DR Congo welcomes sanctions against rebels (via AFP)



Congo Cockatoo

Congo Cockatoo (Photo credit: AndyRobertsPhotos)


DR Congo welcomes sanctions against rebels (via AFP)


DR Congo welcomes sanctions against rebels (via AFP)

The Democratic Republic of Congo on Tuesday welcomed UN sanctions imposed on the M23 and FDLR, two rebel groups that Kinshasa and Kigali accuse one another of using as proxies in the country’s troubled east. “It’s a condemnation we expected… and it arrives at the right time because these groups threaten…


HSBC Sued By Atlanta-Area Counties Over Predatory Lending Claims


HSBC Sued By Atlanta-Area Counties Over Predatory Lending Claims.

ATLANTA — Three Atlanta-area counties have filed a lawsuit claiming that British bank HSBC cost them hundreds of millions of dollars in extra expenses and damage to their tax bases by aggressively signing minorities to housing loans that were likely to fail.

The Georgia counties’ failure or success with the relatively novel strategy could help determine whether other local governments try to hold big banks accountable for losses in tax revenue based on what they claim are discriminatory or predatory lending practices. Similar lawsuits resulted in settlements this year worth millions of dollars for communities in Maryland and Tennessee.

Dozens Wounded in China School Knife Attack: It’s Time to Ban Sharp Objects


Ban all tools and weapons?

Ban all tools and weapons?

Dozens Wounded in China School Knife Attack: It’s Time to Ban Sharp Objects
When gun control legislation is put into place, every gun in the civilization does not disappear; they are not thrown into some magical vortex where they will never be seen again.
Those guns aren’t destroyed, and they are certainly not “controlled”, they are simply moved. They are taken from millions of individuals and placed in the hands of one group.


Afterdeath: The Seventh Bell – Poverty v. Poorverty

Afterdeath is a learning experience in that it exposes our lives, past and present. Recovering from economic hardship releases a tell, that if we pay close attention, clues us in to what makes us do what we do best. Most people become so elated with overcoming a circumstance that how they got to that tragic place becomes arbitrary. One of the best explanations for economic and social hardship is Poorverty. Hearing the words poverty and poorverty may bring to mind similar circumstances. Poverty denotes lack and so does poorverty. Poverty, however, leans more toward the pocket, while poorvety envelopes the mind. One may remove their self from poverty mentally, physically, and economically but poorvety is forever. Poorvety may be learned from one growing up in an environment of poverty, neglect, savagery, or hatred. Either or all of these circumstances combined nurture anger in the human spirit. The difference between one dealing with lifelong poverty and lifelong poverty is that poorverty cancels out love in any form it comes to the individual or community.

Poorverty in men and women can explain their lack of commitment and excellence in relationships, employment, and organizations. Then again it can excel an individual to become aggressive in their quest for leadership and prominence. Poorverty plays an important part in industry where marketing can locate, denigrate, and then create a mindset of display for whatever product the manufacturer chooses to push. Disreputable ones in leadership may control a group by seeking out those in poorverty to place in positions of limited power, thereby creating an atmosphere where any inconsistency dispensing goods and services is less likely to become announced for fear of retribution. This is most apparent in low-income and minority communities where poverty and poorverty thrives best.

Have you seen the newest line of bags that will push you to the top of the community fashion trend? One would wonder how those in poverty have time to worry with fashion but like the Franklin D. Roosevelt’s use of the arts during the Great Depression, fashion is a great diversion for those in poorverty. No one in poorverty feels slighted or even poor in a pair of designer shoes. Depending on the system of poorvety, knock-offs do just as well. But if those in both poorvety and poverty spent an extra the extra change for a copy of Vogue, they would soon realize that their fashionista sense is a few years behind the elite styles. By the time fashions reach the poverty-line, top designers have long forgotten they existed. A Coach bag travels well in the poorest of neighborhoods. The question begs, which and how many Coach bags are really making it to the runway these days? In an environment of poorverty the Coach trumps a good, well-made bag any day; even if the electric company has to wait for their share of the household income. In the non-profit world of dispensing goods and services, the volunteer is king or queen as the gender may have it.

The 21st century of deprivation leaves less legitimate goods and services to go around and more charlatans in need of a good venue. There is also a greater population of needy than before in the most prominent of countries. The need may be financial or spiritual and in this depth of need there is a fortress constructed of politically minded individuals to offer assistance. One of these master manipulators proclaimed to his followers and staff, as he came under fire from an inquisitive individual, “If they do this to me then how do you think they will treat you.” He neither answered the inquirers questions, nor offered any sense to his actions other than to strike fear in those whose authority and prestige would suffer if he fell. By the time the leader left his position, the organization was bankrupt to the point where the office telephone and electricity was cut-off. He had the past of poorverty to shield his audacity.

