Wednesday, November 26, 2008

PERSONAL NEWS #155
October 16th through 20th – I took some vacation time from work to celebrate my 50th birthday, entertain my friend Michelle [visiting from Nevada] and enjoy a terrific birthday party at The Parlour on West 86th Street.

On Thursday I took care of errands, laundry, cleaners, groceries and my cleaning lady stopped by to go over the apartment. Michelle’s flight landed around 7:30pm and she took a shuttle bus into Manhattan from JFK. Before meeting her outside Port Authority, I stopped by the office to take care of a few items. Weather that evening had a slightly cool breeze, but overall still showing signs of an Indian summer. Around 9pm I hooked up with Michelle, gave her a big hug and we headed towards the subway. Last time she visited NYC was in June 2003 for the Pearl Jam gigs at MSG. Great seeing her again, looking well and then back at my place we just hung out chatting until midnight. She utilized the sofa bed in the living room for comfy sleeping arrangements.

Next day, Friday, I turned 50 at 10:14am! WooHoo! After breakfast, phone calls and getting dressed, we head out around 11am and took the subways into Manhattan. Weather was blue sky, sunny, and heading up to 70 degrees with a slight breeze. Perfect for touring around NYC! Michelle and I arrived at the Metropolitan Museum of Art [MMoA] just before noon time and the place was already hopping with visitors. This is my favorite museum in NYC and it is situated on 5th Avenue with Central Park nestled behind it. Paid one dollar each, took the MMoA button and headed to the elevator. Got off at the 5th floor, which is also the roof garden, and Michelle was delighted with the views of Central Park and NYC. [Some of the trees were displaying there glorious fall colors.] The Jeff Koon’s sculpture exhibit was still on display until October 24th. We admired the spectacular views and took lots of pictures.
Michelle with Balloon Doggie

Views of Central Park at MoMA

We took the elevator back down to tour around a few exhibits, one of which is the permanent Egyptian section. At this point we were both feeling abit hungry and head just outside to a vendor for warm, yummy pretzels and ice tea. Not exactly healthy, but gosh darn, they sure were tasty. Afterwards we strolled briefly into Central Park to view Cleopatra’s Needle, which is near the MMoA, and also a good spot to catch some rays from the sun. Before heading to the subway, we checked out the artisan street vendors and made a few purchases.
Autumn along Lex Avenue

On the subway we headed downtown to Greenwich Village and got off at Sheridan Square near Christopher Street. I took Michelle to McNulty’s, which has wonderfully fresh loose teas and coffees, plus all the gadgets that go with it. We strolled around several of the charming streets in Greenwich Village, checked out a shop or two, and even strolled through a lovely garden next to a church on Hudson Street.
Views of Greenwich Village

Headed back to the subway and got off at Times Square to do some shopping at Bead’s World. Both Michelle and I are very much into creating our own bead style jewelry. Michelle was overjoyed with the quantity and quality at Bead’s World on Broadway. From there we walked over to my office at EY to hang out for awhile. The views, even in the evening, are really quite impressive. We then headed back to northern Brooklyn and Michelle treated me to a tasty dinner at Thai Café. After a satisfying dinner, we strolled around my neighborhood abit, and I showed her some of the more attractive streets with charming homes. Upon entering my apartment building we found a parcel in the hallway for me. It was a birthday gift from my friends Nancie and Tim in Virginia. They sent me “petit fours” from Figi’s. The rest of the evening we sat in the living room drinking tea, nibbling on a few yummy “petit fours” and watching the telly.

