Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Wikileaks and Assange endanger lives of those opposing violent tyrannies

What is the right way to think about Wikileaks. It does expose evil at powerful levels, but also exposes heroes of the resistance, leaving them open to violence and death.

Amplify’d from www.nytimes.com
the antisecrecy organization WikiLeaks has published on the Web nearly 134,000 leaked diplomatic cables in recent days, more than six times the total disclosed publicly since the posting of the leaked State Department documents began last November.
the newly published cables included the names of some people who had spoken confidentially to American diplomats and whose identities were marked in the cables with the warning “strictly protect.”

Among those named, despite diplomats’ warnings, were a United Nations official in West Africa and a foreign human rights activist working in Cambodia. They had spoken candidly to American Embassy officials on the understanding that they would not be publicly identified.

Last year, WikiLeaks was sharply criticized by human rights activists for disclosing the names of Afghan citizens who had provided information on the Taliban to the American military.
Read more at www.nytimes.com

Friday, August 26, 2011

NATO nations set to reap spoils of Libya war

As rebels take Tripoli, foreign powers are eyeing the prize of Libya's high quality crude oil.

Amplify’d from english.aljazeera.net

Before Tripoli has completely fallen, before Gaddafi and his supporters have stepped down and before the blood dries on the bodies that have yet to be counted, Western powers are already eyeing up what they view us just rewards for the intervention.

And there's a reason for this sudden rush of honesty over its involvement. As alluded to by the Economist, each country's contribution to the NATO effort in Libya is expected to have some impact on how much of the spoils it gets in the looming post-war period.  

Read more at english.aljazeera.net

NATO nations set to reap spoils of Libya war

As rebels take Tripoli, foreign powers are eyeing the prize of Libya's high quality crude oil.

Amplify’d from english.aljazeera.net

Before Tripoli has completely fallen, before Gaddafi and his supporters have stepped down and before the blood dries on the bodies that have yet to be counted, Western powers are already eyeing up what they view us just rewards for the intervention.

And there's a reason for this sudden rush of honesty over its involvement. As alluded to by the Economist, each country's contribution to the NATO effort in Libya is expected to have some impact on how much of the spoils it gets in the looming post-war period.  

Read more at english.aljazeera.net

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Wisdom Thinkers reflect on 9/11: Ten years after

is an international network of peace seekers, many at the top of their fields, committed to world change arising from the common ground of perennial wisdom found in the stories of sacred and secular tradition.

In recent years, good efforts have been made to advance the cause of peace through dialogue, but as time passes, the concept of bound communities talking across lines of separation is an insufficient starting point toward the outcome of a peaceful world. Wisdom in stories has proven to be the way to break the deadlock binding dialogue based peace efforts.

On Thursday, September 8, 2011, Wisdom Thinkers Network will sponsor an important conversation in New York, as part of the 92nd Street Y's decennial commemoration of 9/11, a series entitled: Searching For Answers In A Post-9/11 World.

Here is the program for this upcoming event. Please go to the site and register to attend.

Wisdom Thinkers Roundtable

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

My own personal after shock

Cracks in Washington Monument, and the National Cathedral?

Now the only way to avoid this shipwreck, and to provide for our posterity, is to follow the counsel of Micah, to do justly, to love mercy, to walk humbly with our God. For this end, we must be knit together, in this work, as one man. We must entertain each other in brotherly affection. We must be willing to abridge ourselves of our superfluities, for the supply of others’ necessities. We must uphold a familiar commerce together in all meekness, gentleness, patience and liberality. We must delight in each other; make others’ conditions our own; rejoice together, mourn together, labor and suffer together, always having before our eyes our commission and community in the work, as members of the same body. So shall we keep the unity of the spirit in the bond of peace. The Lord will be our God, and delight to dwell among us.

John Winthrop,

1630 on board the Arbella

Amplify’d from www.cbsnews.com

Earthquake damages Washington monument

The National Cathedral was also damaged during Tuesday's quake. Three of the cathedral's four corner spires on the central tower cracked and fell on the roof.

