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Richard Mellor / Ireland: Dublin March and Rally for Health Care for All.
« Last post by Richard Mellor on October 09, 2018, 06:23:14 AM »
Ireland: Dublin March and Rally for Health Care for All.

Richard Mellor

During two days of discussions in Dublin some of us took our lunch break stopping by a small but noisy rally for healthcare that began in Parnell Square. Unfortunately I left the mike back at the hall but managed to get a few words from Joan Collins TD (member of the Irish Parliament) who was at our meeting before the speakers with amplification started up.

There Just a short clip to share with the readers of the blog and anyone else interested.  Dave Lordan, an Irish writer and poet reads one of his poems.
Source: Ireland: Dublin March and Rally for Health Care for All.
'The GOP Needs to Be Razed to the Ground': Conservative Commentator Urges Voters to Vote 'Straight-Ticket Democratic Party'

In 29 days, Americans will go to the polls to determine the fate of the House and Senate

Conservative commentator Max Boot called for the total destruction of the Republican Party to undo the damage by President Donald Trump.

The author and former Wall Street Journal editor appeared Monday on MSNBC's "Morning Joe" to promote his new book, "The Corrosion of Conservatism: Why I Left the Right."

"It's hugely harmful to the long-term future of the Republican Party as America becomes less white," Boot said. "The Republicans are being identified as the white nationalist party."

Boot warned that was disastrous in political terms and wrong in moral terms, and the Soviet émigré blamed Trump for making racial hatred an overtly celebrated value in the GOP.

"I came here at age 6, I learned to speak English -- I think I speak it reasonably well," Boot said. "I try to fit in, blend in -- I thought I achieved that. I thought of myself as an ordinary American, not as a hyphenated American. Donald Trump is making me to think in those terms, he's making me think there's something less American than me. I wasn't born here, I'm Jewish. I'm not the kind of American that Donald Trump celebrates. It's a tragedy for me and heartbreaking for me."

Boot said that trend would metastasize if the GOP achieved midterm election victories, and the former Republican called for voters to send a strong message opposing racial hatred.

"They will double down on white nationalism and racism, xenophobia, undermining the rule of law," Boot said. "They will be solidified as a core part of the Republican identity. That's why I think it is essential that Republicans pay a price at the ballot box for what they are doing, and that's why I'm urging, as somebody who is a lifelong Republican never voted for a Democrat before I voted for Hillary Clinton in 2016, having said all that I'm urging everybody to vote straight-ticket Democratic in November, because I think it's imperative to get some checks and balances."

He said GOP lawmakers were complicit in Trump's abuses, and he said they should be rebuked.

"The Republican Party has shown they will not stop Donald Trump's abuses of power, and that they will continue remolding themselves in Donald Trump's image unless they understand there's a price to be paid at the ballot box," Boot said. "I think, essentially, the Republican Party, as currently constituted, needs to be razed to the ground, it needs to be destroyed -- and maybe, maybe, maybe out of the ashes we can build up a more reasonable center-right party which is something this country needs."


Source: 'The GOP Needs to Be Razed to the Ground': Conservative Commentator Urges Voters to Vote 'Straight-Ticket Democratic Party'
Richard Mellor / In the US, the Mentally Ill Are Victims of Police Violence Too
« Last post by Richard Mellor on October 08, 2018, 06:07:42 PM »
In the US, the Mentally Ill Are Victims of Police Violence Too

It would be very easy to simply blame bad cops for this. But it is beyond bad cops, and it would be a mistake to frame it this way because it cannot lead us to the answer as to why it happens so frequently in the most advanced and wealthiest society on earth.  I can't imagine doing what these men did and would not be a cop. But we cannot change this situation by changing one cop for another or replacing an entire police force with another. That's why the death sentence has to be opposed as it accomplishes nothing and it is workers, the poor, racial minorities and in the US especially, the mentally ill, that are the victims of it. State security forces should not be doing this and are not equipped to in every way imaginable.

It is a tragic failure of a society that doesn't care about people, a system in which the accumulation of capital and profit for a small minority of people is the main aim of all economic activity. And this is what affects all other social activity, the maintenance of society and its inhabitants as well as the stewardship of the natural world.

