by Tom Atlee Posted with the author’s permission. Our democracy is in crisis, in a world of emerging crises. Our democratic institutions are not adequate to address the crises we face. These crises are becoming more familiar with each passing day: social inequities and injustices environmental degradation and climate change technological dangers (including but not [...]
Monthly Archive for May, 2006
When I was a mere tad growing up in the 50s and 60s, I heard much about the evils of Communism and Totalitarianism and dark practices within the Soviet Union. A recurring theme: the evil Soviets were managing news and rewriting history books. It’s chilling to read the same about the U.S. government. [Link] Among [...]
Dr. Farooq Hassan*
(Synopsis of paper presented at the Eighth Annual Meeting of the Pakistan
Family Forum at Lahore on the International Family Day, 16th May, 2006)
I recently had the opportunity to briefly tour Doha, Qatar, to meet with the Managing Director of the newly established Doha International Institute for Family Studies & Development. He is Professor Richard Wilkins, my good friend from Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah where he had been the initiator of a similar program some years ago. The newly established Institute owes its doctrinal and visionary foundations to the ideas of Her Highness Sheikha Mozah bint Nasser Al-Missnad, Consort of His Highness the Emir of Qatar.
This institution is an independent center for higher learning and facilitating the disseminations of current laws and discussions on the study of the Family. Its genesis is the decision of Her Highness to follow up concretely on her announcement at the Conclusion of the last Session of the Doha International Family Conference of 30 November 2004. In that important meeting Her Highness had declared her intention to set up and create such an institution.
That such pious and timely aspirations have actually borne fruits so expeditiously, is a living tribute to her clear determination to create an intellectual atmosphere of understanding and propagating the fundamental human values in following the historical acceptance of family as basic tenet of civilizations in major human rights texts that emanated with the creation of the UN Charter, such as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The leading text of this nature is to be found in Article 16 (3) thereof which assets in categorical terms:
“The Family is the natural and fundamental group unit of society and is entitled to protection by the society and the State.”
I saw an excellent presentation on Ethanol by Vinod Khosla
Google video has it here.
Running time: 1:08:42
We can do what Brazil has done in less than 5 years — if we want to.
E85 plugin Hybrids, not hydrogen fuel cells, are our best future transportation choice.
Vinod’s slide deck is available on his web site.
For more on Grass Energy, please see: the Grass Energy Collaborative’s working paper.
Jock Gill and Robert Steele
If the Republican party can be said to have fragmented into 1] an evangelical extremist wing aligned for convenience with unregulated corporatism and neo-liberal capitalism, and 2] the rest of the more moderate Republican party that has lost all semblance of influence within its own party, the Democrats can be said to be even further fragmented, to the point of ineffective incoherence.
In control is the “last gasp” of the 20th Century wing of the Democratic party, where big money displaced labor and the grassroots, the caring church, and the intellectuals to craft the Democratic leadership as “Republican Lite,” equally corrupt, but more inept than their counter-parts. They stand for nothing other than incumbency and the power of money over ideas.
As insurgents emergent, we have the Netroots that were first noticed for their support Howard Dean. In 2003 and 2004, the Netroots wing experimented with “bonding” social capital and micro-cash campaign contributions, but were not able to organize themselves in time to stage a break-out and capture the flag. Although Dean is today the chairman of the Democratic National Committee, his loyalties appear to be split between the new Netroots and the traditional Democratic Grassroots. A house divided cannot stand. In addition, there is every expectation that he will be trumped by the bigger databases and larger bank accounts of the 20th Century wing of the party.
We the People decide our city budget – and other democratic innovations
A letter from Tom Atlee
When I last wrote about citizen participation activities in Porto Alegre, Brazil, their democratic budgeting practices had “only” spread to 70 cities in Brazil. Now 200 cities in Brazil are using annual participatory budgeting and it is spreading to dozens of other cities in Europe, Latin America, and Africa, as well. Do you think this profoundly democratic practice might someday reach the U.S.?
Brazil’s remarkable weaving of top-down and bottom-up participatory democracy into the field of budgeting serves to inspire all who work to invigorate democracy, whether we are public officials, political parties, civil society organizations, activist networks, or individual social change agents. One thing is certain: When we see The People competently controlling the government’s purse strings, we are seeing a different kind of democracy…
Participatory budgeting is one of an expanding family of innovative practices and creative ideas to make democracy more sensible, creative, participatory, and collectively intelligent. To pursue these innovations, however, requires that we shift some of our focus — and resources — from candidates and issues to THE SYSTEMS WE USE TO DECIDE about candidates and issues. Until those systems are healthy, we will continue to have grotesque distortions of democracy and a painful inability to make any real sustained progress on the issues most people are most concerned about and most affected by.
Informed, Engaged, Democracy
Collective Public Intelligence
If we want an extraordinary future for all of our children, America and Americans must embrace reality. While, as a society, we may have recently found it comfortable to ignore reality, reality is most assuredly going forward, with or without us. What we have allowed to happen from 2000 to date can only be described as a national break-down. We the People failed to do our duty, to pay attention, to stay informed, to remain actively engaged and to keep our government honest.
Today, both the Republican and the Democratic Parties are “running on empty”. They cannot be trusted to represent the Republic within the current “winner take all” system. In addition, their exhausted 20th century solutions that got us to where we are today cannot be expected to get us to where we need to be tomorrow.
After a great deal of reflection, I have come to the conclusion that we need a Citizens Party, not to compete with the Democratic or Republican, or the other 60 plus parties, but to bring all of us together on the one big issue that really matters: Electoral Reform. If we are successful, a Democratic or Republican Presidential candidate willing to field a Vice President from the counterpart party, and a Coalition Cabinet, could win in 2008.
I have three “big ideas” that I want to present for a “collective public intelligence” process.