"Since 1912, the Cathedral has been a national place of worship as well as host to state funerals, presidential memorial services, and served as a spiritual home for our country in times of crisis," the cathedral said in a statement.

Read more at www.cbsnews.com

What creates genius?

Amplify’d from vikf.net
What makes a champion?
What is it that some have and the rest of us don’t,  whether in sport,  literature,  music or science?
genius can’t all be in the genes.
what champions do.  They simply put in more hours than anyone else.  The magic number is 10,000 hours.  That — roughly ten years of “deep practice” — is what it takes to reach the top in almost every field.
Even Mozart,  the classic example of a child prodigy,  turns out to confirm the rule.
Read more at vikf.net

Monday, August 22, 2011

Public faith in religious leaders spiraling

Raw greed and flight from ethics in virtually all sectors of society have brought our nation and the world to the precipice of collapse. Yet even rapacious and irresponsible secular figures enjoy more trust in society than religious figures!

This is something very serious to reflect upon when trying to imagine from what wellspring America and the world can "get back on track," and turn current crises around.

Amplify’d from www.denverpost.com

And faith leaders' stumble from grace has been faster and steeper than that of leaders in government, education, banking and other walks of life, according to Duke University religion and sociology Prof. Mark Chaves.

"The American public has lost confidence in leaders of all sorts, but the loss of confidence in religious leaders has been more precipitous," Chaves said.

His research, detailed in "American Religion: Contemporary Trends," indicates that the number of people with great confidence in religious leaders declined to less than 25 percent in 2008 from 35 percent in 1973.

"You see this steady decline in the 1970s and then a big drop down in the 2000s," Chaves told the Pos

Among people who still regularly attend church there is still high regard for their leaders.

Read more at www.denverpost.com

The decline of religion in America

This would help explain the recent deterioration of so many secular institutions through unethical excess

Amplify’d from www.cbn.com

Duke University professor Mark Chaves says his research proves that America's religious beliefs are weakening as a whole..

In his book Congregations in America, Chaves says his extensive study reveals a decline in religious practices and church attendance.

One report shows the number of people answering "none" for their religious preference has risen from 3 percent in 1957 to 14 percent in 2000.

Read more at www.cbn.com

The Scramble for Access to Libya’s Oil Wealth Begins

A vile fact

Amplify’d from www.nytimes.com

Before the rebellion broke out in February, Libya exported 1.3 million barrels of oil a day. While that is less than 2 percent of world supplies, only a few other countries can supply equivalent grades of the sweet crude oil that many refineries around the world depend on. The resumption of Libyan production would help drive down oil prices in Europe, and indirectly, gasoline prices on the East Coast of the United States.

Western nations — especially the NATO countries that provided crucial air support to the rebels — want to make sure their companies are in prime position to pump the Libyan crude.

Read more at www.nytimes.com

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Taking every last penny from the rich

Big implications for political ideology from this simple observation

Amplify’d from www.cnsnews.com
Taxing millionaires and billionaires more – a position advocated by billionaire Warren Buffett and President Barack Obama – won’t make much of a dent in the national debt or the record federal budget deficits, a new study finds.

“Even taking every last penny from every individual making more than $10 million per year would only reduce the nation's deficit by 12 percent and the debt by 2 percent,” the non-partisan Tax Foundation’s David Logan writes

“There's simply not enough wealth in the community of the rich to erase this country's problems by waving some magic tax wand,” said Logan.

U.S. currency

However, according to the Tax Foundation study written by Logan, even taxing the nation’s millionaires at 50 percent – even eliminating loopholes and deductions – would only reduce the deficit by 8 percent and the national debt by 1 percent.

