Tuesday, June 30, 2009

thought for today

"JKrishnamurti.org - Daily Quote ===

To be alone is essential

To be alone is essential for man to be uninfluenced, for something uncontaminated to take place. For this aloneness there seems to be no time, there are too many things to do, too many responsibilities and so on. To learn to be quiet, shutting oneself in one's room, to give the mind a rest, becomes a necessity. Love is part of this aloneness. To be simple, clear, and inwardly quiet, is to have that flame.

Letters to a Young Friend - 20"

Monday, June 29, 2009

thought for today

There are mistakes... one knows they are mistakes, but still it is as though one were pushed into making them. Then?
Pushed by what? Ah, this is exactly what happens! It is the lower nature, the instincts of the subconscient which govern you and make you do things you should not do. And so it is a choice between your will and accepting submission. There is always a moment when one can decide.
. . .And it is a choice between weak submission and a controlling will. And if the will is clear, if it is based on truth, if truly it obeys the truth and is clear, it always has the power to refuse the wrong movement. It is an excuse you give yourself when you say, "I could not." It is not true. It is that truly you have not wanted it in the right way. For there is always the choice between saying "yes" and saying "no". But one chooses to be weak and later gives oneself this excuse, saying, "It is not my fault; it was stronger than I." It is your fault if the thing was stronger than you. Because you are not these impulses, you are a conscious soul and an intelligent will, and your duty is to see that this is what governs you and not the impulses from below.

- The Mother [CWMCE, 6:343-44]

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Marriage sucks!

Salon reviews a book about the death of marriage.

Why would anyone submit to the doomed delusion that is marriage? The unmarried among us have surely begun to ask this question. (No doubt the married have, too, though in the past tense.) For several years now, disdain for heterosexual unions has been on the rise -- or at least the disdainful have been more vocal -- and it's become increasingly difficult to believe that a lasting marriage is possible. If it is possible, the "hard work" it requires will wring the partnership of all passion and wonderment and joy. From the narratives of wifely grievance routinely published in women's magazines to the spectacular public bust-ups of numerous celebrity marriages in which we have placed our bruised faith, it's easy to glean that we currently inhabit a vast and bleak landscape of marital discontent.

There are numbers to corroborate this: In a much-discussed recent survey of 35,000 American women, published in the July issue of Woman's Day, 72 percent of married women said they had considered leaving their husbands. Seventy-nine percent said they'd like sex more often, and 52 percent said they have no sex life to speak of. Contemporary marriage, all signs would indicate, is a long, tedious slog toward sex-starved paunchiness via an endless, embittering negotiation of banalities: who will shuttle the kids, walk the dog, prepare the meals, wash the laundry.

Last week, as though timed to the release of the survey findings, two female writers offered their respective takes on the subject. In a heavily parsed essay in the July/August issue of the Atlantic Monthly titled "Let's Call the Whole Thing Off," writer Sandra Tsing-Loh explores the dissolution of her 20-year marriage, pinpointing as the superficial cause her extramarital affair and subsequent inability "to take on yet another home- and self-improvement project, that of rekindling [her] romance." From her personal predicament she diagnoses a broader epidemic of dissatisfaction -- emotional, social, familial and, most of all, sexual -- among women. "To work, to parent, to housekeep, to be the ones who schedule 'date night' ... and then, in the bedroom, to be ignored -- it's a bum deal," she writes. Literary critic and essayist Christina Nehring, who also happens to write for the Atlantic, takes a more impersonal approach in her contrarian polemic, "A Vindication of Love"; she writes of the bankrupt state of romantic love in our society: "We inhabit a world in which every aspect of romance from meeting to mating has been streamlined, safety-checked and emptied of spiritual consequence … Romance in our day is a poor and shrunken thing."


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Friday, June 26, 2009

Michael Jackson a life

Andrew Sullivan muses in the Atlantic about the genius of Michael Jackson and the abuse he suffered by a tyrannical father.

There are two things to say about him. He was a musical genius; and he was an abused child. By abuse, I do not mean sexual abuse; I mean he was used brutally and callously for money, and clearly imprisoned by a tyrannical father. He had no real childhood and spent much of his later life struggling to get one. He was spiritually and psychologically raped at a very early age - and never recovered. Watching him change his race, his age, and almost his gender, you saw a tortured soul seeking what the rest of us take for granted: a normal life.

But he had no compass to find one; no real friends to support and advise him; and money and fame imprisoned him in the delusions of narcissism and self-indulgence. Of course, he bears responsibility for his bizarre life. But the damage done to him by his own family and then by all those motivated more by money and power than by faith and love was irreparable in the end. He died a while ago. He remained for so long a walking human shell.

