Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Just World News: Another voice for the voiceless

From: Just World News Find it easily

Here is an amazing woman and publisher who's site is one of the best voices online -

here's More on Turkey/Syria

Posted by Helena Cobban
March 30, 2011 8:55 AM EST
Filed in Syria , Turkey

On Monday, I blogged that I thought Turkey's role in helping urge/midwife a successful push for reform in Syria could be key. I gave a few reasons for this-- chiefly, the good relations between the two countries and the length (800 miles) of their common border.

Yesterday, Turkey's intel chief Hakan Fidan was in Damascus, and reported to have been discussing the need for reform with his hosts. (Meanwhile, Turkish PM Erdogan was in the Kurdish-Iraqi capital of Irbil and the Shiite-Iraqi capital, Najaf. As I tweeted at the time: "It's hard work running a neo-Ottoman empire!" But really: Erdogan's outreach to neighbors all round, including to Kurds, has been very notable.)

I've written quite a lot about Turkey and Syria on this blog over the past two years-- check out the archives, including for reporting from good trips I've made to the two countries since summer 2009.

Based on all this, I could summarize my views on what Turkey can "offer" to a democratizing Syria-- and, perhaps, to a number of other truly democratizing Middle Eastern countries-- as follows:
* Between them, Turkey's current AK Party government and its longstanding and increasingly sturdy democratic constitution offer a great model for how a country can both be an open, west-friendly liberal democracy and be ruled by a party that is intentionally mildly Islamist. Turkey's political history-- through the aggressive secularism and tight ethnonationalism of the Kemalists, to the point it has arrived at today-- is fascinating. The Kemalists made several good contributions to the country's political and economic development. But it took the AKP to transcend the boundaries of ethnonationalism that constrained Ankara's ability to have good relations with most of its neighbors-- and indeed, with all those of its own citizens who are not ethnic Turks.
* Turkey offers a great example of a generally peaceful transition from a regime in which the military used to have a commanding sway (underlined by periodic coups and soft coups against the elected government) to one in which the democratic principle of civilian control of the military is now much more deeply entrenched and respected. For Syria, this could be a very valuable lesson-- though we need to remember that Syria is still in a state of war with Israel, which continues to occupy (and indeed, has annexed) the strategic Golan region. So the military's role in politics and society is more complex there than in Turkey. Of course, a truly engaged and fair-minded U.S. diplomacy could-- and should-- speedily bring an end to Israel's occupation of the Golan. That would be one of the best contributions Washington could make to democratization in Syria! The record of the peace negotiations of the 1990s (about part of which, I wrote a book for USIP) is a great basis from to start.

* Turkey offers a great economic model to Syria and other Middle Eastern democratizers. The Turkish economy has been booming in recent years-- including during the period after the west's financial collapse of September 2008. It seems to be sturdily structured; and Turkish business leaders (like many other Turkish institutions) have done a great job of extending their contacts, their contracts, and their influence into many areas of the former Ottoman space-- as well as the former Soviet space.

* Turkey has offered a great "social" model to Syrians and other Middle Easterners, as well. Syrians at different levels of society with whom I have spoken in recent years emphasize that they strongly welcome the Turkish model as much more attractive than the Iranian model of society, which is the other major pole of influence on governmental thinking.
Indeed, it is not too much of an exaggeration to say that for the past few years many Syrians have been deeply in love with Turkey-- for a number of reasons. One of these, certainly, has been the straightforward, principled stance that the AK government has adopted toward Israel. Remember that in 2008, Ankara did a lot to spearhead and facilitate a very promising round of quiet peace talks between Syria and Israel. Then, in December 2008 Israeli PM Olmert abruptly broke off the proximity talks he was holding in Turkey in connection with that effort-- and he returned to Israel to launched the assault against Gaza that was so appropriately named "Cast Lead." The Turks felt completely betrayed and used by Olmert in that regard-- a fact that led to Erdogan's stiff behavior toward Israeli Pres. Shimon Peres at Davos shortly after. But Erdogan felt betrayed precisely because he had been deeply committed to the success of the earlier peace talks. That good motivation and good energy should certainly not be forgotten.
Syrians across the board also really appreciate the kind of lifestyle model they find when they visit Turkey-- as, increasingly, they do in droves, thanks to the abolition of visa requirements across the long shared border. Syrian intellectuals wonder earnestly how long it would take their country to catch up with the kind of economy and life they see in eastern Turkey-- and that they see portrayed on the many Turkish soap operas that now compete very well, along with their own, Damascus-produced soaps, across the whole Arab media market.

One notable thing that's happened along the way is that the resentment that an earlier generation of Syrians still felt at the fact that colonial France had gratuitously (in their view) "given away" the whole ethnic-Arab province of Alexandretta to Turkey on the eve of WWII has now just about completely dissipated. That province, now Hatay in Turkey, is just another part of Turkey that Syrians like to visit.

... Well, I don't have time to write more here about this. Democratizing this regime in Syria is not an easy prospect for anyone to undertake, even if Pres. Asad has the best of intentions. (And, as I noted, trying to do this while a belligerent Israel still occupies Mount Hermon and an additional huge chunk of Golan, and makes periodic belligerent declarations towards Syria makes it even harder.) But as I noted in my last blog post, Turkey has a strong incentive to try to undertake the task successfully.

NEWS RELEASE 8th Anniversary of Aafia Siddiqui's Disappearance

Fowzia Siddiqui, sister of Aafia Siddiqui, lights earthenware lamps with activists of Pasban at an event held to pay homage to victims of quake-hit Japan, in Karachi on March 22, 2011. More than 21,000 people are confirmed dead or listed as missing after a 9.0-magnitude quake struck off Japan's northeastern coast in March 11, unleashing a giant tsunami that swept away entire towns. (NOTE to reporters: often this campaign reaches out to show solidarity and concern with other peoples, victims & their family, and peace with justice groups inside and outside Pakistan)

Bruce Kent, Vice President of Pax Christi and an ardent supporter of the campaign (Justice for Aafia-JFAC) noted:

“It is, in a cruel world, one of the cruellest stories I have ever heard. If we can’t do much more, at least we must not ever keep quiet. Persistent voices do get heard. There is always hope - the Mandela release is proof of that; but how many times before it happened I thought to myself that his case was hopeless. I was wrong.”

(reposted on top from the following announcement)

Campaigners Rally at Pakistan and US Embassies on 8th Anniversary of Aafia Siddiqui's Disappearance

March 29 2011
Justice for Aafia Coalition (JFAC)

LONDON – 30 March 2011 marks the eighth anniversary of the abduction of Pakistani national, Dr Aafia Siddiqui and her three children, the youngest of whom remains missing.

In protest of her ongoing detention, demonstrators in London will congregate at the Pakistan Embassy, London and proceed as part of a symbolic mock-funeral procession, marking the death of US Justice and Pakistan’s Honour. Protestors will march through central London and conclude with a rally outside the US embassy, London, in solidarity with Aafia Siddiqui and her family and calling for her urgent release and repatriation to Pakistan. Prominent speakers will address the rally, including barrister and Professor of Law Bill Bowring, playwright Victoria Brittain, representatives from the Haldane Law Society, Stop the War Coalition, Muslim Council of Britain, Islamic Human Rights Commission, MPAC, HTB, JFAC and Imams respected in the Muslim community.

Baroness Sarah Ludford, Liberal Democrat European Justice and Human Rights spokesperson, commented:

“This occasion represents a great opportunity not only to raise awareness of Aafia’s situation and demonstrate our solidarity with her, but also to expose the shocking treatment by the United States of certain suspects and prisoners. I utterly condemn the secret abduction and detention of any person and deplore the denial of the basic right to a fair trial. As a champion of democracy, liberty and the rule of law the US must uphold these principles in its treatment of prisoners. There can be no denial of human rights for these are absolute and untouchable."

Black Wednesday – JFAC Rally

Time: 5pm

Pakistan Embassy,

34-36 Lowndes Square, London SW1X 9JN

Procession Departs - 5.30pm

Rally – US Embassy, Grovesnor Square, London


Notes for editor:

1. The Justice for Aafia Coalition is an umbrella body for a number of organizations, groups, and activists established in February 2010 to campaign for the release and return of Aafia Siddiqui and for the opening of a full investigation into the circumstances of her detention and the whereabouts of her children.

2. Siddiqui’s lawyers maintain that she was abducted by the Pakistani authorities along with her three children in 2003 and rendered to Afghanistan where she was detained by American forces for over five years. A report released by the International Justice Network provided testimony from senior Pakistani intelligence officials corroborating Siddiqui’s account. Dr Aafia claims she was abused, raped and tortured throughout her detention. She was convicted of allegedly firing on US soldiers while in custody in what appears to have been a grave miscarriage of justice in February 2010.

