Monthly Archives: December 2007

Finding Some Real News

The mainstream media in the United States, being owned by a handful of corporations, have failed to do a proper job of reporting, particularly with regard to the issues of concern to the American people and the candidates for high office.

Fortunately, there are a number of alternative sources available on the web. One of them is The Real News Network, another is Asia Times, and still another is Al Jazeera. Anyone who wants to understand what’s really going on in the world would do well to consult these and other web-based sources. – t.h.g.

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Tom’s Year-end Report – 2007

The nomadic life has much to recommend it, but it can wear you down. By the day after Christmas I will have been back in the U.S. a full month. I hadn’t realized how tired and run-down I was from my travels until I got settled into my temporary home. Fortunately, my good friends, Sergio and Gaye Lub, graciously provided me a “landing pad” at their home in the East Bay where I was able rest and recuperate for a couple weeks, enjoying their company and the comfort of a quiet, peaceful, and beautiful place.

Staying there in the San Francisco bay area also afforded an opportunity for me to meet more great people and see some old friends. Sergio is without a doubt the world’s greatest networker and event organizer. Besides being an artist and successful entrepreneur, he is the founder of the Living Directory, a free social networking utility that is used by tens of thousands of people in dozens of organizations and groups around the world to build their “networks of trust.” You can check out the Living Directory at  http://www.livingdirectory.org/.

The evening  following my return we went to hear Frances Moore Lappé speak in Sonoma, then afterward a few of us accompanied her to the home of harpist, Georgia Kelly (http://www.georgiakelly.com/) for conversation and refreshments. That also provided occasion to hang out with the very funny and much admired Swami Beyondananda (Steve Bhaerman). In case you’re not aware of it, Frances Moore Lappé has been working for 30 years on politics of food issues. She achieved considerable fame with her book, Diet for a Small Planet. Her latest book is called Getting a Grip (see http://www.smallplanet.org/). Swami Beyondananda is a syndicated humorist. His website is at http://www.wakeuplaughing.com/

The day after that event, Sergio and I visited a mutual friend at Google headquarters in Mountain View where he has been working for the past couple years. As you might expect, the Google operation is quite impressive in a number of ways. First of all is the campus and buildings which are extensive, nicely landscaped, and well maintained. Many of the buildings have their roofs covered with solar cells that, we are told, generate about a third of the company’s electricity needs. Then there are the various employee “perks,” including free meals throughout the day at several gourmet level company dining rooms, gardens and cafes that are scattered around the campus. There are a number of plug-in hybrid cars that employees may borrow to run their errands, and for getting around the campus, employees can pick up one of the many light blue bicycles that can be  left at their destination. Added to all that are a swimming pool, several gymnasia and readily available massage.

For obvious reasons, we were not told much about the inner workings of the company or their current projects, but it seems that the various work teams have a lot of autonomy within an organizational structure that has very few layers of hierarchy. The subject of compensation was off-limits to our conversation.

The weather in the east bay for most of my stay was on the cool side, much like that I left behind in London, but that helped to put me in the Christmas spirit when on the weekend Sergio and I ventured out to buy a Christmas tree that I later helped Gaye to decorate.

I took a couple days to drive to Arizona, arriving in Tucson on Wednesday the 12th of December. I stayed with friends for a few days then moved into a house-sitting gig for a couple weeks while Bob and Frederika visit family in Europe. It’s been a pleasure to reconnect with many friends here in Tucson. The Holiday season has made it feel all the more welcoming — I went to three parties in the first three days, including the holiday dinner of the Sustainable Tucson core team, and there are more social events upcoming.

I’m pleased to see that Sustainable Tucson (http://www.sustainabletucson.org/) is growing and thriving, with many energetic new people on the core team. ST has so far managed to remain open to a diversity of views on what sustainability means and approaches to achieving it. That is the nature of a coalition, isn’t it? to be inclusive, promote dialog, and emphasize the things that are held in common.

