returning to their houses after a school day in Abu Farda near the West Bank city of Qalqilia on October 6, 2010. (MaanImages/Khaleel Reash)

READ this article in full here

found at electronicintifada with this article here A Palestinian teenager shot in the ankle while scavenging for building material, October 2010. (Anne Paq/ActiveStills)EREZ CROSSING, occupied Gaza Strip (IPS) - Crossing through the metal-caged tunnel that leads from the Israeli side of the boundary into northern Gaza towards the Palestinian checkpoint, several groups of young Palestinian men and boys can be seen scavenging through piles of rubble.

Earlier this year, there was quite a piece on "Double Standards..." at here

"Right and wrong are the same in Palestine as anywhere else. What is peculiar about the Palestine conflict is that the world has listened to the party that has committed the offence and has turned a deaf ear to the victims."
–Prof. Arnold Toynbee, Foreword to the Transformation of Palestine, 1971

"Israel may have the right to put others on trial, but certainly no one has the right to put the Jewish people and the State of Israel on trial."
–Ariel Sharon

"Well, it's a trick, we always use it. When from Europe somebody is criticizing Israel then we bring up the holocaust. When in this country US) people are criticizing Israel then they are anti-Semitic. And the organization (Israel Lobby) is very strong and has lot of money. And the ties between Israel and American Jewish establishment are very strong – and they are strong in this country as you know. And they have power which is ok."
–Shulamit Aloni, Former Israeli Minister of Education, On Democracy Now, August 14, 2002

Honorable President of Harvard University Dr. Drew Faust
Honorable Members of the Board of Directors
Harvard Faculty Members
Harvard Student Organizations

Dear Madame President Faust;

I must strenuously and in the strongest terms possible protest the silence and inaction of Harvard University toward the outrageous, inhumane, offensive, even racist eugenic proposal that Dr. Martin Kramer, a Visiting Scholar at Harvard made during his speech at the Israeli Herzliya Conference on January 31, 2010.

In that speech Dr. Kramer implored the West to stop its Pro Natal services to the already besieged and starving Gaza Palestinian pregnant mothers and infants as a method of controlling the rapid birth rate in Gaza as a matter of political and social policy. To him such control will naturally lead to a decrease in the radicalization of Palestinian youth which he calls "superfluous men" as well as relieve the "demographic threat" to Israel's Jewish identity.

How racist is the term "superfluous men" to describe young Palestinian men who are constant fodder for Israeli soldier's bullets, missiles, and tank shells (as soldiers themselves have told "Break the Silence" group of former IDF Soldiers) as unnecessary and wasteful human beings.

Dr. Kramer's eugenic proposal not to provide Pro Natal care, which I take he means Pre and Post Natal care, is tantamount to genocide of fetuses and infants. Pregnant mothers would not receive the preventive care, regular OB exams, nutritional guidance (such as providing Folic Acid and Vitamins given their already malnourished state), appropriate vaccines or a healthy medically supervised delivery in hospitals, which all are damaged by Israel's assault on Gaza in 2008-2009. Infants would not receive the necessary medical care, or intensive care if necessary (difficult given the lack of electricity, oxygen, or antibiotics in Gaza), regular immunizations, nutritional guidance, or regular Pediatric checkups. Dr. Kramer shouldn't worry about a Palestinian population explosion; Israel's militarily with our tax dollars and weapons is determined not to leave any Palestinian child behind.

His proposal meets the accepted definition of eugenics, passive euthanasia, and genocide and no amount of spin cover up, rationalization, justification, taken out of context lies; nor the canard of Freedom of Speech that's available to Pro Israelite hate mongers to the exclusion of Pro Justice proponents for Palestinians and peace in the Holy Land.

In addition to Israel's three year physical devastating siege of Gaza, Dr. Kramer is proposing another physical and medical siege, this time of a Palestinian woman's womb that would ultimately result in a secondary ethnic cleansing of Palestinians that has continued unabated since 1947...


"The Death of Liberalism" By Chris Hedges

The lunatic fringe of the Republican Party, which looks set to make sweeping gains in the midterm elections, is the direct result of a collapse of liberalism. It is the product of bankrupt liberal institutions, including the press, the church, universities, labor unions, the arts and the Democratic Party.

The legitimate rage being expressed by disenfranchised workers toward the college-educated liberal elite, who abetted or did nothing to halt the corporate assault on the poor and the working class of the last 30 years, is not misplaced. The liberal class is guilty.

The liberal class, which continues to speak in the prim and obsolete language of policies and issues, refused to act. It failed to defend traditional liberal values during the long night of corporate assault in exchange for its position of privilege and comfort in the corporate state.

The virulent right-wing backlash we now experience is an expression of the liberal class’ flagrant betrayal of the citizenry...

READ MORE, see announcement of Chris Hedges latest book and find original article at Truth Dig dot com here

(slight departure from Hedges in paragraphing above - for emphasis.)

Brief note by blogger, Connie: Let's trust that Hedges will have some solutions in his new book. Nevertheless, his courageous voice is certainly exclaiming realities so easily ignored in the smokescreens of party and creed rhetoric - to all our destruction - unless we pay heed and act accordingly.

The following URLS are really a REQUEST for dialogue - not definitive statements since who knows if any of these groups are not really so bad as indicated?

Yet this interesting theory may be one more link as to why just why the US is seeking to occupy in some sense Pakistan beyond some possible well-meant motives from the Empire way of thinking? Skim here and here See other items from Dr Stuart Jeanne Bramhall

I haven't had the time yet to do proper research. Surely some groups such as Nation magazine which sponsors Jonathan Schahill's work to expose Blackwater and some groups such as Ford sponsored -'s Krista Tippet's Speaking of Faith now Being are healing and bridges to truth? Actually and surprisingly I tho't that a Soros-endowed organization recently was able to expose rampant ongoing abuse in Afghanistan detention centers run by US military? Why would they do that if they were being supported by an entirely CIA-monopolized group?

Nevertheless there may be a lot more damage control use of innocent groups to cover the massive long-term and currently accelerated destruction of everything good related to the standard/traditional/good corporation only/ democratic core/constitutionally-based ethics/groups/leadership...accerating out from the US of A today...

Which lead me to a final thought...let's not so easily push aside ALL CONVERSATION RELATED TO SPIRIT including interfaith dialogues, the best of the great literature and of artists, deep ethics, global village values the process dyanamics and ways of being love/charity/provision of opportunity in a devastated and degenerate society...there's so much that's key for recovery of our souls today which are too often missed and glossed over in both our mainstream and our alternative/independent daily or weekly media...

No, we simply can't just get bay with the same ol' same ol' catagories and quick divisions any matter the recognizable categories such as socialism, liberalism, kinder capitalism, etc....

And as far as a living spirituality, this too has beauties we'd be so deprived to throw out...

the giants and "babies" of a wiser and/or more innocent society have had visions we so need today and have thrown out with the murky bath water....

Here's one little thought from a work in progress by a friend:

On Communism and Capitalism:

"Communism puts the seed of equality in the stomach rather than the heart, but unless equality is rooted in the heart it canot take roots in the body either. Capitalism doesn't have a heart in the first place." (I don't want to share the source for this one quite yet as this should be seen in context...yet the brief, recognizable lens of history and Hedges article fit this conversation so well, I tho't this bit quite appropriate.)

Photo above is from Texas Liberal here

Saturday, October 23, 2010

FLOODS: Pakistan: returning home to rebuild lives before onset of winter

International Committee of the Red Cross/Red Crescent - English site of Peshawar area / Pakistan

Photo below is from Doctors Without Borders (MSF) - A photo of one distribution stop.

