Archive for November, 2008
What a difference a year makes. Only last November, Iceland’s status as one of the most successful economies in the West was underlined when it was judged the best place to live in the world.
Iceland had ousted Norway from the head of the UN’s league table of 177 countries that compared per-capita income, education, health care and life expectancy – which, at 80.55 years for males, was third highest in the world.
This was only one in a string of glowing assessments of a country (population 313,000) which had pulled off a modern-day economic miracle. No wonder they are also said to be the happiest people on the planet. The inhabitants of this newly discovered Utopia, with its much-admired free health and education systems, bought the most books, owned most mobile telephones per head, and included the highest proportion of working women in the world.
The dramatic change in Iceland, from the poor relation of Europe to one of its wealthiest and apparently most successful, and now back again, dates from the mid-1990s with the privatisation of the banks and the founding of the country’s Stock Exchange.
Iceland had also presided over the fastest expansion of a banking system anywhere in the world. Little did anyone know that the expansion once so admired would go on to saddle the country with liabilities in excess of $100 billion – liabilities that now dwarf its gross domestic product of $14 billion.
Iceland overreached itself in spectacular fashion, and the party is coming to a messy end.
Since then the Icelandic stock exchange has dropped by more than 90%, and the Icelandic króna has declined more than 35 percent against the euro from January to September 2008. Inflation of prices in the economy was running at 14 percent. Iceland’s interest rates had been raised to 15.5 percent to deal with the high inflation,and the króna’s decline is reportedly only beaten by that of the Zimbabwean dollar.This depreciation in currency value put pressure on banks in Iceland, which were largely dependent on foreign debt.
Then in October, the three biggest banks, Kaupthing Bank hf, Landsbanki Island hf and Glitnir Bank hf have collapsed under the weight of about $61 billion in debts, 12 times the size of the economy, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Then the UK got cold feet over the money Iceland owed it.
So in the UK, the Landsbanki Freezing Order 2008, passed at 10 a.m. on 8 October 2008 to come into force ten minutes later, the UK Treasury went on to freeze the assets of Landsbanki and assets belonging to the Central Bank of Iceland, and the Government of Iceland relating to Landsbanki. The freezing order took advantage of provisions in sections 4 and 14 and Schedule 3 of the Anti-terrorism, Crime and Security Act 2001, and was made “because the Treasury believed that action to the detriment of the UK’s economy (or part of it) had been or was likely to be taken by certain persons who are the government of or resident of a country or territory outside the UK.”
Then UK Prime Minister, Gordon Brown, announced that the UK government would launch legal action against Iceland over concerns with compensation for the estimated 300,000 UK savers.
No longer smiling, office workers hurry home wondering out loud if they will have jobs to go to by the end of the week. Car showrooms are deserted. Estate agents are closing early. There are few takers for the thousands of unsold houses on their books. An unexpected cold spell is keeping many people inside their homes, another reason why the shops, many of which have discount sales, are quiet.
Iceland’s rugged, treeless terrain, a barren stretch of volcanic rock, geysers and moss, means the country imports most of its food, other than meat, fish and dairy products. So for weeks now Iceland’s largest supermarket chains has been unable to get any foreign currency to make purchases abroad and another retailer’s electronic payment didn’t go through. Iceland has begun to see shortages of “regular goods'”. Wholesalers are demanding that importers pay before any goods are shipped, said Knutur Signarsson, head of the Reykjavik-based Federation of Icelandic Trade.
Icelanders are paying more for the goods they do get. The cost of fruits and vegetables, nearly all of which are imported, have gone up about 50 percent in recent months, said Steinunn Kristinsdottir, a 33-year-old Reykjavik resident who was leaving the Bonus store with her cart full.
“This situation really has been a bit troubling for people,” she said. “They don’t know what’s going to happen.”
So all this has lead to growing protests in Reykjavik calling for the government and heads of the banks to resign over its handling of the economy. On Novemeber 23, a breakaway group of several hundred protesters gathered outside the city’s main police station, after a larger demonstration, to demand the release of a man jailed in a previous demonstration. Some in the group tried to storm the police building. The man they wanted to release was later freed, after a fine he owed over a previous demonstration was paid by an “anonymous benefactor”.
Perhaps the police realized they were outnumbered and couldn’t win. Resign already.
The Practice of Essential Phowa
First sit quietly and settle yourself, bringing all the energies of your mind and body back home. As far as possible, relax into the deep presence and spacious awareness of your being. Before you begin, arouse a strong compassionate aspiration such as that described in The Tibetan Book of the Dead: “By means of this death, I will adopt only the attitude of the enlightened state of mind, loving kindness, and compassion, and attain perfect enlightenment for the sake of all sentient beings who are as limitless as space.”
With all your heart, invoke in the sky before you the presence of a buddha or a Divine Being for whom you feel a devotion. See the form of this Presence, not as flesh and blood, but as radiant light. Recognize that this being’s qualities of perfect wisdom, boundless compassion, and limitless power to benefit beings are no different from the qualities of your own wisdom nature.