I’ve finally gotten around over the past couple weeks to start posting my photo galleries on the web. They are on Picasaweb at http://picasaweb.google.com/tomazhg. My most recent photos in California and Arizona are there, including pictures of the ST core team holiday party and the Winterhaven Christmas walk. Many of my Asia pictures have also been posted, but more need to be added as time allows. Enjoy!

People have been asking what my plans are. At the moment, I’ve booked only a couple things over the coming weeks. In mid-January I’ll fly to South Carolina for a few days to visit my son, daughter-in-law, and grandkids, then a few days later will go to Oregon for a series of meetings and presentations. It is my intention to return to Asia sometime soon, but whether that will be within weeks or months is still not clear to me. As Castaneda’s Don Juan advises, “A warrior cannot plan, but a warrior must act as if he has a plan.”

My best wishes to all for a Happy Holiday Season, and may we hope that 2008 will bring lots of love and peace and joy into our world.

Tom

Don’t forget to watch my blogs for further news and information.

Beyond Money: http://beyondmoney.wordpress.com;
Tom’s News and Views: https://tomazgreco.wordpress.com

SF Chronicle Article Recognizes Investigative Reporter Greg Palast

Greg Palast is, in my opinion, one of the few contemporary journalists worth reading. He knows what the role of the Fourth Estate is supposed to be and he diligently fulfills it. Here in the following article he receives some well-deserved recognition from the mainstream press which is usually too timid to report the stories he so doggedly pursues. – t.h.g.

A Determined Voice Lost in the Wilderness

by Joe Garofoli, San Francisco Chronicle

Greg Palast may be the only journalist with a New York office who works, as he says, “in journalistic exile.” There, with a team of a half-dozen researchers largely supported by $50 donations from readers, Palast ferrets out documents and smoking-gun-toting insiders from Washington to Ecuador and uses them to gird his bitingly sardonic investigative essays that most American mainstream outlets won’t touch. … [more]

Informal Presidential Preference Poll

Here’s an opportunity to let the mainstream media and the world know that we’re not satisfied with the global oligarchy’s pre-selected presidential candidates.

Just go to http://www.independentprimary.com and let your voice be heard.

The Wisdom and Humor of Osho

Osho, formerly known as Rajneesh, was surely a controversial figure. He was widely regarded as a spiritual teacher, but more than that, he was a very funny man. Osho died in 1990, but you can see and hear some of his lectures at http://www.otoons.com/osho.html.

I’d suggest you start with the audio files at http://www.otoons.com/osho/lectures/osho_mp3_lectures.htm

Whether you think his teachings to be wise or not,  you’re sure to have a few laughs.

And while we’re on the subject, you may have heard of Swami Beyondananda, aka, Steve Bhaerman. Over the past several years, his columns have appeared in newspapers around the country, and he has been heard on the radio.

I had the pleasure of meeting him last week in Sonoma, California at a lecture by Frances Moore Lappe. Frances is well known her work over the past 25 or 30 years in the field of the politics of food. Her newest book is entitled, Getting a Grip.

Anyway, you’ll find some further humorous items at the website of Swami Beyondananda website.

Report from England – November 23, 2007

London’s grey, chill November drizzle can depress one’s spirits. But somehow the bustle of the city, the crowds surging into and out from the Tube, provides some comfort, perhaps as reassurance that life yet thrives beneath the pall.

Lodging at one of London’s five hostels (this one rated as the “five star”) I have the chance to mingle with other transients, many of them youngsters, and to experience a neighborhood that’s off the beaten tourist track. One evening, I wandered into a pub in the neighborhood of Bermondsey. I was the only patron, except for a white-bearded man and a pale, thin, fourtyish woman, both very drunk, who were seated together at a table opposite the bar. As usually happens in such situation, patrons will sooner or later get round to introductions. “‘ees from Airy-zona,” she kept repeating, as if it were a mantra that could conjure up some sort of escape from her drunken fog. “‘ee should marry me and take me to America,” she said to no one in particular, but uttered in the general direction of her drunken companion.