Next morning, Saturday, October 18th, before walking over to the farmers market in the park, we stopped by the local bagel place for breakfast. Weather was much cooler today with 20 mph winds. At the farmers market I picked up some dairy and bread products. Back at the apartment we changed into warmer garments and strolled over the nail salon. After waiting awhile, and checking the clock, we realized there wasn’t enough time. Before we left the nail salon, I utilized Michelle’s cell phone to reserve car service to Manhattan. I specifically stated pick up time to be 1pm. From there we walked to “The Garden” to pick up the cake I had ordered a few days ago and encountered an obstacle. Well, maybe not an obstacle, but definitely an irritating hiccup in the proceedings. I handed my “paid” receipt to the bakery employee and was told I owe another $20 on the cake. What?!? Excuse me?!? Apparently the employee who took my order a few days before messed up or misunderstood my request. Also, upon viewing the chocolate/hazelnut cake, it looked hideous with large gobs of white, yellow and green icing flowers circled around the Happy Birthday segment. This would not do, not at all. In the display case was a perfect-looking chocolate mousse cake. I asked for that cake instead and they iced on Happy Birthday. Wasn’t in a good frame of mind when I left “The Garden” with Michelle and wondering what else could go wrong that day. Sigh!

Back at the apartment we had limited time to freshen up and change into our party clothes. Next thing we knew it was 12:45pm and the friggin car service was 15 minutes early. Ugh! We grab everything [ie: cake, basket for party favors, petit fours, coats, bags, etc] and dashed out the apartment. The ride into Manhattan was uneventful and we arrived at The Parlour [upper Westside Irish pub/restaurant] around 1:15pm. Upon entering the pub we encountered Paul, our “host” for the afternoon. He announced there were a few slight “changes” to original arrangements for the party and I started to feel abit panicky. Sensing my unease, Paul immediately clarified that arrangements had been upgraded to the more “private” room in the back and not the front room. He said that as long as my guests purchased food and drink, I would not be charged for space rental. Whew! Amen! The back room was large enough to accommodate 20+ people. After taking off our coats and freshening up in the bathroom; Michelle and I were introduced to our waitress, Caitlin. She took the cake, plus the petit fours, into a pantry off the party room, were it would be stored in a small refrigerator until 4pm. Cake time! I gave Paul the guest list to check off those who came to the party. At about 1:40pm Dee, my co-worker and party planner, showed up with balloons and party favors [ie: M&Ms]. Everything looked so pretty in the colors I choose of navy, baby blue, white and silver.

As we were setting up the balloons and party favors my first guest arrived … Judith. Great seeing her and we’ve been staying in touch via email over past 2 years. We met during Jessica Flagg’s 2006 congressional campaign near Riverdale. [We support and proudly voted for the Green Party.] As always, my nerves seem to get the better of me, which makes me abit hyper and added to that sipping white wine on a somewhat empty stomach. Mon dieu! Between 2pm and 3pm the majority of my friends [ie: Stephanie, Robert, Max, Mary, Anni, David, Larry and Kristina] arrived, some bearing cards or gifts, and I greeted them all with warm smiles and hugs. Everyone ordered beer, wine, or soda, along with appetizers or main entrees. As for me, I was busy chatting with my party guests, nibbled on a few potato fries and greeting others [ie: Eileen, Joe, Marie, Cielito, Thomas, Phoebe] that showed up after 3pm. Around this time Dee had to leave and head off to another event. I’ll see Dee Tuesday at work and show her the party pix that Michelle was taking with her digital camera. Everyone was having a good time and many conversations were on politics, travel, protests, health, work, etc.

Before Caitlin came out with the cake at 4pm, I gave a long rambling speech thanking everyone in making my 50th birthday very special and just talking about “things” in general. Many laughs throughout that segment [smiling] and then Caitlin brought out the chocolate mousse birthday cake with 6 to 7 candles on it. Wow! It looked so pretty and festive.
Cake!

Before blowing out the candles I said, should I make an impossible wish or a practical one. Everyone agreed I should make both wishes. Gazing towards the heavens or in this case the ceiling of The Parlour, I made my two wishes and then blew out the candles. Hell yeah, the lungs didn’t let me down and worked just fine.
Charlene Makes A Wish

Shortly after this two more friends [ie: Margaret & Linda] showed up to enjoy the party. Caitlin also brought out the Petit Fours for those who didn’t want a piece of the cake. The Parlour host, Paul, came in at that time and mentioned we could have the space until 6pm. Hurray! Shortly after I passed around slim slices of the yummy cake, a few of my guests [ie: Joe, Marie, Anni, David, Mary, Kristina, Thomas & Phoebe] had to leave for other events. Michelle took pix of me with my friends, as well as amusing candid pix throughout the party. Thank you so much Michelle, you are a gem! Close to 5pm I finally sat down to eat some cake and further socialize with my friends, plus regale them with some amusing stories [ie: hair brush incident of 2007]. We all enjoyed a good time and shared many laughs. Close to 6pm Caitlin took a few group pix of everyone wishing for universal peace.
We be for Peace!