The mentally ill are a burden, to care for them is "money out".  Ensuring their well being as best as possible is by no measure a potentially profit making venture. The very rich who have the misfortune to produce a child that suffers debilitating mental illness or physical disabilities that require acute 24 hour care have the ability to provide it as capitalism will provide it for a price. Without money and providing such care is expensive, people do the best they can with often catastrophic consequences.

What civilized society would not ensure that a person like this does not have the needs they require to live a decent life? We have the money. And imagine what this does to a family. Think of Jeff Bezos' $169 billion earned off the backs of Amazon workers when we are told we cannot provide for the mentally ill.

What civilized society allows a situation like this to exist at all?  We can argue that the cops seemed decent enough and they had to do what they did but they chose to be cops and they are to blame regardless. But it lets the system off the hook in a way. This happens all the time as the article accompanying the video explains. Why are cops dealing with this problem but more important why does the problem exist at all? These people are not qualified to deal with this situation, a situation that wouldn't arise in a civilized society. It's not only cops that aren't qualified to deal with this situation as frequently those that work in institutions supposedly set up to deal with the mentally ill are also not equipped and the institutions themselves are inadequate.

Like "correctional institutions" are not institutions aimed at correcting anything but simply the warehousing of human beings capitalist society has abandoned, so mental institutions (often prisons themselves) are there to warehouse the mentally ill. This does not mean that every person working in this field is a callous uncaring individual, but it is impossible to overcome an individual the failings of society as a whole.

Also, the depression and massive problem of mental illness in the US and other societies must surely be a product of an inhuman society much like the psychosis chickens and other animals have as a result of industrial farming.

 In short, capitalism is sick society. It is a society hostile to both humanity and the natural world of which we are a part.

Here is the BBC article that accompanied this video
Source: In the US, the Mentally Ill Are Victims of Police Violence Too
AlterNet / Democrats Didn't Do Enough to Stop Kavanaugh ? They Melted Before His White Rage
« Last post by AlterNet on October 08, 2018, 06:07:34 PM »
Democrats Didn't Do Enough to Stop Kavanaugh ? They Melted Before His White Rage

Yes, Democrats are preferable to this. But they?re still spineless.

Although I?ll vote for any Democrat in November to keep Donald Trump?s Republican vassals from finishing off the American republic at his bidding, what I saw in the performance of most Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee last week reminded me that any victory by that terminally pusillanimous, corrupt, suppurating party, which is only a zombie if not a corpse of our democratic hopes, isn?t likely to stop what?s coming at us any more than a speed bump will stop a tank.

Again, I?ll vote for any Democrat in November, just as I voted for Hillary Clinton in 2016 even after I?d said all this about Democrats right here at that time.

What?s different now is that the danger of Trumpism and the hollowness of Democrats have been more fully exposed. While we can hope that the latter will grow spines in some upcoming congressional outcomes, it?ll take a lot more to stop the creeping coup d?état against the republic by Trump and his backers than it would have taken in 2016.

Too many Democrats are already carriers and casualties of the coup from above. When Brett Kavanaugh interrupted Sen. Amy Klobuchar to ask if she drinks too much, why didn?t she find it in herself to say, ?Mr. Kavanaugh, would you please stop putting your verbal hand over my mouth while I?m asking you a question??

Why didn?t Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse look up from his scripted questions about a high school beach party and yearbook to ask Kavanaugh whether he truly thought that the committee?s inquiry was staged by the Clintons in revenge for Trump?s victory and, if so, would he mind telling the American people more about that conspiracy?

Why didn?t the ?ranking member? of the minority, Sen. Dianne Feinstein, observe that Kavanaugh?s tirade had given the committee and the American people ample evidence of his judicial temperament?

Instead, these and most other Democrats cowered before Kavanaugh?s rain-dancing. He said what he?d scripted himself to say the night before, but some of his anger and partisan hatred also came roaring out of his bowels in ways that should have roused tribunes of the people to commanding, eloquent, show-stopping pushbacks.

The truth is that they?d been hollowed out by their own compromises since at least the mid-1970s, when the follies of neoliberal ? yes, Clintonite ? Democrats did quite as much to widen the civic and political vacuum into which Trump has swept as did the follies of conservatives. It?s an argument I?ve been making since 2014, long before any of us thought that Trump would run for president, much less win.

