Wednesday, April 11, 2012

First World Happiness Report Launched at the United Nations

The happiest countries in the world are all in Northern Europe (Denmark, Norway, Finland, Netherlands). Their average life evaluation score is 7.6 on a 0-to-10 scale. The least happy countries are all poor countries in Sub-Saharan Africa (Togo, Benin, Central African Republic, Sierra Leone) with average life evaluation scores of 3.4. But it is not just wealth that makes people happy: Political freedom, strong social networks and an absence of corruption are together more important than income in explaining well-being differences between the top and bottom countries. At the individual level, good mental and physical health, someone to count on, job security and stable families are crucial.

These are among the findings of the first ever World Happiness Report (download PDF), commissioned for the April 2nd United Nations Conference on Happiness (mandated by the UN General Assembly). The report, published by the Earth Institute and co-edited by the institute’s director, Jeffrey Sachs, reflects a new worldwide demand for more attention to happiness and absence of misery as criteria for government policy. It reviews the state of happiness in the world today and shows how the new science of happiness explains personal and national variations in happiness.

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Orson Welles Narrates Animation of Plato’s Cave Allegory


In 1973, Orson Welles narrated this animated short, which features somewhat surreal artwork by Dick Oden. More...

The Movement for Peace Marches On Against the Drug War

By Bill Conroy, Narco News

The one-year anniversary of the Movement for Peace with Justice and Dignity, a grassroots groundswell against the drug war, played out March 28 in a small plaza in the Mexican city of Cuernavaca, just south of Mexico City — absent the cameras and pens of the mainstream media.

What took place that day and during the day prior to the Movement event, both in spoken words and displayed emotions, pushed back hard against both US and Mexican interests that continue to perpetuate the carnage of the war on drugs. The flow of weapons from the US south into Mexico and the seemingly insatiable demand for the drugs flowing north into the US — both fueling misery, bloodshed and a major human exodus from Mexico — were all brought into sharp focus by this Movement gathering.

For Mexico, this war on drugs, since Mexican President Felipe Calderon escalated it beginning in late 2006, has cost some 65,000 lives, though the true number is an ever-growing figure that evades precise measurement and doesn’t even include the thousands of disappeared. In the US, the number of homicides attributable to the drug war is not even tracked systematically, as a recent Narco News story exposed, but the knowable murder tally between 2006 and 2010, based on FBI crime figures, (and representing a considerable undercount) is an average of 1,100 a year.

And then there is another class of victims, the hundreds of thousands of Mexicans who have crossed the border into the US over the past five years (adding to the millions of people now living in the US without the proper paperwork) in search of work and a safe harbor from the violence of Mexico’s drug war — violence, in the form of not only murder but also robbery, extortion, kidnappings and sexual exploitation, that has disappeared not only people but jobs.

[ ... ]

And because I cover this drug war, have for some eight years for Narco News, I know all too well the genesis of this pain, and to no small degree it traces back to US consumer habits and government policy — as we are the major consumers of the drugs coming north and our government and private companies are the major exporters of the weapons going south — the munitions, guns and bullets arming all sides of the failed, bloody drug war.

Here’s a small taste of that shipping agenda:

• Under the State Department’s Direct Commercial Sales program, which authorizes weapons sales by private US companies to overseas buyers, such as the Mexican military, some $85.2 million in arms were shipped to Mexico in fiscal 2010 alone.

U.S. private-sector suppliers, via the DCS program, doubled that mark in fiscal 2009, shipping to Mexico a total of $177 million worth of defense articles — which includes items like military aircraft, firearms and explosives.

By comparison, in fiscal 2009, private arms companies in the U.S. shipped $40 million worth of weapons to Afghanistan; $126 million to Iraq; and $131 million to Israel.

• A 2011 report prepared for the US Senate Committee on Homeland Security & Governmental Affairs found “that from 2005 to 2009, the federal government’s annual spending on counternarcotics contracts in Latin America rose by 32%, from $482 million in 2005 to $635.8 million in 2009. In total, the government spent more than $3.1 billion on counternarcotics contracts during this period. …"

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Happy Birthday to the Movement for Peace with Justice and Dignity

Last week, the Movement for Peace with Justice and Dignity celebrated its first anniversary. In this video birthday card produced by scholars of the 2012 School of Authentic Journalism, voices from throughout the world wish the movement good luck in its continued struggle to end the War on Drugs.