3. Following her sentencing of 86 years in September 2010, Siddiqui is currently held in FMC Carswell, Texas, a facility notoriously known as the ‘hospital of horrors’, infamous for its abusive treatment of female inmates. She has been denied any contact with her family or lawyers for months and has been deprived of the right to appoint counsel of her choosing.

4. Dr Siddiqui’s youngest child, 6 months old at the time of his disappearance in 2003, remains unaccounted for.

5. For full details of Aafia Siddiqui’s case, please CLICK here



Additional notes to reporters/editors/peacethrujustice activists:

If there are Pakistani-Americans and Americans of ALL backgrounds who have the conscience and courage to join other socially committed Muslims and non-Muslims for a demonstration scheduled April 9th at 10 am in Ft. Worth, Texas (where Aafia is currently being held in solitary confinement) - please find a way to join others who care to non-violently protest GRAVE alarming injustices to Dr. Aafia - for more information please go to

Also please read this article if you haven't "Barbaric 86-year Sentence for Aafia Siddiqui" here

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

In Lahore, Pakistanis Welcome Spring

All photos are Sajid Mehmood and Julie McCarthy for NPR USA

Players at the Polo Grounds of Lahore. The National Polo Championship culminates their season and caps the unofficial start of spring.

(Excerpt I love: "...songbirds herald the season. Their singing is so frenzied it manages to compete with the boisterous call to prayer." Isn't this a beautiful auditory painting of the calling on us all worldwide? Connie, blogger here)

March 28, 2011 The rites of spring endure even in times of hardship.

As the Japanese await their cherry blossoms, the Pakistanis too anticipate spring. Flowers, fashion shows, the air redolent with orange blossoms all transform life in Lahore, Pakistan's cultural capital, this time of year.

And despite the country's calamities and conflicts, the detritus of winter is swept away.

Article by Julie McCarthy/NPR

Painter Iqbal Hussain's terrace overlooks the fabled Badshahi Mosque, dating to the Mughal emperors. "This is the best part of Lahore: We have all four seasons in Lahore, and the spring is the best one," he says. Outside the resplendent Badshahi Mosque, dating to the Mughal emperors, songbirds herald the season. Their singing is so frenzied it manages to compete with the boisterous call to prayer.

"This is the best part of Lahore: We have all four seasons in Lahore, and the spring is the best one," he says.

His perch, four stories up, lends the painter a dreamy perspective on a city stroked by gentle breezes and bursting with new life. "The warm clothes will be gone and the colorful clothes will come out," he says. Women will wear lovely perfume, he says, blending with the scent of blossoming flowers.

"The amaltas tree, the brilliant yellow of it comes out, which I always paint every year," Hussain says. "I'm waiting for the season of the yellow flowers to bloom up. It's all yellow everywhere. It's so beautiful!"

Clumsy overcoats are being shed for thin, gossamer-like cotton. Pakistan's specialty cotton known as lawn is the fashionistas' way of vanquishing winter.

"I'm in love with this fabric," says model Noor Bhatti. "The country, the climate we come from, it is bloody hot. So it's airy, it's breezy, it's soft. You wear it; it's comfortable. And it's one of the favorite fabrics in this country or in this region."

A who's who of Pakistani designers beats a path to Lahore this time of year to splash out their spring/summer lawn creations in a nonstop swirl of exhibitions.

Lahore model Noor Bhatti stands before designer Veneeza Ahmed's lawn collection. Bhatti says the "light, airy" lawn represents "renewal" and the impending start of spring.

Designer Shamaeel of Karachi is the queen of lawn. "In the British Raj, it used to be called Woven Wind," Shamaeel says. "It's very lightweight and great for summer."

It's designed for women to make their own wardrobe. A bit under 16 1/2 yards of the fabric and a designer pattern cost approximately $40. There's a separate cost for a tailor to stitch the tunic and trousers that are Pakistan's signature dress.

Shamaeel says prices are up significantly because last year's catastrophic floods devastated the country's cotton crop.

"The price of the yarn became dear, yes, that goes without saying, so naturally the prices have seen an upward trend," Shamaeel says. "And next year, our cotton crops will have so much silt we will probably outdo the international market. So I look at it more positively."

With springtime come hope, traditional music and the happy crack of a cricket bat on just about any empty lot in the city. Bagpipers mark the culmination of the season at the national polo tournament.

Ajaz, Pakistan's leading watercolorist, is wistful about Lahore's losing its most fabled rite of spring: kite-flying, one of his favorite subjects.

"It is as if the sky has been sprinkled with 100,000 colors, colored flowers," says Ajaz, who goes by one name.

Kite-flying has been banned for the third straight year because contestants keen to win string their twine with metal and glass to cut their opponents' string, to deadly effect.

Ajaz says the terrorism that has stalked Lahore requires a season of soothing. "Let these tragedies not dull our spirits," he says. "When there are tragedies around, we ever more need entertainments to relieve us of the gloom that is around us."

For Lahore resident Mussarat Misbah, the remaining spring festivals distract the city if only for a short while from the threat of extremist bombings that the people here live with every day.

"All these activities actually take your mind off all the sad things that are happening around you. It's amazing; it's beautiful," Misbah says.

Ajaz (adds that) the misery of terror and bloodshed that have stalked Lahore require a season of soothing.

"Let these tragedies not dull our spirits," Ajaz says. "When there are tragedies around, we ever more need entertainments to relieve us of the gloom that is around us."

To hear this roughly 5 minute piece, GO here

Friday, March 25, 2011

Peace That Passeth Understanding & Rumi's Reflections on War

Kabir Helminski,
Threshold Society,
March 26, 2003

Some people have asked us for spiritual advice in this time of war. At the beginning of Book Six of his Mathnawi, Mevlana Rumi tells us that his book is “a lamp in the darkness of imagination, bewilderment, fantasies, doubt, and suspicion.” In the following lines Mevlana refers to all of worldly existence as a state of war. The world is maintained by heedlessness; oppositions are the pillars of existence. Even the four elements are continually at war with each other:

Mevlana’s Meditation on War

The snakes are scattering venom
and though the sour-faced folks distress us,
yet up in the mountains in hives among the trees
communities of bees still create their stores of honey.
As much as the poisoners spread their poisons,
these antidotes will neutralize them.
When you reflect, this world is all in conflict, particle with particle,
just as spirituality is in conflict with denial.

One particle flies to the left, and another to the right.
One particle flies up and another down:
Witness the conflict in every movement.
All of this visible strife is the result of hidden strife:
This outer discord springs from that inner discord. . .
By means of truly unto him we are returning.
We have come back from ourselves to Your Ocean,
and we have begun to nurse at the source that suckled us.

Phantoms have distracted you from the path,
so don’t boast of principles,
if you have lost the Principle.
Our war and our peace are in the light of essence:
It does not depend on us alone, everything is
between the two fingers of God.
The wars of nature, action, language—these terrible conflicts
exist in all the parts of this universe.
This world is maintained by means of these wars:
consider the elements in order to solve these difficulties.
The four elements are four strong pillars
by which the roof of this present world is supported.
One pillar is a destroyer of another:
the pillar of water is a destroyer of the pillar of fire.
And so this whole edifice of creation
is founded upon conflicts;
and for better or worse we are at war.
My own states oppose each other:
each is in conflict with the other.
If I am constantly warring against myself,
how can I be in harmony with another?
Behold the surging armies of my states,
each at war and in conflict with another.
Contemplate this same poignant war in yourself:
why then be so busy warring with others?
Unless God spares you from this war
and brings you into the single-colored world of peace?

Mathnawi, Book VI: 33-39, 41-55, Translated by Kabir Helminski

These words are a reminder of the conditions of life on earth and the conditions within ourselves. These words point toward the spiritual work and inner transformation that are necessary. They are not meant to lull us into a state of spiritual complacency or inaction. Each must decide what action is necessary and effective in establishing just peace and true harmony. Yet, the polarized and precarious world situation calls for renewed remembrance and reliance on God.

If we look to the ninety-nine names of God for some insight, we will surely find something to help us remember what is real and true. Consider these two divine attributes:

Al Qayyum, (Self-Subsistent). The idea behind Qayyum is that all of life is given existence through the One who truly exists. That nothing is meaningless, purposeless, pointless. That which gave us existence maintains each of us. Even while the stream of life flows by in the horizontal dimension, Al Qayyum is eternally present as the vertical dimension.