It?s also certainly true that conservatives have dined out on liberals? mistakes for so long that they?ve forgotten how to cook for themselves and have abandoned their kitchen to Trump. But Chuck Schumer, the Democratic senator from Wall Street, and Barney Frank, the representative from Fanny Mae, and the ?welfare reform? president Bill Clinton, and Walmart board member Hillary Clinton, and even the civic magician named Barack Obama did far too much to seed the field from which Trump?s dispossessed, insulted, enraged mobs have sprouted.

The New Yorker?s Adam Gopnik denies views like mine, which he calls ?the orthodoxy of this moment that Trump is not the ?cause? of all his catastrophes.? Gopnik urges instead that only ?Trump is the cause of Trumpism. ? This is Trump, and Trump alone, degrading American politics, and we should not get lost in side debates and sideshows.? He likens Trump to a magician who keeps so many tricks going at once that he diverts us from noticing the big, dark, authoritarian, plutocratic advances behind the trickery.

Begging your pardon, Adam, and with all due respect for your marvelous writing: Your facility with metaphors may be tricking you and your readers. Blaming so much on Trump the magician reminds me sadly of the critic Robert Warshow?s observation in 1947 that "The New Yorker has always dealt with experience not by trying to understand it but by prescribing the attitude to be adopted toward it. This makes it possible to feel intelligent without thinking, and it is a way of making everything tolerable, for the assumption of a suitable attitude toward experience can give one the illusion of having dealt with it adequately. The gracelessness of capitalism becomes an entirely external phenomenon, a spectacle that one can observe without being touched -- above all, without feeling really threatened."

Trump is indeed an unprecedentedly dangerous president. But, as I argued in the Washington Monthlylast week, Democrats? obsession with youthful sexual assaults and bar fights, serious though they may have been in Kavanaugh?s case, is no more constructive than their obsession with breaking the glass ceilings of structures whose foundations and walls they fail to change. That leaves neoliberal Democrats with little to say against glass-ceiling breakers such as Carly Fiorina, Sheryl Sandberg or Margaret Thatcher.

Until and unless Democrats are forced by well organized movements to challenge the regime of casino-like financing, predatory lending and consumer-bamboozling that they?ve done so much to sustain under the falsely compensatory drapery of United Colors of Benetton ?diversity,? the true and urgent claims of #MeToo and Black Lives Matter will always lose to the belligerence of the Brett Kavanaughs and the bitter resentments of the less ?entitled? politically incorrect.


Source: Democrats Didn't Do Enough to Stop Kavanaugh ? They Melted Before His White Rage
Richard Mellor / The Modern Banking System: Regulation does not work
« Last post by Richard Mellor on October 08, 2018, 06:39:45 AM »
The Modern Banking System: Regulation does not work

by Michael Roberts

There is one big lesson from the Danske Bank money laundering scandal.   Regulating the modern banking system does not work.  Modern banks are  now primarily giant hedge fund managers speculating on financial assets  or they are conduits for tax avoidance havens for the top 1% and the  multi-nationals.

The Danske Bank scandal is the latest and largest example of these  modern banking activities.  Over $235bn in ?special transactions? flowed  through the bank?s tiny Estonian branch in just four years from 2012 ?  an amount that dwarfs the Baltic nation?s GDP.  And this was in the  period when international bank regulation had been tightened up,  according to the IMF and the Bank for International Settlements, after  the ?reckless? behaviour before the global financial crash.

Indeed, it was probably not just Danske Bank, but according to the  Estonian central bank, the supposed regulator, Estonian banks handled  about 900 billion euros, or $1.04 trillion in cross-border transactions  between 2008 and 2015. The notion that these foreign individuals and  investors would choose to run such a large sum of their money through  Estonia for explicitly legitimate purposes is difficult to swallow.   After all, this comes after the liquidation of ABLV, formerly the third largest bank in Latvia, after it was caught laundering money for North Korea.

John Horan, senior associate at Maze Investigation, Compliance and  Training Ltd. in Belfast, says money laundering is a Europe-wide  problem. ?dark money will almost certainly continue to flow through the European banking system like sand through a sieve.?  It?s a never-ending story.