Key facts (from the BBC):

*Heavy monsoon rains in north west Pakistan have caused rivers to burst their banks

*At least 1,600 people are believed to have been killed and entire villages have been swept away

*Some 20 million people have been affected and 6 million are in urgent need of food aid, according to the UN*Around $460m is required for immediate needs, around $275m has been donated so far

(These above stats of course vary from source to source. See the BBC URL end of this post)

Islamabad/Peshawar (ICRC) – As floodwaters recede in the north of the country, the first thought of those displaced is to return to their homes and resume their lives. Whether because of fighting or floods, millions of Pakistanis have made this return journey in the last two years.

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and the Pakistan Red Crescent Society continue to support them in their efforts to overcome adversity and rebuild their lives."It takes real courage to return to devastated homes and fields and start the rebuilding process. As winter approaches in the north-west of Pakistan, this is also a race against the clock," said Peter Schamberger, who coordinates the ICRC's economic-security activities in Pakistan.

"In order to restore livelihoods in the shortest possible time, returnees are anxious to plant the annual cereal crop before the mid-November planting deadline, and prepare for winter. As seed, fertilizer and farm tools were lost during the flooding, this task had become almost impossible in many parts of the country."
From the news release # 10/188

Also READ specifics on the Pakistan site here


Pakistan: Summary of MSF's Flood Response October 20, 2010Pakistan 2010

Since the beginning of the floods, Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) has:

* Conducted 56,991 consultations through 5 hospitals, 7 mobile clinics and 6 Diarrhea Treatment Centers* Treated more than 3,634 malnourished children

* Distributed 1,250,400 liters of clean water per day and built 714 latrines* Distributed a total of 58,270 relief item kits and 14,538 tents

MSF has 125 international staff are working alongside nearly 1,200 Pakistani staff in MSF’s existing and flood response programs in Pakistan. Expenditures for the emergency response to the floods have reached approximately € 7 million ($9.7 million).

MSF’s 2010 budget for its normal operations in Pakistan is approximately € 10.9 million ($15.2 million).Ten weeks after the first floods hit Pakistan, the flood waters in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Punjab provinces have largely receded and people have begun to return to what remains of their homes.

In Sindh and Balochistan provinces, Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) teams continue to assist displaced people with not only immediate needs such as health care and clean water but also transitional shelters until their situation is stabilized.

Medical Activities:

Medical teams continue to run mobile clinic activities across Sindh province.

In southern Sindh, in the districts of Jamshoro, Dadu, Johi, and Sehwan, the number of cases of Diarrhea and skin diseases (which were the main causes of morbidity at the beginning of the floods) have decreased significantly. However, the teams have been seeing an increase in the number of patients suffering from "general body pain" and fatigue (about 45 percent of the consultations). These symptoms are likely the result of the excessive stress that came with losing homes, poor access to food and safe water, and generally unhygienic living conditions in camps and shelters.

Therefore, the team has started mental health activities, individual and group counseling, for almost 600 patients.

In the district of Johi, more than 1,000 medical consultations have been conducted since the team started mobile clinic activities two weeks ago.MSF medical teams also continue nutrition screening—using the mid-upper arm circumference (MUAC) test—and malnutrition treatment in both Balochistan and Sindh provinces.

In Dera Murad Jamali, where the team is running five ambulatory therapeutic feeding centers (ATFCs), the number of children enrolled in the program increased significantly following the floods, due to either food insecurity or the addition of displaced people to the local population.

A surgical team at work in Balochistan. Constant population movements in the aftermath of the floods make it more challenging for the ambulatory feeding program team to ensure that children admitted to the program complete treatment.

So far, in Dera Murad Jamali, the team has treated 2,098 malnourished or severely malnourished children through both ATFCs and Intensive Therapy Feeding Centers (ITFCs).

In Sukkur, in addition to treating at least 150 severely malnourished children in the ITFC, the team has started ATFC to cover more malnourished children in and around Sukkur...

READ MORE from Doctors Without Borders here

InshAllah - I do want to feature more here from local groups' courageous and effective humanitarian work in the near future.

Last Updated 19 October 2010 - See more from BBC here

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Fragility, Communion and the Evolution of our Humanity

If you have the time, plz try to listen to this remarkable interview in either the short version or the unedited version. This Vietnamese/French geologist Xavier Le Pichon who worked on/with the Tsunamis and I wonder if since the Pakistan floods he's also been working to help Pakistanis with Geophysics as well? He was born in Vietnam and somehow remained all his life within the tradition of deep faith - which included inner conversations of sorts with various prophets and also with much earlier ages - despite the horrors of war, the relavations of science, philosophy and so much else.

He was in a concentration camp near the Pacific Ocean where he said many babies were dying yet where he was with his family and where he was drawn to the Ocean and the Earth as a Living Being. This is how and when he was also drawn to Geophysics where he became an authority of underwater plate tectonic research in submersible vehicles. He began asking questions to/of the Earth and says if you ask the right questions you actually get answers. He said "I've entered into a dialogue with the earth and I've never stopped that."

He helped create or open up a brand new understanding of a part of Geophysics related to earthquakes and was first with other discoveries as well. One of his experiences was to dive where no living being had been where he says he felt like he was back in Genesis.

At the same time, he is not simplistic in his faith and understanding. He believes that fragility, altruism and compassion is at the heart of our own humanity world-wide throughout the centuries.

Yet while this man is a giant in Geophysics, through his experiences, he and his family became a part of life in a spiritual community aiding the disabled in southern France. This began when he realized that his science was cutting him off from suffering and humanity and felt that he had to rediscover who he was as one with the suffering. He says our heart must be educated and that we cannot educate our hearts by ourselves. When we allow ourselves and hearts to participate in such deep conversation, we enter communion.

You may also want to read the beginning which speaks of this realization in his essay "Ecce Homo: Behold Humanity" here

There are two versions - I especially enjoyed the unedited version
Listen here Be sure to hear how his mother, who was a "very strong woman" insisted even when facing danger said to her children that still "Today, you must learn your lesson.")

I loved his statements that "Humanity is discovering for the first time that they are a People...It's as if Humanity has been educated by God to like a Child begin to take the future into our hands... This is the first time...a very important step in the Story of Humanity...God lets us free...He respects His Creation...God as a mystery who can be discovered only through the weak...not through very strong armies..." He also asks where are we choosing to put our people on earth - that we have to find a better way.

Since this scientific giant expresses the Universal Christ as a model for humanity, Krista Tippett the host of the program posted this excerpt with the other items for this talk:

"Come, you whom my Father has blessed, take for your heritage the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.

For I was hungry and you gave me food;

I was thirsty and you gave me drink;

I was a stranger and you made me welcome. Naked and you clothed me, Sick and you visited me...

In prison and you came to see me."

Monday, October 11, 2010

Address Added: GRANTA: International Fiction Magazine's Autumn Edition Centers on Pakistan

Perhaps there are opportunities here for YOUR voice - Pakistani readers - or for some little light of understanding by others? I'm not highly familiar with this quarterly yet have enjoyed some of the short stories from time to time.

Granta Magazine
Quarterly magazine of new writing, with details of the latest issue, extracts from back issues, submission and subscription information and special ... or GO here

Online Only | Granta Magazine publishes a wealth of material that you won't find in the print magazine –including video interviews, brand-new short stories and essays, ... or GO here

Your understanding and voice need not be like any other suggested within this magazine. Check out opportunity for publication in this international fiction enterprise. Grants are also being offered.