Should we become disheartened, out of balance, and reactive at this time of obvious disunity and conflict, Al Qayyum can realign us. Nevertheless, even though dogs bark, the moon travels steadily in its orbit; even though crows caw, the fruit ripens in the orchard. This is not a call for placidness or passivity, but for a centering in the depths of our being. We can understand this deep centering if we remember that everything that exists is dependent on that Self-Subsistent One who gave us our existence and maintains each of us.

As Samad (the Only Satisfier of Needs). Samad is that One which is independent of all needs, yet can satisfy all needs. To know that we can turn toward That which has no needs, in order that our own need will be recognized. We can contribute to satisfying the dire needs of the world around us if we remember that As Samad is the true satisfier of needs, the One who looks after the need of every living thing. It may very well be that this is accomplished through the actions of God’s conscious servants here in the world, not merely through some ineffable power and grace. . . but that too.

Some of the needs that I recognize right now include:

The need not to be consumed with resentment, bitterness, discouragement, or hate.
The need to see what is truly required of me, both in action and presence.
The need to be in such a state of consciousness that I can help to dispel ignorance and illusion.

Much of humanity is enslaved to illusions rooted in fear and self-righteousness. There is much pathos in this—each side convinced of its own moral rightness. Even more touching are those caught in the middle of this pointless violence. May As Samad be a comfort to them.

Rumi has said that “All human beings are children except for those who are intoxicated with God. The wars of humankind are like children’s fights—all meaningless, pointless, and contemptible. They are all fighting with wooden swords; all their reasons are futile. They get on their hobby-horses and imagine they are riding a magical steed like Buraq, or Muhammad’s mule, Duldul. Wait until the day when those who are really borne aloft by God shall pass, galloping beyond the nine tiers of heaven.”

May we deepen our practice, our prayer and remembrance, and our giving.

I found this today here

I also found these two posts today which harmonize well with the reflections above.
One of these poem-sets I am now going to post at the top of my site no more crusades dot

Rumi on War and Conflict here

Love Is here

Photo found at laleh's flickr page here Be sure to see her photo labeled East of Khuzestan Province (South West of Iran)

Also, I hope you'll enjoy the series of Springlight reflections to enhance your own peace of mind - in the posts below. (these include Rumi & a few other other poets/visionaries as well as some of my own "choreography"...)

Global Conversations Series -- poem on What is NOT our real life

For the details GO here

Go to the Code Pink URL above to find out how to participate. The Introductory teleconference is Wednesday - end of March - make sure you note the time the conference will take place & match it to your own...and put the others on your calendar as well.

Being a pacifist
does not mean being a passive-ist

This wise Sufi is new to me, so apologies if he's not your cup of tea...nevertheless I do like his inclusion of us all (instead of the all too often message that most of us will be left behind) and reminders of Divine Love such as how we're created to contain so much more than we often see in Self/Each Other...and finally - what DOES NOT CHANGE...

Bawa Muhaiyaddeen – The things that change are not our real life

Posted: 25 Mar 2011 08:48 AM PDT

The things that change are not our real life
by Bawa Muhaiyaddeen

The things that change are not our real life.
Within us there is another body, another beauty.
It belongs to that ray of Light which never changes.
We must discover how to mingle with It and become one
with that Unchanging thing.

We must realize and understand this treasure of Truth.
That is why we have come to the world.
Within your heart in a space no bigger than an atom,
God has placed the 18,000 universes.

— from A Book of God’s Love, by M. R. Bawa Muhaiyaddeen

Dignity, Culture and Life for Peasant Farmers (Minus Monsanto)

AND how Monsanto is trying to change the LIFE, HEALTH, RESOURCES and DIGNITY of us ALL (for a hellish scenario): Environment/Nature:

Peasant Seeds: Dignity, Culture and Life. Farmers in Resistance to Defend their Right to Peasant Seeds. Report from La Via Campesina
Originally posted Thursday, Mar 17, 2011 here


Farmers throughout the world are the victims of a war for control over seeds. Our agricultural systems are threatened by industries that seek to control our seeds by all available means. The outcome of this war will determine the future of humanity, as all of us depend on seeds for our daily food.

One actor in this war is the seed industry that uses genetic engineering, hybrid technologies and agrochemicals. Its aim is the ownership of seeds as a source of increased profits. They do this by forcing farmers to consume its seeds and become dependent on them. The other actor is peasants and family farmers who preserve and reproduce seeds within living, local, peasant and indigenous seed systems, seeds that are the heritage of our peoples, cared for and reproduced by men and women peasants. They are a treasure that we farmers generously place at the service of humanity.

Industry has invented many ways of stealing our seeds in order to manipulate them, mark them with property titles, and thereby force us, the farming peoples of the world, to buy new seeds from them every year, instead of saving and selecting them from our harvest to plant the following year. The industry’s methods include genetically modified organisms (GMOs) and hybrid seeds, which cannot be reproduced by farmers, as well as industrial property over seeds, including patents and plant variety certificates, all of which are imposed through international treaties and national laws. These are but different forms of theft, as all industrial seeds are the product of thousands of years of selection and breeding by our peoples. It is thanks to us, peasants and farmers, that humanity has at hand the great diversity of crops that, together with animal breeding, feeds the world today.

In their drive to build monopolies and steal our natural wealth, corporations and the governments who serve them place at risk all of humanity’s food and agriculture. A handful of genetically uniform varieties replace thousands of local varieties, eroding the genetic diversity that sustains our food system. Faced with climate change, diversity is a strength, and uniformity a weakness. Commercial seeds drastically reduce the capacity of humanity to face and adapt to climate change. This is why we maintain that peasant agriculture and its peasant seeds contribute to the cooling of the planet.

Our communities know that hybrid and genetically modified seeds require enormous quantities of pesticides, chemical fertilizers and water, driving up production costs and damaging the environment. Such seeds are also more susceptible to droughts, plant diseases and pest attacks, and have already caused hundreds of thousands of cases of crop failures and have left devastated household economies in their wake. The industry has bred seeds that cannot be cultivated without harmful chemicals. They have also been bred to be harvested using large machinery and are kept alive artificially to withstand transport. But the industry has ignored a very important aspect of this breeding: our health. The result is industrial seeds that grow fast have lost nutritional value and are full of chemicals. They cause numerous allergies and chronic illnesses, and contaminate the soil, water and air that we breathe.

In contrast, peasant systems for rediscovering, re-valuing, conserving and exchanging seeds, together with local adaptation due to the local selection and reproduction in farmers’ fields, maintain and increase the genetic biodiversity that underlies our world food systems and gives us the required capacity and flexibility to address diverse environments, a changing climate and hunger in the world.

Our peasant seeds are better adapted to local growing conditions. They also produce more nutritious food, and are highly productive in agroecological farming systems without pesticides or other expensive inputs. But GMOs and hybrids contaminate our seeds and put them in danger of extinction. They replace our seeds in their places of origin and lead to their disappearance. Humanity cannot survive without peasant seeds, yet corporate seeds put their very existence at risk.

Let us not be mistaken. We are faced with a war for control over seeds. And our common future depends on its outcome. It is through this lens that we must analyze the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (ITPGRFA), in order to understand what is at stake and what positions we should take.

The International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture

First we must situate the Treaty in its historical context of constant attempts to steal our seeds. The industry and most governments are using the Treaty to legitimate the industry’s access to those peasant seeds that are stored in collections around the world. The Treaty recognizes and legitimizes industrial property over seeds, thus creating the required conditions for theft and monopoly control. In the Treaty, the florid language used to describe Farmers’ Rights entrusts individual states with the responsibility for their implementation. However, states do not apply them. Therefore the mentioning of these rights is only an attempt to inoculate the Treaty against our possible protests and denunciations.

The result is a treaty that legitimates the World Trade Organization (WTO) and laws on industrial property rights. It is therefore legally binding with respect to industrial property rights and the rights of plant breeders, while allowing states not to respect Farmers’ Rights. It is a contradictory and ambiguous treaty, which in the final analysis comes down on the side of theft.

This does not mean that all is lost. The Treaty can be amended from the peasant point of view, but the changes would have to be major and immediate. La Via Campesina affirms that:We cannot conserve biodiversity and feed the world while our rights to save, use, exchange and sell our seeds are criminalized by laws that legalize the privatization and commodification of seeds. The Seed Treaty is the only treaty to date to contemplate farmers’ rights. However states do not respect these rights, in opposition to their respect of industrial property rights. Therefore, the Treaty must give peasant rights the highest priority, and these rights must be legally binding. They must be guaranteed in every one of the 127 countries that have ratified the Treaty.

The Treaty itself contradicts farmers’ rights when it promotes patents and other forms of industrial property over seeds. All forms of patents; plant variety protection and its royalties on farm-reproduced seeds; as well as all other forms of industrial property over life must be banned in the Treaty.