I loved his music. His young voice was almost a miracle, his poise in retrospect eery, his joy, tempered by pain, often unbearably uplifting. He made the greatest music video of all time; and he made some of the greatest records of all time. He was everything our culture worships; and yet he was obviously desperately unhappy, tortured, afraid and alone.

I grieve for him; but I also grieve for the culture that created and destroyed him. That culture is ours' and it is a lethal and brutal one: with fame and celebrity as its core values, with money as its sole motive, it chewed this child up and spat him out.

I hope he has the peace now he never had in his life. And I pray that such genius will not be so abused again.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Michael Jackson is dead at 50

Super Star Michael Jackson is dead in LA after a struggle with illhealth.

Music Memorials | 6:38 p.m. Expect a number of Jackson music marathons in the days to come. According to our colleague Stuart Elliott: WCBS-FM, the oldies station in New York, is broadcasting some of Mr. Jackson’s greatest hits. The station said it would have special programming later in the day.

Mr. Jackson was one of the icons of MTV’s early days in the 1980’s. Our colleague Steve Reddicliffe says that the music channel is now playing the music videos for “Beat It” and “Thriller,” accompanied by a “breaking news” graphic on the screen about the singer’s death.

Update | 6:37 p.m. The Associated Press is reporting that Mr. Jackson is dead.

Reaction | 6:37 p.m. Television news images showed large crowds gathering outside the UCLA Medical Center. “People are already showing up in costume, believe it or not,” said a Fox News correspondent, Trace Gallagher, comparing it to the circus he witnessed during a trial involving Mr. Jackson.

More Reports | 6:29 p.m. “A lot will be said about Michael Jackson as we learn more about this story,” Brian Williams said on the “NBC Nightly News.”

“He was incredibly talented, a child star who was an adult with deep troubles and physical and mental health issues.”

The reports of Mr. Jackson’s death ricocheted around the world with remarkable speed. The news led Friday morning newscasts in Japan.

CBS and ABC are also reporting the news, standing on their own reporting now.

L.A. Times Reports Jackson Is Dead | 6:24 p.m. The newspaper cited “city and law enforcement sources.” The networks and CNN are also broadcasting the news, citing the Times story.

Reports: Jackson in a Coma | 6:15 p.m. Several news organizations including the Los Angeles Times reported that Mr. Jackson “is in a coma.” The newspaper attributed the news to one law enforcement source. CNN is also citing “multiple sources” as saying that Mr. Jackson is in a coma.

Update | 6:11 p.m. LOS ANGELES – An unconscious Michael Jackson was rushed to UCLA Medical Center on Thursday afternoon by paramedics who performed C.P.R., according to the Los Angeles Fire Department.

Early reports indicated cardiac arrest, but a hospital spokeswoman was not immediately available for comment. Mr. Jackson, 50, has been renting a mansion in the Bel Air neighborhood, a short distance from the hospital, and rehearsing for a series of 50 sold-out shows in London.

Joe Jackson told to E! News, an entertainment Web site and cable channel, that the singer’s family was scrambling to determine his condition. “I am in Las Vegas, but yes, people in Los Angeles called me and are with Michael and tell me he was taken to the hospital,” Mr. Jackson told E! News. “His mother is on her way to the hospital now to check in on him.”

Mr. Jackson is scheduled to perform in a series of concerts in at the O2 arena London, beginning next month and continuing into 2010. The shows have been widely seen in the music industry as an important possible comeback for him, with the potential to earn him up to $50 million, according to some reports. But there has also been worry and speculation that Mr. Jackson, who is 50, was not physically ready for such an arduous run of concerts, and Mr. Jackson’s postponement of the first of those shows from July 8 to July 12 fueled new rounds of gossip about his health.

Even though Mr. Jackson has sold millions of albums around the world — “Thriller,” from 1982, has been certified 28 times platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America — his eccentric lifestyle took a severe financial toll. In 1987 Mr. Jackson paid about $17 million for a 2,600-acre ranch in Los Olivos, Calif., 125 miles northwest of Los Angeles. Calling it Neverland, he outfitted the property with amusement-park rides, a zoo and a 50-seat theater, at a cost of $35 million, according to reports, and the ranch became his sanctum.

But Neverland, and Mr. Jackson’s lifestyle, were expensive to maintain. A forensic accountant who testified at Mr. Jackson’s molestation trial in 2005 said that Mr. Jackson’s annual budget in 1999 included $7.5 million for personal expenses and $5 million to maintain Neverland. By at least the late 1990s, he began to take out huge loans to support himself and pay debts. In 1998 he took out a loan for $140 million from Bank of America, which two years later was upped to $200 million. Further loans of hundreds of millions followed.