Request having been made as to how to obtain (which seems to be a little obtuse on the website) I'm adding this here (I haven't yet tried as seems a out of reach in price for long-distance) and sometimes libraries in big cities and University libraries may carry these. Here in the USA, sometimes older copies are available for free at libraries...

GRANTA PUBLICATIONS, 2-3 Hanover Yard, Noel Road, London N1 8BE
Tel +44 (0)20 7704 0474
e-mail for editorial:

In the United States, Granta is published in association with Grove/Atlantic Inc,
841 Broadway, 4th Floor, New York, NY 10003

or call +44())20 7704 0470 or e-mail
A one-year subscription (four issues) costs L27.95 (UK), L35/95 (rest of Europe)
and L42.95 (rest of the world).

(Not known at this time if these prices include shipping - Hopefully, I'll look into this in more detail in near future - let me know what you also find out? I have a suspicion that any writers and would-be writers who may share their blogs or specimen of writing via email with staff at Granta, may be able to ask for a free sample copy sent to them via mail - at least why not try? :)

Sunday, October 10, 2010

The Ugly Truth: Dr. Aafia Siddiqui: Why She Was Targeted and Why She Matters to All of Us

By Tammy Obeidallah

Sunday, October 10, 2010 Also posted on October 5, 2010 here which was also posted several earlier places. (I found later at Leila Hussein's blog-site here and although I looked for awhile can't find the original posting or date. See a few more notes at end of this post.
Connie, oneheart blogger)

Here's the article:

In the final scene of the 2002 remake of “Dr. Zhivago,” Lara observes the inevitable black car following her and has just enough time to make up a game with her young son, challenging him to a race. She knows full well she will never see him again.

“I’ll let you have a head start,” she smiles at her little boy. He begins running as she is escorted to the car, offering no resistance as she continues watching him from the backseat; the first leg of a journey to an unnamed Siberian gulag.

Dr. Aafia Siddiqui had no such warning, no time to distance herself from her three young children during the mayhem of their 2003 kidnapping in Karachi, Pakistan. Neither U.S. nor Pakistani officials admitted knowledge of the family’s whereabouts from 2003 to 2008. It was later learned that Dr. Siddiqui was detained and subjected to brutal interrogations at Bagram Air Force Base in Afghanistan before resurfacing in New York in 2008, answering to charges of the attempted murder of two U.S. soldiers.

For years, Dr. Siddiqui did not know whether her children were alive or dead until her oldest son, Ahmed, was released in 2008. Daughter Maryam was dropped off at the family’s residence in Karachi in April 2010, speaking only English and Farsi. The fate of baby Suleman, six months old at the time of the kidnapping, remains unknown.

Former prisoners in Bagram tell of the tortured screams of Prisoner 650, commonly known as “the Gray Lady of Bagram.” By all their accounts, Prisoner 650 was Dr. Aafia Siddiqui* and she herself later testified that she endured both physical and psychological torture, including being forced to look at a photograph of her baby Suleman lying in a pool of his own blood.

It is no surprise that anyone under such unspeakable conditions would seek every opportunity to exact revenge on their tormenters. Yet discrepancies in testimony describing the “crime” for which Dr. Aafia Siddiqui was sentenced to 86 years in prison—the attempted shooting of two US soldiers—raise serious doubts as to whether it actually occurred. Furthermore, Dr. Siddiqui was detained and tortured for allegedly plotting terrorist acts and links to Al-Qaeda. Why wasn’t she brought up on terrorism charges?

The overriding question remains: Why was a brilliant American-educated neuroscientist singled out for such heinous abuses?

Zaid Hamid, Pakistani political analyst and host of the program “Brasstacks,” stated that Dr. Siddiqui’s novel and unique research in neuroscience included groundbreaking work relating to biology, psychology, perception management and mind control: the latest weapons coveted by governments, militaries and media.** Dr. Siddiqui later revealed that an Indian interrogator at Bagram had asked her about her research at MIT, his familiarity with her work leading her to believe he was a former colleague.

In addition to her research at MIT, Dr. Siddiqui completed her Ph.D. in Cognitive Neuroscience from Brandeis early in 2001. Her PhD dissertation abstract discussed how people perceive, remember, and enact observations. One of her experiments required volunteers to view and then recreate the movement of a disk across a computer screen in order to study the components of visual perception and memory. She observed that they saw only the momentary positions of the disc and had to interconnect those positions. She concluded that in a sequence of movements without a visible trail, it became difficult for the subject to form a picture or a story.

A May 2010 Greg Miller appearing in Smithsonian Magazine entitled “How Our Brains Make Memories,” unwittingly ties into Dr. Siddiqui’s research. In the article, Montreal neuroscientist Karim Nader discusses the “flashbulb memory” effect surrounding such occasions as 9/11 and his theory that the very act of remembering can alter a memory.

Such a suggestion would indicate that if our own memories are altered by repeated remembering, how much easier would it be for some other entity—the government or the media for instance— to alter our memories by repeated playback of 9/11 footage, peppering scenes of the attacks with commentaries from their own “experts” and “eyewitnesses?”

Could it be that Dr. Siddiqui, because of her groundbreaking research in the field, was tapped by the government to potentially help develop a weapon of mass psychosis which would cause a nation to believe that airplanes brought down the World Trade Center and the aerial maneuvering of a novice pilot landed another smack-dab into the Pentagon? Her refusal to cooperate would have been motive enough to discredit her and lock her away, let alone if she had actually been briefed on such a plan. ***

Why, some will ask, was she not killed outright? Why risk the possibility of this information coming to light? One explanation is that she is being used as an example, to frighten and intimidate others who dare to defy the power-brokers in the “War on Terror.” Furthermore, the initial injection of an unknown substance followed by years of torture rendered Dr. Siddiqui nearly incompetent to stand at her own trial. Even if connections with 9/11 plots and mind control weapons had surfaced, they would be dismissed as the ranting of an insane woman and her crackpot-conspiracy-theorist supporters.

It is imperative that we discover the truth, not just to save an innocent mother of three, but for the sake of our whole society. I have often been told that my western appearance has saved me from the horrors of interrogation, but I wonder, for how much longer? My children and I were harassed by immigration officials upon our return to the United States from Ecuador this summer and recent days have seen the homes of peace activists in Minnesota, Illinois and Michigan raided by FBI agents who confiscated laptops, cell phones and bank records.

Do we hold our elected officials and media responsible? Do we organize mass civil disobedience in support of those harassed and detained for speaking out against U.S. policy? Or do we wait for the black cars, wondering if we will have time to give our children a head start?

Tammy Obeidallah

End article

A few notes from oneheartforpeace blogger:

* Although there is now some question as to whether or not Dr. Aafia was in fact the very same prisoner - screams of women detainees have been reported. At least one respected male detainee, in fact, has reported being deliberately allowed hearing of the same with the torturous indication that such a woman so in agony is his wife and that she will continue to be tortured and perhaps even raped unless the interrogator's receive the answers for which they ask. In all likelihood there are enough independent reports to corroborate that this is not at all an isolated case.

** Here again, some of this has not been fully corroborated and reported - in other words, what is known of Aafia's major work has, in my understanding to do with how CHILDREN learn through imitation. So I personally would have to do more research to verify the additional implications offered here - however interesting.

*** This theory is worth a good look. Still, the bottom-line is that Aafia's innocence is overwhelmingly corroborated and the injustice delivered to her at both the trial and the re-sentencing is without reasonable question. In fact, many lawyers, reporters and legal experts have said the same (including those who are fairly new to this case).