Everyone paid their tabs, plus pooled together some donations and gave me a gift of $100. I was so very touched by their kindness and thoughtfulness. Then it was time to pack up all the gifts and cards, grab our coats, say goodbye, warm hugs and then head out towards our respective transportation.

Michelle and I grabbed the downtown #1 subway and switched at Times Square for the #7 and then onto the G subway. By this time I’m feeling abit tired and hungry. When we finally get back to my hood we decided to go straight to the Chinese Musician for a tasty meal. I had chicken, mixed veggies and some brown rice. I felt so much better after noshing on the meal and chatting about the party with Michelle. Before heading back to my apartment we stopped by a deli to pick up some dessert snacks to have with our tea. Back at my cozy apartment, while making tea, I put away the gifts and tacked up the cards, plus put the flowers from Anni/David in a pretty vase. Michelle takes a few more pix of the left over party favors and flowers. Then its time to relax in the living room, drink our tea, nibble on some goodies and watch a movie on PBS. By the time 11pm rolls around we are both yawning and ready for bed.

On Sunday, October 19th, after breakfasting at local bagel place, we head over to Eckard store around 11am. [Weather was abit windy and cool today, nothing like Friday.] While at Eckard we encounter issues with regards to getting Michelle’s digital pix to a CD, so we took our business down the avenue to RiteAid. They were able to help us quickly and we left there with pix from past two days on a CD. Hurray! Jumped on the subway and headed down to Brooklyn Heights for abit of a tour. Michelle really enjoyed strolling around those charming streets, gazing at brownstones, front step displays of Halloween pumpkins and the terrific views from the Promenade. Lower Manhattan is impressive with the Brooklyn Bridge, South Street seaport, Statue of Liberty, NYC harbor and Governors Island. Along Montague Street we stopped into the Connecticut Muffin shop to sample one of their tasty muffins. Montague Street has many nice shops and cafes. Back on the subway we took it a few stops to Wall Street area in Manhattan and walked up Wall Street towards Trinity Church.

At this point we were trying to find a branch of Michelle’s bank, so she could get funds out of the ATM. There was road construction going on and we had to take the long way around. And still we couldn’t get near the bank or ATM, and so we got on an uptown train at Bowling Green. Got off at Grand Central Station and purchased liquid refreshment at Oren’s near entrance to 4, 5, 6, 7 subway(s). Michelle had coffee and I had a tasty vanilla milkshake. Dang that was so good! Along Park Avenue we tried to find her bank and ATM. No luck, so had to settle for one near 101 Park Avenue. In that area are shuttle buses that take passengers to the NYC airports. Michelle’s flight leaves NYC next day and she purchased her bus ticket in advance. From there we walked over to 6th Avenue to check out several terrific bead shops and made some purchases. Michelle was amazed at the abundance of bead selection at these shops. I picked up another case [1/2 price] for sorting some of my beading tools and items at home. From there we strolled over to Times Square, took some pix, checked out a NYC souvenir shop and then ended up at the awesome M&M store on Broadway at 48th Street.