I, the whole time wearing my friendly foreigner smile, paid it little mind as I sipped my pint, glanced up at the telly, and chatted with the bartender. If she had been the least bit attractive, I might have made some attempt at conversation, but she wasn’t, so I didn’t. Anyway, conversation with drunks is something I’ve always found difficult.

Ten days into my stopover, the cold I caught the second day in England has just about cleared out. I suspect that the rapid changes in climate and diet that I’ve experienced over the course of my journeying may be the shocks that account for my frequent periods of illness. Fortunately, I’ve always managed to recover, and except for the typhoid episode, my impairment has not been severe. Still, I marvel at the seemingly endless issues of mucous that I cough up, spit out, and blow from my nose.

There are, of course occasional breaks in the English gloom. My arrival in England on November 12 was met with chilly winds under sunny skies, a sharp contrast to the heat of India that I had left just 12 hours before. After dropping my excess luggage at Hugo’s small midtown flat I made my way to Trafalgar Square where I joined the lunchtime crowd and tourists enjoying the warmth of the noontime sun. St. Martin in the Fields sits opposite one corner of the square. That was the prearranged meeting point with my friend Peter Etherden. Peter and I have known each other for more than 20 years and
that was our first meeting since 2003 when I visited him and his partner Connie on their sailboat in Rye harbor. That was the occasion of a memorable crossing of the English channel and a three day stay in Boulogne harbor where we lounged around and acquired enormous stocks of French red wine that we bought in five liter brown plastic jugs for something like five euros each. I doubt that bargain remains, and even if the euro price remains the same, it would cost sixty percent more in dollars at today’s exchange rate.

For the first three days of my visit, I enjoyed the hospitality of my old friend the Rev. John Papworth at his home in Wiltshire, a couple hours west of London. John is a unique phenomenon. Multitalented and accomplished in many areas, he is, at 85, still fit, sharp witted, and active. He fed me well with a bit of the remaining produce from his own garden and a nearby organic farm, cooked up the most delicious and wholesome of meals, provided me with eggs from his hens, whole grain bread baked in his own kitchen, Damson plum jam from his own trees, and entertained me with his remarkable recitations of Shakespeare’s plays and Samuel Johnson’s letters.

Upon my return to London, I’ve had occasion to meet up with various colleagues, correspondents, and supporters, many of whom have been working on the “money problem” in one way or another for years. There is a group called the Christian Coalition for Monetary Justice, that has been very active, and who have a regular weekly “Open Table on Monetary Justice” at the Friends (Quaker) House opposite the Euston Road underground station. I’ll be posting a few photos on my blog sometime soon.

Today I had to move from my lodgings at the Rotherhithe hostel in east London to another over near Earl’s Court. (The former had been pre-booked for the weekend, but the latter had one remaining bed). Earl’s Court is a livelier neighborhood with many cafes, restaurants, and pubs, but in either case, close proximity to the tube makes it easy to move quickly (usually) to any part of the city.

Tomorrow (Saturday), I’ll attend an all-day public meeting of the Global Justice Strategy Forum, entitled, What’s Wrong with the Global Justice Movement? I expect it will be a lively and productive gathering.

Sunday will be my last day in London. I’ll be moving over to a hotel that will give me easy access to Heathrow airport in preparation for my flight back to San Francisco on Monday. Fortunately, the $150 tariff will not further deplete my available cash because the booking has been arranged through Bartercard and will be paid from my Universal Currency (UC) account. UC is a private credit system that enables commercial trade exchanges (“barter” companies) to transact business with one another without using
conventional money. I am an exception in that I have a personal account. My credit balance came about when I accepted UC instead of cash for my honorarium that was paid when I delivered the keynote speech at the 2006 IRTA convention.

Bartercard, which started in Australia, has extensive operations in the UK. It is one of the largest (among many) cashless trading operations with franchisees in several countries around the world. While cashless exchange based on credit clearing remains mostly unknown, here is evidence of viable, highly developed structures that are being used today to mediate the exchange of significant amounts of valuable goods and services
internationally.

My next report will be written from America.

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