Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Putin Blinked

Posted: 28 May 2014
Thomas Friedman

On 27 May, Tom Friedman wrote in the New York Times:

There was a moment at the height of the Cuban missile crisis in October 1962 when Soviet ships approached to within just a few miles of a U.S. naval blockade and then, at the last minute, turned back — prompting then-Secretary of State Dean Rusk to utter one of the most famous lines from the Cold War:  “We’re eyeball to eyeball, and I think the other fellow just blinked.”
The crisis in Ukraine never threatened a Cold War-like nuclear Armageddon, but it may be the first case of post-post-Cold War brinkmanship, pitting the 21st century versus the 19th. It pits a Chinese/Russian worldview that says we can take advantage of 21st-century globalization whenever we want to enrich ourselves, and we can behave like 19th-century powers whenever we want to take a bite out of a neighbor — versus a view that says, no, sorry, the world of the 21st century is not just interconnected but interdependent and either you play by those rules or you pay a huge price.
In the end, it was Putinism versus Obamaism, and I’d like to be the first on my block to declare that the “other fellow” — Putin — “just blinked.”
In fact, I’d like to say more: Putin got pretty much everything wrong in Ukraine. He thought the world was still shaped by “spheres of influence” dictated from the top down, when Ukraine was all about the emergence of “people of influence” — The Square People, organized from the bottom up and eager to join their own sphere: the world of liberty and free markets represented by the European Union.
Putin underestimated Ukrainian patriotism; even many Russian speakers in eastern Ukraine did not like pro-Putin thugs trying to force them to join Russia. “Ukrainians have said in opinion polls that they want open borders and visa-free access to Russia,” noted the pollster Craig Charney.  “But they also said in those polls — and confirmed with their majority vote for a pro-European candidate in Sunday’s election — that while they think Russia is a nice place to visit, they wouldn't want to live there.”
And, most of all, Putin underestimated the impact of Western economic sanctions. The world turned out to be more interdependent, and Russia more exposed to that interdependence, than Putin thought.
So he blinked. The first flutter was pulling back his troops from Ukraine’s border and letting the election proceed. Interestingly, he chose to blink this out most directly at last week’s St. Petersburg International Economic Forum, Russia’s annual conference to attract global investors. “We want peace and calm in Ukraine,” Mr. Putin told the business executives. “We are interested that on our western borders we have peace and calm in Ukraine. ... We will work with the newly elected structure.”
After Putin spoke, the ruble rose 1 percent against the dollar, demonstrating just how much global markets will continue to reward his conciliation and punish his aggression. It has not been pretty. Putin has had to spend billions propping up the ruble and making up for lost foreign investment. Reuters reported that Russia’s First Deputy Prime Minister Igor Shuvalov told some attendees in St. Petersburg that the sanctions are “causing serious consequences for our economy,” which could soon be in recession.

And, because Putin’s aggression in Crimea has spurred Europe to reduce its dependence on Russian gas, Putin rushed to Beijing to conclude a natural gas supply deal with China. The price China extracted is secret and experts “suspect Putin dropped the price of gas significantly for China in a desperate maneuver to ensure a steady cash flow for Gazprom in the face of sinking revenue and Western sanctions,” The Washington Post reported. “ ‘There’s something fishy in the contract,’ ” said Mikhail Krutikhin, an energy analyst at RusEnergy, suggesting that Russia got a bad bargain. Putin blinked.
I hope he's right!

Friday, May 16, 2014

Imperial Decay

Posted: 16 May 2014
Updated: Monday, 19 May 2014

On May 15, 2014, I received a shocking video clip and forwarded it to family members and friends, whose opinion I value, and wondered about my own view of its message. Below is some of that correspondence.