By this time the afternoon is shot and we hop on the M104 bus to the upper Westside. Check out a few restaurants and decide to have dinner at Ollie’s at 1991 Broadway. Dang that place is busy and the food was okay. Afterwards we both agreed to head back to my hood and get a drink at the Black Rabbit. We arrived around 8pm and the place is actually busy for a Sunday night. WTF! After ordering our drinks we learned that every Sunday evening is Bingo night at the Black Rabbit. So we stayed on, had a blast playing Bingo, nibbled on peanuts and had a second drink before heading home around 10am. Michelle actually won one of the games and received a small prize, plus two shots of some kind of liquor. No, not a fuzzy navel, but something similar. Back at the apartment Michelle packed her items, as we had to be up early next morning to head into Manhattan to catch her airport shuttle bus. In the city the next day Michelle caught the 9:15am shuttle to the airport and I headed home to Brooklyn. Overall I had a great time hanging out with Michelle and my birthday weekend was terrific. Be peace……..

AND NOW FOR SOMETHING COMPLETELY DIFFERENT – Progressive News

10 Tips for a Sustainable Thanksgiving
Sarah Newman, Takepart
Advice for a healthier, humane, sustainable, “low carb(on)” and labor friendly Thanksgiving from some fantastic organizations.
http://www.alternet.org/environment/108637/

Cabinet Full of Corporate Honchos, Lawyers and Shills
Ronald Hardy, Green Party Watch
http://www.greenpartywatch.org/2008/11/20/cabinet-full-of-corporate-honchos-lawyers-and-shills/#comments

Will Nuclear Disarmament Be on Obama's Agenda?
http://www.commondreams.org/headline/2008/11/25

Governors, Activists, and Health Advocates Fume Over Bush's Last Minute Air Pollution Rule
http://www.commondreams.org/headline/2008/11/25-1

[Duchess Note: Many thanks to Linda in TX for sharing some of the above articles]

Monday, November 24, 2008

Progressive Complaints about Obama's Appointments
Glenn Greenwald, Salon
http://www.salon.com/opinion/greenwald/2008/11/23/obama/print.html
The new President's positioning in the center-right of the Democratic Party isn't surprising. It's what he repeatedly made clear he intended to do.

Friday, November 21, 2008

PROGRESSIVE NEWS OF THE WEEK

Cheney Indicted, So Impeach Bush, Mr Conyers
Ralph Lopez, OpEdNews.com
http://www.opednews.com/articles/Cheney-Indicted-So-Impeac-by-Ralph-Lopez-081119-772.html

Third-Party Blind Spot
John Kirch, Baltimore Sun
http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/opinion/oped/bal-op.thirdparties20nov20,0,6987411.story
Democracy suffers when the news media ignore long-shot candidates and the ideas they espouse.

Congress Opposes Bush Pardons
David Swanson, OpEdNews.com
http://www.opednews.com/articles/Congress-Opposes-Bush-Pard-by-David-Swanson-081121-877.html

Green Party Candidate for VP Visits Campus
Tim McKee, Editorial
http://clubs.ccsu.edu/recorder/editorial/editorial_item.asp?NewsID=614

Naomi Klein: The Boarderline Illegal Deals Behind the $700 Billion Bailout
Amy Goodman, Democracy Now
http://www.alternet.org/workplace/107458/

This Is Change? 20 Hawks, Clintonites and Neocons to Watch for in Obama’s White House
Jreemy Scahill, AlterNet
http://www.alternet.org/waroniraq/107666/

[Duchess Note: Many thanks to Linda in TX for sharing many of the above articles.]

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

THE LATEST IN PROGRESSIVE NEWS

McKinney: Organize, Mobilize, Agitate
John Kirch, DC Politics Examiner
http://www.examiner.com/x-928-DC-Politics-Examiner~y2008m11d13-McKinney-Organize-mobilize-agitate

30-Second You Tube Cynthia McKinney challenges Obama and McCain on the Issues
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cuAi3lpgsaA&feature=related

Cynthia McKinney - on building the Green Party, Ralph Nader and the Debates
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fYPDXsAj_Xo&feature=related

Today and Tomorrow
Martin Murie, Swans Commentary
http://www.swans.com/library/art14/murie59.html

Kucinich Stands by His Liberal Agenda and Calls on Barack Obama for Change
Allison Kugel, PR.com
http://www.pr.com/article/1112

Discovering Kucinich: The House Bailout Hearing
Dan D commentary at Gather
http://www.gather.com/viewArticle.jsp?articleId=281474977508743

[Duchess Note – Many thanks to Linda in TX for sharing these terrific, informative articles.]