The collateral for the loans was Mr. Jackson’s 50 percent share in Sony/ATV Music Publishing, a portfolio of thousands of songs, including more than 100 by the Beatles that are considered some of the most valuable properties in music. In 1985 Mr. Jackson paid $47.5 million for ATV, which included the Beatles songs — a move that estranged him from Paul McCartney — and 10 years later Mr. Jackson sold 50 percent of his interest to Sony for $90 million, creating a joint venture, Sony/ATV. Estimates of the value of the catalog exceed $1 billion.

A member of the pop group The Jackson 5 as a child, Mr. Jackson was a pint-size musical dynamo. He under the aegis of Joe Jackson, spent years in talent shows and performing in seedy Midwestern clubs his dictatorial and ambitious father. Joe Jackson and Berry Gordy, the founder of Motown Records, were the singer’s twin mentors during his early career.

Mr. Jackson eventually broke with his father and the Jackson 5, a move toward creative and financial independence marked by his collaborations with Quincy Jones on a trio of albums. The most memorable of those is 1982’s “Thriller,” which eventually racked up sales of 51 million copies globally, according to the Guinness World Records, making it the best-selling album in history.

A spokesman for the Los Angeles Fire Department told CNN that rescuers were called to Mr. Jackson’s home at 12:21 p.m. Pacific. “When paramedics went on the scene, they treated the patient, then they immediately transported the patient to UCLA,” the spokesman told CNN. Mr. Jackson’s home is located only a few minutes from the hospital center.

Cable news channels almost immediately started showing paparazzi shots from TMZ, X17Online.com and Hollywood.TV of Mr. Jackson’s entourage arriving at the hospital. By mid-afternoon, television news helicopters were hovering above the medical center.

Entertainment news Web sites including EOnline.com and PerezHilton.com appeared to be loading more slowly than usual, or not loading at all, an indication of the intense interest in Mr. Jackson’s hospitalization.

Women are risking their lives in Iran

Barbara Crossette writes in the nation of the seminal role of women protesting the Iranian fraudulent elections.

As Iran's government lashed out today at its foreign critics, people around the world were lighting candles and laying flowers at makeshift shrines to the political opposition's first "martyr" in the battle against the hardliners of the Islamic Republic. In every way the unwitting victim, Neda Agha-Soltan, has become a powerful if tragic icon of a new Iran. She was a young woman of 26, and she died Saturday wearing tight jeans and running shoes, her head uncovered as she fell from the gunshot that killed her. Male strangers rushed to help her, ignoring draconian religious taboos.

Iran's religious leaders, who have barred public memorials for Agha-Soltan amid rumors that one was being planned for Thursday in Tehran, stepped up threats against would-be demonstrators and reiterated that the disputed election on June 12 that returned President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to power would not be annulled and rerun. Some scattered protests continued through Monday night, according to online reports and videos from Iranians. International news agencies can no longer work freely in the country.

Britain, now the primary scapegoat of rattled Iranian authorities, ordered the expulsion today of two Iranian diplomats from London in retaliation for the expulsion on Monday of two British diplomats from Tehran. Speaking in the House of Commons, Prime Minister Gordon Brown said that Iranian allegations of British meddling in Iran's affairs were "absolutely without foundation." Iran has also formally criticized the United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, who this week called on the regime to "respect the will of the people."

The pervasive presence of women in street protests, and the influential political role played by Zahra Rahnavard, a political scientist and the wife of Mir Hossein Moussavi, the leading opposition candidate, have been cast into even sharper focus by the death of Agha-Soltan, though she appears to have been a mere observer to the upheaval.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

The Bird May Die

The bird may die
Forough Farokhzad

I feel sad,

I feel blue.

I go outside and rub my fingers

on the sleek shell of the night.

“I see that lights of contact are blocked,

All lights of contact are blocked.”

“Nobody will introduce me to the sun,

Nobody will take me to the gathering of doves.”

Keep the flight in mind,

The bird may die.

Thanks 3qd

Translation: Maryam Dilmaghani

Friday, June 19, 2009

Shirin Ebadi on the situation in Iran

Shirin writes in the Huffington Post about Iran.

3QD and Juan Cole have great continuing coverage on the unfolding situation in Iran.

On Monday, June 15, more than 1 million people marched in the streets of Tehran to support Mir Hossein Moussavi and Mehdi Karroubi -- two defeated presidential candidates -- and to object to the results of last week's election. Their destination was Azadi Square (Freedom Square) which, at the time of the Islamic Revolution 30 years ago, had been the gathering spot for revolutionaries. Mir Hossein Moussavi climbed on top of a minibus and spoke to the people through a loudspeaker. He told them to continue their objections but refrain from aggressive behavior, in order not to give security forces an excuse to resort to violence.