Finally, I applaud this moving, heroic and well-written article which should leave no thoughtful reader unmoved.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Beautiful PHOTOS & report from Pakistan for Global Work Day 10-10

"Beneath Glaciers"

See two more moving photos from Pakistan
along with the inspiring report on this large, loving, inter-generational effort - GO here

See other new items from Around the World keep pouring in through November...

Archive in the making:
...videos are amazing. From cell phone videos to HD videos...We have a team obsessed with watching every uploaded clip. . . we are having a lot of fun organizing the archive. Soon after the submission deadline (Nov. 10), we'll launch a viewer on our website so you can navigate the archive. In the meantime, you'll notice that uploaded
videos are placed on your One Day on Earth profile page.

Good ideas for uploading:
It sounds like some of you have a lot of footage. If you have the time, it would be helpful to trim it down into a reel of select clips that best represent your 10/10/10 experience. If you are wondering if a shot is worth including, then it probably is- send it over! Each subject can be a separate upload, so you can be specific in the description related to the footage. Be descriptive! If you decide to do an edit of your 10/10/10 footage, please be sure to also upload usable raw clips for the archive (compression is fine, but save the high resolution video for later). Please read the submission guidelines - GO here

Our uploader is located on our homepage. We do NOT recommend using Internet

We are working hard to support all the technology questions that have come
our way. We are there for you and listening. For any help using the site, or
any feedback, please use this link here

Due Date:
Submissions are due on Nov 10, 2010.

We are working hard to make sure no one abuses the community. If a member messages you in a way that you think violated our community guidelines GO to ,please report them and ignore them. They will be removed from the site. We have a zero tolerance towards spammers.

Thanks again! We can't wait to see what 10/10/10 was like EVERYWHERE!

-One Day on Earth

ORIGINAL posting on Sunday 10-10-10

Various 10-10-10 GLOBAL Events include Human Rights Watch -

Some began first in New Zealand ... Help Document the World's Story

FOR ANOTHER 10-10-10 WORLD-WIDE EVENT SEE so far 7,000 events in 188 countries! Find an event near you around the world and/or plan your own event and maybe take some photos - could be something simple with children or a bike-ride or go find an event similar to share here A College nearby, for example, plans an inter-generational bike ride Sunday with an organic farm event to follow.

KARACHI - PAKISTAN We can't wait to see the photos from this!
Global Work Party 10/10/10: Bike Ride and Beach Walk - 4.30 p.m. McDonalds Seaview - Noman Quadri This is an invitation to join a global initiative, starting here, in our own community. We have joined hands with to organize an event for the climate on 10/10/10.

On 10/10/10, people from around the planet are getting to work on climate change in whatever way they want (planting trees, fixing bikes, installing solar panels, etc.). So far, over 7,000 events in 188 countries are being planned around the world, and the numb...ers are growing every day.

To make 10/10/10 really amazing, we're reaching out to every corner of the community to join us as partners and allies. What we're planning in Karachi is a Bicycle Ride and a Beach Walk.

We will ride from McDonald's, Sea View, till Salt n Pepper/Village and back to McDonald's, the ride will end with a short beach walk. The bike ride will begin at 4.30p.m. sharp and the beach walk will commence after the ride. Since this time we are riding for a cause, we will ride slowly together, to ensure maximum publicity for our group.

Don't forget, bring your own bike, some water, check your tire pressure and breaks.

See also the WORLD DAY AGAINST THE DEATH PENALTY events (be sure to add Stoning and Extra-Judicial Executions)Death Penalty USA here
Amnesty I and USA here and REPRIEVE (UK) here

Friday, October 8, 2010

NYC Mid-Day Friday Oct. 8th: Compelling Program on Justice/Peace in Palestine-Israel

SEE trailer and more on Just Vision dot org CLICK here

Take a look at the comments and Trailer of this new film BUDRUS whether or not you can get to this program. This film is showing the power of Film to Influence people -even with the most difficult issues.

If you are in NYC and can get to Columbia U. RIGHT AWAY October the 8th, try to get by to see the following program (NOTE IT BEGINS AM and goes to NOON with I'm sure long discussions and interesting lunch-times following perhaps way into the NIGHT)

The Making of Budrus with director Julia Bacha at the Center for International History

The Center for International History and the Center for Palestine Studies present a discussion with Julia Bacha, a Columbia History graduate and director of Budrus, an award-winning documentary film about the nonviolent resistance movement to save a Palestinian village from destruction.

Friday 8 October 2010, 10:30 AM-12:00 PM
411 Fayerweather Hall

On July 09, 2010: Budrus premiered at the Jerusalem Film Festival to sold-out theaters and on July 07, 2010: Budrus premiered in Ramallah to a crowd of 700 Palestinians from all political factions, internationals and Israeli activists. HM Queen Noor visited the West Bank for the first time to attend.

RECENT PAST ANNOUNCEMENTS - Ways 'Just Vision' and BUDRUS have had an international impact:

August 20, 2010: Search for Common Ground to honor Just Vision at November 11th awards ceremony in Washington, DC.

August 03, 2010: Budrus wins Founders Prize, Best of Fest, Nonfiction at Michael Moore's Traverse City Film Festival.

July 11, 2010: New York Times calls Budrus "Must See Documentary of the Year."

July 09, 2010: Budrus premiered at the Jerusalem Film Festival to sold-out theaters.

July 07, 2010: Budrus premiered in Ramallah to a crowd of 700 Palestinians from all political factions, internationals and Israeli activists. HM Queen Noor visited the West Bank for the first time to attend.

July 06, 2010: Budrus won the Amnesty International Award at Pesaro Film Festival.

June 26, 2010. Budrus won the Witness Award at Silverdocs Film Festival in Washington, DC - given in honor of Joey R. B. Lozano to the strongest documentary about human rights violations or social justice issues.

May 14, 2010. Budrus WINS Honorable Mention of the Jury at Documenta Madrid 10.

May 06, 2010. Budrus WINS the Audience Award at the San Francisco International Film Festival.

April 29, 2010. Budrus WINS Special Jury Mention in the World Documentary Competition at the Tribeca Film Festival.

April 27, 2010. West Coast Premiere of Budrus at the San Francisco International Film Festival; Canadian Premiere at Hot Docs.

April 22, 2010. HM Queen Noor presents Just Vision and Ayed Morrar with the King Hussein Leadership Prize.

March 10, 2010. The US Premiere of Budrus will take place at the Tribeca Film Festival in New York City.

The US Premiere of Budrus will take place at the Tribeca Film Festival in New York on Sunday, April 25 at 3pm. Please visit our events page for details.

March 8, 2010. International Women's Day
This International Women's Day, Just Vision, led by a team of women from North America, Israel and Palestine, honors the Palestinian and Israeli women who are working nonviolently to resolve the conflict. Read our interviews with them in Visionaries.