Monday, November 17, 2008

Charlene Barker's Facebook profile

Thursday, November 13, 2008

LATEST NEWS ON DC DEMOCRATS

Jonathan Turley Fears Dems Will Let Alleged ‘Bush Crimes’ Stay Buried Forever
David Edwards & Muriel Kane, AfterDowningStreet.org
http://www.afterdowningstreet.org/node/37621

The Empire’s New Clothes
Paul Street, Black Agenda Report
http://www.blackagendareport.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=879&Itemid=1
But, as The New York Times' editors certainly know, "they" still "put in who they want to put in" to no small extent. The predominantly white U.S. business and political establishment still makes sure that nobody who questions dominant domestic and imperial hierarchies and doctrines can make a serious ("viable") run for higher office - the presidency, above all. It does this by denying adequate campaign funding (absolutely essential to success in an age of super-expensive, media-driven campaigns) and favorable media treatment (without which a successful campaign is unimaginable at the current stage of corporate media consolidation and power) to candidates who step beyond the narrow boundaries of elite opinion. Thanks to these critical electoral filters and to the legally mandated U.S. winner-take-all "two party" system, a candidate who even remotely questions corporate and imperial power is not permitted to make a strong bid for the presidency. Barack Obama is no exception to the rule. Anyone who thinks he could have risen to power without prior and ongoing ruling class approval is living in a dream world.

[Duchess Note: Many thanks to Carol in sharing the above articles.]

Wonderful News & Announcement from The Peace Alliance
Join us for the 5th annual Department of Peace Campaign 2009 National Conference - Peace Within Reach: People and Politics Partnering for our Common Security - March 20-23, 2009 at Hyatt Crystal City in Arlington, VA

What some of the February 2007 4th annual Peace Conference Attendees said:

“A most EMPOWERING experience! This is what it means to be a US citizen!”

“Invigorating, empowering, practical, fabulous. It’s an incredible feeling to show up and take responsibility as a citizen.”

[Duchess Note: I attended the 3rd and 4th Peace Conferences in Wash DC. It was incredibly exciting to be with so many other like-minded citizens of the US on the topic of peace. Met some terrific people from all over the US and took away amazing tools to further the DoP campaign. If you want a DoP in our lifetime, as well as peace around the world, please join me and others at this awesome event. Check out the website at www.ThePeaceAlliance.org ]

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

NYDoP Inwood Retreat 2008
[Photo: Board members at the successful, fun, inspiring and informative "New Yorkers for a Dept of Peace" Inwood Retreat with Robert our fascilitator.]

Monday, November 10, 2008

LATEST IN PROGRESSIVE NEWS

It Is Not They Who Are The Real Problem
Kellia Ramares Commentary, FogCityJournal.com
http://www.fogcityjournal.com/wordpress/2008/11/08/it-is-not-they-who-are-the-real-problem/

Can We Talk About the Real Obama Now?
Sam Smith, Undernews, Progressive Review
http://prorev.com/2008/11/can-we-talk-about-real-obama-now.html

[Duchess Note: Many thanks to Carol and Linda for their contributions to fascinating and enlightening articles on current topics.]

Friday, November 07, 2008

LIVE FROM NYC – IT’S THE NEWS

Is Obama Screwing His Base with Rahm Emanuel Selection?
Stephen Zunes, AlterNet
http://www.alternet.org/audits/106189/
Obama has asked conservative Clinton vet Rahm Emanuel to be his “chief of staff”, its not a good sign for progressives … It is unclear how serious of a blow Obama's selection of Emanuel is to those who hoped that Obama might actually steer the country in a more progressive direction. It's easy to see it as nothing less than a slap in the face of the progressive anti-war elements of the party to whom Obama owes his election, particularly following his selection of Sen. Joe Biden as vice president.

