Martin Luther King Day

Today is Martin Luther King Day. Not only is it a good day to remember the man, his mission and his achievements, it’s a good day to observe and remember what happened to those influential activists who work for peace and equality, Gandhi, King, Kennedy, Lennon , to name the more famous. It’s also a good time to remember those who have supported and helped the peace killers.

In April, 1968, at the age of 39, Dr Martin Luther King Jr was assassinated in Memphis, Tennessee. The commonly held view of the assassination is that it was (another one) committed by a ‘lone gunman’. James Earl Ray, an escaped prisoner from the Missouri State Penitentiary was arrested at Heathrow Airport in Britain, extradited to the US and tried for the murder of Dr King. He pleaded guilty, the court found him guilty and sentenced him to life imprisonment.

090505_mlk_assassination

Martin Luther King, Jr on the balcony where he was assassinated (AP File)

What many people don’t know is that in 1998 there was a trial, King v. Jowers and Other Unnamed Coconspirators.

Loyd Jowers was the owner of the bar outside of which the assassin fired the fatal bullet. Racked with guilt, Jowers made a late life confession of his involvement in the MLK assassination. After hearing 70 witnesses testify over the course of one month, the 12-member jury took only one hour of deliberation to find the Memphis police and elements of the US government, among others, guilty of conspiracy in King’s assassination. The US Department of Justice (DOJ) results of the trial are available here. The case overview states “in King v. Jowers, a recent civil suit in a Tennessee state court, a jury returned a verdict finding that Jowers and unnamed others, including unspecified government agencies, participated in a conspiracy to assassinate Dr. King.”

Here’s a list of just some of the overwhelming evidence of government complicity introduced in this trial and validated in the jury’s guilty verdict:

  • Usual special body guards provided by the Memphis police were advised they “weren’t needed” on the day of the assassination.
  • Regular and constant police protection was removed from Dr. King an hour before the assassination.
  • Dr. King’s room was changed from a secure 1st-floor room to an exposed balcony room.
  • US 111th Military Intelligence Group were at Dr. King’s location during the assassination.
  • The 20th Special Forces Group had an eight-man sniper team at the assassination location on that day.
  • Memphis police ordered the bushes multiple witnesses reported as the source of shooting cut down shortly after the assassination.
  • Along with sanitizing a crime scene, police abandoned the standard investigative procedure of interviewing witnesses who lived by the scene of the shooting.
  • The rifle James Earl Ray delivered was not matched to the bullet that killed Dr. King, and was not sighted to accurately shoot.

“We have done what we can to reveal the truth, and we now urge you as members of the media, and we call upon elected officials, and other persons of influence to do what they can to share the revelation of this case to the widest possible audience.” — Coretta Scott King, King Family Press Conference

The reason many don’t know of the trial and the information that was revealed in it is because it was completely censored by the media. US corporate media did not cover the trial or interview the King family, and textbooks omit this information.

“Apart from the courtroom participants, only Memphis TV reporter Wendell Stacy and I attended from beginning to end this historic three-and-one-half week trial. Because of journalistic neglect, scarcely anyone else in this land of ours even knows what went on. After critical testimony was given in the trial’s second week before an almost empty gallery, Barbara Reis, U.S. correspondent for the Lisbon daily Publico who was there several days, turned to me and said, “Everything in the U.S. is the trial of the century. O.J. Simpson’s trial was the trial of the century. Clinton’s trial was the trial of the century. But this is the trial of the century, and who’s here?” – Journalist and author James Douglass ( http://ctka.net/pr500-king.html )

The King family believes the government’s motivation to assassinate Dr King was to prevent his imminent effort to camp in and occupy Washington, D.C. until the Vietnam War was ended and the war’s resources were redirected to end poverty and invest in US infrastructure.

Barry Zweiker summarizes the case in this six-minute video.

http://www.globalresearch.ca/us-government-guilty-of-martin-luther-kings-murder-the-corporate-media-covers-it-up/5376631

Innocence – A Christmas Poem

A seasonal verse reposted.

