You CAN see Russia from here.

Anderson Cooper 360 has a fun piece about the Alaskan island of Little Diomede, the one place where Americans can see Russian from their homes. (Click here to read article/watch clip) The following is an excerpt:

“When talking about what she says is her foreign policy experience, Sarah Palin told ABC news “…you can actually see Russia from land here in Alaska, from an island in Alaska.”
That quote made us want to go to that island.

So we did.

The island is called Little Diomede. It looks like a rock plopped into the Bering Strait. Only about 150 Alaskans live on the whole island. And just about two miles away; in full view of every single house on the island is the nation of Russia. Specifically, it is the Russian Island of Big Diomede which sits about 25 miles from the Russian Siberian mainland (which you can also see from the American island.) Most everybody on Little Diomede had relatives who lived on Big Diomede.

But decades ago, the Russian government sent them all to the mainland, and today, Big Diomede is limited to a Russian military presence. It’s also a full day in front of Little Diomede because it’s on the other side of the International Date Line. Little Diomede is fascinating. It looks like the moon would if you built a lunar settlement. It’s full of rocks, dirt, and craters. We were curious if Sarah Palin has ever visited this island. According to the natives, the answer is no.

As a matter of fact, no Alaska governor in the state’s nearly 50 year history has ever visited the remote outpost that still has little running water. We were curious what the Little Diomeders thought about Palin’s claim of foreign policy experience because of the proximity of Siberia. Interestingly, many of these Alaskans had no idea who Sarah Palin was! It turns out they have no TV on the island, and therefore, many don’t follow the news.

The island’s mayor has heard of her though. No American mayor resides in a city closer to Russia than Andrew Milligrock, and he says being two miles from Russia doesn’t give him any foreign policy expertise.

He does say she seems like an okay governor, but exclaims she should probably pay a visit to Little Diomede sometime. It may not help her foreign policy experience says the mayor, but would definitely help her domestic policy experience.”

Dr. Wayne W. Dyer on “Leadership” -how it is defined and who actually leads us during this election season.

I am reading Dr. Wayne W. Dyer’s book, Wisdom of the Ages, today and wanted to share the following passages with anyone who will listen as we close in on election day:

“I am frequently amazed at how many contemporary politicians refer to themselves as “leaders” by virtue of the fact that they hold public office. Historically it is clear that public office holders are seldom the true leaders causing change. For instance, who were the leaders of the Renaissance? Were they the public office holders? Were the leaders the mayors, governors, and presidents of European capitals? No.

The leaders were the artists, writers, and musicians who listened to their hearts and souls and expressed what they heard, leading others to discover a resonating voice within themselves!

(Ever consider the titles you are known by (father, brother, leader, coach, manager) and how you try to live up to them?) ….You may carry the title of mother or father (which is an awesome responsiblity), and your kids may see you as the leader of the family, and thus seek your advice, but remember that what you truly want is for them to be able to say is, “I did it myself,” rather than give you credit. and so, enhance your leadership by being constantly alert to the mistake of thinking that your title makes you a leader….True leaders are not known by titles! It is EGO that loves titles!”

[In this passage, Dr. Dyer’s line of thinking is inspired by the ‘Tao Te Ching’ (meaing ‘the way’), the basis for ‘Taoism,’ written by Sixth Century Chinese Philosopher, LAO-TZU, he expressed this truth about leaders this way:

“True Leaders
are hardly known to their followers.
Next after them are the leaders
the people know and admire;
after them, those they fear;
after them, those they despise.

To give no trust
is to get no trust.

When the work’s done right,
with no fuss or boasting,
ordinary people say,
“Oh, we did it.”

-LAO-TZU (6th century B.C.)

Dr. Dyer follows up with this, “…….True leaders enjoy the trust of others, which is very different from enjoying the perks and flattery and power that the ego insists are the signs of being a leader. You need to give trust to others in order to receive that trust and be a true leader.”

The Buddha on “knowing,” good advice for this Presidential election season?

The following is an excerpt from Dr. Wayne W. Dyer’s outstanding book, Wisdom of the Ages:

Buddha on knowing:
(563 B.C.-483 B.C.) (anything that is still around after 2500 years must have some modicum of value, right?)

“Do not believe what you have heard.
Do not believe in tradition because it it handed down many generations.
Do not believe in anything that has been spoken of many times.
Do not believe because the written statements come form some old sage.
Do not believe in conjecture.
Do not believe in authority or teachers or elders.
But after careful observation and analysis, when it agrees with reason and it will benefit one and all, then accept it and live by it.

–BUDDHA
(363 B.C.-483 B.C.)

At age 29, Prince Siddhartha Gautama (Buddha), seeing the unhappiness, sickness, and death that even the wealthiest and most powerful are subject to in this life, he abandoned the life he was leading in search of a higher truth and a path out of unhappiness, sickness, pain and death.