Consider this Divine Presence you have invoked is actually present–alive, breathing, and gazing toward you with kindness and love. If you cannot clearly visualize a buddha or Divine Being, then simply imagine that a brilliant and loving Presence, who is the embodiment of truth, is in the sky in front of you, in the form of light. Allow yourself to relax deeply and establish a personal connection with this Presence you have invoked.
Open yourself now, and acknowledge the aspects of your being that need purification, forgiveness, and blessing. Acknowledge any regrets, harm, negativity, or destructive emotions that you want to release and purify. Become aware of any places in your body where there is disease, weakness, or even a fear of illness. And recognize any doubts, fears, or old wounds in your heart that need healing and love. Then call out sincerely to the Divine Presence in front of you and ask for help.
Receiving the blessing
Immediately this buddha or Divine Presence responds, sending love and compassion from his or her heart in a stream of tremendous rays of light directly into your being. Allow these powerful rays to penetrate you and purify you–filling you with forgiveness, healing energy, confidence and unconditional love. Consider that these brilliant light rays of compassion and love dissolve all of your fears and defenses, so that you are totally immersed in light. To make yourself more receptive, you may want to recite a short prayer or mantra during this part of the practice.
Visualize that this profound blessing streaming towards you purifies and transforms every aspect of your body and mind–even your painful memories, part harm and regrets. Then, after some time, consider that the purification has been completely effected, so much so that your whole being–body and mind–is entirely transformed into light. Now your being in the form of light rises up and dissolves into the heart of this Divine Presence–completely mixing with it, like light mixing with light.
Remain in this peaceful state as long as you can. This non-dual, natural simplicity and inspired openness is your being. If thoughts rise, or a “sense of self” begins to form, simply allow them to dissolve back into emptiness. Letting go, naturally remain.
At the conclusion, consider that your awareness is once again centered within your body. Resolve to continue the presence of pure, clear awareness as you enter into daily activities. And when you notice that you have lost it, gently bring your mind home to its true nature, again and again.
Dedicate your practice
Dedicate your practice as you conclude, sharing the merit of blessings and wisdom with all beings, praying that, in whatever ways you can, you may be able to relieve their suffering, bring them happiness, and, ultimately, help them to realize the abiding peace of their deathless, true nature of mind.
In the jungles of Nepal under a tree sits Ram Bahadur Bamjan, the “buddha boy”. He has spent most of his time in the forest mediating since 2005, and many claim he has don so without food or water most of the time? This mysterious boy born in 1990, now 18, has tens of thousands of followers who flock to see him when he makes rare times for talking.
Recently, on November 12, Ram Bahadur Bamjan came out of the jungles of Ratanpur, 100 miles south of Katmandu, and thousands of people traveled long distance to see him. According to Kamal Tamang, a Buddhist priest, on November 18, 2008, Bamjan is expected to address his followers and then retreat back into the forest. His official site says; Nine days of prayer and blessings will be conducted by Guru Palden Dorje from November 10 – 18, 2008.
In 2006, Bomjan said “there is no peace here” and that he would finish his six years of meditation in roughly 2012.
On August 2, 2007 Bomjon addressed a large crowd in Hallori jungle in Bara district of southern Nepal. An excerpt of that speech:
Murder, violence, greed, anger and temptation have made the human world a desperate place. A terrible storm has descended upon the human world, and this is carrying the world towards destruction. There is only one way to save the world and that is through dharma (spiritual practice). When one doesn’t walk the righteous path of spiritual practice, this desperate world will surely be destroyed. Therefore, follow the path of spirituality and spread this message to your fellows. Never put obstacles, anger and disbelief in the way of my meditation’s mission. I am only showing you the way; you must seek it on your own. What I will be, what I will do, the coming days will reveal. Human salvation, the salvation of all living beings, and peace in the world are my goal and my path. “Namo Buddha sangaya, Namo Buddha sangaya, namo sangaya.”
today is the us election and no matter who wins we will still face the same problems tomorrow. a superclass ruling for its own benefit that is degrading the earth into an unlivable place. compact fluorescent won’t save us. so how shall we live our lives? what is outside the dominant culture?
Derrick Jensen is a writer and activist whose work Endgame questions the ability of our planet to ever be sustainable under capitalist civilization. Hopefully your too busy defending the earth to read the epic two volume work, so here is a collection of audio from talks he has given that outlines the argument.
“No matter who wins the election, it doesn’t matter. It’s not going to stop.” – August 22,2008, Gary Jackson, foundering member of Blackwater
Whoever wins the US elections will ‘face a crisis’ and ‘have to make some tough decisions’. and one thing is for certain; now more than ever we are becoming a global police state and mercenaries will profit.
review ‘the war and peace speech’ and watch War Made Easy.
War Made Easy reaches into the Orwellian memory hole to expose a 50-year pattern of government deception and media spin that has dragged the United States into one war after another from Vietnam to Iraq. Narrated by actor and activist Sean Penn, the film exhumes remarkable archival footage of official distortion and exaggeration from LBJ to George W. Bush, revealing in stunning detail how the American news media have uncritically disseminated the pro-war messages of successive presidential administrations.
What are the SPP and TILMA?