February 15, 2010. Budrus opens in Berlin to a sold out 350-person theater and receives the Silver Audience Award for Best Documentary

After the opening and two subsequent screenings, the audience gave Ayed Morrar and the people behind the movement in Budrus a standing ovation. The film received fantastic reviews. The protagonists, as well as several of the courageous cameramen and women, who stood with the villagers of Budrus and filmed events as they unfolded, attended. You can view photos on the Just Vision's Facebook page.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Desmond Tutu

"Forgiving is not forgetting; its actually remembering--remembering and not using your right to hit back. Its a second chance for a new beginning. And the remembering part is particularly important. Especially if you don't want to repeat what happened."
— Desmond Tutu

Do your little bit of good where you are; its those little bits of good put together that overwhelm the world.
Desmond Tutu

I am a leader by default, only because nature does not allow a vacuum.
Desmond Tutu

I am not interested in picking up crumbs of compassion thrown from the table of someone who considers himself my master. I want the full menu of rights.
Desmond Tutu

If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor. If an elephant has its foot on the tail of a mouse and you say that you are neutral, the mouse will not appreciate your neutrality.
Desmond Tutu

My humanity is bound up in yours, for we can only be human together.
Desmond Tutu

We may be surprised at the people we find in heaven. God has a soft spot for sinners. His standards are quite low.
Desmond Tutu

We would like to see you departing peacefully.
Desmond Tutu

When the missionaries came to Africa they had the Bible and we had the land. They said "Let us pray." We closed our eyes. When we opened them we had the Bible and they had the land.
Desmond Tutu

Without forgiveness, there's no future.
Desmond Tutu

You don't choose your family. They are God's gift to you, as you are to them.
Desmond Tutu

(Archbishop Desmond Tutu is Retiring from the Public Arena. There was a delightfully candid interview with his daughter on BBC Radio early this am October 9, 2010)

See the video "Made for Goodness..." and more here

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Jack and the Beanstalk: a "children's" tale for our time...

A tale which cautions us about any movement to subvert unjust systems that results in powerful protagonists becoming like their oppressors (as has occurred all too often in history). There are most likely many other folktales which echo these themes...plz send them...The "Fee Fi Fo Fum..." line is included in Shakespeare's King Lear.

This was just sent from a long-time "peace and justice" friend who writes colorful and challenging "reports"/journal- pieces. Steve's background includes the Christian Peace Churches, Christian Community (including Koinonia (founded by Clarence Jordan - of the Patchwork Gospels), support for Millard Fuller of Habitat, Jubilee Partners Community near Comer Georgia, Anti-Nuclear and School of America Watch support along with various other creative efforts to be a bridge between law-enforcement and anti-peace protesters. We met Steve and his Christine wife who is a registered nurse (RN) at Koinonia years ago and don't see them often enough these days...

See Steve Clemens' site here

Jack and the Beanstalk: A Political Reading of an Old, Wise Folktale by Ched Myers

In both ancient and modern civilization, the elite control the media. Thus it is the news, the public myths, the histories and the philosophies of the haves that are broadcast and preserved. The perspectives of the have-nots are marginalized, suppressed and disappeared from history. This means that the points of view of the majority of folk who are not elites, past and present, are difficult to come by, especially for people of relative privilege like us. The poor are not the subjects of our formal education, much less movies, television shows, popular books or political speeches—or if they are, they are relentlessly (hopelessly) caricatured, scapegoated or romanticized.

However, in the dominant cultures of the North Atlantic, there are two notable exceptions to this rule. The Bible is one; it is the story of desert nomads, freed slaves, highlands hardscrabble farmers and poor urban minorities who are looking and working for God’s justice in a world dominated by empire. Biblical voices and perspectives grate against our modern, rational ears, which is one reason why we should pay close attention to them.

The other exception, oddly enough, are old European folk and fairy tales. The versions we all learned at home and school—of e.g. Cinderella, Hansel and Gretel, and Snow White — have been largely domesticated and sanitized, of course. But the original tales were earthy and subversive, in which the protagonists are always poor people whose fortunes change through their own cunning and the intervention of magic and mystery. These stories sprang from a cosmology that longed for a universe that, as Dr. King put it once, bends toward justice. And if we listen closely enough to the versions we have received, we can still hear the voice and longing of the poor just under the surface. These stories, too, are odd to our ears, and thus worth revisiting.

Here I’ll take the example of one of the most popular and ubiquitous of this genre, "Jack and the Beanstalk". In part I like this folktale because it is about beans, and our experience over the last number of years planting, growing, and eating beans at our place in California has really enamored us of bean culture. But this story is also instructive concerning Sabbath Economics.

I’ve reproduced here the most common version of this popular folktale recorded by Joseph Jacobs in English Fairy Tales in 1890. Keep in mind, however, that this is only one of many versions, with various roots that go way back in peasant storytelling.1 Indeed, Jacobs’ version employs common images, characters and plot lines found in diverse tales from throughout Europe and beyond. Occasionally I’ll refer to an earlier version, the first literary production of the story, which dates from 1807. After each section, I provide some social and literary commentary to help us see the subversive voice of Sabbath Economics in between the lines. So let’s look again at this wise old tale about agriculture and empire.

I. There was once upon a time a poor widow who had an only son named Jack, and a cow named Milky-White. And all they had to live on was the milk the cow gave every morning, which they carried to the market and sold. But one morning Milky-White gave no milk, and they didn't know what to do.

"What shall we do, what shall we do?" said the widow, wringing her hands. "Cheer up, mother, I'll go and get work somewhere," said Jack.

We've tried that before, and nobody would take you," said his mother. "We must sell Milky- White and with the money start a shop, or something."

"All right, mother," says Jack. "It's market day today, and I'll soon sell Milky-White, and then we'll see what we can do."

Commentary: The social setting of this narrative, like most peasant folk tales, is one of grinding poverty. These are stories, like Jesus’ parables, of the real world of disparity, dispossession and violence. The magical plot has to do with the radical change in the peasant protagonist’s social fortunes, usually through their own cunning, but always with an assist from mystical forces. Jack Zipes, one of the foremost scholars of this genre, in his pioneering book Breaking the Magic Spell: Radical Theories of Folk and Fairy Tales, stresses that these stories reflect “the social order in a given historical epoch, and, as such, they symbolize the aspirations, needs, dreams and wishes of the people... The initial ontological situations of the tales generally deal with exploitation, hunger and injustice familiar to the lower classes in pre-capitalist societies. And the magic of the tales can be equated to the wish-fulfillment and utopian projections of the people.” Zipes concludes: “The imaginative and magic elements of the tale had specific meanings for a peasant and lower-class audience at the end of the 18th century...” Only later in the 19th and early 20th centuries were these stories transformed into fairy tales for the entertainment or moral formation of middle class children by the Brothers Grimm, English nursery rhymes and finally by Disney.

The opening scene of desperation portrayed in Jack’s household here is a case in point. The poverty would have been typical of village peasants, and here is doubly destitute because of the absence of the male breadwinner. Moreover, their plight is intensified by their utter vulnerability to emerging predatory market forces: they are forced to sell their sole, milked-out, cow just to survive. This of course exactly mirrors the social conditions of early industrial England, with the destruction of the Commons and traditional agriculture, the displacement of the peasantry from field to factory, the destruction of village life by market culture, and the widening gulf between poor and rich.

This social scenario is emphasized by the repetition of the plot in the next episode as Jack explains his plight to a stranger. Jack—an almost generic folktale name—turns out to be a complicated figure. Though at first apparently unemployable and gullible, Jack will exhibit a mixture of curiosity, adventurousness and wiliness. He will emerge as a sort of trickster figure whose crafty survival skills will outwit the Giant. But this story is ultimately tragic, so that Jack is both hero and object lesson.

II. So Jack took the cow's halter in his hand, and off he started. He hadn't gone far when he met a funny-looking old man, who said to him, "Good morning, Jack."

"Good morning to you," said Jack, and wondered how he knew his name.

"Well, Jack, and where are you off to?" said the man.

"I'm going to market to sell our cow there."