Indeed, that?s not all.  The  very latest scandal concerns the siphoning of over $2bn of Danish tax  revenues through a scam involving claiming back tax paid by foreigners  on Danish shares.  It appears that these foreigners never owned any  shares or paid tax on them and yet they were able to get ?refunds?  through the connivance or negligence of Danish government employees and  small European banks shifted the money ? and nobody has been charged or  resigned over this massive loss of taxpayer money ? equivalent to $110bn  in US tax revenues.

The regulators have been useless in stopping these criminal tax  avoidance schemes by the banks.  For example, Carol Sergeant was a  regulator at the UK Financial Supervisory Authority and headed up  supervision of the banks at the Bank of England.  She got an honour from  the Queen for ?services to financial regulation?.  She joined  Lloyds Bank in 2010 and received bonuses which Lloyds are now asking  back as she (among others) presided over the payment protection  insurance (PPI) scandal for which Lloyds must pay now £18bn in  compensation.  But guess where she works now?  Yes, it?s as  non-executive director of Danske Bank, where her responsibilities  include making sure that the bank operated under regulations!

Nevertheless, in its latest Global Financial Stability report, the IMF claims that ?a  decade after the global financial crisis, much progress has been made  in reforming the global financial rulebook. The broad agenda set by the  international community has given rise to new standards that have  contributed to a more resilient financial system?one that is less  leveraged, more liquid, and better supervised.?

Well, it may be true that international banks are better capitalised  and less leveraged with bad debts after the gradual implementation of  the Basel III capital and liquidity accords and the widespread adoption  of ?stress testing?, but even that can be disputed.  In 85% of those 24  countries that experienced the banking crisis in 2007-8, national output  growth today remains below its pre-crisis trend.  And the IMF admits  that ?in many countries, systemic risks associated with new forms of  shadow banking and market-based finance outside the prudential  regulatory perimeter, such as asset managers, may be accumulating and  could lead to renewed spillover effects on banks?.

The ?official? view that regulation is the only way to control the  banks is accepted by most Keynesians or those who see the financial  sector as the only enemy of labour.  Take Nick Shaxson.  Shaxson wrote a  compelling book Treasure Islands, tax havens and the men who stole the world, that exposed the workings of all the global tax avoidance schemes and how banks promoted tax havens and tax avoidance for their rich clients.

And more recently, he has done a new piece of research that argues that not only does the City of London and the UK financial  sector operate to help tax avoidance and money laundering, it does not  provide credit for productive investment. Indeed, ?research  increasingly shows that all the money swirling around our oversized  financial sector may actually be making us collectively poorer. As  Britain?s economy has steadily become re-engineered towards serving  finance, other parts of the economy have struggled to survive in its  shadow.?

Shaxson goes on: ?Long ago, our oversized financial sector began  turning away from supporting the creation of wealth, and towards  extracting it from other parts of the economy. To achieve this, it  shapes laws, rules, thinktanks and even our culture so that they support  it. The outcomes include lower economic growth, steeper inequality,  distorted markets, spreading crime, deeper corruption, the hollowing-out  of alternative economic sectors and more.? So what are we to about these criminals at the centre of our economies, according to Shaxson? ?We can tax, regulate and police our financial sector as we ought to.? So it?s regulation again ? a policy that Danske and other scandals have proven not to work.

Then take Joseph Stiglitz, Nobel prize winner in economics, tireless  campaigner against the finance sector and its iniquitous role, and (once  again) adviser to the British Labour Party.  Just after the global  financial crash, Stiglitz wrote a book, Freefall, about the  bursting of the housing bubble and the ensuing massive defaults on  mortgages that triggered the financial meltdown of 2008?09.  It was  based on his study he had done for the UN, published as The Stiglitz Report, on the financial crisis, which declared: ?Governments,  deluded by market fundamentalism, forgot the lessons of both economic  theory and historical experience which note that if the financial sector  is to perform its critical role, there must be adequate regulation.?  