On Thursday, May 15, 2014, at 8:20 PM, Eugene Kovalenko wrote:
Dear family and friends,

Alas, I agree with "the endgame for America…" as presented in the link below [from Alexandra], albeit critics would probably call it mere leftist propaganda. There was a time I believed that the LDS [Mormon] Church as an institution had leaders with the wisdom, foresight, courage and power to perceive and transform this creeping decay. No longer.. The only way out that I can see will have to be by other-worldly and/or miraculous means..

After viewing this short (~9 minute) video with me, Birgitta disagreed with the idea of "Capitalism per se" being the root problem, but that rather "greed and the unregenerate heart ls". I like her modification. There are indeed corporations and institutions that do good things. "Greed and the unregenerate heart is the big problem with any government or institution", she continued. Then she reminded me of wanting to see again the now classic movie "The Corporation"... Who was it that said "The greatest single invention of modern times is the [limited] corporation."?

Please comment and correct me/us... 

Below is Alexandra's initial email on Thursday afternoon, followed by comments from friends and family:
From: Alexandra 
Sent: Thursday, May 15, 2014 4:45 PM 
To: Eugene 
Subject: Imperial Decay 
Dear Eugene,  'The endgame for America appeared as what were peddled as more heroic victories: Afghanistan and Iraq. The world was advised after their invasions that the US "Mission" was  "Accomplished".
"A shameful, bloody and bankrupting decade later, worn-out and worsted by both enemies, America's military has been frog-marched out of Iraq and is baffled, lost and directionless in Afghanistan.

"It would seem that rational rulers would absorb a message, written in the blood and money of their nation - but that is to misunderstand the function of Empire.
"It is by violence abroad and deception and repression at home, to enrich the ruling class, at the cost of the utter ruin of its society...

(Video: just under 9 minutes):  Imperial Decay 

- Alexandra

On Thursday at 11:45 PM, Kyra K. responded:

Sadly, I agree with this video. I'm politically neutral and averse to all politics, based on the premise 
that false power corrupts, and that politics in this country is rife with false power and arrogance.
I don't know who or what really runs the show.

There are clearly numerous once predominant civilization empires buried under the sands and 
oceans of this planet. We likely don't know their number. To whit, Shelley's imagery in 'Ozymandias' is 

Repeatedly, one empire or another predominates in the known world at any given point in history 
and then implodes on itself in the greed of its upper stratum. What the U.S. Is doing now to me 
seems like late-stage implosion. 

And in this particular period of faltering, spasming, pointless hegemony, the associated
manipulations of climate, deliberate or otherwise, are making the planet unfit for human habitation. 
This may have happened many times before. We don't have the epochal/technological longitudinal
studies on how the collapse of prior technologically adept(?) civilizations on this Earth could have
contributed to the onset of ice ages and catastrophic melts. Perhaps the Biblical tale of Noah's Ark 
was a tacit warning to just such such militaristic, predominant civilizations as to what their 
greed for false power could do.

The balance has irrevocably tipped. The U.S. Is going under and it appears to be taking life on this
planet down with it.  Perhaps humanity has survived prior analogous devastation; perhaps not.
Who knows by whom this planet has been opportunistically populated at any given time? 

I can only hope that anyone who survives the consequences of this latest bout of empire expansion
and collapse will have learned better than to repeat the re-creation of empire. Somehow, I doubt it.

Blessings to all of us in the mist of this madness.

On Friday at 00:42 AM, Joseph D. responded:
Dear Eugene,

Nationalism is a disease that in the end kills its host. It is an externalization of fear-based childhood and adolescent impulses that we all have. 
The only solution is to grow up, to contain those impulses in more mature forms, like nuclear waste in radiation-proof containers. 
These solutions are evolving; they are upon us or in the process of being born. The economist Jeremy Rifkin describes a number of them; they boil down to the rise of interdependent institutions that decentralize power: the internet, individually-generated green energy, and 3-D printing, potentially of just about anything and everything. They have now even constructed ten houses in one day with 3-D printing (in China).