Read more at www.cnsnews.com

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Protests throughout Israel continue

The issue seems to be affordable housing

Amplify’d from www.jpost.com
An estimated 50,000 to 70,000 Israelis took part in a series of demonstrations
held across the country on Saturday night, as part of the social issues movement
that has gripped the nation over the past month.
Protesters at social justice rally in Beersheba
Unlike the previous
three weeks, protest leaders decided not to hold a mass protest in Tel Aviv or
Jerusalem, and to instead hold demonstrations in 18 other cities.
A week ago, more than 300,000 people took to the streets
across the country, including an estimated 250,000 plus in Tel
"People see their grown children cannot afford an apartment for themselves even though they earn a good salary," Odonsky said. "We want the young people of Ramat Hasharon to be able to afford an apartment in town."
"I think this demonstration is very important. There's a horrendous gap between rich and poor in Israel," said Guth. "The cake needs to be distributed more equally."
See more at www.jpost.com

Syria’s Failed Ramadan Crackdown

The persistence of protests in Syria calls for greater attention from media and world leadership.

Facile analyses whither in the face of the unyielding constancy, perseverance, and geographical range of citizens in the face of full military aparatus.

Amplify’d from www.thedailybeast.com
Despite—or because of—a Ramadan military crackdown by Bashar al-Assad’s regime, thousands of protesters took to the streets in Syrian cities.

It’s hard to imagine a more cynical ploy. As millions of Muslims prepared for Ramadan in Syria last week, the regime was planning for something else entirely: a military assault. Hundreds of troops and tanks laid siege to Hama, Homs, and a handful of smaller cities in an all-out effort to squash the five-month old uprising that has nearly paralyzed the country. On Thursday, the regime felt confident enough they had crushed the protests that they took a handful of Turkish journalists for a look at Hama, one of the centers of the uprising. The journalists reported seeing heavily damaged buildings and deserted streets. It wasn't George W. Bush on an aircraft carrier with a “Mission Accomplished” banner, but the regime seemed to be gloating all the same.

Mideast Lebanon Syria

The regime just got a reality check. Protests sprang up in more than half a dozen cities on Friday, including Hama, according to Syrian human-rights activists. And, tellingly, thousands of demonstrators also came out in Damascus and Aleppo, the two biggest cities in the country that have been largely quiet. The Ramadan crackdown completely backfired. “The violence has only increased the anger toward the regime,” says Rami Nakhle, a prominent Syrian activist who now lives in Lebanon. “And it's made the people want to break the chains of oppression.”

Read more at www.thedailybeast.com

School aims to take business back to basic biblical principles

We presently suffer from recent decades of business taught in a vacuum sans spiritual principles. Other religions should likewise follow the example of this Christian visionaries. After this, heads of such institutions should dialogue regularly with each other regularly with a goal to forge universal principles applicable for entrepreneurs in all cultures.

Amplify’d from www.buffalonews.com
A church's calling goes beyond Sunday morning, and its instruction shouldn't be limited to spiritual matters, according Stephen Andzel,
Churches, he says, are called to teach everything, from science to literature.

And even business.

The Joseph Business School franchise has a modest goal -- to educate Christians to be successful entrepreneurs and business leaders through biblical principles.

But Andzel says he hopes it will have a much larger impact than that. Business owners, he says, should be "taking their success and reinvesting it back in the community and turn it back into the thriving community we think it could be."

By learning business principles in a biblical manner, Brown said he will be able to have more integrity in his business and help others become entrepreneurs as well.

Read more at www.buffalonews.com

Friday, August 12, 2011

Next Frontier for Restless Americans?

Amplify’d from www.nytimes.com
The American jobs that vanished don’t appear to be returning. The stock market is plunging. Seemingly everyone, from the guy at the corner bar to the U.S. Treasury Department, is in debt. The country’s credit rating just got knocked. Smart people on television are speaking of a looming “lost decade.”

Throughout history, for millions of people in less prosperous societies, the solution to such circumstances has been obvious: You sail away.

So could America, that great nation of immigrants, become in harder times a nation of emigrants? Could the metropolises of China one day have Americatowns?