Stiglitz proposed that future meltdowns could be prevented by empowering incorruptible regulators, who are smart enough to do the right thing. ?[E]ffective regulation requires regulators who believe in it,? he wrote. ?They should be chosen from among those who might be hurt by a failure of regulation, not from those who benefit from it.? Where can these impartial advisors be found? His answer: ?Unions, nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), and universities.? But  all the regulatory agencies that failed in 2008 and are failing now are  already well staffed with economists boasting credentials of just this  sort, yet they still managed to get things wrong.

In a 2011 book, Engineering the Financial Crisis: Systemic Risk and the Failure of Regulation,  Jeffrey Friedman and Wladimir Kraus contested Stiglitz?s claim that  regulations could have prevented the disaster, if implemented by the  right people. Friedman and Kraus observe: ?Virtually all decision-making personnel at the Federal Reserve, the FDIC, and so on, are . . . university-trained economists.? The authors argue that Stiglitz?s mistake is ?consistently  to downplay the possibility of human error?that is, to deny that human  beings (or at least uncorrupt human beings such as himself) are  fallible.?  But note that Friedman and Kraus were no better in  coming up with a solution.  They argued for less regulation ? free  market style!

More recently, David Kane at the New Institute for Economic Thinking has shown that banks have managed to avoid most attempts to regulate them since the global crash as ?the  instruments assigned to this task are too weak to work for long. With  the connivance of regulators, US megabanks are already re-establishing  their ability to use dividends and stock buybacks to rebuild their  leverage back to dangerous levels.?

Kane notes that ?top regulators seem to believe that an important  part of their job is to convince taxpayers that the next crash can be  contained within the financial sector and won?t be allowed to hurt  ordinary citizens in the ways that previous crises have.?  But ?these rosy claims are bullsh*t.?  Kane wants criminal bankers locked up, not the banks just fined.

Regulatory reform since the global financial meltdown has not brought  under control the criminal and reckless unproductive activities of  modern banking.  Even the IMF quietly admits this in its latest GFS  report: ?As the financial system continues to evolve and new threats  to financial stability emerge, regulators and supervisors should remain  attentive to risks? no regulatory framework can reduce the probability  of a crisis to zero, so regulators need to remain humble. Recent  developments documented in the chapter show that risks can migrate to  new areas, and regulators and supervisors must remain vigilant to this  evolution.?

Indeed!  As Gabriel Zucman  and Thomas Wright have shown in a meticulous and in-depth analysis of  the size and extent of tax havens and tax avoidance, far from them  being reduced or controlled, on the contrary, such schemes are an  increasing part of US corporate profits, organised and transacted by the  banks.

About half of all the foreign profits of US multinationals are booked  in tax havens with Ireland topping the charts as the favourite (Irish  tax rate just 5.7%). And the benefits for the increase in profits have  gone to shareholders, the Zucman and Wright showed. ?Ireland solidifies its position as the #1 tax haven,? Zucman said on Twitter. ?US firms book more profits in Ireland than in China, Japan, Germany, France & Mexico combined.? 

Zucman and Wright also show that the rate of return (or profit) on US multi-national investments  abroad has not risen, indeed the rate has slipped.  But thanks to  favourable tax regimes (including the latest Trump measures) and the  availability of tax havens like Ireland, after-tax profitability has  jumped.

So those who think that ?regulating? the banks and tax evasion using  ?regulators? will work are expecting pigs to rev up their jet engines  for flight.

I have posted before
on Stiglitz?s views as expressed in his book, can?t leave to market forces to solve the problems by themselves?, concluded Stiglitz, so we must rewrite the rules of the game.  But he  admitted that his rule changes were unlikely to see the light of  day. Changing the rules or regulation of the banks won?t work; we need ownership and control.
Source: The Modern Banking System: Regulation does not work
AlterNet / Science Says Happiness Can Change Your Brain
« Last post by AlterNet on October 08, 2018, 06:39:37 AM »
Science Says Happiness Can Change Your Brain

After 2,000 years of practice, Buddhist monks know that one secret to bliss is to put your mind to it.

After 2,000 years of practice, Buddhist monks know that one secret to happiness is to put your mind to it.

What is happiness, and how can we achieve it?

Happiness can?t be reduced to a few agreeable sensations. Rather, it is a way of being and of experiencing the world?a profound fulfillment that suffuses every moment and endures despite inevitable setbacks.