Industry incurred an immense debt by appropriating our seeds and by destroying cultivated biodiversity in order to replace it with a few manipulated varieties. Industry must repay this past debt, but doing so by no means gives it the right to continue appropriating our seeds. Industry must pay and it must also stop with the appropriation of seeds and the destruction of biodiversity.

The Treaty proposes the “sharing of the benefits” of the industrial property rights that it recognizes. These “benefits” result from the very theft of our peasant seeds. We do not want to be offered the proceeds from the theft of our seeds; we do not want benefit sharing because we do not want industrial property rights on seeds.
We demand public policies in favor of living, farmers’ seed systems, systems that are in our communities and under our control. These public policies should promote reproducible local seeds, but not non-reproducible seeds, like hybrids. They should prohibit monopolies, and favour instead agroecology, access to land and good care of the soil. These policies should also facilitate participative research in farmers’ fields and under the control of farmers’ organizations, not the control of the industry. We call on our communities to continue to conserve, care for, develop and share our peasant seeds: this is the best form of resistance against theft and the best way to maintain biodiversity.

Centralized gene banks do not respond to the needs of farmers. They are seed museums for the benefit of biopirate corporations, and offer no real access to peasant peoples. Moreover, our seeds are in danger inside these banks, threatened by genetic contamination and industrial property rights. We cannot trust governments or the Treaty to conserve them. We refuse to turn our seeds over to the gene banks of the multilateral systems and of the industry as long as the following remain in existence: patents on plants, their genes or other plant parts; other industrial property rights systems such as plant variety protection which demand royalties on farm-saved seeds; GMOs.

The commodification of seeds is seriously threatening our peasant seeds in Asia, Latin America and Africa. But in some of our countries, especially in Europe and North America, the commercial monopoly of industrial seeds has already done away with the majority of local varieties. In these countries, we can no longer carry out farmer selection using the varieties that are commercially available, because they are manipulated in such a way that they will not grow well without chemical inputs or industrial processes. They have lost much of their nutritional value and are increasingly modified genetically. We cannot select our new peasant varieties based on the seeds of our parents which are locked up in gene banks. We must have unconditional access to the banks of the multilateral system because it is our seeds that are kept there.

We farmers can keep our seeds first and foremost in our fields, but also in our granaries, seed barns and local community seed saving systems which also constitute small “ex situ collections”. We put these “ex situ collections” as close as possible to our fields so that farmers maintain control over them, responsibility for them and access to them. To paraphrase the Treaty, we farmers construct our own “multilateral system”. This is the basis upon which we can collaborate with the Treaty by reminding it that it is not the only entity carrying out seed conservation. If the Treaty wants to collaborate with us, it must respect our rules and our rights, and forbid Industrial Property Rights and GMOs.

Since the process of the Treaty is carried out within the United Nations, it is national states that have the responsibility to protect peasant seed systems. Yet, the World Trade Organization (WTO) renders the rights of plant breeders legally binding, while the rights of farmers are not respected. We demand that farmers’ rights be mandatory and that the rights of breeders be subordinated to these farmers’ rights. This necessarily entails the repeal of seed laws that privatize and commodify seeds and deny peasant rights. We demand the adoption of national laws that recognize Farmers’ Rights. La Via Campesina calls for the rapid approval and ratification of an international convention on peasant rights in the United Nations. Agriculture and seeds have no place in the WTO and Free Trade Agreements.

This Treaty is but part of a series of challenges that peasant and indigenous peoples are facing today. The Rio + 20 process is a clear confrontation between ‘greenwashed’ capitalism, and peasant agriculture, agroecology and our peasant seeds. La Via Campesina will act to defend agroecology and farmers’ seeds which represent hope and are the future of humanity. As we have shown, sustainable peasant agriculture can both contribute to the cooling of the planet and feed the world.

If governments commit to reforming the Treaty by effectively and actively defending Farmers’ Rights, we are willing to collaborate with the Treaty, including in a parallel committee, modeled on the Committee for Food Security that accompanies the FAO process in Rome. But we do not want to open the door to a collaboration with the Treaty that will thrust us into interminable discussions while GMOs, hybrids and industrial property rights expel us from our fields. Whether or not the Treaty recognizes those of us who are the stewards of biodiversity, we will continue to work within our own peasant seed systems, which have assured genetic diversity and fed the world in the past, and will continue to do so in the future. We are keeping seeds not only for ourselves, but also for our children. Peasant seeds are the heritage of peasant communities and indigenous peoples in the service of humanity.

For further information on the subject of biodiversity and the danger of bio-chemical corporations killing sustainable farming - the only way of feeding the billions of hungry people in the world - see the Organic Movement, Navdanya, and its founder Dr. Vandana Shiva, India.

Quote: "Navdanya has pioneered the conservation of biodiversity in India and built a movement for the protection of small farmers through promotion of ecological farming and fair trade to ensure the healthy, diverse and safe food. The movement is now spread throughout India through our partner organizations and farmers networks."

Recommended viewing:
The World According to Monsanto – A documentary that you won’t see on American television. The gigantic biotech corporation Monsanto is threatening to destroy the agricultural biodiversity which has served mankind for thousands of years. (the documentary that shook the world, by Marie-Monique Robin, March 2008) - Wide Eye Cinema

See other related items following:

The Man who beat Monsanto or CLICK here

Pay Monsanto or Starve! (What kind of world is this?) or CLICK here

Haitian Farmers reject "gift" and BURN Monsanto seeds:
Haitian Farmers Reject Monsanto Donation
The Peasant Movement of Papay, a group of Haitian farmers, has committed to burning 60,000 seed sacks (475 tons) of hybrid corn and vegetable seeds donated by Monsanto in the wake of the devastating earthquake earlier this year.

Peasant Movement of Papay leader Chavannes Jean-Baptiste called Monsanto's donation "a new earthquake" and called for a march to protest the corporation's presence in Haiti for World Environment Day.

The National Peasant Movement of the Congress of Papay sent an open letter on May 14 signed by Jean-Baptiste. The letter called Monsanto's presence in Haiti, "a very strong attack on small agriculture, on farmers, on biodiversity, on Creole seeds..., and on what is left of our environment in Haiti."

In addition to MPNKP and MPP, other Haitian social movements have advocated in opposition to agribusiness imports of seeds and food. The groups have expressed strong concern regarding the importation of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) as they undermine local production of local seed stocks....READ rest
or CLICK here

Iraq Deaths Estimator The REAL victor in Iraq: Monsanto? (Death to dignity and increased disease from GM seeds added to all the others...) or CLICK here

Opposition to OBAMA'S choice for US Agricultural Trade Rep.
98 Organizations Oppose Obama's Monsanto Man Feb 22, 2010 ... 98 Organizations Oppose Obama's Monsanto Man - CLICK HERE TO TAKE ACTION here

ONGOING campaign this year culminating in large WORLD-WIDE EVENTS to end Monsanto's empire-like reach across the world. or CLICK here

photo on top of this post was found here

Articles at "No More Crusades"

How tragic all the wars and hints of war around the world this day.

I want to mainly hold oneheartforpeace for the more inspiring and universal oneness reminders. However, the reality of the violence in the name of democracy is way out of hand around the world, unfortunately largely perpetuated by the nation I live in, the USA...and so I am seeking to post some of what I see as significant analysis and reports from peacemakers across the globe at my blogsite, nomorecrusades.

Visit it and respond and let's at the same time help one another to keep our balance and sense of well-being in order to act out of personal and united strength, peace and spiritual resources.

Let's remember that we each individually and together design with our lives a legacy for the children of the world as well as our own and those of our habitat. What kind of legacy are we designing?

Find the following most recent posts at nomorecrusades or CLICK here

“The No-Fly Zone Has Always Been a Recipe for Disaster" Jonathan Scahill

Kucinich Calls War on Libya Impeachable

Events for Dr. Aafia Siddiqui

Deciphering the attacks on Pakistani Nationals...

(Pakistan) Court releases detailed judgment in Davis case

Beware of diplomats, they have license to kill

Actions for Peace and Justice in North Carolina

US-Pakistan After Raymond Davis

Don't take Pakistan for granted: US told

US celebrates Davis release by killing 41 ( by drone )

And you will find MANY others if you scroll rapidly through through the archives which also give inspiration and hope for doing all we can to prevent and end war and resist another bloody crusade or WWIII.

Springlight: Robert Frost

TO THE THAWING WIND (posted here as a celebration of Robert Frost's birthday on March 26th)

Come with rain, O loud Southwester!
Bring the singer, bring the nester;
Give the buried flower a dream;
Make the settled snow-bank steam;
Find the brown beneath the white;
But whate'er you do to-night,
Bathe my window, make it flow,
Melt it as the ice will go;
Melt the glass and leave the sticks
Like a hermit's crucifix;
Burst into my narrow stall;
Swing the picture on the wall;
Run the rattling pages o'er;
Scatter poems on the floor;
Turn the poet out the door.