"You look the proper sort of chap to sell cows," said the man. "I wonder if you know how many beans make five."

"Two in each hand and one in your mouth," says Jack, as sharp as a needle.

"Right you are," says the man, "and here they are, the very beans themselves," he went on, pulling out of his pocket some strange-looking beans. "As you are so sharp," says he, "I don't mind doing a swap with you -- your cow for these beans."

"Go along," says Jack. "Wouldn't you like it?"

"Ah! You don't know what these beans are," said the man. "If you plant them overnight, by morning they grow right up to the sky."

"Really?" said Jack. "You don't say so."

"Yes, that is so. And if it doesn't turn out to be true you can have your cow back."

"Right," says Jack, hands him over Milky-White's halter and pockets the beans.

Commentary: The “funny looking man” who somehow knows Jack’s name is not given further explanation in this version of the story. In the 1807 version, he is the representative of the fairy godmother to Jack's dead father, who explains that Jack's task will be to reclaim his rightful inheritance from the giant who killed his father. There the rage of the oppressed and their desire for vindication is clearer. In other similar scenarios found throughout European folk tales, the mysterious stranger is an old woman, or a saint, representing the hand of God aiding the poor. Jack answers the old man’s riddle smartly, the first indication in the story that he is far brighter than might first appear. We Christians might see in the five beans a symbol of Torah wisdom, or an echo of Jesus’ parable about the smallest of seeds that grows into the largest of weeds.

"Sow beans in the mud,” said an English folk proverb of the time, “and they'll come up like trees." We are deep in the realm of peasant cosmology here. Beans are basic, which also means they are magical, because they are fertile. As bean gardeners ourselves, we’ve learned the mystical yet earthy truth that “you know how many beans are in the pod, but you never know how many pods are in the bean!” And beans were a staple diet of the poor, who would have been the original audience of this story—then and now. Poverty has stripped Jack down to a handful of beans. Yet as any campesino knows, a miracle hides there; in the parlance of Jesus’ mustard seed, it symbolizes nothing less than the Kingdom of God. But that is despite appearances; Jack’s deal looks to his desperate mother like a disaster, and elicits a violent beating.

III. Back goes Jack home, and as he hadn't gone very far it wasn't dusk by the time he got to his door.

"Back already, Jack?" said his mother. "I see you haven't got Milky-White, so you've sold her. How much did you get for her?"

"You'll never guess, mother," says Jack.

"No, you don't say so. Good boy! Five pounds? Ten? Fifteen? No, it can't be 20."

"I told you that you couldn't guess. What do you say to these beans? They're magical. Plant them overnight and -- "

"What!" says Jack's mother. "Have you been such a fool, such a dolt, such an idiot, as to give away my Milky- White, the best milker in the parish, and prime beef to boot, for a set of paltry beans? Take that! Take that! Take that! And as for your precious beans here they go out of the window. And now off with you to bed. Not a sup shall you drink, and not a bit shall you swallow this very night."

So Jack went upstairs to his little room in the attic, and sad and sorry he was, to be sure, as much for his mother's sake as for the loss of his supper. At last he dropped off to sleep.

Commentary: In light of their now intensified poverty, Jack's punishment fits his "crime": he is beaten and sent to bed hungry. Such things are hardly metaphorical in the life of poor people, which is surrounded by the violence of deprivation and the violence that comes from deprivation. Jack is “sad and sorry,” another accurate portrait of how marginalized people internalize depression, blaming themselves for their condition. But there is a faint humming of magic in the background of this awful scene. It is after dusk, and the beans that were tossed out the window now mysteriously go to work on this dreary world of wealth and poverty.

IV. When Jack woke up, the room looked funny. The sun was shining into part of it, and yet all the rest was quite dark and shady. So Jack jumped up and dressed himself and went to the window. And what do you think he saw? The beans his mother had thrown out of the window into the garden had sprung up into a big beanstalk which went up and up and up till it reached the sky. So the man spoke truth after all. The beanstalk grew up quite close past Jack's window, so all he had to do was to open it and give a jump onto the beanstalk which ran up just like a big ladder. So Jack climbed, and he climbed, and he climbed, and he climbed, and he climbed, and he climbed, and he climbed till at last he reached the sky.

Commentary: Wow—a beanstalk reaching the heavens! From the literal point of view, this is hysterical: climbing beans can’t begin to hold themselves up, which is why they are called pole beans! From the symbolic perspective, however, we are beholding an axis mundi.

This is a term used to describe the nearly universal image in traditional myth and symbolism of a cosmic pole that unites heaven and earth. It is often figured as a sacred tree or mountain. The most famous instance of this symbol in the Bible is a different Jack of old: Jacob’s dream in the desert, his head on a stone: a ladder stretches to heaven, upon which angels are ascending and descending. It was a vision of heaven that enabled Jacob to see that the very earth he lay on was sacred, indeed the house of God. The cosmic beanpole beckons our latter day Jack to a very long climb—repeated seven times in the narrative (how archetypal!). But this pole not only connects heaven and earth; it transgresses the great gulf between rich and poor, and heralds a radical redistribution of resources literally from those “above” to those “below.”

V. And when Jack got there he found a long broad road going as straight as a dart. So he walked along, and he walked along, and he walked along till he came to a great big tall house, and on the doorstep there was a great big tall woman. "Good morning, mum," says Jack, quite polite-like. "Could you be so kind as to give me some breakfast?" For he hadn't had anything to eat, you know, the night before, and was as hungry as a hunter.

"It's breakfast you want, is it?" says the great big tall woman. "It's breakfast you'll be if you don't move off from here. My man is an ogre and there's nothing he likes better than boys broiled on toast. You'd better be moving on or he'll be coming."

"Oh! please, mum, do give me something to eat. I've had nothing to eat since yesterday morning, really and truly, mum," says Jack. "I may as well be broiled as die of hunger." Well, the ogre's wife was not half so bad after all. So she took Jack into the kitchen, and gave him a hunk of bread and cheese and a jug of milk.

Commentary: Gazing for the first time on “the world above,” Jack beholds “a long broad road going straight as a dart,” leading to “a great big tall house” and “a great big tall woman.” Everything seems bigger to him—because it is— the rich simply take up more space. This is no crooked country lane for donkey carts, but a well-oiled freeway to get the wealthy from home to factory and back. Indeed, such infrastructural projects were beginning to transform the English countryside in the early industrial revolution. We now encounter the grim image of a cannibalistic ogre, with an appetite for “boys broiled on bread.”

Such a metaphor was not at all far fetched to the peasant imagination; from their perspective, they and their livelihood were constantly being eaten by the aristocracy. Jack resignation is poignant: "I may as well be broiled as die of hunger"—perhaps an allusion to the thankless choice facing so many late 18th century English peasants: dying of starvation in the countryside, their lands having been expropriated and privatized, or dying in the sweatshops of the new industrial factory.

The role of the woman provides a ray of light. Some variants of the tale replace the Ogre’s wife with a captive servant girl, who helps Jack and escapes with him (and in some versions later marries him). Heidi Anne Heiner notes that all of the female roles in the tale are mothering ones; not only here does the woman feed Jack, but she will also hide him from her husband. “The women are in control of the men in this story,” Heiner concludes.

VI. But Jack hadn't half finished these when thump! thump! thump! the whole house began to tremble with the noise of someone coming. "Goodness gracious me! It's my old man," said the ogre's wife. "What on earth shall I do? Come along quick and jump in here." And she bundled Jack into the oven just as the ogre came in.