The paths we take in search of happiness often lead us to frustration and suffering instead. We try to create outer conditions that we believe will make us happy. But it is the mind itself that translates outer conditions into happiness or suffering. This is why we can be deeply unhappy even though we ?have it all??wealth, power, health, a good family, etc.?and, conversely, we can remain strong and serene in the face of hardship.

Anyone who takes the trouble to stabilize and clarify his or her mind will be able to experience pure consciousness.

Authentic happiness is a way of being and a skill to be cultivated. When we first begin, the mind is vulnerable and untamed, like that of a monkey or a restless child. You need practice to gain inner peace, inner strength, altruistic love, forbearance, and other qualities that lead to authentic happiness.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama often teaches that, although there are limits to how much information one can learn and to our physical performance, compassion can be developed boundlessly.

Practicing Happiness

Beginning is not difficult. You just have to sit from time to time, turn your mind within, and let your thoughts calm down. Focus your attention on a chosen object. It can be an object in your room, your breath, or your  mind. Inevitably, your mind will wander as you do this. Each time it does, gently bring it back to the object of concentration, like a butterfly that returns again and again to a flower.

In the freshness of the present moment, past is gone, future is not yet born, and?if one remains in pure mindfulness and freedom?disturbing thoughts arise and go without leaving a trace. That is basic meditation.

Pure consciousness without content is something all those who meditate regularly and seriously have experienced. It is not just some sort of Buddhist theory. And anyone who takes the time to stabilize and clarify his or her mind will be able to experience it, too. Through this unconditioned aspect of consciousness, we can transform content of the mind with training.

But meditation also means to cultivate basic human qualities, such as attention and compassion, and new ways of experiencing the world. What really matters is that a person gradually changes. Over months and years, we become less impatient, less prone to anger, less torn between hopes and fears. Willingly harming another person becomes inconceivable. We develop a propensity toward altruistic behavior and a cluster of qualities that help us deal with the ups and downs of life.

Dr. Richard Davidson of the University of Wisconsin used magnetic resonance imaging to look at Matthieu Ricard?s brain. He saw a prefrontal cortex?the part of the brain associated with happiness and other positive emotions?lit up in a way researchers had never before. Photo from Waisman Brain Imaging Lab, University of Wisconsin.

The point here is that you can look at your thoughts, including strong emotions, with a pure mindfulness that is not associated with the contents of the thoughts.

Take the example of malevolent anger. We usually identify with anger. Anger can fill our mental landscape and project its distorted reality on people and events. When we are overwhelmed by anger, we cannot dissociate from it. We perpetuate a vicious circle of affliction by rekindling anger each time we see or remember the person who makes us angry. We become addicted to the cause of suffering.

But if we dissociate from anger and look at it with mindfulness, that which is aware of anger is not angry, and we can see that anger is just a bunch of thoughts. Anger doesn?t cut like a knife, burn like a fire, or crush like a rock; it is nothing more than a product of our mind. Instead of ?being? the anger, we understand that we are not the anger, in the same way that clouds are not the sky.

So, to deal with anger, we avoid letting our mind jump again and again to the trigger for our anger. Then we look at anger itself and keep our attention upon it. If we stop adding wood to a fire and just watch, the fire will die out. Likewise, anger will vanish, without being forcibly repressed or allowed to explode.

This is not a question of not experiencing emotions; it?s a question of not being enslaved by them. Let emotions arise, but let them be freed from their afflictive components: distortion of reality, mental confusion, clinging, and suffering for oneself and others.

Great virtue comes from resting from time to time in pure awareness of the present moment, and being able to refer to this state when afflictive emotions arise so that we do not identify with them and are not swayed by them.

The beginning is difficult, but it becomes quite natural as you become increasingly familiar with such an approach. Whenever anger arises, you learn to recognize it right away. If you know someone to be a pickpocket, even if he mingles in a crowd, you will spot him right away and keep a careful eye on him.


Just as you can learn to deal with afflictive thoughts, you can learn to cultivate and enhance wholesome ones. To be filled with love and kindness brings about an optimal way of being. It is a winning situation: You will enjoy lasting well-being for yourself, you?ll act in altruistic ways towards others, and you?ll be perceived as a good human being.