Also see his “Spring Pools” (1928)

These pools that, though in forests, still reflect
The total sky almost without defect,
And like the flowers beside them, chill and shiver,
Will like the flowers beside them soon be gone,
And yet not out by any brook or river,
But up by roots to bring dark foliage on.
The trees that have it in their pent-up buds
To darken nature and be summer woods---
Let them think twice before they use their powers
To blot out and drink up and sweep away
These flowery waters and these watery flowers
From snow that melted only yesterday.

Born in San Francisco but a self-adopted son of New England, Frost developed a style that remains fresh. It amalgamates qualities of mind (irony, wit), invention in phrasing (rural in its roots yet beneath it all educated and well read), and first-hand contact with local nature. He seeks nature but refuses the sentimental and transcendent sides of Romanticism. Poems such as (his) “Spring Pools” seem at first easy. Then one discovers how demanding, taut, and efficient the form is, and how closely Frost has observed what he depicts. The lines also capture complex ecological processes—forest growth and succession, wild flowers, light, shade, the change of seasons, hydrology, and the role of temporary wetlands.

And of course, I have to add a childhood favorite (that takes on new meanings later in life):

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence;
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I --
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

Frost said his poem "The Road Not Taken" was tricky-very tricky. Three things make his poem tricky-the time frame, and the words "sigh" and "difference."

Frost claims that he wrote this poem about his friend Edward Thomas, with whom he had walked many times in the woods near London. Frost has said that while walking they would come to different paths and after choosing one, Thomas would always fret wondering what they might have missed by not taking the other path. never know what your choice will mean until you have lived it.

Is the sigh one of nostalgic relief or perhaps regre - the “oh, dear” kind of sigh, but also the “what a relief” kind of sigh. Or something else?

These reflections on "Two Roads..." found here

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Springlight: To Know and Not to Know

Three poets on finding true wisdom

You who know, and whose vast knowing
is born of poverty, abundance of poverty--

make it so the poor are no longer
despised and thrown away.

Look at them standing about--
like wildflowers, which have nowhere else to grow.*

...I know that my spirit belongs
to the Spirit of all Spirit.

I know that I belong to the city
of those who have no place.

But to find my way there
I need to let go of my knowing. **

...When we reached the heights Jesus stood still in the grove of laurels and said,
"Rest here, quiet your mind and tune your heart...Then we reclined on the grass, and the ... flowers were all about us and He sat in our midst and said:

Blessed are the serene in spirit.
Blessed are they not held by possessions, for they shall be free.

Blessed are they who remember their pain, and in their pain await their joy.

Blessed are they who hunger after truth and beauty,
for their hunger shall bring bread, and their thirst cool water.

Blessed are the kind, for they shall be consoled by this.

Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall be one with God.

Blessed are the merciful, for mercy shall be their portion...
and the peacemakers, for their spirit shall dwell ABOVE THE BATTLE,
and they shall turn the potter's field into a garden...

They who are hunted...shall be swift and winged.

Rejoice and be joyful when you find the kingdom of heaven within...

You are the salt of the earth...lose not your savor...for you are light
for the world. Put not that light under a bushel but rather let it shine
from the summit, to all who seek the City of God...***

*First section is from Rilke's Book of Hours: Love Poems from God (The Book of Poverty and Death p. 223 - III, 19)

**Second section above is from p. 159 "Rumi's Little Book of Love" (translations by Maryam Mafi and Azima Melita Kolin)

***Third section (end) is from Kahlil Gibran's "Jesus the Son of Man" - the chapter Matthew coalesced with The Sermon on the Mount. Here are some more references to Gibran's work and the similar Zeffrelli who gives an interview on his personal belief related to his film-making here and here

Photo above: In Death Valley even the hottest and driest place in California (USA- in a state where I lived many of my early years) harbors life. So many metaphors here for our wayward and often dry lives: Wildflower seeds hibernate years below the surface waiting for a tiny drop of water. After the El-Nino rains shower the desert, life shifts into overdrive. Colorful flowers pop up and cacti put on a show, competing for pollinators, spectators, and photo-creators. Thus, within a few weeks, the resourceful plants have fulfilled their life’s destiny, sprang new seeds, and withered away in the unforgiving, scorching heat of Death Valley. Find original posting here

Photo at end of the poet trio represents moments of listening to the "still, small voice" of the "wisdom from above" not unlike the words spoken on the sermon on the mount. Find the original art "Psalm 23" here and find the artist's humble statement here

Plz come back to see soon a post below entitled: Springlight: Compatibility of Opposites -- my poem in the making -- and to see a poem in honor of St. Francis of Assisi as well...

Monday, March 21, 2011

Springlight (day-by-day with the poetic and wise)

water set in beauty often remind me of life, spring, eternal wisdom... find more on this lake at end of post...

How easy to see how the wise with eyes well beyond their time rejoiced in the lessons of nature. Here's for example Rumi: I can't stop pointing to the beauty. Every moment and place says, "Put this design in your carpet!"

Today is an especially perfect day here in our lovely, small town of gentle mountains and wild waterfalls. My thoughts have been filled with anguish over many weeks due to the sadness and despair of so many. However today, after some refreshing meditation and lots of SPRING work, I once again turn to certain Wise Men for guidance - especially when spring has entered some of our cities and yet when we know that the hearts and lives of MANY are far from such a place of heavenly atmosphere...

The poet-visionaries whom I will feature from day to day this week - especially Rumi, Rilke and Jesus (who all were MUCH more - especially, I believe, Jesus) had plenty to say observing nature, human kind and their experience of God who is Love. The following pieces of wisdom - from these three great ones - strike me as especially pertinent and illuminating for Spring in our day and time as well as in their time walking among us.

First Day of Spring: Jalal al-Din Muhammad Rumi or مولانا جلال الدين محمد بلخى Jalal ad-Din Muhammad Balkhi (30 September 1207 – 17 December 1273) was a Persian philosopher, theologian, poet, teacher, and founder of the Mevlevi (or Mawlawi) order of Sufism; also known as Mevlana (Our Guide), Jalaluddin Rumi, or simply Rumi.

Here are some of his most beloved words to women, men and children of all ages and times:

Love is the ark appointed for the righteous,
Which annuls the danger and provides a way of escape.
Sell your cleverness and buy bewilderment. Cleverness is mere opinion, bewilderment is intuition.

Everyone has been made for some particular work, and the desire for that work has been put in every heart.

Come, worshipper, agnostic, lover of leaving - it doesn't matter who you are....
Come even though you have broken your vows a thousand times, Come, and come yet again. Ours is not a caravan of despair.

Let the beauty of what you love be what you do.

Reason is like an officer when the King appears;
The officer then loses his power and hides himself.
Reason is the shadow cast by God; God is the sun.

Everyone sees the unseen in proportion to the clarity of his heart, and that depends upon how much he has polished it...This discipline is a furnace to extract the silver from the dross. This testing purifies the gold by boiling the scum away.

The idol of your self is the mother of all idols.

Think how it is to have a conversation with an embryo. You might say, "The world outside is vast and intricate. There are wheatfields and mountain passes, and orchards in bloom. At night there are millions of galaxies, and in sunlight the beauty of friends dancing at a wedding."

You ask the embryo why he, or she, stays cooped up in the dark with eyes closed.

To Him we shall return.

You were born with wings. Why prefer to crawl through life?

God teaches by means of opposites, so that you will have two wings to fly, not one.

The lion who breaks the enemy's ranks
is a minor hero compared to the lion who overcomes himself.

If you are wholly perplexed and in straits,
have patience, for patience is the key to joy.

If you are irritated by every rub,
how will your mirror be polished?

Gamble everything for love, if you are a true human being.
Every object and being in the universe is a jar overflowing with wisdom and beauty, a drop of the Tigris that cannot be contained by any skin.

God's lion did nothing that didn't originate from his deep center.

Do not grieve. Anything you lose comes round again...
Move outside the tangle of fear-thinking. Live in silence
Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing, there is a field. I will meet you there.

Observe the wonders as they occur around you. Don't claim them. Feel the artistry moving through, and be silent.