Innocence

 

 

 

Thinking Differently

The following is a story written by Alexander Calandra, professor emeritus of physical science in physics in Arts & Sciences at Washington University. In it he points out a very common error in which everyone easily gets trapped, blindly following what we are taught, which we accepted as correct. This tendency prevents us being constantly alert and applying critical thinking towards “normal” statements we receive as information.

This kind of mental indolence is very dangerous because it doesn’t reflect any criticism to what the person is told to believe. In its extreme manifestation it can reach points of inhuman behaviour, like the ones during tyrannical governments that unfortunately happened, and still happen, in our history.

“The Barometer Story”

Some time ago I received a call from a colleague who asked if I would be the referee on the grading of an examination question. He was about to give a student a zero for his answer to a physics question, while the student claimed he should receive a perfect score and would if the system were not set up against the student. The instructor and the student agreed to submit this to an impartial arbiter, and I was selected.

I went to my colleague’s office and read the examination question, “Show how it is possible to determine the height of a tall building with the aid of a barometer.”

The student had answered, “Take a barometer to the top of the building, attach a long rope to it, lower the barometer to the street and then bring it up, measuring the length of the rope. The length of the rope is the height of the building.”

I pointed out that the student really had a strong case for full credit since he had answered the question completely and correctly. On the other hand, if full credit was given, it could well contribute to a high grade for the student in his physics course. A high grade is supposed to certify competence in physics, but the answer did not confirm this. I suggested that the student have another try at answering the question. I was not surprised that my colleague agreed, but I was surprised that the student did.

I gave the student six minutes to answer the question with the warning that the answer should show some knowledge of physics. At the end of five minutes, he had not written anything. I asked if he wished to give up, but he said no. He had many answers to this problem; he was just thinking of the best one. I excused myself for interrupting him and asked him to please go on. In the next minute he dashed off his answer which read, “Take the barometer to the top of the building and lean over the edge of the roof. Drop that barometer, timing its fall with a stopwatch. Then using the formula S = 1/2at2, calculate the height of the building.”

At this point I asked my colleague if he would give up. He conceded, and I gave the student almost full credit.

In leaving my colleague’s office, I recalled that the student had said he had many other answers to the problem, so I asked him what they were. “Oh yes,” said the student. “There are a great many ways of getting the height of a tall building with a barometer. For example, you could take the barometer out on a sunny day and measure the height of the barometer and the length of its shadow, and the length of the shadow of the building and by the use of a simple proportion, determine the height of the building.”

“Fine,” I asked. “And the others?”

“Yes,” said the student.” There is a very basic measurement method that you will like. In this method you take the barometer and begin to walk up the stairs. As you climb the stairs, you mark off the length of the barometer along the wall. You then count the number of marks, and this will give you the height of the building in barometer units. A very direct method.”

“Of course, if you want a more sophisticated method, you can tie the barometer to the end of a string, swing it as a pendulum, and determine the value of ‘g’ at the street level and at the top of the building. From the difference of the two values of ‘g’ the height of the building can be calculated.”

Finally, he concluded, there are many other ways of solving the problem. “Probably the best,” he said, “is to take the barometer to the basement and knock on the superintendent’s door. When the superintendent answers, you speak to him as follows,

‘Mr. Superintendent, here I have a fine barometer. If you tell me the height of this building, I will give you this barometer.’”

At this point I asked the student if he really did know the conventional answer to this question. He admitted that he did, and said that he was fed up with high school and college instructors trying to teach him how to think, using the “scientific method”… [1]

 

Notes [1] Alexander Calandra. Current Science. XLIV, 14, 49.

How to Reverse Climate Change Before It’s Too Late

Projected posts on the subject of veganism and the hidden costs of the animal industries have been somewhat delayed. In the interim, this post from the excellent Meatonomic$ blog gives an overview of the environmental issues involved.

By Robert Goodland[1]

Climatic change is fearsome. The National Academy of Sciences published a study in 2013 explaining how 1,700 American cities – including New York, Boston, and Miami – will become locked into some amount of submersion from rising sea levels unless expensive new dykes and levees can hold back the rising waters. In fact, the International Energy Agency has warned that major action by 2017 may be the last real chance to reverse climate change before it’s too late.

rising-sea-levels

Elsewhere, the last chance for major action is said to be 2020. Even with that more generous timeframe, it’s too late to reverse climate change by replacing fossil fuel infrastructure with renewable energy infrastructure. That’s because doing so is estimated to require at least 20 years to implement at the necessary scale. Indeed, large-scale implementation of renewable energy infrastructure was the general basis for the Kyoto Protocol when it was drafted in 1990. But the Kyoto Protocol did not yield a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions as intended; to the contrary, global greenhouse gas emissions have risen shockingly by 61% from 1990 to 2013.