Religion never has and never will prevent societal collapse. It not only did not prevent slavery in all its various forms: child labor, female genital mutilation, women as property, discrimination; it aided and abetted it. The protection of human rights is not a gift from religion to humanity but mostly is the result of non-religious humanists who got laws written. People confuse the enunciation of moral and ethical principles - a device mostly for social control - and the actual practices of religious bodies, which work to maximize their own power, just like secular institutions. People can be taught to be religious and ethical; put them inside a business, government, or church council that has its own groupthink and watch how fast those principles turn to dust. Zimbardo at Stanford demonstrated that principle in his famous prison experiments in the ’60’s. However, when you have interdependent institutions that decentralize power then people have the ability to choose autonomy and separation from the groupthink of nationalism, religion, corporate capitalism, and family scripts. That’s why the internet, green energy, and 3-D printing are game changers for humanity.

Still, we are definitely in a race against time. It is already clear that the damage already inflicted is not going to peak for at least a couple hundred years - that’s about how long it will take the current carbon dioxide atmospheric overload to settle out. That’s if we stopped pumping more dirt into the air today. And we’re not; not even close. Maybe we’ll see real changes in ten years, but if you follow both economics and politics you find that people with power all over the globe are betting their fortunes and prestige on the continuation of business as usual. 

And of course the real problem is the CO2 in the oceans and the amount of time it takes oceans to cool down - much longer than the atmosphere. The oceans are an enormous heat sink; it takes them a long time to heat up; when they do it takes them a long time to cool down. By the time they do, all the glaciers are gone and sea level has risen 100-200 feet. Then how long does it take to rebuild glaciers? 5000 years?? How long does it take to rebuild the flora and fauna of the Everglades?

So a best case scenario is that humanity matures and moves beyond social forms based on empire, greed, phony, superficial ethical pronouncements and mythologically-based delusions and instead devises ways to adapt to a much harsher environment, one which is also much less diverse and more brittle, due to its extreme nature. There isn’t going to be any miracle of geoengineering that is going to miraculously undo this disease process, nor are we going to be rescued from ourselves by God, the Second Coming, the Rapture, extraterrestrials, or the Tooth Fairy. All that is childhood-based delusional wish-fulfillment thinking, similar to, “If I cover my eyes I can make the world disappear; If I don’t think bad thoughts, bad things don’t exist.” This is why everyone needs to understand the Drama Triangle and how it permeates human relationships, cognition, and night time dreams, so they can move beyond basing their lives on delusions of rescue, persecution, and victimization. It’s also why people need to be taught emotional, formal, and perceptual cognitive distortions, so they can recognize them and stop blocking their own development by staying enmeshed in self-generated delusions. The world needs us to grow up.

Psychological geocentrism is one fancy name for the disease. Jared Diamond, in his terrific book, Collapse, explains its underlying manifestations that have destroyed one civilization after another. Humanity will survive this gravest of threats that it has ever confronted, but the US will not; none of the present nation-states will, and none of the religions of the world will. They are childhood luxuries humanity will not be able to afford as he gets about the business of finally taking responsibility not only for what he has created but for the distorted lenses through which he views himself. 

On Friday at 8:18 AM Tom R. responded:
I tend to share Alexandra’s neo-Marxist view, Zhenya.  Birgitta’s ‘modification’ points to the underlying causation in our all too 'human' natures.

What exacerbates it all in our time is the greater economic and technological interdependency of people and nations.  [Dillard’s observation is correct in this regard.]  It’s not unlike the balance of Great Power alliances that Metternich devised after the Napoleonic terror, which was intended to avoid any further international disasters and in fact worked fairly well for another century during the Victorian era—until World War I.  