I found the lake in the photo above here This scene is of Loughrea Lake ~ in Loughrea Baile or Loch Riach: the town of the grey or dappled lake - takes its name from the beautiful lake, on the northern shore of which the town stands. Lough Rea, a large limestone lake, covers an area of c.260 hectares which was most likely formed by erosion during the last Ice Age which ended about 9000 BC. In addition to providing the town's water supply, this attractive waterscape is Loughrea's most valued amenity. It is also of value in terms of its ornithology and archaeology.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Rilke and Joanna Macy's Wild Love for the World

(photo: “Holland Lake” by Trent Gilliss)

"Go to the Limits of Your Longing"
by Rainer Maria Rilke; translation by Joanna Macy and Anita Barrows

God speaks to each of us as he makes us,
then walks with us silently out of the night.

These are the words we dimly hear:

You, sent out beyond your recall,
go to the limits of your longing.
Embody me.

Flare up like a flame
and make big shadows I can move in.

Let everything happen to you: beauty and terror.
Just keep going. No feeling is final.
Don't let yourself lose me.

Nearby is the country they call life.
You will know it by its seriousness.

Give me your hand.

Book of Hours, I 59

( to hear Macy read this poem go here )

"Dear Darkening Ground"
by Rainer Maria Rilke; translation by Joanna Macy and Anita Barrows

"Dear Darkening Ground" by Rainer Maria Rilke.

Dear darkening ground,
you've endured so patiently the walls we've built,
perhaps you'll give the cities one more hour

and grant the churches and cloisters two.
And those that labor—let their work
grip them another five hours, or seven,

before you become forest again, and water, and widening wilderness
in that hour of inconceivable terror
when you take back your name
from all things.

Just give me a little more time!
I want to love the things
as no one has thought to love them,
until they're worthy of you and real.

Book of Hours, I 61

(to hear Macy read this poem go here )

I found this image here

Other select excerpts:

First lines Macy saw from Rilke which caught her attention: "I lived my life in widening circles...I've been circling around God (for ages) and still I don't know whether I'm a falcon or a great stone." and later " not impermanance the very fragrance of our days?"

Macy: "Before Buddhism was sweeping the West, I fell in love with the Tibetans - the way they loved life and their traditions.

'Rilke and Buddhist teachings use image after image from the natural world.

'Russian spirituality (is also) close to the earth..."

Macy also weaves into the interview with Krista Tippet and others how some Christian traditions - particularly from St. Francis and some hymns also stimulated her deep love for nature and the sacredness of the earth and world.

"We must stop treating the earth as a supply house and (the) world itself is sacred."

Macy on grief: "Fear of pain leads to mor pain."

"The Dance with Despair is pivotal in my life. When we (wait) with our fearfulness - our pain - it doesn't stay static - it turns into absolute inseparableness with all of life. (Macy gives metaphors here from her own life - and if/when we love either a sick mother or a sick world - we want to be with her...)

To see Krista Tippet's On Being interview with Joanna Macy and related items click here and here


See another site for Rilke here

Thursday, March 17, 2011

RUMI: Why our children need us to fly


What will
our children do in the morning?

Will they wake with their hearts wanting to play,
the way wings

Will they have dreamed the needed flights and gathered
the strength from the planets that all men and women need to balance
the wonderful charms of
the earth

so that her power and beauty does not make us forget our own?

I know all about the ways of the heart - how it wants to be alive.

Love so needs to love
that it will endure almost anything, even abuse,
just to flicker for a moment. But the sky's mouth is kind,
its song will never hurt you, for I
sing those words.

What will our children do in the morning
if they do not see us

~ Rumi ~

(Love Poems From God: Twelve Sacred Voices from the East and West - paraphrased by Daniel Ladinsky)

References to Raymond Davis: Pakistani Blog

Find here As an American, I'm sick about such misuse of leadership from the US end - along with such cover-ups in our media. Accountability on all ends is terribly lacking.

Monday, March 14, 2011

More on Asmaa - Egyptian heroine of the people

SEE Moral Heroes here

My earlier post on Asmaa "The Power of One" here under which the Moral Heroes blogger wrote: "Thanks for sharing the transcript of her now-famous video. She is truly a hero, so bold, strong and courageous. You might be interested to read more about her efforts and her history with activism over at"

By the way, I just happened to find another heroine on Moral Heroes and am thrilled:
Betty Williams, who once stayed on our little floor mattress in our then teeny little house. Read my comment under that one. FIND here

Another on Asmaa - and since older readers may find the title to be off-putting --note, that I am aware - since I have lots of young folk still around our home, area and events -- this doesn't mean literally what the words seem to say...(smiles) here

Related to Egypt and other similar issues (I love Helena Coban's site Just World News for all kinds of reasons - including sometimes the recipes! ) Egyptian activist Hossam on inspiration from Palestine posted by Helena Cobban GO here and here Dr. Levy - an Israel Brit: Also too little, too late? CLICK here and here

Friday, March 11, 2011

Helping Japanese/Libyans/Pakistanis in their great need

Pakistan Flood affectee

Libya and Japan

International Committee of the Red Cross

here A website to help reunite family in Japan - Strong demands for accountability in Libya

How to help Japan Earthquake Relief (various)


Libya and Japan (medical aid through Doctors Without Borders

here Libya

An awareness game for all ages which donates to affectees of Pakistan flood here Thousands of flood affectees still awaiting aid
Source: OUR STAFF REPORTER Submitted March 12-13, 2011

LAHORE - Calamity caused by the recent floods in Pakistan was extremely severe. Millions of people have lost their homes, land and all other assets. Though rehabilitation of flood affectees is well on the way but still a lot of work has to be done. All segments of society should join hands for the early rehabilitation of their catastrophe-hit brothers as thousands helpless families are still waiting for help.

These views were expressed by the LCCI President Shahzad Ali Malik while speaking at a meeting with the DCO Leyyah Javaid Iqbal here at the LCCI on Friday. The LCCI Senior Vice President Sheikh Mohammad Arshad, Vice President Sohail Azhar, MNA Pervez Malik, MPA Mehar Ejaz, LCCI Executive Committee Members Mian Zahid Javaid, Chaudhry Wajid Ali, Amjad Ali Jawa, Fahim-ur-Rehman Saigol, Kh. Khawar Rasheed, Ilyas Majeed Sheikh and Chairman SDC Rehmatullah Javed also spoke on the occasion.

Shahzad Ali Malik said that devastation scale was much bigger and government alone could not cope with the situation. He said that although the nation had never left any stone unturned for the help of their catastrophe-hit brothers but all segments of society should continue to play their vital role in reducing the stress of flood victims. Earlier, DCO Leyyah Javaid Iqbal gave a detailed presentation regarding the rehabilitation work going on under the vision of Chief Minister Punjab Mian Mohammad Shabaz Sharif.

He said that the recent flood had given a big blow to the agriculture sector of district Leyyah and people attached with this sector were in deep trouble.

Go to for this article here

For a wide variety of photos and posters concerning the Pakistan floods GO

Please come back for updates on how to help Pakistan flood affectees...

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

100,000 Homes Campaign USA

The 100,000 Homes Campaign brings together change agents from across the country to find and house 100,000 of the country’s most vulnerable and long-term homeless individuals and families over the next three years.Launched by Common Ground and a host of national and local partners, the Campaign is designed to fundamentally alter our response to homelessness by giving communities concrete tools and connecting them to each other so no one has to innovate alone.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Updated - Dr. Aafia Siddiqui - Peace Action//American Reports Added

THE APRIL 9th MOBILIZATION (continue to go to or click at here

With the recent release of the International Justice Network's (IJN) eye-opening report on Dr. Aafia Siddiqui, it is now A DOCUMENTED FACT that Aafia's RENDITION in Pakistan, and subsequent five year secret imprisonment overseas did indeed occur.

It is also a fact, in the opinion of many experts, that Aafia's forced removal to the United States; her subsequent pre-trial confinement under torturous conditions in the US; and the sham of a trial, and subsequent 86 year sentence (which has her where she is today) is a violation of the U.S.. Constitution and well established international law.

While the U.S. government exerts pressure on the Pakistani government for the release of a U.S. citizen ("Raymond Davis") who willfully and deliberately took two lives (while a "guest" in Pakistan) - and to ignore any facts that may stand in the way of that release - that same U.S. government has done everything in its power to bury the FACTS surrounding this wrongfully imprisoned Pakistani Muslim woman; and to bury the body, and further damage the mind and spirit of Aafia Siddiqui as well!

Insha'Allah, on Saturday, April 9, 2011 (at a time yet to be determined), a broad, Muslim-led coalition of concerned people will hold a demonstration at the federal facility in Fort Worth, Texas, where Aafia Siddiqui is currently being held...totally, and brutally, cut off from the outside world! If you are within driving distance of Ft. Worth, please mark your calendar and plan now to join us!
Our message to the U.S. Bureau of Prisons, the U.S. Department of Justice - and to all other relevant offices within the U.S. government - will be:
Accord Dr. Aafia Siddiqui the Human Rights that she is entitled to (even as a prisoner), under U.S. and International Law!