In the Afterdeath, poorverty places value on the outer portrayal of the person. There is nothing genuine in the productivity. Everyone in range is under fire; a target for what they can afford to give or convey. The rush to regain the sense of self that was dependent on physical manifestations of social value becomes prominent and the sacrifice is anyone in the path of the train to success. This is the most important time to re-access priorities and count the cost of the soul in exchange for the moment. When things look their most prominent is the time to back away and take a look at the overall picture in the mirror. Whose advice are you following? How are they perceived? What is their record of sustainability? And most of all, how many car crashes are you willing to walk away from in the future?

Afterdeath: The Fifth Bell – Time Like These

Economic faults, climates gone crazy, obesity, smoking anything rolled in paper, tobacco, tobacco rolled in paper. We are falling apart. Piece by piece. In the midst of this bad news, we have holiday cheer, and folks resurrecting the argument of whether we should celebrate December 25th  with reverence denoting the birth of Christ; or is Santa Claus more appropriate in a free society? So much drama for new a century bent on becoming more educated, stronger, wiser, and healthier than the last.

There were two women arguing, at the cash register of a major department store, as to whether computers are making or breaking down human communication. In the midst of their conversation, one woman’s cellphone rang. She excused herself to answer the call. The other woman rolled her eyes and turned her back to the other. “See that’s what I’m talking about,” she exclaimed when she heard the other woman conclude her call. “We can’t finish a conversation without technology interrupting.”

“That was my father. My mother just passed away.”

“Well couldn’t it have waited until you got home?”

While we fall apart together, can we afford to still banter on about personal annoyances? The example above may be extreme to some, but when it comes to saving the world, it is doubtful. The claim of community in America falls short of its mark in the face of major inconsistencies. Free enterprise leaves little room for community when individuals seek out each other as fair game in the rush for property, purse, and enterprise. We want to slow our carbon foot print, yet on a personal level few want to make the sacrifices necessary to make this possible. To our detriment, we will buy Styrofoam cups because they are on sale, yet sign petitions for climate legislation. We refuse to read product labels for harmful chemical contents, yet complain when we stand on long lines at the emergency room. Our selfishness is our inconvenience.

During a time of Afterdeath, we have the moments available to rethink our past program. What has brought us to the point in life where we no longer live to enjoy our past labors? Where did we go wrong in our responsibility to our family, neighborhood, nation, and the world we live in? How will we as an individual, on a new journey, calculate our future worth, promise, and debt? If these questions are not asked, we leave ourselves open to the parasites ready to put us back into the game.   When I complained to a minister, a few months ago, about the failure of society to live up to its promise, she answered me thus, “Don’t hate the player.  Hate the game.” It surprised me. First because she was a minister, second because she was a mother of two young boys. Her answer is not personal but prophetic of what our society has taken to be normal. The dog eat dog.

The technological world is a prime example of the Afterdeath experience. Whatever we relish internally, we will find it on the internet. There are people who surf the web daily and pass over pornography advertisements when or if they appear. Still many demonize the internet and technology as a whole. It may be that they are fearful of newness in any form on a personal level. If the unknown is fearful to those in the Afterdeath, it must be the first thing to go. The fear is what will keep the individual stalled in the turnstile of social services; buried in a life of those seeking to devour someone – anyone.

Afterdeath: The Fourth Bell

The Beginning

I love him and then I didn’t. I loved it and now I hate it. I loved it, then I lost it. The switch happens at times without notice. Normally, we move from one mode of thinking to another. Some call it growth, others call it fickle. No matter which side of the path you walk there are always borders trying to keep you steady. Sigmund Freud and his theories busily boxed in your emotions, tendencies, social parameters, and answered the whats and whos of normalcy. If he were alive today would any of us be normal? So why not create your own normal. Throw out the mirror stage with the paradigms. Release yourself for one day. Dive into his perception of madness, just for a second. Dare to see someone else in that mirror and see what happens. Now do not go out and commit some heinous crime for giggles. This is an internal deconstruction. Keep it neat. Go back and rewrite the messages you were fed from birth. In other words, re-become self. I chose to exaggerate this methodology because it must be a complete, no holds barred washing. Embrace the Afterdeath experience.

Going through a trial shakes loose everything we know and love about ourselves. Standing on line at a food pantry for the first time puts one in a place outside of the self we knew already. Picture a construction worker, Mike, who has made a good living for 15 years. In his mind, this life will go on forever – he is still young at 33. There are 3 cars in his driveway; one family car, a brand new pick up, and his toy. He may also have a boat. Not yacht size, but still a sign of prosperity as neighbors pass his neatly kept home. He has three children; 10, 7, and 3. His wife, Ellen, has never worked since their marriage. Before that, she was a waitress in a corner restaurant.

Ellen watches the home shopping channels between clipping coupons and catching sales at the malls. Their home is a collage of Southern Living, Better Homes & Garden, House & Home, and Chicago Home & Garden magazines. Lunch with the girls is always at her home. It always concludes with a replication of the latest infomercial, along with product demonstration and price. The girls fawn, and one by one excuse themselves for another appointment.