I also think of the formation of labor unions and the trust busting that followed our own McKinley era, not to mention the New Deal measures that, together with the advent of World Wr II, helped rescue us from the Great Depression but which in our time those on the Right have totally repudiated.  Thomas Picketty’s recent Capital (note its title's doubtless intentional Marxian echo), which has been well received by those who still read serious material, including our own Nobel Prize winning economists, amply demonstrates the ineptness of Reagan’s ’trickle down’ formula and that both inherited wealth and the shabbily taxed obscene incomes of corporate managers, entrepreneurs and celebrities do nothing to offset the 47 (or even 80) percent’s depressed standard of living.  It is hard to imagine that the world's seventy richest people have as much wealth as the entire poorest half of the world's population.’

Your earlier assumption that the LDS Church could, by itself, counteract these ominous trends was “rosy” indeed.  Its general rejection, like that of other religious and of faith as such across the entire Northern Hemisphere, makes that impossible.  Beyond that, the materialistic, self-serving values of far too many of the very pious—be they in the South’s Tea Party or in the ranks of Wasatch Front Mormons—belie and repudiate the understanding and concern that, in this regard, are most needed.


On Saturday at 1:20 PM, son Nick responded:
Bravo Joseph. Concur 110%. Couldn't have said it better myself even if i was capable.
The only solution: forced spiritual meditation of all children and adults to advance the maturity of the collective psyche. This of course would require a new & modern gestapo/stasi to implement & enforce. The U.S. seems to have everything pretty much in place to move forward with this, doesn't it/don't we?
While we're at it i suggest dropping nukes on all carbon emitting industry around the world in order to bring it to a rapid halt. (We can just deny and ignore, like the Right [aka the Wrong], any notion of this action accelerating the impending/inevitable warmed global catastrophe, & rationalize that it would've happened anyway.)
(Did i mention that a couple of my many personality disorders is a lack of rationality and patience, as well as an inability to calculate percentages accurately?)  ;)

The human species, with its wide variety and quantity of narrow, shallow, arrogant & ignorant, self-deluding, self-exalting, self-indulging forms of egocentrism, is the disease; nationalism is just one of our symptoms...
The illusion that we are all separate and what we see is all there is, is what truly tests us and separates the wheat from the rice & beans. It's the only way to play the game of self-discovery & consciousness-evolution authentically.
In the end if we exterminate ourselves the joke is on us, because it simply comes down to a case of unwitting suicide.

It's reassuring to me to know that despite narcissistic human stupidity the planet will recover from our infection eventually.  But how unfortunate it will be not to have this wonderful playground on which to play this amazing game of life for a long while (although in the spirit realms we are not so concerned about time since time & space do not actually exist there). In the scheme of things we merely sacrifice one of many unique playgrounds, and "consciousness-soul-life" in its various forms will continue, albeit not on Earth.
Perhaps after the Earth recovers the divine creative engineering powers that be might design a species for our souls to inhabit that isn't quite as primitive and self-destructive. But what would be the challenge & fun in that?

Looking forward to seeing y'all on the other side and laughing like hell about all this and our silly superstitious human notions! -N

On Saturday, May 17, 2014, at 2:01 PM, Eugene Kovalenko (Zhenya) responded to Tom (Foma) R:

Thanks for responding, my friend. Birgitta and I are always interested in what you have to say. Your deeper awareness of political and historic realities generally give us a broader perspective.

With all the decay that Alexandra has presented to us, I can only think that the downward slide of our planet has moved beyond the point of no return in terms of habitual physical reality for human beings and other creatures. The most important reality to us (me) to consider is simply Love, which of course is Jesus' message from the beginning: God, self, family, friends and others--including enemies and other creatures of all kinds. Funny how overwhelming notions of doom bring one's mind back to basics…..

Be blessed,


On Saturday, 17 May at 8:19 PM, Tom responded to Eugene (Zhenya),
I concur with your wisdom, Zhenya, as Nicholas tends to agree with Joseph.

