Barack Obama is the President We Need, in Challenging Times

Café Sentido’s first official editorial endorsement of a candidate for public office

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Renewal is the keyword for this election. Change is the bridge that will take us to the place of renewal, but the intent behind the change message, must be renewal. It is vital to examine the candidates’ proposals for the direction of our nation, in this light. Who can best harness what is best in the American system of laws and in the landscape of American values, to effect an historic renewal of faith in our institutions and of commitment to civic responsibility and prosperity and dynamism in our society, generally?

Barack Obama, the senator from Illinois, is the candidate that is best positioned to offer this solution to our nation, in these troubled and challenging times. His positive vision of a dynamic American society, capable of innovating to combat a global energy crisis, principled in defending Constitutional law and human rights, combines the open and dynamic nature of American democratic culture with an energetic commitment to tackling new challenges, motivating a resurgence of the kind of major projects that will help rebuild and spur our economy.

The distinction between the two candidates’ visions, in this respect, has become even more evident due to the destructive and hollow campaign tactics adopted by Sen. McCain and his party. In a vicious attempt to smear Sen. Obama with some vague responsibility for the actions of individuals over whom he holds no actual responsibility and whose views he has denounced, the campaign of Sen. John McCain has sought to poison the electoral process, distract the minds of voters, and obscure what appears to be an inability to compete in the realm of ideas.

That sort of campaign of distraction is destructive to the healthy functioning of democracy and ignores the basic right of the electorate to govern its elected officials with the advantage of reliable information, firmly in hand. Fudging the truth for political gain can lead to ill-conceived policies that undermine the wellbeing of the nation (the 2003 WMD policy debacle, and ensuing war, are just one example).

Sen. Obama’s approach to domestic and foreign policy is consistently principled and pragmatist, rooted in an understanding of our system of laws, its founding ideals and the nature of our liberties. His policies hint at an underlying philosophy that seeks to do what is necessary to achieve the highest goals of our practical ambition, yet always uphold that essential allegiance to the “better angels of our nature”, work together with those whose collaboration we need and be firm about the rule of law and the fundamentals that give us a moral high-ground in dealing with the broader world.

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Elections, Credit, Fuel Costs, Soil Quality, Water Policy & Access to Food Crucial in 2008

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2008 will be a year in which the integrity of election processes, the quality and resilience of cultivated soils, the availability of credit to consumers, the affordability of homes and rentals, and access to affordable vital staples like food and water, as well as the cost of transportation, will affect economies the world over. Some economic analysts have said the combination of these factors, resulting instability or environmental degradation, and migration of affected populations, could mean the world is facing an unprecedented level of economic precariousness.

2007 saw prices of commodities, ranging from grains, to metals to petroleum, skyrocket, with mining giants like Río Tinto tripling their stock value, and the price of bread in Mediterranean countries like Spain, jumping 40%. The Earth Policy Institute reports that world grain stocks are at an all-time record low, with only about 54 days of consumption available in case of crop failure or demand-driven scarcity. Drinkable water is also frighteningly scarce, with overpumping of fossil aquifers already beyond sustainable and on the rise.

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Water Resource Stress: Global Economic-Ecological Factor for the 21st Century

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more than 1 billion people already face fresh water scarcity;
figure expected to double in 20 years’ time

Water is one of the “fundamental building-blocks of life”, as is often said in science, in biology classrooms, in medicine, theology, environmental policy debates, and in cosmology and space exploration. It is also a commodity whose economic reality is increasingly defined by chronic scarcity and often intensely uneven distribution.

One of the most vital problems regarding the global water supply is the fact that we are already over-exploiting it, draining vital fluvial systems and ancient underground aquifers that cannot be replenished. This, coupled with the population boom and increasing industrialization, urbanization and consumerization of emerging economies, means global scarcity is fast becoming the rule.

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World’s Languages Disappearing at Alarming Rate: 3,000 Soon Extinct

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Rare words BBC reports may disappear with dying languages: see “In defence of ‘lost’ languages”

  • Coghal — big lump of dead flesh after a wound is opened (Manx)
  • Tkhetsikhe’tenhawihtennihs — I am bringing sugar to somebody (Mohawk: Canada and USA)
  • Puijilittatuq — he does not know which way to turn because of the many seals he has seen come to the ice surface (Inuktitut: Canadian Arctic)
  • Tl’imshya’isita’itlma — he invites people to a feast (Nootka: Canada)
  • Onsra — to love for the last time (Boro: NE India and Bangladesh)
  • Sjonvarp — television (Faroese: a language in good health)
  • Nartutaka — small plum-like fruit for which there is no English word (Wangkajunga: central Australia)
  • Th’alatel — a device for the heart (Halkomelem: Canada)

HALF OF ALL KNOWN LANGUAGES MAY DISAPPEAR BY 2100, MORE THAN 3,000 CULTURES LOST

The world’s three most widely-spoken languages, English, Spanish and Mandarin, each enjoy more than 450 million speakers worldwide. These languages are increasingly useful for international business and for diplomacy in an interconnected global society. But languages with fewer than 10 million speakers are now considered “minor” and many long-standing cultures are in danger of disappearing, as only a handful of people remain who can speak them.

In North America, there are now only half the number of indigenous languages spoken as there were 500 years ago, when Europeans began to settle permanently. There are 329 distinct languages spoken in the United States, roughly half indigenous, and yet radical conservatives intent on halting immigration are trying to establish English as the single language in which people are allowed to communicate with their government. Of the 3 major dialects of Lenape, once spoken widely by pre-colonial tribes throughout modern New Jersey, Delaware, New York and Connecticut, only one remains. It is now spoken almost exclusively on reservations in Oklahoma and Ontario, and is largely forgotten by the two youngest generations descended from the Lenape tribes.

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