He was a big one, to be sure. At his belt he had three calves strung up by the heels, and he unhooked them and threw them down on the table and said, "Here, wife, broil me a couple of these for breakfast. Ah! what's this I smell? “Fee-fi-fo-fum, I smell the blood of an Englishman, Be he alive, or be he dead, I'll grind his bones to make my bread."

"Nonsense, dear," said his wife. "You're dreaming. Or perhaps you smell the scraps of that little boy you liked so much for yesterday's dinner. Here, you go and have a wash and tidy up, and by the time you come back your breakfast'll be ready for you."

So off the ogre went, and Jack was just going to jump out of the oven and run away when the woman told him not. "Wait till he's asleep," says she; "he always has a doze after breakfast." Well, the ogre had his breakfast, and after that he goes to a big chest and takes out a couple of bags of gold, and down he sits and counts till at last his head began to nod and he began to snore till the whole house shook again.

Then Jack crept out on tiptoe from his oven, and as he was passing the ogre, he took one of the bags of gold under his arm, and off he pelters till he came to the beanstalk, and then he threw down the bag of gold, which, of course, fell into his mother's garden, and then he climbed down and climbed down till at last he got home and told his mother and showed her the gold and said, "Well, mother, wasn't I right about the beans? They are really magical!"

Commentary: Jack is hidden in the oven, which unlike Hansel and Gretel, is here a place of safety, maybe even a womb symbol. The over consuming oligarch is caricatured as having several calves just for breakfast—a stark contrast to Jack’s one cow. Again, we Christians might recall Nathan’s parable to David about the poor man with one sheep that is confiscated by the rich man with 99. The Ogre is like a predatory animal, with a keen sense of smell. The famous “fi-fi-fo-fum” is the taunt of someone with the power and the hardness of heart to “grind the bones of the poor to make his bread." Might this be a faint echo of Isaiah 3:15: “What do you mean by crushing my people, by grinding the face of the poor? says YHWH.”

The caricature continues as the sated giant settles in to count his gold—the favorite pastime of the oligarchy. The peasant Jack would likely never have seen gold before, which is why it plays such a prominent, alluring role in this story. As the Ogre nods off the wily Jack, again with an assist from the sympathetic wife, sneaks up and takes—or should we say takes back?—a bag of gold, and scurries off back down the beanstalk. I love the part where he throws down the bag of gold “which, of course, fell into his mother's garden”—surely alluding to the old peasant cosmology that understood all true wealth to come from that which the land produces. The beans have proven magical because they have enabled Jack to cross what Luke’s story of Lazarus and Dives portrays as the “impassable gulf” between rich and poor, and to redistribute wealth from top to bottom. How did Jesus’ mother put it in the “nursery rhymes” she sang to him? “God has brought down the powerful from their thrones, and lifted up the lowly; filled the hungry with good things, and sent the rich away empty” (Lk 1:53).

Ah, if only the folktale ended here! But it has more to teach than just economic redistribution. Money is a principality which preys on poor and rich alike—which is why true social change requires personal as well as political transformation.

VII. ...So they lived on the bag of gold for some time, but at last they came to the end of it, and Jack made up his mind to try his luck once more at the top of the beanstalk. So one fine morning he rose up early, and got onto the beanstalk, and he climbed, and he climbed, and he climbed, and he climbed, and he climbed, and he climbed till at last he came out onto the road again and up to the great tall house he had been to before. There, sure enough, was the great tall woman a-standing on the doorstep. "Good morning, mum," says Jack, as bold as brass, "could you be so good as to give me something to eat?"

"Go away, my boy," said the big tall woman, "or else my man will eat you up for breakfast. But aren't you the youngster who came here once before? Do you know, that very day my man missed one of his bags of gold." "That's strange, mum," said Jack, "I dare say I could tell you something about that, but I'm so hungry I can't speak till I've had something to eat."

Well, the big tall woman was so curious that she took him in and gave him something to eat. But he had scarcely begun munching it as slowly as he could when thump! thump! they heard the giant's footstep, and his wife hid Jack away in the oven. All happened as it did before. In came the ogre as he did before, said, "Fee-fi-fo- fum," and had his breakfast off three broiled oxen. Then he said, "Wife, bring me the hen that lays the golden eggs." So she brought it, and the ogre said, "Lay," and it laid an egg all of gold. And then the ogre began to nod his head, and to snore till the house shook.

Then Jack crept out of the oven on tiptoe and caught hold of the golden hen, and was off before you could say "Jack Robinson." But this time the hen gave a cackle which woke the ogre, and just as Jack got out of the house he heard him calling, "Wife, wife, what have you done with my golden hen?"

And the wife said, "Why, my dear?" But that was all Jack heard, for he rushed off to the beanstalk and climbed down like a house on fire. And when he got home he showed his mother the wonderful hen, and said "Lay" to it; and it laid a golden egg every time he said "Lay."

Commentary: The story starts up again with a revised scenario: “They came to the end of the gold.” There it is: the infertility of money. The implicit contrast in this tale is between the finitude of inanimate gold and the inexhaustible fertility of seed. “Use Mammon only in order to build social relations,” warned Jesus in Luke 16:9, “so that when [not if] it fails, your friends may welcome you into their enduring tents.”

Jack (now an adult?) and his mother are poor again, but now they have some of the appetites of the rich, which means he wants to go back to the castle to get more. Here in a nutshell is the problem of modern capitalist development: its solution to poverty is to “pull the poor into the industrial system to make them middle-class consumers.” The problem is that our planet simply does not have the ecological carrying capacity to bear the affluenza of the minority who already consume way more than our share. “Too much” and “too little” both inevitably result from capitalism, and both are social disasters. Jack did not use his wealth to rebuild a sustainable community in his village—so he has to return to the land of the Ogre.

“Good morning mum said Jack as bold as brass.” Jack is a trickster who may be too clever for his own good. His hunger now is only a pretense, his manner more devious. The scenario in the castle repeats itself, now intensified. This time the Ogre has three broiled oxen for breakfast; this time the object of desire is the famous “hen that lays the golden egg.” This metaphor is deeply ironic; Jack does know about chickens, but this hen represents a kind of grotesque co-modification of natural fertility. Gold on demand seems like dark allusion to the relentless fetishism of capitalism. Instead of the patience of the farmer, the land, and the seasons, it is an impatient, insatiable command: “Lay, hen, lay!”

Don’t take it, Jack! But he does, and upon his return home Jack finds himself now mimicking the Ogre’s greedy script: Lay hen! “He who battles monsters must beware,” said Nietze, “lest a monster he become.” Indeed, Jack’s deteriorating condition is summed up in the very next phrase of the story:

VIII. Well, Jack was not content. And it wasn't long before he determined to have another try at his luck up there at the top of the beanstalk. So one fine morning he rose up early and got to the beanstalk, and he climbed, and he climbed, and he climbed, and he climbed till he got to the top. But this time he knew better than to go straight to the ogre's house. And when he got near it, he waited behind a bush till he saw the ogre's wife come out with a pail to get some water, and then he crept into the house and got into the copper. He hadn't been there long when he heard thump! thump! thump! as before, and in came the ogre and his wife.

"Fee-fi-fo-fum, I smell the blood of an Englishman," cried out the ogre. "I smell him, wife, I smell him."

"Do you, my dearie?" says the ogre's wife. "Then, if it's that little rogue that stole your gold and the hen that laid the golden eggs he's sure to have got into the oven." And they both rushed to the oven.