Gestation_crates_5Now, there seems to be only one remaining pragmatic way to reverse climate change before it’s too late – and that’s by taking quick and large-scale actions in food, agriculture, and forestry. When Jeff Anhang and I estimated in 2009 that at least 51% of human-induced greenhouse gas is attributable to livestock, we calculated that replacing 25% of today’s livestock products with better alternatives could almost fully achieve the objective of the Kyoto Protocol.

However, as greenhouse gas emissions and atmospheric carbon have continued to rise, now almost 50% of today’s livestock products must be replaced with better alternatives by 2017 – or by 2020 at the latest – in order to achieve the objective of the Kyoto Protocol and avert catastrophic climate change. No other pragmatic worldwide action to reverse climate change has been proposed by anyone.

One reason why worldwide action is needed is that climate change is one of a relatively small number of environmental issues that are transboundary. This means that greenhouse emissions and atmospheric carbon don’t respect borders – so a molecule of carbon dioxide emitted in China can affect someone anywhere in the United States just as much as it will affect someone in Beijing.

800px-countries_by_carbon_dioxide_emissions_world_map_deobfuscated
The transboundary nature of climate change means that everyone in the United States could go vegan with virtually no climatic benefit if the consumption of livestock products continues to increase in China and elsewhere. In other words, it’s as important to be concerned about what happens with food and climate change elsewhere as it is to be concerned about what happens with food and climate change in the United States.

In fact, the average global concentration of atmospheric carbon continues to increase after it recently rose above 400 parts per million, far above the safe level of 350 parts per million. The only known way to draw down atmospheric carbon on a large scale in a relatively short timeframe is by growing more trees, which is uniquely possible through our recommendations. That’s because replacing a substantial amount of today’s livestock products with better alternatives will free up a vast amount of land to permit large-scale reforestation and greenhouse gas sequestration – at the same time as it will massively reduce greenhouse gas emissions attributable to livestock production.

The dual benefits of reducing emissions and absorbing atmospheric carbon on a large scale at the same time are the key aspect of what makes our recommendations the only pragmatic way to reverse climate change before it’s too late.

0611_soy_foodsTo be clear about what we mean by “better alternatives” to livestock products: We mean everything from grain-based meats to soy milk, nut butters, as well as whole grains and legumes. This is because any food that comes directly from a plant rather than from livestock will generally be responsible for a much lower level of greenhouse gas emissions than are livestock products.

We recommend against framing what’s needed as less “meat” and less “milk,” in part because producers of vegan foods often use terms such as “grain-based meat” and “hemp milk.” Moreover, dictionaries define “meat” and “milk” as essential food products that include vegan versions. So we suggest that it is not the soundest of strategies to cede the terms “milk” and “meat” to livestock producers, and to press people to sacrifice those items. Indeed, the livestock industry perceives that consumers see milk as such an essential beverage that some livestock producers have filed lawsuits to prevent vegan food producers from using the term “milk.”

One of the reasons to focus attention on livestock and feed production is that such production is estimated to occupy 45% percent of all land on earth – that’s all land, both arable and non-arable, including ice caps and mountaintops. Most of the land used for livestock and feed production was once forested, and can be forested again. In fact, there is documented potential for agricultural change to bring atmospheric carbon to pre-industrial revolution levels within five years.

farm

To provide as much scientific information on this as possible, we’ve developed a website where we’ve posted updated versions of our assessment and links to many prominent citations of our work (and our site has attracted a lot of attention since its high-profile launch, which was reported on by Paul McCartney’s Meat Free Monday campaign).

533px-sheep_stodmarsh_6For decades, activists have urged that people reduce their consumption of livestock products in order to reduce environmental impacts in general, to be more compassionate to animals, and to improve human health – yet global consumption of animal-based foods has risen dramatically, instead of falling.