Imagine a bustling one in the heart of Beijing. Local Chinese stream past, scratching their heads at those Americans who come just for money, never learning China’s language or customs, living in their own little world. The signs are all spelled out in Roman letters
These American immigrants have strange manners, as the Chinese see it. They never share food, and they finish everything on their plates

But they thrive. They put their energy, skills and family networks to work; they reap great success. They run burgers-and-fries joints, English-language academies, fitness centers and even an intercity transport service known as the Americatown bus.

Read more at www.nytimes.com

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

When ratings agencies judge the world

I do not favor the US government wastefulness and its addiction to gluttonous debt. Nevertheless there can be no excuse for the perfectly irresponsible decision by Standard & Poor to go ahead with its press release when a two trillion dollar error was pointed out in its calculations:

"Standard & Poor’s credit agency downgraded the U.S. credit rating using an incorrect budget baseline and now analysts are questioning why they, the government or the American people should listen to an agency that is apparently incompetent." The Economist

"The point here is not so much the $2 trillion, which makes very little difference to real US fiscal prospects; it’s the fact that S&P stands revealed as not understanding basic analysis of budget estimates." Paul Krugman

It is S&P that gave out top ratings to ultimately worthless structured mortgage products that caused the crash of 2008!

Amplify’d from www.reuters.com

You may have never heard of David Beers but every finance minister in the world knows of him. A Wall Street veteran, a graduate of London School of Economics where he has endowed a scholarship in his name, he is the global head of sovereign credit ratings for Standard & Poor's.

It is on his say-so and the committee he oversees that financial markets have been rocked over the last 18 months
David Beers, Managing Director of Standard & Poor's sovereign and international public finance ratings group listens to reporters during a Reuters Investment Outlook Summit in London, June 9, 2010. REUTERS/Benjamin Beavan

Yet there is an overwhelming irony in their new-found prominence. These are the same firms that many blame as prime instigators of the 2007-2008 credit crisis for freely giving out top ratings to ultimately worthless structured mortgage products, allowing the credit bubble to form. Now they sit in judgment of the countries that had to ruin their public balance sheets to prevent financial collapse by saving the banks shattered by those bad instruments once blessed by the agencies.

Read more at www.reuters.com

Why Markets Are Melting

Zachary Karabell explains (again) that investment machinery often creates market activity unrelated to the strengths or weaknesses of the companies battered during times of uncertainty

"Stocks aren’t selling because of the Washington debt deal or now even because of yields in Italy. They are selling because they are selling."

Amplify’d from www.thedailybeast.com
I also watched in fascination as stock after stock sold off without any consideration of the intrinsic strength of the underlying businesses, even discounting for a possible global recession.
Wall Street
Stocks aren’t selling because of the Washington debt deal or now even because of yields in Italy. They are selling because they are selling. Apple this week is not a company with 12 percent less business than last week; Caterpillar is not about to sell 30 percent fewer earthmovers in China or Brazil. China is not about to purchase 25 percent less iron ore.
what the markets are saying about those companies, which is a sign that the markets actually aren’t saying anything about those companies, or about the U.S. debt burden or even problems in Europe. It is about the way that external triggers can set off market chain reactions that happen too quickly to react.  
Read more at www.thedailybeast.com

Analysis: Beyond debt woes, a wider crisis of globalization?

This Reuters article looks at global financial structures that outstrip the capacities of governments to manage and respond.

Genuine responses to the financial crisis must include observation at this level, rather than scurrying madly inside the confines of an obsolete mental framework.

Amplify’d from www.reuters.com

LONDON (Reuters) - The crises at the heart of the international financial and political system go beyond the debt woes currently gripping the Western world and to the heart of the way the global economy has been run for over two decades.

A television journalist looks at a display board shortly after the local market opened at the Australian Stock Exchange in Sydney, August 5, 2011. REUTERS/Tim Wimborne

After relying on it to deliver years of growth, lift millions from poverty, keep living standards rising and citizens happy, nation states look to have lost control of globalization.

In the short term, that leaves policymakers looking impotent in the face of fast-moving markets and other uncontrolled and perhaps uncontrollable systems -- undermining their authority and potentially helping fuel a wider backlash and social unrest.

Read more at www.reuters.com