I wrote this just this morning to a former student and life long LDS CES teacher, now a non-believer:

"In his as always thoughtful review of an arresting first novel by a man, who like his novel’s protagonist, was born in a remote, impoverished village in Bangladesh but subsequently attended Oxford and Yale, then worked both as an investment banker on Wall Street and as an international human-rights lawyer, James Wood (in my view, our finest contemporary literary critic) cites the novel’s narrator’s final words regarding that same protagonist: “I believe that he…had come to see…that understanding is not what this life has given us, that answers can only beget questions, that honesty commands a declaration not of faith but of ignorance, and that the only mission available to us, one laid to our charge, if any hand was in it, is to let unfold the questions, to take to the river knowing not if it runs to the sea, and accept our place as servants of life" [“The World As We Know It: Zia Haider Rahman’s dazzling debut,” The New Yorker, May 19, p. 92].

"This does not, in my view, preclude our proceeding with hope toward that which persuades us as most motivating, gratifying and needful.”

Meanwhile, here are two of the most worthwhile discussions of Ukraine I’ve yet come across:

1) the emigre American with both Russian and Ukrainian roots’s poignant personal account, “Waiting for War” (THE NEW YORKER, May 12, pp. 44-53) 
2) Yale history profess Timothy Snyder’s highly informative argument that Ukraine is indeed a sovereign nation that has endured more than its share of exploitation—“This Battle Means Everything: Fascism Returns to the Continent It Once Destroyed” (THE NEW REPUBLIC, May 26, pp. 24–29).

Bcego khoroshego!—Foma

On Sunday, 18 May at 12:27 AM Joseph responded to Nick (and Eugene):

Dear Nick, 

Thank you for your thoughtful, provocative comments about issues that concern us all, and most of all, those not yet born, of our species and many, many others.

Two comments. While I strongly agree with your thoughts about teaching everyone, particularly children, to meditate, I am much less gung-ho about either its effectiveness or its ability to transform society and human nature than I used to be. Yes, I know about the various studies on stress reduction and increases in brain coherence, mostly with TM or Buddhist vipassana practitioners. Yes, I know of the TM studies on reduction of crime among meditating neighborhoods. For these and many other reasons I have both taught and written about meditation since the early 70's. I still do. 

The problems I have are historically and personally rooted. The historical issue comes from a study of pre-Chinese Tibetan culture, where probably at least 20% of the population were meditating monks. More Tibetan children meditated than probably anywhere else, ever. However, if you examine the social structure of classical Buddhist Tibet you find massive feudal inequalities and a court system that implied a similar proportion of crime as in many other societies. So much for meditation as a social cure-all as well as creating Shangri-La. The standard response is 1) they weren't doing the right type of meditation! MY type is the miracle cure! 2) They weren't meditating long enough; 3) They weren't doing it right. Really????

The second data point was personally troubling. I had a student of my work who used my methods to direct his placement of five million he had made over years gambling his wife's earnings in the stock market. The result is that he got 17% return on his money and was quite happy. Fred also was a lucid dreamer in addition to being a dedicated meditator - at least two hours a day during the three years or so I lived in his guest house - and a regular attendant of meditation seminars, including a three-month research study of the type mentioned above. A devotee of Maharai, Ram Dass' guru for years, no one could say that Fred was not a serious, dedicated student of self-development. So? 

Fred was a hard core Reagan Republican and trickle-down libertarian with neoconservative beliefs until the day he died, this April first. I argued with him about these things all the time, trying my best to square the circle, but the inconsistencies were real and not going anywhere. Fred was a staunch disbeliever in anthropogenic global warming. He hated all taxes, government regulations, and welfare programs. The minimum wage was bad policy. There was no wage that was too low for Fred, because of "the wisdom of the market." Neither reason nor meditation had any impact whatsoever on Fred's world view on these topics, as far as I could tell. To make the contradiction even more pronounced, Fred was, on a personal level, a generous person. If you needed help and he could help you, he would. 