Riots may be controlled with chemicals

Ben Quinn reports for The Guardian:

Future riots could be quelled by projectiles containing chemical irritants fired by police using new weapons that are now in the final stages of development.

The Discriminating Irritant Projectile (Dip) has been under development by the Home Office's centre for applied science and technology (Cast) as a potential replacement for plastic bullets.

Documents obtained by the Guardian reveal that last summer's riots in England provided a major impetus to Home Office research into new-generation riot control technology, ranging from the Dip to even more curious weaponry described by Cast technicians as "skunk oil".

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Russia Massing Troops On Iran's Northern Border, Waiting For A Western Attack

The Russian military anticipates that an attack will occur on Iran by the summer and has developed an action plan to move Russian troops through neighboring Georgia to stage in Armenia, which borders on the Islamic republic, according to informed Russian sources.

Russian Security Council head Viktor Ozerov said that Russian General Military Headquarters has prepared an action plan in the event of an attack on Iran.

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Curse of Tutankhamun may have been work of Satanist killer

According to The Telegraph -

Six mysterious London deaths famously attributed to the 'Curse of Tutankhamun' were actually murders by notorious Satanist Aleister Crowley, a historian claims in a new book.

Incredible parallels between Crowley and Jack the Ripper have also been discovered during research by historian Mark Beynon.

Throughout the 1920s and 1930s, London was gripped by the mythical curse of Tutankhamun, the Egyptian boy-king, whose tomb was uncovered by British archaeologist Howard Carter.

More than 20 people linked to the opening of the pharaoh's burial chamber in Luxor in 1923 bizarrely died over the following years - six of them in the capital.

Victims included Carter's personal secretary Captain Richard Bethell, who was found dead in his bed from suspected smothering at an exclusive Mayfair club.

[ ... ]

At the time, a frenzied Press blamed the 'Curse of Tutankhamun' for the deaths and speculated on the supernatural powers of the ancient Egyptians.

But Mr Beynon has now drawn on previously unpublished evidence to conclude the deaths were all ritualistic killings masterminded by Crowley, an occultist dubbed "the wickedest man in the world".

After unique analysis of Crowley's diaries, essays and books and inquest reports, the armchair detective argues that he was a Jack the Ripper-obsessed copycat killer.

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Recently reported cases of ritual murder:

S.African Girl Dies After Being Set Ablaze By Satanists!

Police: Indian child killed as human sacrifice

2 Boys, 1 Woman Killed as Human Sacrifices to ‘Saint Death’ in Mexico

Cases of satanic murders or human sacrifice from around the world

And, some perspective on the subject:

Human sacrifice today Who is really doing it? (Fringe adherents of some non-Abrahamic traditional religions, mostly) by Diane Vera

Training Terrorists in Nevada: Seymour Hersh on U.S. Aid to Iranian Group Tied to Scientist Killings


From Democracy Now! -

Journalist Seymour Hersh has revealed that the Bush administration secretly trained an Iranian opposition group on the State Department’s list of foreign terrorists. Hersh reports the U.S. Joint Special Operations Command trained operatives from Mujahideen-e-Khalq, or MEK, at a secret site in Nevada beginning in 2005. According to Hersh, MEK members were trained in intercepting communications, cryptography, weaponry and small unit tactics at the Nevada site up until President Obama took office. The MEK has been listed as a foreign terrorist groups since 1997 and is linked to a number of attacks, spanning from the murders of six U.S. citizens in the 1970s to the recent wave of assassinations targeting Iranian nuclear scientists. Hersh also discusses the role of Israeli intelligence and notes the Obama administration knew about the training, "because they have access to what was going on in the previous administration in this area in terms of the MEK, in terms of operations inside Iran." His new report for The New Yorker blog, "Our Men in Iran?," comes as nuclear talks are set to resume this week between Iran and the International Atomic Energy Agency.