But Jack wasn't there, luckily, and the ogre's wife said, "There you are again with your fee-fi- fo-fum. Why, of course, it's the boy you caught last night that I've just broiled for your breakfast. How forgetful I am, and how careless you are not to know the difference between live and dead after all these years."

So the ogre sat down to the breakfast and ate it, but every now and then he would mutter, "Well, I could have sworn --" and he'd get up and search the larder and the cupboards and everything, only, luckily, he didn't think of the copper. After breakfast was over, the ogre called, "Wife, wife, bring me my golden harp."

So she brought it and put it on the table before him. Then he said, "Sing!" and the golden harp sang most beautifully. And it went on singing till the ogre fell asleep, and commenced to snore like thunder. Then Jack lifted up the copper lid very quietly and got down like a mouse and crept on hands and knees till he came to the table, when up he crawled, caught hold of the golden harp and dashed with it towards the door. But the harp called out quite loud, "Master! Master!" and the ogre woke up just in time to see Jack running off with his harp.

Commentary: This is an old storytelling device: the so-called “folkloric rule of three.” Just like a good joke, we know that the third time ‘round represents the punch line. Such repetition provides rhythm and adds drama while making the oral story easier to remember and follow. Having contracted the Ogre’s disease of unwhetted appetite—“Jack was not content”—it’s up the beanstalk one more time. This time the giant’s wife is no longer an ally, but Jack outsmarts both of them and hides in the “copper,” or metal boiler. The wife’s comment to her frustrated husband is chillingly revealing: “How careless you are not to know the difference between live and dead after all these years.” The lives of the poor are cheap to the rich. There is no sympathy in this story for the Ogre as a symbol of the predatory aristocracy.

This time the prize is a golden harp that plays itself. As before, once the giant sleeps, Jack darts out, grabs the golden object, and hightails it out. This time, however, the harp calls after its master, and the chase is on. Here is the ultimate irony: Jack steals an instrument so loyal to the “Master” that it blows the whistle on him. Perhaps this reveals just how caught Jack has become in the Ogre’s obsessive-compulsive system. As Audrey Lorde put it, “You can’t dismantle the Master’s House with the Master’s tools.”

IX. Jack ran as fast as he could, and the ogre came rushing after, and would soon have caught him, only Jack had a start and dodged him a bit and knew where he was going. When he got to the beanstalk the ogre was not more than twenty yards away when suddenly he saw Jack disappear, and when he came to the end of the road he saw Jack underneath climbing down for dear life. Well, the ogre didn't like trusting himself to such a ladder, and he stood and waited, so Jack got another start.

But just then the harp cried out, "Master! Master!" and the ogre swung himself down onto the beanstalk, which shook with his weight. Down climbs Jack, and after him climbed the ogre.

By this time Jack had climbed down and climbed down and climbed down till he was very nearly home. So he called out, "Mother! Mother! bring me an ax, bring me an ax." And his mother came rushing out with the ax in her hand, but when she came to the beanstalk she stood stock still with fright, for there she saw the ogre with his legs just through the clouds.

But Jack jumped down and got hold of the ax and gave a chop at the beanstalk which cut it half in two. The ogre felt the beanstalk shake and quiver, so he stopped to see what was the matter. Then Jack gave another chop with the ax, and the beanstalk was cut in two and began to topple over. Then the ogre fell down and broke his crown, and the beanstalk came toppling after.

Commentary: Jack zigs & zags to escape the clutches of the bigger, faster adversary. Picture a peasant “thief” who, having just stolen a loaf of bread, is chased by Victorian constables into a wheat field, where to their consternation, he disappears. Similarly, the Ogre pulls up short at the beanstalk, refusing to “trust himself to such a ladder.” This vine is the domain of the campesino, not the patron; indeed, it will be the instrument of the latter’s demise. The giant only takes the plunge when the hijacked harp, ever loyal, calls again for help.

At the bottom of the stalk, it is Jack’s mother’s turn to freeze, unable to swing the ax in the face of such a spectacle (and perhaps unwilling, given the stalk’s lucrative history). So it is Jack who must hack down the magic pole. The dénouement is a humorous bit of inter-textuality. “The ogre fell down and broke his crown and the beanstalk came toppling after” clearly alludes to another Jack of a contemporaneous nursery rhyme, who went up the hill to fetch water, but who then “fell down / And broke his crown / And Jill came tumbling after.” Perhaps this “quotation” means to soften the trauma of the Ogre’s death. But this Giant — like capitalism itself — eats people, and must be destroyed. As Zipes puts it, in peasant folk tales the adversary symbolizes “the entire feudal system or the greed and brutality of the aristocracy, responsible for the difficult conditions,” and her or his destruction symbolically realizes “the hatred which the peasantry felt for the aristocracy as hoarders and oppressors.” Think of the famous chorus in The Wizard of Oz: “Ding, dong, the wicked witch is dead!” sing the celebrating munchkins.

X. Then Jack showed his mother his golden harp, and with showing that and selling the golden eggs, Jack and his mother became very rich, and he married a great princess, and they lived happy ever after.

Commentary: The last scene (including the traditional “happily ever after” ending formula) is short and sweet—unless we have eyes to see its bitterness. The beanstalk, the magical source of peasant power, is gone. It could have provided a lifetime supply of staple food for the village—but instead Jack’s life now revolves around gold. He has become like the giant: rich, and politically upwardly mobile, underlined by his marriage to a “princess.” There is no indication that the economic system of radical disparity has changed—only that Jack has changed positions within it. Jack seems to have won the battle, but lost the war he had started with the Ogre’s world.

There are two instructive biblical echoes to this folktale. One is the warning parable of the Israelites’ worship of the golden calf (Exodus 32; right). But there Moses “comes down from above” to excoriate the people’s gold fetishism, whereas here Jack becomes a worshiper. Jack's defeat of the giant also recalls the old tale of David and Goliath. The peasant Hebrew shepherd boy uses cunning and native skill to overcome a much stronger opponent—a bigger than life Philistine professional mercenary soldier (I Samuel 17). Yet once David gains power as king of Israel, he becomes that which he allegedly vanquished—a powerful warrior who, especially in his murder of Uriah (II Sam 11), fits the Ogre’s description as being “careless about the difference between live and dead.”

Jack and the Beanstalk is a complex folk tale of both promise and warning. The first half imagines a spry hero who realizes a sort of revolutionary overthrow of the cannibalistic aristocratic powers who live in high places. Stolen wealth is redistributed through the power of the most basic agricultural symbol: a simple bean plant. But alas, Mammon has its own power, which slowly takes hold of the narrative. In the end, the bitter disparity of wealth and poverty is not transformed, but merely reversed. There are at least two morals to this story.

First, it warns against the delusion that “money buys happiness,” which seeks to rule the minds and hearts of all who are not rich, whether in biblical antiquity, medieval Europe or urban North America.

Second, it cautions us about any movement to subvert unjust systems that results in powerful protagonists becoming like their oppressors (as has occurred all too often in history).

The demanding task of resisting such seductions is why the biblical work of "Sabbath Economics" (a movement of which the commentator above is a part) must always be spiritual as well as political.

1 See Christine Goldberg, “The Composition of ‘Jack and the Beanstalk’.” Marvels & Tales: Journal of Fairy Tale Studies (vol. 15, no. 1 [2001]), pp.11-26. Versions of tale can be found here; the earliest version here 2 An adult friend said upon hearing "Now THAT's a fairy tale.

The Commentator's website and AUDIO of the story above - CLICK here For an introduction to GO here -- The image above is from one of countless versions of the folk-tale - the art by a woman who lived in India many years found at Wikipedia