If altruistic love is based on an understanding of the interdependence of all beings and of their natural aspiration to happiness, and if this love extends impartially to all beings, then it is a source of genuine happiness. Acts of overflowing love, of pure, disinterested generosity?as when you make a child happy or help someone in need, even if nobody knows what you have done?generate a deep and heartwarming fulfillment.

Inner conflicts are often linked with excessive rumination on the past and anticipation of the future.

Human qualities often come in clusters. Altruism, inner peace, strength, freedom, and genuine happiness thrive together like the parts of a nourishing fruit. Likewise, selfishness, animosity, and fear grow together. So, while helping others may not always be ?pleasant,? it leads the mind to a sense of inner peace, courage, and harmony with the interdependence of all things and beings.

Afflictive mental states, on the other hand, begin with self-centeredness, with an increased gap between self and others. These states are related to excessive self-importance and self-cherishing associated with fear or resentment towards others, and grasping for outer things as part of a hopeless pursuit of selfish happiness. A selfish pursuit of happiness is a losing situation: You make yourself miserable and make others miserable as well.

Inner conflicts are often linked with excessive rumination on the past and anticipation of the future. You are not truly paying attention to the present moment but are engrossed in your thoughts, going on and on in a vicious circle, feeding your ego and self-centeredness.

This is the opposite of bare attention. To turn your attention inside means to look at pure awareness itself and dwell without distraction, yet effortlessly, in the present moment.

If you cultivate these mental skills, after a while you won?t need to apply contrived efforts anymore. You can deal with mental perturbations as the eagles I see from the window of my hermitage in the Himalayas deal with crows. The crows often attack them, diving at the eagles from above. But, instead of doing all kinds of acrobatics, the eagle simply retracts one wing at the last moment, lets the diving crow pass, and then extends its wing again. The whole thing requires minimal effort and causes little disturbance.

Being experienced in dealing with the sudden arising of emotions in the mind works in a similar way.

I have been exposed to the world of humanitarian activities for years, since I decided to dedicate the entire royalties of my books to 30 projects on education and health in Tibet, Nepal, and India, with a group of dedicated volunteers and generous philanthropists. It is easy to see how corruption, clashes of ego, weak empathy, and discouragement can plague the humanitarian world. All this stems from a lack of maturity. So the advantages of spending time to develop human altruism and compassionate courage are obvious.

The Fragrance of Peace

The most important time to meditate or do other types of spiritual practices is early morning. You set the tone for the day and the ?fragrance? of the meditation will remain and give a particular perfume to the whole day. Another important time is before falling asleep. If you clearly generate a positive state of mind, filled with compassion or altruism, this will give a different quality to the whole night.

To turn your attention inside means to look at pure awareness itself.

When people experience ? moments of grace,? or ?magical moments? in daily life, while walking in the snow under the stars or spending a beautiful moment with dear friends by the seaside, what is really happening? All of a sudden, they have left their burden of inner conflicts behind. They feel in harmony with others, with themselves, with the world. It is wonderful to fully enjoy such magical moments, but it is also revealing to understand why they feel so good: pacification of inner conflicts; a better sense of interdependence with everything rather than fragmenting reality; and a respite from the mental toxins of aggression and obsession. All these qualities can be cultivated through developing wisdom and inner freedom. This will lead not just to a few moments of grace but to a lasting state of well-being that we may call genuine happiness.

In this state, feelings of insecurity gradually give way to a deep confidence that you can deal with life?s ups and downs. Your equanimity will spare you from being swayed like mountain grass in the wind by every possible praise and blame, gain and loss, comfort and discomfort. You can always draw on deep inner peace, and the waves at the surface will not seem threatening.

Source: Science Says Happiness Can Change Your Brain
Chuck Grassley: We Haven't Put Any Women on the Senate Judiciary Committee Because It's Too Much Work for Them


The Senate Judiciary chairman somehow found yet another way to stomp on women.

On Friday, Senate Republicans finally whipped the votes they need to confirm Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, who is facing an imminent vote on Saturday amid a cloud of sexual assault allegations, partisanship, and national outrage.

It was a dark day for women. But somehow, Senate Judiciary Committee chairman Chuck Grassley (R-IA) ? who has been instrumental in ramming through Kavanaugh's nomination ? found a way to make things even worse.