Jimmy Page Meets William Burroughs In New York City

... Burroughs thought he and Jimmy might know people in common since Burroughs had lived in London for most of the past ten years. It turned out to be an interesting list, including film director Donald Camell, who worked on the great Performance; John Michell, an expert on occult matters, especially Stonehenge and UFOs; Mick Jagger and other British rock stars; and Kenneth Anger, auteur of Lucifer Rising. Burroughs told Page about the feelings of energy and exhilaration he experienced sitting in the thirteenth row of a Led Zeppelin concert. These feelings, he told Page, were similar to those he had known while listening to music in Morocco, especially the loud pipes and drums of the Master Musicians of Jajouka. Page somewhat sheepishly admitted that he had yet to visit Morocco but had been to India and Thailand and heard a lot of music there.

Burroughs was interested in getting Page to speak about crowd control, a longtime fascination. “It seems to be that rock stars are juggling fissionable material of the mass unconscious that could blow up at any time,” he pondered. ...

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Allen Ginsberg and Paola Igliori discuss the life and times of Harry Smith

From Milk magazine -

Paola: What's the first memory you have of Harry?

Allen: I heard about him before I met him, from Jordan Belson, who lived on Montgomery Street up the block from me in San Francisco, a filmmaker who had learned a lot from Harry. Harry originally came from Seattle, then in Berkeley as part of what was called "the Berkeley Renaissance" in 1948 around Robert Duncan, Jack Spicer, and other poets studying medieval history. I don't think Harry was matriculated, but I think he had worked with Kroeber, I'm not sure the anthropologist. While we were sniffin' ether, Jordan told me about Harry, this polymath brilliant fellow who'd invented the machinery for making light shows and had left that behind when he left San Francisco. The people working on rock concert light shows developed their multimedia Fillmore West wall-collage projections from Harry's equipment, including the idea of mixing oils or colors on a mirror which was then projected on the wall: liquid psychedelic flowing moving images.

He told me enough about him so that when I was in New York later in 1959 I went to the Five Spot to listen to Thelonious Monk night after night. The Five Spot was then on the Bowery
a regular classic jazz club where once I saw Lester Young, and Monk was a regular for several months. And I noted there was an old guy, with a familiar face, someone I dimly recognized from a description, slightly hunchback, short, magical-looking, in a funny way gnomish or dwarfish, same time dignified. He was sitting at a table by the piano towards the kitchen making little marks on a piece of paper. I said to myself, "Is that Harry Smith? I'll go over and ask him." And it turned out to be Harry Smith. I asked him what he was doing, marking on the paper. He said he was calculating whether Thelonious Monk was hitting the piano before or after the beat trying to notate the syncopation of Thelonious Monk's piano. But I asked him this track record of the syncopation or retards that Monk was making, never coming quite on beat but always aware of the beat. He said it was because he was calculating the variants. Then I asked him why he was interested in Crowley, magic, in numbers, in esoteric systems, Theosophy, and was also a member of the O.T.O. He had practical use for it. He was making animated collages and he needed the exact tempo of Monk's changes and punctuations of time in order to synchronize the collages and hand-drawn frame-by-frame abstractions with Monk's music. He was working frame-by-frame so it was possible for him to do that, but he needed some kind of scheme.

More...

See also:

American Magus / Harry Smith: A Modern Alchemist

Harry Smith - Ian Simmons looks back at the eccentric career of Harry Smith - filmmaker, musicologist and magician

Mr. Deity and the Void

John Holloway: Greece shows us how to protest against a failed system

From The Guardian:

The joy is the joy of seeing the much-trodden worm turn and roar. The joy of seeing those whose cheeks have been slapped a thousand times slapping back. How can we ask of people that they accept meekly the ferocious cuts in living standards that the austerity measures imply? Do we want them to just agree that the massive creative potential of so many young people should be just eliminated, their talents trapped in a life of long-term unemployment? All that just so that the banks can be repaid, the rich made richer? All that, just to maintain a capitalist system that has long since passed its sell-by date, that now offers the world nothing but destruction. For the Greeks to accept the measures meekly would be to multiply depression by depression, the depression of a failed system compounded by the depression of lost dignity.

The violence of the reaction in Greece is a cry that goes out to the world. How long will we sit still and see the world torn apart by these barbarians, the rich, the banks? How long will we stand by and watch the injustices increase, see the health service dismantled, education reduced to uncritical nonsense, the water resources of the world privatised, communities wiped out and the earth torn up for the profits of mining companies?

More...

See also:

John Holloway: We are the Crisis of Capitalism - via Peter Waterman

Change the World Without Taking Power - John Holloway

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