How Rahm Emanuel Has Rigged a Pro-War Congress
John Walsh, CounterPunch
http://www.counterpunch.org/walsh10142006.html

Legal Challenges Filed Against Prop 8
Joe Shaulis, Jurist Legal News & Research
http://www.alternet.org/blogs/peek/106191/

Wall Street Fat Cats Are Trying to Pocket Billions in Bailout Cash
Nomi Prins, AlterNet
http://www.alternet.org/workplace/106195/
They got us into this mess, and now they want to cash out, will President Obama stop them?

THANKFUL THAT WE HAVE SOMEONE LIKE CYNTHIA McKINNEY WHO RAN FOR PRESIDENT WITH THE GREEN PARTY & SHOWED US WHAT REAL, PROGRESSIVE CHANGE CAN LOOK LIKE

Yes, I am thankful for Cynthia’s presence and persistence in the 2008 election process. She brought up issues, like Kucinich did during the Democrat Primaries, that normally were ignored and stood through the onslaught of ignorance. Her campaign has planted fruitful seeds that will grow for many generations to come. Also, thank you for helping to expose the truths about 9/11. Please continue campaigning for truth, justice and support for a US Dept of Peace [HR808]. We need more people like you and Kucinich in our government. Always there for the American people … no matter what.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

A Strategy for the U.S. Department of Peace to Enhance Our National Security - Transformation to Create a Culture of Peace

By Howard Rosenberg, The Peace Alliance
May 2006

The overarching strategy aims to enhance global and domestic security by building and nurturing strong civil society, thereby establishing an environment of healthy and vibrant communities where human needs can be met as the rule rather than the exception. To accomplish this, we aim to create a "Network of Capability" that links human and community needs to organizations that can contribute to the strengthening of civil society. The focus will be on building the connections among the broad spectrum of organizations that have peacebuilding as a common intention… and as we strengthen civil society, we will simultaneously enhance our national and global security.

Within this strategy, the role of The Peace Alliance/DOP will be the "systems architect" and facilitator to establish a self-organizing network of capabilities (nonviolent conflict resolution, micro-finance, business, environmental stewardship, truth and justice, women and children's rights, healthcare rights, etc.) focused on peacebuilding by strengthening the capacity for civil society throughout the world. The idea is that, while virtually all the "raw" capabilities exist to do this, the management challenge is how do we orchestrate various organizations (NGOs, businesses, educational institutions, government agencies, military, police, healthcare, etc.) to holistically come together, share a common vision, work as a team, and build the capacity for a strong and vibrant civil society, while respecting diverse cultural perspectives.

An intended consequence for this strategy will be that the networks we help create will become part of the very infrastructure for a global culture of peace. The process will be designed to help fulfill Gandhi's profound wish for humanity to "become the change you wish to see in the world".

Instead of our political leadership asking, in our quest for national security, "How can we arm ourselves and defeat our adversaries… like we did during the Cold War?" we now have the opportunity to ask ourselves: "How can we collaborate with the global community to create, by intentional design, a world where humanity thrives" The answers to these two questions may very well be the difference between a fearful society in decline and a hopeful energetic society that can help lead this world out of darkness.

The Peace Alliance can start playing this role now; we are well positioned to do this and we are earning the reputation of being non-partisan, inclusive, and focused on convening all parties who are interested in peacebuilding in its broadest context. We can be a shining beacon of how humanity can work peacefully and constructively together to create a culture of peace; we will strive for what we want, not what we are against. Our means become our desired ends.

A Historical Perspective: The Context

As we look at the events since the end of the Cold War, from the Soviet Union's demise some 16 years ago, we now realize that the very nature of how we establish national security – the very meaning of national security – has changed. But how? The military deterrence and proxy-war approach that contained the Soviet Union since the end of World War II is clearly no longer appropriate. To understand this, let's look at the major post-Cold War crises that have confronted our nation: 9/11 and our military entanglements with failed societies (Somalia, Haiti, Bosnia, Afghanistan, and Iraq). We have been surprised and somewhat terrified by each of these events, yet we continue to sacrifice the lives of our soldiers while spending huge sums of money without resolving, or even acknowledging, the root causes and the systemic nature of these events.