My take-away is that the power of familial and cultural scripting is not to be under-estimated. Could Fred have changed his belief structure if he wanted to? Yes. Did all that meditation make a dent in it? No. Did he want to change? No. Not only did he think his positions were right, he was sitting on a big pile of money as proof. That fortune even earned him respect and status within the meditating communities he traveled in. So whose world view was changing whose??? Consequently, I presently look at great claims for personal and cultural transformation with something of a jaundiced eye, although I remain a strong advocate and a practitioner in my own life.

The second point has to do with laughing at our stupidity from the vantage point of the spirit realms. This is another belief that I have long held and that I now doubt. It makes sense to me that there are good reasons why life spends millions and millions of years evolving ever more sophisticated ways of experiencing, and doing it again and again, like evolving eyes separately and repeatedly well over twenty times over millions nd millions of years. Why? If all can be accomplished in the spirit realms, why go to all that trouble? Is life that bored with itself? Does it have nothing better to do with itself?

The only explanation that I am aware of that makes sense to me is that life needs matter. Matter is very special for life. Why? Because matter allows life to objectify itself and know itself and wake up to itself in ways that the absence of matter just does not and cannot provide. This argument strongly implies that after you and I die we will lose most, if not all of the objectivity life in matter provides, and that this difference in quality of awareness is not trifling. This makes sense to me despite all the channeled and hypnotically regressed evidence to the contrary that is out there. My best guess is that this difference in quality of awareness that matter provides life is huge. Why? Because of the persistence, determinatiôn, and dedication that life demonstrates at evolving forms.

Therefore, I am currently of the persuasion that it is not only better personally but for all species, if humans operate under the assumption that this is the only game in town, and another will not be found for hundreds, if not thousands of light years. I am suspicious in easy talk about immortality, parallel dimensions, spirit guides, and reincarnation simply because it has the psychological effect of sucking one's thumb or hiding under a security blanket. You feel better while inertia continues. 

Under the present circumstances, I am not convinced that life wants us to feel better. I am not so sure life wants to reassure us that in the big scheme of things "all is in divine order." Why? Because life keeps sending us more and more nightmarish wake-up calls. It appears to me that life isn't acting as if it believes all is in divine order. If life doesn't, should we? 

No, I don't think so, and belief systems that are either overly alarmist or overly reassuring are both unhelpful.

Thanks again,


Uruquay's President Jose' Mujica: A man whose time has come

Posted: 16 May 2014

Jose' Mujica

10 Reasons to Love Uruguay's President José Mujica

By Medea Benjamin
May 15 2014 "ICH" -"HP" - President José Mujica of Uruguay, a 78-year-old former Marxist guerrilla who spent 14 years in prison, mostly in solitary confinement, recently visited the United States to meet with President Obama and speak at a variety of venues. He told Obama that Americans should smoke less and learn more languages. He lectured a roomful of businessmen at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce about the benefits of redistributing wealth and raising workers' salaries. He told students at American University that there are no "just wars." Whatever the audience, he spoke extemporaneously and with such brutal honesty that it was hard not to love the guy. Here are 10 reasons you, too, should love President Mujica.

1. He lives simply and rejects the perks of the presidency. Mujica has refused to live at the Presidential Palace or have a motorcade. He lives in a one-bedroom house on his wife's farm and drives a 1987 Volkswagen. "There have been years when I would have been happy just to have a mattress," said Mujica, referring to his time in prison. He donates over 90 percent of his $12,000/month salary to charity so he makes the same as the average citizen in Uruguay. When called "the poorest president in the world," Mujica says he is not poor. "A poor person is not someone who has little but one who needs infinitely more, and more and more. I don't live in poverty, I live in simplicity. There's very little that I need to live."

2. He supported the nation's groundbreaking legalization of marijuana. "In no part of the world has repression of drug consumption brought results. It's time to try something different," Mujica said. So this year, Uruguay became the first country in the world to regulate the legal production, sale, and consumption of marijuana. The law allows individuals to grow a certain amount each year and the government controls the price of marijuana sold at pharmacies. The law requires consumers, sellers, and distributors to be licensed by the government. Uruguay's experience aims to take the market away from the ruthless drug traffickers and treat drug addiction as a public health issue. Their experiment will have reverberations worldwide.