The key point in this passage is that everything that you carry around with you that you call ‘your belief’ has become your own largely because of the experiences and testimonies of other people. And if it comes to you from a source outside of yourself, regardless of how persuasive the conditioning process might be, and of how many people just like you have worked to convince you of the truth of these beliefs, the fact that it is someone else’s truth means that you receive it with some question marks or doubts.

For example….If I were to attempt to convince you about the taste of a delectable fish, you would perhaps listen but still have your doubts. Were I to show you pictures of this fish, and have hundreds of people come testify about the veracity of my statements, you might become more convinced. But the modicum of doubt would still remain because you hadn’t tasted it. You might accept the truth of its deliciousness for me; but until your taste buds experience the fish, your truth is only a belief based on my truth, on my experience. And so it is with all the well-meaning members of your tribes (churches/civic organizations/families/network of facebook friends), and their tribal ancestors before them.

Just because you have heard it, and it is a long-surviving tradition, and it is recorded over the centuries, and the world’s greatest teachers have endorsed it, those are still not reasons to accept a belief. Remember, “Do not believe it,” as the Buddha instructs.

Rather than using the term “belief,” try shifting to the word “knowing.” When you have direct experience of tasting the fish, you now have a knowing.
That is, you have conscious contact and can determine your truth based on your experience. You know how to swim or ride a bike not because you have a belief, but because you have had direct experience.

You are being reminded by the “enlightened one” of 2500 years ago, to apply this same understanding to your personal and spiritual life. There is a fundamental difference between knowing something and knowing about something. “Knowing about” is another term for belief. “Knowing” is a term reserved for direct experience, which means an absence of doubt.

I understand that the persuasiveness of tribal (community/poitical parties/family/facebook friends :)) influences is exceedingly powerful. You are constantly being reminded of what you should or shouldn’t believe, and what all our tribal members have always believed, and what will happen if you ignore those beliefs. Fear becomes the constant companion of your beliefs, and despite the doubts that you may feel inside, you often adopt these beliefs and make them crutches in your life, while you hobble through your days looking for a way out of traps that have been carefully set by generations of believers before you.

Finally, I want to mention that the Buddha’s conclusion is the only line without the word “believe,” He says when it agrees with reason -that is, when you know it to be true based on your own observation and experience -and it is beneficial to one and all, then and only then, live by it!!!!!!!! 🙂

…..Oh, one more point. I know the idea of resisting the “tribal influence” is often perceived as being callous or indifferent to the experience and teaching of others, particularly those who care the most about you. But, I suggest you read the words of Buddha hear again if that is your only conclusion. He does not speak of rejection, only of being grown-up and mature enough to make up your own mind and live by your knowing, rather than the experiences and testimonies of others.

Foreign Policy dot com releases “Murder Capitals” of the world list today; Reports that Caracas, Venezuela, Cape Town, South Africa, and New Orleans lead world in murder rates.

Click here to read foreignpolicy.com’s report on five cities that stand in a class all their own when it comes to brutal, homicidal violence.

Reported top 5 “Murder Capitals of the World”:

1. Caracas, Venezuela
2. Cape Town, South Africa
3. New Orleans, Louisiana, USA
4. Moscow, Russia
5. Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea

Obama takes lead in Florida, Ohio, and Pennsylvania

The following is an excerpt from an Associated Press filing found here:

Recently trailing or tied, Democrat Barack Obama now leads Republican John McCain in a trio of the most critical, vote-rich states five weeks before the election, according to presidential poll results released Wednesday.

The Democrat’s support jumped to 50 percent or above in Ohio, Florida and Pennsylvania in Quinnipiac University surveys taken during the weekend — after the opening presidential debate and during Monday’s dramatic stock market plunge as the House rejected a $700 billion financial bailout plan.

Combined, these states offer 68 of the 270 electoral votes needed for victory on Election Day, Nov. 4.

Pollsters attributed Obama’s improved standing to the public’s general approval of his debate performance, antipathy toward GOP vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin and heightened confidence in the Illinois senator’s ability to handle the economic crisis.

The fresh polling is the latest troublesome turn for McCain, the Arizona senator who is trying to regain control of the campaign conversation amid increasingly difficult circumstances for Republicans. It comes on the eve of a debate between Palin and her Democratic counterpart, Joe Biden, and as the financial crisis shapes the presidential race in unpredictable ways.

For now and probably for the next month, the race will be entirely about who can best handle an economy in peril.

The war in Iraq, national security and foreign policy issues — McCain’s strengths — have largely fallen by the wayside as each campaign tries to chart a course to the presidency in extraordinarily choppy economic waters.

The new surveys show Obama leading McCain in Florida 51 percent to 43 percent, in Ohio 50 percent to 42 percent and in Pennsylvania 54 percent to 39 percent.

Since 1960, no president has been elected without winning two of those three states.

The results are notable because they show Obama in a strong position in the pair of states that put Bush in the White House in 2000 and kept him there four years later — Florida and Ohio, with 27 and 20 electoral votes, respectively.