Our Challenge and Opportunity

To achieve effective national security, we need to reverse the proliferation of failing and failed societies, the known breeding ground for terrorism, crime, pandemics and human desperation. Vibrant and healthy societies provide opportunities for people to fulfill their human needs, the bedrock of peace. We can't afford a national security approach where we continually react with force to the fallout from failed societies. This is like ignoring an unsanitary kitchen while continuing to pay the exorbitant costs and lost productivity associated with chronic food poisoning and disease. Yet this is what we do when we fail to focus on remediating failing and failed societies.

A powerful example: instead of spending $5 billion - $10 billion to rebuild Afghanistan after their devastating war with the Soviet Union, which would have precluded al Qaeda from establishing a stable operating base, we have now spent in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan over $350 billion and suffered over 23,000 killed and wounded as we struggle to deal with the aftermath of 9/11, not to mention the costs in lives and property of 9/11 itself. Add to that the costs associated with Homeland Security and the challenge of the Patriot Act to the integrity of U.S. Constitution, the very bedrock of our country.

Failed societies incubate the pre-conditions that statistically predict war: high child mortality rates, lack of access to markets, and citizens not having a voice in their government. We have learned from North Korea that failed societies do not contribute to or benefit from the global economy. Instead of creating wealth, they destroy wealth, and ultimately become a threat to our security and a drain on the global economy, including ours. Simply put, failed societies can't buy our products or feed their people, but they can destabilize economies and governments, consume our military resources, and overburden relief organizations.

The solution lies in refocusing our will to unite our national and world community on building the capacity in failed and failing societies to nurture and sustain robust civil societies by supporting the institutions of democratic government, economic opportunity, protection of minorities, and the rule of law. The Department of Peace can provide a pivotal role of bringing proven nonviolent conflict resolution approaches to bear on peacefully resolving the inevitable conflicts that arise when creating any change that affects communities of human beings.

It is tragic to witness the human loss in Iraq, as nonviolent conflict resolution techniques have not played a formative role in our "figure it out as we go" strategy for helping the Sunnis and Shiites resolve the highly predictable conflict of how political power is distributed in a new government. The DOP would place capabilities such as this in our Government's toolbox.

The Vision

What is required for effective national security is nothing less than for the U.S. cooperate with others in the international community, over a 25- to 50-year period, to wage peace at an unprecedented scale with the intention to build the capacity and institutions that support healthy civil society. This multi-lateral effort will be designed to include working coalitions of government, NGOs, and businesses to create security across the globe, region by region, in partnership with local communities in the region. When we focus on creating strong civil society, we create a positive feedback loop that leads to stability, providing a firm foundation for economic prosperity, public health, environmental quality, which when all combined, can create real and lasting security.

However, to successfully apply this know-how to create positive change, the political, social, and economic programs and policies must be coordinated. What is needed is to bring the know-how, especially from those who have direct on-the-ground experience, together to address the systemic nature of building civil society. The program could be a series of cross-disciplinary initiatives that address the economic, political, and social challenges.

The logic is clear: a country with a viable, dynamic, creative civil society has the real potential for economic, social, and environmental well being, the very attributes that will enhance our own national security. A country without a viable civil society cannot succeed and will ultimately fail and become a burden to the global community. As we foster civil societies that work, we unleash the power of the human spirit to raise society above a culture of desperation and dependency toward a culture of peace and prosperity.