In contrast, emergencies normally motivate major action – and since major action to reverse climate change is said to be needed by 2017 or no later than 2020, activists may find it most compelling and effective to cite reversing climate change as the key goal for people to act upon. Indeed, there is surely no more compelling motivation to act than the knowledge that replacing livestock products with better alternatives may be the only pragmatic way to stop catastrophic climate change from imperiling much of life on earth.

[1] The late, renowned ecologist Robert Goodland served as Lead Environmental Adviser at the World Bank Group, after being hired as its first full-time professional ecologist. Among his many accomplishments, Dr. Goodland co-authored (with Jeff Anhang) the ground-breaking study finding that livestock is responsible for at least 51% of human-induced greenhouse gases. This article is excerpted and edited from the last public presentation made by Dr. Goodland (in September 2013).

Peace – Within Your Reach

One of the greatest problems faced by human society and something which allows the continual slaughter of innocents, and here I’m talking about people, is the ability and tendency humans have to live in denial, to turn away from what they know to be real and to live their lives as if it were not real and happening every day. Out of sight stays comfortably out of mind, and if ever brought to a person’s attention is usually glanced at, physically and mentally, and then quickly forgotten.

Thinkers throughout history to modern day have seen how this habit of turning away is created by people’s dietary programming and habits. From childhood most people are habituated into not only eating animal products, but also denying the exploitation and suffering involved in the practice.

We are the living graves of murdered beasts
Slaughtered to satisfy our appetites
We never pause to wonder at our feasts
If animals, like men, can possibly have rights
We pray on Sundays that we may have light
To guide our footsteps on the path we tread
We’re sick of war we do not want to fight
The thought of it now fills our hearts with dread
And yet we gorge ourselves upon the dead
Like carrion crows we live and feed on meat
Regardless of the suffering and pain
We cause by doing so. If thus we treat
Defenseless animals for sport or gain
How can we hope in this world to attain
the PEACE we say we are so anxious for
We pray for it o’er hecatombs of slain
To God, while outraging the moral law
Thus cruelty begets its offspring: war.

I don’t agree with some of George Bernard Shaw’s views, but he had a point in the poem above. But he isn’t the only one to see that what goes around comes around. Tolstoy made the observation that as long as there were slaughterhouses there would be battlefields.

As long as we tolerate violence of any sort, there will be violence of every sort. As long as humans regard it as normal to slaughter animals for food for which there is no justification other than the trivial pleasure we get from eating or using animals, they will regard it as normal to use violence when they think that something more important is at stake.

animal_rights_by_carlylynAnimal advocates oppose ‘speciesism’ for the same reasons that racism, sexism, and other forms of discrimination are opposed. Opposition to one logically implies a rejection of the other forms of discrimination.

If we want a nonviolent world, we must embrace nonviolence in our own lives. As Gandhi said, we must be the change we want to see in the world. Veganism is an important element of a nonviolent life as there can be no doubt that all animal foods and animal products are the result of violence. As a female character in Psyclone observes, ‘there are few things as obscene as the practice of repeatedly raping a captive female to keep her pregnant and lactating, stealing her newborn babies for slaughter or slavery, and using her breast milk’, [Ed…until she’s spent and then slaughtering her] But in its broadest sense, veganism is the cultivation of a society that renounces domination and systematic killing.

This is the core of animal-rights theory: the claim that all conscious beings, human or not, should be allowed to live on their own terms, not the terms set down by those who seek to control and exploit. That non-human animals are not only conscious but, in fact, share traits commonly held to be exclusively human is supported by an extensive and growing body of scientific research. The research demonstrates that all animals, not just human animals, are sentient. Sentience is the ability to feel, perceive, or experience subjectively. Currently a lot is known about animal sentience and animal emotions, more than most people are aware. Behavioral and neuroscientific research shows that animals’ lives aren’t all that private, hidden, or secret. For various reasons that information is taking a while to percolate through to general awareness,  leaving the old “privacy of mind” argument  as an excuse to maintain the status quo concerning our wanton abuse of other animals.