As reported by the Wall Street Journal, in conversation with reporters, Grassley was discussing the fact that the Republican Party has never put a single woman on the committee. The explanation, according to him: women don't want to have to do that much work.

"It's a lot of work ? maybe they don?t want to do it,? said Grassley. "My chief of staff of 33 years tells me we've tried to recruit women and we couldn't get the job done."

Later, apparently realizing his misogyny could spark outcry, Grassley tried to claim he didn't mean women per se were more work averse than men ? just that it was hard to get anyone period to come and work on the Judiciary Committee. "We have a hard time getting men on the committee. It's just a lot of work whether you're a man or a woman, it doesn't matter."

Even if Republicans were so inclined, it might indeed be difficult for them to put women on the Judiciary Committee ? not because women are lazy or incapable, but because Republican voters elect so few of them. There are only six Republican women in the Senate. Of those six, only one of them, Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, is a lawyer.

The fact that Kavanaugh's first sexual assault accuser, Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, would be interrogated in her Senate testimony only by men on the Republican side was not lost on the GOP, who feared the optics of the situation. For that reason, they hired Rachel Mitchell, a sex-crimes prosecutor from Arizona, to lead the questioning during their turns, which Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) all but telegraphed the point of when he referred to her as their "female assistant."


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Source: Chuck Grassley: We Haven't Put Any Women on the Senate Judiciary Committee Because It's Too Much Work for Them
Infoshop News / Decolonizing society: the legacy of 1968
« Last post by Alternative Media Project on October 07, 2018, 06:05:13 AM »
Decolonizing society: the legacy of 1968

Fifty years on, we need a return to the anti-imperialist ethos that enabled the activists of ?68 to engage in a shared struggle against a common enemy.

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Source: Decolonizing society: the legacy of 1968
Infoshop News / Howard Zinn: Don?t Despair about the Supreme Court
« Last post by Alternative Media Project on October 07, 2018, 06:05:12 AM »
Howard Zinn: Don?t Despair about the Supreme Court

It would be naive to depend on the Supreme Court to defend the rights of poor people, women, people of color, dissenters of all kinds.

The post Howard Zinn: Don?t Despair about the Supreme Court appeared first on Infoshop News.

Source: Howard Zinn: Don?t Despair about the Supreme Court
Kavanaugh's Yale Classmate Says 'Truly Important' Information Never Got to the FBI: 'It's a Con Job'


William Scheuerman tried to give the FBI information on Kavanaugh. And he considers the whole process a farce.


The reopened FBI background investigation into Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, prompted by allegations of sexual assault, has concluded.

But while Republicans claim the finished report ? which consists of a single copy in a sensitive, compartmented information facility that senators have limited time to look over ? is exonerating, there is a broad outcry from dozens of witnesses who claim they contacted the FBI with information relevant to the investigation, and were ignored.

One such person is William Scheuerman, a former classmate of Kavanaugh's at Yale, who told MSNBC's Ari Melber that he had completely lost faith in the legitimacy of the investigation.

"The FBI didn't get back to me," he said. "At first, I thought nothing of it, I thought they were on top of their game. And then I started getting emails from classmates, other residents of Lawrence Hall, and it turned out a lot of people, including people who had some truly important information, were not being contacted by the FBI, and of course, this is extremely unsettling."

"Is your view that you, and/or your classmates, have reason to think that [Kavanaugh's second accuser] Ms. Ramirez was credible?" asked Melber.

"I think it's credible. I do think we need an investigation, and I think what's being called an investigation is not," said Scheuerman. "It's a con job."

Watch below:

The FBI investigation was so incomplete, in fact, that even first accuser Dr. Christine Blasey Ford and Kavanaugh themselves were not interviewed.

In addition to the lack of follow-up on tips, the FBI was reportedly limited in subject matter, with the White House not allowing agents to investigate whether Kavanaugh lied in his sworn testimony to the Senate.

Cloture on Kavanaugh's nomination was filed this week, with the final vote planned to take place over Friday and Saturday.


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Source: Kavanaugh's Yale Classmate Says 'Truly Important' Information Never Got to the FBI: 'It's a Con Job'
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