Gaining an Attractive Return on Global Engagement

Building and nurturing civil society's calls for a basic change in the way we currently engage struggling societies. Currently, we only devote less than one percent of our GNP to foreign aid. The aid we do provide is predominantly allocated directly to American consultants, corporations, and weapons procurement, with very little left over for building capacity for civil society. Studies have shown that there has never been a famine in a functioning democracy.
Furthermore, capacity building for civil society requires a systematic coordination of our foreign aid and trade policies across the board if efforts in one area are not to be compromised by contradictory policies in others. For example, we can now see that our Government's policy of subsidizing our agricultural businesses can be quite harmful to our national security. At risk societies often depend on local agriculture to support their economy while keeping rural farmers from flooding their overpopulated cities. By subsidizing the agricultural products we export, we effectively kill markets for indigenous farmers, thereby destroying their local economy and forcing them and their families off the land into poverty and desperation. Alternatively, other indigenous farmers resort to growing the profitable raw material for illicit drugs, poppies and cocoa for heroin and cocaine. This phenomenon has greatly destabilized Colombia, as we pursue our war on drugs on the backs of Colombian farmers.

Against this backdrop of capacity building, we can readily justify significant investments in building civil societies. These investments can provide the critical mass resources necessary to achieve these promising outcomes. As a benchmark, consider that we have spent over six trillion dollars on military capacity since the end of the Cold War and by key measures (e.g. nuclear weapons proliferation) we now have significantly less security. By asking different questions, we can achieve more security with less money.

We have the Capability to Launch and Facilitate this Global Effort

We can do this. Our country has done something quite similar before, albeit smaller in scale. After World War II, under the leadership of General Douglas MacArthur, the United States helped the Japanese build capacity to transition Japan from a ruthless militaristic society to a prosperous and peaceful society that has never initiated war again. General George Marshall did the same for war-torn Germany.

The United States military represents a highly capable asset that has the scale, sophistication, and technology to manage the logistics for such a challenge. We need a change in focus and the political will to get it done. The proposed Department of Peace can deploy a broad-based, systematic approach to apply proven techniques for creating the conditions of lasting peace.

Let's apply the painful lessons of our post-Cold War experience to resolving the root causes and not have to pay the price of being unprepared, a price we can no longer afford; our national debt has sailed well past eight trillion dollars, increasing at a rate of $2.4 billion dollars per day. This indebtedness will most likely accelerate until we start making investments in prevention, investments that can yield a positive rate of return.

[Duchess Note: Howard Rosenberg is a proud member of NYDoP ( www.nyc-dop.com ) and firm supporter of US Dept of Peace, HR808 ( www.ThePeaceAlliance.org ).

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

The Leader Who Always Gets It Right
by Natasha, http://www.opednews.com/
http://www.opednews.com/articles/1/THE-LEADER-WHO-ALWAYS-GETS-by-Natasha-081103-658.html
The measure of a person's greatness and success lies not in the office to which that person is elected but in the person's ability to be true to the electorate once in office. Anyone can sell their soul to buy a presidency or a dictatorship. It takes real power and courage to stand up to the forces that control most members of government. It takes true greatness to stand with the people against power-buyers.

[Duchess Note: Many thanks Linda (TX) in sharing this wonderful article on Congressman Kucinich. Hurray for Dennis and the Dept of Peace!]

Monday, November 03, 2008

JUST SOME THOUGHTS ON VOTING AND TOMORROWS ELECTION
I am placing my precious vote for the candidate that I feel "best" represents what I want in a presidential candidate. And that candidate is Cynthia McKinney. I have every right to utilize my vote in the way I want. To say that voting for her is a vote for another candidate is totally messed up. To say that I should not vote for what I believe in is un-American. Because we ALL have the right to vote for whom WE want to. You vote for whom you want, and I’ll vote for who I want. [Some friends, co-workers and acquaintances have tried to nag me into voting for someone who does NOT represent me, but doing so would make a farce out of voting.] To be so disrespectful as to say that I should throw away my own views, my own feelings, my own values just to get Obama into office when I do NOT feel confident nor have faith in him, I would feel absolutely disgusted with myself.

If Cynthia McKinney receives 5% of the official vote, the Green Party gets a lot of money to organize. The key is to get out and vote! We need to get others to do the same! We need millions and millions of hard working Americans out there voting tomorrow! If there is no change or little change over the next 4 years, we got to make it happen in 2012. We need to smash the two party duo-poly that along with the corporate elites and ultra rich controls our country! Let's make OUR OWN REAL change! We The People can do it!