As an aside, there’s a parallel here with the knowledge that the Earth is round. This article from The Campaign for Philosophical Freedom explains how the round earth theory was actually proved by the Greek scientist Eratosthenes in the 3rd century BCE, and that information suppressed for for hundreds of years for sociopolitical reasons.

As well as far-reaching ethical considerations, there are also very practical aspects to the decision to cut out or reduce meat and dairy eating, as pointed out by Lord Stern of Brentford. In an interview with The Times the former chief economist of the World Bank and Professor of Economics at the London School of Economic said: “Meat is a wasteful use of water and creates a lot of greenhouse gases. It puts enormous pressure on the world’s resources. A vegetarian diet is better.” Lord Stern, the author of the influential 2006 Stern Review on the cost of tackling global warming, predicted that people’s attitudes would evolve until meat eating became unacceptable. “I think it’s important that people think about what they are doing and that includes what they are eating”

That his prediction that people’s attitudes would evolve is taking some time to be realised is a sign of how slowly we as a species do evolve. But evolve we must, individually and collectively, for there to be any hope of peace in the world.

And then there is the issue of the increasingly toxic content of farmed meat due to the cocktail of injected and fed pharmaceutical drugs, and the truly disgusting additions to the feedstock of many farmed animals.

Following posts will go into detail regarding the ethics, environmental economics, and health aspects of meat and dairy. For now I leave you with some of the points made in the No.1 best seller The World Peace Diet by Dr Will Tuttle (more on this book and Dr Tuttle next time):

Everywhere, though, the truth is popping up! It’s increasingly difficult to avoid hearing and seeing the obvious. Eating animal foods destroys the Earth. Drives global climate breakdown. Drives species extinction. Drives ocean depletion and forest devastation, drug addiction, disease, soil loss, water pollution, acidification, toxification, despair, and the mentality of exploitation and elitism and war.

Even if we are benumbed to the degree that we are not concerned about the suffering of animals, and we are only able to care about other humans, we soon realize that the human anguish caused by eating foods of animal origin requires us to choose a plant-based diet. Human starvation, the emotional devastation required to kill and confine animals, the pollution and waste of water, land, petroleum, and other vital resources, and the injustice and violence underlying our animal food production complex all compel us to abandon our acculturated eating habits. 

The ripples that radiate from our choices to eat foods from animal sources are incredibly far-reaching and complex. They extend deeply into our essential orientation and belief system, and into our relationships with each other and the created order. From every perspective we can possibly take, we discover that our culturally imposed eating habits are numbing, blinding, and confining us.

The violence on our plates reverberates through our bodies, our minds, our culture, and throughout our world. How can we or our elected representatives act wisely while the blood that is running through our veins and brains is polluted with hormone, drug, and pesticide residues, cholesterol, and the fear, panic, and psychotic depression lived by the animals we eat?

Compelling our children to eat animal foods gives birth to the “hurt people hurt people” syndrome. Hurt people hurt animals without compunction in daily food rituals. We will always be violent toward each other as long as we are violent toward animals – how could we not be? We carry the violence in our stomachs, in our blood, and in our consciousness. Covering it up and ignoring it doesn’t make it disappear. The more we pretend and hide it, the more, like a shadow, it clings to us and haunts us. The human cycle of violence is the ongoing projection of this shadow.

We are all beings of light and awareness and love, born into a culture of violence, ignorance, and exclusion. We take on its darkness and fear, and the core ritual used by our culture to effect this is our daily meals, where we are forced to participate in routine killing by eating and buying the flesh and secretions of imprisoned, terrified animals. Our path to freedom lies in freeing these animals; veganism is the spiritual and practical key to happiness and peace for all.

It seems that we humans are ripening spiritually, and I believe that there is nothing more important at this stage of our spiritual evolution than developing compassion for all living beings, and transforming our eating habits to reflect more compassion and awareness.

The spiritual and cultural revolution that calls us must begin with our food. Food is our primary connection with the earth and her mysteries, and with our culture. It is the foundation of economy and is the central inner spiritual metaphor of our lives.

When light shines, darkness simply disappears without a trace. No fight is required. Letting the light shine through, breathing deeply and fully, we partake of the infinite, moment after moment.

More to follow.

Peace