 Mike falls from a 15 ft. ladder at work and is rushed to the hospital. His leg is fractured in three places. No matter, he has also severed his spinal cord on a metal shard poking out of the ground. Mike has minimal health insurance, which includes a $500 co-pay. There is no savings nor retirement plan deep enough to cover his rehabilitation or mortgage costs.  After two years, the couple is financially, mentally, and socially dead.

The couple has sells their home to pay for hospital and aftercare costs. Their lives in the small apartment on the other side of town, affords them little after rent and utilities. Ellen is forced to seek out the food pantries in her area. This is the beginning of her life in the Afterdeath.

Afterdeath: The Third Bell

To begin this conversation on the right note, let us recall the table of delights from our first chapter. Remember the waiter. He was ready and eager to grant your every wish when you first sat down to the meal.  Gradually, he became more distant. Slow to bring that extra napkin or carelessly dropping fresh silverware here and there. It’s his job to know when the hook is securely in place. And when to jam it deeper. The one thing to the carrier’s advantage is the advancement into self. This can also be the dangerous curve in the road where they will lose quite a few passengers.

We are conditioned to be polite, giving, cooperative, patient, accepting, etc… The waiters of this world depend on these qualities to shame the carrier into compliance. The waiter nurtures the fear of hunger, rejection, isolation, and abandonment. He can be the lonesome parent leaning heavily on her adult child, the ill-prepared educator trying to save face; or the faith-leader, counselor, or employer unable to keep pace with his competitors. The parent will never become satisfied no matter how much the adult child cares for him or her. The rest must convince the carrier, like the salesperson, that without them, the carrier will be destitute. They are the keepers of all that is binding to the self.

Suppose, for instance, the student ceases to become the carrier and actually asks the right questions, challenging the educator. Society is set up where, for the student, there is no reward, only condemnation. The student learns to absorb the nagging stomach, just to get the ‘A’ or ‘B.’ Now as an adult carrier, the store clerk sells them items they’ll never use, but are too embarrassed to turn down.  Likewise, an employer slights them on wages and promotions, because they will never complain. Family and friends will cheer them on for lasting 30 years with the same firm – as they watch others with less education and ability, reap the benefits of maneuvering the corporate arenas.

While taking a computer certification course in the late 1970’s, one instructor counseled the students to never stop looking for the ideal position. Global technology called for lateral movements between companies and corporations in order to rise. Technology did not only change the speed at which we did business, but the essence of the employer/employee relationship.  A systems engineer at one company could get twice his pay and loads of benefits at another company. Also, employees were now vested after 5 years, instead of 15 or 20 years, as decades before.

The average middle-aged or senior citizen was at a disadvantage re-entering the job market unless they had computer skills. Their labor was now disposable, since most of them were declining in health and ambition. The world began to run helter skelter to work, instead of the cog and wheel past. So if they appear to represent more of the carrier and keeper set, fear is all they have lived after the Great American Depression, two world wars, nuclear threats, drug wars, and loosing that lovely head of hair.  Radical as those times seemed, the present is even more radical with choices of lifestyles, employment, and social communities.

Afterdeath: The Second Bell

The Second Bell or “clearing the decks” is similar to washing and sanitizing a utensil before you reuse it. Washing is fine… it looks brilliant and shiny. On top of that gloss, however, lies bacteria and chemical traces inaccessible to the human eye. It must be boiled at a very high temperature. So it is with the carrier of fear. He or she must go through the fire to be cleansed in order to become useful to itself.

Ok… you gain the courage to leave the table of grinning faces and bounty. Now what? Memories of hunger come back. You want to turn around, take your seat, and re-engage the knife and fork to destruction. Yet you are not really depleted. Scared maybe, but only enveloping the fear of being hungry once again. This is the time of searching for the next meal; one of substance and stability.

Learning to defeat your fears is the most important lesson of the second bell. It took courage to leave the table. That courage is a sprint in the race. It pushes you ahead, yet only to dissipate as you walk through the doors of the café. Look around you. There are other venues filled with different sorts of meals to enjoy equally, yet more beneficial to the body. The carrier of fear must learn to push anxiety to the background. It must become a slow hum, decreasing at a rate of two decibels per minute. Simultaneously, the carrier must fill the void with visions of what their healthy environment or meal will look like, taste like, feel like as it passes their lips and engages the pit of their stomach. That vision must become all encompassing. I heard a story of George Washington, where he crossed the river with his troops, then ordered them to burn the ships. There is no retreat, no surrender in the quest to the perfect self-realization. The carrier must establish a vision of their perfect world; arm them self with resistance,  and turn a deaf ear to tunes out of sync with their music.

Everyone carries music. You hear it in their walk; hear it in their talk, or the wave of their hand. Listen for your own symphony first. Let the wholeness of it drive out fear. After you have your ideal piece in place, run, not walk, away from the sour notes of life – no matter how beautiful they sound on their own. They belong to another chorus and will only ruin yours. If you cannot distinguish off beats, you have not yet developed your symphony or are too filled with fear to hear it. To do this, you must become the rejecter, – not the rejected.