Peaceful demonstrations ended, and while people were slowly dispersing to go home, suddenly, from the rooftop of a building belonging to Basij (the volunteer people's militia), shots were fired on the people. Another group started firing from another direction. Based on reports, there are seven killed and around 30 wounded and hospitalized thus far.

Basij operates under the guidance and supervision of the Revolutionary Guards of the Islamic Republic. It was created after the revolution, and its sole duty is to maintain and safeguard the government. Although volunteers, Basij members enjoy many privileges. They do not wear military uniforms but have the right to carry weapons and police communication equipment.

People's dissatisfaction with the results does not concern the present elections alone: Many objections were made four years ago when Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was first elected president. At the time, Mehdi Karroubi and Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, two senior and powerful figures of the Islamic Republic, were Ahmadinejad's opponents.

Ahmadinejad's most important position until then had been mayor of Tehran. He was, however, supported by Basij and Ayatollah Khamenei, the Islamic Republic's leader for life. Karroubi submitted several complaints to the Guardian Council, the governmental body in charge of observing and ensuring the election process. But he did not obtain any positive results. Then-President Mohammad Khatami announced that many violations had occurred. Furthermore, Hashemi Rafsanjani, who also objected to the outcome, explicitly stated that he would take his complaint to God himself, since no one in Iran would heed his objections.

Ahmadinejad's four years of presidency resulted in people's great dissatisfaction. During this time, inflation reached 25 percent, prices kept increasing on a daily basis, and people's purchasing power kept decreasing. A large number of newspapers were closed down, an increasing number of political and human rights activists were imprisoned, the offices of the Center for Human Rights Defenders (I am chair of the center) were closed down, etc.

The Leader of the revolution continued his support of the president in spite of the people's dissatisfaction, even after the Majles (parliament) declared that $1 billion had been withdrawn without legal authority. And the moment the Interior Ministry declared Ahmadinejad winner of last week's election, the Leader congratulated him, although votes had not been counted in all districts. Furthermore, other candidates had the right to contest the elections results, and no one should have been congratulated until their objections had been heard and definitive results been determined. This premature act of congratulating angered the Iranian population.

Objections to the last week's election are generally as follows:

1. At most voting locations, Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi's representatives were not allowed to be present.

2. It is claimed that many of the ballot boxes have been tampered with.

3. Ahmadinejad obtained 14 million votes in the previous elections. This time, however, they made the unprecedented announcement that he had 24 million votes. Mehdi Karroubi announced that his votes were less than the number of his election headquarters' members and the members of the "Etemad Melli" party, which he heads. When millions of people in Tehran and other cities came out on the streets to protest the elections results, it was clear that Ahmadinejad's 24 million votes could not have been accurate.

Students also objected to the results. On June 15, in the wee hours of the morning, when Tehran University students were at their dormitory, the Basij militia conducted a murderous raid and a number of students were killed. There are no exact figures at present, but at least five students are said to have been killed, two of whom are women. Many have been injured.

Bassij militia and security forces have also attacked students in a number of other cities such as Isfahan, Shiraz and Tabriz. An estimated four have been killed and many others have been injured. According to the students themselves, 300 of their brethren have been arrested in these past few days.

Continuing protests led to the arrest of Ahmad Zeydabadi, secretary general of the Advar Tahkim Vahdat party. Furthermore, a great number of political and social activists including Saeed Hajjarian, Mostafa Tajzadeh, Abdolfattah Soltani and Reza Tajik were arrested. High speed Internet was disconnected, and foreign journalists were ordered to leave Iran as quickly as possible.

Mobile phone services and television networks including VOA and the BBC were disrupted, and the government tried to cut people's lines of communication with each other.

The situation caused a number of the members of the parliament to announce their objections in a letter, and the speaker of the parliament, Ali Larijani, to declare the Interior Ministry responsible for violence and unrest.

Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi encouraged their supporters to continue calm and peaceful protests. They told them to voice their objection and dissatisfaction through shouts of Allah-o-Akbar (God is great) between 9 p.m. and 10 p.m. The sound of Allah-o-Akbar resonates in the entire city every night and is reminiscent of the nights of the revolution.

The intensification of popular protests has resulted in the Leader of the Islamic Republic ordering an investigation of the complaints and the Guardian Council announcing that some of the ballot boxes would be recounted. It does not appear, however, that this will calm the situation.

The best solution for establishing peace in Iran consists of:

1. The unconditional release of every individual arrested and imprisoned for having objected to the results of the elections.

2. Ordering the cessation of Basij and police violence toward protestors.

3. Declaring the election void.

4. Ordering new elections under the auspices of international organizations.

5. Paying compensation to the injured and to the families of those who have been killed.

Calm could perhaps be brought back to the Iranian society if these conditions are met. Otherwise, there is a great possibility of increased violence in Iran.

the corruption of priviledge

David Cameron