For additional information call: (301) 220-0133, or via e-mail:
Location : FMC Carswell, Texas

Also see more items at Free Aafia dot org and at International Justice Network here

For a writeup by Stephen Lendman on the following releases also posted on oneheartforpeace site GO to or click here

See International Justice Network for the most recent newer releases at here where you can find the following:

The report, Aafia Siddiqui: Just the Facts, reveals shocking new evidence that contradicts official statements from governments of both Pakistan and the United States that Dr. Siddiqui was not detained in their custody prior to her arrest in 2008. IJN has obtained a secret audio recording of a senior Pakistani police official who admits he was personally involved in the arrest of Dr. Siddiqui and her children eight years ago. This account is corroborated by substantial documentary evidence and witness testimony, which all points to the same conclusion—that Dr. Siddiqui and her three children were initially arrested in March 2003 with the knowledge and cooperation of local authorities in Karachi, Pakistan, and subsequently interrogated by Pakistani military intelligence (ISI) as well as U.S. intelligence agencies, including the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).

This shameful new revelation will not only establish a stage for holding specific political actors accountable for the grave injustice done to Dr. Siddiqui and her family, but should serve as a keystone for repairing the severed diplomatic ties between Pakistan and the United States. In a letter to Interior Minister, Rehman Malik, last week, IJN Executive Director, Tina M. Foster, urged the government of Pakistan to take immediate action to demand Dr. Siddiqui's repatriation, while the U.S. government is seeking the return of the Lahore shooter. In it, Ms. Foster stated:

"The safety and security of all Pakistani citizens is compromised when U.S. government agents can kill civilians on Pakistani soil with impunity, while the daughter of the nation (who has never caused harm or injury to anyone) languishes in a Texas prison for a crime she didn’t commit. Justice demands that Raymond Davis not be repatriated to the United States without securing the return of Dr. Siddiqui to Pakistan. The path is now clear. The only question that remains is whether the government of Pakistan is willing to take it."
To access report documents, please follow the links provided below:

Secret Audio Recording: Listen / Download / Download (Alternate) Right click and choose save as to download. These links are working. Check your browser settings if you are having trouble, or try back another time.

Find all the above here

Aafia Siddiqui: Just the Facts [Appendix A: Certified Transcript of Secret Audio Recording] View / Download 51K (Internet Explorer link)

Aafia Siddiqui: Just the Facts [Full Report] View / Download 134KB (Internet Explorer link)

Aafia Siddiqui: Just the Facts [Executive Summary] View / Download 55K (Internet Explorer link)

***Newly released video of Aafia Siddiqui - Graduation at M.I.T.*** View / Download 1MB (Internet Explorer link)

FIND plenty of important items on this case from years ago up until now.

This one is from one of the best American reporters who's book "The Best Terrorists We Could Find" is due out soon (Nation Books) - This report won an investigative reporting award and was written before either of the two older children were returned. The third child is considered killed or disappeared. GO here

Here's another Dr. Siddiqui classic report/much-visited article by another skilled American woman from 2006 here

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Walking is a Good Thing (Anywhere) from Fort Bragg, California, USA

California Coastline, USA***
Nice to unexpected-ly visit California via this pitch for walking - a pastime/exercise I love and my father before me. Great for my bloodpressure and inner peace.

I didn't write the following - was merely trying to find out what Fort Bragg, NC was up to these days...

Then, I found this post on a delightful, homey blog: Walking Fort Bragg (CALIFORNIA) & inspires/reminds me to WALK and notice more like flowers, children, birds, sky, beauty nearby as well as occasionally away...


Here's how it begins:

Food for thought and hopefully, action.

From the CEO of Kaiser Permanente via my brother in law who works at Kaiser:

Thanks Del.

It is time to celebrate walking.
There are very few things that we can do that have a more positive impact on our health and our lives than walking.

Walking feels good. Walking cheers people up. And walking has an amazing array of positive results when it comes to our health.
Studies have shown that walking 30 minutes a day, five days a week, can cut new cases of Type 2 diabetes by nearly half.

Our bodies are made to walk. Walking gets the blood flowing through our veins, and changes our blood chemistry to increase the percentage of good (HDL) cholesterol in our bodies.

Walking briskly for 30 minutes a day can reduce the risk of stroke by 25 percent. Walking can also have a positive impact on depression. People who walk report a lower level of depression. One very credible study of women who were depressed and started to walk showed that the women in the depression control group who did not walk had a Beck Depression Inventory (BDI) score of 13.5 points at the beginning of the study, and they still had a score of 12.5 points at the end of the 12-week study.

The women who were depressed and walked, however, had their BDI scores improve from an average of 14.81 at the beginning of the study to only 3.27 by the end of the 12-week study. That is a huge difference.

Another study showed that when people between the ages of 60 and 65 walked on a regular basis, they had a significantly lower risk of developing both cognitive impairment and dementia.

Reducing the risk of dementia is a good thing.

Walking definitely helps prevent heart disease. People have known that to be true for a long time.

What people didn’t know to be true until recently was that walking helped patients recovering from certain cancers survive longer. No one quite understands why this might be true, but the studies seem credible and the results seem clear. For prostate cancer, one study showed that patients who walked 90 minutes a week had an almost 50 percent lower mortality risk. Another study showed that for women recovering from breast cancer, regular walking reduced the relative rate of both recurrence and mortality by about 50 percent. Walking also seems to reduce the risk of colorectal cancer.

Our bodies clearly function better when we have walking as a regular part of our lives.

Another entirely unexpected benefit from walking is that it can help prevent the common cold -- and another credible study done at Appalachian State University reported that people who walked benefited by having their cold symptoms for as much as 46 percent less time than non-walkers who also had colds.

Again, no one really understands all of those benefits or why they happen.

The researchers from the cold symptom study theorized that walking makes the blood flow faster, so it is possible that increased blood flow brought the body’s natural immune system cells to each of the actual virus sites more often.

Over time, very smart people will figure out why those benefits exist.

Is it better to run or walk? That has been a topic of debate over time. People take both sides. What we know to be true is that both are extremely beneficial to our health, but walking is generally much easier on the body. Walking a mile and running a mile burn about the same total number of calories. All of the health benefits that I just mentioned are triggered by walking. So walking works as well as running, and walking does less incidental damage.

Walking tones muscles and makes them leaner and more efficient. Walking also can create feel-good chemicals -- endorphins -- in the brain.

Walking often creates a very nice set of experiences. We can walk in groups. Walking can be very social. We can walk to explore and we can walk to learn.

I love walking through neighborhoods and cities because I see the world around me much better and more completely than the world I see when I just drive by in my car.

Walking has given me the gift of my town.

Walking is a good thing.

A bit long winded but, you get the drift!

END walking piece by George.

Nice to see someone really get into their own world via feet and camera - and he's so right about the benefits of walking. I was wondering what kind of activities Fort Bragg, North Carolina was up which affect the US and the world - I didn't realize it was actually the name of a city too-- looks like this one is NOT in Fayetteville but rather in California. So this is what I found first which appealed to my desire for more items on the "Soul of us All" from a nice blogsite loaded with delightful photos and a pleasant folksy celebration of walking, bird couples, the open sky and people who live close by: "Walking Fort Brag" Friday, January 14, 2011


* Above photo from October 19 2010, the blogger of Walking Fort Bragg states" "Another heart shaped rock for Lolli! This one I couldn't carry!" Find this photo at the end of the page here

More about this blogsite & Fort Bragg, California USA: here and here

*** photo on top is from this one Fort Bragg, California attractions here

Hmm... I wonder what could happen for peace if people just started walking around Fayetteville, NC (or anywhere else in the world) - first for health, enjoyment and peace of Inner Self and perhaps eventually for conversations which may go somewhere for understanding and for actual change for the better?


The inspiring chef-writer who defined eating and lost his taste

Lara Kastner/Alinea
Alinea's version of pheasant, served with shallot, cider gel and burning oak leaves.
Photos found on Terry Gross archives

First see the beginning of the cancer story here

Rising starAchatz has garnered just about every accolade that matters to a chef, including the highly coveted three Michelin stars.But he’s pretty sure he won’t win any literary awards for his newest book (though his self-published Alinea cookbook did win a James Beard Award in 2009).