3. In August 2013, Mujica signed the bill making Uruguay the second nation in Latin America (after Argentina) to legalize gay marriage. He said that legalizing gay marriage is simply recognizing reality. "Not to legalize it would be unnecessary torture for some people," he said. In recent years, Uruguay has also moved to allow adoption by gay couples and openly gay people to serve in the armed forces.

4. He's not afraid to confront corporate abuses, as evidenced by the epic struggle his government is waging against the American tobacco giant Philip Morris. A former smoker, Mujica says that tobacco is a killer that needs to be brought under control. But Philip Morris is suing Uruguay for $25 million at the World Bank's International Center for Settlement of Investment Disputes because of the country's tough smoking laws that prohibit smoking in enclosed public spaces and require warning labels, including graphic images of the health effects. Uruguay is the first Latin American country and the fifth nation worldwide to implement a ban on smoking in enclosed public places. Philip Morris, the largest cigarette manufacturer in the United States, has huge global business interests (and a well-paid army of lawyers). Uruguay's battle against the tobacco Goliath will also have global repercussions.

5. He supported the legalization of abortion in Uruguay (his predecessor had vetoed the bill).The law is very limited, compared to laws in the U.S. and Europe. It allows abortions within the first 12 weeks of the pregnancy and requires women to meet with a panel of doctors and social workers on the risks and possible effects of an abortion. But this law is the most liberal abortion law in socially conservative, Catholic Latin America and is clearly a step in the right direction for women's reproductive rights.

6. He's an environmentalist trying to limit needless consumption. At the Rio+20 Summit in 2012, he criticized the model of development pushed by affluent societies. "We can almost recycle everything now. If we lived within our means -- by being prudent -- the 7 billion people in the world could have everything they needed. Global politics should be moving in that direction,"he said. He also recently rejected a joint energy project with Brazil that would have provided his country with cheap coal energy because of his concern for the environment.

7. He has focusing on redistributing his nation's wealth, claiming that his administration has reduced poverty from 37 percent to 11 percent. "Businesses just want to increase their profits; it's up to the government to make sure they distribute enough of those profits so workers have the money to buy the goods they produce," he told businessmen at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. "It's no mystery -- the less poverty, the more commerce. The most important investment we can make is in human resources." His government's redistributive policies include setting prices for essential commodities such as milk and providing free computers and education for every child.

8. He has offered to take detainees cleared for release from Guantanamo. Mujica has called the detention center at Guantanamo Bay a "disgrace" and insisted that Uruguay take responsibility to help close the facility. The proposal is unpopular in Uruguay, but Mujica, who was a political prisoner for 14 years, said he is "doing this for humanity."

9. He is opposed to war and militarism. "The world spends $2 billion a minute on military spending," he exclaimed in horror to the students at American University. "I used to think there were just, noble wars, but I don't think that anymore," said the former armed guerrilla. "Now I think the only solution is negotiations. The worst negotiation is better than the best war, and the only way to insure peace is to cultivate tolerance."

10. He has an adorable three-legged dog, Manuela! Manuela lost a foot when Mujica accidentally ran over it with a tractor. Since then, Mujica and Manuela have been almost inseparable.

Mujica's influence goes far beyond that of the leader of a tiny country of only 3 million people. In a world hungry for alternatives, the innovations that he and his colleagues are championing have put Uruguay on the map as one of the world's most exciting experiments in creative, progressive governance.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Where is the Orthodox Church in the Ukraine crsis??!!

Posted: 4 May 2014

How can a church based on the Prince of Peace participate in this awful crisis in Ukraine?

Moscow and Kiev Orthodox prelates must make a stand to bring this insane behavior to a peaceful  resolution. If they fail to do so, they give evidence that they are not credible, let alone courageous, vassals of Jesus Christ.

To be continued....