Grant Achatz: The Chef Who Lost His Sense Of Taste
March 3, 2011

Listen to this Chef's Story of Chasing Greatness, Facing Death, and Redefining the Way We Eat (Write/Live) - read the book and an excerpt below
By Grant Achatz, the book is Hardcover, 400 pages
Gotham for List price: $27.50

First of all, I'm rather put off by any person or restaurant which would pay/charge this kind of price given the number of folk who starve in this world...yet this Chef is young and his own scrape with youthful death and a kind of tragedy makes me SURE he will someday turn his talent toward the folk with barely a morsel, like the folk of the Catholic Worker Kitchen in a trailer at a park near Berkely where the homeless have menus, great healthy food and a nice table with a view.

Meantime, there's quite a bit to learn about this man's nightmare adventure, the health and perseverance lessons and great cooking (which you and I could do at home for much less. Smiles for such gifts!)


From Terry Gross' site:

A typical 23-course meal at Chicago's Alinea restaurant might include olive oil lollypops, sweet potatoes skewered by smoking cinnamon sticks, strips of bacon hanging from a stainless steel bow, and pheasant tempura-fried with apple cider, impaled on a flaming oak leaf.

Alinea, which opened in 2005, was named the best restaurant in America by Gourmet Magazine in 2006. The restaurant's co-founder and head chef, Grant Achatz, is one of the leading members of the molecular gastronomy movement, which uses unexpected flavor combinations and exotic laboratory tools to create foods based on the molecular compatibility of ingredients.

"What makes the food that we do at Alinea so interesting on the outside is that we really don't let ourselves say no to an idea," Achatz says. "When we start looking at things really critically or even very simply, we realize that there's more than one way to actually get the same results ... You're deconstructing the components of a course and putting them back together."

Playing with unexpected flavors and scents plays a big part in Achatz's kitchen. Some of Alinea's dishes are served alongside a pillow case with tiny holes in it, designed to release certain fragrances while diners eat.

"We've done firewood ashes, we've done leather, we've done grass," says Achatz. "There's a lot of smells that you can't necessarily consume. You're not going to go out and chew on a baseball glove. But, in a lot of ways, a lot of smells that aren't necessarily edible smell good, and they remind you of certain aspects of food. So making those associations with what smells good or smells a certain way and pairing that with actual edible ingredients is one avenue that we take creatively."

In 2007, Achatz lost his own ability to taste. He was diagnosed with stage 4 tongue cancer, which metastasized to both sides of his neck. His surgeons told him they were going to cut out his tongue and replace it with muscle from another part of his body. With the surgery, Achatz only had a 50 percent chance of surviving beyond two years. But, he says, he was even more afraid of losing his ability to taste and eat.

"I lived my whole life in the kitchen," he says. "Not only that, but it's the passion, it's the love for cooking and food. It's dictated my entire life — every aspect of it. So, in some ways, the thought of not being able to do that anymore radically affects your life."

Achatz found a clinical trial at the University of Chicago that agreed to treat him with radiation and chemotherapy. The radiation treatments burned his tongue, shed the lining of his esophagus — and completely destroyed his taste buds.

"It was very strange to not be able to discern any flavor at all," he says. "It's funny because, clearly, you know you have to eat to live. But even knowing that, for me, there was no reason to eat. I had no interest in eating whatsoever. I would put something in my mouth — say a vanilla milkshake — and it tasted like nothing."

Achatz's cancer is now in remission. After his treatment ended, his ability to taste came back — but slowly. His perception of different flavor combinations — sweet, salty, bitter — came back one flavor at a time.

"I started from zero, and the first thing back was sweet," he says. "So my palate developed just as a newborn — but I was 32 years old. So I could understand how flavors were coming back and how they synergized together. ... It was very educational for me. I don't recommend it, but I think it made me a better chef because now I really understand how flavor works."

Achatz was named Best Chef in America in 2008 by the James Beard Foundation. He is the author of two books, the memoir Life, on the Line and the coffee table-style cookbook Alinea. He plans to open a new restaurant in Chicago. Called Next, it will completely change its food and style every few months — allowing Achatz to experiment with different ethnic cuisines and periods in time.

Related NPR Stories

On Intimidating Dishes

"Some of the courses served at Alinea are meant to intimidate because, if you think about eating, we do it two, three, four times a day since we're born, basically. And the act of eating — the mechanics of eating — become very monotonous. So literally you're either picking up a fork, a spoon, and you're eating from a plate or bowl with the same motion every time. So if we can break that monotony, then we get you to take notice of the moment, and now you're thinking about the food. It's making you feel a certain way. Then we've won."

On slowing people down so they taste their food

"Alinea is not the type of restaurant where you go if you're in a hurry. Really, it's about enjoying that three-hour block of time and reflecting on the food, having great conversation with your dining companion. Nobody really needs to eat like that. You need to eat to live. But you certainly don't need to sit down and have a 200-hour, 23-course meal. It's entertainment. It's about having a great time, processing it, thinking about it. We like to think that the food is, in a lot of ways, an intellectual exercise. Sitting through a three-hour meal and having all these feelings — whether they be about the actual food or whatever the occasion is or who you're eating with — [it's] kind of checking yourself out of the pace of life for three hours and enjoying yourself."

On his "Frankenstein-like" anti-griddle

"It allows us to freeze things that normally don't freeze. For instance, if you take a cup full of olive oil and put it in your freezer at home overnight, you're going to wake up the next morning and it's still going to be liquid because the freezing point of olive oil is very, very low. You take a tablespoon of that olive oil and you put it on top of the anti-griddle, and it will instantly freeze. We've made olive oil lollipops, and it was savory and kind of floods the palate with this smoky paprika and roasted red pepper oil."

On playing with flavor

"If I present to you something that I call 'root beer float,' but it's not in a glass — it's on a plate — it's not liquid — it's solid — and it's not brown — it's completely clear — and I say 'root beer float,' and you look at it and you look at me and you think I'm crazy, I think that's a good thing, because now you're engaged. We're engaging you on so many different levels. And then the payoff is when you put that perfectly clear bite-size cube in your mouth, it tastes like a root beer float."

Excerpt from Grant's life-story (to date):

I entered the French Laundry kitchen and saw a tall lanky man sweeping the floor. His back was toward me and he didn't hear me enter, so he kept doing his job for a few seconds. I peered past him looking for chef Keller, waited a few seconds for the sweeper to notice me, and when he didn't, approached him. "I'm Grant Achatz, here for a tryout. Is chef Keller in?"

"Yeah. That's me," he said, letting out a laugh. "You're early, Grant."

He stuck out his hand and shook mine vigorously with an exaggerated up and down motion.

I thought to myself, "Holy s..t! He's the first one here, and he's sweeping the floor. What kind of restaurant is this?"

"I'm going to set you up with Kevin. He's in the back putting away produce, but he can show you around and get you started."

"Yes, Chef." My tryout had begun.

"We're going to cut some brunoise. You okay with a knife?"

Kevin demonstrated the tiny dice, pushed the pieces over to the far corner of my board and said, "Leave those there for a reference."

I began cutting the turnip, carrot, and green leek tops into the miniature cubes at a good clip. Another cook approached my cutting board, looked at my work, then back at me. He spoke very slowly, making sure the others around us heard him. "Hi. I'm Josh."

"Grant is from Trotter's," Kevin spoke up on my behalf.

Josh immediately looked down at my board, poked his finger into a pile of my carrot brunoise and pulled out a single piece from the hundred that was cut on a slight angle to form an inconsequentially uneven cube.

"Kevin, you had better watch this guy. His knife skills aren't so good." Josh looked me in the eye and said, "You might want to start over." He slowly walked away.

As we finished up the brunoise, Kevin headed over to chef Keller, who was busy cleaning foie gras for torchon, and inquired what he should have me do next. "Have him peel and slice tomatoes for Eric," he said.

Eric Ziebold was manning the garde manger station, working on the components for a sliced tomato salad. We exchanged introductions and he instructed me to blanch, peel, and slice the Early Girl tomatoes using a deli meat slicer.

I made quick work of peeling them and headed to the slicer.

With every stroke across the slicer the tomato juice would run down toward the bottom of the blade then violently spray at me. I sliced thirty tomatoes, seasoned each layer with minced shallots, olive oil, sel gris, and black pepper, then meticulously stacked them back together so that they would appear to be a whole tomato. In the process, I looked like an ax murderer, my chef coat covered with tomato-juice splatter.

Chef Keller walked by, looked me up and down, and deadpanned with a wry smile, "Hey. Next time why don't you try to get a little more tomato all over yourself?" He paused a few beats for effect and smiled again. "Go change your coat."

I couldn't help but smile, even though I was embarrassed.

This place felt different. It felt good.

Excerpted from Life, on the Line: A Chef's Story of Chasing Greatness, Facing Death, and Redefining the Way We Eat by Grant Achatz and Nick Kokonas. Copyright 2011 by Grant Achatz and Nick Kokonas. Published by Gotham. All rights reserved.